Saturday, May 31, 2008

An answer...a change.

Well,the doctors have decided that what Alex experienced was a full Lupus flare. That is an autoimmune disease that is brutal on your organs. She has been extremely uncomfortable, a little confused, but she is alive and is going to stay that way!!! You know how after the storm passes people start saying things and you hear more of what was going on? Here are two things that struck me. 1. On Tuesday morning the nurses said, "If you don't get that breathing tube in, we're going to code her." That meant that they were going to pronounce her dead. WOW! The other thing was on Thursday the kidney specialist looked at her kidneys and said to my mother, "Today she is stable, yesterday she was dying." We just believed that this wouldn't end in death. In fact, we believe that it will result in lives all over. There was a young man that she used to date that didn't leave the hospital that has decided he wants to be a better man and has decided to attend a local church. Alex says, "that's good." She knew before she was this sick that she wanted to live time like the present wouldn't you say? My brother was awesome this week, I believe he might want to turn around as well. It was a long, hard week. We cried, we laughed, we prayed, we believed. It could have gone another direction, it almost did. I believe that our faith was challenged and it felt good. When she was in ICU we decided that nothing would change the goodness of God...nothing. My sister, Ashley found a fabulous verse in Hosea 2, so I read to her (she was a captive audience)one night, we had steady traffic back to her room for people to pray for her. Now that she has come around she has been amazed at the people who care about her. I'm a little sad about many people have loved her for so long, I'm sorry that it took this to show her. She has to have a biopsy done on one of her kidneys as a precautionary measure to be sure that they are in good working order before she goes home. The biopsy is Monday or hopefully she'll be home next week. Over the next month she is going to be on a ridiculous amount of steroids that will make her hungry, thirsty and moody. If that's not enough she will have a tough time sleeping. Obviously she'll gain a ton of weight because of pray that she'll be patient with this process. Also, pray that we will be compassionate as we care for her. Thank you for checking in, for praying, for loving us so beautifully. I'll let you know when she comes home, but you can expect some regular programming here at a Cup of Cold Water soon. Thank you for being my tall refreshing glass of ice cold water...I was so thirsty.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The clouds are moving

We are breathing a little bit easier today. Alex has just been taken back for surgery to remove one of her swollen lymph nodes, to confirm Lupus, or cross it off the list. Her doctor believes that if all goes well she should be off the floor today and in a normal room. Speaking of normal...she's back to much as she can be. She woke this morning hungry, tired, thirsty and wanted to go home. Yesterday she asked the nurse where she was and how long she had been there. She has wanted to go home...of course. She drank two bottles of water last night...we are encouraged. Again, thank you for all of your kind words and prayers that really did hold our arms up when we were tired and weary from the beating rain of the storm. I do have a regular blog that I'm cooking up regarding a broken pizza stone...I'll be glad to report great news and get back to normal...whatever that is! Again, thank you so much. The love is unreal, what would we do without Him? Blessings to you all!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A little bit better, but sort of the same.

Wow. That is all I can say as my family has received such an intense amount of love and support during this bizarre time. Church friends and family, people that aren't here. God's love being extended through His people is sometimes more than I can bear. Last night my sister, Ashley (2 years older than Alex) was baptized and what a celebration for her. The church prayed for Alex and we headed to the hospital. Her condition...

She remains in ICU and they keep calling her critical. The doctors are quite baffled by all of this and are unable to put their finger on the source of the distress in her body. They thought they would need to do dialysis because the sedative was weakening her kidneys and her urination output was poor, but I suppose she got wind of that and decided against it, because it wasn't necessary. They were going to give her another blood transfusion, but to my knowledge that wasn't necessary either. She is on a ridiculous amount of sedative and is still answering our questions by blinking or squeezing hands. She's totally aware and we are glad, but not all at the same time. We want her to get some rest. She is on the sedative because she still has a breathing tube. She can breathe on her own, but they were concerned that they would, for some unexpected reason, need to put it in again and because of the swelling and irritation that it can cause would not be able to. So, they've been holding back on removal. However, there is talk that she could come off it today, I'm a little nervous, I've been talking smack while she's been quiet and she might come after me! I welcome some sass from her! When I spoke to my sister earlier she had not yet heard from the doctors, but nothing has changed for the worse. Continue to hold our arms up, my step-dad's arms are really tired. As you can imagine, so are Mom's.

Please pray for healing both physically and spiritually. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We love you all and will stand in the gap for you whenever we can.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A groggy update

Wow...what a precious thing to witness the body of Christ in action. From the prayers from strangers, to the hugs and tears of sweet, sweet friends. As of 2:30 this morning, Alex was still in ICU, but there were a few things that we were clinging to. Yesterday she had blood in her lungs and fluid around her heart. She was barely able to breathe even with 100% oxygen. When I saw her for the first time she had a breathing tube and was heavily sedated. Then she had a breathing tube, and a feeding tube, next the breathing, feeding, and a new IV coming from her neck. So, what were we clinging to (besides the hope that only comes from knowing God remains the same) is that the blood in her lungs was gone, I suppose when they treated the pulmonary hemorrage they were on to something, a symptom of something else, but they were treating something. The fluid around her heart isn't pressing on her heart and her breathing has improved. She isn't requiring as much of the ventilater. I think someone said she's only using 40% of it...whatever that means. So, I'm learning a lot about prayer.

You know how I felt yesterday? I had a lot of feelings, but one of them was victorious. I was thinking about the battle that was fought and won, only because Moses had some good friends who were willing to hold his arms up. When his arms were raised, the Israelites were victorious, when they dropped they got clobbered. So, when Moses could no longer hold up his arms, his pals held them up. I felt like, through my prayers, and those who were praying alongside my family, we were holding her arms up. She's so weak, but she's got a fight in her. They had to paralyze her temporarily to do a bronchoscopy (please do NOT check my spelling on that!!!) because she was biting the instrument. We were glad to hear that she was fighting...she's a bit ornery by nature, so we felt like she's in there.

I'm not sure what today will entail, but I continue to draw from the only well that will not leave me thirsty. We're all tired, as you can imagine, but my older sister flew in last night to be with the family, and that feels good. I am believing that this will not end in death, that can only happen two ways. 1. Alex has the opportunity to offer what she's got left to the One who can make her whole, and she goes to be with Him in paradise...that's THE life, or 2. He spares her life on earth, finally draws Him near and uses her in fantastic ways for the remainder of her life. I'm hoping to see her life impact many here on earth, and I'm hopeful that is going to be the result...but I know that His ways are higher and better. We are hopeful. I'll say that.

I'll tell you what, the next time someone asks me to will be a different prayer. It is an absolute privilege to labor for people through prayer. A privilege to come up behind that weary soul and gently raise their arms and watch for a victory. So, thank you for holding our arms up, Alex's and mine. I'll keep you posted.

I'll tell you what, I love watching God's people rally...I know that changes the watching world as well. To see people put their lives down, to stop what they are doing to wander around a parking garage, find the floor in a HUGE medical complex, and walk into a crisis, just so we know that they are there. Thanks.

With much love...


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Going Horizontal

I'm interrupting my usually uplifting blog to bring you my real life. Up close and personal. My baby sister, 21 years old, has just been moved to ICU at MCG here in Augusta. Her body is not serving all. Of course we are scared, and I want some assurance of salvation. A dear friend of mine has taught me that the MOST I can do in any situation is to pray. Please pray for my family, the doctors, my sister. I want to believe the things that I say I believe, I suppose now is a great time to start. Thank you for your prayers. I just figured people I don't know read this (thank you and I'd love to meet you) so I'd ask you to join me in prayer. I'm off to the hospital, with peace knowing God doesn't leave His throne for breaks.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A comment from me on Tetris

I just want to share that this particular entry (Tetris) convicted me greatly. The last paragraph challenged me the very second I wrote it. It felt harsh, but good all at the same time. Like real discipline from my Abba Father. My husband came home and I said, "I was really convicted about my faith tonight." I went straight to God's word and read through Psalm 97 again, and Psalm 104 and 105...great stuff. I don't know how many people read this, but I feel as though I have started a journey with some of you, and picked up with others. I get to hear your comments, and I wanted to share one of mine. This is a trust and not that I'm sure I will not have mastered until Heaven. I want to be a woman of great faith, but sometimes I'm just a woman! Thank you for checking in and for enjoying this. It is my prayer that this would only be an appetizer for the real truth and life sustaining words that come from God's Word alone. Thank you for joining me... or sticking with's a privilege to share some of your time. Enjoy.

Tetris...gotta love it!

I just scored 20,973 on the ninth level of Tetris completing a total number of 85 lines! It was so much fun!!! I'll tell you what, I'm not an athlete, but I married one. I do realize that Tetris does not require athletic skill, but it has sparked a competition in my home!

My husband LOVES sports and is a fan of good, solid competition. I mean that someone wins and someone loses...there is only ONE trophy, ring, or Stanley Cup. He loves it. I make him crazy, actually my entire family makes him crazy. We share chips when we play poker, we do not read the rules, and my brother ALWAYS wins money when he plays the lottery. Mike just shakes his head at the lot of us. He has the high score set in BOTH of our hand held Yahtzee's. (That would be one for each bathroom, if you want to know why we have's so funny to hear a 5 year old yell from the bathroom...YAHTZEE!) He is a PE teacher, so he has found a way to make a living doing what he loves.

Our new favorite game is Tetris. I do not wish for my laptop to be "repoed," so I won't say that sometimes we're passing the computer back and forth before we go to bed...but let's just say we enjoy playing it! The other night he was watching over my shoulder and screaming, "Flip it, horizontal, right there, left, left...LEFT!" I was so nervous playing with him watching over my shoulder. Plus, he uses smart words like, horizontal and vertical...why not use UP and DOWN or ACROSS??? It's so much fun to watch him play. He's so smart, I really married out of my league. He even makes up different ways to play Tetris, like piling the blocks up in a particular way to wait on a long red one to's fun. Even the other day, Anson came running into the kitchen totally amazed that his very own dad had just gotten 56 rows. His words were, and I quote, "56 rows, can you imagine?" We stand in awe of him, I'm sort of crying right now. How am I going to make this spiritual? I may not, but here is what I'm thinking...

When we take things out of God's hands it is like playing Tetris with our lives. You start out on level one with the blocks coming down slow and you are able to manage them. Then, around the 4th level they begin falling a bit faster and you make one mistake and they are piling up and you flip it the wrong way, someone yells, "HORIZONTAL!" You freeze, and BAM you know what you see next, "GAME OVER!" You know how when you start juggling things yourself? Time with family, job, volunteer work, shopping, cooking, exercising, your blocks start piling up and you just keep stacking them. You are a confident gamer, you are doing well. Then the block that you are waiting on doesn't fall (perhaps it's a check to cover a bill, or a friend can't show up, or there are 2 games on different fields) things just aren't fitting together anymore. God is trying to tell you, "VERTICAL" and you go, "Does that mean up or down? Speak clearly...I'm so nervous" No red one falls, the stack is getting higher and now...GAME OVER! When this happens to me, when I hit my max, I start going through piles like, "Why isn't this put away? Who left this here? We have to leave in 5 minutes! We will Worship and YOU WILL LIKE IT!!!" It's a matter of control and it should never have been my game to play in the first place.

If we are meeting with Jesus on a regular basis, we will have no other option but to allow Him to be in complete control of our lives. After you have met with God, I mean really met with Him through prayer and the study of His word...why wouldn't you surrender all to Him? This passage came to mind, you're going to love this,
"The LORD reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice. Clouds and thick darkness surround him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and consumes His foes on every side. His lightening lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, before the Lord of all the earth. The heavens proclaim his righteousness and all the peoples see His glory." Psalm 97:1-6. I am not kidding, that makes my heart beat faster. To read a description of my God like that, and believe that I can run things a bit better than Him...WHY??? It happens, and that's because we lose touch, we stop remaining in Him, we start running on yesterday's quiet time, or today's little devotion. Nothing will keep us in check like His word. To read through and be reminded of the AMAZING things He has done. I'll list just a few, parting the Red Sea so that hundreds of thousands of people can pass through on dry ground, parting the Jordan River for the Israelites to then enter the Promise Land, He brought dead people back to life, brought sight to the blind, told the lame to walk, not to mention peaking outside and viewing His creation! That's like a little teenie list. Not to mention the list that we can come up with of what He has done in OUR life. He can and does orchestrate all things for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) Maybe you are waiting on the perfect "block" so that your game will continue. Are you waiting on a spouse, a child, a healing? Is He being slow? That doesn't make Him any less good or any less capable. He is much better at organizing our lives, Psalm 139 teaches us that all our days were ordained before one of them came to be. Now, if that doesn't take a load off, I don't know what will!

I have been resting a little bit easier as I ponder the things that will and will not last. I am confident that if I will prioritize my time with God, putting my life (my Tetris game if you will) in His hands, I can just sort of watch. In the same way that I stand in awe of my amazing husband, I can stand in awe of my amazing God. As my blocks stack up, as my heart races as I trust, I'm just going to wait to see what He has for Me. I know that it is good. It may not look good all the time to me (see my Cup of Crap for that)but He is good. I will praise Him because of WHO He is, not WHAT He is or is not doing. You see, it's about recognizing Him as the King of Kings. It's curling up next to Him to watch Him do all things as only He can do them...well. It's exhilarating, isn't it? To turn your life over to the only One who can actually manage it. Whew, am I ever thankful for His ability.

So, the next time you start flipping out over a block that isn't falling, you know, your plan isn't working about you go horizontal...that would be flat, not upright or vertical, like your knees (or face) to the floor, and stop trying and start trusting. Please remind me to do the same.

P.S...unspiritual side note...if this spurs you on to a game of tetris...let me know your high score!!!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A cup of berries

Before you start reading this, I wanted to tell you a little bit about the process that these little stories go through. I get an idea and I play with it and when I get a chance I start working on it as a word document where it stays for a few days until I can complete it. After it's complete I reread it several times and then think of all of the things I could add to it. On this particular story I thought about discussing how we remain in Christ or how to be appealing to a watching world. I feel like God comes up with these and I don't want to add to it. There are some of these stories I don't love, but some of you do. So, this might be one of those. I didn't add anything...actually I deleted some stuff that I thought would make it didn't. Alright, I'll quit blabbing...I pray that this makes it's way to your heart and that God uses it to make you more like Him. Blessings.

I have a really neat play group. We are sort of overachievers I think. We have taken our children to the Fire Station when two were small enough to be “worn,” and one of us was pregnant. We’ve gone to the lake, the local science museum, a handful of plays in the wonderfully restored downtown theatre, and even painted our toenails before Mother’s Day! (I should add that it wasn’t at a salon, can you imagine? It was on my back porch…still impressive) Today was strawberry picking. There is a wonderful “berry plantation” just across the river and we decided that before the season ended, we’d head out. Today was the day.

Now, I mention that we are overachievers not because I think we are incredible (although that’s not far off...LOL ) I mention that because we cram a lot into a day. Between the 3 of us there are 8 children, all but one walks. Actually 5 walk, 2 wander, 1 waits for someone to notice that he has crawled into a mud puddle. So, we get our buckets and head out over to our little pickin’ spot. We gather the kids wanting them to pay attention and be respectful so we don’t have to threaten them in public. LOL! Before you are turned loose, you are given instructions on the proper way to pick a yummy berry. She shows us how to pull the leaves back to reveal the delicious fruit underneath. She shows us a green strawberry that should be left, an almost ripe berry that had a hint of orange, that should also be left, and a ripe berry that can be popped off (there is a method of course) and placed in our bucket. They have a very systematic way of doing things and if I knew how to link things to show you where I went, I totally would. You’ll have to wait. In any event, she caught my attention when she said, “You leave berries on the vine until they are ripe, because they will not ripen once they have been picked.” Really? They must remain on the vine until they are ready. She explained that the reason the grocery berries are so not yummy is because they are picked early and can’t ripen. There is fruit that can ripen once removed, but strawberries aren’t one of them.

That phrase kept repeating in my mind, “They cannot ripen off the vine.” Of course my mind recalled John 15:5, sing it if you know it, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing.” I couldn’t help but to think how incredible that was. They must remain on the vine. ME TOO!!! A couple of years ago I studied John 15:5 with some pretty harsh applications. I looked at the word abide and what it meant. A quick trip to and here is the Greek: to remain, abide
a. in reference to place
1. to sojourn, tarry
2. not to depart 1a
b. to continue to be present 1a
c. to be held, kept, continually
d. in reference to time
1. to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure 1b
e. of persons, to survive, live
f. in reference to state or condition
1. to remain as one, not to become another or different
2. to wait for, await one
I don’t normally “do” definitions like that on my little blog, (and it didn’t paste properly, please excuse the weird layout) but it’s necessary to see what that means. What it REALLY means to stay on the vine. I love the last number 1…to remain as one, not to become another or different. Remaining connected to Jesus is everything.

My little Smella (that’s my youngest and she comes by that name HONESTLY) kept eating all of the berries. I mean she had them dripping from everywhere! She would take them ripe or unripe and even those in between. I told the ladies I felt like I should pay them something for what she consumed, but they just laughed, and asked me not to return. I’m kidding! Seriously, though, we didn’t want the unripe berries. First of all, they are the wrong color! Who wants waffles with green strawberries dripping off of them? NOT IT! (That’s what we used to say growing up when we didn’t want to do something…like dishes, sweeping, cleaning vomit…whatever) I want a beautiful red sauce, a sweet berry that makes my mouth come alive. I don’t want an almost ripe berry that tricks me into thinking that it’s going to be a yummy bite…I want the yummy bite! In the same way, my dear friends, I do not want to be the unripe Jesus follower who makes someone’s mouth pucker. I don’t want to trick people either leading them to believe that I am sweet and turn out to be just “alright.” I want to stay so close to the vine, so connected that I ripen beautifully. I want to be the berry in our favorite book The Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear. I don’t want to jump off the vine too early. Do you know what they do with berries that are picked by accident or fall of the vine and rot? They throw them in the middle of the rows to be trampled, they are worthless. Oh, Father, please do not let that happen to me. Pray with me, ladies. Please keep us close to you. So connected that people cannot see where we stop and you start. We want to be women who long to be with you and are pleasing and sweet to those near and dear to us. Do a work in us Father, we recognize that apart from you we can do nothing.

The next time you put a strawberry in your mouth think, “Is this sweet and juicy or hard and bitter?” Which is more appealing?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A cup of clean.

“Why is this thing so stinkin’ heavy?” I ask myself this same question every couple of months. Some of you ask yourself this question as well. I have a handful of good friends that probably don’t, they are neat and orderly…not scattered like their good friend Ali. What was so stinkin’ heavy? My purse!!! Let me say that I do not “change” purses. Right before my second child was born, my mother-in-law and I ran all over town looking for the perfect backpack/diaper bag/purse. We found it, I love it. I have had another baby since then and this bag has held up beautifully. So, I took a minute to clean it out. The contents made me laugh and question my mental state…here are a few of my findings:
6 sanitary napkins (how long was I going to be gone???)
1 tampon
6 pens
3 pencils (2 unsharpened?)
3 grocery lists
3 tubes of lipstick
One bag of coins (must have been the end of the month and we raided the change)
A few invitations
Some phone numbers
Of course my wallet and checkbook filled with receipts that may or may or may not need to be recorded
The wipe case
The missing sippy cup
1 diaper
Random trash
Then at the bottom my fingers touched this green, I can’t even describe it, it was sort of like pencil eraser stuff. Sort of like powder. I’m not sure what it was! I had to take the entire thing outside to shake it. I then put the few things that did actually belong, back in and was quite satisfied that I had accomplished a task. (I'm sure that there were 10 things that went undone because of this!) As I put it back on my shoulder it still felt heavy, but I figured at least it was clean. I guess it’s just going to be heavy for awhile. Then I’ll purchase a ridiculously small, glittery bag that only my wallet and keys will fit into. That’s my plan. As usual…I considered some other things that needed to be cleaned out.

Lately I have been burdened by a lot of things. Life in general can often times feel burdensome. Not in a bad way, just busier than you’d like it and you don’t get to do everything you want to do. My husband and have had some really tough, but really good conversations, and I’ve been challenged in what are my responsibilities. What do I say “yes” to, and what do I avoid? Am I the only one? Well, I’ve been walking with the Lord for 11 years now and I know that when things get a little bit tough, I can expect some refinement. Let me say that I do welcome it. I do not wish to stay the same for the rest of my life! I started thinking of what it would be like if I could clean out my heart like I cleaned out my purse. Maybe it would be something like this…

Oh mercy, how long has this been in here? I thought I got rid of this bitterness a long time ago, now it opened up and leaked all over the inside of my heart. How am I going to get that out? Now look, hello issues from being a teenager. Seriously, I thought I disposed of that mess a long time ago. That garbage even smudged a few of my relationships as an adult. I suppose I can get rid of that now. Oh, look, what are these numbers? Those are the codes for the buttons that I can still push with my mom and husband. I wonder if I’ll need those again? Nah, I think it should be fine if I tossed them, well, maybe I’ll keep them. Nasty, what is this? Nice, it’s pride. It’s all over the bottom of my heart. The problem is that every time I move it gets all over the stuff that is supposed to be there. I’m just going to have to take everything out and take it outside and shake it. There, that’s better. Now to put all of the things back that actually belong in there…let’s see, commitment to my husband in good times and in bad, for richer for poorer (come on richer!); check. Compassion for those who are hurting; temporarily misplaced…will check on that.. Unconditional love for my children even when they show out in front of company; check. Unyielding and unwavering faith in the One who holds the universe in place…where did I put that? Oh, that’s just little; it won’t take up much room at all. Good thing it only has to be the size of a mustard seed. That ought to feel better, oh, still a little heavy, but at least it’s clean.

I’m so thankful that God refuses to leave us as “good enough.” The truth of the matter is that we are not capable of cleaning our own hearts. Left to our own devices, we would self-destruct. In college we sang a song based on Psalm 24:4. Some of the lyrics were, “Give us clean hands, give us pure hearts, let us not lift our hands to another (or maybe we said idol). Oh God let us be a generation that seeks, seeks your face Oh God of Jacob.” That is my cry. That God would give me clean hands and that I would have the energy and ability to destroy the idols that I worship on a daily basis. A verse that a wise woman passed on just a few minutes ago brought me to tears, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10. I must ask for a clean heart. I cannot will for my heart to be clean. I can’t serve my little heart out in hopes that my heart will be cleansed from my iniquity. There is no amount of “rightness” that can outdo my “wrongness.” Even if there were I think I’d be exhausted trying to make up for all of the times I have fallen short. The fact that I was born a sinner doesn’t make things that much easier, either! Isaiah tells us that our most righteous acts are like filthy rags. Outside of Jesus I am sunk! That is the bottom line. So, I’m going to ask God to do what I find impossible. I’m going to ask Him to change my heart. He’s done it before. I do want Him to do it again. My heart may still be heavy, but at least it will be clean.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Cup of Rules

The Play-Doh Nazi

There is, in all of us, a desire to keep rules. Now, I know that we are all called by God to be law abiding citizens, but I’m talking about other rules. You know the ones I’m talking about, don’t break crayons, color the sky blue, don’t tear pages out of story coloring books, and so many more. There is one rule that is so dangerous, so enforced that we feel it absolutely necessary to pass it down to our children. Can you guess which one it is? Don’t mix the Play-Doh! AHHHH! The thought of pink in with orange is like nails on a chalkboard, isn’t it? How many times do we say, “If you want to play with green then we need to put the yellow away.” We are vigilant in using our fingers to pick up the little pieces that have crumbled to keep from rolling the brilliant blue into specks of fire engine red. Why is this? Who made up this rule and why do we all feel it necessary to keep it? My kids don’t always wear coats, sometimes their hair is wet outside, I let them play in dirt, but I do not, under any circumstances let them mix their Play-Doh. That is, until today.

Having a third child changes things. I am now always on the lookout for opportunities to play with my children alone. It doesn’t happen everyday, sometimes only one or two of them get me alone, but I do try. Today it was Julia’s turn. I know how much she loves Play-Doh and after we put it away last night I told her we would play it today. So, after lunch and when the 5th load of laundry was finally folded, I suggested that she join me to play with the Play-Doh. She was thrilled that I finally invited her into my life. We were having a super time rolling out our snakes and I looked away for a split second and BAM the colors were MIXED! I used my most calm voice and very gently said, “Oh no baby, we don’t mix the colors.” I broke her in that split second. Her head dropped, her hands fell lifeless to her sides and she slipped out of her chair and was heading far far away from me, the Play-Doh nazi. As soon as I realized what was happening I grabbed the Play-Doh and combined the pink and the blue and remarked at how beautiful the colors were once mixed. She lifted her head, climbed back on the chair and was ready to continue with our time together.

I almost forfeited some pretty great time over a rule that has no substance, no reason, and no place in a home full of children. Over the next few minutes my mind raced with how quickly my words effected my daughter and how drastic her response was. I began to think about all of the other rules that I could force on my children that would also break their spirits for no good reason. Do I make them talk to God a certain way? Do I lead them to believe that the way to get my love and affection is to make their bed and keep their shoes at the shoe station? Do I encourage them to dream in or outside of the box? How big is God to them? Huge, that’s what this experience was for me.

I want my children to obey laws as much as any other good, Christian parent. However, the rules that mean the most are not those that are passed down from generation to generation regarding shoes, and crayons and play-doh. No, the most important rules are those that were inscribed on stone meant to point us all to our ever increasing need for a Savior. Those are the rules I must insist that my children keep. So, it was independence day! I mixed the play-doh and it felt phenomenal. It was exhilarating to make a multi-colored snake with my daughter who wants to be with me. With any luck, and God’s wisdom, she’ll always want to be with me.

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:8-10

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I wrote this a couple of months ago, and I would like to share it in honor of Mother's Day. A gentle reminder to us all that the goal in motherhood is to point our children to their Heavenly Father. It's my hope that this would be the response my children have to me meeting with Jesus. Happy Mother's Day to you all. Thanks for checking in. I just reread this and feel like it's necessary to tell you that this is my HOPE! I do not get up and showered and meet with Jesus early every morning. I'm struggling to love my husband in a manner that pleases God and sometimes I am loud. The good news is that He is my hope, my light and my salvation. I pray that one day my children love Him, and that my humble attempt to bring them to the cross is honored by God. I just wanted to be clear...I'm in process! It does motivate me to get up!!!

I can still see her sitting there. The kitchen light was the only light other than God’s Word, that was open before her. I’d stumble out of bed in my little footie pajamas and her lap was the first place I’d go. She’d look up with an intense look, and then her face would soften as I walked toward her. She’d set her pen down and stretch out her arms to pull me to her. She was nice and warm, she smelled fresh from her shower and always her lotion. I remember watching her apply her lotion and noticing how soft she always was. No matter how angry, or how happy, she was always soft. She would move my hair from my face, kiss me in the perfect place on my cheek and ask me if I had good sleep. We’d sit for a while and then she’d either get me settled with breakfast or I would join my brother in the warmth of her covers for a little bit of what we called, “our shows.”

She would return to Him. I’m sure of it now, she longed for Him. It was so hard, I’m sure. Trying to teach us and train us according to the truths found in that Book, yet she did. She struggled, at best, somedays. There would be apologies, and tears, but always we’d pray. She would thank Him for me. She would thank Him for making me wonderfully and fearfully. She would ask that He would bless me and keep me and make His face shine on me. She would tell me that she loved me because I belonged to her, and that God loved us because we were adopted into His family by the forgiving and life-giving blood of Jesus Christ. She would sing and dance and always wanted to tell us stories. His stories. Stories of giants being slayed by heroes and terrible men who gave everything they had after God had changed their stone hearts into beating flesh. She got all of that from our little table, in our little house, from our great big God.

It’s how I knew I wanted a veil on my wedding day. She explained how Jesus lifted the veil that we might see Him in His glory. I wanted my unchurched friends that were attending my wedding to know who I loved first, only because He first loved me. I wanted them to know the grace and the glory of the Father of Heavenly lights. It’s how my brother knew He was called to serve abroad for some time. He told her when he was 5 years old that he didn’t love anything more than God, and that was true. He only knew Him, because she did, and she made sure that we did. It’s how my little sister knew to teach. She knew that without a doubt God had made her to tell others of the wonderful story that she had grown to love. It’s how we all knew to confess and ask for forgiveness when we’d done wrong. All from the time she spent getting to know Him. Talking to Him about us. It’s how she loved my Daddy so well. She knew that he was a gift from God and that she was to love Him in a manner that would honor the Giver of all good things. It’s how we all knew.

Her Bible was well worn. The date inside had almost worn away from the years, but we knew that January 16, 1997 was the day that He found her, the day she found her way to Him. She had marked and highlighted, loved that Bible because of the very Words of life that came forth from it. She passed those Words on to me, and here I sit, my light and my Light in my little house, at my little table with my great big God all because I saw her, sitting there.

Friday, May 9, 2008


This is another repeat, don't look too close, I'm in a hurry and you'll find errors. A good friend reminded me of this the other day, I started this day expecting. Enjoy.

“Criminy! That is so annoying, ‘Pregnant or Expectant Moms Only’” You know that feeling at Wal-Mart. You just have to run in to pick up a few things and you don’t want to park the next county over. So, you approach what you believe to be a vacant parking space that the Lord God Himself has reserved for you on such a day as this and BAM! Wrong song! It’s reserved. This happened to me yesterday and I just had to laugh. Of all times to have a reserved parking space, NOW is the time. I had no idea how easy I had it when the child was conveniently placed INSIDE my body, safe from bad drivers and runaway carts. Now my 3 children are on the OUTSIDE of my body and need me to click them in and out of their seats, hold two hands, one baby and a list and I no longer get to enjoy the “RESERVED” spots. I almost pulled into it!

But, then I remembered how I would feel walking from Timbuktu because my space was unavailable and then I catch a glimpse of the “expecting mother.” She has her hair braided like Pocahontas, her jeans are about a -2 and her shirt says, “I love boys”. Clearly, CLEARLY, this girl is not pregnant... yet. There she sits in my spot while I waddle up to the door weighing in at roughly 195 pounds (that’s NOT a joke) with two children on either side. All I need is some stinkin’ TUMS!!! So, I didn’t park there. But then I had another thought, “I’m a new and expectant mother.” Anson is only 4 and there are many days that I really feel very new at this, and expectant…Oh I’m expectant alright! I’m expecting that I’m going to walk into that store and they will be remodeling AGAIN! I’m expecting that they’ll be out of Cous Cous and the corn will be picked over and the plums will have fruit flies. I’m expecting that I’m going to buy an estimated 5 things that are not on my list and double stuffed Oreos will be one of the 5, for the 5th week in a row. (Why not just put it on the list?) I’m expecting that before I leave the store I will hear, “Mommy, look it’s Spiderman/Dora/Strawberry Shortcake/Batman etc.” at least once. I expect my children to touch each other even though I say not to. I’m expecting to save, and spend all at the Evans Super Wal-Mart. That’s what I’m expecting. So, I should have parked there. Which leads me to my next point. What else am I expecting?
Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning Oh Lord you hear my voice, in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” I’ve had a very hardened heart towards the Lord lately. I’ve said some pretty ugly things that weren’t true and only felt good for a moment. I’ve asked the Lord to do things and when He doesn’t do them immediately I assume that His arm is too short, which He clearly says to Moses, is not the case! What am I expecting from the Lord? Do I expect Him to satisfy me in the morning with His unfailing love? I would get up if I did. Do I expect Him to grant me wisdom in parenting girls (and a boy, but the girls are more difficult)? I would ask for it if I did. Do I expect Him to send justice? Do I expect Him to make Himself known to the nations? Do I expect Him to show me his glory? What do I expect? What am I anticipating? Today while I was saying I was sorry I realized that I must expect. I must watch for Him, I must listen for Him, I must believe His promises and expect them to encourage me. I must walk in faith and enjoy the journey. I must lay my requests before Him and wait. So, that’s where I am. I’m expecting again. Expecting Him to soften my heart and encourage my spirit, to sharpen me according to the power of His word and to love me because of Christ’s death and resurrection. So, my dear friends, are you a New and Expectant mother? I sure hope so. But, leave the space for the 195 pound pregnant people, they THINK they need it more! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Cup of Shake it, Don't Break it!

Alright ladies, here's what I've got. How many of you can only stink it up on the dance floor? How many of you are afraid to dance in your living room because you are afraid your children will catch the disease of "no rhythm"? Well, I feel your pain and I am here to tell you that the suffering needs to end! If I can shake it, so can you!!! I really do not love to exercise. However, Zumba is not's an experience!

Since I last tried (and sort of failed) Zumba, my friend started a Saturday class at a local dance studio. Saturday morning I roll out of bed, put my same shorts on, sniff the t-shirt I wore to bed or choose another t-shirt from the 438 t-shirts we own, eat a bowl of pink and cream (Strawberry Frosted Shredded Wheat),give kisses and by 9:00 I'm out the door for my 9:00 class. (I was born a month late and have been trying desperately to catch up ever since!)

There are so many things I love about Saturday Zumba. The women that come are just plain fun. My friend is a blast and she loves what she is doing. Mariann is a regular and she's in her sixties! I love staring at myself for a full hour...whatever...I just love having something that I do as "Ali." This week my mind was churning.

I am a little out of practice because spring has been sort of busy and I haven't been able to be as regular (in Zumba that is). The songs that I did know came back, but my feet were still a little slow at remembering. Sohailla (I hope she doesn't care that I use her name...Sohailla, do you care?)always tells us that the music will tell us what to do. Isn't that funny? After a while it really does! It says, "Move your hiney faster!!!" Seriously, you can hear the beat, you know what is coming, you look pretty hot! So, this day I was getting into my "Chico Snap" and we even did a little funk to Coolio. I was glad to be back.

About 30 minutes into class someone came in. She was very angry and just wanted to be someplace she came to Zumba. She goes a lot during the week and usually knows the songs and dances. Sohailla said, "This one isn't new, but everyone does it different, do you know it?" The woman smiled and said, "I don't know but I'll fake it if I don't!" We all laughed knowing that she just wanted to move...get some of that anxious energy out...but my mind flipped on.

"I'll just fake it." Ever been there? You can't figure out which end is up. The music is telling you to do one thing, but your feet are doing another. You don't want anyone to know that you have no idea what you are doing so you just fake it. You might fake it at church, in your neighborhood, your in-laws, your out-laws...whatever. I'm here to tell you that there is no good reason for fakers! God tells us that He has drawn us with loving-kindness. That tells me that if I don't have it all together I can walk in place to keep my heart-rate up. You pickin' up what I'm layin' down? There is no reason that we cannot look someone dead in the face and say, "I have no idea what to do. I'm lost. Show me the steps." That is a frustrating place to be. Keeping up appearances is exhausting and unnecessary. God tells us that we are precious in His sight, and honored and He loves us. (Isaiah 43) Are you in a tough spot? Did you have the rhythm and the music changed and now you are trying deperately to look like you know what you are doing? Stop. Just walk in place. Sohailla watches and will come stand beside us until we get it. What a waste to try to figure it out ourselves when God says in Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know." Try it, you'll find it to be true. There is no reason to fake it.

From time to time we'll get someone who actually speaks Spanish. This is fun because usually they'll interpret the song. Sometimes the lyrics really heat things up! This last week there was a new woman who could sing the songs, but wasn't great at the dances yet...she was new. She'll catch on fast, but they were a little different. I thought about those of us who can talk the talk. We know the verbage. We speak church-ese. We say things like, "Give it to God" or we use words like repent, confess, walk the aisle, PTL, justify, sanctify, minister...I could go on. Our mouths move, but we've got two left spiritual feet. I've been here lately. My heart was just sort of stubborn, selfish is the better word. I knew what I was supposed to say, but my feet were not following the dusty road to the cross. I was just singing...not much exercise there!

One day I was joking that I watch Sohailla, the instructor, and believe that I look just like her. Then I get a glimpse of myself and think, "Well, that wasn't sexy!" I thought of Paul who says, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." That is so powerful! We all follow Sohailla. She is fit, she is excited, and she can dance...she's been dancing for years. She goes to workshops, she is a dietician, she's passionate about health. I would have a hard time following someone who looked like me. I mean, I've come a long way, but I'm not in the front row. In fact, I'm the "or keep it here" girl when Sohailla adds a special something. She'll say, "you can turn here, salsa, jump"...then I say, "or keep it right here, ladies!" I'm not there. Who are you following? Are you following someone who says, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ?" Are you ready to dance?

I feel like I could go on and on. I could list scripture a mile long to support being real and honest with God. I could point out all of the places Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for being whitewashed tombs and I could share powerful stories of how lives have been changed because one person followed Christ and shared their life with others. If you need me to do that, I will. But, I think that we all have something to consider. Are you faking any area of your life? I am here to tell you that it's foolish and unnecessary. God knows you are lost, He's OK with it. Cry out to Him and He will answer. Are you singing? Do you know the words, but your feet aren't moving? You are missing out on the depth of an intimate relationship with Christ. Don't waste any more time. Tell God where you are and ask Him to move your feet where they can bring good news. Romans 10:15. Who are you following? Align yourself with someone who is seeking Christ with passion. Someone who lives a life worthy of the calling they have received. Don't be afraid to ask for guidance. Don't rob someone else of the beautiful opportunity that comes with being used by God. Don't be afraid to dance. Walking with God requires passion, it requires time, it requires help. Again, don't be afraid to dance...shake it, don't break it!

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Monday, May 5, 2008

Two Things

I just wanted to say that I accidentally erased a very sweet comment. Thank you for sharing that this has blessed you...your kind words blessed me. Thanks, Hadassah, for keeping up with are AMAZING! The second thing is just a funny thought that I had. I should tidy my house a bit more before I leave for the day so that I can easily tell, upon coming home, if I've been robbed. That thought made me laugh. The second part of Zumba is coming...stay tuned. I just wanted to say sorry about that comment, I didn't want you to think I had rejected it, thanks again. I am very surprised at how many people enjoy's a joy to be a part of what God is doing in you. Have a good night. I'll be back soon.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Cup of Zumba

Alright, for some of you this is an oldie, but I have a sequel so I want to remind you of how my relationship with Zumba started. So, it might sound familiar, maybe it'll make you laugh again. Check back in a few days for the follow-up. For those of you who have not read this...I hope you like it!

I finally went. After a really long day, I said I would go, and I needed to let my yes be yes. I put on my tennis shoes and extra sports bra, said my “I love you’s” and headed out the door. Of course I was late because that’s just me, but the Washington Road traffic didn’t help much. So, I pulled in and briskly walked (knowing I had already missed the warm-up) through the front door and headed toward the multi-purpose room. I’ve never been good at working out, but this sounded like a lot of fun. I could hear the Latin music as I made my way down the hall and just hoped to heaven there was someone else in there with two left feet. I gently pushed the door open for fear I would take someone out with my tardy entrance and made a little place for myself in the back of the class.

Welcome to Zumba (or Zoomba)! Zumba is a great way to get a lot of exercise in a more non-traditional manner. There are bonafide dance moves and you are encouraged to use your hips (for something other than a baby prop) and “make it sexy.” So here I am, in my old Stevens Creek t-shirt, black maternity shorts (that’s why I’m there in the first place…I’m not pregnant!) and old tennis shoes. Why would I tell you what I’m wearing? Well, because God uses goofy things to show me my heart. The lady in front of me who was NOT wearing maternity shorts looked great. Her shoes matched her shirt! How do people do that? She had on a cute teal shirt, sleeveless of course because she isn’t trying to hide arms that wave when her hand is NOT, black pants that said “Motherhood” nowhere on them, and then her little Nike shocks that were the same color as her shirt. Her hair had that “tussled” look, but it was totally fixed if you know what I mean. She was workin’ it! Of course I was behind her, giggling at myself.

Maybe if I looked like her I would want to exercise. Maybe I need new shoes. How is it that we revert to sixth grade gym class in these instances? At one part the song says, in Spanish, “Who can dance?” and then the response is, “We can dance!” Well, to me that was just plain funny. I couldn’t dance. No, I can’t dance. Everyone else was making it sexy and I was flailing my arms like I was in the middle of the ocean trying to flag down the coast guard! So, I jumped around, got my heart rate up and left early so Mike could make his basketball game. As I walked out I certainly felt better, nothing makes you feel better than a bit of Latin dancing, but I immediately thought about why I went. I was asked.

My friend, who happened to be the instructor, loves this class and wanted me to share in her joy. I thought about how many times I’ve invited people to things simply because I have enjoyed it and wanted them to share in my joy. We’ve all gone to something because someone has asked, it’s the way we are. We also need that accountability. I knew Sohailla would be looking for me, I told her that I’d be there. I didn’t want to stand her up. She’s a wonderful friend to me.

The CD that was playing in the car was on discipleship and so my mind wandered to all of the times someone has asked me about my time in the Word or even asked if we could study together. I’ve thought about the Bible studies I’ve attended because I said I would, and how amazing I felt afterwards. I then thought about Miss Cutie Exerciser, how many times do I make a plan using stuff? I spent $80 bucks having my favorite Bible rebound because then I’d read it more often. (Like getting new shoes to exercise) I’ve designated the perfect place with the cool “Biblezine” because that will trick me into thinking I’m reading a magazine instead of the Bible. (Buying new clothes to look great while I flail.) We all have our little methods to make ourselves exercise spiritually, but the bottom line is that we need someone to ask. Nothing encourages us to actually meet with our maker more than knowing someone is going to ask. I wish I did it out of need (although with three kids I’m getting there), or desire, but I need the accountability, I need someone to ask me to dance.

So, today I spent time memorizing my scripture because Mike has more of it memorized than me. Now I’m asking you, my friends, if we can’t band together and ask each other the hard questions. Ask me to dance even when the day has been long and my body is weary. Ask me to dance when my shoes are worn out and I don’t see the need. Ask me to dance because I need the exercise, and so do you. We cannot and will not defeat the enemy if we do not pull together, cute outfit or not, and exercise our spirits. So, I’m asking you, and you ask me…shall we dance?

P.S. Don’t forget to make it sexy!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Jesus is faster than that...

"Wow, that car is really fast isn't it, Mom?"
"It sure is, baby. I wonder where they are going in such a hurry?" We were on our way home from Waffle House, I know, I only feed my kids the finest! In any event, we were on our way home and the car next to us was trying to take my Caravan on! I totally let him win because it's not Christian-like to show off (I just laughed out that LOL? I did it again...). So, this is the sweet conversation that ensued.
"He's not as fast as Jesus." states Miss Julia.
"No? You think Jesus is fast?"
"Yup." She's convinced that it's Jesus that is faster than a speeding bullet...and that Explorer.
"Well, sometimes he's fast." I said, thinking of all of the prayers that Jesus had answered immediately. Like my desire to be a mother and then all of the prayers I prayed because I was a mother. Those little prayers like, "Jesus, please don't let them fall out of the grocery cart like the Wal-Mart greeter said they would." or, "Jesus, please let them stay dry while they are sitting on my friend's new sofa." "Jesus, please give me wisdom in abundance as I lead my children today." You get the picture, you know the prayers.

Then my little Julia said, "Sometimes He's slow." She picked up on my tone I suppose. "Yeah," I smiled, "sometimes He's slow." I thought of the other prayers. The prayers of healing when my baby Julia was on IV antibiotics for 4 weeks and then another 2 weeks of making sure she had it every 8 hours. I don't remember breathing during that time. Then there was the time we spent waiting on my husband to get a job that he loved. Or the prayers when we were waiting on the money (usually $600.00) to make it through the month. You know how they go, "Lord, I need you to move soon. I'm running low on what it takes to trust you. Please give me grace to wait." Then sometimes they are a little more honest, "Hello!!! God, I know you have alot going on, but COME ON!!!"

There was a voice from the back that had been taking all of this in, "And sometimes it's like He's not moving at all." I almost cried. Isn't that the truth. Sometimes it's like He's not moving at all. That is the hardest isn't it?

I have experienced God in some beautiful places. I had the privilege of leading women to Lord while in Africa. I stood in awe under the night sky of the Kalahari Desert. I've watched lives be restored by the power of the Gospel, mine included. Yet there are times when our prayers seem to be more like boomerangs than kites. They seem to come right back at us rather than rising above our circumstances and falling on the ears of the Almighty.

So, what do we do? A woman in my Bible Study puts it beautifully. She says you've got to dig your heals in and have stubborn faith. I suppose that's the kind of faith that says, "I will not be moved! The Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26. It's the kind of faith that is not easily persuaded. It's the kind that shouts out that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) It's faith that chooses to believe that even when it feels that the Good Shepherd has left us to fend for ourselves, we will wait to be comforted again by His staff and His rod. It's real faith.

I struggle, I have to be honest, but that conversation refreshed me. He's fast, He's slow, He's still...but He is still my God. He is still in control of the universe. He is still in the business of redemption. He is still worthy of all my praise. Even when He is still. Perhaps when He is still, I should be also, in order to know that He is God. Wherever this finds you, I pray that you will praise Him anyway. If you don't think you can, meditate on the cross. Meditate on the beauty that is found when perfection lays down it's life so that the relationship between God and man can be restored. It's hard, but it's possible. "All things are possible for him who believes. I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief." Mark 9:24...until next time!