You're probably wondering about the daughter Isabella loves to clean-she comes by it honestly. I am a shameless clean freak. One morning I was working away in the kitchen while she had the mop I'd left out overnight to dry. And I look over to check on her and my then-7-month-old son, and say the five words I never thought I'd say as a parent, "Isabella, don't mop your brother!" He didn't mind, and she just wanted to make sure he was sparkly. So welcome to my world!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Coke cans and oceans

I know. I know. It's been seven months since I've posted. That sounds like a Catholic confession: "It's been seven months since my last post." And it's not like God hasn't been showing me things, it's just that I write them down on tiny scraps of paper that never get beyond my office (which is my closet, by the way) and then it's out of my head and lost forever. At least the beautiful, poetic parts. The lessons are still there.

So where do the Coke can and oceans come in? Well, let me tell you...

I've just started reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Seriously behind the curve. It came out 3 years ago. I bought it almost one year ago. Anywho, finally started it. The whole first chapter is about the awesomeness of God and how we can't even begin to comprehend Him. Well, here, read this quote:

"If my mind is the size of a soda can and God is the size of all the oceans, it would be stupid for me to say He is only the small amount of water I can scoop into my little can. God is so much bigger, so far beyond our time-encased, air/food/sleep-dependent lives."
And then on Sunday, our pastor, who is preaching from Habakkuk (what? lots of flipping to find that book!), said this quote:

"We say to God, 'God, get in my box so I can understand You.' God is in the business of blowing your box to pieces."
I cannot even begin to comprehend what God is doing in my life because I can't really comprehend God. And let me tell you, there have been some rough patches and dark days. When Habakkuk questioned God's plan to send the Babylonians in, God answered Him. "God is consistent in His faithfulness and perfect in His timing." Let your coke can-sized brain think on that for a while...

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Cross

So, I'm reading Ephesians now for my quiet time, going a phrase at a time as explained in Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl (highly recommended!). I'm in chapter 1 and this was today's section:
In love he predestined us[b] for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
 And I had to sit back and think about the redemption. And the blood. And the cross. And the notes in my brand-spankin'-new ESV Study Bible and it said this:
"Unite. This is the central theme of the passage: God has effected cosmic reconciliation in Christ. The work of Christ on the cross is the central axis for the history of creation, whether in heaven or on earth...since he has redeemed his people and silenced all hostile powers."
The cross. The central axis for the history of creation. I know the birth of Jesus divides all of history into BC and AD (I'll have none of this BCE business, thank you). But His death. Oh, His death divides every person from the beginning of time into a believer or non-believer. The effects had both horizontal and vertical ramifications. The horizontal is where He stretched out His arms wide to collect us to Himself and cover us (me!) with His blood. The red line runs around the globe and has no end. The vertical is where we are put in a right relationship with the perfect, holy Father. Jesus was between heaven and earth and because of this, one day we will be with God in heaven. And when the Father looks down vertically from His throne? He can only see the red line. We are covered under the blood. Under the horizontal.

Just makes me want to sing hallelujah in all directions!


It's past mid-June. I usually post goals and updates, but you know what? It's just not working for me. In one of the blogs I follow, the woman makes weekly goals and then shares them. That's great. For her. It's important for me to realize that, yes, I'd love to read two books a month, but at this point, it's not going to happen. I can still make new recipes, read books when I can, but I'm not going to freak about it. Whew. That feels better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Goals

May?!?! How on earth are we already at May? Nonetheless, here's where I ended up for last month:

April Goals
Personal Goals:
1. Finish reading Love That Lasts and Too Busy Not to Pray
2. Make Sesame Chicken and Tea Cakes. 
3. Memorize Ephesians 5:15-17, Hebrews 4:12.
4. Write and post five blog entries (I'd love to do three a week, but it's not happening). (This one makes #4)

Marriage Goals:
5. Plan Choose Your Own Adventure Date. (Joshua chose Cheesecake Factory and the Bare Minerals store. I'm not complaining!)
6. Write my husband a love letter.
Mothering Goals:
7. Read Meet Kit with Isabella. 
8. Make resurrection cookies and coffee filter butterflies.
9. Print and prep Letter of the Week Curriculum for letters E and F AND G and H.
Financial Goals:
9. Not purchase anything on a credit or debit card. In looking over our budget on, it's just not pretty. (Bought school stuff for the kids.)
Relationship Goals:
10. Send one more care package to the college student I've adopted for the year. (Stuff is on my dining room table. I'm counting it.)

 May Goals

Personal Goals:
1. Finish reading Decision Points.
2. Make Stuffed Zucchini and Nutella Cookies. 
3. Memorize Phil. 1:21, Eph. 6:4, Phil. 4:8, Micah 6:8.
4. "Master" making pie crust. 

Marriage Goals:
5. Plan Choose Your Own Adventure Date. (Joshua didn't like this month's date of having to touch the whole night. Party pooper.)

Mothering Goals:
6. Read another chapter book with Isabella. 
7. Make tin can lanterns.
8. Go on a "date" with each of my children.
Financial Goals:
9. Save up for a carpet cleaner. My first inclination is to buy now, clean carpets, then pay it off with Joshua's OT. This time we're going to keep the money separate until we have enough to buy it.

Relationship Goals:
10. Get together with one small group girl.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Helping vs. Causing

Many years ago I listened as our pastor's wife prayed during Bible study. I was struck by this one thing: instead of saying things like "Help me to be a good mom to my children" she said "Cause me to be a good mom to my children." I have hidden that gem in my heart for quite a while and it has guided my prayers immensely in the span between then and now. (and I'm picking and choosing my definitions here) defines "help" as
1. to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist: 
2. to make easier or less difficult; contribute to; facilitate: 
4. to be useful or profitable to:

The same website defines "cause" as 
1. a person or thing that acts, happens, or exists in such a way that some specific thing happens as a result; the producer of an effect: 
2. the reason or motive for some human action: be the cause of; bring about.

When I pray for God to help me (which He always does anyway, so it's a bit redundant in my mind), it's asking Him to assist, to make easier. Nothing wrong with that. I am in no way condemning praying for help!


When I pray for God to cause me to take a certain action, I'm asking for Him to be the producer of the effect, the reason or motive for it! It puts more "oomph" into the request because you are asking for action instead of support. I am much more aware of God's gentle (or not so gentle) prodding when I ask Him to cause me to do something. "Cause me to see Your blessings" means that He will point them out in an obvious manner. "Cause me to disciple the children well" means that He is the reason I do it, and He will bring about those circumstances in which I most need Him (a tricky prayer, I tell ya). In my mind (and maybe only in my mind!) "cause" puts the focus on Him and His power, whereas "help" puts the focus on me.

In any case, it's something to think about.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Was It a Morning Like This?

Easter was exceptionally great this year. It's not my favorite holiday, but it's still fun to see the kids all spiffed up. This year Bella was old enough to understand some things, so we did the Resurrection Eggs along with reading a bit in our Storybook Bible and then we did a few crafts. Of course the kids colored Easter eggs, but I tried to keep the focus on Christ.

It was so neat to see Bella's eyes grow big as she heard the kid-friendly version of Jesus' suffering. She didn't like that part at all. But I got to tell her how excited we were for Sunday morning-around the lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, that is.

One of the crafts we did was marble painting; you drop a marble in paint, then put it in a box with some paper and roll it around. When done with multiple colors, it normally has this Jackson Pollack effect, but we used just red paint on the day we read about Jesus being whipped. It was quite stunning. Joshua wasn't sure it was a good idea because it looked like a bloody cross, but, the cross was ugly. There was nothing pretty about the blood that was shed or how it was shed. True, they were pretty sobering, but it's hard to give a watered-down version for kids.

Our Good Friday service was wonderful because Bella got to stay in there with me. We took the Lord's Supper and Bella wanted to know why she couldn't too. So exciting to whisper in her little ear that one day, when she asks Jesus into her heart, she can remember what He did on the cross through the bread and cup.

Sunday morning was, of course, jubilant! More so than I remember in years past, but maybe that's just my poor mommy memory. I greeted the sunrise with a smile. Was it a morning like this? Ryan wanted to come in with us (he so loves hearing the band practice!) so he joined us for worship. How fun it was to sing of my risen Savior while holding my son in my arms. And I wondered, Did God sings songs of joy while He held His Son that morning? Was it a morning like this? A friend who goes to Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, IL (the "mother ship" as we joke at church) posted this video on her Facebook page and it's too good not to share. Talk about an exciting song! Enjoy.

P.S. For some unknown, but incredibly frustrating reason, I can't insert the video I'm talking about. However, if you access you can put in code 4132066 in the search box and it will pull right up. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Count Your Sins...Name Them One by One

I know. It's "count your blessings" but I dare say this one is just as important. Hear me out.

I have always struggled with prayer. I can study the Bible for hours if allowed to (which I'm not)-I love looking up the meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words, thrill in searching for commentaries, and delight in comparing different versions-what can I say? I'm a theology student at heart. But pray? Not so much. It's not that I don't believe in its power, or that I don't think it's important-I do-but it comes very haltingly for me.

Enter Bill Hybels' Too Busy Not to Pray. I've had this book for years and I think I started it, but was too busy to finish (oh, the irony). But recently, with my prayer life quite Mojave-like, I picked it up again. There are several good points that Hybels makes and I would recommend the book to anyone. However, there is one part that really struck me and that's his view on the benefits of confession and specifically naming our faults.
"Confession is probably the most neglected area in personal prayer today...We throw all our sins onto a pile without so much as looking at them, and we say, 'God, please cover the whole dirty heap.'" 
I really wish he wouldn't step on my toes so hard. Guilty. "Lord, forgive me of my sins," has been a prayer of mine countless times. Is it truly confessing? Nope. It's sitting in my ivory tower and "shooing" my bad deeds away with my nose in the air and a righteous look on my face. Our pastor said just recently, "As Christians we're good at recognizing we're sinners; we're not good at recognizing we're sinning." Man, he can bring it!

Hybels continues: " I don't think many of us Christians take confession seriously enough. If we did, our lives would be radically different. When you're totally honest about your sins, something happens. About the fifth day in a row that you have to call yourself a liar, a greedy person, a manipulator or whatever, you say to yourself, I'm tired of admitting that. With God's power, I've got to root it out of my life."


So while I firmly believe that it's good to count your blessings-of which there are many-it's also good to count your sins. Don't just do a blanket prayer that gets you out of facing its ugliness. Sit down and truly confess. Whereas my prayer used to be, "God, help me to be a better mother,"  just this morning it was, "God, yesterday I allowed my children to be disobedient to me. James 4:17 tells me that if I know to do right and don't do it, it's sin. I sinned in allowing my children to disobey, and I disobeyed myself, as your child! Forgive me of that and cause me (I prefer that to "help me") to be diligent in correcting my children for their own benefit."

And you know what? I felt better. I didn't confess for that reason, but it was a recognition of a wrong path, and I felt that I'd be better equipped the next time the situation arises (about 5.3 seconds later). I am more aware of that than if I'd just prayed the "better mom" prayer. Nothing wrong with asking for help-the Bible gives tons of verses about that-just better to ask for specific help. NOW I can count my blessings!