Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Caution: Just Because it says Tomato Juice...

...doesn't mean it isn't chicken liver.

Yeah. I discovered this truth the hard way.
That is, I have - in the past - used a cup or two of tomato juice from a large can. And - not wanting to waste the rest - I put it into a plastic container and put it in the freezer. The plastic container was an empty cottage cheese or sour cream container ('Cuz I didn't want to waste that, either. *wink*) and I wrote "2 c. tomato juice" on the lid, so I would know what & how much it was when I needed it in the future.
Smart thinking, right?
I thought so.

Well, the future came Saturday.
I needed that tomato juice for a recipe. So I took the container out of the freezer in the morning, and set it on the counter so the contents could thaw.
Every now and then when I walked past the counter I would stop and give the container - whose lid was labeled "2 c. tomato juice" - a little shake. You know, just to help the thawing process. I don't really know if that helps. But it makes me feel like I'm doing something useful. *ahem*
Anyway, after one of those stops I removed the lid so I could assess the progress of the tomato juice's thawing.
And what I saw?
Wasn't tomato juice.
It was pinkish-purpley, slime-y, and looked a bit meat-ish.
And I wondered, How on earth did tomato juice start looking like this just from being in the freezer??? In my mind I simultaneously began taking an inventory of the other things which are in the freezer, and believed I had found the answer to my question. You see, although I am typically the only one who ever even opens the freezer (I mean the big one in the garage. Not the little one attached to the fridge.) I know Josh sometimes put things in there.
For fishing bait.
There are a couple of containers of special salmon eggs in netting which I helped Josh make a year or so ago. (But I know right where they are!) And he has at times bought bait specifically for catching cat fish. Because he says they like really smelly chicken liver.
Wait a minute! Chicken liver?
That's when I put it together. The "tomato juice" I thought I was thawing out was actually smelly chicken liver for some poor unsuspecting cat fish. *Eeeeewwww!*
I quickly replaced the lid and took the container out to the garage where Josh was - Guess what? - getting ready to go fishing. I showed him the lid and said, "Please? The next time you use a container to store something like this? PLEASE cross off anything which is written on the lid."
He laughed at my misfortune and said, "OK."
I am trusting Josh will keep his word, and I will be safe from now on. But I felt it would be the right thing to do to caution all you moms of boys out there: Just because it says "tomato juice" doesn't mean it isn't chicken liver!

Oh, and, one other thing. If your boys take to fishing, encourage them to focus on carp.
Because, uh, they like canned corn. *ahem*


Monday, June 29, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015

This Week with Grandma

A few weeks ago my This Week with Grandma post was about how my grandmother had demonstrated to me the principle, Once a Mom, always a mom. And yesterday I believe I saw her living it out, once again.

This week has not been a good one for Grandma. Most days she has stayed in bed all day, including meal times - which is the time she really tries to be up. There were even two or three days in which she didn't check her email. And that's unusual. *I just have to include that tidbit, because I think it is so cool that my almost-98-year-old grandmother is active on the computer.*
Just not this week.

Anyway, yesterday she slept in later than usual, and was quite down - even when she got up. While she was eating her breakfast I sat down with her so we could talk for a few minutes. I wanted to get an idea of how she was feeling - physically and emotionally. And as Grandma relayed her woes I wondered how close she really is to the end of her life on earth. Then, with a sad look in her eyes she said, "But I've got to keep living until Sue gets better."
And I knew exactly what was going through her mind.
She doesn't want to be a burden.
Even in death.
See, my Aunt Sue is sick at the moment and Grandma is very concerned about her. I knew my grandma was thinking something like, Sue is sick. She has too much on her mind right now to also plan my funeral. I can't do that to her. Because - even on her weakest days - she is still a mom, and she's still thinking about her daughter before herself.
To set your minds at ease, I'm confident my aunt is going to be fine. She has an infection and won't be released from the hospital until it is gone. But I think my grandmother's concern is a bit out of proportion. It's that worry-gene we all get when the baby arrives, ya know?
Apparently it never goes away.
So I leaned in to my grandmother, put my arm around her shoulder, and spoke into her ear. "Grandma, that isn't your burden to carry. I'm here and I will do whatever is necessary to help. Aunt Sue is going to be fine. God is going to take care of us. It isn't your burden to carry."

How timely that just moments before the above conversation I had read this post from Kathy Troccoli:
go ahead...He can take it!

cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
1 peter 5:7

this is not like removing a shawl with female elegance. the Word here means hurling with great force.

so...the burden, the worry,--get it off your shoulders my friend.

it is not yours to carry.

then trust—and obey.

These words are True. Even for moms.

Is there a burden on your shoulders today which isn't yours to carry?


Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Mom...

I'm telling you, the fact that any of us moms ever complete our "to-do" lists is a minor miracle.
Can I get an Amen!, sisters?

Case in point:
I have this bill, which has been hanging over my head for weeks.
OK, really it's been sitting on the kitchen table.
Anyway, I have been meaning to take care it, but I couldn't pay it until I talked to Brian. Because I knew one of the charges on the bill had already been paid, and I wanted to be sure everything else was current. BUT, I didn't know the log-in information for our HSA account and I needed to get it from Brian. Only, by the time he gets home from work every day I'm making dinner and any thoughts of paying that bill - i.e. obtaining that log-in information - are long gone. And they generally don't return until the next day, when he's a work and I'm in the midst of daily "to-do" lists.
Well, and I'm not sure how it happened, Monday night I remembered to ask my hubby for the username and password. I wrote the information down on a piece of paper and put it on the table with the bill, so I would see it the next day and be reminded to call about my billing questions.

And guess what happened Tuesday?

I saw the note on the table, sat down at my computer, logged on to the HSA site, and found the information I needed. I was all set to call and finally take care of the bill.
Except? I didn't have my phone on me.
Soooooo, I wandered through the house looking for my phone and when I located it, I found a text message from Brian. "Can you check for dampness in Elizabeth's room?" (It had rained HARD Monday night, and her room is prone to leaking.) I was tempted to put it off, but figured if I did I would likely forget about it all together and - not wanting to let Brian down - I chose to take care of his request first.
Annnnnd, walking through the basement to get to Elizabeth's room, I came across another piece of dampness. That is, I discovered that Mindy had peed on the carpet. (Another consequence of Monday's storm. Mindy gets so freaked out by the sounds that she will NOT step outside. And rather than "holding it," well, she pees on the floor.) So, as soon as I checked Elizabeth's room, I spent 10-15 minutes cleaning up Mindy's contribution to my distractions.
Of course, while that was all happening and I was considering the question, How many things will stand in the way of me completing one stinking task? I realized - the whole scenario was a blog post in the making. And I simply couldn't pass up the opportunity to rant about interruptions share my experience with other women who will surely understand me.

The funny thing is, even in the process of typing this post: I have answered the door to talk with a salesman, to buy books which will help my boys (and me!) with their remaining years of high school; checked on Grandma a couple times and gotten her lunch; verified the hours for the recycling center because I remembered I need to take tree trimmings over today; AND eaten a few bites of apple to shut up my grumbling tummy. Because I haven't had time to get my own lunch. *ahem*

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a bill to pay.
And tree branches to recycle. And a book to pick up at the library for Grandma. And...

Is it any wonder our "to-do" lists never seem to end?


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Faith of Our Fathers

I hope you had a nice day Sunday, celebrating fathers.
And today I want to share a preview with you of a movie which celebrates fathers - and their faith.

I saw Faith of Our Fathers at a private screening in May, and just loved it. The movie will be releasing in theaters July 1, and I strongly encourage you to go see it.
Faith building and father building. Good stuff!


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

If My Math is Correct...

...Starting today, I have been married longer than I was single.

I remember a somewhat intense conversation with my mother shortly after Brain and I were engaged, in which she was questioning my readiness for marriage. Was I old enough? Mature enough? Ready to take on the responsibilities of life "on my own"? And I combated her questions with the fact that when I was going to get married I would be the same age as she was - when she was married and pregnant with my OLDer brother.
Yeah. I really felt like I'd gotten her with my logic.
Needless to say, Brian and I did get married. Nearly 22 years ago. When we wanted to. When I was almost 22 years old. And, honestly? There have been moments when I've remembered back to the young woman I was at that time and have wondered, Why on earth did my mother let me get married when I was so young? I didn't know anything!

Fortunately, God has been around for all of eternity - and HE knows everything. HE knew the challenges Brian and I would face starting right on our honeymoon, and continuing through to the struggles we are encountering today. Though neither of us were prepared for the work we would confront as a married couple, God knew how to equip us. HE surrounded us with the right people at the appropriate time. HE led us to the places we needed to be. And HE filled us to overflowing with the grace we needed. For ourselves, and each other.

I've been a married woman for more than half of my lifetime. God has also been loving me for those nearly 22 years, and the roughly three-and-a-half years before that when I started following Him, and the 18+ years before that when I had no idea I needed a personal relationship with Him. And He has no intention of stopping. So - the way I see it - I have Brian's love for the rest of our lives on earth, and I have God's love for all of eternity.

And if my math is correct, that's a really long time!

Who's thankful with me for the enduring love and faithfulness of our Father in heaven???


Monday, June 22, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

This Week with Grandma

I started this week off praying that God would bring peace, and even joy, to Grandma's heart.

Then I was praying for her physical well-being.

By Wednesday, I was asking God to just let her bowels move.
Sorry if that's TMI. But it's reality around here.

When Thursday morning came, I was begging Him for mercy.
Mercy for my aching and discouraged grandmother.
Mercy for our broken world, and the broken hearts in South Carolina.

And as I recalled the diversity of my prayers this week, I was awed once again by the goodness of our God. From the seemingly insignificant request for a bowel movement, to the desperate plea for comfort in the midst of horror - I have full confidence that God was listening and acting.
To be honest, when I was praying for Grandma on Wednesday part of me felt a little silly. As if the God of the universe doesn't have more important matters which need attending? Oh, to be sure, He's got big things going down. But He reminded me in that moment of His attention to - and interest in - every little detail of our lives.
The thing is, nothing in our lives is too small or too insignificant to bring before God in prayer. Because He cares - about everything. And because He is able to tend to our needs - even while He's holding the rest of the universe together in perfect balance.

So join me, please, in praying for God's healing hand to cover everyone affected by the horrific shooting in South Carolina. Let's ask God for the freedom of Pastor Saeed Abedini, and the others who are being unjustly held in prison in Iran. Pray with me for our country and our world - which seem to care nothing for God, human life, or moral integrity.
But don't be shy about asking God for your "little" needs, as well.
He cares about your desire to have patience with your children.
God wants to hear your heart cry out regarding your need for wisdom with your teenager.
He knows you're depending on Him to provide a job, or a home, or a friend - and He's listening.
And that decision you need to make, which is a big deal to you? Yeah. He cares about it, too.

Therefore, let us pray. With trust that God will determine what is right, believing He is able to accomplish all things, giving thanks and praise to the One who holds it all together.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Praying for Them. And Myself.

I lay down to sleep two nights ago and grabbed a book off my night-stand. I often read a prayer from this book before going to bed - and spend time praying for my boys. But Tuesday night as I read, I found myself drawn to pray for my own heart.

Because of this paragraph:

Guard my heart so I never push my son away through my words or actions. It's impossible for him to be perfect, and I want to accept him as he is. He won't always measure up to my expectations, but I never want him to have to earn my love. May I give him grace, just as you give me, when he struggles or fails in any way. Make me faithful by your Spirit so he can see a glimpse of your perfect love and devotion in me.

excerpted from A Mom's Prayers for Her Son by Rob & Joanna Teigen (Revell)
I was in agreement with the prayer as written for my sons. To be sure. But when I read this quoted portion of the prayer, and thought about my desire to never do anything to push my sons away... I wanted to shout, AMEN! (Probably would have if Brian hadn't already fallen asleep.)
I find myself at a point of conflict frequently. My boys are becoming men. They need to be held to a higher standard of accountability. More is required of them as their freedoms increase.
And this is good.
It is as it should be.
BUT, I don't ever want to make them feel as though they are not good enough. I never want them to think I'll only love them if they meet conditions x, y, and z. As I am calling them to a higher place, I don't want them to feel like I am looking down on them.
Can you understand my struggle?

So, once more, I get on my knees and ask God to work in me all these things which I cannot do on my own. I whisper a Thank you to Rob and Joanna for putting to paper the words which so clearly reflect my heart. (Actually, I'll go with a Facebook message. They're too far away to hear me whisper.) And I pray again, Father, please make me faithful by your Spirit so my boys can see a glimpse of your perfect love and devotion in me.

You can get your own copy of A Mom's Prayers for Her Son here.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Goin' on a Karen Hunt

God's been giving me lots to think about lately.
Between alone times like this one and a couple of occasions with friends recently, I'm really starting to wonder who I am - and what makes me tick.
More than that, I long to discover who God wants me to be - and what He wants me to do.
Like, seriously.
And it isn't very comfortable.
The introverted part of me is quite content with the way things are. I love to sit in the quiet (Or walk in the sunshine!) and pray. And pray. And pray some more. I delight in the fellowship with my Father, and I love knowing He is actively listening - moving on behalf of these ones I cherish.
BUT, when I am in a group of my peers I am feeling more and more like I don't fit in. And, honestly? That feeling makes me want to retreat to a comfortable place by myself. Only, I'm pretty sure God did not create me to be a hermit. And I resist the urge.

So, I feel like I am caught between two worlds. My comfortable, alone world (where I can minister through prayer and I am free to be me - because no one is watching and I don't feel judged), and the rest of the created world (where my heart wants to make a difference but my body feels so timid).
What's really weird to me is that none of this struggle applies to speaking events/retreats. I love being in those settings. I thrive on the opportunities to present God's Word and to interact with the women who are present. It is as though this is a private challenge, rather than a public one.
Anyway, I'm feeling kinda stuck. I'm wondering what God wants to do with me. With my relationships. With my heart. He created me. He knows my introverted ways. But I am wondering if His desire is to stretch me. To take me beyond my comfort zone. To live a little differently than I have been.
So I am joining God on this hunt for who I am - asking Him to make me willing to follow the path He lays for me.

Any words of wisdom from those of you who've been here and done this? *smile*


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Reason #4 that I Love Facebook

I get to keep an eye on my girl from afar.

Elizabeth has been at camp for two weeks now, and she's a busy girl. No time to talk to Mom on the phone.
And I get that.
I was a camp counselor and remember very well the absence of personal time. (Although she did sneak a text into me last week. *smile*)

In lieu of my daughter keeping me informed about what's going on at camp, I am checking Facebook every day. And am so thankful for whoever takes all those pictures and posts them.
Because I get to see things like this:

And this:
Those, my friends, are pictures of Elizabeth loving on a young lady at Friendship Camp.
Friendship Camp is a week for physically and mentally impaired folks to come to camp. And I have such wonderful memories from those weeks as a counselor at Cran-Hill.
That's why it delighted my heart so much to see these pictures of my daughter. Because I can see the love of Jesus flowing through her to that sweet girl. I know God is growing Elizabeth's heart, even as He is loving on her new friend.
And I am inspired to pray more, and I feel like I'm participating in the adventure. Even though I'm a couple of hours away.

Yeah. So thanks, Facebook, for providing the forum for me to see my girl.
And thanks, CHR photographer, for taking and posting the pictures every day.
And thanks, GOD, for everything You're doing in and through my daughter.

BTW, I happen to know there are spots available for summer camp. If you live in Michigan and have a son or daughter elementary - high school aged, I know a great place for them to spend a week!


Monday, June 15, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

This Week with Grandma

You know those times when stuff is going on, and someone is hurting, and you want to do something to make it all better, but you can't? Because there is really nothing you can do. As in, you've got no control over the circumstance, sista.
And it really stinks being in that situation. Because, ya know? You just want to make it better!

Welcome to my week with Grandma.

She's just not been feeling well. Between headaches, intestinal issues, breathing trouble, and dizziness, it seems this week there has always been something wrong. Yesterday when she woke up she simply told me, "I'm not gonna make it today." Which means, she doesn't have enough energy/desire to get out of bed and come to the table to eat. So, as I've done on other days this week, I bring to her whatever she thinks she can eat, I bring her newspaper into her, and I check in every now and then to see if there is anything else she needs.
Grandma's typical response is something like, "Just go about your day as usual. I'll be OK." Only, I know she isn't OK, and my heart is sad for her.
Although Grandma spends time in her room reading the paper, working her crossword puzzles, reading her latest library book, and watching Megyn Kelly on FOX, I know she also has down time when she just sits there and thinks. When she remembers what she used to do and wishes she could do it again. When she wonders why she's still here - why God hasn't taken her Home yet. When she misses Grandpa. And her brothers and sisters. And so many friends who have already gone.
And even though we spend time talking, and she enjoys the birds which come to the feeders Josh has put by her window, and I do what I can to try cheering her up, I realize I don't have what it takes to make everything "better" for her.
So I pray. I ask God to fill my grandmother with peace, and even joy. I ask Him to help her trust that His timing and His will are perfect. I ask Him to comfort her with His presence - that she may know, even when she feels alone, she never is.
Yep. I've been doing a lot of praying for Grandma this week.
Because I know God listens.
And I know He cares.

Tonight I'm making a jello salad for dinner. It's one of Grandma's favorite recipes, which we came across this week - and she asked me to make "sometime." So I'm praying today that she'll feel well enough to eat it. And that, somehow, a simple jello salad will bring back happy memories and bring a smile to Grandma's face and heart.


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes, er, Teens

Isn't it the desire of every Christian mother's heart to hear her children quoting Scripture?

Accurately and appropriately?

Then, why is my heart not all warm and tingly right now?

Monday night I went into Matthew's room to say goodnight. And to, uh, remind him there was a kitchen full of dishes he needed to wash before he went to bed.
He was engrossed in a video, but assured me he would get those dishes done.
I said, "OK. Don't forget." And gave him the look.
Matthew looked back at me and asked, "Or what?"
And I said, "Or, I just might get up tomorrow morning, see the un-done dishes, and get a bucket of ice water to dump on you."
At that, my wise young man said, "Mom. Remember what God says: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I congratulated my son for his appropriate use of Scripture. And we laughed together.
But I'm still waiting for the warm heart.


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wait For It!

So, I have this problem issue quirk thing I do. My eyes have a tendency to wander in books. That is, when I'm reading a novel I often "accidentally" read the bottom of the page before I've finished reading the top. And when I'm reading my Bible, my eyes seem drawn to portions which I've underlined previously - instead of staying with the plan. So, to keep myself focused on one thing at a time I usually cover the unread portion of a page with my hand.
Gets awkward when I'm laying on my back holding a book in the air, covering the right page with my right hand and trying to only reveal one line at a time on the left page with my other hand. I *might* have dropped a book, or two, on my face at such times. *ahem*

Anyway, I was experiencing this dilemma on Monday during my quiet time. I was reading 1 Samuel 10-12 and as I turned the page at verse 5 of chapter 12 I saw something underlined at the end of the chapter. And can I tell you? Even though I immediately covered up the underlined portion with my hand, in my head I was having such a hard time staying focused on what I was reading. I just wanted to know, What treasure is waiting for me at the end of this chapter? Then I'd tell myself, Stick with where you're at. Pay attention to what you're reading now.
And back and forth I went.
Until I finally made it to verse 24.

But 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 12:24

With my curiosity satisfied and my heart inspired, I recounted the great things HE has done for me.
*HE saved me at age 18 and has been patiently growing me ever since.
*HE has given me a wonderful husband and children. And has made the hard times with them wonderful by using them for good.
*HE has provided faithfully for our needs. Even when it seemed impossible to me.
*HE has healed wounds I never thought would have been treatable.
*HE continues to show me my broken places and makes me believe HE will make them whole again.
*HE has brought peace to my anxious soul.

Ahhhh, it was so worth the wait to get to those words. And the time of reflection.
May I encourage you today to take some time to consider what great things HE has done for you?


Tuesday, June 09, 2015

I Have Failed

OK, so I admit, I have never been a big stickler for table manners.

I mean, I know the "rules." I know how to properly set a table, and have taught been trying to teach my kids to do the same. (They think it's ridiculous. Why does it matter? Who cares, anyway???)
But I'm not a manner-nazi.
For instance, I don't put my napkin on my lap unless I'm at a nice restaurant. Even then, half the time I only do it because I see someone else do it and I think, Oh, yeah! Table manners would be good here.
I didn't know there is such a thing as a "wet side" and "dry side" of a table. And I had no idea it is acceptable to eat asparagus spears with your fingers.
But, once my kids were past their toddler years I required them to use utensils. I get after a certain son of mine about his habit of stabbing an entire piece of meat with his fork, rather than cutting it into bite-sized pieces. And I at least roll my eyes - if not chastise the culprit - when someone belches at the table.

However, since Grandma has joined us I have felt the need to step up our manners training. I mean, Grandma always puts her napkin on her lap. She never takes a bite of food until all have been served, and I have picked up my fork. And, heaven forbid she would ever put her elbows on the table.
At times I have simply pointed out her behavior, and asked the boys if they noticed. Or if they had any idea she was demonstrating a particular manner. You know, a feeble attempt at training. Other times I have asked them to remove their elbows from the table, or reminded them to take smaller bites. (I appreciate that they enjoy my cooking. But I'd like them to savor it a little. *ahem*)

But last weekend I felt like all my attempts have been futile.

Matthew My son asked if we needed forks when he was setting the table. At that moment, he only knew we were having bean burritos - which I allow to be picked up and eaten. But we were also having corn. So I told him, "Yes," we needed forks. And he chuckled because he often eats his corn with his fingers, too. (In spite of my wishes. *ahem*) I just gave him the look and went about getting dinner on the table.
As dinner progressed, I noticed said child picking up corn kernels with his fingers and popping them into his mouth. I immediately reminded him of the fork sitting to the left of his plate (Because that's where the fork should be placed.) and he reluctantly began using it. He also began his typical diatribe about the pointlessness of manners. Including a call to not conform to society. *insert eye roll*
Moments later - while the discussion of table manners was still taking place - I asked him to use his fork and knife with his burrito, instead of ripping it apart into tiny pieces with his fingers.
His response? "But if I take bigger pieces, I won't be able to talk while I'm eating!"

I looked at Brian and mouthed, "I have failed."


Monday, June 08, 2015

Friday, June 05, 2015

This Week With Grandma

I remember when my children were young - being encouraged to "enjoy every moment" because "it goes so fast."

And there were those who consoled me upon kindergarten graduation, because my babies weren't "babies" anymore.

The elementary years required lots of hand-holding (literal and figurative) as my children learned to take steps on their own; eager to grow up, but not quite ready to go it alone yet.

In junior high hormones were starting to rage and I was reminded of the need to guide my young 'uns through more changes. Though sometimes from a distance.

High school has brought more independence and often more distance. I can see my children becoming young adults, and feel them needing me less and less. Still, there are times when they come to dear old mom and dad for help, or advice, or just to share some good news.

Even our college girl - all grown-up-like and sprouting wings - has sought us out for godly counsel, and help with heavy heart-things. Though she is making her own way in this world, getting closer and closer to leaving the nest, she's still our girl.
And I'm cool with that!

The thing is, with all the talk from folks about the urgency to "enjoy them now" - and the implied warning that a day will come when we won't be able to enjoy them anymore - I've often thought this growing-up thing was to be feared. But this week with Grandma has convinced me I'm not going to stop being a mom when my kids move out of the house.
My aunt (Grandma's daughter) returned Wednesday from a trip she had taken overseas. Every day while she's been on this trip I have listened to Grandma talk about where she was and what she was doing. (Grandma had her itinerary, and was following it closely.) I've been updated on how the trip was going each time an email arrived in Grandma's inbox from my aunt. (Yes, my almost-98-year-old grandmother has a computer and uses email.) Tuesday night/Wednesday morning Grandma was watching the clock and monitoring flight statuses, saying things like, "Sue is probably on the way to the airport," or, "She must be in the air by now." And the two of them had a lengthy phone conversation Wednesday night to catch up with each other.
Grandma is almost 98. My aunt turned 73 on Tuesday. And, clearly, Grandma has not stopped being a mom. She is still enjoying her daughter.

What I'm saying is: my kids can grow up and move out. They can live their own lives.
But as far as it is up to me? I'm going to follow my grandmother's example and keep being mom.
To 98, and beyond!


Thursday, June 04, 2015

Watch It, Buddy

Last Friday, a certain son of mine and I were having a conversation about smart phones.
This child wants to upgrade to the world of smart phones, but doesn't want to pay the difference. He was making a list of all the reasons he should have this device - some of which were starting to sound reasonable to me - but then he made a fatal mistake. He said, "Besides, 95% of the people in the world have smart phones now. And the other 5% are old ladies."
I am among the 5% with a basic phone (Not sure that's the real number. My son likes to pull percentages out of the air when he's trying to make a point.) so I chuckled and said, "Watch it, buddy."
He just huffed and said, "What?!"
And I asked, "Are you calling me an old lady?"
Let's just say, his response did not win him any points with me. *wink*


Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Whew! That Was Fast!

So, Sunday after I dropped Elizabeth off at camp, I had a two-hour car ride alone with my thoughts.

A significant amount of that time involved thoughts (which I believe were prompted by the Holy Spirit) regarding my character. In my mind I was reviewing some of my behaviors and motives, the things that make me tick, and trying to understand the underlying drive behind it all. It was just me, my thoughts, and God in the van - so I got real honest.
*read that: the Holy Spirit got all up in my business busy convicting*
In the deepest part of me, I just want to be a reflection of Jesus. I want to live a life pleasing to God, which brings Him glory and furthers His kingdom. But, alone there with my thoughts and the Holy Spirit, I realized that I am too often motivated by what people say or think about me. I admitted to myself - and confessed to God - my bent toward people-pleasing, and seeking the praises of man.
And it hurt.
The awareness of my sin - of falling short of God's standard - actually hurt my heart because it had me so conflicted. I mean, I really, really want to honor God. I do! But in my moment of honesty I had to admit that those nice things I hear people say about me really feel good. They motivate me to keep doing good things. So I'll hear more nice things about myself. And I'll feel good again.
For my glory.
And when I saw my sin so clearly, I was anguished. I began thinking about the sermon I'd just heard and realized I was living out the main point which had been presented. That is, the reality that there is a battle taking place in every believer. A battle between what our spirit desires and what our flesh will do.
Before I knew what was happening, I found myself asking God to change my heart. In fact, I believe my exact words were, LORD, please re-make my heart to be like Yours. Yes, break it and re-make it.
I paused for a moment to take in what I'd just requested.
Did I really want God to break my heart?
I decided to trust God to do what was best and returned to my prayer, believing God would do a good thing in His time.

*Fast forward about twenty minutes, to my arrival home.*

When I entered the house I was greeted with cold words - which burned. The words sent me into a tailspin of self-doubt and condemnation, even as I tried to reason them away by telling myself the speaker of the words surely didn't intend to wound me. I felt like I was slipping into an uncontrollable crying spell, and I did NOT want to go there. I begged God to help me, to give me strength, to calm my heart - to do all the things I could not do on my own. I was a mess and despite all my deep-breathing attempts, I could not contain myself.
For the next hour I drifted between my bedroom and the kitchen - preparing dinner amid crying spells, wads of tissue, and prayers of desperation.
And it became blatantly clear to me that God was answering the cry of my heart. Because I was broken.
B-R-O-K-E-N. Broken.
I found myself in a place where I was completely out of control, anxiously hoping for relief, knowing it wouldn't come as a result of anything I could do. I was - in that very moment - convicted of the fact that I cannot do anything apart from HIM. And as I fell further and further into despair, HE tenderly caught me and gave me a new place to stand.

In retrospect, I understand that the cold words which greeted me Sunday evening were part of a misunderstanding and lack of communication. A simple request and some follow-up conversation would likely have prevented the entire scene. But I believe God allowed it all to happen so I would be taken to that place of brokenness - where HE could speak Truth to my soul, and shape my heart. That is, after all, what I asked Him to do.
I just didn't anticipate such a quick response!


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Looks Like Her Dream is Coming True

I took Elizabeth to Cran-Hill Ranch on Sunday.

She's going to be a camp counselor there this summer and has two weeks of orientation before the first group of campers arrive. I was a counselor at Cran-Hill in 1991 and 1992, and am so stinkin' excited for my daughter. For the fun she'll have, the lives she'll touch, and the ways she is going to experience God.
It is going to be a summer like none she has ever had before. And I am thrilled for her.
I really am.
But I'm also a little sad.
See, for the past nine years I have taken Elizabeth to Cran-Hill - for a week of summer camp. And, always, at the end of the week I have picked her up and listened to story after story of the adventures she had at the Ranch. But Sunday when we checked in at the office I said to Mal (the camp director), "I'm giving her to you for a whole summer this time. Take good care of her."
Then we hugged and I prayed for her and we said our good-byes. And I got in the van to come home. Excited for the summer ahead of her, but saddened by the reality that she won't be home again until August 17. And will be going back to college on the 24th.
Elizabeth already has plans to spend next summer studying in another state, and the following summer she hopes to do an internship somewhere else. If all goes as planned, she'll be graduated and "on her own" the summer after that. Who knows if we'll even have the pleasure of her company for a total of four weeks in the next two summers, like we are this year?

All through her growing up years, Elizabeth spoke of a desire to have wings. She always thought it would be so wonderful to be able to fly wherever she wanted to go. If only she could grow a pair of wings.
The strange thing is, when I looked at Elizabeth walking away as I left camp on Sunday, I think I saw wings sprouting from her back.


Monday, June 01, 2015