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 !