Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Once Was Lost

     When I was younger I battled a recurring dream.  It would be the beginning of the school year when everything was new and unfamiliar.  I would be going along and suddenly get this feeling after some time had passed that something was wrong.  Suddenly I found myself very confused about my schedule of classes and was baffled as to what class came next.  Then I would realize with horrifying dread that I had not been to a math class in weeks.  I had just completely forgotten to go.  I would agonize over whether or not to show up after all of this time.  If I did decide to go back, where was it anyway?  If I didn’t go back would anyone notice?  Would I fail the class?  I would wake up completely stressed out and confused.

      I never had any of that happen in real life, but I always wondered why that dream would plague me.  I began to notice a pattern.  I was a control freak.  When I felt like my life was out of control or disorganized, guess what dream I would have?  This morning I was talking to some friends about the need to finish my planning for this school year.  I told them that I’d better get my act together so I didn’t have one of my school nightmares.  It dawned on me after saying that, that it has been a really long time since I have had one. 
     I won’t say that there aren’t times where I forget who is really in control.  But I do think that I have grown some in this area and that trust more and more that things will be alright.  I just do my job to the best of my ability.  I pray about it and ask God to help me in all areas of my children’s schooling, then I have to let go.  I suppose when it comes to my life and how organized I am, a good gauge of my trust in God is to pay attention and see if my old school dream comes back.  It is probably a good message for me when I don’t have my life as together as it could be.  I was in fear of being lost in that dream.  I know that I don’t have to fear that anymore.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you. 

Ps. 139:9-12
My peace and comfort lies in these words today.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Unconditional Love

Loneliness can overtake thoughts even when you are connected.  Even sharing the same air and sunshine, time and space, you can still feel isolated and lost.  Love can reach beyond the hopelessness and nurture and share.  When two are one, joy can beat from one heart to the other.  When one has much to give, they should sacrifice when the other is lacking.

Isn't that what love is all about?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Kind Word = Beautiful Home

     The vibes around our home are all wrong.  One snapping, then the other, it seems no one can do a thing right.  I shake my head in wonder.  Why are they acting this way?  I can’t understand it, they were so happy yesterday when my day was going well and I woke up happy.  Then it hit me.  I didn’t wake up so happy today.  I woke up snapping and impatient.  My first words were criticism and discontent at what I found when I walked into the kitchen and a mess looked me in the eye and seemingly said, “Good morning, so glad you joined me.”
     I thought about all of the parenting books I’ve read and what my common sense tells me.  Of course, their mood will feed off of mine.  Aren’t we the same way as adults?  Our moods also feed off of others; seems we are on an endless chain of emotional roller coasters.  Does it have to be that way?  Of course not!  So how do I break this cycle?  Time to dive into God’s word again and find out what advice my Father has for me today.

     I read the most wonderful Proverb today in my Message version. 

Congenial conversation—what a pleasure!  The right word at the right time – beautiful! 

     I read many other verses about attitude and getting along with people and they all helped me very much.  But this one, really spoke to me.  It said to me, “The right word at the right time can make life beautiful.”  It can change everything from being ugly to being a sight to behold.  I have the power with a single word to change the entire atmosphere in this home.  I have to stop, sometimes count to ten, pray for sure, and say the right words.  I’m pretty good with words when I want to be so I can do this.

     If I ever think I can’t I must remember Moses. 

But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”

     My attitude has to be one of willingness.  I need to be the peacemaker.  If I want peace in my home I can’t wait for everyone else to act like I want them to before I will be at peace.  No, I have to do my part even if no one else is doing theirs.  I could have paid better attention to the timing of my words, like the verse says.  The mess could have been addressed in a kind manner after a “good morning”, in other words.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Wonder if I'm Alone...

My love for you, Lord, called me to raise my hands and close my eyes and listen to the voices harmoniously melting together, and just feel.  Love is a difficult thing.  We must honor and respect all and be careful not to create waves.  The comfort of others should come before our own.  Feeling pulled in two directions and unsure what you would have me do.  I sing praises with my hands down and my eyes open, but inside it’s a different story.  You know that full well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

When Life Hands You Lemons....

Make the most out of a hot, lazy Saturday afternoon.  Work together, cooperate, and see the fruits of your labor.  Make some smiles on the faces of generous neighbors, not really stopping because they are thirsty, but because of you out there sweating, working and hoping....make some lemonade.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cherishing my Children

     They come into our lives with a bang!  We spend nine months planning and reading parenting books.  We decorate nurseries and listen to words of wisdom, and "think" we are ready.  After the shock is over and we have adjusted, we raise them up...

There are struggles and stages; phases and milestones and before we know it (so they tell me) they are gone.  They make a landing into their place in this world...

Only so many years to be with them every day.  Make the most of it...I tell myself.  The years breeze by and they are growing.  Growing up.....and landing.

I have cared for you since you were born. Yes, I carried you before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.” (Isaiah 46:3-4 NLT)

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. ~Frederick Douglass

Monday, August 15, 2011

Turning That Frown Upside Down

     "Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son." Romans 8:26-29 MSG

     She was disappointed this morning because her horse was out in the pasture when we got to the stables.  Looking forward to her Monday morning bath time with her muddy horse, only to chase her to no avail, left her pouting in the car on the way home.  I reminded her of the reasons she has to be thankful anyway.  I suggested that just maybe God knew that something bad might happen to her on her horse today and that was why it happened.  I taught her through some previous parables we already learned and a new one I just read today...

     Saturday night at church we played a game, "The Feet Game", for lack of a better name.  All of our children got under a long row of tables and parents took turns, blindfolded, trying to pick out the feet of their children.  You'd think this was easy, right?  Not so.  It was very hard.  We did several rounds of this game with hands and feet, switching between husbands, wives and children then we sat in a circle and discussed the outcome and our thoughts.  We spoke about knowing one another and knowing ourselves.  Sometimes we think we know each other really well, when maybe we really don't. That we should never be to quick to judge someone's intentions. And that God knows us better than we even know ourselves.   He knows what we are capable of even when we don't.  We should follow his lead and trust Him to take care of us and not be tossed to and fro by the ups and downs of life.

     A few years ago the kids and I read a story for school from a book called "In Grandma's Attic".  There was a story about a young pioneer girl who was really looking forward to the annual town picnic.  She counted down the days until the night before she came down with a terrible illness and couldn't go.  She was really looking forward playing by the river and had many adventurous feats planned for the day, as was usually the case, she being naturally fearless.  The day came and she was forced to stay home in bed.  It just so happened that all of her friends did go and play by the river and there had been a great deal of rain that season and it was high and roaring rapidly.  As they were making their way across, several of them fell in and would have been swept away if it had not been for their cautious ways and the fact that they stuck together and didn’t go out too far.  The moral at the end of the story was that if she had been well enough to go that she would have surely been swept away, because she was always going a step further than the other girls and that God must have had his hand in her being home safe and sound.
     Today I was reading my favorite blog, “A Holy Experience” by Ann Voskamp ( and she had this story that fit so well, especially since it even contained a horse. 
     How a white stallion had rode into the paddocks of an old man and all the villagers had congratulated him on such good fortune. And the old man had only offered this: “Is it a curse or a blessing? All we can see is a sliver. Who can see what will come next?”
     When the white horse ran off, the townsfolk were convinced the white stallion had been a curse. The old man lived surrendered and satisfied in the will of God alone: “I cannot see as He sees.”
     And when the horse returned with a dozen more horses, the townsfolk declared it a blessing, yet the old man said only, “It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”
     Then the man’s only son broke his leg when thrown from the white stallion. The town folk all bemoaned the bad fortune of that white stallion. And the old man had only offered, “We’ll see. We’ll see. It is as He wills and I give thanks for His will.”
     When a draft for a war took all the young men off to battle but the son with the broken leg, the villagers all proclaimed the good fortune of that white horse. And the old man said but this, “We see only a sliver of the sum. We cannot see how the bad might be good. God is sovereign and He is good and He sees and work all things together for good.”
     I’d like to think that I helped her.  She got quiet after this talk and didn’t really complain any more.  She either learned something or she wanted me to stop telling her stories.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

School and Really Learning

     The school year is upon us.  I have the day free today to prepare and plan.  My lofty goals for my children put down on paper.  High hopes and great expectations, September’s New Year’s resolutions once again are made.  This year I am dreaming it up somewhat differently.  Could it be that the goals I’m making will finally be met, because the expectations are suiting and befitting of our family?  I hope so, and I thank God for bringing some things to my attention.

     A friend in my homeschool co-op shared her success with a more relaxed approach to learning, and I’m not sure that I will fit into the exact mold of a “relaxed homeschooler”, but it did help me start seeing things with a new perspective.  This year my goal is to work on the areas that need the most work.  For too long I’ve wasted time crossing off "to do's" and checking boxes, only to see them struggle where they have always struggled.  No time to work on those, because I had to keep checking boxes.  This year we are free and we will check more important, much needed boxes.  In areas where there is strength, a little more freedom will be given and I’m thinking I just might see the enthusiasm that has been missing around here.
     I am letting go, releasing some of the control so that some real learning can take place.  When we allow God to step in and we acknowledge Him, we are promised that we will be heading in the right direction. 
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
     Big things will happen this year.  Even if the children aren’t feeling enthusiastic, I’m beginning to get a tinge of excitement of the prospect of a real turnaround.  I am trusting and believing that if God can move mountains then He can help me teach my daughter to spell better and for my son to find skills he doesn’t know exist yet. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I Trust You, Jesus

(Dedicated to my friend and sister in Christ, Christine who trusts in the Lord)

     Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”  Daniel 3:16-18
     Sometimes Christians believe that if you really believe hard enough you will receive whatever it is you are praying for God to give you.  Whether it be a new job, healing in a relationship, a new home, or even healing from an illness.  If you don’t receive these things you ask for, you must not be faithful enough.  There are verses to back this belief up,  “Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.  If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”  If we believe….if we have faith and not doubt….believe and have faith in what?  Our certainty of our needs or God’s choices.
     I’d like to think that all of those prayers for protection mean something as well.  I always include those words in my prayers and I believe and trust God to do just that:  protect me.  The things that I pray for may not be the best thing for me.  I read this Psalm:  “When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother.”  Are our prayers ever “unanswered”?  Or are we just not getting the answer we want?  It’s comforting to me to know that when God is silent, that is an answer too.  It could be “wait”.  It could be “no”.  He’s not ignoring me, He’s caring for me.  There are so many times I can look back in my life and see how things worked for my good and how if I had gotten what I’d been praying for, it would have been a disaster.  Proof that He takes care of me.
     Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had complete faith in God and spoke boldly to the king about what He could do for them.  I found it interesting that they told the king with complete certainty that God could deliver them from the fiery pit with little effort, they had no doubts about that.  But then they said, but “if” He doesn’t.  It’s God’s choice, not ours.  Everything that happens is according to His will and purpose and who are we to say how that should go about happening?  Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Let us trust, really trust…

Monday, August 8, 2011

Taking Out the Trash

     Yesterday I had a lot on my mind as I was gearing up to walk the trash receptacles out to the curb. I was feeling disconnected in my marriage. My daughter had been disobedient and dishonest the night before and I was going to have to dole out some heavy consequences. I began to fret and then remembered how just two weeks ago I was blissfully happy with so much to be thankful for and how now I felt so unhappy. I immediately thought of Satan and how he loves to watch God’s children wallow in self pity and worry. This got my stubborn bone working and made me decide that he would not get a foothold on my joy. So I began to pray and I prayed the whole time I was taking the trash to the curb. Then I continued to pray while taking the recycling there also. When this was finished, I went in with a wonderful thought that God had given me.
    Why can't I take my spiritual "trash" to God's curb and leave it and forget about it just like that trash? Once I wheel that garbage out there I never give it another thought. It's gone. No worrying about where it will go. I never try to tell Waste Management how to dispose of it or try to take it to the dump myself. No, I just wheel it out there and it's gone, handled, dealt with. I have so much confidence in the sanitation workers to do their job.


    So often, I wait much too long to give my problems to God. I walk around stressed and confused, on edge and irritable, sometimes taking out my frustrations on the ones I love the most. I talk to a friend about them, and hope she has some words of wisdom to meet my needs. I cry and moan and complain, and finally in desperation turn to God for help. That’s like carrying around a huge bag of trash thrown over my back for days, sometimes weeks, and still trying to go about my everyday activities. The physical burden of that is too much to imagine. So too, is the spiritual burden of holding onto things and not letting God be in control. He is anyway, so I might as well acknowledge my faith in Him.
    Other times I tell myself I have given my problem to God, only to realize after many days of telling a friend I had done so, the reason I was talking to them about it in the first place is to complain about the very thing I had claimed to have peace about. If I truly give Him something then why am I still giving it so much attention? Shouldn’t I have moved on to serving, loving and ministering for His kingdom? How can I really do that while spending so much time discussing me and my troubles? I can’t. When I think about this it deeply hurts me for God. How painful it must be for Him to watch us doubt His provision and care for us as our Father. As a parent, it would hurt me greatly if I thought my children didn’t trust me to take care of them.
     I want my prayer life to be strong. I don't want to hang on to anything once I have "given" it to God. I want to know in my heart, without any doubts, that it is done. That whatever is going on is going to work out just the way it is supposed to, according to His awesome plan for my life. I want to remember to take that trash right to God and not hang onto it all day. Can you imagine walking around all day with a banana peel? You wouldn't: once you're finished with that banana, you throw the peel away and forget about it. You aren't going to carry it around all day and let it fester and smell up your life, and once you’ve throw it away, you sure aren’t going to go back and pick it back up later.
     That's the way it should be with our spiritual trash as well. Give it to God, and trust Him to clean up the mess.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV

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. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Proverbs 3:5-7 (The Message)

This article was published in the August Edition of Gospel Tidings Magazine: Femininsights. See their website at for ordering information.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Boy at Work

  I peeked through the window and what did I see? 

A mini-man, full of concentration, working with the hands, God's gift.  The heat didn't seem to matter, he was on a mission and had an idea and a purpose.  A man in the making.

"What are you making?" I asked.  No time for words.  He picked it up and brought it to eye level and demonstrated how it worked.  Complete with sound effects.

Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.  Ecclesiastes 9:10 NLT

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom,
     I never thought about this much until recently, but I must have been quite a pain sometimes.  There were probably times where we were going to go somewhere exciting or get something new and you didn’t even want to tell me about it.  One little slip of the tongue about our exciting adventure and you would hear about it every hour on the hour until it actually happened.  And heaven forbid if the plans fell though and things changed.  Oh, bless your heart.
     I can remember one time when we went downtown with Deborah and Tricia.  There wasn’t much down there back then, but it was fun just the same.  We walked around window shopping, you and Deborah talking and Tricia and I happily skipping down the sidewalk.  We entered a jewelry store and little girls with starry eyes saw some cute little rings with birthstones in them.  “Can I have one, Mom, pleeaaasseee?  Can I, huh, can I, huh?”  You gave in with a loud and exasperated, “O.K., but that’s it.  Don’t ask for anything else today!”  I loved that ring the rest of the day.  I felt so grown up with my jewelry.

     You would sometimes make the mistake of telling me that we “might” go somewhere with some friends later in the week.  I must have driven you crazy asking how many days, minutes, and seconds left until we went.  There were times that things didn’t work out and I can imagine your dread when you had to tell me.  You probably had to explain the why we couldn’t and the when we might go, over and over again.  I had no mercy.
     I do now!  You’ll be happy to know that I got one just like me.  It makes me not want to tell him anything.  I told him just today that I wished he would learn to be more patient.  Then I started thinking about me at his age and immediately felt pity for you.  How can I expect him to be patient when it’s taken me almost 40 years to learn the little that I have been taught, through life itself?  All I can do is be patient when he drives me crazy being impatient, right?  What irony!
     Thanks for putting up with years of teaching me that you can’t always get what you want.  It is very much appreciated.  Would you like to come over and do it again?