Friday, May 31, 2013

Dishwashers & presidents

Remember that kid in grade school that wanted to be the next President of the United States?  I didn't (and still don't) relate in any way. I can't imagine shouldering that kind of responsibility.  I am thankful that the economy, our troops, our health plans, and the many other decisions that lie on the presidents shoulders, don't lie on mine.  I seriously can't imagine the stress involved.

I am also incredibly thankful that Jesus Christ sits on the throne in Heaven - and in my life (on the days that I let Him).  Lately, as I have been asking God to teach me how to pray, I keep coming back to the Lord's prayer.  I pray through it slowly every day and am amazed how relevant it is in every area of my life.  Recently as I was praying through it and asking God to ease some tension I was feeling, I realized that giving in to stress is pretty much kicking Him off the throne.  On this particular day I was replaying a conversation and hoping for my desired outcome.  What if it doesn't go my way?  If _______ happens, it will all go downhill.  And it hit me - it isn't up to me, THANK GOD!  He is the one who shoulders the responsibility of the details.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we don't have to make responsible decisions or submit ourselves daily to Him.  What I mean is that if we are truly submitting ourselves to Him - begging God to do His will and not our own, then we can rest in Him even when things are going exactly opposite of what we think is best.

This morning as I was reading the book of John, this verse caught my eye.

"As he (Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"  Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

I imagine that if I was the parent of the blind man mentioned in John 9, I probably would have been praying for a totally healthy baby from the moment I knew I was expecting.  I would have done everything in my power to make sure that he or she was healthy.  And, I probably would have spent at least some time worrying about what would happen if he wasn't born healthy.  I would have been devastated when my precious baby was born with such an extreme condition.  I would have been begging God for healing every second of every day.  Not only that, but I would have been beating myself up wondering what I did wrong to make him this way.  If I am completely honest, I have done this myself in regards to my daughter Avonlea - who's eyes were totally crossed at a very young age.  Did I eat the wrong things during pregnancy?  Was she not getting enough milk as a newborn? Did I miss a few too many prenatal vitamins?  Even after numerous doctors told me that it had nothing to do with anything I did or didn't do, I still tried (and sometimes still do) to shoulder the blame.  Could it possibly be that "this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in (her)"?  Avonlea wasn't miraculously healed - although, praise God, she was able to undergo a surgery  which has helped tremendously.  But in faith I believe that God is going to use her precious eyes (and any other weakness - known or not) , to bring glory to Himself.

Then, there are the smaller things.  Like broken dishwashers.  They never seem to break after you've put everything away - but typically after you've had people over for dinner and couldn't possibly cram another dish in if you tried.  It probably sounds silly, but when our dishwasher broke last night I asked God to heal it.  I believed with ALL of my heart that he had the power to do so.  I woke up excited to see what he had done.  And, guess what - the dishwasher was totally full of water that wouldn't drain.  For once, I am not upset.  When I prayed last night I said "God, if I was on the throne I would fix this dishwasher overnight. And Lord, I ask that you fix it - and believe that you can.  But, I am not on the throne - so, if there is some reason why it is broken, then I will choose to trust you anyway."  So this morning, I am excited.  What does God want to do?  Is there a plumber that needs to hear that Jesus loves him?  Am I going to find a you tube video that teaches me more about my pipes?  Is He really going to help me trust Him - even when things are going so different from what I hope and expect?

I am really thankful that I am starting to recognize that choosing stress and worry is like kicking God of His throne.  I hope and pray that each time I find myself heading in that direction, I will say - not my will but yours be done.  Please, Lord - stay on the throne of my life.  I KNOW you'll do a much better job than I could ever do!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

1918 - 1948

1918. Friday night guests, breakfast for dinner & conversations about cows

1919. Sun following rain
1920. Bell the Cat, gluten free sandwiches & heart to hearts with my mom
1921. Knowing Avonlea's just around the bend, cuz of the adorable sound her chunky little feet make as they land on our wood floor
1922. Avonlea saying "hi" to anyone & everyone...and meaning "hi" or "bye"

1923. Fruit basket rainbows
1924. Accidentally walking in on Matt and the boys making Mother's day gifts
1925. 3 moms, free Mother's day lunches, & a quick stroll through the Botanical gardens
1926. Cole's dance of excitement as he examined his new helmet (looking right past his new bike)
1927. Ruby red grapefruit & kiddos that love it
1928. The quiet that summer brings (my boys spend more time outside than in)
1929. Medical technology, hip replacements & looking forward to much less pain
1930. Mohawks

1931. Invitations, introductions & visits with new friends
1932. My Nokia Lumina 928 phone, my mom who watched the kiddos while I drove to Augusta to get it & of course my husband who works so hard & lets me indulge myself in the technology world.
1933. The incredible photos & video the 928 takes - and the fact that I always have it on me (since it's a part of my phone)
1934. A sweet mentor who is encouraging me to sing, write, play my guitar and declutter my heart & home
1935. A dear friend driving all the way from Georgetown, introducing me (and a few friends) to Norwex, & most importantly the fact that her cleaning products have are revolutionizing my kitchen (I've actually mopped 2 days in a row!)
1936. Dancemainea & boys who LOVE watching their cousins dance recitals
1937. Sunday drives
1938. The timing of Teal's explosive (up to the neck) diaper - though I'd usually be grossed out, I found myself thankful & prayerful (as a good friend with a struggling baby had recently asked for prayers for her little one's digestion)
1939. Sinus infections - ALL IS GRACE
1940. New pantrys
1941. Messy basements - ALL IS GRACE
1942. Blake - READING!
1943. Cole writing his name on everything - sometimes with the letters in the right order.
1944. Trying to think of a few more Ugly/Beautifuls (ALL IS GRACE) & not being able to
1945. Teal's giggles & babbles
1946. Healing prayers of praise over children in church pews
1947. Front facing cameras

1948.  Seasons of peace

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Donkeys and chocolate

I've always been the type of person who wants to do things perfectly.  I figure if I try hard enough I can eventually get things right.  One area that I've failed at though -again and again - is spending regular quality time with my Savior.  I've tried lots of different methods - The Bible in a Year,  a Proverb a day, topical studies, prayer journals etc...but as hard as I tried I kept coming up short.  I'd miss a few days here and there, feel guilty and give up.  A few weeks later I'd tell myself, this time I'm going to do it.  I will make myself wake up early...or stay up late - I will do this thing.  But there was a big problem - I didn't really care about the word of God.  I didn't really want to pray.  I was doing it because every sermon I ever heard said that if you want to get close to God (or at least feel close to Him, cuz He is always with you) you have to pray and read the bible.  Last year, a pastor and friend delivered a sermon that really changed the way I looked at "quiet times".  He said, if you are struggling with spending time with God - DON'T TRY HARDER.  If you tell yourself that you are going to read the bible every day and/or pray every day, you have already failed.  Even if you make yourself do it (which never lasts long) you will be doing it in your own strength.  Where you start, he said, is by asking God to give you a desire for His word...and a desire to spend time with Him in prayer.  That is too simple, I thought to myself.  There is not way it can be that easy.  But because every thing I had ever tried had already failed, I gave it a shot.  I started begging God to make His word come alive to me.  I asked Him to help me want to read it.  I asked Him to help me crave it.  And, I'm still in a bit of shock, but I am so excited to say - he TOTALLY answered my prayer.  Even the old testament has come alive to me.  Even verses about donkeys.

1 Samual 9:3 
"One day Kish’s donkeys got lost. So he said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants and go look for the donkeys.”

Isn't that one of the BEST verses ever?  

I think so, and here is why.  Saul's dad sent him on a hunt for his lost donkeys.  I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing both Saul and his dad were probably a bit peeved.  "What a waste of time", "I can't believe those dumb donkeys took off again", "There are so many better things that I could do with my time than look for silly donkeys!"  But they (Saul and his servant) didn't have a choice, so they looked, and looked and looked.  Eventually they found themselves in the town of Zuph.  They had been searching for a while and were about to give up, but Saul's servant suggested that they should visit Samuel.  Samuel was a prophet and perhaps he could tell him where the donkeys were.  Little did they know that Samuel had something to tell them that was much more important than where their donkeys were.  He would let them know that Saul was going to be the King!  

Did the donkeys just happen to wander off?  Was it just coincidence?  I don't think so!  I think this is just one of thousands of examples of God's sovereignty and how He is truly at work in all things.

So, when I can't find my cell phone anywhere - or I get lost on my way to an appointment - I have a choice.  I can get totally stressed out and angry, or I can ask God to remind me that He is at work and that there is a reason for EVERYTHING.  I am finding this especially encouraging as I raise my little ones.  There are so many times when I am trying to get an incredible project done, like my laundry pile...or, the dishes :), when one of my little ones falls down and starts bawling.  Or, even a bit more likely, 2 or 3 of my little ones start fighting over a toy.  Though my temptation is stress and/or frustration, I am finding when I focus on God's hand at work (usually teaching me about His will verses mine), my shoulders relax and I begin to trust Him a little bit more.

Even this blog post could be considered an example of God's sovereignty.  As I mentioned in another post, I really struggle in the area of sugar.  I quit for months at a time then I backslide.  Well, last night I backslid - pretty majorly.  I bought two dark chocolate bars (72%, so thats good right?) and planned on eating just a few squares.  Well, um, that totally didn't happen.  I ate both bars.  We are talking 800 calories in 10 minutes!  Not to mention the caffeine.  I ate so much that I literally felt sick to my stomach.  And, the caffeine kept me up ALL night.  But you know what - if I was able to sleep I wouldn't have written this blog.  And, perhaps there is someone, somewhere who needs to hear that God is at work in and around them despite (and even through) their weaknesses, their dire circumstances and/or even just their lost keys.

We serve an amazing God.  If you struggle, like I always have, with spending time with God on a regular basis...I want to encourage you  - STOP TRYING HARDER!  Just start BEGGING Him to give you a passion for His word and prayer.  He will answer - and perhaps, you might find yourself inspired by donkeys - or, at least verses (that you usually would have rushed right by) about them.  And maybe, the next time you spill your orange juice, you'll remember that if God can work through lost donkeys, He can work through spilled juice.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fill in the blanks

Lately, I've been pondering a few quotes a friend of mine wrote down as we were discussing how overwhelmed I get with too much STUFF.

"What you NEED is buried underneath what you THINK you have to have."

"GOOD things are the enemy of the BEST things."

These quotes are helping me tremendously as I strive towards de-cluttering my home.  But, I think they have pretty amazing spiritual implications as well.

I'm going to try a little experiment.  Quickly, without too much analyzing (like that is really possible...this is me we are talking about) I am going to fill in the following blanks:
 ___________ is buried underneath ____________
 ____________ is the enemy of _______________
with the first things that pop into my head.

Whoops, I said I wasn't going to analyze...but I'm analyzing so I want to provide the following disclaimer before you write me off as a friend:

These thoughts are not coming from a standpoint of judgement.  And, I am in no way planning to quit all of the GOOD things in my life.  I am just pondering what I want my primary focuses to be on in this mega short life.

"What you NEED is buried underneath what you THINK you have to have."
 ___________ is buried underneath ____________ 

REST is buried underneath BUSYNESS
PEACE is buried underneath CONTROL
NUTRITION is buried underneath MY SWEET TOOTH
GIVING is buried underneath FEAR
SOLACE is buried underneath LACK OF TRUST
FORGIVENESS is buried underneath PETTINESS
FRIENDSHIP is buried underneath INSECURITY
RESPECT is buried underneath PRIDE
TIME is buried underneath CLUTTER

"GOOD things are the enemy of the BEST things."
 ____________ is the enemy of _______________

TELEVISION is the enemy of READING
BOOKS are the enemy of the WORD
THE TELEPHONE is the enemy of PRAYER
(Focusing more on my face/body than my heart)

If you'd like to fill in a few blanks - feel free to comment.  I'd love to hear from you.

1889 - 1917

1889. A BOY on his bike (without training wheels...and Oh, so excited about that)!
1890. Bibs bigger than the baby they are on
1891. Baby baths in kitchen sinks
1892. God's sense of humor...just after I scratched "baby baths in sinks" down onto paper, I was blessed (ALL IS GRACE) with a very large stinky mess to clean out of my sink!
1893. Lego crosses
1894. Boys fighting over kissing Teal (ALL IS GRACE)
1895. Fun, old restored vehicles - and the fact that my eyes are open and searching for, I took the time to notice a couple of particularly incredible ones and allow God to bless me through something I have honestly NEVER even noticed before.
1896. Triangle kisses - I kiss Avonlea, Avonlea kisses Cole, Cole kisses me
1897. Cole laughing so hard that he could hardly believe - especially since I was getting him tucked in for nap
1898. All of the times there are tears at nap time, instead of laughter - ALL IS GRACE
1899. Three shades of yellow on one piece of corn
1900. Painting paper plates
1901. Cole praying at the concert of prayer (most people would have thought he was just talking to himself...but he was sweetly thanking God for everything he could possibly think of...mostly involving things with wheels)
1902. Teal's dimples
1903. The softness of an infants skin
1904. The determination and concentration and dirt on Blake's face as he FLEW on his bike across the Belfast foot bridge
1905. Puke in my hair - ALL IS GRACE
1906. Pink, Blue and Green sippy cups lined up in our window
1907. Wild flowers on my kitchen table - the fact that they lasted almost 3 weeks, and even more than all that the sweet friend who gave them to me
1908. Forgotten asparagus still fresh in my fridge
1909. Boys fighting in the bathtub - ALL IS GRACE
1910. Morning fog moving over a beautiful pond - and being able to SEE it out our kitchen window.
1911. Squirrels dancing
1912. Boys naming gifts
1913. Celebrating new life at a baby shower
1914. Hurting, hoping, praying and missing a friend who's precious baby has quite a few hurdles to jump over
1915. Her faith
1916. Her Father's strength
1917. Mothers day. My mother. My step-mother. My mother in law. My grandmothers. Being a mother. My friends (both near and far) who are wonderful mothers - even though they probably don't see that they are!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Losing Bear

On our way back from Florida we lost "bear".  He was Blake's lovey - and he was very, very loved.  Blake got him as a gift when he was a baby - and had snuggled with him every day since.  He lost him on his fifth birthday.  I cried.  I mean really, really cried.  I felt like I wasn't just saying goodbye to bear - but to my little boy.  He is big now.  I mean really, really big.  He is riding his bike, swimming under water and playing baseball (ok, ok Tee Ball).  I begged God to help us find him, to work a miracle, I KNEW God had the power.  We lost him on an airplane - he could be anywhere.  But I begged and begged God to send him back.  One morning, while once again begging God to help us find this precious lost bear I was totally and completely convicted.  I have never once begged God so passionately, so fervently for a lost soul.  I mean I shed some serious tears over this furry little creature and I can't remember shedding a single tear for a truly lost soul.  I can't remember BEGGING God for someone's salvation.  Actually, I do remember praying for a few specific people when I was a young child...but when those prayers weren't answered, I think I kind of gave up.   We never found bear.  But I am praying with all of my heart that God will fill me with deep, passionate, heart-felt, faith filled prayers for people who are lost.  That they will find Him.  That they will know His love.  That they will come home.

1845 - 1888

1845. The fact that there is absolutely, positively NO WAY I can even begin to number the incredibly large amount of blessing He has poured out on me in the past few months...and that the following list is just a teeny, tiny, tip of the iceburg
1846. Friends who encourage me to blog
1847. A dear friend who reminded me how life changing the book One Thousand Gifts was (by asking me about it) and encouraged me to read it again - and the words (well, God working through them) continue to touch my heart and change my days
1848. The verse "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" and the fact that he gave me enough strength (and help) to take four kiddos on an airplane to Florida
1849.  Prayers answered doubly (specifically in regards to our trip).
1850. I asked Him for an extra seat on the plane, He gave me two extra seats.
1851. I asked Him for an extra pair of hands, He blessed me with two extra sets of hands (two of the sweetest ladies in the world)
1852. I asked Him that the baby would be content at least most of the plane ride - the baby either slept or ate the WHOLE 3.5 hour plane ride
1853. I asked Him that if He would rather work in me to teach me something or encourage someone by NONE of those other requests being answered that I would be willing and obedient and have a good attitude.
1853. He gave me that opportunity on the way home - we missed our plane.  Though there were a few tired tears involved, I was able to come around and trust Him.  I ended up getting 3 more precious days with my sister.
1854. My sister who I love and cherish more every day
1855. The ability for my children and I to spend time with my dad and stepmother, even though sad circumstances almost made it impossible
1856. Cousins chasing bubbles
1857. Cousins coloring Easter eggs - and finding them
1858. Stolen moments with my sister (ah, gotta love nap time)
1859. A wonderful evening with her at the Outback Steakhouse- sharing delicious food and our hearts
1860. Cousins crammed in tight spaces
1861. Chick Filet
1862. Chick Filet.  Yes, I wrote it twice.  It deserves it :)
1863. Cousins bouncing - on trampolines, on bounce houses, on couches
1864. Cole chasing Kolbie Ann and repeating, "where are you, my friend?", I'm going to get you, my friend" over and over again
1865. Avonlea cooking in Auntie's plastic kitchen
1866. Changing trash bags
1867. Cousins playing in fountains
1868. My sister's photography
1869. Cousins climbing trees
1870. Cousins arguing - all is grace, right? :)
1871. My sister's beautiful home...that felt like a retreat.
1872. Celebrating April birthdays - lots of them
1873. GiGi's party
1874. Late nights reading God's word and other books that encourage my walk with Him
1875. Snuggling with my kiddos before their cousins woke up
1876. My sister - who cooked, changed diapers, rocked babies, took kiddos swimming, took kiddos on walks - gave me time, wonderful, quiet, time
1878. Curls
1879. Talking with Matt on skype
1880. Matt's answered prayers
1881. Cousins making muscles
1882. Matt and my mom, and their projects
1883. Shiny floors
1884. An incredibly creative and space saving desk for Blake and Cole (under their already amazing loft beds)
1885. A new table - sort of.
1886. A new friend.
1887. Losing "bear", all is grace.
1888. My next blessings post - cuz if I keep going on this one it'll be WAY too long :)