Friday, December 16, 2011

The Heretic

I am posting early because I will be taking a break from blogging until January. My Christmas break starts today. I am going to be sleeping late, spending tons of time with family and friends and resting (after I give the house a scrub today).

The parting shot for 2011 from old dove is this: I am a Christmas cultural Heretic.

I quietly refuse to do the "elf on the shelf". Yes, you heard me right. He does not perch anywhere in my home, beadily watching my children to ensure their good behavior. He does not move about my home to keep them on their toes, or engage in cute antics during the night. He will not lose all his "magic" because someone touched him. Our door is firmly locked to the fellow.

Now on trend Mom's know that this elfin critter is essential to true holiday "magic". Also reindeer food, north pole parties and various other mystical things.

Now for the really deep dark confession.

WE DON'T DO SANTA. Dun, Dun, Dun!

Yes, now you are picturing my children in a dark vast landscape of gray, peeking from the bleak windows of a ramshackle black Victorian right?

Here's my deal. When it comes to holiday "magic" if by magic you mean wonder, awe, surprise, memories, joy, etc...I am  totally with you. We have many traditions designed to inspire those: Red and Green Friday after Thanksgiving when we decorate the house and each child gets a new surprise ornament, Our advent calendar filled with new different candies each day and the rule that anyone caught peaking will forfeit his or her candy to their sibling, Reading/singing the twelve days of Christmas for all 12 days prior to Christmas (the book does each day in cookies which we love), caroling to neighbors who don't get out much, making a shoe box gift for a needy child where my kids pick all the gifts, Christmas programs at church and school, night drives to see the lights, trips to a local store that has a Christmas carousel and Christmas morning opening gifts we give each other to celebrate the birth of Christ.

They seem pretty sparkly eyed and excited to me.

If you also mean by magic- setting up colossal expectations that depend on twisting the truth into real life fairy tales then, you lost me.

The truth can be just as much fun.
Why are we not happy with the truth and doubt it's good enough? Imagination and creativity are plenty useful in real life.

St. Nick- (a great guy, who does inspire me to give gifts at the holidays) is someone my kids know of historically. They are taught to respect each families choice and never force what they know on another child. They have done it pretty well, I think.

A child with realistic expectations, room for imagination, and lots of love is a blessed child.
A child who will have to face life realizing that nothing will ever match up with the dreams of childhood, has an up hill climb. It's not the tradition of Santa that will do that, it's parents who mistakenly believe that any challenge or disappointment is bad.

I won't rat out your Santa if you don't call me the Grinch ;).

No matter how you celebrate it, I sincerely hope Christ is more real and meaningful to you this year than ever. Merry Christmas!



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Worth it

Survived Nutcracker weekend. Beautiful to see, long to be a stage mom for.


As the above picture illustrates: worth it.



Thought about something a friend said a week or two ago.
She is seeing the whole, "relationship with Jesus" thing through the eyes of someone who is new to all of it.
Sometimes she says the most profound things. I think it's because she's still childlike in her faith- hope she stays that way!

She is someone who has struggled with seeking relief in alcohol in the past. She said recently she went to a party and when she reached for a second glass she felt the tug of conviction. The sure sensation that this was not a wise choice. She said it made her heart jump a little to realize the Holy Spirit was right there with her and she was so happy.

I surely felt that same tug when she said that. How did I view conviction?

Usually I feel like a failure when I feel conviction. I feel like that loser that still needs her hand slapped after years of knowing better.

Truth is, my heart jumped a little at her view. Conviction means He's here, right here, right in this body with me. Wow! 

Looking for a sign, looking for that little something to carry you on? Conviction means, He is right there with you, loving you, caring for you, pleading with you to trust Him.

Proverbs 3:12
"For whom the Lord loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights."

So please take my friend's outlook and see the good in all that God does and how greatly it outweighs the wrong that we do. God help me to joyfully learn from and receive it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

So you screamed yourself hoarse?

This weekend we went to the local Renaissance festival. My kids really enjoy the children's theater there because you can get on stage and act out roles.


The catch is you have to scream the loudest to get the role.


Not a problem for my family.
Last year both my son and my daughter out screamed teenagers to easily win the lead roles.


This year my son decided to lay low but my daughter was determined to have a part and old Dad decided he should get in on the act.


Dad bellowed the loudest bad guy growl he could muster, resulting in His being cast as the evil sheriff of Nottingham.




Failing to secure the Maid Marion or Nun role, my daughter proceeded to win the Little John role.




Let's just say nothing says little John like my daughter in a muscle vest.




My husband proceeded to scream/ roar his heart out for the whole play. He turned twelve shade of red and proved that he does nothing half hearted.


He literally has no voice two days later. A big 6ft 3" guy whispering and squeaking like a school girl.


Sometimes in life I feel like that, I have gotten so invested in something I am left totally drained. I do that with so many situations you would think I believe the intensity of my desire was what would transform lives and make changes.


News flash- it isn't. I need to chill and rest in the knowledge that God knows how deeply I want to see certain things happen. In my case it's to see His name lifted high and glorified in our community.


I need to rest in His mastery of the universe and the human heart or I will end up all stretched out of shape like my hubby's vocal chords.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Red and Green Friday

I don't do Black Friday. Lately when I say that I feel like I just stood up in a Twelve step meeting and said "My name is ... and I don't do Black Friday".
Everyone rushes to tell me how to remedy my condition, about how amazing 10, 12 or 24 straight hours of shopping really is.
If only people coul hear what you think while they are talking. Admittedly murder would increase but, Wow would we have to clean up our thoughts. Needless to say I don't agree on the fun factor of such an adventure. If I cannot find it cheaper on the internet or a quiet non holiday store morning, I don't really need it.


I dearly treasure my Red and Green Friday. That's the day our family decorates our house for Christmas.

our Tree

I was pretty excited to tell the kids we got two small trees for them ($10 4ft'ers from Family dollar). They collect an ornament each year. My daughter gets a nutcracker or ballerina and my son gets an M&M ornment. I on the other hand, love gingerbread ornments. We all had a good time and appreciated the finished results.
Okay, maybe the cat thought it was a bit much.


I once saw a gingerbread ornament with the phrase "Jesus warms my heart" on it and something clicked for me. It just seemed to capture how I feel the whole month of December. Snuggly, home, music, family, worship, sharing love with others, warm food, etc... all the great things about celebrating the birth of Christ.

I do struggle with wanting to spend too much money in all this. Finding that elusive gift- not expensive but also useful, not tiresomely hard to make but heartfelt, something just right. Trying not to "Martha Stewart" the house because I do know that's really not the point.

I have a pretty cool idea for hand painted ornaments next year, that might keep me on the straight and narrow.

I have nothing to complain about, my Red and Green Friday was great.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The list

Like the little tike, who at Thanksgiving dinner proceeds to give the 10 minute thank you prayer, mentioning things like socks and glue sticks right along with Grandpa and food- I take up the gauntlet to do a top 20 of the most random and monumental things I am thankful for.


20. Rain- especially when it means my beloved plants will be flourishing because of it.
19. Cats, Dogs, fish, birds, all those sweet animals that share our lives and remind us what pure trust looks like.
18. Sisters- enough said
17. blue jeans- enough said
16. songs that make me cry, dance, or otherwise experience life.
15. calculators
14. My kids for a zillion reasons and a zillion more.
13. Books
12. My husband for a zillion reasons and his beard.
11. Cable knit cotton
10. 100 year event 6 " of snow that looked like a white miracle.
9. The beach
8. Parents like http://www.kellehampton.com/ and Michelle Duggar. Make me stretch ladies.
7. Valentine cards
6. Friends who know you and yet still love you
5. Snuggly bed covers
4. a father who never lets Parkinsons have the last word and a mother who encouraged me to talk- a lot
3. Cheesecake in all flavors
2. My family by baptism all over the world.
1. Christ, The Holy Spirit and God the Father


Seriously sometimes Grandpa and the gluestick just need to be appreciated at the same time.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Bio-suit is Malfunctioning

Your body, you get pretty attached to it.
It sees you through all the early stuff like learning to walk, run, ride a bike, etc...
You have parts you like and parts you want to see a plastic surgeon about.
I am a nature person so I occasionally see my body as something like a Jeep, getting me up hills and across streams to cool places my brain can have a vacation in .

For the past few weeks my jeep has been running on empty.
I don't know if it's sinuses or the medication I take for sinuses but I am so tired, which for me is very weird.
I am hyper normally. A cleaner, an organizer, a gal on the go.
Lately I just want to take a nap. Sit still and pet the cat. My patience which is not famous, is on low ebb.

My mechanic ran all the diagnostics and every thing seems to be in running order.
Funny how easy it is to forget how useful the old Bio-suit is.
I have a great one. My whole life I have been speeding along with little maintenance.
Could it be that 35 years is a mile stone for Bio-suits?
Could it be that the man above is reminding me that one day far in the future (hopefully) I will have to trade in this bio-suit because it will be worn out?
That what stirs deep inside me is far more important that what contains it?

To all those who operate with only partially functional bio-suits- God has power for living.
Don't let your vehicle define you.

I tip my hat to these lovely souls:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc4HGQHgeFE
or
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Foffh-gneRs

Monday, November 7, 2011

Here I am up too late

A.) I hate it when I don't have a picture for the post. I hate it worse than not having a really good subject. Hey, I'm visual.

B.) Realized this week, I am not the Holy Spirit. 
Why, what a blasphemous thing to think you were!?!!

Well, I may not have thought it but I sure act like it at times. 
If I could just say the right thing, If I could just do the right thing, If I could just stir the church to action, lives would be changed.
Screech... that's that slamming of mental breaks right there.
I do not stir to action- the Holy Spirit does.
I do not transform lives- He does.
I do not create opportunities-He does.

I do have to be obedient, faithful and sincere in my worship.

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

Sounds like a lifestyle of worship.
Lord, let me worship you in each action I take, each word I say, each choice I make.

And if that leads me in a head on collision with your Holy Spirit as He is stirring souls, transforming lives and creating opportunities- Thank you!

I am weak and poor but all I have is yours.

PS- evidence of my weakness: before spell check it read blasphomouse (yes, four innocent mice blasted).

Monday, October 31, 2011

The 6 month rule

Someone told me this, I have no recollection who, but it really made an impression on me and I still use it to this day.

"If it will not matter in 6 months, do not get angry about it"

I have found this to be an excellent ruler in my life to measure the anger worth of something. It helps to actually think about what date 6 months from now is. Today it would be around May 2012. Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and you are bitterly crouched in a corner grinding your teeth about what Joe said in November. Hope not.

Husband forgets to video daughter and mother solo at church- irksome but in 6 months I can promise you I will have forgotten.

Lucky for ole hubs I have a terrible memory.

Now, by angry I mean the kind of "be angry and sin not" type deal.

Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger

My take on this is- address the issue if you know it's a 6 monther, if not forgive and forget.

Your child sasses you and disrespects you- Trust me in 6 months if left unaddressed it will be much more of a problem for you then.

Heck, most anybody who is disrespecting you openly probably needs a verbal stop sign put up without malice.

My only disclaimer is that you have to seek God's council on what should matter in 6th months because if in 6 months you are still stewing about Aunt Susie using your decorative towels to wipe her dirty hands then the problem may not be with Aunt Susie. Just saying.
Only be as prickly as you actually need to be.
 


Monday, October 24, 2011

Tolerance

I recently heard a speaker talking about the difference in tolerating someone and loving them. It made a big impression on me.

I don't know about you but I would much rather be loved rather than tolerated.
Yet, I realized I often tolerate people rather than loving them.

I suspect God would not have commanded us to love people if the loving depended on something outside of us. If their behavior, hygiene, religion, intelligence, charisma or temperament were key, His command would have been to be lovable not to love.

I came up with some signs that you are tolerating a person rather than loving them.
I have to ask myself:
  • Am I suppressing my underlying dislike of this person to interact with them socially?- that's tolerance not love
  • Do I feel an internal cringe instead of a grin when they walk into the room?- that's tolerance not love
  • Is it almost impossible to find a positive comment to make about this person or to formulate a prayer for them?- that's tolerance not love
  • Do I have unexpressed doubts they can ever experience the love of God? that's tolerance not love.
and finally
  • Do I treat them with kindness out of guilt or duty? that's tolerance not love.
Here's what I know about me:
I don't have the capacity to transform Tolerance into Love.
I don't even desire to transform it most of the time. It just seems like too much work.

Here's what I know about God:
He has the capacity to transform Tolerance into blindingly beautiful Love.
He desires deeply to do that and He only needs an open door into a heart to do all the work.

I have been thinking about this for 2 weeks and I have a feeling I will be thinking about it for years to come.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday's Child

My husband celebrated his birthday yesterday and it was a day of contrasts.
I was up pretty late the night before.
Here he is innocently sleeping 30 minutes before his birthday- (he's going to love that I posted this picture).



That picture is pretty symbolic of our relationship. He is definitely the more innocent, unsuspecting, goodhearted one. I have a kooky sense of humor, devious thought processes and a good nature that depends on the intervention of the Holy Spirit.

The day before we had taken our dog to the vet. She was 12.5 years old and suffering greatly.
I got the call yesterday morning that it was time to end her suffering. I think I cried harder at having to tell my sweet husband on his birthday morning that we had to do this, than over the actual loss. She lived a long and happy dog life and I hated to think of her suffering.
Noelle I will sincerely miss you- you were a good companion and easy to care for.

At the end of the day- while eating my husbands favorite meal: Buffalo Wild Wings and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies as a family- I found myself feeling very thankful for the life I have. And especially for the immeasurable gift God has given me in my husband.

Happy Birthday to you sweet heart but I think the rest of us celebrate it more because of our good fortune you were born and are a part of our lives.



Monday, October 10, 2011

Off Trend

I am always weirdly just left or right of any great Trend. Right now it is super trendy to be an Urban Mom with mad knitting/crafting skills, who takes her kids to beautiful parks or to be a Country Mom with chickens, dogs, cats, who has cowboy boot wearing kiddos.

I live in the country but I don't like taking care of the fish in our fish tank. My son hates to sweat or deal with biting insects, hence his battle cry every weekend we try to force him out of the house "I am not an outside person". Hey, we did get them to the local fair this weekend so score one for outdoor activity.








 Yeah, he still hated being hot but the fair has some consolation in that department too.




When I read blogs or books by parents I want to learn from, I am often left feeling off trend. Am I not caring enough? Am I too sensitive? Am I going to set them on a path that will burst into flames, smash them in two and EJECT THEM INTO SPACE!!!!  
This sequence of pics shows a ride that does a fine job of illustrating my point.

Oh, yeah son we can totally do this! (I am on the side lines freely admitting I would never ride this ride)
Ring of Fire, eh.
Don't worry they did not see a thing, eyes were closed for the entire ride.
Stumbling off the ride both grinning crazily and vowing never to ride again.


I have to admit I struggle with fear.

One of the best things I did pick up lately was "Do not make parenting decisions out of fear".

As a Christian I have to live out this verse-  
2 Timothy 1:7
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 

It's not just true for parenting, but for every other act in life.

Don't choose a parenting plan out of fear but out of power and love and self-control.

Don't pick a diet out of fear but out of power, love and self-control.

Don't chose a spouse out of fear but out of power, love and self-control.

You get the idea, now just apply it to the very next choice you have to make. It's pretty interesting how much fear runs around in our lives.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Encouragment

I can feel it in my bones, in my spirit- There is a great need for encouragement. Having seen "Courageous" this weekend, I am of the mind to "en-courage" someone else and myself.

October is a good month for it. A change in temps and sunny weather are a natural encouragement.


The truth is it's hard to see beauty in thorny situations- pain is great at distracting us.


It's not about having the strength of will to overcome, but surrendering our will to the one who has already overcome. Dark times ask us questions like "Do I really trust God?", "Is He getting it all wrong?", "Will He allow me to crumble?". Questions we normally like to pretend don't exist.

This weekend I heard several stories along this theme but the one that stuck with me the most was this one.

A solider in the desert traveling with his company runs into a sand storm. He is a Christian so he begins to pray that God will remove the storm so they can make it across the desert and complete their mission. The others watch as he prays. The storm continues to rage and finally they make camp and prepare to sleep. The solider is angry. Why has God ignored his cries? Where is his witness now?
In the morning they all awake to see a path cleared by the storm across the desert. Directly in their path are three exposed landmines. In that moment the solider knows what God had always known. He has a purpose. His ways are just. Our vision is blurred.

Take courage friend. Release striving and be in faith. See the light always before us.

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake(alive) or asleep (dead) we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (Italicized words added by me)


Monday, September 26, 2011

Am I cursed?

Haven't we all wondered this at one time? Am I cursed?


I was reading Deuteronomy chapter 11 last week and the idea of curses and blessings stuck to my brain from that chapter. I highly recommend you read it.


Basically Israel is poised to cross into the promised land- the descriptions of it are glowing. A paradise, a place with abundance around every corner. But... Danger Will Robinson, temptations around every corner as well. Blessings and Curses.


For them the danger was not in lack but in the available options.


Following the advice of Gilbert to Anne in Anne of Greengables- I write about what I know.


I know a life very similar to what the promised land sounds like. I am an American Christian. I have a home (Cozy and dry), access to clean water, food, medical care, loving family and friends, freedom to worship, etc...basically more abundance than 90% of the world population.


But I have to navigate some major issues daily related to that abundance that can have dire consequences on my character. Frankly- I can rain down curses on myself in a snap.


One such example- Mommyhood. Last week one blog I follow discussed the delimma of fitting it all in. http://www.kellehampton.com/2011/09/fitting-it-all-in-hallmark.html


She tries to address the guilt and comparisons that happen between mothers and that we internally inflict on ourselves.


Moms have more options now than in anytime in history yet all that abundance has led to a shower of curses in the place of blessings.


The Israelites has to keep perspective. They had been freed by the very hand of God from Egypt- hence the wise perspective was:
He got to call all the shots captivity and He also gets to in the promised land
Ditto for us.  Our circumstances do not get to call the shots.
Because you can Work, not Work, homeschool, not homeschool, buy something, not buy something, marry, divorce, eat, diet, run, watch TV, etc... Does not mean you should.
Ask God, read His word, let Him guide you- avoid the curse of trying to have it all just because you can.

There are Idols hidden in all that abundance.
Caveat/Flipside/"oops lets not go there" of it all-
Because you cannot be healthy, work, run, marry, have a child, speak without a stutter, muscle out of depression, obsessive thoughts, etc... also does mean that loss gets to call the shots about who you are or what you mean to God.
You might say, "Well those things really are curses!".
If you have a loss wholly out of your control it is not a curse.
The curses of Deuteronomy were chosen. They were chosen option to forsake God's direction. And Bonus, repentance and faithfulness were the cure to that curse. (Deut.11:26)

The key wasn't the abundance, it was the heart attitude. Same key for times of loss.
You have to ask God, "Do I have a choice here?, in my actions, in my attitudes?" and really seek God's answer.
Christian unless you have the Joy of knowing God is in charge of your life and you can trust Him abundance or famine then you will feel cursed even when you are not. 

We are in revival this week and our guest Pastor gave his testimony last night. He had stomach cancer in his 30's. His doctors gave him a terminal diagnosis but he prayed to have a few years to raise his young children. An experimental surgeon saw him and did an experimental procedure and he lived to raise his children. He had to put a rubber tube down his throat several times a day for the rest of his life but he lived and he had joy. He preached the gospel. The cancer has returned in multiple areas of his body. Both of is retina's have detached. One was repaired but the other has not been. It looks grim. But he preaches with such joy and passion it washes over you like a wave. He revels in the abundance of his 9 grandchildren and he is only in his late 50's or early 60's.
He makes choices every day about how to view and interact with his world. So do I. So do you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Bad Guy

Funny how this happens.
Apparently any effort to point out inconsistency is right up there with eating baby sea turtles.
The fast train to "unpopularville" is fueled by by statements like "Hey, I don't think the Bible supports that".

But really it's nothing new. Jesus got the same feed back.
He was not a guy to over look "little" lapses in behavior. He called people out on lazy belief (Matt. 23:23), sexual indulgence (John 4:17) and multiple other examples of sin.

The social leaders of his day had the whole "Where does He get off?" attitude too. The indignation got to the degree they decided the world would just be better off with out Him.

I am not blind to why truth speaking has a bad wrap. I know people use it to beat people over the head, to lift themselves up and take advantage of the supposed moral high ground.

The only way truth speaking can cut it, is if it's done in a ricochet approach. I have to be as hard hitting on myself about all the truth of the Bible, if I want anything I say to someone else can be taken seriously.

That's why Jesus could pull it off and that's why we only have a shot with the Holy Spirit in us.
But if we deny our Christ given example of calling sin what it is and take the coward's road, the friend filled, life's a great party road, - we will make the most powerful force in the universe look weak.
He (Jesus) is The Way, The Truth and The Life.

I can play the villain of Satan's little soap opera. I can be cast as the starched collar or the crazed radical- whatever.

But if one word I say opens a person's eyes to the freedom that waits just beyond the razor wire sin has erected in their life- Boom! Holy Ghost explosion.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Poverty

Luke 21

The Widow’s Offering
 1 As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

I recently finished reading Forgotten God by Francis Chan. It was as powerful as Crazy Love but in a different way. When he pointed out the story of the Widow as our example of sacrificial (painful) giving, it really struck a chord in me.

"She gave out of her poverty"

What was I poor in? The truth is it ain't money. God has blessed the heck out of us in that corner. Even by the insane American standards. We give money to the Lord, even sometimes when it causes us to give up something we wanted but we stay fed, clothed, primped and pampered without too much worry.

Deep down I had a admit I am poor in patience, restraint, and humility.
So how can I give from those areas of poverty?
Ironically God provided me the way before I ever read the book.

Like most times in my life, I do something good by accident. I think God plans it that way so I can clearly see He gets all the credit. My husband and I were talking and some how the topic of clothing came up. Shopping for clothes is my hobby. He stated that I could never go a whole year with out buying clothing. I, being one of the most stubborn people ever born, said I will show you buddy old pal. I proudly decreed "I shall not buy one item of clothing for a year". If I succeed I get to shave his head.

Now jump to me reading the book. I can clearly see God actually orchestrated that conversation. One area were I admittedly ignored God was buying clothing. I would sneak things, hide receipts and refuse to return items even though my careful and financially responsible husband would ask me to. I don't even work outside my home to justify these purchases. I just like clothes.

Now I have to face up to what is going through my head. I am making list of what I need to buy when the bet is over on 8/2/2012. I have to abstain from browsing ebay, TJ Maxx, Ross, Target, Wal-mart, Chadwicks, etc...
It scares me a bit how hard this actually is. I have to stop thinking I am going to make up for lost time when this is over. I have to realize how twisted my view of clothes has become.

I really think that is what giving out of poverty means for me. Looking at Christ/God/the Holy Spirit and then seeing everything else in the shadow of Him. Now, in that place give something.

It might be a hobby, a career, a possession, money, a relationship, the one thing you would not even let you mind consider giving to him. Go there.

Freedom is seeing the jail cell never actually had a lock on it in the first place. Take the Holy Spirit's hand and step out.

Friday, September 9, 2011

One of those days

Blue Skies- nice to see you old friend
Let's visit for a while.
Let me introduce my pal, Black seedless grapes.


We can just sit a spell and catch up.

Have you been tossed on the waves of rolling emotion this week?
Take a minute, park it in the sunshine and soak in some goodness.
May I suggest a theme song: Hold Me by Jamie Grace

Happy Friday.
What's your favorite Friday treat?


Friday, September 2, 2011

Faking it

Faking it- I'm for it.

Here's why, I am uptight. Look up uptight white lady and you will find me in the illustration photo. I am a neat freak. I like my pillows neatly stacked on my sofa, my floor vacuumed and my house free of clutter. I am an introvert. I like to be left alone with a good book or movie. I hate it when I hear a curse word (cringe) or see someone type "LMAO" (alphabet soup cursing). 

My natural tendencies make for a very poor hostess, bad friend and miserable mother.

So, I started faking it. I started inviting groups of people to my home even if it made me a nervous wreck. Oddly after a while, it stopped making me nervous.

I started trying to be the friend who actually listened to what people said instead of getting my next sentence ready in my head. Still working on that one but hopefully "Good listener" might actually be uttered with my name some where in the universe.

I have played games of Guess Who, Candy land and Monopoly that probably resulted in TMJ from the grinding of my teeth. I have listened to long video game sagas, puppy stories and episodes of Zach and Cody. I may not have looked like I was having the time of my life but I was present and engaged.

The key to faking it is to be sincere. Ironically ironic isn't it.
Don't pretend to be thrilled, just keep an open mind. Act out of love and let the person be what keeps your interest.

Faking it rarely succeeds with out one very essential secret weapon.
Pray that God will change you to be more like Him before you embark on faking it. That's when faking it morphs into obedience and God really likes to bless that.

Have to go my son is begging me to watch Suite Life on Deck with him, sigh.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Yep, I got nothing.

Nothing profound to say. Same old same old going on around here. Struggling to be a good parent. Struggling to have Godly reactions.

Feeling blessed dispite my struggles. Feeling Joy for no reason other than He is with me.

Hubby is gone all week on a conference for work.

Son has to have oral surgery to remove a dublicate set of top front teeth hiding in his gums. Yeah, weird- poor little guy.

I caught a whiff of coolness in the air this morning while I was watering my roses, and I will not lie it thrilled my heart. Fall is rather coy here. It will wink at you for a month or so before it actually arrives.

This week I offer up a sound track to how I seem to be feeling:

 "I'm with you" inspired by the story of Ruth
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHZZyNGvOVY

"Beautiful things"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyPBtExE4W0

"Your love is a song"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0rckZSB4_g

The player with this blog will be playing these songs so all you have to do is turn your speakers on.

Hey, is God making a sound track for your week?- maybe you need to turn the speakers on in your life.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Youth and Blind Spots

Yeah, the title is misleading. The two are totally unrelated but both have been tumbling around in my head.

Youth have been on my brain for oh, about 5 years now. Since the moment I realized God was calling my husband and I to minister to the youth of our church, I was nervous. I did not think I really had what it took, but I had just discovered the truth that my husband's ministry should be the priority and I was his right hand woman, as it were. I was the helpmate so by golly I was going to help. (insert random recommendation for the book Biblical Womanhood in the Home by Nancy Leigh DeMoss)

We stumbled our way along and God sent many sources (Holy Spirit whisperings, the Bible, books, people, videos...) to guide us. But one thing really caught me off guard was the Youth He sent to help us.

Here's what He did this month:

In our youth leadership class (about 5 youth) we have been working on their vision as leaders and who they see as their mission field. We have pretty much discerned that their gift as a group is friendship, so we challenged them to reach out to someone God put on their heart. Someone who clearly needed a friend.

Low and behold, God put the same person on the heart of two members so they proceeded to reach out to this person. After several days of building a relationship with him, one of the youth felt compelled to come to church early on Wednesday night to pray for this new friend. He told me he was praying a step by step prayer for this new friend's life. He prayed God would lead the new friend to church, then salvation, then discipleship. (this is the prayer of an 18 year old- can hear the creak of conviction on your own old rusty heart? I can.)

He continued to pray. I was practicing with the praise band and who should waltz into the door but their new friend. Apparently he also knew another member of our larger youth group and her family had talked him into coming that night.

You should have seen the faces of those two leaders. Glowing, Glowing. Their mouths were open. How had God done this? Was God really that Amazing? Yes, my friend, yes.

But it does not end there. Satan being who he is, was rather put out by all this. The young lady who had brought this new friend was now exploring her new faith in Christ and it was costing her at school. Dear friends were pulling away from her and our new friend was having doubts about whether he should continue to attend church with her.

She came Sunday broken hearted at his refusal to attend. Our youth leaders stepped up praying for her and our new friend. They start texting our new friend about how much they would miss him. And at the end of a long prayer time, the new friend texts back he is on his way to church.

Praise breaks out. Church service Sunday was full of praise and worship was alive. Almost our entire youth group huddled around our new friend at the end of service. He was struggling but welcomed them near, you could see it. They prayed over him, sang over him and generally made him feel like he was vitally important to them all.

This started with a group of believers all under the age of 18.

There is no reason this cannot happen in every age group of the Church!

In fact, it's biblical that these young ones be integrated into a multi-age family of Christ.

Pause... let it resonate.

Oops. I guess it does relate to my other topic.

Blind spots.

I have them. I made the crazy decision to pray God would show them to me when I had started noticing that many of my Christian friends had them.

It was only fair.

My normal policy is, if I see something to criticize in you, I have to turn it into a prayer request. So I was doing a lot of praying this week and thought it only right to turn it on myself.

Bam! A day later it gets pointed out to me that I do not pay attention to people as I should.
I knew I was absent minded but had I really worked and prayed to change that?

Food for thought. Sustenance for Pondering.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Set Up

Today was special.

Today I totally unexpectedly ran into someone who very obviously was sent directly to me by God.

It was so weird. I came to a place expecting to attend a meeting and during the meeting a person, a woman, I had never met before began to share a parenting struggle she was facing.

It sounded like she was reading my dairy. She was repeating a story I lived 7 months ago. It was eerie. I instantly knew why she was in this meeting.

She explained that this very morning in the middle of a multi-week Daniel style fast, she in total desperation had pleaded with God to show her a Christian counselor she could use to help her and her family make it though this time.

The building we were in housed a Christian counselor, who I could without reservation recommend. One of the other women quickly got her his card.

She and I proceeded to talk for 2 hours. I saw fear and pain transform to hope on her face face during our conversation.

What profound words did I graciously impart to her?

Basically that I too, had faced a moment of desperation in my parenting. I had been the mother who's child, despite all my best efforts hurt, mistreated and pushed away other people.

I too had faced the shame of being a "public" person in our church, who had to openly admit I did not know how to handle my child's behavior. A mother who wept in front of two poor public school teachers at a conference. A mother who had to seek prayer partners for her own child.

But (and here's the best part) God made a way. A way for hope, A way for change, A way for transformation. In the deepest darkest moment where I wondered if I really failed as a parent- my son met up with the Holy Spirit and things changed.

My son is not perfect now, but he is open. He is not all loving but he is alert to love. He is not full of faith, but he is growing in faith. He went from openly questioning the existence of God, to embracing the saving grace of Christ. (He is a teenager trapped in the body of a 9 year old- but that is a story for another day)

Her child is not the same as mine but her pain is and the hope I had to offer was real.

I walked away from that meeting on a cloud. As I trotted to my car propelled by joy and gratitude for being allowed to do this, thought crossed my mind "I got to be an Angel today".
Not a supernatural being, but a messenger. A messenger of Hope.

It was pretty much pure Joy.



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fear & Hope

The ultimate cage fight right? Fear vs. Hope.

Right here in my heart.

Hate to admit it after 25 years of being a Christ follower, I still let them go 10 rounds inside of me.

Today, I had to face up to this battle. I love Christ's Church, but I cannot rule over it. (Thank goodness God has it covered)

People are people, and they tend to do things that do not match up with Scripture. They tend to do those things in His Church.

Yikes! The idea that the name of Christ and His church might get dirtied, makes me very angry and afraid. The idea that His work would be hindered makes me worried.

I have done all that is humanly possible and scriptural to act in the situation but to no avail. I have prayed and will continue to pray intently over this situation. I have been encouraged by mentors and my dear husband walks along side me in prayer.


Then I hear a message on Hope this morning. We who are in Christ are the Hopeful! We have Hope in a person, in the one True Living God.




Finally I "Googled" the word Hope in the Bible and the very first verse that came up was this:


Romans 8:24-25
24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.


Knock out blow. TKO.
God wants me to have hope when no solution is seen because of the fact that I know who He is.

He hears me.

My part is just the meager act of letting my faith take the form of patience. If my patience shows how great I believe my God is, I pray I will be the picture of peaceful patience. Reign great and mighty Lord of Host!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Timing

Every now and then God humbles me and it's never a bad thing. There was a time when I really did not understand what value these times had, but it's becoming amazing to see these windows in to my soul and God's character.


I love to sing. I have sung since I knew what singing was. It's just fun and singing to the Lord brings me joy. In the last four years God has provided an opportunity to sing as part of the worship team at our church. It has been a learning curve but I am beginning to feel at home in this ministry.


I cannot read music and I have no natural sense of timing. Rhythm, I don't have. But I have a good memory so sing a song for me correctly a few times and I can sing it well after that. I usually sing as back up to a lead and I prefer it that way.


Last night I was practicing for a special and I just could not get the timing. Two girls, who I have been trying to encourage to sing, stepped up and started practicing with me. They are both band students and have perfect timing. Our Trio sounded great. We ending up singing the special together and it was a true moment of worship.


I quickly realized my goal of singing a solo was not God's plan, and He did not mind using my horrible timing as the avenue to set me on the right path. It is very humbling to see how my prayers of guidance as a leader to these girls are answered.


It's not the first time I have needed to need them. Previously a High School flute player kept me on track until she graduated. I needed to need her because it gave me so many opportunities to speak life into her heart.


I hate to admit it, but more often than not, God works because of my obedience not because of my intelligence. He's really great that way.