"I hold on to You for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post..." Psalm 63

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Every thought captive...

We've packed exactly three boxes.
Actually, the credit goes to my two youngest kids..."Pack a box" was added to their "to-do" list the other day.  I found a book in one of those boxes {yes, I actually looked through the box of books...not sure why I didn't look while still on the shelf, but nonetheless...}  I was looking for something new to read during my quiet reading time in the morning {Notice: Alex getting a job has been VERY good for me.  Both of our alarms go off at 6am and I actually get out of bed, make him some breakfast and pack his little lunch box.  Then I fight the strong urge to go back to bed and instead take a cup of coffee out to the porch to read...if you know me well..you know this is progress...}

Anyway, I pulled a book out called, "Every Thought Captive" by Jerusha Clark.  I have no idea where I got it, or when, but I've never cracked the spine open on it, so it sounded like a good choice.  It's a book for women, written by a woman who has struggled with self-worth, believing the lies of the world and understanding God's LOVE.   As we've been dealing with alot of issues among our girls in youth group in the area of self-worth and understanding how God sees us, this book has come at an opportune time.  {Not to mention there is a certain someone in my house in the full-blown middle school years who has messages of the lying kind being thrown at her daily}

I'm an underliner. 
As I read, I underline...{not to be confused with a highlighter-I prefer not to change the color of the page, just draw attention to what sticks out at me}  Here's today's underlined thought:

"The heart of life is this: to make the LORD and His immense LOVE for you constitutive of your personal worth.  Define yourself radically as one beloved by God.  God's love for you and His choice of you constitute your worth.  Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life."

I confess that I had to stop and google the word "constitutive"...I just wasn't getting it in this sentence. 

Constitutive: Making a thing what it is.

I like that. 
Interestingly, as I'm reading this with many teenage girls in mind, I'm realizing that I constantly need to relearn this, too.  How often do I look in the mirror and not like what I see, or do I look at my life and think it doesn't measure up???  Too often.  If I'm completely honest with myself, I define so many things based on the way the world around me says I should. 
 So, then, I guess the world is constituting my self worth...not God.  Will I ever really get it?  You'd think by now I would.

The phrase "define yourself radically by one beloved by God" really stuck out at me, too.  I use the word "radical" often when I pray for my kids faith.  I remember talking with a mother who's kids have grown {and into some very fine Christian young people, I might add}...when I made mention of my appreciation for one particular son who has far surpassed his years of rebellion, her comment to me was this:  "my children are radical.  They were radical in their rebellion, and now they are radical in their faith."  I will never forget that. I want this for my own kids and for the students I work with.  {I'll pass on the radical rebellion, please...but it was the radical rebellion that brought them to radical faith....}   

I'm only on page 33 in this book, and much of it is underlined- to be remembered and passed on.  The subtitle reads, "battling the toxic beliefs that separate us from the life we crave..."  
I guess I'm setting myself up for a good toxic cleansing. 
{Not to be mistaken for THIS kind of toxic cleansing}


the end

Sunday, June 27, 2010

painting and praying and painting...

I knew it had been a while, but I didn't realize a whole week had gone by since my last post until I saw that Father's Day was the last time I signed on here....looking back I guess this week went by pretty quickly. But day to day it surely was a drag that included a lot of this:

{help from Ali B}

more paint
{help from Kim B}
MORE and MORE paint
{help from Cait and Ana}

finally...the rollers have been stashed for another time {far FAR down the road}...I've turned them in for a brush.  STILL PAINTING, but this time I'm working on loads of furniture that I've wanted painted for a long time.  Better now, since I already have a bad attitude about paint- might as well get it all in while I'm on a roll {literally...I feel like I've been rolling for EVER}
While we were painting inside, Dad and Nick donated some time with the pressure washer.  Two years of "neglect" can take a toll on a house.  No one has paid alot of attention to the little things in the house while it's been empty.  So, as you can imagine, it's in need of a hearty cleaning inside and out.  The day I wash the paintbrushes for the FINAL time I will probably trade them in for a vacuum and a bottle of bleach. 
But the end is near...I can see it!

Believe it or not, I've actually had alot of solitude while I've been painting.  Other than the days that I had help in the house I have spent alot of alone time there.  {the kids prefer to stay home with a to-do list and pack a box or two, suprisingly they don't like to paint} 

I've had alot on my mind this week while I've been painting.  Some of the typical about-to-move thoughts {deep stuff, like "where should I put the couch?"} but also, some things that have laid heavy on my heart and that I couldn't seem to shake.  So I did alot of praying.  A few issues arose that just didn't sit well with me this week....conflict.  I hate conflict, and even though I know where to take it and Who knows the details and the answers, sometimes it just hangs onto my mind like the plague.  And, so, I pray some more.  I'm praying to LOVE more and JUDGE less...praying to forgive and forget...praying to seek joy and not justification.  And, it's working.  Prayer takes my mind off my own need to be understood and makes me focus on something other than ME.  It's not always easy...frankly, it's easier to dwell on the conflict, but that solves nothing at all.  Prayer seems to be the only thing that keeps my focus where it's supposed to be.  And so I have needed to spend alot of time praying whilst I spent alot of time painting this week.

There is some kind of Divine planning in that, perhaps... 

{My grandparents had this picture hanging in their home...my sister has one now...I just happened upon it on google - reminds me so much of my grandparents and their deep commitment to praying for each of us by name daily.  I wonder what was lost by way of prayer covering on the day that they passed.  It is a great legacy they have passed on...one I can only hope to do half as consistently as they did.}

The week ahead is looking a little familiar.  I'll be getting up and painting again tomorrow...and the next day apparently.  I feel less pressure to finish this painting - it could be completed after moving day- but still...I'm sure I'll be painting, again.  I'm feeling like I need something new to pray about, though...it's a new week and I need a new focus.  So I'm shifting my thoughts in a different direction.  Something a little less heavy.  Next week at this time Nick and I will be packed up for a weeklong trip to Kentucky.  We're attending a huge youth conference with our youth group.  This is the third one of these conferences that I've been on and I'm excited to see what the Lord will do among the students we are taking.  Francis Chan is our main speaker.  I've blogged about him before and my deep respect for his ministry here.  It's an exciting week for the students, many will be convicted and changed by words of Truth.  Our students are hungry for God, and yet not all of them see that He is the answer to their empty searching.  The world is knocking hard against them and some don't even recognize it.  It'll be a refreshing week {for me, too} to leave behind responsibility and conflict and enter into an arena where thousands of teenagers have gathered for the same purpose.  Ten hours in a bus and lots of coffee will start the week off late Monday evening. 
 I can't wait...these kids are awesome!
{I'll be blogging about it here}

Until then, you can find me here
...or there

...with paintbrush in hand.

 "Accept my prayer as incense offered to you,
and my upraised hands as an evening offering."
Psalm 141:2

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day...

Happy Father's Day to the one man who consistently has my back.
I love you!

"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed,
 and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society."
Billy Graham

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer came...

and ever since then, every minute of my day has been scheduled....
The last 36 hours looked something like this...

One last white-toothed grin on the way to the Orthodontist...again.

A little hooking up to some strange contraption

...and ALOT of metal later..
We have signed up for two more years of Orthodontist appointments, payment plans, and sore gums.   But this time, I can see the end in sight....she's the last, and then I plan to NEVER set foot in that office again.  {Sorry, Dr. Albright and fam, it's been great, but it'll be greater when we're outta there.}

The rest of our time has been spent running between two houses.  Painting at one and eating and sleeping in the other.  I don't know how the rich and famous keep up with multiple homes.  Perhaps they have hired help.  All I know is that right now my body is screaming at me.  After painting all day with two of my kids and two VERY generous friends {mom stopped by and went to hacking back all the overgrown bushes outside..} we managed to finish up the downstairs and get started on Emma's VERY PINK bedroom. 
 It wasn't that long ago that I was painting another room pink, but this time we went with a little darker shade just to change things up a little.  Kim and Ali went to town in her room- they're my heroes!!! 

I stayed downstairs and finished up the half bath and diningroom....

I finished up in time to race home and make dinner so that Nick could get to his softball game, which I opted out of in lieu of cleaning the kitchen, the fridge, the floor, the dishwasher, folding a pile of clothes, sweeping the porch, watering the flowers and falling into my hammock...which is where I type now. 
I'm totally beat....
which is why I can't think of anything sensible, sweet or funny to say. 


Monday, June 14, 2010

T-minus 26 hrs and counting....

I'm sitting in my favorite away-from-home corner...
I will miss this place.  I've not been here much in the last two months, but I guess I frequented the corner about once a week prior to that {Tamra at the counter confirmed that when she asked how I've been!}...it's my place to escape.  I've read, prayed, laughed, {probably cried} and had numerous amounts of coffee in this corner.
I will miss it...

This is where I sit as I type...my most favorite things surrounding me.  And, even though it's a public place, somehow it seems very private to me.  It's not quiet at all....there's background music playing, and if I wanted to listen, I could hear snippets of multiple conversations going on around me.  {Such as the cute old couple across from me who are enjoying lunch -at 10am} This morning I decided to hook up my headphones to itunes to further block out what's around me...so, as I type, The Canadian Tenors are singing "Hallelujah" to me. {check it out here} I have no idea what the song is about...I feel like I should probably investigate, but I like their sound.

Anyway...the point.  This is my last morning {mourning} here for a while. After a half day tomorrow, school is out for three months.  I can't in good conscience sit out here while the kids are at home.  AND, there are weeks of painting, packing and moving ahead of us.  So, today, I came to bid farewell to an old friend. 

As I reflect on this last school year and all that it held for my family, I see God's hand of Grace all around us.  Amidst transition and change God has been nearby satisfying, providing and nurturing us all.  His hands of protection and guidance brought Alex through his first year of college..helping him narrow down his plans for his future, cementing in him a calling for Youth Ministry He had placed on him several years ago.  He continues to provide for Alex's needs...almost NEVER in the way he hopes and almost NEVER at the rate of speed he hopes it to come...but isn't that just the way we learn to trust???  It is in the poverty of answers that we learn to still ourselves, wait and trust. 

He has been faithful to us at home also, as Nick has started driving on his own, continues to work through his high school years and is beginning to think of what to do next.  Nick has grown and matured this year in big ways....I see a young man emerging.  I'm beginning to see how a little boy with a strong will and stubborn spirit can use those same things for good.  I read Dr. Dobson's "The Strong-Willed Child" several times during Nick's early years...I finally get it!  God is slowly shaking all of "Nick" out of Nick...He's trying to fill him with Himself...and slowly, I am seeing a take-over. 

Emma has done her own share of growing up this year.  She is the typical youngest child - full of life and laughter {even amidst the moody middle school years!}...her eyes have been opened to alot of new things this year.  Not all of those things have been easy...these are truly formative years.  She sees everything around her....and is learning how to be set apart.  And it's not easy...not when the world around you is relentless in its pursuit of your heart, soul and body.  But, our Faithful God continually reminds me He is bigger, He loves her more, and He is at work in her impressionable heart.  She is beautiful...but beauty can catch us off guard.  It's been a year of whispering over and over that it is God who creates our beauty...it's not from anything our own hands have done.  It is His gift...but there is one who hounds us around every corner who wants to use it as a curse.  He is behind the world's relentless pursuit...but he is second rate to the One who holds her heart.  

SIGH....the Grace and Kindness of the Lord has been all around me this year.  More than I've realized till just now.  When I look at the past twelve years of raising my kids alone I see His touch all around us.  I am so aware of my inability to do it well...to pour in them all that I know and feel and desire for them to learn.  I lack the correct words and the correct ways to teach them.  But, I've lacked them all of my life....and will lack them until my last breath.  It is my constant reminder that on my own I cannot accomlish anything well.  Because I know my empty attempts...I can appreciate His fullness. 

At the beginning of this school year it was my plan to set aside a little time to rediscover God's plans and directions in my life...and then to go after them and end the year with a job and a paycheck.  Again I've discovered that even the best laid plans are not really in my control.  It's been a year of refreshment and discovery, and I've found some things inside me I didn't know were there.  I've discovered more of the ME I lost years ago...the ME I chose to overlook in pursuit of other things.  And, while I'd hoped for a clear map and highlighted path to follow by this point, what I've ended up with is a simple request, "Just wait, and be faithful to whatever I put in front of you today...trust Me...and be content".
 And, so...I continue to seek, search and LIVE. 
It's been a very good year...
As I've typed, my music has changed several times...ending in the one that's playing in the background just moments ago. Very fitting. We are good fodder for the Lord to show He is faithful, that's for sure!

"You're good and your faithfulness goes on and on and on and on and on...
your mercy goes on and on and on and on and on and on....
You are good...
You are good."
{Sportin vintage shades at Mommalicious after warm donuts on Saturday}

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Disbanding and destroying....

So, the theme of this week is

After 4 very long years of orthodontic treatment, Nick has finally been disbanded!  Since he was a toddler, he's hated posing for pictures, so I had to settle for a quick snap on my phone...I'm guessing when he sees these he might wish he had sat still and posed. 
Sorry, Nick..a mom's gotta preserve memories one way or another.

this picture is actually after the bands were off - cleaning up the nasty four year old glue....Dr. Albright pulled them off so fast I didn't even know it was done.  Shoot!  Missed a photo op.
sorry, Nick...but at least your teeth look great! 
 Nice facelift.
We've begun a facelift of another sort this week, too.  After months of getting my house ready, keeping it clean, showing it and selling it...and after purging the garage last weekend
 it is finally time to start the "fun stuff". 
I started in the kitchen...

...no more wallpaper...
more pictures to follow....these are just the ones that were on my phone.  I had several helpers this week. Thanks Jess and mom!  We're headed back there this morning after breakfast.  I learned about THIS PLACE yesterday and thought it makes a good bribing tool to start my kids day of work.  Hot, handmade donuts...I think so!  So, after The Fractured Prune indulgence, we're back for more painting and scraping.
I'm seeing the end in sight....
pretty soon we'll be looking for the best price for one of these:

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Random thoughts of yesterday...

It was a good day...
I still hate doing yard sales - not much could happen to change that- but on this end of the day it was not all that bad. All in all the last two days went pretty well...sold ALOT and got to see some familiar faces...like my blogging friends Janelle, Jeane and Deanna, some former Lulu & Tutz customers, high school friends and a few unexpected new faces....

TOTALLY unexpected faces....
like this guy who set up shop across the street from us!

I laughed outloud at the kitchen window this morning when I looked out and saw this Chinese man selling Egg Rolls and Fried Rice on the street corner...
SERIOUSLY, you have no idea how funny this is...the Village of Strasburg has its first street vendor!  The guy made out better than some of the yard sales, I think.  You just have to support a guy who has the creativity to scope out the neighborhood sales and set up shop in the center of it all!  Thumbs up for the egg rolls {till about an hour later} but I've had better fried rice...but not from a street vendor.
Props to you, Egg roll man.

I also had a visit from the {old} guy down the street whom I've met on many occasions, but still doesn't remember me.  When we had the shop down the street he used to ride his little John Deere bike to the square and stop in and say hello.  At first I thought he came in to see me {I have a knack for attracting senior citizen men -story for another post}....but then I realized that every encounter is like the first to him.  {the kind of stuff the movie "Fifty First Dates" was made out of} Anyway, I met him again yesterday, chatted and said goodbye {"I'll meet you again tomorrow, dude...same time, same place, same name, same everything....just new to you"} Love something about that simple man...he's a sad soul, but lucky for him he doesn't know it....or at least he won't remember it till tomorrow.

By far, though, my most favorite encounter this weekend was with this girl...

I saw her approaching my yard sale from a distance and did a double take.  She is the spitting image of a very close friend of mine who moved to Macedonia a few years ago as a missionary.  She thinks I'm a crazy woman, but I did manage to convince her to take a picture with me so that I could post it here.
 Check her out!  She's shorter than you, but she looks more like you than your own sisters do!!!  She no doubt  could be your stunt double in your next major motion picture....
She made me smile...
It was a pretty good day all around.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

....only because I have to...

I LOVE yard sales...I LOATHE doing them.

But the time has come, and I can't put it off any longer.  This weekend our Street is having their annual yard sale and along with the items I've purged from my house, we are selling off the contents of our shop,
 Lulu & Tutz {find us here}.  There is literally a garage FULL of stuff....and it must go away.

The next 3 days my schedule is filled with an Orthodontist appointment for my son, yard work at the new house, visiting a friend who just had surgery, attending my sister's graduation {woot woot!}, several graduation/farewell parties, and hours and hours of pricing and organizing for the yard sale.  I'm dragging my feet because I HATE what lies ahead in my garage!  But...I must liquidate!

for those of you who have asked to be informed, the sale is scheduled- whether I like it or not!

Friday and Saturday, June 4 &5  8am-??
125 Miller Street

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