Thursday, May 27, 2010

Crimes and Consequences

I never intended for this blog to be exclusively things spiritual, but, of late, the Lord has been sounding off loudly and often in my life. As it turns out, I need a lot of work.

If you're a CWO girl, please don't read this post. I'm trusting in your honor - don't do it. Just click the little "X" at the top of the screen. You can do it, I know you can. I'm not ready for you to see it yet, because it's about what God is showing me through the study many of you are about to begin. I so want you to be a fresh slate of your own life circumstances and spiritual position to hear directly from God first. I don't want your experience with our study to be colored by or limited to what God is teaching me. So, please, stop reading now. Really.... I still see you.... Go away.... You can come back later, I promise.... Bye, bye...click "close".

* * * *
Adrian started driving about three weeks ago. There's something about your baby manning the wheel that reinvigorates your prayer life. It's the craziest thing! Anyway, he had to have his picture school ID as part of his documentation to get his Learner's Permit. (No, Adrian, it's not a driver's license...yet.) In the unusual-ness of wearing his ID after school, he somehow misplaced it.

Back at school he had to use a temporary ID for a few days, which peels and sticks. One morning, he left it on his PE uniform after changing back into his regular clothes and headed to his next class. Instead of letting him retrieve it, the teacher made him order another temporary ID, which earned him an after-school detention. So far, I'm okay with this. Adrian has clearly demonstrated that he has some organization issues, and there are consequences for not keeping up with your stuff.

The detention was scheduled for an afternoon during spring training, so he was going to try to have it rescheduled, except that his homeroom teacher wouldn't allow him to go to the guidance office to do it. So, Adrian served his detention, missed a football practice, missed the issuing of practice uniforms, and had to "worm" almost half a football field without the benefit of padded pants and shoulder pads. For those of you, like me, that are not well-versed in coaching torture techniques, this is when you wiggle on your belly without the use of arms or legs, propelling yourself forward like a worm. The only difference is you don't leave a slime trail, you leave a top-layer-of-epidermis-from-your-thighs-and-shoulders trail if you're not wearing any protective gear, which he wasn't.

Really? Humiliation and rubbing off the top layer of skin on top of a two hour after school detention hardly fit the crime in my mind. He didn't download viruses to a school computer, assault someone, or swear at a teacher. He left his ID in another room on campus. Is it too much to ask that a rational, thinking adult somewhere down the line might put a stop to the chain reaction that spiraled out of control at some point? Someone? Anyone to bring a little grace to the situation?

Enter Jonah, the unwilling prophet. God gives him marching orders, and he promptly sails in the opposite direction. What does God do in response to this blatant and complete disobedience? He rescues Jonah and puts him right back on track. It's Grace 101, and God is the Professor (I didn't find at Adrian's school). Jonah actually deserved severe punishment, and God, even still, offered patience and provision, albeit in the form of sailors who throw him overboard, a stormy sea, and a fish with a stomach the size of, at least, a coffin, but preferably a walk-in closet. Would a stocked refrigerator and a bed be too much to ask for?

I'm pretty sure Jonah didn't see any of this as God's grace. He was probably thinking, "I'm in big trouble now," at every stage along the way. When he was being questioned by the captain, when he was getting tossed into a raging sea, and when he began to smell fish breath. At this point, Jonah must have believed the lie. I would have. I have. "I've really messed this thing up. I'm beyond cure. It's over."

On purpose, and by mistake, I've sailed in the direction of disobedience. Even now it feels like the storm is upon us. I've hidden myself in the hold. I've cast off excess baggage. I've tried every remedy I could think of. I'm weary of clinging to the ship, a death trap, thinking therein lies my salvation.

Because there can be no faith without unanswered questions, I cling, instead, to those, and throw myself into the sea of God's mercy. I embrace His rescue, even if it appears to be certain death at the jaws of natural consequences. I will trust the Lord that three dark, wet, and hungry days and nights might really be a life raft disguised to my earthly eyes. We have nothing to fear, everything to hope for, trust in, and wiggle towards. I'm not afraid to be a worm. Not dangled on a fish hook before God's instrument of rescue, or on the forty yard line of life.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Hacked

Today my email account was hacked and someone sent two random emails to random contacts. My email provider rewarded this suspicious activity by deactivating my account.

It was seven hours of anxiety and inability to function and communicate as normal, lacking the normal tools to get done all that needs doing. I felt
thwarted,
violated,
frustrated,
inconvenienced
and unproductive.

I needed to order some material online, but couldn't access a password. I needed to contact a friend at work about part of this order. I needed to forward some information to another friend. I promised someone else I would look into something this afternoon and was unable to, since I had emailed myself that "something" that needed attention.

As my frustration level rose, I began to wonder if this kind of train wreck is what happens to God every time Satan hacks my life. Could it be that He actually counts on his army to be all that we're supposed to be when He's ready to put us into play? What happens when I get hacked?

Is the accomplishing of His will thwarted? Does He get frustrated at the inconvenience of his child being unproductive because the enemy has violated her faith? Hi-jacked my prayer-tool as means to communicate and affect His kingdom work? Infiltrated my obedience?

It took a little doing, but I regained access to my account and promptly changed some security information to deny my Hacker access next time. That's the spiritual part I always forget to do - rebuild the spiritual firewall to protect me from future security breaches. I don't want to forget anymore; I want to be a soldier competent and reliable, with my identity intact.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God so you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.




My gratitude continues this week with #73 - 89:

~going for a walk with Mike, holding his hand
~gathering with a city of Christians to pray in global unity
~payday
~a blank Saturday block on my calendar
~yard work done
~being served...ice cream just because
~reminiscing with Ana and realizing we've come full circle (God is good)
~planting petunias and fountain grass



~two left feet and praying for an exchange for a right
~neighborhood kids who take their shoes off at the door
~water balloons and sand castles in the driveway
~long talks with Tammy
~successful surgery
~a quieted soul
~a relocation back to our side of the planet
~omelets for breakfast (smile at remembering the best omelet-maker ever)
~email access and spiritual armor, recovered and renewed

Thursday, May 20, 2010

PMS and God

[Not a "women only" post. Don't let the title scare you away.]

Oh, Father, take this PMS, I pray. It's yours, Lord.

You made me fearfully and wonderfully. I'm certain all this emotion that ebbs and flows within me, with the cycles of the moon, are meant to reflect your wonder. So often they don't; I cycle out of rhythm.

The enemy tries to get a foothold, throw me off balance. The heart whispers discouraging words, my soul uncertain. Failure closes in. Insecurity, tears of despair, worthlessness -- none are of You. Satan's invading Your territory, Lord. I've bitten the fruit that is forbidden. I've heard my name, but it's not from Your voice. I'm being beckoned to travel where You are not, unclothed and undone.

So I listen to hear the calming Voice that I know, the Hope, the infinite Love. I turn to the Maker, and cling. I listen for Peace, Assurance, the Persuasion that nothing can separate me from You.

I move closer. I breathe You in deep, find center, the place where the crossbeam intersects the tree. I stand in forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and let defeat, doubt, and second guessing drain from within me.

With hormones raging, emotions swirling, I offer myself to the Whirlwind who created this torrent within me for the purpose of his glory. I reclaim the cycle the enemy steals and manipulates for destruction.

And once again I am certain, confident, sealed. I clothe myself in my need of You, and wait expectantly for the blood to flow, the cycle to be complete - the shedding of dead, unhealthy and hindering flesh and embrace the cleansing flow that washes whiter than snow.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Week's Worth

Immensely enjoying this new spiritual discipline -- treasure-hunting for the subtle, and the screaming, gifts of God, that He and I might smile together.... #54 - 72



little wet girlfriends playing in the rain

rain, needed, turning dusty dirt to mud puddles and parched grass to soft, luscious green

early mornings at work so I can get home sooner

phone calls asking when I'm coming home

emails that bring someone so far much nearer

funny Christmas movies in May

listening to Noelle's laughter erupt violently from deep within (don't know how she does that...)

out-going mail with the little red flag standing tall

the smell of freshly mowed lawn

the feel of freshly showered Mike after mowing

chicken cooked on the grill

hearing "That was good, Mom."

grocery store savings

Sabbath rest on a Sunday afternoon

tea party goodness

teaching Reagan to bake, practicing on from-scratch chocolate cake

bushes overgrown with Spring growth needing a trim

muffled singing and acoustic guitar notes seeping beneath Adrian's bedroom door

childrens' rooms kept clean for three days counting with only a little nagging

apples eaten to the core

beautiful journal waiting years for an equally beautiful purpose finally being filled ... with a thousand colorful gratitudes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Symbols"



Photo Friday - "Symbols"
In twenty plus years of marriage, Mike has lost two wedding bands. I gave up replacing them and he resorted to getting his own - his current one from the market in Guatemala where we shop for souvenirs at the end of mission trips. So, although it's a cheap souvenir, it's really a wedding band symbolizing unending covenant love.

I, on the other hand, have retired my original wedding set to a box in the corner of my drawer of unmentionables to make room on my finger for my grandmother's. Not only is it beautiful, but her marriage of almost sixty years was, too. (Until death did they part.) She was a woman of poise and Southern grace. I wear her rings proudly and with the hope that I might add to her legacy my own.

The journal beneath is my list of A Thousand Gifts, a symbol of living life with gratitude.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring Tea Time


The Spring tea party has come and gone. We gathered again -- young and old, friend and neighbor, sister and daughter -- to breathe Titus 2, in and out. Our first special guest was Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose from the pages of Dr. Seuss. (Hey, that even sounded Suessienne!) We learned from a hodge-podge of forest creatures that it's possible to be a rude guest, who comes uninvited, overstays, and indulges in myriad self-services at the expense of her host.





Our next guest was Love, who brings together polarizing extremes of (1)not knowing how to be polite by following rules of etiquette and (2)having it so down pat that there's time and room to be puffed up with self and critical of others if they don't know it all like we do. Instead, Love, with her twin, Grace, draw extremes from their opposite ends to meet in the middle.





We talked of being all things to all people, of doing our best to be polite when we are guest as well as being hostesses who can put a guest at ease even when they botch something up. It is, indeed, Love that covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)



Speaking of Peter, he was our last guest, who finally humbled himself and allowed Jesus to wash his feet, recognizing his own dirt after all. How often have I been prideful-Peter?

We ate and drank of God's provision on our plate and at our elbow in the seat next to ours. Big and small, black and white, Hispanic and American, we partook of each other.


We worked together to make hostess gifts, preparing to never descend on a friend forcing them to be Thidwick. We shared together the clean-up work; We came and went, hopefully with much less mess than the Cat in the Hat.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day Lessons

Look what I got for Mother's Day:


Wow, and they were good. You know how 40's the new 30? Well, gourmet chocolate covered strawberries are the new caramel apple. God's fruity perfection smothered in man's best attempt to imitate it. Scrumptious.

When they arrived on Friday, Mike was afraid to wait until Sunday to open them, so we split the difference and opened them on Saturday. He warded off the kids who wanted to hone in on my gourmet gift. He should have protected it from them, too. After all, it was a gift for me and it was Mother's Day. And being the submissive wife that I am, I followed his lead...I'm sad to say.

Reagan got a few bites, and Mike shared one or two with me, but for the most part, I hoarded them. I didn't give a whole strawberry to anyone else to enjoy. By today there were still five left from the dozen. When I took a bite from one this afternoon, I could taste the tangy tell-tale flavor of fruit beginning to rot. Almost half of my gift went to waste, all because I was selfish. I denied sharing a beautiful and bountiful gift with the givers, whom I love most in this world. I did that. I wanted those strawberries all to myself.

For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping,that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things unto Himself. ~Philippians 3:18-21





I am most grateful for a family that forgives and a Lord that teaches. For grace that shines through being honored while being unhonorable. And so many other reasons to be grateful last week #26-53:

~a timid teenager new at the wheel
~sleepytime tea
~haircuts
~fallen magnolia leaves
~children that drain me: body, soul and wallet, but fill me: home, heart and dreams
~a heritage of Presidential and Gubernatorial Proclamations of Days of Prayer
~renewed desire to follow lifelong dreams
~simple soup and cornbread for a much too late supper
~kids ignoring alarm clocks because they secretly love Mom's quoting Seuss's Go Dogs Go in their sleeping ears. (Go, Dogs, Go! It's time for all dogs to get up and play.)
~a cold snap of lingering Springtime on the verge of Summer's swelter
~missionaries to China who dared so much
~kneeling in church until my feet fall asleep
~long, silent hug from my son after his personal reckoning at the alter
~old friendships with new possibilities
~book clubs
~last week to homeschool for a season
~tea party planning (the real ones with tea and biscuits)
~happy pup to greet me every time I come home
~hand-written cards - the old fashioned kind - waiting in the mailbox to be a blessing
~choir practice, piano practice, football practice
~new homeschooling support and friendships
~God's faithful provision and perfect timing
~becoming a mom three glorious, miraculous times
~natural childbirth and epidurals on different occasions
~Mother's Day lessons and the gift of gourmet Humble Pie

Sunday, May 9, 2010

"The Coast"



Photo Friday - "The Coast"

I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. When asked where I'm from, the answer is, "The Coast," as if there is another. The term of endearment is used by all the locals. Live oak trees, highway 90 with sand and water on one side for miles on end, the Biloxi lighthouse, the pier and gazebo on our family's Back Bay property are all iconic images to me. This is my daughter playing in the water at the foot of the Ocean Springs bridge in August 2007. No local would ever actually get in the water, meaning I have been gone so long, we now qualify as tourists. It was a beautiful, small-town-charm kind of place to grow up before the casinos came in and brought tourism with it.

I love this picture because of the bridge in the background and how the sun shines on the lazy waves and softly silhouettes my little girl. It just screams "home" to me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lasts

We remember our "firsts," don't we. Our first bike, our first day of school, our first date. We remember a whole lot of "firsts" for our kids. First steps, first birthdays, first sleep through the night, first tooth, first word. We celebrate the "firsts." They represent a new beginning, a moving forward into new territory.

"Lasts" aren't really like that, are they. We don't always know when the last time is at hand. I don't remember the last time I nursed my last baby. I don't remember the last words I spoke to my brother, nor the last time my toddler asked me to hold her with arms reaching upward. I didn't relish the last time my children woke up and crawled in bed with us because I didn't know it was the last time. We don't notice.

My calendar showed that Thursday was to be a very busy day. I got the girls started with their schoolwork and was supposed to head off to work. Instead, I lingered in the house that didn't look much like a home and decided to tidy up a bit. As I tackled the dishes and straightened the pantry, the voice from the radio on the kitchen counter was trying to invade my thoughts. It was in the periphery until the words spoken so casually penetrated so deeply...."This could be the last National Day of Prayer."

I fell to my knees under the weight of the casual statement. Mike had been up late the night before writing out his eight minute Prayer of Repentance he would speak from the statehouse steps at noon that day. He had left unusually early that morning for a prayer breakfast at 7am. I was already well-aware that it was the National Day of Prayer. I had also heard in the preceding weeks of the court ruling that rendered, with the mere stoke of a pen, National Days of Prayer unconstitutional.

But it was the announcement that this could be the "last" that took my feet out from under me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with urgent desire to be there. I needed to be there, to take the girls. To be a part, to be [set] apart.

I packed them up quickly; they shouldered their schoolwork-burden in their book bags with questioning eyes; we met Mike and prayed for one hot and humid hour on the statehouse grounds.

While we made our desperate drive to our divine appointment, this woman on a mission explained to her young daughters what exactly had made her snap. I shared with them that our founding fathers called for days of prayer and fasting long before we were even a nation. From Washington onward, we had a long history of presidential proclamations prompting Americans to pray. There were mini-lessons on:

  • freedom of religion, despite the fact that our founders were men deeply committed to Christ alone.
  • the absence of the phrase "separation of church and state" from our nation's legal documents and its true origin and intent.
  • the sad fact that a country founded on Christian principles by Christians is dissolving into a secular, humanistic, and atheistic society.

I spouted off warnings to google-eyed, jaw-dropped pre-teens that were wondering who body-snatched their mother, that this event would not seem monumental. It would be hot, and probably boring. It won't seem like a big deal, but it's a big deal -- It could be the Last.

So we prayed that day, making government land holy ground. We prayed for the future of our nation, the leaders our kids would need to become to fight for their history and their future. We begged for God's mercy and forgiveness and thanked Him for freedom, a rich heritage and tradition steeped in godliness. As I prayed for our nation's officials and the overturning of a court ruling, I prayed that my girls' first National Day of Prayer wouldn't be their last.

Friday, May 7, 2010

No Hero

A bill was facing the House of Representatives that would impede homeschoolers in our state. I jetted off an email to one of the representatives, who happens to be a personal friend, asking him to safeguard the homeschooling community. Back and forth we emailed for a day or two, and I shared the story, as well as the emails, with my kids.

In the end, Adrian thinks I, alone, prompted an amendment to a bill that will most likely pass into state law, thus single-handedly altering the course of events in the state legislature and championing rights for homeschoolers. I'm a hero in his eyes.

While every call and email helps, it is true that the voice of each one has a right to be heard in this land of the free. My representative was very attentive to my concerns and addressed them promptly and aggressively. An amendment was made to the weak bill due to many calls from the homeschool community. I didn't really do anything to be the singular hero this time, much to Adrian's disappointment. And perhaps I won't any other time either, but what I did do was show my kids that being engaged in the process works. We have a civic duty to engage the culture, the politics, the community. Complaining and withdrawing fall far too short.

So, today I'm not a hero; but I am a patriot.

I hope I have demonstated that the statehouse is not so far removed from our house. That, in fact, the statehouse IS our house. With a review of the legislative process and a living example to engage in first-hand, I teach my kids the beauty, the right, the responsibility that freedom is.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On Guard

I joined an online community called 1000 gifts.


Busy life steals the little meaningful things from each day if I'm not paying attention.


And I'm not paying attention.


More and more, I'm distracted by too many demands on my schedule, too many meals to prepare, bathrooms to clean, bills to pay, appointments to schedule.


So here I am, on guard to be thankful, spotting ways to see what I so easily miss, the gift in the everyday living. I'm determined to notice the blessing hidden in the busy-ness, the amazing camouflaged by the mundane.


10 ~ this week's long to do list and the strength to tackle it graciously

11 ~ dinner prepared and in the oven just before lunch

12 ~ flexible work schedules

13 ~ strawberries

14 ~ Benadryl and a needed good night's sleep

15 ~ bringing dinner to my niece and her newborn

16 ~ loud praise and worship service alone in my sanctuary on four wheels

17 ~ catching up on laundry and dishes

18 ~ love that covers a multitude of sins

19 ~ new shoes

20 ~ a hubby who sweeps the kitchen, without complaint that I haven't

21 ~ laughter and family at the dinner table

22 ~ plans for Friday night

23 ~ a house full of teens with open bibles and hearts

24 ~ the smell of newborn baby E, the weight of him in my arms

25 ~ the animalistic motherly instinct all newborns bring forth ... that no man will ever know




Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Scream for Ice Cream!

My grandmother, had she lived long enough to see Reagan in action, would have called her a Hot Sketch. Mike calls her a Piece of Work. Even today after church a lady that doesn't even know her very well called her a Live Wire. I just call her SASSY. I've always blamed it on her Titi Omi (Mike's sister, who has made it her life mission to teach her neices how to be divas). But no matter what you call it or where it came from, sometimes it's just downright funny.

On Friday she left her father an "Electronic Letter," a term I was unfamiliar with, but most assuredly was not original with her.

I couldn't figure out how to embed it into the post, but if you click the link you can open the file and listen to the electornic letter. I promise it's worth the extra effort.

http://www.mediafire.com/?4hwymyxzyjw

Can I just say here that this baby was addressed to her father -- not me -- because he's the Softy around here....See?



I can't say I blame him. What's life without a little ice cream and sassiness now and again?
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