Sunday, August 28, 2011

My God - Restorer of Hope

It's 11:30 on a Sunday night.  I have an early morning coming after a long weekend.  I have a lot to do.  Yet, here I sit.  Why?  Because God did something amazing for me this weekend and I need to share. 

God gave me renewed hope, brought some wonderful people into my life and spoke into the lives of many that I care about.  God is good.  And God is doing good things in the lives of His people. 

Our church had a guest speaker this weekend.  He was very good.  Not like the super best speaker ever, but very very good.  I think it is the fact that he wasn't the BEST but very good that actually helped God's light shine through.  See, I wasn't so much distracted by the man as we sometimes can be.  I was able to see God and hear a few things along the way.

God, through words spoken over many of the youth of our church, renewed my hope and vision for the children of our church.  They are not the future of the church, they are part of The Church today.  Hearing what God wanted to say to these amazing kids, young adults, in the presence of our body really softened my heart.

God softened my heart in a few other areas and helped me truly work down a path of forgiveness that I need to be walking down, perhaps more quickly than I have been. 

God brought a beautiful family whom I love and have prayed for during these last many months back home to visit our family.  I saw God working restoration in them and us.  I saw God blessing them and us.  That alone would have made my weekend, the visit of one family would have been enough.  But not for God.

God began, or perhaps continued, healing some hearts that have been agonizing.  He spoke life and love and hope into hearts that were broken.  I saw amazing personal heart change that showed on the faces of those I care about. 

God allowed me the opportunity to reach out to a church member and remind her of how adored she is.  He allowed me to speak a few kind words of truth to her heart to help calm a worried spirit.  God allowed her the opportunity to do something she loves, give.  God is restoring things there as well.

God helped the people of our church family throw a baby shower for a woman most of them had never met, just to show His love.  He got many people to work together to bless one small, young family with His heart for His people.  This alone knocked my socks off.

God brought another family that I love to the shower.  This was in itself a healing, restoring process.  For many.  God restored some things that were taken from this family, or so I think.  I suppose I could be mispeaking, but I do not think I am.

God allowed a friend flag me down in town and stop just to say hi, reminding me how precious one person and one family is in the Kingdom of God.  

God started another precious family on an amazing voyage of discovery, sending them to find what He is calling them to next.  He gave me peace to know that they are in His hands, a heart to love them and the knowledge that they are still part of our body, the Body of Christ.  I am excited to see where He calls them to next and hear what He has in store for them as they seek Him. 

And, though this is little, God gave me a small moment for intellectual exercise in His word, to think and ponder and wonder.  

God is good.  God is GOOD!!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

More Long Winded Ramblings of a Tired Mommy

     I have recently been pondering many difficult questions of life.  Yet, I wonder, as difficult as these are, how important are they?  How much of our life is spent in deep despair, consternation or just plain aggravation over things with no lasting eternal value. 
       As I contemplate that, I begin to go through the rather major events in my life right now.  A lot has changed.  A lot is changing.  A lot more will change when I least expect it.  This leaves me unsettled as I detest change.  I hate it.  I am sure most of us would say the same thing.  Change leaves us unsettled and uncertain.  Even good change brings with it a certain amount of sadness. 
     Over the last 4 years or so, I have endured more change than I thought was possible.  Some good, some incredibly painful and some down right angrifying.  (Like that, I couldn't think of a good word.)  And I know that above many people's problem with change, I have to add an additional problem that others may not.  I like to have control.
     I know, we all do, right?  Who doesn't want to choose what we watch on TV or eat for dinner?  Frankly, me.  I don't care about those things, but things that seem of vital importance to me, well, I want them done my way.  Not just done well, done well my way. 
     I am a perfectionist.  I demand perfection in myself and fail to achieve it every time.  I know perfect is impossible, but I never feel as though I've done it well enough.  I don't demand perfection of others, in fact I tend to give much grace, too much I've been told. 
     So, what is my point?  I warned you in the header, this is a blog of my ramblings, you might want to stop while you are still ahead.
     My point, as you ask, is I have recently been, well accused is a bit harsh.  Let's say that it has been said of me that I am a "controlling woman".  I hardly can say that without laughing! 
     Now you are confused.  I can see it in your eyes.  Ok, I can't really see your eyes, but I'm just guessing.  "How can a woman who admits she likes to be in control laugh at the thought of being a controlling woman?"
     Good question.  So I've been asking myself.  If I really think this assessment of me is wrong, yet I openly admit to anyone interested enough to listen or read my blog (so a whole like 8 people) that I like to be in control, how can I be upset by being labelled a "Controlling Woman"?

     Oh, wait, you are waiting for the answer?  Well, I'm not sure I have it entirely.  But I have spent the day pondering this very thing.  Because right now in my world, it really matters to me.  And it just might matter to others that matter to me.  (See, I started a sentence with But, Because and And.  Rule breaker!!!  Sorry, humor me, it's late.)

     Here's what I think.  I think we all want some control.  We all want things to go the right way.  Most of us think we know what that way is.  Some others of you are blessed with the gift of "it doesn't really matter".  Some of use are not.  So we make mountains of mole hills and control everything within our grasps.  Yet I have a huge respect for chain of command and line of authority.  I will complain, disagree and petition to be heard, but if the boss says "Do this" I do this.  And I attempt (though often fail) to do this, without complaint.
     So I guess I want to be heard.  And I want to know that my voice counts.  And I want to know that the authority to whom I am submitting shares my conviction in the area in which I have submitted. 
     So I want to be heard.  Do I insist on having it my way?  Honestly, no.  I like it my way.  But if the authority has heard me out and shares my heart, then I trust them and follow, knowing that it will work out in the end and this "issue" must be one of those of no eternal value type problems. 
     Which brings us to the present.  I have recently found myself in a leadership role within my church.  It is not a new role for me, it is one in which I have functioned in the past and managed with some degree of success.  In the interest of full disclosure, I was not asked to take this role, I chose to take it.  This does help make the point of my "Controlling woman"ness.  In the past when I have had this role, I have had a clear leader to whom I could turn that held the authority and I served under her (or him) with the authority bestowed upon me. Now I serve under a ruling board that I respect and admire.  But there is not mediator between us.  This makes me nervous.  I don't want that much authority.  See, I want to be heard, and I'm willing to step up and do a needed job.  I'm willing to manage people and events (just not laundry).  But I don't want to be the top authority reporting directly to the boss.  I want to be down one on the food chain.  This is an uncomfortable place. 
     I don't strive for "power".  I don't even really like it.  Not really.  I strive for quality.  I know I have some skills and gifts given to me by God for His purposes, I just don't want to be the big boss.  I want to be kind of in charge of some stuff, allowed the privilege to serve and listened to when my "expertise" is helpful. 
     Even in my home, I am not a controlling wife.  I manage (I chuckle as I type that) my home and make a huge portion of the daily running decisions, but I never, ever tell my husband what to do.  I make suggestions.  Sometimes forcefully.  But I never let his decision to do something different cause division.  I know that it isn't worth it.  I've seen what I'm like when I let our disagreements on something as silly as room color eat at me.  I'm not willing to go there in my marriage.  Usually.  I'm not perfect, but I see how not important most "arguements" are. 
     See, I haven't forgotten, though you probably have, where we started.  I have come full circle.  I think what the difference between being controlling and having a desire to be in control is all about the perspective.  I know, or try to, the things that are eternally important.  When I begin making mountains out of mole hills, I begin to slide toward that controlling personality.  When I get a grip and look at life in regards to the eternal value of the issue, I begin to slide back to the "I want input, but will follow the leader" side. 

     Now, if I could learn to control the environment directly around me (aka my home) as much as I would like to control the world, I'd be set.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Reasons I Shouldn't Be Writing This

In the past few years I have really come to enjoy writing.  I've always found that putting words "on paper" (even virtually so to speak) comes easily to me.  I can ramble on endlessly in writing.  I don't claim to be good at it, just to enjoy the process.  I began blogging as an outlet for my writing.  I have lately become slightly obsessed with my blog, trying to make it more me and yet more interesting to a larger audience, should I some day have one.  Yet, I often find that the time I spend blogging detracts from other areas of my life.  So today I decided to write a Top Ten list (in no particular order) of reasons I should NOT be blogging right now.

1.    I have a sink (and counter) full of dirty dishes.
2.    I have math to do.  Well, I have math to grade.  My 10 year old will expect to know tomorrow how she did today. 
3.    I have lessons to plan.  As my son and I can't seem to keep track of silly items like his phonics book, so I need to find him some school work. 
4.    I have a LOT of laundry, clean, in my room that I need to handle.  Ugh.  Not more interesting than writing.
5.    I have a LOT of laundry, dirty, that needs washed and purged.  NOT more interesting than writing.
6.    I have a cute baby I could cuddle.  Of course I am watching him kick and play next to me, so it's not too bad.
7.    I have a really tired husband that needs to go to bed, but would rather stay up with me.
8.    I have a school room to reorganize.
9.    My living room looks like a laundry mat exploded in it.  Someone should really do something about that.
10.  My children are refusing to go to sleep and I shall have to deal with them.

I did manage to put off writing the list until school was done, dinner was over and kids were sent to bed.  Yay me!

What things do you find to get in the way of things you would rather not do, or even things you enjoy doing but get put off?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Hard Times

Why?  How many times have we all asked "Why?"  Especially we ask why God allows certain painful or sad things.  I am no theologian.  I cannot pretend to use the bible to give good, solid answers.  I have, however, formulated an opinion on this matter. 

Have you ever watched people come together in a crisis?  My husband's family experienced this many years ago.  My husband's cousin was seriously injured in a parakiting accident.  He was lucky to survive.  It was a long, painful recovery, for the boy and his family.  What really sticks out about this is how all the area farmers, family friends, jumped in to help care for their farms sending equipment and men to handle all that needed done in the family's time of need.  This happens over and over in the farming community.  They draw together to help their own.

The same thing happens in churches.  Illness and loss brings people together to love on one another, often much more so than the joyful times.  People will bring so much food to a funeral dinner that the family doesn't have to cook for days.  In these moments, the grieving feel the arms of God when their friends, and sometimes just acquaintances, reach out to them.

God gave us families to love and accept us, to encourage and help us.  But in those really bad times, our family is in the grief with us, often unable to provide for our needs due to their own hurting.  This is why community is so important.  Sometimes community is your church.  Sometimes it is your neighbors. 

This brings me back to my theory. Remember I am not a theologian.  I cannot cite scripture to support this.  I don't know why God allows bad things, but I wonder if it is perhaps at least partly to allow us to come together and meet one another's needs.  And, maybe, just maybe, it is also to help us remember what is really important in life.

Sometimes the timing seems to compound the pain.  For example, my husband's dearly loved grandmother had a heart attack at my bridal shower and passed away one month before my wedding.  My husband had to deal with the loss of his grandmother on top of the stress of planning a wedding.  My mother-in-law had to with the sudden, unexpected loss of a very dear loved one while dealing with the emotions that go with the marrying off of her eldest son. 

These are the times I especially think that maybe God is helping us to see that certain things that can draw our focus so intently, though important and good, are so much less important than family and friends.  And perhaps that faith in God as our strength and provider is THE most important thing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

10 Thoughts on Marriage

I am no expert on marriage, after all I have only been married once.  (That's a joke, not intended to offend those of you on your second or third marriage.)  I am happily married and have been married for 15 years.  I have 6 children and they all know that I am totally in love with their father.  So though I am no expert, I have opinions and ideas that have worked well for me.  Here they are, my 10 Thoughts on Marriage.  

1.  With God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) No matter the state of your marriage, God can fix it.  He is the healer and restorer of broken hearts. 

2.  Without God, I'm not really sure how two sinful, selfish people ever expect to make it.  Maybe other people can figure out how to put aside their selfish nature and seek first the happiness of of another without the help God, but I'm just not sure how.  Before I knew God, my marriage was good.  But then, it was new.  We were happy enough the first 5 years, but looking back I can see the road we were heading down would never have worked. 

3.  Children are a blessing of a happy marriage, not a ticket to a happy marriage.  Having a baby will not fix a bad marriage, nor improve an already good marriage.  Children add stress as well as joy to a couple's lives.  The inability to have children adds even more stress to a marriage.  Your marriage needs to be strong and happy independent of children.

4.  Don't let the other adult living in your house be a stranger when the children move out.  Children will be a huge focus for about 20 years, then you have the next 20+ that you still have to be able to live with this other person.  There will be days, sometimes many back to back, where you must give more focus to the children than your spouse, but you must make time for your spouse.  My children love and are comforted by the fact that my husband and I adore each other.  It makes them feel secure.

5.  Your spouse should be your best friend.  See number four.  There may be times you need to talk to a woman (or man) about things your husband (or wife) doesn't understand, but your spouse should share the secrets of your heart.  He should be the one in whom you confide your fears and the one with whom you share your joys and successes as well as your heartbreaks and failures.

6.  Men and women are different.  Deal with it.  Try to appreciate it.

7.  Marriage isn't 50/50.  It is 100/100.  On the days that you can only give 20% your spouse has to give 80% so that on the days he can only give 20% you can give 80%.  If you are looking to get what you give in a marriage, you will always be disappointed. 

8.  It's a good thing your spouse isn't perfect or he(she) would never have chosen to marry you.  I'm thinking this shouldn't need any more explanation.  You know you.  If you are honest, I'm guessing you know what I mean.

9.  Forgiveness is essential.  Even when you don't want to.  Perhaps especially when you don't want to.  See number 1.

10.  Laugh.  Play, have fun.  This is probably the hardest for me.  Sometimes you have to let your husband chase you down with a garden hose.  Laughter helps with the joy.  It helps children feel happy and secure.  It is essential for a healthy heart.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Note to All the Children in the World

I came from a family of 5 kids.  I have 6 kids.  I would like to address a few things children who have at least one sibling need to know.  If you are or have an only child, many of these things may be true for you as well, I just can't speak to that as having no experience as such.  Now, the more children in your family, the more amplified these statements become.

1.  If you have a sibling, you might as well forget your name as you will rarely be called by it.  Just give it up, realize you will forever be "Be-Suzann!" or "Z-Allison!".  Don't bother correcting your parent.  They don't much care what your name is.  After all, they gave it to you, they ought to have the right to revoke it at any time.  And no, don't bother with nametags.  Sure you might think it's cute now, but when your parent is flustered with dinner burning, baby crying, phone ringing and someone at the door, they have lost the ability to read and are just as likely to revert back to "YOU!"

2.  If you have siblings, remember this, your parents really do love you best.  It's true.  You are their favorite.  Sure, there may be 10 of you, but you are their favorite.

3.  When you think you would love 5 minutes of peace in the bathroom and think "I will never be alone!"  just remember you will NEVER be alone.

4.  When you are a grown up, you don't have to like these people.  But it sure is nice if you do.

5.  Everyone must make choices with their income, from the wealthiest to the poorest.  If your parents chose family over stuff, count yourself very lucky to have parents who value you more than TVs, cars, vacations and dinners out.  The younger you are in the family, the more this probably means to you.  When you realize that the whole world thinks your parents are crazy for having 6 kids and you are number 6, it just ought to make you feel lucky to have crazy parents.

6.  Your parents are human.  They love you more than you can know, unless you have children.  They have a huge weight on their shoulders and trying to make sure you got exactly the same number of peas as Bobby and not 2 more is not on their grand list of concerns.

7.  If your parents have forgotten exactly when your first tooth came in, forgive them.  I bet they haven't forgotten the day you came in!

8.  No matter how many of you there are, or how often your name gets butchered, or whether they can remember whose shirt is whose, your parents would not trade you, even on your bad days, for anyone else in this world.

And lastly, a note to the parents:
The grass is always greener and someone else's kids are always cleaner. 

I'm linking this up at These Five of Mine Plus Two.  Check them out for more Handful of Heart link ups.

Holiday World 2011!

Holiday World 2011!

Baby # 6

Baby # 6
Welcome to the world and welcome to our crazy family!

Fort Benning

Fort Benning
We finally made it to Georgia!!!

Just a day at the park!

Just a day at the park!

My Hero!

My Hero!
I don't do dead things. Fortunately for me, God gave me boys!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!

Much awaited 2009 PJs from Daddy!
Daddy and Grandma make Jammies every year for the kids, They love it!

Christmas in PJs

Christmas in PJs
Don't I just have the cutest kids?

2010 Jammies

2010 Jammies
Once again Daddy pulled it off. They look cute!

Round 2 birthday parties

Round 2 birthday parties
Cake number 1 of 3 done. I am so not an artist, but I think it came out pretty well!

My Girls

My Girls
Borrowed dance clothes, my girls sure look cute.

Couped up

Couped up
More images below showing the children feeling a bit "couped up" from the long winter!

Chickens: Take 2

Chickens: Take 2
Cute chicks!

The robot cake. I am glad my kids' standards aren't as high as mine!

Tree Climbers

Tree Climbers

Summer Fun!

Summer Fun!
Hi Daddy! Hope you are having fun at work!

This one is so bad, I had to label the cake so you would know it's not a cow!

Dressed for Church!

Dressed for Church!
Come as your favorite Bible character night!

Too cute for words!

If the boy wasn't so tall, I could get a picture of his face!

Establishing the pecking order!