Saturday, February 28, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
She always corrects me when I talk about animals, saying, "Reptiles are animals too!" Her favorites are lizards, hedghogs and well, just pick a random animal and ask her if it's her favorite. She'll say no but tell you whichever other random one is at the moment. Seriously.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
For those of you new to My Story Monday, click to get caught up on...my story.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I had coffee with a special friend who has crossed my path many times over the last several years but we've never really had any opportunities to share our stories so sharing was super fun.
My soul can get the endorphin fix it is craving simply by planning this time. How uplifting it feels to have those I love the most take time of out of their hectic, crazy, busy lives to sit and linger over a cup of coffee with me...with me.
My mom calls it coffee cup counseling. I've heard it called mentor meetings, coffee and accountability, girlfriend gab. I think the English even call it tea time. No matter what we call it, I love it. I'll take all I can get!
I can leave this scenario feeling more encouraged and connected than I have in a really long time. Especially if the friend is someone I care about deeply and don't see near enough of in my crazy life.
Thankfully, I am learning to recognize this feeling and reach out to connect to someone before I launch into a pity party, cry for no reason or just become plain old isolated.
My life is entering a phase where it's harder to find gobs of time to bond over coffee, corporately pray and worship on weekends or evenings outside of church or even sit on a park bench and watch kids ride bikes.
I became intentional in building intimacy with girlfriends in college. I needed the accountability, encouragement and support. With my older friends I needed wisdom, accountability and experience that their life had given them already.
Now my life is more full and more busy than it's ever been with my family's responsibilities. Sometimes this breeds loneliness. Not a bad loneliness, more like a purposeful loneliness. I know what God is calling me to do. It's just different. Wonderful. Wonderfully different. I love it. I miss my friends. Friends I used to see regularly.
However, I am involved with many people on a regular basis...I don't feel many are involved in my soul life. The deeper life. The place where God speaks.
One way to enter that place together where God speaks is to spend lots of time there...together. The ladies who have reached out to the Lord, responded to him with me and prayed me through many, many years of life...They get me. They know me.
It's not that any of my newer friends don't get me or know me in this way. It just takes time.
Just like our relationship with the Lord, our relationships with our friends and loved ones take cultivating. We spend huge amounts of time together. Great quantities of time are spent together when life is slower, easier, smoother. Then when we hit a bump in life, the relationship is in place, the trust is built and we have that to fall back on for help and support.
Quality time is born from quantity time.
We can't build quality.
We can invest quantity.
Thank you to everyone who has invested quantities of quality time in my life. I pray God will continue to grow us and connect and add to our numbers.
Thank you to all my girlfriends who touch my soul. Your prayers, love, concern and support carry me to the throne of God on a regular basis.
Whether it's been short or long since we shared that cup of coffee know that as I think of you and pray for you today I am encouraged. I hope you are too!
I love you!!!
Friday, February 20, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
New Living Translation (NLT)
The Message (MSG)
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I do have a some time tomorrow that I can actually sit and write while Palmer has his first speech lesson so it may get up late. But if I need that time for my brain to decompress or to take a little nap or to read my Bible(not necessarily in that order), I will be postponing Monday's post. Either way I will keep you posted!
Now if any of you would like to join me and tell me of the victories you have gained in Christ, this would be a good time for the encouragement! If you do post your story, leave a comment so I can read. I celebrate each and every bloggy friend. Grace to you as you begin this week!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
From April 25, 2007: Beautiful Feet
Fourteen months ago, my son, Palmer, was born. He was a beautiful dark haired, blue eyed, chubby, cuddly baby. He was perfect in every way.
But, there was just something about his feet.
The doctors said he had probably just laid in a funny position in the womb and not to worry. By the time he was two-weeks-old, I was scared. I could not figure out why his feet looked so different to me, so unique and unlike my other babies' feet.
I casually asked the doctor. He casually answered me. This momentarily eased my fears.
After all, if something were horribly wrong, a doctor would notice it, right?
I prayed and asked God to allow others to see what it was I could see, to show me if I was being a weird, paranoid, freaky mom.
We continued to get check-ups and to get the okay.
Fourteen months passed. I did not consciously worry. He has been described as "pigeon-toed" and other such terms. I asked general questions to the doctor and to others. Again, slight reassurances were gained.
Subconsciously, I was terrified. I silently declared victory as each developmental phase was reached. He rolled over, stood in the exersaucer, bounced in the bouncy thing, crawled, stood and walked around furniture. I breathed a sigh of relief each time we put on tennis shoes and he attempted to take a step. Each time thinking that when he hit the next milestone I would believe nothing was wrong. No achievement eased my fear.
Then someone I love who is around Palmer regularly voiced concern over his foot turning. As she voiced her concern exhorting me to call the doctor, I silently vowed to race him to the emergency room if I needed to.
The truth is there is something unique about his special little feet that only his mother (and his Heavenly Father) can see. I believe God gives us the "mother alarm" to alert us to things with our children that no one else seems to notice. Whether the sounding of the alarm moves me to pray more fervently or to demand a diagnosis more quickly, I believe God truly helps us to parent our children. I had asked God to allow someone else to see what I had been seeing if I needed to pursue this matter.
Outwardly I calmly replied that he was due for a check up as I echoed my concern. Inwardly my mind raced through hair-raising possibilities beginning a downward spiral that would threaten to overwhelm me with fear...and (gulp) guilt.
As I visited each worst case scenario in my mind, I began to pray. I scheduled a doctor's appointment. I prayed some more.
The first thing God did was remind me that fear of any magnitude is sin. I repented.
He then showed me that any "concern" or preoccupation we have is darkness and sin until it can be uncovered and totally in the light. I was worried about Palmer's feet. I would talk it out, look for answers and ask for God's help. I had been telling myself that everything would be fine when...He crawled, stood, wore tennis shoes, walked, turned one, etc. The Lord reminded me that the only way to dispel darkness is by getting it into the light.
I told myself I had asked the doctor about it...Light.
The Lord reminded me of the difference between a cloudy, rainy, dark day and a clear, bright, sunny one. Both are day. Both are in the light. One is marvelous light.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. " (I Peter 2:9)
I'll take the marvelous or wonderful light over dimness or dreary and gray any day!
As I rocked him that night and prayed for a quick diagnosis (or quick walking), an effective treatment (if necessary), a wise doctor whose heart would quicken in response to my pointing this "thing" out and relenting guilt for not strongly pursuing this issue earlier in his little life.
God asked me a series of questions beginning with the issue of His sovereignty. Do I really believe He is sovereign in all things? Did I entrust Palmer to Him even before he was born? Do I believe God is in control of Palmer's life? Do I believe He's sovereign in identifying any potential problems at just the right time? Do I believe He can lead us to just the right treatment or heal him instantly if He chooses? All of these I answered yes. Do I believe anything I did or did not do while earnestly seeking God in prayer could mess up His plans? No, I do not believe we can thwart God's plans no matter how many blunders we might make.
Then, I recited Palmer's life verse, his name verse, claiming it for his life once more.
"See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:16)
As I prayed I began to see and once more believe that God is totally sovereign, even in the small, personal details of our individual lives. As belief and trust and faith began to well up inside of me, I began to experience His peace. I began to once more focus on who God is and not what may or may not be wrong with my baby.
I saw the purpose of this from an eternal perspective. God wants glory. This is not my life; it is God's. This life is not about me; it is all about God. God wants to receive glory from everyone and everything even little Palmer's feet.
As I began to pray this way, the war was so clear to me. Whether my baby's feet are used to run track or to climb to mountain villages in faraway places to share the gospel, God wants to get glory from Palmer's feet. He wants my baby to live a life of service and worship that gives God glory using all of his gifts and talents...even his feet.
As I prayed for God to make his feet healthy, whole and beautiful, God spoke again.
"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)
God asked me, "How do I define "beautiful" feet?"
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, 'Your God reigns!'" (Isaiah 52:7)
There is a spiritual battle taking place over my baby's feet, over my son's purpose in life, over how this child's life will glorify God, over how his feet will be used in Christian service to glorify God.
Please pray with us as we fight for him on our knees.
"He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes (whether they are sickness, fear or worry)." (Psalm 112:7-8)
P.S. We had our first doctor's appointment this week. Our regular doctor said he would like to see him regularly until he begins to walk or until he turns eighteen- months-old. He is considered a "late" walker. I had two other "late" walkers. He said his foot position could be a sign of a balance issue, neurological problems or a muscular issue. There are a number of things it could be that would resolve themselves as he grows, develops and walks. Then again, he may need help getting there. We are getting a second opinion. Pray for wisdom, direction, peace and protection for us during this time.
And from July 4, 2007: Happy Feet
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity." Psalm 133:1 NLT
Some days I feel like there are the fights and arguments themselves and the times leading up to the fighting and quarreling among my children.
I have to remind myself that raising children requires training them in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16) and that if they exhibited the right behavior or followed the right path all the time--or even most of the time--we wouldn't have been given so much instruction in God's Word on training children.
Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it. Proverbs22:6 NLT
Webster's defines training as guiding the growth of mentally and morally and instructionally so as to make proficient. When I taught school, one key to mastery was repetition...so, each day we set out to "Do everything without arguing..." (Philippians 2:14)
We practice over and over all day long, day after day.
My children hear my common refrain, " God gave you brothers and sisters to be your friends...you get to live with your best friends...you never have to be bored or play alone. Enjoy one another. Be kind to one another. Love one another."
Isn't that every mother's desire, that her children would love one another?
Then suddenly it comes...the moment...If I'm not paying attention I can miss it. They are playing a game--together...having fun--together...singing...talking... reading...cuddling...camping...coloring...running...jumping... racing...whatever... they're just doing it together--wonderfully, happily, joyfully--together!
These are the moments I pause to savor...to say a prayer of thanks that God's truth is sinking into their souls. I love to engrave these images on my heart holding fast to the memory...my children enjoying the fruits of loving one another...of the blessing of living in unity.
I've also noticed these times are coming more and more frequently and lasting longer in our home.
They're learning to pick up where they left off the evening before, to share, to take turns, to submit to one another; quite simply, they're learning to love
It had been one of those days...the arguing kind.
I was tired. They were tired.
I was hungry. They were hungry.
It was almost dinnertime. Time to call day it and look forward to a beautiful, new tomorrow...a new beginning...a do-over.
I was feeding the baby. They were all in the kitchen.
Then I heard it...the commotion...the bickering...the rustling...the semi-explosion...the loud gasps...the snickering...the whispers...the quiet giggles...
As I carefully treaded my way to the kitchen, I saw it, an entire canister of oatmeal on the floor...on the counter...in the drawers...behind the refrigerator...everywhere.
The kids were all huddled together tightly holding hands staring at me wide-eyed. They weren't fighting or blaming or accusing or pointing any fingers. The oatmeal had hit the floor...this was serious!
The oldest spoke, "We all did it--together."
They stood silently slumped in the corner of the kitchen, waiting for me to lower the boom. I had to turn around to hide my smile...together--we did it--together...magical words...happy words...music to my ears.
"As long as we're working together," I say, "let's clean up together." One got the broom, one got the dustpan and one got the vacuum.
I felt reassured that when they need each other the most, the days the oatmeal hits the floor, my kids will pull together as a team...as friends...as a family...as brothers and sisters who love each other and will be able to see one another through any trial.
We got it...the reason God gave us brothers and sisters.
"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need." Proverbs 17:17 NLT
Whether it be sickness, loss or conflict, my hope is that they will love each other through it, remain loyal, and hold each other up when one is weak.
I pray they will learn to love one another as brothers and as friends.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Because I lived my life in fear of further rejection, always asking the question, "Who will leave me today?" I became a master of disguises.
I was the perfect student, the fun friend and the polite neighbor. I excelled at school with grades and good citizenship but when I came home at night my attitude was filled with anger, bitterness and sarcasm. These things seemed only to grow and seep out onto my mother and brother at home. After all, I had to fight to hold them inside, keep it together all day long so when I got tired, I would explode. The anxiety and frustration resulting from the fight of pursuing perfectionism would just erupt in my household. Terrible but truthful. I think somewhere deep down, I knew my mom loved me and wouldn't stop, wouldn't leave, would always believe the best about me so she took the brunt of my emotional turmoil.
When I was at my dad's house, I was polite, perfect and quiet. So very quiet. If you haven't noticed, I am really anything but quiet. It would take me many years to trust my dad with my words again and come out of the shell that my parent's divorce placed around me.
I soon came to realize that if I were well-dressed with painted fingernails, brushed hair and displayed my most feminine manners, my dad would shower me with compliments and praise. I began to place lots of importance on my outer appearance. Too much. He wanted me to make straight A's so I did. I learned that how I looked and what I accomplished were very important.
I found other ways to grab attention too. I was loud, funny and cute with my peers. The focus was always on me. How could I belong. I wanted to find identity in a group, a uniform or a status. To be a cheerleader, to be in charge of the right club and to be "popular" were my intentions.
Soon I began to find that perfection is an unreachable goal. All of my efforts toward a happy life would fail me. My feelings would betray me. No amount of compromise or conformation can produce the sense of belonging that only Jesus can give. So while the world was not giving me the yeses I so desperately needed to hear. The One who fights for me was crying out, "Yes" to my unfulfilled sense of belonging. Although I was deaf to his cries, ultimately they would carry me home.
By day the social butterfly silenced the despairing soul. By night tears overtook me in a sea loneliness. Fear would engulf me in the darkness of night. "Things would never change," my soul despaired. This pattern would continue throughout my childhood and high school and on into college.
By this point, I'd tried to make myself over many times. You know I was the cheerleader type, the preppy type, the nerd, the cowboy type, the snob. The latest effort being as a freshman at Texas A&M. All of a sudden, my grades weren't very good, my social life was in ruins, I couldn't make my boyfriend love me or the right groups extend me invitations. I had run from the rules I'd always lived by in the Bible. I felt terrible knowing I'd failed and would eventually disappoint everyone, especially God and my mother, but had no idea how to release myself to start once again. I'd tried all the Christian groups, churches and Bible studies that college had to offer. I knew that others had found fulfillment and direction in trusting Christ but it appeared that he didn't want to use or bless someone as unwantable as me. For some reason it seemed my life was so much less than all those around me. Salvation was the only prayer Jesus had ever answered me with a yes. And, I'd reached a point where I needed survival and sanity in my everyday life. Salvation seemed so far away. I thanked God for saving me from hell but begged him to save me from daily life.
Decisions paralyzed me. The future scared me. Nothing was going according to my plan for a bright future. I felt awkward, unconfident and insecure when I was left to make my own choices. I didn't make very good ones my freshman year. Even though my ears were deaf to His cries, the One who fights for me was crying out "yes" over my life, protecting and not deserting, defending and not destroying. My eyes were blind to see it but as I look back I can see provision and sustenance in such color that only the hand of Providence could have painted it across my life.
With adulthood looming. I had absolutely no idea who I was currently, how could I be expected to decide what I wanted to become? The pressure was overwhelming to me. I couldn't stop the tears. Ever. I felt like giving up, throwing in the towel, quitting. But if I did, where would I go? For the summer I went home. This is where Jesus pierced my heart with the love and belonging I'd always desired.
Our youth minister was recruiting counselors for summer camp. He asked me. I said, "Yes." It would be the first yes of many that summer. The second was at midnight the night before the bus left. I had the first heart-to-heart I'd ever had with God. I was at the end of my rope. I told God that if there was anything inside of me that he saw useful to please use it that next week at camp. I confessed that I thought me teaching kids about his character was a joke. I wasn't even quite sure of his goodness myself. Beyond heaven, my life was in a broken mess. I asked God what good going to heaven was if I didn't know how to live on earth. I begged him to use my ruins. I invited him to change me.
Little did I know He'd already said yes. He'd said it from the beginning of my life when he was the One who fought for me, he'd said it when my daddy left as he became my Father who'd never leave, he'd said it while I cried myself to sleep every night as the Comforter of every sorrow. He was saying yes to me that night as Rescuer of the rejected. I had no idea I'd just prepared myself to experience one of the greatest moments of my life.
It was only an instant, really. During worship at that camp one night, I witnessed an amazing sight. One of my friends was worshipping God the way I dreamed I would love him. Eyes closed, face lifted in awe, oblivious to anyone or anything else. I felt His tug. I prayed,"Lord, I want that." I was desperate to love Him with the love I'd never felt before but never stopped longing for all my life. I was desperate to get, to live and to give the Love that was crying "yes" over my life.
That week he used me. He filled me. He changed me. He began calling me to a greater purpose with a voice I was beginning to recognize. Hearing that voice has given me strength. A strength that causes me to move. A strength that says no to paralyzing fear and yes to the Providence of God. Because He did and He does answer my prayers.
He taught me that week. He taught me how to ask for things in accordance with His will. He simply stepped into the world of a perfectionist and changed my desires. That's when I heard his yes. I saw his yes. I experienced his yes. His yes became mine.
"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete." John 16:24
And, the rest, as they say, is history...His story...in me.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Dear self of last decade,
My kids are 9, 7, 5 and 3(as of next week). Yes, number 4 is technically a preschooler. However, last year I had a revelatory moment where one thing became clear to me. No matter how many more babies joined our family, the days of being at home with preschoolers were over for me. Over. **sniff, sniff**
Yes, I am one of "those"mothers. The ones who from the tender age of 8 decided I would be a mommy when I grew up and carry babies all the time. There was only one thing that rocking Baby Tender Love and feeding Baby Alive failed to prepare me for. Real babies grow into school aged children. Children with opinions and emotions and habits and character.
I loved the days of waking up, donning sweats and never looking in the mirror. I loved the feeling that came when a touch of my hand or the sound of my voice stilled their every cry. I rocked babies a lot, sang and danced in the kitchen and desperately wanted my babies to feel loved and nurtured. I made it a point on days that I consciously made choices to rock, hold or cuddle a baby over mopping the floor or scrubbing the sink to write it in my journal. I want to look back and have as few regrets as possible.
Even with the no regrets motto, I still did plenty wrong. Many, many days and weeks and months were spent in "survival mode" because I was tired. Very tired.
It has taken me years to learn that putting my husband before my children's needs is actually allowing my children's needs to take top priority. When my husband feels as if he's being respected by my words and actions and that his goals are my own goals, everyone flourishes in our home. Still, easier said than done. I wish I would've taken the rubberband out of my hair and worn that cute skirt to our dinner table a little more in those days. My man thinks it's important.
I wish I would've really, really listened to him. I wish I would've held the same views on extra activities, play groups, clothes, pictures and discipline. I tend to be indulgent while he's not home. Obeying his rules when he's gone has made a huge difference. I am slowly learning that whatever Daddy's standard is, that's what I am to train my children to become. (See any spiritual truths there?)
I made naptime a huge goal. Getting all two or three or four children to sleep at the same time was paramount. That was "me" time. Time I planned for each day. Time to wash clothes, do dishes, read, write, study the Bible, shower. When it didn't happen, I became angry and frustrated.
I made a commitment to God about my time just this year. If any of the five other people in this house are awake, it is their time, not mine. If that happens before 10:00 at night or after 6:30 in the morning, it's a bonus. I wish I would've been more flexible with that when they were at home all day. When three slept, why didn't I read to the one or create a pretty picture with the other? Well, again, I was tired. So very tired.
I constantly reasoned with myself that if I only had one at home there would be more quality time. The reality is that I now have one at home, the battles are the same. This is where the shift happened. School-aged children have a different set of needs. The time is even more limited and the car happens to be our home on most days. **wink, wink**
I remember the day that God spoke several blessings to my heart about having my kids so close together in age. They don't fight much. They play lots. They rely on each other, often more than they rely on me. They challenge each other in ways I could never challenge them with their different personalities and their birth order. Choose the blessings over the harder to live with things and don't sweat what you can't change.
I always had a week long plan for a spotless house (Anybody heard of Fly Lady?). After number three it became a biweekly plan. After number four, I burned the plan. I let a "dirty" house keep me from entertaining and practicing hospitality far more than I should have.
I let "the way I always dreamed it would be" rule decisions that I made instead of asking God to reveal the way He says it should be and change the way of my heart.
I have realized that I had stretches that were good, easy, enjoyable, all by the grace of God and many Godly older women, and then there were the growing phases. The months that I had no playgroup, the months a certain child cried everyday...all day and all night...every night, the months that I couldn't hear God's voice in the midst of the child-filled chaos that was my home. That goes back to the issue of my time. I have come to a point now where I want to hear His voice more than I desire a good night's sleep or any night's sleep at all. I sleep less, much less. Yet, I hear Him more and I hear him consistently. I wish I would've read the Bible when I nursed each baby instead of watching the television. (I started this with #4)
Practically, I wish I would've been prepared for all the stuff. Mountains of stuff invaded my house. Then in just a few short weeks or months the baby would outgrow it. How I just wanted to be rid of the stuff. How I wanted space. Nothing touching me. Open places in an already cramped house (Okay, I still long for this but am repenting by the minute). I wish I would've had a storage system, filing system, any system for that matter, in place for all the stuff. Seriously. I didn't. Still don't know exactly how I would fix it, I just wish I had. Example, I got rid of my daughter's Polly Pockets. She didn't play with them and I kept sucking up their cute, little stylish shoes with the vacuum. Why didn't I store them in a plastic container until she was a little older? Because sure enough, she asked for them. And, the mother guilt appeared.
Here's a list of other mother guilt regrets (however, I know in heaven my memory will be perfect and there will be no need for a scrapbook): far too few home videos, no scrapbooks of babies 2 or 3, no photos of baby 3, throwing away Polly Pockets and other momentarily unwanted objects of desire, being too tired to read, pray, sing or cuddle to sleep babies, letting my survival (or lack thereof) affect my loved ones in any way, and there are more. So many more. And, about the mother guilt, don't. waste. the. time. or. energy. going. there.
Despite my many shortcomings, I clung to my mantra during this time. "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11
Through it all, we managed to talk with our kids about Jesus every time we got a chance. Still do. We weren't perfect but we did make it a priority. Still do. We have managed to pray for them daily giving them over God on a regular basis and trusting He will use us, even in our weaknesses, to fulfill His grand purposes in their little lives. We take time regularly to monitor our progress. God is so faithful!
Really, it does go by so quickly. I never thought it would end but time is marching forward and this newer season is just as exciting, thrilling and challenging!
And, Missy, I'm giddy just thinking of all the treasures I'll glean from this too. Thanks!
Thursday, February 05, 2009
I've never felt like God took me to any point in my life via the shortest route. Walking, reading, riding a bike, driving, college graduation, marriage, children and ministry have all happened later than I had imagined they would. Basically, milestones, in my life, are met in a roundabout sort of way even though I consider myself to be a very straight shooter.
Today what I've always seen as deprivation became provision, rejection became protection and hesitation became preparation.
To protect them from going back to the lifestyle from which He had delivered them. To save them from being devastated by fighting a battle they were not ready to win.
I was so busy straining to focus on all I wanted, to see forward, I forgot to look back. He has been there all along. Protecting me. I just couldn't see that until now.
the people you have redeemed.
In your might, you guide them
to your sacred home."
Wednesday, February 04, 2009