Friday, January 25, 2008

Grandma's Hands

'Five Generations of Women'GRANDMA'S HANDS
Grandma, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. She didn't move, just sat with her head down staring at her hands. When I sat down beside her she didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if she was OK. Finally, not really wanting to disturb her but wanting to check on her at the same time, I asked her if she was OK. She raised her head and looked at me and smiled. 'Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking,' she said in a clear voice strong. 'I didn't mean to disturb you, grandma, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK,' I explained to her. 'Have you ever looked at your hands,' she asked. 'I mean really looked at your hands?' I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point she was making. Grandma smiled and related this story:
'Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life. 'They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child, my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots. They held my husband and wiped my tears when he went off to war. 'They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent. They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son. Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote my letters to him and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse. 'They have held my children and grandchildren, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken,dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. 'These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of life.But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.'
I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandma's hands and led her home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and husband I think of grandma. I know she has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel His hands upon my face.
~ Author unknown

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Our Shepherd '\o/'

Here is one of my favorite worship songs....I've been singing it all day!!

You Are In Control
You are my Shepherd, I have no needs
You lead me by peaceful streams
And You refresh my life!
You hold my hand and You guide my steps
I can walk through the valley of death
And I, I won't be afraid.

Because You are in control! You are in control!
You are in control! You are in control!

You cause everything to work together
You truly have a sovereign plan!
And You know who I am,
You made who I am,
And You love who I am.

1. a person who herds, tends, and guards sheep.
2. a person who protects, guides, or watches over a person or group of people.
3. the Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

6. to tend or guard as a shepherd: to shepherd the flock.
7. to watch over carefully.

1. protector, guardian, defender, keeper.
Thank you, Lord, for being our Protector, our Guardian, our Defender, and our Keeper...for being our Shepherd. Thank you for watching over us carefully, for guiding us, and for tending to our EVERY need.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What if.....

"What if......June comes and you don't have a job yet?"

"What house doesn't sell?"

"What if......we buy a house and the job falls through?"

"What get a job offer before June and they want you to start right away? "

These are some of the questions Vince has been getting from me lately. And his response is always the same, "God knows our needs, Hon. He knows I need a job, He knows we need a home. God is in the details, and He will work it all out for our good." Wow, I love that man. I love his unwavering faith and confidence in the promises of God. I love how patient he is when I worry, and the way he confidently and lovingly reassures me that everything will be alright. And I love how GOD always pulls through and proves Himself faithful, time and time again! He is patient and loving when I worry (even though I know it frustrates and disappoints Him when I do) and when I seem to forget all the times He has been soooo faithful to me! He has brought me through the desert, a long and dry season of loneliness and searching. And now as I stand on the edge of my promised land, my toes touching the plush green grass of my future, I remember...

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live..." Deut. 4:9.

"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands." Deut. 7:9

I've been reading in Isaiah 66 since Sunday (see Monday's blog about Vinny's verse). As I read verse 9 of that chapter, God reminded me that He is faithful to finish what He starts:

" 'Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?' says the LORD. 'Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?' says your God." Isaiah 66:9

God did not bring us this far to leave us homeless, or jobless! He has brought us together to create a new family, to create a marriage that reflects His love, and to accomplish His purposes in each of our lives. Jesus came to give us life, an abundant life not a life of squalor!! Why is it so hard for me to remember that sometimes?
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10
I know that doesn't mean that we won't struggle....we have and will. Things will not always work out perfectly, at least not by our human standards. Thank God that His standards and His vision are so much broader than our own! He is our Provider. He provides EVERYTHING that we need (note: need, not want). And He tells us not to worry.
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' (where will you work?) or 'What shall we drink?' (where will we live?) or 'What shall we wear?' (what if...what if...what if???) 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 6:31-34
What if??? What if??? What if I trusted God! What if I truly believed Him to be our Provider, as much as I profess to! What if I accept, and recognize the abundant life that He promises to provide, and is in fact providing to us already?!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Home is where the heart is

And right now my heart is in two homes at once!! I feel like I have two families right now...the boys and I in Minnesota, and Vince & the kids in Wisconsin. It is getting harder and harder to be apart. Not only for Vince and I, but we are seeing it become increasingly difficult for the kids too. We get together on weekends either here or there, depending on what the kids have going on and if Vince or I are on the worship team at our churches on Sunday. Sometimes we are all together but half the time my boys are not with us. That is hard. When I talk to them during the weekends when they are at their dad's, they always ask what we are all doing. They miss me and feel left out. Sigh... And I know there is some jealousy over me spending time with the rest of the kids without them. We are working through that though, and it's all part of blending our families. God is doing just that, we can see His hand at work in so many areas! Vince and I truly feel blessed at all that God is doing in our lives, and we don't want to seem ungrateful to God by complaining, but the truth is that it is hard.

It was particularily hard to leave yesterday. Hopie just sobbed, wrapped her arms around me crying "I don't want you to go!!" I just about lost it right there. This was after an emotional morning at church, where a woman introduced herself to me after the service as a friend of Amy's. They had battled cancer together and became close friends during their treatments. She shared with me that her cancer is now terminal. That's when my tears started (and pretty much went on for the rest of the day). She wanted to tell me how happy she was to see me in Vince &  the kids' lives, how she knew that Amy wanted someone to love and care for her children, and here I was. As a mother, I truly can't imagine getting to that point...entrusting my children to the care of another. Saying goodbye. I know how hard it was to leave Hope yesterday, I can only imagine...

She looked so strong, this woman, this mother, who was holding my hand firmly and smiling through her tears. Her heart full of faith, and grief, and hope. The world looks differently through her eyes, I'm sure, and I appreciated her affirmation of my place in Vince & the kids' lives. This is not just about Vince and I falling in love. This thing that God is doing in our lives has far greater significance. We both have known that all along, and God continues to confirm that to us - as He did with Vinny yesterday. After I finished talking to this woman, Vinny wanted to share what he had done in Sunday school that day. His teacher had told the class to open their bibles to any page and point to a verse, whatever verse their finger landed on. And she invited them to let God speak to them through that verse. Vinny opened his bible, and pointed to this scripture: Isaiah 66:13, "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you". He told his teacher that to him the verse meant that he'd be comforted when they move to Minnesota, and that the mother talked about in the verse was me. More tears!!! I could say nothing, but just hug that boy.

Vince and I are going through a bible study called "God Breathes on Blended Families". In it the authors talk about the need for us to love eachother's children like our own. I will admit, this has been a challenging thought for me. How in the world would I ever come to the point of loving someone else's children like I love my own boys? How would that ever truly be possible? I mean, I love my boys with all that I am. I gave them life ~ or more accurately, God gave them life through me. I knew I could love my husband's children deeply...but like I love my own? What part of my heart would that kind of love come from? Well, after this past weekend, I'm not asking those questions anymore. I don't have to wonder anymore. Because now I know.

Friday, January 11, 2008

FUN-GLAD-ULATIONS! (and other Kyle-isms)

Fun-glad-ulations: This morning, I was explaining to Kyle why he couldn't strip naked in the living room anymore to change his clothes. See, Vince and I are starting to implement some things with the kids NOW that we want in place in our new home together. Things like picking up after ourselves, helping out consistently with chores, mealtimes and clean up, doing daily devotions or "bible time" as we call it. There are a few more things unique to the boys and I that more civilized households probably already have in place, including (but not limited to) getting naked and subsequently getting dressed in private rather than in the living room. Oh, and peeing with the door closed. That's going to take some time. Anyway, I reminded Kyle that when we are all living together there will be girls in the house and no one (including the boys, I'm sure) wants to see his naked butt in the living room! He asked again when we will be getting married, and I said in five months, June 28th. (Aaaaak! Five months!! Did I just say that???) Kyle's eyes got wide, he got a big smile on his face, threw his arms around me and exclaimed, "FUN-GLAD-ULATIONS!!!!" Ha! I like that better than congratulations, it's much more descriptive. I think I will be using that from now on, just so you know!

Other Kyle-isms that I don't think I've mentioned before (there are many, many more but these are the most recent):

Dyna-poleo-mite : The movie Kyle wanted to watch one day, what d'ya think? GOSH!!! It's pretty much my favorite movie.

Clock-u-lator : The device that Kyle uses to wake himself up in the morning, otherwise known as an alarmclock =)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Chocolate and prayer

"I like you as a mom"! Kyle told me that this morning, as I got him his granola bar and juice. Little punkin! That is so nice to hear, especially after the frustrating mornings we have had in our house the past couple days. After having two weeks off, it was a little hard for the boys to transition back into the school routine. Wednesday and Thursday mornings were fraught with a significant amount of whining, grumbling, and stalling - and the kids weren't too happy either. But not today! They were up & out of bed on time, got ready for school with little input from me, and were even ready to go early enough to watch a little tv (Nick) and play a little gameboy (Kyle).

So, what made this morning go so much more smoothly? I think it was a combination of two things: chocolate and prayer. Just so you know, I am not above bribing my children. I count it as one of the most successful parenting techniques there is. Get out of bed and get dressed, you get chocolate. Works for me! And it is pretty effective on my six year old too =) But I'm versed enough in mommyhood to know that bribes only work on the short term. It may have worked today to get Kyle up & going, but there is no guarantee that it will work tomorrow. When that child makes up his mind that he is or isn't going to do something, it takes an act of God to move him. And that is just what I am counting act of God. Many, many acts of God. Every single day. That's the only way I make it as a rely on the ONLY source of strength, wisdom, and patience that there is....Jesus. I simply don't have enough within myself to do it. Oh, some days I try! I forget to go to God, and I try to handle things on my own. Train wreck. I know exactly when I do this. When I am faced with an unruly child and I find myself doing the "big sigh", that's a clue that I'm trying to muster up the patience within myself to deal with it. And time after time I find that it's just not there. Not enough to sustain me for very long anyway. So I am reminded to take it to the Lord....everyday. Every morning I wake up thirsty, and I need to come to the fountain to be refreshed and renewed.

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters...As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:1,10-11
I know without a doubt, that one of the greatest callings on my life is to be a mother. To raise my children to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. To equip them, as much as I can, to fulfill the calling that He has placed on their lives. Oh, that I would wake up every morning reminded of this! It makes the little things seem that much more insignificant. But wait a minute....they really aren't insignificant now, are they? (hey, who said that?). It is in the little things that I need to let the light of Christ shine through. It is only through God that I can have the patience and the wisdom to deal with the little impart patience and wisdom to my children. If I can't do that on a daily basis, why in the world would they listen to me when I try to guide them in the big things of life?

As I apply those words of Isaiah to my life, I see that I am thirsty. I desperately need God to send down His rain from Heaven. Without it, I am dry and parched. And when I open my soul to Him every day, through prayer and reading His Word, to receive the water that He is eager to pour out...He will not only satisfy my thirst, but will accomplish His purposes in my life. He will yield the seed for me to sow into my children. God, do ever I need You. Help me Lord, to be a faithful sower of Your seed. To accomplish the purposes that You have laid out for me as a mother...not only for my precious boys, but for the beautiful children that You are entrusting me with in just a few short months. Let our home be a house of peace, a house of prayer, a home that reflects Your image and design. A home that points our children to Jesus.

"All your children shall be taught by the LORD, And great shall be the peace of your children." Isaiah 54:13