Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Ordinary Year: 2015

Contemplating this post, I was struck by the beautiful, relative quiet, and ordinariness of this past year - especially compared to last year.

The last half of 2014 had been tough.  The death of a mother and brother rock your world a bit. We were all still processing those changes as we headed into 2015, but we saw and felt God's comfort and provision as we walked through our days. 

He is faithful.

Today, I've been looking back over my 2015 calendar, and the events posted on it have made me smile. A sampling of those written on it:

Lunch - Sue/Marla
BSF starts back up
Make apple cake
Season Premier - Amazing Race
Marriage Retreat
Faith - track meet, Warrensburg, MO
Meet with Ron and Suzie
Mary Grace - violin
Kiowa groomed
My thyroid mess (?? - do not remember what the "mess" was!)
Give Elizabeth her car insurance card
To Alabama!
Will's Wedding!!!!!!!
Elisabeth Elliot live stream funeral service
KAA volunteer week
Put freezer meat in trash
Colorado vacay
El Salvador Mission
Tour de Barbecue
Mary Grace - tennis Team State
Route 66 Marathon
Ice/decorate Jesus bday cake

Delightfully ordinary, right? Thank you, Lord. 

Another ordinary activity that I enjoy (that's not on the calendar) is mass texting family members. It's like a virtual group hug. When our Faith got engaged to Isaak Pearson on December 22 (a happy, happy day), our fingers started flying.

I plan on carrying over that mass habit into 2016! 
We have a couple of big, no-so-quiet, not-so-ordinary events already on the calendar for 2016 - one of which is a wedding! This sweet guy popped the question to this sweet girl and she said yes!

Wedding is March 13, 2016

We are thrilled! 
And busy.
And planning.

But before that consumes the next 3 months, it's time to look back at some of our favorite photos from 2015. 

And thank God for this life He's given. 

For the lives He's given.

And for His life He gave for all us sinners.

Blessings on you as you look back...

Typical lunch my health conscious husband takes everyday to work. #practiceswhathepreaches

Before a winter bike ride, and a much needed shave

When the Okies (Hannah & Alex) come to visit, we are happy

Even Kiowa likes to listen when we read out loud after dinner

A favorite dessert...Lou's Creme Brûlée 

We like to ride. We don't like to run into each other-which we did...on Mother's Day. Not fun.

We like to hold hands, too.
Spring Break Texas trip

My nieces' wedding in Rochester, MN. Such a happy time.

Here's Sue and Marla of calendar lunch fame :)
To cultivate a lot of beauty....

you usually get really dirty.

We like to hike

The text...

the people the text was about. #biggestgroupwehaveeverhadspendthenight #whew #fun

How we spent a lot of time. Also very fun.
Medical mission trip to El Salvador. Powerful time for this father/daughter

State Baby!!!!

Blogged for 31 Days about our Tribe's Vibe

When family comes to visit, you visit the candy store down the street!! #creatordelights

David killed his first marathon!! So excited for him and proud of him!

Urban hiking;)

West coast kid home for the holidays

Christmas 2015

Blessings as you look forward to 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Tossing and Turning

I had a tough, tough time getting to sleep last night. My body started out still, but ended up tossing and turning. It was the life I was attempting to live as my head lay on that pillow. It wasn't still. It was moving along at light speed.

I was thinking about:

-the wedding plans that need to be made between now and a March 13 wedding day.
-relationship stuff between me and people.
-relationship stuff between my kids and people.
-how dirty my house is and how much it needs cleaning.
-how sweet our time over Christmas was.
-how hard our time over Christmas was.
-how I need to lose weight before I buy a mother-of-the-bride dress.
-how I need to balance the check book and pay bills.
-prayers I'm praying for those I love.
-how sometimes life events turn out better than expected.
-how sometimes life events turn out worse than expected.
-how sometimes life events blindside you.
-how if I trusted God like I should, I wouldn't have issues getting to sleep.
-the attributes of God because I was having trouble falling asleep.
-how I needed to stop thinking about everything so I could fall asleep.

You get the idea. I don't remember the last thoughts I had before sleep eventually and, thankfully, came. The last time I looked at the clock, it was 1:15.

At 6 a.m., when I came into the kitchen this morning and Lou and I chatted about how we slept, I told him about my night. I also told him that today I was going to spend extended time calendaring and making lists of all that needed to happen over the next months so I could get a handle on things.

I then poured my coffee and sat down to meet with God. I opened my Bible Gateway tab like I always do and this was the Verse of the Day:

A lump rose in my throat and I thanked God.

He is faithful to help. He is faithful to his word. 

One step at a time. 
Coming to him. 
Doing the next thing. 
For His glory and my joy.
He will give me what I need.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Don't Waste Your Car Wreck

Elizabeth and 2 of her best friends could have been killed on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Elizabeth, Kacie, Emma

The phone call I received around 11 a.m. that morning could've been very different. It could've been an official voice telling me deeply sad news. Thankfully, the frantic call I did receive was from an alive but sobbing daughter who had just hydroplaned and wrecked.

The girls were on their way to Fayetteville to cheer on the Razorbacks in their last home football game. It was yucky weather - cold and rainy - but they were up for the trip. Three of my other offspring, David, Faith, and Mary Grace, were a few miles further down 71 South in a second car, headed to the same place for the same reason. 

Around Pineville, MO, Elizabeth, headed SOUTH on 71, hydroplaned and did three 360°s before coming to rest T-boned against the guard rail on the NORTH side of 71.

There were no other cars involved. At that terrible moment when they were spinning their way across 3 lanes of traffic, no vehicles were around  - to be hit or, to hit them [shudder].

If there had, this would be a very different post.

But thankfully, it is not. If you could only know how many times I have thanked God for sparing their lives. And, mixed up in the middle of all that, I've wondered "why?"

Why did it all happen like it did? 

I believe God is sovereign, loving, just, merciful, purposeful, gracious, etc. What was/is He doing in all of this? What does He want us to get from this harrowing experience? What does He want us to do with this experience?

This event made me think of a book title I saw once. Before John Piper had surgery for prostate cancer, he wrote this book. I haven't read it, but the provocative title has stuck with me.

And as I've processed the events of last Friday - my daughter and her two friends' brush with death - I've found myself praying two things. First, I thank God again for sparing them. Then, I have been praying:

Lord, please don't let Elizabeth waste her car wreck. 

The day after the wreck, I called Elizabeth and told her some of my thoughts. I told her that God is obviously not done with her or her friends. He has more for them - more to be and more to do on this earth. Their work now is to seek Him to figure out what that more looks like as they go about living their daily lives.

These kind of incidents are checks. It's a mortality check. It's a "what do I believe about God" check. It's a thankfulness check. It's a "I could've died...what am I doing with my life?" check.

These are not light checks. They are weighty, but vital. 

Writing this blog has been a check for me, too. This story had a happy ending, but the next one might not. The next story could have a different title. All I know to do today to prepare for whatever the future might hold for me (and those I love) is to remind myself of the truth and to run into the arms of Him who is the the way, the truth and the life.  I must remind myself (through the disciplines of Bible Study, prayer, and community) of who holds the future and that He can be trusted. And, I must cling to promises like these that God has given through His Son, Jesus.

Because I am His, He promises to never leave me or forsake me. Matthew 28:20
Because I am His, He promises to strengthen and help me. Isaiah 41:10
Because I am His, He promises the Holy Spirit will lead me into all truth. John 16:13
Because I am His, I am valuable to Him. Matthew 10:29-31
Because I am His, if I am brokenhearted, He will be near. Psalm 34:18

Thank you, God, for sparing Elizabeth, Kacie, and Emma.

And, Lord, please don't let them waste their car wreck.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Every. Creature.

I am in the middle of Bible Study Fellowship's study on Revelation.

Going deep into God's word is always powerful, and this study is no exception. Most days, as I sit at my kitchen table studying, I am blown away that I know the God that's being described. Even more, He knows me.

I can't even understand why.

But, He does know me and I do know Him, and I'm forever grateful.

This week, we are in Revelation 5, which talks about the Scroll and the Lamb. It's all amazing, but verse 13 made me stop.

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

It made me stop because it reminded me of a talk by Louie Giglio I heard a few years back at the 2011 Desiring God National Conference. In his talk, he did a mashup that brought me to tears.

It's about all creation praising our one true great God.

It's a 14:06 video, but it's worth it.

How great is our God and how worthy of praise.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Last 31 Days Post

Dear kind reader,

I'm done.

If my Lou's grandmother were alive, she'd correct me with, "Cakes are done. People are finished."

Haha. Ok. That too.

This is the last of My Tribe's Vibe: 31 Days. Thank you, thank you, for stopping by this month. Your kind words of encouragement and "Likes" on my fb page mean more than you know.

As I've contemplated how to tie this up, I Corinthians 13, the famous Love chapter, keeps coming to mind.

Because, in the end, in all we do, it matters that we love.

My former pastor defined love as "doing what is best for someone in the long run." I think that's pretty spot on. Maybe contemplating that sentence and reading through I Corinthians 13 on a regular basis would help me keep my focus where it needs to be. It'd help me keep my prayers where they need to be.

Because, I can have every "policy" and have been as proactive as I know how to be, but if I don't have love, I am a noisy gong and clanging symbol. I am nothing. And I do not want to go there.

But I do want to tell you who has loved me very well during this last month. There are only 2 who now hang out with me on a daily basis.

Mary Grace and Lou

This pair has taken up so much slack this month. I'd say, "I have to go get this blog done," and disappear for a while, and they'd do what I didn't have time to do. They've encouraged me, stayed up late with me, and humored me during this 31 day marathon. Thank you, Lou and Mary Grace.

Also feeling very thankful to God for the gift of my Tribe. Sometimes I am overcome with how much I love these 7 people (now 8, with our Hannah's dear Alex!).  They know me like no one else does on this planet, and they still love me.

I am blessed.

(For the list and links to all 31 posts, click here.)

Gonna end with some of my favorite pictures of the Tribe :)

Friday, October 30, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: On Tiptoe

Of late, I've had a prevailing picture in my mind,

and a prevailing prayer on my heart. 

Lord, help me to be standing on tiptoe today - eagerly waiting, eagerly watching, eagerly listening - ready to see what you're gonna do next.

I've spent time this month looking back and thinking about the vibe associated with my tribe. It's been a sweet journey for me, and I hope, a helpful one for some of you. :) As wonderful as looking back and remembering is, it's not where we are to spend the majority of our time. 

We glance back and praise God for his faithfulness to us, but then, we look up, look forward and get on our tiptoes - ready and expectant - for what God is going to do today in us, through us, to us, and for us. 

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

Some of what will be the fulfilling of his good purpose will be easy and labeled blessing - an easy grace. Some of what will be the fulfilling of his good purpose will be hard and labeled suffering - a hard grace.

But in either case, God, who is completely trustworthy, works in us, and that is powerful, purposeful and eternal. 

It is not for nothing.
It is worth standing on tiptoe to see.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Unfiltered

"I like your email." 

Those were my husband's words to me early this morning. He had just seen the one I wrote and the recipient's reply. They both had to do with a frustrating situation we are dealing with.

My response to my hubby was, "I was very nice."

As soon as I said that, I thought about this blog post and my prayer emphasis and how we don't have to be very nice when we pray.

The email Lou complimented was nice, but it was completely different than the one I really wanted to write. That one needed filtering before it reached the intended recipient.

Thankfully, our prayers don't need filtering. They don't need to be "nice." God knows exactly how we feel and think and invites us in Psalm 18 to cry out to him.

In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

And in Job 7:11...

“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
    I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
    I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

In my journals, I've found a few of those unfiltered prayers. Most are too personal to share here. But I am sharing one (after blacking out some irrelevant words and a child's name) because I know I cannot be the only mom who has had these thoughts and cried out to God for help. Maybe you need to hear that you are not alone.

November 12, 2002

I'm hurting with the kids right now. It seems they are not thoughtful to each other. I rebel against this sibling rivalry. I also feel they are not as respectful toward me as they should be. Do I drive them to it? Am I a nag? I feel like if I'd done everything like I was supposed to, then they wouldn't rebel. ______ sometimes looks at me like I'm from outer space. Please Lord, draw the hearts of my children to each other and to Lou & me.

Maybe you also need to hear that God will help you through these kinds of hard. He is a great big God who loves His children. So don't hesitate to pray. 

Pray unfiltered. 
Pray real.

He likes those kind of prayers.
And, He will help.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Smiling and Laughing

Oh how glad I am that I took the time to write down some of the everyday things that happened when the kids were little! This journal review I've been doing this week has been a blast. I have smiled and laughed and remembered. 

And thanked God. 

But before you think I was super organized and documented our life neatly, here's Exhibit A:

yay for sticky notes!

I was grabbing any piece of paper I had handy to write it down as soon as I could because I was afraid I would forget exactly what they said! All I know is that now, I don't care what they're written on - I'm just glad they're written! So many of the stories I don't remember. That makes me sad, but c'est la vie. At least I can still read about them!

I'm going to share a couple of prayer stories I found with you today. 

In November of 2003, when our Faith was 9, she had an episode of weakness in her hand and a little slurred speech.

That, my friends, was a scary morning. 

It happened right before I was taking the kids to school, so we threw everyone in the car to drop them off there and then I headed straight to my doctor husband's office. Here's what happened in the car that morning according to my journal entry.

A very humorous event happened the morning of Faith's episode. As usual, I say a prayer on the way to school. Before we'd gotten in the car, Faith told us how nauseated she was. I had told her a couple of times to "go ahead and throw up." (She had a bucket with her). So, we're in the car and I start out saying "Dear Jesus," when I heard a groan from Faith and so I said, "go ahead and throw up if you have to." And then I finished my prayer. Before I was done, David was laughing his head off. When I asked him why he was laughing, he said, "Mom, did you hear what you prayed?" I said, "What?" He said, "You prayed, 'Dear Jesus, go ahead and throw up if you have to!'"

(In case you are wondering, her symptoms were caused by an atypical migraine - she's all good, PTL)

The second story I don't remember at all, but once I read it, I could see it happening.

This entry is dated December 12, 2005. Mary Grace was homeschooled at the time.

Mary Grace was piddling while she was supposed to be doing math. 
I said, "Mary Grace, get busy so you can get done with your stuff."
She said, "I don't want to do it! I want you to do it for me!"
I said, "Well, that's not going to happen."
To which she replied, "Yes, it is. I prayed for it."

It's good to smile and laugh, isn't it? 

Here's praying we all spend more time smiling and laughing while we do everyday life with our tribes!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Tribe's Vibe: Other People to the Rescue

Prayer is hard for me. 

I have good intentions, and then I get distracted. Most mornings, I get up in time to spend quality time praying and reading my Bible, but some of those days, I spend a chunk of that time checking twitter, Facebook, and the news instead. 

So frustrating. Not because it's a sin to check the news, twitter and fb, but because of timing. Time I've designated to spend doing one thing, I waste doing another. I'm choosing to play with mudpies in the slums when a holiday at the sea is offered.**

So, one of the reasons prayer is hard is distractions.  

Another reason it's hard for me is that sometimes, I don't know what to say. 

I mean, I do know what to say, but I can start praying and I end up saying the same things. Even though I mean what I'm saying, sometimes, it just doesn't feel "fresh."

When this is the vibe I've got going, I do a couple of things, but I'm only going to talk about one of them today.

I pray other people's prayers.  

Have you ever tried this? It can be so powerful.

Maybe you're thinking that praying someone else's prayer means that your prayer won't be genuine, because you didn't think up the words. I guess that would depend on what prayer you are praying! I have found a couple of prayers, that when I read them, everything in me went, "Yes! Yes!" These prayers say what my heart's cry is. I haven't arrived where these prayers are, but it's what I ache for. 

I had forgotten about this first one until I found it in one of my journals when I was looking for material for this week's posts. I'm glad I found it.

So powerful.

Cursive translation:

Powerful Prayer
       by A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God

Father, I want to know thee, but my cowardly heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. 
                                                               In Jesus' name,

The second prayer I want to share I heard about from Elisabeth Elliot, who copied Betty Scott Stam's prayer down when she was a young girl. I copied it into the flyleaf of my Bible in 2005.

 Betty Scott Stam's Prayer

        "Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to thee to be thine forever. Fill me and seal me with thy Holy spirit. Use me as thou wilt, send me where thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."

Tomorrow, I'm hoping the distractions aren't distracting. 

And tomorrow, I'm praying those two prayers.

**“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 

C.S. Lewis

To end, I'll include four books of prayers that I use off and on to help me pray for those I love.