Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sneaky Tears

This morning, I groaned my way out of bed, when I heard the rushed pitter patter ( who am I kidding it was more like stomping) of the older two kids as they were trying not to be late to their youth event this morning.  It is worth noting that the event they were rushing to attend was not roller skating, or ultimate frisbe, mini-golf or bowling...  they were rushing to rake some leaves.
Like every other teen in America, my children are deathly allergic to yard work at their own home.  Yet when their youth group gets together to help out someone in our church family.... my kids are excited to clean....  I let this incongruency slide, since I know their motive is to serve, not socialize.... even if I would like a little "excited service" to happen in my own yard.

I took them to church and dropped them off, and it was on the way home that it happened.  I was thinking about this boy who had been dropped off by his grandpa to work at "Servant Saturday"  I happen to know where this grandpa lives in relation to his grandson's house.... He had gone all the way over the river, to a different town to pick up his grandson,and then drive him back over to our church, so that his grandson could serve another family this morning.

And I couldn't help it, the tears just started to flow... ha, can't help it now.... they are flowing again...I am sad and proud all at the same time...

It reminded me of my dad, and how he would drive us girls anywhere for our church stuff.  How he picked up his own grandkids where ever they were and took them to where they needed to be.  I am sad, because I know that won't happen anymore, and he is not a present fixture in their day to day lives, he can't physically do for them anymore.

I was proud of that grandpa, who was being an example of servanthood to his own grandson.  I was glad to know that there are more men like that out there than just my dad.  Men who are willing to be up early, drive across town or across the state.... just cuz something needs to be done, and they can help do it.

Now I need to go get a tissue and blow my nose, and figure out a way to say thank you to that grandpa.... for a deed that probably went un-noticed.... but touched someone who was watching from the outside, in such a profound way.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Busy Week

This week was fun and busy.  My sister decided to come up for a week long visit.  It is always such fun to have Auntie Maymee around.  Her smile lights up a room, and her love surrounds us all.  The kids got to go to the park with her for a picnic.  We went shopping at all the Antique stores in town.... She learned to ride the "wheeled contraption of death"  aka The RipStik....She got to go to the Farm and see all the goats, and chickens and take home eggs and yummy goat was lots and lots of fun.
I have been given the opportunity to try out for a review team.  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, is a homeschool magazine that I subscribe to.... they use a small army of volunteers to test new products, and then write about them, so other folks can see what people liked and disliked, before they purchase the product.  I am in the midst of working on the first product with Hunter and I am excited for the second one.  Hopefully God will allow me the opportunity to write and share with others in this way.
I have also beeing thinking about starting a "homeschool" blog.... one that shares links I have found, and encouragement for other parents that homeschool.  Sometimes I think people get overwhelmed with the choices that are out there.... or they don't know where to start, or even if they are going to be able to do it.  It isn't like I think I have all the answers, I just think a little encouragement can go a long way.  Pray with me about starting this new blog....  It will mean more writing.... but writing is one of the ways I feel God wants me to share with others His truths.

Tomorrow we have a Ladies Fellowship night... and I need to make cornbread for 41 people....So I suppose that I should get off the computer, and out of my pajamas.... and start managing my time better today :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Looking a bit deeper into Psalm 23

I decided I would post the notes from my turn at Devotions for our church's Ladies Fellowship breakfast:

How do you view the 23rd Psalm? What does it mean to you?
Is it a Psalm that you only hear at funerals?
Do you see promises in it?
Is it just a popular Psalm, that you memorized when you were a kid?

We are going to take a bit of time to explore the first verse of this Psalm, and understand what lessons we can learn from it.

Maybe because I am a closet history geek, but I like to know when things in the Bible are written. I think that understanding culture, time frame, and life situations of the author goes a long way to help us understand the meaning within the words.

Some Psalms that David wrote are well documented, as to the time frame that they were written. You can go to a corresponding section of scripture and read about the event or events that prompted his outpouring to God.

Psalm 23 was likely written during the time David was living in exile, fleeing for his life; being hunter by his son Absolom. You can read the account in 2 Samuel 15-18.

How does the life of David parallel our own? What was going on to prompt him to pen the 23rd Psalm? How does this Psalm translate to our everyday lives as a declaration of God's care and provision?

Lets look at the events in Davids life, and see things from today's culture that we experience

  • Absolom falsely represented his father at the city gates, calling into question his father's ability to rule effectively. He told lies, all to endear himself to the people of Israel.
  • Today we see this same problem with gossip. Have you ever been hurt by lies?
  • Absolom was angry at David for sending him away. Absolom had killed his brother Amnon because of jealousy.
  • Do your children always get along? Are there days when you feel like you are more of a referee than a mom? Do you have older children that are rebelling against you and God?
  • David had to flee his home to save his life. He had to leave the Ark of the Covenant behind in Jerusalem. To David this was like leaving God behind. The Ark represented God's presence to the Israelites. As he left the city, David wept and cried out to God to orchestrate his safe return.
  • Have you ever had to make hard choices and leave something behind? Have you had to leave what is familiar to you, because you knew it was best?
King David's life was an absolute MESS! From our perspective on this side of history, we can see all the trials and problems that he endured. He had committed adultery. He had ordered a man killed. He had suffered the loss and pain that comes with losing a child. He had children that fought with each other. He had children that wanted to now kill him. Yet, in the midst of this upheaval, David cried out to God, and God provided. God sent a servant of Maphibosheth ( he was the last member of Saul's family, and David had promised his best friend Jonathan that he would bestow kindness to Saul's heirs you can read it in 2 Samuel 9.) This servant brought food for David, and the 600 men that had followed him into exile. Later in 2nd Samuel, you can read how David was able to escape over the river, just before Absolom was going to kill him.
With this portion of history as a backdrop, we can better understand what David was drawing from as he was prompted by God to pen the 23rd Psalm.

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.

This is the first verse of this most famous Psalm. It is two complete thoughts that have been joined together to convey a very powerful message. David is affirming God's care and provision in his life. It is NO mistake that David was prompted by God to use the word Shepherd.

The very word shepherd evokes care. The automatic implication, with the possessive pronoun my in front of it.... that we are sheep and in need of that very care.
Sheep are not the brightest animals that God created. My dad used to say that sheep were the stupidest animals ever! He had raised more than a few when he was younger, so I took his word for it. As I got older and heard over and over Christians compared to sheep, I would actually get a little offended, almost as if someone were calling me stupid. My brain would sort of switch off and never really let the full imagery of the metaphor that God uses here to sink in. My dad's description, while colorfully accurate, only offers a partial portrayal.

Lets look at the following descriptions of sheep, by and actual shepherd, and lets see if we can find ourselves amongst the metaphor, that God has chosen, to depict us throughout scripture.

  • Sheep can not care for themselves.
  • While today, you may have actually found time to take a shower between the 3 loads of laundry, and two stacks of dishes that you had to do...... Have you ever been so busy that you forgot to eat? Have you ever passed on quiet moments with God because your schedule is so full?

  • Sheep have a flock mentality.
    Have you ever talked about someone when you shouldn't have, just because someone else started the conversation? Have you ever gone to a movie, watched a TV show, or listened to music you knew didn't honor God..... just because you didn't want your friends to think you were weird, stuck up or too good for them?

  • Sheep have bad habits.
  • This is more than just saying that we sin. I would submit to you that this is our habit of how we view life. Do you have a habit of viewing things from your shepherd's perspective? Or are you discontent with where you feel you are being led, and are you always looking for the better grass? Are you viewing things from bitterness and are you stirring up the flock?

  • Sheep get lost.
  • Do you forget where you are headed in your relationship with God?

  • Sheep are timid.
  • Have you shared your faith by way of encouragement, prayer or evangelism recently?

  • Sheep need endless attention and vigilance.
  • Are you always straying? Does your shepherd have to go looking for you? Or are you close to him and safe from the predators?

  • Sheep are always getting themselves into trouble.
  • I am sure I don't need to expound too much on this one.... I don't know about you, but I am ALWAYS in trouble....

Hopefully you are able to see the parallels between we humans who follow Christ, and the earthly animal we call the sheep. Hopefully you are seeing more clearly why you need a shepherd too.

There are Good Shepherds are there are Bad Shepherds. The good ones, are attentive to their flock and to the land they are on. Bad ones, let their sheep roam, never caring how or where they find their food.

A good shepherd knows all about his sheep. He knows how to care for their every need. He develops a relationship with each one. He knows when they need to eat and where to find the choicest grass and fresh water, even if it means he has to lead them through a scary valley to get there. He watches out for predators. He knows what to do for each bruise cut or broken bone. He is always looking ahead to mare sure his sheep are on the safe path.

His attentiveness, both day and night, creates a content flock, one that know their masters voice; a flock that is content and secure, trusting, and eager to follow. His sheep are not wanting for care.

All the sheep in a shepherd's flock carry the mark or brand of their shepherd. Does your life bear the mark of your shepherd? Or are you like Mrs Gad-about, and want the best of both worlds. The following excerpt is from Paul Keller's book " A Shepherd's Look at Psalm 23".

"I once owned an ewe whose conduct exactly typified this sort of person. She was one of the most attractive sheep that ever belonged to me. Her body was beautifully proportioned. She had a strong constitution and an excellent coat of wool. Her head was clean, alert, well-set with bright eyes. She bore study lambs that matured rapidly.

But in spite of all these attractive attributes she had one pronounced fault. She was restless-- discontented-- a fence crawler.

So much so that I came to call her "Mrs. Gad-about."

This one ewe produced more problems for me than almost all the rest of the flock combined.

No matter what field or pasture the sheep were in, she would search all along the fences or shoreline ( we lived by the sea ) looking for a loophole she could crawl through and start to feed on the other side.

It was not that she lacked pasturage. My fields were my joy and delight. No sheep in the district had better grazing.

With "Mrs. Gad-about" it was an ingrained habit. She was simply never contented with things as they were. Often when she had forced her way through some such spot in a fence or found a way around the end of a wire at low tide on the beaches, she would end up feeding on bare, brown, burned-up pasturage of a most inferior sort.

But she never learned her lesson and continued to fence crawl time after time.

Now it would have been bad enough if she was the only on who did this. It was a sufficient problem to find her an bring her back. But the further point was that she taught her lambs the same tricks. They simply followed her example and soon were as skilled at escaping as their mother.

Even worse, however, was the example she set for the other sheep. In a short time she began to lead others through the same holes and over the same dangerous paths down by the sea. "

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. Can you say this with the same conviction that David did?

It does not mean that your life will be easy, David's wasn't. It doesn't mean that you will have the perfect job or the best marriage, David didn't. There is absolutely NO correlation between the amount of money in your bank account or the number of things that you own and the "lack of want" that you have; David was a KING.... money, power, a whole country full of "stuff"............ Being able to state: "I shall not want", is being under God's control and knowing it. It is entrusting yourself completely to the care of your Shepherd and finding contentment. It is displayed by a radiating peace, confidence and quiet joy that will surmount any tragedy, struggle or financial hardship that may come your way.

Is that peace and joy something you can say you have? Are you content? Or is your life more like Mr Keller's ewe? Are you looking for holds in the fence and getting your head stuck?

My prayer for each one of you, is for you all to be able to confidently proclaim that the LORD is YOUR Shepherd and that you are content and have EVERYTHING you need.

Psalm 23 (New Living Translation)

"The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his mane. Even when I walk trough the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessing. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What to do?

Monday, I was out and about running around town with Hunter, and I decided since we were close to a friend's salon; we should probably get someone to mow down the mop that we were still trying to call hair.

Going to a hair salon with a 7 year old boy is always an adventure, and for me an exercise in patience, because he likes to move about the cabin, and I want him to sit still.  There is always that delicate balance between encouraging your child to have good manners, and obsessing about it( not to mention sounding like a shrew).  The shop was busy, and we wanted my friend to cut his hair, so we were waiting our turn, and  I was answering Hunter's personal and very unintentional game of 6 zillion questions.

About 10 minutes into our wait, three boys walk in.  They look to be between 10 and 3...  I turn around looking for mom, and she is slowly walking in from her Expedition with a infant car carrier that looks like a bottle of pepto-bismol exploded.... I guess she finally got the girl she was trying for.  The mom was a waif of a woman.  You know the type, 5'2" and even after 4 kids, maybe weighed 95 lbs.  The car carrier might have out weighed her, and you could see that she was run ragged by these boys.... they all sit down quietly enough, and stay in their seats, which is more than what I could seem to get Hunter to do.  Then a few minutes into it, she looks at a boy, who had been moving his feet back and forth, and she screeches at him about sitting still, smacks his leg and tells him he is getting hair all over the baby's car seat cover.... and to KNOCK IT OFF!  muttering under her breath how disgusting it all was.
I know I was not the only person that thought she was a little overly loud, because 2 of the stylists also whipped their heads around to see who was yelling at whom.  Later, she repeated it again with another of her boys.

Now, I say all that, to say I have been there.... plum out of patience, and snappy as all get out....It happens, to all of us that care to be honest about how some days of mommy life go.

As two of the boys were called into the stylists chairs.... the mom started smiling... and looking more relaxed... and 180 degrees different than the one that had just flipped out on the kid.....  It made me wonder, how people have perceived me, if and when I have acted that way in the past.  Had they entertained thoughts that I might have needed medication?  Because these were the thoughts I was beginning to entertain about this poor girl.   I had wanted to say something to her after she had wigged out..... but I sat there in my chair lost in thought.  I couldn't think of something witty or casual to start a conversation with, I wanted to let her know that the baby wouldn't die if it got hair on it's car seat.....

I don't know what I should have done that even would have helped.  I just sat there and thought about what I would have done, or how I would have felt if someone approached me, and I was in a fit about something...  Would I have been grateful?  or would I have been snappy at them too?

What do you think?  What would you have done, if you were sitting in the same waiting room and saw the same thing?  What would you do if a stranger intervened while you were trying to maintain order with your kids?  I just left feeling like I should have done something.....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Gastronomic Delights

I love food.

Really, one look at me will tell you this...

I don't know if this happens to other people, but there are times in my life where the things that I put into my mouth are so breathtaking they render me speechless.( again, if you know me... rendering ME speechless, is a hard thing to do!)

Last night was one of these experiences.  Jody and I went to dessert at an Italian resturant, called Bella Italia.  We had been before for the Spumoni .... and last night didn't disappoint.

I ordered 2 desserts, because I couldn't decide which one I wanted to try more.

The Tiramissu was heavenly.  The ladyfingers were light and airy, perfectly dipped in the espresso so that just the outer fringe was gooey from the coffee, they offered the perfect amount of resistance and spring against my fork as it dug into the dessert.  The pastry cream holding the ladyfingers together was sweet and light, again the perfect consistancy. Clinging to the top and dusted with cocoa powder, was the most light, rich and creamy cool custard.   The whole dessert was an explosive mix of cool and creamy, rich and dark. It felt as if fireworks were going off in the back of my brain.  It was so good that after it was gone, I was tempted to take the plate to the restroom, and engage in a secret plate licking party.... just to get those last swipes of custard that stubbornly refused to be lifted by my fork.

I also ordered the Nutella Cheescake.  It arrived and stood as a confidant wedge on the plate before me.  The bottom layer white, the top chocolate, again dusted with cocoa powder... and noticably missing the graham craker crust we Americans are accustomed to. The creamcheese layer was moist, and perfectly dense, rich and sweet.  In the chocolate layer, the flavors came to life.  You could taste the hazelnut, the chocolate perfectly combined with the tang of the cream cheese.  It was soothing and exciting all at the same time.

 Even the coffee at this resturant is an experience.  First thing that should be noted is that I have never seen a coffee pot brandished around the dining room.  Each cup is made and brought to you.  It is rich.  It clings to the cup like a fine wine.  The strong and sweet smell of it is the first thing to envelope your senses.  I like my coffee with cream, and here the cream is really cream.  It is a pleasure to watch the heavy cream as it lazily travels out of the miniature stainless steel pitcher, arrives in your cup, sinks, and then flys to the top of your fresh cup of coffee, almost exploding as it reaches the surface.  As you sip, the strong coffee it is almost heavy on your tongue, washing your palate clean for the next new flavor experience.

I had to surrender the last third of my cheesecake to the styrofoam to-go container.  I would have liked to say that I ordered two desserts too many, but I honestly do not regret one single bite that crossed my lips.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mom's brag book

Sometimes, a momma just has to brag on her kids.
Yesterday someone came up to me to tell me how wonderfully polite and courteous my oldest son was.  She was impressed that he always opened the door for her, and greeted her by name, and asked how she was doing.... She just figured that I might want to know.  I thanked her, and then came home and thanked my son for being a good kid.  I think he thought he was in trouble when I first started talking to him, and by the time I was finished he looked pleasantly embarassed.  Good job son.  I love you.  Keep up the good work.

Next....this was something that was written by my daughter............ I thought it was pretty interesting, and I am proud of her for not only writing it, but posting it to her Facebook page for all her friends to read.

To be a christian is intentional. To live a godly life is intentional( Joshua 1:8,9) Being intentional and having courage. What does it mean to have courage? 2 Peter 1:5-9 says that we are to add virtue to our faith. Virtue is doing the thing God wants us to do so that He may use us in even greater ways. To Virtue we add Knowledge. After you have this foundation you can start building your character. To knowledge we add self control. To have self control is to having self controll over your internal passions. Ladies - to have the courage to say "No" to men , to say " God is first in my life, not you " Guys- To be able to put your desires aside and put God and her first. The world today rejects accountablility. To reject accountability is to reject self control. So then to self control we add perserverance. Perserverance is to be able to withstand the outside pressures. To perserverance we add godliness. Disipline your self toward godliness (1Timothy 4:7). To godliness we add brotherly kindness. And to brotherly kindness we add love. To be a christian is intentional . Im not saying that you have to work for your salvation. These things are what we do to be more like Jesus AFTER we have been given the free GIFT of salvation. God wants to use us People !! But how can He when we are taking the easy road??? What is there to use as a shining light if we walk and talk just like the darkness??? How can we move forward in Christ if we never try? we dont just stay in one place . We move farther and farther away. Christianity is NOT a safty card in your back pocket that says " I can do whatever I want , I wont go to hell" Christianity a desire to be more like Jesus more and more everyday. Jesus died for us while we were spiting in His face. While we mocked and scorned Him. While we rejected and hated Him. He can MOST CERTAINLY save us and mold us into what He wants us to be. To be a christian is intentional .

Thank you Lord for allowing me to raise these kids, and for helping me do it each and every day.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Funny moments

Sometimes the things that just happen in everyday life are too funny not to share...  Here are some moments from the last few days...

Last Tuesday I go to the store and get 5 dozen eggs.... I put them in the truck, on the backseat, between both Hunter and Jeremiah for the ride home... I go to get them out and.........

Hunter had seatbelted them in...

Safety first pumpkin, safety first.

Later the same day, Evan looks out the window, and sees Brownie ( our momma dog) on top of Zeke... and says... "what is that??" ( with a voice that is full of disgust)   ..... Hunter comes over, looks out the window, and matter-of-factly says... "Brownie is trying to give Zeke babies ... she has decided he is going to have to have babies this time."

I about fell over trying not to laugh out loud.
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