Monday, June 29, 2009

Upheld Within Rumbles and Jumbles

There have been so many random thoughts and reflections stirring in my heart, in my spirit, in my mind. I am full...brimming over with contemplations so deep that I am afraid that my words cannot reach down and scoop up all that inhabits the depth of my meanderings in order to bring them out adequately. But it helps to at least try.

I love to laugh, make jokes, and just skip like a child. However, there is a seemingly bottomless part of my heart that so often dissects a thought or an idea until every organ of that notion is picked apart and laid out for inspection.
However, my favorite place to go is to the heart and mind of God. I guess it is because He is so real to me. I have watched Him do so many things in my short 44 years that I am convinced more each day that my life is not my own. He is constantly weaving His plan into the fabric of my own person and family.

Sometimes I feel like a paralyzed spectator in His activities as I watch His plans unfold. However, I know there is an ongoing beckoning of His heart to my own heart to be an active participant in all He is doing. So we work together...God and me. And I admit that sometimes I resist and act like a spoiled brat.....but He faithfully upholds me. He never discards or writes me off.

This past weekend has been very difficult for our family. There was no big tragedy. However, it was more like four or five little annoying and invisible chiwawas running around in our house nipping at our heels every few moments. Have you ever had days like that? One minute it is one thing, then before you know it feels like all of those little nippers are on you at once trying to pick away your strength and patience. Then it is almost as if the little hyperactive mongrels are chewing up your house until there is nothing but destruction that seemingly can never be cleaned up! No folks I am not referring to my children even though at times I look around at the physical jumbles of toys and teenage muddles of left over snacks and dirty laundry and I wonder. Hmmmm.

So before you make judgements that our home is just a disorderly agglomeration causing distress and chaos, let me elaborate. Yes, we are real people and we do not try to pretend that all is well all the time. It is not. However what I want to continually be reminded of is the delight of One who loves to show up in the midst of topsy-turviness. He is drawn to conflict because He is the one who has the answers. He is the master Problem Solver. And He loves to show up and constantly prove to His kids how loving He is.

Yes, I am often disappointed in myself. And honestly I am sometimes dismayed by the choices of my children and others around me. It is easy as a parent to become caught up in the wind of the moment and feel as though you are being tossed about in the gusts of stress, discouragement,and bewilderment. However, I know that the One who upholds us utilizes the wind of the chaotic moments to thrust us all closer to the end result of who He is making us and calling us to be. It is encouraging to know that God Almighty has set our end from our beginning and that this day, yesterday and last week are only portions of the journey in which He is leading us. I am not defined by what happened this past weekend. My family members as well as myself are all pieces of art not yet completed. And it is in this "knowing" that I can appreciate those masterpieces just as they are in the middle of the process.

And I am pulled up into new planes of perspective when He sets me on His right sturdy wing and gives me a view of what is to be. We look together upon the wider scope of life's map and He says, "See, this is what I am making that one to be. What you thought was the very demise of that child is the very thing I am cultivating for my glory. You must not make assumptions in the "now". You must make declarations of what will be and what they are becoming."

I am edified and enlightened to know that I am blessed when I struggle with seasons of chaos and disorder because I know that God is in it with me. He loves to dwell with me in my messes! And while onlookers may disdainfully exclaim, "Tisk Tisk Tisk...what a shame.", I soar though the wind on wings of grace which uphold me. And I can thrive in peace and rest knowing that He has the Last word of the novel... the last stroke of the artist brush, and the last phrase of the melody.

I dare to be so open with my life. I dare to be honest. But in this I encourage my own heart with added hopes that someone else too can be comforted by the same comfort I receive. Additionally, I am reminded that we are all in the fight together. Its just that our strategies are not all the same. And our God loves a good fist fight, boxing match,and shoot out because He loves to disarm that which would try to destroy, devour or even nip at His kids. Our battle is not against flesh. It is not our husbands, our children, our bosses, neighbors, or friends. It is the invisible chiwawas and ravenous wolves that attempt to rip our hearts apart.

However, we are being fought for and we all know the ending. The journey is not over. And we know that our Father can be counted on to see us through and to uphold us when the journey becomes rough and the path becomes distorted.

Finally, we can relax in the understanding that we can be excited and joyful about this journey as we face the challenges that are inevitable. And I leave my little blogging room with this quote:


Monday, June 22, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone
All of the bad feelings have disappeared
Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin?for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

Look all around, there’s nothin?but blue skies
Look straight ahead, nothin?but blue skies

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone,
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)
Sun-Shiny day.

I have not heard this song in years. However, for some odd reason I thought of it this morning. The memory of this tune was probably provoked by some interesting observations I made this past week. You see, I have slowed down a lot. I mean a lot. Not as much organizing, cleaning, laundry and cooking. Things have really been simplified here over the past 3 months. And it is a good thing.

Naturally, I am the type person that looks around at messes and disorder and I get uptight. But you know what? I realize that the mess does not matter so much right now because in my slower state I am seeing things I have never noticed. I sit out side and watch my kids play in the evenings. Story time is a lot less rushed. And hubby is probably one of the most patient men I have ever known. I have noticed these treasures, but the reality seems to be sinking in deeper into my heart these days. And the realization has hit me that I am unwrapping more of the gifts God has bestowed upon my life.

Yesterday was a quiet Father's Day. How I love those kinds of celebrations. It is in the hushed and the simplistic moments that I can really see. The kids and I gave John a simple gift. We gave him a new shorts outfit with some cool leather flip-flops. (You really must have flip-flops in Arizona) He really appreciated his presents.

However, what was really special was what happened after that. The little ones were so excited about their Daddy that they went on a mission. They really wanted to keep giving Daddy gifts. So Joshua, our 6 year old, went rummaging through his toys to find Daddy another surprise. He discovered an old child sized baseball glove and an old box. He drew pictures on the outside of the box and placed the glove inside. He held that little box in his sweet little hands and excitedly ran up to his Daddy. "Here Dad, I have another gift for you!" Joshie exclaimed.

John took the box and opened it with enthusiasm! "Wow", John said, "What a Cool baseball mitt! Look Mommy. Look what Joshua gave me for Father's Day." John tried on the mitt and it only went halfway over his fingers! Then he bent over and gave Joshua a big hug as he and I exchanged warm glances of how precious the gesture was.

While this was taking place, four year old Heather was in a little corner drawing pictures on a piece of paper for her Daddy. She ran happily toward him with an energetic abandonment. Wrapping her little arms around Daddy's legs she cried with joy, "Oh Daddy, I love you so so much." Then John picked her up, and held her close against his chest and replied, "Oh, I love you too, baby girl!"

For a few moments I was frozen in a moment of surreality. It was if God Almighty paralyzed me to a moment of deep realization....In fact He did. Here is what I saw beyond that precious tender moment.

A child who is secure in his Father's love dances through life with an energy of freedom and relentless love. A child who truly knows he is loved feels safe to give and wants to give continuously. A little one who has been loved unconditionally knows it deep down even though he does not have the words to describe that love. And so he just lives it, breaths it, runs with it, and gives it back freely.

Likewise, a child of God who has truly seen and experienced the pure love of God can do the same. If I know my Father, I know His love for me is real. And my life becomes more about giving that pure love back rather than trying to contain it as if I might lose it.

Furthermore, the Father is delighted when I just innocently give it back to Him in any form I can find. When the children were running around just looking for anything they could find, John was delighted that they love him so much they simply wanted to just give him anything they had. The gift itself was not that much. However, the passionate desire to express that love to their father in some tangible way, in any way melted their Daddy's heart to mush!

Wow, how our Heavenly Father's heart must soften even more when we like Joshua and Heather search for ways to bless Him and express our love to Him. This is the heart of worship! It isn't so much about the songs we sing in church and the elaborate words we use. It really is not about our performance and how good we are at something. It is about the hidden unspoken messages of the childlike heart that sings to, runs to, hugs and kisses the very core of the Father's heart....and it melts Him with pleasure and delight in the light of a love so genuine and pure!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Loved and Kept Child

I do not want to be labeled as a religious person. However, I cannot live my life without acknowledging a Person in my life in whom I live my life. Without Him, I cannot thrive. Without Him, I cannot love or receive love. Without this Person, I literally would not be alive today. I am not religious. I am just a lover of One whom I know is real and I long for others to know Him too. Simple as that.

As I have mentioned in other posts, my husband lost his job in 2007 without severance.Our hearts were already broken as we had just lost a second baby to miscarriage weeks before. We struggled for 9 months and lived on practically nothing while he searched for employment. We lived on grace and we made it to the other side of that hurdle. However, once we had jumped over it, we still had to recover from many months of struggle.

When we moved to AZ last year we found ourselves still asking how things were going to work out. Many who have been through financial set backs know what I mean. It takes time to mend. We needed many things and we moved West with a lot less than we had. We gave a lot of our belongings away because the truck we rented would not hold it all.

Now here we are months later and I can testify over and over of how the Lord has provided for our family far and beyond John's paycheck. During my time of worrying, I took a piece of paper and wrote down the things I was concerned about and I even wrote down hopes and dreams. I do not share this with the intention of making Jesus look like Santa Claus. However, when we delight ourselves in Him, He gives us the desires of our hearts. I would sit in my prayer chair with the list. First I would ponder an all of His benefits. I would thank Him for all He had already done for us. And I would express my gratitude for just knowing Him and belonging to Him. Then I would lay the list down on the floor as if laying it at his feet.
Sometimes the answer to our prayers do not look like we think and they may not come in our timing, but He is faithful to go way beyond our limited thinking. So I would like to open to you a place I have kept secret for 9 months. Here is the list I wrote last September.

Keep in mind that at Thanksgiving my husband's check was drastically cut in order to cover the taxes for our move out here.

1. Income to meet our needs and bills over the next two months.
2. Healing in our family and marriage. (There was much stress on our family relationships from the move and financial strain. Also, we had come out of a lot of church conflict)
3.Dental work for our family. (This was a biggie!)
4.Finances for Christmas gifts. (This was not looking too hopeful with the cut in John's check)
5.Work on the van...air conditioning needed repair. (And you gotta have it in Arizona!)
6.Church or spiritual family in our new community.
7.A second car
8.Clothing for the children (we left a lot of that behind)
9.New Baby ( A hope and dream)
10.Money to pay off van title. (When John was out of work, we had to sell our van title to buy food.)
11.A Big Bonus from John's new employer
12.For discouragement, depression, oppression, and disappointment to be lifted from our family.

As I look back over this list, I see that God has either answered each petition or is in the process of doing so. There has been healing and refreshment in our family relationships.The bills are being paid.The van title has been paid off.Dental work is well on the way. John received a 2000 dollar bonus which covered the rest of Christmas and helped us to pay our bills for the month his check was cut. We were able to get our other car out here from Atlanta.The air conditioning is repaired in the van. Some precious new friends have given us clothing for our children. We have two babies on the way. And we are building new friendships with God loving people in a new way.Also, the clouds of disappointment, discouragement, and depression have lifted.

And I need to also add that I have been concerned about baby items. Yesterday, some sweet friends of ours brought over mounds of baby things. Even though we have had many children, we have no baby things. When I awoke from my nap, I walked in the living room and there were clothes, blankets,towels, a car seat, port-a-crib, baby swing, bouncy seat, baby tub, and much more. All I could do was cry. Another friend loaned me all of her maternity clothes so I will not need to purchase any of those either.

As you can tell, I am blown away by the goodness of God flowing through so many venues. However, the most uplifting is His kindness flowing through others. This is what binds people together. Furthermore, I would like to testify that there is nothing special about us that would cause these prayers to be answered. It is about how kind, good, special and able the one and only true God is. I want others to know Him and to see that He is gracious. His loving kindness is better than life. I have to boast in Him. He hears our cries in the hidden places and He says, " I am taking care of you. Do not worry." And he gives us a hug instead of scolding us for worrying. He is Father. He is love. He is real!

Many people are going through a season where they a wondering where He is or if He is real and alive. I have doubted His goodness so many times. But His grace always prevails. He will come through. He will provide. This is His Father's be the ultimate provider in our lives.

I am thankful for the rough spots in my life. For when they come, I can be assured that He is going to show up and help me. Hopefully, someone will be encouraged by this testimony. There is a lot of hopelessness in our world. Maybe my little candle will light a dismayed heart with the warmth of who God really is.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Some Grapes, Apples and Strawberries!

The faithfulness of God is beyond my wildest dreams and expectations. It is so amazing to watch the loving heavenly Father step into every detail of my life and answer prayers that I pray in secret. He truly understands a mother's heart. And all the concerns and petitions of a mother seem to always line up with the intentions of God's own heart.

For example, I will often begin to become anxious in a certain area in one of my children's lives. So I will say out loud, "Lord, I need to talk with you." So I will steal away the first chance I get. Sometimes I will sit in my big chair by my bedroom window and gaze at the two palm trees in the back yard. I will rest and talk to my Dad about what is on my mind. Then other times I will sit in my tub or on the toilet (just being transparent here with the practical ways of God) and picture Him sitting by me intently listening. And other times I will chat with Him as I am making my bed in the mornings. However, my favorite time is when I go to bed as I usually turn in before my husband. I love to lay there and just thank the Lord for the day. I enjoy reviewing all the events whether stressful, fun, or just mundane. Then I share my gratitude with Him that He has been with me all day in the midst of everyday life. I love how such a mysterious God can be so simple and practical. It makes me feel secure to know He sits with me and hangs out at my house no matter what is going on! Wow, even writing about this gets me excited.

However, I have been thinking about the "mothering burdens" that seem to come upon me so often. When I go to my places of prayer, my confidence in my Dad grows as I watch Him address all of my concerns for my children. He takes care of it.He listens to my heart, nods His head "yes" and says, "Don't worry, I'll take care of them."

For example, this season of letting go of my oldest son has been challenging at times. I have felt frustration as well as pride as I watch him grow in manhood. He lives far away in Georgia and I have no control over any area of his life any longer. He is a young man now. He always belonged to God. But now the reality of that has set in.

There have been times over the past 9 months that I have felt concerned about him because things did not go as "I thought they should" in the choices he was making. So I have taken my worry to the Lord, for now that is all that is left to do. Prayer for my oldest child has led me to new levels of giving up control each time that tendency to want to still act as "mommy" in his life.

Furthermore, the excitement of watching what God is doing in my son's life confirms to me constantly that God has him in His grasp and He is not going to let my son go.You see, it is about Bradley and God now....the two of them together. And as I witness the hand of the Lord upon His life, I am seeing all kind of fruit. The grapes of that joyful, laid back spirit that Bradley has possessed since he was a baby has only grown. There are apples of wisdom being imparted as he learns valuable lessons through the school of life. And the strawberries of consideration, honor and respect are shining through his life as I watch him take initiative to pursue God, stay in touch with his family, and just love people.

For example, he has remembered everyone in the family's birthday this year...sent cards with money and gift cards. For Mother's Day he sent me a Bath and Body works gift card with a beautiful note thanking me for always putting my family first. Well, I am telling you this does something to a mother's heart that cannot be explained until you start experiencing it. You watch your child becoming the respectful and thoughtful person God is making him to be and you know you cannot take the credit. It is the powerful reminder that God has been there all along cultivating peace in the life of your child.

Another thing I love to watch is how the Lord has used dry seasons of Bradley's young journey to remind him of how much he needs God's presence in his life. He just told his Dad the other day in an email that he has been in a funk the last few months and admitted that he has been distant from God. However, the Lord gave him the understanding that he cannot make it in life without Jesus and knowing Him. When I read this, there were tears of joy seeping out of my heart as I watch my daily prayer for my kids being answered...that they would love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. And I know God is working that into Him! Whew! I am pumped!! I am encouraged that if that one prayer is answered, the rest of their lives will be filled with the abundance of a kingdom life. This is my heart for my kids and it is even more so God's heart for them.

The faithfulness of God is the divine heart of all creation "faith-full" to fulfill the wishes of His desire for His children. If God has that kind of faith, then He is faithful to to fill my own heart with the same. I can always count on Him!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Rest in the Moment

Am I doing this? Resting in the moment? To be perfectly honest I am having a bit of a struggle doing that one thing that should seem so simple. My mind is racing ahead to the future. Jesus said,"Do not worry about tomorrow, for today holds enough troubles of its own." However, the uncertainties seem to be overwhelming me lately.

I have been thinking back to when we found out we were expecting our 9th baby. I was so tired and overcome with morning sickness. The laundry room was filled with several mountains of laundry and the heaps continued to grow. One morning I walked in , looked at the masses before me and dropped into the dirty piles of clothes crying out to God for help. It was not a muted cry, but one that the neighbors probably heard if they were out in their yards or walking by.

However, I remember God answered my plea for help in such an extravagant way. I could not even imagine what He had in store. Two sweet Christian ladies were sent from Taiwan at no cost to us, to live with us for two weeks. They caught up our laundry, cooked food, bought groceries and packed boxes as we were getting ready to move.I guess other countries really are sending missionaries the U.S. to show the love of God!

As if that was not wonderful enough, they flew back to the states when the baby was born and stayed with us for a month. They cleaned, cooked, helped with the children and helped take care of me while I was recovering. Whenever I visit the memories of how God so graciously provided for us during that time, I know I can look forward to His provision for this pregnancy and birth also.

In my limited thinking I have been looking at the way things are now...out of order. The bed sheets need changing. The bathrooms need cleaning. Meal time is a struggle. However, I have to believe that God's provision is here. I have been asking for help and my husband and teenagers are doing a lot around here. However, I am concerned about what will happen when I go to the hospital to have the babies. Who will be here when I have to go? What will we do for meals while I am recovering? How will we manage those first weeks of adjusting to twins? How will we do Christmas this year since the babies are due right around the holidays? The questions are endless.

Maybe the Lord has a big surprise for us this time. If He brought wonderful saints from the other side of the world to help us, He surely will provide this time also.
I know He is faithful. Some days I just struggle with what I know to be true and my mind and thoughts take over. I must captivate these worrisome meditations and dwell on what I know to be true. That He is faithful. His grace is sufficient. He cares for me so I can cast my burdens upon Him. That my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory. So how about anyone else out there? Have you struggled lately with worry? And how has God met you in your need? Testimonies sure would help right now as I am once again being challenged to rest in the moment.

Love in Christ,


Friday, June 5, 2009

Breaking Through

I had to share these photos with you that my son Tommy took. I love watching him grow in his creative ability to catch intriguing moments and touching images with his simple little camera. He has been experimenting with black and white. Also, I noticed he is doing really well with focusing in on just portions of images which is really creative.
Both of these photos were taken from the car as my husband John and our son Tommy drove across country earlier this week from Georgia to Arizona. We decided to bless him with a flight to Atlanta to spend 10 days with our oldest son Bradley. It took them two days to drive 32 hours, but they did spend one night in a hotel. They arrived home at 10 p.m. Monday evening.

The following day was Tommy's birthday. It was pretty laid back. John took the day off and I rested as I am still dealing with nausea. Kerry, our 15 year old, made the famous ice cream birthday cake. It was coffee and vanilla mixed with chopped Butter finger candy bars.

I am so proud of all of my children. Bradley, our 19 year old is living 1800 miles from us and is learning some great life lessons that will benefit him all through his life. He is a positive example for those he works with and is on the top of his boss's list of loyal employees.

Tommy is working hard toward his future and making all A's and B's in school. He continues to grow in his gifting of music and photography. Kerry our 15 year old is a blessing in that he does all he can to serve and help our family. He has been such a tremendous support these last two months especially the days when I could barely hold up my head from the morning sickness. He has even learned to cook a few dishes. He will be a great husband one day!

Sara, our 12 year old daughter is maturing into a strong and lovely young woman and I know that she will provide strength to others through whatever God calls her to do.

As for the little ones. They are full of joy and contentment. I look to them everyday as a source of encouragement and exhortation to just enjoy life and to be content in all situations.

I am not sure why the photos of the clouds have just touched my heart so deeply today. I think it may represent a place we are in our lives. We have been under a patch of clouds for years. Some of you know our story. However, I understand in faith that eventually the clouds break and streams of glorious light penetrate dismayed hearts. I look at the ribbons of sunlight which seem to strike with indescribable beauty and I realize that we are beginning to see the purpose of many things that we have suffered. The clouds have been breaking and we still have more to discover. However, the search is exciting and we are blessed to be walking in the light.

I just want to encourage parents today! Do not withhold words of praise from your children. Let others hear how proud you are of them. When Jesus was being baptized by John the Baptist, the spirit of God descended upon him as a dove. The voice of the father exclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." If God voices His delight in his children then we must do it too. People may accuse you of pride. However when we give God all the credit for the great work taking place in our children, this is genuine pleasure being expressed through you from the heart of the Lord.

I pray for you all blessings and hope and love and joy and all the wonderful things that are already yours to relish this day!

Much Love to Everyone,