My Friend

I have this friend.

The night that my mom died he showed up on my front porch.  There really weren’t any words and there didn’t need to be any.  He’s that kind of friend.  He was her same age and he was on his 2nd or 3rd cancer that he was swiftly defeating.  He was battered and torn but still fighting.  And as of that afternoon my mom’s fight was over.  So he showed up at my porch without words in the dark of the night – handed me a plate of cookies and just gazed at me.  He has the most telling gaze.  Eyes that speak when words can’t.  From his heart to mine was a silent conversation that included his frustration that he could fight for himself but not for her, that he’d beaten various cancers and she couldn’t beat her one and only, and that this was the reminder he didn’t care to get that he too was merely mortal.  And as we talked I saw something more in his eyes….the eyes of a daddy looking at me and thinking of his 2 girls.  He had hugged me a million times before but that day his hug was deeper and spoke volumes about the reality that one day his girls might be on a porch getting cookies…

That day my friend became more to me than just any friend.

And that telling gaze of his…..this last 2 weeks it was a lifeline.  As he laid in ICU with an oxygen mask that kept him from talking to me those eyes said it all.  When they asked if he knew who I was those eyes grinned and made the smart alec joke that I know his lips would have made if they could.  His eyes told me that his fear wasn’t for himself but for his girls and his wife and I promised him that we had those girls – they would be held and loved – and those eyes understood and told me that he believed me.  When I told him that day that he was the lucky dog here – that he was the one getting the big prize those eyes glimmered a knowing that made me jealous to my core.  Out of ICU with the mask gone I would get a raspy “Amy” when I came in the room, but it was those smiling eyes that I was there for.  Hands down one of the strongest men I know was as weak I could ever imagine him yet he could smile with those eyes and it was like nothing was wrong at all.  His eyes.  Then today they were closed when I sat with him.  I didn’t get the smile and gaze.

I have this friend.

And tonight my friend is dancing with Jesus.  He is healed and whole and those eyes….oh those eyes are probably sparkling in a way like I’ve never known.  If it goes like I imagine it goes, my friend is meeting a whole line of people who’s lives he has touched and made better.  Who met him and wanted to know that same Jesus he knows because it is just somehow made him a better man.

His daughter told me that she prayed he would never be forgotten – that the greatest legacy of a person is that they are missed and remembered.  That will be his legacy, indeed.  Every story he ever told me, every time he let me vent, every joke he told when I needed it, every text he sent me to check on a sports score…..never will be forgotten.  And those sweet eyes.  Never forgotten.

I have this friend.

And I am beyond thankful that he came into my life, forever grateful that my memories are a gift I can carry, and anxious for the day when I see those sparkling eyes again.

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Psalm 18:1-6,16-19

I love you Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.  The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.  The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.  In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help.  From His temple He heard my voice; my cry came before Him, into His ears.  He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me up out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.  They confronted me in my day of disaster but the Lord was my support.  He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me.

 

Published in: on November 15, 2014 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  

The upside of cloning

“When you’re older and have kids, God’s is going to give you one just like you and then you’ll see!!”  Did everyone’s parents say that, or just mine?  😉  And I get it now.  I really do.  I haven’t said it to my kiddos yet, but its coming I’m sure.

God did in fact grace me with one who fits the ‘just like you’ label.  My middle child.  She is loud – she is outgoing – she has no need to be on the sidelines of anything – she has the answers and by gosh not only does she think that they are right but that she has an obligation to let you know it!  Sometimes this clone is a flattering mirror and sometimes it is not :/   I have come to realize that the things that can make me so frustrated with her are often the same things that I found myself doing at her age.  I know the misguided places she is coming from and where those paths can lead.  Its a unique balance of helping her learn from my mistakes and letting my clone live and learn and spread her own wings.  I guess this is the “…and then you’ll see!” that my parents were talking about.  And for the record – I’m sorry, Mom & Dad!  For all the slammed doors, crying fits, stomping off and huffing I am just sorry to the bone.  The snow bank episode?  I now TOTALLY get it.  And often wish I had a snow bank here of my own. 🙂

But last week I saw a distinct upside to the cloning.  My little mini-me and I were walking a parallel path and in seeing her I was able to see me.  It was a beautiful thing!

I was able to attend IF:Gathering in Austin, TX a couple weeks ago.   It was a sweet time of prayer and worship and soul searching and learning and drawing close to our great God.  One main point that stuck with me in my time there and since is the question “Do I really understand God’s unconditional love for me?”  I know it, I say that I accept it, but on closer inspection there are many struggles that I think loop back to not fully relying on the fact that He loves me – right where I am – no matter what.  I wonder how many of us blow past that one and give it a yes, yes, He loves me but don’t rest in it like we should?  Do I walk with Him in life or do I chase after what I think He would want me to be doing/thinking/saying/reading?  I have learned that living to impress others is futile.  But how much of my life is to impress God?  As though I have to and our relationship demands it.  I struggle with that because as my Heavenly Father I want Him to be proud of me, give me the Well-done-good-and-faithful-servant line.  These are the things that have been on my mind.

Then I pick up my sweet middle child clone from school last week and she asks me if I ever had something happen in school that made me want to cry.  Ummm, yeah.  Lots of times.  Tell me all about it, girl.  She proceeded to tell me about the day and about how she had gotten a math question wrong when she was just sure she had the right answer.  She even went on to question the teacher as to whether or not his answer was in fact the wrong one (clone evidence #1).  As he accepted her challenge, worked through the problem in front of the class and thankfully proved that the teacher had indeed outsmarted the student, she felt a bit crushed (clone evidence #2 – perfectionism issues).  I asked what exactly it was that made her feel like she wanted to cry and this was her answer:

It means so much to me that Mr. M is proud of me and know what a good student I am, that I feel like I let him down.

So she wasn’t mad about missing a question; she wasn’t embarrassed about defending the wrong answer; she felt like she had let her teacher down.

As I started to explain to her how Mr. M feels about her – that he is very proud of her math skills, that he looks to her as a student who helps others when they need it, that he appreciates her drive and motivation – it became crystal clear that my clone was walking this same path with Mr. M as I was with God.  When I explained that her effort and drive mean more to him than results she said “Oh I believe that!  Because so-in-so in my class struggles but she tries sooo hard and Mr. M is so proud of her, right answer or not!”  In the same way I can believe that God would love to pieces the biggest mess of a person, even the most unlovable among us unconditionally.  So why can’t she and I claim those truths for ourselves?

We had the neatest talk — I will always cherish it — and we both grew just a little bit in the process.  We reminded ourselves of this truth that we know but that we too often gloss over with a ‘yeah, yeah’….We are loved.  Not for what we do or how well we may do it.  But for who we are.  For who’s image we are made in.  And walking in that truth makes all the difference.

And even though I reminded her in our chat that Mr. M is in fact not on par with the God of the universe, I have a feeling that she and plenty of other 5th graders would beg to differ 😉

Published in: on February 18, 2014 at 6:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Praying a Dangerous Prayer

There is a prayer that I pray that is dangerous.  Dangerous because it is life changing.  I’ve tried to remember when it was that I even started praying this prayer, because it has so long been a part of my prayer language.  I’ve looked back through journals and notebooks and I think it was somewhere around ’06-07 that it began showing up.

∆ my ♥

See, I am a science & math girl.  When you are trying to calculate the change in temperature, the change in velocity – the change in anything – you use a ∆ in the equation to stand for change.  And maybe I was ahead of my time on texting codes or maybe I am just pure lazy, but it was easier for me to only write out the smallest word in the sentence and rely on symbols for the other 2.  Either way it stuck.  Every journal entry, every prayer, every quiet time ends the same.  Change my heart.  ∆ my ♥

When it first started it was because I really did realize that I needed it.  I needed a heart change.  There was so much that I was trying to do on my own and I just kept falling flat.  Be a better mom, be a better wife, be a better friend, be a better Christian.  I read all the books.  I knew all the tricks.  I knew that this sinful awful heart I had just held me back from being all I should be and doing all that I should do and so if God could just change my heart it would all be better.  He’s in that business, right?  Heart change?  And so I prayed.

But I think what I was really praying back then was ‘Help me do what I should be doing’.  ‘Help me be who I should be.’  That was my interpretation of heart change.  Because you know the tree by its fruit, right?  If I can just make a little good fruit, then that will be the proof that I (and everyone else) needs that I am good in the heart.  So I made fruit.  I did all the bible studies.  I worked hard to be a good wife/mom/friend.  I volunteered.  I did this and stayed away from that.  I had fruit.  And everyone else saw my good heart….except for me.

Because I saw that my knee jerk reactions were still selfish.  I was prideful and judgmental.  I saw that there were a lot of days when I just didn’t want to be any kind of fruit bearer.  I saw that I was taking on Jesus’ yoke alright but it wasn’t gentle and easy.  It was another pack on top of the others I carried.  And while it was a priority it wasn’t a delight to my heart.  So I guess my heart hadn’t changed much at all, despite my fruit.  Huh.

So I continued to pray – ∆ my ♥ – but with a twist.  Help me to love what You love and hate what You hate.  Don’t just give me a different heart, but give me Your heart.  It is people that are important to You?  Then make them important to me.   Is it gossip and judgment that You despise?  Make it that I despise them too.  And so began the last few years of growth.

I have said this before – God rarely works in me in direct, easy to see pathways.  He usually bombards me from all directions with something that He is desperately trying to get me to see.  I may or may not see it, but typically what follows is me admitting “Yeah, I see that I am way off base here.  But I haven’t the foggiest on how to practically work that out?”  Then at some point – often months or years down the road – I can look back and see how that is an area where I am now more on base than I used to be.  That it was being practically worked out in my life and I can’t tell you when/how that actually happened.  The analogy I’ve used is that it’s like walking and walking and walking and not detecting any real incline, until you look back and realize that you are high on a mountain and thinking “I climbed this?  When did I do that?  How did I not catch the incline?”  So it is in my walk with Him.  So while I prayed for change in the form of loving what He loves and hating what He hates I found myself on random Wednesday having lunch with good friends and being in the midst of a conversation where I heard loud and clear from my heart “I hate this.”  Whaaa?  This is a conversation I have had a million times before and never questioned.  A topic that, sure, isn’t the holiest thing in town but is far from evil.  But yet I heard it.  “I hate this.”  And in that moment I knew — He had answered my prayer.  Somewhere along the way He had planted in my heart a piece of His and that piece was letting me know that this was just not ok anymore.

I came home that day a bit in shock and completely filled with joy!  It worked.  I heard from Him.  I asked for His heart in mine and by gosh there it was.  And here is the BIG part —– DON’T MISS THIS!!!!

I loved that it was there.  I saw that His was NOT a yoke of “Oh, I guess I can’t have these kind of convo’s anymore.” But it was “I don’t WANT to have these kind of convos anymore!”  See the difference??  Where I had been praying ‘Help me do what I should be doing’.  ‘Help me be who I should be.’  I realized that what I needed to ask was “Change what I WANT to be doing!” “Change who I WANT to be!”  THAT is the heart change that I had all wrong.  It’s not should – it’s want.  It’s a change in our desires, not our behavior.  Let me say that again – it’s a change in our desires.  Selah.

Here is what I wished.  I wished on that day that He would have completely torn that gruesome heart clean out of my chest and put His whole heart in me.  Done.  Every area of my life fully in tune with Him and His will.  But He didn’t.  He gave me that one little part.  And here is what I have come to know about that:

  • Had He given me everything that day, it would have been the end of me.  Literally.  Our full knowledge and understanding of Him, and our complete sanctification comes on the other side of glory.  Like the Israelites who feared death if they caught just a glimpse of the holy God, the same holds true for me.  Like it or not, one little piece was all my fragile heart could have held that day.

 

  • He is incrementally adding pieces.  Life is a highway alright, with potholes, roadkill, bad traffic and crazy drivers, so He is at no loss for new areas to change in my heart.  Sometimes He gives me the heads up as to which area is the new construction zone and other times I just come skidding right up to it as I’m happily speeding along.  But either way, He isn’t done with me by a long shot.

 

  • I haven’t the foggiest idea what is best for me.  When I look to the beginning of this story I see it plain as day.  Even when I think I have it all figured out I have no idea.  I pray what I think I need and He is gracious enough to say no when He has something better.

 

  • That little piece of His heart that He did give me?  It’s like a drug to me.  I’m addicted.  All I want is more of that.  I absolutely now understand addictive behaviors and tendencies.  I wonder if He builds them into us as a gift.  Though often they are abused by Satan and wasted on drugs or alcohol or porn or whatever it may be, what if we are really meant to be addicted to Him?!

 

Where does that put me today?  With a lot of peace and joy.  Not because of my circumstances but despite them.  Not because I’m doing it all right, but because I truly want to.  The weight of legalism is off my shoulders.  It is no longer a should do but a want to do.  Massive difference.  But do you know where else that puts me today?  With a whole lot of restlessness.

He is stirring my pot again and I’m not sure what for.  It’s no longer a check list of things I should be doing for Him and a happy heart when those boxes are all checked, it’s a restlessness for those areas in my life that have been tuned in to Him and scream out to me ‘Now what??’  It can truly keep me up at night and gnaw at me.  Is there such a thing as a peaceful and joyful gnawing?  Because that’s what it is.  Without a stitch of guilt or condemnation involved, but a burning desire to get after it.  Whatever it is.

And where do I go from here?  I follow.  And that following includes more dangerous prayers:

  • Where do you want me to go?  
  • What do you want me to do?
  • What do I need to just completely sever in order to move forward?
  • What do I need to mend?

Because here is what makes these dangerous prayers – my answer to His response needs to be yes.

You want me to go there?  Yes. 

You want me to stay where I am?  Yes.

You want me to work on this?  Yes. 

You want me to confess and confront that?  Yes.

His heart surgery is not dainty or neat or without bloodshed and a recovery period.  It’s like iron sharpening iron or branches being pruned or gardens being weeded – whatever biblical analogy you care to draw – it is messy work.   But my restlessness is prompting me to say (and mean) Bring It!  Prune!  Sharpen!  Cut!

And that is dangerous.

What if He tells me that something in the way I run my life is not right and it needs to go?  What if it’s my comforts that I cling to?  What if?  What if??

So I cling to my original dangerous prayer.  ∆ my ♥  .  Change my desires so that when You come to me with the tough move I am ready to make it.  Build my trust that You know better for me than I do.  Grow my love for You and those around me that I am the last one I think of when being your hands and feet.   Continue my restlessness for Your names sake.

∆ my ♥

∆ my ♥

∆ my ♥

Published in: on September 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm  Comments (5)  

Life at 40

This year I turned 40.
It wasn’t an overly-dramatic-mid-life-crisis kind of birthday, but rather a great time to reflect on where I am – where I’ve been – and conclude in general that life is good. Could I have envisioned 10 or 20 years ago just where I would be in life when 40 came a calling? Probably not. What about when I was merely 11 years old? No way. Married to a Southern boy? Living in Texas? Raising these 3 kiddos? Leading bible studies??? Not in a million years. So I was intrigued by one of Grant’s final assignments of elementary school – an essay called “My Life at 40”. As he wraps up 5th grade at the ripe ‘ol age of 11 he is making his predictions on how his path will look and where he’ll be when he hits this milestone. Right now he is only in the timeline phase of writing – but as we read it last night we were cracking up and for posterity’s sake I knew that I just had to document his ideas. Here is his timeline list of the highlights of his next 29 years…..  (with my comments added in)

2013 – Start middle school and play 1st season of tackle football
(football will be a recurring theme)
2014 – Play on the football team for Harpool Middle
(see)
2015 – Have a big growth spurt
(his greatest pain is that growth charts only put him at 5’11”)
2016 – Start high school at Guyer
2017 – Get drivers license and play Guyer football
2018 – Win a state championship with Guyer
2019 – Start taking biology classes to prepare for my future
2020 – Finish high school and go to the University of Georgia
(????)
2021 – Play on the football team at Georgia and study biology
2022 – Win the Heisman Trophy
(if you’re gonna set a goal, by gosh, set it high!)
2023 – Get a 2022 Camero
(Daddy will be proud – never lose the depreciation of buying new)
2024 – Graduate from college with a bachelors in animal science
2025 – Get drafted in the 1st round by the New England Patriots
(remember, he is a Heisman Winner….)
2026 – Become Rookie of the Year   🙂
2027 – Catch the bass that breaks US records at 23.14 lbs
(seems unrelated but remember animal science…and life after football)
2028 – Patriots win the Super Bowl
2029 – Extend my contract for 34.7 million per year
(getting a little fiction-ey in here now)
2030 – Patriots win another Super Bowl
2031 – I announce my retirement from football
(gotta go out on top)
2032 – Get married, move to NM and buy 765 acres in the mountains
2033 – Build a warehouse and start my new business, Grant’s Game Calls
(think Duck Dynasty – still out on the beards)
2034 – Make $750,000 in my first year of business
2035 – Build a mansion and start having kids
2036 – Invent the best calls in the world!
2037 – Become top voted Outdoor Brand of the Year
(is that a real award?)
2038 – Me and my crew take a hunting trip to Alaska
2039 – Have a girl and name her Nicole
2040 – My son becomes an All Star Athlete 🙂
2041 – I turn 40 years old

He then writes:

Later I retire from the business world at 49 and move to Big Sky, MT.  There I become a National Parks Ranger at Yellowstone until I am 85.  I die peacefully in my sleep at the age of 97.

Oh my sweet boy……I hope it happens just like that.

And if (when) it doesn’t, it will be perfectly different in all the best ways.  I love your goals – I love that you aim high – I love your confidence.  And I love that knowing who you are as a person means that if you fall anywhere short of a State Champion/Heisman Winning/1st Round pick/2X Super Bowl champion football player that you will take it all in stride and be no worse for it.

So I guess if I’m gonna start predicting my next 40 years I need to add in my granddaughter, Nicole, my all star grandson and a few trips to Yellowstone 🙂

Published in: on May 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!!

Today was an interesting day.  Read:  weird.

I ran to the store to get a few things because I was feeling crafty.   I decided that I was going to make myself a shirt (getting weird already, huh) and so I picked out a couple of fun prints I thought would work well.   The lady at the cutting counter is someone that I have encountered before and lets just say that she tends to come across as a person with an attitude.  She tells you what she thinks and usually it isn’t super courteous.   Today she asked me what I was making and I told her – a shirt.  She told me how awful this particular fabric was to work with.  As much as humanly possible, I try to be constantly focused when I am out and about on making sweet conversation with people I cross paths with – the check out people, fellow shoppers, etc.  I maintained my composure and assumed that though her delivery was rough she meant well by giving me a tip on handling this kind of fabric.  When she got to the next fabric she cackled out loud (truly, it was a cackle – there is no other word) “Obviously you are using THIS one for some kind of Halloween costume!  Hahahaaaaa!!”  Umm, no – a shirt, was what went through my head.  But at this point (see the weird!) I just giggled and said “Yes” so as to diffuse it all.  I got all my pieces, I thanked her and wished her well, then turned around to almost run into a bird sitting on the handle of the shopping cart next to me.  Weird is now off the charts.  I was so in awe (I can say that I in all my years I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bird at a store before.  Ever.)  that I circled back around to get another look and snapped a picture on my phone.  A bird?  A bird.  Huh.

Then I did something weird.  Now here, you read:  dumb.  I posted the picture on Facebook asking “Is this ok?”  Honestly truly with every shred of my being I tell you that my intention was not to judge this woman, make fun, or look to stir the pot — I just really wanted to know if it was ok to bring birds in the store!  Has anyone seen this?  Is it common and I have just never noticed?  Then weird which led to dumb went to the whole next level.

I think my Facebook photo is up to 30-some comments.  Some bird lovers, some bird haters.  Some bird haters calling bird lovers odd.  Animals were compared to kids and kids to animals and before I even got home from the shopping trip I had stirred a pot that I never even wanted to put on the stove.  Ugh.  All for a shirt that is going to look like a Halloween costume.

So, here is what I learned from all this today.  Because there are lessons everywhere if you only look.

I really am on Candid Camera.

When I choose to be sweet to the check out people, the shoppers and even the not super courteous lady at the fabric counter – who sees that?  They do, I do, and He does.

When I post a picture of a bird in a store and start a fire storm on Facebook – who sees that?  I do, He does and so do 487 of my good buddies.

The intentions behind those and other actions of mine.  Who sees that?  Just Him and me.

No matter if it is something I do in front of 1000, 10, 1, or alone – it is seen.  It matters.

This reality doesn’t make me walk around looking over my shoulder, worried to keep up good appearances, to keep a smile on my face no matter what.  He knows my intentions anyway.  He knows my heart.  He knows when I am doing it for show or doing it for real, so why do it for show?  Who am I trying to impress??

This reality weighs a lot on me also in the fact that my kids see.  And actions often speak louder than words.  My friends see.  My neighbors see.  And if I say that my purpose is to reflect His glory then where the rubber meets the road I had better be doing just that.  Because don’t kid yourself….we’re all reflecting something.

There is a beauty in this as well in that He sees what no one else does.  When I sacrifice for someone else, when I hold my tongue, when I choose what’s right, when I toil away at something that no one notices…He does.   And His reward is a joy I can’t seem to get anywhere else.

So leaving the fabric store today I couldn’t help but say under my breath on the way to the car, “Smile!  You’re on Candid Camera!”

 

Published in: on October 23, 2012 at 7:21 pm  Comments (2)  

What is ‘pride’ spelled backwards? PRIDE

Friends, when I am forever and a day between posts, rest assured that something is brewing.  And some of these things take longer than others to percolate.  I have had this post idea in my head for a good month – thought I was going to write it last week – and then got a new revelation on it this week that just had to be added.  So before any more earth shattering life lessons come my way I am putting pen to paper (…no wait…fingers to keyboard) and pecking out my post on Pride.
Pride is like a 4 letter word but with an e on the end.  Yucky.  No matter who you are or what you believe you probably agree that it doesn’t look good on anyone.  We can spot a prideful fool a mile away and like a bad car wreck you want to turn away but sometimes you just can’t.  You watch – you shake your head – and you wonder if they even realize that its oozing from every pore.  (and then look in a mirror, because now you’re oozing pride spelled backwards!  Reverse pride.  Ugh)  In desperately trying to avoid the former I more often than not fall into the later.  Swirl it together with my tendency to be judgmental and as my friend JL would say, I am a hot mess.  Ok – let’s start dissecting.

2 great quotes on pride came upon me as I was noodling what it meant and how to avoid it:

  1.      

Herein lies the illustrious ‘thin line’.  Talent is God-given.  To deny it, not use it, or dampen its potential is a slap in the face to our Creator who wired us with said talent.  The key – be humble about it.

2. a quote from CS Lewis:

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man.”

Merely having a talent and enjoying it is not a crime.  But when we compare ourselves and our talent against others…BAAM!….Pride.

I’m using ‘talent’ here but you can sub in gifts, abilities, wealth, possessions, relationships, etc.  All of these areas fall prey to pride.  And just when I think I have an area or 2 licked and pride eradicated – don’t look now – its reverse pride.

Here is an example.  Part of me doesn’t want to give this example, but my transparent side is very feisty and won’t take no for an answer.  I really did type this next bit as part of my blog!  Then I re-read it, caught the stench of reverse pride, gasped at my stupidity and hit delete.  Then decided to resurrect it to prove my point:

Wealth and possessions can be areas of pride but for me they are areas I tend to stumble less in than talents and gifts.  If you know me at all you know, I buy cheap stuff!  So no pride there!  I drive an old car, I don’t wear name brands, and last year we even tried to downsize to an older home.  For whatever the reason we are able to hold material possessions in a loose grip, realizing that it is luck of the draw whether we have these things or not.

Blaaaahhh.  I hate that in a post about pride and how I’m trying NOT to be prideful I laid out a big batch of reverse pride for all to see!!  You see, here is what I am coming to know:  Anything that says ‘Look at me!’ and doesn’t say ‘Look at God!’ is a form of pride.  So my little rant there about how good I am at not focusing on money is still a focus on me!  That is the point!  Reverse pride….same thing, different costume.

I try and think through this pride thing especially as a parent.  We are blessed with smart kiddos.  They have gifts and talents that could lead them and me down yucky roads of pride if we let it (Yeah, but have you seen MY kid…) but at the same time I feel that it is important that we recognize gifts of talent as gifts from God and that we have a responsibility to use those gifts to their full potential.  So we stay humble…..we have lots of gratitude….we try and use them to serve others around us…

And in comes my dear hubby (of 15 yrs today – I love you RD, I really really do) and gives me what my ADD-letsfigurethisout mind needed.  KISS.  Keep it simple, stupid.  We are called to 2 things:  Love God and Love Others.  In that order.  Period.

In loving God, I will see my talents as gifts from Him.  I will be grateful that He thought me worthy enough to have them and look for ways to turn my attention and the attention of others to Him as the author of those things.  I play no part but as the recipient and steward.

In loving others I put them first.  So why would I compare myself to them?  How could that possibly benefit them?  And if my gift/talent/wealth could serve them well somehow then of course I should use it to that end.  And give Him the glory all the while.

It sounds so easy.  In practice it is so hard.  So why on earth do I try and complicate it any more???

This is all part of the greater theme that seems to always run through my blogs and my life – if you read back you’ll see it in Confessions of a Control FreakIt’s not about _____, and Swapping out Lenses.   There is a bigger thing going on in this life.  It isn’t about the day to day, it is about me & Him.  He is changing me, molding me, transforming me and all these things are just steps on that path.  What is truly BEST for me, is obedience to Him.  He is for me.  He is after my joy.  And when I can focus myself on those big 2 –> ‘Love Him, Love others’ it begins to happen.

CS Lewis is right, Pride gets no pleasure in having something….but gratitude sure does!  I’m moving to gratitude in my kids gifts and talents, gratitude in our possessions, gratitude for my relationships.  And gratitude that you all put up with a hot mess like me! 🙂

Published in: on October 11, 2012 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Summer List

I am an organizer.  A planner.  To a fault.

I fully buy in to the notion that something well planned goes off much better than something that is not.  I make lists, I check boxes, I share my lists with those around me.  I am a nut.  For the most part this works very well for me though I know that it can also be a life sucking disease of control if I let it, so I work hard to make a balance.  Or sometimes, the balance is made for me.  Case in point – the summer list.

Back in May as we were in full swing of resuming normal life around here I embarked on making a summer list.  I had big plans – think Pinterest meets Steven Covey.  The list was broken into categories of Daily To-do’s, Outings, Projects, Fun, etc.  It was very ambitious and took into account the input of all the kids.  We would go to museums, movies, take hikes and go horseback riding.  We would serve at the animal shelter, pick up trash & clean out our garage.  The kids wanted to exercise each morning with bike rides or jogging.  We were going to schedule a backyard campout, star gazing and a scavenger hunt.  These categories were going to be printed out on color coded paper, cut up and put into cute decorated jars.  Each week we would randomly pull out one thing from each jar and put them on our new magnetic calendar on the fridge and we would all hug and sing “Kumbaya” and thank God for this most awesome family that we had….

Can I tell you that we did ZERO things on that list.

In fact, as I sat at my desk for quiet time today I actually found the list stuck behind 3 books, a baseball and some coupons.  We never printed on colored paper, never decorated the jars, never sang.  We got as far as a misplaced list and a magnetic calendar.

And we had the best summer ever.

We spent June with a great group of people watching a great group of boys win some nail biting baseball games.  Kids went to camp, family got together and we swam our hearts out.

July was spent traveling.  A fabulous weekend away with family – a 2 week road trip out west seeing sights we will never forget and making memories that will last a lifetime.

August was more travel, more swimming, a family reunion, 3 birthdays, 2 lost teeth and getting everyone back to school.

The summer is done and the list now obsolete.  The funny thing is that the list had some GREAT things on it!  Next summer I would love to actually do some of them!  But this summer was so awesome in the fact that we just let it unfold.  We hardly missed the bowling and the movie nights and the arcades because of the fun that sprang up around us.

My list making days are far from over, but I am thankful for the fact that this summer anyway my list got wadded up and tossed for me and I could just sit back and enjoy this life…

“Kumbaya, my Lord….Kumbaya…”

Published in: on August 28, 2012 at 8:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Mountains and Valleys

Where there are mountains, there are valleys.
This is as true in nature as it is in life.  Our recent trip out West showed me this in dramatic fashion in both ways and if I don’t blog this today I may burst!  So bear with me and I’ll try to deliver as edited of a version as I can muster.

While to many it may have seemed that the last year of dealing with my mom’s diagnosis, illness and then passing was a valley it was in fact a mountain.  A “mountain top experience” as it is often referred to, as when Moses went up on the mountain and met God, when Jesus took his disciples up the mountain and they heard the voice of God, etc.  My circumstances during that time brought me face to face with God in ways so real I can’t use words to describe it.  It’s what brought joy and peace when otherwise it would seem there should be none.  But like every mountain, there is a valley waiting around the corner, and I have also found myself there.  It isn’t like God isn’t HERE anymore — He is ever present and that never changes — but why don’t I SEE Him like I used to?  FEEL Him like I did?  HEAR Him daily?

No one asks for tragedy in their life and I am certainly not about to start, but it is apparent to me how much EASIER it is to focus on the God who is always there when I need Him desperately.  The only analogy I can think of is the pure joy we get out of food when we are starving and have none vs. the feeling of looking in a pantry full of food and not seeing anything that sounds good to us at the moment.   Outside of difficult circumstances He is still there, but I am more easily distracted by the mundane parading as essentials in my life and am more prone to miss Him.  It makes me sad – and it makes me wonder where else/how else I can focus on Him to get back to ‘what we had’.

Mountains and valleys.  The truth is, we need both.  Sometimes as a change in scenery and sometimes for one to make us appreciate the other.  And this God I am honored to serve showed up to me this week in a valley to remind me of the mountain and I need to tell you the story:

As you may know our family just returned from an 11 day driving trip out west visiting National Parks.  A once in a lifetime trip!  Our agenda was loosey-goosey but one plan we had in our minds was to swing through Estes Park, CO to visit family who were vacationing there at the same time.  Day 8 had us in Spearfish, SD with a full day the next day of National Parks and monuments to see, more driving and a decision:  do we cut back west to get to Estes and visit or remain east and get home 2 days early.  Several factors came into play (we were exhausted and fearing that too much more time trapped in the van would do damage to the family unit!) and we decided to let fate (read: God) determine our plans.  If friends in west Texas were home to visit we would hit Estes, then west Texas, then home.  If not we would go east instead via Wichita, KS and then home.  Our friends ended up being on vacation and not available so at that point we were leaning toward just heading home.  Then, when we arrived at our hotel on day 9 at 8:30pm in Scottsbluff, NE we realized that their ONLY room available for us was way to smokey to sleep in and there were NO other rooms in the whole town for that night.  The only thing we could find:  a room in a town 1.5 hours east.  That sealed the deal — we would head east not west and skip the stop in Estes Park.  Sad to miss seeing family, but the choice was made for us.

On day 10 we headed toward Wichita and joked how after so many days of white knuckle driving up and down the mountains with not even so much as a guardrail most of the time we were thankful for this flat land of Kansas!  Around 12:30pm we decided to pull off to a small town in the middle of nowhere to find lunch.  As we did, it became quickly apparent that our brakes were not working correctly and coasting into the Pizza Hut revealed that they were hardly working at all.  It was not lost on us that had we stayed in our original hotel the night before and headed to Estes Park that day, by 12:30pm we would have been coming back down the Rocky Mountains.  I shudder to think.

It so happened that 2 police officers were in the Pizza Hut and when we asked where we could go for help we were told that there was ONE dealership in town and it happened to be a Chrysler/Dodge dealership.  We headed there (slowly!) to find that our problem was a broken brake fluid line, a part that they don’t stock.  It would be a day before they could get one in.

Phillipsburg, KS was such a small town I am not even sure if there was a motel there, and based on our experience the night before would there be an open room anyway?  We sat in this tiny waiting room and had a mechanic finally show up with an idea.  It just so happened that the ONLY car they had in for service at the time was a van nearly identical to ours.  It also happened that the owner wouldn’t be picking it up for a couple days, so they could trade out their good brake line and put it in our car, replacing theirs with the new one arriving the next day.   2 hours later we bid ado to Phillipsburg, KS feeling like we had just had an encounter with our God.  In a valley.

  • the hotel room mix up pushing us east vs west
  • the area we were in when we lost brakes  (no brakes on a mtn = bad)
  • the one dealership in town being a Dodge dealer
  • an out of the box thinking mechanic
  • the one car available for a part for us was a van

Though these things just so happened it was no accident.

The icing on the cake?  We realized that Ritchie’s parents were coming through Wichita at the same time from another direction and we questioned if we could possibly meet up or not.  After our 2 hours spent at the dealership we texted them that our GPS had us arriving at our Wichita hotel at 7:39pm.  I’ll give you one guess what time their GPS had them arriving at the same hotel….

So we ended up getting to see some family after all.

I love my God.  I love how He held me tight and spoke straight to me on that mountain several months ago and how He showed Himself SO mightily to me now in my valley.  In case I ever thought for a minute that He was gone it was like He sweetly whispered, “Amy – I’ve never moved a muscle.  You just need to LOOK for me in order to see me.”  Oh….I will.  I will.

Published in: on July 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm  Comments (1)  

Reading material for Mothers Day….and beyond

I woke up to a mountain of things to read this Mother’s Day!  Literally.

I had the perfect store bought card from my man, a sweet note tied to a gift made by my boy, a mini-book written for me by Miss Peyton, and TWELVE handmade cards from Sweet Caroline.  12.  She has been working on them almost everyday after school for at least a month and continually asked “How many more days till Mother’s Day?”  I had facebook notes, cards from my parents, and email messages.  I had lots of good stuff to read.  And I loved it.  It made my day.

Highlights:

An acrostic for “MOTHER”

M y mom is the bomb!

O oooooo! Aaaaahhh!

T he best. Mom. Ever.

H i! Have you ever heard of my mom? I could go on and on about her…

E veryday I wake up and see her amazing face & smile!

R e: The mom is in the HOUSE!  Hey friend, do you know my mom?  She’s awesome!

 

An amazingly illustrated crayon card that said, “I love my mom because -”

1. She prays with me

2. She is kind and sweet

3.  She loves me with her whole heart

 

And my husbands great card telling me that not only do I run this family like a well oiled machine….but I am ONE HOT MECHANIC!  Ohhhh that made me laugh and laugh!!  And the kids all said – “That’s gross!”.  Then I laughed even more!

We spent a great family day together and though I’m keeping these cards on a pile on my desk for now I know that someday I will misplace them.  So this post is really for me as a reminder — You are blessed beyond measure, Amy.  You are doing a work in this home and in these hearts that is worth the effort – don’t quit and don’t lose faith!  On the days when you don’t feel it or you question the point read one of those precious cards or – if they are lost – read this and remember.  And never stop loving each one of them with your whole heart.

 

Published in: on May 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Confessions of a Control Freak

So they say the first step to recovery is admission – so this is me admitting it – I’m a control freak.

Don’t stop the presses for this news because it isn’t news at all.  If you know me, you know this.  I know this.  I’m just fessing up publicly in an effort to dissect  it and perhaps start to change it.

In my times of ‘deep thoughts’ and self analysis I have come up with a few ideas of what is behind controlling behavior and what it really means, for me at least.  I don’t like what I found – let me state that up front.  Here is the logical flow:

There are a few ways to do “X” .   I have my preferred way.

Why is that my way? –> Because I think it is the best way.

You prefer a different way.  What are my thoughts on that?  Its not as good as my way.  (If it was, it would be my way.  Refer back – I picked the best way.)

My big take-away here:

My need to control is 100% tied to a couple of yucky truths about myself.  Being judgmental and being prideful.  Ugh.  I don’t like to fess up to those one bit.

I am a HUGE advocate of the idea that if you say you believe something but really don’t follow through on it, you need to question whether you really do believe it in the first place.  Hypothetical example:  A person says “I know smoking is bad for me – it puts my health at risk and isn’t good for the people around me.  I should really stop.”  The reality is that they smoke 2 packs a day and aren’t trying to quit.  Therefore, the truth is that they may not really believe the smoking is that bad for them.

I like to think that I am a big enough person to say “There are several great ways to do “X”!  To each his own!” but deep down I’m not sure I truly believe it.  What I really say is “There are several ways to do “X”.  You are free to pick that way!  Its not what I would have picked and most likely won’t work out the best…but to each his own!”   Of course I’m talking self-dialogue here!  I would never SAY that to anyone, but the fact that I think it doesn’t make it any better!

I am going through a great book right now in my quiet times and it is walking through this aspect in marriage, specifically.  Why the need to control?  Though I’m not happy with the self discovery of how yucky my thoughts can really be if I sort through them, I do appreciate the path to change in recognizing the deeper problem.  I need to walk the walk of the belief that I am no better than anyone else – not my spouse, my kids 0r my friends.  Their different ways are not worse, just as mine are not better.  The damage I do by judging and being prideful is FAR worse than any possible damage done by not doing things my way.  So here are the bugs I am planting in my ear when I feel the hairs on my neck stand up in face of opposition to my way:

What if?

What could happen if we do things that way vs. my way?

Is it worth more than the person just to be right?

And if it does go south, is it beyond God’s realm to fix it -or- use it anyway?

Like everything in life, this isn’t about me vs. them anyway.  Its about me trusting Him.  I don’t have to cover everything – He’s got this.  I don’t have to push my way, I can just follow His way.

And this isn’t new news either.  🙂

 

 

 

 

Published in: on May 9, 2012 at 11:13 am  Comments (1)