Love my man!

love, marriage, Uncategorized
Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! photo by Christian

I’ll be completely honest with you…I’m just excited to have a decent picture of Herschel and I together. So excited that I had to post it here for you! As our kids have gotten older, we’re able to have more and more spontaneous dates and time together. We love that we get to spend more time alone as a couple as they grow. But there’s something really fun about getting dressed up for a special date.

Company Christmas party got us out of the normal “Hey it’s just the two of us, so let’s go to Chipotle for a salad” date. I love those times. But the occasional special date night can sometimes give us a fresh perspective!

Education without Action

Uncategorized

I love this quote from a training class I attended today:

Education without action is simply entertainment.

I want to take action…How about you?

This can be applied to work, our spirituality, parenting, and more. You and I can read all of the books in a library, but if we don’t put our knowledge into practice it’s simply entertainment.

God’s love is not more or less

love, MS, Uncategorized

For some reason I tend to have a wrong way of thinking sometimes that God’s love for me is measured by my circumstances. Today is day NINE. Nine good days in a row and I am celebrating!!! Since the beginning of September, I’ve had more physically bad days than good with weird neurological/auto-immune symptoms that look like MS. I detest clichés, but they are cliché because they are true; so bear with me on the following statement: We don’t really appreciate good health until we don’t have it. Right now, I truly appreciate good health.

God loves me just as much on my bad physical days as He does on these good ones. God’s love for me on my wallowing-in-self-pity-ugly-cry-days is not an iota more or less than on a great day like today. Today I power-walked around neighborhood lakes. It was glorious! However, I am reminding myself of this truth: God’s favor and love for me today is no greater than on my days when I could do nothing but lay there on the couch.

God is love. He is always love and always good. The depth of His love and concern for me is never dependent on my circumstances.

Seven weeks of community

marriage, Uncategorized

Picture this: the seven loudest people that you know. Four adults, three kids, and a mild-mannered dog. For seven weeks, our good friends, a family of four, lived with us while they were in transition. Their current house sold, but the new house wasn’t available for seven weeks. I’m calling this time in our life: Seven weeks of community.

Besides the fact that all seven of us are extremely loud and talkative, you’ve got to know that we aren’t related to this family. We’ve only known each other for six years. They were some of the first people to be friendly with us when we first moved back to our hometown. We felt like fish out of water after we returned from a tough two years on the mission field in West Africa. We were blind-sighted by the fact that we had reverse culture shock. We joined a new church where we didn’t know tons of people, and felt as if we were starting over in a whole new chapter of life. I distinctly remember the first time I visited with this couple. I was at a roller skating church event for the kids, and I was alone while my 3rd grader went around in circles. I remember trying to strike up conversations with a couple of other moms: Failure! I’m sure I was socially awkward, but didn’t realize it. I just felt so lonely, then this couple struck up conversation with me. They looked so genuinely happy and friendly and I love that they threw me a life-preserver when I felt like I was drowning in social awkwardness.

Fast forward to present. Lots of sleepovers for our teenaged girls, dinners, karaoke, Superbowls, New Year’s Eves, and throw in a couple of crisis situations when they were there to help us with hard decisions. You get the idea.

This fall our son headed to a dorm apartment for college, and the next weekend our friends moved in. It just made sense. Otherwise we’d have two empty bedrooms upstairs, and that seems like such a waste when our friends are in home limbo for a while.

Think about the good, bad, and ugly in your home that occurs on a daily basis. Imagine that you had cameras posted, out of view, to observe your family’s activities for seven weeks. A little scary, huh? Although our friends got to witness a few of our less-than-stellar family moments, it was worth it! I learned so much by having them here.

First of all, I believe that we are made to live in close community with others. American culture does not value community, but fierce independence, even when it’s to our detriment. That’s why so many people asked them (privately, of course) and us: How’s it really going? Isn’t is stressful? Our answer was: It’s surprisingly wonderful! We knew it would work out okay, but it surpassed our expectations. We need to lean on other people, and to learn from them. Sometimes this can only happen in close community. That’s because otherwise, we can fake it. We can act as if we have it all together, then go home and fall apart. If you go home and you’ve got another family there, you have witnesses! It turns out that this was a beautiful thing.

The last couple months have been the worst for me health-wise. If I’m honest I also confess that emotionally it’s been pretty rough, too, because of my health problems. However, the past seven weeks have been some of the richest for me on many different levels: friendship-wise, spiritually I have been challenged and grown, and I’ve been forced to show my vulnerability and need for others. If they hadn’t been here to witness it, I would have put on my brave happy face to the world because I’d be too proud to tell anyone I have been suffering.

Another benefit was that we learned from them while seeing their family interact. It’s amazing what you can learn watching a married couple as they do life, and it helped me to see how they love on their kids and parent them. We certainly didn’t have a spiral notebook out and plan to be creepy watchers, but we gleaned so much during the ups and downs of daily life. It was good!

Maybe you won’t have another family live in close quarters with you for a month or two, but you can intentionally connect closely with a couple of families that you trust. Be real, and show where you are weak and struggling. Celebrate daily joys and victories together. You’ll all be better for it. Plus it’s REALLY fun!

Who else?

Photography, Uncategorized

Who else but God could show up at the dawn in my suburban neighborhood like this:

This was the view from my back door as I entered my garage a couple of mornings ago. I was darting into my car to grab something and I gasped at this kind of beauty that declares the glory of God!

A minute later the colors had morphed a little- what a great Artist God is!

It’s good to know Someone hears

Uncategorized

God hears us when we cry. He hears us when we cry out to Him.

For some weird reason, last week I was looking us passages in Scripture about God hearing us. Oh, I remember now….I have been crying out and having big, fat, snotty cries over the past few weeks. My weird neurological symptoms have kept me homebound and unable to drive lately because of impaired vision. Enter occasional pity party and temper tantrum. But I digress….In case you haven’t heard of it, www.biblegateway.com is one of my favorite sites ever! I use it almost daily to look up stuff. You know when you have one of those moments that you’re thinking of a passage in the Bible, but you can only think of a word or idea, but don’t remember where it’s found? Just go to your handy-dandy Bible Gateway site, type in the word or phrase at the top, and it spits out all of the places in the entire Bible where your word/phrase can be found.

Genesis 21 reminds us that God hears even a young child as he cries. Hagar is mistreated by Sarah and sent away with her son. Twice the Scripture says that “God heard the boy crying” in verse 17. God didn’t just hear his cry, but God responded to the boy’s cry.

In Exodus 3 God hears the cry of His people, and He was concerned with their suffering.

Numbers 20: God heard the Israelites’ cry, He sent them an angel and brought them out of Egypt.

1 Kings 17: The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived.

It’s good for us to remember that God not only hears our cries, but He responds. The kicker is that He is God. He may not always respond the way that we want Him to.

Check it out on www.biblegateway.com. If you type in “hears cry” and “heard cry”, you’ll be super encouraged. It’s good to know that Someone hears. And that Someone is full of love.

Somewhere over the rainbow

Uncategorized

Do you feel as if you are constantly juggling too many things? Constantly striving for balance in life, do you feel like you are chasing an elusive rainbow?

It’s difficult to strike a good balance in life between work, family, and leisure time.

A good starting point to check yourself is this: Make a list of your professed values. What do you say is important to you? Write them down, in order of importance. You may list God, family, work, friends, hobbies, etc. Then, make a list of your practiced values. Write down what someone else would say is important to you, based on how you spend your time. Be ready for the ouch.

It may be that some changes are in order if your lists don’t look pretty similar. Maybe it means designated time off from computer or phone. Or losing cable TV.

A few years ago I wrote these lists, and I vividly remember it, because it was jarring. I realized that my intentions did not match my practices. Because of that, some big lifestyle changes were in order. What about you? Do your lists look different?

Who do you live for?

Christianity, freedom in Christ, Uncategorized

photo by philipwagner.com

Who do you live for? Maybe a better way to ask is this: When you make a decision, who’s best interest is in play?

Or who are you trying to please? It may be yourself, a loved one, people you don’t know but want to impress, or maybe your Creator.

Reading the opening line of Galatians 1, once again I am impressed by Paul’s strong declaration about himself:

Paul, an apostle–sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father….(emphasis mine)

You gotta love Paul! He was a zealous murderer and persecutor of Christians….then he becomes a Christian, is radically changed by God, and goes on to write bold introductions like the one in Galatians 1.

Not only that, he goes on to ask the harsh question in verse 10:

Am I  now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Ouch. Let’s be honest, no matter how much you love God, this is a human dilemma that we all deal with sometimes. The reality is that sometimes we want to please ourselves, or even people that we don’t know. I think that’s kind of normal to feel sometimes. But our feelings shouldn’t rule us. Furthermore, the more we know and love God, the more we are zealous for pleasing Him.

I know this is kind of rough news. Sort of like the reality that if we want to lose weight, we have to eat right and exercise. Ask anyone who’s lost & maintained weight in a healthy way and maintained it. Yep, same annoying answer. Or, if you’re a runner, and you want to improve your time, how do you improve your time and run faster? You guessed it, by running faster.

The answer to getting off of the treadmill of please me, pleasing others, and the insatiable demands of insecurity that surrounds pleasing others is this: Know God more. Spend time with Him. Read His word. Believe what He says. In doing so, we start to believe the truth about who we are and who God is, and that frees us from caring so much about what others think and pleasing our own flesh.

So, pour a hot cup of coffee, and sit back for little bit this morning with your Bible and your Maker. Maybe you’ll think a little differently today.

A day on the farm pictures

Photography, Uncategorized

This weekend we got to experience a unique and fun birthday party….on the farm. I guess you could call it a funny farm, especially considering the group of us there. It was a group of our daughter’s friends and a few of us chaperoning adults. (We adults are the funny farm part!) My friend Lynette and I jumped on the mule (kind of like a go-cart for the farm grounds) and snapped pictures like crazy.

Evening light

Everyone should have at least one friend that makes you laugh till you cry….even more than one would be better! Someone that you can cry with and pray with, tell your insecurities and know that she won’t tell.

Like my mom always said: If you want that kind of friend, you need to be that kind of friend.

A horrible picture of me, but you get the idea….we were acting like silly teenagers. My daughter has told me that sometimes we act as immature as her and her fourteen year old friends. It’s true.

Barbed wire in the foreground. This is my favorite kind of picture.

Photo by Lynette….beautiful

We were hilarious wanna-be photographers while we rode around on the mule. Every 20 seconds or so, one of us would see something beautiful, we’d have to stop, take 10 or more pictures, then we’d go again.

 

Perimeter fence, with and without teenagers!

Birthday party girls! Photo by Lynette

Little sisters can be a joy. Photo by Raven

Lovely birthday girl glows!

The scenery at this farm is as beautiful and picturesque as it looks.

Lynette

She may be mad at me for posting this, but I’m hoping the world’s most unflattering picture of me earlier in this post will redeem me. This picture is so great because you can see the happiness on her face. Swinging just makes you feel happy, doesn’t it?

Walking through uncertainty

Christianity, fear, freedom in Christ, Jesus, spirituality, Uncategorized

Are you waiting on something in your life? Maybe you are waiting to hear an answer or praying for change. It could be a loved one that you are praying for and waiting for the miraculous, because that’s what it’s going to take for real change. Maybe it’s a diagnosis or maybe you’re seeking God’s direction and you have been waiting, eager to hear from Him.

If you are walking through uncertainty, and waiting for an answer in some area of your life, then you may enjoy this. Today’s reading for the devotional, Jesus Calling, really nails what we need to be thinking on when waiting. As you read, picture God saying these truths to you:

I want to be Central in your entire being. When your focus is firmly on Me, My Peace displaces fears and worries. They will encircle you, seeking entrance, so you must stay alert. Let trust and thankfulness stand guard, turning back fear before it can gain a foothold. There is no fear in My Love, which shines on you continually. Sit quietly in My Love-Light, while I bless you with radiant Peace. Turn your whole being to trusting and loving Me.

2 Thessalonians 3:16; 1 John 4:18

photo by christianbook.com

This little devotional book has been a great source for me lately. Do you ever have those days when you want to sit down with your cup of coffee and read the Bible, but you don’t really know where to dive in? This book has one paragraph reading each day. As I’ve been waiting for answers in several areas of my life lately, this devotional give me a great starting point with truths from the Bible, worded as if Jesus Himself is speaking them. It gives additional Scripture references that help you to dig further. Check it out!