Thursday, December 31, 2009

The following post really spoke to me. It was written about 3 years ago, but so true for me today. I got it from this site
It is a pretty edgy and raw site, just one reason I like it. It will challenge your conventional thought patterns however, so be warned. I do not agree with everything on this site, but then again I would not be living in reality if I thought that I had to agree with everything that everyone said, thought or felt, would I? As I have said before...another opinion cannot change my belief!

"This is eternal life, that they may know you" (John 17:3). This verse got me thinking the other day about the fullness of life in the here and now. Then I read Chambers sometime this weekend, and he also says that knowing God in Christ is "one amazing, glorious NOW!" This is the fullness of the moment, doxology, benediction, blessing, abundance, right now, this second.

I didn't preach yesterday. My good friend and co-pastor Doug Mawer did. But I lead worship. I am a part of a congregation and movement that has a history of desiring more of God's presence. But while I lead worship, I was impressed by the fact that God is fully present, right now. I don't have to work anything up, or conjure up his presence. God in Christ is fully present as he promised. The problem isn't that God needs to be more fully present. The problem is that I need to be more fully present with God. That's always the problem. It's our thinking that is deficient. (I LOVE this)

Which gets me thinking about good friends of mine who feel alienated from the church. For many of them, their experience of church has been painful and frustrating. I think, for many of them, it stems back to this false belief that God isn't really present, and that we can work it up by purity, heartfelt emotion, knowledge, intensity, and intention. In other words: by our desires, wills and efforts. Many people immediately see through that never-ending spiral downward into religiosity. They, like me, have no tolerance for that anymore.

Can we as a church affirm to people that God is with them in Christ? Can we tell people the good news that the Kingdom of God is HERE, right now? Can we tell people, that without any work on their part, that they have been reconciled to God through Christ? That is the cure to the religiosity that is, frankly, destroying true fellowship.
David Hayward

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just a thought

I know that many of us are trying to be a meet helper to our husbands, but do we really listen when he speaks?
I know that you are trying to follow God and be His bride, but do we really listen when He speaks?

This scenario went through a conversation I had with an old friend late last night.

My husband has told me for years "Don't worry" and I just took it as a comment that really did not mean I had to do anything. Something to say when I asked about what to do about such-and-such or whatever current crisis or issue in my life.
I am sure I would sluff it off and continue to fret, just not out loud anymore.

Later, in some heated discussion, he would tell me that I never listen to him.
"WHAT" I would ask incredulously, I do my best to be a good wife, I ask you before I schedule anything to see if you are willing, I try to consider your needs and fulfill them, I cook your favorite meals, I tend to the children as you wish, I do....I do.....I do.... (works, works, works)
But...did I listen? Did I, in fact cease to worry about whatever it was? Probably not. No.
Was he saying that to control me? Was he saying it to get me to shut up? Well...let's not go there. :)
No. He had my best interest in mind.
Did he say it forcefully? No, he is not out to control me or make me do anything. He wants me to trust him. To cease to worry for my own good. He wants me to believe that it will be OK and to refuse to allow my own dark, twisty-ness to overwhelm my thoughts.

As I was talking about this to my friend, we marveled at how much like God this is. God tells us something for a reason. Not with flashing signs and sirens, but quietly, gently. He expects us to listen to him as well. For our own good.
God does not ask us to do, do, do for Him either. Simply to listen and obey. To trust that He has it all worked out, to not worry. To be with Him.

How often do we ignore that? Do we worry and fret? Do we love our neighbors and the sinners as we should? Did we not hear Him the first time?

Wow. Learning to listen. Learning to apply what we hear in the chaos of our fretful minds and fearful hearts. What a challenge, what an opportunity. Having a husband to practice listening to for the right reasons...what a blessing. A marriage made by God. Not always easy, but so amazing.
Just a thought

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What does the Prodigal see when he looks at me?

One of my all time favorite songs is a Vineyard songs from the CD called "Fathers house". It is about 15 years old, I guess. The whole CD is about the Prodigals that are out there still searching, and the Prodigal in all of us. I was just remembering some of the songs today.

How easy it is to forget that God's heart is for the lost and the seeking. How easy to get so wrapped up in the vain pursuits of increasing our own "goodness" while so many of His precious children are yet wandering in darkness. I am guilty here.

I was reminded of a conversation that I had in the past. An acquaintance and I had occasion to spend more time together and get to know each other better. As we became friends, this person confessed to me that they "had me figured all wrong". That I was not like the others.
They told me that they had this whole idea of what a Christian, conservative, homeschool mom would be like and they had put me into that box when they first had met me.
I remember being so shocked that they would think that of me. After all...I am a little rough around the edges and pretty transparent with my failings as a Christian. I know that I am not perfect, thank God.

My heart just broke when I heard them tell me what they had thought I would be like. Or what they thought I would expect of them. I grieved for the lost time. Lost to unreal expectations, lost to fear, lost to lies.
I grieved for the shame and fear that I saw so exposed before my eyes.
They thought that they had to hide who they were around me. Not because I ever did anything to make them feel that way, just because I am a Christian. There was a wall between us that kept me out.

They thought that I would judge them for things in their life that were not "Christian" enough. They thought that I would shun them if they slipped up and used colorful language or if they had a drink or a smoke. They were terrified for me to see who they were. Hiding in the dark, waiting for me to throw stones.

This person is an honest seeker. Looking for the love of Jesus and having a hard time finding it among the Body. I know that I am not responsible for what someone else thinks, or how they perceive things. I just could not help but wonder how many times I have come off as "too Christian" for someone to approach me.

I am glad to say that we were able to build a bridge between our hearts, for however brief our time together was...that bridge will always be there. With compassion, love and acceptance I can pave the way for Jesus to walk across that bridge from my heart to another.
Acceptance of a person does not mean that we condone sinful behavior. It is not my job to do that. Not to change them, lecture them, convert them or judge them. My job is to love them. Love them when they are unlovable, when they fall apart and when things are on top of their game.

My own conversion took place in this way. I was also sitting in the dark, ducking stones from well meaning Christians. Sadly, many whizzed by my head a long time. I remember feeling so outcast and so angry. I wondered why I would want anything to do with a God whose followers would treat me that way.
The righteous ones who told me all about how wrong I was, and how bad I was...only pushed me farther from Jesus.

Finally I met some Christians who understood grace, redemption and compassion because they could remember what it was like to be chained in the dark, outcast and ashamed. They took me in where I was and loved me to the Lord.
What a gift they gave me. I never felt condemned. I was never told that I was not good enough. I was not told that I had to change anything. They let the Holy Spirit handle all that. They just loved me. Unconditionally.

I wonder if in fear have I shut out the Prodigals in my life?
How many times do I hear Christians make excuses for building protective walls between themselves and the world? If I had a dime for every time....well, you know the rest. How many times, did I follow that same thought pattern and hide away from the hands reaching out all around me? No thank you, I can't help you today...I am late for bible study...or whatever.

I think that there is so much fear that we will be polluted by the world that we shun it, judge it and hide away from it. This reminds me of the parable of the good Samaritan.

The Gospel of Luke chapter 10, verses 25-37

One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!” The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus then replied with a story:

“A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Levite walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

The Priest and Levite passed by the wounded man on the road for various reasons. They were God's own servants, too busy with temple (church) business, too scared or just too unwilling to touch the untouchable. The pagan Samaritan stopped and helped and went above and beyond.

I think that as a Christian, there can be fear to step outside of the safely constructed box of protection that the Church offers. By Church, I do not mean the building or the congregation. I mean the whole deal. The activities, the works if you will, the attitudes, the groups, the people, the things that we do, say and pretend to be in order to feel like we are OK.
Do you know what I mean?

People are all along the roads that we walk on. Lonely, hurting and confused.
There is so much fear that I hear, the fear of getting polluted by the world. I believe that God is bigger than that. He who is in you, is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4)

The One who is more than enough is inside of you. If you are in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the One who is more is inside of you. Because of this we have overcome. To hear many Christians talk, you would think the one who is less is on the inside of them.

There is no one who can change what I believe. They can say and do what they want. My faith is secure. Wild horses could not drag me away. Seeing someone who is not following God cannot make me do the same. My children seeing me love someone who is not a Christian will not make them fall off the path. My God is a big God. I am not afraid of those who do not believe what I believe. They no longer threaten me.

When I talk about reaching people, I am not even talking about things that I used to do with God. Reaching the alcoholic, the homeless and the abused. Ministering in the local church tirelessly or volunteering in a worthy charity. Those things are not possible for me right now. I have small children, I can't be doing the things that I did then. At least, not for awhile.

I CAN love and accept those who cross my path. I can befriend the lonely and love them where they are. I can choose to not fear or judge those who are not like me. After all, no one but God sees their heart. I can smile at the grocery clerk, the one with the hard eyes. I can befriend those who are not like me.

Here is a challenge I asked myself today...How many non-Christians are in your life? Not even many Christians that are not just like you, are there in your life? How many would you call a friend?

How can I reach anyone if I stay inside my own circle? Is my circle enclosed with barbed wire, is it shrinking every day? What does someone have to do in order to pass the guards that I have posted around my circles? You know the ones...rules, laws, acceptable behavior, belief systems and all of the rest.
How can I reach anyone with the love of Christ if I make them agree to a 10 page code of conduct before I talk to them?

Lots of questions. I hope I can answer them in my own heart soon. I believe that love is the first step. I believe I need a new understanding of love and just how far reaching it is.

Friday, December 11, 2009


This was one of those light bulb moments for me. Yesterday in school, my Artist boy was supposed to make those block things into hundreds, tens and ones columns respectively.
I gave him the page and the blocks, asked him to make the right amounts in the right spots and turned my attention to my Philosopher and graphing out height differences in famous skyscrapers. (Ah, homeschool math!)
A few moments later, he shows me what he has done.

I thought it was very clever. In fact, it made my heart swell and I actually giggled out loud! It showed me that he thinks outside the box and is very creative. That's the heart of an artist! Not news to me...aren't all of our children wonderfully talented and brilliant?

It also showed me how different perspective can be from person to person.

He took what I said and ran it through his filters and this is what he interpreted it to be.

It really made me think of other times I have said things and gotten a different outcome than I expected. It was not the other persons fault that I had those expectations. It was all a matter of perspective.

I did not tell him that he did the assignment "wrong". He simply took the limited information I gave him and made it work. If I had shown him
e-x-a-c-t-l-y how to lay those blocks out in the right way, then we would talk about direction following skills!

I think that many of our issues in life can be avoided and solved if we will just stop and remember that not everyone has the same understanding, perspective, experiences and filters that we do. Not everyone will have the same response. That is the beauty of God's imaginative creation. Not all of us are alike.

I am going to try and remember this when I ask my children to do something that they have not done before and I am surprised at the results. I am going to try and remember that I am responsible for my interruptions, expectations and reactions.

Many times, I can get all bent out of shape by what someone says (usually in an e-mail where you cannot judge tone and intent) I have been so blown away that things I thought I understood were totally way off base or that something I said has been totally misinterpreted.

Seems like such a simple thing to grasp, not new ideas for me by any means...this just was like a light bulb moment all over again for me. A reminder to stop and consider where someone else might be coming from.

When someone is rude to me, say in the grocery store on in traffic. I too often get irritated and think only of myself. I need to consider what may be going on with that person. Are they ill, stressed, mourning or struggling in some other way. What pains are hidden behind those cranky eyes that confront me in the world around me?
It is just not about me. It really just isn't (I have to keep telling myself that...)

I would love to have the discipline and maturity to consider others first in this respect. To not be easily offended and to seek to bridge the distance from my heart to theirs. I believe this is real Christianity in action.

When a friend says something hurtful...will I stop and consider what distress they may be in that caused that unloving word? How easy it should be to have that compassion on those we love. How often it is not that way. I know that I tend to have less grace on my husband for example if he is cranky. How much harder will it be to practice that with all people?

I read something today that also goes along with this theme. I get the Voice of the Martyrs devotion daily sent to my cool new Internet phone, so I read this devotion before I get out of bed. was about a woman in China was was beaten for not renouncing Christ. She was tortured and killed by her captors. Before she died, she wrote a prayer down asking for the grace not only to endure her trials, but asking God to have pity on her tormentors at the same time.
Reminds me of the prayer of our Lord on the cross, in the face of unimaginable pain and torment..when he asked God to forgive those who hurt him...
"for they know now what they do".

Oh that I would be able to have the same attitude in my minor trials and run in's with my family and the world.
Blessings to you.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My baby's first birthday photos


The Heze-nator's birthday fell on Thanksgiving this year so the older kids made Pilgrim and Indian hats as party decorations for fun. They had fun acting out the Thanksgiving story over and over.
This baby boy has been such a blessing to our family. He is always happy and smiling. I am grateful for him!

Ready to attack the enemy!

I tried to use "Thanksgiving colors" for his first birthday cake...I like how it turned out.

Ride em' cowboy!

One happy boy! We love you Heze.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Love this post!

My pal Carrie..who is such an intuitive person and really knows her this post and thought that I would agree with it! I DO!
*Update... if the link will not work, here is the address*

I am always seeking the balance to allow God to move in my children's hearts and not only seek behavior modification alone. It is a LONG journey to realness and reality for me. I fall back into works and trying in my own strength every minute it seems. With all that has gone on here lately...I have been really grouchie and down...that does not make for great parenting. My children see the real me more often than I want then to! I need posts like this one to remind me that even if I blow it and do not act "Christian" all the time, that God still loves and I am still in his arms. Same goes for my kids!

I think that one really needs to read this and understand that it is not about letting children run wild or behave badly, but more about allowing the Holy Spirit to move in their hearts. More about not letting fear of what others think dictate how we parent. At least that is my take on it.

I know many will not grasp this concept...everytime I talk about grace or allowing the Holy Spirit to move I find myself going around and around in discussions about how we are responsible for training our children and all of that. SO not what this is about!

I agree that we are to train our children. I do. I train my children...I fail a lot and I succeed sometimes. I have not gotten the perfect parent thing down yet. Thank God...cause I think he has other, bigger plans for our family then just perfect kids, you know?

Thanks Carrie for thinking of me...I am always touched my how thoughtful you are!!!


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Family Update

Things have been very difficult this past week. Unfortunately, I miscarried our precious baby. Not only did that happen, but the miscarriage did not go well and after a week of trying to do it naturally with the help of my midwife, trying medications from my OB and getting very, very ill...I ended up rushing off the the ER for surgery late last night. I needed a lot of help with the severe nausea that the medications caused me and I was very dehydrated from blood loss, but they fixed me up pretty good! I am grateful for hospitals when you need them!
I am home now and trying to rest as much as one can with 7 children who need me.
I am on the mend, and Praise God...he carried me through the whole thing. I anticipate some time for the whole family to recover and heal.

God is good, all the time and I know that this precious life is not lost, but in the arms of Jesus.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Family nights

My friend Michelle's posts on family night at her house encouraged me to dig out my Heritage Builders series books and do the same. We LOVE the devotional activities. Since we are "in between" churches right now we needed this set time to focus on teaching and worship together in a way that is not just mom and dad reading the bible while little ones wiggle and wonder when they can get up! We still read the Word...but this gives the kids a way to be excited about learning!

I have turned a corner in my parenting where I seek less to force them to be still and silent when learning about God, to where I want them to interact and ENJOY learning about God. I do not want their memories to be of bad times when we are reading the Word or doing "church". With our family nights, there is an abundance of fun loving times and they are actually remembering the lessons much better this way!

Here are some shots of our last few times! I have not taken photos every time and I am not going to post this weekly. I am usually too wrapped up in what we are going to get many shots! I just thought I would post a few pics of the last 2 to encourage you to get out there and have fun while learning about the amazing things God has done!

After we read about Creation, we made play dough together and everyone got time to try making the things of Creation! It could be animals, plants or whatever else they remembered from the bible reading. Yes, we did end up with some dinosaurs!

Making homemade pizza together


Daddy LOVES these times! He is eagerly in the middle of every activity! Here he is making play dough animals!

Daddy hanging up the "stars" for the days of Creation.

Everyone got into the homemade tent and imagined being "In the beginning". We had the sound of water, lights going on and off, dirt going around for was really fun.
Each time begins with prayer and reading the selected part of scripture that goes with the lesson and also ends in a time for each person to pray about whatever is on their heart.

Pizza time!

The last one we did...I did not get very many pictures. We went to a huge field and measured out the Ark. Wow, it was HUGE. Then, the kids had races up and down to "feed the animals". Only the Philosopher was able to run the whole distance more than once...everyone else was bushed!

Then, they made an ark at home and put animals in it, decorated it etc.

Here is a shot of the filed before we started measuring things out. Sorry there are not more pictures of the "animal feeding" that was hilarious!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Great Blog article

This is such a good article! Written by a young lady named Jasmine Bauchan. She encourages us to not depart from fellowship based on non-salvation issues. Always a timely lesson. I have been encouraged to read her thoughts.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One of my favorite websites!

I love this site for Copywork, Notebooks, Lapbooks, Activity Books, Notebooking Pages, and MORE that are themed for Thanksgiving, Christmas, new years etc!
Check it out today!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How we spent our morning

I found this wonderful book at the library yesterday.
How Mama Brought the Spring - Fran Manushkin - Penguin Group (USA): "One wintry morning, Mama tells Rosy a wondrous story about her own mama, Grandma Beatrice, who could bring spring to cold, cold Minsk by making magic in the kitchen. Together, mother and daughter mix batter and sing a song. Then the batter goes into the pan—pour, swirl, swizzle, FLIP! Soon Papa comes in from the cold and the family shares a special treat. (Hint: A recipe for blintzes is included!)
In this delightfully cozy tale, Holly Berry’s stunning illustrations evoke charming folk traditions and the warm magic made in Mama’s kitchen."

Snuggling up to read together...not all the kids are on my lap, but 2 were listening on the floor.

My princesses helping me with the recipe

Everyone loved the blintzes, especially my husband. I will have to double the recipe next time!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hereditary spherocytosis

My dear sweet 4 year old princess has Hereditary spherocytosis. Many have asked me what it I will post it here for those interested.


HS is a genetic disorder of the red blood cell membrane clinically characterized by anemia, jaundice (yellowing) and splenomegaly (enlargement of the spleen).

In HS the red cells are smaller, rounder, and more fragile than normal. The red cells have a spherical rather than the biconcave-disk shape of the normal red cell. These rotund red cells (spherocytes) are osmotically fragile and less flexible than normal red cells and tend to get trapped in narrow blood passages, particularly in the spleen, and there they break up (hemolyze) leading to hemolytic anemia.

The clogging of the spleen with red cells almost invariably causes splenomegaly. The breakup of the red cells releases hemoglobin and the heme part gives rise to bilirubin, the pigment of jaundice.

The excess bilirubin leads to the formation of gallstones, (this is what happened to her last week) even in childhood, There is also often iron overload due to the excess destruction of iron-rich red cells.

The bone marrow has to work extra hard to make more red cells. So, if in the course of an ordinary viral illness, the bone marrow stops making red cells, the anemia can quickly become profound. This is termed an aplastic crisis.

The treatment of hereditary spherocytosis is to remove the spleen (splenectomy). Although the red cell defect persists, the breakup of the red cells (hemolysis) ceases. Splenectomy, however, is a hazard in young children. Young children without a spleen are at increased risk for overwhelming sepsis (bloodstream infection), particularly with the pneumococcus bacteria. Splenectomy is therefore usually postponed if possible until the age of 3 years.

The prognosis (outlook) after splenectomy is for a normal life and a normal life expectancy

For now, this means that she gets very ill with certian viruses. She has already had 4 emergency transplants in her first 2 years of life. She was stable for 2 years, and now she is having some troubles again.

I am very careful to not expose her to sicknesses, but I have to be even more so now. I am praying for wisdom on where I take her and who I go around...especially with all the flu going around. If she gets sick again, they will want to yank out her spleen and gall bladder sooner than later.

Wave of illnesses!

This is not a typical post for me, more of a "how we are doing" thing.

I am just reeling from this last week! Tonight is the first time since Friday that I am really able to get out of I am starting time. Looking for a rental to move to (know of one?) and catching up on e-mails etc.

A week ago Thursday, my little princess has some severe abdominal pain that nearly landed us in the ER. It went on for over an hour, in 2 different episodes. We were on the way to the ER at 11:30 at night. Suddenly, her pains when you take your car to the mechanic, it will stop making the noise it had been making for weeks!
The Dr. at the ER said to go home and come back if it started again. The next day, I got her into the Dr. for some labs and they said that her levels were OK and we should go home. The level they were talking about was her hematocrit.

She has a special condition that makes things like stomach pain a crisis for her, I am posting on her condition in a separate post for those who are interested in Spherocytosis.

My mom feelings were going off like crazy. I watched her all day Saturday and noticed that she was more yellow and lethargic. So, I called the real experts. Her hematologist at Children's hospital and they advised me to come in right away.

Most doctors have no idea what to even look for with her. Her crit level was ok (that is normally the one that will be way off) but several other levels were not good at all. It takes the experts to notice the warning signs with her.

Sure enough, she had had gall stones that sent her body into crisis. That was what the pains were about.Her liver function was way off and she was not doing good. Thankfully, they did pass and she recovered. By Monday she was ready to go home with warnings that they were going to want to see her in 3 days to talk about removal of her spleen and gall bladder.

Thursday came and we took the kids to Carrie's house so that my husband could go with me to the appointment. He normally does not come with me, but with talk of surgery I did not want to go alone.

We did labs and waited nervously. At the appointment, her doctor told me that her labs had continued to improve since Monday and they were not going to take out her organs right away! Thank God. He told me that he was prepared to do so if her labs had not improved.

We go back in one month to make sure that her levels continue to improve and that she does not have another crisis, so I guess we pray, wait and watch some more.
That same day, we picked up the kids and went to my Dr. in Everett. I was having trouble breathing. It was a terrible appointment. They kept me there for 3 and a half hours doing cardiac tests, chest x-rays and a ton of lab work.

I kept telling them that it was something with my lungs, not a heart thing. After 3 hours, the brilliant Dr. decided that I had anxiety and tried to send me home with anti-anxiety meds. I was very upset with his diagnosis. I knew that I was not having anxiety and that there was something wrong with my lungs.

After trying to convince him that I was not upset, and only making him not believe me more...I just wanted to leave. My 2 year old meanwhile, fell and cut open her forehead, needing 6 stitches. While they were waiting for me! I could hear her crying in the next room and knew that my other children were stressed out as well. Dad was a trooper the whole time.

I told him to do a pregnancy test before I would take anything he ordered. I was not going to take an anti-anxiety med, but he ordered some other things to help my breathing and lung inflammation.

While I was waiting on my meds, they ran down to the pharmacy to stop me from filling the prescription. Yes, I am pregnant with blessing #8. Thank God I did not let them bully me and I demanded a test first.

All I could do was laugh and praise God. I am sure the Dr. thinks that I am crazy. I was lauging with tears rolling down my face for joy.

I refused all his meds and went home with my tired, cranky family. The kids were so good during all of this, but I knew they had had enough.

Sure enough, some of my lab tests came back later that night that I have viral pneumonia. I was not happy with that Dr. who said I had anxiety. I have no history of anxiety but I do have a long history of asthma and bronchitis. Not to mention I had to go in again on Friday, sick as a dog and get some meds.

I am grateful for modern medicine..but why won't they listen to their patients? Or at least pay attention to symptoms? I had a very high heart rate (over 100 while resting and 140 after walking) and a very low blood pressure. I normally have perfect levels on both. I was wheezing and gasping for breath. Obviously, my body is fighting some infection. The fact that I did not have a fever made them dismiss any "real" illness possibility and claim anxiety. Hmmm. This is why I rarely go to the doctor. It takes something like pneumonia to get me even to go.

This has defiantly been a challenging week. A few friends brought meals (thank you!!) and my poor husband has had to take over some cooking. There was no homeschooling this week other than hit and miss math and reading. Such is life.

I am grateful for all of the prayers and support on our behalf.

I am grateful that my mom came to the hospital when my princess was admitted even though it was a LONG drive for her and she was at the Dr/hospital every other day this week with her MIL having surgery.
Now, I am praying to recover soon!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Changes in the wind.

This past few weeks was filled with so much tension and emotional drama for me. I won't get into all of it in detail, but I will say that I have felt the sting of judgement and the pain of isolation. To purge my soul of this heavy burden, I am writing about it.

I have been on the quest for the radical middle for several years now and that seems to upset some people tremendously. Not the political radical middle that you can find by Googling those words, "The Radical Middle or the Extreme Center is not any wishy-washy place to be, in a world where swimming to any of the ideological shores provides for a much calmer shelter". The radical middle is about finding the balance that God intends even while both sides are pulling on you to come to one extreme or the other.
When one talks about freedom in Jesus...some other assume that I am throwing away my salvation or that I am not following the Lord's commandments anymore.

God is the only one I am accountable to ultimately. I am actually a very conservative person, don't let the nose ring fool you. I take God's word seriously and pray every day for Him to open my eyes and heart more.

Some of my previous blogs have hinted to my journey out of legalism. I am talking about my legalism, not pointing fingers at anyone else, or calling them legalistic.

That is another misunderstanding lately. When I talk about how I am finding freedom from my own legalism people get defensive. I am not talking about anyone but me here.

I used to think that I had to follow all of these man made laws in order to be right with God. No one will say that out right, but that is there plainly.

Everyone will agree that we are saved by grace through faith, and yet we as people will continue to heap burdens, laws and more works on each other. Homeschooling moms especially.

As my friend Diana once said "as a homeschooling mom, we are told to not only grow the wheat together as a school project, but grind the wheat, bake the bread, build the table to serve it on and crochet the tablecloth".

I am guilty of taking on burdens that the Lord never intended for me to carry. Usually because I saw someone that I respected following a certain path. I assumed it was right for me as well.

I was not raised in the church. My past is, shall we say, colorful and dramatic. Perhaps that is why I am so passionate about grace. Jesus took me where I was, as I was, and showed me His love. He did not ask me to do anything other than believe. He did not ask me to clean up or be perfect right away. He asks me to allow him to finish the work he started in me, day by day, little by little.

My first few years as a Christian were the best years of my life. I was totally in love with my bridegroom Jesus. I had an active, exciting relationship with the Lord that was the height of my existence. My husband and I actively reached out to the hurting and shunned of society, the drunks and homeless. We were in a church that was all about helping others and each other.

Slowly, rules and laws crept in. Suddenly, I was told that I could no longer minister to alcoholic women or street was not proper for a Christian woman (along side her husband even) to be around "those" people.

I am ashamed to say that I fell for that lie. We ended up changing churches (our first church closed down) We switched our service in the new church to various areas. For 5 years, we served there and learned a lot. I have to say that those years were just ok. I was still on fire for God, but I was slowly being squeezed by the added pressures of my growing family.

When I reached out for help, or expressed any frustration with trying to learn how to raise small children, I was simply told to stop having children (I had 3 at the time) I was told to not homeschool anymore, after all, I was one of only 2 families in this huge church who did. That was incredibly isolating.

People said that I should be building the church with my service and time. I was already there 3 days a week and one night at prayer meetings. Some times, I was there for a 6 a.m. prayer service. It was not enough. They wanted more and more time from me.

The legalistic lie that I fell for there was that the church was all that mattered. I should allow my children to go to public school, or at least stay in the church nursery so that I can serve the members of the church more. I have had the conviction to allow God to plan our family size and to homeschool since I was pregnant with my first child. No one else even got what I was talking about.

I realized (along with the help of my husband) that I was not in the correct place. My ministry is at home with my family. I am saddened to say that when I stepped down from serving I was quickly forgotten. I guess if you are not active in circles, friendships cease to matter. That was very tough for me to swallow as I am the kind who is very loyal to friendships.

I got my first taste of one form of legalism.

*If you are not giving all your time, money and service to the local church, you are somehow not a good Christian, or not really saved*

I won't even tell you how long I lived in that "rule".

So then, as it life suddenly and radically changed. We moved about 30 miles away from there, to the home we had built in the county. We attended a small, county church. I ran up against some of the same ideas. I was asked to lead bible studies, work in the nursery and "plug" in with the women's ministry team...all while pregnant with twins. Yikes.

I declined to get overly involved. I had 4 more children in 3 years or so. I was busy enough at home. I don't think the pastor ever understood my explanations. I told him that my place was in the home for this season of my life. He would just stare at me as if I was speaking another language.

Eventually I was labeled as a luke-warm Christian because I was not obviously involved. How do I know that? People had the audacity to tell me that they were praying for "my walk" and that I would learn to hear God and follow him more and want to serve him in the local church. OK, that was only one person...but that was enough for me!

I love God's church, but I was overwhelmed with small children, a child with medical issues, homeschooling, running a homeschool support group and taking care of my family in general. I could not be at the church all the time. Needless to say, I never felt "at home" at that church. Most people did not even take the time to speak to me on Sunday.

I know that seems bizarre, but we do that to people all the time, don't we? If someone is not in your circle, they almost cease to exist. If a woman is busy with arm fulls of children, most people just try to sit as far away from her as they can! If she is keeping them with her at church like I did, it is both unpopular and unsupported. My children were not perfect, but we were trying to keep the family together on Sunday.

I won't even tell you some of the terrible things people said to me about that. I was attacked for not wanting to use the church nursery or Sunday school classes. Oh, what we do to people who do not follow our "rules"

Once we left there, I plunged head first into some other teachings and ministries. Many of them, I must say have greatly enriched my life. I learned about God's plan for my life as a wife and mother. I learned to embrace the blessing of each child the Lord gives us more fully and I learned that I was not the only one doing so.

I learned tons about dying to self in service to my family and about letting my husband function in his role as leader of the home. Not a popular ideas in this society at all!

Unfortunately, I went over board with rules. For several years I thought that I had to "look ok" on the outside to appear like a "good Christian" I wrestled with issues like wearing pants, head-coverings etc. My dear husband who is so much more balanced and full of grace than I am would point me to the scriptures on whatever issue I was dealing with.

He would bring me back to the free gift of grace. I do not have to do anything more to earn God's love. He already demonstrated it for me at the cross. God already accepts me as I am. It is His job to work out the dross in my life, not mine. He has his ways.

I spent too long trying to force change in my life. Most of it was not change that God was asking from me, but what others in my life were doing, or preaching on or insisting I do.

I thought that my natural desire to shelter my children was "good enough". We are not a perfect family, but I homeschool and I keep them safe and try to limit the yucky things like T.V. and other negative influences. I tell you, I went to some places a few years ago that made me feel like the worst mother in the world becasue my children have seen Disney movies or have played with other kids before.

I fell into a spiral of intense legalism on my part. Suddenly, nothing I did was good enough. If I took away cable, I had to only allow one DVD a week or they had "too much screen time" and that would somehow endanger our salvation.

If I allowed them to play with other children, I was allowing negative influences into their lives. Even though the only people I knew were other Christian homeschoolers!!

I was encouraged in certain books and discussions to keep them away from all children. My husband drew the line there again. He wants our children to have friends. Again, the only people they ever play with are other Christian, homeschooling kids from families that we know well. How is that not ok?

Then I was encouraged to have the children sitting quietly beside us in social situations instead of playing with other children because either the other kids would corrupt my kids, or my kids would corrupt the others. Oh brother. I began to get paranoid.

My husband again reminded me that God is in charge, not me. I can't police every moment that my children live. I have to allow them to play. My husband wants it that way.

I spent many long seasons trying to force absolute obedience from my children. I was told that if I did not, I was not following God's commands to train up my children. When I finally got over that lie, I saw that I had damaged relationship with my children in the quest to "look" perfect to others.

Again, I would be somewhere with arms full of squirmy toddlers or crying babies and my other little ones would get fidgety or even dare to speak their mind on an issue that was being discussed and other parents give me the eye. You know what I mean...that look that I have somehow failed miserable in my walk with the Lord if my child should dare to move or speak in public.

This world is not child friendly at all. Even those who claim to love children only do so when they are silent and still.

That may work for some families, but not mine. I am not saying that I encourage them to be wild or disobedient at all. I work consistently on discipline. The change in me is that I am no longer working to meet another families idea of what a disciplined child looks like.

I am seeking to know my children, walk along side them and love them. I am trying to love them as much as I can. We spent every day praying together, reading the Word and using every teachable moment to talk about God and His ways. When I was not cultivating relationship with them, they were resistant to what I had to say about God.

When I was yelling at them all the time to look and act a certain way, they did not want to follow me.

I am sorry that I spent so much time on that pursuit. No one was happy.

Now that we are working on issues in a loving, less fear driven way...they are happier and so am I. We took all 7 children to a wedding a week or so ago and they were delightful. We were so proud of them.

They were still and quiet when it was time to be and they were able to talk to adults in an intelligent way when they were talked to. Everyone commented on how well behaved they were. What a blessing to us both.

I was able to go to the wedding without tension and fear. We told them what was going on and how we wanted them to act. When my anxiety and tension were not present at what others might think of my children we had a totally wonderful time together.

Child discipline issues aside. I was also duped into thinking that I could not associate with anyone who was

1) Not a Christian and

2) Not "my kind" of Christian.

I had been told that there were regular Christians, or those who think they are saved, but are not really saved because they do not look as they should and are therefore probably deceived. I was told to avoid those people or my children would be corrupted. I have listened to sermons where the pastor will say that we are saved by grace, but then proceed to give a long list of ways that we need to change in order to get to heaven...huh?

I introduced such legalism into my children that they became afraid of the world in some ways. They were cruelly judgemental of any child that did not line up with what I had told them was acceptable. Yuck.

I am in the process of teaching my children that we are all in different places with God and it is not our place to judge another by our standards.

I have been accused of leaving the narrow path because I am teaching them to have grace and tolerance for others.
Why should that be? I am not telling my children to sin. I am still teaching them to follow God's laws as we understand them. I am just asking them to stop looking at the speck in their brothers eye and look to the log in their own.

I am telling them that what they see on the outside of someone is not always what is really going on. Sometimes, people are in pain, or crisis and they may come across in a way that they would not normally. Sometimes, people are low on faith, struggling and crying out in words or actions. That is not the time to judge them, but support them where they are and pray for them.

I have been in crisis these past 2 years and in many ways I still am struggling. I really needed some grace and love on so many fronts. I am sure that I have always acted the way that people think I should. That does not change my love for God or His ways. That just shows that I am human.

I am praying to understand God's love in a new way. I need Him to enable me to follow Him in the way that he wants me to instead of running after every new wind or doctrine.

Listening to my husband is a big step for me in that area. He really does have the balance that I need.

Emotional things are just easier for him.

So, now we are resting and looking around at the landscape around us and asking God which way to turn. Where can He best use a couple of un-perfect people to minister Christ's love to the hurting. How can we reach out where we need to.

The ministry to stop child sex trafficking that we got involved with has reminded us that there is a big, hurting world out there that we can reach without sacrificing our family in the process. We are praying for how and where to get involved in changing others lives with the gospel.

For now, I choose to close my ears to the ongoing debated and bickering about who is really saved. I am in the Word and in prayer. I choose to err on the side of grace.

I know I need that grace and love more than ever.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Messianic Dancing

This art work is entitled Dance of Deliverance...beautiful.

My Friend Stephanie invited me to go to a Messianic Dance Workshop with a group called Messianic Dance Camp International. I was really glad that I went. It was very moving for me.

I understand that the dances are intended to focus on worship of Jesus (Yeshua) and fellowship of believers I must say that I did feel a sweet presence of the Lord...however, it was hard for me to really feel like I was worshiping while I was trying not to run into someone!

Apparently, I am not very good at the turning in circles and going the right direction thing...I kept turning the wrong way (left, right...who can tell!) and stepping all over myself and messing up other dancers! They were very forgiving and patient with me! Considering it was my first time and all. I was not embarrassed at all, even when I messed up and that just goes to show how comfortable I felt there!

At one point...I actually got one dance right!

We danced for 3 about a work out!

If you get the chance to check this out...go for it! I may see you there!

My dear friend Stephanie.
Her beautiful daughter!

This week in photos.

Summer's last hurrah...finishing up what is left of the garden!

Valiant knights and beautiful princesses.

We took the kids to a Japanese restaurant that we used to go to when we only had one child. It was very different going with 7 children. For one thing, we needed 2 tables!
It is kind of neat because you can sit on the floor to eat...sort of, there is a hole for us American legs! Most of us would not make it sitting cross legged on the floor for an entire meal. It was nice to eat out again...a rare treat.

Of course we did lots of park days while the sun was still out. Here are just a few shots.

A dear friend of ours got married (finally! lol) this is his first marriage at age 52!

Pumpkin patch!