Friday, January 22, 2010

In Memory Of

  Today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in our country.  Since that time, nearly 50 million babies have been sent home, prematurely, to meet Jesus and to be cradled in His arms.  I know a few women who have made this difficult decision. Some of them, I know, look back on their decision with regret. Others continue to believe they made the best decision possible, at the time. Either way, I love these women and do not seek to judge them for their decision. I love them.  I just love them.

As a woman, I have never understood this decision.  I have never really been able to grasp a circumstance that would lead me to consider this decision.  I have never even really understood the whole idea of "preserving the mother's health".  But, that's just me. I don't get it. I can't get my mind to wrap itself around the idea of purposely ending a pregnancy, but I've never walked a mile in the shoes of those women who, for whatever reason, exercised their legal right to terminate.  I have no right to judge them for their decision, or to condemn them for the decision they made. It is not my place to pass judgement. Instead, it is my place to pray.

I pray for these women. I pray for their healing - physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I pray for their babies. I pray for the doctors and medical staff who take these women through the process and perform the procedure. I pray for our country and our lawmakers. I pray that someday our country will see that we cannot play God forever.  I pray for the activists who believe they are protecting life by taking life; that they may see 1 life doesn't justify the taking of another. I pray for those who are struggling right now, with a pregnancy they're not sure how to handle.  I pray for the people who work, every day, to show these women the different options that are available to them. I pray that more and more families would make themselves available to adopt the babies of these women or to help these women recognize their potential as mothers, so that their babies may have life.  I pray.

That's all I can do.  This is not in my hands.  It is in God's hands and His hands, alone.  That's all any of us can do. Pray and pray hard.

Take a moment, today, to remember all of those precious babies, today, who are living in Heaven with Jesus and enjoying eternal life and hug a child in your life extra tight while you thank the Lord for their life!

Good Morning

It is really not unusual for mornings at my house to be hectic, crazy, loud and repetitive.

Most mornings, I find myself repeating a few phrases to the point that I feel like the proverbial "broken record".

Time to get up. 
Get dressed. 
Brush your hair and teeth. 
Find your socks. 
Get your shoes on. 
Do you want milk in your cereal? 
Get your coat. 
Where is your backpack? 
Have I signed your agenda?  
Did you brush your teeth? 
Hurry! The bus is coming!

This morning. Success!!! No one threw a major fit. There were no major meltdowns over which shirt didn't' fit just right or the shoe that refused to be found.  There were no arguments about who was brushing their teeth first. (We have 3 bathrooms, but they all insist on using the same one - explain that!) There was no bickering over who would sit in what chair at the table or who would turn on which cartoon.  There were no crises about missing backpacks or agenda books.  It was still a bit repetitive, but it was relatively peaceful and easy going. So much so, that they each had a whole 20 minutes to spare!!!!


How did this thing happen? Was it a once-in-a-lifetime fluke?  Did I do something different?  Did they sleep better?  Was the weather a factor?  Did a swarm of bees come into my house overnight and fly away my real children and replace them with clones?  How did this great morning come into being?

I'll be thinking about that all day so I can try to repeat this pattern next week, for sure!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Fly on the Wall

Isn't it funny how God's Word allows us to really be a that proverbial "fly on the wall" so we can learn and observe from watching so many different stories play out like a movie?  I had an opportunity to come to this realization in a time of crisis and I want to share what I watched and learned...

Last week, I felt my world come to a crashing hault. No, it wasn't the car accident my family and I were recently in.  No. It wasn't a financial mistake or a lack of resources (which has so often felt like an unbreakable wall for my husband and me). No. It wasn't the tragic loss of a loved one or the shattering of a lifelong dream.  It was much worse.  The very structure and existence of my family was threatened.  The very make-up and protection of my family was in danger.  There were questions asked and scenarios examined.  Every possible doubt existed for our family.  We were facing a pit of doom and despair. (I am so not exaggerating, here. It was bad and the potential outcomes were really bad!)

It was in this moment of desperation that God gently reminded me of a Bible story I'd heard a long, long time ago.  I felt called to read the Book of Job.  It was the first time that I'd felt called to a particular passage of scripture, and to be honest, it was the first time that I really sought out God's answer to my prayer in His Word.  Before, I'd prayed and believed He would answer, and I'd even read a passage here and there, but had never really felt God telling me exactly where to look for an answer.  In fact, I'd always wondered just how people always seemed to find a specific answer in scripture, because the ability had completely alluded me!

On Friday, January 15, I was led to Job's story.  I began to read about how well-off and blessed Job had been.  Then, I read about Satan asking God to let him "test" Job's faith in God.  Satan was trying to prove a point - no man was so righteous that he wouldn't curse God in the face of extreme suffering. God knew Job's heart and knew that Job would refrain from cursing Him.  He knew it. God had no concerns and no questions, so He allowed Satan to test Job.  Job lost everything. He lost his family, all his loved ones, his livestock, his land, his prosperity. He lost everything!

Still, he did not curse God.  So, Satan approached God (see - he couldn't go to Job on his own).  This time, he received God's permission to strike Job with a horrible physical condition.  One that would burn his skin away and cause extreme pain to Job's body.  Satan assumed that such extreme physical suffering would drive Job into cursing God.  It didn't.  Job questioned why God would allow such suffering to come upon him and wondered how he had sinned against God in order to deserve this type of suffering, but he never cursed God.  Never. (Job, chapters 1-2)

Job had 3 friends, though.  I hadn't remembered this part of the story (which is the bulk of the Book of Job, actually).  These 3 friends (Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar) listened to Job talk about how he was suffering and then each chimed in with their two cents.  Each of the three believed that God would only inflict such pain and suffering on a man who was wicked and who had sinned a tremendous sin. These three men pushed and pushed at Job to repent of his unrighteousness against God.  The men assumed that Job had done something evil enough to deserve God's wrath.  They looked for ways that Job had sinned and tried, for several chapters, to persuade him to admit guilt and repent.  Job continued to testify to his innocence, but to call out to God for audience with Him, to plead his case.  (Job, chapters 3-27)

Then, we meet Job's 4th friend, Elihu, and we hear him speak to Job and the other 3 men.  Elihu basically tells them all to "be quiet" because they were speaking without knowledge and understanding.  Elihu tells Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar that they have incorrectly assumed that they knew God's heart and intentions.  He then tells Job that questioning God's judgement is wrong and ignorant.  Elihu points out that God is omniscient and that He makes no mistakes (Job 34:21-28).  He tells Job that God is not answering his pleas or giving him audience because Job's motivation to ask is not right.  (Job 35: 12-13).  Elihu reminds Job and the others that God punishes and rebukes those He loves in order to guide them to repent and be obedient, so He can restore prosperity (Job 36:10-11).

God enters the story in a storm! Wow! What a way to make an entrance.

He points out His majesty and complete ownership over the universe and everything in it.  He points out that He directs the weather, the animals, the plants, and man. Everything is under God's ultimate control.  Oh, and he points this out through a series of rhetorical questions to Job.  (Is it you who does a, b, and c?)  Job is humbled and is no longer quick to speak in order to assert his innocence before God.  He remembers that God knows all of Job's actions and inactions.  The need to testify before God is no longer present for Job. He is submitting to God's judgement and to his lack of understanding over it.  Job NEVER cursed God, like Satan thought he would. Job asked questions and requested God's explanation, but he never cursed God.  In chapter 40, Job is admonished to leave his judgment and vindication up to God, without question (Job 49:8-14)

I can only imagine that Job's friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, stood back in awe and shock at the sight of God and the sound of His voice!  Can you say "foot in mouth?"  My Bible makes the following statement in the footnotes (NIV Study Bible) of Job 42:7-9:

"Despite Job's mistakes in word and attitude while he suffered, he is now commended and the counselors are rebuked. Why? Because even in his rage, even when he challenged God, he was determined to speak honestly before Him. The counselors, on the other hand, mouthed many correct and often beautiful creedal statements, but without living knowledge of the God they claimed to honor. Job spoke to God; they only spoke about God. Even worse, their spiritual arrogance caused them to claim knowledge they did not possess. They presumed to know why Job was suffering."

In the end, Job's prosperity and contentment are restored by God, two-fold. He had more children and lived to 140 years. He had twice as much as he'd had before Satan threw a giant wrench in his wheel.  Job was richly blessed - in love and possessions - and he continued to be righteous before God.  The friends followed God's instructions in his rebuke over them and were forgiven for their mistakes.  All ended well.

Except for Satan, who now knew that a truly righteous man would not curse God, even in times of extreme suffering and pain.

I should also point out that while Job always proclaimed his innocence and righteousness, he never claimed to be sinless!  Remember, no man was ever free from sin except Jesus Christ, himself.  No one!

I learned a lot from watching this story unfold.  In my own time of extreme pain and suffering over the past few days, I was reminded of God's omniscient power and control over EVERYTHING in my life!  I was reminded that He loves me and that He will only allow pain in my life to the point that I can stand it.  I understood that God doesn't cause pain and suffering, but he may allow it so that we may learn a bigger lesson from it all. I also learned that sometimes, those we turn to for counsel, fail to speak God's truth in our lives and that men can be quick to judge and assumptions.  I was reminded that God's truth will be revealed and that He, and only He, can restore His followers to prosperity.  I was reminded that even though we sin, God loves us.  He loves us unconditionally - unlike man, who only love us when it feels "right".  I was reminded that only God will administer punishment that truly fits the crime and that we can always depend on God to be just and fair.


Yesterday, January 19, we received the news that our pain and suffering is over.  Now, we can move on and try to regain some sense of understanding over these circumstances. Praise God!  He truly led us out of the darkness and into His light and we have more faith in Him than ever before!!!!

Thank you, Lord, for showing me just how You lead people to your Word and reminding me how much You love us, even in our times of suffering. Thank you for showing me how to turn to You for support and encouragement, over man, because I can always depend on You for truth, love, and fairness! Amen. 

First Week - Done.

In the first real week of my efforts to have a more intimate relationship with God, my husband and my kids, and trying to be healthier in 2010, I feel I have some success to share.

First, I've lost 6 lbs by limiting my pop in take (which was super hard!), drinking lots of water, limiting portion size and carb intake.  I feel good about that and only hope I can keep it up.

I've also spent some time with God, though I wasn't as good about staying on top of that goal.  In fact, I'm ashamed to say that I didn't really realize how much God had to say to me through His Word until my family was thrown into crisis (another post - stay tuned).  Through that time, I felt God speaking calmness and encouragment directly to me through His Word and finally get it! Thank you, Lord.  I only wish you could have shared that with me without putting me through that particular crisis.

I enjoyed some special time with my girls. Sarah helped me to make pancakes one night for dinner while the other 3 all played the Wii.  She loved "cooking" and had a great time.  It was a real joy to see real, enjoyment on her face out of such a simple thing.  Then, my girls enjoyed some quality time with Mommy as we read about 12 books, of their choosing.  They were so excited to have Mommy read to them, they didn't even notice we'd turned the TV and computer off.  In fact, I've been intentionally turning the computer off several times per day, just so I don't get sucked into wasting hours with the screen rather than my kids. This week, I've been more content to read God's Word than to watch TV or Facebook/Twitter.  In fact, I'm feeling a little lost in Twitterverse right now...but my life is no worse! That's okay. This week, I'll spend some time with the boys (and by no means will I ignore the girls) - intentionally - and will continue to turn the screens in my house off!!! I will continue to tell them everyday that I love them and I am super proud to be their Mommy!

My husband and I were really tested this week, and we've survived.  Our love for one another was really tested and I believe we passed the test.  We were put together by God and nothing will tear us apart.  We draw together during times of crisis and we stand beside one another, and our family.  There will be no thundering black clouds hanging over our marriage - we will force the sun to shine them away!  I am so very grateful to have him to share my life with!

So, first week? Done. Successfully. On to the second...

Monday, January 11, 2010

I Will Not Share!

This is my best friend, Staci.  Staci and I met in 1995. She's told me that upon first meeting, she didn't think too highly of me and I still can't figure out why.  We were both young and full of dreams.  We were both in love (No - not with the same guy! But there is a funny story there!!!!)  I was a senior in high school and she was in college, but our interests were very much alike.  She was engaged and planning a wedding while I was planning a graduation.  Life was just starting for the both of us.

We grew to discover just how much alike we were and really enjoyed one another's company.  Quickly, we became as close as sisters and would spend lots of time laughing and talking and going dancing (she was never really as into that whole scene as I was, but she went! What a trooper!) We've walked beside one another through 2 weddings, the birth of 6 children, 8 household moves, 44 children's birthday parties, 23 wedding anniversaries, 3 women's conferences, 2 New Kids on the Block concerts, car accidents, trips to the ER, surgical procedures and overnight stays in the hospital, and too many overnights and hours of babysitting to count!

Staci's "my person". She's the one I call to share joyful news. She's the one I call on in a crisis. She's there to meet me at the ER when my daughter is seizing. She's there to pick up my kids from school when my car won't start. She's there to give me a hug. She's there to take me shopping and she's there to be brutally honest about what I'm wearing and should not be or to teach me the highlights of TLC's "What Not To Wear". She's there to tell me that its okay to go to Wal-Mart, alone, at 10:00 p.m. just to get away.  She's there to help me throw together a birthday party for my son when my husband is ill.  She's there to take my kids to AWANAs every week for 2 years. She's there to pick up my husband at 6:00 a.m. and take him to work so we don't have to get the kids out of bed. She's there for my kids, praying for them, correcting them, and loving them. She was there to make sure that they had a Christmas when we couldn't afford to do it ourselves. She's there to invite me to a women's conference and to encourage my dreams and goals! Staci was there to support my marriage when it all seemed to be crumbling.  Staci's there.  She's always there!  That's the true blessing of Staci.  (Oh, and she promised to bring me paraphernalia if I'm ever committed for treatment of my NKOTB obsession! That's the mark of a good friendship, right there.)

To my friend - I love you and I only hope that I've been able to give to you a fraction of what you've given to me over the last 15 years!  You are a truly amazing woman and I'm so happy that God brought us together, to be sisters and friends.  I cannot truly express how special you are to me and to my family.  Happy Birthday! We keep getting better with age, so by the time we're too old to care about how much weight we've gained or what we're wearing and laughing at one another over scrapbooks we can barely see - we'll be too much for this world to handle!

To the rest - I will not share my best friend, but I'll pray you find someone just as great!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Puttin' It In Writing

The Date: January 9, 2010

The Task: Put the goals for the year into writing

The Reason: Makin' It Real and Makin' It Mean Something

The Goal: To Enhance the Commitment I have with my God, my Husband and my Children, my Body, and my Budget - Makin' It All More Significant!!!!

Okay, so here goes. I'm a little nervous but I'm forcing myself to do this.  Why would any woman alive post her goals on the World Wide Web? Holy Cow! That's crazy, right.   OMWord.  What am I about to do?

I'm going to post this so that you, my friends and family, can help to hold me accountable.  I'm doing this so people can and will ask me how it's going. I'm doing this because I believe that God is telling me these are the areas of my life that need my attention.  I'm doing this because I know that my success will only be as strong as my commitment to success and my commitment to seeking Him in everything I do - from losing weight to being a better wife and mother to being more frugal and watchful of how I work to stretch the family dollar.  I know that God will meet me when I ask, but I also know I have to do my here goes.

These are not RESOLUTIONS because those are ALWAYS broken. These are GOALS that I will work toward and will NOT feel unsuccessful if I fall a little short. Instead, I will Praise God for every step I make toward these goals.  I will Praise God for every small point of success and I will Seek God when I struggle to stay focused.

1) I will spend 20 minutes with God, at least, 5 days per week. (Of course, I'm shooting for 7 days a week, but I don't want to get stuck in a guilty rut if there's a day or two here and there when it doesn't happen.) I will seek Him through more meaningful prayer throughout my day and I will delve into His Word regularly.  When I'm feeling good, I'll thank God for that. When I'm feeling down or I'm struggling with my focus, I'll ask God to pull me up and through that valley.  

2) I will work to lose 70 lbs  and be wearing a size 10/12 by December 31, 2010.
That will take me from 225 lbs to 155 lbs.  I will monitor inches lost more than pounds lost, because I WILL be exercising and gaining muscle.  I will do this through more careful monitoring of my food intake and portion size and I will make exercise a lifestyle change. I will make my health a priority because I want to be around for my kids and I want to avoid the diabetes and cancer history of my family's past.  I want to treat my body as God's temple and home - that makes it special and makes it worth something. (I will also be trying to limit my pop intake, but if you know me, this is very likely to be one of the more difficult parts to this plan! I sure do enjoy my Pepsi or Diet Dr. Pepper.)

3) I will create an opportunity to spend time, alone, with my husband at least 1x per month for a date night.  We enjoy our time alone together, to just be a "couple" rather than "parents".  We love to laugh and talk and play like we did when we were dating and we need this time together. Eventually, our kids will be out of the house and all we will have is "us".  That needs to be a BIG DEAL and something that we focus on!  We DESERVE to have time to just be "us".

4) I will be a more attentive mother to each of my four children by spending individual time with each of my kids each month - even if its just a trip to Wal-Mart or to get a Slushee or a walk around the block. I will turn the TV and Video Games off.  I will focus a little less on the housework and I will gripe less about what messes have been made that day.  They deserve that much from me. I will read with them more, play with them more, and will pray for them and for them more. I will be an example to them of a Devoted, Christ Follower and they will SEE ME seeking God in my parenting over them.

5) I will be more vigilant in looking for ways to stretch our family dollar. I will start couponing. I will search online for better deals when shopping and I will work with Justin to implement the Dave Ramsey plan into our monthly finances.  We will be more focused on responsible financial stewardship and will invite God into this area of our life. We will meet Him half way through faithful giving to Him from our wallet and our time.  No more excuses.  No more riding the fence. God talks about money more than 800 times. That tells me that its a subject He expects us to be knowledgeable and watchful over.

So, there it is. In writing. I'll click "publish post" in a second and will be locked in. I'm turning these things over to God and committing myself to being reminded of these goals, all year long.  Pray for me and stay tuned as I share successes and struggles throughout this year.