Monday, December 8, 2014

O Come...

I wrote this about 8 years ago.  God keeps bringing it up and bringing it to mind, so I got it out again.  As I read it this morning, I teared up again.  Although some circumstances have changed since then, the sentiment still rings so true for me.  I just wanted to share it with you.

Christmas!  This year I want it to be different.  I want to honor Jesus this Christmas rather than worry about what isn't done, rather than grit my teeth through Christmas Eve services because I'm angry at something the boys did or didn't do, rather than dwell on the fact that we tend to act selfish and spoiled and greedy.  I want Jesus to take center stage in my holiday.  I think I can even let go of the expectations that the rest of my family needs to feel the same way or it doesn't count.  I'm ready to chuck the tree and the decorations--the whole thing--to focus on the birth of this most precious baby, but life gets in the way. 

Busy is an understatement at this time of year.  There are so many good things to do; charities, church, school.  Everyone deserves my time and attention.  But right now there is injury on top of business so I have to make choices.  What can be done today? What has to be left undone?  There's nothing that can go at this point.  What would people think?  What would they say if I just didn't participate?  Why do I care so much? 

It's Wednesday morning again--four weeks from Christmas.  I haven't cleaned up from yesterday yet, but it's time for Bible study.  Sunday and Monday were particularly hard days physically.  Should I stay home today and catch up?  Skip the worship part and just make it for the study?  All of these thoughts race through my head as I decide what to do.

So this Wednesday morning, with the boys on the bus and the kitchen moderately cleaned up, God whispers "Go."  If I stay home I won't sit like I'm supposed to anyway.  So I go.  I'm even early for worship.  With thoughts of what I have to do later and how to get rid of the pain, I sing. 

What's this?  A Christmas carol?  I'm not ready.  "O Come Let us Adore Him."  That's what I wanted to do, but I can't with all of my thoughts and to do lists spinning through my mind.  Where do I put them, the pain, the uncertainty,the expectations, the house, the Christmas tree?  Where can I leave them to worship?  As I visualize the wise men bearing their gifts, I grieve that I don't offer gold or spices or anything of value.  All I have is the clutter in my head. He gently prods me that all this stuff is really what I need to lay at the feet of my Savior. He wants me to come and adore Him  Then He'll give me a new heart.  Then I can worship the King.

O Come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant;
Come ye oh come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him, born the King of angels
O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him,
O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


We've said another goodbye.  Ben has been gone for 4 weeks.  The anticipation of the event was actually more emotional for me than the event itself.  I'm not ready to be the mother of two college aged children, but I don't get a choice in the matter.  Sigh. 

  Don't misunderstand me.  I'm very happy for him.  He is having a great time at college playing video games, bonding with his roommates, going to class.  He is experiencing the exhilaration of freedom for the first time.  Hopefully there's some responsibility in there too.  I would never want to smother him or deny him this experience.  There's no place I'd rather he be.  It's just that this mommy heart is feeling a little empty--a little lonely.  

It's funny.  Ben was not the easiest baby I had.  He cried more than his brothers and demanded--well, we still haven't figured out what he really wanted all those nights.  There were times when I would have packed his bags for him and delivered him happily to a dorm.  


  Maturity happened.  He grew into who he was made to be.  He is a pleasure to be around now.  He's witty, clever, caring.  When I struggled with my back this summer, he would put his hand on my shoulder and ask how I was or give me a hug in the hall as we passed.  He chauffeured me around for groceries and college items.  Oh how I miss him some days!  And I miss his friends. 

 Several couples a little further along in this process have assured me that the relationship that develops with your adult children can be a joy.  I don't know that that really makes up for the loss of the day to day--but I'm willing to hope.   Right now I'm looking forward to fall break when he and Fred will be home again.  Phone calls, texts, Skype, and Facebook make staying connected easier, but I don't want to hover.  And it's not the same. 

I really don't like this time of life.  Letting go is not natural nor does it come easily or without pain.  Ugh!  A friend who sent her last two off to college far away said it is like going in to work one day and having the boss say, "You've done a great job. You were successful in your career.  You're fired."  That's what it feels like, and I still have two at home.  Life looks different from this vantage point.  I find myself looking around and reminding my heart, "Everyone does this.  You'll survive."  And we will.  

There are bright spots.  The grocery bill, the amount of dishes, and the laundry have all shrunk considerably.  Ben is moving on toward adulthood.  Mom doesn't know every assignment and every grade (for which we are both THANKFUL!)  God is good and when I'm sad, He understands.  He has been there.  He's said goodbye to His Son too.  And He is there with Ben.  He holds his right hand so I don't have to. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I come from a Protestant tradition.  I know some participate in Lent, but mine really didn't.  Along the way I've attended 5 other denominations, and none of them celebrated Lent either.  I usually felt like I was missing something.  I remember attending Ash Wednesday services with a friend in Maryland and thinking it was a powerful remembrance, and I'd randomly give things up for Lent trying to follow a tradition of which I really had no understanding. In reality, they were things that I hadn't mustered up the self-discipline to deal with and thought this would give me the motivation.  I have books that talk about the teachable moments of Lent, and how to incorporate your young children in the holiday, which I believe is a good idea.  I wore the Mommy guilt mantle because I never followed through.  It was just not happening consistently, and with my perfectionist personality, that spelled failure--unacceptable.  So it just became better not to try. 

I think I've matured some, or maybe have just gotten to know me a little better so that I can offer myself some grace and my kids some slack.  This year I actually thought about Lent BEFORE Ash Wednesday and did a tiny bit of research. (Woot!)  I wanted to be prepared.  We talked about what it was intended to be--a time to reflect on Christ's sacrifice for us and a time to repent and draw near to God, to prepare our hearts for Resurrection.  In the end, Jesus already paid the sacrifice, so my giving up chocolate will not make me better in God's eyes.  But there is a place in my life for sacrifice, and this year God made it super clear what that needed to be.  It wasn't random. It was very intentional and clear and it definitely fits the category of sacrifice for me.  I think of reasons each day to momentarily recant and why I NEED it.  I don't.  In the end, I want it.  But what I really want is to want God more than I want the thing, so it's an opportunity to pray and to seek Him for help each day.  Perhaps that's the purpose after all, to recognize how much we really need a Savior.  So happy Lent, and may these 40 days be fruitful for the Kingdom in our hearts. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving time

Thanksgiving and no daily blog?  I'm missing it.  I'm attempting to count my blessings though.  Thankfulness doesn't really come naturally, does it?  I adopted the idea of writing down 5 things for which I'm thankful each day before I go to bed.  I've done it for 3 years now, and it's fun to go back and look at what was going on in the past.  It has become a record of my life in a way.  I don't know that it's made me more thankful though.  How does one measure that? 

I read Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts this year, and though I was prepared to not like it, instead I was overwhelmed.  I still don't know why it touched me so much, but maybe it's because in many ways she was living my life.  I would start crying and then try to figure out why--strange.  Anyway, the book is about how learning thankfulness brought grace and peace to her life. 

This year, instead of hanging the huge yellow paper from the door, I decided to take a cue from Voskamp and look for specific things for which we are thankful each day.  It's been difficult, interesting, and enlightening. 
Uncharacteristically, I managed to jot down about 30 things on slips of paper BEFORE November arrived (Go Me!) and put them in the pumpkin basket.  Each morning--well, most mornings-someone chooses a slip from the pumpkin, and whatever it says is what we look for that day.  Vision does not usually match reality, so many days people share something they were thankful for that happened last year, or 3 months ago, but that's ok.  I guess thinking about being thankful is an important exercise regardless of the day. 

Today's item is something short.  That could be fun, or dangerous.  Lectures come to mind, dentist appointments, blogs... We'll see.  I hope that in the dailiness of life this will teach us to look for those gifts that we're given everyday.  It's just so easy to take them for granted--so find something short to be thankful for today. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


We live in a very busy corner of a busy world.  Busy is the watchword of our day.  We wear it like a badge of honor sometimes.  I hate to admit that I have played the "see how busy I am" game too many times with others. It feels productive and important and vital. 

Because there are 4 boys involved with at least one activity each, we have been genuinely busy for most of the recent past.  This was a typical spring schedule on our calendar.

We have struggled to get four boys to four games in the same day more times than I would like to recount.  But what has all of this gotten me?  Well--sick for one--stressed out beyond my capacity to cope.  I've gotten better over the years, and I would not trade those days.  We enjoyed watching our children play sports, and I certainly would not begrudge them those experiences. 

Things have slowed now that the main culprit lives 3 hours away and the middle two have retired their cleats for the most part.  But I find myself looking for ways to be busy, to fill my days, to be doing important things.  I feel guilty when I'm not doing.  When did our culture change from valuing "being" as well as "doing"?  I'm not sure, but I think we've lost much in that evolution. 

I have been studying the book of Genesis with a couple of my favorite college girls. God told Abram that He would make him into a great nation.  Twenty-five years later he's not only 99 years old, but he's still childless.  God and a couple of angels appeared to him while he was sitting under a tree, and Abram insisted that they stay for a meal.  To prepare for this meal, he had Sarai grind grain while he chose a choice calf for the meal.  There were no microwaves.  This took time.  God is not in a hurry, so how much of God am I missing by being so busy and always in a hurry?  No wonder we don't hear from God.  When do we have time to listen?  When can God interrupt my day for a dinner that I would have to thaw out and start from scratch?  I don't know, but if I continue to fill my calendar with my things then will God stop trying to focus my attention on His things? 

Some of our best times have been when we sat in our back yard with friends and family and just enjoyed the moment.  I cherish that time of just "being."  It restores my soul.  God is trying to remind me of that each day as I struggle with the search for significance.  Isaiah 40 says, "those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength."  Maybe the lesson really isn't don't be busy but rather be available to the God who will strengthen you to act. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What to do? Part 2

On the other hand....

When I was a brand new Christian someone challenged me to read through the Bible in a year.  I took that challenge and am so thankful I did.  I loved it (and still do)!  It made sense.  It spoke to the deep places in my heart and soul.  I relished the history of the Old Testament and was fed on the words of the New Testament.  It brought joy to see how God's plan really fit together and how clearly it is spelled out in the Scriptures.

We have been so blessed to be in churches that teach right from God's Word each week both in Sunday School and services.  We also joined a group of friends to study the Bible and do life together.  It was transformational.

I continued to read and learn more about God's Word and started to teach it some too.  What a blessing!  What fulfillment that gave me!  I recall sitting in a Precepts Bible Study class on Covenant and thinking, "I wish I could do this for a living!"  One of my great passions is to teach God's Word and to see people's eyes opened to the Truth.  It satisfies me in a way that nothing else does.

Two weeks ago we had a church meeting to discuss where we are headed.  Each person had an opportunity to share something that God is doing.  My eyes teared up and my pulse quickened.  I thought, "This is it.  This is how I want to spend my life."  I just don't yet know what that looks like.

Thus my dilemma--work to make money to pay for college or pursue my passion.  I guess in reality we all face this choice many times over.  I met with a couple of friends this week and was challenged to write down what the perfect job looks like.  I'm struggling with putting it into words, because I guess I don't know.  I was really becoming unhinged over these things and had lunch with Chris to discuss them.  He encouraged me to follow my desires.  I was ready to move.  That night I couldn't sleep.  I opened God's Word and, as only He can, He quickly directed me to Proverbs 19:1, "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.  Don't be hasty and miss the way."  What a precious answer--even though it's still "wait."  He has a plan for me.  He hasn't forgotten me.  He know that I want to know the way.  I praise God for this.  I could again just let go of my thoughts and my obsessing and settle in to wait on Him some more.  How thankful I am that I listened BEFORE falling on my face and having to pick up the pieces.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What to do?

As a child I thought I knew what I wanted to do.  My mom and grandma were both teachers, and I really liked writing on the chalkboard, so if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "a teacher."  I have had some excellent teachers in my life, and I especially loved my English and band teachers.  Although band was my life, I settled on English.  I liked it, I was pretty good at it, and I loved to read.

When I graduated from high school I knew what I wanted to do.  I was headed to college to pursue a degree in English and Secondary Education and marry my sweetheart.  That was the plan. 

College was fun and useful.  I learned a lot and enjoyed my experiences in the classroom.  I was also married and, at the end, expecting.  Upon college graduation I knew exactly what I wanted to do--be a momma to my sweet little baby boy.
 There was no doubt in my mind.  That's what I was made for, and that was God's plan for me.  Then I become the momma of some more sweet little boys.

  Although I'd rank the whole mommy experience as, by far, the most difficult and demanding thing I'd ever done, I knew that it was exactly what I was supposed to do.  Thankfully Chris supported that decision and had a job that would enable me to be home.  There were times when I railed against staying home and desired the glamor of a "real" job.  I would volunteer for more than I could handle or accept a position that I thought would fulfill that desire, but God patiently waited for me to fall on my face and then would direct me back home where I needed to be. 
Now, however, my sweet little boys aren't so little anymore.

  They are growing and leaving.  They don't need me like they used to.  I find myself thinking, "what's next" a lot lately--probably to the point of obsessing.  I enjoyed subbing long term this year.  I felt that I could handle that and home, but I didn't have to do the planning or the grading.  My very conscientious friend had done all the hard work for me.  I just had to show up and enjoy the classes.  Am I afraid of the work load of a high school English teacher?  YES! Grading 120 research papers is no picnic. But I love the students and cherished building relationships with them.  I also enjoyed using parts of my brain that I haven't visited for a while.  I know myself though and would quickly become consumed with it to the detriment of my family and relationships. I certainly need to learn how to leave work at work.  I spent most of my free time thinking about the last classes, and I was only the sub!  So is that the plan?  Should I pursue this?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But maybe not. 

Next time I'll obsess a little more :)