Monday, July 27, 2009
My husband is busy marketing his current business while starting two new ones. We have had the joy of joining with him in parades (so much work, but so fun!) and enjoying as much of summer as we can.
I had started out the summer with a 90-day Bible study. This was more of an under-taking than I realized, and am still stuck somewhere in 2 Samuel. All the plans I had, all the "relaxing" I was going to do, got left-out somewhere in the details. Whoever called it the Lazy Days of Summer -- never had kids! The best part is that I have realized I am stronger and more resilient than I ever knew. Even better, though, is the idea that September is just a few weeks away. My girl will be two and my boy will be returning to school once more. This means routine, schedules, and some sense of normalcy once again!
Until then, I am going to continue my summer hiatus. I hope you are enjoying these warm days (if you are experiencing such) and this season in your life. In His Love,
Monday, June 15, 2009
We had a crazy-busy weekend -- and I'm the only one who seems to be exhausted from it! We drove 3 1/2 hours to witness the commencement of my sister from University with her degree in teaching (way to go, Sis!). Drove home in time to catch the end of a graduation party and rest up before a birthday party yesterday. Whew! As I sit here with my coffee, my grocery list, and the laundry I am successfully ignoring, I ponder this verse:
Holy: different, distinct, set apart
I was created in the image of God. God is holy, therefore I am to focus my attention and energy on being holy: different, distinct. My days feel the same, but God has created me special, just for this very purpose. My kids drive me down the line on the Crazy Train, but God has set me aside as their mom. Some days I wonder if my efforts are for naught, but God reminds me that in this season, I am where I am to be, doing what I am to be doing.
Yesterday in church, we studied Proverbs 3 (5-6 NIV, emphasis mine):
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
How is your Monday?
How do you rely on your own strength?
How can you or do you rely on God for your strength?
Monday, June 8, 2009
"Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah
and bring the Israelites our of Egypt?
Exodus 3:11 (NIV)
As I read about Moses and his journey to bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, I couldn't help but feel relieved that this holy man felt so inadequate. Even the author of Hebrews makes note of his faith and perseverance. He went where God told him and did what God told him. Although, he did question God, ("Who am I, that I should go...?"), second guess God, (he tried to get water out of a rock from his own power, not God's) and even complained about the people he was chosen to lead.
How do you second guess yourself?
What do you do on your own power, and not on God's?
Do you complain, even though where you are is right where you know you want and should be?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
"Your name will no longer be Jacob,
but Israel, because you have struggled with God
and with men and have overcome."
Like a well-written daytime drama, the book of Genesis is an amazing book to read. Deception, thievery, murder, love, lust, redemption, promise -- and that's all in the first six chapters! Right now, in my 90-day reading plan, I am in the middle of the Jacob (Israel)/Joseph saga.
Abraham (Jacob's grandfather) lied about Sarah being his wife, then slept with her handmaid thinking he was "helping" God fulfill the promise given to him.
Isaac (Jacob's dad) also lied about Rebekah being his wife and was deceived by both his wife and son.
Jacob stole his brother's birthright and received the blessing intended for Esau. He then ran away and married two sisters, one he loved the other...not so much (although I doubt he complained too much as she did give him 5 sons plus another 2 with her handmaid!) In all Jacob has 12 sons by 4 different women. He and his father-in-law played an early form of Survivor: who can outwit, outsmart, outplay, outlast the other in a 20 year battle for Rachel's hand in marriage.
As I read about these amazing people -- amazing because I wonder how they ever thought they could get away with the hideousness of the behavior -- I am humbled. God chose them to give birth to a nation, the nation of Israel. He promised Abraham and Isaac that their descendants would out number the stars in the sky and the sand under their feet. (Genesis 17) The drama plays out much like Days of Our Lives or All My Children or One Life to Live. The legacy left by these men was one of adultery and deceit, yet God was very present in their life. Jacob wrestled with God himself and lived to tell about it.
Even today I find myself wrestling with God. Should I find work outside the home? Should I try to find work I can do from home? Should I TRUST Him to provide us within the lifestyle he has given us? Should I take on more volunteer work or less?
(Thankfully God hasn't pushed my hip out of its socket to remind me of our wrestling match! (Genesis 32))
God's clear message seems to be this: I AM. He was and is and always will be. He has always provided for us, he is providing for us even now and he will never stop providing for us. A gentle reminder that though he allows us to live life to the fullest, he is there to catch us when we fall.
How are you living? Are you living with caution or with passion?
How does God use you?
Have you wrestled with God lately?
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
"I am the God of your father Abraham.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bless you and will increase the number of your
descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.
Today my husband called me and told me of a business opportunity he encountered while having lunch. I could hear it in his voice, trembling as he told me of a lifelong dream and the possibility of it coming true. YES! I wanted to scream in to the phone, but instead said, "Go for it."
But I don't have any formal training. I'm really particular about how I want things. But I'm trying to (change) my life, and this is kind of the opposite of that...
And your point is...?
I can't. You can. Please help.
A small prayer my pastor taught a group of moms to get them through their day, but I felt it was appropriate for my beloved.
No, you cannot do this; but GOD can. He gave you this passion and this dream. He will give you the way and the means. Don't run from it. Embrace it.
Even now, I pray this into your day: "DO NOT BE AFRAID, FOR I AM WITH YOU" -- don't fear your passion. Love it, embrace it, cherish it, know that the One who created you, knit you together, also gave this passion to you for a purpose.
Monday, June 1, 2009
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
Where did May go? Can anyone tell me? I seem to have misplaced it somewhere around here. Just last week I was traveling to Idaho to see my family for a combined Mothers' Day/graduation celebration weekend. I was blessed to be with my mom on Mother's Day -- which is rare since we live almost 400 miles apart -- plus the bonus of witnessing her receive her double master's degree (Way to go, Mom!).
So that was Mother's Day and now people are telling me it's June 1. Excuse me? What? Where did the last three weeks go? Yikes! Why is it that we always have the best of intentions? Or is it just me? Every day seems to be filled with "need to's" and "must have's" and "don't forget to..." I have a list daily of, as my dad likes to call them, round-to-it's. As in, "I'll get 'round to it." Laundry, dishes, filing, paying bills, school, play-dates, end of year celebrations, start of barbecue season, were we going to plant a garden in there somewhere?
I find the busier I get the less I lean on Him and the more I lean on Me. Big mistake. Huge! I run around in circles much like a puppy dog or a hamster, not understanding why I get no where really fast. Did I invite her to church? Did I reach out to them in their time of hurt? Did I empty the dishwasher? This is too much for one person. And this is about the time that God gently taps me on the shoulder and says, "Child of mine, when are you going to stop running? I want to help you, but you must listen to my voice."
So, in the quiet moments I can steal away today, I am forcing myself to stop and listen. Listen to the voice that says, "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10a) Yes, there are bills waiting to be paid and laundry waiting to be folded and a childhood waiting to be lived and molded. In the here and now, God is asking me to trust only in Him. Not in my own strength or my lists or my over-bearing guilt! Just Him and me and the Word.
This summer I am putting all my books down except for one. I have challenged myself to reading the Bible in 90 days. Since I forgot today was June 1, I'm a little behind (but the day's not over yet!). I will keep you posted as to my progress. If you would like to join me, go to this website: http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/readingplans/index.php/today?plan=6&version=31
You can read that days passage on the site or pick up your own bible and read through that day's selected text. I believe there are about 12 pages per day, so there is quite a bit of reading. I have decided to put down all other reading to focus on this task. Please pray for me and with me as I begin on this journey. As you can see by this post I have issues with stick-to-it-ivness, lists, must do's, etc. I am praying that this becomes part of my journey, instead of one more thing to do in my day. More on that tomorrow.
In His Love,
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
During this "rainy season" (which tends to last from October to June) I often think of Noah and his ark. How did Noah feel when all he heard for forty days was rain pounding on the roof of the ark? Did he have moments of craziness or was he able to surrender all over to God, the one who was keeping him safe even this moment of absolute destruction? Did he mourn for the souls being lost in the flood, or was he able to remove himself and thank God for saving his wife, sons, and their families?
Like a spoiled child, I sit inside pouting at the rain ruining my day. Then, last night, as I was getting the kids ready for their nightly baths, my son calls me into the living room:
"MOM! Look! It's a rainbow!"
I peek out the window to the fullest, brightest rainbow I have ever seen. And not just a little curve of one. No, we got to see the full bow and all six (six? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and, don't forget, purple, too! -- yes, six!) colors as bright as God intended them to be.
Genesis 9:13,15(b)-16 (NIV)
My spirit automatically calmed and I realized that though the rain -- literal and proverbial -- may pour down, God will never send a flood again. He has given his promise. He is my constant, my all-consuming strength, and my help in time of need. I read this verse this morning and I got stuck on the word "remember." Does God really forget? He is Alpha and Omega -- beginning and end. He was and is and will be. Does he really need a reminder? No. He doesn't, but we do. God, who knows us inside and out, knew us as we were being "knit together in (our) mother's womb." (Psalm 139:13) The God of forever doesn't need reminding. He wants us to turn from ourselves and back to him. He wants us to get on the boat.
What is the rain in your life?
What is the rainbow, the reminder of God's eternal promise, in your life?
Monday, May 4, 2009
"Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)
This past weekend I found myself playing the part, once again, of the single-mom. My husband was out-of-state for some "man-time." He and a group of his buddies go to California every year to be guys. I don't mind because I'm not very good at being one (a guy), so this is his version of re-charging. They go to baseball games, roller coaster parks to see how many roller coasters they can ride in one day (last year they set their record at 44 roller coasters in one day), and eat nothing but guy food for a whole weekend.
Of course, this means that I am left by myself with the two kids. We are used to be alone during the day -- and a normal day is 12 - 14 hours long -- so this wasn't really a stretch. Unfortunately, my body chose to shut down and take on a sinus infection over this particular weekend. Awesome! Many times over the weekend I pondered the consequences of hiding in my bed and let the kids run amok. You see, the thing with cold medicine is that it requires hours of consecutive sleep.
My husband arrived back home this morning just long enough to shower and run back out the door to work. The kids are going crazy and I'm driving the car! We are tired and the week has just begun. I look to Him for my comfort and strength.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Does this make my life perfect and serene? Ha! Far from it. I know God, the one true God, has given me eternal life through his son, Jesus Christ. Yet, I still struggle with faith, or trusting that God -- the giver of life, master and creator of everything -- knows what he's doing when it comes to my life. This week, I have had to purposefully say, "God, you know what you are doing. I trust in you."
This morning I was reading in Deuteronomy 31. I realized a theme was present and had to do a quick search for related passages. (I use www.biblegateway.com) When I see a theme present, especially in a given passage, I get a little giddy. Our pastor always points out that God does this when it is really important and he really wants to drive the point home. Well, this week I have seen a similar current flowing through my reading: God will take care of me, no matter what.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV, emphasis mine)
"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8
"No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." Joshua 1:5
God's promise to us: he will never leave us. Never. God is forever, so never is pretty much...well, the opposite end of forever. If you can wrap your mind around, accept the fact, that God is, was, and always will be then it should be easy to move to he will never leave you. I have had some minor trials this week, but nothing that a little mommy-time out couldn't handle (there is a good reason for locks on the bathroom door).
Pick up your Bible and see what you can find in it. Do you see the story of love woven into the tapestry? Do you see God's promise, eternal life, ebbing through pages? I pray you are able to see God's presence in your life today and every day.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Matthew 6:25, 33-34 (NIV, emphasis mine)
Worry. Is your life full of worry? Mine is!
My son, 4-and-a-half-going-on-thirteen, has been very giving in the area of worry. He loves to run, jump, and climb which leads to falls, scrapes, cuts, and many, many tears. I'm learning to wipe them away so that I can see where he is running off to next. Once, while at the county fairgrounds before the official opening of the fair, he decided to "play" in a broom closet. He failed to tell his father and I where he was going; we both thought the other knew where he was. Fifteen (long) minutes later we found him. He was a little dirty, but otherwise had no clue the ruckus he had caused.
A few months, and a new baby, later, we had to rush him to the emergency room after he had an allergic reaction to a nut product. I had to inject him with a shot of epinephrine at home before driving he and his four-month old little sister to the hospital.
My husband owns his own business. This means he works long hours and we never know when or where our paycheck is coming from. I know we are blessed to have such an opportunity in times such as these, but I daily have to go before God and say, "You are in charge! I don't know what's going on, so I trust that you do." He hasn't let us down yet.
This morning I was directed to the verse above, God's little reminder that "it's all good!" He takes care of the least of these -- the flowers, the birds -- how much better does he care for us, those he made in his image. I've heard it explained this way: God knows what we need. We are to seek (pursue with a passion!) his kingdom (his will for our life), and the things we need will be given to us.
We are to pursue God with a passion! Run after him! Love Him with everything you have! If I am running after God, I am not worrying about what I will eat for dinner tonight or if the clothes my kids wear are going to make through one more washing. If I am chasing after God, then he will take care of me when the bills are past due and I can change my name to Old Mother Hubbard.
I realize it is easy to say, "Do not worry." Jesus said it three times in this passage (also in verse 31), so this makes me think it's kind of important. Really. Do not worry. God already knows what is going to happen. Trust him to walk with you through it.
What are you worrying about today?
How can you or do you give it over to God? (Write it down, pray, talk it out, etc.)
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Last week a very dear friend of mine was given some devastating news. Her life is forever changed. The one thing she keeps telling me is this: God has a purpose in this. I don't know what it is, but I trust in Him. As I watch her adjusting her emotional and mental attitudes daily, I am in awe at her strength and perseverance during this time of trial and heartache. She, admittedly, wants to crawl in a hole; but keeps going for the sake of her daughter and for fear of not coming back out.
I have been down into the Hole of Depression many times. Sometimes the light at the top looks like a speck of dust, and sometimes it appears closer, like the sun on a summer's day. And some days -- to borrow from a familiar phrase -- the light feels like it could be an on-coming train! As a Christian, I am told to "pray" about it. Christians are not supposed to feel "bad," they are supposed to be "shiny, happy people." No Lie could be further from the Truth. Christians are not inherently Good People. We are saved by grace, loved with mercy, and forgiven unconditionally.
The verse above was posted on the wall in one of the classrooms my church uses for Sunday school and small-group meetings. I took this version from The Message for two reasons: one, I love that two of the words are partnered with exclamation points ("Strength! Courage!"). He is not only commanding us to have strength and courage but to be strength (!) and courage (!). The second reason I chose this text was for the last line: "GOD, your God, is with you ever step you take." The GOD of all gods, my GOD, is with me every step. When I fall. When I turn the wrong direction. When I get sidetracked with my way instead of His way. When I fail. When I feel as if the world is against me. When I am frustrated and take it out on my family When the sun is shining and all is right with the world -- He is with me.
I pray you take comfort today knowing that no matter how deep or wide the hole is which you want to crawl into, His love is deeper, wider, and more infinite. He is in there with you, holding your hand, wiping your tears, loving you. And while you are occupied with finding a way out, he is molding you into who you are purposed to be.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Except when you don't have it or aren't in it or have been hurt by it.
Have you ever been hurt by love? We all have stories of pain and heartache. I know my parents love me. My childhood home is the one, safe place I can fall; but even they have done many things to (unintentionally) hurt me. My father is a recovered alcoholic, fourteen years sober. There were many dark years before his sobriety when I felt abandoned by my father. Whatever took his mind off of the need for a drink also took his focus off of me: marathon bike-rides, wood-working, working, eating, cooking...Through this, I know my father loves me, even if his ways are not always clear.
Which is why I am thankful that my Heavenly Father's ways are clear. In 1 John, chapter four, John tells us that love come from God. If you love, you know God; if you do not love, you do not know God. Sure, that sounds easy enough. Keep reading. God showed us he loved us by sacrificing his son for us, for you and me.
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 John 3:16 (NIV)
As a mom, that is one hard pill to swallow. I struggle with the thought of giving up my child to save the entire world from certain death. That means anyone who has lived, is living, or will live. I struggle with giving up my own life! Daily I have to say to God, "Okay, here we go again. Please show me how to love like you love. Mold me and use me. Show me how to love on my (husband, kids, friends, strangers) today. "
So, really, you have not been hurt by love. No you have been hurt by __________ (name withheld to protect the unaware). True love, agape (unconditional, sacrificial) love, does not hurt. Agape love is the love of all loves. Love really is a splendid thing! You are LOVED with the love above all other loves. Love sacrifices, love protects, love trusts, love hopes, love perseveres, (1 Corinthians 13). If you are experiencing anything else in your current relationships, you are not "in" love. Love is not "in". Love is. Period.
How do you love? Is your love conditional or sacrificial?
How can you show someone (a stranger?) love today?
Have a great weekend!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
On Monday, I had a friend ask if I could watch her eldest son for a few hours while she took her youngest to the burn unit in Portland. He had burned his hand at a family dinner the day before and needed a follow-up visit with a special burn-doctor to make sure it wasn't infected or worse than they originally diagnosed. He is okay with first and second degree burns, but has to have a bandage on his hand for a while.
Then, on Tuesday, another friend called asking for help. She had to go into the hospital and needed someone to care for her daughter for an unknown amount of time. "Absolutely, not a problem!" Twenty-six hours later, I said good-bye and collapsed into my easy-chair.
Today was back to normal, so I took the kids to the park for a little picnic and play-time. They have been so patient this week sharing their beds, their toys, and their momma. I often felt like a chicken-sans-head, and relied heavily on God's grace and strength to get me through. Even now, I am amazed at God's provision: allowing me to be a stay-at-home-mom to care for my kiddos, knowing the time and the place when friends would call out for help and making me ready and available, covering the entire week with grace and mercy.
This afternoon, while the sun is shining so beautifully outside, I went for a swim in the Word, and lapped up every drop, much like Augustus Gloop in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Augustus loved the chocolate so much, he just fell in, head first and got sucked up through the tube. Good stuff! The Word is just like that! Once you start you just can't stop:
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.
"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."
"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
1 Corinthians 16:13
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Do you see what I mean? Where do I start? With the chocolate truffles? The chocolate covered strawberries? Or maybe the river of flowing chocolate? Grace is amazing like that. It covers us, "abundantly" according to 1 Timothy chapter 1, "along with faith and love" because of Jesus Christ.
When I am tired and just can't -- can't cook one more dinner, can't tie one more shoe, can't change one more diaper -- God gives me a little nudge and says, "I AM."
Friday, April 10, 2009
Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?
The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
on him, on him.
He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn't true.
Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many "righteous ones,"
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends
(New International Version)
My prayer is this: that you know Jesus Christ as your savior, your Beloved, your friend. I pray that you will claim Him as Lord over your life. I pray that you will know the sweet fragrance of His presence in your day. I pray you know that you were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139), with passion for a purpose.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
The first *, "'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!'" came from Ecclesiastes 1:2. This is King Solomon -- one of the richest, most powerful, wisest men of all time -- speaking. He had everything, but knew it all meant nothing without God. In chapter three of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon writes,
Wow. This man had everything, yet he fully acknowledged that God is forever. God is in control of it all.
The second set of * came from 1 Thessalonians 5:16, The Message. Michelle, from Taste and See, pointed out to me that we are not only to give thanks for all circumstances, but in all circumstances. I can be thankful for my children, and their precious little voices they use to scream at each other. With those same voices, they sing, talk, and giggle. And I am thankful I get to hear it all. Thank you, Michelle, for bringing this to my attention.
This morning I was perusing the book of Psalms. If you ever need a pick-me-up, read the Psalms. King David had some crazy stuff going on in his life. His enemies were constantly trying to kill him, he had an affair with a married woman, his children hated him...makes Reality TV look like Disneyland! Yet, David poured out his heart to God. He told him the good, the bad, and the ugly. No, not everything is pretty and praise-worthy. Psalm 13 starts, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?" Ouch! I can totally relate to that. There are times when I say, "Um, yea, God? Hi. Remember me? Little ol' me sittin' over here, miserable, just trying to figure out this thing-called-Life." I can think of many times over my life that I felt lonely and alone.
God hears my cries? Even me? I cry out for help and God hears it, "into his ears." This isn't something God overheard one day. ("What is that noise?") This is sound going directly to the King himself. He hears. He knows. He hurts.
"The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry...He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me...He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (Psalm 18:7,16, 19 emphasis mine)
Yes, God delights in you. You were made with passion for a purpose. You are loved. You are the blushing bride, the valiant prince. You are made in God's image. You are amazing and beautiful.
Whatever you are, wherever you go, you are loved, cherished, and desired. He delights in you. You are an amazing creation. Don't forget it.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
After spending a week as a "single" mom (Grace and Mercy to all of you out there who do the single-parent thing on a daily basis!), I am ready to run away screaming. Today I tried to brave the grocery store, thinking that a trip out of the house would do us all a bit of good. I was wrong. My daughter didn't like her brother touching the shopping cart, which he was obediently keeping his hand on. He was asked, by me, to keep his hand on said shopping cart after launching his toy necklace across the store and then diving after it. (Cement floor? What cement floor?) By the end of the second store -- and about an hour of shrieking on her part -- I was ready to do anything to make it stop. Snacks? Nope, thrown on the floor. Threats? Empty, useless. Bargaining? Meaningless! ("'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!'"*)
Today is just one of those days. The sky is dark, my nerves are shot, and my patience is thin. The kiddos are sleeping. I am on my third cup of (decaf) coffee, and I've already made it through four Oreo cookies. I opened up my Bible, desperately searching -- but not really believing I would find -- something to give me a boost, anything to make the rest of the day more bearable. Can you believe this is what came up?
"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live."**
Some days I find it hard to be "joyful always." I know I forget to "give thanks in all circumstances." (Do you think He really meant all?) And I know that prayer is the last thing on my mind when all I want to do is make it out of the grocery store with all pieces of my mind, body and soul intact. All I want to do is sit and be still, as I am told to do; but so often my life is a race: how quickly can I shower, make breakfast, feed the kids, run out the door, get to _____________ in time to come back home for lunch, naps, and fix dinner. Should dinner be nutritious or delicious? Did they eat enough vegetables today? Why is it so quiet?
I came across a book last summer at a used book sale titled, "14,000 things to be happy about," by Barbara Ann Kipfer. The book is a list the author started when she was in the 6th grade and finally published almost twenty years ago. I love this book. If you ever come across it, please pick it up. You will be happy just owning it, I promise. This little book and the verse above cause me to pause and understand life's little oddities, little idiosyncrasies.
I am thankful for:
my children, who daily keep me gracious & humble
my husband, who provides for us so willingly and unselfishly
my friends, who love me despite my crazy thoughts & moods
my family, who grounds me
books, which take me to my Happy Place
chocolate, which keeps me in my Happy Place
coffee, especially when enjoyed in the company of any of the above
Please don't misunderstand me. In no way do I want to minimize the importance of true thanksgiving. I truly am thankful for all this and so much more. This is where I start, with the little things, for it is the little things I pray for. I pray daily for patience, for grace, for peace which passes all understanding, for mercy and humility.
What makes you happy? What are you thankful for today? In what circumstances do you find it most challenging to be joyful?
Monday, March 30, 2009
Okay, maybe it's just me.
We will be traveling back tomorrow, so it will be a day or two before I am back online. In the meantime, tell me what you think about:
How do they relate? How have you been affected by one or all? Are these earned or given?
Think about it.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Here is a thought to chew on:
Friday, March 20, 2009
*Greek hagiazo (set apart for sacred use or make holy)
I recently read a news article in which a person's true character had come screaming through. This person had put on a facade for the public, allowing people to believe they were kind, gentle, and of humble spirit. Unfortunately, this past week, through various media outlets, we have seen another side: crude, cruel, and arrogant. Willing to sacrifice the character of another for the fulfillment -- even betterment -- of themselves. I felt outrage that this person could so easily transfer from one front to another.
Then I realized how often I do the same thing: speak with firm-but-gentle words to my husband or kids when in public; but behind closed doors my voice tends to raise in volume and tenor. I may come across as a selfless person to the church when I volunteer in my child's classroom, but really I'm just making sure I'm doing my part, keeping guilt at bay.I may speak of my Faith to one friend who shares my belief, but don't "speak Jesus" to the one who does not believe. I do not want to appear fake, after all. I wouldn't want to be judged for my character after-all.
What if we all lived our lives as if living under a media-microscope? What if we lived Truth -- not goodness and mercy; rather, true to our selves. What if, rather than fearing what other people thought, we lived as if their lives depended on it? I, for one, fail at this on a daily basis. I constantly worry about what other people think of me. Jesus was not crucified on a cross worried about what people thought about him. Was it easy for him? No, he was fully human, after all. He was also fully GOD. Mercy and grace, love and humility in their finest form.
Do you live in the world, or by the world's standards?
Which face are your friend's most familiar with? Co-workers? Family?
I encourage you to live in the Truth today.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
(When you get me, you get all of me.)
Thank you for your patience as I play with this new endeavor. I was never one for fancy, but I do have the occasional desire to feel pretty.
Don't we all?
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Several months ago my husband approached me about taking part in a weight-loss challenge. The winner of the challenge would win a portion of a pot of money. Good stuff, and appropriate since I still had some post-baby weight to lose. We would enter the challenge together, instant advocates and adversaries. Even though I didn't believe I would win the challenge, I still gave it my all. I ate right, made it a point to get to the gym at least three times a week, and made small lifestyle changes where needed. I cut out the bad carbohydrates and started eating more vegetables and protein. Through this, I was able to lose over twenty pounds.
Two months after ending the challenge, I have yet to make it back into the gym. My eating is erratic at best. My only exercise is walking the kids two blocks to our neighborhood park, where I watch them run and play. I know I feel better when I exercise and eat right, so why can't I just do it?
Yesterday I sat down to write a post, but didn't feel "inspired." Sure, I had plenty of thoughts running like a bullet train through my head: none of them stopping long enough to capture, but buzzing through at suicidal rates, dying before I could grab a hold of one and put it down on paper (or screen, as it were). I kept trying to leave myself open to inspiration, but walked away empty and confused.
This morning I started off on the similar track, frustrated with my alleged writer's block. I kept thinking, "I do not do what I want to do." I am not writing, therefore I am not doing what I want to be doing. As I chewed on this all morning, I realized I was afraid. I was afraid to take that leap of faith, to walk the path-unseen. Self-doubt and critical thinking filled my head: what if I write something that offends someone? What if I say something wrong? What if I come across fake or flowery (not that there's anything wrong with flowery!). I am not, by nature, a flowery person. Can I be something that I am not?
The second epiphany came as I was telling a friend of my woes. I realized that God is SO much bigger than my doubts and fears. Again, I say this without floral and fauna. So often I find myself stressing over the details, when all he asks me to do is obey. If I am afraid, then I do not really trust him. For too long I have tried to do things my way and failed. This time, I am going to be still and listen.
"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
2 Timothy 1:7
Monday, March 16, 2009
I tell you, I was as nervous as a high school freshman entering her first day of school. I knew what to do -- by the time you get to high school, the school part is old hat! -- but unsure how to do it. I went by myself (very un-comfort-zone-ish of me!), I went unprepared (no business cards, no proposals, no idea what I was doing), but I went. Here is what I gleaned from my day:
From Robin Gunn
*STAY THE COURSE! No matter what God has put in front of you, don't try to go around the obstacle, instead stick to it and he will see you through to the end.
*TAKE A RISK! Give yourself back to God, make your work a living sacrifice to God. You are responsible for doing your (creative) best. God is in the details.
*SHOW UP! God is the Alpha and the Omega. He was, is and is to come. He is FOREVER. God does not show up. (Good point, Robin!) We show up to do his work. Do something that doesn't make sense. Stop comparing yourself to others. God has a plan for you.
From Cindy Hannan
Cindy co-authored Sisterchicks, Take Flight! with Robin Gunn.
*(from her personal prayer journal) "I did not call you to succeed, I called you to obey." Not everything we do is going to be for success. We may not even be recognized for what we do. God calls us to do it anyway.
*Say, "Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord! Yes! Yes, Lord!"
From Patricia Rushford
Patricia taught a workshop at the conference. She is a nurse, counselor, author and speaker.
*LET GOD LEAD.
*GOD CAN USE OUR EXPERIENCES TO HELP OTHERS.
*PURSUE THE CALL
*ONLY GOD IS THE PERFECT PARENT
The last one had nothing to do with writing, or purpose, or anything conference related. I wrote it down to remind myself that I am going to screw up, I am going to fail. God loves me anyway and he will not.
I went into the weekend with full expectations. I knew I would have a certain amount of hob-nobbing to do. I knew I would be asked about my work. I knew I would flounder and flail like fish, fresh out of the life-sustaining water it lives in.
I walked away from the conference over-whelmed with all that I still have to do. I started questioning myself, "Is this really what you were made for? Is this really what you want to do?" I started to answer "NO!" but then stopped and realized that I was saying no because I was too afraid to say "YES!" I don't like saying yes to something when I have no idea what I am doing.
Last week, as I was whining to a friend of mine about how grossly unprepared I was for this venture, she reminded me of Indiana Jones. In the third installment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones is walking out of a tunnel and straight off a cliff! Oh, what is our hero to do? He can't jump, the chasm is too wide. He can't use his trusty bullwhip, there is nothing for it to attach to. What to do? WHAT TO DO?
That's all. Just a little leap of faith. Indiana Jones holds his father's diary (yes, I've seen the movie a few times) over his chest, closes his eyes, holds one foot out and...
...finds himself standing on solid ground! (WHOA!) There was a path there all along, he just didn't see it. Although, throw some sand on it, and -- look! There it is!
What is your chasm? What will you do today to take that leap of faith?
Friday, March 13, 2009
My little girl, still this side of two, is very passionate. I can see it in her already, even without the beautiful strawberry blonde hair. She often feels she is being wronged (as many eighteen-month old children do) and sets out to right the situation. Recently her brother, almost three years and twenty pounds her senior, wouldn't move out of the chair he had been occupying. She didn't like the fact that he wouldn't budge, so she resorted to screaming (which was a break from the biting she normally uses). Just as I turned to correct the situation, I saw this: from the depths of her toes, with all the energy she could muster, my little girl balled up her fists and screamed at her brother as loud and as long as her precious little lungs would allow. In turn, my sensitive little boy, her big brother, started crying at the shear enormity of the sound emitted from her mouth. I didn't really blame him.
Throughout history we see many examples of what passion has driven people to do: burning men and women at the stake, claiming they were witches; capturing and enslaving an entire nation of people for the color of their skin or their religious choice; wars, marriages, slavery, murder...the list is more than I care to think of. Yet, passion is what drives us. Passion carries us from bellhop to general manager to president. Passion takes us from student to teacher to principal to superintendent. Passion pushes us into the arms of a lover. Passion feeds children and holds the homeless.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord not for men.” (Colossians NIV)
I once confused purpose with passion. I didn’t think I could have one without the other. This is partly true. Here is what I am discovering:
I am a mom. This is one of my purposes in life. Am I passionate about it? No, not really. I love being a mom. I am thankful daily for my children and the lessons they teach me. I wouldn’t give them up nor trade them for anything in the world. I love them with everything I have, yet I know I do not put everything I have into being their mom. I do not spend my days playing with them, tutoring them, training them in the ways they should be. The house has to get cleaned sometime! I am there to guide and direct, but more in a “hands-off” kind of way.
I love writing. I love reading. I love books. I am passionate about all of the above. My home would be filled with thousands of books if I could. I would spend my days writing and pondering and writing some more. I shed a tear every time my daughter tears her board-books apart. (I’m still not sure how that happens. I really thought those things were kid-proof!)
I am passionate about women: I want women to know they are loved. I want women to know they were made with passion for a purpose.
Do you know what you were made for? Do you know what you are passionate about? What makes you get out of bed (besides personal hygiene or small children)? What drives you to get through the day? I urge to find it. Find your passion. Then, on a small scale, fan the flame. Feed it until you find your niche. You are worth it. You are a beautiful Creation of the Almighty and he doesn’t make mistakes.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
So often as moms, we find ourselves wandering about life, darting here and there pushing our limits of sanity and patience. What am I doing? Where are my keys? You mean show and tell was today!?
After the birth of my son four years ago I knew I had found my purpose. I had finally become a mom. This was what my life was lived for. I had arrived! That thought lasted for all of about two weeks. Then the collic set in, along with the real diapers, the sleeplessness, the feedings at insane hours, and midnight trips to the grocery store for anything which might make the screaming stop. I felt inadequate as a mom, and lost sight of why I was put on this earth.
Fours years and two children later my perspective is finally back in line with reality. A counselor once told me that being a mom is a role I play, along with daughter, wife, friend, etc. I will be a mommy to these little buggers for a short time, and then they will grow up and not need so much of me. What else am I? Who am I?
This I know: I know I have a purpose. I hold onto that belief with all my energy, because if I am here wandering about, filling the void, what is the point? I know I was purposed to be a mom to my kids. I know I was purposed to write. I know this because I have been making the wrong choices for so long that the Creator finally tapped me on the shoulder and said,
"I'm here with you, but you should be going in that direction."
I have tried working in hotels.
I have tried working in human resources.
I have tried working in an insurance office.
I have tried working as an accountant.
I have tried sitting and doing nothing.
Everything has brought me back to this moment. Writing is my purpose, it is my passion (more on that tomorrow). The verse above (Exodus 9:16) is taken from when the Lord was speaking to Pharaoh through Moses. He was once again telling the Pharaoh to release the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt. The Lord told Pharaoh that He (the Lord) could have easily raised his hand against the Pharaoh and wiped him and all his friends off the earth. Instead, he used Pharaoh and his hard heart to show him the true power of God so there would be no doubt.
Okay, so if God chooses to use Pharaoh -- and a man like Moses! -- for his purposes, maybe he has a plan for me, too. I may have only one purpose, and maybe I've been running from it. Maybe I have several. I don't know, and I may not know this side of heaven. My prayer today is that I will live in the moment for my purpose.
(Right now, my purpose is to find out why my daughter is not happy with the cereal and raisins I gave her for a snack.)