Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sister, Friend or Foe?

This has been a good start to an awesome week.  Some of my bloggy friends are bemoaning the fact that they have no VBS, no MDO, no camps, summer schools or activities this week.

I am rejoicing, doing a happy dance and singing the Hallelujah Chorus that tomorrow is the last day of summer school.  

My children usually play pretty well together.  Fighting is usually minimal in our house until someone is tired, bored or hungry as the mother's rule states.  When one feels slighted or needy sibling rivalry rears its ugly head.

Being on the run has made my children yearn for long days at home pretending with one another.  They are begging me just to play with each other.

This week has been pure bliss.

Saturday Andrew and I announced our plan to buy the boys bunk beds.  Excitement was in the air!  Bunk beds.  Forts.  Secret clubs.  Jumping and climbing.  Fun that pushes the limits.  That's what kids think about bunk beds.  My four are no exception.

Sunday we purchased said bunk beds.

Sunday evening at dinner my girls announced their newly hatched plan.  They would be sharing a room starting now.  They would even share clothes in an effort to get all their belongings in one tiny bedroom.  They picked the pieces of furniture from their two rooms that would make the "coolest" tween hangout.  Their BFF status would soon be so convincing that Andrew and I would be running to the closest store to buy them bunk beds too!

Sounds like a foolproof plan to me.

They don't know this but it could become a much stronger argument, fortified and solidified really, if they had just suggested that I use the "extra" bedroom for myself.  My haven of peace.  A sunny room with a comfy couch with a place for my new BFF my Macbook.  A space where all things have a place.  A place where animal prints, sunflowers and all things pink abound.  I could totally buy into that.

I could.  And because of that, I am actually considering it.  They picked a good time to ask as we are rearranging and sprucing up right now anyway.  Then I think of last week around here. 
Mortal enemies they were.  Bitter enemies.

This week best of friends.  That's what a sister is.  I'm learning this sister thing.  

This week is the week I prayed for.  I think I'll go enjoy it.

"How pleasant it is when (sisters) live together in unity...and love one another deeply with your whole heart." Psalm 133:1 & 1 Peter 1:22

Monday, June 29, 2009

Sorting Laundry and Books

As you may or may not have noticed I've been strangely absent from the Internet world lately.  Usually that means one thing.  My house is sparkling.

Rest assured, that is not the case.  We have started clean up and clean out phase two.  Drawers, closets and hiding spaces are being decluttered and downsized once again.  I mean.  Twice in one year might be a record.  I can't believe I have so much more stuff to get rid of.  Kidding people.  Kidding.  There is plenty more where that came from.  I promise.

Remember I now have a new computer.  Loving it.  Still in the dating, infatuation and getting to know you stage so pardon any weirdness that I do not yet know how to correct.

I promised myself I would start tapping out all of these wonderfulness that is inside my head tonight.  But alas, I decided to fold the laundry.  I haven't gotten this far behind since before I met Elizabeth.  Seriously.  I would take you a picture but then I wouldn't know how to share it.  New computer.  New camera.  Technical novice.

But trust me, it's a ton.  So much that I'm sitting on the couch with my arms propped up on laundry, my feet propped up on laundry and I'm staring at, you guessed it, laundry.  Neatly folded.  Of course.

We started cleaning and hauling this weekend.  The painting will commence soon.  The plans are underway.  Pray.  Please pray.

This week has been insanely crazy.  It's been hot.  Really hot.  It doesn't bother me much except it has made me so stinkin' tired this week.  So here I sit amidst the laundry determined to post something on this here neglected blog.

The heat, work, vacation Bible school and the housework all made me a little cranky and tired this week.  Plus the fact that my wonderful husband hijacked both my old and new computers all week to set me up.  Which, in fact, was extremely kind, loving and heroic of him but slightly inconvenient to me at times.  I was feeling a little burned out and overwhelmed all week. 

I share that with you so you will not only know I am, in fact, totally human but also so you know what a totally perfect, loving and compassionate God I serve.

You see as I was cleaning out yet another shelf of books to take to Half Price Books, I opened one up I had never read before.  All the while, my weary brain was trained on the fact that I feel completely burned out.  Right as I was thinking that my perfect vacation choice of the moment would be a deserted beach...Alone...I opened the previously unread book.  This is what I saw.

"Because of my great love for you I will not allow you to burn out or be consumed.  My compassions and mercies for you are new every day.  Watch me do a new thing!  I will make a way in the desert and provide streams in the wasteland of your life.  Be confident that I'll complete the good work I've begun in you."
--from Lamentations 3:22-23; Isaiah 43:19; Philippians 1:6

Just a word from the Lord renews the weariest of souls.  Weary of laundry and other mundane duties that are never finished is where I started the day.  Confident in His ability to see me through is where I end it.

After I put the laundry away.  All of it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I'm Baaa-aaack!

New computer + Broken camera + Busy week + Tired me = Scooting to bed as soon as possible each night, no post of pictures when there's not time to write, no computer access and absent from bloggyland me

It's good to be back, people. Good to be back!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Instant Beauty

Have you ever lived in a certain spot for so long you never thought things would become any different? Have you ever cried out to the Lord, "How long?" Have you ever wondered if any beauty at all will ever come from your ashes?

I was thinking on how so much has changed so quickly in my life. In an instant things I've been praying about for years started turning. Turning quickly.

When we are in the wait, the wait seems so long. Yet, when we are in the new part of the new beginning, things seem to change so quickly. I like quick changes.

Sometimes I have to get used to new.

Lately, though, I crave new.

I just can't wait to see what my next new adventure is.

Today I am publicly thanking Him for making all things beautiful in their time.

Although, it's been years, it's all happened in an instant.

What new beauty are you anticipating?

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Ecclesiastes 3:11

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Imagine That!

Have yall seen the new Eddie Murphy movie, Imagine That? You've at least seen the trailer and the pancake scene, right?
It inspired my daughter to fix us this for breakfast today.

At least it was a tad more appetizing than the movie version.

Apron Strings

"Ahaziah also followed the evil example of King Ahab's family, for his mother encouraged him in doing wrong." 2 Chronicles 22:3

As I read Ahaziah's account, I was deeply saddened. He did evil in the Lord's sight. At the encouragement of his mother! Those were some strong apron strings!

As mothers, we have a strong influence over our sons. When Ahaziah was crowned king he was only twenty-two years old, an age when most young men are still single. My friend's eighteen-year-old son just made a comment that his mother "was the only woman in his life."

That is how it should be, a wonderful blessing, before a man gets married. Ahaziah's mother abused the trust in the mother/son relationship by manipulating her son, the king, and his decisions for her own evil desires.

The beautiful closeness between a mother and son gets twisted and ugly if a mother refuses to let her son go into the arms of his bride. The husband is called to put his wife's well-being above that of his own...and that of his mother and extended family.

We've all seen damage done when a mother is unwilling to "cut the apron strings." I have even heard of many godly women giving a pair of cut apron strings to the future daughter-in-law as a wedding gift as if to say, "He's yours now. I'll willingly remove my influence to make room for yours."

Ahaziah may not have even recognized how his mother was manipulating him to get her way. Women are so good at that, aren't we? Or maybe he did recognize it but his mother made his life so miserable that he just gave in to her whims. Women are great at "punishing" the "poor" choices of others too, aren't we?

Well, women can be all of these things very easily. My mother's heart prays daily for my future daughters-in-law for I know the influence they will have over my sons. A beautiful influence and a godly one I pray. As I trust the Lord with my someday grown boys, I pray they will do only goodness at the encouragement of their mother. And, someday at the encouragement of their wives.

As I look at the relationship between Ahaziah and his mother and their involvement with the Ahab's family I'm reminded of two things.

"Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands," 1 Peter 3:3-5

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Healing for Then...and Now

"But though Naaman was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy." 2 Kings 5:1

Reminds me of the Apostle Paul's infamous thorn in the flesh. (2 Corinthians 12:7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.)

Kinda reminds me of my own failures, shortcomings and weaknesses.

Disease, sickness, weakness all placed in us to make Him stronger in our lives.

Sometimes it can be so easy, yet so difficult to receive the healing we so desperately desire.

Naaman expected Elisha to heal him by waving his hands over him and calling on the name of the Lord. Because Naaman didn't like the cure God was providing him with (to simply dip himself in the Jordan River seven times), he stormed off in anger.

Luckily, Naaman had some good friends who were very wise. They told him he was prepared to do whatever difficult thing Elisha requested so they instructed Naaman to obey. Simply obey.

"So Naaman went...and he was healed!" 2 Kings 5:14

How many times is our healing wrapped up in simple obedience? All too often our pride stiffens at His request. We want an in-depth explanation as to why we are in this mess. We want to think we have lived there because the solution to getting out was too difficult for us to master. The truth is it's as simple as saying one word. Yes. To God.

Tired of feeling rejected? Reach out and have fellowship with someone. Tired of hating your marriage? Lovingly submit to your husband. Tired of bitterness gnawing at your soul? Forgive. Tired of shallow relationships? Quit gossiping and start speaking the truth. Tired of a negative attitude and a heart lacking joy? Stop complaining and find blessing for which to praise God. Tired of your life? Seek God for new direction.

Change is as simple as taking hold of the hand that's always extended to you. The hand that's waiting to dip you in the living water and raise you up to a new way of life.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Cliff

Driving to the Gateway Retreat, my friend Loretta and I kept joking about how we were on this amazing journey with the Lord and it felt a lot like driving off a cliff. The feeling we both had in the pit of our stomachs was like we were suspended in midair waiting for a parachute to open.

Saying yes to God is a thrill mixed with a little adrenalin. There's the wait. The time between when you say yes and when He does what He says He will do.

That's what we're referring to as "the cliff."

I know my God well enough to know that when He asked me to speak, He already had a word He wanted to deliver. With or without little ole me, His purposes will be fulfilled. After all, He's God. His word will surely be heard by those who wish to listen.

Back in April, I told my friend, Loretta that I wanted her to come with me and pray for the ladies at this retreat. I felt like God wanted to minister to the ladies of Gateway and He wanted to use her to do it.

She told me very quietly that she'd think about it and let me know. After a little conversation with God, she said yes. I was excited!

Just a few days before the actual retreat, I called and asked Loretta to lead worship for us.

Her humble response was, "Well, I'm willing but I've never done that before."

God mightily showed up, pulled a wonderful weekend together from our hectic, technically challenged lives and changed hearts. Maybe both of ours more than any ladies in attendance as we relied on Him in new ways. Together.

God orchestrated a prayer team of some of my closest friends and retreat buddies. These ladies don't just love retreats. They love the Lord, have a deep, intimate, daily relationship with Him and have a passion to impart God's healing hand to other women.

Each of these women have experienced major healing in their lives. And I've been there to cheer for them! Each of these women love me unconditionally. They've known me for many years. One, my mother and the other, my college roommate.

And Loretta. Loretta is a friend I've known for years and with whom I've shared many deep heartaches and victories. However, we've not done much daily life together.

This weekend changed that.

All weekend the song by Steven Curtis Chapman kept running through my head, "Saddle up your horses. We've got a trail to blaze through the wild blue yonder and God's amazing grace...This is the great adventure."

Then the famous Thelma and Louise scene over the cliff.

But that was only because of the car.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Mountaintop

I've often said I love those mountaintop experiences with the Lord. I need them. We need them. They help us to keep on keeping the faith when times get rough.

In order to experience God in a face to face way, we need to do some things.

We need to set.

First we need to set our junk aside. Our problems, our wish lists and our expectations must go so we can be ready for what God has.

Then we need to set our hearts on Him. Whatever it is we want, we must want Him more.

Psalm 119:2 "Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are they who...seek, inquire for and of Him and crave Him with the whole heart."

Now we are prepared to seek Him. We must come to Him with expectant hearts ready to take in His presence.

Jeremiah 29:3 "When you come looking for me, you'll find me, "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."

The simple truth is we only seek Him because He sought us first.

John 15:16 "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."

Once He's revealed Himself to us, we soak in His goodness, listen for His whisper and receive His revelation.

The more we learn to soak by developing silence and solitude in our lives, the more prepared we are to hear His voice. When we begin to cultivate silence and quiet in our lives, they bleed into our hearts. Then even when our life is loud, our soul can meet with God in the quiet place.

We must build solitude in our lives to possess it in our soul. This is where we find rest.

Once we have shared intimacy with our Lord, we can't help but to share His great love with others.

There are many blessings from the mountain and strength to continue the journey is found when He speaks.

Psalm 118:19-21 "Open for me the gates where the righteous enter and I will go in and thank the Lord. These gates lead to the presence of the Lord and the godly enter there. I thank you for answering my prayer and giving me victory."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Door

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:6

For most of my life I've prayed a certain prayer. I've asked God to spare me from suffering. I want my life to be filled with pleasant places. And, of course, I think I know what that means. So

I've promised Him I'd hear His whisper.

I don't need drastic situations to learn hard lessons. I don't need desperation to hang on to Him desperately. I love mountaintop experiences. I could stay where the view is good. I don't need the storms of life to be transformed. I've always promised to be an easy learner.

Yet, I've come to see my low spots as invitations. It's when I'm struggling the most that I can feel His presence calling me deeper.

Listening to Focus on the Family a few months ago, I heard a doctor share his testimony. He had prayed a similar prayer and God had answered. He had a great marriage, grown children who followed the Lord, a thriving practice and was growing old full of joy and happiness.

Then he got cancer.

He begged and begged and begged and begged God to heal him. He promised to never take life itself for granted again and learned many deep lessons as he struggled through cancer and its hard treatments. Deep lessons that he said he may not have learned any other way. Eventually it became evident that God may not heal him in the physical sense before he went to heaven.

He became okay with that. Even good.

Instead of resisting the cancer and his weak, diseased body, he befriended the suffering. Thus joining the Lord more closely than ever before.

One day in his personal time with God, he felt God's whisper in his heart, "I'll heal you if you want. Just say the word." His response,

"I want You more."

Scripture tells us He was intimately acquainted with suffering.
Isaiah 53:3 says, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Our own suffering are invitations to join Him in suffering. An invitation to go with him to a familiar place.

Coming down the mountain into the valley, wanting to stay low because climbing high is hard.

Even though I know the only way out is a hard climb that will all be so worth it, I still pause before I engage with Him. He stands at the door waiting. Longing to walk with me, hand in hand, carrying me up at the steepest and most rocky points.

Slowly I come. Not because I want relief from my sufferings. I do.

Yet, I want Him more.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Climb

A friend of mine recently made a comment on Facebook in the form of a redneck joke. It went something like this, "If you find more wisdom in a country song than the Word of God, you might be an unsaved redneck."

Now, being from Aggieland, Texas I thought this was laugh-my-socks-off funny. Country music contains lots of advice, lots of emotion and lots of life. But wisdom? More than the Bible?

I don't think so.

Just typing that makes me laugh again. When I think of the country song, I think of Mama getting run over by a train, tears in my beers and peanuts in my Coke.

She got quite an uproar from some of her "friends" and I wasn't quite sure if people were saying that they sought country music for words of wisdom or if picking a fight was the purpose of their comments. Either way I didn't feel like the comment was targeted at anyone in particular but just an observation of the trendy but faulty belief systems that are short-changing America.

The irony in this redneck joke is that I just spent an entire weekend teaching a Biblical message using Miley Cyrus' song The Climb as one of my main references. Because when supported by scripture there can be beautiful and sound advice in many areas of art and life. Even in country music.

For the most part I have always lived my life for the next high. I love life on the mountaintop where God's hand is evident and his voice is loud. I've always begged him to let me live here where life is good and so is God. No question.

I distinctly remember thinking in high school that when I graduate my life will be great. I thought the same thing about college, getting married, changing jobs and having babies.

Now it's no secret that nearing forty is difficult for me. Hard to swallow because I'm not sure I have any more mountains I'm gazing at. I've never even thought about life after babies. It's a blank.

The truth is after I graduated, married, mothered newborns and reached all those things on my personal list of fulfillment I most certainly remained unfulfilled. As a matter of fact, some of these things that I expected to bring me bliss only delivered emptiness to the doorstep of my heart.


Because I expected to find rest in a life achievement. The beauty of Christ is that we can have rest in the wake of life's path. Rest in the midst of life's heartaches and disapointments. True rest. I had yet to learn that the journey is the destination. The process is the purpose.
As Miley says:

I can almost see it

That dream I'm dreaming but

There's a voice inside my head saying

You'll never reach it...

There's always going to

be another mountain...

Always going to be an uphill battle...

Ain't about how fast I get there or what's'

Waiting on the other side.

It's the climb.

As I walk with the Lord over time I have begun to realize it's not about reaching the top of the mountain.

It's the climb.

"What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord, who have set their hearts and minds on a pilgrimage." Psalm 84:5

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Flow of Summer

I am feeling the obligation to post something here in case I have any readers left after my crazy dive into summer. I do long to share my weekend with you. After all, it was amazing and in a large part that was due to you and your prayers, bloggy friends.

Earlier last week I received an email from a friend that I admire much yet talk with little due to the fact we live in different places. However, the crazy world of Facebook has made keeping up easier and well, way more fun. Her email went something like this, "Lisa, just open up your mouth and let your gift flow out from you."

How did God know that was exactly what I needed to hear at that exact moment? Let me explain.

The weeks preceding the Gateway Ladies Retreat were incredibly cra-zy. Just so many school ceremonies and end-of-the-school-year needs not to mention my quest to find the perfect summer sitter and entertain the children as our schedules changed and shifted in an attempt to adjust quickly to summer time. Whoo! Makes me tired trying to relive it all in type!

I felt the Lord giving me a message to share. In my mind this message took a clear form with a nice, neat, make-your-English-teacher-smile outline. In reality it took on something-resembling-a-rambling-somewhat-cohesive-but-lacking-in-detail outline.

In short, God threw this retreat together! He placed me in a position to fully rely on Him and He did it. Just as He said He would when He called me to this place in January.

We serve an amazing God who loves each and everyone of us enough to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine. That's how the retreat was.

I will fill you all in more as I return to my bloggy routine. Now that laundry's under control, schedules are flowing and sweet, relaxing, summertime laughter fill my home. Along with ice cream. Lots of ice cream.

I'm going to get some ice cream.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Friday, June 05, 2009

Weekends and Gates

Tomorrow I leave to minister to the ladies of Gateway Fellowship. I am excited about what God has planned. I am excited to go. I am honored to go.

God has a special calling for the ladies of Gateway. He is so awesome that He would take a story old as time and tailor it for these special ladies. I pray my words would be the perfect mix of old story and fresh word.

But, we all know the truth, "It's caught not taught." I don't have to do anything and God would be faithful enough to do His great life-transforming work.

Would you join me in prayer asking God to show up in a mighty way for the ladies taking time out of their busy lives to seek Him?

Hosea 2:14
"I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there..."

Pray God would take our low places, our failures, our sorrows, our troubles and use them to invite us deeper, through The Gate. He is The Way.

John 10:9
"I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved."

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

My New Friend

So, I've been on Google Reader for an hour reading all your newness. Just basking in the glory of all my bloggy girlfriends. I really want to visit all my bloggy friends personally. I do. I do. But right now I don't have the time.

I'm so crazy busy. Still. Well, I did find a solution to my laundry pile problem. It's a nine-year-old solution. She also really loves the feather duster. And the mop.

She doesn't love her room so much but those other things are a big help. My morning was very productive in a nesting sort of way.

Also, I have so much to tell you. I really really do. Really. But I just found out I have a condition. It's not as rare as I once thought. Angela also had a recent case of brain fizzle.

She states, "Brain Fizzle is a cousin of Writer's Block. Unlike its cousin, Brain Fizzle victims easily find topic ideas and the words necessary to discuss them. However, those with brain fizzle think of so many items at one time that the ideas stop bubbling and fizzle out."

I think my brain will stop fizzling when my schedule is ummmmm,...rhythmic and steady. It's getting there but uhhh, not quite. I've had a week filled with many blessings and some unexpected twists and turns. But thankfully, I do feel closer to the summertime routine I crave. Next week. Next week.

Please pray for me as I prepare to speak at a retreat this weekend. I'll fill you all in tomorrow.

For tonight, I'm signing off as I'm getting up way early to have coffee with a friend. Decaf, of course, but if I ever wanted caffeine it's gonna be tomorrow.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Crazy Dreams

My life is a whirlwind right now and tomorrow looks crazy as well. I know I'll already be running late when I wake up in the morning...Not that I'll wake up late but that you have to do certain things during normal waking hours and I quite simply don't have enough of those.

I just need a few more hours of daytime so that I can run as far as I want, make as many calls as I need and get all my groceries in one long trip.

My days are full of fast movements and quick turns. I feel like I'm driving fast on a hilly road holding on for dear life. Crazy. But that's tomorrow. For now, I sit reflecting on my today.

Earlier I did what any sane mother who had no time would do. I took my children to see Up.

Now I had already read some reviews and even heard part of the story. I knew to expect to cry. I just didn't know how much.

The movie was absolutely fabulous. I cried all the way through it. I even laughed while I was crying and I can't stop thinking about all the wonderfulness in the story. I am taking Andrew back to see it. I think it is the most romantic movie I've seen in many years. Who knew cartoons and classical music could tell such a heartwarming and heartbreaking tale?

I won't spoil it but I will tell you that I learned many lessons in Up and I'm sure many more as I continue to think on this inspiring story.

As I watched Up, I saw a boy with a dream become a man with a plan. I watched that man mature into someone that saw the value of time and risks, although a little too late. I saw a desperate old man willing to go to great measures to make his dreams come true and in the process learned many truths.

Sometimes it doesn't always look like you imagined.

Dreaming dreams true takes courage and outside-the-box thinking.

True love inspires us to movement.

Intrusions, annoyances and distractions are not always what they seem.

The end doesn't always justify the means.

The stuff that defines our dreams must be let go of so that our dreams can spread their wings and fly.

You can go further when you let go.

It's okay if the vision changes along the way.

Just because it turns out a little differently doesn't mean you've failed.

Sometimes the dream is right before your eyes and you just can't see it.

I loved this movie more than my children did. They loved it. I loved, loved it. I'll share more after I take Andrew.

Take a break from the chaos. Go see Up and be inspired.