Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Your Responsibility

When Rylie was about 18 months I began to totally freak out about the responsibility of raising her to know and love the Lord. I had no idea where to even begin. I knew it was more than just going to church and putting her in programs, it was my responsibility first and foremost to do this...not someone else's. This was weighing so heavy on my heart that I finally called my mentor friend Mary K and asked if she could come over to talk about it.

I was pregnant with Austyn at the time so the moment Mary K came in the door I started sobbing like my life was about to end. (What is it about pregnancy that turns you into such an idiot?) I finally managed to choke out what was bothering me. I'm sure Mary K wanted to laugh at my spectacular display of emotions but thank God she didn't....I also have a little thing called pregnancy rage. I told her I didn't know how to teach my children about Jesus and it was totally stressing me out. Should I be reading Rylie Bible stories from dusk till dawn, doing devotions at a certain time, praying with her 5 times a day....what does teaching about the Lord look like in a home setting?

This is basically what she said. That I was "putting way to much pressure on myself to make it look a certain way." She said that their family, which is in the ministry, rarely sits down and does devotions together. And it's ok. The world is not going to end if you don't make it happen. It's the day to day love for the Lord that you show your kids. It's the conversations, the answers to questions, how you react to situations. In short, showing and telling them how you love the Lord.

Mary K definitely helped me calm down about regimented Bible time, but her answer presented a new problem. I wasn't used to using the Lord in casual conversation and didn't know how I would answer my children's questions when they came up. This is the point when I began to really buckle down and work on myself first, because I realized I couldn't teach my kids what I didn't know myself. I really plugged into the Bible and started memorizing scripture. Maybe a year later my sister Ann told me about a book "Don't Make me Count to Three" by Ginger Plowman. It goes over how to discipline and train your children using God's word. This book showed me how to incorporate the scripture with day to day life. Now, a few years later I feel like I have a few (definitely not all) answers for my girls and am so much more confident talking about and showing my love for the Lord. I am so thankful the Holy Spirit was putting the pressure on me then when my girls were still young.

I still really love the idea of doing something as a family though. I would love to hear some of the traditions you have with your family or that you grew up with. Do you read the Bible as a family, do devotions, have prayer time....when? What does teaching about the Lord look like in your house?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Hot Jesus

When I worked at the Christian bookstore I did a lot of work in the shipping and receiving area. Which means I unpacked all the new books, pictures, and gift items from the boxes and entered them into the computer. Well, when this bad boy came in I immediately dubbed him "Hot Jesus." I mean, just look at this picture. If this were hanging in your house would you tend to think holy thoughts? Didn't think so. My boss and I had a hay day with this. I would call him and tell him that "a Hot Jesus sold today!" He actually gave me this picture as a gift with the word "Hot" printed across the front to hang in my office. I never did hang it up lest my interviewee's think I had some deep seeded issues.

This still totally cracks me up. What actually made me think of it was when I was reading Isaiah 53 the other day. It's talking about what Jesus looked like when he was on earth, "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Okay, the one thing I can definitely say from reading this passage is that Jesus was not hot.

Actually, I kinda had a hard time wrapping my mind around this for a while. The one perfect man who ever walked the face of this earth was not good looking at all. Does this make any sense? When I think of a perfect man, I admit the first thing I'm thinking is 6 pack abs. How has society so skewed my view of perfection that I can't even imagine Jesus really being perfect if he wasn't attractive physically?

I think it's safe to say that this is the Lord telling us that perfection has absolutely nothing to do with outward beauty. Hmmm....society and media tell us the exact opposite. Outward beauty is everything in this day and age. Beautiful people get better jobs, they sell us things on TV, they have more fun. They have no body fat, no wrinkles, no morals. They live a perfect life so it seems. I find myself buying into this lie a lot. If I just had her body or her clothes or her confidence my life would be so much easier.

As I continue to grow in this faith I am finding myself more attracted to those who strive for soul perfection though. People that love the Lord above all else just seem radiant to me. You see a different, more permanent joy on their faces. They are a different kind of beautiful. Many of us can probably picture a person like this that we know. A person you could care less what they look like on the outside because being near them is almost like you're getting nearer to God. You crave their presence hoping some of their wisdom will rub off on you. I want to be one of these people someday. I also wouldn't mind aging as well as Heather Locklear though....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Three Strikes

A salesman came to my door today and the cards were totally stacked against him. Usually, with me, these people play with a full hand. If you come to my house on a good day, I will buy whatever you're selling. Eric loathes this quality about me but I just can't say no to these people! I buy magazines, cookies, fruit....I actually spent over $100 on children's books from a traveling salesman last year. But, we won't talk about how that went over. I just can't figure out how you say no without being rude. When Eric's home he tells me to go to the other room and he'll get the door. Whatever.

So today, I had just gotten the girls down for a nap, cracked a Coke and opened a can of Pringles when I heard on knock on the door. You've got to be kidding...nobody messes with my naptime. Strike one.

He asks if he can come in and talk with me for a few minutes. I say let's sit outside because I have learned (you should be proud of me Babe) that you don't let these people inside...especially strange men. He proceeds to launch into a talk about how cancer is killing us off faster than anything else. I have no idea what he's selling at this point. I actually am praying for patience because I am really having trouble being nice to this man about ruining my free time. 15 minutes later I lose my patience, cut him off and say, "so what exactly are you selling?" Cancer insurance. Strike two.

I don't buy insurance...I buy cookies. I tell him that I can't make a decision like this without talking to my husband. This, of course, is my ticket out. Except he comes out with this whammy...."Oh so you're like other stay at home moms whose husbands make the decisions for them." Strike three.

"Excuse me? Actually we make the decisions together." I am beyond annoyed at this point. Now apparently I am a pathetic person who can't think for herself. He then asks when Eric will be home so he can discuss it with him.
He's coming back at 7:00.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

These are the People

Every once in a while people come into your life and change it forever. These are the people who changed my life forever. Their names are Stephen and Mary K Humber. Stephen is our associate pastor and he and Mary K lead our Sunday School class. I'm not sure I've told these two what a significant role they've played in my growth with the Lord. So this is me doing that.

We started going to our church a few months after we moved here...been about 6 years ago I think. We felt the Lord calling us to this church, and felt like we immediately belonged. Eric and I probably went to church 6 months to a year before we started going to Sunday School class. We had been invited a lot but never felt like going because we didn't want to be uncomfortable. We tried a class, felt uncomfortable, so we never went back. Then Stephen invited Eric to go to Thailand with him and everything began to change. Eric felt honored to even be invited since we weren't even involved in any way with the church.
After that trip, we began to attend a young married class that Stephen and Mary K led. I had never met anyone quite like them. Totally passionate about the gospel but also very, very real. Up to that point I'd never met a pastor I could relate to. They all seemed head and shoulders above the me...living a life of perfection, having all the answers. I think this kept me from trying to learn more about the Lord because I felt like this "perfect," no sin kind of life felt unattainable for me. I'm sure if I would have gotten to know my pastors better I would have seen a different side of them.

Let's just say that Stephen and Mary K have no qualms about letting you know their struggles. They actually came to class one day totally ticked off at each other and not on speaking terms (we were studying love and respect in your marriage at the time). I love this! I'm sure it sucked for them but it sure taught me a lot. You can be totally in love with the Lord and simultaneously nasty to your spouse...who would've thought?

This living life wide open was a new concept for me and really appealed to me. These two meet people where they're at. I think many pastors forget what it's like to be at the very beginning of your spiritual walk so they can't identify with you. This class and time spent with these passionate people kick started my search for a deeper faith. A faith I didn't know existed. Their passion was contagious. I learned how to really study the Bible and listen for God's voice.....am still learning.
Stephen and Mary K often talk about wanting to be on the mission field. They don't understand why God has them in this town. Well, I know why. And if it's for me and only for me.....thank you. Thank you for showing me what a real life Christian looks like. Thank you for not judging. Thank you for loving and caring about those of us who are already saved but don't know how to live this faith out. Thank you for answering God's call.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Popular Choice

I was reading John 19 this morning. I've heard the story of Jesus's Crucifixion a hundred times but I've probably only read it a few. It's amazing what you can pick up on by reading it. John 19 is mainly covering Pilate's decision to crucify Jesus.

I actually found myself sympathizing with Pilate today. I can almost see him - hands wringing, soul troubled, mind warring against this decision before him. Pilate knew Jesus was telling the truth...he was, in fact, the King of the Jews. He knew he was innocent, yet the pull of the people and his own life hanging in the balance was too much for him.

If Jesus had just said a few words to Pilate or performed a miracle, leaving no doubt about his Deity I think Pilate would have freed him. But Jesus kept silent. Only saying, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." He let Pilate choose his own path. Much like he does with us today.

God allows us to make our own choices. For Pilate, the opinion of the crowd was more important than doing the right thing. He knew what was right, he even wrote - Jesus of Nazareth: King of the Jews - on the cross. But, in the end, he gave in to pressure, the popular decision...he gave the people what they wanted. Would I have done the same thing? Don't know. It just made me wonder how many times I've been in this situation. The Lord just sitting there waiting for me to make the right decision.

How many times have I done what Pilate did? Make the popular choice. Give in to anger toward my kids, give in to selfish desires, give in to what others want me to do. Every time I face a choice God could come down and blow a trumpet and say "Wow, are you really gonna say that to your husband?" (ok now I'm envisioning myself pushing him out of the way, smashing the trumpet and saying "Heck yes I'm gonna say it!") But God doesn't do this, he allows me to choose. He's definitely whispering in my ear though. Sometimes I wish He would come down and put me in my place, but I think His Word does a fine job for now.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tough Assignment

I'm still reading though A Woman After God's Own Heart so I may be writing about this for a while. It seems I'm having a particularly hard time with some of it so I'm having to read and re-read certain chapters. I already knew I was pretty selfish, but some of this is asking a little too much of a person like me.

This is what I'm suppose to do before my husband comes home from work:

Prepare my appearance. Freshen my make up, comb my hair, make sure the kids are clean and neat.

Prepare my greeting. Get off the phone, turn off the TV, yell "Daddy's home!" and all go greet him enthusiastically.

Prepare myself for the king coming into the castle. Have the table set, clear out visitors, pick up the house, act like the party is about to begin.

Prepare to serve. "Relinquish any hopes and expectations of receiving help from your husband. If you get it, praise God - and your husband profusely - but enter into your evening ready to give and expecting nothing in return." (this one is beyond hard for me)

"Is this reality?" I ask myself. "Or is this stepford?" Is there really a person out there who has this kind of energy? I accept the fact that I need to be joyful when Eric gets home. I don't need to bombard him with "the kids were horrible today" or "why were you so late?". I try to practice this on a regular basis but sometimes I just literally can not do this! Do I just put up this pretense that I wasn't annoyed that he was late or that everything went great in the house that day? I know a lot of this has to do with disciplining yourself to pray about your attitude and actions (which I'm trying to work on).

All these things I listed above sound wonderful and I'm sure my husband would love coming home to this kind of atmosphere. But everything in me wants to scream at the author... "Are you freaking kidding me? After all I do all day I'm supposed to treat my husband like the king of the castle? Am I not the queen?" But, at the end of the day, Eric is my best friend - the person I love the most on this earth. Why would I not want to treat him in this way? I know the answer to this and it's a few little words: pride (what makes his needs more important than mine?), selfishness (why can't he do these things for me?), envy (why does he get to work while I stay home with the kids?).

Tough assignment God.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No Such Thing as an Innocent Child

The other day I had a lot of errands to run. I usually only like to go to 1 or 2 places at a time with both my kids because they totally fall apart if I push them too hard. But, I had a ton of things to do so I decided to just drag them around with me. Big mistake. Sometimes I wonder if my kids get together and plan how they are going to sabotage me when we go out in public. I imagine their exchange going a little something like this....

Rylie - "Hey Austyn, how should we embarrass mom today?"

Austyn - "Awesome! We get to do that again? Okay, when we go to the library I'll hit my head on the table and scream like I don't do this kind of thing every 5 seconds. She'll have to take me out into the hall and then I'll insist on drinking out of the water fountain at least 5 times."

Rylie - "Good idea, and while you're screaming I'll go ahead and pull a bunch of books off the shelf. It's always funny to watch mom try to find out where they go."

Austyn - "After that we'll probably go to the bank so make sure you help me beg and whine for suckers until we get them. Then at the grocery store I'll make it known to everyone (by fussing, of course) that I would rather walk, than ride in the cart."

Rylie - "Ya, hopefully they have lemonade at the bank too...I'll make sure and get the kiddie cart at the grocery store so I can ram into the back of mom's legs. There's just something about watching pain turn into fury. I love that she can't yell at me in public so we need to push her to the limit. And remember we haven't won unless she says 'Why me, Lord?' out loud."

What is it about a picture that makes kids look so innocent?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thoughts on Celebrities

I am way too concerned these days about what goes on in celebrities lives. I know this, but for some reason I just love to read about their trainwreck lives. I was reading an article about Julia Roberts (I love her) the other day and found out she is a practicing buddist, doing the chants and everything. Seriously Julia? I feel like all of them are just searching, clinging on to anything that will give them peace in their crazy lives. Tom Cruise and John Travolta - Scientologists. Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Madonna - Kabalaah. Gwenyth Paltrow, Barbara Striesand - Judaism. Oprah...I don't know, enlightenment? Many of them say they're Christians but their lifestyles are so far from it there's no way you can tell if it's true.

I find myself praying for Julia Roberts now and and I always pray that Jon and Kate would just make 8 again. Does anyone else do this? I often wonder if anyone has told these people about Jesus. Pretty sure it's not gonna be me, because if I did get my foot in the door it would probably be by begging for an autograph or picture. All sense of reality goes out the window when you meet one of these people. They're just people yet, because of what they do for a living, they seem to live in a different world than us - walking the red carpet as if they're more important or lead more significant lives than us.
I've met a few celebs in my life. In college, my friends and I happened to be at the mall when LFO, a band - the Light Funky Ones (look, I know...ridiculous), was there. We heard screaming so naturally we went to see what was happening. We had no idea who these guys were but as soon as we saw them (they were pretty easy on the eyes) we frantically began to search for any scrap of paper we could get an autograph on. That night some groupies were born. We all fell in love with this band and went to a concert later that year dressed as total sluts. (Slutty back then for us was a tank top with spagetti straps and cut off jean shorts - we were living on the edge). Since then, I've met several basketball players and, because of my bookstore job, I met some Christian celebs. Toby Mac, Kirk Cameron, the Gaithers (I'm not sure they count but my Grandparents were excited for me).
A lot of people can't stand certain celebrities because of what they stand for. My dad doesn't like Oprah because of the whole meat thing - totally tanked the beef prices that year. (He gets so mad when I watch it - hilarious!) People won't watch Ellen because she's gay - I happen to think she's pretty funny. A lot of celebrities are right wing activists so people won't support their movies. For some reason I just can't hate these people, they don't know any better. As far as I know, they're not saved. Yes, we should not be of this world, but we are in this world. I'm not going to turn gay if I watch Ellen or agree with Oprah on her "Find yourself!" crap. Besides, how am I supposed to get an "Aha!" moment if I don't watch Oprah every once in a while?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moms in Touch

About a year ago I felt the Lord nudging me to work on my prayer life. Up to that point I kind of just prayed random prayers. Most of them consisted of struggles I was going through or prayers for other people I knew were going through a trial of some kind. A lot of my prayers were (and still are) pleading with the Lord for patience for my kids or a long nap time. My prayers were simple and straightforward, which there's nothing wrong with that, but I really never realized the power in praying the scriptures.

I went to MOPS one day and a woman got up and said she was starting a Moms In Touch group. It's a group that prays once a week for their kids while they're in school. They pray for an hour long using different methods and scriptures. I was drawn to this because I wanted to learn how to better pray the scriptures (ok, yes I wanted to pray for Rylie too, but it was mostly a selfish ambition at this point) but at the same time I did NOT want to go. Praying for an hour sounded torturous to me, plus praying out loud is a whole other obstacle I had to get over. Praying out loud is intimidating! Especially in front of people who know how to pray the scriptures and pray them well.

I found several excuses not to go, so I didn't. (My daughter's just in preschool, Monday mornings are too busy, I'm too scared, and the list goes on). But, I couldn't escape the voice of the Lord prompting me to go. I knew I had to schedule this time because in the life of every mom...there is no time unless it's planned. So I got up the nerve and told the leader I wanted to join second semester. I was sweating it when I first walked in...there were only 3 of us. I couldn't decide if this was a good thing or a bad thing. On the upside only 2 other people would know that I was horrible at praying, but on the downside they would hear me praying a lot.

So I'm not going to tell you that heaven and earth shook after the first meeting, but it did go a lot better than I thought it would. We were given verses to pray and we prayed them for our kids and for each others kids. We prayed for specific teachers and problems the schools were facing and also difficulties our own kids were having. The hour actually went fast. As the semester went on I began to grasp how to incorporate scripture with prayer. Verses I had memorized would come to mind as I was praying. I'm still not an eloquent prayer by any means, but there's something powerful about claiming and verbalizing the Lord's promises in prayer. This kind of praying takes discipline and practice...people who are good at this are good because they've been memorizing and praying scripture for years. It just flows naturally out of their mouths because they live it. They breathe it.

As a result of this time spent in prayer, I began to see small changes in Rylie. I prayed a lot about Rylie and Austyn's relationship because they had been fighting a lot. I prayed Ephesians 4:32 for them that they would "be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. Just as God forgave them." I saw Rylie's attitude toward her sister soften and I know this was a result of praying because all the disciplining in the world was not phasing her. I feel like this is slipping already because I haven't prayed about it since school got out. Without scheduled time, it's so hard as a mom to have time to sit and actually pray a full prayer without interruption or spend time in the Word at all for that matter.

I'm still not 100% comfortable going to Moms in Touch - I actually kind of still dread going. But ultimately, it's not about my comfort. It's about listening to the Holy Spirit prompting me, it's about disciplining myself to be as close to God as I possibly can, it's about becoming the person God wants me to be. Every time I left a meeting I felt rejuvenated and close to the Lord because we had been speaking the same language.

If anyone wants info about MIT let me know and I promise you...you won't be the only idiot there. I got ya covered.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Goodbye Maturity

Since Eric and I own a business now we have a lot of "very important" meetings to attend. I am a fish out of water in these meetings but I usually jump at the chance to go because I want to get out of the house. I get a break from the girls and dinner out, so I figure I can endure an hour of boring men in suits as a trade off. While I would love to say that I am trying to help my husband make our business the best it can be, that's just not true. Eric realized this a while ago and I haven't been invited to too many meetings since. I'll tell you about a couple of meetings that went South and you'll understand why.

A while ago we went to get our wills and estate drawn up to make sure we had a plan in place for the business. As the attorney (who just so happens to be Bob Brookens our State representative now) was explaining how everything works I began to drift off into a better place. And then, of course, what always happens when you daydream? Yes, the teacher asks you a question. I awoke to the question "what is this?" He was pointing to the will and wanted me to verbally affirm what he was drawing up....so I should have said "a will." Instead I panicked and he was pointing to the top of the paper where the staple was so I said "a staple" instead. Mind you he had brought in witnesses at this point....this was not my finest moment.

The second instance came several months ago while meeting with our financial planner Craig. I had noticed in the last meeting that he said "little rascal" a lot. Speaking about money sums as if they were little rascals. "We'll take this little rascal and put it in this account and this little rascal and put it in this retirement plan" and so on. I told Eric this on the way (he didn't notice this of course because he was actually paying attention to more important matters) and I bet him $20 that Craig would say "little rascal" at least 7 times. He said it 10. At that point I started giggling like I was in junior high and couldn't stop. He actually stopped the meeting and said "Tami, you're sure finding something funny today." I didn't get my $20.

I desparately want to be mature but I've resigned to the fact that it's just not in the cards for me. So I will sit at home while Eric goes to meetings....it works better this way.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


When light and darkness go to battle, Light always wins. Andy Owen

I was recently hurt and disappointed by someone I love. This wasn't the first time and it won't be the last. I sat there trying to take it like a big girl and not cry. I didn't succeed, I rarely do. My husband, wonderful as he is, tried as best as he could to pick up the pieces. This person brings me down on a regular basis and the crazy thing is, they don't even realize it. About a year ago I put this verse to memory and it changed my whole perspective on how to deal with people who tick you off.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

When I realized that it wasn't the actual person that was attacking me - it was Satan - disappointments became easier to deal with. I'm not saying they hurt less but knowing that Satan is using this person to bring me down, was life changing for me. Satan knows just where to attack....and when. He waits for an opportunity to steal your joy and he succeeds often. He uses flesh and blood people to do this - some are aware of it, some are not.

After my joy had been stolen, I sat there thinking of this verse and knowing I had just been blindsided by the powers of darkness. Then I began to have a sobering thought..."how have the powers of this dark world used me to disappoint and steal another's joy?" Sadly, I know this has happened and will happen again because of my sinful nature.

I was reading this morning about Judas Iscariot and how he betrayed Jesus. Before the last supper Satan had "already prompted Judas to betray Jesus." Then, as soon as Jesus told Judas that he would be the one to betray him, "Satan entered into him." It's kind of crazy how closely light and darkness coexist. Satan was ready and waiting to attack...he was at the last supper. As Christians we are not immune to the attacks of darkness nor are we immune to being used by these powers for dark purposes.

The coolest thing the Lord showed me through this particular hurt of mine was that people are more powerfully used by God than by Satan. I was so thankful in that moment for the people who go to bat for me. My husband, of course, and a couple others I called for support because they know and understand my situation. People who pray for you and give you comfort and words of encouragement when your soul is troubled are from the Lord. The Lord is fighting darkness on your behalf through his followers. Light always wins.

Thank you to those who are encouragers. Thank you to those who have encouraged me ~ in this situation, in this blog, and in this life ~ you have been used by God!

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 13:25

Monday, August 16, 2010

Not Going Down without a Fight

So, I'm 31 today. (Long sigh). I thought 30 was bad but now I'm officially "in my thirties." This sounds so old to me, I never really thought I would get here. I still feel like I'm in my early twenties and there are certain things that I'm holding onto very tightly to make it seem like I'm still cool. Here are a few of them:

I can't bring myself to cut my hair...I feel if I cut my hair my youth will go with it. I always think of that one scene in the movie Little Women where Jo cuts her hair and her sister says "But Jo! Your one beauty!" I have a fear that this will happen to me and it will probably be Amber to say it :). Not that I ever even fix my hair or think that's it's beautiful....just can't do it....not yet.

I still shop in the juniors section. I still buy clothes from places like American Eagle and Maurices and don't see myself stopping anytime soon. My clothing style is totally stuck in my college days but I can't bring myself to wear cardigans and nylons. Just can't do it....not yet.

I listen to rap music. (Gasp!) - Don't worry mom, I listen to the beat not the words :) - There's just something about cranking up some Jay-Z, pretending that I don't have kids or a mortgage or wrinkles. Besides I just can't find a way to run to Christian music. When Toby Mac comes on my iPod I literally start wheezing and sputtering like an old car. I occasionally pass Pastor Steve on my jogging route and I'm sure he's listening to Eminem....he always looks very determined. Well maybe someday I'll learn how to get pumped up to "People Need the Lord." But I just can't do it....not yet.

I am a Twi-hard. I love everything about the Twilight series - the books, the movies, the hype. My age has not kept me from this craziness. However, I did feel a little old when I ran into Eric's teenage cousin at the New Moon premiere (my friend Nat and I were standing there in our matching New Moon t-shirts) and she asked me if I was Team Jacob or Team Edward. We were both Team Edward. We were both giggling. Maybe I will get over this obsession once the last movie Breaking Dawn comes out but, I just can't do it....not yet.

These things are all completely nuts but who says you have to grow up when you hit your thirties? I often think about the things I can't hold onto about my youth and it's a total downer. I think about the farm I'll never live on again. Friends I went to high school and college with, I'll never see again. People I'll never get to work with again. Because these things make me sad, I prefer to look on the bright side of getting older. Not sure what the bright side is exactly....but maybe I'll check into getting advance tickets for Eclipse today.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hot and Bothered

Last night our air conditioner went out. I am not one of those people who have contests to see how long they can go without turning on their air conditioning at the beginning of summer. In fact, I would probably win a contest for being the first to turn it on. So I called at 10:00 last night and left a message for the cooling guys saying "please come as soon as possible." The prospect of sweating it out through the night put me in a horribly bad mood. I desparately hoped they would get my message, take pity on me and come fix it that night....they didn't. So I woke this morning drenched in sweat and furious at the world.

By 8:45 the company hadn't returned my call (can you believe it?) so I called them again. I was pretty rude and whiny on the phone after they explained to me that it would probably be late afternoon before they could get there. It was already 85 degrees in my house and darn near 100 degrees outside. So I said things like "seriously?" and "you're kidding" and gave long dramatic pauses so they would try to work me into the rotation sooner. I'm not proud of it but I could not hear the voice of reason in my current state of mind. The whole act didn't work anyway because I was "down there on the list a ways" but "if things went well" they possibly could be there sooner.

The girls and I were all very cranky and I'd had enough so I sat us all down and said "let's just pray that the guys come and fix our air soon." I'm ashamed to admit that praying was my last resort in the situation. So I prayed that they would come before noon. They showed up at 11:00. (How many lessons does one have to learn in a week?). The guy looked scared of me when he came to the door probably afraid I would reem him out or something (I felt pretty low at this point). Then Rylie said "Mom, we prayed for him to come!" This melted my heart and made all the sweating worth it because the Lord had shown us both that he cares about the small stuff in our lives. So the air is fixed and the house is slowly cooling down taking my temper with it. I apologized to the air conditioner guy saying something about being "hot and bothered." He said "It's ok, I understand." I hate that I had to apologize and that I couldn't show him mercy and patience in the first place. Blah....sometimes I feel like a hopeless case.

On a different note: Yesterday after he read my post, Eric texted me and said "I liked your post today. I am now a follower." I thought he we just being sarcastic about being a follower of Jesus so I said "Stop being mean!!" Turns out he's now a follower of my blog. I laughed hilariously about this the rest of the day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Priceless Treasure

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:6-9

I love these verses. Before I really got into scripture reading I often thought "what exactly is the goal of my faith?" I knew I was going to heaven but would often wonder "am I really?" I knew I was saved but felt something missing so I found myself panicking about whether or not I really would go to heaven. Then I would wonder "is this faith real...is Jesus real or is this something that was shoved down my throat as a child?"

I know now that it is most definitely real. Even though I do not see Him I believe in Him and I am "filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." Before, I guess the goal of my faith was to secure my salvation and make sure I went to heaven not hell. Because every preacher made hell sound extremely terrifying and of course I didn't want to go there. While, this is definitely a good goal I didn't realize the full treasure that I actually held in my hands. This treasure was "of greater worth than gold." This treasure was knowing personally the one who saved me. I am now receiving the goal of my faith as I live here on earth as well as in heaven. Sometimes I feel like heaven is just a bonus. The Lord is with me everywhere I go and I feel him with me. He knows my disappointments, my struggles, and every motive behind my thoughts (which is terrifying!). He knows these things about you too by the way.

If you're having these same thoughts I did or don't know if you are saved...I would love to talk with you about it or help you in some way. You really don't want to miss out on this relationship because this is truly the only one that matters.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bending and Bucking

Eric has been talking about getting a new gun ever since Rylie declared she no longer wants to wear underwear. (Yes, we try to wear underwear in public but it's a fight every time, I don't even want to think about making her wear underwear in private.) I don't blame him wanting to ramp up his masculine side with all the female drama that goes down in this house. So he's had his eye on one for a while and has been waiting for an opportunity to go and get it. This opportunity came the other night when he told me his dad wanted to go with him after work this Saturday to pick it up. Since we live in the middle of nowhere the trip to get the gun would take several hours. We all know how I feel about Eric being gone on Saturdays so here's what happened...

I'll back up just a little bit. I've been reading the book A Woman After God's Own Heart. I love this book and if you haven't read it I would encourage you to, but be ready to be totally convicted! (I also got the inspiration for my blog title from this book.) Well, I recently read the chapter about wives submitting to their husbands. The author Elizabeth George talks about responding to your husband's words and actions positively. Try to "bend not buck" everything he says and does. This is hard for me mainly because I like to be in control of situations. Giving up this control and putting it in someone else's hands (the hands God wants to be in control) is not easy for me. I annoy myself when I tell him what I think should happen but I can't seem to stop myself. After I read this chapter I prayed that God would give me the opportunity to practice "bending." I knew this prayer would be answered quickly.

And, what do you know? Just a few hours later Eric came home and asked if I would mind if he went gun shopping with his dad on Saturday. I knew this was my big chance and I couldn't believe God was doing this to me. But I bit the bullet and said "Okaaaay" and I left the room for fear that thoughts would give way to words. I'm not really the yelling type, more the guilting type. So normally I would say something like "Great then I can sit at home all day and play cards with Rylie." This is throwing down the gauntlet, for we both know that playing cards with a 4 year old is the ultimate parental torture. Oh yeah...when I throw down, I throw down hard.

When I left the room I could've sworn I heard an audible "whoosh" as Eric let out the breath he had been holding. So on went the night and part of the next day without us talking any more about it. Then - this is the cool part - Eric called from work to tell me he couldn't go get the gun on Saturday because they didn't have it anymore. The only one available was an hour away and they were holding it for him. He asked if I wanted to go with to get it and go out to dinner that night while his mom watched the girls. Glory Hallelujah the Lord is Risen - yes I would like to go!

While I know things won't always turn out this way, I know this was an affirmation from the Lord that I'm moving in the right direction. However, this bending thing is going to take some getting used to....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Work in Progress

A few days ago Eric said "You look pretty today, Tam."
"What?" I totally heard him but wanted to make him say it again. (Don't act like you haven't done this)
"You look good today."
"Ahhh....thanks Babe." I said, feeling totally warmed but also fighting the temptation to say "yeah right I look like crap and you know it."
Don't know why I always feel the need to contradict him when he compliments me.

But the best compliment he's ever given me came after church last week. (I'm not sure he meant it to be a compliment but that's the way I took it.) He said in Sunday School they were going over the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and one of the verses reminded him of me.
"Which one?"I asked.
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled."
"Wow, really?" I said. And I accepted it because I knew in my heart it was true. I have never felt so beautiful as I did in that moment. Just to be associated with words Jesus himself spoke was awesome. I know I am being filled...God's promises are NOT empty. This was the first "spiritual" compliment I have recieved that I felt was true. Before getting really into the word and "hungering and thirsting for righteousness" I felt like a poser. Talking the talk and kind of walking the walk but without the real relationship that is so vital in a believers life.

I realized just then that compliments about outward beauty can only fill you for the moment. You're always longing for more of them. Every time I dress up (which in my case is upgrading from sweats to jeans and fixing my hair) I hope Eric notices and tells me I look nice. And if he doesn't....I'm kinda ticked, if we're being honest. Don't get me wrong, I don't want these compliments to stop in any way, but to be complimented on inward beauty was an amazing feeling. A feeling I have never gotten with a comment on my hair looking nice.

I feel like this is just the beginning for me because I am soooo far from some of the other things Jesus said in the Bible. But, very encouraging none the less. My goal is to one day remind Eric of the Proverbs 31 woman but I've got a ways to go. My children have yet to "rise and call me blessed."

The Proverbs 31 Woman :

rare, precious
10An excellent wife, who can find?For her worth is far above jewels.

11The heart of her husband trusts in her,And he will have no lack of gain.

12She does him good and not evilAll the days of her life.
works joyfully
13She looks for wool and flaxAnd works with her hands in delight.

goes extra mile to get choicest goods
14She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar.


15She rises also while it is still nightAnd gives food to her householdAnd portions to her maidens.

enterprising, prudent with money
16She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong.

good steward
18She senses that her gain is good;Her lamp does not go out at night.

19She stretches out her hands to the distaff,And her hands grasp the spindle. compassionate, generous
20She extends her hand to the poor,And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21She is not afraid of the snow for her household,For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple.

23Her husband is known in the gates,When he sits among the elders of the land.

24She makes linen garments and sells them,And supplies belts to the tradesmen.

25Strength and dignity are her clothing,And she smiles at the future.

26She opens her mouth in wisdom,And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

manages her home
27She looks well to the ways of her household,And does not eat the bread of idleness.


28Her children rise up and bless her;Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:

29"Many daughters have done nobly,But you excel them all."
30Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
31Give her the product of her hands,And let her works praise her in the gates.

~ Proverbs 31:10-31

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Lesson in Pride

Eric had last Saturday off. Between work and Service Saturday projects at church, this is a rarity. I so look forward to these days because it means one full day of shared responsibility with the girls. By the time these days roll around I need a straight jacket and rubber room.

So on this rare Saturday, much to my regret, I announced that the bubble blowing gun we bought the girls at Wal-Mart the other day isn't working. At this announcement Eric grabs his tools, goes outside on the front steps and sets to work fixing it. While I usually love the fact that Eric is my Mr. Fix it Man, it completely annoys me on this day. I didn't think trying to fix a $6 Bubble Blaster was a good use of time and, of course being the control freak that I am, I tell him this.
About an hour after Eric decides to work on the gun I step outside and he declares, "I fixed it! The tube had a hole in it so I bit part of it off and connected the tube back together." He then gives me a cocky "I am man, I can do anything" smile. As he's still smiling he inhales the piece of tubing he bit off and it gets lodged in his throat. This ends up in a 10 minute fit of dry heaving on the front steps. I start laughing so hard that I actually snort then manage to yell "Don't puke on the steps!" After a tall glass of water and 10 more minutes of coughing he croaks out "This does not go in the blog!" To which I reply "Oh yes it does." How can I pass up this lesson in pride?*

*Read and approved by Mr. D

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Shy Crutch

I grew up a painfully shy kid. I had a horrible self-image and felt very inadequate compared to my vibrant, outgoing older sister. During school I would practically hyperventilate every time the teacher called my name. In college I let the English major crazies do the talking for me....believe me they did fine without my input. I used shyness as my ticket out of things. Saying things like "I can't sing in front of church, I'm too shy" or "I don't want to apply for that job, I'm too shy". I never once consulted the Lord and asked for his opinion. Over the last few years as I've grown in my relationship with the Lord I'm going to expose this for what it is - a crutch, the shy crutch. I leaned on this crutch for so many years I believed it to actually be true....it wasn't. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, a spirit of love, and a spirit of self-discipline. II Timothy 1:7

My journey out of shyness began with self-discipline. I devoted myself to learning about my Savior. I set aside time nearly everyday to learn more about how to follow Him and walk with him. Slowly with this discipline came love for myself. I began to see redeeming qualities in myself that others could see but I couldn't because I was blinded by my self-loathing. The next step was power. I have such an awesome power in the Lord now...I am God confident. This is something I can hardly explain but feel full to the point of overflowing just thinking about it. This is participating in the divine nature. This is awesome.

I can't help but think of the missed opportunities in my life due to my "shyness". Hiding behind shyness is not from the Lord...and if it's not from Him....it's from Satan. I'm definitely still reserved, I don't necessarily like to be the center of attention, but if the Lord calls for it...I am there. Even this blog was a stretch for me but I felt a nudging from the Lord and believe me I'm going to answer that nudge. So don't call me shy we don't use that word in our house.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


"Doggone it!" These are the first words that came out of my mouth this morning after I realized I overslept for the second time this week and missed my yoga class. I found it funny that these were the first words that I could think of. (As I said them an image of my dad yelling "doggone it" while chasing after a runaway cow comes to mind.) I realized I had time for quick run before Eric left for work this morning so I threw on some clothes, grabbed my ipod and left. I faintly remember Eric saying something like "I thought yoga was wednesdays..." as I dashed out of the room.

I came back 15 minutes later with a allergy headache and an bad attitude about missing class. I put on some coffee and leaned over to take off my shoes. That's when I notice I have 1 pink shoe on and 1 green one. Like really? Seriously? Is this the way my day is starting out?

I then sit down to spend some time with the Lord hoping to change my attitude before my girls wake up. This is a must. I had a hard time concentrating but still managed to be awed by the Lord's commanding presence in the gospel of John. Then my sister Amber calls and puts my little life annoyances in perspective.

Her husband came really close to losing his life last night. He had a paramotor accident and the prop cut his shoulder to the bone. He will be fine but if that prop would have hit him a few inches lower he would not be here today. The thought of not having Craig with us and what that would do to my sister consumes me. And most importantly, I'm thinking if Craig wasn't here who would we make fun of? I mean let's face it, he makes himself an easy target, he rides a unicycle and knows exactly what makes an Octopus squirt ink.

Thank you Lord for a lesson in perspective, Thank you Lord for saving Craig.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Born a Servant

"Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Matt 20:28
I am convinced that some people are born with natural tendencies to serve others. I am not one of these people. I have to literally force myself to do nice things for the people I love. This is a serious, conscious discipline for me that I so often fail at.
When I see someones empty glass on the table I don't fill it, my mother-in-law Charlene does.

When I go to the store I don't automatically wonder what I can pick up for someone else, my neighbor Karen does.

When friends and family come over to chat I don't bake them special treats, my Grandma Jons does.

When someone is going through a trial I don't continually let them know I'm there for them, my sister Ann does.

When a family event is over I don't help clean up, my cousin Misty does.

These are the kind of people that amaze me. I know they are definitely disciplined but also know they were born special servants of God. It is their gift. I know this because I birthed a special servant. Her name is Austyn and she's 1 1/2 years old. She simply amazes me. Whenever I get her a snack she says to me "sissy too" so I get her a snack to take to her sister. Today as we had our daily Popsicle break she noticed I didn't get one to eat so she walked over and offered me a bite of hers. She always makes sure everyone has what she is enjoying. She's also very conscious of people serving her, saying "thank you mommy" to me after I put a diaper on her baby, give her a drink or tell her I love her. While I try to teach both my girls these values, serving comes naturally to Austyn. I adore this quality in her and find myself praying often that she will take it and run with it. Rylie, on the other hand, needs discipline to incorporate these tendencies in her life. I get so tired of having to remind her to say "please and thank you" or find myself yelling "if you don't share with your sister this instant I'll ...(insert empty threat)!!". Up to this point I didn't think I had anything in common with Rylie. Well now I know...:)

Small Town

Yesterday I decided to use a gift certificate for a massage that my wonderful friend Jen gave me. I love getting massages. But, living in small town America, it just so happens that my massage therapist is also my next door neighbor Kim. I adore her and her family. I love chatting with her about life while our girls decide whose yard is more fun to play in that day. And she gives a mean massage.

I get the hour long massage because, let's face it, 30 minutes is a waste of time where massages are concerned. After it's over I groggily walk into the waiting room and make some small talk with Kim. I wonder if today is the day I'm going to ask her if it's weird to see me practically naked because I wonder every time I go in. Maturity wins. I don't ask. I do, however find the courage to tell her that I am going to buy her a mirror to put in the massage room. After the last time I got a massage I ran around town looking like a Dallas Cowboys player. My mascara had formed two black circles under my eyes and I had no idea. I actually really wanted to bring one with me this time as a house warming gift for her new location but that would have required forethought.

Later that evening, I was telling Eric about my massage. I told him how wonderful it was and that I really should go more often. Then he says, "Did you ask Kim if it's weird for her to see you naked?" I roll my eyes and sigh. My husband is so immature.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You Can Always Count on Your Sisters

Thank God for sisters, right?! Okay, about a month ago my sister Amber - always blunt and to the point (which I really do love about her) - said my eyebrows were too thin. I was under the impression that they looked great because "how could they not?" I spent every night plucking them to perfection. So I took a good long look at them and decided she was right...I had plucked the crap out of them and there were hardly any left. So began the long, painfully embarrassing task of growing them out. Which, by the way, I am still in this process so try not to stare. After a couple weeks I decided to go get them professionally shaped, something I had only done once before and thought it hurt like a son of a (insert Christian cuss word).

I decide to really pamper myself so I made an appointment at a spa so I could get a facial to go with it. I got all ready for my esthetician, Sissy (I know, right?), to whip them back into shape. The exchange went a little something like this:

"Hi Missy," I said.

"No Sissy, think of me as your sister."

"Oh, okay, look my eyebrows are a mess and I desparately need help with them."

Sissy leans over to turn a spot light on that I thought would end my sight and says, "Let see what we got here." At this point I'm embarrassed because I know my eyebrows are horrible, with stray hairs everywhere...one growing here and one growing there but none seeming to come together to form a unit.

After a long silent moment, I nervously giggle and say again "I know, a complete mess."

"Um...well, wow, what are you trying to do here?" Sissy says.

So I explain about my sister and trying to grow them out and this is also the moment I decide to call Amber and tell her we're not on speaking terms.

After staring at them for several long minutes, Sissy finally said she really couldn't do anything with them. "You're just going to have to grow them out and come back in a month."

At this revelation, I am devastated because the last 2 weeks have been excruciating already. Plus, it's the summer and everything looks worse when you're outside!

After I leave the spa, I immediately text Amber and then put on my shades. Thank God for sunglasses...

My Unseen Roots

I was 8 years old when I told the Lord I believed in Him and wanted Him to come and live in me. The feeling of being literally washed clean at that moment I will never forget. But, at that moment, I wished someone had taken me aside and said "now this is what you do...this is how you develop a relationship with the Lord."

As a high school graduation present I got a Study Bible as a gift from our church. I remember my Grandpa L. saying to me "I know you'll use it everyday." Thanks for the vote of confidence Grandpa but I really would have rather had the 50 bucks. It makes me smile now thinking of that moment. I was thinking in my mind "I wish I were as sure as you were." But he saw the Lord in me and heck, a little convicting nudge from Grandpa wouldn't hurt! Makes me miss him terribly....

I grew up in a Christian family, going to church every time the doors were open. For High School my parents sent me to a Christian Boarding School (definitely a whole different blog topic in itself). College, same thing - Christian College. First job....manager at a Christian bookstore. Despite all of these "Christian" titles, my relationship with the Lord was seriously lacking. This all changed about 5 years ago...

Our pastor gave a sermon on how to do devotions. Thank you Lord! All my life I had heard "do your devos"...great idea, but how? I was overwhelmed. The Bible is huge...where do you start? I am a perfectionist so starting something the wrong way wasn't an option. Up to that point I pretty much used devotional books or the daily bread for my "devos," gaining small insights that only left me longing for more.

Here's what he said to do (in case you're wondering): The SOAP method of journaling.

S cripture - Write out by hand the main verse(s) God is drawing to your attention today.

O bservation - Write out what you see in the scripture. Think about what is going on, why it was recorded for us, trying to draw out some truths or fresh insights.

A pplication - Write out what impact these truths have on your life and how you will be different today because of what you have just read.

P rayer - Write out your prayer to God and then pray it.

He suggested starting with one of the Read through the Bible in a Year plans - which I did - but I'm like on the 3 year plan instead. Which is freaking hard for the perfectionist in me!

After this sermon, I began to faithfully spend time with the Lord this way. I shoot for 5 days a week and it will be 7 when my kids require less attention. I heard him speak to me from day one. It was just me and the Lord. No other books or opinions telling me what the passage is saying. I began with SOAP and it has slowly morphed into something a little different but this has been life changing for me to say the least. I don't pretend to have all the answers and frankly, should know more of the answers for as long as I've been a Christian. But I'm moving forward....me and the Lord...together.

This time spent with the Lord in study and prayer - these are My Unseen Roots. My relationship with the Lord is where I draw my strength from every day, every hour.

This is the "reason for the hope I have." 1 Peter 3:15
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