Friday, July 9, 2010

Humility of Helplessness

Since Sunday, Isaac has been lying in the same recliner, with the same fever, and the same fits of coughing which redden his face and leave him fighting to catch a breath.  
I feel helpless to help him. 
He reads the expression on my face...I read the expression on his. 
He feels helpless too.  

Crying and scared, the girls call out to me from their beds.  Through sounds of whimpering and sniffing they share, "We can't sleep, Mommy.  We are so afraid."  Patting their heads, I say a quick prayer and tell them that God is with them every moment; therefore, they don't need to be afraid.   "But, we keep having scary thoughts that won't go away."  
I feel helpless to help them.
"What if we have bad dreams after we fall asleep?" 
They feel helpless too.

Eyes red with fatigue and body sore with exhaustion, David exhales. I snuggle up next to him and wrap my arms around his chest. "It's just been a crazy, busy week.  Sometimes it just seems impossible to get everything at work done on time."   
I feel helpless to help him.
He kisses me softly on the forehead, sighing again. 
He feels helpless too.

I pause, my head tucked neatly in my hands...thoughts aimlessly spinning and racing through my mind.  Then, like a gentle rain, giving refreshment to the wilted flowers, I feel HIS words raining down upon me, giving refreshment and nourishment to my soul.
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  (2 Corinthians 12:9)
I slowly walk into the room where Isaac lies sleeping peacefully, free of coughing fits and gasping for air for a time.  Feeling his forehead, I whisper softly,  

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, Isaac.  
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

I make my way to the girls room.  Their pillows still damp with remnants of tears, their bodies curled up in little, tight balls; I cover them.  Softly, I whisper, 

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, girls.  
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

"I crawl into bed and turn towards David.  In the quietness of the room, I hear him breathing deeply, another days work has passed.  Another days problems have passed too. Reaching out, I gently touch his hand and whisper softly, 

"HIS grace is sufficient for you too, David. 
HIS power is made perfect in your weakness."

I roll over, close my eyes, and meditate on HIS words once more....  
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
One last thought comes to mind... 
Thank you, LORD, for my helplessness!

"Only in the humility of helplessness will we discover the sufficiency of His presence." Charles Stanley

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Failure

We experienced a joyous moment in our home yesterday.  Several weeks ago, Eliana noticed her tooth was slightly loose.  Finally, after weeks and weeks of wiggling the tooth, it was loose enough to be pulled.  I gingerly tied a string to it, and with a quick snap of my wrist, out it flew.  Simple!

Before bed, Eliana sat inspecting her tooth for quite awhile, then gently tucked it underneath of her pillow, hoping that by morning her tooth would be replaced with a wonderful surprise...a one dollar bill!  After praying, I kissed her upon her forehead and watched as her hand slid up underneath of her pillow to touch the tooth one last time before she drifted off to sleep. 

When Ellie woke up this morning, she ran into the room where I stood, "The tooth fairy forgot to come last night,"  she disappointingly said, as she held up the baggie containing her tooth for me to see.   I felt terrible!

The truth is, my children have a horrible tooth fairy!  I have thought many times that she should probably be fired.  Here is a partial list of how the tooth fairy at our house has failed miserably at her job over the last several years:

    1.   Often times she doesn't show up...too busy with other things I guess.

    2.   When she does show up, she makes such a racket that the children are roused to a semi-state of wakefulness, opening their eyes to look around as the tooth fairy tries to become statuesque in the dark so as not to be noticed. 

    3.   A few times, she has even carelessly left the retrieved tooth lying upon the kitchen table, only to be found eventually by the children. 

    4.   She often times has no money and has to "borrow" a buck from one of the children until pay day. 

    5.   The tooth fairy is not always able to find the tooth, so she just leaves it there, along with the one dollar bill.  (Imagine Isaac's confusion and surprise at finding both the tooth and the one dollar bill under his pillow.)

Yep!  I think if I were my children, I would fire that awful tooth fairy!  She may be great at other things, but obviously collecting teeth is not one of them.  

I apologized to Ellie for the tooth fairies negligence, hugged her, handed her fifty cents (which is all I could find), and reminded her of how much I love her.  Ellie paused for a moment and then with words overflowing with grace she said, "It's okay that YOU forgot mommy.  I know you love me.  And, this just means that I get to look at my tooth a little longer.  Everybody forgets things."  

Even as I rewrite her words, tears begin to well up in my eyes.  I am reminded of all of the times that I have been harsh with my children when they haven't performed to my standards, or when they are slow to understand what I am asking of them.  And, yet Ellie's response was so different than mine.  She was so quick to forgive, so quick to overlook my faults, and so quick to bring encouragement instead of criticism.  

I am certain that God was smiling down upon Ellie as she responded so graciously to the forgetful tooth fairy.  After all, Ellie's response reflected the very heart of God towards us, HIS children.  Psalm 145:8-9 gives us a small glimpse of the gracious heart which God has towards us.  It brings me so much encouragement to read it...
"The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works." 
I am thankful that Ellie was so gracious towards the forgetful, unreliable tooth fairy; but most of all, I am so thankful for God's amazing grace towards me as HIS child.  To end, I would love to share a quote from Charles Spurgeon about the amazing grace of God.  I pray it will forever resonate within my heart, and within yours as well. 
"The bridge of grace will bear your weight, brother. Thousands of big sinners have gone across that bridge, yea, tens of thousands have gone over it. Some have been the chief of sinners and some have come at the very last of their days but the arch has never yielded beneath their weight. I will go with them trusting to the same support. It will bear me over as it has for them."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Bright, Green, Mysteriously Floating Balloon

Avidan's eyes lit up as the man handed him the bright, green balloon, followed by the smile.  He lifted his head back to look up at the green balloon which was brushing effortlessly across the ceiling.  A look of amazement followed on Avi's face, "How is it possible that the balloon is staying up there and not falling back to the ground?"  I could almost hear him thinking it.  Even at his young age, he knew that something extraordinary was happening

Never turning his gaze and attention away from the bright, green balloon, Avidan gave a quick tug to the balloon's string.  Immediately the balloon responded, darting towards him, but only for a moment, when at last it gently floated back up, nestling itself safely against the ceiling.  Avidan's face, still reacting in amazement and awe.
"Isn't that neat, Buddy?  The balloon floats doesn't it?"  He glanced at me for a moment, shook his head with eager agreement, and then quickly turned his attention back to the bright, green balloon still swishing back and forth against the ceiling.  With that, Avi again tugged at the balloon string to watch the bright, green balloon travel up and down in the space between himself and the ceiling.  

This went on for about an hour, over and over the same sequence of events.  Avidan,  tugging on the balloon string to force the bright, green balloon to dart towards him as he yanked, and watching the balloon as it made it's journey back up to touch the ceiling.  Every time, with a sweet look of amazement and awe written in his big, round eyes, raised eyebrows, and the sweet countenance of his wide-mouthed smile.

Later that evening, after tucking Avi into bed for the night, I walked over to the bright, green balloon.  Following Avi's example, I grabbed tightly to the string dangling beneath it.  I then gave the balloon's string a quick, but firm tug, watched the balloon dart towards me for a moment, and then, watched as the bright, green balloon gently floated up to nestle itself safely against the ceiling.

I couldn't help but smile as I tilted my head back to look at the bright, green balloon.  And, I couldn't help but whisper...
"Lord, help me to forever remain amazed and in awe
of YOU,
just as my sweet child has in this
bright, green, mysteriously floating balloon." 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't Let Go of the Reigns

As the horse keeper worked, saddling up the horses, attaching the bridles, and securing a bit into each horses mouth, he occasionally blurted out a short series of instructions to us.  "Stay on the path at all times."   His words seemed stern and cold.  "Keep a safe distance between your horse and the one in front of you."  But yet, his words carried with them a fatherly gentleness that was difficult to understand at the time.

After waiting anxiously for him to complete the task of preparing the horses to be ridden, the horse keeper helped me to mount up onto the horse that had been chosen for me.  Looking me squarely in the eyes as he handed me the reigns, the keeper said, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!"

Giving me a quick nod with his hat, he moved on to help my brother, Tom,  mount upon the horse he would be riding.  After getting my brother properly positioned into his saddle,  the keeper once again echoed the words, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!" 

The horse keeper methodically continued down the line, helping each person waiting to mount upon a horse, always ending with the same stern phrase, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!"

Walking to the front of the line, the horse keeper mounted his own horse, turned to look at us one last time, and then gave a quick kick to the horses side, signaling to the horse that it was time to move.  In succession, each of the other riders did the same, until the horses were each moving steadily behind the horse in front of it.

Tom was directly in front of me, and I could see that his horse had a bit of a stubborn streak.  Coupled with my brother's young age and lack of maturity and experience in horseback riding, the difficult to manage horse was proving to be quite a handful for Tom.  Each time the horse tried to veer off of the path, he would simply try to "shout" it into submission.  However, his shouts were falling onto deaf ears, because the horse didn't seem to notice or care what Tom was shouting.  The horse just continued to do whatever it pleased, relishing in the new found freedom being granted by my poor, helpless, inexperienced brother.

I am not really sure what happened next.  I don't know if Tom just lost his concentration for a moment, or if the quick movement of the horse thrusting it's head down to eat some grass alongside the path was responsible, but the reigns dropped down off of the horses neck, falling near the mouth of the horse.  My brother frantically tried to bend over to reach the reigns, but they were simply out reach of his short, childlike arms.  As the horse started to move slowly to a new section of grass to eat, the reigns which should have been securely in my brother's hands, became caught under one of the horses hooves.  Without any warning, the horse reared up onto it's back legs, gave a loud whinny, and set off fast as lightening with my brother holding on for dear life.  Tom was crying out for help while trying to hold onto the mane of the horse to keep from falling off.

It only took the horse keeper a few seconds to recognize the commotion that was taking place behind him.  He darted over, jumped off of his horse, and lunged at the flinging reigns.  Immediately, after the reigns were securely in the keeper's hand, the horse quieted and seemed unafraid.  He simply thrust his head back down to resume his eating as if nothing had ever happened. 

The horse keeper looked at Tom, still sitting on top of  his horse, obviously shaken by the events that had just occurred, and sternly said to him, "I thought I told you that whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns."

But in the words that followed, the sternness was replaced by a fatherly gentleness, "You could have been killed.  I am so glad you are alright."

As I think back upon that day, watching my brother struggling to grab hold of the reigns of that wild horse, I am freshly reminded of God's care for us as His children and our daily need for Him.  

It was horrifying as a child to watch my brother clinging to that wild horse, starring at the reigns dangling on the ground beneath the horses hooves.  I wish he would have listened, would have clung tightly to them.  The horse keeper's words brought protection, wisdom, "Whatever you do, don't let go of the reigns!" 

I am encouraged...
                           I am stirred...
                                               I am committed...
"Whatever I do, I will not let go of the reigns."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Love Killer

 Today, I am being prompted to grow in my marriage through

It was one year ago when it happened.  I had been anticipating it's arrival for weeks, maybe even months.  Finally, when it arrived I couldn't wait to see what was in store for was our anniversary after-all, and David had known for several weeks about the weekend date I had arranged.  I was certain that he would sweep me off of my feet once again and "romance" me like he used to in our earlier years.  

I dropped the children off at a friends house, drove back home, and then patiently (not-so patiently is more accurate) waited for David to come home from work.  All the while, dreaming about what my wonderful husband must have planned to make our weekend together really special and memorable.  Like a small child, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Christmas, I waited, looked at my watch, waited some more, looked out the window, and waited some more.  Finally, I could see David's car heading towards our driveway.  I jumped up from my seat and eagerly ran out to greet him.  

After giving David a little time to unwind after working all day, I asked, "So, what are we going to do tonight?"  The response came as quite a shock to me, "I don't know, what do you want to do?"

I didn't even know what to say.  I was so sure that David had planned a great weekend date for the two of us!  So I inquired a little more, "Are we going out to eat somewhere?"  Again, the response came as quite a shock, "I don't know, I haven't really thought about it."  

Immediately, I could feel the anger bubbling up inside of a carbonated beverage that's been shaken up, just waiting for the lid to be loosened so that it can explode.  That pretty well sums up how I felt right at that moment.  I just couldn't believe that David hadn't planned anything for our anniversary, and I was going to make my feelings very clear.  The cold shoulder always works well for that. 

Would you believe that I was so angry that I barely said a handful of words to my husband most of the weekend.  He of course felt the tension between us, so he just kind of kept his distance from me, which only intensified the anger that I felt.  "He should be pursuing me and making me feel loved and appreciated!  I mean, I went to all of the hard work of scheduling the date, the least he could do is plan something nice for us to do together!" 

Thankfully, right before we went to pick up our children, we had a discussion, mutually pouring out our thoughts and disappointments with one another...and eventually confessing our sins, seeking forgiveness, and most of all, regretting our stupidity in wasting an entire weekend being rude and angry towards one another.  

I take full responsibility for our wonderfully anticipated weekend date ending up as a miserable and lonely  "no-show" instead.  I had been extremely SELFISH!  I had placed several expectations upon David that were just outright unfair.  
In the moment, I felt that David had a responsibility to sweep me off of my feet...meanwhile my sin of selfishness was being deliberately swept under the rug by my pride.
To be really honest, I had lost sight of the fact that my contentment must come from Christ alone, and not from the actions of my husband. 
Looking back, I am amazed that I didn't even bother to consider the fact that I could have planned a wonderfully romantic weekend date for David.  Hmmm, I wonder why that never crossed my mind?  I will give you a clue.  It begins with MY SELF.  Yep, I was being selfish.  I wanted, what I wanted, when I wanted it because I had failed to remember that only God can complete me!  

My guess, is that you can relate in some way to this story; after all, we are more alike than different when it comes to our sins and struggles in life.  Maybe you just feel unappreciated and unloved by your husband and it is beginning to wear you down emotionally.  You may wonder why your response really matters anyway.  Well, I would appeal to you that your response does matter.  The Bible has much to say on the topic of selfishness.  Read the following verses, if you will.   
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth." 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves." Philippians 2:3
 "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil." James 3-13-15
"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere." James 3:16-17
Wow!  I am so humbled.  

I remember hearing at a marriage conference several years ago that "selfishness kills love".  Oh, how true and wise those words are, causing my heart to sting with regret and pain at my own selfishness within me.  Sadly, I am certain that it is not the last time that my selfishness will rear it's ugly head in my marriage to David, because I am a sinner...and as long as I am on this earth, I always will be.  

But, I know that God's desire would be for me to seek to find my contentment in Christ alone, through learning to love HIM more.  Only Jesus has the power to change my selfish heart and give me true contentment within my life and marriage.

I would like to end with two quotes that really spoke to me this morning.  I hope they will speak to you as well. 

"When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now."  C.S. Lewis
"You say, "If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied." You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled."  Charles Spurgeon

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cultivating Tender Thoughts

Today, as I was folding my husband's clothing, I started thinking about how amazing it is that God has allowed David and I to share our lives together.  In our 15 years of marriage, we have experienced great joys and bitter sorrows, pleasant memories and difficult trials, the birth of children and the loss of jobs.  And, I wouldn't change a thing!

I am equally amazed that God chose a man like David, who is so patient and kind despite my crazy antics, strong opinions, and burning passions, which would drive most people crazy. He is unbelievably patient and kind even when I have refused to allow him to use the toilet, simply because I had just finished cleaning it and I didn't want it to get dirty again.  Or, when out of the blue I have decided to boycott a company like Kelloggs because they are using genetically modified ingredients in the food they produce.  My wonderful husband simply smiled and ate the organic, less-tasty cereal I purchased instead.  I could learn a lot from David's example.

Recently, I  read a book entitled, "When Sinners Say I Do", by Dave Harvey.  I would highly recommend it to married couples, couples who are engaged, and even to those who are single, but hope to marry in the future.  It really drives home the fact that a marriage consists of two sinners, both in need of a Savior and that our husbands are hand-picked to bring out our sinful attitudes, behaviors, and thoughts as a way of sanctifying us...conforming us more and more to the image of Christ. This is certainly true in my marriage.  God has used my marriage to David to make me more painfully aware of my sins,and more humbly aware of my Savior

I found a wonderful quote by Elisabeth Elliot which stirs me as a wife to grow in grace towards my husband, and I hope it will stir you as well:
"The consciousness that we are alike in our need of redemption is a liberating one.  For there will be times when you find yourself accusing, criticizing, resenting...But you will find yourself disarmed utterly, and your accusing spirit transformed into loving forgiveness the moment you remember that you did, in fact marry only a sinner, and so did heIt's grace you both love, accept, and forgive that sinner as you yourself expect to be loved, accepted, and forgiven.  You know that 'all have sinned and come short of the glory of God,' and this includes your husband who comes short, also, of some of the glories you expected to find in him.  Come to terms with this once and for all and then walk beside him as 'heirs together of the grace of life.'"
As I thought about my marriage today, I realized that there are many areas in which God would desire for me to grow as a wife, as a way of bringing honor to David and glory to God.  So, over the next several days, I would like to share a few of them with you.

My prayer is that each of you would meditate on these truths as well, and by doing so, that your faith would be strengthened, that your love towards your husband would be rekindled, and that ultimately your marriage would be a beautiful reflection of "God's amazing grace".

And, as always, I would love to hear about the changes that God is bringing about within your marriage or within your heart as a woman as you read, reflect, and apply His word. 

Today, I am being prompted by the Lord to grow in my marriage through,
1.  By "taking captive" any critical thoughts I have towards my husband, and replacing them with true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable thoughts towards him.  
One of the best ways I can think of to put this truth into action is by praying for David throughout the day.  Thanking God for the hard-working, loving husband He has given me and by choosing to let go of the unrealistic exceptions that I unfairly place on him.  Ahh, I am ashamed to admit that often times, I have placed selfish expectations upon David, simply because I am overly absorbed with my own desires, wants, and needs;  stirring up selfishness and pride, and a whole host of other nasty things which I am not proud of.  But as I try and look towards the needs of David first, willingly letting go of the unfair expectations I have placed upon him, and as I seek to grow in serving him instead of expecting to be served, my thoughts also become more tender towards David and more pleasing to the Lord. 
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."  Philippians 4:8
2.  By remembering all of the things that attracted me to David when we were first married.
As a wife and mom, there are so many thoughts that consume my days... Where did the kids hide the bread  I was planning to use for breakfast?  Did the dog eat my "to do" list again this week?  Does trying to walk through the house with a screaming child hanging from my leg count as exercise?  And these thoughts all occur within the first 10 minutes of jumping  (or should I say crawling) out of bed. 

I find that at times I am so consumed by the other thoughts spinning around in my head, that I rarely take time to think of David throughout the day.  The following quote from Shirley Rice is a wonderful reminder of the necessity of taking time to intentionally cultivate tender thoughts towards my husband.  
"By the grace of God, I want you to start changing your thought pattern.  Tomorrow morning, get your eyes off the toaster or the baby bottles long enough to look at him.  Don't you see the way his coat fits his shoulders?  Look at his hands.  Do you remember when just to Look at his strong hands made your heart life.  Well, LOOK at him and remember.  Then, loose your tongue and tell him you love him."
I am so encouraged!  Today, I am going to spend time praying for David, asking God to help me find ways of serving him, and intentionally taking the time to remember all of the things that I love so dearly about the amazing man God gave me.

I hope that you are encouraged as well,  to cultivate loving tender thoughts towards your husband, ask God to rid your mind of any critical thoughts you may have against him, and pray that God would enable you to sincerely give thanks for the wonderful and precious gift HE has given you.

Oh, and don't forget to greet your hubby when he walks through the door by wrapping your arms lovingly around him, kissing him on the lips (even if the children are around), and telling him how much you love and appreciate him.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Mountainside Experience

The coolness of the evening breeze could be felt as Isaac and I walked, both of us enjoying our special time together.  Looking out over the sea of people and campsites surrounding us, I listened as Isaac talked about the great time he was having at the Creation Festival.  It was our last night before returning home, so I was hoping to make it a really special evening for my son.  Little did I know that God had a wonderful teaching moment in store for the two of us.   

High upon the mountainside was an overlook, revealing the the beautiful valley below.  I knew Isaac would love it, so I grabbed his tiny hand and slowly led the way to the base of the trail, walking along side of him.  We hadn't walked very far when it occurred to me that it was begging to get dark and we had no flashlight.  So, I picked up the pace in hopes of making it to the top and back down before the trail was lost in the darkness.  But Isaac's little 4 year old legs just could not keep up with the quick pace I had set.  Frequently, we had to stop to give his legs time to rest and recuperate before attempting to climb higher up the trail.   

About half-way up the mountainside, the path was no longer visible to our eyes.  Darkness had set in, leaving only an occasional flickering of lights from the movement of other people's flashlights way up in the distance.  Although I didn't want to show it, I was scared.  We could not see anything surrounding us at all!  It was pitch black.

I was so afraid that I would lead my child to the cliffs' edge without even realizing it, or that Isaac would stumble on the rocky path in front of him, leaving him injured.  "Ahhh!  What was I thinking by bringing my young son up a mountain without a flashlight to lead us?"

I stopped moving and stood almost paralyzed on the mountainside, silently praying for help.  I could sense that Isaac was becoming afraid as well.  I squeezed his hand a little tighter, pulled him a little closer toward my body, and assured him that everything was going to be alright.  I am not quite sure how long the two of us were standing upon that dark mountainside alone, but it seemed like forever.  

Then out of the blue, two girls walked up behind us and noticed us standing there.  Without asking any questions, one of them walked over next to me and handed me her flashlight.  In that instant, a peace swept over me. Shining the light in front of us, I was overwhelmed with thankfulness for God's protection over us.

The path could clearly be seen now, exposing the unsteady ground, the cliffs, and the other dangers that seemed to lurk in the darkness.  I once again grabbed Isaac's hand and we slowly, but confidently made our way to the overlook at the top of the mountainside.  We stood for several moments on the platform admiring the beauty of the scene playing out below us as several hundreds of thousands of candles were being lit, followed by a chorus of voices, singing their praises to God.  It was a sight to behold.

On the walk back down the steep incline, with flashlight in hand, we had a wonderful conversation about how our experience of trying to walk up the steep incline of the mountainside without a flashlight, is very much like trying to live our lives in spiritual darkness without Christ.  It was very frightening not to have any light marking the path as we walked up the steep rocky path.  In the same way, without Jesus we are simply wandering around in the darkness, uncertain of what is ahead in our lives.
"I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness."  John 12:46
"The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous run to it, and are safe." Proverbs 18:10
We then thought about all of the obstacles that we had to overcome to make it to the top of the mountain, such as the rocks and unlevel ground and the cliffs sitting upon the trails shoulder.  The flashlight clearly lit up the path in front of us; therefore, we didn't need to fear the things meant to cause us to stumble, for they were exposed by the light and could be avoided.
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me."  Psalm 138:7
 And, we talked about how the flashlight is like the Bible, providing us with direction and wisdom.  Without the flashlight, we could have easily made a life-threatening step.  So it is without the Bible.
 "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105
 Although I wouldn't wish to repeat our journey up the steep mountain without a light directing us, I am thankful that God choose to use my foolishness in forgetting my flashlight to once again lovingly remind me and my precious son of our need for Him, in every circumstance, every day, at every moment in of our lives.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cream-e-sew-er-y...Go Ahead and Laugh, It's Good For You

As I was driving to my mom's house for a visit, I could hear the girls carrying on a lively conversation in the backseat of the van.  

Have you ever has the opportunity to listen to 7 and 8 year old giggly girls carrying on a conversation?  It is very entertaining!

They fluttered from one topic to the next every few minutes; one minute talking about serious matters the next just being silly.  But no matter which topic they were discussing, it was obvious that they were genuinely enjoying each others company, which blessed me. 

We had made it to about the half-way point on our trip, when we passed a cemetery.

Ellie immediately noticed it and shouted out to Amaris, "AMARIS LOOK!  IT'S A SEWER!" 

Then, very calmly and confidently Amaris offered her correction, "That is not a sewer, Ellie.  A sewer is for pee and poo, but that place is for dead people.  It is a creamery."

I could hardy contain myself.  It was so funny, I almost peed my pants.  

Well, if I have a choice of being buried at the sewer or at the creamery, I think I will choose the second option...I know my spirit will be in heaven so it shouldn't really matter, but I am only thinking of all of you.  I mean, it would sure stink for you to have to visit me at the sewer.  

Have a wonderful Sunday and remember to laugh a little today!
"A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."  Proverbs 17:22

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Thank You Lord

Crusty layers of spaghetti sauce cover Avidan's body, 
with a sigh and a wet washcloth in hand, 
I gently scrub my little boy hoping that eventually, he won't be tinted red.  

The dishes in the sink are overflowing, remnants of the morning's breakfast offering a discouraging reminder that I had forgotten to run the dishwasher, 
and now have double the work to do after the children are in bed.  

Clothing sits piled high upon my couch, 
waiting to be sorted, folded, and packed for camp.  
I haven't even completed half of the packing list yet.   

On the table is my checkbook.  
The one I haven't balanced in several months. 

Weeds have taken over my garden and are beginning to suffocate my plants.  
The beauty of our landscaping is quickly becoming an eyesore. 

My Bible, sits undisturbed on the coffee table.  
 My mind fights the desire to pick it up.  
"I have too much to do already, I can't take time to read right now."

I break down, tears flowing from my eyes.
Weeping, I cry out...
"I can't do it all, I am exhausted."

A still small voice responds...
"You are right, Satin.  
You can't do it all.  
You need a Savior.
My grace is sufficient for you, 
for my power is made perfect in weakness."

I pause for a moment in silence, reflecting.
I slowly walk over, pick up my Bible and open it.
Under my breath I whisper...

As I read the words on the page in front of me, 
I break down again.
This time with laughter,
rejoicing in God's gentle reminder to me, 
a sinner with a wonderful Savior.

"...I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me.
... I delight in weaknesses, 
in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Humbly, I bow my head and close my eyes,
uttering the only words that seem appropriate...
"Thank you, Lord."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Postpartum Depression: My Journey

Shortly after the birth of Eliana, sadness monopolized my days and guilt pressed down heavily upon me even as I slept.  Fear sat at my doorstep waiting for an opportunity to attack my weakening frame;  my mind eventually surrendering out of sheer exhaustion.  Daily, I grew more and more fragile and afraid.  My battle to survive was being fought in silence and shame.  Postpartum depression had arrived uninvited, stripping me of months of joy.  Months that, even today seem dark and painful to recall.
Do not fear,

As Eliana lay peacefully in my arms, my mind was tormented by thoughts, awful thoughts and accompanying pictures that I couldn't shake away.  I, was having thoughts of cutting myself, slitting my wrists, with no one there to rescue me. 

for I am with you;  

In desperation, I remember turning on the TV, trying to replace the agonizing pictures so vividly playing out in my mind.  But every image on the screen only served as a reminder of the razor sitting in the shower, waiting for me and quietly whispering my name.  At times, I would catch myself holding the razor in my hand, paralyzed for a few moments until I could force my fingers to release their grip.  

Do not anxiously look about you,
Even when I would tightly close my eyes and cover my tear-drenched face with my hands, the thoughts remained.  When my children would jump into my lap, throwing their loving arms around my neck, the thoughts continued to pull me far from their embrace. The thoughts which I battled daily left me feeling hopeless, the anxiety left me struggling to breathe.  Being alone with my children caused unbridled fear, "What if I harm them?"

For I am your God.

 At night, I would silently cry myself to sleep, often times too weak to even utter a prayer for help. One night, I remember trying to write down several Bible verses, so desirous of encouragement and hope.  My mind and body were so weakened by the thoughts tormenting me day and night, all I could do was crumple up the paper filled with life-giving words and hold it tightly in my hands throughout the night. Many a night I held that crumpled piece of paper...occasionally crying out, "Help me, please help me, Lord!" 

I will strengthen you,

Finally, my "secret" was too much to bear alone.  So reluctantly, I told David and a few of my closest friends, but still the battle within my mind continued to rage on...until I could admit that I needed help to get well. 

surely I will help you,

Walking into the emergency room was the scariest thing I have ever done.  With irrational thoughts spinning round my head, palms sweating, heart pounding, my body shaking under the stress and fear of the unknown...yet, God was with me!  His presence was so clearly felt next to me as I sat in that cold, sterile bed in the ER.  He gave me hope...He reminded me that everything was going to be alright.
surely I will uphold you 

The truth is, God was with me all along.  In the midst of every sleepless night, HE WAS THERE. While battling every thought of hurting myself, HE WAS THERE.  In the midst of every anxiety attack, HE WAS THERE, upholding me with His righteous right hand. 

with My righteous right hand.

And, God is with you too, no matter what you are battling.  He may not immediately remove the trial you are facing, but He is faithful to remain an "ever present help in trouble."  Whether it be postpartum depression like me, or the loss of a loved one, or the uncertainty of your future, you are not alone; HE IS THERE!  Trust Him to help you, to strengthen you, to place within you a living hope anchoring you to Jesus Christ.   

Isaiah 41:10

HE IS THERE, right there next to you.  So close that maybe you can feel the warmth of his breath on your shoulder.  HE IS THERE, ready to uphold you with His righteous right hand. 
"Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved."  Psalm 55:12


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Colorful Candy Confetti

The sound of giggling from behind the closed bedroom door was a dead give-away...the girls (Amaris, Eliana, and their cousin Maggie) were up to something.  

"Girls", I called, "Is everything alright in there?"  My words brought with them a quiet hush to the laughter. 

Finally, one of the girls bravely responded to my inquiry, "Yes mommy, everything is fine.  We are just having a party."  

At that moment I should have swung the door wide open to expose the intent of the girls, but instead I decided to walk away for a few moments to complete a few chores.   

Again, the laughter was heard.  This time louder, along with a few high-pitched squeals and some strange sound that I could not easily identify.  Standing with my ear to the door, I listened, intently trying to figure out what the odd sound coming from behind the bedroom door was. 

Without warning, I swung open the bedroom door.  The girls turned quickly, facing me like a deer caught in the headlights, wide-eyed and shocked to see me standing there.  

Sternly I asked, "WHAT ARE YOU GIRLS UP TO?"

"We are having a party, mom!"

Two empty bottles lay empty on the floor next to the girls.  I walked over, picked up the empty containers to see for myself what this threesome had been up to.  


"We used them.  Sprinkles make nice confetti."  

For the first time since entering the room, I allowed my eyes to scan the perimeter.  Nearly every flat surface in the bedroom was covered with brightly colored candy sprinkles. Upon closer inspection, I realized that sprinkles were even scattered throughout the freshly made beds.  



Silence was the only reply...


I am not sure I even gave them a chance to respond.  I walked out of the room, angrily told David what had transpired, and proceeded to collect brooms and dustpans for the three little "party-goers" to clean-up with.

As the girls swept, shook out the sheets, and wiped down the dresser, I sat observing the threesome for a few moments.  The laughter which once filled the room was a distant memory, the smiles had been replaced with a countenance of sadness and shame, and the party which had once rained down "colorful candy confetti" had ended abruptly. 

I am such a party-pooper!  I mean, was there really any harm in celebrating with "candy confetti"?  Of course not!  But, I didn't want to clean-up after the party had ended and the threesome had zonked out for the night.  

The bottom line...I was angry that the girls had "inconvenienced" ME, disrupted MY peaceful afternoon, and used ALL of MY sprinkles...I mean I use them like once a year for cupcakes, now what would I use?   

Isn't it true that as Christians, we can be tempted to allow our circumstances to rob us of our joy in the LORD?  At times, it seems that the mundane tasks of life overwhelm us as Christians, causing us to grumble and complain rather than rejoicing in the fact that we are SAVED BY GRACE.  

But, God's desire for us would be that we would overflow with joy, rooted in the knowledge that as Christians we have been forgiven of our sins, accepted into Christ's family, and we have been given eternal life. 

Maybe you dislike your job, and it takes every bit of energy you can muster in the morning to even get out of bed.  Maybe you have a child who is difficult to manage and feel defeated before you even say hello in the morning.  

God desires to fill you with un-speakable joy in the midst of the circumstances which you find yourself.  Not just an outward, pretend kind of happiness, but an internal you hope and assurance for what ever your future holds and producing perseverance .   

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."  James 1:2-4
Today, I was thinking back to the afternoon when the girls threw the "colorful candy confetti" all over the bedroom.  I remember the countenances of the threesome changing, smiles turning to frowns, shoulders slumping under the weight of disappointment, and the boisterous giggling that once echoed throughout the house ceasing to echo anymore. 

May we be different as Christians...

May we look towards Christ in the midst of our trials... finding joy!  May the rooms of our heart always be filled with "colorful candy confetti" raining down, bringing laughter and smiles from deep within us.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Attentive Ears

This morning, I had a conversation with my daughter, Amaris.  Well actually, she did all of the talking, I just listened.  Ummm...maybe I wasn't quite listening either.  The truth is, I was feeling mentally exhausted and felt entitled to "check out" for a few moments.  

As Amaris spoke, I recall gently smiling, giving an occasional shake of my head in agreement with whatever she was saying, and every now and then I would utter a few random phrases such as "Really", "Uh, Huh", or "That's great, Amaris",  so I "appeared" engaged and interested in what she was saying. 

After several minutes, it seemed that Amaris became fully aware of my "fake listening" when she stopped, sighed, and with disappointment in her voice stated, "You are not even listening, Mommy".  Initially, I tried to console her..."Oh honey, of course I was listening".   Come on...Are you kidding?...I knew full well that I wasn't listening!  Sadly, Amaris' words had fallen on deaf ears.

Not only was I too selfishness and prideful to admit that I wasn't really listening to a word she was saying; I also showed a complete lack of love and respect for my daughter.  In that moment, my actions spoke volumes to her... 

"Mommy cares more about herself than she does about anyone else, including me.

And, do you know what?  She's right!

I am so grieved to have treated my precious daughter whom I love so deeply in such a rude manner.  I mean, I personally know how it feels to try and have a conversation with someone who you know is not really paying attention to you as you feels simply awful!  

You know how it feels too...

I am so thankful that God is not like me! 
"And this is the confidence which we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him." 1 John 5:14-15
"The Lord has heard my supplication, The Lord receives my prayer."  Psalm 6:9 
"The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry."  Psalm 34:15
"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them." Psalm 145:18-19
It is so humbling to think that there has never been a word spoken which has escaped God's ears.  And in our lifetimes, He will never ignore a single prayer uttered, a single word whispered, a single praise shouted, or a single burden cried-out by us, His children. 

Reading the scriptures above all should stir our should stir my heart, to talk to God with more and more fervency and devotion.  After all, we are His children and He delights in hearing the sound of our voices, because He loves us!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Feast like a Flamingo

I woke up this morning thinking about flamingos.  (I have no idea why flamingos would come to mind at 6:30 in the mind just works in mysterious ways, I guess.) 

Aren't flamingos beautiful creatures?  Did you know that the female only lays and cares for one egg at a time.  And unlike most birds, which regurgitate food in order to feed their offspring, both male and female flamingos actually secrete a milk-like substance that provides the young bird with the proper nourishment until it's beak has fully developed, at which point it can begin to search for food independently. 

Isn't it equally amazing that a flamingo can stand so still and lifeless on one leg while the other leg is tucked neatly underneath it during periods of sleep or rest?  And, a flamingo has the ability to fly up to 35 miles per hour.  Crazy!!  Can you imagine flying with such an awkwardly long neck sticking out in front of you and two long spindly legs trailing behind?  If I were a flamingo, I think I would be tempted to keep both legs safely on the ground!

Then, there is the unique way in which a flamingo eats.  I mean, have you ever thought about the fact that a flamingo eats with it's head positioned upside-down and backwards?  Yup!  Watch next time you see one.  A feasting flamingo appears to be standing on it's head!  Quite funny, actually!  The flamingo takes water, mud, and food from shallow shorelines while "standing on it's head", gently it rocks it's head in a back and forth motion to filter out all of the "yucky" stuff, and sucks the nutrients down with it's vacuum like tongue. Simply incredible!

But, in my opinion, the most amazing characteristic of a flamingo, is that a flamingo's diet is responsible for the beautiful pinkish salmon color of it's feathers.  If foods rich in carntenoid pigments (like the pigments of carrots) are eaten regularly, the flamingo's feathers become more vibrant and colorfully pinkish.  On the other hand, the fewer the carntenoid rich foods being eaten on a regular basis, the paler the coloring of the feathers, often times resulting in birds that appear virtually "colorless".  This "lack of coloring" is often an indication that the flamingo is a very sick or malnourished bird.  Only God can create such an incredible characteristic!  Simply amazing!

It may appear that as humans, we share no commonalities with this unique bird.  However, I think that as Christians we are quite similar to the flamingo.  I mean think about it...  

As Christians, we require a steady diet of God's word to remain healthy and well-nourished spiritually.  Without spending time in the Bible, we begin to become almost colorless...our consciences may become dull, our ability to hear from the Lord decreases, and we begin to hunger and thirst for things that may cause further weakening to our already sick bodies.  

But, what makes the Bible so special?  

I mean, how does the Word of God really keep us healthy spiritually?  

How does a steady diet rich in God's Word provide Christians with the nourishment needed to stay vibrant and colorful throughout our lives?  

I am glad you asked! :)

1.  A steady diet rich in God's Word protects us from sin:
 "I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."  Psalm 119:11
2.  A steady diet rich in God's word equips us for every good work:
 "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
3.  A steady diet rich in God's word encourages us with the truth:
"For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."  Romans 15:4
4.  A steady diet rich in God's word provides wisdom in daily life:
  "Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
         For they are ever mine.
   I have more insight than all my teachers,
         For Your testimonies are my meditation.
  I understand more than the aged,
         Because I have observed Your precepts."
  Psalm 119:98-100
5.  A steady diet rich in God's word reminds us of Good News of Jesus Christ:
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." II Corinthians 5:21
 A flamingo needs to eat foods rich in carntenoids to produce bright and beautiful salmon colored feathers.  Without it, the feathers will turn nearly "colorless".

As Christians, we need a steady diet rich in God's Word to produce a strong and enduring faith in Christ...
                 I guess we are not so different from the flamingo after all. 

My prayer is that everyone reading will begin to hunger and thirst for righteousness, through feasting upon the Word of God...and like the flamingo, that all of us would would be visibly changed as a result. 
"Now what is food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the Word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the Word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water passes through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering it over and applying it to our hearts." George Mueller