Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Heard the Bells

The snow fell heavily on the man as he walked slowly back to his cold, dark house. No one would be there to welcome him in, no fire in the fire place, no food on the table. He wrapped his coat around him tighter, but the cold had already settled into his heart. Tears blurred his vision and he swallowed hard past the tightness in his throat. The past few years had been Hell on earth and the future held nothing but more sorrow, war and death.

He thought about his time with his young son who lay in the infirmary, wounded from a gun shot wound while in battle. He thought about his young wife who lay cold and dead in the church cemetery. And He thought about the emptiness of this Christmas compared to Christmases he'd had in the past. This one was void of any joy, happiness, or song.

The sorrowful fellow made his way to his wife's final resting place, the weight of the world resting firmly on his shoulders. Past the church doors, through the wrought iron gate, down the small hill to a tombstone dusted with snowflakes. Kneeling down he kissed the stone marker. Oh, how he loved her. Oh, how he loves his son. Oh, how he hated this world and the grief that came with it.

The darkness descended upon his mind like a heavy, malevolent mist. He muffled his sob against the wool gloves. Would this pain ever go away? Would this war ever end? Would there ever be hope again?

The snow silenced all the noises surrounding him. All he could hear was the ticking hand on his pocket watch tucked into his breast pocket. His tears dried crusty on his skin and he realized the town was fast asleep.

The church bells rang out announcing Christmas morning had finally come. The bells broke forth into a melody of carols. And as they rang loud and clear the despair only sunk in deeper to the man's heart. How could there be peace when there was so much hate? How could he sing of good will when there was nothing good in this world.

But the bells didn't cease. They continued to sing their songs of praise to God on high. And as they rang the old man listened.

Peace on Earth, Good will to men.

Peace on Earth, Good will to men.

Peace on Earth, Good will to men.

Those words were first spoken to a flock of sheep and scared shepherds. In a dark and weary land there had come One who would bring peace to this earth and true good will to men. A baby was born that would bring peace between God and men.

Though I put him in a fictional setting the man was real and so were his tragedies. He lived from 1807-1882 and went by the name of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote the poem that later became the song "I heard the Bells on Christmas Day" on December 25th, 1864, a few months before the Civil war ended.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day.
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men.

And the bells are ringing
like a choir singing
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on Earth, good will to men

I heard this song sung by Casting Crowns last Christmas when I was facing a war I never thought I'd face, a crisis I thought I was some how protected from. The world as I knew it had come crumbling down as I stood helpless and hopeless and feeling very much like a little girl lost.

As I listened to that song a line hit me hard:

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail,the right prevail.
With Peace on earth, good will to men.

So here we are in 2010, still in a war that started in 2001. So many heroes have died this year-heroes of this nation and heroes of the Faith. Husbands and wives have left each other and left their children to fend for themselves. Abuse, suicide, murders and so much more...

And what does this depressing blog have to do with Christmas?


It is because of all these things that God sent His Son to this earth in the form of a small baby boy.

What Longfellow realized after sinking into despair was that God saw the crushing devastation that was on this earth and was not asleep or ignoring the cries of this world. He saw all that was and what would continue to be if He did not intervene and save us.

That is what Christmas is all about. Its not about who gets the best presents or the most presents, white Christmases, Bing Crosby or Holiday Inn :). Those are all fun things to enjoy but we must realize that Christmas is really about the beginning of a Sacrificial Life that would be lived sin free and end in an incredibly painful death on our behalf.

By the end of the poem Longfellow saw Christ's birth for what it was: a bringing of peace on earth between us and God and extension of His good will to us by saving us.

I don't know what sadness haunts you this Christmas, maybe its nothing at all. I know for me this Christmas is easier then last year at this time. It is no longer the blissful Christmas I remember from growing up, free from troubles and all about Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney dancing in White Christmas. I still love those old movies but this season has gone much deeper for me after this year.

This season speaks about God, who didn't forget the Covenant He made with Abraham, and chose the perfect time to send His beloved Son to live on this earth, resist the temptations of this fallen world, to show His love to people who would kill Him if they could get their hands on him and did just that. Easter is about the death and resurrection of Christ, Christmas is the day He became a human to save us.

So, this season I hope and pray your Christmas will be a one filled with the knowledge of what God did to save you and that your heart will know just how much He longs to extend that Peace and Good Will to you.
Blessings to you!

*Check out Casting Crowns singing this song on Youtube. Awesome song. Merry Christmas!

Friday, September 25, 2009

This Treasure in Jars of Clay

This past year and a half my life took a turn I never expected and ended with my parents moving away for a year. This whole last week has been tumultuous emotionally as I prepared for thier departure. On the one hand, I'm excited that my parents get this much deserved and needed rest, on the other hand my heart aches from missing them so much. They have been an integral part of our lives for the past nine years there is a big empty hole left in our hearts by their absence.There have been times I've been tempted to climb into my bed, pull the covers over my head and wait till next September when they come back.

But I can't do that.

Sunday morning as my dad spoke about pruning the Lord spoke to me as well. I am being pruned in different ways from my dad, but it is pruning nonetheless. I knew that at that moment I could choose how I wanted to react to the pruning. I could kick and scream, cry and yell, pout and complain about the process.


I could lean into it. I could trust the Lord and what He is doing in the life of the church body, my parent's lives and my own family's life as well. Our Heavenly Father is the Great Multi-tasker. It always amazes me to see how many lives and the levels He is working on. Sometimes it's invisible, sometimes it's quick and miraculous, sometimes it's slow and stunted because of our refusal to allow Him to work in us. Nevertheless, He continues to work in our hearts and in our lives.

My point in writing this note is mainly for those of you who are a part of the TCF church body. Just like you, I am going through a growing time, a period of pruning that is painful, BUT I want you guys to know that Lord is holding me close, teaching me so much, and even though I am sad as I look at a year without my mom and dad, I am also anticipating what the Lord will be doing and the fresh fruit that will come of it. Sure, I have my difficult times in dealing with these things personally, BUT when I look at things from God's point of view, knowing there is a much bigger picture then what I see and that this is all for God's Glory, I have peace and His Joy becomes my strength.

It is all about Christ and I am clinging to Him with everything I have because I would be lost without Him. I have fallen apart plenty of times throughout this last year, but though I am "hard pressed on every side, I am not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed...Therefore I do not lose heart. Though outwardly I am wasting away, yet inwardly I am being renewed day by day. For my light and momentary troubles are achieving in me an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs them all. So I fix my eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."(2 Corinthians 4:8-18).

My dear brothers and sisters, please pray for my family but do not forget to Thank Jesus for what He will accomplish in all of us as we grow through this year. I will be praying for you as well and joining you at church. A couple of folks asked if I would continue to attend TCF after my dad's last Sunday and I wanted you all to know that yes I would be. It was a difficult decision at first because, to be honest, I didn't want to. My pain was too great and I really just wanted to move myself to another state. In the last month the Lord has been working in my heart and He has given me His peace that passes all understanding, to remain a part of the Trail body. Yet one more thing I have learned in all this is that He gives me the strength to take on what is in front of me that day and it is good for me to NOT jump ahead and worry. Ahh, but that is a lesson I'll share in another blog :) .

For now I will close. I love you my dear Christian family and I thank you again for your prayers for this past year and this year to come. I will see you all on Sunday morning as we gather to worship our Saviour!

In His Grip,
Kristen Parr

(Yes, I know I stole that from my dad ;) I just thought it was fitting since that's exactly where I am...in Christ's Grip!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Thank you, Mommy"

"Mom, why didn't you and dad vote for Obama?" my nine-year-old son, Logan, asked.

I sighed heavily in response because I was tired and we had just exited Walmart. It was late in the afternoon and I had other pressing matters to think about, like dinner, for instance. I tried to formulate a simple answer while navigating the parking lot.

"Well, we didn't agree with some of his ideas on economics and stuff. Oh yeah, and we oppose abortion and he supports it. That was our main reason for not voting for him." I figured that would be the end of the conversation.

I figured wrong.

"What's abortion?" was his next question.

I prayed silently and asked God for guidance. How do you describe abortion to young people? Did I want him to know what it was yet? Did I want his younger brothers and sister to know? I decided I should probably be the one to tell him since I brought it up. Besides, I didn't want him to get another nine-year-old's opinion of what it was.

"Abortion is when a doctor goes in and takes a baby out before it’s ready to be born so it will die."

Logan gasped. He sounded like he had the air knocked out of him. "You mean they just kill it?"

"Yes," I said, cringing at my own words and the mental images that flashed through my mind from pictures that I had seen in the past.

"What kind of woman would do something like that?" he asked.

"Women that don’t know any better and take the doctor’s word that it’s not really anything but a blob, not a human being. They are scared and choose to believe this lie."
I thought about these women who choose this avenue, my heart aching for the ones who honestly believed the lies told to them. But I also knew that there were those who knew exactly what they were doing and chose to do it anyway. "Others are just selfish and don’t want the baby."

Logan was angry at the thought of babies being murdered. In his young heart he knew that this was horribly wrong. Amazing sometimes how the young can see things more clearly then adults who ought to know better.

I let him stew as we continued the last few minutes of our drive. My mind had already shifted to getting dinner on the table. We pulled in front of our garage and the kids started to pile out. I gathered my stuff too and started to climb out when a small voice spoke up and stopped me dead in my tracks.

"Mom," said my six-year-old son, Trevor, "Thank you for not doing that to us."

I looked into his big green eyes that mirrored his soul. Swallowing past the lump lodged in my throat, I said, "You're welcome, babe." He gave me a dimpled grin and then scooted out of his car seat, and scampered into the house. I sat back into my seat and thought about his words.

When I was pregnant with Trevor I went through a horrible depression. Darkness cast a shadow over every thought that came into my mind. Medication I had been on for a long time was altered and it threw me into a rapidly descending tailspin. It was scary to not be able to trust my own mind and emotions. I had my husband, Josh, and two little boys depending on me to get meals on table and do laundry. Now I had another one on the way, which I prayed would be a girl. I thought that would change everything. It had to.

I wouldn't have hurt my two older boys and being pregnant prevented me from harming myself. I didn't want to be held accountable for killing my child, but my mind was reeling and I could hardly function under such a dark cloud of depression. I often cried myself to sleep when I took naps with my boys. Thankfully, Logan doesn't remember these times. He would often lay next to me, stroke my arm and in his three-year-old voice say, "It's okay mommy." Eventually we would both fall asleep. Other times I would be crying in the kitchen, sitting on the floor and leaning against the refrigerator. Both Logan and Garrett would crawl in and lay their heads on my lap. I'd listen to my dad's voice consoling me over the phone and I run my fingers through my boys' hair. After a while the Lord would calm me down so I could get dinner on the table.

I was so convinced I was having a girl that when the doctor announced it was a boy in that delivery room I emotionally turned off. I held him and kissed his little forehead, Josh told the family what his name was and everyone congratulated me. But I lay in bed, mesmerized, broken hearted, scared to be a mommy when I didn't think I had it in me. I wanted to cry but I had no more tears. There was nothing left...or so I thought.

A week later I got terribly sick with endometritis, an infection of the lining in the uterus. Josh took me and baby Trevor back to the hospital. I could hardly walk because of the blinding pain in my body. It felt like daggers stabbing me over and over again. The nurses pumped me with three bags of saline because I was so dehydrated. They asked me if I was eating or drinking water. I nodded yes, but my husband said no I hadn't been. I honestly couldn't remember. The nurses fussed over my little boy as I lay on that hard bed in a back room of the ER.

Around 3 am the hospital released me to go home with a prescription for antibiotic and more pain meds. When I look back on that night I see it as when I started to come back to life. The following week I had 24 hour care which was good for my body and heart to heal. My mis-diagnosis and medication was finally corrected. And best of all I formed a bond with my little baby boy that I couldn't have imagined before.

My point in telling this story was to share what I went through and what I would have missed had I bailed out by aborting my little boy. Yes, the entire pregnancy was tumultuous. Yes, my family suffered along with me. Yes, the physical and emotional pain was intensely difficult.

But, it was all worth it for Trevor. I don't think it was a coincidence that Trevor was the one who thanked me for not killing him. When I look at my little green-eyed boy I can't imagine life without him. He has such a tender heart, a love for the Lord, a sweetness in his soul. He's all boy one minute, running around with a sword and playing "Pirates of the Caribbean." The next minute he'll stop to give me a hug for no reason at all. Just because. I can't imagine our lives without Trevor being in the middle of it all.

That's why I am saddened for the women who choose abortion as their alternative. Not only are they murdering their babies for whatever reason they give to appease their guilt, but they are also missing out on dimpled smiles, hugs for no reasons, and a little life that would bless those around them.

I don't know who reads my blogs. I don't know if you have had an abortion. If you have and you didn't realized what you were doing come before the Lord and accept His grace. He will forgive you and He holds that child in the safety of His realm. If you have never had an abortion but know those who have or are thinking about it please pray for them. Pray for this nation and for Obama.

There is hope for you, friend, if you have done this deed. Put your hope in Christ, He loves you and will forgive everything you've ever done. He will give you a new life and wipe your slate clean. Yes, you may have the natural consequences of this act but rest assured that His blood covers your sin. You can start out clean with the same Jesus that cares for your little one right now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On Wings of Eagles

Isaiah 40:28-31
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
And his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
And increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.

This was written for the Israelites while they were in exile but it is an encouragement for us as well. Like the Israelites we often get tired of where we are in life. Life is difficult, fraught with physical and emotional pain. Or it's just plain boring.

My life is less then exciting to report. I have to laugh when someone asks what I’ve been up to because there is really nothing new that I’ve done since I had my last child. I get up every morning, fix breakfast and clean the kitchen just in time for lunch to start, and make an attempt to finish the laundry. I spend half of my day worrying about bills and how to put food on the table and the other half asking God to forgive me and thank Him when he’s done it all. Who really cares to hear about the hum drums of life? I have another 15 years at least of days just like this one.

Just like the Israelites we live one day at a time, dealing with traumas, trying to find some kind of hope in a hopeless world. Sometimes we even wonder, in our darkest moments, if our Savior has been defeated because we can’t seem to see him working in our lives. I grow weary. I grow tired. I don’t want to keep walking when every day looks like the day before and tomorrow looks like today.

A couple of years ago Josh and I were in a bad job/financial crisis and what I hadn’t noticed was my walk with the Lord was in a crisis as well. I was questioning His trustworthiness in my life. Especially when I looked around and it seemed everybody was doing well but us. People were leaving for vacations we could never afford, buying toys for their kids we could only dream of and living in big homes with room to walk around in and not step on each other. I was so frustrated with the Lord. I was weary of looking to Him for the answer, tired of walking His path when it seemed it was getting us nowhere. I was the young man stumbling and falling. I was bitter, frustrated, and angry at the Lord and at our situation.

One night I came to the end of myself. After learning the fate of a famous celebrity the reality of Hell hit home for me. I could only imagine this woman burning for all of eternity and it sent a chill down my spine. It was then that I realized that God had saved me from eternal damnation. I don't know why after 20+ years of being a christian I would finally realize what Christ did for me but that's what happened. For the first time I grasped the fact that He didn’t save me because it would be nice for my Mom and Dad’s sake or because I was the Pastor's daughter. He saved me simply because He loved me. It was His will that I live with Him for eternity and it had nothing to do with what I could do for Him or who I was related to.

I dropped to my knees on my bedroom floor weeping over my sins and thanking Him for saving me. When I stood up that night I was exhausted from crying but renewed in my spirit. My hope was no longer in the world, the superficial happenings going on around me. My hope was in Christ. It stopped mattering to me who was making the money or buying a new house or traveling to Hawaii. I was blessed simply because I belonged to Christ.

This, I believe, is what it means to be renewed in our spirit. It comes at times when I'm weary and don’t think I can take one more step in the direction he’s leading me. That’s when He reaches down, takes my hand and gently leads me on. When my hope is in the Lord I have strength to press forward even when I didn’t feel like it before. After that night I did soar like an eagle. The weight on my shoulders fell away and I could breathe again. I could walk and run and not feel the weariness that once encumbered me. In fact, spiritual truths took on new light and I looked forward to seeing what the Lord would do for us instead of be frustrated at what He was doing for some one else.

The only way to get through this life is to be renewed in the spirit, by God. So how do we go about being refreshed in this exhausting world? I don’t have an exact answer. I really don’t. Every person is unique and the Lord connects with us in different ways that meet us where we’re at. For me, I had to keep doing what I was doing. I continued to go to church even when I didn’t want to. I continued to sing the songs even though my lips were the only thing moving, my heart wasn’t in it. I can’t tell you how many times I would show up for the outside services purposely late, keep my sunglasses on so as not to make eye contact with anyone. I even toyed with the idea of going to another church for a while. But I didn’t. Usually by the end of the service I was okay enough to talk to people and have a decent conversation but it took me the entire hour and a half of the sermon to get to that point. I did this for about six months at least.

But my renewal didn’t come during a worship set, or specific group prayer time, or during a sermon. He spoke to my heart when I was alone, in my bedroom, with the background noise of the TV from the living room. The kids were sleeping and my bed had a pile of laundry on it as usual. I had no halo, in fact I don’t know if I had a shower that day. But that is where the Lord chose to meet me, reaching through the chaos of my life, to awaken my heart’s eyes to see exactly what gift he had given me. A gift of a life beyond this one, a hope for something more beautiful and magnificent then I could ever imagine having here on this earth. A hope that this wasn’t all there was to life, I actually had something to look forward to beyond the here and now.

I don’t know how or where the Lord will meet you; I only know for sure He will. He knows your heart, your inner person that he created and he knows how to intimately touch your soul and give you the strength to keep pressing forward. He may reach you during worship at church or in a small group Bible study. Your renewal may come on a tropical island or at a day retreat. Or it may come on a lonely night when you cry yourself to sleep.

But, my friend, be rest assured that it will come. On that weary path when we stumble and fall we must cling to the knowledge that his understanding goes farther than we can imagine and he never grows tired or weary of hearing our cries. He gives energy to the weary and power to the weak. He will reach down, lift our eyes up to Him and renew our strength. He will make us soar on wings like eagles, He will help us run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Little Humor Can Go A Long Way

Have you ever wondered what kids are thinking? Have you ever driven in a car with four children between the ages of 3-8? This is a real conversation we had in the car last summer:

Garrett (7yrs): Mom, did you know that dick is a bad word unless it’s a name?
Me: Yes, and since we both know that now we don’t need to repeat it.
Garrett: Okay.
Trevor (5) from the back seat: Jesus lives in my heart! Satan lives in my armpit! Jesus lives in my heart! Satan lives in my armpit!
Ellianna (3) yelling from the back seat: Stop yelling, Trevor! Everybody stop talking!
Logan (8) wasn’t saying anything, he was too busy ducking out of the way between Trevor’s arm movements and Elli’s elbows in the air because her fingers were in her ears.

If you ever see me driving and I look like I'm laughing hysterically I may be listening to another conversation like this one.

I find life is very serious most of the time and sometimes you have to find reasons to laugh, sometimes those reasons come to you in a car. I'm naturally bent towards a more pessimistic attitude and I find it extremely difficult to see a bright side of anything in life. This way of thinking throws me into a depressing funk and it's very difficult to 'turn my frown upside down'. Thankfully I married a man who is happy and when he sees me falling apart he tries to help me see life from another perspective, a more uplifting one.

Life really is hard and if you disagree then you are probably young, healthy and unmarried :) Just kidding. Seriously, though, life is difficult at times and the hardest thing you can do is find humor in anything you're doing. During those times I have found humor to be my best medicine. This is the reason Josh and I collected all ten seasons of Friends and now are working on Scrubs and The Office. Watching these shows together bonds us, actually, its the laughter that bonds us. Later when we are having a difficult day one of us will make a quote from a show and the other one will laugh. We know these shows are silly and definitely not family viewing, but sometimes when life seems more difficult then what we can handle we turn to something uplifting.

Growing up I had a friend with a large family. Their house was always in chaos and her mom had a different schedule then my family. When my sister and I would spend the night we would make 10:00pm trips to the store for groceries. Kelly and I had no idea anything was open past 8:00 since we were all tucked in and the house locked down for the night at that time. It was so much fun to make Cinnamon rolls or chocolate chip cookies at midnight if our little hearts desired it and it was okay to make a mess and then clean it up...the next day. But I have to say my favorite thing about this mom was her contagious laughter. It is my mental picture her laughing in hard times and fun ones that has stuck with me as I raise my children. There have been those days when I could either laugh or cry and I laugh instead, much to my children's relief.

Life is messy, chaotic, funny, monotonous, devastating, crushing, you fill in the blank. You will feel each of these things at some point of your life. But you can also find something that will make you laugh. Please don't think I'm contrived or pithy. My life has been especially hard this past year but God is good and I believe He knows our need for humor in life. He knows its important to laugh, it actually affects our minds and emotions and has the ability to relieve pent up stresses.

Laughter is a wonderful gift to us. So next time you're driving a vehicle with children in it turn off the radio and listen to their conversations, or sing with them at the top of your lungs to an upbeat song. Rent a silly movie or sitcom and laugh hysterically with your special someone. Get into a tickle fight or giggle just for the sake of giggling. Try to find humor somehow in your life. You need to do it. Besides, it's more fun then crying :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Hypocrisy in Me


"Hello?" I asked breathlessly after I lunged for the phone before my daughter could answer it.

"Mom? It's me, Logan." My oldest son's voice didn't sound so great and I knew what was coming before he asked. "Can you pick me up from school? I don't feel so good."

"Yeah, honey. I'll pick you up in a few minutes." We hung up the phone and I added this one more thing to my already long list of things-to-do. Actually, the only thing on the list was Costco but when I bring children with me that one trip is all I can fit on the list.

After I picked him up from school I asked him what was wrong.

"Well," he began, "When we came in from recess I got really hot and my back hurt and then I felt sick." Looking back I should have known it was probably just dehydration and overheating. But for some reason I didn't think of it at the time.

After Costco Logan and I headed over to the doctor's office. I had a sneaky suspicion that we didn't need to go but we went anyway. Sure enough Logan had perked up considerably and described in great detail how he felt. The doctor confirmed what the nurse said earlier when she ushered us into the room. He was dehydrated and needed to drink water and take it easy in the heat. My heart was both elated that nothing was seriously wrong and also chagrined that I had just forked up twenty dollars for something that could have been cured by a bottle of water.

After the doctor left the room I looked at Logan and said half-jokingly, "Honey, you need to take care of yourself so we don't have to spend twenty dollars on seeing the doctor." As the words left my mouth my conscience yelled, "Hypocrite!!"

Later I apologized to Logan for putting money before him and his needs. I felt awful.

I realized I had been doing the exact same thing for the last several years. So many times I ended up in the doctor's office asking for a antibiotic, anti fungal, anti...whatever. You name it, I'm on it. Or so it seems at times. I have been battling the same medical issue for nearly three years and it has cost us numerous twenty dollar payments. Why? Because I haven't been diligent about keeping close watch on my diet, I haven't stayed on some of the meds I should have been on, and the list goes on. The consequence of my "splurging" is an unhealthy body, poor self-esteem, and a sense of failure because I've never been able to stick to the one thing that would keep me healthy and vibrant for my children.

Hypocrisy is a funny thing. Sometimes we don't even realize that our actions and words counter-act each other. Another day not too long ago my six-year-old looked up at me with big eyes watching the shove a "treat" into my mouth. With all sincerity, sweetness and inability to say his "r's" very well he said, "I thought you were trying to lay off the sugar."

Ouch! He was right. My children watch me say one thing one day but do something else entirely different on other days. What am I teaching them?

The last thing I want to teach my children is that they can say one thing at church or to friends and then act entirely different when nobody is watching. What a horrible lesson to teach my children.

My dad is a pastor of a church here in the Valley and over the years I have had many people ask me if he is the same at home as he is in the pulpit. The answer has always been "Yes!!!" I love my dad and respect him so much because he truly loves the Lord when he's alone or when he's surrounded by the congregation. When he comes home from church on Sundays he is still the same man of God, except a little sleepier. I used to take that for granted, assuming every pastor is the same at home as he is at church, but as I grew up I realized integrity is more rare than I thought. For that reason I respect my dad much more because he sets an amazing example of walking in Faith. I want to be like him when I grow up!

I want my children to respect and love me for that same reason. I want to set an example of doing what I say I'm going to do. I want to lead by example, not just preach at them about what they ought to do. I don't want them to remember me stuffing a doughnut in my mouth and then mumble to them, "Now don't each sugar, children. It's very bad for you." That's like telling your children not to smoke while you light one up. Most children will do what they see their parents doing. I would much rather show them instead of just telling them what it looks like to live a hypocrisy-free life. In my writing class we are constantly being told to show the scene and not just tell it. That goes along with real life too!

The older I get the more I love Jesus. Maybe its the trials I am forced to walk through, maybe it's the realization that life offers no hope outside of Christ or maybe it's a little of both. Whatever the reason, I really have fallen more in love with my Saviour. But I do wonder at times....

Do my children see that love for Christ or do they merely see a woman with multiple personalities that present themselves differently in separate situations?

My prayer is that I will follow the example of Christ and of my dad, by being a woman after God's heart in actions and in words, written or otherwise.

One thing's for sure, I have a really long way to go...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Soul Sifting...

Tonight my little girl melted down at bedtime. It had been a long day of playing hard with cousins and friends and her little soul couldn't take anymore.

I tried to coax her into her Alyssa's room with promises of letting her sleep downstairs with her big brothers the following night. But she kept crying. Next I tried the tough mom act of telling her, "You better be in this bed by the count of three. One, Two..." Still more tears fell down her cheeks. I looked into her sleepy, blue eyes and I wondered how I would get my exhausted four-year-old daughter to calm down and rest. I said a quick prayer under my breath before I began a new tactic.

I realized at that moment that Ellianna needed me to hold her, she just didn't know it yet. I wrapped her blankie around her and spoke softly as I picked her up and brought her to the bed. Her response? She cried harder and tried to escape from my arms. But I continued to be gentle with her despite the tears. I asked if she would like me to lay down with her and she nodded her head yes.

I helped her snuggle down under the covers and then lay down next to her. Her wails calmed to quiet whimpering as I wrapped my arms around her small body and cuddled with her. We prayed together, I sang her a song, I kissed her forehead and soon those deep blue eyes could no longer stay open. Her heavy lids closed and she stopped moving around. I kissed her and then tip-toed out of the room.

I am sad to say that this was the first time in a very long time since I laid down at bedtime with her. The last several months have been busy with so many different things to occupy my mind and heart. I have been slacking off in many ways in my parenting because I thought other things needed to be done first or I deserved to have some down time since I was with the kids all the time.

The truth is those were just excuses for me to play on the computer or be swept up in a story that kept my mind off of my reality. I've let the house fall around my ears, laundry pile up and leave dishes stacked in the kitchen all for the sake of keeping my facebook status updated! I'm so ashamed to even write this because I'm embarrassed of my selfishness over the last year.

I knew the time had come to break this habit and decided when I visited my sister and her family I would take a reprieve from my Internet addiction. I wanted to spend the week talking with Kelly, playing with the kids and making memories. My first day I was so happy to not be chained to the computer. Over the past several days I have laughed at the cute antics of my three-year-old nephew, shared hugs with my children and I had a sweet talk with my nearly ten-year-old son, Logan.

And I haven't missed facebook or twitter once. For the first time in a long time I had a major reality check. I think the accumulation of difficult events in my life plus the death of an amazing christian man have shaken and rearranged my priorities drastically. I have had to take a hard look at my life and realize that what I say and what I do are sometimes different things. I say Jesus is top on my list but I don't spend as much time reading His Word as I do reading a Dean Koontz novel. I say my husband and children are second and third on my list but I don't clean the house for them, I haven't been good at cooking meals for them and I don't tuck them into bed much anymore.

So what are my priorities really? I have to say honestly that I'm first on the list...at least, that's what my actions say.

The truth is Jesus and my family really are top on my list, but my actions have begged to differ. So now I need to make up for lost time. I need to show my family that I love them more then anything else in this world. I want to do the same for Christ.

I must say this has been a wonderful week for me. I left home weary and needing to reevaluate my life. Now I realize I don't want to miss chances to show Christ's love to others; I don't want to miss fun adventures with my children; I don't want to miss living a full life with my husband.

And I really don't want to miss anymore bedtime snuggles with my little girl...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thoughtful insights on Sleepless Nights...

It's 12:30 in the morning and I should be snuggled up next to my husband dreaming sweetly of sugar-plumb fairies.

But I'm not. I can't sleep...obviously. Instead, I'm sitting at my computer pondering a not-so-funny comedy I watched and regretting the sugar binge I indulged in. I figured I should write down my thoughts now instead of tomorrow morning when I'll most likely wake with an intense dairy/sugar hangover. Thank goodness it's a Saturday and I don't have to get up too early.

Tonight I watched He's Just Not That Into You. I don't know why I watch these chic-flick, dramedy movies. The movie was such a sad commentary of what people are doing out there to find someone who will love them. There was the desperate-for-somebody-to-love-me girl that made a fool of herself for any man in hopes to find a mate. There was the sexy yoga teacher who falls for a man who is married but obviously doesn't care about destroying another person's life as long as she gets what she wants. Next up was the couple who break up in the beginning because after living together for seven years he still doesn't want to marry this woman that he professes to love. There's the issue-ridden wife who's married to the aforementioned man who has shacked up with the yoga teacher. There's the editor of a gay magazine trying to get a date with a man and can't seem to find a good one. Oh yeah, there's also the bar tender who uses women and seems like a jerk but somehow turns into a good guy a little later on. Then there's the other man that is also sleeping with the yoga princess and thinks he's madly in love with her.

Confused yet? I sure was.

I came away with two thoughts prevalent in my mind.

1) I'm so thankful I'm not in the dating scene anymore. Marriage is difficult but so is going out on blind dates and whatnot. If I'm ever tempted to wish I were single again I will call this movie to mind and thank my lucky stars I'm not trying to find that special someone in bars and clubs who will love me for me.

***Note to my much loved single friends: I'm not trying to poke fun or make anyone feel bad for going on dates. The truth is the enemy loves to taunt married women on a bad day that thier lives would be so much better if they were single again, able to go out with friends and breathe a little excitement into what becomes a rather dull life at times...
***Another note: I do believe the enemy taunts the single girls too with the lie that they can only be happy or useful if married and with children. That is simply NOT true. Some of the women I respect the most are single and living for Christ regardless of being in a relationship or not...

and on that note lets go on to...

2)All of the relationships the movie portrayed were immensely depressing fabrications of what true love really is. Each and every couple was looking out for numero uno. None of them cared about the other person involved or those who would be hurt because of their decisions. The yoga instructor didn't care that this man's wife would be shattered to know of her husband's infidelity and she didn't care for her other male friend with whom she would fool around with when her chips were down. She would use him over and over again.

This world has love all upside down. Love means sacrificing yourself for the good of the other person, even if it hurts you or kills you in the process. Love isn't all about happy, giddy feelings and running hand-in-hand through fields as the sun sets and the credits role. There's a reason most good romantic movies end when the couple kisses, its because after that kiss you have to start the real work. After the pastor announces the bride and groom as Mr. & Mrs, the rice is thrown in the air, and the happy couple arrives home from their honeymoon the real work of love begins.

True love is not expressed on the wedding day as much as it is on the days when the entire family comes down with the stomach flu and you have to clean the bathroom after your spouse throws up.
~Its expressed on the days when the paychecks are low and another baby is on the way and instead of blaming your husband for what you don't have, you thank him for working so hard for the family.
~Its expressed when the doctor diagnoses cancer and the husband must take care of his wife over several grueling years.
~Its expressed in the everyday life of making dinners and doing laundry.
~Its expressed in the most heart-breaking moments of grief
~It's expressed in the joyful tears when the baby you've been trying for finally arrives.
~Its the kind of love that sees you through the tears, the laughter, the joy and sorrow, the hard years and happy years.

There is an amazing singer/songwriter named Andrew Peterson. He has written a beautiful, heart-breaking song called "Love is a Good Thing." I can't hear it without crying because it's the most honest song I've heard about love. I'm going to check out whether or not I can print the lyrics to it before I do so but if you haven't heard it I recommend reading or listening to it. He describes love in it's most difficult times as well as in the good times, but regardless of how hard it is it's still a good thing to do.

True love is sacrificial, it's the laying down of one's life for another, in the good times and bad. Sometimes Josh and I will look at our wedding pictures and we'll chuckle and ask "what were we thinking?" We weren't thinking too much. We were young, idealistic, selfish, stubborn, spoiled (that was me) and armed only with many prayers from our parents and other couples who knew better then we did. Sometimes in my lowest moments I have to remind myself of what the Lord has done in my life over the last eleven years. Over the years He has shown me what love really looks like so that I can spot the counterfeit when I see it. That counterfeit is usually from movie-land and comes in different shapes, sizes, and stories, but its fake all the same.

Don't get your ideals of love from Hollywood or books, don't take relationship advice from people who don't know what true love looks like...

...and don't forget the ONE who is love personified in every way imaginable. He is died to show you what love really looks like and He did it while we still hated Him.

Now that's True Love!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Day's Legacy

Have you ever wondered how your obituary will read?

Sometimes I think about it. Sometimes I wonder what kind of things will be said about me. Will I be remembered as:
A good mom?
A sweet wife?
A faithful and kind daughter, sister, sister-in-law?
A lover of Jesus?

I would hope to be known for all these things, but more then anything I would want to be known for living a life on fire for the Lord. I read an obituary today of a friend who graduated last Saturday. I was amazed by the things this young man accomplished and I cried as I read it. I cried because this man will be missed and because he was so dedicated to the Lord. At the age of twenty-five this young man had done more in his life for Jesus then I think I have in my thirty-two years.

Now, I know my life has gone in a different direction then his did. He had a call on his heart by God to reach people for Jesus. I am not called to be a missionary, I am called to be a wife and mom and writer. But what struck me was that whatever Daylon Harrington set out to do he did it with passion. Whether it was skiing down a snow capped mountain, dancing across a ballroom floor, or flying a plane to different countries he did it to the glory of Christ.

I had to ask myself, do I do that? Do I passionately enter into what the Lord puts in front of me to do, however joyful or difficult the circumstances may be? Do I live my life so abandoned to Christ, letting every word I speak or write honor Him? To be honest, no I don't. Not completely.

I look at the things I let occupy my mind and arrest my attention that don't really matter. When I die will very many people be moved by the size of my hips? Sounds pretty silly in light of eternity, huh? Will people remember me as a woman who loved Jesus and her family or will they remember me as a woman who entangled herself with the world, forgetting who she was in Christ? I'll tell you what, over the last couple of years the Lord has been showing me just how unimportant the values of this world are. What Jesus tells us is important, the world tells us its not. In the world's eyes my life looks like a waste. But my life isn't governed by this world...

Or is it?

I am frequently forgetful when it comes to the importance of Christ and I let the world tell me that I should be living for me, myself, and I.

But then something happens in my life, like the death of a wonderful, godly man, and I'm allowed a brief glimpse of Heaven and its KING. My earthly thoughts are shattered and I am reminded of how short and meaningless this life is without Christ. My priorities are shifted once again and I am reminded that my life lived fully for Christ matters in eternity, not the distractions this world has to offer.

Someday my life will begin in the next realm and end in this one. I don't know if it will end in a nanosecond like Daylon's or if it will be years of trusting Christ through an illness like my friend, Shari. Whichever one, it is my prayer is that my obituary will read like the theirs did and my life will be one lived fully, passionately, and lovingly for my Savior.

How will yours read?

Thursday, May 21, 2009


The wind blew coldly across the large Canadian lake, skimming the top of the water and rippling it in the process. My sister, mom, auntie, cousin and gramie huddled under a heavy blanket in the back of the boat, ready for the hour long journey it would take to get back to the campers and trucks we had left at the docks two weeks earlier. Papa started up the boat and the roar drowned out all voices. As he shifted into gear and accumulated speed the back of the boat sunk lower into the water. The canvas covered our heads but the plastic windows didn't offer much of a view, nor did it offer much blocking of noise. After a while we adjusted to the drone of the motor.

After we docked the men jumped out of the boat and began unloading baggage and food. The women and kids were left in the boat. They probably figured it was safer for us to be in the boat then running wild on the docks. Besides, the trucks would need warming up and there would be bustling around until then. Not a good place for little people to be underfoot. After a few minutes Kelly and I needed to use the restroom. Gramie said she would take us up to the little restaurant/cafe on top of a muddy hill. So the three of us, bundled in our warm woolen coats hiked the hill together, listening to one of Gramie's stories about a cat and a prince.

On the way back down to the boat we carefully walked the rough road, hopping over puddles and trying not to slide in the mud. As we walked onto the dock I decided to show off. I called out,

"Hey Gramie, I can walk backwards with my eyes closed!"

"That's great honey," she said.

She and Kelly turned onto the next dock leading to the boat. I kept walking backwards.
My right foot stepped back then my left then my right again, but there was no more wood to step back on. Before I knew what was happening I was falling into the icy water. The water swallowed me quickly.I came back up gasping for air, the shocking cold had knocked the air out of me. My wool coat soaked up the water fast and became too heavy for me. It pulled me back under the surface. I opened my eyes and could see only a muddy haze and what looked like ground going up to the shore. But I didn't know how to swim yet. I struggled to come up again.

When my head broke the surface I heard yelling across the water. A man's voice hollered out, "Go get her, Son! Go get that little girl!" No one had seen me fall except one man standing on the shore. He was there with his two sons, fishing.

I flailed about trying to save myself or at least keep breathing. Heavy footsteps pounded the wood as two teenage boys ran to me. They couldn't reach me, I was too far from the dock. I could hear them yelling to one another. One of the boys jumped in immediately and grabbed me as I started sinking again. Pulling me to him he brought me back to the dock as the other boy reached for my hand. One lifted, the other pulled up and before I knew it I was out of the water, soaking wet and scared to death.

It's funny how memories can bring a slew of emotions to go with it. I cried through writing some of this story. Partly because I remember feeling panicked because I couldn't catch my breath and I knew I couldn't save myself. I didn't know how to swim.

The other reason I cried was from the memory of some one's voice calling for help for me, someone had seen me and was trying to get help.

That man standing on the shore knew his son could reach me faster than he could, so he sent him to get me. That boy knew that the only way to save me was to jump into that cold water with me.

And isn't that what Jesus did? Didn't His Father send Jesus because He was the only one who could do it? Didn't He jump in with us because He knew we would drown without Him there in water? No one else could rescue us except for Him and He willingly threw Himself in with us in order to do it.

I don't know the boys or the man who saved me that frigid, winter day. We never heard from them again, but that fifteen-year-old memory stays with me like it was yesterday.
Because...I remember feeling scared and desperate for someone to come save me.
Because...in the face of that desperate fear it paints an amazing picture of what being rescued is all about.

Rescue: to free or deliver from any confinement, violence, danger, or evil.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Sad Life of Margaretha Geertruida Zelle

Last night I was reading a book about spies, particularly female spies. I came across a woman named Mata Hari. Her story so intrigued me that I went on line and checked out who this woman was.

She was born Margaretha Geertruida "Grietje" Zelle on August 7, 1876. Her father was wealthy for a while and sent her to a private school. In later years he lost his money and divorced his wife. Life as they knew it fell apart and Margaretha bounced around to a couple of different relatives houses.

At age 18 she answered an advertisement for a wife written by Dutch Colonial Army officer Rudolph John MacLeod. They married and soon after moved to Java in the Dutch East Indies. The marriage was a difficult one. They lost their two year old son to complications from syphilis. They also had a daughter who would later die at the age of 21 of the same illness. Officer MacLeod was not only a violent drunk, but also had another wife as well as a concubine.

While in Java Margaretha learned how to dance the Indonesian dances and adopted a stage name of Mata Hari ("eye of the sun").

In 1903 Margaretha and MacLeod moved back to the Netherlands and divorced. MacLeod kept their daughter forcibly and wouldn't allow Margaretha to take her. After the divorce she moved to Paris and started out as a circus horse rider. In 1905 she moved on to provocative dancing in which she would proceed to strip down to barely anything by the end of the show. She took the stage name again of Mata Hari and was known for her exotic dances and flamboyant lifestyle as a courtesan. Many of the men she attended to were high ranking German and French officials. Because of her involvement with them she would often travel between countries during World War I. She was suspected of and eventually imprisoned, and executed for being a double agent. (Wikipedia is where I got my info.)

I started thinking about who this woman was exactly. She was a real woman who lived at a dangerous time and suffered real pain in her personal life. She married an abusive man, lost a child, had another child kept from her by the abusive ex-husband, and was divorced at a time when that wasn't acceptable. The rest of her life is one of an erotic dancer and courtesan who went from one bed to the next with important men in hopes to find critical information for another country or in hope of love. At age 41 she was executed by a firing squad. Only a priest, two nuns, and her lawyer were there to say goodbye to her. The ironic fact is that no one really knows if she was a double agent or not. The records from her trial were sealed for one hundred years. In 2017 they may be opened and there is a very good chance that she was framed by France and not really an agent after all.

After I read the account of her execution I was deeply saddened by her life and death. She refused to wear a blindfold or be bound. She simply stood and looked the death squad in the eyes as they each pulled their trigger. BOOM!
After she fell another soldier bent over her body and shot her once in the head as well. BOOM!

What was the point of her life?
What was the point of her death?

There is a scene in Pirates of the Caribbean Part: At Worlds End that haunts me. Elizabeth is on a ship and sees her father rowing his boat in the underworld they are trapped in. She thinks they are back to the live world because she sees him, but then realizes he is actually dead. She yells out to him, "Father!"

He says, "Elizabeth, are you dead?"


"I think I am," he says. "There was this chest, you see. It's odd. At the time it seemed so important... Silly thing to die for..."

I wonder: Does Mata Hari sit in black nothingness and question her life, thinking it was all silliness and unimportant in light of eternity in utter darkness?

I wonder if my life were to end tomorrow would I see it as a failure or an accomplishment. Would I see my life as chaff in the wind, full of emptiness and leaving nothing good for my children? Or... Would I wake on the Other Side and find that I lived my humble life the way it was supposed to be lived and the treasures I live for was really what life was all about.

It is so easy to get caught up in this world and all it's vanity. It tells us that this is the only life we get and to live it to the fullest. It tells us that is the only life that's important and afterlife doesn't matter. It tells us that this life is really all about us. But this World is wrong. Dead wrong.

There is more to this life then money and glamour, brokenness and pain. There is a Hope that is worth living for. There is a Hope that is worth dying for.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Keep your head down, but your eyes up...on the Lord

My chest felt tight and I wondered if my heart would explode if I didn't stop to catch my breath. But I couldn't stop. Not for a while yet. A deep burn traveled through my legs as I forced them to continue peddling. I glanced up to see how much longer I had to go.

Ooh, bad mistake. The top of the hill seemed even further away.

A friend rode up close behind me and yelled into the wind, "Don't look up! Keep your head down!" I nodded but didn't respond. I was too busy trying to breathe and not crash into the ditch

Sweat poured into my eyes and mingled with tears. I fought with my body and mind, forcing myself to keep going when my brain said I should give up and my body said I couldn't do this. It was too much. It cost me too much to climb this hill.

I tried to swallow but my parched throat screamed a reminder at me that there was nothing for me to gulp down. I reached for my water bottle for a long drink...and came back to reality.

And just what is my reality?

This is actually a word picture for where my life is at the moment. I'm not on a bike trip but on a life trip. A few days ago I crashed emotionally, feeling unable face the trouble in my life. I called my dear friend up and cried out to her, "I can't do this any more. It hurts too much." I knew she would understand my heart when my words wouldn't do my pain justice. Then she shared with me this scene.

The trick to riding a bike uphill is to keep your eyes up enough to see where you're going but your head down. Then she told me this is what I need to do in my life. This hill I'm climbing is long and steep. If I focus on how long it will take me to get to the top of the hill I will lose momentum. If I focus on how steep, meaning painful in this case, I will lose hope to see it through. However, if I take it one pedal at a time, keeping my head down and my eyes up enough to see the few feet in front of me, I know I'll make it to the top.

Psalm 121
I lift my eyes to the hills--
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip--
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you--
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm--
He will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shooting guns and other fun girl stuff...

This week I spent a day shooting guns.

Anyone who knows me really well will probably be shocked that I wanted to do this sort of thing. I am a girly girl. I like makeup and clothes and fashion ideas. My favorite magazine is In Style and I love to pour through it to get new ideas in how to improve my face.

You might be wondering what brought about such a change of personality or desire. Well, I'm writing a book and it involves my character knowing a lot about guns. When I asked Josh if maybe he and his friend, Robert Milton, could show me how to shoot a gun or at least let me watch he jumped on it. So on Wednesday the three of us traipsed up to Butte Falls with an M4, Beretta 9mm, Pistol 1911, a shotgun with hand grip and pump action, Josh's .22, Smith and Wesson airweight .38 special and 2 rifles, one of them was a sniper, the other resembled an AK 47, but I don't think that was the technical name for it.

Robert shot the M4 first, I wanted to watch him do it, and I was little nervous to be honest. He emptied the first round into a target sitting precariously against piece of wood. The kick kind of scared me, I don't like bruises. Then he reloaded and handed it to me, showing me the safety and how to aim using the red laser dot at the end of the scope. I didn't want to look too silly or fearful so I handled the gun like he said, resting the end into my left shoulder (I'm left handed), aimed and shot at the target.


The silence shattered as the shots echoed against mountains and trees. I stood there with this amazing weapon butted into my shoulder, gunsmoke filling the air, and rocked the power behind my forefinger. I looked at Josh and Robert and yelled (we wore earprotection so we all yelled) surprisingly (I surprised myself), "I love this gun!"

Josh and Robert started laughing and I went back to emptying the round like Robert had done. I was hooked. I shot a round with each gun, even the shot gun. I learned how to bum shoot with them as well, that was really fun. I learned the smallest gun I thought would be the easiest turned out the most difficult to aim and fire. The kick was intense on that little .38 special. I understood for the first time how a gun could be described as beautiful, the smell of spent bullets could be described as actually quite pleasant, and how big a relatively small slug can look, especially if you imagined being shot by one.

I stood transfixed by these two guys, watching them shoot up pop cans (because in Butte Falls that's what makes up most of the targets) and for the first time I understood the mystery of why guys like to shoot things.

There is a feeling of power in a gun. There is a feeling of being in control, using the gun to shoot wild game, bringing food home for the family, protecting your children and wife from intruders. I think this is what sane men desire for thier lives, a sense of control. I'm not talking about the mental cases that shoot up retirement homes, mountain retreats, or schools. There are always people out there that will take something meant for good, productive use and use it for evil deeds.

What I'm talking about are the good guys that have been raised to hunt with their dad, uncles, and grandpas in order to feed the family and share some good camaraderie as they sit around the campfire. I'm talking about the men (and women too) in the service who use weapons to protect those they love back at home.

That day I learned why guys like to shoot guns. I also learned the value of entering into something my husband truly enjoys and sharing it with him. When we dated I pretended to like all kinds of things just so I could be with him while he did it. Somewhere in eleven years of having babies and paying bills I forgot what it was like to spend an afternoon doing something he really liked. There was a friendship and intimacy shared between us in that open field with a bunch of guns that I hadn't shared with him in a long time. It was an intimacy involving us standing side by side without a word, shooting guns and simply sharing a brief three hours together.

Its funny, I went up to shoot a gun for research on a book and I came back with so much more than I expected. You don't have to shoot a gun in order to enjoy your spouse, but sometimes doing something you didn't think you'd like turns into a hobby you couldn't imagine your life without, even if you're only doing it for the one you love.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A little more about The Shack...

I feel I need to say a couple of things on this book. I am loving the topics that are being addressed, however, I am not reading this instead of the Bible. This book is a theodicy (a defense of how God can still be God and yet temporarily tolerate evil in this world) and should be read as that but not in place of the real thing, the words Jesus spoke about Himself, His Father and the Holy Spirit. The words I have been challenged by aren't ones that contradict what Jesus says in the gospels. What I have loved about this book is the subject of how much God does love us and desires to have a relationship with us and that He works outside of "the box" we so often put Him in.

This book is written by a man and, lets face it, humans can't fully understand God because He is too big and too smart for us. What we can receive from this book is that God works even in the traumatic evil of this world. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater--There are some really good thoughts and heartfelt encouragement in the chapters--just don't take your theology from it by always imagining God as an Aunt Jemima character or the Holy Spirit as a small Asian woman. The author's point of writing this book was not to show the trinity, but to show us how much God loves us even in the confusing and gut-wrenching pain we experience in life. If you read it in this light you won't get tripped up on other issues and if you really have issues with it you are always welcome to stop reading it. It just might not be the book for you at this time. I better get going...Blessings to you all.

PS You are welcome to comment or ask a question if you have concerning this book...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Thoughts on The Shack...

I find it interesting how that there are few fence-sitters when it comes to this infamous book. People are either hot or cold on the subject of The Shack. I was one of the cold people on this subject. I resented it and had no desire to read it's contents. It was only when I was in a situation in my life that I had nothing to go on, no how-to manual on dealing with a particular crisis in my life that this book was dropped in my lap. In the last three weeks of reading I have been challenged and encouraged by the heartbreakingly honest words of Mack as well as the encouragement from Jesus.

I have had so many "aha!" moments through each chapter as Mack talked with Papa, Jesus and Sarayu (the Holy Spirit). I have highlighted so many lines throughout each chapter because in one way or another I was challenged in my own heart about things I didn't think I thought. I found my self indentifying with this man.

Mack is any man, woman, or child that has experienced something difficult in life. He is the devastated parent after a death of a beloved child, an exhausted woman who knows the right answers but can't see her relationship with God anymore, and the child who finds herself devastated in a way he/she never could imagine.

This book is not for those who have never been hurt. It's not for those who don't want to be challenged in their belief of how personally connected God is to his children . This book is written for those who have experience such an immense trauma that their life has been rocked upside down and they have no idea where to turn and wonders if God sees them where they are at in life.

Last week the sentence that grabbed my eyes and gripped my thoughts was at the end of chapter 8. Mack and Papa are having a somewhat heated discussion and Mack says, "One last comment...I just can't imagine any final outcome that would justify all this." [I fill in my own heartbreak in "all this"]
"Mackenzie." Papa rose out of her chair and walked around the table to give him a big squeeze. "We're not justifying it. We are redeeming it."

I will end on that note for tonight. I'll write more on chapter nine later when I have untangled some of the mess in my mind and have allowed the Lord to talk me through some of these things that have been planted in my heart.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Elliptical Ponderings

Sweat trickled down the middle of my back. My shirt stuck to my less-than-firm tummy and the under wire of my bra. Beads of perspiration made a road map of my face and any remnants of makeup were erased. Leg muscles burned as I pushed myself harder in the quest of a shapelier shape. Five minutes on the stair stepper, five minutes on the stationary bike, five minutes on the elliptical machine, and repeat. After this I start working on the cable machine and core exercises during which I punish my body for last night’s Snickers bar. This is what I do every Tuesday and Thursday; even Saturdays if I get the chance. Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays are my ‘slow’ days in which I only do an hour of cardio and fifteen minutes of core movements.
Looking at this schedule you might think I’m a cover model for a fitness magazine, but I assure you I’m not. I’m a wife and mother of four children for the past eleven years. I managed to cram all four pregnancies within five years and if you do the math you’ll see I’ve spent half of my married life having babies. A person might think I have wasted my twenties doing nothing but have babies and gain more than sixty pounds, but I don’t feel that way. My only regret was not eating healthfully over the last decade. I am now a thirty-two-year old mother that just desperately wants to get back into her size six jeans she used to wear in college. I probably won’t wear them in public but I just want to say I can wear them again.
It is that thought that drives me to the gym at five o’clock in the morning or seven o’clock in the evening. It is the encouragement from my fellow gym rats that keeps my exhausted legs pumping on a bike that goes nowhere and offers no scenery but the woman walking in front of me on a treadmill. It’s the hope of a life beyond size eighteen pants and shopping in little boutiques instead of plus-sized chain stores for curvy women like me. But what started as a goal to lose weight has quickly turned into something a little more than I bargained for.
I never thought about the friendships I would make at the gym. I now know every girl who works behind the desk between four and nine in the morning. I am well acquainted with the personal trainer that put me on this diabolical workout plan and whenever he sees me at the gym we talk about his kids and wife or how much I’m suffering during my hour and a half workout as he smiles sinisterly. The same people come every morning and we all wave or nod a silent hello to one another as we choose our preferred method of torture.
There’s an older man with a nice smile but whose name I don’t know, that changes the television channel to CMT because he knows I like watching it. Another woman with bleached blond hair and a body that I would kill for works out on the elliptical machine next to me. She cracks me up every morning as she complains about cardio machines because she gets bored with it but needs it because she claims she has some fat on her that I have yet to see. I smile because I have no idea what to say since I see no fat peeking between her sports bra and spandex yoga pants. But I like her and her excessive bubbliness because she comments on how hard I’ve been working and swears I’ve lost weight even though the scale begs to differ. But I don’t tell her that. I just say ‘thank you’ as she takes off on another conversation with the nice man she comes in with every morning.
There’s another couple that doesn’t say anything to anyone but a few people. He is tall, muscular and formidable looking. His companion is pretty, shapely in all the right places and about as tall as he is. Another young woman comes over and talks with them and she is nearly perfect in every way. I comfort myself with the hopes this woman has probably never had children which is why her waist is maybe a size two and the implants are the reason her boobs are the right size and not sagging. I hope it’s not genetics because that would be unfair. I haven’t had the guts to make small talk with any of them yet. They remind me too much of high school, the jocks and the cheerleaders that made fun of me every chance they got.
The truth is that is the reason I didn’t want a gym membership at first. I was afraid that it would be filled with the Ken and Barbies of the world. I reverted back to the fears and trepidations of high school locker rooms. I had been the brunt of too many mean words and rude jokes to even attend my ten year reunion much less subject myself to the grown-up versions in the local gym.
What I didn’t account for were the nice, normal people I have met. Now we actually talk for a few minutes instead of the casual nod. I know some of their names and routines. I look forward to seeing them first thing in the morning. Their smiles and encouragement wake me up better than a hot cup of coffee. We are all there for different things: getting in shape, talking with friends, hobnobbing with each other; the same people at the same time on the same days. Kind of like a bar, only without drunk people and we have more energy due to the serotonin high. There’s camaraderie between us that I never counted on as we rub elbows and sweat together under the same roof.
This last week my family and I went out of town on vacation and I have to admit it was nice to get away from the gym at first. But as the days wound down and we prepared to leave for home I was surprised at how excited I was to workout with my friends again. I wondered if “Miss Perky’s” son has come home from the fire he was fighting a state away. I looked forward to seeing the desk girl again and asking how her vacation was. I thought of the older gentleman that always teases me and reminds me of my Papa when he was healthy.
Tomorrow is Tuesday and I’ll be back on my stair stepper/bike/elliptical program again, feeling very much like a hamster on a wheel. But I don’t dread the pain or ponder the future hope of fitting twelve-year-old jeans, I just think about seeing my friends, whose names I don’t remember but whose faces I think of fondly.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I am weary with life
Tired of the sadness
I can’t lift my own head up
I am sinking into madness.

I can’t get through this day without you
The minutes become hours
So pointless without you
I can’t see your power.

Sometimes I wonder if you’re really there
I wonder if you love me
When I see the pain of loved ones
The sorrow is overwhelming

But I know that you are here
In every sun that rises
In every moon that glows
In every whisper of gentle breezes

The spring is your promise
You will make all things new
You are not finished with my life
You will come again-like the morning dew

Oh Lord, draw me close to your heart
The sorrow in my life seems never-ending
Remind me of the hope you have
That this life goes beyond what can is seen.

Remind me, Lord, of who you are
Make my heart to know you
Speak to my soul, open my ears
Whisper the promises of all you will do.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who Am I?

Who am I?
I am a daughter
With a mother and father

Who am I?
I am a sister
But I wish I had been nicer to her

Who am I?
I am a wife
Through happiness and strife

Who am I?
I am a mother
To three sons and a daughter

Who am I?
I am all of these things
But most of all
I am a daughter of The King

Thursday, February 26, 2009

About Trevor...

“It’s a Boy!” the doctor exclaimed.
“What’s his name?” somebody asked.
“His name is Trevor Joshua,” Josh proudly answered. The voices drifted out of my thoughts. My heart was breaking. A boy? I thought I had prayed and begged and pleaded for a girl. Didn’t the Lord hear my prayers?
Everything else faded into a blur as they cleaned and measured him. I lay in bed in a daze as I watched the nurses, doctor and loved ones talking, congratulating and laughing. My heart sank deeper into the mire of depression that had started months earlier. An hour later everyone went home, leaving the room strangely quiet. Monitors were turned off and blood pressure cuff removed from my arm. A percocet-induced sleep finally claimed my troubled mind.
Morning light drifted through the windows waking me up from my deep sleep. The silence of the room rang in my ears after the commotion from a few hours before. Strange medicinal smells surrounded me and I gently rolled to my side in order to relieve my numb backside, wishing desperately for a shower. There was a TV on the wall across from me and my bags lay in a corner. Josh slept soundly, softly snoring in the makeshift bed next to mine. On the other side of the bed stood a gigantic wooden cupboard that I knew kept medical equipment but all were turned off and closed up to give a more pleasing atmosphere to the sanitized room.
Gazing around the room my eyes paused at the clear plastic bassinet a few feet away from me. There lay a small boy wrapped in a white blanket with a blue beanie on his head. He slept soundly and in that moment I forgot he wasn’t what I had prayed fervently for.
I eased out of my bed and gingerly walked to him. His tiny fingers were closed in a fist, pink cheeks showed a hint of a dimple, and his lips formed the perfect pout. I swallowed the tears as I gently picked him up and cradled him. He snuggled into my arms and sighed contentedly. In that moment I fell in love with the little boy I didn’t know I wanted.
The next several months I fought to come out of a depression that had been brought on by medical complications. During that time I loved Trevor even more and I saw firsthand how the Lord answers prayers. Like a good father, He gives us what we need even when we don’t know what it is. I thought I needed a girl, but God knew what I needed was this little boy whom he designed specifically for a purpose. He has a special plan for this little boy and an important lesson for me to learn.
Now that I am out of that dark tunnel I see the journey the Lord has taken me on over the last six years. And oh what a sweet journey it has been with Him and Trevor. When I pray to the Lord now I hold onto the truth that if he answers with a ‘no’ it’s because he has another, more amazing plan that I could ever imagine.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

White as Snow

Beep . . . Beep. . . Beep. I reached out and hit the snooze button for the third time that morning. My roommate groaned and rolled ever. I envied her sleeping peacefully under warm covers when I had to go to work. It was my freshman year at Bible College and I spent weekends walking the campus for eight hours as a security guard. It had been a rough year, growing in my faith in God, apart from my mom and dad’s faith. I dressed and headed down the hall to the lobby.
I pushed the door open and gasped as I took in my surroundings. The entire campus was buried in snow. No foot prints marred this blanket of purity. No mud or pavement sullied the ground. No city sounds echoed off the buildings. I was surrounded by complete tranquility. I stood still in the middle of this serene beauty and silently prayed for this peace to last forever.
The world around me appeared glorious, peaceful and pure. The air was cool and crisp and my heart felt fully alive in the midst of this magnificent splendor. The words of Isaiah 1:18 rang through my mind. “Come now,” says the Lord, “Let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet I will make them white as snow.”
When we come to the Father he washes us clean and makes us exquisitely pure. Just like the snow our hearts are peaceful and quiet. We are able to ‘hear’ his whispers in our soul because everything else fades from our minds when our hearts are fixed on Jesus.

The Hats I Wear...

Sometimes being a mom is a very difficult job to do, especially when you want to do something else. Back in October my husband asked me to get a job to help out with finances and such. It wasn't something I wanted to do at all. In fact, it scared me to death. Ten years had passed since my last job and I couldn't figure out how it would all pan out with both of us working. After a lot of talking I told him I would pray and look around. Much to my surprise I found a job and got it. I was so excited that someone found me employable that I bounced off walls for the next few days. After the nervousness wore off and I felt comfortable with my duties as a makeup artist for a department store, I found myself enjoying working outside of the home. I loved getting dressed up and talking with other adults, the artistic side of me flourishing as I painted fresh faces on tired women. They felt better about themselves and my confidence grew with each new work day.

Unfortunately, while I was excelling at work, my house was leaving little to be desired. The laundry seemed to be procreating in the basket, dirty dishes multiplied themselves in the sink and my exhausted babysitters, which were also family members, scattered when I came into the room for fear of being asked for "just one more favor, please." I was at the end of myself and quickly falling apart emotionally and physically.

Finally Josh put his foot down and said he'd had enough, I was quitting my job the following day. I wanted to fight for this job I loved so much but I had no energy to form the words for the argument. In my heart I knew it was the right thing to do but another part of me wanted to keep the more glamorous job.

Let's face it, it's easier to go to work than stay at home and be a full time mom and housewife. For the first time in my life I realized how addicting it was to be with other adults, making new friends, receiving thanks for menial jobs, and praise for something I was actually good at. The truth is, I'm not very good at housekeeping. I like having a clean home but I don't like the actual cleaning itself. Laundry is just not that creative, dish washing is mindless and cleaning the bedrooms is repetitive when you have to do it every single day, all day long. Don't even get me onto the parenting subject. Most of my sentences consist of "Don't hit your brother" and "No rear-naked-choke holds when wrestling in the house (UFC term my three boys and hubby have picked up...and tried)." This is a thankless job most of the time. But don't they say that the harder jobs are the most rewarding? I don't know who says it exactly, probably a mom. But it's true.

Yeah, I love playing with makeup. Yeah, I would love to pursue these friendships with my co-workers. Yeah, I feel like I'm letting them down by quitting so soon...but am I also letting my children down? There is a scene in Cheaper by the Dozen when Steve Martin quits his job as a coach and when asked if he would regret this decision to give up his dream job he responded, "If I screw up raising my kids nothing I achieve will matter much."

That's how I feel. If I fail at this job of being a mom and wife then nothing else will matter in my life. The four little people I come home to at the end of the day is what makes this mom hat the most important one I wear. I'm not just raising scads of children, I'm raising the next generation. What I do now will affect their little lives and what they pursue in the not too distant future.

Last night I lay in bed, feeling yucky from a cold and trying to read a book. My six-year-old son came in and asked if I was feeling any better. I said no I wasn't. He said OK and left the room quietly. I heard him as he walked down the hall towards his brothers and sister, "Hey guys, we need to pray (sounded like pway) for mom, 'cause she's not feeling good." Their playful bantering quieted down as they asked Jesus to help me feel better. Now, that's what makes all the chores, cleaning and disciplining worth doing well no matter who's watching or what accolades I don't receive.

Sure, I'll miss getting dressed up for work and socializing, but I'll make up for it when I snuggle with my four-year-old daughter and watch a Barbie movie, ooh and aah over my Kindergartner's picture he drew of us, and listen to the escapades of my two oldest boys and what they learned at school that day. It may not be an exciting career choice to some, but it's one of the most important ones I'll ever have in this lifetime.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Sales Calls and other thoughts...

I just had the most interesting conversation with a lady doing sales calls. She was selling life, health and supplemental insurance. I kept trying to get off the phone or think of an excuse to hang up on her but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. After she was finally done giving me her spiel she informed me I would be transferred to someone else who would get me signed up. Then she told me to wait, that there would be a few seconds of silence. Great, I thought, that will be my out. I’ll hang up then and not offend anyone; but before I could do so she started asking me about the weather where I was at. I closed my eyes as I realized she had no intention of letting me wait in silence. She was going to sit on the phone, gabbing at me to keep the line connected.
She’s from Illinois apparently. She described to me how bad the flooding had been there recently. She informed me that Barak O’Bama helped sandbag the Mississippi river and, by the way, did I know that presidential candidates got special agents just like the actual president. No, I didn’t know this. By this time I couldn’t help but smile and I half wondered if I was overhearing this conversation, and she wasn’t really talking to me but to a co-worker. She just forgot to disconnect me. But I wasn’t just overhearing this; she was really talking to me as if we were in the break room having coffee.
So I sat back, closed my book, and listened as she told me about her somewhat new convertible that needed rotors, carpooling with her roommate, a bridge built in 1976 closed due to the flooding, that she couldn’t wait till payday next week so she could by some food, and a hamburger sounded really good at that moment because she was hungry. I chuckled under my breath as I tried to keep up with this woman’s one-sided dialogue. I found myself actually enjoying this sales call for insurance I had no intention of buying.
Then she threw me for a loop and asked me what I did for a living. I told her I’m a mom and wife and I stay at home with my kids. Her voice softened when she replied, “Oh, that’s what my Mama always wanted to be. She always said she wanted to be like Donna Reed and just stay home with her kids, but she had to work two jobs. Today is the anniversary of her death.” My heart thudded to a stop. Her death? This was not a typical sales call at all.
The cynical part of me thought this was probably a gimmick, but then I wasn’t so sure. I was about to ask her a specific question concerning her mother’s death but didn’t have to because she offered it freely. “My Mama died of leukemia and was in the process of having a bone marrow transplant. She fought it for fourteen months before she passed on. I’m just glad she isn’t in pain anymore.” At that moment she was cut off and the insurance agent came on the line. I was frustrated that I had lost contact with the woman. I almost asked him to transfer me back to her, but I didn’t. I told him no thank you and hung up, my ears still ringing from the woman’s voice and the details of her life she shared so freely.
How many people do we come in contact with during the day, never giving a thought to them, their lives, or their families? I do it everyday, all day long. I say things under my breath at the slow driver in front of me. Then I pass the person, glance back before I pull ahead and see an elderly woman barely able to see over the steering wheel, gripping it for dear life.
I glare at the kids who step out in front of my car, not looking for traffic. Then I wonder how many times my children have done the same thing to other drivers. These kids have parents who want them home safe and sound.
As a mom and wife my thoughts are so full of my own life, chores that need finishing when I get home, a bill I forgot to pay, bedtimes, church functions. A million and one things are running through my mind and I forget about the many other people in this world. I pray for strength to get through the day when a woman from across the country has lost her mother, drives an old convertible and can’t wait for payday so she can have a hamburger.
How small is my life? What about that little old lady I sped past today? Is this her first time driving without her husband there to coach her? And the kids that walked in front of my car. What were their stories? They each have one. Maybe one was thinking of the impending divorce of his parents. Maybe the girl was wondering how she would tell her parents she was pregnant. Maybe the bubbly chatter was a cover-up for the insecurities each girl possessed.
I get so caught up in my life, in my duties and I wonder how many times I miss out on praying for those around me. I wanted to ask the sales lady if her mother knew Jesus. I didn’t get to. I may not be able to touch every single person out there but the least I can do is pray for them, keeping my eyes open to see the ones around me, even the ones I don’t know. It’s amazing how big life becomes when I look beyond myself, my own issues, and think of others first.
Just a thought…

Monday, February 2, 2009

Singing in the Shadows

Darkness fills my mind
Weariness in my bones
Tears threatening my eyes
I feel so alone

Children clamoring for attention
Precious hubby needs me, too.
Who has time for housework?
Endless is the list of what I must do.

Time to dress for church
Put on a pretty smile
"Hi, how are you?"
"I'm fine"
But I'm not--I'm aching inside.

El Roi, do you see me?
Jehovah-Rapha, can you heal my wounded heart?
Jehovah-Shalom, can you fill my heart with your peace?
I'm just barely hanging on

Please, Lord, I'm begging you
Give me strength till this day ends
Help me be what my man and children need:
A good wife, mom, friend.

Quietness fills the rooms
Children sweetly dreaming
Peace envelopes my soul
And from my heart comes singing

Elohim, you are faithful to me
To you my heart will cling
You fill me with your strength
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

About Josh...

What is it about marriage that can make you so accustomed to that person you look right over them sometimes. Tonight I sat on the rocking chair in the living room and watched him walk across the room to close the curtains. I see him all the time but this time I watched him as if I weren’t used to living with him everyday but instead as a woman watching a man with broad shoulders, back straight, long legs. I watched him come towards me and bend over my chair, his green eyes close to mine. I've always loved his eyes. And then he kissed me and for a moment I couldn’t catch my breath.
When you are married you get so used to that person and you don’t think twice about a kiss when it’s in passing, but there are those brief moments when it feels like you are sitting in his Toyota pickup truck on a dark night at a golf course and he leans into to kiss you for the first time. My heart stopped for a moment and I silently begged for time to stop so I could hold onto this feeling once again. That same feeling I had so many years ago when we were young and kissing was the only thing allowed. There is something mysterious and alluring of that special someone putting their lips on yours for the first time.
One of my favorite treasures about Josh is his laughter. I cherish the sound of it. Funny movies are no longer enjoyable to watch without him next to me laughing his way through it. The first night Josh and I ever really talked was in college and he walked around the campus with me for three hours. I had never laughed so hard and long as I did that evening. We talked about so many things that night, most of which I can no longer remember, except for one part. I think I asked Josh if he laughed out loud even if he was by himself and he said yes. Halleluiah!!! I thought I was the only one who ever did that sort of thing. It had always been a joke in my family that I would laugh even if I was alone and I had a feeling I was weird because of it. Soon after my sister met Josh she told me she had never seen me so happy before. I honestly don’t remember laughing so much in my life until that one wonderful evening with Josh by my side. I remember looking up at him, seeing his dimpled cheeks, his smiling eyes and hearing his contagious laughter echo against the school buildings. Even when we’re old and gray I think that night will be one of my favorite memories of all time. I can’t help but smile even now as I sit here twelve years, four children and two widened hips later. Every time he laughs I go back to that early autumn evening when I began laughing for the first time.

The stars were out
The night was cool
You never noticed
I was looking at you

I listened to your voice
To the tales you told
My heart skipped several beats
Imagining my hand yours would hold

Your green eyes sparkled
On your mouth was a smile
I couldn’t stop laughing
As we walked all that while

A year and a half later
Toward you I walked
This time dressed in white
Your eyes with mine locked

We were young and passionate
Just twenty-one and twenty-three
Reveling in the bliss
Not knowing yet how hard life can be

We’ve been walking together
For eleven years now
Wasn’t it just yesterday
We said our vows?

Four tow-headed children
And several moves later
We’ve put some miles on our romance
Some I don’t care to remember

We have grown up together
I know we still have far to go
But in fifty years when we are old
You will still be the man that makes me glow

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Glorious Monotony

Paper airplanes litter the floor
The opening and slamming of the front door
Magic markers cover the table
This cluttered home looks more like a stable

Daughter’s dolls muddle her room
Lego’s and Hot Wheels, I am doomed
To be surrounded by all this chaos
I long for the day when these toys I can toss.

But to my face a smile creeps
When down the hall I hear their feet
A growing ache fills my soul
I dread the day my children will go

These are the memories that will haunt my dreams
Of four tiny voices saying they love me
Four small children to care for and hug
These are the treasures my life is made of.

When I am weary the Lord reminds me
The days are challenging, but extremely sweet
There may come in life a period of time
When I miss these exhausting days of mine

My life may lack vacations exotic
And daily chores are more than catatonic
Soccer practices, doing laundry and dishes
Are hardly for what the glamorous wishes

But I am overwhelmed with wonderful blessings
My children are healthy, my abode a bit messy
But my husband comes home and loves me each night
Outside it may be raining; in my home the world is quite bright.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I accomplished nothing today. I didn’t plan to do nothing, it just happened. I actually had a long list of housework duties to catch up on.
1. Gym – workout
2. Fold several loads of laundry
4. Wash dishes
3. Do several more loads of laundry
5. Sweep kitchen
6. Wash and fold more laundry
7. Vacuum

The list goes on and I had high hopes to get it all done. What I didn’t take into account were my four children. They all needed me. It wasn’t to help clean their rooms or finding play clothes, tying shoes, or finding a favorite toy. Today they just needed me, my time. They needed me to hug them, talk to them.
We looked at family pictures and I told them funny stories about them when they were babies. We read books together. Everywhere I went my two-year-old daughter toddled behind me, desiring just to be held.
So I gave up my plans to clean the house today. Instead I watched movies and read books with my children. I cuddled my sons and daughter. I sat down and ate dinner with them and laughed at their jokes and stories. And after I got them into bed I didn’t feel the relief I usually feel. Instead, I felt wonderfully happy because I spent time showing my children love by being with them.
Often I have looked at my two older boys and my heart aches to hold them as babies and kiss their sweet faces good night. I realize how fleeting time really is and the moments I have with them now will soon be a memory. I want to grab my children and hold onto them tightly because I know there will come a day when they will leave. Not too long ago I resented staying home. I felt like I was missing out on the fun and excitement of life. Sometimes I wished for a job outside the home just so I could get dressed up and accomplish something for that day. I longed for the days of homework from school because I knew that it wouldn’t mysteriously undo itself in the middle of the night like my housework always seems to do. But now I am seeing things in a different light. What is really important here?
The laundry will always be here. I might even catch up on it someday. The dishes will get done tomorrow, the same for sweeping the floor. But my babies won’t be babies very long. There will come a day when I will walk into my daughter’s room and I won’t be able to soothe her fears by rocking her and singing a song. Another day will come when I will enter my oldest son’s room only to see him packed and ready for college. Someday my little Trevor will be a groom waiting for his bride instead of the dimpled cheek boy with big green eyes I see every morning. Someday I may see my strong son, Garrett, in uniform and saluting his commander as he graduates from boot camp. Someday my house will be clean… and empty.
I know when those days come I won’t look back on good memories of how tidy and organized my house was. Instead, I will think of my children’s laughter when their daddy tickled them, early mornings when a little body would snuggle up next to me, and quiet moments rocking my daughter and singing her Cinderella songs. I will have these memories tucked away in my heart and I’ll just smile, even laugh a little, and be thankful for the sweet time I had my children all to myself.