Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me.

There are a few things I knew to expect regarding this thing called parenting.  But there are SO MANY things I really had NO idea about...why didn't anyone tell me?

I knew I would love my kids.  But I really had no idea just how much.   I didn't understand how instantaneous love, love at first sight (even before sight) could happen until I had my children.  I didn't know the depths I would go to to show them my love, to protect them from harm and make them feel safe.  I didn't understand the love my heavenly father had for me, until I had kids.  Why didn't anyone tell me?

I knew parenting would be fun.  But I really had no idea just how much fun it would be.  I didn't understand that I how much I would enjoy the young people my children would become.  How they would make each laughter sweeter, each high higher, each memory infinitely more precious.  I didn't realize how much I would want to just hang out with them, enjoy them, play with them.  I didn't realize how fun they would be.  Why didn't anyone tell me?

I knew parenting would be hard.  But I really had no idea just how hard it would be.  I simply didn't understand the immense challenge it would be to raise a child in a manner pleasing to God.  I didn't know how tired I would be, how much I would cry, how much they could hurt my heart.  I didn't realize how my heart would break every time theirs did.  That their bad days would become my bad days. Their pain, my pain.  I didn't realize how much time, energy, sleep, money, patience, self control, sacrifice and hard work it would take.  Why didn't anyone tell me?

I knew I would enjoy watching my kids do what they love.  But I had no idea how much I would learn to love what they love.  How watching them do it, would be like experiencing it myself.  How nervous I would be the light shone on them.  When I watch my kids play a prominent position in sports, speak in church, ride in a horse show.  I am SO nervous you would think I was the one on stage...in front of thousands...naked.  THAT is how nervous I get.  I can't sit down, let alone be still.  I pace, I fret, I cheer, I silently coach, I self talk myself (redundant I know) about what they should be doing..."deep breath, focus, elbows in...".  I had NO IDEA how nerve wracking it would be to be a parent.  Why didn't anyone tell me?

Why didn't anyone tell me how wonderful, hard, beautiful, impossible, rewarding, frustrating, amazing and difficult this parenting thing would be?  My guess is that it simply can't be put into words, that's why no one ever told me.

Friday, January 25, 2013


It's been a hard week.  Not necessarily for me or my family, but for SO many people that we know.  

I have been praying for three different families that have young children in the hospital right now.  Three families that I know personally who are struggling and scared in ways I have never experienced before (praise the Lord).

9 year olds shouldn't have to fight for their lives.  Babies shouldn't spend 1/2 of their life in a hospital struggling to breathe.  Young girls shouldn't be hospitalized because of the flu.  Parents shouldn't have to pray that their child's life will be spared.  But sometimes they do kids fight, babies get sick and parents pray.  And all I can do, here in my healthy little house, is pray.  So pray I have done, boldly, faithfully and without ceasing.

Has God answered my prayers?  Honestly?  Yes.  But it has been slow.  Only 1 of the three children have been released from the hospital so far.  Only one slept in her bed last night, only one.  But the other two are healing, slowly, very slowly.  So slowly it may not look like a miracle, but it is a miracle none the less.  The non-believer may look at these two children and say there is no miracle here, this is purely science.  It is the medical field that has healed these children, not God.

That may be true but who created that medical field?  Who created the person that "invented" that life saving instrument?  Who is ultimately in control? Only one...God.  And right now, in a Children's Hospital in Kansas City, he is working miracles.  Not only for the 2 children I am praying for but for every child in every hospital, in every land.  God and God alone is in control and he is healing. And that is a miracle.  Of that I am certain.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Have I told you about Girltalk?

If you have girls you're gonna love this!  I know I do.  

Isabella is my first born and my only daughter.  I worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for a large inner-city school district when she was born and there were 5 of us working close together who all had babies right about the same time. 4 of those 5 babies were girls.   And within a couple of months our very first playgroup was formed.  I'm not sure how much "playing" was done that first time we got together since our infants all spent most of their time sleeping in their carseats.  But the moms sure enjoyed the afternoon!

Within 18 months all 4 of the women with girls were staying at home full time.  These women (and their girls) were ESSENTIAL to my life.  Although we all had early childhood degrees, none of us had actual parenting experience and we needed each other desperately, on the hard days, as well as the good ones.  We shared each others burdens and celebrated each others victories.  Raising young children was easier because we were doing it together.  We spent the first 5 years of our daughters lives playing, sharing and experiencing life together on a regular basis.

And then the changes came.  Although the girls were only months apart 2 were summer birthdays and 2 were fall birthdays, they weren't going to go to school together.  One family moved a little farther out of the city and one family moved to Denver (a little to far for regular playdates!)  It was one of our last evenings together and just the mommas went out for dinner.  After dinner we browsed around a local bookstore, all a little sad that this chapter of our life was ending.  And then a saw it...the answer I had been looking for...
a book entitled The Mother Daughter Project: How Mothers Can Band Together, Beat the Odds and Thrive Through Adolescents by SueEllen Hamkins and Renee Schultz.  

I know Isabella was five (almost 6 at the time) a LONG way from adolescents, but the premise of the book was something I KNEW to be true.  Parenting is a WHOLE LOT easier when done in community!  That is what we had done for the past 5 years, why should we stop now just because the girls were no longer in preschool.  Growing up didn't mean that the didn't still need each other, it didn't mean I didn't still need their mommas.  

The problem still remained that one family was moving out of state and the other was too far away for regular get togethers.  So my friend Deb and I (the only ones still remaining) sat on it for a little while and prayed about it.  But in my heart I knew this was something Isabella and I were going to need.  So I started reaching out to the people around me.  I talked to my neighbor Jenn and her daughter just a year younger than Isabella, I KNEW I would want her on my team.  My dear friend Laura and her 2 daughters, we had been friends since Isabella was 3 they were essential to my team.  We added Stacy and her daughter, Stacie and her daughter and Deb's friend (and now my friend too!) Kristin and her daughter.  There were 7 families a total of 9 girls.  We call our little group Girltalk.

We all had similar values and morals, we were all Christians and desperately wanted our daughters to reflect that in all aspects of their life, whatever their age.  We knew that this is a hard time to be a kid, even harder to be a Christian kid and we wanted our girls to know that they weren't alone, even when it felt like they were.  We have been meeting on a regular basis for over 3 years now.  We have discussed everything from being a good friend to what an identity in Christ looks like, and SO MUCH more.  Isabella is stronger because of this group.  I am stronger because of this group.  Our relationship with each other is stronger because of this group.   

When I don't know what to say, or how to answer her questions, someone else in the group does.  When she doesn't feel like she can talk to me, she has 6 other women to choose from, women who will tell her the same thing I would.  She has 6 other women telling her she is beautiful just the way she is and that they are on her side and that she has what it takes to stand up for what it right even when she is the only one standing.   We share each others burdens and celebrate each others victories.  Raising pre-teens is easier because we are doing it together.   These women, and their daughters, are ESSENTIAL my life, and my daughters.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

Psalm 19

Living life as a Christian isn't always easy.  

Of course God never said it was going to be.

I don't face persecution like my ancestors did before me.  I do not have to hide for fear of my life or safety for my family as too many people do in other countries.  I am safe to live out my faith any way I choose and rarely do I face ridicule for it.  So what makes it so hard for me?

I am by nature a social person, I long to fit in, I hate to be excluded. So when I am told that my life SHOULD look different then those around me, that's hard for me.  There are so many things around me every day that are culturally relevant and socially acceptable but I am called to say no to them:  neighborhood gossip, husband- bashing, constant complaining, me-first attitudes.  These seem to be around me everywhere I go and for someone who longs to fit in as much as I do it is VERY hard for me to walk away when these things show up.  

But that is what I am called to do.  Because I am a Christian.

God never said it was going to be easy.

But he does say that His way, the Law of the Lord, is perfect.

He says His statutes are trustworthy.  

His precepts are right and bring joy to the heart.

He says, HIs commands are radiant and His ordinances are altogether righteous, more precious than gold, sweeter than honey.  

He says there is a great reward in keeping them.

And I believe him.  I believe what he says is true.  More true than the gossip in the neighborhood, the complaints and husband bashing.  More true than the me-first attitude I can so easily get sucked into it.  

And so I will live by His word and not by the word of the culture around me.  I will do my best to be blameless, innocent of great transgressions.

"May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

To see more of God's promises about living life his way check out all of Psalm 19.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fine China? or an Every Day Plate?

Are you fine china or are you an every day plate?

Kind of an odd question isn't it?

Yesterday, as I was reading Romans chapter 9, I was struck by verse 21.  I'm sure I've read it before but I guess I never really noticed it (I probably shouldn't admit that, huh?).  Well it says in Romans 9:21, "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?"(NIV)  Well, of course he does!  But it made me kind of wonder which one I was.  Was I created for noble purposes or have I been made for common use?  Am I fine china or an everyday plate?

The point of Paul's comment is that God is the creator, we are the created and we do not get to question the way he made us.  That is up to God and his infinite wisdom.  But how many times have I questioned God, "Why did you make me like this?"  "Wouldn't it have been so much easier if you just made me like _____?" (feel free to fill in the blank). 

Of course just before verse 21 comes verse 20, "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'".  Oh.  Umm.  Oops.

So the Bible clearly states that I should NOT do what I just did, have done for a while now.  I don't get to question the way God made me.  He made me with all my imperfections for a reason.   As I struggle to overcome the MANY qualities God gave me that I would rather NOT have, qualities that must certainly make me an everyday plate instead of fine china,  I have to remember that God did not make a mistake.  THIS is the way he made me, on purpose.  Sure I have done plenty to add to the chips and imperfections this common, every day plate has.  But I need to remember that he is not done with me yet.  And maybe, just maybe this every day plate will someday get set at a banquet, a banquet made for a King, right next to the finest of china!

Monday, January 14, 2013

No Other Gods

Listen...can you hear that?...it's the sound of a quiet house...a very quiet house.

The kids are all back in school today, the husband is tucked up in his office working, even the dog and the cat are quietly snoozing, and the house is quiet.  I just may be in heaven!

Don't get me wrong an hour or two of this and I will be begging for someone to talk to but right now, I am SO enjoying this!

It has allowed me to get started on my new book for my Thursday bible study.  We are studying No Other Gods:  Confronting Our Modern-day Idols by Kelly Minter.  I can tell you already I am going to LOVE this book.  The whole premise of the book is something that I have been struggling with for quite some time now, so I am excited to have someone walk me through it. 

In 2 Kings 17:33 it says, "They worshiped the Lord but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought."  Hmm, are we talking about ancient Israel or America today?  

How many of us "worship" God but "serve" someone, or more likely, someTHING else?  How much of our time and attention do we  give to God compared to the time and attention we give to other things (material possessions, activities for ourselves and our kids, to-do lists that must be accomplished)?  When those things get more time and attention then God, they become an idol, THEY become your god.  

The thing is, in our current culture, not only is this OK, but it is expected.  Sure lots of us go to church on Sunday (at least most Sundays, I mean as long as there is nothing else going on, I mean I WANT to go to church but...).  At least in my community, church is generally recognized as a good thing.  Most of our friends go to church on a fairly regular basis where we spend some time with God, and perhaps are even moved by the message.  But when Monday roles around it is back to the routine, running here, running there, worrying about this, complaining about that, and I am sorry but I just don't have time for God today.  Please don't read any judgement into this, I am just as guilty of this as the next person.  There are any number of things that pull my time and attention away from where it needs to be on any given day.  

But that doesn't make it OK.  I know in my heart that it's not, and I'm guessing maybe you do to.  Maybe you know that there are about 10 other things on that list or in your mind that come before a relationship with your maker.  Whatever it is, whatever is holding your attention, your thoughts, controlling how you spend those few precious minutes of down time a day THAT is your god.  And I want you to know it is no replacement for the real God.  We ALL have idols that we have placed before God but he makes it pretty clear throughout his book, that that is not OK.  He wants, he deserves and he is worthy of ALL of us, our time, our attention, our lives.  

He deserves more time than my minivan gets as I chauffeur kids from here to there.  He deserves more of my thoughts than my checkbook gets.  He deserves more of my attention than the TV gets.  HE is my God, not those other things.  And HE alone is worthy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Voices in My Head

These are the things I chose not to listen to today as the evil one whispered in my head...

  • you will never accomplish the things you have set out to do
  • so many people have already accomplished what you only hope to do and they did it at a much younger age
  • that novel would be so much more entertaining than the Bible 
  • you are not the mother you should, could or want to be and you never will be.  Your children deserve so much better
  • your children are attention hogs, don't you deserve some time to yourself?
  • your body will never look the way you want it too
  • why don't you just take the day off and do what YOU want to do

These are the things I chose to listen to today as God spoke in my heart...

  • I have a plan for you
  • keep on trying, my timing is perfect 
  • his word speak right to my soul
  • you are the mother I chose for your children, do you doubt my wisdom?
  • my little guy count to "1,000" all by himself (I'm not saying he did it right but it was worth my attention)
  • the kitchen timer ding on a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies! (who cares what my body looks like those cookies were worth it!)
  • Well done my good and faithful servant

Monday, January 7, 2013

Joshua 24:!5

I had the joy of reading one of my favorite verses from Joshua over the weekend.  

It comes at the very end of Joshua, in the final chapter.  Joshua has led the Israelites throughout the Promised Land, conquering all the 'ites along the way (you know the 'ites, the CanaanITES, HittITES, HivITES, etc).  So the 'ites have all been conquered, the land has been divided and Israel is now ready to get settled.  They have spent decades wandering around and fighting off the enemy and they long to spend the rest of their days in the land God promised them.  But before Joshua sends them all on their way, to their different cities, towns, and lands he renews the covenant Moses made between the Israelites and God. And then he tells them this, here it is, my favorite part, are you ready...

"...then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,...
But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15

This is like a rally cry to me.  Every time I read it and want to stand up shout "YEAH!!!  Whose with me!!"  In fact, that's kind of what the Israelites did, they all answered of course we are going to serve the Lord!  But Joshua warns them, it's not that easy.  He tells them that God is a Holy God, a jealous God, and mere words won't be enough to serve him.  He warns them not of follow the gods of the peoples whose land they have taken.  Don't succumb to their ways.  The people assure him that won't happen.  They are devoted to God and God alone.

It is a good time for the people of Israel.  

Just two short generations later, they would fall away from God.  It doesn't take much, it is frighteningly easy.  One minute you are walking strong with God, the next you are doing it all on your own, and He is no where in sight.  You don't even realize you've turned away, you thought you were still heading down the right path, but somewhere along the way you took a wrong turn.  It wasn't an 180 degree turn just a whole lot of 10 degree turns, hardly noticeable.  But there are you are surrounded by the people of the land, instead of the people of God.  

I think a lot of us can relate to the Israelites on this one.  We didn't mean to get so wrapped up in the culture around us.  We didn't mean for it to consume so much of us, but it did, it has.  And we are a little lost and not exactly sure how to get back to where we were, where we want to be.  

For the Israelites it meant following a judge, appointed by God, and going to war, fighting to get back to where God always intended for them to be.  For us it means following Christ and going to war within ourselves and fighting to get back to where God has always intended for us to be.  I promise you it's worth the battle.  The Israelites did find their way back, over and over and over again, they fell away and fought their way back. And we can too.   We can only hope it doesn't take us quite as many times.

Choose this day whom you will serve, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Psalms 1:1-2

So think of me what you will.  But if I am perfectly honest, and I do try to be.  I'm not really a HUGE fan of the Psalms.  I know, I know there is SO much good stuff in them, but honestly, they intimidate me. 

To begin with, there is A LOT of them, like 150 of them (yes I'm sure you already knew that, but that's A LOT)!!  Then there is the fact that I have yet to be chased down by my enemy (or by my own child for that matter, don't worry I'm sure that day will eventually come) and forced to hide out in a cave.  So some of them just don't feel all that applicable to me.  

I recognize this chip on my shoulder, and so I  diligently try to open my mind and listen to what God is trying to teach me with each Psalm I read.  And just like God, as I started to read Psalm 1 this week I felt some of that chip fall away as God spoke straight into my heart.  

"Blessed is the man...(whose) delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law
 he meditates day and night."

I find myself "meditating" on a lot of things throughout the day, and even as I go to bed at night, the endless lists that never get done, worries about the kids and all the things I'm doing wrong in the process of raising them, that new book I just can't put down.  But how much time do I honestly spend meditating on God's law, his word and his promises?  I'm gonna go with not enough.  

We live in a society full of distractions, things that pull our minds, time and attention away from God.  Most of those distractions are not bad things, in fact, many of them are good things.  But too many good things become a bad thing when God only gets what is left of us, because frankly there is just not much left of me at the end of the day that's really worth anything.  

I'm thinking that if I spent more time focused on God, meditating on His word, then all the other things that fill my mind and overwhelm me by the end of the day, might not be so overwhelming.  It's worth a try, right?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Day

Today starts the New Year!  

Resolutions should be firmly in place and started today right?  Does anyone else take today off and plan to start tomorrow?  I mean really today is a holiday right?

As much as I truly LOVED my class last semester I found myself reading so much theology that I didn't read my Bible.  This semester and this year I don't want that to happen.  My resolution is to read through the Bible in a year.  I know, a lofty goal.  I've never accomplished it before (I have read through the Bible, just not in a year).   So why choose now when I have a so many other things going on ?   Really, my intent behind this resolution is to open the bible and read it everyday.  Yes I would like to get through the whole thing but   I will consider it a success if a year from now I read something from God each day in 2013.

I have to confess though, that I have kind of already cheated!  I started early.  I started after Christmas and since I don't have any theology to read right now, I have read a handful of chapters every day.  I printed out a schedule that has me skipping around a little but it does look like there is some kind of method to the madness so to speak.

One day as I was reading Romans 2, I was struck by this whole idea of New Year's resolutions.  I too have made commitments to eat less, exercise more, have more quality family time, etc.  These are all very good goals to have, don't misunderstand me.  But what if instead of making goals to improve our appearances we made goals to improve our character?  To be more like Christ.

I remember a song from when I was young, "and they will know we are Christians by our love..."  is that still true today?  Do people recognize us, me, you as a follower of Christ based purely on the way we love those around us? Do we obey what we hear in church on sunday or read in our bible throughout the week, or is it simply head knowledge?  Do we love like Jesus did?  That would be a good New Year's Resolution!