Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Did She Know?

She was 17 ... 17 filled with so much promise. I never had the pleasure of knowing her.

From what I've been told ... she was easy to love. The sound of her footsteps outside the door were identifiable ... unlike any other visitor walking up to the door. She was a good friend, one of the best. And, she was killed in a car accident ... at just 17.

Lisa was a best friend to Cindi's daughter. Cindi is my friend. Lisa spent enough time under their roof to be called family. Enough nights under their roof that she had her own bed.

When she passed away, my friend spent much time ministering to the heart of her family ... her husband, daughter and son. Lisa's passing left a gaping hole ... a great divide. When someone is so entwined in your everyday ... it can't be any other way. You have to find the way to fill that void, that hurt and all over ache. The painful silence of ... no Lisa. You might stop and listen, thinking you hear that special someones foot fall outside your door ... but then ... you remember, that's not possible. And, the pain starts again.

After ministering to her family for some time, Cindi felt God's presence ... He came to her when everything started to slip through her fingers. He came and caught what fell ... her tears. For Cindi, Lisa was like another daughter ... she grieved the loss and the pain her own daughter felt at the passing of a best friend.

And ... then she began to question. Don't we all after someone passes?

This past Sunday, at church, Cindi stood up and challenged others to share their pleasure in someone, to tell them you love them, tell them how much they mean to you ... tell them, tell them ... don't stop telling them ... because tomorrow isn't a guarantee. You have this moment. Take it.

Cindi questioned ... did she let Lisa know how much she was loved? Did Lisa know for sure ... without a doubt how much she meant to Cindi and their entire family?

I can answer that question. I've been in Cindi's home. I have had the absolute pleasure of eating lunch beside their fireplace and playing with their dog, Dory. I have been given the opportunity to call their family ... friends. And ... I know in their family ... I am loved. Just as I am ... good, bad and everything in between. So, I know beyond a doubt ... Lisa left this earth blessed to have been a part of Cindi's family.

Are you making that difference in some one's life? Are you using up every moment to let those you love ... know you love them?

Sometimes, I don't do that. I get so caught up in the world ... I forget about those things. Make today a day filled with purpose ... purposeful love for others and the sharing of that love.
Psalm 139:1-3 "O Lord, You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise,You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

We'll Be Too Busy

Our family of five filed into the small elementary school. We followed the path of acquaintances, friends and strangers ... family night at school. It was the night set aside for students and families to come in and meet the teachers ... find the classrooms and "get comfortable" with the surroundings ... before the first official day of school.
Our family found the room where one of my boys would spend 5 days a week for the next nine months. The walls were covered in alphabet, numbers, birthday candles, weather signs ... it smelled of new crayons and finger paint. I smiled and followed James as he ran his fingers across the large desks and then shelves filled with colorful books. He found friends he hadn't seen all summer and they began to tell tales of lazy summer fun.

We stopped to meet the teacher and I noticed a small blond haired boy ... tearing up. It was only family night and his fears, uncertainty were already "getting the best of him." I felt like a fist clenched around my heart ... too much of my school years were spent the same way ... fearful, uncertain. I felt for that little boy and for his mommy. He whimpered in his mother's shoulder ... "Everybody's gonna pick on me." Again, my heart ... being picked on ... again the same for my childhood ... school hood.

Then, the teacher did something ... said something ... She put her hand on his back, leaned down on his level and said "That won't happen in my classroom. We'll be having too much fun to pick on each other. You're going to make some really good friends this year ... I promise."

In that moment, she earned his trust. He looked up at her with bright blue eyes and smiled. She returned the smile and a wink to his mommy. I immediately liked this teacher. There was something in her eyes ... I knew she was going to keep that promise.

And, she did. Her classroom held no tolerance for "making fun", "picking on" ... all of the kids made good friends. They did have fun. Too much fun for there to be any time for other things ... lesser things ... hurtful things.

What if our lives were like that? What if ... we were so busy loving others that we didn't have time for hurtful things?

I find myself giving time to thoughts, feelings and actions that are hurtful. Hurtful to me and to others. And, then ... I don't have enough time to spend on the good things ... on love ... mercy ... grace. Things that make me feel good, things that make others feel good ... things that please God.

This week, I'm challenging myself. Less time for hurtful things and more time for love.

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Something He's Not

Meet Buddy. He's been a part of the Willis Family for the past 6 years. And ... Buddy thinks he's a lap dog. As you can see in this picture, Buddy is NOT a lap dog. He's a border collie and is too big to hop on someones lap and cuddle up ... but ... he tries and we let him.
It's not that we let him when he was a puppy and he's never grown out of the habit. He was never held or cuddled on our laps. He was an outside dog for 3 years. After deciding to take on a van traveling down our highway ... he retired to the laundry room to mend a broken leg. And ... he's been inside ever since ... acting like something he's not.
Buddy wants to be as close to us as possible ... especially close to Jerry, our oldest son Clay and my Dad (lap in the picture). Buddy is a "people pleaser" kind of dog. He wants us to love him, play with him, include him ... everything all the time ... Buddy needs to be in it. That's where he feels comfortable and best. For some reason, Buddy has decided that being a lap dog is somehow better than being what he is ... a sit by your feet kind of dog.
Have you ever done that? Tried to be something you're not. I have.
I struggle to accept who I am is good enough, pretty enough, smart enough ... so many things ... things I feel like I am not but wish I could be. So, I try to be all the things I think will please other people. All the things I think will make other people love me more, want to include me more. Somewhere along the way, I told myself I had to be perfect. I had to fit into some kind of mold the world created for women, wives and mothers.
When all along, I've been perfectly me ... the person God created me to be. His mold is the only one I need to be concerned with ... it's the only one I have to fit in to. My imperfections allow God to manifest His perfections.
The Willlis Family loves Buddy whether he's a lap dog or a dog sitting by our feet. We accept him just as he is ... imperfections and all.
What about you ... do you struggle with being someone you are not? Do you accept others just the way they are? Do you tell others how they must behave in order to fit into your mold?
1 Timothy 1:12-17 "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. "

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Steady the Ladder

We're building a fort. Not a small one either. I know, we're crazy! Well, I guess I have to admit, I'm the crazy one. And ... Jerry and my Dad ... they're the ones working on my crazy plan. But, really ... we looked everywhere for a fort with all the things we wanted for the boys ... and ... in our price range. Nothing ... so ... we set out on a mission. On an adventure. At it's highest peak, this fort will stand 11 feet off the ground. There will be a castle tower, a bridge leading to a small pirate ship and lots of cool things hidden inside. It's going to be a long, time consuming task.

Jerry and my Dad have been handling a large portion of the frame work. But, I decided I wanted to do something to help. Aren't all mommies like that? Don't we always have to be in on the action? I do. I wanted to be able to say ... "Hey, I helped build that!" So, I decided to help with the frame on the 11 foot castle tower.

I was about 8 feet off the ground, standing on an older ladder. As I swung the hammer, I felt the ladder shift under my weight. My legs buckled a little and I grabbed hold of the support beam. But ... I didn't need it. From out of nowhere, the ladder steadied. I gained my balance and looked down ... there was my Dad ... hand on the ladder, balancing it ... steadying it.

As we worked through the remaining support beams, I thought about how good it felt to go from being afraid I would fall 8 feet to the hard ground ... to feeling safe, knowing I was totally safe. I could stand at the very top rung and hammer in the nail. I could finish what I started ... knowing I had someone steadying my ladder.

Life is so much like that. I want that for each of my boys. I want them to climb as high as they want ... knowing that Jesus will be there to steady them if they start to slip. And, isn't that what Jesus wants for us, His children? He wants us to know He is ALWAYS there ... always watching ... steadying. And, we can do that for each other. We can be the one standing at the bottom of the ladder, watching and waiting ... to steady it when our brothers and sisters in Christ slip. When they need support, balancing ... someone to hold the ladder while they set out on their adventures, reach their goals ... their dreams.
Have you steadied a ladder today?

Hebrews 13:6 "So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To Make You Laugh

Just a story to make you laugh. This story is from my almost 6 year old.

First, to understand this entire story, you need to know how much my youngest boy dislikes school. Kregg has a wonderful teacher. I've been in the classroom as a helper. So, I've seen first hand she does great with the kids and does lots of fun things to keep them interested in the learning process. I don't really think his feelings about school have anything to do with school ... his feelings have everything to do with his love of ... home. He wants to be home. All the time.

Every morning, he gets up and tries to find some way to stay ... home. For example ... his head hurts, his feet hurt, his eye hurts ... he has a hole in his sock ... he has growing pains (super bad in his words) or even ... one time, his "pee-pee" hurt and he couldn't wear clothes and since you can't go to school naked, he would just have to stay home.

So ... yesterday, I picked the boys up from school. Half way to the car, Kregg starts crying. He tells me he had a REALLY bad day at school. He had to move his "clip" two times. This statement is enforced by Kregg holding up to fingers, in the air ... and wide eyes. That's bad. I say, ok and we'll talk about it in the car. We get into the car and the story spills ...

"Mama, I can't tell you. It's really bad." He won't look at me.

"It's ok, Kregg. You'll feel better if you talk about it."

I make his big brother cover his ears so only I can hear the terrible offense that caused Kregg to move his clip ... TWO TIMES.

"Well, it's really bad." He's crying, face in his hands."I stomped on a peanut butter and jelly." Huge sigh from his little body and he waits for me to punish him.

"In the lunch room? How did that happen?"

"I dropped my PB & J on accident. And, then ... I stomped on it. Mrs. Frank caught me." He cries more.

"Kregg, that's pretty bad. That probably made a big mess for the lunch ladies to clean up. But, it's ok 'cause you won't do it again now that you know better." I smile back at him. Because, really ... in all the things he could do to get in BIG trouble ... this isn't so bad ... but, I don't tell him that because he needs to understand it was wrong.

He's still crying. I'm puzzled.

"You won't do it again, right Kregg?" I ask because it doesn't sound like he understands he can't do that again.

"That's just it, Mama. I think I'm gonna have to do it again." He shrugs and cries ... more.

"Why, why would you have to do it again?" I'm confused even more, this makes no sense at all.

"Well, I'm gonna have to stomp on another PB&J. Cause if you're really naughty and no one can get you to be good, then they won't let you come to school anymore. And, I hate school. Stompin' on that PBJ was the mostest trouble I ever got in at school." Big sigh. "So, I'm gonna have to do it again" Shrug of his tiny shoulders, like he's been defeated " ... that way I ain't gotta go to school no more." More tears.

I turn around in the seat to laugh where he can't see me.

Seriously ... Kregg would rather get in major trouble and be kicked out of school then to have to just go to school and ... have fun.

Yes, Kregg is up this morning and ready for school. Today, there was a hole in his sock again ... he was certain he couldn't go to school. But, we finally found a pair without holes. I explained to him that if you are in major trouble and can't go to school ... well ... then you can't stay home either.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My "To Do" List

1. Get up, get ready for work
2. Get the kids up, ready for school ... get the kids to school
3. Work (all day)
4. Take James to baseball practice
5. Get homework done for all three boys
6. Fix supper
7. Get everybody ready for bed and safely tucked in for the night
8. Collapse

My "To Do" List.

It's the same nearly everyday ... the same list, the same people on the list, the routine ... the same.

Most of the time, I find myself just trying to make it through to number 8. And, I hope and pray there are no sudden surprises between number 2 and 4. No sick kids to pick up early from school, no car trouble ... nothing that would "mess up" my to do list.

Yesterday, my niece's anesthesiologist taught me a much needed lesson. He opened my eyes to the truth in a to do list ... take off the numbers ... don't make it a list ...

My niece, Hope, was in for yet another surgery. She struggles with nausea. After nearly every surgery, she spends hours throwing up. The last 5 months have been filled with surgeries to give her ears. She was born with only buds due to her Treacher Collins Syndrome (TCS). Imagine ... the amount of pain already from being cut open so many times. Then add on top of that pressure from throwing up for hours. Painful.

Yesterday, this new anesthesiologist read through Hope's chart. He found her struggle with nausea and ... he did something about it. He's been trained in acupuncture.

After Hope's surgery, this man came back into the recovery room. He stayed with her ... performing acu pressure on different points of her body. He knew ... he knew he could help. He knew the acu pressure would decrease her nausea. So, instead of moving on to his next patient, the next surgery ... he came back, performed the acu pressure and ... it worked. Hope woke up with NO nausea.

Hope woke up with a smile.

All because, this man saw Hope as more than just a number on his "to do" list. He saw her as a special little girl struggling. He used his gifts to help her. Then, he went beyond that ... he went and talked with my sister and my brother-in-law about Hope's nausea. He let them know of what could be done to help.

He made a difference. He saw each patient as a person, not a number.

Do I ever make that effort? Are there things I could do differently?

Today, I'm taking the numbers off my list ... I'm taking time to see the people I'm blessed to have on my list. I'm going to use my gifts at work ... use them to make a difference for the people I meet.

Thank you, Malik ... your care for my niece not only made her feel better ... but, it taught me something. I pray you are blessed.

What are you doing today? Do you have gifts to give? Are there numbers on your list?

Romans 12:6-8 "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Part of the Team

"Who said that?" Ball bat pointed out across the field, the coach eyed his players. "Fine! No one wants to tell me, Fine!"

A dozen seven and eight year olds stood wide eyed, shocked ... the coach rarely raised his voice. They knew he meant business. For once, the team didn't move ... the entire group of squirmy kids ... stood frozen.

"I better NEVER hear that again! If I do, I'll find out who said it and you'll be done. No more play time!"

I watched from my seat in the car. I sat with the windows down, watching my almost eight year old practicing catch. Whoever it was ... it wasn't him (thank goodness!). He was too far away from the coach to be the guilty one.

From my spot beside the field, it sounded like one of the players was poking fun at a team mate. I could've been wrong but I was pretty sure. The coach's voice was lowered again ... I couldn't make out everything he said ... but, one thing was clear, someone had disappointed him. Someone wasn't acting like a part of the team. They were too busy picking out the wrongs of their team to even notice what they might be doing wrong.

In that moment, I gained a new respect for my son's coach. I saw a part of him I did not see during last season. I liked this part ... this firm respect for each player. For the rest of practice, encouragement came for and from each member of my son's team. The coach let that moment go and moved on to playing ball with his team.

We could use more of that coach in our world. The businesses in our communities need more of that coach.

Unfortunately there are a lot of companies that need someone like that ... someone who will command respect for co-workers. Someone who will lead by example and guide their team to respect each player. Rather than picking out each players faults ... they need someone who will point out the strengths and gently guide the players to improve. Somewhere along the way, that's been lost ... I don't want to be like that ... I want to be someone like my son's baseball coach.

As Christians, we are blessed to be lead by a Coach guiding us with encouragement. And ... He tolerates no judgement or condemnation. Within the field of His team, there is room to fail and encouragement to do better. There is acceptance and appreciation for the strength of each player. A game can not be won by the coach ... it can not be won by one good player ... you need the entire team.

Romans 12:3-8 "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Out the Window

"Where'd my other paper go?" My seven year old was frustrated! He shoved book bags, school papers and a ball mitt across the car seat.

"You just had it. Look on the floor." I watched him through the rear view mirror. We were on our way home from school. It was my half day at work ... meaning, I got to pick my boys up from school and spend the rest of the afternoon ... just us. That's the highlight of my early day off from work. I look forward to being there for them .. spending time with them.

"It's not there!" His voice was loud and full frustration. "Oh man! What am I gonna do? That's my homework! This is just great!" He stomped his feet on the floor board, arms crossed over his chest and lower lip poked out as far as humanly possible.

It didn't stop there. The attitude went well into the evening. Nothing seemed to lift his spirits. After much talk and more talk and even more talk ... we figured it must have gone out the open car window. It was warm and breezy ... the perfect afternoon for open car windows ... the worst afternoon for homework to be out in the car.

And, now I have to admit, I lost my temper. I yelled at him. Why? Because, even after all the talking and trying to persuade him it would be OK ... he was still in a terrible mood. It was my afternoon off work ... and we spent that afternoon arguing. All because he couldn't get his mind off the homework ... lost somewhere in a field between home and school. I knew we could fix it. I knew we could talk with his teacher, get another homework page and turn it in. None of that mattered. All he could focus on was ... what went out the window ... his homework and my afternoon off right behind it.

And ... I do that to God all the time. He has plans, perfect plans. He looks forward to spending time with me, being there for me. I let the frustrations of my everyday life get in the way. I know He can fix everything ... He can find what's missing (maybe what's missing is time alone with my husband, money to pay all the bills, quiet time), help me get it done ... but, I don't let Him. All my frustrations cause His plans to "go out the window". He gave us free will and a part of that free will is allowing Him to work His magic.

And, even when I don't let Him, He doesn't get mad. He doesn't loose His temper. He waits ... patiently.
Psalm 62:5 "My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him."

1st Corinthians 13:4 "Love is patient, Love is kind."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Past the Fog

Sometimes, our vision gets blurred by the every day. We have to try harder, look longer and push past the fog to see what really matters.

The every day can be beautiful. For me, a foggy morning ... mist hanging over the corn fields in my back yard ... dew settled on the grass ... that's beautiful. But, when it's foggy, I can't see what's behind the mist ... what's hidden beneath.

Enjoying the beauty around me, that's a blessing. Enjoying what lies beneath ... well, that's just ... God.

Vinny found something beneath the surface ... and, in finding it ... seeing it ... he blessed me.

Vinny is married to one of my very dear friends. He and his wife are a blessing to me and my family. The picture with this blog was taken by her. She has an incredible gift for photographing nature from a different perspective.

Yesterday was one of those days when a simple comment Vinny made ... touched my heart.

Vinny and Cindi have a pool in their backyard. For a couple of summers, Cindi and I have been trying to make plans for me and my boys to come over and swim. It just never works out ... mostly because I'm crazy busy running the boys around for baseball practice. Or insane projects I start but somehow never finish.

Yesterday, Cindi told me that Vinny wanted to make plans for our entire family (My family, my sister's family, my parents) to come over and swim. She reminded him that wouldn't be possible ... not possible because my niece, Hope, can't swim. Because of her disability (Treacher Collins), she has a trech and can't be submersed in water.

Vinny knows our family inside and out ... He sees Hope on Sundays when she's able to come to church. He knows she's disabled and knows the limitations of her special needs. In knowing her, he forgot about those limitations. He just saw Hope ... He saw the depth of her personality. The Hope who would love to splash in the water and toss around with her cousins.

Without even realizing it, Vinny looked beyond Hope's beautiful foggy surface and saw what God sees in each of us. Vinny saw the special things behind Hope's special needs.

In the moment Cindi shared Vinny's comment with me, I was blessed ... and, I was reminded ...

There is a spirit and soul behind the face of each person I meet. The surface is a fog hiding the spirit from my human eyes. If I want to see the spirit ... I have to look with God's eyes.

Thank you, Vinny ... for seeing Hope and each of us through the fog.

Psalm 139:1 "O LORD, you have searched me and you know me."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


"Look at all those houses! They're all empty ... wow, some of the windows are broken in." I turned my head to look as close as possible while we drove past. Some type of sign or notice was posted on each door. All I could make out from the roadside ... Condemned.

"Probably has something to do with the flooding." My husband turned and looked at all the houses on the other side of the highway.

House after house ... home after home ... empty. Condemned.

My husband was most likely right. Several years ago, there was massive flooding in that area. The highway was covered in water and the houses on either side of the road sat in 3 feet of water. Weeks passed before the water began to diminish. At the time, everyone wondered what would become of those homes. Now, it seems the answer was ... they were deemed unfit to live in. Unfit to call home by families. Unfit to serve as a safe place to land at the end of a long work day.

We drove past those houses again last week. The windows were black holes into empty shells. The outside of each was unkempt and looked worn from the longer than desired winter. They lacked all evidence of life ... the things that tell you a home is taken, claimed. No bikes tossed at the garage door, no flowers poking up from pots on the porch ... no lights shining from inside and piercing the dusk.

At what point does one determine a home beyond repair, unfit to live in?

As we drove further, I thought about the families forced to leave the place they called home. I thought about the memories and safety each might have felt in the now vacant shells. I know how much I love my home ... how much did it hurt them to walk away? To leave a place they had worked hard to make safe, loving and comfortable? And then, I thought about the condition of my heart ... the home I've asked Christ to live in.

How often do I behave "unChristian"? How many times do I sin and cause damage to the shelter Christ calls home? Do I let the storms of this life, this earth alter the place I reserve for my Family? And, how much must it hurt Him to be removed ... removed because He cannot reside in a home tarnished with sin?

And ... how often does He repair the damage caused by my choices, caused by storms on this earth? There is never a point when He claims my heart or any other heart ... beyond repair... worthless or unfit to live in. Each heart, each life ... He sees the value ... a vision of that heart without sin. All that is required of me is to ask ... ask Him to take away the sin.

He puts His light in the windows of my soul and chases away the darkness left by floods of hurt and sin. He leaves evidence of a home claimed by Family.

How is the condition of your heart? Have you asked Him to take down the sign of condemnation?

Psalm 34:22 "The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him."

Romans 3:23-24 "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tending the Fire

It's almost that time of year ... the time when Jerry and I look forward to weekend campfires. We don't go to any campground or lake for this retreat. We're blessed to have it right in our own backyard. And, this year ... I'm looking forward to it even more than in years past.

On nearly any summer weekend, you can find us gathered around a large fire ... roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. Sometimes there's a big pot of chili simmering or sometimes ... just our family ... no food.

As the fire begins to burn hot, the calls go out to family and friends ... "We've got the fire going, come on over." And soon there are more lawn chairs and smiles around the fire. The adults sit with feet stretched close to the warmth while the kids play games of "hide and seek" or catch.

This morning, I was praying for some young people in my life and even some acquaintances. These people are in my prayers for so many reasons. Some are loved ones going through difficult times. Others are names rather than faces. Names that have been mentioned in passing ... names of people who are in need of prayer. For each, this morning my prayer was that they would have a relationship with Christ.

Not skin deep ... but soul deep. You know what I'm talking about ... the kind of relationship that seeps into your bones and into your spirit. And, as I prayed ... I thought about our campfires. How hard it is sometimes to get that small ember to become a bright, steady and hot flame. There are times when my husband has been down on his knees blowing a steady gentle breath on the ember hiding beneath the kindling. If he gets up too soon, walks away and doesn't tend to the fire ... it fizzles and dies out.

Each of us is born with that ember. The small place within our soul that knows a Greater power is out there. The question is ... who is willing to get down and look for that ember? Who is willing to spend time down on their knees, breathing life into that ember? Who is willing to stay and tend the fire once it starts?
Once the fire is burning steady, others draw near to its warmth and light. It brings calm ... comfort ... retreat.

My prayer this morning ... for these souls ... a breath of life on the ember.

Matthew 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. "

Sunday, April 4, 2010

When I See Him Smile

My feet spinning circles in the water, I sat on the edge of the pool. I watched ... my family. The blessings God has given me ... playing in three feet of water ... the shallow end. Someday they'll all be in the deep end ... but for now, they stay in the shallow area where James and Kregg can reach the bottom and keep their chins above the water.

Just the five of us in the pool room. It was quiet and warm. Nine thirty at night. We were the only visitors out on Easter Eve. My husband has a key to his employer's pool house. We can go nearly anytime of day or night ... and play ... just us.

On this night, I watched each of my guys ... Jerry, Clay, James and Kregg. I didn't get in at all. Just dangled my feet in the warm water and enjoyed the view.

As I let my heart take in each sight and sound, I remembered a prayer from my youth. A prayer I whispered at 16 years old. I asked God to let me marry this boy ... then, I asked him to let me have children and to enjoy them.

In the chaos of my everyday life, I ask God to get me through the day. I ask Him to bless me with funds to meet each financial obligation. I ask for my home to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Sometimes, I selfishly ask for a "good day" ... one where all five of us get along, no fights or nasty words. I ask to have a date night with my husband ... worry free ... no car trouble, no family troubles ... no job worries.

And, at the end of each day, I fall asleep ... with the answer to my prayer from 19 years ago. I married that boy and we have three amazing children ... and, I'm enjoying them.

Jerry pulled our youngest boy off the pool edge and walked to the middle where our other two boys wrestled in the splashes. He looked over Kregg's shoulder and smiled. That smile ... the smile I fell for at 15 years old. The smile I asked God to bless the rest of my life with when I just 16. I read his lips ... "what?" ... because he saw a look on my face ... "nothing" I said ... because it would be impossible to tell him where my heart was and what I was remembering.

When I see him smile ... I'm thankful for God's yes to my 16 year old prayer.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Are You a Soldier?

I was standing in the kitchen ... no lights ... dark ... talking to my nearly 16 year old son. Talking about Passion ... Passion of the Christ. He had just come home from youth group where they had watched Passion. He'd seen it before and knows the story. He's in church nearly every Sunday, at youth group on Sunday nights and youth events scattered in between school days and Sundays. But something was different on this night.

He always has questions ... about everything ... movies, music, my day at work, his dad's workout at the Y ... everything. But, on this night ... the questions were ones I had not planned for. Ones I needed to slow down and think about.

"Mom is the scene with the crow or black bird biblical?", "What do you think the meaning is of the child Satan holds during Christ's beating?" ... and so many others. I slowed down from the pace of laundry and dishes. We stood in the kitchen leaning against the counter, covered in the darkness of a late March night.

I answered his questions. He told me his thoughts. Then, he asked me about the soldiers. The ones sitting at the foot of the cross as Christ died. In the Passion, those soldiers cast lots for Christ's belongings. They laugh and wipe Christ's blood from their faces. This touched my son ...

"Mom, when I saw that, I thought maybe we're like that sometimes. Like those soldiers."

"In what way?" I ask, arms wrapped around my fuzzy bathrobe.

"We sit at the foot of the cross and we laugh. We take His death and the reason for granted. We do things we know we shouldn't and take His forgiveness and the price of it for granted." Hands stuffed in his jeans pockets as he lets me see a little bit of the work God is doing on his heart.

"Wow, I've thought about how we take it for granted but never that I might be like one of those soldiers."

We talked a little more and then I let him go to his room to think. I've learned with having three boys ... they aren't as emotional and sharing as us girls. So, I take the moments like that night and tuck them away in my heart.

He's right ... we are sometimes like the soldiers.
I am sometimes like the soldiers.
I take His sacrifice for granted. I make poor choices without even thinking about how it hurts Him. I sit at the foot of the cross ... the place where forgiveness is free ... I sin and come to the cross ... the forgiveness is always there and I take it.
He gives it.
And, today ... I am grateful. I am at the foot of the cross as one who aches over the sacrifice of her Savior.