Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Feast, 10-29-10

First, I just have to say this - my husband is coming home tonight! Yahoo! I can't wait to see him!!! My plan is to meet him at the airport with some warm clothes and a slurpee (one thing he'll need, one I know he'll want). I think slurpees are his love language. Oh, how I've missed him!

Okay, let's get down to business. Were you feasting on the Word of God this week? Did you meet your goal of doing so daily? (If you missed the challenge, but think you'd like to join in, check out this post. And then just join us! There are no rules on this here blog. Otherwise I'd make myself crazy trying to follow them.)

I was 6 for 7. I missed Sunday morning, and it seemed that no matter my intentions the entire day went by. Before I knew it I was almost asleep in bed and realized that I totally messed up on my own challenge! BUT, I didn't give up (as I am apt to do when I experience small failures) and instead tried again Monday morning.

I am so glad that I was intentional about being in the Word this week. Because it was the kind of week that would have made it easy to let it slide. I've been staying up far too late (because I can't seem to fall asleep without Pat), which makes me very inclined to sleep in. Sleeping in makes me rushed, cranky, and prone to skipping parts of my morning routine (Bible time is often the first to go - how dumb is that?!). And with Pat being gone I am "on" all day every day with the kids, which can also cause me to feel rushed and cranky. All of that could have stacked up into a big, fat week of disaster. But the living and God-breathed Word of Scripture was with me to start my days, and stayed with me throughout. Praise Him.

I know I already asked this, but how did you do this week? Be honest - we're not here to condemn each other. If you struggled, let your sisters encourage you and give you ideas to make it work. And if you did great, let us "hip-hip-hooray!" with you.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How we made it through alive

Since my session on Mommy, why are you Angry? on Saturday, I have had countless opportunities to practice what I preached. As you probably noticed based on yesterday's post.

I believe that, as soon as we step out and try to teach spiritual truths to others, the enemy has a game plan. He thinks, "Sure, she says that she is free in Christ... But does she live like it? Let's test her out. Mwahahahaha." Okay, I'm not sure if he does that evil laugh, but I wouldn't put it past him.

In these situations, I tend to see God as the third base coach. He's standing right there, telling us what we need to do, encouraging and coaching, hoping and praying, cheering us on. I'm pretty sure His reply to the devil's questions goes something like this, "You better believe she's free! Go ahead, just try and tempt her. You'll see. She may stumble, but she will not fall!"

I stumbled a bit first thing in the morning. The boots issue - that brought out my "outside voice." The shelf, well that one had me hollering at everyone for a minute or two. Honestly, those are the kind of situations that would typically get my anger flaring. I hate, hate, hate running late and everything about yesterday morning screamed of "We're all gonna be late!!!" I was tempted to skip out on my women's group altogether, rather than show up late. But something inside me told me that keeping me starved for fellowship was another trick of the enemy, and I knew I needed me some girl time!

When I closed myself in the bathroom to tackle my hair and make-up in twenty minutes flat, and I began my frantic work, I felt a pause. I knew that I needed God to work quick in my heart if I wanted to turn the day around. I began praying, but my prayers felt like whining and complaining and I couldn't bear to listen to myself. Instead, as I pulled my hair into a ponytail and covered up pimples, I began reciting Scripture. (Last year I memorized 24 verses, this year about 6, and I gave those 30 verses my best shot. I could only recall about half of them, and I was definitely not at 100% accuracy. But I spoke those slightly out-of-order Bible verses with my whole heart.)

No more than fifteen minutes later, my hair and make-up were done, my teeth were clean, I had a fresh layer of deodorant on, and I was dressed. The best part, though, is that I felt victorious. I didn't feel stressed, frazzled, late, or angry anymore. In fact, the peace of God was so strong over me that when Kai refused to go into childcare and insisted sitting with me ALL morning, it didn't even annoy me! (Seriously, if you know me, you know that this is a miracle! I am never one to turn down an hour of childcare!)

So if you were with me on Saturday, and you were wondering whether the stuff I was talking about really works, it does. Does speaking Scripture really hold the power to halt our anger? Absolutely! Remember "Thing 2?" Words are powerful. Especially the Word of God. It's sharper than any double-edged sword. (Hebrews 4:12)

Yesterday is living proof.


(Yeah, okay, I'm sorry about that. I now realize that I cannot pull off some military guy victory chant. I won't try that again. Promise. ;))

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quick update

I was reflecting on peace this AM, and how I am truly experiencing it while Pat's away. I was soaking up some Scriptures about how peace is something we pursue, contemplating how to turn my thoughts into a blog post.

Next thing I know...

- one child is tossing a hissy fit about boots (new boots chosen by said child last night) - apparently they're too puffy; said child left for school in runners, with a scowl on, and with stinky breath from unbrushed teeth
- one child spazzed on the way out the door because the snow pants were not easy enough to find - this is apparently my fault
- one child slept in and needed to be pushed every single step of the way this morning, and then some
- my comments on the blog are not being emailed to me, which appears to be a problem with my email server - instead of posting I was attempting to fix the problem
- my laundry shelf fell from it's perch and dropped all of its contents on the floor and into a hamper full of clean laundry (contents included powdered laundry detergent, 400 or so batteries, assorted screwdrivers, a picture hanging kit with approximately 2600 small pieces, and a basket full of new light bulbs)

As for blog posts, I suspect that this may be all you'll get today. Apparently I was feeling a bit too confident in my ability to seek God's peace and the enemy is setting out to knock me down a few notches. There were a couple battles this morning that I already allowed him to win, but I intend to have the victory of the war before the kids are home from school today! In Jesus' name.

Your prayers would not be wasted on me today.
Look for a late post today. I've got stuff on my mind, but pushed snooze too many times this morning! I'll post after lunch. :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bible stuff

What translation of the Bible do you typically use? Why?
Have you always used this translation? Or did you switch to it at some point?

I read the NIV, I think because that's what I've always had. In most cases, it's the version I use for Scripture memory and for quoting verses when I write. The funny thing is, whenever I read a passage quoted from the NLT and even the Message, I love how the words come together!

For that reason I'm thinking of buying a new, big, fat, study Bible. Probably NLT. But here's my big concern - will I be able to find verses I'm looking for in the concordance?! For example, yesterday I was looking for the verse about our words having "grace" and "seasoned with salt." I flipped to the back of my Bible and looked under "salt" to find that it was Colossians 4:6. In the NLT, the verse says to let our conversation be "gracious and attractive." While that phrase clearly makes more sense, how would I find it with my memory that's full of NIV?

So I really do want to know what you think! Advice, people. Please! :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thing Six: What to do when you mess up

This morning I am packing up to take my kiddos and dog home from a weekend of worship and fellowship. For many years I volunteered at the Freshwind conference, hauling chairs around and cleaning bathrooms (okay, honestly, I usually tried to delegate the bathrooms), but this year was special. At this year's conference, I had the huge privilege of being one of the workshop speakers. Can I just say - my body and mind are just as exhausted as they have been every other year! (Honestly, though, I do know those volunteers had to deal with a lot more crap than I did! If you were there, you know what I mean ;))

Not only did I enjoy the hours of catching up with some old friends (you know who you are), but I had the opportunity to meet some new ones. I just want to send a quick shout out to them: Rhiannon, Kathy from New Sarepta, Heidi, Monika, Pam, Charlotte and friends from Calgary, and Pam and Wendy from "the Park," and about 90 others whose names I didn't learn. Hi girls! Thanks for spending your time with me Saturday afternoon. :)

If this is your first visit to my blog, here are a few things that will help you get involved. Got something to say? Excellent! I love comments! Just click on the phrase "__ shared their thoughts" at the bottom of this post and follow the prompts. Don't know how to sign in? If you have a google account, sign in to it to leave your comment. If not, you can choose "Open ID" and just type your name in the box; you can click "Name/URL" and if you type in your own blog or website address I can come visit you; or you can choose "Anonymous" and either type your name at the end of your comment or remain anonymous. Want to come back and read all the time? It would make my day if you clicked to "follow it" and "find me on facebook" or decided to "receive posts by email!" (All of these options can be found in the sidebars to the right of this post.)

Okay, let's get on with the good stuff! :)

In my session, Mommy, why are you Angry? I shared five things God has taught me in our journey to break free from my "addiction" to venting my anger and frustration on my kids. (I sure hope that, if you were in my session on Saturday, you've had a chance to review the handout and are thinking about your first steps. Are you going to start exploring your childrens' love languages? Do a spiritual gifts inventory for yourself? Have you started writing out those verses and sticking them all over your world?) But there is an important sixth point that I still need to talk about - what should I do when I mess up?

Heaven knows that I have messed up more times than I can count on this journey! I don't know about you, but I tend to be an "all or nothing" girl. When I am trying to lose weight (when am not?!), for example, I jump in with both feet - I count points, I exercise, and I am diligent. But then someone has a birthday and messes with my system. You see, I am powerless to resist a good, fat slice of cake. And once I let that one piece pass my lips, I begin to feel defeated. I lost the battle, so I may as well quit trying. And I fall face-first, mouth wide open off the wagon. This all or nothing mindset carries to most areas of my life, including yelling. I resolve to never yell again, and when I slip up and let a frustrated holler go I feel weak and discouraged, so I just give up. Then I'm just "a yeller" as opposed to being a mom who is trying to change but is a failure.

Is anyone relating to this?!

Here are three quick tips on dealing with the inevitable mess ups:

1. Celebrate every little success.

We can't experience success if we look at life through the all or nothing lens. If our goal is perfection, we will constantly fall short. So stop resolving to be perfect! Start resolving to do better next time. Take it one frustrating experience at a time. And if next time you want to lose your cool but instead give yourself a time out - you have succeeded! Write it down! Celebrate! Pat yourself on the back! And don't forget to praise the Lord!

2. Always ask forgiveness.

There will be next times when the yelling still sneaks out. The one thing we can never afford to do is ignore those mistakes. When we ignore sin and pretend it isn't there, it grows. We need to allow God to bring our sin into His light, so He can remove it. When we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us - every single time (yes, even if it's the 10,000th time). Remember, too, that God isn't the only One we need to seek forgiveness from - so many angry words can be instantly healed by the simple act of telling our children that we're sorry.

(See 1 John 1:9. Use a concordance to look up some verses containing the words "repent," "forgive," and "confess.")

3. Pray about your anger every day.

Event today, when I am (finally) less "angry mommy" and more "mommy who sometimes messes up and gets angry," I still ask God to help me with my anger every single day. I plan to continue to do so until the day I die. You see, when something begins to gain victory over us, we will (in most cases) always be particularly susceptible to that struggle. For example, I quit smoking nearly eight years ago. Obviously, I am no longer addicted. Yet put me in a certain situation, especially with other smokers, and my foolish mind begins to entertain thoughts of having "just one drag." The enemy knows our areas of weakness, and he is relentless in his pursuit of our failure! The best guard we have against his tricks and temptations is daily prayer for protection and strength.

Basically, it all comes down to changing our thinking. (Sound familiar?) To continue the whole diet analogy, we have to stop thinking like we're on a diet, and begin living like we're making a lifestyle change. It's not all or nothing, but one step at a time toward the goal. And while our daily weigh-ins may not all show the results we're looking for, if we begin to track progress over time (remember #1 - write down those successes) we will see positive change!

One last thing I want to say to you. When you mess up, you are not a bad mom. Wait, I'm not sure you're really hearing that. You are not a bad mom! When you mess up, you are a good mom who messed up. So say, "Oops," and keep moving forward. Because you are a good mom! You are exactly the mom God chose for your children. Say it with me, I am a good mom!

There are lots of other resources on my blog relating to anger, to figuring out your calling, and for spiritual growth and encouragement. (There are also lots of mindless tidbits about me and my life.) Please stay a while and surf around. I just love visitors! :) Here are the links to a couple number of posts I think you'll enjoy:

Friday Feast (our four-week challenge to read God's Word daily)
Seven Steps to Stop Anger in its Tracks (a few tips in anger management)
How to Help an Angry Mom (a series, parts 3 & 4 are all about child training)
When God Messes up Your Plans (how God has been working in my life)
Are You Burying Your Talents? (wondering what your calling is? this might help)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Feast, 10-22-10

We wouldn't let ourselves "miss" a meal, yet so often we allow ourselves to miss our time in the Word. We eat three times a day, every day. We do not experience hunger where our stomachs cramp and groan. Yet we allow our souls to to atrophy with malnutrition.

In order to be full - full of love, full of peace, full of compassion, full of the Holy Spirit - we need to eat every day. Feast on the Bread of Life, quench our thirst with the Living Water.

I know this. I have seen evidence of it in my daily life. When I have been in the Word, I can take the day in stride; when I have not, interruptions and delays bring frustration, impatience, irritability, anger. I know this. Yet I still allow myself to miss meals. It's Saturday...I need to sleep in just a little bit...I can get my Bible time in even when the kids are up. It's Sunday...we're going to church...I will get filled up there. We're on vacation...routine is different...I'll get back on track when we get home. Do you make the same excuses I do to skip meals?

I'm tired of listening to my own excuses.

For the next four weeks, I am challenging myself to feast on the Word of God every. single. day. (For me, this means rising before everyone else.) Perhaps you need a bit of a challenge and accountability, too? Would you care to join me?

We won't do anything fancy. We'll just check in here on Fridays, share honestly how we did in the past week, and offer some words of encouragement to one another. There's no Scripture reading schedule - read what God leads you to read, how much He wants you to read, and for how long He asks you to read. There's no fancy calendar to fill in - keep track in any way you want: "X" on a calendar, date in a journal, remember in your head. All we need to do is read the Word, keep track of how many days out of the past 7 we succeeded in meeting our goal, and stop in here on Fridays to share and cheer each other on.

I'll start. Here is my "baseline" from last week:

Saturday - I slept in.
Sunday - I slept in.
Monday - I did a day of the Bible study I was working on, but didn't read anything for myself.
Tuesday - ditto.
Wednesday - ditto.
Thursday - ditto.
Friday - I read a chapter in Exodus. It said repeatedly, "Pharaoh hardened his heart," and I thought to myself that heart-hardening is one of the side-effects of starvation.

If you'd like to join me, let me know in the comments today. You don't have to share how you did last week (as we hadn't begun our challenge yet), but you are welcome to if, like me, you want to see progress from your baseline.

P.S. For those of you who've been around a while and are wondering about my blogging ADD (in other words, you're thinking, "What the heck happened to the M & M posts?!"), I guess I should let you know I decided not to try to do something "regular." I do better with short-term commitments, at least as far as the blogging thing goes. Plus, in January we can all join along in the semi-monthly Siesta Scripture Memory Team on the LPM blog - aka, Beth Moore!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to Repair a Cracked Vase

It is fall again. While the leaves fall to the ground and all of nature begins to lie dormant, I sense a revival coming. A time of renewal. A time of glorying in the presence of God. As I feel the spark in my spirit fanning to flame, I felt it important to look back a bit and reflect on where He has brought me from.

Last fall was a time of some major highs and lows in our family.

Pat gets offered a promotion - high.
We need to move - low.
Asking God to provide and seeing it happen - high.
Settling into new everything - low.
There were, of course, many others, but you get the picture.

Through the entire roller-coaster ride, we leaned hard on God. It was a new thing in our marriage - to pray together - but we pushed through our discomfort and did it, daily. Regardless of my emotions, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit over every moment of every day.

We are settled into our new life and its routines. The kids seem to be comfortable at their new schools. We have decided to make our new church our "home" church. Along the way we've even had a few free moments to make some friends.

But there's an underlying sense of...something. Sadness? Emptiness? Unfulfilled-ness? (Yes, I do realize that's not a word!) There's this thing that's nagging at me. God feels far away. I know that He didn't take a step back from me, which means I'm the one that moved.

Last year (2009) I memorized 24 Scripture verses; this year, zilch. Last fall our family was a family of prayer - Pat and I prayed together, we prayed with the kids, we prayed with friends, we prayed over every single decision; this year, at least we still pray at mealtimes and bedtimes with the kids. Last year I committed to getting up at 5:30am for my quiet time with the Lord and I rarely missed a morning; this year I rise a little bit early on random days and try to squeeze in a few minutes. I used to be responsible for mentoring many other women in their walk with the Lord, and I took that calling seriously; without that level of accountability I have allowed myself to slack off.

Just as it is no surprise that I gained back all my lost weight when I decided to "take a break" from exercising and eating well, I shouldn't be surprised that taking a break from vital spiritual habits has placed distance between me and God.

So here I am, working to piece together the fragments of my faith. I am like a vase that developed a hairline crack, and as time wore on little shards of clay fell out here and there. Not broken, not destroyed, but fractured and in need of repair.

How to Repair a Cracked Vase:

Step one: Pick up the section of the vase that seems easiest to fit back into place. For me, this means returning to the basics of Scripture memory.

Step two: Be generous with the crazy glue and hold it there until it dries. I need to allow the Holy Spirit to do His work settling the Word of God in my heart and mind.

Repeat steps one and two until each segment and sliver of clay is picked up off the floor. A few of the larger chunks I can see are morning time, praise, and prayer. It's the smaller fragments, though, that will take great concentration to fit back into place. Things like a hunger for God's Word, peace in my soul, and sensing those little nudges from the Holy Spirit.

While the vase may never be restored to its original beauty, it will be whole again. The shadow of those cracked places will forever be a reminder of what caused the vase to crack and the hard work invested in its repair. And those cracks, they will serve to let the Light shine through a little bit more than it did before the fracture happened.

* a re-post from the archives

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Have an Eating Disorder

Actually, I have two.

Anorexia...of the soul

Many times, I starve myself of the very sustenance that I require for survival. My very spirit is cramped up with hunger pains, yet I do not eat the Bread of Life. Malnourishment sets in.

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."
~ John 6:35
Binge Eating...of the flesh

Other times, I indulge and overindulge until I am bloated. My flesh devours all that it desires until no room remains for the Living Water. Disease sets in.

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."
~ John 4:10
I waste away when I believe the lie that can make it through the day without first dining on good food. My anorexia is rooted in self-sufficiency. Pride. I swell and fester when I believe the lie that the things of this life can fill me up. My binge eating is rooted in selfishness. Lust.

The only cure for my disorders is a lifestyle change.

The only cure for pride is humility. On my knees, humbly acknowledging that I cannot survive one single minute without the Bread of Life. For lustful cravings, rejection and replacement. I must reject that which I crave, replacing it with a longing to fill up on the Living Water.

The only path to this lifestyle change is a daily feast. Not a feast on weekdays only. Not a feast in only hard times or good times. A daily feast. Every day, devouring the soul nutrients contained in the Word of God, quenching my thirst on His Word alone, dining at His banquet table. Daily.

Here I am! I stand at the door and know. if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.
~ Revelation 3:20
Do you need a lifestyle change, too?

Perhaps we can do it together. Would you join me in the challenge to feast on the Word of God daily for four weeks? Check back on Friday, and details will be posted here.

holy experience

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

1 day down, 11 to go

Some observations after two nights and one day of Daddy being away...

I am completely unable to sleep when Pat isn't here. I stay up way too late in hopes that I will be tired enough to crash, then I lay in a semi-awake state all night long. Eventually, exhaustion has to take over so I can get a good night's sleep, right?

Daisy (our Golden Retriever) has not moved from her post, laying directly in front of the door, waiting for Pat to get home. All day, all night, that is where she stays.

When Kai gets in trouble, he cries for his Daddy. It's funny, because he never does this when Pat's at work!

It doesn't seem worth it to prepare a meal without my main meal appreciator here. Yet I'm sure it's not good for six of us to survive on grilled cheese sandwiches for two weeks. I should make that frozen lasagna tonight; it will ease my guilty feelings for a couple days.

Skype is super cool. I forgot how awesome it is. The kids are going to love seeing and talking with Pat tonight!

I miss him, yet I don't. It's hard to be selfish and miss someone when you know they are right where God has called them to be. They should be landing in Port au Prince any minute now...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good Fruit: Peace

In the Good Fruit series, I have decided to go against my natural inclination to be "orderly" and jot my thoughts about each fruit of the Spirit in whatever order they come to me. It's okay, really. I can deal with the fact that I've jumped from love to peace. Yup. Dealing...

To read the whole series, click here and start at the bottom.

When I envision what it's like to be a peaceful woman, I tend to imagine a calm, gentle, grandmotherly type who rests quietly with a hint of a smile on her face. When I see the woman called Peace, she is often sitting on a park bench by the lake shore. This morning, God showed me that my image of peace is all wrong!*

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea. ~Isaiah 48:18

Rivers are anything but quiet, gentle, and still. The rush of a river is loud and fast, and can quickly overwhelm even the strongest of swimmers.

Peace may not be found by resting in solitude and breathing deeply, after all. I am beginning to see that peace is more like a living, active sensation that overwhelms and overtakes us. Just as worry laps up to cover us like the ocean's tide swallows the beach inch by inch, so too can peace. I believe we can invite peace to come in that same way - wave by wave - until it is a river rushing over us with such force that we cannot come out from under it.

I always thought that I should quietly seek out peace until I found it. I wonder how different we might all be, how different our peace might look, if we instead allowed it to wash over our heads and swallow us up.

What do you think? Have you ever really envisioned peace as a raging river?

* Credit for changing my thought process goes to Beth Moore's Living Free.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Does God Really Talk to us?

I figured there would be one or two people with that very question following my Conversation with God. I was all ready to sit down and do my best to explain how God speaks to us. And then I read this...

The Bible is God's language. His native tongue. In the Old Testament alone, the writers explicitly state 3,808 times that they are conveying God's words. You will have a very, very difficult time hearing God's voice if you don't familiarize yourself with His language.

The more you read, hear, speak, write, memorize, study, seek to understand, teach and sing God's word, the more you will discern His voice when He speaks to you.
And I thought to myself, "Wow, she is way smarter than me on this subject! After all, hearing the voice of God is Sandy's "thing." She's super-good at explaining it, plus she's a fantastic writer! It's much better to send people to her blog if they want to understand this whole concept of hearing God speak." So that's exactly what I'm going to do.

Not sure if God really speaks to us? Or don't get how He speaks and how we hear? Want someone to makes sense of it all? Visit Sandy at God Speaks Today. She's revisiting some good teachings on this very subject. If you follow her blog, you will discover that the learning never ends!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why Retreat?

After yesterday's post, I imagine there are a few of you who are thinking, "Why in the world would she want to plan a women's retreat? I mean, how cheesy can you get? A bunch of emotional women having a giant slumber party. Yeah, that sounds fun." To you I say this - don't knock it 'til you try it!

But really, why should women go on a retreat together?

We need each other.

Women were designed for relationship. We were created with a special bond and a unique understanding of emotions, hormones, and sleep deprivation. There is a longing in every woman's soul (yes, I dared to say EVERY) that can only be met by female companionship.

It can be very difficult to really get to know someone over coffee with busy toddlers playing in the background (who repeatedly come into the foreground). It is next to impossible to build anything beyond a surface connection when you are in the workforce. And while Bible study and other women's groups are good and important, the focus for that hour is based on a pre-planned agenda.

But at a retreat, there are many hours of down time, hanging out time, meal times, and bedtimes (which tend to be much later than usual). Even with an agenda and a schedule, the time afforded to us to simply get to know one another is beyond anything we can experience in the regular world.

Let us not give up meeting together...but let us encourage one another...
~Hebrews 10:25

We need to come away with God.

Church on Sunday mornings is important. Same with Bible studies and small groups. We grow spiritually and build community during these times. But sometimes a girl needs more than an hour to sort out the spiritual messes in her heart. Every now and then, we need to remove all distractions and put our entire focus on God.

A retreat gives us numerous opportunities for deep, spiritual experiences. With each session we worship God through songs of praise. We are taught and fed the Word of God repeatedly over the course of the weekend. And there are countless hours to be spent in the quiet of His presence.

Come away, my love!
~Song of Solomon 8:14a (NLT)

We need to take time to rest.

Regardless of your current role - boss, employee, student, mother, wife, volunteer - you will eventually begin to experience the dreaded "burnout." It's practically inevitable. In our society, rest is considered laziness, so people go hard, go fast, and don't go home unless they have to. Certainly, men have a major burden to carry, but we women compete with one another in subtle ways to see who can win the race to becoming the first ever Superwoman.

Don't believe me? Ask 10 women "How are you?" today. I bet more than half of them will reply, "Busy!" like it's a badge of honor. I know I do.

Taking time away to recharge not only keeps burnout at bay, but it reminds us of the importance of rest. Leaving behind our day-to-day responsibilities for one weekend can be enough to refill us spiritually for an entire year!

Be at rest once more, O my soul...
~Psalm 116:7a

For the past few years, I have had the privilege of taking a couple weekends away per year. You might wonder why my husband (and my mom) would willingly take on the feeding and watering of five children and a dog so frequently. It's because they (in particular my man and kiddos) reap the benefits of my spiritual revival! Each time I attend a retreat or a conference - even if I'm one of the planners and worker bees - I take away a fresh Word from God, a renewed sense of purpose, restored energy, and an extra shot of peace and joy.

Don't get me wrong - I am not chalking these weekends up to a "feel good" emotional experience. I suppose that it could be merely that for some people, but I go in with the expectation that God is going to do a new work in me, that He will stretch me and shape me, and that I will not simply "feel good" but that I will be transformed. Granted, I walk in the doors of the church every Sunday morning expecting God to speak - He always does, and I usually hear Him. But within an hour I'm plunged back into meeting the needs of my family.

A women's retreat gives time to soak it all in.

Think about it - when was the time you were able to simply soak in the presence of God and other women without your daily "to do" list hovering over your shoulder? Sounds glorious, doesn't it?!

What about you? Do you retreat? Why or why not?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Conversations with God

I recently mentioned that I am feeling pretty busy these days, perhaps too busy. I have been thinking that something needs to go, and have been spending a fair amount of time contemplating which good thing I should let go of. After much thought and discussion, I thought I had it figured out. Everyone I talked to about it was in agreement. But there was one vital step in this decision-making process that I had left out, and one friend reminded me - ask God! (Thanks, Bobbie.)

Yes, really, I somehow forgot about asking God what He wants me to be doing.

(I should note that I have never "heard" God speak to me audibly. God's part in our conversation is usually more like an impression of what He is saying in my heart. And after I "hear" Him speak to my heart, I look to His Word for confirmation of what I sense Him saying in my spirit. Often, to help me hear more clearly, I write out our conversation as it happens - both my thoughts and questions and God's answers.

For the record, I've been wrong more than once. While the initial discovery that I had heard God incorrectly was disheartening, I have learned that this is a warning sign for me - a caution that I have not been in fellowship with Him the way I should be. More often than not, though, when I am submitted to His will over my wishes, I believe I have heard right. And stepping out in obedience to what He has called me to do has brought peace, joy, and many blessings.)

Here's how my conversation with God went this morning...

Lord, please help me to put aside my own will, my own desires, and speak to me about what You want for me. Am I supposed to step away from this area of ministry that I signed up for?

I have called you (and everyone) to serve Me in three ways: at home, in your local church, and through a ministry or mission that reaches out beyond the walls of the church. Are you doing all of these?

(I find that God often answers my questions by asking me questions. I'm more of a "get to the point" kinda girl. But who am I to question His methods?!)

I am, Lord. But I feel as though I went ahead with a couple things without consulting You and that I was motivated by selfish reasons.

Do everything as if you are serving Me and Me alone.

I waited, pondered, and tried to quiet my own thoughts to hear more. (Because there must be more than just that!)


(At this point I'm pretty sure I sensed a heavenly chuckle, like the one I give my kids when I've answered their questions yet they ask again.)

Father, I don't know what to do. Do I step back from women's ministry at the church? Do I step away from the Logos board? Do you want me to stick with all of them?

Honor your commitments, for this will glorify My Name.

Before I even formed my next question...

You do have enough time. It is none these things that causes you to be busy.

I know He's talking about my chosen form of "relaxation" and "entertainment" during the day - facebook.

But Lord, what about this urge I have to build real, true, deep relationships? What about making our home a place of welcome? Having coffee with friends? Inviting families for dinner? Offering to watch friends' children?

Yes? (I feel like He's slightly sarcastic at this point, "And your question is???")

Well, how do I do it all?

You don't. I do. Be with Me, immerse yourself in My Word, and whenever you feel Me nudge you, act on it. Joyfully.

And I realize what the true problem is. I'm not so busy. But I've had a poor attitude. These new things I'm involved in tap into my time in a different way. They mean I have less "down time" than I've grown accustomed to this past year. And I've resented that. How can I serve with joy when I'm feeling selfish with my time. My time, ha! Time is not mine, but His. It occurs to me how selfish I've been in using His time this fall.

I'm sorry, Lord.

I know. It's okay. Everyone loses their way now and then. But now that you have found your way again, walk in it with joy, serving with the fullness of all the gifts I have given you. Don't forget to check in with me throughout your days; if you are listening, you will hear Me tell you when to turn to the left or the right, when to move ahead and when to stay still.

Then, it felt as though God gave me a little gift. A reminder of what stirs up my passion. Women - fellowshipping together, being real and intimate, building strong friendships, growing deep in their faith, taking time away with God and one another to do these things. My first love, seven-ish years ago, was to plan a women's retreat. Something I had thought of at the first church we attended here, yet it had not crossed my mind at this new church.

It occurs to me that perhaps I've been less-than-joyful about some of the things I'm involved in simply because they're not where my passion lies and I haven't really been serving within my gifts. Ironic, considering that I "preach" serving within your gifts to virtually everyone I meet.

So with a smile on my face and a lightness to my step, I will go about His business today. And maybe, if He says to go for it, I'll just have to send a little email asking about the possibility of returning to my first love and planning a retreat... But first, I think I need to get on facebook and delete those little applications that tempt me to while away His time.

What is God talking to you about lately?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Click and Visit

This morning I got to be "class mommy" at Kindergarten. This afternoon I get to be "napping mommy." This weekend I will be "daughter" at my Mommy's house, which means I get to be fed really well! And Monday I get to be "stay at home with 5 kids who are off school mommy."

So I'll see you on Tuesday! If you're Canadian, happy Thanksgiving!

And hey, rather than leave you here with not much of anything, why don't you link up to your best post from this week (or this month, whatever)? Then we can spend the weekend visiting one another. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can You Say Random?!

I feel as though I've done a lot of "writer" posting lately and not a whole lot of "Tyler" posting. Really, the "writer" stuff is still me, my junk, and my life. But it's more deep thinking stuff - more often - than what my meagre little brain is used to. And sometimes a girl just needs to tell somebody what she's up to!

Did I mention we found a new church? Maybe I failed to even mention we were looking. Oops! It was a great fit from the very first Sunday we attended: the pastor was great, the kids loved Sunday school, we felt welcomed. Once we decided it would be our new home church, I emailed about getting involved with the women's ministry leadership team. We went for lunch to get to know each other and made it official. One of the best things I've discovered is this: I have finally learned how to survive without being the leader! And you know what? I kinda like not having all that responsibility.

We have a cool program in the public schools here called "Logos" (the Word) that offers a Christian education within the public school. Love it! Anyway, we've got 3 of 'em populating the program right now, and will be adding a fourth in two years, so I felt it was important to get involved. I'm going to spend the year learning the ropes so that next year I can be the Logos Rep for our school. I'm not 100% sure what all that entails, but I do know there's one Logos meeting and one school/parent council meeting each month.

Last week I had a strange attack of loneliness. I was very weepy about it. (I'm sure it didn't help that it was my "cranky week.") I'm still feeling lonely this week, but realized the source of the problem. It's not that we don't really have any couple friends yet (we do, but it's all still new). It's not that we aren't in a life group yet (we are, finally, but we won't start meeting until after Haiti). It's not starting over at a new church. It's not seeing the ministry I left behind growing beautifully. It's not the fact that two friends are now working full-time and no longer available for my housecleaning phone calls (and by the way, how am I ever going to get any housework done without them?!).

The problem is me. Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about "me, me, me" and what I need/want/deserve/wish for. I forgot about the "Why am I here?" "What can I do to honour God here?" "Who can I bless or encourage?" "Who needs me to reach out to them?" Knowing that there's a problem is the first step... Now, if I can only get over myself and focus on being a blessing! (I suspect that this is where the deep, true, long-lasting, spend every waking moment together friendships are found.)

What else? Oh, I started doing Zumba (pronounced zoom-bah) a few weeks ago! Super fun and sweaty exercise. The only problem is that Zumba is the night before karate. By the time Thursday rolls around, I'm limping and moaning as my muscles creak and my bones crack. It's really quite pathetic!

I'm almost afraid to say this (lest I jinx it, except that I don't believe in such things), but I finally seem to be losing some weight. It's slow. Like, 8 pounds in 12 weeks slow. But I progressed down enough that I now have 2 pairs of jeans to choose from. Thank goodness, because my one fat pair is beginning to wear out! I credit my success (let's use that term very loosely) to changed thinking, and I credit that to Lysa TerKeurst's Made to Crave. I promise to give you a really scoopy post about the book in December once it's primed for release. If you have any sort of food issues at all, you better go ahead and put the book on your wishlist. It's that good! (And no, it is NOT a diet book. Not at all.)

One last thing. Did I tell you that I am going to be speaking later this month?! Yes, I speak every day all day, but this is for an audience with a purpose! I'll be doing a breakout workshop on Mommy, why are you Angry? at the Freshwind conference for women. Can you believe it?! I feel like such a grown up!

I feel better now. How about you? No? Sorry. If you made it this far, though, I thank you. Really, it means a lot to be able to just talk. So hey - what's going on in your world these days?

By the way, I know I should link you to a fun Zumba video, info about Lysa's new book, the conference I'll be at, and more. But I'm feeling kinda lazy today. I know you'll google them if you really want to know. Right? That's just how comfortable I am with you. It's a compliment. Just like it's a compliment when I don't clean the toothpaste out of the bathroom sink before you come for a visit. It's a sign of affection. Mkay? ;)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

there was a boy

there was a boy
with sandy hair
and a smile that hinted
at mischief in the air

he ran full speed
he played full boar
he went to bed crying
for more, more, more

his mother laughed
and chased and sighed
she hoped that soon
he'd mellow inside

and then one day
the boy turned three
did his energy wane?
well, we will see

my son you bring
this Momma such joy
and I'm so glad
you're my LAST boy! ;)

* A much-belated third birthday poem, inspired by the busy birthday boy, Malakai.

Monday, October 4, 2010

What is Love? (week two of the Good Fruit series)

Week One

As I typed the title of this post, I heard that "classic" song from the movie Night at the Roxbury in my head, complete with pumping bass and head-bopping side-to-side. What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more. Woh-e-oh oh-e-oh-oh oh-e-oh-oh... The funny thing is, I think that song about sums it up! Love doesn't hurt anyone.

These past couple weeks, I've been praying that God will teach me something new about love for this series. As always, He was faithful to answer. And as usual, not in the way I was hoping for. I had planned on Him showing me new passages in the Bible about love, giving me new understanding and revelation. But God knows how I really learn my lessons, so He gave a week full of practical application - one opportunity after another - in addition to many more that did not get posted - to be loving (in spite of my natural inclination to, witchy).

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3
So I began putting it all together in my head:

I can:
- speak in tongues
- be a prophet
- have great faith
- give generously
- be a martyr
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

But if I:
- am not patient and kind
- am envious, boastful, or proud
- am rude and self-seeking
- am easily angered
- keep track of wrongs
- delight in evil
- don't rejoice in truth
- do not protect, trust, or hope
- do not persevere
- fail
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)

Then I:
- am basically an annoying banging noise
- am nothing
- will gain nothing
(back to verses 1-3)

My track record is running at about 50-50. When the extraordinary (and obvious) challenges crop up I find that I am able to be loving to those around me.  But in the day-to-day ordinary stuff (for example, 3 out of 4 children being horrifically cranky and painfully slow at getting ready this morning), I am a clanging cymbal.

I have a lot to learn about love. And it makes me wonder, is it even possible to exhibit the other fruits of the Spirit without love? I mean, aren't they (the fruits) all really just the facets of love Paul describes in I Corinthians? Do you think the fruits are listed in this order on purpose?

Do you see why I've been having trouble coming up with a coherent post here?! My brain, it is a-whirring!

What is love? Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more...