Tag Archive | family

Perspectives

Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?

Isaiah 40:12

There are certain times and places when I become very aware of how small I am. I know that I have mentioned it before….standing on the deck of a cruise ship and trying to imagine the depth below me. I am trying to be more intentional these days about sharing my thoughts outwardly with my kids and had a chance recently while on vacation.

wpid-20150730_121144-1.jpgWe were in the mountains. As we were kayaking across the lake, I was looking up at the mountains when that moment struck me. God scooped and measured the waters in the palm of his hand. When I think of the BIG oceans that is just staggering, but sitting there in that little boat on that small-ish lake I was just in awe. He weighed the mountains in scales! Pondering that, I looked at my hand…imagining that He scooped up the dust, dirt and rock and then poured it onto the scale. When I flipped my hand over, it looked like the peak of the mountain in front of me- with ridges, sharp peaks and gentle slopes. The elevation of these North Carolina mountains pales in comparison to others in this world.  Just how big are God’s hands?! Now, I really can’t imagine.

I love sharing these moments with our kids and I love the insight found in His creation.

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I have really let myself go!

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My son painted the most beautiful picture of a cardinal in art class at school. It’s simple and vibrant. A brilliant red bird resting on a branch with snow falling in the foreground. I love the things that he creates.

When he brought it home…while I raved and gave praise over this mini-masterpiece, he did not. He said, “It’s really not that good, but…Well, I guess it’s OK.” WHAT?! How could he think that?

 

 

We have our children’s art on display all over our home; some framed and some hung with care on the refrigerator to be displayed for a time. This one needed to be framed. Yet, I knew the moment I saw it that it would occupy a special place outside of our home. It would go to Grandma and Paw’s house. Paw loves birds. He had a stained glass cardinal hanging in the window of their home for years and has a very large print of various birds in all colors hanging in their bedroom. Yes, this would be the right home for this very special bird…with someone who would appreciate the beauty of the bird and the loving hands that created it.

Sometimes I look at myself the way my son looked at that bird. “Well, I guess…I’m really not that good…yea, I’m just OK.” But, thanks to my kids I was able to see something this past week that I had not seen or appreciated in this particular manner before.wpid-20150402_154111.jpg

While I was looking for a frame to showcase his regal, red cardinal- I found a portrait. It was in a frame in the basement and tentatively appeared to be holding a print of a ship. When I took the backing off of the frame, I saw a portrait…one of me. It was taken around 1998-99 or so. I was about 60 pounds lighter (YES SIXTY!), I had longer dark hair and was dressed in what would have been my standard attire for work. Back then, I was a Marketing Representative for an insurance brokerage. I always had my hair done, nails done, and was usually pretty trendy (at least for the time). I was definitely a very different person. I was wrapped up in ME.

 

So there I was; face-to-face with myself. Skinnier, put together, dark-haired, well dressed me. My initial reaction was to adjust the t-shirt that I had paired with my baggy jeans.  Then, I took a peek in the mirror at the gray hair that I have surrendered to over the past four years. Yikes.

” I have seriously let myself go.”

Just for giggles, I carried this throwback picture to my kids. I braced myself for the reaction I expected and then showed them. The reaction I got was NOT what I expected.

“Wow! We like your hair so much better now. Mom, we love the way you look today better.”

What?? Are they blind? It must be time to see the eye doctor again! 

What I had expected to hear was “Mom, you used to be so pretty.” But, what I heard was just the opposite. And after the initial shock wore off…and as I looked at the picture again….and I AGREED.

Yes, I like the me now much more than the one in that picture. Sure, the superficial stuff looked great- but, I was my focus then. God is my focus now. My husband and kids are my ministry. It’s not about me anymore. I am genuinely happier and mentally and spiritually healthier now by a long shot. I have been gifted a loving husband and two amazing children and am blessed beyond measure. None of the blessings I truly cherish can be changed by gravity or age. Praise the Lord.

Could it be that my kids could see at first glance what I didn’t? They appreciated this old bird and the hands that lovingly created her. (ha ha ha! I couldn’t resist.) I know that my kids didn’t know me then – and I am glad. But, the thought that they can see and appreciate the Jesus in me is a thought that thrills me to my soul.

God is in control.

So I now, I will take a deep breath (inhale)…

…And I will say that again

…and I will rejoice in it…

“Yes…Yes indeed. I have seriously and thankfully let myself go.”

 

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

This is me. My five-year old daughter took this picture this past Friday while we were on a field trip. It’s the most recent image…not posed, not edited. Just Real.

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Two peas in a pod

Psalm 51: reflections in the spin cycle

Another snow day; the third one this week. I have been sick for two weeks and have so much catching up to do. When it snows and rains like this, it’s best to save the septic field and refrain from doing too much laundry at home. After being down and out- the laundry has piled up higher than the mounds of plowed and drifted snow. Time for the laundromat.wpid-20150306_104041.jpg

The kids brought books to read while we waited. I assured them that it would be a reasonably short visit because we could do the drying at home. I was completely taken off guard when they reacted the way they did. The books and coats went into a chair by the window…they flipped over two of the three laundry baskets…and each took a seat.

Front row for the big show.

He practically had his face pressed up on the glass the whole time and only moved away long enough to float to one of the other machines. When the spin cycle began, they were whipped into a frenzy! To them, it looked like the clothes in the machine had just disappeared as the centrifugal force pressed them firmly against the inner walls  of the 62 lb. capacity beast.  A young couple sitting nearby began to laugh…who knew that laundry could be such a wondrous and magical experience.

They had never seen a front load washing machine before.

Two hillbillies in the big city.

Laundry. They were mesmerized, entertained, and positively pleased as punch.

I miss those times. Two years ago I could look at a tree in a storm as the leaves turned up to welcome the rain…and see God. There was wonder in my coffee, the clouds in the sky…God was evident everywhere. Even in all of the chaos of life, I was the one pressed up against the glass watching in amazement and awe as the spinning melted into the walls and God was at the center. There are seasons. God is always present…always working…always active. Sometimes we sit at the feet of Jesus and learn…and watch. Other times we are Martha, diligently working on the things He has given us to do.

This Martha season has been complicated and blessed. There are tasks that He has placed in my path…people…needs. I have been listening, and started out following His lead quietly. It was awesome! I could see how God was weaving people and situations together- all in one load. But, then the spinning started. I’ve gotten caught in the spin cycle. I don’t want to say “yes”–I don’t want to say “no”. I am spinning with my back pressed against the wall and everything is being squeezed out of me. It’s too fast. I am tired. And I am too loud about it. I have been too loud about my feelings and frustrations. I have been too loud about some of the excitement in my world…good news and bad. I have quickly become overwhelmed and now I have found out that I am overwhelming people around me. I need balance…AGAIN. So now I am feeling a bit alone in the spin cycle and the anxiety is creeping in. Feelings. The reality may not be overwhelming, but when the feelings are added in- Satan get’s the upper hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

It’s time to very intentionally focus on God, not the things that make me anxious. [AGAIN] Not how I fail [STILL].

Psalm 51 is near and dear to me and I have found myself meditating on it a lot this week.

Just be quiet. That may be a good start. Oh, Lord. Please hit the reset button. My spirit is downcast within me.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.

When everything has been squeezed out of me, there is a big void that only God can fill. I eagerly await that joy and willing spirit; His sustenance.

I have no idea what’s next. I feel like I haven’t had much to write here lately and am wondering if this season has passed, too. (The spammers have written more on my site than I have in the past year!)But, I will be still and wait. Maybe the spin cycle will stop- then, I can exit the spin and sit with my face pressed to the glass. When the spin starts again I want this perspective. I want this vantage point. I want to see all of the chaos melt away with God in the center – clearly. But, that’s what I want. I wonder what God’s plans are?

I have to focus on God’s plans. Not mine.

I must have FULL faith, because God is faithFUL. ALL THE TIME.

Not Perfect, but Pure

This morning, as I walked down the hall carrying our youngest from our bed to the breakfast table, I heard him chatting with hubby. He said, “Dad, I need you to listen to this…”, and he began to read.

“…be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Then he paused and said, “Dad, I think I have really messed that up.”

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:48

I quietly chuckled, but then said, “Me too, son -me to.”

Hubby went on to read “The Beatitudes” with him and explain that as each measure is added  and we surrender to Christ, His perfection is made evident through us. Just then, my daughter’s brain woke up. From her chair, curled up in a ball and wrapped in a sweater, she whispered, “A. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Hubby asked her to repeat it louder…it was the verse she had learned in school which was associated with the letter “A” in the alphabet.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 3:23

On a day when my head is swimming and I feel like I am drowning in illness, defeat, confusion and frustration, I needed that exchange.

Simple.

Not perfect, but pure.

I am thankful for the days when my kids “get it”…even when I don’t.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I am waiting on that strength today.

Birthday Presence

Presence not presents.

Today marks 41 completed trips around the sun for this blooming blogger. So today, I want to share 41 gifts…evidence of God’s presence in my day in the form of blessings and things that simply bring a smile to my face.

1. A cool crisp morning inside the walls of our home.

2. …which created the perfect opportunity to snuggle a little longer with one of the gifts God has given me…

3. …my hubby. A gift straight from God.
4. Seeing his cow-licked swirls peeking from under the covers as I climb to the top bunk to wake him.
5. He moves mountains just to hug me in the morning…mountains of blankets and stuffed animals.
6. Soft music in the morning. Sing praise to the Lord.
7. Lunch boxes in a row
8. Her hair looks like corn silk when I brush it.
9. A smile from under her hoodie as she counts her Lucky Charms.
10. His disbelief that it’s his mother’s birthday…no way! (Oh yeah…because I never age. Right?)
11. Sharing notes from the weekend marriage conference, I Still Do, with a friend.
12. A crystal clear sky…not a cloud.
13. A soft breeze.
14. The slow and subtle change in the color of the trees.
15. A long hug extending from big, strong shoulders.
16. Eating oatmeal together over a morning devotion.
17. That moment of silence in the house as the garage door shuts…Ahhh…just me and my Bible.
18. Manna. Daily bread.
19. A 6 a.m. birthday text from a friend. Years and miles between us, but I feel like we never miss a beat.
20. My Debbie (no need to elaborate…she is amazing)
21. Leopard prints in the Fallwpid-20141006_194651.jpg
22. A long fuzzy sweater
22. And the purchase of a new pair of jeans that my hubby will approve of (not another pair that I can pull on without unbuttoning them)
23. In a smaller size
24. Two days of phone silence…broken by a birthday song from my sister.
25. Sunroof open letting in the light of the sun
26. Singing at the top of my lungs
27. Alone time with God. Praying in the car or at the bedside…blessed to have that freedom and privilege.
28. His fresh buzz cut under my fingertips.
30. A nuzzle from the pup…an example of unconditional love in flesh and fur
31. A warm home

32. Chinese take-out

33. A family video game night with Super Mario

34. followed by a movie for me and hubby.wpid-20141006_194615.jpg

35. Quality time…a huge gift! I am so blessed by each day that God gives me with this family.

36. Shopping for a new parallel Bible and having so many choices…again, blessed to live in a place where that is possible.

37. Psalm 51 and Psalm 84:10

38. They play

39. A bouquet of fresh flowers

40. A whole day to just “wing-it”.

41. My favorite b-day song. I could sing it 41 times and still sing it once more.

 

Thank you Lord for your gifts; Large and small. Most of all, I am thankful for the gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

 

Sad = Frown

If you have ever seen the movie “French Kiss” with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline then you may recognize this little rant. Or if you have bumped into me today you may have seen something similar. I am NOT ok today. And I am ok with that.

God was preparing me for this day just yesterday. My daughter was in the kitchen helping her brother make lunch. One of her favorites is bologna and cheese. But, she uses the bologna to make the face and rips the cheese to look like hair…to look like her. Her favorite part is taking the mustard bottle and carefully squeezing as her little hands guide the bottle along to form the face on her creation. And it’s usually a happy one. But, not today. Mid-masterpiece, she slipped on the rug in the kitchen and fell right on her bottom. She’s a tiny little thing and doesn’t have much padding and the tears welled up quickly as she ran toward me. I hugged her and gave her some comfort and she went back to her lunch. When I finally got the remainder of our lunch over to the table I noticed her bologna face.

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She had drawn a great big frown. I looked at her and she still had tears lingering in her eyes. She gave me a pouty face …all I could say was “I’m so sorry. That’s so sad. Oh, girl.” And then I had to turn to chuckle a bit. That was the saddest little bologna I had ever seen.

Yep. Corresponding face with the corresponding emotion.

She’s got that part down.

So why do grown ups have such a hard time with this?

Today, I woke up with an empty calendar but by 9:00 am that had changed. I noticed that our back-to-school shopping was still not done, I really needed to head to the Christian bookstore (not a big deal for some, but the closest one to me is in a neighboring state), had to drop into the docs office to get some school paperwork completed, drop off some uniform shirts to be embroidered…and then I plugged in the pool and the CGFI kicked in. It knocked the coffee pot offline. (Not a good morning for that nonsense!) It would seem that the line going to the pool…which the puppy had chewed on…had gotten wet in the torrential downpour last night. Ok…add a new electrical line to the list. Then I pull out of the driveway and notice the hole: the chasm that has opened up in our front yard. You see, just a few months ago we had to have a new septic field installed and the excavator warned me that the area where they do the necessary perc test is a bit finicky. He said he will sink over a few months and then they’d come fill it in and pack it down. He must have known what he was talking about I guess.

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HOLY COW! We have kids…that’s a big hole. It’s about a foot deep and three feet long and getting bigger. Not only am I a mom, but I used to be an insurance agent. This one has “hazard” written all over it. So I did what any reasonable insurance mom would do and I bought caution tape because it sounds like that hole will be there until fall. (Hey maybe we could incorporate it into Halloween decor?…Oh wait…squirrel!)

Needless to say when I pulled out of the garage, that hole was much more than a hole. It was a pretty accurate portrayal of me at that very moment. Since April, I feel like I have been hammered pretty hard and the hits keep coming. I roll with it; some days better than others. God has always provided and I have no reason that He will let us fall now. And most of it is just “stuff” anyways. Just regular, real life, grown up stuff. What’s the real problem? Is it that corresponding face thing? There are days when I really need to allow myself to use the corresponding face with the corresponding emotion instead of stuffing it all in…Until the heavy rain comes and a chasm opens up and I sink like the hole in the front yard.

I know what God has to say about this- Check out Proverbs if you want to read for yourself. I do not have a license to throw a tantrum, or be angry and full of rage, or to lash out at others or plop down in my muddy hole and roll in it. Nope. But, I am human and I can cry and laugh as the occasion presents itself. Maybe I should do each a little more often so I don’t crack like I did today. Emotions often lie and decisions shouldn’t be made when emotions are high. (Otherwise, I would have bulldozed the pool, put a sale sign up in the yard, and you’d find me sitting in the hole.)  I need to DAILY give it to God…whatever “it” is today…as it comes.

Cast your cares on the Lord

and he will sustain you;

he will never let

the righteous be shaken.

Psalm 55:22

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells me that there is a time for laughing and crying…but, just for a time.

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

And then the time passes…and the bologna face is eaten….and it’s time to move on.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Memory foam

Back-to-school shopping…let the games begin! Researching and searching, making a list and checking it twice, trying on and taking off. It’s a process-much like parenting itself; part trial-and-error, part purposeful and planned.

Yesterday, it was uniform shirts and dollar store school supplies…today it was shoes and haircuts. Shoes. Aisles and aisles of choices ranging from funky to functional. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but after I had their feet measured we set out on our mission as we meandered the stacks.

I can’t believe he was wearing shoes that were 2 sizes too small.image

Yikes. The prices are a bit steeper than I recall.

How did we do this without coupons on my smart phone?

I have to steer her from shoes that create lightning strike effects in the movie theater…can’t make that mistake again.

As I help her tie up her tennies, he slides in next to me with his choice. Red tennis shoes with black soles. Somewhat surprised by the choice, I approved. “Those are sharp! Go find your size and bring ’em over.” She springs from her stool and runs double-time down the aisle. “They feel soooooo good!”, she tells the whole store in all of her excitement. Memory foam  is written on the side of the box. What will they come up with next? When I was a kid the man on the commercial would have claimed that it was made with “space age polymers” or something.  It really is a neat idea.  Memory foam is manufactured to react with heat and mold to fit the surface (or in this case- foot) it is in contact with. Smart shoes that take on the form of the feet that wear them. Ok…we’ll try them.

Just then, he comes to me with shoe box. When he opened it, I noticed that it was not the pair he had shown me before.

“What happened to the others?”

“Well, I noticed the price and thought that it was a bit too high- so I put them back.”

“Honey, what’s ‘too high’ ?”

This opened up a beautiful discussion between mother and son that was absolutely wonderful. You see, he has been earning allowance for certain chores and we have been teaching him about tithing and stewardship in the process. Just two weeks ago, he wrapped up some of the change he had been saving and proudly made a deposit to his bank account. (At age 8 he says he is saving for a car. You know what? I bet he’ll meet his goal.)  When he looked at the original price on the box it was steep, indeed. He missed the sale price. But, it was a proud moment for me. I know some adults who don’t have the common sense and conviction that this kid had today. Even though it was not “his” money he was spending, he wanted to be a good steward. He was thinking of this little “team” of ours and not himself. My heart sprouted wings right there in the store.

When we calculate allowance we have a category marked “above and beyond”. This is for the stuff that he may take initiative to do without being asked. For example, one day he emptied the dryer and folded all of the clothes (and sorted them into piles!) because a shirt that he wanted was in that load of laundry. He did this on his own without instruction. He got “points” for that. Today, he showed a real effort to contribute to our household when he made that decision in the shoe store. We sat down with him later and talked about it. My hubby said he wanted to give him “above and beyond” points.

His response?

“Oh, I don’t want points for that. It was the right thing to do.”

I think another set of wings just sprouted from my feet! He is getting it!

He is understanding humility, sacrifice, stewardship and so much more.

I hate to say it, but sometimes I need some affirmation. I pray to God regularly and ask Him to guide me…I want to know that I am steering these kids the right way…HIS way. But, am I doing a good job? That moment of affirmation happened, standing among the stacks of boxes…the memory foam in this child is working. God is pressing on him. Hubby and I are pressing on him. He is being molded and that “memory foam” is holding its form.

I wanted to share this with you- not just to brag on my kid (although I am definitely proud!)- but, to give you some hope and encouragement. There are times when you may think that your efforts are in vain. Those days when you feel like you’re banging your head on the wall are getting closer together and you wonder why you’re talking…and if anyone is listening.

THEY ARE.

Keep praying for them. Keep talking. Keep modeling…because they’re watching.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:9-11

I pray this scripture for my kids often. I have it written on a card on my dresser so I can meditate on it. God is working. There is fruit here.

John 15:5 says:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

And that, folks, it just it…Apart from Jesus Christ, I can do nothing.

In study, in prayer, in daily scripture meditation, in application, by faith…through the Holy Spirit…I am being changed and transformed. I am a hunk of memory foam: my heart, mind and life. Whatever influence I invite to press upon me will be the very influence that molds me. I can testify to that- the good and the bad. I am renewed and redeemed.

So Mom and Dad, on those days when you are praying hard for your kids, maybe banging your head on the wall or sitting in your room crying…wondering if your kids hear….God gives strength to the weary.

Do you not know?

Have you not heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God,

the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,

and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary

and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,

and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the Lord

will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;

they will run and not grow weary,

they will walk and not be faint.

Isaiah 40-28-31