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Monday, January 28, 2008

As Mama's - This is where the rubber meets the road....


I took time to listen to the memorial for Bronner Burgess again. It was incredibly convicting. As Moms and Dads we worry about the physical things every day. How are we going to put these children through school? How are we going to give them the best? How are we going to make sure they succeed? Well...these are not the most important things....we forget that.


Please listen to these links I post for the Memorial by Rick if you haven't already. It is an amazing thing to listen to. It makes the things of this world seem small and insignificant.




AFATHERSHEART - part 2


AFATHERSHEART - part 3


I am thankful...so very thankful that God is seperating my heart from this life. I pray that I do become more and more Heavenly minded. And that I teach my kids to do the same thing. And that I do not move toward love of the things of this world...but further away. This is hard for me...I have such a love of such stuff. I love such insignificant and worldly things...and it is sickening to me. This is progress. This is what I have prayed for. I pray that I continue this route and that I continue to see my love of God growing and my earthly passions fading...Please Lord, let it be so. And more importantly, let my children see it in me (help me Lord!) and learn it as well.


Rick said in Bronner's Memorial that he didn't want to be here [earth] anymore. I can understand this. I feel this as well. There really is nothing that would be better for me than to know that I and my loved ones were in the physical presence of our Heavenly Father.


Pray for the Burgess's - I am praying God continues to give them strength - that they will not weary or become disillusioned. What they are dealing with has got to be the most difficult thing. And there is going to be serious spiritual warfare. And it is so public...it has to be trying.
When we see these things, it truly does cause us to look up and keep our eyes focused on the important things...

There is work to be done...let's get about our Father's business!

Friday, January 25, 2008

HOLY COW!


I am thrilled - these last few weeks have been full of stepping out by faith for me, in so many things. My new venture, seeing myself for what I am and knowing that God loves me not because of what I am but because I am his. I also have been trying to make things right with those around me...my kids and my husband. These are really big things for me. A great step in the right direction.


It has taken my realizing -again- that my life is not my own but it is Christ's. I have heard Alan, my pastor, saying that we must have courage to step out by faith to do that which we think is impossible for the Kingdom of God. I cannot waste another moment on myself. I must step out by FAITH and do what I think God is calling me to do - no matter how small or HOW BIG.


I encourage you all to go to faith-pca.org click on sermons then on Opportunity, Not Obligation and Power Made Perfect in Weakness. These were instrumental to my hearing that my faith was small and that I was not trusting enough in God's will or my abilities when looking to him to accomplish more for the Kingdom of God. Also another great resource has been lote.org - Chip Ingram's sermon for January 25th is also incredibly encouraging - How to be a Christian Without Being Religious - Why God Uses Some People More Than Others - Part 1 .


These things are great listening. I hope they encourage you to exercise your faith as much they have encouraged me. I feel like I am on the edge of a great adventure. No, not necessarily successful the way I think of success - but if I am trusting in God's abilities to work through me by my faith then it will indeed build the Kingdom of God. This is my heart's desire! This is exciting!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Made a Whale


You heard me right. I made a whale. Last year for Vacation Bible School I was asked to help
with the
decorations. (I cannot get the s to stick with decoration- sorry)
Well...one of my biggest issues with anything is this idea that bigger is better. I mean...I don't always know where to stop. I really am not a huge proponent of bigger is better in reality. I see that sometimes a little goes a long way and can even be preferable - but I always seem to point my buggy in the "bigger" direction and run when I am in charge. I create these massive ideas in my head and get overwhelmed with them. But once I come up with them...it just doesn't seem right not to see them through. So...I had this great idea.

We were doing Jonah and the Big Fish...okay so I made a big fish...it looked A LOT like a whale though. And I wanted something the kids would be wowed by when they walked in. So I thought how hard can it be to take some plywood and a little wire and paper mache and make a whale? It truly was a simple idea but in reality quite a huge undertaking.


At first, I could not ask for help because I really was not sure how to go about telling others how to help me bend this chicken wire to the right places. It was kind of like sculpting and just needed to be bent and cut and pushed where I wanted it to go. And honestly - sometimes it just felt like it was doing itself with my hands...I really had no clue what was next. I just kind of went by the seat of my pants. When I finished the frame I was quite pleased, though cut up...no matter what I put on my arms and hands the wire always found a way to poke through...I looked like I had been in battle...most of the time not even feeling when I got poked because of my focus. Let me just say - that kind of focus - well, don't I wish I could bottle it and use it in more discretionary places...HA!


So now came the time to paper mache'. My sweet neighbors kids love crafting so I called them and told them we were ready and they came over in their swim suits. I tried flour and water at first thinking it was much cheaper and it really was. But it dried really kind of brittle and not real flexible. So I went and got wall paper paste. That worked great. We got quite a bit done. And the whale was looking really good. I was encouraged...it was quite a job - still - it was fun and it was such an amazing process to me.


Everything felt good and was going well until one afternoon I got a call from school. One of the twins' had a very bad headache and felt badly. I thought it was one of his migraines. Not a happy thing but I was going to get him and give him his medicine and we were going to lay down and get past it. I hate that he has them but it is fairly cut and dried when he has them and pretty routine so we know the drill and thankfully - they do not last long. When I got to the school, however, he was not just hurting - he was burning up! He had a 103 degree temp. I called the Dr. and took him in that afternoon. He had strep. But he did not get over the strep, even with the antibiotics. So we had to go back 3 days later and low and behold...he had Mono. MONO!


Now let me just say this, my family likes to share everything. We smack each other on the lips and drink after each other...not real sanitary and not one of us seems to care. But this...well....it made me sorry we didn't try harder to keep our germs to ourselves. We all came down with strep - mine did not go away. We were pretty sure I had Mono as well - even though the test early on showed negative. I was so sick, and so tired. It was horrible! Fortunately none of the other kids ever got it.


Well...I had this monstrosity in the basement that really needed to be finished. My Mom - sweet as she is, came up and helped with the kids. She and I also would get down there and paper mache' our hearts out. Now my problem was not necessarily getting volunteers...who really would want to come help us with the mono thing going on? Nobody - and I wouldn't ask them to either. So my Mom and I, for two days...some days with me laying on the floor of the garage I was so tired...we paper mache'd. And we finished that monstrosity. I then had to paint it...Got it done though.


The next thing was getting that critter on a trailer...it was HUGE...easily as big as a car. But we even got that done. Some other friends brought their trailer and we got it on and my husband, Andy sat in the back with the whale to make sure it didn't shift. I was a little concerned...because as hard as I had worked on the whale...I really wanted him to get there safely and not get dinged...but I love my husband more - didn't want the whale knocking him off the trailer and something horrible happening. But it got there and Andy was safe, though I am sure they looked like a Mardi Gras float going down the road! They managed to shove the thing through the door and it was a huge success.


Though not me nor one of my kids made it to VBS because of the strep and mono. So frustrating for me to do all of that. Not only that - but I really had to hand over a lot of the decorations to other people. And it really was not that that worried me so much. It was not helping. Coming up with all these huge ideas and then not really being there to see them through. It killed me. There was a part of me that didn't think it could happen without me though.


Here is what I learned: I am not a necessity to any of God's plans. My inability to help will not thwart nor will it keep things from going on. This is GOOD to hear. Though I know God wants me to be his hands and his feet. It is also okay for me to say no and it is a good thing to get others to help and relinquish control. It will look great. It did look great. The whole Church was just beautiful! This also takes some of the pressure off. Thank the Lord it is not all up to me!


I am a glory hog. EW! I know. That sounds horrible doesn't it? I LOVE to be praised by my fellow believers and it killed me not to be there in the middle of all of that so I could hear what people were saying. I want the praise of my Lord and Savior...not the praise of man - though I admit I still enjoy it. I truly am trying my best to ask myself what is my reason for my BIG IDEAS and who am I trying to please? In the end...the gifts that God has given me to use are in fact very out there. People see them and they are kind and will say sweet things. I appreciate the encouragement so much but I have to be careful not to let it feed my vanity. It is a way that builds pride in myself and I find myself stumbling because of how great I think I am.

I also have been realizing over the years that I am in fact a closet narcissist. I may have shared this before but I sometimes find myself volunteering or doing things for others because I want them to think I am a nice person. Not because I am really wanting to help someone out. Isn't that ugly? Well...it is just part and parcel of caring for others for me. I now try to ask myself what are my intentions before I volunteer...and even if I find my intentions are wrong ....if I still feel I need to do it, I just have to ask God to change my heart. That's the best I can do. I know - you are probably wondering WHY I am sharing all of this dirt? Listen to this - James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

In a nutshell I am trying my best to serve the Lord with the gifts he has given me. It is a blessing sometimes when my plans are thwarted because I get to see the ick and confess it before the Lord because " If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1John 1:9. And it just comes down to the fact that I do want to be righteous before my Lord. And if I lay it all out before you all - I will be held accountable for my unrighteousness.

Where is that Big Fish now? I had to break that puppy down and take it to the dump. Can you believe it? All of that for 5 days of walking through it. Kind of sad really. Would I do it again? I would. In a second. I loved doing it. I believe I learned a whole lot. And now - I know to do it somewhere where I can leave and let someone else take over. After all...you just never know what is going to happen!





Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Feel Sick....





Do you know the feeling? It is not any one thing...it is many things converging to make things seem - well - just wrong. I struggle with each little thing and have to seek diligently to find comfort in the midst of so many disturbing issues surrounding me. I am sure you feel that way sometimes.

I know many of you know Rick Burgess from the Rick and Bubba Show and have heard about what happened to his little boy. The two year old wandered away and drown in their pool. It is heartbreaking and disturbing to everyone who hears it. My heart and my prayers have been going out to him and Sherri. Makes me think about mine and it almost paralyzes me with fear for my own children.

I heard about the stock-market today and it was yet another weight. And the election...there's something else...distressing to say the least. And I have a child that is just like me and this worries me too. I see it more and more every day and my prayer has been that they would not struggle like I did with some things...and he is. And it burdens my heart. And my new venture...my website and business and the success or failure of it - it makes me nervous as well. Lately there are so many things that seem to be weighing me down...it is hard to keep my head above water.

Well...I am doing what I always try to do. I get my Bible and start searching for words of comfort.

Matthew 6:24-26 (New International Version)
24Do Not Worry 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

That is pretty plain and to the point. I do believe it really is a matter of believing that what Jesus says is true and waiting until it is assuaged. Sometimes I think I get this way just so He can pull me close.

John 16:33
33"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

My comfort comes from the fact that I know that Jesus has overcome the world already. And that I can trust in THIS moment that his grace will sustain me. Just like I can trust for the NEXT moment that his grace will sustain me - and so on and so on. I believe that is how Rick and Sherri are making it. I believe that is how anyone who is a believer is going to make it through difficult times...one precious moment at a time - trusting for God's grace.

So I am casting off those cares the best I can and reminding myself of all of these things - so that I do not bog down and start eating or watching TV so that I will quit thinking about them. That is my tendency and I cannot let it happen. It is a fight. And it is a sin so I must do my best not to fall to the temptation of worry.

I teach 5 year old Sunday School at my church and we were talking about Jesus being tempted in the desert and how he overcame Satan's temptations with scripture. One of my girls asked if Satan was dead. We had to tell her no but that he would be destroyed when Jesus came back for us. Her little eyes watered as she looked at me and she said, "I hope he comes back soon". So do I sweety! So do I!



Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pandamonium in the Pew


I have three boys. Twins that are 7 (almost 8 but I am in denial) and a 4 year old. We sit together in church and as we sit and try to worship (try being the key word there) I am always distracted. Constantly. Someone is either filling in the circle they drew with the pencil and it is deafening it is so loud. Or a shoe is thumping the wood of the pew. It could be any number of little things that distract me from worship. This morning for example, I see something out of the corner of my eye..and hear bump, bump, bump, bump. My 4 year old is hitting his brother on the head with a Bible...I take the Bible away, give him a warning look and turn my head back toward the pastor. Am I listening to the sermon? No, I am wondering how many people saw that and what they are thinking.


Now at home I can ignore these things. It is amazing what I can get done through blood curdling screams and crying. They are after all boys and there is going to be fighting. My focus and zeal for accomplishment is amazing. Nothing can distract me, except maybe a loud crash and scurrying of feet, but for the most part, I am a focused, well oiled machine, intent on completing the task at hand.


But Sunday mornings, my focus seems to be on the three little creatures that God has so blessed me with. Is it because of all that racket that seems to be coming from their direction? No, it is because I am worried about distracting all of those people around me. Not just that - but what they are thinking about me and my noisy boys.


I am learning something though. It never fails to amaze me, that someone will say how good my kids are in Church. Even on the days where I have spent the entire time eyeballing them and taking pencils away. How is this? Because I know that even though they are certainly not horrible little animals, they are boys - noisy boys. So again, how can these folks say such a thing when I can hardly focus on one word the pastor is saying?
My focus is wrong. I need to learn to take a deep breath, come prepared for a little distraction but not to sweat the small stuff. Amazingly enough, not everyone is watching me and my kids. Huh...what do you know? Their focus is where mine should be - the preaching of the Word.


I have a feeling there are many of us like that. The things that distract us are very often not even a blip on the radar of others. It has more to do with where our own focus lies.


Note to self...must find a way to find the focus on Sunday mornings I find so readily when completing a task I want to. Yikes.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

SNOW Fell on Alabama





Oh my goodness! Can you believe it? A snowy day...in North Shelby County! Unbelievable! My heart has been so happy as I watched the boys and the dogs and the cat root around and throw snowballs and slide down the hill. So much fun! But so cold! We Southerners do not have the clothes to handle this slushy stuff we fondly call snow. We were "soak and wet" and cold to the bone. We all had to come in have hot showers and get dry.

Andy made cookies and hot chocolate and started the warmest fire I have ever felt in this house and soon we were all warm and cozy. I will say when we walked in the door from outside it was an amazingly comforting thing to smell that wonderful chocolate chip cookie smell. And all the better for someone else making them!

My sweet boys have said over and over, "This is exactly what we prayed for!" I am so glad they could see this answered prayer! The only thing that I think I was down about at all is the fact that it happened on a Saturday instead of a school day and they didn't get to miss school for the snow day- because we all know that is part of the fun! Oh well....we are still thrilled....




My New Venture


For the last year or so I have wanted to start my own company. I am for all intents and purposes a huge fan of cleaning the house in my pajamas. I do it quite well. Although I understand some people do not - for whatever reason it has always served me well. I am a morning person so I can roll out of the bed and start to work almost immediately and once that is done then I can play. Of course that is in a perfect world. Now I have to stop several times to tend to potty issues or make breakfast or fix a lego truck gone awry. But it is all in all a wonderful thing.

I love pajamas. Always have. My best friend Gina, use to buy me pajamas for my birthday every year. Some she would make, some she would buy. But I always looked forward to it. My Mom and my Mother-in-law do as well. I really have a thing for them. All that to say is why I came up with Pajama Mama. T-shirts, pajamas, hats, mom bags all custom made by hand (I am green - very much loving the earth! ;) ) and set up my own domain. I have it - but I have not figured out how to publish it yet. I am working on that. The idea is to have a place where women can come and read and laugh and cry and relate to others about the things that happen to Moms every day.
And to help me stay at home...thus the T-shirts, pajamas, hats and mom bags.

And is there any better way to get out of the house fast than a baseball cap? Nothing better than putting on a cute one of those and getting the kids to the bus or to baseball practice. I also believe strongly in what my sis-in-law calls Mom bags. HUGE bags that can carry water, bandaids, extra sox, antibacterial wipes...McDonald's Happy Meals...whatever a Mom needs to pack to get her and her brood to where they are going. I also love T-shirts. Long sleeve, short sleeve...just something to throw on and where to the park or to the grocery store. Anyway....thus came my idea. I can make these things and sell them and do all the things I so love to do and help my sweet husband out at the same time. I have my pastor to thank for this huge step. His encouragement from the pulpit to act on what we feel God is leading us to do is why I ventured out.

I have such a huge vision for where this little business could go. My first and foremost desire is to help Andy with raising money to send the boys to school one day. But I want it to help ministries and to encourage Moms that are like me and get bogged down. I would also like to see it get big enough to be able to help other stay at home moms help me and to enable them to make money out of the house as well. This could work. And I pray it does....

Introducing.....



coming soon...pajamamama.net

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Depression - Is It Really a Curse?


I have become positive that my depression is not the end of the world – it is a blessing instead of a curse. You may wonder why I think that. I am prepared to tell you. After years of dealing with it and trying anti-depressants and reading scads about this seeming affliction, I have realized that it is something for me to embrace.

First of all let me say that I understand that depression has many reasons, some of which are biological and require medication. My first suggestion is always check with a doctor when there is a problem with depression. But there is also sin. Sin can weigh ones soul down and cause the exact same symptoms as someone struggling with medical depression. It is important for a believer to delve into her life to determine why she is feeling the way she is. Is there something she knows she does not need to be doing, or equally needs to be doing? Has she let finances get out of hand or relationships to take on wrong value? It is important to examine your spiritual activity daily by the Word of God – the Believers true compass.

But once I saw my sin and dealt with it rightly by God’s Word, I found that my depression continued. I want to blame it on hormones. I am not getting any younger. I am a 41 year old woman who just very well may be going through peri-menopause. I am a roller coaster ride of emotions. But I have dealt with these swings for years. And they are vast swings….almost bi-polar in appearance. I am either going full force or I, what I lovingly call, “hit the skids”. Everything stops. They are worse than they used to be - so it very well could be hormones...who knows - but the fact is - it is not the end of the world.

My favorite days are when there is not a day when I am not unbelievably positive and I am able to put my hand to anything I want to. These are the Diamond Days. They sparkle and shine and keep me going. I love these days because I am sure of who I am, why God placed me here and can function not just getting through the day – but soaring through it. I love the Diamond Days and I want every day to be that way.

But that cannot be. The Diamond Days would not be so sparkly had I not been through what I have come to see as the Black Coal days. These are days of dark and seemingly endless pressure. I cannot function well, I cannot think or stay on task and it is unbelievably frustrating. At times I shake my fist at God and ask him why he has made me the way he has. There is nothing that can go right and even if I accomplish something, it is not what I want so I count it as a “have to” and face it, “have to’s” are not satisfying. The attitude is, I did what I had to now let’s move on. I am listless and sometimes unable to find joy in anything. My husband cannot do right, my kids are hard, my house is a mess and I care but I cannot do anything about it…it seems – vain.

In the past these days were very much an affliction. I hated life. In my younger years I dealt with them better. But after being married and having kids and not having the freedom to go and do as I like (like I did B.K.- before kids), I turned to a source of solace that was always around. Food. This became sin in my life. I no longer thought to go to Scripture or prayer for guidance. I no longer cared why or how and all I wanted to do was drown out the voices that clamored in my head during the hard times. So I ate. Anything and everything that was available. And television. And the computer. These became my crutches. And suddenly I was not having the Diamond Days…I had gained a whopping 60lbs and could not figure out how I got there. Not only did I gain weight but Satan began to plant horribly ugly thoughts in my mind. I began to believe there is no way God could love me this way. I was unlovable and unworthy of redemption. There was a place in my mind that wanted to extricate itself from this grip – but I was unable to figure out how.

I have a group of friends that I started out in a Bible Study with. Through the years our relationship has become more of a sisterhood. We hold each other accountable and keep each other on task the best we can. These friends started advising me to examine my life. Good, godly cousel is a woman in my position’s best friend. The understanding was not overnight. I started looking and would weed out the sins and bring them before the Lord. But I would stumble and fall back into it. I still struggle and expect to always do so. But I pray that with the support and accountability to fellow believers I will walk rightly. I do realize that I am so loved by my heavenly Father! It has taken me years to get to the point where I am able to see – an epiphany of sorts (God revelation!) that I am blessed even in the Black Coal days. They are a precious gift and a tool to cause creativity in me.

These days of darkness and pressure are a necessity to live the life that God has called me to. They produce in me creativity. My mind struggles for the why’s and wherefore’s and this does not happen in the Diamond Days. I think deeply and feel deeply and struggle mightily with small and large things. But in this struggle is produced amazing and happily productive things. They aid me well in my Diamond Days. Without these Black Coal days, I would not have the Diamond Days. Life would be constant and even but I am pretty sure that I would never have to dig deep to find the why’s and wheretofore’s, thus not producing those incredibly satisfying days. Is that what I really want? [Edit:Alan, my Pastor preached from James this morning (Jan. 20)...and there are amazing correlations here! Coincidence? I think not. I will have additional things to add to this when I am able to sit down and review my notes!]

I have conceded that no, it is not. The Black Coal days have been lovingly given to me by my heavenly Father. He knew what I needed to make me productive. And I do believe that my so called depression is the birthplace of things that God would have me do. So, now in order to deal rightly with this blessing, I must keep my posture the posture of repentance. I must bring my sins before the Lord and then I am free to struggle and search in those dark times. But now it is no longer a burden. It is indeed, a blessing. My prayer is that I remember this, even in the midst of those Black Coal Days. Turning to the Lord with my struggles and holding them up before him, will not only produce the creativity he has given me, but it will more importantly keep me right with Him. And that is the deepest desire of my heart, to live rightly before my Lord and Savior.