It's all over the news, and my Facebook feed, and it's consuming my thoughts. I feel like there isn't a single thing I can do to affect the situation. And my heart is so sad. Because, life is "normal" for me.If I wanted to, I could live today as though nothing was wrong on the other side of the world.And that feels so unfair!On the other side of the world men, women, and children are suffering. They're starving, and hiding, and being attacked and killed. And I want to do something! I want to be able to make the fighting stop. To make the warring parties live in peace. Honestly, I want to convince them all to love Jesus and live in HIS kingdom. But I'm just me. And I'm here. What can I do? I feel like I can't even dare to hope.And that, right there, is where God steps in and reminds me: Love ALWAYS hopes. I don't see the solution. I don't know how peace will be restored and righteousness will reign. I cannot fathom how lives will be saved. But I know God.HE sees, and HE knows, and HE will work it out.And because of HIM, I have hope. Because of HIM, I will always have hope. Because God listens and cares and is able to do all things, in hope I will do the one thing I can do. I will pray. Will you join me? **************************************************************************I am signing off for a while. If God agrees, I'll be back January 2. Until then, I wish you a very Merry Christmas. Let us press on in hopeful prayer for our world, as we wait for HIM to come again!
Friday, December 16, 2016
Thursday, December 15, 2016
But, what about the times when things don't go as you'd hoped they would? When God does work out the situation, and it isn't the way you hoped it would be? What does Love do then???Can I just say, God continuously delights my heart - by bringing these lessons home? Last week He opened my eyes to my irritability. Now He's allowing me to experience unfulfilled hope.And, YES! These unasked-for incidents really are delighting my heart. Because the questions I posed above are real. If Love always hopes, what is Love supposed to do when it looks like hope has failed? Friends, God is helping me to understand.And this is the conclusion to which I have come: Love ALWAYS hopes.When God works out a circumstance, and the workings are not as we hoped they would be, Love keeps on hoping. Do you remember the definition of hope we looked at Tuesday? It comes from the Greek word elpis, and means: to hope, actively waiting for God's fulfillment about the faith He has inbirthed through the power of His love. On Tuesday, we focused on our role in this definition. The active part. But as we consider today's questions, I want to focus on God's role. You see, at the center of it all, it's all about HIM. GOD will fulfill the faith HE inbirthed through HIS love.I believe GOD is Love's source of hope - and the reason Love ALWAYS hopes.I wonder if you can relate to my situation this week? I hoped something would happen. I prayed about it, dreamed about it, and - quite frankly - probably spent too much time thinking about it. In my prayers I acknowledged that God's will was my desire - and I really hoped His will would intersect with mine.But, it didn't.And I was faced with a decision. What does Love do when what it hoped for isn't fulfilled? It was like God whispered the answer to my heart, Well, dear Karen, do you think it's a mere coincidence that I've got you studying "Love always hopes" this week? When what you hoped for isn't fulfilled, remember: Love always hopes for MY fulfillment. For the fulfillment of that which is inspired by ME.Ahhh. With that statement, HE opened my eyes.The thing for which I was hoping was a product of my imagination. My will. It wasn't from HIM. I mean, it wasn't a "bad" thing - this hope of mine. But it was inspired by me - not God.Sometimes I get confused between the two. Do you?So, God reminded me that Love always hopes for what HE wills. Because what HE wills is always good, and always for good. And I believe implicit in that hope is complete trust in God's heart, and total faith in His sovereignty. When the object of our hope goes unfulfilled, Love believes it wasn't God's will, and continues to hope for His fulfillment about the faith He inbirthed through the power of His love. Love says, Oops! I was wrong about that one. Thank You, LORD, for Your patience with me.And Love goes right on hoping. ALWAYS.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
So, I'm thinking about Love always hopes this week. (1 Corinthians 13:7) One of the things my Precepts participation has drilled into me is to go to the source, rather than to rely on my own ideas. And when I do that, I typically discover that my own ideas fall dismally short of God's intended meaning.My idea of hope was no exception.And I think I'm a pretty hope-full person!However, if I defined hope according to my own understanding I would say something like, Hope is trusting God to do what He says He will do, even when it looks unlikely. But when I looked at the Greek word used for hope in 1 Corinthians 13:7, I felt like my understanding of hope was embarrassingly passive. Check this out: The Greek word for hope in 1 Corinthians 13:7 is elpizo. It comes from elpis, which means "to hope, actively waiting for God's fulfillment about the faith He has inbirthed through the power of His love." I mean, I think I was on the right track when I said hope means to trust God to do what He says He will do. But the words "actively waiting" in this definition completely change the picture for me. That is, I don't believe Love simply sits back and says, "Well, the situation may look bleak at the moment - but I am full of confidence that God will pull through for us." While it's good to say such words, I believe Love (according to the definition of elpizo) is a lot more involved. I believe Love prays for the individuals and circumstances involved in a situation. I believe Love speaks words of hope to those people who are also waiting for the fulfillment of God's plan. I believe Love is like a cheer-leader who comes alongside the discouraged and down-trodden and lifts them up with encouragement and Truth.God's Word says Love always hopes. And I am convinced that means Love is a whole lot more than a bundle of positivity and wishful thinking. This study of love is showing me that Love is an action. A dynamic force which believes God and seeks to help others do the same.Yes, I believe that is what HOPE looks like through the eyes of Love. And I pray God, by the power of His Holy Spirit, will enable me to be Love to the world around me. Starting with the world that lives in my home.
Friday, December 09, 2016
Well, if you ever want to know if there's an area in your life which needs transforming - just ask God to shine a spotlight on it.And prepare yourself to be convicted! Because this week as I have been contemplating Love is Not Irritable, Wow! Have my eyes been opened!!!It started with the test I took right after recording Monday's video devotion, and it's been going strong all week. God's Spirit has been drawing my attention to every little thing which I allow to irritate me. And I long to be refined by Him. To be able to say that Love defines me - and I am not irritable.I remember when this Irritable Mother journey began, and I was known to fly off the handle and yell at my children, and go through my days angry and frustrated. I am sooooo glad God has changed my heart and taken me from that way of living. But with a spotlight on Love is Not Irritable this week He has shown me I am, in fact, still prone to irritability. Though I may not be yelling outwardly, I have heard internal groans and complaints - which I know are not prompted by Love. In some ways I feel like I'm outside weeding the yard. You know how that goes, don't you? What you see at first are the big weeds which you are eager to pull. But once they're gone, you notice the medium sized weeds which were apparently being covered by the big ones. So you pull those out, too. And just when you think you're finished - you take another look and see all the little weeds which were covered by the medium-sized weeds. And though you know most people probably won't notice them there, you can't leave them. Because they'll likely grow to be big ones, too. So you get down on your knees and work to get those buggers by the root. That's where I am today. On my knees, before my Father, asking Him to change my heart. To remove the root of irritability. Because even though no one can see my thoughts, I want everything about me to be defined by Love.This expedition through the Love Chapter is proving to be a beautiful thing. I invite you to join me next week as I discover another lesson.
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Whoa!Did you have a chance to watch my video devotion yesterday? If you didn't, go ahead and watch it now. That way - this post will make a lot more sense. I'll wait for you. OK. Here we go!Not even five minutes after I recorded that video, God gave me the opportunity to have my real desire to be like HIM tested. (HE doesn't waste time!) I put on my coat, grabbed my purse and notes for my talk, and went outside to get into my van. Only, when I stepped into the garage, I saw that the van wasn't there. With a semi-disappointed sigh, I proceeded to the driveway to get Brian's car - realizing he must have taken the van to run his errands. The disappointment came from the fact that I'd put a CD in the van which I wanted to listen to on the way to Grand Rapids. But, whatever. I knew it wasn't the end of the world.However, when I got into the car my feelings began to go south. That is, I saw that the gas tank was getting close to empty. (And the van had a full tank of gas. I had made sure of that earlier. So I would be completely ready to go - when it was time to go. NOW I had to stop at the gas station on my way out of town. *grr*)In my mind, I began nagging at Brian. I mean, he knows I like to have a full tank of gas when I am making a trip. Surely he would have been reminded of that when he got into the van and saw a full tank. Gee, would have been nice if he'd filled the tank in his car before he took "MY" van. (And then, maybe he could have noticed the CD and put that in his car, too. *hmpf*) All this - before I'd even started the ignition.Then it came. That familiar nudge of the Holy Spirit - reminding me of what I'd spoken some five minutes earlier. I think it went something like, "Lord Jesus, make me more like YOU." Yet, here I was, growing irritable because I was going to have to go five minutes out of my way to fill up a tank of gas. I scolded myself, Really, Karen???And then I started to sing, Change my heart, O God. Make it ever new. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You. You are the Potter. I am the clay. Mold me and make me, this is what I pray. Change my heart, O God. Make it ever new. Change my heart, O God. May I be like You. Turns out, I didn't need that CD after all. God had a different song in mind for me.
Monday, December 05, 2016
Friday, December 02, 2016
So, my absolute favorite part of Thanksgiving Day was actually Thanksgiving Night. We'd had a very enjoyable afternoon with a small gathering of family and friends, and I was ready to be joyfully contented with it. But then Elizabeth invited a few more of her friends over and they decided to play Spicy Uno. And she invited Brian and me to play, too. I love that Elizabeth lets her old parents play with her and her friends! I'm telling you, for the amount of laughter and raucousness which went into our play-time, I felt completely vindicated for the dessert I'd eaten. Totally worked it off, I'm sure.OK. Now that I've piqued your interest, let me tell you how to play Spicy Uno. Everyone begins with seven cards and play proceeds just like regular Uno. BUT, there are a few additional rules. *Anytime someone plays a "6," everyone has to slap the discard pile. Last person to put their hand down has to take two additional cards from the draw pile. *If another person plays a card identical to one in your hand (same color AND face-value) you may play your card (quickly!) regardless of whether it is your turn, or not. But you have to play it before the next person takes their turn - or you sacrifice your move. (Play resumes just as if it had really been your turn. Yes, that means several people may get "skipped." Too bad!) *Every time it is your turn, you must play a card. If you don't have a play-able card in your hand, you have two options. 1) You may pick a card from the draw pile. However, if it isn't play-able you have to draw another. And keep drawing until you get a play-able card. OR 2) You may ask for "help". When you ask for help, other players may offer you a card from their hand - face down - for you to accept, or not, without looking at it. The card they give you may be play-able, or not. (This is where you find out who's on your side, and who isn't. This is also where things get very interesting because you can team up to prevent others from winning!) If the card you accept is not play-able you must pick from the draw pile until you find a play-able card.*AND, when a "Draw 2" card is played, the person to whom it was given may lay another "Draw 2" down, causing the next person to draw 4 cards. Unless, of course, they also have a "Draw 2" to lay down - which would cause the next player to draw 6 cards. And on it goes, until nobody has a "Draw 2" to play. (This is also a time when you may ask for "Help!" Another player might give you a "Draw 2" to get you out of a mess. But, keep in mind, just because you ask for help and everyone knows you want a "Draw 2" doesn't mean somebody will give you a "Draw 2". You could be accepting a fraudulent card and end up drawing 2 or 4 or 6 or however many cards the total has reached. It's a risk you take!) Additionally, within the line of "Draw 2" build up, you are allowed to up the ante by playing a "Draw 4". At this point additional "Draw 4" cards may be added, but you may not revert to "Draw 2". So, yes, if - for example - Draw 2 + Draw 2 + Draw 2 + Draw 4 + Draw 4 were played before anyone couldn't play another card, some unfortunate soul would be adding 14 cards to his/her hand!*One more thing. If you get caught not saying "Uno" when you only have one card left to play, you must draw seven cards.And there you have it. Complete guidelines for spicing up that old deck of Uno cards you may not have touched for a few years. So, grab your kids (Even if they're "older" - actually, this game works better with older kids!) and get ready for a fun time.Let me know how they like it!
Thursday, December 01, 2016
I have profound friends.That is, I have friends who make profound statements. Like, "I'm not going to beat myself up over that." OK. Here's the context: We were in Precepts Tuesday discussing our final lesson on spiritual gifts, sharing the "big thing" we learned that will stick with us. My friend spoke of realizing what her gift is - and what it ISN'T. She said she has come to understand that when she is in a circumstance which calls for something she cannot do, she's going to recognize God has not gifted her in that way and, "I'm not going to beat myself up over that."I thought, Wow. That is some wisdom right there!And we took a short, worth-while rabbit trail talking about our tendency (Especially women!) to compare ourselves with one another and become disappointed with who we are NOT.Have you been there, too???That evening, those words of wisdom came to my mind again. I was with that same profound friend at an Advent Tea where I was speaking. We were walking around before the program began, admiring the tables which ladies had beautifully set-up and decorated. As we marveled at a particularly charming center-piece I said to her, "That right there is something I could NOT do. Not my talent!" I mean, I can appreciate beauty and creativity with the best of them. But to think it up, and put it together? Not gonna happen!Then I turned to her and said, "And I'm not going to beat myself up over that!"
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good...All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines...But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, everyone of them, just as he wanted them to be.~1 Corinthians 12:7,11,18You see, the thing is - when God equipped us with natural talents, and when He gave us our spiritual gift(s) at salvation, HE knew what HE was doing. God made you uniquely YOU. And HE only made one ME. (Am I hearing hallelujahs coming from my sons' rooms? *wink*) There is no reason for us to wish we were gifted like - or had the talents of - someone else. Because if God intended for us to be someone else, HE wouldn't have made US. Are you with me? God gave us spiritual gifts for the common good - for the edification of the body of Christ. So, let us operate in our gifts (and let us use our natural talents in that operation) to bring glory to God and to advance the kingdom. Let us celebrate and encourage one another in our roles, without envy or resentment. And let the LOVE of Christ flow through us as we do the things HE calls us to do. Full disclosure: Writing these thoughts is a whole lot easier for me than putting them into practice. (Comparison and feeling "less-than" are snares for me.) But by the grace of God and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am going to give it my full effort.Will you join me?
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Sometimes there is just no denying that God is trying to get your attention.Like, when He repeats Himself. So, yesterday in my video devotion I spoke about love and 1 Corinthians 13 - because that portion of scripture is what I have been studying the past couple weeks in my Precepts class. (And, honestly, the blog post was part of an "assignment" in my Precepts homework for this week.) Anyway, it has been heavily on my heart and mind. But Precepts is over now, and I have been looking forward to a break because a few weeks ago we received a booklet of meditations for the Advent season. While I love Precepts - it takes a lot of time. And I welcome the opportunity I have now to settle in and focus on these Advent meditations. Yeah. So yesterday I sat down with the Advent booklet to look at this week's reading and - Are you ready for this? - I discovered that every week for the next eight weeks I am going to be meditating on a different aspect of love from 1 Corinthians 13. Apparently two weeks studying it for Precepts isn't enough. God's got me on the extended track.At first I was wondering if I should be offended. What, God? Am I not good enough? Somethin' You want to say to me??? But I know HE does everything well, and I am eager to be shaped by His Spirit. I am eager to become who HE wants me to be.Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening!Have you sensed God tugging at your heart regarding anything lately?
Monday, November 28, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Not sure how I did it, but somehow I came up with the short straw with regards to assigning leaders for our Precepts lessons this term. That is, we're studying the spiritual gifts - and yesterday I got to lead the discussion for speaking in and interpreting tongues. I mean, who wants to take on that challenge? Leading a discussion on a topic which is so confusing and at the center of much disagreement. But, alas, it was my turn in the rotation. Kidding aside, we had a fruitful discussion. Tho none of us feels we have a grip in the subject. (But since there are so many scholars who've studied hard and still don't know all the answers, I am choosing to feel vindicated rather than stupid. *wink*)And although we didn't come to a conclusion and wrap up all loose ends on the subject, we did agree on this:1) Ephesians 4:12-13 tells us that the spiritual gifts are given "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." It's about building the Body. It's about bringing our Christian character to maturity. It's about unity. So, we will not disparage one another over things we don't fully understand.And 2) What we do know for sure is that Jesus Christ left the glory of heaven to come to earth. HE became a perfect sacrifice and took our place on the cross - where HE conquered death so we could be forgiven. On the third day HE rose from the grave so we could have new life. Now everyone who confesses their sin, believes in Jesus, and turns to Him will be saved. Of this Truth, we have no doubts or questions. And on this Truth we declare our faith and unity.
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! ~Psalm 133:1Praying for unity in our nation. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I'll be enjoying my family - not blogging. LORD willing, I'll see you back here Monday.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Saturday I was talking with my mother-in-law about life, and motherhood, and the struggles inherent in both of them. As we continued on in our conversation I laughed and said, "I feel a blog post coming on!"And, here it is! In light of the state of our nation over the past couple weeks, in light of our individual needs to be built up and not torn down, and for the love of civility - I have a question.What would happen if we all started saying kind things to one another?When we notice someone doing a good thing, what if we went beyond noticing and actually thanked them for doing it?When we have feelings of gratitude and admiration toward another person, what if we told them? With our voices? Face-to-face?What if we didn't wait until someone's funeral to talk about how much they mean to us?How would this world be different if we made a habit of sharing love, and lifting up?Something to think about as you prepare to get together with family and friends over the holidays!
Monday, November 21, 2016
Friday, November 18, 2016
What's a mom to do?See, I have this son who keeps getting disappointed by things outside his control not going the way he wishes they would go. And, as someone with deep faith in God and - oh - 26 years more life experience than him, I realize none of what he's facing is going to cause the world to come to an end. I know he's going to survive. Ultimately, I have confidence that he'll grow through the struggle.So, sometimes I have difficulty feeling true compassion when he's moping around and complaining. That is, sometimes I want to sit him down and lay it out - Get over it, son. In the grand scheme of things, this really isn't a big deal.And, yet.And, yet - I remember a situation which happened in my teenage life that wasn't tended carefully. It was a big, BIG deal to me and I was told, "You'll laugh at this when you're older." Yeah, well? I haven't started laughing yet. I think that's because the wound still hurts. Not the wound from the big, BIG deal, that is. (I got over that a long time ago.) I'm referring to the wound from the "you'll laugh" comment. That one still kinda hurts.And so, here I find myself. Looking for the balance between coddling, and cold reality. I want to be sympathetic to my son's frustration - without catering to his sullenness. And I want to encourage him in truth - without bulldozing his feelings.Yeah. And, his quick-to-get-upset nature makes this task extra tricky.Lord, You know my son better than I do. Please help me as I walk this balance beam.Any other moms needing to pray this prayer with me today?
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
So, what do you do with a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Wheaton - when you can't decide on what to do? Well, take the train to Chicago, of course! Last weekend was "Family Weekend" at Wheaton College, so Brian and I and the boys road-tripped it out to see Elizabeth. We had a pretty full schedule Friday and Sunday, but nothing planned for Saturday. So the decision was made to hop the train into Chicago and visit the Lincoln Park Zoo. (Because our budget-conscious college student knew there was no fee to get into the zoo. *grin*)We stopped for a picture over the South Pond, with the City in the background.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.~John 14:27And I am prepared to do a lot of praying until this happens.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Friday, November 11, 2016
Father in heaven, please have mercy on this land. On these people. On our hearts. I know from where You sit, You can see the brokenness. You see the hatred being spewed from every direction. You see people acting out of fear and pain and anger. You see us hurting one another, because we are hurting - and we don't know how else to handle it.Oh, how we need YOU!!!Father, we are a nation of broken, self-righteous, misguided people. We are divided, and unloving toward each other. Even Your children are failing to display unity and love for one another. And I think it must break Your heart to look at us.We have allowed this world to ensnare us. We look at each other as "other" rather than as children of the Most High God. We see differences among ourselves and decide that "different" is "bad". We judge based upon what we see, but only You can see the heart. LORD, we're making a mess of things!You have told us in You Word how to live. You've told us how to love. You came in the flesh and showed us how to do it! Jesus, You gave Your very life so we could live. And this is how we respond? Oh, forgive us!Forgive us, Lord, for going our own way. For trusting in and worshiping man and governments and ideas - rather than You. Forgive us for thinking we know better than You. Forgive us, please, for turning away again and making a mess.We cannot make it on our own. We need You. We need Your grace and mercy. Though we do not deserve it, Father, we need it!!!So we cry out to You. We make our confession and our plea. We humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways. Please hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Whew!I'm whipped. But I feel so good! I went outside a couple hours ago with the intention of bagging some leaves. Two bags, and then call it quits - was my plan. Because, well, it's a job that has to get done, and nobody wants to do it. So for the past few days I've been filling up two bags at a time and feeling satisfied that progress was being made.Thus, I went outside to do my two-bags-worth. And just when I was nearing the end of my second bag Matthew came home from school and got right into leaf-bagging with me.Then I'm all, Well, I can't stop now. Not when I've got help! I'll just do another bag or two since Matthew's out here with me. So I plugged along, cramming those bags until not one more leaf would fit.And as I worked longer than I had planned I realized, it's a lot less "painful" when you've got help. I mean, I was doing the exact same thing I'd been doing before - in fact, more of it - but somehow the burden seemed lighter with Matthew by my side.The result? There's alotta bags o'leaves sitting in the garage right now. I'm probably going to have some sore muscles tomorrow. And I don't even care, because I feel so accomplished for all the work Matthew and I got done together. The thing is, as Matthew and I were out there working on the leaves together, I began to think about you. My mom-friends who take on the hard work of raising children every single day. This motherhood gig isn't something we can do two-bags-per-day!And I was reminded how important it is for us to be there for one another. Moms encouraging moms. Women letting other women in on our struggles and imperfections. Sisters holding each other up in prayer.Friends offering a hug, a shoulder, and sometimes a casserole and chocolate pie.Being a mom is tough stuff. But the journey is more bearable when we walk with someone else. I know, because I've tried it both ways. And so, my friend, please allow me to exhort you today: Don't attempt this alone.Who do you have in your life with whom you're sharing your burdens? Or are you trying to make it through all by yourself???
Monday, November 07, 2016
Friday, November 04, 2016
Whew!It's been a really long day. And we have dance class tonight. And I'm kinda feeling like crashing. But there's laundry to start.Nahhhh! I'll get to that tomorrow.And dinner. Gotta make dinner. And Josh's Jeep is ready to pick up. Gotta get that done. *ahem*And so, you see, there is really no time to post a blog entry.Except this morning I spoke to a group of wonderful mothers, and their leader gave such a nice plug for my blog, and encouraged them all to visit. And now if I don't have something posted for them, well, what good is that? *no pressure*Ahhhhh, I jest! Not about the list of things to get done, that is. Rather, about writing this post. You see, this morning I was blessed to experience God's faithfulness yet again, and I am so delighted to tell you about it.As this particular speaking engagement was approaching, I was under the impression that it was my first time visiting this moms' group. Because I didn't recognize the name of the church, and I didn't recognize the driving directions. For that matter, even when I drove up to the church - it didn't look familiar to me.But when I walked inside I thought, Woah. This really looks like a church I've been in before. And when someone was leading me downstairs to the meeting area, it sure felt like I'd been this way before. But for the moment I thought, Eh? Maybe they had the same architect? And I continued on. Right into the meeting area, when I could not possibly deny - I had spoken for this group before. No question. Everything was familiar. Except my recollection of how long it had been. Well, at least three years, because I was "new" to the coordinator. *wink*But I honestly had a moment of panic. Should I completely change my talk today? Nobody is going to want to hear what they've heard before, are they???Yet, as I sat with a table of moms before the meeting got started, God assured me through their conversation that this was HIS plan all along. As in, some of what they were saying nearly sounded like it came right off my notes. And when the meeting was over, I spoke with several moms who told me the message God brought through me was exactly the one they needed to hear.Yes, once again - God showed me He is in control. HE knows the last time I was at that church. HE knew so when today's talk was scheduled. HE knew who'd heard it before, who needed to hear it again, and who would hear it for the very first time. No redundancies in HIS plans.Just faithful perfection. And I am so thankful.How have you seen God's faithfulness in your life this week?
Thursday, November 03, 2016
Yes, that question went through my mind as I anticipated accompanying my son to the repair shop to pick up his Jeep.It really did. Because, you see, I was wearing my "Blessed, Saved, Loved by Jesus" shirt. And our interaction with the folks at the repair shop would likely be, uh, tense. Because, you see, the service has not been what we expect, so I am expecting a discount in what they charge my son for their work. So much so, that I am ready to stand up for him, and demand it. Which is why I was questioning my attire. I thought, If I insist their service has not been worthy of full payment, if I tell them we are not at all satisfied with the way our situation has been handled - are they going to think I'm a *beep* and wonder why I'm wearing this shirt? Am I going to give Jesus a bad name??? And I considered changing my clothes, so as not to defame Him.But then I reassessed myself. I thought, I can't take off my Jesus shirt just so I can tell these people the truth about their service. I represent Him whether I physically bear His Name, or not! No, I need to speak the truth in love. And began to understand that - by the grace of God and the help of His Spirit - I need to support my son and stand up for what is right, without tearing the shop owners down or dishonoring Jesus.But, alas, another day has come and gone without a call to say, "Your Jeep is fixed. Come and get it!" And I got make-up on my shirt, so I'm going to have to wash it before I wear it again. And, surely(!) the Jeep will be ready before that happens. So, I won't be wearing this shirt when we go pick up the Jeep and have our conversation about a (deep) discount.But none of that matters. Because God reminded me today that I am His ambassador no matter what shirt I have on. Wherever I go, I am wearing Jesus. And I want to wear Him well!
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
Once upon a time, I had a three-year-old son.He wasn't much interested in sitting through a church service, so every Sunday I took him to the nursery where he could play and be loved-on and have snacks. In previous years, my son had not been one to exhibit separation-anxiety, but when he hit the three-year mark, I dunno. Maybe he started loving me more?Maybe he wanted to give "big church" a try?Perhaps he got tired of having plain Cheerios for a snack.Whatever it was, that boy suddenly decided he did not want to leave me.The nursery classrooms have half-doors, so you can have the top open and the bottom closed. (Saves a lot of time chasing down run-away toddlers!) And it came about that when Josh was three years old I would approach the nursery, lift him up to pass him into the room, and he would spread apart his little arms and legs to grip the door frame.Firmly.To the point that I was literally shoving him into the loving arms of the nursery volunteer on the other side of the door. She and I would typically exchange knowing looks. He'll be fine in a few minutes. And, of course, he always was.Wasted fussing? You tell me! So, I was telling that story to a friend of mine last week, and she has since shared with me that it is sticking with her. God is using the image of me shoving my son through the doorway of the nursery to speak to her heart.Besides having a good laugh (She didn't know me when Josh was that small. I can just see her picturing me with my now-bigger-than-me, 18-year-old son in my arms, trying to get him off the ground, let alone up and over a four-foot door.) my friend and I talked about the lesson in trust He's speaking.Oh, how often are we like that little boy grasping at the door frame? How many times is God trying to place us in a circumstance which He knows will be good, only to find us resisting with all our might? God knows we'll be fine when we give up the fight and surrender to His perfect will for us. But until we do, I believe He looks upon us with compassion and chastisement and whispers something like, Oh, My child. My sweet, sweet child. Why do you fight Me? When will you start trusting Me? Dear one, I know what is best for you. I know what I'm doing and where I'm leading you. It is for your good. Have I ever let you down before? I am not going to begin failing you now! I am good, all the time. I am trustworthy. I see you and I know what's on the other side of this door. Relax your arms, darling, and trust My heart.Do you see yourself in this picture? With what is God asking you to trust Him today?
Tuesday, November 01, 2016
LORD, I don't know what I'm doing. Please lead me. Please show me the way to go, and the things to do. I am completely dependent on You!This has been my prayer as a mother for years. Because every day is a new adventure. Full of some situations I have not encountered before, and others which still have me baffled. I don't know what to do, and so I seek HIS help.Last week, God reminded me once again - HE has heard my prayers for my children. And HE answers. I was on my way to feeling better, but not completely "there" yet, had just walked in the door from an amazing worship event (Did anyone else attend the Worship Night in America?), and was ready to go to bed. But Matthew asked me if I would pleeeease help him with an essay he was writing for a class.I was reluctant, but what could I say? I mean, he's my son. I have to help him, right?So I knelt by his desk and discovered a couple things. 1) This was an assignment he'd been given quite a while ago, and had only just started working on it that evening. 2) By "just started" on it, I mean he had a topic and a very rough outline.I tried to help my son begin the actual writing of the essay, but before I could put two thoughts together, my brain just said, NO. It was not going to think, or produce, or create, or work, or anything else.So I shook my head and said, "Sorry, pal. I just can't do it. I have to go to bed." He had a copy of an essay we'd worked on a month ago, so I suggested he look at that one as a guide. Then I prayed for him, said good-night, and went to bed. And as I lay falling asleep, I realized - God must have just answered my prayer for guidance. I was too worn out to think clearly, and God used my condition to lead me to the right decision: Not bailing my son out of a trial of his own doing. I prayed, You're right, LORD. I don't have to help him with problems he has created for himself. But You will help him grow through natural consequences. Thank You for rescuing both of us tonight from my tendency to help too much. Thank You for leading me in the way I should go!Then I drifted off to sleep, Matthew didn't complete his assignment, the world didn't come to an end, and I have grounds for encouraging that boy to get started on his assignments earlier.All is well.
Monday, October 31, 2016
Monday, October 24, 2016
Hi, friends. Just checking in to let you know I am out of commission for a while. Nasty cold has me completely exhausted. So I'm going to sleep as much as I can - while still doing life - and I'll be back here as soon as I feel up to it.Grace and peace and good rest to you!
Friday, October 21, 2016
The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed with strength. The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Your throne was established long ago; you are from all eternity. The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea - the LORD on high is mighty. Your statutes stand firm; holiness adorns your house for endless days, O LORD. ~Psalm 93Oh, how perfect is God's timing - that HE would see me "randomly" read this psalm. As the election draws near.If I may be honest with you: even though I know God is on His throne; even though I pray and will continue to do so; in spite of the fact that I have read several entreaties which aim to convince the audience that the results of the upcoming election in the United States are in His hands and He will remain on His throne - nevertheless, I still find myself fearful at times. Still wonder sometimes how bleak our future might be.And God knows my thoughts.I know HE knows.Because HE brought this psalm into my view. And He's going to work the Truth into my heart. I mean, just look at those words! They convey confidence and certainty and courage. Within these words there is no room for "if so-and-so gets elected", or "provided a certain type of judge is appointed", or even "assuming particular rulings and laws are upheld".The LORD reigns. Period.And I have decided - so God may work this Truth into my heart as the election draws near - to memorize this psalm. I am going to learn and meditate on one verse each week, for the next five weeks. I am going to cast my anxiety on GOD and invite Him to tell me all about His rule, might, and eternal reign.Now, if you'll excuse me - I'm going to go get a picture in my head of God robed in majesty and armed with strength, and I am going to praise Him for His power and faithfulness.I welcome anyone to join me on this five-week journey.
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Wednesday morning, 7:23. Matthew: Uh, Mom, I missed the bus. Can you drive me to school? Some unclear under-his-breath rumblings about the new bus driver coming too early. *Grab the keys and head out the door. Breakfast can wait a few minutes.*Wednesday morning, 11:40. Josh: Uh, Mom, are you doing anything right now? Can you go with me to the mechanic's so I can drop off my Jeep, and you can bring me home?*Check the time. Yep, if we hurry I can do this and make it to my 12:30 appointment.* Wednesday afternoon, 3:53. Matthew: Uh, Mom, can you take me to work?*Sure. And next week I can drive you to your driving test so you can get your license!* Wednesday afternoon, 4:15. Josh: Uh, Mom, can you help me move Matthew's desk out into the van? Lots of explanation about how he wants to set up a scene to make a video for his Youtube channel.*Why not? It isn't like the desk is heavy and I'll throw my back out, or anything.* Wednesday evening, 5:10. Josh: (on the phone with Brian) Yeah. Are you going to be home soon?...Oh. Josh: (to me) Dad is going to be late. Can you take me to make the video? Because he can't unload the desk on location by himself. *OK. When the soup I'm preparing for dinner is ready to "simmer for 20 minutes," well, I'll give you 20 minutes to get this thing done.* And so it goes. Takin' my boys where they need to go, so they can do what they need to do. Sometimes that means putting aside what I need or want to do. Other times it means I get to feel needed. And every time, it increases my feeling of job security.How do the every-day needs of your kiddos influence your days?And what do you do to keep a positive outlook?
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Almost six weeks ago, Brian and I started taking dance lessons.At his suggestion. I know! Amazing, isn't it? (There is a reason I call him "Mr. Wonderful".) OK, full disclosure - his friend invited us to the class. It wasn't all Brian's doing. But he could have said no to his friend without ever telling me about it. And he didn't. Mr. Wonderful.It has been fun learning how to dance with Brian. And I am looking forward to the next time we get to go to a wedding reception - and really dance. (I mean, we have A LOT of practicing to do. But we'll get there.)The interesting thing to me, though, is that learning to dance is only secondary to what this class is really teaching me. That is, this is the first time I have danced when I am not supposed to memorize a routine and perform it to the best of MY ability. This time, I am simply to learn various steps - and follow Brian's lead.When our lessons first began, the whole idea of following his lead sounded wonderful to me. Our instructor described the man's role as thinking ahead, planning the next steps, and guiding his partner through them. All I needed to do was follow his lead. No planning. No charting a course. No copious amounts of thinking. Just look pretty, follow along, and enjoy the ride.Now - to this mother/household engineer - letting somebody else do all the thinking and planning sounded pretty close to heaven. I was all for it!But five weeks of dance lessons and an increasing amount of practicing at home has shown me something about myself I had not previously realized: I am not very good at following. Rather, I am prone to anticipating moves ahead of time and *gasp* trying to plan what's coming next. (My poor husband. Dancing is not his forte, and I am not making it any easier on him...)It's good, though. We're talking about how we need to communicate the dance steps - how I can "listen" and he can "speak". We're spending more time in each other's arms. (While dancing to Barry Manilow tunes, no less!) And we're having fun.Looking for a good way to invest in your marriage? I recommend dance lessons. *smile* P.S. For those of you in the Lansing area, check out the Center for Social Dance.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
OK. So, I have always preferred that our family eat dinner together. Of course, there were times when the kids would complain about not being allowed to go do this or that during the dinner hour. But as they have gotten older even my children have admitted they valued time with the whole family around the dinner table.Which is why it was difficult for me to come to a realization last night.Josh asked for permission to miss dinner. He wanted to spend time with a friend, and had a list of fairly decent reasons for said visit.Of course, my first impulse was to say, No. To hold fast to my standard that you don't miss dinner with the family unless it can't be helped. But I paused for a moment before I said anything, and in that moment something (or SomeOne) in me clicked. I thought about Elizabeth. It's been quite a while since she's been home to eat with us. I imagine she has plenty of evenings when she hangs out with friends instead of having a sit-down dinner. For that matter, I think back to when I was 18 and attending college. It was not uncommon for me to keep odd hours. Most nights I dined with friends. Family time was limited to occasional visits home.With these considerations in my head, I looked at my 18-year-old, community-college-enrolled, living-at-home son and I became conscious of fact that - if he were a traditional college student he wouldn't be home for dinner Wednesday evening, anyway. Neither would he have been home Tuesday. Nor would he be Thursday.And it occurred to me that, perhaps, this moment was an opportunity for me practice letting go. That is, I realized I might have been playing the role of helicopter-mom and holding my son back from his natural tendency to take flight.Part of me says I'm seeing too much into that moment (The helicopter part of me!) but another part realizes I need to take these steps.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Well, something isn't working correctly for me. Go figure! I just took a picture of some beautiful scripture tags which were for this past weekend's retreat so I could show them to you. But now - for some reason they aren't showing up when I try to upload them to the blog. Sooooo, you'll need to use your imagination. *smile* I realize you may be wondering how I could take a picture of scripture tags which were for the retreat after the retreat is already behind us. And I understand your confusion. I do!Believe me, it isn't because I am "so amazing."On the contrary, it is part of a greater picture which shows how imperfect I am.And how amazing GOD IS.This is how it went down: Two of my good friends helped make this retreat happen. During the retreat, itself, they prayed and did all the meal preparation and clean-up. But before the retreat, we got together to work on other preparations. Namely, some beautiful scripture tags which were to be placed at each setting for our meals. The verses were to serve as another way for God to speak to the women who came to listen. So I chose the scriptures, paper, and ribbon with care - and my friends and I hand-crafted each one. They were lovely!Fast-forward to last Friday afternoon when the three of us were setting up the dining room and Joanna asked about the scripture tags. I ran upstairs to retrieve them from my room and I
Monday, October 10, 2016
Friday, October 07, 2016
So, I've been a little preoccupied the past couple of days - getting ready for the listening retreat which starts tonight.And, honestly, I don't have the time to craft a clever post right now.But there's always time to pray. And that's what I'm asking of you right now. Will you please join me in praying for the women who are attending the retreat this weekend?I am confidently anticipating that God is going to do wonderful things in the heart of each one who is there. And I am equally aware that our enemy doesn't want God's plan to be fulfilled. Thus I am begging for prayer coverage for the entire event.Because, there is power in the Name of JESUS!
Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Sooooooo, what did YOU do yesterday?I spent time at the State Capitol praying with approximately 8,100 of my newest friends.
Not only that, we need to be informed and vote. We need to be engaged in our world. We need to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ in a land that is broken and hurting and falling apart.Yesterday at the prayer rally, Franklin Graham asked us to make a pledge to God and our country. I'm in. Are you?
Monday, October 03, 2016
Friday, September 30, 2016
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.Philippians 4:6Chances are you've heard that verse before. Probably had it memorized at one time. Maybe you still do!But are you living it??? Because that, right there, is a pretty tall order! I was drivig home from speaking for a MOPS group yesterday, thinking about my husband and some decisions we need to make. And I started praying. Specifically, I was praying about deciding on accepting (or not) a tenant application for a rental house. And, for a moment, I thought, Maybe this isn't important enough to be bothering God.As if on cue, the Holy Spirit brought Philippians 4:6 to mind. And I thought, Everything? How much is that? I mean, really. And I determined to look up the original Greek word when I got home. To
Thursday, September 29, 2016
So, Monday morning my phone rang. And I almost didn't answer it.Because I like listening to my new ring-tone, ya know!But when Miss Clara finished her plea, I answered the call and discovered a MOPS leader on the other end of the line. She had heard me speak for a MOPS group several years ago, and wondered if I would be willing to come to the new group she's leading. Of course I said I'd be happy to, and then I asked if she had any dates in mind.She responded by saying, "Well, that's my problem. Any chance you could come Wednesday???"A quick check of my calendar verified that I could make it, and our plans were underway.Yeah. Our plans got started Monday. But God convinced me that HIS plan had been in place for a long time.Can I just say, any thought that my time with those MOPS ladies yesterday was a random chance of cancelled speakers, or lost contacts, or last-minute changes, or whatever the reason was our plans didn't get set in motion until Monday - was completely wiped away by the perfect orchestration of God's timing? I cannot tell you how many moms shared with me that the message of HOPE God brought through me was exactly what they needed to hear. They told me stories of struggles with children and husbands and every-day-kinda-stuff, and it was clear to me that God had put it all together just as HE knew it needed to be.The MOPS coordinator didn't know it.I surely didn't know it.But HE had it all under control.And you know, don't you, that the God who worked things perfectly for the MOPS group at Shepherd's Gate Church is the same God who is perfectly orchestrating the events of your life?When you don't understand what's going on... When you don't like the way things are playing out... When you wish you could see into the future and know how your circumstance is going to be resolved... When you long to have control over time and space - well, at least over your time and space...May you be encouraged to know that the God who holds the universe together in perfect balance sees you, and knows you, and has a plan.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
So, I was going to write a fun little post about my adventure and success this past weekend of changing the ring-tone on my phone. I was going to say how much I love receiving phone calls, but find myself not wanting to answer. Because I like the ring-tone so much.Then I thought it would be cute to find the clip of the movie from which my ring-tone comes and post it here so you know what makes me so happy. (Hearing Miss Clara call out, "Raise 'em up, Lord. Raise 'em up!")But then I watched the clip, and my spirit got really excited, and all of a sudden writing a clever post seemed meaningless. All I want to do now is invite you to watch this clip and join me in prayer.Our world needs it!
Monday, September 26, 2016
Friday, September 23, 2016
Look what I got yesterday!!!I am so stinkin' excited! For a few reasons. *The idea of the t-shirt is something I've been playing with for a few months, and it's fun to see the idea become reality. So I'm excited about that aspect.*But more than that, I'm pumped because I was waiting to get them done until speaking season was upon me. And, well, I'll be back at it next week. So that's exciting.*Still more than that, my heart is thrilled by the truth printed on the back of these shirts.You see, as I spent time reflecting on the 11 years since I started speaking - as I began gearing up to focus on it again - God allowed me to look at what HE has done. It began with the notion in 2005 that God was using my children and my struggles as a mother to transform me into the woman He has created me to be. God used Psalm 66:10 to help me understand the refining process through which He is taking me. And I was filled with hope.Now I look at myself, eleven years later - still speaking to young moms about hope in the midst of the struggle, and I ask myself, Is it true? Is what I'm saying valid? Does God really transform us through hard times? Because, let's face it: I know I am not the woman God has created me to be. He isn't finished with this refining process in me. I'm not there yet!Yes, that is true. But so is this: I'm not the woman I used to be. God has taken that angry, frustrated, irritable young mother who was devoid of hope, and HE has changed her heart. He has given her clearer perspectives. He has grown her faith and taught her how to trust Him in the midst of, of everything. He has brought joy to a life that was joy-less. And He continues to do it every day.Oh, I know, I am not who I will one day be, but - praise Jesus! - I am not who I was. So, I am excited to share these t-shirts with other women who are in the midst of the Refiner's fire - be it via mothering, or something else. And I am delighted about the testimony each one of us has: While I may not yet be who God wants me to be, I'm not the woman I used to be!And all God's children said, Amen!