Monday, November 8, 2010

1000 Gifts: 171 to 184

When gratitude is bound by circumstances, lives are bound to bitterness.
Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

171. Miracles, the greatest that His mercies are new every morning.

172. Vulnerable teaching on difficult topics--truth spoken in grace.

173. Earlier sunrise.

174. A missed nap allowing for a late-sleeping toddler.

175. Remembering: pruning for greater beauty.

176. 66 degrees.

177. Truly seeing, some days.

178. Electricity.

179. When I get it right for them. Not today, but once in a while.

180. The sound of chains being loosed, little by little.

181. Hand-knit scarves.

182. The hope of reaching 1000 gifts.

183. New life, here already, arriving in June (clarification: my sister, not me!)

184. Jesus is coming soon. Come, Lord Jesus.

holy experience

Monday, November 1, 2010

Job Description

Our job is obedience. God’s job is results.
spoken by God through Lysa TerKeurst

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

1000 Gifts: 158 to 170

Honestly, today I don't feel much like speaking gratitude. Life feels heavy, difficult, confusing. But these days are, I suppose, when it's most crucial to choose to give thanks anyway.

158. This face, ornery, nestled in my lap.
159. The sweet smell of toddler sweat.

160. A nap with actual sleeping, two days in a row!

161. Finally cooking a real meal again.

162. Newborn babies.

163. The desire to change.

164. Sunshine.

165. Three dollar shoes.

166. Wild Cherry Pepsi.

167. A dishwasher, strange squeals and all.

168. Our faithful bus driver.

169. Choosing to speak thanks.

170. Always a chance to try again.

holy experience

A Call to Action

As long as he doesn't convert it into action, it does not matter how much a man thinks about his repentance.
C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

1000 Gifts: 144 to 157

Just a list, belated, this week:

144. Words that stir the soul.

145. A "GREAT!" first day of school.

146. Open-window weather.

147. The bigger girl still singing her heart out.

148. Quiet moments after earlier bedtimes.

149. The whir of pedals heading down the drive.

150. Parents who pray.

151. My best-friend sister.

152. The cabin.

153. Disagreeing but still accepting.

154. June bugs around the too-small table.

155. Being led well.

156. Birthday treats at school.

157. Choosing to hope.

holy experience

Sunday, August 22, 2010

1000 Gifts: 126 to 143

Some would call the conversations taking place this week around here nothing more than cliche. You know what I mean; I'm sure you've said or heard most of the back-to-school phrases about the summer flying by, kids growing up too quickly, and just plain wondering where the time has gone.

I tend to think, however, that perhaps those conversations are less about small talk and stating the obvious than about reflecting on the true desires of our hearts.

Sure, when I lament the swift passage of summer, it's partly about the end to leisurely, carefree days and fun spent in the sun or in the water. But for me, it's also about the longing to do more than just spend my time with my kids--my longing to really invest in them. To know them. To teach them what really matters. To see them transformed as they learn hard lessons and become who God created them to be. To admit to them the truth that I need the Gospel even more than they do, freeing them to freely grasp its power for themselves.

It's a realization that maybe, certainly, I could have done more, and now my chance, for this summer, is past.

And then I remember what I wanted to teach them: I need the Gospel. More.

So tomorrows will continue to come, summer or not, and I will try again, grateful.

126. New beginnings.

127. Singing herself to sleep.

128. False claims: "I'm not even tired!"

129. Last day at the pool.

130. Prayers for the new girl.

131. Clean(er) carpet.

132. Enough moonlight to light the ride home.

133. Ice cubes.

134. Laughing at yourself.

135. Friends who pray.

136. The Lighthouse.

137. The to-do list.

138. Seventeen years, better each one.

139. Saying out loud, "He's a good kid."

140. Not sweating the small stuff.

141. Mohawk mowing job.

142. Always just enough.

143. He is. Always enough.

holy experience

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Necessary Reminder

"...Reach out to the God who has already filled the gaps, and embrace Him as the Father Who doesn't need anything from you. You are freed from responsibility, and enabled, through grace, to be a part of the miracle."

Angie Smith, Bring the Rain

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Let it Go

Feeling a bit of a failure today. Even feeling like I shouldn't post this because it is 100% text (a no-no for blogging), 100% self-focused (who cares, anyway?) and probably 100% from a distorted perspective (which is why I'm writing it in the first place!)

Seems pretty immature and really just plain stupid to say that after the conversation over lunch with friends in which we talked about how it's "not about us," after the reading I've done just lately about "sacred parenting," and after the ways that the Lord reminds me that His power is now completely mine as well. But, it's the truth about how I feel at the moment nonetheless. And this is where I come to think it through.

A couple things are at the source of it, I think, so to get to the true root of it, I need to figure out what's at the source of them.

First of all, I'm just feeling sort of on the fringe. I don't quite fit in any of the groups with which I'm somewhat connected. I think perhaps at the core of that is my constant struggle to live with purpose because that is something that most of these people seem to have mastered (from what I can see of their lives)--singular focus and purpose.

Does my life in any way show what I'm really about? Do I even know what I'm really about, or do I just like to talk like I do? What is our family's purpose? How do we live that out, in our home and outside of it? Am I living out the true and best purposes of parenting? What are the purposes of hard seasons in my life? Am I teaching my kids to see the deeper purpose of the things they encounter in this world?  I just feel like I'm drifting, unconnected and without  a steady course to follow.

Second, I reread my post from the start of summer and can see so many ways I've failed  at being intentional with my kids and failed at being consistent in spending time listening to and being with the Lord. A better way to say it would be that I can see very few ways that I've been intentional about either of those areas of life... and those two things, if I had to say it simply, are what my life is supposed to be about.

Have I spent truly joyful time with my kids? Have I in any way pointed them to the Lord during this short season when we have more time at home together? Have my words and instruction built them up or just torn them down and shamed them? Do I truly want to hear God's will for my life or do I let myself believe I'm doing it pretty well on my own?

I often think back to the year I took the first year of LHM (Leaders for the Harvest Ministry). We were working through putting our values onto paper. One of the leaders cautioned us to check our lives to see if we truly lived them out or if what we claimed to be our values were really just aspirations. To me, that cries hypocrite! And when I examine my life, I'm afraid that's most often where I land.

{I'll insert here that during LHM, we also learned about personality types. I was among the 1% of people in the class who fell into the category which is highly analytical and sets an extremely high (and constantly rising) bar for themselves. So I realize I am exceptionally hard on myself, but at the same time I am gifted at analyzing the deeper aspects of situations which most others tend to gloss over. So I'm totally unrealistic but completely logical all at the same time! Just to give you a little perspective on how my mind works as you read this post.}

Third, I seem to have lost any ability, limited as it has always been, to parent with grace and creativity. My discipline techniques fall primarily within the well-known "squash technique." Squash any resistance and regain control! Now, if weren't of the personality described in the previous paragraph , I would chalk it up to parenting 4 kids ranging from a strong-willed 13-year-old to a spunky 2-year-old and explain it away easily enough. But I know well that it runs much deeper than that. I read a paragraph about Gary Thomas's book Sacred Parenting that summed it up quite well (pretty sure she's paraphrasing, so please forgive if this is a direct quote I should be citing; I haven't read the book for a few years!):

When purpose gets crowded out: When we neglect the spiritual aspect of our parenting, we easily become resentful, controlling, intolerant and demanding of our children in ways that are not only unfair but unloving.
I'm pretty sure my instinctive responses to my kids have fallen most frequently (and increasingly frequently as the summer has stretched on) into the categories of controlling, intolerant, demanding, unfair and unloving. Yuck, yuck,and double yuck. Not a lot of the Fruits of the Spirit growing on this tree.

As I typed that, I'm instantly reminded of God's promise to me a 2 1/2 years ago before Tori was born... a promise of pruning. Cutting back, bare branches, dormant growth. But He gave me an even greater promise of long-lasting fruit and deeper beauty yet to be born in my life. And He's given me glimpses over the past two years of the blossoms He's sprouting in me and my life. Oh, He is so good!

What an encouragement that even as I write about the ugly realities of my life and the struggles I continually face, He reminds me of what He's up to, what His true purposes always are. Reminds me that His promises are unchanging even when I am not. Reminds me that part of the pruning process is getting rid of the dead branches to make room for the new and beautiful growth to come in later seasons. (Granted, I'd like a little more clarity and specifics than He often offers, but despite all my questions, one thing I've learned is to accept the way He speaks!)

Do you see now why I have to process this way?  It just takes me a lot more words than some to get to the point of understanding! Feels so good to let it go.

I John 3:9

Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. (NLT)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

1000 Gifts: 113 to 125

I kept putting off this post with the intention of adding photos. When will I learn? So here it is, still without pictures, just as it was Sunday night when I could've posted it on time!

113. Best efforts and broken records - 17.34 seconds!

114. When transformation is noticed

115. Father-son outings

116. Fish sandwiches at McDonald's with a homeless man

117. Hope-giving conversations

118. A mattress that doesn't wiggle

119. Worship with no inhibitions

120. Clear days on the calendar (I've listed this before. One of my very favorite things!)

121. Water parks and roller coasters

122. Dragonflies

123. A phone call from a friend on her own birthday

124. Anticipation of a day of revival for my soul

125. Sisters and hope

holy experience

Monday, July 19, 2010

1000 Gifts: 100 to 112...

When I began my list of 1000 Gifts, Ann sent me a sweet "welcome" e-mail and suggested that I might consider putting a timeframe on making 1000 choices to live with gratitude... a goal to spur me on as I'd shared with her I was struggling to be consistent in recording my blessings. Being the perfectionist with a fear of failure that I evidently still am aware of the unpredictability of life from week to week, I chose not to set a deadline. I've been discouraged by unmet unrealistic personal goals far too many times and didn't want to go there this time. Bad choice.

So, once again, I'm back, choosing to smile at the ever-present but seldom-noticed beauty around me:

100. Dragonflies, hope, and the promise of victory.

101. The mystery of prayer.

102. The hum of the little one as she drifts off to sleep.

103. Sweaty red-cheeked kids rushing in after dusk for a cold drink.

104. Weeping together when the load is heavy.

105. Good manners once in a while.

106. Fifteen dollars worth of inflatable fun.

107. Cousin-friends.

 108. Spending time with the our favorite Haitians.

109. Sweet corn.

110. Flyswatters.

111. Our Rescuer.

112. Morning. His mercies are new.
holy experience

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One Day At a Time

I'm still alive. Just buried alive. Digging out from vacation, a whirlwind trip to a wedding, Father's Day, an extra child staying here, evening work meetings for my husband, and my constant battle against efficiency dysfunction.

Someday I'll dig my way out and get back to more than mere survival.

Won't I?!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All I Can Say

Lord I'm tired
So tired from walking
And Lord I'm so alone
And Lord the dark
Is creeping in
Creeping up
To swallow me
I think I'll stop
Rest here a while

And didn't You see me cry'n?
And didn't You hear me call Your name?
Wasn't it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You'd remember
Where you sat it down

And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give

I didn't notice You were standing here
I didn't know that
That was You holding me
I didn't notice You were cry'n too
I didn't know that
That was You washing my feet

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

First Day of Summer

The long days of summer have been creeping up on us for a while now, and with school still in session, we've done our best to resist their charms. Bedtime was still a must, as waking on time was still a necessity. But now... finally.... summer! And with it, the knowledge of the few fleeting seasons I have left with my children to...

      Slow down.

After over a decade of parenting, enough chains have been loosed, enough thought patterns altered, enough habits refined that I truly long to make it a summer of purpose rather than merely survival. While I'm saddened admitting that has been our reality for so long, I've also finally learned (am learning?) that while I don't get any "do-overs," I am offered endless "do-betters" by the grace of both a redemptive God and endlessly forgiving children. What a gift.


I can not bless these children, these gifts of mine, without first receiving the gift of your blessing.
     I praise you that every good and perfect gift comes from you. (James 1:17)
Bless me with the power of your Spirit; empower me to be a better "me" as I become more an extension of you.
     I praise you for giving me the desires of my heart and for giving me glimpses of their fulfillment. (Psalm 37:4)
May I delight in none but you, and may my children be overcome with the way you delight in them.

Break my heart where it does not yet yield to yours;
     mend it together into a heart with a deeper capacity to love, forgive, and bless.
May my children begin to see me as a woman of integrity and grace.

Allow me not to waver through unbelief, but
     to be strengthened in my faith...
          to give you glory...
               to believe that you have the power to do what you have promised. (Romans 4:20-21)

Thank you for the fresh slate... the first day of summer. I give it to you and ask that you do with it, with us... in us and through us... what you will.

Only by your grace, Father. Only you.


Monday, May 31, 2010

1000 Gifts: 79 to 99

I constantly wonder how serious/frequent bloggers do it. Is it streamlined and routine when you don't have to search your brain for reminders of how to use the most basic functions? Do they just need less sleep? Have a hired cleaning lady, perhaps? I don't know, but it takes me forever just to get this list posted.

But worth every moment it is.

79. The hope of paint color samples lying on the counter.

80. 80s sitcoms--finally, good clean TV.

81. Hands outreached, faces raised, bubbles twirling.

82. A safe place to shed tears.

83. The Lighthouse.

84. When God speaks in unique ways, just to my heart.

85. Friends to walk this journey with.

86. Freedom, ever widening, from generational snares.

87. New transplants, yet wilted but soon to blossom.

88. First farmer's tan of the season.

89. Big sister, little sister.

90. Way too many bodies in the too tiny pool.

 (Hey, look at me, all fancy, adding pictures to my post! I may just "get there" yet...)

91. Water balloon confetti in the grass.

92. Running, chasing, laughing, squirting--a "yes mom" moment.

93. Stretch marks (definitely no pictures on this one!)

94. First "big pool" day of the summer.

95. Clicking of bike gears down the driveway.

96. Filling the biggest booth, just us.

97. Famers' voices carrying in the wind.

98. Last day of school.

99. Hope. One day at a time.

holy experience

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Please remove #65 from yesterday's list.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1000 Gifts: 63 to 78

No time for more than just the list today:

63. Our God always wins in the end.

64. Sweet songs sung by an even sweeter nephew.

65. The red-winged black bird who woke me at 5:00 a.m. (gratitude is a choice, right?).

66. Truth spoken.

67. Like-minded women who welcome freely.

68. A yard large enough for huge puddles when it pours.

69. Four hours with no pit stops.

70. Silence prolonged during an extra long nap.

71. Toddler scribbles rendering my gratitude list nearly illegible.

72. A harvest promised to bear fruit that lasts.

73. Fresh spring air billowing through the curtains.

74. Thirty percent off.

75. The hum of the spin cycle.

76. Total trust as pudgy toddler fingers grasp mine.

77. The way the sun and the breeze are somehow more peaceful when standing at the clothesline.

78. I will never even know all that I have to be grateful for.

holy experience

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Who are you looking for?

Your real, new self will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him.
C.S. Lewis

Monday, May 17, 2010

1000 Gifts: 49 to 62

"He will do us good, real good, lasting good, only good, every good. He will make us good, and this is to do us good to the highest degree.” (Charles Spurgeon)

God’s priority is always our best good. And all true good comes from Him.

49. Tears that flow at the true meaning of the bread and wine.

50. Sewing projects completed while the seam ripper stays mostly in its home.

51. Sewing projects yet to be completed.

52. A baby now turned two.

53. Fresh white shelves holding in the clutter.

54. Things, useless, no longer weighing us down.

55. The teenager that will still laugh with me.

56. Long legs sprawled nearly to the end of the bed.

57. Missing my church when I'm not there.

58. Remembering that God is at work, always.

59. Jesus. The name alone brings peace.

60. Freckled face smiling, even after the wrong keys were played.

61. Laughter muffled through windows as they play.

62. Grass mowed fresh and green.

holy experience

Monday, May 10, 2010

1000 Gifts: 35 to 48

I admit that I didn't stay mindful of gratitude this week. I so easily get busy living, moving, doing, and just don't see things. So this very practice is one thing that I am grateful for today:

35.  Faithful believers encouraging and creating accountability even across the internet.

36.  Hard rains that didn't come.

37.  Chains that have been broken.

38.  The hope that all chains one day will be gone.

39.  Friends that know so well yet stay close.

40.  Gradually letting go of the measuring up.

41.  Difficult conversations being truly heard.

42.  Sparkling grape juice fizz.

43.  Juice moustaches.

44.  Fat bellied babies.

45.  Youthful legs completing the race red-faced.

46.  That grin.

47.  Questions that come and come and come.

48.  Kids who are grateful for me.

holy experience

Monday, May 3, 2010

1000 Gifts: 11 to 34

So last week's list never made it to the computer, and this week's list is slim, so I'm combining the two now that I'm finally getting around to posting. Honestly, there are some things feeling so heavy that seeing beyond them to the things, big and small, worthy of gratitude is a challenge. Part of me says that itis just wrong to be in such a place if I have any faith at all, but part of me knows that it is too real not to admit.

For that reason it seems that much more important that I continue with this discipline, to do all I can to direct my focus to what is true and learn, little by little to live in this truth Ann Voskamp shared today, perhaps just for me:

"You only know how to give thanks always when you know how to give thanks anyway."

11. Grass stained knees on jeans and the energetic laughter born in creating them.

12. Stain stick, though it seems less than holy, but at the same time miraculous.

13. New words and sentences flowing quick and mumbled behind the security of the paci.

14. Water that runs freely over muddy trail from feet played hard.

15. Shirts stained with many sweet things enjoyed.

16. Gapping baby teeth and a nose pinched tight into a mischievous toddler grin.

17. Email

18. Always just enough.

19. Gurgles and splashes as bath toys meet their purpose and carpet spots wet.

20. A sister who always feels like "home," no matter how long since the visit.

21. Reminders that messy is part of the journey, necessary even.

22. When size 7 1/2 is all that's left and it fits.

23. Fresh reminders of old joys buried under the busy.

24. Teachers whose passion for the Word is contagious.

25. Jesus is coming!

26. Hugs unrequested from adolescent arms.

27. Unruly ringlets bouncing.

28. Sisters, big and small, cuddling with a bedtime book.

29. Clean carpet.

30. Kind shoulders to share the load, and a heart willing to share her own burden.

31. Generous customer service who has blessed us 2x over.

32. A fun night with my teenage boy, still willing to smile at corny jokes and evidently not-so-subtle attempts to draw him out.

33. A new bright plaid shirt under the newly tanned face.

34. Giving thanks anyway because of Truth.

holy experience

Monday, April 26, 2010

1000 Gifts: 11 to ...

Soon to be transferred from paper to screen...
holy experience

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

1000 Gifts: It Begins with 1

A dozen times I have nearly begun and then backed away.

It's not Monday, after all. And what of the laundry that sits damp waiting to be tossed dry? Or the little one sitting all too comfortably at the foot of the TV? Yes, so many forces seem to hinder--time, pride, fear, and not least of all that confusing HTML stuff.

But as worries wage and fears press hard, I know that I must; as Ann speaks of her own daily Holy Experience, there is no other cure for fear than to practice gratitude in the present moment.

So I will begin simple, small, letting go of the desire for normal, or perhaps perfection, to arrive before I begin.

Instead I will choose to see the perfect in the normal.

1. First-ever freshly picked dandelions--pretties--held in the chubby hands of a toddler.

2. The gift of being available. What else to do when no bus arrives?

3. Moments, few as they are, to think and defog before all wake.

4. Freckles that multiply with long spring days.

5. A simple yes that brings surprising gratitude, even at the cost of only 64 cents.

6. A determined spirit that far surpasses the fears of his mother.

7. A rare day on the calendar, still mostly white.

8. The wheels that faithfully take us here and there, despite the too-soon rumbles and rattles.

9. Delighted squeals calling, "My Daddy!" each day as hinges creak open and the Daddy love that brings such delight.

10. Learning. Letting go. A little more each day.

holy experience

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The power of being with Jesus

Even the weakest saint can experience the power of the deity of the Son of God, when he is willing to "let go." But any effort to "hang on" to the least bit of our own power will only diminish the life of Jesus in us. We have to keep letting go, and slowly, but surely, the great full life of God will invade us, penetrating every part. Then Jesus will have complete and effective dominion in us, and people will take notice that we have been with Him.

* * * * *

If we set out to serve God and do His work but get out of touch with Him, the sense of responsibility we feel will be overwhelming and defeating. But if we will only roll back on God the burdens He has placed on us, He will take away that immense feeling of responsibility, replacing it with an awareness and understanding of Himself and His presence.

Two excerpts from Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Every Day

I like Easter. But let's remember that Christ's resurrection is not truer at Easter than at any other time of the year.                           AW Tozer

Monday, April 5, 2010

Motivation Monday

A while back I promised myself (I say myself because no one else reads this journal/blog), to post some of my favorite inspirational blogs. Well, today, I'm following through, at least in part, by posting about Kat's giveaway at Inspired to Action. Her posts are simple and direct, pointing to what's truly important and how to take one step at a time to get there. That's just what I need. Anyway...

Kat's giving away a gift pack including music and a t-shirt from the guys singing the song playing in the background right now. I honestly don't even own any of their CDs, but since Song of Hope is one of my favorites, and one that I just recently posted about, wouldn't it be a cool God-thing if I would win? Even if I don't, I just love how God makes connections like that to confirm His work in our lives.

Another nice thing about the conditions attached to this giveaway is that it helps keep me focused and working toward goals that will make my life more what I long for it to be as a mother and homemaker seeking to bless my family a little more each day.

A little cool music playing in the background while I work would just top it all off...

Monday, February 22, 2010


**The song I'm referring to somehow disappeared from my playlist... the current song is a great one, too, but it no longer corresponds with this post.**

I don't know about you, but I have certain things that are constantly on "repeat" on my mental playlist. Normal things like, "I need to start a load of laundry." Or, "Better add that to the grocery list." Or, "Uh-oh. It's too quiet in here. What is Tori up to!?"

But then there are also those things that repeat and shuffle on my playlist that I wish I could remove but don't quite know how. (Kind of like my real life level of skill with technology!) Things like rehearsals of things I said in small group that I wish I could snatch back. Or high (maybe unrealistic) expectations of my kids that make me frustrated and short with them when they do the same things over and over.  Or the following self-condemnation for expecting of my kids what I can't even manage myself...consistently making the right and loving choice.

So when I opened my blog this morning, I was thankful for the first song that greeted me from my real life playlist: "Song of Hope" by the Robbie Seay Band. If you stick around long enough to listen, here's what you'll hear:

All things bright and beautiful You are
All things wise and wonderful You are
In my darkest night, You brighten up the skies
A song will rise

I will sing a song of hope
Sing along
God of heaven come down
Heaven come down
Just to know that You are near is enough
God of heaven come down, heaven come down

All things new
I can start again
Creator, God
Calling me Your friend
Sing praise, my soul
To the Maker of the skies
A song will rise

I will sing a song of hope
Sing along
God of heaven come down
Heaven come down
Just to know You and be loved is enough
God of heaven come down, heaven come down

Hallelujah, sing
Hallelujah, sing
Hallelujah, sing
As I listened to those words playing in the background, I thought about hope (Oh, yes, I am quick that way... a song titled "Song of Hope" made me think about hope!) :)
Hope defined as a verb means, "to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence."  The very fact that I cling to hope means both that I am missing something I long for, but also that I believe I will receive it. However, I think I often limit hope to only the first half of its true meaning, focusing on the desires of my heart that are unfulfilled.
Hope defined as a noun means, "a person or thing in which expectations are centered." Where do I truly place my hope? I know I have a lot of expectations, but I think the weight of them usually falls on me or the other people in my life. And that is far too heavy a load for any of us to carry.
So I began to think about why I love this song so much. I wondered if I can belt out all the lines of this song with equal sincerity.
I have no problem offering God praise, telling Him how beautiful, wise and wonderful He is. And I really get loud on the line that pleads with the God of heaven to come down. But immediately following that plea lies these two convictions:
Just to know that You are near is enough.
Just to know You and be loved is enough.
I realized, again, that often my words of praise are as much a request as an offering, a plea that God will really help me believe in the depths of my heart the words that I know in my head to be true of Him. To show me that He's near and that He loves me.
Man, I thought I deleted that playlist several years ago! I mean, it's not all bad because it consistently drives me to seek out the Father and His true heart for me. But you know how you sometimes listen to the same CD over and over until you finally just need to take it out of the rotation for a while? I think I'd like to take this one out permanently and bring it to the CD consignment store for someone else to add to their collection!
But for today, I guess I'll just hit "shuffle" once more and keep clinging to hope, reminding myself where I need to let my hope lie.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. Psalm 62:5

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

About Me

I've been tailoring my blog reading specifically to be a source of encouragement and inspiration as I work on some goals for myself, so I've been reading a lot of blogs that really hit home for me. It's such an encouragement to read posts and comments by other women who are transparent about their lives as they seek to be God-followers who live out their faith in their homes.

So anyway, as I've been seeking out topic-specific blogs, I've been leaving a few comments here and there, which I haven’t done much in the past. After receiving a comment today, I realized that people actually may be clicking over to check out my blog, which has been long-neglected. I started this blog primarily to journal and keep track of scriptures and quotes I wanted to remember, so there isn't a lot of information about my family or my life (unless you count my deep thought life last year) included here.

Therefore, I thought a post to introduce myself a bit might be in order. I've made a list of 10 random things about me, some nuts and bolts type info and some a little more personal, just to give a little glimpse of me:

1. I've been married for 16 years to a very sweet and handsome man. Boy, marriage is hard, but I'm seeing the truth of the quote from my last post coming to pass.

2. I'm the mother of 4, three of which God allowed us to think we planned, and one which He planned all on His own and surprised us with. :) They are 13, 10, 8, and 21 months. They amaze me! Seeing God working in their lives in spite of me is perhaps the clearest way God has ever demonstrated to me How He Loves.

3. I process my thoughts best through writing. (Read: My blog posts, though infrequent, are often very LONG.)

4. I am a thinker, and I am always trying to figure out they "why's" and "what if's." I think I say, "I wonder..." in nearly every conversation I have. I am learning to wonder more often about what's truly valuable, and sometimes I'm even wise enough to stop asking questions when the only answer is faith.

5. I am heartbroken for the people and children of Haiti. My brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew moved to Haiti 8 months ago, so my thoughts and wonderings often land there. In the aftermath of the earthquake I long to know how God calls us to "act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly" with the poor, oppressed, widowed, and orphaned of Haiti. The need is endless.

6. I am an information sponge, and I love to hear other people's stories. I read and and read and read. A decade ago I read fiction. Five years ago I read self-help books. Now it's blogs. Seeing how God is at work in other people's lives builds my faith. This is so true, that on a personality assessment I took, "INPUT" was my top character trait. (I'm not sure what good that trait does anyone else, but at least I know I'm not the only one who has it since it had its own category on the test!)

7. That same personality test showed that seeking "harmony" is one of my strongest traits. I knew deep down when I received the results that, for me, harmony seeking = approval seeking, and a quote I just read from Beth Moore's latest book confirms that my need for harmony stems in great part from insecurity. (Did you hear about my love-hate relationship with Beth Moore?) I guess I know which book needs to move the top of my wish list!

8. I strongly dislike hate exercise. I love sugar. If only someone would create a candy or soda that produces muscle tone the more you eat or drink, or an exercise program that required reading rather than physical movement, I'd be set.

9. I am a recovering perfectionist. Not the type that has an immaculate home, has perfectly-behaved kids, or always gets everywhere early (or even on time!) with everything she could need and then some in a tidy little handbag. No, I'm afraid I'm the all-or-nothing type who's most consistent approach has been to think, "If I can't do it the way I'd like, or if there's any chance I may fail, I may as well not do it at all." I guess the nice thing is that recovering from that type of perfectionism actually creates more order and peace than keeping everything perfect would.

10. I'm trying to learn how to structure my life in this physical world to lead me closer to the reality of Jesus and who He wants me to be. It's a tough educational track to choose, but I'm finding it well worth it!

Yeah, well, those 10 things certainly don't encompass who I am, but that's probably okay, because I find that who I am is changing as I continue to turn my focus more and more fully to Jesus... and thank goodness for that!

Coming soon: I'll try to share some of the blogs that have inspired me lately.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

True Beauty

Weddings may be beautiful, but marriages become beautiful.

(Mark Regnerus, Christianity Today)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Major Earthquake in Haiti

The word is out all over the world about the major earthquake in Haiti yesterday. Jared and Stacey felt the tremors in Pignon, but because of the poor communication systems and lack of news media there weren't even fully aware of the damage in PAP until this morning. Please be in prayer for the people of Haiti, especially in the capital city of Port-au-Prince(PAP) where damage is widespread and severe. Haiti simply doesn't have health and government systems equipped to provide help.

Hope is a commonly used word among missions to Haiti, but I think it is safe to guess that a sense of hopelessness is widespread in Haiti today. But there are many Christians among the people of Haiti who already have chosen to put their faith in God while living in a land that offers little hope. Pray that their faith will empower them to help others and that others will feel the love of Jesus through them. Pray that through this tragedy the people of Haiti will truly discover that God is their one true hope. 

Please be praying that Jer, Stacey, and all others working in Jesus' name in Haiti will know how they can best bring hope and healing to people affected directly or indirectly by the earthquake. Pray that God will equip them with His love and compassion, His strength and wisdom so the help they offer will have both immediate and eternal significance.

Thank you for praying!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Million Candles

"We, as Christians, can look at our broken world, shrug our shoulders, and say, "That's just the way things are." Or we can instead embrace a vision of what could be--if we'd each pitch in. Isn't it better to light a candle than curse the darkness? And what could be accomplished if we lit not one candle but many? The light of even one challenges the gloom, but the light of a million could obliterate it."

Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel (p. 275)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Haiti Recap - Part 2 - How We Got Here (and I'm not just talking about the airplane)

Admittedly, our trip to Haiti was prompted by external circumstances as much as by a heart for missions. That is not to say we don't have a heart for missions; in 2007, before we discovered Tori's impending and unexpected arrival in our lives, we had begun making plans to take our family on a mission trip to Mexico over Christmas break. Steve's also been to Nicaragua, and we volunteer or donate in various ways locally. But that's beside the point.

All I know is had Jer and Stacey not been there, I'm not sure this trip would've entered our minds. And I am positive that without the generous and anonymous donation we received, we would not have gone, at least not this year. Through those circumstances and much prayer it became clear that God intended for us to go on this particular trip at this time.

Even so, the decision for both Steve and me to go was not an easy one, even with the offer of the donation and the wonderful prospect of seeing Jer and Stacey and the kids.

Steve would have to miss a week of work at a busy time and opt for another week of unemployment pay since all his vacation time and then some was required to cover the mandatory shut downs this year.

And just let me say that leaving four kids behind is challenging.

Mentally challenging to combat all the "what if" thoughts involved in both parents traveling overseas.

Emotionally challenging for a stay at home mom who's used to being with her toddler 24/7.

Physically challenging to coordinate school and extracurricular schedules and childcare (seriously, I probably spent equal time planning, scheduling, organizing, and packing as we actually spent on the trip!)

Spiritually challenging to let go of control of it all and trust God.

But eventually, it all went off without a hitch (well, except the first night we were gone when Anna called our hotel in Florida, homesick for us and in sobs, and I spent the rest of the night crying with my cell phone next to me on the bed in case she called again), and we were on our way across the ocean to Haiti.

MFI's (Mission Flights International) restored DC-3 WW II plane that flew us from Florida to Haiti:

The interior of the MFI plane, including several members of our team:

First views of Haiti from the air: