Friday, May 3, 2013

Movin' On

Hello dear friends!

There is a time for everything... - Ecclesiastes 3:1a

Welcome to the last blog post on this website.  I am moving my blog to a new website, effective immediately.  Please go sign up to receive my posts there!

The archives are there, or as much of them as I could grab. 

I look forward to seeing you on the new website!

- Liz

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sun in My Eyes

With the lengthening spring days, the sun is higher in the sky in the morning...and right in my eyes on part of my morning walk.

As I travel the road, I weave in and out of shadows and light, sometimes blinded as I turn a corner or walk between the outline of houses. The other day, as I came around one corner, a school bus was headed down the road toward me. Except for the small headlights on the front of the bus, I could not see the bus at all, only the glare of sun streaming around.

You know, that's how I want to live my Christian life.

I want people who meet me to be so dazzled by the brilliance of Christ that they can see nothing else.

A big part of how people see me, of course, is based on my attitude.   Am I looking for opportunities to be that light for Christ, or am I, quite literally, hiding my light under a bushel? 

I have a quote on my bathroom mirror that is based on a sermon I heard a few weeks ago:

Expect Divine Appointments Every Day

These appointments can come in various shapes and sizes, not always what I expect.  Whether it is as a friend who has a hug of encouragement; a widow who can say to a new widow/widower, "I get it;"  words on a page that touch someone; or as a mom who gives empathy to her own child, I can serve our living God...

...but only if I am looking to serve Him.

Lord, please help me to be willing and able to look outside myself each and every day in order to see the opportunities You put before me, to further Your kingdom and accomplish the work You have purposed here.  Amen.

"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." - Matthew 5:14-15

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Power in the Storm

In the past couple years, our part of Virginia has become famous for microbursts...small but damaging storms that whip in with the speed of a tornado and wreak havoc on anything in their path.

During one the other day, we watched our back fence flap like a sheet caught by the wind.  We stood, helpless, praying that it would stay intact.  Blessedly, it is still standing...leaning, but standing.

We did, however, lose power.  That is pretty typical for us when we have a storm of any magnitude hit.  Our neighborhood tends to have it out sooner, longer, and more often than many of the neighborhoods in our county.  This time, it was out for only fifteen hours. 

It comes down to a sometimes-unreliable power grid in our part of the county.  New developments like ours were thrown up quickly and added to the power grid piecemeal in a short time, rather than in an organized, ongoing fashion.  Thus, taxing storms find the weak links and prey on them, causing us to be on the losing end...and without power.

I'm so glad God isn't like that!

I did not walk in an orderly fashion to Him.  I did not grow up in the church.  I came, broken and tired, haphazard in my knowledge and understanding.  But...He was, and is, there.  The ultimate source of power and strength.

Even now, when I have been walking with Him for years in my grid of life, I can get thrown into turmoil by the happenings around me.  But...His power is constant.  His love does not go out.  I can always come home to the Light of my life.

I heard once many years ago that an excellent picture of Jesus can be found by taking I Corinthians 13:4-8a and substituting Jesus for every instance of love.  Here is what we can, then, expect our Savior to be:

Jesus is patient
Jesus is kind
He does not envy,
He does not boast,
He is not proud.
He does not dishonor others,
He is not self-seeking,
He is not easily angered,
He keeps no record of wrongs.
Jesus does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Jesus never fails.

Now that is a Power Source that I can trust, no matter what the storms of life may bring!

Praise God!  Amen and amen!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. - Hebrews 13:8

Sunday, April 21, 2013

How We Communicate

I was out running errands yesterday when I got the following text from my eldest:

Tanner just puked.

About ten minutes later, I get another text:

Matthew just puked.

Now, this was not totally unexpected in our house.  My eldest and I had had the virus earlier in the week.  We thought it had missed the others...obviously not.

After praising God for a son who can deal with vomit and for other kids who have pretty good toilet aim, I finished my shopping and headed home.

At each stop light on the way home, I started the texting brigade to deal with the fallout of this situation.

There were plans to change, rides to set up, prayers to solicit.

But, praise God, by the time I got home, all was prepared and a busy Sunday could continue, minus the puking part of the Wright family.

Texting often gets a bad rap.  I have heard people say it is not a replacement for face-to-face communication.  I agree with that whole-heartedly.

In this situation, though, a microburst of information to different people had to go out, and I made wise use of my time at stop lights to take care of the details of things.

In my opinion, this situation was quicker and easier to deal with for all the parties involved by having the technology and using it to my advantage.

Our communication with God is just the same. 

God understands our "hail mary" prayers, and I think honors them.  When the going gets tough, the tough go to their knees, mentally if not physically.

But that does not substitute for quiet time with God, listening for His small, still voice.  That is often hard to do in our busy-busy-hurry-hurry world.

The how is not the important part, nor the where.  As a busy mom, I have kept a devotion book in my bathroom for years.  Sometimes the only alone time I have is a few minutes behind closed, locked doors while I take care of other matters.

Nowadays, for me, that time usually comes during my daily walks around our neighborhood.  Some days, I raise my hands in praise, some days I have tears streaming down my face.  Some days, I do most of the talking; some days, all I do is listen.  But either way, it is quality time, alone with the One I love the most.

This past week, while battling the aforementioned virus, I had a hard time walking...anywhere.  I was weak as a kitten.  Because I am a creature of habit, my alone time with God suffered.  My fault.  I should have used that time in bed more wisely, but, alas, I did not.

Add no worship service this morning for me due to sick boys, and I am feeling a bit alone.  It happens that quickly.  So, it is time to pray, time to get away for a few moments.  This blog is my admission to you, myself...and God...that I need to get back closer with Him...right away.

Praying for quality time with our Lord for you and for me!

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. - Psalm 34:8

Friday, April 12, 2013

Taking Control of the Wheel

Have you had this happen?

A friend and I took our kids and my big ole SUV on a day trip.

At one point, we were parking in a parking garage...and I promptly ran my car into one of the pylons in the center of the structure.

No real damage done to the vehicle...just another "beauty mark" for my ride...

...and a bit of embarrassment for me.

As I continued to struggle with squaring up in a spot I knew I had no business trying to park in in the first place, my sweet friend asked if I wanted her to park 'er.

Increased embarrassment...and more than a little stubbornness.

I hope I didn't snap when I gave her an emphatic "no."

Fast forward to Wednesday night services...

A sweet friend told me she prayed for me and the boys as she walked by my house earlier in the day, thinking of how hard it must be at times to be a single mom.

We talked of the common elements in hardship and of the importance of surrender in walking the path...whichever path...the Lord has given you.

I couldn't help but think about my driving.

Since Keith died, I can probably count the number of times I have ridden instead of driven on both hands.  Only driver in the house, biggest car when we ride with others.  So...I am rarely the passenger.

Except when it comes to the Lord.

There...always...I need to be the passenger and let Him be the driver.

So, I resolve to quit holding stubbornly to the driver's seat.  Unlike parking my car the other day, I need to willingly give Him my troubles, really just park them at the foot of the cross.

And leave them there.

All it takes is surrender...constant surrender.

Not an easy concept, especially in our pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps American society, but that is my goal.

May I be willing to surrender all the things in my life, both large and small, to Him and His infinite wisdom. 

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? - Mark 8:34-36

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Prayer Needs of Grieving Families

Prayer Needs of Grieving Families

To help those grieving, you can pray for:
·  The physical strength to get through the extra tasks associated with a death—from the funeral itself to the phone calls to all the creditors, insurance companies, etc.
·  The emotional strength to get through the same—dealing with all the paperwork and all the expressions of sympathy
·  A clear head to remember all the details that need to be taken care of
·  The ability to let people help them, regardless of how uncomfortable it can be at times
·  Peaceful sleep
·  An appetite
·  The strength to ask for help when they need it
·  The strength to ask to be left alone when they need it
·  The freedom from self-consciousness when they tear up a million times and in a million places
·  Ease in actually saying the words that their loved one has died
·  Loving friends who will listen (especially important when a wife loses her husband—those words she needs to say each day need to go somewhere)
·  Peace through the holidays, especially the first ones without a loved one—birthdays, anniversaries, even the first time they do anything they always did with the other person
·  Financial peace—especially if they were not the financial person in the family before
·  Freedom from “what-if” types of questions and regrets—to forgive themselves for not being perfect and to know without a doubt that the other person loved them even if they were not perfect
·  The ability to trust fully and completely in God—to crawl up in His lap and let Him drive for a while
·  The ability to answer all the tough questions they are asked—especially those asked by their children
·  Discernment to know when to let others in their family alone and when to push them into talking about any issues about the person who passed away—especially their children
·  Having the freedom to realize that all grieve in a different way, and just because theirs is different than someone else’s doesn’t mean it is wrong or incomplete or any reflection of how much they cared for the person who died
·  Support from others who have been through the type of grief that they are facing—especially those a little farther down the path of this journey who can give them advice and help them know that they are doing OK on their journey—someone to show them where the potholes in the road are so that they can slow down for them
·  The strength to get out and be with others
·  The ability to recognize the signs of loneliness and depression and the strength to do something about them if they are facing them
·  Peace about being alone—learning to be alone without being lonely
·  The strength to seek out a “new normal” for themselves and their family
·  The freedom to know that grief has no time limit or set of specific steps that they need to go through and to give themselves a break if they seem to take one step forward and two steps back
·  Discernment to know what changes to make in their lives and which things to leave the way they were—finding a balance between old traditions and new ones, and old ways of life and new ones
·  The ability to see God’s hand in their lives, and to look for ways that they can glorify Him during the grief process
·  The strength to cry out to God when they are hurting and to accept the comfort that He gives—and to look to His people for the same
·  The strength to realize that God never gives them more than they can handle with His help, and that He will be there today, tomorrow, and forever
·  The ability to trust Jeremiah 29:11:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future.”


My dear friend Judy loved lemon meringue pie, L.M.P., as she called it.  To her, it was just something you had when friends got together.  I was not the originator of this tradition with her, but I was privileged to share it with her, too.  Memories as sweet as the pie.

You see, Judy went home to be with the Lord yesterday.

So, I am up extra early this morning, thinking about sweet Judy...and L.M.P...and life.

I have a Judy story to share that, to me, sums up the lady she was.

The day Keith died, he had sent me flowers for our anniversary, which was two days later.  He did not know he would not see that anniversary.  I got home from saying goodbye to him at the hospital to find this final gift.

The ladies from church, particularly Judy and her daughter-in-law, were anxious to preserve those for me.  They made a frantic internet search to find someone to do it.  When they did, Judy's sweet husband came and got the flowers, boxed them up and sent them away to be freeze-dried and framed.  Today, they hang in a shadow box in my bedroom.  And, as much as those flowers mean to me because they are from Keith, they mean just as much because of the work that Judy and the other ladies from my church put into me keeping them.

Back in the fall at our ladies' retreat, I sang a special with Judy on my heart.  She was not there in person, suffering already with her illness, but I know she was with us then in spirit.  The song is Healing is in Your Hands by Christy Nockels( ).  Here are the lyrics:

No mountain, no valley, no gain or loss we know
could keep us from Your love
No sickness, no secret, no chain is strong enough
to keep us from Your love
to keep us from Your love
How high, how wide
No matter where I am, healing is in Your hands
How deep, How strong,
And now by Your grace I stand, healing is in Your hands
Our present, our future, our past is in Your hands
We're covered by Your blood
We're covered by Your blood
How high, How wide
no matter where I am, healing is in Your hands
How deep, How strong
And now by Your grace I stand, healing is in Your hands
In all things, we know that.
We are more than conquerors.
You keep us by your love.
You keep us by your love.

The Lord's plan was not to heal Judy this side of Heaven.  I don't know why...but I know He does Judy knew her Lord had a plan, too, and she was willing to trust in Him.  And because she did trust Him, this is not goodbye to my sweet friend, but instead see you later.  We have that promise from Him when we live in Him.  Praise God for that!

So, we can survive the here and now, the yucky parts of life, the hard parts of life, because we know that He lives in Heaven and has gone to prepare a place for us there (John 14:2-4).  Judy is seeing that now.  And that is cause for rejoicing, even with tears in my eyes.

I'll be there later, Judy...and I'll bring the L.M.P.

And I know Judy would wave her hand, flash me a 100-watt smile, and say, "All right, honey."

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." - Jeremiah 29:11-13

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Showing It

This week, one of our teen bands led worship.  In that band is my 14-year old son.

We have a lot of musical talent for a fairly small church, especially in our youth.  They always do a phenomenal job, and it gladdens my heart to see them unreservedly serving their Lord in this way.

But the thing that touched me the most this morning was watching my son's face as he worshiped his Lord even as he played to lead us in worship.

He was singing to his King.  I was crying in the seats.

His face shone with joy as a child of the King.  Beyond his musical talent (which still floors me), his worship was an expression of how much he has learned and is learning to trust the Lord.

For this momma, that is the best thing I can ever see.

I gotta be honest...I have wondered how this widow-walk would affect my boys.  Would they see Him as the Giver of Life or as The One Who Took Daddy?  Would they get that there are plans we can know nothing of here, may never know anything of, even in Heaven?  Or would they turn their backs on the Lord?

They were so young when Keith died!  My oldest, the one acting as one of the lead worshipers today, was not quite 9!

But God, in His infinite mercy, great wisdom, and unlimited caring for us as a family, has shown Himself to be worthy of our praise.  So many prayers answers even as they were barely words on our lips!  So many men ready to jump in and help teach them to be the men of God that Keith and I always dreamed they would be!

As I watched my son through the tears, I was again reminded that God's got it.  My boys are all learning to love the Lord, and they want to serve Him.  They are all growing in Him each and every day.

They get it that God is God, even on the hard days, the sad days, the bad days.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

And that allows me to raise my arms and my heart in praise as well, worshiping right there with my son.

Amen and amen.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
   come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
   It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
- Psalm 100:1-3

Friday, April 5, 2013

Just Another One of Those Days

Last week, it was just another one of those days:

3:39 a.m. – Eight-year old says he can’t sleep and climbs in bed with me.  He rolls around for a bit, can’t fall asleep in my bed, and returns to his own.

4:39 a.m. – Awakened by a horrendous musical sound that I thought was the alarm clock.  Tried to turn off alarm clock only to find it would not go off.  Figured out it was a game on the tablet sitting next to me.  Don’t know why it went off them.

4:40 a.m. – Mistaking the clock setting for 5:00, I decide to get up (yes, I do normally get up that early).

4:50 a.m. – The dog throws up.  The big dog.

5:00 a.m. – Still working on preparing the first cup of coffee when 11-year old comes downstairs.  I shoo him back upstairs.

5:04 a.m. – Go on a hunt for wrapping paper, which I find…along with a large mess in a room that I thought was clean for company tomorrow.

5:05 a.m. – I try to wrap the 8-year old’s birthday presents only to find we have no tape.  Tape hunt begins.

5:10 a.m. – Hear noise from upstairs and go up to shush the two children who are now playing in one’s room.

5:30 a.m. – Hear my alarm going off in my room.  I must have turned it on inadvertently while trying to stop the noise at 4:39.  The beeping makes the dog still in my room start to howl.  The other dog, downstairs, starts to join in the howling.  I rush upstairs before all the boys are up, turn it off, and quiet the dogs.

5:35 a.m. – The 8- and 11-year old ask if they can go to the basement and play.  I figure it is the best alternative and may allow me to salvage my quiet time, so I let them.

5:40 a.m. – The 6-year old wakes up.  Send him downstairs.

5:50 a.m. – I am tired and in need of another cup of coffee.  I still have not done my quiet time, which is the reason I get up this early anyway.

5:59 a.m. – Last child gets up.  Hope of quiet time is dashed for good today.  Start breakfast and the day on a prayer. 

I am not making this up.  I couldn’t make up this level of crazy detail.

Yet, that is my life.  Fire to fire to fire.  It can be exhausting, especially on your own.  Especially when all this happens before 6:00 a.m!


These are light and momentary troubles.  I know they are.  They are the results of having a big family and lots of blessings.

The night before, my oldest and I watched The Passion of the Christ (  Keith and I had started the tradition many years ago to watch it at Easter time.  As painful as that movie is to watch, I find it a good reminder of just what is important in life.  It helps put "those days" into perspective.

Even when "those days" start before the first cup of coffee.

Kids up early?  Thanks, God, that, with our busy schedules, I have "morning people" for children. 
Dogs barking and throwing up?  Thanks, God, for the blessing of our dogs, who are an almost constant source of affection and fun, never mind the protection factor.
Kindle going off?  Thanks, God, for the technology that you have given our world, and that we in our family can share it.

And thanks, God, for our nice, warm home, our health, and the blessing of living together as a family in this great country of ours. 

Sometimes the best reminder on a stress-filled day is the pictures in my head of Jesus hanging on the cross...for me. 

Surely He took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered Him punished by God,
    stricken by Him, and afflicted.
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
    and by His wounds we are healed.
- Isaiah 53:4-5

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Heat is On!

Well, the dryer is fixed.  New heat element.  New lease on life for it.  Praise God!

As I climb out from under the mountain of clothes (well, not too much of a mountain due to my creative drying around my room), I realize the dryer is drying...better than I remember it!  Clothes are done faster!  (Yes, now the mountain is on my bed to fold.)

Turns out, the lint had been slowly building up, clogging the outtake shoot...and slowly sucking the life and power out of the dryer.  Perhaps that is what caused the overworked heat element to break, perhaps not.  Regardless, it was a problem that needed a solution.

Aren't I just like my dryer? 

I allow the little things to build up, slowly sucking away my energy...and my joy.

Messy rooms and returning phone calls and dishes in the sink and doctors' appointments and torn pants and shoes ruined and poor math grades and dirty car seats and mouthy boys and uncleaned plates at dinner and jeans outgrown and broken toes and too much TV and soccer practice.

I could go on...and on...and on.  Life is full of little pieces that can easily become annoyances.

And...I must admit, sometimes I let them get to me.  I juggle and juggle my to-do schedule, but find that I just cannot get it all done.  And that makes me grumpy.

Sometimes I can just clean out the lint trap of my mind, scrapping the negative thoughts and grumpiness and moving on.  Sometimes, however, I need to try something new!

Maybe I need a new Bible reading plan or devotion book.  Maybe I need a quiet coffee with a dear girlfriend to put things back in perspective and give me some relaxing laughs for a bit.  Maybe I need my journal and quiet time with the Lord.  Maybe I need a weekend retreat away from the kids and the stresses of single parenting.

Thankfully, I have a loving Savior who will allow my clogs to become known to me...through friends, devotions I have read, or the buzzing in my soul, indicating the load is unbalanced and needs to be reseated before I can continue.

And after I have reset myself and my attitude, I can better appreciate all that I have and all that I am in Christ (by His strength and not my own), and can continue to roll. 

And I am made as new as my dryer, ready to (hopefully) do it better!

"...He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” - Revelation 21:4-5

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


4:19 a.m.

In my dream, I hear a coach's whistle.

I open my eyes to the reality.   


Smoke detector low battery indicator.

Why don't these things ever happen during the daytime?!

I find the offending detector, and even more amazing, a replacement 9V battery.  Without raiding a remote control airplane or the like.

I wake up my teenager (of course, it is one of the detectors on the 9 foot ceiling, beyond this momma's reach), and he stumbles down to replace it, not grumbling too much.

4:26 a.m.  Done.

Crisis averted.  No alarms will start going off, waking the house and perhaps the neighborhood.  (Been there, done that, don't want to do that again...but that's another story).

Some days, I feel like all I ever do is put out fires (no pun intended...well, maybe there was).  Something is breaking, something necessary has run out, someone hurts themselves.  I feel like I should buy stock in Calgon, because those "take me away" moments happen so frequently.

As the frustration mounts, some days I boil over.  I let loose the frustration at all the little things color my world, affecting the big my kids.

It is wrong; it is sin.

Right after Keith died, one of the dear men he worked with came over and changed all my smoke detector batteries.  That was the way he wanted to honor his friend and our family.  It was very sweet.

He told me at the time to mark the day on the calendar so that next year I would know what day to replace the batteries.  I gave him lip service, saying I would...but I did not.

Since then, I have had to replace most of the batteries in the same way as described above...waiting for the chirping, then rushing around finding a battery just in time to avert the entire electrically-tied system going off.

Preventative maintenance.  PM, my Marine husband called it.  Necessary in my house.

And necessary for my soul.

When I get to the explosion point over dirty socks, dirty dishes, dirty dogs, the problem is not with is with me.

Have I read my Bible enough?  Have I spent enough quiet time with the Lord?  Have I counted my blessings?

These troubles are going to come.  My life is still going to be my life, filled with many bumps in the road, many distractions, much to do.

It is my attitude toward it that can...and must...change.

And, with the Lord's help, and plenty of PM, it will.

[Jesus said,] “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Spin Cycle

My dryer is in pieces in my laundry room.  Blech.

The part is on order, and one of my sweet friends will be putting it in for me, but...we are going on Day 11 of no dryer.

Don't try to come to my bedroom right now.  I would definitely tackle you if you headed up the stairs.  My bedroom looks like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies.

I could wait until the dryer is fixed to wash, but that may mean that we have to climb over clothes to get to the beds.

 There has been a great side-effect of this time without a dryer, though.

As I handle each piece of our clothing to hang it individually, I have been aware of God's provision and blessing to us. 

My guys tend to pick t-shirts as souvenirs when we take a trip.  I have had a lovely trip down memory lane, reflecting on all the fun places we have been, all the joy in being together. 

We have been truly blessed over the years with the number of hand-me-downs we have.  Clothes in our own family have lasted well to be passed down from boy to boy, but also dear family and friends have passed down many things to us.  Looking at a load of clothes, the number I have actually had to purchase is relatively small...often just socks and underwear.  Huge blessing!

And...we have plenty of clothes to wear.  There are widows around the world, around our nation, who are struggling to put a meal on the table for their families, much less purchase the necessary clothing, and I am with clothes to spare.  Blessing again!

I would not have noticed all of these blessings, had I not been put in the slightly uncomfortable position of hanging up my clothes to dry.  This light and momentary trouble has brought me closer to God.  Praise Him for that!

In this fast-paced world where we are over-taxed, over-committed, and over-tired, don't we sometimes need just a few minutes to relax and reflect on our blessings?

I sure am glad over these past couple weeks that I have had a few moments to reflect on mine!

But...I will be glad to have my dryer back.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. - Psalm 34:8

Monday, March 18, 2013

The End of the Story

My almost-8-year-old is a read-the-last-page-of-the-story guy.  I am not quite sure how it happened.  To my way of thinking, that is just wrong.


Sometimes I peek...not to read the whole page, but just to see if a certain name is mentioned, so I know if that character makes it through whatever their trial is.

Don't you wish you could do that with the story of your life?  Just take a quick peek to see how things work out?

God has His reasons, I know, for not telling us the end of the story here on earth.  And now I think I know why...or at least have a better understand.

I am a talker.  (You may be surprised at that...not.)  Sometimes, in order to work things out, I like to talk them through out loud.  I used to do it to Keith all the time.

After Keith died, I would still have these out-loud conversations, using the boys as a sounding board in the same way.

But it did not have quite the same results.

I would talk through out loud the planning for a particular day:  Maybe we will get up and run the errands, and then stop for lunch on the way home, and then start school...

The only problem was that the boys would get focused on the wrong part of the story:  Going out to lunch?!  We're going out to lunch?!  Yay!  Where are we going?  Can we go to _____?  (Insert boys who are now debating--loudly--the place we are going to for lunch.)

The boys would get totally focused on the wrong part of the story.  They took what was a maybe, a possible plan, and made it into reality--and started putting their own caveats into it.

Maybe that is why God does not give us--does not give me--that peek at the rest of the story.

I would get focused on the things ahead, and not take into consideration the things of now.  We are here for a purpose, and if I get caught up in the future too much, then I am not in my present, doing what I need to be doing in my present, putting my own spin on a future that may or may not be in my best interest...instead of trusting a Plan that is perfect.

So...I resolve to work through every page of my it comes...and not worry about the ones that are too far ahead for me to see.  I will get there God's good time, and with His good grace.

And if not...if His plan is not for me to walk the pages here on earth...then I get to the ultimate last page...eternal life with Him in Heaven.

I have already been told how the Big Story ends.

Amen and amen!

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Once a Marine Family, Always a Marine Family

A couple weeks ago, we had the extreme joy of going to the graduation of a dear young man from Basic Training at Parris Island.  Ooorah!

It was also a time of reflection for us as a family.

You see, Keith graduated from Parris Island 35 years ago this May.

We are a Marine family...yet the boys know only bits and pieces of that life, especially the little ones, since Keith retired when I was pregnant with the oldest.  Oh, they have been on base, seen the pageantry at Memorial Day (Keith is buried at Quantico and we are there for the celebration every year), and know quite a few service members, active duty and retired, from church...but they did not live the life.  Neither did I for that long, since we married near the end of Keith's military career.

But I want them to know.

Patriotism is, to many, an old-fashioned value.  Not so in this family.  Keith proudly served his country, and talked about at least one of the boys following him some day...becoming a third generation Marine.  Maybe after seeing the obstacles, the hardship, and also the honor, courage, and commitment, one of my boys will choose to follow in his footsteps...and step on the yellow footprints.

As we walked around the base, listening to this dear young man's story of his experience, Keith was constantly in our thoughts.  I had been on Parris Island once with Keith and heard his recounting of the island and the training.  Even nearly 20 years later, he had very strong feelings and memories.  I shared with the boys what I could remember that their dad had said.  I pulled out his boot camp pictures and let them laugh at his bald head and serious expression.  I shared the memory book Keith and I had made together as he neared the end of his military career, recounting the stories and awards.

As we walked through the museum on base, we saw pictures of Marines through time and what they did while at basic, and in their careers.  And I recalled my Marine Corps birthday balls, Keith in his blues, Keith is his Alphas, and in the utilities he wore each day for 20 years.

And when they played the National Anthem and the Marine Corps Hymn, I I do every time.  Freedom isn't free, and my husband knew that, respected that, and did something about it.

The last stanza of the Marine Corps Hymn reads:

Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve
In many a strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes;
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

My Marine is now guarding the streets of glory.  I miss him every day, sometimes every minute.  I am sure that 20 years down the road, no matter what happens, I will miss him.

But, thanks to wonderful experiences like the one we had with our dear friends, my boys will have an understanding of who their dad was, what he did, what was important to him.

And so will I.

And for that I am very, very thankful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
- Psalm 68:4-6

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Ripple Effect

Have you ever thrown rocks into a pool of water?  I'm not even talking skipping them; just tossing them in.  They inevitably make ripples.

The other day, I ran into a dear friend who had some wonderful news!  After a career change, a difficult job from which she was eventually let go, and working two part-time jobs to make ends meet, she finally was given her "job of a lifetime," right in her career field.  I was praising God with her, thanking God for His faithfulness.  Along with the pain on this journey, she is already able to see the blessing and the reason for this path, at least in part.

This journey put her in contact with a family whom has become precious to her, a family who doesn't know the Lord.  Through nannying for this family, she has been able to bring Jesus to them in ways they might not ever have see Him.  Praise God!!

I was able to glory with her...because she had shared.  The struggles, the whole journey.  It became part of her testimony.

My responsibility is to see my own life in that way.

I am one to post signs on my fridge:  different scriptures that I have been given to focus on for a time, poems, things I have found posted on the Internet, great quotes, etc.

My latest addition to my fridge is the simple quote:  "Expect Divine Appointments Every Day."

I have been given a certain testimony by the events of my life.  I am the keeper of this testimony, and just like everything else in my life, I need to steward it well.  It's not a contest of whose road is harder, longer, more filled with potholes.  It's a matter of doing everything to the glory of God, even stewarding the testimony.

Sometimes that means me talking in a public and/or personal way about my loss, about single parenting, about what my life looks like now.  Sometimes it simply means keeping on keeping on, for we never know how far the ripples go.

But by neglecting to speak of my testimony when presented with an opportunity, with a divine appointment, is poor stewardship on my part...and could have long-reaching effects on the community of God.

Rather than deal with the might-have-beens, I resolve to steward my testimony, even when painful at times.

I do not know the plans of the Maker of the universe, and I often wonder how He can use a tired, sometimes grouchy, rather ordinary child of His to change the world...but He just might.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. - 1 Peter 3:15b

Thursday, March 7, 2013


The other morning on the way to church, we saw a very common sight for February in Virginia...squashed skunk.

Apparently, these little fellows become amorous this time of year, and during their nocturnal romances, they are so blinded by love that they don't pay a lick of attention where they are going and wander right out into the road.  Poor things!  You're thinking, "Poor us to smell the after effects!"

Um...I have a confession to make.  I really enjoy the smell of a dead skunk.  My family is scandalized that I would confess such a thing.  They think I should be committed.  While they are holding their collective breaths until we pass, I am breathing deep, enjoying the odor.

Let me try to explain why I like it.  That pungent smell when you stumble upon a skunk is shocking, but to me that is a good thing.  I tend to like the shocking, at least when it is shocking me back to my senses...and that one is surely clearing out my sinuses.

Perhaps that is true in my walk with Christ as well.

I am stubborn.  (Keith is in Heaven snorting, "Ya think?")  I want to have my own way, and often thwart God's good gifts and perfect plans by clinging to my own.  Oh, I know mine are imperfect.  I will be the first to tell you that.  But they are familiar, and so at times I stick to them.

I hope I am getting better at this.  I really want to be on board with God 100% - 100% of the time.

But I am Balaam in need of a discerning donkey...and an angel in my path.  I ignore the planks and the specks, so long as I am going where I think I need to be going.

But, praise Him, God loves me enough to send the holy 2 x 4 to smack me back into place.

The things that cause me to sit up and take notice...are things that I need to take notice of.  The pungency seems to be necessary to get it through my thick skull...and maybe my thick nasal passages.

I have learned a lot of lessons in the past 5 1/2 years without Keith.  Some of them have been quite painful.  Maybe they needed to be that painful...that pungent...for me to get them.  Maybe that would be the only way they would make an impression on me.

I don't feel like this was God picking on me.  This was God preparing me...loving me too much to leave me the way I was, following through on His plans for me and my life...and the life of my family.

This is a lesson that I need to remember as each tough situation comes up in the future, be it financial, relational, or spiritual.

How about you?

Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of His praise be heard; 
He has preserved our lives
    and kept our feet from slipping.
For You, God, tested us;
    You refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison
    and laid burdens on our backs.
You let people ride over our heads;
    we went through fire and water,
    but You brought us to a place of abundance.
- Psalm 66:8-12

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Swamped with Stuff

This weekend, we have slated to clean out the storage room in the basement.  More cheers from the boys about this task (well, really, not so much).  It needs to be done, though.

We have a lot of room for storage in our house.  That is both good and bad.  I have been able to, at the boys' request, keep all Keith's clothes until they get older and can wear them.  I can also store the myriad of things needed to homeschool...tubs and tubs of books.  I also have my own little consignment shop of the hand-me-downs, ready and waiting as each boy grows.  Great blessings, all of those.


It also means I have been able to keep all kinds of things that we really don't need, really could pass on to someone else.  Some things have sentimental value, passed down my my late mother, or Keith's late father, or Keith himself...but perhaps no value beyond that.  Some are outgrown and unused, from a time when my children were younger and had different interests.  Good stuff and not-so-good stuff intermingled in a disorganized mess.

So...we are taking stock and letting go.  The goal is no extra stuff.  Not sure if we will achieve this rather lofty goal, but there it is.

I have come to realize, though, that, in God's economy, there is no extra stuff.

This widow journey is long and fraught with hard stuff.  Just now, my stresses are money-oriented.  I long for Keith's "boy brain" to muddle through some of the decisions that my "girl brain" has a hard time with!

But this is merely the tip of the iceberg.  I could present a diatribe about all the stuff I go through.  You may be able to guess at some of it, but until you are there, you really don't know.  I know I didn't.  Even now, five years later, stuff still crops up that hits me like a ton of bricks. didn't hit God like a ton of bricks.

He knew everything that was going to happen to me on this widow journey...on this coming the time of my formation (Psalm 139:16).

He knew that I would struggle...and certain areas and would succeed in others...and He let me go through the areas so that I could (1 Corinthians 10:12-14; Romans 3:23).

He knew that, though it is hard, hard, hard some days, good would come of all that has happened and is happening to us (Romans 8:28).

And He knew what outcome would happen...what all this would bring about in my life and the lives of those who know me...and even those who know of me.

And I pray that what they see...and what I see when I look in the not some silly creature who makes a lot of mistakes, who worries about too much, who is very grounded in the world and its workings.

I pray they don't see the stuff I am swamped by...but...instead...see the Lord.

That makes it all worth it...for me and whomever comes after me!

My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. - Job 42:5

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who Do You Love?

In one of my favorite movies, Facing the Giants (, the main female character, Brooke Taylor, after realizing that she is not going to be able to have kids, promises the Lord to always love Him in spite of this.  It is a moving and wonderful scene...and right after that in the movie, big things start to happen, so I won't spoil it if you have not seen it.

When I was single the first time, I longed for two things...for a husband here on earth...and for the ability to say the same thing...that God was fully enough for me as a Husband.

It was an odd place of dichotomy, but I think fairly typical to many deep places in the Christian life.

It finally happened one year at Valentine's Day.  After praying and studying hard on the subject...real work involved here...I was finally able to say that God was completely and fully enough for me, even if no earthly husband ever came into my life.  What a freeing moment that was!  Praise Him for leading me faithfully to that point.

This begs the question...where am I in my second singleness?  Have I achieved this same peace and joy with God alone as my Husband and the Love of My Life. I could say it was fully.

I loved being married to Keith and we had a good marriage.  There's a lot about it that I miss.  Having a flesh-and-blood husband is very comforting and strengthening on many levels:  someone to hold me, someone to help me, someone to share with me.

God is there always...I know that as clearly as I know there is air all around me.  But, He cannot take someone to guitar for me, or wash dishes for me, or physically hold me when I cry.

On the other hand...
  •  I have the unique opportunity to be able to pick up and go any time, anywhere, without regard for vacation schedules or days off.
  • I can manage on the fly a bit better, changing the plans to fit our needs and things that pop up better.  That certainly did not happen married to my sweet-but-structured husband.
  • I can stay up with a girlfriend, listening to her problems and concerns and not take time from a hubby.
  • I can serve cookies for dinner (yep, I have) and leave the folded clothes on the other side of the bed until morning.
So...I will wait on Him...wait for that feeling that He is enough...wait in this limbo that singleness necessarily creates...wait for Him to fill me as no other.

John Waller has a wonderful song that was in the movie Fireproof ( called While I'm Waiting (  Here are the lyrics:

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I'm waiting on You Lord
Though it's not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint
I'll be running the race even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I'll be taking every step in obedience, yeah

While I'm waiting I will serve You
While I'm waiting I will worship
While I'm waiting I will not faint

And I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You Lord

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

Amen and amen!  God's got it.  I don't need to worry about it.  He will tell me when the waiting is over...whatever form that may take.  And it will be glorious!

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:30-31

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Clean House

Yesterday was the big winter cleaning of our house.  You can probably hear my boys groan from there.  They have good reason for groaning.

It is usually a painful day...for a very good reason.

I will never win any housekeeping awards.

I have the best intentions, but...

Life gets in the way.  Homeschooling, my activities, the boys' activities, sports, travel...many things are more exciting and enjoyable, to our way of thinking, than cleaning the house.

Oh, we fake a good game.

If you have been over, you may not realize just how messy we really are.  There's a reason for that, too.  We tend to clean the main floor only, and only do cursory cleaning anywhere else.  (By the way, don't try to go up the stairs to my bedroom without an invitation...I might have to tackle you!)

Aren't we like that with our faith, too?

We put up a front...pretending we are fine, clean on the inside and out, while really we are stressed and hurting.  We stumble along, ignoring the relief that could be ours in the form of friends who sincerely desire help us...all in the name of appearances.

A different kind of white-washed tomb...but just as deadly, to my way of thinking.

Aren't we called to be here to share in community?  Do we think all our friends are perfect, with no problems?  Don't we want to assist them with whatever is going on?  Don't we get joy from helping them?

Didn't Jesus accept from others all the time, as an itinerant preacher, even as He gave?

I tell you the of the best parts of this widow-walk is the closeness that comes from needing others.  I have learned, albeit painfully, that no man (or woman) is an island...nor should they be. 

There is a divine dependence that comes from walking this walk...and it truly is a beautiful thing. 

There is no way on God's green earth that I can do all the stuff I need to do on my own.  And in that statement, I am freed from trying...from trying to be perfect, from trying to be all things to all people, from trying to walk alone.

And that's a truth I need to remember each and every day.

"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -- John 15:4-5

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thank You, Lord (A Poem)

Beside my bed I kneel and pray
And thank You, Lord, for another day.
For friends and family near and dear
And knowing You are always here
To guide me, love me, hold my hand
And to always understand
Even when I am pouty and sad
Or I am having the worst day I have had
I remember Your love and constant care
And then I have not only enough for me but also to share
With my boys, my church, my community
And all those who have blessed me
Forever I will remember Your love
From now until I go above
To the world that is waiting beyond for me
Because You were willing to die on a tree.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Glory in the Morning

Tuesday was just a glorious day for walking!  The sun was shining, the birds were singing!  We were having one of those Virginia midwinter days that hit the 70's.  A wonderful reminder and promise of the coming spring! 

I love when these days hit, and we seem to get a few each winter--contrasting with our normal weather of darkness and gloom, bluster and rain, and even cold and snow.  Everyone around seems to smile just a bit more, basking in that pre-spring glow.

A promise of the warm weather to come.

Isn't it the same with God?

In the darkest times of my life, when I have felt broken to pieces and lying in a heap on the floor, ready for the dustbin, He gives me reminders that He is there, that He cares, that one season leads naturally into another.

A long time ago, 1990 to be exact, I was leading a life that was very far from God.  Then I was introduced to some wonderful Christian people, and decided to get my life together and to walk with Him.  I met with the minister of our church to discuss my baptism.  We met in a local restaurant for coffee, sitting for a couple hours in discussion.  Our waitress was diligent during our entire visit...carefully filling and refilling our coffee cups...and probably catching snippets of our conversation as she was in and out of our area. 

It came time to leave.  Our sweet minister Dale and I prayed and then asked for the check.  Our waitress came over and proceeded to hand us bits of paper instead of a check.  "Merry Christmas," she said, not understanding fully what was going on, perhaps not being a believer herself, but recognizing that things of God were happening right there in front of her, and reacting, prompted I am sure by the Lord to respond.  Our endless cups of coffee cost us nothing...and may have even cost her a bit.

We were surprised, of course.  Dale said, "I've never had anything like this happen before!"  I just smiled, even then.  God was talking to me through this sweet and attentive waitress, a promise of things to come in my life with Him, and I recognized it as such.

Thus began my life with the Lord.  He's always there, whether I see Him working or not.  And...when I need those reminders the the warm spring days in the middle of a Virginia winter, He reminds me that He is and always will be.

Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones,
And give thanks to His holy name.
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning. -- Psalm 30:4-5

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Treasuring in My Heart, Part 3

Today was baptism day for my sweet Jackson!  It was glorious!  These are the moments that make this mom proud...bring tears to my eyes...provide me with great joy...and make me miss Keith.  Joy and pain...happiness and sorrow.  That is the stuff life is made of.  Praise God that we have ridden the roller coaster of this world with our hands up and our hearts open!

Jackson boldly stepped forward for Christ, and was baptized into Him by our sweet minister, Mike.

And therein lies my last segment of this story.

In our church, it is typical for the dads to baptize their children.  It is a wonderful tradition, the passing of the baton of life with Christ in a blood family, and is very moving.  For us, it presents a quandary.

But, like all quandaries, the solution can be a joyous opportunity.

My boys have the opportunity to choose who baptizes them.  They do not take this lightly, but instead pray over whom they want to immerse them.  And both Matthew and Jackson have chosen well.

Matthew chose my self-proclaimed "little brother" in the church, Dave.  He is the uncle who wrestles with them, is ready to kick their behinds or have a talk with them if I need it done.  This bond was already there with my boys, but has only grown stronger since baptizing Matthew.  I guess the best thing I can liken it to what the godfather is intended to be in the life a child...Dave has invested himself in Matthew spiritually, and the dividends to both of them have been beautiful to see.  Praise God for His provision!

Jackson knew he would have the same choice, and had been thinking and praying about it almost as long as he had been pondering the question of baptism in his heart.  After careful consideration, he decided he wanted our minister, Mike, to baptize him.  All my boys have been blessed to spend a lot of time with Mike and his wife Linda.  Mike was present for the births of all but Alex, supporting us and reporting the joyous news to the congregation.  Mike sat with me at the hospital when Keith had his heart catheterization eight months before he passed away.  Ironically, that day we talked about baptism.

Since Keith's death, Mike has often watched the boys for me so that I could attend ladies' functions at church.  He gamely played paper airplanes, Legos, Wii, and anything else the boys wanted.  He has come to soccer and baseball games each season, often accompanied by Linda.  Together, they love and support my boys, getting nearly as teary as I do as we watch them grow into men.  And I know that the relationship will be there always.  Provision again!

I am blessed beyond measure to have so many fine Christian men speaking into the lives of my boys.  These men have taken on the task with the same gusto that they have used with their own children.  I have no worries about my boys learning to be the men God intends them to be.  They have many wonderful examples...the list is too long to mention.

Today, I was overcome by the beauty of the day, the beauty of friends who have constantly loved and supported us over the past five years.  God's church as it is supposed to be!  I cried, but not an inordinate amount.  The boys were pretty proud of me for that.

In a few years, Tanner will face the same decisions...for Christ and for whom shall immerse him.  That will be just as glorious a day as this.  He might even choose his brother Alex.  Just the thought of that makes me smile. 

He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. - Titus 3:5b-7

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Treasuring in My Heart - Part 2

When Matthew was baptized about a year after Keith died, many people said to me, "I'm sure Keith is here watching today."  I agree:  if it is possible, he was.

But therein lies the issue.  What can we really see from Heaven?  What is the relationship between this place and that?

As you may imagine, I have speculated a lot on that.

I say speculated because I have no clear evidence of exactly how it all works.  God did not give us a blueprint of Heaven in the Bible.

The Bible clearly tells us that angels are separate creatures from us (see Psalm 8), so I don't hold to the "guardian angel" belief (see also Psalm 91).  The Bible also says there is no pain or sorrow in Heaven (Revelation 21:4), so I wonder how much of this place a new creature in Heaven could take seeing.  Wouldn't he miss us?  Wouldn't he long for life here with us?  It boggles the mind to think about how that could work!

On the other hand, the Bible also tells us in Hebrews 11-12 that we have a great cloud of witnesses who watch us and cheer for us when we do well.

What does it all mean?  How am I going to take something as complex as Heaven and put it into terms that I can understand?  How can I explain it to my children?  We are trying to understand something that is so much bigger and more complex than we are that we cannot hope to fully understand.  Like an ant trying to describe the universe.  Like a 2-dimensional creature trying to explain a 3-dimensional world.  Can't be adequately done.

Bottom line is that I can only speak to what I think and feel. long as it is not contrary to Scripture, I don't see that there is a problem with it. We are all speculating anyway.

So here are a couple thoughts on the subject.

I feel like the glory of Heaven, the end of the story (or the beginning, depending on how you look at it) so far outweighs anything here that this place cannot possibly make a creature of Heaven sad...God or our loved ones.

My dad's favorite phrase to me when some teenage "calamity" hit my life that had me totally stressed out, was "Who will know in 20 years?"  And, usually, within a few days, whatever I had considered something I would never get over, I had totally forgotten.  Perhaps the scheme of time for eternity makes anything and everything we go through here fall into that category.  Our loved ones can look at it the same way my dad no big deal in the grand scheme of things. I ponder my sweet boy's baptism tomorrow, and the inevitable comments about Keith's being present, I can say a few things with certainty:

...there will be rejoicing in heaven; wonderful friends and family in Christ will rejoice with me here on earth;
...I will be thinking of Keith, wishing he could be here to hold my hand and watch with me;

...and I will cry...tears of sorrow mingled with tears of great joy...the best kind of  tears.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. - Nehemiah 8:10b

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Seeing Your Breath

When we leave home on a cold winter day, my little boys automatically look to see if you can see your breath.  Each and every time.  To them, it is the best indicator of how cold it is.

Often, I don't notice.  Intent on getting into the car and wherever we are headed, I hurry them along.  "Yes, yes, it is cold today.  Let's hustle!"

The other day, however, I did notice.

My walks have been especially cold the last few days, below freezing when I step out the door.  Nice brisk air in my face. 

Even then, I can ignore the fact that I can see my breath...until I turn at the bottom of one particular street and all that breath blows back in my face, creating a haze for me to see through.  I couldn't help but notice.

And, in that moment, I realize that sometimes I am like that with God.

Now, I don't try to forget Him in my daily walk.  It just sometimes happens.  I get stressed out by the problem of the day, the things on my agenda, the schedule I have created, and I forget that He is there, in everything, a strong indicator of where I am and an even stronger indicator of where I should be going.

And at moments like these, this analogy girl sees more clearly that I need that breath, His breath, that reminder in the cold.  No matter where I am and what I am doing.  For my whole life.

And praise Him, He will be there to remind me.  That's a promise He gives me over and over in His Word.  There is great comfort in that.  Amen and amen.

Breathe on Me Breath of God 
Lyrics:  Edwin Hatch; Music:  Robert Jackson

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Blend all my soul with Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Treasuring in My Heart - Part 1

Well, he's done it!  This is a good "it!"

My seven year old has studied.  He has pondered and asked questions.  And now he's commit his life to Christ through baptism.

Praise God and hallelujah!

Now, in this mom brain, that has brought about a series of emotions and feelings, all in short order.

My first thought when he told me was a very human response, I think.

Well, I guess I'm doing OK raising these kids without Keith.

Again, praise God and hallelujah!

Not that I think I am going to mess them up; and not that I think it's really all up to me.  I just water those seeds in that sweet little soul and pray...and pray...and pray for God to bring the increase.  And He does.

And then my thoughts turn to Keith.  I want to tell him...that I'm carrying on...that we are progressing as a family...that we are moving forward with our lives here on earth.

I want him to be proud of me and the job I'm doing.  I would give anything to see that smile and the love in his eyes.

These are his kids, too.  I want to raise them to be the men of God we dreamed they would be.  That desire has only increased since Keith's death.  I want my sons to be in the image of their earthly father, who had his eyes always on his Heavenly Father.  That is the best legacy that I can give them.

I have a quote that hangs on my wall that says the following (I'm afraid I cannot find the source):

It will be overwhelming.
It will be difficult.
 It will bring you to the end of yourself.
And at the end, you will find Him.

Mothering kids is hard...very hard.  Single mothering can be an extreme challenge, one that I often feel absolutely unable to complete.

But the good news is that I do not do this alone, even with Keith on the other side of the divider between here and Heaven.

And God's grace is sufficient to cover me at my weakest, my most ineffective, my most sinful, my most foolish, my most selfish.

Praise God for His provision! 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunrise and Sunset

There is nothing like watching the sun rise or set over the ocean.

I have lived a large portion of my life on one coast or the other...but primarily on the East Coast.  So, I probably have seen more sunrises on the water than sunsets, at least in my adult life, since I have been walking with God.

One of my favorite sunrises was shared with two friends when we were on a singles' retreat weekend on a Delaware beach many years ago.  We got up early and headed out to the shore, huddling together in the cool morning air.  As the sun broke through the blackness, we sang hymns to our Lord and enjoyed the beauty of His creation.

In my moments of stress, I often go back to the stillness of that morning beach, singing to my Lord.  A day began, full of promise.  Joy was in the air.

But I have learned there is joy to be found in the sunset as well.

My parents moved to Naples, Florida a few years ago.  Gulf side.  Sunsets.

At first it was a bit of an odd concept for me, after years of solitary sunrises full of quiet promise.

Sunset in Naples is an event.  People come and set up chairs just before it occurs, cameras posed, to capture the beauty of display.  There is stillness, but it is a shared stillness as all present pause to look in wonder at the beauty before us.

The end of something lovely; the icing on the cake.

What a picture for our lives!  Joy in all the moments.

I love that we have a God who wants an intimate, personal relationship with who will meet me in the sunrise, full of promise that He's got it, that He loves me, that we will always walk this walk together.  Just the two of us, in quiet solitude.

I love, too, that we have a God who loves us in the sunsets, with others around for our journey, when the times are hard and the day needs to pause in order to be with Him and see Him.  The human family to help transmit the love of God to me here on earth, to sharpen as iron my walk with Him, to share the joy and beauty of the days of my life.

I need both...the sunrises and the sunsets...the times with God alone and with God in groups of  brothers and sisters in Christ.

And I praise Him that He gives me just what I need!

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. - Philippians 4:19-20