What are you bringing to dinner?

On various days when trials seem to occur rapidly throughout the day, I sometimes end up noticing I need an attitude adjustment. For instance, this past week I had my fair share of frustrations and disappointments and my attitude was shining through. On one exhausting afternoon I was questioning what to have for dinner and asked myself, “What am I going to bring to the table?” I must say I don’t bring too much to the table because my husband makes dinner more often than I.  However, in the moment I noticed I had been bringing plenty of hardy meals to the table in the last week filled with various ingredients such as complaints, worry, frustration, exhaustion and whatever else I had in my cabinet.  Have you ever had any of those ingredients in your cabinet? I know there are others, like me, who have been whipping, baking, cooking, or steaming up things for hours, days, weeks or even years, and when we end up sitting down with our friends and family this Thanksgiving they are going to taste anger, bitterness, resentment, hatred, jealousy and other ingredients we’ve stored and poured into our meals.

This week after tasting one of my nauseating meals I decided to read 1 Peter 2:1-2. It says, “Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” How ironic I had worked so hard at making an ELABORATE disaster-tasting dish, and all I needed to do was bring a good old fashion glass of milk? Sometimes we need to get back to the basics. Hebrews 5:12-14 says, “You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.” As easy as it is to taste a meal and discern right away if it is awful, we need to taste and discern the meal that has been cooked in our own heart. This Thanksgiving I encourage you to not only taste wonderful dishes that will be put on a table, but look at the meals you have cooked and the ingredients you have stored in your heart. If a meal needs to be thrown out, or just the ingredients in your cabinet, throw it! If you end up having to start from scratch, don’t worry; there is enough time and plenty of fresh ingredients in Christ’s cabinet to have the best Thanksgiving yet!

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There is nothing Love cannot face.

Before I got out of bed today my kids were fighting, my husband and I were frustrated with each other and one of my children was vomiting in the toilet… I didn’t want to face the day. I didn’t want to face another doctor’s appointment. I didn’t want to face frustrations that had built up with my husband. I didn’t want face my kids fighting and their disobedience. I didn’t want to face my bills. I didn’t want to face anything! Then I thought of a picture in one of the bathrooms at my seminary. Yes, in the bathroom – it is where God speaks to me the most! The picture in the bathroom is a delightful version of 1 Corinthians 13 it says, “There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, its endurance. Love will never come to an end.”

As the day progressed I was able to determine what I really didn’t want to face is fear, lack, sickness, and frustration, but in reality those things were closer to me than my breath. I was facing all those things, and maybe some others I don’t even know about – without love. The truth is I can face fear, lack, sickness, frustration and anything else that comes my way because “There is nothing love cannot face!” So whatever you are facing – sickness, death, loss, rejection, hopelessness, failure… look it straight in the eye and say, “There is nothing love cannot face.”  Jesus conquered it all! Let’s live it out friends.

Rotting Pumpkins!


I have rotting pumpkins.

I’ve been studying Jeremiah lately and tonight reading chapter five in the Message I’ve been stuck on verse 10 “Go down the rows of vineyards and rip out the vines, but not all of them. Leave a few. Prune back those vines! That growth didn’t come from God!”

I often think growth is good. My kids grow an inch and I smile. My flowers bloom and I rejoice. Growth is good right? Then I thought about the rotting pumpkins on my porch. Even though I have sprayed them with bleach, and probably killed a squirrel because s/he took a bite, I still have rotting pumpkins. Growth isn’t all-good and mold can grow even on the prettiest carved pumpkin.

Thinking about my pretty molded pumpkins a question came to my mind: What growth in my life isn’t from God? Even though I may be elegantly carved, produce luscious seeds and a glowing candle to light up the dark, it doesn’t mean I’m with out mold.

Whether you have growing, glowing, or ghostly pumpkins on your porch ask God  what you are growing, glowing and maybe ghostly hiding. Jesus wants your heart no matter what is in it or on it – he can handle any growth good or bad.

Why I Home School

Tonight as I was preparing for another year of home school, I was stressing! To ease my stress, I decided to list out as many reasons I could in a matter of minutes to answer the question “Why do I home school?”  This below list is what I came up.  If you home school your children I hope it encourages you and I would love to hear your list, as it would encourage me along with other readers.  Happy homeschooling!

Why I home school:

  1. Quality education
  2. Safe education
  3. Non isolated atmosphere such as sitting at a peanut free table
  4. Less breathing treatments
  5. Easier
  6. Faster
  7. I get to pick the curriculum
  8. My kids have fun
  9. I have fun
  10. We don’t have to deal with as many b-day parties which cause food and health concerns.
  11. I am my own PTA
  12. My son is not as likely to go into anaphylactic shock.
  13. I’m the nurse
  14. I’m the teacher
  15. I’m the principal
  16. I’m the lunch lady
  17. I’m the recess attendant
  18. There is no bullying
  19. We start when we want to
  20. We end when we want to
  21. I make lunches at noon or later.
  22. I can teach in my pajamas
  23. The kids can be schooled in their pajamas
  24. We can take fun trips at any time.
  25. Sick days don’t have to be excused or have a written letter
  26. I don’t ever have to call the school
  27. I don’t have to deal with food parties at school
  28. I don’t have to go on field trips.
  29. I don’t have to pick them up.
  30. I don’t have to drop them off.
  31. I can give them individual attention on any subject they need.
  32. I get to see their improvement.
  33. I get to encourage them.
  34. I get to teach them.
  35. I get to love them.
  36. I get to provide security for them.
  37. I get to see them excel.
  38. I get to color
  39. I get to play with my kids
  40. I get to create.
  41. I don’t have to any fund raising.
  42. Sports are provided
  43. Music is provided
  44. Art is provided
  45. There are no budget cuts
  46. There are no teacher strikes
  47. They are not out of school for 3 months in the summer.
  48. We can travel
  49. We spend more time together as a family.
  50. We create memories.

I’m Only Human!

Yesterday I woke up thinking, “Why can’t I do it all?!?”  Why can’t I just say the right things (all the time), think the right thoughts (all the time), feel only happy feelings (all the time), be the right mommy (all the time), be the right wife (all the time), be the right (all the time)… Then the next major question that flew into my mind was “Why must I have help?!?” “Why am I not strong enough?” You may be laughing at me or yourself because you might think, “Awe those people who think they can do it all,” or “I am one of those people who can do it ALL, and I do it good!” The truth is we are human!  Sometimes as Christians we forget how frail we are.  A verse that frequently comes to my mind is Psalm 103: 13 “He knows our frame; He is mindful we are dust.” God knows how human we are. Sometimes we forget. We also forget the humanity of Jesus.  Jesus lived life as a human. A human who hurt, a human who laughed, a human who played, a human who cried… A human who needs to be remembered as a God who was human!

Later in the day, while I was driving, (after getting help from someone) the idea of God making a helper for Adam reminded me that I don’t and wasn’t made to do things alone.  From the beginning of mankind God knew we needed help!  He created another helper. I can’t do it all, and that is okay!  I’m not designed to do IT ALL! You can’t do it all, and that is okay! You were not designed to do it ALL!

So give yourself a break! Put up your help wanted sign because we all need help!

Facedown

Tonight as I was praying I was face down, completing lying down.  When I looked up I noticed that my littlest child had marked our portable air conditioner with pen.  I would have never noticed this unless I was lying on the ground or looking down.  This got me to reflect on the fact when I look down, I usually notice what is broken, what needs help, what needs to be cleaned, what needs to be painted, what needs to be rearranged … the list goes on.  After a moment I thought, it’s good to look down!  It is good to look down into my life, and the lives of others who also might be broken, needing help, needing a bit of rearranging, needing an eraser to wipe off the scribbles of rejection, need healing, needing comfort … as before, the list goes on.  Although I usually like to look up or at the bright side of things, there is a sense of awe when we look down.  Perhaps we would be more like Jesus if we spent time looking down rather than looking up.

Dancing Heart

I just got back from dancing! Well, not literally, but allegorically my heart went dancing. Ironically, my dancing heart resulted from some much-needed alone time. I had plans to meet a friend, but on my way to meet her, I cancelled. I needed to be alone! I felt bad, but it was a must. Sometimes, each one of us has to say, “No, I’m not going to make it.”

On the other hand, something I rarely say no to are books. One book I’m currently reading for seminary is The Leadership Ellipse, by Robert Fryling. Fryling’s forth chapter is titled “A Dancing Heart.” Hence, where I get the allegory of a dancing heart. In the fourth chapter he mentions a story about his friend explaining in order to be a “present” for others, we need to be in God’s “presence.” For me, I cognitively became aware of His presence in my alone time while sitting at PF Changs. I have to admit once in a while I have special nights where I retreat to a bar with a book and bible. I refer to these “special nights” as my book, bar and bible nights. They make me happy!

Anyway…reflecting back on the idea of being a present, earlier this week I wanted to buy some gifts for various friends. Although I wanted to buy certain presents, my bank account was telling me I shouldn’t. My obvious thought was in order to give I should have enough money to pay for each gift. Even though this is an obvious dilemma it got me thinking how bankrupt our society is physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If we don’t have anything in us, we have nothing to give. No one can give on empty! Tonight, being alone, I got something. I got revived, rejuvenated! I feel alive. I have something to give.

Overall, it was mandatory that I stop and take a moment to bask in nothingness. Although, I was alone, enjoying my nothingness, I was receiving so much in return. In my nothingness I gained peace, a bundle of joy, and a whole lot of happiness.  Going back to Fryling, he describes when one is in God’s presence there is a natural enthusiastic response. For example, Acts 3:8 “Walking and leaping and praising God.” Walking and leaping is the best analogy that describes my dance after being in His Presence.  I hope you can take time to be alone and rest in His presence too.

Cheers!

Thanksgiving Reflections:

I recently was struck by Deuteronomy 6:11.  I know you might think how can anyone get anything out of Deuteronomy that is relevant for today?  Or, what does Deuteronomy have to do with Thanksgiving?

Well take a look at Deuteronomy 6:11 with me, and maybe you too, will find it to be a reflective Thanksgiving passage.

Deuteronomy 6:11

You walk into large, bustling cities you didn’t build, well furnished houses you didn’t buy.  ~The Message

Houses are filled with all sorts of goods [or food] that you did not fill [or work hard to get]. ~NRSV

Now I’m sure you had to buy your house, and you had to fill it with goods; but I bet you didn’t have to do all the work. There had to have been some people go before you.For instance, our houses or lets say even our refrigerators are filled with all sorts of goods.  The majority of us didn’t get up today or yesterday to milk a cow for the whip cream we will put on our pie this afternoon.  In addition, probably none of us killed the turkey we will be eating later on today – someone went before us! Someone did the work.

Who has gone before you?

Maybe you’re a pastor and the person who went before you labored hours and hours to plant a church.  Maybe you’re a successful businessperson because of an entrepreneur’s vision and dream.  Maybe you’re a student who is privileged to listen to knowledge from professors who have thought, studied, and written countless hours.  Overall, so many people have gone before us to make our day, our work, and life a lot easier!  Granted, I know I can’t give all the credit to the people who have gone before us because we still have to labor to keep things going. However, I challenge you to think where or who you would be if someone hadn’t gone before you?  And, if you are that someone who is plowing the way for others to follow – thank you – keep plowing!

I truly believe if we reflect on the work people have done before us, we should find something to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving

Extra Snuggles!

Often I hear my two-year-old at night or even during the day in his little voice say, “I want to hold you.”  AKA – I want to be held.  Something I also hear him say every night and nearly every quiet time is, “Can I have snuggles?” or “Snuggle me two mins?” I love snuggling him and  I don’t think I’ve ever denied him.

Today, as I put him to quiet time  he routinely asked, “Can I have snuggles?” but he added  “I want a lot of snuggles!”  After I heard his cute little voice say he wanted  a lot of snuggles I had a big smile on my face!  I thought the same thought, I want a lot of snuggles!

As I reflected on how my son longs to be snuggled, I thought how I long to be snuggled by Jesus.  Jesus never denies me of snuggles.  He is always willing to stay with me for two more mins.  Today I was snuggled as I listened to the song, “My Beloved.”  You can be snuggled today too. Why not ask for, extra snuggles!

Talk to God – He wants to talk to you.

I love talking to God.  Seriously it is like one of my favorite things to do.  I haven’t been able to talk out-loud for 15 days without pain.  I have missed getting carried away in a conversation.  I have missed getting carried away in a conversation out-loud with God.

Today, I was talking to God (not entirely all out loud), but I was praying for some wonderful pastors & other people.  As I was praying I thought: I am so amazed that God uses me. I’m a stay at home mom who lately gives & takes medicine nearly all day & changes diapers for a living.  (Ha- I don’t even get paid, but it is truly life living/giving occupation.) Really God can use anyone!  Talk to Him – He wants to talk to you.