Friday, December 21, 2012

the end of the world

...so...

my facebook feed has been blown up with the 90's song by REM...

...it's the end of the world as we know it...and i feel fine...
 
 
well...12/21/12...and nothing yet...but i'm not getting cocky about it.  in fact...i am making a decision.
 
today is the end of my world as i know it. 
what am i going to do differently?  i'm not exactly sure...maybe for starters i need to be more persistent in my pursuit of God.  i need to be more compassionate in my interactions with people.  and it's going to start today.
 
...it's the end of my world as i know it...and i feel fine...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

yes sir


i have never been accused of being 'too soft' on my kids.  in fact...it's usually the opposite.  i am a tough mom...but a loving mom.  and my kids are well behaved. (for the most part)

we go thru phases of grace and phases of me cracking down.  right now we are in a cracking down phase.  so much so that i am insisting my children say 'yes sir' or 'yes ma'am'.  not because i want my kids to be like little soldiers or blindly obedient.  i usually don't mind explaining my reasons for wanting them to do things.  but i am tired of the whining.  you know how it goes.




'mom, can i have come candy?'
'not right now.'
'AWWWWWWWW!'

'please stop jumping on the couch.'
'BUT MAWWWWWUUUUMMMMMM!'

...like nails on a chalkboard.




i was thinking about it though...God doesn't insist on our obedience. 

He sent His baby boy to die in my place and then gives me the choice to obey...  ???   ...

i just can't wrap my mind around it.  if i sent my sweet baby boy to be punished for something that he had no part in...if i made that sacrifice...you'd better believe i'd let you know it...i'd remind you of that sacrifice every time i needed something from you.  when i asked you to do something i would expect you to say 'yes ma'am!'

...but God is God...and i am not.  (thankfully for all of you...lol)

do you know how God reminds us that His precious Son walked away from His glorious place in heaven to come down and live in this garbage pit we call home? 

Father God lets us sing carols and give gifts to one another...

and how does He remind us that that same Son, although almighty and wise walked thru all that we walk thru...He experienced loss, disappointment, frustration...then He died in our place?  in my place?

Father God lets the sun rise every morning...and the flowers come up in the spring time...

He lets us experience the joy of snuggly babies and the sweetness of puppy breath and the delight of warm chocolate chip cookies. 

and even though He is always behind us whispering which way we should go and how we should act and what we should do...

He doesn't insist that we say 'yes sir'
...but He really does enjoy it when we obey...
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

indisputable facts

 
"we do not make requests of You because we are righteous,
 but because of Your great mercy. 
Lord, listen!  Lord, forgive! 
Lord, hear and act! 
for Your sake, my God, do not delay,
 because Your city and Your people bear Your Name." 
 Daniel 9:18:19
 
i've been pretty messed up lately. 
 
i'm not one to deal with grief well...i tend to crack jokes at inappropriate times...i don't do funerals...at the same time i recognize how extremely blessed i am.  and it kinda bugs me.
 
i don't know why, but somehow this verse really spoke to my heart this morning.  i don't deserve to lick the boots of the Almighty.  i don't deserve to make requests or to ask Him why.  i am a doubtful, easily confused, rebellious, stubborn, dumb...sheep.  and i'm angry that there is injustice everywhere.  i am angry at sickness and death.  i am angry at depression and anxiety.  i am angry at all the garbage that has been clogging my joy ducts... i am selfish.  and i'm angry about that too.
 
geez i'm a mess.
 
but...back to the verse.  God loves me.  not because i deserve it...but because He's God.  He forgives my simplicity...not because i don't know any better...but because He's God.  He provides for my needs because He's God.  He lavishes favor and blessing on me...not because i am better than anyone else...but because He's God.  He is God.  and my not understanding,  my questioning, my anger, my confusion, my rebellion, even my disbelief...doesn't make Him any less God. 
 
so...i can struggle and doubt...i can be angry.  He can take it.  He's God and He loves me.  those are indisputable facts. 
 
i know that my joy ducts will eventually be clear of all this and i will walk in gratefulness again.  and i know that even if i walk in this fog of overwhelmed confliction for the rest of my life...God will still be God...and He'll still love me...because He is God.
 
 


Friday, December 14, 2012

heavy hearted


...so heavy hearted...
...been like this too much lately...
 
i keep asking God why.
...then he reminds me...it's not really about me...
 
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

biscotti

i made some craptastic biscotti the other night.
 

this is NOT my biscotti...but this is what i was aiming for...sigh...
first i burned the goodness out of it...then in an attempt to save it...i scraped all the charred ick off of each piece and 'drizzled' white chocolate onto them...except my white chocolate came out in nasty clumps.  my 4 year old could have done better.

they were edible...just not giftable.  so...my husband took them to work :)

a woman with italian heritage commented on what a wonderful husband he must be.  her family always said that if a woman has time to make biscotti it means that her man is taking good care of her.

what is funny is that lately i have been really
struggling with feeling cared for.  often my feelings are pushed to the side (as things should be when there are 4 little ones). 

i thought about complaining, whining and nagging...but i know better...those methods just push him further away.

i thought about giving him the silent treatment...but that doesn't actually accomplish anything...just makes him think i'm going to start my period soon.

i tried hinting...pfft!  that didn't work at all...my husband is completely oblivious to hints...as are most men.

i tried flat out asking for more compassion on his part...but things get busy and then i get bitter...a really bad combo.

so...i prayed. 

it wasn't a long eloquent prayer (as you can tell...i'm far from eloquent) i just held my heart out to God for Him to fix it.

you know what's funny.  a few days later (maybe even a few weeks)  my husband asked me how i was feeling.

then...my husband woke me up one morning with some incredible news...he was staying home from work and he wanted me to take the day off. 
i went and got my hair cut (10 inches off and it's still past my shoulders...lol!)
i ate out...inside the restaurant...and no one looked at me weird...and my food was hot.
i read a few chapters in a book that didn't have to do with my responsibilities.
i walked around the mall and picked up a few Christmas presents.

and the whole time i thanked my Father for speaking to my husband on my behalf. 

and then i got home and gushed over my husband for what a blessing the day was...and i made biscotti.

Monday, December 3, 2012

traditions


we cut down a Christmas tree...

taken by lori spellman at henson's hideaway
 
it's not for everyone...but it's my favorite family tradition.
 
what are your favorite traditions?
 
 


Monday, November 26, 2012

happy humbug

why do we stress our way thru this time of year???

we do so many things...shopping, cooking, hosting, wrapping, baking, decorating, blaaaahhh.

now don't get me wrong...i am a complete Christmas nut.  i start listening to Christmas music the day after halloween...insist my kids watch or read one Christmas related movie or book each day...dance giddily thru the pine forest as we choose our Christmas tree...i'm a real freak.

however...the instant these things stress me out...i will stop.  i will become a bonefide humbug...but i will be a happy humbug.  i will keep Christmas in my own way :)

after all...if we are truly celebrating Christmas...the birthday of our Savior...we will be happy.

so we have to really fight the urge to make Christmas all about the 'mas' (meaning more in spanish)
instead of about Christ.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

thankfulness

today i am thankful for...

...my incredible husband who is both humble and strong.  what a rare treasure he is!  i am in awe of how good my God is and how much He must love me because of what a wonderful partner He created for me.

...my oldest son.  he is truly a great messenger of God.  i can't wait to see what he is going to become as he follows the path God has laid out for him.  he is sensitive, funny, kind, wise and an intuitive helper.  i am so blessed to have this 4 year old as a part of my life.

...my sweet daughter - buoyant, strong reed.  with her sweet spirit, nurturing way toward others and inner strength and confidence she is going to be a great leader someday (soon).  she teaches me so much about knowing who you are...there is no doubt in her mind that she is beautiful and Jesus loves her (she'll tell you in no uncertain terms).  i am so glad! 

...my complex little fire ball.  she's a good friend, consecrated to God.  from 0-60 in 30 seconds...everything she feels is intense and genuine.  she has compassion that is far beyond her years and makes me laugh better than anyone. 

...my baby boy.  he is a great reminder of God's redemption...that Jesus saves those that don't deserve it (like me...for instance).  no one is going to be able to turn him from the path God leads him to.  he is strong and has been an awesome testimony to God's grace already.

...my home.  warm.  comforting.  messy.  home.

...my teachers.  family, friends, mentors who are more like family and friends...anyone who has invested in me.  i am the person that i am because people have taken the time to stoop down and show me how to be.  someone taught me how to tie my shoelaces.  someone taught me how to sing.  someone taught me how to worship.  someone taught me how to love.  someone taught me how to parent.  someone taught me how to write (ok...maybe we're still working on that one).  i am so blessed to have so many teachers along the way!

...my examples.  i am a people watcher.  constantly...i'm looking for examples of what to do and what not to do...(i have always had a little pinterest account in my head).

...my first world problems.  dirty dishes.  family drama.  weight gain.  grief over losses.  these problems are evidence that i am privileged to live in a first world nation.  the people that are struggling to survive don't deal with these things...so i am thankful for them.

...my thankfulness.  every moment of every day we choose.  and i choose to be thankful.  to laugh with a song in my heart knowing that good or bad...God's got this all under control.

 

happy thanksgiving to you and yours.



 
 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

i got a rock


sometimes it seems like everyone around us is being blessed like crazy.
 
they tell you about all the wonderful things God is doing in their lives and all the wonderful things they are doing for God and well...it's a lot like this...
 
 
 
 
how do you handle that?
 
in James it says:
 
Consider it a sheer gift, friends,
when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.
You know that under pressure,
your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.
 
...blink, blink...riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight...
 
i get it...but i still have to deal with all the happy blessed people...and then He spoke... (Matthew 5)
 
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
 
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.
Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.
That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.
He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
“You’re blessed when you care.
At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right.
Then you can see God in the outside world.
“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.
That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
 
...ok...so...maybe I'M the blessed one...hehehe...
 
 


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

power outtage

ahhhhh sandy...

honestly...i sorta thought we in ohio were making a bit of a 'sky is falling' event out of the storm...i mean...it takes more than a day to get to the nearest ocean.

i stocked up on water and formula in case we lost power...

last night i randomly woke up a 3...had me a p...and watched the storm a bit from my front window.

the house across the street in the process of changing hands and is sitting empty and lit up like a Christmas tree and all the trees around it were blowing around like crazy...then the lights went out.

i spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out if i should call someone...and if so...who would i call...the old owner who is in the process of moving out...or a relative of the new owner?  decisions decisions...

then i realized that...oh...everyone's power was out...i should get online and register the outage since there probably weren't many people awake...

that's when i realized that my own power was out.

silly me.

in matthew 7, Jesus talked about taking the stick out of your own eye before pointing out the dirt in someone else's.

i'm pretty bad about that.  i am always looking at people...not really to judge...just to be helpful.  i often see things from a unique perspective.  God speaks to me about someone's situation.  i have the heart of a counselor...
but...it often takes me a little while to realize when those same things are going on in my own life. 

today...as our power turns on and goes off...and as the storm is affecting all of us equally...i'm going to look inward.  i'll counsel myself for a change...i'm sure those around me will enjoy the vacation from me being 'up in their business'.  


Sunday, October 28, 2012

backseat driver

my 4 year old is wonderful.  i don't know how i ever survived without him. 
 
when we get in the car he gives me directions. 
   'mom, we're going to my class turn this way.'
   'mom, this isn't the way to get chicken nuggets, turn around up here.'
   'mom, you gotta turn left up here.'
 
...it's a little creepy because he is almost always right...and this is coming from a kid who has his shoes on the wrong feet...
 
this sunday morning my husband and i decided to drive separately because we had a series of meetings thru the day and wanted to make sure to have an escape plan in place if the kids got cranky. 
 
i explained all this to my kids and they seemed fine with it...until i started to pull out of the drive way while daddy was still in the house.
 'WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTT!   DON'T FORGET DADDY!  MOOOOOMMM, DON'T LEAVE HIM!!!  WAAAAHHHHHH!  WAAAIIIT MOM!  WAAAIIIT!'
 
sigh. 
 
i patiently (and then maybe not so patiently) reminded my son that daddy was driving his work car and was going to meet us at the church in like 10 minutes.  but he couldn't wrap his little brain around why daddy would be driving his work car to church.  so...we drove with the sirens a-wailing...
 
 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3:5
 
eventually...when we got to church (hearing impaired from the screaming on all accounts)
POOF!  daddy was there and everything was alright again.  my son had screamed his head off for nothing (as a matter of fact...so had i). 
 
how often do we worry and wine and complain and cry and wail about the things we are going thru.  things that seem so wrong to us.  things that set us off balance.  things that we just don't understand.
if we would just 'trust in the Lord' we would be better off. 
thankfully...Father God is perfect.  (newsflash...i am not perfect)  God doesn't lose it with us when we scream our heads off at Him...  whew!
 
 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

accomplishment

 

we're in trouble now!
my little man (9 months old) pulled himself up on the couch today.  as you can see...he was very proud of himself.  and i obviously adore him...

in a few months...or even weeks...it won't be that big of a deal.  my 2 year olds looked at me like i was crazy when i was cheering for him.  but for today it is an outstanding accomplishment.`

take pride in the little things God is doing in you...even if they don't seem like a big deal.  even if you fall again...
     holding your tongue
          making time for devotions
               fasting a meal
                    giving a $5 offering
                         keeping your temper
                              having a moment of forgiveness
                                   feeling compassion for someone you would usually judge

God is pleased with any step you make in the right direction...and...you should be pleased with any little accomplishment as God pulls you closer to Him.



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

angry

i am angry. 

really really angry.

lastnight i got a phonecall informing me that my dad had just gotten out of emergency surgery.  he had called me last friday to see what my gallbladder pain was like.  i told him that he needed to go to the hospital before his appendix burst.  he told me i didn't know what i was talking about.

then...i get a phone call from my sister giving me the update on his surgery.  my mom hadn't called because he had forbidden it.  he didn't want anyone to know that he was in the hospital.  seriously.

theeennn...i get a phone call from my mother appologizing for not calling me sooner.  he was insisting that she bring him clothes at 11:00 at night.

i am angry.

i asked my husband to pray with me lastnight and he started by thanking God for allowing my dad to survivee with an infected and burst appendix for so long.  he thanked God for leading my dad to go to the emergency room.  and he thanked Him for the skill of the surgeons and nurses.  he prayed for a speedy recovery. 

so.  gratefulness trumps anger.  for that brief moment while my husband prayed...everything was okay. 

today i choose to be grateful instead of angry.  i am not stuffing my anger...i am just choosing to forgive...i am choosing to be grateful instead.

at least...that's the theory  :)  with your prayers hopefully it won't be as difficult as it seems.

Monday, October 22, 2012

betrayed by a friend.

you know...i really enjoy my coffee.  i even consider my morning coffee one of my most trusted allies.  but on sunday mornings...my coffee betrays me.

i take a travel cup of delicious coffee (lovingly prepared by my kind husband) with me to church.  i boldly drink it in the foyer (i realize that my travel cup makes me look like i am too good for the icky church coffee...and i just don't care.)

i enjoy my steamy treat all the way in to service and sometimes i even take a few sips at my seat.  (sometimes the ushers look at me like they are about to enforce the 'no food or drink in the sanctuary' rule...but then they weigh the value of their life with the fact that they would be wrenching coffee from the hands of this poor overworked mother of 4 preschoolers...aaaand they reconsider.)  my travel cup doesn't spill anyway... (it's been tested by all 4 of my little quality control team).

anyway...so worship starts and i enjoy adoring my Jesus uninterrupted...until it hits me.


i have the nastiest breath in the world.  i can't belt out 'blessed be your glorious name' with breath like this...the whole row might pass out.  and praying for someone...that is completely out of the question.  i wouldn't dream of impairing someone's worship experience by getting in their face and giving them a word from God with stench that is coming from my mouth. i tried gum...but who am i kidding...gum only gives you mint flavored coffee breath.  ick.


so...no more coffee on sunday mornings. i can give it up in order to adore and serve my Father more freely.

but that is just an external thing. 

Jesus said we need to make sure that the inside of our cups are clean. 
what in my heart is keeping me from worshipping and serving freely?  hmmmm...something to search out this week...





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Daddy's girl

i have always been a people watcher. 

tonight i saw a man playing with his daughter.  she is about 18 months and has the most beautiful brown eyes i have ever seen.  and it's a good thing that he is a tall, strong man because if he wasn't...well...let's just say that this little girl has an older sister that is equally beautiful and they will be of dating age at the same time...

 
well...this daddy had his little girl by the feet and was balancing her.  she was standing on his hand...at least 5 feet off the ground...and she didn't have one ounce of concern.

at one point she dove toward him with her arms wide and a big grin on her face.  he only had one hand to catch her with...but he made it work...and they both laughed and laughed.



we went for a walk in the woods a few months ago.  my husband ended up carrying our girls. 
thankfully...our heavenly Father will carry us any time...and His arms never get tired.

i am so glad God is like that.  no matter what your father issues are.  whether or not you have had a man you could trust on this earth.  God; your heavenly Father, is trustworthy.  He is perfect and never makes mistakes in His plan or in His design.

Dive toward Him. 
     He'll catch you. 
          You can trust Him.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

amazing hives

my body is amazing.

every time the seasons change i have allergy issues.  usually i end up getting either bronchitis or pneumonia.  i always end up on tons of antibiotics.

the past few years though...it's been different.  i still get a bit of a cough but then after a day or so i get hives. 

when i was little i used to get hives when ever i was on an antibiotic not because i was allergic to the antibiotic...but because i am evidently allergic to the toxins that the virus/bacteria put off when they die.

so...the past few years...my body has been kicking my immunity into overdrive to fight off whatever the gunk of the season is. 

my body is seriously amazing...but if i didn't look at it that way...these hives would drive me completely crazy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

how to love

“Love the Lord your God with all your
passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence,
and love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” - Luke 10:27

Jesus clearly wants us to love each other. 

He wants us to treat one another in a way that we would find suitable for ourselves.  golden rule...you get that...

He also wants us to teach our children how to love.  as parents we have 2 jobs really...keep our kids alive and teach them how to love.

 

we teach our kids how to talk, how to walk, how to play...

are we teaching them how to serve selflessly?  how to have grace with the people around us?  are we teaching our kids how to lovingly hold their friends accountable?  how to lead by example? how to pray for and with the people they come in contact with?  are we teaching our children how to forgive?
however...we teach more by our actions than by our words. it's easy to say 'be nice' to our kids on the playground...but what are we doing in the car as they witness from the back seat? are we 'being nice'? are we loving our neighbor?

we can't just tell our kids to do something.  words and pictures only go so far...they need a path to follow.

so if we are going to teach our kids to love...are we walking in love?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

update on little one

well...after a long day at cleveland clinic we have some answers.

little one's hemangioma is not affecting any underlying structures or tissues. 

now the big decision...do we have it removed?  pros and cons...prayer...advice...all appreciated.

Friday, September 21, 2012

portrait of man

this morning my husband walked into our bedroom to find my computer all a blaze with warnings and my 4 year old son under the bed.

'son, why are you hiding?'
'daddy, i was hiding from you'
'son, why were you hiding from me?'
'a'cause i touched mommy's a'puter 'n i'ma not allowed.'

sounds a lot like adam hiding from God after he disobeyed...

thanks, God, for giving us the opportunity to extend your grace to our children just like you extended grace to yours.  and thanks for using them to speak to us...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

move the can

i recently moved my bathroom garbage can.  it has been a disaster. 

old habits die hard and i have inadvertently thrown many a used tissue on the floor where the can used to be.

as God takes us thru new things and miraculously removes major garbage from our lives...we have to be cautious not to end up with junk in that spot.  and if we do accidentally fall into old habits we need to fix it quickly.

to clarify...if God has convicted me of a prideful, judgemental nature (guilty as charged)...i will repent and turn away from that pride (move the garbage can).  however...i may...without thinking...drop a thought into the space where my judgemental pride used to be.  if i leave it there...then i might as well just put the garbage can back.  so i need to take quick responsibility.  'whoops...that doesn't belong there anymore...'  and fix it.

the same goes for our relationships and our emotions. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

wait for me!

in these days of hustle and bustle no one likes to wait for anything.  especially not for slowpoke me.

as a kid...i can't even count how many times my parents 'left' me in stores (all the while waiting right outside the door) to get me to move faster.

in grade school i was a good thing my neighborhood was a loop because i almost always caught the bus on the second time around.

in college i would get left behind at dinner...forced to cross an inner city campus after dark if i didn't eat at the same pace as my company (a group of guys that were complete gentlemen in every other aspect).

i don't try to be pokey...honestly...i try really hard to be early for things...

then...God decided to make a little joke.  yeah.  'let's give 4 preschoolers to the pokey one...'  funny...really funny.

'wait for me!' used to be my mantra...now i don't even bother...

---  ---  ---

in chapter 8 of the book of luke Jesus is a busy guy...he's travelling all over the place, healing people, telling some really good stories, calming storms, casting out demons, you know...all in a day's work for the Son of God...

as He is doing all this awesome stuff a powerful and important man comes and asks Him for His help.  Jesus, of course, goes with the guy to help out.  and Jesus' mob (not wanting to miss a miracle) jostled along with Him.

so Jesus was on His way somewhere important with someone powerful to do something awesome.

then there was a woman.  the woman had been bleeding for over a decade.  she was probably crampy, anemic, and sick of being unclean both physically and ceremonially.  she had emptied her bank account trying to find a cure. she was probably weak.  she was probably lonely.  probably desperate.

so...she gave it a shot.  she touched Him.


here is my favorite part.  He...Son of God...Creator of the Universe...on His way to somewhere important with someone powerful to do something awesome. 

He waited.

He stopped the entire mob and started playing detective to figure out who had laid claim to His healing power.

He stood there and had an entire conversation with this anonymous woman.  well...she was anonymous to everyone else...the bible doesn't give her a name.  but Jesus...He called her Daughter.

Jesus loved her so much...He waited for her.  He stopped everything and took a minute just for her...

thank You, Jesus for waiting for me.  thanks for waiting for me when i am being thick headed and taking too long to get things right.  thanks for waiting for me when i am unable to understand...
Your grace is so amazing...

Friday, September 14, 2012

integrity

i teach a group of 12 year old girls on wednesday nights.

sometimes they get really involved in what i am teaching and allow God's word to change them...other times i may as well be speaking to a brick wall.

as the new school year started...i also started with a fresh group of girls. 

this year i decided to start with the integrity unit.  i like this unit because it teaches the girls to be the same person all the time...to be honest with their faults and not 'play church' around me and act differently as soon as they leave my classroom.  that means i have to be prepared to deal with some ugly stuff...and i also have to be willing to reveal some of my own garbage...

anyway.  the opening of the unit started with them having to name 3 people that had integrity.  and then they had to explain why.

i was blown away when all 5 girls in my class...with no discussion...wrote down abby's name. 

not that i was surprised.  abby had been in my class the year before and is an awesome young woman.  her parents are raising her right...and holding her responsible for the choices she makes while loving her thru her imperfections.  she hears from God and does her best to seek Him daily. 

what surprised me is that she was the first person to jump to their minds...all of them.

i want to be that way.  i want to live my life in such a way that when someone says 'Christlike' or 'full of grace'.  my name pops to mind.  i want my name to be synonymous with integrity.  in the dictionary...i want my picture to be next to those words. 




Thursday, September 13, 2012

like her brother...

today one of my daughters tried to pee standing up...like her brother does.  then she poo'd.  it wasn't until she realized that she had poo on her legs feet and floor that she realized.  God didn't make me for this.  seriously.  life doesn't get any better than that...right?

how many times do i look at the people around me doing the amazing things for God that they were created to do.  and covet their calling.  however...no matter how hard i try...i just can't do it.  and i usually don't realize it until i have made a mess.

God created me for something awesome.  but i can tell you a few things that i am not created to do.

i am not created to preach.
     though i have taken and passed public speaking classes and have no qualms about standing in front of people...i am not good at preaching.  i am a choppy-minded person that requires far too much feedback for addressing the masses.

i am not created to host.
     while i would like to think i am decent cook...and i would happily offer anyone the comforts of my home...i know that i am not gifted in hospitality.  guests stress me out.  i wish i wasn't that way...but i am.  hosting a dinner or a prayer meeting or even just having friends over is not something i do well...and usually i end up making people feel uncomfortable.

i am not created to head up a ministry.
     creating schedules and maintaining itineraries is like reading swahili.  i just don't get it...at all.

so i know what i am not created to do...
but i do think it's so cool when God uses someone to do these things.  for instance...we have a ladies tea every winter.  it is phenominal and it is all put together by 2 ladies that are gifted in the hospitality/hosting/cooking area.  they have 3 courses (scones, sandwiches and dessert)  and a tea to go with each course...and let me tell you...you come hungry and you leave satiated. 
if i were to try to be a major part of the tea ministry (while i can carry a hot teapot with ease) it would be a disaster.  i know this...the ladies that do the ministry know this...they just keep me out of the kitchen.

if i were in charge of a ministry...the budget would be blown in a week and no one would have any clue what was going on...including me...and i would be trying really hard.

i have a lot of gifts in different areas.  i am an encourager...i boldly speak truth...i have a background in music and theatre...i am a problem solver with big ideas...i know that God hears me when i pray...

so...i am trusting that God has created me for something specific and special...something that only He in all His wisdom and imagination could come up with.  i just have to wait on Him to reveal to me what His plan is.

in the meantime...i am going to encourage people that are doing what God has created them for and help clean up the messes of those trying to function in roles that they were not created for...including my own...



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11

today 11 years ago...i was a college freshman trying to stay afloat in a new life.

one of the professors rolled a tv into the hall and tuned it to the news just in time to see the second tower being assaulted.

i sat on the floor and thought to myself... 'how horrible.'

then the news about the plane in pennsylvania changed my whole view.

i am from a small town in western pa...and have always been a little self involved...so i had no idea where exactly the plane was or how close it was to my family.

images of the neighborhood i grew up in as part of the wreakage flooded my mind.  and it seemed like time stood still.

i think i called my family 20 times that day.

it is easy to say...'how horrible' and feel no real compassion and do nothing when things seem far away.  but when those very same things are in our own backyard...we understand and are often moved to do something about it.

children starving...families without clean water...kids being forced to do unspeakable things...

thankfully God is everywhere...He knows what those people need.  and He has the power to do something about it. 
He may even want to use you to help.


Monday, September 10, 2012

but i just

my kids have a bad habit.  it goes like this:

mommy:  'honey, stop doing that please.  you're going to get hurt...or hurt someone else.'
kid:  'but i just wanted to...'
this drives me crazy!

'but i just' has been banned in our house. 

using your good intentions to veil your less than pleasing actions.  yuck.

we often say 'well...God knows my heart.'
     ...gossip is gossip.
          ...murder is murder.

and yes.  God does know our hearts and when we do something unintentionally His awesome grace covers us.  absolutely.

but when we assassinate some one's character...'but i just wanted them to know what kind of person she really is'...is not a good excuse...

when we kidnap some one's dreams and ambitions with our 'realistic' views instead of offering to pray that God works mighty miracles to guide them toward their calling...'but i just didn't want you to be disappointed.'  ...well...that just isn't enough.

we all do these things.  i'm not saying that we will be perfect.  we lose our tempers...our tongues are mighty and are not easily tamed.  but...don't make excuses.  just own up to it. 

instead of...'but i just...'
maybe try...'i'm sorry that i...'
or...'please forgive me for...'

Friday, September 7, 2012

bricks

bricks are pretty inspiring.

they are all made of the same basic ingredients.  dirt and water.

hmm...sounds a little bit like us...according to the book of genesis God made Adam from dirt.  and according to my biology text book a significant portion of the human body is water.

so...my conclusion...we are bricks.


just kidding.
 
 
but seriously...the similarities don't end there.
 
a brick that is made by hand is far more expensive and will last longer than a brick that is made by a machine.  do you know why that is?  imperfection.
 
the imperfections in a handmade brick allow it to expand and contract with environmental changes. while the more machine made brick crumbles more easily because it is more uniform.
 
i just thought that was so cool.  we are perfectly imperfect.  rather than looking at the bricks around us and wishing we were more like them...we should be celebrating the fact that we have so many imperfections.  when we work together we make a formidable, long lasting structure. 
 
embrace your imperfections...they make you stronger and worth more than if you were perfect. 
 
and when you are looking at someone else and thinking how amazing they are...and comparing your flaws to their shining qualities. 
remember...we're all just bricks.



Thursday, September 6, 2012

passion isn't pretty.

olympic divers - mid dive


these divers work hard to have the flexibility, precision, accuracy and stamina to get olympic gold quality dives on a consistant basis.  they are amazing.  they are passionate.  but...they are certainly not pretty. (at least...not in these pictures)

if a guy looked like this while walking down the street and approached you...you'd probably run...or maybe call for an ambulance...

similarly...when we are passionate about or God-called to something...we may not be very pretty.  we have to be okay with that.  because it's only when we let go and allow ourseves to be a little un-pretty that our passion shows and with God's grace we can come up with some really wonderful stuff...(olympic gold...anyone?)
 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

birthday boy

my oldest turns 4 today. 

 
the day has been all about him...as it should be.  i have not gotten much done because we have been playing chutes and ladders.  we had poptarts for breakfast.  i am only able to post this now because he is watching g i joe (a show that was previously banned in our home due to him beating on his sisters).
 
i don't mind indulging him today...but tomorrow it will be back to normal. 
 
one thing that is kind of funny...for lunch...he wants to meet daddy for starbucks.  hehehe.  i love that boy!  
 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

every word

i guess it's been a week since i've posted...huh?

things have been crazy...but things are always crazy.  i could give a hundred excuses...but honestly.  i just didn't have anything worth posting.  and that very fact inspired me...it's funny how that works.

i have probably mentioned before that my youngest has a large hemangioma right smack between his eyes.  it's a very obvious blemish on his otherwise adorable, happy little face.

 
 
i hardly notice it when i see him...but i know that it stands out to people that don't know him.
 
strangers make comments all the time.  'oh, did he fall?'  'what is that on his face?'  'are you going to get that removed?' 'oh my (son, daughter, cousin, grandchild, little kid i taught in sunday school) had one of those and it faded by the time he was twelve.'  'aww...that thing looks just like an apple.'  'is that cancer?' either they make these crazy comments or they ignore him completely and talk to me about my other children.
 
sigh.
 
we were at the park and a little girl was talking to the baby.  she asked what was on his face and i told her it was a birthmark.  'awww...he's too cute for a birthmark!'  was her answer. 
 
i realized that her response put my feelings into words...it was honest.  and refreshing. 
 
there are so many verses about the words we speak...proverbs 18:21, psalm 17:3 and matthew 12:36 come to mind.  most often, when we think about the power of our words...we think of the things that are intentional.  intentional words to encourage or to hurt definitely hold a lot of power.  however...it's the things that are unintentional that are sometimes worse.  things that are said to fill the silence and things that are not filtered by social grace...
 
funerals are the worst.  people say really dumb things at funerals...with the best of intentions...
 
i am striving to be more cautious of the words that leave my mouth...both the intentional and unintentional.  (even here...on this blog).  because...we are held accountable for every word we speak...
 
 
the thing is...God can give me the right thing to say and the exact right time to say it.  i just have to listen.
 
 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

James 1:5-8
If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

prayer is not like pressing a button

we've established that prayer is talking to God. 

God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and loves you more than you can imagine no matter what you have done. 

God is not, however...a vending machine.

a4 = financial blessing
b2 = healing
b6 = true love
d9 = yacht in the bahamas
                              ...i just don't think so
sometimes we pray in earnest
                    and God listens to our every word
                                        and He really wants to give us what we want
                                                            and everything is within His power...
but he just doesn't deliver.

that is so frustrating. 

when prayer goes unanswered we often start to self-examine. what have we done that was so bad that made God close His ears to us...what are we not doing that makes Him withhold the things we are begging Him for?

when we look at the bible...job didn't do anything wrong but God still didn't answer his prayer for awhile.

Job 16:15-17
I sewed myself a shroud and wore it like a shirt; I lay facedown in the dirt. Now my face is blotched red from weeping; look at the dark shadows under my eyes, Even though I've never hurt a soul and my prayers are sincere!
 
i often ask God why He let job go thru so much...
i mean...it kind of makes Him look like a bully...
 
and every time...i get the same answer.  He did it for me.  just like how He let Jesus go thru so much.
 
Luke 22:41-44
He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
 
Jesus begged God to not make Him go thru all the garbage that was in the plan...but He did because He understood that God has to answer prayer based on what HE wants for us...because the creator truly knows His creation and what is best for it. 
 
if you have prayers that God hasn't answered.  i am truly sorry for your wait...but have faith.  God knows what's best and He will give you what you need when you need it...you may not even realize it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

prayer is not passing

i talk on my cell phone when i'm driving...usually because the kids are strapped in and quiet.  (i don't text while driving.)


when the conversation ends i hang up and stop talking to the person on the other end of the line.


however...if i am driving with a friend in the car...i talk non-stop...(i might listen a little bit too).


remember...God is always with us.  he never leaves us...so there is no need to end the conversation. 

1 Thessalonians 5:17
Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

Monday, August 27, 2012

prayer is not performance.

Matthew 6:5-6
And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat? Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

 

some people feel like prayer is an opportunity to impress the people around them.  they prepare an eloquent speech but never consider that the only ears that matter hear the words from the heart far more clearly than the varnished words from their fickle lips.  it's not only the unbelievers that do this tho...sometimes we...as followers of Christ feel like we are in competition for 'worlds best pray...er' it gets kind of ugly from there.  we pull out some Christianese and a healthy dose of kjv-speak (gotta love the thy's and thou's...).  we know that God doesn't care about the words that we say but rather the condition of the heart from which we say them...but we do it anyway.  we might as well be brushing our teeth with mud.
i could balance this by saying that any prayer is a good prayer...
but...these prayers leave a bad taste in my mouth.
if you have no interest in speaking to me at any time...and even go out of your way to avoid me and then talk to me in a rehearsed manner...i am going to be irritated. and if we are friends and you use our relationship to impress people by how close we are...i am going to be irritated.

thankfully...i am not God.
God wants you to talk with Him. that's all. He doesn't want your relationship with Him to be leverage or means to an end or anything but a real relationship. He wants you to fall so deeply in love with Him that talking with Him is natural. and it is not based on who is within earshot.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

prayer...

Matthew6:7-13

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what's best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You're in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You're ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
 
 

oops!

this made me laugh so hard that tears were streaming down my face...and honestly i didn't even read it.  just the pictures.  and the thought of how often things like this happen to me.  and what my kid's reaction would be...hehehe i'm laughing all over again.

things don't always work out as we plan them.  we might use all the right ingredients and put in all the tlc required...but sometimes things still don't pan out.

sometimes cookie monster ends up looking like a nasty shriveled space alien.

...BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
 
i have a new friend who recently moved here from the west coast...her phrase is 'no worries'.
how refreshing that is!  i want my outlook to be one of no worries...
 
phil 4:6-7 (msg)
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
 
this happens to me a lot.  i fret about things and get myself into a lather but as soon as i stop and consult my Father...i realize that not only will things work out all right because i am involving Him...but even if the inevitable happens...and things don't go quite right...i will survive it.  God will still be God.  i will still be me.  it will allllll be okay.
 
...and maybe we'll all get a good laugh out of it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

dead tree in a healthy forest

there is a little forest behind my church and this tree has always stood out to me. 
my phone doesn't take great pictures...but hopefully you can see the dead tree in the midst of all the healthy green foliage.




my church is a vibrant family ministry.  our pastor has a heart after God that rivals paul, peter or john of the bible.  we are reminded to 'reach up for the help and reach out for the hurting' at every leadership event and ministry meeting.  no matter where someone is in their walk with God...there is something there for them.  however.  not everyone is alive spiritually.  it is sad.  but even in a healthy church like mine there are people that are spiritually dead.  i have even gone thru seasons myself in which i feel dormant. 

in the winter...this tree blends in.  you can't necessarily tell that it is dead.  likewise...during certain seasons...it is hard to tell who is growing and who is not. 

if you are in a spiritually dead church...do something about it.

if you are spiritually dead...but surrounded by healthy living followers of Christ...take this as a warning.

Matthew 23:27
You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds!
You're like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds.

John 15:2
I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.


don't pretend to be okay.  don't lie to yourself or others.  ask for help.  as much as we like to blame pastors and other leaders for our growth...or lack of it...we are responsible for our own roots.  find a way to grow.  reach out your roots until you find the source you need.  produce fruit and serve those around you.  often...when i go thru dry seasons i find that humbling myself and serving is like jump starting my car battery.  even if my attitude isn't right in the beginning...service leads to worship and worship leads to growth.

so...grow!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

corn in the ditch?


i saw this as i was driving thru the country and it made me smile. 

Matthew 13:3-9
 "What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn't put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.
 "Are you listening to this? Really listening?"

we're listening, Jesus...
and then you show me cool things like this...

sometimes the soil is good where we least expect it.  and sometimes seeds can grow...even in bad soil.  so we can not allow the apparent quality of someone's heart-soil determine whether we are going to sow seeds of Christlike love...or reserve them for a better prospect.

i know that we are cautioned to not cast our pearls before swine...but who are we to judge who's a pig and who is just a stinky human being? 

what if someone saw you and immediately decided your heart was too hard or your attitude was too bad.  i know that i would not be following Jesus today...because i didn't think i needed Him.  i had it all together on my own and no one could have convinced me otherwise...but they spread their seeds anyway.  i am so thankful.
Jesus looks at our hearts and sees fertile soil...even if it's waaaaay deep down...under rocks and asphalt and some old chewing gum...

so.  as we follow in His footsteps...we are called to spread seeds.  don't hesitate.  you never know where those seeds might just take root and grow like crazy.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

cup of joe for a joe

i have decided...this is one of my favorite things to do.

buy coffee for a soldier
an awesome way to bless someone in an inexpensive, practical way.

there are little coffee shops on military bases all over the world.  thru this site you can purchase a cup of coffee for a soldier at one of these bases.  and you can include a personal message...

it is also nice to hear back from the soldiers...man, i am sometimes in awe of what they go thru and how little they receive for their sacrifice.  anyway...check the site out...it's pretty awesome...

blurry

as a kid i had horrible vision.

conversations would go like this:

'honey, what time is it?'.'
'i don't know.'
'well can't you read the clock on the wall?'
'there's a clock on the wall???'


when things are blurry they seem a lot bigger than they really are.  in high school swimming class we would play water polo.  i was horrible at it...not only because i am short and because sports aren't really my thing to begin with...but also because i couldn't wear my glasses.  the pool was filled with 15 year old girls...but to my eyes i was trying to play against a team of grown men...all over six feet tall.


Mark 8:22-26
They arrived at Bethsaida. Some people brought a sightless man and begged Jesus to give him a healing touch. Taking him by the hand, he led him out of the village. He put spit in the man's eyes, laid hands on him, and asked, "Do you see anything?" He looked up. "I see men. They look like walking trees." So Jesus laid hands on his eyes again. The man looked hard and realized that he had recovered perfect sight, saw everything in bright, twenty-twenty focus...

hmm...do you ever have trouble with your spiritual vision? 
we start out as unbelievers...completely blind and unable to imagine what would be so great about a life of following Jesus. then...Jesus arrives on the scene of our hearts and touches our spiritual vision...we are exposed to a whole sense that we didn't know was even there...we see things as right and wrong...we are hurt by things and concerned by things that we never even noticed before.  but we aren't necessarily seeing things as they really are...we may be blowing a few things out of proportion because our spiritual vision isn't quite clear yet.
then Jesus touches us again and we have clear vision.  the attack of the enemy that had us paralyzed with fear just moments earlier seems like a lego battle because all of a sudden we have an eternal perspective...and it is 20/20.

may your inspired Creator touch your spiritual eyes so that you may see clearly.  may He touch you again and again until you are not afraid or even worried about the battles that will come, but that you walk into them knowing that your armor is impervious to the puny weapons that the enemy has.  that the enemy is not, in fact, the size of a tree...but the enemy is only as big as a single man...and together, with Jesus...you can take 'em... 







Thursday, August 16, 2012

the list

today's proverb inspired me to share a bit of my testimony...

as a teenager i was never without a boyfriend.

i mostly dated really great guys...you know the type that wanted to 'settle down' at 16.  actually...my husband was the 5th man to propose to me. 

every time i would date a guy, i would imagine our life together.  and i was always happy with what i saw.  ...or at least i thought i was.  i would always end up breaking up with the guy...never with a good reason.  just because i wasn't quite sure.

Proverbs 16:2
Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;
God probes for what is good.

finally...in college...when my understanding of God's grace, mercy and love changed and i completely turned my life over to Him...something drastic happened.

i felt like God was calling me to fast from dating.  this was a big deal...but, figuring that He meant like 6 months or so...i chose to see it as a challenge and an adventure.

it ended up being 3 years.  ha. ha. ha.


during those 3 years God did an incredible work in me...i grew closer to Him than i could ever have imagined.  He was truly my best friend, lover of my soul, counselor, provider...i could go on and on.

i knew that i wanted to get married one day though.  and that since God isn't able to screw up...i wanted my husband to be His choice for me.  this led to...the list.

ok...i have to stop here for a second...
please don't think i am a holier-than-thou,
wack-job, radical that lives with my head
in the heavenlies all the time. 
 i am really quite practical most of the time...
on that note...

the list was a big deal to me.  i felt that God had created a specific man for me and created me for that man...and that since God knew who that man was...He could give me some indicators to look for.  i wasn't interested in dating for dating's sake anymore.  i didn't want to waste time with anymore great guys that weren't His choice for me.

so.  i prayed. 

'God, He has to be a serious follower...and be trying to be more like Jesus, okay?'
'daughter, that sounds good to me.'
'God, i really like musicians.  can he be a musician.'
'daughter, while the man i have for you may love music. 
 he is not a musician...that's just not what i have for you'
'oh...i guess i can be okay with that.'

we went back and forth like this and i ended up with a 3 page list.  down to height and eye color.  it wasn't a list of demands that i had for God...it was a list of indicators that God had for me.

so...i continued on...growing in my own relationship with my Father...and praying for the man He had for me to be growing as well.

fast forward to the end of year 3.  i felt like God was releasing me to date again and i sort of went stupid.  i dated a guy that was a musician...with brown eyes (not green)...that was far too tall for me.  i tried to make it work but the guy totally broke my heart.  i angrily shoved the list into the bottom of my desk drawer...and decided that i was going to be done with men on my own terms.

i was still licking my wounds a month later when i met my husband.  and i was completely not interested in getting into a relationship.  we hung out in a big group...no flirtation...no interest...just friends surrounded by other friends.  my girlfriends however, saw something different.  so...they broke into my dorm room and dug out the list. 

a few months later they came running to me with the list and every item was checked off.

so...i agreed to date my husband.  6 months later...we were engaged.  1 year later...we were married.  and now we have a gaggle of kids...hehehe.  things aren't perfect (actually according to the psychological community...our personalities are completely incompatible and we should not be happily married).  we are both seeking God though...and as we grow closer to our Father, we grow closer to one another by default.



i am so grateful now that i allowed God to 'probe for what was good'.  i sincerely thought that i would have been happy with any of the guys i had dated...and for the most part they were and are great guys...but as i see the paths they are on now...i understand more clearly.  God's way is the best way.  




Wednesday, August 15, 2012

cosmetic junkie


ask anyone that knows me well and they will tell you...i am a cosmetic junkie.

i can get lost in lotions and fragrances and eye shadows and lip glosses.  it's not that i have to wear all that goop because i feel incomplete as a human being...i just genuinely enjoy it.

with my theatre background, i look at my face as a canvas and makeup as my paint...it is never a routine...it is more of a hallowed ritual.

i have different products and fragrances for different occasions and different seasons...i just really enjoy it.

even when i go grocery shopping...i spend a good deal of time walking thru the cosmetic aisles examining the colors and fragrances of those overpriced items.

Proverbs 27:9 
Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight,
a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.

i have amazing friends.  i am not someone that needs a lot of friends.  i am happy to have 1 or 2 close friends and hundreds of acquaintances.  i am also not someone that is willing to work really hard in a friendship.  i think that as long as we are growing closer to our Father, friendships should just work. 

there may be the occasional misunderstanding...but with complete honesty and understanding...these things resolve themselves.  i trust my friends' hearts, relish our differences, and enjoy our similarities.  i cherish them as they grow into the women that God has called them to be...rejoicing with them as they overcome obstacles and prayerfully encourage them as they come to new challenges. 

i enjoy my friendships...maybe as much as i enjoy my cosmetics. 

God is so good to have inspired that proverb.  He just 'gets' me.