My Fab Fam

My Fab Fam
Photo by Thousand Hills Photography. Click on photo to visit their site.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

His Mercies are New Every Morning

Just in case I started to forget that Love is greater than my mistakes, Max Lucado thought he would send me a reminder this morning.  Here is the devotional I found in my inbox.  And it is a perfect follow-up to yesterday's post.

Dry mouth.  Moist palms.  Pulse pounding!  Eyes darting over your shoulder.  Heart in your throat.  You know the feeling…you know the moment.  You know exactly what it’s like.  Policemen have stirred more prayers than a thousand pulpits!
Upward prayers become backward thoughts.  What did I do?  How fast was I going?  Then, the policeman is standing at your door.  No one likes the thought of judgment.
I John 4:17 says, “Perfect love expels all fear.”  You need never fear God’s judgment.  Not today.  Not on Judgment Day.  With perfect knowledge of the past and perfect vision of the future, he loves you perfectly in spite of both.
Jesus is speaking on your behalf.  “That’s my friend,” he says.  And when he does, the door of heaven opens.
Trust God’s love.  His perfect love.  It can handle your fear of judgment.
And slower driving can handle your fear of policemen!

Thank you, Max!


If you love Max as much as I do, you can sign up to get a thought from him each day at MaxLucado.com.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Confessions of the Mouth

I had a great day today.  Great!  My morning began at church with about 40 kids for our weekly summer program.  We walked to the fire station to get a few tips in fire safety, have some fun experiences with water and smoke, and pass out cards and cookies to the firemen.  Afterwards, my girls and I had lunch with our "Granny," a dear friend that we've just adopted as another grandparent.  And later this afternoon, some long-distance friends were passing through our town on their way home from a wedding; so, we met them at a place filled with inflatable bouncy thingies for the kids to jump on and slide down.  Fun times.  In addition to all that, my man arranged his la vida loca so that I could slip away and hang with some friends for a craft night.  While they were all making something useful, I was just there to chat.  And therein lies the problem.

I am doing a study on the book of James--it is a painful thing.  This one little verse pretty much eclipses all the others for me:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  James 1:19


Tonight I was way too quick to speak.  And I regretted it immediately.  Unfortunately, I can not fully disclose what we were discussing for fear of losing control again.  I'm really not sure that I can even mention the subject without sharing too many details.  Let it suffice to say that I complained too much, blamed too much, and sympathized too little.  On my way home, all of James' teachings just kept pounding my brain.  (See also chapter three of James--painful!)  Why couldn't those teachings have kept my lips shut a little earlier?

My great day took a very sour turn right at the end because I lost control, once again, of my tongue.  I came home frustrated with myself, sorry for my friends who had sat through my explosion, and relieved that my man was ready for bed because I was pretty confident I would have been of very little company to anyone at that point.  I was never so desperate to have some quiet time as I was when I got home.  


I am so grateful that God loves me through my mistakes.  He showed me what it was that prompted me to speak too freely and He offered fresh motivation to do the right thing next time.  (Perhaps having a craft project to keep me occupied wouldn't be a bad idea either.)  He is a God of second chances.  And seventeen million, two thousand, nine hundred, and eighty-second chances.  And better still, He doesn't just offer me mercy and forgiveness, He gives grace, the ability to do the right thing.  Believe me, holding my tongue is not within my own power.  But He can enable me.  So, if you ever witness a day when this girl is quiet, you can be sure God has worked a miracle:  the Holy Spirit has jumped right in my mouth and is sitting on my tongue.  Where I am weak, He will prove strong.

"If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness..." so that when I have overcome by His power, He may get all the glory.  (2 Corinthians 11)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Random Confessions


Sticking with my theme of randomness, here are a few confessions from one momma to another.

1.  The real story behind the cooking, part one

One of the reasons I've loved cooking for all the men who've been working around the house this week is that it has kept me inside.  The girls and I usually play outside in the mornings, but cooking lunch for the guys has kept us in.  And I've not been too sad.  You see, we have recently had too many encounters with black widows.  Now, one reason is because we have been doing a lot of landscaping and home improvement projects since moving into this house three years ago (i.e. laying a brick patio, placing bricks around raised beds, and moving a lot of rock stepping stones to make a path through our garden).  We have disrupted a lot of good hiding spots for black widows.  If those were the only times we had seen them, I wouldn't be too worried.  However, we have also discovered them around our foundations vents, on our deck near our back door, and--worst of all--inside our window screens.  This has made me less than enthusiastic to step outside my door.  I do.  Every day.  But I don't always want to.  I am constantly having to remind myself:  "God does not give me a spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-discipline."  (2 Timothy 1:7)  I may not be paralyzed by fear, but I'm still calling my bug guy today.

The real story behind the cooking, part two

One of you readers gave me a sweet compliment about my cooking recently.  What you should know is this:  I never cook like that!  Not four straight days in a row.  Does anyone?  If you do, please don't tell me.  Because the truth of the matter is that I have not cooked a single meal in at least three days. Really.  I painted all day Friday; we ate out every meal.  I painted Saturday morning; so, my man and I skipped breakfast and I am willing to bet money that my girls had donuts that morning because they ate at their Nana's.  We ate out for lunch, and my family had toast and fruit for supper while I skipped out to have supper with a friend.  Breakfast bars rescued me on Sunday morning, Arby's covered lunch, and DiGiorno took care of supper.  I threw in lots of fruit from the farmer's market to counter my fast-food guilt, but I didn't dirty up one pan all weekend.  And yet my kitchen is still a mess.  How is that possible?  Anywho, it's a new week, and my plan is to actually cook again today...after I clean my kitchen.

2.  The real story behind the calmness

I once had a momma tell me she wondered how I was always so calm.  She said I seemed so "together."  I laughed.  I told her that I could hardly believe that calmness is what she "saw" because what I feel is chaos.  I wish this wasn't so, but I nearly always feel like there's a three-ring circus in my head.

When I was younger, school was over-whelming to me.  In elementary school, I had constant stomach aches.  Constant.  My mom took me to doctors.  They ran tests.  They concluded nothing was wrong with me except I was "high-strung."  As I moved into high school, the stomach aches became so severe that I would bend over double and cry.  Crazy thing was that after a good cry, I usually felt better.  Which leads me to believe the diagnosis was correct: it was nerves.  During my freshman year of college, I would feel so over-whelmed and stressed at the end of the semester that I would shut down.  I wouldn't write my final papers; I wouldn't turn in final projects; I would sleep through final exams.  So, as you can imagine, I was suspended after that first year.  I was not relying on God to get me through; I was relying on my own strength.  But then I came to God and accepted His strength, and school became easy.  I made good grades again.  I didn't just do okay; I did really well.

But then ministry was over-whelming to me.  Not so much the first year, but that's because I was well-connected to the Source of Life.  Life doesn't seem so over-whelming when you are plugged into Life itself.  Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; remain in me, and you can do ALL things" and I'm paraphrasing and marrying a few verses--John 14:6, John 15:5, Philippians 4:13. But, when I quit abiding in Him, ministry became overwhelming. I can not tell you how much I failed to accomplish simply because the task seemed so daunting I would put it off and put it off.  I was great at coming up with ideas, not so great at implementing them.  That required way too much of me.  Much of what was accomplished during the last year, or two, was done by incredible volunteers.  And I knew it.  I felt God asking me over and over, "That which you began in the Spirit, are you now trying to accomplish in the flesh?"  (Galatians 3:3, again paraphrased)

Being a mom is over-whelming to me.  Not every day, but there are certainly days that I wonder if I'm going to make it.  This was particularly true when I had a toddler and a newborn, but is true even now on occasion.  I struggle with balancing healthy eating, keeping a clean house, offering new experiences for my girls, playing outside, stopping to play with them when they ask, giving them individual attention, and just being in the moment with my girls.  God is merciful, but even in His great mercy, He really must tire of my shenanigans.  I'll be plugged in for a while, and mothering is easier on those days.  Then, I loosen my grip on Jesus and suddenly mothering is nearly all I can do.  And my children are not like final exams; I can not sleep through them.  They need to be fed, bathed, nurtured, and challenged.  I may be over-whelmed by responsibility, but I can not shirk from this responsibility.  And so I wake up and do the thing.  And some days I am plugged in and do it to the best of my ability.  But when I push forward without a tight grip on Jesus, each step seems to take more energy than I have to give.  And my children pay the price for my lack of energy and joy.  One of my most constant prayers goes something like this, "Lord, change me for THEIR sake!  Help me so they don't pay the price for my sins.  May I love you more and live for you so they see you in me and, in turn, love you too."  I pray my grip on Jesus is steadfast, because when it is, mothering my children is not overwhelming, it is a JOY!  And please, don't misunderstand me, every day has moments of joy.  And every day brings difficulties.  But the theme of each day varies greatly according to my walk with Jesus.

3.  The real story behind my struggles

This is two-fold.  First, as I mentioned above, I am inconsistent.  My struggles would be reduced to dust if I would keep a tight hold on Jesus.  And, when I refer to my hold on Jesus, I'm really referring to the consistency of my quiet time.  Tight hold = consistent time alone with my Savior and Redeemer.  Looser grip = sporadic quality time with Jesus, sometimes going days without the Bread of Life and Living Water.  During those times I'm running on empty.  No wonder life seems over-whelming.  It's like trying to run a marathon without eating or drinking anything for days before-hand.  I have no fuel for the race.  And life is a race.  A hard race.  A marathon.  (See Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7, and Philippians 3:13.)

Second, I have a hard time believing I am who God says I am.  Again, some of this disbelief dissipates when I'm in the Word, but even then, I really struggle to believe that God sees me in a positive light.  I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again:  I think so many of our problems (and I mean my problems) would dissolve if we (I) could grasp how much God loves us (me).  If I could just get it to sink into my marrow that God loves me and sees me as holy, blameless, pure, righteous, forgiven, and new...

Wow.

Lord, may I believe it.  May all of us who bear your holy seal believe it.

The song comes to mind again.  I sing it all the time.  Hoping it will sink in.

I am not who I was, I'm being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved
I am new


--Jason Gray



P.S.  Before any of you start worrying or calling me, please know that I really do know that God never tires of us.  And I know His love is steadfast.  He IS love.  And I know that even when we are less than obedient, He is still faithful.  He is good, all the time.  But it's much easier for me to believe that is true for you than for me.  When I'm less than my own expectations of myself, I struggle with accepting that He sees me as holy and blameless, forgiven and loved.  But I know it's true.  And, as I continue to soak in His Word, I know the truth will soak into the marrow of my being. It won't just be something I know, it will be part of who I am.


"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."  (Romans 12:2, NLT, emphasis mine)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

It's All About Food

My obsession with food is surely obvious now.  
But if you'll allow me just one more indulgence...

We are finally getting some yummies from our garden!  
Hip Hip Hooray!  
It's not a lot, but pretty much every day for the last two weeks, we have been gathering a handful or two of strawberries.  
AND now our tomatoes are coming in!  
Here is what we found in our little garden today:



You should see the four of us dividing the spoils among us at dinner.  
The gatherings are so yummy, but so far from plentiful.  
We all get one or two strawberries and like a half of a Juliet tomato.  
We act like we're rationing out the last bit of beef jerky while we're lost, it's negative 10 outside, and we have no hope of any more food anytime soon.

---------------------------------------------

Also, I thought I should update any of you who might be interested in knowing how the "Best Steak Marinade in Existence" stacked up.  
Oh my!  
It was super yummy.  
I will DEFINITELY be using it again.  
If you want to give it a try, see this post.

I promise to try to find more entertaining things to write about in the near future.  
But then again, food is pretty fabulous.  

Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Random Accomplishments

Maybe I should just rename my blog "The Random Momma."  Because I am all over the place these days.   But I just have to share a few things with you that have thrilled my soul this week.

Accomplishment #1
The siding on the house is done.  Yah!!!!  Double YAH!!! 



The HOUSE is not done, but just getting all the siding hung was a huge accomplishment.  And, I actually got to drive a few nails myself.  I felt like quite the handy-woman Saturday, suited up in my baseball cap and tool belt, complete with a hammer hanging at my side.

We still have to paint the brick, hang the shutters, finish painting the door (it will be a bit darker, not quite so pink) and caulk the windows.  Then we have to move on to the very large building--the two-story garage that initially drew my husband to this house ("I can have a man cave!") and gave me pause ("What is that monstrosity in the back yard?").  I'm hoping the pink-red door will draw the eyes of our visitors to our house, not the garage that towers over it.  No remarks about my choice of color please; I've already heard them all.  And I still love it.  Why have plain and boring when you can have bright and happy?

These are the only parts for which I can take credit...


My happy red door.  Oh!  And I did offer suggestions (that probably weren't appreciated) and hand my man the tools while he hung our adorable little light fixture.  That might be my favorite part of the house.  Isn't it fabulous?  





See that two feet of siding between our back door and our window?  Isn't it lovely?  I hung that.  And, yes, I cut out around the light fixture.  "It is a small kind of accomplishment, I suppose."  (Elizabeth, Pride and Prejudice)  Small for some people, maybe, but it felt like I had been to the moon and back when I heard that piece above the light snap into place.

Yes, those are snowflakes and Valentine hearts still in our window from this winter.  Oh!  It's June now?  Ooops.



Accomplishment #2
My big girl just got a little bigger yesterday.  Watch the video and behold the beauty of a 4-year-old milestone.  I am one proud momma.  And, yes, that is me you hear shrilling in the background.  I am not one to hide my emotions.

video





Accomplishment #3
My man and I celebrated 9 years of wedded bliss this past week.  And, if you ask me, in this day, nine years is quite an accomplishment!  We still feel like newlyweds sometimes.  We even joked about that the other night at dinner.  But then there are other times when we feel like we have been married for-EVER!  As Beth Moore says, I have never loved anyone more than I've loved my husband; I have never hated anyone more than I've hated my husband.  Because when I feel an emotion I feel it intensely!   In spite of some crazy moments, we love each other more now that we did when we married.  As I've said before, he is the yen to my yang, figuratively speaking.  While I'm all up and down emotionally, he is almost never super excited or upset.  I'm easily over-whelmed; he rarely is.  I'm a talker; he is not.  I could go on and on, but I'll spare you.

I can remember when I was younger, I made a list of the characteristics that I wanted my husband to have.  The funny thing is that I only remember two of the items on my list:

1.  May he compliment me.  (As in balance me.  Complete me.  Not tell me how great I am.  Though that wouldn't be bad either.)
2.  May he stand tallest when he's on his knees.  (I'm not sure exactly where I was in my faith walk at that point in my life, but I knew enough about God and marriage to know that they had to go together. I'm thankful that I had the foresight to pray for a Godly man.  I thank my mom for encouraging my spiritual growth.  I have a good man in large part because of her.)

I have no idea why my man has decided to put up with me all these years.  I'm not lying when I tell you that I am hard to live with.  I am much more volatile than I appear to be.  And I'm really pretty rotten.  Remember, I am the youngest of six.  So, I'm pretty spoiled to getting my way.  And my man continues to spoil me.  Poor him.  Lucky me.

I'm so very thankful for my man.  God has blessed me so much!  He answered my prayers far beyond what I ever could have imagined.  And He's given my man the fortitude to hang with me for nine short-long years.  

Thank you, my man.  I am blessed by your long-term accomplishment.

Here's hoping for infinity, I mean eternity...and beyond!

Monday, June 18, 2012

My hands are burning! My hands are burning!

I have no idea how many times I have cut jalapeno peppers in my lifetime.  In college, I grew them and cut them up for recipes all. the. time.  Occasionally, I would even cut up a habanero for chili.  And I never had any ill side-effects.

I think I bought a mutant at Kroger last night.  I cut one measly jalapeno for supper and my burning right hand kept me up half the night!  I even wondered for a bit if I was going to have blisters because there were red blotches in a few places that burned intensely.

By 11 o'clock, I was becoming desperate.  I once again turned to Google.  I started typing "hands burning..." and it filled in the rest for me, "...from cutting jalapeno peppers."  I realized then that perhaps my pepper wasn't a mutant and my situation wasn't as uncommon as I thought, since the search engine was able to anticipate the rest of my thought.

However common the situation might be, it seems no one has been able to discover a remedy.  The first sight I went to listed olive oil as a solution:  rub it on your hands for about a minute to absorb the capsaicin into the olive oil, then wash with soap and water to rinse the capsaicin away.  Nada.

I asked my Facebook friends for help.  My brother, always the jokester, told me to rub my eyes and then I would forget the pain in my hands.  Thanks, bro, but I learned a long time ago to seriously weigh the effects of taking a big brother's advice.

Another friend suggested milk.  Tried it.  Nothing.

Another suggestion was to rub hands in GoJo and then wash it off; while someone else warned that absolutely no one, under any circumstances, should use GoJo because it's like rubbing sandpaper on a burn.  No thanks.

Dawn dish soap.  I washed my hands with it at least three times.  Nothing.

I continued my research, getting a million conflicting reports.  One read, "Calamine lotion--works like a dream."  I didn't have any calamine, but I did have triple medicated Gold Bond ointment.  My husband convinced me to try it, because, as he said, what did I have to lose?  Well, it wasn't necessarily worse, but I can't say it was better.  Unless you like the feeling of Icy-Hot, I wouldn't recommend it.  That was weird.  I washed it off the best I could.

Yet another report suggested rubbing alcohol, but a Facebook friend warned against that.  Then someone else said any kind of alcohol would do.  This was my favorite report on that:

"this [experience with burning hands] has never happened to me with jalapenos or serranos but it has happened with those little thai peppers. i tried all of the suggested cures, but eventually, i gave up and instead of soaking my hands in vodka, drank enough of it to dull the pain and fall asleep."

That made me laugh, hard, because I could completely relate.  Had I any vodka in my house, it would have been a tempting solution.

All throughout this time, in between trying various remedies, I was surfing the internet with one hand in a bowl of ice water.  And this, my friends, turned out to be the best solution.

  
Thanks, honey, for photographically documenting my painful Father's Day dinner experience.

I feel I should just add one last thought:  I had heard of this burning hand phenomenon and thought it only happened to wimps who were unable to handle a little heat.  One of these days I will learn that pride comes before the fall, in any situation.  And in this case, the fall was physically painful.  I read reports from several others online who had cut peppers all their lives too and then, bam!  One time they cut them and felt the burn.  So, to all you pepper users out there, be safe!  Wear gloves.  But, if you, like me, think you are above the burn, just keep this in the back of your mind:  nothing relieves the burn completely, but if you are able to remain stationary, a bowl of ice water sure can help.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Randomness Continues

So, we have had three or four guys at our house everyday this week helping my man put siding on our house.  I get to feed them.  I love to cook.  Have I told you that?  I really do.  But, I love to cook what I love to cook.  Which is mostly vegetarian, with a lot of different veggies and spices.  I do have several meat recipes because my man is a full-fledged carnivore, but even those recipes usually have a LOT of other stuff in them.  What I'm trying to say is this:  I do not know a lot of creative ways to cook meat.  And when you're cooking for 4 or 5 grown men, 4 days in a row, you need some fun meat ideas.  See, that doesn't even go together.  Fun, meat, ideas.  What is fun about meat?  I mean how many ideas can people really come up with to cook...meat?

Here's the limit of my creativity so far:

Day 1, Monday:
*Donuts for morn snack
*Sausage Pizza and garlic bread for lunch
*Fried apple pies for afternoon snack
(None of this was home-made, mind you!  I had been gone for nearly a week and had not make it to the grocery store yet, so they got fast food.  And you'll notice there is nothing creative about my meat here.)

Day 2, Tuesday:
*Nut clusters and peanut butter pretzels for morning snack, straight from the bag (I'm stellar; what else can I say?)
*Sandwiches, fruit, veggies, and cucumber salad for lunch
(At least I had some variety here:  ham, chicken salad, or pimento cheese.  Surprisingly, the pimento cheese went first.  Weird.)
*Home-made ice cream for snack

Day 3, Wednesday:
*Egg and cheese on English muffins
(I really didn't even expect these to be eaten since I didn't have any meat to put on them.  Those men did tease me a little, but surprised me by choking them down anyway.)
*Pork sandwiches, slaw, fruit, salad, and chips for lunch
(CREATIVE!  Well, for me it was since I had never made pull-pork sands before.  Thanks goes out, once again, to my sista "Sissa" for giving me this idea.  It was really hard, so I'm sure you all wouldn't want to be weighed down with the recipe.  Really, I slaved all. day. long.  But the guys loved it so it was worth it.  Okay, you know me better.  Throw a pork tenderloin in a crock pot and douse with "liquid smoke."  Cook for 8 hours.  Shred it and throw it on a bun with some sauce.  Seriously.  And they really did love it.)
*Old fashioned fudge pie with home-made ice cream for dessert (Thanks, Paula Deen!)

Thursday:
They took the day off.  I insisted.  All this cooking was wearing me out.  They, of course, begged me to let them work on my house another day, but I said, NO!  I'm actually laughing my head off right now because those men worked their tails off and I did next to nothing.  They told my man they weren't working today, but they were playing golf instead.  Good for them.  They'll be back in the morning though.  They are dedicated friends.  And you should know they are "retired" men.  Though, I'm not really sure what they are retired from, since they work as hard now, or harder, than most young "working" men I know.

Tomorrow:
Cinnamon rolls, straight from the Pillsbury Dough Boy (Shouldn't he be a man by now?)
Steaks, potatoes, and salad for lunch
Cake with sugared fruit for dessert

Tomorrow is the one meal in which I will get to exercise a little creative muscle with my meat.  Only I have none when it comes to meat, so what do I do?  Google "overnight steak marinade" of course.  And the first thing that pops up is "Best Steak Marinade in Existence."  So, since we all know we can believe everything that's on the internet, I decide it must be the best steak marinade in existence and it is now sitting happily in my frig in a Ziploc back with four ribeyes.  I must admit to you that I actually am a little bit skeptical, but when you're a meat ig-no-ra-moose like me, you take whatever advice you can get from Google.  Here it is, if any of you are interested.


Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced garlic (optional)

Directions

  1. Place the soy sauce, olive oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, and pepper in a blender. Add hot pepper sauce and garlic, if desired. Blend on high speed for 30 seconds until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Pour marinade over desired type of meat. Cover, and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Cook meat as desired.


Courtesy of allrecipes.com.  They say it's the best.  Whoever they are.  I guess you'd have to actually try a whole bunch of different marinades to know.  And since I rarely eat steak, I'm pretty sure I'm disqualified from giving it such a strong commendation, even if I love it.

Some of you are probably starting to wonder if this is becoming a blog about cooking.  Well, no.  But it is a blog about me, trying to be a real mom.  And this is reality for me right now--a whole lot of my life happens in the kitchen.  And this week, more so than ever.  I feel like one of those women right out of an 1800's novel about the American frontier, cooking for her man while he is out working in the fields and the barn.  He comes in wanting a big ol' feast, eats, and goes right back out, while she cleans up meal number one and starts on meal number two.  And this cycle continues all day long.  The only difference is I'm not growing all my ingredients.  That's the only difference, really.  Really!  Why don't you believe me?

Okay, come back another time when I'm feeling more somber.  Or at least when I've had some sleep.  It's midnight and I'm just plain silly.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Some Randomness in the Midst of My Conundrum

Over and over as I blog I am faced with the same conundrum:  should I say this?

I have written three posts just this week (not counting the innumerable ones that I've started in weeks past), that are sitting in my post list as "drafts," because all of them contain some controversial topics.  I ask myself over and over, "Do I share my heart on this?"  I mean, one on hand, I think...this is my blog, the place where I can say whatever's on my mind, the place where I can share my own inner struggles, the place I am recording life and life lessons for my little princesses, the place people can visit if they want to read my thoughts or avoid if they don't.  On the other hand, I think...is this helpful to others, does it come across judgmental or condescending (the very last thing I ever want to be), does it adequately portray my own struggles with this subject while also honoring God?

So, as I continue to ponder these things with God, I will simply offer you a little light reading for today.  This is going to be insanely random.  Can you take it?

New siding started going on my house yesterday.


Here is a "before" shot.


This was taken a couple of years ago when we had just done some landscaping.  The weird brown spot in front of the raised bed is where we killed the grass.  Oops.

New doors went in yesterday too.  We will eventually get new shutters and paint the brick green to match the siding and foundation black to really make it all pop.  Maybe I'll have "after" pictures next summer.  


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While browsing Facebook posts recently, I saw one friend welcome two new babies into her life as she finally became a momma to two adopted boys; another friend welcomed her man home from serving our country.  She posted a picture of her little boy, asleep, hanging onto daddy for dear life.  I just wept for both of these families as I realized how blessed I was to never have experienced such longing--for babies or for a far-off husband.  I was extra thankful all day for my man who's home every night and my little beauties who came to me so easily--without any planning, in fact.  (Slight smile here.)

I also thought about my oldest brother, who is battling an unseen enemy inside his body that causes twitches, spasms, and pain, and he hardly says a word.  And I complain about allergies.  My sister who lives in a home that is undergoing constant renovation, while she is raising five kids and working full-time.  And I whine when I can't get the window trim I want.  My niece who had to wish her Army husband goodbye just days after marrying him.  And I fuss when mine walks in the house with dirty shoes on.  My sister-in-law who battled cancer...my friend who is battling it now...my friends and family who have suffered or are suffering the pain of divorce or separation...the list goes on and on.  

Sometimes I am reminded of just how weak I am.  I don't know how I would hold up under such trials as I see my friends and family members endure.  And I also know that if we live very long, we are going to endure more than a little hardship.  I pray that I am ready when it comes, because I don't feel ready now.

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There is an awesome song out these days that is the perfect reminder for me as it is perfectly suited to the current spiritual battle I'm in.  (It seems to me that each of us is always in some sort of battle, it just changes from time to time.)  Here's the coolest thing about the song.  I couldn't remember the name of it just now, or really even any of the words; I just knew that at the end of the song there was a passage--descriptive words collected from Scriptures--of how God defines us.  I went to K-Love's website because I had heard it on K-Love recently.  I thought I would just browse through their play list, but get this!  On the side of their site, they have a "Listen Online" link, and below it is listed the song that is "Now Playing," which as you've probably guessed, just happened to be the song I was looking for:  "I am New" by Jason Gray.  Isn't God so cool like that?!  Here are the lyrics.  I hope they are as encouraging to you as they are to me.

You can give me a name
Call me whatever you like
Or weigh me down with shame
To crush me but you won't
My burdens are light 

Chorus
I am not who I was, I'm being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved
I am new 

Now I won't deny
The worst you could say about me
But I'm not defined
By mistakes that I've made
Because God says of me 

I am not who I was, I'm being remade
I am new
I am chosen and holy and I'm dearly loved
I am new 

Too long have I lived in the shadows of shame
Believing that there was no way I could change
But the one who is making everything new
Doesn't see me the way that I do 
Who I thought I was
And who I thought I had to be
I had to give them both up
Cause neither were willing
To ever believe 

CHORUS 
I am not who I was, I'm being remade
I am new
Dead to my sin, I'm coming alive
I am new 

Forgiven, beloved, Hidden in Christ
Made in the image of the Giver of Life
Righteous and holy, reborn and remade
Accepted and worthy, this is our new name
This is who we are now

Monday, June 4, 2012

My God is Bigger

So, we have had a LOT going on lately.  Nothing bad, really all good, but a lot of stuff, nonetheless.  And in the midst of the LOT, we realized we were going to have to buy a car.  Which on one hand, we were really happy because we were about to burst out the seems of our then-car, but on the other hand, we were not so happy because we really didn't want another monthly payment.

So, we crunched the numbers and fixed a price range in our heads, preferably between "X" and "Y", but if necessary we could possibly go all the way to "Z."

We have some good friends who were wanting to sell their Jeep.  It is in EXCELLENT condition and only has about 60,000 miles.  (And, when I say, "excellent," I mean it is like brand new.)  They told us what they were wanting for it, but we really had our hearts set on a Honda Element or CRV.  So, we told them we'd think about it and then we looked around.  And we looked.  And. we. looked.

But our poor car hit a wall.  Not literally, of course, but the poor thing was just old and tired.  We had taken it to the shop twice in less than a month and it still had issues.  After leaving large puddles of mysterious fluids everywhere we parked it, we finally decided it was unsafe to drive.  And we realized that we were running out of time to look.  Our sweet friends loaned us their Jeep to drive until we could find something.  But I felt bad about that.  Basically we were saying this:  "We really don't want your car, but can we just drive it around indefinitely until we find what we do want?"  We started feeling like God was leading us towards the Jeep.  (Sad face.)

We had prayed about the situation, I threw a little spoiled-rotten-brat tantrum with God about not getting exactly what I wanted, then I started getting peace about the Jeep.  Really, it is most everything I wanted--small SUV, large cargo space in the back, low mileage, and way under "Z."  So, we tell our friends, "Actually, we ARE interested," and we started the financing process.

The day we were to go get to the bank, I received a Max Lucado devotional via email that talked about God getting "bigger" as we grow in our faith.  Oh, I'll never be able to do it justice, and it's short, so here it is:

When Christ is great–our fears are not!  A big God translates into big courage.  A small view of God generates no courage.  A limp, puny, fireless Jesus has no power over cancer cells, corruption, identity theft, stock-market crashes, or global calamity.
A packageable, portable Jesus might fit well in a purse or on a shelf, but he does nothing for your fears.  In the book Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, the character Lucy sees Aslan, the lion, for the first time in many years.  He’s changed.
“Aslan,” she says, “you’re bigger.”
“That’s because you are older, little one,” he answers.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not.  But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”
And so it is with Christ.  The longer we live in him, the greater he becomes in us.  It’s not that he changes, but that we do.  We see more of him!

(Isn't Max the best?!)

So, we met at the bank and they told us, in essence, "Sure, you can have the money, and your monthly payments will be [this]."  Only [this] was $2 over the price we wanted to pay each month.  I know, I know.  You are thinking, what is $2?  But for me, it was a caution light.  When God makes a boundary clear to me and I stretch it, I nearly always find myself in deeper water than I anticipated.  And I do not know how to swim.  (Yes, I tell truth.)

We asked about extending the loan a few months to lower the monthly payments, but they said they just really couldn't do that because of the age of the Jeep. Even though it is in EXCELLENT condition, it's considered "old" by most banks' standards.  And no bank wants to finance an older vehicle for more than two years.  Although I fully understood this, I also really had hopes of keeping our payments below [this].

In retrospect, it was fortunate that I did not bring all the necessary items to finish the financing that day,and so we set up an appointment for the next day to sign the papers and get the check.  My man went back to work and I headed to the grocery.  All the while, I was sending up prayers that went something like this:

"God, I know you have always provided our needs.  And it seems like You are leading us towards this Jeep, but I really thought our monthly payments needed to be under [this] and, yes, I know we're only talking about a $2 difference, but is this your way of telling us that this is not the right move?  I know you are totally able to provide if it is, but if this is not what we are supposed to do, I don't want to make a foolish decision then expect You to get us out of our self-made mess."

I was in the diaper isle, when my man called to tell me he had just gotten off the phone with our bank.

"Oh no," I said, "What's the problem?"

"They would like to extend our loan a few months and lower our payments to [this new amount]," well under the amount we wanted to pay each month.

WHAAAAAT?!  That's crazy!  And the tears started to overflow, right there by the Pampers.  That, my friends, is how big my God is.

He is SOOOOOO good.  "He shows unfailing kindness to His anointed."  (Psalm 18:50)