Thursday, March 25, 2010

Story Time

I am not one to watch a lot of TV, but I have recently discovered a new reality show that I am really enjoying called Undercover Boss. I have seen three episodes of it, and I am really intrigued. In case you haven't seen it, the premise is this: The head of a company goes "undercover" for a week within his company and works several of the different jobs in the company during the course of the week. In doing so, he gets a chance to see aspects within the company that he often wouldn't during his day to day work in the office. He sees the policies in action, the employees at work, the difficulty of the jobs...And something else occurs as well. By being "among the people," he begins to see that the employees are real people with real stories. In the episodes I've watched, there have been some pretty powerful stories. A man whose daughter had died, a lady working as many hours as possible to provide for her family, a man who is trying to be the dad his dad never was to him.

As I've watched, it has struck me time and again how important our stories really are, and how important it is to find out other people's stories. Our church is currently going through a series titled, "What's Your Story?" Upon first hearing about it, I don't think I fully got the significance of it. I became a Christian at a young age and oftentimes have felt like I don't have much of a story. However, God has taught me in the past several years that we ALL have a story, and that any story involving Christ in our life is a story of great value. By watching Undercover Boss, it has been impressed on my heart again and again how easy it is for us to get so absorbed in our own lives (in the show this is portrayed with the boss not knowing about the actual work going on) that we fail to notice the people around us.

Our pastor likes to remind us, "You've never locked eyes with someone for whom Christ did not die." Look around you today. Who can you share your story with--and whose story can you hear? There are people all around us longing to know someone loves them and cares about them. By taking the time to see and hear those around us, we can introduce them to Someone who will never leave them nor forsake them, who will never let them down. So, what's your story--and are you going to keep it locked away inside or are you going to share it with the world?

*You can post your story at

Monday, March 22, 2010

God's Cake

Let me just warn you now... right up front. I am currently suffering from a disorder. Not so very rare, from what I understand. I am suffering from a condition a friend today affectionately nicknamed "Spring Break Brain" or "SBB". Busy moms and teachers alike were counting down until last week. We jumped into that heavenly little preview of summer (ok, I was in south Louisiana, so we didn't get the snow) and left it behind MOST relectantly today, kicking and screaming all the way back into the "real world". How many more weeks 'til summer??

I warn you up front so you will understand that I don't really have a well-planned topic today, I am sorry to say. So if you feel as though you are reading several disjointed messages with no overarching theme... well...welcome, my friend! Welcome to SBB-Land! My apologies in advance.

First of all, I wanted to just share with you that I am currently on Day 34. (You might wonder by my introduction if I am referring to "days on a nicotine patch"!!) No, no... You see, I gave up Facebook for Lent this year. And yes, I am currently on Day 34 of that particular journey. Has it always been easy? No Did I go through some withdrawals? Yes Do I still have them from time to time? Yes Is it getting easier over time? Yes Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

Though I am not Catholic, our pastor urges us every year to seriously consider giving up something important to us over the Lenten season. This way, whenever we want to reach for or have some of whatever "it" is... we can use that as a prompting to focus on what is most important: Christ's sacrifice for us... how He died on the cross for us. It does make our smaller "sacrifices" seem like ashes in comparison. But, though it has not always been easy, it truly has helped me to focus on what is most important, in this time leading up to Easter.

Secondly, I just wanted to say that when I was in Louisiana this weekend for a friend's birthday, I had a minor revelation that I wanted to share here. After we celebrated her birthday with dinner, my friend divided the guests into two teams and we were sent on a very interesting scavenger hunt through the French Quarter in New Orleans. We had to track down facts about local landmarks, answer questions to see how well we really knew my friend, and, in what proved to be one of the night's toughest challenges... we had to find a coin dated "1960" (my friend's birth year).

Now, if I may be so bold... WHEN is the last time that you actually looked at the dates on the coins that happen to be in your possession? There were many we found from the 1990's.. from the 2000's. A few random ones from the 70's and 80's. Some surprises too.. that shiny nickle that you would just know was minted last year that turned out to be from 1956. That crusty old-looking penny that HAD to hail from way back in the 40's... nope, try 1997.

I know that I could not even remember the last time I actually looked that closely at a coin in my possession. It made me think, for a brief second, how glad I was that God does not let us slide so casually through His fingers, as most of us do the coins we encounter daily. He knows not only our year of origin, He knows every tiny detail... all our shining moments.. all our tiny (and not-so-tiny) imperfections. All our glittering splendor... and all our rough, crusty edges. Regardless, He always values us as rare treasure. Nothing about us escapes His notice. He loves us that much!

Finally, I have many friends who have been experiencing some very rough times lately. Divorce, job loss, illness and death of family members.. and the list goes on. It is so hard to try & make sense of it all... all our day-to-day struggles.

I received an email from a dear friend that helped put all these things into such perspective today. I wanted to copy and share the main message of it here:

Sometimes we wonder, 'What did I do to deserve this?' or 'Why did God have to do this to me?' Here is a wonderful explanation! A daughter is telling her Mother how everything is going wrong, she's failing algebra, her boyfriend broke up with her and her best friend is moving away.
Meanwhile, her Mother is baking a cake and asks her daughter if she would like a snack, and the daughter says, 'Absolutely Mom, I love your cake.'
'Here, have some cooking oil,' her Mother offers.
'Yuck' says her daughter.
'How about a couple raw eggs?' 'Gross, Mom!'
'Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?'
'Mom, those are all yucky!'
To which the mother replies: 'Yes , all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake! '
God works the same way. Many times we wonder why He would let us go through such bad and difficult times. But God knows that when He puts these things all in His order, they always work for good. We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful. --Anonymous

Friends, I hope that whatever struggles you are experiencing today, you will think of how God truly treasures you (and even those of us with seasonally-induced temporary mental issues) when you see those "random" coins in your purse this week. And I hope that if you see a big, wonderful-looking piece of cake, you will keep in mind that just as the baker brought those ingredients together in an almost magical process... so does God work all together for good in our lives.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fear and Prayer Intertwined

Have you ever been overcome by seemingly irrational fears? Apprehension over something you will not be able to control, worry that events will go horribly wrong? All this with no evident reason, nothing rational to support your fear?

For the first time in my life (that I can remember, anyway), I was struck by such a baseless fear. It grew from a nameless emotion into something that gave me nightmares over the course of 2 or 3 months. Many would just label it "hormones." I was, after all, 7, 8 and 9 months pregnant during this period of time. And my fear was directly related to that status--I worried that something tragic would happen to my baby and/or me before or during the birthing process.

Before this baby arrived, I'd enjoyed three eventless, relatively easy pregnancies and deliveries. My 3 older children are absolute blessings. So my history gave no indication that something would go wrong with #4. And all prenatal visits showed a healthy baby growing inside. I felt great, the baby looked good, all seemed normal and well. And my friends tell me that I'm a pretty laid-back, confident, stable sort of gal. Yet, the fear came and stayed.

My (un)reasoning went something like this: what are the odds? I've had 3 perfect childbirth experiences. Can I really expect a fourth one just like those? I'm pushing 40 (docs call that AMA--advanced maternal age), I have friends struggling with difficult pregnancies (so I know what could happen), et cetera, et cetera.

I didn't tell anyone until the final week before delivering. And I only told one person--an older friend and colleague--to ask for prayer. Mostly for me to stop worrying! But also for the baby. I never even told my husband...I just kept it all in.

I could write another blog's-worth about the horrible theology I was practicing. Everything about it was wrong, as if circumstances were beyond God's control. And I knew I was thinking badly, every step of the way. Worse, we'd just spent the Christmas season walking through the Nativity story with our children. Fresh on my mind were the words of the angel Gabriel (to Zachariah and Mary) in which the first thing he says is, "Do not be afraid!"

And then God did something wonderful. Two days before my scheduled induction, a friend who had learned the name of the hospital where I planned to deliver, sent me a message (via facebook, where else?). She told me that during a visit to that same hospital, she walked the halls praying for me and my upcoming time there. Several other friends sent less specific notes that day mentioning their prayers for me.

I cried. Yeah, almost anything can make a pregnant woman do that. But these were tears of relief, thankfulness, amazement...that God would send me such specific messages of His care. He knew my worried heart, He heard my friend's prayer, and He prompted her to encourage me with a brief note affirming that my situation indeed was being put before the Father.

All together, in addition to my own prayer life (which included a lot of, "I know I'm being stupid, Lord; please forgive my lack of faith"), my heart and mind were easy on the actual day in question. I don't remember even thinking about possible problems until it was all over and I held my beautiful, healthy son in my arms.

If you find yourself thinking badly, knowing you are being irrational yet unable to stop, tell someone. Ask for help and prayer and comfort. Even if you feel silly admitting to your fears. I confessed mine to another friend, after the fact, only to learn that she also had feared the same thing for me and had been praying for weeks ahead of time. And though I was glad she had wisely not shared her feelings with me before, I was once again comforted by knowing that yet another friend had been praying for me.

So next time you pray for someone, tell her. You never know how that might encourage her heart. Your words may be the answer to her prayer.

PS. Oh, the irony: all along we were planning to name our baby Gabriel. Now he'll forever remind me to "fear not!"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Children Are A Gift From God

Sons are a heritage from the LORD,  children a reward from him.   
Psalm 127:3 (NIV)

About a month ago I thought I knew exactly what I was going to write about for this post.  It was actually something I had been thinking about posting for months now so I guess I will eventually write it but not today. 

A couple of weeks ago as I was catching up on Face Book I read a status update that included a link to a blog about a little two year old girl that was very sick and not given much time to live.  I immediately clicked over and started reading.  As any of you that have read my post before know that our first little girl only lived for 17 short hours and then we lost our second little girl through a miscarriage.  So, when I read about a sick child or child loss my heart breaks for the parents and families.  I have been there holding our first daughter when she took her last breath.  I have been told that it did not look like our second daughter would make it and then hearing there was no heartbeat.  I have been very blessed to also hear the doctor say “it’s a girl” and hear a little cry in the room and then was able to bring my precious little girl home 11 days later! 

Everyday I realize what a precious gift God has given us.  Life is so fragile.  As I have been following this moms blog and twitter I have been reminded again about what a precious gift children are.  Never should we take one moment for grantit. 

It does not matter what age your child is they are still a precious gift from God.   Sometimes when I am out and about with my little one and we see an elderly person walking I stop and think that one time they were just as small as my little girl. So, no matter how old your child is go and give them a great big hug today and everyday and remember how precious they are no matter their age.  Life is to fragile to not let them know how much you love them.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bear One Another's Burden's

As I sit here tonight, I am amazed at God's love, and saddened by the loss I have seen today. As I looked at face book this morning, I read about a friend who's mother went to be with the Lord today. Then as I continued to read, another friend's grandmother died today, also, a loving Christian woman and friend of my mother's, was killed today. Then tonight I went to a viewing for a friend who just lost her husband to cancer. YET.... the AMAZING thing was.... through all of their sadness, they each had hope. They each knew that their loved ones were now in the arms of JESUS! They also, each had many friends praying for them, embracing them and sharing their burdens.
Sometimes in life we need that extra help! We think we have to do it all alone... We think that we have to be perfect.... We think... "No one else struggles the way I do." These statements are just not true.
This might be a pretty sad way to get into this blog, but as I was sitting here, trying to figure out what to blog today, I couldn't help but think of all of these friends. They are hurting, but God will use this pain for HIS glory.
In our attempt to be the "perfect" Christian woman, wife, and mother, we think we should have the perfect house, children, and meals. Let's face it! We are not all gifted in every area. SO!
My solution is BARTER! Share one another's burdens!

When I lived in Phoenix, I dreamed of having a housekeeper come in and clean my house. The finances, just didn't allow that to happen, so me and a friend of mine named Jennifer decided that we would help each other out and barter. Each week we would switch houses. One week we would come to my house and clean (3 hour time limit, and while our husbands were not at home), and the next we would go to hers. We had a great time, we uncovered lots of cob webs, and we bonded like never before. Our houses looked great, and best of all, it was FREE! The next year, a 3rd girl joined in the rotation, and we even began, organizing for each other and cleaning out closets, cabinets, and de-cluttering our houses. It was great!
Since that time, I have done this with a few other friends. I have bartered organizing together with a good friend, and traded skills with friends. There are many creative things that you can barter to save money. I will list some below. The key when doing this though, is set time limits and expectations clearly before getting started, so that no one feels taken advantage of. Also, try to do this when your spouse is away from the house, and don't be embarrassed to let someone see, where you might need help, or have a dirty closet.


swap trades
(example: painting, cooking, sewing, etc... we all have different talents,
so the ideas are endless!)
babysitting (trade babysitting with a friend... get your errands run, child free,
or go on a date with your spouse.)
organizing (choose a project that you need help with and trade with a friend.
Your house this week, theirs next week.)
Cleaning (don't be embarrassed! Have fun!)
Trade household items. (once I painted for someone, and they gave me a computer, also, I have traded pieces of furniture with friends before. We both wanted something different)
Grocery Shopping ( I have done this with a friend in two ways. Sometimes, I would go to her house, watch all the children while she shopped, they she would watch them, while I shopped. The children got a "play day" and we got to the store quickly. Other times, one of us would watch the children, and the other, would do the shopping.)

These are just a few ideas. We are ALL so different, and we all have different talents to share.
Be creative. Have fun! Get to know your friends better, and share one another's burdens!
We were not meant to do it all alone.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Insert Mouth Guard


It's a challenge between husbands and wives, between mother and daughter-in-laws, among siblings, in the UNITED Nations, between co-workers, in the halls of Congress...

And even in church pews.

Sometimes it's just plain hard to get along. To accept and be gracious toward another regardless of whether we see eye-to-eye.

As you likely know, our church family will be voting on a proposed by-law change next Wednesday night. It is possibly the most important FBC-related vote in recent history so I encourage you to learn more about it and ATTEND the VOTE. However, I think we also to look beyond what happens next week. No matter the outcome, God is still sovereign. And, no matter what happens, we are still called to extend grace and seek unity.

Honestly, it's natural for there to be feelings of resentment and distrust on both sides. It's been amazing to hear of the cordial, no, GRACE-FILLED, conversations that have taken place. Praise God for that blessing and for our staff's leadership! But, I do believe many privately struggle with how to feel about the situation and the people involved.

Whatever side you're on, our church body is going to need some healing. And to achieve that, we're all going to have to make some choices. We, as many churches before us, can let this issue divide us and harbor resentment toward those on the opposing side. Or, we can do the harder thing and recognize that sometimes families face tough issues. We can disagree, but we still need to forgive and extend grace. Any gossip must stop, any judgement must end. God does not give us an option on this.

In 1 Corinthians 12, we read, "The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor." The body needs all it's parts in all its states. His Word goes on to say, "But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other."

No division.


Unbroken. Complete. Undivided. One.

1 Peter 5:8 warns us, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Satan is prowling like a lion looking to devour. He is watching this unfold with hunger in his eyes, ready to pounce, eagerly licking his chops because he knows this is a very dangerous snare for believers. He lurks for the opportunity to weaken us in our witness and our walk.

I pray that grace-filled conversations will continue to happen and, where there is temptation to speak ill-will, that God will guard our words. Psalm 141:3 reads, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Pray for God to insert a God-sized mouth guard in these coming days so we can strive for unity and protect the body of Christ whom God so richly loves.

And, finally, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23). Pray that not only will we have control over our words, but that the heart of God would be in us.

May God be glorified!

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Children Learn What They Live"

Children Learn What They Live

By Dorothy Law Nolte, Ph.D.

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

This beautiful poem was written by Dorothy Law Nolte and was a poem I grew up knowing. It actually hung in my home. Although it is not taken from Scripture, one can certainly see many points that align themselves with GOD's word.

The author was a lady who wrote a column in the 1950's. Her column was due and she had a deadline to meet. So, at her kitchen table she decided to write something meaningful to her. She penned out 19 truths of parenting that could impact a child's life. Parents started using the poem to raise their children. A prince in Japan was using it to raise his princess daughter and said it was life changing. A baby food company was using it to sell its food. It was a hit! Then, later in 1972, Mrs. Nolte published the poem itself and it became even more popular.

Mrs. Nolte went on to write a book called Children Learn What They Live and later a book for parents of teens called Teens Learn What They Live (both available on the Focus on the Family website). The first book has 19 chapters that correspond to the nineteen points in the poem. This poem and the ideas were so transformative that Mrs. Nolte became a famous family counselor and speaker.

When one looks at the poem in its entirety one might feel one of two ways. One could feel encouraged, "Wow, this gives me some direction! I want my child to learn to be generous, so I will give her opportunities to share." Or one may feel overwhelmed, "Wow! No wonder my kids fight, our home is hostile!" Or perhaps, "It certainly is a tall order to get all this right!"

Let me encourage us as moms to see this poem as a great way to take a little bit of wisdom and make it go a long way. If there is some criticism in your home and you see where it can lead, then pray and work to stop just this one area. Claim a Scripture for it. Also, look for an area of character development you want to see in your child or home. If you want to see security, seek the LORD in this. Pray it over your children, with your spouse if you are married, and even with your children. Find Scripture that claims security in Christ.

Post this poem as a reminder of the power of both the positive and negative in our children's lives. Remember GOD wants us to succeed as Moms. He wants us to come to Him with our needs.

"We can say this, because through Christ

we feel sure before GOD.

I do not mean that we are able to say that we can do this work ourselves.

It is GOD who makes us able to do all that we can do."

II Corinthians 3 4&5

We do not parent in isolation, but with an Almighty Father. We do not have to be the perfect Moms when we look to the Perfect Father and remember that we too are His daughters!

Dear Father, Help us remember that our children do learn what they live. Help us let You guide their lives as we parent them in Your ways.