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To Where Does a Week Go?

To Where Does a Week Go?

To where does a week go?

To where can I point my finger and say, “It went here.”

An hour in a gymnasium. Sixty minutes of life gone…   

 And yet in one moment life stood still.

Right then, when she stopped and looked back to make sure I caught it. 

And I had caught it. 

Her smile and time stood still. 

 

She ran off again.

Just like that- she and time were gone again.
Our oldest son jumped from a trampoline across the room.
And he “stuck it.”

His body solid in its place. All that force stopped still, but for a moment. 

One moment and then time forced its way on. But here now- as I write- I “stick” time. 

It is possible to stick time. 

  
Baby girl sat in the bleachers next to me watching and waiting and snacking. I asked her to smile. Her joyous smile looked almost painful. Joy can be like that. My heart is often like that. Somewhere between now and then- and pained slightly at the ever present awareness of fleeting time.
 Time… So ordinary and yet so absolutely precious.  

So mysterious to me and yet incredibly so familiar and known by my Maker.

Is it possible to catch time? To inspect it and determine what was infront of me all along? 
  

It is. Like the mysterious green flying insect perched on our window sill, right infront of my face- time can be caught, zoomed in on, inspected and realized. 

But it takes time to do that.

Twenty minutes gone to catching a green bug and discovering it was a baby dragonfly. 

More time spent to set it free.

And what of me?

Can I look a little closer at myself? Zoom in, inspect, realize and discover all that is in me and then set it free?

Twenty minutes spent with a baby dragonfly made me think so.

Time well spent.

 

Then there were piano lessons. Our oldest spent three hours with his instructor this past week. And the many minutes spent riding in the van to and from… They all add up. And I feel it. The weight of the worry, “Is it time well spent?”

But as I watched him teach his sister her lesson, and as I heard the sound of that piano echoing off the same walls that have echoed their sibling rivalry battles…  My heart felt a peace. 

Because not every moment this week is where I wanted it to go. The quarrels, the whining, the battles that come with every week of raising children- how glorious it would be for no time to have gone there. 

Those moments were heavy.

But the sound of the piano echoing on the walls whispered to my weary heart, “It’s all part of learning and learning is a glorious sound.”

  

To where else does a week go?

It went to countless hours of homeschool lessons. Homeschool battles. Homeschool victories. It went to planning  out more lessons of homeschooling.

By Friday we are all ready for a break.

This past Friday rolled around and there was wood stacked high in the fire pit. We checked the website. The state fire ban was still in effect. Sad faces all around, for the loss of more time for roasting marshmallows. Ah- but a grand idea came to mind and I became the hero for the day when we resorted to a marshmallow roasting on the grill.
Sometimes you have to improvise.

Time well spent.

  

To where else did the week go? 

Time at the grocery store.

Time at the playground.

Time to video games.

Time to a movie night with the kids. 

A whole lot of time to cooking and feeding, cleaning and laundry.

Time to fishing.
  

And catching.
  

Time.

The shadow of the fish he caught so perfectly centered his green shirt. I look at it and am reminded that how we hold up our time says a lot about what we hold up in our heart. 

  

Our oldest son had a friend on his heart. He leaned in, “So, mom. How many minutes…”

He wanted to know how many minutes he could spend with his best bud down the street. 

I love that his brother caught this moment. 

The classic face of young man trying to work his charm. His brother sat next to me, taking pictures and laughing at his attempt. Yes, even the young try and bargain for more time.

  

The young…

My husband and I have been leading up the young children’s ministry at our church. 

Part of this week went to planning lessons and teaching.

Time spent praying for God to reveal to each of their hearts so much more of his love than we ever could.

It’s been the end of every week for us for some time now.

We start the week in a house full of kids.

We end it with even more. 

Time invested. 

  

A new week will start tomorrow, God willing.

More homeschooling, gymnastics, piano, dentist appointments, grocery shopping, planning for children’s church… 

The whirlwind will start again.

Yours will too.

And at the end of the week we may find ourselves asking once again, “To where does a week go?”

God help us to live out this next week in a way that surpasses the choices we made this week. Help us live out this next week in a way that we will be able to know with confidence we spent our time well.
  
 

 

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“This is one of those moments”

I am not going to be able to put into words what all is on my heart about the pictures I am about to share.

Our little girl and I (and our youngest son who was asleep in his stroller) picked out some things from a church sale today. We filled up our bag and before leaving she noticed one book that she really wanted. I had already paid but went ahead and took out one more dollar for the little book in her hand. She smiled, paid and got her change.

I told her we should put the items in our van before meeting my mom and the rest of our crew for the other activities. She happily bounced along my side with her book in hand.

We walked on a sidewalk through the church grounds and came near a little bench. It looked more decorative than anything else, not really a bench you would stop to sit on, especially not in the middle of your agenda. But she rushed ahead of me and hopped right over on to that bench. She said to me “Sit mama. This is a good place to read.”

I was going to to tell her to come along. This wasn’t really part of my agenda. My mom and the other children were already starting lunch and we needed to get to them. But then I began to feel in my spirit a gentle pushing towards that bench and it dawned on me- the words coming as one simple thought: “This is one of those moments.”

Everyday we are given so many moments. So many things to do. It is so easy to miss the God moments for our moments. I do it all the time. I didn’t want to miss another. I walked over to her. I sat down on that flower bed bench in the middle of the church grounds. Baby boy still asleep in his stroller. I looked at our little girl who smiled and said words I cannot shake, “There is a time to read. There is a time to rest.”

Yes, in the middle of all the busyness this little girl was able to sense it- the time to rest. How often do I miss that!

We sat there reading about the runaway bunny and I saw myself in that story- the seasons of my life when I ran away from God, only to have him find me still. I became a fish headed out to sea. He became the fisherman. I became the free bird. He became the tree I came home to. And still- still I runaway so much- on my own agendas.

Earlier this week I rush off somewhat grumpy to the grocery store. He found me in the parking lot- I felt his spirit in the man loading up my groceries singing “My cup runneth over.”

We rush so much, run so much and yet he finds us.

His word is always available to read.
Many times it is read through places and faces and not just words on a page.

His rest is always available to receive.
And it is found in the most unlikely of places- like random benches in flower beds.

I pray for whoever reads this- that when those moments come, you feel it in your spirit. “This is one of those moments.” May you hear in your spirit those words. There is a time to read. There is a time to rest. There is a time to be found. May you experience all those wonderful times as I did today reading with a little girl who could sénse the time better than I.

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Monday is Coming

G.K. Chesterton penned down the words, “…God is strong enough to exult in monotony.”

I often find myself thinking about those words… Especially on Sunday nights. Why? Because Monday is coming. Monotony is coming. Waking up every morning for the next five days to (inner-cringe at these words) lists of tasks needing to be done (even bigger inner-cringe at this thought) in an allotted amount of time…

Oh… You can ask my hubby… The whole idea of a “schedule” is like a needle to my free floating happy balloon.

And then I think of that quote… About God “exulting” in monotony… That is inspiring. Truly, the entire universe is all operating in incredible monotony, sunrise after sunrise appearing in glorious light. And it makes me consider that yes- it is possible to exult in monotony. To shine every single day and to shine (yet another cringe for this late night mama)- in the morning.

(I know some of you morning people have no idea what that was cringe was for.)

It is possible to shine every day and to exult in the monotony.

But for me, that it is going to take the Spirit of God, no doubt. Perhaps for you too.

I pray that you and I get excited about this next week. That, like a child being thrown up into the air by his father’s arms, we begin to feel the arms of God helping lift us up out of our beds every morning- tossing us up and out into the tasks ahead of us- even those things that seem so out of our own reach and ability.

“Again! Again!” May we be able to have that kind of child-like joy for tomorrow as we lay our heads to sleep tonight.

Yes, Monday is coming. Monotony is coming. And the spirit of God in-dwelling in you makes YOU strong enough to exult in the monotony ahead. Shine bright friends.

 

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“Here Mom” – Handing the temptation over

2015/03/img_4677.jpgTonight while all the other children were in their beds our seven year-old son came down to the kitchen. I was busy loading up freezer bags with chicken and various marinades. He stood next to me and helped me by handing me spices and sauces. We talked for sometime. Soon enough all the bags were ready to place in the freezer. I began placing them all in one by one. And then something unexpected happened. Our son came to my side as I knelt there placing another bag. He then said, “Here mom,” and he handed me these three little pieces of chocolate that must have been left from their Valentine’s Day candy. They were freezing cold so I knew he had to have seen them and then grabbed them out of the freezer while I was not aware. I looked at him and told him, “I can’t eat them.” (I have a soy sensitivity and most chocolate has soy letchin.)

What he said next surprised me, “No, I was going to sin, but I am handing them back to you.” I was speechless at first, just staring at the three little chocolates. He could have easily gotten away with it. I had no idea he had taken the chocolates. I then smiled and said, “I am proud of you. A weaker man would have given in.” To that he smiled back and said, “It is really hard not to sin when it is chocolate.” (Don’t I know it brother.)

I share all this tonight because his actions reminded me of something I had on my heart earlier to share. God’s power in a person’s life is not only seen in the way he can turn a sinful life around. His power is also seen in the way he can empower a person to live a life that turns from sin.

If you are struggling with an addiction tonight- I want you to know I am praying for you and thanking God for you. May you be filled with the power of God. May you be able to turn from that temptation and place the addiction in the Father’s hands. May the grace of God empower you to do just that. Lay it down. Walk away stronger. Be in bondage to nothing. That is truly a sweet, sweet thing.

If you are NOT struggling with an addiction tonight- know I am also praying for you and thanking God for you. May you continue to have the strength to resist temptation. May the grace of God empower you to do just that. In a world full of temptations, may you continue to hold tight to your convictions. Know I am proud of you and in awe at you… Because it is not easy. But by the grace of God it is possible.

Thank you Heavenly Father for your empowering grace.

 

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After the Steam

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I woke up earlier than usual this morning, determined to get a head start on the day. Didn’t expect to start my day with this. And what is it? At first glance, it is the obvious, a fogged up mirror where steam has revealed all the smudges and writings left by little hands writing messages after their shower on the perfect canvas they saw. But this foggy, smudged up mirror reminded me this morning of a verse from 1 Corinthians: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Sometimes our actions in “steamy” moments write messages that we don’t even realize we are writing. Our raw emotions cause us to act so far off from the person God created us and knows us to be. In those moments, this Christ-like image that we are supposed to have, it becomes foggy, messy… Marked. Those who are around us lose sight of Christ in us, and to get down to the heart of it, so do we. It’s hard to look yourself in the mirror after you know you acted out or spoke out in ways so far from who you truly are. You lose sight of yourself. You start to just see steam, messiness… Marks. But friend, this morning as I looked closely at that mirror I saw clearly one message circled by a little hand, “A+.” It had been written over yesterday’s message, “God’s love.”

(Those little hands had no idea how God was going to use these markings to touch my heart. Friends, you have no idea how the little things you do can touch a person’s heart.)

Looking in that mirror, I could not see myself. In the steam all I could see was God and “A+.” That is what God’s love does. When we smudge our image and the image of Christ, Jesus takes his hands, the same hands that were nailed to a cross for moments just like these… Jesus hears that heart cry for forgiveness, and he answers it. In our brokenness and in the aftermath of the steam, Jesus writes two words over top our image: “God’s love.” And then, incredibly, he writes “A+.” That is forgiveness.

One day we will see God in his fullness. We will see ourselves in our fullness. But for know I pray we can catch an image of how God sees us and others after the steamy moments have passed and our hearts are made clean by confession. And I share this picture because something tells me that image looks a whole lot like a fogged up, smudge up mirror with the words “God’s love” and “A+.”

Confess. Repent. Ask and receive forgiveness. See that you aren’t a smudged up, steamy mess. You are a son or daughter of God, loved, forgiven and atoned for. God’s love writes your grade. He gives to you the full credit that Jesus, the perfect canvas, earned. Child, your grade is his grade. And that grade, incredibly, after all the steam and smudges, was written as “A+.” May you know that today should you be struggling with the image in the mirror.

 

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A Fire to Change the World

I didn’t read the public figure’s entire post, just the first line, “I have a fire in me to change the world…”

It struck me then, how many of us claim to have a fire in us to change the world.

How I claim to have a fire in me to change the world… Or at least some small part of it.

And it struck me all the harder, as I sat there hours later at our kitchen table, still waiting on our son to finish his assignments. The incredibly strong smell of another dirty diaper approached with our youngest son:

How sad is it? I say I have this fire in me to change the world, and yet I don’t have enough “fire in me” to want to change a diaper? I say I have a fire in me to change the world, and yet I don’t have enough fire in me to want to continue to sit for hours next to a child struggling with his schoolwork, while all his brothers and sisters are long done?

Where does the world begin to change really, if not within the very walls of the home first?

What is to say that this young child next to me, is not one who will grow up to truly change the world?

World missions is often no further than a kitchen table.

 

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In the Stink

So it was the Christmas week church service at my in-law’s church. Hubby was in Germany. The kids and I rode with dad and mom, my sister and nephew. We met up with my brothers and sisters and their families. Most of the kids went into their own classes. Our two youngest stayed with me in main service. There we were all lined up in the church seats.

Worship began and soon baby fell asleep in my arms. Worship ended and we all sat to hear the message. The pastor began reading the account of Jesus being born in the manger. “And you know, there were animals all around him… A donkey… Now don’t go looking around you, but perhaps you have been surrounded by some stinky…” (He pretended to be sniffing.)

I can’t tell you what he said next because at that moment I looked over to my right and their is mom, bent over, sniffing around like crazy… I thought she was kidding around at first until I realized it was no joke. She had smelt something. She reached down to grab her handbag, lifted up her hand, and her face took a sudden look of both curiosity and horror. There was brown stuff on her hand. She shows me her hand, gives it a sniff, practically gags and mouths “Pooooop!”

Now people, I am not one to be disrespectful in church but I was struggling. My eyes filled with tears and a laugh pressed so hard in my throat that all I knew to do was bury my head into our baby who was in my arms, bend over and attempt to look moved by the message.

More sniffing. More searching. More tears.

There was poop on the purse.

There was poop on her shoe.

There was poop on our sleeping baby’s shoe, and on the chair that his foot had brushed up against.

Poop was all around us… Dog poop to be exact. We had strolled into church with poop all over us.

If a sermon ever hit close to home, this one was it!

Because there we were, listening to this account of Jesus being born in the middle of the stink, and in the middle of our stink, all I could do was laugh.

Because the pastor warned us, not to go looking around… And sure enough when we did, there it was. My niece said she had smelt something from the start. But I hadn’t. And it wasn’t our poop! We had just been walking along trying to do right and stepped in someone else’s poop.

Aren’t stinky situations so often like that?

But here is what God showed me in that moment, that stinky situations don’t need to steal our joy.

Jesus came to bring joy. He came in the middle of a stinky situation.

So my prayer tonight for anyone who may be in a stinky situation is this: May God cause you to be filled with tears-flowing, belly-hurting-because-you-laughed-so-much joy in the midst of the stink. Know it will all get cleaned up. It will. And yes- you may have to get your hands more in it than you would prefer to get it cleaned up, but isn’t that what Jesus did? Took the cross to clean us up? It wasn’t his “poop.” It was ours.

Know you are loved by God. Know that God is still faithful to bring new life and joy out of the stinkiest situations.

 

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