Friday, December 28, 2012

the moments that add up to life

in reflecting on a year of some major highs and some major lows, i am learning to be thankful for all of it. thankfulness for every moment. even those moments when i feel like it may be easier to crawl into a hole and just disappear. even the ones that aren't the photo-worthy warm and fuzzy moments. even the times that are so painful that it takes all my focus to cry out to God and keep my hope. thankful for every single moment.

because... if i wish away the painful moments of life, i am wishing away my life. all of my life is a gift from God and to give Him thanks and praise in the middle of the hurt is to really live.

so, as much as i would like to only acknowledge the beautiful, fun, happy moments, i am choosing to open my eyes to see the beauty in it all - the beauty of this woven tapestry called life.

thank you God for the life in 2012 and thank you for the life that lies ahead in 2013. 

may the Lord bless you all in all the moments that make up your life. it is all a gift.


Monday, December 17, 2012

when christmas seems dark this year

christmas can be a very painful and lonely time for many people.  christmas can remind us of loss or loneliness.  i know in conneticut there are a bunch of people who, if they never experienced this dynamic before, are experiencing this very thing this year.

in the darkest nights we often are tempted to shake our fist in the air and ask the questions seeping with accusation, "where was God when...?  if there really is a loving God who is all powerful then...?  why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?"

we have all been there or will be there, whether we have the guts to verbalize our latent accusations again our very Creator.

this christmas, i believe God wants to reveal to us, His beloved creation, that He really is Immanuel - God with us.

take the next 10 minutes, or keep this page open until you have 10 minutes, and watch john piper read the poem he wrote about the innkeeper who housed mary and joseph the night Jesus was born.

does God care about senseless tragedy?  john piper would venture to say yes, yes He does.

i would tell you, my friend, the very same thing.  watch, take out a tissue or two (don't say i didn't warn you), and be encouraged.

wishing you a merry christmas in your dark hours where the Immanuel draws near and shows you His compassion for your pain.


John Piper Reads "The Innkeeper" (English subtitles) from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

keeping faith in the Reason for the season

christmas can so easily become one big swirl of commercialism and hype.  i know that we all fall into the trap of the lists of gifts, parties, deadlines, baking, etc becoming THE focus.  in fact, while i am typing right now, i am also feverishly trying to work on a knit scarf for my oldest son... read more

come over to 5 minutes for faith today where i am sharing about one of my favorite christmas traditions that helps me keep focused during my favorite time of year.

let me know you stopped by!  hope you are having a wonderful christmas season!


Thursday, December 6, 2012

let us not forget

it is this time of year that my heart is drawn once again to meditate on the advent.

did you know that advent simply means "coming?" it is a time of expectant waiting and preparation. 

oh how i feel it!  my heart is being drawn to think on His coming - God made flesh who dwelt among us - and to prepare and wait in eager anticipation His coming again. 

this time of year i am back in the gospels. i want to fill my thoughts with the very realness of Jesus walking on this dust, being made of the dust just like us. i want my heart to really believe that He came. 

He came. 

Immanuel - God with us - He came. 

do you know what that means that God dressed Himself in this broken humanity that we live in every. single. day. to show us what He is like? does this bring tears to your eyes like it does to mine?  the Almighty God who is the very Creator of everything that exists - the very One who will judge all that has breath, and has every right to do so - humbled Himself to the very lowest place and dwelt among us (phil 2)

He came. He really did what seems so impossible to my logical thinking mind. 

oh how that makes my heart ache. 

you see, i live in such very real brokenness. just like you. so often my heart wants to rise up in accusation against my very God that He is somehow indifferent to my pain. my heartache. my disappointments. 

so often i resist shaking my fist in the air asking, "do you even see me here? do you even care?"

and the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.  john 1:14

and He does see. He cares. He came. Immanuel. He drew near.

yay Lord! we greet Thee,
born this happy morning,
o Jesus! to Thee be all glory given.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
o come, let us adore Him,
o come, let us adore Him,
o come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

and He knows. He really knows our sorrow and our brokenness and our grief. and He holds all our tears in a bottle (ps 56:8). He must have a big bottle for mine.

He catches each.
                                   down. like. rain. 
when our pain becomes too much to bear, He does not look away

                                       ...even when in our own weakness, we look away.

He was despised and forsaken of men, 
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; 
and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, 
and we did not esteem Him. isaiah 53:3

and i cannot tell you, in the very middle of this broken life i live, how this time of advent becomes so real and alive to me. this is the thrill of hope - that He will not leave us as orphans (john 14:18)

and i long, more than ever before, for His second advent - with expectant waiting i prepare for His coming.

my Immanuel.

He will make the wrong things right. and there are so. many. wrong. things.

too many wrong things.

o come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
our spirits by Thine advent here
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadows put to flight.
rejoice! rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to thee, o israel.
we can dare to put our hope in Him. this time of year isn't about gifts. it isn't about traditions. it isn't even about family. it is about Him - it is about His coming that was and His coming that will be.

o come to us, 
abide with us,
our Lord Immanuel.
oh let us not forget.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

what i love about my daddy

this post is a bit overdue.  i was hoping to put it up on october 18th - the birthday of a very special person, but time got away from me and now days turned into weeks later.  but late is better than not at all, right?

the above picture is of me and my daddy.  i believe it was taken the day they brought me home from the hospital.  i have such a special daddy and since i wrote a special blog post for my mom on mother's day, i wanted to share with all of you some about my daddy for his birthday this year. 

a list of what i love about my daddy

1. the very first thing has go all the way back to the day i was born.  i do not remember this day, but i heard about it many times.  the day i was born was the very first time my mama saw my daddy cry.  they had been married 7 years before i was born and been friends for a few years before that.  imagine that... what a bonding thing for a daughter to her daddy to know that becoming a daddy for the first time opened a part of him up that even the one closest to him hadn't seen before. 

2. going back to my birth story again - my daddy sold his car that he really loved to pay for the hospital bill for my birth.

3. my daddy has a super tender heart and cries often now.  it seems almost strange to me that my mom had never seen my dad cry until i was born because i grew up with seeing him cry (in a manly sort of way of course).  i have always known him to be very tender-hearted.

4. he is smart.  i know smarts aren't everything, but i always loved that my daddy was (and is) so smart and feel especially proud when people have told me that i was smart like him. 

5. my daddy is funny.  he has a super dry sense of humor that sometimes his jokes are so subtle they could easily be missed.  i have teased him by giving his jokes an eye rolling at times, but have always thought inside that i wish i had inherited the quick wit (both my siblings seemed have got that trait easily). 

6. he has a real relationship with God.  you know how you see so many people in the church blown to and fro by the popular trends in chrisitanity?  not my daddy.  even when it is unpopular, he stands by his convictions and commitment to follow Jesus and trust Him no matter what the cost.  he isn't willing to compromise what that walk with the Lord looks like just to fit in - He goes to the Lord and to the Word to find out for himself instead of merely relying on someone else' interpretation of what God is saying.  this has given me the courage to know God for myself, even when that looks like an unpopular road.

7. he is faithful.  i have seen my dad follow through on his word even when it hurts in so many ways - he would never tell you about these things. (psalm 15:4)  faithfulness isn't a common thing these days.

8. he loves my mama.  to those readers of mine who are men, i cannot begin to tell you what this does to the heart of a child to see the daddy really love the mama.  no, my dad isn't perfect.  yes, i have seen my parents fight.  but 40 years of marriage to the woman who gave birth to me!  seriously amazing.  i have seen this amazing example of real love in my parents' relationship and watched my daddy defend and seek to protect my mama (even from our disrespect as children) and then watched him still bring her flowers and her favorite chocolate, write her sweet notes,  and actually enjoy spending time with her... i have seen their relationship grow through the harder times and their commitment to loving unselfishly increase.  his love towards my mama affects me so greatly.

9. my dad believes in me.  from the earliest i could ever remember, he told me i could be whatever i wanted to be - the 1st female president was often his example.  through all my passing career ambitions, he always has believed in me - from a medical missionary to the 1st female professional football player, from a supreme court justice to a stage actress.  especially as a girl, his first born, he was sure to let me know that gender would never hold me back from God's calling on my life. 

10. my dad is a servant.  it is the little things that you always notice, right?  okay, here is one - my dad would load up the back of his car with cans, bottles, newspapers and other recyclables from a "pollution solution" club my siblings, neighbor kids, and i created as a business.  these were all the recyclables from the whole neighborhood... and he never complained about it.  another example - he would run to the store to get female sanitary products for the girls in our house if we were out.  one time i even called him on the phone in the middle of the night in college to bemoan some female problems i was having and he listened compassionately and like he understood.  i didn't think twice about talking to my dad because i knew he actually cared.

11. he has an unwavering trust in God.  he has gone through more than his fair share of storms in life and yet he trusts the Lord.  it challenges me because i struggle.  he has had plenty of opportunities to walk away and be bitter (don't we all?), but i have just watched him lean more into the Lord and really trust Him with his life, his family, his everything.  i want to be faithful like that over the long haul.

12. i have watched him respond to mistreatment and misunderstanding with humility.  i have watched him keep his mouth shut when i know if it was me i would probably say things i regretted later.

13. he loves sports.  i have so many memories attached to his love of sports - from going to the baseball card shops with him and digging through the penny boxes for him to buy 100 cards for me, to playing catch with my softball and glove in our living room, to playing fantasy football and basketball with him and my husbands' family, to him coming to watch my boys' sporting events because he loves them and loves the game... to now watching him bond with my little boys over sports.  my two oldest can talk to him about all sorts of stats that i know nothing about.  it is really quite fun to watch.  one of my earliest memories is laying on my back on the floor next to my dad and him bouncing a racketball against the ceiling as we talked.  (i had to be around 2 or 3 at the time?)

14. he is a great person to go to for advice.  he actually is both a communications professor and marriage, family and child counselor by profession, and he is a great listener and then really wise as well.  i have come with hard questions.  he doesn't try to fix problems, but offers wisdom.

15. i have this very distinct memory from right when my husband and i launched out into living on full-time missionary support:  my dad walked me out to the car carrying one of my children, like he has done so many times, and handed me a $100 bill.  he told me that this was just a seed of the many, many times God was going to provide for us.  really, i cannot tell you how many times i have thought back to that moment when everything felt so uncertain and it felt like we were taking a giant leap into the great unknown trying to be obedient to what the Lord had set before us.  not only did it show my dad believed we were doing the right thing, but he was prophesying of God's continual provision for us through $100 here and $100 there which i can testify to be true here almost 4 years later.

16. he and my husband get along so well.  i think my husband reminds me so much of my daddy and i love that!  when we were dating i knew that it was a good sign that he was the one when he had such deep meaningful conversations with my dad. 

17.  i look like a lot like my daddy.  now, everyone has always said that my mouth and chin look just like my dad - but i have never seen that for myself because my entire life he has had a beard and mustache.  but, just knowing it to be true, is so fun.  our baby pictures look extremely alike.

18. he is an amazing grandpa.  among the best, if not the very besti love to watch him look at his grandkids.  he rocks them on his lap and sings them a special song that he made up that he sang to me when i was little.  he carries them to the car while they are little, sometimes making many trips since each one wants to be carried.  he shares what he loves with them.  he thoroughly enjoys being a grandpa and loves my kids so fiercely and each one knows they are loved.  they each feel connected to him individually.  how do you do that well when you have a dozen grandkids?  i don't know, but he does it. 

19. i know he loves me.  i know it.  even when we had tougher times through part of my teen years, i still knew that he loved me no matter what.  i know that it doesn't matter what i do or how much i might screw up, he will always love me and never reject me.  i know i don't have to pretend around him, but i can really be me - the good and the bad - and i am accepted without conditions.

20. i love to spend time with him one on one.  we have had these daddy/daughter dates since i was very little and they are my favorite times. 

21. he is so thoughtful.  during a stretch of my college years i was very lonely.  i lived a 9 hour drive from home and often missed home desperately.  other students would drive home for a weekend, and i was stuck on a quiet empty campus missing my family.  my dad wrote me letters and sent me cards.  many times i would go to the student mailboxes and find an unexpected card from my daddy telling me how much he loved me and believed in me and was praying for me - those cards are still in my drawer right next to my bed. 

 my sister and i loving on my daddy

this of course is not an all inclusive list, but just some of the many things that stand out to me when i think of my daddy.  he is a follower of Jesus, a good teacher, a faithful husband, a self-sacrificing and loving daddy and pa.  i celebrate him, even if it is a couple weeks late, and thank the Lord for putting me in my daddy's life.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

how's the fruit?

we were running late.  the baby was screaming though his diaper was clean and he was freshly nursed, shoelaces were needing to be tied, one child was still in the shower, dinner plates were strewn all over the kitchen with some still on the table, and my hair still up in the disheveled knot on the top of my head that had kept it out of my face during the early morning garage sale we held and the 2 soccer games we played in (well, i cheered at) immediately after.  one child yelled from the other room how he couldn’t find the matching shoe, another was digging in the basket of clean clothes that had sat in the living room corner all week trying to find socks, while one more ignored every effort to insist he get ready quickly.  and the phone kept incessantly ringing.

it was then, in the midst of the mounting pressure and decibel level in my house, that i completely lost it.  yes, i opened my mouth...

i am sharing today at 5 minutes for faith about my struggle with my words.  i would love for you to stop by!


Friday, October 19, 2012

to really look

word for the day:  look


there is something about the look of love.  the way that he looks at him.  the way the other looks at me behind the camera.

in the midst of the busy-ness of life, i find there are times when life slows suddenly to a present moment and i am able to really look at those around me and see.

see who they are - look into their eyes, beyond their actions and words.  i study the uniqueness of their features... the structure of the cheekbones or specific hue of the eyes.  my heart melts a bit from prior hardness and walls protecting to just get through the tasks of the day and i feel the realness of relationship.

i wonder, is this how He looks at me?  while holding the whole universe together in Himself, does He pause when He catches my eye and really look into me and feel the warmth rise up in His heart that i feel when i look at one of my little ones?  does He see past my changing actions and fleeting words and see into who i am? 

you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eye... songs of song 4:9

He really sees.


i like these writing exercises.  sometimes it is good to just write and not over-think it.  i know not all of my readers write their own blogs, but if you do consider joining in.

5 minute friday rules:
1. write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. link back here and invite others to join in.
3. please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them.

you are welcome to leave a link to your 5 minute friday post if you wrote one - i would love to read it.  


Monday, October 15, 2012

i remind myself of all that You've done

it is a busy fall morning around these parts - not much time to even type out these short words as the littlest one reaches for the computer keys.

when it is hardest - those are the times that i most need to give thanks for all He has done and still is doing.  this is what i purpose my heart to do today.

it reminds me of my cousin's song:
when my heart is overwhelmed and i cannot hear Your voice
i'll hold onto what is true though i cannot see
if the storms of life they come and the road ahead gets steep
i will lift these hands in faith
i will believe

i remind myself of all that You’ve done
and the life I have because Your Son
Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
i am Yours, i am forever Yours
mountain high or valley low
i sing out remind my soul
that i am Yours, i am forever Yours

when my heart is filled with hope
and every promise comes my way
when i feel Your hands of grace rest upon me

staying desperate for You God
staying humbled at Your feet
i will lift these hands and praise
i will believe

i remind myself of all that You’ve done
and the life i have because Your Son

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
i am Yours, i am forever Yours
mountain high or valley low
i sing out remind my soul
that i am Yours, i am forever Yours

i am Yours
i am Yours
all my days
Jesus, i am Yours 
brian johnson

how about you give it a quick listen?  i am sure it will encourage you just like it encourages me.

also, go to the prayer room archives and listen to the misty edwards devotional from sunday, october 14th at 6pm - from about 30 minutes to 45 minutes into the set is the most amazing spontaneous song that spoke straight to my heart this morning.  if it speaks to you as well, come back and let me know! 

still counting gifts to 1000...

810 - 824:

810. 10 lbs of pomegranate for $3... and processed!

811. the washer and dryer my papa and nana bought for us when we first bought this home 9 years ago - i doubt there has ever been a gift so used!

812. re-purposing the yarn from a favorite cranberry colored sweater that had begun to unravel... oh what to make?!

813. being able to call my mom to pray with me on the phone when it has just been one of "those" days.

814. ran 1.5 miles straight with no pain!

815. beautiful skies every morning!

816. leaves changing colors - it surprises me every year how much this simple thing delights me.

817. "skipping" out on something saturday afternoon to have some much needed space alone (well, with just the baby) - made cookies for an event that night, read my bible, listened to the prayer room, painted my nails, drank some tea, and chatted with my sister.

818. an amazing stretching exercise video my sister-in-law loaned me.

819. hearing giggles (and yes, sometimes screams intermingled) from the other room.

820. His grace is sufficient for me.

821. His mercies are new EVERY morning - and how i need new mercy!

822. spending time with my daddy.

823. that my sister really is my best friend.

824. He is my Rock.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

if you haven't liked this facebook page, you can in the upper right of this post.  you can also follow this blog or subscribe in a reader.  i would love to keep in better touch with you! 

please leave a link to your list of gifts in the comments and i will come visit your blog as well!  i love to give thanks together.


Friday, October 12, 2012

to finish the race strong

seeing as though my 3rd son had his jog-a-thon today, today's 5 minute writing prompt was perfect! 

word for the day:  race


someone once said to run the race as though to win the prize.

being a runner, this resounds with me deeply. 

as excited as i may be about the idea of running, many times i don't feel like running when i start out.  it takes a good half mile or so to get into a rhythm of feet hitting hard the ground below.  i have a goal in mind, and whether i feel like it or not, i am determined to achieve that goal.

i am determined to finish the race strong.

there is a crown waiting for me.  much like the gold medal hanging around his neck.  if i can keep in view the well done at the end, the crown of glory that never fades away, the warm welcome into His kingdom where there will never again be sorrow or this sometimes debilitating pain of this age... keep my eye on the prize set before me.

He endure for the prize set before Him - He walked the lonely road to calvary where He gave it all. 

i endure for the prize set before me - i can see Him waiting at the finish line, cheering me on, and holding the prize that He has set aside

just. for. me.

and so i push through.  i press on.  i take those next few steps, the leaps, the bounds into the sometimes unknown so that i can finish this race knowing that i gave it my all and ran with everything within me. 

those who have gone before me stand on the sidelines cheering me on.


if you want to join in, the instructions are below.

5 minute friday rules:
1. write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. link back here and invite others to join in.
3. please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them.

if you write a 5 minute friday, let me know -  i would love to visit your blog and read what comes spilling out when writing against the clock!  


Monday, October 8, 2012

I AM the Lord your Provider

but seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. matthew 6:33

still counting gifts to 1000...

799 - 809:

799. gas in the van, and that God isn't intimidated by the rising gas prices like i am.

800. enough grace for today - do not worry about tomorrow...

801. the smell of coffee beans.

802. sun rays bursting through the fluffy clouds this morning.

803. crisp air.

804. pretty nail polish.

805. listening to misty edwards in the prayer room (via my computer) this morning.

806. looking back at old baby pictures and remembering how cute they all were and how chubby!

807. roasted fennel for the 1st time.

808. winter squash in the pantry.

809. the mundane activities that fill my day, and often wear me out, do not go unnoticed nor unvalued by God.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

if you haven't liked this facebook page, you can in the upper right of this post.  you can also follow this blog or subscribe in a reader.  i would love to keep in better touch with you! 

please leave a link to your list of gifts in the comments and i will come visit your blog as well!  i love to give thanks together.


Friday, October 5, 2012

you're welcome

word for the day:  welcome


"thank you."

"you're welcome."

i say it so automatically, almost like i am listening to a recording of my own voice.  how often do i stop to think about what it means?

you. are. welcome.

you are invited into my life.  you are free to come close.  i am open to your being near.

we so often place welcome mats on the doorways to our homes, but when things are messy, life is messy, we shut our hearts and shut our doors.

we may leave the appearance of the invitation to community - communion with others - but withdraw in shame and fear into seclusion.

slow it down.  allow yourself to hear, and really believe, the words that you are saying.

"thank you."

you. are. welcome.

you might make me mighty uncomfortable and i don't really want you to see all my mess and really know all of who i am because it may be more than you can handle at times, but

you. are. welcome.


if you want to join in, the instructions are below.

5 minute friday rules:
1. write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. link back here and invite others to join in.
3. please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them.

if you write a 5 minute friday, let me know.  i would love to visit your blog and read your heart.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

is He enough?

so much has gone not the way i would have liked in the past 24 hours.

in the midst of my distraction by more important things, i have managed to set one kitchen towel on fire - not noticing it until there were real flames. i burnt a pot of chickpeas.  my favorite stone pan broke in two. (and we haven't left talking about the kitchen yet!)  my house, the one thing that is seemingly in my control, is completely a disaster and out of control.

isn't that they way it is for us as broken humans - when so much is out of our control, we grasp to hold tightly to the few things we thing we think we control. 

isn't that all a control spirit really is... a person who is afraid?  when feeling small and staring into the big unknown, so often we become "control freaks" over the things that don't even really matter.

i get so upset by the dirt on the floor, but really is the dirt all that important since we are but made of dust?

i have to finally ask myself the question: is it going to be about the wasted food, small kitchen fire, and crumbs on the floor or at the end of the day is He enough?

am i going to insist on the appearance of having it together and having all the answers or am i going to fall back in trust into His arms and believe He is there to catch me?

is He alone really enough?

i have a testimony about Jesus,
He carries me through my worst storms -
i only call on Jesus,
i'm leaning on His everlasting arms.
                                     jon thurlow


Monday, October 1, 2012

i am a runner

i am a runner. 

well, i think of myself as a runner.  i used to be a runner.  i haven't really been a runner for 7 years, but i still identify myself as a runner. 

there are many things in life that got in the way of my running - having babies, messed up knees that needed physical therapy, having babies, no sleep, hurting knees, having babies... 

you get the idea. 

yet i still think of myself as a runner because of the passion i have had for running in the past.

when i went to physical therapy last time (see how i have to make a distinction that this wasn't the only time), they told me to find another sport.  

how about swimming they suggested?  i love swimming in the lake, but doing laps?  i last maybe two lengths of the pool and then i am ready to move onto something else.   

how about the elliptical machine?  being stuck in a gym with no change of scenery did not entice me much either.  i am an outdoors kind of girl, looking for the wide open spaces and thriving off the feeling on my feet pounding on the hard uneven surfaces of the earth.  you know, they told me, it is the mommy/runners that keep us in business.

so, since my body needed to recondition to my beloved past-time in order to not be injured in the process, they gave me a gradual plan to start running again.  to give you a context of what i thought was "gradual", i had just restarted running after having my second son uriah right before i had to get all sorts of evaluations on my knees. my brother-in-law was running at the time, so i told him we would start with an easy two miles.  compared to my 3-4 times a week 6 miles a day in the past, this seemed like cake to me.  it was no angelfood cake to my knees.  i was in pain and limping and bewildered why this short distance could take such a toll on my body.

well come to find out, my physical therapists recommended i start out running 3 minutes a day, 3 times a week, increasing each week by no more than 10% in distance or time each week.  

you read that right.  3 lousy minutes. 

runners know that isn't even long enough to get muscles warmed up and in a rhythm.  they told me:  if you are insistent on staying a runner and not finding another sport, you have to be patient with your muscles to restrengthen and retrain to prevent further injury and the dreaded runner's knee surgery.

i see so much parallel in this whole situation with my prayer life with the Lord.  

many times i evaluate the present health of my life in God with what i have done in the past - i still think of myself as that person in the Lord that i once was.  we have all had mountain top experiences:  the 40 day fast in college that was the clearest time in life of hearing God;  the times of laying down all those other things to seek Him more and find His face; the times when the hunger for the Word of God was so great we read through every book of the Bible still wanting more

but, it can be a little shocking to get down to the details of what am i doing NOW?  how long has it been since i was that person and who is the person am i today?  am i willing to give up the passion and pursuit i once had that so many will just attribute to youthful zeal?  do i have the discipline and patience required to retrain my muscle in God and rebuild the intimacy of past days?

you see, i cannot survive off the manna from ten years ago. 

God told the israelites that He would give them enough manna - fresh "what is it" bread from Heaven  - for today.  if they stored up some in a bottle for tomorrow because they did really great collecting extra, the maggots would come and it would be destroyed. 

there was always more than enough, but the fresh encounter was always what was required.

being a full-time mommy, part-time manager of the world, keeps me rather busy.  but i have found that being a radical lover of God will take the same focus and determination it is taking to become a runner again.  regardless of our present situation, none of us get a free pass to eat old manna. 

even if i had an empty 4 hour un-distracted time slot to seek Him today, i may not have the motivation or the lack of boredom to seek Him that long and not feel sore, discouraged, and very aware of the hardness of my heart afterwards. 

but i do have the ability to build up my endurance and desire (muscles) day by day, starting even with what seems as worthless as minutes a day.

- i also always have the option of believing the few minutes will never get me anywhere, and  stay spiritually out of shape, living in the fantasy that i am in the spiritual state i was 10 years ago because i have a distant memory of the mountain top experience. -

this morning i ran for 12 minutes with no sore knees.  quite the accomplishment if you factor in the discouragement and temptations to quit on all of those 3 minute, 4 minute, and even 5 minute days that made me acutely aware that i am not where i once was.

i won't quit pursuing the knowledge of the One who set my heart ablaze. i am a runner.  i am a passionate lover of the One who saved my soul.  the awareness of my current brokeness and weakness only causes me to love Him more.

i must have the fresh manna for today.

taste and see that He is good.

*edited from the archives

still counting gifts to 1000...

787 - 798:

787. songs the Lord drops in my head in the morning to encourage me.

788. a clean minivan.

789. little projects on the house... step by step.

790. warm oat groats ready in the crockpot when we wake up.

791. more grace from the Lord when it all starts to feel like too much.

792. the minute a day i get to carve out to strengthen my spiritual muscles.

793. a 12 minute run that left my knees still feeling good!

794. the little hints that fall is coming - leaves just starting to change even with this triple digit weather.

795. slowly selling things... simplifying.

796. so many reasons to celebrate.

797. feast of tabernacles on saturday night - reminding me we are a sojourning people and to continually give Him thanks.

798. the joy of the Lord is my strength.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

if you haven't liked this facebook page, you can in the upper right of this post.  you can also follow this blog or subscribe in a reader.  i would love to keep in better touch with you! 

please leave a link to your list of gifts in the comments and i will come visit your blog as well!  i love to give thanks together.


Monday, September 24, 2012

what i have learned having 5 kids...

life lessons from having 5 kids

1. life goes so quickly... don't wish this season away for the next.

2. poopy diapers are what they are and aren't the end of the world.

3. there is beauty or frustration in every moment - i get to choose which i focus on.

4. i am a better mama, a better wife, a better friend, a better human being if i get a few minutes in the Word each day.

5. the smiles and sweet sounds of a baby can wash away the fears, frustrations, and failures of the day.

6. somehow God always provides enough even when it doesn't make sense on paper.

7. noisy is relative.

8. quiet is also relative.

9. the reaction to the statement "i have 5 boys" will never get old.

10. once i hit 5 kids, strangers have no filter on the questions they ask about personal life.

11. people think i am some sort of hero or crazy woman to have 5 kids, but really i am just the same girl inside i always have been... and not that different than any other woman i know.

12. prayer is the most important key to every day... and a prayer-less day usually is a disaster.

13. God speaks constantly through the mouth of babes if i have ears to hear.

14. it is much harder to cook enough to have leftovers than it ever seems in the moment.

15. the desire to have no regrets will drive me to do or say crazy things that don't fit my "personality."

16. real friends are hard to come by and should be cherished and valued.

17. saying "i love you" sometimes can get more mileage than long talks that may waste words and time.

18. i love my parents more and more as i stumble along this parenting journey - thank you daddy and mama for the risks you took and the mistakes you made and the love you poured out because i have courage to do the same because of all you gave.

19. you don't have to be a perfect parent to be a darn good one.

20. the most important gift to give a child is an example of a real relationship with God

21. the second is a loving, though imperfect, committed marriage.

22. both relationship with God and with a spouse take work, time, and energy.

23. forgiveness is the most important lesson i can teach my kids and learn myself.

24. listen more.  talk less.

25. apologize often.  humbling myself will never go out of style.

still counting gifts to 1000...

769 - 786:

769. oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.

770. soccer practices.

771. time to work on the much neglected house work.

772. feeling the connection with my boys' hearts.

773. grace to let down my guard and break down the walls.

774. the constant opportunity to bear my cross in relationships around me.

775. the humbling effect of the cross, even when i despise it.

776. that it is by grace i am saved, for i sure can't seem to do it right.

777. the tenderness of the Lord when i feel pretty small.

778. as far as the east is from the west, that's how far He has removed our transgressions from us.

779. starting to run again!

780. the evidence of the Holy Spirit's activity in my life on the occasions i am actually able to keep my mouth shut.

781. a praying grandma.

782. beauty all around me.

783. the amazing revelations on God and life that spill out of my 4 year old's mouth.

784. worship times on friday nights.

785. the frequent reminders to stay here in the moment, to be present, to soak in the now of my children and my life because it won't be the same tomorrow.

786. knitting... the moments here and there i can pick up where i left off and knit.

i am linked up at a holy experience.

if you haven't liked this facebook page, you can in the upper right of this post.  i would love to keep in better touch with you!


Monday, September 17, 2012

dear me at 15...

dear me at 15,

oh my.  how i look at you and have so much compassion for what you are going through.  you are a happy teenage girl who loves the Lord, but you have had a really hard year.  you are hurting still, even though you are afraid to show it.  you wonder at times if someone as young as you should have had to experience so much pain, so much loss, so much disappointment.  i know it doesn't feel fair, but God never promises life will be fair.  the good news is He really does work all things, even the really painful ones, together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.  He really does.

i know you are insecure right now about breaking up with that 1st boyfriend... the one you thought you might marry someday.  i know you feel kinda dumb using the "God told me so" card and like no one really believes you.  honey, you really did hear from God.

it is going to get much more painful over the next couple years with false rumors about you, betrayal, and your heart getting ripped into so many pieces.  but what you cannot see now is he was never the one God had for you to marry.  you will wait quite a while and choose to not date (a great decision, by the way), saying even that you never are going to get married because of the pain this boy caused you, but when you are 21 you will meet just the right one.  you will be so glad you chose to not date.

you did hear God about taking that "break" that broke your heart, and you really will hear God again when He tells you to change your college major plans to graduate a year early.  because you are so willing and tender to obey Him, even when you doubt you hear Him well, you will be in brazil and meet your perfect match when you "should have" been in your senior year of college still.  it was His still small voice telling you now and will tell you then.  trust Him and keep taking the risks to obey.  it will make so much more sense looking back and the pain of right now will seem so worth it.

i know your heart is so afraid of death.  losing a friend you cared about and then both your teenage cousins in a year's time hit hard.  in some ways i am sad that you had to grow up so quickly and not feel as "invincible" as many teens do, but let me tell you it will keep you on the straight and narrow.  you will live more sober than your friends and it keeps you out of a lot of trouble.  you want to end well and you wonder how old you will be when your end will come... you know that no one, no one, is guaranteed tomorrow and you will have scotty and daron in the back of your mind for the rest of your life as you make decisions.  they really never left you in a way.

i know it hurts so badly right now and it scares you that you think you are forgetting their voices... their faces.  i know you think you will never get the images of daron hooked up to life support out of your mind or how unreal they looked in the open caskets at the viewing.  but God is going to give you the most special gift.

in a couple years you will be laying on the floor of your church during a sunday night renewal prayer time and you will get a glimpse into heaven.  daron will approach you and he will look whole.  he will look so happy and healthy, and the images of him dead will be replaced with images of him alive.  the empty space their absence left will never really be filled, but as you grow up you will start to believe more in the reality of the resurrection of our bodies and you will be filled with hope that you really will be with them again.

i don't know if i should tell you that you will have many many more people you know and care about die in the next few years.  you will struggle and wrestle with this - i want to urge you to not keep it in or simply write in your journal... talk to someone about it.  talk to your mom and dad.  they won't think you are crazy or having morbid thoughts.  i know it is so hard to experience loss and know the finite part of life right now, but it will make you more compassionate to those going through it later on.  you see, God really does work all things for good.  He uses your broken places to minister to others who are hurting.

i know there is tension in your relationship with your dad.  let me tell you that God is so faithful and He brings so much healing and it gets so so goodlisten more - he has really good advice and perspective.  react less and realize that your emotions are not good leaders.  ask him to go to coffee and lunch with you - that one on one time with him will be one of your favorite things as you get older.  right before you meet your husband you will decide that one of the most important qualities you want in a spouse is someone who can really talk to your dad.  in fact, your husband will remind you so much of your dad that it will make you smile all the time.

enjoy the times being on the worship team with your mom - so much of this will shape your future in ministry.  humble yourself and be correctable - she isn't being old fashioned when she sends you home to change your clothes because your skirt is too short.  i know you roll your eyes often now, but later you will realize that she was right and you will sound old fashioned to other young girls... and you will be proud to be just like her.

your parents are your biggest cheerleaders.  i know you want to please them so much, but realize that you don't have to earn their love - you never had to.  listen more.  be defensive less.  they really are for you and not against you - later you will advise other people of the great ways your parents raised you as a teenager with trust and responsibility.  watch carefully how they do it because in not too terribly long you will be raising your own kids and calling them asking for advice.

i guess the most important thing i want you to know even though you have strived so hard to earn God's love and the love of those around you, stop striving!  you can't be a good enough girl for God to love you more.  He already offers it so freely and He knows your weakness and isn't intimidated by your strong emotions.  He knows you will mess up many many times and be tempted to beat yourself up.  all He is waiting for is for you to come to Him and surrender.  keep purposing to walk faithful, but come to Him when you mess up.  He will forgive you as many times as it takes.  you are going to learn that humbling yourself asking for forgiveness from those around is much better than trying to be perfect - the healing God will bring to your heart and your relationships is so good.

enjoy your brother and sister.  your mom was right - they will be your best friends as you keep growing up.  laugh, have fun, be real - you guys will make awesome memories.

one more thing - next summer you are going to go spend a week and a half in santa cruz with your cousins at your grandparents' house.  you will get homesick and want to go home early.  your grandpa is going up to northern california and will offer to drive you back home to redding.  he will offer to let you drive his bmw (it will make you feel really cool and nervous at the same time) and you will have such a special talking time on that 5 hour drive.  soak it in.  remember the stories and ask all the good questions.  really listen and commit it to memory.  that one on one time with him will be one of you most special memories after he dies.  you will think back on it often and be so glad that you were homesick and got to have those good talks with him all by yourself.  you will wish you remembered better and asked even more questions.

God loves you and He will never ever leave you.  hang in there - life isn't easy but it is really really good.

your 33 year old self

ever wondered what you would say to yourself when you were a teen?  this writing exercise was healing to my heart and i saw how involved the Holy Spirit has been in my life every step of the way.  He is so good!  join in at chatting at the sky!

still counting gifts to 1000...

759 - 768:

759. tears as writing to my younger self brought so much perspective and healing.  God is so good!

760. friends with whom i can share my heart and struggles.

761. the sweet and painful conviction of the Holy Spirit on my heart.

762. priceless opportunities to get one on one time with my different kids - connecting to their hearts.

763. morning prayer time with the boys on the drive to school.

764. cleaning out the cluttered cupboards - re-establishing some order.

765. reused peanut butter jars as water glasses.

766. my sweet david making new friends at pre-k.

767. heart connect with my oldest over ways we both are struggling.

768. God works all thing together for good for those who love Him!  all things!

i am linked up at a holy experience. and chatting at the sky.

if you haven't liked this facebook page, you can in the upper right of this post.  i would love to keep in better touch with you!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

maybe all we really need...

it is the living who give thanks to You, as i do today,
a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness. isaiah 38:19

it is so easy to look at our lives and only see what we are lacking.  maybe it is money.  maybe it is a lack-luster marriage.  maybe it is opportunity in career or ministry.  maybe it is friendship.  maybe it is a family.

for me, though it seems trite, it was just about chicken tonight... or my lack of chicken... 

come and visit me at 5 minutes for faith to read the rest.  i really love you all visiting over there and offering your thoughts and feedback in the comments.  i hope to encourage you today with what i am sharing!

i am linking up with barbie this week for fresh brewed sundays.

do you like this post?  consider subscribing to this blog and/or liking our facebook page to stay connected.


Friday, September 14, 2012

inability to focus

word for the day:  focus


it is so difficult for me to just slow down enough to focus.  my mind races a million miles an hour most days all day long.  having 5 little ones to care after doesn't help the focus problem.  i laughingly told my husband tonight after reading this silly prayer for my personality profile (enfp if you were curious) that i often interrupt even my own stories to go on a bunny trail and never end up saying what i wanted to say in the first place.

i want to write here... so many things are heavy on my heart that i want to share.  good things.  hard thing too.  but by the end of the evening when the last two of the littles are finally asleep and the house is quiet i am too tired to put together two thoughts that make much sense. 

the back to school thing hit me hard like a semi truck to the face.

oh how i need help figuring out a schedule that works for me or at least settling into the one i have right now!  so much i want to do... so much i want to say... so many places i would like to be...

but as long as i am trying to run in every direction and juggle all the different balls at the same time, i don't often do anything very well.  i usually end up telling you about the bunny that ran down that trail and don't ever get to the meat of what is really going on. 

how i need the Lord to help me focus!


if you want to join in, the instructions are below.

5 minute friday rules:
1. write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. link back here and invite others to join in.
3. please visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them.

if you write a 5 minute friday, let me know.  i would love to visit your blog and read your heart.

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