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Archive for April, 2012

For about a month I planned and pondered an outdoor, tea party themed, baby shower for my sister-in-law who is giving birth to her first baby girl. I was so excited for the shower and spent a great deal of time preparing for it. It did turn out beautifully. The setting was lovely, the decorations were sweet, the tea was wonderful, and the food was oh so yummy, the ladies in attendance looked stunning and were so helpful. It all turned out just as I planned with the exception of one dreadful thing.

It was insanely windy. It was horribly windy. It was…destroyed the baby shower windy.

Before the shower started I had just a short window of time to decorate and set up. During that time the wind was really starting to whip and all the pretty little pink things I was trying to set out were flying away about as fast as I could put them in their place…I started to pray.  I could have cried after all the effort and heart I had in the whole thing. By the time the wind reached its epic scale it was too late to easily move the party indoors…I was committed and so we all gritted our teeth and held onto our “tea” hats with clenched fingers and everyone tried desperately to keep skirts from flying over heads. It was a sweet mess and I am sure it will be a precious memory for all of us someday.

Through it all I was grimly determined that the wind WOULD die down. I just knew it and I knew it because I was praying and desperately believing that it would. I prayed over and over, “Lord, please let the wind stop. Let it stop.”

The wind didn’t stop and you know…

It started to rain.

Wind and rain.

Fortunately, we had scooted and squished safely indoors right before it began to sprinkle. Everything still turned out okay. The mommy-to-be was able to open her gifts and we all enjoyed very close company and the food still tasted wonderful after it was brought inside.

In spite of my very best efforts to make everything turn out exactly how I had planned, it turned out completely differently and not necessarily any less enjoyable…better memories I’m sure!

But, it left me questioning, as I have often done in the past: “What is the point of praying about all these fairly insignificant things? Praying about them rarely turns the tide of how they end up turning out. How many times have I prayed for something and it hasn’t worked out anyway?”

Does anybody hear me on this? Have you ever felt the same? Doubted the same?

I had not realized how deeply this thought pattern had dug itself under my skin until I read this by Elizabeth Elliot this morning:

The Weapon of Prayer

News came one day which indicated that a matter I had been praying about had deteriorated rather than improved. “What good are my prayers, anyway?” I was tempted to ask. “Why bother? It’s becoming a mere charade.” But the words of Jesus occurred in my Bible reading that very morning (and wasn’t it a good thing I’d taken time to hear Him?): “If you, bad as you are, know how to give your children what is good for them, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him?” (Matthew 7:11, NEB).

Are you as often tempted as I am to doubt the effectiveness of prayer? But Jesus prayed. He told us to pray. We can be sure that the answer will come, and it will be good. If it is not exactly what we expected, chances are we were not asking for quite the right thing. Our heavenly Father hears the prayer, but wants to give us bread rather than stones.

Prayer is a weapon. Paul speaks of the “weapons we wield” in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. They are “not merely human, but divinely potent to demolish strongholds” (NEB). The source of my doubts about its potency that morning was certainly not the Holy Spirit. It was the unholy spirit, the Destroyer himself, urging me to quit using the weapon he fears so intensely.

I was struck by her words! How exactly they admonished the doubts I had been having. If nothing else, I should pray because Jesus tells me to pray.

After reading this devotion by Elisabeth and asking The Father for forgiveness for the doubts I had been having, I found the work needing done in my heart was not quite finished, because then I read this from, “My Utmost for His Highest:”

God always ignores your present level of completeness in favor of your ultimate future completeness. He is not concerned about making you blessed and happy right now, but He’s continually working out His ultimate perfection for you.”

Those words are a bit difficult to stomach, but I believe they hold so much truth. The Lord did not intend for everything to work out perfectly for me during the shower. At the time, I did not feel exactly blessed and happy.  I don’t know His reason for the gales of wind and how the blusteriness of it all affected everyone who helped with and attended the shower, but it seems quite clear that I needed some chipping (or perhaps blowing) away at my old self and a working towards “ultimate perfection.”

On a bit of a side note, here are some of the recipes and ideas I used for the shower: http://pinterest.com/, people!

For a baby shower!

This turned out so cute!

down the rabbit hole tea party... from blue satin sashes blog

It was almost (the grown-up version) this cute and pretty!

Baby Shower Tea Party Chocolate-Covered Strawberries: 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped,   1 pound large strawberries (about 20), washed and dried well,   1/3 cup finely chopped pistachios (optional)   Directions: Place chocolate in a bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally, until melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. One at a time, dip each strawberry in chocolate, twirling to coat; then sprinkle chocolate-c...

My mom made these. What’s not to love about chocolate dipped strawberries?!

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He comes home from work and in my eyes he just spent the day ruling a kingdom. This husband of mine, he may as well be the president of The United States. He makes so many decisions and carries so much responsibility. I would crack and then shatter if it were me. Perhaps today he built a shop building and then drove a hundred miles to finish another. Maybe he hired a new employee or made a business decision involving more financial ins and outs than I would hope to deal with in a lifetime. He loves it all…a wonder to me. Sometimes, he comes home with his tales of the day and I am just mystified…a mixture of respect, gratefulness that I’m not in his shoes, and even sometimes a feeling in my stomach and a voice that attacks my mind…I’m not worth anything; what did I do today that could ever compare to what he accomplished? Then he asks the question: “How was your day, honey and what did you do?” An innocent and sweet query and most of the time I joyfully jabber on about the fullness of my day and how cute the kids were. Today, though, his question just kind of sliced through me and I mumbled something like, “oh, just my usual.” What I was really thinking was close to, “NOTHING…I did nothing compared to what you did today…why do I have so little to offer?”

There are days when I lose my worth. I forget what I am worth. At the end of the day what I have done is worthless.

After our conversation I went back to business as usual and busied myself with feeding everyone and then cleaning afterward, then bath time, then bedtime. All the while this wretched worthlessness dragged at me and I felt a little panicky that I have so little to show for myself. I’M NOT WORTH ANYTHING. Finally, my busyness slowed down and I realized how I had scourged myself mentally. I wonder whose voice it was that really put the wretched thoughts in my mind and then it strikes me…my mind processes, ”Get thee behind me.”

How can I think that I am of such little value? I have been entrusted with the lives of two of God’s most precious creations. It is my job to train them, to love them and protect them. All of the sudden I’m on the flipside of how I felt before. I have great responsibility and the stakes are incredibly high. I have little room for error in how I lay out this life in service to my God, in being a wife for my husband and in raising my children. I have been blessed in more ways than I can tally and thinking back on all the things I did today I am kind of overwhelmed. All the games of “Hide and Seek,” the teaching, the cleaning, the playing, the cooking, the training, the loving, the all of me that I lovingly poured out for my family today.

In a way, we have all been given our own little or large kingdoms to rule. We each have huge responsibilities and must make decisions that are sometimes so big they alter lives. And as for what we are worth…we are worth the price that Christ was willing to pay for us. He is the great equalizer and offers the same redemption and eternal life to me as he does for you. Each one of us is precious. Sometimes I just need that reminder.

Funny how a verse read in the morning fits just right at the end of the day…

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men. (Colossians 3:23)

May each day find me striving for this,

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.(Proverbs 31:10)

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The Craft Corner

Just thought I would share a little mommy tip that really works for me. I’m sure other moms have these too and are way ahead of me in how they organize and do crafts with their kids, but this is how the craft and book corner is set up at our house.

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As you can see, Martha Stewart has a lot on me. The books are shoved in and everything looks a little dumped, but it’s an arrangement that works for us.

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Puzzles and games are on the top shelf just out of reach because little hands love to dump these.

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Books and paper are on the second shelf and are easily and frequently accessed by the little ones. On the bottom shelf is a tub of paint and other craft supplies. Also a basket with scraps, pipe cleaners and other craft supplies. This is also our play dough station.

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The table and two chairs see a lot of use. I keep an old beach towel on the shelf that I throw over the table when it is time to paint. Also handy are two of daddy’s old t-shirts that I throw on the kids as full body protection against paint splatters.

We love our “craft corner” and use it constantly. When you are a busy momma trying to keep toddlers occupied fuss free is the best policy!

I would love to hear how you organize and do craft/book areas with your children.

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It took this little boy’s hands, his gesturing, to wake me up to it…

Crying, he woke from his nap wanting the warmth and lap time snuggles that I offered him. His head rested soft against my chest and little hands reached out to pull toward us this book sitting on the coffee table. A book about David, when David was a boy, too. The story about how David used something very small to be victorious against something very large…or was it the other way around? What events transpired that made this shepherd-child become a king? I read the story with colorful illustrations aloud again, just one of many times. My two little ones with blond hair will know why this boy-child became a king.  But what other truths will my children gain from this story that they will hear and read again for a life of time? What spiritual epiphanies will knowledge of David simmer in them through childhood and boil over to joyous understanding in another, perhaps adult, time of life? Reading the child aged story to my sleepy boy was just such a “time of life” moment for me.

I was the one to really wake up this time.

David faced an impossible foe. Entire armies and a powerful king were too afraid to face the giant named Goliath. Do you face an enemy like obstacle that seems equally invincible? Is there a giant in your life? An addiction; guilt because of sin, both past and present; feelings of inadequacy? What is your Goliath and is the obstacle you face so impossible and overwhelming that the large majority of people would tell you that it could not be beaten…you are already defeated? David tried to wear Saul’s armor and carry his sword to face Goliath. None it fit…the weapons weren’t right. What weapons have you used to battle your giant? Are they the right ones? Stripped of the best defense and offense that man had to offer him, David went to his knees and trusted. He laid down his fear at the feet of God and this time his weapon was just right. What was David’s secret in defeating his giant? He was willing to do whatever it took to destroy Goliath and he was obedient to what God desired of him, even to the precipice of death itself.

The brain ticks off “buts” and excuses. The excuses might go something like this, David was one called by God, someone that God directly spoke to. He was special. He was a king; the Psalmist, for goodness sake! What am I when compared to him? The answer is flesh and blood; a sinner; the same. Even after David’s triumphs he still failed and he failed miserably. He had one of his best soldiers killed so that he could posses the man’s wife. Most of us can’t even fathom committing a sin of that magnitude. Yet, David was forgiven just like you and I can be forgiven. Is your sin and your “giant,” too, unforgivable? Are you past the point of ever returning to “the fold,” to The Shepherd? How did David win this battle and how can you defeat your sin? David confessed his sin, “I have sinned against the LORD.” (2 Samuel 12:13) He took full responsibility for the sin he committed and didn’t blame it on the way God made him, or place blame on Bethsheba. David said, “I have sinned.” Then he asked forgiveness for what he had done, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. (Psalm 51:2-3). He poured out his heart before God and realized that only the grace of him who saves could rescue him from his own depravity: “ . Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit”.” (Psalms 51:10-12)

Put simply, this is how was David able to turn from his sin: He repented; true, honest repentance. He laid himself out…broken…willing to serve, and God heard his cry.

God will hear our cries, too. It is not too late to turn back to Him just like it wasn’t too late for David even after his atrocious sin; or for the prodigal son who returned repentantly, willing also, to serve.

But remember, God sees our hearts and knows fully our intentions and sincerity. He will see past any fluff, or lack of true willingness to repent. You must choose now to ask forgiveness and you must decide as an act of your own will to truly repent. There is no promise that says this will be easy. Here are further instructions on how to do it that offer the promise of redemption, though not easily earned: “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7: 14)

If this is the state of heart that we offer God while seeking forgiveness, it will be done. We will be, “washed white as snow.” I like how Corrie Ten Boom describes this…in my own loose paraphrase: “ What sin is behind you will be like a fish tossed back into the water; it won’t resurface unless you fish for it again.”

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