Saturday, December 31, 2005

I sing because I'm happy....

Okay - this will not make much sense to most of you who read this. Skip by it if you want. Stu and Ang, Flee, etc. ... read on..

I'm not a sentimental person. I wish I were. My mom and husband wish I were too.

But tonight, as I drove to pick up TGI Friday's dinner (Julia's sick at home) I was listening to a new Selah Cd - Greatest Hymns. A friend here in Tulsa got me hooked on them ...and this CD took me back to a very special place in my heart....

It started with their version of "His eye is on the sparrow"..

(Sister Act?) .... Stu, Angie, Jon, Leonard, Terri, Flee, -everyone was there in the car with me, or rather I was far away .. in an apartment, or a living room, or a church, or car.... so many places where spontaneous heartfelt praise broke loose. Something about being with you all singing brought the most uninhibited songs out of my own soul... it's only happened a couple of times since.
I always knew I was out of my league singing with you all... but maybe it was because you all didn't think you were anybody special either that made me feel okay about it. You led in your heartpraise... and that always freed me up to do the same. I feel emotional about missing you tonight... and eternally thankful that He would put such experiences and such friends in my life.. Challenging me to take the lead in some other areas to do for someone else what you all did for me. I don't always lead well (and not at all when it comes to singing to Him) but you all shaped so much of who I am and more than that you shaped my confidence in Him in so many other areas.

Your friendship in Him is an eternal gift. Your voices continue to direct my heart towards him. Funny how moments that happened years and years ago still have present and powerful influence like we would never believe they would. Only He can work such miracles.

I can't wait for the next time I get to be a part of the chorus of your voices. Maybe I'll have to wait for the trumpet to blow... but I hope not.

Keep singing.... and blessing those around you by it.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Leaving the tree up all year long.

I know it's been a while - holidays, plus ton's of thoughts that I have yet to fully process... so little by little I'm sure they will find their way up here. This is one of those weeks where I would take a vacation from my own head if I could!

First, I'm not sure who all reads Mike Cope's blog... but his post from yesterday has just added to the 20 thoughts in my head. Good stuff. Always is.

The holiday season this year has been incredibly unique. We spent time with family that we rarely get to spend time with, and that was important and special. I find myself slowing down a bit more and yearning to have that quality time with those I haven't been around as much in the past. It's a nice place to get to, emotionally.

We have been incredibly blessed this year with the generosity of others. Overwhelmingly so. I can remember when on the mission field in Ecuador, having a conversation with a dear friend and mentor who was having a large house built in the country. Everything about the house was not her, and not her character of humilty and service. She really struggled with it, even as she was excited about the benefits it would bring their family in their efforts to serve others. It made an impression on me then, as part of the struggle was unfathomable to me. "Just be happy!", I thought. I understand more and more though now.
There is an unworthiness that comes with rich blessing. An uncomfortable unworthiness. Partially it is a worry about being judged - and being afraid whoever would judge you would be right! But even more so, it is the internal realization that you are out of your league when it comes to "deserving" whatever you've been given. You just can't even justify it yourself. For whatever reason, we just feel more comfortable, more competent to have "earned" things. Less "indebted" maybe.
I shared this with a friend last night... and shared some thoughts on Paul's learning to be content with "much" or "little" - and realizing that both are equal struggles more than I realized in the past.
In the conversation, she pointed out how sometimes material blessings serve as a physical reminder of the same emotions we should have about the daily gift of our salvation. I don't know why it hit me so clearly.. the way she said it, compiled with the obvious emotion of what I was expressing about a material blessing... but it hit, and it was right. Every day I get to be excited and rejoice!

Rejoice that my name is written in heaven... every single day.

Rejoice that mercy is BRAND NEW every single day for me.

Rejoice that every single day, I am way out of my league. I am lavishly blessed by One I can never repay. And I was His enemy when He gave me the gift in the first place.

That manger baby, this Holiday, family, gifts, generosity... all serve to play out in an earthly manner the Spiritual reality we get to live in every day.

How I long for that spirit of anticipation that filled me as a child waiting for Christmas morning to dwell in me every morning as a child of His!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

"Two Duttle Loves"

Lessons from five & six year olds who sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas" for the church christmas program:

1. "Eleven pipers piping" is just unreproducibily cute in an african accent.

2. "Five golden rings" can in fact be sung so wholeheartedly as to drain your face of color every time you sing it.

3. From one dad - encouragement that the next time we need parents to help with costumes, talk to the moms. He confused "french hen" with "french bar maid" theme. Mom confirmed her having to step in and rescue the situation. :-)

4. Explain to the children exactly what they are singing about, or they will sing what they know. The program went perfect, but for those who missed practice, "two turtle doves" was also at times " two little doves, two duttle loves and "two dirty turds."
All sung genuinely and with beautiful sincerity.


Monday, December 19, 2005

You said WHAT?

Apparently my son asked Jason what was up with the whole coal in the stocking thing.

Jason's reply?

"Oh that's just something parents say to try and get their kids to obey them."

I was shocked. Jason's response? "Well- it's the truth!"

This is one time I unreservedly plan to use my blog to shame the man. :-)
OR, maybe I'll put coal in HIS stocking....;-)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sing away, girl.

In the middle of night Julia calls for me. Groggily and reluctantly I drag myself to her bed. This is an improvement, as she is, after much reminding, at least staying in her bed instead of scaring me out of my mind by just standing next to me in the middle of the night.

"Mommy - do you want me to sing a song?" Bright eyes, full of excitement and genuine anticipation.

No Julia. Go back to sleep.

"But I weally weally want to sing you a song - it's 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star'!

No Julia, not now. Go back to sleep.

"But don't you want the stars to shine?"


Okay. Sing your song.

She sweetly, in an unforgettable 3 year old way, does.

"Thanks mommy. I love you. Goodnight."

My body may not always agree, but to the heart, there are some things worth waking up for.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The (at least it won't be eternal) tape playing in my head....


Sometimes I feel it makes the rounds like a bad virus.

I struggled majorly with it Thursday night. Then again yesterday. And again today.

It's an annoying feeling - the second guessing yourself, then the anger, then just the depression and certain conclusion that if you just stay out of everyone's life, the world around you would be much happier. Now I know better. But I thought at some point that if I knew better I wouldn't even struggle with the feelings anymore.

I wish I knew what was at the root of it. Is it a clever tactic of Satan? It would be a good one. (Besides - most of the time it isn't even an accurate portrayal of reality.) Is it a prevalent , self-destructive, ever present part of our own flesh? I'd believe it - it's always been there.I would even suggest hormones except that I know men aren't immune to it. And yes - the viral theory. I have had multiple conversations revealing that I am not alone in the struggle, even this week.

Yet I am struck by how God uses it for good, as He promises to do with all things if we love Him.

The alone time... the energy spent reevaluating and being introspective is always good and worthwhile. I NEVER come up empty handed when it comes to acknowledging areas in my heart and life and mouth that need improvement. The actions taken to make anything right that I can are never in vain.

The desperation is good. Insecurity keeps me from becoming dependent on those around me for my peace. I will always have something to be rightly judged for. And there will always be those ready to judge even if there wasn't. If I seek my peace in being blameless in my own actions, and always accepted by others, I get into that ugly circle of never being satisfied. Sometimes I just have to rest in Him and His acceptance of me - believing that it is truly only Him that can cover my imperfections.

And the love sometimes discovered in the struggle is good too. Love covers a multitude of offenses. I am always amazed by what people will forgive, and sometimes not even notice, when they love you. You can't demand that - it must be offered, and when it is, it is very humbling, and personally inspiring. God instructs us to be people who are not easily offended, and I think that is born out of His desire for us to love each other like His Son.
"Little children, let us not love in theory or in speech, but in deed and in truth ( in practice and in sincerity). By this we shall come to know that we are of the Truth." 1 John 3: 18
When you recieve it... you want to be someone who gives it.

It's funny - the universal nature of thinking you are the only one who struggles with it - knowing for sure every one around you has it all together, only then to find out they're walking through the same feelings... maybe even worried about what your thoughts of them are.

How can we all know it goes on - and yet be shocked every time we find out it's not just us? - what does that reveal about us? What does it tell us? And maybe my biggest desire is to know ultimately what He wants to do with us in it. I know there is something significant in the journey.... just not sure that I've got a good grasp on what it is all the time.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mom - am I a believer?

Today started at 6 am with a friend, talking about the salvation of our children.
It ended tonight with Eli asking on his own "Am I a believer?"

It is a profound intense feeling, holding one God has given you and knowing you are entrusted with teaching Him about the Father.

He has been attending an "Upwards" basketball program at the Baptist church near our home. Tonight, he was proud - he shot 10 hoops straight in a row, and was the only kid who won a star for learning his memory verse. I am beyond thankful for how God uses this church and these people to teach my son about Him - esp. tonight.

"For God so loved the world that he gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

They gave him a bible tonight - the "Upwards Basketball version" - so way cool for him, and already he cherishes it. He wanted to read it. As I was tucking Julia in bed, he looked for what he wanted to read. He came across Mark 16 - and following the chapter headings, said :

"Look mom - here it says 'Jesus dies' and on the next page it says 'Jesus rose from the dead'. Let's read that!"

So we did. And talked a ton. At the end , after reading Jesus' commission, Eli asked "Do I believe?" ( Remind me to share our 'baptism' conversation some other day. It reveals his dad's sense of humor.)

I asked him if he thought he believed. He wasn't' sure what that meant. He knew that he didn't pray to Michael at school - but only to God. We talked some more about what it means to believe God. I myself was struck by the difference of believing "in" God and "believing" God.

I know this is rambling to most - but they are some of the most profound, eternal moments I think this life may hold for me. It is when I can clearly see what is worthwhile and what is not in all the things I endeavor to do.

Eli is absolutely priceless to me. That's a mom thing to say - but it is a new scary, amazing place in my heart at a deeper level than I've been at before. I feel like I get a glimpse into the man God wants him to be.

I know our enemy will wage war on him. Reading Revelation this week has given me a sober reminder of his ruthlessness. But my heart marvels at the likeness of our God I find in Eli's spirit at times. And I hope and pray and work towards the preservation of that.

Tonight I am also challenged by the feeling of how scary it is to be surrounded by teens who I love .... and I watch some strive with great perserverance for their faith and integrity, and I watch others carelessly embrace compromise as if there were no consequence or eternal meaning in it. It is overwhelming to my heart.

Tonight, with the contrast of my son's genuine, pure questions and heart, I find myself disgusted with the father of lies and the Deceiver. As I feel almost a sense of helplessness, though I know better, I find myself looking forward to the day when our Father defeats him fully and eternally.

I am eager to see the day when he will take no more captives, and purity will remain unmarred and eternal.

And tonight ... in excitement! ... I begin to pray for another little one that will be a part of our family. We found out our niece will be named Elizabeth Mia... what an honor and a blessing to begin to include her in our prayers to Him.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"Mom - are my questions to hard, cuz I can give you easier ones if you want...."

Sometimes Eli will have a night where his brain just spills nonstop out of his mouth. I love these nights. He will ask the most profound questions, and before I can answer he is on to the next. So I just sit and listen.

"Does God want presents? I mean like, he doesn't want a new book or something, right? I mean He wants us. He wants us to give Him us, right?
I mean, like He wouldn't want a superpower, because, like, what would we give Him, our whole brain? He already has them all. How many years was Jesus? Not like, how many years ago, but how many years did He live?

Me - "33".

"Then what happened?"

Me - "He died on the cross."

"Why did they do that? He was always good? I mean, when they called Him a liar, was it like kids do on the playground when they say "Liar liar"? Was God sad when Jesus died? "

Me - "Yes, He..."

"Why? I mean, why was He sad when He was just going to be with Him in a minute again? You know, it was like Jesus was in highschool."

*( Note - this is confusing, but I think Eli was equating this to when Jennie came and lived with our family and then went off to college.)

"I mean, here, we are with our family and then we get to highschool (college) and Jesus did it backwards - He came and met all new people like at college, and then He went to be with His family after that."

"Mom - do you not like answering my questions? Cause you get real quiet. I can make my questions easier for you - I'm sorry if they are hard, I can make them easier."

Me - "No Eli - I absolutely love your questions, I want you to ask what ever is in your heart. Sometimes I start to give you an answer, but then you ask another question, so I just wait. Like when you asked if God was sad when Jesus died..."

"Oh yeah- what was your answer ?

ME - "Well, yes He was sad. He was sad because ..."

"Oh - oh wait, I know. Because He was good, yeah that was what I was going to say. Sometimes I try to be good but the other kids don't like me. They must like the devil because I am on God's team...

Me - "Well, Eli, sometimes kids your age have a hard time knowing how to say and do the right thing every day, and..."

"Yeah, and sometimes I say I'm sorry, and someone else says that's okay, and then we are friends again, and...."

Me - "Eli I think you need to let your brain rest and go to sleep for now, ok?"

"Yes Mam mom. I love you . Good night"

Visa's got nothing on that. That is eternally priceless.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How do I know if I know God?

Again, I love this email study we are doing. We are nearing the end, and it is just as rich in lessons as the beginning. Today's reading ( 1 John 3 - 2 John, sparked off these thoughts.)

"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is ( springs) from God, and he who loves ( his fellowmen) is begotten ( born) of God and is coming ( progressively) to know and understand God (to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him.) " 1 John 4:7

This is one of many statements in just 4 chapters between 1 John 3 and the book of 2 John in which God says our life, our relationship to Him, and to others, our temperature of a right walk with Him, is again, love.

Love that listens to Him.
Love that wants to obey Him.
Love that is willing to follow Christ's every example.
Love that wants to avoid every sin.
Love that is poured out on our church family, (Yes - every single one.)
Love that is expressed to God's people as a whole, not just our local family.
He tells us that if we can find brothers that we don't love... we have got major growing to do if we claim to be His, and in fact those who refuse to love another in Christ are not of Him.

We are defined by Love that is not afraid anymore.
( I loved the verse in 1 John 4:18 - "There is no fear in love,
(dread does not exist), but full grown love turns fear out of doors and
expels every trace of terror."
This is powerful.... because ironically it is fear that is often at the root
of our inability to love someone else. Test it and see if fear exists in the
relationship you have with those difficult to love, ( fear of punishment,
hurt, rejection, abuse, ....etc.) I personally find it is usually fear and

But God.....
God showed us the ultimate love.... facing head on all rejection, abuse, disdain, disregard, complacency, etc, that we would heap on His Son, and Himself, and loving us through it, went ahead with The Plan, fully confident that at some point many of us would turn around, wake up and respond to His unbelievable generosity .

Do we love each other in like manner? Hmmmm.

Charging ahead, through whatever they may throw our way, to purposefully, genuinely love each one in our path?
If we call ourselves His, He just makes the logical point that we are to look like Him. That we are to do to others just as He did for us.

Wow. As I comprehend my own imperfection in this area, I am inspired all the more by His perfection. Peter tells us as women that in submission, we don't give way to fear, and I think it is correct to make the correlation that this is because with our faith in Him, we fully confident and convinced of the merit to love faithfully & unselfishly, each person, just like He did. .

No doubt as we more fully embrace love as a definition of who we are, the face of His body will change dramatically.

It starts with me.
It starts newly each day.

He is Wonderful!

He's the Perfect Beginning and End all imperfect days

Okay. I'm having another one of those days where I just wish I would grow up.

And I hope that in the very nature of being disgusted by my inadequacy there is an indication, however small, that I kind of am, at least starting to grow up.

It just doesn't happen as fast as I want it too.

Praise our wonderful God for His enduring patience.

I am thankful His mercy is new every morning.

Tonight, I look forward to going to bed and waking up and unwrapping that present like a gift on Christmas morning.

Don't you just love that He gives us so many fresh starts?!?

And if He is for us, who can be against us? Even my own immaturity and slow growth is no match for His enduring grace and matchless patience.

I don't want to take it for granted, but I don't want to disregard it either.

He is wonderful, and I love when those moments of blaring imperfection cause me to look past the mirror back up to Him in thankfulness.

That is never a wasted reflection.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Eli's getting to know God....

Okay. I just have a few minutes, but I wanted to record two neat experiences with Eli. I use this blog as a family journal, so this is as much for him in the future as it is to share what blesses me with you!

Yesterday, Eli had a great day at school. He shared last night, that he prayed to God while on the playground at recess. Now, we pray every night, but to my knowledge, this is the first time he's ever shared with me that he prayed on his own. I'll share a bit of the conversation:

Today I prayed to God at recess. Some of the kids were playing soccer and being kind of violent.

(We use that word to describe video games we won't let him play.)

They were't being violent to me, but just in the game. So I went and sat on a bench. I looked up at the clouds, and that made me think of God. So I prayed to Him about the game, and then I prayed to him about my voice.

(He struggles with being too loud at school, and has a paper with musical notes he gets to fill in for a rewards when he is being quiet. )

I only had a few more notes to get on my paper before I could play backyard soccer on the computer. So I asked God to help me, and He did!!! I had a super day, and I got all my notes and got to play!

Later he shared that he had told his teacher that he had prayed at recess, but she didn't seem interested. He said that didn't bother him but just mentioned it.

This morning when we woke up, we had an email from his teacher, and at the end a small note that she shared with us about him praying over recess.

God is so good... in so many ways. Even to get to share that with Eli before he went back today.

In another conversation, on the way to school today, he said"

Mom! An idea just popped into my head. You know the guy that lived in the car? (that caught on fire.) What if when he comes back, we let him live with us?!!

I said I thought that was a great idea. He was so excited.

I knew Jason had already offered this to Fred, and I don't know if he'll take us up on it. But there is a small part of me that really hopes he does, even if for a little while, for God to bless Eli's heart of faith in a big way.

3 times in the last week alone I have had different sources state that children are one of the best mission focuses of the church, stating that people who are most likely to remain devoted Christians are children raised in Godly homes, and most of whom have had their spiritual moorings in place by age 9. I'm beginning to listen more and more closely to this, and see it's incredible merit.

I see every reason why I am to become like Eli in my faith. I have known many who think, or fear, we shouldn't pray about such things. I hope he never grows up - only more confident in the One Who hears every prayer, and is honored by every ounce of faith.

Thank you for all your comments on the last post. You blessed us immensely. We are so rich in friendship because of you . I love you !

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What you learn in the split seconds you never want to have....

A fire broke out behind our house yesterday, due to the high winds. A man who has been helped by some in the church a few times asked if he could store his car there while away on business - and we said sure. It caught on fire as an electrical line went down due to high winds. I heard it and went to look - and saw the car just go up quickly in flames...then some trees caught fire, and the neighbor's barn. It all happened so quickly. I realized that we were going to be next in line, along with our neighbors, as we were downwind and the treeline connected both of our houses to the flames.

I think most women, in their minds, at least, mentally prepare for these moments. The fires, or the car accidents, or the funerals. Whatever the scenario, we try to prepare as best we can. Reality didn't play out as gracefully as my imagination always had.

Those split second moments really tell you a lot about yourself.

Get the kids dressed. I realized later I only put one shoe on Julia.

In the meantime, call 911... wait and wait and wait for them to answer. They were swamped. We weren't the only ones with a fire, I discovered later.
Be transferred to the fire department....wait even longer. It was not my calmest moment. Eli later related to Jason that he could tell no one was answering the phone when I called for help. Yeah....

Got to tell the neighbors. Make sure they're out.
Wait.... got to get the fire department first to get them on the way. The phone wont reach.

Got to get out of the house. Got to get the kids safe.

What do I take?

Put the kids by the door, next to the car.
Run back.
Get insurance files. ( Why have I procrastinated so long about getting important papers into a safe deposit box?!) Threw them in the car.

A man on a motorcycle drove up & banged loudly on the door. I opened it and he ran in - yelling at me to get the kids out of the house. Somewhere in in there he apologized for running through my house. I think I saw him run out the back to the fire, but I don't remember for sure.

And somewhere in there the phone rang.. and I answered it. (?!?)
Thank goodness it was Theresa - she understood when I just said there was a fire and had to go & hung up... and she hung up and came over to see if if she could help. Never saw you but I love just knowing it is like you to not sit still.

I ran back to take one last look. What else do I do? I stood for just a second I am sure, but it seemed like 10 minutes. I looked around, at all that would be gone, I feared, in just a few minutes. That picture... looking around.... is stuck in my mind.

That was my clearest, calmest moment. I can't describe the fact that I felt intense peace in that exact moment.... that it was okay to lose everything. I thought about the picture albums - but there were just too many, and I had the real things standing at the door.

I grabbed the video of our daughter Jessica's life and funeral. And two bibles.

As I ran to put the kids in the car, I knew whatever happened, by that evening we would have more than enough offers of a place to stay. I knew we would have clothes on our back and food to eat. I knew we would be surrounded by people who loved us. His people. His provision. Nothing we owned compared.

Looking back, I don't know why I grabbed the video. I never watch it. My family has copies I could've had. I had to waste time to dig for it.
I think, like the bibles, it represents one of the closest connections I have to our God. That experience defines why I trust Him now. Why I could trust Him in the midst of this without knowing the end or what would happen, and feel peace. With her, I thought I had to know the end. I thought it had to be "good". I didn't realize that sometimes the most painful things you go through become the most treasured parts of your life. Those most unstable moments have the potential to catapult you to your most solid state of belief and confidence in Him.

So I put the kids in the car and we pulled out of the driveway.

The fire department got there. They started to put out the car, then realizing it was beyond saving, moved to the barn.

Only later do we realize that this move was critical. That barn, which was already on fire, was filled with gasoline tanks and paint.. for the neighbor's lawn business and rental houses. The fireman told Jason late last night that he knew everyone thought they were crazy for letting the car burn and trying to put out the smaller fire on the barn, but they saw right away that if the barn went up, our house and the neighbors house would be gone. They would not have been able to stop it for the winds. And that was before they knew there were flammable materials that would have caused an explosion.

(Our neighbor said he had a box of smoke detectors and CO2 alarms for his rent houses just pumping their little hearts out with beeping in the barn - but no one could hear. The irony struck us all funny.)

The fire department sat out there for six hours around the lines that still were sparking, until the electric company could get away to shut them down. Others are still fighting fires tonight. Some lost their electricy. Some lost their homes. We ended up losing neither. Humbling isn't an adequate description.

Fred's car is gone. He showed up unexpectedly today, after being gone for 4 weeks, and after much discussion about how to contact and tell him. The car was all he had. The only other possessions he had were in the truck he drives. Thankfully, the burnt papers we tried to save were unecessary - he had the important ones with him. But everything else is gone. He didn't cry, but from what Jason said, he thought he wanted too. He had to be in Oklahoma City by 7 pm, and had just stopped in to check on it. So he just had to leave. Jason wrapped a heavy winter coat around him.

The contrast burdens me.

Jason and I are nobodys... to have this grace is beyond us. To have confidence in Him that we could have nothing, and it be okay, is peace. To have confidence that we are surrounded by so many who would refuse to let us remain with nothing, brings my heart prostrate before Him.

But Fred has nothing... and noone, as far as I can tell. That aloneness is what Christ rescued us from. How desperately I want him to know that what we have is for him too. How much I want him to want that for himself. God may use this dark moment to bring him there, if he will allow it. Satan's voice is loud in this world.

May God's, even through us, be louder.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


I am cooking for Thanksgiving!

I am cooking from scratch. ( Well.... except the bread and stuffing and sweet potato casserole, and pie.) But I made Buckeyes from scratch. Jason said he was impressed that I didn't use a box. It was a very genuine and heartfelt compliment that I gladly accepted.

I'll be honest. I'm feeling pretty domestic. Doesn't happen much in the cooking department for me.

Have a great THANKFUL day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Thankfulness behind bars

"Do not blush or be ashamed the, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but ( with me) take your share of the suffering ( to which the preaching) of the Gospel (may expose you and do it) in the power of God." 2 Tim. 1:8

In studying this week, I am just struck by Paul's statement to Timothy. This letter is probably the last communication he will have with this man who has become like his son. He misses him. He is lonely, and while not afraid, is aware that his physical death is approaching.

Over and over I keep thinking of what it is like to pass on your life's passion and work to someone else, as in essence that is what he does in this letter. And he knows that what he has given his life to is not just another job. It' is God's offer of real LIFE to people.

But this world is volatile. They don't always want life or light.

Sometimes, I realize I get so comfortable being here, or being with people who do want life, that these words don't ring as true and as necessary to my heart as they should. Timothy had to soak this up, even as his heart was overwhelmed with emotion. When one believes in you as Paul did Timothy, it changes your life. When you've lost someone like that, you take every task they commend to you to heart.

"Take your share of the suffering...."

It is a given.
It doesn't take away constant joy, as Paul's life proves. But it's presence, none the less, is expected.
It's uncomfortable to think suffering has a place of measuring in my life, but I believe it should, if I hope to be transformed like Him. It's absence may tell me more than I want to know. It's character may produce more of who I have always longed to be.

So my thoughts of thanksgiving this week make me want to be faithful to the One behind all I am thankful for, no matter what the cost.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Kid's a stand up.....

*** Warning*** Objectional matieral to follow. Those without kids might not want to read.

I've debated over putting this up - but know there are a few of you who will appreciate it despite the context.

I'm cleaning the bedroom, and Eli comes out of the bathroom with no pants on.

I look at him, confused, and ask him "What are you doing?"

He replies "I had to go poopy."

Still confused, I ask "Do you need help wiping or something?

He cheerfully answers :
"No thanks. Dad already got to the bottom of it. "

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Is that Webster's phone number in your little black book?

We have been married over 10 years.

Then today, in the middle of a conversation.... out it comes.

I've never heard of it before, now. Never even had a hint it was going on in his head.


I don't know if I spelled it right. I don't even know what it means. It was such a shock, I can't even remember the rest of the context of the conversation to help me define it's meaning.

You would think, after ten years, you would have a good working knowledge of the repitoire of your spouse's vocabulary.

But no. Out it comes... like he's always had it in his brain, like it has been an acceptable conversational word to use all of our lives.... like everyone knows what it means.

He asked if I thought he was having an affair with a dictionary.

I'm just saying the evidence speaks for itself. Come to think of it, I have always been a little suspicious.....

Thursday, November 17, 2005

sweet ,innocent ,political prayers

I have been crazy tired for the last couple of days - but had to blog this. Eli has prayed for the last couple of nights a unique little phrase that just cracks me up.

".....thank you for my family, for everyone You made, for every thing You made, for Your fruits of the spirit, thank You for Your ten commandments, Your laws and Your bills. "

I think he watched our "Schoolhouse Rock" Congress song too much.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I think I missed the point....

My husband and I had a argument over unity a couple nights ago.

We were grappling with real issues and real emotions. I mean, Jesus prayed for this to be an identlifying mark of us to the world!

But you know, the ridiculous idea that I got up and went to sleep on the couch, because we couldn't agree, somehow made both of us laugh.

No wonder whole churches struggle with it.

Thankfully, we all keep trying.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

With so much smarts, how'd you end up THERE?!

Okay ... I'm so excited. Some might think it is bragging... but I assure you it is pure joy!

A few weeks ago I nominated my son to be tested for the gifted and talented program at school. It was a move filled with a lot of insecurity, because I felt like some of the staff would laugh behind my back at the mere suggestion, considering that is not usually side that they encounter with him. I didn't even know if he would be able to take it with some of the other issues going on, but I nominated him anyways.

We got a note last night - he qualified!! You have to score in the top 5% of your grade or the test. ( His non-gifted and talented parents couldnt read the test scores, so I'm not sure. ) I am so excited for him!

I also found out he locked himself in his locker yesterday.


As Eli told me, I just began to crack up. ( He was offended.)
Jason also suggested that my laughing was inappropriate, as when Eli recounted the story to him afterschool, he was still tearing up & shaky about it. But it was just so funny! Eli did start to laugh, after I couldn't control myself. I think he'll need therapy, but then again, laughing at yourself saves a world of hurt later on in life.

I asked him why he did it.
Because he saw another girl do it, and it looked fun.

I asked him how he got out.
He said he started banging and yelling and crying until his teacher came out and found him.

I asked him what happened to all the other kids that had been around.
He didn't know. He couldn't see them.

Now doesn't that just crack you up too?

I think all of us have an appointment in the gifted and talented program, but at times take detours and lock ourselves in a locker.

Both moments define and shape who we are, praise God.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Loving witches.....

We have a friend & former classmate who is a missionary in Uganda. It is an amazing life he and his wife live there in honor of Christ, and I am constantly challenged and encouraged by them. I want to share a brief story of his from an email I got today. It is just so powerful. I'll let it speak for itself:

There is woman that I have noticed sleeping on the streets. She stays next to the road and is camped out near a stump. I have had strange feelings about her. No one will approach her. They are afraid of her. She stares hard at me whenever I pass by.
Because of these strange feelings I asked around about her... I was told that she is a witch and she was sent away/banished from her village because she ate her children. wow she really needs prayer....

I wrote this message a few days ago. While I was writing this I felt strongly that I should go and help the woman who ate her children.The verse "think of others as better than yourself" kept coming to mind.Think of a witch who ate her children as better than myself?

Ok Lord.

Several years ago I saw a homeless man in Portland who was curled up on a park bench in the cold. I debated with myself as to whether I should help or not. I didn't help him. I did like everybody else and I ignored him. When I got home to my parents house I felt terrible. I decided to sleep outside on the deck. It was cold! I stayed up all night praying for Portland. I deeply regretted not helping that guy. I didn't want that to happen again.
so the other evening when I felt moved to help the woman in the cold I didn't hesitate.

It was about 10:30 at night and I got in the truck and drove to the stump that she sleeps next too. The city council wanted her to leave that place so they cut down the tree that she was sleeping under. She didn't leave. There are actually two women who live there. (Both are said to be witches)
As I drove down the quiet dark streets I thought...the Lord loves this woman. She may be a witch, a murderer and a cannibal, and Lord may hate what she has done but he loves her.
I got out of the truck and saw the old woman sit up. I greeted her in Rutoro and told her that I am a Christian. I commented on how cold it is. She told me that she loves Jesus and that she prays to Mary. She showed me her rosaries.
I handed her the two thick blankets and she was very thankful.
She told me in Rutoro that she paid 1000 shillings for a thin bed sheet and another 1000 for a piece of plastic to wrap up in. That was all she had to keep her warm, a thin bed sheet and a piece of black plastic. She has no more money. She told me how cold she is. She thanked me over and over for the blankets and for caring. She sat there smiling.

Just thank the Lord.

I knelt down and we talked some more in broken Rutoro and Swahili.She told me that her two children had died and now she lives there.I shook my head that I knew. Everyone knows. These two women are the outcasts of Fort Portal.

I told her to sleep well.She wrapped up in the blankets and thanked me again as I got in the truck and turned on the heater.

Thank you Lord for encouraging me to do this.
While she was a sinner...while I was a sinner...Christ died for us.
The love that God has for us is so amazing.
She is made in the image of God.

The Lord has been working on my heart and it has come from this...

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus." Phillipian 2:3-5 NIV

...This has been a tough challenge for me. I don't have a problem getting out there and helping people. Or spending time with the poor or sharing Jesus with my Muslim friends. But humbly thinking of others as better than myself ...that's tough.

It all comes down to my attitude, my heart and my pride.
We can do the things that Jesus did but not do them like Jesus did.
I want so much to have the same attitudes that Jesus had (and has.)That is where this struggle lies for me...

If we are willing to learn the Lord is willing to teach.
Isn't it amazing how the Lord can use those in society that people see as worthless to teach us valuable lessons. What is the Lord teaching you?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Teaching and learning more from God....

Okay - one more praise to God! Your responses to the post on Eli's teacher made me think I really should share that with her. Today, I got a letter from her that made my heart just swell with how God works, and I wanted to share part of it with you. Isn't He just amazing?!?

I will be honest, I was really struggling before school started this year and I wasn't looking forward to starting in a new school for the third year in a row. (Last year I was the last one hired so when they cut a job at our school, that teacher took my position.)
I wondered what God's plans were in placing me not only in a different school, but such a drive from our home. (Funny how we complained about the same thing !) When I first met your family and you gave me the letter on Eli, I knew why I was at Eliot. I got chills when I read your letter as I have written a similar letter myself as I dropped Robbie off when he was little. I still keep in touch with his first teachers that not only helped him, but brought me out of the hole I had fallen into. We became very good friends and we finally got a chance to teach together the last year I was in Iowa. ....
Today Eli had a great day, so I had the other kids cheer for him at the end of the day. :-) He loved the attention. :-)

I just love our God. And I love the indescribable blessing of friends like you who praise Him too, and in doing so open more doors of blessing and influence. Thanks.

Monday, November 07, 2005


Okay. You all win. Cinnamon Rush has currently replaced the Lemon Ice toothpaste. I like it. ALOT. It does remind me so much of Big Red gum though that I have to remind myself that my teeth ARE clean.

And I have a new diet technique. Berry Blast dental floss.

Seriously. Usually, I am not hungry - I just want something that tastes good in my mouth. Sooo.. dental floss works GREAT! Taste it. Throw it away.

Don't knock it till you try it. :)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Parent Teacher Conferences

Tonight was our first official kindergarten parent teacher conference.

I was anxious, irritable, and bordering on depression. And that was before we got there. Jason kept trying to lighten the mood, which only made it worse for me. ( And I guess for him, in the long run, too.)

I knew what she was going to say, and I just didn't want to hear it again. So I was in knots. And she didn't say it.

Oh she said some of it, but differently than all the others had.
She started out with what she liked about him. And she was genuine.

I feel like I've watched people lie about this so many times I can tell it right away. She didn't lie.

She addressed what she knew we already knew, as simply she could, knowing that we are doing what we can.

She said she had sat through meetings like this with her own son, listening to people just take away hope, and she vowed to never do that to another family. (It's the most passionate I've seen her be in telling a story.)

When we made it officially "off the record", she felt free to share what she thought we might be dealing with, confirming what we've been trying to figure out for the last 4 years.

And she gets him. She gets his heart. She know what he wants to be (right now, not just when he grows up.) She wants him to succeed, and knows he's going to have a rough road. She doesn't mind being tough on him. And she doesn't miss for a moment the beauty in him for all the annoyances and tiring behavior. She is invested in him.

God knew how much I needed this lady to come into our lives, and especially his.

Just a few of you may remember his issues with fingerpaint from when we first moved here.
He just doesn't do it. Freaks him out. He's been put in time out, lost points, etc, for not participating in projects involving fingerpaint. Doesn't matter to him.

Well, she wanted him to paint a pumpkin, and let him have a brush instead, while the rest of the class dove in. She kept her eye on him, even as she worked with the rest of the class. He kept working, eventually letting a finger touch the paint, then two, back to the brush, then a finger again, etc, etc.

Eventually, he did it. Brush down, both hands moving in big circles in the paint. And when he looked up & called to her, surprising himself and wanting her to see, she was already there, digital camera in hand, grabbing the moment.

She put the picture on their class website. He loves it.

To everyone else it just looks like a kid holding up messy hands at school. Looks like a lot of other kids. Which for him, is not so common. To Eli, to her, and to us, it spoke major victory.

And she was invested enough to not only know it, but to care and be ready.

Now THAT is a teacher. God is so good.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

The "yeah, but's" of love, when it is hard.

I *LOVE* doing this read through the N.T. email thing. I wish I was at a point that I didn't need 50 other people doing it with me to keep me on track, but then again.... I wouldn't be learning all I am with out them needing the same thing! He is good in how He uses our weakness to reveal His strength!

Coming out of Romans, straight into 1st Cor. I am struck by something powerful. These two books encompass much of what we struggle with balancing among each other. Grace, mercy, sin, responsiveness, law, obedience, freedom. My church background doesn't let this settle with me easily, though. I like things to be more "clear-cut" than I am finding out they are.

In His grace, we are freed up to do so much. Yet, the strength that His grace allows me to stand in is the very strength by which I am to support and uphold those who are not as "freed up" in some areas that I am.

My flesh wants to argue with those who don't hold my convictions. I don't want to be "held back" ! The very nature of a conviction, says 'I believe what I believe and I want you to believe it too!' When you don't agree, my insecurity wants to disconnect from you, at the very least.

Yet, my God says He empowers me not only to not disconnect or argue with or belittle you, but to protect your walk with God from my own vanity and arrogance.

My flesh doesn't like that that my spirit is told to do that!

But at times I walk on the other side of the fence too. Surrounded by many who are "freed up" in their personal convictions and understanding of God to pursue certain things in their life that I still carry much doubt about, despite their convicted reasoning. I may see it, and believe it, but He reminds me that until it becomes my own conviction, even if it is right, to pursue it would not be pleasing. My actions don't please Him, my faith does. Faith comes when internally ascribing to a belief, not from just agreeing to a well reasoned argument.

"Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus. " ( Rom. 15: 5)

Jesus Himself, in one of the longest conversations we get a glimpse of that He has with God, prays for our unity with each other, so that we would glorify God.

I really think we all want that. I really think we all want to please Him in His request and hope of us.

I don't have to disclaim that I am not disputing the core facts of the gospel we have been entrusted with. I am just learning again that if we are to get nearer to honoring Christ's hope of our unity, it won't be found in the unity of "thought" or of each personal conviction we hold with another believer. It will be found in unity and dedication of ourselves to walk in humility and love towards each other. I think that is why He said that the whole Law (which we try so desperately to meet without admitting it) would be met in loving Him most and loving our neighbor as ourself.

"Love does no wrong to one's neighbor ( it never hurts anybody). Therefore love meets all the requirements and is fulfilling the law." Rom. 15:10

I spent too many years discrediting that verse for all the questions it did not answer in my mind. I find now that I was just not up for all the challenges that loving this way would actually bring. To devote myself to this kind of love leaves no time to resolve some of the issues I thought were so important to convince the world of before. Or at least my attempts to resolve them are much less volatile than I allowed them to be before.

That is not a weak move... but one that can only truely be upheld by His Spirit and His power, as far as I can tell.

So as I begin to admit there are a lot more spaces in the recesses of my mind I could clear out to make room for Him, I anticipate that challenge of this kind of love will bring new dimensions of life into view, especially among those who differ from me.

I admit, even as my flesh is afraid, my Spirit is excited!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The circle of life... all in a weekend.

Went out of town this weekend - we went to do a purity retreat for a group of teens. It was one of those weekends where you think you know what you are going for, but then God reveals much more than you expected.

I learned from a dear friend and her teen daughter what struggles I will be facing in just a few short years, if I'm not careful, and maybe even if I am careful.
I learned that God might give me influence in her daughter's life today, in this struggle, and in a few years, He might bring someone else in to my child's life to say the very same things that I thought I would be able to say adequately. It makes me sad to think we might reach a point where my own child would desperately want to hear and believe the truth about themselves, and yet wouldn't or couldn't hear it from me. My friend has been parenting like I think I would. And in some ways even better. The faults and weaknesses she admits to having had mirror the ones I hold now. So I listen and take to heart what she says.
I acknowledge that even as I can point out to my friend that our kids are never to confuse us with Jesus, I simulateneously want to live a life where I will have done it all right so as to put no stumbling block in front of my kids. I feel more comfortable with having done it all right than with pointing my children to Jesus over and over because I haven't.

My children's faith will have become their own. But it is downright gut wrenching to watch it happen. I am just sickened at the relentlessness of our enemy and how he attacks those who might have faith in our God, even our own.

And in just the span of a few hours:

I hugged a dear woman, I fear, for the last time in this life. My God -given grandmother. She is a rock. She is one of the most consistent lovers of God I have had in my life.And so funny. Her body just isn't cooperating with her mind and spirit anymore.

It's hard to do that. - I mean have that last moment, when they are alive. I have had so many where you didn't get to have that last moment, -they were just gone.
But yesterday I did. You want to say so much, you don't want to wait for a funeral - but yet you don't want to say it now, because it's not quite the end. We both knew. And we both knew we really couldn't go there. And, because of Him, we didn't really have to.

I prayed a few years ago that God would give me another chance to see her alive. He is so gracious.
This was just so much to take in. So I sat at her feet. Small talk. Life talk. Went to get a bite to eat, and she drove with me to pick it up. Took it home so she could recover from the drive. Ate some cake.
And when the time was over, I hugged her for so long. I tried to take in the smell of her perfume and some how make it permanent, and even as I tried, I couldn't say that's what I was doing, and I knew it wouldn't last. So I kept trying harder. I know she knew. My family went out to the car, and it was just me and her alone again.
It was a gift. And heartbreaking at the same time. Funny how you can want something like this so bad, when you fear you might not get it, and yet when you do get the chance, it just makes you want the moment to last longer. How do you end that moment?
I guess you don't. It's why I'm still sitting here reliving it.

And one more gift from God this weekend.
I saw some of my family that I haven't seen since I was married. My parents were seperated just a few years before that, and there were some things that just never seemed to go back to normal, for a number of different reasons. And I have blown through town for an hour once before, but I have never really returned home. There were some who I had distanced myself from because I thought that I made them uncomfortable, or I thought that they didn't care. Or I was hurt by them.

But this time, when I had just an hour to see a few, some drove for an hour just to have the chance to say hi. Some were the ones who I didn't think cared.
Some of the family had been telling me I had been away too long. This was the first time I think I believed them - that I felt like I had a place to come back to in their lives. Funny to think that maybe if they knew that I thought that way they would be shocked. So now, for the first time in years, I think I want to go home again, for more than just an hour. Maybe it is safer than I ever thought it was. Thank goodness there were a few who hung in there patiently repeating the same message to me over and over for the last decade.

And maybe I am still just like that prodigal teen age daughter who goes through all that junk she doesn't have to because for whatever reason she can't hear the truth from the ones who really do love her after all.

Thank God for all those in life who are in it for the long haul. Thank God for Him being the ultimate example by which we learn how to do that for others.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Confessions, Part 1...(to be continued...)

Hmmm. Today has been a day of deep thoughts. I think that is good. But for those of you who read my "cave-dwelling" post before I erased it in my insecurity, - these are my thoughts, and I'm not yet out of the cave. :)

I just am thinking of how much I struggle with struggling. I put in my heading that this journal would record the days I would celebrate God' mercy & grace in my life when I failed, but the longer I do this whole blogging thing, I come to grips with the fact that I don't think I really meant it. I think I wanted to mean it. But I would just rather everyone not know I struggle. So I take a vacation from writing on those days. Or I write something cute about my kids. But I don't really share that personal stuff.

And I have family in Him who are good enough to call me on it.

Can you believe I had actually convinced myself you couldn't tell?

I both love finally having brothers and sisters that can and will do that, and yet it keeps bringing me more and more into conflict with this perfectionistic part of me I thought I had gotten rid of. I find now instead that the layers go deeper and deeper than I originally had thought.

Yuck. ( Not the family. The junk in me that I hoped was gone already.)

The part of me that always has to be right.
The part of me that is insensitive and selfish. Daily.
The part of me that gets angry at my kids. Over stupid things. (Not every day, but almost every day that I didn't get a nap.)
The part of me that has no self control or discipline. Even tonight. In almost every area of life. My diets last no more than two days. Usually I'm fully committed to it after a good meal and ready to give up before the next meal rolls around. (That's why I need a nap!)
The part of me that doesn't remember birthdays, or cards, or doesn't save up money to send a gift to someone who means alot to me. The part of me that hates calling people or talking on the phone.

That's the short list. (more of an abbreviation than a list, really.)
To some it may sound stupid. Or generic. But my eyes tear up as I admit it, here, in a semi- permanent form, so I know it is a good start.

It's not a "beat up on myself" session. It is a response to God's truth and His Spirit. A response in faith that I believe He is bigger than all of that combined. A belief that I am not the sum of all of that put together, so there needs to be no fear of it's reality. Or of confessing it.

I really want to both make improvements in these areas, and yet I want to bear no pride in it or dependence on it when I do. I want to change because I believe Him and I believe He can change me and wants to change me, not because I believe I can change out of my own will power.

My confession allows the glory to be His when His Spirit eventually can take over an area I have been unable to conquer myself. My flesh still would be tempted to take credit, and my confession, I think, is a faith move that acknowledges beforehand whatever change may occur in the future is not mine to own, as I have already acknowledged defeat in the present.

"...that times of refreshing may come from the Lord...." (Acts 3:19)

Funny how before you do it, you never think it will end up "refreshing you". And yet, once it's done, you get it. No wonder He would want it to be an ongoing part of our life.

My flesh wants to serve one master in this area. My faith, in it's size, feels like a small contender in this battle, especially in comparison to the dominant area my flesh has long occupied. But my faith wants to move in and serve the True Master. It wants to not be intimidated by the flesh. I can't serve both. And my flesh can't defeat my flesh. Only His Spirit can. So I'm going to start trying to make room.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Parental "Pardon Me? 's"

This has been a rough week for our son. ( And hence a rougher week for us. ) His teacher sent a note home on Thur. saying it was a very bad day for him, (some of you know what that means.) We love this teacher dearly, she is a God-send and she has a son with similar conditions to Eli, so we take her very seriously when she lets us know something has happened. Included on her note were a number of his behavioral dilemmas, and one comment that said "naughty words".

So Jason asked him what naughty words he used.

He couldn't remember for sure but one of them was "barnacle head".

??? A six year old using "barnacle head" as an insult?

I myself had to confirm that yes, indeed, a barnacle is some sort of ocean bottom dwelling creature.

The next day, the teacher reported that he was a different child again, and had a very good day. He only one problem that day, -he spent recess kissing the girls and making them mad.

A far cry from "barnacle head".

Now that is just like a boy, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Okay, Yes! Green means stop.

"Green means stop and red means go." Julia is adamant about it.

We are all in the car and we all try and explain it to her. But when this 3 year old thinks she is right, there is no one changing her mind.
(Jennifer - no comments.)

One day, in some situation, that will be a great quality.

But for now, it's not just that she believes it, she wants to know and make sure that everyone is on board with her way of thinking.
And she has a temper. No one believes me, but she really does. She is intolerably cute and almost mesmerizing by her sweetness. But she does have this side of her. So first start the low level tears.

At this point, the three of us all know that she just needs to learn this lesson. Green means go. Red means stop.

Then comes the high pitched assertions.

We are still clueless and try and hold our ground.

The three year old will not have it! Somehow her 40 pound body begins to rock the entire car.

Just in time, our six year chimes in with wisdom for the moment that exceeds that of mine and Jason's combined.

"Well, green does mean stop for the walkers, and red means go for the walkers." Hmmm. He is right. And we can all agree on that.

So we do.

Today, she criticized my turning right on a green arrow as the other cars in the lane to the left weren't moving yet. But she did accept my explanation.

Someone this week taught the girl not to talk with her mouth full.

Good grief. I guess I'll learn some manners yet.

The Simple Meaning of Life

How many of us have heard others and even ourselves have personally wondered what the point of life is?

I don't know if there is another section of scripture that more clearly and repetitively lays out the purpose of Jesus' life and of our life, than those in John 17.

It reveals one of the most intimate talks Jesus ever has with our Father, and He does it for our benefit. He talks to Him about us. Yes, He prays over those who were there, as well as you and me.

I don't even know if it is possible to catch all of the word plays that reveal so much depth of meaning! Take verse 17, alone:

Jesus asks the Father:
"Sanctify them ( purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy) by Truth. Your Word is Truth. "

(I laughed that Pilate struggled with the concept of what Truth was, (18:38), even as he spoke it!) But then I thought more.

How quickly I have often read over this and elevated the ability of the scriptures alone to create in me truth, and rightness, and missed the correlation that really Jesus was always the Word, from the beginning, and Jesus was always the Truth, from the beginning....always my Sanctification, and my Purification.
(It reminded me of when He warned the Pharisees about their habit of searching the scriptures thinking that in that process alone they would hold eternal life, but the scriptures were only there to lead them to Him!) I admit I have been guilty at times of trying to find my righteousness in knowing truth, and getting every last bit of it right, feeling that might remove doubt and insecurity, but in doing so overlooked the need to trust & believe the Truth , (not my ability to know and discern truth) that would actually sanctify & redeem me. Pilate suddenly didn't seem so hard to identify with from that perspective.

"And this is eternal life: (it means) to know, ( to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and (likewise) to know Him, Jesus, (as the) Christ ( the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent." ( 17:4)

This Truth ( Jesus) set Himself apart, to obey the Father, so that God would be glorified and would receive all that He ever wanted, ( which was us!), through His obedience. Jesus says that is now what is being accomplished:

"I have made Your Name known to them and revealed Your character and Your very Self, and I will continue to make (You) known, that the love which You have bestowed upon Me may be in them ( felt in their hearts) and that I myself may be in them. ( 17:26)

You can't miss fact that Jesus began this whole prayer in excitement of the fact that the disciples had finally stated their full belief that Jesus has been sent by God, not just because of His miracles, but because they believed Him.

And He prays that the same will now be true of us. Here we find our God given purpose, if we ever doubted that He had one for us.

"But these are written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, ( The Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him, you may have life through (in) His name (through Who He is.) (20:31)

"That they all may be one ( just) as You Father are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me." ( 17:21)

There are more out there who have yet to believe in our Christ. They only know of His name, or have heard of His good teachings or miracles. They only know of churches or goods works done in honor of Him.

But they need to know HIM.

So feel confident to fulfill your life's purpose today. Go believe Him. And go share your confidence to help others to believe Him too.

Friday, October 07, 2005

truth versus Truth

"You search and investigate and pore over the Scriptures diligently, because you suppose and trust that you have eternal life through them. And these (very scriptures) testify about me!" ( John 5:39)

"Did not Moses give you the Law? And yet not one of you keeps the Law. ( If that is the truth) why do you seek to kill Me (for not keeping it)?" ( John 7:19)

You know the story from John 8. The woman caught and brought before Jesus for accusation. She's undeniably in the wrong. They caught her in the act! It's obvious and inescapable. I'm mean, how much clearer could it be?!? If Jesus can't agree with them on this being wrong , when it is so downright obvious, then ..... !!!

So He stoops down and writes in the sand. I'm reminded from a Beth Moore study that this finger is the same One that wrote on the very stone tablets the law they now use to condemn her. They point their finger at her sin, but the Finger that has every right to point out the breaking of the law it wrote, is now drawing attention to the sand, and away from condemnation and death.

"Let him who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. " ( John 8:7)

One by one, oldest to youngest walk away. Who can stand under that directive? None. Hence the whole reason our Christ came. The reason He was here now, with her.

So she is left alone with Him, the One who rightfully did not have to leave, and He picks up no stone. He asks her to confirm her state of not being condemned. She does. He sets her free. He tells her she can go. Just like that. Go and sin no more.

"And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. " ( John 8:32)

She knew the truth. She knew why she was there. They knew the truth, too, or so they thought. Then she met the Truth. The One that set her free from the truth of her sinful state, that all, including herself, already knew.

I find myself in both sides of this story. I need to be freed from my sin. It's obvious to all. I can't hide it. I want to be always aware that His Truth of freeing me is bigger than my own truth of my sin. Sometimes I believe the crowd and my conscience more than Him.

But I am also the one who has stood in judgement. And when He called me on it, I was ashamed. And I made the same mistake they did. I walked away from His grace. I didn't stick around to learn more than just that I was wrong. He never told them to walk away, you know, - but rather to just put down their stones. My embarassment & fear of failure causes me to retreat from Him sometimes. I thought I had it right, and then learn I somehow didn't, so I have to run. And in doing so, I miss the intimacy of learning more than just what I was mistaken in.

How humbling, and know the Truth, the Truth in you, and for you, and in love with you. And to know His surpassing greatness exceeds the truth of any reality of personal sin.

"So if the Son liberates you ( makes you free men), then you are really and unquestionably free." ( John 8:36)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Monday, October 03, 2005

A case for neater handwriting....

For those of you doing the reponse questions on the email devo, I thought you'd find this narrowly escaped blooper funny. For question # 1, at first writing & before I sent it out, I referenced Luke 8:31 instead of Luke 8:39. Now those responses would be something else....

A quick fall off that high horse...

"But when you are invited, go and recline a the lowest place, so that when your host comes in, he may say to you, ' Friend, go up higher'. (Luke 14:10)

So I continued with the the scheduled reading in our email study today - ( Luke 13-16) and there is much in the reading today that causes me to reevaluate my own heart.
Humility seems to be at the core of pleasing Jesus, and I often think that is where I am until I read what that humility looks like in some of these passages! I am reminded that Jesus does not mind stepping on our toes if it brings about our awareness to what really matters and pleases Him.
Many of the parables He shares "pinch" those of us in this current day and culture. Scarily, I admit to you that find myself reading something He has said, feeling convicted by it, and then telling myself what it must not mean, as if to alleviate the pressure of what He said. And then I am scared by my own willingness to do that!
Passages that teach us not only to not expect repayment for things we give, but to seek to give to those who can't repay rather than friends or family, or statements that remind us we should not seek our comforts in this lifetime and miss the ones in the coming life, - these conflict with the wants of my flesh heart. I am at times the jealous older brother, the Pharisee who misses the importance of people for the "rules", or the invited
wedding guest with something better to do for the night.
But equally, we have a consistent view in these same passages of a generous Father who is trustworthy. He is the one who rejoices at our return from the ridiculous journeys we take in our heart and mind, and life. He is so able to be trusted when we feel insecure about fully obeying and listening to Him, especially when that takes us out of our comfort zone or the security we are used to providing for ourselves. It is amazing how in love He will keep taking us further and further into that journey of fixing
our eyes on Him and stepping out of our boat in belief of Him, no matter what it may end up looking like it will cost us.
For those of you reading the same passages today, I imagine His words will touch each of us differently. I'm praying for what your Spirit will uniquely hear from His today - and that
you will rejoice in His goodness of sharing it with you!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Okay. I never put my random thoughts up here. But in honor of Shawn M. who always says I think too much, and in confidence that the 6 of you who read this & already know I think like this anyway...

I love the new "Lemon Ice" crest toothpaste. It reminds me of cleaning my bathroom, getting that fresh all clean lemony pine sol smell - but without ever having to touch the toliet. Now even in my own mind it is a disturbing correlation, yet somehow still addictive.

So it made me wonder what toothpaste you use? And does it make you eager to clean your teeth again?

( You can tell I haven't done my bible reading today, can't you! )

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Not so bloggable moments from my kids.

So I asked Eli (6) and Julia (3) tonight, what they thought God looked like. ( As soon as I asked it I thought to myself "What did you just ask them that for? If they don't know - they're gonna turn around and ask you! ) Thankfully, though, they were ready and confident.

Eli said - "I think He is like a king, but without a crown."
Me - "Why doesn't He have a crown?"
Eli - (with a tone of "well everybody knows....) "Because He is the King of everything! "

So feeling a little dumb, I turn to Julia and ask her : "What do you think God looks like?"

She said - "Eating bread."


Now what in the world do I do with that?

I've been in that boat before and I'm NOT going back...

I've figuratively lived that statement out, honestly, many times before.

"...but on the grounds of Your Word, I will lower the nets again." (Luke 5:5)

I wonder what the situations are in each of our lives that we could say we have already worried over, already tried to fix, already said or done all we could have, and like Peter, we have reaped nothing that we set out for? ( And on top of that, we are exhausted from trying! )

"... but on the grounds of Your Word....." , and Peter tries again.

Faith takes a different look at the same situation. It doesn't look through logical eyes. It instead looks into the eyes of the One who can make things that aren't ... as though they are.

And all that Jesus goes on to share in the sermon on the mount, especially here in Luke 6, requires faith eyes. It is hard stuff! A contemporary Christian artist, creating songs from this section of Jesus' teachings, recently titled his album "White Flag", symbolizing how Jesus, in calling us to submission of this incredible heart standard, eventually brings all of us to our knees in surrender of our need for Him. That speaks to me. We can't accomplish it on our own! Reading it again this morning reminds me of that.

" ...pray for the happiness of those who curse you..."
" ...give away to everyone who begs of you... "
" merciful....judge not....

Those were just a few of the words I listened to Him say this morning that touched me personally. I tell myself "That makes no logical sense in this fleshly realm! By my own power, I'm pretty sure I can't accomplish that. It's never worked before ?!?"

Then I think about Peter. "But on the grounds of Your Word......" So I'm reminded it is worth it to look in His eyes and try in His power what never worked for me trying in my own power to do before. And because of Peter's story, I can eagerly anticipate the faithfulness of my Lord - and the rich excitement of seeing all that He promised will both bless me personally and please Him ultimately.

What a journey it is! - opening your heart to the possibility of embracing all that doesn't make sense to your earthly mind because of the One who calls you to live outside of yourself!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Are you looking for Jesus of Nazareth? ...

"Joseph, of Arimathea, .... who was himself, waiting for the kingdom of God, daring the consequences, took courage and ventured to go to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus." ( Mark 15:43 amp)

It's amazing how the beating Christ took on the cross makes His rising so celebrateable in my heart. No matter how many times I read it ( Even just last week,) I find myself emotionally on the edge of my seat as if I don't know the ending, stomach turning from thinking of each detail he endured, and then shooting my hand into the sky with an internal "YESSS!" when the women arrive at his tomb.
"And they said to one another, Who will roll back the stone for us out of the door of the tomb? (16:3) WHO indeed!?!
Even as people pass the cross and 'wag their heads' at Jesus, even as they curse and say the ugliest things to this man, even as they mock His power, (at His last breath!), even in that ugly moment of our display of humanity in conflict with heaven, God , in an awesome display of mercy and grace rips open the curtain, signaling His invitation to us to come into His presence and be His.
I admit, I cannot even now fully comprehend the heart of our God. How I really long for my heart to be made like His.

How I long to be like Joseph.... daring the consequences... for what He was anticipating God to be faithful in.....

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Don't we all ?...........

Me - "Eli - can you do me a big favor and take this milk glass to the table?"

Eli - ( With much excitement) "Sure mom! - that's not a big favor. That is easy mom. But I really want to do you a big favor! Can I do something big for you? "

Me - " Wow Eli,.... Sure you can! Hmmm..... "

Eli - "Alright! Except not right now. I really like playtime, and playing. I like playing really a lot more than jobs. "

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Will the right faith in me please step forward?


"And he kept repeating, Do you not yet understand?"(Mark 8:21)

I can't believe all the different forms belief and faith take in
Mark 4-8! It is displayed at all different levels - from those who
didn't have any, and hence missed out on Jesus power, to the kind that demons had ( ironically confident enough to beg Him because of His power - making me wonder if sometimes my faith hasn't even been as confident as theirs.)
You see Herod, riding the fence with his belief,- both intrigued by what John the Baptist shared and yet non-committal, and so ends up having to kill the very man he was fascinated by. The Pharisees, confident faith in themselves, again, missed the boat. (I have to say I found my toes being stepped on more than I liked to admit in this passage. )
And even with the disciples, we see that although they witnessed so much, Jesus was worried that they weren't taking it all in and letting in make a difference in how they thought about life and problems. They were still befuddled about how to handle lifes problems despite Jesus having an amazing track record for them.
In my spiritual journey, I at some point have found myself at almost every place. ( Sometimes I feel I'm at different points in the same day. ) I love how these chapters end with Jesus drawing the disciples unto Himself to explain again what life is about.

"If anyone intends to come after me, let him deny himself, ( forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interest) and take up his cross and follow with Me (continually cleaving steadfastly to Me). For whoever wants to save his ( higher, spiritual, eternal) life will lose it, (the lower, natural, temporal life which is lived only on earth); and whoever gives up his life ( which is lived only on earth) for My sake and the Gospel's will save it ( his higher spiritual life in the eternal kingdom of God). " Mark 8: 34-35 AMP

So I find that might be a good daily question to ask myself.
"Do I yet understand? "

And so it begins..........

Eli - "Mom - do you know what my favorite part of the day was?"
Me - "No. What?"
Eli - "When I was chasing around the girls today, and then they started chasing me. Then I fell, and see my owie right here? " (points to his knee. )
Me - "Oh yeah. I see."
Eli - "My favorite part of the day was that when I fell, the girls cared. They stopped playing and helped me up and asked if I was okay. That was my favorite part of the day."

Hmmmm.. I thought the "girls are yucky" stage would last longer.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No pushing or shoving please....

In reading the first four chapters of Mark this morning, I am struck by the differences in perception revealed by each author. (Compared to Matthew), Mark comes out "swinging" in his revelation of Jesus constant action towards people. I'm just struck by all the times Jesus is surrounded by people....the town is crowded at his door, ( when they figure out he is at Peter's house, .. he has to get a boat so the people don't crush him, he moves from city to city, and sometimes he even retreats to lonely desert places just to get a break. Chapter 3:20 says there were so many people around him he couldn't even eat, and his family thought he was out of his mind. Wow. He endured so much on our behalf. I can get grumpy when someone calls at dinnertime. (Like anyone can guess the 4 hour span in which we might eat dinner. ) Okay - I'll be honest. I just hate the phone anyways. (Jennie already knew it. )
When I ponder His endurance, it is easy to bow at His feet. That He would be tireless on my behalf. That He would be patient
and hungry and tired, and sleepy, and absolutely spent so that we would hear His invitation to us. And what an eternal and life changing invitation I'm reminded that is. Awesome.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

There's a doghouse in the backyard ... for one of us.

From Friday morning.

Me - ( as I come in emotionally slamming the door.) "Uhhhh! I am such a baby about stuff! I can't believe I am such a baby! Good grief! "

Jason - "Which thing?"

.....long pause....

Jason - " I mean..... uh..." "uh.. what do you mean?"

.....long pause..... knowing laughter.

Me - " I am so blogging that. "

My hopes are to put enough quotes up here that Jason feels like he should start his own blog. :) Danna - be forewarned, if you don't get started I may try the same tactic on you! Just kidding!

Unwelcome , Uninvited , Come on in anyways.

Do you ever have one of those times where you end up experiencing a lot more than you felt you signed up for?
We had a ladies retreat at Memorial this weekend. I'm sad to say, I hadn't prepared mentally or spiritually for participating. In fact, I was packing at 7:05. ( It began at 7:00 pm.) Thank goodness, many women had already committed themselves to praying over it and giving it into God's hands to be used for His glory. I really think it was.
It was fun, but as the day went on, it became very hard. I went for popcorn and laughter with others, and hopefully a good uplifting message.
I found myself being put on the potter's wheel, being stretched and squeezed and molded, again. Did I say I just came for the popcorn and laughter?
About a year or two ago, I had shared with some ladies my need for God to heal some heart issues in me - that I wanted to be able to cry and show emotion with and for others. For those of you who were there, I am certainly a "10:00 news" lady when it comes to sharing my life. After our morning session, Theresa (thanks for carrying that burden with me, friend, ) celebrated a small victory - saying "I'm so glad to see you crying!" . I thought it ironic that Adrienne, who had been my assigned partner, and who didn't know me well, might need to be educated on my normal non-emotional demeanor. What we got to experience in getting to know each other was anything but flat and non-emotional. I'm glad He chose her though - He's good at that.
And He is good about coming into areas of our heart, even if He wasn't invited that particular day, and doing what is best for us. I had my day somewhat planned, and deviating from it to take this emotional detour was right and good for Him to require of me. I was reluctant to open the door, even though I'd asked Him to drop in and do something about this area before. I'm glad He is pushy at the right time. I think I'm not alone in thinking that while I desire the outcome, I've never really got my hand waving furiously in the air to volunteer for the process of being broken.
I'm just always thankful He knows best, and is patient and persistent in bringing it about.
I went home with a headache and a freed up heart. And a doorprize. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Donuts Donuts Donuts

So I'm thinking about the little packaged donuts you can buy at the store. Bobby (youth minister) buys them every morning, 1 pkg. Of powdered, 1 pkg.of chocolate.

He offers me a donut ( thanks Bobby!) and I take a white one. So we have this discussion about the chocolate ones, which I don't like because they have a sort of "waxy" taste to them. This, however is the very thing he likes about them. I guess "waxy" is okay, if you are committed to the experience of waxy, but I myself go into a chocolate donut thinking nothing about wax.

However, I admit that I do always compromise my own stance in my eating the powdered donuts. They have some strange residual taste too. But at least it is not waxy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Oh yeah.... titles.

I just figured out the title thing to this whole blogging effort.
After seeing all my recent posts, I knew someone would be excited for my progress!

Swallowed Up " that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."

Julia - "Mommy, I promise I'll eat broccoli and cheese for you when I grow up."

In another note....

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. ( I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls. ) Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle ( meek) and humble ( lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ( relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet ) for your souls. For my yoke is wholesome ( useful, good- not harsh, hard, sharp or pressing, but comfortable, gracious and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne." Mt. 11:28-30

Today I was struck at the constant diversity of Jesus' daily purpose. He walks through towns, healing and amazing people, drawing them in curiosity & appreciation unto Himself. At the same time, those who have been following Him for a little while now, He begins to educate on the true nature of being a disciple of His. And to the religious leaders of the day, He strongly reminds them of the true nature of the Father they claim to serve.

Twice in these 4 chapters, He says something that stuck out to me. "Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy ( that is, readiness to help those in trouble) and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims." (9:13) "And if you had only know what this saying means, ' I desire mercy, (readiness to help, to spare, to forgive) rather than sacrifice and sacrificial victims', you would not have condemned the guiltless." (12:17)

I don't know why it caught my attention differently this morning, but those statements from Jesus, helped me understand why He can confidently invite us to Himself and promise that His burden is light. ( 11:28-30) One Who embodies mercy is a peace bringing friend. His gentleness and humility promise to not intimidate, but relieve. Which of us in the daily struggles of life doesn't need that!

"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor is a servant or slave above his master."

I'm hoping to begin more and more to embody the same qualities that first invited me to Him, so that those who encounter me today also get the glimpse of Him that makes them wonder why this One they've met is so different from the world around them.

I need lots of prayers to make that happen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Swallowed Up " that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."

I'm quickly learning that reading the New Testament at this pace is a different experience, but a valuable one. It was easy this morning to envision myself sitting on a hillside, listening to Jesus say one amazing and profound thing after another, and hardly being able to take it all in. Ironically, however, I think I was able to get the big picture of what He was saying more than I have in the past when I have tried to dissect each statement.

I had a new impression made on me this morning from the Amplified version of the Bible, and a look back at the Greek language for chapter 7:14. It reads "But the gate is narrow ( contracted by pressure) and the way is straightened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.""

Trying to take in all that Jesus shares in the sermon on the mount has most certainly at times left me feeling "contracted by pressure" or "straightened and compressed". Any time we battle our flesh to submit it to His Spirit, the wrestling that goes on there is uncomfortable! But just as a gate leads to a beautiful open pasture, "squeezing" through that process just releases us into a freedom of life in His Spirit that our flesh would have never fully satisfied us with. His truth is always amazing... and always requires us to step out on faith and sometimes into that uncomfortable zone before we get to experience it!

Have a blessed day - and be open to any "squeezing" He may bring your way! ;)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Swallowed Up " that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."

Profound moments from 10 years of marriage.

Jason " You know, if you don't catch that cricket, we're not going to sleep tonight."

Me "What's wrong with your lazy behind?...."

(he laughs, and I laugh at him laughing.) i love that guy. he cracks me up.

Swallowed Up " that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life."

" ... for He seems to do nothing of Himself which He can possibly delegate to His creatures. He commands us to do slowly and blunderingly what He could do perfectly in the twinkling of an eye. He allows us to neglect what He would have us do, or to fail. Perhaps we do not fully realize the problem, so to call it, of enabling finite, free wills to co-exist with Omnipotence. It seems to involve every moment almost a sort of divine abdication." - C.S. Lewis

I love this quote. It puts so concisely what I have grappled with for years in my relationship with God - a desire to please perfectly, and a body and self will that don't keep in step with that desire.

I guess that is ultimately why I grow more and more in love with Him. His mercy inspires my own. And boy do I need it.

Julia's first haircut, nailpolish and lipgloss today. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed her enjoying those things!

Today was the first day in a commitment to read through the New Testament in the next 90 days with 34 other women. What a huge privilege! I'm excited to see what God will bring from it.

I'm realizing that I am going to have to be concise with this blogging thing. I feel like I'm trying to catch up on a long overdue letter to all my friends and family. Which is funny considering no one even knows I have one right now!

Okay - here's my first test to see if I can work this thing!