Tuesday, December 30, 2008
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
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
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
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
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
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
6 The Lord gives righteousness
7 He revealed his character to Moses
19 The Lord has made the heavens his throne;
20 Praise the Lord, you angels,
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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
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
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
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
- 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
Monday, November 10, 2008
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
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
Saturday, November 1, 2008
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
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
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
Thursday, October 23, 2008
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
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
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
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
- 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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
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
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!
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
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
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
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
Monday, July 21, 2008
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
"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
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
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
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
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
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