My Fab Fam

My Fab Fam
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Monday, April 30, 2012

A Passionate Love

I'll warn ya, this is long.  (I know that's not incredibly unusual for me.)  But my heart is heavy and I don't know how to condense this.  Sorry ahead of time.

Studying Revelation for the THIRD time--as I try to relate what little I've learned from the previous two turns through it to a very patient and forgiving group of women--has been painful.  I'm now supplementing Beth Moore's wisdom with Ann Graham Lotz's wisdom, found in her book, A Vision of His Glory: Finding Hope Through the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  Ann said something recently that was both painful and wonderful as it brought some enlightenment to me about the state of my heart.

Let me back up.  The first time I took Beth Moore's Revelation study, I was greatly grieved by a passage in chapter 2.  Jesus is speaking to the church in Ephesus, and after offering them some commendations for their deeds, hard work, and perseverance, He warns them, "Yet I hold this against you:  you have forsaken your first love.  Consider how far you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first."  I knew without a doubt that God was speaking to me.  I've often recalled with GREAT longing the intimacy that I shared with God at one time, but I didn't know how to get back there.  I've struggle with it for years, and more intensely for months, until recently.  God used Ann to articulate feelings and thoughts I couldn't fully understand or express.  Here's what she said about personally hearing Jesus' call to repent and return to her first love:

"Because a 'first love' is an emotional, affectionate, passionate love, and because emotions really can't be controlled or dictated, I responded, 'Lord, how? I want to repent of losing my first love for You.  I want to stop not loving You emotionally and affectionately and passionately.  But how, Lord?  I am willing to repent, but I don't know how."

That has been my question for months.  Years.  Like Ann said, "Although I had been having times of daily Bible reading and prayer, although I enjoyed fellowship with other believers and was serving the Lord, I was not spending time in concentrated Bible study on my own" (emphasis mine).  She goes on to say she had been giving out messages that had been previously prepared, but she had studied nothing new or fresh in months.  I could not believe how much I related to her on all points.

God is a personal God.  He wants to speak directly to us.  But I had gotten in the habit of hearing Him speak through others.  That is not intimacy.  And it is not a fulfilling relationship with the Lord.  And it left me extremely frustrated.

I equate it to only hearing our husbands (insert boyfriend, friend, parent, child, sister, etc.) through a messenger.  Imagine if every time our man wanted to speak to us, he sent his messenger, and every time we wanted to share a funny story, or seek his advice, or receive some encouragement, we relied on a messenger to tell us how he laughed, or relay his counsel, or give us his hug.  Um, not quite the same, huh?  I'm not really sure that's a relationship at all.  Or, if it is, I'd venture to say it's an affair--with the messenger.

But I wonder how many Christians go through their entire faith walk, relying on messengers to tell them how awesome God is.  I wonder how many of us never feel God speak to us personally, or never receive supernatural comfort or peace or reassurance, firsthand.  I wonder how many of us never feel the freedom to share our deepest, darkest secrets and questions with Him.  Never get angry with Him.  Never laugh with Him.  Never dance with Him.

Think about it.  The people with whom you have the most intimate relationships know your full range of emotions--tears, laughter, and yes even anger.  Now how intimate are you and God?

I feel a weird ache in my stomach right now as I type because I've been on both extremes--from denying God to knowing Him intimately as my first love.  The later is bliss.  The former is misery.  And anywhere in between is pure frustration.  I'm here to tell you the frustration of believing Him to be the One True God but not experiencing intimacy with Him is almost as bad as the misery of not knowing or believing God at all.

I wonder if we as Christians often find ourselves frustrated with our faith walk because we are hearing others' stories about how God spoke to them or healed them or comforted them, and all the while we are wondering, "Why doesn't He do that for me?"  He would!  He wants to!  He's waiting for us to seek Him as the treasure that He is.  We are starving, and He is our food; we look at Him--our feast--then turn around and keep on moving.  We wonder from one food substitute to the next, trying to satisfy our hunger when all the while there's this feast:  the Bread of Life.  What in the world?

I wonder if the reason so many Christians seem to live lives that are indistinguishable from the world is because we have lost our first love.  Maybe if we're honest we never really had our first love.  Maybe we believe that the God of the Bible is the One True God but we don't really know Him.  Maybe we even know ALL ABOUT Him, from Genesis to Revelation, but we don't really know HIM. The One Who has come to give us life--life more abundant than most of us are really enjoying. We are looking for fulfillment, for something more than what we've got, but we refuse to trust Him when He tells us that He is everything we are looking for. So we go to church, read our devotionals and Christian books, try to be kind and good and patient, and wonder why the heck we are so frustrated and unsatisfied. We don't know Jesus!

Satan has lulled us to sleep.  He wants us to think knowing about God and knowing God are one and the same.  If our enemy can keep us in this place of complacency, then we'll never be all that different from the world, even though we know we should be.  And if we aren't what we know we should be, then we are frustrated.

So what can motivate us to live radically sold-out, satisfying lives?  Knowing the One we are living for.  We won't be frustrated and we won't be concerned about what anyone else thinks (those silly comparison games) if we know we are pleasing the only One that matters.  A verse comes to mind:  "Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galations 1:10).

It is my heartfelt prayer tonight that every single person I know knows the Most High better than s/he know anyone on this planet.  That each of us will seek Him as the greatest treasure, and seek Him more often than we seek food or water.  That we put intimacy with Him before intimacy with our husbands, boyfriends, children, parents, or friends.  (And this one really steps on my toes...)  That we place a higher priority on KNOWING Him than SERVING Him.  That we love Him with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength.

If you've never experienced His all-consuming love in a way that literally blew your mind, maybe now's the time to ask Him to be your everything.  Ask Him to blow your ever-lovin' mind!  No, I mean it.  Tell Him your doubts--that He really exists, that He really loves us, that He really can act on our behalf, that He really still speaks to His children, that He really can perform miracles, that He really can satisfy your EVERY longing--and ask Him to remove them, every one.  Then give Him some time to show off. Exhibit a little bit of faith: open his autobiography, daily, and trust Him to reveal something new to you. Ask Him to speak to you. As Beth says (yes, that would be Beth Moore), get a yes in your spirit: "Yes, Lord, I know you're gonna speak to me today!"

Or, if you've witnessed God's amazing power and you can clearly recall the feeling of being head-over-heels in love with God Almighty, but you haven't done any flips in a long time, maybe now's the time to ask Him to show you how to repent of losing your first love and reignite the passion.  I did.

Ann said that when she asked God how to repent, He seemed to say two things:  1)  "Remember" what I did for you on the cross, and 2) "Do the things you did at first" (Rev 2:5).  When she thought about what she had done at the height of her love for Christ that she wasn't doing at the time of Jesus' rebuke, she knew the thing that was missing was in-depth personal Bible study.  So did I.  She said she began that very day to open Scriptures with the intention of having personal time with God.  So did I.  And it is not for the purpose of preparing a lesson, or doing homework for a class, or checking it off my to-do list, or for any other reason than to enjoy some time with a King, a Savior, and a Friend.  She said she began seeing immediate results.  So did I--the very first day!

His Word is powerful.  We cannot encounter it without being transformed.  God tells us that His Word is just like the rain and snow that waters the earth and does not return to the heavens without accomplishing the purpose for which He sent it.  In the same way, when we read His Word, looking for Him to speak, expecting Him to act, He sends it forth into our hearts and it will accomplish His purpose in our lives and we will be satisfied, and better still, we will be transformed into His likeness (paraphrased from Isaiah 55 and 2 Corinthians 3:28).  I am believing in a transformation.  I hope you will join me.

I know I've quoted this before, but it's one of my favorite promises in Scripture; when Satan tells me I'm a mess, I come right back, with this:  "Though outwardly I'm wasting away, inwardly I'm being renewed day by day."  God promises it, and because I've witnessed His promises fulfilled, I know this one's true too.  He makes ALL THINGS NEW.  That includes me and you.

I'm confessing my sin of omission (failing to have concentrated Bible study) with you today because I think accountability is crucial.  God tells us that if we know the good we ought to do and don't do it, that is sin for us (James 4:17).  I know I need to diligently dig into the Word every day.  God says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).  Why?  Because "The Word of God is alive and powerful.  It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow.  It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires"  (Hebrews 4:12).  It is alive and it brings life.  He wants us to diligently dig into the Bread of Life because we are hungry.  Some of us may have even been hungry for so long that we have gotten used to the feeling and don't even know that we are hungry.  This is a real phenomenon.  If you go long enough without food, you don't want it as much.  But you still NEED it.  You need the nutrients or you will become unhealthy.  You'll waste away, unconsciously.

So, it's my theory that if we go long enough without Jesus, we don't want Him as much.  But we still NEED Him.  We need the life-giving power of His Words or we'll become unhealthy.  Wasting away, unconsciously.  I've been there and, not only is it dangerous, it is miserable.


I appreciate reminders.  Feel free to ask me if I've been pierced by the sWord lately.  =)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Imposed Quietness

God has been dealing with me on a few points for a couple of weeks and, as of last Friday, I had considered not posting anything for a while. Well, it wasn't a hard and fast decision, but life circumstances have made blogging an impossibility anyway. So, there you go. Decision made for me.

My man is the director of our local Habitat for Humanity and he is in the middle of a two week building blitz, which is when the affiliate basically builds two houses in two weeks. Caravanners, volunteers who travel to various Habitat build sites in RV's and camp for a week or two while they "help build it," come to our area every spring and fall to help with these blitzes. This is the second of the two weeks they are here. They work everyday from about 8 to 3 and there are evening meals, fellowships, and events most evenings. Throw in a home-builders expo that took up most of the weekend between the two weeks of the build and you've got yourself a glimpse into the craziness we call life right now.

So, until the Caravanners have said goodbye, I must say goodbye. Only temporarily, friends. I have already begun some posts that I am excited to finish and share with you. Until then...goodnight.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Vision of His Glory

Don't you just love it when God shows you something in His Word that you've never noticed before?!

I love the first few chapters of Ezekiel.  I have read them more times than I could possibly count because I love the glimpse we get of God's throne room, but I saw something yesterday that I had never noticed before.

In the very first verse of the book of Ezekiel, he tell us that he "saw visions of God;" so, we know what's coming.  But it never occurred to me that Ezekiel did not!  That perhaps he had NO IDEA what was coming when he saw the approaching storm.  A storm unmatched in power and intensity.  A storm unlike any storm Ezekiel had ever witnessed in his life.  And how long did it take this storm to approach?  How long did Ezekiel have to stand there, waiting to see if this storm was going to take him out?  When he saw a windstorm coming out of the north, an immense cloud with flashing lightning that was surrounded by brilliant light and looked to have a center of fire, I can only imagine the fear this might have struck initially.  I imagine it was only as this immense cloud drew nearer that Ezekiel was able to see that "in the fire was what looked like four living creatures" (v. 5).  I can just see him standing there, head down against the wind, eyes straining to see what's inside this massive cloud that has lightning bolts coming out all over the place and a center of fire--what in heaven's name?!  I imagine he stood in a trance-like state, feet frozen to the ground, too afraid and intrigued to move a muscle.  Then he sees what looks like creatures in the middle of the fire!  Can you imagine the intensity of this moment?  I think I would have fallen down as if dead right then, but Ezekiel holds out much longer.

He, in a God-given moment of strength and courage, stands through the storm, getting glimpses of heaven on earth, really!  He sees four living creatures that carry God's throne room wherever He wants to go, an awesome glassy expanse that separates the creatures from the rainbow-like radiance above their heads, and then he sees the One whose very presence creates the brilliant and beautiful radiance seated on His throne and glowing like fire.  Here's how he describes what he saw:

"...On the throne was a figure like that of a man.  I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him.  Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him" (v. 26-28).

And it was at this moment that Ezekiel fell face-down.  He was so overwhelmed by the One seated on the throne that he likely would have lain there for all eternity if the Spirit of the Lord had not come into him and lifted him to his feet (2:1).

And it occurred to me that perhaps I might fall too soon.  What about you?  Are you like me?  When you see an impending storm, awesome and overwhelming, is your tendency to fall down and cover your head in fear.  Are your eyes on the storm?  Or are your eyes on the One that brings the storm?  Are you willing to stand firm through the storm because you believe that God has brought it specifically for the purpose of making you into a stronger person and revealing His glory?  Are you willing to let the wind and rain slap you in the face while you risk being a lightning rod just so you can get a glimpse of God's awesome glory right in the middle of the pain and fear?

Do you fall at the sight of the storm or at the sight of the One that brings the storm?  My prayer now is that when I see an approaching storm, I will be able to stand until I see a vision of His glory; because no matter how awesome the storm may seem, I know my God is AWESOMER!  (And I don't care if that's not a word.)  If He brings me to it, He'll bring me through it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bath Time Epihpany

Have you ever noticed that you clean your tub and it stays clean...clean...clean...then...BAM!  One day you get in and there's mold.  And if you don't get it off right away it gets ugly, quickly!

So, I'm in the shower this morning and I notice mold on my curtain and think, "That wasn't there yesterday."  How does it go from clean to gross overnight?

The truth, of course, is that it doesn't.  We know those mold spores are there festering all the time.  But, like dust particles in the air, each one is invisible. It's only when you have a lot of them collect or grow on a surface, that they become visible.

I use very few cleaning agents in my house, mostly vinegar for everything.  But, I have not been able to ween myself off of bleach.  Because I have not found anything like it to kill mold and I am the craziest anti-mold person on the planet.  If I see mold, I immediately start thinking, "Are we breathing that stuff?!  Is it growing in places I can't see?"  And I attack it with bleach water.

Mold is nasty stuff and the spores are all around us.  The only way to ensure they don't get out of control is to regularly use some cleaning agent that destroys them.  For me, that's bleach.

There's a parallel here--one that seems so obvious now as I'm typing but seemed like such an epiphany when I was in the shower.  We are like the bathtubs, susceptible to all sorts of "spores" that are floating around looking for a surface on which to land and breed, spores such as greed, jealousy, idolatry, hatred, and selfishness.  There is only one cleaning agent that is effective at killing ALL of these terrible diseases: God's Word.  The spores can land on us each and every day, triggering moments of selfishness or envy, but if we are getting cleaned by the bleach of God's Word every single day, then land they may, but die they certainly will--and quickly!  But if we are not getting cleaned everyday, then the spores will multiply and grow until we start to feel dirty and gross and unattractive to God and the world.  And if we go long enough without any cleaning, pretty soon we won't just feel unattractive but our diseases will be obvious to the whole world.  Ugh.  Nasty stuff.

I don't know about you, but I need some bleach today.  I'm realizing that just one day without a proper cleaning is a seriously dangerous thing.  I do not want to give any ugly thing time to grow in my heart, and I've been so guilty of it.  Even of late.  I'm so grateful His mercies are new every morning.

"How sweet are your words to my taste; sweeter than honey to my mouth."  Psalm 119

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bad Stuff Minus Sleep Equals Goodness

Not following that equation, you say? Okay, let me break it down for you this way:

Bad Stuff--Girls had bad food today.
Minus Sleep--Girls had late naps and a late bed time.
Equals Goodness--We had a great day!

I have come to realize that I'm either Crazy Mom, overly concerned about healthy meals (you may only have whole grains, fruits, and veggies) and routine sleep (nap by 1, bed by 8), or I'm Chillaxin' Mom, anything goes for food, and sleep whenever you want; or don't; I don't care.

I am one extreme or the other.  I can not be relaxed and still maintain good habits.  Nor am I a crazy mom when I'm feeding my kids junk and throwing schedules out the window.  Well, that could be considered crazy behavior, but what I mean is when I have no regard for the food pyramid or nap schedules I'm not my usual psychotic control-freak self.

Today I was soooo relaxed and it was a totally great day, all the way around. I woke up about four, sick.  (Okay, hang with me, we're getting to the great part.  Actually that is probably the reason for the goodness because when I am sick I don't have the energy to be uptight about schedules or upset about feeding my kids food substitutes we call food.  Back to the point...)  Both of our alarms went off at six but I was just falling back asleep.  So, I woke up later.  Later as in after the first time, and later as in late, like 8.  Here's where things took a turn for the better.  Big girl had preschool at 9, I had MOPS at 9, and since baby girl gets to go to Moppets when I go to MOPS, all three of us had to be ready in less than an hour.  (See?  Better already.  No?  Keep hanging.)

Weirdness.  I am T-totally relaxed!  (Goodness has just popped over my horizon!)  At first I think there's no way I'm going to MOPS today, but then I decide I'm going to do it and just roll with the craziness.  Tame the bed head (in case you're wondering, we get baths at night), throw clothes on, brush teeth, and...

Here's a breakfast bar, girls.  (Bad stuff.)

Big girl is at least ten minutes late to preschool--first of many times, I'm sure.  After I drop her off, and since I'm already late, I decide to go grab a Starbucks drink for my breakfast.  (Goodness is shining full on my face.)  This detour takes more than a few minutes and leaving baby girl in the nursery doesn't go as smoothly as usual; so, by the time I get in my meeting, it's almost ten.  Chatting with several others mommas reassures me no one cares since many of them were late too.  And I still get in almost two hours of kid-free time.  (More goodness.)

Preschool and MOPS both end at noon.  Usually I am in a somewhat psychotic dash to get home, feed the girls, and get them down for nap.  Today, in my totally relaxed mood, I decide to do my grocery run first.  Unfortunately, I am hungry (major, major no-no to go to the store hungry) and buy all sorts of stuff that is NOT on my list--more breakfast bars, Funyuns, and Smartfood Popcorn.  (If you haven't had this popcorn, you really must try it!)  Perhaps the girls are excited about the junk they see piling up in our cart, or perhaps they are pumped that they are able to talk me into buying bubbles in pineapple shaped bottles, I'm not sure what it is, but they behave as angels.  (Yep, you guessed it--goodness.)

As we're checking out, my man calls to say they have left-over lunches at the work site.  (By golly, is that free goodness I smell?)  We get to stop by the work site, see my man, and visit with some friends that we literally see once a year (when they come to help him build houses), and we get free food that I don't have to cook.  But, yes, it is Back Yard Burger.  (More bad stuff, albeit yummy.  Many thanks to whoever supplemented Back Yard Burger's sack lunches with banana-and-grape-goodness.)

At home, I put away the few refrigerated items I have then sit with the girls while they go to sleep--way past their normal nap time.  They both fall asleep and I get some really awesome time to myself on the deck before my man comes home.  (Double goodness.)  The bags of groceries are still on the table, and the house is littered with laundry and toys from yesterday and this morning.  I don't care.  (My goodness!  Who is this woman?)

The girls wake up and they want a snack.  When I ask what they want, I notice big girl is eyeing the junk on the table, but she says, "I don't know."  I point to the table and say, "Pick something."  Still in disbelief that she is really getting her pick of what she wants, she replies, "What can I have?"  To reassure her that she can pick from the junk too, I say, "Chips, popcorn, bars, whatever."  Trying to hide a smile, she points to the Funyuns.  She, her sis, and her daddy, perform logic-defying disappearing acts on a bowl of Funyuns and two bowls of popcorn.  (Yummy, sinful, goodness.)

My man has orchestra rehearsals on Tuesday nights--right about the time we are usually eating and beginning bed time routines.  Tonight, however, I decide we should all go so the girls can experience, up close, daddy playing his French horn.  They had a late nap; so, they are not going to want to go to bed soon.  And they just ate a bunch of salt, oil, and preservatives; so, they are not going to want supper soon.  But, they are already in their PJ's.  Oh well.  We just throw on jackets and head out the door.  At church, they get to run in the sanctuary and crawl under the pews.  I'm sure they think I've completely checked out on them at this point and they are LOVIN' it!  (Pure and simple goodness.)

It's bedtime when we get home but big girl reminds me that I promised they would get to blow their new bubbles today.  So, we hang out on the deck and blow a few bubbles, before making supper from yesterday's work site left-overs (BBQ pork, beans, and potato salad--more bad stuff).  Then we head to bed and daddy says he'll lay down with them.  Hmmm.  I know how this is going down.  I say good night and turn to leave, but I hear giggling before I get out of the room.  In a few minutes I hear a strange sound and lots of laughing from all three of my silly loves.  So, I head back to the party.  Realizing the sound is coming from baby girl, I say, "What is she doing?"  She is saying, "Hoooooooooooooooooooooock!" in a very throaty way, then, "Excuse me."  You probably, like me, assume she is having a wannahockaloogie moment, but no.  She is pretending to burp.  They think this is hysterical.  Their laughter is an overflow of goodness.  "My cup runneth over."  (Psalm 23)

Big girl, when she composes herself, says, "Daddy is keeping us awake."  Mmmm-hmmm.  She is some rotten goodness.

It is near midnight as I wrap up this post and my sweet girls have only been asleep about an hour, maybe an hour and a half.  I'm exhausted, and still sick, but today has been fun.  Good.  I have not worried about cooking, cleaning, or even maintaining boundaries and we have had a relaxed, unscheduled, and unusual kind of day.  It's not been so much about what we did but how we did it, or how I did it.  My attitude was to roll with it from the time I woke up this morning (the second time).  And roll we did, right up until we rolled into bed with laughter.

I've heard it said that the momma sets the tone for the home.  Amen to that!  I actually liked the tone I set today.  It was strange and wonderful.  Hoping for more days of strange, wonderful relaxation.  It's a new feeling to me, a new tone in my home, and I like it.  Just praying I can learn to relax AND continue to feed my kids real food.

And I pledge to feel no guilt tomorrow when the girls are cranky from their lack of sleep.

Because it's all my AWEsome God is making me into the mom He intends for me to be, one day at a time.

"Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
2 Corinthians 4:16

"And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'"
Revelation 21:5

Things I Love About Today

Comfy clothes and flip-flops.

A rare treat for myself:  Starbucks Caramel Macchiato.

Another rare treat:  our monthly MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting.

A successful trip through the grocery store with both my girls.  (Not even ONE complaint, whine, or problem!)

A phone convo with a friend that I don't get to see or talk to nearly enough.

Getting to see my husband in the middle of the work day.

Getting to visit with friends that I only see once a year.

Feeding my big girl like she's a baby.

Bare feet kiddos.

A surprise call from my momma.

Hugging my baby girl right after I discipline her.  Bittersweet.

Both of my girls napping.

A rare phone convo with my eldest sister.

Sitting on my deck with my computer and a cup of water.

Sitting on my deck in a fleece zip-up and flip-flops.  (I love cool weather.)

Checking Facebook and laughing at friends' posts about their crazy mornings.  (Good!  It wasn't just me.)

Having neighbors that feel free to wonder over and chat and/or swing on our play set.  (Yah, that would be the neighbor's kiddos doing the swinging, but the grown-ups are welcome to swing too if they fit.  I don't.)

My husband coming home early from work.

Sitting on the deck with my husband.

Noticing my strawberries are turning red and knowing I'll probably get to eat one tomorrow or the next day.  Woo-hoo!

Writing a feel-good post with absolutely no regards for good grammar.

Monday, April 16, 2012


So, my big girl "called" me this morning from her bedroom.  She held her play phone, told me she was calling me and that my cell phone was ringing.  I picked it up and she told me that she and her friends, Keep and Kope, had 15 things they needed to do today but she didn't think they were going to do them.  (Wonder where she's learned that?)  Then she told me she didn't think they would make it to the Easter egg hunt today (wasn't Easter like a week ago?) and could we change it to Wednesday or Thursday?  I assured her we could.  Then she asked if I had gotten her message and the game she sent me on my phone.  (Yes, we have games on our phones.)  I told her I'd need to get off the phone to check.  We said goodbye and then I actually tried to press the "end" button to end the call.  Took me a minute to figure out why the touch screen wasn't lighting up like it usually does when I pull it away from my face.  Alrighty.

Later she came in to tell me that they (she, Keep, and Kope) were getting Happy Meals.  To my knowledge, girl has never had a Happy Meal in her life.  She said she was getting a hot dog in her Happy Meal and Horse was getting a hamburger.  Does McD's serve hot dogs?

I also overheard this: "Horse, if we're going to get Happy Meals, you're going to have to stay here and be good until I get home."  Then she went to her play kitchen and used her Melissa and Doug wooden "sandwich making kit" to put together a burger.  Here's her Dagwood-style creation.  McD's burger has been put to shame.

She asked me what I would like in my Happy Meal and I said nuggets just to throw her off.  We have nothing that resembles nuggets in our kitchen so I'm interested to see what substitution will be offered.

She is cracking me up this morning.

And while she is busy dreaming up exciting adventures for her, Keep, Kope, and Horse, her baby sister is building "towers" with blocks.  Her towers are usually 2 or 3 square feet of blocks laying side-by-side.  Horizontal towers, if you will.  Here's one in the early stages...

Baby girl has now decided to join her sister in creating good eats.  She is offering me a piece of cake, saying it's pizza.  And big girl has now informed me that Horse has "a dance" in a few hours.  I have not been given any option but to go, and I will apparently be eating my Happy Meal there.  So, I'm off to enjoy chicken Mcnuggets at a dance recital.  Life doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, April 13, 2012

No Slur Intended

This blog writing is a tricky business.  I've been made aware that a recent post might have been considered a slur on some people.  Ack!  So, once again, I am compelled to offer somewhat of a revision.

I've heard Beth Moore say that she gets letters, emails, and calls all the time about the things she says that are misinterpreted.  I get it now.  The more you put your thoughts out there, the more opportunity for misinterpretation.

Here's the truth:  there is nothing wrong with the beautiful, picturesque blogs that document good eats, beautifully decorated homes, and fabulous crafts!  Those blogs are all about giving other people ideas and suggestions.  Yah!  I'm all for that!

Here's what I'm saying:  if we let ourselves start to believe that those bloggers only and always have craft-filled days in beautiful, clean homes that are filled with the aroma of fresh-baked baklava or some other time-consuming pastry, then we are headed into a pit of delusion and self-loathing.  Because that is what's documented in the world around us, I think we are tempted to believe that is the reality in which other people live.  I believe it is reality, distorted.  Only one side of reality.  The other side is two screaming kids when you have your hands in hamburger meat (or ground turkey), six loads of laundry hiding behind the door of your meticulously organized laundry room, or cereal bowls and pop-tart wrappers left on the table from breakfast because you barely made it out the door in time for preschool.

If any of you are still reading, while I'm on this soap box, I'd just like to add one more thing.  I do think there's another possible danger in reading blogs, magazine articles, or other materials that exclusively publish all things creative.  I think, no, I know, because people have told me as much, that it can cause us to think we are not as creative.  But we are!  We are made in God's image.  And He is the most creative!  Think of the long-necked giraffe, the armored rhinoceros, the caterpillar that turns into a butterfly...His imagination is WILD!  And He made us in His image.  We have wild imaginations too!  We may not be creative in the craft department (I'm not), but we might be creative in problem-solving, or discipline techniques, or cooking with herbs, or figuring out how to exercise WITH our kids when we can't find a way to get to the Y...the possibilities are endless!  But we are creative!  I am creative!  You are creative!

And, yes, I intentionally posted my "picture-perfect" post after stating the dangers of picture-perfect posts.  Intentional I tell ya!  A little irony for ya.  Just trying to keep it light and fun up in here.

Here's hoping for a light mood and fun day for each of you!


A Work In Progress Who's Striving to Dwell in the Sanctuary of the Most High

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary?  Who may live on your holy hill?  He...who has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man..."  Psalm 15

(So much for a Friday off.  But so glad I was made aware of what might have been assumed so I could clear up any misunderstandings.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I feel like a kid in a candy store who was just offered one of everything!  
I just figured out how to add a play list to my blog.  

I know for most of you this is probably not very exciting, 
especially if you are a blogger who has known how to do this for a long time, 
or if you're a blogger and don't care to have a play list, 
or if you're not a blogger but you're computer-smart and creating a playlist is like saying your ABC's,
or if you're not a blogger and don't know or care about the mechanics of it--
basically if you're anyone but me.

Okay, blogging victory aside, I'm hoping that someone out there can help me with a problem now.  
I created buttons...or so I thought.  
I edited the images and added my blog's name and even linked the "buttons" to my own blog's URL, but I obviously am not doing something just right.  
I've noticed that other blogs have buttons then this little box below their buttons with their URL address in it.
I guess I need that, but I don't know how to do it.  
Anyone?  Anyone?

Okay, so this blogging thing has gotten in the way of my life today, to be quite honest.  
In the way of breakfast, specifically.  
I fed my girls goldfish and let them watch "Doc McStuffins" and "The Little Einsteins."

I'm easily excusing this since yesterday was one of those picture perfect kind of days at our house--
as picture perfect as it gets around here.  
We had toast and fruit for breakfast.  
The girls played.  
We made white chocolate-cream cheese dip and had more fruit with it for lunch.  

During baby girl's nap, big girl and I made place mats.  
And just in case you think I came up with this crafty idea, stop thinking that!  
If we ever do anything crafty around here, the idea almost always comes from Aunt Sissa or my big girl herself.  
This time big girl explained to me that she wanted to make place mats and (just like the heart doily valentines) she told me how to make them.  
Here's the one she made for herself.  I traced the horse; she added the rider, saddle, mane, reins, and color.
(Sorry it's so dark.)

And here's the one she made for her sister.  
I traced the giraffe; she added color and a little horse at the top.

After doing her craft (one of her favorite activities), she asked to swing (another of her favorites).
I was able to stand in the kitchen and watch her...

...while I worked on this...

...and I got started on a super-yummy supper:  basil evans and bruschetta.
I make super easy stuff and I don't usually use recipes, but if you're interested, here are the ingredients:

For basil evans, spread pesto on pita bread.  Top with feta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses.  Bake at 425 until brown.

For bruschetta, dice about 6 plum tomatoes, 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes, a couple cloves of garlic, and a hand-full of basil.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Serve over the full-fat yummy mozzarella or toasted bread--like Italian or French loaves.

That was my domestic day for the week.  
I told my honey that I felt like one of "those" bloggers yesterday.  
He asked me who I was and what I had done with his wife.

So, I'm thinking since I played Holly Homemaker yesterday, the goldfish were acceptable this morning.
AND since I posted twice yesterday, I'm exempted from tomorrow.
So, my weekend begins now.
Happy weekend ya'll!  
"See" ya's Monday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

THE TRUTH--revised

Two posts in one day...wowza!

It's just been weighing heavily on me to revise a statement in my last post.  When speaking of my childhood church, I said "my church family judged me;" I should have said some of my church family judged me.  Big difference.  Some of them loved me just the same.  Some of them still do.  Some of them are friends to this day.

I don't blame the ones who quickly assumed the worst.  Here's a quiet girl who's always kept the status quo and she's suddenly shaved off all her hair.  They didn't know what to do with me.  I get that.  And truth be known, I was already starting to wander away emotionally, the hurt was just the catalyst that accelerated my full departure.

And I want it to be very clear that I love them still.  Sure, there was a point when I wanted absolutely nothing to do with any church, but that's because I allowed Satan to get a foothold and then I started believing His lies.  He's the master of deception and he has mastered the art of offering false condolences when we are hurting.  He convinced me that the world was a safer place than the church.

The church may hurt us, it may have hurt you, but please know that no matter how enticing Satan may cause the world to appear, it can not help you.  It will hurt you too.  And it certainly will not heal you.  Only God can do that.  And we need the church.  God implores us in His Word, "let us not give up meeting together" (Heb 10:25), because He knows we need encouragement, support, and even correction when we stray (Gal 6:1).

If I learned anything from that whole experience, it is that I have to forgive.  I once heard that bitterness does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than the vessel on which it is poured.  Absolutely!  My bitterness towards the ones who assumed the worst did much more damage to me than it did to them.  I chose to walk away from my church family, all of them, the ones who hurt me and the ones who were my friends.  I labeled them all hypocrites and walked away.  And I walked right into the arms of that horrible harlot I spoke about recently.  There are not words to describe what kind of pain that caused me.  Oh, yes, I lost much more than they did.

But know too that God is a God of full redemption.  I am utterly amazed when I remember what He's done for me.  Not only did He restore me to the full joy of His salvation, but He restored relationships.  I do not hate, I do not even dislike the ones who chose gossip.  I can tell you with complete honestly that I have forgiven them and love them.  That, I can assure you, is only because of my Very Big God.

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation and make me willing to obey you."  (Ps 51:12, NLT)

THE TRUTH--about me

So, I've been working on this post off and on for a couple of weeks, trying to think of some things that my reading audience may or may not know about me.  Some of it's funny; some, just random bits of info; some, a little more serious.  I'm thinking some might be a bit too much for some of you, but as an attempt to be as real as possible, I'd like to offer some peaks into my life.  Yeah, just some.  So, here goes...

I drove down a one-way street the other day.  The wrong way.

I haven't vacuumed in a few days.  Or maybe weeks.  (Kitchen excepted.)

I serve my kids processed meat (hot dogs, ham, sausage),
ice cream sandwiches,
and candy.
Preferably not all in one sitting, but it's possible that's happened too.

My kids have been known to watch TV for more than two hours in one day.

My daughter sang this precious (ahem) song to me this morning:
"It's raining,
It's pouring,
The old mommy is snoring,
She went to bed,
Pulled the covers to her head,
And didn't wake up with daddy."
(If you're confused, it might help to remind you that I'm not a morning person.  My man is almost always up before me.)

I shared a room with both of my sisters while growing up and we made great memories.  My girls share a bedroom now.  I promise privacy is over-rated.

I do not shave in the winter. Period.  (ewww)

I love Jimmy Buffet.  Only attended one concert in my life.  Sold all my CD's when I was a poor college kid.  Never bought anymore because, let's face it, he's not exactly wholesome, but I still love him.

I have my Bachelor's degree in Secondary English Education and I still have to look up the words "affect" and "effect" nearly every time I use them.

Even though I'm an English major and completely love reading and writing, I am super lax about being grammatically correct, obviously.  (usually i type in all lower-case letters...and abbreviate...and sub letters for whole words...and separate all my tho'ts with an ellipsis...c what i mean?)

There are people from eight different countries--like Austria, Russia, Ireland, and Germany--reading this blog and that rocks my world!  =)  I so wish I knew who they were.  This kinda' feels like a one-way relationship.

I have had my head buzzed.  Yes, like with the clippers Army guys use.  I had always wanted to shave my head, for as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, I saw commercials of bald kids and I thought they were beautiful.  College finally offered me the opportunity.  (Mom, understandably, wouldn't allow it while I lived at home.)

The unfortunate truth about the buzzed cut is this:  my church family judged me.  Rumors abounded; my particular favorite was that I was practicing voodoo.  Really.  So, believing I had already disappointed most people I knew, I threw out all convictions except the idea to "eat, drink, and be merry," which I happily embraced in worldly perversion.

Which leads me to a related truth...this recent hair cut brought up a lot of old insecurities.  Will people think I've fallen off the wagon again?  (Thanks, Lord, for quickly working me through that one.)

If I had things my way, I would always have a cup of something hot in hand at all times, be it coffee, hot chocolate, black tea, green tea, white tea, herbal tea...

I have never met a cheese I didn't like.

I have more jobs on my resume than just about anyone I know.  Here's what I can remember...
waitress (mom and pop place in my hometown)
waitress, hostess, trainer (Cracker Barrel)
radio personality (unlikely, but true)
waitress, trainer (Ruby Tuesday)
waitress (Cracker Barrel, why I ever went back is beyond me!)
sandwich maker (official job title???  cafe on my university campus)
door-to-door survey person thingy (no idea what that job title was, university research)
barista (coffee shop near university, still one of my fave places to visit)
babysitter (Yeager's)
sales (BabyGap, baby!)
daycare worker (on university campus)
babysitter (Gobb's)
babysitter (McKee's)
hostess (O'Charley's)
Pampered Chef consultant
substitute teacher
children's ministry intern
children's minster
Yeah, I know, those last two kinda' come out of the blue.  God's funny like that.

I've also had quite a few nicknames; here are a few:
Double E

I love gardening.  I grew my very first garden when I was in college...and it was the best one yet.  I grew a beautiful garden last year but didn't get to eat one thing out of it, thanks to ignorantly placing fresh manure on it.  (I've got fertile ground for this year's garden!)

I took piano lessons for twelve years and I'm really not sure I could play a single song today.  The saying's true:  use it or lose it.

I have had some really irrational fears...fear of my house burning down (I didn't even like candles at one point in my life)...fear of drowning (justified since I can't swim)...fear of choking (somewhat justified since I've been choked three times, but it got to the point that I didn't want to swallow at one point, which made for one. very. slow. eater.)

Five years ago, when I found out I was prego with our first child, I knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home momma, and I am so grateful God has made that possible.

Admittedly, I'm still jealous of my man sometimes that he gets to go to work.

I think my mom is a saint for raising six kids, basically alone, while my dad was on the road for days or weeks at a time.  I'm not sure how she's sane.

So, yes, I'm the baby of six.  That should explain a lot.

I grew up in a Baptist church, avoided the church and God for several years while I was in college, swore I'd never attend a Baptist church again, came back to Jesus, joined and worked at a Baptist church...and I love my church.  Like every church, it's not perfect, but Jesus loves it and I do too.

I love Jesus.  I want to love Him more.  My most consistent prayer is that I could love Him more and that my girls will love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And now I must go drink my coffee, run errands, and play outside.  It's a beautiful day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Picture Perfect

Sometimes I struggle with knowing what to write.  Other times it is so very clear to me that I cannot open my blogger page fast enough to start typing.  Today is one of those times.

I have been perusing other blogs while waiting for my girls to fall asleep, as I do from time to time.  I really only read one blog regularly, the anderson crew, but I check out a few others every week or two.  And I noticed something today--the reason I'm drawn to Emily Anderson's blog.  Every other blog I looked at had beautiful pictures of fancy meals the blogger had prepared for her family, recipes for holiday-themed desserts or entrees, pictures of beautifully decorated children's rooms and organized play rooms, clean kids dressed in nice clothes (even when they're playing outside!), craft ideas, and step-by-step pictures of the blogger doing fun projects with their kiddos.  I very rarely see any messy rooms or dirty kids, or read about any real struggles.  Except on Emily's blog.


And we wonder why we are all so discouraged with ourselves as parents, wives, friends, and people in general. When the world around us is portrayed as perfect, we easily fall under the assumption that we are the only ones whose lives aren't picture perfect. Although I'm certain the the writers of the blogs I viewed actually do the things they write about, I'm equally certain that they have days when the house is messy, they serve cereal for breakfast, and they let their child watch TV instead of making gum ball necklaces. I was reminded why I started this blog and was re-motivated to keep it as real as possible.

Why is it we are all so determined to paint ourselves in the best light? I do it too. That's why I am more determined than ever to use this blog as a reality check for myself and others. We all have good days when the kitchen's clean, the laundry is washed, folded, and put away, and we even have time to make a craft or two with our kiddos. If we all had blogs that only documented that stuff we'd be looking good too, sisters! But we all know the truth about our homes, the occasional chaos or lazy days. And it's hard to not compare our reality to the slightly distorted reality we see around us.

So, I'd like to propose a radical idea: let's quit comparing ourselves to others--whether it be what we see on "reality" shows, what we hear from our peers, or what we read in blogs. Because if I was a betting woman, I'd be willing to wager big bucks that we very rarely get the complete picture.

In an air-brushed world, let's commit to having "real" days, full of laughter, activity, and yes even struggles, because that's what makes us stronger.  May we "glory in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured out into our hearts..." (Romans 5:3-5).  So rejoice that your reality isn't picture perfect, let it give you hope!  And there will be no shame because the Most High God loves you. I hope that gives you confidence. I hope each of you is overwhelmed with the awesome awareness that you are beautifully and wonderfully made; you are uniquely designed (different from one another!) to display God's glory; and you are not just loved but loved unconditionally. We can't do a thing to make Him love us more; so, let's quit striving for perfection--only God is perfect. And we can't do a thing to make Him love us less; no matter how much junk we feed our kids or how much housework we leave undone, we are "holy and blameless" in His sight (Ephesians 1). None of us is superior or inferior; He loves us all the same.  I hope that in the beauty of your imperfect life, you are learning to rest in His perfect love.

P.S. Just in case the enemy tempts you compare yourself to me, causing you to think that (because I wrote this) I am someone who has completely grasped these truths and no longer struggles with insecurity, rest assured I say these things as much as a reminder to myself as an encouragement to anyone else!  Typing out the Scriptures was a therapeutic salve to my soul on this particular day when my enemy threatened to render me useless by leading me into a pothole of insecurity.  But, thanks to my Savior, I am re-energized to tackle what an hour ago seemed a daunting to-do list.  And even if I have to leave some "to-do's" undone, we will get outside to play today.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

My Easter Reality

Easter is one of my favorite Holy days.  Christmas and Easter are really the only two holidays that I "get into."  But somehow I let this Easter get away from me.  My focus was all wrong.

I had great intentions of observing Lent this year to prepare my heart for Easter, but I didn't manage to follow through.  Instead of fasting, I was going to try to do one thing every day that was a little out of my normal routine to remind me of Christ's sacrifice.  Some ideas I had before getting started were...

Purging my closets (sacrificially)...
Writing notes to people that I know could use a little encouragement...
Taking goodies to some neighbors that I still haven't gotten to know (and we've lived here three years)...
Doing crafts and projects with my girls to help them understand the true meaning of Easeter...

The list is endless, but you get the idea.  Unfortunately, I only managed to incorporate two of these ideas into the last month and a half.  Two.  And, as if that isn't embarrassing enough, one of them was prompted by someone else.  (Thanks, Aunt Sissa, for the resurrection roll recipe.)  So, on my own, I'm batting one for forty.  Sad.

Lent failure aside, Easter weekend didn't prove to be much more successful in terms of focusing on God's sacrifice, Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, and the amazing gift of salvation.

Easter or not, the girls needed shoes.  Unfortunately, I put off the shopping trip until Good Friday.  We left the house about nine o'clock Friday morning.  Twelve hours and innumerable stores later, we finally head home with full bags and empty bellies.  Who has time to eat when you are on a shopping mission?

Let me break here to tell you about a small victory for momma.  This is going to be a run-on paragraph, so hang with me.  Before leaving on our shopping adventure, we ate a quick granola breakfast.  We had to stop at Wal-Mart on our way out of town for a couple of items.  What should have been nothing more than a hiccup in our hour-long drive to the nearest city, became an hour-long adventure all in itself.  The girls love to look.  So, while I was picking up nail clippers, they were pulling all the finger nail polish off the racks.  (Just for fun, try putting finger nail polish BACK in those spring-loaded slots sometime.)  While I was grabbing wipes, they were checking out all the kid soaps.  And while I was grabbing some non-perishable groceries, they were trying to find their own snacks.  After numerous please for a snack, I finally broke down and bought them some Goldfish to eat in the car.  And I grabbed a bag of Cheetos puffs--an oddity for me.  So, we shared the Goldfish and Cheetos on our drive, and when we would normally be eating lunch, we arrived at our first store--Target.  Ahhh, Target.  All three of us love to go in there, whether we need a thing or not.  We could spend hours in that store, but we were on a mission, so we only spent one hour this time.  Since we were headed for the mall next, I knew we needed to grab something to eat before we got sucked into the abyss of door-to-door stores.  So we hit another one of our favorite places--Panera.  I ordered sandwiches, soup, yogurt, and a baker's dozen of bagels (to take home and freeze).  The only things the girls ate were the bread off the sandwiches and yogurt.  Lovely.  Now armed with bellies full of carbohydrates, we tackle the endless stores at the mall.  Baby girl falls asleep, big girl needs to but won't, and I want to but obviously can't.  To ward off the sleepies, big girl and I grab some caffeine.  I took mine in the form of a latte, she of course had lukewarm "hot" chocolate.  A couple of hours later, baby girl wakes up and is not happy about it.  I still have not found their shoes and so, to buy some more time, I buy them Auntie Annes Pretzels and Icees.  Supper served.  When we finally leave the mall at 9 pm--at least an hour past their bedtime--my big girl tells me she's hungry.  I was too.  But we are all tired and we still have an hour drive between us and our beds.  I am not about to stop again, so I fish through our bags to find the bagels I bought.  Second supper served.  And here, finally, is when I scored a victory.  After consuming the bagel, big girl said, "Mommy, I'm still hungry.  Will you please stop and get us something healthy to eat?"  I loved it!  Their little bodies recognize junk and crave good stuff.  Score one for this real mom!  Now back to the real story...

So, after spending our entire Good Friday in an unparalleled arena of worldly consumerism, we arrive home too spent to even read Bible stories.  But His mercies are new every morning and Saturday was more relaxed and arguably a little more focused.  This is when Aunt Sissa visited and we made resurrection rolls.  We got to read (or paraphrase) the story of Christ dying, being buried, and resurrecting on the third day.  We used a marshmallow to represent the pure Christ, butter and cinnamon-sugar to represent the embalming oils and spices, crescent rolls to represent the burial cloths, and the oven to represent the tomb.  When we opened the tomb (oven) on the third day (13 minutes later), the cloths (crescent rolls) were there, but Christ (marshmallow) was gone!  Big girl wanted to know what really happened to Christ.

After the girls went to bed, I recalled a list of things I needed to do, which at the time seemed quite daunting.

Give myself a pedicure.  (This was a need, not a want.)
Iron my skirt and the girls' dresses.
Fix Oriental coleslaw to take to Easter lunch at Aunt Becky's.
Review my Bible study lesson.

I crawled in bed after midnight, having barely reviewed the lesson.  I set my phone alarm for six so I could get up and review it one more time before teaching, and I'm pretty sure I fell asleep before I even laid down the phone.  When my alarm sounded, I quickly turned it off to prevent waking anyone else.  However, I rolled over and fell back asleep.  I woke up again shortly before 8, and since Bible study is at nine, this sent me into my usual Sunday morning psychosis.  I got ready in record-breaking time and then turned my attention to the girls.  After telling them to "eat quickly" at least 30 times, I gave up and just started getting them ready at the table.  I brought brushes, barrettes, and the hair dryer into the kitchen.  When the bed-head look was gone, I stripped off PJ's and put on shoes while they slowly chewed granola bars and their boiled,colored eggs.  I wiped hands and faces and dressed them before pushing them out the door.  No time for Bible study review.  No time for heart preparation.

My Bible study class--self-dubbed the Naomis--is full of great women.  They teach me more than they will probably ever learn from me, and they are extremely forgiving.  When I tumbled into class late, they smiled.  When I admitted my lack of preparation, they encouraged me.  We stumbled through the second chapter of Revelation together, and if they received any revelation, God is even better than I already know Him to be.  (Which I know He is.)  I certainly had an "aha" moment or two.  (Thanks, Naomis.)

The rest of the day seemed to slow down a bit, but still lacked the focus I now wish I had been more diligent in creating.  Serving in the nursery was a sweet time with little crawlers and toddlers.  They couldn't have been better.  Lunch with my man's family was good, as time with them always is.  An afternoon nap was very good.  And being outside tonight with my girls and our man was sweet.

Please don't misunderstand, this Easter Sunday wasn't a bad day.  I simply wish I had taken more time to pause and remember what it means to me.  And not just Easter, but Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and the waiting period in between.

God is so good.  I am amazed that He loves me passionately even when I lack the passion that I want to have for Him.  But knowing that His mercies truly are new every morning, makes every day an Easter.  Jesus is alive!  I may not have been able to concentrate on Him as much as I had hoped to this weekend, but I can live for Him today, tomorrow, and (because of His resurrection) forever!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Wanna be my friend?

Sometimes I am amazed that I have any friends at all.  I am not very good about spending time with my friends, I can not carry on a coherent conversation to save my life, I do not think before I speak, and I am brutally honest (somewhat related to that speaking before thinking thing).  To be my friend, you have to put up with a lot.

I and my girls hosted another momma and her two girls yesterday.  Our girls are only days away from being exactly the same ages--the two oldest being four and the two youngest being two.  We have had two previous play dates and they all played so well together that we vowed to do it again soon.  Only, I let the immediate get in the way of the important; so, several months passed between the invitation and the actual play date.  Months!  I can not believe she was still willing to hang with us, but I am so glad she was!  And, if you know any of my friends, you can verify that this is not an uncommon occurrence for me.  I am horrible, just shamefully horrible about following through with plans.  I'm not sure why exactly, perhaps because I am terrible at planning ahead, perhaps because I am terrible at flexing my schedule, perhaps both and/or other reasons.  Nonetheless, you stand a better chance of hanging with me if you call last minute and we aren't sick or napping.

Not only am I way too lax in my efforts to get together with the awesome people God's placed in my life, but I am also a lousy conversationalist.  I bet I will start 15 conversations in one hour and never finish one of them.  Face-to-face, or on the phone, I am constantly interrupting the other person, or even myself, to help a kid, reprimand a kid, or respond to a kid.  By the time I get the kid squared away, I've completely forgotten what we were talking about.  This is perhaps one of the reasons I don't put forth greater effort to get together with friends or even talk on the phone--it's a bit stressful because I spend as much time trying to remember what we were talking about as I actually spend talking.  I've decided this is also the reason that play dates are thus adequately termed--they really are just a date for the kids to play, and only a date to play with the mommas' minds, making them think they will have some adult conversation when really they will just have kid chaos.

On top of being unable to sustain a continuous thought in conversation, I have a tendency to speak before I think.  My mom once told me that I have no tact.  And she is absolutely right.  Whatever is in my brain comes out my mouth, and I'm pretty sure there is no filter in between.  Although he has never used this phrase in reference to me, my man refers to this characteristic in others as "diarrhea of the mouth."  Lovely word picture.  Unfortunately, I can not find a more accurate description for myself.  Anyone who has been friends with me for very long knows this is true of me.  You'll never have to wonder what I am thinking; inevitably, I will say it.  I may not even know that what I'm saying could be offensive, but later I will be recalling bits of my conversation and gasp, "Oh no!  Why did I say that?  I hope she didn't take it the way it sounded."  Or, when my man is with me, he might say something afterwards like, "Did you realize what you said?"  I have called friends so many times to apologize for thoughtless comments I've made.

Sometimes I'm brutally honest on accident, because what I'm thinking just pops out of my mouth.  Other times, I am just brutally honest.  I hold firmly to the idea that honesty is the best policy.  But it's probably best to hold loosely to that idea because sometimes silence is the best policy.  However, (as is apparent by the fact that I am blogging) I am not a woman of few words.  You might not want my opinion, but if I have one, you're probably going to hear it.  You may not want to know all my junk, but I am an open book; for better or worse, I am willing to share most anything.  You might not think my kids should know the truth about Santa, the Easter Bunny, or sex, but if they ask, I tell them.  (Which means if your kids ask mine, they will probably tell them the truth too.  Sorry.)  And my honest assessment of our relationship might make you uncomfortable, but as a dear friend learned this week, if I think something seems amiss between us, I am going to talk about it.  I'm not a push-it-under-the-rug-and-hope-it-goes-away kind of gal.

I have some incredible friends who choose to hang with me and overlook my junk.  My family too has proven to be beyond awesome as they put up with all this and more.  But, my God!  He knows the worst and Oh!  How He loves me!  How He loves me!  Oh!  And what's greater is He knew what I'd be like before He created me and choose to create me still.  And, beyond all comprehension, He calls me friend!

"Greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friends," (John 15:13, emphasis mine).

I didn't even mean to go there, but what a perfect thought to end with as we enter the Easter weekend.

He laid down His life so we could have life--abundantly and eternally.  And three days later, He rose from the dead!  He joined His Father in heaven to serve as our High Priest, and He eagerly awaits our arrival!  The chorus from one of my favorite hymns comes to mind:

"Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o'er His foes!  He arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign!"

And this one followed right on the heels of the one above (I think in songs):

"There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain,
Then bursting forth (!) in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sins' curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine,
Bought with the precious blood of Christ."

("In Christ Alone," by Keith and Kristyn Getty)

May you feel how great His affections are for you!  

Blessed Easter, dear friends.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Things I've learned THIS week

The truth, though ALWAYS the best option, can still be painful.

If a haircut shocks you, as the momma, multiply your shock tenfold and you might have some idea of what response to expect from your kiddos.

No momma should ever, EVER, be without the following:
super glue
packaging tape
fabric glue
batteries (of all sizes)
and screwdrivers (of all sizes).
(I have used all of these, at least once, in the last twenty-four hours to "fix" something.)

Friendships, new and old, really are worth the effort.

Kids getting naked = kids running around the house.  Every time.

You can NEVER out-give God.

Giving your kids different toys to play with in the tub will buy you at least thirty minutes of "down time."

You can clean the whole house in one day if you know company's coming.

When you are desperate for time with Jesus you can be sure Satan is equally desirous to prevent it.

God ALWAYS provides in the strangest ways.  (I can think up a million different ways that God might work, but He always seems to come up with a million and one.)

Life is better when you play hard.

Some days just deserve a 9:30 pm run to Dairy Queen.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Needing a Little More Quiet Time Today

Ever have so much going on inside your head that you can't even think?  I'm having one of those days!  After several attempts at writing a blog post, I've realized that I can't even organize my thoughts comprehensibly.  I guess this could be called writer's block.  But I recognize it as my need for God.  I need Him to help me sort through the mess in my head instead of putting it out here for everyone else to sort through.  So, today's admission is two-fold, yet simple:

1)  I am desperate for time with my Savior.  I don't have to be careful about how I say things with Him;  I don't have to say anything at all.  He knows exactly what I'm struggling with even if I can't verbalize it.  And He can help me sort through my thoughts.  He will show me what is truth, what is lies from my enemy, and what is just my perception.  He knows exactly what I need to hear and will lead me to the exact Scriptures that say it.  I'm soooo looking forward to hearing what He has to say.

2)  I could really use some prayers today.

All is well, don't worry.  I just need some time with Jesus.

"Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.  God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."  Ecclesiastes 5:2

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ugly Little Thing Called Pride

Today's post isn't as much about confessing (although there will be some of that too) as it is about stating something I have recently begun to believe, giving my reasons why, and then asking for your feedback.  Please, please, please understand this before reading on:  even if I seem confident of my statements here, I am not.  I am sharing my thoughts with you as a suggestion, not a sound doctrinal argument.  With that said, here we go.

I'm becoming ever-more convinced that every sin is somehow rooted in pride.

What caused Satan to fall?  Pride.  Isaiah 14 tells us that Lucifer fell because he said in his heart, "I will be like the Most High."  He wanted to be like the Most High God.

What caused the fall of man?  Pride.  The devil convinced us that, "You will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen 3:4).  We wanted to be like God.

What is at the heart of the harlot of old that will finally be destroyed in end times?  Pride.  In her arrogance, she says, "I am, and there is none besides me" (Isaiah 47:8, Rev 18:7).  She wants to be like the Great I Am.

If you are wondering why I mention this harlot, it is because Revelation 18 says that "all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries."  All nations have been influenced by this "harlot;" so, what is she?

Although there are many different beliefs as to what form the harlot will take in the last days (a tangible city, a world system, a religion, a person, or perhaps all the above) I believe she is, at the most basic level, a mentality:  "I am and there is none beside me."  A mentality that, unfortunately, has resided in each of us from time to time, seducing us away from our "first love" (Rev 2:4), the Great I Am.  We are lured by worldly luxuries, merriment, and even recognition, eventually becoming self-centered rather than God-centered.  This mentality can crop up in many different ways; here are a few examples:

"I deserve respect because I know more, I'm wiser, and I'm older."
"I deserve recognition because I'm good at this; I'm at least better than her."
"I deserve the finest this life has to offer because I've worked hard."
"I deserve to be heard; I've been attending this church longer than they have."
"I deserve forgiveness, because, really, I'm a good person."

The really twisted part of pride is that it can crop up in more subtle ways, like doubt and insecurity.  (This one steps ALL OVER my toes.)

"I don't deserve respect; I'm young, I'm inexperienced, and really, what do I know?"
"I don't deserve recognition, because I'm really not that good; at least there are so many others that are better."
"I don't deserve to enjoy life because I've spent too much time being lazy; I've wasted so many opportunities."
"I don't deserve to be heard; I'm new here."
"I don't deserve forgiveness; I am a hopeless mess."

In case you're like me and can't immediately recognize how this is pride, let me relay Beth Moore's explanation.  (Yes, her again.  You might as well know, if you don't already, that I've taken a LOT of her studies; so, I quote her a LOT.)  As she said, both mentalities are prideful because both focus on SELF, not GOD.  I do...I don't...I am..I'm not.  I...  I...  I...  I!

One summer, the kids at my church did a musical about the life of Joseph.  Because I got to work with them as they practiced, I learned a lot of the songs.  There is one in particular that I find myself singing all the time.  I can't remember all of it, but the chorus says,

"It's not about me,
It's all about You, Lord.
It's not about me,
It's You I want to see.
It's not about me,
It's all about You, Lord!"

I am constantly singing this song because I am constantly having to remind myself of this.  Constantly.  Constantly.

Pride has caused me to do things I shouldn't have done.  Pride has also hindered me from doing things God has called me to do.  Because I have focused on myself, and not my God, I have yearned for the wrong things and I have shirked away from the right things.

If our lives are like a plane (I mean the two-dimensional surface, not the kind you fly), then I picture it riddled with potholes, all labeled with "Pride."  (I guess that would be a three-dimensional surface, huh?  Oh well, back to the point...)  We are trying to stay on level ground, but no matter where we turn, all we see are potholes.  How do we navigate through this life without falling into all these pits???

A Psalm of Ascent comes to mind as the answer:

We will lift up our eyes to the hills.  Where does our help come from?  Our help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth!  [And, get this!  This is super cool...]  HE WILL NOT LET OUR FEET SLIP!  He who watches over us will neither slumber nor sleep.  The Lord will keep us from all harm.  He will watch over our lives.  The Lord will watch over our coming and going both now and forevermore.  (My paraphrase of Psalm 121.)

Ironic, isn't it?  The pits are all around our feet.  But in order to keep from slipping, we can't be watching our feet (focusing on self), we have to keep looking up (focusing on God)!  Trusting the One we can't see to lead us around the pits that threaten our every step.

I don't know about you, but I've got some "looking up" to do.

So, now for some feedback...

I've never heard this from any theologian or great Bible teacher, but I am certainly convinced that all sins stem from pride.  I've mentioned this several times to various people who have offered little response.  If you have any evidence to support this theory OR if you can think of exceptions, please comment.  This curious mind wants to know.  =)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Look at me!

One of my girls is always saying, "Look at me!"
Here's a bit of what I might see.

Between the baby swing and hammock-type swing we have hanging on our deck 
and the swings on the play set in our back yard, 
someone is always swinging and wanting us to watch...if we're not pushing.

Playing dress up...

Watching our Irises grow...
This time I was probably the one to shout, "Look, girls!"
I never fail to ooh and aah over these delicate little beauties.
Everyday, when we go out to play, I head straight for tree line where we've planted 
an assortment of flowers (daffodils, irises, tiger lilies) to brighten the border all year long.
I'm always so excited when another bloom has popped open.
You would think I had never seen a flower before.

(I also love the look the girls are sporting here--their usual out-of-doors combo.)

Unfortunately it's not always on paper.
This time baby girl knew better than to say, "Look, Mommy!"
Her big sis had asked if she could color her thumb and make a thumb print.
Little sis got stuck on the coloring part; she never made a single print.

 Look!  We found a different swing!  
At Mama's house.

At Mama's house.

At "Mama's park."
The park in our town is "our park;" the one in Mama's town is "Mama's park."

(Big girl poses for the camera.)

(Mama makes her debut appearance in my blog.
I'll hear about this later.)

(Daddy makes another rare appearance.)

Watching The Chipmunks with their cousins...
They look intent on absorbing every word.
You'd never know that they were popping up and down constantly to 
grab another chip, jump on the bed, 
or tell me for the twentieth time that they were watching The Chipmunks.

The rest of us were watching UK in the Final Four...
They look intent on absorbing every move by every player...
because they were.

Or were they?

(Perhaps they were streaming on their Iphones.)

I guess I'm about to find out if my brothers read my blog 
because if they see pictures of themselves on here, they, like my momma, will let me know about it!

Happy Monday, friends!  
It's gonna be a great week!