Monday, August 31, 2009

Change My Heart, O God

BTW, I had a great time Saturday. Will talk about it a bit in Thursday's post.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

This Week's WORD

Hear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Psalm 86:1

Do I hear an Amen!, sisters???

I think at one time or another I have claimed almost every Psalm to be my favorite. And this week? It's Psalm 86. Filled with my need, and God's goodness and faithfulness, this psalm completely spoke to my heart. Go ahead and click on the link so you can read it, and let Him pour His love out on you, too.

May the love of our great Savior and King carry you through this weekend. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

The WAIT is Almost Over

Do you remember my struggle this summer with wanting so desperately to have time alone? I was certain I needed to get away for a couple of days to preserve my sanity and soul, but the opportunities kept slipping away. Until I finally concluded that it just wasn't going to happen.
And I was convinced God was OK with me not getting away. I was trusting that, even though I couldn't see it, He had a good reason for holding out on me, er, driving me to the edge of insanity, er, ignoring me, er, allowing me to wait. Yeah, that's it!
And do you remember what I learned about waiting? Waiting often makes the answer sweeter. Much sweeter.

Well, friends, my wait is almost over!

Honestly, I had accepted the conclusion that I was not going to have an opportunity to get away by myself this summer. Wasn't all too happy about it, but I was earnestly seeking to trust God and believe He has my best in mind.
Then, last week my husband told me it would be OK with him if I didn't attend his friend's wedding - that he would find a friend to take along. Brian said he knows I would much rather see a concert of my favorite Christian recording artist, and encouraged me to go. Brian was releasing me from an obligation, and I felt like he'd just given me the most wonderful gift!
Hmmmm, my birthday is next month. Wonder if this is an early present.
I'll take it!

So, Saturday morning I am making a trip to west Michigan and I am going to spend the day alone - just me and my Jesus! I might walk along the beach. I might sit for hours beneath a tree. I might splash around in the water. It doesn't really matter, because it's just going to be me and Jesus, and no one else has any need to know where I am or what I'm doing.
And in the evening I am going to delight in His presence some more, while I enjoy listening to Kathy Troccoli in concert.
I feel like I have waited so long for this "vacation," and I know it is going to be very sweet.

Father, thank You. Thank You for working out this plan so that I can get away to be alone with You for an entire day.
Forgive me for the tears I have cried because I didn't get this day according to my own timing. Forgive me for doubting Your goodness because You didn't give me what I wanted, when I wanted it. And thank You for Your patience with me - for loving me through the tears.
Lord, I am so looking forward to Saturday! I am so looking forward to being with You, without distractions. Oh! I can't wait!!!
Well, yes, I can. Because I have. And You have been with me all through the WAIT - loving me faithfully, caring for me perfectly, teaching me patiently.
Thank You, God. I love you so much!

If you're in a waiting pattern right now, please receive this encouragement to keep clinging to God. He does have your best in mind. I believe it!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

But I Don't Want to Wish These Days Away!

OK. Yesterday I wrote about a great experience I had with my son over the weekend and now I am writing about my feelings of despair from that same evening.
We're up.
We're down.
Welcome to my world!

It was time for bed, the kids were showered, and we were gathering for family prayer.
At this point, I had already become frustrated with Matthew's inability to stay focused and he had lost use of all electronics for the next two days. (Usually, the thought of not having computer time is enough to motivate him to stay on task. Not so Saturday night.) While I was hopeful that we could have a peaceful, meaningful time as a family with the Lord before heading to bed, it was not to be so.
The boys were fidgety and could seem only to focus on one another. I started off simply giving them "the eye," and when that didn't work I reminded them verbally about the behavior I expect from them during family prayer.
I am sure my tone of voice was less than loving, and I know the fact that I was quite tired myself didn't help matters. At all.
And when the boys continued in their rambunctiousness, I simply looked at my husband, sighed, and said, "One day. Right? One day."
Meaning, "One day I'm going to miss this, right?" I mean, that's what everyone says who has grown children. One day I'm going to miss the noise. And for a brief moment I thought, Ah, that day can't come soon enough!

But then I remembered, I don't want to wish these days away!

Have you been there, too? Perhaps you're there right now - caught somewhere between, Lord, grow them up. Quickly! and Oh! Let them stay my babies forever!
It's a hard balancing act, this mothering thing is. Don't know how I would survive it without the grace and mercy of God.
Check that. I know I wouldn't be able to survive it without the grace and mercy of God. Let's go to Him together right now.

Father in heaven, thank You. Thank You for your grace and mercy, which You give so freely. Your grace and mercy which none of us deserves, yet You lavish it upon us. And yes, Lord, I thank You for my children. Indeed, they are gifts from You - and when they're being quiet and I am not tired, it's easy for me to remember that. Please help me to remember it, also, in the midst of the noise.
Lord, we are in constant need of Your grace and mercy. And I am asking You now - for myself, and for each of my friends here - for patience and abounding love for our children. Help us to treasure the moments we have with them now, that we may not wish these days away. When the moments are feeling like too much for us, Father, flood us with peace and be our Strength.
We need You, and we are so thankful for Your faithfulness toward us.
Amen and amen!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Wonderful "Bad" Fishing Day

"This is a bad fishing day. It's cold, and I haven't caught anything. But I'm so glad you brought me!"
These were the words my son uttered to me last weekend as we sat next to one another on the fishing dock at Lake Lansing.
It was windy, and it was cold. I was wearing jeans and a sweater, and still I thought I should've had a jacket, too! To be honest, I was on the verge of miserable as the wind whipped past my ears, and I glanced at my watch wondering if it "was time" to leave yet.

And the fishing?
Was pitiful.
Just a few days prior to this one, I had also taken Joshua fishing and he caught a huge bass. Seriously. I could have put my whole fist in the mouth of that fish. ("Could have" would be the operative words in that sentence. I didn't really do it!)
On that day, it was like the bass was playing games with Joshua - showing up to nibble and then darting away, until he finally hooked the big guy. And I, by the way, landed it. (That means I scooped it up with the net. New fishing term Joshua taught me, and now I feel cool using it. *grin*)
Indeed, that day the fishing was fun! But this weekend, you might have thought there were no fish in the lake at all. The only nibble Joshua got was from a duck who was being too nosy.
I was afraid my tends-to-focus-on-the-negative-side-of-things son was going to be sorely disappointed with the trip, and would bring home a bad attitude rather than a good fishing story.
I was afraid his sour attitude would poison the rest of the family.
I was afraid I would regret taking him fishing.

I was afraid, because we've been through that scene so many times before.

But Joshua surprised me.
He acknowledged the negative part of the day, but he said he was so glad I brought him! This boy - the one who I thought never listens to me when I try to show him how to look for the bright side of things - saw a positive in spite of the negative.
I wasn't expecting that.
All of a sudden I was infused with hope. In that instant I thought maybe, just maybe, perseverance was beginning to pay off. I wondered at the possibility that my son may be listening after all.
And all of a sudden, that bad fishing day became wonderful in my book.

Hopeful mom here, encouraging you to watch for your children to surprise you today!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

This Week's WORD

We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.
Psalm 33:20-22

I don't know about you, but I am concerned for the future of our nation. I try not to get caught up in despair and worry, but sometimes that's hard. So when God led me to Psalm 33 this week, it felt like a kiss from the King. It was a reminder that He is in control and I need not fear.
I read the entire psalm a couple times and just spent time praying for our nation. And I am inviting you to do the same!

May the Lord fill you with hope this weekend. See you back here Monday for the final Golf Lesson For Life!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Golf Lessons For Life, Part 3 - It's Good to Finish Before You're Ready to Quit

In case you want to catch up:
Part 1
Part 2

Before Brian and I went to the golf course - when I made my initial agreement to play with him - I said I would play nine holes.
Not eighteen.
Not twelve.
Not even nine and a half.
Nine holes. Period.

And honestly? I was just hoping I'd make it through nine without getting so frustrated that I wouldn't ever want to play again.
But Brian did such a great job encouraging me; he was so good at making me laugh and feel comfortable just being me; I had such an enjoyable time with him on the golf course that when we got to the end of the ninth hole I didn't even feel ready to quit.
I was perfectly willing to go into the clubhouse and sign up for another nine holes.
And that is why I thought it was the right time to finish playing golf for the day.
Because I didn't want to quit.

Oh, I know in "real life" we don't always have the luxury of finishing before we're ready to quit. Because there are many moments when I'm ready to tender my resignation from motherhood - and I am NOT finished with this job yet!
But that experience on the golf course led me to consider the value of pacing myself.
Maybe the WHOLE house doesn't get cleaned in one day. (Yeah. Like that would ever happen!)
Maybe I don't get ALL the ironing and mending done in one afternoon.
Maybe I only weed half the garden today.
Perhaps I only play nine holes. But when I finish before I'm ready to quit, I find I am much more willing to go out and play another nine later.

BTW, the reason I KNOW this is true is because Brian and I played nine holes in the morning, and went back that night to play the other nine. Maybe someday I'll work up to eighteen holes at a time, but for now - I'm sticking with nine!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Golf Lessons For Life, Part 2 - It's OK To Let Others Play Through

If you missed yesterday's post, you may click here to catch up.

My husband and I made it to the golf course pretty early in the morning. This was only my second time out in 22 years, and I was a bit nervous.
Not nervous because I felt the need to impress my husband, but nervous because there was a two-some behind us. They were a couple of men who were obviously better golfers than I am, and I felt pressure to hurry so as not to make them wait on me. OK, they never were actually waiting for me to finish a hole, but they were always right behind me and I was getting anxious.

My husband, smart man that he is, realized:
me + anxiety + a golf course = BAD NEWS

Brian knew removing anxiety from the equation would greatly increase the probability of me having a good time, and thereby agreeing to golf with him again. So he looked at me graciously and said, "Do you want to ask them to play through?"

At first I wanted to say NO. Inviting the men to play through would mean admitting that I am not a good golfer, that my playing might slow them down. Having them play through would require me to humble myself and acknowledge my imperfection - right there on the golf course in front of my husband, and those two men, and, and, well, I guess just the three of them.
Did I really want to do that???
But I knew allowing them to play through would be the right thing to do in regards to golf etiquette, and I know my husband is wise. So I agreed.
We stepped aside and waved them through, and they played on ahead of us.
And I?
Didn't feel pressure anymore when I stepped up to the tee, or when I went out 30 yards to hit my second shot, and my third, and fourth. I didn't feel anxious to hurry up with my first, or second, or third putt.
Confessing my short-comings - being open with the fact that I am not perfect - relieved the pressure I was feeling, and allowed me to relax and enjoy nine holes of golf with my husband.

And so it is with life.

Trying to live up to the expectation that we need to perform perfectly - Even when we're just a beginner! - brings on stress and anxiety, and useless guilt. But, oh, the freedom we can find by admitting our weakness. What joy there is when we shun our pride and accept who we are.
It's liberating to declare that I can't do it all!
And that's why I am convinced, It's OK to let other's play through.

Come back tomorrow for another Golf Lesson - For Life!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Golf Lessons For Life, Part 1

When I was about 13 years old I went golfing for the first time. Didn't do very well, but the boy I was playing with was cute - so I really didn't care.
As time went on I played with my dad - who is an excellent golfer - and my inadequacies were much more pronounced. I had a lesson with a "pro" but nothing made sense to me. I didn't understand the concept of, Put this hand here, and this one here. Now do this with your fingers, put your elbow here, bend a little like this and move your foot out like this. Now, RELAX!
I began to think, If you want the ball, why keep hitting it??? And I found myself agreeing with Mark Twain who once said, "Golf is a good walk spoiled." Finally, on one wet Saturday morning a very miserable 15-year-old girl left the golf course in tears, (Half way through the second hole, if I remember correctly!) vowing to never play the #*%$@! game again.

Hey, I didn't know Jesus yet. Sometimes #*%$@! came out of my mouth. *grin*

Fast forward 22 years.

My husband started playing golf and thought it would be a great idea if I would try it again. So we could play together.
Yeah, I made that vow on my way off the golf course many years ago, but more recently I made a vow to love my husband - for better or worse (And, for me, golf fits in the "worse" category!) so I agreed. I would give it a try again.
And, honestly? I didn't expect to have a good time.
But I did! I did enjoy myself. What a surprise!

Something else happened out there on the golf course which I wasn't expecting. I learned a few lessons. I mean, besides Keep your head down, and Repair your divots. I learned some lessons from playing golf which encourage me in the game of life.
Lessons like:
*Forward movement is progress.
*Remember the good hit.
*It's OK to let others "play through."
*Perspective and encouraging words make all the difference.
*Friends can help you get out of the sand.
*It's good to finish before you're ready to quit.

I'd like to expand on some of these lessons here, but I haven't decided which ones. In fact, I've decided I'm going to let YOU decide! In the comment section, please let me know which two or three lessons seem most interesting to you. I'll take it from there and post about them Wednesday and Thursday - and maybe even for my video on Monday.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a tee time. FORE!!!

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Not So Fast Winner Announced

And for those of you who didn't win the free copy...You may buy one wherever books are sold, including online at Amazon or CBD. I highly recommend it!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

This Week's WORD

You have until midnight Saturday to get in on the giveaway for Ann Kroeker's new book, Not So Fast. Click here to read about it and enter.

And now, for this week's WORD!

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits -
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103:1-5

Need I say more???

May you remember His benefits all weekend long. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Princess has a Crown - And The King is not Surprised

Did you read yesterday's post and sign up for the giveaway? If not, click here to participate!

If you have a daughter, do you call her your princess?
Seems that's what lots of parents call their little girls. And little girls love to do the princess thing! Pink, sparkles, dresses, tiaras...Oh, the memories!
Well, my princess doesn't get into dress-up anymore, but now she has a crown.

Last week I took Elizabeth to the dentist to have a filling put in her tooth. Only, when the spacer was taken off the tooth in question, our dentist discovered the real reason Elizabeth's tooth had been bothering her.
I was called back to the examining room and told she needed to have a root canal.
The dentist even had Elizabeth open her mouth so he could show me what was going on. Her tooth had broken apart and he showed me the root and everything. Ewww! I could've done without that episode of Show & Tell.
Now, if you know anything about root canals, you know they are always followed by a crown. So we are currently in the process of getting our princess a crown. She has been in for her first "fitting" and is now wearing her temporary crown. The real one is being made, and will be ready for Her Highness in a few weeks.
Further, if you know anything about root canals and crowns, you know they are a lot more expensive ($$$$$$$!!!!!) than a filling.

So last week, in the midst of the stress I was facing with my grandmother and various other things, I had this unexpected weight thrust upon me. At first I was simply begging God to keep me from crying right there in the middle of the dentist office. When that didn't work, I began crying out to HIM.
God, why did this have to happen now? You know the stress I'm already under with Grandma. You know the other financial burdens we're carrying. You know I feel like I'm about to crack. You know I can't handle another thing! How can it be that this one slipped past You???
And then it was as if He said to me, Yes, dear one. I do know. I know the stress and the burdens you're shouldering. And I knew all about Elizabeth's tooth, too. What the x-ray couldn't show, I saw. Though you just found out about it, darling, I am not surprised.
My child, I knew your grandmother would be in this situation - long before she fell. I knew your economy was going to be as it is - way before the recession hit. I knew about the break-in and the other troubles. I knew you were going to be feeling weary. And, yes, I knew about Elizabeth's root canal and crown.
But, sweetheart, I am not asking you to solve any of these problems. I am not asking you to be strong.
Lean in on Me. Look to Me. Trust in Me.
I am not overwhelmed by your situation, Karen, and I will carry you through. Just trust Me.

And you know what? I believe Him!
Don't know what your "crown" is today, but I do know The King is not surprised. You can trust Him!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

An Interview with Ann Kroeker

Today I am excited to have a guest on my blog!
I first "met" Ann Kroeker about nine years ago when I picked up her book, The Contemplative Mom. The subtitle of the book is Restoring Rich Relationship with God in the Midst of Motherhood, and I knew right away that I wanted to spend time learning from this mother!
In reading, I felt like I had a new friend who understood my heart's desire to draw closer to God. What a gift!
Years later, I discovered Ann's blog and we became acquainted with one another through the world of blogging. Just last year Ann supported me in my writing efforts by reading my manuscript for Finding Joy and writing an endorsement for me. And now I have the honor of welcoming Ann to my blog for an interview regarding her brand new book. This post is longer than usual, but I hope you are able to stick with us through the whole thing. This interview with Ann was a lot of fun, and there IS a giveaway at the end!
Let's get started!

First, Ann, would you tell us a little about your family? I know you’re a wife and a mother, so tell us about the people who have given you these roles.
My husband and I met after we were out of school, when we were bumbling through those first years of post-graduation adulthood. I wasn’t very capable in the kitchen, but I could make pretty good chocolate chip cookies and that may have done the trick, because he asked me to marry him. We’ve been married for 18 years, and he is my quiet, faithful, steady strength, fully supportive of my writing efforts all this time.
We have four kids: three girls and a boy, ages 15, 13, 11 and almost 8. They have a lot in common, yet are very different. They all devour books. They like imaginative play as well as card, board and electronic games. One is compassionate and articulate, while another finds it hard to express herself verbally but loves to write. Some of them seem to have inherited their father’s gift of service, so they are often eager to pitch in, say, at church to help move chairs or set up for a program.
They get along well, but arguments must be worked out. They mope. They drag their feet on chores. They grumble. That’s because, well, they’re human. And to be honest, I’m guilty of all of those same weaknesses, as well. So we live life together, pray together, learn together, make mistakes, ask forgiveness, laugh, relax, work, play, and do our best to serve and love by God’s grace.

Hmmm, they sound very similar to some kids I know!
Besides being a wife and mother, you are also an author with a brand new book release. Congratulations!

Thanks! As an author yourself, you know it’s a really big event in one’s life!

I sure do. And as an author myself, I also know authors like to talk about their books. *grin* Can you give us an overview of the new book?
Of course! For starters, all I really need to do in order to give people an idea of the topic is to say the title, Not So Fast: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families. Right away people know what it’s about at its most basic level. It’s about slowing down in our fast-paced world in order to experience deeper relationships with each other and with the Lord. But there are so many other benefits to slowing down, as well, such as reducing stress, gaining focus, discovering what success really means, learning what it means to rest, and giving our kids a meaningful childhood that is more rich than the rush and blur they experience in a hectic and harried lifestyle.

OK, I'm interested already! What led you to write Not So Fast?
We live in a high-achieving suburb of a metropolitan area, where parents are often pushing their kids to succeed … at least by the world’s standards. To achieve that end, these families are always on the go, rarely “settled” or content, often concerned that they aren’t doing enough to prepare their kids for the future.
When I talk with them, they might describe stress symptoms; admit that doing more seems better to them; and confess that fast-paced is the norm rather than the exception in their lives. When I interact with these folks at church and the soccer field, I hear some of them confess a longing to live differently without seeing a way out.
I realized that a lot of people share a frustration of desiring to experience a more peaceful, simpler pace of life while feeling obligated to spin that proverbial hamster wheel day and night.
Through writing a book, which can reach a wide range of people, I hope to encourage people that there’s another way to live. By sharing my story along with other research and insights, I want to point people first to Christ, the one true source of peace and rest. As readers seek the Lord regarding their frenzied schedules, they may gain confidence to experiment and risk doing less than the Joneses. And as they listen to the voice of God, if He indeed leads them to slow and simplify, I long for them to make bold, countercultural changes and begin reaping the riches of life in the slow lane.

Risk doing less than the Jonses? What a wonderful concept! I will openly admit to feeling pressure to keep up with "them." And here you are, giving us permission to do less! What are some of the topics you tackle in the book?
I try to explore lots of ways that our culture tempts or even pushes us to speed up. Then I provide an alternative approach, with simple suggestions to implement right away. For example, I talk about how our ability to show compassion and love is challenged when we’re in high-speed mode. There’s a chapter on rest, because not only do we cheat on sleep to fit more and more into our days but also families are being asked to give up their Sabbath due to sports and other activities being scheduled on Sundays. I talk about how we speed past creation, how consumerism speeds up spending, how messages aimed at our kids encourage them to grow up fast in inappropriate ways, and how creativity is often stifled when we’re always on the go. I think we underestimate how many ways the culture calls us to shift into overdrive.

That sounds great! I'm curious, have you always lived a “slow” life?
I grew up on a farm in a rural community, so my childhood memories are slow and relaxed with lots of solitude and time in nature. My husband grew up in a culture that knows how to flip on the pause button and take a good, long coffee break or a month-long vacation. So deep down inside of us is this history of living slower. When we put on the brakes, it felt natural to both of us.
Yet, when our kids were really little, I was so insecure that I thought we had to do it all. I wanted the best for my kids, so I would look to other families and if they seemed to be successful, I’d sign up for all the things their kids were doing. I let the culture influence our decisions and pretty soon, I was dragging my little girls all over town. I was stressed, and the kids would break down in tears from being on-the-go nonstop, but I kept on going. Our pace didn’t fit our personalities or our backgrounds, but I didn’t know how to change.
I thought I didn’t have a choice.
I thought that’s how everyone had to live.
In the middle of that, something dramatic happened that changed everything. I’ll save the details for readers of the book. But it freed us to boldly and confidently choose a completely different pace, flowing from a deeper relationship with the Lord. We’ve had lapses where we experimented and took on too much. But we recognized the stress symptoms and knew we had to direct our course back to the slow lane.

You'll save the details, huh? I definitely want to know the rest of the story, and I look forward to reading it soon.
Ann, I want to thank you for doing this interview and telling us about Not So Fast. It has been fun! But I just have to know, is it possible that the Contemplative Mom, who knows how to slow down and connect with God and her family, still has moments of irritability, when she contemplates how she’s going to survive motherhood?
How about a parting word of encouragement for all of the mothers out here who sometimes wonder how we’re going to make it?

Oh, my. Just ask my neighbor.
A few days ago, I was lecturing the kids loudly and irritably about not completing some tasks they left undone — tasks that I’d expected them to do, reminded them to do (two extra times), and really needed them to do. I was disappointed and frustrated and let them know about it.
We were outside at the time, mounting our bikes to head over to a book club. By the end of the lecture, we were all in tears. I turned and realized the neighbor was working in her yard and overheard everything, so I have a witness to my irritability.
As we biked down the road in silence, I was deeply convicted that I had gone too far. It was true that they had failed to act on my request even when it was reiterated calmly two other times. But I didn’t need to go on and on about it. About halfway to book club, I stopped them all and apologized for my overblown response. They were gracious and modeled forgiveness. They even apologized for their part. And when we got home, they completed the tasks.
So even the slow-paced, contemplative mom has her moments.
But you know, when I was in high-speed mode, those overblown lectures were much more frequent and were delivered at an even higher volume and in a more frantic tone. I do think that reducing stress is a good move for moms particularly prone to irritability. When I am living slower, I’m usually able to walk more intimately with God and experience a deeper, more profound and lasting peace. When I’m in that mode, keeping in step with the Spirit throughout the day, I experience more of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That’s all really good stuff to experience, realizing that it’s not me; rather, it’s the Lord working in me, forming me into the mom I long to be.

Thank you for your openness and honesty. You're speaking right to my heart, Ann. I know for certain that my irritability increases when I am stressed-out and frenzied. I do a lot of praying and deep breathing - trying to get my focus back on my Creator, and allowing Him to calm my spirit. But now that we've had this interview, I can't wait for my copy of Not So Fast to arrive. I am confident that my family and I will benefit from your words and work. Thank you!

I hope you enjoyed hearing from Ann Kroeker and learning about her new book. If you would like to get your own copy, you may purchase it from CBD or Amazon, or anywhere books are sold. Additionally, Ann writes about topics related to slowing down on the Not So Fast website. Check it out!

And, finally, the giveaway!
If you would like to enter to win a free copy of Not So Fast (Which Ann will sign for you, if you'd like!) simply leave a comment answering one of these questions: Which of the topics Ann mentioned above is of particular interest to you? OR How does increased stress and frenzy in your schedule affect your level of irritablity?
If you are a blogger, I will give you an additonal chance to win. Mention this giveaway on your blog and include a link to this post. Then tell me you did it and I'll put your name in twice!

Oh, I need an end time for this, don't I?! OK, thinking as I'm typing...How about midnight EST on Saturday? I'll draw the winner while I'm recording next Monday's video! So, enter by Saturday and tune in Monday to find out if you've won!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Aren't Supposed to Cry at Cedar Point!

Have you ever been to Cedar Point? When I was growing up, I think I went to Cedar Point at least once a summer between the ages of seven and fifteen. Oh, what a fun place!!!
Since those regular visits, though, I have only been able to go back a handfull of times. But one of those times was - last Friday! Brian and I took our kids and met my mom, (Yes - at 67 years of age she still LOVES roller coasters!) both of my brothers, my niece, and my nephew for a day of real fun.

As we entered the park, there was a mad dash to get to the first ride. Everyone was excited to get started, squealing about how much fun it was going to be racing down that first hill, anticipating the thrill of being scared half to death! And as we hurried through the gate, past the guy with the measuring stick, I realized Matthew was not tall enough to ride the roller coaster. He was almost tall enough, but rules are rules, and he was turned away.
I quickly got out of the line and ran back to where Matthew was standing, and that's when I saw the tears in his eyes.
But you aren't supposed to cry at Cedar Point!
At Cedar Point, you are only supposed to laugh and have lots of fun! Hadn't I told Matthew that rule???
And then, before I knew what was happening, I discovered there were tears forming in my own eyes. I hadn't even been on a ride yet, and already my heart was in my throat.

However, I knew the rule - the one about not crying, only laughing - so I grabbed Matthew's hand and told him I was going to take him to a different ride. The ride that was one of my absolute favorites when I was a kid. The Blue Streak! (By the way, I found a new favorite on this trip. maXair!)
After the Blue Streak, Matthew and I went on a twirly ride together and - in addition to the thrill of the ride - I was thoroughly enjoying the laughter and joy which were pouring forth from my son. The tears were forgotten completely and he was on his way to a wonderful, wonderful day.
We met up with the rest of the gang, and paid closer attention to height requirements before we got to the ride, from that moment on. That strategy worked, and there were no more tears - only laughter - for the rest of the day.

And as I walked through the park that day smiling because my children were having so much fun, remembering how Matthew's tears had brought forth my own, one question loomed in my mind. What exactly happened to my heart through the process of becoming a mother? It seems to have grown, yet broken apart, and now lives separately - in my body, and in the bodies of each of my children. Such that when they are happy, I am, too. And when they hurt, so do I.
It's an amazing thing God does in a woman when she becomes a mom - growing her heart like that!
And I have a feeling that "thing" He did in my heart is also the reason I haven't pinched their heads off when my children have brought me to the end of my rope. LOL!

Know what I mean? *grin*

BTW - don't forget to stop by tomorrow for my special guest and a giveaway!

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Are You Waiting, too?

***Head's Up!***
Be sure to stop by Wednesday. I am going to have a special guest and a giveaway!

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Friday, August 07, 2009

This Week's WORD

Happy Friday to you.
And Happy Anniversary to my husband and me! Sixteen years today. *grin*

Before I get into this week's WORD, I want to thank you for your prayers and kind words. And I want to give you a quick update.
On the down side, I had more stress and unexpected stress in one week than I've had in a loooong time. Also had a problem with leaky eyes. (I just tell my kids that my stress comes out through my tear ducts. *sigh*) And I am in serious need of a shoulder massage right now.


(And you know how I love a big BUT!)

On the upside, this morning when I walked into my grandmother's hospital room (I'm writing this Thursday.) she said, "I'm going to live!" She has been up and down like a yo-yo this week, but the sparkle is back in her eyes and it looks like she's finally turned the corner. Rather than planning for Hospice, my aunt is choosing a re-hab center/assisted living facility. Lord willing, Grandma will be in her new home in time to celebrate her 92nd birthday next month!

And now, we return to our regularly scheduled post...

But David found strength in the LORD his God.

1 Samuel 30:6b

You may recall that I am reading the Bible through chronologically. Well, on the day I was reading 1 Samuel 28-31, I was also directed to read Psalm 18. Before I turned to the psalm, I wondered for a minute what it was that encouraged David to find his strength in the LORD in the above verse.
David's home had been attacked and now the men of his city were talking of stoning him. Things were not looking good for David. And then came the statement, But David found strength in the LORD his God.
When I read Psalm 18, I felt I understood. Click on the link to read it, and then see if you agree with me: I think David wrote Psalm 18 right between 1 Samuel 30:6a and 6b!
What a great reminder for me this week - and any week! - to cling to my Rock in the midst of the struggle.

Have a great weekend. May the peace of Christ rest upon you!

See you back here Monday.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Keeping It Real

Last week Daveda left a comment thanking me for "keeping it real" here. As I thought about those words while I was planning my blog posts for this week, I realized I NEED to keep it real.

You see - I had a great time with Brian last week when we had our "get-away". We went golfing *ack!* and I even managed to enjoy it. In the midst of lost balls and bad swings, I came up with a very cute (At least I hope it will be!) blog mini-series about the life lessons I learned through golf. Intended to get those posts written for your edification and reading pleasure this week.

But this is reality:

My grandmother is in the hospital. Plans are being made to move her to Hospice, and I want to see her as much as I can.
My husband has asked me to work on a project to help lift some weight off his shoulders. And it's going to take me a while.
I simply am not going to have the time I need to put into decent blogging this week. That's reality.

I will post This Week's WORD on Friday - because I came across a very cool thing I really want to share with you. But other than that, I'll not be blogging.
I'll miss you.
And I do hope to be back to "normal" soon.

In the mean time, I sure would appreciate your prayers.
*For my grandmother's physical comfort and peace.
*For my dad and aunt as they watch their mother die.
*For my sensitivity to the needs of my dad and aunt.
*For my spirit. My fuse gets shorter when I am under stress, and I do not want to treat anyone harshly just because my burden is heavy. I need to remember that God will give me the strength I need to do all He has called me to do!

Thank you for praying. Thank you for caring.
I'll see you back here Friday.

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Monday, August 03, 2009