Monday, November 26, 2012

Celebrating the Season

Thanksgiving has come and gone and we are in full gear as Christmas rapidly approaches.  We are replacing our pumpkins, fall leaves, and Indian corn with evergreen, pine cones and our Advent wreath.  The children decorated their little tree with ornaments and Legos and talked about how in a week's time, we would bring home our big tree.  My dear husband, with the help of some of the older kids put up the outside lights.  I have been finding our table linens, towels and stockings.  Oh no!  The stockings!  Today, I was very sorry to find that someone had accidentally put a sack of potatoes in with one of our Christmas boxes.  No one knows how this happened as the potatoes are usually kept on a shelf far away from our decorations.  As a result, the rotten potatoes leaked onto some of the stockings.  I was able to clean many of them, but four were completely ruined.  Mom's and Dad's and two of the kids'.  We decided that we would replace the kids', but Mom and Dad will just wait on theirs.  It's all just stuff, of course, but what a nasty surprise.  The experience definitely added a new twist to the old coal in the stockings idea.  Now if the kids misbehave, I can threaten with rotten potatoes! 

I definitely do not have a perfect home, but I was blessed once again as I watched my children getting the house ready to celebrate the season.  They were singing along with the Christmas carols we had playing and were helping each other with the decorating.  We took a car ride to see the annual "Festival of Lights".  We have Christmas parties coming up and I will be singing in "Messiah" soon.  We will be baking and shopping and wrapping and signing our Christmas cards.  There is much to do and there are so many ways we can get ready to celebrate, but before we get too carried away, I want to stop and reflect on Who we are really celebrating.  We read our weekly Advent Scriptures and sing about Him in our church and at home, but are we truly celebrating the One who willingly came to this Earth, knowing that a Cross was in His future?  This season that we celebrate is beautiful, but it's only beautiful when we celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ every day of our lives.  My Savior and my Lord loves me with a love that I will never fully comprehend.  Take all of the other things away, the lights, the gifts, the stockings and He is still there.  May our prayer at this time of year and everyday be "Oh, come to my heart, Lord Jesus.  There is room in my heart for Thee." 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Empty Spaces

Whenever there is an empty space in our home, no matter where it is, a natural phenomenon occurs.  Various things begin to migrate to that empty space.  It usually doesn't take very long either.  I'll finally empty the coffee table to dust it, but when I turn my back, here comes a happy little three year old with all of his cars lined up for the "big race".  The dining room table will be emptied and cleaned directly after breakfast, only to fill up again hours before lunch.  Crayons, play dough, toys, school papers.  It's quite an interesting array of items to say the least.  The kitchen counters are a notorious place for miscellaneous things to appear.  Besides dirty dishes that I've run out of room in the sink for, we tend to allow unread mail, advertisements, more school papers, art work, stray Legos and other toys to make a home there.  An empty stool will attract clutter.  A box will arrive from the post office, but will instantly become another place to store things. The washing machine and even the dog's crate can be magnets for clutter.   The children will clean their rooms and within minutes the nice empty floor will return to its original state.  My room is no different.  It tends to be the place I throw things in a hurry.  Now that we have a real bed frame again, I can shove that junk right under the bed.   So, wherever there is empty space in my house, I can pretty much bet that it won't stay that way for long.

So, I wonder if it's that way with my heart.  What kinds of things clutter my heart?  Sin?  Definitely.  Some sins are quite noticeable and others have a way of creeping in and setting up house without my knowing it.  Soon, I become so used to the "little messes" and the disorganization that I don't realize that I need to do a little house cleaning.  When God makes me aware of these cluttered areas, He lovingly leads me to repentance.  It's not comfortable at first to go through this process of washing, but when I come out on the other side, it's a wonderful feeling to be clean again and to start with a clean space. 

 Sometimes, my empty spaces need to be filled.  Filled with more time spent with Him.  Times when I'm just quiet before the Lord.  Times when I'm not uttering any prayers.  Just resting in Him. 

I need to fill those empty spaces with more time with each of my children.  That may mean a one on one date with a child, sitting down to read yet another book, hugging, or simply looking into their eyes and telling them that I love them, that I think they are pretty special. 

When there's an empty space, I need to make time for my husband.  After the Lord, he should be next.  How often I forget that.  When I feel like I'm being pulled in eight different directions, when I'm filling those sippy cups with water, making sure the kids are fed or are in relatively clean clothes, settling another argument, or assigning jobs, too many times, I forget that my husband needs to know that he is loved.  It can be a gentle touch, a kiss, a cup of tea or just some time alone, but I need to keep some space open for him. 

And, when those spaces need to stay empty of clutter, I still need to remember that God is there.  No space is really empty.  I know that when people practice yoga, they are told to empty their minds, but God isn't asking us to do that.  He says, "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things"(Phil.4:8).  We are to fill our minds with Truth, with good things, with Him.  So, in a home, an empty space may look pretty, but it can so very quickly become cluttered with junk and disarray.  The same thing happens in our hearts.  Instead of trying to keep our hearts empty of the junk, fill it with Him.  He will clean us from the inside out and our hearts will be beautiful places that He creates.

Take, me, make me
All You want me to be
That's all I'm asking, all I'm asking

Welcome to this heart of mine
I've buried under prideful vines
Grown to hide the mess I've made
Inside of me
Come decorate, Lord
Open up the creaking door
And walk upon the dusty floor
Scrape away the guilty stains
Until no sin or shame remain
Spread Your love upon the walls
And occupy the empty halls
Until the man I am has faded
No more doors are barricaded

Come inside this heart of mine
It's not my own
Make it home
Come and take this heart and make it
All Your own
Welcome home

Take a seat, pull up a chair
Forgive me for the disrepair
And the souvenirs from floor to ceiling
Gathered on my search for meaning
Every closet's filled with clutter
Messes yet to be discovered
I'm overwhelmed, I understand
I can't make this place all that You can

I took the space that You placed in me
Redecorated in shades of greed
And I made sure every door stayed locked
Every window blocked, and still You knocked

Take me, make me
All You want me to be
That's all I'm asking, all I'm asking

(Shaun Groves/Welcome Home)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mayberry, My Hometown

I'm an Ohio gal.  I was born and raised here.  I left the state when I went to college, married a sailor after graduation and moved across the country for our first five years, but I've been back for the last 13 years.  It's home to me, except for one thing.  There's another place that tugs on my heartstrings.  It's been home to me all of my life.  I don't know how to make people understand it.   Sometimes I don't quite understand it myself.  This place has been so real to me that I will find myself thinking about it or even dreaming about it. The strangest things will remind me of this place.  A piece of apple pie, fried chicken, a glass of lemonade.  Noticing a jay walker cross the street, exploring in a cave, helping a hurt bird or even sitting on the front porch.  You see, this place I speak of is Mayberry, my hometown.

I know.  I wasn't born there.  I never met the people and well, it doesn't really exist.  So, how can it be my hometown?  That's easy.  It's Mayberry.  Those that claim it as their hometown understand what I mean. We appreciate not only the great things about the show, but we try to remember to slow down.  We remember to say hello to the people we meet.  We remember to help our neighbor.  We remember that good character is a valuable thing.  I've heard it said that Mayberry is a state of mind, so even though it's not a real place, we go there every time we remember these important things.   For the outsiders, it's an imaginary town that was created for "The Andy Griffith Show" in the 1960's.  To those same people, it was a cute little show, but they don't understand the humor, the valuable lessons and frankly, they're too busy to care.

Since I was young, my parents shared their love for the show with us kids.  They didn't have to try very hard.  We naturally loved it right along with them.  The show had ended only a few short years before I was born, but we watched reruns.  We watched the show all of the time.  When VCR's came out, my Dad thought it would be a good idea to record the shows off of television.  He didn't know how long we'd be able to see it on T.V., so he wanted to be sure we always had them.  We whistled the theme song and recited our favorite lines to each other.  When my Dad walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, he and I were even saying the lines to each other then.    From time to time, I would meet someone that liked the show, too, but it wasn't until I was in high school that I found out what a following this show had.  I was tickled to find out that other people knew the lines as well as we did.  We learned about "The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club",(TAGSRWC), and how there were local chapters all over the world.  When we met other kindred spirits we instantly became "old friends."  I keep in touch with one of these friends on a regular basis who also happens to be a home school mom as well.

 After graduation from college, my folks and I visited Mt.Airy, North Carolina.  This was Andy Griffith's real hometown and the place that Mayberry was modeled after.  On arrival, I felt like I had come home.  Yes, the town was somewhat different than what I saw on T.V.  Andy and Barney weren't there, of course and the store fronts weren't the same, but it did resemble Mayberry.  The people we met were very friendly.  We spent some time with a lovely older couple who owned a bed and breakfast.  Russell, the barber, welcomed us into his shop, taking a picture of us to go on his wall and taking the time to talk to us.  He had actually cut Andy Griffith's hair many years ago.  We grabbed a sandwich at Snappy Lunch.  We drove by Andy's old home.  We walked Main Street and enjoyed the slower pace of this friendly town.   We even drove up to "Mt.Pilot" or Pilot Mountain.  I never forgot that visit and years later, my husband and I took our first three children there with plans to return in the future.

All eight of our children watch this show with us now.  We are raising them with the same values that Andy taught Opie.  We talk to the kids about the importance of good character and discuss the times in the show when someone did not display that good character.  We play games like quoting a line while the others guess the episode or playing charades by acting out a scene from the show.  I've been known to whistle the theme song to calm a cranky baby.

I think of Mayberry often, but there are times when I think about it more.   Barney,(Don Knotts), passed away six years ago.  This year, Goober and one of the Darling's passed away.  And, just a few weeks ago, we said goodbye to Sheriff Taylor.  Naturally, I'm sad.  We don't have actors like these guys anymore.  In a way, I feel as if I lost some dear friends.  But, something else has come to mind as I talk about my other hometown.  I've realized how very important it is to make memories with those that are closest to us.  When I think about the family I grew up in, I know that we are different in many ways and we've all gone in various directions, but we have some very wonderful memories, thanks to a show that aired a long time ago.        

My children, like me, are going to look back one day to when we watched the show together.  Not everyone is going to make memories in the same way, but, we must make memories with our children.  The most important memories I want for my children are the times that we were in the Word of God, when we sang together, and when they saw Godly character being lived in their parents.  I want them to remember how much their Daddy loved their Mommy, sometimes catching them when they kissed. I want them to remember the walks we all took, the lightning bugs we caught, the adventures we experienced in good books.   All of these things, big and small, are memories that will build a foundation in their lives.  They will bring them joy.  They can share them with their own children.  God can also use these memories to get them through the hard times.  He has done that for me.  So, let's take a step back and remember what's important.  Our Creator, our spouse, our children, and our neighbor.  Thank the Lord for every breath we have.  And, make some great memories with these little ones.  It will make all the difference.

Well, now, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole,
We may not get a bite all day, but don't you rush away.

What a great place to rest your bones and mighty fine for skippin' stones,
You'll feel fresh as a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade. 

Whether it's hot, whether it's cool,
oh what a spot for whistlin' like a fool. 
What a fine day to take a stroll and wander by The Fishin' Hole, 
I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day. 
We'll have no need to call the roll when we get to The Fishin' Hole,
There'll be you, me, and Old Dog Trey, to doodle time away. 
If we don't hook a perch or bass, we'll cool our toes in dewy grass, 
Or else pull up a weed to chaw, and maybe set and jaw. 
Hangin' around, takin' our ease,
watchin' that hound a-scratchin' at his fleas. 
Come on, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole, I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day.

(Earle Hagen & Herbert W.Spencer/Everett Sloane)

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Stench of Sin

   Smells are very important to me.  I love the smell of candles and fresh flowers in the house.  I love the smell of laundry hanging on the line, a pot of coffee, cinnamon rolls in the oven.  I love the smell of my baby, even her stinky little toes.  I even remember the smell of my Grandma's aprons.  For the longest time after I was given her aprons, I refused to wash them for fear that I would forget her scent.  I loved the smell of my grandparents' farm.  In fact, I like the smell of farms in general.  Besides reminding me of Grandpa and Grandma's place, it's also a nice down-home kind of smell.  The smell of hay, clover, old barns, even animals is a comforting smell for me.  We live on a small farm, and we're surrounded by farmland. It's not only beautiful, but it smells like the country.

  Before our new neighbors planted their crops this spring, they were busy preparing the soil.  There was a lot of work that had to be done before the crops were sown like plowing and disking, but we were not prepared for the fertilizing stage of the process.  Now, like I've said, I like the smell of farms.  The smell from cow and horse farms does not bother me, but this was vastly different.  Our neighbor's father has a hog farm close by.  So, naturally, they decided to fertilize with hog manure.  It didn't take long for that horrid smell to find its way into our house.  We closed the windows, but as soon as we opened a door to walk outside, it quickly crept back into the house.  I didn't go outside unless I had to, but our poor children with animal chores had to endure it even longer.  Once when driving home, I found myself behind one of their manure filled trucks and it took everything within me to not lose my lunch.  Now, I'm not relating this experience to bad mouth my neighbors.  They are wonderful neighbors and fine Christians, but the smell reminded me of something else that should bother me more.

     Sin.  To God, sin is anything that separates us from Him. It has a stench that should turn our stomachs.  God hates sin.  It has an offensive odor.  When was the last time that I felt sick inside when I thought of sin?   I mean really sick.  It may be easy to feel that way for certain sins.  My heart breaks every time I think of the millions of unborn babies that have been murdered.  I am sad when people refuse to worship the Creator of the universe and then go out of their way to try and prove that He does not exist.  I see the evils of greed and those hungry for power.  I'm burdened when I hear of adultery and broken homes, but am I truly sick when I hear these things?  Do I lie awake at night praying for those around me, for our nation, for my family?  Am I sensitive to the smell of sin in my own life?  Does that smell make me want to run to the Lord and repent when I have wronged Him?  Perhaps, I am getting used to the smell.  When the neighbors were fertilizing for those few days, as bad as it was, we began to get used to it.  It was kind of like the "new normal".  When the rain came, the smell died down some, but it was still there.  Then, one day, the plow came and we realized that horrible stench was gone.  Maybe that's what it takes in our spiritual lives.  I think my heart could use a good plowing about now.  Oh, I know when I sin.  I do repent, but many times, I get so used to my sin that I don't go to God about it.  Yes, I belong to Him.  I'm a child of God, but as long as I'm in this temporary shell, I'm going to sin.  The question is, am I truly disgusted when I dishonor Him?  Do I understand that those little sins, those bad habits that I've developed grieve Him?  Those cutting remarks to my husband.  Flirting with an immoral thought.  Speaking in an impatient tone with a child.  Complaining about the laundry again.  Do I really want to love God with all of my heart?  Am I willing to have Him plow those areas in my life that I've grown accustomed to and to change my heart?   I want my life to be a life of sweet smelling service and devotion to Him.  I pray that God won't let me stay comfortable with the smell of unconfessed sin.  And, when I come to Him again and again, I will know His love and forgiveness and can share the knowledge of the Gospel with those around me.  That is the sweetest smell of all.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."  II Corinthians 2:14-15

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sunday Morning Adventures

We look forward to Sunday mornings. We enjoy going to church as a family and meeting with our other brothers and sisters in Christ. But, Sunday mornings are also adventures. Getting eight children ready for church and out the door is no small task and then, after we reach our destination, we have the experience of keeping all of them somewhat quiet during the service.

On a typical Sunday morning, I usually wake up early. Once in a while, I am the only one awake, but more often than not, the baby wakes or I hear Nathan, our 3 yr. old in the next room, banging his bed against the wall and singing, "Eei, Eei, Ooh" as loud as he possibly can. Mary, who shares the room with him, will often be awake, too, and I take them both out to the dining room where I begin to feed them breakfast. The dog will be whining by then, so I let her outside and prepare her breakfast as well. Next, I either put on the coffee or heat the water for tea and check the weather for the day.

It is very important to me that the hours before church are a time to prepare our hearts for worship, so I either turn on sacred music or a beautiful nature DVD that plays hymns. One by one, the other children begin to appear out of their rooms. Sometimes, I have to coax a few to get out of bed. Other times, I feel like a drill sergeant barking orders. Then,I either eat my breakfast, get myself dressed and ready to go, or I'm laying out clothes for the young children. By this time, I have to take a break and feed little Sarah and dress her and then, she plays on our bed or swings while the rest of us are scurrying around. There are mornings when she is higher maintenance and I spend more time with her, but she's getting easier.

I do try to have some things done on Saturday night, like picking out clothes, filling the diaper bags and checking the church bag for our hymnals, Bibles, crayons and paper, but often, I find that it doesn't get done, so that leads to added time on an already busy morning. There are also those Sunday mornings where I find myself grumbling about how Mom seems to be doing everything, but then, I remember that this is simply not true. The older kids really do help, even though we have to remind them of things and without my husband, we would be even later, not to mention that his fatherly authority really does go a long way! However, it is accurate to say that I do many things seen and unseen to make sure everyone gets out the door, often feeling as if my head is spinning at a rapid pace. Did everyone go to the bathroom? Did everyone eat? Is everyone dressed with shoes on? Most of the time, the children get dressed, but shoes are another story. There have been instances where we only find one shoe out of a pair. We've been known to blow a morning by looking for that "prodigal" shoe, but more often than not, we opt for the sporty look for the girls. Yep, tennis shoes with dresses. In the colder months, we add even more fun like coats, gloves and hats. This past winter, my in-laws purchased Angry Birds hats for the children and on one particular Sunday morning, when I opted to stay home with little Sarah, my husband and other children arrived at church, late, donning their new hats and the girls were wearing, you guessed it, tennis shoes. I heard from an inside source that it was a sight to behold.

Every so often, we actually leave on time, but the truth must be told. We are often late. We are greatly relieved on those mornings when the service gets started late, but that doesn't happen much. We do try to slip into a back row as quietly as we can, but really. How quiet can we be? I've been known to stay in the car with a sleeping baby for a while and let the rest of the family go into the service. That way, I miss the initial shock waves that I imagine are going through our dear congregation.

Once we are in the service, the next adventure begins. The older children are expected to follow along in the Bible, listen to the pastor and to help keep the little ones occupied. The little ones are allowed to color or play quietly with a small toy they've brought. The little girls like to color, look at books or play with a small horse or doll. The little boys will color or drive their cars. What could possibly go wrong with a couple of cars? Plenty! Our church does not have their own church building. We meet at a sportsman's club where we sit at chairs and long tables. No pews. No carpet. It's not too bad except when you put a couple of rambunctious little boys and their cars in there. For a couple of weeks in a row, the boys would drive their cars on the table in front of them. This is not always a quiet activity, but they are learning. I did entertain the thought of bringing their rug from home that looks like a road map to cover the table, but dismissed it as something that would draw attention to ourselves. When we aren't at a table, I draw a road on a blank piece of paper and the boys love to drive on Mommy's road.

And, then, there's the Sunday we discovered a little too late that they had brought another kind of car. Nathan was busy driving his car when all of a sudden, he pulled it back and let it go. Zoom! It took off with lightning speed all the way to the front of the church, passing several families on its way! Now, granted, our church is not very big, but still, this was quite a surprise. My daughter, Rachel and I watched the car careening to the front of the church, not knowing what to do and paralyzed by suppressed laughter. The next thing I know, Nathan developed a huge grin on his face, giggled and ran after it. I couldn't just run after him with the baby in my arms, so I sent Rachel to fetch our little guy and his mischievous car. Well, one time wasn't enough. When we had finally gained our composure and began listening to the pastor's message again, Nathan pulled back his car once more. We were so thankful that it was time for singing, but that afternoon, we purged the church bag of all cars that had the capability of disrupting the church service.

I do not have time to talk about the many mishaps with snacks in church,(we don't allow those anymore), the countless bathroom breaks, the sudden outbursts over a crayon or the many times I have had to leave the service to take care of a baby or toddler that is out of sorts. We are still learning and we take one Sunday at a time. No, our church does not have a nursery or separate classes for the children. They welcome all children to participate in the service, no matter what their age. We appreciate the love our pastor and church family has for these little ones. Even when there are interruptions, the children are loved and seen as blessings from God. Children can learn to worship alongside their parents. They are capable of learning how to be quiet. It can be a challenge at times. Children have different personalities. Some learn quickly and others take more time, but in the end it's worth the struggle. We have attended churches where the kids did not stay in the service. We understand how inviting that can be, but the Lord has shown us just how important it is to include them in our worship. These little ones that God has entrusted to us can learn so much by watching Mommy and Daddy pray, sing to God and yes, they can even absorb truths that the pastor is teaching. Jesus did not say, "let the little children come unto me, only if they are tucked away in a classroom, or only if they don't disrupt my worship experience." No, He said, "let the little children come unto me." Period. He loved children while He walked this earth. He says over and over again what a blessing they are. He has instructed us as parents to disciple them and to teach them. Yes, we may be home schooling them during the week, but we also need to worship with them in church. What a wonderful privilege it is to wake up on Sunday mornings, feed and clothe our family, drive them to church and worship our Creator together. I'll put up with a few out of control wind up cars and be thankful that we can worship with these precious children.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Other Side

There is a long covered bridge on the way to Amish country in Ohio. It is part of the Mohican Valley trail and is said to be the longest covered bridge in Ohio and the second longest in the nation. To get to the bridge, you have to turn off the main highway and follow a little road up a winding hill to a parking lot. People walk, ride bikes, horses and drive buggies on this trail. The bridge is a very beautiful and peaceful spot. Our children love to pretend that on the other side of the bridge is a magical land, like Narnia, where exciting adventures await them. We've never ventured over to the other side. The bridge is usually just a quick stop for us to take pictures, to look at the river below, and to stretch our legs after a full day in Amish country. We keep saying that someday, we will take the time to explore the other side, but in some ways, I prefer to keep the other side somewhat of a mystery. Perhaps, I'm more comfortable on this side. It's what I know.

I've been thinking of this bridge and the concept of "the other side" a lot lately. About a week ago, my dear aunt, my mother's sister, passed away. Jena suffered a stroke a few months ago, but was on the road to recovery. She lived quite far from us, so seeing her was always a treat for me. I remember some very precious times with her whenever we could visit. I really hoped I could see her just one more time, but then, she had a second stroke, and then, a third. I was able to write her just one more letter and just an hour before she died, my cousin called me and put the phone to Jena's ear, so I could tell her that I loved her. I also sang a verse of "Amazing Grace" to her. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I was so thankful that the Lord allowed me one more moment with her.

As hard as it was to let my aunt go, I ache for my mother at this time. This was her sister, her twin sister. They had shared so much together. Even though they lived far apart, they were still connected. So,I am hurting over the loss of a dear aunt, but I am also hurting for my mom.

And, not only that, I am hurting when I think about having to let go of my mom someday. We are also connected in a very real way. I love her so much. I can't fathom a time when I won't be able to receive one of her encouraging letters or pick up the phone and talk for a while. I will miss our walks, meeting together for lunch and the smile on her face when she sees her grandchildren. I will miss her stories of growing up on the farm with her and her sisters. I will miss hearing her laugh and sharing our inside jokes. I will miss her hugs and I will miss hearing her talk of her faith in the Lord.

As hard as it is to say goodbye to our loved ones, we all have to face death. Some sooner. Some later. We know this fact, but I have a feeling that most of us don't really want to think about it. I want to be around to raise my children and perhaps, to see my grandchildren. I want to do more for the Lord before my day comes, but God is the One who gives us each day. God gives us breath for as long as He wills. Our lives are like that long bridge. We may be walking on it for a while, but soon, we will have to go to the other side. What is there? For many, it will mean an eternity without Christ. For the rest, it will mean never-ending bliss. To be with our Lord forever! As Christians, we know that heaven will be glorious. We've read the verses and we say we look forward to the day we will be with Jesus, but are we truly excited about being on the other side? This world is all we know and I believe we can become too comfortable here. I do not mean that heaven is all we should think about. After all, God did give us a job to do while we are here, but let's remember where we are going and long for it. Charles Spurgeon said, "Do not be afraid to die, beloved, but rather look at death as an experience to be desired. I have not the slightest wish to escape." Just imagine. A place where there is no pain, no sorrow, no struggle with sin. Imagine seeing the face of Jesus. I, like Paul, want to be able to say, "To live is Christ and to die is gain(Phil.1:21).

While here, I want to teach my children to love the Lord their God with all of their hearts. I want to walk hand in hand with my husband on this journey. I want to honor my parents and love my brother and sister. I want to be a testimony to whoever God puts in my path. I want to follow Christ and then, when He says it's time, I will take His hand and walk to the other side.

"By the crystal flowing river,
With the ransomed I will sing.
And forever and forever,
Praise and glorify the King.

All that thrills my soul is Jesus.
He is more than life to me.
And, the fairest of ten thousand,
In my blessed Lord I see."

Monday, March 5, 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog

Blogging is not my job. I enjoy writing, but my job is being a keeper at home and that takes most of my time. I find that I have to remind myself what my top priorities should be. The plain simple truth is that I can't do it all. Many times I hear the question, "How do you do it?" I need to start answering with, "I don't." Something always has to give. If I need to choose between finishing that book that sits on my night stand or reading a Dr.Seuss for the hundredth time to a child, then, the children's book wins. Or, if I need to choose between folding a load of laundry or having a cup of tea with my husband, then, you can bet I'm going to choose the tea, especially if there are cookies involved. Okay, that was a no brainer. The point is that my time is very limited, so when I can, I will write, but when I'm not writing, I'm busy being a wife and mommy.

I have been making a few changes to this blog. Just like changing the furniture around in a room, I felt it was time for a new look. I have more posts coming soon, as well, so I hope you'll check back in from time to time. Maybe I'll have a new post. If not, then know I am probably spending time with my children or like now, I'm having a cup of tea with my husband. Oh good. He brought a few cookies, too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fudge, Tea, Endless Thoughts and Waiting on God

The title pretty much explains my life right now. Endless thoughts. They really don't seem to take a break, except maybe when I'm sleeping, but even then, I dream about either the things I've done or the many things I have to cross off my to-do list.

A cup of tea. A necessity. Tea helps me to take at least a few minutes to sit and relax. When I have my cup at night after the kids are in bed, I don't have to continue to warm it in the microwave because I was interrupted countless times or to gulp it down in a hurry. I like to savor tea and yet drink it while it's still hot.

A very small piece of fudge. We've been changing the way we eat snacks around here. Instead of reaching for cookies or other junk food between meals, we have actually been choosing better alternatives. For many years, I was careful to choose healthy snacks, but became a little lazy in recent times. Well, not anymore. Except a little yesterday and this afternoon, oh and tonight! I just had to have a little with my tea!

Life in our home is always quite interesting. Busy, loud, frustrating, a bit chaotic at times, and yet, even in the midst of it all, God is there. He is the peace in the middle of the storm. He loves even when I don't show my love for Him. There are those days, more than I'd like to admit when I've complained, wanted to quit,(just for a couple of hours), missed my quiet time with Him, or was unloving to one of my children and yet He is still there, waiting for me and loving me. How thankful I am that He loves me. That's better than a cup of tea. That's even better than that piece of fudge I shouldn't eat. And those endless thoughts? Yes, I admit, many of those thoughts are worries that need to be given to Him. A bit of Philippians 4 could go a long way. Instead of worrying about laundry, dishes, picking up, cooking meals, making sure the baby gets to sleep, finishing the curriculum, dealing with a stubborn toddler, making a child understand consequences or even combing my hair, I can remember this:
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,dwell on these things",(Phil.4:8).

This takes training and it isn't a training that comes easy. It's easy to just do the things we are used to doing. It's easy to coddle our sin nature. It's not easy to turn from it and to go to God's Word and live it. But, I must. If I say that I love Him, I must obey His Word. I must train this mind to think on the things of God. There are times I don't even have the desire to follow Him. It's then that I ask Him to fill me with the desire to want Him and only Him. Even when the words do not come, He knows what I need. I may see a difference right away or I may wait. More often than not, I find that I'm waiting, not always patiently,(let's take it one step at a time), but I am waiting. While I wait on Him, I will pray. I will meditate on the truth of His Word. I will praise Him. I will continue to raise my children to love Him. I will load the dishwasher. I will wash the clothes. I will sit and read with my toddlers. I will build block towers. I will diagram sentences and work word problems with my older children. I will rock the baby to sleep. I will continue to do the things that need to be done and I will wait on the Lord.

While I Am Waiting (John Waller)

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord