Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back, looking ahead.

I'm pretty glad we're at the end of 2010. It's been a long, hard year. The big thing was waiting on Dan's master's degree pay to kick in. Yet every month, we managed to have enough and sometimes a little more. DH has taken on 3 piano students to help supplement and I am helping my mom in her house. We were never late on mortgage payment, and I am truly amazed because there is no way to describe it but that God was in it, helping us, holding things together. Even with unexpected expenses, the money was always there. What a Faithful Father I have. He concerned himself with taking care of my needs.

So, as I look back on 2010, I have a renewed sense of hope for tomorrow. He was there in the past and he's here today...He is already in tomorrow before I even get there..

This morning, OC(Oswald Chambers) was talking about the fact that God is in our yesterdays, our todays, and our tomorrows. I was really touched regarding this notion especially because I've tried to "forget what lies behind" so perfectly that I don't learn from those things well enough to keep myself from further heartache. Now, don't get me wrong, looking into the past doesn't mean I stay there. That's the point. When you're running a race, you can't look back, around or whatever, you have to keep your focus on the prize..the finish line. There are certain times when it is good to look back (albeit not during the race). You have to take stock in where you are and how you get there. You can't let each little failure take you under, but you musn't ignore them either.

Looking back on failures or challenges offers quite a few benefits: it allows you to see things you couldn't have seen while you were in the middle of the test. Seeing God's hand on us this last year has been invaluable in my walk with him. Tangible evidence of his love and care for us spurs me on in my relationship with him. Looking back also helps in the formulation of a different plan, one which ends in victory rather than defeat.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Discipline---he's getting it.

Tonight was a really strange but amazing experience with my 5yo. He's been ignoring my directions/being really disobedient of late, but I've sensed the Lord showing me how handle it. A few things come to mind already about how I've changed.
  1. I am learning that I need to express my dissatisfaction/unhappiness about misbehavior to my son in a clear, concise way. Telling him exactly what he is doing and how it is affecting me is step one. Dealing with the misbehavior and moving on is step two. I find that I'm not getting angrier and angrier because I'm dealing with each battle one at a time rather than doing full on war over everything.
  2. Sometimes delaying the response to misbehavior works in my advantage. An example would be that I had told him to do something, it wasn't done. I said nothing to him about it but waited until he wanted/needed something from me, then I used that opportunity to get his attention by not giving in to his desire and stated that I didn't have to fulfill what he was asking for because I was unhappy with his behavior.
  3. I began to realize tonight that it is my responsibility to teach my son right from wrong and that sometimes I had to do things I didn't like in order to get his attention and steer him away from the wrong path.

So tonight, I had given my son an instruction and he stuck his tongue out at me. I remained calm but knew that I couldn't let this pass. It was direct defiance of my authority. He asked me if he were going to get a spanking, and I told him yes, that he would be getting a spanking because he had completely disrespected me which was patently unacceptable. After the spanking, I asked him if he had anything to say for himself, and he said that he was sorry for acting that way. I hugged him and held him close to me. I told him that I loved him and that it was my job and his dad's job to help him learn right from wrong and to help him learn to live in a way that would bring glory to God. I told him that the way he acted didn't bring glory to God nor did it make him happy. After all this was finished, he said that he knew his mommy loved him but that she didn't love the way he'd acted. I was so grateful to hear him say that. No discipline is pleasant at the time but in the end yields a harvest of righteousness. Thank you, Jesus.

Taking liberties with time.

This morning, I locked myself into the bathroom with my bible, my notebook, and My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers.

I must find a way to lock out the distractions. This helped a lot even though the boy had awakened when I went in. To my surprise, he left me alone.

The title of the reading was Deserter or Disciple. Boy, does God ever know what's going on in my heart! The gist of it was regarding staying in the light of God's word to me rather than looking at what others are doing or how they are walking. His word is such a lightning rod into my soul, even though He is quite gentle with me. I asked him to show me any area in which I was not walking in the light of His Word for me.

I sensed him saying that I had been taking liberties with time. I've been filling my day with all sorts of things that don't matter...just wasting time playing mah jongg on the computer, not being punctual (disrespecting others with timing) and basically not taking care of the things that are important such as making my house a home.

I am thankful that He is willing to lead me, the mess that I am. I am thankful that He is willing to talk to me without withholding His love for me. I am thankful that He is showing me how I can trust Him to be all that I need.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cataloging the Important-a 30-day challenge.

I wanna use this space to write down what I feel God is telling me right now, right where i am. I have been feeling a great sense of emptiness of late. I've been thinking on the direction of my life and what i've hoped to accomplish or whatever. Whilst cleaning the kitchen yesterday, I sensed the Lord telling me to take stock in what i've been doing...What do i do with my time? What do i focus on? What do i talk about?

Here lately, I've been engrossed in Christmas presents, what the kids would like, the food we'd be having, etc...and playing on the computer. Where was Jesus in all this? I'd like to say that I have a steady quiet time every day, but I don't. I sometimes go weeks without it...and that's a very conservative estimate.

So anyways, I was in Sunday School this week and I know intellectually that I should have a quiet time..I know that 'religiously' too. But I am missing the boat what it is all about... We actually talked about it Sunday...getting to that spot where you just MOVE with the Lord. Where you're not just a 'follower' of Jesus, but that you are doing the things greater than He did. Where you're willing to die based on that belief in who he is. That is something that is not accomplished going the way I have been going. So now that I've examined myself, even this little bit, I find myself wanting.

This blog is a place where I can at least admit it to myself. I've GOT to know this Jesus and what made him tick as a human and how i can tap into his life deeper than I have to this point. I want to catalog a month of discoveries, insights, and actual time spent. This is day ONE...and my Bible and notebook are still in the car. Dan took them to his car, but left them outside and I am still in my jammies and it's COLD outside. Such a picture this is. Help me Lord to see you more clearly in these 30 days.

Monday, December 20, 2010


It's that time of year right? All over target, or was it Macy's was the theme encouraging patrons to believe...."in what?" I ask. In Santa Claus? In Christmas? in oneself? says that to believe means to have confidence in the truth, the existence, or the reliability of something...

Because it is that time of year, we've decided to play the 'Santa' game with our children. We've watched a lot of the stop action animation put out by Rankin and Bass (the ones we grew up on). It's harmless enough to play, guess. We haven't made too big a deal about it this year. Trying, instead to encourage our kids to remember that God gave us the gift of His POWERFUL presence inside us in the person of Jesus. That because of him inside us, we can love, we can give, we can live the victorious life.

I was really thankful to have come across Veggie Tales' The Story of St. Nicholas. The story is set in present day Christmas Eve. All the kids are excited about what is coming that evening and Junior has just been given a coin from his grandparents to spend any way he wishes...

Bob takes notice and asks the children what Christmas is really about, and eventually points them to the manger scene he and Larry are constructing. This, of course brings the question to mind, "What does Santa Claus have to do with baby Jesus?"

At this point, Bob begins the story in Greece at the time of Nicholas, a young boy whose parents were followers of The Way. Their lives had been impacted by Jesus and they were giving to any who had need. A series of events causes Nicholas to run away from his hometown where he finds himself empty and sad.

In his travels, he comes across someone else who, like his parents, was giving because of God's gift to her. It is this turning point that sends him back home to take up the work of his parents to love and care for others in need, even in the face of danger or persecution.

This story was about practical application of God's word into our lives....and it was told for children to understand.

As I think of it, I am stirred to think of the question: Do you believe that what you believe is really real? I'm challenged and haunted by this question especially at this time of year when even those who refuse to believe in Jesus, who was most certainly real are pressing for the rest of us to believe in an idea that doesn't bring last life or peace.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I know, it's not wednesday, but this is certainly a whatever (i feel like posting about). Meta-blogging. What is it? Is it some sort of super blogger?'s just spending your blogging time/space to talk about blogging. I feel it's important to meta-blog as I hammer out the details of what I want this thing for in the first place.

So now, that begs the question, doesn't it? What DO i want to blog about? What is the purpose of this blog (or any for that matter). I suppose that for me, blogging is as much about organizing my thoughts as it is sharing the journey I'm on with others on this old earth. Do I fancy myself as some sort of guru about any certain topic, let me shout a resounding NO WAY. Certainly, there are plenty of experts out there sharing their wealth in some way or other. The bloggers of share humor at what people spend money for on cake decorating. Ree, of shares all sorts of morsels: photography, cooking, homemaking, loving your man. Hannah of shares of her love of photography, baby wearing, cute little brothers among others.

I guess what I see in all this is that everyone has something to offer, something to share with the rest of us. For this reason, I hope to make a difference with the things I post. I hope to be honest about things that terrify me or expose me. Overall, what I want this blog to be is a place to meet discover for myself what makes me tick, but most importantly to catalog the journey that I am on with a Faithful God, and adoring husband, and two treasured children. It is the road that leads me toward contentment...ever closer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


We all have them, good and bad. They are fine until you want to break the status quo--make a new habit and it's a fight Try and break one and you'll find yourself in an uphill struggle.

I guess for me, the challenge of a blog is that I do not have a habit of writing as I did back in April with the A to Z Challenge I was a part of. I made regular time to write everyday. That seemed to work well enough, until May hit. By then I didn't want to write a thing. Perhaps the reason is that I approached it like a sprinter. Someone who expends a bunch of energy for a short time.

Blogging, however seems to be a much more long-range sort of goal, a series of small steps to the greater picture, so to speak. Honestly, it's not too terribly different from meal's all a matter of discipline, which is how habits are made and traded.

Over a year ago, when I saw that our home business had failed and that we'd be living on less, I began making a meal plan. I started using the book Saving Dinner the Low Carb Way by Leanne Ely to help me in the process. Each week there was 6 meals of differing tastes/styles. One night was dedicated for chicken, one for beef, one for pork, one for fish, one for international, and one for crock pot. This has helped me tremendously as I have sought to keep our menu interesting since we would no longer be going out. So Step one for preparing the blogging framework should have something to do with themed blogs. I've seen several that do this (like she has a menu planning day, a thankful day, a wordnerd day to name a few. I think something like that could be very helpful...just to have a frame upon which to hang my thoughts.

The first thing that comes to my mind is alliterative: Whatever Wednesday. This could be a catchall for all kinds of things that pop into my head that need writing down. (yeah, I know, it's Tuesday as I write this, but I hafta start somewhere.)

With this, I shall begin the habit of writing on Wednesday. One baby-step at a time...Perhaps I'll come up with another category that will suit me. Until then, I'll be a one-note wonder.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

reaping the benefits...

Today, my 5yo was such a help to me. I've been teaching him to do certain tasks related to laundry (which I abhor). Instead of giving him the whole heap, I had him do little chunks of activity:empty the dryer into the hamper, bring the hamper full of clean clothes to me. I folded and sorted. I sent him on several tiny missions:take Mommy's socks to her drawer and put them in. Do you know where Mommy's sock drawer is? take Mommy's underwear and put them in her drawer, like this, see? and so it goes. He was happy to do small jobs with a little help from me and it really did lighten my load. He put away all the socks and underwear for the whole family (and reduced my workload considerably). I was SO thankful and proud....I am reaping the benefits of spending time teaching him what I expect.

A couple o' things stand out as I reflect on the events of this afternoon:

1) Learning doesn't happen after teaching just once but it is a series of steps mastered one at a time and not necessarily in logical order. Spending the time now to teach him will be an incredible asset when he's mastered it all...I'll be able to hand the responsibility over to him and feel reasonably sure it'll be done close to the way he was taught.

2)He thrives on being able to show off his skills. I think he does feel some sort of satisfaction when he's done a good job or when he's learned something new. I need to construct learning opportunities for him like this.

3)He does not see things as I see them. I'm going to have to remember that though he's learned a lot about what I expect or how life is on Planet Mommy, he's still an alien visitor and must be treated as such.

What a treat it is to see him growing in this way. He is such a treasure!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thankful to have a mom...thankful to be a mom.

Since it's Mother's Day in these United States, I think it fitting to put down some thoughts on it. I grew up in a blended family, with two half-sisters by law but full sisters in my heart, and a brother. My mom worked hard to make sure we all we needed and some of what we wanted. She had to work a full-time job to help make ends meet. I missed getting to have a lot of time with her, but I will not go on record to say that I was cheated in any way. My mom had lots to deal with that I never knew about. There are vague ramblings that my dad had a gambling problem in addition to his alcohol addiction. She was the shield that kept us from living a lot of the ugliness that came with alcoholism. I think my oldest sister was the one who knew the most about what was really going on. I am thankful I did not. My older sisters lived through lots of stuff I cannot even begin to comprehend, but they supported my mom. They helped her manage things when she couldn't handle some of it.

My mom did a lot in the way of helping make sure my brother and I actually had a childhood. We enjoyed care-free days and nights most of the time. She was never too hard on us...and this was because she wanted to counteract the harshness from my dad. Granted, he was tied up inside with all his own junk. I can't necessarily blame him/his problem for all the evil that was in my life. Now that I am an adult/parent, I sense some of the struggle he had...his drug of choice was alcohol...mine is church and food and approval.

I guess I never really pictured my life with kids. I never really considered that I would get married, and this not because of any vow or promise or anything, I just didn't think it was for me. It took not a little convincing on DH's part to agree to marry in the first place. Thank God he was persistent, patient, and prudent. More than anything, being married is forcing me into relationship issues I've long run from. It's hard to avoid some things for forever, as much as I would want to. Currently, I'm embroiled in an internal battle regarding anger issues. It's not been fun to be around me, I'll bet....

What is at issue is that of suppressed grief...and why should I have any really? I have cute, healthy, clever, mostly obedient children. They have what they need and several things they want. I guess it's part of dealing with expectations. You know, before you get married, you have an ideal picture of what married life is supposed to be about. He'll come home from work and act as though you were on his every thought all day long. He'll tell you what a great cook and homemaker you are. You'll cook fabulous meals every night. The housework will be effortless and you'll love every minute of it. ...Then reality sets in. He comes home after a long hard day, hits the computer chair, doesn't come to the dinner table when it's hot. Nevermind that the recipe you used was something that looked good on paper but the actual execution of it was sorta ho hum. If you're lucky, you talk about your hopes and dreams instead of listening to his complaints about the job. You're left to clean the kitchen and do the dishes. He goes back to his computer, and you sit down at yours, too tired to even imagine any scenario different from the one you're in. and you're stuck.

The same is true with before the kids arrive. You have all these ideas about how kids should be raised, what they should DO, how they should talk...your pet phrase starts out "if that were my kid..." Then you get the picture: reality. Maybe the baby comes home and all she does is scream for hours and hours and all you want to do is just get a little bit of unbroken sleep because pregnancy was not kind to you in this department. You have to give up certain foods you LOVE and need while breastfeeding because it causes more crying and less sleep.

Once you make it past infant stage, then there's potty training, self-feeding and baby's favorite game of drop dinner on the floor. Add another kid into the mix of un-managed grief and you're bound to be crazy. Somewhere in the middle of all this, I am barely treading water. I've taken on more in my life than I ever imagined and it's not really making a difference.

The other night, I dreamed that I was going to work for Kroger(a grocery chain in TN). Now granted, I never applied for the job, but they sent me a letter in the mail telling me what my schedule was. I showed up for work with some sort of uniform on, and started training, no meeting with the boss, I just went over to the shelves and started straightening up stuff because it was all in disarray...When I finished that, I ran into a friend on the next aisle and said I'd help her with that aisle. Then I started getting really sleepy...i mean REALLY sleepy. So I just left work and went home to take a nap. I never saw the manager, I never clocked in or out, and I didn't finish my shift. What's more, when I woke up, I had the intention to go back to the store to work more but could not find my uniform. The house was in TOTAL disrepair (not to mention the fact that it appeared to be the house I grew up in and not my current one). I just blew it completely off.

Why bring this up? It's a picture of my life as a mom. I signed up for something unknowingly. I showed up, but never clocked in. I never got my orders from the Boss (who is Jesus for those who claim to belong to him), I never found out what He wanted me to do. Instead, I looked to others, friends, books, etc... In the end, I did not finish the job. It overwhelmed me with sleepiness...and I never got paid.

I don't want this to be the end. I've let myself forget the days that I cried and cried over not being a mom, of losing a baby and the desire to have children. I've let myself forget the sweet moments just being able to hold my boy in my arms and smile at him. I've let myself forget so many of his cute little words or his little fat fingers. My eyes have filled up with the WORK of being a mom rather than on the Joy of just having my babies near me. (Martha v. Mary) I guess I'm feeling the pang of regret because in just 3 short months, he'll be going off to kindergarten....then he'll be entering into yet another phase in his life...toward more independence. Here is one part of the grief.

Another facet is that because of the work of being a mom, there is a loss. I've never really been able to grasp these ultra high feelings of "WOW, being a mom is the best thing in the world, ever." It's been a struggle because of the loss of my freedom, my time, my sleep. In the end, I know the trade off will be worth it, but here in the trenches, it gets pretty discouraging. Couple that with taking on more responsibility/work than is my fair share, and well, you've got a ticking time bomb on your hands. Don't get me wrong, though. I love my kids. I can do without for their sake, but something has GOT to give.

That is where I am. I am learning. I am learning to let go of some stuff for the greater good. It's at this point that I go to the back room where the Boss hangs out and say, "What would you like me to get done today? Can you teach me how to handle the disappointments of being caught off guard when my kids' behavior doesn't match the textbook in my head? Can you show me how to focus on the majors? Can you teach me to handle my own failures in a way that doesn't bring harm in my relationships?"

Lord Jesus, You are my supreme Boss. I look to you for each day's assignment. I look to you to give me the strength to NOT take on the world. I thank you for my mom. I thank you for my babies. Thank you for what they all teach me. Make me more like You.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

a to z challenge reflection

i really enjoyed this. i was able to get into things in my own head that i'd not been able to. besides this, i decided today was no caps day. so i won't be using any. i found lots of neat blogs and got to know one friend that lives in my real life a little better. another thing i learned was all the different ways folks use their blogs... there were so many out there. some used pictures every time they posted...(i'd really like to know how they did it...i've got some pics...but i don't even begin to know about where to find images that match what i'm saying.) others had a special task assigned to a particular day, like 10 things, menu planner, debate thursday. this was especially helpful to me as a way to think of creating more writing...a structure if you will. ummm i found out too that it is a lot easier to blog about something than to really talk about it in real life and that that bothers me some. as a blogger i have a persona or something like it that gives way for me to be able to 'fake it.' perhaps you all have me figured out already, but i feel a little funny about the whole talking the talk but really am struggling at the moment with walking it all out. and granted, i realize that because of the nature of blogging, it is easy to do this. what i want to do is strike the balance between too much and not enough.

at any rate, thank you Arlee Bird for the challenge it's been a fun ride.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

5 times the fun

I was tagged for this by my friend melody who blogs. It's a fun game where I get to answer 5 questions 5 times.

Question 1 Where were you five years ago?
1. at home with a 6 week old baby boy.
2. in this house
3. doing house church
4. married for nearly 4 years
5. deciding on whether or not i would go back to work (the answer was no)

Question 2 Where would you like to be 5 years from now?
1. perhaps in Olive Branch
2. working part time maybe...decorating cakes
3. 4 years away from being debt free (we only have the mortgage)
4. realizing a dream to help newlywed wives learn to cook easy meals..i dunno about this one's just in the thinking stage right now
5. helping out at school where my kids attend.

Question 3 What is on your to do list today?
1. finish the laundry
2. look over my ss lesson
3. check on my peeps (it's stormy in my town today)
4. menu planning
5. fill-in grocery shopping.

Question 4 What 5 snacks do you enjoy?
1. chips and cheese dip
2. cheese and crackers
3. fruit
4. sweet peppers
5. pretzels and sour cream

Question 5 What would you do if you were a billionaire?
1. hmmmm. travel, maybe...sounds good in theory. I would like to see places in the USA by camper. I want to see Mount Rushmore, Washington DC, California, Oregon, Washington state, Virginia, Chicago (again)...i think i'd like to see foreign countries, but as i think of it i'm a little put off by the world situation right now.
2. give to my church, ministries that friends are working for, missionaries, etc...
3. pay off my move out of memphis (or move downtown...the hubs would love that--on the bluffs)
4. pay off my mom's debts so she could retire and piddle around to her heart's content.
5. put money into retirement/college fund for the kiddos.

Tagging 5 friends I would like to know more about (Lisa) (hannah) shannon chris Kathleen

Friday, April 30, 2010

Catch some zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs

Ever since the day my 2yo was born, this has been a fleeting thought. Unlike my 5yo, it took her 8 mos to learn to sleep through the night. I really love my sleep. And honestly, it really suffered with her arrival.

Without it, lots of things fell to the ground, paying bills on time (not because of the money but because of the lack of presence of mind), balancing the checkbook, etc...You could say that a lot of things suffered during that time, some of which I'm still trying to get back.

As I work toward getting back to having the handle I had 2.5 years ago, one thing that I notice now, more than ever. I need my sleep. My nerves cannot handle those days when the zzzzs allude me. Ask my hubby and my kids, it's not pretty. Beyond this, I have to say, that it's a struggle to remain hopeful when I'm working on less than my full allotment and that is the enemy of contentment and the reason I must protect my sleep at all costs. This means staying as far away from technology as I can at times. Sorry Facebook, you're gonna have to do without me...and yeah, i don't think it'll really miss me. The DVRd stuff has to wait another day or week. The telephone has to be ignored on my end--no calling out. Let the hubs answer the phone.
Ignore the cellphone/put it on silent...hey that's a good idea. It's time for a nap.

Y Is for yummmmness

Yes, i know, it's not really a word, but hey, it is a great way to blog about Y. For me, it's an essential part of "Y" I do what I do. I bake and decorate cakes. Who wants to waste time eating cake that doesn't have the yummmmmness factor?

For me the epitome of good cake is wedding cake. I LOVE it, but now that I am in my late 30s, most of my friends have already gotten married, so there are precious and few weddings I do get attend. Not to mention that I would have to take the 2 and 5 year olds--not an option. And this means no wedding cake. Tragic.

Not too long ago, when I started decorating cakes (Yowser, it's been over 5 years now!? Where'd the time go?) a friend of mine introduced me to a cake flavoring that in some circles is called wedding cake flavor...Today, it's my passport to the place where I get to have the cake my tastebuds jump for. Now, I can have it whenever I want to bake it. I use it whenever I make a white cake and everyone else seems to have the same reaction...YUMMMMMNESS! I guess you could say my personal cake philosophy is that everyday should be a day to have the yumminess of a wedding cake.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

X marks the spot

Sound familiar? Now you're thinking of a pirate's treasure map, aren't you? I know I am. How often we look at life and see this treasure map of someplace else promising wealth, treasure, and happiness. So then what? We start planning on looking for the X in our lives, getting our equipment ready, daydreaming about what we'll do with said treasure, not to mention all the legwork:walking, searching, digging.

Somehow or other, the X never seems to be found or it doesn't hold the allure it did in our imaginations when we finally do find it. And in the end, we are left twice depressed because the thing we sought didn't satisfy and the search has sucked the very life out of where we are.

This is not as God intended! Ever seen those little plaques with the saying "Bloom where you are planted?" X for me is Tennessee, raising two kids under 6, living on one paycheck. It's MY spot...the one God has given me. Shall I not receive it with thanksgiving? Would I dare look for another X that was easier? I will not. There is treasure to be found here in this X, and I, to God be the glory, will claim it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

W is for Whatever.

How much has this little word creeped into your vocabulary? Someone cut you off in traffic, "Whatever dude, this is your world and i'm just driving in it." How about listening to the news or talk radio about politics...whatEVER! In today's context, it means whatever you think, whatever you're gonna do, I don't care. Truthfully, this is really disheartening. I mean, really. Some folks need to be cared for...and if they're going down the wrong path, doesn't someone need to at least give 'em a heads up that the road will cease to exist? Not today, not in our postmodern existence. This is tolerance, or so I'm told. Let friends, family members, acquaintances run their life into oblivion, Whatever they want. Really?

We've adopted a don't ask, don't tell policy about everything. Nothing is ok to talk about, because your reality is your reality even if it contradicts REALITY. And yeah, there are some that would say that absolute truth doesn't fit in our world. That no truth is more important than another...and this extends into no living thing is more important than another and this is where it descends into lunacy when folks get more upset about the President of the United States smashing a fly than about the loss of human life. Mixed up, eh?

This morning, I was sitting still and remembered this song "Whatever is true," that is a song from Philippians 4:8.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is lovely--if ANYTHING* is excellent or praiseworthy, think on such
things. (emphasis added)

The song goes like this:
Whatever is true,
whatever is right
whatever is pure
whatever is lovely
we will fix our thoughts on these things

Jesus you're true
Jesus you're right
Jesus you're pure
You are lovely
We will fix our thoughts on you!

Jesus, Jesus, who is like you, who is like you?
Jesus, Jesus, who is like you, who is like you?
Jesus, Jesus, who is like you, who is like you?
Jesus, Jesus, who is like you, who is like you?
who is like you?

It is my hope and aim to let the latter whatever be the one that comes from my lips, that I may become more like this One, so lovely, pure, right, and true who is willing that none should perish and who died for me, even while I was yet a sinner.

Monday, April 26, 2010

V is for Virtual Reality

I don't know about you, but when I first encountered this term, I was at the end of high school. There were these bulky helmet-like things you put on your head to fool your eyes into believing you were no longer living in this reality but in a completely different one altogether. I remember thinking, this will NEVER catch on, it's too's too bulky. Now, some 20 years later, it seems that virtual reality is here to stay. Who woulda thunk the graphics for video games would have become SO lifelike? I'm not sure I did. I played video games like Tetris and Mario brothers. I never got the feeling that I was in the world the Mario lived was too pixelly, too undefined, too cartoony.

Nowadays, playing games like WOW or Lord of the Rings Online(LOTRO) it is very easy to get sucked into the world because the graphics are so much more life-like. Nintendo takes it a step further where it lets the player control the motions of an avatar through her own movements--and this without the dorky helmet.

So what's the point, eh? The point is that just like those video gamers out there, I am living in two realms, the natural and the spiritual. While sometimes, it's tempting to keep focused on the natural with all that we can see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, there is another world that is beckoning to be experienced for in God, the SPIRITUAL is the reality rather than the natural. God is not limited to just what I can see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. I am a citizen of Heaven and I eagerly await a Savior from there. (phil. 3:21). Getting caught up in things around here can serve to deter me or detour me from the road I am on.

An (U)ndivided heart.

Ps. 86:11
Teach me your way, Oh Lord
and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart
that I may fear your name.

Ever tried to multitask too many things, like making dinner, keeping an eye on the kids, and talking on the phone? I know none of you do this, or if you do, you are a success at it, but for me, I feel the pressure and the heat and honestly, I can't take it. Dinner ends up being a flop, the kids get grumped at, and the whole family suffers as the result.

I remember some teaching from someone many years ago that talked about dissipated energy. I think I finally get it now. I only have so much energy to spread around for the things that must be accomplished today. I have to give time and attention to my husband, to my kids, to everyone's meals all day long, to my own body, to the cat, to the computer, to a cake, to the television, to the house, to the bills, to the concert band with whom I play, to the french horn, to the piano, to the guitar, to my friends, to my aunt, to my mom, to my sister, to my van, to my kids' things, to my hubby's things, and the beat goes on... Sometimes, my attention has to be on a lot more of these than I can physically manage. So what's the key? How do I juggle it all?

The first step is to put all the balls into the hands of the One who is the greatest multitasker. He attends to all the details of the world and all the people of the world at the same time, and because he's perfect in all he does, everything gets done right, no, perfectly. He alone can manage all these things with ease. My job description is to live to His glory...whatever I do, whether work or play, to work at it with all my heart, as working for the Lord and not for men. (Col 3:23) My job is to make breakfast for my children for the LORD, to fix my hubby's lunch for the LORD, to clean my house for the LORD, to blog, for the LORD. To shop for groceries for the LORD. To do the dishes or laundry for the LORD.

So wait, how do I get all those things done and still have time for the "spiritual" stuff. Here's a newsflash (for ME) God doesn't separate any of the work we do into the cateogires of spiritual and non-spiritual. God is SPIRIT and those who worship him must do so in spirit and in truth. I take his Spirit with me wherever I am. So, if I have to wash dishes, he's there with me. If I do a terrible job of it or spend my time complaining about it, He's right there with me watching and hearing how I am doing it.

I am in no way saying that anyone should neglect time with the Lord because they have dishes to do, but I am saying that the time doing the dishes can be pleasing to the Lord if they are done for His glory. I want to be like Eric Liddel who when he ran, felt the pleasure of the Lord. I want to feel the pleasure of the Lord as I wipe counters, kiss boo boos, play my french horn, fold laundry, or sing songs. That is my aim and my goal: an undivided heart--one that lives for the Lord and reverences(fears) him.

(S)tinking (T)hinking

For those of you out there who read after Marla Cilley (aka the "FLYLady") you've heard this term before. It's something that must be eradicated if one is ever to really "FLY" or Finally LOVE yourself. More than that, it must be replaced with the truth. You see, we have an enemy and one of his most powerful tools is the lie. And lots of times, these lies are swallowed hook line and sinker because they are not the outrageous and far fetched, but they're insidious, insipid, cleverly fashioned partial truths that we take on without batting an eye because of the veneer of truth.

Personally, I feel as though I'm swimming in the sea of "half"-truth (put this in quotations because there are some lies that to say half truth is exaggerating a puddle into the ocean). The most glaring right now is that my life is mine to do with it what I will. And while there is some truth to this, it's not ALL true. The Word says: You are not your own, you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

Now, the context of this is sexual immorality, but the Truth speaks to more areas than just this. It all boils down to motivation. Why do I do the things I do? To answer this question is to bring into focus the ultimate aim for such action: is it to be stroked in my ego? is it because I want to impress someone (which inevitably comes back to me--trying to curry favor with someone who can give me something I want be it a stroke on my ego or influence for a situation) Ultimately, if my answer to the question of why I do what I do is answered in any other way than to honor God, then I'm believing the lie. And living the life believing the lie is living the life that is not victorious. Because the way a person thinks determines the way s/he acts.

I know that this is not the whole of the lies I'm believing. I know I will visit this note often. So why is it in my blog about contentment? It's because it's a hinderance to being content in the Lord. The lie separates, the truth sets free.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

R is for Regret

Regret is something most people live with no matter how big or small whether they want to or not. Now granted, some regrets are biggies (like buyer's remorse, second thoughts about marriage partners, career choices) and some are just mild irritations, like "Oh, I wish I hadn't turned here," or "if only I'd remembered to start the pot roast at 1 instead of 2." As little as they may seem, they are regrets.

The truth is, what separates the biggies from the littles is the consequence. I mean, unless your action really costs something, it's probably in the latter category. I feel like most of my life is in between the biggies and their lessor counterparts. I'm pretty happy with my life, for the most part. I have a steadfast and faithful husband for whom I'm very thankful. I've survived the first 2.5 years of having two kids, though at times I've considered putting them on ebay. I love the house we bought, the cars we drive are a real blessing. The thing I struggle with is creating more drama over the regrets that don't matter than I do with the consequences of regrets that DO matter. I struggle with the ankle-biters. And no, I'm not referring to my kids here...the little regrets that seek to become bigger than they should be. I worry that I am not doing any better than my parents did, not that everything was a wash. I worry that I am not doing enough as a parent, that I'm already ruining/scarring my kids' lives by the foolishness I'm caught up in. I worry that I could be doing more at church, furthering the Kingdom of God. I worry that I don't measure up.

So, as I am thinking on this and ruminating on it, I want to put out here that there are a few things at work: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The modus operandum for the world is to look out for number one here and by extension, to look out for my kids and their interests. Make sure that you spend all your waking moments pouring every bit of whatever time, resources, whatever into making sure your kid is the smartest, earliest reader, the most focused, agile athlete, the most intuitive, tuneful musician...the best s/he can be.

Sometimes, I get caught up in it and feel like I need to join this system for the sheer number of folks who are already on the bandwagon, but honestly, I just don't have the energy, the time, not to mention, the money. Do I want my kids to "be excellent in what is good?" of course I do, just not at the expense of everyone else in the family, hubs included.

The flesh...the weakest link. I find myself often wanting just to be a part of everything, but thanks be to God, my flesh will not allow it. Paul coins it well saying the good he wants to do, he does not do but the evil that he does not want to do...but then there comes the regret again, something to keep the wheels turning. I want to choose well. I want to honor God above myself, but I am inconsistent.

...and then there's the Devil. His job is to steal, kill, and destroy, and he does a pretty good job of it. I was recently at a women's conference where the speaker reminded us of this fact and honestly, in my mind, I saw it as though for the first time. I'd been dull to it. Satan wants to steal away my peace/my hope so that I don't fight against him. He wants to kill my dreams in the Lord so I am like the living dead...a spiritual zombie. He wants to destroy my witness for God by taking all this stuff away. What I realized was that I'd been stuck in the physical the whole time, thinking Satan was just out to physically kill much better for him if I am spiritually dead or like the walking wounded, unable to reflect God's glory to those around me?
One of his favorite tools is a magnifying glass. He wants to make everything, even those teeny regrets look ENORMOUS to me so that I will turn my focus off of the WAY-Maker.

As I bring this entry to a close, I want to spend some time MAGNIFYING the WAY MAKER!
Papa God, there is nothing that is too hard for you. You have every resource of power available to you because you ARE power. Help me to remember to meditate on your goodness, your omnipotence in every situation. Be Glorified in me!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Q is for Questionnaires

Remember Slam books from High school? Where you were asked questions about what your house would be like when you grew up, how many kids you would have, what kind of job you'd have? Sorta moot now that reality has made it's mark. I LOVE questionnaires. I have always loved answering questions about myself. Let's face it, we all have a little narcissism deep down.

The thing about questionnaires is that they never allow the questioner in too deep. Personally, I wouldn't like them so much if they did. Questionnaires are safe. It's controlled communication which lets the questionee off the hook a little. The reality for me is a catch-22. I want to be known, but I keep the deeper, darker parts of myself hidden. I see this as a link to yesterday's post Perfectionism keeps me from letting myself be known. It is probably one of my greatest fears that people will find out who I really am and then run far away from me. Sometimes I think if I really knew me, I'd run.

Keeping people at arms length is safe, but lonely...and when it is all said and done, I think I see the me that I am and I don't like me, so why should anyone else? I see myself as Stasi Eldredge says in her book, Captivating, "I am too much... and not enough" Too talkative, too loud, too self-centered, too harsh, too unyielding, too bound up, too heavy. Not spiritual enough, not content enough, not nurturing enough, not with-it enough, not brave enough, not real enough. It is this that keeps me running hard to try and get to know other people and what they like so that they won't get in to that secret place where the "too-much-and-not-enough" lives.

At this, I call on you Papa God. Show me how to live loved, out in the open. Help me to be brave enough to allow others to see the mess I really am. Show me tangibly how much you love me for I am too dull to see it on my own. Awaken in me the sensitivity to your Spirit that I could see myself as you do.

Isaiah 41:9,10
I took you from the ends of the earth, from it's farthest corners I called you.
I said, "You are my servant, I have chosen you and have not rejected you."
So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

P is for Perfectionism

Perfectionism is the passionate pursuit of procuring of that which is unattainable. It is being the supreme best at being a wife, mother, sister, daughter, teacher, musician, friend, pet owner. It is always doing the right thing, saying the right thing, thinking the right thing, being the right thing. It is a slave driver, it is a ravenous monster that seeks to devour anyone and anything in it's path. It fills one up with the vain notion that perfection can really be attained, that one should have known better, done better, felt better, been better, all of which brings the pursuer of it loads and loads and LOADS of condemnation (There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus) because the reality of it is that it just AIN'T possible. Not only this, it brings with it self-pity. "oh, i know i shoulda done better than that...i must be a real lout..."

Perfectionism is responsible for quite a lot of are paralyzed with fear that you'll fail, paralyzed from action because of indecision, paralyzed from being able to enjoy the moment and being able to laugh at yourself because you're so stuck on the 'transgression' you can't even begin look outside yourself and realize some things have to be learned through trial and ERROR and that is not a bad thing.

Perfection is a monster, its terrors too great to count. It is a robber and a thief. It robs your ability to enjoy your children, because Lord knows, they make lots of mistakes and act exactly the opposite of how you think they should. It steals your hope because you're walking on a tightrope all the time, muscles tight, never able to relax. It swipes your rest because you sit up and worry about things you did or didn't do that you shoulda or shouldn't have. It grabs your energy and your will to fight.

So as I sit and write about this wicked beast, I am looking for power to cut him off at the pass. NO MORE 'stinkin' thinkin'" (something the FlyLady reiterates in her postings). Bringing him and his dastardliness to light is a start, so as I do this, I will call on the name of the Lord, my God.

Lord, I don't know what to do, but my eyes are on you. Help me rout this monster. HE MUST GO! Show me the way to walk in the peace of your presence. Nothing is too difficult for you!

For with God all things are possible.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

O is for Outdoors

OH there is nothing quite like a night out under stars, around a fire, cooking hot dogs and s'mores. What a great memory we built this weekend. My close friend and I took my kiddos ages 5 and 2 on their first outdoor adventure. All week there was the build up. It was cool just to see the wonder of the great big world in my 5 year old's eyes. He was so adorable out there. He was a big helper since he was the only guy around. He loved it. He set the table, helped pop the tents.

He also got the chance to ride his bike unfettered by the street that is sometimes a speed course on our street. He wanted to ride everywhere and be free. It was such an honor to share this with him because he honestly appreciated it. The 2yo was just glad to be a part, but Pearce, really loved it.

I'm not going to use this blog as a platform for what's wrong in our society, but I will say that being able to be out there was a way to partially reclaim some of what's been lost over the years to technology, blipping and beeping, flashing and whirring. Being outdoors where you are not in control. You get to see your place in this world. You are small. Exactly as it should be.

Friday, April 16, 2010

(M)y (N)ame

I've never liked it...even a little bit. Jeanice Lynlee Lott is the name my parents gave me. (M)y (n)ickname was supposed to be Jinni. I didn't like that either. In the early 1970s, when I was born, Jenni, Jennifer, Jenny, was all too common. Lots of times people misspelled it, which I hated. I hated having to tell people, "No, it's not Jenni/Jenny or any of the above." Worse than that, I hated that I didn't ever get to buy one of these neat personalized things because they only used Jenni or Jenny.

I remember that my Great Aunt Dot bought me a tan coin purse back in 1985 with the name Jenni on it. I took it as an opportunity to take back all that I'd lost by being given the name Jinni. I started spelling my name completely pompous was that? My parents had chosen my name and trampled upon their choice with combat boots. They made my name up as some in the South are wont to do. Jean was my paternal grandmother's name, Clarice was my maternal grandmother's name, smash 'em together you get Jeanice. Lyn was from my mother's name Linda and Lee was my dad's middle name and voila'. A completely unique name created by my parents and their vision for me to stand out from the sea of Jennifers/Jennis/Jennies but the truth was, I just wanted to fit into a nice neat pre-printed label. I didn't want to be Jinni/Jeanice or any of it. I wanted to call the shots on what my name would be. ...the horror!

I guess what makes this all the more a tale of woe, at least on my part is that this behavior/rejection was not only of my parents, but really also of God. He is the one that decides who gets to be our parents, which in turn is the deciding factor for what country we live in, what sort of lifestyle/socio-economic background we'll have. He determines all this without even asking us. For He is the blessed controller of all things...which he uses for our ultimate good--to draw us to him. How utterly and grossly arrogant of me to have changed my name, the spelling of it at least...and now it's too late to go back, or so it would seem.

Papa God, please forgive me for my contempt of the way You run things. You do all things well. You knew exactly what you were doing when you placed me with the family you gave me, the parents I have, the siblings, all this. I confess to you that i am not God, nor a god. I am your child, your servant. I will seek to honor you in all my ways because you are worthy of my life, my love, my all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

L is for Laundry

Before you run screaming from the sheer terror that it invokes, I ask you to consider laundry.

  • as evidence of your blessings. The fact is, we have more clothing as individuals than do many towns in third world countries. We have summer clothes, winter clothes, dress-up/Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, play clothes, sports outfits, pajamas, underclothes. I am THANKFUL that I have a change of clothes and multiple pairs of underwear. All this is possible because of LAUNDRY
  • as evidence of one thing that doesn't change much: Entropy...our clothes are constantly in a state of getting dirtier and dirtier, just by virtue of being worn. The good news is, this is temporary. The Bible says we'll be made new, no longer clothed in decaying bodies or clothes that are getting dirtier by the moment. We will be CHANGED!
  • as a reminder that we are fallen. Cursed is the ground because of you, God says to Adam, through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Those of you who've stared at the grandeur of what the FlyLady, Marla Cilley calls Mount Washmore, know the painful toil it is.
  • as a picture of what Christ has done for me. I go through life and get dirt and muck on me but in the washing machine of his love I'm made clean and right before God.
  • as a reminder of the progress we've made. We no longer have to use stones and lake water to clean our clothes. The machines we're using today are more efficient and effortless than those of days gone by....yet the task remains still to be done, that is unless someone comes up with a way to make disposeable clothing--even though that would probably set the ecologists/tree-huggin' folk off on more than one account.

As I sit and write this, I'm thankful for my slaves that are working hard so that I don't have to, thankful that I have clothes to wash and electricity with which to wash them. Life is good.

J and K are for JUST KEEP...

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.
-Dory from Finding Nemo.

It's funny how you can find a little inspiration even from a cartoon movie that the kids just HAVE to watch over and over and over and over ad infinitum. When I joined this challenge, I was already behind. I knew I had to do something to catch up. That's when I started thinking of this song.

I remember when I used to teach school and they'd have awards ceremony. The speaker for one of those events told about a man who'd never missed a day of work in 40 years. I suppose you'd be hard pressed to find many people with the same work ethic. Those who come to work every day, even when not feeling their best, to do their share.

As I sit and type this, I have a 2 year old calling, persistently, "mommy....mommy....mommy,... MOMMY, MOoooooooooo0mmy..." Even at this tender age, she understands that even if I answer her, she has to just keep calling my name so that I'll come into the kitchen to answer her request (or demand, depending on which side of the wall you're on).

Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray
and not give up. He said: "In a certain town there was a judge who neither
feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept
coming to him with the plea, ' Grant me justice against my adversary.

"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, 'Even though I
don't fear God or care about ment, yet because this widow [just] keeps bothering
me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually wear me out
with her coming.

And the Lord said, "Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God
bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will
he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and
quickly, too. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:1-8

How many times do I just ask and assume that God said no? Why can't I be more persistent like my kids. They NEVER seem relent when it comes to asking for bzzert, a toy, to play a game.

Lord, help me learn this lesson JUST KEEP going, to JUST KEEP asking, to JUST KEEP seeking, to JUST KEEP knocking. Open my eyes that I may see life as you see it, not as it appears to me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

He Is (yes, that is TWO letters, I'm closing in!)

In Genesis, HE's the Breath of Life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He's the High Priest
Numbers, the Fire by Night
Deuteronomy, He's Moses' voice
In Joshua, He is Salvation's Choice

Judges, Law Giver
Ruth, the Kinsman-Redeemer
First and Second Samuel, our Trusted Prophet
In Kings and Chronicles He's Sovereign

Ezra, True and Faithful Scribe
Nehemiah, He's rebuilder of broken walls and lives
In Esther, He's Mordecai's Courage
In Job, the Timeless Redeemer

In Psalms, He's our Morning Song
In Proverbs, He's Wisdom's Cry
Ecclesiastes, the Time and Season
Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Isaiah, He's Prince of Peace
In Jeremiah, the weeping prophet
In Lamentations, the cry for Israel
Ezekiel, the call from sin

In Daniel, the stranger in the fire

In Hosea, He is forever faithful
In Joel, He's the Spirit's power
In Amos, the arms that carry us

In Obadiah, He's the Lord our Savior
In Jonah, He's the great missionary

In Micah, the promise of peace
In Nahum, He is our strength and shield

In Habakkuk and Zephaniah, he is pleading for revival
In Haggai, He restores a lost heritage
In Zechariah, our Fountain

In Malachi, He is the Son of Righteousness with Healing in his Wings

He is, He is, HE IS!

In Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, He is God, Man, Messiah
In Acts, He is fire from Heaven
In Romans, He's the grace of God
In Corinthians, the power of love
In Galatians, He is freedom from the curse of sin

In Ephesians, our glorious treasure
Philippians, the servant's heart
In Colossians, He's the godhead trinity
Thessalonians, our coming king

In Timothy, Titus, Philemon, He's our mediator and our faithful pastor

In Hebrews the everlasting covenant
In James, the one who heals the sick
In First and Second Peter, He is our Shepherd
In John and in Jude, He is the lover coming for His bride.
In the Revelation, He is King of kings and Lord of lords

The Prince of Peace
The Son of Man
The Lamb of God
The Great I AM

He's the Alpha and Omega
Our God and our Savior
He is Jesus Christ the Lord
And when time is no more

He is, He is, HE IS.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

G is for Getting Older

Ok, so I'm scratching 37...but I'm wont to say where did my youth go? It seems just like yesterday that I was finishing my degree, starting a new job teaching school, no kids, no attachments, just a kitty and room in the apartment I shared with a girlfriend.

Somehow or other, being in the sunset of my 30s has come in full force. I'm not saying I'm OLD necessarily, but I am wondering how I got here. It is evident in my clothing choices and my television programming...I avoid certain cuts of clothing that 'all the kids' are wearing. I watch American Idol and think, "awwww...what a cute kid," and I'm talking about the 20 somethings. I

Truly this is an age old question, but really, how does it happen? I mean, I guess I imagined myself 15 or so years ago as someone who'd join Peter Pan's gang of folk who'd never grow up. But I see myself as someone in the middle: not ready to admit to being adult but really uncomfortable with the younger set--ok, that's a little harsh...I just don't really feel their vibe.

I'm just not sure about it all...but one thing I do know, it's not the end of me. I'm embracing every moment left of my thirties and will be elated to hit 40. It's all an adventure and I'm up for the challenge.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

F is for Frustration, Fights, Fire, Forgiveness.

So this weekend was a Ladies' retreat for church, right? Much prayer had gone into it, much preparation, much love, much cooking. The speaker was a gal from Louisiana and the Lord used her mightily. Friday night had been such an encouragement...the music, the message, the movement of God was undeniable. Then Saturday came.

It was a challenge, an honest to goodness challenge. I got up thinking I might get a jump on the day's blog and proceeded to begin writing about my wonderful family mom, step-dad, sister...then the first one woke up. He wanted muffins for breakfast. Not too much later, the baby woke up...both were ready to eat. I got up from my computer and started to attend to them..making sure the big boy had made his bed, gotten dressed, etc..dressing the little one in case they were going to go do something. DH kept on snoring in his bed. I thought he mentioned he might take them to get breakfast so I wanted them to be sure to be dressed and ready so he wouldn't have to do all the prep by himself. I emptied the dishwasher and reloaded, moved a load of laundry over and started another, checked and changed the baby's had been a wet night...but then the thermometer inside me starting dinging that we were approaching frustration mode...I had taken a plate from the baby who was now screaming like a banshee protecting her young, she had awakened the giant, and I still hadn't gotten into the shower. Finally, I managed to get the muffins out of the oven so that I could clean up before my friend arrived to take me to the meeting. Not long after this cleansing, I was faced with an affront...a personal one, so rather than doing what we've prepared to do, I called out to my husband to speak to his son about his words and the next thing I know I'm in the middle of a firestorm. Dan and I are arguing the kids were crying and upset, and I STILL needed to get out the door.

Why should I be surprised? This is not the first time it's gone down like this and it probably won't be the last.
1 Peter 4:12 says:
Friends, when life gets really difficult, don't jump to the conclusion that God isn't on the job. Instead be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner. (the Message)

What's more than this, my friend had arrived to pick me up to go back to the women's meeting. So, not only did she walk into a mess, I was still a mess when we got there. Unable to hold it together, I slinked into the bathroom, leaving the door closed just to gather up my composure.

That morning, as we worshipped, I sensed the Lord nudging me. The speaker was talking about consuming fire...that God is a consuming fire...but that there had been 'burn bans' in our hearts that were places we would not let him go. I knew exactly what the Lord was talking about...Control...I was still struggling for CONTROL of what was happening in the house while I was not even going to be there. I sensed him opening my hands and taking that away. It was exactly what I needed. I prayed that he would burn out every bit of that control that was choking out my very life and the life that he intended for me and for my family. While I will not say that I think God sent me that tornado of a morning, I can say with confidence that he used it for my good. He wants the best for me. He wants me to learn to trust Him and to let go of all that hinders. He wants to burn away all that ensnares and entangles to purify me and make me an instrument of his peace.

Lord, burn it all away, no more of me but you and your light for the world to see.

Friday, April 9, 2010

E is for Empty

I have thought and thought and thought about what I might write down for this day, since it's not Easter Sunday, Easter Eggs are out. So how will I fill this space on my blog? Could I possibly leave it EMPTY?

This morning, I got up earlier than usual, still pondering what I might write about today. I thought I'd write about examining myself/my motives, but it was a little too touchy for me. I'm not ready to bare that much so soon. I considered writing about exalting the Lord but nothing would felt contrived and mechanical. Elisabeth Elliot? That's 2 Es and she's been one of my heroes in the faith because of her steadfast trust in God as the Blessed Controller of all things...not of it sat right.

When it came to today, I had nothing. I was empty of words to share, thoughts to write down...beyond that I was crazy busy. A classmate of my 5yo has a new baby at home, so I cooked them a meal. His teacher has wanted me to make a cake for her friend with my best buttercream. I prepared homemade pizza to share with our neighbors from down the street. Our women's ministry is having our spring retreat and I agreed to make 7layer dip and some cupcakes to share.

It seems I spent every moment doing something for everyone else and while i'm exhausted, and my kitchen seems to be post-earthquake material, I am elated. I was given the opportunity to share in Christ's sufferings, emptying myself of myself for the sake of others.

I've quoted him before, but i will leave you with a quote from St. Francis of Assisi:

It is in giving that we receive

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life

Make me an instrument of your peace.

I want to know what it is like to follow you.

When men look at me, I want them to see the Light of the World inside.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

D is for Dial it back

In this fast paced, instant-gratification focused world, one thing is definitely needed if one is to find peace and contentment: Dialing it back a notch. Whether it is the noise level of the kids in the classroom or household or the amount of activities we participate in, couldn't we all stand to dial it back a bit. Do I really need to fill up every possible second with noise/activity/SOMETHING?!

Perhaps this is why it's so often in the Bible that we are to WAIT...not just wait, but to wait PATIENTLY. The first entry from says to wait is to rest or remain in expectation. Resting or remaining in expectation cannot happen if I'm grousing, huffing, puffing, patting my foot, letting the stress rise, or if I'm doing my part to 'help God out.' Seriously, who am I kidding?!

Dialing it back is so much more than just ceasing striving. It's about Daily Direct Dependence upon God. . .In my faith life, it is trusting Him to do the BEST, be the BEST, give the BEST for me, without questioning His Decision or His Design. This is what I want the pattern of my life to be, but more often than not, I'm treating myself to something rather than waiting on my Heavenly Papa to show me that He knows what I like and that He wants to be the one who gets to give it to me

Let the cry of my heart be Papa, I want to know you more. I want to follow you. Take me away with you that I can taste and see that you are good.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

C is for Control

This one is a hard one for me. Control is something I've worshipped, to be perfectly blunt about it. I want control over things I can't control. The serenity prayer was written for me, I'm certain.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

It boils down to control. I want to be able to control my children. I want to be able to control my husband. I want to be able to control that moron driver that just cut me off. I want to be able to control myself.

This is where the rubber meets the road, though. The more I grab at and scratch for control, the less I seem to have. I'm short with my kids, rude to my husband, and mad at myself. This doesn't really sound like the Abundant Life I was promised. So what is the key?

In Matthew 16:25 Jesus says:
Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

I think He's speaking of control here. If I want to live my life the way I want to, it's not really gonna be all that great. Giving control to Him unlocks the door to that abundant life.

Eugene Petersen's paraphrase puts it like this:

Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat, I am. Don't run from suffering [giving up your own will or your level of control], embrace it. Follow me [look at what I am doing, and do it. Do things MY way]. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, of finding yourself, your true self. What kind of a deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Lord, forgive me. I've continued to try to get in the driver's seat. I see that I need to give control to you in order to find it over myself. You are a loving Father and you will not lead me astray. I love you.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

B is for Belligerent

So i 'm a few days behind on the A-Z challenge, but i figure i'll catch up here before it's too late.

Belligerent: -adjective

  1. war-like; given to waging war.

  2. of warlike character; aggressively hostile; bellicose

These are the definitions I found on The word of the day is belligerent because at the moment, I'm struggling with 5 year old. I admit, I'm letting him get to me. I'm letting other things get to me.

I guess my operational definition of this term has been expanded. I typically use this word just to mean disobedient/rebellious, which I think they could certainly fit under the umbrella of the denotative meaning. In order to try and relate this to contenment, I feel it necessary to back up and take a deeper look at what I am really dealing with.

Initially, I feel that he is the one who is being belligerent. I tell him to do something simple like cleaning up his trains before he comes downstairs for breakfast. It is not unreasonable to expect him to do this when he's told. But as I replay the actual events in my mind, I was the one who was being belligerent towards him--needling him saying at least 5 times before I went back downstairs that the trains were to be cleaned up, his bed was to be made and his clothes were to be put on. I was the one with the battering ram pumelling over him.

Waging war is something that occurs when there is a threat of something lost. I'm not going further in that line except to say this. I was the one who felt I stood to lose his respect/obedience/whatever so I was the one who was belligerent. He was merely returning the volley.

Now, to tie this in with the theme of learning contentment:

  • My job is to tell the boy, not to poke and prod him verbally. It's my job to teach him responsibility...not to manipulate or nag him into doing what he should do. I need to step back and let him learn this. I need to step back and give him the opportunity to fail, to face consequences, to make choices based on what HE can control, not on external pressure from me.
  • I need to remember who he is...He's little. He's not an adult. He's not a teen. He's 5.
  • It is my job to keep myself at peace, doing whatever I can to maintain if only the facade of peace (like a duck on a lake)

Monday, April 5, 2010

A is for Awesome Spring Break

As part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, here is Day 1 (letter A)

What an amazing week it was this past week. Dan, the kids and I were all home for the week. Here's a recap of all we did.
  • Monday, we went grocery shopping and got materials and supplies for 1 of 2 cakes I had to make.
  • Tuesday morning, we went to the zoo, saw the hippos, the gibbon, the cats, and then went out to lunch at a family favorite-central BBQ. After naps it was time to spend the afternoon outside enjoying the backyard and doing a little spring cleaning of the outside toys.
  • Wednesday is usually the day we go to lunch with Dot Dot (my 88 year old great Aunt). We went to the Flying Fish (excellent catfish in downtown Memphis) and rode the trolley.
  • Thursday was fun for the boys as they went to hang out with their friends in Olive Branch while Garner and I ran errands and went to lunch at India Palace.
  • Friday, we went to Memphis Botanic Gardens to enjoy the Big Back Yard. That was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO cool. It was our first time there. We took sack lunches and ate out in the glorious weather. The kiddos adored it. They had the chance to rip and tear with the cousins and I got the chance to hang out with my sister-in-law.
  • Saturday was a little chaotic but FUN. We had to leave the house at 830 to deliver a cake that I was able to do (an addition to the one huge one I had already this week, WOOT). Then we stopped at Target to get Garner a few spring playclothes outfits. After that, we picked up the three Amigos, Jermaine, Ricky, and Alfonso. We went to Creative Life Incorporated for their big Easter outreach/egg hunt extravaganza. Fred Mayer went along. It was a super blessed time. All 5 kids had a blast, finding eggs with stuffed animals, eating hot dogs, popcorn, and candy, candy, candy. After naptime, the cousins and Aunt Dot came over for homemade pizza, 1 large cheese, 1 large Spinach Alfredo (a first time success!).
  • Sunday (Easter Morning) I learned a very valuable lesson that day...the Easter Bunny should NOT leave stuff out for the kids before church. I liked to NEVER got those kids ready for church. We had rehearsal at 830 which we were late to. The church was packed out (or at least a lot fuller because of Easter). We managed to get home and rustle up some grub for everyone, mostly leftovers and convenience food. :/ and get Garner into her room for a nap which she did not take. Meanwhile, Dan was cooking a ham for our Easter supper at mom's, i had to run to the store to get the main ingredient for the hash brown casserole I had to make. We finally got out the door to go get Aunt Dot to go out to mom's and once there, it was so much peace! We had such a great time. All the food was AMAZING. We had ham, smoked turkey, hashbrown casserole, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, corn pudding, 7 layer salad, homemade wheat rolls, green bean bundles, and for dessert sugarfree strawberry pie or lemon cheesecake (droooooooooooool). In the midst of all this, my niece Mikaela, a known clown, got sight of a mouse in the house. Hilarity broke out when the three men of the Widmer part of the family got together and captured the mouse. We all had a good laugh. It was AWESOME fellowship, great food, and a true blessing.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

1 Peter 5:7

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Amplified Bible.

It's a little funny to me how so many people learn a verse of scripture only in the King James version. I do it too. This verse came to me today on the way home from hanging at my mom's house with the family for Easter. I was thinking of God's fervent, ever-present care of me. You see, on Saturday (yesterday), I'd finished, delievered, and had gotten paid for a cake. I was SO thankful to be done with the cake, I am not sure that I took the most affectionate and watchful care that I could have....I placed the check in the pocket of my capri pants along with 2 other checks and headed off to a wonderful time with the kids at Creative Life Incorporated.

While we were there, the kids had kids' world worship led by teenagers in the ministry. It was awesome! After we finished worship, the children were to go outside for an Easter Egg hunt. My mind was not on the checks in my pocket...I was barely attentive to anything else but the fun the children were having and the glorious weather we were all enjoying.

As we were about to leave, a young brother named Lennox came and said he'd found 2 of the checks I'd had in my pocket. I had planned to take them to the bank to deposit or cash them...but was distracted. What a contrast to this verse...that the God of the Universe cares about me watchfully and affectionately...(singing the take6 song --He never sleeps/He never slumbers/He watches me both night and day/The reason I know/He told me so)

When I got home, I discovered that the check I'd just been given for the cake that I had delivered was missing. I called out to my caring, ever-present help saying, "You know Lord where the check is. I ask you to reveal it to me..." I left the worry about the check in his hands. Even if the check was gone for good, I purposed in my heart to trust his care and watchful eye over me. I prayed all afternoon that he would help me because right now, we could not afford to lose the money.

Later that evening after the kids had gone to bed, I wrote a quick thank you note to Dr. Bibbs and the folks at Creative Life for such a wonderful afternoon and asked her if it were possible that the 3rd check had been found. When her reply came back that she had it, I was overwhelmed with relief and strengthened in my faith for God had shown himself to be concerned over the little things of my life. In the grand scheme of things, $40 isn't a huge loss, but the gain of confidence in this great God is worth it many times over.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Living Loved

This is a phrase I came across while reading Wm. Paul Young's book The Shack. It was my second time through. I can say with complete honesty that this is the most compelling book I have read in awhile. This time I came away with something completely different.

The term he used was living loved. In relation to contentment, at least in my own life, it has been the missing ingredient. I have never been able to just relax in God's love because I have painted myself as unloveable. I've concocted all sorts of reasons why He (and anyone else who would dare love me) should not. I've lived as though I'm a disappointment...that I do not deserve his attention and affection. The same has been true in my relationship with my husband. Whenever I goof up/act selfish/don't show love, it happens because internally I've believed that I am no good, just a horrible b*tch or whatever. This is a huge obstacle to contenment. I can never ever ever live up to the standard I have set in my own mind which isn't even as high as the one set by Jesus example, so that leaves me doomed, hopeless and in deep despair most of the time--not quite the picture of contenment.

...While we were yet sinners (going 180degrees in the wrong direction, doing everything we could to run our own lives into the ground), Christ died for us.

I never had anything to offer him in the first place, yet he wanted me.

Dark am I, yet LOVELY! (even in my weakness, he loves me)

The hard part is holding onto the fact that he's not setting his love on me because I'm the most conscientious believer, most well versed in the Bible, most faitful attender of church meetings, prayer meetings, committee meetings, the most thoughtful, caring, loving wife, the most alert and aware and 'with-it' mom...or even the least aggravated at her kids. He loves me because I am HIS.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also justified (made them right with himself); those he justified, he also glorified.

He's made a way for me to be pleasing to Him, to be right with Him and to be LIKE Him. That is a truth that will mark the beginning for me...out of condemnation into his LAVISH grace...which brings me incomparable peace.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Painted into a corner

Where have I been all these months? Why no posts? I feel as though I've painted myself into a corner as it were, with the title of this blog. Should I only always relate everything through the lens of learning contentment. What about the days when I am baffled, stuck, confused, grumpy, discontented? Do I write about them? Should they be included?

My perfectionist self says, "NO WAY." Nobody wants to know where I've fallen off the wagon in my diet, focused too much on self, complained. Perhaps they don't want to, but to battle the perfectionist in me, I must face these shortcomings. How am I ever to learn from my mistakes if I can't even admit to having them.

So I set myself back to the work of facing these skeletons. Learning doesn't come without finding out what DOESN'T work.

I can do all things through Christ who infuses me with His strenghth. Phillippians 4:13.

About Me

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I belong to Jesus. I am married to Dan. I am mom to Pearce and Garner. I am a musician, a cook, a taxi driver, a teacher, a manager. I am me.