Thursday, April 28, 2011

i just saw a mountain move

Do you remember this post from a few weeks ago?

I got a couple of emails from concerned loved ones wondering if they had missed some sort of news.  Moving a name on a list?  

Back then my Love came home one day and shared some information with me that went a little some like this...

"Strange thing happened today.  I don't want to get your hopes up or anything.  There is this conference coming up [at a desirable location].  The slots are all full and I am #25 on the waiting list.  They want me to go."

In a few short sentences, my Love and I decided that if his name was miraculously moved up on the list than we would trust that God wanted us ALL to go.  After all, we didn't seek this out.  In fact it seemed somewhat impossible that he would even be able to attend.  As I wrote about before, God promptly started speaking to me in words that clearly spelled out "I CAN MOVE MOUNTAINS!"

My Love and I committed to pray about it but weren't making any plans.  We didn't ask God to move mountains.  We just trusted that he could if he wanted to.  We desired to be used by God however he chose for his good purpose not just what we desired.  If it pleased him to send us, we would go.  If not, we wouldn't be disappointed.

Today my Love called briefly from work.  "The trip.  It's a go!  I have to run.  I am late for a meeting.  I'll call you later."

My breath immediately left me.


That is right, people.  Yesterday there was a mountain there and now it is gone.

The five of us are packing up the Volvo on Friday night and driving 15 hours south to visit our friends in Florida for a week during a very critical time in the life of their family.

Did I say praise God yet?  


Spontaneous God-ordained Suhrefest 2011 here we come! 

Did I just invite my entire family over to my friend's house on short notice?  Good thing God knows exactly what he is doing.  He can move mountains after all. 

Matthew 17:20
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible. ”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

big picture front lawn

A few weeks ago my Love planted grass seed in empty holes in our lawn.  He dug up the dry dirt, laid down top soil and sprinkled the exposed earth with seed.  After his hard work there took more work.  You couldn't just walk away from the project of desiring new growth and hope for the best.  No.  If we wanted the grass to take root, we had to continue caring for it.  We couldn't walk on it (which drove the dog and me crazy).  We had to water it (sometimes twice) daily.  

After a few days, you could still see the seed sitting on top of the soil.  It was vulnerable to the affects of this world.  It needed to be protected and nurtured.  Into the second week little seedlings spouted.  We continued to water the patches and celebrated each little sprig of new growth.  Soon some areas of grass had grown so well that they were starting to blend in to the rest of the lawn.  Suddenly I realized those areas no longer needed my careful attention.  They had grown into the fiber of the yard and were now required to be maintained just like the rest of the grassy area.

You guessed it.  God has a lesson in here for me.  When I started this process of being thankful in all circumstances, MANY things happened.  At first it wasn't easy (ie. I couldn't stomp all over it by crushing new growth and I had to water it daily) but I knew the hard work would pay off.  I nurtured and cared for and protected it because it was new and fragile and vulnerable to the world around me.  I was aware of the days that went by after so much effort just to discover "the seed was still sitting on top of the soil".  Then one day I got a glimpse of the "seedlings".  Slow progress.  He doesn't have to show us that but he often does by his grace.  

Some days God chose to water the grass for me which gave me relief from having to stand out there with the proverbial (and literal) hose.  Time passed and as I was busy paying attention to the new patches of lawn that required my care (God isn't finished with me yet), I looked back at the first seedlings and realized they were now a part of me.  They blended right into the big picture front lawn.

Thank you God for dead spots in the grass (and in our lives) that can be filled and are able to sprout new growth by your grace.  Thank you for the person you are molding me in to for your glory.  Thank you for sending down your rain so I learn that all this watering really isn't all up to me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

the gift of another day

I woke up this morning to see a glimpse of my Love in the dark preparing for a 4 mile run at 5:30am.  My alarm went off at 6:01 and I hit the snooze a couple of times.  The front door opened later and I heard my Love meeting the needs of the dog and positioning the fan in front of the open sliding glass door.  I got up to join him and poured us each a mug of hot coffee timed to brew before the day begins.  My Love took a seat next to me on the couch and then graciously moved to the one adjacent to me.  A shower would come later.  I think about the time we have been blessed to have our days start this way this past year.  With my Love's job location changing this summer, our days might look very different.  I am thankful for the gift of another day like this one.

Between sips of coffee, my Love got started on praying aloud for our friends far away.  The list is growing.  Bundle Boy came bounding down the stairs a few names in.  The clock read 6:37am.  A happy smile came out from behind the hallway.  "There isn't a 7 yet, Buddy!" my Love says.  We put a clock in his bedroom a few weeks ago in an effort to teach him when it was appropriate to get up from nap and out of bed in the morning.  Bundle Boy glances at the digital reading on the DVR.  "Yes.  There is a 7 at the back," he says.

Bundle curled up on the empty space on the couch next to me.  Thank you Lord for another opportunity for our son to learn to start his day talking to You and reading your Word.  I choose to thank you on the mornings our quiet time is uninterrupted and when we have distracting company.

My Love started again.  Prayers said aloud for adoptions and pregnancies and soon-to-be big brothers.    Prayers said for new jobs and new churches and soon-to-be wives.  Halfway through, my Love handed the list to me.  Prayers said for big changes and approaching goodbyes and house moves.  Prayers said for grieving families and health problems and lost souls.

We grabbed our One Year Bibles and opened up to read April 2nd on today April the 26th.  Discussion is prompted while in Luke 9 and 10.  Reflection is made upon finishing in Proverbs 12:11.  God's timing is perfect.

I start thinking about my day, what we will do.  Perhaps the library?  Our books are due today.  My Love asks if we are going to church for Bible study.  I had forgotten.  I am thankful this morning for the other half of my brain.  I start getting myself ready.  Bundle Boy gets started on a rerun of Curious George over a cup of milk, dry Multigrain Cheerios and some cut strawberries and bananas.

My makeup is finished.  The phone rings.  The other family with kids won't be coming to Bible study today.  I decide to keep the kids home since I am in charge of childcare for the study.  Babydoll sleeps in until 8am.  12 hours of solid sleep.  Praise God!  The night before she was up for 2 hours awake screaming every time we put her in her bed after holding her.  One hour of which was spent downstairs with me around midnight playing with her big brother's toys.  Sigh.  I choose to thank You on the hard sleepless nights (prompted by festering arguments AND a restless needy baby) and the quiet ones that last well into the morning.

My Love started ironing his clothes for the day after a haircut and a shower.  I dressed the kids.  I took out the blender.  A friend said she was mixing ingredients into her son's whole milk to get him to drink it while weaning.  I added strawberries and bananas.  She didn't like it.  Luckily her big brother did.  Goodbye Daddy.  God bless your day.

I dress myself in exercise clothes and take out the sit-and-stand stroller.  We hit the road with dog on leash at 8:45am hoping to beat the heat of the day.

Big Brother wants to walk.  He runs from the top of Emerald Chase Dr. down to the creek without stopping, without falling.  He hops on the stroller.  We walk through the woods, back across the creek at another point, and through the tunnel under the road.  Brother points out all the "tulips" along the path.  We see butterflies and fuzzy bumblebees and dandelions (and a post is coming on that soon).  The sun is out in the 70s already and the wind is blowing cool on my face.  I wish I brought water.  I start up a big hill walking on my toes moving slowly.  I accidentally kicked the banister a couple weeks ago trying to push the carseat box old baby gate out of the way with arms full.  I think I broke it.  It still hurts.  We reach the top and are in search of a playground my Love told me was further up the path.  I decide to make a turn at one point not knowing how much longer up the path the "new playground" is.  We stumble upon the empty green playground we frequent.  Perfect.  We'll find the other playground on a cooler day.  This one was completely shaded in this 9 o'clock hour and has a bench to rest on.  Brother urges me to play with him.  I ask for him to play alone so I can relax.  He sings to himself while climbing up the slide, "Count your many blessings name them one by one..."  I thank the Lord.

Furry Firstborn is equally tired and lies down in the bark while tied to the bench.  He starts rolling around to cool off and I thank God for the little wormy things that fell from the shade trees above and are now filling the hair under his belly, behind his legs, and throughout his tail.  I think about how I just brushed him last night.  He moves to one side as I watch him play and there in the bark is a shiny gold coin.  "Bundle Boy!  Come look at this treasure."  He picks it up and brings it to me.  A 20 euro cent found on a playground on the east coast of the U.S. of A.  He turns it over to find an image of the Brandenburg Gate.  Thoughts of our years in Germany come back.  Many friends we had prayed for that very morning.

Thank you God for forgotten plans that were then cancelled.  Thank you for a baby who slept in and well through the night after a terrible one the night before.  Thank you for sunshine and warm weather and patches of shade and bursts of a cool breeze.  Thank you for a dirty rolling dog that revealed treasure and memories of friends from long ago.

I nursed Babydoll on the bench and cherished every minute.  She didn't hardly need me at all at bed time last night.  Down to two feedings a day.  We are almost done with this phase of infancy.  

Brother picked up an empty Diet Coke can and a lost white winter glove abandoned on the playground.  He reaches for a shopping bag stored under the stroller and I thank God that my son doesn't think he is too good to do God's dirty work.  Later he picks a few dandelions and I think about the post I am to write soon.  We smell them and yellow dust sticks to our noses and we laugh.

I load up the kids in the stroller and we say goodbye to the green playground.  Almost to our neighborhood, I bow out of the way as I see a tiny green caterpillar dangling in midair floating toward my face.  I stop once out of the way and point it out to Bundle Boy.  We watch it dance in the air for a few minutes.  We thank God for his beautiful creation and stare in amazement.

I push the stroller up one more hill into our cul-de-sac and see the growing seedlings that I hope to write about soon.  Babydoll goes down for a morning nap (which she is stirring from now) and Brother and I take a seat with tall glasses of water and a bowl of leftovers from the Easter veggie tray.

I thank God for the gift of another day.  A day to learn to be thankful in all circumstances.

Monday, April 25, 2011

thankful for green

drops of dew on blades of grass
 moss growing on pavement
 evidence of sun and rain
 a walk in the woods at 10:30am
 swirly twigs suspended in the air
 sunlight kissing the wooded floor

vines growing up the side of trees
 late bloomers
 growth along walking path blanketed with sunlight and shadows
 water drops holding on tight
 sun breaking through the canopy
 leaves on trees
 beads of rain
 pool of water saved in center of open leaf

 curving trail out of sight

Friday, April 22, 2011

Romans 6:1-14

 1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
 5 Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. 6 We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7 For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. 8 And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. 9 We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.
 12 Do not let sin control the way you live;[a] do not give in to sinful desires. 13 Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. 14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.

Monday, April 18, 2011

sun and rain

Romans 1: 19,20- They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

I firmly believe these verses (as I do about all scripture).  Lately God has been faithful to show me how so much about nature parallels his love for us.

Consider the weather.  Some days it is sunny, breezy, and warm while other days are dark, cloudy, and rainy.  God never promised bright sunny days throughout our lives.  In fact, he told us we would experience storms during this life.  Why are we so surprised by trials?  Not always are they meant to teach us something.  Some times they are just meant for his good purpose.  With rain comes fruitful growth.  Without rain, the grass and trees and flowers don't develop.   It never feels good to endure long periods of rain, but we can be confident it's not just random.  In fact, it is part of God's perfect plan.

That doesn't mean we have to be excited about the rain coming.  Very often the weather changes daily around here.  In the five day forecast, the weatherman tends to predicate the sunny days from the rainy days.  If we know it is going to rain tomorrow, we go outside and enjoy today.  There is a time to praise God in the good weather AND in the storms of life.  For we can trust that all things happen for his good purpose.

So if the sun is out today, get outside and enjoy nature.  If it is raining (and you feel up for it), spend some time outside enjoying the rain too.  Then thank God for all you are able to accomplish while kept in doors (and for the very fact that you have a home to shield you from the direct effects of the rain...for when we are firmly in God's hands we are protected from so much because of his grace) perhaps finding joy in cleaning your home for the Lord.

Thank you God for sunny days and rainy days.  For even in nature you never promised a life of convenience.

Friday, April 15, 2011

being set apart

A good friend of mine who shall remain nameless (my Love) was out running an errand when he saw a man nearby in a wheel chair.  A wheel got caught on a curb and the chair went toppling over.  My Love My friend and a few other men came over to help him.  The man's ego was bruised (feeling embarrassed for falling) but was thankfully unhurt.  The crazy part of this story is not that anyone came to his aid (that is a post from my past all its own) but it is the response of others nearby.  My friend said people were in their cars honking at the blocked traffic.  Apparently someone had jumped out of his car to help the man who had fallen.  The other people in their cars had no time for this inconvenience.  The only way it affected them directly was the fact that they were stopped in momentary traffic.


What is this world coming to?

We are all a bunch of toddlers.  We teach our kids to use their words and are surprised when they meltdown in disappointment, but don't we model that for them?  Every time we react negatively to inconvenience (ie. missing a green light because the guy in front of us drove too slow) aren't we teaching them that we are entitled to more?  We are more important.  We deserve something better.

What if we never thought about ourselves?  What if we only thought of others?  It seems crazy but it is actually a more joyful existence.  When you demand your own way, your own plans, all the time all you are met with is disappointment and frustration in the world around you.  Others don't think as highly of you as you do of yourself.

Are we so disconnected from other human beings that when a disabled person falls out of his chair on the side of the road we all just "step over him" and groan that we even have to lift our legs?

That same day I opened the local paper again and found something most unusual but quite timely.  There was a tiny little blurb on the margin of one page.  A woman had written in a few lines to the editor.  Apparently she had stopped by the library to drop off some books and seen a stack of newspapers outside blowing away.  She was on her way inside to tell an employee about the mess but before she could do anything a young Mom bent down and picked up the papers and put them inside the library without much thought (it was noted that she had a young child with her).  No it was not me.  The writer was blessed that someone would be such "A Good Neighbor".

I smiled at the third reference to the Samaritan story in a week.  God is faithful to repeat himself when our eyes are open to see it.

It got me thinking.  Do we realize what a powerful witness we can be just by being set apart?  It doesn't always have to be premeditated, planned service.  Thinking of others, seeing a need we can meet, this action speaks volumes in a society that only thinks about themselves.  You will never know what God might do in the life of person just by choosing to live a life that brings him glory.

As I stood in line thinking about this post at a Safeway self-checkout, Bundle Boy was touching every Easter candy in the nearby display.  Suddenly a voice from a stranger came to break the conversation in my head.  "Ma'am.  You have been waiting longer.  Do you want to use this one?" he said with a smile.  "Oh no thanks," I said.  "We aren't in any hurry.  Thanks though."  I was blessed by the mere offer. 

At the door leaving the store, I gave N a bag to carry while I balanced M in her car seat and two other bags on my own.  An employee saw me working hard and offered to help.  "No thanks.  I've got it."

Then God spoke to my heart:

"Its not ALL about you serving Me.  Allow the gift of letting others serve you too."


So many more lessons to share.

Off to wash the day off twenty little piggy toes.  Thank you Lord for two healthy kids.  Thank you for full tummies after dinner.  Thank you for a patient husband who is in the kitchen as I type this washing dishes.  Thank you for Friday nights spent at home with the family you have blessed me with.

you clean it up

Just when I feel like I have God's perspective on my life He has more to teach me.  Praise Him!

Recently I was studying Abraham and Sarah.  God made them a promise and they waited on his timing.  I wondered to myself if I had ever felt God give me a clear purpose and then not see it happen for awhile.  Nothing came to mind.  I thought of friends though who have been given a heart to be parents and conceiving hasn't come easily.  I can't speak for the many I have known, but I would imagine somehow, someway they felt God telling them just to wait.  I have known a few people who have been called to be missionaries.  They hear God's promise and then are asked to wait for him to fulfill it.  There is peace found in Jehovah-shalom.  When God makes a promise, he always keeps it.

The trouble is we get restless.  We sit around here on earth wondering if there is anything we can do to fulfill the promise.  We meddle and get in the way of his plan.  If he has made us a promise do we trust he will fulfill it?

A couple weeks ago I felt God firmly planting a new desire in my heart.  He opened my eyes to a need that I could fulfill.

It started with trash lining the side of the road.  It was driving me crazy.  With all this business of counting gifts, I started noticing garbage everywhere I looked while out walking the dog.  At first I got frustrated.  Does no one else see this?  What is with the county?  Aren't people paid to clean up the roadside?  And what is with society?  Why does it suddenly seem like EVERYONE is trashing God's creation?

It wasn't long until I realized other people weren't seeing it.  I brought it up to friends and they seemed unaware.  Or maybe the trash had always been there and I had just never noticed it before.  God showed me the trash for a reason.  In a still small voice one day I heard him say,

"Why don't YOU clean it up?"

Huh?  Me, Lord?  Are you sure?  Why me?  I am counting your gifts Lord.  I am appreciating your grace on my life.  That is a job made for someone else.


I have eyes.  I have hands.  I see a need in the path I am walking down in this life.  Why do I think it isn't my job?  Am I a Jonah?

One night during a family walk I brought along a shopping bag.  My Love pushed the kids in the stroller and held B's leash.  I allowed myself to be an instrument.  No credit.  No personal glory.  Just making myself available to be used.  God showed me a need and I made it my job.

Around that same time, I saw a 30-minute news show about hunger in America.  It really tugged on my heart creating a passion I had never known.  It highlighted the working poor in this economy who have full time jobs and can't afford to feed their families.  The kids on the show talked about how hungry they are all the time.  I thought about how crabby I get if I miss a snack.  I can't imagine trying to sit in the classroom and learn something.  A mom stood in her kitchen buttering toast then sprinkling each slice with cinnamon.  "Eat your dinner," she said to the five kids sitting around the table.

My face dropped.  Toast?  For dinner?  I wept.  Suddenly I realized how blind I have been to the needs of others.  People God has literally put into the path of my life that I have walked right by on my way to serving God.  I grieve over the countless opportunities I could have been used for.

We are constantly teaching our son to think beyond himself.  To put others first.  In this world of suffering people, was I really keeping my head down and convincing myself that the loaves and fishes I have been blessed with wouldn't even come close to meeting the needs of the masses?  That is a job for someone else.


Soon after that show aired, I opened the local events newspaper, and God showed me the perfect opportunity to serve him in the passion he had given me.  A program that meets once a month to bag backpacks with food to send home with kids over the weekend.  Yes!  It was like God wrote it in the paper that day just for me.  I looked at the date.  They had met that morning.  Bummer.

I contacted the group to find out how we (and friends of ours) could get more involved.  We wanted to serve.  We saw the need and felt able to meet it.  I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to show our son how to think beyond himself.  They said he was too young.  For a week I tried to figure out a way for me to go to the next bagging meet without the kids (it is scheduled on an early weekday morning).  It just didn't look like it was going to work out.  I casually mentioned to A maybe he could take off work.  Something was lost in translation.  He didn't get the memo.

Wednesday night the bad mood started.  I couldn't understand.  I felt like God planted this ministry in my heart and now I wasn't able to do it.  I started resenting A for not seeing how important it was to me.  Why wasn't he helping me work out the details?  Had I ever been so excited about serving God in any other way before?

And that is when it hit me.  I was still making it about me.  Why had I let myself build up expectations that couldn't be met?  Hadn't I learned anything?

I know this isn't infertility or entering into full-time missions, but after a good tantrum I thanked God for not letting it work out.  He planted this purpose in me to serve others for a reason.  He will fulfill that promise in his timing according to his plan.  It is my job wait.

In the meantime, family walks will always include shopping bags.  Items will be added to our monthly grocery list that can be donated to our church's food closet.  The purging of excess stuff around here is underway.  Do I really need so many backup towels and blankets when someone else could really use them?

God has given us eyes and hands to serve him at any given moment.  Who am I to decide what that looks like?  Use me Lord.  Anytime, anywhere.  Help me think beyond myself.  Show me what I can give up to meet the real needs of others for your glory.

thank you God for

The weather is beautiful here today.  Tomorrow it is supposed to be pouring rain.  It definitely gives us a sense of urgency to be outside and really appreciate the nice weather while it is here.  Tomorrow it will look very different.  We only have today,

I took the kids out for a walk this morning.  About half way through, Bundle Boy was complaining about the gentle breeze.  He wanted to go home.  His Daddy's old uniform hat was pulled down over his eyes.

"Lift your head so you can see all the beautiful things God created today," I said.  "You can't see anything if your eyes are pointed at the ground."

"I don't want to," he said.

Seriously the weather couldn't be any more gorgeous out.  Am I raising an indoor boy?  Sigh.

To diffuse the grumbling, I asked him to tell me all the beautiful things he could see that God made.  He wasn't in the mood.  Finally a quiet answer.  "Grass," he said.

"Thank you God for the grass," I said.  "It's beautiful!"

Then it was my turn.

"Thank you God for the blossoms.  They are beautiful."

Then him.

"Thank you God for the leaves.  They are beautiful."

Then me.

"Thank you God for the flying cardinals.  They are beautiful."

And on and on.  Suddenly his attitude had changed, his head was lifted and life became less about him and how he felt about his circumstances and more about the grace of God.

You can't be both ungrateful (grumbling and complaining) and thankful at the same time.

We choose to be thankful.  Soften our ungrateful hearts Lord.  Help us fight our number one enemy: self.

After saying the obvious beautiful things along the walking path, I started pointing out the ugly-beautiful things.

"Thank you God for the trash on the side of the road.  It's beautiful."

"Huh?  Trash is yucky.  It isn't beautiful," he said.

Oh my son.  You'll learn soon enough.

More to come...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I have come to observe that all people have a passion.  Some thing that seems sewn into the fiber of their being.  It takes little to no effort because the desire to fulfill that passion comes naturally.  That is why often times individuals are highlighted in the news for doing heroic things (ie. leaving their lucrative medical practice and serving the poor and needy in all corners of the globe) and they have trouble accepting the compliment.  It is their passion.  They live to do it.

I have met many people throughout my adult life who vocalize their passion.  They feel so strongly about an issue and they can't understand why others (namely believers) don't feel the same way.  God has divinely designed them to use their passion for his glory.  It is amazing actually.

Of course, not all people give glory to God for what they are most passionate about.  Sometimes we see people who do one particular thing well and think, "Wow!  If they only knew Christ, they could do so much for his kingdom with that talent or gift!"

What is your passion?  What has God gifted you to do well or care deeply about for his kingdom?  Are you fulfilling that purpose for your life?  God is slowly revealing to me my purpose.  One that I can no longer ignore. 

It is time to get passionate, people.

"This is your life.  Are you who you want to be?" -Switchfoot

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

come, follow me

A friend from college is waiting on God's perfect timing to be sent to the mission field.  She and her husband have literally sold all their possessions and are gearing up to "follow Him".  What does this look like for the rest of us?  I mean, not every one is called to be a full-time missionary in a foreign country.  But I do think everyone is called to do something for God's good purpose. Are we all supposed to give up the things of this world to be a follower of Christ?  Maybe.  I do believe it means that we need to be willing to.  Willing to sacrifice anything in this world (that has been given to us by God anyway) to accomplish his will for our lives.  

I loved this post written a couple months ago as T and J were selling all their possessions.  It continues to come to my mind.

Oh Lord show me what I can give up to better serve you right where I am (Mark 10:17-31). 


Yesterday the sun was out.  The temperature was in the low 80s with a gentle breeze blowing.  We spent much of the day outside.  After a late afternoon visit to the farm and its playground, we met my Love in the front yard where he was planting grass seed.  Babydoll got comfy in a patch of shade in the middle of the driveway playing with a strawed cup.  N got to work helping Daddy distribute soil.  B was tied to the porch so he could stay out front with us.  I sat on the stoop and counted all the gifts God gave me in the moment.

Today it is dark and raining.  I am so glad I made myself go outside yesterday rather than worry about cleaning indoors.  There is time to enjoy nature and there is time to be productive in the home.  Thank you Lord for providing opportunities for both.  And thank you for sending rain to water the grass seed.

While I sat outside watching the boys at work, I moved toward the flower bed of blooming bulbs.  I got to work pulling weeds.  Of course God had a lesson in it for me.


They are the same color as grass.  Sometimes you don't even notice their presence until you are looking for them or they become so overgrown you can't ignore it any more.

It has been said weeds are a lot like sin.  You sit down to take care of the problem when it is convenient for you.  At first glance you see the areas where the weeds stand out.  Little isolated plants that are easy to spot.  Their roots are shallow and you pull them up easily.  You think, pulling weeds isn't hard.  I am making progress here.  Then you move on to the next patch of soil.  The weeds are thicker.  The roots have been their awhile and have grown together underground.  It becomes harder to remove it completely.  Sometimes you just choose to clip what is seen, but if you don't dig out the roots, the weeds will undoubtedly return quickly.  You keep working.  Soon you see weeds growing into the nearby grass.  The "sin" was completely hidden by what is supposed to be there.  To remove it, you have to touch the growth that you want to remain.  Suddenly you see weeds you didn't even know were there.  

Then there are the weeds that look like plants.  You aren't sure if it is just new growth from the nearby flowers.  They are frauds.  You decide to pull them up anyway.  If it hasn't matured by now, you think it must not belong there.

Time passes.  Dinner is overdo.  I looked back at the flowerbed I had been busy working in.  The soil had been turned.  It was previously firm with roots of sin holding it tightly together.  Now the ground is open and willing to be available for new healthy growth.

When it was time to go inside (the job was not yet done), there was evidence I had been dealing with sin weeds.  There was pain (in my back) and my hands were filthy.  The job got harder the longer I worked, but the reward made it completely worth the effort.

Monday, April 11, 2011

can move mountains

This week God reminded me that if he wants something to happen he can move mountains to do it.  Nothing is beyond his capability.  Even if we don't see how it can possibly work out.  If he wants to move A's name to the top of a list, he can do that.  We are praying for God's will for the unknowns.  He is a big God.  And as my Love said in response to my reflection this morning, "Pretty much as big as they come."

My Mom called a few days ago.  She gave me an update on Grandpa O's health.  He was recently in the hospital where he was in the care of a phenomenal nurse.  The nurse talked to my Grandpa about his faith and told him "Christ can move mountains!"  I shivered at the phrase God spoke into my life twice in the same day.

This morning I opened up God Calling to read the passage meant for my sister's 28th birthday.  The last line of the reading?  "Mountains can be removed by thought--by desire."  I understand this line is shared out of context, but I think you get the idea.

God can move mountains!

Matthew 17:20-
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible. ”

Moving a name on a list to accomplish God's purpose in our lives?  That's a cinch!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


I'm doing a book study with my sister currently.  We meet once a week via Skype and discuss two chapters at a time.  I can't even tell you how deeply blessed I have been by this experience.  Not only have I grown in my relationship with my youngest sister (who I haven't lived with in 15 years) but God has taught me so much about who He is through this particular book.

In my opinion LORD, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur should be required reading for all Christians.  Or at least a book that covers the same topic.  We have been studying the names of God and I have been overwhelmed yet again.  

Early in our study, my sister J shared something she had heard in a sermon at her church.  It is hard to replay third person, so just hang in there.  But I think it went some thing like...when people wrote letters back in the day, they would write their name at the start of the letter so the reader would know who the letter was from.  After seeing the writer's name, they could then think about everything they knew that person to be.  They could read it with them in mind and in their voice.  

Of course!  Isn't that what we do automatically?  We open a card and immediately scan to the bottom of the text to learn who it is from before reading their words.  It gives us a frame of reference behind what is being said.

Well, the more I learn the names of God the more I feel like I know him better.  Is it possible I have been so busy having a shallow relationship with my Lord?  I weep at the idea.  I thought I really knew Him.  Maybe I just knew what I wanted Him to be.

Just this week I have been reminded about who I now KNOW my God to be.  I cling to my knowledge of his character.  I read his words in a whole new and different way.  I read it with Him in mind and in His voice.  

Stories I have read numerous times now breathe life into me.  I know the writer deeper now.  And no matter where this life takes me, not matter the trials, I can rest in who God says He is.

Check it out.

think of others

As a Mom of a three year old son there have been many opportunities to actively-parent lately.  With the development of N's ability to communicate and understand instruction, parenting has moved beyond "No, no" and "That's dangerous!"  The words my Love and I say daily to direct our son in the way he should go are purposeful.  Sometimes we say crazy stuff like..."Squishing hurts people!"  I mean, of course it does.  But more often these days, we hear ourselves say things to Bundle Boy that are actually instructions the Lord has for us.  I can't tell you how many times I tell N to let others go first through a door.  We have a rule that when friends are over, he has to let them choose what they want to play with.  They are his guest.  We point out opportunities for him to help Babydoll (if she gets stuck standing somewhere or can't reach a toy).  We ask him to put his own shoes away in his basket by the door when entering the house.  Don't make unnecessary work for others.  "Think of others," we teach.  If he sees a need that he is capable of doing (ie. a piece of trash on the kitchen floor), we want him to do it.  Don't just sit back and expect someone else will.  

Think of others.  Help others.  Be kind.  Be gentle.  Let others go before you.  Don't just think of yourself.

Yes Lord, I hear you speaking to him me loud and clear in my own voice.

More to come...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the samaritan

The shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line.

I plan out the morning.  I remember to pack snacks and diapers and a change of clothes.  I put the little one down for a nap at just the right time so she can sleep enough to make it through the afternoon's activities.  I put on his shoes and socks.  I bring hers but don't bother putting them on.  We hop in the car and go.  We have plans.  We are on our way to point B.

How often do you look along the road you are driving down at the gifts God has given you?  Do you notice the blooming trees?  Maybe the billowing clouds?  Do you see the roadkill flattened on the side of the road?  How about the woman standing at the bus stop?  Do you see her?

For much of the past ten years I have tried by my own power to please God.  I thought I was being successful.  I was/am a miserable failure.  It is not until I have learned to humble myself in overwhelming gratitude that I have come to understand what it really means to please Him.  

I used to sing along to the Matt Redman song that goes, "I'm coming back to the heart of worship. And it is all about you...."  I thought I was living for God, but it was all about me before.  It was in my time, by my strength, and under my conditions.  I used to drive down the road of my life thinking I was living for Christ while on my way to a women's Bible study.  I made it a priority.  I planned my morning around that important part of my living for Christ.

But have I been missing something crucial all this time?  Have I been driving down the road with blinders on while I live and serve in a way that pleases ME?  I used to make it all about me but not any more.

In Luke 10, a man asks Jesus what he must DO to inherit eternal life.  The Son of God responds with a story that is arguably the most well-known in all the Bible.  Jesus answers with a question back at him.  As if to say you already know the answer.  But somehow in our heads we think it can't be that easy.  What ELSE must I do?  We read the Bible.  We pray before meals.  We go to church.  We think these are the things God wants us to DO.  But somehow those things are still by our own power.  "What can I DO?" we ask.  "But you know the answer," he says.  What do you mean?  A beaten, naked, half-dead man is lying on the side of the road.  Two (by all intents and purposes) godly men walk by.  They are on a mission.  From point A to point B.  They aren't looking around.  And if they do manage to notice, they don't think that man is part of God's plan for them.  They are headed to Bible study or work or a birthday party.  Their day was all planned out and it didn't include this beaten man on the side of the road.

WHAT?!?!  We all read this story and say, "How could those godly men (the priest and the temple assistant) not help him?  Where is their compassion?  That is just crazy."  But aren't we guilty of this very same thing EVERY SINGLE DAY.  We get in our own little world and we make serving God about us.  But do we look along the road of life and thank God for every moment and every experience and every person in our path?  Or do we huff and puff and react with ingratitude when we come to a red light when we are running late or someone cuts us off in the check-out line.  I need to be somewhere.  I am serving God!  Shouldn't we see that we are His hands and feet and make ourselves available to stop our plans at any time to serve Him wherever the road we are on takes us?


Oh Lord!  Open my eyes.  Open my eyes.  Help me to see.  Use me.  Use me.  Not JUST in the church or where it is convenient.  Show me how you want me to serve you today while on my way to point B.  Give me enough time to accomplish your will for my life every day.  And Father, when I stop on the me to serve wholeheartedly as if I were serving the Lord, not people like it says in Ephesians 6:7.  Don't let me just put a bandage on the need and walk away.  Show me how to go above and beyond for your glory like the Samaritan.

My God, help me die to self and not make my life about me.  Use me for your glory.

Friday, April 8, 2011

talking more

Last night I came down from putting M to bed.  My Love was standing in the kitchen loading the dishwasher.  I started talking.  And talking.  And talking.  I think I rambled for 15 minutes straight without stopping for air.  The metaphors and references and scriptures were all coming together.  I wish I had a voice recorder.  He was a little quiet and agreeable while trying to follow my rambling.  I guess I wasn't really looking for input.  It just feels weird to talk so long to yourself.  I needed a pair of ears. There is only so much you can keep bottled up in your head.

All that to say...I feel better now.  Not that I was feeling badly.  It just helps to think clearly.  Am I even making sense?  Remember at the beginning of the year (a whole three months ago) when I mentioned I wanted to connect at a deeper level with people God has placed in my life.  This has been one way that He has made that happen.  I can't stop talking.  

I can't believe I just typed that.  I am a self-proclaimed listener.  I pride myself at being able to do it well.  A friend once laughed at me when I said I thought it was my spiritual gift.  Apparently that wasn't on the list of biblically approved.  I do believe God has equipped me to do it actively but it also means I don't usually do much talking.  Most of my friends talk.  I listen.  It makes a good match.  But lately, God has shown me if I want to have deep relationships with people, they have to get to know me too.  I can't just be a good friend to them and keep myself from being vulnerable.  That makes the relationship one-sided.  If I have ideas now, I share them.  If the conversation is quiet, I bring up something deep.  God has given me a voice this year and it feels way beyond what is natural.  

Don't get me wrong.  I do have a loud voice.  If you are related to me or have ever lived with me, you know I don't mind making my opinions heard (hmmm...Michelle really is my daughter). But in friendships, I never used to offer up too much personal information about myself.  It wasn't really intentional.  I have nothing to hide.  It is just what I did.  I listened.

It didn't really dawn on me until recently how private I have been throughout my life.  If you follow me at The Long Story, you might be surprised to know that about me.  It can be easier to share thoughts and feelings behind a computer screen than in person.  But a couple weeks ago, a friend was over for lunch and she asked me a question I don't think has been asked of me before.  Maybe ever.  Rather than just giving the short answer, I told the whole story.  And it sounded C.R.A.Z.Y.  Half way through I knew there was no going back.  I had to keep explaining.  And the more I explained, the crazier it sounded.  Suddenly I realized there are probably many many people in my life who don't know how my family became what it is today.  It is not their fault.  It is just that I never offered up that part of me.

God has been working on me full time.  He wants me to talk more.  He wants me to open up in friendships.  He wants to use every part of me. 

I am ready Lord.  I'm listening.  You made me to do that well.

He isn't finished with me yet.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

entitled to entertainment

This place is not our home.  Sometimes we forget that we should look different than the world.  Because no one knows the day or the hour that Jesus will return, we can find ourselves settling in to this life and getting distracted by the cares of this world.  Wouldn't it be sad if He came back today and we said, "I'm not ready yet.  Can you come back later?"  We should be discontent with all this world has to offer us.  Only God can completely satisfy all our needs.

I have had a growing distaste for what society tells me I should long for.  Television has been one example lately.  This is not a "Christians should not watch TV" post.  I watch it.  But lately I have wondered why on earth do I give so much time in my week to entertaining myself?  The world says, "You work hard.  You get the kids to bed.  You should put your feet up and veg.  You deserve it."  What else could I be doing for his glory instead of feeding my own self right now?

My Love and I watch a few shows together and each have a couple of our own.  Last Fall we got together and talked about what shows we wanted to spend our time watching.  We wanted to be more selective.  There wasn't much out there we even liked anymore.  I mean, what show still on the air can really compare to what was LOST?  

Anyway...society tells us we are entitled to entertainment.  Every household across America is watching TV right now.  It is what you do.  Well not everyone.  More and more I find God putting people in my life who chose not to watch TV.  They don't have TV.  And they aren't even weird.  It is hard to ignore when God repeats a theme in my life.  This repetition has got me thinking.  What would I really be missing out on if we got rid of TV all together?  My conclusion?  Not. A. Thing.  There isn't a single show that benefits my life one minute.  And this answer was discovered after our selective TV watching list was whittled down.  Maybe I'd miss out on a conversation or two about a popular new show.  Maybe I wouldn't do so well on a POP CULTURE category if I were a contestant on  Jeopardy (which I don't ever plan on pursuing), but other than that I can't think of anything.  Why am I being made to feel like this is just what we have to do?  Don't get me wrong.  There is a place for entertainment in our lives.  But why do we accept it as a valid way to spend a significant amount of our down time?

More and more the shows on television (and even the commercials throughout) directly contradict what pleases the Lord.  Why do I tolerate it?  Why do I invite it into my home?

This place is not our home.  We should look different.

1 Peter 2:11-12 

extreme couponing

God is teaching me a lot right now.  About who he is and who he wants me to be.  The amazing thing is that his word has been the same all along.  His purpose for my life has always been there.  I just didn't see it clearly before.  With all these lessons, I am never really sure what I should share or what is just meant for me.  If you see a post come then go that might be why.  The writing helps me process.  But I guess you don't have to be involved in every step.

I saw there was a show coming on this week called Extreme Couponing.  It is actually quite funny that I am referencing a TV show here because there is a post coming soon-ish regarding my new ideas about that.  But until then just play along.

I was kind of interested in seeing the episode to see how these people do it.  I mean, I use coupons.  I meal plan.  I shop twice a month with a budget.  The commercials advertised that the people high-lighted on this show were able to save hundreds of dollars every time they shopped.  We are talking walking out with a receipt of $600 worth of groceries and only paying $6.  Free food?  Sign me up.

When I sat down to watch the recorded show later, I didn't expect to walk away with yet another life lesson from my Lord.  He speaks to me through almost anything these days.  There were two kinds of extreme couponers interviewed.  There were the type that got a rush from shopping (canceling plans with real people to feed their addiction) and were proud of their excessive "stock pile" accomplishment.  Then there were the type that learned to coupon out of necessity (one family has 7 kids) and were blessing others by their ability to save.

I was stunned at the sight of rows and rows of products in their homes like a grocery store.  Food and toiletry items that they would NEVER even use in their lifetimes.  Years worth of toilet paper stacked clear to the ceiling.  It looked like hoarding (that's another show on TLC) but all tied up in a nice little bow.  I couldn't help but think, "Man, do they realize how many people they could help with all that stuff?"  I mean, good for them that they enjoy couponing and figuring out the system so they don't have to pay retail for food and other items (everybody needs a hobby), but why aren't they even using it to bless others?

That's when it hit me.  You guessed it.  I am an extreme couponer who pays for my groceries.  What I mean is I have blessings and gifts and resources just stacked on the shelves of my life.  I rearrange my "stuff" and smile pretty and feel proud to show off my "stock pile" of self for my own enjoyment.  Sickening.  I didn't pay for any of it.  Everything I have is a gift.  Why am I depriving others of the joy I have in the Father who gave it to me?

Then a bright light in the episode.  One extreme couponer told the story of how she started doing it out of necessity.  On her own at the age of 12.  A mom by 15.  She had nothing and clipping coupons helped her afford what she couldn't have.  There was something different about this story.  She shared.  Every person she saw on the street and in the grocery store she told about the knowledge she had.  "I hope you have your $0.50 OFF coupon for that such-and-such in your cart," she said to someone passing in the aisle.  "Did you know they put coupons in your circular?" she asked a man standing on his front stoop (he didn't look like the coupon-clipping type).  She wanted other people to be blessed by the gifts she had received.  The other stories seemed all about the couponer and the thrill they got from the experience.  Another glaring difference in her shopping experience was what she bought.  Her bill was about $230 compared to the other big shoppers spending over $1000.  I mean, who needs 77 bottles of mustard really even if it is free?

Later a male couponer figured out a way to get 1500 boxes of Total cereal for nothing.  He donated all of them to his church's food bank.  Now that is using it for His glory!


Lord, show me what in my life I have been hoarding for self.  You have blessed me in abundance.  Help me to share the knowledge and gifts I have received for your good purpose. 

Hebrews 13:16 (New Living Translation)

16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.