Friday, April 30, 2010

Take Two

OK. I had this fun little post all written and ready to go for you Friday morning. A nice, hopeful, upbeat rendition of what's been going on this week.
Then Thursday happened.
And I couldn't let the original post run.
Because it just wasn't in line with how I'm feeling right now. And because I want to give you the REAL me when I write. Maybe someone else is feeling the way I'm feeling today, and maybe God will use my 'yuck' for His glory. Maybe He'll use it to encourage one of you in the midst of your yuck.

I hope so.

See, I started a part-time job this week - working as a cashier in the pharmacy at Meijer.
My co-workers are wonderful people. They're gracious and kind.
I have had neat opportunities to be the love of God to customers. And that has brought joy to my heart.

BUT (And this would be one time when I am not a fan of the big BUT.)

I am absolutely overwhelmed.
There is so much I have yet to learn in the pharmacy, and I do not feel like I am making a positive contribution to the team. I feel like I'm asking too many questions. There are too many times when I don't have the answers someone needs, and I don't like being in that position. I want to be helpful, but I feel like I need way more help than I can give.
So I left work Thursday questioning my worth as an employee, and came home to feel like a horrible mom. The un-done homework, the realization of other work that needed to be completed, the mess in the kitchen, all the 'stuff' of life that wasn't being accomplished made me want to run and hide. Made me think there isn't enough of me to be both an employee and a mom.

Because at the moment, I felt like I was failing at both.

And the *funny* thing is, I'm giving a talk Saturday for a Mother's Day luncheon about the feeding of the five thousand. I'm going to be talking to these women about the truth that our 'impossible' situations are possible - with Jesus. The devotion I have recorded for next Monday comes from this passage, too. It's about how Jesus can make us enough.
And maybe that's why I'm feeling so bad right now.
Because I know what's True.
I know I cannot do this stuff on my own.
I know I need to depend on God - that He is faithful, and He will carry me through this circumstance.
I know Jesus will make me enough.

I know it!

And I guess because I know these things are True, I feel a little foolish for being overwhelmed. Like, if I really had a firm grasp on the goodness and faithfulness of God, I wouldn't let my circumstance bring me down.
Yeah. I guess that's how I'm feeling.

Well, I don't have to work Friday. So I'm thinking God and I are going to be having a good 'sit-down' and we'll work through these feelings of mine.
He'll remind me of His love and faithfulness.
He will assure me of His goodness and presence.
He'll repeat to me His promise to carry me.
He will cause me to remember that His grace is enough.
(He's so predictable. I love that!)
And I will have faith that all is well - because of who HE is.

*Whew* Thanks for listening.

Love to you,


Thursday, April 29, 2010

She Should Get a Free Session for This

My husband was training one of his elderly clients the other day, when they got into a conversation about our son, Joshua.
Brian was telling this woman about our struggle with Joshua - regarding his tendency to lash out at us and argue.about.every.thing. And his ability to control that temper when he is with other adults. (Teachers, coaches, etc.) It has been a mystery to us. How can the same kid be so difficult with us, but so self-controlled with others?
With all the wisdom which comes from her age, this woman looked at Brian and said, "Of course he goes off on you. He knows he's safe with you. You love him and you'll never leave him. So he feels safe working out his issues with you."

Is that statement as profound to you as it is to me???

My son is secure in my love (Even though he sometimes accuses me of not loving him...) so he feels safe going off on me. Because he knows I won't reject him.
Wow. In a really weird way, that makes me feel so good!

And I'm thinking this lady should get a free training session for this wisdom shared! *grin*


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Piece of Quiet

In light of what I wrote about yesterday, I thought today it would be appropriate for me to share a quiet moment I had last week.

It had been an OK day, but a very stress-full evening.
*Gathered the kids together after school to run up to church to take pictures for the new directory.
*Rushed home to get dinner ready - to get Matthew to soccer practice on time - which he ended up skipping because he 'didn't feel well.' (There was a BIG scene involved in that one. *sigh*)
*Tried to support Brian as he dealt with an angry Joshua.
*Took Elizabeth to the store so she could spend her gift card. (She is very particular, and though I tried to be patient - wow! - was that ever a loooong shopping trip.)
*Turned my phone on to find out what time it was (And maybe encourage Elizabeth to make a buying decision. *sheepish grin*) and found out I had a voice mail. From the secretary at school. Telling me I needed to make some phone calls to round up help for an activity at school. But I didn't want another 'thing' added to my To Do list!
*Finally made it home after a stop at one more store, and went downstairs to read to Elizabeth while she took her shower. (Because she asked the right question.) But she wasn't ready yet.
So I slipped my hand in my pocket and felt a piece of paper there. I took it out and read:

The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

And I sat down on the steps, leaned against the wall, and let my tears flow as I responded to that verse. I prayed, Lord, I KNOW You are with me, and You are mighty to save. Please take delight in me. Please quiet me with Your love. Please rejoice over me with singing!

And for just a moment, I had a piece of quiet.

I sat and let my Father hold me.

And when I heard, "Mom! I'm ready!" I stood up and went in to read to my daughter. Knowing God was with me, and trusting Him to quiet my anxious heart with His love.


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Let's Put an End to 'Quiet Times'

Ah, did I grab your attention?

Are you a little concerned for my relationship with God, based on the title of this post?
Thanks. You're a good friend.
But there is no need to be concerned.

It's just that recently I have been having more conversations with moms, and I am convinced that mothers of young children just can't have 'Quiet Times.' Unless they get up really early, and then they're prone to being grumpy all day. And what good is that?
Anyway, early rising doesn't always mean quiet and uninterrupted time.
Mommy? Is that you? Can I get up now, too?

Been there?

I listened to a very discouraged friend bemoaning her lack of quiet times the other day. But we talked about the fact that God loves us and can speak to us - even when our surroundings are noisy. We can enjoy His presence - even in the midst of chaos. We can hide His Word in our heart (or our pocket!) and meditate on it anytime.
It doesn't need to be quiet, and we don't need to be sitting alone on the couch in order for our time with God to be meaningful.

And that's when I decided I wanted to encourage moms to quit having 'Quiet Times.'

Let's call it 'Fellowship with God' and let's do it all day long!

When the baby is crying, when the dog is barking, when the kids are arguing, when the dishes need washing and the floor needs sweeping - in every moment of every day, whether we can hear the crickets chirping, or not, let's enjoy the presence of our heavenly Father. Let's seek to hear His voice through the noise, and let's allow Him to love us wherever we may be.

Having said that, I must also say that I understand the very real need for times of silence and solitude. (And I don't mean only when you're sleeping!) God often tells us to be quiet and rest in Him. Because He knows we need it.
BUT, if you are in a season when the majority of your time is noisy I want you to be encouraged to know your fellowship with God does not need to come to an end. He has not changed. He is still good. And He is still present.
May you find hope in these truths today.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

No Humans Were Hurt...

in the taking of these pictures.

Recently, when both Brian and I were out of the house, our kids got online and found a recipe for fake blood.

They made it.

And it looked real.

So they let their imaginations go, and staged some 'scary' scenes.

And they were so proud of their work, they took pictures!

And even though it's kind of gross, I can't resist sharing their, uh, creativity with you.
Just remember, No humans were hurt in the taking of these pictures.
(But I can't seem to find my corn syrup. And my red food coloring is mysteriously low...)

Oh, yes. My children are so creative. *sigh*


Thursday, April 22, 2010

You've Got to Ask the Right Question

I am trying to teach my children to ask the right question.
Because, you see, I am selfish. And if they don't learn to ask the right question, they're never going to like the answer they receive.

Let's see if you get what I'm saying.

If you were - oh, my son - and you wanted me to go outside with you and throw the football around (Even though I might, uh, break a nail!), should you ask:
Mom, do you want to play football with me?
Mom, will you play football with me?

OR, if you were my daughter and it was time for you to do the dishes, and you wanted me to read to you while you were doing your chores (Even though I had just spent enough time in the kitchen making dinner.), should you ask:
Mom, do you want to read to me?
Mom, will you read to me?

Do you see the difference?
Do you understand why it's important for my children to ask the right question?

If they ask me a question which begins, "Do you want to...?" chances are the answer is going to be, "No."
Because I am selfish.
And if someone is asking me to do something that wasn't my idea, and isn't centered around me and my comfort, I probably don't really want to do it.
Just bein' honest! *grin*

BUT, God is refining me. He is teaching me to say NO to my selfish desires. (Doesn't mean the selfish desires are gone. Just that He's helping me to say NO to them.)
Therefore, if my children learn to ask the right question, (i.e. "Will you...?" rather than, "Do you want to...?") there is a much greater likelihood that my response will be, "Yes."

Soooo, until my little darlings 'get it,' I'll keep following up their Do-you-want-to?s with, "Honey, you've got to ask the right question."

And, actually, I'm kinda wondering if there might come a day somewhere in this refining process when I'll be able to answer even the Do-you-want-to?s with a YES.
Now, that would be truly amazing. Don't you think?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why I Shouldn't Play* Football

Darn it! I broke a nail when I (tried to) catch that ball!

Why I Should Play* Football

Because connecting with my son is so much more important than a perfect manicure.

Know what I mean?


* And by 'play,' of course I mean throw the ball, and attempt to catch it. No tackling involved.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Please Visit Me at SHE Blogs

Have you ever felt certain that God was leading you the long way around on a journey? I hope it will encourage you to know He's been going the long way for thousands of years.

To read the rest, please click here to visit SHE Blogs - my church's new blog for women.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

This Week's WORD

"Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everthing new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

Revelation 21:3-5

I finished my read-thru-the-Bible-in-one-year program this week. And guess what?
Jesus wins!
WE win!!!

Looking forward to Eternity,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

I Found This...

...among papers which have been stored in the front part of my Bible.

A note from Elizabeth, written in 2003 when I was in the hospital for brain surgery. She was only in the first grade. (Hence, the spelling. *grin*)

Dear mom, I love you.
I mised you. You are my sunshine. You are the best mom. I hav had a good time. it is difrint with Dad.

What a precious memory - of a daughter's love, and God's faithfulness through a difficult time for us. I put that note right back where I found it, and will always keep it there. As a "stone of remembrance."

Do you have any tokens which remind you of God's faithfulness?

P.S. I'm back from Florida now. Had a great time! And I'll start responding to you in the comment section again, now that I'm home. *grin*


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Thankful Heart

When was the last time God spoke to you through a toddler?

For me, it was just a few days ago.

I was at my friend's house and she had just seated her son at the table with his snack. A very nice bowl full of grapes and strawberries.
With that, she and I sat down on the couch to talk. We hadn't been talking for more than a few minutes when Caleb dropped a grape on the floor and became quite distressed. "Can't eat it. Can't eat it," he kept saying. But Amber encouraged him to choose another one from the bowl to eat.
Which he did.
Then he dropped a strawberry. And became a little more distressed. (Can't blame him, really. I mean, it was a strawberry.)
Amber and I looked at each other and sighed. She told me it is not uncommon for Caleb to get upset about dropping food on the floor and not being able to eat it. But she and I both knew there was a bowl full of perfectly good grapes and strawberries sitting right in front of him. She and I both knew it was silly for him to get so upset about the two pieces that had fallen to the floor. And we both looked at that distressed little boy and wished he would understand the wisdom our years have earned us.

And that is when God spoke to my heart through a toddler.

I looked at Amber and said, "I wonder how many times God looks at us the same way we're looking at Caleb right now. Wonder how many times we're distressed about something we can't have and God knows all we need is sitting right in front of us. I imagine sometimes He would like to say to us, Honey, don't worry about what you don't have. Look at what you DO have."
And the two of us proceeded to have a great conversation about having thankful hearts, and trusting God.

What's sitting right in front of you today, for which you can give thanks to God?


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reflecting on God's Faithfulness

Today I am on my way to Florida. Will be speaking for a MOPS group in Bradenton tonight. And I am so looking forward to it!
But besides giving me the joy of sharing hope with other moms, this trip is also giving me the opportunity to reflect on God's faithfulness. You see, Jill - the coordinator of the MOPS group for whom I am speaking tonight - was the first person who ever invited me to speak outside of Michigan.
Three years ago she was the coordinator for a different MOPS group, in a different part of Florida, and through God's handiwork she found me. Also through His handiwork, the way was made for me to fly to Florida to speak. And I remember being on that airplane and praying, God, is this a new thing You're doing? Are You going to start taking me to farther places to speak?
Honestly, my initial 'plan' was nothing more than to share my story with the MOPS group at my home church.

But God had something else in mind.

And now, as I prepare to see Jill again, and as I reflect on all God has done between that first trip to Florida and today - I simply must give Him praise. God has been so faithful! He led me where I did not know I was going. He has perfect plans, and He will carry them out.

My friend, the same is true for you. Although you may have no idea the road down which God will take you, though you may not understand the plans He has for you, and even if you don't think you have what it takes to carry out His purposes - please be assured: God is perfectly faithful. He will lead you. He will make the way clear. God will do what is necessary to accomplish in and through you exactly what He wants to do. You can trust Him!

Will you?


Friday, April 09, 2010

This Week's WORD

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

Yes. May it be so!
Have a wonderful weekend. I'll see you back here Monday!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

When He's Sleepy

So, I told you Monday a little more about the struggle I have with Joshua. Some days are really rough!
But a few days ago, after we had gone through some very trying moments and it was almost time for bed, I received a gift.
And a dose of hope.
Joshua wanted to go straight to bed, rather than wait for Elizabeth and Matthew to be ready for our family prayer time. But I asked him to stay. Told him he could lay on the couch for a few minutes.
As he did, I walked over to him, sat down, and started scratching his back. Then I rubbed his shoulders and arms. Ran my fingers through his hair and massaged his scalp. And while I was touching Joshua, I was also praying for him.

It was amazing.
This child - who was so upset with me earlier in the evening that he wouldn't even look at me, let alone allow me to hug him - was now like puddy in my hands.
And I was loving every minute of it.

Yes. Sometimes tempers flare and feelings get hurt.
But when he's sleepy, when he doesn't have the energy to argue with me, when he's too tired to push me away, I will grab the opportunity to pour my love out on him.
And even though he's only half-awake, I pray he'll remember these moments fondly.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Can You Relate to This?

Saw this on my friend's Facebook status the other day, and I'm wondering: Have you been there, too?

(Karen Hossink) frequently needs God to wrap His arm around her shoulder and put His hand over her mouth!


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Category of the Month - Motherhood Encouragement

It's a new month! Time to feature a new category in this little blog o' mine.
And for April I am choosing Motherhood Encouragement. Because I think we all need it!
So, please enjoy this entry from May 5, 2007. And feel free to click on the category link in the side bar to read more Motherhood Encouragements.

Out of the Overflow of the Heart, the Fingers Type

Starting with the lesson I learned earlier this week, and combining with a few other thoughts going on in this head of mine, I've been a lot more intentional about the way I'm responding to my kids lately.
I don't want to waste a precious moment.
Last night was movie night at our house and I sat on the couch with the boys. There were a few "scary" parts and I loved having them snuggle up closer to me. Towards the end I was quite tired, so I decided to lay down. Joshua let me put my feet on his lap, and Matthew climbed on top of me. I kind of dozed in and out, but I think the movie ended with all the problems being resolved. Just as we expected.
After the movie, Elizabeth wanted to play a new board game she received as a birthday gift. I was nearly asleep, so I planned to stay on the couch while Brian and the kids played the game.
But as I lay there, I started thinking. Am I wasting this opportunity? Why should I lay here and listen to them play? I don't want to miss these chances and regret it later. So I got up and asked if it was too late for me to join in. Of course, they welcomed me! I sat with Matthew on my lap and we played Herd Your Horses until 10:00 when it was time for everyone to go to bed.
By this time, I was really tired. The boys wanted their bedtime song sung to them, so I did that. And I tried to cherish the moment. Then I went in to say goodnight to Elizabeth and she wanted to finish a game we'd started earlier in the afternoon. I started to protest, "Honey,I'm really tired." But she looked at me (her eyes are irresistible) and I thought about what really matters, and I sat down to finish the game. (It didn't even take that long. Don't know why I felt the need to protest.) Then I kissed her and said goodnight.
And I actually slept well, and the kids were quiet when they got up this morning! That was nice.
That lesson from earlier this week, Heather, Annie, my thoughts - all are reminding me I want to live my days with purpose. I want to love my kids, and make sure they know it. I don't want to waste a moment.
So, that's on my heart today. Thanks for letting me share.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Friday, April 02, 2010

Our Journey with Jesus: Good Friday

It's Good Friday.
Today we're remembering Jesus' death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
O, praise Him!
Let's pause again and reflect on what God has done for us. We could not atone for our sin. Only the blood of Jesus could do that for us.
He was willing.
Jesus laid down His life for you and me.
And we are washed white as snow. Only by the blood of Jesus.

BUT, the crucifixion is not the end of the story.

He is Risen, friends. He is Risen, indeed!

May the JOY of the risen Lord fill you as you celebrate Resurrection Sunday!
Have a blessed weekend. I'll see you back here Monday.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

Our Journey with Jesus: He Found Me

I hope you have been sensing God's presence with you this week as we are taking this journey together. I pray God is drawing you closer to Himself as we consider who we are and what He has done for us through Jesus.

And Isaiah boldly says,

"I was found by those who did not seek me;
I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."

Romans 10:20

As I was reading through the book of Romans, this verse in chapter 10 captured me, and I want to stop here on our journey and discuss it with you for a minute, or two.
This verse captured me, because it describes me so accurately. I grew up going to church and I thought I was a Christian because of my religious activity. I had no idea I needed to have a personal relationship with God. Didn't know I needed to respond to what Jesus did on the cross for me!

I was neither seeking God, nor asking for Him.

I just assumed everything was fine.

BUT, when I was a freshman in college God boldly and gently (Yes, He can be both of those things at the same time!) revealed Himself to me. I understood my need for a Savior, and I entered into a relationship with God through Jesus.
And this verse in Romans 10 gave me pause to reflect on the wonder that I had nothing to do with my salvation.

I didn't earn it. Only Jesus could do that!

And I didn't pursue it. He found me!

So my question for the journey today is this: If you are in a personal relationship with God right now, how did that relationship come about? What are the things God did, the events and people He brought into your life, as He pursued you? Please take some time to reflect on these thoughts, and then give thanks to God for His love and goodness toward you.
Even if you have yet to begin that relationship, can you see how He has been pursuing you? I cannot find the words to describe how very much God loves you. But I know He does! Please spend some time - even now - thinking about Jesus' love for you. Ask God to speak to your heart and to help you understand His love.

And let's meet back here tomorrow for one more stop on this journey.