Monday, June 29, 2009
Dear Swim Suit,
I just wanted to thank you profusely for your recent service to my strong sense of modesty. I am so grateful that you not only covered all the appropriate places, but also provided the additional task of staying in place during a poorly timed series of waves. You went above and beyond your job description when my son needed to nurse--thanks for being flexible and accommodating for about 20 minutes. Lastly, if you would share my gratitude with your team mate Elastic, I would appreciate it ever so much. She really hung in there for me and I couldn't have survived our family vacation without her help.
Posted by Jen at 9:33 PM
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
After months of hard work, Samuel is now crawling! This is a huge achievement for him and a very proud moment for us. I almost cried and all the girls clapped and cheered as we watched him crawl across the room over and over again.
When your child is struggling and you are praying through each little movement and motion, it's sometimes hard to be happy for other parents as they share how their babies are developing normally (or even ahead of the curve). It's especially hard when those same parents don't realize or forget that our days are filled with special exercises and equipment and extra appointments and therapists, all designed to help your child do the very thing they are describing. Spiritually speaking, I realize that my reaction to others needs some work. It isn't realistic for anyone else to be as invested in my child's development, not should I expect our friends and family to walk on egg shells around us. I can, however know that God our Father is intimately interested in our son's struggle and achievements. He listens and cares about all that is going on with our boy. After all, He designed Sam's life!
So, we are rejoicing today in a milestone achieved and I am feeling justifiably humbled concerning my heart attitude. Thanks, Lord, for visible evidence that You are working in our son's life. Thank You for reminding me that You are the only One I need to turn to for support and concern. Forgive me for being overly sensitive. Help me to rejoice whenever one of Your little ones grows--however that happens. Just thanks for being all that I need all of the time...In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Monday, June 22, 2009
I'm discovering that selling our house isn't easy. Not that I thought it would be a snap, but I figured if God was leading it would all just fall in place and happen rather easily and peacefully. Hmph. (That's my mystified shrugging of the shoulders.)
First, we cleaned like crazy people. We were obsessed. Like the President or Queen or both were coming to dinner. Like our lives depended on it. We put furniture in the garage and our floors were literally clean enough to eat off of. It was exhausting. The photographs were taken and turned out lovely. In fact, they really make our house look, well, like someone else lives here.
About a minute after the photographs were taken, we all sighed and the house basically let out her gut and the dust began to accumulate again. Then we got busy making the necessary repairs before our first open house. Replacing columns on the front porch, replacing the ceiling in our living room, painting the porch, cleaning up the landscaping, pressure washing the basement floors, cleaning out the sewer line (thank you , Mr. Plumber for going the extra mile--literally!) My poor husband has been working around the clock--sometimes through the night--to get things in order. Now, we have to clean the house yet again for the open house this Sunday. Oh, and did I mention we are leaving for our vacation this Friday as well?
I'm confirming my suspicions that I am an incredibly impatient person at heart. I want to know when the house will sell, for how much, where we are moving, what color the grass will be in that yard, whether or not we can raise chickens, whether or not I need to save all my extra curtains, how big the closets are...can you tell I'm a detail person?! But, worrying and being anxious is sin and sin gets in the way of seeing all that God is doing. As a reminder to myself (and maybe to encourage someone else in the process!), here is a list of some of the things I've seen God doing:
--Although it has been exhausting work, we've been able to do it! Every tool and supply we've needed has been found either in our garage or been lent to us by a family member.
--Our family has been AMAZING spending lots of their own time and money traveling to our house to help us complete the projects.
--God has supplied all the extra money we've needed to carry on with our projects. We haven't gone hungry or had the electricity turned off:) We've even been able to share some of our abundance with others!
--Charlie and I have been able to study Proverbs together as we have been praying through our decision to sell this house. It's been good to make time to study together again.
--We have a wonderful realtor, Jane, who is fast becoming a friend.
--We're still going to be able to have a nice family vacation this summer.
--Every time we have felt overwhelmed or discouraged, a friend or brother or sister in Christ has come alongside us to encourage us and help us continue.
--Our kids are resilient.
Thanks, Lord, for being with us in all this. Help us to be faithful and to have complete faith in You and what You are doing...even when and especially when we can't see. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Posted by Jen at 12:33 PM
Monday, June 15, 2009
Our realtor, Jane, came to take photographs of the house last Thursday. After she left, I was walking around the house enjoying the once-in-a-blue-moon-ness of our house being ultra clean. It used to really shine BK (Before Kids), but now I'm happy if the dishes are washed, beds are made and the laundry is (mostly) done. Really, our house looked almost foreign to me. We've removed a few pieces of furniture to make things a little less cluttered and we've already started the lengthy process of sorting our stuff into three piles: keep, donate, pitch. I'd like to argue there should be another category: where did this come from?
One of the challenges of putting our house on the market is being prepared for others to see our house at a moment's notice. I can pull the house together well for a planned birthday party or a planned sleepover, but this spur-of-the-moment thing is a stretch for me. I mean I need time to hide things.
When the photos appeared online late Friday night I had the sense I was looking at someone else's house (and let's be honest, I really want this to be someone else's house very soon!). Where were all the toys and books and papers and crayons and mess that follows our family wherever we go? I suppose that's all part of the strategy of marketing our home to another family--make the house feel warm, inviting, clean, but impersonal.
I do that spiritually, too. On the outside, I want to present a good impression. I'm a super mom who has it all together. I'm a good wife, daughter, friend. I love Jesus. I cook, I clean, I sew, I launder, I teach, I pray. I'm the whole package. But those are the planned moments. There are other moments--when my kids are arguing through the entire grocery store culminating in me stomping my foot at them just as our pastor's wife rounds the corner. Or, when I say something harsh and argumentative to my husband not realizing he's got a young woman on the phone holding for me--the same young woman I've been giving marriage counseling to for weeks. Or, when after my friend listens to my newest diatribe on diapers and fabric softener for 30 minutes, she mentions casually that she's struggling spiritually and I realize I've just wasted all the time we both have talking about nonsense. My outward appearance doesn't match the inner heart. And it's grieving. Grieving because it isn't a reflection of Jesus but a reflection of a false image--really a false god, the god of self.
I want to work on that. Check that-- I want God to work on that in me. I want my outside to match my inside, even if it means not measuring up to anyone else's standards. Even if it means sacrificing the appearance I've worked hard to present. Especially if it means that Christ becomes greater and I become smaller.
Lord, help me to be more like you. Change me. Really, I'm begging You to change me. Conform me into Your likeness and image--into a loving, caring, Christ-sharing person. Into who and what You have planned for me to be. Forgive me for my selfishness. Forgive me for my carelessness. Forgive me for worshipping myself instead of You. Change my heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Posted by Jen at 3:34 PM
Friday, June 12, 2009
We've felt it for almost 4 years now. That persistent nagging feeling that God has more for us and that change is coming. Several times in the past, we've thought the moment had arrived only to have God's will confirmed that we were to remain just where we were at. This time is different. It's time for things to change...
We're selling our house. Though we have a lovely, old Victorian-era home with plenty of space for the kids to play and grow, it's just time to move on. When we purchased this home we were newly married and childless. We filled our home with homeless people, college students, friends, relatives, basic strangers, and even a band or two--all who needed a place to rest weary heads and hearts. There was purpose in living in and paying for a large home. Now that the Lord has filled the home with children, our focus and attention has shifted. We are growing children and building character and we feel the Lord drawing us in a different direction. It's just time to move on.
So, if you think of us over the next few weeks and months, please pray for the sale of our home. Though we don't know where we will land next, we are certain and reassured that our loving Father is in complete control. Please pray that the sale of our home would go over smoothly and with as little disruption and confusion as possible. Pray for peace.
Father, Thank You for our home. Thank You for filling it with so many good and pleasant things. Please provide a buyer for our home and quickly! We are eager to step out in faith with you on our next adventure together. Thank You for my husband and children and that You are allowing us to travel together through this. Praise to You, Jesus! Amen.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
...the less time I spend with my kids in their normal routine and rhythms and the more activities and extras we throw into the mix, the worse their behavior and mine is.
...I can't make up for my bad behavior and sharp tone by giving my kids extra book reading and an Oreo. I have to sincerely apologize and also repent in my heart to make it right. I really do have to walk the walk and talk the talk.
...the grass is waaay greener on my side of the fence.
...my kids are really well-behaved in general, so I need to be consistent and persistent in both their spiritual training as well as behavioral training. Though it is tiring, it must be working!
...God is always big enough to handle whatever I'm facing. Always.
Thanks Lord for new and improved perspectives from Your Word. Thank You for not letting me "think I know" what You think and who You are, but rather showing Yourself to me clearly through Your Word. I love that about You and I love that You know just exactly what to say to soothe me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I'm alone in my house. All day. Alone.
Okay, I had to re-read that and pinch myself to make sure this is reality and not a really, really nice dream. I love my children, but I'm completely enjoying this mental health day! My good friends took all four kiddos for the entire day so I could get some work done (more on that later this week) and I am enjoying the solitude and time to reflect and think. Instead of posting all the things God has been sharing with me today (I don't want to spend all day at the computer!), I'll share this e-mail my very best friend sent to me this afternoon:
Written By Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most-requested column I've ever written."
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.
16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17.. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.
18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's,we'd grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come.
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."
Posted by Jen at 12:38 PM
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Psalm 16:11You will show me the path of life;In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 25:4Show me Your ways, O LORD;Teach me Your paths.
Proverbs 3:6In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Isaiah 42:16I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.
Our piano teacher lives on a numbered county road. It isn't all that far from town, but far enough that you can't hear much traffic or noise except neighbors and this time of year especially, there are lots of farmers passing by with their implements. We always take the same route to her house and the same route home. Emma and Ruthie each take a 30 minute lesson once a week, so I have an hour of time with the two young ones to run errands. Today, after dropping the girls off for their lesson, I decided I really wanted to know where the rest of the piano teacher's road went. I had some ideas about where it might lead, but I wasn't sure. I told Olivia we were going on an adventure and off we went.
Turns out, about a half mile down, the road dead ends into a gravel driveway forcing you to turn either right or left onto another county road I was already familiar with. Some adventure. We basically saw some fields and houses on a stretch of road and then landed pretty close to WalMart. Big deal.
But, it got me thinking about our journey through life. Charlie and I are facing some choices about our next path in life and we've been carefully weighing all our options and trying to imagine the outcome of each road we could potentially travel. Of course we want to please the Lord and want Him to choose for us but, sometimes I think God wants to reveal something of greater importance--the desires of our hearts. What are we really seeking? What is it that we really want? Is it really to serve the Lord with gladness, or only to serve Him when it's comfortable and easy? What if His path takes us down an unexpected gravel road, to a place that's completely foreign? Are we still desiring to serve Him wholly?
On our way back to the piano teacher's house, I called Charlie and left him a message:
"Hi, honey, it's me. I love you. I just wanted to tell you that I don't really care what road we take as long as we're together and the Lord is leading. Wherever we go, whatever we do, it's fine with me. It will be an adventure!! I love you. Bye."
So, even if the road God has for us is really just a more scenic route back to the familiarity of life, I'll gladly travel it. Especially since He's given me so many amazing people to travel with!
Thank You, Lord for the adventure of life in You. I know You have a plan and that You are in complete control of all things. Above all else, let us glorify You. Drive all personal aspirations and desires out of our hearts and minds and allow us to serve You with whole hearts, bringing glory to Your name. In Jesus' Name, Amen.