A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Smilin' at the Future!

It's been a hard day, sort of.

My daughter is once again struggling with thoughts that seem to assail her from every side, 24/7. Just today I've rescued her from hell at least twice, have gone over how to deal with thoughts at least 5 times, prayed, and even cried with her once! It's very tiresome!

The doctors say that things like this are usually brain injury related, but I don't care! Both the tormenting thoughts and the injury come from the same source--the devil! And I'm fed up with him messing with my child! He really seems to have his sights set on her.

She is a child of promise. The Lord promised her to me from day one! I didn't have enough progesterone to carry her. God miraculously provided it. At one point, I was told that I had lost her, but upon insisting that I hadn't, proved to the doctor that I was still pregnant. She almost died during delivery, but God spared her. She had a brain injury and was for all intents and purposes dead, so much so the doctors in the emergency room told us they were giving up. My husband didn't allow them to, which is the only reason that she is here today. And now this!

Every word, every thought, every motive, every deed is taken and twisted into something that causes her to worry that her heart is not right, that she has pride, that her motives are askew, that her thoughts are impure, that her actions are not right. She worries, she cries, she frets--it's torture--for her and for us! It's heartbreaking to see your child constantly having her joy stolen from her by nagging, lying, irritating thoughts! We've done everything we can think of to help her, but to no avail.

Lord Jesus, please reach my child with the knowledge of yourself. Holy Spirit, reveal Yourself to her. Reach through the fog and bring healing and deliverance to her heart, soul and mind! Let her know the joy of being secure in you. Let her understand that works are dead unless they are first born in You! Have mercy on her Lord, you see her where she is. You see how the enemy has attacked her. Raise your sword Lord and smite the enemy! You are our victory! Bring victory to her life! Be to my child that mighty warrior that delivers and sets the captives free. We are weak. We are at a loss in knowing what to do, but we are not are not defeated! "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." Let your life be revealed in her mortal flesh, for You are life! We're leaning on your resources, that constant, inexhaustible supply! Let Your will be done in her heart, in her mind, and in her life! She is Yours, Lord!

I rest on the Word that you gave me that "my children would be as formerly". You do not lie Lord, and I look to the future and smile because our future is full of YOU! Thank you that I can run to the throne of grace in the time of need! You have never disappointed! Now unto the King eternal, Immortal, Invisible, the only Wise God, be honor and glory forever and forever. Amen.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Heart Snapshots

I heard this term “heart snapshots” in a sermon once. Ashamedly, I can’t remember what it was in reference to, but the term stuck with me.

To me, heart snapshots are memories that we make a conscious effort to remember. They’re like digital snapshots from a moment in time, captured on the memory stick of our hearts.

When she’s home, I catch my sis doing odd things like sitting on the porch swing with her eyes squeezed shut. She is listening to the sounds of the locusts as they cease and the sound of the crickets as they start, sounds she does not get to hear in Oregon. She is taking a heart snapshot.

Lately I have been encouraged by the Lord to simplfy my life and just live it one day at a time. I have determined to get as much out each as possible, so I have been taking heart snapshots. At the end of the day, I lay in bed and review all the snapshots I took that day. It reminds me of how God has blessed me through the day.

For instance, I forgot to take my digital camera to the amusement park. After seeing what those bars, belts and harnesses did to the reading glasses in my pocket, I’m glad! My digital camera would have never held up! But I took a lot of heart snapshots instead. Here are just a few:

-walking through Hershey Park in a big crowd of people with daughter #2 holding my right hand, and son #2 holding my left. Meanwhile son #1 is hanging off of Dad’s back.

-Son #2’s exhileratied face upon exiting the Superdooperlooper-his first experience going upside down.

-that big smile that illuminiates the world on the face of son #1 peeking out between the bars of a ride way up in the air.

-Daughter #2 telling me that I’m the best Mom in the world

-my two sons rolling around on the grass wrestling with each other while keeping an eye out for duck doo-doo.

-the whole family sitting in the emergency room (yes, the amusement park trip got cut short), making jokes about numbing Son#2's head instead of his hand so that we could call him "numb skull" and the puzzled look on the doctor's face as he peeked in to see what was going on. He didn't know that we are emergency room pros and that we can find something funny in literally everything life throws at us!

-the smile on Son #2’s face when we told him that he is now more spiritual than anyone at church—he has a nail scarred hand.

-my kids running ahead of me and jumping up and down trying to get me to hurry up so that we could stand in line waiting for the next roller coaster. Boy, did they ever have fun!

And others snapshots that I have taken lately are:

-the way Daughter #1 looks when she plays with her puppy. She will be a great Mom some day.

-the way hubby looks when he’s playing softball with his buddies, oblivious to anything else that is going on around him except a lot of yelling and seed spitting.

-the whole family crowded around half a watermelon, each with a fork poised to attack as soon as Daddy cuts another chunk. Sort of reminds me of vultures and road kill.

-Son #2 who always has food on his face, but doesn’t know it and who has never heard of the word "napkin".

-the look on our golden retriever’s face when she lays her head on my husband’s lap and looks like she’s smiling

-My Dad’s smile, especially when he talks of his new girlfriend, “Bib.” They are planning to date for the next 12 years and get married when they are 90. Even I’ll dance at that wedding!

-my sister and I sitting at Red Lobster and laughing about using Dad’s wallet to pay for it while he's laying in a hospital waiting on a pacemaker.

-my husband’s face while he is sleeping—I deleted the ones of him snoring! :-)

-Son #1 and his Dad sitting in the truck, both with ball caps on and elbows hanging out the window (even though son #1 has to strain to get high enough to get his elbow out the window), leaving for work in the morning

-the whole family at Meyer Dairy with their heads cocked to one side frantically licking ice cream cones that are melting fast

-the battle of the sexes: Dear Daughter #1 sitting inbetween her Dad and boyfriend on the couch, watching NCAA football. Dad and boyfriend are sitting forward on the edge of their seats, leaning towards the t.v., eyes wide open, catching every play. DD#1 is leaning back against the back of the couch staring blankly into space

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just One Little Day

Here a passage by J.R Miller.

"Give us today our daily bread." Matthew 6:11

One secret of sweet and happy Christian life--is in learning to LIVE BY THE DAY. It is the long stretches which tire us. We say that "we cannot carry this load until we are eighty--or that we cannot fight this battle continually for half a century." But really, there are no long stretches. Life does not come to us in lifetimes; itcomes only a day at a time. Even tomorrow is never ours--until it becomes today; and we have nothing whatever to do with it--but to pass down to it a fair and good inheritance in today's work well done and today's life well lived.

It is a blessed secret--this of living by the day.

Anyone can carry his burden, however heavy--until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard--for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, quietly, patiently, lovingly, and purely--until the sun goes down. This is all the life which we really ever have--just one little day. God gives us nights to shut down the curtain of darkness on our little days. We cannot see beyond--and we ought not to try to see beyond. Short horizons make life easier, and give us one of the blessed secrets of noble, happy, holy living.

We ought not to be content to live otherwise--than beautifully. We can live our life only once. We cannot go over life again--to correct its mistakes or amend its faults. We ought therefore to live it well. And to do this, we must make every day beautiful, as it passes. Lost days must always remain blanks in the records; and stained days must carry their stains. Beautiful days make beautiful years, and beautiful years make a beautiful life!"

As your days--so shall your strength be." Deuteronomy 33:25

How happy I will be when I finally learn to live
from one day to the next
from one prayer to the next
from precept to precept
from line to line
From strength to strength

What a Day!

We conquered a bear (twice), ran with the storm, endured 97 degrees Fahrenheit, and then got bit by a sidewinder!

We spent the day, or most of it, at an amusement park.  It was the only vacation day we have had all year.

So since the Lord has chosen to dry things up around here, we had another opportunity to take a day off and do something fun together. Daughter #2 and I both LOVE roller coasters! Turns out my two sons are wild men as well now that they are officially jolly ranchers on the height stick at the park!

I gradually worked them up through the 11 roller coasters from the smallest to the scariest, figuring that at some point I would lose son #1--the Dramamine King, but every one they rode was "the best one we've rode yet!" Even my hubby rode a couple, which is very uncharacteristic of him. In years past, it used to be that the guys would ride weeny rides while the girls ran off to tackle the scarey stuff. I guess riding that log flume 15 times in a row, by yourself, would get a little boring after awhile.

The day went along very well except for the price of the very expensive lunch that my hubby and I are still choking on! Talk about getting the wind knocked out of you! We're still counting how many yards we had to mow to pay for that one!

We managed to get most of the roller coasters in and while I took a much deserved rest, (I'm not as young as I used to be, you know) the boys ran off to ride the sidewinder one last time. For those of you who don't know, a sidewinder is a sly, ugly rattlesnake.  Just as hubby and I were settling in on the park bench to wait on the boys, here they came! Surely they didn't ride it that fast! Then I saw it, blood----and lots of it----dripping from the hand of son #2. He got bit by the sidewinder!

Now we have a history in this town. They not only have the amusement park, and famous ice cream, they also have a Medical Center. I lived there for 2 solid months about 9 years ago. It was a family affair. I had cancer surgery while 3 of my little ones recovered from a near fatal car accident. So, needless to say, going to Hershey always leaves me with mixed emotions because of all the memories, good and bad, that I have.

Unfortunately, my son had scratched his hand on a rusty nail protruding from the hand rail on the ramp leading to the coaster. Yep, a way down deep cut and over half an inch long--3 stitches and a tetanus shot size! So we got the privilege of riding a ride at the park that only one other person was privilege to today--the ambulance ride from the park to the medical center. And considering that it was the only night ride we were going to get, I thought they could have at least turned on the lights!

But I can't complain because after how my Dad's heart has been acting lately, I was a little worried that my inherited DNA might cause my heart to do the same thing on some of those rides, but it didn't. I didn't even scream!

I laughed hysterically twice because daughter #2 screamed much like our old youth Pastor when going down those 97 degree drops--reminiscent of a fog horn on a stormy night! Such a big broad sound for a little thin girl! My only real regret is that I didn't get any chocolate!

So now we are home! Safe and mostly sound, except for the cut, heartburn and a charlie horse. (And that's not bad for how much I was tossed, turned, thrown about, and whipped around while plunging down excruciatingly steep hills, looping through excessively high loop-de-loops, and flying between my seat and a safety harness through corkscrew turns at 100 mph!)

I guess we will decide about calling the chiropractor in the morning---IF we can get out of bed!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trash Can Surgery

I have been pondering the verse "the heart is deceitfully wicked, who can know it?", and have come to the conclusion that only God really knows what lies down in the deep recesses of my heart.

I've referred to my heart as life's trash can before, and I'm convinced that it is not far from true. I don't spend a lot of time with my nose in my navel in prayer, i.e. praying about myself, but I do regularly ask and expect the Lord to examine my heart and to dig out any trash that may be in there rotting.

And of course, from time to time, something really stinky from my garbage can becomes quite evident to me and probably others, which tells me that the Lord has been digging around in there and is looking to pull it out and get rid of it. It's never pleasant!

But what is exciting about all of that is that when the Lord does pull something out, He replaces it with something really wonderful--a small dose of Himself. It is always with my permission, but oftentimes without my knowledge. Then He puts me in a situation to test what He has just deposited and when I pass the test, I'm totally surprised!

Lately, I was put in a situation that exposed an area of my heart that normally would have illicited something stinky. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Lord had removed that something stinky and replaced it with a little bit of His character.

I was publically embarrassed by a friend. My first reaction was one of disbelief and a little hurt. But almost within the same split second, I no longer was thinking about how embarrassed I was. I immediately thought, "they have no idea what they just did." And then I actually became troubled for my friend because they had caused themselves to look worse than they had made me look. I was totally taken aback by my reaction!

I was not always like that. Before, I would experience the hurt, some anger, even occasionally some "who do they think they are" kind of stuff. After a little sulking, I would eventually come around to choosing to think the best of that person, would forgive and go on. But this time was different. It was an immediate response and the whole situation didn't trip me up even a little.

Now my husband happened to witness the whole situation and talked to me about it later. I told him that I had just chosen to let it go because I just couldn't believe that what the situation looked like to others was actually what was in the heart of my friend. He agreed, but made me promise if it happened again, I would say something to that person. And I will, but not because of me, but out of love for my friend.

I just love when I am put in situations where I am pressed just a little because it's a good way to know when the Lord has been digging around in my trashcan and when I need to take off the lid for Him to have a look-see.

It's nice to know that He is still working on me! Sometimes, it stinks, and I can then go to the Lord and say, "get this out of there!" But when it doesn't stink, it lets out the sweet aroma of Christ to those around me.

I take no credit for any change that happens in my heart, my mind, or my character. It's all God. It's amazing to me that only God can change a heart. As knowledgable, self sufficient, and independent as we are, we are helpless when it comes to changing the very nature inside of us. Anything good found in there is unreservedly of His creation!

So to God I say "Dig on!" Dig out every piece of smelly trash that you can find. Even those things that seem permantly stuck to the inside of my heart. Take your scalpel and scrape it clean until I am a vessel full of YOU!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Laughing Down Memory Lane

I love my sister! She is 5 years older than me. She has a great sense of humor. And since we're grown now, she has stopped spraying me with scalding hot water when we do dishes. (My Dad got an automatic dishwasher so we don't do dishes anymore!). She didn't once run away from me on her bicycle the whole 3 days we've been together, hence, I was not in the emergency room with my Dad getting my knees sewn back together because I was chasing after her. We figured Dad getting his heart started again was probably enough for the emergency room to handle for one day.

She still thinks my nickname should be "the agitator", but she loves me anyway!

She is a little weird. She drinks coffee through a straw. My son asked his Dad why Aunt Banana drinks coffee through a straw. He answered "she's from the west coast, and people from the west coast are weird." Doesn't the name "Aunt Banana" prove this out? So my son's young impressionable mind has been completely corrupted against moving to CA, OR or WA. Which is fine with me because I want to see my grandchildren more than once a year!

It's been an interesting 3 days.

We spent some of it in the hospital listening to a raving lunatic in the next bed who had the dirtiest mouth I have ever heard, well, not THE dirtiest, but it was close! I almost had to hold my sister back from rushing to the aid of a nurse when the guy grabbed a hold of her and wouldn't let go amidst the yells of "you're killing me!", "I'm calling the police", "oh, oh, why are you doing this to me?'", and many other things that I cannot write in this blog!

So we, the family, had to soundly convince the hospital staff to get my Dad moved into a room where he could actually recover from the shock of being in the hospital and get rested up from having his heart jumpstarted--twice! The second roomie wasn't a whole lot better in terms of letting my Dad get some sleep, but at least he was only coughing, snoring and spitting, talking on the phone (no cuss words), and watching t.v. until 4am! I think they need a curfew at the hospital and not just for the visitors!

While my poor Dad was recovering from getting a pacemaker to regulate his heart and a defibrillator to start his heart if it ever decides to race again, my sister and I took his wallet. You can't leave it in the hospital room, after all--someone might steal his money! We made sure that it was in good working order. (The red lobster agrees that it works just fine!) Then we made up some wild story about going to the outlet mall (after the dinner that he so graciously provided, in abstentia), and maxing out two of his credit cards and convincing the retail clerk that the reason my card said J. W------- was because they couldn't fit Josephine onto the credit card signature space! We were sure that this would thoroughly test his new pacemaker AND the defibrillator, which we felt, as his daughters, was important before they let him out of the hospital!

Then we sat around reminiscing about old times- like the night we arrived home after dark, following a rain storm. As we came around the back of the car, we noticed the biggest earth worm we had ever seen!!! So we both bent down to examine it closely. As we knelt down and got our faces real close, the worm stood up on end!!!! It was a baby snake!

My Dad about fell off the porch swing laughing as he described the two of us plastered together between the screen door and the kitchen door, screaming our fool heads off because the kitchen door was locked and neither one of us was going to step back onto the carport to make room for the other to find the house key! It was the closest we sisters had ever been!

Upon arriving home from the hospital the sis chased butterflies all over the neighborhood. (Another proof west coasters are strange). She has some fascination with them lately. (I think it's because her cat died or menopause or something.) I was thinking that maybe her and the crazy man roomate might need to check into the same hospital. What 53 year old woman that you know runs around the neighborhood chasing butterflies?

We totally tested my Dad's new heart when we ran off with his new girlfriend leaving him to lay in his hospital gown and fret over what we going to say to her! We were just welcoming her to the family! She's a sweetie! She now knows all his dirty little secrets--his worst nightmare!

He retaliated by drinking soda all day and getting himself dehydrated to the point that his heart rate dropped to 38 with a pacemaker! Luckily, we figured it out before we bagged him up and hauled his carcass back to the hospital.

We ended up in a fast food restaurant once for lunch--because I will not eat at one more hospital cafeteria EVER AGAIN for the rest of my life! We have decided that fast food clerks are taken from the ranks of brain dead people who are still up walking around. I'm pretty sure that the one that waited on me has a relative that works in my hometown McDonald's. They have the same hair style, the same blank stare and ice tea was involved.

I think we all must have a little west coast in us because we had a blast at the hospital, either laughing with my Dad or at him! It's a shame that he has to almost die in order for my sister and I to get to spend some time together. We never got along as kids, but now we get along famously--kind of like Thelma and Louise. Yep! I love my sister!

I'm a Copycat!

Found this on a friend's blog. Thought it was good. Hope you enjoy it!

I could NOT resist posting this article! It is funny, well-written, and helpful to those of us who are embarrassed from time to time. (Anyone NOT fit this category?) It's written by Jenny Schroedel. Enjoy!

My church was seeking a head priest, or a rector. I saw a priest praying, and assumed he was a candidate for the position. Not being the shy sort, I didn’t hesitate to ask him. “Excuse me — are you applying to be the rectum of our church?”

He looked up at me, and for a few dreadful moments I had no idea what I had said wrong. But the blank look on his face spoke volumes, and finally the awful realization sunk in. What do you do at a time like that? Sheepishly, I turned around and left, before any more damage could be done.

It happens to all of us, of course. Sometimes you trip over your tongue and fall flat on your face. The worst moment comes just after your fumble, as you realize your gross, grammatical gaffe — the social typo that you can never, ever erase.

First, the blunder makes you want to crawl into a hole. But even if you do find a hole large enough for you and your bruised ego, your blunder follows you there — taking up permanent residence in your brain. (At least it feels like it’ll be permanent.) It rears its ugly head just when you are most vulnerable: As you drift off to sleep or when you’re waiting on your date’s doorstep.

I have a collection of “embarrassing moment” mental videos shelved in my brain. Tucked between a few unmentionables is this clip: One time I entered a bakery and exclaimed, “Look at those great buns!” only to realize that a man with his back to me leaning against the pastry case thought I was talking about him.

But some of my embarrassing moments aren’t funny at all. They make me cringe because they involve somebody other than me: somebody whose feelings got hurt by my tactless words, or somebody I ran over with my Great Big Opinions. Other moments are painful because they point to academic and professional failures.

Getting a Grip
When these moments spring to mind, I have two options. I can draw the shades, crawl into bed, and ruminate on into eternity. I can make unfavorable comparisons between myself and Job. I can echo Anne of Green Gables, lamenting, “My life is just a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

Or I can get a grip.

The key to grip-grasping is admitting you blew it. After you own up, you apologize. Then the hardest part comes: You move on. Alcoholics Anonymous has it down pat: “You name it, you claim it, and then you dump it.”

The redeeming value of these experiences is that they birth humility. Humility allows us to recognize our weaknesses (and flakiness) without despair. Humility sees life — and our fledgling attempts to live it — with unblinking realism, and yet it allows us to glimpse the comedy in our foibles. Pride scolds and ruminates, but humility laughs.

Most importantly, humility frees us from the need to rationalize, helping us to see the truth and yet be gentle with ourselves. Humility corrects our vision — pointing toward God’s infinite forgiveness and inspiring us to respond to ourselves in kind.

Failure in the Real World
When I was in college, my less-glowing moments seemed to suggest future failures. I thought, If I can’t do things perfectly now, how will I make it in the real world? When I interned at a newspaper, each of my typos caused an earthquake in my heart. One of the editors said something I will never forget: “Aim for perfection, but don’t expect it.”

Our blunders can be an asset in the real world, if we are able to own up to them and learn from them. A friend of mine who does a good deal of hiring and firing for a corporation tells me that one of the first questions she asks a prospective employee is “How do you deal with failure?”

According to my friend, even people in business blow it. If a person tells her that they have never failed, she assumes one of three things: They don’t take risks, they can’t face failure, or they don’t work well with other people. My friend says that major American corporations seek employees who are real about their limitations and willing to work through them.

Laughter and Prayer

If our fumbling moments aren’t edifying, at least they can be entertaining. Sometimes, my blunders are so funny that I laugh out loud all by myself! The other day, I cracked open a fortune cookie and found the quote I’d been scouring quotation anthologies for: “The person who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.” But we’re not the only funny ones! God’s creation reflects his humor and playfulness — have you ever seen a platypus? Reinhold Niebuhr wrote: “Humor is the prelude to faith, and laughter is the beginning of prayer.” When we see God’s delighted fingerprints all over world, our hearts open to him in a fresh way. We are part of his wild and quirky creation. We surrender to this reality when we laugh at ourselves.

In The Magician’s Nephew, C.S. Lewis described Narnia’s first joke. Aslan told the new creatures to never become beasts. They said they wouldn’t in unison, except for one Jackdaw who boldly cried out, “No fear!” Because everyone else had already stopped speaking, the Jackdaw’s words rang out loudly, and he hid his head under his wing in embarrassment.

When the animals began to laugh, the Jackdaw realized he’d done something funny. “ ‘Aslan! Aslan! Have I made the first joke? Will everybody always be told that I made the first joke?

’‘No, little friend,’ said the Lion. ‘You have not made the first joke; you have only been the first joke.’ ”
Every now and then each of us gets to be the joke. But when we stumble, we won’t fall so hard of we take ourselves lightly. Humility helps us to recover our balance — to see how small we are and how healing laughter can be.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Daddy Almost Died Today

My Dad went to the hospital today to have a test done on his heart. Right in the middle of it, his heart went crazy and they had to use the paddles to revive him. Tomorrow he will be receiving a pace maker/difibulator to help the electrical impulses be strong enough to make his heart beat correctly.

I guess in the scheme of things, a pace maker is not a major operation. So maybe I have not much reason to be overly concerned. But I am a Christian. I know that a man MUST be born again and my Daddy is not. The thought of my Dad coming so close to eternity without Christ is just crazy frightening. After he's crossed that line, there is no return, there is not reprieve, there are no more chances to get right with God. There is only eternity.

I've talked to my Dad about Christ before, but he attends a church that has caused him to believe that if he goes to church, says a prayer of confession every Sunday, gives some money to the church, prays a little prayer every night before going to bed, and lives a life full of good works, he is fine. And he has done all those things, and done them well.  He has been a good father, a good provider.  He sacrificed his time and money to make sure that his children had every opportunity that he could possibly provide.  He was a faithful husband and son.  In most ways that the world would judge success, he would be considered successful. 

Unfortunately, he has totally missed the Biblical fact of his complete and total depravity without Christ. He does not understand that all the good works he has done are as filthy rags to God. He doesn't get it that the only thing that God is satisfied with is Christ and that for God to satisfied with us we must be found dead IN Christ. I've tried to tell him, but the unwise words and action of others who have gone before me have tainted his ability to really listen and consider what I have to say.  And possibly some of my own actions and words have hurt as well when I've allowed my desperation to overcome my faith and patience. 

I can't explain how I felt when I heard how close to leaving this world my Daddy came today. It almost felt as if I was having a heart attack myself. In my mind, I know that the grace and comfort of God would have been mine in abundance, but the thought of my Daddy in hell is more than I can bear.

The Word says that we, as Christians, do not mourn the same way as the world mourns, but if a Christian loses a loved one to hell, I can imagine that their mourning would be the worst kind of mourning that there is. The unsaved mourn because death is so final and unknown for them. The redeemed mourn more for themselves than the redeemed one who has passed from this life to the next. Our mourning does only endure for a night, but joy comes quickly as we anticipate that the next meeting will mean that we never have to say goodbye ever again.

But the greatest finality comes when two people who have loved on this earth pass, one to eternal life, the other to eternal death. There is an impassable gulf between the two which can never be breached for all eternity. Our chances to secure eternity in heaven are gone--forever.

As I sat and pondered this tonight, I looked towards the mountains. "I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord...." I can honestly say that the sunset tonight was the most beautiful I have ever seen. The sky looked as if it was on fire! Above the skyline, the clouds feathered out like fingers as if God was telling me that He has my world and my life in His hand. I sat and watched until the sun was all the way down and as day sunk into night, I prayed for my Daddy and I thanked God for being my life, my hope, and my future.

Monday, August 18, 2008

They're Gone!

They're all gone!

My Dad, whom I see very rarely.
My sister, whom I see one day a year.
My kids, who are on their way to grandmas!

Fortunately we had a nice visit! That's not always a given. I loved seeing my sister. We have so much fun together, even it it's only for one day a year. And my kids, well, I'm glad that they get to go to grandma's for a few days, but shoot, they aren't even there yet and I miss them already!

The house is so quiet. My hubby is taking a well deserved nap, the second of the day. The dog is probably chewing another hot spot that is trying to make an appearance on her backside. All I hear is the drone, drone of the dehumidifier. No banging drums, no excited screams about what songs are on the radio, no thump, thump of a tennis ball being thrown against the house.

My friends seem to think that I should be excited about them being gone for a few days, but for some reason, I'm not. Sure, I'll get to eat liver and onions, salmon, and all the things they don't like or we can't afford if they are all here. Sure, I won't have all the laundry to do, the Knex roller coasters to walk around, the Knex pieces to pull out of my feet, the freeze pop papers to dig out from under the couch, the constant stream of dishes on the table, and when I want a snack, there might actually be something left to snack on. But that doesn't seem to excite me this time. I miss my kids!!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lessons Learned From My Kids

Life is full of opportunities to learn spiritual lessons. As a parent, I try to use life's lessons to offer spiritual lessons to my children. They are usually more effective because they are relevant to where they are at the moment and real enough to make sense. But honestly, sometimes I feel like the kid because so very often my kids end up being the ones teaching me.

~~It's surprising what you can learn about yourself by observing your kids.
We mostly sit in the same chairs at the table when we eat, so every chair has a name, Mom's chair, Dad's share, etc. Occasionally we end up sitting somewhere other than "our chair" and when we do, my kids get the biggest hoot out of pretending to be the person that normally would be sitting there. When one of my kids sits in my chair, I get a good presentation of what I sound like to the rest of my family.

For instance, yesterday my oldest son was sitting in my chair and he looked at his older sister who was sitting in his chair and said, "Bubby, stop talking and eat---NOW!" Ouch, I thought, do I really sound like that? It made me stop and think about how I am perceived as a mother by my children, hmmmmmm maybe I should work on that.~~

~~When my kids were toddlers, I devised a game called "the manners game" to try to make learning proper table manners fun. I would put a small votive candle holder at each place and put a hand full of Skittles, M&M's, or nuts inside. During dinner any improper manners resulted in having one removed from the holder, but good manners resulted in one being placed into the holder. Whatever was in their holder at the end of the meal was theirs to eat. My kids loved this game and still, even as teenagers ask to play. (mostly because their Dad always loses! He only plays games on his own terms so he is behind immediately because he sometimes wears his ball cap at the table. )

I have noticed something though. The only time their manners are good are when we are playing the game. When we're not, they revert back to their usual plethora of animal noises, bodily noises, reaching across the table, sneaking anything they don't want to eat under the table to the dog, best burp contests, grossest teeth contests, and wiping their mouths on their shirts instead of a napkin----a napkin?????? What's that???

It so reminds me that we, as Christians need to keep our eyes on the rewards of doing things God's way--of playing by God's rules. It's the only way that we can be assured that we will win in the end and receive the crown of righteousness (way better than skittles), on the judgement day. I hear so many people preach and teach that there is no need to live by a set of rules and regulations, but if they are God's rules and regulations, then yes, we do need to live by them, or we will be disqualified and lose our reward!

I've been criticized as a parent because I have used the reward system for many things, but isn't that what God does?? Doesn't He say "if you will do this, then I will do this?" Doesn't the Word tell us that "if" we obey His commands, we will inherit eternal life? Doesn't God lay down rules of the game for us to follow and if we don't we lose and are disqualified? Aren't we all pressing towards the "prize" of the high calling of Jesus Christ?~~

~~My oldest son was the cutest little punkin head you ever saw. But as he grew in his toddler years, I noticed that he was excessively selfish. What in the world was this, I thought? My first tendency was to worry, then to be mad--after all, he was closing in on all of 3 years of age and he should know better!

But one afternoon as I was expressing my extreme displeasure to the Lord, the Lord asked me a question. Why do you think he acts that way? And then my own attitudes and behaviors flashed before me like a 3-D movie! "Oh," I said. And as I began to adjust my attitudes and behaviors, I noticed that the kids just kind of fell in line and I never had to talk to them about their stinking behavior, I just had to adjust my own!

Honestly, I think God gives us kids because they force us to grow up!

~~I think the greatest spiritual lesson I ever learned was from my oldest daughter when she was not very old. We were youth pastors in a country town and drove nearly 60 miles a day to and from work. At one point we were out nearly 4-5 nights a week doing church activities. Our daughter was around 3-4 at the time. We took her everywhere we went. The youth loved her (she was awful cute), and she loved being with them too. But after a few months of the schedule, I noticed that she was having some physical trouble. (I won't say that she got extremely constipated because I wouldn't want to embarrass her!). So I started having my husband drop us home before taking all the youth home so that I could get her to bed a little earlier because we had to be up, fed and on the road by 7am every morning.
One evening, I had a terrible headache. Upon arriving home, I sent her in to get her jammies on and go to the bathroom before going to bed. She was extremely tired and crying a lot, which was not helping my head. I lost it, yelled at her and swatted her on the rear. I then put her in bed, still crying. As I lay there in the dark, all I could hear was the best thing that had ever happened to me laying in bed sniffling. I then realized that she was tired and probably felt as bad as I did. She really hadn't done anything wrong and I had reacted in a totally unchristian and unmotherly manner. I climbed out of bed, went in to her room, took her in my arms and apologized to her, telling her that I was wrong and that I should not have reacted the way that I did. I told her I was sorry that I had hurt her and that I loved her. By the time I was done, I was sniffling more than she was. She just laid there, unmoving, not speaking--just sniffling. All the sudden, she turned over, put both her arms around my neck, pressed every square inch of her body up next to mine and said, "It's okay Mommy, I forgive you". And then she kissed me on the cheek.

It was right then that I realized the forgiveness and the love that God has for us. We were much worse than anything that she had done. We deserved punishment. But when we go to Him and say we're sorry, His response is the same as hers. He reaches out, takes us in His arms and says "it's okay, I forgive you." I have never forgotten that night, but I pray that she has. I have never forgotten how the Holy Spirit used that night to speak to me about His forgiveness, how it is complete and how every wrong is fully forgotten and how God can be angry with us one minute and holding us in His arms pouring all of His love on us the next. Such Love!~~

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Poison Ivy, Mosquitoes and Big Fluffy Trees

I live in a town that is home to a university.

Part of our town's "cultural bubble" includes the oft-taught philosophy that we are to embrace the diversity and preferences of others and to have tolerance for the things that we find offensive. I guess I can fit into that, to a point, being a minister's wife. There are often people whom I come into contact with that I am required to love, both by the Word of God, and by the virtue that God has put me in their lives to be a blessing and a help to them. And frankly, sometimes, their neediness is quite obvious and a huge character test for me! But every now and then, I drop the ball and Monday was one of those days! If I had been in a football game, I would have been penalized 25 yds. for unpastorlylike conduct. Well, I didn't actually DO anything, but in the New Testament economy, thinking is the same as doing, so....I'm guilty!

I guess I was having one of those "atypical" pastor's wife days! Instead of thinking the best, having patience and understanding, and bearing up, I managed to think of several not so "typically" pastoral things to do with the blossoms of a tree that belonged to the neighbor of one of our customers. Let me explain.

By virtue of the Lord's design and plan for my life, I am responsible for mowing 42 of the communities finest yards. I know, not a "typical" profession for a woman or a pastor's wife. (There are many things about the Lord's plans, I don't understand, but I have to believe that it's all good! Yes, I believe......yes, I believe!) When I arrived at one of our nicest properties, I couldn't believe my eyes! It had snowed!! The grass was white, the bushes were white, even the driveway was white. Now it has been unseasonably cool for August , but I didn't recall it being quite that cold!

I soon discovered that the neighbor has a row of trees in her backyard which produce blooms that look similar to a light you might find hanging in a disco. When the bloom has matured, it turns into cottony, fluffy, balls that blow wherever the wind decides. Unfortunately, our customer is directly down wind. This cottony refuse was laying about an inch thick on the grass and even thicker on $1000.00 of freshly spread, BLACK mulch. To make matters worse, rain was in the forecast which would soak this stuff and cause it to lay on and kill the freshly fertilized grass. Now, I know that wouldn't be my fault, but most customers think that anything that goes wrong in the yard must be because I did something to it.

What makes matters worse is that the proud owner of these should-be-outlawed-and-cut-down trees has a hissy fit if any grass clippings land in her yard when we mow. So we make extra passes and walk extra steps with a blower to make sure that her yard is left just as we found it.

As I drove the mower through the grass, it just came out the shoot in huge whitish-greenish clumps! What didn't go through the mower was flying like a swarm of killer bees around my head, up my nose, in my mouth, and down my shirt. Somehow, amidst all the gagging, spitting and sneezing, I managed to get the grass mowed. Now, here is where my not so neighborly, nor Christian (as my holy husband reminded me) behavior occured.

At first I had thoughts of bagging all the stuff up and dumping it onto her front yard which quickly led to other places I would put some of it if I had the opportunity. Then I noticed that as I blew it, the grass clippings and the fuzzy stuff separated, so I caused a "wind" with my blower that just happened to blow it all back into her yard. I was only replacing what belonged to her! Truth was, I had to blow it somewhere.

To be honest, my thought life was quite disappointing to me, and I'm sure to God. After all, He did make those trees along with mosquitoes and poison ivy--just 3 of the things on my list to ask Him about when and IF I make it to heaven. I don't hold Him responsible though for planting them there--that was totally HER doing!

And so, I am humbled in my opinion of who I thought I was, in the eyes of my hubby, and in the sight of my God, whom I need so desperately, day by day, hour by hour, and minute by minute to help keep this old red neck country girl under control!

I'm reminded that He never gives up on me. He is patient, LONGsuffering, and kind. (He must be, I haven't been directly struck by lightning yet). I'm also disappointed because I was what most non-Christians perceive as obnoxious-poison ivy, mosquitoes, big fluffy trees, and a "typical" Pastor's wife--sweet on the outside, but nasty on the inside. (yes, I've polled them and this is their general consensus.)

So I lost a down and some yards in my efforts to win this contest we call life. Fortunately in life and football, all fumbles are not game ending! So I've gone back to the huddle fully realizing that I'll probably have to run that play again--probably next week, when I go there to mow! Please, Lord, help me score this time!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marriage Lessons (Proverbs 31 and Me-part 2)

Since I am not a theologian, I can't expound on the Pr. 31 woman from a theological point of view. But I can share what God's Words have meant to me as a wife. And as I shared with a person just last week, we have to be careful how we share because people cannot read our hearts, they can only form perceptions from our words, actions, body language and intonation.

Since this is the internet, we're down to 1/4, so let me precurse this by saying that I am not saying that everyone, or anyone for that matter, should be like me! In fact, I am a FIRM believer in the creativity and ingenuity of my Creator and I honestly don't think that from the outside looking in, any P31 wife will look exactly the same. As I mentioned before, the common thread among P31 women is their Godly character, so there will be some constants in that arena, but as far as what we do as P31 women, and how we do it, well the sky is the limit!

I have gone from the pit to the palace in the marriage arena over a course of 26 years. I'm still married to the same man, and I fall more in love with him every day. I would rather be with him than any other person on this globe, and I love living, working, laughing and loving with him.

Now, before you think I'm tooting my own horn, I want you to know that I was very dysfunctional as a new bride, very selfish, very immature, very inexperienced, and was carrying a short lifetime of baggage everywhere I went from my family situations and upbringing. I did not have a mother who trained me in righteousness or in being a wife. (In fact, as I remember back on "the talk" the night before my wedding day, I'm still horrified at how little my Mom was willing to share with me about marriage, housekeeping, raising children, and love.) So anything that I have learned or managed to accomplish is simply because I have well worn calluses on both knees from daily, desperate prayer. And I have a God who had mercy on me and heard my desperate cries for help.

As I studied P31, I found an interesting thing. When we are instructed in Eph. 5:22 to "be subject" to our husbands, that word actually means that we are to form ourselves around or adapt ourselves to our husbands. So to me that immediately means that the responsibility of change is on me, not him. We are to be "one", so one of us has to go through some changes in order for us to blend well enough to become one.

We alter our clothes to fit our bodies, not our bodies to fit our clothes. In that same way, we are to alter ourselves to fit our husbands. We are not one size fits all! This was made evident to me when my husband voiced to me once that a friend of mine, who is a very godly woman, would drive him nuts if he was married to her! Why? Because she is adapted to her husband, not mine!

As a woman, I was created and designed to be a helper, and helpers will do whatever they have to do to "help". As I learn to embrace the unique place of womanhood in God's Divine hierarchy, and to realize that perfection in life can be found right smack in the middle of that place, a wondrous thing has happened. As willingness to submit, to adapt, to change, to sacrifice, and to serve increase, I experience a corrosponding increase in the personal and spiritual freedom that I have as a woman and a Christian. It is very paradoxial. The more I die, the more alive I feel. The more I submit, the more freedom I experience.

Most women I know are constantly trying to change their husbands to fit them, instead of trying to change themselves to adapt to their husband. It's so easy to put unrealistic expectations on your mate and then to grow bitter when they don't measure up to or meet those expectations. Unrealistic expectations soon lead to exasperation!

As P31 women, we must look to God to meet EVERY need that we have! Sure, a lot of the time God will use our husbands to meet them, but ultimately our needs are met by God. When I began to look to God as the one who meets my needs, the pressure of my unrealistic expectations was lifted from my husband and he actually began to take joy in meeting my needs. He no longer felt obligated and pressured and he was free to love me in his own way. I, in turn, have had to learn to let him love me in his own way and to appreciate and treasure his expressions of love.

Every woman has seen the chick flick movies where the man always does the perfect thing in the perfect way at the perfect time and we have dreamed of our husbands doing those same things. But the bare reality is that it is not that way. Neither are we the woman they would envision and desire if there were the same kind of chick flicks for men! But that does not diminish or enhance the degree of love that we feel for our mates or that they feel for us.
When I married my husband, I made a covenant with God to love, honor and cherish my him every day. At some point along the way, I got confused and thought that instead of making a covenant, I had signed a contract. And since I didn't feel that my husband was meeting his end of the bargain, I didn't feel the need to fulfill my contractual obligations either. How wrong I was and how much pain I must have caused my husband by witholding love and affection from him, constantly nagging and complaining while he continued to work to support us and to honor God in his marriage. In many ways I feel that there will not be enough days for me to make up for all the pain he suffered as a result of my immaturity and selfishness.
I also learned that good marriages don't just happen. They aren't made in heaven, but in the every day trenches of life. Marriage is a God idea, but if a marriage is left unattended, it will quickly go from being heavenly to being a mess made in hell. I discovered that the wedding day was not the end of the chase, it was the beginning of the race. It became evident very quickly that it was much easier setting up house than it is to keep it clean.

The one thing that dirtied my house more than anything was offense. I lived in a constant cesspool of offense towards my husband. And you know what? Life stunk! But as I learned to take the 1 Cor. 13 approach, especially of allowing love to always think the best of another person, my feelings, words and actions towards my husband changed and I became less and less offended by his actions. I came to realize that the problem was not his actions, it was my perception of his actions, but since I viewed everything through an offended heart, my perceptions were very warped. I was blinded by them and missed the goodness that was my true reality. As I turned my marriage over to God, I learned that trust in God and my husband is what takes over in guarding my heart, mind and tongue when love is having a hard day.

And of course I, like everyone have hard days. Days when old feelings, perceptions and thoughts invade my mind. Days when my character doesn't line up with what I believe in regards to my husband. Days when I find myself disrespecting, or tending towards not submitting to his thoughts, ideas, or decisions. Days when the Holy Ghost catches me rolling my eyeballs, muttering under my breath, or allowing a little "simmering" of my emotions. But just as quickly as He catches me He can bring me back around to "doing my husband good ALL of my days" so that his heart can trust in me".

When I look back on all that the last 26 years has taught me, I stand in awe at what God can do in a heart, life and marriage. But what is much more exciting is that as I look ahead to another 26 years, I realize that I serve an inexhaustible God, who can and will continue to guard and build my marriage. I can look at my future and smile! And when it comes to being the kind of wife that I was designed to be, I can believe that someday, I will hear him say "you excel them all!"

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bumps in the Night

Every mother has been awakened in the night by her children crying out in fear because of a bad dream or strange noises. (When I was a kid, I used to think there were tigers in the hallway, but it was really only my Dad snoring. :-) What they are wanting is for us to give them comfort to calm their fears, so they cry out for us to come and help them. Now there are some situations where the only acceptable solution is "MOM"--in the flesh MOM. She can't lay in bed and yell to them, "I'm sending you some peace right now--wait for it--it's coming." She can't place her photo by their bedside so that they can look at it. No, she has to get out of bed, trudge down the stairs, crawl into bed with them, wrap her arms around them and tell them everything is going to be alright. She is the only one that can make them forget that nasty dream, or actually find the cause of that scarey noise so that their fears will be relieved. She can't separate what they need from herself, it's a package deal. What they need is what she is, MOM.

It's the same way with Christ. What we need can only be found IN Him. When He gives us peace, forgiveness, healing, provision or any of the myriad of blessings that He can provide, He doesn't separate those things from Himself. No, He gives us Himself, and all those things are ours because we are with Him. This makes the Christian life so simple. We don't have to go to God with a grocery list of things that we need. All we need to do is to pursue, seek diligently, and desire one thing--HIM--and all that we could ever want or need is right there.

The Bible tells us that "He knows our needs before we ask." It also says that He is Jehovah Jireh, our provider". This means that He has gone before us and left every provision that we will need at exactly the right spot, so that when we get there on our journey, we will have it! I experienced this to the greatest degree in my life as I stood on the side of a road amidst blaring sirens, flashing lights, men yelling, paramedics running, and snow lightly but quietly falling. It's funny, the thing I noticed the most was the silence of the snow falling. And in the midst of this seemingly tragic scene, I heard the still small voice of God saying to me, "See, I have already done in you all those things that you have been seeking me about for the past 6 months. And today was the proofing of my provision for you." (But that's another story).

It may seem like semantics to some, but there is a big difference between wanting what God can provide and wanting Him. And so many times we are taught, even in church, to go after the things we need from Him without being taught that HE is all we need, in fact, without Him, we are in a very desperate situation. "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you!" What a glorious promise! If we simply reside in Christ, all that we need will naturally be ours as well. We don't have to chase after them, they come with HIM! We are promised that "if we will seek Him, we will be found of Him, if we seek Him with all of our heart." And the more we come to know Him, the more lovely, awesome, and indescribably wonderful He becomes. This, in turn, produces faith which makes the power available to overcome any obstacle that may be in our way.

It's hard to have faith in someone we don't know. In fact, having faith in someone we aren't familiar with is just plain dumber than a 5 lb. bag of stupid. So many times, people who really don't know God say they have faith in Him, but when things don't work out the way they thought they should, then their perception of God is marred and their faith is smashed. But the truth of the matter is that they really didn't know God well enough to be able to bank everything on the reputation of His name, and that is unbelief.

When we truly know God, it's not hard to trust in what He says completely, unreservedly, and with complete peace and confidence. So embrace Christ--just Christ! There is nothing else!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Wrestled a Snake and Won!

Now don't go thinkin' that I've converted to a W. Va. rattlesnake wrestling religion! I'm talking about our church's sound system snake, the tube that carries all the wires that connect the keyboards, drums, guitars, and mics to the sound board! It is/was located under the floor of the church between the floor and the downstairs ceiling and it pops up through the floor right at the sound booth and right beside the keyboard.

Well, our church is re-locating, so we had to take the literal miles and miles of wires and wind them into neat little bundles. We had to unhook an amp, 2 monitors, 2 speakers, 3 monitor control boxes, two keyboards, 3 microphones and two other pieces of equipment that I have no idea what they do--and all that was only on one side of the snake. The other end had it's fair share of plugs as well, one for every channel on our quite extensive sound board. They were even more fun! We had to take each head and unscrew 3 screws that are a little bigger than an eye glass screw. Then we had to pop the head off the connecter to expose 3 wires that were sottered on. Being very careful not to burn the wires, we had de-sotter each one. Once the wires were disconnected we had to reinsert the head in the plug and screw everything back together. I know, that sounds tedious! IT WAS!!!! ( And by the way, all those screws will need to be unscrewed again, and all those connections re-sottered by Sunday! Any volunteers???

After several hours of de-sottering, which included inflicting about half a dozen 3rd degree burns to my hands and legs, and one third degree burn to my helper--sorry Brian--we managed to get it ready to be removed from under the floor. But first we had to take the strip off the floor that smooths over the joint between where the linoleum stops and the carpet starts. Then we had to pull the carpet back off the floor about a foot to uncover the hole where the snake disappeared into the floor to begin it's long journey to the other end of the building (or the center of the earth, whichever came first), where it once again popped up under that same carpet, which we also had to pull out from the wall and off the floor. (We only tore it once! Shhhhhhh!)

As we began, it became abundantly clear that that snake liked his home and really wasn't interested in picking up stakes and moving somewhere else. He was encased in a nice rubber type pipe, so trying to slide rubber against rubber was not an easy proposition. We started out with two people--one on each end and soon gave up on that. Then we added another to hold the carpet back so that we could get a better angle on the snakes hole. That didn't work either. Everytime we pushed the snake into his hole, the hole wanted to go along with the snake. So I had to reach down there with pliers and pull it back up through the floor and then hold it into position flush with the floor, using my bare hands, while someone else pushed the snake into it. That all went along fine until the rubber from the snake added a few 2nd degree burns to my fingers as I held the hole in place, and a few cracked and bleeding knuckles as they got splinters from the floor and cuts from wire mesh surrounding the snake at certain points. But I was so determined that get that sucker out of there, I would just take a deep breath and tell the poor traumatized teenager to go ahead and push and ignore my screams! (sorry Scott!--you did great!). Hey, I had 4 children! So I figured this couldn't be worse than that, right?

Meanwhile on the other end, my burned friend was pulling with all his might! Now, I've always thought that snakes were slippery looking, and they are, but this snake acutally WAS slippery. It had been greased with silicon 10 years before. Unfortunately for us, the rest of the movers had loaded up most everything in the church so we had no supplies to find something to help get a grip on the other end of the snake. We opted to use a pair of curtains we found laying outside an office that may have been intended for the new building, but we figured that it is easier to get forgiveness than to ask for permission. But even with the curtains (sorry Linda), it still didn't work. So we added another person's muscles pulling on the other end, but it still didn't work. Finally we added a third and we were able to pull that snake all the way through!

It seemed ridiculous that a few wires tucked into a rubber tube could cause so much trouble, but they did. And I thought, we would have never gotten this out, just the two of us. What was nice was that when we needed help, all we had to do was call and someone came running to come along beside us and help push or pull, whatever was needed at the time.

For me, it was spiritual lesson as well. We need each other!! Every now and then we have to battle a big, slippery snake of our own. On our own, we can push and pull with all our might, but it just doesn't budge. But when we include our brothers and sisters in Christ in our problems, or our weaknesses, or our injuries (ouch, it still hurts!), things change. It doesn't seem so hopeless because there are more ideas and usually some comfort, and when my friends are involved, some comic relief to help the project seem not quite so impossible. They are there to encourage, to help, to care (thanks again Scott--you really were great!), and when it's all over, to REJOICE over the victory! The Bible says that there is wisdom in many counselors. So I have decided that when I'm stuck, I'm going to go to my friends and tell them what's up. I'm going to trust in their prayers and not worry that they will think badly of me. They won't because I hang with the Godly who live by the 1 Cor. 13 principle and love me in spite of my quirks and personality flaws. When they see a quirk or flaw, they pray for me and I appreciate that!

You see, I know nothing about sound equipment AT ALL! (I'm only in charge because I'm the Pastor's wife and when you have no one to do something, that's her job! It falls under the category of "helping" your husband, I think!!???) I know how to push the 3 little buttons that turn it all on and off and that's it! Through the years, I have had to learn, but I still don't understand it! When there's a problem I pray and then pick a knob, any knob and turn it to see if it helps or not! And when I became a Christian, I knew nothing about God or living for Christ. And through the years I have had to learn, but the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know much about that either! On the one end, it's very basic and elementary, "love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." But on the other end of that is a very, very, very BIG GOD who just keeps getting bigger the more I know about Him. So when I am stuck, for whatever reason--my flesh, my ignorance of the Word, or perhaps I am battling a big slippery snake--I know that I can count on my brothers and sisters in Christ and that they will willingly come to my aid, give me good advice and stay with me until the snake is laying in a heap at my feet. How blessed I am to have the best band of "peeps" (thanks little Naomi) as my family in Christ. I love you ALL!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

If These Sheep Could Talk

These sheep are made entirely from telephones and cords! Their faces are telephone bases and their bodies are made of cords. Their feet are handsets. They are in the Museum of Communications in Frankfurt, Germany. Sorrry about the poor quality photos because they are quite exquisite and imaginative!

When I get together with my friend who emailed this to me, we have a habit of getting pretty silly, reverting back in age at least 15 years. We came up with some things these fellows might say if they could talk.

~Uh, excuse me Baaabet, but your face is ringing!

~Yep, that preacher really had my number this Sunday!

~Wilbur, I don't think you're wrapped to tight.

~Yeh, that Lambchops chick has been places. If only those feet could talk! Oh wait, they can talk!

~Do you like me new hair doo? It's called the Broken Slinky look and I had it done at Shear Madness!

~As my old grandpappy, I. Rotary Dial, used to say, "What goes around comes around."

~Hey, listen to this. I can play a song with my nose!

~Let your fingers do the walkin', let your feet do the talkin'.

~My best friend is quite a ding-a-ling

~What kind of soap do you use, Dial or Tone?

~He's acting pretty sheepish today!

~Don't you give me that "I'm busy signal" young man!

~Yeh, he started kissing my nose so I told him "Wrong Number Sucker!"

~Yeh, poor ole Herb, he's no longer in service

~The grass may not be greener on the other side, but it sure would beat this astroturf

~There's a bright future on our Verizon!

I hope you enjoy these! I lost practically a whole night's sleep thanks to some sugary Gatorade and these silly things swirling around my head! I hold my friend completely responsible! But I do agree with the last thought--there is a bright future on our horizon! Our future is as bright as the promises of God. Have a great day!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Proverbs 31 and Me

Ah yes, a topic that woman either love or abhor--the P31 woman. There are many who believe that no one woman could possibly be all that this woman is. There are others who are obsessed with being her in every respect to the point of an insane preoccupation with the perfection of her. I prefer to take a more laid back approach, as I do with most everything, and allow the Lord to lead and guide me in His time and way down the path of wifely perfection! ;-) Afterall, we are supposed to enjoy this journey we are on.

I have taken a good look at this woman every year of my Christian life and it still amazes me how God will build upon previous years in my knowledge and understanding of this woman, this passage, and what will make me a better wife this year than last. I've certainly found that being a P31 wife is something that you never stop growing in due to the immensity of her character, the stages of life that we all go through, and the continuing maturation of love between a husband and wife who are married in Christ.

The thing that I noticed most about her this year was what she is rather than what she does. She is a Godly woman! Everything that she is and everything that she does springs from her Christian character. And true to form, for me anyway, the very first trait I noticed was her humility. Of course, "the chief mark of a true Christian is their humility" (paraphrased from Andrew Murray) and she proves herself to be true to a fault. Her humility before God enables her to willfully and joyfully submit to her husband and to work for his good without any need of recognition or praise from society. She has found the true essence of being a woman created to be a "helpmate".

She's functioning exactly how she was created to function. She busies herself to provide and care for her husband, family, and neighbors. She has no need of finding her own identity, because she has chosen to let her identity be found first in Christ who also came to serve and not be served. This is so indicitive of Christ Himself who also found his identity in God and came as "the exact replication of the Father." He was totally occupied with representing His Father in providing for the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of others.

Out of this humility flowed a strength, or "excellence" as the Word puts it. She may have been meek, but she was not weak--not spiritually, not physically, not emotionally! She was a tower of power! The word "excellent" in v.1 refers to the spirit and character of the woman. It is translated valiant, strong, efficient and is mostly used in military terms when describing power or warriors. When I think of a good soldier, I immediately think of one well trained AND well disciplined in the affairs of war. I think of soldiers who listen for their commanding officer's orders and do them without hesitation and without question. As Burt Clendennen said of his battalion that survived, behind enemy lines and cut off from all supply sources for months and months, "if you didn't duck when he said duck, you didn't make it home in one piece!"

This woman was well trained--thank God for the older women who actually take the training of the younger women seriously--and well disciplined in the affairs of her marriage and family. She had been trained in loving her husband and keeping her home. She understood exactly where she was in life and in position and she worked from that position to the best of her ability. She never considered questioning or challenging the authority of her husband, and she worked, as army wives do, to preserve the reputation and standing of her husband in the eyes of the public. She had no selfish ambitions to equal her husband. She had no selfish ambitions to better her husband. Her only ambition was to serve her husband and through serving her husband to serve her God. She was truly influential in her marriage, in her home and in her society, but that was not her goal. It was the fruit of character and labor in the Kingdom of God. How true it is that the strongest, most influential women in the world are the ones who have no need to be the strongest, most influential women in the world.

I hold a certain fascination with this woman and as God works in my heart what He worked in hers, I see more and more that she is not some unobtainable ideal. No she is God's very best for every woman and is completely obtainable to any woman who will humble and lose herself in God.