Sunday, July 16, 2017

The wonderful, the hard, and the funny

(Note: This post is a continuation to the previous one, posted on the same date)

My heart was so filled with gratitude as I took time to recount the week today.  Thoughts about my week included musings in these categories: The wonderful, the hard, and the funny.  I thought it would be medicine for my soul to record them and maybe encouraging and slightly entertaining (some of them) to others.  I remember that I have a story to tell of God's faithfulness!  So, with no further delay...

The Wonderful
*David was back to a "normal" schedule this week after several heavily stacked work weeks.
*My 13 year old boy having a great time with his grandparents in Oregon.  I miss him a lot, but I am so thankful that my in-laws want to keep this tradition for our kids!  It is a treasured and eagerly anticipated experience!  Also, thankful that after a week, he finally started missing us, and called to tell me so! 
*Sitting in the quiet prayer room this week after a hard few days.  The Lord is my refuge, my hiding place, my firm foundation.  How I thrive in His presence!  An how I am strengthened and encouraged in prayer, worship, and Scripture!
*A chance to be hands and feet, a blessing in action to a friend that I hadn't spoken to in a while.
Image may contain: 2 people*Being involved with CornerStone International.  I love this group of people.  And I love praying for them, being involved in ministry all around the globe in the throne room of our Great God!
*Swimming pools and water slides with the kids.
*Being mostly successful with getting up early to have time to read and pray.  Not a morning person at all so this is a work of God's grace to enable me to do this!
*Enjoying the little local farmer's market, with the lovely folks that bring their goods to sell.  I was especially thankful for the kindness they showed to my rowdy crew.
*Walking through the Wilmore Caboose for the first time and having our friend Ken answer our questions.  I've been here for 21 years!  It is about time.
*Good, hones conversation with my so lovely 18 year old girl!
*Early Friday morning morning sharing and prayer with a dear, dear friend!
*Feeling more at home worshiping with a new body of believers.
*Taking Keenan's dog for walks with the kids while Keenan is away.
*Aaron crawling.

The Hard
*Aaron is crawling!  Aaahhh!  Every. single. minute. I have to watch him, or have a sibling with him. He particularly loves cords, little things, and my table by the couch. : /
*One child in particular still struggling with attitude, submission to authority, arguing, rudeness... This kid can wreck me quickly!  Additionally, the door seems to be closed to the counselor that I thought would be good for us.  So this weekend, I started looking again.
*Aaron struggling with night-time sleep.

The Funny
ok... I have a terrible memory, in case you don't know.  So all two funny stories I can remember are from today.  But there are not usually a shortage of them in this home!  
*First, was in worship this morning.  The pastor was teaching and I was holding Aaron.  Micah was beside me and he handed Aaron this little clover flower one of the littles brought in.  He was investigating it and enjoying it, so I made a mental note to watch him with it.  Except that I am forgetful and prone to distraction. :)  So a few minutes later, he gags and almost throws up.  I first think, oh, no, he is going to be sick right in the middle of the service on the floor, but then I see the stem he is still holding in is hand.  And I realize it is only a stem now!  No  flower!  I almost laughed out loud (in church!) as I realized he had eaten the flower.  Well, at least it was an edible variety and there is no need for concern! HAHA!
*At dinner, the kids were telling tongue twisters.  Abby brought up "Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy, wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy, wuzzy wasn't fuzzy was he?"  So then Micah and the others were trying to remember it and say it.  Faster and faster.  twice, eight times, fifteen times. No, make them stop!... Then, Sarah (3) says, "Fuzzy, wuzzy didn't have any fuzzy stuff. Fuzzy, wuzzy didn't have any fuzzy stuff.  I got that part already, guys."  And she kept saying that over and over.  So funny to hear her try to copy and then hear her version. :)


I am embracing a new weekly practice.  It is actually quite old, but newer to me.  I am setting aside time on Sunday to reflect and refocus.  I have decided not to use social media, or basically any technology that would be labeled "entertainment," for the day in order to make room to sit and think, pray, read, or listen to things that will attach my heart and hope on Jesus.   For some time, I have noticed this habit of mine to reach for my tablet or pull up the chair to the computer with most any free minute I have- nursing the baby, waiting for the pasta to cook, holding on the phone with insurance, surprised with a peaceful 15 minutes while the kids play outside and that baby sleeps.
My wonderful hubby, who does not currently
 have the same temptation with gadgets.
However, I don't usually take photos of myself!

One day, I started to think about what I used to do when I didn't have the gadgets or even the speedy internet service.  It wasn't really that long ago!  And it hit me, a little hard; I used to just sit... in the quiet.  I used to think more.  I used to read more.  I used to go on more walks. I used to engage with the littles more.  I used to sit outside while the kids played. Maybe I even read the Living Word of God more or prayed more.  So I made a decision to monitor myself, noticing when I grabbed for that laptop or tablet (I don't have a fancy smartphone!), and to be more intentional to leave it when it was really just a time killer.  
I recently enjoyed helping Nathanael play with Aaron in the fort he made for the two of them.
So one way that I have chosen to implement this intentionality is to refrain from unnecessary "gadget" use on Sunday.  And I have noticed some fruit from that choice:  More opportunity for spontaneous conversation with a child,  Extra meditation on the Scriptures, Being spurred on by teachings I might otherwise forgo, and time to reflect and think on the week before.
That being said, today I have been thinking over the week and my gratitude just soared!
This will be continued in the next post...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Reflections in Psalm 32

"Happy is the one whose sin is forgiven,"
Blessed is the one, with open heart, receives the great mercy of God.
When we try to act as though we have no sin,
no need for mercy,
we shrivel up on the inside.
"My vitality was turned to the drought of summer."
Why?  What deception in our human hearts that cause us to shrink from the thing
that really brings us life!
But oh, the joy, the relief of confession and forgiveness!
My dead and shriveled soul revived.  My darkened heart, filled with light!
Everyone needs to seek God in this way, while there is still time, still breath.

Merciful God, You are my hiding place,
the place I am safely at home.
Lord, you surround me with mighty and mercy-filled songs of deliverance.
(Oh, to hear the Voice of the One who spoke the world into being.
He sings over me!!)
You don't leave us to figure it out alone.
You instruct.
You guide.
Interestingly, you "guide with your eye."
Meaning we must be near you, watching, intentional to see your guidance.

We must not be like horses, that must be harnessed with bit and bridle-
wild, willful, resistant, aloof.
You desire willing submission,
a human heart that "comes near" and bows low with trust, expectation, and joy.
Many sorrows shall be to the wicked,
to those who trust in themselves,
refuse your mercy.
BUT he who trusts in the Lord,
who confesses and not ignores sin,
who looks to His eye for guidance,
who humbly and confidently comes near to him,
Mercy shall surround him!
Imagine, surrounded by His songs of deliverance and His great and powerful mercy!

Be glad!  Rejoice!  Shout for joy!
There is no one like our God!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What a gift!

On this last day of May (5 months gone already!!), I spent some time looking at pictures from our busy month.  In precious years, I was quite good at snapping pictures to create memories, but as kids kept coming and life got busier, I got more forgetful about my camera (and a lot of other things, too!) and the wonderful tool that it is!  But I am making extra effort lately to remember to get out my camera and take photos, or at least, give it to one of the girls to take them for me! 

Tonight, my heart overflowed with gratitude as I looked at the photos from our vacations this month.  First, we took our first group camping adventure, camping with our homeschool co-op friends.  It was different than camping as a family, but I was reminded as we were in the midst of the craziness of 6 families together, how special that time truly was!  We are so blessed to have such good friends who can spend time in that setting together, enjoying one another, encouraging one another, helping one another.

These are cherished pictures!  Me, My grandmother, mom, and daughter.
Then, my grandparents with the littles!  We really enjoyed our time with
these two!
Right on the heels of that trip, we loaded up and drove to SC.  What a joy it was to be with family and friends!  We were intentional to carve out time to be with my family.  We are there is infrequently that I wanted to make all the time count!  We are not promised tomorrow so I am learning to make the most of today,  I am thankful for my family and the time we had to be together!

My cousin and his wife drove an hour after work to hang out with us in the rain.  With no siblings of my own, I especially appreciate and value this family!  Look at that sweet and sassy pair! 

I love these two girls!!  They are special friends!  And they gave Sarah her wish- to ride on a horse!  Even though it was rainy, they got out a horse and let her sit on it while they walked it around. :)

Finally, we had a day at the park with the kids and my mom.  Fun times!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


I love the Psalms!  I can connect with the heart behind so many of the beautifully penned words that I read in this collection of songs and poems.  This week, I have been thinking over Psalm 9.  I am struck by the confidence of David.  He makes so many declarations, even in the what seems to be a difficult, troubling time for him.  He makes clear in this Psalm that His confidence is in God and His salvation.
Meanwhile, I am also reading 1 Samuel with the boys and today we read chapter 13: the story about Saul waiting for Samuel, but then making the sacrifice himself because Samuel didn't come quick enough and time was pressing!  We talked about what a tough situation Saul was in and how easily it was to justify, according to our fleshly thinking, his choice (and our choices), especially when the stakes are high.  And I realized as we talked about it how important confidence in God really is.  Already, Saul is waiting on the Lord.  He really is attempting to do what he thought God would want.  But his confidence wavered.  Thinking that the army was deserting him and that they were already so grossly out-numbered, he made the decision to push forward, despite the clearly defined rules set up by God.  He pushed aside what was right for what seemed logical to his fleshly mind.
And here is the thing: We cannot think primarily with our logical mind.  We are called to trust, to know, to stand with confidence.  Often, trust in God must defy our logic.  It seems crazy to wait for Him in some circumstances.  It can be painful to cry out, when it feels like He is slow or absent.  However, real joy, breath-taking salvation, long-awaited breakthrough, the stuff of miracles, comes when we, with confidence, position ourselves in trust.
And this takes us back to Psalm 9.  Saul threw out faith for sight.  He looked at the circumstances and panicked.  He let fear rule.  He forgot what God was really like, or maybe he never really knew.  But in Psalm 9, I read that David declared boldly his confidence in God, even when life circumstances were overwhelming, hurtful, discouraging.  Check this out:

I WILL praise you with my whole heart:  (wholehearted is what I want to be when so often I am half-hearted)
I WILL tell of all your marvelous works. (he's going to remember and talk about God previous goodness)
I WILL be glad and rejoice in You. ('Cause He is reason to rejoice!)

WHEN my enemies turn back,  (When, not if.  Hear that confidence!) 
They shall perish and fall in Your Presence.  (No enemy of ours will stand when God shows up!!)

Those who know your name WILL put their trust in You; For You Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.  (This is David- one who knew God and put His trust, His full confidence in Him, knowing that he would not be forsaken. And this is a promise to each of us)

Have mercy on me O Lord! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death that I may tell all of your praise...
I WILL rejoice in Your salvation.  (Even though it cannot be seen right at this moment.  I trust, I know it is coming!)
verses 1-2, 3, 10, 13-14

We are called to look unto our God, who is a very present help in times of trouble (Ps 46), to fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Heb 12).  We must walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 4).  And faith is confidence that God WILL come through, that what I cannot see with my eyes, I know to be true (Heb 11:1)!   Confidence- believing that God is Faithful, that Jesus is my Redeemer and Savior, that He will answer when I call, that He is strong and He is good, that I am safe in His Hands!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Resurrection Life

Photo by Abby

We just celebrated Easter, the defeat of death, sin, and the grave!  The victory of life, grace, and redemption!  Increasingly so, I love this time of year.  It is a powerful, sobering, life-giving time.  Here are some of my recent meditations on the death and resurrection of Jesus and what it means to us as Jesus followers:
~Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4  (Romans 5-6 is one of my very favorite passages of Scripture! I could read it and think on it day after day!)
~He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to dins, might live to righteousness... 1 Peter 2:24
~And that well-known, but never too often read passage in Philippians 2:5-8 about how Jesus humbled himself to become a human, then to death on a cross.  "Therefore God has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

He did die, all for love and mercy and justice, and glory to God, He did rise "on the third day."  And with every passing year, I long more for the day of His triumphant return, to watch and be part of the sea of people who will bow in worship to Him as He deserves.  His death and resurrection give abundance, purpose, and joy to life now, and hope for life forever with God and without the hindrance and snare of sin and the pain and sorrow of death and loss.  How my heart overflows with praise to Jesus!  

Sarah getting a flower crown by Abby's friend.  She loved it so much.  Also, she has been talking about Jesus "raised up on the third day" a lot the last couple of weeks since one of her Awana memory verses was from 1 Corinthians 15 and included those words!  Amazing and beautiful.  Out of the mouth of babes!

We had the privilege of hosting these 3 of Rachel's friends from U of L.  They are so great!

Just look at these two!  God has done great things!  And continues to do so!

Finally, I have to include this.  There are not many pictures of these two together since she doesn't live here anymore.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Rooted and Grounded in Love

       "And I pray that God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is the width, and length and depth and height- to know this love that passes knowledge..." Ephesians 3

I've been thinking over these words for years! God's Word never gets old!  Yes, there are times I am tempted to say to myself that I have read this story or passage soooo many times, there can't possibly be any reason to read it again.  However, when I go to Word with fresh eyes and a heart yearning to know Jesus, I am not disappointed!  So when I read this familiar prayer again a few weeks ago and spent some time pondering it, a picture of a flowering plant rooted in deep, rich soil came vividly to mind.  And I said to God, "What if we did that?  What if your people were so strengthened in you (strengthened with might through His Spirit) and Jesus was so at home in us (Christ dwell in our hearts), that we were like plants with our roots so deep in Your love!!"  And I began to ask God to make me and make His Church to be rooted and grounded in His love.  That we would receive our nourishment, our sustenance, our strength, our everything from God's great love.  What would the fruit of our lives look like if we were truly rooted and grounded in His love?  Wow!  So I drew this (kind of sorry) picture in Bible to remind me.  It was a vivid image from the Lord and not one I want to quickly forget.  Rooted and Grounded in His love.  Drawing it up into me; Being held firm by it; All my thirst quenched by it; It becoming what flows out of me- my scent, my beauty, my color, my characteristics. The soil makes all the difference. No matter the season around me, all I need is found in Jesus!  
More and more I am convinced that we as the Church are living low!  We are not living as God intended, not stepping into the place bought by the extravagant love of Jesus by His blood.  Let us stop living by our own strength, for our own glory, fueled by lust and worldly passion.  Let us stop being distracted by the details of life, wooed by the praise of others, allured by fleshly desires.  Let us be rooted and grounded in His love... so that together (that word is implied in this passage, but its meaning is clear!!) together, we can know, comprehend, experience what is truly unknowable, surpassing our ability- just how high and how long and how wide and how deep is the love of God.  Let us not be content to know a little, to stick a finger or a baby root in His love.  Let us, together, dive into His great ocean of goodness, mercy, and love.  Let us take the time to let our roots sink deep in Him.  Let us become "oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord."