Monday, August 31, 2009

A Must Read

I don't search around blogs often. I tend to stick to my select reading list. But every now and then, it's nap time and I let my mouse wander.

Sometimes, the truth treasures I find out in this world wide web are so worth it!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 24

I have completed 23 days of my fast food/junk food/processed food fast. More than halfway!

The prospect that I have only 17 days left is exciting. On September 13 I get to weigh myself and see if there have been physical results of my spiritual discipline. (If I'm totally honest, I fear that there won't be, and I'll be discouraged. Even though I know that this hasn't really been about losing weight at all.) On September 13 I am free to enjoy a slurpee or potato chips, maybe a chocolate bar or some french fries. Or how about anything that I don't need to make from scratch?!

I wonder if these remaining 17 days will be enough... Will I have grown closer to God? Will I be more willing to obey Him because of this? Will I have the strength to continue in seeking Him about what I eat? Or will I fall back into what is comfortable? These questions are troubling...

I so badly want to be changed! I know that I've grown complacent. And eating habits are really an outward symbol of my inner state. If I lack discipline in my eating, in my homemaking, in my parenting, in my marriage, finances, etc. - these are all indicators that I am lacking in spiritual discipline as well. I don't know if this is true for everyone, but I know that when my spiritual life is in order the rest of my life follows suit. Because a spirit that is yielded to the Spirit is not satisfied with complacency or laziness in any area.

I believe that God called me to 40 days of submitting to Him in my eating habits in order to draw me into His will in other areas. And I am so afraid that I am just missing the point! Missing the blessing.

Oh Lord, that I would seek You with all my heart, in all things I do! Show me where I am walking outside of Your will for my life. Lay before me all the areas I am lacking in discipline and self-control. I no longer want to walk in disobedience and disregard, Father. Change my heart through this purifying of my body. Teach me, Jesus. Change me. Unsettle me...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to Pray Your way Through Temptation

As I work on my book about mother anger, one surprising discovery I have made is that anger itself is not the problem. In fact, anger often rears its ugly head due to irritation, annoyance, interruption (not situations that should elicit a true angry response).

The problem with mother anger has much more to do with the emotional release that comes from venting (also known as exploding). The release is cathartic - it gives a rush, a high. And we become seekers of that high. We become addicted to that sensation of the release from tension. And every annoying/irritating/interrupting situation tempts us into seeking that release.

As I begin to see my struggle for what it truly is - me being unable to resist sin and caving into temptation, the path to freedom becomes less cluttered.

In point-form, some steps to help you pray your way through temptation:

1. Pray about your issue constantly - even at times when you don't feel as though you're struggling. When you wake up, before moving from your bed, remind God (and yourself) that you are prone to being tempted (whether it be yelling at your children, smoking, using foul words, gossipping - just sharing a nasty laundry list with y'all, though God and I kicked the smoking one many, many years ago), and ask Him to help you. Keep on reminding Him all day. It's not that He needs reminding, but we need to remember that He is the only help for our struggles.

pray continually ~1 Thessalonians 5:17

2. Pray the Word of God the very moment you find yourself staring temptation in the face. It helps to write out Scriptures that speak to your struggle on index cards, so you have God's specific Words handy. Try using a concordance and writing out verses on: temptation, sin, perseverance, faith, holiness, trials, struggle, submission, and so on. If you believe the Bible addresses your issue specifically (such as immorality or anger), look for verses on those topics as well.

In Matthew 4, Jesus spent 40 days in the desert and the devil tried to tempt Him into sinning against His Father. Jesus' reply to each suggestion of the devil was,

It is written...

3. Seek trusted people to pray for you. We are not in the battle against evil on our own - we have brothers and sisters who can stand beside us.

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. ~James 5:16
4. Remember that at each juncture, you have a choice. You can choose to submit yourself to temptation (and thus to sin), or you can submit yourself to Christ.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. ~James 4:7
...God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ~1 Corinthians 10:13

This post has been submitted to both Walk with Him Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Steps of Fear FAITH

Our church is a missional church. In recent years, we launched two big mission-focused programs. Give Life is all about being a blessing to those around us, and is primarily focused on what we do in our communities and neighbourhoods. To reach the world in a tangible way, we developed the Global Compassion Campaign. The GCC chose three organizations that we will work closely with over the next five years - they will receive significant financial support and numerous short-term missions teams over these years.

Now, why in the world would you want to know what's going on in our church?

Christmas Eve, 2008... Our congregation was introduced to one of the projects that we will be supporting - Haiti Arise. Here's the short-version of Haiti's story: the people in political authority back in 1804 made a pact with the devil, and turned the country over to him for 200 years; for 200 years, voodoo has been the religion of choice, selling children as slaves the economy of choice; the curse was broken in 2004 and the people are receptive to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Haiti Arise has a vision to educate the people so that they can bring about economic change, with a Christ-centred approach.

After viewing the video about Haiti Arise last Christmas, Pat turned to me and said, "We're going to Haiti. I don't know when or how, but we'll be there." I attempted to swallow the massive ball of fear in my throat unsuccessfully, so I just nodded. I knew it, too.

This Sunday, the couple that runs the mission was at our church. Marc preached a message, then Marc and Lisa invited interested people to join them in a luncheon. There was no doubt that we would be staying for the lunch. There was also no doubt that Pat would be joining the team heading to Haiti in October. (A little God-incidence for you: Pat talked to the team lead, and he shared that they had been praying for one more man to join the team. Ha!)

I don't believe this first step in obedience will be the last of our story with Haiti. But rather than guess what God has planned for our future, we've decided to take one step at a time. Pat signed up, then we asked God, what is the next step you want us to take? One hairy scary step at a time, we will walk in faith, trust, and obedience.

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” ~1Corinthians 2:9

Monday, August 24, 2009

Talent Showcase

Plunging head-first into the cold, dark, terrifying waters of book proposals, publisher meetings, networking, and one-sheets would have been an impossible feat without the help of some good friends with amazing talents. If not for them, I would still be standing on the dock of "maybe I'll write a book someday" simply dipping my toes, pondering whether I could brave the chill.
In no particular order, those good friends to whom I owe a big "THANK-YOU!":

April - designer extraordinaire. I would love to show you how beautiful my one-sheet is, but currently have no idea how to get a pdf file onto a blog post! Suggestions?

Karalee, Frieda (aka Mom/Grandma), Amanda, Cami - professionals in the field of childcare and home-making.

Bobbie - editor in chief. (I still can't get over how God would bring together two bloggers separated by half a continent, and have them discover a treasured friendship. And have me discover a lawyer with an English degree. Thanks, Papa!)

Loni - woman of many stylist, photographer, and more! First, she coloured and cut my hair, then she took these awesome photos (one of which resides on my one-sheet proposal).

Kendra - hand transformationist (aka nail technician). Pretty, aren't they?

Prayer warriors and cheerleaders - all of the above, plus Peggy, Angela, Ifie, Heather, Stacy, Christine, and Lucille (aka Tante/Auntie).

The Proverbs 31 Team for having a vision to reach out to writers, speakers, and women's ministry leaders through the She Speaks Conference.

And my #1 team, backing me all the way - Brae, Abs, Meg, Shea, Kai, and their Daddy -love of my life - Pat.

I don't know how far God will take the thoughts from this little brain, but even if it stops right here, I will be forever grateful to those who helped me take the plunge.

And for now, I wait. And I write.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Time, the Trickster

I remember when Braeden (11) was a baby. I sometimes wondered if we would ever move beyond the crying and diaper changes. I was lonely and isolated, and it felt as though he would never grow up. Time moved so slowly.

Now, though, life is busy and fast. I'd like to slow it down just a little bit. I can't believe that my baby went from this....

to this....

in just 23 short months! I can't wrap my head around the fact that he will soon be a two-year-old. Except for the fact that he totally acts like a two-year-old boy. Yeah, that part of the growing up can move right along. Because two-year-old boys, they are a handfull! Mmmm-hmmmm.

I wonder if there have been times in my walk with Him that God has felt that about me? Like it would never end... Or as though I should hurry on up and get over it, already!

Then I think of those moments where my sweet baby will still sit and snuggle on my lap. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and savour that feeling. Reminds me that I need to snuggle into my Abba's arms just a little more often, and stay just a little bit longer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quote of the Year

We were visiting the hospital to get Meg's permanent cast put on, and she was getting pretty worked up about the fact that another x-ray was needed. (Did I mention that the x-ray technician on our first visit got kicked after she manipulated and contorted the broken limb into several positions?)

Pat, wanting to calm Megan down (and in hopes that there would be no further violence against medical professionals) told her, "Meg, x-rays don't hurt, honey."

She looked him point-blank in the eyes, tilted her head in that way that indicates she's about to say something very important, and with her most matter-of-fact voice stated, "It does if you have a broken arm!"

Well, duh.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Parched without Prayer

Why am I ignoring His call?

Morning by morning, 5:30 am the alarm clock sings out country music, and I hear Him invite me.

Yet I roll over, hitting snooze again and again, telling Him, "Later, Jesus. Soon. Just a few more minutes of sleep."

Yesterday Shea (4) came to me with tears in her eyes. No one would play with her, would I? The temptation to put her off was strong - laundry, dinner prep, budgeting, and a million other household tasks called my name. But in my mind's eye I saw her face crumpling as she received another rejection. So I turned my eyes from the mess and sat at the table in front of the Yahtzee board.

Her face lit up, glowing with joy and excitement. Once she knew she had my attention she chattered and giggled, taking deep gasping breaths between word-full sentences.

If I were to heed that early morning call to communion, would it light His face? Would He grab the opportunity and pour out His Words into my heart?

When I put Him off, does His face fall like a child who's been turned away?

When I say "not now," I am telling Him that filling my body with sleep is more important than filling my soul with Him. Oh, how wrong that is! Sleep - my body can live with less. But Jesus - my soul cannot live without.

Without Him, my soul dries out, parches, it cries out in thirst. The longer I leave my soul in such a state, the more withered it becomes. Eventually, the dryness will feel normal and the thirst will be dulled. Until the lack of moisture leaves gaping cracks - broken places.

Lord, forgive me for thinking so much of myself that I begin to believe I can afford to postpone my time in Your Presence. Tomorrow morning, and each morning after, give me an unquenchable thirst for Jesus when that alarm clock sounds. I don't want to become a withered old soul! Abba Daddy, I love you. YOU are more important than anything - including sleep. Draw me closer...

holy experience

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ragged Beauty

We had just finished our tea and a visit, were ready to leave the coffee shop. Both of us stood to use the facilities before heading our separate ways. My black bag, heavy laden with laptop and all the accessories remained on the chair.

At the same moment in time, we noticed a man at the table behind us. Long, grey, unkempt beard; wrinkles sagging a face worn out by time; blue eyes, crinkled and watery. On his head he wore a dirty blue ball cap, his burgundy coat faded, dirty, and well-used.

We paused on our trek to the washroom, looked at the man then at one another. She said, "I'll wait here. You go ahead." And she sat back down. I peered again at the man, turned to her, and nodded my head.

In my few quiet moments, I pondered my reaction to this man. Did I truly believe this man, possibly homeless, would grab my laptop and run? I did not. Yet some would, so how do I discern whom is trustworthy?

I returned to the table, ready to grab my bag and go on my way. She headed to the washroom. And he focused his watery eyes on me. It was as though he could read my thoughts, and I felt the heat of shame climb up my neck. He twitched his dry, cracked lips and opened into a smile. The most beautiful, bright white smile! I wondered if they were veneers or dentures, so gleaming was their surface. Not the teeth of a man with no home.

And he spoke to me. "Are you a writer?" he asked with genuine interest.

"I am," I replied. "Well, I'm trying to be."

"What do you write? Short stories, magazine articles, or are you a student?"

"I am writing a book, actually. Hopefully." His curiosity made me uncomfortable, less confident, unsure, and ashamed.

We continued for several minutes, him drawing more and more information from me, with painstaking patience. He offered praise and encouragement. He suggested a writer's group. He smiled and smiled. And he was so beautiful.

As we bid farewell and I heaved my briefcase onto my shoulder, I noticed his companion. A man in a suit - younger, maybe his son. The younger man chewed thoughtfully on his sandwich, absorbing our dialogue, as though it were a familiar scene. My scraggly-bearded friend had no food, only a lone cup of coffee. He did not appear to be hungry. Not what you'd expect from a homeless man.

As I drove home, I allowed my imagination to drift... Who was this kind character in the coffee shop? Why did I misjudge him? What is God trying to teach me though that old man?

Perhaps he was just there to encourage me. Maybe to teach me not to judge what I see but to discern with my heart. Or was he demonstrating for me how I ought to love and encourage others?

All I know for sure is that the old, ragged, worn-out man I met in the coffee shop was there for me. The charm of his personality and the mystery of his smile remain with me - in my head, in my heart.

Questions that Keep me up at Night

Why is the divorce rate in churches the same (and in some cases higher) than the divorce rate of the general population?

When faced with devastation (financial, loss of a child, etc.) how come some people fall to pieces and others endure? What's the difference between those two types of people?

How do some people truly manage to live completely free of debt?

How in the world do "mega families" afford to feed everyone? How much money does Jim Bob Dugger actually earn????

What makes some people seem at peace no matter what, while others always seem stressed out? Are their circumstances that different, or is it something else?

What would it be like to walk with God so faithfully that one eventually just walks right up to Heaven? How hard would that be?!

How come some children seem to be born with rebellion in their spirit?

Why, when I'm tired, do I stay up until midnight pondering unanswerable questions?

And can someone please teach me the technique to back-combing hair so that I can get a little volume near the top?! Seriously - how does one learn to do that???

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reflections on Obedience

As I begin my third week of fasting from fast food/junk food/processed food, I carry a bag of mixed emotions. The first week was surprisingly easy, the second more difficult than I had ever imagined, so what will week three bring?

In some ways, I feel as though I'm not depriving myself enough. Most days I feel full from feasting on veggies. Last night I had margarine on a bowl of popcorn. I am following the Canada Food Guide, which is what I believe the Lord asked of me, but I sometimes wonder if I'm not suffering enough for His name.

In my heart, I had committed to praying for two specific things whenever I was struggling with thinking about food. I envisioned myself on my knees for long stretches of time each day. But I am finding that when a craving for junk overwhelms me, I cry out for help and pray a quick prayer for each of those two things, and I move on.

Guilt. That's what I'm feeling. Why?

I absolutely believe I have been obedient these last two weeks. If a food crosses my path that I'm unsure of, I ask God before I touch it. He's told me both yes and no several times. I am fully committed to this fast, and thoughts of "cheating" in any way are momentary and fleeting - because I know the harm my disobedience could have to our relationship.

This morning, though, and virtually every morning for the past month, I have been pressing the snooze button on my alarm - repeatedly. Some days I still manage to be up before the kids and get some quiet time in, but many days I have been offering an abbreviated prayer and a quick glance in the Word before the distractions of my day take over my mind. Yet I know that the Lord called me to be up at 5:30am with Him every day. I've been putting off my daily time for my daily bread.

I haven't done any writing on my book since She Speaks - just the revisions I needed to make to my proposal in order to email it in. I believe that God showed me some "margin" in my life that I could be using to write a couple times per week, but I have instead been using those few hours each week to mindlessly surf on facebook or read a novel. I've been delaying in taking the next step in my writing.

If I went on to list all the areas in my life that Jesus has called me to make changes in - things that I have been putting off - blogger would probably cut my post off halfway through! I recently read that delayed obedience is disobedience. So though I am being obedient in this one thing, with so many other areas of disobedience in my life, no wonder I feel guilty. As much as I'd like to believe it, giving part of my life to Jesus just isn't enough for Him.

Even as I write this, I feel my heart going astray... I think to myself, in September, once school's started, I will get obedient in all these things. More delay. What a mess I am!

On a side note, a number of people have asked if I am seeing results from this fast...

I think that my pants are buttoning a little easier. There is still a big muffin top spilling over, but the tightness of the waist is not causing pain or discomfort. Then again, I think most of my pants are on day 2 or 3 of wear; the true test will be freshly laundered jeans. I'm still experiencing some of the unpleasant symptoms of being overweight, though, such as back aches and heartburn. As for weight, I have no idea. God was pretty clear with me that I was prone to take my motivation (and discouragement) from the numbers on the scale. But He wants His pleasure at my obedience to be my only motivator. So my scale and I are "on a break" from each other for these 40 days. How's that for a complete non-answer?!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Things I've Enjoyed

Though I'm not a homeschooling mom, I love Mary's (owlhaven) ideas for keeping pre-schoolers occupied.

Bobbie (40 Shades of Pink) featured MY VERY OWN meatball recipe on her blog. Coming from a girl who is not a cook, these are totally worth your time to make. Mmmmmmm....

What Ann (Holy Experience) has to say about love and marriage - beautiful.

Raw and real, Shaun's (Shlog) experience with depression both broke my heart and made my spirit sing - for God is so there. If you have time to read the whole story, take it.

I just may be adapting a version of Danielle's (Momma Bird Muses and Babbles) goals for the next year of my life. Love this idea!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Walls and Baseboards and Paint, Oh My!

We are very close to moving back into our basement. I will be so glad to eliminate the three million extra piles of "stuff" from my living room and kitchen! And I know Pat will be thrilled to have the garage back.

As the end of the renovation gets closer, I find myself growing impatient. The fact that Kai is not sleeping through the night at almost two years of age, due to the fact that I cannot ignore him when he fusses, due to the fact that he's sharing a room with Braeden who really needs his sleep, has me exhausted!

But soon, it will all go back to normal... Ahhhhh...

Here is the feature wall of the family room. (Interesting tidbit - the dark brown paint actually smelled like chocolate!) As you can see, the first piece of furniture was moved in the moment the carpet was laid.

In this next picture I'm standing with my back against the brown wall so you can see the full length of the family room. We haven't quite figured out what we're doing with those posts yet - ideas? I'd kinda like to leave them uncovered, as the kids think it's the mostfunever to climb them.

If you're wondering about the mattresses and sleeping bags - Pat and the kids camped out down there while I was at She Speaks. And in case you were unsure, I absolutely believe it's proper renovation etiquette to NOT clean up assorted piles of supplies as you work. Everything - tools, compressors, vacuums, and such should remain randomly laying around until the final details of the project are complete. Okay?

The bathroom has the most work remaining - countertop, sink, mirror, and accessories still to be done. Thankfully, the toilet is in fine working order!

This is my fabulous flooring in the bathroom and laundry room. There is a seat on the toilet already, the one you see on the floor is the new one I purchased because the original wasn't quite good enough. Have you ever shopped for a toilet seat? I cannot believe how many there are to choose from!

Speaking of the laundry room...

Do you remember this wall? (Coming down the stairs on the left is the concrete foundation of the house - if it were drywalled over the stairs would be v.e.r.y. narrow. So the previous owners thought that covering it in some shagadellic orange carpet was a fantastic plan.)

Here's that wall now (from a different angle, so you can get the full effect).

Speaking of shagadellic - did you know that shag is back "in?"

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Prayer Asks the Questions

So often, my prayers centre around what God can do for me. I think it's okay to ask God to help us with our struggles and provide us with things we want and need, but I am learning that sometimes (often) God's answer is not as direct as I'd like. You see, He is much more concerned with the condition of my heart than with the circumstances of my life.

I had to share one of those "inspirational emails" that has found its way into my inbox this week, that spoke right to my prayers.

I asked God to take away my habit.
God said, "No. It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up."

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, "No. His spirit is whole,
his body is only temporary."

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, "No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;
it isn't granted, it is learned."

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, "No. I give you blessings.
Happiness is up to you."

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, "No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares
and brings you closer to Me."

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, "No. You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful."

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, "No. I will give you life,
so that you may enjoy all things."

I asked God to help me love others as much as He loves me.
God said, "Ahhhh,
finally you have the idea!"

I needed this little reminder that God truly does provide everything that I need. I just have to decide what to do with it. It's worth saying again - God is more concerned with the condition of my heart than with the circumstances of my life.

holy experience

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Was Feeding My Pain

Today is day nine. I am almost one quarter of the way through my junk food/ processed food fast. To be perfectly honest with you, up until yesterday it wasn't all that difficult. I am not saying it has been easy, just not quite the struggle I had anticipated.

You did catch the phrase "until yesterday," didn't you?

You know those difficult days where nothing seems to go right? Well, yesterday the kids were crabby and bickering all day long (even when I took them to the playground it was, whine, whine, whine), I had five mountains of laundry to put away, and it seemed as though there was nothing for me to eat in the house. I worked my way through, moment-by-moment, asking God to give me the grace to keep moving forward and the strength to resist temptation.

At supper time, I needed to head out for an appointment. But before I left, Pat and I had a little disagreement. It wasn't anything major, but just enough to bring my sensitive feelings right up to the surface. As I drove to my appointment, I had a little dialogue going in my head...

I should just pull into McDonald's and get a cheeseburger, fries, and a vanilla shake. That will make it all feel better. No, I can't do that! Maybe just a glass of wine later one - that will soothe the little ache in my heart. No, I won't do that! But I resisted all day when things were sooooo hard and the kids were really terrible, I just need a little something yummy to fix everything.

In that moment, God revealed to me why He has me on this fast. When I hurt, feel frustrated, feel angry, get stressed, or experience any other negative emotion - I feed my body and stuff the emotion. The more delicious junk I stuff down into my belly, the deeper those chokey, achy feelings get pushed, and the less I have to feel them. This pattern has been around for so long that I didn't even realize I was doing it.

As I continued driving I wept. I wept for how badly my heart was aching over a silly little spat and how ridiculous that was! Then I wept because I hadn't felt hurt like that in my chest and gut for so long I couldn't remember it. I wept for who I am - a girl with powerful emotions - and the fact that I have denied myself and the way God created me for so long. I wept for how I had loved my food so much more than my Jesus these past couple of years.

I cried out to God and I thanked Him - for making me who I am, for bringing me to life again, and because I was trusting Him to carry me through the overwhelming wave of heartache (and quickly, as I was now only a block away from my appointment).

In His strength, over these remaining 31 days, I plan to re-learn how to feel, taking those feelings to my Jesus as an offering of love and sacrifice, trusting Him to soothe all that aches within me. I will feed my body fuel so that it can function, and trust Him to feed my soul.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty [days], to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your father had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. ~Deuteronomy 8:2-3

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why I'm Writing About My Anger

This journal entry is one of many included in the book I'm working on...

Journal Entry (January 18, 2006)

We started these book study groups at Friendship Factor today. I just hopped in with this one group who was talking about the importance of friendship. I didn’t really want to be in that group, but the one I hoped for was full (all the books were gone). So I sat and listened to all these women talk about how special their best friends were to them. And I felt like total crap…

I just don’t have a friendship like that. I mean, I’ve got a best friend, but they’ve all got these groups of best friends. They babysit for each other. Their husbands stay home with the kids so they can all get together one night a week. It’s like a big community (it is taking everything in me right now not to call them a clique because of my jealousy).

Anyway, one part of the book that the leader read to us was about sharing our burdens with one another. It talked about how women tend to “put on a happy face” and we never really tell anyone about our struggles and hurts. I actually felt a little teary as she read those words – she was describing me!

The leader gave us an exercise at the end to help us grow more comfortable being open with others. We each had to write a TRUE AND PERSONAL prayer request on a slip of paper. But no one needed to put their names on the papers (phew). It took me a few minutes to gather up the courage, but I finally decided that no one was going to waste their time trying to analyze my handwriting and figure out who wrote it. I wrote, “please pray that I will stop yelling at my kids.” I folded the paper in half, dropped it in the basket that was going around, and barely resisted the urge to stir the papers up a bit so mine wasn’t right on top.

I waited for the basket to come around again so I could take home someone else’s prayer request, but when it got to me it was empty. A woman from the group came rushing to drop her prayer request in, looked at me, the empty basket, and my empty hands. She shrugged and handed it to me and walked out.

I felt so snubbed! Of course, it was the ever-popular Maria*. And she didn’t even bother to say a word to me – the nerve. I slipped that paper into the back pocket of my jeans and went to get the kiddos from childcare.

Tonight, getting ready to toss in a load of laundry, I was checking pockets. I was in a crabby mood thanks to Pat being away and the kids being horrible! And then I grabbed that stupid piece of paper. I thought to myself (actually, I may have even muttered the thought out loud), “I suppose she needs prayer that her new designer jeans will fit after she accidentally lost five pounds!”

I opened and read, and began sobbing. Loud, hiccuping, snot-dripping-from-my nose sobbing. Her prayer request said, “that I won’t shout at my kids this week, and that my husband will be supportive of me.”

I still can’t believe it! Maria, the picture of patience, married to the son of one of the most well-known and well-respected couples in the church, a woman who I was certain had the perfect life and had everything ‘all together.’ That woman yells at her kids, too?! And not only that, but her marriage isn’t perfect?

I feel so free! There is something in knowing that I am not the only one, that someone who I thought was perfect is messed up too, that makes me hate myself a little bit less. If I feel like scales of blindness have been taken from my eyes and a fifty pound weight has been removed from my shoulders, I wonder how other women would feel with this knowledge?

What if I dared to tell people a little bit about my anger? Could I make such a difference in one woman’s life as Maria has just made in mine? If other women knew that I, the head of women’s ministry, struggled with yelling at my kids, would they hate me and throw me out? Or is there a chance that they might feel completely freed?

Oh, Lord, thank-you…

* Name changed

Friday, August 7, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

There was a strange man at the door, and our fierce protector, Daisy, was growling viciously. I asked Meg to put Daisy in her crate so I could open the door and inform the strange man that, no, we don't wish to try his amazing new method of carpet shampooing.

On her way to her bed, Daisy made an abrupt change of plans, choosing instead to head for the kitchen where my BFFs teenage son was standing (after all, he likes to wrestle with her). As her clumsy dog body swung around, she bumped up - hard - behind Meg's backside, sweeping the featherweight six-year-old right off her feet! She came down hard on her side, and, apparently, on her left arm.

When the crying continued past the ten-minute mark, Christine (the previously mentioned BFF) and I knew that my tough little cookie must really be hurt. We got her loaded into the vehicle amidst screams of, "You're killing me! I'm going to die!" Not sure if I've ever mentioned this before, but my dear, sweet best friend is a little on the dramatic side; Meg's middle name is in honor of her. Yup - aptly named!

With the exception of a couple small outbursts when medical professionals attempted to speak to her, look at her, or heaven forbid - touch her, Meg handled the whole thing like a real trooper.

(On a side note, why do so many nurses seem to think that talking VERY LOUDLY to an uncooperative child will cause that child to be more cooperative? I mean really - we want to draw even more attention?! I say just keep on working away and ignore the protesting child's shrieks of, "No! Don't touch me! I hate you! MOOOOOOMMMMYYYYY!!!!!" But maybe that's just me.)

And now, she's milking it for all it's worth! And her sisters are happy to comply with every little request for a sweater, a drink, a snack, carrying things...

Through it all, her cheerful disposition remains. ;) As is evidenced by the most cooperative photos...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Making the Turn-Around

I don't know about you, but in my life I find that there are a few particular sins that I tend to revisit over and over again. It's this never-ending cycle: sin, confess, be forgiven, do better, sin again...

One area that has been a huge struggle for me, for years, is anger towards my kids. It's so easy to slip into. Take yesterday for example... Life was great! I am pumped up and filled up from my weekend at She Speaks. I have been calm, patient, and firm in my discipline. We had two really great days. But yesterday something changed.

Maybe it was the rain, or the amount of time I spent at the computer, or maybe just a fluke - but let me tell you, these five kids were insane! Hyper, crazy, silly, loud, fun play inevitably turned into injury and tears. No matter how many times I calmly took those children aside and directed them to settle down, they would not stop. All that noise, the crying, and tattling - it got to me.

I completely lost my cool. Bellering at the top of my lungs, I directed five children toward their beds for some quiet time. When they argued, whined, and pleasded their cases I bellered some more. I pointed my finger toward the bedrooms, leaned in toward them, told them to "MOVE IT NOW" or risk the wrath of my raised hand coming down hard on their little tushies. I literally bit my tongue to keep from shouting "Shut up!" when more begging and apologizing came.

Right now, I am in pursuit of a personal spiritual revival. My heart is not content with a lukewarm, comfortable faith. As much as I dont want my world rocked, I really want God to rock my world! But I just don't know if He can work out a revival in this angry heart of mine...

Repentance is a prelude to revival.
~ Donna Jordan

According to Donna Jordan (a wise, Godly, humble woman) my revival will not be coming until I repent.

If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
~Psalm 66:18

[S]he who conceals [her] sin does not prosper.
~ Proverbs 28:13

To repent is to turn away from sin. The act of confessing my sins and seeking forgiveness is not enough to bring about revival. I must put the sin out there and say, "Sin, you are taking me in this direction. I am going to leave you behind, turn around, and head in the completely opposite direction."

Last night, for the first time in a very long time, I was able to stop the momentum of the rage that was building in me. In my heart I said, "Anger, I will not go there with you tonight. Nuh-uh. You, my long-time companion, can go ahead and hop on your little train of emotional breakdown. But I won't be coming along. In fact, I am getting on this other train that's headed in the opposite direction. I'm taking a ride on the train of emotional self-control. Buh-bye!"

I released the kids from their time-outs, instructed them to get their rain boots and coats on, and let them be crazy outside (it lasted about fifteen minutes until all their teeth were chattering). They came in, feasted on their dinner of mini pizzas, and settled into their jammies with a movie.

I honestly can't think of a time in recent years where I have been able to make a turn-around like this. The pattern, as I said, is usually more like: lose it on the kids, weep with my guilt, seek forgiveness from God and kids, try to move on until the next time.

You know, I really wasn't even able to make that turn-around this time. But God. It strikes me that when I am submitted to His will in one area of my life, He makes the path of submission and repentance in other areas so much easier.

I'm sure it doesn't hurt that each time I crave nasty foods that are off-limits right now, I am praying that God remove the spirit of anger from me.

Bring on the revival!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Flash Back

I never did post the pictures from camping (maybe I'm trying to block it out). Here are a few snapshots, in no particular order (because attempting to put photos in order on blogger is impossible).

There appear to be no pictures of the Grandma who made this camping fun possible. She must have been too busy working behind the scenes... Thanks for taking us, Mom!

Monday, August 3, 2009


I expected to return home from my weekend at She Speaks full of excitement, wisdom, knowledge, ideas, and the like. I anticipated calling a ministry meeting and sharing what I've learned in hopes of inspiring each of the women on my team to pursue a deeper relationship with her Jesus. I hoped to come back to this place and be on fire for writing my book with confidence and purpose. These were just some of my plans. I had big plans... As my new friend Lysa so aptly puts it,

But God.

In her heart a woman plans her course, but the LORD determines her steps. ~Proverbs 16:9

I sure did write down a lot of ideas on my list of "Action Steps" throughout the weekend. And I do believe that someday God will call me to take those steps. But for today, I choose to accept His plans as my plans.

Lysa shared with us a personal journey the Lord has been taking her on. She has been sharing about it on her blog for a couple months. When she writes about it, I can feel God nudging me. And I have been putting my fingers in my ears and singing, "la, la, la, la, I can't hear you!"

You see, my struggle with weight loss has not been a weight loss issue. It has been an obedience issue - rather, an issue of disobedience. God has been calling me to submit to Him, and I have been resisting. I have been comfortable with eating anything and everything I enjoy; what God was calling me to do was going to be very uncomfortable. Very unsettling.

Beginning this morning, my Jesus and I are walking out onto some deep waters. I can't see the bottom, and it's terrifying. But I know that if I keep my gaze fixed on Him, He will not let me drown. In fact, He won't even let my feet get wet. So if you see me beginning to sink down into the icy cold waters, I give you permission to ask me if my eyes are still focused on my One and Only.

I went to the cross Sunday morning, and picked up a paper with a promise from the Lord. One that had been prayed over by a faithful group of servant women, one that I knew was just for me the moment I read it.

But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. ~Psalm 33:11

I've been asking Him, Jesus, what are Your plans for me? What are Your purposes?

He answered, My plans and purposes have never changed from the beginning of time. I want My Name to be glorified through the obedience of My people.

I dared to ask the question, Lord, where is there disobedience in my life? What do You want me to submit to You?

Even as I asked it, my weak heart was scrambling to pull the thought back in! That was a very dangerous question to ask. The moment the question was formed I was brought back to this prayer I prayed. And I knew.

Jesus asked me, Tyler, what do you love more - junk food or Me? Do you love Me enough to give up your precious snacks?

I do, I do, Jesus help me, I do! But it is going to be so HARD!

I don't know exactly what I can eat and what I can't. Meats, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains - for sure. As for the things that may or may not fit (like my Honey Nut Cheerios in the morning, or dressings and toppings), I'll take those one at a time, asking Him as we go. For forty days (longer if He asks), I'm going to spend time in the hot, dusty, lonely desert with my Jesus. And when the struggle feels overwhelming, the pangs of my flesh crying out for self-satisfaction, I will get down on my knees (and sometimes my face).

I went to She Speaks anticipating revival. I just didn't realize how very personal this reviving process would be.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Assorted and Random Update

Pictures I meant to include in the last post, but got tired of waiting for them to upload...

Did I mention that the first plane we were on was barely one step above a puddle jumper? There's April and I offering our early-morning, make-up free smiles. That is one big pimple on my chin!

The girls sitting down for the early-bird dinner. Far left is Peggy (black and white shirt), centre is April (black and white tank), and far right is Karen (white top, glasses). The other lady was one of the many beautiful women at the dinner.

Peggy and I hamming it up - giddy on lack of sleep.

The hotel. This is indoors. Instead of enclosed hallways, all the rooms open to a balcony-style hallway that looks down on the lobby. It is really quite stunning.

I am learning so much! The presence of God is so heavy in this place, and He is speaking. Man, is He speaking. More on that later...

In the prayer room, each woman's name (600 of them) has been prayerfully placed around one of the names of God. I found mine at Jehova-Shammah (The Lord is There, The Lord my Companion). It says, "God's presence is not limited or contained the the Tabernacle or Temple, but is accessible to all who love and obey Him."

And to answer the question in your heads - my publisher meetings were fantastic! I had an amazing opportunity to meet with three editors/publishing houses (David C. Cook, Kregel, Harvest House) and one agent (William K. Jensen Agency). I was filled with confidence and spoke well. All four of them invited me to submit my proposal via email! I was wondering if perhaps them telling me to email it in was a polite brush-off, but I have spoken to many women who did not mention being given business cards with email addresses, who were instead given feedback on how to improve on their current proposal. The next step relies on whether my writing is good enough, my style readable and enjoyable, and totally on God's hand. And, um, patience. Apparently, it could be six months before I hear from anyone.

In the midst of all this excitement, here is what I know in my heart. This book is not about me. It is about God, His unreasonable grace, His power to deliver, and the glory of His name. If it goes anywhere - it is all Him. I cannot write in my own strength, and I most definitely cannot become free from anger without His power. There are three things I want from this project: to find my own freedom in Christ; to help other mothers be freed from their anger, through Christ; and to see the name of Jesus lifted high. Anything else is simply icing on the cake. Don't get me wrong - it would totally rock - but it's not the reason.

If nothing comes of it, I will continue to obey Him and write it. Through writing it I am trusting Him to deliver me from anger. And I will share it with anyone He puts in my path. And I will pass it on to my children. I will be free, other moms will be free, and the name of Jesus will be shouted from the rooftops. Either way, His purposes will be served. And the fact that I get to do something I really love doing is just joy!

Well, I skipped my last session to wash my hair. Because I had a massage over lunch (which means I am hungry right now) I had icky greasy hair at my nape. I couldn't take it! But now my hair is clean and that session is almost ready to wrap up. The next session is one I just cannot miss - for the sheer fun of it. You'll get to see why later. ;)

P.S. Please pray for Kai (almost 2) who is home with Daddy (and Grandma - love you, Mom!) and is fighting off a virus. You'd think that by now satan would realize He can't pull me away from God with his stupid little tricks! Seriously, every time I'm away to grow one (or more) of the kids is sick. Too bad for the devil that I totally trust God and my family with the kids. No way will he get me to be distracted and anxious! But I'm sure it would be nice for the adults at home if the little man was a bit more content.