Thursday, July 26, 2012

Supreme Blessedness

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
~ Matthew 5:3-19


The Beatitudes. It means supreme blessedness or exalted happiness. It seems a bit ironic that those suffering and enduring know supreme blessedness, but it seems this is exactly what God has planned.

I heard a speaker present the Beatitudes this way:

(Blessed are the poor in spirit) Blessed are the broken, (Blessed are those who mourn) Broken to the point of weeping,(Blessed are the meek) Humbled past worldly things,(Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness) To the point of being filled with only God
(Blessed are the mercifil) Able to give mercy to others,(Blessed are the pure in heart) Able to live with a yes heart to God,
(Blessed are the peacemakers) Striving for peace despite the circumstances,
(Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness) Willing to sacrifice for God's glory.

I'd be the first to tell you I want supreme blessedness, but I'm not so sure I want to sign up for all the things I must endure in order to receive the blessings He's promises. But if I do:

If I'm broken,
I'll inherit His kingdom.

If I'm hurting and crying,

I'll receive His comfort.

If I'm humbled beyond what the world can offer,
He will lift me up.

If I'm filled with only Him,
I'll be filled to the point of overflowing.

If I give mercy,
It will be shown to me.

If I live with a yes heart to God,
I'll know His presence in my life.

If I seek to bring peace,
I'll be known as one of His own.

If I am willing to sacrifice for His glory,
The promises of eternity are mine.

Supreme blessedness - To know no matter what we face in life, there is an eternal promise of blessing, happiness, joy and completeness He brings. It's a tall order to fill - for Him and for me. Thankfully, unlike me, He never flounders or stumbles in fulfilling His promises.

Be blessed today...with supreme blessedness. Whatever you face or must endure, may you know and experience the fullness of Him and His blessing in your life.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Dimple

"Look mom! Look at me!"

I turned to see my boy grinning from ear to ear. The wide open smile revealed the little spaces between his baby teeth. The apples of his cheeks were perfectly round. His chin was proudly pointed toward the sky. Eyebrows raised, nearly every muscle in his face was straining to hold this smile. He was certainly over-emphasizing the expression on his face, and seeing him made me smile.

"See my dimple," he said, "aren't I cute?"

I couldn't help but smile and laugh.

"I LOVE your dimple!" I told him. "It lets me know you're happy." I planted a kiss right on his dimple, as I so often do.

"Mom, are you happy?" he asked, his face somewhat relaxing.

"Yes! You make me happy." I assured him.

"Where's your dimple?" he wanted to know.

I explained God didn't give me one.

He continued, "Are you happy at me?"

"Absolutely! I'm happy at you, and with you, and because of you," I told him. Then I showed him the biggest smile I could (sans dimple, of course).

It's a permanent crease on the right side of his face, the mark that tells this mama that my boy is happy. He's got a smile that can melt my heart and turn any bad day good. Standing before the mirror he was examining his own expression. I love that mark of happiness. A simple dimple that grows deep whenever he smiles. I know its an outward expression but it reflects the joy he holds deep within.

The other day he told me, "Mom, I want to pray about something....Dear God, I love you very much! Amen. I think God is happy about that!"

I think if God has a dimple of his own it must have surely been visible after that prayer!

I pray for his heart. I pray against the things that will try to steal his joy. I pray he will know and feel I am "happy at him," but even more He will come to know Creator God who placed His very own thumbprint in the dimple of his cheek is "happy at him" too!





Monday, July 23, 2012

Roots

At times when I get stressed, I go on cleaning and purging rampages. In this particular case it was therapuetic weed-pulling. Yank, yank, yank. One at a time. I was proud of my diligence, and determined to purge the weeds overtaking a place they simply didn't belong. When are weeds ever really welcome anyway?!
Usually the overgrown weeds are whacked with a weed-eater. Repeated, countless times. Hack away and they disappear...at least for a week until they start to resurface again.

There were a few times I grabbed a blade or two only to rip them from their root, leaving an unseen portion behind. Not satisfied I went at it with more vigor. How much strength must one exert to be rid of weeds?! I was about to find out...

I grabbed a handful and wiggled them free from the surrounding sand and dirt. Then I pulled...and pulled...and pulled. A bunch of weeds standing only 3" high revealed a twisted and intricate root system  nearly double in size.

But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word. ~ Matthew 13:21

No matter how many times the weed whacker decimated those weeds, they were not permanently removed because there was a growing, thriving root system deep within. Those weeds, wanted or not, would continue to grow and return because of what had taken root underneath the surface.

Okay, understood. That without a root system cannot survive. That with roots will continue to grow. So the next question to ask is what lies within the root system?

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. ~ Hebrews 12:15

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. ~ Romans 11:16

I've got some weeds that need to be pulled. Not just hacked off at the base but yanked from their resting place, that which cannot be seen deep under the surface. These are the roots that need to be dealt with, removed, and purged. Roots so deep and twisted they cause trouble and infiltrate the soil and prevent good growth.

I've also got some branches that need to be firmly planted. This isn't about just digging a little hole and hoping for the best. This is about preparing the ground, removing the weeds, and fostering a place of growth. I must provide constant care and attention, tending the soil and nurturing a place for a holy root to grow and produce righteous branches.

Maybe you need to do a little weeding. Maybe you need to do a little planting. Maybe you need to do some of both. I'll meet you outside. I've got some gardening of my own to do!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Unredeemed

When you consider the "stuff" that happens in life - the life-altering diagnosis, the consequence from sin, the fallout from devastation, the tragic blow from someone else's hand, sudden loss and painful endings - we can wonder why but sometimes things just don't make sense. 


I'm sure many could echo my sentiments and say, "I never knew life would turn out like this..." 


You may have unanswered questions and unexplained situations. You may have unnecessary pain and undue heartache. You may be left scratching your head wondering how in the world you ended up here and how on earth you will recover.

What's shattered in our lives is what we can bring before Him as our offering. Broken pieces of hearts, unfulfilled dreams, failed plans, and fallen lives. These are the things He takes and shapes. He holds and molds, fashioning all the ideals we had about what could have been into miracles we could have never fathomed.

What remains unfulfilled in your life? What is the longing of your heart that leaves you aching? What is the prayer you've uttered without ceasing? What have you yet to take hold of? What is it that remains unrestored? It seems impossible, right? 

You may not see how this could possibly be salvaged. You, in your own strength, may not be able to endure. You might be looking at the impossible knowing you're simply incapable. You may be sweeping up the powdered pieces of your heart, or picking up the broken shards of your life with hopeless despair. And here - in this place, in this state - this is the place His grace is soon to be amazing.  

Redeemed - to pay off, to cover in full, to buy back. Its antonym? To abandon.

Oh, be still my aching heart. I cannot contain what this stirs inside me - to know He won't abandon me, no matter what I've done, no matter what I face. To know He has paid the price for my life, recognizing on my own I am nothing. Realizing I am not left to remain in this broken, fallen state. Rather, these places of hurt, tragedy, sickness, ending, starting over, and everything else that seems unsalvageable are where His grace floods the soul. This is where He enters in. This is where He restores. This is where He fulfills. He will not leave you or what you face unredeemed. This is the song of my heart. I pray it will comfort yours too, whatever state it may be in. 
Unredeemed - Selah

Friday, July 20, 2012

When Tragedy Strikes


1 Corinthians 14:33
I woke up happy, wide awake at 6 a.m. when the alarm went off. I didn't even hit snooze. "Mmm...it's Friday!" I thought to myself and I got even happier.

I went about my morning routine. I never bothered to check my phone or even look at social media feeds. I was singing to myself as I got ready, never thinking to turn on the radio as I usually do. I spent the drive into work in prayer so I still had not yet made contact with the outside world.

It wasn't until I arrived at work when a colleague started talking of the overnight tragedy.

"What tragedy?" I asked.

She looked at me stunned that I was completely ignorant and began to share the breaking news.

I am ashamed to admit that even as a former news producer I rarely find time to watch the news. I immediately turned on the radio, began scouring news sites, and caught myself up on the story that everyone was talking about.

A recent discussion in Sunday School lead to our teacher reading headlines and stories straight from the daily paper. It was just a week after the wind storm that devastated our community. We talked of the "end times" and read from Matthew 24:

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. vs. 6-8

It's easy to ask "Why" and wonder how such a tradgic event could happen. It's also human nature to question people, motives and the circumstances that seemlingly tell of more and more darkness. People against each other. Fighting. Hurting. Devastation. Natural disasters. Yet, God's Word tells us not to be alarmed - that these things must happen. How can this be? Why would a good, Sovereign God allow such pain and tragedy?

This isn't a post about free will or the corruption of man. Rather, I simply seek to bring peace in the midst of confusion.

Just because I was unaware of the situation that took place overnight doesn't take away the effects it's having on families, communities and even our nation. It stirs emotions and thoughts in us all. I grieve for those who have lost loved ones. I also think of the family of the shooter. I wonder about him, his past, his life, his family, his experiences, his mental and emotional state and how life got so bad that the best thing he could do to cope was hurt others and destroy lives so greatly.

I can't explain everything. I can analyze all I want but I won't be able to figure it all out. All I can do is pray for those involved and make sure that which concerns me spurs good and not evil. The shock of news like this cannot paralyze us from doing our part to share peace and hope.

Don't let evil get the best of you but conquer evil by doing good. ~ Romans 12:21

However this has impacted you, however you may be coping, remember He brings peace and comfort.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. ~ 1 Corinthians 14:33
Previous Posts & Songs of Encouragement:
http://carriehispraises.blogspot.com/2012/07/not-for-moment.html
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eX-D2xsS84


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Heart Speak

There's not much I can get past my 4 year old. He listens to and repeats everything. I'm pretty sure I can set a world record for how quickly I can spell S-T-U-P-I-D. Among others that are no longer said but spelled include D-U-M-B, J-E-R-K, I-D-I-O-T (that's a fun one to spell), and my favorite, C-R-A-P.

Does spelling it out remove the emotion I'm feeling? No chance.

I've turned any version of "Oh my gosh" to "Oh my goodness" or "Oh my word."

"What the heck" has most certainly been replaced by "What in the world." And any chance of a slip, I simply utter "HEAVENS!" It seems to fill a variety of roles in my effort to clean up my act.

I don't think I could be classified in the category of "potty mouth" but most assuredly I've come to realize what I do and don't want my young son to repeat.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~ Psalm 19:14

This verse is a true reminder that more than my slang-turned-spelling, I want the words of my mouth AND the meditations of my heart  to be acceptable and pleasing to God, not just tolerable for a 4-year-old's ears.

What does this mean? I can spell a slang word but it doesn't take away what my heart feels or what my head thinks that I simply refrain from blurting out.

Words of encouragement. Sentiments that edify. Thoughts to uplift. Those don't just come "out of the goodness of my heart." On my own, my heart is "deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) What I fill my heart with is what will flow from my lips. These things come only when I seek the Source of encouragement, edification from His Word, and am filled with His goodness.

I've peered into those places of my heart and it truly is sickening. Were there any haughty thoughts of my own "goodness" they are vanquished by the darkness I see in me. And so I cry out, "Create in me a pure heart, O God." (Psalm 51:10) A broken and humbled heart He won't deny (Psalm 51:17) so I offer the pieces and seek His healing.

Here's my heart. It's broken and tattered, deceitful and dark. There can and will be no good thing in me apart from Christ. I'm seeking to replace any form of corruption so that which fills my heart may be the words, actions and offerings of Christ in me... Only He is good. May Jesus be what my heart speaks.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The First Thing Is...

Ah. Hello blog. It's been a long time. I haven't sat down to write in a week. Last week's posts were all written in one swarm of inspiration and scheduled for release. (Now you know one of my secrets.) It's been busy - really busy - so I'm just now finding a moment to catch a few quiet moments to blog.

Today I'm writing from my mommy heart, capturing yet again the heart of my precious child. Last week he thoroughly enjoyed himself in an underwater adventure also known as Vacation Bible School. Wall murals straight from the movie "Finding Nemo" have now made their way to the walls of his room and playroom. (Thanks to Nana for confiscating some of the leftover VBS decorations!)

He was thrilled to come home each night and repeat the bible story they'd been taught. But his teachers were more than eager to share that by Thursday night's bible story time, E proudly announced, "The first thing is you have to be saved!" Reportedly he was preaching. I wish I could have seen it!

Even today as we prayed on our morning drive, I asked if there was anything he wanted to talk to God about and he told me, "I want to tell Jesus how much I love Him!"

Then he asked me, "Do you love God?"

The heart of a child. It melted the heart of this mama.

It was March 31, 1984. I was 5 years old and I had heard my Sunday School teacher share how we needed Jesus to save us from our sins so we could go to heaven with Him. I came home to tell my mom I didn't want to die without Jesus and I wanted to ask Him to save me from my sins. I don't know the words I prayed but I have a vivid memory of kneeling by my bed and seeking Jesus as my Savior. It started there...but it most certainly didn't stop there.

These instances have made me all the more aware of this little boy who is soaking up every word, every bible story, every prayer, and everything he sees in me.

I want him to see that yes, I love God, but not only that, it is a part of my very existence. I want him to know and understand what he was "preaching" to his VBS class - that the first thing is you have to be saved, but that is just the beginning. It's not just a fleeting prayer. It's a heartchange, a life commitment. The beginning of a lifelong relationship with eternal impact.

As I see his personality developing, as I watch the changing temperment, as I witness him learning how to handle his emotions, as I observe his interactions and relationships with others and secretly spy on his creative mind during imaginative play...I am reminded of a heart that rests inside this little boy. A heart that I pray will grow up to love and serve Jesus. A mind I pray will seek wisdom. Eyes that I pray will see needs in others. A voice I pray will carry the good news. Hands I pray will seek to serve. Feet I pray will go wherever God leads. And at the beginning of it all is the first thing that I pray will be a commitment this little boy makes.



Friday, July 13, 2012

What are you waiting for?

Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.
~ Isaiah 64:4

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
~ Psalm 27:14

Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
~ Isaiah 40:31

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
~ Psalm 62:5



Wait. To remain inactive; to be available in readiness; to look forward eagerly.

Oh yes, this is one of those "easier said than done" lessons that I simply struggle to contend with. If I could but apply this principle of what I'm willing to wait for and what it means to me then I am certain I'd be willing to wait longer, with less grumbling, and surely I'd display more patience.

To remain inactive. Being still before the Lord. Being utterly surrendered.

To be available in readiness. Still, yet prepared. Ready and willing. Filled with hope in Who He is and not just what He can do.

To look forward eagerly. Allowing what I long for to be replaced with my desire for Him. Seeking His will and His heart instead of going after His blessing.

What I value is Him. So I will wait.

This is where my strength is renewed. This is where my hope is restored. This is where I find rest. This is where my heart is filled. This is where I find Him.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Not For A Moment

A few weeks ago my town endured a wind storm that caused such wide spread power outages and devastation that many people are still cleaning up, reparing and recovering.
Maybe you're in the midst of a storm with the wind and rain tossing and pounding you. Maybe you survived the storm but now stand surveying the devastation around you.
Maybe you're basking in the sun shining brilliantly from a clear sky, hoping and praying no clouds form on the horizon.

I love the quote on this, "Don't confuse your path with your destination. Just because it's stormy now doesn't mean that you aren't headed for sunshine."
I have but one simple thing to share: Not for a moment has He left you alone. Sovereign God is keeping you, even through the storm. He is good, despite the devastation you may face. His light shines upon you, whether or not you're sitting in the sun.
I just heard Meredith Andrews' new release, Not For a Moment. It echoes the cry of my heart, and anyone else, who has lived through or is currently enduring a storm.

Not for a moment He forsaken you. My prayer for you is to know and seek Him as your refuge. He is your deliverer and stronghold, no matter what storm you're weathering.

"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." ~ Psalm 18:2
Not For a Moment (Scroll down on the page & click the play button under Meredith's picture)

You were reaching through the storm
Walking on the water
Even when I could not see
In the middle of it all
When I thought You were a thousand miles away
Not for a moment did you forsake me
Not for a moment did you forsake me

After all, You are constant
After all, You are only good
After all, You are Sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me

You were singing the dark
Whispering your promise
Even when I could not hear
I was held in Your arms
Carried for a thousand miles to show
Not for a moment did You forsake me

And every step, every breath, You are there
Every tear, every cry, every prayer
In my heart at my worst when my world falls down
Not for a moment will You forsake me

Even in the dark
Even when it's hard
You will never leave me

After all, You are constant
After all, You are only good
After all, You are Sovereign
Not for a moment will you forsake me

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We All Fall Down

Ring around the rosies
Pocket full of posies
Ashes, ashes
We all fall down

As children we circled round and round and laughed as we fell to the ground. As adults, it seems we spiral out of control until we find ourselves falling with no safety net in sight. It may be as simple as a stumble or as devastating as a face plant. Whether the bottom has dropped out or the ground has turned too cumbersome to navigate upright, at some point we find ourselves falling down.

I've learned a thing or two about falling, from personal experience of course. Whether by my own faulty hand or poor choice, or as the victim of someone else's insidious decision, I've had a few costly trips. Bumps and bruises, scrapes and cuts - there are scars I bear as a result of the falls I've endured. One thing I've learned - bandaged and bloody, limping and hurting, you can't stay down.

Part of the fun of the childhood game was getting right back up and doing it again. "Ring around the rosies..." and time after time we circled and fell.

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." ~ Psalm 40:2

You can't stay down. He won't let you. He seeks you out of the pit and rescues you from your fallen state. He plants your feet firmly on a foundation where you can stand strong in Him.

"He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." ~ Psalm 18:19

Repeated references show His desire to rescue us, no matter how hard or far we've fallen. He delights in you, His child, and He wants to bring you to a spacious place where you can stand firm.

"With Your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall."  ~ Psalm 18:29

Will you fall again? I can't say with certainty, but my guess it is highly likely. But with His rescuing help, with His perfect strength, you will not only just stand again, you will rise.

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. But wait for this promise!

...to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. ~ Isaiah 61:3

He replaces ashes with a crown of beauty. He trades mourning for gladness. He exchanges despair for praise. And then...wait for it...He plants us as oaks of righteousness. Did you get that?! An oak, deeply rooted, firmly planted, standing tall to display His splendor! Oh now I want to stand and shout!!!

Stand tall today. Stand bearing the branches that wave in praise and honor of who He is. Stand knowing the stumbles and falls are the crowning jewels that display His power and might. Stand so the tears and sorrow are the leaves of gladness and worship. Stand so the spirit within you boasts of His Spirit living in you. Stand!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Carrie His Praises

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting in a Master's level Worship class where singer/song writer/worship leader Paul Baloche lead the 60+ students and worship leaders in impromptu worship and song writing. He started by showing the class how he came to write "Your Name," pulling straight from scripture. He talked...then sang...of the Lord's name being a strong tower and a shelter. He went on to pray in Jesus' name, for Him to fill our hearts, to give us strength, so all we do would glorify His name.

It's one of those moments where the presence of the Lord is so strong you can barely breathe. I sensed it in every fiber of my being. I sat in awe of God, humbled by my humanity, broken over my frailties, seeking to give back something that might be of worth.

(Disclaimer: I already know this post is going to upset some people. Oh well.)

I am truly grateful to God for the ability to sing that He has blessed me with This isn't meant to boast in the least. It's a talent and a gift that has taken me all over the world. I've sung and ministered to ten's of thousands since I've found myself regularly on stage over the past 15 years. I can remember years ago getting so nervous I could barely catch my breath before I would go to sing. I would pray, "Lord, please sing through me. Let it be You in me. Use me but never let me think it has been me." It taught me to be completely reliant on Him. I also admit the more comfortable I got on stage, the easier it became to just get up and sing.

In the last few years, I've come to realize the major difference between being a singer and a worship leader. There's a lot I could say about this. The responsibility. Living above reproach. Testimony. I haven't always lived up to being more than just a voice on stage. I never want that to be the case, but I know that each and every decision I make bring me either closer or further away in my walk with the Lord. This not only determines my choices, attitude and decisions, but it dictates my ability to worship. If I am not an open, willing and clean vessel, I can actually prevent the Spirit from moving in and through me, hindering others in the process. I'm not going to linger anymore here, lest the stone throwing begin.

Singing is one thing, but worshipping is another. As Paul Baloche said, "You must see yourself as a pastor who uses music to help others worship." There have been many a Sunday morning I've stood on stage to sing and haven't felt an ounce of the Spirit in me. I've stood broken down, beaten up, covered in sin, unwilling, undeserving, and unworthy... Despite that, and inspite of myself, God has blessed, moved, and ministered. But as sure as I live and breathe, I am positive I've missed the mark and the opportunity to minister on more occasions than I care to count.

He challenged us to think about the people we minister to. "Petition God for a love to be cultivated for the people you serve." It's that song I posted a few weeks ago:

If I sing but don't have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice
A hollow noise


Being a singer has given me opportunities and privileges that go beyond anything I could have dreamed for myself.  But leading others through worship has taught me more about people than any other life lesson. The question Paul asked us that rocked me to my core was, "What happens when someone actually follows you?" On a good day I'd say, "Yes, come along! I'm on fire. Let's lift up the Lord together!" But on a bad day...conviction.

So hear this from my heart:

I mess up. I fail. I'm not perfect. Please don't put me on a pedstool because I promise to fall off. And it most likely won't be with grace. Why I share, why I sing, why I blog, is because God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and though time and time I fail Him and you, I want to give Him honor and glory for His neverending faithfulness and unconditional love. Because of what He's so generously bestowed to me, I bring that as my offering and share it with you. Are there skeletons in my closet? Sure. Tucked away beneath undeserved grace and mercy. I've put all that on the altar, too, and asked Him to use what He will.

I've also come to realize that no matter what may be 'good' about my display on stage, it is more about what happens in my every day life lived when no one sees. This is my true act of worship. And these are the places I want to examine and ask "What if someone follows?"

It's a challenge, for sure, and I'm thankful for the lesson. It's the namesake of this blog: seeking to live my life to bring Him praise, not just in song, but in all I do. I know I've not learned the lesson yet. I think it will be one of those 'life-long-journeys' - and I'm thankful for that too!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mud Puddle

                
 

  MUD PUDDLE!!!!!!!






5 kids + 1 kiddie pool + 1 hose = Hours of fun

In typical "E" fashion, he started to throw mud into the pool. He wanted to make a mud pie and this was his recipe. I deterred him from any further mud-slinging since other kids were also wading in the water The kids were covered in grass clippings, Virginia mud, and soaked. But they were having a blast and we were letting them.

Unbeknownst to me, the water hose was left on, so hours later I had a mud bowl instead of a backyard. E discovered it before I did and he was already swirling around and around in what was, I'm sure, every boy's dream of a "bath tub." I walked outside only to realize what he was doing and before long he had his float in the middle of the muddy pool. He was wading in it, bathing in it, playing with it, throwing it...and in HOG heaven (yes, I went there)! Oh what fun a boy can have in a mud puddle.

He's the kind of kid who seeks out every puddle and runs straight toward it only to SPLASH right in the center. That's my boy! And ordinarily this girly-girl who loves makeup, adores getting her hair done, and absolutely goes berzerk over a new outfit would have been FREAKING at this mucky mess, but it was all I could do to just let him enjoy it.

Am I trying to draw some spiritual conclusion here? We could discuss the mess that happens when a running faucet is left on and unattended. We could talk about the muck we find ourselves wallowing in despite the pool that sits just feet away. We could share of experiences stuck in the pit having to dig our way out. We could even draw conclusions from how we're drawn straight to the mess...

Today I think we'll just let a little boy enjoy his mud puddle and a mama enjoy watching her little boy be who God created him to be!

Friday, July 6, 2012

How to Train Your Dragon

It's a cute movie. I saw it once before and now, thanks to my laptop, it can travel with us and be played over...and over...and over again. (When he finds something he likes, he sticks with it.)

Needless to say, with many hours resting and recovering this week, I've truly lost count at how many times I've watched Hiccup learn how to train dragons. I think I might be ready to try my hand at dragon training...

In my case, I'm looking for the movie (or book) on how to train my 4-year-old, who, believe it or not, at times can resemble a fire-breathing, nostrils-flared, temper-tantrum-throwing dragon. In true "E" fashion, I share with you more of his "E'isms."

Tonight I stepped into a tub of water exclaiming, "E! Why did you leave water in the middle of the floor." To which he responded, "Mom! Why did you step in the middle of my turtle's tank?" Excuse me. 

This morning he got in trouble for saying the word "Shut-up" - twice. Two spankings were my immediate response. He huffed and "growled" at me (yes, growled) and said, "I'm frustrated at you because I just wanted you to be quiet so I could hear my movie!" And so I reminded him, "Then simply use the words be quiet." He reasoned, "But you wouldn't have listened to me." Hmph. 

His affectionate and loving ways never cease to amaze me, and after getting sick yet again today, he asked "Mom, are you happy at me?" Wanting to reassure him, I confirmed I was happy with him just sad that he wasn't feeling well. He made sure I knew, "I'm happy at you, mom!" 

In yet another moment I never want to forget he says, "Look at me!" and he's beaming from cheek to cheek. "Look at my dimple!" I always tell him how much I love his dimple - and then I plant one right on it! I just know in a few years he'll be running the opposite direction when I come anywhere near to kiss or hug him. 

Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6

In order for me to train him up in the way he should go, I must first seek the Lord in the way I should go.

I wonder how many times He looks down at me, nostrils flared from anger, throwing a tantrum when I don't get my way, breathing firey words instead of sharing words of kindness and love. In those moments I can't imagine He is any kind of happy at me. 

His promises are true, though, and despite my scaley exterior and fire-breathing attitude, He continues to want to smile at me and show me His love. Often times He has to scream at me to get my attention. Just when I think He's messing up my plans, I realize He has a different set all of His own. Our perspectives vary greatly, but I'm thankful He's not finished with me yet. 

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills His purpose for me. ~Psalm 57:2

I am His child and He's still investing and pouring into me so that His purposes might be fulfilled in my life. And following in this example, I seek to invest and pour into this little 4 year old, who may resemble a miniature version of a fire-breathing dragon, but I'm sure it's only because he's learned by example, too.

It's dragon-training time!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Comforts of Home

Nearly one week ago our community was rocked by a storm called a "Derecho." I've never even heard of it, but I can now say I lived through it. The winds that caused extreme damage, thousands of downed trees and power lines, and millions without power found me putting things into perspective. It is with great rejoicing that not only did I live to blog about it, but now I can blog about it in my cool, lit up home. Thank You, Lord, the power has been restored! There are still dozens even in my neighborhood, and hundreds - if not thousands - throughout the town that remain in the dark.

I became somewhat of a vagabond after the virus E had spread to me and most of the family we were staying with. I had dinner at one friend's, food in another's freezer, laundry and clothes at several locations (not to mention piled in the back of my car) and - thankfully - a traveling pillow where I could lay my head each night. One cannot live (or sleep) without her memory foam pillow! :) I am so appreciative for the friends and family who opened their homes, hearts, kitchens, and everything else during this time of being displaced.

Dad & I cleaned out 5 refrigerators, made 3 trips to the dump and threw away more than a dozen garbage bags of food (mine, mom's, Lindsay's & Matt's). The trip to restock was enough to make you gulp. Even worse was the nastiness I cleaned out of some of those refrigerators. Enough to make you GAG! Especially after having a stomach virus.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinithians 4:18

As I read 2 Corinthians 4:18 this morning it helped me remember this whole inconvenient circumstance is only temporary. Eventually everyone's power will be restored. Trees that fell are being chain-sawed into pieces and hauled away. Damage done to homes will be repaired. With time, this will all pass. Even as I type sitting in my air conditioned home, I recall that just a year ago I was watching this very structure be rebuilt after a devastating and inconvenient circumstance. I threw away dumpsters full of belongings so a few hundred dollars worth of groceries seems to pale in comparison.

We celebrated our nation's freedom with family, friends and some backyard fireworks...and a regained appreciation for the "comforts" we enjoy and often take for granted. I'm thankful to be home, and I'm thankful for the comforts of home. But I'm also mindful to not get too comfortable because this is all just temporary.

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And because I'm naturally "cheesey" I made up a song in light of the recent situation:

There is power, power, wonder working power, in my home, Praise the Lord!
There is power, power, wonder working power, the lights are on at home!

(Sung to the hymn "There Is Power in the Blood")

Hope you're all in the light with me!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Unexpected

It's been five days in a row that have each brought something unexpected, unplanned, completely out of the ordinary. Some good, some bad, some interesting, and some...well, some I'm still not sure what to think.

Unexpected to say the least. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all. Friday hit with a bang. Literally. I can't even tell you what exactly happened - but we experienced some of kind massive wind and thunder storm that knocked power out for millions. I went to bed thinking the worst of the storm was over, never realizing I'd wake up Saturday to the town in disarray.. I remember being up at 2 a.m. and realizing I was without power. Days later, we're still not expected to have electricity until later this week, maybe even the weekend. Completely unexpected and even unexplained. The devastation is unbelievable. The lines at the gas station, drive thurs, and grocery stores were jammed. Lynchburg and surrounding areas were simply not prepared for this. The downed trees destroyed homes, vehicles, power lines and anything else in their path. It's truly been unbelievable.

We found a cool spot to play - Amazement Square had power and with the forecast for 100+ degrees, we needed air conditioning. Just hours later yet another unexpected eruption from the backseat when my poor baby was getting stick in the car. I was stuck in traffic - the roads were bumper to bumper - and I did my best to pull over as quickly as I could. He couldn't stop. I was trying to get him to the doctor but he simply couldn't stop being sick. He needed his mommy and I needed mine. She came to drive us to the hospital as I held a limp little boy in my arms. I admit - I was scared to death. Hours in the ER, he was dehydrated, overheated and had a bad virus.

Another 2 a.m. wake up call - only this time it was my turn to get sick. I supposed having taken care of him round-the-clock and having him pracitcially sleep on top of me for a few nights made it inevitable. This is one of the worst stomach bugs I've had or seen.

We've got 6 adults, 5 dogs and a 4 year old in a 3 bedroom house so we're sharing the love and spreading our germs. :( But I'm thankful that after the storm, the sickness and everything else, we had a place to go with power and air conditioning.

You can't always explain why things happen. You can't always prepare for things either. We're still not sure what to expect or when to expect the power to come on. Considering the record three-digit temperatures and everything else we're combating, I'd really just like to be at home in the comfort of my bed. But I'll take the unexpected and all that it brings. I'm still not sure how exactly to respond to it all...but I'm living one unexpected day at a time.