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Monthly Archives: November 2010

I love me some Holidays!

After last week I feel pretty drained. Not because I hosted thanksgiving, It’s just a lot of stuff crammed in a few days. So today I am recounting all that happened. It’s definitely a bullet points post.
  • Our dog gave birth to 2 puppies 1 week early. One was born dead. After a night of tube feeding the other tiny 2 oz puppy her mother decided she looked so tasty she would just lick her a little extra vigorously until alas she looked so yummy mommy thought she could just eat her up….and so she did. Much to her human family’s displeasure, which resulted in a tremendous amount of name calling of our family pet along with a Big NAUGHTY beside her name for Santa!
  • Got to hear my guy preach. That was a treat!
  • We were the first to arrive on the scene of an accident…which is always scary. And to top it off it was an officer who was the driver.
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with our small group. What a wonderful bunch of friends!We had great food, great laughs and great games.
  • Needed to make the bread, cinnamon rolls, brown sugar tapioca and pumpkin cheese cake and an ice cream dessert….Check.
  • We had movie night which included the movies Toy Story 3 and Romona and Beazus. Which was so delightful I think I shall buy it.
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving at my Sister’s house. What a wonderful feast! Which always includes lots of laughs especially as we played Pictaphanary. My brother Jerry was cracking me up!
  • We brought home 3 cousins and left 3 there overnight. We got the little girls…giggles, whispering and a 1:30 creep down the stairs to get a little midnight snack party.
  • At 3 am I finally got up because I couldn’t sleep anyway and headed out to do my shopping. It always happens like this…I leave my warm bed and head out to my cold van. I feel a strange mixture of excitement and dread all balled up into one. I leave my country home headed into town telling myself as I see not one house light on or one car on the road that this is the year! The year that everyone has overslept and I will be the only one who remembered it’s black Friday. As I get into town I see a few more cars but I can handle a couple overachievers. And then as I get on to the 4 lane the cars are multiplying and I realize they are all headed in the same direction I am. As I turn to pull into my favorite shopping plaza cars are packed all the way out to the road and the lines are wrapping around the store. YIKES!!! And sadness reigns as I realize I will have to be extra patient and say a lot more excuse me’s than I am accustomed to doing at 3:30 in the morning!
  • I got home at 8:00….locked my door and crawled under the covers. J would handle the pancakes and the delivery of the girlies.
  • 12:30 I would wake up and get ready for my brother and sister in law to arrive anytime. They live in Ohio and we are always so excited to have their family come. At bedtime we have 3 more small people in the house who are excitedly getting floor beds made and telling jokes.
  • Saturday. It’s Micah’s birthday and so we have a big breakfast and give him his gift that he has been wanting. By lunch all company has been hugged and kissed goodbye and we are alone. So I can bake a second birthday cake since I had forgotten the first one in the oven and baked it for an hour.
  • We get our tree and Christmas decorations up. And head out for the 5:45 showing of Secretariat. Awesome movie! Loved it both times I saw it! We grab some pizza and come home to play a game of Scum. J and I are in a heated competition for prez…in which all my smack talk never really cames to fruition and I remained just a commoner through the entire game! Stink!
  • My kids are really getting quite good! Sophie always exclaimed about her best hand ever and J always told us he had the worst one yet.
  • Sunday we went to church and had an excellent message about The 5 loaves and 2 fish. Then we met my sister and her husband and 2 boys for Mexican…Where we celebrated Micah…again. The waitresses came out to sing…but he had just left for the restroom. So I sent them to the men’s room…not really….I stopped them on the second stanza and asked them to come back in 5.
  • Sunday afternoon and evening we sat around and re cooped. Hoping this week would be a little less eventful…..

I am exhausted! But it was well worth it!

My heart is full! And so is my belly!

I just love these days!

So very much to be thankful for!

Forgotten

I grew up in a home where my parents drove separately to church. My dad was the preacher and often he would need to be at church earlier then my mother. At least that was the reason in part. My mom had 5 children that she needed to attend to plus she always had Sunday lunch to prepare.

In our church there was much chatter after a service. These days it seems like many places of worship have several services, so people are leaving quickly to make room for the next group to enter.

But us?…we just lingered.
For the children that meant that we had time to play in the basement corners or in the fellowship hall, where the curtains hung. We would sneak in the bathrooms and pull pranks on the unsuspecting adults. Or giggle as we told secrets up in the balcony.

But when it came time to go I always wanted to go with the parent who was leaving last. That way it didn’t cut into my shenanigan time. The only problem was sometimes my parents would think I had left with the other…this was before the days of cell phones…so they would naturally assume I was with the other one. Or so they told me. I choose to believe it.

And there I would stand waiting at the door. I still remember the frame of the window I peered through.
Waiting.
The custodian would make a call from the church phone to our home letting them know I was there. I watched for our vehicle in anticipation that my ride would soon be arriving. My imagination would go wild as I wondered if the rapture had happened and the custodian and I were the only two that hadn’t been taken.

Through the years I have felt left behind. When my friends were getting married first or when I didn’t get invited to an event I felt I should have. Sometimes I wondered if I had been forgotten.

Have you ever felt forgotten?

Like no one remembers you?

Do you Know Jesus felt that way?
When he was hanging on the cross he called to his Father in heaven.
“Eloi Eloi, lama, sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some scholars believe that Jesus was fulfilling the prophecy by repeating Psalm 22. And even though they are a lot smarter than I am I think that’s incorrect.

I think Jesus felt forgotten.

I believe that for a moment he felt like everyone, including his Father had turned away.
And he felt alone.
I believe it stung.

But we know that in the end, He was not forgotten.
Because the grave is empty.

And I know that we too, are not forgotten..
For the same power that raised Christ resides in each person who trusts in him.

Today,
It’s Thanksgiving, and maybe you feel alone.

Forgotten,
Even in a crowded room
.

But know this…

You are not.

There is one who knows every single strand of hair that remains on your head.
He knows you and loves you.

And if you ask him he will come and make his home with you.
He will never leave or forsake any of his children.
And that is a promise that makes me feel Thankful on this Thanksgiving Day.

I’m fine!

How are you?

Fine how are you?

The words pop out of my mouth so quickly I wonder if I have a condition.

I feel robotic and conditioned to speak these words.
I even say them at the grocery store to the meat counter lady.

Fine… How are you?

I recognize it’s our culture. The way we greet each other.

But often in repeating this, we lie.

Sometimes I stop and think… No, I’m not really fine, but I’ve got nothing.
I can’t say it.

I won’t.

And so I smile…

Fine.

While I don’t advocate running around making everyone my shrink I think something else may be better to say when I’m not okay.

Why can’t we say we aren’t ok?

We got troubles. And that’s the truth. We all do. And we all know it. But to speak it seems…well…weak.

How about taking off the mask for one day?
Sharing the pain with one person.

Let’s start with God.
After all..
He Is our Father.
And yet, we try to fool him.
Like somehow he doesn’t know.
We try to “brace ourselves” and be joyful.
But some days its just not there.
The joy has gone a-wall and we are left with broken dreams and promises.
Maybe we don’t even know why we feel upset.
So we press on.. masking.
But the problem doesn’t go away.
It haunts us. We feel it lurking there in the shadows.
And while we push it down it starts to leak out our shoes, and then our fingers, and finally our eyeballs.

Until we finally face it.
We are real people, and God knows our frame.
He knows the pinpoint issue that makes us feel like we are crazy.

A person who gets mad, and sad, and cries, or laughs at the wrong time. A real soul who blushes out of embarrassment when imperfect or finds it hard to hold the tongue when their buttons are pushed. A person who can’t get over the grief that life has handed them, or is angry because of past hurts. A heart that has been hardened because of bitter roots. Or tender because of present pain.

David was one of those people.

He has many different voices…but I never hear him say, “I’m fine”.

In fact his book is full of many colorful sounds..
Laments, and Praise, Anger and Surrender. Laughter and Pain. Joy and Weeping. Hope and defeat. Fear and Trust.

In order to live lives that are real and fully free we must be willing to speak truth to our maker.
Not disrespect.
But truth.
What do you need to say to him?

What is it that is stinkin up your house?

This is what the Psalmist said…
Psalm 77 (The Message)

Psalm 77
An Asaph Psalm
1 I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens.

2-6 I found myself in trouble and went looking for my Lord;
my life was an open wound that wouldn’t heal.
When friends said, “Everything will turn out all right,”
I didn’t believe a word they said.
I remember God—and shake my head.
I bow my head—then wring my hands.
I’m awake all night—not a wink of sleep;
I can’t even say what’s bothering me.
I go over the days one by one,
I ponder the years gone by.
I strum my lute all through the night,
wondering how to get my life together.

7-10 Will the Lord walk off and leave us for good?
Will he never smile again?
Is his love worn threadbare?
Has his salvation promise burned out?
Has God forgotten his manners?
Has he angrily stalked off and left us?
“Just my luck,” I said. “The High God goes out of business
just the moment I need him.”

11-12 Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.

13-15 O God! Your way is holy!
No god is great like God!
You’re the God who makes things happen;
you showed everyone what you can do—
You pulled your people out of the worst kind of trouble,
rescued the children of Jacob and Joseph.

Or we can hear David’s cry in this…

Psalm 64
A David Psalm
1 Listen and help, O God. I’m reduced to a whine
And a whimper, obsessed
with feelings of doomsday
.

Almost every single time he cries out or speaks of trouble he ends up with recounting the faithfulness of God. It’s like he’s reminding himself that although there is mourning today…Joy will come.

God will be the victor.

One of the passages I love is Psalm 116…
Here it is from the message.
Psalm 116:1-19 (The Message)

Psalm 116

I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy.
He listened so intently
as I laid out my case before him.
Death stared me in the face,
hell was hard on my heels.
Up against it, I didn’t know which way to turn;
then I called out to God for help:
“Please, God!” I cried out.
“Save my life!”
God is gracious—it is he who makes things right,
our most compassionate God.
God takes the side of the helpless;
when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.

7-8 I said to myself, “Relax and rest.
God has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you’ve been rescued from death;
Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.”

9-11 I’m striding in the presence of God,
alive in the land of the living!
I stayed faithful, though bedeviled,
and despite a ton of bad luck,
Despite giving up on the human race,
saying, “They’re all liars and cheats.”

12-19 What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!
I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it together with his people.
When they arrive at the gates of death,
God welcomes those who love him.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
your faithful servant: set me free for your service!
I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice
and pray in the name of God.
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it in company with his people,
In the place of worship, in God’s house,
in Jerusalem, God’s city.
Hallelujah!

I’m not always fine.

But I am free.

Real Joy.
Real Pain.
Real me.

Oakley…The tree

There was once a young tree named Oakley. Oakley arrived on the first day of spring into the yard of a young couple called Mr and Mrs. Wise. They had purchased him from a nearby tree farm and planted him the same day.

The first morning of his arrival Oakley was set gently into the hole that was dug by Mr. Wise. After he was firmly placed into the correct upright position Mr. Wise gave him a long bath along with some food. And then Mr Wise said.. “Oakley, I am hoping for many good years together. You will grow old with us. Our children will climb your branches. Your arms will grow and you will give us shade in the summer and bring beauty all year long. But I must tell you that we have difficult winters here and you will have to be strong and hearty in order to survive.”

Oakley loved his new yard and that first summer he watched as children played around his feet and birds occasionally sat in his branches and sang their bird songs.

As summer turned to Autumn Oakley grew a little puzzled as his leaves started to change colors. They were beautiful but it concerned him that something was wrong. Was he going to die? What was happening to the lush green leaves that he used to produce?

And soon the winds started to howl and they begin to make Oakley very nervous. He was losing his leaves one by one. He started to panic as they disappeared altogether. But Mr. & Mrs. Wise didn’t seem to care at all! In fact they just got out a rake and swept up what he had shed. He was full of fear.

And then it came, that first big storm. Oakley’s branches were trembling and shaking uncontrollably. He had no idea that this was what living off of the tree farm would be like. There he was protected and nurtured and today he was praying that it wouldn’t be his last day standing. The winds whipped him this way and that. He would bend one way and then the other. But by night the magnificent wind had passed and all that remained was white. His arms felt nice and warm as the snow piled higher and higher. When he woke up the next morning he felt as if his arms had fallen asleep. The flakes had continued through the night until it felt as if his branches would snap. But as the sun came out slowly all the white melted and Oakley could breathe once again.

And then he felt it…there was this pull beneath him. It felt like something was groaning and churning and his legs seemed just a bit stronger. It was something he had never experienced before, but somehow it felt right and good.

Mr Wise came out and looked Oakley over. He said, “You did well Oakley, you survived your first big storm. This is the first of many. Oakley, storms are what make you strong. You will find that your roots will grow deeper as you face storms. You see that pathetic looking tree over there? That’s Willow and she has lived across the street for the past 5 years. She is watered and coddled and caressed daily. She has ropes that tie her down. See that blanket that covers her? Her owners think that’s the only way to keep her alive. But Oakley the truth is, if you can’t survive this storm without my help you will never be ready for the mighty storms of January. You must have this in order to survive that. This morning you are stronger then you were yesterday, and I have this hope for you, by spring you will have grown deeper and stronger which will make your branches reach higher and further.”

Oakley survived the January winds and the March tornadoes. Every once and again he would look over at Willow with a twinge of envy as she waved in her little feathery way. She still had ties that helped her stand. Her leaves were looking a little more pale this year but it seemed she had escaped the brutality of the storms.

As the years past Oakley grew strong as his roots grew deeper. Every so often Mr. Wise would give Oakley a pep talk and encourage him. As he matured, the children who used to play around his feet could now climb his branches. How he loved when they played their games in his arms. He would beam as he heard them read stories under his shade. And he would accommodate his singing feathered friends in the bend of his elbow as they built their nests and started their families.

Sometimes Oakley would sadly look over at the place his friend Willow used to grow. She had been absent for many years but still he missed her. He wondered why she was never able to flourish with all the care she had been given. He questioned why he had grown strong while she had withered and died.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~by Rosyrose

For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit Jer. 17:8

The winds of winter will come and beat us up. But if we allow ourselves to root deep in those times we will be like the tree planted by the water that spreads out its roots.

I have often prayed that we would be blessed and protected. That God would keep my children from harm and sadness. But truly, we like Oakley, need the storms in order to root deeper and become established.

Our wise Father know this and that is why he allows the storms to rage and winds to blow for a season.

We need storms in order to be the trees of Righteousness we were meant to be.

I got questions…

I have found one of the best times to talk turkey with my kids is while we are driving.
Not as in Thanksgiving Turkey or The country… but topics that can range anywhere from biting nails, to playground character, upcoming events, friend issues, hair style, Faith questions, or other delicate matters.

My younger son is one of the most expressive young boys you may meet. He is a compassionate soul that thinks deep thoughts and often has a quick response to any question posed to him.
He often cracks me up without trying to do so.

I like it!

Several weeks ago I got brave and asked him a couple of questions….
“tell me one thing I do well….and one thing you would like to see me improve on”.

He thought for only a second and said, “well I like that you admit when your wrong and ask me to forgive you….but the second one, I’ll need to get back with you on that…”
It took him only another minute.
“Well, I hate to say this but sometimes when you get tired you can be grumpy”.
Me…”yes, I’m sorry for that. I will try to do better”.
He…”but don’t worry about it, it’s not often”.
I love that he was trying to protect his Mommy’s feelings.

I like to ask them questions to stay engaged.
Sometimes I just don’t know what to ask…
Do you ever feel that way?

I ran across this list of questions and thought I needed to copy it down, so that in my spare minutes, on the way to school,or the store, or before bed, I can shoot a new question to them.

Here they are…

23 Great Questions to Ask Your Children

By Sharon Jaynes

1. What do you think heaven looks like?

2. What does Dad do at work?

3. Who is a person you know that seems the most Christ-like?

4. What do you think your wife (husband) will be like?

5. If you were going to spend one year on a desert island and could only take three things with you, what would they be?

6. Who is your favorite aunt or uncle and why do you like him or her so much?

7. What sounds and smells do you think Joseph and Mary experienced in the stable on Christmas night?

8. What is the nicest thing I ever did for you?

9. When is a time that I hurt your feelings?

10. When is a time that you were really mad at me?

11. If people followed the Golden Rule, think of all the things we wouldn’t need. Can you make a list?

12. If you could be in a movie that you’ve already seen, which one would it be? Would you be a character that is already in the movie, or would you be one that you would add?

13. How is love different for a Christian couple than it is in the movies?

14. What is the difference between being smart and being wise?

15. What is your favorite outfit?

16. What is the hardest part about being (fill in your child’s age)?

17. What has been your favorite childhood memory?

18. When you pray, how do you picture God?

19. What is your favorite Bible verse? Why do you like it?

20. If you could be an animal for a day, which one would you be?

21. If you could go in a time machine, what era in history would you like to visit?

22. What person in history would you like to visit?

23. What is the most important decision you will ever make?

© Revive Our Hearts. Sharon Jaynes. Used with permission by Moody Publishers

I think I might try a couple of these this week.
I may get some pretty colorful answers.
And better yet, I will connect with them, getting inside thier noggin for just a minute.

Do you have some good questions you ask your kids?

Fear Factor

2 Timothy 1:7 (Amplified Bible)
7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.



Fear is a nasty creature.

It creeps up like a thief, robbing us of peace and joy.

Sometimes it comes out of the blue in the middle of a sunny day.

And sometimes it comes when you are dreading an upcoming appointment or event.

But mostly, it comes to me in the night, when I wake in that cold sweat with a pounding heart and racing mind. It likes to whisper ugly things in my ear… It laughs at me as I skip the rest of my sleep.

It tells me things are going to turn out horribly wrong and that I am a failure as a wife and mom.

It tells me that I have no friends.

It makes me question if I will always be enough for my husband.

It smirks at me as it suggests the spot on my back may be something to get alarmed about or that my child may end up troubled.
It taunts me saying.. what if work doesn’t pick up and perhaps one day you may be without food for the table or shelter for your family? Sometimes it takes my mind down the path of death and the sorrow of planning a funeral.

It is not my friend.

But Sometimes I listen to it.

I hate it when I do. My stomach knots up and I feel miserable as I process the messages.

And then I realize that I have fallen prey to the enemy.

Because these negative thoughts take up my thinking space and rob me of a life of joy and peace and contentment.

The thing is…
God says his mercies are new EVERY day.

And

When I fear tomorrow’s trouble I am not living under today’s grace.

That unkind enemy seeks my sanity. And I can only combat him with one thing.

Only through the power of the Spirit and the transformed thinking he brings can we overcome the nasty trickery and lies.

To counteract the onslaught we must choose to turn off the messages and replace it with the truth.

We must choose to invest our time filling our thoughts with messages of life and blessing, of hope and healing, Grace and Peace, life and provision.

Remembering that God has been faithful through the ages and He will not be taking a break from his faithful job anytime, ever.

Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It comes down to this for me…

Is he worth my trust?

While I say yes, if I choose to dwell in the realm of fear, I am actually telling him no.

So maybe..

We can live in the grace that he provides for today, And let tomorrow take care of itself.

Maybe..

We can fully give ourselves into his keeping.

Because

It’s the only way to live a life fully uninhibited and free.

Haggai part 2

Here’s a weekend update before I get to the last part of Haggai…
We had an extra day with the kids this weekend. It was wonderful but still didn’t last long enough.:(
I just love when we get to veg out with them…and then go on bike rides


and laugh at their funny ways.
My main man had a birthday yesterday as well. So we celebrated him good and proper!
He built a fire and we ate stew, apple salad and homemade bread as we sat by the fire. It was cozy and so sweet as our children spontaneously started telling him what they love about him. We have done this tradition for years and it was so neat to see my oldest son start the praise fest about his father. They love him cause he works hard and plays games and loves them and teaches them how to do handy jobs and that he doesn’t just let them “rot” in front of the TV. 

I told him and will say it again… After a year like we have had I am more grateful than ever for the strength of his character . For the man that I have seen him become. He is a strong Oak.

And I am thankful to partner in ministry with him!

Now on to Haggai…
In Haggai Chapter 2 the people have been working but God is coming along side them giving them a little pep talk.
He tells the leaders “Be Strong”. (Or courageous) I am with you.
And then He says to the people.. “Be strong and work. For I am with you”.
He encourages them saying “I did not forget my covenant, my Spirit is among you…Do not fear”.
The former temple was so beautiful how could they ever make it that way again?
And Solomon was very gifted, the wisest man that ever lived.
How in the world could they restore the temple to the same grandeur?

How does that apply to us?

Do you ever feel like a shadow?
Like a no name.
Or a wanna be?

When we focus on other people, their talents and gifting, the ones who appear to have received the big box at the gift receiving ceremony … you know.. the one we wonder if we missed the invite to?
It is tempting to look at our own little square box and feel disappointed.
Maybe our own pride prohibits us from using that seemingly tiny gift.
We justify our actions by saying…
Someone else could do it better.
Or
Nobody will notice my contribution.
Or maybe..
If I offer my gift, it may be rejected. ..And what will I do with that?
But
God says…
I do notice.
And even if someone may appear to have a larger gift, your gift if given fully is exactly what I require of you.
He never rejects a gift that is given completely and honestly.
The passage says.. “ The desired of all nations will come and fill this temple with glory. And it will be much greater than the former”.
While this is a prophecy of Jesus coming it can also be applied to us today.

The application we can make is this:

We each have a temple. He calls our bodies his temple.
God tells us that he cannot bless a life of halfhearted living.
We must give him everything.
Make him the priority.
Giving our gift big or small.
When we invite him into our temples he cleans up the stench, he wipes clean the past and he makes Himself glorious through us.
And it is far more glorious then it was before.

So it doesn’t really matter what gift we have been given.
If he chose to give us a little gift then we better be faithful to use it.

Because Really…it’s not about the temples glory….
It’s about His.