Where do the weeks go? I'm too young for life to be going by so fast.
(1) How do you determine how you'll spend your time? Does life dictate your actions or do your actions create your life? My life is a mixture of both. Some activities are done out of necessity, others purely for my own benefit and enjoyment. Are we really living life if our behavior is predominantly done out of obligation? Or is it honorable and noble to live that way?
(2) I've had a very rough week, hormonally speaking. That may be TMI, but I figure there's probably someone out there who needs to know they aren't alone. You aren't the only woman who is breaking out like a teenager, who wishes everyone would just be quiet already, and who wakes up every morning (I use the term "wake" loosely as sleeping is off and on) with a backache. Hang tough, girls.
What does God expect of us in these weeks when a gentle and quiet spirit is FAR from us? I know we don't get an out once a month. Press on, I guess. Do hormones explain why women are more likely to pursue a relationship with God and be involved in churches than men? Do they make us VERY aware of our need for Him?
(3) My husband and I were having a discussion about how many women have a warped view of themselves. They have trouble believing they are attractive regardless of what their husbands may tell them. (Before you point it out, I'm raising my hand. Guilty.) "Men don't even think about this stuff," I told him, "Why are women so preoccupied with it?" We didn't know our teenaged daughter was listening in until she passed through the room and said, "Satan is a butt hole."
(4) There's this 25 Random Things About Me thing going around Facebook among my friends lately. I wasn't going to do it (25 things is A LOT), but gave it a whirl last night. It's funny what we pick as interesting facts about us. I was helping my husband do his and he was mostly writing about things he has done, not quirky traits. Does how we define ourselves say something about us? Are we made up of what we've accomplished or our preferences in life? I don't how you'd describe the things I chose about myself and frankly my head is starting to hurt in this analysis.
(5) Tomorrow night everyone in our house has plans except my thirteen-year-old son and me. I told him we should go out to eat and catch a movie. He raised his eyebrows and smiled weakly. "I hope we don't see any of my friends so they don't think I'm a Mama's boy." Was that a no or a reluctant yes?
(6) My sister is a county supervisor in northeast Nebraska. Her county is unique in the fact that most of their land falls within traditional Indian reservation boundaries. Over a hundred years ago, the Indians sold their land to non-Indians and these people have been farming it now for generations. Because federal policy has gone back and forth so much, Indians claim they have jurisdiction over this land because it falls within the traditional (original) boundaries. They have authority from the EPA to tell farmers what pesticides they can and can't use. The county has to get the tribe's permission to fix any roads, even though the tribe is exempt from paying taxes and does not fund the repairs in any way. If county officials don't obtain permission the tribe assesses huge fines which the federal government allows. A tribal tax is required on gas and alcohol sales of non-Indian business owners which discourages patrons to trade and has put people out of business. The tribal police are even cross-deputized, meaning the state of Nebraska has given them authority to police ANYONE within the reservation. A non-Indian could be pulled over for any reason, arrested and taken to jail and have no representation or rights in the tribe. It would be like getting arrested in foreign country, except it would be unlikely for an ambassador from the United States to step in and try to help you.
And glimpses of the abuse of authority have been seen. A few years ago, tribal police pulled on to a family's private property and threatened a farmer, pinning him between their squad car and a piece of his equipment. The tribe does not answer to anyone and there were no repercussions for these actions.
It's a big mess and there is lots of conflict, yet few people know about it. Very little is written about it and few politicians will touch it. No one wants to be seen as a racist. It's a scary situation though. Tensions run high. And it's happening in little pockets all over the country. Apparently there is a tribe in Washington state that is trying to claim sovereignty over the air space. They want to tax people to fly through it.
There are no easy answers. Throughout history Native Americans were horribly mistreated. We have to own up to that and many of the policies of the federal government have tried to right the wrongs done. But now, it seems the rights of non-Indian citizens are threatened. How can a country protect the rights of ALL its citizens, especially when racial tensions run deep from generations of conflict and resentment? Complicated stuff.
(7) My husband and I saw a piece on Good Morning America about the great deals to be had in thrift stores these days. They were showing how a person could create a designer label wardrobe for next to nothing. It sounded great, but we were skeptical. It might be possible in New York City, but designer labels are a little harder to come by in the thrift stores of Nebraska.
There are my pea brain thoughts for this Friday. Be sure to take a look at Conversion Diary to see more Quick Takes.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It was about this time three years ago God told me to sign up for a writer's conference.
"But God," I said, "Why?" I felt the nudge to do some writing for years, but I was no where near ready to show it to anybody. And the conference itself wasn't cheap either. It seemed like a frivolous use of money without being specifically prepared for it.
But He was insistent. My husband encouraged me to do it. Too many similar comments came my way to dismiss them as coincidence. The idea wouldn't go away.
"Okay, Lord," I conceded, "This doesn't make sense, but I'll go." I knew my writing was not ready for publication. I wasn't sure why He was so adamant about me going. "God, I'm not sure how we'll pay for this, but I'll trust you to provide the necessary money. I don't see myself coming home with a book contract or suddenly breaking into publishing, but I'll go because you say so. Whatever happens, help me know it wasn't a waste of money. Help me come out of this weekend with the next step in this writing journey."
God was gracious in the weeks leading up to the conference. He provided a good friend to go along with me, making the trek out to Colorado and back much more enjoyable, giving me someone to discuss ideas with. He provided the money, how I'm still not sure, but it was there. He even orchestrated a stupid accident to help me prepare.
A few weeks before I was to go, I busted up my toe, requiring me to stay off it for a while and wear a boot and I seriously thought about backing out. The conference took place in Estes Park. I had to hoof it between buildings on the side of a mountain. Would that really work? But I remembered God did not stutter about me going to this conference, so I took it a day at a time. Having to prop my foot up for a week gave me an unexpected bonus. Hanging out on the couch with my laptop gave me time to prepare manuscripts and materials to take with me.
The whole time, in the months leading up to the trip I prayed, "Please, Lord, don't let it be a waste. Give me the next step."
I already knew there was a lot to learn and arriving at the conference confirmed it. One of the most advantageous things about going to a writer's conference is the individual meetings you are granted with writers, editors, and agents. You get to pick the brains of people in the business. Though I felt completely out of my league, people were kind and gracious to this rookie. They offered helpful suggestions and treated me like a professional. Throughout these meetings I started getting a consistent comment. "This looks like blog material. You should start a blog."
At the time I had no idea what a blog was. I went to a session about them and asked LOTS of questions. I came home and bought Blogging for Dummies (I'm not making this up. The book really exists!). I studied and experimented and a few weeks later took the plunge.
And I have been blessed. Through blogging I have met some neat people. I have honed my skills and learned greater discipline. I've learned to write whether I am inspired or not. I've learned to let go of perfection and get something out there. I've developed a thicker skin and determined to write what God has placed on my heart, whether people understand or not.
Most importantly, I learned when I am obedient to His voice, no matter how silly His directions may seem, He is faithful to answer my prayers. One step at a time, He'll lead the way.
Is God asking you to take a step of faith? What are you waiting for?
Step over to Shortybear's Place for more impressions of this quote.
Friday, January 23, 2009
It's Friday, people, my favorite day of the week. Time for more Quick Takes.
(1) It occurred to me the other day that I'm a passionate person. This may or may not be news, I don't know, but as I was bemoaning my mood swings, I realized I FEEL. I feel great loss, real sadness and get down easily, but I also know excitement, joy, and tremendous gratefulness. Though sometimes the low times are tough, I'm glad for this ability to embrace the little things in life with gusto and really let them soak into me. It may make me a wacko sometimes, but all in all it's worth it.
(2) Earlier this week I looked in the mirror and kind of liked what I saw. I thought I looked good (Progress?). Calm. Younger. Rested even. It was enough of a change to make me wonder what made the difference. It wasn't that I'd been eating better. I spent the entire weekend eating and eating and eating for my birthday. I did exercise more last week (to counteract the stuffing of my face, you know), but it didn't seem like a significant change. My sleeping patterns were as erratic as ever. What was left to attribute it to? It had been a wonderful weekend. I was very happy. My husband, my kids, my friends made me feel so loved. Is that what showed? Is our beauty enhanced by the knowledge we are loved?
God also gave me an answer to a question I've been asking Him for a few weeks. It relieved me of a burden I placed upon myself and gave me the focus I've been looking for. Does being confident of God's plan bring out our inner shine? Do we, like Moses, show the glory of the Lord when He reveals Himself to us?
Whatever it was, I wish I could capture it and hang on to it for more than a day or so. Or better yet, bottle it up and make a fortune.
(3) Do you think God can take the "secular" and use it to teach us lessons? Can something as evil as a television show teach us truth? I think so. I've been watching True Beauty, a reality show where contestants believe they are vying for the title of most beautiful person. What they don't know is they are secretly being observed for their behavior in order to determine if they are beautiful on the inside too. I have to say I've been convicted more than once of stupid things I do without thinking that are insensitive and selfish. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't make it past week two.
(4) Yesterday my fifteen-year-old called around 4:PM to ask if she could have a few friends over after school. They had to be back at school for the rest of the evening by 5:30. Often when this happens, kids will go through a drive-thru and congregate at someone's house to eat together. Since they had done that already this week I offered to make spaghetti for them.
"How many will be coming?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe six or seven."
By the time I got home from running errands, four kids were already there, none of which belonged to me. No bother. They're good kids I trust. I'm glad they feel welcome enough to come on in. Then they just kept coming and coming. At 4:30 there were twelve kids in the house who needed to eat in the next 30-40 minutes. I made a quick call to Superman to bring reinforcements--more noodles, more sauce, more bread, pronto, and we pulled it off. The kids were very appreciative and it was a fun time.
Though it can be a real whirlwind and always puts a kink in my plans for the day, these spontaneous events are important. It gives me a chance to get to know my kids' friends and helps me see why they like spending time with them. I learn they can be trusted. Plus, I get to be Wonder Woman for about an hour. As we say at our house, "It's all good."
(5) Did you watch the Inauguration? What a proud day for our country. President Obama highlighted the remarkable progress well in his Inaugural Address.
"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.So let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled."
Indeed. What hope.
(6) My husband and I had a lunch date with our ten-year-old yesterday. At one point she just sat in the booth and smiled at us, looking as if she was about to erupt in either laughter or tears.
"What?" I asked.
"Nothing," she said, but she couldn't stop herself from smiling.
She never told us what she was thinking. Sometimes this girl is so full of joy she looks like she could burst. How I wish I could catch it from her.
(7) This daughter also has a sense of humor.
Yesterday morning I told her, "I'm going to take a shower. I have no idea what I'll put on when I get out, but I'm going in."
She giggled and said, "Well, good luck then."
And there you have it, a peek into my week. Wander over to Conversion Diary to see what's on the minds of others.
Have a great weekend, friends.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
As we backed out of the parking stall at the doctor's office, a woman stumbled to her car. She walked so awkwardly, she couldn't be missed. Our eyes followed her to where she fell into the driver's seat and let her head rest on the steering wheel without even shutting her door.
"What in the world?" my daughter muttered.
I wondered the same thing, but pushed aside the thought that said I should make sure she was okay. I was in a hurry after all. I had less than two hours before people were coming to my house for Bible study. I had errands to run, dinner to make and clean up, and who knew what my house looked like since I left six kids tearing around in it while I took this one to the doctor. Besides, this woman just came out of the office herself. She's in the best place if she has a problem.
I stuffed the guilt and moved on.
I know. Don't say it. I had the same argument in my little head.
It didn't take long for the guilt to resurface a few hours later in Bible study. When someone mentioned (wait, could it have really been me?) how little actions make big statements, guess who wanted to slink under her chair? I privately beat myself up about it. How much time would it have taken, really?
As I sat there, feeling heavy and so disappointed in myself, God showed me I had a choice to make. I could continue berating myself, feeling like a horrible person, wallowing in regret, or I could learn from my mistake. If I let myself fall into the familiar guilt pit, would that blind me from other needs? Would it keep me focused on me instead of looking outward? I decided to ask for God's forgiveness, accept it, forgive myself and remember. I cemented in my mind a picture of the woman's head on her steering wheel and prayed I would do better next time.
My next time came sooner than expected. Twelve hours later, I saw an acquaintance I know has been struggling. It would have been easy to pretend I didn't see him. It was a big room. I knew he probably wouldn't stop me. I could have slipped by him without any effort. I needed to pick up my daughter and didn't have a lot of time. I didn't know what to say or how to approach him, but the nudge was there to do it. And I remembered. Real love makes an effort and trusts God for the outcome.
I took a deep breath and wandered his way. Though it felt uncomfortable at first, he was nice. I asked a few questions and before I knew how it happened, he was talking of his pain, telling me more than I ever thought he'd feel comfortable sharing. I had no fancy words, nothing to soothe him, only a sympathetic ear and a pat on the shoulder. Though it didn't seem like much, I hope he felt loved.
I was late picking up my daughter, but wasn't bothered by it. She'll get over it too. The important thing is that God's still working. He's teaching me each day, each encounter is a practice run for heaven. Some days we're on, others we're way off. No matter how we perform, we're getting stronger if we allow Him to keep putting us through the drills. Even though yesterday's "practice" was a total disaster, it helped me for today's which went much better.
May we never forget the pain in messing up. May we learn from our mistakes. May God give us the courage to love others well.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Friday, January 16, 2009
It's Friday and that means more Quick Takes.
(1) When I think back to my childhood, I remember spending a lot of time watching people. At get togethers with family or friends I recall sitting quietly, paying close attention to conversations, wondering how it felt to be all grown up. At school dances I would look for clues to the whole dating ritual to see where I was missing something. I realized this week my wallflower days had a purpose. Because I was a shy girl who sat back and soaked in her environment, I learned how people relate to each other. I learned how to read body language and hear what isn't said. It gave me understanding into the intricacies of human emotion. It taught me how to listen. So even though I felt boring then, I see the value in it now. Truly God works all things together for good.
(2) I live in an insulated little world. I don't struggle with interpersonal relationships in my workplace (unless you count the daily family squabbles). For the most part, the people I spend my time with think like I do. My daily schedule is not dictated by a boss (That's right. I said it. My husband is not bossy). What would I be if I was placed in a different town, job or church? Would I be quiet? Would I slink back? Would I have the same confidence? Would I feel free to be who I am? Do you agree our environments play a part in making us who we are?
(3) I had a mini crisis this week pondering this question--What if God doesn't find my sacrifice acceptable? What if, despite my best efforts, He decides not to use my gifts? I know many of you will say, "But if you're seeking God, He will use you. He will honor your efforts to glorify Him." I'd like to believe that, but I'm not so sure. Read this passage from Romans 9:16-18:
It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
And verse 21:
Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?
It scares me to think He may not choose me. I want to be His girl, His messenger, His mouthpiece, but what if He says, "That is not my plan for you." I suppose true love says as Mary, "May it be to me as you have said."
Thy will be done, Lord.
(4) Quincy Jones has started a petition to add a cabinet position in the White House, the Secretary of the Arts. It's an interesting idea that excites me and scares me at the same time. I like the idea of the arts being elevated and important enough to warrant a cabinet appointment, but what would such a position regulate? Listen to a blurb about it from NPR Friday morning.
(5) One of my priceless gifts from God is friends who understand me, people who believe in me. I am so grateful God has given me some fantastic individuals who "get" my heart. Their unselfishness in encouraging me to be who I am is both humbling and life-giving. Thank you, my dear friends. You have no idea how you sustain me. Wow. You are HUGE to me.
(6) Have you noticed churches are talking about sex more? Back in November, Ed Young of the huge Fellowship Church in Texas, issued a challenge to the married couples in his congregation to have sex seven days in a row. In February, Relevant Church in Florida issued a 30-day sex challenge. What do you think of this emphasis on sex within the church? Are churches succumbing to the same tactics as the world to attract people to them? I don't think so. Personally, I am glad to see churches tackling this issue. It's time Christian couples understood the power of sex in marriage. It can make or break a union and carries far more implications for the relationship than physical enjoyment. It is too important NOT to mention.
(7) I'm looking forward to a fun weekend. It's my birthday tomorrow and my husband always makes it a weekend affair. We're having dinner tonight with our kids. Tomorrow he says I'm booked from noon on--how, I don't know. Sunday we're having dinner with our parents. I already feel fatter. But it will be loads of fun.
I hope your weekend is enjoyable too. Check in with Jennifer to read more Quick Takes.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Her question slapped me in the face. I'm a dreamer, imagining great things for life, hoping for the impossible, believing God can do miracles. But one day as I was dreaming out loud, a friend said it.
What if this is all there is?
The question haunts me years later. When goals seem hard to reach, when life feels mundane, when I wonder what on earth God's doing.
What if this is all there is?
Am I dwelling on fantasy? Does my preoccupation with what could be drown out what is? What if my hopes never materialize? Can I still be happy? Can I trust God with ANY outcome? Is THIS so terrible? I have a very good life, full of quality relationships. What is it in me that desires more?
If this is all there is, I need to be happy with it. I need to make the best of it and run with it and do it well. I need to be content.
What do you think?
What if this is all there is?
Monday, January 12, 2009
She knew what was happening. Every time she did this, she knew where to place the blame.
And yet, she felt helpless. She prayed and dozed off, only to have a random noise wake her and start the cycle again. She whispered Jesus' name in the dark. She interceded for everyone she knew. She meditated on Bible verses. She tried not letting her mind wander.
The thoughts keeping her awake remained. Her heart continued its increased pace.
The Bible says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
She wondered. How do you push back a feeling? How do you put aside anxiety? How do you eliminate worry? How do you resist restlessness?
She wanted God to swoop in and rescue her and sometimes He did, but not always. Often He let her work through it for a while on her own. She understood there would be more nights like this ahead. She would struggle again. Why?
She is learning to endure. It is essential for her growth. It will take practice. It is not fun, not by any means, but it is of great value and necessary. Enduring cultivates humility, strength, grace.
When she can't see past the problem, when comfort is elusive, when answers aren't forthcoming, the only thing left is trust.
Morning will come. She will be fine. She will learn. Eventually.
And she'll be better for it.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:8-11
Friday, January 09, 2009
This Friday's Quick Takes post are phrases I heard this week which gave me pause, words which touched me and took root.
(1) "Giving thanks, eucharisteo, gives us that: communion."
(Thanks, Ann. You always know how to phrase it.) Have I felt distant from God because I haven't been thankful? It's a tough question to ask yourself.
(2) "Don't give up on God."
Just when I was tired of pressing on, thinking it gets me no where, my Bible study buddies, not knowing where my mind was camped, spoke of God's mercy in their lives, His perfect plans which took time, but become more precious as a result. "Don't give up on God." Indeed.
(3) "You need to change something. What you're doing is not working."
I said this to my daughter regarding a problem she was having, only to wonder later if I need to apply it to my own life. Talk about a log!
(4) "Use your umbrella."
We had to make a decision concerning one of our kids and it was stressing me out. It wasn't anything monumental or of huge consequence, but a mother always wants the best for her kids and I couldn't decide what was best. As I lay awake another night stewing about it, God told me, "You have a husband. I have set husbands up to be umbrellas of protection for their families. Use your umbrella, Tami. Let him help you make the decision. Trust his judgment." While I agonize over some things, my husband can end the matter and move on. So I asked him to. Problem over. If I had relied on him sooner and been willing to accept his solution, I could have saved myself some grief (and gotten WAY more sleep!).
(5) "That was a sacrifice of obedience and it has to be enough."
Something I'd done didn't turn out how I'd hoped and my dear friend reminded me my effort was not lost. Do you think God honors our "yes", even when the result doesn't seem fruitful to us?
(6) "Satan is robbing my joy."
I can see it. My head knows it. I can say it out loud, so why do I fall victim to it? Why does he bother with me? What threat am I? James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee. The best way to resist him is refusing to believe his lies. Utter the name of Jesus. Focus on God's Truth. Still he trips me up. I must need the practice in denying him such power.
(7) "Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a god of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!"--Isaiah 30:18
Another dear friend reminded me of this verse. It blew a slight breeze into my droopy sail. Blessed are all who wait for Him. Waiting is active and expectant. Waiting hopes for more and trusts in whatever happens. Blessed are all who wait--expect, hope and trust--for Him.
What better way to end a post than with a word of Truth? Have a great weekend, my friends and be sure to visit Jennifer at Conversion Diary to read more Quick Takes.
Monday, January 05, 2009
She was a bonus in our box of hot chocolate packets, a plastic ornament we could hang on our Christmas tree. She was three inches tall, flat enough to fit through a mail slot and Scandinavian, I believe. We called her Miss Swiss in honor of her "birthplace". She didn't match anything on our tree, so I set her aside with a pile of mail and forgot about her.
But one day I opened my briefcase at work and there she was. I giggled, knowing exactly how she got there and the game was on. The next day, my husband found her in his lunch. He stuck her in my pillowcase. I perched her on his steering wheel. You never knew when Miss Swiss would show up. The suspense built as each hiding place became more and more imaginative, sometimes taking a few days to discover. The game became a battle of creativity and soon much thought had to be put into Miss Swiss' next destination.
One day while folding the laundry, true genius hit me. You know the little flap in the front of men's underwear? Uh huh. She fit perfectly, completely hidden within it. I folded the brief neatly and stuck it on top in his drawer.
The next morning I could hardly contain myself. He got up, took his shower and started shaving with no comment. Had he not found her? How could he not find her? Did he take the wrong pair? I rushed to the bedroom to inspect his drawer, but about the same time, he sauntered into the bedroom tugging on his shorts.
"There's something weird about these underwear." I laughed so hard I couldn't explain the joke. He didn't understand what was so funny until I extracted her for him. In his true, good sport fashion, he joined in the hilarity and we had a really good laugh before heading out for our day.
I don't remember what happened to Miss Swiss after that. Maybe she needed some therapy! And honestly, do you really want to stick the thing anywhere else after it's been in someone's underwear? Most likely she got hidden in a spot so good we never found her.
Take time to be silly with your mate. It takes the hum-drum out of everyday life and relieves the tension that goes along with living together. It's hard to stay mad at a guy who keeps you smiling.
Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a funny bone I need to tickle.
Check out more Marriage Monday posts at Chrysalis.
Friday, January 02, 2009
We're back at it in Jennifer's Quick Takes Friday. Check it out and join the fun.
(1) My mom officially retired December 31st. It's hard for me to believe she's of retirement age. She doesn't look it, doesn't act like it. When she talks about doing some senior citizen outings, it sounds weird. She's the woman who brings foreign students to our water park and shows them how to do somersaults under water or gets her groove on at a wedding dance. She's definitely no white haired lady in a red hat. She's proof to me of those adages that change as I get older--60 is the new 50 or 40 or whatever. Congratulations, Mom, and relish this time.
(2) My kids have actually enjoyed each other this holiday season. They've watched movies together, played games together, sat in the same room doing separate things together. It's very satisfying to see them hanging out like this. It makes me think they kind of like each other!
(3) Have you ever noticed there are some people you immediately "click" with and others you have a hard time getting to know? You may both be friendly and try really hard, but conversation is awkward. With others the words and humor flow easily. Some people are at ease, others on edge. Some tell you their life story, some make you painstakingly pull it out of them. Why the difference? I suppose it has to do with personality variations, but I wish I could put my finger on how to relate to people in such a way that makes the getting-to-know-you process easier.
(4) How well do we know people, really? I find myself wondering what a friend may think about while they clean their kitchen or what keeps them awake at night. How do they like their eggs or what's their favorite way to spend a Saturday morning? What childhood memory haunts them or where do they get their motivation to get up in the morning? I have great relationships, but I'm not sure I could answer questions like these concerning them. Maybe the beauty of friendship is taking the time to find out.
(5) Have you noticed how some family stories never die? My poor brothers, who are now 34!, always get the business about their childhood obsession with a remote control truck they wanted for Christmas. Nearly every year someone will chant "Lobo Trucks and Lobo Bags", never letting them forget. Why do some things stick like that?
My kids have a new one on me. We took a trip tubing down the Niobrara River this summer and in the middle of the isolated Nebraska landscape I said, "Welcome to No Man's Land." They burst into laughter and have never let up, often saying it at the weirdest times, sure to bring a chuckle to each other. I don't get it. What's the joke? Oh well, if they're picking on me, they won't turn on each other.
(6) We have one more family Christmas tomorrow before we can officially close Christmas 2008. This celebration is with my extended family on my dad's side--aunts, uncles and cousins, most of which I grew up with. I think it's a pretty unusual thing. We still get together twice a year. My kids know my cousin's kids and some of them actually go to school together too. In this day of transient families, it's a gift I don't take for granted.
(7) My favorite moment of this holiday season involved a night I couldn't sleep (imagine that?). I got up at 3:AM and plugged in the Christmas lights on the tree. I sat on the couch and considered how the Father felt the day Jesus was born. The angels were praising God, but was He happy? Could He really be joyful, knowing what was ahead for His Son? Would He celebrate the beginning of the clock ticking down to the horrible day He had to forsake Christ on the cross and look away? It made me feel sad about Christmas, sad for what God gave up, and incredulous at His great love for humans. Who are we? How can we ever repay such sacrifice?
I didn't mean to go all serious on you there, but those thoughts have taken residence in my head this December. It's difficult to comprehend such love. I pray He continues to give me understanding and enables me to live up to His calling. We are so blessed.
Happy New Year, my friends. May God draw us near this year and bring us fresh insight into Himself.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
We've enjoyed a nice break through the holidays. We've stayed plenty busy, visiting with friends and family, having the kids' friends over, celebrating my mom's retirement, getting my daughter ready for her first big dance.
The change in schedule has brought a little reprieve from the daily grind. Our brief hiatus from the normal routine has made me think less about the stresses that go with it.
Until this morning.
I woke up worried about money and my son finding a job and how in the world I'll accomplish everything I want to.
It solidified my theme word for this year--FOCUS. Only six hours into the new year and already Satan's tried to distract me. Oh brother. 2009 could be tough.
Lucky for me, God doesn't leave me hanging. He reminded me this morning He's got it handled.
Be still and know that I am God...
I try, but sometimes I lose sight and feel like He's not answered the prayers, that He's letting us flounder along.
I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
God has been good to me, very good. I can let Satan rob my joy or I can persevere in hope, believing God will take care of my family.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
We can do this, friends. We can press on in confidence.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Happy New Year!