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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sing your heart out...

Sometimes...
you just need to break out in song
By all means...
don't let anyone stop you.
{Sing}
like no one is watching...
so that those who are watching
can sing too.


"The only thing better than singing is more singing."


Friday, March 25, 2011

Today...


I choose to:
Give up 
the bitterness, the anger, the sadness
for what isn’t,
that you wish you had.
And embrace the gift of what you do have.
For therein is really what you want more of:
Joy.”
{Elizabeth Elliot}

I chose it yesterday
and will choose it again tomorrow.
Someone asked me recently what word I would want others to remember me by.
JOY
It's the one word that resonates inside me daily.
It's my choice..
One of the FRUIT of the SPIRIT placed in me at salvation...
it waits for me every day to pick it.
{ooh, ooh...pick me!}
It sits here at my table 
and here where I sit to read and be fed 

The working out of it is not as easy...
I can KNOW what is right
READ continually about what is right
but until I live it out hour by long hour
I am not really learning what it means to live in JOY.

For instance, 
Last night when my middle child tried to start a little fun in the kitchen 
by whopping me in the head with a bag of bread
and I reacted like an unleashed beast....
That was not choosing JOY.

Basically I stink at choosing it all the time...
But I WANT to
and that's a start.

So here it is,
Scenes from the last week of
 choosing JOY 
and
counting God's Gifts...

The following are in reaction to two boy-men who discovered they had
 inadvertently dressed alike:
notice the scowl on the oldest... 
the joy on the younger...
{the younger asking, "Mom, did you get me posing like a Hollister model?"} 
and the daughter who was not about to be left out of the shots... 
and the dog who just wants to be everyone's best friend... 
JOY...
The oldest, who upon seeing the above pics decided to SHAVE...
{Hearing The Hallelujah Chorus rising in crescendo in my head?} 
JOY!
conversations of the most important kind... 
man vs beast 
JOY!

Count them...
THREE bodies
In my driveway
Playing together
Just like the old days...
JOY!


Friday, March 18, 2011

Last week my parents took off on a cruise.
As the token door prize, we got to keep their dog.
I'm in the process of making t-shirts for the whole family
"My parents went on a cruise and all I got was this
STUPID
DOG
{Just kidding, mom and dad...he's a JOY.  Really}

The other day I found him lying on the stairs all sad and depressed;
Probably thinking he had been permanently placed in a very neutral-to-dogs-environment
and wondering how this fate befell him.
So I grabbed my camera and in an attempt to cheer him up
told him to smile for a photoshoot.


Not five minutes later I followed loud music into Alex's room...

We chatted for about ten minutes.
I told him his room was a pigsty
he told me about some more important things in his life.
Smiling, I left him to his 
heavy
 metal 
bass 
beating
On my way back upstairs I encountered THIS:
 And right at the top of the stairs I found THIS:
....next to THIS:
 Stomach juices/Stink Bug
And in the sunroom I found THIS:

About 2 1/2 minutes after I finished gagging scrubbing the floors 
I sanitized my hands and set out to make chicken salad....
At which time the animal reappeared asking to have a bite.

Seriously?  
You just yacked all over my house-
even after I tried to play nice and take pictures of you to cheer you up...
I'm pretty sure you will not be having people food.

For some unapparent reason all of this time
Josh Groban has been singing on my ipod.
Something about Angels being heard on high.
Not sure why there is still Christmas music on my ipod.

And only because I'm in the middle of doing THIS did it strike me funny.

Heavy metal music is playing loudly downstairs
canine is emptying the contents of his stomach upstairs
Christmas tunes are playing mindlessly 
canine begs to be filled again...

and laughter happens.

Counting...
#89 Spontaneous laughter because it's better than frustration
#90 Two full baskets of laundry...children are home
#91 Music that takes my heart to worship
#92 Turning the heat off!
#93 Being barefoot
#94 Hearing my children talk about their own God gifts

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NOT QUITE {Word-less Wednesday} Whispers of a Heavenly Father in the actions of an earthly one...


{A TRUE STORY}

One day a son asks his father:
"Daddy, will you run the marathon with me?"
The father answers yes and both run their first marathon together.
One day, the son asks his father if he wants to run the marathon with him again 
and the father answers yes.
 They both run the marathon together again.
Then one day the son asks his father:
"Daddy, will you run the Ironman with me?"
 (the Ironman is the toughest...it requires a 4km swim, 180km biking and 42km running).
The father says yes again.
This all sounds easy...but check this video

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1301819980936&comments

{Echoed in my mind as I cried through this entire video..}
"I'd do this for you..."
"I'd do this for you..."
"I'd do this for you..."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

How do our hearts respond?

When disaster strikes around the world and our hands cannot physically do anything to help, how do our hearts respond to tragedy at someone else's expense?  
Do they respond at all?  
I admit to being a late-comer to the news coverage in Japan.
My weekend was full and I'm not proud to say it became about ME and MY schedule and MY world.  
And not until yesterday did I sit down and really LOOK through eyes of compassion. 
How dare I?

While I cleaned my home for visitors, 
around the world there were real people trying to find their homes

while my home filled up with 
family 
and 
friends
there were real people searching desperately for theirs
life as they knew it a few days ago is gone
treasures stored up are broken and useless
{was there once a child in that empty basket?}

where once there was
 laughter
comfort
provision
safety
I imagine there is now a constant echo of
fear
resentment
anxiety
grief
hunger
bitterness

and for good reason...
life as it had been   
has changed.

displacement
and
deep, deep heartache
is everywhere
I cannot fathom such wrenching pain.
I've known my own
but with safety of 
home
family
clean water
food on the table
Never complete nothingness. 
Never.

But it can happen.
To any of us.
Anywhere.

The pictures remind me of
I saw firsthand in 2006 and again in 2008 how devastating a natural disaster can be on 

families
homes
churches
communities
whole cities

But I also witnessed what it looks like when many hands work together for the common good.
I saw people who should have been devastated
 and frankly no one would have blamed them 
if they'd curled up in the fetal position for an inordinate amount of time.

I saw these people helping one another.
They had NOTHING left
and yet they gave.

They were the most grateful people I've ever met.
They fed us voluminous amounts of food
out of what little they had.

They 
chose 
Joy

And it was unnatural.
But it was beautiful.

I don't know how to rectify in my head the amount that was lost
and I'd never EVER sugar coat by saying 
"eventually it will be okay again"

The grieving father, mother, sister, brother
don't need to hear that today.
Today there is deep pain.

But I can't help but wonder about the stories we have not yet heard.
Stories of HOPE that will rise out of the rubble
{all pictures taken from boston.com}
Children who will rise up and rebuild what was lost and broken.

This story is not fully written
There will come a day of redemption 
when all disaster will be made sense
on the other side.

But maybe not until then.
Today it just hurts 
and 
makes you feel helpless.

And I think that's ok...
it's where God's heart of compassion merges with ours
and begins a new thing inside of us.

"When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. 
"What a huge harvest!" he said to his disciples. 
"How few workers! On your knees and pray for harvest hands!"
Matthew 9:36


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Eyes wide open...


It's late
I drank lots of caffeine today
We lose an hour of sleep tonight

BUT

I've still got 
 as I record my daily God Gifts.

#66 The sun rising and birds singing outside the window

#67 Clean laundry, folded and piled up..and the hands who helped fold them

#68 New growth of green- sprouting after a rainy week

#69 The family gathered in on a rainy evening

#70 Written words on pages, aptly spoken to my heart

#71 The gathering of students and adults in our home, united for a common purpose

#72 The sound of prayers echoing off the walls as hearts bow in agreement

#73 Racoon trap set for me...again

#74 Electronic glitch "un-glitched" by kind hands

"Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude..."
 Colossians 4:2

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Remember her

 We discovered her in September...

She and her family have been lurking around here for months. 
 I have no idea who they belong to, but they've set up camp in various places around our yard.  

Today camp was set up in this {nasty} "flower"bed
I spotted the black one first, I thought it was the mom..
and realized she was accompanied by the yellow one.
but upon closer examination, I realized the striped one was there, too.

"How sweet, they're playing together, 
what a happy family..."

wait..
I couldn't figure out why the yellow one kept biting the striped one's neck 
while mom stood guard.
Or what kind of mom bites her child's neck 
while the other child stands guard.

It finally dawned on me that was not mom.
And they were playing alright...
 They were playing a friendly game of
Alpha male/submissive female

I felt {sorta} bad messing with nature, 
but I couldn't help opening the back door and actually asked them
"What are you doing?!"
To which "mom" and "submissive female" ran off in response.

Only this one stayed behind in an attempt to intimidate and stare me down

I guess I ruined the afternoon fun,
I can only hope I ruined it 
before the makings of a new litter of wild cats could be planted.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Time cherished and wasted and redeemed...

I'm sitting here this morning in an empty and quiet house.  
I'm soaking in the quiet in here
and the soft song of a bird outside the window.
I'm reflecting and pondering a few things today.
But all the while, I am aware of the stillness that is settled around me.
I've always cherished the quiet,
the times where the house is empty for a few hours...
But these days there is more than just silence inside our empty walls...
there is an awareness of time passing by
and the need to capture it and embrace it while it is still here.

All too soon these rooms will be empty more than they are full.
 I'm learning the art of being fully aware of  this moment.
Of being present.

"Wherever you are be there"

We got off to a shaky start this morning...
one of us did.
Something about the rush to the bus and lunch not being packed in the right bag.
Seriously.
There are not many minutes to spare
there is hair to be straightened
outfits to be changed...
and re-changed
shoes to be found
teeth to be brushed
and a host of other minute details 
THAT ARE THE SAME DETAILS WE HAD TO DO YESTERDAY.

There's no surprise about what time the bus comes.
It's pretty much like clockwork every morning.
And yet, at least once a week there is a flurry of 
frustrated
short-tempered
harried 
people standing at my front door...
just long enough for a quick prayer of blessing over the day.

This morning's prayer went something like this:

DEAR LORD, 
We stink at being nice.  
Forgive us for starting out our day with such bad attitudes 
and help us to somehow start over.  
This time with a little niceness.
AMEN

And then something truly remarkable happened.
I opened my mouth 
and told the afore-mentioned attitudinally challenged child;

"HAVE A GREAT DAY. HAVE A TRULY FAB-U-LOUS DAY, child."
{go ahead, insert sarcasm in EVERY SINGLE WORD}

SIGH...
I suck at the simple art of niceness some days.

Maybe the reason I relish quietness in this house
 is because no one is here to hear me
 open my big fat mouth 
and blurt unkind words to.

Maybe it's because I need the silence to 
repent
 and 
recover
 from my own nasty attitudes.

While I am learning to cherish the time I have left,
I do a pretty good job at sabotaging it, too.

Some moments I just stink at 
"the art of being fully aware of  this moment".

I am fully aware of how many moments I waste
with selfishness
and pride
and the need to be right.

I'm taking charge of the moment right in front of me..
finding freedom in the forgiveness of my morning's failures
and choosing to SEE around me instead of 
closing my eyes to it all,
because I'm safer there.

And so my list continues to grow...
#27 Laughter of family within the walls of our home
#28 Dinner prepared by someone else's hands
#29 Peeking over a child's shoulder to see the words
"I love my family"
#30 Driving in the sunshine with the windows cracked OPEN
#31 The investment of an older mentor in my daughter's life
#32 Words from the Doctor to my son, 
"You don't need me"
evidence that GOD does, indeed heal 
#33 Silence in the home...time alone with the Lord

Time standing still.


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