Friday, April 30, 2010

Don't Forget Your Shoes!

What thrilling news we received this week. Our former lead pastor, John Stumbo, was brought back from death's doorstep over a year ago and has been recovering from a rare illness for these many months since. You can see, bit by bit, that his strength has been returning to him, though he is by no means running races or anywhere near where he was before this all hit. But, this week he announced that his ability to swallow has been restored. This has been prayed for by so many people, locally and around the world, for so long. Praise the Lord!! What a blessing.

After my initial reaction of excitment and praise to God our healer, my secondary reaction was one of grief for myself. You see, I prayed fervently for many months, and then occassionally as his name came to mind, and then more recently, even when I thought of him, I just forgot to keep praying. I realize that God didn't need me to pray the exact day John was healed, but I just feel like I missed out a little. My desire is to always be on my toes, ready to give and answer, a warrior equipped for battle and ready for the call whether that be prayer or giving or action. How embarrassing, the call came and I was... what? distracted? I didn't hear it ring? Was I too tired? or maybe bored with the same prayers?

This theme has been in my face for a few weeks really. I've spoken with broken hearted people and have had no encouraging words. Not wanting to speak my own opinions into situations, I've prayed, "Lord what's the truth, what would you have me say here?" *crickets* "Why can't I hear you, Lord?" I pray and I don't have passionate direction to my prayers... almost like they're a little forced. So I feel like there's opportunities before me to pray or encourage or bless and they're passing me by. It's like I'm watching strike after strike cross the plate and I'm just standing there.

To use another sports picture, it's like I'm asking God, my coach, "Why didn't I get to play in the game?" And, it's not that God is looking at me and thinking, "Sheesh, I'm not even sure I want you on the team" or "Well, this was a tough opponent and we only wanted our best players out there". But maybe He's saying something like, "You could have played, but you're not wearing your shoes". Oh!

So today I'm looking at what have I been doing to be prepared to give an answer? How have I been ordering my days so that my prayer life is active and has room to respond to God's prompting? My Bible has been mostly shut for a few weeks. My prayers have been often self focused, mostly complaining or arrows of "help" sent up. Though there have been moments of intense prayers as well, they are random and sporadic rather than intentional.

So, what's the good news? The good news is that God is God. His will will be accomplished. I can celebrate John's healing along with the daily prayers, and the ones who fasted from ice cream for all these months because my team had a victory! Even though I wasn't on the court at the moment of victory, it is a victory and I am thrilled. And, this isn't over, I still have opportunities to "play", whatever my role might be.

What a thrill to remember that the King of Kings chooses to use us to accomplish his plans. You know what? I'm going to make sure I've got my shoes on!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I heard a powerful testimony this past weekend, one of healing and forgiveness and overcoming. I love how God can use our most painful experiences, our failures, and mistakes, for His purposes. He redeems them! Today Mia misread her math assignment, quite frankly she assumed she was doing her doubles subtraction work, which is very easy for her. She knows you can just look at the the bottom number and that's the answer. 16-8=8 But, doubles work was yesterday, today the answers needed a different approach. Mia is a hard worker, she gets 100% almost every time, and she takes pride in that. Today, she got most problems wrong. This was devastating. Suddenly, she hated math, she hated school, she did not want to redo the work, she was a bucket of tears and frustration. Once again, the theme of redemption popped into my mind. I always circle the incorrect answers and put stars on the right ones. As the kids correct each mistake, I turn the circles into a smiley face or a puppy depending on my mood. This makes it fun for the kids, they get a secondary "reward" even if they didn't get the first star, and helps clarify which ones have been made right. Today though, I needed to go above and beyond to show her what can happen with old mistakes that are redeemed. Today's marks of error, signs of her mistake, were turned into beautiful princesses complete with starry wands. I cried through the whole thing. What a gift the Holy Spirit prompted me to give her. She was thrilled with the result and I was able to tell her, through my tears, that no matter what happens in her life she can always go to her Heavenly Father for redemption and he will make something beautiful from it.

You always have choices. You can crumple in defeat, and quit when you make mistakes or are hurt. You can hide and pretend they didn't happen. You can lash out and hurt other people, leaving a trail of further devastation behind you. Or you can allow God to change you, redeem you, and use those things for beautiful purposes that He has planned in advance for you.

Lord, my paper of a life is filled with lots of circles. Even the few stars I have are mostly just luck! But I turn myself into you for correction and healing. Make my mistakes, failures, and hurts something beautiful! AMEN!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Yes, yes, I know there's a giant eye on my blog. At least I finally got the Christmas music off. I've been here 2 hours trying to post a new "spring-ish" picture for our header but, since I mostly use my phone to take pictures these days, it posed a few problems for me. One is that when the phone and blogger communicate apparently blogger doesn't get the message to "shrink to fit" the picture. I sympathize with the phone. I've got a few people in my life who don't get the message sometimes, too. *sigh* But, we patiently make do with what we've got for now and plan to pour more time into making it perfect later. In the meantime I've used up most of my mental energy and it's way past my bedtime so... no new post. I can't wait to get back though! I really do love blogging.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Birthday #1

It must be hard to be the fourth child but WOW! so much fun, too. Poor Eliza didn't get a blog post on her birthday or one following her party either. But she is much loved and I'd like to share a few pictures from her special day.
We followed our tradition of dedicating our children to the Lord on their one year birthday. Our pastor Steve and his wife Trina came out to the house, as well as family and some good friends. It was also the day several of our pastor's kids went back to college after the Christmas break so I felt like his prayer and his heart were particularly knowing since they've been there themselves and are further down the road. We were blessed!
Here's Eliza with her friend Berlin. They're only 3 months apart (Eliza's older!). Isn't that cute, they're holding hands!
Around the party table ou can see cousin Mackenzie, Mia and her friend Olivia, and Eliza still enjoying her cake.
Gramma Linda helped Eliza open her presents which we finally remembered to get to after almost everybody had left.
I love you sweet child of mine. God is generous in giving us you, my beautiful, wished for child. You are such a joy and gift to our family. You sure do keep me on my toes climbing on everything and running all over the house. Phew! I can't imagine what the future holds for you with your determination.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


In honor of Valentine's Day I thought I'd ponder love today. My understanding of love has changed through the years. Romantic love began as an ideal I created. I was completely in control of how Barbie and Ken interacted. As I got older, I tossed around lots of "shoulds" that I thought would create a perfect man and therefore a perfect relationship. A man should take out the garbage daily and work from 8am-5pm, arriving just before dinner to help get the family settled around for the meal. He should lead the family in Bible study and prayer, gathering everyone quietly around the living room, shortly before bed. He should buy flowers on special occasions and even not so special ones, too. He should treat his wife like a princess... a queen even! The list went on.
But as I grew into a real relationship, reality challenged that ideal. I realized I had a choice to either hold on to those ideals and become bitter with frustration and disappointment or allow myself and my love to be purified.

The Bible says one of the curses of Eve's apple eating flub up was that she would desire her husband and he would rule over her. (Now how am I going to get my "shoulds" taken care of that way?!). But, I set about working hard to mold my husband into who he should be from my perspective. I tried gently nudging him towards this mold with subtle hints and loving suggestions for "improvement". When this didn't work I tried everything else: yelling, crying, nagging, "helpful" books, marriage conferences, relationship retreats, etc. etc..

One day I landed on the video series "Love and Respect". This was the first time that I had ever heard that men have a different need than women in a relationship. I recognized my need for love but he was just as adamant that his need was for my respect. Well, with this new information, I realized how far short I had fallen for him as a wife. I decided to work on myself first... and then get back to my man perfecting practices.
Strangely, each time I chose to respect him, to give him room to be himself, to answer gently instead of sarcastically, to allow him to lead his way, etc. etc. it was as if my eyes were opened more and more to the amazing man that was already there. I have realized over the past couple of years that I am becoming more appreciative of art, God's art, creatively displayed in different human beings that do not fit into molds, even within my marriage. I'm so grateful that I began on this new path because it applies to parenting and friendships and working with people in general.
I decided to take this practice of respect to the basketball court. Andrew volunteered to coach Josiah's basketball team this year. You should know that I am the basketball player in the family. I knew that nothing he would do as a coach would be how I would do it. Just as we are polar opposite in every other part of our personalities, we would approach coaching differently, too. I also knew that a critical attitude would ruin the experience for everyone: him, Josiah, and probably the team. So I decided that I would not watch practices, this would limit my opportunities to be critical to just games and I thought I could manage to have tongue control once a week. I'm sure you can guess the out come. First of all, they're all having fun! I knew it. Josiah thinks it's so cool to have his dad as his coach. Second of all, players and parents are happy and praising their coach after every game and practice. In fact it's getting a little overboard... "alright already!" :) Thirdly, other parents on other teams are coming to him telling him what a great job he's doing. (I'm trying not to take this personally, after all they've never seen me coach. HA!) It's amazing how such a seemingly small role, coaching your kid's team, is making such a big impact in people's lives.
So, there is one other benefit that I've gotten to enjoy as a result of my original choice. I'm basking in the glory of being "that guy's" wife. Proverbs 31:23 says, "Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land." It's odd that in the middle of this section about a noble wife, there is a passage about her husband. But I believe her respect for him and her behavior allows him to fulfill all that God has planned for him. She really could make or break him. And, because of his position "at the gate", it is a reflection upon her. I was constantly reminded of this little verse this season and it's been exciting to watch how it all unfolds. Glad I didn't interfere!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Eye of the Storm?

I have nothing to post at the moment yet I feel compelled to start writing. I sense that God is brewing in my spirit and can almost feel the winds of change beginning to shift. Maybe it was the intense women's retreat this past weekend, or the huge life changes happening in friends' lives that have gotten me thinking. Maybe it's just part of the season beginning to change from winter to spring, or maybe He is preparing my heart again.

Why is my One Year reading plan stuck on Job right now? (by the way I am gleaning some great stuff!) Why did we look at Moses' life at retreat? Why is our book club reading, "When God Interupts"? Haven't I been down this road? Perhaps "slavery" is about to end and I am to be prepared to plod through the desert. Or was this the desert and I'm to prepare for battle as the Lord delivers us to our promised land? Well, whatever it is, I'm excited. I am hungry for God's word, listening for His Spirit, and expectant. Perhaps then I'll have an exciting post!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

So... It was a Very Merry Christmas After All

So, you were probably wondering if we even celebrated Christmas this year. After all, how could I not write a post about that!!! Um, blogging is hard to get to these days. I have had this post saved to finish up and publish for quite some time now. I know I wanted to add more pictures but in the absence of time I'll just put it out there as is. Enjoy!

I felt a particular pressure this year heading into Christmas but, when I changed my focus from all the things I needed to get done or places I needed to be to what opportunities could I find to bless people, there was a very needed heart change. PHEW! Just in time for the big day, too. Over the past several months I've been looking for God's leading and purposing to be ready to say 'yes' to Him. This ended up applying to the Christmas season as well.
Our family spent a wonderful 3 days up at the Christian Renewal Center and, as always, were blessed with renewal. (who knew!!!) Here's some pictures of our time there. My favorite memory was walking with the kids through the snow and following tracks that were left by all different kinds of animals!
On our post Christmas hike, Josiah climbed up for a King of the Rock pose.
And, not to be out done, Mia did, too!
Sierra enjoyed their fun play ground which was right outside our house. She and Mackenzie played there for quite a while. Cousin time is always a blessing!
Eliza's first Christmas. Wow does time fly!! She had no problem getting the concept of opening presents and enjoying yummy food.
Apparently Mia doesn't get enough school work on a daily basis or else she just loves solving math problems! She had Gramma Linda write all kinds of addition problems over and over again.

It's fun to get away and actually spend some time with family. We played games, the boys did some target shooting and played some basketball, we hiked around camp... it was nice. Merry Christmas!
Lord, lift me above my own narrow horizons, that I might fulfill your true vision for me. - B.J. Hoff