Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Reasons Why

It's been a while since I last blogged.  There are some good reasons why.  I'll list a few here:

I have four children.

One of them is a toddler.

I homeschool another one of them.

The other two keep me bouncing the minute they walk in the door after school.

My husband owns and runs a successful business and although I'm incredibly grateful for this business, I will say that his work is often like a very fast train and it's been a while since he's been able to get off that train.

Another reason I haven't blogged lately is that I got stuck.  I began this blog as a series of little devotionals and while that's all well and good, I found that I wasn't writing at all unless I had a sudden inspiration and the time to flesh it out, meditate on it, and polish it.

Well, for all the reasons I listed above, you can see that my blog was going nowhere.

And I wasn't writing.

So I'm changing things up.

I'm going old school and am going to just begin "journaling," if you will.  If that results in something of value that I can share with someone, then great.

If not, well, at least I'll be writing.

God does something in me when I write.  I can't explain it.  I just feel Him more when I write.  It brings me to places of understanding - and maybe not even understanding, but acceptance.  Peace.

So here I am again.  Choosing peace.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Peace Like a River

Now, if you grew up in or even around church at all you'll be familiar with the little ditty we all sang in children's church...

I've got peace like a river
I've got peace like a river
I've got peace like a river in my soul...

Sang that song about a gajillion times.  Seriously.  But I had no idea that the verse was actually tied to scripture.  Thank God for Beth Moore and the countless hours the woman spends studying the Bible.

If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your righteousness like the waves of the sea.  Isaiah 48:18

This is a new picture for me.  I heard countless sermons as a child about peace.

"Peace is like a tree in a storm.  The winds blow and though the branches sway, bend and even break at times, but the trunk of that tree WILL NOT MOVE."

I don't want to discount this picture.  It's a good one.  I have tapped into that imagery many a time, through many a storm.

But this river picture resonates deeply with me.  

A river is constantly moving.  Sometimes the current is swift and sometimes it's slow; sometimes it's a steady current and sometimes the rapids can be rather frightening.  

But a river also has boundaries - its banks.  And a river has direction - a path.  

This picture challenges my understanding of peace.  I've always thought peace was conditional.  

On my circumstances.  On my schedule.  On my state of mind.  

But if peace is like a river and the conditions of a river change ALL THE TIME, then the peace is not relative to the conditions of the river.  It is peaceful because it is a river and it because it is submitted to the creation and direction of God.  

My theme for this year is "Choose Peace."  

My life is NOT peaceful.  I am a busy woman.  I HAVE FOUR CHILDREN.  Enough said.

Beyond the day to day "busyness" of my life, there are many other factors that rob me of peace.  Little triggers that can so easily send me into a place of anxiety, unhappiness, discontentment.

A disagreement with my husband.

A disobedient child.  (Both of these, by the way, tend to lead me into false thinking that I am a failure as a wife and a mother.)

A simple mistake or oversight on my part.

The knowledge that someone isn't happy with me - for whatever reason.

And more dangerous are the painful memories from my past that pop up unexpectedly - they can take my breath away at times.  I'm always surprised by the pain.  And it always threatens my peace.

So this idea that peace is like an inconstant river is freeing for me.  I have peace because I am created by the Great Creator.  I have peace because I am choosing to walk in submission to His will for my life.  I can choose peace because it is a gift from God offered freely to me - regardless of my circumstances or how I FEEL at any given point in my day or my life.

Let the river flow...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Healing Hurts

My son, Charlie, is a lot like his dad.  All three of my sons, of course, bear Mark's resemblance, but Charlie seems to have received the greatest chunk of the "Mark" genes.  For the most part, this is a good thing.  Of course, as parents, there are always things we hope our children DON'T get from us and one of things Mark hoped his kids would avoid was his proclivity for canker sores.  These awful ulcers pop up inside Mark's mouth on a regular basis and unfortunately, Charlie has already had his fair share of them.

Charlie tends to endure pain in silence.  The kid has had a broken leg and a broken arm,  a horrible herpes infection in his eyes and pneumonia.  Most of these illnesses/injuries he suffered through while quietly playing Legos on the floor.  He can take a lot, so I know he is really hurting when he comes to me with heavy, downcast eyes to ask for help.

The other day I discovered that Charlie has had two large canker sores in his mouth for days, trying to deal with the discomfort on his own.  He mentioned this to me at bedtime and with more than a little hesitation.  We both knew what we were likely facing and neither of us were excited about it.

We have several approaches we take for pain relief when dealing with canker sores.  First, I offer him warm milk or yogurt.  Both are very soothing, but do little for his pain.  They make him feel better for a few minutes and maybe get his mind off the severity for a little while.  This is always our first approach because we both know the next option for pain relief is also the only one we have left - and the least desirable.

KANKA.  Ever hear of it?  It's this little vial of thick, orangish-yellow, strong smelling liquid.

This stuff is either from the devil or from God - depending on your perspective.

KANKA can be applied directly to a canker sore.  When applied, the patient will experience up to a minute or more of intense burning (MORE PAIN) until the medication actually anesthesizes the sore.

This is how we do it.

Me:  "Charlie, do you want me to use KANKA?"

Charlie:  "No."

Me:  "Are you sure?"

Charlie:  "It will burn!"

Me:  "I know, but then it will feel so much better, right?"

Charlie:  "Yeah.  But it burns so much when you put it on!"

Me:  "I know.  I'm not going to force you, Son.  If you want me to help you, I will put the KANKA medicine on it.  If not, you can just drink some more milk to see if that helps."

Charlie (now crying):  "That won't help."

Me:  "Well, then, do you want me to do it?"

Charlie:  "I guess so."

Now picture the scene.  A nine year old boy follows me into the bathroom, silently crying, dreading what's to come but resolved because he knows he can trust me and he knows from experience that even though he will hurt more first, he will hurt less eventually.  Then, he submits himself to my hands and stands perfectly still while I apply this stinging medicine on the sores in his mouth.  We work together and within a few minutes he is finally experiencing real relief.  His whole countenance changes.  He walks to the breakfast table with a smile on his face, sits down and enjoys a meal for the first time in days.

There's a spiritual application here, of course.

How many times have I endured pain silently because I was afraid to submit myself to the healing hand of the Father?  How many times have I assumed a path to healing was from the enemy simply because that path wasn't pain free?

Too many times.

Yes, healing hurts.  But only for a moment.

And His hands are gentle as he applies the medicine that brings me relief.  I can trust Him.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I'm sitting on my fabulous back patio.  The baby is napping.  The two big boys are playing outside with neighbor friends.  Mark and Morgan are on a mini-date, looking for the perfect monologue for her upcoming audition.

Oh, and I'm wearing my favorite sweatshirt and SOCKS!!!!

Hello, socks and sweatshirts.  I've missed you so much.

And there's a fire in the chiminea.  Bless the Lord, oh my soul...

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the cooler temps.  I love sweatshirts.  I really love sweatshirts.

I love coffee anytime of the year, but in the fall it really does have more of an OOMPH to it.

I also get pretty nostalgic.

There are a lot of memories attached to this season.

I found out I was pregnant with three of my four children during the fall.

Mark and I were married in the fall.

My church was "born" in the fall.

My father was seriously ill in the fall.

My marriage hit rock bottom in the fall.

Depression settled itself on me in the fall.

It's been almost four years since the day that elephant climbed on my chest.  Four years since it felt like my world was crumbling around me - or rather, four years since I felt myself crumbling in the middle of my world.

Elephants will do that to a person.

They're big, heavy, cumbersome.

This particular elephant climbed into my van as I was waiting at a stop light... and sat on my chest.

I couldn't breathe.  My knuckles went white in their death grip on the steering wheel as fear set in and despair took over.







Elephants have many names.  Mine was Depression.

Are you aware of the elephants in your midst?  These lumbering creatures find the chaos of our lives the perfect nesting ground.  The noise they make gets lost in the great din we are so accustomed to.  We ignore any danger signs because we're too busy to do anything about it anyway.

I was completely unaware of that elephant's presence.  Oh, I knew life was hard.  I knew I felt overwhelmed and exhausted.  But I was completely unaware of the danger this animal presented to my life - the havoc he would play upon my soul.

And play he did.

But God was bigger than that elephant.  He took him down.

We took him down together.

And now, four years later, I am whole.  I am grateful.

I am NOT perfect.  But I am hopeful.

This fall is going to be about celebrating the journey.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I've been thinking about this word this week.  In bible study on Wednesday, we talked about the moment Isaiah saw the Lord ("In the year that King Uzziah died...").  The word Isaiah used at that moment was "undone."  Beth Moore does a fantastic job of bringing context to the setting here - with Isaiah's king (and perhaps childhood hero) having just passed; the state of his people at the time was fairly pathetic; and Isaiah   seems to feel pretty much at the end of himself.  Undone.

I've been undone.  Have you?

I'll give you the short list of my "undoing" moments.

The day I sat beside my father as he died.

Giving birth - all four times.

The early morning miscarriage of our fourth baby.

An evening in Juarez, Mexico when I realized I was in love with Mark, but had no certainty whatsoever that he would ever love me back.

The moment I knew he loved me back.

The afternoon depression settled on me like a giant elephant that decided to sit on my chest.

A positive pregnancy test.  Every.  Single.  Time.

I could go on.  And I probably will.  But not today.  Today I just want to reflect a moment on how both the most tragic and the most beautiful moments of my life have been my undoing.

Being undone is frightening.  It's that raw, exposed, overwhelming, vulnerable place that is just plain uncomfortable, even if it's happening when you're falling head over heels in love with the most amazing man in the world - or when you're holding this tiny, beautiful, amazing little human being that you somehow brought into the world.  And it's terrifying when the cause is rooted in great pain.

But when we're undone we get to see Him.  And that's a good thing.  

Isaiah's response in that moment was to cry out, "Here I am.  Send me."  [I see that I'm broken and really just nothing, Lord.  But use me... if You can.]

Now I'm no Isaiah, but that's what I'm looking for here.  If my undoing can somehow be used by the Father, so be it.