Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of Story

In this world of high tolerance, we are encouraged to find similarities with everyone. To "COEXIST", as the pretty bumper sticker says. I feel like I should say things like "Deep down all religions to lead to the same place" and other platitudes. But really, deep down, I don't believe that at all. I struggle with how to say the Bible is the final authority on what is right without saying directly that someone else's beliefs are wrong. Even if the Bible says they are. Yes, I just grimaced a little because, of course, my mom comes to mind.

One morning I was trying to find a way in my head to assimilate Christianity and Buddhism. I was thinking that maybe we both had pieces of the same puzzle but just can't see the whole picture yet. Maybe we both can be right. Then the phone rang. It was my husband calling from the car on his drive into work.

"Hey, honey, the car in front of me says John 14:6 on the license plate. What is that one?"

"I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME."

Asked and Answered.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Feel Like Sinning?

I originally posted this in December of 2008, but wanted to share it today.

 I've been thinking about sin, not necessarily about committing any particular sin, but about why I sin. I forget who I am. I forget who God is. I look to others to fill a hole that God is more than capable of filling. "And my God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19

The song "Slow Fade" by Casting Crowns has been on the radio often, and each time, a different part of the song stands out to me.If you are not familiar with the song, it is about flirting with sin. You don't go from being Super Christian to embittered outsider in a day. It's a process of forgetting who you are. You can read all the lyrics here, but the line that stands out to me right now is "people never crumble in a day."

With every grudge that I choose to hold instead of forgive, I am fading.

With every unclean thought that I justify instead of taking captive, I am fading.

With every act of pride, I am fading.

With every audience I give to the voice that hisses in the corner of my mind, I am fading.

None of this happens overnight, that is the whole point. Each step away makes the next one easier. It has been a trying year, and I have allowed a root of bitterness to take root. I have let "the sun go down on my anger, making room for the devil." I know what pushes me to the edge in my life. Do you know what it is in your life that leaves the door to your soul open? Do you recognize the signs in your own life that you are slowly fading.

That is where close friends can be a help. Friends who are honest enough to point out your shortcomings but still love you anyway. Friends who try to lead you to a godly solution for a problem are truly a blessing. There are enough resources in the world to back up ungodly solutions, to egg you on in your quest of self-righteousness. "Take care, sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the Living God. But, exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today", so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:14.


There was a good devotion at Proverbs 31 today about temptation. You can check it out here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bible Plan, Too

I ordered my copy, and one for my daughter, of the Chronological Bible NLT version. According to Amazon I got the last two in stock, so I hope they get here before February. Anyway, my friend Luanne is also reading the Chronological Bible. I think it would be fun to make a list of everyone reading a Chronological Bible this year and post it on the side of my blog. Leave me a comment if you are reading it, even if you don't have a blog. You can check in by leaving a comment on someone else's blog. We'll be like a little online accountability group. "Hi, my name is so-and-so and I am committing to reading the Bible in it's entirety this year."

Ok, even if you are not reading a chronological Bible in particular, check in with us. It's a task that requires focus and commitment and we can all use all the prayer we can get, right? Let us pray for each other, no matter what style we choose, that God will reveal His Word in a practical, applicable, insightful way to each of us, and that others will be blessed through our efforts. Remember, one candle is all that is needed to break up the darkness.

I don't think I'm supposed to say Good Luck in your efforts, so I'll say Godspeed!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

This is what Christmas morning sounded like at my house. A drum set seemed like a good idea at the time...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Love Chosen

I'm reading a book I read every Christmas called One Incredible Moment by Max Lucado. Let me share what he wrote about us:

The Author makes a promise to these unborn: In my image, I will make you. You will be like me. You will laugh. You will create. You will never die. And you will write. They must, for each life is a book, not to be read, but rather a story to be written. The Author starts each life story, but each life will write his or her own ending. What a dangerous liberty. How much safer it would have been to finish the story for each Adam. To script every option. It would have been simpler. It would have been safer. But it would not have been love. Love is only love if chosen. So the Author decides to give each child a pen. "Write carefully," he whispers.

It makes me think of the Hallmark thought that all teenagers comfort themselves with when someone breaks up with them. If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, keep it and love it forever. When God made me, he set me free to do as I wish. When I choose to come back to the One who created me, He promises to keep me and love me forever.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Etiquette Lesson

Once again, I heard God's words being said in my voice. Probably not with the tone He would have used, but I still got the point. I was on the phone this morning leaving a message for someone when Connor immediately and impatiently needed my attention. When I didn't answer he just yelled louder. After I got off the phone, I said,"It's not that I couldn't hear you. I had something I needed to do first."

Next time I feel like my prayers aren't being answered I will remember this conversation. It's not that He can't hear me. He's got something else that needs to be done first. And just as much as my son needs to learn some manners and some patience, so do I.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Real Gift

My favorite version of Silent Night is the one by Mercy Me with Amy Grant. Imagine my surprise when I discovered there was a cd that I don't own. I almost ordered it online, but decided to wait til after Christmas since I wouldn't get it in time anyway. Tonight, running errands, I decided to stop in at the Garden of Readin' to see if by chance they had it. They didn't. The lady standing next to me joked "Ha, Ha, I have my copy in the car." We laughed and then I left to continue running errands.

About ten minutes later I was at Kohl's and I heard a voice say, "I am totally supposed to give you my cd." Yup. It was the bookstore lady. She said she had been feeling like a real heel for teasing me and that she should have offered me her copy back there since she has it on her Ipod anyway. She went out to her car and came back with Mercy Me's The Christmas Sessions. I couldn't believe it. Her name is Kristin and I may never see her again. But she totally touched my heart with her generosity.

When I look at the big cosmic picture here, I think about the big grin God must have been wearing on His face all evening, knowing how surprised and excited I was going to be. Like when you know you have something special for someone that they don't know about yet. A real gift.

Here is the song. Take a minute to enjoy it. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Light in the Darkness

As I mentioned maybe a month ago, my teenage son has been struggling. I was praying for guidance and to know how God wanted me to handle this somewhat unique situation. He lives with his dad, not with me, so sometimes I feel like the normal parent boundaries don't apply. More and more, I felt led to connect with his stepmom. Invite her to the Christmas luncheon, God told me. Truthfully, and selfishly, $40 is a lot of money at this time of year. But I listened. I invited her and she accepted. I kept praying for God to do a work in her life, and, consequently, in the life of my son.

After I invited her, and she accepted, this was the scripture in our Can We Talk study to pore and paraphrase:

"Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt."

"But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?"

"And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."Exodus 3:10-12

My paraphrase reads like this:
God: Debbie, go to their house so you may bring my people out of bondage.
Me: Who am I to do this? They have a lot going on over there, you know.
God: I will be with you and here is the sign: You will all worship together one day.

Here is what it boils down to:
1. God does not want His people in bondage to anything.
2. He will send a rescue party.
3. Sometimes it will be me, but I won't be alone.

When we came to this day in the study, I was overcome (not too strong a word here) with the implications of this scripture. I know that God gave me a promise personally, that one day we will all worship together.

The Christmas Luncheon was absolutely anointed by God. My friend and I felt the Spirit so strongly upon us. All I could do was hug her and think to myself, God is sooo good. Better than we deserve. A big thank you to all the ladies who made this day possible. You were used by God in a huge way.
After letting this post roll around in my mind for a few hours, I need to clarify something. This is not about me. This is entirely about how good God is. It is only because of His grace that I have been saved. It is only because of His grace that I am in a position to reach out to someone. Five or six years ago this would not have been possible. It is only through the goodness of my Savior that I am truly able to love others. I am so not worthy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Monday Motivation

"But first, dress for work." Jeremiah 1:17. This was God's instruction to Jeremiah. It is also His instruction to me. Am I dressed for the work He wants me to do? Am I focused on the task at hand, or am I longing to be somewhere else, somewhere more worthy of my time and talents? Do I remember that He has created me for His purpose, not mine?

I know, that is a lot to think about so early in the morning. Mondays are busy days for me doing the most mundane yet most important of jobs. Babysitting. Changing diapers. Settling fights. Loving the children God, and parents, have placed in my care. Recognizing that I am doing more than physical care, but helping to build future warriors for the Kingdom.

So, I am dressed for it. Warm sweatpants and a snowman sweatshirt. Not clothes for ministering to an adult audience, with carefully applied makeup and almost every hair in place. Dressed for getting on the floor to build stuff, pants I can wipe my hands on, and only enough make-up to look convincingly awake. Can I do it? Absolutely, because He has equipped me for every good work that He sets before me. (2Timothy 3:17)
I just might have time for one more cup of coffee before the doorbell rings...

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Cup of Hope

Hope. It sometimes sounds like a weak word. I hope...fill in the blank for what you wish would happen. Hope is actually an action verb. It demands activity. "Hope" means to wait expectantly. With your hands and heart open, ready for action.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

That is a promise from God. He has plans for us to give us hope. Sometimes He uses us to give others hope.

Hope. Tumaini: Swahili for hope. Children beyond number are hoping (there's that word again: waiting expectantly, with hands and hearts open) that help is in their future. My friend Chris has put feet to this hope. Her tea company, Christiani-tea, is donating part of the proceeds to Manna Worldwide, an agency committed to providing Hope. Tumaini. Check it out. Sit back, sip some hot tea, and know that you are making a difference.

Sweetest Day

Yesterday was a mountain top day for a lot of reasons. The Christmas Luncheon was completely orchestrated by God, and I promise to blog about that when the time is right. When I got home my husband was watching GAC, a country music video channel. He called to me, saying, "Come in here. Your song is on." This is the song that was on, "You're Everything", by Brad Paisley. Come on, say it with me, Awww!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

Did you ever get astounded by the obvious, like seeing something for the first time? This happened to me this week at Mom Time. Shelley was talking about the Bible being a mirror for us, with Christ modeling how we should act and treat each other. She said if we look in a real mirror and see food in our teeth, we fix it. We don't shrug and walk away. In the same way, if I am taught that a gentle turns away wrath, why do I keep yelling? If I am taught to fear not because God is with me, why am I still afraid? If I am taught to love unconditionally, why do I keep score?

I should be evaluating myself, and only myself, by the standards God has given us, and not walk away from what I see. Look at the reflection honestly. Definitely food for thought.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mean Kids

Today was a backwards step for Connor. He cried all morning before school that he was going to miss me today, which hasn't happened for a while. The drop-off went relatively ok, but there were tears in the classroom today. To top it off, some girls made fun of him for crying. This is really my first taste of Connor feeling like kids were mean to him. He even said , in his deep man voice, "Don't they know what was written on our wall, about mean words hurting like a knife, but nice words making you feel better?" Ok, so I must admit to being pleased that he is applying the scripture we have on the chalkboard in our living room, Proverbs 12:18.

We did get some good teaching and role playing out of it. We talked about different ways he could comfort someone who was sad. But, being Connor, he said he would have to wear "earmuffins" because he really hates the sound of loud crying kids. He also pointed out that the girls didn't do anything nice for him so why should he be nice to someone else. Connor hit upon one of the big problems in this world. If we are all busy waiting for someone to do the nice thing first, it might not ever happen.

As I'm sitting here feeling bad for the little guy, I'm wishing there were some rules of the road for kindergarteners. Really, though, it's the same rules of the road we use. The Bible. I will remind him of who he really is, a special little boy made by God, my special little boy, and remind him of everyone else who loves him. I will teach him how God wants us to love others, even if they don't love us first, or at all. I know that we are all given our kids, and our circumstances, to purge the unholiness out of us, to make us more Christlike. Watching Connor struggle today will remind me of how to act when the world isn't nice to me. Love them first.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Psalm of Thanksgiving

I got up early today to enjoy some quiet time and spend some time with the One who deserves all my thanks. I read Psalm 103 and listened to my Chris Tomlin cd, remembering all the good He has brought to me.

Psalm 103
1 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
6 The Lord gives righteousness
and justice to all who are treated unfairly.
7 He revealed his character to Moses
and his deeds to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
17 But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
18 of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!
19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne;
from there he rules over everything.
20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
you mighty ones who carry out his plans,
listening for each of his commands.
21 Yes, praise the Lord, you armies of angels
who serve him and do his will!
22 Praise the Lord, everything he has created,
everything in all his kingdom.
Let all that I am praise the Lord.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!


The holidays for me are about family and building tradition. I grew up in a small family and moved far from any extended family when I was little, so I get really excited about having lots of kids to build traditions with. When I first realized I would have five kids, my thoughts went instantly to family dinners and get-togethers, everyone bringing home their own families to my house. A real Walton's moment.

Alex drove home from LaCrosse today for the long weekend. I got a lump in my throat as I thought about everyone's college kids coming home. Within a few hours of hanging out with me, Connor, Justin, and Sophie, she had stress hives and was ready to head back to school. I'm sure it wasn't the Hallmark card either of us was anticipating.

I did have a chance to spend some one on one time with Connor tonight while I was making my favorite dessert, the Libby's Pumpkin Roll. We were doing the mixing in bowls that belonged to my grandma; she passed away last year. Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, would have been her 84th birthday. I got to tell Connor stories about being in my grandma's kitchen when I was five, eating liverwurst sandwiches, waiting for the good stuff to be done. Connor and I sang Happy Birthday to her, then he said, "I bet Jesus told her that we were singing to her." That, my friends, was a lump in my throat Hallmark moment to be sure.

Whether the holidays bring on stress hives like they did for Alex tonight, or you are missing people who aren't with you anymore, live it fully. Take the time to look at everyone around your table, friends and family, and savor those moments. Don't hide behind the dirty dishes and miss out on the times that come so infrequently. This picture of our five generations almost didn't happen. I had had enough family time and begged to stay in the kitchen cleaning up while they took some pictures. I said I would smile on Christmas, when I wasn't all greasy and food splattered. I Thank God my mom pulled rank. Three weeks after this picture was taken my grandma was gone. She passed on December 20th.

I will be counting my blessings tomorrow, and hopefully putting some lifelong memories in the hearts of my kids. Someday they will be mixing a cake in my grandma's mixing bowls, or using my silverware with the "G" on the handles, telling stories about me. I hope they are good ones.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

This is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the holidays. From the decorating, the cooking and eating, to picking out the perfect gifts, I love this time. We took the boys to the tree lighting ceremony last night in downtown Waukesha. Except for barking dogs and Santa Claus, (Connor is afraid of both), it was like being in a Norman Rockwell painting. There were even people giving out cups of hot cocoa. The best part was that for a city celebration, the pastor from First Assembly read the Christmas story out of Luke and shared his testimony. Very cool.

Sometimes, though, this season gets really overscheduled and I get really worked up about making stuff from scratch. Cards, presents, decorations, you name it. I like to make "stuff" but sometimes the pressure of deciding what to make leaves me really cranky. I am so overwhelmed with holiday must-do's that I lose the focus of what I'm trying so hard to celebrate.

Anyway, enter the gift that keeps on giving. We have had the stomach flu on and off at my house all week. Connor had it last Saturday night but was better by Sunday afternoon. Justin had it Thursday afternoon but was better by bedtime. Today is my turn. I had really high hopes for today: deep cleaning to get ready to decorate, go to Joann Fabrics to get some crafty stuff, sort through the Christmas decorations, shop for Thanksgiving dinner, a lot of ambitious planning went into today. Aside from being crabby because my plans were thrown off kilter, it was really a nice day.

I was just sick enough to keep everyone away from me, but not so sick that I felt sorry for myself. I got to lay in bed and watch sappy holiday movies on the Hallmark channel. My daughter Jessi stopped by and ended up taking the boys to a fun thing at the High School, so I was mostly alone. Rob picked up Chinese food, wonton soup for me, for dinner so no one had to worry about cooking. It was kind of like a holiday in itself. Except, of course, for that flu part.

I actually almost feel better now, but Connor is laying down holding his belly. The gift keeps giving. If I gave it to any of you, it only lasts about 12 hours. Just long enough to do nothing but watch movies and snuggle under.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What's Up With That?

Soomeone asked me once what does "saved" mean. Not in a conversational way, but more of a confrontational way. It caught me off guard, and I stammered, "Eternal damnation and the Lake of Fire, I think." I can add something else to my growing list of things that Jesus Christ has saved me from. When He comes to take His people home, I will be saved from the Tribulation.

I just read a book by Dr. David Jeremiah that answered the many questions I had about the Rapture and about the end of days. Living in these times, with all the chaos, both natural and man-made, you can't help but wonder what is going on. In Dr. Jeremiah's book, "What In The World Is Going On?", he looks at 10 different aspects of our world today and relates them to prophecy found in the Bible. He examines how Israel becoming a state in 1948 officially ushers in the end times. We all know that the world is moving towards a global economy, much of it stabilized by oil. What does it mean when the stabilizing force is run by a group of nations that hate Christians and Jews? How does that influence the world market? What do the terms "rapture", "anti-Christ", and "Armageddon" actually mean? More importantly, how do we as believers fit into this picture?

You could go to the History channel, except that there is no guarantee that the "experts" have researched their answers with the power of the Holy Spirit. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we know that He only has what is best for us. Not necessarily comfortable or happy, but what is ultimately for our good. Watching a secular show interpret Bible prophecy would leave me chilled to the bone, without including the hope that Scripture promises us. Dr. Jeremiah's book tempers each prophecy with how it relates to us a believers.

"What In The World Is Going On?" is written in language that doesn't require a degree in Biblical studies to decipher. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is asking the question today, "what does this all mean?" I found it to be a fascinating read. I also found that my gratefulness to my Savior has taken on a whole new dimension. Despite all the horrific events to come, I can rest in the fact that Jesus Christ Himself will be coming to escort all of us who believe on His Name out of here. Can I get an Amen?!

Monday, November 17, 2008

To Him, For Him

I would be ungrateful if I didn't take a moment and publicly recognize God's faithfulness. As I've shared, the last few weeks have been trying. I did try to keep my focus on the Lord, trust in Him, and keep praying for the situation. While it hasn't resolved, I can truthfully say that I am not an anxious mess. I can promise you that when you stop worrying and start praying, intentionally, the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. This is the promise that Paul writes of in Philippians.

I would also be ungrateful if I didn't recognize the prayers of others, some friends I know and some friends I don't know. But, like the scripture Shelley pointed out, these friends have raised their voices in prayer with me and for me, and I have felt them. I humbly praise God and thank Him for all of you.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Timing Is Everything

I always joke that the timing of each of my childrens' entrances into the world has played a key role in how they function in their lives. Allow me to explain:

  • Child #1: Arrived one week past her due date. Has been playing catch up and marching to her own sense of timing ever since.
  • Child #2: Arrived exactly on her due date. Has continued to manage herself well, for the most part. Sees what she wants and goes for it. Now.
  • Child #3: Started to come three weeks early, ended up two days late. Has a habit of starting strong, but getting distracted along the way. Divine interruptions maybe?
  • Child #4: Induced 1 1/2 weeks early due to GBS issues. Fought long and hard to stay in there. Nursed til he was pried off the breast at age 2. Dragged into kindergarten against his will. Still says he's not ready to sleep in his own bed.
  • Child #5: Showed up 2 1/2 weeks early, probably because he felt like it. Anyone who has seen this one swagger down the church hallway knows exactly what I'm talking about. Case in point: I was rubbing his back when he was in his crib tonight. He looked up and said "neck", so I rubbed his neck. Then he said "head" so I rubbed his head. Then he looked up and said "done". I guess we were finished.

Having defined all my children in the most simplistic of terms, I am confident of this: That He, who began a good work in each of them, will bring it to completion in the day of the King's return. Whatever has been started will continue to grow and blossom in each of them, in the Lord's own timing.

I marvel at the differences between each of my children. They are each special and unique, different, yet still mine. And each one of them has a plan and a purpose to fulfill, something that I didn't have a hand in planning. I wonder how their gifts, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses will work together to create the life that their Heavenly Father has chosen them for. "For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2:10, NLT.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Way

Conversation from my walk this morning, coming up a big hill, hoping to hear from God:
Man walking dog: You took the hill, huh?
Me, puffing slightly: It's the only way home.
God: Can you hear Me now?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Flight Instruction

So, I've spilled my guts and you all know my family isn't picture perfect anymore. I was hoping to still have a few of you fooled. I have been praying, looking for God's word, and feeling kind of selfish about it. Like, shouldn't I be doing more? Something active? I don't know...standing in front of my child with a shield and a sword? I felt selfish asking for prayers for my guidance when there seems to be a bigger need.

My smart friend said it's like putting on your own air mask first before you attend to those around you. If I'm not getting any oxygen, I will not survive to care for everyone else. I like that thought. And about the sword and the shield, I am brought to Ephesians 6:11 "Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Strong in the Lord

In a comment I left for someone a few weeks ago, I confessed to feeling kind of complacent lately, like my fire was sputtering. I said that I wasn't looking for trouble, but that I needed to feel alive in Christ in a bigger way. Who was the really wise person who said "Be careful what you wish for?"

The boat is rocking in a big way this week, and shows no sign of settling down. Without going into personal detail, one of my children is walking a fine line between teenage angst and total rebellion. I don't recognize this child at all right now, and it is breaking my heart. As a mom, you feel like you should be able to fix things, and a lot of times you can't. You can only work on yourself.

Enter our new Bible study. In Can We Talk, we go through five steps to analyze a verse or passage of scripture. First Samuel 30:1-6 talks about when the Amalekites raided David's village and made off with all the women and children. While the other men were growing bitter, David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. Did you catch that? David did not look away from God to stare at the bleakness of the situation. He strengthened himself in the Lord, remembering Who he is. He turned to the Lord his God for answers. The Lord, my God.

As I really pondered this passage, I could see similarities. No, the Amalekites have not carted off my loved one, but this kind of trouble only has one source. The enemy is messing with my child and while I can't fix it, I can strengthen myself in my God. I sat down and made a list of some of the scriptures that remind me of the power, strength, and love found in our God.
  • The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. Exodus 15:2
  • "When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2
  • The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chronicles 16:9
  • "After you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation." 1 Peter 5:10
So, with these promises to stand on, I wait. I pray. And I believe.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Encouragement for "Singles"

Hi "Single" Ladies! This is a note of encouragement to everyone who feels like they are spiritually single in their homes. As we are called to teach our children about God and His Ways, sometimes it seems really hard when you are the only one in the house making the effort. This week in Mom Time, Shelley encouraged us through the story of Timothy, as in 1 and 2 Timothy in the New Testament. He was a young pastor that Paul was encouraging in his ministry. Timothy's faith in Jesus Christ was instilled in him through his mother and grandmother. Other texts confirm that his father was into idol worship and other religions of the day. In our day, that might look like a workaholic dad who is only concerned about bringing home a paycheck for his family, looking to the short term instead of the eternal, or perhaps a dad who was raised with "religion" and doesn't understand the need for relationship. Either one can make for a discouraging atmosphere as you seek to instill the Lord's wisdom instead of the world's in your kids.

The second word of encouragement concerns Paul, the author of 1 and 2 Timothy, as well as many of the letters in the New Testament. This is the same Paul, formerly known as Saul, who held the coats for the men who stoned Stephen, the first Christian martyr. This is the same man who went from house to house, dragging Christians off to prison. The Lord converted him in a mighty way, taking Saul's passion for persecuting the church and turning it into a passion for serving Jesus Christ.

If there is someone in your life that seems like a really tough nut to crack, take heart. Remember that no heart is too hardened for God to soften. Cover that person with your prayers, asking the Lord to turn that person's life to Him. Never stop showing, through your own example, how God changed the direction of your life. Don't decide that it is hopeless. That denies the power that belongs only to God.

We serve a mighty and powerful God, who has all things in His hand, in His timing. As you strive to do the best for your kids, hang onto Isaiah 40:31 which says, "But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Take heart, ladies, you are never alone.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Semantics

I think I lied in church, but since it was my own understanding at the time, it can't really be a lie, can it? Pastor Guy asked the question who came to know God as a result of us pursuing Him, and I raised my hand, along with a few other people. When I really started my journey to the Lord 5 and 1/2 years ago, I was seriously searching for something. As I cried out in frustration, "I can't do this by myself anymore" and clearly heard, "You don't have to" I know it was God calling me to come to Him. But, since He had been waiting for that day longer than I can fathom, does it mean He showed up because I pursued Him? Or did He speak up because I finally noticed Him standing there? Are we really pursuing Someone who has been there all along? This question has been rolling around in my mind since Sunday.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fire Works

I happened on to a new blog that I am really enjoying. Her real name is Heaven. Not only does she have good posts, she is a for real person. The things I think, she writes. I am liking being challenged by her. Her last post was about freedom. It made me think about when I used to feel really free. Not in a 'do whatever I want' kind of way, but the free you feel when a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders. The free you feel on the first day of summer vacation. Giddy and excited and limitless. As I'm writing this, my mind is racing. I am beginning to understand Jesus' desire that we come to Him like little children, full of anticipation. Jesus is not asking us to come to Him so we can be filled with complacency. He wants us to have joy, life to the full. Not status quo.

My prayer for myself, and you, is that we are filled with the fire of our Living God. To stop being so busy in dotting the i's and crossing the t's that we miss out on the big adventure of following Christ.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Story of "God of This City"

Being a huge Chris Tomlin fan, I listen to everything he sings. His new song God of This City has the most amazing story behind it. There is an Irish band called BlueTree that was visiting friends in Thailand. Without being overly graphic, anything and everything of a sexual nature is for sale there, with women and children being exploited to an unbelievable degree. This band finds themselves able to play a set at a bar frequented by prostitutes and out of town business men. They are allowed to play for as long as they keep buying sodas. They sang every worship song they knew for hours, over and over. Suddenly they began singing this song, one they had never heard or played. It was like a word straight from God to the hopeless and the lost, in a place that needs the light of Christ more than anything. I can tell you personally, when I heard the story behind the song on KLOVE,I got some serious Holy goosebumps. I couldn't speak for the tears running down my face. I know beyond anything I have known before that the Lord Himself delivered this song to that band in that place. Enjoy the video! By the way, I got my Chris Tomlin tickets to his January 31st show in Madison, 16th row!!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Game I Can Play

You know those email chain letters that ask you 20 questions and want you to answer it and forward it to 5 friends? Well, I usually fill myself in on the question "Most likely not to answer this" and send it back. Frankly, I don't think anyone cares what color shirt I'm wearing today or what the last movie I cried during was. A well timed long distance commercial can get that award. Anyway, I think I found something useless but fun to be excited about:

The Six-Word Memoirs.

How would you describe your life in six words? Click herehttp://www.smithmag.net/sixwords/archive.php?featured=1&tag=&offset=60 to see some funny ones, and the book they came from.

I have lots of ideas, but I'm having trouble choosing the right six words. Here are some finalists:
  • I'm dazzled by my own humility.
  • Slow start but a strong finish.
  • Psalm 40, but is that cheating?
  • But it was a real recipe...(that was for my girls!)
  • I gave it my best shot.
  • This is harder than it looks.
  • So that's where they come from.
  • Lived well, laughed often, loved much.

Just for fun, leave a comment with your own Six Word Memoir. I promise not to send you any emails asking what you had for dinner or where you went to grade school. But in case you are wondering about me, frozen pizza and JE Jones in Cudahy. Yes, I said Cudahy.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fresh Air

Did you ever just need to get outside of yourself, to experience some of the BIGNESS of God? I felt like that this weekend, and got to achieve it to some degree. During worship time at Bible Study, there was a picture of a woman standing on a hill overlooking a body of water, her arms outstretched in worship. Looking at that picture, I almost felt physically unable to stay confined to the chapel. I had this need to get outside, get to the highest point, and shout out to God. I felt like I wouldn't be able to get high enough, or close enough to stay sane.

I talked my husband into going for a walk at Minooka Park with the boys on Saturday. There is a spot all the way up the road that comes out at the top of a hill. Not a huge hill, but big enough. The view was beautiful with all the trees giving glory to God in a burst of color. Even Connor commented that the trees must be really happy to look like that. We just spent some time running up and down that hill, enjoying the view and the fresh air. While I didn't shout out to God, I did thank Him for His bounty and goodness in our lives.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hand Holding

"For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you,
"Do not fear, I will help you."
Isaiah 41:13
Warning: This post is not a slight to left-handed people, just a thought that was laid on my heart as I read this scripture. Being a right-handed person, I couldn't help but find personal significance to me in this promise. If God had not specified a hand to hold, I would have offered my left hand, because I don't use that one as much. He wouldn't get in the way. Yes, I know how bad that sounds. All the important stuff, writing, stirring pots, wiping noses, it is all lead by the right hand. With God holding that one, He gets to be involved in everything I do. I picture a three-legged race, except with arms. Every step I take, He takes. If He only got what I offered, I would just drag Him along behind me like a slow-poke child. Totally not fitting for the God of the Universe.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And I Thought No One Was Looking


Apparently my secret gluttony of the previous blog is not such a secret. And also apparently, there were Hershey kisses still in the wrappers even, somewhere in the cupboards. After calling Justin's name when I hadn't seen him for a little while, I saw movement under the dining room table. There he was, a pile of shiny foil next to him. When I asked him what he was doing, he said "Me having a party." I was obviously not on the guest list. By the way, those kisses must have been way up in the cupboards because I never found them...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Call It What It Is

Does this kind of dreary, rainy weather make anyone else want to eat like there's no tomorrow, or is it just me? Until this morning I never considered it a sin, more of a quirk. I was reading about sin in my Bible study,gluttony in particular, and I think I've discovered I'm a glutton. A selective, seasonally-challenged glutton. Selective because it needs to be something sweet and salty, or crunchy, or maybe just sweet, but definitely not fruit or vegetable based. Unless it's a Frito, which technically is derived from corn somehow. Seasonally-challenged because I could live on watermelon and ice water all summer, but the minute the thermometer dips below 60 degrees or the sun stops shining, you'd think I was getting ready to go into hibernation.

Anyway, I'm actually not sure why it is a sin. (I hope I didn't just burst any bubbles out there, but I don't really know everything. I just play someone who does in my public life.) I'm sure it has something to do with self-control. Wanting to eat my head off is no better than more serious addictions or sins that we use to fill an empty spot. It does probably signify a deeper need that as long as the bag of crunchy stuff is planted firmly in front of me, I don't need to deal with. So what is a mid-western corn-fed girl to do?

Pray. Ask for that power that is mine to utilize, through Christ''s sacrifice. Remember that when God knit me together in my mother's womb (Psalm 139), He did not have a wooly mammoth in mind. Since sin is anything that separates us from God, He has given us an amazing resource to deal with it. Kratos refers to the power to overcome the sin in our life and live in victory. Even if it is victory over the cupboards. I will be praying that I remember who I am in Christ no matter what the weather or temperature, that I will seek to fill the empty place with the Holy Spirit, not salty things that only satisfy for a few seconds. I will also be praying for strength enough for today, and try not to dwell on the fact that it is only the first week of October. I can make a good choice for today and let tomorrow take care of itself. Also, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to relearn how to crochet. Keep those hands busy...
Disclaimer: I am not against a well-deserved treat. It's the frantic unloading of the cupboard hoping to find a Hershey's kiss still in the wrapper or at least not too dirty frenzy that I am talking about.




Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tribute to Laura

One year ago yesterday I was sitting at a funeral celebrating the life of someone I wish I'd known better. It has been a year already since Laura Powers passed away from breast cancer. Ironically, or by God's grace, her funeral was on what would've been her 39th birthday. During the journey of her final days I learned more than I realized.
  • Don't wait for a "better time" to befriend someone. I met Laura during our Starting Point class two years earlier. She was coming out of her first battle with cancer and even though we had a lot in common, I didn't really pursue a friendship with her. We ran into each other at church and around town and said we should really get together, but never did. She was either busy being well, or busy being sick. I was busy waiting for the right time.
  • We are all put here by the same God, to serve Him through serving one another. Laura and her husband were gracious in their Caring Bridge website, allowing us a glimpse of what was going on in their hearts. One post I will never forget was written by her husband. He said that even though his heart was breaking, he knows that his purpose in life is to glorify God, and that he is here to be His servant through taking care of his wife, for however long he is allowed to do that.
  • Live every day like it is your last. While Laura was in her final months, she was known in her neighborhood as the "grinning bald woman with too much time on her hands." She would dress up the garden gnomes and flamingoes in other people's yards with feather boas. She escaped from the hospice facility to go to WalMart and the mall, no doubt buying things for her husband and daughters to receive after her passing. During a tribute at her funeral, someone shared what she thought Laura's presentation at the pearly gates would look like: Hello, Laura. Did you get all your work done? No, Father, I was busy playing with the kids.
  • While my own heart was breaking at the thought of a mom having to leave her young children, the Lord gave me a Word. Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." Not only was this Word for me, it was a reminder to me that everything is in His hand.

Gentle Reminder

Every now and again I feel like I get a direct word from God about something. Last Sunday while I was sitting in church, even though the sermon was about parenting, I found myself thinking about my husband and how I try to shape him into the person I'm sure he can be. I heard God remind me that Rob is His child, not mine, and that He will take care of the shaping. Hmm.

I was writing in my journal this week and decided to read back over the last year. Apparently God had that same message for me in March, June, and August. And each time I wrote it down like it was a brand new revelation. It made me think of how many times I can tell my own kids something and each time it's like they never heard it before. I wish I could remember all the time that He is the One in control. "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord." Psalm 31:24

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Spinning my Wheels

Do you ever feel like you are trying too hard? Trying too hard to live the way God wants you to? Trying too hard to be everything to everyone? Trying too hard to be something you aren't for that time frame? This could be a pity party, but I think I'm having a "grass is greener over the fence" kind of day. The only good news is that I don't see anyone's grass looking any better than mine.

I would like to make a deep connection through my Bible study with what the Lord has in my mind for me, but the attention span isn't there today. I would like to get some scrapbooking done, but the desire isn't really there. I am pretty sure I would like to make some cards, but I don't really feel like cutting the paper to do it. I had a conversation with a friend to day about getting overwhelmed by any amount of free time. I get so excited to have a few hours each week with only one child that I make all these plans in my head about what I'm going to do. Then I don't actually do anything because I couldn't make up my mind or get started. Next thing I know it's time to get Connor and I missed my chance until next week.

I try so hard to do something that I fail at doing anything. Which begs the question, am I setting the wrong goals?I am just having a wheel-spinning, unsettled time right now. Let's hope that it's not age/hormone related or we are in for a long ride.
Follow-up: 10/2
As I was leaving for NEST after dinner (which I skipped in lieu of a cup of coffee which I ended up spilling all over my husband's dinner anyway), I couldn't help but laugh. I definitely live in a boy's house. Connor and Justin both had their shirts off and were perfecting the fine art of armpit toots. Then, as I was driving to the church, I prayed that God would show me that He loves me in spite of myself and my sorry attitude. I got out of the car and saw a beautiful rainbow in the field across the street. I couldn't help but cry. It was like God putting His arm around me and letting me lean on His shoulder for a minute. Probably need to seek after that more often.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Grand Illusions

I like to set short-term goals when I am on a jog. Sometimes it is only as far as the next tree, depending on how close my lungs are to bursting. This morning I was feeling pretty good, so I set my sights on a light in a window at the end of the street. As I got closer I could see that it wasn't a light at all but only the reflection of a streetlight. It was an illusion.

I thought about how often things in life are like that. I'll feel happy when I get X amount of money. I'll be content if I could lose X amount of weight. If only my husband would act more like that other guy... If only my kids got better grades...As we get closer to these goals, we find that they are not going to result in instant bliss. Nothing will "make you happy" if you are not already content on the inside. Happy is a short term emotional high. Not that it is a bad thing, but happy doesn't last. Joy lasts. Contentment regardless of circumstance lasts. And the only place to go to get the Joy back in your heart is to the real Light. Don't settle for the illusion of what the world tells you is the source of all joy.

I have learned, through trial and error, that when I focus on what seems to make everyone else "happy", life falls short. When I seek to fill my life with the things God wants in it, worship of Him, service to Him, patience and love towards others, I find Joy. I can't explain it, but it's true. It is truly the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:7. A promise from an Everlasting God. No smoke and mirrors here, baby.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

MomTime!

If you came to check out my blog as a MomTime attendee, welcome! The first time I went to MomTime I was only hoping for a quiet place in the week to have some coffee and hang out with my friend Lora. I got a whole lot more than that, more than I bargained for. The lessons and teaching gave me a new perspective on what it means to be a mom. Which was weird, considering that I already had been a parent for 18 years. I knew what the world's perspective on parenting was. This was my first exposure to what God had to say about parenting. Whatever brought you to MomTime, whether it was a place to hang out with your friends, a hope of meeting some friends in your same season of life, or wondering what your exact role is in life, I pray that you find it, and way more!

DISCLAIMER: I do not claim to be an expert in parenting, only someone who has made almost every mistake and lived to tell. Every now and again I have good advice. Most days are filled with equal opportunities to learn and teach. Someone said that maybe God didn't give us our kids so we could teach them about Him, but so they could teach us about Him. Amen to that! They must have been peeking in my windows.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Road Trip Weekend


We made a whirlwind trip to LaCrosse and then up to Wisconsin Rapids this weekend. Just enough time to see everyone we needed and wish we had more time. We got to visit Alex in her first apartment. I was very impressed. It was cute and clean and she even had food in her cupboards. The neighborhood came complete with shirtless college guys playing some sort of frisbee beer game. Guess I have to get used to stuff like that. It was a fun visit.


We headed up to Rapids to see Rob's mom before she goes back to Arizona for the winter. We had a fun time playing golf with the dog and roasting marshmallows on a 4-foot stick that allowed you to cook them from your chair. Connor even caught a toad that he wore on his head for awhile. A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright

My alarm was set for 5:35 this morning to go for a jog before my husband left for work. Since I was wide awake at 4:30, I got up shortly after and turned on the coffee and decided to head out. I was a little worried because it was really dark. Then I saw the moon. It is still almost full and was totally calling me to come outside.

It was so beautiful out. It wasn't cold, and for the first time in a long time I was able to see a sky full of stars.(I'm usually asleep before then.) I chose Chris Tomlin's See the Morning cd on my MP3. Seemed appropriate. So I'm jogging along and look up after being in a neighborhood with houses too tall to see the sky over. It looked like the whole galaxy was spread out before me. I could hear God whisper, "Look what I can do." Since I was only halfway home, that left me a fair amount of thinking time.

I thought about how He "multiplied His signs and wonders" in Egypt through the ten plagues before Pharoah let the Israelites go. The people would need to see what He is capable of so they would know they can trust Him and that He is all Powerful. Sometimes in my life, there will be times when all I will have to hold onto is the knowledge of what God can do. Look at the stars. Remember Who is looking out for me. Amazing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Workshop 101

I am on a quest (again) to get my craft room in order. It was sort of good until the desk I was using left for LaCrosse with my daughter. I put an old kitchen table in the room, which is basically a large surface to collect stuff on. What I really needed was a bookcase or shelf to put all my magazines on. What a happy day it was when I spied the companion shelf to our real computer desk sitting in a corner of the basement not put together yet. I had forgotten all about it. I'll just build this real quick and have my room done in no time, I thought.

Then I couldn't find the screws that came with it. Ok, found them in the tool box. Then I couldn't figure out how to attach the shelves because all the holes were in different spots. Ok, found the directions that came with it in a drawer. Now I know that the problem is the missing L brackets. Joy! Found the brackets on a shelf with old cans of paint. Finally, all the players are in place. We have shelves. We have directions. We have screws. We have brackets. So why are the shelves not sliding into place like in the picture? They are all stuck about 1/4" too high; I can't get them over the screws holding the brackets.

At this point, the question "What level of dysfunction am I willing to live with?" enters my mind. And wow, the spiritual implications sent me reeling. Sometimes I feel like I have all the pieces I need, so why is my life still wobbly? Why isn't everything level and sliding into place like in other people's lives?

As I laid all the pieces of my shelf on the floor for a "starting over" kind of look, I realized my brackets were on upside down. My box came with the upside-down L bracket variety. They should have called them 1/2 T's or something. Once I turned them all the other way, the shelves slid into place and I had a place to stack more stuff.Yes!

The real life implication to me is that even though I feel like I have all the parts for the life I would like to have, if I am not applying them and using them correctly they will only serve to frustrate me. I can read the same Scripture ten times but if I don't take it to heart and apply in my own life, it does me no good.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Garden of Life

When I moved into my house 6 1/2 years ago all the landscaping was done already. There were beautiful perennial gardens, bushes, a terraced layout in front complete with hostas and other green things. I had no idea really what any of it was. I only knew there were no daffodils or tulips, so I put some bulbs in. When those came up in the spring I was so excited. I knew what they were. As the rest of the perennials came up, I wasn't sure what was supposed to be there and what wasn't. I let it all grow and decided to sort it out later in the year when it became obvious what belonged. Later in the year I got preoccupied with other things and never really got back to the sorting process.

By last year, my overgrown weedy mess was really getting on my nerves. I needed a fresh start. One liberating afternoon I took my shovel and spade and dug everything out. That freshly turned over soil was so inspiring. It was a clean slate, just waiting for me to decide what to plant. I put in some black-eyed susans, lavender, pink coneflowers, and some other things that my mom brought over. I weeded and fussed as everything starting blooming. It was so exciting.

I kind of look at my garden in comparison to my growth as a Christian. My life was a weedy mess. Out of control. Couldn't really tell what was supposed to be there and what wasn't. Ok. I knew some stuff that wasn't supposed to be there. I just wasn't sure how to get a fresh start. Five years ago, when I really started on my journey to Christ, I needed a really big shovel and spade to turn the dirt over. I had to pull the weeds of selfishness, pride, anger, envy, and fear. I had to let the Holy Spirit till the soil of my heart, and plant what is supposed to be there. Love, patience, compassion, trust. It was really an exciting time, learning to see life in a new, fresh way. Everyday filled with possibility.

I'm looking at my garden now. The flowers are past their prime. Some of the weeds are moving back into the empty spaces. Everything is getting kind of tired and yellowy looking. Not so vibrant. Some days I feel the same way. As I head into what I have always viewed as a dormant time of year, I need to prepare my heart and spirit for the winter. Pray more. Read more. Make sure there is no room for weeds to grow.

As the days get shorter and colder and the vibrancy of summer fades, don't forget to prepare the garden of your soul for winter. It is during the season that seems the darkest and loneliest that God is setting the stage for incredible beauty.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Hiding In Plain Sight

I grew a zucchini. I know it doesn't sound like much, but just stay with me. Not being much of a vegetable gardener, I planted my tomato patch with irises. I was tired of growing one blossom-rotted tomato each summer. I decided to plant one zucchini plant in a different section of garden. It got huge. It got big yellow flowers. Every day I looked to see if we were growing a zucchini and we were not growing a zucchini. I figured the rabbits must be nibbling off the flowers before they could turn into a zucchini. Then two days ago, I thought I saw a shadow under the leaf and there was a massive zucchini laying there. Yes, it was attached to the stem. No one took pity on me and hid a zucchini in my garden. I can't figure out how something that big could be hiding right in front of my face.

Because everything in my life makes me think of a spiritual parallel, not seeing a giant zucchini makes me wonder what else I am not seeing. What is going on right under my very nose that I am missing? It's almost like God saying that there are things I won't see until it is time to see them. All of the sudden I will look and something will be where nothing was before. If I would've noticed the zucchini as it was growing I would have been out there everyday staring at it. Obsessing, perhaps. I know, it's only a zucchini. I just get excited about stuff.

Maybe I need to stop obsessing over some things and let God do His work. Stop checking the progress and know that there is something mighty in the works. Something to think about...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What??

Daddy to Justin, 2: Why don't you want to sit with me after all the nice things I do for you?
Justin to Daddy: Me busy playing right now.

I think I just heard God saying the same thing to me. And my excuse isn't much better.
"Draw near to God and God will draw near to you." James 4:8

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ready or Not...

Connor, 5, starts kindergarten next week. I have always joked that it would be the happiest, saddest day of my life. Right now it doesn't feel like a happy day coming. You know what I mean... you look forward to something that seems really far away, but when it is rapidly approaching you kind of start to dread it. I am trying not to convey those feelings to him. Instead, we are concentrating on making sure he is ready. Today we had "Lunch Box Training." I packed him a lunch and watched him figure out how to get it all set up himself, stepping in to help only when necessary. I have spent these last days of summer standing back and letting him figure stuff out for himself. Like how to play on a playground when other kids are there. Not easy to stay out of it sometimes.

On the other end of the spectrum, Alex, 19 (20 in three weeks), moves to LaCrosse at the end of this week. Since she is getting an apartment instead of living in the dorms this is the last time she really "has" to come home. I am also trying to make sure she is prepared and still stay out of the way, which is where she actually prefers me to be.

Life is just a juggling act sometimes. Making sure everybody is equipped for what they need to do. I know there are probably many Biblical truths and analogies in here to draw from. But as my heart is heavy sending my babies out into the world, I just need to take a breath, smile, and rest in the arms of my Father, Who probably feels the same way about me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Not "What" But "How"

A friend said something so smart and direct that I had to write it down. When she or someone in her family is going through a tough time, she says, "You're gonna go through this. Are you gonna go through crabby and angry, or in a way that honors God and those around you?" We don't always get to choose our circumstances, but we can always choose how we are going to handle things.

I have been known to irritate people, mostly my older children, by suggesting they look for the positive in any situation. I have been around long enough to know that no situation lasts forever and that eventually most things work out. Sometimes things seem really dark and scary, but I try to remember everything I know about God. He loves me. All things work to glorify Him. All good things come from above. Even, consider my servant, Job. When I walk through the fire He will be with me. Sometimes He allows us to be tested and tried to see how we handle it. Do we turn to Him and accept the mercy He sends our way? Or do we shut out the world, assume God changed His mind about us, and stew?

1 Peter 1:6-8 encourages me: "In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith-being more precious than gold, that, though perishable, is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." If you are in a tough spot, rise up, my friend.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Behind the Scenes

As anyone who knows me knows, I am a pretty confident, capable person. I am usually pretty sure I can accomplish anything I set my mind to by myself. Not that I don't play well with others; I just like things my way. Anyway, now that the stage is set, rewind to a sermon maybe six weeks ago. We were encouraged to pray for a working in our lives that would be unmistakably God's doing. Like a good girl, I prayed sincerely that God would do something so big I would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was Him and not me.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. A conversation with a friend led me to a decision that she needed someone to take charge of some arrangements for her. Of course I felt I was the person for the job. I get stuff done, no problem, I told myself. Little did I know, I was stepping into the arena that I had prayed for. Funny how God does that. I thought there would be a mighty something and I would know it was Him. I did not know He would show up after I had been brought to my knees. Literally.

You're waiting for the fine print. Here it is:
As many of you know, Wydia O'neil is having her kidney transplant this week. I wrote a very nice e-mail and sent it out, expecting everything to fall into place. I got a few responses, and waited. And waited. And started to wonder if this was too big for me. Three times I sat down to write a letter to the powers that be at FRCC to request help from the front on Sunday. Three times I hit delete and could not send out my e-mail. I got to church on Sunday before first service ended, in time to hear Pastor Guy sharing Wydia's story and praying over her. I did not know this was going to take place. Standing at the Ladies Link table, I had many women come up and ask how they could help. All I could say, as I was covered in Holy goosebumps, is "God, You are so good." After letting me struggle under my own steam for awhile, He showed up to save the day. Reminding me that He is faithful, that He is a God of Provision. He was working behind the scenes the whole time. How ever these next few weeks turn out, I will praise God. He showed Himself to me in an unmistakable way, and He rocks! (ps: If anyone feels so inspired, there is always room in the freezer for more meals!)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Eye on the Prize

Watching the Olympics has created some questions in my mind. Since the time these athletes have been little, they have known what their biggest dream is: an Olympic gold medal. It is a tangible goal. A piece of solid gold hanging around their neck, then on the wall, then maybe in a box, then maybe in the attic of some relative that never even knew them. Just the legend remains.

I compare training for the Olympics with running the race Paul talks about in places in the New Testament. Our goal is less tangible. Or at least it is to me. I can try to be an imitator of Christ, but by its very nature, the word imitator implies doing it under my own strength. As we run our race, we are to do as Christ does, but by the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. Sometimes I'm chugging along and I feel like sitting down in the middle of the track, while I wait for the Spirit to catch up to me. Other times I wonder how I got so far, and I realize it is like the Footprints poem-He carried me.

Sometimes I just wish I could get a glimpse of the prize waiting for me, but as I write this, I know I already have. To live with our King, to always have that feeling that occasionally I get that is too overwhelming for words. Writing this out has helped me to realize that I already know more than I thought. While an Olympic medal is cool and all, the prize I am training for is too big to be kept in someone's attic.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And the Winner Is...

I must admit to being a little starstruck. My closest brush with Hollywood, by way of South America, comes through Mark Lambrecht. For the 1% of the local population living under a rock, he was on this season of the Mole on ABC. And if you don't know yet, he WON!

Not knowing Mark personally, I have only seen him at church, usually wearing a soccer warm up suit. While I realize that watching someone up close and personal on TV is not the same as knowing them, it was cool to see him be someone admirable and respectable on the show. Like someone you would be proud to say, "Hey, that guy goes to my church!" about. He never compromised or double crossed anyone. Even when he could have made it easier for himself, he made the best choice for the team on more than one occasion.

The best part about Mark winning the pot was so his wife can look forward to staying home with their new baby arriving soon. But, Brenda, we'll still get those Kick-Off signs done, right? Brenda??

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Because...

This morning in my quiet time, the word quiet being loosely translated, I was wondering why God would love me and how would I know. He answered, "Because I said so." Hmmm...If I expect that to be a good enough answer for my kids sometimes, I guess I need to take Him at His Word.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Unequally Yoked (Updated)

While there are many struggles and "opportunities for growth" in marriage, one of the toughest for me has been to be unequally yoked in my faith with my husband. It is a lonely feeling to be so pumped up after a mountain-top experience like a retreat, a really good sermon, or even a concert, and not have the person closest to you want to share that. While it almost seems disloyal to blog about this, there is no disrespect intended. I know without a doubt that I am supposed to be married to my husband. Even though he doesn't always "get" me, I know he loves me.

I first heard the phrase unequally yoked about a year ago. It comes from the Bible and refers to plow animals in a yoke. If they are not equally matched, they only go in a circle. Ideally, the little one would pick up the pace, but realistically, the big one has to make the accomodation if they want to make it to the finish line. In Sacred Marriage, the author says what if marriage wasn't designed to make us happy, but to make us more holy. Not holier-than-thou, but holy as we are called to be transformed into Christ's image.

When the person we are to love the most makes a comment that hurts our feelings, the best thing we can do is put on our shield of faith. Deflect those ugly things by focusing on whatever is true, noble, beautiful, and righteous about that person. Dig deep. Sometimes the best thing you can say is Thank you, God, for my husband because he showers regularly.

Another big thing I've learned is that pouting only robs me of the joy I feel in my own life; it does not give my husband a sense of the Holy Spirit when I have a chip on my shoulder.

The absolute biggest thing I have had to learn in the last few years, and by far the hardest, is that I cannot control my husband's walk to faith. I can pray for him. I can pray for another to be a good example for him. I can make my request known to God with prayer and thanksgiving, but I can not change him myself. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

If you are in my same shoes, don't just hang in there. Stand firm in your faith. Don't take your eyes off God to focus on what you wish would change. Remember that God is doing a work in your husband, too, even if we can't see it.

Father God, I pray for my sisters who are in this struggle. I ask You to help them see You in every small step, even the backwards ones. I pray that we would all be able to see You at work, even when it doesn't look the same in each of us. I pray that they have strength in You, to remember that You love them, even when it seems very lonely. Lord, please send them friends to lean on, to encourage them on this journey. Help them to not get bitter, but to see their marriage as a chance to show Your love to those who matter most to them.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

I cannot believe it has been three years since I wrote this post. I would love to tell you that the world looks vastly different, but it doesn't. I can tell you that God has continued to use me in my husband's life, to be a voice of hope to him, and to provide godly counsel when needed. I have had to walk out the desires of my heart in moderation because some things he just doesn't get, and I can't let my enthusiasm for all things Jesus become a wedge between us. I know, though, that God will give me the desires of my heart me when I honor Him through obedience.  At the bottom of it all, I still know that God is in control and will bring my husband along in His timing. (August 8, 2011)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Just Be Available

Sometimes I feel funny blogging about good things that happen when I do what God is asking because it feels like I'm bragging. Then today Beth Moore mentioned that angels are keeping track of every time we boast in the Lord. This post is totally about that, because on my own power I know my weaknesses are many.

Last night, looking around at all the ladies, God put a burden for one in particular on my heart. I was daydreaming and could see her walking out during the first session, and me following her to introduce myself. About 5-10 minutes after that little brain break, she did get up and walk out into the lobby. I was thinking, am I really supposed to follow her? I don't generally hunt people down like rabbits, but I was convicted of being "competently competent". I followed her, made some small talk, introduced myself, and went back in to the session. I didn't see her for the rest of the night.

This morning I was prompted to save a seat for this young woman. We sat together for the opening session, then I went to the front to wait for someone who needed encouragement during the in-between prayer time. I could see my new friend sitting by herself while I was waiting for someone to approach me; at this point I was feeling like a wallflower at a middle school dance, hoping someone would talk to me. I heard God whisper, "I already introduced you to your date for this dance." (It makes me laugh that God has a sense of humor like mine.) I approached my new friend and asked if there was something I could pray about for her. It turns out we have a whole lot in common. I was able to come alongside someone who I would not have been able to if I didn't listen to God tell me to go introduce myself to her.

Please don't read this as a Yea Me! post. This is totally a Yea God! thing. He used two of my friends to get me to this event, so I could get to someone else. It is too big for me to fathom, the love and beauty behind it all. I am so grateful to be a small part of it. So, Yea God!

Who's Leading Whom

This weekend was the Beth Moore Simulcast. I was planning to go. Then I wasn't going to go. Then I had to go because someone I mentioned it to bought a ticket since I was going. Lots of back and forth. In her talk, Beth Moore talked about her really smart puppy and her husband's "preoccuppied" puppy. He was calling his puppy, who was not getting the message. Beth's puppy picked up a stick, brought it over to the other puppy who grabbed on, and delivered him to Beth's husband, with an expression that said, "I heard you calling him so I brought him over to you." Beth Moore related that to how we can hear God calling other people and why aren't they hearing it, too?

I consider myself to be fairly in tune to where God wants me. Apparently I was not getting His message because He sent two people over with a stick to get me to His feet this weekend. Praise God that I have friends who are watching out for me. And I always thought I was the smart puppy.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Third Day on Jay Leno

What an awesome witness for God!!I get goosebumps just thinking about all the people who don't know the Lord checking out Third Day on YouTube or something and finding out Who they are really singing about. This is the Jay Leno clip, "Just Call My Name".

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thanks, I Think...

The other night Justin, 2, kept asking for oatmeal. I wasn't even sure if he knew what he was asking for, so I showed him the packet, he said "Wah!", so I made it. Connor tried some too.
I asked Connor how it was and he said,"Good. It didn't even taste like puke. It only looks like it."

"Thanks, I think."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rocks, Flowers, and Cheetahs

Yesterday was a test of my character. To backtrack a little, Saturday was our anniversary and I got some really big rocks. Not of the diamond variety, but of the granite cobblestone variety to do some landscaping in a forgotten section of our yard. Once we got the rocks in place, we (I) needed some flowers to plant in my soon-to-be rock garden, so we went to Stein's.

After clarifying to my husband that groundcover does not refer to black dirt, I picked out what I wanted and managed to stay somewhat in my budget. I took my purchases to the teenager at the cashier window (that's a clue) and she rang me up, giving me a total that was far less than what I had calculated. I confirmed with her that she rang up my flat of flowers, assumed I missed a sale sign someplace, and left. It was only as I was looking over the receipt on the way home that I found her error. She had charged me for a flat of annuals-$6, instead of a flat of perennials-$39. Herein lies the problem. I had tried to tell her I think she must have missed something, that it was too cheap. As I was mulling this over, a car passed with the license plate CHEEETA. Now, it could have said cheetah. Or it could have said cheater.

I did go back to the store and pay the difference so I can enjoy my garden with a clear conscience. This does not make me a hero, to do the right thing. It just makes me someone who, in this moment, saw a chance to right a wrong and actually did it. It's a good feeling.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A New Life


Seeing God work so clearly in someone's life is amazing. My friend Angie is on the Kenya mission trip right now because she woke up one day and realized she couldn't not go on the trip. Instead of trying to rationalize why she shouldn't go, she said Yes to God. This is my same friend Angie who wasn't sure about signing up for a Bible study with me last fall because it wasn't really her thing. This is my same friend Angie who wasn't ready to go on the Women's Retreat when I asked her, but ending up coming at the last minute, and accepted Christ as her Savior. This is my same friend Angie, who, when the Holy Spirit whispered "Africa" in her ear, dropped everything and signed on. "She is a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away, everything has become new." 2 Corinthians 5:17
We had a Kenya shower for her before she left. We prayed for her and gave her a scrapbook to fill with pictures, a journal with Scriptures written in it to give her strength on the journey, and practical stuff like personal hygiene wipes, toilet seat covers, and bug spray wipes. This is a picture of our get-together. Angie is on my right (or left, I'm never sure how that works) in the pink sweatshirt. It is Angie, me, my mom Jan, Lisa, and Charity. The girls.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Second Adolescence




I have finally figured out why I feel compelled to go to every concert that comes along. I have been saved for about 4 years now, and by my calculations, that makes me an adolescent Christian. And what do teenagers do? We go to concerts. Seriously though, there is nothing more awesome than standing with a group of believers, hands raised in worship to our great God. Between Chad James Saturday night, and Ignite Chicago all day Sunday, this has been an amazing weekend.

As I figure out who I am in Christ, I feel younger, like I have my whole life in front of me. I am enjoying this second chance at adolescence through Christ. I am tired today, because my 41 year old body is reminding me that I am not really 15, but I am not weary. I gave that feeling away.
"Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Planks and Beams

I take pride (that's a clue) in not being able to think of anything when a speaker asks what we are hanging onto that we should give up to God. My spirit puffs up as I think of all the stuff I have taken care of over the past 5 years. Then, a sin I could hardly see due to the large piece of wood in my eye comes into view. I realize I have rationalized maintaining control over my first three kids since the beginning of my second marriage, instead of letting my husband in on the discussions or issues taking place. As I write this, my heart is beating faster. Not allowing the God-ordained head of my household have much say into the lives of his step-children flat out says I am not at the level of trust with God that I would like to be. If I want to live my life submitted to God's will, I have to be willing to go wherever that is. And if Rob does not support a decision of mine, I have to remember that God is in control. When I make decisions without him, or Him, I am being prideful and willful. And probably not doing what I should be if I have to do it in secret, with the cliff notes coming later. I have to go now. I owe someone a huge apology.
"If I confess my sin, He is faithful to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness"
1 John 1:9

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ignite Chicago

Hi All!
This post is part advertisement and part praise for God. The advertisement is this:
I have in my possession an extra ticket for the Ignite Chicago concert event taking place next Sunday, July 20th. The ticket cost me $39.50 plus shipping and handling. I will give the ticket to the first person who calls with the money going to FRCC. It will not go in my pocket. I would like to put it towards either the Kenya BBQ party or send someone to the Beth Moore Simulcast. Since it is one of those open air events, there is no assigned seating. You can bring a friend, or hang out with me, my daughters, and my aunt. We are all pretty fun, if I don't say so myself. I've been tossing this around in my mind for a week or so, but finally came to a firm decision this morning on my walk.

Here's the praise part: When I got back from my walk, the phone rang. It was the marketing company that calls for diaper studies calling to see if I could come Wednesday morning for 20 minutes. The pay: $40. I always say there is no such thing as a coincidence. I gave $39.50 to God, he increased my gift and is giving me back $40. No matter how many times I say it, it never gets less true: You can't outgive God. Of course I realize our blessings don't always come back to us in the same currency, but this was just really clear to me. I made the right decision.

If you want more info about the concert, go to http://www.ignitechicago.com/ . Mercy Me, David Crowder, and the Newsboys (I know! The Newsboys!) are some of the bigger acts.
Update: I had two calls about the ticket so it is sold. Praise Him!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cake (or pie) Walk

This morning was a true test of my commitment to go for a walk every other morning. I had a somewhat sleepless night not only because of the storms but due to some really good coffee I had with my pie at Bakers Square last night. The pie, French Apple Cream Cheese, was out of this world good; it is also the culprit for my insistence on walking. It was drizzling at 0530 and I was waffling in my commitment. I was comparing sticking with the Narrow Way (Go for your walk, wimp) and turning to the easy way (It's yucky out and you're tired anyway) when the going gets tough. In the end, being sure I wouldn't melt in a puddle of sweetness, I laced up my shoes and took off for my power walk, proud of myself for sticking with it.

I got about three blocks when a giant clap of thunder rang across the sky. It was then that I had the blind obedience talk with myself. Was I more interested in doing the right thing only for its own sake? Yes, it is good to be committed to something. It is also necessary to examine that commitment and make sure it is the right one at the right time. Sometimes I get really caught up in doing something just because I started it. Knowing when it is okay to not do something is as important as knowing when to continue. This morning, knowing when to turn back did not make me a quitter or a wimp, it just made me smart. And a tiny bit drier.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Rest Easy

A couple of weeks ago, I read a really good book that brought on some really deep thoughts and realizations for me. Then last week my husband was on vacation. Home. All week. Not that having him around isn't compatible with deep thoughts. There is just a lot of "honey do" going on. I am blessed to have an extremely motivated guy. If I mention that it might be nice to move some bushes so I can put more flowers around the patio, he comes with a shovel two minutes later. I have learned over the years not to think out loud until I mean it.

This last week gave me a chance to enjoy the epiphanies I had the previous week. To really be content where I am at, and see what God has for me right in my own backyard. Literally. To hang out and appreciate my own family for a change, and connect with people I haven't had a chance to lately. While there are always projects on all four burners for me, I am resting in the Lord right now.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

A parade, some new sand for the sandbox, some new flowers to plant, watermelon, and fireworks. Life is good!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Humble Pie

I've heard that to confront your own sin, you have to name it. Call it by what it is. Since I am considered a bit of a control freak by some, I think I would call that PRIDE. I like things my way, because in a lot of instances, especially related to my older kids, I think I know best. Somehow being a restaurant manager in the past leaves me feeling the need to manage things in all areas of my life, including friendships. Also, I was a big fish in a very small pond for awhile. Slowly, though, I am learning that people can relate to one another without it needing to directly involve me. Did you know that with one very small exception the entire world's population is made up of other people? People who really don't care what I'm thinking about them or even that I exist in the first place? Who knew? Anyway, all these things boil down to one sin: PRIDE. I am good at putting myself low on the food chain-I am a mom after all. I just like to be recognized for my self-sacrificing nature. I would love to be humble...but what if no one notices?

Friday, June 27, 2008

A State of Equilibrium

I finished the book I was reading, about finding God in the clutter of life. Wow! What an awesome read. Fluffy enough to be fun, filled with anecdotes from the author's life, but deep enough to have me scrambling to find a pen to underline stuff. (No, I'm not making any commission should anyone try to find the book.) Most of you who know me know that I am a do-er, not a be-er. Always looking for what God needs me to do. Always waiting for that next door to open, like there is actually a tier system of service, instead of one Body and many parts. Anyway, the author, Elizabeth Cody Newenhuyse, said what if no doors are opening or closing because we are already in the room. Not feeling any particular prompting or call towards something because I am already where I'm supposed to be. Living in such an achievement-oriented society makes this kind of thinking (for me anyway) sort of revolutionary and out of the box. Not that I think God wants me to stagnate where I'm at for the rest of my life. But to recognize that in this time, in this place, with these people, is where I belong. How cool is that?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

All-Sufficient Grace

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not stray from it." Proverbs 22:6 These are words of comfort to someone who has known the Lord since before they became a parent. What about the rest of us who set an ungodly, selfish example of how to be a grown-up and that is bearing its own thorny fruit? When my older kids were in elementary and middle school, I was very busy making sure that life was making me happy. I was working more than full time and had very little left to go around. Since I got married at 18 and was feeling like I missed out on the "fun" stuff, I was making up for lost time. Anyway, suffice it to say that I didn't instill the values and choices in my kids that I plan to with the little guys. The proverb about how to raise your children was filling me with a lot of guilt and trepidation, which I do know are not of God. Godly repentance when faced with my sin is what He wants, not a constant rehashing of everything I did wrong, but I could not find a way to stop.

So, I prayed. I asked God to forgive me for not teaching the kids about Him, and for being more concerned with my own happiness than what they needed at the time, which was security and to be a priority in my life. I told Him that I was worried about the far-reaching consequences of my actions. The Lord answered my prayer with a verse that reminds me of His mercy towards a sinner like me: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Grrrr!

Without making a big deal of it or psyching myself out, I have been getting up early to walk, like for exercise. (If I say it outloud, the desire might disappear!) Anyway, this morning I had an encounter with the devil, sort of. As I was walking past a house, I wanted to change the song on my phone MP3 player, so I slowed down. I looked up and saw a big German Shepherd sitting next to the front step. I looked again for a second too long. Realizing my mistake, I started walking again, but not before the dog got up with a throaty growl and started loping towards me. I turned and said "NO!" and stood my ground. He put his head down and went back to the porch. Now, in his mind, he may not have left his driveway. But in my mind, he was not going to stop and it would be worse if I ran. I started thinking how if we look sin, and the devil, square in the face and yell "NO!", he will go off in search of an easier lunch. "Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, stand steadfast in your faith." 1 Peter 5:8-9

Monday, June 23, 2008

Again, Be Here Now

During my weekend of bargain hunting I picked up a book called "God, I Know You're Here Somewhere, Finding God in the Clutter of Life." At present I am trying to lay in the sun on a cloudy day so my birthday dress (not b'day suit!) looks pretty at dinner tonight. Anyway, I just came across a line that was too good not to share: My real life isn't in the way. It points the way. Wow! So many times I have wondered what God wants from me and how am I supposed to accomplish it in my present situation. This author reminds me that I have to first look for Him here, and He will take me to places yet undreamed of. I do need to be bonked in the head repeatedly with the same information before it sinks in. I think we're getting closer!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another Year Older...

Tomorrow is my birthday, but we celebrated with all the kids today. Tacos, ice cream cake, presents, and tons of laughter. It doesn't get any better than this. Except it actually does. Yesterday morning I opened my door to go walking at 6:30 and found fresh muffins on a pretty tray from a friend. Then I got a foosball table at a yard sale for $15. Totally unrelated to my birthday but cool nonetheless. The cutest part of the weekend was the new dress the kids gave me. Connor (5) asked Jessi (21) if they could buy me a pretty dress so Rob could take me out to dinner on my birthday. I did not even put him up to this. How sweet is that?! So they did, and we are. Not sure where, because I am so full of tacos and DQ cake that I can't even imagine being hungry again. Any ideas? Let me know by 4 pm Monday!