Tuesday, January 31, 2012

People Like Me

Today the Husband and I "had words". He said, "It's because of people like you..."

Ouch. That hurt. Mostly because I know he's right.

So being a mature woman, I ranted a bit then I self-righteously gathered up our newspaper recycling and said,"Goodbye." I said I was dropping off the recycling and just going out.

So now I type on my iPod from Panera. (Talk about time consuming on this tiny touchpad. LOL)

The issue? I don't like waves except in the ocean. He proudly tells the story of being at Shea Stadium as a child with his grandfather and his grandfather reprimanding teenagers tossing their litter over the railing. Absolutely right thing to do. Speak up.

Here's the thing, I cringe a little. I mean what if...

So while I care deeply about people and about social injustice and about wrongs done, the truth is I am a mouse about speaking up or out. Whistleblower probably would not be my nickname.

Not exactly a shining example of evangelism or faith. Sigh.

Convicted. Ashamed.

And yet, in my life when I have felt unsupported, forgotten, unprotected and without a voice, how alone and forsaken I have felt. When others reach out, speak out and respond in love and faith, I feel God's love soothing my broken soul.

It is people like me, afraid and silent, who miss the opportunities to be His hands and feet on earth. It is people like me who allow hurt and pain and affliction to go unchecked.

My fear becomes my millstone and it is tied around my neck, preventing me from living fully for Him and His glory.

I guess this post today is something of a confession. I admit my fear and now try to find ways to face and conquer, to change.

Do you ever struggle with speaking up? Do you see it as prudent or problematic? I think there is a balance and one must use wisdom.

There are times when speaking up is appropriate and necessary and required.

Lord, I ask you for the strength and wisdom to do what is right and good, and to never hesitate to do what will glorify You.


Monday, January 30, 2012

I Read The Book and I Am Choosing to SEE

Yesterday I started reading Mary Beth Chapman's book, Choosing to SEE.

On FB I posted this: "Amazing, heart-wrenching, humorous, inspiring, transparent, beautiful."  I also mentioned a recommendation to be prepared with tissues and preparing to be changed.

The book is about a journey.  There were parts where I laughed (cackled ?) out loud and also huge portions where I cried real tears, sobbing and wiping my eyes, sniffling.  The death of the Chapman's 5 year-old daughter in a tragic accident is the  center of this book but it is about a story that began before she joined their family and how this little girl's too-short life is still impacting the world today.

This isn't meant to be a review of the book, but I wholeheartedly recommend it.  I was in awe of Mrs. Chapman's candor.  I felt as though she was not jut saying the right words because it is what she should say as a Christian.

It is a realization of how blind I have been.  Not only because I don't want to take for granted these moments in time, but because it is so very easy to lose sight of what is truly important, what is from God and where I am hearing (and internalizing) lies.

In so many books, I hear about this concept of "Choosing to SEE" how God is acting in our lives, in our world.  Anthony DeMello writes of the need to "wake up" in Awareness.  I'm sure there are other examples, other books, others who recognize that we must be open to the miracles, the love, the gifts, the Truth. Being open is a choice.  It is not always as easy as working at it, DeMello warns against that.  No, I think it is about opening one's heart and one's mind to the love surrounding us.

I do not think it will mean that life has less suffering, but if I am aware, if I am walking in faith, believing and following the Truth instead of being deceived by lies, I will see the blessings in the hardships, the gifts in the pain and the provision in the desert.

My passion is reignited.  My soul is refreshed.  I can see more clearly as I let go.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

I'm No Expert

What makes someone an expert?

I can honestly tell you that like people are legends in their own minds, there are many who are experts in their own minds as well.

Now, I am not saying that there aren't people with specialized knowledge, exceptional insight or abilities that deserve our respect.  I do believe that there are people who are more skilled, practiced or have more natural abilities.  However, I do not think the word "expert" is one to be tossed around lightly.

For instance, as a mom of 6 beasties, some will jokingly say that I am an expert at the mom thing.  I will quickly correct them.  "Oh, no no no!"  As my friend "K" (also a mom of 6) says, "The more children I have, the more I realize I don't know."  She goes on to say something to the effect of, "When I had one I had all the answers.  When I had two, I was still pretty boldly thinking I had this down.  With each child, I realize there are not perfect answers for every issue with every child and that I don't know anything."

Do experts need to have all the answers?  I think what makes a person most skilled (That almost came out as "most killed" because my "s" key is being difficult) is admitting they don't know all of the answers, or even recognizing that being an expert may not be the goal.

I have a lot of knowledge about many different things.  Some of it I learned in a classroom, much of it through experience and my own inquisitive nature.  I am hesitant, however, to ever suggest I have a definitive answer about most things.  I think most of what I know is subjective, open to interpretation and bias.  There is very little in this world which is so simple.

I know how I see things.  I know what I believe to be true.  I know my experiences.  I know a lot of stuff but just because I've read it in a book or experienced it in my life, it does not mean it will be true for you.  I just see too much gray in this world.

This could prove problematic.  I mean,  I wonder, do I have to be an expert in something in order to be of value as a writer?  I don't know that I will ever feel expert at anything.  I have opinions.  I have knowledge and I guess wisdom, but am I an expert at anything?  I am just a traveler on this road.  I have love and knowledge, experience and viewpoints to share, but an expert? Not. So. Much.

As I was mending my 7 yo's pants today, I thought that I am even the "jack of all trades, master of few" mom and wife. I can do things but I am not an "expert" at anything.  I am okay at the day to day stuff of life, but I don't see myself as excelling or an expert.  (How's that for a glowing endorsement?)

Instead, I'm doing my best to fix the pants and hope they look "decent".

I try new things.  I take risks.  I share what I learn and I try to embrace the journey.  My life is about the journey, the shades of gray, the trial and error, the risk and reward.  I may not see myself as an expert and you don't really need to see me as one either, right? (Right?!)

I mean we all have our gifts and whether we are "experts" or not is immaterial (unless you're operating on my brain, in which case, I'd like you to be a highly experienced expert ;) ).  What matters at the end of the day, I hope ;), is using our gifts fully and sometimes maybe we'll be experts but sometimes maybe we'll just be regular people doing our best to use the gifts we've got in the time we've been given with the people right in front of us, loving them where they're at.

I guess being an expert as a mom or mender of pants or of laundry would be fantastic.  I don't know if it would make me more successful at loving the people in my life.  Being an expert at loving people...I don't know if there is a way to measure it, and I know I'm not an expert at it, but I'd like to be.  Just another way to try to do what Jesus would do.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

It's Mine All Mine.

You know you want a piece of this. ^  It's mine all mine.  (Although I might be willing to share it. ;) )

There are days (many, recently) when this sight makes me want to run screaming from the house to a nice, safe place where I can drink coffee from a paper cup in relative quiet and umm tidiness.

It's not that I do not love them or appreciate them.  It's just that there are times ( too frequently lately, I confess) when the scene above is Just. Too. Much.  I mean, the Lego blocks, the random papers, the mess and the noise (Oh the noise!)  just wear on me.  And it's an every day occurrence, the picture you see above.

Yesterday though, it didn't bother me.  Not. One. Bit.  I was relaxed and saw the joy and the gift in the chaos.  I wasn't even counting down to bedtime in my head.  (I did that Sunday.)

You can say, "You should be thankful for those children."  You're right, I should be.  And I am, mostly.  You can say, "You decided to have all those kids." You're right, we did.  You can say, "You might be sorry some day that you don't appreciate every moment you have."  You are absolutely correct.

The truth is, I think we cannot fully appreciate all of our blessings in the moment.  I think one of the gifts of hindsight is that we can  see our blessings in new and different ways.  Each night as I go to sleep, I reflect on the ways I could have and should have done things differently.  Each evening I pray for patience, for guidance, for forgiveness and yes, for peace.  I know that I need peace in my heart and mind in order to find peace in my day, especially in the midst of the chaos of daily life with 6 active, emotional offspring.

For whatever reason, I had a peaceful heart in the midst of that chaos last night and I saw my life in a different light.  The scene above didn't make me want to tear out my hair or run from the house in the mom van seeking   overpriced coffee in a paper cup.  Nope.  Last night I was able to go with the flow.

How tonight will go remains to be seen.  I have hope though, hope that even if tonight's chaos makes me want to run (which I cannot do because the Husband has an evening out with the guys planned) there will be more days in the future where I am able to go with the flow...and I will be very happy that this is mine all mine.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cozy and Safe

Aah comfort food.  Yes, friends, this is a bowl of Campbell's vegetable soup, just like my mom used to make, err heat up, for me.

The difference between now and then is that I no longer drown a whole sleeve of defenseless (or indefensible?) saltines in the bowl.

Now, I know that if I made my own vegetable soup it would probably have less sodium and other stuff in it. (I'm not going to say anything negative so the Campbell's people come after me. ;) ) I know that vegetable soup is easy to make.   In fact, I like making soup.  It's just that sometimes a little taste of my childhood is comforting, particularly on a cold and dreary winter day.

I've been joking about my age a lot.  I don't know why it bothers me to be getting older, but it does.  I remember that I wanted to dance with my dad at my wedding to Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide".   I've been afraid of changing because I've built my life around you.  But time makes you bolder, even children get older.  I'm getting older, too.  (Sadly, the band we hired didn't know the song and I had to settle.  I just thought it was perfect.)

I'm getting older too.

I may not have had any gray hairs yet (woohoo!) and I don't have too many wrinkles, but I'm sure they're coming. (If I'm lucky.)  Heck, undergarments that say "Age-defying support" are being marketed to me, that's just disturbing.

Anyway, sometimes I just want (or need) to feel like a little kid (or even 21) again, without the responsibilities that come with being a wife of one and mom to six.  I want to feel protected, not like the impotent protector.  I want to feel like all I need is a bowl of warm soup and some Sesame Street on the tube to have a good afternoon.

I guess part of getting older is learning to see the warmth and comfort in other places.  Like Lisa Harper described at the Women of Faith event in November, resting in God is like relaxing into a pile of warm laundry.  Isn't that a great image?  I just love it and am so thankful I heard her description because every time I pull some clothes from the dryer I am reminded of God's love.

And you know what? As I am growing older, I recognize that my peace and comfort can only come from God.    Childlike faith is all about believing in God and maybe that's one way I can work back toward my youth and relax a little bit because while I am an impotent protector, God is not.  While I am craving warm soup and Muppets, God gives me the Living Word to warm my heart and feed my soul.

It's okay to remember my youth but important to remember that I am who I am because of my journey...and most importantly, I am who I am because He created me. I will be cozy and safe because of Him, and you will be too.


Monday, January 23, 2012

A Soundtrack

I write about music a little bit.  I love to listen to the lyrics and sometimes I find bits and pieces that speak to my heart.  I've mentioned that once or twice or... you get the picture.

Last night as I was driving, I thought about a soundtrack for my life.  I didn't come up with a complete soundtrack.  So many songs speak to me in part, but not in whole, and they have different meanings or associations at different times.

For instance,  I don't identify with all of the lyrics from Adele's "Someone Like You" right now because, well, I'm married, not pining after some now married ex-boyfriend.  I do love the song and her voice and one line spoke to me, Who would have known how bittersweet this would taste?  There are things in life that are wonderful, beautiful amazing gifts, but they can have some "bittersweet" to them.  I see it right now in my family and it makes me wonder, is the "sweet" worth the "bitter", is the payoff worth the pain?  I just don't know, and the pain as a spectator (cracks in my heart) is pretty unbearable.

This morning I thought of the lyrics from "You Are More"... How did I get here? And I thought about how I got to where I am, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually....How. Did. I. Get. Here?  As in right this minute, how did I get to the place where I am?  A perfect storm of stuff got me to where I am.  Some my choices, some other people's, but lots of stuff transpired to put me exactly where I am.

And then the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice",  It turned my whole world around, and I kinda like it.  Because in that perfect storm of stuff that got me to where I am, I learned about myself and thought about things in new ways.  I guess you could say I'm in a phase of self-discovery and redefining myself based not on what I "think" are other people's expectations of me but discovering what I want and need.  (Is that part of getting *ahem* older, wanting to live my life based on my desires and beliefs rather than how people think I should live?)

Each of those songs could have a place on my soundtrack.  I will find others to add, I'm sure. I'm certain that my soundtrack will be like a greatest hits with multiple volumes, various genres of music and a whole spectrum of emotions and experiences.  I am trying to embrace it.  I don't like music that's all sunshine and roses, it stands to reason my life won't be like that either.

What about you?  What's your soundtrack like?

Enjoy the music.  Sing along.  Dance if you're moved.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Piece of My Heart..

A few days ago, I started planning a weekend getaway Just. For. Me.

I started the planning in a time of calm, not when everything was crazy.  (Usually I talk about "running away" in the midst of chaos and noise.)  No, the Husband suggested a few weeks ago (when I was feeling the strain of the chaos and noise and talking about feeling like I could not "breathe".) that I plan a couple of days away by myself in the next month or two.  (My angst was palpable, apparently, or my ranting was a huge hint. ;) )

So the other day we started talking about places and the 17 yo even suggested places I could go for a couple of days of R & R within driving distance, not too close and not too far.  (He is my human GPS, don't you know?)   The 10 yo wanted to know why he couldn't join me.  (17 yo told him that totally defeated the purpose of mom getting away.) The 7 yo quietly walked to my side with the two pieces of paper in the picture above.

That is a picture of a heart...cut in two.  The look on his face was absolutely heartbreakingly pitiful.  Me going away would break his heart. Aaaw.  I have gone away before.  I went to MOPS convention in August and to a Women of Faith event in November, but for some reason me going away alone for two days to read, knit and lounge around on my own schedule was a very sad prospect for him.

 (This morning I was thinking about that lounging around on my own schedule thing as I heard Miss M crying downstairs with the Husband and knew it was unfair that I was still lying in bed...when I am away I won't feel guilty because, hey, I'm not home to hear it. But I digress... )

I gave the 7 yo a hug and told him I loved him, told the 10 yo again, "No you cannot come with me," and placed the picture on the counter.. where I found it again this morning. And I was reminded, that these children who sometimes make me want to run from the chaos, love me and depend on me and are pretty awesome gifts I have been blessed with.  They stretch me and teach me and I credit them with helping me recognize that life is not about absolutes, perfection or always knowing the answer, but that life is about the journey, the experiences, the shades of gray and learning what to do in the midst of...chaos.  

I think it's safe to say that having children is like having my heart grow immensely and yet always be in pieces. I can't always fix and protect and calm and sooth and run defense for them so my heart is constantly cracking, but through it all, I can love them.

I have not yet picked a date or place for my getaway, but just knowing it's on the horizon helps me breathe a little bit.  I know when I do go the beasties will be in excellent hands. (The Husband is much better in chaos than  I have ever been.) I recognize that just as the boy's heart was in pieces thinking about me going away, my heart is always in pieces and it is going to be in pieces forever, that I cannot fix it all or always protect them, but I can love them.

Hmmm...where have I heard about that sort of love before?

Thank you God, for reminding me of that perfect love you give to me, a love I can never fully replicate but I will sure try to follow Your example.  


Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Biggest Fan..

Last night, I glanced in the mirror as I was leaving the powder room (Can I tell you that room has the harshest lighting?) and I saw the wrinkles, the lack of youthful, dewy complexion and I sighed.  I looked all of my 41 years.

What's a woman to do?  Post on fb about her plight, of course! Sometimes I look in the mirror and realize I look my age. Need to accept it but I don't have to like it.

Friends posted words of support.  I wasn't fishing for compliments, but it sure was nice.

This morning, the Husband responded like this:  Stacey- A little over 19 years ago a young woman walked out of the backroom of a bookstore- wearing blue walking shorts and cute tights -  I thought I had seen the most beautiful woman in the world- until the next time I saw her and the next time...until I saw her again this morning- now she/you is/are the most beautiful woman in the world. The only age I see when I look at you is the "age of beauty"

Can I hear an "Aaaww."?  What did you learn from that response, other than that I was a preppy dresser in my early 20s?  Did you learn I have an adoring husband?  I thanked him for being my biggest fan.  He totally is.  

A little later I was listening to Dixie Chicks as I got ready to greet the public (I did my hair and put on some makeup to liven up my 41 year-old skin. ;) )  I was singing along to "Wide Open Spaces" and I thought about all the ways the Husband has supported me in the past 19 years, encouraging me to go for dreams even when I doubt my own ability to achieve them. (He had just sat on our bed next to me giving me a pep talk, I wonder if he tires of that?)  

One of the most amazing things he does is give me the space I need to grow. He accepts, affirms even, that I am not going to stay exactly the same as I was when we met.   I wonder if that is the secret to being happily married for almost 19 years?  

That and we can talk about anything.  Anything.  

Sometimes our conversations are unexpected, as a friend might say, they take some left turns, but they are honest and real.  We've gone through some tough stuff, but the toughest times weren't related to money or vocation, they were times when we danced around the issues instead of talking them out.  This is where our mutual love and respect grow and shine.  

So to the Husband, I say thank you for giving me "Wide Open Spaces" to grow through this life, room to make big mistakes, and the support to follow my dreams.  I pray that our kids, all 6 of them, see the love you give to me and use it as a model for their own lives, because it is in the space that we grow and learn and become more fully who we are created to be. 


Friday, January 13, 2012

Shower Prayers

This morning I was praying in the shower.  Can I just tell you it's the only room in this house where I'm always alone? As long as the door is closed and locked and oh yes, I do use that lock.

But I digress...

So the weather is, to quote Pooh, blustery.  It is windy and snowing and  the son drove to school.  So I started praying for his safety driving today.  Then I started praying for the safety of my other kids heading off to school on the bus, and then all the kids going to school and all the people driving and it started to snowball (no pun intended) until I was making blanket prayers for the safety of all people, everywhere.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  It's just...that the reality of this world we live in says that someone, somewhere today is probably going to get hurt or sick or worse.  I don't like it, but it's true.  It doesn't mean my prayers weren't heard.

I was reminded in my snowball of praying as I shaved my legs, of two things.

One was a conversation in MOPS last week where a friend shared how sometimes she felt overwhelmed by the list of prayers she was saying, that she felt compelled to pray for so many people and places and needs that it sometimes felt like she would never be able to pray enough.  That is sort of how I felt in my prayers this morning.  I just wanted to cover everyone in prayer, not because my prayers were essential to their safety, but because I needed to share with God that I cared about people even those I do not know. Think of it like the way Abraham begged for the salvation of the righteous of Sodom and Gomorrah, convincing God to spare those who were "righteous".  (Genesis 18:20 + )  While I'm not in the same league as Abraham, I do believe God hears all of our prayers and that He does answer.  It  just might not be the answer I prayed for.

The second thing I thought of was an Anne Murray song from my childhood,"A Little Good News".  Basically it's about the awful news reports and sad stories, "Just once how I'd like to see the headlines say, "Not much to print today, can't find nothing bad to say because, nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town.  Nobody ODd, nobody burned a single building down, nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain.  I sure could use a little good news today...How I want to hear an anchorman talk about a county fair, and how we cleaned up the air, how everybody learned to care..."  

We all pray for these things, the good news.  And the Good News is that God brings us closer to that.  He frees us to work toward those things, both through our prayers and through our realities.  When we see the hurt and pain we have a choice, we can pray and ask for guidance and we can go out and do something to be His hands and feet in this world, to bring good news and the Good News to those we meet. We can impact our world in positive ways, through prayers and actions, through love and compassion, through hard work and yes, even through shower prayers.

Lord, may I remember to pray without ceasing throughout the day, to speak out in compassion and love and to remember that in all things you are present.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do Not...

Have you ever heard those stories of people who would open the Bible and follow whatever the particular verse their finger hit for that given day?  I heard one where someone happened upon "Go out with joy" and decided that meant he should ask a girl he knew named Joy out on a date.  I guess we should be thankful he never hit upon "Pluck out the eye that causes you to sin"....

Now I'm not saying the Bible isn't applicable today.  It is.  In fact, I can open my Bible and find something to speak to me on any given day.  It fits.  But I have never felt compelled to pluck out my eye or wear sack cloth and ashes.  (I did tell the husband after the van's engine went kerflooey (A highly technical term) and the oldest son totaled the car that if the wind storm we were having knocked a tree down on the new-to-us van, I was totally in sack cloth and ashes mode.  I was so there!)

One of my goals for this year is to read the whole Bible.  I have tried many times but I always get stuck and behind and never can catch up.  This year I bought a One Year Bible and it breaks down the readings so that each day I read something from the Old Testament, something from the New Testament, something from Proverbs and something from the Psalms.  So far it has been easy peasy, lemon squeezy to stick with.  But more than that, every single day, I find something that speaks to me on that day.

This morning, I read Matthew 9: 13 b For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.   That one I can handle.  I can totally identify with the sinner thing.  I struggle with it.  I own it and I hate it and yet... I am a sinner and it makes me feel unworthy and I wrote about that feeling of being unworthy and voila, I read this verse and I was reminded that God calls sinners and humble people, not those who believe they are perfect.  In fact in the verse prior Jesus says Healthy people don't need a doctor, sick people do.

Can I hear an, "Amen!"?  How about, "Thank you, Jesus!"?

I mean, seriously, when I am reminded of this I feel...relieved.  I spend so much time feeling the sting of every mistake, every misstep, every sinful thought and deed and the guilt I feel from the sins separates me from God even more than the sins do, because in my shame I turn farther from God, farther from prayer, farther from...who I am called to be.  The sin becomes a reason to stay in the same place instead of moving forward with life and goals and dreams...and calls to use the gifts given by an amazing, grace-giving God.

If you feel that way, like you can't move forward remember God calls the sinners.  Of course, now that we are all up on preventative health care, I recognize that I can prevent some of my sins by making choices that aren't going to get me in a bad place, but when I get there, God doesn't turn his back on me.  Instead, He sees my need for Him and He welcomes me, if I let Him, if I am not so busy beating myself up that I don't see His open arms.

For this I say, "Amen!" and "Thank You, Jesus!"


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Soul or Control?

Warning: there may be some words in this video which are not little ear friendly. It's one word but it's a "biggie"

(Did you see the warning above before pressing play?)

..Then one day you awake with a fear you can't shake you're an actor forgetting your lines.
(All italicized words are lyrics from Strata "Stay Young")

Sometimes I feel like that, like I'm playing a role but I'm getting it all wrong. I'm not saying the right things. I'm missing my cues. I'm flailing.

In the times when I'm flailing, I feel that "fight or flight" response kick in and my gut reaction is to fly. I want to escape. That is not always the best choice and certainly not the best example to set, but isn't our goal usually to lessen our discomfort and anxiety?

There are constants like gravity, heartbreak and shame. You can never outrun them they're part of your name, like lessons you learn from a past you can't change.

I love this line. How true is this? Gravity is NOT my friend at age forty-mumble. Heartbreak...I had my share and now apparently I also feel the heartbreak of my offspring in technicolor. (Isn't that special?) Shame...yeah, how many things do I feel shame about? I have a multitude of issues I feel shame about. Some from the past and some recent. They are what they are. I'm not giving you a laundry list here, but God already knows and I'm working on avoiding repeat offenses although I am sorely tempted and frequently blow it.

But it is part of me, a part I cannot change. The Husband reminds me that my unchangeable past makes me who I am today and that who I am today is not so bad. He also accepts the mistakes I make today pretty well. Again, he accepts who I am, even when I totally blow it...again. I learn from the lessons and I am changed and yet...I'm still me. (And can I just tell you he accepts me much better than I accept myself?)

Do you still remember your very first kiss or the future you hoped for when we were still kids?

Yes, yes I do. I remember that kiss. I remember thinking I could plan out my whole life, too. (Including two kids, a boy and a girl...bwahahaha) and I expected I could just have the life I planned out, that it would just fall into place. Not. So. Much.

Don't lose your heart, don't lose your soul, don't give up control.

When things don't work out, when I feel like I'm flailing and would like to run, sometimes I lose heart and I wonder who I am deep down. I wonder if in the mistakes, I've sold my soul and I certainly never want to give up control. I think I have to fix it and I cannot fix it if I let go of the control. Umm yeah. Did you read the post I wrote right before this one? I stink at letting go of anything, well not stuff, I will toss anything. ;) I just feel like I'm supposed to do something. Sometimes the best thing to do is give it over to Him and pray.

I realize that either I give up control or I give up my soul, I can't hold on to both...and trying....just leaves me with a broken heart.

I pray that we can find the balance between control and letting go, that we can stay young in our hearts and minds and souls and have that childlike faith that allows us to fully trust in Him.


On My Knees, Turning it Over...or Not.

Being a mom drops me to my knees daily.  It's in prayer..brought on frequently by fear, despair or frustration.

So often I try to find the solutions myself.  I want to anticipate and wrap the kids in some sort of protective covering that will stop the hurts, physical and emotional.  I try to anticipate their disappointments so I can either prevent them or warn them.  It sort of takes a little (or a lot) of the joy out of life to live this way, but I am a woman consumed by fear and worry.  I try that magical thinking game, "If I worry about it, it will not happen.  If I am a good enough mom, I will have kids that are successful and happy and always free of pain."

Every day I pray that God will wrap my children in a hedge of protection.  I have discovered that the hedge does not stop them from getting hurt feelings, a bad grade or a skinned knee.  I cannot prevent the hurts of life even if I get them to follow the rules, do their best, look both ways when they cross the street and mind their manners.

I would just like to ask right now, how is it that I can try my hardest to protect them and yet they still get hurt?  How fair is that?  Come on!

Umm...yeah.  I caught that.  I try my hardest.  I turn to prayer in the midst of the pain and yet, I still want to cover it myself.  I don't pray and turn it over to God.  Nope.  I give it to God but I still keep a grip on it. I guess I don't trust him to cover it the way I envision.  I mean, my plan is probably superior to His even though  His plan is superior, right?  Even though He can use everything for good.  Even though He loved them before I even knew them with a perfect love only He can have.

How ummm perfectly, humanly, stubbornly wasteful of me.  

This is my struggle.  Turning it over and letting it go and believing He's got it covered without me.   I haven't mastered it yet.  I keep trying.  I will keep praying; for peace, for protection, and for umm the ability to give it over to God.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

"I'm Gonna Love You With My Life"

Don't you love it when you come across a great song totally by chance (or Godwink)?  I love the lyrics to this song, Getting Into You by Relient K.

How many times do people ask us, "Do you know what you are getting yourself into?"  For so many reasons and in so many ways we ask it and people ask us.

When I made up my mind and my heart along with that to try to live not for myself but yet for God somebody said, "Do you know what you are getting yourself into?"

Nope!  How often in my life have I thought I had all the possibilities worked out only to be surprised.  In those times, I can only lean into God.

When I finally ironed out all of my priorities and asked God to remove the doubt that made me so unsure of all these things I ask myself.  I ask myself, "Do you know what you are getting yourself into?"

Priorities.  I think I have them figured out and then the sparkly things in life distract me and the next thing you know, I'm not quite living for God anymore.  And doubt... I am full of it.  Not doubt about God, doubt about my ability to utilize the gifts He has given to me and my ability to serve Him.

And here's the line that speaks to my heart and soul and fears and doubts....

I've been a liar and I'll never amount to the kind of person You deserve to worship You.  You say You will not dwell on what I did, but rather what I do.  You say, "I love you and that's what you are getting yourself into." 

I feel that kind of conviction, the sense of being unworthy to worship God, or to use the gifts He gave me.  I feel like a big, fat phony.  I can talk the talk and even walk the walk sometimes but there are other times when I feel like a crummy mom and wife and well a very unworthy child of God.  (I am very good at judging my actions and seeing all the faults and failings.  Is that a gift, because I use that one all the time?)

But God does say He will forgive and He does.  God loves us.  I believe that in my heart but my mind plays tricks on me.  This morning on the radio I heard someone talking about how sometimes we cannot rely on our feelings about God.  We must believe and trust His word even when our feelings suggest we are unworthy and unlovely, even when our situation or our behavior surely suggests something other than a God who loves and forgives and is with us, even in the midst of the crummy times and times when we don't live up to God's ideal for us.

And you know what? If God our creator can forgive us, who are we not to forgive?

I'm getting into You because You got to me in a way words can't describe. I'm getting into You because You've got to be essential to survive.  I'm gonna love You with my life.  

I've been a liar and I'll never amount to the kind of person you deserve to worship You.

I pray we all can make peace with who we are, who we've been and achieve a close approximation of who we strive to be.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Makin' Angels

The snowfall totals in my neck of the woods have been lackluster.

Downright paltry.

It leads the children to do things like this:
They were desperate to sled.  Can you tell?

And then today, it was in the mid 40s.  All of the white stuff is melted.  So very wrong.

My kids, however are resourceful and creative sorts.

Do you see it there in the mud?  Do you see the mud angel?  You've heard when life gives you lemons, make lemonade and apparently, my 4 yo thinks when life gives you mud...make an angel.

It could have been so much worse, don't you think?

Lord, today I thank you for creativity, resilience and patience.  Thank You, Lord for your patience with me as I am not always good at giving you my stuff and leaving it with you.

Praying that you see angels in your snow and mud and rain.  Today, I saw one in the mud and it was amazing. :)


Friday, January 6, 2012


Sometimes I see the commercials for prescription medications on television and when they speak in hushed tones about the possible side-effects I wonder if the medication is worth it.

Yesterday I took some migraine medication and we ended up reading the pamphlet, err the Husband read it and I listened for matching symptoms accompanied by phrases like "seek immediate medical care.  The beauty of the medication is my migraine went away.  The  problem was I became incredibly weak and anything touching my skin hurt like the dickens (including the tender kiss of my 4 yo who actually gave a tender kiss,not a tackle hug.).

Fortunately, I did not experience a heart attack (possible side-effect) nor did I get a headache (another side effect), to which the Husband asked, "Isn't this medication to get rid of your headache?" or even nausea.

The side-effects were odd but not frightening and while the pamphlet was full of doctor-ese making me want to ask a medical professional friend to decipher it for me. I apparently didn't require medical attention.  (At least I didn't seek any and I'm writing to you today, so let's assume I am fine.)

Side-effects can be minor or major.  They can be a wrinkle in the day or a major event in life.  Sometimes we have to weigh the possible side-effects versus the expected benefit.

With medications, we usually can read (or attempt to translate) the side-effect information and be warned of the possibilities.  Often in life we can anticipate some of the side-effects (aka consequences) of our behavior and weigh the outcomes.  However, sometimes we are faced with what the Husband refers to as unintended consequences (the things you do not anticipate biting you on the backside).

When we are experiencing side-effects, we can learn from them.  In this case, I will think about how bad my head really hurts before taking a pill because either way, I will be out of commission.  I didn't know this from reading about possible side-effect, only from my experience.

My experience in life has been that I can try to anticipate every possibility and even keep my expectations low but things will not usually happen just as I expect or plan or rehearse them in my head.  Only hindsight is 20/20.

Thankfully, no matter how it shakes down, no matter what the side-effects are or whether I anticipate them or not, I can count on God to be right there with me and you and all of us.

Lord, thank you for walking through all the side-effects in life with us.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Mirror,Mirror On the Wall...

I am not the fairest of them all.  I don't need a mirror to tell me that or to tell me who is.

I am not the smartest, most fashionable or wittiest.  I am not sure I am the most anything.

Yesterday at MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers if you don't know and have wondered every time you've seen me mention it before)  I said how I tell my kids I wished they could see themselves the way we see them and a friend ~E~ suggested we would all benefit from seeing ourselves through other's eyes.

She has a point.  I don't know how other people view me and I bet there are a lot of opinions about me that I don't want or need to know.  It is none of my business, I've said before, what people think of me.  However, there are times when seeing ourselves through another's eyes could be beneficial.

What if we could see ourselves through another person's eyes; not their opinions or judgments, but ourselves, our good and bad, the things we do well, and the things that are not so great, the gifts we don't recognize and the flaws we are unaware of?

What if I could say, "Mirror , mirror on the wall...?"  Would I listen with an open heart and mind and grow in humility and confidence or would I bring poisoned apples to those who were better or break the mirror?  Would I give equal credence to the positives and the negatives? I tend to shrink the positives until they are microscopic and I inflate the negatives to the size of a hot air balloon.

What if the mirror I looked in was one of God's grace?  What if instead of seeing myself through a mirror of human reality, I was able to look at myself as forgiven, saved, precious and valuable because I was created by God for a purpose?  Better yet, what if when I was looking at others, I looked at them through that lens of God's grace instead of my opinions, judgments, irritations and yes,  crankiness?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, help me to see a world of beauty God created, not the imperfections that sin emphasizes.  Lord, help me to see the truth and not be deceived by fun house mirror reflections.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The other day I was making a cake and I went in the drawer looking for my favorite spatula.

It's nothing fancy, but it works the best and it's cute.  I have another rubber spatula but it's too soft and doesn't work well for scraping the side of the bowls.  I found myself thinking, I really need to get more of these.  And then I stopped.  Literally stopped as in stood still, holding the prized gadget in my hand and in my mind I rephrased my statement.  I would like more of these but do I really need them?  No.

This one great working spatula is enough.

How many other things in life do I think I need more of?  Think is the key word.  What I think is not necessarily reality, but how I perceive reality.  Big difference.

Life would be easier with another spatula, I could argue.  Maybe. But that is one more gadget in the drawer and I wonder if I would still reach for the happy snowman spatula I received for Christmas in 2008. Life would be easier with more money.  Would it?  How many people win the lottery and end up miserable.

Life would be easier if...  fill in the blanks we can find all sorts of ways our current situation could change.

But we don't make one change in a vacuum, do we?  If I change X then it will impact Y.  (This from a self-proclaimed mathphobe..but I did love science...)  Perhaps sometimes instead of always wanting more, better, different, it is more appropriate to be content, to allow ourselves to experience a situation fully rather than seek to tweak it.

As happens to me frequently, in that moment where I literally stopped and asked myself if I needed a spatula, I thought of a Bible verse that has nothing to do with food or cooking but everything to do with having enough.

2 Corinthians 12:9, But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (NIV)

I don't need more of anything else because with God's grace, what else is there to need?

If only I could be that satisfied, content and appreciative of all that I do have. Instead, I want another this and more of that. More and different would change the current situation and perhaps in that change whatever unrest I felt would go away?  If I let myself be still, accepting and content, there might be times of anxiety or frustration.  (What if I need to use the spatula and it's dirty?  Gasp!  I would have to wash it..by hand.)

My challenge in life right now is to relax into the knowledge that I can choose to trust in God and His grace to provide rather than trying to fill my life with widgets which will only get in the way.  I can choose to pray and believe and accept that I have a purpose and that God can use all for good and that yes, His grace is sufficient for me.

May you also feel that freedom to trust that there will be enough of what you need.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Snow Country Dreamin'

I live in an area maligned for its weather.  Whenever the Bills play and the weather is cold and ahem snowy, the announcers highlight the area's weather like it's a bad thing.

I have to tell you, I grew up in the Adirondack mountains and the cold and snow make me happy.

This year, the Snow Miser has been noticeably absent from my scene and it has made me and the rest of my little family sad.  We have waited for the forecaster's predictions of snow only to be disappointed.  Sunday night and Monday they were predicting we might get 4 - 8 inches of the glorious frozen whiteness...we got a dusting.  This morning we woke up to a couple of inches.  The snow band went south of us.  (I need to move south to get snow...)

When I was a little girl, I would go to sleep imagining I was camping in the wilderness or something like that as I went to sleep.  I was always pretending something, being a mom or a doctor or one of Charlie's Angels, so I guess pretending to be camping out under the stars wasn't so odd.  (It wasn't!)

Last night I wasn't pretending, but as I drifted off to sleep I thought about how wonderful it would be to be falling asleep in a more rural setting, more snowy and more self-sufficient.  I thought about how I would love to spend my days knitting, sewing, cooking and homeschooling, wearing cozy sweaters and wool socks (that I knit myself. :) ) and working toward common goals as a family.  I'm sure in my mind I romanticized the self-sufficiency a little (or a lot).

The truth is, cold weather and snow inspire me to create and dream and embrace life.  Maybe the cold makes me more snuggly or maybe I'm just a cold weather type woman.  In the heat of summer, I'm crabby and sluggish.  In the winter, even with less sunlight, I am energized by the brisk air, the crunch of the snow and the quiet of a world wrapped in white.  (And my allergies aren't going haywire either. ;) )

I know that we should all bloom where we are planted.  I love the cold and snow and while my situation isn't exactly what I dream about, it is close enough. (I can knit and cook and play in the snow with my beasties, even if I'm not in a secluded cabin.) If we had to, I would find a way to make the best of a more temperate climate, but it would not be something I would choose.

However...I'm dreamin' of a little more snow, so if someone could direct the Snow Miser this way, I would be grateful.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Tub Scrubbin' Monday

That's right, Monday is officially bathroom cleaning day in our house.

Aren't you so excited to know that?  I could have taken a picture of myself wielding the toilet brush but I didn't have a camera or my ipod handy. (Sounds unsanitary.)  I know it's sad for you, but buck up and just imagine it.

Last night I sat down with some paper and made a list of  all the little things I want and need to accomplish in a day, a week and a month and then I applied them to my handy dandy handmade chart.

Just making the chart made me a little bit twitchy, not the drawing it up with my trusty ruler and mechanical pencil.  No, it was the actual act of assigning chores and actions to times that made me pause and umm wonder if I really want to do this.

The truth is I'm not so sure I want to have a list of tasks for each day, but instead of lamenting what I don't get done, I decided to take a little responsibility and see what I can get accomplished each day.  I penciled in chores and exercise, making menus and cooking meals.  I wrote in hitting the instrument of torture treadmill and I wrote in homework and have not planned anything for my MOPS mornings.

Most importantly, I planned time with the littles who are not in school, time I will be sure to do crafts and activities with them.  That sounds bad doesn't it, that I have to make a note to do that?  It's not that I don't usually, but that part of living my life more intentionally is recognizing the things I value and making sure I do them.  Too frequently I go to bed and realize the missed opportunities, the games not played, the crafts undone, the laughter not shared and all because I am distracted and wasting time.

Tub Scrubbing Monday is symbolic of the new goals and the new plan and the desire to live intentionally and well. It is the desire to do the small things I do for my family faithfully and to the best of my ability.

 Luke 16:10 states,  "If you are faithful in small things you will be faithful in large things." My goal is to be faithful in the little things because they all add up to the big things, which is the life I have been given.

Can I tell you how good it feels to site here typing, in my apron, barefoot at my kitchen counter while chocolate chip cookies cool, knowing my bathrooms are sparkly clean?  It feels awesome.  Maybe all I need to get out of my funk is to do the little things.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

My 2012 Theme..

This morning I decided that this song, "Do Everything" by Steven Curtis Chapman, should be my theme song for 2012.

If I do this, do everything I do for the glory of the One who made me...I will be on the right track, or at least heading in a better direction.

I started off the new year with a new One Year Bible and the plan to read it every day.  I like that it has readings from the Old Testament, New testament, Proverbs, and Psalm each day.  I like that I haven't missed a day yet.

I have been reading online about different schedules people follow to get their lives organized.  I need that.  It will help me stop feeling like I'm in crisis mode all the time.  I do laundry every day and dishes (well, the Husband does most of the dishes), but there are other chores I don't do frequently enough and I waste a lot of time that could be better spent so I need to get my act together.

My goals for the coming year are to stay on track with the One Year Bible, to do the treadmill daily (fell off that wagon), get the house more organized through schedules and planning and to just see the gifts in each day.

One of those gifts is connecting with you here.  I hope to write more and to here from you more. (I love feedback and I love hearing your perspective, too.)  I hope to write more on some other projects, too which is one of the reasons I need to become a better manager of the 24 hours I am given each day.

More than anything, I hope to do everything I do to please God.  It really isn't complicated but it can be difficult to recognize that what I want may not be pleasing to Him nor is it truly beneficial to me or anyone else in the long run.  What we do, in the little and big things, really does matter.  We touch so many people and we don't even realize our impact.  I pray that I make more positive impacts than negative.

I pray that 2012 is full of gifts and opportunities and blessings for you and me and all of us.  May we love each other as He loves us.

"..Do everything you do for the glory of the One who made you, cuz He made you to do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to his face, tell the story of grace with every move that you make.."