Restful Rhythm

And all my dear friends saw the title of this post and laughed. That’s okay. It was a kind laugh, of course. Because they know they’re laughing with me, and not at me. I hope.

I do too much running.

Well, I don’t actually run, though I’ve been known to walk. When it’s nice out. And not too hot. And I can find my sneakers and appropriate clothing. And I feel like it. Which is not too often. 

What I really mean is that I hurry. I cram more and more into my days until the minutes scream for mercy, pop out of their 60-second boundaries and cry on the floor. Sometimes I join them.

I’m trying to change, really I am.

I’ve made a bit of progress recently. I finally made the decision to remove my daughter from an extra class she was taking that was making both of us want to cry on a fairly regular basis (whyyyyyy do we do things like that???) That was definitely a decision I should have made a long time ago. I switched the math programs that were frustrating us, too. The children took great joy in dumping the books in the trash. It wasn’t the first time books from that particular publisher wound up in Hefty garb, yet I bought it again (whyyyyyy do we do things like that???) Peace has begun to sneak in around the busy edges.

Everyone knows that sometimes the best thing we can do is to drop a few plates on purpose. In direct opposition to every bit of advice out there, though (because I’m contrarian like that) I also have instituted a very unusual practice for this mama: regular TV watching. I know, I know. The average person spends 28 hours per week watching television, and we could all change the world by not watching anymore. For me, that advice doesn’t hold, because just three weeks ago, I literally couldn’t remember the last time I watched a television program from beginning to end. During the day I’m flat too busy and in the evenings there are, if the house has been beaten into some form of submission, books to read and words to write and who has time to watch someone else do something which might be interesting or might not, anyway? TV has just not been my thing. But now I’ve discovered Downton Abbey. I want to live there. I may or may not covet the entire wardrobe of every actress involved. I may or may not wish Mr. Bates’ wife would be hit by a fast-moving carriage. Enough said. And no spoilers in the comments, please–we’re only on season two, episode five.

And you know what? The truth is that now that I’m sitting down and watching an hour or so of tv a few evenings a week, I actually think I’m getting more done. Not only that, I’m not a crazy cranky person while doing it. 

Sometimes, the answer to a more productive life is counterintuitive. Sometimes, it’s countercultural. Sometimes, we need to discipline ourselves to just do nothing.

A rhythm of rest. That’s what I long for.

The girls and I will be traveling to Costa Rica in just two days! I so long for your prayers. Please pray that we will be a blessing to the people there; that the Lord will lay on our hearts just what to say as we meet precious ones He loves in orphanages and schools and on the streets.

Pray, too, that in the quiet of the evenings, He speaks to this mama’s heart. I am asking Him to show me His rhythm, to slow my heartbeat from its crazy pace so it will more closely match His own. All that matters is Him; that’s the message I want to tell with my days and words.

What might you need to do to find a restful rhythm for your own life?

 

Posted in The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, The Prayer Room: Missions | 5 Comments

For the Ones Who have Waited Too Long

God created women to mother.

Whether you’ve been blessed with children of your own or not, God created you as He did every woman– with a unique capacity and gifting to bring life to the world around you.

Could I ask a favor of you right now?

Could you check your own heart and see if perhaps–if just maybe– there is room in your heart for one more? Not one more of your own; not one more to hug and kiss or wash and serve in person every day. But one perhaps far away? One who has been waiting for you for a long time … but whom you have never seen?

I’m truly praying your answer will be “yes.”

Did you ever have one of those gym teachers who’d never received the memo about *not* letting kids pick teams for a game? Can you remember how it felt, to stand on the side of a field, waiting while everyone else was chosen … everyone but you?

I do. And so does Carla, who is five, from Colombia. She’s been waiting for a sponsor for 185 days. Daud, from Indonesia, has waited that long, too–and so has seven-year old Antonio from Brasil. And when I look at their pictures–you can see for yourself at this link:

http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm?referer=123601 

–that’s what I see … faces of children waiting on the sidelines for someone to PICK THEM.

Could it be you? Could you be the one who will choose them out of a sea of faces, and commit to sending in your monthly sponsorship of only $38 to provide Bible training and encouragement, health care, and education for him? Could you be the one whose picture will become a treasured keepsake to her? Could Jesus write encouraging words to one of these sweet children through you–could you be the one called to change his or her life?

Sponsor a Waiting Child from Compassion International on Vimeo.

I think you owe it to both of you to search your heart … and then search these pages. These are the listings of children who have been waiting for a sponsor for over six months.

http://www.compassion.com/sponsor_a_child/default.htm?referer=123601

Ask the Lord, would you please? Maybe the truth is that you need another child just as much as they need you.

Posted in The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, The Prayer Room: Missions | Leave a comment

Recipe: Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is a family favorite. We had dear friends over tonight, and I needed something that would make plenty for everyone (we had 16 people between our two families!) and also not tie me to the kitchen for the night! Chicken enchiladas were a sure hit. This recipe as is serves 8; we of course doubled it for tonight!

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 c sour cream
  • 3 1/2 oz. can mild green chilis
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/3 c green onions, chopped
  • 2 c cooked chicken, coarsely shredded
  • 1 c cottage cheese
  • 9 flour tortillas
  • 2 cps shredded Mexican blend cheese

Mix sour cream, chilis, and soup. Divide in half. To one half, add green onions, chicken, and cottage cheese. Spoon chicken mixture evenly into tortillas and roll. Place seam side down in a 9×13 pan or cookie sheet. Cover with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (until hot and bubbly.)

I’d add a picture, but we ate them all! :-)

Posted in The Kitchen: What's cooking-Recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Dangers of Word-Wielding

” … the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” James 5:11

” The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities, for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For He remembers our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” from Psalm 103

” … You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness …” Nehemiah 9:17

How I want to be more like my Father.

I am a girl who likes to be right. Especially when I am “right-er” than someone else. Which once in awhile, I am. And when I am right-er, I like to point it out. Clearly. With emphasis.

Sigh. Pray for my family.

I can deconstruct your argument in 30 seconds or less, because I can see the weakness at 50 paces. I will point out every flaw and hole in your case. If I begin a letter to you with “First of all,” you can probably hear the gun cock. Someone is going down, and it is not going to be me.

I’ve prided myself in my word-wielding; it’s true. It comes in handy in arguments, as it did in memorizing lines for plays and verses for song performances. I love words; love to write them and rewrite them, arrange them and rearrange them. 

And of course, it’s a gift; one the Lord gave me for good–the thing I find “in my hand,” like Moses’ staff.

Here’s the tricky thing about a shepherd’s staff–it can be used to pull sheep back from the precipice, or to beat them over the head. It can be used to point out which direction the sheep should head in, or to prod them in the rear. For comfort or compulsion; both are possible when one carries a staff.

So it is with words for many of us; within them lies the danger of word-wielding. It’s possible for us to demolish an opponent’s argument. Must we demolish the opponent, too, in the process? If we tear apart the case they’re making, do they feel we’ve torn them apart, too? Are we merely destroying rather than directing? Does it do any good if we point out someone’s wrong-ness, if their feelings toward us become such that they’ll never listen to our words again?

I pray today to become more like my Father; that the fires of trial are bringing dross to the surface and His image in me clears. I pray that He will “set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips,” Psalm 141:3. I pray that I will reflect this elusive quality, most of all:

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” Psalm 103:8

 And I pray I’ll remember to ask myself this question, whenever I wield words … Do I sound like my Father?

Posted in The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Let’s Finish Well!

Today, I’m sharing at Heart of the Matter Online! You can read the entire article there: Let’s Finish Well! Here’s the first half …

“You know it’s coming.

February is nearly over. Which means March, April and May are nearly here. Which means the end of the school year is nearly here.

Don’t feel bad for being excited about that, by the way. You had years of practice anticipating the end of every school year while you were *in* school … before you became the teacher/lunch lady/bus driver/guidance counselor/librarian/janitor/principal/curriculum specialist.

Your kids are getting itchy, too. And so are the curriculum companies. Which means that your mailbox will soon begin to bulge with the latest and greatest in old and new products designed to make next year your best year ever.

They promise.

Can I ask you to do the impossible, dear mom?

This year, when the new catalogs arrive, glance at the cover longingly. Say a prayer that you can find them later. Because then, I think you should do a radical thing: put them away …”

You want to read the rest, right? Check it out here at Heart of the Matter!

Posted in The Schoolroom: Learning together at home, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Being an Intentional Mom

Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by all there is for me to do in a day.

Scratch that. Every day, I’m overwhelmed by all there is for me to do.

Between laundry and Latin, math and mopping, grammar and garbage, sometimes it ALL seems like one great big pile. And I say to myself, “There’s no way I can do this!” Throw a few ideals in about how I ought to read to my children for an hour and a half every day, make cookies every afternoon, play beautiful music for them to listen to, and prepare them to change the world, and I can start feeling like I should probably just give up and go back to bed.

You know why? Because that’s not the life I grew up living. I didn’t live in a home like the one I’m trying to create.

My pastor said something last night in a meeting that I’d never considered before: When God called Moses, he had no example before him of what he was being called to do. He couldn’t google it (Hmmm, “national deliverer …”) or go read a book about it (he hadn’t written those books yet.) There was no paradigm for his calling, no one he could call and ask about how to do it.

We’re blessed that we aren’t in his shoes today. Being an intentional mom is a huge undertaking; a great venture with far-reaching implications for our families, churches and nations. Many of us (most of us, if my own informal polling and that of others is any indication) didn’t grow up in a home we’d describe as “life-giving.” Yet, the examples *are* out there! You can google it, go to the library and read about it, go to church and hear about it. It may not come naturally, but you sure can find out how to do it!

But maybe that’s what intentionality is all about, anyway. Intentionality means  setting our minds to do something we don’t automatically do. It means that we pay attention and work at it. It means we walk in our homes in the supernatural, not just the natural. It means we think before we speak or react, pray before we discipline, ponder before we make an educational choice.

It takes hard work. But that’s okay. We have help.

If you’re looking for encouragement as you live life as mom, I highly recommend all of Sally Clarkson’s books (you can find them here: WholeHeart Online Bookstore) as well as her blog, I Take Joy. Nancy Campbell of Far Above Rubies has some very encouraging newsletters, magazines and Bible studies. The book, The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer is a great resource and talks about how so many things women love to do and think they need to go *outside* of their homes to do can *and should* actually be made part of the fabric of our daily lives inside our walls. Many of my friends write for moms specifically; Kristen Kill’s blog, Hope With Feathers is full of encouragement, Joy Forney’s GraceFull Mama is beautiful, and there are more listed to the right here (so many sweet ladies sharing their lives!) And of course I hope you’ll always be able to find something of encouragement here.

So, sweet friend, what is your biggest obstacle to intentional, godly mothering? How can you overcome it?

(P.S. If you don’t have a friend walking with you along the road toward intentional, godly mothering, consider making one! Grab a book and ask her over for tea or coffee or Coke or organic water or whatever floats your boat and read something and pray together! You can do it!!!)

 

Posted in The Parlor: Being a mom, The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me | 5 Comments

Join Me at Sisters in Bloom–and Titus 2 University!

I’m thrilled to be joining the fellowship of contributors at Sisters in Bloom! Sweet Denise asked me to tell her readers a bit about Titus 2 University, and later to join them as a writer. In the future, I’ll be linking to regular posts there; for today, you can see the post I wrote for them about Titus 2!

 

We’re thrilled to have over one hundred ladies joining us at Titus 2 University as we learn together, seeking God’s wisdom through His word and prayer and study. You can read more about it at the header link above (under Register Now!). Would love to see our group grow even more! If you’re looking for more encouragement specifically in the Titus 2 areas …. loving your husband and children, being sensible and pure, working at home, being kind and subject to your own husband, this might be just the ticket. Check it out! And head over to Sisters in Bloom for more encouragement in your walk with Christ and your sisters.

 


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Have a bloom-filled day!

Posted in Titus 2 University | 2 Comments

Visions in the Valley

We build big dreams at conferences.

We’re on the mountain. We see clearly, far. We slow, hear the Lord’s voice, hear our own voice long buried beneath the bustle, the noise, the busy. We joy in new truths, make lists, have great visions of what life will be like when we get home.

And then we arrive at our own doors.

There is jelly on the doorknob and dishes are piled in the sink. The children we have been inspired to love are all little sinners, our husband is wearing a stained t-shirt, and he still snores.

Our blog still only has forty-two followers. No one bought our ebook while we were away. And that great idea we had? It’s fading fast.

Aslan has something to say to you, sweet mom, living in the juxtaposition of the mountain and valley of vision …

“Stand still. In a moment I will blow. But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs.

 And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly; I will not often do so in Narnia. Here …on the mountain, the air is clear, and your mind is clear. As you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters. And now, farewell–” -Aslan, The Silver Chair

Remember the signs. Nothing else matters. Draw close to Jesus, sweet mama. And press on. You can do it.

Your visions are still valid … even in the valley.

 *note: Thank you to my sweet son, who quoted this as his facebook status and so inspired this post!

Posted in Relevant!, The Parlor: Being a mom, The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me, Uncategorized | 13 Comments

One Thing I Can’t Get

Tears came a surprise, unbidden.

And we’d only just begun.

I sat there, in the ballroom of the Marriott Las Colinas in Dallas with 800 other moms, listening as my sweet friend Sally Clarkson encouraged us to love our children well. My own children, of course, are not all anxious to be referred to as such; once they hit about 13 they’re no longer fond of that term.

Anyway, I sat listening to her painting a picture for us once again of a home full of life, of God, of beauty, of tea and candles, of great stories and music and fun … and I wanted one thing:

More time.

The one thing I can’t get.

I sat there in that ballroom with tears running down my face wishing for one thing: one more chance to tuck my firstborn into bed at night; one more chance to make him a cup of tea and a chocolate chip cookie; one more chance to tie his shoes.

He’s 19. It’s not going to happen.

I did it for many years–and continue with my little and medium-sized children still at home. We sit in comfy oversized chairs and read poetry. There is a pretty regular clamor for tea every afternooon–and they prefer Mad Hatter from the Disney store. If I don’t watch out, I’ll have to replace our candles every weekend because we burn them at dinner … and sometimes during the middle of the day. Most mornings we sit around the living room talking about how God is all powerful and made everything, even the things we can’t see (we’re working our way through a comprehensive Bible study for kids by New Tribes Mission.) Taking a walk to the park has always been a favorite thing to do when school is over, and I’ve had eight children now attempt to kick the clouds from the neighborhood swingset.

But some days are “no” days. Sometimes I let the busy get to me, and my attention goes to the work before me, my own selfishness, the tyranny of the urgent. I’ve missed a few tuck-ins, chapter readings, and frogs in the backyard.

Can I whisper in your ear, sweet mom? Bend in close, okay?

These days … sometimes they go by slow. 

But the years … they are racing by at the speed of life.

Slow down. Pay attention. Look your child in the eyes. Bake cookies. Grab a beautiful storybook and pull them onto your lap. Go look at the frog they just found in the backyard. Serve and love and fingerpaint *one more time.*

Because tomorrow it will be your turn to cry in a ballroom.

 

Visit The Better Mom every Monday for more links on mothering!

Posted in The Parlor: Personal stuff, The Prayer Closet: What God's teaching me | 20 Comments

Cinderella … When the Clock Strikes Midnight (link!)

I just had to share with you this wonderful series by my friend, Chelsea Terwilliger, who’s also talking with us at Titus2University. Chelsea is a multi-talented mom who’s found a new talent in writing, and I just adore her heart and knew you’d love this series, and would want to pass it along too! Giving you (with her permission) a glimpse into the third post in the series on Cinderella …

… the fairy godmother really was onto something when she told Cinderella to be home before the clock strikes midnight.  For the fairy godmother knew in that moment that all the enchanting magic would suddenly disappear. The majestic stage coach would turn back into a pumpkin big enough to make more pumpkin pies than uncle Billy Bob could eat in 10 Thanksgivings.  Imagine, a dress so beautiful even Princess Kate would be green with envy, suddenly transforming into that of a peasant girls’ uniform.  Every magical detail would fade away into the darkness of the night…the later it grew, the more dangerous the situation became.

You know that phrase, “Nothing good happens after midnight?”  It’s pretty much true isn’t it?  I can’t think of very many scenarios that midnight is a good call time for.  I think of the fairy godmother as Cinderella’s mentor if you will.  She loved Cinderella and wanted the best for her.  When she gave this advice to be in by the time the clock strikes 12, do you think it was to punish her?  To cage her in?  To ruin her life?  Oh no!  Quite the opposite indeed.  All the instruction the wise old woman gave, was in Cinderella’s best interests.  Her protection.  Her betterment.  To enlarge her life, not shrink it.  To set her up to win!

Hey guys and gals, you and I both know deep down that Cinderella and Prince Charming hanging out together at that ball a little too long was gonna make them a little too tired, which would lead to them becoming a little too emotional, which would result in them feeling a little too weak in the self-control department and next thing you know they would be heading up to one of those rooms upstairs where it was “a little more quiet.”  Maybe it wouldn’t have been all the way up to one of the bedrooms.  Maybe just a loonnggg talk in the back of his royal stage coach that night.  Or maybe just a very up close and personal conversation in the back gardens of the castle.  In the dark.  Alone.  Wait!  What’s that sound?  The first clock strike.  “Oh, but she’s the one for me…I just know God told me to marry her so this is okay.”  The clock strikes again.  “But he told me he loves me and respects me and because of that, I trust his motive in this moment.”  The clock strikes again, every strike louder than before.  “No one will ever know.  This is a secret we can keep.  Besides, my marriage is on the rocks and I need to feel loved and appreciated for once.”  Dong!  Dong!  Dong!  Was it really just a clock striking?  No, it was the sound of the Holy Spirit saying….YOU BETTER GET OUTTA THERE QUICK!  

Great stuff, right? You can catch the beginning (plus the rest) of the series at Chelsea’s blog, A Woman That Wins.

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