Monday, December 31, 2007

Loving Jesus MORE

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! I spent Christmas day and several days surrounding it fighting off a cold, but we managed to make fun memories in spite of the sneezing. *grin*
While I have been on my blogging break, in addition to making the above mentioned memories (BTW, I will blog about some of them soon), I have been feeding a new addiction, i.e. reading Karen Kingsbury books. A few months ago a friend gave me a book by Karen Kingsbury which I simply loved. (Actually it was two books in one - One Tuesday Morning and Beyond Tuesday Morning.) Just as I was about finished with the second book, this same friend sent me another one of Karen's books for Christmas.
This time she sent me Divine. I finished the book I was reading and got started on my new one. And I tore through the new one! The story itself is compelling, and made me do a lot of thinking.
But the thing that really drew me wasn't the fiction - it was the Truth. The Truth about Jesus - His incredible love. His Divine power. His willingness to forgive - everything. His ability to redeem shattered lives.
Our Savior is amazing.
I stayed up too late last night so I could finish reading and as I put the book down I realized I was more drawn to Jesus. More in love with Him. More wanting to be like Him.
If you have a chance to read this book, do it!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Merry Christmas

OK, friends, I am joining many others in the blogosphere who are taking a break from blogging through Christmas.
I pray you will have a blessed time with your family, and even some quite moments to reflect on God's incredible love for you - shown in the coming of His Son!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Memory Verse Monday

Ahhhh, today is bittersweet. It is my last day in Psalm 22 and though I am glad to see where David has ended this particular psalm, I always feel a certain sadness when there isn't a "next verse" for me to anticipate.
But, alas, there is so much more of God's Word for me to dig into, surely He will continue to delight my heart with further study!

For today I want to share with you the verse I memorized and meditated on this morning.

They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it.
Psalm 22:31
As I read over this verse this morning, and as I have continued to ponder it during my day, I am consistently drawn to the last five words.

for he has done it

The reason "they" will proclaim God's righteousness to a people yet unborn is because He has done it.
And what, you may be wondering, has He done? I looked back through Psalm 22 to find the answer to that question. God has delivered (v.4), saved (v.5), given life (v.9), helped (v.10), delivered again (v.20), rescued and saved again (v.21), cared and listened (v.24), and ruled (v.28). He has been perfectly faithful and righteous before David and all His creation, so He will be proclaimed throughout all generations.
But I know the answer to the question What has He done? is not limited to David's experience in Psalm 22. I have also been thinking today about the things God has done in my life - the things which compel me to proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn. (I'm getting a picture in my head of holding my grandchildren on my lap and telling them of the goodness of the Lord!)

* He saved me from stupid things I did as a teenager - before I even knew Him personally.
* He gave me new life through His Son.
* He delivered me from the pit I was in as a mother and gave me hope in the midst of the struggle.
* He brought me through brain surgery and took away my seizure disorder.
* He gave me a story to tell and a platform to share it.
* He convinced me of His love for me and made me secure in it.

God has been so good to me, and I will proclaim His righteousness to a people yet unborn.

And how about you, my friend? What has He done for you???

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Did You Notice?

OK, I guess my house is in too much disarray this morning. I got up to have my quiet time, and I could not find my Bible. BibleGateway to save the day! I typed in key words from yesterday's verse in Psalm 22 and - Presto! - I found my verse for today. I love it when I can use technology well. *grin*
So, after I memorized my verse for today I was looking around on the BibleGateway site and saw this verse of the day thing. It said I could put it on my own site, and if you look over to the can see I successfully added a verse of the day here at Surviving Motherhood. Yea!

Did you also notice the Survival Supporters? I think these companies would be of particular interest to my UK readers. Please click over and visit them! (By the way, one of the links isn't working properly...we're working on it.)

One more thing. Have you ever used BibleGateway? I discovered it recently and think it is just the coolest tool. It's like having a huge concordance of every Bible translation there is - right at your finger tips.

Tomorrow is looking like it will be a crazy busy day, but I will do my best to post for Memory Verse Monday. Have a great Sunday!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ever Have One of Those Days?

I Don't Want To

I don't want to play on the sidewalk.
I don't want to sit on the stoop.
I don't want to lick any ice cream.
I don't want to slurp any soup.
I don't want to listen to music.
I don't want to look at cartoons.
I don't want to read any stories.
I don't want to blow up balloons.

I don't want to dig in the garden.
I don't want to roll on the rug.
I don't want to wrestle the puppy.
I don't want to give you a hug.
I don't want to shoot any baskets.
I don't want to bang on my drum.
I don't want to line up my soldiers.
I don't want to whistle or hum.

I don't want to program my robot.
I don't want to strum my guitar.
I don't want to use my computer.
I don't want to wind up my car.
I don't want to color with crayons.
I don't want to model with clay.
I don't want to stop my not wanting...
I'm having that kind of a day.

from I'm Glad I'm Me: Poems About You
by Jack Prelutsky
A few days ago Matthew read this poem to me and we laughed together about what a rotten day this kid must have had that he didn't want to have ice cream, play with his puppy, or even have computer time.
Well, I'm telling you, today Joshua could have been that kid. He came home from school upset about everything. He listed off all the things which had gone wrong today and announced his day had been completely ruined. Things got even worse for him when I told him he was, in fact, going to be joining us at school tonight to watch the second graders program in which Matthew had a part. Joshua yelled about coming along, saying he had seen the program at school today and it was boring.
Once again, Joshua rattled off the terrible things from today and then challenged me, "Is there anything else you want to do to ruin my day???" I almost rose to the occasion and told him I wasn't going to allow him to have the sour cream and onion chips he had gotten out for an after school snack, but I thought better of it and simply put them away.

It was hard for me to see Joshua having these fits today. I knew life wasn't as bad as he was viewing it. I knew he would get his assignment done. I knew today really was not the worst day of Joshua's life. But I also knew there was nothing I could say which would convince him otherwise, so I watched him and prayed - asking God to calm Joshua's spirit, asking Him to love Joshua through me, and asking Him to keep me from yelling right back at Joshua - because that is really what I wanted to do.
In the end, we worked together and Joshua completed his assignment so he was able to have some computer time before dinner. He did go with us to see Matthew's program (as if he had any choice!) and I even caught him saying to Elizabeth,"Watch this part. It's really funny," and scooting on the floor to get a better view. And tonight as I tucked him in to bed we discussed the fact that today wasn't so bad afterall. All's well that ends well, right?

Now, if I can just figure out how to help Joshua avoid those downward spirals in the future...

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Don't Give Up!

This morning I met Jessica at Fitness Together for some more personal torture training. I have said it before, and I'll say it again, I absolutely love working out with a personal trainer! She really pushes me and makes me work hard. Though last week I went in and said, "I'm speaking tomorrow, Jessica. I need to be able to walk. Take it easy on my legs today." This past Monday she said (with a knowing laugh), "You aren't speaking this week, are you?" Hmmm, how can I keep my schedule a secret from her???
One of the reasons I like working out with her so much showed itself again today. We were working my arms and the first time through the circuit wasn't too bad. But then we did the whole thing again. Twice.
The second time through I was getting tired and started complaining. But Jessica kept reassuring and encouraging me. "You can do it, Karen. Keep going." And I did.
It was the third time through when she used a new encouraging phrase. I was struggling to lift my arms, feeling ready to quit, (on about my third or fourth rep!) and Jessica said, "Don't give up, Karen!" I soooooo wanted to give up, but Jessica's words helped me press on. One more. Ooonnee mmmmoore. I didn't think I could do another and Jessica could tell. She came up behind me and said, "I'll help you." She put her hands under my elbows and helped me lift those weights, while she repeated, "Don't give up!"
On my own, I would have given up. A long time ago! But with encouragement and help, I kept going and made it through.

I couldn't help but apply this situation to being a mom. How many times am I in the midst of a struggle, perhaps one I have already gone through a time or two (or three, or four...) before. I wonder when it is going to end. I doubt if I'm going to make it through. I begin to believe I simply don't have what it takes to face this situation. And then a friend comes by my side and speaks some word of encouragement to me, or simply gives me a hug and assures me I will make it through.
We need each other to speak those words when we're at our wits' end, feeling like throwing in the towel one more time. Don't give up!
And sometimes we need each other to give that practical help - that lifting of our arms - so we can get through.
I am so thankful for my friends who encourage me to not give up, and who lend me a hand when they can see I need it.

Where are you today? Are you in need of those words?

Don't give up, my friend!

Or perhaps you have seen someone around you (a mom, or otherwise!) to whom you can speak those words and offer that help. We need each other, and we're better together. Let's be lifters!

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Memory Verse Monday

Oh, good!!! It's Monday and that means I get to share with you the verse I memorized this morning and more about David in Psalm 22. Truly, I think of you during my week as God is speaking to me through His Word, and I look forward to Memory Verse Monday and my opportunity to share. Thanks, Karen at Karen's Ramblings, for coming up with MVM!

Well, the good news is David has not slipped back into despair this week! Though he has still been aware of his circumstances, David has kept his focus on God. (I feel like cheering for him!) And today he is (and therefore I am, too) reflecting on how God has handled his trials. Verse 24 says,

For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
One of the things I do when I am meditating on verses in the Psalms is look up words to which I do not know the definition. Well, even though I know what despise means, I looked it up today and I simply love what I found there. It said, "to regard as beneath one's notice and unworthy of consideration or interest." I love it because Psalm 22:24 says that is what God does not do in regards to our suffering. God does not regard our suffering as beneath His notice. He does not see our suffering as unworthy of His consideration or interest.
Rather, God listens to our cry for help. I looked up listen, too, and loved what I found. "To hear with thoughtful attention." How about reading it this way? With thoughtful attention He heard his cry for help. Those words create a picture in my mind of God leaning in toward David, giving David His undivided attention. I imagine Him fully aware of David's situation, truly compassionate for what David is enduring, and perfectly able to help.

As I thought about this verse today and considered God's care for David in his trials - and the way He handles mine - I was encouraged to realize how much He cares. The things we are facing are not "beneath" Him. Our struggles are not "unworthy" of God's attention. I thought about the times I have cried out to Him in desperation, focused on my circumstances and feeling like I would never make it through. I realized I have never thought God doesn't care, but sometimes I have forgotten that He does. How wonderful to be reminded of this Truth in this verse today.

Whew! David has been through quite a bit in Psalm 22. Last week I summarized verses 12-18 this way: I am intimidated. I am threatened. I am completely spent. I am utterly hopeless. I might as well be dead. I am pitiful. I am humiliated. Can you relate to him? Been through some rough times recently? I pray you will find hope in and be encouraged by his thoughts in verse 24 today.
For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
I am carrying that verse in my pocket today, and God is carrying me.
If you cry for help, He will carry you, too, my friend!

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Friday, December 07, 2007

got grace?

Thanks for all the nice comments about my new template. I'm glad you like it! *grin*

This week I have had a couple of opportunities to share a certain entry from my next book with women who were feeling bad about things they had forgotten to do. Since I haven't posted any of those entries here in awhile, I decided this morning I would share it with all of you, too. Especially with Christmas on the horizon and the extra stress we often feel at this time to "get everything done, and done right," I have a feeling our need for God's grace is particularly high.
I pray you'll be blessed!

What’s for dinner?

If it’s Sunday, the answer to the question, What’s for dinner? is always the same. Sunday dinner at my house always consists of frozen pizza - the self-rising kind - one cheese, and one pepperoni. Except for those occasions when one of the yummier varieties is on sale. And except for the other occasions, when I go to the freezer and realize I forgot to buy pizza at the store last Monday.
I remember one Sunday evening when the boys were going outside to play. As I was heading downstairs to get the pizzas out of the freezer, they were asking when to be home for dinner. I was opening my mouth to say, “Be home in half an hour,” when I changed my response to, “Awwww! I forgot to get pizza.” I turned to go back upstairs and muttered, “I’m such a dummy sometimes.” Joshua chimed in, “Just go to Little Caesars and get the Hot & Ready pizza. I like that kind better anyway!” While I appreciated his efforts to cheer me up, I still felt like a dummy. I thought, C’mon, Karen. You do the same thing every week. How could you forget such a simple thing? What are you going to forget next week? Milk?
This private berating had ended by the time I got to the bottom of the stairs. When I looked up I saw Matthew standing with his arms open toward me, and heard the most precious words come out of his mouth. “You're not a dummy, Mom. You just forgot. Everyone does that sometimes!” Then he smothered me with hugs and kisses.
His words were so simple, and so full of grace. I was angry with myself for a small oversight – already blowing it out of proportion – and Matthew was reminding me it really was not a big deal. You just forgot. Everyone does that sometimes. Such wisdom, flowing from the mouth of a six-year-old.
God used the words Matthew spoke to remind me of my need to receive and live in His grace every day. He showed me His grace abounds around me all the time.
*I am covered by the blood of Jesus and by His grace my sins are forgiven.
*He extends grace to me in the form of patience, as He gently and persistently speaks to me about something until I “get it.”
*I see God’s grace to me when I find the strength to make it through a situation which seemed impossible.
*His grace comes to me in the form of a friend who hugs me and speaks words of life to my weary soul.
*And I see God’s grace when someone recognizes my limitations and offers to help me out.
I have a tendency toward perfectionism - I want to do everything just right. But I am not perfect, and God knows it. He knows I will never get everything right. He knows I cannot do all things. And He still has not fired me as wife to Brian and mother to Elizabeth, Joshua and Matthew.
We’re in this thing together, God and I are! I am doing my best, but God is the best. Every day I am learning a little bit more what it means to trust Him. I am believing - by His grace - He will catch me when I fall and He will supply what I lack. The truth of the matter is I will never be perfect this side of heaven and, because of God’s grace, I don’t have to be!

I can still hear Matthew’s words echo in my mind. You’re not a dummy, Mom. You just forgot. Everyone does that sometimes. When it came to getting something on the table that night, Little Caesar’s came through for me. But the best part of dinner was the grace God poured out on me through Matthew.

Your Turn: Do you have a tendency to expect perfection from yourself, even though you may be able to extend grace to other people? Do you sometimes beat yourself up because of the “simple things” you forgot? In what areas of your life do you particularly need God’s grace today? Get a paper and pen and write those things down, then present it to God. You can come to Him – broken, overwhelmed, and feeling hopeless – admitting your need, and receive His grace.
God knows you cannot do and be everything. Only He is Almighty. Spend time in prayer praising God for Who He Is, and thanking Him for the grace He so freely gives.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Soooooo, What Do You Think?

OK. Here it is!

What do you think?

Do you like my "new look"?

In getting ready for this makeover, I did quite a bit of intentional blog visiting - looking for things I like which I wanted to include here.
Like the divider between posts. Do you like the little train?
And the "wall paper" for the border...
And a softer, more customized header...
And a little more organization in the sidebar...
Someone suggested I should have a way to order my book directly from my blog, so Linda did that for me, too. Now you can just click on the image of my book in the sidebar and be transported magically to the book page of my website.
In the next week or so I am going to be adding another section in the sidebar for sponsors, and you may notice a few other subtle changes here and there.

This is so much fun, like going shopping for new clothes. I don't know why it took me so long to get around to it. I'm a little slow sometimes...
Anyway, I am eager to know what you think. That is, if you like it. If you don't like it, you have my permission to lie and just tell me, It looks nice, Karen. *grin*

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pictures Made Easy!

A few weeks ago I received a wonderful email. No, it wasn't from a mom who wanted to tell me how God is giving her hope in the midst of her mothering struggles. (Though I absolutely love, love, love those emails!) It was from someone who wanted to give me something so I could share about it here on my blog.
A gift? For me? Oh, yes!
And what a perfect gift it was.
Ben, from ImageKind wrote to tell me about a product his company offers. He said, "I work for an art/framing site online, that mostly is about independent artists selling their work, but we also have a collage frame that I thought would be a big relief for a lot of mothers out there. A mother comes to our site, uploads her favorite pictures of her kids, and then her frame type, and we send out the finished product. It can be a relief to get something together that seems like a gift that has taken thought, but it's real simple."

When I told Ben I would love to receive this collage frame with my kids' pictures in it, he graciously offered to have me call him and said he would walk me through the process in a matter of minutes. But I told him I wanted to see if I could do it myself. I said most of the moms who read my blog are at least slightly familiar with my fear of all things technical technical challenges, and if I could manage putting together and ordering this frame all by myself, you would all probably believe you could manage it, too.
Well, I did it! And it was simple.

I logged on to ImageKind's website, chose the layout I wanted, uploaded three pictures of my kids, selected the frame I wanted (That part was really cool. You can click on the frames to see what they look like up close and I was able to choose one that looks great with our furniture.), chose my matting, and that was it. Seriously. It was that easy.
Then I just sat back and waited a few days for it to be delivered. And this is what came to my doorstep yesterday:It came ready to hang, with the hook on the back, and even has little pads on the bottom corners so it won't scratch the walls. (Don't know if that's standard practice, or if they put them on because they saw the kids in the pictures and figured the frame might get bumped around by some boys who never throw anything in the house...)
I love it because I have nicely framed pictures of my kids which perfectly capture their personalities. The picture of Joshua with the praying mantis on his cheek is one I have had in the camera for a couple months now, but the pictures of Elizabeth and Matthew are ones I snapped on the spur of the moment just to upload for this frame. Elizabeth almost always has her nose in a book, so that was easy to capture. And Matthew will do anything with SpiderMan, including standing still for five seconds for a photo shoot. I am waaaaaay behind on my scrapbooks, but now I have a great picture of my kids to hang up - which everyone who comes into my house will see.

Ben said frames like this one typically range from $40-60 and if you order by mid-December you can probably have it in time for Christmas. If you have some digital pictures ready to go, you can click here and get started at ImageKind.
Please let me know if you get one of these frames, as a gift, or for yourself. I'd love to know what you think about it!

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Things Are About to Change!

Oh, I am so excited!

Remember the Fall Y'all Blog Giveaway Party? I registered for a customized blog header and...didn't win. But I decided at that time I wanted my very own customized "look" here at Surviving Motherhood. I contacted R S Designs and Linda has been working on a blog make-over for me. I just saw her first design and I LOVE IT!!!
I am not sure how long it will be until we "go live" with the new design, but I was so excited I just had to tell you about it.
Also, I have to update my Blogger template and save a copy to my hard drive, blah, blah, blah, so in case I mess things up and disappear for a little while, I thought I'd give you advanced notice. Of course, you know by now I am all but inept slightly challenged when it comes to technical things but I am told I can do this back-up thing on my own. In fact, Linda sent me step by step instructions. (Yeah, so I'll feel really stupid if I mess it up!)
But what's that thing I say to moms when I'm speaking? Something about growing through the hard times? Right! I can grow through this experience. *grin*
And very soon I'll have a lovely new look here. Stay tuned!

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Monday, December 03, 2007

Memory Verse Monday

It's Monday, and that means I get to share about the verses I am memorizing. I am so glad Karen at Karen's Ramblings has started this weekly time for sharing because I absolutley love passing on what I am learning in God's Word, and in the time I spend with Him.
Last week I told you I am going through Psalm 22 - one verse at a time, one day at a time. I will tell you about the verse I meorized and am meditating on today, but first I want to bring you up to speed on what transpired in David's life since last Monday. I would invite you to get your Bible out and read these verses yourself, as I am going to be sharing the way I have summarized each of them. (Call it the NKV - New Karen Version!)
12 - I am intimidated.
13 - I am threatened.
14 - I am completely spent.
15 - I am utterly hopeless.
16 - I might as well be dead.
17 - I am pitiful.
18 - I am humiliated.
Sounds very uplifting, doesn't it?
But today I got to verse 19.

But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
See? In the midst of incredible despair, when everything around him looks like it is crashing in and is going to overtake him, David remembers Who God Is. I like the way the New Living Translation says it, "O Lord, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid!"
Did you hear that? David said, "You are my strength!"
I cannot count how many times I have felt completely overwhelmed - by children, commitments, house work, homework (my kids' homework!), even other people's burdens - and I have thought, There is no way I can handle all of this. I'm sinking!
Based upon the intensity of David's words in the previous seven verses, I think whatever he was facing far surpasses any of the stresses I have faced, yet in verse 19 he remembered Who God Is. You are my strength.
So today I have Psalm 22:19 written on a piece of paper and I am carrying it with me in my pocket. I have taken it out a few times and read it over, and I have recited it in my head several times, as well. It has become my prayer today, as I remember God is my strength and He is able to care for me and accomplish what needs to be done in my life.
How are you doing today? Are you feeling a little bit like David - overwhelmed and despairing? Please know - God is not far off, and He will be your strength. Just call upon Him, my friend.

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

And There Were TWO!

Elizabeth may be a happy girl that I didn't read my email before we left the house this morning. Some of your comments might have talked sense into me changed my mind. As it is, though, we went to Petco and are now the owners of pet rats.
Yes. Rats. As in, not one, but two!
We learned at the pet store that rats are very intelligent animals. The clerk told us about the adventures he had with his roommate's rat - the tricks they taught it, etc. - and he helped get me more excited about adding this critter to our family. He said it would be OK to buy a single rat, but the rats would probably like having a companion. I thought, If we're getting one, why not two??? So we got a new cage and two rats.
Maybe you think I'm crazy - I hope you will still be my friend. But I'm telling you, the joy on Elizabeth's face and in her voice as she looked at me and said, "Thank you so much, Mommy!" would get me to buy her just about anything. (Don't you dare tell her I just said that!!!)
I am not kidding. There was an amazing thrill that came over my heart as I realized just how happy it made Elizabeth to receive these pets. (And I hope the joy lasts a long time, because this was "Christmas" for her! She knows it, and was totally agreeable.) I know I cannot, nor do I want to, buy her love. But seeing her joy and imagining the memories she is storing up through situations like this one simply delights me.
So, there you have it. We have two pet rats now. Allison and Lacey. They are shy and a little nervous at the moment, as they are getting used to their new home. But I did manage to get a half-way decent picture of one of them.In a couple weeks, when they are feeling more "at home" I will be sure to post a better picture. (Yeah, because I have a new computer which has a place for the camera disc, and Brian showed me how to get pictures off of it, and I can do it all myself now. And I am so proud of me!!! *grin*)