Friday, June 29, 2012

E'isms

It's hard to believe he's 4. He has a personality as big as his imagination. I love to just watch and listen as he creates his own world of play. I can't help but laugh at some of the things he says. And for the sake of wanting to always remember, I share these "E'isms" with you.

Eating lunch
E: Mom what IS this?
Me: Noodles and cabbage.
E: Mommmm, stop feeding me GARBAGE!

PunishmentE: You're not my best friend anymore!
Me: That's okay...I'm still your mom.
E: No, I'm not gonna let you!
Me: It's my job. You're stuck with me forever.
E: Forever?? Mom, is that longer than naptime?

A Great Idea
E: Mom, this'll be a great idea, right?
Me: Sure, E! I agree.
E: Mom, it's not a great idea unless I say it!

Creativity
E: Let's pretend this is a fish. Does a fish eat grass?
Me: No, fish don't eat grass.
E: Yes, they do because I said so.
Me: Well, then I guess a fish eats grass.
E: No, mom, a fish doesn't really eat grass...You just have to pretend!

Sunsets
E: Mom, look at the beautiful sunset! Do you love it?! It's pink and purple - PURPLE! Your favorite color!

Love & HappinessE: I love you, mom
Me: I love you too, E!
E: Mom, are you happy?
Me: Yes!
E: Are you happy with ME?
Me: Yes, I'm happy with you. I love you!
E: (Standing up on the bed with arms raised to the ceiling) This is how happy I am!

Attention to Detail
E: I love your pretty eyeshadow.
Me: Thanks E!
E: Mom, are you happy?
Me: Yes, those were kind words that made my heart happy!
E: Do you love me?
Me: I love you SOOOOO BIG!
E: I love you too...but I don't like your hair that way! (it was curly/scrunched)

Bedtime prayers
Me: Dear God, please give Elijah sweet dreams...
E interrupts: And don't forget to ask God to sing songs over me
(From Zephaniah 3:17)
His turtle "Crush"... Duuuude

Training a child in the way he should go. Iced Latte All the way!

Cool Pool Dude

Pool Day!

Where are you?

Troubles chasing me again, breaking down my best defense; I’m looking, God, I’m looking for You.
You ran as fast and as hard as you could – but your troubles chased you down once again. The walls of security you struggled to build are being broken down to reveal what you’ve tried to protect.
Weary just won’t let me rest, and fear is filling up my head; I’m longing, God I’m longing for You.

There is no reprieve from being overwhelmed with worry and fear. You’re taunted with thoughts that wear on your mind and your heart; tormented by emptiness and longing.
But I will find You in the place I’m in,
Find you when I’m at my end,
Find you when there’s nothing left of me to offer you except for brokenness
Where are you? Have you reached the end? Are you in the pit of despair with no escape? Are you broken and empty, hurting and alone? You have nothing left to give. Nothing to offer. No part of you left. And this is exactly the place you’ll find Him.
You lift me up, You’ll never leave me thirsty,
When I am weak, when I am lost and searching
I’ll find You on my knees.
Whatever it is that has knocked you down, brought you to your knees, that is exactly the place you are meant to look up, reach out and find Him. However lost and desperate you are, that’s exactly the point He intends to seek you out, draw you up, and fill you with Himself.
Are you on your knees? Good. Stay there. You’re exactly where He’ll find you.
Find You On My Knees - Kari Jobe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGumE9nkP3o

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fires of Sorrow

"The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow." A word from Oswald Chambers today. It strikes me as a hot coal, which could be taken one of two ways. Either it is to be the coal that cleanses my lips, or it is to be the coal that brands it upon my heart. Either way, I'm taking notice and hopeful it may be a little of both.

Why is it that you must find yourself in the blaze of disappointment? "You cannot find or receive yourself through success, because you lose your head over pride. And you cannot receive yourself through the monotony of your daily life, because you give in to complaining."

Hmm... Let's think on that. As Oswald points out, we can't avoid sorrow, nor can we ignore it. Refusing to deal with the woes of life don't make them go away. So what does it mean to receive yourself in these moments of trouble?

Chambers says, "As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow."

Ah. Here we begin to see. "Receiving yourself" is realizing that no matter what we face or go through, we are to remain who He created us to be. This does not mean remain unchanged. On the contrary, He takes us through the fires of sorrow where He shapes and molds our faith, chisles our personality, and burns away the chaff of character flaws.

He loves us just the way we are because He created us. But because His love is so deep and His purposes so great, He chooses to grow, shape and move us. As we navigate our way through the sorrows of disappointment and the fires of failure, we begin to receive ourselves - that which He created and designed us to be and become. When you find yourself there - in the heat of the flames, in the pit of despair - that's also where you find Him; using the fires and sorrows, troubles and trials to make you into that which He intended when he first created you.

If you're in the fires of sorrow, take courage! The hot coals may in fact bring cleansing; they may also brand this lesson on the interior of your heart. This is the place you will find yourself, that which he created you to be!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

10,000 Reasons

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 
 Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5

The screened-in porch faces the sunrise. It's a clear sky with magnificent colors. I'm thankful.

We woke up early for a weekend - before 7 am - which allowed us plenty of time for cuddling, snuggling, tickle fights, a dog house constructed from pillows, and quality mommy/son time. I'm thankful.

It turned into a rather productive day - 5 loads of laundry, two stories worth of a clean house, clean sheets (I love clean sheet night!), organizing one of two toy boxes and getting rid of an entire bag of toys, grocery shopping, meals planned for the upcoming week, steak kabobs on the grill (I did not get this recipe online nor did any of the contents of the meal come from a box. This is a BIG deal for me!), fellowship with friends and family, and beginning and ending my day with God's words speaking to me.

Sometimes I can read, but I don't always apply. Sometimes I can read, but I don't always feel inspired. Sometimes I can read, but I don't always soak it in. It was different this time. I'm thankful.

I started out by reading Psalm 25. (A great read! Check it out.) I ended the day with Psalm 103, remembering ALL His benefits - recalling the blessings of the day - and seeking to praise Him for it. I laid my head down, filled with joy, gratitude and overflowing with blessing. It had been a "great day." Nothing monumental happened. But it was a combination of all the small things that I could now recount that added up to equal what I felt was nothing short of a blessed day.

I've posted it before, but one of my favorite quotes says, "The fact that you are alive today is proof positive God has something for you to do." I don't even know who said it. I just remember it being written in my mom's handwriting on an index card that was taped to my parents' bathroom mirror.

When I truly stop to take this statement in, it helps me realize I can waste a lot of days. But if I can open my eyes and have breath, then there is a God-given agenda for me. So often I get caught up in the mundane, the routine, the chores, the tasks, the responsibilities. Sometimes I even get caught up in the service, the success or the spotlight. This day was different. It was about the little things. Recognizing my God-given role in housework. Realizing my God-planned part in a family. Acknowledging a God-designed schedule that wasn't at all what I had planned. Can I praise God for these things?! I didn't do anything great today. But somehow He saw fit to fill my day and my heart. I'm thankful.

Recently I've had Matt Redman's song 10,000 Reasons on repeat. I don't always want to praise the Lord when I'm doing laundry, but I'm thankful for clean sheets and clothes to wear. I don't necessarily feel like blessing God when I'm navigating my way through Walmart (there are MANY other things going on in my head during this process), but I'm grateful for groceries and food to eat. I don't always feel like singing praise while doing housework, but having my praise music blasting while I'm cleaning can turn into my very own praise concert (along with the sense of satisfaction from seeing the house clean). I don't always stop to praise God for each and every thing, but if I were to truly recognize ALL His benefits, the truth is I wouldn't be able to stop giving Him praise. Were I to bless His name for each and every thing He does and gives, it would consume my day. Maybe that's the point...

I've got a list to make and some praising to do.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Do you blog?

The blogging community is an interesting one. Along with other forms of social media, bloggers become acquaintances, friends, confidantes and supporters all through URL's and computer screens.

I appreciate the hundreds of people who regularly read my blog. I don't even know who you are or where you are. My "stats" show me more than 20 countries in which this blog is read, 12 or so that access it frequently. I've said this blog isn't for anyone, rather it is my own, but the truth is these are but my words, my experiences, and I'm willing to share. With whom? With you. Anyone who chooses to read. As I say in my bio, I am seeking God and want to bring people along the journey.

Sure, as we've discussed, I get judged, ridiculed, criticized, and even praised. I should write about things less chaotic. I should write more devotionals. I shouldn't share so much. I shouldn't be so honest; I should be more honest. I do love hearing feedback, whether you're brave enough to publicly post or if it sparks an email or private message. (By the way, you can always reach me privately at carriehispraises @ gmail dot com)

All of this to say, today my blog is being featured by another blogger. A friend I've only gotten to know through the blogging community and twitter. Someone I may or may not ever meet, but a life that this silly little blog has touched and impacted. And truly I say...I am humbled, grateful, and give God the glory.

Thank you, Diana, for the words you have said and for sharing my blog with your own readers. I pray you, like Diana, will find some grace in the words I type. Truly it is all to bring Him glory because even today as I've been reminded, I am nothing without and apart from Him!

http://thedianapostulate.blogspot.com/2012/06/feature-friday-carrie-his-praises.html

Make sure to show Diana some love, too!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sum-sum-summertime

We were attending a child's birthday party, basking in the warmth of mid-80 degree temperatures, a clear blue sky with full sun, and swatting gnats left and right in the rising humidity. I casually asked the almost-five-year-old if he was enjoying his summer. To which he replied, "No. I'm not enjoying my summer because it's not summer yet. But I am enjoying my spring." Oh. Okay. I had been schooled by a preschooler. According to my world that revolves around a collegiate calendar, summer "break" began more than a month ago... But to his credit he was right.

Today I may appropriately and correctly wish him a happy summer. Bring it on, I say! I'm usually more of a spring girl with mild temperatures and budding blossoms, but I admit I am enjoying the hot temperatures, warm sun, and the fact that it's light outside until at least 9 p.m. I suppose with wishful thinking I am hoping to truly embrace the "lazy days of summer"...but I am still uncertain if this will be my future or not. I would love to tell you I'll be celebrating by the pool sipping lemonade, but instead I've donned my sundress and sandals as I head off to work.

However you may be spending the day, we are ushering in summer and I'm at least singing "Sum-sum-summertime!" along with The Jamies (yes, I did have to google that). One of the lines in the song caught my attention:


Well shut them books and throw 'em away
And say goodbye to dull school days
Look alive and change your ways
It's summertime...



Look alive and change your ways. Maybe it's time for a change. Maybe with the celebration of this change of seasons, a change in life or lifestyle is needed too. I am certain there are changes I can make that will help me not look alive but feel alive.


I know where to go for these changes. I know what to do to make them happen. I don't have to wait for the season to change or a lazy day by the pool. I simply have to determine that today, no matter what day it is, is cause enough for me to celebrate my life in Christ.


But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus... Ephesians 2:4

Look alive. It's summer. But more than that, you've been made alive in Christ - saved from the death of your sins - if you've accepted His saving grace. He's raising you up today, this day, summer or not. Sunshine or not.

I hope you enjoy the first day of summer, but more importantly I hope you enjoy your life in Christ.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The One

It was a full blown invasion of toy cars. A complete city was constructed out of Legos, a floor mat offered parking spaces and fake trees added to our creative play. We had enough cars to open our own toy car dealership. I grew up playing with Barbie dolls and preparing them for their fashion show, but I admit...I had a grand time pushing tiny cars around and making "vroom" sounds as I entered the world of make believe with my son. That was Monday.

Today is Thursday and the city has long-since been put away, the toy cars making their way back into the toy box. The mat has been folded up, the Legos are back in their container, and the trees are out of sight. (This OCD mama has to have things somewhat in order.) Save but one...

One single bright green convertible car remained out of the box, left in the middle of the floor and out of place. I don't know how many times I'd caught a glimpse of the car in the past 3 days, multiple times thinking to myself, "I need to put that away." I've passed by it, even stepped over it. It would have taken but a few extra seconds and a tiny bit of energy to pause, bend down, pick it up and toss it in the box. And yet, I've left it out, despite it's obvious out-of-place resting spot in the middle of the living room floor.

And then it happened. I was on a mission, as usual. Eyes ahead. Not looking down. Walking across the room. Then....OUCH! The arch of my barefoot met the hard metal convertible car. Blast! If only I'd put the car away on Monday...or Tuesday...or Wednesday...or any of the number of times I had passed by it and ignored it's presence.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'" Luke 15:4-6

I'm so thankful my Heavenly Father doesn't walk past me, overlook me, step over me or ignore my presence. I'm never tossed out, left behind, forgotten or left alone. When I am lost, He seeks me and finds me. When I am alone, He comforts and holds me. When I am wounded, He tends to me. When I am unable to move, He carries me. When I am out of place, He brings me home.

"I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." Luke 15:7

You may feel out of place, lost, alone, abandoned, maybe even wounded and broken. But your gentle Shepherd is coming after you to carry you home and rejoice over you. You are His chosen. His beloved. The one.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why Should I Worry?

It may start as a small concern. It might not even warrant a second thought, but your mind perpetuates the issue into an escalating problem. Mulling it over and over, it turns to fret which quickly corrodes your thoughts and feelings until it morphs into the onslaught of worry. You're held captive by the tormenting thoughts and overwhelming panic. Anxiety has set in and it sweeps over you as you lose all hope of calm.

The fact that you're alive today is proof positive that God has something for you to do...but worrying isn't on that "to do" list!

"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for your good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)

You cannot add a single moment to your life by worrying (Luke 12:25). Rather, moments of worry start to strip away the moments planned for purpose. Whatever you're facing, you can place your hand over your beating heart and be reminded that He has a plan for you and your life. That beating heart exists inside a person He has uniquely fashioned, planning each and every day of your life before one of them even came to fruition. With the inhale and exhale of each breath, He is giving you an opportunity to fulfill His purpose for your life. Truly, you are alive for a reason that He planned long before you even made your entrance on this earth.

The prescription for worry is prayer. Let praises shape your concerns into prayer as you lift your requests to God. The anxiety will be replaced by His wholeness filling you and calming your spirit. As He works in you, He is also at work around you, bringing everything to perfection that concerns you. When He replaces worry in your life, you're left with is a sense of His presence that brings peace and joy, no matter what you're facing.

Don't worry. Trust Jesus. Turn anxious thoughts into prayers. Find purpose in Him and His plan for your life. As the message says in Philippians 4:7, "It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Circus Is In Town

Step right up! The Circus is in town and this is a show you won't want to miss.
             
Juggling Act.

To say there's a lot going on is an understatement. But not to fear because I've become what appears to be a master juggler and expert plate spinner. Nevermind running in a million different directions or losing my sanity in the process. With masterful skills of keeping multiple things going at once, this juggling act is one you won't want to miss.

Walk the Rope.

It's a not-to-be-missed test of balance as I teeter across the tight rope of life. And in true dare devil fashion, there will not be a safety net. That's right - in case of falls, there is the threat of severe injury or loss of life. Don't worry - the waiver was signed and the insurance is all paid up! In the event of loss of life, there's an eternal security plan I have placed my trust in.

Lion Tamer.

That's right. It's as risky as it looks. I'm praying the same angel that was with Daniel in the Lions' Den will close the mouths of these big guys because I've never really been a fan of cats. Needless to say, this is a show worth watching as you see me overcome fear and face the prouling giants. It's mind over matter, knowing full well I could be ripped to shreds at any moment, but without turning my back I keep my cool and maintain control in an effort to tame the beasts before me.

The Ring of Fire. (As dramatic as the line from Nemo - parents of young children will recall this movie reference.)

This is the part where I perform in the center of a blazing ring. It spins and swirls, one inch in the wrong direction and it could singe my hair or burn my skin. In the midst of the firey trial, I steady myself and maintain control within the center of the flames. It's hot and I may escape a sweaty mess, but I'm hoping not to get burned.

Canon Ball.

No, for real. This is where I willingly (or maybe not-so-willingly) climb into the canon and use myself as the propelling force to be catapulted across the circus ring in an effort to land perfectly on the target. Any near miss could result in catastrophy. But I keep my head down, arms by my side and I let the laws of velocity and force compete with gravity as I pray I hit the mark.

Car Full of Clowns.

This is my favorite part. Everyone needs some comic relief, so this is the part of the show when I cram myself into obscurity and let my stupidity speak for itself. If it brings laughs then I have succeeded. If not, then I'll be forced to laugh at myself. Either way, I'm happy to paint on a smile and attempt to share some joy.

Elephant Duty.

More times than not I find myself yanked from the center stage spotlight only to be handed a shovel and scoop. Like it or not, it becomes my responsibility to pick up the remnants left behind even after the show is done. It's the humility of the job that reminds me of my place, but it's also necessary if the show is to go on.

Tickets, Get Your Tickets.

I'm a living breathing example of a sideshow that might cause everyone to stop and stare. You might not want a front row seat but I promise the performances will offer more than just entertainment. Some restrictions apply and all sales are final. You're expected to make the most of it whether you like it or not. This is a show that's guaranteed to teach us all a little about life and a lot about ourselves. The good news is, the Circus is in town and they're not only selling tickets, they're taking applications. Anyone care to join?!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Faith Like A Child

Poppy is sick. He's my grandfather on my mom's side, the only living grandparent I have left, and he's been an intricate part of my entire upbringing. After not getting better from a mis-diagnosis of what they thought was pneumonia, he's been admitted to the hospital for what looks to be heart and kidney complications. The doctor came in to share that he has "a lot of things going on" and said a few words that had the potential to alter the rest of Poppy's life, along with a harsh reality for the rest of us listening in the hospital room.

E desperately wanted to see Poppy and even promised, "Mom, I won't touch him." I explained that he was simply too young to go to the hospital, whether or not he touched him. But at bedtime we read the story of Elijah and the widow's flour & oil. He was thrilled the bible character bore the same name as him. As I explained the prophet Elijah prayed to God for a miracle he reminded me we needed to pray for Poppy.

I started the prayer "Dear Jesus, thank you for today..." I paused waiting for him to join in but he interrupted the prayer, "Mom, don't forget we have to pray for God to make Poppy better." I knew it was at the forefront of his mind. So we prayed for Poppy. I listened to the tender words of a little boy trusting God to help Poppy not be sick anymore and asking for him to come home from the hospital.

We said Amen and he immediately asked, "Is Poppy better?" This childlike faith believed in the immediacy of the answer to our request. For him, there was no question that our prayer had made Poppy better. Why wouldn't it? We asked God so Poppy must be better. At least that's what my four-year-old believed.

"Let's call him," he suggested. He wanted to talk to Poppy.

Over the phone he shared sincere words, the sentiments of a child adoring his great grandfather, saying he loved him and prayed for him. And then he asked, "Poppy, are you still sick?" Poppy said yes and to keep praying, to which the faith of a child quickly responded, "I just did!"

I caught myself thinking, "Sweet little boy, it just doesn't work that way..." and then I stopped my own thought process. "Why doesn't it?" Why had I not prayed with earnest belief so that at the moment of our "Amen" I would have wanted to rush to the phone to ask "Are you still sick?"

With sincere belief this little boy of mine was convinced that our prayer was all it would take to heal Poppy. And with sincere humility this mama was brought to my knees asking myself when was the last time I believed the same of God.

It reminds me of the song I sang as a child, "My God is so BIG. So strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God cannot do!"

Somehow with passing years and 'growing' maturity, I had lost the true essence of a God so BIG that nothing was impossible for Him.

It's my job to train up my child in the way he should go...and yet in this simple act of faith, I was being schooled by my preschooler.

Today we're still praying for Poppy to get better. But I'm not just saying a prayer - I'm earnestly believing in faith that my God is SO BIG there's nothing He cannot do!