Finding the Meaning, Joy and Purpose…

…in the chaos and the crazy

Listening To His Voice

(This was written 5 years ago.  I still remember both days so well, and brings back memories of my sweet little 4 year old Monkey Boy.  He’s still sweet, but I miss the sweet little preschooler that he was.  I am thankful that he still chooses to use his words to encourage and bless me)

Two things have happened in the last week that really have me amazed.  Amazed by God, His perfect timing, and His perseverance to reach me.  Last Tuesday morning, I really wanted to take Luke to the library.  We hadn’t been for a few weeks since we’d been on vacation and the start of the school year was a flurry of activity and newness.  But as much as I told Luke I wanted to go, he repeatedly responded with the statement, “My heart doesnt want to go to the library.”  Odd….he never talks about his heart….he never said he didn’t want to go his heart didn’t want to go.  I pushed, cajoled, and finally after repeated conversations, decided to listen to his heart, and put my plans on hold.  Little did I realize at the time, it was who is in his heart that was sending that message.

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About an hour later, a friend of mine called about a shooting that happened at the library that morning.  A murder/suicide.  I knew no details……..except that Luke’s heart told us not to be there.  I almost fell over.  Here was my little, innocent 4-year-old, with the Holy Spirit speaking through him.  The ‘what if’s…” started running through my mind.  I was humbled, amazed, shocked, and grateful that I listened to God’s voice, which happened to come through my 4-year-old.  I know Luke’s voice, I hear it every day, all day, but this time, something was different.  God knows I’m stubborn, and strong-willed. He knew he needed to speak clearly and differently…and it still took me a little while to respond to his prompting.

We did find out later that the shooting took place in the parking lot before the time we would’ve arrived.  But, even still, who knows what Luke’s precious, innocent eyes might have seen as we arrived.  God does, and that’s why he wanted to protect us from that.  I know he wanted to protect Luke’s innocence.  And I’m so very thankful that I put aside my agenda to listen to His voice.

This morning, we were in the middle of the usual morning push to get the boys out the door for school.  It’s raining today, so that added a catch in our usual plans.  I’m committed to walking to school as long as we can before the winter blast of cold really kicks in.  But today, I had resigned myself to the fact that I was driving.  But time, as usual, was escaping us and I was frantically packing lunchboxes when I realized that the freezer just didn’t feel very cold.  This quickly turned into me realizing that food was melted in the freezer.  This is the second time this has happened since we moved in 3 months ago.  Needless to say, I was very frustrated.  Of course, this is putting it politely!  Here it’s a rainy, ugly day out, I have a million things on my to-do list, and now I have a freezer full of melting food.  Not a shining moment in my response.  I was less that gracious about this new development.  I quickly called Ian at work.  Why?  He couldn’t do anything from there….I just wanted to vent and b&m.  Not mature, I admit.  Not proud of my reaction.  Not a response, but a reaction.  The knee-jerk kind of reaction that I always regret.  I know better, I am better, but these are the kind of weak moments that get me.  A real area that I need to intentionally grow and change.  An area that I need God’s grace to help me grow.

So in the midst of my anger and annoyance, I’m on my cell with Ian when my other line beeped in.  Weird, it’s 8:15 and someone’s calling me on my cell?  I don’t recognize the number……..why should I answer it?  Probably a wrong number……but yet, my curiosity got the best of me!  I switched over and it was a woman from church.  Don’t know her well….but as she tells me who it is, she tells me she felt God telling her to call and encourage me this morning.  Again……I’m amazed, humbled and grateful that I again stopped to listen to God’s voice.  I again struggled to want to keep on my agenda, but was thankful that I put mine aside to listen to His.

You never know how or when God is going to speak to you…..it could be through your tiny child, an acquaintance about to be a friend, or a stranger.  I’m thankful that in the last week, I’ve been able to hear Him twice.  I’m thankful that I’ve stopped to listen.  But how many times have I missed?  How many opportunities have I missed?  How many times have I chosen to listen to my voice instead of the one calling me to reveal His love, care and encouragement?  And have I been faithful to reveal His voice to others?  I know I have in the past, but how many opportunities to share His love and encouragement have I been too busy to hear?  Really makes me think and reflect……….

Dear precious Lord, I thank you for your amazing love.  I do not deserve your grace and persistence in trying to reach me but I humbly accept it.  Please help me to ignore my own voice to hear yours.  I thank you for placing others in my life that bless me by sharing You with me.  Please help me to share your voice with others.  I desire to me more like you.  Please speak to me through your Holy Spirit.  In Your precious Son’s name, amen.

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May I be a Noticer

kitchen mess dark

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Notice

(maybe this time I’m writing this I’ll notice I should save this before I try to add images to it 😉

I’m good at noticing…it’s just what I notice that is the problem.

The shoes left on the floor under the coffee table, the handprint on the refrigerator, the dirty dishes carelessly thrown in the sink, the terse response to a question, the bickering of my boys.

I notice those things…like a boss.

But it’s the important things, the meaningful things, the joyful moments, I often forget to notice.

The way my boys always say ‘I love you” before they hang up the phone from talking with me (unless they call from school and there’s a girl with them…but that’s a whole other post ;)…even if they just spoke to me on the phone 2 minutes earlier.

The long hug from my husband for no reason.

The coffee pot filled with water and coffee grounds waiting for me for the morning, set by my sweet, sweet new teenager.

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Seeing this last night, after we had been out at Mr. Football’s football banquet, made my heart melt.

I could’ve focused on the sneakers and snow boots left strewn around the house, the binders and books left on the kitchen table, the Nerf bullets littering the floors, but seeing that my boys thought of a way to bless me…to notice something about their momma that she loves, and still needed to be done…it reminds me that they are noticing me.

And that’s a blessing and a huge responsibility.  Because as they notice how I go through my moments, my days, my years, I am modeling how to follow Christ.  How to respond with love to the strewn about shoes, handprints on the refrigerator, and the dirty dishes.  The chaos and crazy of life on this earth.  And if I’m not noticing the meaning, the joy and the purpose of it all, I’m missing the whole point of the time I spent this side of eternity.

May I become a noticer of the good, and an ignorer of the bad.

May that be a legacy I pass on to my kids.

And I pray that it is one you leave for your loved ones too.

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The Crossing Guard

Do you ever have someone in your life that, no matter how well you do or don’t know them, they are a fixture in your day?

I sure do, or more correctly, did.

He was a crossing guard.  His name is Frank, and I only know that because I saw a picture of him in the newsapaper last 4th of July at a holiday event in town.  He was playing a bugle.
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But for the last 3 years, every day that I went to work, I would see him on the corner of the street my ‘little kids’ live on.  And every morning, and every afternoon, as he grinned and waved to me, I grinned and waved back.  Rain, snow, bitter cold, my crossing guard was there, grinning at me and lighting up my day, lighting up my heart.  Many days, I’d roll down my window and we’d chat.  He’d fuss over my puppy, say hi to my boys if I had them with me, chat about the weather, my boys football games.  But no matter what he said, my heart heard love.   How absurd it sounds to me to write the words that I loved this almost stranger. And that he loved me.  But that’s how it feels.  A man that brightened my day, made me feel special, made me feel seen, despite being in a minivan full of kids, dogs, stuff.  Despite the ‘stuff’ that might be going on in my head, I knew I would get a huge smile and wave.  And even, if only for a minute, my heart would soar.  Because I was seen.  In the middle of my day, my routine, my stuff, I was seen.  

And I wasnt just noticed, I was seen, appreciated, worthy, important.  

And now I realize that my crossing guard is a whole lot like Jesus.  In the middle of my day, my routine, my chaos and crazy, surrounded by kids, dogs, stuff….He sees me.  And He loves me.  Just because I’m there, just because I’m me.  Do I have a relationship with Him because I have placed my faith in Him and asked Him to be my Savior?  Of course.  But at it’s simplest, most basic…He loves me because I’m here, because I’m me.  And that makes my heart soar.  Because sometimes, I feel like I’m not seen.  Like those closest to me don’t really see me in the midst of all the crazy and all the chaos. But Jesus does. And He loves me, in spite of it all.
Maybe it’s really Jesus standing at that corner, stop sign in hand, orange safety vest and baseball cap  on, grinning at me and waving.  Saying, “I see you.  I love you.  You matter.”

And that’s more than enough.

Dear Lord, thank you for my crossing guard.  Thank you for placing someone in my life to brighten my days and make me feel loved.  I am in awe that such a simple gesture can stir emotions in my heart that I didn’t realize were there.
Please  guide and strengthen me to be a crossing guard in other people’s lives.  Not just the people who might be ‘driving by’ in my life, but those you have placed closest.  The ones that in the crazy and the chaos it can, sadly, be most difficult for me to press pause and truly see.  My boys, my husband, my friends.  The ones I’m so familiar with, the ones that know I love them, no matter what.  They matter too. They are my most important.  Please help me to take the time to put up my stop sign, stop the traffic in my head and heart, and just grin and wave.  And really see them.      
And then this school year started.  But my crossing guard didn’t.  He’s gone.  And he took a piece of my heart with me.
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Still

Oh…still.  That’s something I hardly ever am.

Still.

Of course, us believers know Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

Know He’s God?  I’ve got that.  But the still part?  That’s much harder.

This week I was forced to be still with my son, who was in the hospital for observation for seizures for 3 days.  He literally had to be still.  He had 23 electrodes glued to his head that were attached to a snazzy electrical board that he kept in a little backpack.  Want to hear God’s sense of humor?  The backpack they brought him had a monkey on it.  For my “Monkey Boy”…I knew God was in this whole thing when I saw the monkey backpack.

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Always with a sense of humor and a whole lot of joy!!!

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This is what 23 wires, a red china marker and a lot of glue looks like on a sweet little head!

Anyway, not only was he glued and wired up, but there was a huge cord that attached all this fun stuff to an outlet on the wall.  With a  thick cord that stretched….right to the door of our hospital room.  He could creep a toe out at best.

He was still this week.

And he got antsy at times, what 9 year old wouldn’t, but we had such a delightful time together.  I thoroughly enjoyed being still with him.  So much so, that we both were a little sad when they discharged him.

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Have I mentioned we call this adorable Batman celebrating No Shave November Monkey Boy? There’s good reason!

We wanted more time.  Time to be still.  Time to enjoy each other’s company.  Time to ignore the outside world and focus on each other.

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This…this is the joy of being still with my boy!

And as I type this…I realize….that’s what my God wants from me too.

He wants me to take time to be still with Him.  Take time to enjoy His company.  Take time to ignore the outside world and focus on Him.

But He needed to get me still before, in the chaos and crazy of my life and my head, I’d remember this important truth.

And I need to take His challenge to be Still before Him.  I will be all the better, stronger, and more peaceful for it.

I hope you’ll join me…well, really join HIM.

And I’ll start today.

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The Upside of Down…

(originally posted 7/13/13)

We’ve been listening to Chris August’s new CD often in the car while we drive around the beautiful country here in Pennsylvania. Although this isn’t my favorite song on the CD, its a close second because the words so eloquently describe how I so often feel.

I think Chris sums it up perfectly, and this song reminds me not only of my shortcomings (which are forgiven by my Holy God) but also why difficult times are not only beneficial in my life, but in my relationship with Jesus.

May God continue to challenge me to look to Him each day, in everything…on the upside and downside!!!

The downside of being up is my inside is empty of

The one thing my heart truly needs

When I feel invincible a million miles from miserable

It’s always all about me

I don’t know why I don’t love You like I should, like You would

Through bad and good oh

[Chorus:]

Funny how we figure out where happiness is found

In the midst of this sadness I’m closer to You now

And that’s the upside of down, the upside of down

It’s all switched around, I lost and I found

The upside of down

You are more in my less, You are strength in my weakness

I’ll never go back again

And then Your sunshine ends the rain and I return to my old ways

Why am I a fair weather friend?

I wanna be the one to love You like I should, like You would

Through the bad and good oh

Funny how we figure out where happiness is found

In the midst of this sadness I’m closer to You now

That’s the upside of tragedies knowing You’re holding my heart always, always

I may be down but I’m finding there’s joy in the pain, in the pain

Funny how we figure out where happiness is found

In the midst of this sadness I’m closer, I’m closer to You now and oh

[Chorus]

The upside of down

It’s all switched around, I lost and I found

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Let the Light Shine…

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(originally posted Sept 15, 2009)

Every morning, the sun rises in our backyard, over the nature preserve.  As the sun rises, it shines, and often blasts, into our kitchen.  I’m always so thankful for the transformation the kitchen experiences from a dark, predawn room into a bright and cheery room, full of  light, cool air, and the beautiful sounds of the birds and other creatures outside.  My 3 ‘creatures’ inside add a good bit of sounds, too.  From laughter, singing, and the occasional argument, you never know what sounds you’ll hear!

I often notice how my mood changes with the rising of the sun.  When it’s dark, I can feel dreary (especially when I realize I forgot to add the coffee grounds into the coffee pot last night!) and as the sun rises over the horizon, I feel lighter, happier and full of anticipation for a new day.

I realize my journey with the Lord is quite like that.  I was in the dark before I accepted Christ into my life.  But when He shined his light into my life, I lit up with His love.  My eternity was brought into the light, too.  But then, there was a time that I left the light.  I thought I could do life better on my own.  Did lots in the ‘darkness’ that I wish I hadn’t.  Many regrets of stupid choices I made while not in the light.  Living for myself was not the way.  BUT, the best part, was that He never gave up on me.  Not that I deserved it.  I left everything I grew up learning, believing and living for.  But He never gave up on me.  He was faithful, when I didn’t deserve it.  He saved me, when I didn’t deserve it.  He protected me, when I didn’t deserve it.  He loved me, when I didn’t deserve it.  When all I did was ignore Him and what I knew was right, He was still right there, loving me, protecting me, and forgiving me.  I am humbled beyond words at His faithfulness in His love, protection and grace.  I do not deserve any of these, but accept them in awe.

So where does my kitchen fit in all of this?  As I was making my second pot of coffee this morning (well, third if you count the one I made without adding the coffee grounds!) I was noticing how dirty my coffee maker is.  Lots of spots and water marks all over it.  I’ve noticed this a few days now, just never gotten around to wiping it down, because when I notice it, I’m usually busy making breakfast and packing lunches, so I don’t take the time to do it.  But here’s why I don’t go back and do it later….I really can’t see the dirty, spots, imperfections unless the sun is shining right on it.  Can’t see it except for the early morning when the sun is shining down low in the windows.   And I realized something this morning……… my life and faith are just like that!!!!!!  When I’m spending time with God, reading the Bible, praying, serving him, in His light, he shines on my  spots, dirty places and imperfections.  He reveals to me what needs some cleaning, washing, refining.  But when I’m not close to Him on a daily and constant basis, when He’s not a priority, I look ‘clean’, enough.  But I need His light to clean me up constantly!

Lord, please shine your Light into my life.  I need your refining light to reveal to me what areas of my life need cleaning up.  I know you speak to me in many ways, and I trust you.  Please give me the strength to clean up the areas that you reveal to me.  Knowing what they are is only part of the journey, but I pray that you would also reveal how to clean these imperfections, and keep them that way.  I thank you for your love, faithfulness and grace.  In Your precious son Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Lucky 13…

This is my 13th written post on the blog this month.  I’ve posted a few images, and though I guess they ‘count’ as posts for the #Write31Days challenge, I don’t consider them as ‘real’ posts.I actually didn’t realize I had written that many posts, it feels like I haven’t written that much.  A little more than every 2 days for an average isn’t bad…not what I had hoped for, but especially since my series is about Letting Go of distractions and perfectionism, I think I’m growing in one area, and digressing in another.  I’ll let you choose which is which. 😉

I am proud of myself for not beating myself up for not writing every day.  That’s huge for me!!!  And I’m doubly proud of myself for not giving up entirely since I didn’t stick with my original plan to write and post every day.  I unfortunately have a tendency to go with a ‘all or nothing’ approach to commitments.  And since I ‘blew’ it early on by not writing and posting every day, my default would be to give up.  But I haven’t, and for that I say…

GO ME!!

This month has been unusually busy, so the distractions have been many.  But have they been good!!!

First we had our ‘oldest son’ come visit us.  When he was in college, he spent a lot of time with our family, and even lived with us for part of a summer.  He’s currently raising support to move to Turkey to spread the Gospel.  Hopefully he’ll guest post someday here.  It was so wonderful to see him.  Our boys hadn’t seen him since we moved to Michigan 5 years ago, and me and Hubs hadn’t seen him for 2 years.  What a blessing it is to see how on fire he is for the Lord.  I cannot wait to hear how lives are transformed as he tells the story of Jesus to people who haven’t yet heard.

IMG_0132  All my boys together again!!!!!

(of course his visit included football!)

Then my parents came to visit for a week.  It is always wonderful to spend time with them.  I love that they are both retired and take the time to come to visit us a few times a year.

Imagine that…

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 …more football!

Did I mention that Mr. Football got moved up to practice with the Varsity team for playoffs?  We all might be a tad bit excited and crazy proud of him!  This Friday he will be on the sidelines (I don’t dare hope he’ll actually get in for a play!) dressed in a varsity uniform.  Proud Momma moment!!!  And if/when they win..he’ll be able to letter.  Pretty awesome for a freshman!!!  What a great way to show kids that hard work pays off.

So for our 3rd and final (I sure hope;) distraction of the month…comes this guy!!!!

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IMG_0261 Named after this guy!

Yes..I evidently needed to add some more chaos and crazy into our lives by adopting this cutie.  But with crazy and chaos comes meaning, joy and purpose, and I’m thankful for the joy he brings and the ability to give a sweet little stray pup a loving family.  The more the merrier!  I hope that showing our boys there’s ‘always room for one more’ whether a college student, visiting family members, or furry friend, will give them purpose and meaning in their lives.

May we love because He first loved us.

And may we always have room in our hearts, our homes, our lives, for one more.

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My Epiphany…or My DUH Moment… You Choose…

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Maybe you’ve realized this…and maybe I’m really dense…but after writing Thank You For Being There…

I had a lightbulb moment…

Not all distractions are bad!!!

Well DUH!

I am sometimes amazed at how the simplest things are hidden in my mind.

Taking care of my son that night while he had a migraine (and ironically I had a horrible headache) was the last thing on my to do list that night.  And I guess, in reality, I could’ve not laid with him, held the puke bucket, prayed relentlessly, rubbed his back, or tried to comfort him.  But in the amazing blessing of the way God has made me…not ‘being there’ for him wasn’t even a choice for me.  It never crossed my mind.

I was both encouraged and saddened to hear from a friend after she read that post, that she wished her mom would’ve comforted her when she was a child like I did for Monkey Boy that night.  I truly can’t imagine not ‘being there’ for one of my kids in a situation like that.  I know that she has changed that cycle in her family, and I thank God for that.

God has blessed me with so many beautiful distractions.

And when I don’t give that hug, that smile, that word of encouragement, a moment of time to really listen,  the person who would receive it isn’t the only one missing out.  I miss out too.  I miss out on the joy and purpose that God has given me…to enjoy those He has placed in my life, to love them well and most importantly, to point them to Him.

May I not miss another beautiful God-given distraction in the midst of my chaos and crazy…and may I love my distractions well.

What God-given distractions do you need to give more attention, more love?
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Thank You For Being There…

Last night, Monkey Boy had another migraine. Terrible, horrible, no good very bad day kind of migraine. And it started right as I had a horrible headache kicking in. And had just walked in the door from a very long day and evening. So away to his bed we went…yellow barf bowl in hand… And minutes after getting to his room, it was already in use. I had a dreadful feeling that t it was going to be a long night. And, sadly, I wasn’t wrong. Thrashing in pain, crying, throwing covers off, begging for the pain to stop, puking…this was our night. And if you knew my sweet, sweet boy, you would know that all of these things are so out of character. He has actually begged to die during migraines before.

You can imagine how this tears into my momma heart. I would do anything to make him feel better…but I just can’t. For some reason, the medicine wasn’t working, and most of my ways of trying to calm him down weren’t working. At one point, while I was trying to give him another dose of his migraine meds (a tiny little pill), he threw his arms around, elbowing me and sending the tiny pill flying…in the dark onto his bed. Thankfully I felt around and found it quickly.

He did have periods of time when he would quiet and rest rather peacefully. At one point, I thought it had finally passed, and I started to roll over to get up out of the bed. The sweet thing grabbed my hand. No words were needed to tell me he still needed me to stay with him.

holding hands

I continued to lay with him, my mind reeling with things I could be, should be doing, like sleeping. I finally dozed off after midnight, and when I woke up at 1:15 and he was sleeping soundly, I decided it was safe to climb into my own bed. I was so tired, I even contemplated going to bed in my clothes. The thought of sleeping in jeans instead of comfy pajama pants changed my mind.

The next morning, I roused myself begrudgingly out of bed and straight to the coffee pot. I somehow made it through getting Mr Football fed breakfast and off to school…though I think I was sleepwalking.

And when it was time for him to get up…here comes Monkey Boy practically bounding into the kitchen! I asked how he was feeling and he said ‘good!’

Really??? This boy who was so manic, writhing in pain hours before was good?
And then, my precious boy did something I will never forget. He wrapped his arms around me, hugged me tight and simply said, “Thank you for being there.”
I’ve never heard him say a thank you like this…and as he said it, my heart melted. For a ‘words of affirmation’ girl like me, he couldn’t have said or done anything better. Those simple words were a gift to me. They told me that he appreciated me, loved me, recognized my sacrifice to support him through an emotional night, and most of all, that when he knew he needed to be comforted, he could count on me.
Sometimes the simplest words, the simplest deeds, can be the most meaningful. I am so thankful for a boy who is so generous with his words that he makes a weary, struggling momma feel like she’s not screwing everything up. Like maybe some of what she does really does matter (even if deep down she knows it does) and she is appreciated for who she is and all she does.

Who can you tell “Thank you for being there” today?  I promise you both will be blessed if you tell them!!

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This is a picture of my silly Monkey Boy the morning after his migraine.  Isn’t he adorably crazy?

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