Friday, May 30, 2008

A Plea to all Homeowners

It has been a long, yet productive (or destructive, depending on how you look at it...), week of yard work with my mom. And I'm tired!
Many times over the past few days I have thought some "not nice" things about the previous owner of my house. Who - I am quite sure - never pulled a single weed, trimmed a tree, thinned a bush, split plants, or divided bulbs. I had no idea how much work my mom and I would face this week.

And so my plea to all homeowners is this:
For the sake of the person who will one day live in your house and care for your lawn, please, please, PLEASE don't let the yard get overgrown and out of control!!!

Getting "before" pictures slipped my mind at first, but I did get this one before we got started on one corner of the house.
And here's one of my mom at work!
We did lots of digging, splitting, dividing, pruning and bagging. And there's lots more to do. But I need a rototiller. The root systems on some of the plants and weeds are just tooooo much for me. I'm calling in the big guys!
After that's done and we treat the tilled areas with weed killer stuff I'm going to plant grass seed over most of it. I'll do a couple simple bush thing-ys, but we're keeping it simple.

And if anyone needs daffodil bulbs to plant in the fall, and you're going to be in the Okemos area next week, stop by. There's a neighborhood garage sale happening next weekend and I have TONS of bulbs I'm putting out "free to a good home." *grin*

Well, that's the update for this week, my friends. My next major project (besides finishing the yard work...UGH!) is to get my book published this summer. You'll be hearing more about that in the days to come!

post signature

P.S. Besides the grumbling I was doing at the previous owner of my house, there was one other thought which kept running through my mind as I was digging up weeds and unwanted plants. Gardening 101 should be a required course for all seminary students. There are a lot of sermon illustrations to be found when one is dealing with roots!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yard Work...

...That's the plan for this week.

Yard work.

My mom came down last night and is spending the week with me. She is going to help me tackle the weeds and overgrowth that have popped up since I raked and bagged all the dead stuff earlier this spring. Sooooo, I don't expect to do much in the realm of blogging. (Though we all know my plans rarely prevail, so who knows what is really going to happen this week??!! Well, I know WHO knows...)

Anyway, before I get lost in the yard I wanted to share the Morning Glory Muffin recipe with you, at Annie's request:

Morning Glory Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/2 cup veg. oil and 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce)
1 apple, peeled and shredded
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the carrot, raisins, coconut and pecans. In another bowl, beat eggs; add oil, apple and vanilla. Stir into flour mixture only until combined. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until muffins test done. Yield: about 1-1/2 dozen.

Have a great week!

post signature

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Gracious Kids

While I have been called the Meanest Mom in the World by my children, I have also found them to be incredibly gracious.

Especially tonight.

Allow me to explain.

It all started with some muffins I wanted to make. Morning Glory Muffins - so yummy, but so involved. I used to make them on occasion. But I used to have a food processor that shredded carrots in the blink of an eye.
Well last Sunday when I was making my menu for the week I decided I was going to buy a new food processor this week and I was going to make those muffins. And I thought it was going to be easy.


I bought the food processor Monday and it sat in the box on my counter until tonight - when I planned to make the muffins. Several times through the week I had looked at the box and thought about getting the food processor out, washing it, putting it away, etc. But it never happened. (It isn't always the thought that counts!)
So, tonight as I was getting dinner ready (with a headache...) I opened the box to start shredding carrots for the muffins. At first it looked like figuring out the food processor was going to be too much work so I decided I was going to shred the carrots manually. But when I started doing that, I determined that was too much work (The muffins called for two cups of shredded carrots.) so I went back to putting the food processor together.
Having completed that task, I put a handful of carrots in to shred and - boy, was I ever disappointed. Let me just say, baby carrots and this machine are not meant for one another.
So I grumbled and went for another option. Rather than two cups of shredded carrots, we had somewhere-in-the-neighborhood-of-two-cups of minced carrots. This is where I started to see the graciousness of my children shining through.
I had asked for help in getting dinner ready because I was so frustrated with how long everything was taking, and when I decided to simply mince the carrots Matthew stood by my side and said, "That's OK, Mom. We might need to chew a little more, but I bet it will all taste the same." Can you say, Awwwwww!
With my headache and level of frustration, I had a pretty bad attitude and had snapped more than once at nobody/anybody who was listening. I didn't feel deserving of Matthew's graciousness. But I guess that's the very essence of grace, isn't it? We don't deserve it...
Somehow dinner preparations were completed and we sat together to eat. Everyone gushed about how yummy the muffins were. Good thing - or else I might not make them again. LOL

Fast forward to bedtime.

We were finished with our family prayer time and the kids were about to head to bed, but I asked them to wait just a minute. I told them I needed to apologize to the family for the way I had acted while I was making dinner. I told them I let my headache and frustration take over and I was sorry for my bad attitude and unkind behavior. And the kids? Kind of looked at me in confusion.
Joshua said he was upset when I told him he couldn't play on the computer anymore tonight, but he couldn't remember me being "mean" while I was making dinner.
Matthew and Elizabeth missed it, too.
I made some comment wondering if I had hidden my true feelings more than I knew - because I was sure my heart had been sour. But Brian said he'd seen it. Thanks, Dear!
Regardless of who noticed my attitude, I knew I needed to apologize to everyone. And the grace and hugs that followed were a treasure.

Now everyone is in bed, the extra muffins are in the freezer - to be enjoyed on another day - and I am ready to collapse, too. Good night!

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. And do not give the devil a foothold.
Ephesians 4:26b-27

post signature

Friday, May 23, 2008

Photo Contest

Do you have an adorable child between the ages of six months and six years?
Then you may be interested in knowing about this contest.
The editors of Parents magazine are looking for the cutest kid in America between six months and six years old to be the cover kid of the magazine's November 2008 issue.
To enter Parents magazine's online baby photo contest, just upload a picture of your child before June 24 to their website. (This is also where you can read about the details and rules for the contest.) Your child could be chosen as one of five finalists, flown to New York City with a guardian and professionally photographed.
My kids are all too old for this contest, but I know some of you have children in this age range and I thought you might like to know about it. The woman who is promoting this contest also sent me these tips from the Sittings Editor at Parents to help you get the best picture of your little sweetheart.
1. Do: Take photos with a really simple – but pretty background. No one wants to look at dirty dishes in your kitchen sink! Instead, go for natural scenery in front of lush greenery or pretty flowers.
2. Don't: Please, please no pictures with food on the face. Cute for grandma's refrigerator – not so much for the judges.
3. Do: Try to capture your child in a care-free, happy moment. Photos that are too staged usually don't show you're child's true energy and personality.
4. Don't: No extreme close-ups please! It makes it hard to see the whole child.
5. Do: Be honest with yourself about your child's temperament. Does he truly enjoy taking pictures or does he burst into tears the moment you point the digital at him? If he does not like taking pictures at this time in his development, be patient! Chances are, with time, he may come to like the camera. Enter the contest then and watch him win!
6. Don't: Lose the hat, the towel draped over the kid's head – what are you hiding under there?
7. Do: Try taking pictures using interesting, fun angles.

Have fun!

post signature

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Flying FREE!

Have you ever had God drop a blessing into your lap, and you just couldn't wait to share it with someone else?

That is exactly what has happened to me!

I am an American Airlines AAdvantage member, and as such I get loads of email from them about this and that vacation package or special flight deal. Honestly, I usually delete the messages as soon as I see them. But a couple weeks ago one of them caught my eye before my finger clicked on the delete button.
It was an offer for a free round trip flight anywhere in the continental USA. I would need to apply for a certain credit card and spend a certain amount of money in order to get the offered bonus miles. Of course, there's always a "catch," but I thought, Hey, I am publishing a book this summer. I will definitely be spending that money. No problem there! I talked it over with my dear husband and he said, "Go for it."
So I did.

OK, that part is all "business." This part is what has me so excited:
I am going to use the free airline ticket to bless a group of moms somewhere/anywhere in the continental USA. Normally when I travel a group needs to buy my airline ticket. But this time, it's going to be free for someone.

As for how to choose where I am going and which group will receive this gift, here's the deal:
To be eligible for this gift, by August 1, 2008, your group will need to book me to come and speak anytime between September 1, 2008 and April 30, 2009.
On August 1 I will draw the winner from all eligible entries. My regular speaking fee will still apply ($200 per night. NOT for each time I speak, just for each night I'm away from home.) but if I draw your group, all the travel expenses will be covered.

It's that simple.

So, talk it over with your leadership team, find a couple other groups in your area with whom you can share expenses (I'll speak for multiple groups), and email me with possible dates. I may just be flying to you for FREE!

post signature

Monday, May 19, 2008

How Good and Pleasant It Is!

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!
Psalm 133:1
I read this verse the other day and burst out laughing. I considered my boys and thought, Sure, God. Good and pleasant, but not reality. Then I had the idea of printing this verse on huge pieces of paper and taping them up in the boys' rooms and on the mirror in their bathroom. I figured if they knew God thought it was good and pleasant for them to live in unity, maybe they'd try a little harder to accomplish such a goal.
But then I realized I'd probably just be annoying them again. So I decided against my sneaky, though well-intentioned, tactics to get them to love one another. Instead, I spent extended time in prayer for my boys and their relationship.
I had looked ahead the day before and knew that Psalm 133 was the only thing on my "schedule" for my read through the Bible program for that day. And I knew Psalm 133 was a short one. (All of three verses!) So I had already planned to take my time going through it. I just didn't realize God had set that day aside for me to pray for my boys. But - clearly - He had. So I did.

Fast forward to this morning.

The boys were getting ready for school, engaging in equal amounts of play and bickering with each other. As I was listening to them and getting myself ready, I was singing the chorus which comes from Psalm 133:1. Wishing my sons would learn to live together in unity.
Soon it was time to leave for the bus stop and, as we walked, God gave me a glimpse of HOPE for my boys.
You see, yesterday was Matthew's birthday and he got a Nintendo DS. He was quite busy yesterday getting his game set up and playing it by himself. But this morning, the boys used the wireless internet feature to play together on their DSs. I don't understand how it works, but it is really cool. Somehow they can see each other's characters on their own screens and can chase each other and interact in all kinds of ways. They were loving it. (Yes, this was also when they were bickering.)
On the way to the bus stop, they were re-living their DS adventures. They were making plans for inviting over other friends with DSs so they could all connect and play together. They were laughing and strategizing and - dare I say? - living together in unity. It was a good and pleasant thing to witness.

Usually I walk between the boys, holding Matthew's hand, as we go to the bus stop. And usually I am a part of the conversation. But not today.
Today I walked behind them and just watched and listened. They weren't concerned about me. And I didn't feel dissed or left out in any way. I was enjoying the picture before my eyes and the hope I held in my heart.
Now, I am not saying one day in prayer and two Nintendo DS games have solved all the problems of sibling rivalry and discord we have in our house. But I am convinced there is hope. I have seen my boys interacting peacefully and enjoying each other, and I will continue to pray that they will learn to live together in unity.

And I know I will not always be "invisible" on our trips to the bus stop. For this morning, once we arrived everything was back to normal. Joshua walked past me, tapped my shoulder, and yelled, "You're It!" as he ran in the other direction.

post signature

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Parable of the Lost Rat

You're familiar with the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Lost Sheep, and the Lost Son, right? How about the Parable of the Lost Rat? It's a new one we "wrote" just last night.

We had our regular Friday night "Movie Night," and after it was over the kids got the rats out to play. Everything was going fine. Everyone was happy, and I was cleaning up - minding my own business. Then I heard Elizabeth say in a very small voice, "Mom remind me to never let the rats go onto the couch again."
I looked up from what I was doing to see my daughter in tears. She told me Allison had gotten stuck in the couch.
In the couch.
Apparently she chewed a little hole and made her way to the insides of the couch. Moving between the cushions must have gotten "old" and she felt she needed new territory to explore. What else is there for a rat to do but chew holes and climb around?
As Elizabeth and I stood by the couch, we could hear Allison moving around and just looked at each other - wondering how we were going to free our little critter. Elizabeth was crying and I could tell she was worried. To be honest, I was a bit concerned, too. I had visions of poor little Allison never finding her way out; of me needing to cut her out of the couch. In spite of my true feeling, I tried to present a calm, confident facade in order to not further upset my daughter. I prayed out loud, "Jesus, we really need to find this little rat," and I suggested we tip the couch over to see if we could reach her that way. I thought maybe the movement would cause her to "surface" in a new place.
With the couch on its "face," we looked through an opening in the bottom.
No luck.
So Elizabeth lay down on the floor and tried another angle. Suddenly there was hope in her voice as she called, "Mom, I can see her! Quick, get me a Cheerio!"
I ran to the cupboard and grabbed some Cheerios to give Elizabeth and, it worked! Allison poked her head out of the hole and Elizabeth held the Cheerio out in front of her - just out of reach. As Allison moved forward to claim her prize, Elizabeth grabbed her and brought her the rest of the way out of the couch.
With the rat safely in her cage, Elizabeth stood up, looked at me, and let the tears flow. I just hugged her. That's all I could do. Nothing more to do or say, just hold my little girl - who is almost as big as me - in my arms and let her emotions do their thing. Though it may sound strange, that was a very sweet moment. Allison was safely out of the couch and Elizabeth was free to let her emotions go. I was so glad to be able to hold her in that moment.

Later, when I was sitting on her bed saying good-night, Elizabeth told me, "I could tell Allison was afraid tonight, too. But I think God let her get into the couch to remind us we can trust Him." I smiled at her and replied, "I think you're right, Honey. He sure took care of her, didn't He?"
It was a perfect picture of His care for us. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations which seem impossible. We think, I'm never going to make it out of here. This situation is too much for me. I'm afraid and lost. I don't know what to do!
But God knows, and He cares for us. Maybe He tips the couch. Maybe He leads us out with a Cheerio. Whatever He does - it's perfect - and we are reminded we can trust Him.

Who knew God would use those critters, which I was so reluctant to buy, to teach spiritual Truths. He doesn't waste anything, does He!


Friday, May 16, 2008

I've Been Tagged

At the bus stop and in the blogosphere, the game of tag is being played. And MamaChristina has tagged me in the blogosphere. Now what I am supposed to do is share six uninteresting things with you here on my blog. And I don't know how I am going to accomplish this task, because I am such an incredibly interesting person. *sigh*

But I will do my best.

First, I love to joke around with people and use sarcasm - which sometimes gets me into trouble. If people don't know me well enough, sometimes they don't realize I am being sarcastic and then they think I'm not nice. Like the comment I made above about being an incredibly interesting person - I was being sarcastic!

Second, I let my son go to school with dirty shorts on today. OK, he didn't think they were dirty, but our standards are different. We got into an argument about the shorts and he gave me a speech about the fact that kids don't walk around scrutinizing one another's clothes, looking for dirty spots. I pointed out why I thought they didn't look good, but then had to consider if the battle was really about the shorts or simply a power struggle. I finally decided we were down to a battle of the wills and - not wanting to go there (and realizing the shorts really don't matter in the grand scheme of things) - I said, "Fine. Wear the shorts."

Third, sometimes I annoy my son. During the above mentioned conflict I reprimanded my son for yelling at me, to which he replied, "Well, Mom, sometimes you annoy me." I tried to reason with him but he was past the point of reasoning and just yelled at me more, so I sent him to his room to cool off. When his "time" was up, I told him he could come out of his room. He did. And he even apologized for yelling at me.

Fourth, I am not "It" at the bus stop. Every morning since I posted about playing Tag at the bus stop, we have been playing Tag until the bus comes. Most days I'm "It" when the bus comes around the corner, so I start off as "It" the next day, too. But not today. So siree! Somehow I managed to avoid being the last one tagged.

Fifth, I am not cooking dinner tonight. I'm taking the kids out to eat! Whenever I go away overnight, I always have dinners prepared for Brian and the kids so my absence is a little easier on my dear husband. One day I wondered, Gee, why doesn't Brian make dinners for me when he goes away? *humph* (Sarcasm, again!) So when he's gone I usually find a way to make it a little easier on myself. You know, Hamburger Helper, pancakes, simple stuff. Well, he's been gone this week and I decided, since Matthew has a certificate for a free kids meal at Applebee's, tonight we're going out!

Finally, I virtually never wear shirts that button up. This is a truly uninteresting, random fact about me, which I just "discovered" last night. I even looked in my closet to see if I own any button-up shirts and there is only one. A red satin blouse which I only wear at Christmas time. I know I had a couple others, but I think I probably got rid of them when we moved last summer.

So, there you have it. Six uninteresting things about me. I hope it wasn't too painful. *grin*

And now I am supposed to tag some other bloggers. Christina tagged three, so I'll follow her lead.


Have fun with it, friends!

post signature

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The "E" Award

I have a new blogging friend, Angela, at Becoming Me. I simply love her openness and honesty as she shares with her readers the journey on which God is taking her. The journey of becoming who He has created her to be.

Becoming Me.

That's where we all are, isn't it? Somewhere between who we were and who He is making us? I love to consider that God is making me beautiful; that one day I will be who He has created me to be. Until then, I am becoming.
And so is Angela. If you haven't already, you really must go visit her!

So, the other day she popped over here to tell me she was giving me an award. The "E for Excellence" blogging award. Thank you so much, Angela. I am delighted that you think my blog is excellent.

I am also delighted that I get to pass this award on to another excellent blogger. And I know just who I want to send it to. Do You Weary Like I Do? Seriously, every time I read her title I sigh and respond, "Yes!!!!" I think I like her so much because I can tell she's the real deal, and that is so important to me. And I am amazed by her because she has four sons and hasn't lost her mind! LOL Do go pay her a visit. You'll be glad you did.

And thanks, again, Angela. You have blessed me. *grin*

post signature

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reflecting on the Adventure

God is simply amazing.

He continues to show me how much He is in the details - of my life in general, and this past weekend's adventure in particular. Believe me, I left out many details in my previous two posts for the sake of your eyes and my fingers. But God has surely been in the details. This morning I realized Matthew's birthday party (which we're having tonight) was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon. God knew I would be in the air and not in Okemos.
I absolutely love how He takes care of everything.

And there is one other detail He has been actively working in over the past two days.
My mind.
I know, it's such a small detail, but He's been working in it. Ha!!!
Seriously, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on the events surrounding my trip home from Florida. As if the Mother's Day Brunch and the time I spent with my friend there weren't blessing enough, God has shown me how much He blessed me via my delayed trip home.
With 1111 all around me - the assurance that God was up to something - I walked through that day in wonderful anticipation of what He was going to do. Each time I interacted with a person, or someone sat down beside me I asked, Is this the one, Lord? Do You want to use me in his/her life today? Because I was fully expecting God to move in me, I was "on alert" all day. I was eager for and excited about the opportunity to be used by Him. And I was blessed beyond measure to be able to minister to Mick, even as I continue to pray for him.

But as I have been reflecting on these events, I have realized something.

God doesn't need me to be laid over in an airport in order to use me. I don't have to be in an unusual situation to be a minister of grace and hope. In fact, God doesn't even need to post 1111 all over the place in order to prove that He's at work. (Though, I love it when He does!)
Because of the extraordinary events Sunday, I was actively anticipating God's work in and through me, asking at every turn, Is this the one, Lord? But in reflecting on it all, I have realized I need to live every day with that same kind of anticipation. I want to always be on alert. Always asking, Is this the one, Lord? Do You want me to minister grace and hope to this precious man/woman?
Most days I am not in the middle of extraordinary circumstances. In my ordinary, run-of-the-mill days I do not want to miss a single opportunity to be used by God in the life of someone who needs Him.
And so I am resolving to live even my boring days "on alert." Is this the one, Lord? will be my persistent prayer.

How about you? Will you join me?

post signature

Monday, May 12, 2008

Now I Understand

OK. Are you ready for this???
The conclusion of my Southern Adventure?
Sunday morning I got up very early to make sure I made it to the airport on time for my flight home. I sat in the hotel lobby, waiting for the shuttle to arrive, and got a big ol' grin on my face when I looked over at the elevators and saw that two of them were sitting at the eleventh floor. 11 11, again.
OK, Lord, I prayed, I know You're in this. Please show me the reason for this change in plans.
Once at the airport, I sat with a bunch of other passengers - waiting for a flight attendant. Don't know what was slowing her down, but for some reason she was late and we weren't boarding the plane without her. Several times, an announcement came over the speakers that we would be boarding shortly, and making our connecting flights in Atlanta shouldn't be a problem.
In spite of the fact we took off nearly an hour later than scheduled, I'm telling you, I have never seen a faster boarding and take-off process than the one I experienced when that flight attendant reported for duty yesterday morning. Quite impressive, I thought. And the captain said he would get us to Atlanta ASAP.

That was all well and good, but I did find myself thinking, With such a short lay-over, how am I going to have this meeting I have been anticipating all night? Maybe it will be with the person I'm seated next to on the flight to Detroit. I'm sure God has it figured out.
Well, our plane landed in Atlanta about 9:10 and I was stepping into the terminal at 9:20. That's when I found out my 9:30 flight to Detroit had already taken off! Several of us were "supposed" to be on that plane, but the airline had already re-booked us for the 2:19 flight in the afternoon. And when the ticketing agent handed me my new boarding pass, guess what the first line said?
Most people would have seen this:
FLT:147 Gate:C11 11May08
I saw, Trust Me, Karen. I'm in this! (Do you see the 11 11?)
Seriously, at this point all I could do was laugh. Laugh at the hilarity of another delay. Laugh at the idea, What else can go wrong? Laugh because of the joy building in me over whatever it was God had up His sleeve.
I walked through the terminal toward Gate C11 laughing. Wondering if anyone might be concerned for my mental state. What's wrong with her??? And, honestly, not really caring what they may be thinking.

Now that I had nearly five hours to wait in the airport, I was sure God would find the time for me to talk with someone about Him, or pray for them, or just listen to them. Yes, five hours would be so much more effective than the half hour, or so, I was anticipating initially.
As I approached my gate I saw an older woman sitting alone, plenty of empty seats around her, so I walked over and sat beside her. I smiled at her and said hello, then asked where she was going. She just looked at me, so I repeated myself. She managed to get out, "Detroit," which is when I determined she didn't speak English. OK, maybe not, I thought.
So I took out my Bible and started reading.
Throughout the rest of the morning and early afternoon I did a lot of Bible reading. I interacted with a couple other people, including one college student who came and sat right beside me. When she sat down I asked, Is it her, Lord? But when I asked where she was flying to and she told me Dallas, and I said I was going to Detroit, she realized her mistake (DFW, not DTW!). So she quickly said Good-bye, and left to find the correct gate.
I found myself having some great Bible study and fully enjoying my time with God, thanking Him for the things He was showing me. As my five hours were drawing to a close I began to wonder, Was this simply a gift to me, Lord? Time you set aside for me with nothing but You and my Bible? In an airport? A little odd, but, OK - if that's how You want it. A retreat center might be nice next time. If You're looking for suggestions, that is.

Then, just as I was considering getting up and offering my seat and the empty one next to me to an older couple, an airline employee walked around the corner pushing a man in a wheel chair. She brought him right over to the empty chair next to me and we both helped him sit down.
It didn't take long for me to understand this man was the reason God had kept me at the airport.
His name is Mick and he was flying home from a service he'd just attended marking the one year anniversary of his son being DUSTWUN (Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown) in Iraq. His son's name is Byron Fouty and you can read about him here if you'd like.
Mick hadn't slept in three days and was, understandably, exhausted. He told me about many of the things burdening him right now, and though he said he believes in God, he told me he wished God didn't think he could handle so much.
Most of the time I was sitting with Mick, he was somewhere between sleep and utter confusion. He kept apologizing for himself and I just wanted to cry. I cannot imagine facing the things he's going through right now - with his son and a very recent cancer diagnosis for himself. He is carrying heavy burdens and I just wished there was a way I could help him.
I prayed with Mick - for him and his son - and promised him I would continue to pray for both of them, watching in the news for indications of Byron's return.
And now I'm asking you, my dear friends, to pray for Mick and Byron. For Mick's mental, physical and emotional health, and for the discovery of Byron's whereabouts. And that through this whole ordeal, they may come to know the Lord personally.
I realize I cannot do anything about his situation, but I know God can, and I can plead with God on Mick's behalf. Please join me!
post signature

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Southern Adventure

First of all, thank you, thank you, to each of you who prayed for the Mother's Day Brunch this morning.
It was absolutely wonderful.
I stood on the platform and moved my mouth, but God was the one speaking to the hearts of women. And from the feedback I have received, I am confident He was speaking clearly and tenderly. What a tremendous blessing to be His instrument!
I was particularly encouraged by the comments from women that the message was just what they needed to hear. Quite honestly, there was a time when I was a bit uncertain about its appropriateness for a Mother's Day Brunch. I thought maybe the women would be expecting something having more to do with motherhood, how important mothers are, how much we need to esteem motherhood, you get the picture.
But some time ago I read Mark 6 and was so encouraged that - though I often do not feel like I am enough of a mom - in Jesus' hands, I become enough. That message has been growing in my heart and I was eager to share it. This morning as I talked with these women about the Truth that their impossible situation is possible with Jesus, He was speaking to their hearts. He has convinced me this was, indeed, the talk I was supposed to give today.

After the brunch I went back to my hostess's house and spent the remainder of the afternoon visiting with her and her precious daughters. I so enjoyed being with them, but soon the time came for them to take me to the airport. So we all hopped into the van and were on our way. Everything was going fine, until...
We got a flat tire.
On the interstate.
Half an hour before I needed to be at the airport.
My hostess called and found someone who could come and take me the rest of the way to the airport. Then they called AAA to come get them!
And that was all fine. We knew God could handle this impossible situation. So we just waited for our rescuers and I wasn't even going to blog about the adventure, except that it gets better!

Upon arriving at the airport and waiting in line to check my bags, I was told I had missed the cut-off time to check my bags and I would have to reschedule my flight.
And there were no more flights going to Detroit today, so I would have to find a hotel in Tampa tonight.
I walked away from the counter to try to gather my thoughts. For a minute I just stood and wondered, What do I do? But then I realized I really had no choice, so I got back in line at the ticket counter and made arrangements to fly out tomorrow morning. The nicer of the two ticket agents even helped me find a hotel.
As I sat outside the airport, waiting for the shuttle to the hotel, I was praying. Lord, I am just sure You're in this situation. I don't see it now, but I'm choosing to trust You. And I was looking for His signature. Just before my shuttle to the hotel arrived for me, another shuttle bus drove by with the company's phone number painted on the side. I don't remember the first few digits, but the last four were 1111.
And tonight after I checked into my room and called my family to tell them about my change in plans, I went down to get something to eat. On my way back to my room either the two elevators on the left were sitting on the same floor, or God was just reminding me He's in this situation. When I looked up at the lights above the doors, there it was again. 11 11. I am not kidding you!
I stepped into the elevator and laughed the entire way to my room. God, you are in every single detail, aren't You! Though I was feeling very alone through this ordeal, God reminded me I am never without Him.
And I am sincerely looking forward to my trip home tomorrow. I don't know what He has in mind, why He chose to delay my trip home. But I am confident of this: God is good, and everything He does is good. On the way down here yesterday I had a wonderful conversation with a fellow passenger. I cannot help but wonder if God has someone in mind for me to talk to tomorrow. Someone I would have missed if I'd flown home today...
I'll be in airports and on airplanes from 6:00-11:30 tomorrow morning. If you read this post in time, please pray for me. I want to be sensitive to His leading - an instrument of His grace.

post signature

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thankful Thursday

OK, I know there is a "thing" out there in Blogland called Thankful Thursday. I don't know where it originates, and I have never officially participated in it before. But this morning I sat down to have my quiet time with such a thankful heart, and as I started writing in my journal I remembered today's Thursday, and I thought, Ah, yes! Thankful Thursday. That's what today is!

So what is it which has me so thankful today? Well, I went into Matthew's room this morning to gather his laundry and I saw his pull-up on the floor. I called to him to come and get it so he could put it in the trash, and as I looked closer at the pull-up I noticed something unusual.

It was dry!

I said, "Matthew! Your pull-up is dry!" And I gave him a great big hug.

Matthew will be eight years old in a week, and trying to get him to be dry through the night has been a long road. Within the past week we have started trying a new thing - a hormone/medicine which is delivered through a nasal spray. I have heard other people have had success with this spray, but we tried the pills several months ago and they didn't seem to help.
But this morning, Matthew's pull-up was bone dry.

I have hope.

And I am thankful!

I am also thankful that another one of my "waits" is almost over. Saturday is the day I get to speak for a Mother's Day Luncheon. I have given a couple previews of my talk in previous posts, (Here and here, in case you missed them.) and I am so looking forward to sharing this message with these women. I am also thankful for the confidence I have that none of my planes will need to be de-iced on this trip, so I am not concerned about late flights.

I know God is fully in control and He has been preparing me for this event, as well as the women who will be in attendance. And for that, I am also thankful.
If you think about me Saturday morning, please pray for me - that I would communicate clearly and effectively, and that I would be sensitive to the Spirit's leading as I interact with women throughout the meeting. Pray also for the women who will be listening - that God would continue to prepare their hearts, and they would be open to whatever He wants to say to them.

Thank you so much, dear friends. You are a blessing to me!

post signature

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Walking in the Rain

It's been crazy-busy around here the past few days. Many times I have wanted to post some encouraging thoughts for you - like the Grace God served up for dinner through Matthew Saturday - but time has eluded me.
I am heading out the door in a few minutes to speak for a MOPS group this morning, but before I do I want to share with you another of the entries that "didn't make it" into my next book. (Yes, I'm "cheating" by posting something I've already written - but it's the best I can do right now!) Praying God will use these words to encourage and uplift you today!

Walking in the Rain
The first three days of school were beautiful, sunny days and the walk to the bus stop was quite pleasant. But on the fourth day it was raining and Matthew asked me, “Mom, how do we get to the bus stop when it’s raining?” Strange question for a second grader to ask, you’re thinking? Well, prior to this year the kids went to a school which didn’t have busses. I drove them. They never had to walk ten minutes to get into our van. So I understood his question.
To be honest, I was wondering a similar thing. How are the boys going to get to the bus stop this morning? I shouldn’t just send them out in the rain, should I? They’ll get all wet. I can’t send them to school wet! Perhaps I should drive them to the bus stop. Knowing, however, I didn’t want to set that standard, I answered simply, “You walk.”
At first the boys scoffed at the idea of walking through the rain to get to the bus, and I would be lying if I said I did not momentarily take on a Bad Mommy Complex. I speculated if the other parents were going to make their kids walk through the rain. Perhaps they would drive their kids to the stop and wonder, as they saw my kids walking, What kind of mother would subject her children to the elements like this? Someone, call the authorities!
Not wanting to be a Bad Mommy, I asked my husband for his opinion. Reason won out and convinced me the boys would be just fine, even if they got a little wet. In fact, they ended up being excited about the rain because we told them they each got to carry their own umbrella. (With promises, of course, the umbrellas would not become “swords” or some other weapon when the rain stopped!)

Equipping my boys for the rain by giving them an umbrella reminded me of the ways God protects me in foul weather. Sometimes God uses a sermon I hear at church to speak directly to a difficult situation through which I am going. Other times a friend speaks for Him by sharing an encouraging word with me, or by giving testimony to His faithfulness in her own life. Of course, He has given us the Scriptures and they are full of life. On most days you will find me with a Bible verse in my pocket and God has used those scriptures to be my umbrella in the rain many, many times.
Unlike me, however, God never debates with Himself about sending us out in the rain. I questioned my own judgment and ultimately relied on my husband’s wisdom before sending the boys out in the rain with their umbrellas. God knows exactly what we need to make it through the storms in our lives.
While I believe sometimes He does “drive us to the bus stop,” I know He often gives us an umbrella and tells us we need to walk. It gives me great amounts of peace and hope when I consider God’s perfect knowledge of what is necessary in my life to accomplish His purpose in me. I am confident God never looks at a situation in my life and wonders, How is Karen going to deal with this rain today? I shouldn’t let her go through it, should I? What if she gets wet? I can’t let her get wet. She might not like Me anymore. Maybe I should just let her bypass this storm. Rather, He leads me as He knows best, and I am blessed as a result.

So with hugs and kisses and an umbrella for each one, my husband and I watched our boys skip down the driveway in the rain. Brian smiled at me and said, “They are going to get soaked!”
“Yeah, but they’ll dry off,” was my reply.

Your Turn: What are the ways God equips you for the storms in your life? How does it make you feel to know He is never uncertain about the things through which He allows you to go? Take some time to think about the rain through which you have been walking lately. If you're feeling troubled about the rain, talk to God about it. Thank Him for protecting you and ask Him to help you trust His perfect care for you.

post signature

Friday, May 02, 2008

Growing Pains

If this isn't a sure sign my little girl is growing up, I don't know what is.

Last night I borrowed some of her clothes!

OK, it was just one item, but it's the principle of the whole thing which has me gasping for air. I borrowed my little girl's growing daughter's stuff!
I was getting ready to go to Brian's Grand Opening for Fitness Together. It was a wine and cheese party and I wanted to get dressed up, so I choose a new skirt to wear. OK, it has been too long since I have worn nylons and I realized as I was getting dressed that I only had black ones. That simply wasn't going to do.
Then I thought, Hey, Elizabeth has nylons. I'll just borrow some from her! As I asked her about it she told me where I could find them and I went to her room to get them. It was during my journey down the stairs I realized the significance of the moment.
I used to tickle her little toes as I put booties on her feet.
I used to squeeze her pudgy little legs into tights.
As she grew and slimmed down, I still helped her get those tights on.
One day she informed me she no longer liked tights, and didn't want to wear them anymore.
A year or two later she agreed to try wearing nylons with her dresses, and I taught her how to put them on herself.
And the next thing I know, I'm asking her if I can borrow them!

My little girl is growing up, and I know it because I wore her nylons last night.

I remember wearing some of my mom's things. She had a bright pink dress I just loved and I wore it quite a bit. Makes me wonder if Elizabeth will ever want to borrow some of my clothes.
Some day, will she start wearing make-up and want to borrow my lipstick? Will she ask to get her ears pierced sometime, and wish to borrow my earrings? And as we're picking out the perfect earrings for her to wear on her first date, will she ask me what I did the first time I went out with a boy?

It is a joy for me to see my little girl growing up. Sometimes I just sit and watch her, simply amazed that the young lady in front of me used to be a babe in my arms. Truly, the time is passing quickly. And though there are moments when I wonder if I am going to "make it," I know I don't want to wish these days away. I want to cherish them and live in them fully - loving God, loving my children, and loving life.

Now, if I could just find some of my own nylons!

post signature