Friday, August 22, 2008

Friendship Bread

Have you ever received a bag of goo that you need to nurture until it becomes bread? I have, and 4 of you will in the very near future! My friend dropped in for something that I cannot remember and dropped off my little batch of Amish Friendship Bread. She did alot of the work. In fact, we were already on day six when she gave it to me. She did a good bit of the work for me and even included the pudding. I have to be honest, I knew I wanted it, and I knew it would be yummy...but it had to sit on my counter! I'm trying really hard to keep my counters/house it was just something like, "Oh, yeah, the bread, that stays there." Well, today was the day to bake it. So, after dinner Julia, Ella and I headed into the kitchen to get this bread off of the counter and into the oven (and then into our bellies). While were were getting it together I started thinking about friendship in general and how it also needs to be nurtured. I wanted to hug some of my best friends...this is the best I can do.

You see, each day I had directions for what I was supposed to do with this bread. Squeeze it, add some stuff to it (Kelli did that for me) leave it on the counter, let the air out. Sort of take care of this mush so that I could enjoy the bread. There would be a reward.

I have some sweet, sweet friends. I think of my "teacher" friends all the time. I wish they could see me now. I'm not as scattered and I am a little more structured...they would be proud. I think about my college friends who watched me lay down some serious loves of my life. They watched me struggle with all His energy as I worked out my salvation with fear and trembling (and continue to work it out). I have High School friends who were my company for some pretty crazy times, that make for fun stories now, "GIRLS, IT'S TIME!!!" I have some friends that were patient with me as I warmed up to being a new wife and making new friends. I have some friends that were with me as I was a new mom in a new place. They assured me that everything would turn out alright and they confirmed that my son is, indeed, a genius. I've wept with my friends as they shared their deepest regrets, I've celebrated while they have overcome some intense obstacles and fears. I've watched marriages be reborn, and I've seen them disintegrate. I've welcomed new babies, mourned babies we never kissed, and hoped with some friends that they would be called, one day, "Mom." I have some incredible friends. I wish I could call them all by name. I wish that when my bread comes out of the oven I could cut up a piece for everyone of you and we could laugh and cry...we'd wear pajama bottoms and go back for seconds since we were wearing elastic!

I want to work at my friendships. I want to squeeze them, and add to them, and share them with others. I want to enjoy the reward of a friendship that is not only maintained, but is enjoyed and cultivated. I started to list some of my friends and what we would talk about, then I stopped. There is no way I could acknowledge all of the fabulous women who have contributed to me.

I wish you could smell my house. It's warm, and sweet...just like friendship. I'm not sure how to end this...I guess it would be appropriate to not end it, like so many of my's just not over...

"A friend loves at all time." Proverbs 17:17

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mom, Close Your Eyes

My house is really not that big. In fact, it's getting smaller by the minute. So, I can see most of it from my bedroom. I can actually see the front door from inside my shower. There are not a lot of surprises, except when the children are trying to surprise us. We get what every other parent gets, "Come see what I did...close your eyes." This means it's going to be good. It's either a ridiculous mess, a semi-clean mess, something that requires the Magic Eraser, or something that you will say, um, something like, "Guys, I know that you were trying to surprise Mommy, but we don't paint on the walls unless you have Mommy's permission." It could go like that, or sometimes it is a good surprise. Today it was a reminder.

I was finishing up reading an e-mail and the kids found me (they do that alot!). "Mom, come here, you gotta come see this." So of course I finished what I was doing and allowed Julia to take me by the hand to lead me. Naturally she said, "You have to close your eyes. Don't look at all, O.K. Mommy? Don't look." Then my daughter that I have trusted with my eyes closed, let's go and tells me to continue following! Why do I have to have my eyes closed if you aren't going to lead me???

Immediately a hymn that we sang last night came to mind,
"He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By His own hand He leadeth me." That was a quick picture of the reality of that line. Sometimes it is blind faith, but our hands are still tucked inside the hand that fashioned the universe and created us in our mother's womb. It was a picture to me of how God says, "Come on, you are going to love this." Don't you feel like that? Like you just close your eyes and follow? Only, the hand can be trusted. My children will lead me into walls, I will trip over shoes, I could break something or someone if I don't keep one eye open when they aren't looking. This wonderful passage in Isaiah comes to mind, it's very familiar, as it should be, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10, or this one (I always have to sing it because that is how I memorized it) "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." Isaiah 43:2-3a That is some GREAT news!!!

God is not my 3 year old trying to surprise me with how clean her room is, or how big the fort is, or how messy her sister is. God is God and He is trying to show me how big He is, how massive His power is, and how deeply in love with me He is. So, I'll take his hand, I'll close my eyes and I will walk in confidence. Not because of what I know, but because of who I know, and I know that He is leading me.

Are you scared? Think He's leading you someplace and you aren't sure where? You can trust Him. The wind and the waves obey Him. He spoke the universe into exsistence. I'm sure He will hold you tight. Close your's gonna be good.

Does anyone know who this person is???
She is such a kind, kind woman. She and her daughter co-authored the Well Trained Mind. That's right...this a picture of me with Kelli and Mrs. Jessi Wise! I wrote about her a couple of weeks ago. Some of you, this won't mean anything...some of you...that's right, THE Jessi Wise. She was everything you would expect. She was kind, wise, humble, helpful, and we thought it was just awesome that she would pose for a picture. If any of you are kicking the homeschool tires, her book is really a great place to start. Alright, I'm off to write something for everyone...

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I was lost...

Two good slams and my feet were pounding the pavement. There is no need to go into detail, but I was so mad I could barely see straight. I wasn't sure what else to do. I suppose I just hit my limit, or didn't get enough sleep, or wasn't walking in the spirit. Whatever you want to call it, now I was walking up the road with no place to go.

I thought, "I don't have my keys or money...where am I going to go to cool off?" What I really wanted to do was sit under a tree and cry until Jesus came to get me. I spoke with God a little bit, but I think I was a little mad at Him, or too embarassed to speak honestly, even if He is the lover of my soul. As I reached the top of the hill, I started to feel a bit better, but still didn't want to turn back. I turned the corner and thank goodness, Hazel was on her porch.

I met Miss Hazel close to two years ago. She is in her late 70's and has lived in that house for the majority of those years. I think close to 50. It's one of my favorite houses on the block. Her husband's grandfather built it, or bought it...and they paid a ridiculous sum of money for it. Although it may not have been ridiculous at the time. I love visiting with Hazel. The kids run around her yard and she smiles and talks about her kids, or her grandkids, we just chat. She always calls me "honey" and asks me to stay. Whenever I leave she says, "Don't be so long next time." She has a beautiful southern draw that I could listen to all day.

"What did you do when you were so mad you couldn't see straight?" I yelled from the street. She didn't quite hear me, so as I got closer I repeated myself. A smile spread across her face and she said, "Come sit down, honey, watch the water I just watered my flowers." I started on my tirade on how all I wanted was for Julia to put on her cover-up so we could go swimming. All I want is a little respect. All I want is for Mike to speak up BEFORE I make the decision...when I ask for his opinion. All I wanted was to sleep in. Me. Me. Me...that's all I wanted. She went in and got a book that she just started reading and read the cover to me. It was lovely, The Savior Next Door by Max Lucado. I just looked at her and said, "This is just so hard." She replied with such a sweet sympathy, "I know it is, honey, I'm crying with you." Seriously, this is hard stuff. I must say "Please Forgive Me" 10 times a day, and that's not saying it everytime I SHOULD!

I ranted and laughed and cried. Hazel listened, and shared, and encouraged. She shared some of her "war stories" and she shared how she has ministered to her neighbor in the Name of Jesus. She shared with me some things about her husband who has been gone for at least 25-30 years. She reminded me that my children are not going to be perfect...EVER. She said that they will respect me, but that they are going to make mistakes. I know that, but I did need to hear that.

After we had chatted for probably 30-40 minutes my family found me. I smiled as I saw Mike pushing our three kids around the corner to Hazel's. She said, "You are trying so hard. You have a beautiful family." I was full of pride as I looked at the 4 people that I share my life with. There they were looking for me. I screamed, slammed the doors, didn't tell Mike where I was going...or why...and there they were, coming to find me.

"Mommy we were looking for you!" Julia said with her sweet little voice. (Not the voice that she used just 40 minutes earlier) "Well, Hazel, it looks like I've been found." She looked at me and laughed and said, "Well, Praise God for that."

I agree. Praise God that I was lost, and then was found. The prodigal heading home. I looked at Julia and asked for forgiveness. Of course it was granted, apologized to Mike for leaving the way I did, and we walked on home. My home is a place of grace. I know that because today the grace that was extended was extended to me. It sure is good to be home.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Wooed by New

The final day of VBS, my van got bumped in the parking lot. It was a friend, and we said we'd check into getting it fixed. Well, Mike spoke to her husband and we went ahead and took it in today to see what would be required. So, I ended up with a 2008 Dodge Caravan while mine is in the shop. Now, I must mention that our van is a 1999. It doesn't do much more than drive. The lights turn on and off, the doors open when WE open them. There is no space in the floor to put whatever you would store there, there isn't a deep trunk. We did have a TV/VCR/DVD player installed when we were both working, but other than that, it drives. It's nice, don't get me wrong, but it's a '99. I should mention that we own that van. It's ours, no payments.

Our appointment was today, so I packed a few snacks (forgetting we might be in a new car) and left. I gave the kids my little talk before we got out of the van, "Alright guys, now we're gonna go in there and you are going to sit quietly. I need you to not speak to me because I don't know what I'm doing and I need to be able to think." They did awesome. So, we did all the stuff that we needed to do, and they pulled the rental van around. It's a 2008 Dodge Grand Caravan with Sto-and Go capabilities. I didn't get the van that opened on it's own, which is great because that is one feature I do not need to get used to! I loaded our nasty old car seats, buckled everyone up, and off we went to play at a friend's house. I actually felt bad putting our carseats in there because they have so many crumbs and yuck in them that it fell out a little bit on the floor while I was loading them, which prompted this question, "How clean does this have to be when I bring it back?" In any event, I was wooed. It smelled new, it looked new, it had to be better than my old van. That's when this little post started to evolve.

As I was driving down the road I thought, "It would be nice to drive a brand new van." The air is blowing ice-cold, the steering wheel isn't dirty and covered with I don't want to know what! The carpet doesn't have ground up food in it, or gum, or silly putty (whatever... I know I shouldn't let them play with it in the car...but they were so QUIET!!!) It's new. I love new. I love new shoes, I love new shirts, (I don't love new pants because I have a "problem area") I love, love, LOVE new school supplies. New friends, new furniture, gosh...I just like new. I know that I am not alone on this. I am easily wooed by new.

I started to think of why I like new and the answer is because old gets old. We fall out of love with our things as soon as they start showing their age. I bought 3 shirts last year from one of my favorite stores, they are fine shirts this year, but I don't love them like I did last year! I want NEW ones. I have a fabulous pair of leather flip flops that I bought last year, again, still love them, but not as much. Our appetite for more and more new is enormous and is not easily satisfied. As I thought about why I don't just go and buy a ridiculous amount of new I remembered it's because of our budget, our commitment to being a one income family, and the drawer that is already packed super tight with shirts that are just fine! I don't need anything. This verse came to mind...

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14

I want to be so satisfied in the knowledge of God and who He is, that I do not even notice when my things age. I want Him to satisfy me so that I don't have to have more new stuff in order to feel excited about something. A few other verses I found, that I loved, are as follows:

"You open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." Psalm 145:16

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance." Isaiah 55:2 NAS

"And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones, and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail." Isaiah 58:11 NAS

The last verse is a promise of what God will do if His people will fast and repent. I love that picture. That God will satisfy us in scorched places. I live in a VERY hot place. Our grass is rather dead, and we have to stay inside to be careful of heat related illnesses. I just picture someone absolutely thriving in this sort of spiritual climate because of the LORD. That our bones would be given strength. What a promise! That beats automatic doors hands down! I know that crisis hits, it has hit us this year, and I know that it has hit some of you as well. God's word says that even in the most ridiculous times...the scorched places, He will satisfy our desires. That is life to me.

Now, before you go believing that God is against new things, hear this...God is against us using new things to satisfy our weary bones. He is against new things becoming our source of satisfaction and delight. That is His role to fill in our lives. He is the giver of all good things, but the one thing that He will not give is His glory to another. So, don't take your van back just yet for a hoopty. Step back and evaluate, where is my satisfaction?

My satisfaction isn't always in the glory of God. Sometimes it's in new things, sometimes it's in weird things...this blog, my's not always in Christ. Oh that it would be one day. One of my favorite hymns is Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing and this particular verse has always spoken to me.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above

I love the idea that He would bind my heart to Him. So, we're not buying a new car. I'm satisfied, but not in my car. Not today anyway! So, spend some time in His being satisfied. I hope that was a nice cup of water for was for me!