Thursday, April 30, 2015

MacBeth, a la Josh and Will

In the mood for a little Shakespeare?

My son recently had a school assignment which involved creating his own rendition of MacBeth. While neither Josh, nor his friend, was very excited about the assignment they sure had fun pulling it off. And I'm thinking once again that something in the film production industry might be in my son's future.

Roll it!

P.S. The item burning a the end was the script Will and Josh had written. A celebration of sorts to be finished with the assignment.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

There is No Power in Prayer

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

It was my junior year in college (Or senior year, maybe. What's twelve months between friends?) and I was at a weekend conference about prayer when the speaker took to the mic and proclaimed, "There is no power in prayer."
And I'm all, Excuse me? Who are you, and what are you saying? Have you hijacked this conference to bring us some heretical teaching? Quick! Someone get the Theology Police!!!
But before anyone had a chance to start throwing things at the platform, and now that he had our attention (BTW,as a speaker, I really admire his clever introduction.) he made his point.
The power exists in and flows from GOD.
And prayer is our vehicle to access that power.
Admittedly, I don't remember the specifics of his teaching that weekend (*ahem* It was 23 or 24 years ago.) but I have never forgotten that statement. And as my faith and prayer-life have grown, so has my confidence that the power is in my All-knowing, All-seeing, All-loving, Completely-able GOD.
I think it is because of this confidence in what God can do, that so I love praying.

The thing is, I am not very eloquent with my words. Sometimes I forget that a person has asked me to pray for a particular thing. (Until God graciously reminds me with a prayer cue.) And occasionally I get discouraged because of my inadequacies. That is, I begin to feel like I'm letting someone down because my prayers aren't good enough.
Which is usually just about the time God's Spirit swoops in to save the day, by reminding me there is no power in my prayers. The power exists in and flows from GOD.
*It isn't up to me to say the right thing at the right time.
*I don't need to come up with the perfect suggestion for how God is to resolve a particular issue.
(I remind myself of this fact when I start listing ideas for Him. *ahem*)
*AND, I get no credit for the good things which occur in this world as a result of my prayers.

Please know, I am NOT saying prayer is ineffective, or insignificant, or a waste of our time. If anything sounding like that ever appears on this blog, please alert the authorities - because either I have gone crazy and need to be hospitalized, or someone has kidnapped me and taken over my blog.
What I am saying is the power is God's and all the glory goes to Him. God sees each of us in our individual circumstances, even while He sees the whole world and knows what is happening everywhere. In His perfect knowledge, God sees what is needed in each situation and, in His unhindered ability, God works out His plan.
And for some reason, in the midst of all He does, God makes Himself available to us - so we can talk to Him, and pour our hearts out to Him, and lay our concerns at His feet. Then we get to watch in wonder as God infuses His power into a circumstance and brings good from bad, replaces despair with hope, frees the captive, and breathes life into dead places.
Not because of our carefully crafted petitions, but because He cares.
So, let us not think of ourselves - the pray-ers - as remarkable, or worthy of thanks and praise. Rather, let us give our adoration to the One who moves, who answers, who is the Power and Source of all good things.
With that heart attitude I pray, and I look forward to seeing how God will act on behalf of Saeed, Julie's parents, Bo, Stacy's friend, Jennifer's friend, Chera, Angela, Edie, Elizabeth, Nick, Ryzen, the Shephard family, the Reeds, Kaira, Kim and Glenn, Amy, the country of Nepal, the city of Baltimore, Kimberly, my grandmother, and this broken world which needs Him so desperately.

The need is great, but HE is greater.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015


My tongue hurts.

I overheard a conversation between Josh and Brian last weekend.
They were discussing car payments.
That is, Brian was reminding Josh that it had just been payday and he was expecting Josh to make a payment on his Jeep. Which led to a I-thought-we-were-on-a-monthly-payment-plan versus you-said-you-wanted-to-make-payments-each-payday dialogue.
Which is totally true. Brian originally said he wanted Josh to make payments monthly (less accounting work that way) but for some reason Josh thought it would be better/easier/something to make smaller payments with each pay check.
So, anyway, I'm listening to them going back and forth on the topic. And Josh finally made the deciding statement. Payments will be made monthly because, "Since I have to go to the ATM to get the cash out to pay you, it's just more convenient to only do it once a month."

There I am in the other room, hearing my son say things which show evidence that he is coming to value time management. Things which make me think he might be beginning to understand why I won't drop everything and run when he wants me to go to the store and get something 'just because'. Things which reinforce my belief that my son is becoming a mother.
And I'm about to yell, "See? That's what I've been trying to say all these years. Every time you have wanted me to go do this, or go get that, when I was just out getting the other thing - or was planning to get it the next day - and you threw a fit because you wanted it NOW. And you couldn't understand why I was saying no, and you thought I was just being mean, and you got really mad at me. But now you're getting it. Now you're seeing things like I do. Sometimes it's just more convenient to get things done in one trip. See? I told you so!"
But I knew it wouldn't be helpful to let that little rant come out of my mouth. So I bit my tongue.
And now it hurts.


Friday, April 24, 2015

This Week with Grandma

...has been a little rough.

My dear grandmother just hasn't been feeling well. She said to me Thursday morning, when I asked how she was feeling, "I'm tired of saying I don't feel well." And she is tired.
*Tired of feeling yucky.
*Tired of her aching legs.
*Tired of not being able to hear well.
*Tired of her hearing aids not working all the time. (Or is it her ears? Not sure. Will be getting her hearing re-checked when the weather warms up.)
*Tired of not sleeping restfully.
Just plain tired.

So today, rather than sharing a cute anecdote about life with Grandma, I'm going to ask you to pray for her. Will you ask God to bring peace and joy to her heart, even as you ask Him to bring her physical relief?
Thanks, dear friends. I appreciate it more than you realize.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

"Empty" is the New "Still Some Left"

We've all heard that brown is the new black, and 40 is the new 30, but did you also know empty is the new still some left?
At least it is according to my boys.

Sunday night I was presented with an urgent request to go to the store and buy more shampoo. The boys' bottle was empty, you see. And since the last person to get a bottle of shampoo from the closet in the hallway didn't write on the grocery list that we needed more shampoo, there was no back-up supply. (The grocery list which, by the way, I keep on the refrigerator so it is easily accessible for everyone in the family; which my family members know I use every.single.week. to plan my grocery run; and upon which I have repeatedly instructed my dear family members to write the names of items which need to be replaced - so we're I'm never in the position of making emergency runs to the store. ***cue:end of rant)
Fortunately (for them), I had another reason to go to the store Sunday night and now - since I had TWO reasons to go - I went.
In a perfect world, that would be the end of the story.

I don't live in a perfect world.

In my world, this is what happened: Monday morning I was walking through the boys' bathroom to get to the laundry room and I thought, I'll just grab the bottle of shampoo which was hijacked borrowed from my bathroom by the son who discovered his empty shampoo bottle Sunday morning. So I whipped open the shower curtain and grabbed my shampoo bottle. And as I did, I noticed something peculiar. There was another shampoo bottle on the floor which still had some shampoo in it. Granted, it wasn't much, but there was still some left.
So I took the two shampoo bottles upstairs with me and put them in my shower. Only, I stored the "still some left" bottle properly, so as to be able to utilize all the shampoo stored in said bottle.

I washed my hair for two days with the shampoo left in that "empty" bottle.

And since I noticed one of the boys had gotten a new bottle of dish washing detergent out, I went ahead and did what should be done to "empty" bottles of liquid dish detergent before they're thrown into the recycling bin.
You know, because I'm still operating in the days when we called it "still some left".


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Even This

My heart is heavy as I write this post.

Because I received some very sad news about someone I love.
And I don't know what the future holds for her.
And even though it might, maybe, could possibly be resolved and work out in the end, well - it might not.
Which makes me very sad.

The thing is, I know this situation is not a surprise to God. He has known for all of eternity that it was going to happen. And I realize it may very well be part of His perfect plan. Oh, how I hope HE is at the center of this circumstance! Because I believe God can use every single situation - even the painful ones - for our good, and His glory.
But my loved one doesn't believe like I do. In fact, she doesn't think God listens, or hears, or acts on our behalf. Truthfully, I'm not sure she even believes He exists.
Which makes me very, very sad.
So I'm doing the only thing I know to do. I am falling to my knees, begging God to use even this.
I am asking the Lord of the universe to once again work good out of an awful situation. I am asking Him to bring people from darkness into the Light, to heal the wounds, to restore what has been lost and mend what has been broken. And as He does all that, I am asking Him to open the eyes of those who are lost so they may see and believe. Yes, LORD, please use even this!

Do you know someone with an "even this" circumstance?
Please join me before our Father's throne.
I know He loves the ones we love. I know He will hear us. And I know He has the power to move.

Praise the Name of the LORD!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What's for Lunch?

I've mentioned before that one of the things I am loving about being a stay-at-home-mom again is that I can do more for my family. And I really do mean it!
However, I am not sure my son got the memo.
Seems to me, he thought there needed to be some added incentive for me to do nice things.

This is how it happened:

Because there almost always seems to be a battle for left-overs between the two oldest males in this home, I decided to make a couple meals to divide up and put in the freezer. That way, a satisfactory lunch would be easily available and the battles could cease. So I made a pan of lasagna and a double-batch of bean burritos. Twenty-one lunches, right there!
I knew my son was pleased with this arrangement, and I fully intended to keep it going. But one evening he laid a story on me which pretty much clinched that I would be making more lunches. He said his friends at school were admiring his lunches. They wanted to know where he was getting them. And when he told them his mom made them for him for lunch, they all said they wished "their moms" would do the same. And in my head I'm all, Oh, that's so sweet. Of course I'll keep doing this! Especially now that I have a reputation to uphold. *wink* But what came out of my mouth was, "Are you almost out of lunches? Need me to make more? Is that what this is all about?"
It was.
So I made more.
And then at the end of last week he told me with a smile, "Guess what? Today someone asked me if my lunch was from a restaurant."
I checked the freezer and, sure enough, lunches were low. So this weekend I made a double-batch of bean burritos, and froze a couple pieces of the lasagna I made for dinner Saturday night.

Yep, good intentions get me started.
But compliments keep me going. *wink*


Monday, April 20, 2015

Who Am I?

Did you miss the rant post last week about the "God won't give you more than you can handle" (mis)statement? Here it is!


Friday, April 17, 2015

This Week with Grandma

I had a full house Tuesday evening.
My parents just got back to Michigan after spending the winter down south (Thanksgiving was the last time I saw them.), so Tuesday I had the gang over for dinner. Mom and Dad, my aunt (Dad's sister) and my big brother all came over. Of course, Grandma (Dad's mom) was already here. We put an extra leaf in the table to accommodate, and were ready for what I was hoping would be a good time.
See, my family of origin has some issues. (Who doesn't???) There are struggles in relationships. We have wounds, and experience brokenness just like everyone else. And I was very aware of the potential for tension in the air Tuesday.

But can I tell you?

We had!

Now, it could be the Reconsilosec I slipped into the baked beans (I jest!), but I think it's more likely we were all just sincerely happy to see each other. We caught up, and remembered when, and wondered about the future. And laughed. Lots and lots of laughter!
Grandma had to excuse herself from the table and go lay down - because she was worn out from all the laughing. And when it was time to say good-night, everyone took a turn in her bedroom and bid her farewell. The personal attention really blessed her. (I know, because I heard her telling a friend about it on the phone the next day.)
This isn't to say our family quirks and relationship wounds have all been laid aside. Sometimes I'm afraid that'll never happen.
But it is to say, I'm glad I took the risk. I'm glad we got together and took time to love and laugh. I'm glad the fear of what-might-have-been didn't win. And I look forward to doing it again.

And now I want to turn it over to you.
Has your family got "issues," too? And do those issues sometimes get in the way of getting everyone together? Take it from Grandma and me - the love of family is worth it. Go ahead and give it a try!
(And if you need a great recipe for burgers to serve everyone, let me know. Mine were a huge hit! *wink*)


Thursday, April 16, 2015

I Think My Son is Becoming a Mother

OK, relax.
I am NOT talking about the kind of becoming like a certain Olympian from the 70s, whose "becoming" has been all over the news lately. (I get updates when standing in line at the grocery store. *ahem*)

What I'm talking about is this: Lately my son has been saying things - expressing frustration about certain situations - which has me thinking he gets me.
For example, he said to me a few nights ago, "It drives me crazy when people don't listen to what I say." He went on to describe a situation at work when he had to enforce some park rules, but the subjects of the enforcement didn't want to comply. Instead, they argued with my son. Tried bargaining with him. Ignored his words. But after several minutes of my son being as polite as possible and explaining the rules (while also trying to hide his frustration) they finally gave in.
As he relayed the story, I could feel his angst in the moment and I nearly bit my tongue to keep myself from saying something like, "Yeah. Now you know how I feel every time you don't listen to me."
And the next day he came home with another story. For a time, he was the only employee on duty at the park - which left him covering a lot of bases on his own. Manning the parking booth, responding to complaints, enforcing rules - he felt like he was being pulled in so many directions. How is one person supposed to handle all this??? And I'm all, Yeah. Welcome to what it's like being a mom. (In my head, of course. I didn't say that out loud. *wink*)

So, you see, I really think my son is becoming a mom. He has to enforce rules and deal with people who don't want to obey them. And he has to deal with them kindly. Sometimes he has to handle multiple responsibilities which have him running in opposite directions, and leave him feeling like he can't handle it all. His work is occasionally frustrating, and yet he loves what he does. At the end of the day he comes home worn out, full of stories (happy ones and frustrating ones), looking for food, ready for a break, and anticipating the fun he'll have the next time he clocks in. He soooooo gets me!

I love my son's job. *grin*


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

God Won't Give Me What???

Lately I have read several blog posts (here's one) about non-biblical statements which are believed by a lot of Christians. Statements like, "God helps those who help themselves," or, "Cleanliness is next to godliness," or, "God wants me to be happy," or - the one that really gets my goat - "God won't give you more than you can handle." *scream*
I will freely admit, those words have passed over my lips before.
Many times.
Before my misunderstanding was corrected.
And now that I understand its falsehood, that statement makes me sad every time I hear it.

Here's why:

The first reason is because it isn't a biblical statement. Rather, it is a misrepresentation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 where the thing Paul says God won't allow us to be overcome by is temptation to sin - not hardship. In fact, if you read the Bible you'll find lots of examples of times when God allowed people to face more than they could bear. Think about the Israelites at the Red Sea, Daniel in the lion's den, David and Goliath, Mary and Martha and (temporarily) dead Lazarus.
All those circumstances were too much for the individuals to handle.
BUT, they were not too much for God to handle. That's the key!
So, the Bible shows us: God does give us more than we can handle.

The other reason I am so deeply saddened by this statement is because of it's implications.
If God truly won't give us more than we can handle, then our need to rely on Him has just been swept away. We could rightly say, "Don't worry 'bout me, God. I've got this all under control. You can go watch over someone else. I don't need You!"
And - just as heart-breaking - if God didn't give us more than we could handle, then whenever we faced a circumstance which knocked us over we would have to acknowledge our utter hopelessness and position as a failure. Imagine the pressure taken on by a person who believes they must be able to handle every difficulty and challenge which comes their way. One could only conclude when the burden crushed them that they simply weren't good enough, or able enough, or strong enough. After all, if GOD thought they could handle it... What a loser!

Friends, I am so glad that statement isn't True.
The TRUTH is, God gives me more than I can handle on a daily basis.
BUT He never gives me more than HE can handle.
So I surrender to Him every day. I trust God to be my strength; to lead me through His perfect plan; to fight for me (Exodus 14:14). I freely confess: I can't handle life on my own. And because of God's power and faithfulness and promises - I don't have to!

Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Surprise Visit to the Windy City

Saturday my baby girl turned 19.

How is that possible???

Well, she did.
This is the first year we weren't going to be having our usual family get-together to celebrate.
And that just didn't feel right.
How could we not be with our girl on her birthday???

Uh, the short answer is: We couldn't.

So, Brian and I took on Nick (a.k.a. "Beau") as an accomplice, and we planned a surprise visit to see Elizabeth (a.k.a. "Beauty") on her birthday weekend.
Friday morning Brian, Nick, Josh, Matthew, and I all piled in the van and road-tripped it out to Chicago. The five of us visited Shedd's Aquarium and then walked around town before going to meet Elizabeth at the train station. (Nick was already planning to visit her, so he told her to meet him in Chicago for a "surprise" adventure. She had no idea WE were the surprise!)
Along the way, we stopped by this great big silver "thing" in Millennium Park to pose for a picture.
Once at the train station, we got into position. When Elizabeth came down the stairs and hugged Nick, we all came out from hiding and hugged her.
She was so surprised. *grin*
From there we went out to dinner (Happy moment for me was when I heard Elizabeth say to Nick as we were all walking, "See that? That's my family!") and then walked over to the Briar Street Theater to see the Blue Man Group.
What a great show!

Saturday morning we joined Elizabeth and six of her friends for breakfast. (If you ever visit Wheaton, Illinois you simply must eat at the Egglectic Cafe. You're welcome.)
And then it was time to come home.

It was a fun, fun weekend.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

This Week with Grandma

Have you ever wondered how to win a person's heart, and brighten their day?

If you have, I believe I have the answer for you.
Notice something about the person which is remarkable, and pay them a compliment about that thing.

It sure worked with my grandma!

A couple of weeks ago a visiting podiatrist came to our house for Grandma. She was soaking her feet while she waited for him, and as he took her feet in his hands to dry them I heard him say, "You probably have the nicest feet I'll see all day!" (She truly does have nice feet. They're sooooo soft.)
From where I was in the other room, I could hear them talking about other things - feet, toes, skin cancer, and NCAA basketball play-offs - and I knew they were getting along well. But I didn't realize just how much Dr. Nice-guy had delighted my grandmother until I overheard countless conversations she had after he was gone. On the phone, and face-to-face, I have heard her telling people, "And then he said, 'You probably have the nicest feet I'll see all day!' He was such a good doctor."
I smile every time I hear her tell about that incident. (And she's still relaying the story to anyone who hasn't heard it yet...) Because I know it makes her happy, and because it reminds me how easy it is to bring joy to a person's day.

So, if you ever see people (And I know you do!) give this practice a try.
Look for something about which you can pay them a sincere compliment. And then do it.

I wonder how bright we can make this world by speaking nice things.


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Be Still: Mom Edition

So, next week I get to help out a friend.
She leads a moms' group and had a speaker cancel at the "last minute".
Er, two weeks before the last minute.
Anyway, my friend asked if I could fill in. I had room in my schedule, and was happy to oblige.
So, next week I get to speak to this group of moms.

I spoke for the same group last year and presented Confessions of an Irritable Mother, so this time I'll be doing something different. My friend looked at the topics on my website and asked if I would speak on Be Still: God's Got This. And, since I am still fill of joy from presenting Be Still at a retreat last month I was only too happy to agree. But I will be doing it differently (as in, one 45-minute talk rather than four separate talks) and I want to focus on the needs of moms.
That said, I have a couple questions for you.
*What do you perceive as the greatest need (or needs) you have as a mom?
*How would you finish this statement? "God, when it comes to (your situation), I need You to fight for me."

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

God and the X Box

If you've been reading here for any amount of time, you know I have often been delighted by the various ways God speaks to my heart. But, would you believe it if I told you I think sometimes HE speaks through my son's X Box?

See, the other day Matthew was playing on the X Box with his friends (on X Box Live - where they wear these headphone things and can talk to each other/see one another on the screen). Anyway, he was intent on his game and talking to his friends - on their venture to rid the world of all evil.
Meanwhile, I was sitting across the room praying for a woman who attended the retreat at which I spoke last month. The theme of the retreat was "Be Still: God's Got This", and at the end of it I asked the ladies to fill out cards so I could pray for them. The cards said, "Be Still...God's got (blank)" and the women filled in the blank with their "this", i.e. the circumstance in their life with which they were committing to trust God. So, I'm sitting there praying for this woman's concern, asking God to remind her of His faithfulness and His power to handle her circumstance. And at that moment Matthew called out to his friend on the X Box, "I got this!"
I realized Matthew was probably reassuring his friend that he was about to shoot the enemy, but somehow I was sure God meant those words for me.
To assure me He heard my prayer for this woman.
To remind me He has, indeed, got this.

Oh, how I love it when HE speaks!


Tuesday, April 07, 2015


A few weeks ago, I went into Matthew's bedroom to say "Good night" and found my son hunched over his desk, distraught, with tears in his eyes. He looked up at me and asked, "Do you know how to write a sonnet?" Seems it was an assignment from his English teacher, and he hadn't the first idea where to start. (Funny how my kids think writing a couple of books makes me knowledgeable about all kinds of writing. Matthew's question was not the first of similar queries my children have thrown at me over the years. *ahem*)
Anyway, I confessed to him that I wasn't even sure what a sonnet was (I mean, besides some kind of poem) - let alone how to write one. But I sat down with him to see if I could help.
At that point I realized Matthew knew what a sonnet was, and what he needed to do. He simply was under pressure and felt despairing. All he needed from me was moral support and an idea, or two.
So I thought for a minute, What does Matthew like? What topic would make a fun one for him to "sonnetize"? And then it came to me. The boy loves his X-Box, so why not write a sonnet about his adventures gaming?
I ran the idea past him to gain his approval, helped him establish a basic outline to cover in the "story" of the sonnet, and we were off. It was quite fun to tag-team our ideas back and forth, as we searched for words which would rhyme and thoughts which would flow. And after about half an hour of brainstorming, writing, and re-writing, this is what we created:

Though I’m not yet a man, and we aren’t at war,
I enter the battlefield every Saturday afternoon.
To this life I live, I know there must be more,
So I pursue it boldly in my living room.

As the guns start firing, and my heart beats faster,
I join with my comrades to commence an assault.
Together we know we can unleash disaster,
As we exploit our enemies’ every fault.

When I turned the corner, I was shot in the head.
My teammates got down and began firing back,
I was glad for their presence, but afraid I was dead.
Our “unleashed disaster” had gone off track.

I waited for the inevitable “respawn” screen.
Don’t worry about me, I’m just playing a video game.


Monday, April 06, 2015

I'm Back!

And here's the link to the post I don't want you to miss. :)