Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In His Hands

Last Saturday, Reagan was playing with the boys after breakfast and just enjoying some time at home. I love the weekends when we, as a family, just enjoy togetherness and memory building. Laughter fills all the nook and crannies of the day and my heart brims over with satisfied joy.

Strangely, I heard a panicked cry coming from the lips of our youngest and I found him in the arms of his father lifted into the air. Reagan has loved picking up the boys and "flying" them much like a toy plane. The older boys, who are now much too big, love the game; Kendall, however, did not. He cried out in fear and panic. Reagan calmly soothed his cries, "It's okay Buddy. Daddy has you. See my hands are holding you. You are okay. I have you." After a few seconds- I am sure they felt as hours to Kendall- he calmed and relaxed some. I think he much prefers games that his feet stay on the ground.

I became overwhelmed by the thought that I react in the same way with my Father. I find myself in an uncomfortable situation and my fear swells to the point of breaking. The whole time the Father speaks love to my anxiety, "I am here child. I am holding you. See my hands are holding you." These are moments when God is stretching my faith- growing me to a deeper maturity- but, He never let's me go. I, like Kendall, would prefer lessons while on the ground of all that I find secure, but then I would miss the view from the heights. I don't want the safe, easy road... I just want to feel His hands constantly wrapping me in the security that is beyond all others.

"...For God has said,
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5b NLT)

Maybe you feel vulnerable...High in the air in a situation- trust Him. His hands have you and He will never let you go!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cereal on a Plate

Kendall has been so sick the past few days. He is tired, weak, and very emotional- any little thing and the tears fall fresh and heavy on his cheeks. Yesterday, in the midst of the day he requested some cereal to eat. I had no issue with that because he has not eaten well and cereal as well as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been the most appealing to him. However, he wanted me to put his cereal on a plate and add milk. What? I offered to put the cereal on the plate- with no milk- or put it all in a bowl. He cried for several minutes as I refused to put his cereal with milk on his favorite baseball plate. He just couldn't understand why he couldn't have what he wanted, the way he wanted.... Finally, he caved and went to the table to eat his cereal with milk that was waiting in a BOWL.

I am so like that with God. Times that I just want what I want- even if it doesn't make sense and it isn't what is best for me. There have been times when I am pleading and crying for my way in something and I believe God is lovingly refusing my pleas. Why? My requests make about as much sense as cereal on a plate- it is not what is best for me. Most of the times what I am requesting is a "quick fix" that would temporarily easy my discomfort, but it will never truly fulfill the need.

"This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14 NLT)

Most of us are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, but when you read the whole passage we can see that God is promising that His plans are for their good. However, He is also refusing their requests for a "quick fix" with an immediate release to go back to their homeland. In the end, God was and has continued to be faithful to Israel. He has not failed them- or me- or you. He has committed to work out His plans for our best outcome- even if it means standing firm refusing our quick fix solution. Why? He loves us too much to give us less than His best.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dressed for the Day

Lately, Kendall has been very faithful to bring me his clothes each day to wear. I chuckle at this because, as a homeschool family, we often do school in our pajamas or in play clothes. However, this does not seem to fit Kendall's personality. Often I have just set down with my coffee and Bible when I see him bringing me his choice of clothes for the day ahead. He needs to feel dressed and prepared for whatever we might to that day.

I have thought of this often lately. How would God want me to dress or prepare for my day. Then I thought of the following passage of scriptures:

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." (Ephesians 6:12-18 NLT)

I think God wants me to study His word and put on His faithful armor to protect me from the evil one that longs to distract, mislead, and harm us. Each day I must make an effort to make sure I am prepared for all that may come about that day and it begins by spending time in the word, praying my heart to the Father and listening for His response. This enables the Holy Spirit to be at work guiding, leading, and enabling me to live a God-called life beyond circumstances.

I would never let us leave the house if we weren't dressed for public, but how many times have I left without being spiritually dressed for the day? Father, forgive me....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fearful Moments

Friday, the boys and I went on a field trip to a local area museum for the day. We had a wonderful time and just enjoyed having a day to learn by seeing and touching history in person. I planned to take them to lunch and let them pick the restaurant. Not long after arriving at their chosen place to eat, I realized that Kendall needed a diaper change after being out for so long. When I went into the only area with a diaper changing station, I was not extremely impressed. The facilities were not stellar, but realizing that going out to the car was not an option since the older boys were already eating, I just had to make the best of it. As soon as I placed Kendall on the changing area, he went into a panic. Apparently, the table did not make him feel secure. He began crying and clinging to anything he could grab and kept saying, "I fall! I fall!" I tried to change him as quickly as I could, but he was so tense and rigid that I had such a hard time. I tried to soothe him with comforting words and reassurance, but he would not relax until the moment I picked him back up in my arms. I felt like I had been in a battle! Truth is, the diaper change took longer because he was so frightened.

The more I have thought about that experience, I think I have reacted the same way with God at times. I find myself in a new situation and my fears take over. Then, in my anxiety I become stiff, rigid and unable to be shaped or molded into God's plan for me. Just as I kept trying to bring comfort and reassurance to Kendall while changing him, I think God tries to bring us comfort as well. Too often my growing fear reflects a lack of trust in my Father for the new challenge ahead of me. Ultimately, the process takes so much longer because of that lack of trust.

"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. For the life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment. Consider the ravens, that they sow not, neither reap; which have no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them: of how much more value are ye than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life? If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass in the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more shall he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: but your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. Yet seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:22-32 ASV)

Father, through the Holy Spirit within, please help my faith and trust of You grow. I want to honor You with a quiet trust when the events of my life seem overwhelming for You have promised to work all trials for my good and benefit. Father, Your strength is enough to carry me through all I will ever face. Help me to know- taste and see- that Your plans are always best for my life. I love you Father!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Yesterday, in the midst of schoolwork, I noticed that Kendall had gone missing. Plus, he was extremely quiet- these are the primary prerequisites for a parent check on him. As I began my search, I noticed that the refrigerator door was slightly ajar. Upon a closer look, I saw two small, bare feet barely sticking out of the opening. Quickly, I grabbed my camera and took some photos of my beloved youngest sitting in the cold, darkness drinking a yogurt that he was afraid I would not let him have.

One part of me couldn't help but chuckle at the site before me. Yet, I saw a much sadder reflection in his actions- my own. How many times have I sat hidden and cold in the darkness of sin. Fully knowing that my actions were not what was noble, right, and true.... and yet, so enchanted by the sin that so easily entangles, I stayed there in the dark. Sin is a lonely, cold place and there is always fear of being found out lurking in the anxious mind of the one trying to stay in the dark.

When I opened the refrigerator, Kendall was a mix of emotions, but primarily he was sad at my finding him and angry at me. How dare I interrupt his yogurt time! Isn't that the reaction of many when "found out"? I know when I felt discovered, my heart wanted to lash out in anger at the one who had brought light to my darkness. Truthfully, the anger came from my own sadness of having believed the lies if the evil one.
He calmed once I reassured him that he could have the yogurt, but I just wanted him to eat it at the table and ask permission next time. Happily, he responded quickly and went straight to the table to await his snack. I had no problem with him having the yogurt- it was late in the morning and I have no doubt that he was hungry. He choose a healthy snack at that! My issue was that he did it the wrong way- without my blessing.  He was seeking to fulfill his needs on his own. I think that is God's response to us as well. Too often, it's not that God doesn't want us to have what we are seeking, he just wants us to do it the right way. To seek Him first and to allow it to be outpouring of His great love for us. When we seek after Him, the blessing is no longer hidden in the darkness, but a cause of celebrating at His banquet table.

"Let me encourage you to continue to wait with faith. God may not perform a miracle, but He is trustworthy to touch you and make you whole where there used to be a hole" Lisa Whelchel ("Once a Day Everyday")

"God's smile is not for the healthy hiker who boasts he made the journey alone. It is, instead, for the crippled leper who begs God for a back on which to ride." Max Lucado ("Grace for the Moment")

My friend, if you are in the cold darkness of a sin that has you entangled, reach and grasp the scarred hand of the Savior- He wants to free you. He wants to give you life, healing and joy! Let Him draw you out into the light of His all encompassing love!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Stinky" Situations

On Saturday, Kendall made a "diaper" and because I change about a million in a week (slight exaggeration- possibly), I waited to see if Reagan would do it. Sure enough- if you wait long enough- Reagan graciously offered to change Kendall. In all fairness, Reagan helps a lot around our house and I am so thankful for his love and support. As Reagan was leading Kendall back to his room for a change, he said, "C'mon Buddy. Let's go take care of that diaper. " Kendall said,"Happy Birthday Daddy!!" Then, he starts singing "Happy Birthday" to Reagan. I just cracked up! Only a two year old would think a dirty diaper would be a good "gift" or a reason to celebrate.

Later, I read this quote by Corrie Ten Boom which said, "Every experience God gives us... is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see." Wow! Sit on that for a minute.

Truth is, some experiences just aren't pleasant and feel rather stinky- just like Kendall's diaper. Those type experiences are often the ones I just want God to remove from my life. I think if we are all honest we would like a happy, easy and non-complicated life. One free of hurts, disappointments, challenges, and heartache. Corrie Ten Boom helped hide persecuted Jews during World War 2 and was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Conditions were so bad that lice and fleas were everywhere. Corrie's sister, Betsy, thanked God for the fleas reminding Corrie that they were to thank God in all circumstances. Weeks later, Betsy learned that the severe outbreak of fleas and lice kept the soldiers from coming in the barracks which gave them tremendous freedom and protection to share the gospel and read scriptures.

The hard things in our life that we would rather God remove to make our life easier- may be God's protection in disguise. He is constantly preparing us for the next step in our future. Why? His great love knows all the inner workings of our heart and mind. He is working all circumstances to bring out the best in us to use us. Never think that trials are anything more than His loving training.

When was the last time you faced a "stinky" situation? Did you rejoice and look for the lesson in the trial? Or, did you beg and plead for God to remove it from your path? Sometimes, you just have to lean on your trust and faith in an ever-faithful God.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Wet Mistake

On Wednesday night, both Reagan and I had commitments up at our church.  I had a meeting at 5:30 and he had praise team practice at 6:30.  So, we determined that I would go to my meeting as soon as he arrived home and then he could bring the kids with him to church at 6:30 when my meeting would be over and I could come home with the younger two kids.  (Caleb has LIT on Wednesday nights and would be staying up at the church with Dad.)

So, earlier in the day I had changed Kendall's clothes after his nap and determined that his diaper wasn't very wet and that I would wait and change him before leaving to go to my meeting.  MISTAKE #1

Reagan was running late getting off work and arrived home at 5:40 pm- yikes!  Since I was watching the clock and slightly stressed about arriving late at my meeting, I  totally forgot about changing Kendall's diaper.  I also forgot to mention it to Reagan when we did a rushed "kid trade off".  MISTAKE #2

Upon the completion of my meeting, I went to retrieve the boys from the childcare area and discovered that Kendall was very wet.  He kept asking me to change his diaper, but looking around I did not find his diaperbag.  MISTAKE # 3

So, I told him to hang on and that we were leaving very soon.  All I needed to do was catch our Children's Minster to discuss a couple of things and we would be on our way and I could remedy the wet diaper situation.  MISTAKE # 4

Upon finding the Children's Minster, we began discussing some issues and things that needed to be done when I very warm sensation began spreading across my abdomen where I had Kendall on my hip.  Yep, the diaper did not hold and Kendall didn't either..... Upon seeing a look of horror cross my face, the Children's Minister asked if I was okay.  I bumbled through an explanation to see him laughing and offering to help any way he could  "No thanks."  I said politely, "I am headed home to get a shower ASAP!". 

As I buckled Kendall into his carseat, he looked at me and said, "I sorry Mommy."  I melted.  The truth is that it isn't his fault.... a comedy of errors turned into a big, wet mess, but it wasn't his fault.   He just did what came naturally and even asked for my help beforehand.   In that moment, I felt such tender love for my little boy despite the situation.

Two thorough scrubbings later, we sat in clean pajamas reading another book when the Children's Minister called.  He had a question for me and then, still chuckling, he asked if I had been able to clean up okay.... yep, I assured him that we were in a much better state than when he had seen us last at church. Ugh!  You can't make this stuff up!  He was still laughing when I hung up the phone!

Perhaps you needed a chuckle today- I hope you enjoyed this real life Mommy moment. You know, life is messy. Mistakes happen. But, I would rather live with all the messiness than not truly live.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Life Tapestry

Hanging in our bedroom is a quilt- a tapestry of colors- greens, browns, blues, reds and creams.  It was made by the beautiful, hard-worn, hands of Reagan's grandmother.  I love this quilt and all the shades and colors within it.  Someone could look at it and find imperfections- there are some- but, I just see, wonder, and marvel at the love that stitched it together. 

It's like my life- your life- times and events stitched together in love by the Father.  Patches of heartache and patches of unmistakable joy.  Both are needed to make the most exquisite life quilt for we can't truly appreciate the beauty of the mountaintop highs unless we have walked through the dark canopy of the valleys.  God stitches each event perfectly for each life and is always there.... in the stitches... holding it all together.

"I wait quietly before my God, for my hope is in him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor come from God alone.  He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.  O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:5-8 NLT

"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible."  Corrie ten Boom

"God has a will for your life, Christ has a word for your life, and the Holy Spirit has a way for your life."  Beth Moore

No matter where you are in the life quilt being sewn together by the Father, Lord, and Savior of your life- you are not alone.  God is with you every moment stitching together a beautiful life and it is held together by the love life-blood of His very Son.  You are treasured.  You are loved.  Your life is a beautiful tapestry of a love story that began before you drew your first breath!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Disappointment (and the Texas Rangers)

If you know our family very well at all, you know that we love our Texas Rangers baseball!  Reagan grew up watching and listening to the Rangers play and following all the different players.  I also grew up watching the Rangers with my family and my grandfather was a die-hard fan.  He and my grandmother would go to bed each night listening to the game on their clock radio.  We love our Rangers!! 

The past two years have been good for the Rangers- two trips to the games "Holy Grail" aka. the World Series.  It seemed as though we were floating on a baseball high as the reigning  American League Champs and on top of our division for almost the entire season.  Sadly, over the last two weeks, things began to crumble and they fell to the Oakland A's to see a 3rd division championship slip through their fingers.  Then, just 2 days later they lost to the Orioles and our season ended.... just like that. 

For most Rangers fans, this has been heartbreaking.  It just wasn't suppose to end like this.  We had already envisioned a return to the big stage of baseball to catch that allusive World Series Title. We could almost taste all the fall ball excitement and games.  How did it all go so wrong so fast?  When did the foundation begin to crumble? 

I know that this is just baseball.... but, I think we have all been there in life.  Times when suddenly it seems that the whole world has fallen a part and you just can't seem to grasp where things went wrong.  Questions, hurt, disappointment, and anger abound as the process of healing begins.  We have been there- many different situations and different times in our life- and it is a hard journey.  While the steps are challenging and many times stretch us spiritually- I have had some of the greatest spiritual growth as a result of those journeys. 

God is always with us in those difficult times and He is loving and growing us through the process into a deeper maturity and faith in Him.  Barbara Johnson once said, "The difference between winning and losing is how we choose to react to disappointment."  (Once a Day, Everyday)  There is such a profound truth in that statement.  In the middle of our discouragement, do we turn to the Father and seek after Him?  I know my human nature tends to want to share my heartache and hurt with others who are sympathetic to my situation.  There is nothing wrong with that, but I need to make sure that I am spending more time in prayer to my Father over it.  The hard truth is that my friends can be sympathetic and pray, but only God can initiate change- change in me and change for me.  Plus, God is always there for us..... at any moment when you are at your weakest,  God is there.  "On the darkest day of your life, God is still in charge.  Take comfort in that."  said Marie T. Freeman.  (Once a Day, Everyday)

 "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:19 NLT

"Trust in the Lord and do good.  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.  Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart's desires.  Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him and he will help you." Psalm 37:3-5 NLT

While in the fog of disappointment, seek after Him- God- Christ and let Him guide you through the unknowns ahead trusting that He is capable of meeting every need you have along the way.  When you focus on Him, it becomes easier to take the next few feeble steps knowing He is there to catch you and as our eyes focus on Him our heart conforms to His.  Suddenly, wants and wishes of the past are not our heart's desire because we have conformed to His heart and perspective and we see that God has more for us.  My friend, if you are stuck in the heavy fog of a life disappointment, and you are seeking - ever so desperately- for direction, for comfort, for guidance..... look no farther than the nail scarred hand reaching out for yours. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Brotherly Love

Brothers..... they either love or torture each other to death.  Growing up, I remember my brother and I wrestling, fighting, or annoying each other often.  I also remember watching out for each other, playing games together, and sharing secrets of hopes and dreams.   Now, as a parent I witness those relationships in my boys and I pray that they will mature into lifelong friendships. 

Recently, I have noticed a subtle change in the way my boys have responded to each other.  Kindness, thoughtfulness, and gentleness seem to be finding their way into the hearts of my young men.   In the past two months, Caleb has offered to buy his brothers new Hot Wheel cars so they play together.  One of the times, the cashier was so surprised by Caleb's actions that he paid for the items and told Caleb to save his money.  Caleb has always been helpful with Kendall, but yesterday he took his youngest brother outside to play baseball with him.  Now, Kendall is two and playing baseball means that he throws or hits the ball while you chase it down repeatedly..... and yet, Caleb found joy in it.

Carson had an opportunity recently to take over Caleb's room and have a room to himself for a time.  I thought he would jump on such a proposal, but instead his heart was concerned about Caleb's feelings.  He chose to continue sharing a room with Kendall because he would rather stay where he was.  Carson has also started taking more interest in Kendall and his needs.  Many times lately he has rushed to Kendall's side out of concern for his brother. He loves to read to Kendall and I have found both of them together many times just cuddling and reading together.

Kendall loves his brothers.... they are about as good as sliced bread in his eyes.  On Thursdays, the older two boys and Reagan take karate.  I often keep Kendall at home.  When they enter into the house, Kendall runs to the door screaming, "Bubbies!!!"  He just adores them and they adore him.

My friends, I was reminded of the scripture from 2 Peter 1:4-8.

"And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:4-8 NLT)

I think God wants us to love each other with the kind of gentle, brotherly love that I have begun to witness in my home recently. A love that puts the needs of others ahead of yourself. A love that reaches out when someone is in need and agrees to walk with you down that hard journey. It is love that requires effort, energy, and time. It is love that starts with Christ and our relationship with Him. My boys are not perfect- have no doubt about that-but, on days that they are giving themselves over to the mind and attitude of Christ, I see Him in them. Isn't that the point of love anyway- to see the Savior etched all through it?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Young Girl

A precious, bright-eyed eight year old girl with chestnut brown hair sat quietly towards the back of the small white framed country church.  Her childhood had been good as it was filled with loving Christian parents and an adventurous baby brother.  She often witnessed her parents living the faith that they professed as much as they discussed it in their home.  The love they shared was special.... rare. 

That night, in the white framed church, the girl was a guest visiting for a revival meeting that was taking place.  The speaker spoke in a heavy Scottish dialect and the girl was enchanted by the musical tones and reflections.  It sounded like music to her ears.  Slowly through the message that was a tug- pull-strange feeling stirring inside her.... it felt so much deeper than she could describe.  A sadness, a realization of just how ugly many of her actions, words, and thoughts have been.  As the invitation song began to play, her fingers clung tightly to the back of the pew in front of her.  Everything in her wanted to run-- run to the front of that small church and cry for relief from the internal battle waging inside her.  Fear arose.  She didn't know these faces and what would her mother and father think?  She clung tight to the pew lest she lose her resolve. 

As the service concluded, she wanted to leave as quickly as possible to get home and ask her mother about the unexpected heartache within.  Silence in anxious thoughts filled the short drive home and as she prepared for bed.  Finally, as she couldn't contain the questions any longer, she met her mother in the kitchen saying, "I think God is speaking to my heart...."  and tears fell from both sets of eyes.  The mother spent a great deal of time that evening speaking the words of salvation to her precious daughter.  The next night with both her parents beside her the young girl she spoke of her sinful will to the Savior and asked Him to take over her life and give her a new purpose and meaning.  He did.

Years passed as the girl matured and grew- physically and spiritually.  She entered college and new opportunities presented themselves.  Was her faith something she wanted to carry into adulthood?  She saw her parents adult faith- was that what she wanted?  Influences abounded pulling her to question, but in the end she fell at the feet of her Savior.  She fell in love with Him- passionately in love with the one who had died for her and she has carried no regrets.  His love has carried her through countless trials, fears, failures, and challenges.  His love has taught her to love.  His love has transformed her view of the world, her values, her longings, and her hopes. 

The relationship that started when she was a child that grew into an all encompassing devotion in college has transformed this life..... my life.  You see, I can't help but cry out about what God has done for me!  This is my story, but what about yours?  How did God capture your heart?  My friend, sometimes we just need to remember where we were to see most clearly where we are.