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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It happens every year..

this feeling I get that makes me want to rebel.
I feel it every year...

Right about the time we start gathering our recipes for Thanksgiving dinner,
the retail megaphones start blurting out all the things we need to accumulate to be 
happy
normal
hip
cool
Trees are cut,
 lights are strung,
 music about a baby and a Santa, blares

And we are brainwashed into thinking that we deserve to make 
wish lists

"Who decided that on Jesus birthday WE should receive gifts to people who are not in need?"

I am not in need
my children are not in need
my family is not in need
my friends are not in need...

We are in want
but not in need.

I have met people in great need this year
some who are homeless
some who are alone
some who really and truly have next to nothing
some who have suffered through deaths...

They are the ones who deserve to make lists...

And when I read THIS this morning
and see the tiny children growing up so...right...
I regret that I have not always felt this way...
that it is only in the last decade of years or so
that my eyes have slowly shifted off my own household
and on to another's.

My children have not always known a mom who thinks to bless outside our home before we bless those inside it.  I can only trust that the mom they remember is the one of their teenage years...
I trust they remember me, not as the one who took away their Christmas
but the one who showed them Christmas...
better late than never...

I'm still figuring it all out
how to give beyond what I can 
but not feel the burden to do everything all at one time 

Who decided that Christmas was the one time of year that we feel all 
CHRISTmasy and giving
and the rest of the year we don't?

What do we really need this year?
I know the answer to that for my own family...
and it's not popular
and it seems all Scroogey
but it's not...

It's Jesus
and only Jesus.

This is my journey...not meant to condemn or judge another's 
it's putting down thoughts on a page
and letting the words fall as they may..

So that I remember..
so that my children pick up where I left off someday...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Just one...

The house is quiet and still
I sit in the comfort of my own four walls
and occasionally fill my cup of coffee 
or indulge in a second bowl of cereal...
because I can.

I am captivated and mesmerized by the book on my lap
it is breaking me
causing tears to fall with almost every page...
the words, written in fine print, are as if in BOLD

They are challenging me and convicting me
they are words that read as if extracted from my own thoughts...
but they are being lived out by someone else,
while I sit in comfort and read them.

I'm not sure I've ever read a book that has cut me deeper

Day after day, as I find time to read on,
as I underline and trace the words into my heart,
I am humbled...

I am not who I want to be.

I'm reading things like this:

"I am living in the midst of the uncertainty and risk, amid things that can and do bring physical destruction, because I am running from things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort, and ignorance.  I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy."

and this:

"The truth is that if only 8% of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics {of needy, starving children} left.  This is the truth.  I have the freedom to believe it.  The freedom, the opportunity to do something about it.  The truth is that He loves these children just as much as He loves me and now that I know...I am responsible."

and this:
"In so many places, we sit in church and talk about compassion, unimaginable love, revival.  
And then an hour later, we are STILL sitting there talking about it..."

And God has this to say to me:
"The smallness you feel comes from within you.  
Your lives aren't small, but you're living them in a small way.  
I'm speaking as plainly as I can with great affection.  
Open up your lives. 
 Live openly and expansively!"
II Corinthians 6:10

And even though I KNOW...
the answer is not to fly to Africa and leave the ones He's called me to love here and now..
I still ask...
What do you want from me?  
I am not to take lightly the fact that the words in this book break me.

  Breaking without action = nothing {NO GOOD THING}

As the BOLD letters form words that speak,
He whispers with them...
"choose one today"

He calls me to one
One at a time...here

And it's not a coincidence that just "one" stood in front of me yesterday...
she thanked me 
she stood carrying tiny life inside of her...
and she chose it
because one day...weeks ago...
she took a test that said "Positive"
and sat wide-eyed with fear
listening to Jesus 
use my mouth 
to form words that whispered hope to "one".

I had almost forgotten about her in the crowd of many since...
but she returned, 
this time with a smile
and 
a hug....
and said
Thank you for helping me save my baby.

I almost cried as she hugged me
because the hug was from Him...
He needed me to know that there's work to be done right where I am
and He's in it
and He's doing it..

It is not enough...
there are many more who need to be the next "one"..

I have hope that a day will come when I return to a place that stole part of my heart..
when what I know HERE will help "one" THERE...

But today,
I'm only given "one"...
I pray I will see her and not pass her by....

{I'm reading this:}
"I knew that I was here just to love...
and the rest I would figure out in time"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

iphones and skype dates...

So, I've been debating about trading my current smart phone in for the iphone3 which is now free at AT&T. 

 Yesterday, over coffee with a former student, the debate went something like this:

"My phone has issues...sometimes the touch screen responds, sometimes it doesn't.  
Maybe I should upgrade and bid it ado."

"But, it does still work, and except for the fracture crack in the corner, it's not a total disaster"

"It's free, so why not?"

"But, I don't NEED a new phone, so I think I should just be content with what I am blessed to have"

"But, the camera on this phone drives me insane and takes such lousy pictures."
{See, I'm not making it up}

My friend, Cate, who always has answers to my technologically challenged questions, agreed that this picture was in fact, messed up.  In an attempt to give wise advise and knowledgeable input, she grabbed my phone to see if she could change the camera settings.

"Well, here's you're problem...see all that lint in the camera lens?"

{yeah, yeah...I see it.}

Not one of my finer moments.  
All my dreams of being smart and fancy just went out the coffee shop window.

In other news, my dad is in Kenya, and I'm jealous.  
He sent this the other day just to rub it in our faces.
So rude.

My parents are learning how to date again during the length of his trip.
They call it their "skype date".
I guess that's cute.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Giveaway HERE..NOW...

Just so you know...there's an awesome giveaway at my friend's blog.
SO you should go there now...
just cause.

Catch up...

I can't count the many times I've wanted to sit and update on here, but haven't.  There's reasons for this, and I'm just coming to terms with them.  

The biggest being that I am strapped to the {antique} home computer.  
And this is why...
Did you know that one of these
can completely destroy, blitz, fry your laptop if placed in one of these

{that's a USB port on your computer, if you don't know}

Let's review.
This, in your USB port:

NO...
This
or this in your USB port:

YES!

You don't even need to have small children in your home to be concerned about such things.  You can even have big-boy teenagers in your home and STILL be concerned about such unfortunate accidents happening to your laptop.  {The one you spent months saving up for and used all day, every day}

Big-boy teenager is busy saving up to replace said laptop.  
It'll be a while at the rate he's saving.

I'm trying not to be bitter...it's just a computer-not a life. 
{lifeline, maybe...but that's my own issue}

I've learned a few things on account of this unfortunate incident:
1) Keep all keys in the garage near the vehicles they belong to.
2) Keep in mind that accidents happen and be prepared for them at all times.
3) Show grace, even when your teenagers do things that are nothing short of stupid.
4) Show grace, even when you are sitting in a very hard chair, trying to download pictures onto your antique computer...all the while remembering how quickly they popped up when you were sitting across the room on the comfy couch with your laptop... 
5) Bite your tongue and shut your mouth when you are tempted several times a day to remind the 18 year old, who blitzed the laptop, how much you miss it.
6) Never get too used to being spoiled by conveniences...often, right before your very eyes, you see it vanish.  Kaput. 

It's hard to admit...but, I suppose I've learned that less time on the computer is good, too.  Even though I miss checking facebook and emails quickly, downloading pictures and catching up on blogging...I've learned that I CAN do with less of the above...{I admit, I just don't want to}  It's a daily struggle to die to my desires.  And I have a teenager to thank for it...but, shhh...don't tell him- he would enjoy knowing that his impulsive action caused a positive reaction.

So there you have it.  Reason #1 why I spend much less time updating the blog.  Since I'm here, and since it took about two hours to download these pictures, I might as well share a glimpse of what we've been up to in the last month...
We entered a Father/Daughter Amazing Race

{came in 2nd place...but only because running wasn't involved}

We took a trip to VA to check out a perspective college w/three of the grandchildren
 {Hey, there's that 18 year old...he looks so harmless, doesn't he?}

The grandchildren loved the campus 
and the time spent goofing off together...


Attended the wedding of a good friend of mine who's been single for a long time
{There is hope, right?!}
 We had another birthday in the family...this time, the daughter had the audacity to turn 15.  
Sheesh.


Just the other day..
Homecoming..


It's never really dull or boring around here..
and I wouldn't want it any other way.  
From the key in the usb, to the birthdays, to playing dress-up for a night...
it's all good.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Fastest Birthday Breakfast EVer...

18 years ago today my second child was given to us.
He was the easiest delivery of all 
looked like my dad
had a great head of hair
came out talking...
ready to argue his case.
By the time actual words were formed,
he was hoarse...not kidding.

So this morning, in honor of this little devilish imp
who has turned into a young man who is his mother's joy
we ALL{insert shock and awe} 
gathered around the table before school
and had a little birthday breakfast

Shortest birthday celebration ever...

6:30 am
Alarm goes off

6:42 am
Supplies are laid out



7:01 am
Zombie arrives from the basement

7:05 am
Sister arrives, needing help with a braid

7:06 am
Birthday Boy emerges from the shower


7:11 am
Birthday boy arrives to the party, not completely awake but fully dressed for school

7:12 am
Following all of our birthday well-wishes, we eat





7:13-7:18 am
We eat and laugh over stories of the impish boy-turned young man 

7:19 am
We gather to pray a blessing over the Birthday Boy

7:22 am
We all gather in the garage to see the Birthday Boy and the Sister head off to school.

7:23 am
The zombie retires back down to the basement

7:26 am
Kitchen is cleaned up and another day is well on its' way...

Happy Birthday, Nick...
You are worth celebrating every day of the year!
I love you...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

All is grace...

Today
This moment
This day
this day of waiting for conveniences to return to my home,
having bathed with a box of wipes 
washed my hair with a gallon of bottled water
dressed by the light of a lantern 


EVEN today
All is Grace...


{Pause music before clicking on link}

Monday, August 29, 2011

still "flex-ing"...

It's been a while...my keys are a bit cob-webbed.  Life has kept us at a pace and sitting and writing some days seems a waste of my time.  But, in keeping with the theme of my last post, I figured I'd remind myself that I'm again in the state of being flexible.  

We are 36 hours in the wake of Irene and still waiting for our power to come back on. And, if I let myself go there {which I MIGHT have done once or twice} I could really begin to hate Irene and her wrath.  Honestly, I KNOW we have minor MINOR damage to contend with.  Other than lots of limbs down in the backyard and leaves plastered everywhere, we have pretty much come out unscathed.  It could be worse...for sure.

But, I'm shallow enough to think that 36 hours without electricity and water is a big deal.  Being inconvenienced just makes me stew.  And I know that's not okay. 

So I figure that if I write it all out here and get it out of my system, then maybe it'll go away and I'll remember that I'm supposed to be flexible and get a grip.

Today is my kids first day of school.  
It's Nick's last first day of High School and Emma's first day of High School.  
And, because it's ideal to start the first day of school clean, we slept over at my parent's house last night.  
{I almost took it for granted- that's a blessing and something to be thankful for, now, isn't it?}
None of us slept well, which is not the ideal way to start the year off.  
{But, we did have beds, and that's something}  

There are certain traditions that I wanted to keep up with...and new ones I had hoped to start.  
But I'm feeling just kind of "off", you know?  Out of my element.  
And so the things I'd hoped to start out with this morning just didn't happen.  
{Although I happened to overhear my dad take Emma aside and pray over her day, 
and that's something that he would not have been able to do if we'd been getting ready in our own house...
so that's something to be thankful for, too.}


After dropping the kids off at school I stopped by the house to see if there's any clean-up happening down the road.  The source of the power outage is a huge tree that fell, taking wires down with it.  The tree AND the lines are still down.  The street is deserted...no bucket truck or flashing lights in sight.  

According to the PPL website, none will be seen for at least another day or two...or more:
"We estimate power to most customers in your area will be back on by 5:30 PM on 08/31/2011. This repair estimate is based on the latest information available, and could change if repairs are more difficult than anticipated. 
Thank you for your patience."

I'm trying...I'm trying to be patient, really I am.  
I'm trying to be flexible and not get grumpy over the fact that things are just not the way I planned for them to be this week.  I'm trying to remember that a few states over from us are people who have been WAY more inconvenienced than me. 

I'm trying to remember to be grateful for the fact that I'm sitting outside on my parents patio 
USING WIRELESS
 CLEAN FROM A RECENT SHOWER
WAITING FOR THE DRYER TO RUN ITS CYCLE
ENJOYING A CUP OF COFFEE

And if I have to do it all over again tomorrow
and the next day
{heaven forbid}
then, I can 
and I will.

I spent the better part of a week in the 
African jungle two summers ago.
No running water {EVER}
No electricity {EVER}
No coffeepot with an on-switch
No bathroom with flush mechanism
No little button for my garage door
No freezer
No sink
No wireless
No computer
No modern convenience of ANY kind...
and it was OKAY.

I WAS OKAY...
{Truth be told, I loved every minute of it}

SO, to myself I will say
SUCK
IT
UP
And find a place of continuous joy
even if it means being flexible
again

This too shall pass...

"Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory
 that is greater than anything we can imagine."
II Corinthians 4:17

Monday, August 15, 2011

flexibility...

Summer is waning...
Already the days are getting shorter
About this time every August, I begin to feel like I'm grasping at air...
warring between the desire to be back on a schedule 
and the desire to keep everyone nearby

This summer has been different in so many ways
the addition of my job has brought on schedule conflicts that we've never had to deal with before.
And while I LOVE my job
I don't love being on opposite schedules with my kids...
I need a Master Scheduler just to find a few minutes a week where 
all of us are in the house at the same time...
It's happened, but not often.

The up sides are obviously a paycheck and being intentional about connecting...
and really, it's all good...just something we're getting used to.

The other day the family had a picnic at the park for my sister's birthday...
my nieces wanted to do something special for their mom, 
so they made us all a Birthday picnic lunch...
BEST EVER 

We reminisced about how long it had been since we'd picnic'd with our kids there...
used to be what we did often, just to get them out of the house and give them something to do
Picnic fare used to be PB&J with no crust, made by moms

Now it looks more like this:

Grilled chicken wraps and veggie salads 
made by Eden...

Also, I'm pretty sure that in the old days
 we used to hover around the merry-go-round
when everyone got on...
just making sure no one fell off.

These days, it looks more like this:
{and us watching on, laughing}

Having grown {and growing} kids is a strange phenomenon...
You never know that it's "the last time" for something
until later...
till they haven't done something for a long time 
and then you see them do it again...

My nieces and nephews surprised my sister with a sentimental token 
priceless with the name of each child...

I think we'll look back on this summer and remember it fondly.
It brought new challenges to adjust to
but it was good to us.

There are about 13 1/2 more days of summer in my house
and I plan to squeeze out as much of it as possible.
It won't always be easy, but we'll have to do what we can...
things like making dinner at 1:50 in the afternoon
 because it's the only time we're all in the same place.

All in the name of being flexible

"If you haven't time to respond to a tug at your pants leg, your schedule is too crowded."
Robert Brault

Saturday, August 6, 2011

To God Alone...

I was reading something interesting this morning, and thought I'd process through it here....hoping not to offend anyone, but there are no guarantees.

I'm slowly reading through the book of Genesis, and doing a little "research" along the way on some things I've never really stopped to process through before.

This morning I was reading Genesis 35, the death of Jacob's wife, Rachel, 
while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin.  Rachel was Jacob's favorite wife. 
 {He got duped into marrying her sister, Leah, because she was the oldest sister and was unmarried at the time that Jacob THOUGHT he was marrying Rachel.  A switch was pulled, and Jacob found himself married to the sister of the woman he loved...creepy.  So he worked for 7 more years for Rachel's father in exchange for her hand in marriage.  Though he cared for Leah and her children, Rachel was his favorite...
and the mother of his favorite son, Joseph}

So, Rachel dies and Jacob {now called Israel} sets up a pillar over her tomb near Bethlehem.  Some say there are 13 stones placed over her tomb-one placed there by each of Jacob's sons.
I've read this before, but this time, this phrase caught my attention:

"...and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb..."

Really?  There's a pillar marking her tomb STILL?  Or just at the time of the writing of Genesis?
So, I went to Google and started searching for Rachel's tomb.

And, in fact, there are countless entries on Rachel's tomb
"Kever Rochel"

Apparently, this is the 2nd holiest site in Judaism...which I found very interesting...
and honestly, somewhat confusing.
With all the wanderings and miracles of Jesus life and earthly death-
the 2nd holiest place belongs to Rachel?

I did a little virtual tour of Rachel's tomb...
which has since had a whole building built around it.
And I found it interesting that people will travel all over the world to enter the tomb so that they can 
pray to Rachel {who is deceased}.
They also receive letters from all over the world from those who cannot travel there.

The prayers are from women who are barren {like Rachel was for years}
They are prayers for healing.
Prayers from the lost and the troubled.

I mean no disrespect...
I love tradition and symbolism.
But, I wonder if anyone who visits "Kever Rochel" ever thinks about the fact that she is not really there.
I wonder if it would make a difference for them to know that Rachel served God.
And the God she served IS still there.

Rachel is deceased
God is alive.
And yet, the prayers bypass God...
and get "sent" to Rachel.

That troubles me.

And I can't help but wonder how God feels about it.
But, I think I already know...

"So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. 
There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."
Hebrews 4:16

Jesus death gave us complete access to God.  Where there once was a veil of tradition and law that separated man from God- at the death of Jesus, we have open access to Him.  Any other route to Him is useless.  He invited us to come boldly to HIM...because it is HE who holds the power to hear and to answer.

While I GREATLY respect the lives of those who have gone on before me.  And desire to take part in the great heritage of women who have followed God...I know that they can no more answer my prayer than the next person.  They have gone on.  They reside in heaven with God...but they have not become God.

Only God has the power to 
hear
see
know
understand
heal
change

I recently visited a Muslim Mosque.
And, like this tomb of Rachel, I found it interesting how committed the followers are to their religion.
They speak of their faith with great excitement and passion.
But, like Rachel's tomb, there was something missing...

It was the One True God,
Father, Spirit, Son...in ONE 
the Maker of heaven and earth
the One who WAS
 and IS
 and forever WILL BE.

I fear how deceived we have become. 
I wonder what it will take for us to stop looking to other things, people and places to become our gods...and see GOD. 

"Before ME every knee will bow;
   by ME every tongue will swear.  They will say of ME, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.’” All who have raged against Him will come to Him and be put to shame.  But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the LORD and will make their boast in Him."
Isaiah 45



"To God alone be Glory"

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Surviving...

Summer
This is how we do it...
This past week the heat was almost UNBEARABLE...

Lukewarm pool water got us through...

We've also completed Week One 
with our sweet Japanese student, Ren
We're continually surprised to see what is so normal to us
through her eyes...
We're learning a lot about her
and a lot about us...
And it is good.

This weekend we played "tourist" in our own town 
we enjoyed seeing her delight over what is to us, almost invisible
like back roads...
and the Amish...
and farms...
and covered bridges...
and farm animals...
we discovered we could stay all day in our own town and spend
nothing but $1 on a water sold by Amish children and a 1/4 tank of gas...
and actually LIKE it...
Summer...
It suits us fine.
"Summer is the time when one sheds one's tensions with one's clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit. A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all's right with the world."
Ada Louise Huxtable
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