TIME

This New Year’s gig seems to be coming around faster and faster, now.
Though I never want to go back in time, I’d sure vote to slow it down.
But, here we are again. I recently found this old post, as I was scrolling, and it’s exactly what I would write, today. Take the time it takes.  We are rushing through life. We think we have to have, have to do, have to keep up, have to move up, have to perform, have to be involved, have to over commit, have to keep appearances, have to, have to, have to….

In reality, all we really have to do is glorify the Lord with our lives. It may be something the world never sees. As a Christian, homeschooling mother I have to keep in mind that the seemingly insignificant acts of grace, mercy, kindness, servant-hood, prayer, meditation, and downright hard work that nobody will ever see are my glories to God, my offerings of obedience, my worship.

So again this year, I’ll  take the time it takes:  

*…to cultivate my intimacy with God. To know Him is to study His Word; to pray, and listen. I will never go wrong taking the time it takes to know Him intimately.

* …to love my children in a way that is love to them. I also want to take the time it takes to wait patiently and listen carefully for those words they don’t say.

*…to write. If I ever publish a book, it’ll be by God’s grace and in His strength, alone. I need time to pray.  Time to listen. Time to write.

* …to enrich friendships. The last year has defined friendship for me, personally. I’ve poured myself into half-hearted connections while authentic friendships waned. I’m going to take time for those who truly love me and not concern myself with those who don’t.

If I’m able to do any of this with some degree of success, I’ll call it a good year. We shall see.

What about you? What are you going to do with your time?

 

 

 

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Wealth

“The thing that is precious in the sight of God is faith that has been tried. Tried faith is spendable; it is so much wealth stored up in heaven, and the more we go through the trial of our faith, the wealthier we become in the heavenly regions.” —  The Place of Help from the Quotable Oswald Chambers.

Eventually, one of the main thoughts that come crashing to mind when I face trials is the fact that God really never promised life would be a bowl full of cherries. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to hear this. He did say, however, “I came that you might have LIFE and have it more abundantly.” [John 10:10] But, oh what a twisted perception we have of this word. In our first-world life, abundantly means large quantities of stuff. Plenty.  Plenty of stuff. We are choking on our stuff.

I wonder how abundantly we would live if we truly had large quantities of God’s word flowing through our weak hearts on a frequent and consistent basis. If we had plenty of – Jesus.

I think our stuff would pale in comparison.
Abundant would take on a whole new meaning.
We would experience true wealth no man could fathom.

 

No Promises

The “world” says I am a Sagittarius.
According to the cosmic alignment of the moon, planets, and the timing of my birth, I’ve been labeled and categorized into a herd of late-November/December-born humans who are fiercely independent, free-spirited, and . . . aloof. Aloof? Really. Where do they come up with this stuff?

Apparently, we’re also embarrassingly blunt.
What’s intriguing is that it truly DOES take an act of God Almighty for me to say the right things at the right times. There is a time and place for my blunt, straight-up, no-holds-barred, real self and, to be honest, it has taken years and years of pain to get it [somewhat] right. I still don’t have it right. I’ll never get it right. Getting it “right” violates who I am to put it – bluntly. So while I cling to God trusting he will guide me, corral me, contain me, I know in my heart I won’t ever, ever, ever be meek & mild. That said, here’s some straight up truth about parenting.

We are not promised anything.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

You will pour your entire life into parenting. Some will sacrifice career advancement intentionally setting family as a priority. Others will forfeit a career, altogether. Oh, you’ll buy cute maternity clothes, you will study books, and blogs, and commentaries. Some will take birthing classes. You’ll contemplate hospital vs. home births and midwives.  You’ll rearrange budgets several times over and eventually come up with something that works well enough, at least for the moment. You will spend a small fortune on redecorating. You will pack and repack your bags too many months before the real labor day. You’ll take more pictures than a few devices can hold. You will spend countless sleepless nights either feeding/nursing, coddling, soothing, crying, or praying. Fatigue takes on a whole new, cruel meaning. Showers become a luxury. You vaguely remember life pre-newborn or what your Hubby looks like but both are fading fast. You will begin to resign to the fact that the clothes you have are good enough for another year. And, then another. Suddenly, your weekly haircuts, periodic manicures & pedicures don’t seem so important. You will pray over your children, pray for their future spouse, teach them about everything under the sun from finger motion Bible songs, body motion childhood praise songs, and pages upon pages of Bible verses to art history, famous missionaries, and world geography. You will  take them to VBS and spend thousands of dollars for them to go to camp every summer. You’ll sign them up for every noble activity that might augment and support your vision of building Christ-like character into your children. We teach. God do we ever teach. Hours upon hours of talking. And talking. And talking. Grasping at every teachable moment as if God only allows a specific quota. You trust God’s grace is sufficient for every bauble, every mishap, every failure. You set your life-goal to follow that seemingly lucid recipe for success.

Success. That “to glorify the Lord and enjoy Him forever” kind of success. The kind of success that stops our children in their tracks when sin and temptation come calling. Because, after all, we followed the formula for success, right?

Spoiler Alert: We are not guaranteed this kind of success.
There are no promises.  We buy all the expensive ingredients, mix them together in the most accurate proportions, and expect – success. I wish it were so. I wish – as an aging near-Titus 2 status woman of God – I could tell you how simple it really is: ” Just mix A + B very carefully, add a handful of God’s amazing grace, and you will get C.” Doesn’t always happen this way. You know why? Because in spite of every tried & true formula, our kids are still sinners in dire need of a Savior. Yes, even our Christian kids.

But you know what? The real “success” lives out in you and me, the parents. Real success – that God-honoring success – is in how we respond to trials, how we  respond to disappointment, how we process anger, hurt, sadness, and betrayal. How we – love. If we are truly Christ-followers, love is the answer to every question.

The parenting life. It’s really not about our kids, at all.
It’s about God molding, shaping, changing, transforming us into His likeness. It’s really all about how WE  “glorify the Lord and enjoy Him forever….”

Weeds

No formal church service for me or the Farmer, yesterday.
But, oh how the Lord teaches me His truths straight from the garden.
As I tilled the long 100+ ft. rows, I had ample time to ponder  –  weeds.

*What happens when they are allowed to take root.

*What happens after they take root and begin to grow.

*And then, what happens when they have taken over, completely.

Jesus told parables in such a way that were simple, yet profound. The Word is not hard to understand, in fact it’s almost too simple for highly intelligent First World trend-setters such as ourselves.

Weeds.

Did you know that if soil is prepared properly; plowed, tilled, cultivated at just the right time there’s a good possibility a garden could be . . . weedless? Yes. Without weeds. No weeds. You heard me, correctly. Timing, preparation, forethought, and planning are key. Weeds are simply not allowed to take root if soil is cultivated consistently. But, this takes time. Commitment. Discipline.

However, if the Farmer (& his wife) become lazy in cultivating the soil early on leaving the rows to themselves for any length of time, tiny sprouts begin to take root and, though they seem harmless, they grow exponentially. Since they’re small and low to the ground, they are mostly a nuisance at this point, just a minor distraction. They could easily be snuffed out once the Farmer runs the tiller through the rows where the fresh rich soil mounds up and covers them.

Then, the most concerning stage of weeds is when they’ve taken over the garden completely. They tower over the Farmer’s good plant keeping the SUN from shining on it. They’re so big at this point they compete with the good plant for water and nourishment from the soil. At this stage, it’s quite possible the good plant could shrivel and die.

I couldn’t help but relate this simple garden principle to our daily lives.
Life is full of weeds, isn’t it?

If we’re not carefully tending to our own fields with the Word, we allow the weeds of life to take root. What are your weeds? Busy-ness? Unrealistic expectations? Control? Perfection? Excessive/Compulsive financial gain? The need to keep up with the Joneses? Worry and Doubt? Dysfunctional family and/or friends? Meaningless distractions? (Think: social media) Sin? At first we don’t even notice them. We continue to “grow” our lives and bear good, yet stressed, fruit. We hardly even know they’ve taken root.

But as weeds begin to grow, our garden of life becomes crowded. We’re agitated, frustrated, frazzled, and overwhelmed because the weeds are beginning to cause some discomfort. We learn to live with them not even realizing they’re taking over. We justify them and re-arrange our lives around them. We actually “settle in” thinking we can co-habitate with our weeds!

But …..

Weeds don’t stop. They actually take over to the point that we can no longer see the Son. They have sucked us dry and any hope of nourishment from the soil is nil. Weeds are selfish. They are no respector of persons, …or feelings…or schedules….or goals. Weeds just do what they do best: Grow with no purpose, deplete life, and eventually – potentially – destroy any hope of good fruit.

Where are YOU today?

Are you cultivating your soil? Preparing, planning, looking ahead? Knowing the weeds are there, but committed to keep them from taking root?

Or, are they growing and you’ve become accustomed to living with them. Are you trying to ignore the fact that, one day, they will take over?

Finally, perhaps your life has been taken by the weeds of life.
You are choking.
You are thirsty.
You need good food. Nourishment.
You are shriveled up and can’t even see the Son.
If so, let me tell you something very important about weeds.
They have very short roots. They are not deep.
They are incredibly simple to pull up.
Weeds make a big – selfish – show but are basically useless.

Oh friend,
Just pull them up. They are NOTHING.
They produce NO good fruit. They are a nuisance.
They cause pain, heartache, frustration, confusion, and needless brain clutter!
Give yourself a big ol’ bucket of Living Water.
Throw some nourishment on the soil of your life and point your face towards the SON!

THIS is the path that leads to LIFE.

“But the one who received the seed that fell on the good soil is the man who hears the Word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.”

Matthew 13: 23 

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My Coming Out Party – You’re Invited

This is a huge topic I hope to tackle in small bite-sized pieces, this year. This is only Part I.

It’s not for everyone and a bit out-of-character for me. But here goes.

HYPER-thyroid

After a routine OB/GYN exam during the summer of 2006, I got a call stating my thyroid blood work was at “dangerous levels” and I was referred to an Endocrinologist. The very first appointment with Endo #1 resulted in a sonogram and needle biopsy, that very day. Needless to say, I was scared.to.death. I never once thought of cancer, I was only terrified about four tiny needles being inserted in my neck – on both sides – which added up to  …eight tiny needles. No anesthesia. No topical/surface numbing help, just my neck and needles.

I was diagnosed with HYPER-thyroid due to benign nodules on both sides of my thyroid gland. My metabolism was in overdrive. The protocol was, and still is, RAI, or Radioactive Iodine Treatment. RAI is based on the idea that the thyroid gland will absorb all ingested iodine first and very little, if any at all, is passed into the rest of your body. Following along with this logic, radioactive chemicals and iodine are combined in a pill form and when swallowed the thyroid gland will absorb all of the toxins and eventually die off. Once the thyroid gland is dead, determined by blood work, patients are then given thyroid hormone replacement to, theoretically, supplement everything the body needs. Just one little pill, daily. Simple as that. I was never informed that I would live the rest of my life in a HYPO state.

As the old saying goes, hindsight truly is 20/20. Pre-2006 I was starving. For years I had been hypersensitive about the next meal, always planning, always preparing, always hungry. Hungry to the point of serious desperation and anger if we didn’t eat on time. I chalked it up to having two babies back to back and nursing both for long periods of time. During the course of seven years, between the year Our Firstborn (1995) was born and our Thirdborn (in 2002) I had three miscarriages. I was always extremely exhausted but pushed harder thinking I was lazy. I should also interject here that we traveled the country with Hubby’s job two separate times within these years. It was easy to think I was exhausted for other reasons. I have no idea how long I suffered with HYPER-thyroid but looking back now, I know it was many years.

HYPO-thyroid

I distinctly remember the few weeks that I felt normal after RAI. Hubby had a project in Los Angeles and I actually drove several hundred miles of that stretch. I had not been able to drive much at all during those many months of traveling because I would literally fall asleep at the wheel. That trip lead us right into 2007 when I began my prescription of Synthroid. By the Fall of 2007 (we were in Wisconsin by then) I distinctly remember speaking with my Endo over the phone while she was at a park with her children. I suppose I had called enough times (stating SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH MY BODY!) that she decided to call me herself. Our conversation went well and she expressed how imporant it was that my levels be checked regularly and that I should never miss an appointment. Since there had been very little mention of the degree of seriousness that went along with my “levels”, if we were out of town with Phillip’s work, I would just make an appointment when we were in town. At this point, early on, I truly had no clue and depended solely on whatever she and her nurse told me. My faith in her settled and Lord knows I tried (hard) to keep her.

However, weird symptoms kept cropping up. I’d call and the nurse would always leave a message stating that my symptoms were not thyroid-related and that I should consult my primary care physician. Looking back now, I honestly don’t know how she sleeps at night. Knowing what I know now, I’m absolutely positive she got numerous calls a day about the same weird symptoms.  – Well, not willing to give up (the symptoms are way to scary to give up!) I did see a nurse practitioner who diagnosed me with anxiety. She prescribed Xanax. Desperate, I took one on the way home from her office and was asleep by the time we pulled up in the driveway. (Hubby driving, of course) I asked my RN sister about Xanax and I will never forget her words: “Absolutely NOT.” I had no clue. She explained how addictive it can be, and that I did not need Xanax.  She was right. Even though I cut a few in half trying to make them work, they didn’t. I was just a very drunk, sleepy thyroid patient with the very same symptoms I’d always had. I eventually flushed the Xanax.

Finally coming to terms with the painfully obvious fact that Endo #1 wasn’t listening, during another routine OB/GYN visit, I asked to be referred to another Endo. I saw him only once. I began to explain several symptoms, including my weight. His suggestion was to see a nutritionist in preparation for gastric bypass surgery. He failed to let me know that I was VitD difficient but perhaps it was because he left the country shortly after my visit. It was within a few weeks that I received a referral letter stating that Endo #2 had left to practice in another country. On to Endo #3.

I saw her only once. She was emphatic that I take a multi-vitamin every day and that I should probably consider walking at least 30 minutes a day. Nice try, lady.

As weird symptoms persisted month after month, I decided to get a second opinion regarding the anxiety diagnosis so I went to our local family doctor and, though she listened and seemed genuinely interested, in the end I was still stamped with an anxiety diagnosis. Needless to say, I felt utterly defeated. I’d never had a history of anxiety even with plenty of life circumstances that could’ve easily caused panic/anxiety. It just didn’t make sense. I made the commitment (to myself) that I would take Lexapro for one year. During that year, I gained 30 MORE pounds and as I mentioned with the xanax scenario, I was just a very flatlined, easy-come-easy-go,  thyroid patient with the very same symptoms I’d always had.

After a little over a year, I bravely weaned myself off Lexapro. It was a great decision. I realized through the experience that I had no emotion at all. I found that I couldn’t muster up the emotion or strength to write anymore; that alone was enough for me to call it quits but in all honesty Lexapro did nothing for the underlying, untreated, undermedicated issues at hand. Months went by, long after I knew the Lexapro was out of my bloodstream, and I continued to decline. The last few years, particularly the last 16 months, I’ve declined at an even more rapid rate. I knew something had to change or I was going to die.

In a desperate, last-ditch effort I reached out to an online group. I explained my history, symptoms, and fears. Within just a few minutes there were several comments on the thread I’d started and we ended up “chatting” the entire day. I’d finally found a glimpse of hope.

When a Teenager Shows You Up

Whenever we leave the farm, we traverse along a pigtrail that seldom gets much attention. It’s bumpy, washed out in places, and ….so, so annoying. I am not in a pleasant mood when I have to drive up & down the driveway several times in one day. When I’m the passenger, I get all bent out of shape. I huffff & pufff because my body doesn’t move as easily to the bouncing, anymore. If you’re the driver, it’s a bit more comfortable because you’re hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life balance, but everyone else is jostled around, hanging on to their hats. Notebooks are slung to the floorboard, and my cup….my covered water cup bounces around in the cup holder. We all breathe a sigh of silent relief when it’s over.

Yesterday was nothing new. We left for co-op on time and made our way to the smooth county road where we could, at the very least, speed up to 60 40mph. Just as we let out our big “that’s over” sigh…Dad’s text reminded us that we forgot something.

As we climbed our way back up the hill, Douglas, with stern, determined gesture, finally grabbed my water cup and put it in a safer place. After all, he’d already had to keep it safe going down the hill, going back up was about to take him over the edge. {giggle}

In a brilliant, teachable, spiritual-training Mom-Moment I said:

“You know….when I was a young wife, I never expected this ol’ driveway would be this way after 14 years.”. . .
“I thought a lot of things would be different, in fact.”
“But, as the years have passed, the LORD has taught me that I’ve gotta be grateful for what He chooses to provide, ….and those He chooses not to.”

Good, huh? Because I’m spiritually seasoned like that.
A mature Mom who’s got it goin’ on.

[SILENCE]

[SILENCE]

Finally, my strong, wise-beyond-his-years, Son says:

“Well there’s a big difference between saying something with our mouths and owning it in our hearts, Mom.”

[O.U.WWWWW.I.C.H]

Go. And be grateful, today. Don’t let your teenager show you up. Be strong!

Well, here we are.

A fresh page
A new chapter,
Or book.
A blank slate.
A new year.

If I hang out on Facebook for any length of time, at all, I find myself in dazed bewilderment as social media offers a plethora of 2014 resolution options. . .

* I could commit to share what’s on my mind in 2014.  Typically, this proves to be dangerous, though.
* I could stop living in my past, author my destiny, and embrace my future.
* How ’bout fresh, homemade soap, chapstick, & deodorant for 2014?
* Of course, I should call my Representatives and lobby for the Unborn. 
* I bet the kids would like it if I followed 10-20-..or 30 Easy Steps to being a better Mom.
* And just what if the house was completely-ultra organized in 2014?
* And finding the 26th hour to nurture my marriage (with a smile, of course)
* The whole entire world would be better if I could be a blessing, right?
* Be thankful in all things for 2014 . . that’s ALL things, folks. And a year is a looong time.
* Be a good friend..and watch out for all those fake friends. 🙂
* And, I should definitely “click & SHARE if I love Jesus”. .
* What if I found myself in 2014?!?!
* What if I were stronger in 2014?
* I could lose weight in 2014.
* Maybe we’ll start eating healthier.
* We could avoid wheat for a year, I suppose. Or dairy. Or soy. Or sugar. Or white flour. Or. . .
* Hubby might appreciate the “be more sexy” vibe. . .
* How could I be bold in 2014?
* I could be original. – Ha! ;p
* Oh, I could make my dreams come true in 2014!
* And by all means – I’ve gotta be HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!

Dare I even pop over to Pinterest where even the small thumbnails of beautiful front doors make me swoon and green with envy, simultaneously?

nah. . .{in my best Phil Roberton voice}

I just can’t.

I’ll never have a beautiful front door.

They usually come with beautiful…..houses, don’t they?

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No, as enticing as being more sexy sounds, I think I’ll stick to something more me.

I’ll recommit, yet again, to take the time it takes. . .

* to wake early & bless the Farmer whose heart shines brightly when I make his breakfast and lunch. And when his coffee is just right in his t0-go mug.

* which also means I’ll take the time it takes to go to bed early.

* to spend quiet, peaceful moments reading God’s word and sitting quietly before Him – listening.

* I want to take the time it takes to really listen to my children with my whole heart, unrushed.

* it takes time to plan, prepare, serve, enjoy, and clean up homemade meals for my family.

* 5th grade reading practice (aloud) …takes time.

* multiplication facts take time …and a great amount of patience. Oh sure, you can go about it impatiently, but what have you gained? A bitter child.

* praying two teenagers through Algebra II takes time.

* it takes time to sleep more

* it takes time to kiss more

* it takes time to exercise

* to enjoy long, peaceful walks with the Farmer.

* it takes time to watch cows, and the sun set, and the stars.

* I’ll take the time it takes to listen to dreams and hopes; and fears. I’ll wipe tears.

* I’ll take the time it takes to cry, process, grow, and heal.

Yeah, 2014 will be full. But there’s really nothing else I’d rather do with my time.

What will you do with your….time?