Monday, December 31, 2007

No Guarantee's

This post is a continuation from my previous post entitled 'The Prodigal Son Returns' (if you haven't read the first post, you may want to scroll down and do that:).

As I shared in my first post, I have wrestled with God about the decision to allow my son to live with his dad in California. My main issue was/is the fact that Josh's dad is a non believer. Although Josh's dad has promised that he will take him to church, he still isn't 'living' a Christian lifestyle. His values are nowhere near in line with what God teaches us, but align more with what the world has to teach. For example, he believes that women should have the right to abort their babies if that is what they choose. That is just one of the issues, but basically he falls under the mentality of 'whatever that person feels is right for themselves'. Very democratic, very California.

When I want good, solid, biblical counsel on issues in my life, I often turn to Connie. She is our Pastor's wife, but more so...she is a dear friend. Since she has raised 3 beautiful, wise girls of her own, I value her advice immensly. When I spoke to her of my concern about letting Eddie raise Josh in a non Christian home I thought that she would definitely be on 'my side'. I was in for a little surprise.

What she told me is that even if Josh lived with me, there was no guarantee he would be a 'Christian'. I could bring him to church and youth group and he could look the part, but his walk with Christ was up to him. Only he could make the decision to have a relationship with Christ....and he didn't have to live with me to make that decision. HELLO! OK..obviously Connie was a little 'off' that day! :) Actually, I knew what she was saying was right. I am a youth leader and I am blessed to witness kids making their own decisions to follow Christ. Most of them don't come from 'Christian' homes. I also get to watch the 'Christian' kids playing the part of Christians, but not walking the walk. HOWEVER....this isn't a 'youth group' kid we were talking about. This is my son! I wasn't completely buying it. I still felt that if he was brought up in a Christian home he would stand a much better chance.

So, God being God, in all of His infinite wisdom, allowed the point to be driven home. My 16 year old daughter, who lives with me, has fallen away from God. She doesn't believe. She believes there is probably a God, but she thinks the whole thing is "stupid". She goes to church, she went to youth group, she looked the part. The 'relationship' wasn't/isn't there.

God has taught me a lot over the past 6 years, but probably one of the hardest lessons I am learning is the art of....letting go. I can picture all of your heads nodding up and down as you read this. I know, you know what I am talking about. Those two simple words are a struggle for all of us and in various different facets of our lives. We all struggle with letting go. Most likely, we always will. Just when we let go of one thing, we will find ourselves clinging to another. That is our human, sinful nature.

Yesterday I watched a plane climb upward into a dark, vast sky. That plane carried my one and only son. My heart broke as it does every time I watch him leave. My head rested against the oversized, cold window and I could see my breath appear and disappear with each sob. As I watched his plane taxi down the runway, I had never been so aware of just how out of control I am. He was alone on that flight and I had no choice, but to lay him into God's hands and trust that God would take care of him.

It was a long ride from Omaha to Red Oak last night. My heart was heavy and I just wanted to get home. Although my mom came with me, we didn't really speak. I knew she understood how I felt when she reached over and patted my arm. In that moment, I also realized that God understood how I felt. He whispered in my ear: "I know. I let my Son go, too". I thought of the sacrifice that God had made and the pain He must have felt not being able to help His Son as He hung on the cross. Suddenly, my loss seemed so small.

I spoke with Josh last night when he arrived in California. I let him know that I watched his plane take off and asked him if he saw me at the window as the plane pulled away. He said "No. I fell asleep." So, here I am crying, wondering if he is going to miss me as much as I already miss him and what is he doing? SLEEPING! Isn't that just like a boy?

Son, I pray you will always be able to sleep in peace knowing that God, and God alone, keeps you safe and sound.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve and I feel a familiar giddy-ness. Much like I did as a child and yet, different. I am not excited about the presents I will open tonight, but I am excited to watch others open their presents. Honestly, I would be happy to not receive a thing this year. After all, I have already received the best present I could ever hope for.....Jesus. The Fathers gift to the world. The gift of Love, Hope, and Salvation.

So, on this Christmas Eve I would just like to say a few things to my family...including the 'Yada-Yada Sisterhood':

Mom and Dad- I am looking so forward to spending the next couple of days in your home surrounded by the beautiful decorations and my family who I love more than anything else on this earth. Thank you for making every Christmas special! I am so grateful to God that He gave me you as my parents. I love you:)

My kiddo's- There are not words to tell you how much I love you. It is my prayer that you will understand and accept the Love that God has for each of you. I pray that you will fully understand the scope of that Love when we read about Christ's birth tonight and realize that He sent His son for YOU! Merry Christmas babies!

Aunt Kathy and Uncle Steve- What a blessing you are! I have enjoyed our hours spent gathered around your kitchen table drinking coffee, sharing giggles and tears, and talking about our Lord. I pray that you will experience His presence over the next couple of days as you and your family gather in your beautiful home. I love you!!

Deb- Christmas will seem strange without you this year. What a blessing for you to be able to spend it with all of your family in California. I pray that you just absorb all of the love and joy that comes from being with family. I can't begin to tell you what you mean to me, so I won't. I believe you already know and it would make you cry if I did. I know how you hate that. So, I will just say.....I look forward to spinach dip when you get home (hint, hint). I love you, man!

Lori- I am praying that you, Daniel, Ali, and Syd will have the most Blessed Christmas ever. You are missed dearly by all who were fortunate enough to be called 'friend' by you, but I know you are exactly where God wants you...for now:)

Susan- I know this Christmas will be a little hard for you. I will be praying that God's love penetrates deep into your heart and that you will feel His arms around you and your family. God bless you!! I am thankful He has brought you into my life. I look forward to getting to know you better over the next year.

Tanya and Jeff- You are so special to me. I pray you will enjoy this time with Teresa and your family. I pray that God will fill your house with Joy, Peace, and Love. I look forward to getting together soon.

MelMac- You're on your way home and I am so glad. Your smile can light up a room like no other. May God bless this time you have with your family. I know He has blessed us with your presence!

Alissa- I am so glad you are coming home. What an amazing young lady you are and what an amazing heart for God you have. I pray you will enjoy this time in Red Oak as much as we will enjoy having you here. I hope we can find a minute or two to share some coffee!! (OH, and if you feel like making coffee know where I live:)

Christmas Blessings to each of you!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Fun!

I just read a fun blog that a friend of mine stole from another persons blog. The blog thief (AKA: Susan:) hoped that her 'blogging buddies' would follow suit and steal it, too. So, being the good friend I am, I will join her in the thievery!

The idea is to write 12 things about Christmas that you remember or you have started as a tradition. Here are my 12:

1) There were so many presents under the tree that they would literally stick out 4 feet from the bottom of the tree.

2) My grandma's cookies and my aunt's fudge

3) Men in our family always did the dishes on Christmas day

4) My mom bought my children ornaments every year for Christmas

5) We open gifts Christmas Eve. Santa came on Christmas Day. We don't do 'Santa' anymore, but I still put out stockings for the kiddo's on Christmas Day.

6) The lady who lived next door to my grandma would always leave something for me on my grandma's porch. One year she sent Santa Claus over to my grandma's house on Christmas Eve for all of us grandkids.

7) Every year my mom buys a Christmas book for me to read with the kiddo's. Last year it was 'The Christmas Shoes'. think the song is tough, try reading the book! We read Max Lucado's 'An Angels Story' every Christmas Eve before bed. It's our favorite.

8) Bagel Bites! We cook finger foods on Christmas Eve and my eldest daughter insists there must be Bagel Bites.

9) My son comes home for Christmas

10) Watching my dad try to assemble our old artificial tree. You know, the one that required you to install each branch. My dad completing the Christmas tree, wrapping it in lights, plugging in the lights, and finding that 1 strand of the 10 strands he so carefully put on....don't work.

11) Watching my children open their gifts!

12) Our first CHRISTmas....December 2001. That was the first time I realized that while I love all of the above mentioned Christmas memories, none of them really matter. It's all about Him!

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May the love of our Savior reach beyond your memories and traditions and penetrate the depths of your heart this year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Prodigal Son Returns..... maybe he's not 'prodigal', but he is home. I picked up my son, Joshua, last night from the airport. Josh lives with his dad in California during the school year and spends Christmas and Summer with us in Iowa. Talk about polar opposites. Especially this time of year when it truly is 'polar' here.

So, my baby gets off of the plane and I am watching for him. I already know I am going to have a hard time recognizing him because, well, I have spoke with him on the phone. See, he was just here in August. However, for a 14 year old boy 4 months may as well be 4 years. In other words....he no longer sounds like his sisters. He is beginning to sound like a....dare I say it.....(gulp) MAN! Here I am in the airport with my mom watching, waiting, pacing, anxious to get my arms around this boy that I love so dearly, when all of a sudden, from behind, I hear a voice. It's vaguely familiar. It's my son. He walked past me and was behind me without me seeing him. I think I shrieked slightly. Maybe it wasn't audible to people around me, but in my head it was a cry........"Where did my baby go?"

My 'baby' is 6 ft tall, weighs approximately 143 lbs, and wears a size 13 shoe! Where there used to be the chubby little face of a child, there is now a chisled outline of a young man. There is even some 'facial' hair. EEEK! I asked if it was time to start shaving and he laughed and said..."I already do mom. That's how I got it to look like this. You know if you shave it, it comes back darker and thicker." This made me chuckle as the 'facial' hair could actually be mistaken for a dirty lip.

His physical appearance is only part of the shock. What is even more amazing is how mature he is becoming. Well, in some ways. I don't know what it is about my 10 year old daughter that brings out the 5 year old in my son, but this morning I awoke to her yelling because Josh was trying to squeeze her through a narrow opening between the bed and the wall. Other than those precious little moments, he really has 'grown up' quite a bit and I can't take credit for it.

Joshua living with his dad has been a very hard struggle for many years. On one hand, I am happy his dad loves him and wants him. I am finding that many dads don't. On the other hand, I wish he would leave me alone and let me raise my son. Yeah, that's pretty, I know. Very Christian of me, eh?

When I say this has been a struggle, what I really mean is I have been wrestling with God about this issue for quite some time. I know where God wants my son......and it's not with me. The struggle has not only been with God, but about God. Josh's dad is not a believer. See why I'm wrestling? Why on His green earth would He not want Josh to live in a Christian home?

The answer becomes more clear each time I see my 'baby'. I don't have the slightest idea of how to raise a man! I did an awesome job raising my boy. He is loving, caring, sensitive, and he will make an amazing husband and father someday due, in part, to my upbringing, but he is not a 'boy' anymore. His dad is raising him to be a 'man' and....he is doing a great job.

God has been working with me on this issue for about 5 years (I'm a little slow:). He has brought some major changes, disappointments, and struggles into my life to teach me this lesson, but finally.......I get it Lord!

I am not done with this blog by any means. There is so much more, but this blog is getting entirely too long. So....I will post a kinda/sorta 'Part 2' to this over the next few days. I am anxious to share what God has been revealing to me. Right now, though.....I am going to go home to my son and wrap my arms around him. (Well, around his waist, because I can't reach his neck anymore:).

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

1 Corinthians 13...With a Twist

Most people know that 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the 'Love Chapter'. It is often quoted at weddings and various occasions where 'love' is the theme, but not ususally at Christmas. Why? Isn't Christmas all about love?

"God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son".

Christmas started with Love when God sent His Son into this world and it was Love that kept Jesus focused on His journey to the cross. Love for the Father and love for us.

I ran across this beautifully written 'Christmas' version of 1 Corinthians 13 and wanted to share it with you:

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just a decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the tree with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on my love for Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

Author Unknown

Monday, December 17, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas' Past

It's December grandpa's birthday. He has been gone almost 20 years now and I miss him. Especially this time of year.

I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas. Not the 'Christmas' that the stores celebrate, but the Christmas that we, as Christians, celebrate. I love the story of how our Savior was brought into the world to save us. Such humble beginnings for the King of Kings. I love the lights, the Christmas tree's, the season of giving to others, and last, but certainly not least, I LOVE Christmas carols. (Actually, I'm slightly a fanatic when it comes to Christmas carols. For 30-some days of the year I listen to nothing other than Christmas carols! Yeah it's sick...I know:)

This time of year always stirs memories of past Christmas'. We had a fairly large family and the door was always open to friends at my grandma and grandpa's house. People would pop in and out on Christmas Eve and the presents would just continue to grow. My grandma, mom, and aunt were excellent wrappers and each gift looked like it came from the gift wrapping department at Macy's. The children would anxiously await the time that we would hear an adult tell us that we could begin to unwrap our presents. In a frenzy that resembled sharks feeding, we would tear into the beautiful packages leaving a whirlwind of bows, paper, and boxes.

Our family is much smaller now. My grandparents have all passed away, my aunt has passed away, my uncles have moved and us grandkids are scattered throughout the United States with families of our own. Our door is still open, but very few people stop by. With all of the joy this time of year brings, there is also an ache. I miss my family. I miss my grandma's mincemeat cookies and the way she would cook as if 100 people were coming to dinner. I miss the way my grandpa, who was a very quiet man, would sit on the couch not saying much, but taking it all in. You could see his eyes sparkle and his mouth would be turned upward in a very content, joyful smile. I imagine that he was just happy to see everyone he loved gathered together. I miss opening presents from my aunt. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't about the present itself. My aunt would always try to buy you something off the wall. Something that she knew you would love, but you wouldn't really think of buying yourself. She put a lot of thought into the gifts she bought.

I am so thankful that I have learned over the years who Christmas is really about. If I didn't know Jesus, I think the memories of the people I have loved and lost would take my breath away. Occasionally, they still do. This Christmas, as I sit with my mom and dad and watch my 4 children open their gifts, I will think back to the Christmas' I had as a child. There will definitely be an ache, but the joy will far outweigh the sadness. Instead of dwelling on those who I miss, I will be thankful that God allowed me to have such amazing people in my life and such wonderful Christmas memories. I will be thankful for my children and my parents and the memories God is allowing my children to make with their grandparents. Then I will, once again, focus on Jesus....and thank God for his indescribeable gift that continues to give every day of the year.

Friday, December 7, 2007


After living in Iowa for 11 years, one would think that I would be less impressed by the snow. Actually, it's quite the opposite for me. I remain captivated from the time I see that first flake dancing in the air until the last flake hits the soft, glittery, ground. My heart races a little faster and I can feel the corners of my mouth begin to turn upward. There is a warmness that envelops me and a joy that could rival that of any child on Christmas day!

My children love the snow, too (although, they probably love it less since they are the ones who have to go out and shovel:). My youngest daughter, however, is my Snow Angel (she even has a shirt to prove it:). She absolutely adores the snow. She loves it like I do. Maybe more. When she was little, maybe around 2 or 3 years old, I would always tell her when we were supposed to get snow during the night so she would look forward to getting up in the morning.

Bright and early the next morning, without fail, I would awaken to the most beautiful sound. My baby would run into my room and exclaim "Nooooo, Mommy! It's Nooooowing!". Her eyes would twinkle with excitement and you could tell she was planning her day in her mind. She would barely be finished with breakfast before she would be putting on her snow gear so she could run outside and make snow angels. Eventually, we would have to make her come in. Her little hands and face would be bright red and sooo cold. Yet, she would fuss every time we even suggested she come in and get warm.

My 'baby', who is now 10 years old, still loves the snow. She still gets as excited as she did when she was a toddler who couldn't pronounce the word. When I came home from work yesterday I could tell she had been outside playing in the winter wonderland and for a brief moment, my mind flashed back to her as a toddler and I just thanked God for my Snow Angel.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Wrapped In Giggles

One of the things I love the most is the time I spend with my children right before bed. My three daughters pile into my room and we lay on my bed and discuss different things. Sometimes we discuss serious stuff and other times, well, they are just plain goofy. Last night was one of those goofy times. While Amber, my second oldest daughter, was busy trying to discuss important stuff like school, my other two daughters were busy making faces at each other and trying not to laugh. Which...they both failed miserabley at! It doesn't take much to send Jordan, my youngest daughter, into a fit of giggles and last night she had definitely been struck by the giggle bug! Of course, once she threw back her head in laughter, Samantha and Amber couldn't help but chuckle. Even I couldn't keep straight face. As I lay there watching these three girls, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed with love for them. They each bring something unique to our family and I am so proud to be their mom.

I often find myself watching my children and wondering what God has in store for their lives. Sometimes I just wish He would give me a sneak preview. You know, just a small glimpse into their futures. I'm not asking for an entire overview, but maybe just some 'scenes from next week' stuff. You know like..."Next week on All of Heather's Children" stuff. What choices will they make when they don't have me looking over their shoulder? Will they spend their lives serving our Lord or will they spend their lives serving the world? Of course, I know why He doesn't allow me a glimpse into my childrens future. As soon as I found out what their futures were going to look like, I would have to put my two cents in and I would end up making a mess that, in the end, He would have to fix. Yeah, God is wise!:)

For now, I will be content with the daily glimpses into the lives of my children. I will be filled with joy when they exhibit faith and follow our Lord no matter how hard it is. I will ache when they make decisions that are outside of God's will for their lives and I will praise God nightly as I allow my children's giggles to wrap around me like a favorite blanket.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ode to Joy we are at the end of November and as one of my dear Christian sisters so gently pointed out (NOT!...Thanks, Susan.) I haven't blogged in forever! I had no idea how long it had been until I realized that I haven't blogged since October. Time is flying....

A lot of things have happened over the past month. There have been great things and there have been, well, not so great things. Maybe that's why I chose not to blog this month. I think I was afraid if I started blogging, I would focus on the not so great things. November has been a roller coaster month that would probably knock the wind out of you if I went into every last detail. So I will just say that the fabric of my life began to slowly unravel. Much like that dreaded snag in your nylon that begins as a small nuissance, then slowly works it's way into a full fledge run until pretty soon you can feel the wind penetrating your legs and you know that your skin is exposed for all the world to see. With that being said, I don't want to focus on that snag. After is just a snag.

Now, looking back over the last month, all I can really see are blessings. I know that the last month has brought me some of the biggest challenges and disappointments of my life, but I have also experienced joy in a way I never thought was possible! God has brought me to a place in my walk w/ Him that has sustained me through some of my darkest moments. I have been blessed to feel peace when the storms and waves were raging around me. I have heard His voice in the midst of all the 'noise' that tried to quiet Him and as I said....I have experienced a joy that no situation, no person, no challenge, not even Satan himself could extinguish. I am tired and I am drained, but I am standing strong because stronger is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."
2 Corinthians 4:7-9

I am hoping to blog more in December as I have definitely missed it.....and I have so much more to share.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Simple Pleasures

I have always said that I am pretty easy to please. It really doesn't take much to amuse me or make me happy. It's always been little things for me; A phone call to say 'hi', a hug, a flower picked from the garden, a good movie, spending some quality time with my family, a good book, etc. I refer to them as Simple Pleasures. Things that don't cost money, but can brighten my whole day. Yesterday God blessed me with a simple pleasure.

I had gone to the Dr. because I had a medical 'thingy' (probably not the technical term:) pop up. I was tired, worried, and really thirsty. I meant to stop by the store on my way to work, but had stuff on my mind and forgot. On any normal day I would leave at noon and go get something to drink, but because I was late getting to work I decided to work through my lunch break. Of course, the more I thought about not being able to leave, the more thirsty I was. My boss always keeps our small refrigerator stocked with Diet Coke, but I only drink that on really desperate days. As the clock ticked, it was fastly becoming a desperate day.

I finally decided that Diet Coke was going to have to do. I had to take a couple of pills and I absolutely couldn't take them without something to wash them down. I walked over to the small black fridge and hesitantly opened the door. I thought, for a brief moment, that maybe I should just drink the tap water that smells and tastes like rust. Thankfully, I came back to my senses and proceeded into the fridge with caution. I began to reach for a Diet Coke when I decided that maybe I should scan the fridge for something, anything else. My eyes gazed slowly at each shelf and then began looking at the shelves on the door. Hmmm....Diet Coke, Diet Barq's Root Beer, and a quarter of a Frappucino that I had saved from approximately 2 months ago, which was probably disgusting by now. As I got to the bottom shelf of the door my heart began to race. I caught a glimpse of something that immediately made my mouth water. At first I thought it was a mirage as I was convinced I was close to dehydration at that point. wasn't. It was something delightful. Something that my taste buds would thoroughly enjoy. It was a........Sunkist Orange! I had bought it last week and had forgotten about it. That NEVER happens. I praised God!

Finding that Sunkist Orange in the fridge made my day yesterday. It wasn't the actual pop that made my day, but the thought behind it. It felt as though God was saying "I know you are having a tough day. I know you are thirsty. I know you could use a boost. That is why I had you buy that drink last week and then erased it from your mind. I knew that pop would mean more to you today."

Thank you Lord for the simple pleasures in life. I know you provide all the big stuff...a house, a car, food on the table, a clean bill of health, but I also know you provide the little blessings, too. Help me to never forget that.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Matthew 6:25-27

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Over the past couple of weeks I have been blessed to take part in the '40 Days of Community' (I like to refer to it as 40 Days of Spiritual Spankings:) with my church. Everyone is reading the same book, sermons are built upon the weeks readings, and 32 small groups are meeting weekly for discussion and fellowship. So far, it has been pretty incredible.

As a diligent reader of the New Testament, I am well aware of how important fellowship (community) is to the Christian walk. Paul speaks of it often throughout his letters to the churches and I have personally experienced both, the power of fellowship and the stumbling of my walk with Christ when I am not in the fellowship that God desires for me. However, over the years it seems that I have forgotten that the words community and fellowship are not just about being with my brothers and sisters in Christ. They're also about being 'out' in our communities and building bridges with non believers. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Jesus commanded us to do the same.

I never intentionally set out to pull myself apart from non believers. I don't think any Christian really does. I did set out to draw near to Christ and allow Him to change my old habits, ways, and patterns, though. Through that change I found myself drawn to other believers who I could learn from. I became very active with my church, got into a small group, and suddenly I found a very comfortable place amongst other believers and a very uncomfortable place among non believers.

If you have ever heard the Bible referred to as 'the Living Word' and you question why; I challenge you to read a chapter one week, go back to it a month or two later, then go back to it a month or two after that. I can almost guarantee that each time you read that chapter, God will show you something you missed, or didn't understand, the last 3 times you read it. It's really quite amazing. That is precisely what has been happening to me. Jesus is taking things that I knew in my head and placing them in my heart.

For the first time in my walk with Christ I truly have a desire to 'seek and save the lost'. Of course, I have always said that I want to see everyone in the Kingdom of Heaven. And I do. I don't wish the fires of hell on anybody. I just haven't been doing much about it. The exception to that is the youth. I really try to reach the youth I work with. Adults, well....I leave them to other people. Simply put- Jesus' Greatest Commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself, has been my least priority.

Change is a long process. It certainly doesn't happen overnight. Look how long it's taken me to really understand a simple commandment. But change is necessary. So, today, I will begin to make the changes needed in my life to become more like Christ. I will pray about bridges that can be built with non believers. I will let Jesus show me where the troubled waters are and I will lay myself down as a path to Him.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom......

Today (Oct. 6th) is my mom's birthday. My dad took her to Minnesota to the Mall of America for her birthday and since they left me home, I haven't seen her yet:) So, since it is her day, I thought it was only appropriate for this blog to be an ode to her.

I have an amazing mom and we have an incredible relationship. A relationship that I always thought was 'normal'. However, as I have grown up I have come to realize that our relationship is abnormal. My mom and I are close. We always have been. We definitely had our share of struggles during the teen years, but nothing out of the ordinary. I have always considered my mom to be one of my closest friends. Someone I could count on and tell (just about:) anything to. As I said, I thought this was pretty normal for moms and daughters. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case.

God had blessed me with wonderful friends throughout the years and one thing my friends have in common (with the exception of one or two) is that most of them don't get along with their moms at all. To tell you the truth...I can't imagine that. I can't imagine not running to my mom when I have good news or bad news. I can't imagine going a complete day without speaking with her at least once. She is the first person I want to share things with and the last person I want to disappoint (other than Jesus, that is:). She is my strongest supporter and my weakest critic. She is the mom that I wish all women had. She is the mom I pray I become.

While I wish that all women were able to experience the beauty of a true mother/daughter bond, I guess, in a very selfish way, I am glad they don't. Because every time I hear one of them complain about their mothers, I am once again reminded of the very special, rare, beautiful bond I share with my mom. It is not something that I take for granted and I praise God for it often.

So....Happy Birthday Mom. Thank you for teaching me how to draw that fragile line between being a mom and a friend. Thank you for always being there for me, allowing all of my friends to call you mom, for the long games of Mario Brothers, the talks, the cry's, the hugs, the laughs, the way you opened your heart and door to those that needed a place to call home, for making me use my manners, for not saying things you really wanted to say, for letting me fall on my butt and make some pretty big mistakes, for not putting up with my 'mouth', for instilling in me how important family is, and most of all.....thank you for being such an incredible role model and giving me something to strive for in my relationships with my own children. You are the best mom and grandma that we could ever hope for and we love you more than you could ever know.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Stream Of Consciousness

I remember back in grade school when the teacher asked us to do a 'Stream of Consciousness'. She said we were to just write about whatever popped into our head at the moment. It didn't have to make sense, it was just to show how our thoughts trailed. So, I thought it might be fun. Here is my stream of consciousness today:

It is beautiful outside. I so wish I didn't have to be at work. I think I would rather be doing anything but stuck in the office today. OK...maybe not anything. I certainly wouldn't rather jump out of an airplane than be working. As a matter of fact, I would rather be doing just about anything other than being in an airplane. That is probably not true either. But..I do loathe airplanes. I think had God really wanted us to fly...he would have given us wings. It would be great to be a bird right now. Just enough breeze to keep you gliding. You probably wouldn't have to flap your wings as much when there is a little breeze. It would have to only be a 'little' breeze though. Birds seem to work really hard when it is windy. It would stink to be a bird when it is stormy and windy outside. I can't imagine trying to fly through a storm. Speaking of storms...I sure miss them. We haven't had one in awhile. As a matter of fact, we haven't had many this year. I guess the storm season is close to being over. It should be getting cold in the next month or so. Not today, though. Today is gorgeous. Oh, look at the dog in the back of that truck. She looks like Maddie. I sure miss Maddie. I am positive she is happier where she is, but I still miss her terribly. What a face she has. I wonder if my folks and Jordan are home yet? OOPS....I was supposed to call my mom back. I'll call her in a bit. What are we having for dinner tonight? I didn't pull anything out...but I'm not really hungry. The kiddo's might be. I'll figure it out when I get home. I cannot wait to get home. Thank goodness it is Friday. Time is going slooow today. Doesn't it always when you are working? The weekend will fly by as usual. What are we doing this weekend? Oh, that's right...leaves. I am sure that my house is the only house in Red Oak that is covered with leaves. It is ridiculous. I can't believe how many leaves are on the lawn. I've got to get those taken care of this weekend.

I was interrupted, so I will end this stream of insanity now! Sad thing is......this is what really goes on in my head most days. Hmmmmm......

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Witnessing Miracles

Yesterday was an amazing day. It started early as approximately 12 students and 4 adults gathered at the high school to pray for the school, students, and the community at the annual "See you at the Pole" event. (If you are unfamiliar with the event, please check it out: What an incredible sight to see students leading the adults in prayer and being bold in their love for Christ. I feel so blessed to have been a part of it. Is there a better way to start the day? I am inclined to think not!

After that kind of start, you wonder what the rest of the day will hold. Surely nothing can top it. Well, maybe something can.......Youth Group! Wednesday night at our church is dedicated to the youth. I attend a radical church that truly believes 'the children are our future'. Our church is used and abused weekly (and sometimes more!) by kids from Kindergarten through their senior year of high school. Our Senior Pastor, David, and his wife, Connie, currently serve as our Youth Pastors, too and are totally committed to seeing that the kids who walk through our doors are given every opportunity to know Jesus Christ. The kids love them (so do I!!!:)

Last night was our 2nd week of Xtreme Faith (high school youth group) this fall. We witnessed some of the teens getting up and talking to their peers about their own relationships with Christ and that alone was incredible. These are teens that, a year ago, weren't even sure where their relationship with Christ was. What an indescribable joy it has been to watch what God has done in the lives of these kids. We even witnessed one teen speak (with the help of Pastor Dave:) who has been sober for 84 days. She has had to make some major life changes to stay sober, including giving up some of her 'good friends', but with Christ by her side...she is doing it. I know there are people who don't believe in miracles, but some of these teens are definitely miracles of God. They are breaking the molds of what the teens of today look like. They are saying 'NO' to drugs, drinking, and pre-marital sex in a world (and school) that is completely consumed with these things. If that is not a miracle then I don't know what is. Still, some of the teens are struggling with their addictions. They are having trouble saying 'No' and they are giving in to peer pressure. However, they are still going to church and they are still confident that Jesus loves them. That may be a miracle, too.

Yesterday was an amazing day. So is every day that I spend with Jesus. There is nothing more amazing than watching Jesus work in the lives of those you know and love. Yesterday, I was a witness to miracles that, in my opinion, in today's world, parallel the parting of the Red Sea. As my eldest daughter would say...."Jesus, You Rock Socks"!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome Home

I cannot even put into words how much I love this time of year. The smell of fall is in the air, the leaves are beginning to change colors, the weather has cooled down, church activities are happening more frequently, youth groups are starting, the kiddo's are bustling with excitement as they begin a new school year, and of course, Homecoming! What would fall be without Homecoming? If you have never lived in a small town, then you can't begin to really know what Homecoming is all about.

Being from California, I had never really experienced Homecoming. Of course, we did the usual Homecoming activities in school. You know.....each class had a different name (Did we really call ourselves the Sophomore Surfers?:), each day had a different theme, and there was a definite excitement during that particular week which caused every other week of school to fail in comparison. Except, maybe, the last week. However, Homecoming (or Spirit Week as it was known in California) was mostly limited to the school. It was for the kids. Then I moved to Red Oak, Iowa.

Today I had a meeting with one of my daughters teachers at the high school (we homeschool, but my girls are dual enrolled). When I arrived there were students everywhere. There were four or five trucks with trailers parked in front of the school, loud music, and kids working diligently trying to finish their floats before the Homecoming parade. As I entered the school I was immediately submersed into a sea of Black and Orange (school colors). School will be dismissed early so every student can attend the Homecoming parade and show their 'Tiger Pride'. Of course, you expect that from the students.

What is amazing, though, is the amount of adults that will take time off from work, laundry, running errands, etc. to attend the parade. Homecoming isn't a 'school' is a community thing. Office workers, store clerks, factory workers, and most everyone will be wearing the Tiger colors and those that can, will be at the parade to show their support. And, as a grand finale, the biggest majority of the town will attend tonights football game where we will listen to the, sometimes off key, marching band and see the Homecoming King and Queen and their royal court smiling and waving to the boys and girls who dream of being in their shoes someday. Even people who no longer live in Red Oak will come back this weekend to reminisce about their own Homecoming days. Which, if I am not mistaken, is really what Homecoming is supposed to be about. Welcoming home Alumni.

When I think of the word Homecoming, I can't help but think of the Homecoming we, as believers will receive when we leave this world and go Home to Heaven. I try to imagine it like it is here on earth.

Jesus, the Homecoming King, standing at the gates smiling and waving. The Royal Court, all our brothers and sisters in Christ, standing behind Him cheering as I approach. Everyone dressed in Royal Purple and White (team colors), showing their 'Heaven Pride' and Angels, the marching band, blowing their trumpets in perfect harmony. As I finally make it to my Savior and look Him in the face for the first time, He wraps His arms around me and whispers in my ear "Welcome Home Alumni". In that moment, my childhood dream comes true, I am Homecoming Queen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Memory Full! More Space Needed!

So I decided that it would be a good idea to start blogging more frequently. I thought it might be good to get my thoughts out of my head on a daily (or at least weekly) basis. I am hoping that if I begin to get some thoughts out of my head, maybe it will improve my memory. I am praying it works much like a computer where I can delete some files and make some room. I sure need it!

You know how people always say when you get older...."the memory is the first to go"? Well, I am starting to believe it. When I was younger I always kind of laughed at that idea. However, as I am approaching 40 I am finding myself forgetting just about everything. I walk into rooms only to discover that I cannot, for the life of me, remember why! I make appts and forget them or I make appts at the same time I already have something else going on. I begin sentences and can't complete them because the thought has 'escaped me'. I know I am beginning to repeat myself because my children, being the sensitive little cherubs they are, can't wait to let me know in their most annoyed voice; "I know mom, you already told me!". My only question is.....

WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? This is only supposed to happen to 'old' people. 40 is NOT old. Of course, when I was in my teens and early 20's, 40 was ancient. However, as I rapidly approach 40...clearly I was dumb in my younger years. 40 is definitely not old.

While I could do without the whole memory problem, I must say that I appreciate growing older. Every day seems to bring new challenges and new lessons. I love where my life is right now and look forward to seeing what God has in store for the future. Life is good, God is great. That, I will never forget:)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Faith Like A Child....Part 2

I decided to make this a two-part blog for several reasons. One, because there was a lot to write about and two, because I needed to really meditate on what God was trying to show me through all of this. There were several different lessons and I didn't want to get focused on one and miss out on what God was really saying. As always, this blog will end up completely different than what I intended to write. That's OK...To God Go The Glory.........
Jordan was scared to have surgery. She was scared of the IV needle, the hospital, and everything that was about to happen to her. As I said in part 1 of this made me feel completely helpless. Truth is...I wasn't completely helpless. I could've told the Dr. that I wasn't comfortable with the surgery and refused to let him do it. However, in the long run, that would've been the worst thing for Jordan. While it would've provided her with instant relief (happiness), it would not have relieved her for the long haul (peace). It wasn't that I could not change her circumstance, I would not. I knew what was best for her in the future.

God is not helpless in our lives, either. He created the universe and everything in it. His voice calms storms and moves mountains. Our daily strife is no mountain to move for God. With one snap of His fingers or flick of His wrist He could banish all of our woes to a far off place. So why doesn't He? I believe it is because He knows that if He did we would be happy (instant relief), but if He doesn't we will find peace (the long haul). He knows what is best for us in the future.

Even though Jordan did not want to have the surgery, she found some comfort in knowing that I was there for her and would not leave her. She had faith in me.....her mother and protector.
When I am struggling with a fear I find comfort in God. I know He is here for me and He won't leave me. I have faith in Father, Protector, and Savior.

And in the end, when Jordan realized that even her mom couldn't stop that dreaded needle, she placed her faith in the One that could. She called on Jesus.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Faith Like A Child....Part 1

My 10 year old daughter, Jordan, had her tonsils and adenoids removed last week. Jordan is the 'baby' of the family and definitely still my baby. It has been quite a traumatic experience for both of us. Jordan, of course, was very scared in the days leading up to the surgery. As her mom I felt so helpless. I knew this surgery was necessary and that once it was over and she was healed, it would improve her health. Knowing that, however, made it no easier when she would turn to me with crocodile tears and tell me she was scared. All I could do was give her a hug and reassure her that I would be with her when she went in and I would be waiting in her room when she woke up. While she seemed to find some comfort in knowing that, her fear of the dreaded IV needle seemed to trump my words of comfort.

Jordan made it through the surgery AND the IV and was released the next day. Before she left the Dr. made it very clear that if she did not have enough liquids she would dehydrate and she would have to go back to the hospital and have the IV put in again. Her eyes got wide and I knew that she would do what she needed to do to make sure she didn't have to have an IV again. I was wrong. Even though she was scared of the needle, she couldn't seem to make herself drink anything. It was 5 days after the surgery and she had become very lathargic and weak. I decided enough was enough and called the Dr. on day 6.

I took Jordan back to the Dr.'s office. Jordan was so scared she was going to have to have another IV that she began to cry in the parking lot of the hospital. Again, I was helpless. I was worried about dehydration and as much as I didn't want to see her have to have an IV, I was also very aware that dehydration could lead to something worse. The nurse came in and checked her vitals and Jordan said, in an almost pleading voice, "I hope I don't have to have an IV again". The nurse turned to her and said "I hope so, too, but you haven't been drinking". I could see the disappointment in Jordan's face as that was not the response she had been hoping for.

When the Dr. came in the room, I explained the situation and he immediately looked in Jordan's mouth. Turns out she has a yeast infection in her mouth which is commonly referred to as Thrush. He explained that this was the reason she was not wanting to eat or drink. He said he was going to prescribe some antibiotics and that she would not need an IV as long as she began to drink. When the Dr. left the room I smiled at Jordan and gave her a hug. I told her I was proud of her and I was happy she didn't have to have an IV again. She looked at me and said "I prayed mommy".

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Jesus, Take The Wheel

I was born and raised in Northern California. If you have never been are missing out. We moved to Iowa 11 years ago today. It never seems like it has been that long..until I go 'home' again. While I absolutely LOVE the beauty of living in Iowa, I had forgotten the beauty of California. I don't think I truly appreciated the wonders that surrounded me when I lived there. The ocean, the mountains, the Golden Gate Bridge, and all of the other beautiful landscapes seemed to get lost (or at least go unnoticed) when you are trying to get somewhere, but only find yourself sitting in traffic on a four lane freeway for an hour.

In June, my dad, my 3 girls, and I drove to California for my son's 8th grade graduation. When we came through the Sierra Mountains in Nevada it was nighttime, so there wasn't much to see. We drove along the winding roads and I strained my eyes to just catch a glimpse of one of the majestic tree's that lined the highway. Strain as I was just too dark to see anything.
I don't particularly enjoy driving on winding highways on mountains. They make me very nervous. Mostly because I don't do it very often. There just aren't many moutainous highways in Iowa. My dad offered to drive, but I had already made up my mind that I was going to do this!!

I found myself being very scared at every turn, not knowing what was around the corner. When is the next turn coming? Is there a big truck that has taken that turn too sharp or not sharp enough? How far down is that drop??? As these thoughts raced through my mind, I found myself becoming less confident in my driving abilities. My dad tried to reassure me that there was more room than I thought and that the turns weren't really as sharp as they seemed. Unfortunately, that wasn't working. Again, he offered to drive. I continued to grip the steering wheel as hard as I could while I brought the van to a crawl at every turn. I am going to do this!! There were semi trucks passing me going up the grade of the mountain (if you've ever drove on a mountain with semi's then you know how slow I must have been going!). I was looking so forward to seeing these mountains and now they had become my worst nightmare. All of those majestic tree's that I would usually stare at in wonder and amazement had become huge shadows that blocked any possible light from shining down on the highway. I found myself asking my dad the same questions I asked when I was a little girl.....'Are we almost there'? 'How much longer'? Can I breathe now?

Driving that mountain reminded me of the mountains in my life when Satan is whispering in my ear......."When is that turn coming"? "How far down is that drop"? and I find myself becoming very scared. I become unsure and unconfident in who I am in Christ. I find myself searching for the light through the tree's and not being able to find it. I believe, in times like that, God is sitting next to me, much like my 'earthly' dad was, reassuring me that the turn is not that sharp, there is more room than I think, and even offering to drive.....if I would just let go of the wheel. Just like I did to my dad, I choose to not hear my Heavenly Father speaking words of comfort......."I can do this!!!!". In those times, just like my dad, God becomes quiet and lets me 'white knuckle' my way down that mountain on my own.

I am sure my dad would've liked to have taken that wheel from me that night. However, he allowed me to exercise my free will and I chose to stay in control. God wants to take our wheels, too. However, He won't. We have to exercise our free will........and let go!

Thank You Father for always offering to take the wheel. Please help me to take my hands off of it. And thank You for giving me an 'earthly' dad who models Your love for me more than I give him credit for.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Lost Socks and Honest Answers

Every so often I get the pleasure of being able to babysit for my nieces and nephew. They are 3 different children with 3 completely different personalities. My oldest niece, Rebecca, is a very responsible, straight A student. Almost an over-achiever. My other niece, Amanda, is the quintessential social butterfly who struggles with school and completing her assigned chores. She would much rather be song writing or singing. My nephew, Ryan, well...he is a boy through and through! He does well in school, but would rather be watching a football game or playing the Playstation.

Amanda has always been one to 'give up' on things if they appear to be too hard. I remember when she was very little and learning to tie her shoes. She would have a breakdown and start crying if she was unable to get the lace looped correctly. This beautiful red headed child would wrinkle her face into a twisted rage and cry while screaming "I CAN'T". I remember her mom being so patient with her and trying to explain to her that she CAN. Needless to say, most of the time, mom would end up tying the shoe for her:)

I was watching the kiddo's a couple of weeks ago when we had a 'sock incident'. Apparently, Rebecca could not find the socks that Amanda needed for her softball game the next day. I watched Amanda look for a few minutes, yell at Rebecca because she 'CAN'T' find them, and climb up to her bunk bed in a huff. Rebecca, the 'responsible' one, tore the family room apart searching for this pair of socks in desperation, so her sister would 'calm down'. Finally, after it was waaaay past their bedtime, I told Rebecca to call off the search. The sock was officially declared M.I.A.

As Rebecca got into bed, I went into their room to say goodnight. I noticed a very familiar look upon Amanda's face. This beautiful, red haired, young lady sat in a huff with the same contorted face she used to have when she would try to tie her shoes. I couldn't help, but smile a little. Now that she is old enough to reason with, I decided to talk with her about her feelings. Now, Amanda is not a talker. She has never been very good at communicating her feelings, so I really didn't expect to get much from her, but I thought I would try anyway. I attempted to soothe her first by telling her that it would be OK if she didn't have the socks for the first game and that I am sure her mom and dad would buy her some socks for next weeks game. Then I asked her "Amanda, why do you allow yourself to get so frustrated when things go wrong?". Her response absolutely floored me......."Because things aren't supposed to go wrong".

I have pondered Amanda's answer for the past couple of weeks. I have thought about my own frustrations and the frustrations of my children, friends, and family and all boils down to 'things aren't supposed to go wrong'. Let's face it, we all make plans for our days, weeks, years, and lives. When those plans don't go according to what we think they should be, we believe things have gone 'wrong'.

God says, in Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Of course we get frustrated when thing 'go wrong' if those 'things' are according to our plans and not God's. When we rely and trust in God and seek His plan instead of our own, things don't 'go wrong'. They may not go how we thought they would or should go, but they don't go 'wrong'. God's way is not our way. God's way is higher than our way (Isaiah 55:9). God is the Creator and Sustainer of our universe. He is never 'wrong'.

Even knowing all of that, there will be a time in my (not so distant) future where I will be sitting in a ball, with my face contorted, upset because things aren't going 'right' (according to my plans). I know God will bring Amanda and her very honest answer to my mind. Then, He will whisper in my ear..."For I know the plans I have for you........."

Thank you God for loving me enough to make plans for me. Please give me the wisdom to wait on your things don't go 'wrong'. In Jesus' name I pray.......Amen!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Gift

Being a single mom isn't always the easiest job. However, I have never found it as hard as what some people may think. The ups and downs seem to be the normal ups and downs that any parent has. Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying there aren't times when I would LOVE to have someone else make a decision, take care of the bills, or take over the disciplining for awhile, but...all in all......I don't feel that single parenting is any more tough than parenting with a partner. Let's face it, raising children is a tough job period! Maybe I feel that way because I have been a single parent for the majority of my child rearing years. Truthfully, I don't know what it's like to have someone else to depend on. In the home, that is. God has generously blessed me with awesome 'support staff' :) I have very faithful, dedicated friends and family who definitely lighten my load. They are always there with encouragement and love. I couldn't do it without them. Then, there is the 'God factor'. Jesus, who is truly the leader of our household. He strengthens me in ways I couldn't begin to explain.

With all of that being said, I don't know what it is about Mother's Day that makes me soooo blue. As a single woman, you would think that Valentine's Day would be the day that would make me squirm. It doesn't. I'm indifferent about Valentine's Day. I can take it or leave it. It just doesn't affect me. I'm fine with Christmas, New Years, Thankgiving, and Easter. However, as Mother's Day approaches I begin to feel it slowly creeping up on me. I begin to dread the day. I don't know why. This is a day dedicated to MOMS. I am a mom. It's not as if my children have gone off to college and I am all alone. My kiddo's are here and they greet me in the morning with the usual "Happy Mother's Day, mom. Sorry we couldn't get you anything." I respond back with the usual "It's OK....I have you and that's all I could ever want." I mean those words. I am so thankful for my children. So....why is it I tend to have an emotional breakdown every Mother's Day?

I have searched for the answer to that question and I have yet to find one. Maybe it's because Mother's Day is a holiday that is focused on family. Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are truly, for me anyway, centered on God. To me, wife and mother seem to go hand in hand and one of those hands are missing. I used to believe that my family was incomplete because I did not have a husband. I have come to realize, to a certain extent, that is not true. However, to a certain extent, that is true. God created man and woman to be together. To be partners, lovers, friends, and companions. While the Bible clearly states that to some, God gives the gift of marriage and to some, God gives the gift of singleness (1 Corinthians), I guess, yesterday, I was longing for the gift I don't have.

Mother's Day has come and gone with the wind, taking with it my longing for more than what the Lord has already given. Today, I am joyful and appreciative of my life and the gift of singleness that God has allowed me to have. It's a gift I appreciate most days of the year. It's a gift that has challenged me and forced me to truly rely on God for everything. I wouldn't exchange this gift for anything in the world. Well, at least not for the next 364 days!! :)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Like Sands Through The Hour Glass

I was on the phone with one of my best friends yesterday. We have known each other since high school, so as you can imagine, we have been through A LOT together. She is one of those people that seems to always have something going on in her life. Sometimes they are good things and sometimes they are bad things, but there is always something. We live 2000 miles apart now and so there are times when we won't be able to talk for a few weeks. Typically, if we go without speaking for a few weeks, she will have lots to fill me in on. Things with her family, her dog, a crisis here and there.....just the stuff that life is made of. However, when it comes to my turn to fill her in.......I'm blank. Our conversation goes a little like this:

K-"So how are things with you? Anything new and exciting?"
me-"No. Just the same old things. No news is good news."

I try to rack my brain to see if there something that I could share with her that she would find even the least bit interesting, but............nothing. I have been at the same job for 6 years. I have been at the same church for about 6 years. I haven't moved (lately:), the kids are doing well, my folks are doing well, yep....nothing. Oh, I guess there are the usual 'drama' episodes with my teenage girls, but she doesn't have children yet and I really don't want to scare her into NEVER having children!

After we got off the phone, it began to bother me a little that I couldn't seem to share anything with her. My life has become very routine. Well, as routine as it can be for having a house full of teenagers. That began to bother me, too.

Today I realized something. My life is routine, but I am OK with that. As a matter of fact....I LOVE it! Granted, it doesn't leave me a lot to share with my friends, but when it comes to 'sharing', I have always been a better listener anyway.

Our days are not filled with excitement. God doesn't have us moving anywhere (physically, that is:). We aren't financially able to travel, so we spend a lot of time at home and a lot of time with each other. There are daily things that happen that bring me great joy; like seeing my youngest daughter sitting in our sunroom reading her 'Nature Reader' as she desperately tries to find out which kind of wasp is dwelling outside of our home or watching my 3 daughters jumping into leaf piles and giggling. Talking to my son on the phone and hearing his voice change from a little boy into a young man.

Those moments are not anything I could put into words. Those moments are the days of our lives and I wouldn't change them or trade them for anything.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Time to Mourn........

I began to write this blog after the horrific massacre at Virginia Tech last week. As I watched the images pour in of these young people who's lives had been cut short by a very troubled peer, I couldn't help but think of the book of Ecclesiastes. The words "a time to mourn" continued to flood my mind and as they did I struggled to remember the whole verse. I went to God's Word and began to read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. As I read the verses I noticed a distinct pattern. For every action there is an opposite reaction. There is 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. You get the picture. As I read verse 4 I noticed something that caused me to pause and think. As a matter of fact....I thought so much and my brain was so full that I couldn't continue this blog.

When I reached verse 4 I read "A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to........DANCE"? Dance? Happy I could understand. What would be the opposite of mourn? Well, in my mind it would be 'happy'. Why would God have wrote 'dance'?

As I said above, I began writing this blog last week. April 19th to be exact. I meditated on verse 4 for most of the day and night. Absolutely in awe of God. Then it struck me. God wrote 'dance' instead of 'happy' because to truly need to be filled with joy. Ah...He is very clever. On April 20th my mom, my aunt, and two of my very good friends left town to attend the Women of Faith conference in Des Moines, Iowa.

The theme of the Women of Faith conference was 'Amazing Freedom'. I knew it was going to be always is. However, I knew that this time.......God had something to say to me and I was excited to spend some time focused completely on Him. I was anxious to find out what He wanted me to know. He had been drawing me very near over the last few weeks.

Friday, April 20th, 12,000 women filed into the Wells Fargo Arena. The first speaker was a lively little lady named Patsy Clairmont. Let me tell you something, if you have never seen Patsy are missing out. She knows how to make you laugh and she knows how to make you cry! She has a contagious spirit that could only come from her Creator. I was totally engaged in her story when she began to talk about 'dancing'. My ears perked up. Did she really say 'dancing'? She began to quote Ecclesiastes 3:4 and I sat in silent amazement as she talked about dancing with your legs, your mind, and your heart. She spoke about the freedom that comes when you can dance with joy in spite of the circumstances around you. I praised God for elaborating on the answer He had already given me, in such a way that I couldn't miss His point! Patsy ended her time with us by quoting part of the song "I hope you dance". She inspired us to dance when given the choice and reminded us......we always have a choice.

The family and friends of those who were killed at Virginia Tech are mourning right now. I pray that they will be able to dance very soon and when they do.......... I pray that they will experience the freedom that goes along with it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Life's Defining Moments

I was reading the Omaha World Herald today and stumbled upon an article entitled “Artist captures life’s defining moments”. It was an article about an artist who is sketching portraits of people with diseases such as AIDS and ALS (aka: Lou Gehrigs disease). After reading a portion of the article I found myself fixated on the headline. Especially the words…’life’s defining moments’. I began to wonder….what are life’s defining moments? Finding out that your body is riddled with disease would definitely be a defining moment in your life, but there are others such as your wedding day, a birth of a baby, and the death of a loved one. All of those are ‘defining moments’.

As I pondered this thought I couldn’t help but think of my life. What are the defining moments in my life? Better yet, how have they ‘defined’ me and what does that really mean? I looked up the word defining in the dictionary and there were several answers. However, there was one answer that really stood out.

Defining: to make clear the outline or form of

Defining moments ‘shape’ our lives. They make clear the outline or form of our lives. They have the ability to change us for the better and they have the ability to change us for the worse.

There have been several ‘defining moments’ in my life, but the defining moment in my life was falling in love with Jesus. That moment truly formed and outlined my life…and it continues to shape me daily. Loving and following Christ has taught me that while there are always moments in our lives that have the ability to shape us, we can choose how we will allow them to shape us.

Every day that I choose to follow Christ, I allow Him to shape me to look more like Him. Every day I choose not to follow Christ, I allow the moments of the day to shape me. We are being shaped daily by someone or something. Whether it is friends, family, or circumstances we are being shaped daily. It’s up to us to decide who or what we will allow to shape us. Today….I will choose Christ. I pray that I will always wake up and make that decision….no matter what ‘defining moment’ is taking place in my life.