My sweet husband came home and immediately asked our older daughter, "Are you doing anything later?"
She squinted her eyes, frowned a little and said, "No. . .why?"
"Cause I want to whisk your mother away for a while tonight."
My fists went in the air. "Yes!" I whispered. He HAD picked up on all my little (and not so little) hints it was time for a date.
"What are we doing?" I asked with a smile.
"What do you want to do?"
"Hmm. . .Let's do something fun and romantic and unusual and. . .lovely. Let's do something completely lovely, okay? Wouldn't that be nice?"
He inhaled slowly, raised his eyebrows, gave me a half-hearted smile and nodded his head politely.
I knew what he was thinking, so I said it for him, "No pressure there, huh?"
" I thought I was doing good getting you out of the house," he answered.
Poor guy. His wife sure makes it hard on him.
Thanks to jocke for the beautiful photo.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Before the weekend was over, I had visited three graveyards. Looking across the rows and rows of what used to be vibrant human beings made me a little sad. All I could think was, Look at all the loss. All these people meant something to someone and now they are just gone. Gone. And how long will they be remembered? A few generations and they will forgotten, as if they had never been here.
It doesn't seem right, you know? And then came this week's quote:
~ Max Lucado ~
Aah, so that's what I'm really upset about. I'm missing Paradise. Is my melancholy mood actually me wishing for heaven? And am I homesick because I want to avoid the pain? Am I a big fat weenie? I guess so. But I don't think I'm alone. If I was, there wouldn't be so many references to pressing on and persevering in the Bible. As if He was anticipating this response from His people, Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Take heart. He has overcome.
Better things are ahead. A better PLACE is ahead.
The hope, the ability to keep charging on comes from this knowledge:
He has overcome.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay." Hebrews 10:36-37
Amen and thank You, Lord!
Join our host Iris for more interpretations of this quote.
Friday, May 25, 2007
On the way to visit my dad's grave, I notice the sky matches my mood. Stacks of thick, dark clouds hover overhead and I am saddened to think this is only the beginning. I am bound to have many more good byes and the older I get, the closer they come. The natural process of life dictates a continual loss of people I hold dear. Will each death affect me this way? Will I learn how to handle it? Will it get easier?
But above the clouds, a narrow band of light appears, a small glimmer working to break through and I think it no coincidence the radio plays, "My Deliverer is coming. My Deliverer is standing by."
It is God's reminder.
This world, this loss is not all there is.
My Deliverer is coming.
My Deliverer is standing by.
Mmmm. . .yes, Lord, indeed.
Happy Memorial Day.
Photo credit to noodlefish.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The clock hits 3:15 PM and the rat race begins. I hit the elementary first, pick up two kids there, venture over to the middle school to pick up another, then drop two off at home before I take the youngest to her piano lesson. I go home, greet my high schooler and help with some homework before taking myself and my younger son to a chiropractic appointment, letting husband bring home younger daughter. There's just enough time to cook dinner and snarf it down. Older son goes off to a show choir performance for some civic group, older daughter stays put to do homework while the rest of us go off to an elementary school program. We're supposed to stay at the school for a meeting, but since we have a bunch of college kids headed over to the house in around an hour, we decide to skip it in favor of getting the younger kids ready for bed and picking up the house. When we get home, one of our former college kids has stopped by unexpectedly and is sitting in the living room working on his lap top, hosted by older daughter. While we catch up with him, a friend stops by needing someone to talk to, so I head out to the front porch with her, while husband visits with college guy. In the meantime, younger daughter needs someone to listen to her read her reading homework. Since older son is back, he's sent in to get her started. Friend leaves and I relieve older son while husband sets out drinks and snacks for college study. I put younger daughter and younger son to bed, wander downstairs where older daughter is waiting for help with Algebra while college kids are streaming into the house. I sit down at the dining room table with older daughter while the video tape for study starts in the next room. We finish graphing equations and I join husband and college kids sprawled out in the living room where we discuss Truth and God and the world until around 12:30 AM.
People tell me I need balance.
But as I look over this day (and of course, all my days are not all like this), what should I cut out? We need to attend our kids' events. We need to help them with homework and take them to appointments. It is a privilege to provide a place for college kids to hang out and figure out life as adults. I am honored when people come to me for a listening ear and enjoy giving any help I can. People need a safe place to go. If not at my house, where? Every activity is important. Every act is done to further another human being. Is it right to turn people away so I can achieve "balance"? Yes, I get tired. Yes, I've had times I've felt completely spent, but is that wrong?
But here's my biggest problem: I don't think BALANCE is Biblical.
Jesus says if we are to be great in the kingdom of God, we are to be a servant and those who want to be first must be slaves of all. (Mark 10:42-45) SLAVES. Does that sound like balance? Jesus says, "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:41-42) When Jesus was grieving the death of John the Baptist and tried to get alone, people followed Him. "When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick." (Matthew 14:14) He stayed so long it was dinner time so He told the disciples to feed them yet too--a mere 5000 of them! The saints of the early church certainly didn't display balance. "Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you." (1 Thessalonians 2:9)
Someone will say, "but you have to take care of yourself to be any good to anyone else." Yeah, but I can use that as an excuse not to do things also.
I've been told:
You need to learn to say no.
You need a break.
You're going to burn yourself out.
I understand the concept, but have a hard time living it. Don't get me wrong. I base nearly everything I do on how it will affect my family, but there are times it seems God brings things, important things, into my life that cause my family to sacrifice time together. I've been told a few times I am too busy, I need to pare away some things in my life and honestly I've felt that way often, but how do you tell someone you know you can help, no? And if I don't do what I do, someone else will have to do it. Is MY time more important than theirs? Where is "the balance?"
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
~ Carol Brazo ~
"No Ordinary Home"
I've had a real problem with this quote.
Something kept nagging me about seeing my own worth. People (and commenters) tell me I am too hard on myself. I don't see it as beating myself up. I see it as knowing who I am. But I've noticed my children have inherited from their mother an uncanny ability to recognize their own flaws. I refute them and tell them all the wonderful things I see in them, but they, like me, assume I am just being nice (Your mother HAS to think you're special, right?). Last night, in a room of college kids, I was joking around about the nature of my aging skin and battles with weight junk. I noticed as I automatically downplayed myself (I really don't try to put myself down, but it must come out that way) how the eyes of the people in the room shifted to the ceiling and someone uttered an "Oh, whatever, Tami." Is God trying to tell me something regarding my view of myself? Do I dishonor Him when I am keenly aware of my imperfections?
But is it all bad to recognize our deficiencies? Isn't that where the work of God is displayed? When God takes a shy little girl and makes her a leader in her church, doesn't that cause those who knew her when to think, "How did that happen?" Aren't they forced to acknowledge the power of Almighty God? In talking about my personal faults, I mean to show my college girls how far I have come. Can't they see God's hand in that? Shouldn't it bring others hope to see God's power made perfect in our weakness?
I don't agree it is impossible to bring holiness into the lives of others unless we have our self-worth questions figured out. It was my own issues of feeling less than ideal that caused me to reach out to God in the first place. When we, in humility, admit our weakness to Him, doesn't He fill us with His Spirit, doing the work THROUGH us? You know, "When we are weak, He is strong." How can that not be holy?
Be sure to visit our host, Christine.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I don't have to tell those of you reading this that the blogosphere can be an odd place. It is a microcosm of our world, containing all the elements of life without having to put a face or even a name if we don't want to, to our actions. We can find common ground among strangers and intellectual stimulation without ever leaving our homes.
But it is also easy to hurt one another. Without the aid of body language and tone, our words can come off as harsh and judgmental when they are truly meant to be gentle criticism. I've found that out the hard way a few times and gotten myself into some difficult situations with people who are my family in Christ.
I once had a "blog spat" with Shaun Groves, who expressed his frustration with the church putting on a show once a week and not taking the time to disciple its members. He is a Christian singer who makes his money putting on concerts so I didn't think what he did was much different and tried to point that out. We ended up spending FAR too much time justifying ourselves to one another until I finally realized I was wasting time and hurting a fellow brother. I had read his blog long enough to know he has a heart for the same God I do and for a generation of people I will never reach. Our little spat was doing nothing good to unify the body and further God's work. Stupid, Tami.
The reason I get into these predicaments is because I get a little tired of the love fests that generally happen in the comment sections of blogs. The commenters almost always agree and often incessantly praise the author (funny how this doesn't bother me as much on MY blog!). I want to scream, "Hey, aren't we supposed to be sharpening one another? As "family" aren't we supposed to be challenging each other? Where's the serious discussion that helps us all think and grow?" Yet every time I go against the flow of common (comment) thought, I regret it afterwards. The nature of the blog itself can be deceiving. We think we know a person because we've read about their lives and their troubles and been exposed to some personal thoughts, yet it is a very small part of that author. It's easy to assume too much from what we read. So if I've offended any of you out there in bloggyland, please know I mean no disrespect. If I comment on your blog at all it's because I've been reading it regularly which means I like what you have to say. If I comment a lot, I REALLY like what you have to say.
I wonder, is there a way to avoid this? If the blogosphere is a small representation of society, I think not. It's easy to offend others in real life too. People don't understand our sense of humor, don't know our sore spots, don't know the inner struggles we've had and comments sometimes hurt. This is an area I could truly feel despair over. No matter how careful I am, if I am involved with people, I will hurt them and they will hurt me. It's inevitable. If I think about it too much, being a hermit looks pretty appealing. Yet all over the New Testament, God calls us to encourage one another which implies involvement with each other. And I assume we need to attempt it whether we are understood or not. So I'll keep plugging away at it, praying I don't say the wrong thing and if I do, relying on God's wisdom to make something good out of it.
To all of my fellow bloggers, thank you. You've enriched my life with your thought-provoking posts. Know that I mean for my words to bring you good not harm. The problem is I am human. Forgive me if I have hurt you. That is never my intent. I may not always agree with you, but I respect you for putting yourself out there, opening yourself up to all kinds of criticisms. What you do matters. There are, without a doubt, people you will never hear from who are inspired by your words. May we all walk on in His spirit.
Thanks to mkreyness for his photo.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
~ Beth Moore, LPM Blog ~
As a young wife and mother, I was under the delusion that men desire a Martha Stewart type existence. Creating a sanctuary at home for my husband was a duty I didn't always live up to. So one day I decided to work a little harder and killed myself making the house spotless, no easy task with little ones undoing everything I was attempting. I made his favorite meal and even saved the vacuuming for ten minutes before he got home to give the house that just cleaned feeling. I got a little excited anticipating his surprise. But when he walked in the door, he said nothing. NOTHING. He went through his normal routine, oblivious to all my hard work. I was puzzled at first, and then down right hurt.
As I laid awake that night, wondering what it was all about, it occurred to me he didn't say anything when toys were strewn about the living room or I asked him to bring home dinner or clean socks were hard to come by either. He has never looked around the house and said, "What have you done all day?" Home is not about how clean the tiolet is or if I've ironed his shirt or we have his favorite cereal. Home is about me and our family.
I tell you all that to illustrate how every flaw has an accompanying strength. While my husband may not always be very observant, he also does not put expectations on me. I know he loves ME, not what I do. The same patterns exist in my children, my family, my friends, myself. Every bad quality is balanced by something good. My child who saves everything to the last minute also goes with the flow, not getting too stressed about anything, never making demands on me. My daughter who can be a little bossy is self-motivated, not needing to be reminded of what she has to accomplish. My son who hates homework is nagged by his conscientiousness until he gets it done. My chatterbox lets me in on every aspect of her life. My tendency to overanalyze sometimes produces a good thought!
Is this how God uses our flaws, compensating for them by giving us an admirable strength? Have I been concentrating so hard on my weaknesses I have missed the good He's planted in me? Have I overlooked the life line He's been throwing? Have you? Can you see the flip side of your defects?
It's pure genius, Lord, tempering our imperfections with gifts! What brilliant design coupling our deficiencies to keep us humble with our abilities which enable us to press on. What beauty. And mercy. Thank You.
Go forth today, my friends, merciful enough to overlook the flaw, intent on finding the strength, both in others and yourself. Surely the beauty of the Lord is all around us.
Visit Laurel Wreath for more.
Friday, May 11, 2007
When I realized the latest guy I had fallen for was only being nice, I fell to my dorm room floor and cried for what seemed like forever. God had a way of slamming the door in my face when it came to men. I had always been afraid I would not find "true love." My experiences with the opposite sex fueled that fear. "Why, Lord," I asked, "I do it Your way. I only fall for the ones who love You. Why do You keep saying no? Will it ever be my turn?"
What if that's not what I want for you? Are you willing to accept that?
"But Your word says, 'Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.' You promised."
Do you love Me enough to give up that dream?
More tears. Lots and lots of tears.
"What choice do I have, Lord? How can I get along without You?"
Then trust Me.
I nearly cried myself to sleep on that hard floor, too weary to fight Him anymore. I reasoned with myself that if He created me, His plan would bring me the greatest happiness, whether it fit my dreams or not.
"Okay, Lord, You win. I give up. If You want me to be single, I'll be single."
A month later my future husband, who I had known for years, knocked on my door unexpectedly. The rest, as they say, is history.
Except that over twenty years later I sit again, not able to sleep, wondering what God is asking of me now. The desire is so similar--a certainty that God can do the impossible despite my feelings of insignificance, yet a continual slamming of the door as I get my hopes up. "What are we doing here, Lord?"
Be faithful to what I have given you.
"I'm trying to, Lord, and working hard to press on and be patient."
Then trust Me.
"I do, I really do. I just get distracted by the people around me and Satan dogs me at every turn. He really does a number on me sometimes, making me believe all sorts of things, confusing me until I'm not sure what to do anymore."
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.
Just like last time, I'm not sure I can really give it up, but I recognize I have no choice. His plan is perfect. Right thinking, correct action is made one choice at a time, so for today I choose to trust Him. I will give Him my desire to be used for His purposes, in His timing, not my own. I'll make the choice again tomorrow and the next day and the one after that until one day, the fulfillment of that desire may unexpectedly knock on my door.
And if it never does?
Have I really wasted my time trusting God? Have I missed anything by walking with Him, basking in His presence? No. I may feel disappointed, but I can take heart that this world is temporary and the one to come will bring something much better.
Press on, my friends. Waiting on God is win-win.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
There's been a strange development in my realization of my own aging process (you will recall the gray eyelash horror of a few months ago). It is a moot practice of mine to pluck out the gray hairs winging out of my head. I'm finding an odd phenomena. It is not uncommon for me to pull what I think is a gray hair and find gray on the end, but black at the root, like it started out gray and changed its mind. Then the other day the hair I yanked was red. I think it's official, folks. My hormones are completely whacked out.
While we're discussing vanity, let me address the latest challenge in the blogosphere--displaying your morning face. Part of me thought I had nothing to lose. I haven't ever posted pictures of myself and so no one would be in for a shocker to see how I REALLY look, but then I wondered if I wanted my official unveiling to be me at my worst! It's not like I don't go out in public without makeup on. Those of you who have bumped into me at the Y have seen me in all my ?glory?. I honestly considered doing it, putting myself out there, I really did until I started seeing all the faces popping up, women the same age as me, looking pretty darn good for just getting out of bed. Where are your dark circles? People really have nicely flowing hair in the morning?! And dang you, Lisa Samson for haunting me with this, "Will you post who you really are? Without embellishment, as the morning sun, or the alarm, or a husband or a child sees you when you first open your eyes to meet the day? And if not, ask yourself why not?" Now I'm analyzing myself again. Trust me, I don't need any help with this! UGH!
Is it not enough I let you all see my guts?! I have to show you my physical weaknesses as well? This blogging thing is gettin' tough.
I choose NOT to take the Morning Face Challenge. Yes, let the clucking begin. I am a big, fat chicken. My physical attributes will remain a mystery to some of you. Who knows, you might conjure up some really hot chick in your imagination of who I might be. How could I bust your bubble?
Sunday, May 06, 2007
I've been tagged.
Christine got me this morning with the meme, 7 Things About Me.
Here are the rules: Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to write on their own blog about their seven things, as well as these rules. You need to choose 7 people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they have been tagged and to read your blog!
Here goes nothin':
The college girls that come to my house on Monday nights tease me about having a "Death Stare." Apparently I have this hidden power to ask a question and stare them down until they tell me everything I want to know (and then some!). I prefer to call it active listening! For the record, I think I've given up plenty to them too--not very many people understand the significance of Diet 7-Up, girls! (It's probably better for the rest of you not to ask. It may cause us all to blush!)
I will always feel like a shy, little, fat girl, easily overlooked in the corner, taking in all the conversations around her, noticing what is unspoken and wondering what it must be like to be grown up.
I have an addictive personality and must be very careful to do all things in moderation.
I have a great desire to share what God has done for me both in writing and public speaking, but often feel frustrated at my lack of opportunity and God's idea that it is not the right time yet.
My perfect vacation would involve my husband, a remote location, leisurely meals with great food and conversation (I'm thinking two hours on a veranda with a spectacular view) , a stack of good books, quiet walks with cool breezes blowing over and meetings with God that wouldn't be forced to end when the sun came up. It would absolutely NOT include television, shopping or crowds.
Though I graduated twenty five years ago and have given birth to four children, I actually weigh less now than I did in high school (Don't think this is any great feat. I simply weighed too much in high school!).
I love to have in depth conversations with people, see how others think and find out what has shaped them into who they are. Because I like it when people are bold enough to ask me personal questions, I forget it can make others uncomfortable when I ask blunt questions of them. I hope they understand I am not trying to be nosy, only wanting to truly understand where they are coming from.
There you have it--more than you ever cared to know about me. You can blame Christine for it, okay?
For my part in this diabolical game, I tag:
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
It was dark.
And very quiet.
She should have been sleeping, but her spirit was roused with anxiety. All the tasks, the changes, her failings, uncertainties, disappointments and worries over loved ones shook her awake.
"Where are You, Lord? I need Your peace," she whispered.
She felt Satan's pursuit more acutely lately. Her weary body had little strength to fight.
"I need You, Lord. I need to feel Your presence."
The clock ticked. The refrigerator hummed. Desperately wanting to be still and know that He is God, she closed her eyes, soaking in the silence, seeking the presence of the Almighty. Inhaling ever so slowly she said it again, "I need You, Lord."
The breath left her body and she sensed a faint I am here.
Inhale. . ."I need You."
Exhale. . .I am here.
Inhale. . ."Be near, Lord. I can't do earth without You."
Exhale. . .Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Inhale. . ."I feel so weak."
Exhale. . .Do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.
Her body began to relax.
Inhale. She listened closely.
Exhale. She believed Him.
Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.
Photo credit: artonline
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
~ Charles Spurgeon ~
Was the snail taunted on his trip? Did the cheetah run by and tell him he'd never make it? Did the elephant and rhinoceros walk by, rumbling the ground below him and look back with a "Heh, heh, get a load of that!"? Did the tortoise muster up an encouraging smile? Did the hyena giggle as he stirred up the dust and strode on? Did the ostrich whisper to the emu, "Who does he think he is? There's no way he'll get there in time." Did the monkey and the raccoon run circles around him, trying to distract him from the path? Did anyone offer him ride?
The scene reminds me of a high school gym class.
The snail kept inching along, ignoring the impressions of others, focused on one thing.
The voice of God.
And so must we.
If we are to remain steadfast as a snail, we must get God's voice in our heads. You know what that means, right? Get into your Bibles, people. Only His word can propel you in your journey.
Join Iris at Sting My Heart for other takes on this quote.