Pride Rock

Growing up, Lion King was one of my son's favorite cartoons, still is. I don't know what it was that spoke to him: the loyalty, the danger, the resolution? It was the first movie we ever owned and he'd watch it on our VCR on a daily basis. Starting out, we lived in a little single wide trailer in the woods, Josh, Tony, Becca, and me. I look back now and those were the days....

I remember walking around each day with this chip on my shoulder that I had to make something of myself, I wanted my kids to be proud of me. Good aspirations, but faulty premise. I thought the way I would make them "proud" of me was by going through college, becoming a psychologist, and making lots of money so they wouldn't have any needs. I went through college and then when faced with leaving these little people I wanted to make so proud in order to pursue a career and "make something of myself" I chose to be with them instead. I'm not rich, but their needs have always been met. All of their wants? Not so much.

I struggle still with wanting to give them stuff. I want to send Tony money every month so he can go out for coffee and see movies and have fun. I want to get him a car and Becca a car and eventually Serena and on and on. I want to splurge on them and I can't. What stings is that at the root of it is still the same old, "I want them to be proud of me" garbage. There's nothing wrong with wanting to pour out my love on my beloved ones through gifts and things. What is wrong is my motivations....and essentially its my pride.

God knew what He was doing when He gave these guys to me and even with all the things I couldn't give them, they are not wanting for anything that is good. So Keep it in check, Mama.
Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place,
    Lord Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
    for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
    for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
    and the swallow a nest for herself,
    where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
    Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
    they are ever praising you.
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
    whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
    they make it a place of springs;
    the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
    till each appears before God in Zion.
Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty;
    listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield, O God;
    look with favor on your anointed one.
Better is one day in your courts
    than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
    than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
    from those whose walk is blameless.
Lord Almighty,
    blessed is the one who trusts in you.


At Arm's Length

In America, we have a space requirement for comfort and well-being. You may not even realize it until you get out into a crowd, but its there and you feel like you're entitled to it. You say, "excuse me," but you really mean, "get your carcass out of my way." In your car you use your horn politely to let people know they are holding you up from getting to your destination in a timely manner. You expect that people will not cut you in line, you expect that there will be a line as well and that it will have well defined borders and that your waiting time in said line will not be too taxing on your schedule.

This is all good and well and helpful for a streamlined society to get things done in a orderly fashion, but the fault is that it is man's construct. God makes the rules for real and He knows exactly what kind of rules we need. He says bizarre things like, Love your neighbor and Turn the other cheek and Give away your stuff if somebody needs it. Those things aren't so hard to do when I like my neighbor or I don't really want that stuff anymore anyway. Love is a difficult thing to do when you must embrace the unlovely, the unlikable, the mean and hurtful. Our natural reaction when someone invades our space is to shut down, close up shop. We react through inaction. Cease and desist. But God's love is full of action and so should ours be.


Don't Stop Believing

Yeah, I know its a Journey song and my little boy will contend that its the Transformers song. This is the same guy who when asked what he wants to be when he grows up will tell you, Bumblebee from Transformers. Ok, so the guy's a little obsessed right now.

I'm not gonna be the one to burst his bubble that it is not humanly possible for him to become a car that also turns into an intelligent robot/alien who will save our planet from ultimate destruction. Who am I? Eventually he will come to his own conclusion that this life plan isn't feasible and I hope he remembers that I didn't dash his dreams at the assembly plant. Keep dreaming baby, eventually you'll get it right.

Now on to the real reason for this post. I've been around this church thing for a while now and something that has recently struck me as interesting is the high number of differing viewpoints we all have on things. I mean, is God grace, love, or a great big old guy who doesn't really care? Is He out to punish us for every little thing? What about heaven and hell? Are they up there and down there or around us everyday and we just can't see them? Are we predestined for one place or the other or does God allow us to choose even though He knows what our choice is gonna be? Why did He start this whole thing to begin with? How's it gonna end?

You must admit that we spend an awful lot of time thinking about those things, contending for our own beliefs and even if you're at all like me, worrying if we can really know. In the grand scheme of things does any of it matter? Have you ever changed your mind about something you thought your beliefs hinged upon? I personally was raised to believe certain things and as I've grown up in the faith and have learned about God for myself and heard other views I've changed my mind a lot. But I think that there are some things that don't really matter, they will just be like Oh, I was right, or Oh, I was wrong about that. The point is are you majoring in the minor things? Are you focused on the minute details or can you look at the big picture?

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
1 John 4:7-21 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.


Gripping the Treadmill

So I have this treadmill in my basement, and when I make up my mind to get away from the kids and try to pretend like I can't hear them wreaking havoc above me I go down there to try and work out. Now, I don't know about you but I like to be in control and stepping up onto that moving strip of canvas and trusting that it won't try its best to fling me up against the opposite wall is a real test of faith. To drown out the sounds of my kids doing their elephant impersonations upstairs, I turn on some music that motivates me to want to kick my own fat butt and turn on the treadmill. Steadily, steadily, I increase the speed and walk faster and faster until I am forced to break into a nice jog.

The problem is that I can't let go of the arm rails. Remember my trust issue that I shared earlier? Well it goes into full force as the speed increases and I imagine doing a face plant on the basement floor. I can let go with one hand and that works when you're walking. But try to do anything with more speed and one handed running just doesn't work. You end up feeling lopsided. Pumping both of your arms while running is the way that this thing is supposed to be done. Once I managed to pry my fingers from both rails and I could just hear the Chariots of Fire song playing in the distance. But then it was drowned out by Wipe Out. I know its all in my head, but at the same time its not...Just last week I was at the gym minding my own business on a stationary bike (much safer for the balance challenged like myself) when out of nowhere I see movement out the corner of my eye accompanied with a crash and a roll and splat. Case in Point: A girl flat on the ground having been flung from her treadmill due to disrespect for the force of gravity and improper usage of arm rails.

So this is some serious business for me, my distrust of letting go and really running for all I've got. But it didn't just happen one day that I didn't trust right? That's a build up sort of problem. Everything is running fine and then boom you fall or you watch someone else and seeds are planted. "That looks really bad and that could happen to me if I'm not careful" sort of thinking....How often do I do that with God? I get in there walking the walk and yet I'm not totally sold out to the mechanism of trusting Him, I'm still gripping tightly to the safety features like contingency plans and back doors and just in case this doesn't really work out scenarios. Like God's not gonna be there to reach out and pick me up when I fall down.


Book Review: Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N. D. Wilson

N. D. Wilson does it again in this thought provoking book about life. While its not an easy book to follow (there will be much rereading of paragraphs), there are some eye opening truths contained inside. This is not a book for those who believe that life is about being comfortable, finding your place and filling it in. Instead it is a challenge to realize that life is a journey and an adventure.
"Christianity is no longer about changing the world. Christianity is no longer about facing the darkness and walking into shadow with souls full of light. We don't see evil as a thing to be conquered, we don't see life as a story with any kind of arc. We don't want our God to be the God of falcons and mole rats and skunk justice. "
Life happens, it comes and it goes, there are bumps and twists, it is to be both enjoyed and endured. While we are living it, we are to live life to its fullest regardless of what comes, charging into what lies ahead and not shirking back.
"The world is rated R, and no one is checking IDs. Do not try to make it G by imagining the shadows away. Do not try to hide your children from the world forever, but do not pretend there is no danger. Train them. Give them sharp eyes and bellies full of laughter. Make them dangerous. Make them yeast, and when they've grown, they will pollute the shadows."
If you have trouble with the realization that your life is not what you pictured it would be, if you can't understand why a good God would let bad things happen, this is an excellent book to get you thinking about some things in a new and different perspective. Give it a chance and you may actually start seeing your place with a better viewpoint.

I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze.com in exchange for an honest review.


Grab Bag

I absolutely love writing on Sunday mornings. Because of the nature of our household, our house is the quietest it gets on this one morning of the week. The Loud People of the family go to church early and I'm left here with Taylor and the two little guys. Besides throwing together a quick breakfast and starting up the Netflix I can sit here sipping coffee and meandering through my thoughts and ponderings of the week.

But this week there's too much going on up there. I'm full of thoughts on love, and grace, and entitlement, and growing older, and kids away at college and still missing them on the second year of this thing. What to write about? So I'm choosing a topic that just came to me this morning yet has been flitting into my mind all week and maybe longer.

Surprise! Don't be scared by my outbursts, that's the topic...really. When I was a little girl my mom used to take me to a little shop downtown and I would get to pick a treat. I loved getting the grab bag, which was filled with assorted little toys and always a huge surprise. You never knew what you were gonna get but it was oh so exciting. 

Well, I've been really thinking a lot of how this is how my life has turned out. Kind of Forrest Gump "life is like a box of chocolates"-esque. When I made my initial life selections like spouse and church and house and job I never imagined this. With each venture into the bag of treats I pull out something I like and maybe something that I could do without. I mean if its all super amazing everyday, would I truly appreciate it? Would I know what I know now about myself or more importantly my God? By walking through the superb and the difficult I see Him more clearly. I've learned to recognize Him even on the rainy, cloudy, not so good days.

Bottom line, I'm surprised by what I'm finding out about this life and living it. The hard times bite, the low times scrape my knees, but I'm gonna keep on reaching in.


Book Review: Death by Living by N. D. Wilson

In N. D. Wilson, I have found a new favorite author. At once sharing the ordinary details of his life, that have matching ones in our own, while at the same time weaving a story so poignant and beautiful to bring tears to your eyes. He uses stories from his own heritage and beckons the reader to reach back into the past and search out our own history.

There is that profound reminder that we often forget that we are not stand alone figures in this production, there are those who paved the way for us as well as those who will replace us on this earth. Every breath is grace, every day a gift. What are we doing with the time allotted to us?

Each of us is part of this great story. We don't know when we will exit, only when we entered. Live like you mean it. Enjoy the life that has been given to you. Laugh even when its not really funny. Bad stuff happens, good stuff happens. Love, loss, no one can control when or where or how, but God knows it all and He's got it all under control.

Read this book.

I received a free copy of this book from Booksneeze in exchange for an honest review.


Mommy Senses

Forget Spider Man. He has the opportunity to put his costume away and live a "normal" life. Once a woman becomes a mother, the job is never done. When I woke up on this fine Saturday morning, the only morning of the week that I can actually sleep in, and found myself wide awake at 7:30 am, the idea of this blog post came to mind. If you're not convinced yet that the mild mannered home school mom who lives next door is really a superhero in disguise let me give you a run down of the typical warning signs.
1. Strong-Can carry a baby in one arm and the entire contents of the trunk in the other arm.

2. Brave-Anybody who can clean up somebody else's vomit without puking herself is pretty brave.

3. Intelligent-Has a PhD but chooses to "help with homework"

4. Special Powers-Can hear her baby crying in a soundproof room

5. Wears a Costume-Let's be honest here, she didn't dress like that before she had kids. 

6. Earns respect-You can hear people talking about her as she leaves church, "I just don't know how she does it...."
7. Athletic-Over developed upper body strength from simultaneously vacuuming and soothing a crying toddler.

8. Has a “sidekick”-AKA "Dad" or "Grandma"
9. Role Model-Everybody wishes they could be a mom "just like her"

10. Unique-Only this special lady could handle this special family.

11. Has a Weakness-Chocolate
12. Uses Gadgets-Dishwasher, Vacuum, Blender, Wii Remote, LeapFrog, Ipad, etc.
13. Has an Arch Enemy-PMS

14. Has a lair or “hideout”-Hidden in plain sight and otherwise known as the "bathroom", only her own kids can find her.

15. Secret Identity (alter ego)-Victoria's Secret Vixen                           
16. Interesting Past (Motivation)-Once upon a time, before her body was morphed into a human bean bag, she enjoyed staying up late and going out to movies and making decisions that didn't have the lives of numerous other people riding on them like "what am I going to eat for dinner?" She is holding out for the day that she will once more return to those long ago times...

17. Love Interest-The kids know him as Dad, his superhero persona.

18. Vehicle-Mini van or for the mom who is deep undercover, an SUV complete with keypad operated doors and built in DVD player.

19. Has a goal-making the world a better place one cookie at a time.

20. Determined-You kids will enjoy yourselves and use your manners and your inside voices and keep your hands to yourself and flush the toilet and do your homework and eat your food!


Book Review: The Surprising Grace of Disappointment by John Koessler

The title of this book is what initially drew me to it. Finding hope when God seems to fail us? What sacrilege is this? That was my initial "spiritual" thought on the subject, yet when I was really honest with myself, I could admit that God has disappointed me alot. Now before you shut down on me, hear me out and take a moment to be honest with yourself as well. Nobody's judging.

Every chapter of this book gripped me to the core. I mean, the author touched on everything from the apparent absence of God is situations to the possibility of Him ignoring my pleas for help. There is not a person alive who has not felt disappointed by God at one time or another. So I say that every Christian should take a look at the words of this book. It will reveal things to you, and in some instances it will release you. Its okay to be disappointed, but the core of the matter is that God is good, God is constant, and God has a plan for your life.

I received a free copy of this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.
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