Sunday, December 5, 2010


I have few words of introduction for this video; everything I write, I delete. I am at a loss for words. Watch it and you will see why. God continues to bring to my attention the command to His people to care for widows and orphans. As I sit on my bed surrounded by wrapping paper, gifts -- the "necessary" trappings of the season -- I'm wondering how I'm responding to that call. I know beyond knowing that I need to take this to Him to receive my marching orders.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


We had an unexpected adventure last night. I walked downstairs and stumbled into my family room ... turned wading pool. Apparently my washing machine (which has had a vendetta against me since it first came to live here) had decided to launch an attack. Water was EVERYWHERE! In seconds, our visions of putting the kids to bed early and cozying up by the fire were replace with rolled up cuffs, wet feet, and an evening of discovering just how far water can travel through a carpet pad. While it was not how I had planned to spend my night, pushing a carpet extractor back and forth for two hours supplied ample time to reflect on just how much I have to be thankful for.

I know people who lean toward the Pollyanna outlook on life can be really annoying :-) (perhaps because it seems to minimize real frustrations and struggles?). However, since we have an Eeyore in the house, I've tried to go beyond the norm to model finding the positive in life's less than pleasant circumstances. It doesn't come easily, but it's necessary. This week God has been pointing out through many different avenues just how blessed we are. It's easy for me to become consumed with my own little world where everyone looks and acts much like me and forget there are lots of folks out there who are less fortunate. It's easy to recognize their plight on a high level, but when names and specific people are associated with those needs, and I'm faced with the reality of families who lack even the simplest items (like a pen and paper), it's hard to grapple with. So last night as I was squishing back and forth on my carpet I was thanking God for a home with pumpkin pie in the oven and a husband who was willing to roll up his cuffs and help me out. I was also beyond thankful for Al at Home Depot who stayed open after hours to rent me a carpet fan and carpet machine. Don't know what we would have done without his generosity and willingness to help, especially on Thanksgiving-Eve. We'd probably still be down there with the shop vac. I'm thankful for friends and neighbors and family who offer support, laughter, friendship, love. I'm thankful for three healthy rambunctious kiddos. I'm thankful for my husband who loves me more than I deserve, cherishes, provides for me. And above all I'm thankful for a Lord and Saviour who redeemed me, continuously forgives, has clothed me in righteousness, hides me in the shelter of His wings, calls me daughter. I am blessed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Invisible Servants

Yesterday we had the delightful experience of having a kiddo "cast up her accounts" (had to use a new term I just discovered in a period novel!) in the middle of watching The Polar Express in Imax. Ugh. I readily admit that stomach issues make me shudder, and I was beyond thankful that Daddy was there to care for her.

This morning as I was reviewing our adventure, I was struck by one individual I ran into. I had been trying to locate garbage bags for soiled clothes. Several employees were less than helpful - cordial but, as Anne of Green Gables would say, lacking the imagination to find what I needed. Finally someone radioed the custodian. Enter a short man pushing the typical rolling cart fitted with garbage can, cleaning supplies, and the coveted garbage bags. Had I passed him on the street, he would not have stood out. He was a face with a job who would have blended into the background. Yet this man's behavior continues to sit in the forefront of my mind. He was generous with his supplies and service, yes, but he also freely gave encouragement. Telling him he may want to disinfect the bathroom, I apologized profusely for leaving him with any mess. We tried to clean up after ourselves the best we could, but still. I felt awful that someone else would have to deal with our yuckiness. I can't put into words this man's spirit. He fell over himself to assure me not to worry. It was his job. Repeatedly he said "That's what I'm here for." For this overwhelmed, grossed-out mama, his words and kindness soothed my soul.

As I was reflecting on the impact of our short interaction, I realized how many "invisible servants" are in my life. How many people I take for granted be they custodians for public restrooms, the man who pumps my gas and washes my windshield, the firemen I have never met but know are waiting, ready .... the people who make my life easier, safer and more pleasant. Because many of them we never see, it's easy to take them for granted. Our cultural mindset of self-entitlement doesn't help. Nor does the prejudice that folks in less than glamorous jobs are somehow below those with flashy careers. Honestly, if I walked into the theater and saw the ticket-taker guy, I would assume that he has a better job than the custodian. But let me tell you -- last night it was the custodian, like the Good Samaritan, who was a good neighbor.

This episode was a powerful reminder of several lessons. I draw too many conclusions based on appearances or social structure. I need to be mindful of those around me who make my life easier and more pleasant and teach my children to watch for those invisible servants. I want my kids to consider why the airport bathroom is clean, why there is food on the grocery store shelves, why garbage doesn't pile up in the streets. I want them to respect and appreciate the people we easily overlook. I realize they aren't going to learn such respect and gratitude from our world. I myself must model what I want to see in them. And hopefully, if we seek to apply these things God may use us to minister to a weary soul as a certain custodian encouraged mine yesterday.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11 - A Day to Say Thanks

To Those Who Have Served or are Serving our Country,

I realize that for the majority of you, your service goes unsung. That while you gave of yourselves for the freedom I enjoy, too few of you receive the honor you're due. That you bear the scars of your sacrifice. So, on this Veteran's Day, I want to say thank you. Thank you for putting your life on the line not only for our country but for her citizens yet unborn. Forgive us for taking our freedom for granted. For not treasuring the gift you gave us. You are my heros.

*As I was looking for images to add to this post, I kept coming back to this gentleman. The photo is circa 1982. He is Joseph Ambrose, a then 86-year-old WWI vet. He holds the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War. (source: wikipedia, photo public domain.)

Monday, October 4, 2010


"... a woman's legacy is much larger than the tasks that [she has] done. It is about the people that [she has] loved and about the lives that [she has] impacted."
~Dennis Rainey

As you go through your day, whether it's full of laundry or groceries or snotty noses, be mindful of the legacy you're creating. No one will write "she never got the laundry finished" on your tombstone (I promise!!).

Saturday, October 2, 2010

God and Mickey Mouse

Ever since returning from the Magic Kingdom, the events of our vacation have been at the forefront of my mind. The trip was full of fun memories, but what keeps coming to mind are all the little ways that God proved Himself faithful on our trip. And each time I consider His fingerprints, my awe increases.

The event that I can't shake seems insignificant. #1 got an autograph book early in our trip and was having a grand time getting autographs and photos with the characters. She'd collected quite a few but Mickey was allusive. And of course, Mickey was a big deal to her since, as she put it, "he's the Mouse who started it all!" Several times we stood in long lines only to be told after several minutes that Mickey was going on break. Day 5, our last day, we ran into Mickey and Woody at a show in California Adventure. It was unexpected, and I was sure it was divinely orchestrated. We had yet to visit the Toy Story characters that were a must-see. To have both Mickey and Woody in the same place was an answer to an unspoken prayer. We got a family pic with Woody and approached Mickey. We were the very next person in line when the cast member turned us away. My reaction wasn't very godly. My mama bear side wanted to shake Mickey's little friend and say "don't you know what we've been through and what this means to my kid????" I maintained some self-control, but I can't say that I completely hid my disappointment.

After getting turned away again, my husband told me I needed to tell #1 that she wouldn't get Mickey's autograph. We had only a couple hours left in the park. "It will be nothing short of a miracle if she gets it," he said. You need to prepare her. My heart sank.

#1 and I headed off on our own back to Disneyland, and I prayed as we walked. "God, she really wants this. It means a lot to her. Can you work it out?" Wouldn't you know that there by the "Moments with Lincoln" theater stood Mickey. I was thrilled, but knowing our track-record, was a little nervous about getting in line. Still, we excitedly jumped in line and waited. Each time a cast member looked at the time and evaluated the line I sent up another little prayer. But we made it. She got her photo with Mickey and his autograph. My husband's comment about a miracle Mickey meeting came to mind, and I mix of feelings assaulted me. I was beyond jubilant that we had just witnessed a miracle, small as it may have been, but I was incredibly humbled that God would honor that prayer considering my not-so-nice thoughts toward Mickey's keeper moments previously.

As I continue to dwell on this story, it amazes me that God cared about something as seemingly insignificant as Mickey Mouse's signature. And yet He repeatedly proved Himself faithful in the similarly small things on our trip. His fingerprints have reminded me that He wants to be involved in the details of our lives. When we are in our comfort zones it is easy to become self-reliant. I found myself out of my comfort zone (which in Disneyland happened to be a lack of handwashing before meals, eating themepark food for 5 days - I tend to be a bit of a food snob, no regular schedule for the kids, late bedtimes, etc) and I had no choice but to surrender things that at home seem so insignificant I would never consider the need to give them to Him.

Interestingly, my Bible lesson this morning was about surrender. It highlighted Matthew 11:28-31. How easy it is to forget that God invites (commands!) us to cast our cares on Him and promises rest in return. Nowhere does He state a magnitude requirement. He wants to carry the Mickey Mouse issues just as much as He does the life-altering events. And I've proven that when we give Him the Mickey Mouse issues, we see Mickey Mouse miracles.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Not-so-Glamorous Call of Motherhood

Why am I doing this? To be perfectly blunt, I have asked myself that question numerous times this week. It has not been a week of warm-fuzzy mommy feelings. Instead it has been day after day of me reliving how I treated my mom and wishing I could go back and redo those years on the chance that my behavior in the past is somehow affecting my children's behavior now. From my own childhood experience, I expected eye-rolling and sassy attitudes in junior high, but in elementary school? Sure I wasn't the perfect kid, but I don't remember feeling utter disdain and "my mom doesn't know anything" until at least 13. I'm not sure how I got so lucky as to enjoy these experiences prematurely.

I really have been questioning just why God gave me these three charges and what I'm supposed to do with them! I feel like I'm saying the same things repeatedly and seeing little progress in training the monsters. Obviously it's human nature to want to be liked and when those closest to you appear to have little respect for your authority or opinion, it wears thin. After they marched off to school yesterday, chips firmly planted on their shoulders, I spent some time crying out to God. I was ready to throw in the towel. If I step back and look at the situation, I really didn't want to give up. I truly want a deep and mutually respectful relationship with my kids, but I feel like I've exhausted my resources. The verse that He gave me was "Do not grow weary of doing good" Gal. 6:9. I clung to that the rest of the day; it got me through but I still felt almost a physical burden weighing me down. Then today as I was working on "Ruth" (see my reading list), I knew the closing verses were for me. Kelly Minter referenced Isaiah 43:18-19:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (NIV)

I realized that I have a tendency to allow my kids' attitudes to linger in the back of my mind and affect my behavior/attitude. They fling their little arrows, throw their tantrums, and move on. Meanwhile, even if it's not conscious, somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind I'm thinking "how can they treat me like that? Don't they know that I labored for 20 hours so they could make their appearance into the world? That I've gone years without a full night's sleep? That I cook and clean and do laundry and do laundry and do laundry because of their existence and they have the nerve to say that to me?" When they have forgotten the conflict and are ready to be lovey dovey I still have pretty thick walls built around me.

As I read those verses in Isaiah, I knew God had been telling me all week to let go of all that. I have visions of assuming some sort of slippery shell that prevents the disobedience, bad attitudes, and sassiness from penetrating, thus allowing me to correct and train my children as I am called to do without taking personal offense to their attitudes. If I can let go, God will do a new thing. I am ready!

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Focus on the Family headquarters and meet H.B. London. As we toured the Focus campus, my mom commented that Dr. Dobson and H.B. London's grandfather (they're cousins) was committed to faithfully praying for his descendants and look how God has blessed the work of these two men. Their influence has spanned millions of people worldwide. One man faithfully prayed. One man. And God used two of his grandsons to touch millions. Wow.

A couple weeks later we embarked on a family vacation to Disneyland and a similar thought struck me. One man had a dream of a place that parents and kids could have fun together. One man. A dream. And a determination to overcome the speedbumps associated with seeing his dream come to fruition. The far-reaching influence is staggering.

Now I'm not going to pretend that I'm like Dobson, London, or Disney. I'm not even going to compare myself to Dobson's grandfather. But the idea that God can use one individual for His purposes, whether they appear small or grand in our perspective, is encouraging. That no matter the struggles, He put me in this not so glamorous position to faithfully point my children toward Him. Beyond glorifying Him, I have no idea of His desires for their lives. They may be renowned or they may never be known beyond their small circles. What matters is that I am committed to my call, recognizing that how faithfully I do my job as a mom will not only have an affect on today but future generations. And God has promised that if "I [do] not become weary in doing good, at the proper time [I] will reap a harvest if [I] do not give up."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mojave Cross

Usually when I post something, it takes me several days. I write from the heart, but then let it sit and steep while I think. I reread and revise a couple times before I publish. But today I'm writing from the heart and putting it out there. Because I'm angry. If I was a cartoon character, I'm sure steam would be coming out of my ears. See, I'd heard about the whole fiasco of the Mojave Cross a few months ago, but had forgotten about it. My memory was just triggered as I was updated on the case. As a Christian, I'm obviously deeply concerned and grieved at the prospect of our freedoms being stripped away, and the cross's removal is definitely a symbol of that. But this case goes beyond our religious freedom. No matter your political party or religious beliefs, this cross is a memorial for those brave men and women who have given their lives for this country. We would not enjoy the blessings of this country if these precious people, from the founders of our country to those presently serving, were not willing to lay down their lives for US! And the gov't and ACLU and all those who are anti-Christian are willing to desecrate this VETERAN MEMORIAL to further their cause. Will we continue to sit idly by and allow them to do this?

I know why this case makes my blood boil ... I am amazingly blessed to have several godly men in my life. One of those men is my father-in-law. I love this guy like he's my own dad. And he's a Vietnam Veteran. I'd love to tell his story, but it's not mine to tell. My two grandfathers and adopted grandfather all fought bravely in WWII. My great-grandfather was honored for his service in WWI. Their lives were changed because of their service. They are some of the fortunate ones who came home, but their lives were never the same and they gave of themselves fully knowing that they may not survive. How could I not honor their service? How could I stand idly by and not respond to an attack on a memorial that honors their fallen comrades? That could have just as easily been one to honor them? Are we so consumed in our own busy-ness that we will allow a select few who happen to sit in positions of influence to transform our country into something unrecognizable from it's original design?

I urge you to pray for our country. Pray for those who still faithfully serve. Check out the story of the Mojave Cross and sign the letter to President Obama on And honor the memory of those who lay down their life that you may have the freedom you enjoy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


21. Birthday flowers from my husband
22. Laughing with my mom
23. Bouquets of lavender
24. Fresh blueberries
25. Puppies
26. Caring friends
27. Understanding friends
28. God's friendship
29. Berry picking
30. Toddlers with berry smiles
31. Grandma
32. Fresh mozzarella
33. Tree frogs
34. Crickets
35. Ladybug pictures drawn by #2

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hidden Treasures

I don't know about you, but in my spiritual journey, much of the sin God convicts me of comes as no surprise. They are areas of weakness I'm all too well aware of! But every so often God catches me off-guard. It's almost like He says "hey, I know you don't see it, but this needs changing in your life. Let me shine my ginormous spotlight in this dark corner of your heart and show you just what nastiness has been collecting over here." And most often my mess resembles something a lot yuckier than a cute little dust bunny. This week, God flipped the switch on those stadium lights again. While I'm disgusted by what came to the surface, seeing God's hand in my life never fails to excite and awe.

It started quite innocently ... #2 announced that the Little Tike's workshop was babyish and had to go. A desk was needed as a replacement. I listed it on Craigslist and started looking for a desk. Usually these searches take days if not longer, so I was surprised to find a listing for an old school desk on my first search. You know the kind ... wood laminate top, metal legs and storage on the underside. Not exactly my idea of beauty, but the price tag caught my attention -- $10. $10 of sturdiness that was advertised as having served 6 kids already with lots of life left in it. But now I had a dilemma. The price was very compelling and made the awful mauve and turquoise-colored metal tolerable since I knew I could spray paint it. But I just couldn't get past the clutter that was pictured on the desk. See, when I shop Craigs List, I am incredibly picky. I won't drive a great distance or shop at apartment complexes, and I scrutinize the picture to detect what kind of home the item is coming from ... the ad must have a photo and proper capitalization and grammar. If the photo shows clutter, dated carpet, shabby yard, etc I move on.

As I inspected the desk photo a number of things stood out to me, most notably the crumpled kleenex atop the desk. Why they couldn't have thrown it away pre-photo shoot, I have no idea. Other piles were stacked haphazardly around the desk which sat on some nasty mottled brown carpet that looked several decades old.

I moved on, scanning the other items CL offered. Nothing compared in price or location. All afternoon I debated. Finally, I called the owner and got her voicemail. Relieved, I decided that was my answer. Until she called back! We set a meeting time, but I still waffled and even sent the pic to my dear MIL to get her opinion. Her response: "you can find things in the oddest places. Treasures can be where you least expect them." Ok, then.

When I called the desk-lady later for directions, I found out she lived in an apartment ... and was a single mom of 4! Immediately I started wondering what God had in mind so as I got my kids ready to head out the door, I prayed that God would show me how to minister to her.

Plugged her address into my GPS and was quite shocked by where it took me. I never, ever knew that such a place existed so close to my home. Tucked away amongst normal tidy, upper middle-class neighborhoods were apartment complexes that were beyond bedraggled. I parked behind the desk-lady's minivan which wore a dozen bumper stickers proclaiming "Coexist" and similar comments. I tried to read them all before she came out of the house so I could assess just what I was getting myself into. Couldn't take them all in, but I knew we were on opposite sides on a number of social and political issues.

I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't who I met. The lady who came out was not someone who I naturally would seek out to strike up a friendship. She had multiple ear piercings, a nose ring, and hippie hair (which I will admit was quite cute!). But I liked her!

We chatted for a long time and I left struck by the fact that perhaps the treasure God had put on the heart of my MIL wasn't a desk at all. Maybe, just maybe, the treasure was a lost young woman doing her best to raise 4 kids on her own and do it well. A woman who has had a tough life, who is obviously searching for something. A woman God made and loves just as much as He loves me.

Several years ago, God gave me a heart for women. An awareness that we are all daughters of the King with many of the same hopes and fears, longings and needs. That while we put on a good front and show, a tender heart beats deep within. Somewhere, I lost sight of that truth. I got caught up in my comfy little world where everyone looks, thinks, and acts much like me. I love my bubble. Apparently it needed popping.

The desk-lady has been on my mind much these past few days as I dwell on all the lessons in that experience. God added an exclamation point yesterday when I opened an email from CitizenLink featuring an article about Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy (The Blind Side):

"Your book emphasizes what your family has dubbed 'The Popcorn Theory.' Can you explain that for our readers?"

[Leigh Anne Tuohy]: "The Popcorn Theory is about noticing others. It starts with recognizing a fellow soul as kindred, even if he doesn't belong to your gated community. It's about acknowledging that person's potential and value. It's about seeing him, instead of looking past him."

I keep reading this post over and over trying to come up w/ a witty and succinct ending. I'm blank. May God do His purposes with my lesson and if it His will, pop a few bubbles out there that we may see beyond our comfort zones.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Maintaining Gratitude

Continuing my way to 1000 thankfulnesses ...

11. A husband who listens
12. A devoted dad
13. Loving and supportive in-laws
14. A toddler saying grace before dinner
15. Watching daddy smile at a toddler saying grace before dinner
16. Leisurely Saturdays doing jigsaw puzzles
17. Little boys and smoke bombs
18. Little boys and squirt bottles
19. Strawberry shortcake and vanilla ice cream
20. Those willing to sacrifice their lives that we may worship freely ... Thank you.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


The other day, I stumbled on Ann Voskamp's blog "Holy Experience" after Sally mentioned it on "I Take Joy." She has started a gratitude community, and I love the concept so decided to join her call to thankfulness. I have been feeling burdened and alone lately (another post bouncing around in my brain along such lines) and her reminder to focus on God's endless blessings was much needed. She suggests to set a time goal of listing 1000 thankfulnesses. My goal is the end of September ... I write that with trepidation that I may not make it but my attitude could use the challenge. So, to begin with a bang, here are my first ten ...

1. Summer blue skies and temperatures above 70!
2. Helpful kiddos
3. Strawberries with homemade ice cream
4. Allergy medicine! :-)
5. My husband's job
6. My husband!
7. Kid #1
8. Kid #2
9. Kid #3
10. Haircuts

holy experience

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Casting Cares

I had an epiphany last week while working my way through Dancing With My Father. One of my biggest battles in mothering and life in general is fighting frustration that arises when I'm interrupted. I tend to be very driven: I love to-do lists and usually have my day planned before I'm out of bed in the morning. While I get a lot done, I probably drive my family crazy and I readily admit that it's too easy for me to let my list take priority over the people in my life.

So I was reading through chapter 5, and God brought to mind an example that clicked with me. I need to treat my children as my job! I know it seems t0o simple to fall into the "epiphany" category, but the more I considered it, the more it made sense. See, when I was working I never got frustrated or annoyed when my boss gave me something to do. Never did I finish a project and throw up my arms in frustration when he handed me my next assignment. On rare occasions if I finished all my tasks, I could do my own thing. But I understood those activities were "extras" that were enjoyed only if the pressing matters were taken care of. My problem since becoming a mom is that I never approached the role as my job. Yes, I know it's the job God has given me at this time and I'm thankful for it, but I never looked at in the same way I viewed outside employment.

After meditating on the concept for a while, I decided to put it into practice. Repeatedly through the day when I'm in the middle of something and one of the kids needs something, I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that they are my job. Rather than hollering an answer across the house or saying "just a minute" for the 167th time, (wouldn't you know that at this exact spot in my sentence #3 just came over and said "mommy, I gotta go potty ....!), I stop what I'm doing to look at what they want to show me, correct behavior (that means taking off the rubber gloves and leaving my sink of soapy water to get down eye to eye and talk to them), offer assistance, answer a question, etc. The results have been exciting. While it always seems like progress is slow when it comes to training kiddos, the change in my own perspective and the little glimpses of growth in my children makes it worth it. I feel good about myself because I know I'm being deliberate in my parenting and mothering my children in a way that I can look back and be proud of.

So my new outlook has been consistent . . . until yesterday! In retrospect, I should have been expecting the speed bump. Makes sense that the enemy would want to try to trip me up. Wouldn't you know that it would be with a major pet peeve . . . potty messes in the restroom. All my kiddos are potty trained and know how to listen to their bodies when they need to go. I understand an accident here and there, but yesterday was a day full of accidents. I felt like I had a disinfectant wipe or laundry basket in my hand all day long. It was simply a matter of them waiting too long. I took it in stride for the most part until late afternoon when their carelessness required baths on a non-bath night which still shouldn't have been a big deal other than the fact that I had planned on getting three very exhausted kids to bed early so my husband and I could have a quiet evening to ourselves. As I watched my lovely plans go down the drain with the bath water, my frustration reached the boiling point. And instead of putting myself into that time-out that I knew I needed, I let everyone know I was upset.

I awoke this morning still beating myself up a bit and doing my best to return to my new calm, deliberate self. Until I came down from my shower and found on my couch the 4 baskets of laundry that I had folded late last night. My calm, deliberate self ran for cover. #3's comment to my reaction was "mommy, you're not happy?" My insides ready to erupt, I carried the laundry up to my bedroom and turned on the radio. "Ironically" Focus on the Family was just beginning their broadcast, today's featured guest - Josh McDowell, talking all about parenting. As much as I wanted to stew, his message was good. I was still folding when Bill Richie from Crossroads Community Church (Vancouver, WA) came on. His message today was on troubles. Honestly, I didn't hear the whole thing as I was in and out of the room putting away clothes. But one part he said resonated. He was talking about casting your cares on the Lord. He broke down 1 Peter 5:7. Cast - to throw onto. He referenced the people "casting" their cloaks for Jesus to ride over on the donkey ... and they didn't have their coats anymore!!!!! Cares - your stresses, anxieties, struggles. The word "cares" comes from a word meaning "to distract, to divide, separate." So God invites, no commands, us to throw our stress, anxiety, and struggles on Him. And this is the kicker ... then we won't have them anymore. If they try to boomerang back, I think we need to cast them again. My problem yesterday was that I took that stress, planted it, watered it, fertilized it, and nurtured it to the best of my abilities! The results were a stressed-out mommy, a child's bedtime prayer, "please don't let mommy get upset like that very often," and a husband who came home to a not-so-peaceful home. Not how I want my kids to look back and remember their growing up years.

Much to my relief (and I'm sure that of my kids and husband!), calm, deliberate me has returned and hopefully will remain forever! I will continue to dwell on the lesson of casting my cares (even spilled laundry baskets!) on the One who wants to carry them. As I close, it occurs to me that allowing God to carry our burdens is another aspect of our spiritual life that requires a close walk with God. Just as we don't tell our struggles and secrets to a stranger at the grocery, how likely are we to surrender that which is closest to our hearts to a God we don't know intimately? This Christian life seems to boil to that one point, doesn't it? Just a closer walk with thee . . . Something to ponder.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Faith Like Potatoes

I just finished watching "Faith Like Potatoes," an inspiring movie based on a true story about Angus Buchan. A scene about half way through struck me. Angus and area farmers are scrambling to bring a raging fire under control before it spreads to a neighboring plantation. Tensions are high, and Angus starts repeating to himself "What things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them." (Mark 11:24, KJV). Finally he declares to his farmhand, "Simeon, we must pray for rain now!" And Simeon responds, "There will be no rain. The rain season is not here yet." Angus insists, "We must pray for rain now!" And again Simeon says, "There will be no rain. The rain season is not here yet." And Angus prays anyway!

I watched the scene over and over. How often does life bring circumstances that seem impossible and while I know I should pray, I don't because the answer I'm looking for isn't "in season." While I believe God is capable of all things, I don't want to ask for the impossible because I don't want to be disappointed if the answer is no.

I found the documentary's description of Angus convicting: "a zealous farmer willing to take God at His Word." Do I take God at His word? I have asked myself this question before. A verse will resonate with me and I'll say to myself "I know this is true but do I really live like I believe it? Do I behave in a way that reflects my faith in God's promises?" I know this can get a little shady and go into the whole "name it and claim it" philosophy. That's not where I'm coming from. I'm talking about taking the specific promises God has given in His word, reading them in context (this is key), and trusting Him to answer. Let me give an example ... in 2 Peter, we're promised everything we need for life and godliness, to participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption of the world (2 Peter 1, NIV). If I truly believe that, when I start to walk down a path counter to God's will (anger, impatience, gossip, whatever), if I seek God's help, His Holy Spirit will give me the tools I need to overcome the flesh and walk in obedience by the power of His Spirit.

Obviously, this is a growing process and part of maturing spiritually. However, I wonder if for someone like me, who has been a Christian for 30-some years, it is easy to know Scripture but have it become rote. To lose the power and impact of such amazing promises because I've heard them so many times. I don't want that to be true. I want to be like Angus in my faith ... God said it, I believe it, and I'll wait until I see the fulfillment of His promise ... A woman who takes God at His word.

So what happened with Angus and the fire? Storm clouds gathered, drops of rain began to fall, and the fire was quenched. All to the glory of God!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

It is Well

Sometimes I think my biggest problem is unrealistic expectations. I set myself up for disappointment. Even as I write that, it sounds rather Eeyorish and I'm introspecting to see if that comment stems from a pouty attitude. Perhaps, in part, but I think there's some truth to it.

Today is Mother's Day. All week, my husband has been asking what I want to do today and while I didn't have a specific grand idea, I began thinking of it as "my" day ... I won't cook (which means minimal dishes), I'll get to choose the day's activities, everyone will be happy and peaceful and get along (yes, I know better but somehow that still sneaks in there), and we'll all have a wonderful day! That was the "setting myself up" part. I woke this morning to a cloudless robin-egg blue sky and brilliant sunshine. I thrive on sunshine and freely admit that I'm a much happier girl on sunny days. DH and I chatted about our plans in the sunshine ... church, bike rides, picnics. The kids all slept through the night so we all were well rested -- it was going to be a lovely day! Then 1 woke up ... sick. Then 2 forgot how to dress himself and began whining of a sore throat (a new complaint that pops up during whiny outbursts). The vision of my perfect day dissolved. I marched into my husband and announced that Mother's Day is stupid when kids are little. Sweet guy that he is, he offered to celebrate next weekend. I told him I'm busy. He offered to have church at home. I know, I'm married to a great guy. I told him I needed to get out of the house. I changed out of my church clothes, put my hair in a pony, and left him with a sick kid, a hungry kid, and a sobbing toddler standing on the porch screaming "Mommy, I neeeeeeeed you." Ouch.

We have a beautiful nature park with an incredible view near our home. Ended up there, although in my rapid exit, I donned flip-flops which were useless on the hiking trails. Opted to remain in the car and listen to worship music on the radio. I sat and cried. God, how do I let my self get into these snits? Why do I let interruptions or a change in plans throw me for a loop? Why do I get offended when a family member gets sick (how dare they!!)? I had grabbed "Dancing with My Father" by Sally Clarkson on my way out the door and began chapter 3. This paragraph on page 50 leaped off the page, "I realized that if I didn't build my foundations on eternal realities, I would never be content. Nothing in this physical world would ever totally live up to my expectations. The Lord had to dissolve my self-will in a slow, humbling process of my reluctantly giving up my ideas about what I needed to be happy. I had to become willing to place myself on the altar of God's will. Trying to control my life and whip it into shape by means of my own effort only brought frustration and disillusionment. I realized that in a fallen world, happiness, perfection, and the fairy tale of a Cinderella life are always doomed to failure."

While my ultimate foundation (salvation) is where it should be, my daily, moment-by-moment focus had gone askew. Instead of being outward focused and enjoying any unexpected blessing as an "extra," I was self-focused, expecting the blessings, and crashed when my will isn't what happened. (A side note to clarify my "expecting blessings" -- I was feeling I deserved them ... I think we should look for God's blessings and thank Him for them. I was wallowing in self-entitlement.) Thinking about Jesus' ministry, I don't recall Him ever declaring a day that was "all about Him"! Never did he say "ok, disciples, today is Jesus Day. Serve me! Mary, go spend all you have on expensive perfume and pour it on my feet." Makes me cringe just writing it. No, Christ came to serve and while He most definitely took time to refresh and refuel with His Father, never did he deviate from His Father's purpose. He gave of Himself with humility.

Sally went on to quote Philippians 3:7-9 "But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

When I was a kid, we sang a chorus in church, "The greatest thing in all my life is knowing you ... I want to know you more, I want to know you more ..." As I reflected and prayed, I realized that I have not made knowing God a priority. Yes, I know Him, but I have not deliberately made meditating on His word throughout the day a priority. I have not put myself in time-outs to refocus when the downward spiral begins. Knowing God and deepening my relationship with Him should be the greatest thing in my life. It should be so marvelous in contrast to the things of this world that I can say with Paul "Everything else is loss!" I'm not there yet!

I have a new goal. When I feel myself slipping, I'm aiming to stop and pick up my Bible. Sounds like such a "good Christian thing to do," doesn't it? But that's not my motivation. My reasoning is this -- God promises the fullness of joy in His presence. Treasures are at His right hand. His joy and treasures surpass anything this world can offer. If I truly believe and trust His Word, if I believe that His Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, then if I allow it, stopping to read even one verse should give me the refocusing, the realigning of my priorities, thought processes and attitudes that I need if I am to reflect my Saviour. I so desire to overflow with Him. Right now, my overflow more resembles that of a clogged toilet.

The hymn, "It is Well" has been playing in my mind as I write and reflect. I leave you with the words written by Horatio Spafford. They resonate within me and so perfectly depict how I desire to respond to both life's small speed bumps and terrifying hurricanes.
        When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
the trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A blog launched

I can't help but laugh when I see one of Johnson and Johnson's ads that quip "having a baby changes everything." Beyond the messes and antics associated with raising children, babies have a way of forcing their parents to grow up! I'm still amazed at the immaturity in me that rises up when I'm dealing with my kids.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I read the routine parenting books, figured I knew everything and was beyond excited to be the world's perfect mom. What a wake-up call I received! Instead of all the warm fuzzy feelings that I expected, I was slammed with post-partum depression that dragged on for months. I adored my new baby, but I was exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated when my little one didn't behave like all the books had promised, and scared to reveal the dark thoughts I was thinking. I kept silent for months until I finally admitted my struggles to my father. With love and wisdom, he identified what I was going through and did not condemn me. That was the beginning of healing.

Since talking about my problems seemed to be therapeutic, I assumed that other Christian women in my circle would be able to identify and safe to share with. Afterall, aren't we, as Christians, supposed to show compassion, support and acceptance? What I discovered instead were raised eyebrows and polite smiles. Not open criticism, but looks that I felt said "if I do identify with you, I'm going to pretend that I don't because how could a good Christian have those thoughts/feelings."

I would come away from conversations feeling alone and foolish for opening my mouth. I longed for that Titus 2 woman to take me under her arm and mentor me. For a while I clammed up about my frustrations and weaknesses. Then something changed. I guess I decided I didn't care what other people thought. That I couldn't be alone in my struggles and frustrations. You know, the more I opened up, little by little other ladies did the same. Slowly I discovered that I wasn't alone.

Looking back, I think God used those feelings to plant an idea that has been growing for 7+ years. I have a heart for women, and especially young moms. Something has happened in our society, be it the feminist movement, the breakdown of the family, I don't know, but somewhere along the line, women and even Christian women have been sold a lie that we have to be perfect. That we can do, be, and have everything. That we can be supermom. We can have the dust and clutter-free Pottery Barn home and well-behaved Gap kids. That burden is deceiving and impossible. I've tried to live it. You end up exhausted, depleted, frustrated.

Yes, I've decided to be open about my struggles. I still get some rather incredulous looks when I readily admit that yesterday was a bad day and I screamed at my kids. But I figure if just one woman discovers she is not alone, God can use that. I have no desire for the focus to be on my issues. This isn't about me, nor is it even really about the struggles. My desire is to be honest about the challenges on this journey of being a wife, mother, and woman of God, but to dwell on and rejoice in the refinement God does through those issues. And so here I am starting a blog. I can't promise perfect grammar (although I do find comma rules awfully exciting :-) or stories about perfect kids. I can promise real conversation about what my sovereign God is doing in my life to make me into a daughter who resembles her Father. I welcome you to join me on the journey.