Thursday, April 29, 2010

A Promise For Thursday

As I pulled my sleepy self from my comfy bed this morning one of the first sights that met my eyes was the pile of unfolded laundry towering in my room and the overflowing dirty clothes hamper in the hallway. Ugh! This laundry is really getting me down. So I searched my sleep drugged brain for a verse, any verse, to encourage me and give me a reason to hope that I could survive the day. And, of course, God gave me one:

"...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:31

You mean I can have that super human strength today? That marathon runner-like endurance is for me? And those majestic, soaring eagle's wings can be used to fold jeans, socks and underwear? And all I gotta do is sit back and let God do His thing with me and my day?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Softer Place To Land

This song touches my spirit whenever I hear it and it so accurately describes Joshua. My Joshua has been the greatest friend to me that I ever could have wished for so to simply say that he's always "there for me" just doesn't cut it. I'm a mess and I know it, but my Joshua is ever patient with me and he lovingly and unfalteringly guides me along life's crooked paths. I fall so often, but he always offers me a softer place to land.
I love you, my darling.

"Push" by Sarah McLachlan

Every time I look at you the world just melts away
All my troubles all my fears dissolve in your affections
You've seen me at my weakest but you take me as I am
And when I fall you offer me a softer place to land

You stay the course you hold the line you keep it all together
You're the one true thing I know I can believe in
You're all the things that I desire, you save me, you complete me
You're the one true thing I know I can believe

I get mad so easy but you give me room to breathe
No matter what I say or do 'cause you're to good to fight about it
Even when I have to push just to see how far you'll go
You won't stoop down to battle, but you never turn to go


Your love is just the antidote when nothing else will cure me
There are times I can't decide when I cant tell up from down
You make me feel less crazy when otherwise I'd drown
But you pick me up and brush me off and tell me I'm OK
Sometimes that's just what we need to get us through the day

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Plodding Along

It’s been tough lately getting up in the morning and starting each day. It feels like I do the same thing day after day after day after day… I’m not depressed or even horribly discouraged, I’m just tired. It’s been a busy week and I feel like I’m running like mad always a mile behind where I should be. The laundry is piling up even though I just folded several baskets worth of the stuff yesterday. I cleaned the house and now it’s dirty again.

I really didn’t want to write a whiny blog post, but I did feel like just saying how I’m feeling. I’m not going to wallow about in self pity. Instead, I’m getting revved up to get right back into it. My orders are to fight and that’s just what I’m going to do today. And thanks to my dad’s very encouraging tweets this morning, I’m feeling like I can keep going now. God is moving in this family and He’s using my weak, tired hands to do His work.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Cor. 4:7

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Memories, Laughter and What's To Come

One of the sillier memories that I have of my mom is when she first made her “stern” face. One night, during family devotions, one of us kids was acting up and so Mom, wanting to quietly deal with the disruptive kid so as to not interrupt my dad reading the Bible, gave the child a Look. She had meant for it to be a serious, sobering expression which would immediately render said child remorseful and quiet, but instead it came out as a goofy, rather ridiculous look which caused everyone who witnessed it to burst out laughing. Of course, we then had to ask Mom to repeat the face for those who didn’t get the first showing and pretty soon everyone (including Mom) was laughing like crazy. For years after this we’d still try to imitate that expression whenever we felt a laugh was needed.

So yesterday I was driving along I-90 when that memory popped into my head. I smiled to myself as I remembered the fun of that moment and at the same time my heart ached because that was all in the past. But then I remembered that I’m going to see my mom again and my whole family will get to sit around one table and we will get to laugh together again. “Yes,” I thought, “heaven is going to be so good.”

And then, like a flash, in my mind’s eye I saw another person sitting at the table with us- Jesus. He was laughing just as hard as we were and I think I even saw Him wipe away some tears, He was laughing so hard.

Yeah, it’ll be great to be reunited as a family again, never to be separated, but even more than that I’m looking forward to hanging out with Jesus and getting to laugh riotously with my savior.

Oh, it’s going to be so good. And if this reality is in my future, well, I guess I can hang in there for a bit longer.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Quarter of a Century- Plus One

Each year as my birthday rolls around, I like to contemplate where I am in life and some of what’s happened in the past year. I feel like this birthday marks an emerging of sorts out of a dark, brutal year into a year of hope and discovery. As I struggled with postpartum depression I felt like I was simply unable to see any light at the end of the tunnel, but even though I couldn’t see it and simply didn’t even believe it existed, God still brought me through and now there are many days where I’m fairly dazzled by the brightness surrounding me.

This last year I’ve learned so much. I learned that life is hard and that’s normal for this world. I learned that it’s okay to feel like crap and I don’t have to try to make myself feel or seem happy. I learned that when I let people in and share my struggles and weaknesses with them that some of them will let me down and leave me worse than when I started. But I learned that some few precious people will sink down into the muck with me and pull me back out. I learned a bit more what it means that God is my dad. I learned that I can talk to Him about anything- He already knows it all anyway. I learned more about myself and how sinful I am, but I also got to see growth and good things happening in me. I guess what I’m trying to say is, it was a good year.

Thank you, God, for walking with me this year and holding my frail little hand in your big, strong hand. Every time I tripped, You caught me and every time I managed to run, You cheered the loudest and ran with me. I love You, Daddy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Regulative Principle of Worship and How My Floors Got Muddy

There is a school of thought that says that God has given us strict and detailed instructions on how we are to worship Him and any deviation from these instructions or any addition to them is wrong. This topic comes up with some frequency in our household. Well, an interesting example of this occurred yesterday.

I had been cleaning all morning trying to get the house in some kind of order for the Bible study I was hosting that afternoon. After lunch I sent the kids outside to play. A few minutes later Evangeline excitedly ran inside with a little flower for me and Malachi quickly followed her with a bouquet of his own. But before I even looked at the flowers I noticed the trail of muddy footprints that followed my children across the freshly mopped floors. I’ve told them before to not come in the house with their boots on. At that moment I didn’t want their extra offerings- the flowers they picked for me- all I wanted was their obedience. They would have shown their love for me so much more if they had not picked the flowers, but rather obeyed me and not caused extra work for me. So the thought that God is picky about how we worship started to make sense. All the extra ways of worship aren’t actually pleasing to Him if they aren’t what He wants.

But if we stop there then aren’t we just right back to a gospel of works?

After I scolded the children and they showed remorse for disobeying me, I then turned my attention to the beautiful flower offerings. I gushed about how beautiful they were and I added them to my flower vase over the sink. I kissed my babies on their heads and thanked them for bringing me something so beautiful. No, they didn’t get it right. Yes, I still had a mess to clean up. But I know they were trying to please me and show me how they think I’m a special person. If I can forgive my children’s mistakes and accept their imperfect offerings then surely God can do even better. He demands holiness, but this little thing called Grace comes into play more than we realize. God’s favor toward us can overlook millions upon millions of stupid things we do. He still kisses us on our heads and He knows that we think He’s pretty special. And someday we’ll be able to show Him true, perfect worship when all our sin is stripped away. Oh, what a happy day that will be!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why I Hate Doing the Thing I Love

I've got a love/hate relationship going on with homeschooling. Yeah, I know it's the right thing to do, but sometimes I feel like I can't take the stress anymore. And I'm not talking about the daily stress of trying to get everything done around the house, take care of a baby and a toddler and teach two school-aged kids. I'm talking about the stress of comparing myself to other homeschoolers and feeling like I'm continually coming up short. It's like everyone else is in the know and I'm the only one who can't seem to figure this thing out. I know that's not true, but I still feel it. I hate wondering if my kids are behind because I'm not teaching them well enough or maybe they're just not as smart as the other kids. And I'd hate, hate, hate for my beautiful kids to ever feel that I think they're not smart enough. Because I know that my children are learning and their little souls are being feed and nurtured.

I know that Jesus has equipped me with everything I need to be a good teacher and mommy to these kids. But still I feel like a failure. I guess this is where the whole grace thing comes in. Even if/when I make mistakes, God's got me covered. He's not going to let my kids fall by the wayside because I'm not a perfect teacher. If He wants them to grow up to be well-learned, faithful disciples then He's going to make that happen- even if all He has to work with is little old me.

I can't fail. Even if all I can manage is a feeble attempt then God is going to take that and run with it. If He can create an entire human race from a pile of dirt, surely He can use me to mold my children into something beautiful.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom

My mom taught me many crucial life lessons in her tenure as my teacher, but I think the one that has shaped my adult life the most is her teaching me to not be a wimp. She told me that sometimes the only way to get rid of pain is to go through it and get it over with. This maxim helped me through the births of my kids, but also through much of life’s everyday struggles. I can still hear Mom saying, “Your mama didn’t raise no wimp.” And that’s what I keep telling myself.

So today, on the anniversary of the day of her birth, my thoughts are turned toward my mom, my teacher, my friend. I’m not one to idolize the dead and elevate them higher than is right, but I do think it’s right to give credit where credit is due. My mom shaped me into the woman I grew up to be. She taught me every day as she lived out her life what it means to be a godly woman. She showed me how to be a loving mommy, how to sacrifice for the good of others, how to keep going when it seems like all strength is gone. She taught me to not run away from pain, but to bravely walk straight through it, knowing the whole time that God has got me by the hand and that just on the other side of this pain is peace and joy.

My mom wasn’t perfect. She was a sinner just like I am. But she was the perfect teacher for me and God made sure she taught me everything she was supposed to before He took her home. Now every day I live out her wisdom. There is pain now in this broken world, but I’m not going to run from it. Life is hard, but the only way to get rid of the pain is to walk boldly through it. My mom walked through it and she made it to the other side where there is peace and joy forevermore. My mamma wasn’t no wimp. And, by the grace of God, I’m going to be just like her.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

My Calling

Lately I’ve been feeling discouraged. I feel like the work I do day after day is endless, thankless and just plain yucky. Some days I feel like I can’t possibly wipe one more poopy bum or deal with one more temper tantrum. I feel like a stable boy whose most important task is to shovel manure- every single day. Now, I know how important it is to have that manure shoveled and I know that if there wasn’t anyone willing to shovel it, then the whole farm would feel (and smell) the effects of that neglect. But that doesn’t make shoveling the manure any easier or any more fulfilling.

So here I am, shoveling away. Most of the time no one even notices that I’m the one clearing out all that yuck. And even if someone does notice they usual don’t bother to thank me. I’m just doing my job, after all. I know this is my part of the Kingdom work. I know that I’m down here in the muck and goo because this is where Jesus wants me to be. I know that the reason I’m lonely here is because there aren’t many others who are willing to be down here, too. And so I’m shoveling manure to the glory of God. There won’t be any glorious mountaintop moments here in the sewage- no, we don’t get any of those down here. I won’t ever be pretty and clean like the other women I see and even if, for a brief moment, I do manage to make myself presentable I’ll only slip and fall in a fresh pile of dung and be right back where I started- right back where I belong.

Yes, I am feeling pretty low right now. No, I don’t always feel like this. But right now I can’t seem to see past my own filthy nose. And yet, there is a tiny voice I still hear- a voice that’s telling me to hang in there and keep on shoveling because Jesus sees it all. He notices the work I do and He sees my face beneath the perpetual layer of grime. And He’s the one standing right next me, knee deep in it all, with a shovel in His hand, too. And I know that someday- maybe years from now, maybe minutes- He will pick me up, straighten out my aching back and gently wipe away all the dung, filth and tears from my face. And then I will hear the words that will make it all worthwhile, “Well done. You did all this for Me and I saw it all- every gross job you did and every hopeless day you faced. You’ve done it all and there’s no more dirty work for you to do. Come now and rest with Me. I’m so proud of you, my beautiful girl.”

Yes, that’s the thought that keeps me plodding along. So now I must pick up my shovel and roll up my sleeves. I’ve got work to do.