Thursday, September 30, 2010

Organizationally Challenged

I am organizationally challenged.

This week, just like most of the others, has had its interruptions. Take yesterday for example, I was pretty impressed with myself when by noon I had picked up the parts of the house on my list, dinner was simmering on the stove and I was completely dressed. Successful day, right?

One would think so, until we went to Wal Mart. While cruising the aisles at Wally World, I decide that since I’ve jumped on the organizing train over at Renee’s blog, I would buy this nifty under-the-bed organizing system. I would take half my closet, put it under my bed and solve all mu organizational challenges. I was super pumped. Dinner, make up and organization. What a day!

Then the afternoon happened. Nothing really over-the-top or spectacular occurred to rock my world. It was the day that just kept giving. Kids, homework, activities, friends, dinner, dishes, laundry, homework.

And that nifty organizational system that was gonna make my life spectacular? Didn’t even come close to fitting under my bed. I pushed and pushed and pushed. There’s no way it’s even wedging under there, folks. So I’m off to find another system that will solve my lack of domestic organizational skills.


I will post pictures of this closet chaos before I start. It may not be this week as I’m running on little sleep. This week is so busy I actually wrote the word, “breathe,” on my calendar next week!

I love how Renee said that we were created for beauty, peace and order because we are to be like God. For the first time I saw the relationship between my struggles and my surroundings on a different level. The Bible says that God does not like disorder but he loves peace.

I saw how disorder breeds chaos in my heart. When I thought of the disorderly places in my home, like my closet, my desk pile and my pantry, I thought of confusion, chaos and waste. When I think of having these areas organized I think of peace, order and efficiency.

I now have more than just desire to get these areas whipped into shape. I want to have not only a peaceful home but a peaceful heart.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Next Choice

One bad choice doesn’t have to lead to another bad choice. I preach this to my children, to myself, each day. We have power over our next decision.

So many times I oversleep, yell at the kids to hurry up and get dressed only to eat junk food for breakfast, forget to wash the uniform needed after school and so I keep right on yelling until bedtime at which point I decide to eat two brownies since it’s been such a hard day.


It’s true. I set the tone for my household. When I’m calm, organized and prepared, my children flourish. When I’m tired, stressed and overextended, so are my kids. When I’m cranky, they fight. When I make healthy food choices, so do they.

I can also change the tone in my house. When I realize I’m grumpy, I can choose to smile, tell a funny story, laugh at the radio or hug someone. It lightens the mood. Just because I oversleep doesn’t mean I can’t eat a healthy breakfast or give my children the help they need to get ready for school.

When I make my next choice a good one, I am showing my children how we as Christians have the power to change things. Sometimes change is found in perspective. Sometimes change is found in actions.

Either way, we must draw from the Life deposited in our souls. We must choose to live by our new nature in Christ. I want to use the Power at work within me and prove to others one bad choice doesn’t have to lead to another bad choice. We do have power over our decisions. Make the next one a good one.

 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. Romans 6:7 NLT

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shoe Tales

Since we are telling stories, I remembered another shoe tale from a couple years ago. This story was the birth of Palmer’s nasty Old Navy orange and black “Halloween” flip flops. They were birthed out of necessity and yes, still worn.

We spent the Fourth of July at beautiful Lake Travis with some friends. Old and new.

Listening to the laughter of nine kids splashing in the lake was fun! Fearing one of my children was going to fall and bust it on a rock really badly, not so fun.

Watching the children float on the tube, try tricks and have a blast was fun! Seeing them bust it when the tube flipped, not fun at all.

Eating a meal sitting in the lawn chair soaking up some sun was fun! Carting enough stuff to stay there three days only to move it all again in three hours, not so fun.

Watching fireworks on the water was fun! Waiting hours to get the boat out of the water and up the ramp at the end of the day, not so fun.

Packing lightly and carrying bags up to the hotel was well, easy. Discovering that out of nine children three lost shoes in the lake and they were all my kids, not fun. Waiting until noon on Sunday for Old Navy next to our hotel to open so I could buy them new shoes, inconvenient, not fun.

Staying at a hotel with an awesome breakfast was fun. Having to leave before I was ready, not fun.

Coming home to a clean house was awesomely fun! Seeing it torn up after a good hour, not so much.

We had a great weekend. Makes me want to say it again, "I love summer!"

Today I’m heading to a boat tour with Andrew’s office. Looking at houses on the water with friends will be fun! Wearing a big coat and getting introduced to the lake’s wind chill factor in September, not so much.

I still miss summer!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Crazy Times

We had a full weekend. Andrew celebrated turning 40 by skydiving!! Yeah, my husband jumped out of a plane and didn’t leave me a widow so I celebrated just a bit too.

The skydiving place was so crowded and so busy it completely minimized the fact that people were jumping out of a plane. They took a plane of about twelve people every twenty minutes and we had to wait two hours. They said they were packed until after 7:00 that night and we got there at 11:00 AM. It felt more like waiting in line to ride a roller coaster at an amusement park. Weird. I’m still thinking on that one.

The comic relief happened on Sunday morning. We decided to go to early church because watching the Texans game was one of Andrew’s birthday activities. We actually did it. When we arrived at the church people were still actually going inside, the golf carts were still driving people to the door and we were a tad elated. This was the first time in history we have made it to early church before the sermon has started.

The giant golf cart stopped at our car and we all piled out of the car and onto the golf cart. Except the boys. Andrew called from the full-of-people cart, “What’s the problem?”

Hunter’s little head pokes out the back door, “Palmer forgot his shoes.”

The entire cart erupted in laughter. I even had a good belly laugh. Sometimes laughing at yourself (or your inability to parent) is the best kind of heart medicine.

Palmer was embarrassed. He didn’t want to get out of the car and kept whispering in my ear that he wanted to go back home. In his defense, his red and white football socks matched his red shirt really, really well. At home we had all commented on how great his socks looked with his outfit. You know, they could've been the purple spider socks that match nothing. So I wasn't really upset at all. He matched. Yaay!

It made me think back to raising three preschoolers while I was pregnant with Palmer. The girls never wore shoes. Anywhere. We were attending a small church at the time and everyone knew that the kids with no shoes were the Smiths. Funny how some rest and a few years not being eternally nausea and pregnant can give you a little perspective. In my defense it was summer and their flip flops were in my purse. They just always came off the second their little feet hit the carpet.

One of the ways I knew my children were growing up was how they just woke up and got fully dressed without complaining about it one day.

So it is true what they say. Your child will wear clothes, be potty trained, or (you fill in the blank) before they go to college.

"Don't you see that children are God's best gift?" Psalm 127:3a The Msg

Happy parenting!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Meeting Needs

Lately I feel stretched. The kids are needy. The husband is needy. Heck, I'm even needy these days. Fall routine has pulled us apart and we need each other. We just need to be met where we are. Being needy reminds me of this story.

Jesus is the Bread of Life.

He feeds the 5,000 in order to demonstrate who he is.

"When the people saw this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, "Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!" John 6:14

There are so many truths to be learned from this one miracle.

Have you ever felt like there were masses of people around you all needing something, all needing too many things for you to supply at one time, things you couldn't give?

I feel this way all too often. My husband, my children and those in my sphere of influence who make up each close relationship in my life all need things from me. Sometimes just five hungry people overwhelm me. I can't imagine five thousand!

This must have been how the disciples felt when Jesus told them to feed five thousand hungry people who had come to hear Jesus teach. They must have been thinking, "No way!" Actually, they almost said it. "Philip replied, 'It would take a small fortune to feed them!'" John 6:7

So many times we figure the task God is asking us to do is impossible so we proclaim to God how hard it is and we stop. We do nothing.

When Jesus asked Philip how to feed all those people, He already knew what He was going to do. He was only asking to test Philip. Wow! He didn't really expect an answer or an argument. Jesus expected an agreement.

"Jesus soon saw a great crowd of people climbing the hill, looking for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, "Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people?" He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. John 6:5-6

We should answer God more like Andrew did, "Here's a little, it's all that's around." Andrew gives the Lord all he can scrounge up.

It is a little boy's lunch of five small barley loaves and two small fish.

I believe it is amazing this boy shared at all. My boys certainly don't willingly give up food, especially when they're hungry!

But, this young boy gives all he has and God multiplies it so much that all 5,000 were fed and twelve whole baskets were leftover!

Jesus commands the disciples to gather up the leftovers so that none will be wasted. He not only multiplies it to meet the current needs, He multiplies enough to meet future needs.

Feeding the 5000 is about taking a little bit, a small amount that is hard to give, and letting Jesus multiply it in our lives. This is my time, my energy, my knowledge, my affection, anything that others are asking me to give. In order to multiply it, I must sacrifice by giving to others.
Jesus gives me a little and requires me to give that little bit sacrificially to my multitude and somewhere in this process multiplies it around to everyone and none of us go away needy. 

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other ... Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:12-13a & 15

Dear Lord, give me the courage to stretch myself today. Use me to meet the needs of others. Teach me to give my all for You. Amen.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

With Might

I'm feeling a little less than inspired today. I feel a little stuck. I'm in a middle season of life, not the mountaintop but not the valley either. I experience the euphoria of success in one area yet the devastation  of failure in another. This verse keeps rattling around in my soul:

"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Colossians 3:23

I keep wondering how I can work with all my might and still fail. Sometimes doing my best still isn't saying very much. But isn't this how we become capable of doing more? We do something that seems impossible struggling through all of it. Then the next time it's a tad easier until one day it becomes a mundane task.

Whatever the case, I found this from last year and thought it was fitting for me today. I hope it fits you too.

The middle.

It's the point in a journey, a situation, a dream, in life that tiredness begins to set in, the euphoric feeling of the newness of the beginning has worn off but the adrenaline of the end has yet to take effect. It's the middle.

About a month ago, someone told me that character is born in the middle. I think character is not only born in the middle, it's also proven there.

Lots of people, me included, can make promises, start strong and have great intentions. It's in the middle when nothing is happening, at least nothing we can see, that determination, grit and perseverance begin to show. That is if one possesses them.

This summer the Lord began giving me a picture that I dreamt of all night and saw all day in my mind's eye. In this vision, I am playing poker. I have lots of chips. The hand has yet to be dealt but I am "all in" pushing all my chips to the middle of the table.

Now I don't know much about poker but I do know a few things about my God. With him, I don't have to see the cards I'm dealt because his plans for me are good. They are for hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.)

I know that there are pleasures forevermore if I remain in his presence. (Psalm 16:11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.)

I know that just because I belong to him, my life will be filled with goodness and mercy. (Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.)
Essentially, I know the outcome of this poker game. (Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.)

So I can play the whole thing, beginning, middle and end with all my might. Isn't that great?
Today if you're stuck in the middle, tired of waiting and growing weary of giving it your all, consider these key truths before giving up and please share any others that have helped you along the way.

Hebrews 12:3
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sighs of Contentment

Having a list of priorities really takes some of the stress out of life. We are at that time of the year when I tell myself the $1 leg/thigh combo from Popeye's is just as healthy (almost) as grilled chicken and the spicy red beans and rice make for a creative veggie.

Late nights. Homework. Tight schedules.

Once again, expectations get a reality check. I love having the neighborhood kids gather here for baseball games after school. I'm really glad they feel free to raid my fridge and invite themselves to dinner. I hope they see Jesus in this household and not just sibling rivalry, piles of laundry and a mommy nursing a migraine.

I try to take time to talk hang out with them a bit after school instead of locking myself away with those piles of laundry. Today I told them they could come straight from the bus stop but it would be a study hall. I loved hearing my children say things like, "We have lots of quiet places in our house," and "Studying isn't that boring at my house," and "We can get our homework done really fast and then play."

I have some want tos on my list this week. Want tos that can make me stressed and frustrated if I let them. The answer is clear as I sit down with my priorities today. The want tos just don't always fit in with the larger picture. I will have to let a friend know this. I pray I am not too much of a disappointment in this. I am recognizing my tendency to over commit in areas that are not true priorities. I just can't seem to say no to some things.

I realize that as I make the internal choice to say no and move forward with other things, I am free to say yes in ways I haven't before now. I like that. Remembering my top ten is becoming very beneficial.

"So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" Romans 7:21-25

Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Almost every woman I know (and many men) struggle with the great balancing act of life. How to juggle more than one plate well is an age-old question whose answer could be written and sold for millions of dollars.

Yesterday as I sat and wondered how long I must wrestle with this issue, it struck me. God tells us to be many things: kind, loving, compassionate, submissive, forgiving, joyful, content, patient, faithful, gentle, self-controlled, alert, prayerful, giving, generous and even holy. But God never asks us to be perfect.

The Apostle Paul says, “Aim for perfection.”

This spoke volumes to me yesterday as I started the day. Instead of trying to live the perfect day where all my plates were balancing in harmony, I aimed for perfect realizing the arrows might fall a little short. Perfection is a journey ending in a final destination. As I aim I must remember that.

By eight o’clock yesterday morning I had aimed and missed so many times, I knew the day would look nothing like my list and bear no resemblance to my plan. But as I picked myself up, dusted myself off and started walking alone the road to perfection again, I became increasingly okay with that.

Perfect didn’t give me any time to write, do household chores or run errands yesterday. But my Number One Priority did lead me to caring for my top priorities, preparing and serving macaroni, Jello, Sprite, Popsicles and ice cream and hosting a neighborhood soccer game.

Somewhere between tossing my list and stirring Jello, I realized it really was a perfect day after all.

“Aim for perfection ... And the God of love and peace will be with you.” 2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV

Monday, September 20, 2010


I’ve been asking God to interrupt me. I want Him to use me for His purposes. My to-do list can get long and I need Him to stop me when I miss Him working simply because slowing down isn’t on my list.

Today started with a small interruption.

One child misses the bus. She just can’t pull it together in the morning. A missing shoe, hairbrush or backpack always seem to slow her down. Even if these items are in a neat pile at the foot of her bed as she sleeps, they seem to migrate to hiding places around the house as she gets dressed. As I was explaining to her that the ride I provide is on a bright yellow bus that stops for about thirty seconds at 7:45 each morning at the corner. If she misses my ride, she has a responsibility to get to school.

I am outlining her choices for her. She can walk but probably not today since she’s not yet sure of the way. She can beg her daddy to drop her on his way to work. She can come up with her own solution.

Before she can start begging her daddy this morning, the phone rings.  Hunter has gone straight to the nurse’s office with an allergic reaction. I am needed at the school and can they give him some Benedryl.

Lucky girl.

I arrive at the school. The principal meets me at the door. He must go to the emergency room right away. He’s in anaphylactic shock. Think Hitch Eyes—swollen shut. Lips—four times normal size. Breathing—wheezy. Nose—runny.


The principal drives us to the doctor. We wait. As we wait the Benedryl begins to kick in and the swelling decreases. He still looks bad. The doctor gives him a steroid shot and we finally make it home a little after noon.

I’ve been praying for God to interrupt me, redirect me, use me. My day has been totally rearranged, from teaching responsibility to one child to nursing another back to health.

Maybe my day hasn’t been interrupted as much as prioritized by God Himself. I may not get the errands run, the workout completed or plans made but I smile when I realize all He wants me to do today is mother these sweet blessings. They won't be little forever, you know.

Don't you see that children are God's best gift?
      the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Psalm 127:3 The Msg

How has God interrupted you and redirected your steps lately?

Friday, September 17, 2010


A challenge is issued. I make a list. This list stretches me in the best kind of way. It forces me to make hard decisions. It actually makes hard decisions easy if I heed its numbers.

It is a list of my priorities. Will you join me in making a list?

Take a piece of paper. Number it 1-10. List your priorities in order.

Here are mine:
1.     God
2.     Husband
3.     Children
4.     My health
5.     My home
6.     Extended family
7.     Close friends
8.     Building community (in new town & church)
9.     Writing/ Speaking
10. Physical training toward marathon

Cancer changes priorities. Number four, my health, now comes higher on my list. It’s rightly called my health instead of the former "diet/exercise" and includes taking the time to go to different grocery stores and health food stores and taking the time to prepare those foods. It includes exercising at least four times each week vigorously. It includes getting the proper amount of sleep each night and napping when I need to. It includes taking time to just do something for myself when I’m feeling extremely stressed or overwhelmed. Something for myself might be as simple as driving through Starbucks or sitting down to write for a few minutes and it might be as fun and indulgent as a pedicure or new blouse. Cancer makes me realize I’m the only wife my husband has and I’m the only mother my children have. If I’m not healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically, I can’t love and serve as well as I want.

Moving has placed building community up a bit higher on the list. Going to a new place means number eight is actually huge. It includes finding a niche in our new church, volunteering at the kids’ schools and supporting different organizations in our new town. It includes stepping outside of comfort zones, introducing ourselves to others and offering to do things for others all in an effort to make friends where we are. We want to be those who have deep friendships in close proximity so making the effort is important. While I had cut back on volunteering before I moved, I feel I need to step it up a little in this area to help the children become acclimated to their new community.

Number ten, the whole marathon thing, falls to number ten. It is still important to me as a personal goal, however; I am nowhere near ready to run 26.4 miles but I am trying to get closer everyday. I am pushing myself to get there just not at the expense of my health or my family's well-being.

My writing and speaking must be towards the bottom of my list because I have other responsibilities. Period. My goal is to have a book proposal completed by March and edited by May in order to start presenting it to publishers in June. Sometimes I get antsy and overwhelmed because I don’t see how it can happen. Other days it seems entirely possible. I’ve always wanted my ministry to have the testimony that God did it all. Every speaking engagement I’ve had, every person who’s stumbled onto my blog and every word I’ve written testifies of our God’s greatness and goodness. I have to believe that writing a book or any other thing He’s called me to will come as a result of His grace over my work.

I put a quote on Facebook yesterday from Marybeth Whalen’s book “For the Write Reason.”
“Ask Him to speak to you and give you grace to respond.”
That’s my simple prayer as I ponder and arrange my priorities.

There is freedom in this list. When you sit down to make a choice your mind’s eye will see your priorities and the number beside each. Just make a choice based on that. It’s as easy as 1 2 3.

I’d like to open a discussion here for the weekend. What are your priorities? Do you struggle with having to place some lower/higher than you’d like? How can I pray for you as you make your list? What suggestions do you have on the topic?

Next be sure to meet Karen for all kinds of time management tips including priorities.

Happy weekend and I look forward to hearing all your sage advice on setting priorities!

“Oh! Teach us to live well!
      Teach us to live wisely and well! “ Psalm 90:12 The Msg

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Caught Red Handed

Remember this picture? It reveals my heart.

This is my sweet and mischievous four-year-old’s response to being buckled in a seatbelt instead of playing outside set free for a long afternoon. A washable red marker in another child’s backpack helps him express himself.

As a kid I comply with my parents’ requests. I agree to clean my room, come home early or help around the house. The crazy part in my brain the phrase but you can’t make me like it rules. It seems that just by thinking these words, by exercising something that only I am in control of, I am happy. Yuck!

This behavior by my son reminds me of that phrase. As an adult my rebellion plays out a little differently. I don’t have a parent to punish me if I don’t comply. I have real life consequences. If I don’t sit down and pay my bills I have late fees or worse. If I don’t plan dinner, hungry kids make a chaotic evening drag on way too long.

Rebellion is a nasty sin. These days I don’t want to be rebellious but I certainly have a tendency to exhibit that same you-can’t-make-me-like-it attitude. I choose to indulge myself over serving my family. I choose to read a good story instead of God’s Word. I choose my goals over my husband’s. I choose what I feel I deserve over what I really need.

And in the end, I get caught red-handed. Duties go undone. Children get needy. Communication lines get muddy.

I’ve been caught red-handed! Today I’m asking God to wash my “red” hands and make them clean again. Today I’m asking God to realign my priorities. Today I’m asking God to help me with the mundane, necessary stuff.

And I’m also asking Him to help me like it!

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
      Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands [are clean] and hearts are pure,
      who do not worship idols
      and never tell lies.
They will receive the Lord’s blessing
      and have a right relationship with God their savior.
Psalm 24:3-5

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweating Small Stuff

Hearing the word cancer is never easy. Fighting an insurance company is never easy. Moving the family is never easy. Living after cancer is welcomed but hardly easy.

I wonder how I can stare cancer and all the past eight months brought into my life in the face, claim victory and keep perspective, yet; piles of unfolded laundry, piles of unfiled papers and piles of unread how-to-write-a-book-proposal books totally stress me.

It’s like the big things stole nothing but the little things are robbing me blind. Ever feel that way?

As I ponder this juxtaposition in my life, I think of my little dog Foxy. I tend to lose my little Pomeranian here in my new house. Searching inside, outside and even in the car only to find her tucked away in some little nook or crevice I didn’t know existed.

Frantic searching steals my peace because my pet hides easily and sleeps soundly. Take my old dog Wolf, he is too big to hide; he might be in the way but at least we could all see him. Fear may keep me from rousing his sleep but at l know his location and mood.

I’ve always seen Satan more like Wolf; the Bible calls him “a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

Lately I’ve seen another side of the enemy and his cohorts. I see him more like Foxy hiding in crannies of my life I didn’t even know existed.

Song of Solomon says, “Catch for us the foxes,
       the little foxes
       that ruin the vineyards,
       our vineyards that are in bloom.” (2:15 NIV)

The enemy and his little “foxes” sneak in and ruin us. They take the love from our marriage, the life from our ministry and the laughter from our parenting. The little distractions and deceptions lurk in life's smallest and darkest of places. These are places we’ve never had to look before but places God is calling us to examine. The seemingly insignificant hollows in our life beckon to be filled. God calls us to fill all the places in our life with Him, even the small places.

Lately I am frustrated at how I sweat the small stuff. Today I am examining the small places and catching little foxes because I want the vineyard of my life to produce fruit.

Let’s guard against the foxes with the same vigilance we stand against the lion.

“Catch all the foxes,
      those little foxes,
   before they ruin the vineyard of love,
      for the grapevines are blossoming! … Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Song of Solomon 2:15 & 1 Peter 5:8 NLT

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I sit down this morning hopeful but with a heavy heart. I am in the middle of inventory. Questions swirl in my mind. These questions must be asked and answered. My gut wrenches at the honesty. My heart breaks at my own frailty.

Does my calendar match my priorities? Do I have realistic expectations of myself, of my time, of my goals for this season?

Frustration is my constant companion these days. That tells me I need to change my thinking a bit (okay a lot) or remain grumpy. The turmoil is caused by the tension created by saying yes to God while still managing my chaotic and rather strong-willed crew. 

God has called and I know God has a plan; a doable plan that probably relies more on Him and less on me! The trouble is I have heard His voice, I think I understand and I have formulated my own plan. My plan is wreaking havoc with my life so I think I need a new plan. His doable plan will suffice, if I only knew exactly what it is.  I’ve been crying out for an answer. Begging for the space. Rearranging for the time. Pushing for results. 

Last night I realize maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Again.

As I open my journal this morning a verse in my own handwriting speaks to me in a new way. An answer to my constant questions. For the first time in a long time I feel silence in my heart. I smile. The raw honesty inventory reveals isn’t heartbreaking anymore it’s freeing. I’m a work in progress.

Trying to make this overwhelmingness of the soul about me is so well, me. My mind isn’t all a jumble because of what I need to do. It’s that way because I’m still learning how He works. I’m still learning to recognize His workings. I’m still learning how to let Him do things for me and in me. I’m once again reminded His work is light; it’s not a burden.

God’s promise to us is this, “I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:30 The Msg)

We will learn together.

“As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.” Colossians 1:11a The Msg

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Fishing

Lift. Throw. Release.  Learning to fish takes practice and patience. Casting the rod is difficult. If the line isn’t let go properly things can end up a tangled mess. It seems no matter how hard I try I either have to cut my knotted line loose or settle on fishing in the puddles at my feet.

I have great childhood memories of fishing. My dad patiently helps me cast my line. He gently places his big hands over mine and lift, throw, release. Becoming agitated at no fishy nibbles, I toss my gear to the ground and sigh. My dad once again picks it up and casts it out to the deep waters. Then he hands me the rod. And together we wait.

This is the image that comes to mind as I ponder some of my favorite verses this morning. In my journey to simplify, I ask for help. I examine my load keeping the necessary items. I’m learning sometimes simplifying is setting down even necessary things in order to rest.

With a family of six many things are necessary. Much equipment is required. Sometimes it feels like too much. This life is full of so many cares. Some fall into the category of needless worry. Some fall into the category of necessary business. The Lord is saying, “God's strong hand is on you; ... Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” (1 Peter 5:6b &7 The Msg)

To live a carefree life we must feel God’s strong hand on us. We must let Him place His hand over ours and do the casting. When we are so tired we can’t lift our arms, we must let Him lift our cares and do the casting for us. With this picture in mind, I see part of this promise in a new way. Casting our cares on Jesus is not something we always do successfully but rather something we can allow Him to do for us. In His strength He can cast everyday concerns and irrational worries into the depths of the sea. Where in our frailness we can only drop them in the shallow puddles by our feet.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NKJV)

What have you been trying to cast? Leave a comment and I’ll be sure to pray as God directs us in carefree living together.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Far Away

We’ve been far away. The six of us just spent five long, luxurious and wonderful days in the sunny, hot Florida Keys. A tropical getaway singing island songs and sipping boat drinks is my idea of a perfect vacay.

My husband and ten-year-old daughter scuba dived for the first time. All six of us parasailed. And we are all deliciously sun-browned and tired.

Thank you for all of your sweet and concerned emails wondering if I’m okay and encouraging me to take as much time away from the blog as I need to. I love you all and it warms my heart to feel your love.

Honestly I’ve been far away in other ways too. I’m in a season of asking God where are you?

I know that He’s here. I know that His presence and very being fills me. I know that when I draw near to Him, He comes near to me. I know. I know. I know. What I don’t feel is God’s presence. What I don’t hear is God’s voice. And that makes me sad. I ask is there a secret to drawing near that I don't yet know?

Even as I sit for hours and ponder His greatness, character and promises, His voice has remained silent for a bit. I know that sometimes in His silence He stretches us. Sometimes His silence is working to build our faith. Sometimes His silence really isn’t silence at all but a result of my faulty ears and heart. Sometimes His silence is an invitation to wait. And I know from experience waiting does not disappoint us.

And so I wait.

I am reading this book by Ed Underwood, When God Breaks Your Heart. It is a raw and real book about his terrible cancer experience. The lessons are deep and intimate.  The truth speaking to me today is Psalm 34:18. “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted.

Underwood says one of the surest ways to draw near to Jesus is find someone with a broken heart and follow Him there.
“It’s one of the surest ways I know to draw near to God: Find someone with a shattered life and go to him in the name of Jesus.” (p. 76)

So I pray. God, send someone to me with a broken heart. Help me draw near to you.

On the way to the bus stop this morning, I meet Mary. Mary is looking for her granddaughter’s lap dog. The granddaughter is frantic; the dog is her baby. Mary is upset because her granddaughter is upset.

She searches for over an hour as I wait for two buses and walk three children to meet the bus. As I walk home from the bus stop, Mary abandons her car and begins searching on foot.

She stops. We talk. I pray.

She thanks me, asks me my name and tells me she appreciates my concern.

There is no drama. No tears. No little white dog appearing from Heaven. But a new friendship is formed and genuine concern rests there. My heart is full from practicing one of God’s truths in a new way. I walk home thanking God for the opportunity and asking for more.

Twenty minutes later Mary knocked my door. The dog is home.

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted … Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Psalm 34:18 & James 4:8 (NASB)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Simply Satisfying

Simplify. One little word demands giant choices.

Simplify is the word that was chosen to sit beside my name. I longed for believe, faith, love or peace. Simplify is what was given. An invitation God offers.

Where I feel overwhelmed He reminds me it needs to become simple. Where I am tired, fatigued, stressed out He commands me to make it simple.

Reading the word decides a decision we prayed about for months. My daughter loves soccer. I know God has a calling on her life with sports. She plays naturally. Not just soccer but sports and games in general.

We must spend lots of time in the car to get her to soccer practice in our new town. Her team practices long and these practices stress the whole family. Simplify means not this season.

Sunday morning I glanced up during the sermon to see the words Simple is More Satisfying dancing before me. Our pastor is teaching a series on the simple life. Laughter erupts from my soul during the sermon when I realize God has indeed called us to a simple season.

Stress, fatigue and burden surround me this week. The Lord speaks one word. Simplify. I scratch tomorrow’s meeting so I can prepare for the weekend. I forgo the trip to the gym and hop on my treadmill. Dinner goes into the crock pot and my son crawls into my lap.

Stress, fatigue and burden leave my heart as I realize simple is truly more satisfying.

“A plain and simple life is a full life. … A simple life in the Fear-of-God
   is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.” Proverbs 13:7b & Proverbs 15:16 The Msg