My Fab Fam

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wrapping up 2013

There is soooo much I could say about this year, but instead of focusing on the year, let me just share what is happening, both in my home and in my head, this last day of 2013...

First, I am pretty sure my girls are going to be members of a nudist colony someday.  They love to run around without clothes on.  Right now they are looking at a book I have of Africa and they just saw a picture of some women without shirts on.  Outside.  Together.  Baby girl, G, just said, "There are people who go out without shirts on!"  This is an epiphany I did not need her to have.

Secondly, is there anyone else out there who wants to hunt down the makers of Easy Bake Ovens and ask, "What in the world were you thinking?"  We just spent the better part of an hour making 6 cookies, which in my opinion are inedible.  I'm not really even sure they are food.  And if I'm going to spend an hour baking, I want copious amounts of yumminess to show for it.  I would much rather spend an hour with them, mixing flour, oats and real chocolate chips and have 4 dozen cookies when we are all done. I think I need to make real cookies.

Thirdly, I should be putting away Christmas decorations and taking down my tree, but instead I am here, typing meaninglessness.  So, let me share some things I actually want my girls to remember someday...

First (again), we are praying blessings over our girls this year.  I read another momma's blog about this same time last year and she was sharing the blessings that she prays over her 6 kiddos each year, a specific one for each kid.  I meant to do this last year, but I didn't.  I mean, we pray blessings over our kids all the time, but not a specific blessing over each child.  We do the "May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make his face to shine upon you, and give you peace; The Lord lift His countenance upon you, and be gracious unto you," blessing on the way to school.  And I speak/pray random verses that come to mind, such as, "Remember that before God formed you in the womb, He knew and He set you apart to be a prophet to the nations, telling others about Him and His love.  He is always with you.  He will never leave or forsake you.  So be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or discouraged.  The Lord is your shield and your strength, a very present help in trouble.  Jesus is the light of the world, and because you know Him, His light is in you.  Just like a city on a hill cannot be hidden, you are to shine your light before all men and let them see good works and then praise your Father up in heaven..." and on and on I may go.  And I can't help but laugh as I type, wondering how much of it is sticking.  =)

All that said, I have decided to pray the blessing of their names over them.  Big girl's middle name is Grace, so this year I am asking God to give her a full understanding of His abundant grace and that she will learn to lean fully on Him and His glorious grace that He has lavished on her with all wisdom and understanding (Ephesians 1) of all the mistakes she has made, is making, and will make.  Will full understanding of all that, He poured out His grace anyway.  I want her to know it to the core of her being.  He loves you beyond comprehension, my big girl; may you be so confident in His love, that you never doubt He only has your best interest in mind.  He will lead you in paths of righteousness for His name's sake, and all things--blessings and trials--are preparing you for the crown of righteousness He has in store for you.  He makes all things beautiful, and you will stand before Him someday in beautiful new wedding garments. What a bride you will make!

Baby girls' middle name is Faith.  I am asking God to give her incredible, insatiable, life-changing faith.  I pray that she will be a radical force in this dark world because she has Rock-solid faith in the One that is the Rock.  I pray that she will so deeply believe in His incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1) that she will have the courage to do anything, go anywhere, and withstand any persecution that may come her way.  May you be unshakable, baby girl, in the firm foundation that is Christ.  May you fight the good fight and run with perseverance and finish all the good works He prepared in advance for you to do in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2).  There is a crown with your name on it too, my beautiful princess, and I can hardly wait to see you receive it!

Secondly, I want my girls to remember this:  there is no greater way to engage your minds than to meditate on His Word.  Last year I set a goal to memorize Ephesians.  I fell so very short of my goal, but I am still happy to say that I now have 2 chapters of the Word under my belt.  And, my goal is to complete the book this year.  "Thy Word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against Thee."  Let it be.

It's gonna be a great year!  Here's to a joy-filled and blessed 2014.

The Year of the Lord's Favor

61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;[a]
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;[b]
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lordthat he may be glorified.[c]
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.
Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks;
    foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
but you shall be called the priests of the Lord;
    they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God;
you shall eat the wealth of the nations,
    and in their glory you shall boast.
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
    instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
    they shall have everlasting joy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Morning Worship

There's something very serene about being awake at 1:30 on Christmas morning. Makes me wonder what time Jesus was born in that stable, how tired Mary and Joseph must have been, and how surprised they probably were when stranger-shepherds showed up in the dark to worship Him, dirty and worn as they were. 

I think about all the people that might be worn this Christmas. Loss of a loved one, financial struggles, failing health, prodigal sons... It can seem like a dark world sometimes but He came to bring Light. Our loads may be heavy but He came to make them light. Our circumstances may be wearisome, or at best redundant, like watching sheep day after day after long day. But maybe, just maybe we could go ahead and surprise some people by bringing our dirty, worn selves to His precious feet and worshipping Him anyway. 

Merry merry Christmas. 

Friday, December 6, 2013


Remember this post:  Gideon?

In it I said this:

"After I have these verses good and embedded in heart and mind, I'll replace them with a few more."

I looked at the picture in that post of post-it notes plastered to my kitchen window sill and realized, I have them embedded!  Some of them at least.  Here's how I know...

Every morning I drive my big girl to school.  We literally live less than a mile from school so we don't have a lot of time in the car.  I know some of you, like me, are thinking, "You should just walk."  Yes.  Yes, we should.  But we don't and I'm okay with that.  I'm not a morning person; so, I'm not going to get up any earlier than I already do so that we can walk a half-mile in heat, rain, or sleet to get E to school.  Furthermore, there is no sidewalk for part of the way; so, I'm not really excited about walking beside a busy street with two kiddos.  And, lastly, the public schools have weird rules about walkers.  If she's a walker, she has to stay 30 minutes later each day after school dismisses AND has to walk at least a block by herself before I can meet her.  (Would someone PLEASE tell me why they established THAT rule?)  I'm not cool with that.

Okay, now that I've justified that (for myself, I'm sure, because none of you really cared), let's move on.

So, by the time we buckle, drive to school, and wait in the drop-off line, we are in the car a total of two or three minutes, maybe.  But we pack a lot in those two or three minutes.  First, as I've mentioned before, I speak a blessing over her.  It is from Scripture, but it is not necessarily in the same order each day.  But, it always has these words, in some order...

"May the Lord bless you and keep you;
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and give you peace;
May the Lord lift His countenance upon you and be gracious unto you."

Now, here's where the embedded Scriptures come in.

After the blessing, I say something to this effect...

"Remember, before God formed you in the womb, He knew you, and He set you apart to be a prophet to the nations [Jeremiah].  He has blessed you in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ [Ephesians], equipping you for every good work that He has planned for you to do.  He will never leave you or forsake you; He is always with you [Hebrews]."

And recently I have added, "And now that you have Jesus in your heart, you are the light of the world; so, just like a city on a hill can not be hidden; you are to shine your light before all men and let them see good works so they can praise your Father up in heaven."

You know what?  This daily morning monologue is a reminder for me too!  A reminder of who I am.  And some of them came from those 7 or 8 verses that hung in my window this fall.

I think it's time to hang some new verses!


On the lighter side:

G (baby girl) has always been picky about her clothes...too tight...too itchy...too ruffley...and on and on.  But lately, she has become adamant about always wearing a skirt.

It snowed today and after supper I was finally ready to go outside and play.  As soon as we started suiting up, G said she did not want to go.  When asked why, she said she didn't like her snow suit; she wanted to wear a skirt.  She was so persistent in her argument that she almost preferred staying in if she didn't get to wear a skirt.  We compromised by allowing her to wear a skirt over her snow suit.  Why, oh why, did I not get a picture?

Friday, November 29, 2013

On Pirates and Nuns (Retro Post, Sept 19, 2013)

Occasionally I write a post that never gets uploaded to the blog.  Why?  I don't know.  I'm sure it has a lot to do with the fact that very little of what I write actually gets posted the day I write it.  I usually save it and come back the next day and reread it.  If I still find it funny, true, and/or pertinent, I post.  If I sense that it is just a lot of words, I don't.  So, here's one that didn't make the initial cut, but is getting to debut two months later than it hoped.


So, today is national "Talk Like a Pirate" day.  Would I have known this if my daughter was not in Kindergarten?  No.  But, in honor of "Talk Like a Pirate" day, the local schools sent home a paper at the beginning of the week that said...

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Thurs., Sept 19th

Avast, me hearties!

On Thur., Sept 19th, everyone is welcome to dress like a Pirate.

We also encourage that everyone talk like a pirate from dawn til dusk.

For every good matey, a pirate hat will be given.

Now, my question is this:  What makes for a good matey?  Holding your desk mate hostage while forcing them to give you all their pencils, glue, and scissors?

"Congratulations!  You have behaved like a true pirate matey!  Now, for being such a good matey--if not a good friend--here's your pirate hat!"

I really have no idea what constitutes good behavior in a pirate.  I'll be interested to see if my big girl comes home with a hat.  Because I did, of course, send her to school dressed like a matey.  yip. ee.  I succumbed to peer pressure for her.  

Now, I have to wonder...why do we have national "Talk Like a Pirate" day?  And why do our public schools observe it?  Why not national "Talk Like a Saint" day?  We could all dress like Saint Peter, or the Pope, or Mother Teresa, and say kind things to our neighbors and share our glue sticks.  And being a good saint would mean that at lunch we sit by the boy with the oily hair that smells like he might not own soap, or on the playground we stop playing with our friends to join the little girl who's swinging by herself.

Just sharing the craziness that goes on inside this head.   Anyone out there relate?  Anyone?

Also, what exactly does "Avast, me hearties" mean?


And now I might add...big girl did come home that day with a pirate hat.  I did not ask how she was a good matey.  I'm not sure I want to know.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanks-Christmas, Everyone!!!

I type, sitting on the couch, under a Christmas blanket, with my left arm smashed against my side by the weight of my three-year-old.  She dons a blue and green Tinker Bell pajama shirt, white leggings, and a pink hairbow while she sucks her fingers and watches Tinker Bell fly away from a large hawk.  Big girl sits beside her in heart socks, a soft pink night gown, and her baby sister's zip-up hot pink hoodie that barely covers her elbows.  The Christmas tree lights shine bright against the darkening winter sky.  All is snug and right with the world.

Even though it isn't.

My man does homework on Thanksgiving, all day, emerging only for lunch.  His sister lies in a critical care unit receiving copious amounts of antibiotics to fight an infection that has spread throughout her body.  Her two-day-old, two-month-premature baby is several corridors away in the NICU.  A momma's heart hurts and Thanksgiving meal is understandably postponed.  My parents, siblings, and their families are together, hours away, helping each other through this first Thanksgiving after Dean's passing.

There are books to be read, papers to be written, tests to be taken and the never-ending interruptions of life.  There is a health to be given.  A heart to be healed.   A life to be written.  Holes to be filled.

And still I am thankful.  Thankful Dean is in heaven.  Thankful God has a plan for a little two pound baby boy who is lying protected by a plastic incubator.  Thankful for the doctors and nurses and medical equipment and knowledge that can see him through.  Thankful for the advances in medicine that have made my sister-in-law's situation a little less dire than it would have been even ten years ago.  Thankful for a man who works hard and studies hard and plays hard and loves hard because he knows his God-given role as provider, leader, protector and lover of three girls' souls.  Thankful for a peaceful day at home, a Thanksgiving "feast" as my sweet big girl called it, and time to snuggle on the couch, play games in the floor, and read books in bed.

But most of all, I am thankful for a little five-year-old princess who acknowledged last night that her true identity is a child of the King, accepted that she needs a Savior, believed that her King-Father sent One, his Son, to die and save her, and chose Him as her Lord because she knows He loves her and will only guide her in the way that is best for her.  So grateful for her kick-off to Thanks-Christmas.

When life is up-side-down and hard and painful and interrupted, thanksgiving--the act, not the day--makes it all right side up again.

All is right.


Sometimes His blessings come through raindrops.

The last-minute change of plans meant my man, my girls, and I would be enjoying Thanksgiving meal at home this year.  I had a bought a chicken to roast and contribute to the meal we had planned to eat with my mother-in-law.  So, I mentally dug through my cabinets to figure out what I could use as sides...

A box of mac'n'cheese.  M'kay.  Eggs.  'Kay...will devil those.  A loaf of bread I had made this week.  Good.  And some fruit.  Awesome.   Chocolate Fudge Pie?  No.  No pie crust.  No time to make one.  Dessert might not happen.

I oiled up the chicken, stuffed it with lemons, thyme, rosemary, and parsley and slid it in the oven.  Boiled eggs for deviled eggs.  Chopped apples and oranges and tossed with candied cherries and marshmallows to make a fruit salad.  (Thanks, Granny Ingy for introducing us to this yumminess).  Poured apple pie filling in a square baker, topped with half a box of a yellow cake mix, sprinkled with cinnamon, and covered in butter for an Apple Crunch Cake.

The Chicken came out, the cake went in.  The mac'n'cheese was cooked, the eggs stuffed, the bread warmed, and the table set.  My girls helped squeeze lemons for lemonade and we poured it into wine glasses for a fancy touch.  We lit the candles and ate our Thanksgiving feast in pajama's.  I don't think I have ever had a better Thanksgiving meal.  And I'm certain we can't top this one.  Simplicity and special touches made this Thanksgiving one to be remembered.  Memories were made today.


Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

I will enter His gates with Thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter His courts with praise.

In all things give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.


May this day be the beginning of a long season of thankfulness for all God has done for us.  Beginning with the ultimate gift of Jesus Christ our LORD!

Happy Thanks-Christmas everyone!

From one tired, blessed sister to another.


If you are interested in an easy, fool-proof roast chicken recipe, click below.  Seriously.  If I can do this, anyone can.  I can not cook chicken, ask my husband.  And, yet, this recipe comes out perfect.  Every time.  Friggin' delicious.

Friday, November 22, 2013

I love you, no matter what.

I just want to share this.  It seems important and maybe it isn't, but if it is, maybe it will help someone.

My baby girl, G, told me a little white lie this morning.  She is becoming quite proficient at telling little white lies, and even putting a bow on them afterwards:  "I prooooomise."  I have now learned that "I promise" means that she is lying.  And I send her to time out.

So, today again I put her in time out and went about cleaning the kitchen.  When the stove timer sounded the end of four minutes, I said, as always, "Come talk to me."  And here is how her time-out ended, how it always ends:

We sit in the kitchen floor and I ask, "Why did you have to sit in time out?"  When she answers, "I lied," or owns up to whatever the offense may be that day, then we discuss why the deed was indeed an offense.  I tell her how sad it makes me when she lies [or commits said offense] and ask what she should do, which always includes saying, "I'm sorry," and sometimes involves other means of making the wrong right again.  For example, today, she had to tell me the true story instead of the lie that landed her in time out.  After all of this, we cuddle-hug and I say, "I love you, no matter what."  And then she runs off to play.

And it hit me today that perhaps God wants to have this same exchange with me...for me to own my mistake, to say I'm sorry, to sit at His feet long enough for Him to tell me what I can do to right the wrong, and to pause a little longer to let Him love on me and speak words of encouragement to me. In short, to be still.

Instead, here's the drill.  I mess up every day.  All day every day, actually.  There are no time-outs, but there are certainly lots of conversations between God and me about what I did.  Most of our conversations are one-sided and end up going like this:

I know.  I messed  up.  Again.  I'm sorry.  I'm awful.  I don't know why you put up with me.  Ugh...

And off I go again.

And I think God is sitting there with His mouth open, waiting for me to be quiet long enough for Him to say something, but I prattle on about my wretchedness.  I forget that God not only chastens but also lifts my head.  After every single mistake, He offers a warm embrace and an "I love you, no matter what."  But I only hang around long enough for the discipline and run off while He sits there with His arms open to embrace and mouth open to speak love.

I want my kids to have such an assurance of love, to know that my love isn't tied to their performance.  I don't do a great job of this.  I freak out when little things go wrong, probably making them feel like I am angry at them or displeased with them for things that may not even be within their control.  My fear is that they will internalize this message:  "You must be good and chaos is bad and if you are part of the chaos you are bad and I will not love you."  That is probably one of my biggest parenting fears.  Because I struggle to remember that I am loved, no matter what.  Because, if I'm honest, I believe the chaos in my life makes God freak out.  I struggle to believe that He loves me in the chaos, even when I create the chaos.  Because He is always in control, right?  I struggle to remember that my chaos is still within His control...that my chaos has zero impact on His love.

I really don't want my kids to have these doubts.  I am desperate for my kids to know they are loved, no matter what.  So, to combat whatever craziness I contribute to the chaos of our lives, I make sure to tell them I love them when they actually mess up.  (And I'm working on my freak-out default.)

And, so, it occurred to me this morning that I have got to pause when I mess up.  Perhaps I actually need to sit in the kitchen floor and imagine Him sitting crossed-legged right in front of me.  I need to let Him remind me that He still loves me.

God is love.  He doesn't love us if we're good.  He just is love.  It is His nature to love.  He has no option but to love.

So, for anyone else out there who might need this today, allow me to pass on this message from our all-powerful always-in-control God, Who Is also our loving heavenly Father:

"I love you, no matter what."


And a dinner idea for you tonight....

I'm a big fan of any meal that only requires me to dirty ONE pot.  Or ONE pan.  Or ONE of anything.  Last night I tried a new potato chowder recipe and it is a one-pot wonder!  Awesomeness without all the dishes that awesomeness usually requires.

If you're interested:

Potato-Corn Chowder

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Teenage clothes, cholesterol, and Christmas

Here's some randomness for your day.

My baby girl, G, told me last night that we need to go shopping for teenage clothes.

This wishful-thinker was beaming with momentary pride, convinced that her daughter wanted to buy Christmas presents for a teenage child in need.  But, just to be sure, I asked with a smile, "Why?"

"So I'll have some when I'm a teenager in case they're all gone."

No words.  No thoughts even.  Just stunned blank.

But then again, I'm never speechless or without a whirlwind of thoughts for long.  When my thoughts came back to me, I started wondering if I should, in fact, let her buy "teenage clothes" now while she retains some hint of modesty and innocence.  But, then again, if she already sees a difference in her clothes and "teenage clothes," I'm not really sure I would, in fact, be any better off to let her shop now.  I think she is already lusting after sexy, before she even knows what it is.  This thought has only been confirmed by the clothes she compliments:

"I like her shirt" (that comes down to her belly button).


"That's a pretty dress," (that will only cover her cheeks if she doesn't sit down).

She is three, people.  Three.


In other news, my husband had his annual check-up this week and learned that he has high cholesterol.  His message to me, after his appointment:

"You're gonna have to change my diet.  Cholesterol is high.  Pretty high actually."

My loving wifey response:

"No honey.  YOU are gonna have to change your diet.  I am not the one that eats out every day."

And today, from my man:

"I just ordered grilled shrimp, steamed veggies, and rice.  What the heck???"

My ironic response:

"It's a good thing u r eating healthy for lunch bc this potato chowder [we're having for supper] is not healthy."

I'm such a good wife.


Despite my heartlessness, my man is good to me.  I was a wreck when he came home last night.  Tired is an understatement.  Who knew it took so long to recover from an appendectomy???  It was 5, the house was in its usual state of disarray, there was homework to be done, no supper fixed, not-quite-a-promise to put up the Christmas tree that was probably going to be broken, and I was on the verge of tears.  After working a full day, he jumped right in.  He declared all things possible and rode heard on big girl and her homework while baby girl and I picked up a bit.  I was given the green light on pizza and was placing an on-line order while he went into the loft for the tree and decorations.  After a long while, he returned inside.

"Houston, we have a problem..."  he began.  "We don't have a tree."


Sure enough, we threw our tree out last year.  We both have vague recollections of various conversations...should we donate it to Habitat...should we just throw it out...should we keep it and just keep stringing lights in all the places where the pre-lit strands have quit working???  It seems we chose option 1 or 2, but right now neither of us is sure which one.

So, homework was done, the house was picked up, and the pizza was almost ordered...and we closed the pizza page, put on shoes, and headed out.  We ate a slow dinner where we were waited on (ahhhhh) and bought a little tree at Lowe's.  We came home, put up the tree, and put down the girls.  At nine.  Two hours past bedtime.

And guess what.  We all survived.  We did more than survive.  We were revived.

And we finally have our tree up!  Perhaps it is a bit early by your calendars, but it is three weeks past due by mine.  Just get Halloween out of the way and I'm ready for a two-month-long Holy days season!

Happy Thanks-Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I had an appendectomy last Tuesday night. And I think the anesthesia has yet to wear off. 

This was me tonight: "Go. to. bed. Now." 

And my prayer, "Lord, please just let us [and by us I mean the girls] go to sleep quickly." 

Five mins and they were out. I think God knew I had nothing. 

And while they were drifting off, I saw this post by Glennon Doyle Melton on Facebook. I was so with her tonight....

File in the category of Be Careful What You Teach Your Kids:

Me: Amma. If you do not GET and KEEP your bottom in bed RIGHT NOW I'm cancelling your play date tomorrow.
Amma: But mom, remember. NOW is not about TOMORROW. Now is for now. Let's enjoy this moment. 
Me:(OMG FACE) See here's the thing, Amma. Mommy's only spiritual for like an hour a day. And bedtime is the opposite of that hour. GO. GO NOW AND AGAIN TOMORROW. ALL THE DAYS FOREVER- GO. TO. BED.

I've got a flipping Kindergarten Ekhart Tolle up in here.

And yes, they go to bed at 7:30. If you ever meet them, do NOT tell them that most kids don't. I've got a good thing going over here. Best luck with Whack a Mole tonight, Warriors. G

(Shared by Glennon Doyle Melton via Facebook)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Applaud the Hard Things

Somewhere along the way I have adopted the phrase, "We can do hard things."  When the girls come upon a task that seems daunting, I remind them, too, "We can do hard things."

This morning, baby girl was asked to clean up all the baby doll stuff.  She took one look at all the clothes, toys, and babies on the floor and decided, then declared, "I can't; there's too much."  To which I replied, "Yes, you can!  You can do hard things.  Just do a little at a time and it will get easier and easier."  I then went to the laundry room.  When I emerged, there was baby girl sitting at the kitchen table, working a puzzle.  I looked in the living room floor, expecting to see lingering baby items.  Instead, I only saw three books.

"Wow!  You did a hard thing!"

She just kept working the puzzle.  But I wanted her to recognize and celebrate her victory.  So, I prodded on.

"You didn't think you could pick up all the baby stuff, but you did!  Give me fives!!!"

Then she smiled, looked up at me, and slapped my hand over and over.

And I realized that I need to applaud the hard things in my life too.  It doesn't take much to stop me in my tracks these days.  An overflowing kitchen sink, a full laundry room, a full schedule...any of these can seem like I have a mountain to climb before bedtime.  So, next time a mountain of clothes or dishes or errands is under my feet, I am going to stop and celebrate the God who gives me strength to climb mountains, be that large or small.

"They go from strength to strength, til each appears before God in Zion."  Psalm 84:7.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Because We're All Wounded

The truth is I've had a rough couple of days.  It started Saturday when I heard that another lady had lost her battle with ALS.  And even though I knew she had won a great victory over death that day through the blood of Christ, I wept for her family and--for the first time--my family and me.

Then I went to church on Sunday.  And as much as I tried to keep my focus on God, I was distracted by my wounds.  And the wounds of those around me.  And I wanted to just interrupt the order of songs and offerings and speaking to beg my sisters and brothers to their knees.  I wanted us all to embrace each other with our pain and our gaping wounds and not be afraid to have another's blood and dirt touch the nice, clean garments that covered up our own blood and dirt.  I wanted us to minister to each other's wounds before we went on with the great matter of worship.  Because isn't the what Jesus would do for us?  Clean us up so we could worship Him?  I mean, isn't it because He cleans us up that we want to worship Him?  And when our wounds are acknowledged and then bandaged by a servant of Christ, we want to sing a song of thanksgiving to the One Who sent His bondservant to our aid, the One Who Is our Healer and Encourager.

Then my man leaves for a week and my house is up-side-down and I have meetings and soccer games and fall parties to help with.  And I'm grumpy and I'm tired.  And I'm still mourning the loss of my brother and the loss of my brothers and sisters in Christ who have sought another hospital for their wounds.  And I'm still wounded.

And I don't want to write because I don't want to be honest and I don't want people to know the junk I carry around inside me.  But then, who is going to be the first one to open their nice clean garments and expose their wound and cry for help?  God is the Great Physician, yes.  But He sends his PA's to partner with him in pain management and healing.  And we're all wounded.  And there is help all around us in the church.

And yet we cover up the gash and put on clean coverings and walk around, hurting and broken and too ashamed to admit we are bleeding in the dark, secret places.

Because everyone else looks so clean.

And sometimes the best gift we can give to our visibly clean but deeply wounded sister is our whole broken selves.

"Carry each other's burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."  Galatians 6:2


Ann Voskamp has become passionate about seeing the broken church healed and prepared for the return of Christ.  Read HER THOUGHTS HERE and the thoughts of one of her contributing writers HERE in "Why it's okay to really need each other."

Because if we can't admit our struggles, how can anyone ever trust us with theirs?

And it goes beyond the church.  Those who are searching for a Savior will be much more interested in ours if they hear about how much He has saved us and how He is saving us still.

We have just got to be real.


Attitude of Gratitude:

#281.  A beautiful time at the pumpkin patch with my beautiful 3-year old princess
#282.  Distance and time, because they make the heart grow fonder
#283.  Toys all over my floor, because they remind me that we are richly blessed
#284.  Crunchy, fallen leaves and mums (285) and pumpkins (286) and warm sunshine (287) and left-over potato soup (288) and a late harvest of peppers (289) and trading goods with my brothers and sisters like the early church (290; Acts 2:44-45)

Saturday, September 14, 2013


I'm currently taking a Bible study that was written by Priscilla Shirer:  Gideon: Your Weakness; God's Strength.  In it she talks about Israel's spiritual decline and what caused it.  One thing:  not ridding the promised land of all the former inhabitants when they entered it.  God had clearly instructed Israel BEFORE they entered Canaan to completely destroy their enemies (Deuteronomy 7:1-2).  However, we see in Judges 1 that they failed to do this; thus, they later found themselves experiencing hardships that they were never meant to endure.

Priscilla then asks, "Are you facing any battles today due to something you didn't destroy earlier?" 

Oh, yes.  So many little things bubbled to mind, but one biggie in particular.  How many times have I felt God leading me to do battle to the death with insecurity?  To soak in His definition of who I am until the enemy can no longer lie to me about that?  Well, here I am, still struggling, all because I didn't give my whole self to this process before.

Step one in my renewed efforts:

This is my kitchen window, covered with just a few words that God uses to describe me.  After I have these verses good and embedded in heart and mind, I'll replace them with a few more.

And the war rages on...

Monday, September 9, 2013

He's Walking; I'm Writing

My oldest brother, Dean, is with Jesus right now.  He died on Friday, August 16th.  I know it may seem troubling that I haven't yet mentioned his death, but please understand, I have tried.  I just haven't known what to say, or when I thought I did, I couldn't figure out how to say it.  How many posts have I started and then deleted?

But I watched an Ann Voskamp video tonight and she said something I needed to hear.  Picking up the pen is slowing down.  Picking up the pen is, in a way, picking up our sword to fight our enemy.  Because picking up our pen slows down and Satan doesn't want us to slow down.

I have always been a writer.  As far back as I can remember, I've journaled.  (Spell-check doesn't like that word, but really?)  But in the last 10-12 years, I've journaled about my relationship with God, even writing TO Him in my journals.  Oftentimes, I have had a hard time fully grasping a lesson God is giving me until I try to pen my questions, frustrations, and emotions.  And, the pen, or the slowing down, brings clarity.

So, I'm motivated once again (thanks, Ann) to write in hopes that I receive some clarity.

Dean was diagnosed about three years ago with ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  I'm not even really sure I understand the disease, but I'll explain it to the best of my ability.  Basically there is a hardening (or sclerosis) of the tissue around the nerves, or of the nerves themselves, that send signals to the muscles.  The sclerosis causes the nerves to degenerate or die; so signals from the brain cannot reach the muscles.  The muscles, therefore, start to atrophy, or shrink and waste away.  As the the sclerosis spreads to various nerves, more and more muscles are affected.  Over time, the affected person can become paralyzed.  And this is what happened to Dean.

By the time Dean went to the hospital for his last battle against this mighty foe, he had been in a wheelchair for about a year, he had had a feeding tube put in because he could no longer eat, he could not move any of his limbs except for very limited movement in his right hand, he could not hold his head up or turn it sideways, and he could barely speak or swallow his own saliva.  Devastating disease.

He went into the hopsital on a Wednesday; the following Saturday he "coded."  I have no idea where that term came from or how a doctor would technically describe it, but in short, he was gone.  It was surreal to witness someone dying, but without a doubt, his body no longer housed a soul.  Then, despite his DNR (a "do not resuscitate" order), the doctor strapped forced oxygen on him.  His color returned and he came back.  We were all in shock when he spoke, "What happened?"

"You were gone," we told him.  And, with great effort, he replied, "Oh, I know.  I left this place."  We didn't know exactly what he meant by that until later when he told us that he had seen a "bright, white light."  And another time he said he had been "walking down a busy street towards the light," excuse me, "towards the Light, and the Light was right beside him."  I can not help but believe Jesus was beside Dean, leading him straight to the Father.  But, you know what struck me first?  He was walking!  Of course he was walking!  He wasn't in his limited earthly body anymore, but his glorified, perfect eternal one!

I should back up a little to describe something about that Saturday that still surprises me.  I was not afraid or sad when he "coded."  I watched him struggle for those last breaths and I had the strangest peace.  If you know me, you know I have always been terrified of choking.  I have been choked three times.  I have also had a near-drowning experience.  Anything that prevents me or someone else from breathing has been a major stronghold of fear in my life.  But, I look back on those couple of chaotic moments of Dean struggling to breathe, doctors and nurses pouring in the room, family members crying, and me going out into the hall trying to call Dean's children and then back into the room to check on him multiple times, and there was a strange peace.  I knew he was leaving us, but I knew where he was going.  I knew he was struggling to breathe, but I knew the whole struggle would all soon be over for him.  There was almost a disconnect from the chaos.  I don't know how to describe it, but God truly gives indescribable peace when we need it.

What seems even more perplexing to me, and has even troubled me sometimes since, is the fact that after he "came back," I went out into the hallway and wept.  I was so calm when I thought he was gone, and so very troubled, and even angry when he was back with us.  I just kept thinking, "I thought it was over for him!  We brought him back!  Oh, why does he have to suffer anymore?!"  It's hard to admit that I was so hurt, so mad, when everyone else seemed so grateful.

Since that time, I have seen so much good that God did in Dean's second stint on earth.  God allowed us to bring Dean back and He even used that "robbed" time for so much good.  We got to hear just a bit of what Dean saw in those few minutes he was gone, which I believe was such a faith builder for so many of us.  We all had time to say "Goodbye" and "We love you."  We even heard him crack jokes.  And a few of us were able to eek out another lesson or two from our unwitting teacher.

Personally, I got a good lesson in thankfulness.  After Dean coded, he was moved to the Hospice floor in the hospital, where he spent almost another week.  I believe it was Sunday or maybe Monday that he had such a good day, relatively speaking.  His mouth was always so dry; so, every hour or two, we would sit him up to give him a "drink" of water, which really meant Wendy, his wife, would pour some water in his mouth, and he would spit it right back out, because he couldn't swallow it.  But that day, he slowly got out, "What I wouldn't give for a good, cold Coke."  Wendy, ever the cheerful nurse, said, "You can have one!"  The nurse brought one in and Wendy poured some in, and someone (I don't remember who now) held the kidney-shaped bowl/dish/pan under his chin so he could spit it out.  Only...we heard him swallow.  Wendy said, "Did you swallow that?"  And one of my other brothers, Tod, who was sitting in the corner, popped out of his chair and half-laughed, half-scolded, "You swallowed that, boy?!"  A slight smile touched Dean's face and he barely bobbed his head in a nod.

He drank quite a bit of Coke that day, and water, and we were all stupefied.  He hadn't swallowed anything in days, if not weeks.  He was enjoying what is such a normal activity that most of us take for granted:  swallowing.  And at one point he even said, "I am the luckiest man alive to get to drink cold coke and cold water."

It was an inspiring comment, coming from one who couldn't move, couldn't eat, could barely talk, and knew his earthly life was very near finished.  And it was a very  painful reminder of my ungratefulness.

Which brings me back to Ann Voskamp.  She said in that video tonight that gratefulness brings us into the presence of God.  Certainly, Dean entered His courts with thanksgiving in his heart.  And, if there is one thing I think God wants me to take away from Dean's life and death (because I know Dean wouldn't want it wasted), it is to be grateful.  Gratefulness ushers us into the presence of God, and where else do we really want to be?

Remember the song?

"I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise!  I will say, 'This is the day that the Lord has made.'  I will rejoice for He has made me glad!"

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."  Psalm 100:4, NIV

Let's do it now...


Attitude of Gratitude:

#267.  my big 3-almost-4-year-old curling up in my lap and fitting just so right; she won't be able to do that forever.
268.  being able to sing at the funeral.  listen, i don't know how it sounded, other than shakey, but i made it through, and that was only Jesus.
269.  text messages with my family.  we might be crazy, but we love each other in all our craziness.  that's enough.
270.  running.  or walk-running.  today.  for the first time in, what, years?  it felt oh-so-good.
271.  pandora and all the awesome praise music it provides for...running.  =)
272.  my big girl's awesome kindergarten teacher.  we love ms. lisa.
273.  my baby girl's preschool.  so comfortable with them.
274.  my man's work ethic.  he inspires me.
275.  some of the best mail in the world that came this past week:  books!
276.  a good friend who cared enough to share her good books
277.  an opportunity to be involved in my big girl's school; so grateful for the invite to serve on the PBIS team
278.  a video link sent from a friend which reminded me that writing is a good way to slow down
279.  the reminder from God through andy stanley that actions trump good intentions; so, do the thing!
280.  being alive another day so i had some opportunities to do the thing(s)!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Catharsis Again

This is ridiculous.  I had a friend over yesterday and shared about another painful lesson God is teaching me and referenced this seemingly never-ending period of sifting in my life to which she almost interrupted me by saying, "I thought that was OVER!?!?!"  And she went on to encourage me by reminding me that sifting takes place throughout our lives.  So, perhaps this hard lesson isn't me still wondering the Sahara, but just a quick drive through Nevada on my way to the sunny coast of California.

Then, totally by random chance (yeah, right), I re-read an old post tonight that--this is ridiculous--made me cry.  My man came in the door and I'm trying to dry my eyes because I knew if he saw me crying he'd ask why I was upset.  I wasn't about to tell him that I had made myself cry with my own writing!

How is it I can so get it one day and completely forget it the next?  HOW?!

So, here's believing that I'm done wondering...that I am moving on--have already been moving on, and continue to move on--to my promises.

The old post that made me cry?

This one.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's a New Day

I just sent this text to my man:

"I'm in a weird state of mind right now.  Somewhere between disbelief and an acute awareness of reality.  I just dropped my baby at preschool, had lunch with my big kindergartener, agreed to serve on Team 1 of PBIS--whatever the heck that is--and agreed to volunteer on Mondays and Wednesdays.  I planned supper at 9 in the morning and made a to-do list that includes shopping for soccer gear this weekend.  I am literally laughing out loud with tears in my eyes because this cannot be my new life!"

Wake up, momma, it is!

And here's the evidence, baby girl on her way to preschool:

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Homework, Home Work

I've just decided I should go back to school.  My man is sitting on the couch reading 72 pages of Introduction to the New Testament and writing a short essay on what he's learning, while I...I try to maintain a facade of patience with a 5 year-old who won't go to sleep!

First, she came down the hallway:  "My boo-boo's bleeding."  She gets a band-aid, sits on the ottoman for a good minute putting it on, spends another solid minute carefully wrapping up all the pieces of trash into one little ball, another minute explaining how she accidentally scratched her boo-boo, another asking daddy what he's doing (homework), and another minute or two throwing the trash away, securing a promise from me to come and check on her in a minute, and sauntering back down the hallway.

I peek in to check on her.

My three-year old is sleeping soundly.  My big girl?  No.  She sits up and tells me she has had a bad dream.  I tell her she has not had a bad dream because she hasn't even been asleep yet!  She tells me she is having bad thoughts and her eyes are playing tricks on her because it looks like something is glowing in her sister's pajama drawer.  I tell her, yes, her eyes are playing tricks on her and that is why her eyes should be CLOSED.

I patiently explain that she has to tell her bad thoughts to STOP--I demonstrate a hand motion (palm forward like a police officer directing traffic)--sit down, and shut up.  We don't say shut up in our house, so this gets a good giggle from my girl.  I then tell her that after she tells the bad thoughts to stop, sit down, and shut up, she then needs to pray and ask Jesus to help her think about whatever is "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" (Philippians 4:8).  She says she doesn't know what those things mean.  We have talked about this verse at least a hundred times, but I simplify it:  "Just think about lovely things, like your family, friends, things you and your sister do together that make you happy, or places you like to go."  We pray and after a few clingy hugs and another extracted promise to come back and check on her, I leave again.

I get backpacks ready, pack a lunch, fill out a school spirit tee-shirt order form, write a check, wrap up several loaves of bread that have been cooling, and peek back in her bedroom.  She sits up,furrows her brow, stretches her arms towards me, and wiggles her fingers.  I walk over, kneel down, and she tells me she tried what I said and it worked a little bit, but "something is glowing over there."  I assure her nothing is glowing, but she continues to tell me that things look different.  "And that is why you should have your eyes CLOSED!"  I whisper once again.  We hug and whisper for a few more minutes, until baby girl starts to stir.

I stand up, tell my big girl she has got to close her eyes and go to sleep, and start to walk out, but she grabs onto my legs and starts to make herself cry.  At this point I am screaming internally, in a slightly demonic voice, "JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES AND GO TO SLEEP!!!!"  But a soothing momma voice that can't possibly be mine says, "Lay down and close your eyes," and I rub her back.  She asks me once again to come back and check on her, to which I reply, "I'm not going to keep coming to check on you because you sit up and get all woken up again."

"One more big hug?" she asks.  We hug and she pushes a little more, "I promise if you come back, I won't get up.  Will you come back and check on me?"  I agree, walk down the hall, sit on the couch, and decide that maybe I should go back to school.


I'm really laughing.  It's been a great weekend and a good night.  I love my family and am so very, very glad I get to stay home.  My baby girl starts preschool tomorrow.  And I'm wondering if I'll hold it together as I watch Ms. Jan come and pull my last little one out of the Jeep and away from me.  It may only be for three hours, but I know it's just one more step in the breaking away.  Healthy as it is, it's still hard.  I love being with my family as much as I can be, and I have no desire to work or go to school or do really anything that requires me to be away from them for too long.  I really only tell this story, not to complain, but because the disparity of my thoughts and my actions became quite comical as I relayed the events to my man.  And I'm figuring there's a momma or two out there that can oh, so very much relate to the insanity of the bedtime routine.  This one goes out to you, whoever you are.


Attitude of Gratitude:

#249.  My brother's healing (more about that later, so very much to say, so very hard to say it)
250.  God's indescribable peace; it really can't be described, or even understood, until you need it and He gives it
251.  A great weekend with my little family.
252.  Meals from generous and compassionate friends
253.  A clean house and completed laundry
254.  Family Movie Night (Planes is really cute!)
255.  A slow and still somewhat productive Saturday
256.  Bread
257.  Scones
258.  Good conversation with other mommas at a birthday party
259.  Seeing my big girl in her element, with all her old preschool friends
260.  Time on the golf course with my man and my girls
261.  Finally getting settled into the new routine of a new group of kids and new co-teachers
262.  Lunch with friends
263.  A lazy Sunday afternoon
264.  Floor time with my girls
265.  Couch time with my man
266.  A good book, The Insanity of God

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Prayers, Promises, and the Role of Faith

Has God ever made a promise to you?  Well, of course He has; His Word is full of promises.  But what I really mean is, has God ever spoken a specific promise into your heart?  Do you struggle to believe it?

I can with complete certainty say that God has given me a promise I have yet to see fulfilled.  I have begged God to bring it to fulfillment, but there are times that I begin to doubt if He ever will.  But a sweet mentor momma said something to me today that gave me food for thought.  She said that she believes when we ask for something within God's will, He gives it to us immediately.  Maybe we don't accept it because we don't believe it's already ours, and we, therefore, never see it's fruition in our lives until we reach heaven.  Or maybe it has only come to us in part and we have to walk it out in faith before we can see the fullness of the promise right here on earth.  I'm sure I am not explaining this as well as she did, but the main idea is that we "can be confident He will hear our prayers if we ask for anything in line with His will; and if we know He is listening when we make our request, we can be sure He will give us what we ask for" (1 John 5:14-15).

To give some credence to my friend's argument, let's look at the King James Version:

"And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him."  (emphasis mine)

Can I just pause here to tell you something?  When I went to pull out my concordance and Bible dictionary, I had to pause and pray.  And my prayer went something like this, "Lord, You know what I want this verse to mean.  Help me be open to the truth, even if it doesn't say exactly what I want it to."  I wanted this verse to say that we do, indeed, receive the answer as soon as we ask, but I wanted to be open to reading it exactly as He meant it, not the way I wanted to interpret it.

But, as I read that King James translation, I could already feel my heart beating a little faster.  It says "we have," not "we will have," or "you might someday have," but "WE HAVE."  Whatever we ask, we HAVE.  Right now, we have!  Are you getting excited with me???

Perhaps you need a little more convincing before you are ready to jump up and down, since we all know that although perfect, the exact meaning of Scripture can get a little lost in translation.  That's why I like to look up words in the original language.

First, I looked up "have" in my Strong's Concordance and found that the original Greek word is numbered 2192.  So, I then went to my handy-dandy word study dictionary and found 2192, "εχω."   Zodhiates defines it thus:  "to have, to hold, implying continued possession."  This is an active verb, something that is happening now.

But, just to be doubly safe, I looked at an on-line Greek/English interlinear Bible.  This site confirmed that the exact Greek word is εχομεν (transliterated "echoman"), which is a form of  "εχω."  "Echoman" is present active (happening now) and literally means "we are having."

"Echoman" is also an imperfect verb.  Thus, there is more to support my friend's theory that though the answer comes immediately, it might not immediately come in full.  Imperfect verbs combine past events with repeated, continuing events, such as in the sentence, "We are walking," which implies we are already walking (have been walking), and we are continuing to walk.

In the same way, when verse 15 says "we have" what we've asked for, it means we are receiving and are continuing to receive what we have asked for.  So, it certainly says we get our answer immediately, but the imperfect tense tells us that we continue receiving it over time.  Not at a later time, but over time.

For example, if we pray for an inch of rain and that is in God's will, we will receive an inch of rain.  We may not see the rain immediately because God may be creating a storm thousands of miles away that will bring our rain.  It may take days to reach us, but He began working out our answer immediately.

In the same way, if we are praying for strength or patience or salvation for a family member or any other thing in line with His will, He has already answered with a resounding, "YES!"  We may not see His work at all, but we must believe His promise that He gives us anything we ask in line with His will.  I'm not a "name it and claim it" kind of person when it comes to things that are not explicitly in God's word (prayer request for a new car, a nicer house, a spouse, another child, etc), but I am certainly a believer in claiming the promises God has spoken through His Word.

For example, He tells us he does not desire that anyone should perish but that everyone should have everlasting life.  So, we know salvation is absolutely in line with His will.  We can be confident then, if we are praying for a loved one's salvation, that He hears us and is giving us what we ask for.  Our prayer requests are immediately answered, though time may be required to see the fullness of that answer.  To remind myself of this, I will pray something like this:

"Lord, you tell me that if I ask for anything in line with your will, you will hear me.  And if I know you are listening, then I know I will have what I ask for.  I also know that it is not your will that anyone perish, but it is your will that everyone would have eternal life.  So, I know it is your will for --- to come to salvation.  Please continue to do a work in ---'s heart.  I know you are already working.  Thank you.  Help me to keep believing even when it is hard to believe.  Amen."

God has made a specific promise to me.  When I have asked, over and over, for that promise to be fulfilled, now please, He has responded with, "Yes!  It is being fulfilled.  It is becoming."  He is working out His promise and the answer to my prayer right now.  I can choose to believe it and, through faith see it, or choose to doubt and perhaps, therefore, never see its fulfillment until I stand before Him.  The promise will be fulfilled.  Will I see it?  Perhaps that is up to me.  Perhaps my vision is impacted by my hearing--will I listen to the truth of God's promises or the lies of the enemy?

The enemy whispers...
the mess is too big to ever be cleaned up,
God is disappointed with us and has given up on us,
We can never (or never again) experience the freedom and victory intended for us in Christ.

Yet God promises...
anything is possible with God,
He rejoices over us with singing,
and overwhelming victory is ours!

Who will we listen to?  Who will we believe?


In Mark 5:23, Jairus pleads with Jesus, “My daughter is dying. Please come, heal her so she will live.” He doesn’t barter with Jesus. He doesn’t negotiate. He just pleads. He asks Jesus for His help. And Jesus, who loves the honest heart, goes to give it. But before they get very far, they’re interrupted by emissaries who tell them, “Your daughter is dead. There’s no need to bother the Teacher anymore.” Get ready. Hang on to your hat. Here’s where Jesus takes control. The Bible says: “But Jesus paid no attention to what they said.” I love that line! He ignored what the people said. Why don't you do that? When falsehood, accusations, or negativism come, just ignore it. Close your ears. Walk away. Ignore the ones who say it’s too late to start over. Disregard those who say you’ll never amount to anything. Jesus said to Jairus what He says to you: “Don’t be afraid—just believe!” “Trust Me,” Jesus is pleading. “Just trust Me.” 

from He Still Moves Stones by Max Lucado


Post scripts:

If you do not have a good Bible dictionary, I can not say enough about Zodhiates' The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament and The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament by Baker and Carpenter.  I would also highly recommend their compliments, The Complete Word Study Old Testament and The Complete Word Study New Testament, both by Spiros Zodhiates.  He even has The Complete Word Study: New Testament with Greek Parallel.  (I'm drooling.)

The on-line Greek Interlinear Bible was also rockin'.  Check it out here.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Encouragement for the Church

I have recently witnessed a local body of believers in conflict.  I have been on my face for them and I have searched the Scriptures for some wisdom and encouragement in this matter.  Here are some of the lessons I am learning.

(1)  Our sisters and brothers are not our enemies.  Never.  We are all part of one body.  When we fight against each other, it is like cutting off our own arm.  We make mistakes; our sisters and brothers make mistakes; still, we are not enemies.  We are one body.  "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred and you are that temple" (I Corinthians 3).  When we fight against each other, we are damaging our testimony for the love of Christ.  We may think we are only harming those we are fighting or speaking against, but we are damaging our own witness for Christ as well.  We are crippling the entire church, "which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills everything in every way" (Ephesians 1).

(2)  To be effective, we must be humble.  When we live in close community, as the church is called to do, we will have differences.  Can we agree to disagree?  (Am I humble enough to remain silent on issues that are not significant to salvation?)  Sometimes, we will be wronged, and occasionally some of us will even experience great pain inflicted by our own brothers and sisters.  Can we offer some mercy, remembering at what great cost we have been forgiven?  Can we forgive, recognizing that at some point we may have unwittingly caused, or may yet cause, another great pain.  And we will be wrong.  Can we also admit our mistakes?  If we are not willing to admit we are wrong, and perhaps even appear wrong when we are right, or appear weak for not fighting, we will fall.  Those who are proud, He is able to humble.  (See Luke 14:11.)  I'd rather be humble than be humbled.  Oh, Lord, give us humility.

(3)  When there is strife, it is because Satan sees us as a threat!  He knows the power that is Christ's church--that incomparably great power that raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1).  He knows that if he can keep us focusing our energies inward, we are not using them outside our walls to win souls for eternity.  He knows we carry weapons that will stop him in his tracks if we would only wield them against him and not each other.  He's worried, so he works to divide.  When a weed of conflict comes up within the church, Satan is at the root.  ALWAYS.  When we disagree with a sister or brother, do we recognize that Satan is working to divide because he knows how strong we are when we unite?  

(4)  When there is strife, God is working unify and strengthen His body.  "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith  develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything" (James 1:2-4).  See the blessings in the trials.  See the men filling the altar to beg for the will of God to be done in His church?  See the women who join hands and bend knees to pray for their Godly men to have discernment and wisdom?  See the ways God is strengthening His army?  Unifying the troops?  Can we remember we all serve the same kingdom?  Can we just fall on our knees together and beg the God of mercy to guide us forward in love?  Can we stand from our prostrate prayers united?  Can we persevere until we have reached maturity?

(5)  God has a different plan for all of us.  It is tempting to believe that if God calls me to push forward in this battle and fight, then He must be calling all my brothers and sisters to the same battle.  However, that may not be the case.  Perhaps, this battle is not theirs and He has another battle for them to join.  I cannot judge a brother or sister if they leave, and I ask they not judge if I stay.  Or vice versa.  

As my heart is pained and I imagine the pain of others, I wonder at the depth of agony in the heart of our compassionate Father when He sees and feels the hurts of his children.  I beg Him to give us a keen awareness of our enemy who prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  May it not be us!  Father, may we seek unity with our sisters and brothers.  May we have a passion for a lost world.  May we work together to win souls and not be distracted by the conflict that Satan creates.  Begin with me, Lord!  And, Father, forgive us when we make a mess.  Thank you for your promise that "You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea" (Micah 7).

As my heart grieves over the wounded church, I take courage in this:  We are a powerhouse!  If we were not, why would Satan be working so hard to stop us?  We are a mighty force in a dark world, sisters!  We must believed it.  Oh, please, LORD, help us channel our energies outside the doors of the church and into a hurting world.  May we stop wounding each other, recognize the energy that is within us, and pour it out to saturate a dry and thirsty land with Living Waters!

Amen and amen.

Satan is certainly at work, but, "Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world" (I John 4:4).  And, "Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us" (Romans 8:37).

Thursday, July 25, 2013


I know there are drawbacks and perks to everything.  Many people do not like Facebook because it is a time sucker.  Sometimes I feel that way too.  But, for the most part, I like the way it helps me know what is going on in the lives of friends, family, and even acquaintances.  I almost always find something inspirational when I'm scrolling through my "news feed," and nearly every day someone allows me to the privilege of sharing their burdens through prayer.

This morning, one of my friends posted this:

"What if you refused to say one negative thing today?" I thought about this and figured I might last an hour or so, lol. Seriously, it's worth a try!

I thought it was worth a try too.  Unfortunately, I failed in my very first conversation of the day with my neighbor.  But, I decided to try again.  I walked away from that conversation, sat on my deck, and opened my email.  And God confirmed my conviction with some encouragment from Max Lucado.

I like the story about the fellow who went to the pet store for a singing parakeet.  The store owner had just the bird and the next day the man came home to a house full of music.  When he went to feed the bird he noticed for the first time, the parakeet had only one leg. He called the store and complained. “What do you want,” the store owner responded, “a bird who can sing or a bird who can dance?”
Good question for times of disappointment.  What do we want?  It’s what Jesus asked the disciples when they complained.  And in Luke 24:27, Jesus began to tell them the story of God’s plan for people, “starting with Moses and all the prophets, and everything that had been written about Himself in the Scriptures.”  Jesus’ cure for the broken heart is the story of God.  So what do you want?  If you’re disappointed, turn to the story of God.  He’s still in control!

I realized my complaining was a lack of gratitude for what God has given me.  And if I truly believe that God gives us everything we need (and sometimes everything includes pain and hardship) and that all things work for my good (even when I can't understand the how's and why's) then even the situations that disappoint me will be recognized as good, goodness, Godness.  Everything is working together to give me a clearer picture of my Lord.  Everything is working together to draw me into a closer relationship with Him, if I'll allow it.  When my heart and mind finally absorb this truth, then I will be able to truly give thanks in all things, knowing this (even this!) is the will of God for me in Christ Jesus.  

So, what is it that I want?  More stuff?  No pain?  No heartache?  An easier life?  Or more of Jesus.

Just give me Jesus.