Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Am Thankful

Soft white lights, dancing to an unknown rhythm, casting shadows across the walls of my living room.  My Christmas tree stands proud, up a week early, spreading excitement and the want to give.  Decorated not with the shiny new ornaments bought just last year, but instead with glittery paper candy canes, broken pine cones, Christmas tree cutouts, construction paper crafts, half painted wooden stars, all with the names of my children scribbled on the back. 

You see, while searching for my shiny new ornaments (to make my tree picture perfect), my five year old found a bag of these keepsakes, exclaiming "I made that!" and "Look what I did!" and "Mom!  Remember that?" 

I found myself discouraging him from hanging them on the tree.  "Wait, let's find the new ones."  You know, so our tree could look like the one on the cover of the magazine that came in the mail this week.  "Wait, those are broken."  "Wait, those are too close together, hang them like this....."

And then I stopped.

I started handing him the ornaments from the bag that had been stored away in the bottom of our Christmas box.  And I watched as our tree became filled once again with memories of years gone by.  Picture perfect?  Probably not.  But perfect.  A beautiful, perfect mess.  And now, a day later, as I sit staring at our tree, my heart is full.

I am thankful for memories that never fade, and simple reminders like broken pine cones hanging from pieces of yarn.

I am thankful for empty stockings hung, my children's names embroidered across the top, soon to be filled with favorite candy, fuzzy socks and little surprises.

I am thankful for Thanksgiving tomorrow.  Family gathered.  A feast prepared.  A time to remember why we are thankful, and give the One from Whom all good gifts come.

I am thankful for laundry to fold and dishes to wash.  For toys out of place and socks on the floor.  For a house that's too small, because it's full.

I am thankful for a God Who loves me unconditionally.  Even when I mess up.  Because I do.

For a Savior Who died on the cross for me.  And forgives.

I am thankful for friends who have come and gone at just the right times.  And for those who've stayed.

I am thankful for my family.  All of them.  They are mine.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who read my blog.  To those I know, and those I don't.  I am thankful for you. 


Monday, November 22, 2010

Truth or Tradition?

I read the following paragraph in the book I can't seem to get away from "The Soul of C.S. Lewis"....not in his words, but the authors of the book (Martindale, Root, and Washington):

"We are often too quick to dismiss those whose ideas are different from our own.  Perhaps we lack the life skills necessary to listen patiently to the ideas of others.  Perhaps we have not yet learned to treat all who are made in the image of God with the dignity that is due them....An inability to hear and engage well with dissenting voices will guarantee that we stay stuck in our prejudices.....It is in honest debate, rather than name calling, that we measure the strength of our beliefs." (pg. 10).

This one lone paragraph could preach many different messages.  But tonight, one.

Are we living, serving, worshiping, following, preaching....TRUTH or TRADITION?

Do we know why we believe what we believe?

How many of the things we do are done because of what we have been taught by man or passed down by our grandparents? 

Do we do what we do just because that's the way we've always done it?

A couple of definitions of tradition from

  • the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice
  • a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting
Have we inherited the way we have church?  Five or so worship songs, offering, sit down and listen to a sermon for 30 minutes, altar call, dismissal.

Why does the "modern church" have "church" the way it does?  

Remember, this is a blog....I'm thinking out loud.  

This post is in no way to encourage you to seek out other religions or listen to anything that is contrary to the Word of God.  I believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, true in it's entirety. 

I'm challenging you (and myself) to ask why do I do the things I do and the way I do them?  If another Christian says something that challenges me or the way I think, do I immediately close them off, or can I listen to what they have to say?  

Is my perception of God based on what I have learned of Him through seeking His face, searching His Word, spending time in prayer and worship, lingering in His presence?  Or is it based on what others have told me or shown me?

If another Christian receives revelation that we have not, how do we know if it's true?  Do we take their word for it or do we seek God for our own?  Does it line up with the Word?  Can it be backed by scripture?

Is it right or wrong because someone told me it was, or because it's truth I found in the Word?

A.W. Tozer said it like this: "Among the gifts of the Spirit scarcely one is of greater practical usefulness than the gift of discernment. This gift should be highly valued and frankly sought as being almost indispensable in these critical times. This gift will enable us to distinguish the chaff from the wheat and to divide the manifestations of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit."

The Bible asks:

 Luke 12:57 (NIV) "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?"

and warns us....
Hosea 4:6 (NIV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge

and instructs us...

Proverbs 4:1 HEAR, MY sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].

We should pray....Psalm 119:66   Teach me good judgment, wise and right discernment, and knowledge, for I have believed (trusted, relied on, and clung to) Your commandments

We have to be wise to know when something false presents itself to us, as the Word tells us there are false teachers and false prophets among us (2 Peter 2:1).  But we should also be sensitive not to resist change or transition or "a different way of doing things" if God is leading.

God is such a big God that there is no way we could ever know everything about Him.  And we are never right 100% of the time.  (Again....I'm not talking about our core beliefs or doctrine, the central message of the Bible...the gospel of Jesus Christ which never changes).

God is bigger and better than our biggest and best thoughts about Him!

Again from "The Soul of C.S. Lewis":  After hearing a sermon or reading a book or after deep conversations with friends, we may understand something about God we did not understand before.  Pieces of the puzzle come together and our vision of God may expand significantly."

"Images we have of God, if held onto too tightly compete against our having a growing, expanding understanding of God.....Welcome those experiences in life that would help you see things as they are rather than how you would have them be......If our estimation of Him does not grow, it will not be long before we will be worshiping a God of our own making and severing fellowship with all who fail to see things our way. Furthermore, we will paint "Thus Saith the Lord" across all our own opinions as we drift toward idolatry."

We should be ever increasing in our knowledge of Him and His ways, not holding on to one scripture and building a religious wall around it alone.  Don't be afraid to experience God in a new way.  Don't be afraid if He reveals Himself in a way that is different from yesterday.  Maybe yesterday you knew Him as Jehovah Rohi, the Lord your Shepherd,  but today He wants to reveal Himself to you as Jehovah Ropheka, The Lord your Healer....challenging your traditions that He no longer heals.

Don't be alarmed if you begin to have dreams and visions when you thought God no longer spoke that way. 

If you suddenly begin to speak in other tongues or have a word of knowledge or prophecy for someone, don't dismiss it because a denomination told you it was wrong.  What does God's Word say?

If you feel God leading you to worship in a new way, ask for the courage to step out in obedience.

Seek Him and you will find Him  (Prov. 8:17).

Call to Him and He will show you great and unsearchable things (Jer. 33:3).

There is so much to know about God.  We will never, ever, know it all until we are perfect and in His presence for eternity.  But we can seek Him while we are here, and know that He will be found.  We can draw near to Him and know that He will draw near to us.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Can't. Stop. Here.

The humming of the fan, distant voices coming from the T.V. in the next room, a continual pecking of the keyboard, the sound of a 5 year old rummanging through an overcrowded keeps moving.  Time does not stand still.  Not even for a moment.

Hidden in the cracks and crevices of our soul, lie glimpses of days gone by.  Reaching back into time, pulling memories from mental files and folders tucked away in the depths of our being.  Played back, again and again like a worn out VHS tape. 

Trying to move forward while remembering....and wondering.....and regretting...and dwelling. 




Missed opportunities?  Probably.

Mistakes?  Plenty.

Grace?  Oh... sweet grace.

Mercy?  New every morning.

Hope?  It's in Him.

Love?  Unconditional.

Forgiveness?  More than we will ever deserve.

In our search for meaning, purpose and what's next, often we turn around and trudge back through the what ifs, the could've beens and the why's.  It is easy to get stuck there.  But we must not.

Let us put our hand to the plow and not look back (Luke 9:62).

Let us move forward. 

Let us run the race that is set before us.

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.  Acts 20:24

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sometimes I'm a MESS

I began to think a little more about my last post, "Crowned World's Greatest Mother."  The post itself is not as the title might seem to suggest.  And this post is proof of, in fact, the contrary.

As I meditated on the diverse moods, actions, temper tantrums, sweet moments (and everything in between) of my five year old, I wondered how often I must appear as such to God.

Temper tantrums.

Mood swings.

Emotional outbursts.




And I'm not talking about Logan anymore.

When last months bills still need to be paid and this months bills are knocking on my door, it is easy to lose focus and forget that TODAY my needs are met. 

TODAY, I am cancer free.

TODAY, my husband and I both have a new job.

TODAY, my children are all healthy.

TODAY, I have a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat, a car to drive and the freedom to worship my God, privately and publicly.

My God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory! Phil. 4:19

When my teenager is defiant, rude and uncooperative, pushing me to my absolute and outermost limits, it is easy to lose my temper and react in a way that completely destroys any credibility I had recently earned or gained with them.  How do they know just the right buttons to push?  Seriously, sometimes I just want to scream (and sometimes I do).  Tonight, though, I wanted to throw something. 

I'm thankful that I do still have a little bit of self control.

What do you do when your teenager grows horns and starts snorting and pawing at the ground with their right hoof, uh...I mean... foot?

Isn't life supposed to be perfect and easy when you're a Christian?


Aren't we supposed to have it altogether, never messing up, and always living up to the title of my last post "World's Greatest Mother?"


Truthfully, sometimes I'm a MESS.

And honestly, I NEVER have it ALL together. 

In those moments when I feel like everything is closing in and it's hard to breathe.....when nothing seems to go right.....when the fear of failure laughs at me and tells me "I told you so!".....when I make a complete mess of's in those times I have to choose to rise up and start over.  When I fall down, I get back up.  I wipe away thoughts unworthy to entertain.  I remind myself of Who God is and who He says I am.

The impossible, possible.

That which isn't, is.

When my steps become heavy, I put one foot in front of the other. 

One at a time.

And that's ok.

Because even when I mess up and my imperfection becomes more than obvious, God still loves me.

Just like I love my children through all of their junk.

He still loves me.

And it's because of Him, His mercy, His grace, that I strive to become more like Jesus.  It's because of Him I can get up when I fall down.  It's because of Him that I want to.

It's because of Him that I don't have to stay stuck in that place.

For great is Thy mercy toward me...Ps 86:13.

Wherever you are, whatever you are going through, I pray that you be encouraged today.  Know that God loves you and He wants you to succeed.  If you fall down, get back up. 




Even if (for the moment) it's only one step at a time.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  Acts 20:24

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.  Romans 8:28

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Crowned Greatest Mother! :)

Sorry ladies.  I'm the greatest mom. 

Logan said so, and he's one smart 5 year old.  ;)

What on earth did I do to deserve this noble award, you might ask?

I simply made pancakes for breakfast and provided some warm comfy jogging pants for him to wear on this cold, rainy morning.   

Not every morning can be this storybook perfect, though.

Some mornings, it seems that no matter what I do, I cannot please him.  Getting up at 5:30 a.m. is not always easy for a 5 year old (or a thirty-something year old!!).  On mornings like these I quickly find that I am in desperate need of an extra shot of grace with my coffee and a side of patience with my breakfast.

Why is it that even though I make breakfast every morning and have never sent him to school naked, my similar efforts are met with such different attitudes on any given morning?

This morning I was praised to the highest degree...crowned world's greatest mother and clothed in gratitude and appreciation! 

Other times, not so much.

Sometimes my efforts, provision and love go unnoticed.  There is no appreciation, no thanksgiving and definitely no crown to be found.  Instead, I am met with all the reasons why he doesn't want to go to school, whining and complaining about how early it is and sometimes I even get a little feet stomping with arms crossed and lips pouting! ;)

I guess he sometimes forgets that I am the greatest mother.

How often do we - like our children with us - take for granted that God is going to provide for us and meet our every need?  Or forgive us?  Or heal us? 

Do we just expect that His mercy is new every morning and think it's no big deal?

Has He become "common" and familiar to us?

Have we replaced praise, thanksgiving and gratitude with grumbling, complaining and whining?

Let us get up tomorrow with praise on our lips and thanksgiving in our heart for the One who is truly the greatest!  Let us recognize His goodness and mercy in our life and remember that it really is a big deal. :)

"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name, For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations." Psalm 100:4-5 

**To read more posts on Gratitude and Thanksgiving, be sure to visit Rachel's Olsen's Devotional Carnival!**