Monday, October 29, 2012

Will You Get Back in the Saddle?

Isabella was in a horse show this weekend.  

It's only the second show she's ever been in.  And this time she was riding a horse, not a pony, a HORSE!  He is as gentle as gentle can be, but he is huge!  And my little girl looked SO small sitting on top of him.  She has been riding Cowboy, that's the horse, for awhile now so they were used to each other, but it still gets me every time I see her on him.

She was nervous, not to ride Cowboy, just to be in the show.  Cowboy was nervous, not because of Isabella, he just was.  It was a bad combination.  On a good day Cowboy doesn't like to go slow.  He will walk if he has to but he hates to trot, he would MUCH rather canter or better yet, gallop.  NOT a good idea for a show.  

The first time around they missed the very first jump.  They had to circle around and start again, her daddy and I cringed a little but she didn't give up.  She placed last in that class but she didn't let it get her down.  Her daddy and I thought maybe the nerves had worked themselves out and we were ready to cheer her on in the next class.  

The second time around they started out beautifully.  She looked great, Cowboy looked great, they cleared the first four jumps effortlessly.  Then, on the fifth jump something went wrong Cowboy took off for the jump too early (really this is up to the rider to control but I'm that rider's momma so I'm going to blame it on the horse!) and Isabella lost a stirrup, she landed rough. The last jump, jump number six comes right after jump five.  There is no chance to reorganize and just before the last jump Isabella was thrown from the horse.

I don't know exactly what happened.  I was recording and so focused on the picture on the camera that I heard the gasp of the crowd before I realized it was MY daughter that was thrown.  She popped right up, completely fine and uninjured, but had to walk off the course.  Needless to say she finished last in that class too.  

Now, honestly, how easy would it be at this point to just give up?  Isabella had NEVER fallen from a horse before.  She has been riding for over a year and never even come CLOSE to leaving the saddle.  This is was going to be the turning point.  Things had officially gotten hard.  Would she walk away or get back in the saddle?  

I know for a lot of people this wouldn't be an easy decision.  There are too many people who choose to walk away when things get hard.  Too many people who won't get back in the saddle once they've been thrown.  Too many people give up when the going gets tough.  What was my daughter going to do?  I had my suspicions, but I honestly didn't know.  I was on my way to check on her, to make sure she wasn't hurt when I saw it.  My daughter's head high above all the others, already sitting atop of Cowboy again.  I don't think my heart has ever swelled so big, I was that full of pride.  

She went right back out there, ready for her third class, and you know what?  She got first place in that class!  First place out of six.  First place when she had finished dead last the last two times.  First place when it would have been JUST as easy to walk away, to say this is too hard, to just give up.  

There are lots of silly things I keep, memories of different stages my kids have gone through, the blankies they loved, the pictures they painted.  Some would say I keep too much stuff.  There are other things I've gotten rid of, toys we loved but are done with, certificates representing who knows what, pictures they painted.  Some would say I have gotten rid of too much.  But that first place ribbon?  That is something I will NEVER get rid of! 

When things get hard, when you are thrown off the horse, will you get back in the saddle?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Conversations with God

I had a conversation with God today.

It went something like this...

God:  "That thing you keep holding on to? Yeah, you need to give that up."

Me: (sigh) "Really?"

God:  "Yes, really!"

Me: (sigh again) "But I really like this thing!"

God:  "I know, but it's keeping you from being the person I want you to be"

Me: (triple sigh) "I know.  But I've come so far in the last few years, can't I stop growing just for a little bit?"

God: "No"

Me:  "Yeah, I kind of thought you might say that"

God:  "I have great things planned for you and I want you to be ready for them"

Me:  "I know, and I want that too, but I also kind of really want this thing too"

God:  "But you can't have both"

Me:  "OK but, that "great thing" you planned isn't here yet, so can't I hold onto this until I get there?"

God:  "But you will never get there as long as you hold on to this."

Me: (more sighing) "Yeah, I kind of thought you might say that too."

How much more sun and water do you think I will need before I will be done growing?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Way Everlasting

What do you do when you know it's time?  

You've held out as long as you can, but it's time.

You've made every excuse under the sun, even created a few new ones.  But there are no excuses left.

There is no more procrastinating, no more stalling, no more maybe laters, the time is now.

It's time to pray the hard prayer.  The one you knew was coming but have held off praying because you were afraid of the answer.

The prayer that you know just might change everything.  And you are really, REALLY scared of what that change might look like.  

Have you ever been there?

I felt this for the first time 2 years ago.  I was sitting at my kitchen table doing a bible study and I was urged to pray  Psalm 139:23-24.

                               "Search me, O God, and know my heart;
                                test me and know my anxious thoughts.
                                See if there is any offensive way in me, 
                                and lead me in the way everlasting."

Here's the problem, I was a little afraid of what God might find if I asked Him to look in my heart (I know, I know, He already knew what was in my heart, but I wasn't proud of it), and I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be able to pass ANY kind of test He put before me.  And as far as offensive ways in me?  Well, there was plenty to choose from.  

Why would I pray this knowing I was going to fail?  Knowing my heart was ugly, I wouldn't pass the test and just about everything about me was offensive!!  What was this author thinking?!?

After sitting there at the table for quite some time, I did it.  I prayed the prayer.  I cried most of the way through, as I have a tendency to do, but I got through it.  And you know what happened at end of that prayer? Something utterly amazing, I heard the voice of God for the very first time in my life. 

 I was 35 years old, sitting at my kitchen table and I heard the Spirit of God speaking into my heart for the very first time.  You know what he said?  He said, my heart was pure, I had passed the test and he was already leading me in the way everlasting.   He said some other stuff too but that's just between God and I.  

The time has come dear friend.  It might not be THIS prayer, but there is a prayer you have been needing to pray.  Maybe you need to pray a prayer of true repentance, maybe you need to forgive someone.  Maybe you need to ask Christ into your heart for the very first time or give your life to Him all over again.  Or maybe, like me, you need to pray Psalm 139:23-24. Whatever it might be, I know it scares you.  Trust me, I know.  I've been there.  But I urge you to pray it!  I promise God will not disappoint you.  He only wants His very best for you.  

and He will lead you in the way everlasting...

Friday, October 19, 2012

What You Do When No One is Watching

What do you do when know one is watching?

What do you watch on TV when you're all by yourself?

What do you read when you're the only one there?

Are you the person you claim to be when no one is looking?

Integrity is "a consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations, and outcomes".  It means being the same on the inside as you are on the outside.  All the time.  Even when you are by yourself.  Are you consistent even when there is no one there to hold you accountable?  Are you structurally sound?

This was the subject of my bible study reading this last week.  And as God usually does, he gave me multiple opportunities to practice this VERY thing in the last few days.  Am I going to be the Christian I claim to be? Will I do the right thing even when no one is watching and no one would get hurt?

The first opportunity came mid-week.  We are planning a Disney trip for our kids (OK, OK, so I'M the one who wants to go!!) this coming spring.  The time came to make the reservations and book the tickets and our travel agent asked me "How 10 is your 10 year old?"  Apparently Disney considers 10 year olds adults (seriously???) and her point was if Isabella JUST turned 10 (which she did, LAST WEEK) we could say she was just nine and save a fair amount of money.

Now, no one wants Isabella to be nine more than me.  Trust me this whole turning ten thing has been hard on momma!  But she's not nine, she's ten.  And it would be wrong for me to say she was, when she's not.  Would anyone get hurt? NO.  Would we put Disney out of business or really impact anyone if we just said she was nine and took the discount? NO.    But she's not nine, she's ten.  And I won't lie.  So I told the travel agent she was 10 and we would pay accordingly.  I will be the Christian I claim to be.

Yesterday was a harder one.  I was in a fender bender.  Traffic stopped suddenly at a green light and I rear ended the car in front of me.  No one was hurt (Praise God) and my car was more damaged then hers (another praise).    I desperately want to avoid accountability on this one.  I really do!!!  Traffic can't just stop in the middle of a green light on a four way road!  But it was my fault.  I hit her.  I got the ticket.  My insurance (really I) will pay for the damages.  This one really stinks!  I don't like being in the wrong.  But I was.  And I will take accountability for my actions.  I will be the Christian I claim to be.

In both of those examples there were other people involved, other people watching.  But what about when they aren't?  Will I still be the Christian I claim to be even when no one is watching?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Lord's Prayer

Our (mine, yours, his, her's, theirs') 

Father (daddy, protector, provider, security, strength, sustainer) 

who art in Heaven (and on Earth, and every where that I am at all times)

hallowed  (holy and honored) 

be Thy name. (the Great I am, Yaweh, Adonai, El Shaddai, Kyrios, Pater)

Thy Kingdom come (come again oh New Jerusalem)

Thy will (YOUR will, not mine, but yours)

be done (by me, by my husband, by my children)

on Earth (in ALL the Earth, in my country, in my city, in my home, in my life, in my heart)

as it is in Heaven. (may my very life be a reflection of you heavenly home)

Give us this day (today, tomorrow, and all the days to come)

our daily bread (our every sustenance physically, spiritually and emotionally)

and forgive us our debts (my sin, my pride, my judgement, my secret thoughts, my hurtful words, my anger, and my shame)

as we forgive our debtors (give me the heart of forgiveness, let me wash the pain away with your love and grace)

and lead us not into temptation (close my eyes to the sin, close my ears to the gossip, close my mouth to the hurtful words)

but deliver us from evil. (strengthen me against the enemy, shore up my perseverance and self control)

For THINE is the Kingdom (ALL kingdoms, in heaven and on Earth, in every nation and on every throne)

the Power (ALL power, over me, over you, over all creation)

and the Glory (the very Glory of Heaven, radiant and perfect)

forever and ever. (and ever, always, eternally, never ending)


Monday, October 15, 2012

Theology 101

OK, so technically its Theology 515.  But it is basically an intro level theology class, "The Christian Faith and the Apostle's Creed".  I have taken my fair share of classes in my life time, and this is by far the most challenging one I have participated in.  Don't get me wrong, I am really enjoying this class.  I have learned more than I ever thought I would.  

I have learned why I think the scriptures are infallible, I have learned the importance of the creeds to the Christian Faith, I have learned what ancient theologians thought about God, Christ, the church and salvation.  I have learned that Jesus has 2 natures, 1 person, 1 personality, 2 wills.  He is one hypostasis of the homoousis of the triune God, brought together by hypostatic union.  (If you know your theology and know that I just blew that last statement, please don't tell me.  I'm feeling pretty smart right now!) I also know, and this has been discussed at length in my theology class, that head knowledge of God can NEVER replace or be considered more important than a heart connection with God.

I have been completely submersed in head knowledge of God for the last 5 weeks and I found myself DESPERATE for a heart connection with him this weekend.  And here is what I love so much about God... I got it.  That heart connection with Him that I crave so much.  That feeling I get when I talk to Him and can feel Him answer me, maybe not with words, but with His Spirit, inside me.  Laying in bed at 11:00 at night, exhausted, spent and somehow lonely even with 11 other people sleeping in my house.  I cried out to God and He answered.  Just like He always does.  I seriously love that God!!!

In all that I have learned the past 5 weeks, and all I have left to learn the rest of this semester and the MANY semesters after this one.  I don't EVER want to forget this lesson.  A heart connection trumps academic knowledge EVERY TIME!!!  And He is there for me, in the academics AND in my heart, every time I need him!

"You will seek me, and find me when you seek me with all your heart."  Jeremiah 29:13

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Today my baby turns 10.  10!!!  I had to type 2 numbers!  She is a decade old.  10 years ago I sat in a hospital holding a brand new baby.  MY BABY!  It was a dream come true.  I  had no idea the what lay ahead of me.  Of course I had dreams for her.  Both her Daddy and  I wanted so much for her.  But I had NO IDEA what an amazing girl she was going to turn out to be.  

Isabella's name means "island of beauty".  And that is exactly what she is.  She is my Island of Beauty in an ocean that can too often be ugly.  She is beautiful from the inside out and her light shines amazingly strong.  She takes my breath away sometimes, with the thoughts she has, the things she says, and the beauty she is.  She has an innocence about her that I adore, an innocence I pray never goes away.

She would tell you that she has waited all her life to be ten.  She just can't grow up fast enough.  I would tell you that she was JUST a baby!  And the time is going WAY TOO FAST. 
I treasure each moment that we have together and as each year goes by I realize more and more that I really LIKE this kid!  She is fun to hang out with, she makes me laugh.  

I can be hard on her, probably too hard.  But she forgives me when I ask her to (that seems to happen a lot) and she loves me despite the fact that I'm not always the mom I wish I was.  She makes me want to be a better person.  She encourages me to do big things and loves me when I make mistakes.  She is sweet to her brothers, generous to her friends.  She thinks of others before herself.  There is nothing in this world sweeter than my baby girl!

Happy 10th Birthday Isabella!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I have been a very casual runner most of my life.  It wasn't uncommon for me to go out for a run every now and then in high school, but I can't remember ever running more than 2 miles. And even that was inconsistent at best.

This trend continued in college and young adulthood.  I would run inconsistently, but never very far. I couldn't run far because I would never give it the time and energy it required.  There was always something better to do.

Flash forward 10 plus years and 3 kids, though I hadn't done it for YEARS I still assumed I could pick up and run 2 miles whenever I wanted.  It was very humbling for me the day I realized this was no longer the case.  I was barely able to run 1 mile let alone 2.  That was 3 years ago.

Two days ago I ran my second marathon.  In the last 3 years, I have made running one of my priorities. Yes, there is still generally always something better to do (like sleep), but I decided I was going to be a runner.  So run I must.  Sometimes its 3 miles on rare occasions it's 26.2. But it's something that I build my week and my day around.  It's a priority.

I have been a very casual Christian most of my life as well.  It wasn't uncommon for me to go to church in high school (OK I went every Sunday) but my devotion, that was inconsistent at best.

This trend continued in college and young adulthood, I would turn to God inconsistency, but never let the relationship go very far.  I would never give it the time and energy it required.  There was always something better to do.

Flash forward 5 plus years and 2 miscarriages later and I still assumed I could pick up my relationship with God whenever wanted.  It was very humbling for me the day I realized this was not the case.  I didn't need him in my life every now and then, I needed him in life EVERY DAY!  EVERY MOMENT!  That was 10 years ago.

Lat month I started seminary.  In the past 10 years GOD has become my priority, He comes first over everything else.  Yes sometimes it might seem like there are better things to do then spend time with him, follow his path or live the way He is asking me.  But I decided I was going to be a Christian. So follow Him I must.  Sometimes it means sacrifice, sometimes it means I will be left out, sometimes it is hard, but it is ALWAYS worth it.  It's something I build my week, my day, my very life around.  It's a priority.

What are your priorities?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

2 Cor 10:5

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  2 Cor 10:5

This verse has been running through my head the past couple of days.  

It's a powerful one.

I love the beginning of it, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God."  Demolish those thoughts that you have, the ones that say you are not enough, the voices that say you are unlovable, ugly or unworthy.  Demolish the words you hear that tell you you are wrong, not good enough, smart enough or pretty enough.  Those ideas go against the very knowledge of God.

In God's eyes you are beautiful, worthy, loved.  You are treasured, adored and made whole. You dear child are exactly who God wants you to be.

Demolish the pretension that having more will make you happy.  That peace will come from a bigger house, a newer car or more stuff.  Demolish the pretension that it is OK to speak out in anger against someone you love.  Demolish the pretension that is OK to carry that sin with you, because everybody has some kind of issue right?  Demolish these pretensions, they set themselves up against the knowledge of God. 

It's the next part I struggle with, "and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  EVERY thought? Do you have ANY idea how many thoughts I have throughout the day?  I think about what I'm going to wear, what the kids will need for school, what to make for dinner, when I'm going to get that reading done.  WHAT is that stuff growing in the corner (I didn't think dust bunnies got that big!)?  I think about my children, my husband, my friend who is struggling, bills, laundry (no really I think about it, I just don't do it!), my next term paper, my small groups, my upcoming marathon, the kids schedule, the weekly menu.  I mean have A LOT of thoughts during a single day.   

And I am supposed to make EVERY ONE of those obedient to Christ?!?!  


I am.

Do I do that?


Should I?



Because His way is ALWAYS the best way, ALWAYS, and that is what he asks us to do.