Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sorry! I'm late because ...

Sometimes when I'm late somewhere I feel this need deep down inside to explain why. Most of the time I end up thinking "eh, it's too long a story." So when I told myself that today when we were running late to story time at the library, I thought - aha, a story for the self-proclaimed storyteller.

Dedicated to all the families who are consistently late ... and the apologetic moms who were previously punctual.

When I was single ... I was on time everywhere. Sometimes I drove around the block because I was unfashionably early. I'm fairly certain I had thoughts like "Well, when I have kids I'll get them ready early so we won't be late." What a preventable dilemma. What was I thinking?

It wasn't that I looked down on those who were late. One of my best friends growing up was always the late one. She was always laid back (or had a crazy story about why she was late). My personality is to get anxious when I'm late (though, Lord help me, I'm getting over that) so I always tried to avoid it.

Add two little people to the mix, and you've added a incalculable variable into your timeliness equation.

The day started like this ... darn teeth ... and mean mommy, eating a bowl of cereal right in front of her ...
Story time is at 10:30 and it takes us about 15 minutes to get there ... so I aim to have them ready around 10. Today we were even ready early! Bravo mama!

What do you do when you're ready early? Well, we can't get there early - then they'd be tired of being there before it was even time to start the story. So I decided to straighten my hair. It probably takes 5-10 minutes.

I came out and warned them it was time to switch from cloth diapers to disposable (we can talk about THAT some other time). Glanced at the baby, good she's still dressed! Changed her diaper.

Turned to Shelby ... her cloth diaper was dry! Awesome! Had her sit on the potty. Made sure everything was by the door ready to go. Spied Victoria ... now with only one sock on. DOH!

Reward successful peepee in the potty! Yay! Happy dance! One green jelly bean. One pink jelly bean. One boodoo [blue] jelly bean. One white jelly bean. Done.

Reclothe Shelby. Instruct her to find her shoes.

Search for missing Tori sock. Give up. Find new pair. Doesn't match outfit. Oh well. Find Tori shoes. See Shelby shoes but no Shelby?

Find Shelby. Threaten to skip library.

Both kids by back door. Put Shelby shoes on. Everybody ready?

Climb in car. Strap in seat. Strap in seat. Find sunglasses. Start car. Darn it now it is 10:28!

And then of course, the piece de resistance ... a train. Our county road crosses a track just adjacent to a switch. We came upon a very long train which had just started and was moving slowly. And very long. It strung out before us both ways.

To the right ...

To the left to the left ... everything you own ... um, no.

At least we got to enjoy the fun ding-ding-ding-ding ... the girls always get a kick out of that.

So that's why we were late. It's a long story.

Some other time I'll tell the story about "those parents" that let their children destroy their clothing. I see SO many kids with cute bows and neatly cared for hair. I'm sure everyone could do that if they tried - maybe they just don't care.

That shirt did not come with fringe ...

DOH! Future stylist/doctor/gymnast/momma/... thinks its funny.

Friday, September 18, 2015

My Hope for You, Shelby

This morning was glorious.

It started out pretty good - I was able to do my Bible study, muddle through a workout, and get ready for the day before anyone got up.

But that's just good. What happened next was so much more important.

Victoria was up first, and we were just hanging out for a few minutes on the couch while she shook off the lingering sleepiness and really woke up. Seeing big sister usually perks her right up. We heard Shelby stirring ... some typical, relatively happy mumblings were coming from her bedroom. Yet she didn't come out.

Then she sounded less than happy. She wasn't crying, but she sounded more like she does when someone has to wake her up. She might as well be 16 already in that regard. Trust me when I say that you do not want to have to wake that curly head up.

So sweet and innocent - just caught her like this yesterday - a rare moment
Hoping she wasn't sick, Tori and I made our way back to her room. When I started to open her door I found her just on the other side. She was staring intently into the mirror we mounted on the wall so she wouldn't climb on her dresser to look at her clothes every day.

Her eyes met mine, round with questions, and she said "I want God to take care of me, but He feels far away."

Moms. What do you say? Drawing my spiritual bow I quickly tossed up what had to be the most desperate and pleading arrow prayer heaven has ever received. (Ok, probably not but it felt like it at the time - this is my most important assignment!).

It made me SO happy to hear her say that, but at the same time I felt like I needed King Solomon-strength wisdom. Would the wrong words at this crucial time make her feel like God isn't there? Can't be trusted? Doesn't exist?

Praise Him, it is doubtful this is the only conversation she and I will have about the presence of God. My note to rally the troops of heaven could only be answered with the sword already at my disposal. The sword of truth.

Page 48 of The Best Yes Study Guide (Lysa TerKeurst)
Truth greater than facts. Greater than our feelings. I had just underline a statement attesting that in Bible study yesterday! Shelby was feeling that God was far away, and any scientist might reasonably argue that God's presence was not something quantifiable there in her doorway this morning. But the Biblical truth, the sword I had to slay that lie that He is far away is stronger.

Throughout the morning she has spoken of God. She wanted to give Him a hug. I tried to explain that the only time He had a body like ours was when Jesus came and died for our sins.

She wanted Him to join us for breakfast, so we prayed for His presence even if that didn't mean sitting down and eating. I told her that Jesus broke bread with the disciples and I bet that when we join God forever one day He will probably eat with us.

Later  she said she had looked everywhere for God but that she couldn't find Him. Oh my sweet Shelby Hope. My one hope for you is that you find Him! I told her to never stop looking, because He has promised that she will find Him.

My one prayer, my most important plea, my sweet girls is that you seek and find the Lord. My soul is soaring to unprecedented heights and trembling in awe of what is unfolding before me. Lord please help me guide her to keep looking for You. My greatest joy is for both my girls to find You!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Saying Yes

Last week I started a new Bible study called "The Best Yes" by Lysa TerKeurst. I didn't think I had trouble saying "No." when I know I'm too busy. But I do still have trouble saying no. And I have trouble saying YES when something "feels" selfish. Or like something I would really like to do.

Five years ago I didn't have trouble saying yes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area when Tim asked me to marry him. That trip seems like just yesterday and yet so far away. We've been through so much since then, and now we're a family of four! Victoria Grace was named after the Grace of God, not the lake that tried to kill us. But perhaps she is just as tough as that lake ...

I had to wait to wear it because it was too big and we were paddling a canoe!

I can still hear the loon that was calling when I took this picture
The study has me thinking about the things I want to say yes to. My writing is always the one that is stirring in my heart that I struggling to find what it is God is calling me to. Through this study I am learning to seek and discover and unearth wisdom and then apply it to the decisions I have to make. I feel on the verge of something this time.

The sunrise on my birthday five years ago - He loves us

Another decision I am searching for God's will about is the burning in me to become a Noonday Ambassador. When we were in Nicaragua I bought a pair of earrings and a bracelet a young girl had made. She was selling jewelry to save up for college. When my heart burns angry against the conditions some leaders hold their people in ... the "choices" left for women not wanting to become mothers ... the oft ignored illegal trade of [mostly] women and children as slaves even here in our own country ... with the fire comes the smoky whisper to do something. If you love women like you claim to, DO SOMETHING.

We're not afraid of a little hard work - THIS is camping
Becoming an ambassador would allow me to do something ... to make a demand for the beautiful things these beautiful people craft. To give them the opportunity to do something good. Encouraging. Freeing. I may not be a fashionista, I prefer subtle timeless clothing ... but I love an eye-catching accessory. Especially if it has a story.

Among the thoughts of these pieces with stories, with better lives behind them, an idea was born.

Where are you taking me, Lord? I'm not afraid. Fickle Grace calm as glass ...

Echoing in my soul is the longing to tell stories. Sure, I have my own stories to tell, but what if God wants me to help someone else tell their story? Tears spring to my eyes. Oh Jesus, is this the glimmering gem you have for me? To use the talents you have given me to help someone else put to paper, to words, to the world their stories? My heart and soul cry YES!

This may be my Best Yes. As the morning air crisps in harvest glory ... as dew like scattered crystals kisses the parched summer earth ... I may have found my calling. It is time to dig into that fertile ground in search of the treasure of God's wisdom.

I miss these colors
It felt like saying goodbye ... I long to go back
September ushers in fall and I long, nostalgic, for that season so protracted here in Texas. A taste of what my Wisconsin husband must feel. But as the leaves begin to blaze into the final glory of their being and rustle to the ground ... I will only glance back with a smile and know that God has adventures yet ahead. It's gonna be wild. It's gonna be great. It's gonna be full of Him.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Be Still and Know

Four years ago today, God spoke to me.

Every so often, I hear God speak so very clearly. It's usually when I am low and weak. It isn't necessarily a voice, or in my head ... but it is unmistakable.

This morning ... a verse that is most comforting to me in my busy, noisy mind popped up not once ... but twice ... it was included in both my devotionals. It is the verse God spoke to me four years ago in the middle of a crowd when I thought I was going to loose it in public.

A Cup of Joy: Moments of Faith to Enrich Your Day

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence 
It was the first year of our marriage, and we were expecting a little missionary baby from our trip to Nicaragua ... Lil Bit. Every week I was looking at what Lil Bit looked like, did our baby already have a nose? Amazing! What size fruit was he or she?

Somewhere along the way something started not feeling right. One morning I stood crying on Tim's shoulder in our apartment kitchen, sobbing that I didn't feel pregnant anymore. Surely it was just nerves.

But I began spotting. And spotting. And spotting. Never enough to be sure something was wrong, but enough that I was a nervous wreck. Finally we decided to go in to the birth center we had picked out and even given a deposit to. They felt like everything was normal, but offered to let us have a sonogram if that would make us feel better.

It didn't. I knew without a doubt I should be ten weeks along, and I knew that the empty bubble measuring seven weeks on the screen wasn't what we should be seeing. The tech asked if perhaps I was off on my dates. Everything went quiet. We met with the midwife, something in me still holding out a glimmer of hope ... but she came in and hugged me and said what everyone says when they don't know what to say: "I'm so sorry."

So on September 2nd, I stood outside a building that I would never enter again ... sobbing in my husband's strong arms and wondering how I could get past this. How long would I have to wait for the horror to be over. I did what any sensible girl does when she doesn't know what to do. Ran to momma.

And it was on September 3rd that we had gone to Canton. Distraction is a great medicine isn't it? We were in one of the pavilions and suddenly it felt like there were children and babies everywhere. "No no no!" I screamed inside "Not this ... not the why not me-s and the I wonder what-s." I tore my eyes from a mother kneeling down to comfort a baby in a stroller ...

I actually think it was this same business
My vision filled with crosses. I wasn't hallucinating and it wasn't the tears threatening to spill out shattering my focus. It was an honest-to-goodness wall of crosses. Like a voice out of heaven, the one that came into focus said "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)

A gift my dear friend Leah found for me after I told her this story
Everything went still in the middle of that crowded marketplace. And I knew. It was going to be ok. God was with me. He loved our unborn child who would never be born as much ... more than ... we did. Life continued. We still miss Lil Bit, especially on days like today. This flawed life is temporary and our little brief missionary was a messenger that God is near us even when the world asks how could He be?

And today God spoke to me again. I cried a little. I cherish Lil Bit and I hugged Shelby and Victoria a little tighter than they would have liked this morning. He is good all the time, even in the midst of our sorrows, and it is good to be still and get to know that about Him.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


At the beginning of 2014 I quit Facebook. My reasons were things like comparing myself to others and that it made me feel narcissistic.

Maybe the drama too.

The FB drama follows you even if you don't follow it on FB
A little older and perhaps a little wiser (one would hope) I decided to get back on with a new mindset.

Even though it's "my" Facebook ... it isn't all about me. There are a lot of family and friends who miss out on seeing Shelby and Victoria. Facebook is the most universal way to share these little blessings and their antics.

I'm not here for the drama
Many of the ways I used to communicate with new and old friends have become antiquated. What used to be forums have moved to Facebook groups (which do seem to be easier to use, and puts everything in one place). Some of these friends I've never met prayed me through some of the harder times in my life and even if we've never met they're still friends and I miss them.

Even meeting new people, it isn't unusual for them to ask about Facebook before asking about phone numbers.

I miss family and their kids! Inevitably we've grown up and grown apart. Big holidays are spent with our own expanding families instead of with our extended families the way we did as kids. Say what you will about the authenticity of , but seeing their pictures and thoughts and stories on Facebook makes me feel closer to them than not seeing them at all.

Some changes I've made are:
The kids have enough drama we don't need any more thanks.
1. One problem was that I was starting to get on Facebook first thing in the morning. I've turned off notifications so I'm not having Facebook "pushed" on me. That takes away the temptation to see who liked what before I spend some time with God!

2. I've opened a Twitter account for the more charged things like news and politics. Facebook for friends and family, Twitter for news, weather, sports, and things that tend to start petty arguments and hurtful comments. Perhaps they aren't petty arguments - but no one ever changed their mind about a heated topic because of a Facebook comment war (that I know of).

That's enough about that. Social media and anything on it is only as big of a deal in my life as I let it be. If I'm honest (and I try to be) I'm glad to be back. And I like llamas. But not drama. Unless its llama drama, that I think I could take.