Monday, July 30, 2012

The Wisdom Women: Dora Maye Todd

For as long as I can remember, going to my grandparents house was synonymous with being around Jesus. They prayed at meal times like most families, but they also prayed whenever something was needing prayer. They prayed during a nightly family devotional (and I mean... every. single. night. without fail). They prayed whenever they just wanted to talk to Jesus.

Don't get me wrong- we weren't sitting around all day in Christian meditation… my grandparents were both hard workers down in the Valley of Texas on their citrus farm. Theyknew the value of sweat, and when we went down to visit, our weeks were flavored with both a bunch of fun, a little bit of farming, and a lot of Jesus.

Now, my grandfather was a southern baptist preacher. A good sort- the kind that'll try to snatch your soul outta' hell on a Sunday morning and work alongside ya all week long. And they say that behind every good man you find anamazing woman. And that woman is my Mamaw, Dora Maye Todd.

She was born in Grand Saline, Texas in 1922 (yep… she just had her 90th birthday!), grew up, went off to Baylor and married my grandfather when she was almost 21.And then they gallivanted all over Texas… with Papaw becoming a pastor at a few different churches and Mamaw supporting him in the ministry of a Pastor's wife.

Lately Mamaw has been speaking a lot about family. She told me a few weeks ago when I asked her what's most important in life… "Faith and Family".

And then she proceeded to talk at length, in a particularly lucid moment for a 90 year old woman, about how family is the thing that makes you into who you are, and aside from Heaven, it is the most important thing in your life. She then related the heart breaking story of how she accepted Christ. I've heard it so many times, and each time it rocks me to the core. I've taken this account that includes all of the details from her book My Legacy and My Memoirs.
The week before my ninth birthday, our parents let my sister Johnnie Allene and me sit together by ourselves in church. Johnnie Allene was now five years old. She was a very precocious child who loved music and had begun kindergarten activities under Aunt Maude and Mama's tutorage. She was proving she was big enough to sit by me. As the service was coming to a close, she stepped beside me during the invitation hymn and asked me to go to the front and join the church with her. I grabbed her hand and held her back, saying to myself that she didn't understand. But in reality, I knew if she went then I, too, had to go trust Jesus for myself and make it known to everyone that I wanted Him to be in charge of my life.
The next week Daddy was to take the band to Myrtle Springs for the summer entertainment program they were having by the pool. Parents would be taking their cars loaded with band members. Mama had been ill with a back ache and was debating whether we should go with the band. Johnnie Allene and I had no question in our minds! We wanted to go. Finally Mama decided she would go with us. We grabbed our swim suits and were ready to go! We took a couple of the band members. Daddy wanted us to wait until after the band finished playing,then he would go swimming with us. We began begging him to let us go as soon aswe got there. Finally Mama said she would sit beside the pool watching us. Daddy agreed we could go. That was a real treat for there was no swimming pool in Grand Saline.

Having just celebrated my ninth birthday a day or so earlier, I felt I deserved the privilege of going into the intermediate pool for older and taller children. I cautioned Johnnie Allene to stay in the kiddie part of the pool, and I moved into a bit deeper water and began playing with the children there. Soon Johnnie Allene came toward me, and I warned her to go back, but I did not go with her and continued playing. Soon Mama called me to come where she was sitting. She had been visiting with some teachers whom she had not seen in years. All she wanted from me was to know where Johnnie Allene was? I pointed to the spot where I had seen her last as she ventured into deeper water. The alarm was given and everyone began looking for her. A very kind lady went with me to put on my clothes. She purposefully kept me in the dressing room while they dragged the pool and finally sent for a "pullmotor" with the hopes they could resuscitate my little sister. Nothing did any good.

I had failed to keep my promise to watch her. I returned home under a cloud of sorrow and conviction of sin. If I had been the one to drown, I knew that I was not saved; I was lost! I kept remembering holding Johnnie Allene so she couldn't go publicly trust Christ. I cannot begin to tell you all I thought and felt. Throngs of people came to offer their sympathy. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and my Grandmother Luce came to stand beside us. Two cousins stayed with me a month to help me through one of life's darkest times. No one knew the load of guilt I carried, yet I never turned to my folks nor did I seem to know how to share my problem with the Lord for I knew I needed his Salvation and comfort.
Gradually, I got used to the idea that Johnnie Allene was living in Heaven, but I would not accept that it was forever. When I felt very alone, I would pretend she was playing with her playmates at the neighbors, but I could not get away from my guilt.
Some months later during a revival, my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Edith Dixon, saw my hurt and my need. One Sunday when my friends were trusting Jesus, Mrs. Dixon put her arm around me and asked me if I didn't want to trust Jesus myself? I answered, "I'll have to go ask Mama." I moved out to go to Mama who was in the next section, but as I moved out, I realized this was to be my decision, and I turned to go forward to confess Christ as my Savior. As I turned toward the front to make my decision known, it seemed a load was lifted, and I felt Satan leaving as Christ's love covered me. This experience changed my life, and although Satan continues to seize each opportunity to attach at my weakest spot, "I know in whom I have believed and am grateful no person can pluck me away from Christ and His protecting love."
I asked her, "How does a young girl move past such devastation?" Her answer: Christ. and family.

Over and over throughout the years, I have seen her live her belief that these two things would hold her life together. And she has been amazing at marrying the two things together: her family was led to follow Christ in all of its decisions, and her devotion to Christ led her to love and cherish her family above all else.

And just a few days ago, even as she sat in her room fighting off an infection, she followed this up with a sweet message to my mother and my aunt as they were visiting her…
"Take care of each other. Because when you are taking care of each other you are taking care of me."
Sounds a bit like Christ, doesn't it?

The Wisdom Women: An Introduction

Ya know, one of the cool things about the authorship of the women that post on this blog is that we are all in such similar walks of life and yet we all have small variations that make each woman's situation unique. Several of the Stitches women have kids around the same age as my children... so we are in that "circle" together (as Google would call it). A few of the writers have adopted or are in the process of adoption... I'm not in that "circle" (although I'm sure my friend Courtney would probably like to add the word yet to that phrase)!

But over the past few months of reading posts, I realized that what is the coolest thing about us is also the most dangerous. We have no elders writing to share with us the wisdom of the ages!

There are women among some of us who hold the Wisdom of the generation before us. And they held the wisdom of the generation before that. And those women held the wisdom of the generation before that one... and before that... and before that. And yet, because they are not big into the whole blogosphere, then many of us who get our wisdom and encouragement soley from blogs of like-lived women are missing out on all that our grandmothers have to offer.

So, when there was another open spot for a blogger on here, I literally said out loud to myself, "Dang, I wish my Mamaw and my Nanny could write for this blog."


Well, Mamaw may have lost some of her ability to type, and my Nanny isn't on the internet or anything, but I tell ya what... those woman can talk about Jesus until they are blue in the face.

And well... I can type.
And I'm on the internet.
And I can listen. (Well, when I try really hard to not talk, then I can listen - ha!)

So, my Mamaw (Dora Maye Todd) and my Nanny (Iris Parker) have both agreed to switch off every other month as a co-writer with me. Essentially I will be interviewing them about... well, whatever they want to talk about probably... and then condensing it into a blog. So that maybe, we can capture a bit of the wisdom that they hold in their souls.

I'm writing two blogs today... this one was just a small introduction to what we'll be doing, and then in a bit I'll publish one that contains my Mamaw's words of wisdom. (Nanny is next month!)

The older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. Titus 2:4-5

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Holy Hooky

I never skipped school once.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I faked sick plenty of times... but I never told my parents that I was going to school and didn't. Sure, other kids snuck off to Towne Lake across the street, or the apartments that neighbored McKinney High, or went to Bill Smith's for breakfast... but not me. Mainly because I was completely and utterly petrified that my mother (who worked for McKinney ISD at the time) would find out... and rest assured, she would have found out about it. And, well, I wasn't really into being grounded for a year (and, to be honest, that probably would have been the minimum punishment), so I just chose to fly straight.

But church... well, that was a different matter. Church was a little easier to fly under the radar and be somewhere else. I really didn't skip that a lot though either because I loved it... it had Grant Byrd, a bunch of other awkward (and some, not so awkward) teenagers, Jesus, joy, and excitement. Youth group was just... awesome. I wasn't part of the super cool spiritual popular group, and honestly I wish that I'd been more "okay" with that back then, but nonetheless, I had great friends and Grant challenged us over and over and over again... there never seemed to be a week that was a "dud" for me. I was always growing. There was always something to do. Always something to work on. Always someone to help. Always fun to be had.

And then, I had to grow up.

And well, there is no youth group for people in their 20s.

I bounced around from Sunday school class to Sunday school class... sometimes going with my parents, sometimes going to the college group, finally giving in and attending the single's group (where I, sure enough, met my husband). Then he and I were both in such denial that we were suddenly part of the "Young Married" section that we stayed on as leaders of the single's group.

Until we had just a... bad... situation happen. No need for me to go into it... cause it doesn't matter. All that matters is that it was enough to make us quit teaching the singles, quit going to our own Sunday school class, and quit going to church.

For two years.

Now I promise that this is not a "January-needs-to-purge" kind of post... here is where it gets to the part for those who have never skipped church, never been "mad" at church, never been disillusioned with the Bride of Christ, and well... it's even for those who have felt all those things as well. Consider this to be a "training manual" of how to respond and how to not respond to someone that is “skipping” church. And allow me to add that it is with quite a bit of humility that I write and read this… because I’m afraid that I have done a few of these myself to other people, even after my… sabbatical… from church.

But before you get started on my opinions and experiences, I think it is a good idea to see what God says about the issue…

Even though I am a free man with no master, I have become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ. 

When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.

When I am with the Gentiles who do not follow the Jewish law,t I too live apart from that law so I can bring them to Christ. But I do not ignore the law of God; I obey the law of Christ.

When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. 1 Corinthians 9:19-22

Now, take a second to think on those words before you read. Allow them to sink into your life. into your thinking. into your attitude. into your spirit.

Now… here are some phrases that I think we probably shouldn’t say to someone who is starting to drop off from the church scene…
We missed you in church on Sunday!
First of all, at all costs, avoid the phrase “We missed you in church on Sunday”…since it is, sorry to say, kind of canned sounding and the whole point is to be genuine with your brothers and sisters in Christ. No need to tell people that you missed them in church… instead, ask them something about their life… “Hey, how did that trade show of your husband’s go down?” or “Girl, I saw these adorable boots today at Ross and totally thought of you.” Let them know that you are thinking about them on a personal level and not on a “I-take-attendance-and-you-weren’t-there” level.

Oooooo, look who decided to show up today… aka Long time, no see
Yeah, no one really likes to be “mocked” for not coming to church. This is like the one response that will almost 100% of the time guarantee to make someone not want to come back again. No need to remind someone that they have “failed” to come to church for a while. Additionally, if you are saying this phrase, then you have probably not done a good job of keeping up with them in the first place… and in that case, you are really the one that has “failed”.

So, you come to our Christmas Party, but can’t come to Sunday school???
If someone is skipping out on Sunday school each week, but they show up to a Christmas party or come to sit with your class after a Big Tent Revival… then, instead of taking a good look at the person who only comes to socials, you probably need to take a good look at your Sunday school environment because it’s probably not very conducive to fellowship… which is, after all, the entire reason we go to church with other believers. So if someone only wants to come to the parties, then they obviously want some fellowship and they don’t feel like they are getting genuine fellowship on Sundays.

Why don’t you come to church anymore?
This is a tough one… a lot of times it’s a question that “skippers” actually do want to be asked (although they do not want to be asked this at church). More often than not, they want to work through whatever “issue” it is that they have with church, but...

What they don’t want is the lecture that almost always ensues after their response.
What they don’t want is to feel like they are only “worthy” of friendship if they go to church.
What they don’t want is advice on how to “fix” their situation.

So, my advice… ask the question. Then… listen… genuinely and actively listen to the answer, even if you completely disagree… and just respond with something that validates what they felt. Cause we all know, perception is reality. It doesn’t matter what was really happening when they decided to stop coming to church… what matters is how they felt when they stopped coming to church… that is their reality. So, you could say…
“Oh gosh, what a tough deal.”
“I’m really sorry that happened.”

Okay, so honestly, I debated and debated about writing this and posting it… cause I sooooo try to avoid being a Negative Nancy, but… well, that verse above always sticks in my head when it comes to interacting with believers at ALL stages of their walk and of their church-going status. I guess… well, I just want us to avoid accidentally turning a believer into a “church drop-out”. So, I’ll end with the NIV version of the last verse above (and I turned it into a mini-prayer for us)… and I just ask that we let the words sink into each of us and season the way that we interact with our fellow believers… even if they are playing holy hooky…

God… help me to become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. Amen

Monday, July 23, 2012

I saw it on Facebook ...

... so it must be true. [smirk] Wish I knew to whom to attribute this quote/thought, but I saw it on Facebook sometime this week. "One of Satan's greatest weapons is mother fatigue." Did any of you post it or remember who did? Do you know who originally said it?

UPDATE: My friend Melissa Freeman resent me the quote.  ‎"Satan's greatest tool in the life of a mother is fatigue." Bertha Smith. I was pretty close to remembering. Thanks, Melissa!

I am living testimony to the truth of that statement. And yet, I am further testimony to "Our God is a Great Big God" and "In my weakness, He is Strong."

About 70 days ago, I committed to God to write every night on an Armor of God study He's call me to write. I almost didn't write last night because I was physically, mentally and emotionally beat. And I must have really irritated Satan because my computer crashed just about halfway though writing. But too bad, because God had some programmer at Google come up with auto save and restore functions, and all that effort wasn't lost. Then, I was just energized on adrenalin and angry at someone trying to mess with me, and I said:

Jesus is my Rock and my Fortress. There is no room for you here. Leave me and my family alone.

You see, my day started yesterday at 6:30 am with P2 (middle child, 6 yrs) coughing and asking for water and breakfast and when was I going to get up. When I answered, "A few more minutes," I could hear him whispering and peeked over the side of my bed to discover him and Sweet P (youngest child, 4 yrs) on the mat talking about when I would get up. I ended my day, starting at 8:00 pm with P2 in hysterics. He was so sick of being sick. It was day 5 of him having a fever and cough and generally feeling lousy. He could not contain his emotion any more, and he just wanted his momma. After getting him to calm down, we read books, sang lullabies and prayed. Then he wanted me to sit with him until he fell asleep. He never asks for that, so I knew he was just miserable. Unfortunately, it took him until 9:20pm to fall asleep.

Then at 9:45 pm, when it was time for P1 (oldest child, 11 yrs) to go to bed, he was in tears because his ear hurts. He has the same cold that P2 has, but for P1, it is snot and barking cough. I guess the snot was in his right ear, causing much pain. I gave him Mucinex, Advil, and put numbing drops in his ear. I also gave him a heat compress to put on his ear. When I finally got him in bed, he asked me to read because he hurt too bad to read himself. He went to sleep fairly quickly, within one chapter, but it just took so long to get him to settle down.

And I was fatigued, so I started not to write. But here I am. I made a promise to God. See, I did gear up that morning, put on my Armor of God. That's why I told P2 "a few more minutes." I can't get out of bed without reading Scripture and praying. I was reading in Mark about Jesus healing the sick, casting out demons, and rebuking the fake religious people of the time. Chapter 3 ends with, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, my sister and my mother."

Know what? I am Christ's sister, adopted into the Family of God, and here I am, doing the will of God. I committed to writing because He called me to write, and He has been faithful, so faithful to give me the ability to write, the words to write, and a message He wants me to share. As tired as I was normally, I would have crashed out quickly, if not straight to sleep, at least to lying in a numb stupor watching reruns on Nick at Night.

Instead, with God's Joy as my strength I wrote, and now I write to encourage you, my sisters in Christ. I know at times, you are tired and fatigued. As women, we are generally busier in any given 24 hours that we thought possible. We are pulled in every direction for work, family, home-making, house-keeping, volunteer work, God's work. In your tiredness and fatigue, don't let your guard down and say things you shouldn't say, do things you shouldn't do or abandon the tasks God has called you to do. Don't let Satan use your fatigue to his advantage.

Instead, let God use it to His Glory. Call on Him and His power. He is all the strength you need. Give God all the glory for what He does through this tired, broken vessel. Ask God, and He will provide His very best, all you need and more. After all, you're His kid ... you're family.

Luke 11:10-13
Amplified Bible (AMP)

10 For everyone who asks and keeps on asking receives; and he who seeks and keeps on seeking finds; and to him who knocks and keeps on knocking, the door shall be opened.

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a loaf of bread, will give him a stone; or if he asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent?

12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?

13 If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts [gifts that are to their advantage] to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask and continue to ask Him!

Family of God by William J. Gaither

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God

I've been washed in the fountain
And cleansed by His blood
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod
For I'm a part of the family
The family of God 

You will notice we say brother and sister around here
It's because we're a family and these folks are so near
When one has a heartache we all share the tears
We rejoice in each victory in this family so dear 

From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King
No longer an outcast, a new song I can sing
From rags to riches, from the weak to the strong
I'm not worthy to be here but thank God I belong 

I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God
I've been washed in the fountain
And cleansed by His blood
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod
For I'm a part of the family
The family of God

Friday, July 20, 2012


Recently, I took my daughters to see the movie "Brave". In the film, the young princess, Merida, longs to change her fate. Consequently, she takes matters into her own hands and finds herself on a quest that requires great courage. In the end, Merida discovers a life more fulfilling than she ever imagined. And it all started with a choice to be brave.

In some ways, art truly imitates life in this colorful children's tale. To live life to the fullest requires one to be brave. After all, life is an adventure of moving from what is known to what is new. It's a journey that requires both courage and faith. Looking back, every life altering decision I have ever made proves it to be so...

Accepting that first dinner invitation from a handsome boy with kind blue eyes; the boy who would, one day, become my husband. Brave.

Picking up stakes and moving away from my  roots in order to start a new life after college graduation. Brave.

Leaving my career so that I could be available to my children full-time, even when the budget said it was impossible. Brave.

Sending a manuscript from an unknown author to every publisher both great and small in hopes of seeing it one day in publication. Brave.

Starting the process of bringing home our fourth child through domestic infant adoption. Brave!

Every one of these milestones in my life required more courage than I can muster on my own. Yet, a refusal to step in faith, because of fear, would have denied me great blessing and purpose in my life. It's not that I am a naturally courageous woman. To the contrary, my first inclination is to hunker down and take the safe road. Still, when God puts His best in front of me, I am challenged to be brave. By His power, I want to see what is on the other side of fear more than I want to hide in my bunker. I suspect I am not alone. In fact, I believe this is a familiar battle waged in the heart of every believer. The unknown is scary. But faith in God trumps fear. Every time!

The Bible declares that God wants His people to be brave.  "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)  As women of faith, we are not exempt from that challenge. To the contrary, we are called to walk in faith in spite of our fear.

Consider Deborah. One of the great judges of Israel, Deborah led her people during a time of overwhelming cruelty and oppression. Despite her fears, and I am sure she had them, God called Deborah into battle. Courage, coupled with complete faith in God, led Deborah to grand victory and her people to deliverance. I believe that God used this single woman, the only female judge in Israel's history, to teach us that women must not shrink from life's challenges. Like Deborah, we are all called to be brave, to leave our comfort zones, and follow God's lead. 

 Confucius wisely declared, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." What he failed to point out is that each and every step will require faith and courage you do not possess on your own.  Deborah had to follow God and leave the security of her judgement seat in order to win victory on the battlefield. The same is true for you and me today, dear sister in Christ. 

So, Dear One, put on your armor, take a deep breath, and pray for courage. Then take that first step out of your comfort zone and resolve to follow God's call on your life. To be sure, it won't be easy. It's okay to admit you are afraid. But, the world is waiting. The time is now. Go on, Daughter of the King. Put your faith in action. It's time to be brave.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Perspective is everything...

“Perspective is everything.”

The more I think about it…and the more I see my friends/family experience things…the more I realize the accuracy of this statement.  We live in a world that is full of icky, ugly, hard, messy times.  Good people go through the worst situations I can think of.  Believers at that!  My own family has seen some difficult times lately.  At the end of the day, I lie in bed at night and think about how I will choose to look at the day.  Was it good?  Or was it bad?  And the choice, regardless of the day’s circumstances, is really up to me.  Do I choose to see the good in the day?  Or do I choose to throw a pity party?
Let me go ahead and make sure you are reading me clearly…sometimes things happen and they are awful…and you have to be sad.  You may need to mourn a loss or persevere through a VERY difficult marriage.  You may have to learn a lesson the hard way or learn what real physical pain is.  It is my humble (worth a sack of rocks) opinion that this is FULLY acceptable.  It is OK to be upset.  Ok to be weak.  Ok to even feel sorry for yourself.  Ok to be angry with God…He can handle it.  Just to make myself clear…
But still…you really can CHOOSE how you are going to endure something.  For example…this month I have seen the following:

1.     A family was imprisoned in a foreign country while in the process of adopting.  Biological children were taken from them and thrown into a foreign orphanage.  Adopted children were taken from them and put back into an orphanage.  All unjustly.  While they were enduring such tragedy…they told the public that they knew that the Lord had a plan.  They were an incredible testimony to the Lord and His strength.  They chose to see the opportunity they had to share their faith with people.  I’m sure there were moments of “HOLY COW!!!” and “THIS STINKS”, but there was light there too.  And they chose to look at how they could be used instead of spending their time freaking out.
2.     A mother remembers her baby girl on the day she lost her two years prior…what I would think to be the absolute WORST thing that could happen.  What does she do?  She celebrated the short few months she had with her.  She praised God for heaven and the promise that she will see her baby girl again one day – even for all of eternity!  And she hugged her little, sweet new blessing from God (another baby girl) a little tighter. 
3.     A mother who almost lost her child a year ago cried tears of thanks and appreciation for her daughter’s healing…while watching another family release balloons in memory of their daughter who wasn’t healed.  The sadness she felt for the family as she watched was something she couldn’t even explain. She was so glad on the inside to have her daughter with her still…and didn’t even think about what a daunting task it is to clean her feeding tube, change her colostomy bags, and worry about her lines.  She didn’t let her head go to that place of extreme worry.  She was just thankful. 
4.     A man works…and works…and works to support his family.  He makes enough to pay the bills.  Not a penny more.  But he thanks God that he can pay those bills.  He thanks God for the bills he has to work crazy hours to pay because they mean he has a home, a family to support, food to eat, and a job.
5.     A family takes their 3 year old to chemo again and again and again.  They smile and thank God that they do.  It means it is working.  And she will soon see remission.  Instead of telling everyone their daughter has a disease that could kill her…they tell everyone that she is BEATING leukemia.  And they thank God for it.
6.     A man is very concerned about his wife’s drinking habit.  She drinks too much.  It is so ugly…not what he thought he would be doing at this age.  But he reminds himself that he committed his life to her.  And he trusts in a God that is bigger than addiction.  He waits (as patiently as he can) for the day she overcomes it.
7.     A family is lead to adoption.  They start the process with excitement!  They are ready to add to their family in the way the Lord has told them!  2 years later…they ache for this same child.  Due to a broken system…they still don’t know what the face of this child looks like.  But, they wait.  And they know that God has a plan.  That God will bring THEIR child when He is ready.  And they support other families until their day comes.  They watch (with joy) as other families come off the plane with their newly adopted children and celebrate with them. 

These are just a few examples.  I am sure you have lots of them too.  I’m sure you have had those moments where you have wondered…how am I going to take this?  And, unfortunately, we all know that hard times will come.  When they do…remember that you can pick from a broad scope of ways to react.  And if you are struggling with picking a way…ask for help.  I know, without doubt, that God will always place someone in your path to lend a hand. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

From The Inside Out

I had a routine physical on Monday.  We are in the process of adopting, and we are required to keep our paperwork up to date as the years go by while we wait.  One of the things we have to do is a yearly physical.  I've felt fine, and the doctor told me that everything looked great and I seemed healthy as can be.  That's how I like it--easy appointment and no problems.

I had blood work and a TB test done as well, and I went back in today to have the TB test spot checked.  All was again great as you couldn't even see where they'd done the prick.  The nurse then said, "All of your blood work came back normal...except for one."  What?  Except for one?!  I wasn't expecting this....She went on to say that my thyroid number was really low, which means I have a hyperactive thyroid.  Oh joy.  The doctor requested more blood work and an ultrasound of my thyroid.  I had the blood work done and then had the ultrasound done tonight, and I'll get the results back in the next couple days.

After finding out that I have a thyroid issue going on, I inquired about the symptoms, wondering if perhaps I'd been having some without even realizing it.  Sure enough, as I looked through the symptoms, I've experienced some of them recently.  However, each one in and of itself didn't seem abnormal and certainly hadn't been causing me concern.  Yes, I've been tired and wanting a caffeine drip even after a full night's sleep; yes, I've had more nervousness then normal, but I didn't know they were part of a bigger problem.

And as I thought about that today, I thought about how normal this is in the spiritual realm as well.  We have little problems, little sins, that are part of our lives, but we so often don't even notice them--or don't think they're problem enough to cause concern.  We live in this fallen world where "pretty good" seems to be enough.  Just like I feel pretty good, I can look at my spiritual life and assess it as pretty good....but that isn't where God wants us to be, or where we should desire to be!  Our "little sins" add up to a bigger problem.  As my thyroid problem could leave me with bone loss and osteoporosis if left alone, our disobedience and rebellion towards God can cause separation that leaves us wondering how we ever ended up so far away.  

Our bodies function best when everything is working properly, and we function best when we allow Christ to so fill us that we are living the life He desires--one where the "little sins" are no longer considered acceptable and barely noticeable to us but instead are things we desire to change and give to Him so that we might transform from the inside out.

I don't want to ignore the symptoms.  God is calling me, us, to obedience.  When I'm quick to anger and quick to speak, I am showing my "symptoms," symptoms of the Fall.  But what I want to show is Christ in me, so I cling to His Truth and ask for Him to fill me.  I don't want the World to see "pretty good"--I want them to see Jesus when they see me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Each summer, my in laws conduct what they call Cool Cousins Camp.  It was originally intended to be a week each summer that the grandkids came and spent a week without the parents.  Since a couple of us live far away, it has turned out that it is a week with the family.  My in laws are very intentional about bringing the family together and doing things as a group that draws people together.
With so many families living far away from each other, I have come to appreciate this time together.  The cousins that would not otherwise get to spend any time with each other, spend concentrated time together and get to know each other's personalities.  The siblings and in laws also get some time to be together.  It bonds us as an extended family in ways that could not be done over a long distance.
As parents, it is our responsibility to also be intentional with our immediate family - as parents and kids.  We must do things as a family and with our kids so that we get to know each other and our personalities.  Many studies have shown that those families that are close - they eat family dinners together, they do activities together, they go places together - have children that don't disconnect in their later teenage years.
So far, we have been fortunate to be able to keep our family dinners most nights a week.  We are able to do family activities together.  I know this will be more and more difficult as our kids get older, but I am determined to be intentional in building family relationships as they grow.
What can you do today to begin to be intentional with your family?  If you are already doing some things, what else can you do to keep or bring your family close together?  If your kids are very young, let me encourage you, that although doing family activities might not be easy or necessarily fun, keep working at it - I promise it gets easier.  If you have older kids and have not done this before, your kids may not appreciate it, but put forth the effort and insist that your kids join in.  They will begin to look forward to whatever you decide to do.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Dependence Day

Yes, I know. Happy Independence Day! I love July 4th! The parades, the community, the cookouts, the fireworks. Patriotism and flag-flying at its finest. We celebrated this year with DH's family in Oklahoma, good old-fashioned, down-on-the-farm celebration. Perfect memory making for the kids.

And yet, as I considered what I wanted to write for the blog, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my dependence on God.

See, I am not by nature a dependent kind of person. I am a stereotypical first-born child. I can do it myself. I do not need help. Calm in the face of challenge. Just give me a minute. I've got this. Self-reliance is a good thing; right? IN.DE.PEN.DENT.

And even though I became a Christian at a young age, I did not understand depending on God until well into adulthood. I am so thankful that God took the time to bring me to my knees so that I understood, "In my weakness, HE IS STRONG."

When DH and I had been married about 3 years, we decided we were ready to have children. A year later, when we still were not pregnant, a doctor decided to run some tests. And just before Christmas, we found out we would not be getting pregnant without medical intervention. We spent the next year going through more tests, more challenges, more procedures. And as Christmas season rolled around again, there was still no baby, no promise of a baby.

There was other stuff. My grandfather having major heart surgery. My sister facing serious personal challenges. My best friend's daughter being born with a serious illness and barely surviving her first few months. And tons and tons of Christmas brag letters from well-wishing, young married friends, who were all, all having babies.

I had had it with the brag letters. I sat down at my computer to write the anti-brag letter. I was going to tell all our friends and family exactly how awful my life had been over the last year. Seriously awful. As I wrote and cried, throwing what was truly a grown-up version of a temper tantrum, I typed these words, "Some say God has you go through things like this to make you stronger. I am not stronger. If anything, I am weaker." At that moment, God laid a hand on my shoulder and said, "Yes!" I collapsed in tears. Sobbing before God. Confessing my complete and utter weakness. For the first time in many months, I allowed him to wrap me in His arms and comfort my soul. I found my dependence on God.

I found my self at my Savior's feet, broken and empty, completely lacking any ability to do it myself. Shattered before Him was the best place I could find myself. He did not intend to leave me broken. He intended for His Strength to SHINE through my weakness. Out of the ashes, God was creating something beautiful.

Now, I would love to tell you that with this great revelation and spiritual awakening accomplished, we were blessed with a child in the next year and lived happily ever after. But, no. It was another four years before our first born came along. There were many more lessons to be learned, more dependence to be gained. "The Joy of the Lord is my Strength" became my daily mantra because I knew that I did not have the strength on my own.

And bless, how God blessed us! Three precious children here on earth, two I will meet in Heaven some day. My family picture looks nothing like I would have imagined it. But then, God does give exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ever imagine.

Romans 8:26-28

The Message (MSG)
 26-28Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our waiting, desperate condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.