Friday, December 23, 2011

Better With Age, Part Two

I had been writing a post about Grant turning thirteen in my head this week, patting myself on the back for not worrying about the teenage years.  Then I received some pictures of my nieces and daughters in the mail from my aunt. 

All of a sudden my perspective changed a bit.  These were taken just a few short years ago…DSCN3163

and this..

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And now this?

girl cousins

 

Can you imagine what we will be dealing with in a few short years?  I know.  It’s a little terrifying.  I’m kind of thinking about locking the doors and getting out the burlap sack dresses.  Who knows what Mike is thinking! 

But if they transform as much in the next few years as they did in the last few, we’re going to have a swarm of teenage boys outside our house. 

Better With Age

They say wine gets better with age.  I guess some cheese is too.  It is obviously  not true of the kind of great value cheese I buy because when that ages it just turns green. 

But age can bring benefits.  I’m glad I’m not the person I was at 16, 26 or even 34!  I hope that God continues to grow and change me into someone that reflects His glory.

Time keeps rolling on.  I have more gray hairs.  And my kids keep having birthdays.  This time our firstborn hit a big milestone.  Thirteen.

How does this…

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turn into this…

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in the blink of an eye?

I just couldn’t imagine that the sweet baby we loved so much would become such an amazing person.

I’m still important to him because he relies on me for food 24/7 .  He still needs to eat every two hours just like when he was a baby.  And he still needs me to drive him places.

But, I am no longer at the center of his world. I never thought the day would come.

Instead of planning a birthday party like I used to with fear and trepidation of keeping a bunch of little boys occupied, Mike took him and his friends out for pizza. I never even saw them.

He has a phone. He has a life.

Some people tell me I should worry about thirteen and beyond.  I’m so thankful for the time we’ve had and the time to come. Each stage has it’s joys and struggles and I intend to make the enjoy every minute.  In a few years, I’ll be even further out of the center of his world.  And that’s ok because he’ll always be in the center of my heart.

Happy Birthday Bud!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The World and The WORD

December should be about worship and wonder.  I know that.  But it’s just so hard to make it happen.  There are so many things to do and so many distractions. 

The internet is so convenient for shopping and finding deals and yet…

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(http://theberry.com/2011/08/01/morning-coffee-38-photos-10/)

it gets in the way. 

It’s hard to find the balance of world and Word, you know?  I want to be in the word and worship.  However, there are things in the world that need to be taken care of too. My kids are going in a million different directions. I’ve got church responsibilities and home stuff to do. I’m doing a little part time job. I mean really little. Not hard. Not many hours and it seems to be sucking up an awful lot of time.

It doesn’t seem that God has called us to go live life in a commune, which quite frankly I’m pretty bummed about.  So I’m praying about balance.  How do I live life in the world while keeping the Word first?  How do I meet my kids needs without turning their eyes away from Christ?  How do I dedicate myself to scripture when I’d rather be reading Pinterest?

At Bible study yesterday, we were challenged to find ways to read the Bible and pray more.  I know what I have to do.  I’ve known it for 15 years and I continue to fail to do it.  It’s getting up early.  Blah!  I hate even typing that.  But if I’m going to put the Word before anything else, then it’s got to be done before the demands of the world are up.

Today, I read 2 Peter 1:12-21. It talks about prophecy and how the prophecy of scripture didn’t come from the prophets interpretation, but directly from God as delivered by the Holy Spirit. It’s a good passage to pair up with Isaiah 9:2-7 during the Christmas season.

It’s amazing to think of how God orchestrated all the prophecy and fulfillment for His glory and our salvation. Once I start, I could just keep reading and worshipping and wondering all day. But, eventually, the world calls.

How about you?  How do you balance the Word and the world? 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Is It December Already?

Yes it is.  Our tree is up and the craziness of December has begun.  Life moves so fast that sometimes it feels impossible just to keep up.

Christmas is supposed to be a joyful, special season but it all gets muddled and trampled by all there is to do.  On top of our normal everyday tasks we add; shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating.  Who do you think I am…  Martha Stewart? 

There are programs and concerts and parties.  It’s all supposed to add to the wonder and magic of the season but usually it just makes me tired and cranky. 

Last year I campaigned to Do December Different and find something to do for someone else every day.  It was good.  The kids were a big part of it and I loved how they focused on what we could do for others instead of just what they want.  But it added to the running and compounded the frenzy. 

This year I already feel kind of ragged.  As I was praying about Christmas this year, I felt a tug in my heart to slow down.  I think it was more like a kick in the pants:  S-L-O-W D-O-W-N! 

Even serving others can become just another distraction from the real meaning of Christmas which is worship and wonder.  Right?  I mean we are amazed that God for sent Jesus in His grand plan to save us from our sins.  God becoming man and dwelling among us.  So the wonder of the Christmas plan leads us to worship.  It’s all about Jesus and what He did.  It’s about God’s plan from the beginning of time. 

So although we are still going to elf a little this year, I want my focus to be more quiet and inward.  Taking the time to really make an effort to spend time in front of my tree with my Bible.  Worship.  And Wonder.

I want to encourage you to focus on Jesus too.  Let His love and truth fill your heart this season.

There are lots of advent sites with advent readings out there.  Take time to prepare your hearts for the coming of Jesus.  A family advent calendar that the Children’s Director at my home church (who also happens to by my sister) recommends is here.

A couple passages I read yesterday that were really meaningful to me were Psalm 25 and John1:1-14.  What are you reading for advent?  As we worship and wonder, the Prince of Peace will reign supreme in our Christmas and our life.  And who doesn’t want a little peace at this time of year?

 

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you  all day long.”  Psalm 25:4-5

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Late Night Binge

I have late night binges fairly often as evidenced by my pants size and the empty snack size Twix bag on my counter.  But it’s not too often I go on a cleaning binge. 

Here I was having a normal Saturday night and all of a sudden because of a new Mr. Clean product, I’m scrubbing the tile grout, washing floors and chipping away at some hard water stains with a finger nail clipper.  What gives?

My house has been a pretty big disaster lately.  The Christmas tree mess.  Piles and piles of school papers and bills.  Five pairs of boots and snow pants.   A partially disassembled office downstairs.  It feels like chaos.  Ok, it is chaos. 

Yet in the middle of the chaos, which I hate, I am totally unmotivated to clean.  It might be that the task is too overwhelming.  It could be that I’m too busy.  My laziness no doubt is a factor.  I would rather do other things or nothing.

So why out of the blue, at the most inconvenient times do I go into a frenzy?  It’s 11:30 on a Saturday night and we have a big day tomorrow.  What on earth is wrong with me?  I filed months worth of paperwork.  I cleaned off the counter.  I cleaned underneath the toilet.  It’s so weird.

If only I could bottle this and binge on it on a Monday morning.  Can you imagine what I might accomplish?  In housework and in life.

But I guess as long as I can’t control when the cleaning binge wave hits, I may as well just ride along and clean like crazy until I get back to normal.  Then chaos can reign again.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Drama Mama

I suppose there is something in a Mom’s DNA that brings out the Drama Mama in us.  You know how it is,  I am the best. My kid is the best.  Don’t try to tell me they’re not!  If you can’t recognize their amazing talent then you are an idiot!  It’s kind of a cross between Tiger Mom and Mama Bear.  I think it stems from wanting the best for our kids but it can get ugly in a hurry.

I was chatting with a friend about our upcoming basketball season.  Disclaimer:  This friend does not live in my town nor do her kids go to the same school as mine.  She was telling me about the drama on a kids basketball team.  The minute the mom of this child starts talking about basketball she goes ape.  Curse words fly, tensions raise, she goes for the throat of other moms and other girls.  It’s viscous.  That’s why my friend never mentions the word *basketball* to this person.

It’s natural to want the best for your kids.  It’s natural to want to defend them.  It’s not normal or cool to freak out when you don’t get your way.  Or to demand that they are the best thing on the planet at academics, sports, cheerleading, eating lunch or walking up the stairs.  Seriously, it can get that petty.

There are some moms that just attract drama. It’s always something.  It seems like the root cause is selfishness.  It’s all about me.  It’s all about my kid.  We are the best, don’t tell us we aren’t.

It’s kind of like those the kids that go to try out for American Idol.  Their families have told them all their lives that they are the bomb.  The problem is that they literally are a bomb.  Some cannot carry a tune but their parents have continued to push this image and dream.  They go away broken hearted over the truth.  They are not God’s gift to music.  They had no idea.

There are things I’m not good at.  I’m not good at math or decorating.  I’m not good at exercise or cleaning.  It’s ok.  Some things that we are usually good at bomb at times.  Like today I made the most disgusting cookies.  I have no idea why because I’ve used that recipe a million times.  However that should not shatter who I am.  We all have bad days and things we aren’t good at.

Drama Mama can’t see or accept that.  She certainly isn’t teaching her kids that.  It’s a reality of life.  She’s puffing her kids up to a level that they most likely cannot possibly sustain.  That’s not a favor to her kids.  It won’t be long before they get out there and learn that they are not the best at everything.  They will be shattered. 

The other problem with Drama Mama is that she is not considering others.  If you and your kid are the best, where does that leave everyone else?  If your kid is the only one who can shine, then no one else counts.

Over and over God encourages us to put others first.  To pour ourselves out.  It’s a radical idea in this society that encourages us to be “all about me”.  But what would happen if we were all about encouraging everyone to use the gifts and talents God has given them for His glory.

In my Bible study today, we focused on this verse:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:2-3

The author of the study, Chip Ingram explains that humility is when we decide to think of ourselves honestly and practice serving others unselfishly. 

Gentleness develops when we intentionally relate to people beyond our comfort zone. 

Patience has a chance to grow as we experience the disappointments, delays and frustrations with those who don’t want to change or don’t see change the same way we do.

What would happen if all Moms did this?   The Drama Mama can’t see past her own selfish desires.  God wants us to go in a radically different direction.  He wants us to give up our rights and think of others.  When we do that, His grace will take over.

I don’t think it’s possible to be a drama mama and a follower of Christ.  So when I feel myself start to slip into that mode I better run back to Ephesians and check myself.  God calls us to a life of humility and service, not selfishness and boasting. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Queen Mum

Have you ever seen anyone wearing a shirt that says, “Princess Mom”? Or there’s one that says “I know I’m a Princess because my mom is the Queen”. And while I get that it’s a funny little joke, I think there are plenty of women who totally own that sentiment.

Her home is their castle. Her family is at her beck and call. The underlings do all the work and they better do it well. The Queen Mum cannot be bothered by everyday things. Stuff in the house is not her problem. She is above cleaning and cooking and getting up with the kids. She has important texts to attend to and games to play. There is no reason for interruption.

The Queen Mum has high standards. When one of the peasants try to do jobs or errands, they are seldom done right. The Queen then demeans or humiliates their efforts. There is no praise or encouragement rolling off her tongue.

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A friend of mine told me that when her mom was done talking on the phone she would hold it up in the air. That meant one of the kids better get up and hang it back on the hook. I know that we’ve forgotten phones with receivers and hand sets but they did exist once upon a time.

The Queen Mum likes to go out and live large. She spends lots of time at the nail salon. When someone needs something, she looks at the pathetic prince she married with her arms crossed daring him not to take care of it.

Everyone walks on egg shells around the Queen. They never know what she will be in a good mood or want everyone banned from her kingdom. The underlings try their hardest to please and serve her, yet it is never enough.

I know some Queen Mums. I may even be one every once in a while. I used to play a little game with my husband. Only he didn't know about it. When one of the kids would wake up crying I would lay there and clench my teeth. I might have even thrown in a sigh or elbow now and then. I wanted to see how long it would be until he got up. He rarely did. Mainly because he's a heavy sleeper. He does however get up and make everyone breakfast in the mornings. I'm over that game. Now when there is a need sometimes we even tell each other to sit down or assure them that we've got it.

And while it’s not a big deal to let everyone in the family help and go spend some alone time now and then, our jobs as moms is not to hoard and abuse power. It’s to serve.

I’ve often said that being a mom is God’s grand plan to humble me. It’s a humbling job; getting up a night, cleaning up, changing diapers, doing laundry, cooking, shopping. The list never ends. So instead of being miserable and making everyone in our kingdom miserable, it might be a good idea to look at how Jesus lived and ruled while he was here.

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” John 13:3-9

Jesus knew God’s plan. He knew that God had given Him power. But he chose to wash everyone’s feet. That job was usually reserved for the lowest of servants.

I’m sure the Queen Mum loves her family. It’s just hard to let go of her love for herself. It’s hard for all of us. But we are God’s children. If we trust Christ, we truly are daughters of the King. Our position in secure. Now, in Christ we can serve as a gift to our families and a gift to God.

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not me, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” Ephesians 6:7-8

Serving doesn’t mean we have no opinion or are mousy little slaves. Serving as Jesus serves is an honor. A gift.

Trust me, it’s really not that good to be Queen. Or at least a Queen Mum. As we grow in Christ, we should seek to become more like Him. And Jesus Christ was a servant. So should I be. In marriage, in ministry and in life.

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:6-8

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dear 21 Year Old Me,


Dear 21 Year Old Me,


I know you are super excited that you are getting married. It's a big deal. A huge moment in life. But, FYI, the world does not revolve around you.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,


I know it's the 90's and wedding dresses with long puffy sleeves and sweetheart necklines are all the rage. But, trust me, don't do it. Just like the rolling and pinning of your jeans, you'll look back with regret. Go strapless. It might be bold but it's the wave of the future.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,


I know you've spent hours searching for the perfect dress and shoes. But it's not about the dress. Do yourself a favor and think beyond the dress and the flowers and think about the future.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,


I know you have dreams of getting sparkly anniversary bands on your anniversary. 15 years seems like a good time to do it. I hate to break it to you but the only shiny things you'll be spending big bucks on in the near future are braces.


Dear 21 Year Old Me,

Ignore the advice in all those wedding cards and well wishers to "follow your dreams". Very few people get to do that. Even if you try and succeed, you'll find it hollow in the end.

Instead, follow hard after Jesus. Make His plan your dream and you'll be in a good place.

Oh and maybe put some of that cash from the wedding cards away for braces.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,


Don't worry about the little things. Enjoy every day God gives you together. Don't waste your time being petty, argumentative or distracted. Focus on living full of love and grace. If you pour the same love and forgiveness on your marriage that God has poured on you, things will be grand.

Don't buy the story that a nice house or lots of money will make you happy. You'll find out the hard way that you can be content and thriving in a trailer house and miserable in a big fancy
house.

Don't try to change your spouse. Love Him for who God made Him to be ~ Cowboy boots and all.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,


Don't be disappointed when you can't afford to go to Hawaii. Maybe all you can do for your 15th anniversary is get a Priceline room down the road from your parents.

Rejoice in the gift that God has given you in your husband. Be grateful for the work He's done to bring you to this place.

Don't let the kids take over your marriage. Honor and cherish what you have together. Put Him first. Give your hearts fully to each other.

Be generous with forgiveness. Forgive extravagantly just like God has done for all of us. Don't hold on to bitterness or grudges.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,


I know you are looking forward to happily ever after but there will be hard times. There might be days that you wonder if you'll celebrate any more anniversaries.

As wonderful as you are, you will be a selfish inconsiderate wife. As good as your husband looks in his tux today, he isn't perfect either.

That's when it's time to forget the dress and the house and anything other than looking to Christ.

He is the unifier, the healer and the redeemer of marriage. Without Him you are doomed.


Dear 21 Year Old Me,


Your walk down the aisle is short, but the walk through life is a long journey. Don't fight against the lessons you'll learn. Embrace them.


Even though I know you think you know everything and have it all under control, you'll learn a lot. You might gain a few pounds and get some gray hair.

You think shopping at Target is lame, but soon that will be the classiest place you shop.

You'll be on your way to becoming a more mature and Christ like version of who you are today.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,

Embrace the journey. There will be beautiful babies that grow into fabulous kids. There will be frustrations and triumphs. There will be nice vans and big ugly ones. There will be times of plenty and times of want. There will be times of deep hurt and disappointment. There will be times of unfathomable joy.

Be willing to let Christ change you on this walk down the aisle of life. Hold on to Him in the hard time and rejoice with Him in the good time.

Dear 21 Year Old Me,

Happy Wedding Day!
I'm going to enjoy my Priceline hotel getaway now.
I'll check in with you in another fifteen years.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tiger Mom and Mama Bear ~ Part Two

On the other side of the spectrum, we all have a little Tiger Mom in us. Oh you know we do! We want our kids to be the best, to work hard and to achieve the highest grades, sports and music accolades possible.

Sometimes I can feel a little Tiger Mom rising up. For sure, the Tiger Mom gene is in all us once we conceive too. We want the best for our kids. We want them to succeed and prosper. How many of us looked at our little babies in their basinets and wondered if they might grow up to be a doctor or a professional athlete or a world class musician?

It’s natural and good to want the best for our kids. God wants the same for all of his children.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:7-12

But what is best for our kids? Is it worldly fame, fortune and success? Not according to God. When we seek to honor God in our lives our perspective changes. Success is not the end goal! 2 Peter 3:17-18 says,

Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

For sure, I want my kids to do well in school. I want them to get good jobs. I want them to improve their athletic skills. But it’s not the most important thing. I don’t need to be a Tiger Mom and relentlessly push them to pursue success. It’s not Godly to be pushy, demeaning, unfair, mean or only offer conditional love. Help them. Yes. Support them. Absolutely. Encourage them. Yep.

Guiding them to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Christ is the utmost calling. We need to rely on Him for help and not let our natural instincts go Bear or Tiger unleashed.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tiger Mom and Mama Bear ~ Part One

I think something changes in a woman’s DNA the minute she conceives.  All of a sudden you feel desperate when you hear stories of missing, sick or neglected children.  It’s impossible to watch the news or a hallmark commercial without crying.  You can’t shake the feeling that this world is a horrible place.  But mostly, you’re totally cool with dying in defense of your offspring.  You want to mess with my kid?  Bring it on!

That’s what someone referred to as “Mama Bear Syndrome” on Facebook the other day.  It’s so true.  When someone treats our kids unfairly, rudely or is just plain mean it just rises up in all mothers.  Or when you have one of those moments where you don’t know where you kid is and instantly fear the worst?

I remember losing a child at Target a few years back.  They had a plan and were able to locate her quickly, but me?  I instantly went into a state of distress.  On the inside.  I was logical enough to play it cool on the outside.  There’s that feeling that this person you love so much is walking around outside of your care and protection.  It’s so wrong it makes us crazy!

Mama Bear popped in for a visit to me the other day.  In an instant after the debriefing, I was in Mama Bear mode.  I felt energy flowing through my veins. Protection to the death!

We instantly imagine the worst.  It’s love and care mixed with constant worry and guilt over being the sole provider of this child’s well-being.

I think God gives us that Mama Bear nature.  It is, after all, our job to protect our kids.  And that’s good.  However, Mama Bear syndrome can go a little too wild if we’re not careful.

Sometimes when there is a safety issue or an immediate need, it serves it’s purpose well.  But other time it may cause us to act or make a call or send an email that we’ll regret. Or worse yet, a Facebook post for all the world to see.  Emotions run high where our kids are concerned.  As they should.   As good as Mama Bear is at protecting her cubs, finesse and grace are not in her arsenal.

Sometimes Mama Bear is trying to play God.  Try as we might, we cannot protect our kids from everything this world has.  We cant’ protect them from accidents, sickness, death of loved ones or natural disasters.  We can and should be safety minded.  Car seats, helmets, seat belts are all great tools.  But ultimately we have to put our hands up and realize we can’t protect them from everything. 

The only one that can protect our kids truly is God.  He is our eternal protector.  The Mama Bear is us needs to be able to turn things over to Him.  He loves our kids even more than we do.  Which, quite frankly, is impossible to fathom isn’t it?

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”  John 10:27-30

So I want to use my Mama Bear card carefully.  For sure, I want to protect my kids with everything I have.  But I also don’t want to be so bearish that we have to live in a den away from the world.  However, I wouldn’t mind hibernating all winter! 

God gives us those instincts, but we need to trust Him and ask Him to help us use them in a gracious and Godly way.  And search our hearts if we are willing to put them securely in God’s hands not our own.

Jesus prays for all believers in the book of John.  He prays for our protection.  If you aren’t a believer and want to talk about what that means, please email me or call me. 

For now, soak in the prayer of Christ for you and me. And our kids.

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

John 17:11-19

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God Is Real

The following is a guest post by a mystery blogger.

Some people say they don’t believe in God.  To me that was crazy.  Now it is ultra crazy!  I am going to tell you a story about an eleven year old girl who was at a turning point in her life.

Let’s give this girl a name shall we?  Let’s call her Maggie.  Maggie was an eleven year old girl who had just gone to a Bright Lights conference with some friends.  She was super excited.  She decided to pray and read her Bible more.  So when she got home that Tuesday night, she prayed.  She prayed for a baby animal of any sort.  Well, she kind of thought it wouldn’t happen because they already had two dogs and two bunnies.  But she prayed anyway.  Maggie prayed every night for six days.

On the seventh day Maggie and her mom were coming back from volleyball.  When they got out of the car they heard a faint siren sound.  They weren’t sure what it was but then a kitten came running out from under the porch.  her mom was wary about it but Maggie wasn’t.  She ran inside and told her dad about the kitten.  Her sister Abby came out and wanted to help.

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Maggie put blankets inside and Abby put dog food in a dish.  Maggie got hot milk and put it in a bowl.  They shut the gate and went inside to try to fall asleep.

In the morning all the girls (there were four of them) ran out to take care of the cat.  They all wanted to help.  Their mom and dad announced that they were going to try and find the owner.

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The brother, Grant, wanted to know if they were going to keep it.  He didn’t want to.  The days flew by.  Everyone had fun with the cat.  On Saturday, Maggie went around to all the houses near them to see if the cat belonged to anyone.  No one knew who it belonged to.  So Maggie biked to the local gas station and put up a found sign and bought some cat food.

The next day Maggie’s mom got facebooked that Maggie’s bus driver was missing two calico kittens.  The kids had started to call the cat Cassie.  The bus driver’s daughter came and looked at the kitten.  It was hers.  The cat’s real name was Dolly.  Maggie was disappointed for a few days but got over it. 

In the process of looking for the owner of the cat, Maggie met a neighbor with kittens.  She offered to give one to Maggie.  Maggie’s super awesome Mom and Dad let them get a kitten to keep to replace the one they had to give back.  She is an orange tabby cat.  She is four months old and they named her Juliette.  Here is a picture.

DSCF7797

 

Oh by the way, Maggie’s real name is Jenna.  Jenna Keller.  Yep, you guessed it.  I was that little girl.  Juliette still lives to the day.  So that just proves God is real and he answers prayers.  Whenever in doubt think about me and the cats, then pray.  God listens.  I can promise you that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Priorities

Everyone is busy.  Especially at this time of the year.  Even though we don’t want to be too busy, we love busy. 

“How are you?”

“Busy!” 

Being busy can be good.  Grant and Jenna had a great fall sports season.  Those are great learning and growing experiences.  We are starting basketball season, always a highlight of our winter.

Busy can get you out of stuff too.  When asked to do something we don’t really want to do anyway, we can plead busy.  And everyone is like, yeah ok you are busy.  Busy is a free pass.

My friend and I were debriefing after a conference about busyness with our kids and the many things we are involved in.  She was wondering if it wouldn’t be just as beneficial to stay home and play a board game as it is running to yet another event or club.

I agree.  We run in so many directions trying to please the kids. Or ourselves as Moms.  There are lots of good things out there to be involved in.  If you have a few kids, before you know it the busy train is out of control.

Whether we get involved in too much due to trying to keep the kids happy or trying to fill in the empty the result can be the same:  total drain of quality family time. 

It’s hard to find a balance.  It’s hard to say no.  When I say no or back out of things I worry about hurting people’s feeling or letting them down. 

As I’m getting further along the parenting road, it’s easier to see the big picture.  My aim isn’t to be involved in as much as I can.  I’ll never be able to give my kids every opportunity no matter how hard I try.

My job is to point my kids to Christ.  My job is to be there for them.  That should be an honor and a privilege from God, not a burden I try to run away from.

So I put my money where my mouth is.  I don’t know how much worth that statement has because my mouth is way bigger than any  amount of money I’ll ever have.  Maybe I bit the bullet and quit.

We backed out of a club.  We backed out of a lesson.  I don’t feel bad about it at all.  I feel free.  I’m less of a wreck about getting to all our stuff.  The kids don’t really seem to care.  In fact, they are happy about it.

Last night I decided not to run out on my family to get to Bible study social night.  I don’t like skipping things but we were having a great dinner.  There was much laughter.  Then we got out Scrabble and played that with the older kids. I realized I didn’t have to bug out.  And I didn’t want to.

Our family has a favorite TV show.  All of us love it.  We named our cat after one of the characters.  We don’t have cable so we have to buy a season pass on iTunes and download it each week.  So we have to watch it on the computer.   The first night the kids moved the couches and chairs and set them up movie theater style.  I wasn’t too thrilled with that at first.  But as I was in the kitchen making popcorn, I thought big picture.

In ten years will I mind that we moved the furniture one night a week and ate popcorn in the living room?  Or will I remember these glory days of the family all together? 

TV nights and game nights solidify this fact in my mind:  THIS IS THE STUFF!  This is the stuff that matters.  Not if they were in gymnastics or hockey or dance or art club or girl scouts or boy scouts or 4H.  Doing stuff together is my priority.  Everything else better be ready to get out of the way.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Joy Sucker~ Part 2

There are a lot of people that can be joy suckers.  I’m sure I have been one, maybe without even realizing it.  Which is a good reminder to give grace to joy suckers instead of just being mad or hurt.

The other big joy sucker in life though are circumstances.  When life is good, we are healthy, there is money in the bank, people like us I tend to feel joyful.

But is that really joy?  Joy is not just happiness.  If I let my circumstances dictate my joy level, I’m pretty much doomed to defeat.  This world we live in is a tough place.  People are mean.  Families are fractured.  Jobs are demanding.  Money is tight.  Health is fragile.  Futures are uncertain.  It doesn’t take long living here to realize it’s not all unicorns and bubble gum.

I’ve been experiencing growing frustrations in several areas.  And it seems that it has sucked my joy.  I am indifferent about a lot of things because I’m weary of the battle.  When I hit this point I find myself going through the motions or just trying to get through the next thing.

But again, if my joy is based on Jesus Christ and his glorious salvation, it doesn’t matter what is going on around me.  I’ll be filled with unmatchable, unexplainable joy.  Joy in the hope that is to come.  Joy in the amazing grace of the Savior.  Joy in being forgiven.

Our church meets in a school.  It’s a lot of work to get things hauled in, set up and taken down every week.  Now that we’ve been at this for 13 years, it’s getting tiresome for all of us.  As a church we are exhausted.  There aren’t that many of us. 

It happens from time to time, that after cleaning up all the kids stuff and scraping play dough off the floor and hauling it all out to the van, I find that the coffee and information tables still need to be broken down.  I do it but it usually involves some grumbling.

Last week, I came around the corner on my way to finish cleaning up the kid mess, to find my daughter and her friend taking down the tables.  They were putting away the brochures and folding up tablecloths.  But they weren’t grumbling.  They were chatting and laughing.  It was a beautiful scene.

Those girls were filled with joy and serving from the heart.  They have gone to our church long enough that they really don’t know any different.  We set up, we take down. 

I hope I never forget that beautiful picture of them working together.  Our circumstances don’t dictate our joy.  Our joy is Jesus and He never changes.  So no matter what is going on around me.  No matter what makes me sad or mad or frustrated.  It can’t suck my joy. 

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,

though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,

though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes me feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go to the heights. 

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Look up not around.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Joy Sucker ~ Part One

It happened again the other day.  I’ve experienced it many times before.  I go to a meeting all excited about whatever it is we are planning, only to have all my joy and excitement sucked away by a joy sucker. 

Oh, you know the type.  They can always find something wrong with the plan, something negative to say or have some ominous comment. 

It kind of reminds me of this.

So, I left yet another meeting feeling like I had been popped in the chin.  Sometimes it seems easy enough to shake it.  But this it just sapped all my joy.  I moped around like a limp noodle for a few days.  I couldn’t really focus and I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

I called God out on this one.  I mean, really, what gives?  Here we are working, working, working for Him and this is what we get? 

Do you know what happened?  I started to think of Bible verses.  Verses that made me realize that if some joy sucker can steal my joy, then I’m doing something wrong.

If my joy is in plans or events or meetings, it will be really easy to strip it away.  But, if my joy is in Christ no one can suck it away. 

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord.  I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  Habakkuk 3:17-18

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”  John 15:11

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

When I feel like my joy is all sucked up and don’t want to press on, I have to wonder where is my joy coming from?  If it’s from anything or anyone other than Jesus Christ I’ve got problems.  Then the whole world becomes a giant joy sucker.

When Christ is my joy, it’s everlasting.   No one can suck it away. 

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Why Do We Live Here?

I have to admit I ask myself why we live here a lot over the winter months.  It’s a valid question.  It gets cold.  It snows.  It lasts for months. 

This fall has been totally miraculous though. Trick or Treating weather was beautiful!  And the candy collecting is pretty awesome.  We go to houses that give us pounds of candy.

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Today the calendar said November 3rd, but it was sunny and warm.  I had a hot date at my favorite place,  the lake. 

Today is the kind of day that I wonder why everyone doesn’t live here.

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Soon enough winter will come and I’ll be frozen and crabby and wondering why on earth we live here.  But for today, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Does God Take Away?

Church people really like to preach about how God answers prayers.  We love to tell stories of how God provided.  Miracles and angels.  The bigger, more amazing story the better.  I have to admit that I did that just the other day in Sunday school. 

Our lesson was on the coming birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25).  His parents were old and wanted children.  An angel came and told them they would have a son.  I wanted to use a more modern example, so I told the kids about Jenna and the kitten.

She had been praying for a baby animal to take care of and last week there was a lost kitten under our deck.  What a great story!  God answered the prayer of a young girl for an animal.  It fit perfectly with the lesson. 

The kids wanted to keep the cat.  But since we found the kitten, we’ve been asking our neighbors if they are missing a cat.  Jenna put up a sign at the gas station.  I could just tell that with every neighbor that said it wasn’t theirs her hopes grew.  She was hoping that the cat could be hers.

Sunday night we heard from a farm down the road.  They were missing two cats.  Their daughter came down to look at it and it was hers.  She was so happy that she was a little teary.  The kitten had been gone for three weeks so they figured it was gone.  Jenna gave it back and I think she was happy for them.  We knew that it might just be our job to take care of it for a little while.

After she had been in a bed a while, she came back out crying.  I had to wonder what kind of answer to prayer that was.  We love the dramatic stories and concrete answers to our prayers.  That didn’t seem like a very good ending to answered prayer.

Why would God answer her prayer in such an amazing way only to have to give it back a week later?  Come to think of it, I wonder other things about God.  Why doesn’t he answer my prayers?  Why does it seem so easy for everyone else?  Where’s my dramatic story?  Or my concrete answer?

I think more people probably have questions like that than dramatic miracles.  Deep down we all know prayer doesn’t work like that.  God is not a vending machine.  So what’s the point?  Why bother?

Certainly God does answer big at times.  It shows his power and glory.  Sometimes he doesn’t answer in a way we think makes sense.  But He hears our prayers. 

I think a lot of Job and his misery.  He was a Godly man and yet he had everything taken away from him. It comes to mind even more because his words are in one of my favorite songs.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:20-21

Prayer can be a matter of trust.  So often I use my prayers to try to control God.  To get what I want.  What seems fair.  Or what others have. 

It’s wrong because that is such a small view of God.  He owns it all.  He loves me so much that He made the ultimate sacrifice.  He gives, he takes away.  Do I trust Him?  Do I have faith in the fact that He is good and all-knowing?

Sometimes he takes things that are much more difficult than a lost little kitten. 

I went to a funeral for a young man recently.  When I saw his little six year old son crying his eyes out I thought my heart might break into pieces.  Where is God in that?

I’ll never understand.  The pain on this earth can be horrendous.  But if we trust Christ, it is temporary!  We’ll leave this world and enter into eternal glory.

For an eleven year old, giving up the kitten she thought was God’s answer to her prayers could be a faith buster.  But it can also be a faith builder.  In little things, we learn to let God reign.  We can learn to trust.  We can learn to love and take care of what he’s given us while we have it.  To praise Him.  And let go, when he takes it. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Animal Prayers

I’m not an animal lover.  Well, I didn’t used to be until God blessed me with kids that do.  Now we have two dog and two bunnies.  I feel overly satisfied with that.

I went to pick Jenna up late last night from the volleyball bus.  When we got out of the car, I heard a funny sound.  It sounded like the alarms were going off at the gas plant again.  It’s always comforting to know there could be an explosion at any moment a stone’s throw from your house.  But it was too soft.  Maybe an explosion would be better than what we actually found.

It sounded like… meowing?  Jenna hopped out of the car and went running. 

“A cat, a cat! There’s a cat under the deck”. 

And so there was.  It is actually a very friendly kitten.  She went in and woke Abby. 

“Can we keep it?” they echoed in unison.

“Why not?  As long as it doesn’t come in the house.”  I said.

“You let two wild dogs in the house, but you won’t let one little kitten in?”  they said.

Mike is concerned.  He doesn’t like cats.  But more because he feels like people are going to think he drugged me or something.  Maybe he’s abusing the submission principle and forcing me to acquire animals now that we are done having babies. 

He says if we feed a cat it will never go away.  Then he goes to get some dog food for it, which it wolfed right down. 

They got a blanket for it and put it in our pet carrier for the night. 

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As the girls are getting into bed, Jenna starts jumping up and down. 

“I’ve been praying for a baby animal to take care of!” 

How do you argue with that?  It’s seriously a dream come true for them.  A concrete answer to the prayer of an eleven year old.

When they woke up this morning they ran to tell Annie.  All three girls were on my bed at 6:30 a.m., they couldn’t have been more excited had it been Christmas.

We told them we have to try to find out if it belongs to anyone.  We are not Keller Animal Rescue. 

This morning Maren and I put it in the kennel to keep it away from the dogs. 

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It got right out and made itself at home on the deck.

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Buddy and Daisy are very curious.  I have spent most of my morning playing pet rescuer.  It makes sense, since I am the one who loves animals so much.  I even picked the darn thing up.

One thing I’ve learned this year is that pets are a great experience for kids.  It teaches them responsibility and breeds love.

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How can you not go with it when it especially when it comes in the form of answered prayer? 

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We’ll definitely call our neighbors to see if anyone is missing a cat.  It’s possible the answer to prayer is just taking care of it for a while. 

It’s also possible that we’ll buy a little cat food when we are out on errands this morning. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Needed

There are days I wonder what I’m doing here.  People have always wondered why I stay home.  Even when all my kids were little and it would have cost a million dollars a week to put them all in day care.  I think lots of people felt sorry for me.  And often times I felt sorry for myself too. 

Giving to our kids is a thankless job.  They need food.  They need clean clothes.  They need to be cleaned up after.  All they do is take, take, take.  It’s exhausting. 

This morning while I was still in bed, I heard stomping and complaining because a jersey wasn’t clean for today.  What she didn’t know is that I had stayed up late getting it washed after last night’s game and it was in the drier. 

I put dinner in the oven last night before I left.  There was no praise for that.  Well, except my husband’s thanks, but who cares about that.   No one wrote on Facebook or Twitter about how great it was for me to cook or stay up late washing my kids’ clothes. 

I just spent an hour putting together a princess puzzle on the floor.  I hate puzzles.  It’s an hour that I didn’t get anything else done.  I think it’s God’s sense of humor that my kids like them so much.

I think that’s why I fall into the trap of looking for a bunch of other things to fill my days with.  Things that will give me praise and a sense of achievement. 

Whether you have a paid job or not, we all seek to fill up our days with stuff.  We get involved in committees and activities.  We do all sorts of stuff that people will rave over us for because it makes us feel good. 

Even if we have a paycheck and a career, it never feels like enough. We bring our kids to countless activities because others will see what “good” moms we are.  At times, all that extra stuff is a negative for our family.  It leaves me exhausted and cranky.  And all of a sudden doing the stuff around here seems like a prison sentence. 

Last night while I was doing the laundry I found myself surfing through the job listings.  All of a sudden I wondered what on earth was I doing?

Having a job and being on committees can all be good.  But why do we buy the lie that what we do at home for our families isn’t important or valuable?  Or use outside things as an escape or to fill a void?  Do we really believe that mothering isn’t enough.  It’s not a big contribution.  And maybe by investing in it, I’m shortchanging myself. 

Well, I doubt anyone would want my job.  And no one should.  It’s my family that God has blessed me with.  It’s an honor to serve them by spending time doing puzzles and supporting them by cleaning their clothes, feeding them and making sure they brush their teeth.

It’s a blessing to have kids.  A gift from God.  So I need to choose to care for them with joy.  And love them with God’s love.  When I do, the feelings follow and God provides the strength.

Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that. Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message)

Nothing we do is unnoticed by God.

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  Matthew 6:1-4

God treasures the things we do for Him.  Even the things no one else notices or sees, He rewards. 

Don’t believe the lie that mothering is not important.  Don’t go looking for lesser things to busy yourself with for a little empty praise.  Look to Jesus.  He loves you and has given you a gift in your family.

The added benefit is day by day, I’m changing.  I’m learning to rely on Him and stay humble.  Because, seriously, what’s more humble than washing your kids’ dirty sports clothes or changing diapers or making bottles in the middle of the night? 

Our kids aren’t obstacles, they are gifts from God.  Serve them with joy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Committed

We’ve been reading missionary stories in our house again lately.  They always have such a big impact on us.  We read about people facing gun fire, starvation, unfriendly soldiers and they continue to stand firm for Christ.  They didn’t back down or run home.  Even if it meant death.

I had also recently read a story about a pastor in Iran that was scheduled to be executed for his faith.  This kind of stuff doesn’t just happen in missionary story books.  There are people all over the world giving their lives for Christ.  Risking their freedom to attend church.  Willing to go to jail to bring God’s word to others. 

Here in America we have access to Bibles, churches, websites, podcasts.  We have the freedom to worship and share Jesus with others.  And what do we do? 

We whine because we get home late on Sundays.  We’re hungry.  We might miss the kick off of the football game. 

We don’t want to commit to helping out at church because it might tie us down.  We want to be able to sleep in or go out of town on weekends. 

We don’t take time to read the bible but we spend hours a day reading blogs, Facebook and twitter.  We watch hours of TV or movies, but can’t give an hour a week to serve.

We leave a church because we want our needs to be met.  Maybe we even get a little from different churches.  We like the music at one place, youth group at another, and Bible study at yet another.

I have people tell me that we are just a busy culture.  People are working more.  People are running more.  But isn’t it a busy we choose?  We don’t have to work nearly as hard at surviving as people used to. 

We are busy chasing around.  Trying to do more things, please ourselves, make more money so we can buy more things. 

And all of a sudden no one has time for God.  Or church.  

Church attendance is certainly not the end all or be all of being a Christian.  But God calls us to serve. 

“Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:28

To share. 

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.  Luke 10:1-2

To commit.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life  will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  Mark 8:34-35

If we just take from churches without being committed to them, how will their ministry continue?  How will they accomplish God’s work?

If we live selfishly and only squeeze God in when it’s convenient for us, are we really following Him?

Is Jesus Christ something you believe in or just another activity on your list?  I probably won’t be asked to die or go to jail for my faith.  But can I die to myself and be committed to Him? 

When we have the desire and make the choice to commit ourselves to Him, He’ll give us the strength to do it. 

I want to live my life in a way that reflects the passion of the missionaries in our book.  I want to be fully committed to Him.  And if everyone else falls away, Lord, give me the strength to keep standing. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What am I Going to do with Myself?

Last week as I was musing about the change of seasons in my life, people’s question “What are you going to do with yourself now?” kept nagging.

Not to worry, I have lots of things to do.  Besides all the cooking, cleaning, laundry and shopping there is to do to keep a family of seven going, there is also piano lessons, sports, church stuff and 4H.  We have two dogs and one rabbit.  Plus, I like to read and try to exercise.

So, just because Maren is spending 8 hours a week at preschool, I’m not exactly free as a bird.

At the same time, things are getting easier.  I can do projects without being interrupted as often.  The kids do not need constant supervision like they did when they were babies and toddlers.  I can kind of, sort of remember those days.

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So, what am I going to do?  Now that my time constraints and responsibilities are changing, what does God want from me?  I did enjoy a little alone time last week.  That’s good to do.  But more time doesn’t mean I should become more self-involved and turn inward.

I think I found some guidance in some verses I was reading last week.  One of my favorite verses for a long time has been:

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”  Isaiah 58:11

It’s underlined in my bible.  Who doesn’t want to be satisfied and strengthened?  Something I have learned doing inductive Bible studies over the past few years though, is that you have to read the verse in context.  What’s before it, and after.  What is going on in history?

Well, if you read the verses right before those, that are not underlined or highlighted, it says this:

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”  Isaiah 58:9b-10

These verses come when God is pleading with Israel to come back to him and turn their back on stubbornness and idolatry.  He is telling them that although they legalistically continue to fast, when their hearts are not right with Him and they continue to sin it means nothing.

That’s why in Isaiah 58:6-7, he says,

“Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

It seems that God is interested in me using my time for others.  Spending myself for the oppressed and needy.  Not using every extra minute for my own selfish desires. 

My heart is so heavy for women.  There are so many pressures and hurts that it feels impossible to make it through life.  Maybe there are ways I can use my time to encourage other women around me.  It might be as simple (and delicious) as having a cup of coffee. 

My heart is especially heavy for young moms.  It is a hard stage of life.  Oh, it’s super wonderful too.  But the exhausting, relentless needs of babies and toddlers wears on you.  It did on me.  And I don’t think I even realized it.

One way I could spend myself for others is to offer help to other moms.  Maybe I could babysit for an afternoon so they could get a little alone time.  Maybe at the lake.  Or maybe just a nap. 

I just about had an epic fail already.  One of my friends needed me to watch her two and four year old today.  I really didn’t want to.  How would I get all my stuff done while chasing a two year old?  Plus, I’m kind of over changing diapers.

But guess what?  Having a two year old here is absolutely delightful.  I fed her doughnuts and candy corn which I’m sure her mom will appreciate when she tries to put her down for a nap. 

There are people around me that need help.  They may not be a slave or walking around with no clothes but they need the love of Jesus.  It’s plain to see that God wants me to use my time for that.  To spend myself.  Not just spend on myself.

And as Isaiah says,

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.  then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say:  Here I am.”  Isaiah 58:8-9

 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tourists In Our Backyard

Our neighbor has a corn maze.  My mom and I walked over there with the girls this weekend for a little tourist trip.  In our own backyard.  Well, technically it’s in our front yard.

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Maren was very excited about filling in all the blanks on her map.

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They also had a hay bale maze.

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And lots of pumpkins.

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Photo ops!

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We gave some real tourists directions.

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Then we walked back home.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Date Night

My husband and I are not romantics.  We love each other and love to be together but don’t get into the mushy stuff.  We aren’t good at fancy dates. 

Our friends gave us a gift certificate for a dinner cruise on Lake Superior.  They moved away before they had a chance to use it.  We were bound and determined to use it for two reasons.  One, because we’re cheap.  And two, because we would be the type that would not get around to making a reservation and let it go to waste. 

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I feel like I deserve extra credit date points for trying to wear a scarf.

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As we pulled out on the water, I got this crazy, caged up feeling.  Like I’m stuck on this boat with these people and I can’t get away for two hours!  I think a cruise is not my future.

On the boat you are seated with strangers.  We sat down to a couple on their honeymoon.  Oh, the pressure!  We didn’t want to be the weird people that ruined their honeymoon.  That helped us behave and not be super sarcastic. 

Dinner was fine, but it felt like work.  We spend a lot of time at weddings and events making small talk with people we don’t know.  I like to talk, but it isn’t exactly my idea of a fun date. 

We braved the cold air to try to take in the views.  Please note if you ever take one of these cruises, do it in the summer!  This is the only picture we got.  I think it’s blurry because the lady who took it was in the early stages of hypothermia.

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After we got off, we walked over to Caribou and had a great time.

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Our date coincided nicely with the end of the 30 day husband challenge.  We haven’t always done a good job of getting away and doing things by ourselves, but it’s really important.  It’s worth the time and effort.  It’s worth the money for a babysitter.  It’s always good to take the time to be together and do something different. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Lone Ranger

I love my family.

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I love the chaos, noise, the piles of shoes.  Sometimes, though, I can’t help but feel like I’m being suffocated.  Everyone needs me.  Everyone wants something from me.  I can rarely complete a task without being interrupted.  It takes lots of time to keep up on the house, laundry and cooking plus squeeze in quality time with everyone. 

Even though I love people and activity, I’m a little bit of a loner.  I do like some time to myself.  That has been nearly impossible to come by for the last decade, except for a midnight trip to the grocery store.

When people hear Maren is in preschool they usually ask me, “What are you going to do with yourself?”

Let me tell you, I have some ideas.  It might be nice to take a ride and listen to what I want on the radio.  Park where I want, go where I want, eat what I want. 

Wednesday during preschool I did the mom thing.  Errands and baking and housework.  Yesterday, I thought I should whoop it up a little.  I had it all planned out.

It involved these

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and this

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and  this.

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I wanted to go jog on the Lakewalk.  It’s my favorite place, but no one in my family shares my desire to go there all the time!

It was not meant to be.  The weather was rainy, windy and cold.  The last place you want to be on a day like that is on the shore of Lake Superior.  I pouted a little.

However, I spent a nice afternoon in my quiet house.  It was so peaceful.  I did use my shoes and iPod and hopped on the treadmill.  However this view,

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could never match this one.

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I’ll find another nice fall day to go to the Lakewalk.  And have a cup of Caribou.  But even staying at home was a nice breather today.  Just a little time to myself.  Time to think.  Time to recharge.  Time to be alone.

They key is to find a way to reenergize myself so that after a little bit of time to breathe, I am ready to go back to my crazy, suffocating, full life and love it. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Seasons Change

I love the change of seasons.  Even though at times I want to hold on to the heat of summer.  And I dread the coming of winter.  But to be sure as summer heat gives way to cool evenings and leaves burst into brilliant colors,

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the seasons change.  There is no way to stop it.

So it is with life.  Time marches on, things change.

Today was Maren’s first day of preschool.  She’ll be gone three afternoons a week.  I’ve had babies and toddlers in the house for 13 years.  I thought the day would never come when the last one would have somewhere else to go besides here.

She packed her backpack.

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Chose a dress and did her hair.

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And happily walked out the door.

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Her Dad and I took her to lunch before her big day.

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We picked up her friend.

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They walked up the stairs and into a whole new season filled with teachers, friends and school.

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There was no clinging or crying.  Just big smiles.  Which was really nice after the last time I brought someone to preschool!

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She found her name tag.  And some friends to play with.

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I left and walked into my own new season.  I went to the grocery store alone.  And it wasn’t midnight.

I’m driving a big empty van.

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There was no one to fight over who got to lick the beater of cookie dough.  So I did.

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She came off the bus beaming and talked about school all through dinner. 

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My favorite season has always been fall.  I love the cooler weather and beautiful colors. But I hate what comes next so I started to rethink if I should love fall after all. 

Every season has a beauty of it’s own: the new growth in spring, the warmth of summer, the colors of fall and the coziness of winter.  I can’t keep it fall forever, so I may as well embrace and enjoy every season as it comes. 

In weather and in life.

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