March 30, 2011

When the Bride Deceives

We are on day 30 of reading through Proverbs already - Time flies when you're having fun!

Today as I read the Word, this stuck out to me:
"Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar" (Prov 30:5-6)

Which reminded me of this:
"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

Which led me back to this:
"This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.'" (Prov 30:20)

I know my brain works in crazy ways sometimes - but can you follow my train of thinking?

God's word is perfect.  It is truth and it stands on its own.  We are not to try and change it, or add to it, or even "tweak" it to make it "better" or more acceptable.

And yet, there are those that will try.  They will take the "hollow and deceptive philosophies" of this world and try to make the Word of God fit within those principles.  They will try to make it more convenient or more palatable. But you can't because "'my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD." (Isaiah 55:8)

And if we think that those who try to deceive us are just "of the world", we are naive.

March 29, 2011

A Proverbs Pictoral (Days 26-29)

The Icelandic Non-Pancake

I don't think there is a mom out there who has not struggled with getting "stuck in a rut" when it comes to cooking meals for their families. And its bad enough that you want to cook with some variety but you also want to cook meals that you feel are at least somewhat healthy. I have definitely had my ups and downs in this area. There are weeks where I feel like the neighborhood gourmet (watch out Curtis Stone!) and then there are weeks when my level of creativity amounts to sprinkling some cinnamon and sugar on the PB & J's.

Even on my bad weeks, though, I make it a goal to at least try and meal plan just one thing each week that we have not eaten before.  It does not have to be a full meal - sometimes it's a new vegetable or a side dish - anything to break up the monotony of meal planning and to encourage my kids to try new things.  Keith and I love to try new foods and will try just about anything once (except Rocky Mountain Oysters.  Keith tried them once and assures me I would not like them.  Which is good because there is no way those "oysters" would even get near these lips.) - but the kids are another story.  There is nothing more discouraging than working hard on a special meal or new dish, only to have the kids turn up their noses and roll their eyes in unison before you even have it set on the table. *sigh*

Therefore, when one of my kids brings home a recipe and says, "Mom, we've got to try this!", I am on. it. like. Blue. Bonnet. (sorry.) So when Isaac excitedly brought home a recipe this past fall for "Ponnukokur" or "Icelandic Pancakes", I was more than happy to give it a try.  But first we had a problem - in order to make these pancakes", you needed to have a "medium sized non-stick pan" and we did not own one.  I know you are wondering how we can cook without a frypan.  We have a pan but it is one of those large, deep family style pans.  It is great for hot dish and frying fish or chicken.  Not so good for stir fry ...or Icelandic pancakes.  So in November, when Keith and I went to IKEA for our anniversary our big purchase was this:

Exciting, huh?  Happy Anniversary!  Actually, we LOVE this pan.  It is the perfect size and everything cooks in it wonderfully.

March 28, 2011

Just One More Round: LOL!

Ok - this is a quick one but I just had to share it.

Isaac and I went for our run today.  It went much better than my last run: I kept my focus and I was feeling pretty good - until about half way into the run.

I started to struggle a little and was, once again, wondering "why in the world" I was doing this to myself ... then I heard this:

Round one wasn't what I thought it'd be
Round two I'm struggling to breath
3, 4, 5, 6, 7 times I wondered why I stepped inside this ring

I seriously laughed. out. loud. Right there on the treadmill - in front of the whole gym.   I am sure they thought I was nuts but God used that moment to remind me that he does have a sense of humor - and the rest of that song, especially the line "I'm pushing through the pain that tries to feed me lies that I won't reach the end,"  got me through to the end.

So here's a little Barlow Girl to get you through what ever you may be struggling with today.  You may be knocked down - but not for the count.  Just keep on swinging...

(If you can't view the video, please click HERE.)

I may be knocked down and bruised
But I'm here to tell you
That I may be knocked down but not for the count
So take me one more round
I'll just keep fighting
One more round
You're messing me up but I'm still here
One more round I'll come out swinging
One more round
I'm telling you now I'm not gonna lose it

It's so hard to get up off the floor again
But I know that victory is when
I'm pushing through the pain that tries to feed me lies that I won't reach the end
I may be bloodied and so bruised
But I'm here to tell you
That I may be knocked down but not for the count
So take me one more round I'll just keep fighting one more round
You're messing me up but I'm still here
One more round
I'll come out swinging
One more round

I'm telling you now I'm not gonna lose it
I am not defeated
Though you cannot see it
I have never won a battle on my own
I find strength in weakness
I find hope in believing
God is for me who can bring me down?
So take me one more round
I'll just keep fighting

One more round
You're messing me up but I'm still here
One more round
I'll come out swinging one more round
I'm telling you now I'm not gonna lose it here
I'm not gonna go down now
Try to bring me
I'll come out swinging 

Get Wisdom! for Kids

I came across something yesterday that got me really excited. It's a book for kids called "Get Wisdom: 23 Lessons for Kids about Living for Jesus" by Ruth Younts.  It is a fabulous little book that can be used at home to teach your children some basic principles about how God wants us to live - and in light of what we've been learning in Proverbs this weeks, I thought it was just perfect!

At the website, you can even preview a few pages to see what you're buying.  I took a peek and really liked what I saw: simple, yet well written, lessons to teach our kids about things such as obedience and faithfulness.  And for the next few days, the book is only $4.49 - that's 50% off.  Here is a little more information from the website:

Publisher's Description: Question: What do our kids need? Answer: They need wisdom. "Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom." Proverbs 4:7

Designed for parents or teachers to use with children from K-5-through Grade 4, twenty-three lessons illustrate qualities of wisdom and godliness. Each lesson is presented in a simple format with illustrations to capture the attention of the child, and supplemented at the back of the book with suggestions for teaching the lesson. Every child of God - both adults and children - should work hard to show these traits more and more, because we love Jesus and want to be like him. That's easier said than done, isn't it? We struggle with sin every day, and we will fail. The lessons remind us that when we do, we will find forgiveness and the grace to continue to get wisdom at the foot of the Cross. (92 Pages - Published April 2011)
I hope you check it out and even pick up a copy - I know I will be.  If you don't have kids of your own, I think this book would make a great gift. And though the recommended ages for the book is ages 5 - Grade 4, I don't think our kids, or we, are ever too young or too old to get a little wisdom.

To purchase the book, go HERE.

March 27, 2011

I Was "That" Close...

I almost quit today.

I was that close.

Isaac and I went for our run: 5 minute brisk walk, 7 minute run, followed by another 5 minute walk. Sounds so easy.

Just 17 minutes of exercise...some say it's supposed to be good for you.

Until you get to minute 7... and your heart starts protesting at the extra exertion.

Until you get to minute 9 ... and your mouth dries out because you can't catch your breath while trying to breathe through your nose.

Until minute 10 ... and everything  in. you.  wants to give. up.

"But God, I don't want to be a quitter!" I cry out in my mind.


I remember I have my iPod there for a reason.  I force myself to stop watching the countdown on the treadmill and instead focus on the song that is playing...

Every time I'm on my knees
Pleading for your strength
I will find you there, find you there

Every time I'm on my knees
Reaching for your strength
I will find you there, find you there*

Breathe...and focus...5...4...3...2...1...!! 

Yes!  I made it and I. did. not. quit.  Thank you, Lord!

"I lift up my eyes to the hills —   where does my help come from?  
My help comes from the LORD,  the Maker of heaven and earth.   
He will not let your foot slip —   he who watches over you will not slumber." 
(Psalm 121:1-3)

Keep your focus ... on the right thing.  Get your eyes off the clock, the news, the world...yourself.  And lift them up to the Lord - from where your strength comes.

And then, keep on running...'cuz you're that close.

(If you cannot see the video, go HERE.)

*Jeremy Camp: Everytime

March 26, 2011

Check It Out!: Christa Wells

If you have a few minutes, click the button above and then just listen.

(If you can't see the link, click HERE.)

I just love Christa Wells' music - it is so beautiful and inspiring.  When I listen to her music, I cannot help but feel encouraged and refreshed.  I pray you enjoy it as much as I do!

March 25, 2011

A Duty to Pray: Randering Through Proverbs (Day 25)

"Remove the wicked from the king's presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness."
Proverbs 25:5

My son is a United States Marine.  His ultimate duty is to protect this country and its Commander in Chief - no matter how he feels about the Commander in Chief.  If you were to ask him about his job, his response would be "I have a job to do, and I will do that job to the best of my ability."

No emotion. No opinion.  Just a statement of fact...and duty.

And just as my son has a duty to protect his Commander in Chief, we have a duty to pray for him.
"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."  (I Timothy 2:1, 2)

Notice it does not say, " ...for kings and all those in authority, if you like them and completely agree with their policies and agendas..."


I know that being President is not an easy job and even the strongest, most faithful man would struggle underneath the pressure.  I also know that politics in America is, unfortunately, a dirty game - filled with many who could be described as "wicked" or even worse.   So when is the last time I prayed that our president would be protected from their influence?  That God would remove the "wicked" influences around him and surround him with godly men full of faith and humility? Or that God would give him wisdom and discernment? Or even that God would strengthen and encourage his family?

*crickets chirping*

Yeah, I'm thinking it...I've got a little work praying to do.

Will you join me?  And while we're at it, let us not forget to pray for our troops and their families who sacrifice so much for us on a daily basis.

Be blessed...

Big Changes and A Kinda-Big Redo

Two weekends ago, we tackled a project that to say I had been "putting off" would have been a HUGE understatement.

On one hand, I was excited to finally give son #2 a much needed space of his own.  Sharing a room with his much loved, but very different (temperament & personality wise), brother was putting a little strain on their relationship - and a lot of stress on momma. So when son #1 signed on to the Marines, we told #2 he could move into #1's room.  That was a year and a half ago...

Because on the other hand, making this transition required some major letting go.  For 16 years this was favorite son #1's room.  We watched him grow up in this room - changing the decor as he changed and matured: from Mickey Mouse to airplanes to a "world traveler" theme.  It was his space and it reflected so much of who he was through all the tennis trophies, root beer bottles and stacks of favorite books.  

And after he left, it was the one place I could go and feel close to him.  When he was in boot camp, I would go to his room and sit on his bed and pray for him and write his daily letter.  I would often sit in his chair to have my quiet time - and be encouraged that God had his hand on him.  And yet, I could not get away from that fact that even though the room was still full of his "stuff" - it was no longer full of "him." 

*sigh*   I miss my son.

However, my biggest problem is worrying about how Chris will feel on the next rare occasion that he gets to come home.  We live in a small house without a lot of wiggle room - no big family room, or guest room or even a small den with a pull out couch.  Chris works hard serving his country in the USMC (Ooh-rah!) and when he comes home I want him to have a comfortable space to dump his stuff and relax and be refreshed.  And instead, I worry that by packing up his stuff and redoing "his" room, he will come home and feel "displaced".  I don't ever want him to feel like he is an outsider or that we have "moved on without him" - I want him to know that we love him and miss him and wish he was here with us.  

And most importantly, I always want him to be able to walk in that front door and know that he is home.

And so it was with much hesitation and a few tears that I slowly began packing things up and Chris' room became Chris/Isaac's room.  It still had a lot of Chris' stuff in it and it also had some of Isaac's things tucked in here and there.  I had removed Chris' hand-made quilt from the bed and put an inexpensive comforter on it (no one gets to sleep with Chris' quilt but Chris - I had to draw a line somewhere) and Isaac and I picked out a couple of things to hang on the walls to go along with his "modern knight" theme.  And that's the way it sat...for months.

Hence, the kind-of-before pictures 
(you'll have to excuse the pics- this is a very small narrow space and taking good pictures is a challenge) :

And we had to figure out what to do with this: a very heavy 3 foot long sword.  Isaac & I bought it out with out thinking "what do you do with a very heavy 3 foot long potentially very dangerous in the wrong hands kind of sword?"  No, we just thought it was cool and so home it came...

Then Chris came home over New Year's.  He sorted through a few things, threw a few things away and packed a few things to take back with him.  And I knew it was time.  So I took a big breath and Isaac and I picked a weekend to tackle the project, sweated over paint colors, bought a cool new bright orange lamp and got to work...

With a little guidance, Isaac picked out the colors for his room and I have to say he did a great job.  I also have to say I was really worried at first because, in my head, bright green and light blue with a little "pop" of orange do NOT sound good together - but we were very relieved to find out that they do go together.  And it also helped that we found the perfect comforter to pull it all together.

And here are the results (again, small room = not so good pics) :

We turned the bed around to make more floor space.  This is such a small space so making this one change made a huge difference.  In the back of this picture is one of my favorite things about the whole room now:  the 8 foot long shelf we put all along the back wall.  It pushed the bed out from the wall about 9 inches, making it easier for Isaac to tuck the bedding in when making the bed.  And gave him a lot more room for his books (we never have enough room for books in this house  - a good problem to have, I think.)

I think it turned out great.  We still have some finishing touches to do(eventually).  I'm looking for some kind of mural or wall art to put on the sloped ceilings (a large crest/sheild) but it looks like Isaac doesn't mind and he has settled right in (with little brother right next to him.)  And, yes, as you can see, we found the perfect spot for that sword.  It should stay out of trouble there (I hope.)

Oh, and one last very important picture...

Isn't he cute?  That's my resident handy-man and, nope, you can't have him.  I mean, seriously, he even works with a smile on his face - how often can you get that kind of service anymore?

In conclusion:  Yes, emotionally, this was a hard project to do ... but it was worth it.

And I know, Chris will still come home and I'll fuss over him and his brother's will annoy him and his dad will beat him at Monopoly and I'll make him ham and lots of mashed potatoes and probably a chocolate pie or two...

And though things may look a different on the outside - home is still...home.  And there will always be a couch ...or an extra bed ...or an air mattress sleep on.

After all, once you're part of this're stuck with us.

'Cuz that's the way we roll...

Chris - I hope you know how much we love you and we hope you can come home...soon!

March 24, 2011

Visual To-Do List Progress Report

A while back I posted about about my growing To-Do List. I am happy to announce that I have made some small progress on that list. I began in my office/craft room by tackling two years of school papers and other miscellaneous.

Here is the "before":

And here is the after:

A job well done, if I do say so myself, and it only took two episodes of "Murder, She Wrote" to get it done.  Makes me wonder why in the world I put it off so long. (Foolishness and mayhem is why...)

Today, I also checked something off my mental to-do list that is probably a lot more important:  I had friends over.  I called the elaborate (total sarcasm) affair a "Sack Lunch Social" - which basically means they brought their PB&J, can of soup, Subway or leftovers to my house for lunch.  I provided dessert, beverages and background music.  My friends came and went as their schedules allowed for work, etc and we had a great time.  I didn't clean house (ok - I did shove the stuff that had been piled on the kitchen counter into another room) and I didn't spend hours prepping a meal.

But 6 ladies showed up with their soup and sandwiches and we just fellowshipped.  And I was so refreshed.

Thank you to each and everyone of you that came over.  Its been way too long since I've had uninterrupted adult conversation.  *contented sigh*

And on top of that, God made the sun shine just for us.  Cause that's just the way he rolls...

Now its starting to feel like spring.

Be blessed...


I am also linking up to A Slob Comes Clean: Spring Spruce Up and Organizing Junkie: 52 Weeks of Organizing .

Toby Says 'Get Back Up': Randering Through Proverbs (Day 24)

Yesterday was the lo-ongest day e-ver. It was a "snow day" here in North Dakota, due to a late winter/early spring storm, and the kids were home from school - so it should have been a great day to hang out with the kids.

But unfortunately, I do not get paid to not go to work, so I managed to drag myself out of the house into the blowing snow to go to work for a few hours. Blech.

When I got home, Isaac and I changed into our running clothes and headed to the gym for our run. For the first time since we started training, I had absolutely no motivation to do this. Instead, I wanted nothing more to crawl up on the couch in my jammies and hibernate. To make matters worse, for some reason the temperature in the gym was set at "sauna" and I thought I was going to pass out from the heat. Even Toby Mac couldn't serenade me out of my bad attitude.

We got back home where I proceeded to break something, lose something, and then realize I'd bought the wrong ingredients for a recipe I needed to make that night.  Is this day over yet?

I was in a crabby funk.  Remember that picture from an earlier post?  Yesterday, that was me.  It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go right.  Top it off with having to look out my front window and instead of seeing clean streets, melting snow and snow crocuses peeking out of the dirt - all I saw was another 6 inches of snow and streets filled with ice and slush.

(Would you like to go get me some cheese to go with my "whine"?)

I started writing this post with the intent of covering my Proverb for the day.  Now I have no idea where I am going with it.  *sigh*  So I'll try this:

"For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again." (Proverbs 24:16)

Yesterday, I had a bad day.  But today is a new day and I thank God his mercies are new every morning.

Yesterday, I had a little "falling out" - with myself, my attitude and even with "mother nature".  But today, with God's help, I will rise and get back up again.

Which ironically, brings me back to Toby Mac. Check it out:

If you cannot not see video, please go HERE. much better.

Today the sky is clear and blue and the sunshine is streaming in the windows.  With God, and little help from my man Toby, today is definitely going to be a much better day...

March 23, 2011

Randering Through Proverbs : Defenseless (Day 23)

"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue,
he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.  Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless
is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress 
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
 (James 1:26, 27)

"If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” 
but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." 
(James 2:16, 17)

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
(Matthew 25:40)

The poor...the widow...the fatherless...

They are all around us.  And they need our love...and our compassion.

How are we defending those that cannot defend themselves?

March 22, 2011

Randering Through Proverbs : Legacy of a Good Name (Day 22)

When we moved into our home seventeen years ago, the first people we met were our neighbors to the east - Pastor Al and Tessie Aleson. Pastor Al was a recently retired Methodist minister and Tessie was his wife of over 50 years. Over the next seven years, this couple were true examples of graciousness, godliness and generosity to us and our family.

I never heard them complain or speak a critical word about anyone - but I always heard plenty about the goodness and greatness of God.  When we were with them, we knew that we had their full attention and that they truly, and I mean truly, cared about us. Through the years, they told us often that they prayed for us - and we knew that they meant it. "Christianity" was not just an "outward" thing for them but an inward personal lifestyle that came from having a real relationship with Jesus Christ.  Al & Tessie were not the way they were because Al was a pastor.  They were the way they were because they were passionate about Christ and that was reflected in everything they did and said.

In 1998, after much prayer and a long 8 year wait, we found out that I was pregnant with our second child.  Unfortunately, we had started a disastrous remodeling project on the second floor of our home where the nursery was going to be.  With a major gaping hole in the side of our house and a partially missing roof, we had to fire the contractor that started the project when it became obvious he had no idea what he was doing!  I was an emotional and hormonal mess and we were completely overwhelmed.  Pastor Al came to the rescue by finding us a new contractor to finish the work and by the time I was 8 months pregnant, most of the room was finished except for the trim.

Pastor Al, who was also a carpenter, offered to help me trim out the one window in the nursery.  Keep in mind, I was 8 months pregnant and Pastor Al  was 76 years old and struggled with an anemia type blood disorder that caused him to fatigue quite easily.  So our project went something like this:

Up the stairs (almost two flights).   Stop: pant - deep breath - rest...
Measure window.
Go down the stairs. Stop: pant - deep breath - rest...
Cut wood.
Go up the stairs.  Stop: pant - deep breath - rest...
Check wood for fit.
Go back down stairs.   Stop: pant - deep breath - rest...
Adjust cut of wood.
Go back up stairs.  Repeat previous steps. (You get the picture...)

That one window took us all day but it will forever be the squarest, most perfectly trimmed window in our whole house.  And every time I look at it, I think of Pastor Al and his care and diligence; his patience and compassion.

Pastor Al died not even two months after our Isaac was born.  When he died, there was definitely a sense of emptiness - we knew there would be no more chats over the back fence or helpful advice about parenting, marriage, our Christian walk or our endless remodeling projects.   And my heart grieved the fact that Isaac would never know the man who prayed for him before he was born - or even conceived.

Pastor Al's funeral was packed.  People came from all around to celebrate the life of a man who gave so much for so many.  Tessie died almost exactly 8 years later and her funeral was the same way.  And although there were tears of grief, the over all sense at both events was of joy and celebration.  Everyone that was there had nothing but wonderful memories of Al and Tess. They had lived full and honorable lives and everyone that knew them could, and did, testify to that.  And most importantly, there were no doubts that both Al and Tessie were dancing on streets of gold - we were all assured of that. 

While on this earth, Pastor Al & Tessie were not rich but I don't think they or anyone else would have ever noticed - because they were blessed.  Their lives overflowed with joy and peace and life.  And they passed down that legacy to their children and their children's children and even to their 17+ great-grandchildren.

For those of us that were not related by blood, we were still family to them.  And I know that in some ways, we share in that legacy also.  And for that, I am eternally grateful.  I will never forget the example they set for us and I can only hope that someday my name will be held in the same high and precious regard as that of Pastor Al and Tessie Aleson:  Children of God.  People of Faith.  Bearers of Christ.  Compassionate Friends. And the best neighbors...ever.

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." 
(Proverbs 22:1)
"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor." (Proverbs 22:9)

"He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend."
(Proverbs 22:11)

Randering Through Proverbs : A Delicate Invitation (Day 21)

"He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor" (Proverbs 21:21)
When I read this today it reminded me of a parable someone sent me the other day. It went like this:
"A woman came out of her house and saw three old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat.” “Is the man of the house home?”, they asked. “No,” she replied. “He’s out.” “Then we cannot come in,” they replied.

In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. “Go tell them I am home and invite them in!” The woman went out and invited the men in. “We do not go into a house together,” they replied.; “Why is that?” she asked. One of the old men explained: “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, “He is Success, and I am Love.” Then he added, “Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home.”

The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How nice!”, he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth.” His wife disagreed. “My dear, why don’t we invite Success?” Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!”

“Let us heed our daughter-in-law’s advice, said the husband to his wife. “Go out and invite Love to be our guest.”   The woman went out and asked the three old men, “Which of you is Love?  Please come in and be our guest.”    Love got up and started walking toward the house.  The other two also got up and followed him.

Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: “I only invited Love, why are you coming in?”

The old men replied together: “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would have stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with Him.  Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!”"

Who wouldn't want a little more Wealth and Success in their life?!  But what if you could only have it without Love?  In the pursuit of wealth and success, we must be careful that we do not "shut the door" on Love.

Because when you have love - that true deep love of good friends and family - you have true wealth and success.

And that, as they say, is priceless...

Randering Through Proverbs :The Good Side of Failure (Day 20)

"Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find" (Proverbs 20:6)
"Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin." (Proverbs 20:9)

No. One. Is. Perfect.

No matter how hard we try - perfection is impossible.  And believe me - I have tried.  I have tried to be the perfect parent, perfect spouse, perfect friend...and have failed miserably time and time again.

But I am OK with that.  Not the "striving for perfection" part because I really know that is pointless and I need to learn to give it up.  And, slowly, I am (have you seen my messy house lately?  Ugh.)

What I am OK with is the "failing" part.  Why? Because, first of all, I am learning that "trying my best" is really good enough.  I am only one person and I can only do so much.  And my best...well, is my best.

But secondly, my God tells me I don't have to be perfect.  He knows I am going to fail no matter how hard I try.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)
All of us fail - day after day.  We fail our friends, family, ourselves...and God. We could despair over this - we could beat ourselves up and remind ourselves over and over what failures we are.  Or we could look to God's word and find hope:

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
"...and [all] are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ." (Romans 3:24)

God knows it all.  And way back when, before we were even a glimmer in our creator's eye, he saw every one of our sins and failures.  He knew we were going to disappoint him and rebel and fight against him.  And yet, he loved us - warts and all.  Enough to die for us to make up for every one of those sins and failures and imperfections.

They don't call it "amazing grace" for nothing...

Be blessed.

March 19, 2011

Randering Through Proverbs : Love Disciplines (Day 19)

20 years ago, a woman I knew from a certain social activity confided in me about problems that she and her husband were having with their teenage son. They were at the end of their rope and just didn't know what to do anymore.

About 6 months later, I started working with this young man. We often worked together in an area where it was just the two of us and, as we got to know each other more, he began sharing his side of what was going on at home with his parents. There was nothing too earth shattering. He had never been abused, he had been well cared for, his parents were supportive in his activities, he had nice clothes and was well fed (even for a teenager!)  In fact, some would say he was a little "spoiled": he had a nice car, lots of spending money (even when he didn't have a job), and expensive sports equipment.

But he said something that I will never forget: "I just don't think they really care what happens to me."

I was shocked because after hearing his mother pour her heart out to me several months ago, I knew this wasn't the truth!  So I asked him why he didn't think they cared about him.  He went on to tell me about numerous times he had done things he knew were wrong, gone home expecting to be punished or at least receiving a good "chewing out", and heard...nothing.  Soon he started doing things deliberately to get their attention: getting a speeding ticket, acting out in school, purchasing cigarettes and leaving them "hidden in plain sight" at home for his parents to find.  His parents reactions?  Nothing.

I don't know what his parents were thinking when the chose not to say anything but I know how this young man interpreted their lack of action.  As rejection.  His acting out was nothing but a cry for attention from a little boy who wanted to be reassured that his mom and dad still loved him.  He wanted to hear them say "No, we are not going to allow this behavior because we love you.  Because we know it will hurt you.  Because we want better things for you."

He wanted discipline. But when he didn't receive discipline, he felt rejected and unloved.

I know that by the time I worked with him he had a serious gambling problem and was very likely an alcoholic.  He had moved out of his parents home, even though he wasn't 18 yet, and was living with friends.  He worked with me for a few more months and then "moved on."  I don't know where this young man is now but, I can tell you, I think of him often and every time I do, my heart aches.

I know raising a teenager is one of the hardest things in the world!  And as a parent it is almost impossible to not question just about everything you do.  There is no perfect parent and I know that I have made a bazillion mistakes in the process of trying to raise my sons.  But there are two three things I have learned:
  • Never be afraid to tell them "NO." 
  • Always, and often, tell them how much you love them.
  • You need God's help - his wisdom and direction are vital!

"Discipline your son for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death."

Proverbs 19: 18

I cannot write this post and not recommend, what is to me, one of the best parenting books ever written.  I wish I would have had this book 20 years ago.  It's called "No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It" - by David Walsh.  It will not only help you to be a better parent but will also give you a great understanding of why our American culture is the way it is today - which is why I recommend the book for non-parents as well, especially if you are in any field that works with children or young adults.

March 18, 2011

Randering Through Proverbs : Unscalable Walls (Day 18)

Good Morning!  The sky is blue and the sun is SHINING.  Can I get a "Wah-hoo!"  (I am just  a little excited - can you tell?)

Let's get started - on to Proverbs 18! (I told you I was a little excited today. *smile*)

"The wealth of the rich is their fortified city
they imagine it an unscalable wall." (Prov 18:11)

When you close your eyes and think of "security," what do you picture?  A big house, a huge bank account, a large and growing 401K?  We could work hard and sacrifice and attain all that and then shout from our roof tops:  "We have arrived! We did it - nothing can stop me now.  I have it all and nothing can touch me."

But notice in verse 11 that it says that
"they imagine(d) it an unscalable wall."
They thought the wall they had built from
their wealth and possessions was safe and secure... but it wasn't.  Their perception of
security was not was fantasy.

A figment of their proud imagination.

"Before his downfall a man's heart is proud..." (v.12)

How much time do I waste, struggling in vain, trying to figure out how I can save myself?  Or trying to protect myself from the daggers the world throws at me?  How often do I think that more money or more investments will give me security?

No matter how much I strive or sweat or grasp...nothing on this earth gives me what I really need.  That one thing that I truly long for ... peace.

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." (v. 10)

God is the only "strong tower" that will never fail or fall.  It is only within the walls of his protection that we will find safety.  And it is only when we run to him that we will find unimaginable peace.

"The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:5-7)

Be blessed...

Random Updates

First off, a couple of quotes I read today that seem to line up with our journey through Proverbs this month:
"Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd preferred to talk". ~Doug Larson
“Watch your thoughts; they become words.Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” - Frank Outlaw
I think the only thing I would've added to the second one is:  Watch your friends, they become your future.  (I know I've heard that somewhere, too, but not sure where.)

Second, a running update.  Isaac and I are just finishing up week two of our From Couch to 5K program and I haven't passed out yet it is going well.

I have to remind myself often that I don't have to run as fast as my light footed 12 year old (or as far as my Mighty Marine.)   I just need to do better than I did before - at my own pace.

I was a little discouraged after our first run when I realized
that at that rate it would take me 66 minutes to run a race
that the average person runs in 25.  *sigh*  But I have been tracking my progress and I have already cut that time
down to 53.5802446 minutes (not that I'm being particular 
or anything).  Seeing that much of an improvement in such
a short time really gets me excited and I am almost
convinced I can do this. 

I won't be re-naming myself "Runs-Like-the-Wind" anytime soon but, eh, I'll get over it...

Have a great weekend!

March 17, 2011

Randering Through Proverbs : Changing Perspectives (Day 17)

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope no one got pinched because they forgot to wear green. :)

We are on day 17 already - where is this month going. It truly has been a big blur.

I did a LOT of underlining and circling and "starring" in chapter 17. God's word is good stuff! One verse that has always been a favorite is verse 17:
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
This verse means so much to me because I want so desperately for my 3 boys to have that bond that only brothers can share.  It has always been a concern for me that with them spread so far apart in age, they would not develop that bond.  But I continue to pray that over time they would grow to understand the value of family and, when times get tough, that they would always know that their big (or little) brother has got their back!

But the verse that really hit home with me today was verses 21 & 25:
"To have a fool for a son brings grief: there is no joy for the father of a fool...A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness the the one who bore him."
Before kids, or even while my kids were still quite little, when I looked at this verse I thought it was talking about how embarrassing it would be for parents to have "screw ups" for kids.  I mean, what would the neighbors think?

No parent wants their children's shenanigans being the talk of the town, right?

But now that our kids are older, I see this verse from a little different perspective.  As parents, we have so many hopes and dreams for our children.  We want life to be better for them than it was for us.  We want them to have the "best", to succeed and excel at everything they do, to have great friends and avoid the same pitfalls and mistakes that we made in our younger years.

But when things don't go well for them, when life is hard or even when they make foolish decisions - sometimes with dire consequences - it is not shame or embarrassment that we feel.

It is grief.

March 16, 2011

Randering Through Proverbs : Hunger and Faithfulness (Day 16)

Chapter 16 is a good one! There was so much in this chapter that encouraged me and reinforced everything I've been reading over the last couple of weeks. At this rate, I might actually learn something!

So on to what stuck out to me today: one verse led me to ask a troubling question and the other to rejoice in awe of my awesome God.

Giving Spring A Hand

Lately, several people in blogland have been posting all these beautiful pictures of the little signs of Spring that are popping up around their homes.  Crocuses, tulips, and a multitude of flowery and fragrant tree blossoms...

Totally depressing.

You see, I do not live in sunny Florida, mild Missouri or even tolerable Ohio...I live in North Dakota.  And any possible signs of Spring up here are still buried underneath 3 feet of snow.

But us North Dakotans are resourceful and so, once in awhile, we like to give Spring a little help - and that is why every year at this time, I buy a bunch of these:


I get these daffodils from a local organization that sells them to raise money for the American Cancer Society.  They may not look like much now but soon... they will be a delightful, sunny, happy sprig of Spring.

Randering Through Proverbs : Refrigerator Smorgasbord (Day 15)

I sat down to post this last night, only to find out our internet server was down.  *sigh*   Thankfully, it was going to be a short post anyhow!

First, two verses that encouraged me in the area of how I speak to those around me:
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger...The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." (v. 1 & 4)
Those are good words!  Let us speak gentle words that bring healing and life.  The world seems to do a good enough job on its own stirring up anger and crushing spirits.  Lets do our best to make sure we are doing it in our homes.

Second, a random verse that caught my eye:

March 15, 2011

Better Cake Now Than Never...

My birthday was two weeks ago and I, very sadly, did not get a birthday cake.

Until today.  My husband snuck out of the house to pick up a cake mix and then make me my favorite chocolate cake.

As I always say, late birthday cake is better than no birthday cake.

And so today, this is my lunch... 

And I am happily having another piece for dessert.  Oh, yeah...

March 14, 2011

Randering Through Proverbs : Daring to Shake a Stranger's Hand (Days 13 & 14)

I did not blog on Sunday - it was family chill day.  So here's my thoughts on both Sunday and Monday's Proverbs.

Sunday - Proverbs 13: My thoughts in a nutshell..

  • The sluggard craves and gets nothing...(v.4)
...very good advice against being lazy but I admit I like it because, once again, we get to say "sluggard"   *smile*
  • A man's riches may ransom his life, but a poor man hears no threat. (v. 8) cannot lose what you do not have.
  • Dishonest money swindles away, but he who gather money little by little makes it grow. (v. 11)
...everyone thinks you need to hit the jackpot to "make it rich" but have you ever figured out how much you could have saved by just putting away $5/week for 20 years?
  • He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. (v. 20)
...I pray my children, young and not so young, choose their friends wisely.
  • He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. (v. 24) need and want boundaries.  Boundaries give children a sense of security and stability.  Children who never know boundaries are insecure, selfish and will look for love in all the wrong places.  Never be afraid to tell your children "No."

Monday - Proverbs 14: Daring to Shake a Stranger's Hand
"He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy,  Do not those who plot evil go astray? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." (v. 21-22)

I am naturally shy.  It is VERY difficult for me to step out of my comfort zone to approach people I do not know very well - or even worse, try to start a conversation in a social situation, with someone that is not closer to me than my best friend. Yikes!  Scary...

I have said before that the part about church I hate the most is when the pastor tells everyone to stand up and "greet a few people you have never met before."

*groan*  ...   *groan again and roll eyes*