Friday, May 31, 2013

What is your personal mission?

It’s Five Minute Friday and today’s word is “Imagine”


Some new thoughts and new dreams have been stirring in the heart this week even in the midst of some personal concerns.   There was a beautiful morning on the porch, in the Word, in conversation, listening…and dreaming. 


And that dreaming came from a Source other than my own.  Reminding me…

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”  (Ephesians 3:20 The Message)

I was asked once,

“Do I have a personal mission that’s independent of circumstances?”   That if you had nothing to hold you back and it would come true, what would it be? 

Jesus had a personal mission:   Everything God wants Me to do is redeeming

God put that mission in His Son’s heart.  Jesus’ goal wasn’t to solve all the problems in the world.  His goal was to bring everyone to a relationship with His Father.

We have a choice to make: Life can be a mystery to unfold or life can be a problem to solve. 

God is so much more than our problem solver.  He gifts us, His children, with imagination and dreaming.  Every young child imagines and has superhero and princess imaginations.  They don’t have problems to solve or circumstances to worry about.  They just relish in their imagination and dreams.  And we are God’s children and He wants us to relish in dreams, too.

Over my head at my nook are the words “She knew who she was in Christ and she dared to dream big.”   So, I’m going to continue to do a little imaging and dreaming…and then have to step in faith that the needs to make them happen will be given as a gift from the only One who gives us those dreams.




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Do you snap like a turtle?

While sitting on the porch feasting on Manna, our dog started barking. That isn't unusual because his passion is to chase and bark at squirrels in the backyard.  But he was at the fence, looking down just standing there barking.  From the porch I couldn't tell what it was but it was brown and right underneath the gate door at the side of the house.  I thought...oh no, a opossum or rabbit is stuck under the fence and is dead and I'm going to have to pick it up. 

Well, much to my surprise was a big, brown house on the back of a turtle.  A big snapping turtle.  In he middle of a suburban neighborhood. Interesting enough, our children saw that same turtle down the street from us at our other neighbor's yard several days ago. (Well, I assume it's the same turtle because we don't seem to see them around here often...if ever).  But it had the determination it was going to crawl right under that fence even though his trunk was a few inches higher than the space allowed.




So, I opened the fence door since he couldn't push it open himself and was curious to see what he would do next.  It sat there for about half an hour and I out of my curiosity I googled "snapping turtle" and found this:

They are warlike and aggressive "when out of the water with powerful beak-like jaws, and their highly mobile head and neck (hence the specific name "serpentina", meaning "snake-like") Snappers will travel extensively overland to reach new habitat and it is quite common to find them traveling far from the nearest water source. Snapping turtles have "fierce" dispositions; however, when encountered in the water, they usually slip quietly away from any disturbance. Snapping turtles have evolved the ability to snap because unlike other turtles, they are too large to hide in their own shells when confronted. Snapping is their defense mechanism.

I never knew a snapping turtle couldn't hide in its shell.  I thought all turtles could...that's just the unique ability that no other creature has.  But this turtle couldn't hide. So it snaps.

We can only hide for a little while.  Anger, bitterness, stress and worry hide in our depths until we snap.  Out of defense words bite and bring pain.  We snap at our children, our spouse, parents, co-workers and other people who are dear to our hearts.  And then we can't completely hide anymore once snapping words have come out.

Oh how I've seen myself similar to that turtle. I've been warlike in my attitude when I've been attacked by a "serpentina" of stress, worry and frustration that's been carried heavy on my back trying to hide underneath.
How I wish I could hide in a shell sometimes, but God doesn't want us to hide from relationships, lessons learned and joy, so He makes it difficult for us to hide for too long so others will see our vulnerability and needs. It gives the opportunity to show compassion and love in a world filled with war, internally and externally.
The only place we should hide is in Christ. 



This turtle welcomed himself into our backyard and carried his home with him as he appeared to be on a mission.  He crawled through our garden and what looked like the plans to go through the back gate I had opened for him to exit and go his merry, or belligerent way.





But he takes a turn. 

He doesn't go out the gate, he chooses to turn left and go through the natural area, and then to the soccer goal.

He's now stuck.


He's gotten himself into this net...or trap.  He's entangled and can't get out.  

I've never seen a snapping turtle stretch it's neck out either and boy, they have long necks.  My daughter said if we didn't see the shell, and just his neck and face, it would look like a huge, thick evil snake.  That's was it.  The things and people we snap at brings out the serpentina sin-net that satan wants to put over us as a tangling trap.




That turtle was fighting against that trap and wouldn't let me help him get out as he opens his mouth big as a warning to leave him along. How do we get caught up in the snare of a net that is so difficult to untangle?  A trap is always there waiting for us and if we're not alert and aware then we're in it until it's too late.  We don't take the long path around it to avoid the danger but just plow forward not thinking of the consequences. 

But there is a way out when help is offered. You may not like it and defend yourself in all ways possible but God is using others and His Spirit to untangle our hearts and minds from sin, worry, bitterness, anger and resentment.  

God rescues us and His grace untangles us and sets us free.

He sets us free.

Monday, May 27, 2013

This Memorial Day

On this day to remember, I thank the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country and freedom.  Let us appreciate them, thank them and honor them not only today but each one.


memorial day

Friday, May 24, 2013

A baby’s flight of faith

It’s Friday and that means Five Minute Friday!  Today’s word is VIEW.


I’ve been looking out the window in the sunroom and porch a lot more these days.  There’s a nest in the birdhouse hammered to the tree beside the windows and porch.  My daughter made and painted that house at girl scout camp a few years ago.  Last year we had the small gray titmouse birds living in that house and they came back again this spring. 

Last year this same time was a God moment for me to experience watching those babies see the world for the first time and to see them take their first flight…and see the huge snake stalk them as prey as they hopped on the ground trying to grasp where they were and what they were supposed to do now in this new enormous place….a neighborhood backyard. 

Looking out with my camera close by hoping to see those baby birds fly for the first time again.  I’ve been looking out for that snake who wants to steal, kill and destroy…and eat.

Yesterday I saw one of the babies for the first time!  It finally peeked it’s head out of the little hole and looked around.  What a view that must have been for that fragile baby bird.  What was going through that bird’s mind?  To see bright light and green grass and leaves and purple flowers and feel a breeze and see other birds flying around and a squirrel scurry across another branch?  Was it thinking, “Ahhh!  A new life and new adventure!”? or did it have fear of the unknown? 



I think it did.  It went back in the house and I haven’t seen it again…24 hours later.  I know it’s still in there because I can hear it. 

When have I been like that?  When have there been times when there’s the unknown yet beautiful but I go back and hide again not ready to take the risk?  Not ready to spread those wings out and fly? 


Any time now those babies will fly out…any moment they have to trust their mama who has been trying to lure them out. 

When is that moment going to be when God lures you to trust and fly out of your hidden place just to feel safe instead of taking a flight of faith?



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What is the Purpose of Broken Fractions?

This mother has become tired as the piano music quietly plays on my lap and the kids and husband are fast asleep.  I’m tired from all the running and wrestling…but running and wrestling help tone and shape who you are. 

Although I should have been running for exercise, today I was running the mini-van engine.  I was running around to get things checked off my list, running to school to watch my son run on the soccer field for the much needed last soccer game this season, and running off to my daughter’s school and seeing her run excitedly into the gym to join her friends to cheer on two of their other friends as they perform in the talent show. 

Those are all good things, don’t get me wrong. 

But once home, where the running slowed down, the wrestling began.  Wrestling with a migraine and hunger and exhaustion elevated the intensity of the fight with our daughter’s math homework still needing to complete because it was due the next day. 



After several attempts trying to explain fractions and mother’s little patience by this time of this crazy day, my daughter cries out-loud the lies of failure as her hands cover her tears.  Her heart is wrestling with lies.  And mom is crying out for her not to believe them.

A fraction is a broken number that represents a part or parts of something considered as a whole.  The term ‘fraction' is from the Latin word ‘fractus' meaning ‘broken'.

I began to think how easy it is to feel brokenness when our lives are broken into many fractions, or fragments, longing to feel whole.  

But brokenness is how we should want to feel because only then can we feel wholeness through Christ. Only then is when we must cling instead of run in circles going no where.  Only then is when must desperately depend on Him instead of the lies that we believe.

And as strong as I think I need to be as a mom, wife and friend, I need to be sweetly broken.

Ann Voskamp wrote,  “Only when you’re broken are you tender enough to wrap yourself around anyone. Only the broken people can really embrace.”

This mama wants to be a broken one who wraps her arms around her growing-up-too-fast babies who must live in a broken world. 

This child wants to be a broken one who embraces the promise of wholeness, and not believe she can be reduced to inadequacy and failure.

This daughter, who can so easily put on many different masks, wants to be a broken one who doesn’t have to wear a mask at all.

Jesus knows all about brokenness.  He, the perfect Man, longed to be with broken people.  He loved to laugh and give and love and break bread with and for others.  At his last meal, Jesus broke the bread into fragments and gave them to his dear friends with his purpose of breaking to make us whole.

“When we drink the cup of blessing, aren’t we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn’t it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is. (The Message) 1 Corinthians 10:16-18


This what seems like a small fragment of life is part of His whole story.  A fraction is a broken number but is still really part of a whole.  We are broken people but still part of God’s redemptive wholeness. 

Let us always remember that God uses all the brokenness and fragments in our lives to make us wholly beautiful.


Friday, May 17, 2013

What song is stuck in your head?

It’s Five Minute Friday where we’re given a word to include as you write for five minutes the first things that come to your mind.  Today’s word is SONG.


The alarm clock didn’t fail and started beeping at 5:45 this morning.  While still half asleep a song starts playing in my mind.  I don’t have a radio alarm on my clock but lately I’ve seemed to have a song in my mind before I’m rolling out of bed.  Just out of no where.    This morning Between the Rain Drops  by Lifehouse whispered to me…

Look around
There's no one but you and me
Right here and now
The way it was meant to be
There's a smile on my face
Knowing that together everything that's in our way
We're better than alright

Is Jesus singing those words to me to stir my heart?  A time of quietness right here and now and how He wants me to start the day knowing that if we’re together everything will be alright?

I think it’s kind of unusual, but often in the morning there’s a song in my head.  I started writing down the songs and they really make me laugh.  One morning it’s the song Right back where we started from by Maxine Nightingale a classic 70’s song!  I can’t remember the last time I’ve heard that song so how in the world did that just pop in my head?

And then a different day Waiting Here for You , an absolutely holy-moment-song, wakes me up singing praise to God to start the day.

Music is a gift and if it’s something to start the day to wake you up and can bring a smile to your face, then let the music sing loud.

Do you wake up to a song in the morning?  Do you get a song stuck in your head that you sing the rest of the day?  What song have you been singing today?



Monday, May 13, 2013

The day after Mother’s Day


Motherhood can be hard, but the joys that come with it are stronger. 

Joy’s strength can carry Struggle’s weight.  And win every time.

I think motherhood is so hard to describe sometimes. That’s why, today, I want to share words about motherhood from a mom and gifted writer, whom I admire, Lisa-Jo Baker, who writes in her blog to encourage women and moms to keep on being… being all that God created us to be.  

These words are an encouraging gift to me from God through her writing that I want to post this beautiful day-after-Mother’s-Day…and I hope it will bring simply joys to your mind of your mother and being a mother.



I am stretched and tired and fearful.
I am wild and brave and broken.
My closet has a sense of humor and clothes in every size…

I have rocked restless babes, cut baby curls, snipped fingernails and served a thousand thousand bowls of Cheerios.

I can build a blanket fort, pry splinters out of fingers, and sharp words out of young hearts.

I have lost it, yelled it, fought it, cried it and apologized it all before 9am.

I have fingerpainted, caffeinated, and run out of explanations for a line of why questions that stretches around the living room, out the front door and around the block...

I have been woken up, shaken up, thrown up, loved up, and shut up. I have never quite, completely, ever given up.

Love sleeps in my bed. Curiosity eats at my table. Delight runs laps around my back yard. Exhaustion is a faithful friend. But so is grace.

If I started tonight and counted backwards all the gifts of the past {thirteen} and a half years of two {kids} I would still be counting when their grandchildren were standing tippy toes with noses pressed against these smudged windows.

So I count dimples instead.

And piles of stray socks and jeans with knees missing and shoes that only fit for a few months and hair cuts and loose teeth and how many times I look at them and say with the disbelief of the proud, “I can’t believe how much you’ve grown!”

I am overwhelmed, infatuated, love struck and completely unhinged. Especially on the nights they bring in wild flowers and all the ever-loving mud in the world.

I am full and fulfilled.
I am older and comfortable in my skin.
I am about the work of raising tiny humans.
I am out of my mind and in my calling and desperate for five minutes alone and a lifetime together.

I see cherry blossom fireworks when two brothers enter school and friendship and new worlds together. Right there, just an outdoor, black top, basketball court away from me.

I want to stop time, tame my fears, bottle their dreams, live a hundred summers of dripping, sticky, caramel ice cream. And in between I hang onto my faith, my temper, and my sense of humor with my fingernails.

These are the good days, the glory days, the slow-as-molasses days. These are the fast years, the wonder years, the how-do-I-find-words years.

But we do. They usually start with “help” and end with “thank you” and the middle?

The middle is a thick layer of one syllable wonder sometimes whispered, often shouted, always answered.

The middle is me. The middle is you. The middle is just, “mom.”



Continuing to count


#1391  our son’s school soccer team coach who’s a Christ follower and his soon-to-be-bride

#1392  the unique and encouraging words coach gave to our son and each player on the team.  Way to go with your Hustle Award!

#1393  Psalm 119:38  “Fullfill your promise to your servant…”

#1394  the worker at Target who gave me a free drink just.because.

#1395  two hours that flew by just listening

#1396  hard eucharisteo…not knowing the right words to say…but God has reason for that?

#1397  encouraging someone to write

#1398  gift waited for…still waiting to see

#1399  baby birds in birdhouse beside the window now chirping and calling for their mama

#1400  the grand opening of the first roses



#1401  the smell of spring

#1402  spending time with Jesus outside on the porch for the first time this spring.


#1403  spending time with my mother, sister, children and family Mother’s Day weekend

#1404  hearing and watching mom play the organ.


#1405  my gifts…lantana, massage, tile, cards…and Cook Out milkshake!

#1406  our first peony in our yard that’s been passed on for generations in my husband’s family


#1407  my great-aunt’s 89th birthday

#1408  meeting a woman at church who’s 99 years young

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Comfort is…

It’s Friday and that mean’s it’s the day to join in with others and write free-hand for five minutes.  Today’s word is COMFORT.




The house is quite except for the soft piano music playing from my computer and I‘m so comfortable on the big sofa seat.  Comfort feels safe.  Comfort is when you’re in…

…the arms of a mother who holds her baby…whether he or she’s a few months old or 13 year old or 30- something years old.

…the arms of the love of your life who holds you tight with unending love.

…the arms of a friend who draws you close and near to the heart and doesn’t let go.

…the arms of Jesus encompassing you inside and out.  He is the God of all comfort.

“All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort.”  2 Corinthians 1:3

Comfort can be found, lost, given, and received.  When found, comfort is a joy.  Comfort taken away, to get us out of our comfort zone, is when God does amazing things.  Comfort given fills the heart and comfort received is often

Comfort is a gift. 



Monday, May 6, 2013

Thank the Teacher for your teachers




This morning my daughter went outside in the rain to cut some flowers to take to her teachers at school.  It’s teacher appreciation at our school this week.  Oh how I appreciate our teachers and their dedication and hard work they pour out into our children’s lives, and unfortunately admit, I don’t thank them enough.   I shouldn’t be showing gratitude for them just this week in May but I should be all through the year. 

This past weekend a big group of kids and parents had the privilege to honor my daughter’s kindergarten teacher (from five years ago…how fast time goes) and we also had to sadly say “we’ll miss you”.  Our daughter has been participating in the Splash! program where the state curriculum has been taught almost entirely in the Spanish language the past five years…starting in this teacher’s class.  The program allows the teacher to come from another country and teach here in America for up to five years, and that time has quickly run out.  What a gift and blessing she has been to not only our daughter, but also our family!  We will miss her and her family terribly.  She has the gift of teaching and showed how love can be spoken in every language.  She loves teaching children and we know it.  In recent conversations she and I have had, I rejoice in her faith and we’re trusting God, or Dios, with His plans for her and her family.


To teach is a gift.  Teaching is the most valuable and important job needed.  If it weren’t for teachers, where would we be?  Teachers teach everything from ABC’s, to fractions, to the history of the world, physics, how to make new colors from red, blue and yellow, and where to place your fingers on a piano to learn how to play a song.

But just as important, if not more, they teach respect, kindness, and love for one another.  

The greatest teacher of all was Jesus.  In the Gospel books alone, Jesus is called or referred to as “Teacher” about 70 times!   His classroom, was mountainsides, lakesides, boats, synagogues.  His students were everyone who heard him in large gatherings and even one-on-one encounters with those whom he longed to learn about his love.

He taught people to count their blessings and to say “thank you” to his Father.  He taught not to add up the number of wrong-doings of others.  He reiterated the importance of telling the story of His truth to pass on to their children and grandchildren and put it into action.    He taught about money, forgiveness, respect, love, prayer, poverty, marriage, parenting and that He is the Savoir to name a few.   He also instructed the disciples to write down his teachings to pass on for generations to come so it will never disappear  .

I read this description of the Teacher that Jesus was and it’s too just.right. to re-word.

As Teacher, He had none of the resources we have today – amplification, visuals, media, electronic aids.  Yet, in marvelous tribute to His teaching, we have a substantive record of His discourses and teaching.  Included in the account are 30 parables, where He painted word pictures so graphically that those who heard could never forget them. 

What He taught has never become outdated but is as timely and timeless as when His words resonated throughout Galilee.  All other learning and knowledge pale into insignificance compared to the eternal truths He imparted.”

100 Portraits of Christ by Henry Gariepy


Divine Teacher, I thank you for the teachers I’ve had in my life and for those in our children’s lives…educationally and especially, spiritually.  With this psalmist I pray, “Teach us Your ways, O Lord.  We want and need to walk in Your truth.” (Psalm 86:11)


Thanking the Teacher for these gifts:


#1373  our Splash teachers and honoring our first…

#1374  yellow finches at our bird feeder



#1375  100 students fasting and sleeping in cardboard boxes


#1376  the worker at Best Buy who donated large boxes for kids to sleep in

#1377  the student minister leaders

#1378  son standing up for his faith and serving heart

#1379  Ester

#1380  the donations ($12,000!) the kids collected for fasting and gave to World Vision

#1381  memories from our children’s kindergarten years in their school scrapbook albums

#1382  day shopping with mom


#1383  bright iris colors in a week of gray clouds and rain with more to come



#1384  mom at Splash night encouraging comment on blog

#1385  cleaning out inbox!

#1386  a very dusty dust rag…not on the furniture anymore!

#1387  all I learned from Tim Keller study “Living in a Pluralistic Society”

#1388  our 4th niece’s 1st birthday!

#1389  singing “Untitled Hymn” during worship at church

#1390  singing “You Revive Me” during worship at church