I had a terrible dream the other night- my husband attributed it to my over indulgence in SMORES the night before - I however am not convinced. Regardless of the cause, this dream hurt me in my gut, left me raw and grasping for the peace of wakefulness; though when I awoke peace alluded me.
In typical dream fashion, when you try to explain them they seem ungraspable. What made perfect sense in you subconscious doesn't clearly translate into the flow of reality. You know, the "well, it was you, but then it was an alien transformer" scenario.... So I'll spare the details of the dream but here's the gist:
Maddox and I were in the territory of a tribe known for raiding travelers, stealing their sons, where they would then put them through unimaginable torture and in the words of my dream "violate their souls- leaving them empty when returned." Of course this tribe was on its way to capturing us and I was faced with panic - Should I run and try and hide him? Should I fight till my last breath defending him? Should I spare him this certain torture by taking his life?
Now that alone would be gut-wrenching, but what happened next in my dream was the part that has pricked my heart, I audibly heard God speak to me saying, "Do you not trust me to take ANY tragedy that he would encounter and use it for good?" Then I woke up.
Do I not trust God to turn tragedy into something beautiful, something that brings Him glory? Like the story of Joseph, betrayed by his brothers, imprisoned, also faced with certain torture and tragedy... But God used all of that mess, redeemed Joseph, and saved an entire country from famine and death.
Don't get me wrong I don't think God is preparing me for something that tragic, but I do think that in reflecting on my dream and why it hurt so bad, my eyes have been opened to a truth I needed to see.
I can not be God to my kids. God placed me in the role as their parent, and I need to do my best at raising them, protecting them, preparing them, and providing for them. But I am human, they are human; because of that there is considerable chance that we will mess up, be hurt, go astray. And when that happens, do I trust that GOD is still God? That God is faithful, that he will use any tragedy to bring about redemption and make known the glory of His name?
I don't think I did before, and I may not be there yet, but I am aware. And I pray that I never become unaware.
Monday, June 9, 2014
A dear friend got married this weekend, and as they said their vows I began to ponder the power of spoken words.
I believe that marriage is more than a signed slip of paper, a certificate, and a change in your tax status. But if a signed document isn't what creates a marriage, then what does?
Every wedding ceremony incorporates the couple making a vow to each other, "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health...". I remembered their vows- to choose love, to fight for love, to fiercely protect their family. Vows are more than nice words scrawled on a napkin, these were the deepest utterings of their hearts spoken aloud. And there is something magical- that happens when the heart is given voice - a covenant is formed- a bond, a knitting together, a cleaving.
But do words only wield their power when spoken in a wedding vow? Or at times of extreme emotion? Or does their power weave their way in everyday conversation?
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21). Our whole existence was created by the breath of God, by the power of His word (Hebrews 11:3). Confession-our words- are an integral part of our salvation (Romans 10:9). Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:29 that no unwholesome talk should come out of our mouths. And Jesus himself tells us that we will be accountable for the words we speak when we stand before him (Matthew 12:36-37). So words, the utterings of our heart, and even the flippant responses, bring with them the power to create-as in the case of the wedding vows- a beautiful covenant, or they have the power to destroy.
How important it is then, that I should be more purposeful in the words I choose, and more diligent at guarding my heart and tongue from words that will cut, hurt, and wound.
My husband refuses to let our children use the words "I'll try". Are you going to score a touch down today? "I'll try". Are you going to get good grades? "I'll try". That response, until recently seemed like a perfectly good response. Then he explained - the words "I'll try" leave room to not score a touch down or not get good grades. They allow for a slight expectation of failure. He insists they instead use "I will..." and over the years as the children have shifted from "I'll try" to "I will" I have seen the difference. This doesn't mean they always succeed, and do everything perfectly, but their confidence entering into the task, and their strength in handling a failure have changed dramatically for the better.
This got me thinking not only about the literal meaning behind the words we speak, but the connotation with which we use them. I know personally that when I get down, I struggle with negative self talk, and it has never- not once- improved my mental state of being.
Now I'm not jumping on the "Name it Claim it" or "Blab it Grab it" bandwagon (been there done that and left disillusioned). However, I see how valuable words are in setting our hearts in the right direction, how powerful they are to create lasting bonds, and how beautiful they are when we give a voice to the deepest longings of our soul.
What will you do with the words entrusted to you? Will you uplift, encourage, and bring peace, mercy and grace? Will you create something beautiful?
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Today was my last day of school, and my first day of summer vacation.
In typical fashion I hit the door running, arms wide to embrace my temporary freedom. Eagerly anticipating a summer filled with adventure, camping, pools, lakes, and books, lots and lots of books.
I always have great expectations for my summers with my children ( the ones I birthed, not the ones I adopt from August through May). And being an idealist and perfectionist, it's never surprising that my ideal falls a bit short of reality.
But today, ideal became reality.
Maddox begged to go to the library, get his very own library card, and check out his first books of the summer. We sat on the patio of the library in the cool Palisade breeze, me finishing the final chapters of a beautiful novel, And The Mountsins Echoed, and Maddox exploring the books of the library. He was specifically interested in the Star Wars books. Then he stumbled upon his first graphic novel - The Monster On The Hill.
He asked to go to the park, and once there he suggested we take a blanket under the tree to keep reading our books.
It was bliss, relaxing under the rustling leaves of the cottonwoods, reading side by side with the sweetest boy.
As we packed up to go get his sister, Maddox commented on how much he had enjoyed our morning, and began making plans for us to do it again next week- and each week for the rest of the summer.
If today is any indicator for what lies ahead this summer, I am ready to throw myself in, headlong with wreckless abandon!
Sunday, April 27, 2014
...nothing Earth shattering and revolutionary occurred but I gained some significant perspective.
First I realizeed how much of my life fb consumed.
Second I realized that my first choice was fb; it was difficult to retrain my brain and fingers to not select that button on the phone... I eventually deleted the app. And retrained myself to select my bible app and see what God was speaking to me instead. (I allowed myself Pinterest and Instagram, and I think there was significant influx of pins on my board...)
Third I realized how much people rely on fb to communicate and connect. I missed the invite to my college roomies shower(thankfully she texted me later), and so many friends had big things happening that I would have only found out on fb. When I got together with friends they would continue conversations from fb, and I was at a loss.
Finally I had so many things happening that I wanted to share with my friends- Maddox started tackle football, Madison made varsity soccer- just to name a two.
My intent in participating in lent this year was to grow closer to God, and create a habit where I chose His word first to speak into my life. I can happily say I've grown in this through Lent.
However, quite unexpectedly I learned the value of social media. I had become resentful of this new(ish) way we connect. It lacked the personal touch, the closeness, and depth I crave in relationships. But being with out it for 40 days, I had never felt so disconnected from my friends- even my closest ones. I realize now how comforting it is to click one button and be able to check in on the lives of my friends.
Since I've been back, I've been looking in on each of them more, but posting about my happenings is lacking. Maybe I'll post more, maybe I'll just like and comment, but I certainly have a greater appreciation for the role fb plays in friendship.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22
It was this verse that shook me a few months ago, I realized I was exhibiting none of these. So where was my life rooted? What story was I living out? How could I claim to be a daughter of God, yet not resemble Him? If I wasn't bearing these fruits, then what was I filled with- it wasn't the Holy Spirit.
I needed to get into Gods word-NOW! I felt overwhelmed, I didn't know where to start; the Bible is huge! So I began a plan from my YouVersion app, then another! And currently find myself studying about and participating in this season of Lent.
Since then I have seen myself begin to embody more of these fruits, and it feels good to have confirmation that God has refilled my heart.
B took several days off during our spring break to knock out some lingering remodel and repair projects- so I turned to Pinterest to come up with some hearty breakfasts and scrumptious dinners. This morning we started with a paleo recipe for a stuffed acorn squash from http://paleomg.com/5-ingredient-breakfast-stuffed-acorn-squash/
I've never cooked with- nor eaten- acorn squash, so I had no idea of the flavor that it would produce. I was delightfully surprised by its mild sweet and buttery flavor. The sausage onions and garlic were a great savory flavor with the squash. For the last few minutes of the baking time I turned the oven to broil so the egg wouldn't be slimy on top. B's egg turned out almost perfect with a nice silky egg yolk, mine ended up overdone for my taste, but the entire meal tasted great together so the overdone egg didn't ruin it.
The whole process wat a bit time consuming for a breakfast, but I would definitely make this on another weekend or special occasion,
I think if my kids hadn't seem me preparing the squash I could have slipped them this breakfast and they wouldn't have turned their noses up at it, in fact I think they would have actually liked it.
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Back in August, when we started school, I felt that God have given me a word to begin th new school year.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)
This word has been scrawled across my lesson plans, helping me maintain a focus of why I teach, and my purpose in teaching.
As I welcome in the new year, and begin considering the direction of life and making adjustments. It can be overwhelming, especially when confronted with past failed resolutions. My resolutions have oscillated between simple "to do" items on a check list - set up recycling -, to huge character changes - be more positive. The problem with these is that while I'm drowning trying to stay positive in the midst of a messy life, the "to do" items never get checked off.
Resolutions, for me (and most people I know) are short lived. The change I want to see in my life is change that is hard, and if I force it and work hard for it, in the end I'll likely end up discouraged and defeated.
Instead, this year I am choosing a New Years offering, offering each of my days to God, focusing my life on His love, His glory, His power. Seeking ways to reflect that and give it to those around me. I believe that with this as my focus, God will be create change in me that I struggle to do alone.
Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Psalm 51:17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. (Psalms 51:17 NLT)
Just as 1 Cor. 10:31 gave me perspective in teaching - what ever I do (teach) do it to bring glory to God- helped me get my focus beyond mandates, evaluation procedures, and curriculum issues- offering my life will change my focus from ovwewhelming character flaws and impossibly long
"to do" lists and lo living a life that brings glory to God.
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Bringing in the new year seems to breathe new life into the world. The calendar turns a blank white page of opportunity ready to have life and purpose scrawled upon it. A chance to begin again, a chance to redirect, an opportunity to focus. New Year = New Life.
That is what January 1st is.
So what is December 31? A closing? An ending? A time to reflect? A time to say good bye?
I had never considered December 31st as a closing or an ending, but always a day of anticipating new beginnings. That is until this year . . .
B's grandmother passed away early in the evening, December 31. Her death was not expected, though also not a surprise, as her health had been robbed by dementia and has been deteriating over the past few years.
Death is never an easy topic, loss and grief are uncomfortable. Standing at the periphery of the grief, my heart hurts most for those left behind. For my father in law who has lost both parents, for my husband who has lost a pillar of his childhood memories, for my children who feel the sadness of a relationship that never had the chance to fully form - I grieve.
I also ponder the inevitable force of change which defines life, defines its moments.... I consider death and rebirth, the driving force behind New Years resolutions. A resolve to change, a resolve to put something to rest, a resolve to begin something new. Death and loss force perspective upon you. Force me to consider what resolutions I will make? What will I put to rest this year, what new birth will I experience?
December 31st, the closing of a year, a day to say good bye, a day to reflect, a day to refine, a day that marks an end.
I find something beautiful about Janiece's story ending on December 31st.