"I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write." ~St. Augustine

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Journey of a Control Freak

I am such a control freak. Seriously, though. I am.

Most of the time I am sly in my controlling behaviors. Once in a while I am an out-and-out, in your face, control freak.

Yesterday, the out-and-out control freak girl reared her ugly head! Yesterday I was determined to control our departure date and all the details that surround it. In this pursuit, I was instantly angry with anyone who got "in my way". Of course, the most natural "someone" in this circumstance is my husband and I was angry at him.

The whole day I felt the tug of conviction.
From my good, kind Heavenly Father, I felt the pull of "come, sit with me..." and yet... I basically ignored it.

I planned. I schemed. I researched. I plotted. ...This scenario and that scenario.

This was all done in the guise (or is there a bit of pure motive here?) of making all things work together for the good of those I love. Oh, but my heart was in control! I was going to figure it out. I was going to come up with the best plan possible.

And then, my husband crossed me. How dare he disagree with my grand, divine and perfect plans?! He dared to ask me if he could have a bit of a "say" in our decisions. How dare him! And, so I got angry. A knee jerk, internal, intense angry. At that point I wasn't really aware of what was going on in my heart. I wasn't aware that I was holding tightly. I wasn't aware that I was determined to control our destiny. I just simply thought he was wrong.

Then came the still small voice whispering into my heart, my soul, my mind... "surrender", it said. "Submit", it hearkened. "Stop. Be still and know that I am God".

I heard it, finally. I had to stop. I had to listen to this sweet call from my Father. I actually bowed my head and told Him He was God and that He was in control, not me. I opened my hands, literally, and "gave" to Him all my plans, all my dates, my schemes and my good things.

Instantly I knew His peace again.

I knew He was good... somewhere deep, far and wide in my soul I knew that He was big. I knew He was loving and that He would work all things together for my good, one whom He loves dearly. I found peace once again. Release. Faith. Hope. Peace.

And, then, of course, came sincere repentance and an apology to my husband. As always, he forgave me. Amazing, really. Quick, ready and love-filled forgiveness. Truly, amazing.

Ah! Father, this control freak has so much to learn. Teach me. Thank you for being in control and having all the answers. Thank you that I can hand it all to you. You have good plans and I can trust You. Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Escape Route

Sometimes I just feel like escaping.

I used to describe this feeling as wanting to "get into bed, pull the covers over my head and go to sleep for a very long time". I also use to describe this feeling as "getting on a bus and going to Chicago". (I truly have no idea why Chicago... but, Chicago it was!)

Now, I just call it what it is...escape. I want to run away. Run away from exhaustion. Run away from responsibilities. Run away from expectations and cares. I simply want to escape.

The feeling can creep up on me after a long, tiring day. Or the feeling can be "hanging around a lot lately" and become a bit of a new norm, depending on what I am facing. I have felt it creeping up these last few days. The feeling is here and now, the only real and important question that remains is to where do I escape!

My escape routes have varied through my life... some more damaging than others, to be sure! These days they are quite benign. Benign, that is, from an outside look.

I run to my husband. I run to cleaning and organizing craziness. I run to the television, a movie or a book. I run to a game on the computer. I run to the candy box or the Doritos bag.

But, these escapes are damaging my soul. I feel it. Of course, these places of escape are not sin in-and-of-themselves. Certainly my marriage, my television and the Doritos bag are not sin! It is when my heart worships them by escaping to them first, that they quickly become my sin of choice. They are my idols. From them I am seeking comfort, rest, and solace. To them I escape.

I know from experience that when I truly seek Him first, seek His kingdom and face first, seek His Presence and voice first...then and only then do I find true comfort, rest, and solace. I know from experience that He is truly the "one needful thing" (Luke 10).

So, why do I run to the others so quickly? Is it because they are easier? Is it because they "taste good" and are numbing? Is it because they are more natural to me, or trained in me? I don't know.

All I know is that the more I escape into the other things first, the more natural it becomes. It feels like "a must" to turn on a movie or go to the candy box... because recently that has been my first choice. I train myself to run to other things.

What I do know is that I want to learn to run to Him first.

I want to learn to sit at His feet and "choose the better" thing, as Mary did. He says to Martha that "this" sitting at His feet would not be taken from her. I want real comfort, real rest and real solace that will not be taken away... living water, lasting bread and wisdom from heaven. I know I can find this in seeking Him alone, ...first.

Teach me Holy Spirit to seek You first. Make me keenly aware when I am escaping to anything before I have escaped into You, my rock, my refuge, my strong tower.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Miriam's Stuff

Apparently she had a tambourine (Ex.15). She had pots and pans. She had a hand mill and a mortar for the manna (Num.11). She had shoes, tents, and bedding. She must have washed her self with something, her pans with something and maybe she had a broom to sweep the floor of the tent? We can assume she combed her hair. She had stuff. Granted she didn't have as much stuff as I have! But, she did have stuff.

I can't look at Numbers 10 and not wonder what this was like for Miriam and the other Israelite women as the journeyed through the desert for 40 years. Numbers 10 tells us that at the Lord's command the pillar of cloud and fire lifted and they "set out". It tells us that the pillar, God's direction, could stay put for a day, a month or a year... they just did not know. God knew. It was at His command. But day-to-day they did not know. At His command, the pillar would rise and they would set out.

What was this like for the ladies. Can you just hear it... "Oh, dear, the pillar is moving... gather up the bedding, gather up the pots and pans. Our combs will fit in the pans... let's see the mortar can be wrapped in the blankets...". Can you just imagine the chaos? Can you just hear the hustle and bustle. The... now, where is my comb? Aaron where did you put your outer garment? Where should I put my mill?

We think that we see the movement of our "pillar", we think that the cloud is beginning to move and we will be setting out very soon. Like Miriam, I have stuff. Maybe too much stuff. I begin to think... okay, how do we get all this stuff there? What do I do with all our books? Do I take all of them? What do I store here, what do I take with? Combs, brushes, makeup, earrings, clothes, socks, undies, jacket, sweater, long underwear ... oh, and how many Ranch dressing packets do I take? Do I take the muffin pans? What about homeschooling stuff? Will we ship them? Will we take them as luggage on the airplane? Okay, and the kids stuff... oh, my, the toys! Can we take the microscope he got for his birthday? Will it break?
The stuffed animals... Do we take them all? What bags do we use... do we box it all? We have collected so much since we "encamped" in California these last few months...

Hustle and bustle. Questions and noise.

I am sure that the hustle and bustle of it all may have been at times (maybe each time?) frustrating for the Israelites. The certainly were not immune to complaining and grumbling! Did Miriam feel rushed and harried by it all? To be sure, to live in such a manner for 40 years was not convenient or easy. Did they learn to rest in the knowledge that He was leading them...

Scripture tells me that I can do all things with Christ's peace as a reigning force, a protection and a stabilizing reality. The Prince of Peace can walk with me in this. He is with me... even more real than a pillar of cloud. His Presence is within me. His peace can guard my heart and my mind. Remind me of this, Lord. The movement of the cloud is bringing noise to my soul. May I walk in your peace as we begin to set out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Little much afraid

For so long I have asked the Lord to "wait well". I am not a patient person by nature. Part of God's school for me these last few months has been lessons in patience and waiting, through His strength. The journey has been up and down... one of faithful, soul-expanding steps forward, doubt-filled moments and even some good ol' pity parties.

Now, we are moving ahead again, actually able to start planning for a real departure and I am experiencing new ups and downs. Excitement. Up. Fear. Down. Worry. Down. Anticipation. Up. Relief. Up. Exhaustion. Down. Up and down. I am so thankful that I serve, follow and am loved by a stable, rock, steadfast God!

I realized yesterday that when I look ahead at our future and am aware of my heart, I am afraid. I fear the unknown. I fear being uncomfortable and new. I am afraid of new relationships and the hiccups that come with new relationships. I am afraid of failure. I am afraid of unhappiness. I am afraid of the unknown and the known. These are not new fears. I have moved overseas a few times now, have made new friends a bazillion times, and have started with new job roles and new teams. You would think I was used to it all. I am not. I am much afraid. But fear never has to have the last word. True love casts out all fear.

Do not fear, He whispers.
I know, He says.
I am with you, He says. I've been uncomfortable, unhappy and "new", as well. I know you and I know what is ahead. Do not fear, I am with you.

His kind, whispers are good for my soul. He whispers and I remember. I remember Him. I remember all He has done before... all He has given me. The fear is softened. The "much" fear is lessened, even extinguished, with the knowledge of Him, His presence, His strength.

I believe, Lord, help me with my unbelief. May I walk in your true love, may I walk in Your strength alone. May I know your presence.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Answers

We got it. After four months of waiting, we got it! Amazing. Our company has received permission to invite us and we should be only 4 weeks away from a visa in hand. I cried when I heard the news. It was like a cloud burst of emotion. Unstoppable joy. Relief. Release.
He answers prayer. I knew He would. He has been growing this hope in me these last few years. I knew He would answer. How and when were the only remaining things to be seen. I knew He would answer. He always does.
The truth is He has been answering my prayers all along. He answered when I asked Him to be my rock of stability in the uncertainty. He was my rock. He answered when I wasn’t sleeping well and asked to sleep. He didn't give me sleep, but He taught me more about prayer. He taught me to rely on Him the next day when I was exhausted. He answered when I asked Him to be Present and to be my strength. He has been very present, even if unfelt at times, very present. He has been my strength. Did He answer more today than He has these past four months? Nope, I don't think so. He has always been answering. He just chose to answer "yes" and "now", today.
I asked Him this morning for a miracle. I asked Him to answer today. I asked Him to release the visas and He did it. (No, it isn't the first time I have asked) The crazy truth is that He did it before I ever asked. The permission had been given before I asked this morning. But, He tells me to ask. He heard my prayers and He responded. I don't get it! But, I love it.
>My kids ask me for gum almost 4 times a day. I don't give it to them every time they ask, but I fully intend to give it to them at some point. They know I will answer. They know I will say "no" sometimes and "yes" other times. And, they keep asking. They are learning to trust my answers to them. They are beginning to get that my "no" and my "yes" are not random. I say "no" when it is morning time before we have even had lunch. I say "no" directly after they have just finished the last piece. Sometimes, I say "no" just so their little bodies don't get a mini-addiction, so they "have" to have it after every meal (like my morning coffee). My "no" and my "yes" are not random and my cuties are beginning to trust that. Me, too, Lord.
The verse I read this morning as I cried out to Him telling Him how "done" I was and asking Him for a miracle, was in Psalm 145. It says that the Lord is near to all who call... to all who call on Him in truth. I was struck by the need to be honest and real with my Father. So, I told Him all I was feeling. He listened. He answered. His answer was not only in the permission later this morning. He answered in that moment this morning. He answered with Himself. I am beginning to trust.
I am certain I will be in "this place" of asking for miracles many more times in the future. Lord, teach me to know you are a God who answers. Lord, teach me to look for Your answers... all of them. May I look for your "no", may I look for your provisions, Your Presence and Your strength.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Amnesia

I was just struck today by what a complainer I am. I don't naturally complain much out loud (not that I can't do this too!), but I complain a lot in my heart.

I complain in my heart when the shower doesn't work quite right or when my kids left their towels on the floor "again"! I complain in my heart when I splash bleach on a pair of my favorite pants and when I just don't feel like schooling my kids today... my heart is complaining. I complain when my husband makes plans with a friend that are just a bit inconvenient for me and when my feet hurt from standing on them all day.

It brings to mind the sounds of a whining child who wants "just one more piece of candy", when he just finished a handful a few minutes ago. I look at this child and think "Really?? Are you not thankful for all you just had? Isn't' it enough!" Hmmm....

The problem really is the balance between the reality of life's little (or big) frustrations and a complaining heart.

Where does one end and the other begin? Where is the balance?

It is okay, of course, to be frustrated when I splash the bleach on my pants... but how much frustration, for how long and how many times do I need to notice it and say "dang!". I don't know.

What I do know is that generally I don't live the balance and I so want to. I want to live in and with a thankful heart. When I allow my frustration to overtake the worship or thankfulness, is that the line?

My friend refers often to a fond phrase, "spiritual amnesia". We just forget. We forget who God is, who we are and we forget what is important. We knew it this morning as we sat in His word and then we just forget. This is what I am processing as I ponder my complaining heart.

What would it be like if I so deeply trusted the Lord, so truly worshipped Him alone, and was living in thankfulness? Would the bleach spot have any affect on me?

I painted a black dot on my thumbs today in the attempt to use it as a physical reminder of worship and thankfulness. I wanted to notice it and whisper to the Lord, "I love you!", "I trust you", or "Thank you, Lord". It worked for half the day... and then I forgot. Did I see it and forget or did I just not see it?

I am not advocating law here... there is much, much grace from our faithful, kind Father in this learning curve to be sure! I am just wanting more. I want to live..."Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Always, continually and in all circumstances... I want to remember. I want to not live in a state of amnesia.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Much has been given

Today I had the privilege to attend my little brother's graduation from USC. What a joy! There were many different speakers and many words spoken. One word, though, stuck with me and affected my behavior even this evening. The Valedictorian spoke of the responsibility we have to our Creator (he called it Providence) to use the gifts we have been given to help others. It was such a simple message; and yet, it was delivered eloquently and with passionate exhortation. He reminded the students that their hard work, their intellect and the opportunities they now had did not afford them pride in their success, but instead required humility, gratitude and generosity. You have no right to claim these gifts as from you; but, instead given to you to be used for the good of others. He quoted the passage in Scripture that says, "To whom much has been given, much will be required". Now, even though his use of this passage was a slightly out of context, it was powerful none-the-less.
The phrase "blessed to be a blessing" swims around in my head as I sit here thinking about the point he was making. I have been blessed beyond blessed. I have been blessed with wealth, a keen mind, a tender heart, a healthy body, a happy marriage, two amazing kids, a large number of people who love me, and the growing knowledge of my Father, the Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth. The blessings are innumerable.
I can be so very selfish. I can hold too tightly to my money (how ironic given that we are living on the support of so many open handed people!). I can hold too tightly to my time, my comfort and my sleep! I naturally give when it is easy, but stumble to bless others if it hurts or is inconvenient. Oh, I have much to learn! These blessings, these gifts, they are not mine. I am not my own. I have been bought with the blood of my precious Saviour.
As I walked out of the grocery store this evening with a cart full of food that I could afford to buy, I was reminded of this morning's striking speech. The thought was clear. You have been given much! I passed the kind, gentle man who sat there collecting money for homeless ministry and it was a natural desire to give back. As I walked up to him and asked him how his evening was going, he said (as a bit of God's word to my heart), "I am blessed!".
I am blessed. I have been given much and much is required of me.
Lord, give me eyes to see how I can be a blessing to others. Give me a generous heart and open hands.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

War, Famine, Poverty and a Breaking Marriage

There are so many tragic things going on in the world. Wars. Famine. Poverty. But, it isn't the war in Pakistan or even the friend that is being persecuted in Asia that is on my heart this morning. My 'tragic thing' is the friend whose marriage is breaking up. I am deeply saddened by this news. It isn't just the breaking of a marriage that is tragic. It is the hardness of heart, the months of misery, the hundreds of harsh words and the unforgiveness that leads to such a break that feels heavy on my heart.

Marriages don't just break up one night. Marriages don't go from bliss to hell in one day. I know. I am married. I know that it takes a daily commitment to kindness, forgiveness and grace. I know that I have to watch my words. I know how mean I can be. I know how often I must hold my tongue and how equally often I need to apologize when I don't. I know I need to extend mercy and grace when he doesn't. I know that I need enjoy, celebrate, allow or even laugh at the differences between us. He never thinks of time. I always am thinking in time categories. When he doesn't put the coffee on... and he had promised to... I must remember, purposely, that it isn't because he doesn't love me. He just forgot. Grace. Mercy and Forgiveness. Daily.


I also keenly know those moments when we are arguing and I am thinking, seriously, "This is horrid!". When I know I am absolutely right and he is absolutely wrong. Those are moments when I have to ask God for a humility that is just not in me naturally. Those moments take much more than a cursory extension of grace. There are times when I have to cry out to my Lord, my strong and able Saviour, to ask for His love, His grace and His forgiveness. I need to be filled by His Spirit. I know these moments, too.


I have a fabulous marriage. I count myself as very blessed. I enjoy my husband and love him deeply. He is my best friend. He is my soul mate. But, we simply couldn't do this "marriage thing" without God's help. That is for sure! I know, without a doubt, that my daily times with Jesus are good for my soul, yes!; but, very good for my marriage as well!

When did they stop asking God for help? When did this couple stop bowing their knee in surrender? When did they stop submitting to their Lord and their spouse? When was the first time they forgot to apologize? What did they choose not to forgive? What were the words they chose to say in order to hurt? When did they simply choose to be right and not extend mercy? When did they decide that their spouse was supposed to bring all their happiness and contentment?


A broken marriage is a war. It is a famine. It is poverty. It is brokenness in such a sad and devastating way. And, just as war and famine are, it is unnecessary.
Oh, Lord, What would it take to bring healing? What needs to be forgiven? What does Your grace need to cover?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Purple Alien

Leaving church this morning, my daughter said to me, "I am tired of being "the overseas worker" [different because of what we do for a living]. I instantly understood her comment and gave a hearty, "Yes, me too!" This morning in church she was, again, singled out and questioned about her experiences. Tell us about your average day in Turkey, Becka... they asked. She began to tell them about her crazy overseas life... you know, crazy stuff like "well, I get up in the morning and eat breakfast"... "then I go to school" and afterward "I play with my friends". They then pointed out to the other children how wonderful she is and what a special little girl she was. Ugh... she felt. Ugh... she thought. And, thus the statement as we left church this morning.
Our family laughed almost our whole ride home as Dave repeated the events of the morning with an awe-inspired, hollywood voice, over exaggerating teacher's response for comic relief: ..."Ooooo...Oh... wow... you eat breakfast!" and "school, ...Ahh... what an experience" and "Ooo.. Amazing! You play with friends". We all laughed and decided that, whether we like it or not, our calling has indeed made us aliens. Purple aliens, we all decided. My son poignantly commented that we (Dave and I) have chosen to be purple, but that they had had no choice. We agreed. They haven't chosen to be purple. We (God really) have chosen this for them. Having the experiences they have had, living the places they have, being in relationship with the people they have... they will always be purple. "Purple" is simply the color they are. There are places we go where their "purple-ness" is more noticed. There are other places where people have become accustomed to their color. They still prefer to not stick out,of course. A very human response... not very alien-like!
So, as the questions, the awe, and the "pointing out" is to be their lot in life, we talked about the fact that they need to interpret this as love. It is love, in fact, from this truly wonderful Body of Christ that has cared so genuinely and tangibly for us. It is love. So, they need to translate. Just as we had to translate Turkish into an English word in our heads, we need to trust that this "language" of question asking is one of love. The reason that the only question most people know how to ask me is, "Any news on your visas? and When do you leave?" is because they love me.
My sweet girl just wants to be an average little girl. And, she is. She just gets up in the morning, eats breakfast and plays with her friends. But, she also is a tint of purple and can't get away from it. Me, too.

I am an alien

My family and I just spent an hour walking the pier in Huntington Beach and I am exhausted. The tiredness isn't a physical one... but an emotional one. I am spiritually tired from one hour on Main Street. Why? What is it that makes me so exhausted in this setting?

I felt like an alien.

I felt totally out of place and tired after on hour.

Is it the noise? ...Noise for the ears and for the eyes. Is it the barrage of sights? Maybe it is because most of the sights, in fact, bring sadness to my soul as I look on. I am not sure.


I sit here now in my quiet living room and am reminded of something that Beth Moore said in a lesson this week... "We are not a culture very good at moderation". Is this what I was seeing?

It isn't just a person with one tattoo... he has covered his body with them. It isn't just a set of earrings or one piercing...she has covered her body. It isn't just a fit and healthy person,... it is someone who has obviously spent hours upon hours at the gym. Not just one place to buy shoes or shirts or sunglasses... but 20 different shops all with piles of new things to buy. It isn't just a pair of shorts to help with the heat, but shorts so short that we have an unwanted "show" as she walks in front of us. It isn't just a scoop of ice cream, but a mound of ice cream covered with syrups and sprinkles. It isn't just hand holding to show admiration and love, but full-on make out sessions for all to see. This is the barrage of sights that made me exhausted, I think.

What planet am I on? Who are these people and what is life like for them? I feel like an alien here. Truly. I am an alien and stranger. Am I totally alone in this feeling, I wonder. It isn't that I think tattoos, ice cream and shorts are wrong. Truly, I don't. But the excess is noise to my soul and I am tired.

Not that I am very good at moderation either. My excesses are just more easily hidden. I struggle with that "one" thought that I can't stop obsessing on... I struggle to stop at that handful of chips on my plate. Do I really need more? I struggle to enjoy that one handful of candy after dinner and find myself indulging. It is just gluttony. Do I really need one more pair of jeans? Do I really need to spend more time doing this or that... I could stop. Do I really need to plan (again) our schedule for tomorrow. Ahh... I need to learn to say, "that is enough for now".

Balance and Moderation. All to the glory of God. He says eat, drink and whatever you do can be done to His glory. I suppose if I grew in the area of moderation and balance, the sights and sounds of Huntington would be even more overwhelming. I guess when asking God to help me grow in this area, I am asking to become even more strange and alien-like. Am I okay with this?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Awareness

I had a dear friend and teammate while living in Istanbul, Turkey. She loved the music of a bird's songs. She could hear a bird call and she usually could make a good guess at what kind of bird was singing. She knew the robin's song! Imagine. She would say, with intense excitement, "Stop. Listen!!... that is a blue bird".

Without fail she would then stop whatever she was doing to look out a window, down an alley or in a nearby tree to search and find the vocalist.

I was always astonished when she would stop me to listen with her. I didn't get it. Not only could I not imagine learning a particular bird song, but I just simply don't naturally hear the birds around me at all.

Well... at least I didn't used to. Now I do. I am sitting here to write my blog and instead of writing what I sat down to write... I am struck by the melody of song outside my window. It is beautiful. It is sweet.

Isn't it interesting how we affect each other?!

We, as humans, have such a deep impact on each other. We can be totally unaware of our impact, for good or for bad. Yet, the impact is significant.

This friend had no idea the influence she was having on my soul when she turned my ears to the birds and my eyes to the sunset or the nearby flowers. This is a gift she gave to me by just being herself. She wasn't ever pointing it out for my benefit. She was just fully engaging in the world. She was simply living her life for me to witness.

She once told me that she had purposely learned the song of the robin in an attempt to train her ear to the voice of God.

Isn't that what I have received from her! It is as if she gave me a gift of awareness. By simply being with her, I learned from this friend that even my natural tendencies can be altered.

Once I was blind to the beauty of creation and now I see! Now I can't help but notice the song of birds, the color of flowers and the site of a stunning sunset. This encourages me to pursue and persevere in learning God's still small voice.

As I sit here and listen to the song of the birds a beautiful phrase is swimming in my mind, "Be still and know that I am God".

Again, there it is... be still. Sit still, Stephanie. This friend had to say "Stop. Look. Listen" in order for me to see or hear that which she was sharing with me. I need to stop and be still more often. A stillness in my soul needs to develop in order to hear and see He who is always speaking.

Oh Lord, would you give me awareness. Lord, give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a stillness of soul to listen.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No Worries

Today has plenty of worries, Scripture says, so "don't worry about tomorrow!". Jesus tells me that He knows what I need to wear, eat and where I need to live. He says when I run around after these things that I am acting like a pagan. Essentially I am acting like someone who doesn't know God.
If I worry about tomorrow, running after the "what ifs" or the "who knows" questions that relate to my future, I am acting like an abandoned son, an orphan. But, I am not an orphan! According to God's word and His truth, I am a dearly loved one. I am an adopted, chosen, well-looked-after daughter of the Most High King.
So, don't act like the pagans, Stephanie. Don't worry after what you will eat or drink like they do. They don't know their Father loves them, He says! But you are different. You know, Stephanie. Walk in what you know! For, I know the plans I have for you, He says! I am the King, after all! And, I own everything.
You can just simply seek Me first, the One needed thing. Then seek the good of My Kingdom and all else will fall into place in My due time. Today has enough to do, to think about and to find strength for. Stop worrying about tomorrow!
Lord, teach me to walk in faith. Teach me to live as one loved. Teach me to trust you entirely with my tomorrows...

Tears for School

I home school my kiddos and I love it.

Each morning we spend the first few hours working through the Geography, Math, Spelling, Grammar and Reading curriculum. After that is all finished we then get to the "fun" stuff (as my kids call it)... Science, Art and History. I think, in part, they like this time because we snuggle up on the couch to read and discuss these subjects. Any excuse to snuggle in our family!

Yesterday, I cried through our history lesson, hardly able to finish reading. It came up again at dinner tonight.

The subject of yesterday's lesson was the Holocaust. Even as I type the word, tears well in my eyes. We are learning about World War II and of course, we must learn about Hitler and the Holocaust. How do you teach your 10 and 7 year old about the atrocities, the evil, the horrible things that happened?

...well, unplanned, I taught them through tears. Barely able to finish the history book which described (very mildly and for young ears) the events of the Holocaust, I just cried and cried. My kids snuggled in deeper during those moments. Mommy is just so sad... I said. It was just so evil, so wrong, so very sad... I said, through tears. They just sat quietly, intuitively knowing Mommy needed a moment to regather.

It came up again tonight at the dinner table. The thoughts of what happened were deeply bothering Becka and she was upset still to even contemplate such things. I agree. How does a 10 year old understand? How does a 36 year old understand? Do you understand?

As we talked, and I silently prayed, a very "light" thought came and brought peace to my soul almost instantly. The thought was "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego". They were thrown into a fiery furnace and Jesus went with them. What a thought! This isn't just a Sunday school story. The story we find in Daniel is a story of young boys being persecuted because of their faith.

All at once the concept of Presence became very clear. The idea that God is everywhere became like a rock in the midst of a storm. Scripture teaches that "even darkness is as light to Him". The fact that He hates evil and judges sin is also taught in His word; and, this is good to know when the justice in us cries out "It isn't right!".

But, it is His Presence that grabbed my heart at the dinner table tonight. He is present always. He was present with the teenage boys in Babylon thrown into a heated furnace and then He saved them. AND, He was present with Stephen in the New Testament when he was being stoned to death and then chose not to save him... but He, God Almighty, was present. He was there. And, it says, Stephen's face shone like an angel. Stephen knew the Presence.

I think that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had a glimpse of this light too when they said, "If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."

God walked with them in the fire. He didn't just pluck them out or protect them. He himself got into the fire and walked with them.

The tears will still flow easily when thinking about such atrocities and wrongs done... and yet, the Presence of God allows for light to flow with the tears. It seems to make the "darkness as light" somewhere deep in my soul.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Just sit still

Each morning I have an invited, and very welcome, interruption to my quiet time with the Lord... my sweet kids. Directly after they wake up and before they start their quiet reading time, they come find me in my chair to sit on my lap and snuggle for a moment. I get a special "one-on-one" moment with each one on my lap. It is truly one of my favorite parts of my day! I love it so much that there have been mornings that I have been distracted away from time with my Jesus because I am anticipating this sweet moment.

This morning as I sat in my chair my heart warmed thinking about them scurrying in to find me. My reading this morning was from Psalms 131,
"I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me". Oh, Lord, my good Father, I thought... this is what you have for me! I can sit "on your lap" and be still and quiet. This is the relationship I can have with God. He invites me to come and sit. He invites me to security. He invites me to quiet moment with Him. ...and He anticipates it! Amazing.

As I read the Psalm, I thought for certain that God was going to reinforce this beautiful concept to me and show me tangibly through my children. Instead, He had a different thing to show me this morning...
My son was the first to come in this morning and instead of his normal quick climb up on my lap, he just didn't seem content by the way I was sitting (put your legs this way, Mommy) or the way he was sitting (I am not comfortable, Mommy). He was discontent with how my lap felt this morning. After he was finally situated on to my lap, he didn't stay still very long at all. He began to be distracted by the way the recliner handle worked, by the plans for the day and by what we were going to have for breakfast. He just wouldn't sit still. I hugged him tight and I quietly whispered to him, "Just sit still for a moment". He hardly heard me. And I had thought for sure God wanted me to learn about stillness from my sweet weaned boy! But, lo, I realized... this is the lesson!

...Oh, Lord, I do this to you. I wiggle and squirm in the place You have for me. Oh, Father, how I squirm! I complain about "the way" you sit, or I sit... I am not comfortable, Lord, I say. I finally may come to sit on your lap, and I am distracted by the setting, the plans for the day, or my daily bread! This is me.
Looking back at the Psalm, I am struck by the choice the psalmist is making,
"I have stilled and quieted my soul". It is an option. It is an action. My son could have just choosen to sit and quiet his soul in my arms for a few minutes. Most mornings he does. This morning he missed it. And as a result I missed the moment... and I felt sad.
Does it make you sad, Father, when you whisper into my soul, "Just sit still" and I don't...

Today I intend to choose to quiet my soul. I will choose to still my soul and rest in your arms. May it be so.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I am deleting my blog

I told Cara, my dear sister-in-law that I was going to delete this blog. I wasn't joking. She was so kind and encouraging... I told my husband that I was going to delete this blog and he, too, was encouraging me to keep it going. In actuality it is a moot point to even consider deleting something that no one is reading. :) And, I am not looking for a broader audience. I started it on a whim after reading Cara's blog and didn't really expect it to be read. I have continued it these few days in order to process and get my thoughts out. In fact, about two weeks ago, I realized that I was feeling like I was going to "burst" with things to say... and I haven't had an outlet to say them. So, I started to blog.
But, early on (right after my first entry) I realized how very vulnerable I felt the minute my thoughts were "out" there for all to see. It is an odd feeling really.
I feel like my thoughts, my life, my faith journey is one of such ups and downs. Each day I could sit down and write a blog saying, "I have failed" and at another time sit and say, "Ah, the victory of faith..." and both would be true and both would describe my life. The thought of posting those ups and downs for all to see makes me feel exposed, naked and vulnerable. I am certain this goes along nicely with my difficulty in asking for help or in "appearing" weak. For if I were to share the honesty of the ups and downs, there would be much evidence for the fact that I am a very broken vessel. So, even as I write that last sentence, I think, "Yep, I am definitely deleting this blog!"... I think I might delete it. And, yet, I sit here and still write. And I will likely hit "publish post". Okay the even funnier thing is that I am so technically illiterate, I am not even sure how to go about deleting this blog if I wanted to...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Microwaves on a thousand hills

As I walked out of our "manna" house this morning, I was surprised and greeted with a friend's bright face. He smiled and said, "Ya want a microwave"? I don't have to wonder long how many people were visited this morning by a friend offering them a microwave out of the back of their car. I, of course, returned his warm greeting with a smile and, "Sure! Bring it in..."

We have a funny saying that is commonly used in our family. The phrase originates in Psalms, when God describes Himself as the owner of all things. "All animals are mine and the cattle on thousand hills", he said in Psalm 50. We, as a family, like to use that verse and plug in our own words... depending on how we are seeing God's provision in our lives. Tonight the phrase, "God owns the microwaves on a thousand hills" is bouncing around in my head and I am smiling.


The life of ministry that God has called us to has been one where we find ourselves constantly in need of something. This has not been easy for me. Frankly, I don't like to be weak; but, even more than that, I really don't like to "look" weak or have to ask for anything. My pride is significant in this regard.


God knows this about me and has used our calling, lifestyle and situations to school me in the world of provision, request, humility and ... well, the Body of Christ. It has been an amazing and sometimes painful journey. When we first started out raising our financial support, it was all chore... all humiliating and honestly, a distasteful part of our work. Now, ten years later, our financial support is deeply encouraging to me and a daily reminder of God's provision. The journey is not over, that is for certain! I am still quite prideful and still there is a tinge somewhere in my soul when I have to ask for something...

But I am learning.

On Monday, God gave us a house. ...by tomorrow the house will be fully furnished without us spending a dime. Amazing. ... from God's hand, through God's people. I believe it is God's Body functioning exactly as it should.


In the last three days I have seen His ownership of houses, couches, beds, sheets, side tables and even baking dishes". I now have too many cookie sheets to fill my "manna" kitchen! I will fall asleep worshipping a God who owns the cookie sheets on a thousand hills!


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