Saturday, February 28, 2009

How Do I Love Thee?

For the second time I've been given the opportunity to do a study on the Fruit of the Spirit. I'm enjoying it because this study is from a different perspective than the first one I did and I'm learning a lot. Yesterday in our group we were talking about love, specifically Agape Love. One thing the study pointed out that I really appreciated was that Agape is not fueled by the desire of its recipient; it is fueled by the need.

Not what I want, but what I need.

That's how much God loves me, enough to lay aside what I want (no matter how much whining I do!) in favor of giving me what I need. It doesn't always feel good to be loved this way! Sometimes it hurts and I don't understand what He's doing but because I trust Him, I can trust that He is doing what is best for me.

He also calls me to love others in this way. I think this is a concept our world has a hard time understanding. We tend to think that if we make someone the least bit uncomfortable we aren't being loving to them.

My sister's husband Fred has been in the hospital for a couple of weeks now with an assortment of health issues that brought him to the brink of death. He's had a perforated bowel, kidney failure, heart trouble, fluid in his abdomen and needs a liver transplant. He went through a surgery to repair his bowel and has been on dialysis to clear his body of the toxins that are overwhelming his system.
Things have been going well since the surgery and he's regained enough strength to be a pain! He doesn't understand why he's in the hospital, he's been in a drug induced fog for several weeks and doesn't know how close to dying he came. He pulled his catheter out of the artery it was in because he wanted to go home. Fortunately my sister spotted it and he was fixed right up but now because of his antics (of which this was only one) he is in restraints. He's yelled and used profanity, begged people to release him, asked for scissors or a knife all because he desperately wants out of those restraints!

But no one will help him out. Does nobody love him? No, it's because we love him that we won't untie him. It could be life threatening to remove the restraints at this point.

It's hard to overlook what someone wants and go straight to what they need! Tracy (his wife) has to put up with all of this while she stands guard. It takes a toll, it's hard work to choose the best for someone instead of what they think they want. But it's exactly what we're called to do.

Love is the first one listed in the verse on the Fruit of the Spirit but goodness ties directly into this type of Agape love.

Goodness is moral excellence; virtue, generosity; the activity calculated to advance value, excellence or perfection. The word indicates zealous activity in doing good.

Goodness carries the idea of purity, righteousness, obedience to God. The Greek word used here (agathosune), interestingly enough is not found outside of Christian writings. It was a word used only among believers to denote uprightness of heart and life. Agathosune is active – even aggressive – goodness. It is more than excellence of character; it is character energized, expressing itself in active good. Agathosune is goodness but it does not spare sharpness and rebuke to produce good in others. This is the trait that will get out the red pen when correcting a math assignment and mark the incorrect ones.

The popular world view right now is that we should all be nice to each other; that is what is considered “good”. We are all well aware of what it means to be politically correct so we don’t offend someone. On the surface it seems like that's a fine idea but we’re comparing people to people in this equation and we have left God out of it. God’s goodness goes beyond “just being nice to each other”.

If I love my children and want “good” for them I will have boundaries for them and I will train them in God’s righteous standard. This one can be so hard! Sometimes when we're disciplining we see the big sad eyes filled with tears and we think our job is done and we don't need to punish them. If you're thinking that, you're right. You don't ever, ever want to "punish" them. You want to discipline them. What's the difference?

Love your kids enough to discipline them. Sometimes I want to love them selfishly because it's hard for me to actually mete out disciplinary action. In this case, I am loving me more than them.
If we are parenting with the end in mind we can see that every thing we're doing is going to produce certain fruit in their lives; good or bad. Which do you want to sow?

Likewise, there are occasions that we as brothers and sisters in Christ will need to admonish one another in order to provoke each other to goodness. This takes humility both to give and receive.

If you are on the giving end humility is extremely important so that you don't fall into the same situation you're trying to rescue someone from. This type of correction has to be done in love and with the goal of restoration. We should never go into this kind of situation thinking we need to "fix" someone or make them "wise up". Pray, pray and pray some more before you go there!

If you're on the receiving end of a correction it can be even more challenging! My pride wants to just jump up there and smack someone! I try to pray every day for humility and that I would be teachable because sometimes I need to hear a hard word. My husband has on occasion had to call me on a behavior or an attitude and my flesh wants to rise up and poke him with something sharp and pointy!

But I always try to run these things by the Lord and respond instead of react. Whenever someone accuses me of something the first thing I do is ask the Lord, “Is there any merit to what they are saying?” If yes then repentance is in order and then the next thing I ask the Lord is “What do you want me to learn from this?” Even if there was no merit to what they said, if the Lord allowed it then there is something I can learn from it.

Surrender to Him, humility, empathy for someone else who had the same situation occur, there are any number of things He teaches me in this stuff but the key is to be humble and open to Him.

If you trust that God is good then you have to realize that He will rebuke you. Hebrews 12:5-6 says, "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives."

Love. It's not just a feeling. It's not flowers and candy. It's hoping for and encouraging the best. It's acting in the best interest of those we're loving to spur them to righteousness.

Love me enough to do this for me and I will try to do the same for you.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Poems and Such

After some discussion today at Bible study on the topic of parenting, I came home and decided to dig out some poems I like regarding motherhood. It's an eclectic collection but then I am a bit eclectic! :)



Children are a blessing sent from God above
For us to care and nurture and most of all to love.
God calls us to be parents and gives us all the tools
And when we feel like giving up, our strength He will renew.

Children are a gift from God that He so freely lends
To make it through the childhood years, on Him we must depend.
He must have a presence, you see it must take three
The parents, child and Christ at the center to be a family.
From childhood days to a child full grown
Their joys and hurts are a parent’s own.

Times of joy and laughter and those times of tears
The times spent raising a child are surely the best of years.

There comes that time in life when a child will leave the nest
We must send them off with love and a prayer and leave to God the rest.

We have shared the Word of God, we’ve taught them right from wrong
Now it’s time to let them go and let them write their song.

The faith instilled, the examples lived, and the lessons taught
All gifts that we’ve given our child, which will never be forgotten.

There are many paths a child can take, right or wrong will remain unknown
But rest assured that in the end, they all lead back to home.

Author Unknown



Some houses try to hide the fact,
That children shelter there

Ours boasts of it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere

For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the door;

I should apologize, I guess
For the toys strewn on the floor

But I sat down with the children
And we played & laughed & read;

And if the doorbell doesn't shine,
Their eyes will shine instead!

For when at times I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other

I want to be a housewife
But first I'll be a mother!

Author Unknown



"I got two A's," the small boy cried.
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very bluntly asked,
"Why didn't you get three?"

"Mom, I've got the dishes done,"
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said,
"Did you sweep the floor?"

"I've mowed the grass," the tall boy said,
"And put the mower away."
His father asked him, with a shrug,
"Did you clean off the clay?"

The children in the house next door
seem happy and content.
The same thing happened over there,
And this is how it went:

"I got two A's,"the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very proudly said,
"That's great, I'm glad you belong to me."

"Mom, I've got the dishes done,"
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said,
"Each day I love you more."

"I've mowed the grass," the tall boy said,
"And put the mower away."
His father answered with much joy,
"You've made my day happy."

Children deserve a little praise
For tasks they're asked to do.
If they're to lead a happy life,
So much depends on you.

Author Unknown



Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my sanity to keep.
For if some peace I do not find,
I'm pretty sure I'll lose my mind.

I pray I find a little quiet,
Far from the daily family riot.
May I lie back and not have to think
About what they're stuffing down the sink,
Or who they're with, or where they're at
And what they're doing to the cat.

I pray for time all to myself
(did something just fall off a shelf?)

To cuddle in my nice, soft bed
(Oh no, another goldfish--dead!)

Some silent moments for goodness sake
(Did I just hear a window break?)

And that I need not cook or clean
(well heck, I've got the right to dream)

Yes now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my wits about me keep,
But as I look around I know,
I must have lost them long ago!

Author Unknown

And this last one I loved so much that I printed it out, matted and framed it. I hung it in my bathroom so I pass it several times a day. :)



Though I lecture and harp at my children and have not love, I will be background noise to rebellious thoughts.

And though I wisely warn them not to use the street as a playground, or they'll be killed; and though I patiently explain why snails live in mobile homes, and I give endless answers to life's other mysteries; and though I have faith that can remove mountains of ignorance - yet never hug my children - I have taught nothing.

And though I slave over a steaming stove with balanced diets and complicated recipes and even burn my fingers - yet never smile as I serve - I have not really fed them.

A truly loving mother suffers through unfinished sentences, clutter, nicks on furniture, sleepless nights and adolescent insults, and is kind enough to think her kids are the greatest. A loving mother tries not to resent her children for being free like she used to be, and she doesn't brag about how she never talked to her mom that way.

Real love considers a childish nightmare more urgent than her need for sleep; is not shattered by the title "Meanest Mom"; doesn't shame a toddler who breaks training or a teen who still spills milk; steadfastly refuses to entertain visions of escape; and does not smirk as her child trips over the toy he refused to put away (but with silent wisdom rejoices in the effective lessons of experience).

Mother-love has arms strong from lifting, a heart large with believing, a mind stretched with hoping, shoulders soft with enduring, and knees bent with committing.

True mother-love never fails to point her child to the Author of Love.

Susan L. Lenzkes

And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


In church for the last few weeks we've been going through the book of Acts and this past Sunday saw us in Acts 3-4. At the beginning of chapter 3 we find Peter and John heading to the Synagogue to pray when they are flagged down by a lame man who wanted alms from them. If you've read the story you'll remember that this where Peter stated "Silver and Gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!" A very cool, very bold statement since it would be kind of embarrassing if nothing happened.

But the guy was healed and began jumping around praising God. At least he got it right! The others in the story, when they heard about it tried to worship Peter and John and had to be corrected. (Though this was a very nice segue for Peter right into the gospel message. Gotta love Peter! :) )

There were some things here that our pastor pointed out that I hadn't caught before. The first thing being that Peter and John were flexible to the direction of the Lord. Their agenda was to go pray, God's agenda saw a lame man healed and hundreds of people saved. They set aside their plans for the day in favor of doing what the Lord put before them and saw some serious fruit as a result.

They didn't get to enjoy the success for very long before trouble came calling though. As soon as the spiritual muckety-mucks got wind of what was going on they tried to put a stop to it. They grabbed Peter and John and dragged them before the Sanhedrin and tried to shut them up.

This being Peter he gave them a sermon too! Really, gotta love Peter!

The religious leaders wanted them to stop teaching or even speaking about Jesus and there was just no way they could do that. I wonder if at some point Peter and John realized they were beginning to walk in their Lord's footsteps? Did it embolden them? Strike fear in their hearts? Maybe a little of both? At any rate, Peter wasn't about to be bossed around by these guys, persecution or not! His response to them was, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts 4:19-20

All of that was good but there was one thing Pastor Doug said that really arrested me. He asked, "Is your tribulation worth the salvation of another man's soul?"

I've spent a couple of days turning that question over and over in my mind and came up with a couple of more questions for myself.

Will I be obedient to what He's asked me to do? Even if it causes me to be uncomfortable or tosses me into tribulation of my own? Will I set myself aside for the sake of another? And the one that really got me; What effect does my disobedience have on those around me?

In the text if Peter and John had not turned aside they would have missed the opportunity to heal the lame man. Yes, God is God and His will won't be thwarted but it still would have had an impact on the lame guy and by extension the people who gave their lives to the Lord as a result of Peter's speech. At the minimum they would have had to wait for the next guy to come along and who knows what could have happened in the interim.

We just don't know what kind of an impact our response to God is going to have on those around us. In thinking all of this through the Lord reminded me of a lesson He taught me a few years ago. No body's salvation was at stake but it was a lesson in obeying even when I didn't want to and it did impact my marriage from that day until now. You don't want to know what it was do you? ;)

The argument began the way most of our arguments do I suppose; one of us didn't get our way and protested. However it began, I will never forget how it ended. We were in the car with all the kids headed across the Trestle into Everett. I remember it being a warm, sunny day out but it was pretty frigid in the car. Both of us stared straight ahead, wrapped up in our own private thoughts and refusing to acknowledge each other.

Being the spiritual one I was talking to the Lord. Okay, I was whining like a petulant two year old. "Lord he . . . whine, whine, whine!"

I knew the Lord wanted me to reach across the center console and take Jon's hand but the way I was trying to get out of it you'd have though He'd asked me to put my hand into a running meat grinder! I did not want to do it so I continued to "pray"; "But Lord he....!"

Will you do it for me?

Oh that cut deep! That quiet question posed to my heart, would I reach out to my husband simply because He asked me to? All of the fight drained right out of me and I reached across and took Jon's hand in my own. As soon as I did I saw the fight leave him too. We both apologized, dealt with whatever it was we were arguing over and peace was restored in our family.

I have no idea what that fight was about and I don't remember what I whined to the Lord about my husband. I remember His quiet question and the effect it had on my heart though. He convicted me and I was able to repent to Him and then to my husband. My obedience (finally) in that situation restored peace in my marriage.

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1

It's not always easy to obey though, is it? We want our way, especially if we feel we've been wronged. We want justice! We want vindication! We want our own way.

I have found though that if I simply come clean with the Lord and ask Him for help in obeying Him, He gives it.

Pretty simple isn't it? He knows what I'm thinking anyway so it's not like I will surprise Him if I say I don't want to do what He's asked. I'm not saying talk to Him like you're a spoiled little kid! He is God Almighty and deserves respect but He does love you and wants to help.

So ask Him.

Ask for the strength to obey when you've exhausted your own. Ask for His heart for that person you just don't want to love. Ask Him to help you set aside your agenda when He wants to change your plans. Ask Him for boldness to stand firm and speak His word in the face of persecution, that's what Peter and John did.

"I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And your law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8

Friday, February 13, 2009

Excuse me, do you validate?

When I was pregnant with Gracie my doctor's office was at a local hospital. I always parked off campus and just walked over for the exercise and because I hate navigating parking garages. Oh, and I didn't want to have to pay for parking. :)

It was my first encounter with the practice of "validating" parking. I hadn't realized until they explained it to me at the desk that if I parked in the garage and had my parking validated by the doctor's office it would be free to me. They just need to give a stamp or sticker to affirm that you were there for a valid reason and not just scamming a parking space I guess. I never did go into the garage to park, it was just easier to continue to park across the street.

Sometimes I would like to be validated anyway.

I looked up the word and it means:
1. to make valid, substantiate, confirm;
2. to give legal force to; legalize
3. to give official sanction, confirmation, or approval to

and some of the synonyms are attest, authenticate, back, bear out, corroborate, evidence, justify, substantiate, testify, verify, warrant, confirm.

I've spent a lot of time searching for that validation. I tried getting it from people, thinking they would see something in me that I hoped was there but feared wasn't. I've fished for compliments and tried to look like I know a lot or at least like I was a teensy bit cooler than I am.

I've tried to find it in different roles I've held hoping the act of volunteering or having a job worth bragging about would somehow make me feel better about who I was and what I was doing.

I've tried to find it in stuff thinking that the accumulation of better stuff would satisfy me and make people go "She's okay!"

I tried finding it by losing weight and looking better because you know you're not anything unless you look like a supermodel.

No matter what course of action I took it seemed I could never find a peace about who I was. It's especially hard when you are surrounded by people who seem to be gifted at whatever they touch! Ever know someone like that? No matter what they try it turns out golden? Makes you kind of sick doesn't it? ;)

Everytime I would place my hope for validation in men or the things of men I would find myself not only lacking validation, but on many occasions feeling worse about myself than I had in the first place!

And yet I was foolish enough to try it again, and again, and again.

2 Corinthians 10:12 says, "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves are not wise. "

I looked up the Greek for that word wise and it means "not mentally put together".

Um, yeah.

So now what? Where do I go from here?

I have to look to Christ alone for my validation. He is the only One with the authority to "stamp my card" as paid in full. He not only paid the price for me but now He imputes His righteousness to me.

That is such a nice, short little sentence to type but not so easy to live out when you've conditioned yourself to seek the praises of men! Or when you have been living with the fear of men so long you don't recognize that you can live without it. Fear of rejection, fear of failing, fear of not being good enough, they're all ways my mind has been conditioned over the years and they're hard habits to break.

But there is hope.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7

He also says in 1 John 4 that perfect love casts out fear. These aren't magic bullets that will automatically release me from this way of thinking but they are a start. God doesn't want me in bondage to fear so it's reasonable to believe that He has provided the antidote, right?

He has.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 2:2

If we read, memorize and meditate on scripture, scripture that is God's message to each one of us, then we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds. He will change my way of thinking if I let Him. I need to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8

So what is true about me according to God's Word?

I am loved (John 3:16)
I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am God's temple (1 Cor 3:16)
I have been justified (Rom 5:1)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor 3:9)
I am complete in Christ (Col 2:10)
I am God's workmanship (Eph 2:10)
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor 6:17)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God) (Eph 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col 1:14)
I am the salt and light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation (Rom 8:1-2)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom 8:31-34)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3:20)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph 2:6)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom 8:28)
I have a future and a hope. He has plans for me. (Jer 29:11)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph 3:12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15:1-5)
I am confident the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil 1:5)

I'm not there yet, I still struggle with those old ways of thinking but I am learning how He sees me and I finally know Who validates me.

*Special thanks to Bill and Glory's Haven for letting me steal your list. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I had decided that I would put up a new post every day this week since I haven't been very good about it but let's just be honest here, I'm a little bit lazy! :D (Well, that and I have four kids I'm trying to homeschool and one of them is wrestling her math so I have to be available. ) I decided that for today I would repost one of my favorite things I've written. It's a few years old but I remember that camping trip like it was yesterday. And since I don't have much in the way of readership who's going to complain?! :P Besides, I'm just doing my part to go green and recycle! :)


For days the air had been hot and heavy, pressing down on us like a thick blanket that left us breathless and lethargic. So when the breeze started we welcomed it. It skittered through the campsite like a playful child, flipping the pages of my book until my place was hopelessly lost but I didn't care. The cool breeze ruffling through my hair made me feel as if I were awakening from a dream that had lasted far too long.

All through the camp people were coming out of their trances. Suddenly kids on bikes were everywhere and adults were walking about chattering like they hadn’t seen each other for days.

I wanted to enjoy the turn in the weather but deep inside me a warning was going off. Something was urging me to clean up the campsite. The strong pull to get everything put away and batten down the hatches didn’t seem to fit with the gentle breeze and cloudless blue sky but I couldn’t ignore it.

I hadn’t been cleaning more than a few minutes before I noticed clouds skittering by overhead. The urgency inside me grew and I worked faster. Then someone reported thunder and lightening down by the lake. This news kicked everyone into high gear; tarps were thrown over tents, campsites secured, children and pets were rounded up and tucked inside.

Before we had fully tied the tarps down the first fat drops began to fall. It had gone from hot, still weather to windy torrential rains in less than 20 minutes. We sat huddled in the tent listening to the thunder roll for over an hour.

Finally, the rains eased and the thunder rumbled off in the distance but the wind was reluctant to leave. No longer the gentle breeze that had playfully ruffled my hair, it was now in a full blown tantrum. The tall pines overhead danced and swayed, waving their branches as if in wild applause.

The day was chased away by the fast approaching darkness but the wind still would not subside. As night fell we snuggled the little ones into the tent and settled down by the fire. I usually find evenings at camp to be soothing and peaceful but this night the wind tormented the flames, whipping and swirling them around, blowing hot acrid smoke in our faces before flinging it off into the blackness somewhere along with my peace.

In that dense darkness I could hear the trees creaking and groaning with every blast from the unrelenting wind. Finally, one could take it no longer and we heard it crack then fall with a loud crash somewhere in the inky black night.

I’m sure my eyes were wide with the terror I felt because Jon immediately tried to sooth me. He wanted to go make sure the others were safe but the thought of him disappearing into the darkness caused all of my insides to twist into knots. Finally, though I was reluctant to let him go, concern for our friends won out.

As I watched the beam of his flashlight disappear into the night the huge black void pressed in and surrounded me. I was small and vulnerable, helpless against the power of the wind that lashed about me. I sat there in the dark, alone and afraid.

“Be anxious for nothing.”

The whispered thought crept into my mind amidst the frenzied thoughts of crashing trees and smashed tents. I tried to grab it but I was being tossed wildly about by the fears whirling through my head.

“Be still.”

Though again it was only a quiet whisper the words seemed to carry all His strength and power. Suddenly, the storm that raged in me was calmed and His peace flooded my soul. I was no longer at the mercy of the storm. Instead I saw myself as a tiny flame that was cupped in large strong hands, protected from the wind.

There are so many storms that blow through our lives and most of them are unexpected. We’re just going along enjoying the sunshine and out of the blue the thunder rolls, the lightening flashes and the wind tries to tear us apart. Our minds whirl with fear and doubt and we wait anxiously for the dawn, wondering if it will ever come.

When the night is black and closing in on you, remember He is near. With but a word He created all that we see. With a whisper He can calm the storm or the child caught in it. His love for you is more powerful than the fiercest gale and He cares for His own, whether they are huddled by a campfire or wandering in the dark.

I was lulled to sleep that night by the sound of the same wind that moments before had terrified me.

I know One who is bigger than the storm.

“My soul, wait silently for God alone,
For my expectation is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation;
He is my defense;
I shall not be moved.

In God is my salvation and my glory;
The rock of my strength,
And my refuge, is in God.

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.”

Psalm 62:5-8

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Josh!

Today Joshua is a manly 9 years old! The last year he will be single digits. Today he will say "It's my birthday!" but tomorrow he'll probably be telling people he's "almost 10!"

Isn't it ironic that when you're a kid all you want is to be older but when you're older you wish you were a bit younger? Or at least that you felt a bit younger?

When I was a kid I hated nap time and bed time, now I long for it! When did, "Do you want to go to bed early?" become a promise instead of a threat?

Or how about time out? "Do you need a time out?"

YES! Please, oh please send me to my room!

We have a few birthday traditions around here that we'll be doing for Josh today. One is you get to choose dinner on your birthday. It can be whatever the birthday person wants.

What did Josh choose? Well his dad can rock a barbecue so it's no surprise that he chose bbq'd ribs! I think the Lord gave Jon a gift too because the sun is out and that will make his job much more pleasant. Nothing like barbecuing in the rain (or snow! He's done both.) In addition to the ribs Josh requested potato chips and brussel sprouts sauteed in a little bit of olive oil.

He's a weird kid but then I love brussel sprouts too so he comes by it naturally. (Did I just admit I'm weird? Don't answer that!)

Another tradition we have is they pick the type of cake they want and I build it right up to the basic coat of frosting. Then they pick a couple of colors and I set up the frosting bags and tips. They decorate their own cake however they want it. Lots of fun for them and I don't have to do it. :) I started this because they keep wanting these big elaborate cakes when they have a party but they also get one on their birthday. I really don't have it in me to do the whole production twice and they always want in on the action. This way we're both happy. :)

My very favorite birthday tradition is one we started a few years ago. We all take turns praying a blessing on the birthday person. Jon starts it since he's the Dad and head of the family, then it goes to me and on around the table until everyone has had a chance to pray. I love hearing my husband pray blessings on his children! He prays for their character and integrity, for wisdom and discernment, that the Lord would reveal Himself to them and they would seek and serve the Lord all the days of their lives and whatever else comes to his mind. It's really beautiful and I think the kids treasure it as much as we do. We all get our turn but my favorite is listening to Jon. :)

It took us a year before I became pregnant with Josh and during that time I prayed a lot for a son. I remember being a little bit discouraged at one point and then giving my desire for a boy up to the Lord. I decided to leave it in His hands and be content with the two daughters I already had if that's all He wanted to give me. I finished praying that morning then opened my bible to Psalm 127:

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Verses 3-5 really comforted me that day and I knew I was going to have a son. I believed it was a promise from God. I found out I was pregnant on Father's Day. It was pretty cool to tell Jon he was going to be a daddy again on that day. :) Later an ultrasound revealed that I was in fact having a boy and Jon was ecstatic!

Later, when I was in the hospital after having had my son our pastor at the time came to visit us. Jon had gone for something to eat so it was just me and Josh when he and his wife came in. We chatted for a couple of minutes then he pulled out his bible. He told me he'd been praying for us that morning and that the Lord had given him a verse for us; Psalm 127:3-5. He had no idea what that meant to me but the Lord Himself had just reminded me of His promise and I was so blessed!

Nine years later, though at times I am vexed and perplexed by this boy, I am still blessed. I don't understand his need to side kick everything in his path (and we're working on curtailing that!) I swear the boy has an entire sound effects department in his head and he drives me nuts at times but he is also charming, sweet, compassionate and has a definite sense of justice.

His name is Joshua and it means "The Lord is salvation." May he always remember that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Several months ago I, along with everyone else it seems, created a Facebook profile. I had it for a few months but didn't really get into it. I think it was mostly because I was so busy I just didn't want one more thing taking up my time. Once we realized we would be making a change I decided to delete my profile rather than have people wondering what to do with me once I'd left. I didn't want anyone to worry about whether it was mean to delete me even though they never spoke to me or saw me anymore.

I was pretty glad to do it because like I said, I was super busy and just really didn't want to deal with it. All the poking and sending of little gifts, it seemed like every time I signed on I had about a million notifications to deal with. So I went offline in that respect and never intended to go back on.

Yeah, well, that didn't last very long because every family member and friend I have continuously asked me if I was "on Facebook." Nope, I was the last human in the United States who didn't have a profile it seemed!

I'm ?? years old and I gave in to peer pressure!

Yeah, I got all signed back up with a new e-mail so I didn't cause the problem I'd hoped to avoid the first time. Got my profile set up, put some pictures up and found a few people to be my friend. I think I had maybe four that first day and they were all related to me. At first I wanted to be totally incognito and not let anyone know I was on but then I kind of figured that defeated the purpose so I loosened my controls up a little bit.

Very, very quickly I began having things thrown at me (meatpies, Obama, Michael Phelps, groundhogs, etc.) I was also wrapped in bubble wrap, drop kicked, I was slapped with a trout, fought crime with someone and flashdanced with someone else. I've been given chocolates, strawberries, cupcakes, cocoa; I'm so glad these are all virtual and I don't have to count calories for them!

I have even adopted a pet dragon that I named Dibl and have to spend some time playing with him or he gets very sad. I also have to play with the pets that belong to my friends because it would just be rude not to.

One thing that's gotten me this time around is just how small Facebook (and apps. like it) make the world. I'm connected to family and friends in several different states as well as other countries. People I would only e-mail occasionally before I now converse with several times a week. (I'm really enjoying that part!) I've also reconnected with people I haven't talked to in 10 - 15 years! People I used to go to church with and lost touch, people who were friends years ago that I haven't kept in contact's been very fun in that respect.

Today while I was waiting for my bread to autolyse (read; while I was wasting time) I started searching around. On a whim I decided to search for my old Junior High and it turns out there is already a group! I didn't join but I did spend some time poking around.

It brought back a lot of memories! I was there in the mid-eighties when were were just finishing up our disco phase and going into the flashdance phase. I remember it being all big hair and braces, bell bottoms (do you remember Seattle Blues and Normandy Rose jeans?) and bare shoulders. I sacrificed several sweatshirts so I could look that cool! We had Duran Duran, Culture Club, could we not be cool?!

Ok, flashback is over. I really don't have anything spiritual or insightful to say here. I'm going to go read that verse about "redeeming the time" now. :D

But first I have to feed my dragon...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Do I trust you Lord, when I don't know "Why"?

I was in Half Price books one day and picked up the Hans Christian Anderson’s Complete Book of Fairy Tales. As I was flipping through it on the ride home I happened upon a story about a mother whose child was dying. In the story a man knocks at her door and she lets him in. After he’s seated himself she goes to get him some food but when she comes back into the room not only is he gone but he’s taken her dying child as well.

The mother goes outside to find him and is told that he was death and had taken her child. For most of the rest of the story she’s not only chasing him down but she’s also trading various parts of herself for information on where he’s taken her child. She gives her hair, her eyes and so on because nothing is more important to her than regaining the life of her child. Finally she’s told that the lives of all people are stored in this green house and that she will know the plant that represents her child by listening for its heartbeat. She did find hers and when death showed up to “replant” her child into a new garden she threatened to uproot all the other plants to save her child.

Death explained to her that he only did what he did at God’s bidding and could not do otherwise. The mother argued so death, having retrieved her eyes for her had her look into a well that showed the future of two lives, one of which was her child’s. One life was full of hope and promise, the other was bleak, dark and very unhappy. So unhappy that the mother was finally willing to let go of her child if it meant sparing her from that kind of a future.

It was a sad, strange story that captured my attention and wouldn't let me go until I'd finished reading it.

After reflecting on the story for awhile I came to realize that we are often just like the mother in the story. Whether it's my child or something going on in my life I tend to want to control the situation. Sometimes the pain seems unbearable and I don't understand why I'm going through what I am, or why my loved one is suffering the way they are.

As far as this story is concerned, I know if it were my child I would probably follow the same path she did. I thought the story, while strange, was a very good illustration of why we need to choose to trust God even when we don't understand. Or maybe it should read; "especially when we don't understand." He sees the big picture and while some of the things that enter our lives are painful, He can be trusted.

These are not things He just missed and let slip through! No, anything in your life whether you perceive it as good or bad, has been allowed for a specific purpose.

We have to be very careful that we don’t confuse the true and living God of the bible with the soft, squishy marshmallow god of this world. The world wants a god who is molded to the shape they want him to take. They want a god of good times who will make everything easy and smooth. The god of least resistance, but this false god of smooth roads, upbeat outcomes and personal happiness is not real.

The true and living God is nothing like this false idol, He is far bigger, someone much greater!

For the True, Incarnate and Almighty God has never spared his people from pain and hardship if there were greater things to be gained.

Jesus never promised to help us avoid life’s storms but to be with us in the midst of them.

Jesus never promised Mary and Martha that their brother would not die, but He did promise that He himself was the resurrection and the life.

He never promised that we would not hunger, but He did promise to be the Bread of Life.

God never promised to keep his people out of the fiery furnace but rather to show up when the flames burned their hottest.

The Biblical God, the Incarnate God, our redeeming God, our merciful God never said that He would save us from the storm, but He did promise to be with us through the storm.

Some promises He did make to us . . .

“Lo, I am with you always”,
“let not your heart be troubled”,
“I will never leave you nor forsake you”,
“let not your hearts be afraid. Believe in God, Believe in Me.”

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

His goodness may not always manifest itself as we think it should but it is always perfect and exactly what we need. And then we have the joy and the privilege of giving that comfort away...

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Crown

Sunday morning...busy, rushed, with four kids to get up and ready, sometimes chaotic. That is how this particular Sunday began. We had rushed through the morning and my brain was still in that hurried mode even though now we were nearing the end of the church service.

As I sat in the very back of the room I vaguely remember the pastor saying something about tossing our crowns at the feet of Jesus. Now in my defense, I was listening but we were preparing for communion and I was already focused on it. When the pastor mentioned throwing our crowns though I thought, "My crown is looking pretty beat up Lord."

It was one of those half hearted comments that I sincerely felt but didn't really think the Lord would address.

I was wrong.

As I sat there with my head in my hands, feeling so discouraged, I suddenly saw a scene far different than the back of that church. I was surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of people and every single one of them had in their hands a beautiful crown. One by one they were tossing them in a big pile and just beyond that pile were feet. I didn't dare look up at the face that belonged to those feet, I knew without looking whose they were...

I looked down at my hands where I too held a crown, my crown. It was the saddest looking thing I have ever seen. Tears sprang to my eyes as I took in the cracked plastic and the chipped, tarnished paint. In places the dull plastic "jewels" had completely fallen out leaving ugly black holes.

How, oh how could I give this awful thing to Him?!!

But I had nothing else to give Him.

I tried to hide among all the those people. I held my "crown" behind me hoping against hope that He wouldn't see it. I could feel the panic rising in me as I realized there was no way out of it, I had to put it on the pile with all those real crowns. Sure that my fake, dollar store looking piece of trash was going to stick out like a sore thumb. I tossed it, deliberately throwing it on the side of the pile closest to me hoping He would miss it in favor of another, far more worthy crown.

He didn't.

Though I hadn't even been looking at His feet I sensed that they were moving. Stealing a furtive glance toward the throne, I could see that I was right; He had gotten up and was

I stood perfectly still hoping that those in front of me were keeping me hidden from His view. He stooped down and picked the crown up, turning it over in His hands a few times as He studied it. I hadn't known that it was possible for it to look any uglier than it had but against His beautiful hands it was the most hideous thing I had ever seen! Then He began walking straight to me. I kept my gaze trained on the ground, I simply couldn't bear the thought of what I would read in His eyes. His feet stopped and I could feel Him looking at the top of my head. I knew He wanted me to look at Him and I tried in vain to fight it. Finally, I could stand it no longer and I slowly shifted my gaze upward. Past His hands holding the ugly crown, up His face until finally my eyes met His.

I did not see what I had expected.

His eyes were kind and crinkled ever so slightly at the edges in a gentle smile. Instead of the reproach and condemnation that I had feared I saw empathy, compassion and most of all an overwhelming love. I could scarcely breath as I stood there, lost in His gaze. I was in awe of Him and His response to me.

Finally, He dropped his eyes back down to His hands. Oh how I hated the thought of looking there again! I knew He wanted me to though and I couldn't resist Him. I tore my eyes away from His face and gasped when I saw what He held.

Where my ugly, broken crown had been now rested the most exquisitely made crown I had ever seen. Clean, sparkling...with the most intricate workmanship imaginable. Every detail was perfect! And the jewels? Oh the jewels!! Clear and shimmering they almost seemed to have a life of their own!

He held the crown out to me and with trembling hands I reached out to take it back from Him. As He placed it in my hands I realized that my life was like that crown. Left in my own hands it would never be what it could be, what it was meant to be until, placed in His. Freely given to Him though, He will change it into something wonderful, something I never would have expected.

My eyes refocused on the elements of communion resting in my hands and I was overcome with His generosity once again. I have never had a sweeter time of communion.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

Friday, February 06, 2009

Coming back...

I'm working on a blog post, I just can't get the thoughts in my head to become the right words on the page! So, until I do I thought I'd post a quick little quote I picked up somewhere. It's a good reminder to me. And I promise, I'm working on a new post. :)

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny..