11/7/13

My Gray Hair

"Momma, you have one little hair on the top that is white!" (If only I had just one...)

I'm turning gray. (cue dramatic music)  But so are the rest of my friends, my husband, my sister and everyone else I know raising children!  

I have no intentions of going au naturel forever. Nothankyou. But studying those tiny, disobedient hairs in the mirror I was reminded of something downright awesome I hadn't thought about in a long time.

I.made.it.

"Back in the day" when I was younger, and my hair knew it, I had no gray. What I did have was a life of stress I wouldn't wish on anyone. You can read my testimony here. (It just might speak to someone today.) I was juggling the responsibilities of a single mother who was battling bitterness, loneliness, and tiredness.  I was a complete -ness mess.

In those days I was often convinced I would die of exhaustion and mental stress. That was only a season. I have the gray hair to prove I'm still here. I made it. Our God is good. So, so good.

I Timothy 4:10 "...because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe."


Now, where did I put my hair stylist's number...


9/24/13

Chicken Chasing is a Lot Like Raising Kids


My mother-in-law left her fourteen chickens in my care when she went out of town recently.  "All you need to do is collect the eggs, refill their feed bin and change the water.  It should be very easy."  She may as well have been telling me how to build a rocket out of toothpicks and duct tape because this task was anything but easy.

Feeling confident in my ability to keep those chickens alive, I gladly hurried over the next day to gather the treasure and love on some critters.  First the eggs.  Easy enough.  One, two, three, four...nine! I forgot the egg carton so my 5 year old carried them in his makeshift t-shirt basket.  That's secure, right?  Next step was replenishing their feed.  Balancing a huge scoop of whatever-it-is-chickens-eat and cautiously opening the door I contorted my legs and feet in a circus-like manner in order prevent any escape by a sneaky fowl. 

Apparently I'm not cut out for the circus.  One golden rebel slipped right by me as the others bawk bawk bakawk'ed at their dinner.  I wouldn't have even noticed if it hadn't been for the 2 year old shouting, "Uh oh!  Thicken!"  I turned in time to see it strut into the bushes and find a hiding place next to the shed. 

I shut the coop door and began my adventure of chasing the chicken.  Through the yard, behind the shed, around the trees, that slippery hen was determined to have her freedom.   Five minutes...fifteen minutes...twenty five minutes...and the chicken still eluded me. 

"Thicken!  'mere!" yelled the toddler. 

"Here, chicken, chicken, chicken," charmed his older brother.  And despite our efforts to trap the feathery Houdini, she remained disobedient. And on the loose.

By this time I had worked up a respectable man-sweat and acquired about ten mosquito bites.  Because I love my mother-in-law more than I despise being outwitted by an animal, I continued the pursuit.

After forty minutes and multiple failed schemes to get my hands on that little darlin, I gave up.  "That chicken can go cross the road for all I care.  I quit.  It's a lost cause," I told myself.

Driving home prayed for the very animal that made a fool of me.  "Father, keep that chicken safe.  Don't let any predator come and kill it.  Make it want to go home."

For a girl who doesn't like pets (even if they do have the ability to provide a yummy breakfast), I sure lost a lot of sleep over it that night. I had no idea what morning would bring and I was scared.

At sunrise I insisted my husband accompany me to assess the damage. It was our first chilly night and I knew those birds weren't used to lower temperatures yet.  (And I didn't want to scoop up chicken gizzards from the grass by myself!)  I was mentally preparing a fine story for my mother-in-law when asked what happened to her fourteenth egg producer.

Opening the gate we peeked inside.  There in the middle of the yard stood the prodigal chicken.  Unharmed.  Just staring at us, no longer on the run.  "Come on, girl" we instructed her.  She followed with a humble stride that replaced her once prideful swagger.  We opened the door of the chicken coop, she walked right in, safe inside the confines of the boundaries set before her. 

"Bawk bawk bakawk" she clucked.

"Me too, chicken.  I'm glad you're home. I've prayed for you the whole time you were loose," I whispered.

There's a lesson here.  Well, there is for me. I never like to waste a good humiliating experience when I could let the Father speak to me.  Plus, I like a good metaphor.

Chicken Chasing is a lot like raising kids. I'm raising two teenagers and two little kids.  On any given day one of them may try to "escape" from the safety of their boundaries.  Try as I might to coerce them back to the shelter, I can't choose for them.  I can talk to them, bargain with them and maybe even nag them but the choice to humbly surrender to the Caretaker, the Master, is theirs alone.

When my children make mistakes, and they will, I must release them to the Lord and let Him protect them and do a work in them to bring about a heart change. The waiting is hard. And it can keep me up at night wondering what I might have done to prevent it from happening.  But in the end,  I can only do so much. 

We pray.  We seek wisdom from the Father about how to raise our children.  We provide rich experiences for them to see the grace of God alive in our lives.  And then we wait.  The night time may be long and cold, but I pray the tender hearts of my sons will be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and eventually welcome the discipline that brings them home.



2/14/13

The love of God is like being sprayed by a skunk. Well, kind of.

Driving home from church this week I flattened an already-dead-or-so-I-think skunk. I'm a good driver but admittedly I'm not cut out for the wild closed-circuit obstacle course driving... which explains why I couldn't avoid that dead black and white fur ball in the road.  

Clunk.  I heard it when my tire rolled over.  I felt the speed bump.  And then I smelled it.  It seeped through my vents and took root in the carpet fibers of my floor mats.  My nose burned and my eyes watered.  I had been skunked.  The pungent odor obviously affected my logic because I drove right into the garage and closed the door, as if I would somehow suffocate the stench rather than invite it closer to home!

Ahem, Heinecke.  Dumb move.

Eventually I wised up and moved the car outside. But it was too late. The aroma had penetrated the door and crept into my house.  It was inescapable.  And it lingered. (And it was downright gross.)

Waking up the next morning I detected only a hint of skunk in the house.  My car?  A different story.  (Just how many of those suckers did I hit?!) I believe it will be a rancid ride for a while.

And because I cannot stand to pass up an impromptu Bible lesson for my kids, I started thinking...

The love of God is like being sprayed by a skunk.

Too often we 'toy' with the idea of being fully surrendered to the will of God.  We keep our distance, satisfied to just get a 'look' but never moving too closely so our hearts remain unchanged.  What happens when we go all the way and unapologetically follow Him, no matter what He asks of us?  What happens if we go after Him and pursue holiness and extreme obedience and unnatural faith?  What happens if we 'poke a skunk' and say yes to the Father?

Well, we might just get completely covered in the love of God.  It's possible the effects would be so intense, so evident, so recognizable that those people around us wouldn't second guess what happened.  It's possible we couldn't just easily 'wash it off' and go on with life because we would be altered, changed, identifiable.  It's possible  people wouldn't even have to be too close to us to know what has happened.  The evidence would linger and influence others around us.  It's possible. But we'd first have to get 'skunked.'

With God, all things are possible.

When I ride around in my skunkmobile this week, I'm asking the Father to pour out his love on me and let it get all over me like oily skunk gunk. (a pretty-smelling kind of gunk, okay Lord?)  I want to get close enough to the heart of God that it leaves no doubt what I've been up to.  I want to have His love penetrate every part of my life -- even my garage and my car.


14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?   2 Corinthians 2:14-16 

3/6/12

If It's Not One Thing, It's A Mother

If it’s not one thing, it’s a mother – my sister and I jokingly whisper this phrase to one another – with maybe a hint of sarcasm in our voice but always with a genuine affection for the mom we ADORE.  We’re too old to roll our eyes at mom so we’ve invented clever things to say that have the same effect.  I’m kidding.  My mom is great.  In fact, she is the reason I believe I can do this things called 'motherhood!' 

If there's one thing my mom taught me, it's that we CAN train our children in the Word without them thinking everyday is a Sunday School!  

Our efforts must be MODELED.
Quite simply, if we want our childrent to fall in love with the word of God, WE must be in love with it.  If we want our children to be selfless and serve people, WE must do so first.  The first step in leading our children to a deeper faith is to let them see it in us.  We cannot lead our kids to a place we've never been...

Our efforts must be BIBLICAL.
I always use the example of moms who say things like, "God doesn't like little boys who lie..." Ugh.  That couldn't be further from the truth yet as moms, we say things like that all the time when we're trying to teach our kids how to act.  God hates SIN and lying (or whatever else) is a sin.  God loves US.  When we teach our kids about spiritual things we must be careful to use the Bible accurately rather than twist it to say what we want our kids to hear.  Trust me, the Word of God will stand on its own.  You don't need to manipulate it or 'dumb it down.'

Our efforts must be PRACTICAL.
Make the use of scripture common and familiar to your kids.  And make it an everyday thing in your world.  Eating pretzels?  Ask your kids what makes the pretzel good... they'll say salt.  Talk about what the Bible says about the Believer being 'salt of the earth' (Mt. 5) -- Use examples, colorful examples!  Make sure they are relevant to your child's world.  Talk about the Bible often but make sure life experiences help them connect the dots

Our efforts must be REINFORCED.
This is my favorite step.  Don't assume our kids see the goodness of God.  Did you pray for a buyer for the house? When it happens, remind your children of your prayer and of God's provision.  Even the Father did this with his own people.  Remember the references to "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?...I brought you out of Egypt...I did this...and that...and rescued you...and delivered you..."  Make sure they see it.  Teach them to look for it.  Moms, we find what we're looking for!

Training your kids in the Word of God is not hard.  It does require you to be intentional.  And a bit creative.  Is it worth it?  I say yes.  There are thousands of messages in this world fighting for the attention of my kids.  Let's commit to do whatever it takes to put the Word in front of them -- closer and louder and more often than any of those other negative things!

If it's not one thing, it's a MOTHER.

Blessings to the moms.  Let's do this!

2/14/12

My Mother Did It Right.

This is an interview I did at the Survive 'N' Thrive single mothers' conference in Oklahoma City, June 2011. 

If you're a mom, be blessed to hear what my mother did right.
If you're my mom, be blessed to know it wasn't in vain.  I was watching you.

1/26/12

We Don't Do That Here.

My son's 6th grade leadership teacher uses that phrase with her students.  I found this out when I stuck my spoon (uninvited) into the bowl of ice cream Kid Two was scooping out for himself.

He shot me a look and recited with confidence (or was it sarcasm?), "Um, we don't do that here."  I apologized (but I wasn't entirely sorry. Come on, it was chocolate chip ice cream!)  It was a simple statement that let me know his position without question.  His mind had already been made up.  His 'matter of fact' response confirmed he wasn't putting up with any shenanigans. Apparently 'we' don't take ice cream from another family member without asking. who knew.

This morning when I was wrestling in prayer about a thing or two, the enemy started in on me.  Familiar lies that I so easily believe, making me feel less than God says I am, and trying to convince me I'm never going to live up to what God has called me to do -- I was letting him take my ice cream without asking.

I interrupted his condemnation.  "Um, excuse me, we don't do that here." I told him with confidence. I stopped the voice that was trying to weaken me because the facts say I belong to the Father.  And the voice that condemns me belongs to the enemy. 

I refused to listen any longer. He has no audience here.
We won't sheepishly believe we won't measure up. 
We won't walk in guilt because we fall short from time to time.
We won't give up the pursuit because it's work.
Sorry, we don't do that here.

1/23/12

An Open Letter to My Dryer

Dear Dryer,

I think it's time we had a talk.  You've been hanging around my laundry room for quite a while, getting all warm and cozy with the washer every Friday night. Lately I've noticed things I don't like. And since I try not to complain about what I tolerate, it's time I confront you.

Let me put it this way...You're in trouble.  I'm thinking of letting you go. 

You used to be so available to me, you were hot and efficient.  Now, you're lazy and bi-polar.  Oh sure, you start right up without a fuss but half the time you don't even get warm, just tumbling my clothes around for 37 minutes without changing anything.  You're like the kid who runs the bathwater but never gets in and then promises his mother he is clean.  You're tricky.  I turned the heat up, thinking you might just be cold.  I know, it's winter and all.  But seriously, you showed me, didn't you?!  Burning your marks on the side of my favorite stretchy pants?  You've caused me to take my weekend grungy/comfortable clothes to a whole new level of tacky.

Dryer, you're wasting space in my utility room.  You look good but you're not effective. You're not consistent and quite frankly, you are doing more harm than good.  That's not why I bought you.  Today I had to load up 5 loads of wet laundry and go the local laundromat. And.that.was.not.fun.with.two.small.kids. 

There is work to be done and I chose you to do it. But if you won't dry for me, I'll find one that will.  You're not bringing honor to your name, Dryer.

Sincerely,
The House Management

Father, may I not be like my fickle dryer!  Lead me to be more effective for your kingdom.  You have given all of us a part in bringing glory to your name.  May I not take that lightly but strive to see Your purpose fulfilled in my life. Amen.

And Lord, if you could heal that dryer that would be just dandy...





1/9/12

People from the past

I'm not nostalic by nature.  I don't have a single high school year book left in my possession or any pictures from the prom or gradutation.  I don't regularly get hung up on the past.  I do, however, find myself thinking of people who were important to me throughout life -- like my grandpa or my favorite elementary school teacher.  Precious memories of people are tucked away in my heart.

This weekend I was blessed to see several people who significantly impacted my life when I was growing up.  They probably don't even know the extent to which I looked up to them.  My parents celebrated their 25th anniversary with friends from all seasons of their life and it was a joy to honor them among family and friends.

Four ladies in particular were in attendance.  They were the "moms" when I was a teenager.  They were everything from my Sunday School teachers to my friends' moms to the mother of the boy I once chased in youth group. 

My sister and I reminisced about our memories with those ladies and how they had touched our lives in one way or another, probably without knowing it.  And I'll admit, it was a little humbling to realize I am probably older now than they were during those times!  Yikes! 

Driving home I was a little quiet.  "What are you thinking about?" someone asked in the car. 

"I'm remembering all those people from years ago when I was a kid."  But inside my brain it was more than that.  I was thinking about my own children and their friends.  I was planning to be intentional about making an impact on their friends.  They probably won't remember what a fabulous snack maker  I was (and I am) or how you could often grow a garden from the dirt on my kitchen floor (this is true)!  But I hope someday when they are grown up, they remember they had a friend who's mother loved the things of God and her sons were different kids because of it.  Maybe, just maybe, it will make a difference to them 25 years later.

Ladies, you know who you are, thank you for the influence you had.
 

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