Monday, October 3, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

This morning I was watching cartoons with my favorite 4 year old. It has become a morning ritual that I cherish and savor. He wakes up, comes to the couch and says "Mommy, can we cuddle and watch cartoons?" This is my last year to enjoy these special moments since he starts kindergarten in the fall. For that reason my answer is always "Yes!" There is so much to be learned and so much to be taught if we keep our eyes and ears open and look for learning opportunities. This morning I heard a cartoon character say "They can't hear me over the sound of their own voices." WOW! It hit me like a ton of bricks. It was as though Jesus himself was speaking those very words to my soul as an answer to a series of repetitive questions. Why Lord? Why don't they follow you? Why are marriages falling apart? Why are your children living in disobedience? Why? And the whys continue...And the answer..."They can't hear me over the sound of their own voices." The answer makes me sit in silence as I digest what might very well be our demise. Our own voices. Not only the words spoken aloud, but the words that run through our minds. We talk and even when we aren't talking we are!! When was the last time you found a place of silence and solitude for your soul? When do we listen? We spend so much time entertained by music, movies, television, ipods, ipads, facebook, texts, facetime, skype and anything else that can fill the silence with word and thought. And yet "We can't hear Him over the sound of our own voices." Yes, we read His letter of love to us, but has it become Caleb's definition of reading, "Just looking at words on a page." His word is living and active. It is alive and meets us at our point of need, but we must first be silent. We must listen for His voice. For His voice to be found ours must be silent. Are you seeking an answer from your Savior? Are their questions and concerns that plaque your soul? Do you cry out and wonder if your voice is being heard? Silence! He speaks..."Be still and know that I am God."

Friday, September 2, 2011

"Overwhelmingly Grateful"

I am normally a woman of many words as you may know by now but tonight I will keep it short and simple. Today there are many words that ALL define the attitude of my heart. I was blessed today with some much needed one on one conversation with my husband and we were both overwhelmed with the same gratefulness of heart. It is a message of thanksgiving that the Lord has been inscribing on both of our hearts this week... OUR CHILDREN! They are boys. They are human. They are young and they are A BLESSING! We were also overwhelmed with the understanding today that they are HIS. We can take no credit for who they are or who they are becoming. It is ALL for Him and for His glory. I boast about my children only in the Name of Jesus and boasting about what He has done in their lives. Children are a blessing. Teach them to love Jesus. Train them in righteousness. Love them unconditionally. Discipline them according to the standard of God's Word. Encourage them. Spend time with them. BE THANKFUL FOR THEM. Words on my heart today....THANKFUL, HUMBLED, AWED, PROUD, BLESSED, GRATEFUL, CHANGED, CHALLENGED, OVERWHELMED (in a good way), ENCOURAGED, APPRECIATIVE, CONTENT, HONORED, REWARDED, PLEASED, IMPRESSED, LOVED, CHERISHED, ENTERTAINED.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Understanding The Cries of My Heart"

I have always thought that I understood prayer. I talk to Jesus all day, every day. He is my friend, my Savior, my confidant. I don't change my voice when I pray. I don't whisper. I don't flower the words with "Dear God" or other words that King James would find beautiful. I just talk to my Heavenly Father. I share my heart. I ask for His wisdom, His guidance and I listen. He speaks! Sometimes through His word, sometimes in those still small whispers and other times in louder voices that only my spirit can understand. I pray according to His word and according to His will, we pray the parts of scripture that bring peace and comfort? Have you ever asked God to allow you to walk through a trial? Have you ever asked Him to allow you to suffer or hurt? No, we don't pray for those things, we pray against them, but in His word He is clear that those things will come. BUT, HE IS ENOUGH! He is enough to carry us through whatever may come our way. I have recently discovered "my new favorite song" which asked the question "what if your blessings come through raindrops and what if your healing comes through tears? what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know you're near? what if the trials of this life are your blessings in disguise?" We equate sunny days with beauty and rainy days are dreariness, but could beauty exists without the rain? The world would wither and dry up. It was waste away without the rain. Have you ever experienced healing? Healing from a broken heart, a broken relationship, a devastating situation, a sickness? Healing often times involves tears. So many blessings have come as the result of a trial so in reality isn't the trial the blessing? Or phrased a different way...would the blessing have been possible without the trial? There were tears as our Savior hung on the cross and yet the ultimate healing was brought about through His death. I don't think their is anything wrong with praying for peace, health, comfort and blessings. God desires these things for our lives and His word is full of truth to back that up. His love is too great and too deep to give us everything we ask for. We are man with finite minds and yet we think we know what's best for us. He knows my needs. He knows the cry of my heart and He knows what it will take in my life to make me whole and complete and to give Him glory. Praising Him in the blessings and on the good days is easy, but it takes really knowing Him and depending on Him to trust and praise during the trials. Just one step further...the more we know Him and seek Him we understand the difference in praising Him during the trial and praising Him for the trial. These are the cries of my heart today...seeking to know and live the difference.
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It's not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching(s) of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
By: Laura Story

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Summers in the Country"

Though it was only 2 weeks at a time or maybe a weekend here and there so many of my memories revolve around the summers in the country. As soon as we pulled onto the road with dust and rocks I knew that we were almost there. It won't be long now. As we identified each relative, each neighbor and each place where uncle so and so use to live I knew it wouldn't be long. And then I could see it. The long ranch style cinder block home that would shape so many memories of my childhood. As we pulled into the drive there they were each time just the way I pictured they would be. Granddaddy would clap those hands from back to front ending in a pointing wave and a possible "hot dog" under his breath and Grandmother would bend at the waist patting the tops of her jeans as she awaited the embrace that she had been counting down for weeks. But she wasn't the only one who had been counting. The kisses and hugs were exchanged and all the luggage arranged in their regular places and then the tour. We had to see how much the place had changed or not at all. Walks through the greenhouses with the smell of fertilizer, potting soil and every plant imaginable, all the while being careful to watch for snakes taking a respite from the heat. These walks began the "piles of summer" of the things we would take home to provide life on our porches and decks and one summer helped a little girl in pigtails start a door to door plant sale from her wagon when she returned home. Next we checked the chickens always aware that we could get mites, but never did. There were laying hens where we gathered eggs and as we gathered we would begin to scout out supper.We had to pick just the right chicken. When the right one had been picked Grandmother would corner him, swing him around until his neck broke and flop him into a bath of hot water so we could "dress" him. However, I never understood this term as it always seemed we were undressing him instead. She was my hero. I was in awe. How did she know how to catch him, kill him, dress him and cook him? Eating him was my favorite part, but the cooking was actually Granddaddy's job. He was the chicken fryer. But that comes later. Cooking only commenced once the heat died down since their was no air in the house. Well, that's not true. There were two window units. One in the den that we were allowed to use after the sun fell behind the rat proof crib, which I always wondered if it really was. The air was on just long enough for the sweat that dripped down your back to dry. 100 + degrees in the deep south filled with humidity and unless we were there the big box in the window was never turned on. The second unit was in the dining room.
Each night before dinner, all the doors to the dining room would be closed allowing the room to cool off just enough for the nausea to subside so that we could all enjoy dinner. The table was long enough for the whole family, but the coveted seat was the one where the air blew so cold that your chicken was chilled before it reached your mouth. But you didn't mind because you knew the cold was only momentary and soon the air would be off and the meal that you had waited on for weeks would be over. Fried chicken made in the cast iron skillet, creamed corn seasoned with black pepper and stirred just so by Granddaddy's sun aged hands, zipper peas picked fresh that morning, biscuits patted out by Grandmother, made in the biscuit bowl and placed in circles on the cast iron biscuit pan, homemade jelly spread across each biscuit and a bowl full of homemade mashed potatoes which someone probably scratched up that morning from the potato patch.We lived off the land. Almost everything we needed was produced or grown their on the home front as were we and the generations before us. We knew it was bedtime when Wheel Of Fortune went off, even though it was still light outside. I was to use the bathroom with the red carpet. It smelled of Coast soap, Listerine, Ben-gay and Old Spice. As we bathed and slipped into the thinnest gowns or pj's we could find, we knew the sheets would stick to our skin by morning and we hoped and prayed that an escapee from the local prison would not come peaking in the open windows that produced a warm breeze which allowed slumber to be possible. In the event of an intruder we had mapped out a plan weeks before. The closets that connected the two rooms would be our hideout or so it was in the minds of me and my brother. Not only was this closet a cool hide out but made for a fun playhouse during the hours we felt like living in a make believe world. My head would rest near Grandmother's as I slept in the twin bed that made a 90 degree angle with hers. She would tell me stories from her childhood and my mind would take me to a place where lunches were carried in pails and little girls wore long dresses year round. Not sure if my imagination was true to the times, but in my mind Grandmother became friends with Laura Ingalls. I was full of questions and some answers proved to be misunderstandings...I asked about monsters in the house and Grandmother assured me there was some in the refrigerator and we could have it at lunch. Mustard was what she heard and the misunderstanding was quickly cleared up after the tears were silenced and I was safe in her arms. The mornings came too early, yet not quick enough. I would stumble from my bed knowing that the adults had me beat by hours. Still in my gown, I would slip on my rubber boots and trudge through the fields in search of the harvesters. Where did they say they would be? Butter beans or zipper peas. Maybe they were in the corn field today. As I approached the fields I would give the call...yoo hoo...and when I heard Grandmother yoo hoo back I knew that I was close. Buckets of peas and beans, barrels of tomatoes and cucumbers, carts of corn and okra, baskets of squash and peppers of all kinds. I knew what the rest of the day would hold. After scratching for a few potatoes myself and filling my fingernails with the richness of earth I would head to the house for that small cup of orange juice that was sipped as I sat upon Grandmother's lap. We would soon eat sausage and biscuits with a little "monsters" of course, maybe a fried egg or two and then the work began. Shelling peas on the porch where the boxed fans blew. Slicing and blanching squash. Pickling cucumbers. Cutting and freezing okra. Shucking corn and freezing some on its cob and some that had been cut off the cob into that big bucket by that knife that I still can picture vividly. I can smell the peas as they blanched. I smell the sweet smell of plums as they boil and get ready to be jelly. I can hear the bubbling, sloshing and clanking of the cans as tomatoes and soups were being sealed for winter. So much to do and so much reward to be reaped year round. I'm sure these were not all accomplished in the same day, just as I am sure I did not do much of the work, but as one memory wove into the next the memories became cohesive. The only time of the day that rest was acceptable was the noon hour as potted meat sandwiches and Pringles were made and quiet came over the home just in time for "Grandmother's Program." I'm sure Hope and Bo are as happy today as they were back then and though time seems to stand still for them, The Days Of Our Lives continued and we had only One Life To Live. We had work to do and only 2 weeks to continue making memories. Once all the cartons were stacked in the 5 freezers that stood tall in the utility room and all the jars were lined on the shelves in the dining room, we knew it was time for another walk. This time it began at the edge of the property. Before we ventured off the property we had to see if this would be the year we could make it up the tree. The tree that held the rope swing and slanted down the drive. The tree that generations before me had also tried to "run up", others had climb and others had played under making mud pies and pea soup from unidentified leaves in the yard. We would take turns running with all of our might just hoping that we could "run up" the tree. Never succeeding, but always trying and hoping. We would catch up to the others at the scuppernong vines or maybe they were muscadines. I never really knew the difference. I only knew that while others ate the inside and spit out the hull...I liked them whole. Once our tummies were full and we were assured that we would have a stomach ache, we would continue down the dirt road always aware and looking for snakes, but never finding one.
We would graze the blackberries along the way and finally make it to the pond. Would the water be high or low? Would we get to fish this trip or was there too much work to do? We always managed to find the time. We would use those worms from the freezer that grew on those trees. You know the ones I could never pronounce. Now I know they are catawba worms. I preferred those to the "stink bait" which did. I loved the pull of the line, the bouncing of the bobber, but not the cleaning. I learned that even though we skin and filet them it is NOT ok to poke their eyeballs out with a stick. This is considered inhumane. Every 9 year old should learn this lesson. The walk would continue and I re-lived where my Mother had been carried away by a spooked horse and how her dress was torn as they reached to grab her. Just steps away was the destination we set out for...the family cemetery. Cemeteries are suppose to be sad and yet I loved the visits. The answers to each question of who was she and how she died. Sweeping the leaved from each grave, but never allowed to walk on them or sit on the tombstones. All of these things were signs of disrespect. We would linger and see the mourning in her eyes as she carefully set the flowers back up on Mommer and Popper's graves. Arm in arm they would take the dirt road back and we would hop the fence and run through the field to see who would be home first. Sometimes before we journeyed home we would venture farther and go to the old home place. The foundation still remained and we could see where each room was and imagined how Grandmother was as a child and where she slept and ate. The memories are still so vivid. Once back at the home place we would occasionally rummage through the rat proof crib or walk into the barn to find Mama cat and her new litter.
Mama cat lived for years though each time we visited she was a different color. Now I realized that Mama was not her name, but was an adjective used describe her condition. There were always cats. Lots of cats. Some were tame. Some were scared. Some had tails and others we called tom. The kittens were friendly and had way too much hugging and loving and were forced by little hands to climb trees. Once a little black kitten found his way back home with us as she traveled tucked under my arm. We always seemed to bring lots of the country home with us. The ice chests were full and so was the trunk. Enough vegetables and jellies, pickles and plants to stock the freezers and shelves for the year. And each family member that made these same memories received the love in these tangible containers. Some evenings when all canning and freezing were done we would sit in the sewing room. It was an add on room and it was cool and comfortable. The quilting loom was suspended from the roof and each time a different design hung above our heads. When time would allow Grandmother would lower the loom and stitch and work and today all those she loved bundle up with the fruits of her labor always remembering the love that was stitched into each square. It was there I learned to thread a machine, to sew on a button, to make small pillows and learned the meaning of words like bobbin and seam ripper. She was a woman of many talents and she had strength, stamina and love. Her hair was my favorite. It hung so far past her waist that she would sit on it if it had not been twisted and wrapped and tucked up in such a neat bun. Jet black underneath, but gray on the top. Defining who she was. Still young and strong and able to accomplish any task yet old in age and experienced and over worked by life. There was no dishwasher, no central heat and air. She did things the hard way yet to her it was the only way.
Grandaddy worked just as hard and just as long. He could never sit still and I can hear the slamming of the screen door as he would come and go all day. Trips to the store with Granddaddy always proved interesting. Donuts and ice cream were always involved and cokes in glass bottles were a must. Enough to drink and line the dividing wall from kitchen to den. Never saying no to his grandchildren and shocking all the other adults in the amount of caffeine that we were allowed to consume. We learned that it is not ok for someone to "rob you without a gun" by charging high prices for pie. We learned that truck stops and diners have the best food and that it is ok to use your horn when angry or when saying hello to a friend. He drove like the road belonged to him and as we curved around the dirt road we prayed that the neighbors dogs would not come running. Granddaddy said he didn't mind hitting them, though he never did, but in our minds we begged them to stay under the porch so that Granddaddy would not yell at them and call them what "they were" or tell them "where to go." He always made sure we left with an envelope of money, enough to buy school clothes and he kept the desk drawer filled with Freshen-Up. You know the gum that squirts when you chew it. He was one of the best chefs I know and I try to replicate his culinary skills as best I can. He kept gas in the mini-bike and would let us ride through the field that were not planted. He solved each Wheel of Fortune puzzle on the edge of his seat and he had no problems going to bed when it was still light out since he would arise when it was dark. The prison through the woods never scared him. He was a guard there for many years and he knew exactly which shelf he needed to reach in order to protect his family from an intruder. My favorite adventures with Granddaddy were the guinea adventures. We would walk through the woods looking for guinea eggs. The secret to gathering was using a long tool for picking up eggs. If they ever got a scent of the humans the hunt would start again and though I didn't mind Granddaddy liked knowing right where they were. The memories are engraved deep and are not only memories but have become a legacy. They made me who I am. I try each year to dredge them up through sights and smells and sounds. The smell of the plums boiling as they prep for jelly, the clicking of the cans as I put up tomatoes and peppers, shelling, blanching and freezing peas, threading bobbins, the sound of the sewing machine and the smell of the needle's friction all take me back to my childhood. I leave the chickens to Tyson and the thermostat stays on 73. I am not as strong, as talented, nor do I have the stamina that they did, but LOVE. I have the love and I give it freely. A legacy of love. I wish my children could have the memories that I have, but they are mine and they will have their own...each one unique and each one associated with a smell or sound that one day will take them back to today. These memories may not be exactly how each visit was scripted, but this is how I remember it in the novel of my heart and I love to remember and relive it, especially in the summer. I miss my "summers in the country."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

"What Could I Possibly Do?"

Her body lay lifeless in the right hand lane just over the top of the hill. Cars tagged from Georgia, Indiana and Alabama all swerved to miss her. Dazed and wondering what we had stumbled upon our hearts began to cry out "Lord, what do you want us to do?" Pulling over and jumping from our means of transportation we all began to scramble. Some ran to the body, some stopped traffic, Matt ran to the closest road marker and called 911. I began to spout out firm, but loving instructions for my children to remain in the car no matter what. What now? Do I run, do I fall to my knees, do I approach this life wondering if breath and heart beat still exist? What could I possibly do? Pray! That is all I knew to do. I began to quickly walk down the median praying aloud, asking the Lord to spare lives, bring peace, offer wisdom and give comfort and then my gaze was fixed. I saw her on the side of the road, shaking, crying, scared and in shock. I knew where my heart was. I ran to her and wrapped my arms around her. All I could do was hold her and pray. She was traveling from home to a neighboring town to visit some friends. A road she had traveled many times before. It was familiar, it was comfortable and it would soon change her life forever. As she topped the hill there in her lane was a figure, a person, standing in the middle of the road. She jerked the wheel as hard as she could. That sudden reflex was all she could do and yet not enough. Though the instinctive reflex is possibly what saved this person's life, it forever changed the lives of all those present. Mirror gone, car dented and neither seemed important as hearts and lives were dented deeper than surface alone. As I held this new friend and prayed aloud I trusted that God would provide the words because nothing I could say or do would bring comfort. As I prayed I felt the trembling lessen and I began to hear other voices. Oblivious to sirens and screeching tires all I heard was a chorus of prayer being offered up. As I opened my eyes I realized there were others gathered around, hands out-stretched or touching and praying, pleading, asking God to intervene. Those medically trained came and attended to the lady who was suffering in the road. She was stable, she would be fine, she was quickly transported away from the scene. Questions remained...who was she? Where had she come from? Where was she going? Rumors surfaced as each police officer had his own thought and theory. She might be the lady who was missing from the nursing home? Did she have dementia? Was she mentally disturbed? Was she on drugs? Was alcohol involved? Was it an intentional act to try and leave this world? What did they mean by (questionable) items in her purse? So many unanswered questions and so much pain that accompanied them all. And then there was the driver, who had my heart and attention from the start. She was scared, she was shaken, she was worried. Her life had just been forever changed and there was nothing she could have done to prevent it. Through the sobs I heard her heart, "If she's ok, then I will be ok." "If I know she can breathe, then I can breathe again." There was no way I could walk away and leave her in the care of 5 officers exchanging theories and stories. She needed assurance. She needed comfort. She needed a friend. When spotting an accident I have always thought "What could I possibly do?" as I continued to drive thinking I had nothing to offer. But on this day I understood. I knew what I could do. There was only one thing I could do. Stop and pray. It reminded me of a parable. On the road from Jerusalem to Jericho there laid a man who was passed by. Were they just too busy, too important? Could they not be bothered? Some walked on the far side as far away as they could, why? "If I don't see it, then it doesn't exist." So many passed us by on 231 that day. Shaking their heads in disbelief, maybe some in sorrow, but never stopping to help, never caring enough to be bothered. Something else was more important. I have been that person. But, on this day I knew I had to stop. No, I'm not the Good Samaritan, but how often do we pass by those in need wondering "what could I possibly do?" I'm not qualified. I have nothing to offer. Someone else could do more than I could. How many people had to pass before the Good Samaritan stopped? Imagine if on that day, he just couldn't be bothered. Would the man have lived? Jesus instructs us to "go and do likewise." Go and have mercy on others. Help! Minister! When we realize that it is not about us, but about HIM it will change our possibilities. I have nothing to offer, but Christ in me does. Praying and interceding on the behalf of others is the greatest gift you can give. The 2 ladies that I asked the Lord to shower His peace, His mercy and His comfort over are both alive and well. There are still unanswered questions. There are still fears that must be conquered and healing that must take place, but only through the power of prayer. Maybe it is not the next car accident or a tragic scene, but we are to be His hands of mercy. Where can we serve? Where can we give? Who can we love because he first loved us and them? I was asked to step out of my comfort zone. I wish I had run full force and though my body moved, my heart was reserved until I saw her face. Nothing I did or could have done changed the day or the event, but is my prayer, that these women felt the love of God through the touch of a stranger.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"One Day"

"One Day" Does it really exist? Will it ever arrive? Has it already passed? Is this it? Recently Jacob asked me a question that has called me to reflect. "Mommy, is today one day?" Not sure what he was meaning, I asked. "Well, today is a day, but what do you mean by one day?" "Melissa (a sweet friend who has been living with our family while she waits on an answer from Lord about an upcoming ministry opportunity) said that one day this will not be her house anymore. Is today one day?" Understanding his heart of worry as he faced losing his favorite friend in the near future I said, "Well today is not "that" one day." "Oh mommy, I'm so happy. If today was one day I was going to be so sad." For Jacob "one day" is a day to dread. He does not want "one day" to get here in this situation. However, we are going on vacation "one day." That is the "one day" he is counting down. "Only 3 more sleeps until we go." "One Day" can be a good thing or a bad thing..."one day my prince will come." "One day Jesus will return to take us home." "One day we will get the results from these medical testings." "One Day" can stir such different emotions that you wonder if "one day" is to be dreaded or craved. I have made the claim before that some of my greatest lessons have been learned in "the wait." But what was I waiting on? "One Day." The day that answers are given be it from a friend, an employer, a family member, a doctor, a sporting event or an answer from our all knowing, loving God. I stand on the truth that the Lord teaches us so much during those times that he calls us to wait. He develops patience, perseverance and watches as we become mature and complete not lacking anything. I am however beginning to realize that "the wait" is not just an event or a space of time that occurs on occasion. All of our days and lives are spent in some form of "the wait." Personally our waits in recent months and even today have involved viles of blood, needles, x-ray machines, MRI's and doctor's offices where everybody knows our names. These can be very difficult waits that often times produce even harder answers, but we are called to learn and bask in the wait no matter what it is. We are to trust HIM. We are to take HIM at HIS word. He says He will never leave us or forsake us. He says He will not give us more than we can bare. He promises that His plan for us is good, pleasing and perfect. No matter the wait, no matter the situation, He is always the same and He is faithful. What are you waiting on today and what will you be waiting on tomorrow. We focus on the immediate waits and the answers that will make them realities, but what about the waits that could be molding and shaping us all day everyday. Waiting on the "one day" when the skies open and the whole earth is filled with His glory and He comes to call us home. Oh the waiting and preparation that could be partnered with the waiting of that day. We focus on the waits that effect us today, and yes our Savior is concerned about every detail of our lives, but don't all of these details add up and point to the purpose of our Savior's heart. As we wait and learn and wait and learn we are to be transformed and become like Him. It is all a part of our knowing Him and making Him known. Each day we wait, we wait for answers and we wait for "one day" to arrive. The waits we face about everything earthly are just preparing us for the day our wait is over. "One Day." That ONE DAY when Jesus will return and we will be made whole and complete. One Day!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

"Days Of Summer"

Lazy mornings, sleepy eyes, late night movies, night time ice cream runs, swimming in the dark, jumping on the trampoline in the rain, towels hanging from the deck railing, sticky floors, pool days, goggles and snorkels around every corner, fresh garden vegetables, the smell of tomato plants, homemade plum jelly, fresh blueberries for the pancakes, peach juice running down your arms, laundry, laundry and more laundry, laughter, togetherness, planning beach trips, midnight light saber fights on the trampoline, kick ball games until dark, lightning bugs in a jar, whoopie pies, flavored shaved ice, a messy house, late unplanned dinners, spontaneity, freedom from the calendar, savoring each day together, little boys hair turning blonde, tan lines on little gingerbread boys, good books and time to read them, catching frogs, killing snakes, eating blackberries from the ditch, slip n slides and sprinklers, candy bars at midnight, chocolate mustaches, no bed times, frozen fruit with seven up, beach pictures, bad haircuts, cannon balls, sunscreen, flip flops, boogie boards, boxed fans, The Beach Boys, play-dates, painted toenails, canned drinks, sunglasses, homemade ice cream, watermelon, sweat beads on your brow, humidity curling up your hair, sunflowers, scarecrows, shelling peas, shucking corn, zucchini fritters, fried green tomatoes, bike rides, bible school, new tennis shoes, birthday parties, fireworks, lemonade and memories to last a lifetime. ALL of these things are what I love about summer, but most of all I love that we get to do it all as a family. I love having my boys home with me each and every moment of the day. I miss them when they are in school. I count the days until they are all mine and I cherish these days because all too quickly they grow up, move on and make memories of their own. Cherish the times. Make the most of every moment. Live life to the fullest, counting your blessings and never taking them for-granted. "Thank you Jesus for this life you have given me."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"We ALL Need Jesus."

Caleb can be counted on daily to provide a laugh. He keeps the mood light and he keeps us on our toes. His new daily phrase is "They need Jesus." I'm pretty sure he arrived at this phrase due to the fact that every time he complained about a classmate, a teammate or any person doing something that crossed him we would reply, "Caleb, keep in mind they might not know Jesus and you need to be a testimony and a witness to them." So now the kid that beats him in soccer "needs Jesus." The muslim classmate that puts her fingers in her ears every time Caleb talks, "needs Jesus." The brother who speaks in less than kind words "needs Jesus." Everyone needs Jesus. Caleb sometimes says it very jokingly and other times very seriously, but he recognizes that everyone needs Jesus. It has become a "catch phrase" but it is a truth that resinates deep in all of our hearts. I NEED JESUS! I can't do it without Him. Jesus doesn't just make it better or even tolerable. Jesus makes this life possible. There are many days that I would not make it through without the assurance that Jesus loves me, He died for me and He was raised from the dead and now intercedes for me at the right hand of the Father. Jesus intercedes for me. Oh what comfort that brings to my soul. I will be honest with you, I have days when I struggle. I mean truly struggle. I struggle to trust. I struggle to remain joyful in all circumstances. I struggle to see God's hand of blessing all around me. I just struggle. On those days Caleb would say, "You need Jesus." The good news for me is that I have Jesus and He has me. But it is not enough for me to simply "have" Jesus. I want to know Him fully. I don't want some of Jesus...I want ALL of Jesus. I want all that He has for me and I want to live my life in complete and total dependency on Him. I struggle there too. So often the things which I lay at His feet, I quickly pick up again and try to carry and sort in the weary power of my flesh. It is in those times that I recognize even more that my total dependency must be on Jesus. That is where I am today. I am in the middle of a struggle of knowing that it must be placed at His feet, but battling carrying the burden on my own for fear of what I might be asked to walk through and for fear of giving up complete control. I"m having some pretty rough days right now and I need my Aarons and Hurs to come along side of my and encourage me to keep lifting my hands in praise as we are victorious in the fight. I know Jesus, but oh how I want to KNOW Him more and more and more. Every time I hear my precious Caleb say the words "he needs Jesus." I am reminded that we ALL need Jesus and we need more and more of Him. That ball is in our courts. We must desire that intimate relationship and we must seek it. When we seek Him...we find Him.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"It Ain't Fittin, It Just Ain't Fittin"

One of my all time favorite movies is "Gone With The Wind." I love the dresses, the horses, the bar-b-ques at Twelve Oaks and most of all I love Mammy. Mammy was Miss Scarlett's servant, but had her opinion been valued a little more I have a feeling the story would have ended differently. Mammy took issue with Miss Scarlet and her many beaus. Her exact words concerning Miss Scarlet's alluring dress and "heading out into the night air without her shawl"were "It Ain't Fittin, It Just Ain't Fittin."

I agree with Mammy. There are a lot of things these days that "just ain't fittin." I wish girls even considered wearing clothes as covering as what Miss Scarlett wore. Young girls fashion "ain't fittin." The words children use these days "ain't fittin." The movies and music that people of all ages listen to "just ain't fittin." Maybe I born in the wrong decade, but I shake my head like Mammy quite a bit.

It may not be revealing skin or causing others to stumble and it is definitely not an inappropriate movie, but I have always shaken my head and felt that little boys who wear cowboy boots with shorts "just ain't fittin." I mean where are their mommy's when they are getting dressed and do they have no sense of pride when it comes to their child's fashion. Why on earth would you let them out the door with what are apparent winter boots with summer shorts? Because some battles aren't worth fighting!!!

Maybe I am growing weary after 4, but I actually find this little guy with his shorts and boots pretty cute. "Fittin??" Maybe not, but yesterday afternoon on our way to the soccer field this was a battle I chose not to fight. He had on shoes and his feet were protected. Protection!! That is what I pray for my children. I pray that God will protect them from sin and harm. I pray he will protect them for lust, pornography and forward women. I pray that God would hem them in. I pray that His hedges of protection would be high and thick. I pray that He will go before them and come behind them. I pray that the Lord will guard their heart and their minds in Him. I have become more concerned about protecting their hearts and minds than what protects their feet. It may not be "fittin" but I have to pick my battles. The Lord has brought me to a place of weighing what is "fittin" and what is not by what is holy and what is not. What will make my children more like Christ and what will take away from their walk with Him? I choose my battles accordingly. According to this worlds standards, a lot of our decision are not "fittin." They are not popular and are often times not understood by others, but that's ok. It is a matter of stewardship and we are stewards for a time of these precious little boys. To live a life that is "fittin" and holy, we are going to be misunderstood. Jesus was, but he was "fittin." Do we seek to be "fittin" according to this world or are we "fittin" according to the standard of Christ? As we approach this Easter weekend and celebrate His resurrection, throw on your shorts and cowboy boots and seek His word to find what is "fittin" in His eyes. Let's seek to please Him and raise children who will do the same. When I stand before Him on that day of judgement I do not want to hear, "you weren't fittin, you just weren't fittin."

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Grace Perfectly Proportioned"

I was at my wits end. I was done. I was weary. I was discouraged and I was ready to through my hands up in defeat. "Last week." It was a normal week full of all our normal activities. School, soccer practice, baseball practice, soccer games, baseball games, field trips, costumes and just the normal things that make up our week, but I hit a breaking point. I was exhausted and honestly I was tired of fighting the enemy at every turn. I was becoming cynical and bitter at life. I love my family, but I wanted our circumstances to change and change fast. They did. My husband boarded a plane and went to Honduras on a mission trip for 7 days. Now I had to do this thing we call life alone. If I thought I was at my wits end last week, how will I ever juggle all of this alone.

When I married Matt 15 years ago I told the Lord that I fully understood that Matt was His first and mine second. That admission has been harder at times to live than it was to confess, but reminding my heart of that promise I have always released my grip freely as the Lord calls him to go and to serve. I love that he hears the voice of his savior and obeys and I will never be the one to stand in the way of his obedience. I hold him palms up at all times. As his obedience led him into a small village in Honduras I became very aware that for the next 7 days it was all me. Wow, was I mistaken. How dare I even think that I could manage this life alone?

My loving Heavenly Father scooped me up and provided His mercies anew every morning. He guided each step and provided the grace I needed to place my feet one in from of the other. This week has been crazy busy, but then again which weeks aren't. We have had practices and games in triplets, we have had sickness, we have had melt downs (not me of course), we have had costumes to make and homework to do, houses to clean, we have kept children, we have cooked dinner, we have bought groceries and we have had a wonderful week watching our Father perfectly proportion His grace for each step we are on. Yes, we have ALL desperately missed our Daddy, but what a joy to be able to pray for him and allow him without begrudging hearts to go and serve. My boys have been working on a special project to surprise their daddy when he comes home. Joshua said, "We need to do something to surprise daddy and thank him for going to another country to serve others and tell them about Jesus since we are too young to go." Oh how my heart overflowed with blessing. Instead of allowing their hearts to become sad, they had a full understanding of what Matt has been called to do and they wanted to find a way to thank him for his obedience. The attitude of their gracious hearts would have been enough.

Grace perfectly proportioned seems to be the theme of my life. At just the right moment, not a moment before and not a moment after, but at the precise moment I need His grace, He is there and He pours it freely. I keep my gaze set on Him. I cry out to Him. He is my strength and my rock. He is my portion forever.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"A Heart and A Hand of Worship"

I absolutely love to worship my Savior. Music that sings His praise is the only music for me. I will blast "I Will Follow" and "Jesus Messiah" while I clean my house, while I sew and especially while I drive. I love that the message of the words of worship begin to take root in the hearts of my children. As my 4 year old sings "Where you go I'll go, where you stay I'll stay, who you serve I'll serve, I will follow you" I know fully that this is the message I want engraved in his memory. He could have "friends in low place" or sing of "apple bottom jeans" but I refuse to allow the world to have any more of a hold over my children than what the sin nature and the other unwelcome evils already pursue. As we drive to and from where ever we might be going we have a praise and worship session. Just today on the way to soccer Caleb says, "Who took Chris Tomlin out of the car?" Wishing that we actually did have Chris Tomlin singing to us in the car I remembered that I had be jamming to the praise while I cleaned today. I was the guilty thief. We found other music to worship to, but I love that he has a favorite. My favorite worship story was last week as we kept the roads warm during spring break, we were singing, worshipping and I was driving. As I sang louder and my heart began to truly worship in spirit and in truth I raised one hand in praise to my king and I hear..."Whoa, whoa lady, both hands on the wheel. Here I will worship for you." As Caleb spoke the words he lifted his hand in praise and sang a little louder. I don't think worship actually works that way, but I know I got a good chuckle out of it and I'm sure our Savior did as well. I knew his heart. He was thinking, "If my momma keeps worshipping like this in the car, we are ALL gonna be worshipping Jesus face to face very soon." I have laughed about that day so many time. Caleb knew my heart. He knew I wanted to worship my Jesus, but he also knew it is important to keep both hands on the wheel. He was ready to serve. I provided the heart and he provided the hand and we worshipped. "Worship Him in spirit and in truth." Luke 19:40 says "If they keep quiet, the stones will do it for them, shouting praise." I don't want the rocks to cry out on my behalf. I WILL PRAISE HIM!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

"Making Over The Dirty Rooms"

It is no secret that I despise laundry. I will scrub the floor with a toothbrush, clean windows and fans and swish that toilet brush and even detail it with a toothbrush just to stay away from the laundry room and the mountains of misery that await. It has always been "the room" where everything was hidden away behind closed doors when those who are not of the same blood line arrive. You know those rooms. The ones you never intend for anyone to see. Those private quarters that only we can see and that really are not considered a part of the "house." The laundry room is one of the dirty rooms. It just really doesn't matter, right? That is what I always thought until... recently. My laundry room was my least favorite room in the house until last week. Our washing machine was old and would not hold very many clothes. With 4 boys that is a problem. It also required that you run the spin cycle twice to keep from retrieving sopping wet clothes. Our dryer had its own set of issues. Drying time averaged 70 minutes per load, but had been known to take up to 3 hours to dry towels. Last week when the washer rocked its way into the kitchen to dance with me I knew it was time the dynamic duo left our home. We priced and shopped and prayed and priced and shopped and prayed some more until Matt and I came to find peace and unity about the same washer and dryer. We had to totally clean the room out in order to be done with the old and welcome in the new. While the room was empty I decided the floors needed a really good scrubbing. After that a coat of paint on the walls seemed only appropriate so we picked a color and cut-in, trimmed and rolled. A vision began to take root. I could see it. This dirty room was becoming clean. But it wasn't enough for it just to be clean, oh no, it had to be adorned, decorated and made beautiful. Matt asked me how replacing a washer and dryer turned into a home makeover project. My just made sense. For a whole week I have spent day and night working, planning, painting, creating and cleaning. The result...I now have my dream laundry room and I LOVE doing laundry.
I love going in there and the door stays wide open all of the time. I just can't find enough laundry to do. The room and the chore that once plagued me is now my joy and delight. Why? Because the dirt and clutter have been replaced with beauty, organization and precious memories and pictures including, artwork made from my boy's baby clothes, my great-grandmother's button collection, windows from my granddad's house and lots of pictures of my boys.

The old is gone and the new has come and the new is so much more attractive and magnetic than the old. As I was devoted to this project all week the Lord began to impress upon my heart that we have those dirty rooms in our lives as well. You know the rooms I am referring to...the ones we keep the doors closed to and give no one access to the entrance. Those deep, dark places of doubt, worry, sin and bitterness. Those thoughts that only we are privy to. Those heart attitudes, opinions, complaints and activities that only we know exist. We all have a dirty room or dirty rooms. Maybe not filthy, but non-the-less those rooms that are off limits to the world. What would they think if they could see behind those doors? What would they find? How could we show our faces if we aired all of the dirty laundry behind that door? We are in need of a TOTAL makeover. When we came to know the Lord Jesus as our Savior, He took away the old and offered us forgiveness and everything we need for life and godliness. We possess everything we need to have clean and sparkly rooms. There is no need to keep the doors closed any longer, but just like my laundry was never on the priority list for a makeover so too are those areas in our lives that we just won't let go of. I know what my areas are. What are yours? What room of your heart and life is off limits? What areas of your life need a makeover? Maybe it is the room that harbors fear and worry or that nook that hides your negative and critical spirit. It might be the cranny where you hide your self-pity and anger. It is time for a makeover vision to be cast within our hearts. Picture it. Open doors, cleanliness, sparkling, functional, organized, nothing to hide and COMPLETELY functional for HIS purposes. His Word is our blueprint and at His feet we find revelation and design for life. My laundry room has experienced a makeover, but it will one day pass away. The makeover of our hearts and lives is eternal.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"An Experiment In Kindness"

My boys are good boys. They are well mannered. They are sweet and above all they love Jesus. They bless my heart each and every day. Recently on one of those afternoons when all the doors and windows are open and a crisp breeze is blowing through the house, I was cooking dinner and listening to the sweet sound of children playing outside. As the smell of dinner made its way through the neighborhood streets I heard a terrible argument break out. It was coming from the front and I began to wonder what mom would have to step outside and reprimand these children who were speaking to one another in words and volumes that were less than encouraging. As I walked out my front door, I recognized the voices and 3 young men were quickly called in from their game of "gotcha." I was appalled. They were using tones and discouraging words and speaking in ways that they wouldn't use if they were talking to a stray animal. According to height they lined up on the couch and awaited "the mommy talk." We talked about the fact that they are HIS vessels, that Christ lives in them. We talked about kindness and we shared scripture concerning the tongue and I admitted to them my helpless place of not knowing how to stop this behavior that goes beyond just "brotherly" squabbles. I don't mind the headlocks, the tackling at the feet, the wrestling matches or the punches in the arms. All that is just part of being a brother or so I am told, but the words spoken from their mouth can leave a much greater impact and they are a direct reflection of the heart. They are words spoken in anger with an apparent lack of self-control. As we talked and pondered over what the next step would be Daddy had a wonderful idea. Togetherness! Practice! What better way to practice kindness than to be put in situations regularly that required you to be kind, to learn to be patient and to work together resulting in an occasional compromise. So for the next three days my boys were "together." They played together, ate together, slept together. Everything they did, they did together. We had to remind them to move and live in a pack, but for three days they were together. The stipulation was, for every unkind word or outburst we would add a day to their togetherness. I am happy to report that the days of togetherness only totaled 5. They learned to compromise and they are learning to put others needs before their own. That is what this was all about in the first place. Why get angry and yell? Why say hateful things? Because you have been crossed. Because you haven't gotten your way or things haven't turned out the way you wanted them to. Both sides are being selfish thus resulting in a disagreement. Dying to self is a hard lesson to learn at any age, but a lesson that is required according to the scriptures. If these precious boys can learn to die to self at a much younger age and put the needs of others above their own now, then their future days should be that much sweeter. I am not so naive as to believe that our 5 day "experiment in kindness" as cured the tongues or the angry hearts forever, but it is a start and I am more than willing to initiate this experiment again if needed. Saturday night I heard this conversation and it gave me great hope... Jacob - "I don't like you Joshua." Joshua - "Jacob that is not very nice for you to say that you don't like me." Jacob - "Joshua, please don't tell on my." Joshua - "Jacob, you deserve to be punished, but I will offer you mercy this time and not tell on you. I forgive you." Jacob - "Oh thank you Joshua, you do love me." My children possess the characteristic of kindness. When they accepted Christ as their Savior they were given the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. With that came the fruit. The fruit of the Spirit. They received this one fruit with 9 characteristics. Part of my stewardship and my discipleship as a mom is to encourage and watch those characteristics grow. It takes work. It takes practice. Just as trees bear more and better quality fruit as they are pruned and cared for so too do we show more of the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit as we nurture them and show great attention to them. That nourishment and discipline comes as we are in the Word of God, as we pray and as we are given opportunities to put what we have learned into practice. My boys are good boys, but this week they are just a little bit kinder. Practice makes perfect.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Precious Memories"

Today, for no particular reason I find myself missing my Grandad. Precious memories have flooded my heart today and I am warm. I find myself grinning and yet a momentary sadness overtakes me. I remember his tall, lanky build which in younger years walked in confidence, but always fast. He walked with the same haste and determination but with a touch of clumsiness in his older years, but he walked. I miss his smooth, olive skin which let you know of his heritage and his white flattop always trimmed just so. The smell of dirt, worms and crickets always flood me with sweet memories of the "bait man." Seeing gardens all neat in rows and initials carved in trees take me back to summer visits. Rusty chairs and box fans plugged into extension cords, hanging over trees, running through the yard and up the walk reminds me of hot summer days that beckoned you indoors, but the company kept encouraged you to stay under the shade tree. Chicken and dumplings complete with bones, pringles cans containing anything but pringles and cherry vanilla ice cream were always a treat at Grandad's table. The mountains of papers on the big gold sofa and the one he wanted to show being on the bottom of the stack, but he saved it to share when the roads would lead us home. Two televisions side by side with two different programs playing simultaneously just so we didn't miss a thing. Seven long nails in a row on the bathroom wall so each pair of pants for each day of the week could be hung neatly and systematically. The workshop was chaotic and in disarray to the untrained eye, but to Grandad it made sense and it was a place to fix (rig) that which was broken and he could. The boat, the fishing poles, the buckets, old windows, old boat motors, cricket cages and every tool you could imagine in multiples. The Grandad giggle, the Grandad gate, the nicknames, the jokes, the tricks, the words he said in that Grandad way and the funny questions are all on my mind today. Gertrude was my nickname followed by a giggle and a grin. He could always make us laugh. He was patient. He was kind and I have no memory of a harsh word ever being spoken. He never forgot a birthday. Even though I received "for a special nephew" and "to a dear grandmother" it was the thought that counted and he NEVER forgot. He walked with a tenderness, a gentleness and yet his very presence demanded respect in the most quiet and gentle way. You never left his house empty handed. A pringles can full of cookies, vegetables from the garden or freezer or a stack of dollars from his pocket. The love was always enough. Every picture you sent received a frame and was placed on the shelves above the couch. Oh how I loved the tours. The tours of the house he grew up in and the stories that filled those walls and our hearts. My favorite times were spent rummaging through the room with all the stuff. I'm not sure the room every had a name, but it was filled with books and pictures, trophies and things. Old things. I loved to just sit and look and ask questions about each memory. The visits were always too short. We all knew it and my heart ached as we pulled away watching Grandad waving from his post, standing on the front porch until we were well out of sight. One of our last visits was my favorite. Just me and Matt and 4 month old Matthew. Grandad held him, jingled his car keys and called him "her" all night. He was a doting Grandad and that was a precious night. For 83 years he assured me that when he got to heaven Jesus would let him in. He was a good man. The best. There is nothing he would not do for his family, his friends and even an occasional stranger. 83 years of living a good life. 83 years and then... he recognized his need for Jesus and gave his life to him. 4 months later His Heavenly Father called him home. He was in a fishing boat in the middle of the creek and His Heavenly Father called him by name. He was spared from this life. He was taken into eternal glory. He had aged, but he wasn't old. He had health issues, but he wasn't sick. He was Grandad and all was well all the time. He lived life to the fullest even until that final moment. God has been teaching me what it means to live life to the fullest in the midst of a life filled with trials and hardship. Maybe that is why he is on my heart. That was his legacy. That was his calling. Grandad had seen hard days. He had been through his share of trials, but you would never have known. He had a passion and a love for life that far outweighed the circumstances. His last breathe was taken in a boat with a fishing pole in hand. Living life to the fullest! I can guarantee there were vienna sausages, sardines and saltine crackers in that boat. That was part of living fully and Grandad knew how. Though we mourned our loss, we rejoiced in his gain. To be absent from this world is to be present with the Lord for the heart of one who believes and he did. His legacy lives on and the desire of my heart is to embrace today, live life to the fullest and love Jesus. Grandad did.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Wrestling With My Pillow"

Wrestling has never been my sport. To be honest "sports" have never been my sport. Worry...there is an area I can compete in. The problem with worry is there is no hope of winning. You've already lost before you even begin. Who wants to play a sport like that? You walk into the game tagged as a loser. For the last few months I have been having a wrestling match with my pillow. Sleep is not the problem once I find my way there. Getting to sleep is the problem. I toss and turn and some nights try to find a dry spot not laced with tears to lay my head. Faith, hope, trust, blessings...all the things I KNOW and teach and speak of and live somehow seem to find a hiding place when my head hits the pillow. The emotions, the hurts, the fears and the doubt all seem to surface and the wrestling match begins. The pillow is merely the tangible. My true wrestling opponent cannot be packed into such a neat and fluffy casing. A battle ensues each night as the minutes in red flash by so quickly. It is a battle of flesh versus spirit and yet I know in my heart that the battle is not mine. HE has warned me of the battle, but promised it is HIS and HE has won. Why do I insist on a fight that doesn't even belong to me? I sing and I pray and I quote scriptures the same as I did when I was five and monsters were lurking in the hall and living under my bed. I sing praises and the praise rises up and conquers the fear and then I am silent and allow my opponent a lofty lead. WHY? The obvious answer we know...I am a sinful man. Yet that answer does not suffice "for we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us and gave His life for us." I want to win this battle and yet I play as one who wants to lose. Laziness. There is a possible answer. It is easier to be lazy and accept defeat than to fight the battle and live a life that is disciplined, trained and fit. Lazy is not a word that I want associated with my name. If I am tagged as lazy then why work so hard at the stacks of folded laundry, the swishing of the toilet brush, the print free glass and meals that desire praise. This new found laziness I can only mask for a time. It begins to show in the dark circles under my eyes and in the weariness of my step and yet once again I know the REAL issue. I lack obedience. I possess everything I need for life and godliness and I choose to be lazy in this match against flesh and blood. Obedience is a choice. Daily the words, "Choose to obey" come out of my mouth as instruction to the four young men I am privileged to call sons. Choose. You have a choice and you know the results. Choose selfishness and reap the consequences or choose obedience and reap the rewards. We can sew to the flesh or we can sew to the spirit. We are instructed "not to become weary in doing good." We are not to become weary in this battle and yet "weary" seems to be such a pale word to describe my heart and the way in which I fight today. What is beyond weary? Defeat? A choice! Defeat does not come as a result of obedience for our specific instructions were NOT to become weary. Do not give up. Fight! Persevere! A harvest is waiting to be reaped but you cannot give up. Do farmers plant crops, weed, water, fertilize and then give up? No, they patiently wait and weather the rain, the wind, the hail and the cold and they reap the harvest that was never in their control, all the while trusting it to the hands of their Father and willing to accept what He yields as good. Giving up would make all the work to this point seem futile. Giving up means allowing someone else to reap the rewards and I know who that someone is and I know his plans for the harvest and I do not trust him at all. He seeks to destroy and reek havoc on our crops. Do not give up! I hear those words over and over again. Do not give up! My heart begins to argue...but Lord I have had enough sickness, sorrow, heartache, fear and worry and He says..."ENOUGH. It is finished. The complaining, the murmuring, the pity party, the doubt of My perfect plan and My perfect will. Enough!" He is God and He is good. Enough? It becomes a question. Is it enough to know that? It is! I know in my heart it is and the fight is worth it. It is all I have ever fought for. It is the only fight I know and it is worth it. For I know that my battle is NOT against flesh and blood, but it is a spiritual battle. It is a daily battle. The pearl was produced from irritation, the diamond a result of laborious mining and a bouquet of roses found in the midst of thorns seeking blood. Joy can be birthed from sorrow. Sorrow lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning. The sorrow of watching The Savior nailed to a tree and brutally sacrificed birthed joy unspeakable. The wrestling match will continue, but the cause of the fight will change. No longer will I choose to fight for my flesh, for my rights or even for my comfort. My fight is for obedience. Doubt, fear, worry and weariness will be the victim of a head lock or maybe even a full nelson. Whatever that is? I will not give up and I will not accept defeat. How about you? Can you relate? Do you understand? Obedience. I choose to obey. Joy is found in obedience.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Forced To Rest"

Life is busy! It is a whirlwind of activity. Some of the busyness is legitimate and some is due in part to our martyrdom attitude towards life. How dare someone ask us what we have going on and we answer with a boring, lazy, "Nothing, life is pretty calm. Not much to report." We would rather die and risk the wrath of God than to admit that we have nothing to do. We like to be busy. It gives us bragging rights. It makes us feel important and it ensures that the Jones's will never catch up to us. Our busyness is also self inflicted. We fill our calendar with things we never took before our Heavenly Father and asked permission to do. We become "yes" people as we seek to please man and appear as supermom before the world. This week the Lord forced me to rest and see that it is ok to do absolutely NOTHING! This is so hard for me. I like to be busy. Even when I don't have to be busy, I create busyness for the sake of busyness. This busyness was beginning to pay off. Last weekend my house was squeaky clean so I decided to clorox and scrub the floors with a toothbrush. This took longer than I anticipated, but I had some eager helpers. My house was clean, all the laundry was done, I had cooked meals for multiple days and even made some yummy lemon bars for a special treat. The floors had received some special attention and I was quickly entering that place of wondering what I would say was keeping me busy if a friend were to call and ask what I was up to. Quick, quick, think....what else can I do to keep me busy. On Saturday night my children began to drop like flies. At first I thought it might be the clorox fumes, but I soon learned that one by one they were each plagued by the flu. Was this the answer to my boredom? Taking care of sick children. I saw it more as an excuse to lay in the bed with them and watch movies, cuddle and read books. But do I really need an excuse to do that? Isn't that a part of being a great mom. Maybe, but a part that can be so easily forgotten because anything that requires we sit still and rest can be deemed as laziness. Is it considered laziness when we obey God's Word, "Be still and know that I am God" Psalms 46:10 He commands us to be still. We are to be still and KNOW. Know what? THAT HE IS GOD!! He is God in the midst of our pain, our suffering, our joys, our delights. He is God and He is good. He called me to an even greater place of rest this week as I too got this strain they call the flu. Fever, chills, aching, runny nose, yet stuffy, coughing, hurting and absolute misery. There was only one thing to be done. Rest! Yet for some reason it seems to be acceptable in the wake of sickness. I am embracing this place of rest. God has used this time to reveal more of Himself to me and to show me that He desires that I rest in Him not only when I am sick but always. When we are quiet, restful and attentive we can hear from Him. We can hear Him clearly when the noise of chaos and busyness are removed. When I stand before Him, He is not going to be interested in my to do lists, my chore chart, my toothbrush cleaned floors or my calendar of events. He wants to know that I obeyed Him. He wants to know that all of who I am was poured out for all of who He is and the work of His kingdom. I want to embrace this place of resting at His feet. I want to choose the better thing not only when I am sick, but always.

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feetlistening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!" 41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Friday, January 21, 2011


A Right?

A Choice?

A Gift!

A Privilege!


Every little girl’s dream. A burning desire. Something is different. A Tiredness. A glow. A fluttering. Movement. Life. Life fashioned deep within me by the creator of all things x’s 4. Only “One” could think of such a perfect plan. Such a precious way to develop life. Deep within. Safe. Secure. Binding. I wait. I dream. I hope. I plan. And then before body and soul get ready to burst I hear the sweetest sound. A faint cry as that tiny body learns how to suck in the air that will feed each breathe. A cry x’s 4 that forever changes my life. The man in blue holds that precious bundle into the air x’s 4. Naked. Dimpled. Wet. Crying. Beautiful. The most beautiful sight that will forever be engraved in my heart. Those eyes. Big. Brown. Piercingly gentle. Alert.

One glance and I will never be the same. I love so deeply without warning. Nothing could prepare me for this love. The depth of this love. The rejoicing. The mourning. The aching. The blessing of this love x’s 4. This love was instant and yet the wait for this day seemed so long. Each day from this moment on is fleeting. The firsts come so quickly. First smile. First bath. First roll over. First laugh. And yet it seems the firsts never end. And then they become the last. You lay upon my chest in perfect peace. Comforted. Safe. Secured. And yet you don’t belong to me. You are HIS and oh how hard that is to remember x’s 4. I cradle and feed you by means of which only God could design. I hear the satisfied coos and then without warning you stop. Milk dribbling down your face. You look up at me with those big brown eyes and grin the biggest grin a 1 inch mouth can produce. We hold that look and smile at each other and then hunger overtakes you again. But in that moment I read your mind. Thank you mommy. I love you mommy. I feel treasured. I feel secure. And even though I know this is the communication of a heart that can’t yet verbalize, to me it is a beautiful poem that will forever be sung in the memory of my soul x’s 4. Cherished Moments. Precious Memories. Sleepless nights as I watch each breath. My hand heavy upon your back as I pray blessing and so much more over this precious life x’s4. Fevers. Rashes. Ear infections. Stomach bugs. Unknown pains that produce sleepless nights and grumpy babies. All the while knowing HE loves you more than I do. Unconditional. Infinite. Perfect. Sacrificial.

You grow right before my eyes and I try to no avail to hold you close. Bike rides. Roller Skates. First sleepovers. Birthday Parties. Kindergarten. Letting go. Trusting. Faith. And then a gentle whisper to your soul and you are drawn. The day we have prayed for since conception has arrived. Your trust is placed in Him. Your life given to Him. Salvation. Forgiveness. New Life. A New Birth. Redeemed. Growing. Growing.

And then it seems that as quickly as you made your entrance into the world so to into manhood. Those dimpled toes are beginning to sprout and look like that of a man. That smooth baby face now has a roughness to the touch. Tall. Prestigious. Mature. The crackling voice and the awkward laugh. Yet that childlike faith continues. New revelations. New testings of your faith. Faith that is grounded. Faith that is secure. Faith that whispers to your soul. You are mine. All is well. I am in control and I am good. Jesus and Jesus alone. He is all you need. He is all you have ever needed. You know this full well and my heart rejoices. Questions unanswered. Plans not yet revealed. Yet full confidence in His will.

Now the life I once cradled, cradles me. My head rests upon your chest. Your tender touch of assurance that “Mom, I am fine.” You wipe away my tears and whisper all is well. He is in control. Our sustainer. Our deliverer. Our God. At that moment I know, my deepest heart’s desires have been fulfilled. You were never a right. You were never a choice. You are my privilege. You are my joy. You are my delight. You are my gift. You are LIFE. You are His breathe. His creation. His masterpiece. Perfectly flawed for His purposes. For His Kingdom’s glory. Nothing a coincidence. Not one moment of happenstance. No mistakes. Situations deemed flawed and cursed by the world but blessed and perfect by the standard of heaven. A weaving of His handiwork. A tapestry of His beauty. For His glory. LIFE x’s 4!