My Fab Fam

My Fab Fam
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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stagnant Perfection v/s Imperfect Progress

I went to a local women's retreat Friday night.  Some friends of mine who have their own radio show were the speakers.  I never get to hear their show because, well, it comes on at  We all know how mornings are for me.  The very last thing I can imagine is squeezing a radio show into the morning mix.  But a Friday night--that I can do!

One phrase they used particularly struck me:  "Imperfect Progress:  just keep moving forward."

The idea is that we (and I do mean me!) get so caught up in doing things perfectly and get so discouraged when we fail that we become defeated, unwilling to move forward.  Maybe we even hide away in our homes...or our churches.

The world is scary.  We've ventured out before, and now we're wounded.  We've stumbled.  And fallen.  And failed.  And we are weary of getting back up.  So we retreat.

I have sensed God telling me over and over to just keep moving.  "Through me, you are able.  Do it.  Don't be afraid.  Do not fear.  Don't shirk back in your insecurities."  (See this post.)

So I start moving, and trusting in His grace.  Eyes off me, focusing on Him.  Ignoring my inabilities as I recognize His "incomparably great power for us who believe" (Ephesians 1).

We might take two steps forward, stumble, and even take a step back as we fail sometimes, but we're still moving forward.  Imperfect progress--so much better than perfectly standing still.  Even if we look really good in our stagnation...and some of us do.

We may feel as dead as the Dead Sea (in which there is literally no life) and still manage to portray a picture of health.  But man, is that exhausting!

When our fear of failure paralyzes us, preventing us from moving forward in the ultimate adventure that awaits us in Christ, we just try to perfect standing still.  Stagnant Perfection.  Only...we aren't perfect.  So, while we're stagnantly maintaining a picture of perfection we are actually dying; we unwittingly make agreements with Satan...that we are an ugly mess...that we could not possibly be of use to God's Kingdom...that even our quiet time isn't working.  In the words of a "big sis" in Christ...

Break those [agreements] with Satan! You are a beautiful child of God and have somehow found yourself bound up in a mess of shame and comparison. Right where Satan wants you. Such spiritual attack that you don’t even recognize it. Satan works that way, so subtly, and we begin to believe the lies and accept them as truth. He even has convinced you that your quiet time isn’t working. Don’t give in, don’t let him win!  ...Keep this in mind, we compare our insides to everyone else’s outsides."

And in our pursuit of perfection, we forget about grace.  Eyes off God, focus on ourselves.  Occasional glances at everyone else to make sure we are at least looking as good as them.  Working so hard to "be better" while we play the dangerous game of Comparison.  We become our own savior.  And we are sorely inadequate to save.  So, death begins.  As Max Lucado says, "Attempts at 'self-salvation' guarantee nothing but exhaustion.  We scamper and scurry, trying to please God, collecting merit badges and brownie points, and scowling at anyone who questions our accomplishments.  The result?  The weariest people on earth.  We so fear failure that we create the image of perfection."

But we can't make any progress when we're working so hard to maintain that image of perfection.  We'll find that we haven't taken any steps towards Christ in a long time.  And if we stand still long enough, we will become bored to death!  Literally, death.  We move; we live.  We stop moving; we start dying.

"The thief comes to steal, kill [bring death], and destroy; I have come that you may have life, and have it ABUNDANTLY!"  --Jesus  (as recorded by John)

Satan hopes to steal our joy, kill our faith and our life, and destroy our witness.  He wants us to cower behind our insecurities, smiling outwardly as we inwardly waste away and lose heart.

While Jesus wants this to be true of us, "We do not lose heart! Though OUTWARDLY we are wasting away, INWARDLY we are being renewed day by day."  (2 Corinthians 4)

Break free!  Quit hiding behind insecurities and a facade of perfection!  And LIVE!!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Humility is, in my opinion, the very hardest lesson to learn this side of heaven.  Because, until someone is able to give me a convincing argument otherwise (and I eagerly welcome anyone's thoughts), I am convinced that pride is at the root of every sin.  I think, therefore, that there are few if any of us that couldn't use a reminder about humility, at least every now and then.  And as I am constantly "vacillating furiously between self-love and self-loathing," I am always in need of a good medicinal dose of humility.  And 2 Chronicles is where I can find it.

So many kings.  So many that started off doing what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but they became strong and proud, and fell.  Or they were swayed by those around them to turn away from God, and fell.  Or they would make alliances with other kings instead of relying on God for help, and fell.

Yesterday I read (again) chapter 26 about King Uzziah.  Once again this verse jumped out at me:  "His fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful" (v.15).  But this time I wasn't focusing only on the part that said "he was greatly helped," but the entire last phrase, "he was greatly helped UNTIL HE BECAME POWERFUL."  But why just until he became powerful?  The next verse explains:

16 But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. 

He became powerful.  Then he became proud.

I wonder if he even assumed equality with God.  He certainly felt the freedom to enter God's Holy Sanctuary.  And, considering that people of that time could not even enter an earthly king's throne room unless they were summoned, and even then they had to come crawling in with their nose to the floor, Uzziah assumed way too much freedom in approaching the King of all kings, the One Who had said only His chosen priests could enter His presence.  Uzziah's pride deceived him into thinking the rules didn't apply to him.

And I kind of wigged out.  And I decided then, I do not ever want to become powerful.  I struggle enough with pride now.  What in heaven's name would power do to me?  I prayed for extra humility.  For me.  For my man.  I prayed that we would never have very much power.  I prayed that God would sift out all blotches of pride in our hearts and guard us from all future pride pitfalls.  That we would rely on God for everything.  Every-thing.  That we would remain faithful all the days of our lives.  That our girls would remain faithful all their days.  I just tried to cover all the bases.  I was pretty much torn up after reading this chapter.  Especially given the fact that Uzziah started off so well!

But today.  Today I read chapter 27 about Jotham and I remembered something comforting:  power doesn't always lead to pride.  Shew!  I mean, this is obvious, right?  We see examples of Christians all around us with a huge sphere of influence and still they remain humble and faithful.  But that last chapter just disturbed me.  But then 27 followed on its heels to bring me some reassurance and comfort.  This is a nice, short chapter, the shortest chapter in 2 Chronicles--9 verses to be exact.  The description of Jotham, therefore, is far from detailed, but what this chapter does tell us is more than enough:

2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD...
6 Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God.

He walked steadfastly.  He kept His eyes on the ALMIGHTY even as he became mighty and all the luster of the world piled up right at his feet.


I received an email devotional from Max Lucado, in which he unwittingly gave a great summation of my last two days of reading:

"Our merits merit nothing."

Uzziah looked at his merits and became prideful, forgetting WHO enabled him to accomplish so much to begin with!  And he fell.  But Jotham kept his focus on God, steadfastly.  He didn't see his merits as his own but as God's, Who was working through him.  And he stood.

As a Godly man I know says, "Anything good comes from God; the mistakes are mine."  The merits are all by His grace.  The only things we can ever take credit for is the yucky stuff.  So, really, of what can we be proud?


Here's Max's devotional that so perfectly piggy-backed my readings.

I became a Christian about the same time I became a Boy Scout and made the assumption God grades on a merit system.  Good scouts move up.  Good people go to heaven.
I resolved to amass a multitude of spiritual badges.  I worked toward the day when God, amid falling confetti and dancing cherubim, would drape my badge-laden sash across my chest, welcome me into his eternal kingdom, where I could humbly display my badges for eternity.
But some thorny questions surfaced.  How good is good?  What is the permitted percentage of exaggeration?
Ephesians 2:8 says:  “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
Unearned.  A gift.  Our merits merit nothing.
Let grace happen, for heaven’s sake. Of all the things you must earn in life, God’s unending affection is not one of them.   You have it!


And for me, one of the most amazing aspects of Grace is the ability to enter the throne room of the Most High anytime, with our head lifted high.  He has summoned us.  We are welcome.  And our invitation has absolutely nothing to do with our merits, our power, or our fame (very thankful for that since I am greatly lacking in those areas), but it has everything to do with grace.  

AMAZING grace.


"Now I...praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven.  All His acts are just and true and He is able to humble the proud."  Daniel 4:37

"God opposes the proud but gives GRACE to the humble."  1 Peter 5:5


Attitude of Gratitude (Continued)

Thank you, Lord, for...

#8.  Grace.  That awesome ability to work through my inabilities.  Heavenly power.
#9.  You are the lifter of my head!  And I am so prone to walk around in guilt and shame.  But as you so clearly said to me this week, "Do not fear, I have redeemed you, you are mine."  You give me confidence, without pride.  Ahhh, God-confidence. 
#10.  Max Lucado!  (Oh, Max, you speak truth to me in a fresh way and with such a happy manner that God's light shines right into the dark places of my heart, bringing much-needed healing and joy.)  
#11.  And, I can't mention one of my favorite teachers without thanking God for the other...Beth Moore.  (Beth, I relate to you on so very many levels--except your insane Bible knowledge--that it gives me hope...hope that a crazy pit-dwelling sinner like me can be a fully-devoted follower of Christ this side of heaven.)
#12.  Examples in Scripture of what I DON'T want to be,  (Lord, may I please learn SOME lessons just by observing others?  Do I always have to learn them the hard way?  Let me learn this one--humility--before it's too late.) 
#13.  Time to sit by my man on the couch.  Even if we are each on our own computer, he's here.  At home.  With me.  He has a job that lets him be at home every night, even if only in time for bed.  He's not serving in the military.  He is not being unfaithful.  He's not even out with friends, participating in hobbies, or over-extending himself with a few of the million extra-curricular activities that threaten to destroy every home.  He can be here and he chooses to be here.
#14.  A good report on my big girl's ears yesterday.  She had her last tube taken out a few months ago.  And, for the last couple of weeks, she has been complaining of an ear ache.  I was fully prepared for bad news.  So, so, SO thankful there is no infection.
#15.  My MOPS group which provides some always-welcome "Momma time..."
#16.  ...Good food I didn't have to make...
#17.  ...And sweet encouragement from...
#18.  ...Our mentor mommas and...
#19.  ...Other mommas of preschoolers who are in the trenches right along with me.  (I realized those were all really separate reasons to be thankful.)  (Smile)
#20.  And our AWESOME MOPPETTS workers.  Our kids are in excellent hands; so, we can fully indulge in a little grown-up conversation and relaxation.
#21.  My big girl's AWESOME preschool, especially...
#22.  Ms. Donna.  (We love you!)
#23.  And their newly installed security system.  YAH!!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All memory work on hold

As some of you know, I have been attempting to put some Scripture to memory lately. I'm sad to report that my inconsistency is having very little effect. But I've decided that perhaps I have been focusing on the wrong things.

I've previously mentioned that I am in a full-fledged battle, a head-on war with my enemy. And Ann Voskamp reminded me (through today's blog post) that I have got to fight harder. So, tonight I sat all other Scriptures aside and felt like I should concentrate on this one.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. (Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV)

I share this for one reason and one reason only: accountability. By the end of October (or before) I will have this passage in my head and (I hope) in my heart. God willing.

Hold me to it.

This week has shown me I must increase my efforts. Prayers are greatly appreciated. I'm sending some up for you--that you, together with all the saints may know how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of Christ Jesus! To Him be all glory!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory

We sing this song a lot at our house.  Early mornings, as we all now know, are a little rough around here.  However, if I remember, I still push this song out of my mouth in the mornings, and before I know it, it's coming from my heart too.

Big girl sings along, but baby girl usually just watches us with a very serious look on her face, like she is above singing children's songs.  Above singing any songs.  Above learning anything by rote.  Above learning anything new.  In short, she just doesn't seem eager to learn, so I wonder if she's learning anything at all.  But then I get these glimpses of intellect that amaze me and I realize she is a little sponge.  She may not be trying to learn anything new, but her mind is absorbing the watery world around her because she is immersed in it and that is what sponges do.

So, today I took a nap with the girls.  We all slept for two hours.  The girls woke up first and came to my room to ask me when I was getting up.  I said, "In a minute," then I woke with a start.  Yes, in that order.  I thought it was morning and I had over-slept and I looked over in the bed to find that my man was already gone!  Impossible!  I would have heard him.  Heart beats slowed:  it's not morning.  But then, OH!  It's afternoon!  And how long did I sleep?  How late in the afternoon?!  Grabbed the phone.  4 o'clock.  We went down at 2.  Okay.  It's not as bad as I thought.  Have they been up long?  No, they just got up, they said.  Okay, I've not been an awful, negligent mommy.

But waking up in this whirlwind of adrenaline exhausted me.  I laid the phone down and relaxed back on the pillow for a minute.  I told the girls to potty in order to buy myself a few minutes to let my heart resume its normal pace.

And then Satan began.  Why doesn't he give me ten minutes of peace before he starts his attacks?  The guilty thoughts started, popping up in rapid succession.  No, not succession.  Popping up before the previous one had a chance to sit down...

I shouldn't have taken a what I am I going to fix for supper...I don't have anything that cooks quickly...the house is a mess...I should have done laundry...I have all those flowers to plant...why am I always so tired...the joy of the Lord is my strength...but I'm legitimately tired...I haven't had quiet time today...ugh...I should have gotten up earlier this morning to have my quiet least then I could justify a man would probably like a nap...I hope he doesn't walk in right now and find me in bed at 4 o'clock...I've gotta get up...I need quiet time...I need to have an attitude of gratitude...I need counseling...

...would you all just SIT DOWN!!!!!!!

I started praying.  And, as I started praying, I realized, once again, that Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor.  As He was working me through my guilt list, I heard baby girl "reading" books in the hallway.  Even with her complete lack of interest in any organized learning activities, she still has an excellent imagination.  She will sit down with books and make up pretty amazing stories.

I knew from the bits and pieces I was hearing she was looking at a butterfly book that had been laying in the hallway all day, along with various other articles.  Then I heard, "The butterfly flaps its wings and gives God the glory, glory, glory.  Rise and Shine..."

And I was grateful.  Grateful that something good had been absorbed by her spongy little brain.  Grateful for God's reassurance that something good had come from me.  Grateful to God for using baby girl to unwittingly remind me to rise and shine and give God the glory.  And I rose.  Those thoughts sat down and I stood up.

Me.  Standing.  That is nothing short of a miracle.  In this overwhelming situation we find ourselves in, called life, we stand.  And every time we do, we are to give God the glory for getting us on our feet and holding us upright.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  But THROUGH Him we can do all things!  And we stand.

And I was reminded of Beth Moore's blog I had just read earlier today...

I pray you are standing strong with the Shield of Faith in one hand and the Sword of the Spirit in the other.  Isaiah 7:9b (NIV) has been on my radar often lately:
If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.
Then, Romans 14:4 right on top of it:  To his own master he stands or falls.  And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Amen to that.
And this phrase out of Ephesians 6:13 – STAND YOUR GROUND.
Keeping our faith in the driver’s seat of our faithfulness, Christ’s own Spirit breathing through us, we CAN do this in His great Name. May He make Himself so obvious to us today. Then may He make Himself so obvious to someone else through us today.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

Here are some really cool things that I am thankful for today...

1)  Opportunities to teach even though I've temporarily given up full-time teaching.

I am helping Mrs. Sally on Sunday mornings.  She teaches 5th and 6th grade and needed one more helper.  It is a perfect fit for all of us.  Her current helper will be leaving in a few weeks to winter in Florida.  Although Sally wants to do the majority of the teaching, she still needs someone who is available to sub when she's not there.  She also gets there early but has to leave early because she sings in the choir.  I, on the other hand, am always late, but I can stay after class to clean up since she has to rush off.  We've decided we'll be a perfect team!  =)

Our AWANA leader has asked for a different adult to lead Council Time each Sunday night; tonight I get to share a short lesson with the kiddos.  Yah!  I prepared the lesson yesterday, "Cleaning the Temple."  The lesson is based on 2 Chronicles 29 where Hezekiah purifies the temple.  I am going to talk about how the temple that Solomon built was where God's presence dwelled during those days and ask the kids where His presence lives today.  I'm hoping someone will say, "In us!"  Then we're going to talk about what types of things need to be cleaned out of our temple:  pride, unforgiveness (yes, spellcheck!  I say that's a word!), selfishness, lying, etc.  I'm going to let the kids help me come up with the list and talk about how we clean those things out of our temple--through prayer, and being in the word, worshiping, and even seeking help from other Christians when we need to.

2)  My pastor's sermon this morning.

Get this.  Dr. Joe's sermon was on revival, drawn from 2 Chronicles 7:14:  "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land."  And a large part of the sermon was based on the story of Josiah cleaning out the temple (also in 2 Chronicles), and how this parallels each of us cleaning out our temples.  I mean, is that not CRAZY?  I love when God reiterates the same lesson to me, over and over.  Maybe I'll get this one.

3)  An over-all awesome time with my church family.

From Mrs. Sally's lesson to the fifth and sixth graders' participation and comments; from the testimony of one of our deacons to the video about all things being possible with God; from the music to the sermon; from the extended prayer time to the salvation of one little girl; it was good.

4)  A gift card.

My sister says we (me, my man, and our girls) get more gift cards than anyone she knows.  I think she may be right.  We ate lunch today on a gift card.  Thankful for God's generosity.

5)  Fall.

Two days ago officially marked the beginning of fall.  And it couldn't feel anymore like fall than it has these past few days.  I love this weather!

My man and I worked on the house yesterday--caulking windows, hanging more trim, and fixing other miscellaneous things here and there--while our girls napped and then joined us outside to play.  The girls invited a little neighbor over to play that they had never played with before.  We stayed out late and soaked up the warm sunshine.

And we came right back out again today.  Big girl is coloring quietly beside me as I type.  Or maybe she's watching the hummingbirds.

And I'm watching her.

I absolutely love fall.

Today, I choose joy.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Gratitude to Replace the Comparisons, the Guilt, the Doubt

The truth about my day:  I made scones and felt really proud and wanted to be like all my domesticated friends who home-school or volunteer three days a week at their child's school, make freezer meals so they never have to worry about feeding their families frozen processed pizza, constantly make crafts and scrapbook, have a home business or work outside the home, have their kids in 15 extra-curricular activities, have a leadership role in some type of ministry (or two...or three), and paint, decorate, or even make their own fabulous furniture and then tell us all about it on Facebook.  And, yes, that was an intentional run-on sentence!  Because that is what other people's lives look like to me on occasions.  On occasions like today when I am really struggling with the comparison game.  Other people can look like one huge, ongoing, never-ending, run-on sentence, with so much crammed into them that I wonder how they even find the time to breathe!  And I think, "What's wrong with me?  I don't even work, or home-school, or volunteer; I'm not in the Women's Club and my kids aren't in soccer, basketball, tee ball, dance or gymnastics.  We eat out sometimes and some days (like today) I just have popcorn for lunch."  So, I wanted to brag about how Holly-Homemaker-ish I felt and then follow that up with some false humility by claiming, "But really this is the only time-consuming thing I ever make.  Ever."  Pride.  It's an ugly thing.

Why did I want to brag about making scones?  Because making something that requires a pastry cutter makes me feel like a foodie (which seems to be respected in today's society, and which I am not), making anything that requires more than one bowl and one pot or pan makes me feel like Queen of the kitchen, and making scones is about the only productive thing I've done today.  I may have dried the same load of clothes three times because I left them in the dryer overnight to get all wrinkly, then I was talking on the phone this morning when the dryer shut off for the second time so I didn't get to hang them up immediately, and now they are fluffing again.  (, I do not hear the dryer anymore.  Hmmm, I see a fourth fluff in their future.  And a ridiculous electric bill in mine.  Wasted electricity.  Bad for the environment!  Wasted money.  Bad for me!  No guilt, no guilt, no guilt...)

I may have talked on the phone to a friend so long that I didn't feed my kids breakfast until 10.  I may have swept the kitchen floor with the intentions of mopping, but then I may have gotten sidetracked by my free Shutterfly photo book that came in the mail.  I may even still need a shower.  This is all hypothetical, of course.

But, by golly, I made scones!  And I wanted the world to know it!

Because I was feeling insecure about myself.  I was comparing myself to others, even thought we've already established that what we see in others is probably a far cry from their day-in, day-out reality.  Those silly comparison games crept in again.  Looking around instead of looking up.

And, when I look at my morning rationally, I realize how silly I am being.  I had not talked to said friend in MONTHS; so we were long over-due for some chat time.  That was NOT wasted time.  I also helped my man by proofing/editing something he had written, did some dishes, took out the trash, had some moments with my girlies...  You get the picture.  I did do some things today.  But that is the danger in comparisons.  We get so caught up in seeing if we are measuring up to others that we are unable to see our own accomplishments, or we get so bogged down in guilt that we are unable to recognize our legitimate weaknesses.

I have started occasionally reading Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience.  I like her.  I really do.  But she is also somewhat depressing to me.  I get a little overwhelmed when I read her blog.  And see all her serene pictures of fresh flowers arrangements scattered around her house.  While my garden produces weeds and black widow spiders and unwanted rose moss sprouts from the grout in my brick patio.  But I try.  I try to have a garden.  That must count for something.  And the wild rose moss is really beautiful.  Beauty right in the middle of the weeds.

Then there are the pictures of her kids swinging in hammocks.  And days playing on the beach.  And their life seems so romantic and beautiful and "holy."  And I have to remind myself of the great fun that was had last night biking, sliding, and swinging, tickling, and chasing, and spinning round and round until we stumble through the yard like we stumble through life.  As we staggered, drunk on life, we laughed in pure joy.  (May it be so as we stumble through life.  Oh, sweet Jesus, may my girls just be drunk with You, full to the brim, with joy pouring over!)

And then there are her children's lunches, packed with sandwiches that are wrapped in Scripture.  And I cling to that ONE time that I made cute little baggies of Goldfish and dried fruit, clipped to look like butterflies.  And I have to remind myself, this isn't life all the time; she admits there have been days she's yelled and hollered over 'tossed socks and abandoned bowls and slammed doors and flipped up toilet seats.'  We all live in a fallen world, and sometimes we fall.  All of us.  We are not always working with intentionality.  (Yes, spell check, in my world that's a word.)  Not always living on purpose.  Not always asking ourselves, "Is this eternally significant?"

And I read all about her riding around in the tractor with her husband while they hold hands and talk about their life.  I get a little sick in my gut thinking, "Why don't my man and I hold hands more often?  Do we not love each other as much as we should?"

Then I recall conversations I've had with my man, those sweet raw moments when we stay up late, chatting on the couch, sharing what's hidden inside our heads and hearts.  I think about those Sunday mornings when he puts his arm around me in church and I feel loved and happy and grateful.  I think about all those nights when my day-time composure begins to unravel during our evening routine, loosening bit by bit as we move dizzily through homework, supper, clean-up, baths, brushing teeth, books, Bible stories...until finally tumbling into bed, a heap of shredded pieces, and my man holds us all together in his arms, dissolving my stress with his embrace and praying for rest to make us whole again.

My man is for me.  My girls are for me.  This house is for me.  This neighborhood is for me.  This town is for me.  This light schedule of preschool, naps, and church is for me.  To renew me.  To shape me.  To make me.  My man's job is for him.  We are for him.  We are for each other.  Our church is for us and we are for it.  Our God is for us.  And we are for Him.  Made for Him and by Him.  To be His glorious inheritance while He is our portion.

At this time, this is where we are supposed to be.  And I remember what I need to get through the battles of this day.  Satan strives to trip me, and though I may stagger, by His Grace I will not fall.  Not today, because I choose, I MUST choose...

An Attitude of Gratitude.

Thank you, Lord, for directing my paths.  For bringing me to this place.  Here.  Today.  A slower-paced life full of deep breaths.  Opportunities for spinning ourselves into fits of laughter.  A man who catches me when I've let myself spin out of control.  Two girls who give me undeserved love and teach me more about unconditional love than anyone or anything else on this planet ever could.  You, my God, are good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just Perpetually Tired

Don't miss the update at the bottom of this post.

Is there anyone else out there that is just tired?  I don't mean that I feel tired every once and a while.  I mean I am constantly tired.  Like at-any-moment-I-could-crawl-in-bed-and-go-to-sleep tired.

I think about the verse, "Come to me all you who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest" (Mt 11:28).  I quote it inside my head constantly, like saying it will somehow energize me for the tasks ahead.  It doesn't.

I do take naps sometimes.  It doesn't help.  I'm still tired.  Always tired.

I get up, have my quiet time, have two cups of coffee, start laundry, fix breakfast, get big girl off to school, and I'm tired.  After dropping big girl off, baby girl and I come home and play games like "Hungry, Hungry Hippos," and "Operation."  We read books.  We play educational games on the computer.  We play with animals and dolls and have tea parties.  And we play doctor; baby girl takes my temperature, gives me "medicine," and applies bandages while I lay in the floor.  Because I'm tired. We go to pick up big girl, come home, eat lunch, change into PJ's, and put baby girl to bed.  I make big girl lay down too, although she doesn't usually go to sleep.  And I sit there on the foot of the bed and catch up on emails and FB.  And I'm thankful that baby girl wants her momma nearby while she falls asleep.  It gives me a much-desired excuse to sit down again.  Because I'm tired.

When baby girl is asleep and big girl is squared away in the play room with crayons, paper, and toys to occupy her during her sister's nap, I head to the laundry room.  And I'm pondering...

"Why am I so tired?  I seek God in the morning...I pray throughout my day...Granted, it's not the "praying without ceasing" relationship we once had, but I believe we'll get there again...and I keep plugging on even when all I really want to do is sit.  So, WHY AM I SO TIRED?"

And I wasn't really even saying it to God, as much as I was just thinking it to myself, but God, Who knows my every thought, gently spoke this over me:  The joy of the Lord is my strength.

The JOY!  I'm missing the joy!  And therefore, I'm missing the strength!  I started singing the words...

The jo-oy of the Lo-o-o-rd is my strength;
The jo-oy of the Lo-o-o-rd is my strength;
The jo-oy of the Lo-o-o-rd is my strength;
The jo-oy of the Lo-rd is my strength!

Amazing the immediate boost of energy it gave me!  Sad to think the answer was within my reach all along and I've been missing it.

Reminded me of a blog post I read recently by Ann Voscamp while resting my tired body on the foot of the bed as baby girl drifted off.  The post is irrelevant as the thing that really struck me on her blog was her "One Thousand Gifts" list.  At the end of the post, she added a few items to her list of 1,000 blessings from God for which she was thankful to Him.  Only she has been creating this list for so long that she is way beyond 1,000; her last item was numbered 4,382.

And, as I stood there singing, realizing I had been missing the joy, and wondering how I could continuously experience it, I remembered the attitude of gratitude, and thought I'd join in the 1,000 gifts list.  So, I'll start now...

#1.  The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, because they are three-in-one, and as One, they are my all-in-all.
#2.  Salvation, because it is the start of everything beyond the Trinity.
#3.  My man, because he is my earthly lord, and I couldn't ask for a better one as he is an incredible example of how Jesus loves even with all my junk; he is my intercessor, my encourager (although spell-check does not like that word, he is!), my comforter, my most adamant defender, and so much more; but most of all he is my very best friend.
#4.  My big girl, because she is simply beautiful; she's generous, and honest, and tender-hearted, and she challenges me as she reflects my image and she changes me as she loves me and constantly reminds me of God's simple truths.
#5.  My baby girl, because she too is beautiful, and honest (about what she sees and perceives, not necessarily about what she does), and loving, and strong-willed, and she gives great hugs and makes me laugh and keeps pushing me to live the words I profess because she learns solely by example; that old saying, "Do as I say and not as I do," holds absolutely no weight with her.
#6.  Today.  For "this is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it."
#7.  The realization that the joy of the Lord is my strength, and strength is within my grasp.

Thank you, Jesus.

December update:
Thought I should let you mommas know...I recently visited my doctor who ordered blood work which gave some insight to my perpetual tiredness:  low iron.  If you are perpetually tired, see your doc!  There may be a physical reason!  Rest on, sisters.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Today I'm Alive

I don't always live.  I always exist, but I don't always live.  Today I'm alive.

I woke up before my alarm went off (which was set for 6).  I made coffee, folded clothes, and had some quiet time.  Not nearly as much as I would have liked since my big girl woke up before I even started the coffee.  I carried her back to my bed to lay down with daddy, but then baby girl woke up, and all three emerged a few minutes later.  But God gave me a few minutes.  (And I prayed for those of you that share my waking-up struggle.)

For the first time in my life I got all three of us ready and out the door before 8:30 without arguments, without constantly repeating orders, and without the usual crazy chaos in my head.

After dropping big girl at preschool, baby girl and I went to church for our first MOPS meeting of the year.  I was able to help set-up and meet some new mommas before the meeting even got started.  I'm usually stumbling in 30 minutes late, still nursing my first cup of coffee, slipping into the back of the room after the meeting is in full swing, and slipping out again without really getting to talk to anyone.

Our mentor mom shared a devotional thought this morning, as usual.  The unusual part is that she pointed right at me when she read the Scripture.  She pointed right at me and said, "Do not fear, I have redeemed you, you are mine."  (Isaiah 43:1)  Not once did she do this, but over and over.


When I picked up big girl from school, she asked if we could eat lunch with somebody.  She wanted to invite someone to eat at our house.  I did a mental check of my refrigerator and told her that we didn't have anything to feed anyone.  Then, I realized she would think we didn't have any food; so, I clarified:  we didn't have anything suitable to offer anyone.  She argued with me in her very mature, matter-of-fact way, essentially reminding me that this was an invalid excuse, until she convinced me that she was right.

So, forgetting the mess that my house was in, we called our friend we've lovingly dubbed "Granny" to come eat cheese and crackers.  I'm laughing even as I type that.  Kids will keep you humble, all while reminding you of what's really important in life.  And I say that even as a person who doesn't own a nice set of China dishes.  I still have ideals of what hospitality should look like, and today it looked nothing like the images in my head.

Do not fear (what other people will think of you).  I have redeemed you.  You are mine.  You are everything you need to be.  You are learning what is most important.  Relationship.

My girls were up late last night (By no fault of my own, mind you!  Wait, is that sarcasm I smell?) and back up early this morning; so, my plan was to get them down for an early nap.  But, life was beckoning and the weather was perfect for living.  We ate outside, the girls played very briefly on their swing set, and they didn't get in bed until almost 3.

Windows open, flies swarming the house, distant hammering on a neighbor's new roof, a yard that desperately needs to be mowed, a garden that needs to be weeded, dishes on the table, and laundry piled high, and I'm alive.

Songs and verses knock around in my head...

From my quiet time this morning..."He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, but not wholeheartedly."  (2 Chronicles 25:2).  I couldn't get past that verse.  I read the rest of the chapter then came back to that verse and read it over and over again.  I had to admit that was me. " Not wholeheartedly."  I want my days to be lived for Him.  Because He has set me free.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set [me] free," so I do not want to be burdened by another yoke of slavery.  Guilt.  Fear.  Do not fear.  Ungratefulness.  Insecurity.  Anger.  Selfishness.

"Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, if ANYTHING is excellent or praiseworthy, think about THESE things."  Attitude of Gratitude.

What Christ did for me on the cross.  You are mine.  What Christ is doing for me today.  I have redeemed you.  Am still redeeming you.  I have got to remember to be thankful.  Thankfulness energizes.  A merry heart does good like a medicine. I'm sick.  Pessimistic.  Guilt-ridden.  Selfish.  I need medicine.  And God's been telling me it's gratitude.

I've become fear-driven.  Do not fear.  Life is within my reach and I've been too afraid to live it.  It can be as simple as spiders.  Wasps.  Allergic reactions.  It can be as complex as losing a loved one.  Uncertainty of God's plan.

Paralyzed.  Not able, or not willing, to move forward.  Do not fear. 

Today, I received some confirmation about a long-time question I've been posing to God.  Should I do this?  Or should I do that?

Do something.  But do not fear.

I have sat on a decision because I so desperately wanted God's will that I was afraid I would do the wrong thing.  Do not fear.  I have prayed.  I have stalled.  I have talked it to death.  I have explored different options.  But I haven't moved.  Today I felt God confirming for the second time:  do it.  Just do it.  There's a need.  Fill it.  Don't pray about it.  Don't ask Me to find someone to fill it.  Don't talk to others about who is going to do it.  DO.  IT.  There's a need.  Through me, you are able.  Do it.  Don't be afraid.  Do not fear.  Don't shirk back in your insecurities.  Don't worry about how it will all pan out.  Don't look so far into the future that you forget about today.  Do it.

I get it, Lord.  I'm doing it.

Satan sends shackles.  You set me free.  Satan wants me to drop my head in shame.  You are the lifter of my head.  Satan wants me to cower.  You bring me out into a spacious place (Ps. 18).  Satan comes to steal my hope, kill my joy (he is the ultimate kill-joy), and destroy my life.  You come to give life, and give it most abundantly.  Satan comes to plunder.  You come to restore all He took and more.

I'm tired of bondage.  I'm tired of crouching.  I'm tired of fighting.  But I know now that I've been doing too much of the fighting.  Focusing too much on the enemy.  The battle is Yours, You say.  I'll just look to You, and let you do the fighting for me.

You've shown me that whatever I focus on becomes my god.  I've been focusing on myself.  My inabilities.  My inadequacies.   By Your grace (unfathomable ability to do what I couldn't otherwise do), I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from where my help comes.  I will look to You.  I will focus on You.  Your Word.  By constant encounters and memorization.  And I will move.  I will do.  Do not fear.

The battle is His.  And, by His strength, I pray I am done.  Done fighting.  Done surviving.  And ready for full-blown life!

Today He sets before me life and death.  "Choose life, so you may live," He says.  Today I choose life.  Today I'm alive.  Tomorrow, I must choose again.  Do not fear.

15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lordyour God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 30


I'm alive when I was locked inside my head 
When I was lost in a maze of doubt 
You called my name and woke me up 
You called my name and led me out

And when I chased one more mirage 
‘Til I was tired and parched again 
You gave me one more cup to fill 
And sent me one more desert rain 

I'm alive 
I'm on fire 
And my spirit burns with desire 
You set me alight
And with no way to hold it inside 
I wanted to thank You 

Thank You 
Thank You 

I was so sure of all I knew 
I knew the world was mine to claim 
I had directions printed out 
And then I hit a wall of shame 
Out there, alone, and left to die 
Cut off from You, my sole supply 
You shed Your tears for me, and then 
You took my hand and raised me high

--Peter Furler

(Forgive me for never knowing the references to the Scriptures I quote.  I know they're in there and, given a concordance OR enough time on my own, I could find them.  But in the rush of getting a blog post typed out before my girls wake, I just quote 'em and go.  Roll on.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

You have cat to be kitten meow!

I had to have that saying explained to me tonight.  And it struck me so funny that I just had to use it.  It doesn't really fit my post at all, other than to say that I will try to always be real witcha so that you never have to say, "You have cat to be kitten me(ow)!"  Do you get it?  Yeah, I'm sure most of you are a little quicker on the up-take than I am.  Anywho...

Yikes!  Where did the last week go?  Before I let another week get away from me, I'll catch you up on life here.  It's not been real pretty.  But let's keep it real anyway.  I may post one day about my awesome quiet time, and come back the next day telling you about my mood swings.  That's life.  Don't ever let me tell you otherwise.  You all just keep me honest.  K?

So, I got to go on a little trip with my man this week.  He had a work conference on Tuesday and Wednesday, and my momma was kind enough to come stay with my girls so I could get away.  And I really needed a get-away, as was evidenced by my behavior on Monday.  We left Monday night; so, I had all day to get ready.  But I procrastinated.  Instead of knocking out my immediate to-do list over the weekend, I did things like plant 100 irises and work on our guest room.

But, before I go on, can I just show you the small step we made in converting our old nursery into a guest room/play room?  We moved baby girl out of the nursery and in with her sister about a year ago, and we were left with this:

Basically, it was room-turned-closet.  Who hasn't had one of these at one time or another?  But a year of that was almost more than I could take.  So, my man built some boxes for under the bed that could contain all the chaos, and now we have this:

One of these days, one of you is going to tire of my fuzzy pictures and send me a nice camera.  Or, better yet, a newer Iphone that has the awesome camera on it.  Or maybe I'll just inherit my man's phone when he does his inevitable technology upgrade, because all the men I know think they need the newest thing.  Until then, please forgive the poor quality of my old Iphone snapshots.

The room, even in its unfinished state, might look more peaceful and orderly, but creating this little bit of peace wreaked havoc in my spirit.  Because I did this over the weekend, I had so much to do on Monday for the trip that I stressed and didn't even get to enjoy the time I had to visit with my mom and sister (who also came up to help out for the day).  Perhaps some day I'll learn to prioritize (i.e., don't rearrange a room the night before you go on a trip).  And I'll get a grip on time.  My man tells me I have no concept of time, and he's right.  I'm perpetually late because I'm always thinking I have time to do more than I really have time to do!

But then there was Tuesday.  My man had meetings from 8 until 6.  I took my time getting up and going.  I had a leisurely brunch in the hotel restaurant and spent the rest of the day holed up in the room reading.  I started and finished the book my sister gave me to read.  My man and I went out for dinner.  Then went back to the hotel...for more reading.  Wednesday was pretty much the same, except he was finished by two, and I lost the room at eleven, so I read sitting in the truck in the parking lot, and I was starting to feel sickly.  (In case you're wondering why I didn't go to Starbucks and read, I planned to!  But I thought I would be within walking distance of a Starbucks.  I mean they are on every corner in most big cities.  But I found myself in a desolate part of town, and I wasn't about to drive my man's huge work truck anywhere.  No, thank you.)

So, we headed home Wednesday afternoon.  And, after stressing the importance of consistent bedtimes and nap times to my mom, and having had plenty of rest myself, you would think that I would come home rested and ready to tackle the bedtime routine that lies ahead of me.  But, no.  We approached the whole evening with a very lax attitude and time kept on ticking at its normal pace.  Before I knew it, it was bedtime and big girl was still doing homework.  My kids went to bed later the night I got home than they did either night my mom kept them.  At least that's what she tells me.  (Just kidding, mom.)

No alarm this morning.  I'm not really sure what I was thinking.  The truth is, I wasn't thinking.  My alarm is just always on, but I had turned it off when we were out of town and forgot to turn it back on.  So, my man and I woke up 30 minutes before big girl was supposed to be at preschool.  Good thing it was pajama day!  We had a quick breakfast of cereal, toast, and banana, brushed her teeth and hair, and ran out the door.

I was still sickly this morning.  So, when we got back from dropping big girl at school, I cleaned up breakfast then sat in the floor with baby girl to drink coffee and pretend to play so I could actually be lazy.  Baby girl caught on.  She said, "I want you to play with me."  I said, "I'm sitting right here," as in, "I"m sitting right beside you, hanging with you while you play."  She said, "But I want you to PLAY with me."  I finally just told her that I wasn't feeling up to playing.  She wasn't either.  She had green nose gunk and was pretty irritable.  She eventually crawled up next to me and started playing with my hair and sucking her fingers--her consolation when she's tired, bored, or doesn't feel well.  I asked if she wanted to go lay down with me and she said yes.  We were back in bed by 9:30 and stayed there until it was time to go back and get big girl.  And baby girl still took a nap after lunch.  Sickly, I tell ya.

And, if you're a critical reader, you probably noticed that there was no mention of a shower in all that madness this morning.  That would be because there was no shower for this momma today.  And I'm not "kitten" you.  Just real life here, folks.

And, that is why you all haven't heard from me in a while.  Life's been happening.  It might not always be pretty (and it might not even smell good on days like today) but it's still good.  And tomorrow's a new day.  So, here's hoping for some quiet time, a stress-free morning, clear noses, a shower, and, while I'm at it, let's throw in some productivity...

...And happy weekends for everyone!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Banana Bread and Charlotte

I love ooey, gooey banana bread.  I grew up eating banana bread made with shortening.  It was yummy, but we all know that we are not supposed to eat shortening anymore.  So, I've been on the hunt for a yummy, yet healthy (or healthier), banana bread recipe.  I've found one!  I've found MORE THAN ONE!  Here's one from



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan.
Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.
Spread slices with honey or serve with ice cream

I especially liked the last sentence.  But this banana bread's so good, you don't need any toppings.

And here's another one from


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

You can't go wrong with either recipe.  Promise!

And, now let me tell you about Charlotte...

We watched the good ol' version of Charlotte's Web recently.  My poor tenderhearted big girl started getting teary-eyed when Charlotte was about to die.  She turned and looked at me with a half-smile on her face and eyes full of tears.  It was as if she either a) knew Charlotte wasn't real and therefore, wasn't really dying, and therefore tears were unnecessary, or b) was a bit surprised and embarrassed by this sudden emotion prompted by a movie.  I immediately felt tears spring into my eyes and said, "Oh, baby girl, come here!"  She came and crawled in my lap and we laugh-cried together as Charlotte died.  I realize that sounds strange; but, while we were sad at Charlotte's death, we still felt a bit silly crying over a spider that's not even real.  Laugh-cry.

After the movie was over, I said, "You get that from your momma. I cry at movies all the time."  And as we were chatting, my sweet girl just began to sob.  I held her and rocked her as her baby sister sat beside us, sucking her fingers, looking on quizzically.  It was the perfect segway into "the talk" about compassion.  I asked her if she knew why she was crying.  She shook her head and the crying subsided to deep breaths and lots of nose blowing as I explained that she had a tender heart and that God could use that to help others.  We talked about feeling bad for someone when they are sad or hurting.  And we talked about trying to help people that we know are hurting.  I could not believe how perfectly God orchestrated an opportunity for me to give her "the talk."  She listened while I rattled on, but as soon as I was done, she started crying again.  She cried, off and on, for almost an hour.  The living room floor and their bedroom floor looked like they were covered in snow because of all the tissues.  And the next morning she said her nose was sore from so blowing it so much.  Ahhh.  Sweet child of mine.


We looked up some verses about compassion/being tender-hearted, and this was my favorite...

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (NIV)

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.  (NASB)

Ephesians 4:32.

I couldn't decide which translation I liked better, so I decided to share both.  At first the forgiveness part seemed out of place in the context of our particular discussion, but then again, just as we have compassion on others when we can see life from their perspective, isn't it easier to forgive others that hurt us when we are willing to see the situation through their eyes, understand their stories, and feel their pain?  Perhaps it is their own pain that drives them to hurt us in the first place.  And, yes, sometimes those that are hurting are the hardest to love.  But we have to have compassion on them or we could find ourselves being hurtful to them...and then requiring THEIR forgiveness.  I'll let you ponder that.