Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Beth Moore: Fire in your bones

Saturday I attended a Beth Moore event.  I've only seen parts of two videos of her speaking before, but am well aware that her Bible studies are well regarded.  There are two things I appreciate about Beth Moore.

First, she is excellent at bringing the historical perspective to life.  This is important because the meanings behind the words helps to understand what they really meant.  I loved all the vocabulary definitions.

Second, she is entertaining.  Being a good story teller is an important aspect to any engaging public speaker.

I took home two truths from this all day event.  These are the things that I've been carrying around with me - thinking about constantly.  Obviously I learned a few more things.  But for those things, I'd honestly have to go check my notes.  These two things were burned into my bones.

(And seriously - what is it with the number 2 today?  I seriously am not planning this!)

The first thing I took home is that we need to cleave to the Bible.

Definition of CLEAVE

:  to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly  

In today's time, there is a lot of questioning of the Bible.  And I have noticed (and Mrs. Moore noted) that in an effort to "win people over", we pick and choose which parts of the Bible we like and/or want.  It is almost as if we are ashamed of God Himself.

Here's the thing.  The Bible is the Bible.  It is given to us to guide us and keep us on track.  I think we can look around in today's society and understand that we really do need this unchanging, unwavering guidance.  And we need the WHOLE Bible.  Not just the first half.  And not just the second half.  Because together it brings context and understanding.

I've heard all the arguments before.  "It probably has lost its translation over the it isn't really right anyway."  "Things have been added or dropped or there are things missing."  There are so many!

I read an article the other day (here) about a discovery of a new page of the old testament.  It was a burnt piece found 45 yrs ago, but is one of the oldest found copies of the writing.  There weren't sure what it said, until technology today allowed them to read it.  Know what they found?  Levitcus.  As we have it today.

God is Sovereign.  This really hit home with me in a Bible study a few years ago when the speaker mentioned that the reason other kingdoms faded away was because something happened they didn't know about.  But God knows everything.  Think of all the times YOU were surprised!  God wasn't!  Ever!  Since He knows everything - not only will His kingdom not fade away but He is able to take care of business.  Yeah - we all have free choice.  But He knows who is gonna say YES! :)

At work I have a BUNCH of people on my team.  There are certain assignments I know I can give to certain people and they will get them down without any prodding.  There are some assignments I know that none of my team is willing to do.  Those I typically just do myself. Even though I'm leading this team - it is full of personalities that are rather strong willed.  (Meaning - I'm not going to get them to do anything they don't want to do.)  God operates in similar fashion...except better.  He knows His people far better than I know my team.

So in this sketchy time - instead of questioning the one thing God has given us to help answer questions...we need to CLEAVE to that sucker.  There is right.  There is wrong.  There is truth, forgiveness, calls for repentance, and love.  They do not cancel each other out, but they all exist at the same time.

This means...that I'm not going to be able to say "It's ok that you are sinning."  I can say "God loves you anyway."  And eventually (as with any sin), a time will come when God will ask you to choose Him over the sin.  It happens to all of us.

The other thing I took away from Beth Moore wasn't really even part of her message.  It was in the background of her message.  I realized I had fallen asleep.  I was walking through life looking around me instead of looking up.  I need to wake up.  I feel a deep stirring within me and God has already been talking my ear off.  Aside from reinforcing the message above, He has also reminded me that He made me the way I am specifically.  He reminded me that while these characteristics may seem like a bad thing, He needs them.  He reminded me that frequently He chooses work for us that isn't obviously a good fit.  But being Sovereign, He has His reasons.  (Why did He pick Gideon?  Or Jeremiah?  Or David?  Why does He pick ANYONE?) Those reasons aren't for me to question, just to trust.

What is it He has for me? I'm not sure entirely.  The message is still coming.  For now I have two (there is that number again!) tasks.  The first is to start writing.  So here I am - writing.  The second task I haven't started just yet but it is on my mind, heart and most importantly my list of things to get done. :)  It simply is to give more.

So here I go.  I anticipate it being an interesting year.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The blessing of a memory

Yesterday William and I celebrated our 16th anniversary with a date day.  We actually did this for the first time 5 or so years ago...and loved it so much that we have been doing it ever since.  We don't usually plan too heavily on the day - but we do kick around ideas.  We always start with breakfast.  Any time we can eat out in public without complete humiliation and embarrassment (i.e. kids), we absolutely do. 

Because the "Bigs" (the older two kids) were out of school, we went ahead and paid to send them to the daycare.  They only go a couple times a year and don't mind going too much.  If nothing else - they love seeing the "Littles" there and brightening their day.  But it freed us up to take one of the few working parent perks out there: 8 hr date day with little extra cost!

It was actually nice having all the kids in one spot.  Makes drop off that much quicker.

We decided to go to Jimmy's Egg for breakfast.  It turns on Fri around 8:00 in the morning is prime time elderly folks time.  The place was full of old people.

We sat down and quickly discussed what to order.  (We tend to order two things and split them at Jimmy's...)  A waitress came by to ask our drinks, and I noticed two people getting up to leave just behind her.  A "younger" man (60s) - was helping an elderly woman (90s) get up to leave.  First he pulled the table away from her a bit then steadied her as she stood.  While she held onto to the table he wrapped a shaw around her shoulders and hair.  Then he placed her purse over her head and helped her arm through the strap.  I was struck by the devotion and love that came from this man as he hepled her.  My guess was the man was her son and he was taking her out so she could be out and about a little. 

I sat there and though about my future and wondered how I'd end up - if my kids would be around to take me to breakfast now and then.

We ordered our breakfast and William and I soon turned the conversation to our daily plans.  The table next to us sat 3 more elderly people.  At one point, the wife of one of them two gentleman started getting on to him.  Apparently they were missing silverware and she asked "DID YOU JUST TAKE HIS [referring to William] SILVERWARE?"  William started laughing and said "The nerve!" and then pointed out the basket full of silverware behind his head.  They all laughed a bit - particularly at the fact she would apparently think her husband would do such a thing.

Back to discussing daily plans, I pulled out my phone and pulled up TripAdvisor to see if there was anything new around town to do.  As I started looking the accused silverware thief from the other table said "Hey! Hey!  Do you know what WPA stands for?" 

Deep in thought trying to get TripAdvisor open, I shook him off.  "No sir I don't."

He waved his hand after me and said "Can't you use THAT THING???"

"OH!" I replied.  "Yeah.  I guess I can do that!"  And William made a joke about having a computer right there in my hand - seems I could give the information to the man.  I opened up Google and typed up "WPA".  "Wireless Protected Access" I said.  I looked over and the 3 of them starred at me.  "Wire-what?"  The accused silverware thief replied, his head crinkled in confusion.

I suddenly realized my audience and repeatedly slowly what I had said...all the while wondering why they cared about such a thing.

They all shook their heads..."No..." he replied.  "This would be from the 1930's..."

"OH!"  I said again.  William is completely laughing at this point.  "Let me look again."  I used my Google prowess to determine they were referring to "Works Progress Administration" - a government organization whose purpose was to put people back to work during the Great Depression.

They all nodded in approval and went back to their conversation.

A few minutes later the silverware theif hopped up from his chair and stood next to our table.  "That organization was important.  I was born in 1931.  My parents had no money and no food.  The WPA put people back to work and handed out these rations that were just God-awful.  But we ate them anyway."

As he talked a lot of thoughts were swimming around in my head.  I thought about people today and their version of destitution.  I'm pretty sure contemporary Americans' version of poor and 1930s version of poor are pretty different.  I wondered if terrible rations were handed out these days - if people would be grateful.

Silverware thief sat back down, still talking.  He mentioned he and his wife had been together for 65 years.  65 folks!  They had been married almost longer than my father had been alive.  William told them today was our 16th - and we both acknowledged it was no where near 65. 

There was more banter and it was pleasant.  I was reminded of my Great Aunt Dot and Uncle Jack.  They reminded me so much of them - except a bit reverse.  My Aunt Dot couldn't hear worth a hoot - but it seemed it was the husband in this dynamic duo who had trouble hearing.  They gave the waitresses a hard time, and in fact one of them sat down at one point at the table to read an article in a paper that he wanted to show her.  It was clear they were regulars...and Jimmy's Egg was for this couple about like Bob Evans was for my Aunt and Uncle.  (They went EVERY DAY.) 

Memories swirled around in my head.  The last time we visited, we had Rebekah.  I was able to sit with my Aunt Dot.  She could never hear me (she was tone deaf - and I spoke entirely too high), so I had been nervous about visiting with them without my parents.  It was one of the best visits I had ever had.  She went on and one about life when she was young.  She told me about some of her and my grandmother's adventures, how she met Jack.  I loved every minute of it.

As we said our goodbye's Aunt Dot quietly pressed money into my hands and hugged me.  I tried to protest, but there was no arguing with her.  "Gas money!" she said.  I had been looking forward to the next time we'd come out and arranging a visit again.  But it wasn't meant to be.  It was the very last time I saw my beloved Aunt Dot.  I hang onto the memory of that visit because really it is all I have of her left.

I told William I wanted to pay for Silverware Theif's breakfast - but they paid for themselves before we could tell a waitress.  I pleaded with William, that they were clearly regulars.  We could probably leave some money with one of the waitresses for them the next time they came in.

As they got up to leave he stopped by.  "Have a good day!" we told him.  "You too!  Happy anniversary.  Oh and - we paid for your meal."

I could just see my Aunt Dot and Uncle Jack standing before me.  I'm not a crier people.  I'm really not.  I don't cry at movies, I didn't even really cry when my children were born.  I didn't cry on my wedding day.  I just don't cry.

Tears slipped down my cheek as they walked off.

When William and I are old and figure out our version of Bob Evans, I hope we can be a blessing as these folks clearly were to those around them.  This encounter truly set the tone for the day - as we ran into many blessings throughout and talked about this all day long.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year's 2015

I'm laughing because one of my resolutions this year is to get back to blogging. Today I logged into my blog for the first time in a very long time.  What did I find?  3 unpublished posts about getting my life back.

Since Paul has been born, I simply haven't been able to get back to normal.  It is time and clearly it has weighed on my mind at least 3 times over the last year.  I have a list of things I really want to reincorporate into my life.  They are:

* Spending time with God in the mornings
* Writing
* Reading
* Exercising

These are not really in order.

I'm hoping this year will be the theme of me returning to normal - or finding a new normal. 

Today - I will count as successful since I did at least one thing for myself. 

Blog: Check 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mary and Martha: A lesson for the busy

I actually started this post back in August.  But I never got around to finishing I scrapped it and started over.  And then I scrapped it again and started over again.  And here it is New Year's and hopefully I can get it finished!

I've missed my blog.  I enjoy writing.  I've always thought I'd write a book someday, but in the meantime this little blog fills that void.  I'd love to get back to it. But God has had other things in mind for my time lately.  He has been busy teaching me about Mary and Martha.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

~ Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

For a long time I never understood Jesus' perspective here.  After all, it wasn't that Martha was doing things she shouldn't.  The house does need cleaned.  Preparations do need to be made for the meal.  There are many things that need done to keep the household moving.  And in those days?  I shudder to think of what laundry was like.  Or meal prep.  The invention of washer, dryers and refrigerators has done so much for the modern woman.  Yet we are still so very busy.

The lesson began at the beginning of last summer.  I had childcare lined up for my return to work, but it fell through.  So I had to find new arrangements quickly.  There were lots of unknowns (we had no idea what elementary school Peter was going to attend...for example) so making long term decisions became pretty hard.  Normally I rely on God for such decisions - but I also have an idea of what His plans are.  He remained mum on what His intent was for our family on many things.  I had to live day by day.

Childcare arrangements for the summer were lined up pretty quick.  This was a God thing.  A friend needed a job and it so happened to work out.  BUT...these arrangements were to last just until school started.

I normally spend a lot of time researching, visiting and such in order to find God's best.  I rely on Him to show me the way, but I have always felt that we do have a duty to see what that is.  But this summer - God told me to sit down and relax.

I'm not good at relaxing.

Or sitting for that matter.

School started and He cleared the way for many things. We settled on sending Paul to the daycare we use, as it was opening up a brand new baby room.  There was a gap between when the summer care was going to end and when the infant room was going to open.  I was able to work from home (WFH) while waiting for the daycare infant room to open up.  I was SO BLESSED by this.  I got to kick butt and take names at work while spending more time with my baby - more time than I had ever gotten to spend with any of the other kids.  In fact, since my return to work I have had the distinct feeling of having baby Paul with me nearly ALL the time.  Not the "I NEED A BREAK!" feeling.  The "I'm getting to enjoy my baby more than ever!" feeling.

The infant room opened up and the birthday season passed - and for the first time ever I was cool as a cucumber.  Sept/Oct tends to be crazy busy.  The in laws tend to visit extra, birthday parties to plan and school activities all pile up - I promise myself every year I'm going to enjoy my kids' birthdays and every year I finish the season feeling stressed and wondering where the time went.

But this year - none of that happened.

So I have in fact been super busy.  I've had many things to do and unending lists.  But I found that time and time again, when I leaned on the Lord - everything got done.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. 
~ Proverbs 3:5-6
One afternoon I had a fussy baby on my hands, piles of laundry and other things that need to be done.  I was just plain tired and wishing for a nap.  So I took one - me and the baby of course.  I can't tell you how, but by that evening I was refreshed and looking around and found that everything had been done that needed to be done.  Every last thing.  It was amazing.

This is how God operates.  He's here in the midst of busy life and if we focus on Him, He makes the way available that everything that needs done is done.

When we stress ourselves and we are overwhelmed, the simple fact is we have taken on work that does not belong to us.  God is sovereign.  And that is a big word that a lot of people understand without really taking in the fully meaning.  Since God is sovereign - He knows your day to day life.  He knows what must be done and really what doesn't.  He knows your life better than you do.  And if you give these things to Him and let Him guide you even in the mundane day to day life - He will not steer you wrong.  And what this ends up looking like is you starting out a Sunday afternoon yearning for a nap with a to-do list a mile long and ending the day feeling refreshed and ready for the week to start.  All that is required of us is to let go.

And yes - He can hear those million reasons of why you can't.  Everyone has them.  I had them myself.

In the case of childcare search - if I didn't research how was I supposed to find His answer for me?  Turns out since I didn't have time, God sent the answers knocking on my door.  We all know faith is an action - and the action was simply opening up the door.  "Oh hi!  You want to watch my kid?  SURE!"  The action wasn't spending endless hours researching, touring and interviewing until *I* found the mystical answer.

In the case of countless TO DO lists - it meant I cut that list in half.  For Rebekah's sleepover party, I bought a couple activities and a cake and called it done.  The girls had SO MUCH FUN.  I didn't have endless activities like last year.  The party wasn't picture perfect - but life doesn't have to be to enjoy it.  The girls hung out and entertained themselves.  It was magical.  The activities I did plan, Rebekah told me she wanted.  So really - she planned her own party.  I just picked up a few things.  That is what it looks like to take a step back and let things go.

And now - this is a biggie - Christmas season just passed.  As if that weren't enough, I had knee surgery and am working on healing from that.  So it means I trust my husband to take care of some things that I actually like to take care of - and be nothing but GRATEFUL because that is what you are to another human being when they help you.  Our Christmas went off without a hitch. My oven even died, but because the Lord has been teaching me these things I just shrugged my shoulders.  It actually died at the perfect time (in between breakfast casserole and turkey cooking) and because of the way my day had worked out from the day before, I was in the kitchen to notice.  My stove dying on the worst day of the year couldn't have worked out more perfectly.  God was in that. 

So in summation, Jesus is simply asking us to understand that yeah...stuff needs to be done.  But don't put the busywork above relationships.  Take it day by day.  Each day is going to have a priority.  Today, it might be to vacuum.  The next day - it may be a much needed nap.  And in the end, if you prioritize sitting at His feet soaking in His glory each and every day, everything else works out.  God doesn't leave us hanging.  And He is big enough to not only handle the BIG HUGE world problems - but He is able to ease the burdens of the stressed out. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Peter at 5

I don't think I've done a post on Peter in awhile.  I figured I ought to hit all the kids.  There is so much to remember and so little brain power to do so.

Peter seems so grown up to me.  In the last year he has gone from a tiny tike to a little boy in no time flat.  I'm going to blink and he will be a young I've been trying hard to not blink.

One of his favorite things to do is to smile at me.  He somehow got the idea that I love to see his smiles.  I do.  But I never told him that.  (I think someone must have told him at school.)  He has dirty blond hair and freckles across his nose.  Combined with his big blue eyes I do try to remember so clearly these days.  Because someday in the not too distant future I will be looking up at him to smile.

Peter has discovered playing video games.  His current favorite is Sklyander's.  Talk about a money marketing SCAM!  You buy the game ($60!) and then you shell out $10-15 for each character.  It is a roll playing type.  Yipes!  Makes it easy to shop for him, but many little figurines does a fella need?  He's got a drawer full.  His second favorite is Star Wars.  Yes, a boy after my own heart.

His favorite color is black.  He loves skulls and mohawks.  Perhaps he'll belong to the skater crowd when he grows up.  Who knows!

He doesn't particularly like cleaning and it is like pulling teeth to get him to help.  I've noticed he doesn't see details as easily as Rebekah does.  What I mean is very easy for Rebekah to figure out to put the doll toys with the doll house, the legos in the lego box and the Mr. Potato Head parts in the right container.  Peter seems to see 'toys' and throws them in containers.  Period.  He reminds me of William in this way.

We've just passed through a rough spot where Peter was getting in trouble daily at school.  We had trouble with him exposing himself and playing "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" games.  Developmentally speaking, this is normal.  The only difference is that we had ONE problem with Rebekah.  We had two solid weeks of problems with Peter.  To top it off - we had several stealing incidents and he started 'racooning' again.
Racooning:  The behavior of getting up at night and taking things. Typically things taken are put under or near his bed.  Alternatively, getting into mischief at night.
Here are three stories (which I'm sure I'll laugh at someday) that demonstrate.

Story #1
At night William frequently will run to the store.  This particular night he had stopped on his way home from the casino and got some ice cream.  The next morning I woke up and noticed the gate open.  I knew someone had been up during the night, but I wasn't sure who.  I went downstairs to wake up the older two kids.  As I was gently shaking them from their slumber, Max came running downstairs and straight under the bed.  He started licking something.  I peered down to see what it was and immediately noticed an ice cream container.  It was the brand new ice cream William had picked up the night before.  Completely ruined of course.  Peter had gotten up, apparently looked in the freezer and found the ice cream and brought it back to bed...hiding it under there.  That same day I also found my stain remover and fabric softener under the bed.  I asked him why he took those things and he just told me he was keeping them safe.

Story #2
About a week or so after the first story, I went to pick up Peter and was told he had brought a 'tool' to school.  They handed me the tool and it became immediately clear why the confiscated it.  The tool was super sharp - I later learned it was used for drilling holes in sheet rock.  I poked its pointy end and asked Peter where it came from.  He looked downcast, as he always does when he his about to get in trouble, and replied 'the basement'.  I took the tool home and gave it to William, who confirmed it indeed had been in the basement.  He had used it to drill holes in the sheet rock when we had a water leak awhile back.  It was on top of a shelf over the washer/dryer unites.

Later that same day the kids came running in.  "There is a hole in the fence!"  Let me preface this by saying we have had a lot of trouble with boards falling off.  It is an old fence that really needs to be replaced.  So we asked if a board had fallen off.  The kids replied " is an actual hole."  This puzzled William and I.  "Is it like where a knot was in a board?  A round circle that has fallen out?" I asked.  We have a few of those too.

"NO!" they replied.

"Well how did the hole get there?"  The kids shrugged their shoulder and told us they weren't really sure...but they were worried about Max (our escape artist dog) getting out.  So clearly the hole was large enough for him.

William made his way into the back yard to check out the fence. Very soon he came back in.

"Well there is indeed a hole in the fence.  And strangely, I found this chunk of fence on the ground.  It has a straight edge that perfectly matches the rest of the fence.  And so weird...I found this saw laying on the ground next to it.  I was pretty sure I left it on the shelf above the washer/dryer..."

The fence was fixed that day.  Rebekah supplied the idea and Peter supplied the tools.  They were trying to escape.

Story #3
On a Sunday morning I looked down and notice Peter's shorts weighed down.  There was clearly something in his pocket.  I point to the pocket and say "Hey Peter, what's in your pocket?"  The smile immediately disappears from his face and he fumbles around with his other pocket.  He pulls out a toy car, which I had already known he had brought.

"No...not that pocket." I said, trying to give him a chance to tell me the truth.  "The other pocket."

"Nothing is in that pocket."

I sighed and knew it must be bad.  Peter is not one to tell me the truth and it has really driven me batty.  (I'm a high truth person.)  "Peter, there is something in that pocket.  Take it out right now."  He slipped his hand in his pocket and pulled out a set of keys.

I went bananas.  I only imagined he had take the keys from somewhere and I had no idea where.  Someone was missing their keys!  "Peter!  Where did those keys come from?"  He stood there silent and unmoving - frozen with the keys dangling in the air.  I had to ask him 3 more times before he finally gave me an answer.

"At home."

They could have been from home, but I wasn't entirely sure.  I got down face level with him to make sure he understood.  Lying had been happening regularly so I really couldn't trust anything he was telling me. But he continued to repeat he got them from home.  I couldn't really do anything but take them home.  I later showed William and he thought perhaps they were the "lost" keys.  You know - all those useless keys you aren't sure why you are keeping?  All bundled together?

The very next day William ended up picking the kids up from school.  So he had the joy of being greeted by the teacher with her warm smile and poised disposition - the one that always told me Peter was at it again.  This time William got to learn that Peter had again taken the bundle of a few more.  Our motorcycle keys.  He took the keys to school and passed them out to his friends.

We did get all the important keys returned to us and most (if not all) the unimportant ones. When I asked Peter why he took them he just shrugged his shoulders.  

Oh the stories.  I'm sure there will be many more.  Peter is creative in his own right.  He isn't really all that interested in art, but he definitely has an interest in taking things apart and how things work. In fact, he has been waiting patiently for me to get all the pictures off my old phone so he can take that apart.  His patience has been amazing.

He struggles with self-control and impulsive behavior.  I'm confident he'll get that figured out one day.  Until then, we will just keep working with him.

He's funny, charming and confident in himself.  In fact, William told him the other day he was cute.  Peter was indignant and replied "No I'm not!  I'm awesome and cool!"  I love the confidence.  I want all my kids to know that they are absolutely awesome and cool!

He's also super caring.  He loves his baby siblings (he 'smothers' Paul the same way he 'smothered' Ruth!) and dotes on them.  He loves to kiss and hug Paul.  Ruth has been pushed to the back burner a bit (which we are working with Peter to understand that isn't nice), but I've had less trouble recently getting him to help Ruthie.  He's not nurturing like Rebekah.  But he is protective.  Fiercely so.  Don't mess with his siblings - that is for sure.  And I love that about him.

I also appreciate that if we hadn't had Ruth or Paul we would have never known exactly how loving this little boy could be.  I remember worrying, when I was pregnant with Ruth, whether he would accept her easily. I wondered if there would be jealousy issues.  There absolutely hasn't.  He's happy to share his space with those he loves.  And I would have never known if God hadn't chosen to bless us with 2 more special lives.

This fall is a huge milestone.  Peter starts the B.I.G. K. Eeek.  I'm not sure when that happened - but it is.  He's looking forward to starting kindergarten but I'm not sure he really understand what it all means. I think he mostly is just excited for a new adventure.