Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Great Adventure

It's 3:30 in the morning.  I am all dressed and ready to go.  The words of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman are running through my head..."I set off on a great adventure, the day my father starting leading me home..."

I am setting off on an adventure in just a few minutes that has been years in the making.  I am heading to Haiti to go love on some orphans.  I have no misguided idea that I am off to make their lives better.   I know full well whose life is about to be changed and improved!  And I am so excited to see God in a whole new light!

Can't wait to share with you when I get back.  But now..."I'm off on a great adventure..."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Should Be Running But I'm Not

I should be running right now.  I should be, but I'm not.  I didn't want to.  Even though I know I'm supposed to.  Even thoughI know that this race is going to be that much harder with every run I skip.  I still skipped today.  Not to sleep in, not because I was sick, just because I didn't want to.  I seriously failed at self control and self discipline today.  

Self control has ALWAYS been a struggle for me.  I seriously lack any kind of discipline in my life.  When it comes to eating, exercising, cleaning, studying, whatever it might be, I am not a disciplined person.  This is one character trait I have always desired but never fully possessed.  Yes I can be disciplined at times, sometimes even two times in a row.  But long term, consistent discipline?  Not so much.

I have been working on memorizing this verse from 2 Peter 1:5 "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love."

I have a strong faith.  But I want more.  So I am trying to add to that faith goodness, a goodness that other people can see.  A goodness that goes beyond doing the right thing in my actions and words.  But that is harder than I anticipated.  

It is one thing to have knowledge, to KNOW what it is you are supposed to do.  I study the scriptures (not as much as I should, again discipline is an issue for me), and I know what God asks of me and how Jesus calls me to live.  And I'm guessing that a lot of you know this too.  But then it takes self control to DO that.   And this is where I struggle.  

Doing what I know I am supposed to do, all the time, that is SO HARD for me!!!  I think that is why after self-control Peter says add perseverance.  Even I can have self control once or twice.  But every time?  Consistently doing what I am supposes to do?  Persevering in the choices I make daily?  No way.  I fail far more than I succeed.  But that is what perseverance is right?  Not giving up, but trying again and again.  Every time I have the choice to choose differently.  I don't have to make the poor decision just because that is the one I usually make.  I can choose correctly THIS time.  And the next time.   And the time after that...  

But eventually, I will mess it up.  I will make the wrong choice, I will lack self control.  

This is where grace comes in.  This is where Jesus picks up what I cannot do.  I will never have this down.  Self control is something I will struggle with all my life.  But Jesus knows that, and he loves me anyway.  He loves imperfect me, perfectly.  Even when I should be running, but I'm not.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sleepless Nights

I found myself lying in bed last night wide awake.  It was 4:00 in the morning.  And it wasn't the only time this weekend that happened.  It has been happening more and more to me lately.  And for a girl who REALLY likes her sleep, I am finding this very disturbing.  

I have traditionally been a sleep through the night person, but for some reason I have had a lot of trouble getting a good night sleep this summer.  I think maybe all the upcoming transitions are starting to set in.  I have started to realize that this thing I said I was going to do.  This thing I want to do, and strongly believe God is asking me to do, is about to start.  And it isn't going to be easy.  

It's not that I thought it was going to be easy, but I think I naively thought I could just squeeze it into the extra time I have during the day.  Now I'm not so sure.  My identify the last 10 years has been that of a wife and a mother.  My family has come first.  I have made sacrifices and changed big parts of me, to be better at serving them.  That is who I am, a wife and a mother.  And I think I thought that is who I would remain to be.  My identity wouldn't change during this process.  But I think it will, I think it has too.  I will still be a wife and a mother and my family will ALWAYS come first.  But now when someone asks about me, I won't answer with what my kids and my husband are doing, I will answer with what I am doing.  And maybe that is a good thing.  

There will be sleepless nights to come, I recognize that now.  Some will be because my husband is out of town (I never sleep well when he's gone), some will be because I am worried about my kids, and some of them will be because I'm in seminary.  I'm doing something for me and it's not going to be easy.

Friday, August 24, 2012

What Do You Do When You Want to Quit

I am training for my second marathon right now and today I had a long run.  A REALLY long run!  One of the longest I'll have to do.  And I have to say, it sucked!!  By mile 12 I wanted to quit.

When I was training the first time my "go-to" verse when things got tough was always Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us  throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."  But this verse didn't seem to do it for me today.

Today, I wasn't surrounded by a crowd of witnesses.  You see, I normally run with at least 1, if not 2 or 3, running partners.  But one is nursing an injury and one wasn't feeling well.  My newest running partner just started running a week ago!  She ran farther today than she ever has AND was still smiling at the end!!!  I am so proud of her!  That still left a lot of my run to finish alone, without my crowd of witnesses.

Now, it's not that I'm afraid of being myself, I don't fall apart when left alone for an hour or two.  I can handle periods of quiet reflection, really I can, honest.  It's just that I'm kind of an extrovert.  I'm energized by being around other people, not to mention completely entertained by my running partners.   So I kind of hate running alone.  

Then around mile 13 I realized I had made a horrible mistake...  I had saved the hills for the end.  This was an intentional decision on my part, the race only has one big hill and it is between miles 21-23,  I need to train running hills at the end, when I'm already tired.  But 3 steps into the first of two hills I had to run,  I became convinced I wasn't going to be able to do it.  And I wanted to quit.  Have you ever been there?  I'm sure you have.

Your at the end of your_______(whatever it might be, you fill in the blank).  You're tired, you're running uphill, and you're all alone.  And it sucks!!!  And you want to quit.  What do you do?

The worst part about that first hill, the WORST, was knowing I still had one more hill to go.  One more hill when I would be even more tired and still going uphill and still alone.  I was in a bad place.  I know you've been there too (probably concerning something much more significant than a training run).  What do you do when you want to quit?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 1:2-4

What do you do when you want to quit?  You don't.  You persevere.  You put one foot in front of the other, take a really deep breath and do it again, one foot in front of the other.  And you don't quit.

You don't quit.  You don't quit the run, you don't quit the marriage, you don't quit the relationship.  You persevere.  

You don't have to do this alone either.  Even when it feels like you are all alone, so alone it hurts, you're not.  There is someone you can call out to day or night and he will listen and he will give you comfort, every time.  He loves you that much!

I must have said this to myself a hundred times today.  It became the cadence that I ran that last mile to...

What do you do when you want to quit? You don't.  You persevere.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pick Only One

This sign is outside of the baseball fields where Nate, my 8 year old, plays ball.  I love it!  It's a great message (especially to todays over-competative parents).  Most of us are the spectators, our job is to show up and cheer our kids on.  We get to celebrate the great plays and encourage them through the tough ones, and that's it.  We don't get to tell the boys how to play the game, when to run or when to slide.  We don't call the outs.  We don't call the strikes.  We are the spectators, we are there to watch.

Some people are the coaches.  They get to decide how their team is going to play the game. They get to teach the boys what position to play, where to throw the ball, and when to run.  But they don't get to call the game, that is the umpires job. 

If your not the umpire, and most people aren't, then you don't get to decide if someone is out or safe, if the pitch was a ball or a strike.  It's not your call, that's the umps job.  

This sign is a reminder every time you walk into the ball fields that you have to make a choice.  And you can choose only one.  Who are you going to be?

Last night this sign reminded me of another choice I have been given.  When Jesus walked the Earth people flocked to him just like we flock to the baseball diamonds today.  And the people that surrounded him fit into one of 3 different categories, but only one.

First there were the pharisees.  These were the people who neither needed Jesus, believed in Jesus nor respected Jesus.  Though they had been taught all their lives to look for the coming messiah, they were so pleased with how they were living their lives, and confident that they had all the answers, that they missed him completely.  Nobody wants to be a pharisee, but make no mistake about it, they are still out there today.  They may go by a different name but there are still plenty of people who believe that THEY have all the answers and have no need or desire to follow some one else.

On the complete other end of the spectrum were the disciples.  These people LOVED Jesus, they believed in Jesus and not only followed where he went but DID WHAT HE SAID.  Yes, they made mistakes, there were times that they doubted, there were times they were prideful.  They didn't always get it right.  But for the most part, they gave up their old life for a life with Jesus, lived His way.  There are still disciples here today.  People who would rather live the life Jesus has planned for them then the life our culture desires.  There are a few who have given up their "old life" for a new life in Christ.  And you can see it, in the choices they make, the words that they say, and the life that they live.

The other group,and for me this is the hardest one, was the crowd.  Have you noticed that everywhere Jesus went there was a crowd around him?  The crowd followed him everywhere and many of them became disciples, but some of them, just stayed "the crowd".  The crowd listened to him, like what he said and the promises he made.  But they didn't "follow" him, not really.  There was no life change, they didn't look or do anything differently after hearing his words.  The listened to a good message, then went home and did the same thing they always did.  They were just the crowd.  And there is nothing special about the crowd.  There is a pretty big crowd around us today.  People who like the stories and the promises but just aren't willing to make the sacrifices.  They spend their life in the crowd, missing out.  Just watching.

Today you have a choice to make.  Which one are you going to be?  You can be the pharisee, you can be the disciple or you can be the crowd.  But you can pick only one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Out of My Comfort Zone

Today was my new student orientation at seminary.  I chuckle because I am hardly a "new" student.  At least today no one called me old, asked what I taught or confused me with an old lady needing help crossing the street.  

There were a lot of us there, all from different places, all with different dreams.  Some were getting ready to go overseas, some had just gotten in from other states, and some of us call Kansas City home.  Some were just married, some just met their roommate for the first time, and a few of us have families.  Some were there because they already knew they wanted lead a church, some wanted to be counselors and some, like me, weren't quite sure what they were going to do.   But we all sat together, got to know each other, and shared our stories.   

We were all different, none of them looked like me.  And for the first time (quite possibly the first time EVER), I rejoiced in that.  I was...I am... officially out of my comfort zone!  And that is EXACTLY where I want to be!  God has really been writing this on my heart this summer.  To get out of my comfort zone, meet people who aren't like me, spread his love and his message to others.  Ok, so probably seminary isn't where I need to share God's love with others, I mean, they probably already know all about him, right?  But I WAS out of my comfort zone, and I LIKED it!!  So maybe, just maybe, this will give me the courage to reach out in other ways too.  

Monday, August 20, 2012


So I'm still in the book of John.  I know, it's taking me awhile, I'm REALLY going to have to step up this reading if I think I can handle seminary.  But there is something I read last week that I just can't seem to get off my mind.  At the beginning of chapter 9 Jesus is healing the man who has been blind from  birth, and there is a part of the story I have never noticed before... 

The NIV says it this way, "After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing."

So here is my question.  Why did Jesus spit on the ground and make the clay?  On numerous occasions, Jesus healed by words alone.  He repeatedly performed miracles simply by speaking. In the 5th chapter of John, Jesus healed the paralytic by the Sheep Gate simply by saying "Get up! Pick up your mat and walk."  Even when he wasn't near the person who was sick, Jesus was able to heal them.  In the book of Luke, a Roman Centurion begs Jesus to heal his sick servant and when Jesus agrees to go with him the centurion replies, "I do not deserve to have you come under my roof...but say the word, and my servant will be healed".  And Jesus heals him, without ever laying eyes on him.
 There are even times when Jesus essentially did nothing and healing came.  Remember the woman in the book of Matthew who simply touched Jesus robe and received healing?  In this story, Jesus could have healed him with words alone (or even less), so why bother with the spitting and the clay?  Why was that necessary?

My devotional says "The clay encouraged the man to display faith."  Hmmm.  

Jesus told the bleeding woman in Matthew "Your faith has healed you".

In Luke, Jesus was amazed by the faith of the centurion.

Is it all about faith?

This is what I have been thinking about for the past week.  Does God do that today?  Does he still do things to "encourage our faith"?

It's true that faith is a spiritual gift. It's listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12 as one of them.   It comes easily for some and is very challenging for others.  For me, it has generally come pretty easy (though I can think of some pretty specific times when I have lacked faith and it cost me dearly).  So I am absolutely fascinated by this idea that God will give us what we need to encourage our faith!  Has he done that for me?  Have there been times in my life when my faith has been encouraged?  ABSOLUTELY!!!  I have been encouraged by the words God wrote for me, by the people he has put in my life and even sometimes by really tangible things like a check in the mail at the PERFECT time.

My faith is strong.  It is one of my spiritual gifts, but I know it's not every ones.  If you struggle with this then I want to be one of the ways God encourages YOU to display faith.  

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see."  Hebrews 11:1.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hank (part 2)

By the time Hank, our 100 pound shepherd/lab mix, was 2 years old there was no fence that could hold him in.  He didn't jump over them.  He didn't dig under them.  He simply plowed his way through them.  He would head butt and push his way through until the nails gave out, the board loosened and he could make his great escape.  When we replaced the nails with screws he would pound the fence until the actual boards split.  What did he do with his new found freedom?  He would run to the front yard, lay down and wait for us.  Seriously.  All that pain and hard work was just to get to the front yard.  I think he felt he good take better care of us from the front.  He could see who was coming and going and keep us safe from any harm.  I'm not saying he never wandered off, but the majority of the time, after a "prison break" we would simply look for him in the front and there he was, standing (or more accurately laying) guard.

These days, we don't even try.  Hank spends most of his days out in our front yard watching over the neighborhood.  He has become a bit of a neighborhood icon.  When we meet new families at the pool, they will say "Oh your the family with that huge dog that just lays in the front yard!  What a great dog!"  Almost all the kids in the neighborhood know him by name.  Of course the only time you won't find him in our front yard is if the kids are playing at a neighbors house.  Because Hank goes with them.  He follows them to whoever's house they go to and then lays down at the front door and waits for them to walk them back home!   I know exactly where my kids are at all times, all I have to do is look for Hank and I know whose house they are at.  God blessed us with neighbors who enjoy Hank as much as we do and they don't seem to mind when he lies on their front stoop waiting for his kids.

One day Isabella and the girl next door were playing together.  When my neighbor stepped outside she didn't see the girls so she asked Hank, "Hank where are the girls?"  Hank got up, trotted to the back and sure enough, Isabella and her friend were playing on the swings!

When we walk the kids to school, Hank goes with us.  When the older two were each in kindergarten I would have to go inside to get them.  So Hank would stay outside, hooked to JT's empty stroller and wait for us, no matter how long it took!  He would just sit there and wait for us to come out.  DELIGHTED to see us when we did.  One day, I was volunteering in the class so I didn't take Hank.  My husband didn't realize this and let Hank out shortly after I left home.  When I walked out of school an hour later there was Hank.  He had walked himself down to school and sat there waiting for us to come out!

The love Hank has for his family is inspirational.  He offers each one of us unconditional love, instant forgiveness, and at times, fierce protection.  He lets nothing stand between him and his family and will follow us, literally, anywhere we go.  I have learned a lot from this dog.  Here is just a few things

I.  Love with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30) I know Jesus said this but Hank LIVES it!

2. Love always protects, always trusts.  (1 Corinthians 13:7) Who knew Hank studied the scriptures?

3.  There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  (Proverbs 18:24)

4.  I will lie down and sleep in peace, (Psalm 4:8)  Hank has ALWAYS appreciated a good nap!

The results are back,  Hank has cancer.  Writing the words make it seem much more real.  There isn't anything we can do.  He's old.  We will just watch and see.  He seems to be doing great right now. They didn't give us a time frame.  We may have a few months, we may have a few more years.  But the dog I really was hoping would live forever, won't.  I knew he wouldn't but still...

So in the time I have left with him I will try to love him as perfectly as he has loved us.  I will love him with everything I have, I will protect him in anyway I can, I will stick close to him as long he is here, I will play with him and rest with him.  Because he is the best dog God ever put on the Earth!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Over Scheduled and Overwhelmed

Yesterday was a typical Monday around our house.  4:30 found Isabella and I out at the stables for her riding lessons.  Nate was at home with a buddy while Erik worked in the office upstairs.  JT was at a friends house.

We left the stables at 5:30 swung by to pick up JT and arrived home at 6:00.  Nate's friend had been picked up by his dad (as was arranged).  I had dinner on the table in 10minutes (ok so it was leftovers, not gourmet, but it was food).  And 40 minutes later I was heading back out the door.  My comment to Erik as I flew out the door was something like this "I fed the dog, fed the cat, fed the kids, fed you.  You have clean sheets on the bed (he was sick all day yesterday) and so does JT (he wet the bed the night before)  his comforter is in the dryer.  Now I'm off to save some orphans. I should be home by 9! Love you baby!"  Ok, I wasn't REALLY saving orphans but I WAS attending a team meeting for my upcoming trip to Haiti, where I will interact with orphans.  Close, right?

I couldn't help but think as I raced to the meeting I was pretty sure I was going to be late to, "Are we over scheduled?"  I have tried SO hard NOT to over schedule us.   There isn't a parenting book I have read that hasn't stated that we are over scheduling our kids.  Counselors say it, statistics prove it, experts preach it.  American kids are over scheduled!!  So I have tried.  I REALLY have.  I have said no when my kids ask to do 2 sports at once.  I have said no to scouts (and I DO understand the merits of being an Eagle Scout, I really do).  I have said no to music lessons (and I KNOW statistics prove how beneficial this is to young minds).  I have said no to leading VBS at church, and half a dozen other things I'm asked to help with.  We can't possibly be over scheduled can we???

Honestly, with a family of 5 it's pretty easy to get over scheduled.  With all 3 kids in some kind of activity, it is pretty often that things overlap, I spend more time in my car that out of it, and someone is having to catch a ride with a friend.  Family dinners get missed.  When I talk to other moms about this I hear things like "yes, that is the season of life we are in"  or "it's just for a short time" or "but they WANT to do all these things"  or "I want them to be able to try different things" or "if we don't start them young they won't stand a chance at doing it later".  These are all true.  But does that make it right?  Is that really what is BEST for our kids?  They are also in the season of childhood.  Have we forgotten that season?  It's a really short season too.  When I was a kid I wanted to do a lot of different things that my parents said no to because it wasn't in my best interest (like drive a car at the age of 12, jump out of the tree onto a pillow, or eat only cereal for a month straight).  We are the parents, we know what's best for them.  It is important to give kids an opportunity to try different things.  That's true.  It's also important for them to be a kid.  My husband was a Division 1 college athlete in a sport he didn't start until late high school.

 We ARE over scheduled. All of us.  Even my family at times.  It seems to almost be a badge of honor to some of us. "You think your over scheduled?  What about this..."  And then we don't understand why we are stressed out and overwhelmed.  It is SUCH a part of this culture that I'm not joking I feel GUILTY when I'm not over scheduled.  When I hear other moms complain about their schedule and I spent the afternoon just hanging and playing with the kids, I feel REALLY guilty!!!  That's not right!

So from here on out, I will not feel guilty.  I will rejoice in the time I have with my kids.  I will read a book.  I will say no and smile as I set the table for a family dinner (maybe they will even eat the vegetables tonight).  What about you?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Old Lady on Campus

I've known from the beginning that I was not going to be the typical seminary student.  I am 12 years past my post-graduate degree.  I have 3 children.  I'm 3_ years old (you didn't REALLY think I would put my age did you?).  I am perfectly aware I will be older than most of the other students.  So why did friday night come as such a surprise to me?

Friday night there was a picnic for new students at the home of one of the professors.  We were encouraged to bring our families and get to know each other and some of the staff members.  So I loaded up the husband and 2 of the 3 kids (my oldest wasn't able to clear her busy social calendar for mom) and off we went.  Yep, I was the oldest new student there.  No surprise right?  What did surprise me was when 2 different people, (yes 2, completely independent of each other) came up and asked me if I was a staff member!!  Suddenly I look old enough to be a tenured professor!!!!  I simply smiled and told them  no I was going to be a new student too.  Luckily neither of them passed out from the shock, I'm not sure I would have revived them!  Just kidding, I would have...eventually.

At another point in the evening several of the new students were chatting and one of them made the comment that it was going to be hard to get back into the habit of studying after being off for 2 months for summer.  SERIOUSLY?? 2 months?  Try a decade, kid!!!  What was I thinking?!?!?  I left that picnic with a serious case of "What have I done?!?"

It's been a couple of days though and I have had time to process this a little bit.  There are advantages to going into this at my age and with my experience.  Yes I'm not the traditional student but that doesn't mean I'm less of a student.  I don't EVER want to stop growing, stop learning, stop trying to become what God wants me to be or do what He wants me to do.  If that means I spend my 30's and 40's in seminary as the old lady on campus than I will.  I will do it proudly.

We are promised in Psalm 32:8 "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.  I will counsel you and watch over you."  This is where he has instructed me to go.  This is where I belong right now.  I will trust in him always.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Let me introduce you to Hank.  Hank is my 100+ pound sheppard/lab mix.  And quite possibly the best dog God ever put on this Earth.  I know I'm biased, but he is a pretty amazing dog!  Think of the dog Nanny in Disney's Peter Pan and you've just about got Hank.  The baby in this picture isn't even ours, but Hank loves him just the same!

Hank came into our lives 12 years ago, he was just a puppy Erik and I  adopted from a shelter long before we had kids.  He was this little golden colored puppy in the middle of a litter of chocolate ones.  He was bigger than all the rest and a clear case of "which one of these is not like the other?" I was looking for a dog I could call Hank and he was looking for...  It was love at first sight!

We adopted him at the beginning of summer and since I was working for a school district at the time I got the first 3 months at home with him, kind of like maternity leave!  Maybe that's why he has always been more than just a dog to us.  When we adopted him we were told he would be about 70 pounds.  When we took him to the vet they thought closer to 80.  At his next checkup they increased that to 90 pounds and by the time he was 6 months old they told us he would most likely be over 100 pounds.  We stopped taking him in for checkups!  Just kidding.

It was clear Hank was going to be huge so we knew we would need him well trained.  Frankly, at 100 pounds there wasn't much I was going to be able to do physically to control him.  I had to be the one in charge.  So we found someone to help us.  He was a retired dog trainer who used to train the KC, MO police dogs.  He loved Hank and Hank loved him, and he taught us SO MUCH.  It helps that Hank is the best dog God ever put on this Earth! (I know, again with the bias).

The thing is, Hank REALLY is that good.  From the get go he has been AMAZING especially with kids.  We didn't have kids when we adopted Hank so we would make sure he was socialized with children every chance we got.  We would take him to the local parks, Hank PULLING on the leash the whole way there, me barely able to keep up.  Then we would get there and he would just let the children climb all over him, children we didn't know!  They would take the leash and he would just stand there, then walk slowly right beside them anywhere they led!  On the way home he was pulling at the leash just as fiercely as he was on the way there.  He just understood he needed to be gentle with the little puppy people (I'm pretty sure that is what Hank called them!).

We worried a little bit when we found out we were expecting our first child.  How would Hank adjust?  We need not have worried.  Hank took to the new baby the way a mother bear takes to her cub.  He was fiercely protective of her the moment we brought her home.  He was always intimidating when a stranger came to the door.  But now, beware!

One night when Isabella was a couple months old some friends of ours said the would babysit so we could go out for dinner.  What a treat!  So I fed her and put her down for a nap in her carseat (no judgement please, it was her favorite place to sleep!).  All our friends had to do was watch her nap.  Clearly Hank doubted our parenting skills, because he did not think these people were worthy of caring for HIS baby.  After we left, Hank walked over to the carseat and laid down right in front of the baby, between her and our friends (whom Hank knew well), as if saying, "you'll have to get through me first!"  Luckily we weren't gone long and were back before she woke up.  But our friends joke to this day, that Hank did more babysitting than they did!

That is just one of the million stories I have about Hank.  I'm sure you will be hearing a lot more of them in the days to come.  Hank is in surgery right now.  He is having a tumor removed.  A tumor we know is melanoma but don't know anything else yet.  My heart is breaking.  I know dogs don't live forever.  But somehow, I kinda thought he would.  I still kinda hope he will.  Because he's Hank, the best dog God ever put on this Earth.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I'm kind of a list person.  I start my day with the list of things I need/want to accomplish in that day.  Things that really I should just do I put on the list for the sheer joy of crossing them off, things like "devotions" or "run".  I've been known to even put "take a shower" on my list!  Just so I get to cross it off!  I get this list making from my mom.  I once ran across a list of hers that was titled "Lists I Need to Make".  Yes, she made a list of her lists!

Now, I don't let the lists rule my life.  I am allowed to do things that aren't on my list, like eat or breath. And it is a rare day indeed when I get everything crossed of my list.  I'm perfectly ok with carrying something over to tomorrows list.  You know I will have one, I'm a list person.

At least I was...  I'm in the process of reading "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself"  by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert.  This isn't exactly what I choose to read in my free time, it's assigned reading for an upcoming trip to Haiti.  But the book has been great and it really makes you think!  In one section the authors discuss the cultural differences that impact the effectiveness of short-term missions trips.  One of the HUGE cultural differences that I personally had never thought of was our view of time.

To most Americans "time is money!"  Time is something that can be wasted, it is finite and a very valuable resource.  We desire to accomplish as much as we can in the short amount of time we have.  And no matter how much time we have, it's never enough.  We make lists to increase our efficiency, we set alerts on our phone to keep us on schedule, we are highly productive and as a whole, we put out a lot of "product" at the end of the day.

Other cultures, like in Mexico, Africa and the Middle East don't view time this way.  They view time as unlimited, they have "all the time in the world."  Schedules are more like suggestions than really how they plan to spend the day.  More important than accomplishing any task is forming a deep relationship with the people around them.  As a result these cultures don't have a big end "product" at the end of their day, but they have strong family roots and a community that is close.

This has really made me think.  Which one would I rather be like?  Would I rather get my list done or build a relationship?  Would I rather put a product out or nurture a friendship?  Would I rather have a  clean house or play with my kids? (if you've read this blog before you know that answer!)  I know that there are times that we need to get things done.  Jobs are demanding, houses do need to be cleaned (occasionally), and errands need to be run.  But you can't deny that relationships need to be built, friendships need to be nurtured and kids need to be played with.  I think I know what I choose, at least today.  I'm putting my list away.  Just someone remind me to shower!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Don't Worry, Be Thankful

Today I'm worried.  I'm not normally a worrier, but today I woke up worried.

I'm worried about my kids:  about school starting, who their teachers will be, if their friends will be in their class, if I've done what I need to do to prepare them, if they are really growing in their faith.

I'm worried about my school starting; am I ready, will I be able to do this, will I still be able to be the mom and wife I want to be?

I'm worried about the dog.  He might be sick, really sick, he has surgery Friday and we will know more then.

I'm worried about finances.  With school starting and kids growing, and a possibly sick dog I feel like we are hemorrhaging money right now.

I'm worried about a friend who has let herself get very sick.  I worry about her a lot.

I'm worried about a lot of things and I'm not normally a worrier.

The bible has a lot to say about worrying. In a nutshell,  it says don't.  But sometimes I do.  What then?

One of my favorite passages on worrying says "Do not  be anxious about ANYTHING but in everything, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, presents your requests to God" Philippians 4:6 (emphasis mine).

So I tried that.  I prayed a prayer full of thanksgiving.  I'm not gonna lie.  I cried big tears while I prayed this prayer.  I do have a lot to be thankful for.  I know that.  The kids will be fine, they attend a great school, with good teachers and good kids.  And I am very thankful for that.  School is going to be fine.  And I have to believe that since God loves them EVEN MORE than I do, his grace will cover my mistakes.  Thankful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about that!

My school, though it still scares me, will be fine too.  I'm a smart girl, I will figure this out.  God will not let me fail if this is what he REALLY wants me to do!  I am thankful I have the opportunity to go where he is asking me to go.

My dog Hank. Well, that still makes me cry.  But I have had 12 years with the best dog God ever put on this planet. And maybe everything will be fine.  God is in control even of the beasts right?  Of that I am thankful.

We will be fine financially, that is what savings are for.  God has provided for us time and time again.  And thanks to the difficult times in our life, we have a pretty good savings.  We are going to be fine.  Who knew I would EVER be thankful for that year we were without a job!

My friend.  I have to trust again that God loves her even more than I do and she is going to be fine.  Something will click and she will get better.  I'm thankful she came to us when she did.

The next verse in Philippians, after Paul tells you what to do instead of worrying, promises this, "and the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  It transcends understanding why just praying about something could make it better.  I don't know why that should work.  But I do know that it does.  Maybe it was the cry fest I just had, or maybe, just maybe, it was the prayer.  But my heart and mind are lighter, more clear.  I'm not as weighed down.

I'm not as worried, of course I'm really not a worrier...

Monday, August 6, 2012

I Don't Want To Be a Pharisee

School starts soon.

Foremost in my mind has been getting the kids ready for their first day of school.  Supplies have been bought, first day of school clothes picked out.  Teachers prayed over.  They start next week.  Summer is coming to an end.

In the back of my mind, the realization that once they start school I will soon start too has been growing.  I'm not as convinced that I am ready for MY school to start.  My heart rate increases just thinking about it.

I think the one thing I fear the most, well that's not entirely true, more accurately, one of the MANY things I fear is this thought that came to me awhile back.  I first started out in ministry at this little church in the heart of Westport in Kansas City, MO.  It was an urban church for  sure, full of broken people trying to rebuild their lives.  My husband and I led the children's ministry and on occasion I would talk on sunday mornings to "big church" as we call it in our family.  I loved this chance to share what God was teaching me with the adults.  I had no real training but our pastor put together a teaching team to help train and encourage a handful of us who wanted to be bible teachers.  We would always joke when it was our turn to speak in big church that it didn't matter if we had seminary degrees or not. The disciples  didn't have seminary degrees did they?  The "spiritually educated" people in Jesus time were the pharisees, and who wanted to be a pharisee!

This thought came to my mind a few weeks ago.  I remembered laughing with my friends on the teaching team (2 of which our now full time pastors) that we didn't need seminary.  That was 5 years ago.  Now I am getting ready to start my first seminary class in just a few weeks.  And all I can think about is "I don't want to be a pharisee".  In John today, I read about how Jesus ridiculed the pharisees for studying the scripture but not understanding it.  I don't want that to be me.  The pharisees were proud, judgmental of others, and consider themselves above reproach.  I don't want to be like that.

I am desperate to live the life God wants me to live, to serve him with all that I have and the gifts he has given me.  But I have to say that I am scared of this path.  I'm not sure I can do it, I'm not sure I want to do it, that I'm supposed to to do it.  I don't want to be a pharisee!  There is a certain humility that comes with being uneducated.  I don't have most of the answers my kids ask.  I don't have sage words of wisdom to give my friends.  I would make a horrible counselor.  I recognize on an hourly basis how far I am from who God wants me to be.  But what if I do become that person?  Will it change who I am on the inside?  Will I become prideful? Judgmental? Will I become a pharisee?

I don't want to be a pharisee.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Go Fish

I'm not a fisherman.  Never have been.  I've tried it a couple of times and never really enjoyed it.  It was kind of boring, a little smelly and less face it, there is NO WAY I'm going to clean a fish!! So really, what's the point?  

But God calls us to be fisherman!  I know, I know, not really for fish, but for men.  But let me tell you I have ALWAYS struggled with this, because frankly, I don't like to fish!!

My daily devotional has me working my way through the book of John right now.  And this morning the devotion once again really spoke to me.  The scripture was from John 4 when Jesus met the Samaritan woman to the well.  The devotion pointed out that Jesus CHOSE to talk the road less traveled (didn't he always!).  Typically, Jews wouldn't travel through Samaria but would go MILES out of their way to avoid crossing paths with these unworthy people.  But the Bible says Jesus "had to go through Samaria".  He HAD to, this is why he was sent here.  Not to avoid the unworthy but to embrace them.  Because Jesus went where no other Jews would go the Samaritan woman, her family and friends were saved.  They put their faith in Him and they were saved.  

Jesus was truly a "fisher of men".  

How many people have I brought to Christ?  Honestly?  Not many, think of a number that looks a lot like the letter "O".   That's embarrassing.  I would like to think that I have been a part of many peoples journey, maybe I was influential to someone at sometime, maybe some child understands God more fully because of something I have said, maybe someone is now closer to God.  But I have not taken someone's hand and led them down the road, all the way to the finish.  I have not been any kind of fisherman.  But then I don't really like to fish.  I don't spend a lot of time in places where fishing happens.  I'm not talking about a lake here.

I would be the person walking miles out of my way to avoid Samaria.  Not because I didn't want to be around the unworthy necessarily.  More because that is what I was taught to do.  That's what everyone else did.  So that is what I did.  That doesn't make it right.  In fact, it is very, very wrong.  And this really hit home today.  If I'm going to be a fisher of men, I need to be where the fish are.  And fish tend to stay out of the highly populated areas.  

If I want to be the fisherman God is calling me to be I need to go where the fish are.  I need to step out of my comfort zone and Go Fish!