Tuesday, December 22, 2009

That's Why Christmas

I'd been given fair warning before the program started, but I forgot to stock my purse with kleenex before leaving home. That's why I stopped for some toilet tissue before the lights went down. You know, just in case. I didn't really expect to use it. I mean, how many church Christmas concerts have I sat through in my thirty-seven years, right? But I prepared myself just the same.

What I had not prepared myself for, however, was the raw beauty of a single moment in that program. I was not prepared to be moved to tears not just once, but twice as I witnessed it again the next night. Same exact concert, same exact auditorium. But I was. Moved to tears, that is. Have you ever experienced something so pure, so perfectly exactly the way it was supposed to be -- that you get overwhelmed to the point of tears? Not anxious tears. Not even happy tears. But tears of true, deep joy that can only be triggered by something so beautiful as little girls singing "Silent Night". Like the tears that filled my eyes as I watched the perfect execution of Irish dancers as they pounded their feet on the stage in front of me the night my husband surprised me with tickets to see "River Dance". The emotion caught me by surprise that night, just as it did at the church Christmas concert last Friday and Saturday. I had not prepared myself to be overcome with the beauty of the whole idea of Christmas as I listened along with the angels to twenty or so little girls singing sweetly about the best thing ever to happen to mankind.

Twenty sweet, beautiful little voices reminding me that, because of Christmas, because of Jesus, I can sleep in heavenly peace. The only real peace. Twenty sweet little voices telling me that, although it was most likely NOT a physically silent night (i.e. virgin woman giving birth -- without epidural!!!, not to mention mooing cows, baaing sheep and freaked out father), all the troubles of this loud horrible sinful place called earth can now be silenced. Every night. From now on. Because Christmas. Thus -- perhaps one of the most popular Christmas carols of all time.

So, what was it about that particular rendition of the song that I'd heard probably hundreds of times before? What was it about that concert that touched me so deeply? Well, I'm sure it had to do with the fact that my daughter's sweet voice was among the twenty. But, more than that, I believe it had to do with my heart. And the silent peace it knows. And how amazingly, awesomely grateful I am to have it. Even when the tumultuous schedule that is often Christmas tries hard to break that silence. Even when the anxious craziness of motherhood presents a barrier to said silence. Even when my four-year-old ends up in the hospital for three days and my husband's job is much less than stable and the wind blows out the electricity and . . .

But silence!

And that's why Christmas! Hallelujah! That is why Christmas!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bring It!

I've long been intrigued by Mary's reaction to the angel when he broke the news to her about Jesus. I mean, the Bible says in Luke 2 that she was "greatly troubled" by the words, "You ... are highly favored! The Lord is with you." When she heard it, she "wondered what kind of greeting this might be." I have to wonder when I read it if she was suspicious. Or was it, maybe, that her simple and pure humility would not let her just accept it as common knowledge that she was highly favored? I don't know. That's part of the intrigue. The humility that characterizes Mary is something I've always admired and longed for from afar. (Ever hear that humility is a scary thing to pray for?)

The other (quite large) part of the intrigue is that of her reaction when the plan is sketched out for her. Quite simply -- she would somehow be impregnated by the Holy Spirit before giving birth to God Himself in the form of a baby, not to mention having to trust that her fiance would understand, as well as having to wait to enjoy her wedding night until (wait, this one's crazy) after she gave birth to the child from her virgin womb. I write it here and can't fathom or wrap my mind around it. I don't even really know how to use words for it.

So -- how could she?!? And yet, somehow she finds some words. She uses them to respond to this sketchy picture with amazing stability and confidence. It comes out in what are perhaps five of the scariest yet assuring words in the English language "I am the Lord's servant." And she finishes it off with "May it be to me as you have said." Uh-huh! I know! Absolute. Trust. She has just been told that her life as she knows it is about to be obliterated. And she responds with a resounding "bring it!!" (my translation) because she knows Whom she serves. She's grounded in Who she belongs to. She has no doubt Who's in charge. She has no worries about the details (like the whole Joseph believing her thing, and what about her parents counting backwards from the day Jesus is born to figure out exactly when He was conceived). "No worries... I'm God's servant. Bring it!" And wow! Did He bring it or what? And what an adventure she got to take!

Makes me wonder what kind of adventures I've missed when I've failed to respond to one of His nudges with that same humility that Mary had. And it makes me excited to think about all the adventures He has for me as I humbly accept what ever He brings. Unafraid. Absolutely. Trusting. Him. As. My. Lord. "May it be to me as you have said."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Powered by the Caller

"Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation." 2 Samuel 7:17

Without the surrounding context, it seems a verse like this would not naturally be one to extrapolate on. But as I read today's devotional text in 2 Samuel, I found an amazing amount of encouragement in these eleven words.

See, God had just given Nathan the prophet a eleven verses worth of detailed revelation regarding the building of a house for His Name and the building of David's house and line that would eventually be fulfilled in Jesus. And, we're talking some pretty intense stuff. So when I read that "Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation," I thought "how the heck did he remember all of these words?!?" And it was even in the middle of the night!

Then God reminded me that Nathan was His prophet. He was, in fact, called to be a prophet by God Himself. Appointed to the very task. And when God appointed him, He also must have given him everything he needed to do his job correctly.

Well, I don't know about you, but I personally find this piece of truth incredibly encouraging! Because if I'm called and appointed by God to be the mom to the two little girls with whom He has entrusted me, He's going to equip me just like He did Nathan the prophet. With everything I need to do my job correctly. As He intended me to!

Okay, I don't know if Nathan used rote memory or if he took notes while He was listening to the word of the Lord. For all we know, he may have used some pnemonic device. But it truly doesn't matter HOW he did it. The fact remains that he was able to recall "all the words of this entire revelation." And that was his job. Either way, he had the tools necessary to get the job done. And, I'm guessing that he had to work the tools to some extent. Just like this mommy thing requires some (okay, lots of) pretty intense work. But when the work is powered by the Giver of the job, it's possible to do it right!

And, seriously, the fact that it's possible amazes me! So let yourself be encouraged too.

Today, my goal is to look for ways that God has empowered me to do my job as mom well. I hope I find lots.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The LIFE That is Motherhood

I'm amazed at the amount of enjoyment I have experienced as a mom recently. I mean, I've held the title for just about eight years, and I've never found myself able to rest in the role like I have in the past few months. If I had to nail down a reason, I think I'd have to say it's the narrowing of focus, the honing of my purpose as a mom, the realizing that being a mom is not just a job. It's my life.

Okay, I read that, and I think it sounds crazy. Of course it's my life! I'm a mom! But, somehow, I've had this mindset since my initiation days into motherhood that this is more like my job, where I put in for vacation time and solicit the elusive "smoke break". And this mindset has convinced me that motherhood is somehow more hard work than job. So I've approached it more as a job than as my life. The one I'm supposed to LIVE, not just WORK through. And, as a result, I believe I've missed something of the true and deep joy that is motherhood. It's almost like I've been spending all these years trying to convince myself and everyone else that I work so hard and so constantly that I need to take every possible opportunity to be away from this work so I can breathe. And, while that is true to the extent that every mom absolutely needs regular breaks, I think I've taken it to some sort of extreme. And somehow I convinced myself that my job as a mom is a sort of waiting game -- I wait until my kids start school full time, and THEN I can fulfill my true calling. The one God has set aside for me. You know, the amazingly unique career that only I can fulfill.

Only, now that I'm taking the time to focus on what motherhood really is, I'm realizing that this is my calling. My true calling. The one God has set aside for only me. Motherhood is not just some incredibly difficult job, which certainly does lack appreciation at times. It is a lifetstyle full of surprises and challenges and absolute fun and enjoyment!

I hope this makes sense. It's not that I've not enjoyed my kids before now. It's just that, as I find and refine my mission as a mom, I'm finding myself enjoying my kids like never before. And my job is more fun too. :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wholehearted Singing

Colossians 3:23-24 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

I recently read the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. A story I've read many times before. But this time, it struck a chord. Unsure of the reason, I read the story again. Then I read the devotion that some pastors at my church had written on it. And I recognized the chord.

It's the main chord in the song I've been learning this month. The song of wholeheartedness. I've been realizing lately that in several areas of my life I've been doing enough to just get by.

Motherhood is at the very top of that list. I've been seeing a pattern in the way that I mother my two daughters. The pattern is one of almost survival mode. It entails just going through the motions. No intentionality involved. It involves doing the minimum to get through each day. Looking to the end of the day when my husband gets home so I can concentrate on my own life and getting the things done that I "need" to complete. The problem is, if I don't change this course I'm on, I'm going to find myself walking out of a college dorm room wondering what the heck happened to my little girls. And they'll be waving goodbye to me with the minimal amount of real life values and childhood family memories.

I admit this is extreme. I mean, my children are happy and very well-adjusted little girls. But the truth is, if I don't wake up now and start being intentional with the time I have with them, in each and every today, I'm going to end up missing it all! And I don't want to miss it. I want to be the mother they need. The reason God gave them to me instead of someone else. I want to train them to love and follow Jesus wholly. I want to love them like they need to be loved. Like God has purposed me to love them. I want to enjoy this calling of motherhood. Wholeheartedly.

And that's where Ananias and Sapphira fell short. They were pretending. Like I've been pretending. They were trying to fool Almighty God. Trying to appear to be doing something they weren't actually doing. Like I've been trying to appear to be doing the very best job I can at being a mom. Only, the truth is, I haven't been. I've been focused on the wrong stuff -- MY stuff. Everything I want to get done in any given day. Instead of focusing on the job that God has given me to do. The true nurture of my children, whether that be spiritual, physical, mental or emotional. The focus of doing this job called motherhood to the best of my ability. And finishing the song that started with the chord of wholeheartedness.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The girls have a doctor's appointment this afternoon. I'm hoping for an easy and quick in/out. I do not like waiting in the pediatrician's waiting room. Not when there are other sick kids with whose germs I am not familiar, nor do I care to be. Not with my two kids whose immunities I would like to keep as intact as possible through this seemingly treacherous time of year. Not with my impatience. Not at all.

Now, let it be known that I do not mind waiting rooms when I am alone. Since I have become a mom, I have found this kind of waiting to be rather relaxing. Time to catch up on the latest magazine news, maybe do a crossword puzzle or planning on my calendar. Maybe even get to read a bit of whatever book I've chosen to be into at the time. But waiting, as a verb, not so much.

I've thought about this idea of waiting quite a bit throughout my adult life. Like when I had to wait for my husband to be ready to even start trying to have children and then, again, waiting on God's chosen time for conception. Or like waiting for the comfort of true and Godly friends after several long years of wondering if God would ever allow that kind of friendship to be part of my life. And, as I've worked through these different periods of waiting, I've noticed the many times in Scripture the people whom God had wait. And I mean they had to W-A-I-T!! Like Noah, who not only had to wait 40 days as it rained, but then had to wait several more months for the water to recede before he could get off that stinky boat. Like Abraham, who had to wait 25 years for God to bring His promise of a son (and not just a son, but a whole nation) to fruition. Like Joseph, who had to wait 12 years (!!!) to be free from the imprisonment that he unjustly suffered. And there are so many more.

So today when I drove past the beautifully colored leaves on some trees that lined a long driveway, I not only wondered at their beauty, but also at their seeming lateness. I mean, here in Ohio, fall colors are pretty much over. Everywhere, that is, except on this one driveway where the trees are lined perfectly in a beautiful array of fall colored-leaves. I thought to myself that they must be "late bloomers". But then I heard God's soft reminder that He makes all things beautiful in His time. His perfect time.

See -- if those trees hadn't been so late, I wouldn't get to enjoy their beauty anymore. I probably would have forgotten them by now. But instead, after all the other beauty of all the other fall leaves is gone, I still get to enjoy fall leaves. And I was thinking how perfectly abundant God's timing is. It's perfect. He could have just let those trees turn colors when all of the other trees did. But, instead, He let my enjoyment of fall be extended, if even for just a little while longer.

And He reminded me, yet again, that His timing is not only perfect. It's beautiful. And it's full of grace. I hope I remember that next time I find myself waiting!

I'm sharing this post at Tuesdays Unwrapped chattingatthesky.com

Monday, November 16, 2009

Odd Day Out

Yesterday was odd.

I was the first one up in the morning. Odd. I made homemade waffles for breakfast. Odd for a Sunday morning before church. All this AND I got dressed up because I wanted to. I usually wear my nice jeans and a sweater. Dressier than normal mom-days, but not "dressed up" by any stretch of the imagination. Well, yesterday I felt like wearing a skirt, nylons (?!?!) and my nice, blue, "dressy" shirt. Very, very strange.

Driving home from church, I wondered about this anomaly, thinking I could chalk it up to the fact that I'd been quarantined with the swine flu for the past 10 days or so, resulting in endless pajama days followed by just as many days in sweats and slippers. The strange enjoyment of wearing the nylons and skirt, I reasoned, could be explained by my need to feel not just human, but pretty, again.

But I hadn't really thought through the oddity of being the first one out of bed as well as wanting to make breakfast for my kids instead of just preparing the everyday cold cereal, with an occasional piece of toast. I hadn't thought it through, that is, until my seven-year-old asked me before bed last night if I could get up early again. She reminded me that, back at the end of summer vacation, I had made that a goal for this school year. A goal, I think it goes without saying, that I have failed to meet thus far. Her question struck me in a (surprise!) strange kind of way. Why would she care if I get up early or not?

At this point in the discussion, I feel the need to explain our morning ritual. My husband is normally the first to awaken, followed by the aforementioned seven-year-old. The two of them read the Bible and then eat breakfast together before waking me up so we can pray before my husband sets off for work. I then lay in bed with my daughter, after she waves goodbye to Daddy, mustering all of my energy in order to pry my eyes open. When I finally get out of bed, due to my daughter's patient prodding, we do all of the normal preparations for the day (i.e. get dressed, etc.). I am not what you would call a "morning person".

So, I've been thinking about it today. And I remembered a book by Jill Savage that I started reading this past summer. My Heart's at Home: Becoming the Intentional Mom Your Family Needs. That book is actually the reason for the goal I had made. I think I'm gonna' read it again. Because I'm starting to believe, with all of my heart actually, that my family does need me to be more intentional with my time. Not that they have to have a homemade breakfast everyday. Not even that they need me to be the first out of bed everyday. But, I think the day starts better when I'm on my game before they are. And, consequently, so does theirs. And I think I'm more focused on my purpose, as a mom, as a child of God, as a woman, when I've been awake for more than, say, one minute.

So -- here goes. A goal re-set. My goal is to be up and out of bed, ready for the day, before my husband leaves for work. I will do this for the remainder of this week. And I'll evaluate on Friday how it's gone.

Maybe soon, it'll be not so strange.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Early Christmas Spirit

I started Christmas shopping the other day. Unusual for me, actually. I usually do this all year long. Shopping clearance sales. Finding the occasional great deal, then trying to figure out who I might know that can't live without it so I can buy it. It's really quite difficult for me to walk away from a great bargain. Like that $20 kids game I got for $8. Or the adorable newborn baby Christmas dress for $3.60. You get the idea. And then I stockpile the gifts. My closet has proven to be the most effective holding room. So, usually by this time of the year, I have bags upon boxes full of great finds spilling out.

But this year it's different. I somehow can't get myself to spend that much money. Not that $3.60 or $8 is a lot. I just can't seem to justify searching for that justification to buy something just because it's a great bargain. I've started to realize that the thrill of the hunt is just not worth it. Unless it's the hunt for somthing that's truly needed.

While cleaning out my daughter's bedroom last weekend, I realized, yet again, that my kids have WAY TOO many toys. In years past, I've come to this same realization and then gone on to purchase the aforementioned bargain clearance toy items anyway. But somehow this year my words have caught up with my actions. And I just can't do it. If they don't need it, I just can't seem to get myself to buy it.

Deep inside, I'm longing for that truly meaningful Christmas gift to give. A gift given not because I'm expected to or even because it's something my kids say they want. But something that truly shows my love for them. Something that will actually enhance their lives. Maybe even point them to Jesus more clearly.

Maybe it's because of Faa, the 28-year-old Thai woman my family now has the privelege of knowing. Faa's life has not only changed the lives of the five children she's adopted into her home in Thailand, but has also changed my life and those of my children. Having come from an abusive home into an orphanage where she was introduced to her Heavenly Father and the freedom and love of Jesus, her life's mission has become providing children with a home, despite her lack of finances. She told me a few weeks ago that, at home in Thailand, the one meal a day that she eats is the one that her job allows her. She does this so that she can use every penny of those she earns to provide food for her kids. So they can eat. She said that while she's been here in the States the food is so abundant, she just doesn't feel right throwing anything on her plate away, even when it's much too much for her to eat. Oh, if only we could take all of that food and beam it up to Thailand so they could eat even the scraps.

In light of all of that, I just can't seem to get into the spending spirit yet. Strangely, though, I feel even more in the Christmas Spirit than I've ever felt so early in November. So i'm praying that God shows me what He wants me to give. And I'm asking Him to show my kids and my husband.

And I'm ready for it.

p.s. GROW Thailand (www.facebook.com/GrowThailand?ref) is a brand new ministry to support Faa and her calling to rescue these children stuck in the sex and slave trade in Thailand.
Also, Asia's Hope (www.asiashope.org) is an amazing ministry of much the same type.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Cuddling in bed with my youngest this morning, we watched Strawberry Shortcut's The Sweet Dreams Movie. It's actually a very cute video (if you like that sort of girly thing). About never being afraid to dream, not letting anyone steal your dreams. You know, that sort of thing. But as I lay there cuddling with my sweet, impressionable young daughter, I let my mind wonder. Wander, even. What do boys of this age watch on video as they cuddle with their mommies? And -- do those said videos lack the same honor for females that their counterpart videos for girls lack for males?

I mean, truly. Am I the only one who's noticed that, while Dora is a wonderful teacher of espanol, pretty much every single male in any given episode of Dora The Explorer is an idiot or bad guy? Well, ok, Boots is nice. Boots is a boy, right?

So I was thinking about Batman and Spiderman, and the era when they were introduced in pop culture. I wonder if it has to do with the women's lib movement? Did they notice that those shows only had men as heroes? Is that when they introduced Wonder Woman and She-ra? Well, I say, at least they made up for it and didn't present all women as imbiciles. Women can be heroes as well as men. It's an invidual thing.

I realize I could very well be overthinking this whole thing. I just don't know. I mean, their young minds are so impressionable. And they take in way more than I can even imagine. Especially as they watch TV and movies.

I want my daughters to know that they can do anything they set their mind to. I want them to dream of being somebody's hero. Everybody's hero, even. But I want them to know that, while women can be effective at this, so can men. It's not about one sex being superior to the other. It's about everybody doing and being their best. It's about doing and being who God made us, to our full potential, no matter what sex we are.

So -- next time we watch Dora, maybe I should start a conversation about who can be a hero. Or maybe that's too much for my youngling to grasp. I don't know. Maybe I should just stay mindful of it and take every opportunity to reiterate that anyONE (male or female) can be the hero and do the hero things that God gives them to do. Or maybe I should just sit back, relax and learn some more espanol. Because, after all, I have been known to overthink things...

Friday, October 30, 2009

In The Now

I realized the other day my problem with Fall. So many people love it. I do love the beautiful colors, the scent of burning leaves, the crispness in the air and the excitement of the new school year beginning. But that's where the excitement ends. And I've often wondered why. I mean, what's my problem? There is so much beauty to enjoy (in every sense). So why don't I like this season? Why can't I soak up all that I have right now? Well, I think I've figured it out.


It's because of what I know is coming! Cold days stuck inside. The dirty snow that messes my floors. The cold feet that haunt my husband at bedtime each night. (Sorry, Honey.) Sure, I love the beauty of freshly-fallen, untouched snow and the warmth of cuddling by the fire with my family. And, oh how I do love Christmas! But, again, that is where it ends.

So the other day, I caught myself feeling anxious to be done with Fall simply so we could get on with it and get to Christmas, trudge through the rest of winter, and anticipate the coming warmth of spring and summer. I realized that I've let my drudgery of what I know is coming in Winter ruin the beauty of what I have before me now in the Fall.

Man, what a bummer!

I don't want to be that kind of person. I want to be the kind of person that lives in the now. Soaks it all up for everything it is. No matter what's around the bend. Because that's where the living is.

This mentality seems to have oozed over into other areas of my life, as well. Like when I knew my husband had to leave town for business in three days, so I was unable to enjoy the time I did have with him when I had it. I actually think it's a mentality that a lot of people stuggle with. Like those who leave the baseball game early for the dread of getting stuck in traffic on the way home. This makes no sense, if you think about it. Isn't the purpose of going to the game to enjoy the game? But we miss the full enjoyment if we dread what inevitably happens afterward, namely the traffic issue. And we've let the future ruin the now.


So I'm gonna' try to enjoy the beauty of this season right now. Who knows? Maybe it will even help prepare me to enjoy the (dreaded) winter when it does arrive.

And I'm gonna' try to apply this living in the now thing to time with my kids, too. Because goodness knows I don't want to end up in the Fall of my life and realize what I missed. I want to think back on all the seasons with lots of great and lasting memories made while I was "in the now".

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Some Quotes I Just Read

"We are always too busy for our children; we never give them the time or interest they deserve. We lavish gifts upon them; but the most precious gift, our personal association, which means so much to them, we give grudgingly." -- Mark Twain said that.

Oh, Lord, let that not be true of me.

And someone named Marceline Cox said, "parents are often so busy with the physical rearing of children that they miss the glory of parenthood, just as the grandeur of the trees is lost when raking leaves."

And, Lord God, please don't let me be so busy with "my stuff" that I miss the "glory of parenthood. I so badly want to enjoy this journey.

But, sometimes it's just so darn hard.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mommy Mission

I need to set some goals. I am currently stuck in a rut of sorts. A rut of laziness, I think. I honestly feel like I'm just floundering around, waiting for my calling to come, so I can respond to it next year, when both kids are in school all day, and I have the time to do what I need to do. Uh-huh, right.

Only, pretty obviously, my call is to be a mommy. (Obvious in the fact that God has allowed me to actually be one.) So, what the heck am I thinking?

In my estimation, it seems there is not one verse pointed to mothers that says exactly what to do or not to do. I can, however, find several really good examples of Godly moms, like Hannah -- whose life was lived in total sacrifice and submission to the Lord Almighty. And, as a result, her son Samuel lived in that same kind of submission to Him. Then there's Naomi, another example of one who mothered her grown daughter-in-law, Ruth, in such a way that Ruth longed to honor her as she would her own mother. And I have the number five of the Ten Commandments. "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." (Ex 20:12) I believe this is a promise of God. But I also think that it logically makes sense that if you honor your parents, you'll learn the ways of the land. You'll learn how to live.

Of course, this puts a pretty hefty assumption of responsibility on parents. Namely -- that we live lives that are worthy of honor. And that we, in fact, teach them how to live. Sounds obvious, maybe, but a pretty major challenge, in my opinion.

Dt 11:-21 says, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth."

So this is how I do it. And this is what I teach them.

And I absolutely need a plan. So I've decided to set some goals for myself. To hold myself accountable for my job. Since I can't really get fired for not doing my job (being a full-time mommy), I need something.

I used to be pretty good at being involved in and creative at just playing with my kids. When both of my children were at home full time we lived in a different part of the country. Before we moved here, we had several friends with children around the same ages as mine. And this constant teaching seemed to be much more easily accomplished, having the support of other moms in the same phase of motherhood as I. The accountability was much more natural, as I would daily chat with my friends and make plans for creative activities with them and our children. But now that we've moved away from that area, and at the same time have grown out of that phase (with only one child home full-time with me now), I'm forced to be more proactive and independent. I need to get creative. And focused on the calling God has given me and the task at hand. And I absolutely need to take full advantage of this time with my children. Because, without a doubt, it will pass quickly. And before I know it, they will be grown and gone and have children of their own. But for now, I'll just take advantage of this moment.

Lord, help me. Please.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

To Smash Or Not To Smash

I had a chance to live in the "more" this morning. Spend time playing Super SmashBros on Nintendo Gamecube or play by myself on the laptop. See -- I really like doing my own thing. And now that I have this blog, I kind of have another one of my own things. So I thought I could check the blog, see if there were any new comments, maybe do a new post, play a little more with applying new gadgets, check facebook, maybe play a game or ten :) of Bejeweled Blitz . . . well, you get the idea.

The problem is that I did that last night while the rest of my family played Gamecube. In truth, I sort of needed that time "alone" (in the same room as they were, but doing my own thing). But this morning, well, it was definitely time to spend with my family. And they needed it too. Time to be a family.

Sadly, it involved a minor struggle within my own selfish being. I love my "me time". And, as a mom who stays home full time, I can almost always justify taking any possible mintue I get that is not entirely sucked up by catering to the needs of my family or my home. But, I think I've taken this a bit too far. Like I've started living like that "me time" is what's going to fulfill my life, instead of living in the truth that doing what God has called me to do (at this phase of my life that is "mommy") is actually where it's at. Well, God's been working on pulling that weed from my life. So -- this morning He gave me a chance to find a little "more" of that life that He came to give. The "more" that comes when I follow His way, His leading, His calling. And He let me have it, just a little of it, as I sat in my chair in the living room, Gamecube controller in hand, and kick some virtual tail as "Samus" in a smashing game of Nintendo.

It was fun. Even more fun than bloging.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Of Baguettes and Pains Chocolats

I love bread! During our four months as expatriots in Paris, we ate baguettes at least daily. Every evening, I would walk to the patisserie (bakery) and get two baguettes -- one to eat as I walked back to our flat, and one for dinner with the family. Seriously. It was one of my very favorite things about living in Paris. In fact, when my husband went back to Paris, I asked him to bring me one home on the plane. Nothin' like a real Parisian baguette!

And the pains chocolats!!! Oh man, my mouth waters just remembering them! French chocolate wrapped in a perfectly flaky, homemade croissant. A meal in itself, the pain chocolat definitely held its own in our Parisian home.

So when I think of how Jesus called Himself "The Bread of Life", I gotta' think He was referring to the very finest and most satisfying of bread! I'm not talking about Wonder bread (although, I must say, Wonder holds a special place in my childhood memories, as I think of getting to eat it at my grandma's house because my mom never bought it. Weird that I remember that, huh?) Anyway, Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. . . I am the Bread -- living Bread!" (John 6, The Message) I seriously think I could have lived on that bread in Paris. Mmmmmm. Yum! And when I think about Him calling Himself the Living Bread, the only kind of bread we will ever need, it makes me wanna' know THAT kind of Bread. To taste it. But I wonder what tasting THIS Bread entails. I think it has to do with taking Him for all He says He is and all He says He will do. I think it means believing Him absolutely. Living like I believe it! Living out HIS definition of living, according to Scripture. Not looking for satisfaction and joy in what doesn't last (like making my house looks good, or eating all kinds of great food, or even finding all kinds of great deals on clothes and making my kids and myself look good).

And I have to believe that in order to know that definition, Jesus' definition of life, I need to know more of what He said. And I need to obey it.

I read this and have to believe that not only did Jesus come to fulfill my deepest, intimate, humanly-unmeetable needs. But He also came in order to show me the real definition of living. Like what we know as life, without Him, is not really life at all. I mean to say that "eternal life" is not only living forever, but is also living for real!

I was reading the Bible this morning in John chapter 6. Jesus said, "Don't waste your energy striving for perishable food . . . Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. . . This is what the Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life."

That's the life I want. For real. And forever.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Drink the Water

So I've been struck lately by the truth that God is way bigger, way more beautiful, abundantly more kind and loving and gracious and more than my tiny being can grasp. At the same time, I've been realizing how little I take Him at His Word. I mean, truly. Jesus said He is the WATER of LIFE. And He said it more than once. He claimed to be the BREAD of LIFE. If these things are true, than He should, in fact, be all I need for sustenance. Right? I mean, not that I want to live on bread and water alone, but I could if I needed to.
Here's the thing, though... He gives me not only what I need, but even more! When I let Him be my bread and water, He makes my life better than I ever dreamed. He said it right there in John 10.
So -- here's the experiment. What if I live like I believe that? What if I stop trying to find satisfaction and happiness and fulfillment, even rest, in things that aren't, well, Him? What if Jesus IS all that and a slice of bread?!? Okay, not just a slice, but the whole loaf. :)
I'm gonna' try it.
Here goes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sticky Persistence

I am so amazed at the entirety of all that I have been challenged with and learning lately. I'm not sure I can really explain it. But I have this blog. Therefore, I will try. :)

At my Thursday morning Bible study, we have been studying the topic of heaven all summer long. So, as you might imagine, we've spent some time looking into the book of Revelation. At the same time, my husband has invited me to join him on his journey through Daniel (via David Jeremiah's website), which I don't ever remember understanding before. And so, through that, we have spent much time studying and discussing together prophecy and end-time things. In the meantime, I was given a book by a friend called Nine Days in Heaven, in which the narrator describes in detail her nine-day vision of heaven.

So through all of this I have been challenged with various thoughts, not the least of which is the idea of God preparing His people (including me) for heaven. Making us ready for the whole completeness that we will have, not to mention the pure and true fellowship we will enjoy eternally with our Savior Jesus Christ.

And through all of it, He seems to be impressing on me in a very real way how NOT ready I am to experience ALL that heaven has to offer. Don't get me wrong. I know that I know that I know that I will spend eternity with God in heaven because I believe and have surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as the Forgiver of my sins and as the Lord of my life. But I believe that, in this world and in heaven, He has more prepared than I can even begin to imagine. And I am starting to think that I will be even more prepared to enjoy it to the full if I trust Him here on earth to give me that life that is truly life. Trust Him even with the details and frivolity of the everyday. So He has been making me thirsty. For more than Diet Coke and iced tea. And He has been making me realize how truly unsatisfied I am with what's not Him. I'm realizing that He doesn't let things like great bargains and good tasting food satisfy me because He wants me to want more. And to realize that HE is the only "more" that can satisfy to that depth. Truly.

Sure, I still find myself wasting the occasional minute (ok, hour or more!) on Bejeweled Blitz or facebook or wandering around Kohl's or Wal-Mart aimlessly looking for an unbelievable deal. But God is starting to show me how unsatisfying these things are compared to what's real. The things of Him. Like spending time in His Word. Or just hanging out with my family. His voice is starting to become louder than the call of Kohl's and facebook.

Unfortunately, I am a s-l-o-w l-e-a-r-n-e-r!!! So I don't always respond to His voice in a, shall we say, timely manner. But I am SOOO thankful for His persistent, sticky mercy and patience. Please, Lord, don't give up on me!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Takin' a Good Look

Ok, so I just read this in Haggai because of a little insert in our church bulletin yesterday . . .

"Take a good, hard look at your life.
Think it over.
You have spent a lot of money,
but you haven't much to show for it.
You keep filling your plates,
but you never get filled up.
You keep drinking and drinking and drinking,
but you're always thirsty.
You put on layer after layer of clothes,
but you can't get warm.
And the people who work for you,
what are they getting out of it?
Not much --
a leaky, rusted-out bucket, that's what.

That's why GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies said:

'Take a good, hard look at your life.
Think it over.' "
from Haggai 1 in the Message

Yep, that's totally been me. Wasting money on all kinds of stuff just because it's a great deal. (Man, how I love a good bargain!) And wasting time on whatever I think will help me relax and enjoy life if even just a little. The thing is, it is fun. And I can brag about all the good deals I got (including my $3 shirts and $7 pair of jeans, not to mention all of the amazing Goodwill finds! But I digress . . .), but if I really take a "good, hard look at (my) life," I have to wonder what I really have to show for all of the money I've spent. Well, ok, maybe I have some cute clothes, but Clinton and Stacy would almost definitely make fun of me for wearing most of them, especially since they were all on clearance when I bought them. And, yes, I do have a new Bejeweled Blitz high score (104,000 -- thank you very much!). But, I seriously think that compared to walking in true and constant fellowship with Jesus, those things are so empty. Even the refreshing glass of ice cold Diet Coke (gulp, gulp, ahhhh!) doesn't quench my real thirst.

Now, I am definitely NOT saying that Bejeweld Blitz is evil. Or good bargains. Or even Diet Coke (although, I must admit, I have my doubts about that one). I'm not even saying that God doesn't want me to enjoy these things when I get the chance. But I think that in the midst of mommyness and figuring out ways to give myself special "treats" in the day-to-day, I've gotten lost in justifying myself. I think I started falling for the lie that I NEEDED a Diet Coke to refresh me or even some cute new clothes at an amazing price to give me a little "pick-me-up". I know I probably sound like a bit of a radical. That's ok, I guess. I don't really want to be a radical. I just want to live that life that Jesus came to give me. I don't want to miss out on it because of being so distracted by things that don't even come close to measuring up.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


When I planted the seeds in my garden almost three months ago, I had no idea how successful it would be. I was just excited when little sprouts came out of the ground! But oh the thrill of seeing seeds become sprouts, which then became plants, which grew into vegetables. And now -- we're eating it!!! I love it. And I can't believe how amazing fresh-off-the-vine zucchini and yellow summer squash tastes! Not to mention the cucumbers and carrots. You can actually taste the difference! (I'm excited. Can you tell?) And I just got in from picking tomatoes and corn. Our first of the summer from the garden! Maybe we'll have them for breakfast. :)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Satisfaction And Then Some

My senior year in college, I read the book Perelandra by C.S. Lewis. It's one of the very few books I think I could read over and over again , although I have yet to do so. But I digress...

There is one scene in which the main character, the narrator, I believe, eats some fruit from a tree. And the fruit tastes better than anything he's ever tasted before. So absolutely satisfying, in fact, that he is exactly that --- satisfied. Truly satisfied. And he doesn't want anymore. The flavor is more amazing than anything he's ever experienced, yet he does not want more of it.

I remember being so struck by the idea of being so satified that the idea has stuck with me ever since. I still remember the discussion in Dr. Mark Cosgrove's class. I even wrote a paper on it. And here I am, 15 years later, blogging about the very same topic. I think it has so greatly affected me because I've always longed for such satisfaction in life. The kind that needs no more. Wants no more.

Well, lately God has been reminding me of His promise for full life. So I've taken Him up on the challenge. If Jesus really came so that I could have life, the life that is truly life, to the full, then He is even better than the things that I love to have and enjoy in my life. Things like Diet Coke, and getting a really great bargain, and Pottery Barn, and great new clothes, and chocolate! Sounds crazy or stupid, maybe. But I think He's up for the challenge. I'm starting to believe that He's as good as all these. And then some. So here's the journey to find the "and then some . . " that He's offered. I hope you'll enjoy the journey. And find some for yourself.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spiritual Faint of Heart

I'm a little confused. I have this new challenge in my prayer life. It started the day of Corey's funeral. Spiritual numbness, maybe. Then, two days ago, Hanna woke up at 4am throwing up. By Sunday morning at 5am, I was pleading with God to please make it stop for her. So pitiful was she. And by 6am, I was claiming His own character as the basis for it, begging Him to show my children how faithful He is to answer prayer. How loving and caring He is to not want any of His children to suffer. I was sure He would listen and make her suffering stop. But 15 minutes later, while again holding the "barf bowl" I found myself to be wrong. So now, as I pray that God would spare Grace (everyone in our family, actually, but especially Grace) from this horrible stomach flu, I waiver in my faith. He said we should ask, believing that we have what we ask for. But how do I do that if He doesn't even answer the prayer that protects His reputation? For His Name's sake. I don't understand! But I know that even in that, God is sovereign. And I so badly want to believe that EVERYthing He does is good. So I guess I'll pray that He helps me in my belief.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Own Personal Gethsemane

"Every true disciple of Jesus Christ will know their own Gethsemane." --Beth Moore, in lesson nine of her study Jesus the One and Only.

After they shared the Passover Meal and sang a hymn, "Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him (Lk. 22:39)." They followed Him. On His trek through the Kidron Valley to the personal cross He endured that very night as He submitted Himself to the perfect will of His Father. They had been following Him for three years. Learned from Him. Sought His direction. Studied under Him. Rabbi in Word. In deed. Indeed. But the true following, I think, was just about to begin on that trek through the Kidron Valley and into the Garden. Where He would lay down His life and fight the battle of all battles before He faced the battle in physical form.

There is so much about this study that challenges me. But the part I can't get over, the one that keeps repeating in my head, is the idea that if I am a true disciple of Jesus Christ, a true follower of Who He Is, then I too will face my own personal Gethsemane. A place, as Beth Moore puts it, "where serious decisions are made that will affect the rest of my walk (with Him)." And it might happen more than once in my lifetime.

Funny thing is, I think I'm there. Today, as I listened to her talk on the video, I realized the Lord's clarification of some, as of late, very persistent and personal thoughts in my head. And in my heart. Thoughts like, (okay don't lol) "Bria, put down the computer and play with your kids." And, "Bria, don't start a game of Pathwords, you know you'll get sucked in for another at least 45 minutes!" And "Bria, turn off facebook and listen to Me. I've got something better." Or even, "Bria, don't you know that what I have to offer is so much stinkin' better than any of what you could possibly be doing?!?"

And so I have to choose. It's time for me to make one of those decisions "that will affect the rest of my walk." And, I know it sounds (or looks) trite, but it's a very real struggle right now for me. Not just the time on the computer, but my "me time" as a whole. As an at-home mom, I've always been able to justify stealing whatever moments by myself that I could get, knowing that every mom needs alone time or she's just not her best. As true as that is, for me, in all pure and utter honesty, I think I've gone to the opposite extreme. No, my children are not neglected. But I must say, confess rather, that I certainly have not appreciated my opportunities with them to the best of my ability. And I most definitely have not been willing to forfeit my "me time" in order to submit in the Gethsemane way to the will of the One Whom I claim to follow.

But, you know what? That's just like Jesus. Agonizing. Hmm, cool. I guess i'm on to something. And now, to just do it....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


So when I'm sick, I'm really grouchy. Self-centered. Self-pitying. Self. Self. Self. And then more self. Yuck! I'm sick and tired of this self! So Sunday morning, before my family and I left for church, instead of doing what has become the normal morning routine for me over the last two weeks (while being sick), I got up, took a shower, and decided to get back to it. Back to the real focus. Back to at least trying to regain that focus, anyway. So I journaled. And I prayed. And I didn't know what to read in my Bible until I remembered the commitment I had made last week at church to read a Proverb every day. (oops!) So I read Proverbs 15. And I prayed through it. And, although I don't believe I received any extra special revelation meant just for me, I do believe God spoke through the quiet. And He refreshed my self. And He's renewing the focus. Ahhhhh....
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