Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I remember taking this picture of our youngest boys. It was two summers ago. Jerry and I sat on the shore with our oldest son. I watched as the boys waded out into the water, holding onto each other ... alone.

"I don't think we should let them go out there alone." I know my eyebrows were knit in anxiety."One of us should go with them."

"They're fine." I remember Jerry sighed.

"Sure, right now they are. But what if there's a drop off and they fall?" I'm sure I gave him that look. The one that says ... I know I'm right. "There might be a current out there and they could get swept off their feet! That water is muddy! They can't even see where they're going."

"I've already been out in the water. There isn't a drop off. There isn't a current. THEY are fine." Jerry gave me the look of ... conversation over. Let them go.

Today, I feel like I am walking out into muddy water. Not knowing if there are 'drop offs' just beyond my next step. Last week, Jerry got word of another round of layoffs. The first layoff started in February of 2009 and lasted until July 2010. That's a long time without the 'bread winners' income. During that year and a half, I felt like we were drowning. But, we made it.

I know what some of you are thinking ... 'he had unemployment to fall back on.' And, that's true. We were VERY thankful for that help. But, it was much less than his usual pay. On top of that, subtract the insurance benefits from my paychecks and we were facing nearly $2,000 in reduction of monthly income. The next layoff went from July 2010 to November 2010. We feared a long layoff ... just like the one before. But, surprisingly, the company called a group back right before Christmas. Jerry has worked since that time ... with steady income.

Last month, I sat down and wrote out our budget. That was the first time in nearly two years that I have been able to budget, pay bills on time ... put a little back in savings. Plan ahead. It felt good. It felt certain.

Last week, on the way home from work, Jerry called to tell me about his day. The 'ups and downs'.

Half way through the work day, he had been approached by a union steward. He knew what was coming. Layoff. Again. But ... the union steward said ... "You're safe. You're not cut. You get to keep working." Jerry felt relief. Yet some guilt over the men and women who were being cut.

Close to the end of the day ... another approach from the union steward. "Sorry man, there was a miscommunication. You're cut."

As Jerry gave words to his emotions ... I felt like screaming. There goes our budget, there goes that small savings we were gaining ... there goes our certainty, our security.

It felt like I was being pushed out into an ocean of muddy water. I couldn't see what was ahead of us. I couldn't be sure where our feet would land ... would there be massive 'drop offs' ...

Just as quickly as those fears came ... the memory of that summer washed over me ... Jerry's words came quickly ... "I've already been out there." And, as I pushed the fears aside ... along with a few tears ... I realized, God has already been there.

Nothing can touch us that has not already passed through His hands.

HE knows how deep the water is and where the 'drop offs' are ... if there is a massive current ... He knows and will protect us. I'm not sure how long this layoff will last. I don't know what will happen to that budget from last month.

But, I do know this ... He knows. He already has a plan.

Matthew 7:11 "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Matthew 6:25-30 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Change ...

His hand. The one I have held for nearly 20 years. I reached for each it ... for security ... to calm my pounding heart. Jerry and I ... our 3 boys ... we stood during worship at an unfamiliar place ... a different church. Doing something I somehow knew was going to happen but had managed to avoid for ... well ... too long. We were visiting a different church.

Change ...

It's not something I run after, desire ... enjoy. I'm a 'constant' kind of gal. I like things just the way they are and no 'rocking the boat' please. Anyone who knows me will tell you right away, I don't handle change gracefully. I fight it ... kicking ... screaming ... crying ... all the way.

Why? I could run off a list of reasons but for now I'll leave it at this ... Change means leaving the known and venturing out into the unknown. For me, that means ... leaving security. I have always been insecure. Thus, the screaming and crying when I am forced to leave security.

Now that you know that and I've let you in on a rather large flaw in my character, you'll be better able to understand why the last six weeks have been difficult for me ... my family. We've been 'visiting' a different church.

Seven weeks ago, Jerry and I had the longest, most spiritual discussion of our marriage (17 years). We shared a common desire to see changes in our boys (and in us). Was it church? A 'stand still' in spiritual growth? Not that we blamed or found fault in our long attended church or the people we love within the walls of that space ... there was just something moving us in a different direction. I believe ... sometimes God puts a disquiet in our hearts ... our spirits, so that we will be motivated to do something. Something He knows will bring us farther in our walk with Him ... closer to Him.
This choice wasn't made quickly ... it was not easy. I fought this change for months. I asked God for something else, something besides ... change. Each time I prayed, the answer was the same ... move ... change.

Seven weeks ... nearly two months ... I could say I feel lonely or separated but that would be a lie. I feel anything but those things. Somehow during this time of growth, I've learned to trust. I have realized my fear of change is really a lack of trust. And, I have been leaning on God's strength to get me through change. He's given me an incredible peace. I'm not sure where my family will land but I know He will be there waiting for us. As long as we trust Him and His guidance, He'll get us through. And ... right now, I am loving the people in this new space. They have welcomed our family of five without any reservations. I am left with a feeling that drowns all my insecurities.

Six weeks after that first Sunday ... I don't reach for Jerry's hand out of insecurity. There's no pounding in my heart associated with fear of the unknown. I reach for it because ... it feels right. This place ... feels right.

Daniel 2:21 "He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who I Please ...

"Just do your best, James."
"I am, Mom. Cursive is really hard." A sigh of frustration.
"I know, but you can do it. I know you can." I look at him over the list of spelling words.

"Mom, I try really hard and she says she still can't read it!" Absolute frustration.

"James, today ... don't worry about pleasing the teacher. Think about doing your best and making me and Daddy proud. We are always proud of you as long as you're doing your best." I rough his dark brown hair and we move on with the next word.

James leans over the half full piece of writing paper, eyes focused on each letter working together for the end result of ... Missouri - in cursive.

Today is a spelling test for James. Each week, every Wednesday ... spelling test. He's improved so much in the past month. We start on Monday ... first recognizing the words, next printing the words, then ... cursive. James puts effort into each word, each test. My husband and I put effort into working with James, helping him as much as we can ... and ... it's never quite good enough. Not for his teacher. No matter the improvement, there are always negative remarks on James papers. And, he gets discouraged.

I give him the next word - mislead ... and I think ... This year is a learning experience for James. More than just academics, James is learning ... he can't please everyone ... every teacher ... every classmate. As hard as it is to watch him hurt ... watch him frustrated ... I know God will use this time in his 8 year old life to teach him valuable lessons.

And, God is using this time in James life to teach me ... to remind me ...

I do this ... every day. I get so wrapped up in pleasing other people ... I forget ... I'm supposed to be pleasing God. If I try to please people ... I fail. I know FROM EXPERIENCE. Every day ... I try to please my supervisor, my co-workers ... everyone from close friends to mere acquaintances.

Today, I am reminded ... I serve God with my works. As long as I am abiding in His word, abiding in Him ... living out the word living in me ... He is pleased with my best.

And ... THAT is what matters most.

Who are you pleasing today? Are you discouraged?
1st Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I stood at my patio window ... watching. A team of men, all working around the tree in my front yard. Our driveway was full of trucks, equipment and a tree service crew. What I wanted so much to avoid, was unavoidable. The tree damaged during a storm last summer ... had to come down.

Three weeks ago, a representative from the tree service stopped at our home and talked with us about the potential hazard of keeping the tree up. The one good branch left was hanging over power lines. If it were to split during another storm, it would fall directly onto the lines ... cutting off power to an entire town south of our home. Reluctantly, I signed the consent ... sometime during the next few weeks, they would cut and remove the tree.

Yesterday, I stayed home with one of our boys ... sick. Shortly after 9:00, I heard trucks growling and men yelling. One of the workers came to my front door, let me know of their plans and said ... "we'll have to climb this tree, there's no other way to bring it down." He didn't seem frustrated, just ... challenged.

Interested, I watched. Orange cones, large warning signs, loud grumblings from the wood chipper ... and then ... the smallest man among them came forward geared with ropes, links, clips and chain saw.

My tree towered over this man ... small in stature. He seemed lost in all the garb. I immediately thought of David ... among all the army, he was the smallest. Yet, he fearlessly ... faithfully ... approached Goliath. David had saved his father's flock from lions and bears. Each day, he cared for his father's livestock and faced different challenges.

For this worker, each tree is different. Each day, a new obstacle to overcome. He uses the equipment provided by his employer to take down the impending danger. Not once did I see him stall ... not once did he seem unsure. Completely on faith, he maneuvered up the tree, clipping ropes and links ... wrapping ropes and clipping again ... safety harnesses in place. Each time a branch was free and prepared to fall ... he would yell to his co-workers to be sure they were out of harms way ... then down it came with a thunder.

Again, he seemed as David. With all surety, David approached Goliath using only the sling and stones provided from his experience.

The rest of team scurried around gathering twigs and hauling to the wood chipper. A loud grumbling and evidence of the mess ... was gone. Everyone on the team had a job and they did it well ... Again, I thought of David and how each member of Saul's army played a key role in bringing down Goliath and bringing glory to God.

Today as you face trials of your own, remember how God equipped David with the tools he needed to pave the way for his destiny. Today, walk on faith ... fearless as you face each challenge. Trust the One who empowers the smallest in stature. Don't doubt your value in God's perfect plan.

1 Samuel 17 - "David and Goliath"