Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Treasures... don't miss them!

Focusing on Christ at Christmas is different for me this year.

This year my home is full of family. Treasured ones I joined when I married my Love who haven't been together for Christmas in 24 years. God aligned every minute of this special celebration and I don't want to miss one minute!

I find myself struggling with MANY opportunities to take offense, get my feelings hurt, overwork myself, be short tempered with the precious men in my life, and hear the enemy's voice in my inadequacies and imperfections.

It is a challenge dodging what seem like bullets (unintentional most of the time I am sure) and keeping my eyes on Christ, the One who came so we could embrace each other in freedom and grace. And, personally, I don't want to be robbed of one minute!

SO - here is what I am doing - with every "opportunity" that arises, I practice my emotional, physical or even mental "cat-like" reflexes :) and grab from my heart and mind a happy memory a Bible verse/promise, or even just choose a grin and press into my Jesus, fully committed to soaking up the Joy He came to deposit!

The treasures He put in my life - those I married into and those I birthed are designed by Him to be gifts in my life and I am going to enjoy every one!!

Joyful and Merry Christmas to each of you!

Friday, December 3, 2010

All Done? Really?

For almost all of my life I have envisioned having four children. When I was a child I wanted four by the time I was 25 and when I got married at the ripe old age of twenty, it seemed reasonable to expect that.

When I reached thirty and there was no sign of motherhood, but a deeply whispered promise in my heart, I was devastated. It was three more years before I would conceive and birth my first son (10 years from when we began "trying"). It was an amazing miracle from beginning to end. After he was born, I was truly grateful for the chance to be a mother, finally.

A few short months later I conceived my second son and all I could think of was Ephesians 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us". And my second son was exactly that.

I had become a mother for sure! Two sons 14 1/2 months apart, I barely knew which end was up! I was exhausted, felt a little crazy but living my dream. It was amazing and wonderful and excruciating and incredible.

After the two, my Love and I became polarized on how many more babies we should have. He was done. Overwhelmed, exhausted and concerned about my mental and emotional status he was fairly confident we should just stop. We agreed to pray and God showed us both that we weren't quite done.

Almost a year later we conceived our third child. It was the first time I was able to surprise my Love about a pregnancy. The first one, he guessed. The second one, he made me take three tests AND call the EPT hotline to confirm, and so this third one, we wanted but had no idea when it would happen. It was January 3, 2007. I walked into my Love's office, in front of his co-workers and told him I needed a new car. I pulled out the positive pregnancy test and we hugged and every one cheered. It was an amazing day. As we called to tell everyone - the sense of celebration was tangible. I even wrote a little song that the boys and I could sing to the baby. I still hear it in my heart:
     Baby, Baby, we can't wait to meet you
     Baby, Baby, we're thinking about you today.
     Baby, Baby, we can't wait to see you.
     Baby, Baby, we love you every day.
We sang it many times a day for three weeks. And then, after a follow up ultrasound, we found out she was gone. I say she because I begged God to show me who the baby was if He was going to make me walk through the insane grief of losing her. The morning after that heartbreaking ultrasound, before I really woke up, I had a vision of a little tiny face, wrapped in a pink blanket, held in huge white robed arms. The next several weeks I had to sing the song differently with the boys:
     Baby, Baby, we can't wait to meet you
     Baby, Baby, we're thinking about you today.
     Baby, Baby, we know we can't see you.
     Baby, Baby, we know you're in Heaven today.
For months they asked me to sing the song. And I would. I would cry through it. Every time. My processing on this grief could be a whole series of blogs - I journaled all the way through it. I eventually made a scrapbook page with her ultrasound picture - the one with her heart beating and wrote her a letter. We named her Joy.

God, in His infinite grace and mercy gave me another baby within a few months. I was thrilled but terrified. My third son was in my arms days before the first anniversary of losing Joy back to Heaven. He is a precious gift.

For almost 2 years after my third son's birth my Love and I have been polarized again about whether to have another one. I still want more. Just one more. He is completely ready to move past the baby/toddler stage of life and get on with the older fun things to do with his sons. I don't blame him a bit. Part of me completely agrees, especially as I can see the light at the end of the "diaper" tunnel.

I have always had irregular cycles. Since I have been working out and losing weight they have semi-regulated so when I missed one last month I was a little surprised. Earlier this week my oldest son was talking about wanting a little sister. I reminded him that he gets impatient sharing me with his brothers and that would mean he would have to share me with one more sibling. He said he didn't care. He wants a little sister.

My second son piped up from his breakfast to say, "we have a sister, her name is Joy and she lives in Heaven." To which his brother replied, "I know, but I want a sister here with me now." I told them that both Daddy and Mommy only want what God wants for our family. I didn't mention that we feel differently on the issue, even though I have peace about my Love's upcoming vasectomy this month.

So, this morning I took a pregnancy test. It was negative. I cried. I dreamed last night that I watched the moisture move across the window into a plus sign, not a minus sign. I was only dreaming. I have had many friends who have dreamed about coming to see me in the hospital carrying pink. I have held out hope, that even though we are careful, that some how, some way I would have that fourth baby to hold in my womb and then in my arms.

I know we could adopt and foster parent. But, right now, at this minute, I ache for what I've longed for, I am at peace with what is and I wait, trusting, believing, and knowing that my God is in control of my every need as well as every need of each of my precious family members. Today I will worship. Tears falling a bit, but worship the One who provided for me, "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,". 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

SHORT Stories

A friend posted a link to an NPR article about 'Hint Fiction' Celebrates the (Extremely) Short Story and I was intrigued. I have diligently worked on editing my blogs and writings lately and this looked like an exciting challenge.

Here are my stories:

Two of which are taken from Scripture so they cannot be considered fiction, but it was a cool exercise to condense them into a few words.

Title: Luke 8 Woman © JJ Bogdanowicz
She escaped terminal rejection and reached for Life. Healing happened. Eternal freedom began.

Title: The Other Choice (Based on Luke 9:61-62) © JJ Bogdanowicz
He left without saying goodbye.  Stunned, she took a deep breath. Eternal purpose had been chosen, trusting the Master’s provision. Destiny called them both.

Title: Conqueror © JJ Bogdanowicz
Seasoned eyes were sharpened for night pursuit. After decades Darkness still retreated in terror. Sword severed precisely. Victory established by moonlight.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Living with Superheros...

I am not going to lie. There are many days that I look to the heavens and I say, "I begged You for THIS!??"

But not today.

Today was different.

Usually after 6pm my nerves are shot. Star Wars light saber sounds have taken their toll, the wrestling, running, jumping, feats of strength and general mayhem often end with little warriors having time outs and other assorted consequences.

But not today.

Today there was peace in our home. The Warriors swung their light sabers, the sound affects ringing in my ears, grunting, sweating, laughing and even flying were done without crisis, irritation or even injury.

Usually when Daddy leaves early to go to work there is tension, usually mine, about having to "run the show" for the week. My nerves are on edge about what is coming for the week that I know about and wondering about the unknown surprises lurking around the bend. I know this sounds horribly pessimistic from such an optomist, but when my Love flys away for days at a time it often takes me at least 24 hours to settle into some sort of "groove" and then usually a day or two later he is home again, to do things his way. :)

Today though, I actually feel changed. Deeply changed. As if that old place of anxiety in me is gone, or at least taking a nap for a bit. Last night I made sure to get enough "good night" kisses for the week all at once, then woke up this morning well aware that he would be gone before dinner. No anxiety snuck in the back door, no tension pushed at my nerves, no hyper-sensitive reactions took place as I went about the evenings tasks.

Instead I cooked a chicken veggie soup to eat for the week, listening to my Jedi's battle in the confined space of our living room, my youngest Jedi begging for the most recently fashioned paper light saber, enjoying their playtime and my cooking.

After dinner it was time for jammies and two of my three fellas donned their Batman jammies. Purchased at a consignment sale, my smallest Batman no longer has a cape, but his big brother who decided on GI Joe garb (no cape included) got out his Superman cape and attached it to a very happy Batman. Bigger Batman carried his black cape into the kitchen with a grin requesting I attach it to his shirt. Once the velcro was connected my super hero took off to join his brothers fending off imaginary foe.

Shorter Batman-Superman came running around the corner to tell me in his delighted two year old voice that "Mommy I can fly! Watch me!" So I watch as he goes running down the hall cape flying like a kite behind him. I say, "Peter YOU are amazing!" to which he yells, "Yes I am!"

I pray this night is imbeded in my heart. I am fairly certain there will be other nights to enjoy the warrior superheros. Tonight though, there is something special about seeing the fruit of my peace reflected in the eyes, hearts and bodies of my sons, now THAT is a wonderful sight to behold!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hating Others?

I am currently studying the names of God. This week, the study is on God's name Adonai.

Adonai means Lord and Master. These verses from Luke 4 were a part of my study that keep ringing in my spirit:
25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

So WHAT does that mean Lord? If you are my Master, I have to hate everyone else? I have to abandon all the key relationships in my life, that YOU have given me?

I love God. I know He loves me, not in a sing-song Sunday school way, but a real, no kidding, serious, rubber meets the road kind of Love. I want to draw into His presence daily, pursue Him, learn from Him, receive from Him, walk with Him. That's great, as a Christian, that is what having a relationship with God looks like.

But wait! There's more!

When Jesus says that we are to hate those nearest and dearest to us so we can be His disciple, that seems SUPER strange to me. After all, He provided those special people in our lives. He put us together with them, knowing the challenges, the victories, the pain and the joy we would encounter together on this path of life.

I wish my life would accommodate an in-depth study on this verse, but it doesn't. I did read it in several versions and the New Living Translation said that we are to hate them in comparison to Christ in order to be His disciple.

Ok, so that doesn't sound SO bad after all, does it? What does that look like in a practical sense?

I know missionaries and their families who have lost their marriages, children to rebellion and drugs, and their lives or body parts to horrible diseases. People who have sacrificed so much and yet continue to serve God in whatever way He leads them. They have loved Him more than their marriage, their family, their bodies, and served Him.

My missionary friends have served with all their hearts, lived through hell, relationally, emotionally, and physically. Is it any wonder that when we as humans are asked to walk out a supernatural call of God that our humanity crumbles sometimes? The ensuing judgment by the Body of Christ for not keeping an appropriate "balance" is tragic.

Does this mean there is an excuse to not attend diligently to my marriage or to my family and friends? That I am to shut myself into my room, neck deep in Bibles, Concordances, Lexicons, throwing food in my kids vicinity when they make too much noise to concentrate? Do I hide away from my husband, nose in Bible, pursuing God irregardless of his needs?

NO, I am sure that is NOT what God is talking about.

However, I am prayerfully meditating on His Word in this case because I want to KNOW if there is anything in my world that I love or need more than Christ. Mostly because I know that without Him, I will ultimately end up with nothing.

My memorization verse for the week is Psalm 16:2, "I say to the LORD, You are my Lord (Adonai), apart from You I have no good thing." (No, I did not type that from memory - working on it still!)
I have come to the conclusion that to be His disciple, my love for Him must compare to none other. When I compare my love for my family and friends, it is as if  I hate them in comparison to my passion for Christ.

I have sung this song with passion and zeal for several years of my adult life, I am pondering it deeper now.
What I love about this particular youtube video is the real ministry and worship taking place. Do they or I REALLY mean "We will abandon it all, for the sake of the call?"

Yes, I believe we do.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Marriage

Ephesians 5:31-33 Amplified Version
"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is very great, but I speak concerning [the relation of] Christ and the church.
   However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and [that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]."

Isn't it interesting that there is so much instruction for the wife and for the husband - to love his wife. Here is part of our story:

When I met Erik, I KNEW he was the one for me. I knew our lives were super different, he loved to party, he didn't grow up submerged in the church or a relationship with Jesus like I did, and his family was very different from mine.

From the moment, literally less than 48 hours from when we met, I told him I loved him, I knew I would never love another man the way I loved him. God did it in me. I felt it in my spirit and in my heart.

Our first year was not some blissful honeymoon event. Yes, we had sex, a lot, but we fought a lot too. We both agree that the single guy living next door to us probably swore to never ever get married! Erik put a hole in the wall of our apartment, our cordless phone went flying through the air ( I honestly can't remember who threw it!) - it never recovered, my chemistry book binding was busted halfway through the semester and I am sure I have forgotten other items that were damaged in the process of two young kids with hard heads and strong wills trying to merge into life together.

We celebrated our first anniversary in Idaho. We began really settling into married life then. It was just us. No family around, no friends, no one but each other. We found our church within days of moving into our first apartment. God surrounded us immediately with friends that would become life long family.

It was at this point when I began to see the man I married becoming who God created him to be. He had given his life to the Lord about a month after we met and he had changed from the party-guy-girl-chaser he once was for sure, but once I quit being a big cry baby, running home to mama and comparing him with my "perfect" family life (seriously deluded for sure), I started to see who he really was.

Our first winter was super hard. California girl moves to North Idaho, fresh married, completely void of all family to lean on, new friends in the making, what seemed like 100 feet of snow on the ground and barely money to pay the rent.

BUT, we LOVED our life together. We still fought but we (I actually mean "I") didn't have anyone to whine to. Long distance phone calls were more than what we could afford so we just had to work it out! We did. He did. God did.

I was no easy woman to deal with. Emotional, depressed, gaining weight like it was going out of style for no actual reason (later determined it was my hormones and transition from California style living to Idaho winter living). I gained 75lbs in 3 months. I promise I did not EAT that much!! Yikes! It was awful.

We began making friends who were newly married themselves. As the years went by I began to start seeing my Love as the man I loved deeply, growing with me in the Lord and becoming who God had planned for him  to be.

I was changing too. The church (New Life) was different than the Presbyterian one I grew up in. Very different (that's another blog in itself). I was finding out who I was in Christ, not just hanging on to what I expected Him to be based on what I saw my parents and church friends living out in Cali.

I was still pretty critical. Reminding him how often he didn't measure up to the other guys when we would get together. I have never once called him a name other than his own, but my insecurities and immaturity certainly contributed to my overall attitude of dishonor and disrespect for the man I had promised to "love, honor and cherish, all the days of my life".

I cringe now at the tones I remember having towards him, derision and disgust for him not "measuring up", as if I knew what that was! We would fight, work it out, fight, work it out, talk and talk, fight some more, all the while his steadfast support and commitment to me NEVER wavered even though he was being tortured by my attitude and tone often!

We have grown up together. We have grown in the Lord together. We have survived crazy and horrible life events together. We have met challenges head on and talked all the way through them, even when we didn't want to.

Several years ago I read a book that completely altered our relationship forever. Love and Respect showed me every way I had disrespected the man God had given me to love. He put up with it. He got angry about it, but I just fought back, feeling justified and self-righteous.

I do not take him for granted any more. I do not push him and push him until he completely snaps in agony for me to stop demanding him to be what I want him to be instead of what God wants him to be. He is free to love me however God leads him to instead of trying to meet my demands.

And I am free to receive his love and pour ou the kindness and respect God asks of me. I don't feel like it is overstating it to stay that he now KNOWS that I appreciate who he is right now, not who he might be, or who he once was. He is free, I am free. Our relationship has never been more fun, lighthearted and rich with grace and mercy for each other.

We are not perfect. We do fight still. We still do not call each other names. We still have to work through our pain as individuals and as a couple. But we now know, that our challenges can be conquered. It is not easy. But we do it.

AND the best part - we have several couples in our lives who love our marriage more than they love us as individuals. They call us on our behavior toward each other, when either one of us is in pain, we can call on them and they will pray and offer words of wisdom, comfort and truth. We are free to speak out our pain knowing that whether I am speaking with a girlfriend or he with a guy friend, they love us both. They will never say or do anything that will be against our spouse. Only words of life for our marriage and our aching hearts. We return the favor when the time comes. It is part of God's gift to us. We work together to stay connected to these couples, consistently maintaining the relationships for the benefit of us all.

So, today, there is a lot to be grateful for. Each other, our families, our friends and most of all our God!

Monday, October 4, 2010

My Homework from "Lord, I want to know you" study by Kay Arthur

This weeks homework - every time I sat down to answer a question, it came out in a poem! It was so strange. I don't write a lot of poetry, but this just seemed to flow out of me... so I thought I would share:

For my Elohim (God my Creator)

Let all of us declare the glory of Your name!
Your infinite design transcends all fame.
Unending creativity inspired Creation
How we celebrate Your astounding provision!

I’m revealing Your glory through
My thoughts, words and motions
My evident desire to display You
Completely in all my interactions.

I ask for Your Light to shine
Declaring to all that I am Thine
In this day and all that come
May all Your sovereign Will be done.

Your Will revealed declares my best
Within Your presence I choose to rest.
Not striving or in pursuit
But walking, thriving, believing, it.

I commit my all to You
Obeying your Word in what I do
Meditating, Your thoughts exchanged for mine
My flesh submits to being refined.

My purpose revealed each day I dance
Intertwined with You in divine romance.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Angels in Spandex, Lycra, or Polyester...

Never underestimate the power of your words.

There were many men and women who blessed me with kind words throughout my race.

How many people are you blessing with your words?

I am more aware of my appearance, my physical fitness, my mental endurance and my emotional capacities since my race last week. I am also more aware of my words to my husband, sons, other family and my friends.

We all know words are powerful, but do we really take very long to consider what comes out of our mouths - consistently?

I was listening to friends talk not to long ago about a mutual acquaintance who was having some life struggles. The friends are good people and well meaning in their concerns but the words were not speaking life into the situation.

It reminded me that no matter what I talk about, who or what I am discussing, I need to speak life and blessing. Even into hard situations that I don't understand.

Those men and women who passed me, fit tight bodies wrapped in the most efficient athletic apparel were angels to me. They spoke life into me, a total stranger, as I was working hard to live my dream. I have no idea what their spiritual background was or what their motivation was to call out to me, "great job", "keep up your efforts", "you can do it", "don't give up", etc. but their words of life gave me what I needed to finish my race strong, just as I wanted to.

Are you speaking life to the people around you? The checker at the grocery store, the little person who is sleeping in the next room, the person you sleep next to, the person who sat beside you in church this morning, the friend who has been living in a personal crisis?

There are so many people you and I see every day. We have no idea what they need to hear, but God knows. Listen for His prompting about what to say, and if you find yourself in a group of people discussing someone struggling for prayer purposes or otherwise, don't get suckered into negativity or unfair assessments, but speak life.

Speak words of blessing and encouragement into the situation. Express HOPE for the situation. YOU can change the direction of the conversation or even someone's journey by your words. Don't underestimate the blessing of "The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry" (Proverbs 25:11-The Message).

God created this world with His words. He gave us His Word - "Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose." (Proverbs 18:21-The Message).

Let's use what He has given us wisely. Please. He loves all of us. Let us love others as He has loved us, and let's start with the way we use our words.

You too might be an angel - in denim, spandex, cotton, lycra, or polyester to someone just like me!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Discouragement and Motivation...

My old friend Discouragement isn't as noisy as she used to be. She has lost her primary place in my focus and attention. Motivation has taken priority and encouraged me to drive ahead even on the days when I hear Discouragement's tempting voice to just give up. Let me tell you about them both:

Discouragement is slow. Her voice is monotone and her creativity is non-existent. She has no spark to her existence. Her heart beats with a steady unexciting pulse. She has no favorite colors because she sees only gray wherever she looks. She doesn't bother with laughter for she sees no point in it. Life just occurs around her. She sees no real reason for the pursuit of anything. She doesn't sing because she hears no melody in her heart. Most are drawn to her out of convenience and their own lack of imagination. The companionship felt with her is like prisoners locked together in the same cage. She is to be avoided. If she has captivated your attention for any length of time it is too long. She will do you no favors and bring you no peace. Her encouragement exists only to keep you with her, alone, and void of all hope. Once you walk away from her, you won't miss her, but she will keep talking if you listen.

However, my new friend Motivation is different.

Motivation is the one who now gets me up in the morning. Her voice is soft and clear as a crisp spring day. Her heart beats strong and fast. Her creativity when facing a challenge is inexhaustible. Her favorite colors are vibrant and her laugh sounds like music in my head on the days when she knows I am near victory. Her zest for life draws me deeper into risk and challenge. Her song has a  pounding baseline and a invigorating chorus. I am drawn to her with a compulsion that parallels a new romance. I cannot imagine my life without her now. She is my closest companion. My dearest friend. She whispers gentle encouragement during my weary moments and emphatically cheers my many victories. She is wise and kind. She pushes me farther and faster than I ever imagined I could go. She is the complete display of Joy, Peace and Hope.

These girls are allegory style images of what God has released me from and where He has taken me on this journey. He is the author and creator of Motivation. The enemy of my soul designed Discouragement. I pray they speak to you today, for God's revelation on these two is not for me alone.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Family Camping

One of the most wonderful things about this weekend was the unexpected surprises.

  • Like our friends cancelling at the last minute (we would have loved to have them with us, don't get me wrong, but just OUR family is such a neat little package!).
  • Then the raindrops throughout the weekend at all different times of day.
    • We sang "Sing Hallelujah to the Lord" with our sons while raindrops pelted us before we headed to bed and instead of running inside, we let everyone pick a song and sing even though we were getting wetter! 
    • We made smores in the rain too. Just tuck the graham cracker package into the open bag of marshmallows and it all works out just fine! 
    • We sat around our Sunday morning campfire with James (because his birthday is closest) leading our Sunday family church service. He prayed, we sang a song, and then he asked us all to share something we know about Jesus. It was a precious time. And it rained on us then too. We didn't care.
  •  We decided last minute on Saturday night to run over to Sandpoint to go out to dinner. I had planned dinner for camping, but one of our favorite family restaurants so close was just too tempting! We loaded up the guys and headed out to Jalapeno's and had a wonderful family dinner. It was so relaxing and enjoyable to visit with our tired guys over dinner, watch Peter eat a crazy amount of chips and salsa (that was all he wanted for dinner) and together - with all 5 spoons dipping in - devour our favorite Jalepeno's dessert - Fried Ice Cream. Everyone got enough. Everyone had fun. There were even compliments from other diners about the boys manners! Talk about a lovely surprise!
  • Saturday morning I got up as soon as the fellas woke up and got dressed to go for my Saturday run. Outside this time! I usually run on the treadmill. It was my first real run out of doors - and what a glorious morning! Wow! I loved every minute - except for the giant hill - but other than that, it was great!
  • Sunday morning we got up, before our real breakfast (Pop Tarts don't count) and took a hike down by the lake. The boys picked up sticks, running, stopping, whacking plants, posing for a picture or two, or protesting I was taking pictures (depending on the subject). I really took the time to study them.

They have changed so much these past few years. My middle guy is about to turn 5 and I wonder again where the time has gone. He has changed so much just in the last year! My oldest, now 6 is showing initiative (in good and not so good situations) and my littlest guy, he is talking in full sentences, completely and thoroughly sure he is right about all he says and if it is to be done, "I will do it by myself!".

For me, this weekend was about really LOOKING at my family. I told my husband many times what a great Dad he is. He asked me why I kept saying that. Since he wasn't really doing anything new or different and he isn't particularly insecure about such things. I told him that I was just enjoying watching, really watching him be a great dad. He responded with "OK."

I watched my boys riding their bikes, jumping over speed bumps, trying to learn to ride with one hand or with none, confident and capable on two wheels when it was only last year they were wobbly and trying to learn.

I spent 45 minutes Friday afternoon snuggling, wrestling, tickling and giggling with Peter on the grass while the big boys rode around us. Listening to his laugh, his voice say "again Mommy, again!", and just being in his presence blessed my socks off.

What treasures I enjoy on a daily basis! I am hoping the intent focus I placed on them this weekend carries through as I get back to the day-to-day business of doing life.

Full blessings. Full weekend. Wonderful!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

John's Baptism

It's Saturday morning at our church's Family Camp. I look over the schedule and see "Baptism" at 4:30pm. I get the sense we need to be there, that John is ready. I say a quick prayer of "okay Lord" and get on with the day's activities.

As 3:30 comes around the big boys who have been on their bikes or running around since 8am are exhausted and desperately need a nap. I inform them of this as the rest of our friends and their families are packing up to head for the lake. I remember the baptisms are this afternoon, but am more concerned about the "crabby" behaviors on display in my fellas.

At about 3:45, James is already asleep and Erik comes walking back to our campsite. John is hollering from his bed that he is ready to wake up (obviously shut his eyes only to blink). Peter caught an early nap so he was in great shape. We discuss the pros and cons of going down to the lake with grumpy boys. I tell Erik I feel like we need to go. He says, "well, we'd better go then!"

I climb into my bathing suit knowing how spectacular I must look in it and shove my pride away down with everything else in my "miracle suit". Some miracle. At my size, the fact that I am willing to be seen in a bathing suit is the miracle. I wish for a fleeting moment for a cute "cover-up" but figure there is no actual way to disguise the real me, so I let it go as quickly as it comes.

We get to the lake and there are many people there. Our group goes over to a more secluded spot so we can hear each other and Pastor David as he baptizes these precious members of our New Life family.

James is leaning against Erik who is sitting on a rock. I have Peter in my arms and John standing beside me holding my hand. We watch together as his friend Carson, who is just a month older than him, is baptized by Pastor David and Carson's dad. It is a precious moment. We watch as John's friend Mia, Pastor David's daughter is baptized, another sweet family moment.

John is quietly watching and while one of his new friend's dad's is baptized, he says, "Mom, I want to get baptized today." So, wondering if he is just moved by his friend's choices or if God is nudging him, I say, "no, not today, we haven't really talked about it." To which he replies, "No Mom, I want to be baptized today, right now!"

I say, "Why John?

"That is how I want to praise Jesus today. I want to obey Him and I want to be baptized. Now Mom."

I am, in that moment, reminded of the still small voice in my heart that said it was time. I walk John over to his dad and John tells him he wants to be baptized. I look over and speak to Pastor David's wife Ranell, and say, "John wants to be baptized today." She says, "Ok!" and calls out to her husband on the lake. He responds with a "Yes!" and we all wade out to where he is standing.

Erik comes alongside John on his right and Pastor David is on his left. Pastor David then asks, as he did for the other children, who have known this guy since before he was born. Our friends, many of whom walked beside us during our over nine years of infertility raise their hands. As I stand, holding my youngest on my hip, grasping my second son by the hand, I look out to the crowd of precious partners we have had on this journey. I look back to my John, the baby God promised me I would have (eight years before he was conceived), standing by his father, ready to obey his Jesus and be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Tears fill my eyes as the moment sinks in.

Pastor David confirms that John is definitely ready to take this next step in his spiritual journey. He speaks of how tender John's heart is toward God and how John listens and responds already to God's voice. Pastor and Erik then baptize our Miracle, submerging him and bringing him up again, symbolizing the death we once were in, and the resurrection life that is offered to us when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior (a story I will write someday, how John and James gave their heart's to the Lord at the ages of 4 and 3).

We hug each other as a family and I whisper a prayer of gratitude that God put it on our hearts to be sure to make it down to the lake today.

I am keenly aware that my dear friend is taking pictures and all of my not so spectacular body will be seen in these pictures forever. I am more focused however, on my precious Promise had an experience on his spiritual journey that will impact him from that day on.

Since Saturday July 24, 2010, my sweet son has "written" lullaby's for his little brothers and sung them to him. He has laid hands on people and prayed for them. He continues to have a caring and sensitive heart toward others, and while he continues to have all the challenges of being six, he is diligent about asking for forgiveness when he makes unwise choices or hurts someone. He did these things before. But, I see a stronger young man in the making. One who wants to obey his God, his parents, and those in authority over him.

I am so thankful for God's perfect timing. His timing for the birth of the Promise, His time for when John gave his heart to the Lord, and His timing for him being baptized. I look forward to what is yet to come!

You can see the pictures of this special moment here: John's Baptism

Approaching Exhaustion

I am so tired! I know people say that all the time and we all have our reasons. I know mine is a combination of little boys awake in the night or super early morning, an increase in my training regimen, and a decrease in my attentiveness to eating the super healthy good stuff that fuels my body for performance not just basic function.

Yes, I have been slacking on the fruits and veggies, the lean meats, the whole grains. Toying around with sugar, white flour and fruit juice instead of the real thing, and it is getting me no where. Fast.

So, today, approaching exhaustion, I don't want to cave to it all together! I am jumping back into the fit and healthy place so my body doesn't decide to shut down and get sick or worse - injured.

I am also reminded that I am fueling my head and heart as well. As I felt myself approaching exhaustion today I found my self talk becoming more and more negative and defeated. I reached out to my earthly "coach" Tarri for a pep text and she was there, faithfully reminding me to hang on.

Once I returned to my home, I knew I needed to get fuel from my Heavenly Coach and so I put on the worship music loud and got busy attending to the dishes, floors and other stuff in my house that needs attention. The boys are happily playing downstairs and it seems God has parted a way to refresh me in the midst of the activities of my life.

Many times when I approach exhaustion, I let the mental break down - like the body is threatening to do. I end up surfing the sofa, flipping channels or staring at the computer wondering what interesting nonsense I can post when my brain feels flat-lined.

Not today.
Today I reached out.
I reached up.
I got up and now, after posting this I will continue attending to the housework and the little people that need me knowing that exhaustion will retreat as I fuel myself with the things that bless my body, heart and mind.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What to do when you don't know what to do...

Wow. What a weekend.
So many people I know are in pain right now. Relationships are hurt and being hurt. I have several friends struggling in their marriages, several friends struggling in relationships with their families, several issues I am processing in my own life, and the list goes on.

Here's the thing,

It is all quite overwhelming if you forget how big our God is. Not only is He big, He is not stunned by the turn of events that has occurred in any of our lives.

John 16:33 says something we really need to keep in mind during hard times:

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - Jesus

We need to reach for and believe in the Peace that we only find in Him. If we aren't finding peace, then we need to ask those we know that have His peace to pray for us. I do that. I have His peace within me, but I still need someone to pray for me when I find that peace elusive. 

Please don't weather the storms of life alone. Reach out to those who love you. Reach out for people you know who have strength you don't. Reach out to God. He loves you.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Finishing Well...

Today my swim instructor asked me a question I hadn't thought about yet regarding my triathlon race.

He asked me, "What's the payoff?" I looked a bit confused I think and he clarified, "what do you get if you do this?" I looked up at him from the pool and answered, "I want to finish and finish well." He looked a little stunned. Then he smiled down at me and said, "That's great!".

I have been thinking about that all day. I didn't really think long about the answer, it just came out once I understood what he was asking. It's really how I feel about everything I do.

How well I do something is really only up to me. God will give me strength to go farther than I think I can and with my faith in Him I can do the stuff that is hard for me to do, the Holy Spirit gives me the insight on what to pursue and when, but in the end, here on this earth, I am using all He has given me to live this life to the best of my ability.

Take my marriage for example, what's the payoff there? I work hard to be respectful of my man. I choose daily to make decisions that will bless my husband and my marriage. The interesting thing is that I have found concerning my marriage is that it is more about me and my relationship with the Lord then my relationship with my husband. It is God that I told I would love, honor and cherish my husband. Yes, I told him too, but my commitment was made to God. I don't get to be comfortable in our marriage. I get to chose to walk by faith and believe God is at work in my life (whether I like it or not) through my husband. Everywhere I feel a lack - it is God's job to fill it. Erik, he is human and his heart is for me but he won't always get it right. But, my God, He always knows what I need, and He loves me enough to give it to me. When I receive what God provides, it is easier to face the challenges or even disappointments of marriage. In the end, I want to "finish well". When I stand before God at the end of my life and I have to answer for the decisions I have made, I want to know I did every thing He asked me to, regardless of my personal comfort.

And my parenting. Finishing well in the process of parenting feels like a moving target. And, honestly, I think it is. As you start to adjust to your kids, they change and you have to start again. Does that mean I shouldn't try though? Every day I want to reflect what I am learning from the Lord onto my kids. I want them to know the process and not just the end result. I frequently repent to God and then to them for unfortunate choices in my attitude and my behavior. Praying in front of them about my failings makes them aware that it is OK for them to make mistakes and then to know what to do to bring healing to the situation. They know I am not perfect, and my confessions and repentance and then asking Jesus and them to forgive me makes it okay for them to make mistakes too.

You see, God made us to finish well. There is nothing He created that is incapable of doing that. Free will allows us to make the choice about whether we will or not.

I want to finish well. That is my pay off.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Getting Sick

I woke up this morning with nasty sinus drainage. I took tons of vitamins and tried not to really work too much around the house. But, after I cleaned up after my yard sale on Friday, took the leftovers to the thrift store, made waffles for breakfast, cheese and crackers (I did not "make" these from scratch) for lunch, and grilled shrimp & chicken and veggies for dinner, bathed the boys, read to them, cleaned the kitchen, hit the grocery store for some more milk (I really should own a cow), changed the sheets on the baby's bed, and searched the web for possible places to stay while we are in Colorado this month, I decided to sit and rest.

I am praying for a full night sleep tonight. It has been at least 2 weeks since one of my kids hasn't been up in the night for one reason or another.

Please pray for speedy healing. I really am a little paranoid about getting sick and derailing yet another week of my training.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

I love you Mom!

My kids say "I love you" a lot. Since they started speaking, it is not uncommon for it to be said many times every day. Sometimes, other people get told "I love you" a lot too.

It is a spontaneous eruption that comes from their little hearts. Some people don't know what to do about it. Others just smile and say, "I love you too".

The days when they say it over and over again - to the point where you wonder if they really mean it or if they just don't know what to say, I have tuned into their "happy" factor. The days when it comes out the most is when they are happiest, most "full" of heart and content with their world. It is precious.

I never want to take those three little words for granted, EVER.

Erik and I have said "I love you" often to each other. We say it at least 3-4 times a day. When my heart is happy and I am content and looking at the man God provided for me I may blurt it out several more times. I imagine my little fellas learned to be free with those words from me. I am thankful for that.

You see, I don't think you can say these three precious words enough. Just ask the ones who have lost those they love.

My journey to better health is not so much about being thinner, faster, or stronger, but about my love for my God, my family, and my precious friends God has gifted me with.

I love you!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Fan into Flame

2 Timothy 1:6-7 
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Now that I am past the flu, and getting ready to resume my triathlon training, this verse comes to mind. 

My mom taught me 2 Timothy 1:7 this way (not sure which version it is) 
"God has not given me a spirit of fear but of love and of power and of a sound mind." I learned it as a child. She would recite it with me every time I had a bad dream or was afraid of something. I have prayed it over my children now too and had them say it with me after they have had bad dreams. 

God's Word is our "Owner's Manual" for every area of our lives. It applies to my life every day. It is not just something I "consult" when I don't know what to do, it is what I live. I want more of God's Word in me so I live what He says in my actions and attitudes because He is the author of my life. He already knows me from the inside out, the number of days I will walk on this earth, the experiences I will face and the pain I will endure. That is why I love His Words for me. He wrote them through His people knowing me long before I was ever born. If you don't see the Bible as that relevant to you, I encourage you to ask God to show you and to read it for yourself. 

This passage has specific fresh relevance to me today.
"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."

God has given me many gifts. All of which are for His glory and to be used as He leads. As I pursue my relationship with Him, I am fanning into flames His gift - the Holy Spirit. I need not be afraid because God has deposited in me His power, His love, and His self-discipline. All of those things I need every day. To walk out this journey to better health, to being a better wife and mother, to take care of my home, minister to those He puts in my path, and train for this triathlon. 

SO - For today I am focusing on HIS POWER, HIS LOVE, and HIS SELF-DISCIPLINE. All of which never fail. All of which are mine. All of which can happen every day in my life. I must believe it, walk it out, breathe it, live it, think it, etc. Otherwise they are just  words on a page or in a blog that are untapped resources containing blessings I will miss out on. I certainly don't want that!! DO you?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Triathlon Dreams... (same post on Prism Progress blog too)

I was 12 the first time I wanted to do a triathlon. My PE teacher Mr. Patrick was doing them and telling us about his big events as he was training and then when he completed them. My Dad did a design for someone for a local triathlon and I remember having the T-shirt. I kept it long past when it fit me.

Flash forward a few years... well, about 24 years...

After my miscarriage in January 2007 I began deliberately seeking God on what He wanted me to do with my time and my life. I knew I was to attend to and raise the amazing fellas He had already given me but I felt like there was more... so I asked. He reminded me of my dream to do a triathlon.

About a month later, on a walk with my friend Fay at Ross Point Camp, wandering through the spring green woods, I told her of the desire I had since I was 12 to complete a triathlon. She was quite supportive and agreed to keep my secret until I was ready to share (I didn't want to deal with people thinking I was nuts). I didn't even tell Erik until at least a few weeks after that.

I found out I was pregnant with Peter a few months later. So, dream on hold until the timing was right.

As my 40th birthday was beginning to loom in the distance I began to consider having that date be my goal to accomplish that dream. I began working out at the Kroc Center in October of 2009 after some of Erik's performance bonus at work was set aside to pay for membership and the Play Care place for the boys while I worked on my dream. Cardio has never been my favorite way to exercise so I opted for a minimal cardio (repetitious) workout in favor of a circuit training method I discovered in a book my friend Tarri sent me (she was so excited to help me drop the baby pounds and pursue fitness she hit the same day and fired off 2 great books - Mastering your Metabolism and The Female Body Breakthrough ). I dove into both of them!

Only recently have I begun sharing with those close to me about the triathlon dream. A few weeks ago my friend Leslie asked me when I was going to do one. Did I pick an event yet? Which one? When will I start my training? I was annoyed and told her (as politely as possible) I haven't even begun to think that far ahead. It's too overwhelming to think about right now. I took that attitude to the Lord. It was not in line with what He had been teaching me in His Word and certainly not in line with the challenges I had felt Him leading me to pursue regarding my physical health and fitness.

On June 1st I spent several hours looking online at the options available to me before my 40th birthday. The one closest to my birthday was in St Croix on May 1. While extremely appealing, that location did not seem terribly practical. So I kept looking. Then I found one in Lake Stevens, Washington. They bill it as a "RETRO Sprint Tri. They are actually doing a whole Tri that day too - Retro meaning no special equipment, no fancy bikes, no wetsuits, etc. Since I don't even have a bike right now, let alone a wetsuit, that really appealed to me. And it was far enough away I felt like I might just be ready by then. And hopefully I could find a great deal on a bike this summer. I talked with Erik and decided that with permission from my medical doc and chiropractor and wisdom from my friend Tarri on my training plan, that I should do it.

I found a great FREE training program online , received my Doc and Chiropractor's approval and sent my friend Tarri the training program to review. She has worked with me on my fitness from a distance for 9 months now so I was sure she would be able to evaluate if I could do it. She said yes!

So, here I am. My previous training schedule was approximately 4 hours per week. Now, it will be 6 or 7. I have been so encouraged and motivated by my friend Alicia who is training for Ironman Coeur d'Alene, who has been prompt and happy to respond to a zillion questions. My friend Leslie who lovingly pokes me (and fervently prays for me) when I am getting complacent, and many others have been so supportive in my pursuit of a more fit Jennifer, have been crucial to me getting this far.

I look forward to experiencing this dream all the way through. You see, it isn't just about race day for me. It is about the process I am in spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. I don't ever want to go back to being complacent concerning my eating habits or my physical fitness. I have spent years enjoying spiritual health pursuits and seeing wonderful fruit result in my life... now for the "exterior" work to be done!

Thank You Lord!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Healing of a Desperate Woman - Prompted by Pastor's Message on Luke 8:40-48

Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. Then a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus' feet, pleading with him to come to his house because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.
   As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,but no one could heal her. She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.
 "Who touched me?" Jesus asked.
      When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you."
  But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me."
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." 

The Healing of a Desperate Woman

My desperation for You leads me 
From my enforced solitude out to the mob.
My heart cries out for Your attention
Stretching for Your hem I land in the dirt.

The chaos around me is overwhelming.
The stench of the filth and dirt fill my senses,
Yet I reach out with all I have 
Knowing You are my only hope.
You alone contain what I so desperately need.

I catch You...

Your gaze upon me is exciting and terrifying at the same time.
You have now exposed me to the others but Your attention,

It alters me...

The look in Your loving eyes enfolds me
And the knowing words from Your lips revive me
Both confirm the healing I feel at my core.

As You turn and move on I know I will never return
To the place I once thought I would never leave.

I am healed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Moving on...

My last entry was rich with raw feelings and pain. This one is from the other side of that relationship...

"Let it go" What does that mean exactly? MOVE ON... don't get stuck there!

I almost hear the Lord's gentle, kind way of delivering that message to me. There will always be pain in our relationships because we all sin. I am here to tell you today that just because there is pain it doesn't mean it's a bad relationship.

Yes, some relationships are just  bad. They take. They cut. They never give. You KNOW when you are in one of those and if you haven't prayed and asked the Lord for a way of escape I encourage you to do so.

However, a hard relationship is different. The pain is used to accomplish God's will for us to lean on Him, press into Him, practice what He has already done for us in forgiveness, grace and love and this makes us GROW! Marriage is a hard relationship. It is so DAILY. Parenting is that way too. So are some friendships. They seem to always cost you more, but sometimes they give back lots. Or sometimes God just tells you to hang in there because He ordained the relationship and He has something for you from them (even if it doesn't seem like it for days or years) and they need something from you.

Hard relationships are also the most rewarding when you allow the pain to cause growth and change

I would have been robbed of some very special moments if I didn't implement God's gifts of forgiveness, grace and love in those painful relationships. And so would they.

So reach out of what is comfortable - embrace the pain and allow God to grow you into someone more like Him - Forgiving - Loving - and Gracious! I know I am working on that!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Painful Relationships...

I have been in a painful relationship for many years. I have loved this person and they have loved me. I have hurt this person - only by accident - never on purpose, and this person because of the pain in their heart (I choose to believe) has looked me in the face on more than one occasion and cut me to the core. Please understand I am not claiming to be a victim here, I am just trying to accurately portray as best I can the nature of the situation.

Do you ever feel like you choose to forgive over and over and then someone hurts you again - the same some one and it's like you have to start all over? I am sick of that. I have cried out to God for years over this relationship and sometimes I think it is changing/growing and then something else happens that reminds me that almost nothing has changed.

My husband counsels me to just "let it go". That I am never going to change this person. I know from all my years of marriage and counseling experience that all I can do is deal with my own "stuff", forgive others and ask the Lord to change me. I have. I do. I am changing and growing. Occasionally there is some acknowledgment of that, but mostly judgment and criticism remain. Or just absence. Then presence. Then acting as if nothing is wrong... repeat.

I continue to pursue this relationship only because of God's great Love for me and for this person. He nudges me when to call, when to pray, when to pursue, when to stop. I have to lean on Him for every piece of this relationship because when it hurts, He knows how to heal it.

I am tired of being in pain over this. I want to walk freely, unafraid of rejection and misjudgment. I don't think this person ever wants to know who I really am because that will shine the light on all the wrong judgments that have been made over the years. All the cutting comments would have to be exposed and ownership for their responsibility for the pain in the relationship would have to happen.

I need continued Divine intervention to walk this relationship out. Any conversations this person and I have had about what they communicate to me have left me sobbing and cut. I choose not to go that route again. I have learned that much over the years.

So, my choices continue to be: 1) Keep choosing to forgive 2) Keep loving in Christ - not my flesh. 3) Pray blessing and life over this precious person 4) Trust God to bring the healing in my heart - no person can ever heal me 5) Follow my husband's wise input and "let it go" as best as I can... then repeat.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

HEALTHY balance

I touched on this a bit today on my Prism Progress blog :

For the next six weeks I am really pressing into God for the breaking off the nasty habits I have with relation to food. It's not like I have spent the last 17 years ignoring my weight. I have done all kinds of programs and had assorted success. The reason for this focus now is that I am finally convinced that I want to do what a friend of mine does. She cooks from scratch. She told me why "1st is because it tastes better and I know what's in it. 2nd is because a majority of prepared foods contain absurd amounts of sugar."

I also read a research study done on fast foods and processed foods about how they are scientifically formulated to be addictive. That creeps me out! Then I watched the documentary Food Inc. and that sealed the deal for me. I am gradually -as our budget allows- working into Organic foods.

I am confident that this is all in God's timing and His provision for the optimum healthy foods is going to be there. Cheap food is no longer going to be part of our diet as a family.

Making an egg casserole for the week tonight so I am up later than usual. It is much better for all of us if Mommy eats well in the morning. :)

I will continue to write on this blog as time allows but as I am beginning this six week journey which will change me for a lifetime, I will be blogging 365 days in a row on my Prism Progress blog.

Casserole is almost done so I get to go to bed soon! Yay! Blessings to all!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reflections on Mother's Day today and years past...

Today I looked into my oldest son’s eyes and told him how Mother’s Day used to be the worst day of the year for me. He looked sad when I told him how I would cry every year on Mother’s Day, wishing God would give me a baby.

I looked out the window of the car remembering those painful anniversaries, how I waited every year, hoping to have one for the next Mother’s Day and the baby didn’t come. Out of the nine and one half years we tried to get pregnant, I cried for at least seven of those years.

Then, looking back into his tender denim blue eyes, I said, “then God gave me You! And I celebrate Mother’s Day with you and I praise Jesus because He gave me you and your two amazing brothers! It is now my very favorite day because it reminds me of how God kept His promise to me all those years ago that He would give me a baby.” He smiled, eyes twinkling, and said, “I love you Mommy!”

I looked at him and his brothers listening to our conversation and said, “I love each of you so much and I am SO thankful for Mother’s Day!” They each grinned and said in their own sweet ways, “Happy Mudders Day Mommy!” were Peter’s words. “Happy Mother’s Day Mommy!” James said. And not to be out done by his little brothers, John told me again, for the third time that morning, “Happy Mother’s Day Mom.”

What sweet and precious words those are on the other side of one of the most painful seasons of my life. A season I was sure would never end on some days and on other days I was sure it would be tomorrow.

Seasons of waiting are like that. When you sense in your spirit that the end of your pain is near somehow it gives you hope to get through the daily pain, to see through to the other side. I don’t know how many times I felt that way. “Maybe tomorrow will be the day” came and went from my heart so many nights over those years. Each time we would make love, whether “scheduled” or not, I would wonder… is it this time?

Then there were the times when I was sure it would never happen. Even though deep in my heart I knew God had promised me a baby (about two years into the season of infertility), others had sensed it when they prayed over me, and they confirmed it time and time again. Some days I just couldn’t imagine it really finally happening. Those are the days that led me down some very bumpy and unfortunate paths. Someday I will elaborate on those experiences, but for now, I will just confirm that a lack of hope can do some damage.

So, tonight, as I am the last one to tuck into bed, I am enjoying the little reminders of God’s great love for me. His promise fulfilled, sleeping in the top bunk. The one He called, “exceedingly and abundantly” – which he is – sleeping on the bottom bunk, and the little precious fellow tucked into his crib named in my heart by my God, “more than I could ask for or imagine.” (Quotes from Ephesians 3:20a “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,”).

It isn’t always pretty being a mom, but it is always worth the hard work. I am so happy to be a mother, every day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Cleansing and The Color Gray

Someone very dear to me is going through a very painful transition. I shared this with them and I felt led to post it in case some of you need it too:


God gave me a neat picture a few years ago when I was in great pain over losing my baby. He showed me, standing in the shower, crying... letting the tears, the pain, the anger, the heartache, just go down the drain. Since then the shower/tub has been more than a place to wash my hair or shave my legs. It remains the place where I allow Him to cleanse me, my heart, my mind, my whatever, all down the drain. Maybe that will be a blessing to you as you have tub soaks and take a shower... I also try to remember when I brush my teeth to keep my mouth clean of yucky stuff I might want to say at any given moment :).

The Color Gray

A writing assignment on "color" written on a gray cloudy day when I could find nothing good to focus on - then, as I began writing, God deposited something amazing (at least I think so :)) right in front of me.

What does gray taste like?

Bland food. Gray tastes like the stuff you eat when you have been throwing up or have the runs. Or what you taste when you have a sinus infection and can’t taste anything.

What does gray feel like?

Soft. I think of the softness of my little gray bunny, Annabelle I had when I was a kid. Or the soft feathers of a mama bird she uses to cover her eggs.

What does gray look like?

A backdrop for beauty. It is the color that serves other colors. There is a backdrop of gray today, making all the other colors stand out more than on a bright sun-shiney day. I love gray for that reason. Everything else’s color is emphasized by the soft gray color in the sky.

What does gray sound like?

It sounds like a whisper. No understandable words, just a quiet hint of communication, a gentle nudge in a general direction or a still message about a path to peace.

What does gray smell like?

Fresh. When the deep gray clouds drop rain on the earth there is a freshness that comes. The brown of the dust, the yellow of the pollen, the blackness of the soot/exhaust, all must submit to the outpouring of the gray clouds and be refresh the air we breathe.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Can you ever just be "whelmed"?

That line is in one of my favorite sarcastic movies, "Ten Things I Hate About You". It is a "modern day version of Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare". Often I am OVER-whelmed. So much to do, so little time, and depending on the day, so little energy!
However, OVER implies too much and yet according to the Bible, as a Christ Follower, I am MORE than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). What is MORE than a conqueror? That sure sounds like a lot!

So, since I am already MORE than a conqueror, then I must be able to handle being OVER-whelmed. Maybe that is the weapon the enemy of my soul (satan)uses the most in my life. It only takes 5 minutes to unload the dishwasher. How in the world could that be OVER whelming?

UNDER-whelmed only happens occasionally - when I stay up late to watch a favorite show and it ends dumb or I try a new hairstyle that looks ridiculous, or when I don't do what I love by cooking ahead for my family and have to cook out of a box, now THAT is UNDER-whelming!

So maybe, like with the task of unloading the dishwasher, if I just DID what I need to do instead of contemplating for an hour how OVER-whelmed I am, maybe, just maybe I might find out what it is like to just be "whelmed"! :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How do you see the Cross? Part 1

A few years ago my pastor preached a series on this subject. Easter Sunday morning the concept came flooding back as I was contemplating the Cross.

I think there are three places we can be in relation to the Cross.

First, we can see it from a distance… twenty or so yards off… highlighted against a brilliant sunset or a dark cloudy day - that shape can’t help but draw our attention. We acknowledge that it exists, we know what happened on it and we might even know it is empty but we just can’t seem to approach it. Whether our feelings of inadequacy, the shame of sin - current or distant past, or just our fear of what it would mean to acknowledge our need for more than ourselves - we just can’t seem to get there.

But there is a way….

Second, we stand or kneel or even lie face down at the foot of the Cross. We are overwhelmed by our sin, inadequacies, continual failures that just reflect how damaged we are. We are devastated by how undeserving we are of Christ’s death to save us. We believe that only humble repentance at the foot of the Cross can really save us from our despair and the damage that has been done to us or that we have done to others. We can’t seem to leave the foot of the Cross.

But there is a way…

Third, we can walk beyond the Cross to the other side. Leaping forth into what the empty Cross represents. Putting to death the old and embracing the new. Reaching for the abundant life promised to us by the only One who could love us enough to die on that Cross. On the other side of the Cross we are bound for our destiny on this earth while grasping the truth that we are seated with Him in heavenly places.

This is the way!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Training...

We are all in training. What are we training for? What is the thing we spend most of our time doing? Cleaning? Reading? Watching TV? Working? Playing?

I have a few friends training for this year’s Ironman Triathlon in Coeur d’Alene. One friend in particular is a woman for whom I have tremendous admiration and respect. I asked her about what her training looks like and this is what Alicia said:

My workouts consist of 6 days a week of training. I can either have one, two, or three workouts a day.
-I train in the pool 3 days a week and log anywhere from 1 to 2 miles each session (about an hour to hour 1/2) during those swims I focus on technique and do different drills to increase my speed and my strength. It is really relaxing and I love it! Before last year I really didn't know that I was a good swimmer, I never really knew how to properly swim. So last year we signed up for classes and learned how and we have been swimming ever since. My dad swam on his high school swim team and apparently that gene runs in the family. Luckily for me! I'm hoping to swim at least an 1:20 on race day. That would make me very happy.

-I run 3 days a week. I started out really small and could only do 5 minute jog with a 2 min walk...then repeat for about a total of 20 min. Now I can jog up to 14 miles :-) but on a normal day right now I usually run about 5-8 miles. Running is the hardest for me. I can't seem to get beyond a 10 minute mile which is frustrating when you know others can run 8 minute miles. It just doesn't come naturally and it hurts me the most of all of the 3 sports. I want to love it but so far I don't. I just have to endure it to finish the race. But there are days when I have a good run, and that feels great!

-I ride my bike 3 days a week. I have been riding during the cold weather inside on my bike on my stationary bike trainer while watching "Ellen":-) I ride anywhere from one to two hours focusing on drills, speed and strength. Recently we have been getting out on the road. We have been out on the Ironman course in Hayden which is very hilly and intimidating for me but I get out there and conquer the hills so I know I can do it on race day. We have also been doing hill repeats which is when you ride up a hill for a specific amount of time (5 min.) and then ride back down, and then do it again several more times. It's really painful but it builds strength and I'm gonna need it.

She also meets weekly with a trainer to keep her on track with her goals in preparation for race day. The trainer is a woman and a mother also, so she provides encouragement and support specific to Alicia’s needs.

I asked for her schedule to add insight into what I think I am hearing from the Lord on this.

How committed am I to the things He has asked me to do? Looking at Alicia’s schedule reminds me that there is a great deal of discipline involved in training. Sometimes it feels good and natural, like when she talks about her swimming. I love that she refers to her Dad’s swimming experience. Our Father also has so much experience in what we are going through – right? Didn’t Christ become one of us?

Training isn’t some rut -like routine you get into and keep doing it until you land on success. It takes drills, technique, speed, and strength. It is going beyond what is hard even though you don’t love it (all the time), knowing at some point it will feel good. No, it’s not all about how it “feels” but let’s face it - that makes a big difference! And how many times do we feel like we are doing “hill repeats”? Yikes! I think some days are so full of them I will never get off the hill!!

I am in training, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. I need to meet with people who know me and my life circumstances and will encourage, support, and keep me on track for this, my race of life.

Physically: Consistently choosing to value my body by what I do with it like, exercise, play with my kids, etc., putting healthy stuff in it ;), dressing appropriately, attending to my face, teeth, and hair etc.

Emotionally: Consistently seeking balance in my responses to the situations and circumstances that happen every day. Seeking the Lord to provide for places I feel lack in my emotional needs.

Mentally: Consistently improving my capacity to learn. This includes reading the Bible, other quality material, scripture memorization, etc.

Spiritually: Consistently practicing basic Biblical principles of repentance, forgiveness (keeping my “slate” clean in relationship to Christ and others), and choosing to live in the fruit of the Spirit and not my own fleshly judgments and attitudes.

If my friend Alicia didn’t train consistently she would not be prepared for the Ironman race. She might meet her goal of finishing, but it would be a struggle for sure. Consistency can make all the difference in so many aspects of our lives.

When I focus on CONSISTENTLY doing all of those things; my ability to fulfill all God has called me to is MUCH easier. Just like training for the Ironman Triathlon, I can move effectively in all 3 areas of my lifelong race: 1)My relationship with Christ 2) My relationships with my family 3) My relationships with my friends and others God places along my path.

I don’t want to finish the race God has called me to stumbling, staggering, moaning all the way, I want to say what Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians verse 24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” The way to get the prize is consistent training. This is the race of my life.

Will I barely finish or will I be able to do what I know my friend Alicia will do, finish the race, head held high, knowing I did everything I could to train for the final event.

And the verse that brings tears to my eyes on this subject:
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” Acts 20:24
Let us not lose sight of the call on our lives – to testify to the Gospel of God’s grace! ALL the time. In my marriage, home with just my kids, at the gym, in the grocery store, at church, meeting someone new, there are endless opportunities to testify to the Gospel of God's grace.

Maybe I will have those bumper stickers made up after all “Imperfection required for Grace – ask me how I know!”

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What kind of music is playing in your world?

This last week sounded like Jr High band practice. Ever had a week like that? Everyone is trying to be confident in what they are playing but really, it just gives you a headache.

During this season of my life the Symphony seems miles away and the soundtrack to my world plays like a "random shuffle" on some crazy person's Ipod. Jr.High band practice, Christian rock, country western (when I am feeling sorry for myself), definitely a little grunge, and maybe some days I will admit to a little pop music.

But, here's the deal, am I OK with that?

Our small group met last night and talked about vision casting for our future. Personally, financially, and as families. I shared about my week last week. Three different illnesses of the same sort but not presenting the same, one late night trip to the ER, and a cabinet full of assorted medicines to combat further incidents. My vision was impaired by my circumstances.

I do have a vision for my future as a woman, a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I will save that for a further blog... but because of who I am I want to envision my soundtrack for each of those aspects of my world as well.

When I listen to Matt Redman something happens in my heart. I identify with his relationship with Jesus. His latest CD "We Shall Not Shaken" (the title song)has been the anthem of my days. The kids and I dance and pray and sing along declaring aloud that we will not be shaken by what we see. And yet sometimes I am.

The Jr.High Band plays and I become scattered, distracted, and aggravated by the smallest things. The solution - MORE WORSHIP! The only thing that can dislodge the crazy shuffle of tunes on the Ipod of my life is fixing my eyes on the Author and Perfecter of my life, the lives of my family, and the lives of my friends.

Blessings, and may your Jr. High Band play infrequently only when you have a Jr. High student and you have to take them to practice!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What if being a mom was an Olympic event?

I just watched Shaun White win the gold medal on his score from his first run of two trips down the half pipe in Olympic Snow Boarding. His second run was purely for fun since he had already clinched the gold.
Shaun White is not just an athlete. He is an athlete who LOVES what he does. His focus, determination and willingness to stretch beyond the regular stunts to be on the cutting edge developing new tricks indicates he is always working hard for excellence and beyond.
So, when faced with taking a second run after his first score secured him the Gold Medal, Shaun White did what he has trained to do, go beyond excellence (his first score) and do something no one has ever seen before. As he slid up and down each side of the half pipe feet above the rest of his competitors, making all the “required” tricks look routine and simple, he finished with the newest and biggest trick he had just created. The stage was not perfectly set, he didn’t have ideal speed to accomplish the stunt with effortless flair, but he did it anyway. An accomplished and proficient athlete, he muscled through the new stunt for the love of the sport and the chance to show the fans something extraordinary.
I thought to myself, “If all I had to do was focus on one thing for two decades, I could be pretty amazing at it too!”
Then the still small voice in my spirit speaks, “That is exactly what you are doing as a mom.”
There are no medal ceremonies every four years, but it would be wise to check my growth as a mom, my weaknesses, my strengths, and what fruit is being produced by the little ones I have been given at least once every four years.
You see, the gold medal is already around my neck. The Gold Medal of my identity in Christ and my Salvation is irrevocable. So whether I just slide up and down the half pipe of life, parenting one day at a time, moving through the usual maneuvers with steady skill, or whether I throw my whole heart, personal flair, enthusiasm, energy and divine drive into each jump, twist, turn, and spin, the Gold Medal remains.
My children will become who they become. I trust the Lord with the outcome of their lives knowing He loves them much more than I do (and yes, this is much easier for me to say while they are all under 6 years old).
My job as their mom is to do what the Lord requires of me; to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8) So, not that I have already obtained all this (understanding what it looks like in day to day life) or have already been made perfect (I am not going to always do it “right”) but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers (and Sisters) I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it, but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (if Shaun White had focused on every fall he would have never invented and extraordinary new trick or excelled at his sport). I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me Heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:12-14)
I have my Coach, I have my team mates (my husband and other brothers and sisters in Christ), and I have competitors (distractions that would cause me to lose focus, challenge my stamina, and attempt to undermine my God given creativity and drive). Someday I will stand atop the podium, with my Gold Medal hanging from my neck, arms lifted high in worship and praise as my Coach says to me, "This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17)

Who am I?

My photo
I have been married to my best friend for over 26 years and our children are 14, 13 and 10 years old. I have struggled with infertility, suffered the loss of a baby by miscarriage, and endured multiple career paths. I have experienced a crisis of faith that shook me to the core and lost dear friends to tragic death. I have a personal relationship with Jesus which is essential to surviving and even thriving in my circumstances. I hope you will be blessed by my heart and words. Thank you for being here..