Saturday, September 26, 2009

M.O.M. Time!

It is almost here! We start up on October 6, and I am so excited. In case you aren't familiar with it, M.O.M. Time is a ministry for mothers of younger children. Married, single, five kids or 1 baby, all are welcome. You do not have to attend Fox River to attend MT. By the way, if you are noticing a change in the appearance in the name, it is not your imagination.

M.O.M. Time is, at its heart, a mentoring ministry. We seek to help other moms navigate, biblicially, through motherhood. This has always been the goal, and the M.O.M. stands for Mentoring Other Mothers. It is not easy being a mom. Some have given up careers to stay home with little ones. Some had little ones before they were done being "little" themselves. Some thought they were done having little ones and find themselves right back where they started from. (In case you didn't know, that's me!) Regardless of when you became a mom, you can end up feeling like you've lost a part of yourself in the process. There are unique challenges associated with being a mom to little kids that can suck the life right out of you.

Or, you can view it as God does. He will use your children to grow you up, to look more like Him. God will use your kids to shape you into the woman He knows you can be. M.O.M. Time is a forum for learning about that, hanging out with friends, and making some new ones. (We are making it easier to accomplish that last one.)

I am really excited about this year. It will look a little different than past years, but the mission is the same. I know many of you are wondering how Journey and the New Testament Challenge fit into M.O.M. Time, and how M.O.M. Time fits into Journey. Basically, Journey is the umbrella that all other groups at FRCC fall under. Even though you don't have to attend Fox River to be in M.O.M. Time, it is still a Fox River group.

All of the Journey groups, including MT, will be doing the New Testament Challenge, reading through the NT in 9 weeks. But, we are still focusing our Tuesdays on exploring what the Bible has to say to moms of young kids. We will be encouraging our attendees to read the assigned portion each week, but we will be focusing on a narrow section of scripture to discuss, and you will know ahead of time what that is. Many of you have wondered if you should still come to MT if you are signing up for something else. MT will obviously have a different slant than the other groups, because we are specifically geared to a specific season of life, that of raising young children.

I hope you will come join us and find out what the Bible has to say to you as a mom. It is a season that redefines your life, and if you don't find that definition in Christ, it can be a tough time. Come navigate that road with others who are walking it with you. Our leadership team, made up of Sherry Judy, Rene' Wade, Becky Thomas, Shelley Gallamore, and myself, has over 75 years of parenting between us. Some of us have walked with Christ the entire time, and some of us are just figuring that out. Come learn and grow with us!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Little Treasures

Rarely are we given something as priceless as children. If kids were fine china, we would tuck them in a special cabinet behind a protective window. We have something of infinitely more value, but get so caught up in the mundane that we miss the wonder of it all. We like to say we "have" kids, but in reality, we "receive" them. They are entrusted to us; we are their parents, but also their stewards.

Tonight I stayed up way too late to finish reading My Sister's Keeper, which details a family's battle with their child's cancer. As I was sitting here reading, I had to fight the urge to go check on my kids. To put my hand on their backs, to feel their chest rise with breath. I love tucking them in at night, feeling their little heads beneath my hand, giving them one last kiss in the little sweaty fold of their neck while they lay on their tummies. I breathe deep, smelling little boy smell...a little dirt, a little ice cream, sometimes shampoo.

Time has a sneaky way of erasing things we think we will never forget...the weight of a baby's bottom in our arms as we nurse, the scent of a newborn, even the way their little voices sound and the funny words they make up. My older kids are 17, 21, and 22, and it hurts me to say that I know I've forgotten things I was sure I would never forget.

Some of these precious memories are given back. When my oldest daughter holds her daughter, I am reminded of my first years as a mom. But even now, I marvel at how fast time passes. Treasure it, I want to shout. Even knowing all I know, it is so hard sometimes to live in the moment, appreciating how fleeting it really is.

Tonight, my six-year-old wanted me to come out after dinner and play baseball with him. I can still see his little face looking through the screen door, watching me finish up the dishes. He said, "I know cleaning up is more important than playing. I'll wait."

I turned off the water and went outside. We played until it was too dark to see the ball.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Dinner Blues

School has started, ministries are kicking off, life is in full swing, and I have flecks of beef popsicle melting in my hair. I got the dinner blues, baby.

In an effort to not eat Aunt Jemima Complete Pancake Mix pancakes for dinner more than once a week, I am trying to get better organized on the cooking front. I have perfected the art of meat muffins, which, as funky as they sound, are a life saver. Anything you can make in bulk out of ground beef can be frozen in individual servings in a muffin tin. My favorites are sloppy joes and taco meat.

A recipe I learned from my friend Shelley is to put all of the ingredients for beef stew in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Make sure there is enough liquid to cover the potatoes or they won't keep well. You can store it in the fridge for a few days, or freeze it for future use. (This is how I ended up with beef stew popsicle all over my head. I had just a little trouble getting the block out of the ziploc bag. Shards of broth were flying...I almost got the goggles out of my kids' tool box.)

Last weekend I decided at the last minute to attend our block party, which of course meant I needed a dish to pass. A single serving of chili saved the day. That, and my love of all things cheese. I spread cream cheese in a pie plate, topped that with the chili, and sprinkled it with some shredded cheddar. While that was baking I ran to Pick-n-Save for tortilla chips. Voila'...a dish to pass.

My downfall, though, to preplanning, is skimming, not reading, the recipe. I made a big pan of lasagna for my mom's birthday celebration one year. In an effort to be the gracious hostess not tied up in the kitchen, I made it earlier in the week and froze it. I read the baking directions: cook for 45 minutes without foil. No problem...except when I took it out from the oven it was still frozen solid. I had missed the part that said cook for one hour with the foil on top. There I was in the kitchen sawing frozen lasagna into chunks to put in the microwave. That, and a screaming infant in the Johnny-Jump-Up swinging from the kitchen door, made it a night to remember.

What tips do you have to share to keep from singing the dinner blues? Anything you do ahead of time to keep the bewitching hour unbewitched? I know I have a lot of smart friends out there, and most of us are tired of rotating the same six meals. Let's share our ideas.

Some of my favorite, albeit under-utilized, resources are:
Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade cookbooks
Taste of Home cookbooks

If you are a blogger, let's link up our posts. If you are reading this on FB, leave your best thoughts in a comment. I'm looking forward to sharing life with you!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Am a Refugee

It was dark when I woke up this morning. It is just that time of year, when it is not bright enough out to convince that I am really supposed to get out of my cocoon and go sit in my cold, dark living room and read my Bible. Except that I know Jesus is waiting to meet with me, that His Word is life, and that my day will be better for it. The fact that I set my coffee to brew automatically doesn't hurt either...I can smell it from my that smell.

Anyway, I was sitting here this morning reading in the Psalms. 56 and 57 to be exact, trusting God under persecution. What I have learned through my five years of actively pursuing God is that Christians are not exempt from problems. Following hard after God doesn't mean your life will be perfect. (Can I get an Amen?!) But, what it does promise is that you will never again walk alone through your troubles. It also means that in your Bible you have all the instruction you need to deal with trouble. The tricky part is doing it.

I am a can-do kind of girl. Independent. Sassy to a degree. I like to fight my own battles to prove that I am right. God, however, has not asked us to do that. He has, commanded, us to take refuge in Him. Let Him get His hands dirty on our behalf. For someone who likes to get the last word, that is not so easy.

God has allowed a situation into my life lately where it would be really easy, and even justified in the world's eyes, to do some mud-slinging. But, God is very clear about His expectation. If you are in a hard spot right now, even one that would normally demand an aggressive response, may I point you to Psalm 56 and Psalm 57?

As I sat here this morning, reading in my Bible, letting the words sink in, it officially became day time. The world is a little brighter. And I am grateful that I crawled out of my cocoon, to sit with my Lord, for "He has delivered my soul from death, my feet from falling, so that I may walk before God in the light of life." Psalm 56:13.

He will do the same for you if you let him.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Changng Seasons

My biological clock is ticking. No, not that one...that alarm is done going off. The clock that says school has started and I should be wearing a sweater and drinking hot apple cider, except that I am sitting outside and it is 78 degrees and sunny. I'm not really complaining, mind you. I'm just ready for a change. I guess I will have to surrender to the weather because I don't have any control over it anyway. That's God's department.

There's a lot of things that I should surrender control over but I don't. I won't say I can't because I truly feel that anything we claim not to be able to do is a choice we are making. Some things are just harder than others. So I won't say that I can't surrender control of some things, just that it is really hard. Like my husband's walk to faith.

Once again, I felt God calling me, telling me, to give Rob's journey to Him. As I sat in church this morning (by myself*) singing "Savior, He can move a mountain, my God is mighty to save..." I heard Him speaking to me through the words. I am trying to move a mountain one spoonful at a time, and it is really not going that well. The mountain doesn't particulary want to be moved, and I am getting tired of the lack of progress I am making.

For an added eye opener, I was reminded that I am not respecting God when I try to do His job. His timing is perfect. Mine, not so good. God does not honor a pout, and my husband doesn't do so well with that either. So, once again, I will give my husband back to God. I'm not sure what that will look like, and I will need His help to be gracious about it. Ecclesiastes reminds us that there is a season for everything. I'm sure God has a reason for Rob's eyes still being half-closed. Maybe for me to learn surrender, gracefully, without a door slam on the way out.

*I say I was by myself, but not for long. I sat with a new friend today. I'm never really alone at church anyway, because the One I came to meet is always there.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't Miss Today!

Hi Friends! Don't Miss Today was the title of Lysa TerKeurst's blog yesterday, but I missed it. Hm.

But, when I read the title, it spoke to me on its own. Today is the day the Lord has made, so don't miss it. Don't miss it because you are looking backwards at something you can't forget. Don't miss it because you are so excited for something coming up , or even dreading something that is coming up, and the future is sucking the life out of the present.

Keep your eyes open, keep your heart open, and I promise you will see a miracle today.

Don't miss it!

p.s. When you do see your miracle, whatever touched your heart that you might have missed, leave me a comment so I can celebrate with you.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Prayer Links


What did you think of immediately upon seeing this word? For most of us it signals a crisis. When a friend shares tough news, we might say "I'll pray for you." And we should. But, at its simplest, praying equals talking. It also equals hoping, confiding, dreaming, loving, and whispering to the One who wants to hear it.

I just read a post by a parent who was sharing the prayers she lifted for her daughter as she was growing up. The mom is beginning to see the results of those prayers. Until I read this, it didn't really occur to me to be praying long-range prayers for my kids. Most of them center around a "Dear Lord, please help them stay out of trouble theme." The tyranny of the immediate seems to suck up most of my prayer time,whatever that may be.

Diligence is not my strength, but I am going to try to pray for my kids in a long-range way. Praying for my little boys to find godly wives, and for them to be godly husbands.To not feel the need to go with the crowd, but to stand out and stand for something. For my older kids to find out (quickly please!) who God wants to be in their lives. Okay, so that isn't longe range. I want that now. I would like to pray for my marriage, for God to shape it as He sees fit. To pray to know God's will for my life after the mommy years have passed. I should have a few good ones left...

Mostly, though, I would pray to see this life as a journey, and not just a series of happenings that somehow string together days into weeks into months into years. I want to always be aware that I'm not just getting through, but that everything layers onto everything else to build something lasting and beautiful.

Prayer can be the glue that links our present to our future in Christ.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fight the Good Fight

It is late, for me. 12:04 am. I realize there are a lot of night owls out there, but I am not one of them. I am officially a lark now, both an early riser, and funny, take that however you want. Anyway, I can't go to sleep without giving some serious glory to my God and King.

This day started as a lot of our family time seems too...distracted, un-unified, somewhat tense, with kids getting yelled at for acting up. Of course I know they are acting up because no one is paying attention to them. The grown-ups are too busy balancing the chips on their shoulders.

The Mr and I were not communicating well. I wanted to do one thing today. He did not want to do said one thing today. I got fed up with not getting my way and said something snippy about needing my Facebook friends because he never pays attention to me. And he said...maybe if I backed him up on a certain issue...blah,blah,blah. No disrespect intended, but I really stopped listening at this point.

Right now you are probably thinking, uh-oh...But, this is where God stepped in to save the day. No, He didn't make the Mr say everything I wanted to hear. He, the Big He, shut my mouth and opened my ears. And poured into my head the scriptures that I claim to carry in my heart. We were having a Love and Respect fight! And through the grace of the Almighty, I was able to slow down and talk it through. I sat down and looked my husband in the eye and apologized for not showing him the respect he is due as head of our household. We were able to move from irrational and emotional to just emotional. (I am a girl after all.)

The day went on. I took the kids to the zoo by myself. He called to see if I wanted him to pick up dinner from KFC. We had a fun evening of playing hide and seek, which is hilarious with little kids, and went to bed. Before he went to sleep, he asked what time I want to go to church in the morning. *sigh & smile*. Then I turned on the Billy Graham Crusade on TBN. (I don't like listening to the news before I go to sleep. Not uplifting.)

Only God, and those who read the channel guide maybe, knew that Billy was preaching on Christian marriage. As I was watching, burning with conviction that the Mr should not be sleeping and should be hearing all of this, the conviction turned to shame. God was like, don't you think I knew he'd be sleeping but it is you who needed to watch this? Hmm...yessir, I confessed.

So, as I'm sitting here not sleeping because it has been an exciting day all around, lyrics to Only A God Like You are running through my head. This day has been like a discipline sandwich...yes He loves me, and he loves me too, but in between there has been a lot of Truth going around. The kind of Truth that saves. People, marriages, families, a lot of saving going around, that's for sure. Amen to that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Rescuer

Who do you say that I am?

This was the question that Jesus posed to Peter. And, scripture promises us that someday we will each have to answer that question. While we each need to arrive at that answer for ourselves, it helps to know who we are dealing with. I have been blessed to know some very faith-filled women who, when troubles come, they just "give it to God." For about 5 years I questioned just exactly how they did that. What I have realized is that I didn't know Him, only of Him.

Hebrews 11:6 says that "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

I was in a Bible study called "Lord, Teach Me to Pray", by Kay Arthur. She spends a portion of it teaching the names of God as the people in the Bible knew Him. Some of the names that have meant alot to me are Jehovah-jireh: The Lord Will Provide, Jehovah-shalom: The Lord Is Peace, Jehovah-rapha: The Lord Who Heals, and El-Shaddai: The All-Sufficient One. This is the aspect of God I would like to focus on, His All-Sufficiency, El Shaddai.

I was thinking about sinning awhile back, not about committing any particular one, but about why I sin. I think it is because I forgot that God is El Shaddai. I sin because a present situation is not meeting my needs, and in my pride or desperation, I decide that I am the only one who can fix it. I rob God of his El-Shaddai-ness. In Philippians 4:19 Paul writes that "God will fully satisfy all of his needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus." If I could share one message with everyone I meet about God, that is what I would want them to know about Him.

Imagine the scene from Luke 4:16-21: Jesus has returned to his hometown after performing many miracles in the surrounding towns.

16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. 17 And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
18 “ The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,

Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,

To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”

20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Can you imagine hearing those words, and understanding them? Do we really understand what that means to us in our lives, right now?

It means that El-Shaddai, our All Sufficient One, is more than fully capable of meeting our needs, and in fact, came for that purpose. In 1 Peter 5:7 we are told to cast all our anxiety upon Him, because He cares for us. He cares for us. The God of the Universe, in whom all things were created, cares for you. We do not have to sin to meet our needs. We need to bring them to Him.

So, for the woman who needs to find someone, anyone, to sleep with just so she isn't alone, God longs, longs to hold you. He gave His Son to make it possible for you to come to Him when you are lonely.

For the woman who drinks not because she is thirsty but because she is empty, God longs to fill you with His Holy Spirit. He gave His Son so that His Holy Spirit could dwell in you forever.

For the woman searching for meaning, God longs to tell you that the search is over.

The prophet Ezekiel spoke of Christ's rescue mission in chapter 34. Verse 16 says "I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak." This verse gives me goosebumps, because I have been the strayed, the lost, and the injured. He sent someone for me.

Think for a moment, what matters are you taking into your own hands? What is holding you captive? What is breaking your heart today? Have your blind eyes been opened? Are you trying to handle it on your own, or have you brought it to Your El-Shaddai, Your All Sufficient God to handle for you?

This is the acceptable year of the Lord, sisters, and He has come to set you free.