When I was a freshman in highschool, being sarcastic was the way my friend and I talked. We knew that anything we said we actually meant the opposite. We thought it was funny and it became a way of life.
This summer seemed to be a very busy, on the go type summer. This was atypical for our family. But, definitly a summer to remember. So, here is for memories sake. As a family, we....
Took a trip to Northern Virginia where we were blessed to house sit for friends, visit the National Museum of Natural History, spend a day at 6 flags, patronize the lego store, picnic, play games as a family and watch a movie.
We enjoyed a day trip to Skyline Drive where the deer were out and fun to watch.
The kids joined the swim team this summer and loved that. We spent most days at the pool.
We hosted lovely friends from out of state and made good use of our "new" 12 passenger van.
Grandparents came up from Texas for an extended weekend. We had a relaxed and blessed time with them.
We enjoyed camping with friends. Once at Natural Chimneys
and another camping trip with friends at Camp Overlook.
We enjoyed times woth cousins eating popsicles on the front porch and just hanging out.
The neighbors spent some time at our house. We also build puzzles, played games, started building a fort, put up a clothes line, deep cleaned and rearranged in areas. We even had a big yardsale.
We went to friends houses and played games.
We went to the neighbors and had picnics, jumped on the trampoline and played in backyard pools.
We also had quiet moments watching the pair of doves build a nest outside our window.
Or simple fun at home playing legos, cars, babies, reading good books, doing art projects, visiting the library, watching movies, taking walks, playing outdoor games, riding bikes and skates or baking. The kids also helped Daddy at work many days this summer. Time flies. Children grow.
God speaks to me through my children.
We ate pancakes for breakfast. The three year old cut his own. The six year old refused. "I want you to cut it." She cried. "I can't do it!."
"Please pick up your fork and put it in your pancake like this. And pick up you knife and try." I asked of her.
"I can't do it! I've tried before! I'll be the last one eating! I want YOU to do it!" and she burst into tears.
"Tears aren't going to help." I told her. "They will get you sent from the table."
"I can't help it! Help me cut it! I'm hungry!"
"You may leave the table to cry. When you're done, you can come back and try with a good attitude."
She stomped off to her room and put on a good show. Then she returned to the table and sat staring at her pancake. Without picking up knife and fork she began again.
"Can you help me, please?"
"Pick up your knife and fork and just try," I repeated.
She sat staring. The rest of us finished eating and read Bible. She still sat.
I really had planned to help her. She can do it herself. She's done it before. It does take awhile, but she can. The problem was, attitude and refusal to even try.
And God spoke to me.
"Sound familiar? "
"God, I want to be an author, or loose weight, or succeed in whatever dream is on my heart. Please help me!" When what I'm really asking is "Do it for me and make life easy for me."
And God replies, "Pick up your pen, get out of your bed, put on your tennis shoes, try. I will help you. Just try."
And I fuss and fume and beg and cry.
God chuckles. "Child, you can do this! Just get started and show me you're willing to put forth effort. I will help you. But I won't do it for you. You will gain nothing if I do it all. Let's do this together."
And if it is something you can't do. Do what He says then Stand and be amazed. "Nothing is impossible with God."
Does God owe me?
Do I believe that if I live by right principles then God will bless me? I could back up that belief with a bunch of different scriptures.
You withhold no good thing from those who love your name.
He will never let the righteous fall.
Blessed is the man who does not delight in evil...but his delight is in the law of the Lord... he shall be like a tree planted by streams of water...
No harm befalls the righteous.
If you obey me [these blessings] will follow you.
Certainly God lays forth principals in his word that have an "if you, then I" clause to them. God is faithful and just. He does lift up the humble and oppose the proud.
Ask and it will be given to you.
Seek and you'll find.
Knock and the door will be opened to you.
But, does God owe me that?
If I live right, is he required to bless me?
Is he bound by my goodness to do right by me?
How presumptions and big am I? God is still God! Certainly he is not a man that he should lie! He will not give me a stone when I ask for bread or a snake when I ask for a fish.
But what about Job?
What about the persecuted church around the world?
What about all the people who live right, who walk blameless, who refuse to sin... and yet are poor and despised and barely hanging on? Did God fail them?
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen.
Sometimes, the blessing I expect, the result I plan to get by following the right principles will not be there! Sometimes God's ways are not my ways. His thoughts are not my thoughts. He sees things I don't. He knows things I don't. I may be laying up treasure in heaven. I may not see the answers to my prayers here on this earth. I may not see the reward for my hard work here on earth, but God will follow through on his promises. Just not always in the way or time frame I expect him to. And when he does bless me here on earth or in heaven, it's not because of my goodness. It's all His grace! He doesn't owe me a thing. He already did more than I could ask for. I owe him all!
I have learned to be content no matter the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed of hungry, whether living in plenty of in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Without the Lord the laborers labor in vain.
It is only by your grace Lord. Turn your face to us and have mercy on us.
Be joyful always. Pray continuously, give thanks in every circumstance for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
As Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were thankful for the fleas even though they knew not why. Even though I don't see the answer today and don't understand today. God is good. He loves me. He will do right by me. Even if I have to give up good things for his best. He sees a bigger picture.
He is trustworthy.
I saw her skip down the path. He called her back and warned of what lay ahead on the path that she took.
"It's ok. I won't go far," she laughed with a flip of her hand.
His face fell, and I could see that he cared about her, yet He let her go.
When I came around the corner, I saw she had already found company. There were three of them. They surrounded her like children around the candy dish. She welcomed their flirtations. They teased and she teased back. The little party went a few steps further down the path. She looked back over her shoulder briefly. I could see she was remembering Him.
"I need to go back. My Master is waiting," she said to the threesome.
"Oh, he'll wait for you. Didn't he say he'd never leave you? You know where he's at. You can go back later," they counseled her.
"I guess that's true," she hesitated. "He is so gracious, and I am free."
"Exactly!" they encouraged. "Come, we'll have fun," said the tall one as he slipped his arm around her waist. Another caught her hand and laid a quick kiss on her cheek.
She giggled and decided. "Just to the little pond ahead."
Of course they didn't stop there. The further they walked the bolder the men became. She seemed at a loss to dissuade their advances. They sat under a shade tree and the men caressed her. One playing with her hair, another massaging her feet. It was obvious she was enjoying the attention.
I looked back and could just see Him through the trees. He had not moved. His hurt of her rejection was written in His countenance.
I watched as she slapped the hand of an overly fresh suitor. "Don't forget, I'm already spoken for," she playfully warned with a giggle.
"Ah, but I thought you were free. Have a little fun with us," he countered.
"I am free. But I'm His. I really shouldn't," she said more seriously.
"Why not? Don't you like it?" He bent and kissed her neck.
"Well, yes, but..."
I watched as her resolve melted under their caresses. What was happening was obvious, but I was unable to do anything to change it. I was invisible. Nothing more than the narrator of the story.
Once more she remembered and shook herself free. "I really must go back."
"Oh sure!" They surprisingly let her go. "Sure, go check in with your Master. You'll see he's still there and he has grace for you. Then come back and we'll continue our fun!"
I had hope as she ran back the path toward Him.
Certainly He would persuade her to stay with Him and continue along the straight road. I watched as she embraced Him. He held her and she assured Him of her love. Then she pulled away and skipped back down the path!
"Thanks for being there for me," she called over her shoulder. "I love you and I'll be back soon. Thanks for waiting."
A tear slid down His cheek.
She returned to her suitors. They met her with waiting arms and kisses. Then quickly seduced her and led her deeper into the woods. There they ravaged her and held her against her will. Yet somehow she didn't scream or cry for help. She moaned with a distorted pleasure and pain. When they had used her for their pleasure they began to beat her. At first she almost seemed to welcome the blows. She didn't try to run or block she just took it. It was as if she felt she deserved it. The blows came harder. She curled into a fetal position and tried vainly to protect herself from the the blows that wouldn't stop. It was too late. The men were driven with hate and she was powerless against them. It looked hopeless.
Then I heard her call His Name. Ever so faint the sound came desperately from her lips.
And there He was.
He stepped into the middle of the foray and dropped His body down over her curled and broken one. The accusers didn't stop their beating. As the blows fell on His strong body, holes formed. Blood fell. A strange blinding light also came forth and a heat that was unbearable. Little by little the bullies dropped their sticks and ran, defeated by the heat of unconditional love and the bright glow of sacrificial forgiveness.
The blood fell on the broken child. Her brokenness healed. Supernatural healing manifest, and she stirred with renewed life. He stepped back and took her by the hand. This time she came with only one word.
"Friend." Her eyes locked with His.
He guided her back to the fork in the road. His horse still stood. He mounted the majestic white animal, and reached His hand down to her. She took it. He swung her up behind him.
They began down the path with sunset behind them and sunrise before them. Darkness fled and the brightness of a new day became evident.
I share this only because it helps me to watch other parents actually work through difficult things. I need examples. God was so good in this one I had to share. Parenting can be tough!
Late at night I get a text I hate to read.
'Since your children were at our house last night, my son has been missing some of his favorite valuables. Can you ask your kids about It? '
This isn't the first time we've had a similar run in. The last issue was never completely solved because no one would own up, and no one wants to accuse the innocent..
I pray with a heavy heart. "God please let these objects show up and the guilty one come forward. Let there be no gap in this relationship and give me wisdom in how to deal with this."
Then, I fall asleep.
Two days later I am sitting down to write up a menu at 9am and my boys come bursting in the door. ''Look!! We were pretending to be pirates. We were digging in the yard, and we found hidden treasure!! Our friend has one just like it! Maybe there's more!''
If I would have been thinking, I would have said.''Wow! How exciting! Yes, go find more and let me see!' '
But, it suddenly dawns on me I had totally forgotten the text two days ago. God is answering my prayer. I blurt out, ''Your friend has been missing this!'' and blow my cover.
''He has? '' they ask. ''We didn't take his. This is different!''
''Mmhmmm. Why don't you go find the rest and bring it to me?''
''We don't know if there is more. But we can look.'"
Of course, they're on the defense now. They can't find more or they'll be guilty.
I pray again. The boys start making excuses. "Maybe one of our sisters took it and brought it home for us to find and get us in trouble."
Unlikely, I think. I'm pretty sure right off the bat I know who's at fault, but I want them to come clean, take responsibility and not do it again! And I could be wrong.
Little sisters give me blank stares. "What is that?" they ask, begging to see.
Older sister says, "I saw the boys' playing with them while we were there, but I never touched them. I played with my own friends. Why? "
She says no, the big girls didn't tease and pretend to steal the items as brothers had said happened.
I am deeply disappointed. We have liars. And thieves. "God help. Please, do a miracle and transform hearts with truth, conviction, grace and new beginnings."
We go through out the day. I'm constantly praying for wisdom. I text Daddy and brief him on the developments. We plan a family meeting. We know there are still objects missing, culprit is lieing and something has to happen. By now it is afternoon.
Suddenly I get an inspiration. ''What would you do if I said I'd give $5 to whoever could bring me more 'treasure'?" I am addressing all six kids.
They take off running, and one knows right where to search. He shares with his brother and they come triumphantly back.
A repeat of this exercise brings up nothing new. Perhaps we have gathered all the evidence.
"Can we have our five dollars now?"
More inspiration. I flip the story reversing rolls of friends and ask our kids how they would feel and what they would like, if they were on the other side of the story.
They respond well.
"I'd want my things back."
"I wouldn't really want to play with them anymore.''
"I'd want an apology."
"I'd be frustrated."
I go to my purse and pull out money. "I will give this to you." Their eyes light up. "But, you will use it to buy your friend a gift. You will deliver it with the return of their treasures and an apology."
Five of them respond "All of us, or the one who did it?"
One is silent with tears in their eyes.
"I would really like for the one of you who is responsible to do it. But, if they are not going to tell us who they are, then all of you will. However, after we deliver this, as your friend is going out of town and cannot wait another day for this, we will not go anywhere or invite anyone over until we do have a confession and forgiveness. That means the grocery shopping we were going to do tonight is canceled until further notice. We will eat what is in the house, like it or not, and when it's gone we'll go hungry. We are children of God. We don't steal and lie. If we have, we confess and make it right and change our ways. When we confess there is forgiveness and we are filled with mercy. "
They all stare at me. I can see they want to be believed, and are ready to be truthful, but afraid to step out publicly. I decide to provide a private option.
"We are now going to take twenty minutes of silence and prayer. We will think about all that has happened and that we have talked about. You will each take a paper. "I quickly tear six papers and draw a smiley face, a sad face and their name on each. "If your heart is happy because you are not responsible, circle the smile. If you are sad and want to admit you did it. Circle the frown so we can clear this up and ask forgiveness.'' I do this because not everyone can read and write yet. "You can turn in your papers when the timer goes off. Whoever did not do it, we are going to practice grace and forgiveness. We are going to remember it takes a lot to admit when we are wrong. We are not going to tease and accuse. Does everyone understand."
I pray Oh God. Let this be the end of it. Let them be truthful. Speak to their hearts and let them desire truth in the inner parts. May this be a life long lesson right now. Holy Spirit do a work only you can so our children don't develope habits of deception. And teach us to be kind, understanding and full of grace when others ask for forgiveness. "
Sure enough, papers return. Five smiles and one frown.
He says, "I was playing with them in my pocket while we were there and forgot and brought them home. I should have brought them to you right away, but I didn't. I wanted to play with them more and it got carried away. I'm sorry."
How true that is with many things. Just a little taste usually ends in eating too much. Another lesson.
We hug. It's now early evening. We go shopping. We make deliveries and say we're sorry. We realize this wasn't as hard as we thought. And it feels good to be clean. Praise God.
I've heard you say you don't want to read the 'perfect' mom's statuses and blogs anymore. She makes you feel inadequate and behind.
I've heard you say you want her to be real - to share the real stuff that goes on in her home.
Is the negative any more real than the positive?
I'd rather see her joy and praise. I want to see that others have good moments, for it inspires me that perhaps I can too. It gives me hope instead of justification.
I don't need to see the failures. I know we all have them. I'd rather not know that she let's this and that slide... Because then I might settle for less than the best I can be.
Sure her constant bubbly attitude and productive lifestyle pushes me. Aren't we supposed to spur each other on to good works and rejoice always?
You say her life looks too perfect, too fake. Why can't she post the bad stuff and be real. Seriously? If you think her life is perfect, go walk a mile in her shoes. You may find she has more negative things occur in one day than you do in a month but it's a choice of focus.
She dwells on what is lovely, admirable and praiseworthy and chooses to share that with us. Of course people read her, because she is encouraging and refuses to dwell on the things that cause pain. When those things do need to be shared, she does so in a way that still encourages and invites you to get back up when you fail and be victorious!
I'll take 'perfect' over 'real'. She inspires me.
Someone told me as a small child that in order to be a Christian you had to read your Bible every day. I don't remember who or any of the details, but as a very early reader with a very tender heart for the Lord, I began reading my Bible at age three and diligently read a minimum of a chapter a day for years. I barely missed a day for 2 decades.
About that time another person spoke into my life and began to tell me that my daily habit of spending time reading the Bible and journaling was legalistic and unnecessary. They said I should be able to communicate with God on the go and not be such a bear if I didn't get my devotional time first thing every morning.
Honestly, both of these mentor's were right.
However taking either one of their advice to the extreme causes problems. If I would have been reading my Bible daily for the express purpose of fire insurance thinking to save myself from hell, this would be bad advice. But to believe I could grow in my walk with the Lord, control my temper and walk in the fruit of the Spirit consistently without spending daily time with the Spirit is also flawed thinking. It's pride! It's absolutely true I am not a pleasant person on my own. I need God! I don't just need a religious habit, but in reality my habit was benefiting me according to the Law of Process as John Maxwell calls it.
It's step by step that we climb a mountain. It's bite by bite we eat an elephant. It's daily exercise that enables us to climb a mountain. It's daily time with the Lord that enables us to shine like stars in the universe.
Certainly there are times we absolutely cannot spend that sit down read and meditate time we want. Even Jesus had to sneak away for his prayer time. Even Jesus was interrupted by the crowds... And he had compassion on them. Yet, He continued to sneak away for time with the Father.
Where are my daily habits taking me now? Closer to the supernatural life I want to live or more into my human understanding and prideful selfishness. I will say with the psalmist, ''as the deer pants for water so my soul longs for you.''
I saw the red bird fly into the spruce.
I thought OK God, I surrender, truce.
It's in the Shadow I find grace.
It's in that place I see your face.
Why would I seek to leave this place?
I will stay and listen to your voice.
This is by far the greatest choice.
You are my Hope my only Source,
If only I will listen and obey, Of course.
I don't need to seek to leave the nest
to go out and do what I think is best
Until the day you bless my wings
And say it's time for other things.
Then we'll venture out.
Hand in hand we'll go about.
You'll take me where You want me to go,
And hearts that need You to me You'll show.
I passed the graveyard silent and still
And yearned even more my destiny to fulfill.
Had these lying here known your name?
Or had their lives been filled with pain?
What will the end of my life bring?
Will my memory of your greatness sing?
May I live for you alone
Until I stand before your throne
Living on purpose -
My family loves homemade food. As our family has grown, doubling a batch of cookies or meals to have seconds or freezer items is no longer possible. We quadruple recipes as a rule and sometimes still don't have the extras for the freezer like we want. Summer is almost here, all ten weeks of it. Summer is not the best time for baking. Not to mention, I want time to play and swim with my kids. As I don't love heating the house with the oven in the summer, one of my goals before summer starts is to load the freezer with 20 bags of cookies (min 16 each), 10 dinners, 10 loaves of sweet bread and 5 gluten free cakes. Maybe 10-20 loaves of regular bread as well. :) Part of the challenge will be not to give away all the extras and keep them hidden from the troops so they don't get devoured before their proper time. Today project stock the freezer began. Excuse me while I go hide these four loaves of pumpkin bread, and three bags of healthy cookies. Here's to a cool summer kitchen, at least until I start canning so we can have vegetables in the winter. :)
And yes, we ate some today and have more for tonight or tomorrow.