My Fab Fam

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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Recipe Books for ALS

You may remember a phase I went through recently of blogging all things food.  In the midst of that, I was contributing recipes to a cookbook that my sis-in-law was putting together for ALS.  I promised you that I would tell you when the books were done...and they are now available to buy.

Why cookbooks for ALS?

My oldest brother was diagnosed with this horrific disease about a year and a half ago.  If you are not familiar with this disease, here's my layman's explanation:  it is a terminal illness that effects the nervous system, which in turn causes loss of muscle control.  The disease can start off with so slight a symptom as not being able to curl up your toes when you walk (also known as "drop foot," which was my brother's case) but will progress to the inability to talk, swallow, and, eventually, breathe.

My sister-in-law wanted to do something to raise money for the needs of my brother and other ALS patients.  The medical equipment required to cope with this disease is extensive.  And expensive.  Some of the money from the cookbooks will go to help pay for a lift recliner that my brother recently had to buy, as he is no longer able to get out of a chair by himself.  Some of the money will go to support others they know who are struggling with the financial repercussions of ALS, even to the point of being unable to buy groceries.

I know there are a million "causes" vying for our support.  I certainly understand that there may be other things to which you are obligated or passionate about at this time.  However, if you have an extra $10 (approximately $7 of which will go to patient support) to spare, I would love for you to consider helping my brother and others in his condition.  And in turn, you will receive almost two hundred recipes (a few of which you can see here).  Win-win situation if you ask me.

Please comment below if you would like to order.  Many, many thanks!

**I will ship cookbooks to you!  S/H on me.  Just email me your address at**

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Some Smiles to Say I'm Sorry

Just wanted to send out a quick "sorry!" to those of you that have recently commented on my posts.  I recently changed the email address at which I receive your comments, and for some reason my phone was not notifying me of emails received at that address.  I just noticed some comments from several days ago that were "awaiting moderation."  Ooops!  I have now changed the settings on my phone.  So, comment away.  I'll know it now.  =)

And now...a few smiles to make up for it...

I know you all may tire of constant dress up pictures, but every time they come to me in another outfit I think it is the cutest thing yet and have to snap another picture.

If you come by my house unexpectedly on any given day, you will find my living room looking for all the world like a playroom.  Can I get an amen?  On this particular day, my girls had set up a buffet for me and all their pets, a.k.a. toy animals.

So tell me, would you want to eat anything that evoked this emotion in your server?  I told her I was very afraid of those fries.

Baby girl and I shared some tea.  Sweetest tea in the world.

I have no idea what they were doing here.  All I do know is big girl was once again giving orders and baby girl was happy to oblige.  And look!  We do wear real clothes sometimes!  I knew I would document it eventually.

It is so very rare that it rains here without storming.  So, we do not get to play in the rain very often.  Loved this rare opportunity.  (My man opted to stay in and he snapped our picture through the screen, which explains the nice texture.)  And you'll notice we are sporting our usual duds--PJ's.  And rain boots.  What, oh what will we do when they outgrow these frog boots?  Good memories have been made with these green friends.

"Let's skip naps and go out for pizza!"
No, I would never say this.  But when your life hits a bump, pretend you're on a roller coaster.  (If you like roller coasters, which I do.)  I had a million things to do this day.  So, after sitting with the girls for over an hour waiting for them to fall asleep, and since they seemed no closer to sleep than when they first crawled in bed, I told them to get up.  We got dressed and headed out on our errands; first on the list was lunch.  We love this little locally owned restaurant that serves the best pizza ever.  Unfortunately, if you want the best, you pay for the best, which is why we don't get the best very often.  But this was a treat--a rare lunch date with my girls.

There was some great light shining through their stained glass windows, so I took a lot of pix.  If only I had a better camera on my phone...

And, just for fun, I thought I would throw in some updated pix of my garden.  It didn't produce much, but we did get some corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and strawberries.  It has pretty much stopped producing already.  The long dry season took its toll.  Even though we've recently had some good rain (as you can tell by the grass that's turned green again) it just seems to be too little too late.  And, yes, we watered it every couple of days, but there is nothing like good ol' rain water.

This picture (taken from my patio) makes the garden look so much better than it does in reality.
Ah, Instagram.

This (looking down from my deck) is a more accurate representation of the mess I call my garden.
We have made vast improvements since last year though--we actually ate some food from our garden this year!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Writer's Block

Since I seem to be seriously struggling with a terrible case of writer's block, I think I'll let my daughter "write" today's post.

Yesterday, we were playing in the living room and big girl commenced to tell me about one of her many adventures with her horse.  The horse's name was Sulee.  (I'm guessing at the spelling of this name that sounded like suh-LEE, not to be confused with Sulley, a.k.a. James P. Sullivan, who works at Monsters Inc.)  Anywho, Sulee was running fast on a broken bridge, with my girl on her back.  But my girl obviously has some super powers, because she reached in the saddle bag, pulled out a rope, tied one end to the horse's neck and the other to a tree (yes, all while riding)...and the rope was tied off at the perfect length to stop the horse just before it fell off the broken bridge!  The horse didn't fall, but they were in a perilous position, hanging over the edge.  My modern-day cowgirl decided to call for help.  And here is where things took an interesting turn, because I was imagining this call would be a loud yell for help, to which some other lone cowgirl or cowboy (heaven forbid) riding in the wild frontier would respond and come to rescue Sulee and her rider.  However, the police, ambulance, and firemen showed up, shattering my vision of a deserted, rusty, broken train bridge in a desert-like wilderness.  I realized this was not your average story of horses and the old western frontier.  I asked my girl how the police, ambulance, and firemen found her.  She called them from her cell phone of course.

I realize now that my big girl, in her four short years, has probably never seen a scene from an old western.  Why shouldn't horses ride right through a modern-day town or city, carry riders with cell phones, and when found in perilous situations, be rescued by modern-day rescue workers?  It's not a far-stretch at all for her little mind.  But it certainly collides with my ideas of what should and should not be.  I predicted how her story should go according to my limited imagination.

Which made me often do I do this with God?  How often do I limit the story He is writing for me, according to my inferior imagination.  He can imagine and do far more than I can imagine.  My brain and thoughts are limited by my experience of 34 short years.  His are boundless like the universe He created, boundless like eternity, boundless like Him.

"To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen!"  Ephesians 3: 20-21

Today I'm praying to be wide open to His plans.  I want to experience a wild ride!  And when danger is approaching, I want to exhibit super-human powers.  I want to be shocked and awed by the twists and turns in my story.  And when I come to the end, I will be rescued.  Oh!  And I will ride a horse!

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, who rider is called Faithful and True...The armies of heaven were following Him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean..."  Revelation 19:11, 14

Friday, July 20, 2012

Through the Fire

Just shot a quick email to my aunt and realized it was perfect subject matter for a post.

This is going to be quick, probably somewhat stream-of-consciousness, and certainly without attention to grammatical correctness.

Just a quick mental scan of some people I know makes me realize how many of us (many of you) are walking through the fire.  By this, I mean some sort of trial.  Some sort of pain.

A brother whose ALS has taken away his ability to walk or even get out of his house.

A friend whose little boy (the same age as my big girl) who had a tumor removed, underwent chemo, and was in remission only to have another mass appear within just a few months.  It was removed yesterday and the family is experiencing deja vu as they await biopsy results.

A family torn and broken.  (How many of us does this describe?)

A discouraged church member.  Perhaps a discouraged congregation.

An unemployed lady who is bitter that others who are younger, less educated, and less experienced are getting jobs that she feels she could have.

An educated businessman who has been without work for a year and a half.

A wife who is hurt by the words spoken in ignorance about her husband.

A child who is hurt by his father's inability to be everything he thinks a dad should be.

A sister who can not keep her feet out of the pit of drug addiction.

A daughter who was abandoned.

Three daughters who were kidnapped by their own mother, forced to live out of a car and care for each other while she looked for her next fix.

The parents of an innocent child who lost her life in a movie theater.

All these things make me ask, "Why, God?  WHY?"

And yet, "though he slay me, I will trust in Him."  (Job 13:15, my paraphrase)  What other hope do we have?  Life is tough.  God didn't promise Easy Street.  But He promises to walk with us, hold our hand, and when we can't walk any longer, to carry us.  But we have to be willing to trust.  Oh, the difficulty of trust.  Believing there is an end to these woods.  Hope on the other side of this fire.  Or, maybe just believing there IS an other side to this fire.  Trust.  Hope.  Believe.  Believe there is an end, dear sisters.  It may not even be in this lifetime, but there is a beautiful, glorious "other side," to our trials.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  Romans 8:18, ESV

Glory is coming.  If you are suffering--and it seems so many I know are--hang on to the hope that our sufferings can not even compare to the glory that's coming.  And, until then, may we cling tightly to God who is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  (Psalm 46:1)


After writing the post above, I opened my email to find a perfectly suited devotional from Max Lucado.  I had to come back and add it here.

Let’s face it–anxiety or worry have no advantages!  They ruin our health, rob us of joy, and change nothing!  Our day stands no chance against the terrorists of the Land of Anxiety.
But Christ offers a worry-bazooka.  Remember how He taught us to pray?  “Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6:11”  This simple sentence unveils God’s provision plan:  live one day at a time.
Worry gives small problems big shadows.  Corrie ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows; it empties today of its strength.”   And Romans 8:28 affirms: “Every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
Most anxiety stems, not from what we need, but from what we want.  Philippians 4:4 says, “delight yourselves in the Lord, yes, find your joy in Him at all times!”
If God is enough, you’ll always have enough!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guarded Minds

Today I'm going to tattle on the enemy.  I am finally realizing that my beef is always, ultimately with HIM!

I saw something else on Facebook several days ago that was as disturbing as the pictures I mentioned in a recent post--several people raving about a popular book, Fifty Shades of Grey.  I have heard so many people say they are reading this book, and raving about how great it is, without sharing a single detail of its contents.  All this served to make me very curious as to what the book was about, and even (in my ignorance) think it was a book I might want to read.  And then I read an article about it, written by a Christian woman who became vocal when she realized her friends were reading the book.  Now that I know what it is about, I am no longer surprised that women are unwilling to share details, but I am saddened to know that this book is so popular right now.  If you don't know much about this book, here is the site of the article I read by Dannah Gresh that explains why you don't want to read it:

True Woman:  A Ministry of Revive Our Hearts

I have also seen several women raving in their Facebook posts about the movie, Magic Mike.  For those of you that don't know much about this movie either, count yourselves lucky.  It is a movie about male strippers.  Again, someone else states the truth about this better than I can; here's the link:

Mrs. Gore's Diary

I am saddened and maddened (if you'll allow me a little liberty with my words for the sake of rhyming) and literally a bit sick when I think about how our enemy is gradually wearing away at our modesty and morality.  He angers me with his luring subtleties and not-so-subtle allurements.  I wish we all (and by we I mean ME) would be ONTO HIM!  May we be aware that the junk around us is a direct result of his attempt to lure us away from all that is right and good.

I know many of you who read this blog, and I know many of you feel the same way I do about how the enemy is perverting our attitude towards sex.  But if you haven't already, I just beg you all to at least consider that maybe some things around us are giving us more than our healthy share of sex.  I realize that I'm starting to sound like my grandma, but sex is for the privacy of our own home and our own husband.  And, within those boundaries, it is a beautiful thing.  A BEAUTIFUL thing!  I've said it before and I'll say it again:  all things go with your own man!  (And by man, I mean husband.)  So, write your own book and make your own movie--right inside your home.  (But please don't share it with us.)

My prayer is that we would have our eyes wide open to the scheme's of our enemy so that we can shut them tight, turn our head, or run when he brings something before us that is the least bit unhealthy.

P.S.  Perhaps some of you are tempted to check out Fifty Shades of Gray and/or Magic Mike because you are bored.  Perhaps you think sex within marriage is, by nature, stale.  I don't want to shock any of you, but I do not think marital sex has to be boring!  If you're looking for a boost in intimacy with your husband, Read Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon).  Seriously!  Don't laugh until you've read it.  You just might be surprised how open God is on the subject of sex.  He seems to set only one limit:  it must be within the confines of marriage.  And His thoughts on sex never corrupt and always purify...and will send you to bed inspired.  Enjoy!

1.1 Solomon’s Song of Songs.


2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— 

for your love is more delightful than wine.


4.10 How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!
How much more pleasing is your love than wine,
and the fragrance of your perfume
more than any spice.

If you would like to take a deeper look into Song of Solomon, here's a great place to start:

Enduring Word Media

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Vacillating Furiously

I should be working on a Bible study lesson right now.  In less than twelve hours I will be "teaching" (and I use that word loosely) on the book of Revelation.  I am not prepared, and yet I here I am blogging.  Because I absolutely have to share this while it's fresh.

I was just perusing Facebook while sitting with my girls, waiting for them to fall asleep (a routine my husband and I can not seem to break).  While perusing, I found the "Living Proof Ministries with Beth Moore" page.  (Most of you know how much I love Beth Moore.)  Well, from that page, I found a link to their blog.  (Hallelujah!  I can get a word from Beth on a consistent basis!)  I clicked on the link, which led me to a post about the enemy attacking one of Beth's "little sisters" in Christ.  Beth was so ticked at the enemy, as she put it, that she could not wait to get to the office and write a post to encourage her little sisters in Christ.  She asked for her little sisters (39 and under--the category into which I fall) to state how they need some encouragement, and for her big sisters (40 and over) to reply with some encouragement.  (I was one of nearly 2,000 ladies that replied to her post.  How cool is that?  The body of Christ, all over the world, coming together through the internet!)

Part of her post so perfectly articulated one of my most constant struggles that I'm going to share it here.  She said that her "little sister" asked if she (Beth) had been "here?"  Here, being the season in life where it seems that Satan is hell-bent, literally, on destroying everything you know, everyone you know, and everything in you.  The season of sifting.  Here is Beth's response.

Have I been there, my beloved little sister?
Let’s see. How loud can I say this?? I HAVE BEEN THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BOY, HAVE I EVER BEEN THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And part of me survived. And part of me died.
And the part of me that died, as painful as it was, needed to.
And when it tries to resurrect it’s ugly, deformed, decayed head, I remind it that it is dead, lest it need another killing. Because I don’t want another killing.
I don’t mean my baffling tendency to sin is dead. I deal with that old nature everyday. I can still – almost out of nowhere – vacillate furiously between self-love and self loathing until I’m so dizzy I could regurgitate. But that joint victim and victimizer in me, that violent inner working nurtured at the breast of deceit and raised in sickness with a bent on self-destruction, took what still appears over many years to be a fair beheading.
The part that so adequately sums up my struggle is the "vacillat[ing] furiously between self-love and self-loathing until I'm so dizzy I could regurgitate."  That's me.  And that is why I can no longer teach.  I couldn't articulate this the other day when I wrote about my decision to quit teaching, but this furious vacillation is why.  This struggle has to end.  And I am going to have to do some serious spiritual battle to end it.  And, I am certain that it needs my full attention.  Until I have destroyed "that joint victim and victimizer in me," I can do nothing else.  I have got to be 100% confident of who I am in Christ--that I can do nothing apart from Him (John 15:5), but all things, everything, through him (Philippians 4:13)--until I can truly serve Him in the Spirit (Galations 3:3).

Let me say this:  I knew well before this season of sifting came that it was coming.  I have only "heard" God speak directly to me a handful of times, but girlfriend, I have never been more sure of anything than the fact that He told me years ago that Satan had asked to sift me like wheat.  (See Luke 22.)  Even being forewarned, I could never have imagined how difficult, painful, or LONG this sifting process would be.  Many times I have thought it was over.  But here I am.  Still.  So, as I've said before, if it will sift the pride and junk out of me, then please, Lord, let it be.  I'm just sorry to those of you that I have tried to pull into the sieve with me.  You are all mighty good friends to hang with me through this process.

If any of you want to read the entire post, here's the link:

Ladies, it is SO worth the time.  I hope it encourages you today.

And, yes, for those of you who read it, I will be taking on her assignment.  Who will join me?  

Let's "get up and fight!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sad Times, Fun Times

Life is full of beginnings and endings.  This summer will bring an end to one chapter of my life.

I have been teaching a women's Bible study class for about four years.  This August will mark the end of the Naomi class.  (Pause to wipe a tear.)  I love teaching.  Although I'm scared to death of teaching (that responsibility thing I've referenced before from James 3 makes the task a bit daunting), I still love it.  Teaching has taught me more than just about anything I've ever done.  I really have to dig deep if I'm going to be prepared to take a lesson to those Naomi ladies, most of which are older than me and have walked with Christ at least a few years more than me.  They have kept me on my toes.  

But it's time to let go.  Although I am having a hard time articulating the reasons right now (I have written and deleted several paragraphs), I am sure this is the right decision.

The really wonderful part of this is the way God has worked it all out.  He has raised up two other teachers and two other classes to take the place of one class.  There will now be a group for older women (30's-50's) and one for younger women (20's).  Honestly, I think by separating the age groups, there will be more room for growth.  

An ending and new beginnings.  It will be good.  He is always working.

And now on to fun times!

The last two weekends have found us in far-away places.  First, we went on a mini-vacy with the girls' Pop and Ne-ne.  I'll share the few pics I have.  My man is still hoarding most of them in his phone.  He has the better camera on his phone so he takes most of the pics; the problem with this is that we rarely remember to get them onto our computer.  So, here's what I've got.

This was taken at the hotel before we headed out on our long walk to the zoo.  
Shiny, happy people in the morn!

And here they are the next day on the carousel. 
Shiny, happy people going round.

The next weekend, we went to visit my family. 
Two back to back trips exhausted these little girls.

When we came home, we found some potatoes in our garden.  Yah!!!  Given the drought-like conditions we've been experiencing, I'm thankful that we've gotten anything from our garden this year.  So far, we've harvested strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, and corn.  Wow!  A trip to the farmer's market provided lots more yummy goodness.  And this is why I love summer.

Back home, we fell back into our normal routine:  books, Bible stories, and prayers before bedtime.
And this is one of the many reasons I love my man so much.
He's such a good daddy.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Where has all the modesty gone?

Ok, so here I go.  FINALLY.

Remember me saying recently that I was in a conundrum?  ...that I had written several posts over the last few weeks and not "published" them because I knew that they contained some sensitive subject matter?  Remember?  Though things may get a little crazy in here, I have finally worked up the courage to post this.  I am now prepared for whatever any of you may say, thanks to Jami Nato and her posts about "the problem with looking sexy" part one and part dos.  (Both are seriously worth the read.)  Thank you, Jami!  Moreover, believing my girls may read these posts someday lends me more confidence to speak my heart.

Those of you who read this blog are either brave or crazy; I'm not sure which.  But I'm glad to have you along!  Here we go!


I recently saw some pictures on a social network sight that made me want to cry:  a beautiful young lady had posted pictures of herself in a string bikini.  At first glance, I thought she was wearing underwear!  I couldn't help myself; I sent her a message that, in essence, said this:

You're a beautiful young lady--inside and out!  Lock that beauty up as the treasure that it is for your future husband.  I'm being bold because I didn't have anyone to tell me this when I was your age and I wish I had.  I paid far too high a price to learn that modesty is a beautiful thing and I want to keep anyone I can from experiencing that same pain.  Love you, lady.

"You are a garden locked up, my sister..."  
Song of Songs 4:12

That's the super-abbreviated paraphrased version.  (See, I can be short when I WANT to.)  Perhaps I am crazy to be so out-spoken, but I so desperately wish I could have avoided the problems I created for myself.  Maybe if people had spoken to me more frequently and honestly about the importance of modesty when I was in high school it would have helped.  Maybe.  Maybe if I'd heard it more, I would have thought twice about some of the things I bikinis, Daisy Duke shorts, and--I hate to admit this--one of my prom dresses was even from Victoria's Secret and made of spandex!  Okay?  Although I was well aware of why I was doing it (to attract boys, of course!) I really had no idea WHAT I was doing (flaunting my God-given treasure around for all to see, tempting them to take it).  Moreover, I was on a slippery slope.  By wearing those things in high school, I was taking steps towards even more provocative and immodest clothing in college.  

It is so easy in our culture to do things without realizing their implications.  Especially when it comes to dressing ourselves.  Our culture is obsessed with seeing and showing skin and curves.  It is so common to see scantily-dressed women that I think we are becoming numb to it.  Bikinis are normal...short shorts and clothes...shirts that are cut so low we are constantly having to adjust ourselves so we don't fall out.  We forget that our bodies are treasures.  And, in our ignorance, we are unwittingly flaunting our treasure before far too many people.  What we should only be disclosing in the intimacy of our own homes we have begun exposing to the entire world.  What should be a treat for our spouses has become a common sight for all humanity.

I'm so disturbed by the common culture when it comes to our lack of modesty that I sometimes want to swing the opposite way.  I once saw an Amish family at a water park, getting into the water with their dresses on and I was enamored.  I felt convicted about the amount of skin I was willing to show.  I have continued to hold their extreme modesty in high regard as I've learned more about their culture.  Their women wear long dresses to cover their legs and long sleeves to hide their arms.  They wear their hair tucked under a prayer cap because they believe that even the sight of it can cause a man to lust.  Their dress reminds me of the styles worn in the 1700's.  Women at that time could not show their ankles or wrists.  No wonder there was so much poetry written about women's necks!  Necks and hands were all that men were allowed to see until marriage.  And I can actually appreciate that.

Okay, I'm not saying we have to go to that extreme.  Though I'm certainly not opposed to swimming fully covered, I do own a bathing suit.  But think about this:  If we were all dressing modestly, then men would not see very much of a women before marriage.  Then a man would have nothing to compare his wife too.  To him, she would be the most beautiful woman on earth, because she would be the only woman he had ever really seen!  Isn't that a wonderful thought?  (You can flip that analogy for women.  If we were more careful about what we let our eyes see, then our own man would be the most handsome thing to us because he would be the ONLY thing to us!)

Why do we expose all the secrets of our garden?  Our "pomegranates, choice fruits, and all our finest spices" (Song of Songs 4) are unique to us and are designed to be experienced by only one man.  And I'm not just talking about sex.  I think that's part of the problem--it seems that many of us think if we abstain from sex then we've done our part in reserving ourselves for our husbands.  But I'm becoming more and more convinced that it runs far deeper than that.  I think we are to be reserving even the sight of our bodies for our husbands only.  That should be part of our gift to him.  We are a garden.  And may we be gardens, LOCKED UP, holding tightly to our key so that when we get married, we can hand the one, solitary key to our God-given man.

But, if you, like me, were not a locked up garden before marriage, it is not too late to lock the gate.  Perhaps some of us have even left the gate open since marriage, allowing other men to see things in our gardens that they shouldn't see (a little too much cleavage, a few too many curves hugged by tight-fitting clothes).  But we can certainly lock up at any time.  Your man already has the key.  So, let's just close the gate and not let anyone else in.  Not even for a peek!  Join me in throwing out the short shorts, short skirts, and low-cut shirts.  Turn in the string bikini for a more modest choice.  And give your man permission to stop you at the door.  I beg my man to tell me if I ever wear something that is the least bit revealing.  If it looks too good to him, chances are it will look too good to someone else...if you know what I mean.  And I am a bit ashamed to admit (though very grateful to him) that he has made me aware of some items that needed reconsideration.  So, see, I do not say this with judgment!  I say this as a sister that's in the trenches with you.

But just so we are clear, let me leave you with this one last thought:  inside your home, all things go, sister!  ALL. THINGS.  Unlock the gate and swing it wide open for your man; God had him in mind when He designed you!  Your beauty is a treasure for him to behold.


Song of Songs 4


1  How beautiful you are, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful...

You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; 
    you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. 
13 Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates 
    with choice fruits,
    with henna and nard,
14     nard and saffron,
    calamus and cinnamon, 
    with every kind of incense tree,
    with myrrh and aloes 
    and all the finest spices. 
15 You are[b] a garden fountain, 
    a well of flowing water
    streaming down from Lebanon.


16 Awake, north wind,
    and come, south wind!
Blow on my garden, 
    that its fragrance may spread everywhere.
Let my beloved come into his garden
    and taste its choice fruits.

I am Dying Here


Though this is not a death you can see, I am most certainly dying.  And I never even realized it until tonight.  It's amazing what a midnight wakefulness can do for you.

You know my large family that is spread all over the place sends emails constantly?  Recently they sent some emails back and forth about their chronic insomnia.  All my brothers and sisters seem to struggle with it, as well as my parents.  Not only did I lack sympathy, I also just thought they were crazy.  But since those emails went out, I have struggled with sleep.  Thanks guys.  And you're a little sympathy.

My man or I sit with our girls each night as they drift off to La-La Land.  Sometimes when I "sit" with them, I actually end up lying down for one of two reasons:  1) I'm too tired to sit and/or 2) baby girl talks me into lying down so she can play with my hair.  (Baby girl has a serious hair addiction.)  The problem with this is probably pretty obvious--I often fall asleep in their bed.  This really throws a kink in my evening plans.  I don't get to hang with my man for one thing.  Moreover, I have to get up at some point and get into my own bed.  And, because I didn't actually intend to fall asleep in the girls' bed, I am usually not ready for bed.  So, during the move back to my bed, I pit stop in the bathroom for my pre-bed ritual.  All of this serves to completely wake me up; so, by the time I crawl into my own bed, I'm wide awake.  Then I lay there for an hour or two.

So, tonight I'm laying there with attitude.  I'm completely frustrated that I didn't get to hang out with my man, yet again.  I'm frustrated with myself for getting into this routine of sitting with the girls (a routine which I now wonder how I'm going to break).  I'm frustrated that when I got up, I managed to wake baby girl, so I had to lay back down with her again.  I'm frustrated that I copped an attitude with my man when he asked me if I had a good nap.  And I'm frustrated that even though I am exhausted, I can not sleep!

So, I'm sorta praying, sorta thinking, when an epiphany starts to surface.  It didn't hit me all at once, but instead came into focus little by little, like turning the lens on an old camera (not the digital kind that does all the focusing for you).

First, I realized that I have way too much to be thankful for.  I have no reason at all to have such an attitude.  I have two beautiful, healthy girls.  And they want me around while they fall asleep.  Is that really so bad?  In a few years, I am going to be longing for these days.  I know it.

Secondly, a recurring theology came back to mind (I've mentioned it before in this post and this one), that I am in ministry here, serving Jesus by serving my family.  That I am truly to lay down my life for them.  That I am to pour out my life, pour it into them, so that they can live and grow.

I've always known that in order to even birth these girls, I had to die a little.  Physically.  For about four years, I was physically draining life out of myself and pouring into a sweet little body as she grew inside my belly or drank from my breast.  For four years, I was either prego or nursing.  And my body died a little.  Things changed.  I'm not as young and fresh as I was before having children.  Even my skin is different!  Life literally sucked right out of me.

I have ALWAYS known that if someone ever tried to break in my house, or if someone tried to hurt one of my children, or if a fire broke out, or if any other potential harm threatened one of my girls...I've always known, no, I KNOW that I would do anything, ANYTHING, to save and protect my babies.  Anything.  Including sacrificing my own life.  Dying so they could live.

But it never occurred to me until tonight that in order to raise these beauties the way God intends for me to raise them, I have to die now.  But this isn't a physical death; I have to die to my selfish desires.  Subconsciously I've known it, but tonight I finally got it:  This is death I am experiencing.

Let me say it again:  This is death we are experiencing.  You and me.  As we pour ourselves into our little ones, the pain we feel is death.  Death to self.  And I don't know about you, but no one really told me that this is what parenting would be like.  But then again no one really told me that parenting was a ministry.  And ministry is a pouring out of self into other people.  Ministry is loving God and serving Him by serving others.  It is exhausting sometimes.  It requires everything a person has to give.  And more.  We can't do it alone; we need God's strength.  Because we are dying.  And He is living through us.  When we are weak, He is strong.  Where we are dying, He is Living.

I can't believe I have lived 34 years and never fully comprehended the idea of dying to self.  I've read Bible verses all my life that taught this theology, but never fully comprehended it.  Here are a few of the verses that speak of dying to self.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship."  Romans 12:1

"Then He said to them all, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'"  Luke 9:23

"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."  Galatians 5:24

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me."  Galatians 2:20

I love that last one.  He love me and gave himself for me.  He died a physical death so that I may live.  I love my girls.  I will give myself for them.  I will die a spiritual death so that they may know Life in Jesus Christ.

But He did more than just die a physical death.  He gave up EVERYTHING for us.  His heavenly home, His prominence among the angels, and all that is due Him as the King He is.  He was mocked, scorned, despised, beaten, spit upon, and finally hung on a cross.

And I get an attitude when I lose a little sleep.  He gave up EVERYTHING.  I can give up sleep, and some relaxation time on the couch, and hobbies, and...  Die to self.  Die to selfish desires.

Knowing this and choosing this doesn't make the process of dying easier.  It is still death.  And death is painful.  Death is not fun.  And death isn't always quick.  This death is a slow, life-long process.  This death will take all I have, my whole life, and more.  It will require the strength of Christ.  But it will end with Christ.  Eternity with the One who gave all for me.

A verse I memorized eons ago came to mind tonight too as I realized the following:  Living gives us the opportunity to express our love and appreciation to Christ as we die to our selfish desires and live for Him.  But, we just have to hang with it a little while because this life is short and--oh glorious thought!--dying gives us the opportunity to be with Him.  Truly, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."  Philippians 1:21

And I have to share this one last passage from Philippians 2, The Message. This is a little bit of a reminder for me to keep on doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and to do it cheerfully.  And, believing that one day my girls might read all these thoughts I've blogged, this is a little bit of a message to them as well.  I want them to know that even if I am poured out as a drink offering on the altar of their faith, I rejoice.

12-13What I'm getting at, friends, is that you should simply keep on doing what you've done from the beginning. When I was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. Now that I'm separated from you, keep it up. Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God's energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
 14-16Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You'll be living proof that I didn't go to all this work for nothing.
 17-18Even if I am executed here and now, I'll rejoice in being an element in the offering of your faith that you make on Christ's altar, a part of your rejoicing. But turnabout's fair play—you must join me in my rejoicing. Whatever you do, don't feel sorry for me.