Monday, October 15, 2007

Small Town Life

There are days that I just love living in a small town! Those of you that know me well and my love of shopping might be laughing right now. (And I don't love it that much in the spring when the dairy farmers are spreading liquid manure in their fields.) But Friday, Annie, Maren and I were walking to the little restaurant in our town ("The Brickyard") to have coffee with some friends. There were hay wagons full of big bright orange pumpkins around town. There was one in front of the restaurant with an ice cream bucket to leave money if you wanted to buy one. We had different people joining us off and on at our table because, of course, everyone knows everyone! And much to Annie's delight coffee turned into lunch!

It was a beautiful crisp fall day. The whole town was a buzz with Football fever and as the sign on the door of The Brickyard read "It's Football Season!" Everyone in our town goes out to watch the games. At Mike's last Junior High game of the season, he was hoping they would score - not win - just SCORE! They have a really young team this year, I think it is what they call a "building" season. So they had a few beautiful passes and finally someone caught one in the end zone. 6 points was never sweeter.

The father of the player that caught the passes was excited, and that's an understatement. At first I thought it was really obnoxious! He was running up and down the sideline yelling "That was Bobby!". But as I watched him congratulate his kid and how obviously proud he was I couldn't help but think it was really cute how much he was relishing his sons accomplishments. I am guessing it meant a lot to the kid too. I hope he would have been that encouraging had Bobby fallen and dropped the pass.

I am always that excited about my kids accomplishments, but I feel awkward showing too big of an outward expression of it. I don't want them to get big heads or be "braggy" but sometimes when I worry about that I tend to downplay it too much. I want the kids to know I'm rooting for them win or lose! Maybe the celebration will come with a congratulatory cake at home, but I just want to make sure they know I'm proud of their efforts.

Romans 8:31-32
"What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"

Thursday, October 04, 2007


Our two oldest kids have started taking piano lessons this fall. This is something that is really important to their Dad since he never learned to read music. He blames his older brother (which is always fun to do) because he fought the piano lesson thing , so his Mom never tried with the other boys. Both of his sisters are great pianists. So it is important to him, but he is never around to take them there or make them practice!

The lady they are taking piano from lives out in the country, it isn't any further than going to "town" but it feels like it is. There is nowhere for us to go to do errands or kill time during the hour so we just hang out in the van.

Week 1: I thought it would be easy. Everyone could sit nicely in their seats, eat a snack and watch a movie. The kids could get their reading out of the way while they waited. I actually brought a book for me to read (on parenting of course)- funny that I am still this naive and idealistic about mothering! They roamed all over the van, smashing crackers and leaving wrappers all over; Kept honking the horn, crawled all over the seats with their shoes. They just didn't sit there like I thought they would. We got a bigger van last spring, but apparently is wasn't big enough! The hour seemed kind of long!

Week 2: I didn't bring a book and tried to work on Abby's letter and sound recognition. But apparently her dogs were in heat and that caused great excitement amongst the kids. What better time for a "birds and bees" discussion?

Week 3: Thunder, lightning and heavy rain! The kids were scared and I just sat there with the van running and my eyes on the clock, ready to get out of there as soon as possible. I let chaos reign because I just didn't care!

They keep talking about appropriate punishments in the criminal justice system - maybe they could get those people to take my kids to piano to pay for their crimes!

Week 4: Meltdown, yelling and crying before we left! I realized that I am making this miserable for all of us. They are enjoying piano and actually don't mind practicing. It was nice outside and the kids played in her yard. The horses were out, they got to pet the dogs and they had a fun time. It was actually fun. Imagine that - fun with all my kids in tow! I hope I can turn it into a time we look forward to - away from the housework, phone and other demands just to be together - even if it is the van in a thunderstorm!

Soon enough, when football is over I won't have to bring all the kids with me. I will be able to bring and READ a book. But maybe I'll miss hanging out with the kids, I know it is crazy but isn't that what its all about actually being with them and not hating it. I think I should take all those little moments and hold on to them and try to make the best of them.

On Saturday I had to take Annie to Urgent Care and then to the Emergency Room. Mike wasn't available or in cell phone range so I had to take all the kids with me. I had the double stroller because I couldn't carry both the little ones. People kept asking me, "Are all these kids yours?" I replied that I just thought it would be really fun to bring a bunch a kids to the doctor with me so I picked up random neighbor kids. Duh - what kind of question is that? But it wasn't a disaster. The kids thought it was a fun adventure and I was amazingly relaxed about it all. And I was complimented over and over by doctors, nurses and other people in the waiting rooms about how well-behaved and beautiful my children were. I think I expect way too much sometimes. Of course there is chaos and fighting at times, but for the most part they are pretty good. And sometimes I forget that I am supposed to like them and like being with them because I am too busy "training" them.

When we used to go to gymnastics, I saw a lot of interesting ways people deal with their kids while they are waiting - usually it was not very positive. But there was one lady that brought a bag a games along and sat there playing fun board and card games while they waited. What a great idea - a little planning and proactiveness and it can actually become a time to look forward too.

Fortunately we have a few days before the next "Monday" comes around! Maybe I can do better this time.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I'm tired this morning - who am I kidding? I'm tired every morning! It doesn't only have to do with the fact that I haven't had a good nights sleep in 8 years, or that I'm drinking decaf coffee (really, why bother?) but the last few weeks I've been experiencing a different kind of tired. I feel tired of trying to keep up and keep fighting through a lot of stuff.

There's always a need to be met: a crying baby, a sick kid, a naughty kid, a nasty mess of cereal and juice on the floor, a never ending pile of laundry, homework, appointments, bills and financial needs! Plus there are the demands of ministry, other people who need help or aren't happy with the help you have given. There are people that always, always have issues they need to tell me about in great detail!

Doesn't anyone around me remember what it was like nursing a baby and getting up ever few hours in the night for months on end? No, all I hear is how tired everyone is. While I was sitting in the Emergency Room this weekend, alone with all 5 of my kids, the nurses assistant was telling me how tired SHE was! She works 12 hour shifts you know. Give me a break lady! I've been at it longer than your shift already today!

I was home from church on Sunday with a sick kid (did I mention she's on steroids that make her hyperactive? I think they should have prescribed some extra doses for me!) and I was asking the Lord for some relief! I'm kind of on the edge with all that is going on. I want to stop trying so hard and just shut down or climb back into bed for a week! And guess what verse came into my mind?

2 Corinthians 4:1 "Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart."

2 Corinthians 4:16 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Does any else ever feel this way?

So we have this ministry to our husbands and kids and those around us through God's mercy. And of course we should have joy while we're doing it :). I guess I didn't realize that tiredness, discouragement and exhaustion were all part of the gig too!

But let's not lose heart. I have to be renewed day by day by Jesus (not look to anything or anyone else) and fix my eyes on what is unseen.

I'm going to go dump some more sugar in my coffee!

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Even as I have been learning to "Care Less About My Kids", I am also learning that I have to be an advocate for them. I hate conflict and messy people situations, but I have realized that though there are times I need to let go and there are times when I need to push for things. My kids need to know that I will go to bat for them in any tough situation.

A few weeks ago, I took Annie to the doctor because she was having some trouble breathing. My doctor didn't think it was Asthma, he had some other name for it - sensitive bronchial something, but he did prescribe an inhaler. We left the doctor's office, went to lunch and Menard's then went to Walgreens to pick up the prescription. They said it would be another hour. I couldn't wait another hour. I had already waited, had 3 fussy kids in the car and I had to get home in time for the bus. So I told them to forget it! I called the nurse when I got home and asked her to fax the prescription to a place closer to our house instead. She said they couldn't do that - once it's gone, it's gone. I was kind of mad, but I just let it go. Well, for several weeks I have been meaning to call back and tell them to just make it happen. At the rate we are getting bills from the clinic I don't think it is too much to ask! I never got it done. So this weekend, Annie got sick and again had breathing trouble. I had to take her to Urgent Care and then we ended up in the Emergency Room. They gave her some medicine and a nebulizer treatment and she was better. I couldn't help being ticked at myself for not demanding that prescription. If we had the inhaler, maybe she wouldn't have to go to the doctor at all this weekend.

There are times when I haven't screwed up and have continued to pursue what was needed. When Grant needed speech therapy and wasn't getting any attention from the school, I found other options and finally with the principal's help got him the help he needed.

I don't want to become a pushy parent, so how do I know where the line is? When do you push, when do you let go? The truth is I don't know the answer! Maybe it's intuition or Supernatural prompting that tells us "This needs to happen!" In a lot of situations it is obvious, but sometimes it is hard to know.

I want my kids to realize that when they have issues or problems that they can't handle, I'll go the distance for them. And I can reassure them that whatever the issue, God's got it all under his control. Even if Mom and Dad don't get it right the first time, God is watching over us.

Psalm 140:7
O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle -

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Weighty Issue

Well, now that the fall weather is here, it is time to try to fit back into my jeans! I have lots of pairs from the past few years in a wide array of sizes. I did some shopping this week too. I like going to the little trendy teenagery stores and trying things on and then go over to Penney's to find something like it that is cut for someone over the age of 15. One time my sister and I were shopping in a department store and I realized we were looking at clothes that had "Sag" in the brand name. I quickly ran to Old Navy and looked at little tank tops that I would never wear, but it did make me feel better!

I think we talked about how some women are never happy with the way they look or their weight. I was talking about it to Mike and he had an interesting revelation - a lot of people that are perpetually unhappy with their looks and their weight show a lack on contentment in other areas of their lives. I think I need to search my heart out on this one. Is it possible that I'm not happy with the way I look as well as with my house, my car, my husband and anything else in life? Does anyone see a pattern forming here?

So what's a mom to do? We're getting older, don't have a lot of time for ourselves, and the metabolism is slamming up against a brick wall! I know I need to stop eating too many cookies and dust off my pilates DVD. I can go get my hair done and do my best with my clothes and make up - things I can control. But ultimately I have to Jesus Christ in His rightful place at the center of my life and seek out if this whole weight and looks thing is just part of a bigger issue of lack of contentment.

1 Peter 3:4 (NLT)
"You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

Care Less About Your Kids

Care Less About Your Kids - that is going to be the title of my husband's parenting book someday. I am guessing it is not going to be a big seller! It is his sarcastic way of pointing out that we micromanage too much of stuff in our kids' lives. He loves to say it to get people ticked off. As you might imagine, he succeeds!

I just realized the other day that I have a really different approach to parenting now compared to the "early" years of my parenting. I used to be more concerned about things, lots of things. Like when Grant refused to go to preschool and kindergarten, I thought the world was about to come to an end. I got really mad about that one! Or when Jenna would cry and scream for 3 hours about what song we had on the radio in the car. When they made a mess with their food, tracked in dirt from outside, didn't take their naps or got out of bed when they shouldn't, all major problems that needed to be solved. It was a disruption in my idea of a perfect routine.

Now, I don't get too excited about all that stuff anymore. Partly out of necessity - there are just a lot of people and things to attend to and I can't obsess over a mess made out of little tiny beads being thrown around the kitchen because I'm nursing and folding laundry at the same time. They are occupied and having fun - I don't need to freak out. I'll just sweep them up later (along with the remnants of our last few meals!)

Abby has been having trouble with a boy on the bus being mean to her. I think if she were my first child, I would be all torn up about what to do. I would think about pulling her out of school, or driving her to and from school everyday to avoid it or some way to solve it for her. Now? I told her to try to do her best to handle it by ignoring him, telling him to stop or telling the bus driver. I told her brother and sister to stick up for her if need be. I can call the bus driver and ask her to have this boy sit somewhere else, but I am going to wait it out to see if it works out this week. I want to encourage her to pray for him and to realize that she would never want to make anyone else feel this way.

Jenna was having some friend issues. And although I was able to empathize with her, I didn't have an intense desire to fix it. I wanted to encourage and reassure her, but not fix it. Maybe I really am subscribing to Mike's callous parenting beliefs!

The thing is I've learned that I can't fix everything and even if I could, I shouldn't. We need to learn to get through tough people stuff to be successful adults - as hard as it is for us to watch. There will be days when they don't want to cooperate and irritating phases they'll go through. But, Grant now gleefully runs off to school everyday. He didn't drop out at the age of 5 like I feared. And the little things, the messes and bumps will be okay. It doesn't mean the end of the world if things get dirty or naptime is late or missed. Those things can be caught up on later.

I want to be there to support and guide my kids in a Godly way of dealing with things. Sometimes we can find a solution, sometimes we have to live with it. I guess by caring less, I am actually teaching and guiding more, pointing them to the ultimate guide, Jesus Christ. I still feel for my kids in the hurts and challenges they have, but I think I am learning that my job is to walk beside them through it and not necessarily pull them out of it.

Nehemiah 9:19
"You, in Your great compassion, Did not forsake them in the wilderness; The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day, To guide them on their way, Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light forthem the way in which they were to go."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Mommy Missionaries Unite!

This will be an unusual post, but I want to ask a favor of our little cyber community! Some of you may remember the post a few months ago from my college roommate Jenn Johnson. She wrote a post called "My Storm Rages On" and you can find it in the archives from January 2007. Sorry I haven't figured out how to do a link to it.

Her son is having surgery on Tuesday to, I'll quote her "Caleb will be undergoing a procedure where they bore into his skull and place grids on the surface of his brain and then Caleb will be in a room with a video camera while they try to gather information on his brain activity during seizures. After looking at the info - they will decide whether they can remove part of his brain or not. Tuesday, Sept. 25th is the procedure date. We appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers and we know that God hears each one."

Wow! It certainly makes my worries for this week minor! So, Jenn and her husband Joel, Caleb is 8 and they have 3 younger children, too, Grace, Nate and Luke. The surgery is not near their home so it will be a strain in that way as well. Would you please join with me in praying for them this week?

Here's the link to their CaringBridge site if you are interested in updates .

You guys are awesome!

Revelation 5:8
"And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Oh Joy!

Yesterday was just a tough day! Jenna missed the bus - we couldn't find her shoes - her new shoes - because they were left outside by the trampoline in the rain, Abby had attitude issues, Annie was needy and didn't take a nap and Maren was fussy. Grant the laid back one was in the mix somewhere too. Mike got home from football late. We didn't eat dinner until 6:45 which is way too late when you want to get homework done and kids in bed early. I did 8 or 9 loads of laundry. Needless to say I didn't smile a lot.

A couple of weeks ago my mom was here and the little girls had doctors appointments. Afterwards we made the always popular and healthy stop at McDonalds. While we were there a family came in with five or six kids. The Mom was very cranky and looked like she was miserable. Maybe they were having the kind of day I had yesterday, but it was kind of a spectacle and I don't think she smiled once while they were there.

My Dad sends me all his weekly memos he sends to his staff and he'll be happy to know I actually do read them. In one he was talking about a guy he met that drives an airport shuttle. It may not be a dream job, but this guy had joy in his job and it was kind of contagious. Isn't that the way we should be about our job as moms - enthusiastically joyful? I don't want to be like the poor mom at McDonalds! It really is the best and most important job in the world and I don't want to do anything else. But most days it can feel like drudgery and torture. I will say that I would be a better mother if I didn't have to cook, clean and do laundry but those seem to come along with the job.

So I prayed for joy. Not that it will always be FUN, but that I will approach motherhood with a mission and joy that I'm doing something really important. Even when faced with large piles of laundry I need to remember that I'm serving an important need of my family.

I also wonder what kind of impact I can have for Christ when other people see me raising my kids and enjoying it! I need to let the joy and love of Christ pour through me and onto my family.

Yesterday, I walked out to the bus stop with Abby, Annie and Maren. It was nice to get out of the house and get some fresh air. The bus came and we walked along the road watching our neighbors horses, goats, cow and llamas (crazy animals!). I immediately relaxed and enjoyed watching the girls (ok - Grant didn't want to come with us and went home to play video games!) picking rocks, running, laughing - it was a great way to spend some of our afternoon hours.

Today I was intentional about spending time with Annie. We read many books including Goodnight Moon about 20 times. She loves to paint and draw which I realized by accident when she was trying to steal the stuff away from Abby while she worked on a little project for school. I need to slow down so we can do those kind of things together and THAT is where the joy comes for me.

I've been realizing that I am going to have 4 girls in the junior high and high school stage in a few years. That is a frightening thought to me. I have been dreading it already, complaining about it, telling people I will have to go on medication to cope (which may actually be true). But I think God showed me that is a bad approach. He has blessed us with 4 beautiful girls and each stage will have its challenges, but there will also be great things! They are such fun and unique kids why do I want to talk about them that way? That's not joyful at all. And I'm guessing that its probably not good if they were to pick up on that attitude either.

There will be bad days, temper tantrums, fights, messes and lots of unpleasant things ( did I mention I'm doing this all without the help of Diet Coke?) but ultimately it is such a blessing to be the one that is here with the kids during the good, the bad and the ugly!

Psalm 33:4-5

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.

Proverbs 10:28
The Prospect of the righteous is joy,
but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Things They Learn in Kindergarten!

Well, Abby has successfully completed her first few weeks of Kindergarten. She hasn't been too hard to get out the door. But on Wednesday, I was getting ready to have my Bible study group over for lunch and kind of stressing about getting the last few things done. Wouldn't you know it the school nurse called and said Abby was in her office. It seems they were talking about what to do if you get sick at school and all of a sudden she was sick! She was a little pale but no fever! Isn't that a coincidence! So what's a mother to do? I went to pick her up. Maybe she really wasn't feeling good, maybe it was nerves who knows? But after lunch we didn't let her watch any T.V. or go outside. I wanted her to learn that if she is not in school, she is resting in bed or playing quietly. At about 2:15 she had made a miraculous recovery and was ready to go back!

Today, she came home with something really important in her pocket. It was from her friend who goes to our church. It was a deposit slip from her Mom and Dad's checkbook! I thought it was kind of funny but did call and let them know what their little banker was up to just in case she handed a bunch of them out with their account number and all. All I ever brought home from Kindergarten were popsicle stick crafts!

Dry and Weary

I haven't been writing a lot lately as you can tell! We have had a lot of hustle and bustle around our house lately: back to school, crying baby, house renovations, garden produce and a two year old who makes a total mess out of everything. I have been feeling really overwhelmed! It seems our hampers are always overflowing, we always need groceries, there is always something being spilled or ripped or lost and I seem to be floating from crisis to crisis not really accomplishing anything. We've had some tight financial times lately with a few things piling up on us at once. We fall into bed at night exhausted. I've been wondering is this what life is going to be like? Stressful, exhausting and busy? I hope not because there isn't too much joy living that way.

It seems like in these tough times - and times that are a lot tougher I'm sure - I should be relying on God and resting in His promises more than ever. But that never seems to be the case with me! It's in the hard and stressful times that I have the most dry spiritual times. So of course, I didn't have too much to share on my blog, or with my husband or kids or anyone else!

I guess when the sun is shining, there is money in the bank and we are healthy it is easy to go to our heavenly Father. But somehow when things are tough or stressful I run away from the very thing I need most. If I'm not growing and enjoying my relationship with Christ, nothing is worthwhile and so I become even more dry and more weary.

So through many circumstances; some amazing provision and some heart softening, I feel like maybe God is calling me back in from my dry and weary spiritual condition. It's such a joy and a relief! Apart from Christ I can do nothing and that is the truth! I hope if you are dry and weary, you seek out the joy of the heavenly Father.

Here are the words to one of my favorite worship songs:

Heart of the Heavens

Lonely desert below, Barren soil 'neath the sky
Only death in the wind, every echo is dry
Hills and valleys on fire, mere memories of life
Parched and thirsty by day, no relief in the night.

Hunger cries in the heart, groanings reach up touching heaven
buried hopes start to tremble and breathe again
Deep longing is heard, all waiting will cease
For the Heart of the heavens in love

The sky smiles on the earth, releases living rains
great clouds of mercy empty, one gives one gains
And both are satisfied, the desert and the sky
for the Heart of the heavens in love.

Such tears of grace pour, streams swell into a river
Wonder of divine reflection, the needy and the Giver
And both are satisfied, the desert and the sky
For the Heart of the heavens, the God of the heavens
For the Heart of the heavens in love.

by Sheila and Emily Davidson
copyright 2003 Vineyard Songs Canada


Friday, August 17, 2007

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Wow! It's been awhile again! We got through VBS and now we are frantically trying to finish up the construction in our basement. We are getting there - extra bedroom and bathroom space will be a great blessing to our family!

Our little baby Maren has been an unhappy baby. She cries a lot and it generally unsettled. Someone mentioned to me at conference that I should try cutting things out of my diet to see if certain foods were bothering her. Why didn't I think of that? I've had five kids but I always ate anything while I was nursing and it didn't seem to affect them at all. So I started with chocolate (this is a huge sacrifice for me - I actually used to eat MnM's and Diet Coke for breakfast - My college roomies can vouch for that!), caffeine (bye-bye diet coke), onions or anything spicy and tomatoey stuff. That seemed to help a lot. Mike suggested I try knocking out dairy for a few days to see if that helped. And it did! She is like a different kid. But I am kind of sad that there isn't much I can eat. I actually have to have Soy Milk on my cereal!

But it is all worth it to not have a screaming baby all the time - I just wish I would have figured it out earlier. Two other side benefits I've noticed is that my face has totally cleared up - no break outs for a long time. I thought zits were supposed to end with the teenage years but maybe eating 25 chocolate chip cookies a day contributed to the problem! Also, I think this might help me shed some of the baby weight I've gained over the last 8 years. I do really miss my MnM's though.

So I was thinking about the old phrase "Garbage In, Garbage Out". It seems to be true of what we put in our bodies, I know it is true with what we put in our minds in the way of TV and movies. I think as parents we try to guard our kids by limiting the things they can see on TV or the hours they can play video games or the people they can be around, but I've realized that I can be a big contributor to the "garbage" in our lives.

We had to run to Wal-Mart and a few other places after VBS one day. I was tired and didn't want to do errands. It was HOT and I was crabby. I was annoyed with the slow pace we were on and I was short with the kids. It was miserable for all of us! I realized half way through the store that I was the one contributing the bad vibes for the day. If I am calm and patient and happy, everyone else seems to be too (ok - not always) but it increases the likelihood of a good afternoon - especially if we are able to avoid the Toy section!

I also have realized that I need to react and respond to my kids much more with grace and love. That seems obvious but it is easy when things happen throughout the day from fights to injuries, to spills to react with anger and annoyance rather than love and grace. In a lot of those situations our kids are hurting and need comfort and encouragement from us. But it is hard to stop and think of that when someone is bleeding, someone is yelling and someone is crying while you are trying to get supper on the table.

I guess I need to make it a priority in my morning to put my day and attitude before the Lord and ask for help, calm, joy and maybe a babysitter so I can do errands alone!

1 Peter 3:8
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Job Description

There are a lot of things that could be in my job description: Taxi driver, baker, cleaning lady, laundry person, diaper changer, ice cream eater and a lot of other practical stuff. I get so wrapped up in keeping up with that stuff that I overlook the most important part of my job description.

We have two kids that are going to be baptized in August. Of course, we are really happy about the fact that they have chosen to follow Christ as any good Christian parent would be. Some kids seem to have a desire for Christ, the Bible and other spiritual things early and it comes naturally. That's been our experience with our oldest ones. But now we have a different experience. We have a daughter that flat out says she does not believe in God - A heart breaking statement to me. When asked why, she says it is because she doesn't want to die. I can understand that - who wants to die? We've explained to her that everyone must die and that if we trust Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins we'll get to be with Him forever. That has not swayed this young lady's opinion.

So what do we do? Mike is a PASTOR for crying out loud! And honestly I just want to be comforted by hearing her say the right words so I don't have to worry. Too bad that is faulty thinking. I know she will have to work through this. I don't want her to just tell us what we want to hear, I want her to genuinely believe. So I guess I should appreciate the honesty. My temptation is to say oh you do too and move on, but I know we need to openly communicate about this stuff.

I was reminded of something by the speaker at our Village Missions conference. Do you know how God spells success? It's F-A-I-T-H-F-U-L. My job is to be faithful to God and his calling on my life as a parent, wife, pastor's wife and child of God. The results are up to Him.

Now I know my kids are young and they probably don't fully comprehend everything that goes into Salvation yet. But it made me realize something. I spend way too much time worrying and working on the temporal things and way too little time (sometimes NO time) on my knees before the Lord on behalf of my kids and their salvation. And of course that is the most important thing I should be doing - I know that - so why don't I DO IT?

I know that no matter how much Christian stuff we do, God has to work in their hearts. And he's working on mine too and rebuking my screwed up priorities. It's humbling and scary to see the job God has given us to guide our kids spiritual lives. And maybe that is why I don't want to talk or pray about it because it is a lot easier to focus on laundry and getting to baseball practice.

Romans 9:16
It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Marriage is a funny thing. Sometimes after a few years we go from love to loathe. I know some women who actually seem to loathe their husbands. I love my hubby but sometimes I fall into that trap of thinking of him last or blaming him for everything I can. Marriage is important to God because we are supposed to mirror the image of Christ and his bride, the church. Most of the time I don't do so well as an ambassador of the image of Christ. It is good to remember that our kids are watching us and so are a lot of other people.

When we were in the hospital having Maren, Mike was following behind me picking up my clothes, getting the stuff put away, and doing everything like clockwork to help me out. Our labor nurse told us she was divorced but we showed her what marriage should be like. Wow! I was shocked because usually when we get into high stress situations we argue a lot. As our conversation went on we talked about how Mike was a Pastor and I thought I am really glad that we were mirroring Christ and she saw it. A lot of times I forget that those everyday situations can be an opportunity to show Christ to others.

Our kids are watching us too. They know when things are tense between us and it affects everyone. We try to use that to teach them that God's plan is to have a Mom and a Dad married and working together to raise the family. Sometimes they get irritated at our teamwork when we keep giving them the same unified answer or say what did Dad say? But I think in the end they will appreciate knowing that we are united.

We were just at our annual Village Missions conference (ok -I wrote this a few months ago and now I trying to catch up :)). There was a couple there that has grown kids and grandkids. One day someone said to them you guys match! They both had yellow shirts and white pants on. They said we plan it, we go shopping and buy matching outfits. Normally I would think that was really cheesy, but it was so cool to see them still enjoying each other, having fun together and serving alongside each other.

Sometimes I think we set ourselves short. When we were getting ready to go on our trip, Mike said I'm looking forward to traveling, it's our thing. And we do work well together - getting things packed up, taking the kids to the bathroom, getting diapers changed, driving for each other at our sleepy time of the day! It would be chaos for me to try to take a road trip without him. And he'd have a tough time feeding Maren without me:)

When we are working together things go so much more smoothly. I was humbled to hear a woman pray this week thanking God for her husband. They have been married for 30 plus years and she is still in love with him. When you see them together, they show such great care and respect. Sometimes I feel like maybe we won't need each other as much when the kids get older, but I hope we can be like the couples we saw this week. Still in love and reflecting the love of Christ in our marriage.

I think at times we as women can stand in the way of teamwork, especially in regards to parenting. I know because we do most of the work with the kids, sometimes it is hard to let our husbands in. We can alienate them and make them feel like they aren't doing is exactly our way. I've seen that result in very uninvolved Dads at times. Or we can totally dump on our husbands and expect them to do everything when they get home. We can emotionally check out. Sometimes we need a break but I have to remember that he's been at work all day too. Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that when he leaves for work, it is free time for him just because he is away from the house.

I think as my marriage and parenting progresses I am trying to find a balance. Working together on a lot of tasks and parenting stuff, but also serving him by letting him take a rest after dinner, going to do something special with one of the older kids or playing basketball at open gym night.

God knew what he was doing when we put us together - I just have to get with the program!

Genesis 2:20-22
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Oh, The Horror!

It was like something out of a horror movie. My swimsuit was ruined and I had to do the unthinkable - swimsuit shopping! AHHHHHHH! Not only is that always a scary job, the price tag has gotten scary too! What happened to the $9.99 rack? Not even Wal-Mart sells them that cheap. So I set out to try some on and buy one before I had to swim at swimming lessons and head out on our trip. I tried on at least 30 different suits (nursing in the fitting room in between) and I didn't like a single one! Now, I want to say that it was because there are no cute swimsuits out there, but the truth of the matter is that I don't like the way my body looks in any swimsuit. I mean, come one, I just had my fifth baby is eight years! I'm in my thirties now, my VERY early thirties, but still I'm not 18 anymore and a lot has changed. I ended up buying a cheap suit at Wal-Mart, but at least I one-upped my friend who wore her maternity suit (she's not pregnant) and pinned it in in several key places.

Even my skinny friends- trust me I have some - that are probably a size 2 don't like how they look in their swimsuits. Why do we as women struggle with body image? I just want someone to come out in their swimsuit and say, "I think I look Great!" I don't think that happens very often.

I want to teach my kids, specifically my girls, to take care of their bodies. They are God's creation. But I want them to be free and not be obsessed with how they look especially as we move into the preteen and teenage years. It seems the way to do that is to help them focus on their inner qualities and learn that their hearts are the most important thing and that they are valuable to God and He loves them for who they are - not what they look like!

I suppose they also take cues from me. If I am overly sensitive about my outward appearance, they will be too. Some people are ALWAYS wanting to lose weight and unhappy with how they look. I think they look awesome. But if that is all I talk about and worry about, it could be easily picked up by my little girl audience.

Sometimes I am tempted to not swim and have fun with my family just to avoid the dreaded swimsuit. Or not dress nice (I need to remind myself that Pajama pants are for SLEEPING in) or take care of myself because I don't like how I look. Or not play baseball or soccer because I am out of shape. But that's not freedom.

I swam at a water park in March with my family and I was very pregnant. I proudly wore my thrift store maternity swimsuit and played in the water. Pregnancy is probably the one time that I don't have to worry about if I look fat in my suit because I know I do and I don't care! Tonight I had a blast swimming with the kids in my Wal-Mart suit. I think I went down the waterslide at least 50 times laughing and screaming. I don't want to miss out on that stuff just because of a little or a lot of baby fat and a cheap swimsuit!

Sometimes we catch the show "America's Got Talent". It's a cheesy form of American Idol. David Hasselhoff is one of the judges - need I say more? Anyway, they had a singing group on this week that described themselves as a Plus-Sized version of some girl band. I have no idea who the group is, but they were all glammed up and they were not thin. But they were happy and comfortable with the way they looked. And they could actually sing. They said they wanted to win the competition for real women everywhere. They were living life and they are going to Vegas!

So, even though I hope to shed some of those extra pounds in the near future, (rice cakes anyone?) it shouldn't stop me from living life now. I hope to transfer that into a spiritual lesson for the girls. Our confidence and image comes from Christ and He thinks we are so valuable that He died for us. It doesn't get much better than that! Get out there are SWIM!

1 Corithians 6:19-20
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body .

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day by Day

People always say raising a family is expensive and I believe them. I can not believe the massive amounts of food, clothing, diapers, toilet paper and shoes (ok I'll admit it, most of the shoes are mine) we consume in our house! Our kids are literally ALWAYS hungry. We go through an entire loaf of bread at lunchtime every day. It's unbelievable.

As they eat, they grow and need new clothes and shoes. They need school stuff and want to be involved in sports and clubs that cost money. It costs thousands of dollars just to deliver a baby. They get ear infections and need surgery. They need to go to the dentist, they need retainers and possibly braces. Is it getting hot in here? Thinking about it all makes me feel breathless at times. How are we possibly going to be able to afford this? They are only going to eat more and need more, and have more expensive needs as they get older. I have visions of prom dresses, drivers licenses, graduations, college tuition and wedding dresses (4 GIRLS!) All good times and happy occasions to be sure but it won't be easy to foot the bill! The world must think we are insane. We don't make nearly enough money to support a big family. We only have one income. Sometimes I think we are insane too!

The old song "one day at a time, sweet Jesus" rings true to me on this one. God has always faithfully provided for us. I don't know how he will provide 6 months from now, but he'll provide what we need for each day. I think I keep getting too far ahead of things and it causes a mild panic attack. But God tells us over and over again to trust Him for what we need. He'll meet our needs as they come and it's always amazing to me how He does it. Now of course, He's given me a brain and I have to be responsible. I can't just go buy a Hummer and think He'll provide. I just need to look to Him each day and serve Him and trust Him for what I need. That's so refreshing to me!

Matthew 6:25-34
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like on of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father know that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

A Dream Come True

This winter one of Mike's lifelong dreams came true: he got to buy a full size Ford van. We used to have a really nice looking metallic minivan that I liked to drive. I wasn't very excited about supersizing my vehicle, however I tried to stay out of the decision making process (except for demanding a DVD player - which actually turned out to be a VCR so my demands again went unmet!). The van actually isn't as bad to drive as I thought it would be and thankfully they have semi parking available at Wal-Mart, the only place I shop.

However, this winter when I was going to my ob doctor often, I didn't want to drive the van because it felt so big to drive downtown and park in a ramp. So, trying to beat the problem I chose to drive our Saturn. There are some nice saturns out there no doubt, but ours does not qualify. It has power NOTHING - honestly, not even power steering. But I hopped in there, which was no easy task pregnant as I was, and set off for the doctors. While I was driving I noticed the steering wheel shaking a bit. Once I got on the freeway it got dramatically worse. I could only drive about 50 miles a hour and my hands were numb. On the way home it got even worse and I was putsing along at about 40 miles per hour.

I was so mad! Isn't this just typical? Can't drive one car because it is too big and the little car is a piece of junk that shakes violently when you drive. Well, it turns out it was only snow stuck up in the wheel and when it melted it was fine. But it got me thinking very angrily about how nothing in my life is right. The cars, my couches that are ripped, my dishes that are chipped and many are missing since they have been broken, my towels that are ripping and stringy and smell kind of mucky, my stained carpet, and the list goes on and on. I was having a pretty good pity party shaking along down the road.

More recently it has been my closet and lack of wardrobe that fits that is a problem. We met my family for my Dad's birthday last week and my swimsuit had some problems. The little skirt had totally stretched out and would puff up in the hot tub - great enterntainment for the kids though! Then my Mom said I think it is a little thin and see through on the top too. So I threw it away to reduce the risk of a wardrobe malfunction! Now I have no swimsuit and need one for family swim day at swimming lessons this week.

I can't figure out how I let myself get so focused on material things. I know I should be thankful that we have cars and couches and dishes and towels. Why is it so hard to not focus on the negative? We all know that, but it doesn't always seem to satisfy those nagging feelings of wanting more, needing more and needing the best. I know I have far more in Christ than this world can offer. I know my family is more valuable than all the new things I could ever desire.

I've also realized that the good news is I don't freak out when a dish gets handled by a 2 year old or when the couch gets spit up on or jumped on. I don't care when the bath towels are used in a science experiment or as a batman cape. I guess if everything was new and exactly as I wanted it there would be no room for living - especially with kids in the house!

I'm trying to learn to worry less about "stuff" which helps me enjoy life more. And I can laugh when I'm cruising down the road in my huge van or little Saturn that's jerking everywhere because it's not the end of the world, there are more important things in life- and it will make a good blog!

1 Thessalonions 1:8-10
The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia - your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Joy of Expectancy!

People say the worst things to you at the end of your pregnancy - don't they? Let me give you a few examples from my VAST prenancy experience! You look miserable, you are getting SO big! Haven't you had that baby yet? Are you still around? Now why would someone say that to a 10 month pregnant woman? I wanted to threaten to sit on them. Or after my female OB doctor went on sabbatical, I had to see one of her MALE partners and he said as only a man could - You'll have no problem having a 10 pound baby - your body is made for having babies. This is why I wanted to see a woman doctor!

I also get irritated when woman's bible studies always relate everything to pregnancy and childbirth. But I was highly irritable this spring too. In our book we studied Romans 8:15-28 which is a passage I have read many times, but this time it was in The Message and it sounded a little different. Here's part of it:

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a prenant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

The last thing I want to be reminded of is being large and in pain. At then end we are fixed on our due date anxiously awaiting delivery. But one we're past all that and are holding a brand new little baby, we realize the joy of our expectancy.

The week I had Maren, a friend of our family died of cancer. She had been battling it for several years. And I was thinking that the same principle applies. No doubt there is groaning and pain when you are terminally ill, but after you pass into the presence of Christ there must be unbelievable joy!

So, I want to use these experineces in life to realize that I need to be anxiously awaiting the return of Christ and the joy that will come with our deliverance from this world. I think my life is too comfy and cushy to really feel like I am eager for that day.

But I can relate to being massively pregnant and having birth pains and how I yearned for deliverance and I can imagine being sick and in pain and yearning for deliveranc into glory. I guess that's what those Bible studies are after, using our life experinces to help us focus more on Christ and eternity.

I'm going to keep re-reading Romans 8:15-28 to keep my focus where it should be!

Monday, May 07, 2007

It's A Girl!

We have a new baby! Maren Pamela Keller

She was very cooperative and arrived right on her due date. She was 8 lbs. 8 oz., 21 inches long and was born at 9:05 p.m. When she was born Mike said "It's another little girl and she looks just like the rest of them!" Pamela is in honor of Mike's mom. Everyone is very excited about their new little sister.

I have some blogs that hopefully between nursing and napping I will get posted this week. Don't give up on me, my wheels are starting to turn again!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Father to the Fatherless

I have been volunteering with kids this winter. My little friend that I've been working with smells bad, like they haven't cleaned up properly after an accident. It was really strong today. Today she announced she had cold lunch. It was a piece of bread in a baggie. That was it! She did at least buy a milk. She struggles in school and is starving for attention.

Most parents are doing their best to love and raise their kids, but there are those on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Some parents are over-achievers as far as outward things go. They'll do whatever they have to so they look good on the outside, although no one knows what things are like with the things that really count. Then there are those kids whose parents don't seem to care at all. I feel so devastated that they care so little. How hard is it to run a bath, wash some clothes or pack a decent lunch? I suppose it could be laziness or lack of interest on their part.

So, I've been wondering, what is my responsibility in these situations? I want to call the parents and yell at them. It seems like a nice little self-esteem boost for me to be able to shake my head and feel like I am so much better than them. I want to look the other way and not think about it. But what I should do is reach out and love. I need to show her the One who is a Father to the fatherless. It isn't easy because I feel like I am so "busy" raising my own family. But these are exactly the times when Jesus wants to use us. When I think of great Christians throughout history, they were simply people that saw a need and used what God had given them to meet the need and show Christ's love. I know there are some simple things I can do to reach out, but it's going to involve time and sacrifice.

It is too easy for me to walk away from the tough situations in life. I don't want to get involved, it might get messy. But Jesus has me in the world to shine His light to those around me, as difficult as they may be to love. I put the card my student made me on my bulletin board so I would not be able to put it out of my mind. Keep me accountable on this one!

Psalm 68:4-6
Sing to God, sing praises to His name;

Lift up a song for Him who rides through the deserts,

Whose name is the LORD, and exult before Him.

A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,

Is God in His holy habitation.

God makes a home for the lonely;

He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,

Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

You Can't Handle the Truth!

It's been a while since I've seen the movie "A Few Good Men", but of course I remember the famous line "You Can't Handle the Truth!". I have two girls that are very curious about how babies come out of a mom's tummy. I'm really not sure how much to tell them. I have tried to brush the questions off, giving them answers like the doctor knows how to get them out and nothing so far has satisfied their questions. I want to be honest with them and at the same time not tell them more than they can handle at the ripe old ages of 5 and 6. I feel like yelling You Can't Handle the Truth! Or maybe I can't handle the truth is more like it. I just hate when I get to these stages of parenting when I feel like I have no idea what to do or how to handle things. The scary thing is that I know this is only the beginning of conversations and questions that I will feel ill equipped to handle.

So what do I do? Can I ship them off to a camp for things like this? When I get to the end of my rope on things I know I have to rely on Christ for help. I guess that is a good thing. If I can always handle everything on my own, then I really have no need for Christ. Who knew my ignorance would be such an asset in my spiritual life?

It's funny how being a parent can give you some perspective on the Christian life. Being the smart person that I am, I assume I know everything. I demand the answers to life's intricacies and tragedies. But I don't always get them and that makes me mad. We don't understand why things happen the way they do or why we just don't know the answer right now. Maybe God is saying You Can't Handle the Truth! I stomp my feet like a 5 year old and think I know what's best. But my heavenly Father will tell me only what he sees fit and good for me at the time. I have to trust in His goodness and wisdom.

It's really humbling to think of my job as a parent this way. There are TV Shows, movies, music, friends and all sorts of other influences that we need to have the role of gatekeepers for our kids and talk with them openly and honestly about the things that are going on. I am so thankful to have access to the heavenly Father's wisdom. I just need a kick in the head to realize that I need to quit trying to do it on my own and spend way more time on my knees before each day of this important job.

Proverbs 9:10-11
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For by me your days will be multiplied,
and years of life will be added to you." (NKJV)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Faith and Healing

I had an interesting conversation on Wednesday morning. I was running late and frazzled getting everything ready for Bible Study (as usual!). One of the ladies that is new to our group, I'll call her Margie, was early much to my dismay. I was still making coffee and sweeping the floor. They just found out that their son has been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. It's been a huge shock and lifestyle adjustment for them. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to deal with that. We had been praying for them since we heard about it.

Well, when Margie got to talking about it she told me she was claiming total healing for her son. She conveyed how difficult it is because never before have they had to have this kind of faith. I was trying to be polite and encouraging at first but as the conversation progressed I realized I was going to have to say something. She had a little booklet they got from their pastor on healing. She was showing me the passages in it. So I dove in. I am so bad at handling conflict and never feel I have the right words to say in those situations but I'm thankful God prompted and led me.

This is a tough subject. Certainly we must have faith in Jesus Christ and certainly I believe that God has the power to heal. There are many examples in scripture and modern life of healing. My father-in-law has such a story. Margie told me that Christ did not come and die so that we would suffer and be sick. It seems to me that ultimately a lot of scriptures are referring to spiritual healing from our sin.

There are some passages I thought of like when Jesus asks for the cup to be taken from him before he goes to the cross (Matthew 26:39) and when Paul asks three times for his thorn in the flesh to be removed (2 Corinthians 12) but it isn't. God's response - My grace is sufficient for you. There is suffering and pain for us in this world. There is no way around that. The negative side of the healing belief that no one wants to talk about is if you are not healed, then you do not have enough faith. Tell that to a Godly person dying of cancer or the young parents we know that just lost a baby. Do those things happen because of a lack of faith on our part? Maybe we give ourselves too much credit.

There are many stories of Jesus and the Apostles healing people in the New Testament. That very day in our study we read about the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and was healed by touching Jesus' clothing (Luke 8:43-48). Healing was a major part of his earthly ministry.

So I am not sure what to make of it. Jesus tells us to expect suffering (Matthew 16:24, Colossians 1:24) and he does not heal everyone. It seems kind of manipulative and demanding to me to say, "Hey God, look at all my faith! You must heal me (or my family member)." Is it not based on God's mercy and grace?

There is a friend of my parents who has cancer. She is not very old and she is not getting better. She has been really honest about her thoughts and feelings. Although she would like to live and see her grandchildren grow up, she has placed herself in God's hands and care. When that is done, we seem to be committing ourselves to the Lord, in his time, in his plans.

Luke 22:42
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me;
yet not my will, but yours be done."

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. " (The Message)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Reading and Observations

Our church has been reading books leading up to Easter for the last few years. This year we are reading "The Jesus Creed" by Scot McKnight. It's subtitle is Loving God, Loving Others. It has really been great so far especially because it is really easy for me to let the things I DO for God become my relationship with him. This has challenged and reminded me to it is about love. So I have been reading it whenever I have the chance and trying to catch up to where the church is. Scot McKnight also has a blog called Jesus Creed ( He is really interesting to read and I think his books are available there as well.

So, to get to the point of my observations, I was waiting for one of my kids and reading the book on Monday. There was another group of people waiting in the same hallway. There were 3 or 4 adults and a whole crew of kids. They were loud and odd. The apparent matriarch of the crew was talking loudly on her cell phone (as if we all wanted to hear her conversation) about money and wondering where it is all going. After she hung up, the rest of the adults were continuing the conversation loudly about how they can't keep helping her out, they don't have any money either and on and on. Meanwhile, the kids were running around like maniacs. Slamming the glass doors, banging on other office doors, carrying the baby around and dropping her, fighting and yelling at each other loudly. It was quite the scene.

I was really not trying to eavesdrop. I just wanted to read my book, but it was kind of hard not to hear what was going on. They were irate over the fact that one of their family members had stolen something and lied about it. They kept saying between cuss words that people must tell the truth and be honest. I was thinking that I agree, people should be honest and truthful. I want to teach my kids that. But why on earth would you be compelled towards honesty in an environment like that? They are trying to uphold Godly morals and principles without God. I think it would be nearly impossible to teach that without connecting it back to God.

I guess there are probably other ways to teach values. There are a lot of moral people that aren't Christians. But it seems like it would be empty teaching. I would quickly become apathetic about being good and moral without seeing the bigger picture of God's plan. Why should we be honest? Because God is honest and just. Because we want to be like God. Because that is how God tells us to live and conduct ourselves. Now that's something I can identify with. That presents a purpose for living that way.

The second thing I observed is how piously judgmental I was of these people. There I was with my nose stuck in my "Jesus Creed, Loving God, Loving Others" book looking down at them for the way they behave. Those are exactly the people Jesus would befriend and care for if He were here. He died for them. It was humbling to admit that I have such attitudes. I am a missionary for crying out loud. But I hope now that my eyes have been opened, Jesus will soften my heart towards the people around me - as loud and unlovable as they may be.

The Jesus Creed (Mark 12:29-31)
"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all your strength."
The second is this: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
There is no commandment greater than these.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Turkey Soup for the Body

I think I may have been whining before about the flu bug that's been ripping through our house for a few days now. Just as I've gotten everything cleaned up and laundry done from one person, someone else succumbs! So today Mike was sick but made it through church, I was home with Abby and in the afternoon someone pulled into our driveway. I was (and still am) in my pajamas. I was kind of annoyed because I just want to be left alone and not answer the door in my PJ's.

Well, I had to bite my tongue because this dear woman in our church brought us a big pot of turkey soup and homemade bread. It seemed a bit like liquid gold to us. I am stunned by how such a simple gesture meant so much.

Our church does a lot of meals for people who are sick, experienced a death in the family or had a baby. Sometimes I wonder if such an old fashioned practice is still worthwhile and appreciated today. Well, I think I have my answer. Caring for people by meeting their physical needs shows the love of Christ.

1 John 3:17-18
"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Time Flies!

A lot has happened in the month since I last blogged! I've been wanting to write but a few things have kept me away. One is the frustrating slow speed of my dial-up internet access. Well, we just got wired up for High Speed! It is kind of sad how exciting it is to be able to check e-mails in less than three hours, look things up in a flash and be on the phone and on-line at the same time!

We've also experienced a big blizzard. It's been a long time since I've seen snow falling horizontally. We were snowed in for two days. It is kind of fun and cozy at first, but gets old after 48 hours. The plow trucks were unable to make a dent in the solid 5 foot drift in our driveway so we had to have a local dairy farmer come in and blow us out with his tractor! The good news is that it's all melting and we went on our first bike ride of spring today.

We had a little bout with the stomach flu. There is nothing I loathe more than the stomach flu. I sit up all night and calculate how long it will take to filter through the entire family. It's very depressing.

The main thing that has been keeping my attentiont though lately is a very high strung almost two year old. She refuses to wear clothes, get her diaper changed, get into the bath, get out of the bath, get her coat on, go to bed, stay in bed, stay out of the garbage and more! She cries and screams and says no. She crosses her arms and glares in protest! She colored all over her face in pink permanent marker before we were heading to the orthodontist. We got a few looks. She is exhausting!

I try to be patient. I try to be firm. Sometimes, I just try to avoid her altogether. In order to avoid conflict sometimes I just let her do what she wants because I don't have the energy to fight her. I've even tried yelling and well, once I tried throwing the diaper wipes across the room in frustration (which I don't recommend) and it didn't help anyway.

I've been trying to think about what God is teaching me through this. I certainly have no advice or remedy. I thank God every night that there are some moments where 2 years olds are so cute and sweet which allows me the desire to continue on. I know, I know someday this will be a blip on the radar screen. When she is graduating from college I will look back with fond memories on this time. I hate when people tell me that! Plus, I know it is true because my 6 year old was exactly like this. She would cry over what song was on and I'd send her to her room and she'd keep crying for hours. She is better now and it is kind of funny to look back at it.

But it isn't fun or funny when you are in it. And it is a test of my patience which I seem to have very little of. I know I am frustrated because I love her so much. I appreciate people trying to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel, but mainly I just want someone to feel my pain. To come by and see her running around naked and empathize that two year olds are difficult to deal with. Although I have a lot to be thankful for such as health, I don't need to be reminded of that! Maybe they could just help me clean the mess up off the floor.

I think that is probably what Jesus is asking of us when dealing with others. In Romans 12:15 it says, "Rejoice with those who rejoice: mourn with those who mourn". Which seems to be saying forget the advice, just be there for people - whether they have suffered a devestating loss or have just had a really tough day with a toddler!

Romans 12:14-16
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited."

Friday, February 16, 2007

Where's My White Horse?

I haven't done too well keeping up with my New Year's Resolution of blogging every day, but what can I say? The last few weeks have been a lot about sickness, ear infections and doctor's visits. Abby had another bad bout with her ears and Monday she had tubes put in. It has made such a big difference already.

Mike's been pretty busy these last few weeks. Conferences, retreats, and lot of crises have kept him away from the house a lot. And everyone loves him and misses him and is thrilled when he comes riding home on his white horse to save the day! Now, I'd like to ride in on a white horse and have everyone be happy to see me but that would necesitate me LEAVING! So everyone ignores the fact that I am the one here making lunches, doing laundry, making and going to doctor's appointments, giving medicine that is yucky and dealing with the unpleasant side effects, having the kids' friends over, getting them to scouts and gymnastics. And they wonder why I seem crabby?

When Mike returned from his conference he brought me a book called "Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God" by Noel Piper. I wasn't really that thrilled about a book full of old biographies. The first chapter was about Sarah Edwards who was the wife of Jonathon Edwards, a pastor and great writer and thinker. The subtitle of the chapter was "Faithful in the Mundane". I thought I better read that one - and it was so good and challenging. Sarah Edwards had 11 children in the 1700's, she oversaw everything in the home including the livestock and butchering. She made all their clothes from shearing the sheep to weaving ( I must say that my family would probably be naked if I had to do that). She did everything so that her husband would be freed up to study and write. His writings are still read and valued today. She served God by handling all the mundane household things. She was very well educated and beautiful and probably felt that she had more to offer the world.

It has made me think a lot about how I look at my role. I tend to hate how tied down it has me. I want more glory, I feel like I am better than this. But I think through the story of Sarah Edwards I can see that God wants me to be faithful to taking care of things here so that Mike can be the man God wants him to be. It is easy to want to make Mike into my servant, but I need to focus on being God's servant.

Last week at church was a confirmation of all this. Mike and I had a great prayer time together on Saturday and we were both excited about what God was showing us. Let me tell you, he was on fire Sunday morning (we did NOT get out of church on time) and he was so passionate about everything he was doing and saying. I was proud to be his wife and watch God use him in his role as Pastor. We have a young man in our church leaving for Iraq this weekend. Mike gathered our church family around him and to pray for him. I saw Mike holding back tears as he announced one of our elderly saints had gone home to be with the Lord that morning and praying with passion for those with overwhelming physical and emotional needs.

I hope that I do not let all the mundane things that need to be taken care of in our household stand in the way of that! Could I be doing greater things, riding around on my white horse? I don't think so.

Romans 12:1-2
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer you bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your Spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Mommy Test

Last night I was out with some friends eating onion rings and chasing them down with an entire bottle of Tums. Someone mentioned they heard a study that you actually lose 8 percent of your brain cells during pregnancy. Being the math genius that I am, I quickly calculated 8 times 5 is 40! I am only operating at 60 percent! That explains a lot. One of the girls wondered if we might be able to qualify for disability pay?

But then I got this information, I hope it adds a smile to your day! (Then be sure to go on and read My Storm Rages On - it's much more important than this!)

The Mommy Test
I was out walking with my 4 year old daughter. She picked up
something off the ground and started to put it in her mouth. I
took the item away from her and I asked her not to do that. "Why?"
my daughter asked. "Because it's been on the ground, you don't
know where its been, it's dirty and probably has germs" I
replied. At this point, my daughter looked at me with total
admiration and asked, "Mommy, how do you know all this stuff? You
are so smart." I was thinking quickly. "All moms know this stuff.
It's on the Mommy Test. You have to know it, or they don't let you
be a Mommy."

We walked along in silence for 2 or 3 minutes, but
she was evidently pondering this new information.
"OH...I get it!" she beamed, "So if you don't pass the test you
have to be the daddy." "Exactly" I replied back with a big smile
on my face.

My Storm Rages On

Yesterday at Bible Study we were talking about the book of Job. It seems that it is so easy to love and praise God when things are good, but what happens when things don't go according to plan? This story is from Jenn Johnson, one of my college roommates. It's an honest and emotional account of dealing with their son and his special needs. I'm in awe at how they are dealing with all the difficulties his situation has brought into their family - I think you will be too. So here it is:

My storm rages on.

My eight year old son has uncontrolled seizures. He’s been medicated for six years and still has a few break through seizures every month.

My son has pervasive developmental disorder which is their way of saying he has autistic tendencies, but not quite enough to be diagnosed.

My son struggles to express his thoughts, which makes it hard to have a conversation with him.

My son processes the world differently than most people. I struggle to connect with him or communicate the complicated and subtle social world we live in.

My son feels the world around him is out of control and he fights for control. He has anxiety about new situations. He fights change.

My son is envious of his younger siblings and the privileges they receive because they are able to cope and handle situations that he isn’t able to handle.

My son lashes out and hurts others physically and verbally. He is irrational and unreasonable at times.

My heart breaks.

My heart battles feelings of guilt. Guilt for how I treated my son before I understood his disability. Guilt for wishing some days I didn’t have to deal with him. Guilt for feeling like I neglect my other children. Guilt for feeling selfish because my dream or longing for how my family would function and experience life is not being met. Guilt for thinking I have it hard when I know kids with much worse disabilities. Guilt because sometimes I think, “We could have bought a big screen HDTV with all that money we just spent on therapy.” Guilt for terrible thoughts I’ve had about how life would be easier without him, but then he’ll have a sweet, innocent moment or he’ll come and give me a hug without me asking for one which is so special because there has been a time when due to his sensory defensiveness he pushed our hugs away.

My heart battles feelings of envy. I envy typical families. I envy being able to go on vacations or attend functions with out the stress I feel about my son’s behavior. I envy other eight year old kids who can cope, be more mature, or have typical interests. I envy kids who participate in organized activities: sports, cub scouts, clubs, etc. I am envious of eight year old kids who have friends.

My heart battles feelings of grief. I grieve for my son and for how complicated and confusing life seems to him. I grieve for my dreams for my son. I grieve the typical family that I thought I would raise.

My heart battles feelings of loneliness. No one but my husband knows exactly how I feel.

My heart battles feelings of disappointment. As a parent there is that little part of you that enjoys hearing how your child is like you, I am disappointed because my son is not like me. I liked being involved in things, school was easy for me, I am friendly, etc. He is not like me.

My heart battles feelings of frustration. Even though I do everything I can to be a “good” caregiver and nurturing mom, it is still not working. He is still defiant, legalistic, rude, obsessive, etc. Sometimes I feel others are judging me for how I parent my children.

My heart battles feelings of exhaustion. My son requires a lot of energy.

My heart cries out for answers, for a cure, and for help.

My heavenly Father loves my son more than I can imagine or understand. He has a plan for my son’s life. He chose me to be his mother.

My heavenly Father supports me with loving family and friends who listen, cry, pray, and do everything they can to support us and help us. Even though I feel alone at times… I am not.

My heavenly Father wants me to be more like Him. The lightning in this storm reveals much about my pride, my desires, my sin, and my weaknesses and ultimately draws me closer to Him.

My heavenly Father longs for me to sit on his lap and bring my broken heart to Him.

My heavenly Father never promised me happiness. He promises joy even amidst my storms. I feel hope in knowing that He is in control and promises to work all things for good.

My heavenly Father’s plan may not be the same as mine. Do I trust Him with my storm? YES. I can’t imagine weathering a storm without Him.

Isaiah 25:4
"You have been a refuge for the poor,
a refuge for the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm
and a shade from the heat."

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Discipline - It's Not Just For Kids

Just before Christmas we were at an event where Grant and I overheard a frazzled mother trying to get her boys to stop running around and acting crazy. She finally resorted to "Am I going to have to call Santa?" Even Grant thought that was really funny. I just saw her again the other day and the boys were again acting wild. I wonder what she will use to threaten them now that Christmas is 11 months away?

Discipline is something that we think about a lot as parents. We know how important it is for our kids. There are a million and one experts out there with all kinds of opinions, books and advice on what's best - and I doubt that threatening to call Santa is at the top of anyone's list!

Well, I'm no expert on discipline but I think some expert needs to remind me how important it is to be disciplined as an adult, parent and Christian. I was reading 1 Corinthians 9:27 and then I heard it in the the New Living Translation. It says,
"I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise I feel that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified."

There are a lot of days that I don't feel like getting out of bed, making breakfast, making school lunches, doing laundry or getting dressed. I don't want to get up and help Annie put her snow boots on for the 15th time for no apparent reason. I thought I was just tired (and I probably am!)

I don't want to get up early in order to get my devotions in. In fact, I don't want to do them at all. What do I want to do? Take a nap, sleep in, eat some ice cream and watch TV. So life quickly becomes a mess! Nothing gets done, everything and everyone in disarray and I am frustrated.

So I've been thinking about that verse a lot. Have you ever seen someone train for a marathon? I think they are kind of crazy but I bet they have to keep on running even when they are out of breath and their legs feel like rubber. I have to force my body into doing what I have to in order to serve God and my family. It's easy to let feelings of stress and tiredness turn into laziness.

I seriously thought about not having any Bible Studies this spring because it is A LOT of work and I don't feel like doing it. I realized that is the one place outside my family that I really feel like God wants to use me. And it is something I can do at this stage of my life - it's at my house and the kids can be here. But I do have to clean up and make coffee and I'd rather not most mornings!

I know rest is important too. I've been doing some studying on rest and I haven't quite figured it out yet. Maybe I'll have more to write on that in a few days. There are certainly times we must say no. But a lot of times rest seems to be resting in God to meet our needs. Often when I go out on a limb to serve Him, he provides the strength and energy that is needed. And often I end up feeling refreshed from my service. There are also times when God provides extra rest through Mike or a friend helping me out with the kids and giving me a break especially after some service that has been an extra drain on me.

Rest is a part of discipline. When I stay up too late because I want to "relax" I'm not being disciplined. The truth is there are times that I could use for physical rest that I foolishly waste! So obviously there needs to be a balance. But I need to be disciplined in my spiritual life so I don't fall apart and I need to discipline myself to meet the needs of my family even when I don't want to. And if I would be more disciplined, those needs wouldn't pile up and become such a burden to meet (like 10 loads of laundry)!

I'm pretty sure I won't ever become a marathon runner, but with God's help I can keep on doing the things he has called me to. I don't want to try to teach my kids discipline without doing it myself - I think that might disqualify me.

1 Corinthians 9:27
"No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others,
I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

Proverbs 23:23
"Buy the truth and do not sell it;
get wisdom, discipline and understanding."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Disappointment and Hurt

I consider myself to be a good mother. The kids are one of the top priorities in my life and life does tend to revolve around their needs. I know I will have to help them face and deal with disappointment in their lives. It seems like it will get harder as they get older. I can remember disappointment in my life growing up through friends, missed opportunities, and not making the team. So I guess I have some experience and can empathize. But it never really crossed my mind that I would at times be the CAUSE of disappointment and hurt in their life.

I'm not talking about the kind of hurt or disappointment that comes when you accidentally slam your sons hand in the sliding door of the van. That hurts, but I don't think that physical pain is anything compared to the heart hurt that our kids are exposed to.

One night we were all busily making notecards and Grant got this great idea to make a card for Mike. It was adorable it said, "Merry Christmas, Thank You For Being Our Paster!" He wanted to meet with the Elders of the church to plan to get everyone to sign it. Once he gets an idea in his head there is just no talking him out of it. With all my motherly compassion, I quickly dismissed the idea and swiftly broke his heart. His eyes filled with tears and he didn't want to help anymore and went off to his room. I felt horrible. If I make one of the girls cry it isn't too big of a deal because they do it all the time, but our laid back boy hardly ever has an emotional breakdown. Anyway, we worked it out and he had a plan which I think we all forgot about in the midst of the Christmas frenzy anyway. Nevertheless, It was an eye-opening experience for me.

At times I can be the cause of hurt and disappointment because I am tired, busy or thinking of other things. It is so easy to flippantly put down an idea or story just because it seems insignificant to me and I'm too busy to stop and pay attention. Or at times I get mad and yell over something, like a muddy shoeprint on the floor, that just isn't a big deal. All those times are so frustrating to look back on because usually the kids are just innocent victims of my bad mood or inattentiveness. I realized that I have to pray for help to not act on my emotions. And to not be so into what I am doing or listening to on the radio that what they have to say or need sets me off. (and of course there are times when they need to learn to wait).

There will also be times when I HAVE to cause disappointment. They may want to do something that is wrong or will hurt them. Sometimes leading them towards Christ will require no's that will be disappointing at the time. I have to learn to accept that as the parent I can't just be their buddies and let anything go. That's not what is best for them.

I want to be able to hug them when they are disappointed, hurt with them and encourage them. I want to not disappoint them myself whenever I can. But ultimately I guess I need to teach them to have faith in the One that will never disappoint them. He is never to busy or snaps back because He's in a bad mood. He understands their feelings and thoughts more than anyone else. This is another place where we want to run into Jesus' gracious arms. I think I better do that too because disappointment and hurt do not magically disappear when you turn 21. And I know drawing on His strength is the only way I can attempt to avoid causing those things in my kids.

And Jesus is the only one who can help me deal with my disappointment in myself when I mess up. He is the great healer and comforter which I need a lot of because it seems like I am blowing it all the time. This is such a big job and so important to me, but in order for it to work I need to rest in God's hands. Why I keep trying to do it on my own is beyond me!

Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Psalm 42:5
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Friday, January 05, 2007


Ahhh, it's the first week in January and as fun as Christmas is, it's always a bit of a relief to get back to "normal". It feels like we put an addition on the house when we get the Christmas tree out every year. New Year's Resolutions (mine is to faithfully blog every day!) and what is it about Rubbermaid bins in January? I just want to buy lots of them and get organized. Nothing makes me happier at this time of the year than putting all my stuff in a plastic box and stacking it in the basement. Mike thinks I am totally insane.

There are not that many times in my life that I have felt really glad to be called normal, but last month I thought it was great. When we had our first ultra sound in December they found a cyst in the baby's brain. My doctor mentioned it and suggested that it might be a sign of Down's Syndrome but wanted us to meet with her partner who is a specialist. So we had two weeks to wonder and think about the what if's and why's.

Times like these are really telling of our faith. I SAY that I want God to be in control of my life and trust him with everything, but when things come up that don't seem to be according to plan I start to realize that actually I want to be in control and that it is difficult to trust God in a path that is uncertain and hard.

How do I give everything over to Him? But as I was thinking about it, I realized that I cannot possibly be in control nor would I want to be. Even if I took my prenatal vitamins every day, only ate organic food, exercised regularly and did absolutely everything "right", ultimately there are still risks involved in pregnancy (and life). We can't control that. So I'm thankful for a faith where I can trust the One who is in control. The path that I would choose wouldn't necessarily be what is best. Most people say they have grown and learned the most through the difficult times in their life and I would have to agree. Is it really walking by faith if I know everything is going to turn out perfectly according to me?

It's been very humbling to realize that I need to rely on Jesus. Even when the future is unclear (and when isn't it?) my job is to honor and glorify God with my life. What better way to show my kids and those around me what the Christian life is truly about than to glorify Him in the good times and the hard times. I haven't had too much experience in this area but the only experience I think I need is that of putting my life in His hands every day, whatever comes my way. That way when the murky unknown path comes, I should just keep doing what I've always been doing.

So, when we had our follow up ultra sound with the "specialist", she said they were actually not looking at Down's Syndrome, but Trisomy 18 which is fatal. But the cyst was gone and there was no heart defect which almost always goes with it. She said it happens that the cysts can resolve themselves because the brain is changing and developing so fast at this stage. Of course, there is always a risk, but she gave us a "normal". No doubt we were relieved, but even more than that I am thankful for God showing me areas where I need to rely on Him. Whatever the outcome of any situation in my life, I will praise and glorify Him. I will follow in faith even when it is foggy and hazy before me. The funny thing is, what other choice do I have? I can trust in the doctors, the ultrasounds, the vitamins, the parenting books; or I can trust in the God of the Universe. It doesn't seem like a hard choice.

I better go pack up my Rubbermaids!

Romans 3:3
What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God's faithfulness?