Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Not for A Moment

This is me and my 2nd born.  Little Samuel.  Sweet thing.  It wasn't too long after this photo, a few months later, a few little teeth later, the learning of one little word later…'mama', that he would start crying as soon as he realized I had left a room.  Not just a whining-come back-I'm bored cry but a heart-breaking, belly-deep, where's-my-mama, she's-never-coming-back cry.  "Mama-mama-mama" he would sob, as I quickly shoved the laundry in the dryer.  It broke my heart to consider that in his baby-thinking, Mama might not be returning.  I would rush back upstairs to pick up my little red-faced, tear-stained baby, soothing him with "Shhh...baby, Mama is here. Mama is here.  Mama would never leave you."  It wouldn't be long before his sobs would quiet and his chin would stop quivering and all would be right with the world again.

There's been seasons in my life where I've been much like a little Samuel.

"God?  Where are You?"
"God?  Have You left me?"
"God?  Where did You go?"

My heart has cried out for Him but all I felt was silence.
I have longed for just one word from Him and nothing.
And I wondered if He had deserted me.

David wondered the same thing.  Quite often.  Read through the Psalms and you can see how many times David asked God; "Why have You forsaken me?"

Like a little Samuel, if we can't sense Him for a season, we think that He has gone from us, that He might never return.

Can I reassure you about something?  Can I reassure myself (!) about something?
He promised NEVER to leave His children or forsake them.
His silence does not mean His absence.
Learn from David's experience…
"For I said in my haste, 'I am cut off before Your eyes;' (sound familiar?)
Nevertheless, You heard the voice of my supplications
when I cried out to You."  (Psalms 31:22)

God hears you.
He loves you.
He is planning your future.
He is working all things out for your good.
He is arranging things you don't even know about.
He is with you.

Here's a song that a friend sent to me today.  "Not for a Moment"
Not for a moment has He left you friend.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Out of Control

When I was younger I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder's book series, "Little House on the Prairie".  I especially liked her book, "The Long Winter".  Well, Winter 2014 certainly has been a long winter (though I wouldn't start complaining too much, unlike Laura's family, we haven't had to resort to a diet solely of potatoes...yet). Winter is not that bad if you really get into it..sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, hiking and snowmobiling.  I enjoy all those sports except for one - sledding.
I can abide sledding as long as the conditions are ideal.  Meaning, long, low hill with no obstacles or bumps along the way.  I like being in control.  Sledding seems so out of control to me.  Snowshoeing - control.  Sledding - no brakes.  Ice skating - control (well, if you can skate).  Sledding - crazy speed.  Hiking - control.  Sledding -  trees!  Snowmobiling - control.  Sledding - ending up on a bay with breaking ice (o.k..so that may be original to where I grew up).
I feel safe when I am in control.  Throw some unexpected obstacles at me or give me a life going at a speed that's too fast, and I don't feel so safe anymore.
However, the reality is that in this world I will have many obstacles.  The Bible even tells me so.."In this world you will have trouble" (John 16:33).  It may be a relationship gone wrong, loss of a job, a health issue, sending your child to school.  Any number of things that can make us feel that we are not as in control as we thought.
So, what do we do?  Jesus very plainly encourages us in His next breath..."In this world you will have trouble, BUT TAKE HEART, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).  It is Jesus who is ultimately in control and has ultimately overcome all of those obstacles for us.  We don't know the future, we don't know what His perfect plan may be, but we can hang our hats on this; He told us to TAKE HEART, or be of good cheer because He has gone before us and handled everything already.  It may seem a long way coming, and we may not make any sense of it right now, but your life is in His loving control.

Take heart dear friends.  Always, take heart.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Just call me Hulk Hogan...

I grew up watching WWF with my dad.  Yes, I can tell you all about the Macho Man, Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior and of course, Hulk Hogan.  I can even remember The Undertaaaaaaker" (eww).  I'm not much into wrestling any more.  However, living in a house with 3 boys, 1 man and 1 male dog...it seems to inevitably be a part of my life.  The daily evening ritual tends to be an all out wrestling match on the rug with three little boys and their dad.

 The dog stands around and drops a slobbery squeaky ball in the midst of them occasionally.  I tend to stay out of these matches (unless provoked of course :).  However, as of late, me and baby boy have been having our own WWF.  He does not want to change his diaper.  I'll lay him down and he'll squiggle and squirm and try to roll over and kick his pants off at the same time.  While I dodge legs and arms and...um...diaper contents...I try to gently tell him that if he would just stay still for 8 seconds I could quickly be done and he could be on his way - off to smear peanut butter on my other couch.   Instead, he wrestles and cries and complains and make the process a whole lot longer.
I sometimes wonder if I do this with God.  Do I wrestle and writhe and complain when He's trying to clean me up?  Do I kick and scream when I have to just be still for a moment?  Is He just saying, gently; "Be patient, it will be over sooner if you just be still and trust'?. 
In Isaiah 30, we see the Lord in a 'wrestling' match with His children;

15 This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it."

Oh yes, there are times when I will have none of it.  Just depending on my own strength and letting fears and anxieties drive away quietness and trust. 
Then He so graciously says;
"18 Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!"
Lord, I pray that I will cease to struggle against you and wait patiently on you.  You long to be gracious to me and to rise up and show me compassion.  What a blessing this could be as I stop wrestling. 
Blessings Friends 
This is me at my wrestling finest...and the little culprit in the diaper...:)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Warrior Princess

Anyone remember Xena? 

Or how about She-Ra? 
As a little girl, I thought their courage was pretty cool.  I mean, I loved my Barbies and all but there's something about a fearless girl standing up to the enemy.  Hair blowing in the wind, chin held high, face set, hands gripping her weapon. 
I have to admit, as much as I admire these princess warriors, I am a reluctant one myself.  I don't mind the fight if it's an exhilarating new challenge kind of fight.  I don't even mind it too much if it's a keep your patience while your children are using your folded laundry for a fort kind of fight.  It's when the fight gets intense, confusing, hard...that's when I don't feel so much like a warrior.  I just 'feel' like digging a hole and hiding.
But listen to what Timothy said;

"Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12)."

A few weeks ago my father-in-law summed up what Timothy wrote when he said these two statements to me; "Remember, it's a fight. And it's a good fight."

It kind of called out a little warrior princess in me.  Who am I to expect that the fight would always be a 'fun' one.  Battles have times of rest, times of exciting challenge but also times of outright, intense, teeth clenching, barely able to keep your shield up fighting.  So should I be surprised when God allows the battle for my life, my eternity, to become intense?  Not so much.  We do have an enemy who is fighting to pull us from God's grip, from abundant life in Him.  Ephesians 6 describes or battle;   

 "10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.11Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.13Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS,15and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE;16in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

So, don't be afraid warrior princesses, take up your armor and fight the good fight.  And when you are weary, call a sister and ask her to battle with you.  And always remember this; we are to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of HIS MIGHT!  He holds our head up.  He will strengthen you.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

He Knows...

I know that my oldest son 
    doesn't like his food touching on his plate,
    loves solving 'mysteries',
    has a double 'cow lick' on the back of his head - like his dad,
    will pick chocolate milk over juice any time,
    is an encourager,
    wakes up every morning at around 7:30am,
    only eats the icing off cupcakes,
    doesn't like his movies too intense (Franklin, Diego and the Octonauts suffice),
    and loves his own quiet time now and then.

I know that my middle son
    loves tools of every kind
    loves meat
    has a little mole on his belly that he tries to scratch off occasionally
    will pick juice over milk any time,
    is a 'foreman',
    wakes up with his 'blankely' in hand and eyes squinting from the light,
    loves the color green and baby elephants,
    does not love wearing his winter coat - like his dad,
    and is a fierce protector of his brothers.


I know that my baby
    likes his milk warm,
    loves pulling things out of any drawer he can open,
    has a double 'cow lick' on the back of his head - like his dad,
    wants to eat everything on his own, no help,
    likes transferring the dog food from the food dish into the water dish,
    laughs from his belly when you tickle his ribs,
    has two teeth trying vigorously to break the skin,
    likes music,
    doesn't like his hands sticky,
    and sleeps on his belly at night, arms tucked underneath.

I know the difference between their 'tired cranky' and 'hungry cranky',
I know what things will delight them,
I know the little dance they do that tells me they need to go potty,
I know when they need their fingernails clipped and their ears cleaned,
I know when they just need a tight hug and reassurance.

I know all about them because I love them.
I pay attention to all the little details because I love them.
Their little personalities and quirks are engraved in my heart.

Look at this from Psalm 139:1

O Lord, you...know everything about me.

Sometimes the fact that God knows "everything" about me can seem a little scary.
It could make me think that God is the big guy up in the sky who sees everything and is waiting to hit me with a lightening bolt at the next wrong move.

Or just maybe it means that He knows I
    like sunrises
    love the smell of spring
    love kissing my baby's squishy cheeks
    love the smell of wild roses
    delight in a hike in the woods
    breathe deep of the smell of sun-warmed black berries
    needed my husband just like he is
    love fried mushrooms
    and need Him desperately to live abundantly.

Maybe it means that He knows all about me because He loves me.
Maybe it means He pays attention to all the details, even the number of hairs on my head, because He loves me.
Maybe I am engraved on the palm of His hand, because He loves me.

He knows all about you too...because He loves you.

"How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!"

Psalm 139:17-18b

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Luve Project Gone Wrong...

So, I think I got it all wrong.  At least, partly wrong.
I've been teaching the kids about loving each other using the "love chapter" in 1 Corinthians 13.  Each week we were focusing on a different aspect...you know, "love is kind" so don't hit your brother with a stick.
Then it hit me (not the stick).
We love God because He.Loved.Us.First. 
The first thing I need to teach my children, even before teaching them how to love others, is how God loves them.
1 Corinthians is about what true love looks and acts like.  If God is love, then 1 Corinthians also describes how He loves us.
So, I've altered my plan a little...
Each week we'll still focus on a characteristic of love but it will be about that love, toward us, from God.
I don't want my children to think that this relationship with Jesus is all about "getting it right" and "playing by the rules." 
I want them to know that this relationship with Jesus is first, about how much He loves them. 
Enough to die for them.
If they can grasp how wide, how deep, how high, how long the love of God is...loving others will be a natural outcome.
It will be a good refresher course for me too.  That's an understatement. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Luve Project: Love is Slooooooow to Anger.

I don't mind folding laundry.  I pop up and make my bed before my eyes are barely open.  I love cooking.  I actually (occasionally) look forward to cleaning the toilets.  I like making our windows shine.  I even kind of enjoy cleaning out our van.  But, I am sloooooooooooooooooooooow to empty that dishwasher.  I will cram as many dishes as possible into the dishwasher to put off having to empty it again.  Thankfully, my husband doesn't mind.  Thankfully, he does it almost every day.  Thankfully, or we might be eating straight off the table.
Not sure what it is about putting away the dishes.  I just dread it and thus, am slow to finish it.
I wish I was as slow at getting angry as I am with emptying the dishwasher.
This was me as I was putting my boys to bed tonight: "Josiah! Put that book away so we can pray!"  Pray and ask for forgiveness for me by that time.  :)  1 Corinthians says that love is "not irritable" or "not easily angered" or, for my son's comprehension, "slow to anger".  This should be a good one...for the boys and for me.

(Luve Project Update: Love is Not Selfish)
I have to say, my boys did great with their verse this last week.  It really seemed to stick with them.  I heard lots of "look mom, I'm not being 'fish'" (we did have to work on the actual word, "selfish"...).  I was very proud of them and it gave me encouragement to keep on going...:)