Hey y'all (there's that influence of you southern bloggers!).
Don't worry if you don't see much from here for a while. This site will be quiet for a week or so as our whole family heads out to California. We've never taken such a big trip before and are more than a little excited and a slight bit anxious. Pray for us. One of our kids is worried someone is going to get sick. I told him not to let Satan play mind tricks on him, yet if I were honest I'd have to admit I've had the same concern. When you do something this big you want everything to be perfect, you know? Our oldest came home from an outing at the lake with a cut on the bottom of his toe that was pretty sore this morning. And the rest of the kids are MORE than a little wired today. I'm hoping my tired, stressed nerves can handle it as we finish up packing and head out. So pray for all to feel great and my worries and stress to melt away.
I was soothed this morning as our worship leader read a passage from Exodus 33 where God tells Moses, "My presence will go with you and I will give you rest." Aaahhhh. . .don't you love it when God gets so personal and makes you feel church was designed especially for you? He is really somethin'!!
Also say a little prayer for our amazing free contractor (my wonderful father-in-law) as he installs a new floor for our kitchen and office while we're gone. God is so good to us!!
And now I leave you with this song, (I hope you remember it),
"I dream Jamaica in the moonlight,
sandy beaches making love every night. . ."
Okay, okay, California is not actually Jamaica (but probably as close as I'll get) and come to think of it, I'm not sure those are even the right words to that song. Where is my head today?
I'm ready to blow this joint, people.
Catch ya on the flip side!
Photo Credit: cobalt123
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
"How is your spiritual life?"
It was an innocuous question. She was only trying to catch up and spark a lively conversation, which is common for us, yet something in me felt uncomfortable. I didn't have anything to say (GASP!).
"Oh. . .it's fine. . . I have missed Bible study. I tend to study deeper while doing our lessons, but it's okay. I've enjoyed the extra time I've had." (The stupid answer didn't push away the uneasiness I felt.)
The truth is, I'd been feeling like my time with God was a little ho-hum lately, not bad, but not exciting either. I hadn't felt the same peace or joy of late, probably due to my change of schedule with summer, but her question smacked me in the face with it.
"How is your spiritual life?"
It lingered in my mind for a few days. I took my hesitation in answering and lack of anything good to say as confirmation I had been slacking off. It was a great reality check, motivating me to get up a little earlier this week to soak in God's presence. And, boy, have I needed and enjoyed it. I've got my "aahhhh" back.
Thank you, my friend. You know who you are. I thank God you are always so eager to share your experiences with our Lord and engage others in the discussion. I'm not sure if you sensed my spirit was blah or knew how your question affected me, but know you put me back on track. I feel blessed to have a friend who is consistently growing and willing to ask the tough questions to be sure the rest of us are too. I love you!
And for the rest of you, may I be so bold to ask,
How is your spiritual life? (You knew I HAD to do that, right?!)
Be sure to check out other Thankful Thursday participants at Sting My Heart.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
It was purple. It had to be purple. My own room. My own space. Purple made it mine.
Divine providence placed me that room in the basement just as I neared adolescence. It was no coincidence, either, that the move preceded hearing His voice. He designed this special place just for me.
When I felt like I didn't fit in, like something was wrong with me, I retreated to my purple room. It was always quiet down there, always welcoming, producing in me the feeling I could be exactly who I was without comparison to anybody. It didn't matter what I looked like or if I had a date to the dance or how many games I sat on the bench. My purple room was safe because God met me there. It was there I pleaded for God to make me something special. It was there I scoured my Bible, finding all kinds of promises to hook myself to. There is where I wrote in my journal about my feelings of inadequacy and yearnings for true love that overlooked my flaws. It was there God whispered in my ear, "I see you. I love you. I have plans for you. Follow Me."
~ Henri Nouwen ~
My purple room was God's gift to me, my own private sanctuary to get acquainted with Jesus and let Him shower me with His love and attention.
To this day I love the color purple. In the next room is a purple chaise lounge--a perfectly impractical gift from my perfectly in tune husband. (It's been three years and I still love looking at that thing!) The very room I'm sitting in has a purple centerpiece, purple curtains, purple flowers in a swag on the wall, a purple vase holding my beloved pussy willows and purple hydrangeas surrounding me in a wallpaper border. I laugh as I realize it is in this room I do the same things I did in my bedroom as a teenager. Here is where I meet God now. Here is where His Spirit breathes new life into my weary soul. Here is where I study His word and gain strength for a new day. Here is where I soak in His "aahhh" and have a hard time leaving to begin the tasks at hand.
In the Bible purple is the color of royalty. Does that mean I'm a queen? I'm just saying. . .
I pray you all find solitude and God's spirit in your alone times, my friends. Sit back and soak Him in. Let yourself be lonely enough to experience His touch.
Stop by Christine's at Fruit in Season to read more.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Women like my husband. Not in the Brad Pitt or Billy Graham or even Yanni sort of way (ooh, I could be in trouble for that one), but more along the lines of Wayne Brady. My Kevin is a musician and funny and creative and sensitive and loves to talk. I have women telling me how hysterical he was at rehearsal and see with my own eyes his loyal female fan base in choir. Last week a woman he worked with nearly two years ago called him on his cell phone to chat about shakeups in his old workplace. And the other day at lunch, the proprietor of the restaurant, the woman who rarely even says hello when I am there without him, nearly followed him out the door. Even in high school and college, most of his friends were women. Am I jealous? No, not really, I mean I understand the appeal. I MARRIED the guy after all. (One of the best indicators to date that I ain't no dummy!) But can I let you in on a secret?
Occasionally I'll feel a little twinge of jealousy, not that he will fall for another woman, but that I can't have the same effect with men. How's that for absolutely unspiritual, superficial junk for ya?!
Have a terrific weekend, my friends!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The house had been SOOOOOO noisy all morning. Two of my kids were playing this cup game they learned at youth group that involves clapping and tapping and slamming cups onto the table in a certain rhythm. (Becca, if you're reading this, I owe you BIG TIME!!!!!) While they were filling the dining room with deafening sound, my oldest had his iTunes blaring on the computer and my youngest was practicing her piano lesson.
I felt the familiar irritability and muscle knot at the base of my skull common to this particular week of the month. To avoid blowing my top, I decided to escape it for a while and take a shower, but when I came back down, the cup game continued, the computer had been replaced by the television and my piano girl started following me around talking to me. I didn't want to hurt anyone, so I told the cup couple, "You guys need to be done with that before your mother goes completely nuts." Recognizing the very real possibility of that, they quit immediately. (See, there IS a God!!)
In 45 minutes Cup Couple and I were leaving for the day and I wanted to get my In "Other" Words post done before I left, so I sat down at my computer. Even my headphones and white noise couldn't completely block out the commotion as Cup Couple started this chasing thing that involved lots of running, slapping, screaming, laughing, and loud bumps as they fell to the floor. It made it VERY hard to concentrate, especially with their sister asking me a completely irrelevant question every other minute! The tension kept growing and my head was feeling it. Finally, this stressed out woman lost it.
"I am NOT listening to that all day. You guys need to knock it off now or I'm not taking you."
Teen daughter replied in her exceptionally adolescent tone, "Fine, then, I won't go."
My response? "GOOD!" (Go ahead and cringe. Stupid me.)
Her mouth fell open. "Thanks a lot, Mom," she said running up the stairs to her room before the tears started falling.
I let her go and kept working on my post, honestly just thankful for some quiet, trying to convince myself she was partly to blame for what I said. But a few minutes later the guilt starting creeping in and I made my way to her room.
"I'm sorry, honey, I was wrong. I shouldn't have said that. I'm trying to get stuff done before we leave and you guys were making it very hard. It made me crazy. I shouldn't have said it. I didn't mean it. I want you to go along with us. I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?"
We made up and she went along with her brother and me on our shopping excursion. Even though I knew it would take longer, I treated them to lunch at their favorite restaurant, making the most of this opportunity to spend some time with my blessings in disguise. All in all, it was a pretty good day, except for the one time I was tempted to leave them in Sears.
So today I am thankful I don't have to be perfect to be a mom, because if that was the prerequisite, my life would be very boring now. I'm thankful God can take my bad and make it into something good. When I mess up, both my children and I can learn valuable lessons in humility and forgiveness. And. . .gotta say I'm thankful PMS passes eventually.
Join Iris for more Thankful Thursday posts.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
That stinkin' house has been a constant frustration.
Every time I drive by it I have to either look the other way or suppress the urge to growl. We never wanted to be landlords. We knew it would involve watching people not give our cute little house the same love we did. We understood the risk in getting our rent money and scrambling to meet expenses. And all our little scenarios have played out just as we thought.
It was almost a year ago I asked God for a miracle. I asked Him to take care of that little problem for us, bring a buyer and save the day. A tall order, I know, but I figured if I had faith God could do it, He would.
But He didn't.
And the saga continues. I've prayed about it and put it on my Bible study prayer list which assures me it is being lifted up faithfully to God. It occurred to me this summer that maybe I am missing something God wants me to do with these particular renters. I felt God telling me to talk with them about Him and invite them to church. Okay, God. Is that what You've been concerned about all along, bringing these people to You and not our comfort? I can do that. Is that what You want? No problem. Then before I had a chance to call her that day, she called ME to tell me they had burned up the stove.
What ARE we doing here, God?
~ Oswald Chambers ~
The miraculous answers are wonderful. They make our lives easy and help us feel heard and cared for, but it is the unanswered prayers that stretch our faith, that confirm our true devotion. I want to be like Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego who said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
I'll keep praying about this stinkin' house. I'll follow His lead as I interact with this family. Though I want to smack them half the time, I'll keep praying for them. I DID have a good conversation with her about God and invited them to church. I won't stop praying for God to do something miraculous, but even if He does not, I will trust Him, for that is real faith, following when we don't understand.
Visit Iris for more interpretations on this quote.
Friday, June 08, 2007
You know how the way you think about yourself doesn't always coincide with the view others have of you? Whose impression is more accurate? I mean, we LIVE with ourselves, so we should know ourselves best, yet I know I tend to notice my negatives more than my positives. Are we too close to get a good perspective? Other people, for the most part, probably get our best effort. They see the good we are capable of, the correct choices, without the snarky attitude that may dwell inside. So which one is the correct picture?
Perhaps the people we live with would know best? Yet even they don't know what's going on in our heads.
Or maybe too much attention to this subject is pointless.
What do you think?
Photo Credit: becstarr
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I sat on the park bench, seeking respite from the every day. My spirit was soothed with the sun on my cheek, the cool breeze blowing through my hair, the chirping overhead, the rippling of the water. . .Aaaaaaaah. I could have sat there all day.
But, as always, duty calls and just as I started convincing myself to resume the day's activities, a trio of ducks came waddling along. They were quiet yet very close, so close I stayed put, watching attentively, wondering why they would be crossing my path at the precise moment I was to leave. One seemed to be the leader while the other two were content to follow, moving along in their funny, distinctively duck way. It struck me how they could have cared less whether I was sitting there or not. They were fowl with a mission, but set apart from humans in some important ways. They didn't worry about making the best use of their time. They had no concern how they were affecting the lives of other ducks they came in contact with. They didn't think they looked odd or even give a thought to the impressions of others, especially me, their audience du jour. They did what ducks do, what they were created to do.
I found them sort of beautiful, singular in purpose, toddling on by me. Did they know of the patch of brilliant blue on their sides? Had they ever seen the perfectly shaped curls on their tails? And if they had, had it changed their behavior at all? Did they ever stand still wondering what God was calling them to do? Did they worry about anything at all besides eating, sleeping, swimming and waddling?
So today I am thankful for a little group of ducks, reminding me to be who I am and to forget about the expectations of others. I appreciate my feathered friends who taught me to move along doing what I was created to do, in the way I was equipped to do it.
And really now, is there anyone who doesn't find a duck cute as the dickens? There you go, reason enough to be a duck.
Join Iris at Sting My Heart for more Thankful Thursday posts.
Thanks to garth.kennedy for the duck photo.
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
There were four boys and four girls in her confirmation class. Eight eighth-graders who had spent week after week together, memorizing facts about God and church doctrine. Among the boys was Smart Guy who killed himself to get the best score on everything, Ladies' Man who had already mastered a studly sniff-pull-up-your-pants-puff-out-your-chest move, Ornery Cuss who found a way out of everything and The Eccentric no one bothered. The girls included her friend, Boob Queen, a girl everyone wanted to go out with and who also seemed to have all the answers, Reserved Loner who you couldn't help but picture with a book in her hand, Worldly-wise Woman she had secretly slid under the church pews with in younger years, and herself, Quiet Observer. She wasn't sure what her place was in this motley group, but that feeling wasn't unusual. Like all kids, her whole life had been about finding where she fit.
Eighth grade was their pinnacle year, the most important, which meant they got the big cheese of all teachers, their pastor. Pastor was wise and godly-looking with the appropriate amount of gray hair and polyester. He knew how to say "God" correctly, lowering his chin and giving it more authority than other words, at least that's what he did in his sermons. They had seen him speak forcefully and knew he had been a POW in WWII. He was a tough cookie and no one dared to cross him. It was possible Ornery Cuss may learn something for once.
But what Quiet Observer found odd was when Pastor talked about God in confirmation class, he was more informal, more personal. He was never stodgy, never boring. She was completely captured by what he said.
"You are special."
It was easy for her to see this in her classmates. Smart Guy cornered the market in intelligence. Boob Queen snagged all the guys. Though they said he was such a handful, people talked about Ornery Cuss with a twinkle in their eye. She couldn't pinpoint anything that set her apart.
"God created you for a specific purpose."
She could see how that might be true for The Eccentric who would probably create some amazing invention or Reserved Loner who wanted to be a doctor, but what purpose does a Quiet Observer fill? There's no amazing talent there, nothing to cause a stir.
"He has a plan for your life."
She knew Ladies' Man had his life mapped out, complete with a hot wife and important career. Worldly-wise Woman had been collecting a pay check for some time at her parents' grocery store and had her own money already. They seemed to have their lives figured out. Quiet Observer was clueless as to her future.
"You need to open yourself up to Jesus and He will make your life what He intended it to be."
She wanted so badly to believe what the pastor was saying. Was it possible there was more to life than what she knew? Quiet Observer looked around the room to see if anyone else seemed as moved as she. Ladies' Man was leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head, contemplating the ceiling. Reserved Loner was reading ahead in her confirmation book while Smart Guy furiously took notes. Boob Queen adjusted her rings and inspected her nails. Ornery Cuss was making a tattoo on his arm with his pen. The Eccentric was staring out the window and Worldly-wise Woman was adding a list of figures on the side of her paper. Were they not hearing this? Or did they not NEED this like she did?
Quiet Observer went home and decided she had nothing to lose. She prayed honestly, "Jesus, I don't get all this, but if what Pastor says is true, I want it. I want you to make more of me than what I am. Give me a special plan. Take over my life and make it something amazing." She scoured her Bible, striving to understand and she kept calling out to Jesus, over and over and over, "Make me something special. Make my life count. Come."
Slowly her life was transformed. Every time she found herself in the presence of others who made her feel insignificant she fell on her knees and opened her Bible.
And gained strength.
made us bow our heads in shame,
He can use for His glory."
~ Joanna Weaver~
Having a Mary Spirit
There is great strength in our weakness as HE makes it good. Our stumbling blocks give us the humility to admit our need. May we remember to praise God for them.
Check out Joy in the Morning to see more on this quote.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
1. You no longer react to bodily noises.
2. You think Hot Pockets are a food staple.
3. You find yourself saying, "SWEET!" in response to anything good.
4. You have a Facebook profile.
5. So much soda is consumed that when your kids cash in the aluminum cans they get $65.
6. A simple question becomes a negotiation process.
7. You know what ttyl, bff, idk and lylab mean.
8. When someone calls you "Mommy," you get suspicious.
9. Your family's favorite entertainment is watching youtube videos through the Wii system.
10. You have more deodorant in the house than eggs.
Ahh, kids. They keep our lives exciting. I'll keep mine! I kinda like 'em!!
Friday, June 01, 2007
It was one year ago today I published my first post. I was a real novice when I started this blog. I knew very little about the blogging world, but came to it with one of the clearest instructions from God I have ever heard. He hit me over the head with the proverbial hammer and put a megaphone to my ear! So I read Blogging for Dummies (Seriously, I really did. This book does exist!), took a deep breath and dove in.
Unfortunately for you guys, this past year has been a particularly difficult one for me emotionally and spiritually. You have watched me grieve the loss of my dad and probably saw more downs than is usual for me. Last September I nearly gave up blogging when I realized the scrutiny and misunderstanding that can go along with people reading your words without hearing your tone or seeing your body language. I wanted to quit, but there was that pesky problem of God reminding me how clear His direction was. You can't tell God no, not if you love Him like I do and God, true to His form, taught me so much when I sucked it up and pressed on.
He taught me He does answer prayers, like mine to make me humble (although this one has hurt a lot!). He has taught me about perseverance and discipline. He has brought home the point that He is God and it is irrelevant whether I comprehend what He is doing. He says I have a distinct voice (so do you, by the way) and I need to be me, the person He uniquely created (again, are you hearing this for yourself?), no matter who understands. He has sent people, some I have never met, who absolutely "get" me and spur me along. He has shown me I can't keep silent about Him and His ways. Even if I try, my insides can't hold it all in as I see God do His thing. I will never be done learning and that is exciting.
So, my blogging public (?!), I guess I should thank you for coming along on this ride with me. I try not to be self-indulgent here, but I'm afraid I am sometimes. Forgive me. I figure if I am thinking and feeling the things I do, there may be someone else who is too and needs to know they are not alone. (I felt better about this when I read a ranting by Beth Moore yesterday, confirming to me that everyone has bad days and sharing them helps us all.) I want people to see how God works in the dark times as well as the happy ones. My heart's desire is that those who read this blog are pointed to God, with their joy, their sorrow, in the good AND the bad.
I'm not sure why God has called me to this blogging adventure, but I WILL heed His voice. I pray that His purposes are fulfilled. I pray He takes my words and makes them something that will encourage, inspire, make people think and bring them a chuckle now and then. I will uphold my end of the bargain, coming to the computer, and trust Him to do the rest.