Remember

It is so easy to forget things that we are sure we never possibly could.

As for me, at times when I am weary and a bit overwhelmed with motherhood I might forget how desperate I was to be right here in the midst of this chaos with too little sleep and far more to do than I possibly can do. Not only might I be tempted to forget that this life with all it’s demands and stresses is an answer to prayer, I may also forget Who it was that answered that prayer and how He did so and what I promised in return.

I promised myself and I promised my God that I would love the children He gave me but, I would never forget they were His first and foremost. I was sure I never possibly could.

And yet, I do forget. I forget to remember. I forget that they are His and I am His. I forget that He is God and I am not. I forget that He knows what the future holds and can handle it. I forget with all my limits and failings and struggles, that He has no limits. I forget that though without Him I could not do it, I will never be without Him.

When I forget to remember I feel like everything is too much and too heavy. When I forget to remember I may slip into despair and confusion. I may lose my focus and my clarity. I may lose my hope and my wherewithal.

So, today and many days to come, when I close my eyes at night and say my prayers and prepare for rest, I will remember. I will refuse to worry and fret. I will remember who He is and who I am. I will remember whose they are and whose I am. I will remember. I will worship Him with my trust because He has proven Himself trustworthy.

I will remember because He remembered me.

“Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the lord. I asked the lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the lord, and he will belong to the lord his whole life.” And they worshiped the lord there. (1 Samuel 1:26-28 NLT)

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Extravagant Love

All across this land graduations are underway from kindergarten to high school to college. There have been plenty of proud moments and happy tears here in our household and I’m sure that holds true for so many others.

Last night we gathered together with friends and family to celebrate the graduation of one of our sons. What really stood out to me was the wonder and power of extravagant love as the evening progressed. We were SURROUNDED by it.

First there was the church staff and families of the church we have attended nearly six years. The measure of love that has been invested and extravagantly poured into the lives of our children while we called it home, has been astounding. Blessed!

Then there were friends that we have bonded with, grown with and weathered crisis’ with until we are so interwoven into each other’s lives and families, that connection will never be broken no matter how time passes and seasons change.

There was a bounty of love and one of the beautiful moments was the blessing of our son’s birth sister and her family attend as well.

You see, when love is done right and last night it was done right, when love is extravagant, there are no boundaries that can withstand the breathtaking power of LOVE. Love breaks down the walls that would otherwise divide us.

“He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. (Ephesians 2:14b NLT)

#intheendlovewins

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Stir in the Sauce

Spaghetti is a family favorite for many families including mine. It is simple, tasty and let’s face it, it stretches. Whether your family is XL like mine or you’re on a budget (also like mine) or you find yourself suddenly needing to provide dinner for more than you were counting on, spaghetti is a proven stand-by to satisfy.

The thing is, sometimes you need to stretch even a little further and stir in the sauce. Here’s what I mean. Years ago when my sister, Tamara, had two sets of twins (yes two) and they were all little she was having a family dinner for a special occasion. I can’t remember what the special occasion was but, I remember Tammy’s words about her spaghetti. I had told her it was good and I had never thought of stirring in the sauce like she did instead of serving it on top of a pile of noodles. Here is what she said in reply. “That’s the only way I can manage a spaghetti dinner for a crowd right now. I have to stir in the sauce and make it stretch.”

I thought of her words this morning as I was doing some meal prep early while most of the house slept and as I worked on the dish, I developed a plan. You see, Daddy had cooked last night while I was out and there was about three times as much noodles as sauce. I had bought extra pasta and he cooked it all. As I sorted through entangled noodles I knew the first step was to remove a few parts that just couldn’t be blended in. They were clumped together and would be thrown to the chickens later. The next thing was obvious, I’d have to stir in the sauce. When even that wasn’t enough, I added some Italian tomatoes and seasoning and Parmesan until I finally had done all I could do.

Standing there alone with bare feet on an yet unswept floor that needed it badly, I stared at the noodles that had been transformed into what would be heralded later today as good baked spaghetti. I pondered that this was a good image of my life lately. Time and time again I found had way more pasta than I needed, some had not cooked properly because there wasn’t room in the pan and finally, not enough sauce.

How about you? Have you been feeling stretched lately, not enough, less than you need and inadequate?

It may be time to sort through your entanglements and remove the parts that just won’t blend in. You know, just like those noodles that get all clumped together and ruin the whole dish. Toss them out. Throw ’em to the chickens.

Then you can stir in the sauce. Be honest, is the flavor of what you have to offer being stretched so thin that what you are serving up isn’t savory at all? If so, you better find some new ingredients and don’t be afraid to try something you haven’t tried before.

What is in the cupboards of your heart? Has it been too long since you filled up with the staples every woman needs. When is the last time you had a facial or a long bubble bath? What portion of your day do you spend in prayer and with the Bible? Who comprises your support team, your soul sisters? Why don’t you consider doing things differently today? This week? This month? See if you can re-discover your full flavor and then, watch the transformation that occurs when you stir in the sauce.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13

Other Women

Some of my favorite people to study in the Bible are women. I enjoy studying them because I don’t often hear them taught on and I am fascinated by their stories, their contribution to my spiritual heritage. I learn from them. I am challenged and inspired by them. I am encouraged by them. Many times, just as with their male counterparts, they were the most unlikely candidates to play the role they did in the epic and life-changing events they faced. Yet, their strength and dedication to do what was right is nothing short of amazing. (We will leave the ladies who were determined to create chaos and cause harm for another day).

Today, I want to focus on some lesser known ladies who deserve to be honored, recognized and celebrated. What better time than the week following Mother’s Day? We know a few names but some are only known as ‘other women’. I could stop right there and instantly feel a camaraderie with these women. As mothers, as wives, as women in the workplace, as women in the marketplace, we sometimes feel a bit nameless ourselves as we make things happen for everyone around us. Some may accuse us at times of self-imposed martyrdom and servitude, but, there is a difference when you are a disciple. These lesser known and sometimes nameless women that we will look at today were indeed disciples of Jesus. They made a difference. They had a purpose. They impacted their world.

In Luke 8:1-3 we find mention of this particular group. Here is a portion of that passage.”

“Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with Him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases.”

It goes on to name three of the women who were accompanying Jesus and the male disciples. They were not just ‘fans’ who were hanging around on the outskirts hoping to catch a glimpse or have some interaction with Team Jesus. Jesus took them along. They had a purpose, a part to play. The women named were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; and Susanna. It also says there were many other women who were also contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his ministry.

Here is what we know about these women from this brief account.

They had their OWN encounter with Jesus.
They had their OWN calling from Jesus.
They had their OWN resources to give to Jesus.

We may sometimes feel nameless and as if our world rotates around others and their needs, but, just like these ladies, we can experience Jesus for ourselves, answer a unique call, operate in ministry and recognize that we have something to offer because of who we are and how we were lovingly designed. When it comes to our relationship with Jesus, we don’t have to be a bench warmer or a cheerleader, we can play in the game.

The next time that Luke mentions these ladies is in Chapter 24. He says that Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and several other women went to visit the tomb where Jesus had been buried so they could minister one last time to their teacher.

Here is what we learn about these women from this account of that day that changed the whole world.

They were up early.
They went prepared.
They were puzzled and perplexed when their plan was changed suddenly.
They were terrified and alarmed while they tried to figure it all out.
THEN they remembered what Jesus had said.
They rushed back to give the report of what they had seen.

Sound like anyone you know? Yep, these were genuine, real life, sure enough women, just like you and me. They knew all about needing a schedule and having a plan and doing the things that need doing.

With their OWN eyes, they told their OWN story, of their OWN first hand account of an astounding miracle. Guess what happened next? Guess what the very next verse says? After they’ve truthfully explained what they had seen, experienced and encountered, this was the response.

“But, the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it.” Luke 24:11

Here is the crux of the matter. Here is what I want to say to you today. If you are waiting to share your vision, declare your faith, express yourself and your views until there will be no naysayers and no critics, stop it. Stop waiting and start experiencing, sharing, telling, preparing and answering the call on your life.

You have a purpose, a place, a position on Team Jesus that is perfect for you. Suit up and put on your disciple jersey that is custom made with your name on the back. No one else can wear it like you can because it is yours. Go and tell your story, invest from your own resources and change the world around you. Make a Difference.

A Bouquet of Forgiveness for Mother’s Day

So, today, the day before Mother’s Day, I have forgiveness on my mind.

Last night during the night I was praying and honestly, I was fretting. I was fretting about my own shortcomings as a mother and I was rehearsing regrets. Things I wished I had done differently, done sooner or not done at all. I finally was at the point of tears. This is not the point you want to be at when the clock says 3am. Mother’s Day can be such an emotional time for us moms.

I found myself considering one of the few serious scenes in the very funny movie I attended last night. This young momma was beating herself up pretty bad, feeling like a total failure and this big biker guy (famous country music singer) asks her who is it she’s not enough for? Finally it comes down to she isn’t enough for herself. That touched me. It made me think.

Another mom in the movie had a teen daughter and she was working hard to help her daughter not repeat her own mistakes. Still, yet, another mom was single and feeling destitute and hopeless. I think, this is a fairly accurate overview of the mental anguish a mom can put herself through.

I don’t know of a single mom who has not struggled with feeling inadequate. At one point, the main mom in the movie said she didn’t deserve to be celebrated (in reference to Mother’s Day). I can relate. If you are a mom, you can relate, if you are honest enough to admit it.

We get on FB and post our happy moments and we go to church and put on our happy faces. We look in the mirror and stare into our own eyes and will ourselves to press on and try harder and do better in spite of our weary bodies and our worried hearts.

We worry if we are being too strict or too lenient. We worry if we are messing our kids up for life or if we have allowed other people to do so. We worry about their futures and their spouses and their happiness and safety. We worry that whatever happens will in the end be our fault and if we could have some how prevented it. Sometimes I think the word mother is a synonym of worry.

We are so hard on ourselves. And so today, I’d like to encourage us moms with an early Mom’s Day gift to ourselves! Forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for those ‘mommy moments’ of lost composure and raised voices. Forgive yourself for overindulging or neglectful busy-ness. Forgive yourself for unkind words or bad attitudes. Ask The Lord to forgive you, ask your kids if need be and receive that forgiveness. It will be the sweetest smelling Mother’s Day gift you ever received, a bouquet of forgiveness.

Happy Mother’s Day from this less than perfect but trying my best momma to you! We haven’t failed until we’ve stopped trying.

I Beg to Differ

This may not be the most popular of posts. I’m choosing to write it with that full understanding. You see, I’ve been reading a lot of articles, seeing cleverly done videos and impassioned views about awful/terrible/horrible social media. But, honestly, I beg to differ.

Social media has been a tremendous blessing in my life and I enjoy it very much. I have re-connected with former foster children, cousins I’d lost touch with and my lovely college roommates. Because of social media I get to peek into the windows of the lives of people I love but am many miles away from. Through social media I have developed real relationships with real people in other countries and places I have never been. I have been able to minister to, share devotions, teach, pray for, inspire, encourage, advise and connect with people that my present season as a homeschooling, stay at home #momofmany would never have allowed me to.

Can social media be bad? Well, not really. No more than a gun can be bad in it’s own right. Used properly, it can be a wonderful tool to accomplish a worthy purpose. In the hands of a foolish person, social media can be a travesty, a waste, destructive and dangerous – as could a gun, a club, a wrench or words being spewed out from a hateful tongue in person.

The problem is not any of these things, it is the people using them. Some people get carried away. They get angry. They have no sense of discretion. They may not practice common sense, common kindness or common decency. People can take what could be a useful thing and misuse it until society is in an uproar about it. People, you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them.

As a foster mother for fifteen years and now the adoptive mother of seven, I have been able to draw on resources such as blogs and chat groups who were facing similar circumstances that my ‘real life’ friends and family had no experience with. I was not shutting out the world, I was expanding my world. As a writer, I have gleaned so much from support groups and web pages, it is immeasurable.

The real culprit here is not social media. There is a deeper matter here that needs attending to. It is a matter of the heart. If you are ignoring your children to chat with internet buddies, stop it. But, understand this, if you had no internet, you may still do the same thing. If a person is intent on avoiding their real life they will find a way to do so. There are many ways to escape. In the past there were moms who escaped into the fantasy world of soap operas. How about books? You can hide there too. Working extra hours? Over committed at church? Such a busy schedule that you never see those you are avoiding? Drugs? Alcohol? If you are determined to escape reality, you’ll find your tool, but don’t blame the tool.

Moderation seems to be an almost obsolete concept. Moderation is a Biblical concept and for those who call ourselves Christians, it should be a healthy goal to strive for. When applied to the way we live our lives it keeps us out of the ditches of extreme behavior and extreme consequences.

If you have gotten carried away with your use of social media or your consumption of chocolate bars, develop a strategy to address it. But, don’t get on social media and tell people how bad social media is. Does anyone else see the irony in this? Don’t tell people to put down their phones, put down yours if you need to. Demonstrate moderation. Be an example of doing it right. If you are going to have a Facebook page or a shotgun. Learn to use it properly and practice safety measures. But, don’t tell me I shouldn’t have one because you don’t know how to use one.