Saturday, March 31, 2012

Truce Day

I've had this feeling that the kids and I might possibly be suffering from a form of cabin fever.  We get out almost every day (in fact, I'm thankful for the odd day that we don't have to rush off), but there's been a lot of "nose to the grindstone", we're with each other all day every day, and it's been a terrible winter in terms of opportunity for outdoor fun.  Wikipedia says the symptoms of cabin fever include "restlessness, irritability, paranoia, irrational frustration with everyday objects, forgetfulness, laughter, excessive sleeping, distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail."  

"Irrational frustration with everyday objects" rang true!  Not entirely funny as this irrational frustration might have been wearing on the hearts of my kids.  Okay, we could argue that the frustration is entirely rational when a mother's told her children the same bedtime routine for nine years and said child needs to be reminded yet again...  Whatever the case, I've noticed our hearts have been showing signs of wear and tear.

I declared Friday a fun day.  I (privately) vowed not to nag one bit.  No hurrying, no mention of mud or mess, no comment on the number of times they've been told the same thing.  Training mannerly citizens calls for those things, but Friday was going to be a truce of sorts. 

On our way to the pool I realized with a twinge of disappointment that I hadn't opened my verse of the day from the love box.  

I sat by the pool and read some encouragement for moms and homeschoolers.  I breathed a sigh of grateful prayer.

At one point, I thought of hurrying the kids so I'd have time to blog.  Nope.  Vow.  Love was the rule of the day.  Kids before writing.

We had fun all day.  We lingered and laughed, licked ice cream.  It felt good.

I got home just in time to head out again for some girl time with good friends.  Crazy, I know!  Can you have that much fun in one day?  Could I survive a day without crossing anything off the list?  A day wherein the list might grow due to neglect?  

At 11:30 p.m., waaaaay past my bed time, far too late to blog, I peeked at Week 1, Day 6:

I am growing and becoming strong in spirit,
filled with wisdom;
and the grace of God is upon me.

I chuckled in a slightly choked up way.  I felt like my Papa was smiling as He spoke words of affirmation.  Good job, girl, in making love a priority over the list.  Thanks for setting aside your goals to cherish the hearts of my little ones.

He grants wisdom, just because...because He loves.  He knows our needs.  He cares about the details of our lives.  He gives us grace and we pass it on.  How I love grace...they way it infuses our lives, reconnects our undeserving hearts, and revives.  

We love because He first loved us.

Luke 2:40
This post is part of a series Love in a Box

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Overcome with Joy

This morning I unfolded the little scrap "Week 1, Day 5" with anticipation...

I am overcome with joy because of God's unfailing love, 
for He has seen my troubles, 
and He cares about the anguish of my soul.

I contemplated the words as I watched the morning sunshine seep across the valley.  I savoured them as the clouds shimmered from magenta, to pink, and finally white.

I know what it is to be overcome with joy because of God's unfailing love...  I have felt His care in times of anguish.  I know He sees my troubles.  Should I just wait to be randomly overcome with joy today?

Funny thing is that as I remembered occasions when He rescued and comforted me in times of anguish, I felt overcome with joy all over again!  Therein lies a key to joy...  The remembering.  Reminding yourself of what He has done in the past.  Inspiring faith and hope for what He will do.

Some days joy comes to us as a gift.  Some days we find it in the remembering of His unfailing love.

Psalm 31:7
This post is part of a series Love in a Box

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


"He spoke to them saying, take courage!  I AM!  Stop being afraid!"  So said the little paper for Week 1, Day 4.

Stop being afraid.  Good words first thing in the morning when someone is already disobeying.  Fear.  Yep, that's what makes me want to react with control and anger.  Stop being afraid, take courage, because I AM is with you.

Waaaaay back, a long time ago, Moses asked God about His name.  God told Moses to tell the people that I AM is His eternal name.  I always wonder if Moses had been hoping for something more specific.


It's mysterious, enigmatic, awe-inspiring.

There are seventeen names for God in the Old Testament and well over 100 other words are used to describe Him, but this is the one He chose to describe Himself.

I AM.  It encapsulates all that He is.  He is now.  My mind scurries to the future far too often.  He'll be there when I get there and that is enough.  Right now is the moment I am in and He is too.  Whatever I need in this moment, He is.

I needed courage and wisdom to deal with the disobedient child.  I AM.  With me, then and there, in that moment.

I needed humour and joy to carry us through the last hour of school.  I AM.

I needed courage and peace to put my daughter on the bus for the overnight ski trip.  I AM.  With me and with her.

I needed a provider when I looked at the stack of bills.  I AM.

The list is endless, but He is constant.  I AM.

It was good to be aware all through the day that He is, was, and will be all that I need.  I AM.

I am the Alpha and the Omega--
the Beginning and the End.
To all who are thirsty
 I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.

Revelation 21:6

Matthew 14:27
Exodus 3:14-15
This post is part of the series Love in a Box

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I found myself looking forward to opening the little fold of paper for today that will light a spark in my heart.  I'm confident that each one is by Design.  The day becomes a treasure hunt...seeking the moment for which this message was chosen.

Today, "Week 1, Day 3" said:  As I wait on the Lord, with good courage, He shall strengthen my heart.

No fireworks went off as I unfolded this little missive.  Words familiar to my head, but I wanted them to move my heart.  The paper remained on the counter to bring awareness all through the day.  It got pushed around and splattered, almost lost among the detritus of the day's productivity.  I was reminded when I wiped and wiped and wiped again.

Wait on the Lord.  The very word "wait" in the original language means "look eagerly for, hope, expect".  There was no doubt that a moment would come in which my heart would need strengthening.

School went extraordinarily well this morning.  Math was accomplished with good attitudes before 9 a.m.!  (A record, I'm sure.)  I wiped lunchtime crumbs around the scrap of paper and thought it would be lovely to have a day wherein such a promise wasn't desperately required. 

Oh, but it came.  Four-thirty p.m. is my nemesis!  

Hardly matters how short the night, seven a.m. is a beautiful time of day to me.  I'm fresh!  I'm alive!  I'm a firecracker!  Bring. It. On.  But late afternoon...oh, how I loathe thee!  It's like someone has poured concrete in the space belonging to my brain.  Kids get rambunctious.  I need to think of what to make for supper (again).  Listen with my whole heart to the one who's been gone to school all day. I just want to lie down and close my eyes for twenty minutes.  I've heard that this is how some feel at 7 a.m. which has made me a little more compassionate for those who do not share my morning joy.

He shall strengthen my heart.  Except at 5 p.m.?  

Funny how much more readily I believe my feelings than the Promise.  Was I "looking eagerly for, hoping or expecting"?  Nope.  The habit of my soul has taught me to clench my teeth and deal with it.  

Shuffling aside the paper scrap as I assembled supper ingredients, I took a deep breath and stopped to "expect" strength.  This involved stopping the brain track that was shrieking, "I wish...."  

Strength seeped into my soul.  Not a tidal wave, but a quiet.  Grace for the moment.

The promise is real.

This post is part of a series Love in a Box.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Soft Answers

I'm not gonna lie.  I laughed out loud when I opened "Week 1, Day 2."

I speak soft answers
that turn away wrath,
not grievous words that stir up anger.

Much like I laughed on Friday when I mentioned that my throat was sore and my son immediately responded, "Well, it's not my fault you've been yelling at me so much!"

Definitely not your fault, Buddy, but you might have had something to do with it!  And "so much" is an exaggeration.

Clearly, I haven't been my usual calm and serene self of late.  (Cough, choke!)

I thought I was a really patient person before I had kids.  I've found this to be a common theme among parents.  Nothing can put patience to the test quite like Junior.  

Most often I find that my anger comes from the sense of not being in control.  The thing that makes it tricky is that most of what I want to control is really good stuff:  Being on time.  Finishing school in a reasonable amount of time.  No fighting.  Keeping mud on the doormat.  Getting the kids in bed before the evening is all gone.  It's not like I want to control the universe.  Okay, I do want to control my universe.  Is that such a bad thing?

"Let love be your highest goal!"

So there you have it.  My motives are out of whack.  When I'm angry love is not my highest goal.  All these things are worth aiming for but without love as the driving force, they're lacking.  I like the way the Amplified Bible renders this as "God's love in us."  I sure don't have it and can't always conjure it up on my own.  Love is the fruit of His Spirit working in us.  

Once again, I'm helpless, leaning into Him to receive all that I I can give what I do not have.

I have to say that starting the day aware of the need for love as a goal made us alert to the "grievous words" that have been stirring up anger.  Thanks, little one, for the reminder.

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters:  
You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to get angry.  
Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.  

Not in me.  Not in my kids.

Proverbs 15:1; 1 Corinthians 14:1; James 1:19-20

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Love in a Box

You're in for a treat.  Actually, I'm in for a treat and I'm going to share it with you.

When my children act like they sometimes do, I like to say, "They get that from their father!"  (It's shocking how unsupportive my friends are of my theories.)  Sometimes the kids behave in ways that I secretly hope they got from me.  Sometimes I know they get it from me and I sigh.  And pray for grace.

However, there are times when I know what I see comes from the seed of heaven that's been planted in their hearts.  I can't take credit, I can only offer thanks.  Humbly.

This most recent week hasn't been one that I'd brag about as a stellar example of fine parenting.  Perhaps the children haven't exactly been stellar either, but...

This afternoon I went out for a couple of hours.  While I was gone my hubby rallied the kids.  I came home to a clean house and love in a box on my desk.  It's labelled Mom's Verse Box.  Grace.  I haven't been the best mom I can be this week.  My little one forgives and gives me love in a box.

I was allowed to open the paper for "Week 1, Day 1."

I am strong, courageous, and firm;
I fear not and am not in terror,
for it is the Lord my God who goes with me;
He will not fail me or forsake me.

I've been feeling more weary than strong and courageous.  

I say it out loud and breathe in strength.  I fear not for it is the Lord my God who goes with me; He will not fail me or forsake me.

I think I might be okay even without a week on the beach.    

No matter what this week holds.  I will not be afraid!  Dread does not belong to me.  He won't fail me or forsake me.

I am strong and courageous and firm.

Looking forward to Week 1, Day 2.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Keepin' On

I had only one nerve left and he got on it.  There was simply nothing left to give.  Not one ounce of sweet, motherly patience.  Zip.  Nada.

There's no end in sight.  When, if ever, will he say, "Sure, Mom!  No problem.  I'll get right on that."

I've polled numerous moms with really fine grown children.  They have a lot of grey hair, but they kind of chuckle about "those days."  They tell me he might say something like that.  Might.  Someday.  Probably not any time soon.

So I just feel tired.  I try to remember the last time I took my vitamin D.  I wonder when the sun is going to shine again.

I'm pretty sure the only cure is a child-free week on a hot beach.

Except that's not an option.

Some things just require faithfulness.  Full-of-faith-ness. The day-in-and-day-out doing of the right thing.

Faith that in due season we will reap a good harvest, if we don't give up.

Faith that spring will come.

Faith that boundary-testing sons will grow into strong men.

Faith that the unsung routines don't go unnoticed by the One who has entrusted us with the task.  He promises a "crown of life" for those who are faithful to the end.  I have no idea precisely what a crown of life is, but I'm pretty sure I'd like it.

The very good news is that even when we are not faithful, He is.  So He pours His grace into my empty, rock-bottom, end-of-my rope soul, and puts me back on my feet again.  Not exactly kicking up my heels, but chin up and one foot in front of the other.

I'm going to make supper now.  Again.

I'm blessing you today in whatever faith-filled task you're on.

So let's not get tired of doing what is good.
At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing 
if we don't give up.

Galatians 6:9

*Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 2:13

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hunting Despots

It's the Ides of March and I find myself pondering why we annually remark on the death of an ancient Caesar?  Aside from the fact that it just has a nice ring.  As do the immortalized words of said dead Caesar, "Et tu, Brute?"

Poor old Julius Caesar got too high an opinion of himself and started demanding the sort of respect generally afforded to deities.  This didn't go over well with his more democratically-minded subjects so they, uh, "removed" him from the throne.

The death of another Man 2000 years ago has profoundly influenced my life, but this Caesar?  It's fascinating history.  I've decided the best way to observe the day is to hunt down other despots.

Don't worry, the sword in my hand is metaphorical.  I'm after those things that try to steal the throne of my heart.  Unfortunately, I've discovered that most of the strongmen have titles starting with the pronoun "my," such as My Agenda, My Opinion, My Money...  You get the idea.

The greatest tyrant contending for the throne may well be My Reputation.  The lord of My Reputation would like to ensure that everyone thinks and says nice things about me all the time.  I would like you to think I'm an Amazing Mother, but inevitably my son will belch at just the wrong moment or a full-blown battle will ensue in the pew during the closing hymn.  I'd love for you to think I'm a Pillar in the Community because I can volunteer for your personal pet project, but I find I'm already committed to more than I can juggle gracefully.  I'd like you to think I'm a Spiritual Giant with all the answers to life's big questions, but I find myself without a lot of answers, yet with a confidence that I can trust the One who has carried me through more than I could possibly manage on my own.

He is the One I want sitting on my Heart-Throne.  All these other masters are demanding, unforgiving, and capricious.  The King I seek is full of grace.  He embraces and strengthens me in times of weakness and wondering.  His eyes are full of love.

Down with all other lords!

Who may climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols...
They will receive the Lord's blessing 
and have a right relationship with God their savior.
Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

Open up, ancient gates!
Open up ancient doors and let the King of glory enter.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty; the Lord, invincible in battle.
Open up, ancient gates!
Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter.

Who is the King of glory?
The Lord of Heaven's Armies--he is the King of glory.

Psalm 24:3-10 NLT

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guardian of My Soul

"...the Guardian of your souls."

The phrase floated through my mind off and on all day yesterday.  The flavour of the words satisfied me.  Finally, I stopped to track them down...somewhere toward the end of the New Testament...found them at the end of 1 Peter 2.

"Once you were like sheep who wandered away.  But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls."

I love the sheep/Shepherd analogies.  Sheep aren't so smart, prone to wandering, in need of much care.  Sheep and I have a lot in common.  Shepherds keep sheep safe, nurture, provide, seek them when lost.  He's all that and the Guardian of my soul?  Sounds good, but does "soul" mean soul or was it just the best English word translators could find? I was hoping, but I needed to know for sure.

Happiness!  The Greek word means "the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions."  This is good news for me as I tend to experience life in technicolor.  My feelings, desires, affections, aversions...they need guarding.

He's obviously not the kind of guardian that has me under lock and key...but He is Shepherding me, caring for me, watching over me.  When my emotions get all in a tangle and I can't figure out why I'm suddenly feeling the way I am, He knows.  I just need to lean into Him and listen.  

So many things sneak up, creep in, creep out...  Hours later I find myself reacting to something completely unrelated to the undetected trigger.  I find myself wondering, "What on earth??"  The Guardian of my soul knows.  This is good news for my husband and kids who are most often the recipients of my stray emotions.

And those "desires, affections and aversions."  They need guarding.  Big time.  My soul often wants things that aren't good for it.  Seeks comfort in the wrong places.  Loves or doesn't love according to agendas that are not holy.

I love this Shepherd who watches over my soul.

How kind the Lord is!
How good he is!
So merciful, this God of ours!

Let my soul be at rest again,
for the Lord has been good to me.
He has saved me from death,
my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
And so I walk in the Lord's presence as I live here on earth!

Psalm 116:5, 7-9

Friday, March 9, 2012

Do Not Be Afraid

Tangy apple frozen yoghurt tingled my tongue.  She added disgusting gummy worms to hers and told me who was doing and saying what at school.  I got the low down on what's really going on in town.  We moseyed on to the mall and looked at clothes--laughed at the ugly ones, bought some cute ones.  I said one thing, she thought I said another...unspeakable thing...and we laughed.  For a long time, we laughed and laughed.

I almost held my breath for the wonder of it.

When she was a toddler I cried and wondered if she'd hate me when she became a teenager...

She might if not for grace.

Her two-year-old temper sometimes terrified me.  I was afraid it was a sign I was a bad mother.  I was even more afraid that others would think it was a sign I was a bad mother.  This dangerous cocktail actually did make me a horrible mother some days.  I tried to control her.  Control is a love killer.  Especially is in a strong-willed, vibrant heart.

I loved her sparkling spirit as much as I was afraid of her temper!  I loved exploring and learning with her.  Seeing the world through her eyes brought a whole new dimension to mine.

Once in a while I would think this was a kid to whom I should offer I would offer the pink or green?  Others I respected told me this was such a bad idea.  I was failing to teach her authority.  I was afraid they were right and I was wrong.   Fear.  Lurking everywhere.

I would go back to control.  We'd both end up crying and angry.  Very angry.

I was really afraid that she would hate me some day.  Sure she did hate me on those days.

I knew parenting wasn't a popularity contest, but I knew this wasn't working either!  So we flip-flopped back and forth.  Fun and fear.  Fear and fun.

Along the way I learned some things.  What my heart told me wasn't all wrong.  Control would breed hatred. Choices would bring out strength in a leader-heart.   Choices have consequences which breed empowerment.  Control was easier in the short term.  Consequence is a patient teacher.

My guinea pig child.  She has borne the brunt of my learning curve.  Some days she still makes me feel crazy, but not often.  Many days I suspect I make her feel even crazier--hopefully, not too often.

I try to figure out how to inspire her to clean her room.  She tries to figure out how to disagree respectfully.

Yet we laugh together.  We really love each other.  We like each other too.  I'm filled with wonder and worship.

This is a gift.  A gift made possible by grace.  Amazing grace.

For every time we've fumbled...or outright blown it horribly...there's forgiveness and grace.

There's a big Love at work in our hearts.

I cannot, must not, will not, let fear live in this beautiful place.

I treasure this sensitive and spirited girl.

For all the years yet to come, there's grace.

The Lord who made you and helps you says:
Do not be afraid...
For I will pour out water to quench your thirst...
And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants,
and my blessing on your children.
They will thrive like watered grass,
like willows on a riverbank.

Isaiah 44:2-4

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


His arms all but strangle me in their fierce grasp.  His tears and sweat smear my cheek.  I can barely hear the shuddering words.  There's nothing I can do but hold him tight and soak it up, absorb a bit of it into my own heart.  I can't fix it or make it go away.

I know one who will seldom be comforted, one that fights and resists the pain.  Attempts at comforting can easily provoke a snarl or even porcupine quills.  It's as though compassion will draw the pain to the surface where it can be felt--and this must be avoided at all costs.

I've been like that.  Refusing comfort, raging against the ache.  Shaking raised fist in refusal.  Trying to make it go away in all the wrong ways.

This fierce resistance is often perceived as strength while the shuddering sobs are seen as weakness...

My kids are memorizing the Beatitudes.

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted...

Hardly the stuff of our heroes.  Once again, the inside-out-upside-down way that's counter-intuitive leads to wholeness.

Mourn.  Be comforted.

Raging against the pain won't make it better, won't make it go away...

Throw yourself into the arms of Papa, pour it all out...and soak up the comfort.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4a

Matthew 5:3-10

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I tried to say what I meant, but it didn't come out that way...or maybe it did, but there was a filter and it wasn't understood.  It really mattered to me.  I wanted to be understood.  I may never know exactly what went awry, but what I do know is that communication is tricky and there have been a thousand times in my life when it's been hard.  Too hard.  I've made all kinds of "agreements" in those moments.  An open door for discouragement and heaviness to creep in.

My fingertips have been silent for a week.  I wanted to write, but it seemed the well had run dry.  I didn't like it.  Speaking, declaring, writing...words of hope unleashed in any form make me vibrantly, passionately alive.  The nasty double whammy is that heaviness, by it's very nature, makes it hard for us to find the key to precisely what is amiss.

Then call on me when you are in trouble,
and I will rescue you,
and you will give me glory...

I called.  And called.  I'm not always good at listening right away.  Quicker to make accusations about whose fault is what, to play the blame game.  A futile game that's not actually fun so I don't know why it's called a game...

Four days later I listened.  Really listened. Quietly.  Then I knew.  Pain had come because of who said what, but the heaviness came because of what I agreed with..and it wasn't what any human said.  It was the voices that say, "You don't make any sense.  You say stupid things.  You're really bad at communicating..."  It sounded enough like the truth that I believed it.  That was enough to shut down the flow.

I repented to the One who has filled me with words...sorry, so sorry, that I've believed the stupid lies again. Forgave the one who misunderstood.  I'm not always good at communicating.  I need grace.  Lots of it.  But I have been given something to say and I need to say one else will say it in quite the same way or to the same people.  Because the words He gives are spirit and life, they're powerful.  Of course, the enemy will assault, attack, and undermine at every opportunity.

You have an assignment too.  It's unique to you and no one else can do it.  When you're on assignment you may feel terrified, but also vividly alive.  Perhaps you too can recognize that this gift gets horribly assaulted from time to time.  Call on Him when you're in trouble.  He will rescue.  Cast off the lie and shine.  We need you.

The rescued ones give Him glory!

He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery, abandoning themselves to God.
Psalm 40:3 MSG

Psalm 50:15