Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I have moved!

Dear friends, I am thrilled to announce, after seven months of labor and the volunteer help of many patient friends and family, I now have a new blog site.   

I have enjoyed Tiddlywinks, named so for my sweet grandma who always signed her letters that way, but I need more definition for why I write. 

Starting today, Tiddlywinks will be no more.  (A bit of sadness.) 

Come visit me at my new website called Off the Shelf.  The content of my writing remains the same.  Only the address and look have changed. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Habits of the mind.

When I walk I’m so unimaginative.  I sit down on the porch to put my shoes on.  Then I walk around Alpine Lane.  Down Rock Street.  Around Stone Street.  Back around Alpine Lane.  And home. 

The same path every time. 

Boring, I know.  I like to think and pray while I walk, and I don’t want to think about the actual exercise part. 

Our brains take the same route.  Wear deep paths of thinking that we mindlessly walk every day.  Financial stress –WORRY.  That person –ANGER.  Potential failure –FEAR.  Difficult situation –DEPRESSION. 

One time I had to take something to my child at school, so I walked there instead of my normal route.  That was nice.  Different path.  Different scenery.  Different heart rate. 

It’s possible to change paths of thinking.  It’s just –do we want to or are we so, so comfortable walking the familiar route? 

“Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14  NIV)   

There are TWO paths the mind can set foot on.  If your thoughts seem to be leading only to destruction, it might be time to try some new scenery.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Yes, yes you can.

I hyperventilated over a bowl of breakfast cereal yesterday morning.   

I’ve hit a season where every morning for the last week I have made a long list of tasks, have worked hard all day, and have barely even scratched the surface of what has needed to be accomplished.  (My husband suggested I just stopping making lists, but that’s not really helpful, dear.) 

I've felt overwhelmed and anxious in an “I’m going to throw up” sort of way. 

Over my bowl of cereal yesterday I had anxiety so severe it actually caused chest pain.  (That’s probably bad.)  Then I remembered the verse, “Do not be anxious about anything…”  (Philippians 4:6  NIV) 

Can you tell someone to stop being anxious?

I hear it all the time from people.  “I can’t help but be afraid.”  “I can’t help but be angry.”  “I can’t help but be anxious.”  “I can’t help but be depressed.” 

Romans 12:2 (NIV) says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” 

Evidently, we can help it.  God’s expectation is for us to be transformed from a life of anxiety to peace, and this happens by acquiring new ways of thinking. 

I ate another bite of cereal and rolled the verse around in my mind.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer…”  Oh yeah.  Prayer.  Toss all that anxiety in God’s lap and let Him worry about how the tasks are going to get done. 

So I prayed through my list of anxieties, and by the time my spoon hit the bottom of the cereal bowl I felt peace and no chest pain. 

Here’s the process for getting over bad feelings:
1.     Get a verse from the Bible that speaks to your condition.
2.     Memorize it.
3.     Believe it. 
4.     Do what it says.
5.     Repeat steps three and four as needed.
Yes, you can help it.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Are you a good student?

When I finished student teaching my students gave me gifts.  (I think they were just glad to see me go.)  I got cute little apple decorations of all kinds.  Ever since then, when the kids go to school the first day I put out the apples, which have grown in number since those first gifts in 1991. 

I have always loved school and books and new notebooks with nothing written in them yet.  I love to learn. 

In college I was the one front and center.  Sitting with my book open before class started.  Waiting for the teacher.  (Picture my husband rolling his eyes.)

I went straight from the first day of class and took my syllabus to the library, checking out every book I would need for the big research paper.   

Call me a nerd of all nerds if you want, but Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” 

Let me tell you, with a kid going to college, all we’ve talked about the last two years is the cost of getting understanding.  It’s high.  Ramen noodles high.   

I always want to be a learner.  I want to open my Bible and read the hard stuff and go do it.  Teachable. 

Wisdom means you’re skilled at doing what you know.  I know the Bible.  It’s the skilled part I’m working on.   

Read it.  Do it.  Read it.  Do it. 

We send our kids off to school after an assault of lectures:  Sit toward the front.  Take good notes.  Make good use of class time.  Ask questions.  No TV after school.  Be ready to start homework at 4:00.  Matt told Caleb last night, School is your job this year. 

When it comes to the Bible, what kind of student are you?  Back row slacker or front row nerd?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bring your need to the music.

I grew up in church.  Played the piano for church from sixth grade until I was in my late 30s.  So I’ve done a lot of singing about God.

Several years ago, God put it on my heart to go on a two-week trip to teach the Bible in Africa, which scared the snot out of me (yes –the snot right out of me.)  I said, Okay, I’ll go.  But I don’t want to, and the whole idea makes me want to throw up. 

After the decision to go to Africa was made firm, I started what I call THE YEAR OF FEAR.  Every night I cried before I went to bed and told my husband, I can’t do this, and he patiently, every night for a year, listened to me list off everything about the trip that was scary.  On the top of the list was being hot.  (Uganda is on the equator.)  I don’t do heat very well.  Next on the list were insignificant things, like civil unrest, diseases of a third world country, and dying in a plane crash over the ocean. 

I started walking in to church every week as a desperate woman.  I had never walked into church desperate before. 

We started singing the same songs as always, but they were all new to me.  Because now I needed them.  I would sing a verse about who God is, and I would look God straight in the eye and say, with steel in my voice, You had better mean this.  I’m going to Africa, and you had better be what I’m singing about right now, or I’m going to die. 

On this side of Africa (let me point out that I did not die), I now know that desperation is good.  It makes me needy.  And when I am needy I find God IS what I sing about. 

If you’re afraid, anxious, desperate, I say GREAT!  You’re in the perfect position to look God in the eye as you sing and say, You had better be who you say you are. 

And find out He is.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting your heart where your body is.

Here’s the problem. 

We love people deeply.  Friends and family.  And then often God calls us to leave the friends and family we love so we can serve Him someplace else. 

So there’s this love for God that makes our mouths say, Yes, I’ll go, Lord.  The suitcases get packed.  The feet head out for a new place. 

But while the suitcases get unpacked in the new place, the heart commits a heinous mutiny and longs for the people in the old place. 

I remember when we moved to Kalispell, Montana from Texas where we had lived for seven years.  Matt and I fell in love in Texas, had our first child there.  The friendships were family-deep. 

When we moved here I held a secret distain for the new people.  I didn’t want them.  I couldn’t love them.  Give me the old people back.  The comfortable Texas people.  The ones who know me.  

Yet here I am 17 years later, and I do believe many of you reading this blog post today are the new people.  The Kalispell people.  Now my heart is tied so tightly with yours that I can’t imagine life without you. 

It’s sure hard to love new people, though.  To get to a new place and work to make friends.  To make mistakes and wonder if these new people will show grace to you the way the old ones did. 

It’s easy to pack a suitcase for your clothes and transport them, but it’s not so easy to pack up your heart and bring it along to the new place.  It weighs more, and it’s hard to carry.  It’s that last box that gets unpacked. 

Colossians 3:23 (NIV) says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” 

All your heart. 

We can’t start a new something for the Lord in a new place and not bring our hearts along. 

Today I’m praying for each of you who is in the new place.  Praying God will give you the strength to let your heart (not just your body) settle there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What you're looking for.

My 15-year-old son wants a Camaro.  A yellow one.  With stripes. 

I know because he has told me this 500,000 times.  Every time we drive past the car dealership he says, There’s my Camaro.  Except I want a yellow one.  No one is more focused and passionate about looking at cars than a 15-year-old boy who is two weeks away from taking driver’s ed.  

We just took a long road trip, and he pointed out every single Camaro on the highway.  There are a lot of Camaro’s, he said.   

The truth is, when you start looking for something you begin to see a lot of it.  All of a sudden every corner has a Camaro, but there aren’t more now than there were before. 

Only the seeing has changed. 

The same is true when it comes to looking for God’s goodness.  When we start looking for it, it’s everywhere. 

The Lord is good...”  Psalm 100:5. 

I had the experience of walking with two different women as their husbands threw them aside in divorce.  One woman, through her tears, could not stop speaking of the goodness of God.  The other, through her tears, could not stop speaking of her bitterness.       

There’s a lot of goodness out there.  We just have to start looking for it with 15-year-old-boy passion.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Class number six.

$400 later and she has a stack of books for her first semester of college.  As a book nerd I pick up the stack of textbooks and flip through them, resisting the urge to open them up and stick my nose in the binding. 

New book smell.  Why don’t they make that as a car air freshener? 

My first days of college rush back to me, and I say to her, I love to learn.  A feeling of jealousy comes up in my throat.  You get to read new things and learn new stuff. 

Five books sit on her desk.  World music.  Music foundations.  Intro to business.  Intro to economics (scary!).  Biology. 

There’s a sixth. 

I feel it as I lay in our hotel room anxiously anticipating saying goodbye to her.  Seeing in her eyes the panic of coming loneliness. 

The sixth textbook.  Learning to rely on Jesus. 

It should be on the schedule and come with a syllabus.  It should require tuition and a ridiculously expensive textbook.  It should be listed as a core requirement to get a degree.  It should have a learning lab on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It should have tutorial support available. 

It’s the hidden class.  The one you don’t sign up for but get enrolled in anyway.  The one that comes with starting a new job or having a new baby or experiencing a new illness, loss, or grief.  It’s the class you take when you’re a mom alone all day with little people who can’t talk yet or when you plant your family in India or Africa to be missionaries. 

John 13:25 (NIV) says of Peter, “Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him…”  That’s the class –learning to lean back against Jesus 101.  Learning to sit close.  To ask the hard questions of the One who can answer them.  To let Jesus’ love and His companionship be enough. 

This old hymn comes to my mind as I think about learning to lean on Jesus.  Care to sing it with me today? 

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms. 

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms.
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms. 

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms. 

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Feeling unsettled?

I went for a tour last night of my dad’s impressive garden.   

He walked through, pointing out a field of potatoes, some pushing up from the ground.  Knee-high, feathery carrots.  Rows of tomatoes standing tall on dad’s homemade support towers.  Lettuce tall and gone to seed.  A fence line of acorn squash. 

Enough produce that all of my parents’ friends had better keep their car doors locked at church, or they’ll end up with a squash and tomatoes in their front seat. 

It’s hard to imagine that all of this came from fragile starter plants and a handful of miniscule seeds. 

This is a note for you, my daughter only three days in to your college experience.  Right now you’re at the fragile starting place.  The time where a gust of wind feels like it could blow the tiny seeds away.  Where roots wait in a starter container.  And you wonder if you’ll ever, ever feel comfortable and solid and firm in the ground. 

Psalm 44:1-2 (HCSB) says, “God, we have heard with our ears –our forefathers have told us –the work You accomplished in their days, in days long ago:  to plant themto settle them…”   

God works to plant people where He wants them to be. 

I feel a bit unsettled too, my beautiful girl.  A bit fragile and wanting to feel comfortable and okay again. 

Surely it’s a condition most of us wake up with every day.  Fragile and small and looking for solid earth, to be able to dig deep roots and know we’re in the right place.   

Strong enough underground to reach up and really live out in the open. 

Here’s encouragement to everyone who feels unrooted –God accomplishes the work.  God plants.  God settles people.  We just need to look to Him and have patience. 

Gardens take a whole summer to grow.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Watch your language.

It might not surprise you that the article on language in the National Geographic caught my eye.  Did you know there are 7000 languages in the world now, and they predict in about a decade half of those will be gone? 

Which is sad, because language is unique to culture.  Word choices reflect how the people think.  When the language goes, a part of the culture is lost. 

Words and culture. 

The God who said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3  NIV) –He has created a culture where there are words like forgiveness, grace, blamelessness, reconciliation, hope, love, salvation, comfort, faithfulness, truth, peace. 

I live in a culture where there are words like idiot, loser, failure, pathetic, fear, skinny, fat, nerd, hopeless. 

I read in the National Geographic there are people who are working like crazy to preserve some of the endangered languages.  To save the very culture in which the people live. 

Language is a big deal. 

It shows where you live.  Who you are. 

Yesterday my daughter texted from her first day of college (sniff sniff) and said by the grace of God she met up with a friend at orientation. 

That was a great moment for me as a mom –to hear my daughter’s words reflect the culture of the kingdom of heaven. 

So to quote The Music Man, “Wad-a-ya-talk? Wad-a-ya-talk?”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Too many choices.

My daughter and I were in the checkout line of the grocery store when I realized I had forgotten eggs. 

Jayme, run and get a dozen eggs! 

She came back and said, Wow, I didn’t know there were so many choices.  I didn’t know which ones to get. 

Choices come with the wealth of our nation.

For example, I used to spend an inordinate amount of time in the cereal aisle, because good moms bring home variety, right?  Then one day it seemed ridiculous –spending five minutes to choose cereal.  So that day I chose two kinds of cereal, and that’s about all I’ve bought ever since. 

I was talking to a friend who was trying to find creative snacks for her little kids.  Because shouldn’t they have variety? 

Well, shouldn’t they?  A valuable question. 

Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth.”  I wonder if part of that storing up includes the American appetite for variety. 

What if we were to purposefully stop storing up so many choices?  Choices of food and beverages.  Choices of clothing.  Choices of d├ęcor.  Choices of toys and gadgets.

If you could pick one area in which to try a de-choicing experiment, what would it be?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thank you, shuttle man.

The man at the shuttle service at Glacier National Park greeted us with a robust voice and immediately ushered us into… an experience. 

With sincere enthusiasm, he asked my husband where we needed to go.  Then he said, with five-star quality, Please, allow me to escort you to my executive waiting room. 

The waiting room was two wooden benches by the sidewalk. 

But the man’s demeanor caused us to say, It’s like we’re at Disneyland! 

As we boarded the shuttle the man encouraged us to get the very best out of our day in the park, as he had been doing as an employee there for over two decades. 

I’m tempted to carry around a box of star stickers, to slap on the chest of anyone I meet who takes ho-hum and crafts it into something spectacular.  Surely the opening of my tin box and the presentation of a star sticker would be of equal value to the presentations on the Olympic medal stand. 

The shuttle man would get a star for sure. 

God also turned ho-hum into an experience. 

He took formless and empty, rather drab raw materials if you ask me, and formed them into light and color and and life.  Then he stood back and “saw that it was good”.  (Genesis 1:25  NIV) 

“Good” seems a modest description, but then the artist must have a humility about His own work, I suppose. 

That’s what I want to be able to say when I stand back and look at the tasks I’m doing.  I want to be able to say, This is good.  And when God stands up close behind me to check out what I’ve done, I want Him to say, Mmmhhhmm.  Mmmmhhmm.  Yes.  This is good. 

I want to be like the shuttle man.  When people brush up against what I’m doing I want them to get that Disneyland, over-the-top, come-step-into-an-experience kind of feeling. 

Some days the work is just cleaning toilets and making dinner and providing taxi service to a teenager.  But still.  I could add a bit of the Creator’s flare to the ho-hum.  Besides, it’s rarely the task itself that is spectacular, rather the attitude and energy and creativity I bring to it. 

What’s your work?  When you step back and look at it is it good?  (Get-a-star good?)

I might just go buy me some star stickers this very day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Bracing for rapids.

We rafted the white waters of the North Fork in Glacier National Park last summer. 

If I remember correctly, one of the rapids we passed through was named THE BONE CRUSHER.  (I thought maybe in all caps you would feel the ominous in that name.) 

How do you prepare for THE BONE CRUSHER when your rafting guide is an ornery man with a glint in his eye? 

Today I pack my suitcase in preparation for taking my firstborn to college.  For months, every single adult survivor of this rite of passage has looked me in the eye with sober expression and said, Ah, the bone crusher.  Hardest thing I ever did in my life was to drive away from my child at college. 

Not encouraging. 

If only there were something to brace my feet against. 

This is what I’m doing to prepare for rapids.
·        Thanking God we have a daughter. 
·        Thanking God she’s sad to leave us.
·        Thanking God we’re sad she’s going.
·        Thanking God we’re in a country where girls can learn how to read and get an education.
·        Thanking God for providing money for her to go.
·        Thanking God for Skype and a text plan.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:18  NIV) 

Thankfulness.  It's the only handle to hold onto when things are about to get rough.

As I give thanks, I am reassured that the God of all this goodness will continue to be good through the hard goodbye and the hard first weeks (months?) of missing her beautiful face.   

What rapids are you facing right now?  (Maybe it’s the same whitewater trouble you’ve been facing every morning for a long time.)  Brace yourself with thankfulness. 

What would you write first on your list of gratitude?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Living with your head down.

Last week our family took an epic, 11-mile hike.  (My husband says it’s epic because it was so hard it caused pain.  I don’t think there’s enough ibuprofen for me to do epic.) 

I noted on our epic hike that when the pain started the views stopped. 

For seven miles I had looked around at everything beautiful and praised God for it, but when knifing pain began in my knees, my eyes went to my steps. 

For the last four miles beautiful disappeared. 

It’s easy to do that when life gets hard.  All we focus on is the pain of it.   

Grief.  Discouragement.  Hopelessness.  Loneliness.   

The soul looks down instead of up. 

David experiences this and murmurs to himself.  Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God.  For I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”  (Psalm 42:11  NIV) 

When pain hits, looking up takes work.   

That’s why I go to church every Sunday.  Rain or shine.  Because life is painful, but I am determined to lift up my head and see the beauty of God. 

I will yet praise him. 

I will. 

God never stops being breathtaking.  I only stop being able to see it.   

I know some of you are in pain this morning, struggling and discouraged.  I’m praying for you. 

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our maker.”  (Psalm 95:6)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Catching 300 foxes.

The first seven miles of our 11-mile hike yesterday were amazing.  I was definitely tired, and my knees were hurting a little, but I was plugging along.  The scenery in Glacier Park was breathtaking.  We stopped to see mountain goats and big horn sheep.  The wildflowers were in full bloom.  The sun was shining with a slight breeze.  A perfect day. 

Then we started the descent of the last four miles.  That’s when iliotibial band syndrome struck.  It’s inflammation of the band of tissue on the outside of the knees, and it causes excruciating pain with every step when going downhill.   

Four miles left in our hike, and all of a sudden I was moving like a 90-year-old, gingerly making every step down with sharp pain.  At that rate I was thinking we would get down the mountain in approximately three years. 

Matt came back to check on me, and I was in tears.  And panic.   

I don’t know how I’m going to finish this hike.  There’s no way with this pain. 

He offered to carry me the last four miles (how romantic is that?)  But I knew I had to finish the hike. 

That’s when I prayed. 

This morning I was reading about Samson who had the Spirit of the Lord on him to go against the Philistines.  “So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs.  He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines.”  (Judges 15:4-5  NIV)   

How does a person catch 300 foxes?  And I’m thinking –once you catch a few foxes, what do you do with those two while you’re catching the other 298?  Ridiculously impossible, unless the Spirit of the Lord is on you. 

That’s where I was on the hiking trail yesterday.  Staring at four miles of impossible.  Lord, I can’t do this unless you help me. 

I figured out a way to spread out my gait (which I’m sure looked ridiculous) to shift the pressure off my knees, and I made it down the mountain in a few hours.  A miracle of God –I’m not kidding you.  I can’t believe I made it down. 

The same God who gave Samson the strength and ability to round up 300 foxes and tie their tails together is standing at the ready to be our help. 

All we have to do is ask.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cynicism, who invited you?

Lots of bad stuff has happened this summer. 

Like not getting into the restaurant I had looked forward to all day because the wait was 45 minutes. 

Like the wind blowing hard on the one night we planned to go to the beach. 

Like the swap meet being closed when we got there. 

Like the canoes not being available after we drove an hour because we were told we could use them. 

You know –really, really bad stuff. 

Somehow all these little disappointments stacked up into one big, dark cloud of cynicism in my soul. 

I found myself saying out loud, with an Eeyore accent, I’ll probably never have fun again.  EVER. 

Then I opened the Bible and saw Jesus on the cross.  The thief next to Him making a desperate plea.  Jesus answering him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  (Luke 23:43) 

The plight of the thief stands in ridicule of my cynicism. 

Cynicism born from an attitude of entitlement.  Am I not entitled to a scrapbook-worthy, fun summer? 

No.  The answer is no. 

I am entitled to hang where the thief hung, but Jesus gives me forgiveness and life instead. 

This morning I take communion in my heart.  Remembering Jesus’ body broken for me.  His blood spilled for me.   

Humility and gratitude leave no room for cynicism. 

What cynicism has crept into your soul, making you forget the grace of the cross?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On the threshold.

I didn’t know how to describe this feeling my husband and I have had in these weeks before we take our first kid to college.  Then Matt taught me this new phrase. 

Liminal space. 

According to Wikipedia it’s a “quality of ambiguity or disorientation” that occurs within a rite of passage.  The old life of our little girl at home is getting cut off forever.  We stand on the threshold of a new life where she becomes an adult and we change to the role of advisor. 

But we haven’t passed through yet.  Holding our breath.  Waiting for it to happen.   

We don’t know what the new will be like. 

When I’m not the mom all day long, then who will I be?  Away from her family and the friends she’s known for so many years, who will she be? 

Paul says, “One thing I do:  forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 3:13-14  NIV) 

To follow Christ is to live in a liminal space. 

Liminal space is about a rite of passage.  Tearing away from the old.  Going through the ritual of learning to walk like Christ.  Waiting for the new structure of “identity, time, or community, and a new way” (Wikipedia). 

It’s a space where fear comes easily.  Fear of losing what was so comfortable and familiar.  Fear of moving forward into what we know is good but can’t always clearly define. 

Paul tells us how to function in liminal space:
·        Forget what is behind.
·        Reach forward to what is ahead. 

Six days until we take Jayme to college.  I’m determined to let go of what was and reach forward to what will be. 

How are you handling liminal space?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A healthy question to ask God.

I have a project I’ve been working on for almost seven months, and I think it only should have taken seven days. 

Everything about it has been hard.  Road block after road block.  Here I am, as my dad would say, with 99% done and still 100% left to do. 

I was standing in the shower, where I seem to have the best conversations with God. 

And I asked a question I’ve asked many times before.  So, what are ya doin’ with me, Lord? 

Not disrespectful or bitter.  Just asking. 

I assume that, despite my frustration and discouragement in completing my project, God is doing something. 

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  (Romans 8:28  NIV). 

The hot water ran over my face in the shower, and I thanked God for not allowing my project to come to completion yet.  Thanked Him for the delay.  Voiced trust that His plan for my project would happen at the most opportune time.

So, what are you doin’ with me, Lord?   

Always Lord at the end of the question.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Am I looking at the right list?

I do this every summer.   

Pull out the “magical” list.  Because I’m pretty sure summer is supposed to be magical, and a mom is supposed to make it happen somehow. 

The only problem is, I didn’t get a fair sprinkling of whatever enchanting dust “all the other moms” got. 

At the end of every summer I feel like a failure.   

Summer came to a close a few years ago, and I knew I hadn’t checked off the make-it-magical list.  So in anxiety I said, Okay kids, I don’t have any work today, so what do you want to do?  Anything you want to do we’ll do.  (A brave offer from a mom who hates to be wet or hot or athletic or idle.)   

I was working up the internal motivation to take them hiking or to the lake or something on that last beautiful day of summer.  And my daughter said, Let’s do a craft. 

We spent the sunshiny day indoors with canvas and paints.  That was a good day.   

Anyway, here I am again at the end of summer knowing how much I have lacked the ability to make fun happen.   

This morning I ask myself, Who makes the list?
·        Who decides what makes a rockin’ mom or a boring one?
·        Who decides, at the end of summer, whether a mom has been successful or has failed?
·        Who decides if a mom has done what it takes to feel good about how she has cared for her family? 

If I get to the end of the day and my kids have had clean underwear, a healthy dinner, and a hug –but they were bored –do I take a red pen to THE LIST and write a big, red F across the top? 

The lists in the Bible look way different than mine:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.”  (Galatians 5:22-23  NIV) 

Maybe, after 18 years of parenting, I need to crumple up and throw away the superhero mom standard and strive for something different.   

Do you have posted in your mind some impossible “amazing mom of the entire universe” list?   

Friday, August 10, 2012

Don't stop.

My mom gave me a one-year Bible for Christmas, and my grand plan was to read the entire Bible through in a year. 

So today is August 10, and I am officially on April 25 in the one-year Bible.  Obviously I must have meant dog years when I made this goal. 

A few decades ago I would have given up about now:  Had a plan.  Plan failed.  Failed God.  Why keep going. 

That was how I used to see it.  I would attack my time with God like a DIY project where I would have the great idea, buy all the supplies, get a feeble start on the project, and then sell all the untouched supplies in next year’s garage sale. 

Then one day I realized God loves me and just wants to be with me.   

I don’t really care about the three-month lag in my big plan.  The important thing is that I had a plan to walk all the way through God’s word –with Him, and I’ve been doing that every day, just more snail pace than I had intended. 

In Revelation 3:20, God says to His people, “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me. 

It’s the with Him part that is the success, not the page count.  So I keep going. 

How are you coming along with your big plan to spend time with God?  (It’s okay if it’s not perfectly executed.  It only matters that it happens day after day.)