Friday, May 31, 2013

May Lookback

 At this point in my life, May is seen as the last month of glorious, wonderful, freedom filled, school days.  Summer doesn't hold the same sparkle as I would hope.  Thankfully, as in my last post, God has encouraged me with His word and I am going into this summer a bit more at peace than perhaps the last 4 summers we have spent at Gateway ('bout time I figured it out, huh?)  Still, we tried to make the most of the family-time mornings and beautiful sunshine early afternoons.  Life is full, and we are blessed.

Bring on summer.
 Lunches at Cypress House, usually leftovers, sometimes with smiles
 The Wiegands leave for Zambia in August.  This month they headed to Colorado for training.  This was our 'practice goodbye.'  Not as many tears as will most certainly be in August.
 Hannah graduates from Preschool! and a halfway decent pic of us five - score!
 Really enjoying a fudge pop
 Field day at Gateway.  So glad Margo and her kiddos could join us!

 Pedicures on the Patio...and Highlights to keep them entertained

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Serve.

Serve.

That word can evoke many types of emotion.  Good and bad.

If I am at a restaurant: I am glad for that waiter who serves.  And I expect good service.

If I am doing the fifth load of laundry of the day and a Suvar-child walks in with mud from toe to teeth, and I serve my family with clean laundry...well that type of service can sometimes rub the wrong way.

I must admit I have been struggling with the day to day and trying to find joy in the work of the mundane.  I know some things are necessary, and I conjure up some tolerance with a little prayer and scripture, but nothing seemed to last.


Thankfully, a friend recommended  One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp.  I came across this part of the book and it has stuck with me:



Whenever man is made the center of things he becomes the storm-center of trouble.  The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have a notion that other people owe you something for your pains…You begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause...When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it’s true, I think I am due some appreciation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy.  But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work, is my song of thanks for Him, joy rains.  Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all…the work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness.

I feel like it was something I had heard before, something I had told myself "Do all to the glory of God" and all that stuff.  But maybe it was the combination with scripture that I had read earlier in the day:
He didn't love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us.  Love like that.  Ephesians 5:2

I think that is part of my problem.

Looking for something in return.

Life as a houseparent, life as a parent, you don't necessarily get something in return for the work you do.

Sometimes a simple thank you would suffice, but those are often lacking, too.

But Jesus served.  He loved.  And didn't look for anything in return.

He healed 10 lepers!

And only one came back to thank him.  Makes me wonder how often thank yous were thrown Jesus' way...

But as the verse in Ephesians says, love by giving everything.  When I think of it I get a picture of myself serving, giving, without expectation, to the point that at the end of the day I am empty.

Empty.

So that He can fill me back up.

When I give of myself completely, everyday, my life may look like this at the end of the day:

  • worn out body
  • messy living room
  • laundry still needing to be folded
  • dirty dishes stacked by the sink
My perfectionist self cringes at all that did not get done.  But when I look at what was accomplished:
  •  quality conversations made with the 13-year-old
  • snuggle on the couch with the 3-year-old
  • meaningful time with the husband
  • heart warmed from relationships built just a bit stronger

I know the world tells us to look out for ourselves, and save time for yourselves, and I think that is true to a point.

I think that if more of that "me time" was spent as "God time" - a time we turned to Him to fill us back up when our tank is running on empty, I think we could find stamina we didn't think we had.

This slant on service has come at a great time for me, heading into summer with 7 teenagers and 3 kiddos out of school.  I have been finding myself, when being asked to do something, come here and see something just as I was sitting down, just telling myself "Serve."

And I can feel my heart turn soft.  Because when I see it as serving God and not man.  Serving when looking for nothing in return.

Well.  That makes all the difference.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A lesson from a bird

I'm sure she thought it was a good idea.  It looked safe, she had done things like this before and it had worked out.

Why should she wonder if this time it would not be safe?

But I could tell.  From my vantage point it was not a good idea.

A robin built her nest on the front porch of our home.  On a windowsill, solid brick, safe from the rain and wind.  In theory it should work.

But that porch sees 13 different people coming and going all day long; 4 of them teenage boys, 3 of them small children.

For weeks the nest sat empty and I thought - hoped - the robin had obtained some smarts and found a new place to roost.

Then one day Hannah comes running to be to tell me of a surprise she found.

A beautiful blue robin's egg.




My heart sort of sank.  I did not have high hopes of it's survival.  I gently warned our kids about not disturbing the nest, leaving the egg alone.

I should have told the boys.

The egg lasted a whole day.  Sigh.

And some of you may not believe this but, I cried.  I cried for that momma robin who would come back to find no baby.  Yep.  That's my life as an emotional roller coaster.

But, as so many instances in life, this too holds a lesson for me.

How often to I forge ahead with something, convinced I am doing the right thing, that I can see all the pieces at play and know I am choosing the right path.  Say a quick prayer, thinking there is now a blessing attached to my plan.

And God is shaking His head and thinking "why is she building her nest there?"

"Why is she placing her trust in that?  Something that is doomed to fail, not last?"

If only I could have communicated to the robin that if she would have just built her nest on the other side of the house, on a different windowsill, her egg may have turned out differently.

If only I would stop and listen to God's leading, instead of forging ahead with my own thoughts, ideas, perceptions.

Because He can see the big picture.  I cannot.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”  Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that."  James 4:13-15

I need to stop flitting around, building my nest, making my plans, and listen to God's voice, and His plan for me.  Whether it is as big a plan as to where we are to live or work, or as simple a plan as finding the joy in the everyday, His creation.  

God's plan is always best.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

True Love

I didn't have a stellar Saturday.

One of those days where there were many things that I felt needed accomplished, and by the end of the day the only thing I accomplished was a poor attitude and feelings of failure as a mom (and those were not on the initial to-do list!)

I woke up this morning feeling pretty unworthy of this holiday, Mother's Day.

I sought God's Word for an answer.  Encouragement, direction, I would even take admonishment.  I needed an answer for the funk I was in.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
I Corinthians 13 (The Message) 

Convicted much?

It's not hard for me to love my kids, no surprise there.  But sometimes it's hard to love the other 7 kids living under our roof. 

I mean love them like the scripture above describes.  Loving others who do not love you in return.  

Service.  Thankless service. 

I think that is partly what fueled my funk yesterday.  I felt like I was doing, doing, doing for others without any recognition for it.

Good grief.  Do I have problems.

Someone tell me to get over myself....  

Thank you.

But I was humbled today by God's word and His message of what true love looks like.  Thankfully, He is not finished with me yet.

I know I will not be able to accomplish all things on that above list of I Corinthians because, well, I'm not God.  But He's called me to it, and so I will keep striving to show all those children in my life Christlike love. 

And that list from I Corinthians?  A much better list to pursue than any list I had made up Saturday.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When the waves come


I'm not sure when it started.  And I'm not sure it was a specific event.  It may be the fact that I am just growing older, and unfortunately, am more aware of what is going on around me.

But I have had this sense of foreboding that I have been carrying around with me for quite some time.

I think it was sometime last fall, although I can't pinpoint an exact time.

I think it was a number of things that just piled on top of one another.  Things I had heard on the news, the election and all that it entailed, more and more sinful things becoming mainstream and accepted in society. The sense, that although it is not physical persecution, that there is definitely verbal persecution going on against God and His people.

I wouldn't say it made me fearful.  But definitely anxious.  It seemed I could reassure myself with God's word.  But I would fall right back into the state of anxiety so quickly.  The peace never seemed to last.

The anxiety wasn't crippling, I could get through life without even acknowledging it on the outside.  But there always seemed to be this little dark seed hanging out somewhere in my chest, maybe even my heart.  It was evasive enough that I couldn't pinpoint it, but I knew it was there nonetheless.

It seemed, despite my efforts to go back to God's word, that I continued to feel this way.

And then in church last Sunday Psalm 93 was read aloud, and a picture came to my mind:

The floods have lifted up, O Lord, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves.
The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.

As the part about the floods lifting up their voice was read, I was envisioning the waters as the verbal persecution, the media, their voices getting louder and louder as they spoke out against Christ and all He stands for.  And the waves themselves as the movements that are happening in this country: abortion, pedophilia, homosexuality, Godlessness.  They are waves that are threatening to over take us, drown us out.

But verse 4 gives us this hope:  God is MIGHTIER than the noise, He is MIGHTIER than the waves.

I found such comfort in those two verses.  Because, as the disciples discovered, "even the wind and WAVES obey Him!" Matthew 8:27

I was still reveling on these verses days later, when I heard read the verses of Isaiah 40:
Verse 15:
    Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;
    they are regarded as dust on the scales;
    he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.


Read by themselves, it kinda sounds like we are insignificant to God (which is SO not true).  But what I pulled from it was that when it feels like the nations are raging, and wars may abound, to God it is like dust on the scales, a drop in the bucket.  If he doesn't see it as a big deal, why should I?  If I am to have the mind of Christ, why must I worry about all this stuff?

It's easier said than done.  But I hope that I can come back to these verses (and maybe this post) as a reminder to God's power...and control.

Friday, May 3, 2013

April Lookback


 For some reason, April just flew by.  There wasn't much Spring to speak of, but it was slightly warmer (sometimes) so that we could actually be outside without a winter coat on.  I'm thankful for the season of Spring and for the awakening of Creation from the cold.  The month, for me, started out in a bit of a slump, with feelings of burn-out and melancholy.  Thankfully the Lord is faithful and He showed me through His Word of His faithfulness and goodness (more of that in another post).  Now we look forward to May and the waning weeks of school before all craziness lets out with the summer.

But for now, Happy Spring!


Kite flying

 Milkshakes for evening snack, while watching Paul play Lord of the Rings on the Wii.  The kids enjoying watching just as much as Paul enjoys playing.  It's a win-win!
 Hannah's Spring Concert at Preschool.  A lot of kids screaming and chaos reined.
 Owen wanted to try his hand (foot?) at soccer this year.  Guess you can call me a soccer mom now.
 Celebrating Hannah's birthday with the Cypress House
 Hannah's request was a Hello Kitty cake...
 and all the Grandparents came over to celebrate with us.
 Finally a warmer day where we could play outside without coats!
 Fort building - anyone else do this with a hide-a-bed?  I did as a kid and when I showed my kids, they thought I was a genius.  Score.
 An excellent birthday gift to Hannah from Maria. Make-your-own-Owls.  
Right up Hannah's craft-a-holic alley.  She promptly made all 9.
Owen's first soccer game.  He was so nervous about being with kids he didn't know.  But once they pulled out the soccer balls, he was all over it.