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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Where it all began

I'm part of a cool group of folks who write weekly devotionals. This group was started by a dear friend of mine from high school.

My friend Cindy, the devotions guru, asked the writers to share a little about themselves to start this year's devotionals.

I thought you all might get a kick out of seeing my first devotional. Here it is.... I'm pretty sure you'll learn something new about me in there! ;-)

Oh, by the way... can you guess which one is me in the picture?

Okay, on to the devotional...

When Cindy, who is one of my high school buddies and knows waaaayyy too much about my growing up years, asked the DT writers to share about themselves, I got a little nervous. Sort of envisioned being questioned by a cop in a cold, gray room with one bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling.

I mean, what would you all really want to know about me?

I could do the basics: I've been married to a great guy for almost 15 years. We have three children we've home schooled from the start. I'm a published author, teacher, and speaker. I love teaching kids and adults about writing, about God's infinite grace and patience, and how He is the Giver of Dreams and the One who called us with a holy calling according to His purpose and grace. (2 Timothy 1:8-9)

I suppose I should add some things about my faith journey that Cindy and Chris would probably rather forget. Did you know Chris and another DT member used to draw straws on who had to drive me home from youth group? It might have been because I talked everyone's ear off who would listen with all my God questions.

I didn't come from a Christian home, so at 15 when a school friend invited me to church, I went. But not before I'd backed out a ton of times. See, my only concept of God was a big guy with thunderbolts who probably didn't like me much. But what I found there was this huge, amazing God who knew everything about me and loved me. Me. And so I did what I've always done and continue to do~ I asked questions. I read books. I bugged everyone with everything I could think of regarding religion and Jesus and the church.

I heard a lot of great answers. But nothing stuck. Not until I sat out on a cold concrete step behind the church and looked up into the stars and asked, "Are You really there? Do You really want me?"

The answer was yes. And it's been a journey of wrestling, dancing, and questioning our very big God with all my very small questions. I know less now than I did twenty-four years ago. But I've never forgotten that God bent near a scared and alone 15 year old and said, "Come."

Still awed,

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Perfect Love

Some days I resemble the Cat in the Hat on a really bad day.

It's the age old lament of too much to do and not enough time. But I'll go a step more transparent and say that a lot of my problem has been my refusal to sit down for a decent amount of time and be quiet.

I get uncomfortable with the silence.

Especially when I'm afraid of what God is going to show me.

It's easy in the day-to-day to excuse my frustration as understandable, my short prayer time as at least I prayed some, and my busyness as "everyone is doing it" and just part of how it goes when you balance two full-time careers.

But all that sort of evaporates in one silent moment before a holy God.

The funny thing is when I took my pastor's dare to try to spend an hour in prayer each day for a week, I didn't expect anything good to happen.

I expected to feel guilty.

What I experienced was freedom.

It didn't happen that week. But over time...and even when the time I had in the morning shortened...I noticed God still showed up. He still guided my eyes to take in something in His Word that connected.

And I found that confessing sin and praying for my family were no longer times when I felt guilty for all that I've done wrong. They were times I admitted to this holy and loving God that I couldn't do what I was asking to be done~ only He could.

Today, as I was praying for my husband with The Power of a Praying Wife prayer cards by Stormie Omartian, (GREAT book by the way!) I prayed 1 John 4:18 about perfect love driving out all of my husband's fears. And 2 Timothy 1:7 that David would walk in a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind.

Then my eyes locked on a note I'd written years before. A year when God was so near I could feel His breath on my cheek.

The note said, "Perfect love creates a safe place."

I long for my husband and children to think of our home as a safe place. A place where love drives out fear and God's perfect love is closer than a whispered dream.

So I prayed for that very thing.

But that note pulled me even deeper. It was as if God were inviting me to see that the safe place is closer than my DNA.

It's real. And the door is always open. The Light is always on.

Even when the darkness of a cave presses in on me and it’s hard to breathe, my Safe Place is still there.

Even when prayer times are short and my to-do list long, I can run into the Perfect Love that creates a safe place.

I still long for my home to be a safe place too. But today I caught a glimpse of the only way that will ever be true.

Christ is the only perfect love that creates a safe place.

This is where I need to hang out and trust God to cause what I learn there to overflow and broaden that Safe Place to wider dimensions than I can even imagine.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9-11

Eight years ago today our country was attacked. Lives lost. Chaos.

Where were you?

I was baby-sitting my oldest daughter's best friend, and my husband interrupted a normal day of play with a shaky phone call.

He said a plane hit one of the Twin Towers.

I said that was crazy.

I meant impossible. But when I turned on the TV, I saw it was possible. It was still crazy.

I sat in front of our TV on a scratchy rug, numb as I watched the second plane hit and both towers crumble.

I stayed there for a week.

Then and now I couldn't comprehend why it happened. Or what would happen next.

I just knew my world had changed forever.

For a short time, the world changed for good. People from all over the globe held vigils by candlelight. Leaders expressed sympathy. Heroes emerged from twisted metal and police cars and fire trucks.

They showed us what the American spirit looked like in the 21st century. Our nation came together and sang God Bless America on the Capitol steps.

It was beautiful.

So where were you? What do you remember?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Magical moments

Monday morning, 1 AM, I was driving my three sleeping children home from a magical week with dear friends and a Disney trip.

Our very first Disney trip.

Let me just say, the fairy dust didn't keep my old feet from screaming at me during the fireworks. ;-)

But it was truly magical to watch my princesses meet their favorite princesses and absorb all the wonder Disney specializes in.

For all five of us Disney was the high point of our trip. Of course, a very close second, maybe even tie for first, was spending time with friends. Oh, and swimming with manatees.

As usual, there's a story with each. And some pictures.

My middle princess is the daredevil of the family, so her and her daddy's fave stop in Disney was the famed Splash Mountain.

I sat that one out.

Hearing both of them scream all the way down the watery drop-off was enough to confirm my wise choice. But when we met them after, all our princess could do was gush about how cool that was.

My oldest princess loved the Swiss Family Treehouse and Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride. She's a total book-girl and had enjoyed the books so much she couldn't wait to see them in real Disney life. The rides doubled the fun as she recounted story facts and reveled in books coming alive.

Fun fact I added...the love song from Aladdin was the music I walked down the aisle to at my wedding.

Here, David and I pose with the Genie at Mickey's PhilharMagic~ one of my favorite Disney experiences.

And contrary to all the adult moans I heard about It's a Small World, we loved it. My youngest princess even danced to the familiar tune...

Sing with me..."It's a small world after all. It's a small world after all...."

Okay, suffice it to say we too are still singing the catchy ditty because we rode It's a Small World twice.

I liked the air conditioned, calm ride across the water and through the countries of the world, especially Ireland and Germany.

My husband's favorite ride was the Jungle Cruise. He got a big kick out of our guide's corny jokes. David even videoed the entire cruise. So we'll have the pleasure of reliving fifteen minutes of stand up comedy with rushing water, head hunters, and non-ear wiggling hippos, minus the sweat-dripping heat.

But it was worth it. Having David's laughter on tape is priceless.

I've already shared my highlight of Disney magic~ my princesses awed by Cinderella, Belle, and Aurora. Another very high point was part of our lunch celebration.

First, I have to tell you all that I haven't tasted bread in almost two years. I'm allergic to wheat, so most of my fave foods have been big no-nos for me.

Thankfully, Disney's magic isn't just for the tiny tikes. They do their best to make the big kids smile too. And they did with special made rice rolls just for me.

I had to commemorate the moment with a picture. Can't you see my smile?

We capped the day off with shopping~ four girls in the family, remember? ;-)~ and fireworks.

It was amazing! Nobody does fireworks like Disney.

The rest of our vacation was spent at the beach and pool. My three fishes loved every minute.

We found shells~ gorgeous, huge, only on the Atlantic coast shells. Shells David and I risked life and limb to snatch out of a stormy ocean.

But hey, the ocean taught me how to do a full split and live to tell about it.

We also swam with manatees. After wolves, manatees top my list of cool wild life. So when one of my best friends suggested Sebastian Inlet Park, I was there.

David and two of our princesses hung out on the rocks, above the tide pool. My friend and the rest of our kiddos, stayed in chin deep water~ murky, green water~ hoping to spot a manatee.

One, and then two huge manatees popped their noses up to say hi a few times. But then they disappeared.

I made a joke about how they were probably close by, listening to us talk about wanting to pet them and just laughing because we couldn't see them.

So they popped up again, less than two feet away, right after I said that.

Everyone but me got to pet them. My hubby accidentally sat on one and it nudged him back up. Another of the manatees saved my daring daughter when she swam out to where she couldn't touch and got too tired to keep treading water.

The benevolent manatee swam up closer to the surface and gave her a boost my way.

I'm telling you, these creatures are amazing!

But instead of letting me pet them, my manatee friend decided it was going to pet me.

Yep, he swam close, nudged me with his flipper, and then swam off. Probably laughing all the way.

Even so, our swim date with these cool creatures showed us that fairy dust doesn't just make magical moments at Disney.

One of my princesses said it best. "Thank you, God, that You really do make dreams come true!"

And while it's fun to be silly about fairy dust, I know what got sprinkled over my family this past week had nothing to do with fairies.

It was all the Holy Spirit's laughter, inviting us to make memories with Him that we'll smile about for decades to come.

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