31 January 2010
26 January 2010
Ransomed Heart is the ministry of John & Stasi Eldredge. I cannot say enough about them.
This is John. He's the guy who rocked the Christian literary world with Wild at Heart breaking the mold for books about manhood.
And, this is Stasi. She and John bared their souls in Captivating reminding us of the treasure that is the heart of a woman.
OK. They have explained: A book about men, a book about women... The next obvious choice was to write a book about marriage. But, seriously, I know I've asked it before, but how many of the gazillions of books about marriage out there do you find to be almost useless and disappointing? Most? Me too.
It's like most of the books about "the challenging child"... Usually, I end up thinking, "Wow, their 'challenging child' sounds like my easiest! Gimme that kid any day of the week!
Marriage is HARD. Why didn't anyone tell us this?! Marriage is hard in the best of circumstances. You take two people who are so crazy about each other that they'd like to be superglued lip to lip for all eternity, and you put one in a gorgeous gown and one in a tux, and you have them say "I do's" and -- VOILA! Bippity boppity boo! They can barely make it through one meal without starting World War III.
It's hard. Really, really, really hard. We don't get each other. We don't know the right things to say, nor the right things to do. We cannot read each other's mind. We hurt each other without even meaning to... and, let's be honest, sometimes with absolute intention. Add to that stressful issues like money, parents, sex, jobs, church, friends, and kids, and it's a wonder any marriage survives 10 years!
What used to be sweet now falls flat. What used to be give-and-take now feels more like give-and-give-and-give 'til Kingdom come. What used to be endearing is now just annoying. Hope seems absurd and resignation inevitable. That's not to say that there aren't wonderful, beautiful, delicious seasons when relating to one another is easy and sweet, when puppy love blossoms all over again, when you can't get enough of one another, and the sex is seriously off the hook! Oh, how I wish we could bottle those seasons! And the amazing sex, too!
But, stoking the flames of love takes a great deal of work. Come on, if you've been married more than five minutes, you know what I'm talking about.
John and Stasi wrote Love & War and have recently embarked on a book tour.
Last weekend, Michael and I got to hear John & Stasi Eldredge speak on their Love & War Tour. Food for the soul. Oh my, we were both so inspired, as were the other couples with us, Curtis & Karen (He is Eldredge's agent, which is just beyond cool if you ask me!), and Chris & Christi.
I raced to the back to be first in line to give Stasi a hug and slobber all over her about how much I loved Captivating, how it spoke to my heart like my own blood and guts were spilled out on the page, you know, soul-sister type praise, and how I just wished that there was an action figure-sized Stasi I could keep in my pocket. She's just wonderful.
I think I scared her pretty good. She probably got a restraining order.
Anyway, now Michael and I are reading Love & War together and enjoying every minute. It is a deep and rich read, which I recommend with all my heart. Pray for us because marriage books have been known to be used as heavy objects to hurl at one another. And, please, let us know if you are reading it as well so that we may pray for you!
23 January 2010
You know how it goes. When you're really working on a particular discipline, you will be presented with very tough situations in which to practice and put some muscles on it. So, in my house we've been working on honoring God in our behavior, which means that we are all running headlong into circumstances in which it would be really, really easy to not do so.
Yesterday, my practice circumstance looked like this.
A snotty lady we encountered while running errands stood there sneering at my precious children (4 white, 1 black) and fumed with disdain,
Its funny because as soon as I saw her and watched her lips curl back in disgust as she took in the sight of my beautiful, multi-ethnic family, I knew she would say something caustic. I took a deep breath before the ugly words came flying at us and prayed that whatever I did or said would be honoring to God.
the aid and adoption of orphans."
and just looked back at her with peace on my face as she continued to glare at us.
YES! I almost did a ridiculous victory River Dance with my hands on my hips and my feet flying around right then and there!
For those of you who are wondering if we experience racism often, the answer is no, thank the Lord. Most people who say anything at all are completely lovely. But, when we have encountered racist ugliness I have really struggled with how to respond in a Christlike fashion and not *ahem* say something that is satisfying in the moment but that I regret later *ahem*. Especially when it's the N-word. Yeah, that's a toughie.
So, this was one of those spiritual muscle-building moments in practicing honoring God in my behavior and I did it! I spoke back instead of stammering like an idiot and chose words that I wouldn't regret later and...
20 January 2010
Sometime mid-2008, we wrote and memorized a list of some of our Family Maxims. When my flinging-flanging computer died late last summer and maliciously devoured its own password so I couldn't even retrieve any data, reciting our credo during family devotions kind of slid by the wayside. (I finally played frisbee with it so I think it learned its lesson in the end.)
Anyway, since we hadn't spent time on them in a while, we decided to spend a week focusing on each.
Monday began Week One:
All of our behavior is measured against this standard.
The first day I awoke all revved up, fresh faced, ready to roll on polishing up my honoring God. So exciting! The morning went beautifully. Awesome family Bible study. Worship time with the kids. Marg on guitar and Ricker on drums, the rest of us on various rhythm instruments. (Let's not digress here about the virtue of a kazoo in a worship band. Let's just put a pin in that one and we'll save it for later.)
Anyway, that's when the whining, and crying, and interrupting one another, and pretty soon some shouting here and there began and I started to stumble a wee bit with my honoring God attitude. The non-honoring God behavior was soon to follow. Honestly, by the end of a very long, vexing day I was ready to drink Drano feeling pretty humbled and dishonorable. Shoot.
OK, Day 2. Fresh start.
Epiphany... "All of my behavior"... Behavior is action. That doesn't mean I don't have an occasional moment of, say, wanting to stick a fork in someone's eye... It's that I don't actually do it! Instead, I need to wait. And think. And pray. And ask the Lord to show me what is the right and godly choice in this particular moment. I don't think he'll whip out "Stick a fork in thine neighbor's eye", but I'm not putting it past Him because He does have a pretty fantastic sense of humor and irony.
That's really all it is. Taking the 10 second breather and deciding to behave in a way that is honoring to God.
I know it's become sadly pithy, but
What would He do? What did He do in every situation? He honored God the Father, right? And all of His behavior was a blazing testament to that simple standard.
It means I need to weigh everything about my life in light of honoring God. All of it. Not just my behavior because really that's just the fruit. Baby steps!
So, really, this is The Biggie. When I truly live according to the first commandment (upon which this is founded), then the rest is actually supposed to follow organically.
By the way, in retrospect, I think God totally would have played frisbee with the old computer. He would have smote it for sure.
08 January 2010
Well, I'm a little late posting this, but don't be alarmed, I've made my resolutions! Here they are for 2008 and 2009. Hopefully, with the Lord's strength, I'll do a little less disastrously this year...
01 January 2010
God is good. Always.
Anybody else have a challenging 2009?
Come on. Show of hands.
Well, it was hard for us.
In so many, many, many, many ways. I mean, don't get me wrong, lots of really wonderful, beautiful, fantastic, miraculous things happened, too. We celebrated 10 years of homeschooling by... well, nothing really except saying "Hooray!" After Mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, we had the JOY of her being completely cancer-free in 2009! We celebrated Valentines with some beautiful people! We got outta Dodge for a romantic weekend in Pasadena. Evangeline became an Evangelist. Michael and I vacationed in Cancún for his 40th, which was amazing even though I'm still smarting over el stupido waiter's comment. Our beautiful niece, Penelope Rose ,was born! I got a fabulous weekend away all by myself at the beach for Mother's Day! Woot woot! Jackie got a huge surprise during field trip week in San Diego - He got to meet the Veep. Now that I'm looking back over my blog, there were a few pretty funny moments. We got to go to the Ethiopian Mehaber in Minnesota, which was such an incredible, and moving, and fun experience and a major highlight of the year, and we field tripped a ton and had a reunion with brother Jon and his family. Jackie, our future Marine, got into an awesome school. Poppy's open-heart surgery was a success, praise the Lord! Our older two kids went on a few mission trips including traveling to Canada with their church group. They also, like last summer, spent two amazing weeks at JH Ranch in Northern California! We finally finished our house remodel. And, that's about when my computer died, so the blog got very, very ghostly quiet. Anyway, trust me when I say that we also had a great vacation to Santa Barbara. AND, we got to take a trip on a private plane (Air Thorne, or as we like to call it "PamAm") with with wonderful friends, the Thornes and the Plotkins to visit the Alexanders in Dallas and see U2 in concert. Yeah, I must admit, that rocked. And, we moved to a lovely new home down by the beach with a view to kill for.
But, mostly 2009 was hard. It blew, really. Well, looking back at that last paragraph, it doesn't really sound like it did. But, it did.
Hmmm. Thinking about it, 1999 was an absolutely torturous year for us and frankly I'm disturbed by the pattern. 1999. 2009. So, in 2019 I'm putting myself into an elective coma. Just in case.
Which would be a very convenient time to have plastic surgery. New girls. Liposuction. Maybe permanent eye-liner. Not so much so you'd notice. Just a little "freshening up".
The only thing that worries me is... Well, did you know that the way they do permanent eye-liner is by tattooing it on? That gives a whole new meaning to "stick a needle in your eye"! I'd be so worried that they'd stab my eye on accident. What happens when you get a needle in your eye anyway? Does it pop like a balloon? Like a water balloon? Does it get a slow leak, pssssssss... until it's all creepy and deflated like a very icky raisin? OK, no can do. I'm out.
Alright, alright, no liposuction either.
What?! Don't look at me like that. OK already! No new girls. Gosh, you're no fun!
Anyway, elective coma for 2019. I'm not joking. Wait and see. I'm going to have one of those glass boxes made like they had for Snow White and be laid out on the dining table. My kids can visit me then. And put a little Windex shine on it while they say their hellos. It's gonna work. You'll see.
So long, 2009! Sayonara! Auf Wiedersehen! Ciao! Hejdå! Adios! Au Revoir! Shalom! Farewell! See ya! Tata! Cheerio! Aloha! Do svidan’ya! Hasta La Vista, baby! Don't let the door hit you in the bootie on the way out!
(I still have the deflated eye scenario in my head creeping me out, but I'm gonna get serious here anyway...)
God is good. Always. Always, always, always, always, always. He is. He is good.
I thank God for 2009 because in between all that rocked and all that sucked, GOD was there. He is God and He will have His way. Whether I like it or not. Whether I submit and am changed and shaped or whether I fight Him and get bumped and bruised first. I thank God for 2009 because when I rejoice, He is there. When I suffer, He is there. When I am angry, He is there. When everything is good and beautiful, He is there. When everything turns to ashes, He is there. I thank God for 2009 because He showed me over and over that nothing that I could ever do, or be, or not do, or not be can make Him love me any less or any more. He just loves me. I thank God for 2009 because He is my God and He shall be praised!
May the Lord richly bless you this year. May His heart be impressed upon yours. May His yoke be easy. I pray these things upon myself as well and I say, "I am the Lord's servant. He may do with me as He wishes!"
Praise the Lord, it's 2010!