Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stressed-out Mom? Who Me?

I recently came across a list of Caregiver Stress Signs. I know it was meant for people who are caring for an ill family memeber, but as I read it I couldn't help but identify most of the conditions with motherhood.
Here's a sample.

*Having trouble sleeping
Mom, I had a bad dream. Can I sleep with you?

*Easily irritated by almost any situation
What? We're out of toilet paper? Arghhh!

*Crying easily
Hubby: Hi, honey. How was your day?
Me: Please don't make me talk about it. *sniff*

*Tired most or all of the time
Well, yeah!

*Noticing that you interrupt others' conversations
But, Mom! Why can't I go over to/ I told you NO, and I meant it. That's final!

*Speaking rapidly

*Chronically late for appointments or even social activities
What do you mean you can't find your shoes? I told you to put them by the door when you took them off!

So, what do you think? Can you identify with any of these signs of caregiver stress?
I read through the list and chuckled. Yes. I often feel this way.
So glad God is big enough to carry me through moments when I'm a stressed-out caregiver.
Looking forward to the next couple of days with my husband. The kids are going to Grandma's and we're going away.

I'll be back to blogging on Monday. See you then!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Opportunity Knocks

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Colossians 4:5-6

For several years I have been a fan of Colossians 4:5-6, trying to live it out. But sometimes I get lazy. Do you?
Then God puts opportunities in front of me and reminds me I need to make the most of them. I love His patience with me, and His unending grace which allows me repeated chances to "get it." Because last week during VBS He gave me several opportunities to be His instrument.
On one occasion I was comforting a little girl who had gotten hit with a ball. It was a little ball and I knew she was over-reacting - that the ball could not have hurt her as much as her tears and whimpering would indicate. But the amount of actual pain she was experiencing didn't seem important at the moment. She just needed to be comforted.
So I put my arm around her and let her tell me about the nasty ball. I prayed for her and asked God to help her feel better. And then it was as if He said to me, Karen, make the most of this opportunity. Don't stop now.
So I looked at this little girl and I told her that there will be other times in her life when she will hurt again - sometimes physically, and sometimes the pain will be in her heart. And I told her in those times God was going to be with her, and she could trust Him to comfort her and help her through the pain.
She looked at me and said she knew that was true. I am praying even as I type these words that this Truth which was planted in Zoe's heart last week will take root and grow throughout her precious life.

God gave me several opportunities like this one with Zoe during VBS. I share them with you, not because I want to make myself sound super-spiritual and righteous, but because I want to encourage you to keep your eyes open for similar opportunities. Watch for Him to give you occasions to share your faith. Pay attention for those teachable moments when you can encourage a child to trust God in their present and with their future. Look for the openings He gives to speak words of Truth and Hope.

Because, as sure as our God lives, opportunity knocks!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

This Week's WORD

"Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart."..."Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you."
1 Samuel 12:20&24
Israel has turned away from God time and again. The people have cried out to Him for mercy and He has saved them.
Now, in 1 Samuel, Israel is demanding a king. The people of Israel want to have a king so they can be just like all the surrounding people. And even though God has warned them about what life will be like under this king, even though Israel is rejecting Him as their king, they want what they want.

The thing that strikes me about this week's WORD is the hope in Samuel's statement. Even though the Israelite's had done evil in the eyes of the LORD, they could still turn back to God and serve Him. They still had a chance to be faithful to Him. He would still receive them, if they would come!
And so it is with us, my friends.
Have you ever turned your back on God? Have you ever felt as though you've done something so horrible that you are now disqualified from the love and mercy of God? Do you think He won't want to take you back???

The LORD your God is madly in love with you and He wants nothing more than for you to be in a faithful relationship with Him.
Do not be afraid. Serve Him faithfully. And remember what great things He has done for you.

May His grace carry you today. See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do You Want to Play a Game?

Did you try the hand-tapping game?
I hope you had fun with it!

Here's another one for you, which doesn't require as much physical coordination. Maybe a little more mental work, though. But you don't have to clear the table first.
This game is simply a round of asking questions. The first person asks a question of the person to their right. That person is not allowed to give an answer - they must turn to the next person and ask another question. And no question may be asked twice.
According to the "offical" rules, you aren't allowed to laugh in this game or you're out. But we eliminated that rule because all but two of us were "out" after the first question. The way we played, you get out if you repeat a question, answer a question, or can't think of a question in a reasonable amount of time. (Like five seconds.)
We had fun with our questions. Sometimes we answered questions by asking questions. For example, Elizabeth looked at my New Deal chart hanging on the wall and asked me, "Why do you give us check marks when we leave things out?" And I asked her, "Do you WANT to live in a messy house?"
Of course, there were the questions aimed at making people laugh, "Do you mind if I fart?"
And questions meant to tease one another. "Do you still like Caroline?"
But the thing I most enjoyed was the fact that we were sitting together, enjoying one another, and truly having a good time.

Give it a try tonight!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Games People Play

I am in Australia this week! Riding on the Boomerang Express, where it all comes back to Jesus.

OK, I'm not really in Australia. It's VBS week at church, and we're visiting the Outback in our imaginations.
My daughter and I (That's us in the picture above - with one of our wall decorations.) are working together with a precious group of third and fourth grade girls, and we're having a blast!

Since we're having such a good time, I thought it would be a good idea to share some fun with you. Fun in the form of a couple games my family played recently as we sat around the table after dinner. I'll tell you about one today, and the other tomorrow.

For the first game, you need to clear the table before you can play. When you're ready, have everyone rest their right hand on the table - extended toward the person on their right side. Then have them rest their left hand on the table - extended toward the person on their left. If you've done it correctly, every one's right arm will be crossed by the left arm of the person on their right.
Now, pick someone to begin the game by tapping one of their hands on the table. The hand next in line clock-wise taps next, followed by the next and the next. Until, someone taps their hand twice. Then the direction changes. And any time a person taps twice (Which anyone can do anytime they feel the urge!), the direction changes again.
If a hand misses a turn, taps out of turn, or takes too long to tap, that hand is out. Not the whole person, mind you, just that hand!
Play continues until only one hand remains.

This was a game learned at summer camp a few weeks ago, and we had tons of fun playing it at home. Lots of laughter! And the thing I enjoyed the most? My kids were playing together and no one was saying a mean thing to anyone else.
Ahhhh, music to this mom's ears!

Come back tomorrow for another game learned at camp!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Forgive You

When I was in the ninth grade, there were two girls I considered to be my best friends. One weekend in December one of them spent the night at the other's house and they got into a conversation about me. They started discussing all the things I had ever done that bothered them, and decided to record it in a letter for me - along with the fact that they no longer wanted to call me "friend." It took them nine pages to list all their grievances, but they got 'em all in.
They presented the letter to me just after lunch, a few days before Christmas vacation. (I had already bought their Christmas presents. Think I threw them away that year.) Yeah, just after lunch - right before fourth hour, a class the three of us had together. I cried real hard in class.
Have you ever had your heart ripped out of your chest and stomped on in front of 20-some other kids? That's kind of how I felt that day. I had no idea a fourteen year old girl could hurt that much.

Oh, I was hurting.

During the rest of my high school years, those two girls and I were civil toward one another, but I never forgot the pain.

Then I came to a day - years and years later - when God led me to forgive those girls for the way they hurt me.
We were kids when it happened.
As an adult I understood their behavior was childish. Though it tore me apart at the time, as an adult I could see it wasn't a pain worth holding in my heart. (Really, is ANY pain worth holding???)
And so I forgave them. It was over. I wasn't going to hold them responsible for my heart ache any longer.
I forgave them, and Jesus healed my heart.

Fast forward to this past Saturday night, and my 20-year high school class reunion. At first I saw her across the room, and a few minutes later she was walking right up to me. With a great big smile on her face.
We hugged and said, "Hello," and then Julie told me she needed to talk to me. She said for years she has felt terrible about that letter, and when she heard I was going to be at the reunion she knew she needed to apologize for it. I hugged Julie again and told her that I had already forgiven her. Told her God had led me through it years ago.
But it was so good to be able to say, I forgive you, right to her - face-to-face and in person. It feels complete. Both of us know now. And I like it this way.

Went to a reunion, wound up at a reconciliation.

God is good, friends. God is good!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

This Week's WORD

And he could bear Israel's misery no longer.
Judges 10:16b

I am half way through the book of Judges right now and have just about had it with the Israelites. After all God did for them in leading them out of Egypt, I do not understand how these people can keep turning away from Him and worshipping other gods. It makes me crazy!
Every time God gets angry and sells them into the hands of their enemies I think, Well, good! They deserve it!
But then they cry out to God and He raises up a judge to save them.
Until they do evil in His sight one more time.
And the cycle continues.
But when I was reading chapter ten, I found a short statement at the end of verse 16 that I simply couldn't get past.

And he could bear Israel's misery no longer.

Really? After all they had done - after all HE had done???
The Israelites deserved every ounce of agony they were facing!
Yet God came to a point where He could bear their misery no longer.

What amount of love God has for His children!!
How amazing is His grace??!!

I hope you can take a minute to dwell with that thought today. May you delight in His love for you.
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pre-reunion Reunion

Well, that was fun!
Tuesday morning there was a message on my Facebook page, inviting me to an impromptu get-together of some high school friends. I saw friends I hadn't seen in 20 years.
I mentioned a couple of months ago about a time when I was seventeen years old and I was out with friends without calling my mom. She was really upset because she didn't know where I was. And God reminded me of that moment - just in time for me to extend grace to Joshua for not calling me when he was at a friend's house. Remember that post?
Well, the friends I was with that night - Mike and Stacy - are with me in the back row of this picture. (And I didn't call my mom to tell her where I was Tuesday, either. But she doesn't worry about my whereabouts anymore. *grin*)
I had a very enjoyable evening seeing old friends Tuesday. Especially Mike - he lives in California now and I did not expect to see him there! And am now sooooo looking forward to my 20th high school class reunion which is coming up Saturday.
Whew! I am not the same person I was 20 years ago. Praying my classmates will see Jesus in me on Saturday!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Balancing Act

My trainer had me try something new. With my feet on the Bosu (essentially a half-ball on a platform) and my arms spread a bit wider than usual, he had me doing push-ups. I asked him what the benefit was for having my feet on the Bosu and learned that it works my balance more. Gary said that eventually he'll turn the Bosu over (So it's on the ball side rather than the platform, and is more wobbly.) and I'll have my hands on balls instead of the floor. That will really challenge my balance.
I kind of groaned when he gave me that news.
And I think he might have laughed.
Honestly, though, for as much as I complain about the torture exercises my trainer puts me through, I am kind of looking forward to this next challenge. I will enjoy saying I conquered it.

At home I have a very different balance exercise, and sometimes it feels a whole lot harder than propping my feet up on the Bosu while my hands are gripping balls.

I am trying so hard to balance being strict and gracious.

We have rules. We have them for good reasons, and my kids need to obey them. And I, as the Mom, am the one on whom the job of enforcing falls. So I ask the kids how long they have been playing on the computer and when their time is up, I tell them to turn it off. They delay and they groan and sometimes they grumble, but I hold them to their limit.
And, oh, do I feel like a meanie. But there are times when rules must be followed.

The kids have jobs. They are a part of this family and therefore need to contribute to the things that get done around here. But sometimes they're outside playing and they're having so much fun. As I listen to the yelling and laughing, and look at the table which needs to be set for dinner, I realize it would be better for me to go ahead and set the table so they can enjoy playing.
And I feel so nice. Yes, the kids have jobs. But there are times when those jobs can be overlooked.

And thus I have a challenge: Learning how to balance 1)holding my kids to the rules we have established as a family, with 2)extending grace and being lenient appropriately. The challenge is increased by the reactions my children give - the complaining on one end of the spectrum and hugs on the other end totally throw off my balance. In one moment I feel like I have parenting figured out and under control. And in another, I get the feeling my kids will never talk to me again.

And while I think I will probably manage balancing push-ups on a Bosu and balls when the time comes, some days I seriously doubt I'll make it through this balancing act I call motherhood.
So, so very thankful for the grace of God. Without Him, I would have no hope!
May you hold tightly to Jesus as you find your balance today.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Remedial Sunday School

It was over fifteen years ago when my husband and I started attending the church where we are now members. And right away we joined the Young Marrieds Sunday school class. Loved that group of people! We learned so much about how to be married, as we shared life and experiences with these twenty-somethings.

Just a couple of years later, it was time for us to move on to the Parents Encouraging Parents class. (a.k.a. PEP! Yeah, cuz we needed extra pep with a new-born in the house!) Now we were with adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s - sharing life as parents. We studied together and prayed together. Laughed and cried together. It was another great group of people, and I was so thankful for the growth and encouragement we experienced.
And when some of them moved on to TAG, that is - Teens Are Great - I thought about the day when it would be time for me to move on again.

But something odd happened.

About five years ago God put a desire in my heart to stop attending adult Sunday school so I could be a teacher for elementary Sunday school. OK, honestly, I argued with Him about the change for a while - because I really loved my friends. But when I made the switch, the joy which filled my heart assured me I was in the right place.
So for the past several years I have been in second and third grade Sunday school, surrounded by seven, eight, and nine year-olds. It's a big change from my days with the adults.

But do you know what I have discovered?

God can speak to me just as clearly through the lessons for the kids as He did through the ones in the classes for adults.
This past weekend as I was preparing for Sunday morning, Matthew wasn't listening to me well. His ADHD was shining through and I was getting frustrated.
Just as I was about to lose it with him I read the key point for the current lesson: LOOK FOR WHAT JESUS SEES. I was getting ready to lead my girls in an exercise about seeing people through Jesus' eyes; about loving those who are sometimes difficult to love.

Aha! Standing right before me was a clear application for the lesson.

I smiled as I thanked God for painting a very clear picture for me. And I chuckled to myself as I considered the many, many times He has spoken to me before through these lessons "for the kids."

And it was then I realized I just may be in remedial Sunday school. I have been in second and third grade for the past five years!
I don't have any sense that I'll be "graduating" any time soon.
And I'm OK with that.
I love being a part of the lives of these precious girls. Love sharing my faith with them, and watching them grow in theirs. And if God knows that some of my best learning comes through elementary school lessons, well, who am I to question that???

How about you? Does God have you on the remedial or advanced track? *grin*

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

This Week's WORD

As for the inhabitants of the mountain regions from Lebanon to Misrephoth Maim, that is, all the Sidonians, I myself will drive them out before the Israelites.
Joshua 13:6

I have been reading this week about the various exploits on which Joshua led the Israelites. Though their enemies were often larger and stronger than they, God instructed them to be strong and courageous. He promised to fight for them - to deliver the enemy into their hands. And when the Israelites did as they were commanded, they always experienced victory. The enemy was defeated. They marched into the cities and totally destroyed everything. Just as the LORD commanded.
For twelve chapters I had been reading about the action of the Israelites under God's command and now in 13:6, suddenly it was God Himself who was going to drive out the enemy.

God, Himself.

And I had to pause and wonder, why? Why was God going to do it Himself this time? Why weren't the Israelites going into battle? Why?
Was it the mountains? Were they too dangerous for battle?
Was it because Joshua was now "old and well advanced in years"? (13:1) Perhaps he didn't have what it takes to lead the Israelites into battle anymore?

I really don't know the answer to the why.
But in my ponderings and questioning I believe God led me to this explanation: Sometimes God calls us to be strong and courageous, to trust in Him as we go forth with Him to face our enemies.
And sometimes - when God knows it is the best thing - He Himself will remove our enemy from before us. He will not call on us to act, simply to trust and believe that He can do it.

Whether God is calling you into action or He Himself is driving your enemies out before you, I pray this day finds you fully trusting in the LORD your God. May His peace rest upon you.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Healing for the Soul

So, I told you I was going to be babysitting one day this week, and that I thought maybe I had found an opportunity to have my soul healed by being with children, right?
I thought watching Matthew with the younger children would bring me joy. I imagined God would lift my spirits as I heard childish laughter. And those things happened.
But I wasn't expecting God to go farther than that.

Note to self: Remember that God is able to do far more than you could ask or imagine. Get into the habit of expecting Him to do greater things.

I was watching my friend's children - a toddler and an infant - and when the infant woke from her nap I needed to give her a bottle. I sat with her on the couch and began feeding her. Just then her big brother started fussing, so I hoisted him up to sit next to me and tried talking with him to get him to calm down.
But that little guy didn't want my words. He had his sights on one thing, only.

His sister's bottle.

I tried giving him his cup of water. No deal.
I rubbed his back and sang to him. He didn't like that.
I reminded him that he wasn't a baby anymore - that he got to drink from a cup like a big kid - and wasn't that cool???!!! If he was able to form the words, I think he would have responded with something like, Yeah, whatever, Mrs. Hossink. Just give me the bottle!
My little friend sat on the couch next to me and just cried and cried while he pointed at his baby sister's bottle. I wished so much there was something I could do to calm him and help him understand. Wished I could figure out a way to get his focus off the baby bottle. And in that moment I realized God was drawing a picture right before my eyes.

How many times have I had my eyes fixed on someone else's something, wanting it so desperately that I was unable to recognize the very good thing of my own, which was sitting right next to me?
How often have I refused to receive God's comfort because I simply didn't think anything else could satisfy me except for that thing I couldn't have?
And could it be that I have sometimes wanted things that just were not appropriate for me? That maybe God didn't give me the thing I wanted so dearly, because He knew better than me?

Sitting on the couch, looking at my frustrated toddler friend - knowing his anger was unnecessary - I was reminded once again that God knows more than me. And I can trust Him.
Seems to me I have two choices. I can focus on the thing I want, crying and fussing because I don't have it. OR I can listen to my Father's voice as He assures me He knows what's best, and I can receive His comfort while my heart learns to trust.

Hmmmm. Thought I was just babysitting. Didn't realize God was going to use a crying toddler to bring healing to my soul!

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Opportunity Found

If you didn't read yesterday's post, you can click here to catch up.

So there I was, feeling overwhelmed and rather distraught. I didn't see what God was trying to say to me with the statement, The soul is healed by being with children. But I wanted to understand, and I asked Him to help me.

Friends, when we ask for God's help - He is faithful to deliver!

I received a message from my blogging/FaceBook buddy, Lisa Shaw, and she reminded me that God would be my strength in the midst of the wait. Oh! I needed that encouragement.
Yes, an opportunity found to trust His strength.

Then I was sitting at my computer trying to get some writing done when two of my children approached me at separate times, with much to say. At first I wanted them to hurry up and finish their stories so I could get back to writing. (Just being honest!)
But then it was as if God said to me, Now, Karen, look at them. Your children love you and they just want to tell you about this thing that has them so excited. Remember when you were a child and you got excited about silly things? Let their joy flow into you. Stop taking life so seriously for a moment, and treasure your child's joy.
An opportunity found to enjoy a smile with my children.

Over the course of the next several hours I was asked to babysit, and to have a few of my sons' friends over in the following days so their moms could get some things done. While my initial reaction was one of, More kids? Really??? God quickly reminded me He would be my strength, and I remembered that my children would love having these other children around.
To be honest, often times I find it easier when there are more kids around, for the simple fact that my children enjoy it. They play new games together. Adventures in fishing and backyard hunting ensue. Matthew, especially, loves having the younger ones around because he is no longer the youngest, and I enjoy watching him shine. Truly, healing can come to my soul when I hear the laughter and see the camaraderie of children playing together.
Oh. Could it be? An opportunity found for my soul to be healed by being with children?

Friends, only God could bring me to that conclusion!

If you're feeling like you are in the middle of a pile of lost opportunities today, I pray God will open your eyes to the opportunities waiting to be found!
And please come back tomorrow. God surprised me with yet another lesson in this saga, and I'll post it Thursday morning.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Opportunity Lost

***Edited to add***
I have become aware that there are a number of people who have concerns with the novel, The Shack. I am citing it in this post to give credit for the quote I read - not because I hold this novel in the same esteem as the Word of God. Don't worry!
I finally had a break in my list of things To Do and told my children I was going into my room to read for a while.
On the surface I was trying to be a good model for them - you know reading a book, rather than spending time in front of the computer or some other electronic device. But the truth is, I needed a reprieve. Just needed to steal away from the noise for a few minutes to lower my blood pressure and anxiety level. And if I happened to set a good example for reading in the process, well, happy day.
So I slipped into my bedroom and flopped down on my bed with a copy of The Shack. And as I opened it up to chapter three, this is the quote I found waiting for me:

The soul is healed by being with children.
- Fyodor Dostoevsky

I did a double-take, and then nearly started to cry.
I thought, God, is this some kind of a joke??? For weeks I have had the ache in my soul to get away and be alone with YOU, without interruption, without being needed by another human being. Being with YOU is the healing I need.
But here is this guy saying it is being with children that heals the soul! O, LORD, I love my children. I would die for them. You know it! Why do I feel such a need to hide from them right now?

Have you been there? Need to get away, but the opportunities seem to be getting away faster than you can catch them?

* You may remember my disappointment a few weeks ago of not getting the retreat I had hoped for.
Opportunity lost.
* For the past four summers I have gone away for a couple of days to a Women of Faith conference. But this year, finances said NO.
Opportunity lost.
* My mother-in-law is taking the kids for a few days at the end of the month, and I thought maybe that could be my opportunity to get away. But my husband and I really need to spend time "alone" together and we are going to visit a bed and breakfast while the kids are with Grandma. I hate to admit that I struggled with wanting to not give up what I was considering another opportunity to be alone.
But to some extent that, too, seemed like another opportunity lost.
(Soooo hoping you won't misread my love and respect for my husband by that last statement.)
* Kathy Troccoli is going to be in concert in Michigan in August and I thought perhaps I could take a day to myself and finish it up at the concert. Granted, August feels like it's a long way off, but I would have something for which to look forward. However, when I checked the calendar I saw that Brian and I already committed to attending a wedding that day.
Opportunity lost, again. *heavy sigh*

So there I sat - fresh out of hope that I am ever going to have an opportunity to get away by myself. Staring at the words, The soul is healed by being with children. Wondering what on earth God was trying to say to my very weary, someone-get-me-out-of-here, I'm-on-the-verge-of-tears soul.

Not that I want to leave you on a low note, but I sat with these feelings for a while, so why shouldn't you??? LOL
I'm bad.
Come back tomorrow and I'll let you in on what I think God was trying to say.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Do Not Be Afraid

When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: "Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."
Deuteronomy 20:1-4

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Friday, July 03, 2009

This Week's WORD

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this...Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.
Deuteronomy 24:18 & 22

These statements both come at the end of Moses' repeated commands to look after the welfare of the alien, the fatherless, and the widow. Maybe it was the explicit instructions, it could have been the repetition, but whatever the reason - I just couldn't get past these verses without giving them more thought.
Perhaps the Israelites looked down upon the alien, the fatherless and the widow. Maybe they thought those unfortunate individuals should simply buck up and figure out a way to take care of themselves. I suppose the Israelites may have considered it enough to have to meet their own needs, so why bother with anyone else?

But Moses told them, "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt."

My paraphrase/amplification: Look, brothers, I remember just as well as you how much you cried and complained when you were in Egypt. "This work is too hard. These Egyptians are mean to us! We can't handle it any longer. Somebody, help us!"
You were alone in the land and without hope.
Does that sound like anyone you know today?
But the LORD your God, He heard your cry. He had mercy on you and with His mighty arm and great acts of judgement. He led you out of that land of slavery. He had mercy on you and cared for you. Do you remember?
Do you???
My brothers, remember from where it is you have come. Remember the mercy and grace which was so freely given to you. Remember!
And with that memory, take care of these who are alone in this land and without hope.

So today I am asking God to help me remember from where it is I have come. I am asking Him to help me remember the mercy and grace He has so generously bestowed upon me. And I am asking Him to use that memory to help me be the best mom I can be today. Will you join me?

May the joy of the LORD fill your soul this weekend. Hope you enjoy some great fireworks!
See you back here Monday!

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Nagging Need for Grace

Matthew had an appointment to which I needed to take him, and ten minutes before it was time to leave I told him we would be going soon.
About five minutes later he was still shoe-less, and I told him to get ready to go.
When I was ready to walk out the door he was still shoe-less, so I told him to grab his shoes and get into the van.
Once in the van I told Matthew to get buckled and then put his shoes on.
When we arrived at his appointment I said, "Here we are!" and got out of the van.
Matthew didn't open his door.
I looked in and saw him scrambling to get his shoes on.
And Matthew looked at me with that silly little grin he wears so often. The one that says, Oh, yeah. You told me to do this already, didn't you? A few times. Oops.
This is life with my little ADHD guy. I have stopped counting how many times it takes me asking him to do something until it is finally accomplished. Many, many times we have had conversations about his need to do the thing I ask right away. We even have a phrase to help - Obediently immediately.
I have explained to him that since he has a hard time paying attention, he needs to respond obediently right away, or else he will forget to do the thing he is supposed to do. We have talked about the fact that he has to work harder to pay attention and follow through on the tasks required of him, but that he can do it.

I know he can.

I've seen him do it.

And it drives me crazy when he doesn't.

But as I stood outside the van looking at that silly grin - contemplating another lecture on responding obediently immediately - for a moment I allowed fear for Matthew's future to whisper despairing thoughts into my ear. I wondered how he is going to make it as an adult in a world where you need to pay attention and follow through on jobs. I feared for his success in school and the work-place. I couldn't imagine how I am going to be able to get him through these challenges.

And that's when it hit me.
It isn't up to me to get him through these challenges. Nagging and fine sounding arguments are not going to motivate my son to do what he needs to do. God has created Matthew for a purpose, and HE is the One who is going to get him through.

So I prayed.

While my little guy scrambled to fasten his sandals, I prayed that God would create in him the desire to work through his challenges. I asked God to motivate him. I asked Him to work out in Matthew the purpose for which my son was created.
I asked God to grow my patience level.
*Oh, how I need that!*

And as I stood there waiting I remembered, the grace of God will take Matthew and I much farther than nagging ever could!

For what do you need to trust in His grace today?

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Gone Fishing

I know I have told you about Joshua's love for bugs, but have I ever told you he's quite a fisherman, too?
Well, he is.
And he needed me to capture him on film, catching a fish. For Boy Scouts.
So the other day we went over to a pond near our house which Joshua loves to frequent with his fishing pole, and he was going to show me how it's done. Yep, he was sure that within five minutes he would have caught a nice bass and I could snap the picture he needed to prove that he can fish.
The first item of business was to catch a bluegill to use for bait to catch the bass. So he put a worm on the hook and cast his line.
(It had only been about a minute, but that was apparently more time than Joshua thought it ought to take to catch his bait.)
So he moved around the corner and cast again and, Whamo! just like that he had his bluegill.

I won't describe how Joshua proceeded to turn that little bluegill into bait, but I will admit to watching the whole process. (YUCK!!!) Although I was grossed out by what I saw, I must admit I was impressed by his skill and apparent knowledge of the ways of fishing.

Then it was time to pursue the Bass.

But for some reason, that Bass wasn't biting. We had moved to the appropriate Bass-catching spot of the pond. This was right where he had caught them repeatedly every other time he'd gone fishing. Joshua just couldn't understand what was the problem. Several times he mumbled about how he always catches them so quickly every other time he comes fishing, and now that I was there to take a picture he just couldn't get one.
Finally he said, "Mom, can you just go stand over there please?" And he pointed to the other dock.
I chuckled to myself as I walked a distance away, I know this won't be the last time he wants me to step aside. Not only is he needing me less, but apparently I also scare the fish away. *grin*
So I stood on the other dock, and I continued to pray - as I had been since we arrived - that God would put a nice fish on the end of Joshua's line. (Remember, he may not NEED me, but I can still pray!)
And he began to get some nibbles.
But whenever he pulled up on the line, the fish would let go and the hook remained empty.
Until finally, after I am certain Joshua's patience had been tested to its fullest for the day, he reeled in this guy!
Joshua promptly returned Mr. Fish to the water after our photo shoot, and we were on our way home. I - with the proof that Joshua can fish, and Joshua - with a certain spring in his step that I am certain came from his pride in showing Mom that he knows how to catch a Bass.

It's moments like these that get me through the struggles. So thankful that God gives me glimpses into the boy-ish joys of fishing which make my son so happy.

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