Monday, January 30, 2012

Hallelujah!


So Luke just came inside, excited that he'd waved and said hello to our neighbor and gotten a wave from him. Then, as if it's an afterthought, he looks down at the snap on his blue jeans and asks, "Will you clip this..." (meaning, will you snap this?) "...because I tee-teed outside. It got on my head and on my pants." Sure enough, there's a wet spot in his hair! So, naturally, I had to ask, "How did tee-tee get in your hair?" "Oh, it was just being silly." Of course it was. This all begs the question, "Just what did you wave to the neighbor with?"

In other exciting news, at the ripe old age of 34 1/2, after being married for 13 years, and having given birth to four children, I feel that I can finally consider myself a real wife and mom. Take a look at this:





Yes, that is real homemade bread that I made by myself without a bread maker, and it's actually good! And pretty, too. I don't say any of this to brag. I share it because I'm shocked and excited and thankful to God for answering my and Luke's prayer for the bread to actually rise! Yay!


So since I was feeling so bold and brave, we decided to tackle a new homemade pizza crust recipe and...score again! It was yummy and pretty, too! What better combination is there than yummy and pretty?


I feel that I've reached another level of homemakerdom. Now I just have to do it again the next time. And look better when the picture is taken. I'm debating whether or not to leave this on here, but just to make you feel better, I'll leave with you the fact that I was not able to bake, do laundry, AND look good all in the same day.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

ONE

As you can clearly see from a quick look at my life, it is nothing special, glamorous, or especially meaningful on the outside. Sometimes someone will ask me, "What do you do all day?" and I have no idea how to answer. I know that my bottom rarely hits a chair and that I'm exhausted at the end of most days, but I can't really tell you what I do. Wash clothes? Clean up toilet water from lots of other places besides the toilet? Send lots of emails because it's just about the only way I can communicate above all the noise and chaos? Cook? Sweep the floor five times a day? It all seems so lame and insignificant.

I have found myself over the last couple of years searching for the Lord, His Word, and His wisdom as for treasure, as He encourages us to do. In my pursuit of Him, I have found Him satisfying as He promises He will be, yet I also find myself always wanting more. The other night as I taught the preschool kids a lesson at church, though, I saw His pursuit of us and it tugged at my heart.

We talk of seeking the Lord, but how often do we ponder His pursuit of us? He has gone to the greatest lengths possible to find and keep us, yet we whine that there is not enough proof of His existence, or at least His goodness, for us to believe. Jesus gives the picture of the shepherd leaving his flock to find that one lost sheep no matter how long it takes and of a woman tearing through her house desperately searching for the one lost coin out of the ten she had. My mind flashed to images of me looking in every nook and cranny of our house searching for lost hairbrushes and library books. You can be sure of the fact that I’ve exhausted every effort trying to find these things and you can also believe that I’d be throwing some kind of celebration if they turned up.

Well, that’s exactly what the shepherd and the woman with the coin did. They rejoiced and they made sure the neighbors knew how happy they were. God shows us through these stories the diligence and passion with which He pursues His people and the rejoicing in heaven when he finds one. One. That’s the amazing part. The significance of one.

How many people have lived on this earth since creation? I don’t know, but it’s a lot. Billions. God created each one and knows each one intimately, so it should not surprise us that He rejoices as much over ONE being saved as when hundreds or thousands are saved at a time at a Billy Graham conference or some such event. The Word is full of instances where Jesus changed an individual life. Yes, He preached to crowds, but many of those people turned away when the rubber met the road. But the people He touched individually…you see a faith that is firm. (Okay, there was Judas, but let’s call him the exception to the rule.)

We see significance in numbers. We build bigger churches so more people will come. We measure the success of a church by the size of the crowd. I am guilty of measuring the success of my walk with the Lord by the number of people I’ve lead to Him. And while I think it would certainly be a good thing to point many more people to Christ than I have, I am trying to see the significance of my life, and all lives, in the way God does. We should mourn as much when one life is lost as when thousands are lost. And we should rejoice as much when one person turns to Christ as when multitudes do.

God sees the significance of each life as immeasurable. Each soul that escapes death is a reason to have a party, so shouldn’t we be about impacting as many Ones as we can? I will probably never teach hundreds or thousands of people at a time. Okay, I was part of sharing the gospel with hundreds in Guatemala, and we all see that as very significant. But doesn’t the Lord see reaching out to a neighbor at home with a kind gesture in just the same way?

Don’t minimize the importance of your potential impact on the kingdom. If you’re like me, and your life is mostly a bunch of seemingly insignificant, mundane moments strung together with a few highlights here and there, don’t miss what the Lord wants to do in those unimpressive moments. As we look back on times in our lives, it’s usually those moments we don’t even realize the importance of that have the most significance.

The word of truth spoken. The gesture of love. The life lived above reproach in a way that looks different than the world around you. Your attitude. Your approach to a tough situation.

If you’d like an amazing real-life example of how one life can impact another when a person just lives for the Lord and obeys His Word, read Same Kind of Different as Me. I’m sure people could drum up some doubt over some of the story or some theological objections if they dug deep enough. But I see it as the account of one woman who was afraid to miss what the Lord had for her and obeyed by doing one simple thing one day a week. And, oh my, what the Lord can do with one little act of obedience and love. With ONE heart sold out to Him. With one kernel of wheat. And it mattered so much to ONE man. And now it matters to thousands more.

Go and be the hands and feet of Jesus as He seeks that ONE.

So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.”

Luke 15:3-10

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Parable of a Baby and His Fork

One day I'm going to take a picture of something and put it on here, just to make this whole thing prettier. And maybe one day someone with some bloggy expertise will come along and give this whole thing a face lift and make it more appealing. Or maybe my blog is just going to be what it is now. Not too beautiful on the outside and with nothing spectacularly appealing about it, but just what God wants it to be. A place for His work to be shown.

So Sam is doing this highly annoying thing at most every meal now. Since he's advanced to the ripe old age of fifteen months old, he's pretty sure he can handle the whole eating thing all by himself now. I'll get something on his spoon or fork, like oatmeal or chicken pot pie, and move it toward his mouth. But just when it gets within reach of his short, fat little arm, he'll reach out and grab that fork. Then one of two things usually happen. Either most of the food falls in his lap or he lucks out and gets the fork to his mouth before gravity does a number on him.

But after that is the part that really gets on my last nerve. He will not give that darn fork back to me. I have to wrestle it out of his hands, and let me tell you that wrestling with a baby over a sharp object is dangerous. I prefer that all of us keep all the eyes God gave us. Vision is a plus, in my opinion. Then I find myself trying to reason with someone who licks deodorant. "Sam, if you just give me the fork, I'll give you another bite. Sam, really, just give me the fork. Sam." And then I just rip the fork from his plump little fingers and he cries until I get the next bite ready for him to grab. Glamour. That's the word you're looking for to describe my life.

Of course, in this daily struggle, it's plain to see how we do just the same thing with God. It's the whole holding life so tightly we suffocate it mentality. God begs us to let go of our earthly security and success and all the stuff we just know will make us happy so He can give us the real blessings. But we want an empty, sharp, dangerous fork because that seems best to us and our little deodorant licking minds. After all, that's where the food comes from, right? The fork? No, dope. It comes from your mama and the plate she fixed you, so let go of that stinking fork so I can give you what you need, which just so happens to be the thing you want. You think you want the fork, but what you really want is the food!

Sorry, I got lost in that analogy somewhere. Really, though, we just can't see how giving up our lives will save them. We can't see how the seed being crushed and dying brings forth fruit. We can't see how acknowledging our spiritual bankruptcy leads to us possessing heaven and earth. We can't see. That's why it's called faith. Little baby, your mama loves you, and if you'll just hand over your fork, she will always give you what you really need and want. That's what mamas do. And that's what God wants to do for us, too. And sometimes you might be surprised. He might even sneak in a little bite of cake instead of the green beans you were expecting.

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs." Matthew 5:3

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Treasure Hunt

I'm so sorry that I've been slacking in my blogging. I've been much too busy with my two new hobbies: washing dishes and looking for stuff. I guess I've been washing dishes for years, but I've had to step up the pace lately what with all this cooking real food business. Chicken pot pie used to be a two dish meal. Making it from scratch, I lost count after five dirty dishes. And it wasn't even really from scratch because I used a frozen pie crust that I already had. (And Maddie's comment regarding the meal? "That was good, Mama. The crust was my favorite part.")

When I'm not cooking and washing dishes, I'm playing treasure hunter. Only instead of valuable treasure, I'm looking for library books and toy cars. Today I mixed it up a little and looked for my sunglasses for a while. It seems like, at any given moment, there are at least 34 items missing in or around our house. There are some on the High Priority (aka, there's actually a chance they might still be found) List, but many have moved to the Learn to Live Without It List. I've almost given up hope on my hairbrush. It's been AWOL for a month, at least. I'm not sure how an item as large as a hair brush can go missing in a house that's not really all that large, but it has happened. It wouldn't be so bad if one of my worst qualities wasn't an obsessive desire to have everything accounted for and in its place at all times. I need help.

You're actually lucky to be getting anything from me tonight as I'm suffering greatly from my chicken broth injury I incurred this morning while making soup for Bible study. You better watch out when pulling that little tab on the top of the chicken broth carton. Those things should come with a warning label. Despite the fact that my finger hurts to the point where I've considered taking ibuprofen, I'm toughing it out and tapping away at the keyboard. Dedication. That's what you call this.

In other exciting news, I've come to a place where my mind isn't so messed with. (It's still very messed up, I assure you, just not so messed with.) You might remember (or you might not, because I highly doubt you actually remember unimportant details from my life) that I was reading Irresistible Revolution and it was really throwing me for a loop. Every once in a while, the Lord likes to ruffle my feathers, I think, just to keep me on my toes. (How do you like those two fun phrases packed into one sentence?)

From time to time, I'll get to a place with the Lord where I am forced to examine my life to see how it's measuring up to God's Word and His calling. I begin to look for the treasure that's been hidden from me. He has brought me to a point where I do not want to be a complacent, lukewarm, pew-sitting Christian. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good, and I want more where that came from. In Isaiah 58, the Lord tells us that He isn't interested in our empty displays of religion for our own selfish reasons. He wants obedience. Obedience in what way? By showing love to those in need: the poor, the hungry, the oppressed. There's only one problem. Living a middle class American lifestyle, I don't rub shoulders with many truly poor people. A good friend and I decided that we're the poorest people we really know!

I mean, there's always the option of running downtown for 90 minutes on a Saturday morning and handing out food to homeless people. I'm not knocking that, but somehow I think it's more effective when we're actually able to build some sort of relationship with people. Likewise, I don't want to just donate some money to a reputable Christian charity, pat myself on the back, and go to bed. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with that, and the support must come from somewhere for these needed ministries to operate. However, I think far too often we do easy things that make us feel good about ourselves and don't really make our whole lives about being Jesus to the world.

In seeking the Lord on this whole thing, I found myself weighing my options. Do we need to move right smack in the middle of "poor" people so we can minister to them? Do we need to sell all our earthly belongings and give the money to those in dire need? God, I don't want to miss the boat, so please tell me where the port is and what time the ship leaves! I really feel like, many times, we've been so busy being comfortable and complacent that we've missed the boat big time. It's halfway to Australia and we're still standing on the shore. It's so important to ask the hard questions and not just assume our lives match up with God's Word just because they match up with most "Christians" around us.

You can probably guess how all of this turned out. The Lord reminded me how so many times in His Word (especially in the Old Testament), He uses a physical, literal thing to point to something much deeper on a spiritual level. I want to be in a place of total surrender and sensitivity that if the Lord asks us to geographically go somewhere different and hard, I would obey. But this time He reminded me (mostly by putting them right in my face) of all the people who are poor in spirit all around me. While physical poverty is a very real need, and one I am not to ignore, spiritual poverty is of even greater concern. Physical poverty will end with this world, but spiritual bankruptcy will last for eternity if not remedied here and now.

As I look all around at the great needs, though, it's easy to become overwhelmed. How can I possibly invest in those around me on a regular basis while my time is so limited?Well, just like we invest in the physically needy when our bank account doesn't look like it's overflowing. By faith. We speak of giving monetarily by faith when it seems we don't have enough, but we sometimes don't think of our time in the same terms. I'm not suggesting overcommiting to things on your own agenda. I'm suggesting using your time wisely while surrendering it all to God, with your priorities matching His. He can multiply our time just as He does our dollars.

So, I am seeking to serve the Lord's purposes right here in middle class America for the time being. I am seeking to give my time to Him and to love others deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1) When asked what loving others deeply from the heart really means, a friend answered, "Sacrifice." That's how Jesus loved me deeply, so why should I expect to love anyone any other way?

Is the Lord telling you to look outside of yourself to see the needy around you? Maybe someone needs a meal, maybe they need some money, maybe they need a warm blanket. Or maybe they need you. Your time. Your encouragement. Don't find yourself caught in empty religion, because it will never please the Lord or bring you the fulfillment you desire. But, if you do happen to find a library book called The Diggingest Dog, please send it my way.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lordy, Lordy, Chris Ain't 40...Yet

Happy Birthday, Chris! That's right. My wonderful husband is having another birthday. We're to the point where we can't remember how old we are, so we have to do the math. But then sometimes we can't remember what year it is, so we just have to estimate. He's lots older than you think he is, because he's so fun-loving and handsome that you'd think he's around 25...right? Surely you would, because he couldn't be much older than that and be married to someone who's only 24.

At this ripe old age, we also celebrate by doing all the things we normally do, because who has time or energy or money for anything else? The highlight of birthdays around here is that you don't have to give baths, except to yourself. You know your life has reached new levels of excitement when the best thing you can think of is a night off from bath-giving.

I am planning on cooking him a requested meal, so I better go and do that, because I have to get done in time to give baths, you know. I just wanted to wish my sweetums the most fabulous birthday ever, because he deserves it. Okay, that makes me want to yack.

Chris, we love you. You're great. Really, you are, and I'm glad you're having another birthday, because if you weren't, I'd be missing you. Aren't you glad you married such a romantic gal?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

This Post is Rated R (Hey, It's in the Bible!)

What do you think the chances of me getting a whole new personality and outlook on life would be? I guess not too great unless I suffer some sort of traumatic brain injury, which doesn't sound too fun. I am not going to blog about food becuase I am overwhelmed and don't think I have what it takes to do what I think we should do. But I'm not writing about that. It's just that I wish I was this super-motivated, I-can-do-anything, go-getter instead of this I-hate-to-fail perfectionist who gets overwhelmed by learning a different technique for applying nail polish. Ugh.

So, instead of dwelling on how I will never be able to afford organic food or grow my own and how I'll never master the art of making homemade everything, (yes, it's true...I'm an optimist), I thought I'd share a great idea we came up with in my accountability group the other night. Get ready, because it's good. Ready? It's called...

Bible Verse or It Ain't

I know! I think it could be the next gameshow craze to sweep the nation. We give you a phrase or sentence and you have to guess whether or not it's actually found in the Bible.

Okay, round 1:

"The leech has two suckers that cry out, “More, more!”

No? (Loud buzzer!) Wrong! It's found in Proverbs 30. Didn't think you'd find the word "suckers" in the Bible, huh?

Round 2:

"Hate the sin, love the sinner."

What do you think? Yes? (Buzzer again!) Sorry, that's Gandhi. Nice guy, but didn't write the Bible.

Round 3:

"She lusted after lovers with genitals as large as a donkey’s and emissions like those of a horse."

No way? Are you sure? (Annoying buzzer, louder than ever!) Actually, that uplifting verse is found in Ezekiel 23.

You just never know what little gems you're going to find when reading God's Word. It's so funny that you can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you've read a book of the Bible before but, when reading it again, find something that seems so incredibly memorable yet you can't ever remember laying eyes on before. Weird. I must have slept through that part.

The passage in Ezekiel where this R-rated verse above is found is obviously a little shocking in its language and descriptions of Israel, God's chosen and beloved people. The Lord is recounting for His people their prostitution with pagan nations and His disgust toward them. His people, who have been given all of His promises for life and provision and to whom He has revealed Himself and with whom He has dwelt, have run to pagan kings to make alliances to, insure their earthly well-being and security in a way that seems best to them. They have chosen to give themselves and their allegience to mere men, and men who do not acknowledge God's existence or authority at that, rather than trust in the One from whom true security comes. As a result, the Lord has turned His back on them in disgust and has promised to pour out His wrath on a people He wanted to bless.

Prostitute, lusted, defiled, lewdness, promiscuous. We would be horrified if these words were used to describe us in a literal, physical sense. But really, isn't it more horrifying to think that the Lord used those words to describe His dearly loved people's hearts? It's so easy to look at those silly, dense Isrealites and wonder how they could screw everything up so badly, but it doesn't take us long to realize we do the same things. And we have so much less of an excuse to do so.

We've been given God's Word, hundreds of years of testimonies from God's people, the revelation of the mystery of the gospel, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit! Yet how often do we find ourselves, in our American bubble of insurance and retirement plans and smart financial planning, depending on something other than Almighty God for our security? Um, that'd be most everyday in my life. My friends and I discuss often what the Christian life is supposed to look like in terms of possessions and finances. It's so hard to pinpoint because, in the end, it's a matter of the heart. (Still, we want to know what a truly God-centered heart would look like in terms of our bank accounts.) If we're relying on money in the bank (or anything other than the Lord) for security, then we're prostituting ourselves. For me, I think I won't truly know what I'm relying on until there's no other option than God.

Saying all of this scares me...so obviously I'm not trusting fully in the Lord. "Is He going to take it all away?" That's what we ask so many times. But maybe we should be asking, "Why do I care if He takes it away? I've still got everything I need...a good and loving and all-powerful Savior who has no need for bank accounts." Still, I want to cry, "Lord, this sounds good on the blog, but please don't put me to the test!"

When the rubber meets the road, though, I'm learning to trust Him. I don't want to be labeled a whore by the One who loves me so because I've chosen a cheap imitation of security over the real deal. The Lord's seemingly harsh words toward His people still come from a heart of love because He tells us over and over and over again to choose the real thing and so many times we still go for the trash heap. By His loving-kindness and grace, may we begin to choose well.

Listen to God's heartfelt cry toward His people in Psalm 81. How He longs to fill us if we will just open our mouths.

8 “Listen to me, O my people, while I give you stern warnings.
O Israel, if you would only listen to me!

9 You must never have a foreign god;
you must not bow down before a false god.

10 For it was I, the LORD your God,
who rescued you from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things.

11 “But no, my people wouldn’t listen.

Israel did not want me around.

12 So I let them follow their own stubborn desires,
living according to their own ideas.

13 Oh, that my people would listen to me!
Oh, that Israel would follow me, walking in my paths!

14 How quickly I would then subdue their enemies!
How soon my hands would be upon their foes!

15 Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him;
they would be doomed forever.

16 But I would feed you with the finest wheat.
I would satisfy you with wild honey from the rock.”

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This Cooking Will Wear a Girl Out

Whew! Whipping up a couple of loaves of blueberry zucchini bread with a 3-year-old's help will exhaust you. I'm so bad about getting 2/3 of the way into cooking and then being overwhelmed by a very strong desire to stop. I just want to be DONE, but I know I can't quit with some half-made batter and a tower of dirty dishes. And dinner looms before me, with quite a deadline since it's church night.

Overall, though, I've loved trying all the new breakfast recipes, as well as tweaking some old ones to make them a bit healthier. The kids must have noticed something is a little different. Jack got up this morning, walked over to me, and asked, "Did you make something new again today?" Yes, buddy, I sure did. We had baked oatmeal this morning, which met with some happy little tummies.

The hard thing about all this is that it takes some forethought. And somedays I rarely have any decent thoughts, much less any fore ones. Overall, though, it's been working out. The scary thing is all I've tackled is breakfast. There's this little question that's always lingering in the back of my mind: "How on God's green earth do these women with six homeschooling kids cook this amazing, fresh food and document it with photos and blog about it?" Pardon me while I go rest for a moment as I'm pooped just thinking about all that.

Now I'm going to go whip up some meatballs for our spaghetti and then rush out the door to church. But I just can't wait to come back and share a very inspirational passage of Scripture with you that I read this morning. Betcha can't guess what it is.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

It's a Vegetable Miracle!

I know people the world over are hoping and praying for some sort of update on my New Years' Food Makeover, so consider your prayers answered. (Okay, does someone actually remember that I said we're going to try out eating a little differently around here? I didn't think so.)

One quick observation: In exploring other blogs, especially ones concerning this whole food thing, I have found that my blog stinks. I am an amateur in the most unflattering sense of the word. There are so many blogs out there that actually have a purpose and a design and...pictures! What am I thinking?

Okay, moving on. I am actually almost enjoying the food thing just a tiny bit. The hardest thing is breakfast. We are a processed cereal-eatin' crew around here. So far, I've made pumpkin bread and some banana oat muffins, both using at least some whole wheat flour and applesauce. Tomorrow we're branching out with baked pears with ginger crumble. Any of you who happen to read this before Sunday morning and find yourself unable to sleep tonight, feel free to offer up prayers on behalf of our family. This could turn into a Sunday morning disaster. You know the kind. Your family pretty much behaves like a bunch of mad, raving monsters until you all walk into church with your fake smiles on while your hearts a smoldering pile of anger. No? Okay, maybe that's just us.

Really, though, I do have a miracle to share with all (4) of you. Tonight, I fixed broiled tilapia, sweet potato fries, and a smattering of other leftover veggies. That's all fine and good as five out of six of us love fish. However, I decided to push the envelope a little and fix Jack and Maddie a bowl of salad. (Luke's already a salad eater.) I prepared them for what awaited them and then happily encouraged them to just try it. (By the way, that rarely works.) Guess what? You guessed it! They liked it! And then Jack asked for tomatoes on his and he liked those too!

The real miracle is that I didn't pass out at the table. Of course, none of this should come as a surprise to me after Jack's announcement at the table over breakfast this morning. "Would you like to hear my New Year's goal? I want to eat less sugar and drink less sugary drinks and eat more fruits and vegetables instead and just drink healthy stuff." There you go. Would this qualify as the Lord going before me and preparing the way?

So, at the end of this fun and laid back Saturday, I feel quite successful, by God's grace. I've even exercised three days in a row. Now if I can just keep that up for the rest of my life, I'll be set. If I croak next week, I might be good. If I live to be 97, my chances are slim to none.

I'd also like to mention that Jack's basketball team has vastly improved over the three games they've played. I think they now understand that you're supposed to bounce the ball while you walk or run (though they get over-excited when they go for the goal and just travel all over the place). They even took a few shots today that actually hit the goal and/or the backboard. I think the final score was around 12-1. If you knew the score from the last game, you'd be very impressed. Let's just say, you can triple the other team's score and have a good idea of how it went.

Maddie's team is striking fear into church basketball leagues for miles around. They have some aggressive girls. Our own sweet Maddie even got the ball once and went to the floor to protect it. She also took a shot but got bit by the traveling bug. I don't know if you're supposed to be proud of making the other team cry in church ball, though. But you know the old saying: All's fair in love and little girls' church basketball.

Just for the record, we'll be eating good ole unhealthy, delicious pizza Monday night as we watch Bama pull out #14. Roll Tide!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Consider My Head Officially Messed With

Lots of words and no pictures. That's me lately. It makes sense that I share no pictures with you today, because the lovely pictures we took at Christmas are still on my camera, untouched. So, you're stuck with words. Hope you're a fan of them.

Do you ever read books that mess with your head? I've been reading more than normal lately. I think it was the whole it's Christmas time and most of my other obligations are on hold for now thing. My reading list of late (which could include the last couple of weeks, or the last year...sometimes it takes me a while to get through something, what with all the laundry and dishes and kids who like to eat stuff) has included:

The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer. Big fan. Of God and Tozer. Obviously, God ranks higher, but Tozer sure does do an amazing job of talking about Him. You get the feel, when you read a little Tozer, that he actually knows God. A good writer always knows his subject!

When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada and Steven Estes. Oh my word. This knocked my socks off. I don't know if you ever do this, but I have some friends in my life who, when we get together, love to discuss suffering. I know. We're a barrel of laughs. But, come on. That's the tough stuff. We talk about the questions that most people think at one point or another in their life, regarding God and all the horrible, unfathomable suffering that goes on in this world. This book didn't put some pat little churchy answer out there, pat you on the back, and wish you well. It cut deep. I must read it again soon. With a highlighter in my hand.

Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I know, everyone's read it. This is the third or fourth time I've read it, and I always find something new to ponder, or something old that I need to re-ponder. Like Tozer, you get the feeling that my buddy Francis has actually spent some fruitful time with the Almighty. Yes. We're buddies. I just don't think Francis knows it yet.

humility: The Journey Toward Holiness by Andrew Murray. I haven't finished this one yet, which will seem silly if you've ever seen it. It's tiny, but it's deep. I can already tell I'm going to be rereading this for the rest of my life. What have I learned about humility so far? I don't have it (nor, frankly, do many people I know) and I need it. Hopefully I'll feel like sharing some of it with you soon so you can join me in the exciting and always fun activity of feeling conviction by the Holy Spirit.

Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I'm about 2/3 of the way through this one. It's edgy and controversial and it's messing with my head. I wish I hadn't read it, I think, but think maybe we all should, just to make ourselves think.

And, last, but not least: The Bible by God. Specifically, a little Ezekiel and 1 Peter.

I'm feeling like a little bit of a super Christian with all these God books on my list...and a little smart and stuff since my list is quite lengthy. (Yes, when I finish this, I'm going to read more of that humility book.)

But, the truth is, all these things mess with my head, not just the edgy one, though that one does take the top "Messing With My Head" award. I've got to go read those four little books known as the Gospels again, because I'm back in that place where I think I've missed something critical in this whole being a Christian thing. You might know what I'm talking about. Maybe you've read Crazy Love or Radical and you come away kind of on this "Jesus really meant what He said and my life needs to change big time" high. And then you go back to the laundry room or make a few trips to Walmart and you go to church for a few weeks where you really look pretty good compared to most people there, and your flame kind of dies down.

Yeah, so that's where I am. Right before the laundry and Walmart part. What I'm hoping is that, through all of these things (which is basically His Word and the example of other believers, most of whom I don't actually know), God is inching me closer to the things He wants me to be and do. What I'm sometimes a little afraid of is that I'm missing it because I'm too comfortable and scared and I just can't fathom what it is exactly I should be doing.

So, I guess I'll ask the One who knows and trust that if He wants me living in the projects or in Africa that He'll tell me...and give me LOTS of grace. I mean truckloads. And if He wants me doing crazy things from right here, that He'll tell me...and help me to think of them and then actually carry them out. Because I'm pretty sure He wants us doing crazy stuff. Just trying to figure out His definition for crazy in my life.

Hope you read some of these books and they mess with your head and you can share some wisdom with me. Or at least sympathize with the headache I'm on the verge of. Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm Back

Whew! Sorry I was gone so long. I just could not pull myself from my holiday laziness to put two thoughts together. We just completed what are pretty much my two favorite weeks, falling on the tail end of my three favorite months, of the year. It's always a bit of a bummer when it's over. I get so energized and excited around the end of September and it just carries me all the way through Christmas and New Year. And then I slam into a big wall of real life. Ouch.

However, there is a season for everything. A season for excitement and fun and celebration and a season for working and striving and the mundane. How wonderful that we get to set aside a time to give thanks, a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior, and a time to reflect on all God has done in the past year and will do in the coming one. These special times give us that chance to focus and rejoice. But the Lord must know that our bodies and our souls can only take so much turkey and sweet potato casserole and cookies and cakes and fun and relaxation. We need structure and healthy food and self-discipline and hard work. We're just made that way.


It would not do for me and Chris to be independently wealthy and have all the time and money in the world. We would become so lazy!! I have had an extra parent around for 2 1/2 weeks. Talk about wonderful. Chris is so extraordinary at pulling (more than) his fair share around here that I kind of go into a little mini-panic when he has to go back to work. Can I do this? The kids asked yesterday morning who they were going to stay with since Daddy had gone to work. Hello!? Do you not think I'm qualified? Thanks for your vote of confidence.


So, to sum up the days I've been away: I ate, I slept (lots more than normal...boo for the alarm clock), I ate, I Qwirkled, I ate, I spent two days (along with Chris) putting away all the Christmas gifts, decorations, and dirt, I hung out with family and friends, and we all ate together. And then I tried to jump and dance around the house enough to burn off a few of those extra calories. It was all superbly wonderful.


I did get lazy spiritually, though. It seems when the body is satisfied and when leisure time is abundant, my spiritual fire dies down frighteningly fast. This brings me to my New Year's um, resolution - goal - focus, whatever you want to call it.

HUMILITY

Tough one. I'll talk about it more later. Maybe.

This is the lamest post ever. I think I'm still in a sugar and Qwirkle coma and I'm quickly falling behind on pretty much everything, blogging included. I really don't want to put this out there for the world to see, but I'm hoping if I get one totally boring post out of the way, it'll be a little jumpstart to get me going.

Tomorrow is the dreaded REAL LIFE. Kids are in bed, clothes are laid out, and lunches are made. This is my effort to make the morning a wonderful family experience rather than a screaming chaotic madhouse. We'll see how that goes.

One other thing I'm working toward this year, that is completely alien and crazy for me, is feeding my family more "real" food. To be clear, I've never been a fruit roll-up, Poptart, or Hamburger Helper fan, but our menu would make someone at Whole Foods pass out. There are two problems: 1) The thought of this is horrible and overwhelming to me and 2) We are on a tight budget, which means no organic stuff round here. But in an effort to improve yet not overwhelm myself to the point where I throw in the towel before I even get started, we're just making small changes. The goal is less processed foods and foods with lots of ingredients a Rhodes Scholar can't pronounce.

I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe.

I'm off to prep for Real Life Thursday. Glad I have a life to go back to.