Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas and a date!

One Christmas down.......one more to go! Last weekend we traveled to my parents' home in Luverne MN to celebrate Christmas with "the fam"! We, meaning Vince & I and our kids, and my mom. We stayed in a hotel Friday and Saturday nights (3 separate rooms, thank you!) It was awesome! My sister Donna was home from Las Vegas, where she has been living for almost 3 years, along with two of her three kids, Justin & Stephanie, who have migrated there so far - I hear Brandon will be following shortly =) It was so awesome seeing them, and hard to say goodbye at the end of the weekend. Lots of tears. Once you open the floodgates with me, it just keeps going...But in between the greetings and the goodbyes we had a great time! My brother Alan and his fam live in Sioux Falls SD, and even tho it's much closer than Vegas we don't see eachother all that often, so it was great to see him and Robin, and my nieces Alli & Sarah!
Vince's kids hadn't met anyone from my family yet, except for my parents, so it was an exciting and anticipated time for everyone. Hope, being the shy little girl that she is (NOT!) didn't waste any time. She made her grand entrance while the rest of us were still emerging from the van. I'm told that she walked right in my dad's house, walked up to my sister Donna and said "Are you aunt Donna?" When she answered yes with a smile, Hope opened her arms wide and declared "I'm Hope!" and gave her a huge hug! Ok, awkward introductions over! From that point on, she kept everyone entertained and engaged. My niece Stephanie let her take over her digital camera all afternoon, so there is a variety of interesting pictures on there (hundreds in fact). Mostly close ups of people's faces (and I do mean CLOSE ups!). And she also took a video of her feet walking through the house =)
After lunch and gift opening, Dad & Kathy surprised us with a slide show of old family pictures of us kids growing up. How fun (and kinda embarassing) that was! We played games the rest of the afternoon & evening, and then went back to the hotel to have our own family Christmas with the kids. We brought along some of our gifts for eachother so that we could open them with my boys, as they were going to spend most of Christmas Eve and Christmas day with their dad (don't get me started). It was a late night and an early Sunday morning, as we gathered again at Dad & Kathy's to have breakfast before Donna & kids flew back to Nevada. Like I said, it was hard to say goodbye this time. Especially since my sister & her fiance have recently broke up and I'm worried about her being alone and so far from home. But God is taking care of her & she knows that we will be there in a moment's notice if she needs us....in fact Vince has promised to take me down there sometime this spring (yay!)....otherwise we wouldn't see eachother until the wedding, which by the way we have set a date!!! JUNE 28, 2008!!! Christine, we have "eights" now too =)
So, after that we traveled to Worthington to have lunch with my grandma, aunts & uncles and cousin, and then a visit to our very good friends' farm where Hope and Kyle visited with the animals (llama, goat, horses, donkey, chickens....) and Hopie got her first horse ride! Awesome time! That is until we got word that there was a blizzard going on back home....and Brittany & Trevor had gone on before us to get home sooner. After lots of phone calling and weather checking, we had them pull off in Rochester and spend the night in a hotel, while the rest of us stayed at a friend's house in Worthington (who just happen to have a hot tub - ooooh, the hardship!!!) So........we were finally on the road back home on Monday. We stopped at my house just long enough to repack and drop off the boys to their dad's and my mom to her home, and then it was off again to Baraboo. Vince had to be home in time to sing for the 4:00 and 5:30 Christmas eve services. I was a couple hours behind them, but I got there just - and I do mean JUST in time! It was just like in a movie......I walked into the church just as he started singing "Oh Holy Night". It was breathtaking! Absolutely stunning. It gave me chills of awe and a tear of pride to see my man up there and hear his gorgeous voice singing my very favorite Christmas song of all time. Sigh.
Christmas morning came early, with the kids waking us up around 8:00 to open presents! Nick and Kyle were dearly missed, but it was a joy to partake in my first Christmas with Vince & kids ~ the first of many =) How thankful we are for each of our beautiful children, for eachother, and for our Savior.......whom this holiday is about!
But Christmas isn't over yet for our family........this weekend promises to be just as special as we travel to Iowa to celebrate Christmas with Vince's family!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Have You Ever Been In Love?

Since most everyone who reads my blog also reads Vince's......you must already know that *we're engaged*!! It was the most beautiful of days just as he described it, but I'll fill in a few details from my perspective.

I was a little suspicious that he was "up to something" that week, and especially that day. When he didn't answer my email in the morning, but texted me saying he was at his desk at work, I knew something was up. I thought maybe he was coming early to surprise me and take me out to lunch or something - but I was trying not to get my hopes up in case he was just busy. So when someone arrived at the door at work, I thought for sure it would be him! As you know, it wasn't and that's when the confusion & excitement started for me!! Those who know me well know that it's not a difficult task to confuse me, so you can imagine how it threw me to have a limo pull up, and my boss - in the middle of our meeting - smiling and telling me to leave!! "what?...I need my coat....ok, what?.....ok, get my coat and purse.....there's a LIMO???......really?....ok, I guess I'm leaving! AAAAAH!~!!" As I shakily walked out the door and down the driveway to the limo, I fully expected Vince to be inside waiting for me (I was starting to figure out what was going on by now), but he wasn't. And the driver wouldn't tell me where I was going! But as we turned to go up the bluff, I settled back and enjoyed the ride, taking in every moment of it with the sweet anticipation of what was to come.

While all this was going on with me, Mr. Calm was patiently waiting (and freezing) on top of the bluff. It was a gorgeous day, but man was it COLD! Good thing he had his "freaky gloves" on........Ok, break for a moment.....have you SEEN those things?? They are some freakish cross between a glove and a mitten and remind me of something an ax weilding psychotic alien would wear in a horror movie. You know, where the psychotic alien is pretending to be a human, and you don't realize that he's not human until you see his three-pronged tallons holding the ax....and then you REALLY get scared. Seriously, these gloves are like 84 1/2 years old and I'm quite sure have never been washed. But what is even scarier is how much he loves those gloves. LOVES them! You should see his face light up when he talks about how they are the warmest gloves he has ever had. He tells me that they are hunting or shooting gloves, as if that fact is supposed to make them more normal. And of course he gets a big bang out of torturing me by pawing at me with them and holding them up in front of my face. Sick. Now that we are engaged, that is the first thing on my list of things to change about him - ok, so it's the only thing on the list - but can you blame me? Seriously. I'm all about letting him "be himself" and everything, but those things creep me out and something needs to be done.

Whew. Thank you for letting me rant, now where was I? Oh yes.....I was walking up to meet the man of my dreams, who was waiting for me at the lookout. When he turned around to face me, all time stood still. Seriously - there was no one else in the world at that moment but the two of us, and I've never experienced anything like it in my life. It was the most romantic, the most wonderful moment of my life. And as I stared into his beautiful green eyes, and felt the ring slide onto my finger, I saw the door to my future open wide. And I didn't care one bit about the freaky gloves.

Have You Ever Been In Love ~ by Celine Dion

"Have you ever been in love
You could touch the moonlight
When your heart is shooting stars
You’re holding heaven in your arms
Have you ever been so in love?

Have you ever walked on air
Ever felt like you were dreaming
When you never thought it could
But it really feels that good
Have you ever been so in love?

The time I spent
Waiting for something that was heaven-sent
When you find it don’t let go,
I know…

Have you ever said a prayer
And found that it was answered
All my hope has been restored
And I ain’t looking anymore
Have you ever been so in love,
Have you..."

V ~ I love you......today........tomorrow.........forever!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pillow Talk

"Mommy?"
"Yes Kyle..."
"When I see a shooting star, I'm gonna wish for super powers."
"What kind of super powers do you want, sweetie?"
"Speed."
"What will you do with it?"
"When someone is in trouble, I'll be the fastest one in town!"
"That's awesome honey! Let's pray now."
"Ok. Can I say the "in Jesus name" part?"
"Of course."

(prayer)

"Goodnight Kyle."

(short pause....)

"Mom? "
"Yes Kyle..."
"If you and Vince get married, can we have a barn?"
"Why do you want a barn?"
"Cuz I do."
"What would you put in a barn, sweetie?"
"A horse, a llama that walks sideways (author's note: they actually do) and baby chicks."
"Ok, honey, we'll see. Goodnight Kyle."

(a little longer pause)

"Mom?"
"Yes Kyle..."
"If you saw a shooting star, what would you wish for?"
"Hmmm.....I think I would wish for a bigger house for us to live in."
"No, Mom, it has to be something for just you."
"Oh....hmmm"
"How about flowers? You like flowers."
"Yes I do! Ok, I'd wish for flowers. Goodnight Kyle. "

(deceivingly long pause)

"Mom?"
"Yes Kyle..."
"Santa's here!" (cracks up laughing)
"Kyle.....it's time to go to sleep, honey."
"Ok Mommy. G'night"
"Goodnight Kyle, I love you."
"I love you too."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Costumes & brownies (and passing the baton)

Oh, the drama of fifth grade boys!! It's all coming back to me now......not the boy part, but the "I'm not going to be your friend anymore if you don't do what I want" drama. Uggh. I had forgotten about all that. Nick was stressing last night about Halloween and who he would be going trick-or-treating with....and somehow I am to blame! I shouldn't be shocked by that, I usually am to blame in some way, but here's the deal. Apparantly, some of his friends don't want him to go trick-or-treating with them because I won't let him dress up as something scary, and they think that I will insist on coming along because I did last year. That is true, but in my defense there were at least two other mom's of Nick's friends who walked with the boys last year as well! So why do I have to take the rap for this?

Anyway, I reminded Nick that I had already told him that he could go without me this year, but he said when he told his friends that, they didn't believe him. Now Nick is feeling left out and I feel bad that it's sort of because of me, but not really?? Uggh. So, wanting to make it "all better" as mommies do, I had the very logical idea of offering to talk to one of his friends and assure them that I would not come along. To which I got the crinkled nose and the "NO MOM! They will so make fun of me if you do that!" So I need to stay out of it (do I hear me??? STAY OUT OF IT)! I know that if I tried to help the situation at all he would be embarassed and horrified. Here's where I have to sit back and let him work it out on his own. Mama bear needs to back down and let him fight his own battles.

But I still have issues with the costume thing and to a point, Halloween in general. I don't necessarily have a problem with the boys participating in trick-or-treating, although I know many Christians do. I know all about the origins of it. But the tradition of dressing up in a costume, going around the neighborhood and getting candy from our neighbors can be innocent fun, can't it? As long as you leave the evil out? That's why I don't allow the boys to dress up like anything evil, including anything that celebrates witchcraft or death. I had a talk with Nick last night about this, and he seems to understand and is compromising by going as a football player who forgot his helmet - which will allow him to show off some cool sports injuries! Yay! Happy mom, happy kid! I think that's much better than his original idea, which was to go as a "bloody geek"............ I know. That's what I said too.

All this reminds me of brownies. Vince has a great story to share about brownies that would pertain very much to this issue. I think I may be able to talk him into posting his story, so here I go.....passing the baton to you, hon! Let me know if you get it ;)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Heroes, holodecks, and knowing where I am

Well, it was another great weekend in Iowa.....how often do you hear THAT phrase??? Oooops! SORRY!! Some Minnesota smart-talk coming out there ;) Pardon me while I clean the tomato splat off my computer screen......

Ok, better. Now seriously, I meant what I said ~ I had a wonderful time with Vince & the kids in Iowa! We went down on Friday and spent the weekend at Vince's sister Donna & Dave's house in Cedar Falls. We were able to spend some quality time with them, as well as his other sisters Debbie, Denise & Randy and their kids. I had such a great time talking with everyone (and giving Dave some much deserved crap)! On Saturday we attended Vince's nephew Blake's wedding and had such an awesome time. Hopie was a flower girl and oh my, what a CUTIE PATOOTIE she was!! She was stunning...and daddy got a little choked up seeing his little girl looking so grown up, which I found to be just as precious as she was. The entire wedding was beautiful - it was held in an old theater in downtown (Waterloo? I still don't know where I was for sure, but it was either Cedar Falls or Waterloo...) Anyhoo, wherever it was, it was just gorgeous! Lots of special touches, including the groom singing "You Needed Me" to his bride...which his father sang to his mother at their wedding. Tear. And the father of the groom and mother of the bride also sang a couple songs. The moment Hopie walked down the aisle was so precious....you could just see the excitement, nervousness, and anticipation on her face as she had her moment of glory ~ a princess! I also had the wonderful opportunity to meet many of Vince's former in-laws, who were so very gracious.

On the way to the reception, Vince gave me a tour down "memory lane", driving me past the home where his family lived during his highschool years ~~ Oh! Oh! We were in Cedar Falls, not Waterloo! Whew! I feel better now that I know where I was. We also drove past his old highschool & college stomping grounds, which was very cool to see. The reception and dance was awesome. It was such a joy watching the kids interact with their cousins, aunts & uncles and grandparents....meeting more family & getting to know them a bit....having a very yummy dinner of spaghetti & fettuccini alfredo (the bridal party had bibs with their names painted on them - how cute was that?!) But the highlight of the evening (and of the entire weekend actually for me) was dancing with Vince for the first time ever. And to the YMCA, no less! Ha! And no, honey, you did NOT look like a dork on the dance floor as you feared you would.....even tho you can't do the YMCA ;) What were you doing in the 80's anyway? Playing with your Star Trek figurines??? As Jessie said....you need to go to the Holodeck and type in "1980's dance club" or something and learn it. There WILL be a quiz at our company Christmas party, you know that don't you?? Muah...! I love you, baby!

The only bummer was on Saturday when I had a melt down about missing my boys. I hate spending entire weekends without them when they are at their dad's. I miss them so much sometimes it hurts. Sigh. Tears. But Vince loved me through it, as heroes often do =).
Aside from that, it was a wonderful weekend and went by too quickly, as they always do. Always wishing that there was more time together....and there will be when we go down again for Thanksgiving, this time WITH my boys (yay!)
We.....have.....been.....talkin' it out......on the Barry Gibb Talk Show......talkin' bout chest hair......and crazy cool medallions................

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Purification in God's Eye

Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study. That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse that says: "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver." She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy - when I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you. As hard times come, just remember who is holding you and waiting to see His reflection in you to know that the purification process is complete.

~ Author unknown

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My Sweater

This is a quote from one of my favorite musicians, Rich Mullins, who died in 1997 at the age of 42 in a car accident. I found this story online, and thought I'd share it. He often told this story in concert when he sang his song "Ready For The Storm". I never did see him in concert, unfortunately, but I love his music and the ministry that he had. I don't actually feel like a "lonely sailor" at the moment, although I have at times in my life. I just love the message in this story (and the song)!

In Ireland, the women would knit their own special designs into the sweaters the men would wear to sea, because the waters there could be so very rough and treacherous. So treacherous that if by chance their ship were caught in a storm and the crew lost, their bodies would be beaten and broken beyond recognition by the time they reached the shores. The only way at times for the women to recognize them would be by the designs on the tattered remains of their sweaters...

You know, one day, after all our trials and tribulations here on earth, we're all gonna wash up on that other shore, beaten and broken beyond recognition. A couple of angels might walk by and shake their heads saying, "Man, we really need to get this garbage cleaned up..." And as they stoop to carry away the tattered figure, Jesus walks up, stopping them in their tracks. He stares quietly for a moment, then, with a loving smile he points and says "No, wait...I know that one...don't you see...that's my sweater..."

"Ready For The Storm" - Rich Mullins

The waves crash in, the tide rolls out
It's an angry sea, but there is no doubt
That the lighthouse will keep shining out
To warn a lonely sailor.
The lightning strikes and the wind cuts cold
Through the sailor's bones, through the sailor's soul
'Til there's nothing left that he can hold
Except a rolling ocean.

Oh, I am ready for the storm...

Oh give me mercy for my dreams
'Cause every confrontation seems
To tell me what it really means
To be this lonely sailor.
And when the sky begins to clear
The sun it melts away my fear
And I cry a silent weary tear
For those who mean to love me.

Oh, I am ready for the storm...

The distance, it is no real friend
And time will take its time
And you will find that in the end
It brings You me, this lonely sailor.
And when You take me by the hand
You love me, Lord, You love me
And I should have realized
I had no reasons to be frightened.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Hey, this ramble actually turned into something!

What to write, what to write.............hmmmmm..........I have the desire to write something, but now that I'm here I don't have a clue what I'll write about. Is that what they call "writer's block"? Anyway, I'm really not sure where this is going or what will come spewing out....just so you know and can prepare yourself accordingly!

I've had this feeling many times throughout my life....the need to write. Almost a compulsion. I remember as a teenager I would sit down with a notebook & pen and just start writing. Lists were my favorite. I love to write lists, to read lists, and to cross things off my lists. I always have a "to do" list going. There is a sense of satisfaction in crossing things off when I have done them. I have even been known to write things on my "to do" list that I have already done just so that I can cross them off. I think that could possibly qualify as some type of disorder, but I'm not sure on that. Dave, maybe you could ask your dad?? Then again, I may not really want to know :\

Anyway, some cool news in my family....my sister Donna just got engaged!! She is divorced, as am I, and has been through alot in her life. So to see her so incredibly happy with Mike is very refreshing! It was quite a romantic engagement...he flew her up to Portland and drove her along the Pacific Coast highway for the afternoon. They walked along the beach and visited some lighthouses. He found a beautiful little cove, invited her in, dropped to his knees and in tears told her how much he loves her, how much she has brought to his life, and asked her to be his wife. I talked to him this past weekend and told him how romantic and special that sounded and he said "everyday with her is like that". Awwe! A year ago I would have heard this story and felt a twinge of sadness, emptiness, longing, uncertainty....wondering if I would ever experience love again. Would anyone ever truly love me? Know me? Want me? I didn't know....I wanted to believe that God would bring love into my life someday, that's what everyone told me. But quite honestly I doubted it. And even if He did, I didn't know what that would look like, how it would come about, and if I would recognize it when it did. I trusted God that He had a plan for my life, but I didn't trust my own heart. Thankfully, I don't have to wonder anymore, because now I know what it's like to be loved like that!

As I write this I am reminded that, contrary to what my own emotions would tell me, I have ALWAYS been loved like this....even more deeply, more romantically, and more completely than anything I have ever experienced or imagined. And so have you! Our Father, our Savior loves us more than we can imagine. He is so in love with me, with you, that He can hardly contain it! Do you know that? Do you believe it? It has nothing to do with how loved you feel, or how lovable you think you are (or aren't). You are loved by the Creator of the Universe, the One who formed you in your mother's womb. The One who thought of you even before the first star was born. The One who had a purpose in creating you, who anticipated you, who rejoiced on the day of your birth, who has thought of you everyday of your life. The One who promises to never leave your side, who cares about every detail of your life. The One who sings over you. Who thinks you are beautiful. "The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17 It doesn't matter who you are, what you have done, or even if you recognize or return His love. You are loved.

"Never Been Unloved" - Michael W. SmithI have been unfaithful
I have been unworthy
I have been unrighteous
And I have been unmerciful
I have been unreachable
I have been unteachable
I have been unwilling
And I have been undesirable

Sometimes, I have been unwise
I've been undone by what I'm unsure of
But because of You,
And all that You went through
I know that I have never been unloved

I have been unbroken
I have been unmended
I have been uneasy
And i've been unapproachable
I've been unemotional
I've been unexceptional
I've been undecided
And I have been unqualified

Unaware, I have been unfair
I've been unfit for blessings from above
But even I can see the sacrifice you made for me
To show that I have never been unloved

Friday, September 21, 2007

Let It Reign...

Let The Peace Of God Reign - Darlene Zschech

Father of life, draw me closer
Lord, my heart is set on You
Let me run the race of time
With Your life unfolding mine
And let the peace of God, let it reign.

Oh Holy Spirit, You're my comfort
Strengthen me, hold my head up high
And I stand upon Your truth
Bringing glory unto You
And let the peace of God, let it reign.

Oh, Lord, I hunger for more of You
Rise up within me, let me know Your truth
Oh Holy Spirit, saturate my soul
And let the life of God fill me now
Let Your healing power breathe life and make me whole
And let the peace of God, let it reign.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Harvest '\o/'

It's another sweatshirt & shorts day!!!! Yay!!!!! I LOVE fall...cooler weather, changing colors.....love, love, LOVE it!!

Know what else?? It's time to harvest, people!! Time to open up our hands, extent our arms, and receive the blessing of the harvest!!!

'\o/' '\o/' '\o/'

"May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations. May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. May the peoples praise You, O God; may all the peoples praise You. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us." Psalm 67:1-6

"The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest." Psalm 85:12

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Simplify

"There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all" -- Peter Drucker.

Just so you know, I don't really know who Peter Drucker is, so if you need to know who he is before you think about something he said, then Google him. I did just that, and from my 30 second analysis I determined the following: a) I could not tell if he is a christian or not; b) he's really into business and politics - neither of which interest me in the least; and c) he likes the idea of keeping things as simple as possible. That idea I like. Sometimes we make life so much more complicated than it needs to be ~ and those who know me well know that I tend to do that alot! It may even come across in my writing (a.k.a. rambling...)

I am in great need of simplifying my life at the moment. For the past week I've been wanting to write about how busy we are and how I've been struggling to balance everything in our lives..........but I haven't had time!! Uggh. It is a struggle balancing work, the boys' sports, school & other activities, church commitments, taking care of the house, the yard, the bills, spending quality time with Vince and all of our kids........all of these things are necessary, good, and wonderful! But I've been feeling stretched very thin, trying to do too much, and consequently feeling like I am not doing ANYTHING very well!

Enter Beth Moore. In her "Quick Word" broadcast last week (Monday, August 27th) she talked about how we need to go to God and ask Him to help us prioritize. To ask Him to show us a couple things that we should focus on ~ just a couple ~ because we cannot possibly do a thousand things for the glory of God! And shouldn't that be our motivation for whatever we do? To bring glory to God? To fulfill the purposes that HE has given us? We get so caught up in doing life that we forget sometimes WHO we are doing it for! I know I do.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

When I take on too much I feel overwhelmed, and then I get stressed out, and then my heart is not in what I am doing. That doesn't bring any glory to God, and doesn't make the people in my life feel very blessed either. So I need to go to God, everyday, to discover His will for my life for that day. As Beth said, "God will empower you ONE DAY AT A TIME to do what HE has called you to do." I know and believe that whatever He calls me to do, He will equip me with the energy & ability to carry it out ~ not just carry it out, but to succeed, to be fruitful, to be a blessing.

"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:13

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Burden

Why was my burden so heavy? I slammed the bedroom door and leaned against it. Is there no rest from this life? I wondered. I stumbled to my bed and dropped onto it, pressing my pillow around my ears to shut out the noise of my existence.

"Oh God," I cried, "let me sleep. Let me sleep forever and never wake up!"

With a deep sob I tried to will myself into oblivion, then welcomed the blackness that came over me. Light surrounded me as I regained consciousness. I focused on its source: the figure of a man standing before a cross. "My child," the person asked, "why did you want to come to Me before I am ready to call you?" "Lord, I'm sorry. It's just that... I can't go on. You see how hard it is for me. Look at this awful burden on my back. I simply can't carry it anymore." "But haven't I told you to cast all of your burdens upon Me! , because I care for you? My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." "I knew You would say that.

But why does mine have to be so heavy?" "My child, everyone in the world has a burden. Perhaps you would like to try a different one?" "I can do that?" He pointed to several burdens lying at His feet. "You may try any of these." All of them seemed to be of equal size. But each was labeled with a name. "Why there's Joan's!" I said. Joan was married to a wealthy businessman. She lived in a sprawling estate and dressed her three daughters in the prettiest designer clothes. Sometimes she drove me to church in her Cadillac when my car was broken.

"Let me try that one." How difficult could her burden be? I thought. The Lord removed my burden and placed Joan's on my shoulders. I sank to my knees beneath its weight. "Take it off!" I said. "What makes it so heavy?" "Look inside." I untied the straps and opened the top. Inside was a figure of her mother-in-law, and when I lifted it out, it began to speak. "Joan, you'll never be good enough for my son," it began. "He never should have married you. You're a terrible mother to my grandchildren..."

I quickly placed the figure back in the pack and withdrew another. It was Donna, Joan's youngest daughter. Her head was bandaged from the surgery that had failed to resolve her epilepsy. A third figure was Joan's brother. Addicted to drugs, he had been convicted of killing a police officer. "I see why her burden is so heavy, Lord. But she's always smiling and helping others. I didn't realize..." "Would you like to try another?" He asked quietly. I tested several. Paula's felt heavy: She was raising four small boys without a father. Debra's did too: a childhood of sexual abuse and a marriage of emotional abuse.

When I came to Ruth's burden, I didn't even try. I knew that inside I would find arthritis, old age, a demanding full-time job, and a beloved husband in a nursing home. "They're all too heavy, Lord." I said. "Give back my own." As I lifted the familiar load once again, It seemed much lighter than the others. "Let's look inside." He said. I turned away, holding it close. "That's not a good idea," I said. "Why?" "There's a lot of junk in there." "Let Me see." The gentle thunder of His voice compelled me. I opened my burden. He pulled out a brick. "Tell me about this one." "Lord, You know. It's money. I know we don't suffer like people in some countries or even the homeless here in America. But we have no insurance, and when the kids get sick, we can't always take them to the doctor. They've never been to a dentist. And I'm tired of dressing them in hand-me-downs."

"My child, I will supply all of your needs... and your children's. I've given them healthy bodies. I will teach them that expensive clothing doesn't make a person valuable in My sight." Then He lifted out the figure of a small boy. "And this?" He asked. "Andrew..." I hung my head, ashamed to call my son a burden. "But, Lord, he's hyperactive. He's not quiet like the other two. He makes me so tired. He's always getting hurt, and someone is bound to think I abuse him. I yell at him all the time. Someday I may really hurt him...."

"My child," He said, "if you trust Me, I will renew your strength. If you allow Me to fill you with My Spirit, I will give you patience." Then He took some pebbles from my burden. "Yes, Lord," I said with a sigh. "Those are small. But they're important. I hate my hair. It's thin, and I can't make it look nice. I can't afford to go to the beauty shop. I'm overweight and can't stay on a diet. I hate all my clothes. I hate the way I look!" "My child, people look at your outward appearance, but I look at your heart. By My Spirit you can gain self-control to lose weight. But your beauty should not come from outward appearance. Instead, it should come from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in My sight."

My burden now seemed lighter than before. "I guess I can handle it now." I said. "There is more." He said. "Hand Me that last brick." "Oh, You don't have to take that. I can handle it."

"My child, give it to Me." Again His voice compelled me. He reached out His hand, and for the first time I saw the ugly wound. "But, Lord, this brick is so awful, so nasty, so.....Lord! What happened to your hands? They're so scarred!" No longer focused on my burden, I looked for the first time into His face. In His brow were ragged scars --as though someone had pressed thorns into His flesh. "Lord," I whispered. "What happened to you?" His loving eyes reached into my soul. "My child, you know. Hand Me the brick. It belongs to Me. I bought it." "How?" "With My blood." "But why, Lord?" "Because I have loved you with an Everlasting Love. Give it to Me."

I placed the filthy brick into His wounded palm. It contained all the dirt and evil of my life: my pride, my selfishness, the depression that constantly tormented me. He turned to the cross and hurled my brick into the pool of blood at it's base. It hardly made a ripple. "Now, My child, you need to go back. I will be with you always. When you are troubled, call to Me and I will help you and show you things you cannot imagine now." "Yes, Lord, I will call on You."

I reached to pick up my burden. "You may leave that here if you wish. You see all these burdens? They are the ones that others have left at My feet. Joan's, Paula's, Debra's, Ruth's..... When you leave your burden here, I carry it for you. Remember, My yoke is easy and My burden is light." As I placed my burden with Him, the light began to fade. Yet I heard Him whisper, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

A peace flooded my soul.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest". Matthew 11:28

"And upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords". Revelation 19:16

By: Author Unknown

Monday, August 20, 2007

In the shelter of the Most High

As most of you may know, our area has had some flooding this weekend, and some areas have been hit hard. The boys and I were not home - we were at Vince’s for the weekend. I am thankful for that, because the roads leading to our town were closed and the phones were down, so we would have been stuck at our house with no way to communicate with anyone until today. We were planning on heading back home on Sunday afternoon, but ended up staying an extra night because the highways around town were closed due to flooding and mudslides. Bummer on having to stay an extra day, what a hardship =). We just got home this afternoon, and I had some water in the laundry room & storage room that seeped just under the wall by the basement stairs, but nothing major ~ PTL!!

Others have not been that fortunate. Some areas have major damage, roads were completely washed away, people have lost their homes. Over 100 families are homeless, and there have been six confirmed deaths. I know of four families from my church who had to evacuate their homes, escape to their roofs, and wait to be rescued by boat. Our church is rallying around these families to organize clean up efforts and donations, as well as places for them to stay while they are essentially homeless. Please pray for these families, especially my friend Lori, who just five months ago lost her husband in a car accident and now is dealing with the loss of much of her possessions and possibly her home.

It felt pretty unreal to me, being so far away and just hearing about what was going on. But that quickly changed as I drove home and saw a lot of the damage.

It's hard to imagine why this would happen. We Christians tend to expect to be protected from harm, don't we? Well, contrary to popular belief, the Lord never promised that we would escape trouble in this life, in fact He tells us to expect it......in John 16:33 Jesus said "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
But He also promises to be with us and deliver us, as in Deut. 31:8 "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
Please join me in praying Psalm 91 four our neighbors:
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday....."
"If you make the Most High your dwelling—even the LORD, who is my refuge- then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone...."Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Engraved on the palms of His hands

I was just listening to Beth Moore's "A Quick Word" for today (see the link on my sidebar). She talks today about our need to recognize our dependence on God, and how going through trials reminds us of that (see my blog from Tuesday....do you think God's trying to tell me something???)

She talks about healing and said that many times God seems to choose to heal over time instead of instantaneously. Why would He do that?? If He has the power to heal our bodies (or change our circumstances) in the snap of a finger, why would he drag it out? Or not do it at all? Maybe, just maybe, God is more interested in the condition of our hearts.... if we are immediately healed from sickness, or receive whatever we ask for, quite often we say "thanks God!" and then dash out the door. Don't we? Come on, you know we do. I do it all the time.

Could it be that God uses (not necessarily causes, but uses) trials in our lives to draw us close to Himself? His greatest desire is to be close to us, to love us, to provide for us, to be our everything (Andy Gibb? anyone? anyone?)

"Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..." Isaiah 49:13-16

I can personally attest that the times in my life where I have drawn closest to Him, where my faith and intimacy in the Lord has been strongest, have been in times of brokenness. When there seemed no way out, no end in sight. Where I have been lost enough to let myself be led.

It doesn't take a huge tragedy to reach this point of dependency (and I pray that it doesn't!) because the more I pay attention, the more I realize that I wake up every morning in a state of complete and utter dependence on God - whether I recognize it or not. But the greatest growth and blessings come when I do.

"This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your holy presence
Living in me
This is my daily bread
This is my daily bread
Your very Word
Spoken to me
And I, I'm desperate for You
And I, I'm lost without You"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A breath of fresh air

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". ~ Philippians 4:6-7

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~ Matthew 6: 25-34

Why am I sooooooo prone to worry? Don't answer that! I don't want to know. That's a psychological mine field that we may not want to traverse. But I do know this.....it never serves me well to give way to worry. So why do I so often let worry consume my thoughts and overwhelm me? As my dad would say (and think he's quite funny saying it) 'worrying works because most of the things I worry about never happen!'

It is so hard to let go of the illusion of control I have when I worry - and it is just that, an illusion. We never really have control of anything, and sometimes it seems that God doesn't either. But His Word tells us differently, and so does His track record - both in the Bible and in my personal life as well. In times where I have felt completely overwhelmed and my life has seemed like a dust storm, and all of my efforts seem to mess things up even more......that's when God has come through, everytime. He calms the winds, and as the dust settles I can clearly see His hand at work making all things new. I take a deep breath of fresh air and realize again how completely dependent on Him I truly am. With my life, my decisions, my very breath. And I find myself oddly grateful for the storm I endured. Hmmm.....maybe that's the whole idea? Ya think?

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

Monday, August 13, 2007

Welcome to the family!

What a GREAT weekend ~ I went down to Cedar Falls Iowa with Vince and the kids to meet the "Howard clan" and I just have to say that, as shocking as this may seem, they are even crazier than I am =) I know, it's hard to believe, but true! Vince tried to warn me, but they just took crazy to a whole new level. Seriously tho, they are truly wonderful and we had such a great time! It was fun to see Vince sparring with his nutty brother-in-law (you know who you are), and getting picked on by his sisters. But beyond all the goofing off (and there was alot of it!) I witnessed and felt the closeness and love between all of them that is really something.....something wonderful. They have a bond that is quite incredible, and I know it is rooted not only in their deep love for one another, but in their common faith in Christ. Everyone seemed to go out of their way to make me feel comfortable and welcome, and even like part of the family already. It was really fun to see the family resemblances, the personalities, the inside jokes, and especially their feirce love and devotion to their "baby brother" (that would be my honey =) ) Even the car ride down & back with the kids was great - lots of conversation, music, and laughs. I am SO looking forward to the next time we get together, and subjecting - er, I mean introducing my boys to the "Howard clan"!

"For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19
All this talk about family reminds me how thankful I am for my own family as well.....thankful for the love & close bond I have with my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews....thankful to have parents who know the Lord and pray for us regularly. But it also got me thinking.....what about those who are not fortunate to have a family like this? What if your idea of "family" brings to mind more pain than joy? More heartache than happiness? More loneliness than togetherness? Well I've got good news for you....God promises to provide a family for those who ask. He is:

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing..." Psalm 68:5-6
You have the opportunity to belong, to be loved, to be cherished, to be welcomed and included in a family of God's design - a family of believers in Christ. You have a Father who loves you beyond measure, who will never EVER let you down, who always has your best interests at heart and acts on them (as much as you allow), who holds you in the palm of His hand and will never EVER take His eyes off you. You have brothers and sisters in Christ, who are waiting and eager to extend a hand and a heart, and love you as you are. Who will laugh with you, and cry with you, and help bear your burdens. And most of all, you have a Savior who will knit and weave your lives together with an eternal bond that will never unravel. Ever. You are precious and beautiful and just so you know, your eternal family needs YOU as much as you need them!

So there you go......welcome to the family!!

Pssst....one more post 'til I earn my blog counter!!! Yay, go me!!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Deep thoughts....

"If you think a weakness can be turned into a strength, I hate to tell you this, but that's another weakness."
I love that......it's one of my favorite "Deep Thoughts" quotes - remember those from old SNL days?? Those usually cynical, generally stupid quips on life....too funny. If you try to make any sense out of them at all your brain will hurt and it ruins the funniness, so you just have to listen, laugh, and let it go.

My only purpose in writing today is to earn my blog counter. You see, when I have 7 blog entries I will qualify to have this counter thingy attached to my blog that tells me how many "hits" I get and what cities the viewers are from - how cool is THAT?! I hope this doesn't deter anyone from visiting, as I won't be able to know who you are or email you any spam or anything. It's just fun to know, "Oh, I see someone from Zimbabwe has viewed my blog!"

"To me, clowns aren't funny. In fact, they're kinda scary. I've wondered where this started and I think it goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad."
- Sorry, I couldn't resist =)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Who said my sons could grow up????

Last night I took Nick to sign up for his first year of football........TACKLE football, mind you. You know, where other boys - many of whom will be twice his size - will have as their primary goal to attack and maim my first born. Hmmmph. The fact that I willingly signed him up for this has me a bit puzzled. My goal in life since the day of their births has been to protect my sons from harm, and those who know me well know that I can quickly turn into "mama bear" at the slightest smell of danger where my kids are concerned! The only explanation I can think of for allowing him to participate in this deathtrap is that somewhere deep in my psyche I realize that he is growing up. He's going into 5th grade, which here means he enters middle school. Wow. How did THAT happen? But he's pretty excited about playing football, and can I just say how CUTE he looks in his shoulder pads & helmet?!

The boys both just finished baseball - Kyle played his second year of Tball and Nick played "10 & under" Little League. Nick did an excellent job pitching and covering first base for most of his games. Kyle did great wacking the ball off the T and working on his 'form' in the outfield. He has a great arm and can throw far. Both boys concentrated very hard and did their best, I was very proud! I was especially impressed with Nick and his teammates this past weekend, as they played an all-day tourney in pouring rain!! Not one of them complained, as they played on through the rain till the end. (I can't say the same for those of us parents who were watching the games - I must say there was quite a bit of whining and shivering going on.) Note to self: watch the weather report in the future so you don't wear a sleeveless shirt and shorts when it's going to be 60 degrees & rainy ALL day : /

So now, here we are approaching the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year in just a few weeks. Kyle, my "baby" will be in 1st grade, and as I said Nick will be in 5th. Sigh. Who said my boys could grow up????

Monday, August 06, 2007

~ A new day has come ~

Here I am, starting a new blog.....fitting, since I am in the midst of embarking on a new chapter in my life! A new day has come for me...one filled with hope, contentment, exhilaration, and above all - love. An incredible, amazing, dream come true kind of love that blows away all of my expectations. It's been a long wait, but worth every moment.

Through this blog (which Vince so graciously created for me with his plethora of techy knowledge - he's like my own personal "geek squad"!) I am excited to be sharing about my experiences, insights and observations (however wacky they may be) along my life's journey. So, welcome - and I hope you enjoy your flight!
~A New Day Has Come~
Celine Dion

"I was waiting for so long
For a miracle to come
Everyone told me to be strong
Hold on and don't shed a tear
Through the darkness and good times
I knew I'd make it through
And the world thought I had it all
But I was waiting for you...

I see a light in the sky
Oh, it's almost blinding me
I can't believe I've been touched
By an angel with love
Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new sun
A new day has come.

Where it was dark now there's light
Where there was pain now there's joy
Where there was weakness, I found my strength
All in the eyes of a boy."

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sowing tears...reaping joy

"When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy..." - Psalm 126

"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you". - Hosea 10:12

I've got some "unplowed ground" that I need to let the Lord work His hands into. Some areas of my heart that are dry and hard. No seed will ever be able to sprout there until I allow Him to soften it and turn it into fertile soil. It has to do with trust...trusting others, trusting myself, and even trusting God.

"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song". - Psalm 28:7

"But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." - Psalm 31:14


"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun." - Psalm 37:4-6

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, March 30, 2007

Going home

Jeff died on Friday.

It's so weird to type that. And sad. Even though we weren't close friends, I will miss him. I will miss him at home group. He knew and believed the word of God, and was eager to share a scripture that spoke life into a situation. He did that for me many times, as I shared about things I was struggling with. He often led our group in prayer, and he approached the throne of grace with confidence that God would come through in any and every situation. I will miss hearing him talk about his sons...he was so proud of them, and was dedicated to speaking the truth to them and planting the Word in their hearts.

I will miss seeing him in church - always with a huge smile on his face! Dancing with his baby in his arms during worship, boldly sharing a word that he felt the Lord had put on his heart to share with the body of believers. The way he always looked at Lori. He attended to her like she was a precious jewel and it gave me hope that I would have that someday.

I found out about his death on Friday night, and even though it wasn't a surprise it is still shocking. It is just so unbelievable that someone so young and vibrant and alive could be gone - in an instant. I went to see Lori the next afternoon and she was amazingly strong. She invited me into their room and we sat on her bed and talked...pictures of she and Jeff and the boys all around. I of course started crying, and just as she had done in the hospital, she was comforting me! That's the grace of God right there. She assured me that her faith is still strong. Even though she was believing God to heal Jeff and He didn't, she still believes. And next time she needs to believe in healing for someone, she will.

I pray for faith like that.

Nick came along to the visitation and funeral. I left it up to him, and he wanted to be there. I"m so proud of him, he's so grown up! It was rather shocking for him and he's processing through alot of thoughts and emotions right now...wondering who Lori and her boys will sit by in church, and wondering if something will happen to his own dad now.

He was a little freaked out viewing the body, although he didn't show it at the time. We talked about it the night before and I tried to prepare him for what to expect. Afterwards, he talked alot about how it didn't look like Jeff. I explained that the part of us that is alive is our spirit, not our body. Our body is just skin and bones and blood, it is not alive but it is a house for our spirit. Kind of like a shell is the house for a snail. When we die, our spirit leaves our body just like a snail leaves it's shell. Jesus tenderly comes and brings our spirit to Heaven. It doesn't hurt and it's not scary because Jesus is there caring for us. And when we get to Heaven and see God face to face, it's not wonder that we don't want to come back!

We are home.

2 Corinthians 5:1-8

Our Heavenly Dwelling

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Doggie diarrhea and other hi-lights of my week

This morning after I got out of the shower I went in the boys' room (barefoot, of course) to wake up Kyle for school, and I stepped in "something". I immediately stopped in my track.

Oh, this could not be good.

I turned on the light and found a trail of "plops" from the boys' bunk beds all the way across the room to their bedroom door. Kirby, our yellow lab, must have been sick because he never, ever makes messes in the house.

I had no idea that much crap could come out of one dog.

Then the stench hit me. It was probably the grossest experience of my entire life, and trust me - being the mom of boys, I know gross. But this far topped them all. So after some initial damage control, I was off to HyVee to rent a rug doctor and shampoo my carpets! It needed to be done anyway, I just wasn't expecting to take the morning off work to do it. But it's all good now.

Yesterday afternoon was amazing. I went to Rochester with my friend Lori to spend some time with her husband Jeff, who is still hanging on to life. I was really looking forward to going there together and spending some time with Lori alone so that we could talk. She has been on my heart so much since this happened, and I want to bless her and support her in any way that I can. But I also was a little apprehensive about what to talk about during the hour long drive each way. Should I be cheerful? Is that being insensitive given the gravity of the situation, or is that what she needs right now and not another somber face? Is she going to want to talk about Jeff, about the prognosis, about her feelings? Would there be awkward silences, not knowing what to say? I mean we are friends, but not close friends to where I can read her and know what to say. Then I realized that since God had set this up, He would show up. I just needed to relax and rely on Him.

So that's what I did, and it couldn't have gone better! We talked the whole way there and back about her and Jeff and their relationship, about his accident, and our families. We talked about health and losing weight - Lori is in great shape and very into nutrition so she has motivated me! We talked a lot about our faith, and I have to say that she utterly amazes me. She has been unwavering in her faith. She does not believe that the accident was an "accident" but that God allowed it in order to reveal Himself to us and strengthen our faith. And has He ever done that! Even with the grim prognosis that Mayo has given Jeff - they have maintained all along that there is no chance of recovery. Yet in the face of this she maintains her faith that God is in control and if He wants to heal Jeff He can and He will.

I have to admit that I have at times thought that it is foolish of her to believe that. That she is just in denial, and needs to let go, as the doctors continue to encourage and even pressure her to do. They want her to consent to withholding treatment, and essentially pulling the plug. But she said something that astonished me. She said "If Jeff had died in the accident, I would have been able to go on with my life. But he didn't die. And I can't tell the doctors to end his life just so that I can go on with mine."

Whoa.

She has maintained from the beginning that God is able to heal Jeff. If He was able to raise Lazarus from the dead after being dead for four days. I'm sure Lazarus' body had deteriorated quite a bit by the time Jesus arrived. And yet he was healed, and completely restored to life. The same God who did that is able to heal the damage that's been done to Jeff's body. I know He can...and I pray that He will. Who am I to say that God won't do a miracle?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I am amazed

Can I just tell you how amazing my son is???

Before I get into that, I will let you, who don't already, know what is going on...

Last Monday afternoon a member of our church was in a serious car accident. He was life-flighted to Mayo and is in a coma and on life support. There is minimal brain function at this point. To add to the trauma of this, my friend Lori (his wife) was following him and witnessed the whole thing and was obviously the first person on the scene. They have two sons who are 17 years old and 18 months old. My heart is just broken for them. Broken.

We got to know eachother through our Friday night home group/bible study that we have gone to for almost two years. We have all gotten so close through sharing our lives, growing in our faith, encouraging eachother through trials, and just sharing the intimacy that believers do by praying with and for eachother. So this is impacting all of us on a very personal level.

We went up to the hospital as a group on Tuesday evening, and I wasn't sure what to expect. They let all of us go in with Jeff, no restrictions, which I was a bit surprised at. I didn't expect to be allowed in to see him, we were going up there to support Lori and the boys, but we were able to see him and pray with him. Some were softly singing or reading scripture. I knew it would be emotional, and it was. But above all, there was such an incredible sense of God's presence there. It was overwhelmingly peaceful. That I did not expect. A combination of sorrow and hope and peace covered that room like a blanket. I can't say that I am surprised, because God IS that good. It is just awe inspiring to encounter the presence of God like that in the midst of such a tragic situation. It takes your breath away.

Lori was incredibly calm. I told her that we came to encourage her, and yet she was the one encouraging us! She said "that is how God wants it to be - that everyone who comes here be encouraged and blessed and leave with a measure more of faith than they came with."

There are no words.

So, as if that isn't amazing enough, I have to tell you what my son said. He got to know Jeff & Lori's older son Jeremiah from going on the men & boys retreat last year with them, and Nick really identified with him. He's a "cool" kid, plays guitar, so of course Nick looks up to him! So the other day Nick asked me who I thought this was harder on, Lori or Jeremiah. I said "Honey, it is hard on both of them. What do you think?" And that precious boy said this, "I think it is harder on Jeremiah. You can't replace his dad. If Jeff dies, Lori will be sad but she will be able to go on with her life. She will have memories but she will be able to have a new husband someday. Jeremiah only gets one dad."

Tear. I am utterly amazed at the sensitivity and insight he has...and he's nine.

We went up again last night, and sadly there is no change in Jeff's condition. But God is still there and we are praying for a miracle.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More than enough for me

I really was dreading valentines day this year. Looking forard to another year without a valentine I was not (that kinda sounded like Yoda it did). I've never really cared that much about valentines day, it's not a "real" holiday anyway. I think Hallmark made it up. But this year it was kinda kickin' my butt.

Enter God.

This week He's been reminding me, or maybe enlightening me for the very first time, that if the only gift I ever received in my life was my salvation...if the only thing I ever got was Jesus - to know Him and to be known by Him. The promise of eternity with my Creator...if that was all I ever got in this lifetime, it would be more than I could ever hope for. MOre than I could ever want or imagine. Everything else is gravy. Anything I could ever have, anywhere I could ever go, anything I could ever do or be or experience - it's frosting and sprinkles and whipped cream. It IS good! But it all pales in comparison to my One true love.

Thank you Jesus for being my valentine. My husband. My love. My everything.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Nicolas Dynamite

This morning I got the boys in the car to give them a ride to school because it's rippin' freezing outside! We also gave Kyle's friend Devon a ride, so the two of them of course were being obnoxious five year olds in the back seat. Nothing unusual there.

I got in next to Nick as we are ready to leave and said "how's it going?"

He said, in a very Napoleon Dynamite kind of way, "how do you THINK it's going? I'm in the car with two kindergarteners acting like dinosaurs."

I was so proud of him, and resisted the urge to follow up his statement with "gosh!"

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

It's not easy being nine

Nick is traumatized...he has to do a report in his social studies class. Each child was assigned a state to do a report about and Nick got Wisconsin. Now all of his classmates are calling him a cheesehead and a packer fan.

This is causing him great distress. I tried convincing him that they were not laughing AT him, and that he should shrug it off or join in the fun. He would have none of that ridiculous advice.

So I told him if it was bothering him that bad he should talk to his teacher in private about it tomorrow. That he cannot do because then they might find out and will call him a tattle-taler like his classmate Brittney. Oh the shame. It's so hard to be nine.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Heat is a good thing

Yesterday afternoon the boys and I were sitting in the living room, all warm and cozy, because it was way too cold to be outside (I think the high was like 8). Nick and I were "beading" which for you not in the know, that is making necklaces, bracelets etc. out of beads. Nick, by the way, made a very cool watchband with brown and blue stones. Kyle was busy drumming along with Michael W. Smith's concert dvd. All was good.

Then I noticed it was getting a little chilly in the house. Oh, I must have forgotten to turn the heat back up after getting home from church. So I turned the thermostat up and did not hear the furnace kick in. So I turn it down and back up again - kind of like when a button doesn't work the first time, you think it's going to work if you push it twelve more times.

This goes on for a minute or so until I realize. Uh oh. The last time I checked that little gauge thingy on top of the fuel tank there was about 50 gallons left. That was a few weeks ago and since the furnace goes through about 2-3 gallons a day...well, you do the math.

Because obviously I did not.

If you aren't in the know about fuel oil heat, it's that big tank in my basement (painted the same red color as the wall to disguise it's bigness) and that's what fuels the furnace. There is a pipe that runs outside the house and they come with a big truck and pump the fuel into your house just like you would pump gas into your car. "They" being the fuel guys and "come" meaning you have to call them. In advance...meaning before you are out of fuel. You see where this has gone...I did not call and they did not come.

For about an hour I considered waiting until morning to get fuel. I set up heaters in our bedrooms, it would be a little chilly, kind of like camping, right? We'd be fine. Then I remembered how cold it feels in the house in the fall, before I have turned on the furnace for the year and it gets down to like 55 in the house. And today it's 8 degrees outside.

Again with the math.

So, I called the emergency fuel # and got Joe Fuel Guy on the phone. I told him the problem and asked if he can help. He asked me if I have a man around. I say no (and resisted the urge to go into a polite rant about how I am capable of doing anything that a man would do except lift heavy objects and pee standing up - which I probably could do but it would be messy). And then he asked how old I am...who is this guy, and why does he want to know if I'm alone and how old I am? I said "why do you want to know that???" He back-pedalled like crazy, saying he didn't mean anything improper but was just needing to know if I was a little old lady who wouldn't be able to help him and if I was a little old lady that was ok he would bring someone to help him. I just laughed and he said he'll be right over with the fuel.

The boys in the mean time, in case you were wondering, were totally unconcerned that the house was getting colder by the second. Good, no permanent psychological damage done.

So, here comes Joe Fuel Guy...dirty overalls, red plaid jacket with holes all over it. Long, unkempt mustache with a little supper still clinging to it. Just exactly like you would picture a fuel guy. He apologized profusely for the questions he asked on the phone and said that his wife chewed him out for it "do you realize how that sounded?!". Yes I did actually. Really he was a very nice man and not in the least bit irritated that he had to go out in the cold to rescue us. In fact he kept apologizing for how much he had to charge me to do so!

So...after getting the furnace started again (and paying the $45 emergency service fee - doh!) we had heat. Lesson learned - pay close attention to how full the tank is and don't wait until you run out and have a crisis.

It's the same way with God. How often do we neglect our relationship with Him, going days or weeks (or longer) without really spending time in the Word, and in prayer? Our tank gets lower and lower and if we don't pay attention and check the gauge in our hearts, we can miss it. Until it's empty and we are faced with a crisis. Our soul is parched and empty and we grow cold. Weary. Discouraged. Empty. It is nice to be rescued, but it is so much more comfortable to stay filled up. But if we do find ourselves with an empty tank (again) the good news is we can always call the Fuel Guy - and He will show up. Every time. At any hour. He will not be the least bit irritated that we ran out of fuel and called him in desperation.

Ever.

And the best part? It's free.

"Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life." Revelation 22:17

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost." Isaiah 55:1

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." John 6:35

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Quote of the day

If satan cannot convince you that there is no God, he will settle for convincing you that there is no hell."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Prone to Wander

"Prone to Wander" - Chris Rice

On the surface not a ripple
Undercurrent wages war
Quiet in the sanctuary
Sin is crouching at my door

How can I be so prone to wander
So prone to leave You so prone to die
And how can You be so full of mercy
You race to meet me and bring me back to life

I wake to find my soul in fragments
Given to a thousand loves
But only One will have no rival
Hangs to heal me,
Spills His blood

How can I be so prone to wander
So prone to leave You, so prone to die
And how can You be so full of mercy
You race to meet me and bring me back to life

Curse-reversing Day of Jesus
When you finally seize my soul
Freedom from myself will be the
Sweetest rest I've ever known

How can I be so prone to wander
So prone to leave You, so prone to die
And how can You be so full of mercy
You race to meet me and bring my back to life

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kyle is pretty much ready for his own place now

After school on Friday, Kyle decided that he didn't want to go to 'key kids' (that is the after school program where the boys go until we pick them up - it's right there in the school gym and art room). Anyway, he apparently didn't want to go, so he decided to leave school and walk home.

By himself.

He's 5.

Luckily, the crossing guard at the intersection near our house knows him and knows that he doesn't walk home, so she asked him why he was. And my child, whom I have raised since birth and to whom I have attempted to impart the value in telling the truth, told her "my mom told me I could."

Still suspicious, and seeing that Nick wasn't with him, she walked him to our house (thank God!) Once she confirmed that no one was there, she walked him back to school. In the meantime, the school was in a panic! The key kids staff, teachers and Lord knows who else were all looking for him. His poor teacher got in her car and was driving around town even! They were ready to call the police, seriously.

So I found out about this Friday evening from Scott - he had the boys for the weekend. So I talked to Kyle about it on the phone and asked him why he did it. He said "because I didn't want to go to key kids." I asked why and he said "because I am FRUSTRATED there!" I have to admit that it's pretty dang cute when your five year old says "frustrated". I asked why he was frustrated and he gave me a long, run-on paragraph about the games he didn't want to play, the kids he didn't want to play with, he didn't like the snacks, yada yada yada.

So I began to try and convince my child that he is not old enough to be home alone without an adult. He had an answer for everything: He was going to go in the house and play. If he needed something he would call me....oh and then when he realized he didn't know how to call me at work the whole thing became MY fault. (He gets that from his dad). Anyway, he had it all planned out and I ruined his life (he gets that from his older brother).

Well, I was not able to convince him that he was not old enough to be home alone, so I brought out the big guns. We had a long talk when he got home today and I told him if he ever did that again he would lose tv for a week. What?!! How could I be so cruel and unreasonable? After all, he is more than capable of getting his own place and handling things all by himself.

I think I need to start hiding my keys.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Dog snot

I don't really read the newspaper a whole lot. Or watch the news for that matter. I generally page through the paper while eating lunch at work. I don't actually read it, tho. I skim the headlines so I have a vague and general sense of what might be going on in the world beyond my immediate circle of existence. I have been known to say, days after the fact, "what? there was a hurricane that wiped out thousands of people? what? there's a war going on?" It's not that I don't care, it's just that I'd usually rather think about things that have happy endings.

Anyway, today was the exception to my head in the sand rule. The headline on the front page of the newspaper today caught my attention so I actually read the entire article. It is about some potential legislation that would ban cell phone usage while driving, and would also impose stricter fines for not using a seat belt in Minnesota. One of our state senators, whom I learned from this article is Steve Murphy, was apparently talking to a reporter about keeping the fines minimal for these offenses. He is quoted as saying "we're trying to set it up so the dog snot doesn't get beat out of the offender."

Hmmm.

Dog snot? Really? Are you kidding me? Not that I have a huge problem with dogs or snot. I live with both of those on a daily basis. I have even been known to walk around with dog snot on my pants for an entire day. I just didn't expect to read it on the front page of the paper, coming out of the mouth of my state's senator.

Don't get me wrong, I'm really not a prude. I don't mind if someone uses slang terms such as dog snot. I think it's quite amusing actually...but seriously. I wouldn't necessarily use the term dog snot at work. Or at church. And I for sure wouldn't use it if I was in public office, speaking to a reporter who was writing every word I said down on his spiral notebook, in order to publish it in newspapers across the state! I might choose some more professional language.

But I'm actually glad he did say dog snot. It gave me a big chuckle and something to ramble about. I may even read the paper more now just because of that!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I just needed some pull-ups!

Tonight Kyle and I had some alone time, which was really nice. Nick went to "open gym" at school with his friend, whose mom picked him up. I decided to get Kyle into his pj's a little early so we could just sit in the recliner, watch "Jimmy Neutron" and snuggle 'til Nick got home.

Good thing I did, because I realized that we were out of pull-ups. I knew that the night before, so I wrote myself a note and put it in my purse. I even put the empty package on the hutch by the back door so I'd be sure to see it on my way out this morning and thus remember to get some today. Nada.

So we had like a half an hour - plenty of time to run to Shopko and get back before Nick got home. So, we get to Shopko, I get out of the car and wait for Kyle. Then I hear the car door slam, followed by a blood curdling scream from my 5 year old. That can't be good, I thought. So I run around the car and see that he has slammed an appendage in the car door (again). He did the same thing about a year and a half ago and broke his index finger. This time it was his thumb.

So we go into the store and I'm holding his hand because he's dripping blood all the way to the bathroom. One of the employees followed the blood trail and offered bandaids and an ice pack. You may know that I don't like blood, or any type of injury for that matter. I generally feel like passing out, and almost have many times. But being a mom has really toughened me up. Especially being Kyle's mom. Being the wild child that he is, injuries are common occurrences at our house. He's been to the ER twice, and I contemplated taking him in for this, but a nurse happened to be in the bathroom with us (this was no coincidence, I'm sure!). She didn't think I necessarily needed to take him in so we came home. (In the mean time I had called Kyle's dad to come over and be there when Nick got home.)

He's sleeping peacefully now, but he'll probably lose his nail. And I'm sure he'll be milking this injury for all it's worth for some time to come!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I am Martha

Yep. I think I've turned into a Martha. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about (I know, no surprise there) I'll explain.

Luke 10:38-42. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (can't you just hear the whine in her voice?) "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

I love Martha. I think she's hilarious. She's a worry wart and kind of anal about stuff. She shows up again in scripture when Jesus arrives after her brother Lazarus had died. Jesus told someone to move the stone away from his tomb. Everyone was standing there with great anticipation, knowing they would see a miracle, and Martha pipes up and says "But Lord...by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." (John 11:39). Here was Jesus, about to raise the dead, one of the greatest miracles there is, and Martha is thinking "uh boy, this is gonna stink. I know He is God in the flesh, Creator of the universe, and He can raise the dead and everything, but what in the world is He gonna do about that smell???"

Distracted. Missing the point. I can so relate! I have been running on overdrive since before Christmas...and not really going anywhere. Spinning my wheels. I've been staying up too late worrying about the laundry, the dishes, the toys on the floor, bills to be paid...tired, overwhelmed, discouraged. I feel like God is telling me today "Whoa! Slow down Martha! You are worried and upset about many things. Take a lesson from Mary here. Rest. Listen to Me. I will refresh you".

How many times have I felt like there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done. Being a single parent is hard! The house, the car, the yard, the kids, groceries, laundry, cleaning, dishes...they all scream at me from the moment I get home from work until I crawl into bed at night (much too late most nights). There just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done that needs to be. Or is there??

I heard on the radio the other day that there is enough time in each day to get done the things that GOD has called me to do for that day. I had to stop and really ponder that one. Are you saying that God hasn't called me to worry about how everything will get done? He hasn't called me to have a perfectly clean house? Yep, that's right.

Jesus said, as recorded in Matthew 6:25-34, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own".

Mary had it right. I need to lay down my worries and take the opportunity each day to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. Nothing I could ever accomplish in a day is more important than that. You're welcome to join me, but watch your step. I haven't picked up all the legos off the floor just yet.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Plans for the new year

I love new beginnings. There is just something fresh about a new beginning. A new year ~ a chance to redefine what is really important (and what is really not). To reflect on the past and look forward to what lies ahead.

I have to admit, I haven't always looked forward to the future, sometimes I have faced it with a hefty dose of dread sprinkled with anxiety (and some doom & gloom on the side just for fun). But not this year...I am looking forward to 2007 with hope, anticipation, and peace. It's nice! What exactly am I looking forward to? Hmmm...well whatever God has planned for me.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

There is so much promise packed into that verse. I read it alot, and have since I was about 18 - the first time someone brought it to my attention. It really encouraged me. The problem is, it's taken me a long, long time to really believe and understand what it is saying. It's so easy to be hopeful when things are going my way. It's when life is smackin' me around a bit that I go "Hey, God - what's up with that? What about that promise You gave me? This is SO not what I wanted!" Therein lies the problem...the "I". The promise isn't "For I know the plans you have for yourself", but rather "I know the plans I have for you". I'm beginning to realize that the plans that God has for my life are so much more prosperous than the plans I make for myself.

He knows what is best for me, and what will bring me true joy and happiness. He also knows what I think will make me happy - and like the wise father that He is, He quite often says "no". What kind of a parent would He be if He gave me everything I wanted, all the time? I know how dangerous that would be with my boys (think sleep deprived, sugar buzzed maniacs playing baseball in my living room). Not only would it be destructive, it would be unloving.

Just like my boys don't have the maturity and insight to see the wisdom in being told "no", neither do I. How many times have I ignored God's "no" and chased after something that I thought would make me happy, only to find that when I finally get what I wanted so badly the excitement quickly fades. it wasn't nearly as great as I imagined. I am left disillusioned, empty. So I do what any mature christian would do - I throw a tantrum with God. "This is not what i wanted! How could You do this to me? Why won't you give me what I want??? Waa waa waa!" And off I go, stomping and pouting, and looking for something (or someone) to fill the void. The cycle starts all over again...and all the while God is standing there patiently saying "but that's not what I had in mind for you. MY plans for you will prosper you and not harm you. MY plans for you will give you hope. MY plans for you will give you a future." He invites us to come to Him, talk to Him, and He will listen.

And the whole key to this verse lies in the end..."you will find Me when you seek Me with all your heart." He doesn't necessarily respond when we hop up on His lap like He's the big cosmic santa claus, tell Him what we want, and then go our own way expecting our stockings to be filled. He wants us to seek Him with all of our heart. To seek the Giver, not the gift. That's when the blessings begin to pour out. More than we had even hoped for.

So that's why I have this hope for the upcoming year. I know that I can ask God for whatever my heart desires (and I have some things in mind). He may very well say yes (I know the joy of saying yes to my boys!) But I know that if He says no, I can rest in the assurance that He's got something even better than I had asked for. So if you hear me tantruming in the next room, please remind me of this.