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


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...