Friday, October 23, 2009

Rain, rain, go away...

It's been a crazy week with family affairs to care for, busy days at the hospital and the clinic, and too many appointments with too few hours. But the kids have enjoyed the end of a first trimester in school, volleyball season is over and Jordan played for his first Homecoming game. Parent/teacher conferences went great and nobody is sick...miracles are real!

But now I know why God has been working me so much at both my jobs. Today is my first real day off in weeks, and all I can think of is... I really miss my horses. I just want to bundle up and spend the whole day grooming and cleaning, scrubbing tack and hugging horse necks. I would love to take any of my sweet horses for a nice cruise. Just moseying along where ever we can. I could let Chester walk along in a dry wash bed with mesquite trees and cactus all around, stirring up dust and watching out for those nasty Emus...or wrestle with Stetson as he sprouts wings and thinks he can fly as he runs up the hill behind our house in Yacolt.
Too bad all I can do is sit in my suburban house and watch the Hannah Montana movie. There is nothing left to clean, the kids are hanging with friends... maybe I will take up the trombone.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What an amazing woman- what an amazing story.

Would I have the courage...the guts, to do such a thing? Oh God- I hope so. Thank you for the life of this little lady, who's legacy still lives on.

And thanks to my new Facebook friend for posting this!

(Be sure to pause the music on the right before starting the video.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I am so doing this next time I go to Target and see a whiner.

Be sure to pause the playlist of music on the right before you start the video.

What Every Girl Wants by Lisa Harper

One wonderful thing about being stuck at home with sick kids is the amount of STUFF a person can get done. Organized my closet, caught up on the laundry thanks to my Stev-o, updated resumes, cleaned the office, made delicious chicken noodle soup, worked on the budget, wrote some curriculum, caught up on good reading, cuddled my sweet girl, and watched tons of Little House on the Praire. If women didn't have to work outside the home- look what we could do! :)

So, picked up a couple books at Women of Faith. Cindy tried to stop me, she blocked the booth with her body and shouted scriptures about self control, frugality, and false idols- but I still succumbed and was too much for her. Both books were written by Lisa Harper, a woman I had not read or heard of before, but her concluding speech at the conference stirred my interest and I wanted to see what she was about. She has a very decorated and impressive resume, but that can be misleading.

This particular book, What Every Girl Wants is "a portrait of perfect love and intimacy in the Song of Solomon" and I thought that sounded interesting. My TAG girls jokingly say they want to do a study on this feisty piece of scripture all the time...and let's be honest, we all know they aren't joking! So I have been looking for material that might work for us, and Ms. Harper's book looked promising. The premise of it being how Song of Solomon can be a revelation of the "level of intimacy God desires with US."

The first chapter I could feel myself bristling as she used quotes from "fluffy" writers like John Eldredge and pop culture references. I had to ask God to give me "unity not uniformity" feelings as I tried to keep an open mind, and He was kind enough to provide me with more references she used that I liked better. Dr. John Murray and C.S.Lewis brought me comfort. :)I know, I am working on my ultra-dogmatic ideals, but I am who I am, right?

The second chapter is what won me over. This isn't a scholarly text or commentary on Song of Solomon, and once I decided to read it as it was intended- just something to remind us of how crazy in love God is for us- I loved it. Lisa Harper reminds us that God passionately pursues us, thinks we are beautiful, seeks us out and wants us not to grow stagnant in our walk with Him. All wonderful things. One of my favorite images she gave was in regards to how God views us. As women, we often are so dissatisfied with ourselves that when someone offers a compliment we say things like "You must need glasses." How often do we let our failures and insecurities cause us to do the same thing to God when He whispers how much He loves us in spite of our flaws?
Here is what Lisa said: "One of the greatest truths we can glean from this (Song of Solomon) ancient, colorful prose is that God is wearing glasses. Rose-colored glasses tinted with the blood of Christ. And through those glasses our Beholder finds us beautiful." (page 20)

She goes on to draw a parallel to Solomon's bride's cold shoulder in 5:2-3 to our apathy and indifference to the Spirit's movement in our lives in a chapter called "When Delight Turns to Drudgery". This is the chapter that held my favorite quote from her because it paints a clear 'Plan of Care' in nursing terms as to the best way to a healthy walk: "Apathy is a dangerous disease that hardens spiritual arteries and causes heart failure. The most effective prescription for it is a dose of repentance, swallowed with humility. And gratitude has been found to be very effective in preventing it". (page 79)

Through out the book she sprinkles related passages and concepts from the Scriptures, and questions or opportunities for the reader to jot down thoughts or feelings. Would I use this book for a small group study? Probably not. Would I pass it on to a girlfriend for a lonely Friday night reading? Most definitely. I think Lisa Harper accomplished her purpose for this book- to remind Christians that the Bible isn't something to snore through, and that God is totally in love with His children. I know it got me reading passages I hadn't read in a long time, and studying the Old Testament with a new vigor.

She sums it up best with her own concluding words: "Ultimately I pray these pages have revealed another facet of God's heart for you, one that reflects the shimmering beauty of His perfect love and the divine intimacy our all-too-human souls are longing for."

Borrow this one from me, or you can buy it from her website- or amazon. Now I am off to hang out with her again in the book, A Perfect Mess by Lisa Harper. Just the title for a girl like me. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." Song of Solomon 2:4

(All quotes taken from "What Every Girl Wants" by Lisa Harper, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2006)

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Grand New Day...

Today I have a poor, coughing little girl who needs me to stay home from work to take care of her. Oh, so sad. NOT!Woohoo! Jumping and dancing for joy...feeling guilty for being so happy when my girl is sick but I get to be with her all day! Yippee!

God was busy this weekend. Not only was yesterday a super fun day thanks to good friends who spent hours of their time taking school pictures for my kiddos, but Saturday I went to Women of Faith. Yeah, not my normal idea of a good time, but I am so glad I went! I went with my buddy, Cindy, and every time a speaker would get up and start to announce their topic- we would just look at each other and say "You have GOT to be kidding!" because it was so exactly what we both needed to hear. You know, everything is all about me, and the producers of Women of Faith must have read my journal and scripted this year's program just for me. :)

It was a great mountain top experience, and my prayer is that God would use this energy, this push I feel in my soul, all year long. I seriously wrote down 13 God Stops over the weekend, and maybe He gave those to me so I can "keep on, keepin' on" through whatever is coming. A little nerve wracking to think about, but also bearable- because God is more than big enough to handle it. :)

One of the best things about the weekend was a song that Nicole C. Mullen did called "One Touch". She had written this based on a story about a "Woman with an Issue". It's told in 3 of the gospels, but I especially like the way Mark tells it in chapter 5. His seems to be the most complete picture, and I think the one Nicole drew from. Now, we have already probably read this story a million times, but I am praying you read it again with new eyes, friend. Let it sink into your soul. :)

This woman had basically had a nonstop period for 12 years....ladies- TWELVE YEARS. Can you imagine? Anyways, she so desperately wanted to be healed, and been to doctor after doctor, spent every dime she had on treatments, and cure. In fact, the story says her bleeding had gotten WORSE.

In those days, when a woman was bleeding, she was declared unclean until her time was up, then she would go offer a sacrifice at the temple and be allowed to return to her family. Well, this woman was never able to do that because the flow didn't stop. Anytime she needed to enter an area with people, she had to call out "Unclean! Unclean!" So everyone could get out of her way, and thus not be "defiled"- or morally impure, blemished, stained. Ugh, I can't even imagine.

So this woman bore the shame and isolation of her disease for 12 years, and then she heard of a teacher named, Jesus. And the Bible says she went and found Him amongst a crowd, and thought to herself, "If I just touch His garments, I will get well." Can you picture her? Veil around her, creeping through the people she shouldn't be touching, breaking their societal law by not announcing her condition. Terror at what she was about to do, fear at what could happen if the crowd noticed her, desperation for it to work. The words actually say she was "trembling". Yet, she had such faith that if ONLY she could touch His jacket, He could heal her. Oh, my heart breaks when I think of it. Imagine being 12 years without a hug from your father, brother, husband, son. Without the soft touch of a baby's hand because you didn't want to "dirty" them. No kiss, no physical contact from the ones who mean the very most to you.

Get this: she snuck up behind Him (rockin' brave girl!) and "Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction." Yeah, yeah- seriously, read that again!!! Now, working with the types of patients that I do- I know what someone looks like when they are chronically low on blood. I know what they FEEL like when they don't have enough red blood cells to oxygenate their organs. This woman had been pallid, cold, weak and exhausted, and probably in pain, for TWELVE years, and in one moment- she felt strength in her arms and legs, her breathing grew easier and she probably had rosy cheeks for the first time in over a decade! God be praised! Can you picture it? Oh, hallelujah!

You haven't even reached the best part! This all happens, she gets the lighting bolt of awe when she FEELS the change within her, and then- Jesus turns around and says, Who touched me? Hehehehe In a pushing, jostling crowd- He says, Who touched my coat? You see, he felt the "power" that was a part of Him go out, and knew someone had been healed. Remember- this chick snuck up on a Jewish rabbi and touched Him while she was still unclean, He could have had her imprisoned or killed. Now the dude was staring her down. Great. She was face to face with Her God...the One who rescued her from a lifetime of misery...hell on earth, so to speak. You have to hear it the way God said it: "But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the WHOLE TRUTH." Mark 5:33 Yet another great thing about knowing Jesus, you can be real with Him.

Looking into His face, fearing rejection but overjoyed with thanksgiving for being free of disease...oh, what did she feel like? What did her eyes say? I can't even picture it...but I know what God said. "Daughter, your faith has made you well..." He offered her complete and total healing, not only of her "issue", but of her heart. He was the first friendly face in years. These are the times I wish the Bible was longer. I wish it was a picture book, with an awesome Kodak snapshot of what Jesus's face looked like. I KNOW He was smiling at her and offering her his hand- his touch.

I've got you well know if you know me. Mine might be easier to cover up, but they are there. What an amazing promise to know that when I am at my most humiliated and terrified, God won't turn me away...and He will offer me complete healing. Mmmmmm...what an awesome God we serve.

To have a faith like that- believing the impossible, with more courage than a mother bear protecting her cubs, putting one foot in front of the other in spite of the world's opinion- and letting God change your whole life. Make it so, Father God, make us all just a little more like her. To come to you with nothing but our faith as a garment.

Check it out for yourself- Mark 5:25-34. And be amazed at the awesome One who adores you. (I also put the song on my playlist, so hope you enjoyed it.) God bless you today.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I miss Mayberry...

Busy, busy fall days- you would think I was a chipmunk trying to get ready for winter. (I am Theodore- the fat one) I can't even begin to tell you what all has transpired in the last month and a half, but I can tell you that we are all still alive. Which I suppose is a good thing. :)

School is all consuming, I am getting to teach more now than I did when we were homeschooling! Different ways, but still the same stuff. It is a good thing, because I get to be with my kids, but it is a bad thing too. Instead of having a whole day to do it in, I have to squeeze it into an already "bursting at the seams" evening. We have to cover the traditional curriculum, but also talk about right choices, boyfriends, girlfriends, alcohol, language, honesty...and the list goes on. Add to that the drama our negligent landlord has caused, normal marriage stuff, my crazy work schedule and Steve's new business- and you get a little part of the picture. I suppose this is what normal families have always felt, but for those of you homeschoolers- you can appreciate why I hate it. Life was a lot better ...I mean, life was simpler...then.

I suppose I am just being nostalgic again. God pointed that out to me very clearly today- through a Rascal Flatts song. (It's on my playlist now, just for your entertainment.) Go figure, I don't even particularly like that band, but it was on the radio and it struck me. I just miss Mayberry...I miss when the days were simpler, "sittin' on the porch drinking ice cold cherry Coke, where everything is black and white... watchin' the clouds roll by". I miss when my kids and I would take our school books out on the porch in AZ and learn algebra with the horses as our backdrop. I miss going to the zoo on a Tuesday afternoon while all the "normal kids" were sleeping through English. And I miss the other homeschool moms who wouldn't look at me like I was on another planet if I said I loved teaching my kids more than anything else on earth. OUR world really does "seem like it is spinning faster and faster", and I am not keeping up. I know that is just a feeling, so I am praying that God would help me find my balance again...but today...I just miss Mayberry.

Now I need to quit my whining and put on my thinking cap, pick up my shield of faith- and say "Bring it". Because no matter how much I might wish for a different stage of life, this is the stage we are in now, and it is filled with glorious moments too. I have been so blessed to watch my kids growing and learning through this experience. God gave me a dear sister this morning to encourage my heart through her honesty and trust in me- she reminded me that I never have to feel alone, and isn't all about me. (Shocking...I know) I have a fantabulous husband who humors me with ballroom dancing classes when I feel unloved and slaps me around, figuratively of course, when I need it. He knows me better than anyone and won't let me get away with my pity parties. The God Stops are endless, if I remember to stop and look for them.

I may be homeless, totally screwing up my kids, and feel like I dropped the ball in a million ways- but truth be told...GOD will NEVER fail me. He will never drop the ball, and everything I go through will bring me back to where He wants me...right in the center of His embrace.

"I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you." Joshua 1:5

Monday, October 5, 2009

Too fast...

Yesterday reminded me of how quickly life is flying by and how GLAD I am that I get to be a part of it. Life is hard, and sad, and beautiful, and fun, and worth it- all at the same time.
Our little niece, Chloe turns 5 today, and it feels like yesterday and she was just a little newborn. Last month, Jasmine turned thirteen- officially a teenager, and yet I feel like I can remember just a month ago holding her hand as we walking into Family of Christ Preschool with tears in both our eyes. I have had my Jordan for 14 years, and they went SOOO fast- now I realized I have only another 4, and as a friend of mine pointed out- how fast do you think those 4 years are going to fly by?

Thinking about all that we have done, experienced and felt as parents is overwhelming, and we have just had a little TASTE. I am so proud of my kiddos for the way they handle life and disappointments, and I feel exhilarated when I see them overjoyed about the blessings God has given.

This last week, we got bad news- and at first, their frustration and anger was tangible. But so quickly they perked back up, and just went on with their business. We found out that our landlord hasn't paid the mortgage since we have been here- 6 months of rent- and now is being foreclosed on. I watched our whole family struggle with the reality of this mess, and then start trusting God to work a miracle, and knowing no matter what we would be together. That made everything else o.k. It was so cool to hear them say that, to sit next to their beds praying together and feeling the peace that transcends all understanding. They handle stress so much better than I do, I hope I can grow up to be just like them. :)

This year has been yet another crazy one, but really- would I want it any other way? To be blessed enough to have two teenagers who make me laugh every day, accept hugs and kisses every night, and still want to sit on the couch and chat with me- no matter where I live, how much I miss my horses and dogs, or how many hours I have to work- it is all so worth it to be able to call these family.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Don't be a camel.

"As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:1-2

I can feel my parched throat every time I read this passage, how dorky is that? I know this is suppose to be kind of a metaphor- we are the deer, while God is the water we desperately desire- but it still makes me thirsty.

I had read somewhere awhile back that American Christians are more like camels than deer. Hehehehe Wait, let me explain. Camels are designed to be able to go for MONTHS at a time without drinking, because they are able to store the liquid they need and consume less metabolically. Deer, on the other hand, must drink multiple times DAILY to sustain life. They have no reservoir to satisfy them. Now think about us. Do we on a daily basis, run to the stream of "living water" and satisfy our thirst..for all that He is, and that He desires us to be? Or do we get a fill once a week, or even more likely- once a month, and try to live on that- packing His words into our "camel hump" and pretending that we can live as well and as closely with God that way?

I just keep thinking about how much God designed us to WANT Him daily, He didn't build us with a reservoir. How funny would that passage read if it said "As the camel pants for water every month or so, so my soul pants for you"? Doesn't quite have the same poetic ring to it. With all the crazy things that have happened this last week, I find myself trying to be a camel. Too tired, anxious, busy, whatever- to make the time to meet with my God as much as I usually do, and I can feel the danger of that. I can see the crisis of self-sufficiency that wants to make me believe if I just plan better, work harder, and negotiate more it will be fine, rather than putting all my trust in the one who MADE the plan, WORKS for my good, and doesn't need to negotiate because He MADE the rules. I don't want to try and do it on my own, because...well, I am thirsty. :) I want to drink in all that God has for me and enjoy knowing Him like nobody else. I know that when I believe Him to be great, and I run to the "stream" of living water I feel truly satisfied.

So, drink deeply today and leave that stinky camel behind! Know that God is waiting for you to come meet with Him so He can satisfy your needs. Run fast- it really is so much better.
(I just had the most ridiculous urge to bound around, leaping and prancing like Bambi. Ummmm...yeah. I need some caffeine. Bahahahahaha!)

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." Psalm 42:11