Tuesday, July 31, 2012

food control

My freshman year of college I gained 15 pounds.  I decided one of my problems was the cafeteria ice cream bar.  Available at lunch and dinner.  Several flavors.  Dip your own. 

Once on the lips, forever on the hips. 

So I swore off of ice cream, always associating the thought of it with those unwanted pounds. 

For 20 years we have not had ice cream in our freezer, except for the occasional birthday party. 

A mom “provides food for her household.”  (Proverbs 31:15  NIV) 

A mom chooses what goes in the shopping cart and what ends up on the pantry shelves and in the refrigerator. 

I’ve slowly been making radical food choices on behalf of my family.

·      Matt decided to go without soda for a while, so I stopped buying it.  Forever.  (Withdrawals on pizza night were hard to get through!)
·      The soda revolution worked, so one day I decided not to buy potato chips anymore.  I was prepared for a family uprising, but shockingly it never came.  (It is possible to live without Doritos.)
·      Whole wheat.  No more enriched white, despite my son’s pleas.
·      Definitely no ice cream.  (And what a special treat that makes it when we do get some.)
·      Always fruit.
·      No juice, unless you can push the thermometer past 98.6.  (No more drinking calories.)

It’s a work in progress.  I still have a Costco-size bag of chocolate chips in the freezer, and the boys cry if we run out of Fun Pops.   

But oh the power we have in providing food for our household.  We choose the nutrition quality. 

What’s one food improvement you think you should make for your family?

Monday, July 30, 2012

when you can't be a mom another second

This morning I heard from a mom who has run out.  So stressed and exhausted, she has run out of energy and emotional reserves.  It’s Monday, and she’s already going on fumes before the week has even started. 

She lists the demands:  Paperwork, finances, making dinner, playing with the kids, work, making time for herself.  It seems impossible when you put it all down on paper.   

I’ve been in that place so many times, especially when my kids were little and it was not possible to stop being a mom when I was empty of strength. 

We come to the end of ourselves.  And then what? 

We pray. 

Lord, I can’t be a mom for another second. 

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13  NIV) 

Strength isn't something we pull up from inside us.   

It’s being empty.   

Lord, I’m physically and emotionally drained. 

I’ve been a mom for 18 years, so you can believe me when I tell you that God answers a mom's prayer for help. 

We run out of strength.  He shares some of His.   

However much we need.   

In the moment we need it. 

Just have to ask.

Friday, July 27, 2012

handicapped parenting

Do you want to know what one of my biggest struggles is as a parent?   

Having fun. 

I know it sounds weird, but I’ve never been good at playing with my kids.  I guess it’s my personality –very driven.  I like to accomplish things.   

I don’t like to play games.  Don’t really enjoy doing stuff outside –would rather read a book in the house.  Not very playful or creative. 


I watch other moms be fun and think, Why am I not like them? 

I feel like I’m missing something. 

Yet here is my 18-year-old and my 15-year-old who have turned out good.  Kind, intelligent, loving kids.  Did I not ruin them with what I lacked as a mom? 

Sometimes all I see is my deficit, and I forget the things I did well. 

I read a kajillion books and hugged often.  Always tucked them in with a prayer.  Talked about God all day long.  Answered their questions.  Went to every game and performance.  Spoke words of love and affirmation.  

Dear moms, grab your cup of coffee and lean in across the table from me. 

I know.   

I know you’re handicapped.  I know there’s something you think you should be as a parent but you’re not, and you’re worried it’s going to ruin your kids.   

It’s not.  

Somehow love is a prosthesis that makes us a whole parent.  Love your kids with all your heart, and they’ll find grace for what you’re lacking.  

Mine have.  They seem to think I’m a good mom despite my limp.  

“And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.”  (1 Corinthians 13:13  NIV)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

money, or the lack thereof

Well, what did the garage door guy say? 

I couldn’t get it out of my mouth. 

Well?  Just tell me. 

We’re going to have to replace the whole door.  $900.00.

Tension rose.  I had had a few hours to absorb the news, but Matt was experiencing the gut kick at first impact. 

Disagreement followed.  He thought we should handle it this way.  I thought we should handle it that.  Words with a heated undercurrent that quickly subsided as the bell clanged and we both pulled back to our corners of the ring. 

He went to take a shower.  When he came back downstairs I sat down close to him on the couch and reached out my hand to his. 

We’ve been here before and have come through it together. 

Yes, we have, he agreed.

Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”  (Proverbs 23:5)   

Goodbye money.  It was nice having you around for a while –come again when you can stay longer!  

My dad has repeatedly chanted this mantra to me:  It’s just money. 

Just money, yes, but it can either be the hook that pulls our marriage apart or the challenge we work through together.

So we’ll do what we always do to handle a tight money spot

·       Remember, on purpose and out loud to each other, the times when God has taken care of our financial red zones before.
·       Determine to tackle the problem with cash and not credit.
·       Work the problem:  What do we have?  What can we do?  Make a plan.
·       Tighten the belt.    
·       Pray for help, leaving room in the heart for belief that God can act beyond our imagination.
·       Hug each other tight in the kitchen (a free activity).  Whisper sweet nothings (which are quite economical) in each other’s ears. 

It is, after all, just money.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

my biggest fear as a parent

1:37 a.m. and I just got up off the floor. 

Thoughts of my son pulling me from a deep sleep, I had quietly slipped downstairs and dropped to my knees on the living room floor.  Body bent over with prayer.   

In the car the night before he talked about what the speaker had said.  How it’s not enough to say you believe but that belief has to get all the way to your heart. 

Talked about the 5-year-old, Native-American girl named Debra and the special-framed picture his youth leader gave him as a gift.  A picture of him reading Dr. Seuss to her.  A memory of leaving a little bit of himself on the reservation. 

This glimpse of God setting up camp in my son’s heart aroused a familiar longing in my soul. 

In the rocking chair I sat with my hand on the womb.  Feeling the kick of tiny feet within and begging God with every rock back and every rock forward, Please Lord, please give me a child who will love You. 

Fear washing over me.  Not afraid of birth defects or still born.  Afraid of giving birth to a child who is all well on the outside and growing up strong but dark of heart and despising God on the inside. 

So at 1:30 a.m. I prayed fiercely again for this boy now pushing six feet tall. 

Thanking God for this child who chose to give his life to Christ at the dinner table when he was five.   

Thanking God for working in my son’s heart these last two weeks.   

But still afraid.   

Please Lord, I want more.  I want him to have more than just a youth trip summer experience with you.  Please give me a child who will love You with all his heart and soul and mind and strength –every day of his life. 

Here is our greatest work as parents.  Praying for the souls of our children.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Beware of giving out more than you're taking in.

I just spent a solid hour mowing the lawn in the heat of the day –with a me-powered push mower. 

Sweat dripping into my eyes.  Down the small of my back.  (This is when you’re glad I have no photography skills.) 

Halfway through I knew I was dehydrated.  My morning coffee was long gone, and I desperately needed fluids.  Too focused on finishing the yard to stop for water, I pushed through.   

When I was done I stood over the sink for five minutes.  Overheated and thirsty, I skipped getting a cup and just scooped water into my mouth, splashing it over my hot face.  Why did I let myself get to such a miserable place? 

At church Sunday night the music started, and I felt nothing.  Emptiness.  No stirring of my soul by the music.  No eager expectation for the Word.  I had let myself get dehydrated.   

Spent the whole week thinking about teaching a class, writing blog posts, drafting a Bible study, praying for a mission team.  Thinking about the needs of everyone else’s soul –but not the needs my own. 

So while the music played I talked to God.  Lord, I’ve poured myself out to others without seeking Your ice-cold water.  I’m sorry, and I’m asking you now to please give me what I need. 

My preacher husband opened His mouth and spoke about the Lord Almighty’s word to His priests –how they have to take it to heart to honor the Lord’s name so they are filled up and have something to spill out over everybody else.  (Malachi 2:1-7) 

The sermon ran down over my soul, and it was like God had been holding in His hand a frosty glass dripping with condensation –just waiting for me to ask for a drink. 

I am that one who needs to carve out a take-it-to-heart time in my day.  Opening the Bible for my own filling.  Praying to God for my own soul’s rehydration. 

What do you do when you’re parched of soul?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Taking charge of the fridge.

Flipping channels last week I ran across this talk show where a nutritionist was talking about rearranging the fridge to help us control what we eat.  Watch a segment of that here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzVJI6ULOYk

She said, “The vegetable crisper is where things go to die” and encouraged putting the bad foods in there instead.  I thought, Is it really okay not to put fruits and vegetables in the crisper?  I’m generally a nonconformist and love breaking the rules, but even this seemed like a stretch for me. 

Then I thought of Panda Express and how my daughter and I always ooh-aah over their huge fridge stacked top-to-bottom with clear containers of beautiful cut-up vegetables of all colors.  Vegetables always look so yummy at Panda Express, almost like you’d want to eat some. 

They don’t look that way at my house. 

So yesterday I pulled everything out of the fridge and moved it.  *Gasp*.  I put all the not-so-good-for-you stuff down there in the vegetable crispers.  (Is this really okay???)  Ricotta cheese.  Sour cream.  Grape jelly.  Caesar dressing.   

I pulled up all those fruits and veggies, put them in some Rubbermaid containers, and put them on the shelves.  Even was inspired enough to wash some of them and get them ready to eat. 


There’s all that healthy stuff right out there where I can see it and put my hands on it.  A container full of carrots right there on the top shelf?  It actually made me want to eat one.  I know, right? 

We live in an age of Pinterest-surfing DIY-ers, but I’m guessing most of us only do the surfing part.  Speaking the words, Wow, that’s a cool idea.  And then moving on.  Never acting. 

“Make every effort to add to your faith…self control.”  (2 Peter 1:5,6  NIV) 

Effort.  Doing it.  Pulling the food out of the fridge and making a change.   

Let me hear your fridge action stories!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Timidity doesn't change the world.

What is the difference between humility and timidity? 

This is a question I’ve been struggling with for months, as I’ve stepped out boldly to say, I’m a writer 

But how easily that leads to arrogance. 

So I’ve labored toward godly humility, but in the process I’ve stumbled over all these verses in the Bible that talk about how, as a follower of Christ, I’m the light of the world (the whole world?) and how I’m to bear much fruit (a crazy amount of fruit?) and how I’m God’s masterpiece (His piece de resistance, His magnum opus?) 

Those don’t feel like humility kinds of verses.  They say to me, Hey, you’re crazy awesome with God’s Spirit living inside you, so live out loud!   

“There is no charge for awesome.” –Kung Fu Panda. 

You tell me –how does godly humility fit together with light-of-the-world kind of talk? 

Paul told Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God...for God has not given us a spirit of timidity.”  (2 Timothy 1:6,7) 

Spirit of humility?  Yes.  Spirit of timidity?  No. 

An interesting tension exists between boldness in using our giftedness and humility of heart. 

I love this quote from Marianne Williamson:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I imagine you have some crazy-good giftedness God has placed inside you for the benefit of lighting up the whole world.  Like a magnificent painting by a master artist.  

For me, stripping off the timidity means putting my soul on the internet in the way of blog posts.  What does bold light-shining look like for you?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

fighting for contentment

I love clothes so much. 

Last weekend my family spent the afternoon strolling through shops in the nearby resort town of Whitefish, Montana.  Just for fun –pretending we were tourists for the afternoon. 

We wandered into a little clothing store where I fingered through the racks and came upon THE most amazing pair of shorts.  Matt had been encouraging me to buy a new pair for a while, and I fell in love with these. 

Until I looked at the price tag.  $174.00 

What can I say?  I have great taste.   

Sigh.  These shorts would have looked incredible on me, I tell you, but since they were half our month’s grocery budget I decided to pass them by. 

Every single day for years I’ve opened up my closet to view a wardrobe that is far less than what I wish I had.  Discontentment gnaws as I look at my choices and think if only 

1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world…”  (Oh man did I love those $174 shorts.) 

Fighting to stop loving clothes, I started doing battle several years ago in front of my closet in the morning.  Lord, please help me.  I started purposefully combating that soul-churning feeling of discontentment by thinking of how much I have. 

Yesterday I opened up a drawer to choose some pants to wear, and I realized the first feeling I had was one of thankfulness.  Thank you so much, Lord, that I have a choice of what to wear today.  A breakthrough!   

It still doesn’t hurt my feelings to get new clothes, but I’m so excited that after years of mental battle my very first thought is coming out as thankfulness now instead of longing for more.     

What’s your discontentment battle?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do you bark?

Last night I slipped on shoes and went outside for a walk around the block.  I was going to go around what my son calls the “P”, which is how the neighborhood road is shaped. 

It was one of those perfect summer nights.  No wind.  No cloud in the sky.  Not too hot.  The smell of summer grass and flowers in the warmth of the air. 

It was refreshing to my soul after a long day in front of the computer. 

Until I turned the corner and heard yelling. 

There stood a mom with hands on her hips, barking at her teenage son who sat, shoulders low and head hanging, on the front porch. 

Why are you being so sensitive?  Do you really think he was telling you the truth? 

I don’t know what she meant, but I do know that from four houses away I could feel the sharp edge of her words.  Her tone robbed me of the joy of my walk. 

I think she was robbing her son, too. 

I was embarrassed for him and disappointed in her.  And then I wondered how many times I’ve barked words at my own children, my husband, and robbed them of joy. 

I skipped walking the “P” and took a detour so I wouldn’t have to pass in front of this mother and son.  Schooling myself as I walked, Remember to talk to your family –not jab at them with pointy words. 

“Reckless words pierce like a sword...”  (Proverbs 12:18  NIV) 

Reckless –to speak rashly or angrily or thoughtlessly.  Or all three at once. 

How do you speak to your family?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One of your feet should go here.

My daughter, Jayme, and I were talking through treasures last night. 

Bracelet from China, coffee from Ethiopia, scarf from Cambodia, necklace from Belize, earrings from Africa, picture from Scotland, bag from Mexico. 

Gifts from friends at church who have gone out to tell the world about Jesus. 

My son just returned from spending a week with other teens who were shining the light on a Blackfeet reservation, and tomorrow I’ll drive to the airport to say goodbye to another group heading to the Czech Republic to shine the light of Jesus in that beautiful country. 

A missionary who had spent a lifetime in Africa once visited our home.  He was fascinating to be with.  Told stories about the entire school where he taught getting lice and how they sat out on the porch taking turns combing lice out of each other’s hair.  (He laughed out loud, as if it was a precious memory.) 

He taught us how to sing Jesus Loves Me in Swahili. 

Over dinner we talked about the world and how it needs Jesus.  He looked me in the eyes and said, Everyone should have one foot in another country. 

“For God so loved the world…”  (John 3:16  NIV) 

Somehow, despite the difficulty of life right in front of my face, I have a growing love for the world.  The atheist in the Czech, the boy with no mother in Haiti, the 5-year-old, Native-American girl in Heart Butte who fell in love with my son, the Asian women who can’t afford personal sanitary supplies.  I care about their eternal souls. 

And in seeing their faces and their struggles, my perspective on all that is difficult in my life has changed.   

Instead of focusing on our own hard stuff today, I would love to hear what country or people group God has put on your heart.  Do you have one of your feet planted somewhere else around the world? 

Part of my heart is here:

Monday, July 16, 2012

making the best of a bad environment

I don’t know what you’ve been doing on these beautiful summer days, but I’ve been reading a book –Extraordinary Ordinary People, by Condoleezza Rice.  Actually, my daughter’s supposed to be reading it as an assignment before entering college, but I stole it.  (I’m such a nerd!) 

I’m intrigued to read about Condoleezza’s experiences growing up in the most segregated, racially hate-filled city in the south.   

Never eating out because there was no restaurant where Blacks were allowed.   

Not learning to swim until her mid 20s, because there was no pool where Blacks were allowed.   

Waiting to use the bathroom until she got home, because there was no decent restroom where Blacks were allowed.   

Was that really just a generation ago??? 

But her parents were determined and made the very best life in an ugly, extremely limited environment.  Condoleezza became a master pianist.  Became a competitive figure skater.  Began college at the age of 16.  Began a master’s program at the age of 19.  And we know where she is now. 

So that leaves me thinking about environment.        

Paul writes from his environment of prison, “…whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  (Philippians 1:27  NIV) 

Whatever happens…conduct yourselves… 

Whatever environment you find yourself in, choose how you’re going to act within it. 

Reading Condoleezza’s story makes me realize that if I don’t live a worthwhile, meaningful life for Christ today, it’s no one’s fault but my own.

Are you living under or above your environment? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

squeezing someone into your day...with grace

I search hard for the cell number of our computer fix-it friend, after my computer (where my whole brains are) won’t start up. 

Do you have time to help me with my computer today? I ask. 

No, my schedule is packed tight today. 

Long quiet.  He looks through the phone and sees my head sagging in defeat and anxiety. 

What’s it doing? 

I explain, and he walks me through steps to solve the problem.  Me apologizing along the way.  Sorry, I know you’re too busy for this.  If you want to just let me know when you have time we can wait until then. 

I can sense he’s way too busy to be helping me today, but then he says, We’ll make this happen.  You’re valuable. 

You’re valuable. 

The way I had responded to my son earlier in the week came shamefully to my mind –when he asked me to drive him somewhere and I moaned and acted like he was ruining my whole life by his request. 

Not long after my computer was fixed, my son was getting ready to go to the lake with friends, and he asked me to iron a shirt for him. 

To wear to the beach? I asked. 

Yes, he replied, and I could tell that how he looked when he arrived at the beach was really, really important. 

I thought of how my too-busy-to-help-you friend told me I was valuable, and I decided to treat my son like he was valuable.

Set up the ironing board, I said. 

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved [VALUABLE!!], clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  (Colossians 3:12  NIV) 

When someone interrupts your busy day with a request, how do you respond?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

letting go of stuff

In my closet hangs a plastic mug rack, which I use for hanging necklaces. 

It’s full of jewelry, mostly costume, from a time when I cared more about accessories.  Now many of the necklaces hang and never come out of the closet, so I have decided it’s time for them to go. 

I quickly and painlessly pull out about 20 necklaces that I never wear and lay them out on the bed. 

Then I grab a long strip of bubble wrap.  (Did you know you can lay necklaces out on bubble wrap, wrap them up, and transport them without tangles?)  One by one I lay each necklace out on the plastic bubbles. 

And one by one each piece becomes beautiful to my eyes, and I imagine what I could wear it with, and I wonder how I could part with it, and I think how foolish to get rid of something so pretty. 

The lust of the eyes. 

Every single necklace sings this song to me.  Keep me.  Each necklace that I have not worn for years sings the song.  Keep me. 

Where does this come from?  This insatiable desire to keep stuff, even stuff we don’t use? 

“The lust of the eyes…is not from the Father, but is from the world.”  (1 John 2:16) 

I keep wrapping.  One piece after the other.  Fighting down the desire to keep the little pretties.  When it is all wrapped up and the firm decision is made to sell the whole lot in the garage sale –the song of hoarding quiets. 

Does your stuff suddenly seem more amazing and essential when you decide to get rid of it?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

the struggle of time management for stay-at-homes

I’ve decided I need a mom.  Well, I have a mom, but I need a mom in my house all day to say, Time to get off the computer and get some chores done.  Someone to sternly command me to get with it. 

Because yesterday I was home all day, and when I went to bed last night my bed wasn’t made.  It wasn’t because I didn’t have time to make it.  It’s just that I didn’t.  And I didn’t empty my bathroom garbage can, which is soon to be climbing-up-the-wall full.  I could have, but I didn’t. 

My confession, right here out loud to all of you, is that I don’t always manage myself very well at home.   

Proverbs 31:27 says, “She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle.” 

I do that, too –well, the watching over the activities of my household part.  Watching the dishes stack up.  Watching the dust accumulate.  Watching the paperwork pile grow.  Is that what Solomon meant?

It’s hard when you work at home all day, and there’s no one to hold you accountable for what you choose to do in each hour.  Easy to slip into idleness.  And you can finish the sentence, “Idle hands are the ________.” 

Is it true?  Is that Proverbs 31 lady never idle?  She definitely must not have a Facebook account. 

I’m going to make quite an effort to stay hard at it all day long today, especially to do some chores that I’ve been idling on.  I will empty my bathroom garage today! 

Does anyone else out there struggle with staying industrious all day long when you’re at home by yourself?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

a ho-hum day?

There’s something in me that wants every day to be fun and exciting –not work and laundry and dishes and errands and lawn mowing, but I just read a story that is changing how I view my day. 

I read a short biography about a young woman named Hilary who was discovered to have the disease myasthenia at age 21.  Muscle weakness slowly overcame her entire body until she was on a respirator and feeding tube.  “She could not see, speak, breathe, swallow or move except for a sixteenth of an inch of mobility in one toe and a much lesser movement in another.”  A special machine called a POSM was rigged that allowed her to type with this one muscle.   

With this one means of communication she lived a vibrant, creative life for years.  She wrote a book, had an incredible sense of humor (Hilary means “hilarious”) and even received an award from the Queen of England for the difference she made in the world.

This is a poem she wrote called “My Answer”: 

“I’m often asked if I am bored,
Frustrated, lonely,
My life abhorred.
And so I answer,
‘I am not’-
That now I can accept my lot,
Remind the sadly shaking head,
‘It is my body, not my mind, in bed.’ 

“I’m rarely frightened or in pain,
For this I thank my God again.
I have many loyal friends,
My joy in them despair transcends.
There’s music, too,
Books to read.
Discontentment cannot breed. 

“Although I can no longer play
I can listen every day
To football, rugby, tennis, cricket,
Imagination has no limit.
Add to this
A sense of humour
Killing that ‘depression’ rumour. 

“Now I have my Possum, too,
A miracle in all men’s view.
No longer do I have to wait,
My poems and letters to dictate.
Just flick my toe
And type myself.
I have no time to brood on health.”

Sometimes I hope a full life is something that will just happen to me when I wake up every day, but after reading Hilary’s story I wonder if a full life is something I work with Jesus every day to create –through thankfulness, a sense of humor, a choice to live for him as much as I can with what I’ve got. 

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 NIV)

Are you “brooding” on something today instead of choosing to live a creative, full life?

(Excerpts taken from Twelve Who Cared by Dorothy Clarke Wilson)