Friday, August 29, 2008

Encouragement in Suffering

Someone once told me that Fridays are not very good days for blogging; that statistically, readership goes down on Friday and the weekend.
Well, today I don't care about statistics. God spoke to my heart this morning and I simply cannot wait until Monday to write about it. Besides, I know God is bigger than statistics and I trust He will bring the reader(s?) to this post who needs the encouragement.

If you have been with me for a while you are likely aware that I am doing a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year program. And, as I do every time I mention this journey, I want to strongly encourage you to begin your own excursion through the Word if you have never done so before. I have found a great resource for finding a reading plan here. Check it out!

So anyway, I am currently in Jeremiah. Right in the midst of Israel and Judah's exiles. There have been several days when Brian walked into the room as I was reading and I made a comment like, "This is not a good day for Israel." (or Judah)
I spent a lot of time reading about their disobedience and wicked ways in Kings and Chronicles; how they turned from the LORD and worshipped false gods. And more recently I have been reading about the destruction God brought upon them because of their sin. They lost their land, were taken captive, and experienced terrible destruction. (You really have to read it!) To say they suffered would be a gross understatement.

But today I read Jeremiah 30 and 31, The Restoration of Israel. There is a stark contrast in the words of these chapters from the words I have been reading recently. It is so clear that, while God was justly punishing Israel for her sin, He still loved His people and the goal of His actions - His discipline - was restoration. Yes, Israel suffered because of her sin, but God always had in mind to bring her back to Himself, to heal her wounds, and to cover her with His love.
I thought that goal was summarized clearly in verse 24 of chapter 30:

The fierce anger of the LORD will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand this.

I read that verse and thought, Yes. Israel suffered, but God was accomplishing the purposes of His heart. And the purposes of God's heart are always good, because HE is good.
Then it was as if the last sentence in that verse jumped off the page at me.
In days to come you will understand this.

In days to come you will understand this.

What a wonderful word of encouragement! Can you hear it?
Israel, My beloved people, you have suffered greatly. I have taken you from the land I promised your forefathers and have turned you over to the hands of your enemy. It is because of your sin and detestable practices that I have done this thing. And it was right for Me to do it.
But I will restore you now. I will heal your wounds and bring you close to Myself. I will once again show My love to you. You will turn to Me and leave behind all your detestable ways. You will be My people and I will be your God.
And then you will understand the reason for your suffering. I put you through it, I let you experience the pain so you would remember Me and return to your first love.
It was all for you good, beloved. It was the purpose of My heart. Do you understand now?

As I considered the purposes of God's heart further, my thoughts went to many of you who are suffering. Some of you are struggling with depression, pro-longed waiting, sickness and disease. It is hard and as we have corresponded via email I know you are trying to trust God. You are wanting to believe He is working for your good and His glory. Every time I pray for you and for the end of your suffering, I always also pray that God would work out His good purposes in your situation.
I'm not saying it's a sin issue, as it was with Israel. I realize there are many reasons we suffer. It may be God is growing your faith. He may be strengthening your family relationships. Perhaps He is preparing you for some form of ministry in the future.
I don't know the reason, but as I read my Bible and prayed for you today I asked God to encourage you with the knowledge that "In days to come you will understand this."

Please keep holding on to Him, friend.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

I am Amazed!

Boy, was I really feeling that rotten yesterday? Because today I feel great!
I woke up this morning - and that was my first indication that things were good. I woke up this morning. As in, I didn't wake up all through the night last night.
And my throat didn't hurt.
The first words to come out of my mouth were gruff. However, as the hours went by my speaking voice became clearer. The real test for me, though, was when I had the urge to sing. You see, normally when my speaking voice comes back to me it is a day or two until my singing voice returns. But today? I am back to singing already - and that makes me a very happy momma. *big grin*

I want to thank each of you for your kind words and wonderful suggestions for me. Ultimately, I think it was the rest and prayers that did it for me. I took it easy yesterday afternoon and evening and went to bed at a decent time. My husband and kids were praying for me, and you - my treasured bloggy friends. Thank you.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When I REALLY Wish Negative Was Positive...

It started on Monday.

Just a little.

Everything else was fine. My throat just hurt a bit.

Sleep was difficult Monday night, as my throat was hurting more - even though I had gargled with salt water before bed. (Grandma Peggy's home remedy for sore throats. Which usually works well.)
By Tuesday I was refraining from kissing my kids and was spending more time with the sink and salt water. I also made an appointment with the doctor, figuring I must have strep throat and it would be good to start on an antibiotic and "get well soon."
At bedtime Tuesday I had to tell the kids I couldn't sing bedtime songs. My throat hurt too much. Somehow they managed to sleep without them.
But I? Had another night of fitful sleep. *sigh*
I had my doctor appointment to which I could look forward, though, so I was hopeful I would be better soon.
Then I woke up this morning barely able to do more than whisper. The kids think it's great! Honestly, I kind of like being quiet. At least when the kids yell, "Mom!" from the other end of the house, I have legitimate grounds for not answering. (I've been trying to teach them to not yell across the house to me. I always say, "If you want to talk to me, come to me and talk. Don't yell.") Anyway, I don't think the novelty of my laryngitis is enough to out-weigh the pain I have every time I swallow, or the ache of simply existing.
But I was holding out hope for the doctor's visit.

Was. In the past tense. As in, I am not hopeful anymore.

Because I'm home from the doctor's now.
She took one look in my mouth and said, with a sympathetic look on her face, "It looks viral to me." But she shoved two six-inch cotton swabs down my throat gave me a throat culture to test for strep, just in case. And when she came back she gave me that same sympathetic look and said, "It came back negative."
I whispered, "That means I don't have strep, right?"
"That's right."
"So I just have to wait it out, right?"
*sigh* "OK."

So, there it is. It's a viral infection and I should be feeling better in just seven to ten days. Oh, happy me.
I wonder how long I'll be without a voice. My kids are going to have fun with this one!
I wonder if gargling with salt water is ever going to give me relief. It's quite a disgusting practice and I would rather not do it if it isn't going to help.
I wonder if school supplies are cheaper at Meijer or Office Max. Oh, sorry! That slipped.

Anyway, as I was driving home from my appointment this afternoon I was asking God to show me the blessing in this situation. I know He doesn't waste anything in our lives. No amount of suffering - big or small - goes unnoticed by Him and He uses everything for our good and His glory.
Even my sore throat?
Yeah, I think so. Maybe it'll be in the closeness I'm getting with my kids because they have to be so near to me if they want to hear me. Perhaps I'll finally get into the habit of REALLY thinking before I speak; Is it truly necessary to respond to this, Karen? I don't know, but I trust God.

In the mean time? I really wish I had strep throat so I could just take an antibiotic and feel better in 24 hours. Because this sore throat HURTS!

Anyone have remedies to suggest which don't involve salt water?

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Was That a Contraction?

If publishing a book is like having a baby, I think I just felt a contraction!

I sent the files to the printer today. Fed Ex tells me they'll arrive by 10:30 tomorrow.
Got my final proof of the cover and have forwarded that on to the printer.
That means, in approximately four weeks I'll have new book in my arms hands.
Yep. I think it was a contraction. And I'm excited!!!

Wanna see a...picture?

I am planning something special to share with you when the book arrives. And I also plan to give a couple copies away to my bloggy friends. I haven't decided if I'm going to simply let you "enter," or if you'll need to work for it. But stay tuned. I'll decide in the next week or two and let the contest begin. *grin*
Hope you're having a blessed day. Mine started out super stressful, but I'm Finding Joy(!) as it goes on.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mothering From My Knees

I totally impressed myself this morning.

Katie was pleased, too.

I went in to Fitness Together for my workout and did more than I ever have before. Katie's goal for me has been to do three pull-ups. (Not so hard, you think? YOU try it!) Previously I have managed to do two, maybe two and a half. Once Katie gave me credit for two and three-quarters.
But today?
I did a-l-m-o-s-t four!!!
Then we went into squats. Katie said, "Last time you did these, you did it with 115 pounds. And you did three sets of 12." (Katie knows I have a bit of a competitive spirit. She just has to tell me what I did last time, or what someone else can do, to motivate me to try harder.) "Today, you're going to do it with 120 pounds."
I did.

And then there were the upright rows. Katie was counting my reps and wanted me to go to 15. But when I was at 14 she asked, "Can you do 20?" I said, "I don't know. Maybe."
I did.

I got lots of high-fives from Katie this morning. It felt good to work hard and make progress. I know I am getting stronger.

Even so, I am fully aware that no matter how many pull-ups I do, no matter how much weight I can carry when I do squats, and regardless of how many reps I do on my upright rows, I am a complete weakling when it comes to mothering.
Even if someone says to me, "Mrs. Jones kept her cool yesterday when Bobby was throwing a fit. She sent him to his room for a time out and baked a pie while he sat there thinking about his behavior," I cannot rise to the occasion and do "better." Competitive spirit, or not.

I have realized, the only way I am going to survive motherhood - the only way my children are going to survive childhood - is if I am mothering from my knees.

Two nights ago Matthew was very upset with me. He was mad that I wouldn't let him have "more" ice cream. I'll skip the gory details. But he ended up in his room banging on the walls and his toy box. I had sent him there because of the words he was using with me, and then found myself going in to talk to him more.
Really, all I wanted to do was tell him that if he truly felt the need to bang on things, it would be much better for him to hit his pillow. No chance there of breaking anything or hurting himself. But that sent him off on another tirade and I just was not up for listening to it.
So I went to my own room.

And I dropped to my knees.

And I begged God to help me through this thing called motherhood.
I prayed for Matthew, and I prayed for me.

And I cried a few tears.

Later on in the evening Matthew came to me and apologized for the way he had been behaving, and I thanked God for working in his little heart.

When bedtime came, I told Matthew I was so glad that he had thought about his behavior and apologized to me. I reminded him that I love him, and even when I am irritated by his behavior my love for him doesn't stop. He smiled at that thought and then wanted to know if I was sorry for dumping his ice cream. (Part of the gory details I skipped. But I did it thoughtfully and calmly. And believe me - it was an appropriate response to his behavior!)
I just looked at him and said, "No, honey. I'm not. Remember what we're learning? Bad decisions result in bad consequences. And losing your ice cream was the bad consequence of your bad decisions to yell at me."

I really think he "got it."
And I am so thankful for the strength God is giving me while I am mothering from my knees.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Change in Plans

So, that family that was going to stay with us last night? Spent the night in the New York airport instead. I don't know all the details - missed flights, only two seats available on the next flight (They needed four.) - but it all came down to them spending the night in the airport in New York and getting to Michigan this afternoon. And now they're at their apartment getting settled.
Maybe I'll get to take Mom shopping in the next day or two. I might take her children with us to the park tomorrow - if they feel comfortable with me. We'll certainly be inviting them over in the next week or so for friendship and fun. My kids are very anxious to meet them and were rather disappointed that they aren't spending the night with us.
But I am reminded that none of this situation is a surprise to God. He stayed awake all last night and watched over this family as they slept (If they could sleep!) in the airport. He knew they wouldn't get to Michigan until today. He knew they wouldn't be staying at our house. (Thankfully, I didn't know that. And now I have a pretty clean house. We always say we should have company more often, because then our house would be so much neater!)
And He knows how the days ahead will transpire - for us and for them, and for you. Whatever it is you're facing today, I pray you are facing it with the full knowledge that the Lord of the universe is facing it with you. HE is before you, behind you, and beside you. Always.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

House Guests

OK, stick with me and read this slowly, and I think you'll get it the first time through. We're having house guests tonight whom I have never met, with whom it is going to be a challenge to communicate, and whom I cannot wait to meet!
See, I have a friend who is a missionary in Taiwan.
My friend has a friend in Taiwan.
My friend's friend has a sister in Iraq.
My friend's friend's sister is going to study for a graduate degree at Michigan State University. (Which is close to my house.)
My friend's friend's sister and her family are coming to the US from Iraq today.
By the time they get here, the rental office for their apartment is going to be closed for the day and they need a place to stay tonight.
So they're going to stay with us!
In fact, they may be staying longer - depending on how things go tomorrow in trying to get settled into their new home. And that is fine with me.
This is a family of four - mom and dad and two children. Mom speaks some English, the kids don't speak any at all, and I'm not sure about Dad. My kids think it is going to be great fun welcoming these children from Iraq, communicating without speaking, teaching them some English words, and imparting the most important skills of all --- how to play the Wii!
I am praying that we will be a blessing to this family - that God will use us now and throughout their entire time here to show them His love (I'm pretty sure they're believers.) and to make them feel at home. What a wonderful opportunity He is giving us to be His instruments!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008


Thank you so much for your prayers while I was "retreating" Friday. The kids only called three times. *grin*
I got the first draft written for my Finding Joy talk, as well as a modified version I'll be giving to a group who asked me to address quiet times. I also worked on writing a devotion that's been on my mind for a few days. And I got a nap, and took a prayer walk...It was a really great day.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

If You Think About Me...

...and since you're reading my blog, you must be thinking about me, so will you stop a minute and say a prayer for me?
Here's why:
Friday morning I am going to a retreat center near my home so I can have total peace to spend the day writing. Yes, the book is finished, but now I need to write the talks I'll be giving to moms' groups on the topic of Finding Joy. I have tried writing at home, but there are just too many interruptions here. (Exhibit A: It took me at least 15 minutes to get those sentences written. Which leads me to a question that has loomed over my head: Those of you who post nearly every day - and long posts at that - How do you do it?????)
The kids don't go back to school until the beginning of September, and I really don't want to wait that long to get serious about writing these talks. So, tomorrow I go to the retreat center!
I will begin the day in prayer and worship - not in writing. I know God loves mothers tenderly and I want to be close to His heart so I can hear the words He wants me to say to them. And this is where I would so appreciate your prayers for me. Please pray that I may be sensitive to God's heart and His leading.

Please pray, too, for my kids. Most of the 15 minutes I spent writing those first sentences was spent trying to mediate arguments between them. My thought was, Are they going to kill each other when I'm not here tomorrow? But Brian will be near, and God reminded me things always seem to fall apart when I'm on the verge of good ministry.
Surely, my Enemy doesn't want me to prepare a talk which will draw mothers closer to God. It makes sense he would be doing some attacking right about now. I fight him best on my knees, and would love for you to join me!

Thanks, dear sisters!

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Speaking Thru Me

If you have been reading here for a little while hopefully you are aware that, besides being a mom, I am also a speaker. For the past three years I have been speaking for moms' groups about the hope God has given me in the midst of my mothering struggles. And I love speaking for these groups. There is nothing quite like hugging and praying for a mother who comes to me in tears saying, "I am so glad to know I'm not alone!" As long as God keeps the invitations coming, I will keep speaking for moms.

But over the course of the past several months, God has given me more and more leadings toward things I want to share with Christian women. Not just moms.
I have talks running around in my head which I am aching to write and present to women who know the Lord, and who need to be encouraged in their walk with Him. I want to remind women of the goodness of our God. I want to speak His love to them and assure them He is worthy of our faith and trust - even when we cannot see Him moving. I want to be a vessel of His love and hope to women who need to hear His voice.
Being His vessel is one thing I seek to do through this blog, and in the email correspondence I have with blogging friends. And as much as I love this way of communicating, my greater desire is to be able to do it in person. I want to be able to look into the faces of women and speak these words He has put into my heart.

And this desire I have to speak for groups of Christian women is the reason I am so excited to tell you about the ministry I have joined. It is called Speaking Thru Me Ministries, and it is a group of women like me whom God has called to proclaim His Word. You can click on the Speaking Thru Me button in my sidebar to see our website and learn more about us. And then, when your women's ministry is in need of a speaker I hope you will visit again and invite ME! one of us to speak for you. *grin*
I have my first Speaking Thru Me assignment. I will be speaking for an Advent Brunch in Marion, OH on December 6. The message is one God lead me to during my quiet time one day, for which I wondered - This is hardly a MOPS talk, Lord. With whom will I share these words?
Of course, He knew the time and the place. As it always has been and will be - it isn't my job to arrange, just to wait and be faithful. He will speak thru me according to His perfect time.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Meeting with the Physician

A few days ago I was meeting with our Physician.

The GREAT Physician, that is.

I was talking with Him about my children. My friend gave me a list of 31 Biblical virtues, and every day I talk with the Physician about one of those virtues as they relate to my kids. On this particular day, we were focusing on mercy.
As I do every day, I told the Physician how much I love my children and how great my desire is for them to grow up and become young doctors, walking in His footsteps. Then we started talking about this "mercy" issue.
See, my children are pretty good at being merciful to small animals, and cool bugs they find outside. They know when their friends are in need of kindness and they're able to be merciful toward them. And my kids sure have a handle on understanding when they, themselves, should be the recipients of someone's merciful ways.

But when it comes to showing mercy to one another? Oh, they are desperately lacking.

It is much more common for them to cut each other down and tear one another apart with unkind words. Words which show no sign of mercy. And it hurts my heart when I hear them say these things.
It really makes me sad, and as I talked with my Physician about the sadness in my heart, I nearly started crying. I told Him I know it is more than just the words coming out of their mouths which needs to change. I understand it really is a heart issue, and I asked Him to change their hearts. I asked Him to give them new hearts which spring forth mercy and kind words, which build each other up.

At this point, the Physician was quiet and looked at me with gentle eyes. Though His look was full of love, it pierced right through my heart. And I got silent for a moment.
I just looked at Him.
And He kept staring at me with a shocking love and a look which told me He could see right into my heart.
I asked Him, "Why are You looking at me like that? I'm here to talk with You about my children!"
But He simply kept looking at me.
So I stared back. And I couldn't get over the look of love in His eyes. He wasn't trying to be more stubborn than me. I knew He was trying to tell me something.
But He wasn't talking about my children, and that's what I didn't understand. He knew that's what I was there for. I had made an appointment to talk about my kids, and I fully intended to keep it.
But in time, His love won me over and I began to hear what He was saying. And as soon as I heard Him, I knew He was right. The Physician told me that He will work in my children, but He has also given them me. And the Physician reminded me that I am to be a model of mercy to my children. He told me I was right - in that they need their hearts to be changed - but they also need a model of mercy to follow, and that is one of my primary roles as their mother.
"Oh, Yes! You are so right! You are! You are! I will be that model for them. Yes, I will!"
And I thought we were finished. I was ready to hug Him and be on my merciful way.
But then His eyes caught mine. He had that look again. The piercing one which went right into my heart. Only this time His gaze was moving back and forth from my heart to my eyes, and from my heart to my mouth.
I wondered what on earth He was doing now. Hadn't we reached our conclusion already?
And I rolled my eyes.
That's it! Do that again. No. Wait. And He put a mirror in front of me. Now do it.
So I did. I might have been a little too expressive with the eye rolling the second time around, but I was losing my grasp on patience.
Thankfully, the Physician had lots of it. Yeah, patience and patients! But at the moment, I had His full attention, as if there were no other patients on His mind except me. And without even a trace of the love leaving His expression, He began to talk.
Karen, that thing you just did with your eyes? You did it because you were not being patient with Me, didn't you.
As if He needed to ask.
It didn't look very nice, did it?

Of course, He was right. Again.
Darling, do you realize that is the same look you give your children when they are asking you for help, and love, and attention all day? Many times when these precious ones just want you to love them, when they need some mercy, you roll your eyes at them because you think you have something more important to do. Why is that, dear one?
I lowered my eyes and replied, "Uh. I don't know. Because I'm busy?"

When I glanced up, He was still looking at me. And that love was still there.
And He opened His mouth to speak again. Come closer. Let me have a look at your mouth. Oh...This is not good. My child, you have allowed harsh words to come out of your mouth. When your son was too busy playing to remember to use the toilet, you got upset with him and made him feel bad. Why did you do that, sweetheart?
Again, I lowered my eyes and replied, "I don't know. Because he should know better?"
Precious, Karen. My beloved child. I want you to model mercy for your children. They need to see it coming from you so they know how to show it to each other.
This time, I looked right at Him. And with tears running down my cheeks I said, "You're right. I know You're right! And I'm trying, Physician. Believe me, I'm trying! But I can't seem to get it right. No matter how hard I try, I lose patience and I say unkind things. I am so sorry. You've got to believe me! I just don't know what to do!"

And then He did the most amazing thing. The Physician reached out and took hold of my right hand. With His other hand, He wiped the tears from my eyes. He looked upon me with that love, and He spoke. My child, do not fear. I will help you. I am going to work in the hearts of your children. I promise. But first? Come. I need to do some work on yours.

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Lessons from the Basement

Because enough people have asked me about my anniversary, I feel as though I've already written a blog post about it. And since I've written it out so many times in emails, I figured I may as well write about it here, too.
This is what happened:
We have rental houses, and one of them needed to be cleaned out. Since we're going away this weekend, last night was really the only time we had to do it - so that was to be our Anniversary "date."
Brian had to repair some windows and asked me to clean out the basement. OK, I thought, I can do that.
I had brought rubber gloves and felt a little prissy putting them on to clean out the basement, but when I got down there and saw the task before me, I was so glad I had something to put on my hands! Several times in the cleaning process I remembered it was only a thin layer of latex between my hands and the gunk, but I was glad for the barrier - no matter how small.
As I stood there in the smelly, dark basement, disgusted by the slime and sludge, I began to pray. Lord, I know there has got to be a lesson in here for me somewhere. I'm not sure what it is, but if there's something for me to see, please show me.
Sometimes the Lord responds to my requests slowly, and sometimes He's fast. Always, His timing is perfect.
Well last night, He was responding immediately.
I was peeling piles of wet, slimy cardboard off the floor, trying to hold my breath and not pass out, and was overwhelmed by the smell and disgust of the whole thing. In that moment it occurred to me that my sin is more repulsive to God than the basement in which I was standing was sickening to me.
I didn't want to be in that basement. It was dark. I only had a flash light and a little daylight trickling down the steps to help me know what I was touching. It smelled bad. It was dirty. Yuck!
But my sin! God cannot dwell with it. He is holy. He is perfectly pure. He cannot be in the presence of sin. My sin is more than repulsive to God. And being in the midst of sludge in the basement drove that point home to me.

Then, as I considered my reluctant willingness to clean the mess in the basement - and as I faced the reality that after my hard work the basement was still going to be dirty - God brought the lesson full circle.
He reminded me that, although my sin is repulsive, He willingly - without a trace of reluctance - cleans it up. He has cleansed me fully by the blood of Jesus. And I am clean now, as white as snow.
Jesus' death on the cross was sufficient to completely forgive my sins and yours. There is no sludge or slime we can produce which cannot be covered by the blood of the Lamb. His sacrifice was enough!

That realization - though it didn't make the basement less smelly - drew me closer to God, fixed my perspective, and helped my press on to the end of the job. And it reminded me, just as HE runs? HE also cleans basements!

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Feeling the Love!

Yes, I am certainly feeling the love today.

For one, it is my fifteenth wedding anniversary! It's been a busy day and I've hardly seen my hubby, but we're going to have some quality time here pretty soon. Yep. Going over to one of our rental houses to clean together. Sounds romantic, eh? Well, it's go to be done.
We'll, uh, celebrate later. *wink*

And JanMary is making me feel the love, too. She has given me this award:This award originated from Memoirs of a Mommy, and the rules for sharing the love are simple.
SHARE THE LOVE!!! Share this award with the blogs out there that you love. The people who make you smile, who make you laugh, who make your day, who leave uplifting comments for you! She simply asks you to leave a link to her post with the award, and ask your recipients to do the same.

And now, I am going to share the love with four precious blogging friends who make me feel loved, who make me glad to be in the blogosphere, and who make me wish there was a way I could fly all over the country and be able to meet them in person.

Amanda from I Am Mommy

Dierdre from screamofcontinuousness

Angela from Becoming Me

Stacey from Keep Going

And if I didn't name you, please don't be offended. I love you all and am thankful for your kindness to me, always.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Close to Finding Joy!

I am so close to sending my book to the printer, I can hardly stand it.
*big grin*
Carol Kent read my manuscript and sent me an endorsement last week. Have you ever read Carol's books, or heard her speak? She is an outstanding Christian woman and it thrills me to no end to have her endorsement.
This is what she said:

If you ever feel like being a mother is the best and the worst of all possible jobs, this is the devotional for you! In Finding Joy: More Confessions of an Irritable Mother, Karen Hossink reminds all of us to stop long enough to listen to God’s voice in the middle of frustration, interruptions, household noise, constant questions, and everyday chaos. This book will let you know you are not alone and will give you renewed hope and courage as you face the daily challenges of being a mom. Don’t miss it!

Carol Kent, Speaker and Author
When I Lay My Isaac Down (NavPress)
A New Kind of Normal (Thomas Nelson)

At this point, it looks like Finding Joy will be available in October. I'll keep you posted!

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Monday, August 04, 2008

HE Watches

He will not let your foot slip - he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:3-4
It is the desire of my heart to become holy. I want to be a godly woman - to be a reflection of Him to the world around me. But last night I found myself thinking, No, God. I don't want to be like You in this way!

The "this way" to which I was referring was the neither-slumber-nor-sleep way.

(For those of you with infants who are not sleeping through the night yet, please forgive my whining. But I did my time with that already, and now I just want to sleep when it's nighttime!)

It started right away when I went to bed. Joshua had a friend spend the night and they were up late, making lots of noise. We finally told them it was time to be quiet and go to sleep, because they were keeping Brian and I awake. I thought that would do it.


I spent the next hour or so dealing with a nosy little brother who wanted to spy on his big brother's sleep over. Joshua was irritated. By this time I could tell he was quite tired and really wanted to go to sleep, but Matthew was keeping him up. When I finally got smart, I took Matthew's Nintendo DS away. Oooooo, he was not happy with me for that one. But he stayed in bed from that point on!

And I? Finally fell asleep.

Until a very tired and upset Joshua came to me in tears and woke me up again. It seems his friend couldn't fall asleep in his sleeping bag on the floor so Joshua gave up his bed. And now, while his friend was asleep, Joshua was stuck in a state of frustrated awake-ness. He wanted to know if he could come sleep on the floor in my room.
I didn't understand how my floor would be any more comfortable than his own, but he was desperate and I was tired. So I said he could come in.
Joshua lay on my floor sneezing and sniffling and I got up to give him a tissue. (Partly for his own comfort. Mostly because I knew there was no way I was going to fall back to sleep if he continued sniffling.) When I gave him the tissue, he asked for a drink of water. I went and got that for him.
After I gave Joshua the water I sat down on the floor and started scratching his back and playing with his hair. (Two activities which usually serve to relax him and lull him to sleep.) And he was weeping. I said, "I know, honey. I'm having a hard time getting to sleep tonight, too." After a brief pause Joshua said - through increasing tears, "Is it because of me?"
And I regretted making that statement.
I just mumbled something about it not being all because of him, and I began praying. It was as I sat there with Joshua - wondering if I would be able to get any sleep at all - that my ind went to Psalm 121. I thought about the fact that God neither slumbers nor sleeps. Rather, HE watches over us all day and night. He never takes His eyes off of us.
I knew at that very moment God was watching over me as I was trying to calm and comfort my uptight little boy. I knew He was going to give me - somehow - the rest I needed. And I prayed over and over, Please, Father, bring sleep to Joshua tonight. Please calm him and comfort him, and bring him peace.
In spite of my sleepiness I found comfort in knowing God was awake with me, watching over Joshua and me, and not wishing I would go to sleep soon so that HE could go to bed Himself.
He lovingly and patiently watched us all night long.
And He did bring sleep over both of us. *relieved sigh*
The LORD watches over you -
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm -
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121:5-8
He's watching you today. Rejoice!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

HE Runs

It has delighted my heart to have God show Himself to me in so many ways - thus leading to this "HE" series, which I never intended to start...but I have to go where He leads me! I have been so grateful to God for the ways He has spoken through my most recent post, HE Comforts. If you missed it, click on over and let God speak His love to you.

I woke up this morning, knowing I needed to go running. I have sort of been too lazy busy to run much over the past week or so, and before not running becomes a habit again I knew I needed to get going.
So I did.
As I ran, and enjoyed my iPod, I prayed, and realized how much I was enjoying being with God. Really. I talked with Him and just knew He was running with me.
When I was getting tired and wanted to quit I prayed and asked Him to give me strength, and - seeing the parallel - I asked Him to strengthen me in mothering when I'm tired and I want to quit there, too.
As I was going up a hill, and really wanted to quit, I asked God to call me onward and push me forward. I prayed, Be before me and behind me. Then I smiled and added, And beside me.
I continued on and God brought several people to my mind for whom I needed to pray. As I was getting more tired and thought more about quitting, God was reminding me of friends in tiring situations who are having a hard time persevering. So I prayed for them. God reminded me His power is made perfect in our weakness, so I prayed that He would display His power in the lives and circumstances of these friends of mine - in the midst of their weakness.

I ran a little bit longer than a 5K this morning, and it delighted my heart to consider that HE runs. God was with me every step of the way. It was a sweet time of fellowship as His Spirit prompted me to pray for people and as I truly sensed Him giving me the strength to continue on. And the thing is, God doesn't just run.
HE cleans bathrooms.
HE goes shopping.
HE changes diapers.
HE prepares meals.
HE goes to work.
Whatever you are doing, no matter how mundane, no matter how "nonspiritual," God is right there with you. And I believe He longs to have fellowship with you in every.single.moment.
God is before you, behind you, and beside you. Enjoy His presence today!

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