Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Facing Facts

I have five kids.

A small, large family.

Way more than I ever imagined when I was 20.


I love each and every one of them.

So much it hurts sometimes.

But, wow!

Sometimes life gets pretty crazy around here.

Shoes... everywhere!

Four of these people are girls... (Need I say more?)

I heard this quote once...

"I thought I was such a godly person,
and then I had kids
and I realized how far that was from the truth."

Well... that certainly was true for me.

But, I'm also realizing I am living a new version of that quote.

I thought I was pretty together as a mom
and then I ended up with five kids
and I realized how far that was from the truth!

I can be a bit of a rebel when it comes to "how to" tips.

I have a hard time implementing what works
for someone else in my own home.

I would actually snicker at blog posts
that were about organizing a larger family.

Yeah, well...

Now I'm going to have to eat crow.

Because, I now am starting to see
as I crawl out of the mire of "Survival Mode"
after the addition of Ruthie,
that I need to face facts.

We have a lot of kids.

We have a little house.
(of which I am very thankful for)

I homeschool above mentioned kids.

Above mentioned kids are very creative.

And very prolific in their creativity.

There are many details that can send me over the edge.

So, I am starting by acknowledging the facts.

I desire to discover ways to simplify and streamline
and eliminate some chaos.

Thankfully, I am blessed with several friends who also have lots of kids.

Hint, hint....

So, lay it on me girls!

Help this newly awakened dreamer accept reality.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What He Has Done For Us

Isaiah 53 

Who believes what we've heard and seen?

 Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
   a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
   nothing to cause us to take a second look.

He was looked down on and passed over,
   a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
   We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
   our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought he brought it on himself,
   that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
   that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!

He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
   Through his bruises we get healed.

We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.
   We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong,
   on him, on him. 

 He was beaten, he was tortured,
   but he didn't say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
   and like a sheep being sheared,
   he took it all in silence.

Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
   and did anyone really know what was happening?

He died without a thought for his own welfare,
   beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
   threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he'd never hurt a soul
   or said one word that wasn't true. 

 Still, it's what God had in mind all along,
   to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
   so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life.

   And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.
Out of that terrible travail of soul,
   he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.

Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
   will make many "righteous ones,"
   as he himself carries the burden of their sins.

Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly—
   the best of everything, the highest honors—

Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch,
   because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
   he took up the cause of all the black sheep. 

"What wondrous love is this, oh my soul?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Entering the Kingdom - Excerpts from Matthew 19

"Let the children alone, don't prevent them
from coming to me. God's kingdom
is made up of people like these."

"Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"


"God is the One who is good. 
If you want to enter the life of God,
just do what he tells you."

"Do you have any idea how difficult it is
for the rich to enter God's kingdom?
Let me tell you, it's easier to gallop a camel
through a needle's eye than for the rich
to enter God's kingdom." 


 "Then who has any chance at all?" 


Jesus looked hard at them and said,
"No chance at all
if you think you can
pull it off yourself."


"Every chance in the world
if you trust God to do it." 

Little ones 
To Him belong, 
They are weak
But He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kingdom Lessons from Matthew 18

The way of the Kingdom of God is so opposite of what my flesh chooses on its own.

If someone hurts me, even just some tiny, hurtful comment, I quickly fly to defend myself and hurt back if I can. 

But this is not His way.

"If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—
work it out between the two of you. 
If he listens, you've made a friend. 
If he won't listen, take one or two others along
so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest,
and try again.
If he still won't listen, tell the church.
If he won't listen to the church,
you'll have to start over from scratch,
confront him with the need for repentance,
and offer again God's forgiving love."
Matthew 18:15-17

This whole chapter seems to be a pattern for us.

Is the order of these verses and that they are all together important? 

Do they give more insight into living the way of the Kingdom?

It is not about us being right.

It is not about condemnation, penance, punishment.

It is about concern for another.

It is about patience.

It is about mercy.

It is about forgiveness.

When a fellow believer has hurt us, 
we go to her, talk with her, 
give her many chances to see her sin and repent.
Right after those verses, 
Jesus talks about the importance of our words
and how powerful it is for us to get together
with another believer and agree in prayer.

Should we be praying for the believer who hurt us? 
(No gossip, no hurtful chatter...)

Immediately following this is Peter's question
about how many times we are to forgive.

Jesus rounds out His answer by telling the Kingdom story
about forgiveness. What happens to the servant who
was forgive much who refuses to forgive in return?

Forgive, for we have been forgiven all.

"The king summoned the man and said, 'You evil servant!
I forgave your entire debt when you begged me for mercy.
Shouldn't you be compelled to be merciful to
your fellow servant who asked for mercy?"
Matthew 18:32

Kingdom living does not come from ourselves.

Forgiveness is not always easy and is not always what we want to do.

It at times is an act of sheer obedience.

Work hard to show the results of your salvation,
obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
For God is working in you, giving you the desire
and the power to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:12-13 NLT

Be honest before the Lord.

Ask Him to give you the desire and the power to forgive.

He wants us to follow Him, rely on Him, take the yoke He gives us to bear.

He will not leave us alone, to do His way on our own.

He who has forgiven much will help us to forgive as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


"For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."
Matthew 12:34b NIV

"You have minds like a snake pit! 
How do you suppose what you say is worth 
anything when you are so foul-minded?
It's your heart, not the dictionary, 
that gives meaning to your words.
A good person produces good deeds 
and words season after season.
An evil person is a blight on the orchard. 
Let me tell you something:
Every one of these careless words 
is going to come back to haunt you.
There will be a time of Reckoning. 
Words are powerful; take them seriously.
Words can be your salvation. 
Words can also be your damnation." 
Matthew 12:33-37 MSG

 My words prove what is in my heart.

They are powerful.

Words have the power of life and death.

There are days that I wish that I would have just kept my mouth shut.

My words were toxic.

Shriveling the little lives in my care.

Haunting my mind later I wish that I could 
shove them back down my throat.

Recycled thoughts and words that come from the old me.

They cannot give life.

They do not thrive and produce healthy, plump fruit.

Fresh and running clean, I go to the Source.

Living Water flows down, cooling and saturating.

He cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.
Rivers of living water will brim and spill out
of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way,
just as the Scripture says."
John 7:37-38 MSG

"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.
In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself
but only by being joined to the vine,
you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me."
John 15:4 MSG

Separate, independent, I smother and destroy.

Attached, dependent, the sap of Your life pumps and flows.

I come. 

I drink deep.

Overflow, yes, overflow!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shades of Grey

Today I got to thinking about what we, as Believers, are to do when we see another Believer doing something that we don't think they should be doing.

And so I spent an little time digging around in The Word to see what it had to say.

Please know that my humble blog post is simply that. My humble findings as I sought to find some answers.

Please, do not take this as all there is in Scripture on this subject.

Just know that I wanted to share what I found, because I think this is something we all may wonder about and need to know.

OK, back to the subject at hand....

Now, sometimes that "thing" is black and white sin.

And Scripture tells us what to do.

"Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, 
correct him. If he responds, forgive him.
Even if it's personal against you
and repeated seven times through the day,
and seven times he says, 'I'm sorry,
I won't do it again,' forgive him."
Luke 17:3-4

If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—
work it out between the two of you.
If he listens, you've made a friend.
If he won't listen, take one or two others along
so that the presence of witnesses will keep things honest,
and try again. If he still won't listen, tell the church.
If he won't listen to the church,
you'll have to start over from scratch,
confront him with the need for repentance,
and offer again God's forgiving love. 
Mathew 18:15-17


Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith.
Go after those who take the wrong way.
Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin.
The sin itself stinks to high heaven. 
Jude 22-23

And sometimes it's not necessarily black and white.

Sometimes it's just something that we feel is wrong for us.

And so, we start to think it is wrong for everyone else, too.

Forget about deciding what's right for each other. 
Here's what you need to be concerned about:
that you don't get in the way of someone else,
making life more difficult than it already is.
Romans 14:13

Cultivate your own relationship with God, 
but don't impose it on others.
Romans 14:22

Don't pick on people, jump on their failures,
criticize their faults— unless, of course,
you want the same treatment.
That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging.
It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face
and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.
Do you have the nerve to say,
'Let me wash your face for you,'
when your own face is distorted by contempt?
It's this whole traveling road-show mentality
all over again, playing a holier-than-thou
part instead of just living your part.
Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face,
and you might be fit to offer
a washcloth to your neighbor. 
Matthew 7:1-5

So, do I just sit back and stew if I am concerned about my brother or sister and what they are doing?

Do I just go along and "live and let live"?

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior:
Ask yourself what you want people to do for you,
then grab the initiative and do it for them.
Add up God's Law and Prophets and this is what you get. 
Matthew 7:12

Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray.
Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers,
letting God know your concerns.
Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness,
everything coming together for good,
will come and settle you down.
It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces
worry at the center of your life. 
Philippians 4:6

I think that first of all we should pray for them. We should lay our concern before the Lord. 

Make your worry a prayer request.

And ask the Lord for the opportunity and the words to share your concern.

Watch the way you talk... Say only what helps, each word a gift.
Ephesians 4:29

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting,
profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive.
Ephesians 4:31

As I looked through The Word this afternoon, what really jumped out at me is that I need to make sure that I am living a life wholly devoted to my Lord. 

I have enough on my own plate to be worrying about what is on yours!

I want to live in a way that points others to Jesus, instead of pushing them away because of my judgmental criticisms. 

Oh Lord, help me to love You and others with all that I do and say!

Seeing the Kingdom

The disciples came up and asked, "Why do you tell stories?"
He replied, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom.
You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight;
it hasn't been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart
for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is
no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears.
That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people 
toward receptive insight. In their present state they can 
stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they're blue
in the face and not get it."
Matthew 13:10-14

The kingdom of God is here. 

It is all around us.

We are able to walk and live and share it, now.

Jesus came to show us how to live in it.

He came to show us how to live.

I want to have a ready heart,

Open and receptive to insight and understanding.

I want to have my thinking changed (Romans 12:2), 

So that I am kingdom minded as I go through my day.

A farmer planted seed. 
As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, 
and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; 
it sprouted quickly but didn't put down roots, 
so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. 
Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, 
it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth,
and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

"Are you listening to this? Really listening?" 
Matthew 13:3-9

May my heart by the good earth.

May I have God-blessed eyes – eyes that see!

May I have God-blessed ears – ears that hear!

Teach me about your kingdom, Lord!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Learning the Unforced Rhythms of Grace

Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: 
"Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.
You've concealed your ways from sophisticates
and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly
to ordinary people. Yes, Father,
that's the way you like to work."
Matthew 11:25-26

Just ordinary people.

That's who God reveals His ways to.

He likes to work that way.

So, why do I try to be more than I am?

Why would I want to be above others, to hold myself apart and aloof?

Why would I want to pretend to have no problems, no issues, no weaknesses?

I'm just ordinary. 

And that's good enough for God.

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest.
Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
Matthew 11:28-30

I want to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Not rigid, not forced, not contrived.

God learned, free and light.

Life giving and restful.

Keeping company with Jesus, walking and working with Him.

Show me how to live this way, Lord. 

I want to learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

He holds my life in His hands

"Don't be bluffed into silence 
by the threats of bullies. 
There's nothing they can do 
to your soul, your core being. 
Save your fear for God 
who holds your entire life —
body and soul — in His hands."
Matthew 10:28

Coldly it comes and grips me.

It silences me as I draw in and begin to fret.

Rehearsing all that could happen, might happen.

My bullies may not be in the form of people threatening to harm me physically.

But in my mind, as that cold fear grips me, my bullies are just as real as any with blood coursing through their veins.

In the midst of the fear I am being lied to.

Convinced that my bullies have power over me.

Power to do harm. To hurt me. To end my life.

A big fat bluff.

That's all that is.

They have no power over me.

They do not determine the length of my life or the destiny of my soul.

When I get really afraid 
I come to you in trust. 
I'm proud to praise God; 
fearless now, I trust in God. 
What can mere mortals do?
Psalm 56:3-4

Pushed to the wall, I called to God;
      from the wide open spaces, he answered.
   God's now at my side and I'm not afraid;
      who would dare lay a hand on me?
   God's my strong champion;
      I flick off my enemies like flies.
   Far better to take refuge in God

      than trust in people;
   Far better to take refuge in God

      than trust in celebrities. 

I was right on the cliff-edge, ready to fall,
      when God grabbed and held me.
   God's my strength, he's also my song,
      and now he's my salvation.

I didn't die. I lived!
      And now I'm telling the world what God did.
   God tested me, he pushed me hard,
      but he didn't hand me over to Death.

Thank you for responding to me;
      you've truly become my salvation!
Verses above from Psalm 118   

My life is in God's hands.

He controls the destiny of my life and my soul.

Regardless of what happens I know that He is in control. (Lamentations 3:37)

I can rest in Him and trust Him.

"But blessed is the man who trusts me, God,
   the woman who sticks with God.
They're like trees replanted in Eden,
   putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers,
   never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts,
   bearing fresh fruit every season."
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tend to Your Knitting

"As I live and breathe," God says,
      "every knee will bow before me;
   Every tongue will tell the honest truth
      that I and only I am God."
So tend to your knitting. You've got your hands full 
just taking care of your own life before God. 
Romans 14:12

I'm having one of those Quiet Times this morning.

It started out when I discovered a chapter or two in Romans that I had not yet read in The Message.

As I read Paul's words in this fresh way, I immediately saw how they related to something going on in the life of a dear friend of mine.

I quickly found myself wanting to type out several verses and zip them off to some people that I thought could learn a thing or two from the passage I was reading. 

I practically giggled with glee at the thought of proudly proclaiming these verses to those I think need them and seeing them crumble under the Truth.


That's when I could almost feel a tap-tap-tap on my shoulder.
A feeling of unease and realization crept in to my belly. 

Once again, I saw that these verses are for me. 

I need to read them.

I need to learn from them.

I need to incorporate them into my life.


Here are some of the verses I was reading:

Welcome with open arms fellow believers 
who don't see things the way you do.
And don't jump all over them 
every time they do or say something 
you don't agree with—
even when it seems that they are 
strong on opinions but weak in the faith department.
Remember, they have their own history 
to deal with. Treat them gently. 
Romans 14:1

None of us are permitted to insist on our own way 
in these matters. It's God we are answerable to—
all the way from life to death 
and everything in between—not each other.
That's why Jesus lived and died and then lived again:
 so that he could be our Master across the entire range 
of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other. 
So where does that leave you when you criticize a brother?
And where does that leave you when you condescend to a sister?
I'd say it leaves you looking pretty silly—or worse.
Eventually, we're all going to end up kneeling side by side
in the place of judgment, facing God.
Your critical and condescending ways 
aren't going to improve your position there one bit.
 Romans 14:7-12

Forget about deciding what's right for each other.
Here's what you need to be concerned about:
that you don't get in the way of someone else,
making life more difficult than it already is. 
Romans 14:13
So let's agree to use all our energy
in getting along with each other.
Help others with encouraging words;
don't drag them down by finding fault. 
Romans 14:19

Cultivate your own relationship with God,
but don't impose it on others.
You're fortunate if your behavior and
your belief are coherent.
Romans 14:22

Life can be pretty hard sometimes.

We are all fallible.

We are all loved by God.

And we all need Jesus.

I want to be stepping in the direction of grace.

I want to offer gentle words of encouragement, instead of harsh words of criticism.

It is so easy to see the fault of someone else. 

It is so easy to be offended.

It is so easy to cross to the other side of the road and just keep on walking.

It is so easy to read some Bible verses and think that they apply to someone else.

Oh, Father, please, help me to stop taking the easy way. 
Just as You have been so gentle and patient 
and full of grace with me, 
help me to be the same 
to those You have placed in my life.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quotes from "Dancing With my Father" by Sally Clarkson

"The key is, when our heart is troubled we need to believe in God. Maintaining a moment by moment walk in the power of the Holy Spirit means that we continually practice trusting in God, believing in His reality, living in the confidence that He will work all things together for our good."

"Belief is the antidote for a troubled heart: believing in God, believing that He is with us, believing that He is good, believing that He can take care of our trouble, believing in His presence with us every minute, and not looking to the limitations of our circumstances!"

"Walking in joy, by the resources of the Holy Spirit who abides in me, is simply believing in Him, turning our eyes to Him, leaning on Him. Simple faith."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Be still

I find myself wanting to sit in the sand.

Looking out at the endless waves.

No sound but the waves crashing on the beach...

The birds crying in the sky.

I want to breathe deep. 

To let my breath carry my thoughts up high.

To lift my hands to the One who knows all.

I feel the weight of burdens that are not mine, but carry because I can....

To help lighten the load, to listen, to intercede.

I long to "be still and know".

Because He is. 

And I am not.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Everything You're to Be

"Our God gives you everything you need, 
makes you everything you're to be." 
2 Thessalonians 1:2

You know, I didn't even realize what I was doing when I imported the photo above.

You see, my daughter, Sophie, took that picture...

With her first camera.

And she took that picture to help her little sister enter a contest.

I think it's really good.

And so, because it is sitting in my iPhoto, I sniped it.


But as I typed out the verse above, I realized that Sophie's picture is just the right one to go with that verse.

Everything a maple tree needs to be a maple tree (well, except for the soil, sun and water... which God provides, too...) is in one of those seeds.

God makes sure that it has all it needs to become a tree.

When Paul wrote the verse above, he was encouraging the Thessalonians that God would give them everything they needed to be what He made them to be.

And I believe that promise is for you and me, too.

And Sophie.

And all our kids.

What a awesome thing to pray for our kids, our husbands, our friends, our moms and dads... for anyone!

For ourselves.

That "our God will make you fit for what He's called you to be, pray that He'll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with His own energy so that it all amounts to something." (2 Thessalonians 1:11)

It comes from Him.

The call.

The "stuff" we need.

The energy.

He even allows the troubles that make us fit for The Kingdom. (see 2 Thessalonians 1:5.)

"If your life honors the name of Jesus, he will honor you. Grace is behind and through all of this, our God giving Himself freely, the Master, Jesus Christ, giving Himself freely."
2 Thessalonians 1:12

When I give up my life, to Him, to do what He wants me to do...

He gives me all that I need...

He makes me everything I am to be....

He makes me fit for my calling....

He gives me the energy....

And makes my feeble efforts into something that matters...

That is a life that honors the name of Jesus. 
He has given Himself freely to me.

I am giving myself freely to Him?