Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Baking Day 2010

The annual cookie project usually involves me baking at any given opportunity from November 1 up until the week of Christmas. I give the cookies to friends, neighbors,and co workers. They have become our way of loving on these folks at the holidays.
 
I got a little behind in production over the course of November.  I got to thinking it would be fun to get a lot done all in one day. I spoke with the secretary at church about using the kitchen there, reasoning that 3 sinks and 2 ovens would lead to bigger production. So I reserved the church kitchen and invited some friends to join me. Now the difficulty with using the church kitchen is: Is it stocked with bowls, measuring cups, and scrapers, etc.?  Not typically. Having never used this facility before I chose to pack my own tools to cut down one the hunting for tools while trying to get much accomplished.

The girls and I arrived at 9:20 and took about 20 minutes to unpack tools and ingredients. Organizing a bit to simplify the process I sent the girls to wash up and then we began. Love Bug is in charge of Rice Krispie treats and Bright One starts Honey Oat Jumbles. Both recipes are no bakes and I am able to help them both while allowing them a good deal of autonomy. I loved watching them take ownership. Following the Rice Krispie treats, Big Girl began some Oatmeal Scotchies... but soon got distracted. Her sister joined her in running the halls while I cleaned the first round of mixing bowls. 

Not long into this process my wonderful friend,(whom I will refer to as T) arrived with her 5 recipes and I looked at my list of 25 recipes and realized I MAY have bitten off more than I could chew. The children ran the hallways, stopping periodically to "help". T set her stuff up and began her first recipe.  Soon it was 12:30pm and I felt like I had accomplished very little. The Admiral arrived to collect my girls and give them some daddy time. I kept at it and soon W, another terrific friend, showed up with her daughter.  They went to work. We all jammed out to music and baked and baked and baked. Did I mention that we baked? T left around dinner time. W & I kept at it and finally cleaned up and left around 9:45.

The Results? 7 dz Rice Krispie treats (3 flavors), Rum Raisin cookies 6 dz, Mint - Mint Choc cookies 3.5 dz , Oatmeal Raisin 5.5 doz, Honey Oat Jumbles 3 dz, Oatmeal Scotchies 5.5, Caramel- Heath drops 2.5 dz, Caramel Heath w/ Apple bits 3 dz, Carrot - Molasses 3 dz, Entire bag of Pretzel twists covered in chocolate & Entire bag of Pretzel rods, AND Gingerbread dough made.

IT was a hugely productive day. I overdid it. I was worn out completely. But I got tons done!I am so thankful to my friends who are willing to jump into the deep end with me!

The Army of Gingerbread People

Update: Since The 11th of December I have dipped 2 more bags of pretzels, made 2 more batches cheerio crunchies, and baked the gingerbread cookies. 

 

This day of work was a huge blessing. I got a lot done in a smaller amount of time. I made some fun memories with the girls and my friends. I have lots of goodies to give.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Did you see Me?!?!?

It is always a joy and a privilege to watch your child perform. Hard work and weeks of practice finally paying off. She marches up the aisle with enthusiasm and excitement. Sister confidently takes her place. Little girl smiles tremulously and stretches her neck trying to find us in the huge crowd of parents and grandparents. The annual school advent program for kindergarten, first, & second grade. Everyone worked exceedingly hard. It was a fun presentation!
     We arrived early  and dropped each daughter off in their classrooms. Then we headed to the sanctuary to find seats. Soon the children processed in, our girls smiling as they looked for us.  We strained to see them amid the earnest faces. The evening progressed and Love Bug sang her part beautifully. Then Bright One's group got set up. She delivered her lines with panache, speed, and supreme cuteness! ( yes. I am biased.) The pageant ended. The children returned to the their classrooms. As they recessed out of the church, I waved at Bright One and she waved back. I bursting with pride in both girls and ready for some cookies. It took a few minutes to traverse the crowded hallways.  Love Bug's classroom is at the far end of a long hallway and several folks stopped me to chat on the way back to the cookies. Bright One's teacher caught me. I sent my big girl to go and find her daddy. The teacher tells me that upon returning to the classroom Bright One burst into tears. She insisted that we didn't see her at all during the show because she apparently never saw us. By the time I got to the cookie party little girl was calmed down but very serious as she told me why she was upset. She couldn't find us in the huge crowd and was sure we hadn't seen her. Daddy convinced her that we had indeed witnessed her performance.

Bright One with her BFF after the program
Later, I reflected on the incident. Bright One did an excellent job. She sang her songs with passion and joy. She delivered her lines clearly. Her thoughts? "Did You see me, Mama?!?" " Did you see Me, Daddy?!?" "Are you proud of me?" Then her joy is stolen. "Mama didn't see me. I couldn't find them." Her perception that we couldn't have seen her. Not truth. But perception none the less.  We are like this sweet child.  "Did you see me God? Are you watching? Are you proud of me, Lord?" " Are you there,Jesus?"  Our perception that He doesn't see when we hurt or do well? Yet he does and He cherishes our victories. He feels our hurt. Christ knows what it is to be human.  Our Lord chose to become human and endure all that we do and so much more. I am so thankful for this reminder in the form of my daughter's tear-stained face. A reminder that truth is different than my perception. I can call out to Him for reassurance. I can seek Him in His Word. He wants me to seek Him in the crowd. God wants me to find Him.

Have you sought Him in every circumstance lately? Even when all appears that He is not watching, He promises in His Word to care for us every day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Rain Barrel

So this morning I logged in and looked at my blog. Then I freaked out. I apologize dear friends for almost two weeks of silence. I am not really sure what happened. Time flew past me. I am amazed at how fast the week has gone and all the adventures I haven't shared. God's lessons small and large building up around me. I process and I work. I watch my girls play in the snow.

 
                              pic from freefoto.com
Christmas is a time of chosen joy and deliberate attention to God's gifts. Taking time to read next to our beautiful tree is a special privilege. Baking to excess and sharing the bounty, a pleasure. Wrapping gifts to create loving surprises. Each activity is a memory drop stored in the vast barrel that collects them like the huge rain barrel that saved rain for watering the garden. I save these little memory drops and store them for those dry days when my inspiration is parched and needs rejuvenated. This time of year is rich with memory drops as we step away from the mundane and into special activities, books, tv shows, ideas. When January comes and we return to the mundane the barrel is precariously full, in danger of flowing over. In that moment I know that I am blessed.

Fill up your rain barrel. Stock up on memories. Be intentional about making memories. Choose not to survive the Holidays - Choose to LIVE them richly. Treasure the gift of God that makes it possible for us to have relationship with him.

So I wasn't ignoring my blog this week - I was out filling my rain barrel.

Caite

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pizza parts

My family has reached a delightful life stage. My oldest is voraciously reading everything with words on it and finishes her library books the day she brings them home. The five year old is sounding everything out anytime she sees letters. This place is wonderful. Love Bug loves to escape into books. She dives into stories, swimming through them, discovering new places! Bright One is a kindergartner who desires to read like sister. She wants to read it herself. Accomplishing this goal  is coming quickly and she loves sounding out words and then asking what they mean. Watching our daughters develop a love of reading is a joy. This process is also leading to some quite hilarious moments.
Last evening on our way to a family night at the girls school we stopped at a stoplight. Bright One began to sound out the large letters on the billboard out her window.

Bright One "aaa ttt Oooo"
Me - " "au' says  'ahh' "
Bright one " Aaahhh t t t ooooo,  Auto? Mama? is it Auto?"
Me - "yes love it is Auto"
Bright One - " zzzzzzz  aaaa  nnnnn, auto zaan?"
Me - " No there is an e on the end so the O says it's name"
Bright One " OH! yes "zzzOOOnneee, Auto Zone? What is that?"
** Cue Light Change***
Bright One "ppppIZZA!" ( just catching the p in parts as we are pulling away )
Me (answering the earlier question) " They sell parts..."
Bright One - "PIZZA PARTS!"
Me - " Ummm No, Car parts."
Bright One - " Mom it didn't say car parts.'"

So I went on the explain that auto is short for automobile which is car. And that there would be no pizza involved at all. She was very perplexed. Her father and I worked very hard to not bust out in laughter.

What an amazing blessing! The gift of Laughter and Joy in a little one's new found skills.

Count your little gifts today and be aware!

Friday, November 26, 2010

On the Journey...

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving. Our annual celebration of our blessings. I am rejoicing to be with my parents, aunt, uncle & grandmother. We do not often get the chance to all be together. I am so Thankful that my girls have the opportunity to know my grandmother. Great - grandmother is 94 and growing shorter with each passing month. She enjoys watching the girls play and hearing about our lives. Bright One did a short vocal concert for everyone after lunch. It was a blessing.

One of the things I am most thankful for is my daughters. They amaze me. The things they learn and connect are sometimes unexpected. They argue and bicker which makes me crazy. Then occassionally they surprise me with wonderful caring for each other. On the journey to my folks we had a wonderful moment that showed me just what big girls they are becoming. We were approximately halfway into our journey when we stopped for dinner at an O'Charley's restaurant. Dinner was very yummy. We had just finished our meal when Bright One decided that she should try the restroom before resuming our journey. Love Bug said "I'll take her!"  So off they went to use the restroom. The Admiral and I finished up our meals and paid the bill. When a small amount of time passed, I realized I should probably go and assist Bright One with reaching the rather high counter to wash her hands. Upon entering the rest room the sight that met my eyes left me speechless with delight. First I heard them singing rousingly "5 little Monkeys, Jumping on the bed!" Then I saw them. Bright One precariously balanced on her elbows washing her hands. Her feet tucked under her sister's arms and straight out behind her. Love Bug held Bright One's feet up wheelbarrow race style. They had solved the problem and were enthusiastically singing with all the joy that goes with a trip to grandma's and dinner out. I quickly left, laughing outright once I was out of range.

I was so delighted with their ingenuity and joy. I am thankful for these precious girls.


Lord God give me your eyes to see my daughters as you see them. Give me wisdom as I work with their father to raise them to know and trust you. Remind me often of their wonderful uniqueness!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Be Aware...

I sit watching, listening to the voices gurgling all about  me like a stream burbling over rocks. Opinions being thrown out almost at random. People with purpose striding in and out quickly. Others sitting and debating the meaning of life. People discussing the ability of one to achieve happiness. I am saddened by the cynical conversation so void of hope. Another conversation drifts by celebrating the joy of an impending birth. My heart lifts as the babble of two small boys asking a million curious questions washes over my table. One man discusses playing golf in the bitter November wind.

As I work on my meal calendar and grocery list, all these conversations surge around me. Papa God loves these people. The agnostic in the corner who wants everyone to know that in his opinion faith is futile. God loves him. The student studying in the cushy chair, concentrating fiercely. The barista who knows what I will order even before I have decided. He prides himself on knowing and delighting the regulars. I am filled with a sense of the Lord's passion for these people.

When was the last time I really listened to another person. I tend to live my insulated life. Doing my own thing. Worrying and working on my myriad of projects. Paying no attention to the people God brings into and out of my life on a daily basis. Keeping to myself and not reaching out to give of my gifts. I want to be more obedient to reaching out to the people around as the Holy Spirit prompts me. Not to shove my beliefs at them but just to care for them. Being obedient to give of self is frightening. But the Lord promises He will guide and protect us.

So this week reach out. Give of self. Choose one person to love on, care about, pray over, and quietly bless. This does not need to be showy or overt, only obedient. Seek the Father for direction and then act. Maybe you will reach out to a complete stranger by paying for the car behind you at the drive through. Maybe you will smile at someone who is feeling lonely. Whatever it is do it.

There is a song  out right now by Brandon Heath that convicts me. The chorus says:
"Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the brokenhearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see"


Lord today show me your heart and lead me to reach out as you guide me!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Thankfulness

holy experience 
 
Happy Monday Friends!

Continuing to share my blessings!
 
Thank You Father for:

#12 leaves to rake
#13 little faces covered with chocolate bits and powdered sugar
#14 silly voices that create uncontrolled giggles
#15 warm blankets
#16 four varieties of cookies cooling on the counter
#17 crossed off  to do lists
#18 unexpected mild weather
#19 rain
#20 de-cluttered dining room table
#21 time for prayer
#22 orange cinnamon tea
#23 my gentle man
#24 hilarious worship team rehearsals
#25 reverent worship
#26 silly friends
#27 belly kisses on a little girl belly
#28 precious sleeping faces
#29 animated discussion
#30 clean sheets
#31 clean socks
#32 extra hugs that make me late

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Links for today!

http://sanctumasylum.blogspot.com/2010/11/riding-on-faith.html

This is a friends blog. His story today is wonderful! Please check it out!

Identity Promises #2 .... What guilt?

My life is full of blame. Me blaming the kids, the kids blaming each other, the world casting blame on me, etc. We live in a "who done it?" world. Who is to blame? Who is guilty? We all are. Scripture quotes the prophets in Romans 3 verse 10-11 " as it is written: 'There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God.'" The passage goes to say "all have turned aside...No one shows kindness...not even one." In all it is a pretty damning passage. Makes me feel about this big. It does ring with truth. We as a people and myself in specific are not primarily concerned with others. I am mostly concerned with me first. How will this benefit me? Will I get recognition for this action? I guilt myself about this attitude that I don't automatically, angelically put others ahead of me. I feel guilt frequently over taking time for myself. Beyond basic selfishness is the sin. If you hold scripture to be inerrant and truthful ( I do.) Then you must face up to verse ten - " NO ONE is RIGHTEOUS, not even ONE." We all sin. I sin. Daily, in fact several times daily I find myself caught in sin. I picture it slimy, covering me, dragging me down in an ooze of evilness. Is there no HOPE? There is hope. We do not have to live in guilt, blame and ooze. Read on ahead to our identity promise for today - Romans 3:24.

Romans 3:21 -26
21 But now, irrespective of the law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction,  23 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24 they are now justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by His blood, effective through faith. He did this to show His righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over the sins previously committed; 26 it was to prove at the present time that He himself is righteous and that He justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
The key being verse 24 " they are justified by His grace as a gift through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus " What does justified mean? In this usage it means made blameless. I am made blameless. Why? By His grace through Christ. Because He loves me. This is big. God justifies, holds blameless, me, who is guilty, because of Christ. What does this promise say about my identity?  It says I do not have to be identified for my failure. I do not have to be known as one who failed to live without sin. I am blameless before a Holy God.

Identity Promise: I am declared not guilty by His grace through the redemption I have in Jesus Christ

Jesus redeems me and cleanses the sin ooze away as if it was never there and I am declared not guilty. Friends, This is the freedom that comes by choosing accept the Gift of Christ's redemptive work on the cross. Do not let Satan steal this truth from you! It is a promise. It is  fact. The evil one will try to tell you that you are unworthy ( you are - but God loves you regardless. ) Satan will try to convince you that the ooze has stained you so badly that you  will never be clean. God can cleanse you completely.

Lord Jesus, Savior, cleanse me and justify me that I would not live in a cloud of guilt. Bring this promise to fruition in my life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

just be

In 7 days we will pilgrimage to the east. We will travel late, arrive late and rise early to watch the traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Sleepily piling into my parents TV room to take in the balloons and preforming marching bands from across the country. We will partake in a multitude of traditions and indulgences (can I just say - Ice Box Cake)  Thanksgiving is a time to just be. Counting our blessings and enjoying the gathering of family. I love the traditions and the relaxed atmosphere of the holiday. I am counting down to the ridiculously silly card games, amazing food that I cannot replicate - only mom can make it taste right, little girls and crazy puppy-dogs. I am so thankful for the coming holiday, an island of peace in the midst of life.

As you make your own pilgrimage or prepare to receive pilgrims to your own home be mindful of the opportunity to just be. The chance to love on each other, enjoying games and silliness, comes so rarely. Set aside disagreement, agendas, and cherish being family!

Lord help me to relax about the details and take this holiday as it comes, enjoying the process and loving on my family.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Community

holy experience

I have decided to join the Gratitude Community and blog here on Mondays about my gifts. Here is a link:

www.aholyexperience.com/2003/06/gratitude-community/

God has been so very good and when times feel thin taking stock of His gifts helps me to trust Him for the future. Worry frequently tries to take over my mind and soul. Intentional thankfulness protects me against the attack of worry. So here is my Monday list today.

#1 Friends
#2 A Barista who goes the extra mile
#3 Baby faces that show when the little girl is sleeping
#4 Sandwich meat in the refrigerator for a fallback
#5 Ephesians
#6 The beat up ancient afghan that is so warm when I want to curl up in a ball.
#7 Admiral hugs
#8 unexpected gift cards
#9 holiday plans
#10 Hidden gift boxes, filled throughout the year
#11 ridiculous giggles from the back seat.

More next Monday

Join the Gratitude Community

Caite

Identity Promises.... #1 What is My Value?

 "8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-- 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what He has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life."
Ephesians 2: 8-10

It has been asked for millennia -"What is my purpose? Why am I here? What is my Value?" People intrinsically want to know their value, their reason for being. I do anyway. I find I compare myself to others. What makes them valuable? Why are they valuable? Can I use the measure of them to determine my value? As humans I think we often use the "success" we have, the value of our job or career, the importance we perceive that we have to others to determine our worth. We assign value to ourselves based on our accomplishments. Scripture says differently. 

 Ephesians 2:10  tells us that we are created by the Master for a purpose. A purpose that He prepared for us. The Master created me for a reason. When I think of the great masters, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Picasso and their peers, I think of amazing artwork, inventions, and incredible discoveries. Then I realize that their talents, their amazingness is all due to the Master Creator and He created them for a purpose. My mind reels.

So I am God's masterpiece. Whoa. What does it mean to be a masterpiece? A masterpiece is a unique work, designed and executed with the utmost skill. In reference to me - I am God's masterpiece designed with skill, for goodness and purpose. I am not an assembly line product. I am unique. I have no business belittling God's masterpiece. He's God. He determines my value. Not me. I can claim this. His promise that I am His masterpiece, created with His design already in place for my life.

My Identity Promise: I am God's masterpiece created in Jesus Christ for goodness.


Lord, Thank you for setting me apart unique and with a purpose in your kingdom. I am a masterpiece. My value is beyond what I can imagine. Lord help me to claim this and lives as your treasure.


Friday, November 12, 2010

A few of my favorite things

giggles in the morning
silliness at breakfast
sunrises over the city
tall grins
new shoes
joyful songs sung at random from the backseat
messes left from surprise craft projects
small socks
puppies
colorful blobs of uncertain design giving with 'I love you, mom!'
soft smiles
second hugs
dinner in crockpot
perseverance through handwriting trials
Christmas carols hesitantly played
laughter in the coffee shop
tangles of cords 
empty spaces on horizontal surfaces
pencil drawings that tell extensive stories explained by a 7 yr old
creative overflow
new shirts
*squeezles*
giant floppy dogs
blue - all colors of blue
new pillows
lunch
lovely little ticklish toes
baby otters
talks with Mom



Monday, November 8, 2010

Identity Promises....

A promise by definition is:

Definition of PROMISE

1  a : a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified
    b : a legally binding declaration that gives the person to whom it is made a right to expect or to claim the performance or forbearance of a specified act 
2: reason to expect something promise of relief>; especially : ground for expectation of success, improvement, or excellence promise>

Based on the above definition this would mean that a promise is something you can count upon with utmost certainty. When a promise is delivered by a person whom you trust its certainty is ironclad. There are a great many promises in our world. In the coming weeks I want to share with you some promises the Lord has given us.  Part of my life's journey has included a season of coping with depression. The process included digging into whom I am in Christ. My value is not dependent on me. According to the Scriptures my value is mine because of Christ and His work on the cross. 

 There are thirty- two verses in the New Testament that speak to "My Promised Identity in Christ."  Because these promises come from Christ they are certain. We can claim them daily and apply them to our lives, our thoughts, and our attitudes. Over the coming weeks I will be mining the word for these promises and posting my thoughts and research regarding each. This is not a daily series. My goal will be to post at least two promises each week. Please keep me in your prayers as I enter into this season.

 Caite 

What matters?

Over the past few days my thoughts have turned repeatedly to priorities. What truly matters in life? Stuff, accomplishments, degrees, cars? I contend that people, relationships, are far and away what truly matters.  Nothing else lasts or has impact beyond our immediate world. The relationships we choose to build and nurture are lasting.

It is said that everyone comes into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime ( I am sure this is a quote from someone famous but I think I read it on a Hallmark card).  I believe that each of these types of relationship have infinite value.

A reason: How often does someone come into your life for a short time and then is gone? This person is touching your life and you theirs for a reason. Perhaps they need your encouragement. Maybe you need their challenge. God has lessons for us in every encounter. This week Tonya* entered my life for 20 minutes. In that time I learned that she has no children but is ok with it. She wouldn't want children at this late age anyway ( she wasn't at all old). I learned that Tonya has a passion for soothing women when they are nervous. I learned that Tonya is efficient, calm, and caring. Tonya likes her job. When my mammogram was complete she smiled and said "You have been a blessing to me today." I was floored. I blessed her? She went on " You are the first person today who asked about me and then listened to my answer. Thank You for making me feel important." I said "You're welcome." God put her & I in that place because I needed a calm person and because she needed someone to listen to her. I may never see Tonya again. That is all right. Because there was a reason.

A season: Some relationships build and then wane for no apparent reason. These we can learn from and cherish the memories of. We can pray over the person when the Lord brings them to mind even though the active relationship has passed. Whatever the season, 2 weeks, 2 months, or 2 years, God can use the relationship to enrich your life and theirs. This friendship may wane because of a move across country. Perhaps you have children and they do not and you are in different life places now. Do not mourn long. Rejoice that you had their friendship for a season. Pray that their life is watched over by the Lord. Perhaps someday He will bring them back into your life.

A lifetime: There are a few relationships that whenever you come together even after a long hiatus, it is as if you were never apart.  There are some that you feel as if you couldn't breathe without them. How blessed are we that God puts in us the heart for relationship. The desire to be in connection with others. My most important lifetime relationship is with the Admiral. I desire to just be near his heart. God gave me the most amazing gift when he gave me this man. Another lifetime relationship I cherish is my amazing mother. Her perseverance and desire to know God is a constant example to me. I have others who aren't related by blood. Who will forever be lifetime relationships. There is no going back.

Relationships are the stuff of ages, not degrees, trophies, or accolades. Reach out my friends, reach out to the people in your life. Be thankful for them. Cherish all that God would teach you through others. Be sure to care for your relationships and give them priority in your life. Because the relationships are the legacy that you leave.

Lord touch my day. Help me to align my priorities with yours. Allow me the privilege Lord to love on on others and show them you.


* not her real name.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bear with me....

Friends,

Thanks for continuing to check back. I am not on a hiatus per se. I am writing and seeking the Lord. Finishing posts has been a challenge this last 2 weeks. I have been easily distracted lately. My hubby might say this is a normal state of mind, however I am feeling more scattered than usual. So I am continuing to write. It may just take me a little longer to get to posts up on the blog. Please pray I am able to gather some focus soon.

Caite

Friday, October 22, 2010

Goodbyes...

When you are young, death is so hard to fathom. The inevitable ending that is as much a part of living as birth visited our home recently. Our remaining gerbil died. I am not sure if she died from old age or loneliness. My precious girls cried upon the realization that Jewels was no longer with us. Grief is necessary. The process of saying goodbye is so important. They wept hard and grieved loudly. My heart broke. Not really for the gerbils we have lost, though I will miss them. My heart broke for my daughters. They have experienced so little loss. Part of parenting is putting your heart out there to be broken. Part of parenting is teaching your precious ones that death is part of life. Saying goodbye is hard. But living without is worse. Living without pets, friends, or loved ones is sterile and lonely. I firmly believe that it is better to love and have to let go than to miss out altogether.

So we had a lesson in Goodbyes. Pray for little ones and hurting hearts.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Seasons

Every life, like every year, is made up of seasons. Fall is a contemplative time for me. I watch the vibrant colors erupt as the leaves change with the season shift. I marvel at the creativity of God.  As the physical world undergoes change I look at myself.

I am in such a different place this year. It is the same house, the same town, the same state, yet I am different. I am calm. I am planning my days. I am actively seeking the Lord and His teaching in a deeper way. I want to know Him. I want Him to be enough. If all of the abundance were gone tomorrow - Would God be enough for me? I pray so, Lord!

I am turning my thinking inward a bit this year. There are so many things I think I need to change or improve on... But what does the Lord of heaven say of me? Ephesians chapter 2 verse 10 states "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Whoa. I am God's masterpiece? I am God's masterpiece created in Christ for goodness! So who am I to decide what I should change or improve? Am I an artist greater than the Master who designed creation?  Umm No, I am not. This passage defining who I am in Christ rocked my brain. What I put my hand and mind to do should not be about me, should not be based on my wants. What I choose to do each day should be for Him, His kingdom, and His children!

I am amazed to find that I keep setting goals and asking God to bless my goals. Asking for Him to motivate me. Then I realize this may not be His plan. Conviction settles gently onto my shoulders. I do not feel guilty per se. Challenged would be a better term. Challenged to reach toward Him FIRST. Challenged to wait upon Him rather than jumping into the deep end and then asking for the stamina to be able to survive the pool.

In this season of change, take a glance inward and begin a new discipline. Seek the Father first that your endeavors would be God inspired and directed.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

God used flour bugs?

I had a plan. I had my day laid out. The first load of laundry was gurgling away. The task list for the week was developed. I had answered emails. It was time to bake. The plan called for 3 types of cookies to be made. Great yumminess!!!

The ingredients began to accumulate on the counter. I was excited to be in the kitchen. The flour canister was depleted, but I knew I had another bag of flour in the pantry. I grabbed the bag and disaster! Bugs! UGH! Tons of the little annoying beetles. Ack! I have had the flour bugs before. I am sick of them. I looked it up on the computer and found out my bugs are called "confused" or "red flour beetles." Confused? OK. Apparently there are two varieties so similar they don't bother distinguishing between them without a microscope. Their eggs are likely in the flour, corn meal, cereal, or whatever when it comes home from the store. Nice. How do I get rid of them? The overwhelming answer across many many web pages was clean, clean and clean some more. There went my plan.  So I pitched the flour and proceeded to pull absolutely everything out of my pantry. I vacuumed and soaped the shelves. I sorted stuff, relegating things to the basement or the goodwill box. I reorganized the shelves. The process took all day.

I was frustrated. I wanted to bake cookies. I didn't want to clean. I really didn't want deal with all the stuff I had crammed into this space. But I did deal with it. I didn't bake. The plan was totally scrapped. I pouted as I went to pick up my girls from school.  I muttered my way through making dinner and finishing dealing with the junk from the pantry. My attitude about the whole thing was ugly. Who wants to clean bugs instead of making cookies?  A very slight satisfaction at the clean and organized pantry helped to mollify my irritation.

Later the girls went to bed and the Admiral & I sat down to watch television. Soon I began feeling queasy. The Admiral had mentioned he didn't feel well. The night wore on and I decided to go to bed. Fast forward a few hours - We are both throwing up repeatedly. There are other horrid symptoms as well. The flu has struck us both full force. We are miserable, wretched people. I am exhausted. I get up with the alarm to get the kids ready for school and must keep running to the bathroom. Finally I call my neighbor and ask her to run the kids to school. I cuddle up to the Admiral on the couch and try to sleep.

Early Wednesday, 36 hours after it hit, the flu seems to be gone. It leaves me weak and very sore. I sit down for my quiet time. While studying the realization hits me like a freight train. If I had baked cookies Monday, I would have had to throw them away. All of them. Since I don't know where I got the flu from or when I was contagious I would have had to pitch everything just to be safe. But wait that means that God used... Bugs.  God used those aggravating little confused beetles to keep my unhealthy  germs out of the kitchen. I wish He has used another tactic. On the other hand I have a very organized, CLEAN pantry. Woot!

Isn't interesting how God works all things together for good? (Romans 8:28) So Monday God used confused flour bugs to keep me out of the kitchen so I wouldn't have to throw out hours of work. Therefore I must be thankful for the confused flour bugs. Scripture says "...rejoice in all things the Lord your God has given to you and your household." (Deuteronomy 26:11)

Lord Jesus - give me a thankful heart. Help me to be thankful in each situation. Guide my attitude every day as you know what is going on and I don't.

Friday, October 8, 2010

#*?%&*%*# Catalogs

I love Christmas.

I love the family time. I love the traditions. Every year, I am amazed by the bigness of what God chose to do at Christmas.

It is eleven weeks until Christmas. Eleven. Not three. Not seven. Eleven weeks away. We have not yet celebrated the Harvest Moon, Halloween or even Columbus day! We are still settling in to the whole school routine. So can someone please tell me why I must endure the flood of catalogs? Why I must look at skinny snow bunnies and pages and pages of cute gadgetry that, if I order it, will only guarantee the arrival of MORE catalogs?

There is something in my genetic code that will not allow me to pitch a catalog before I have looked through it. So before I have enjoyed fall a whole week, it is encroached upon by Christmas. I love Christmas. But why now? Life is rushed enough. I do not want to spend a glorious fall sifting through holiday catalogs.

It is not my intent that this blog become a place that continually grumps about all that is wrong in our society. That said, the commercialism of Christmas will have to wait this year. In fact, I may not engage in it at all. I think I might just give everyone homemade scarves or homemade jelly and forget the search for the elusive perfect gift. Christmas, for me, is rejoicing that God decided to save me. It is spending time with people I love and lavishing them with my caring. Of course this is a difficult statement to execute. I know there will be some shopping. I think I am just irritated that it has started so soon.

I love fall. So I will revel in the crisp mornings and the lovely afternoons. I will cherish the colors as they drift from green to burgundy, orange, yellow and brown. I will take life slowly and enjoy the season. I will be blessed in the fall. I will not be rushed by the world.

I am adjusting my attitude. Christmas catalogs that I might purchase from will go into the box labeled "later." The rest will find residence in the circular file. I am determined to not keep every catalog. I am determined not to be overwhelmed by the commercial holiday. It is my heart's desire to be overwhelmed by the love of the season and by loving those around me.

Lord, Help me guard my mind and heart. Help me to focus on your gift and sharing it with others.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Apple Challenge

I had an apple for my breakfast. A huge Honeycrisp. So sweet, very crunchy - in short delicious. I was thinking about what an amazing creation the apple is. Our God is extremely imaginative. The apple is an extraordinary example of engineering. As I enjoyed this gift from my creator, I reveled in the bounty of His goodness.

The Challenge this weeks is to post what reminds you of God's amazingness. Why does that thing speak the greatness of God to you?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Choices

You’re in line at your favorite coffee place. You look at the mass of menu options, and your brain immediately turns to mush. There are so many decisions to make. Plain coffee or espresso? Whole or skim milk? (For the record, I am not sure skim actually counts as milk.) Do you order a flavor? Which one of the dozens of options? Maybe you should have tea. You are next in line and you still haven't decided. Green tea, black tea, white tea, herbal tea? It occurs to you that tea may present even more choices. The pressure builds; what should you do? AAAHHH!

 Do you ever get tired of choices? The society we live in gives us an overwhelming scope of choices. We are drowning in decisions. Tea or coffee? Blue or red? Steak or chicken? Go out or stay in? Get up and study or sleep away the day? A large percentage of these choices are amoral. They have no impact on eternal things. What we decide in these cases has little bearing on others. Other choices have incredible bearing on us and on others. They impact relationships, our witness and our beliefs. When the Holy Spirit nudges, do we respond or ignore it?

Have you intentionally laid your foundational assumptions? (The basis by which we make our decisions in life.)  In essence, it is why you believe what you believe, your worldview. Most people make these assumptions subconsciously and therefore make choices re-actively. If you do not understand your foundations, then your choices/decisions are scattered and inconsistent. Life is full of hard choices and decisions. Be intentional about digging deep to discover what you believe and why you believe that way. This is a difficult process; you may not like what you find in this “dig”. I am struggling with this. Foundations are laid just by the process of growing up. Yet you can change them when you are intentional about establishing the reasons behind the beliefs. Define your core beliefs. They will serve as a guide when tough decisions arise.

After coming full circle, (your foundations are set, you’ve done your “digging” and you’re more self-aware) there is something else to contemplate. We are so inundated with casual choices that we tend to be very flippant about them and then miss the important ones. I think this goes hand in hand with our commitment to “busy.” We live "busy" always moving, with a million plates spinning at one time. This "busy" makes hearing the still small voice of God and the nudge of the Holy Spirit difficult. Are we choosing to listen, to hear what God is asking us to do? Are His instructions lost in the "busy"?

My girls have set sail in a new school year and I am missing them. For the past few weeks, I have been “moseying” through my days, getting a bit done here and there and ultimately accomplishing very little. I kept arriving at 3:00 pm (the time I leave to get the girls), and saying to myself "what did you do today?" Each day, I came up with no answer.

After a few days of this, the Lord very gently said, "What were your decisions today?" As I looked back at the day, I realized I hadn't made any real decisions. In other words, I had puttered the day away. "Drat!” I thought. "I'll do better tomorrow." Except that when I hit 3pm again…"Double Drat!" After 3.5 weeks of drifting from this to that and back again, I went back to the Lord.  He very clearly said, "Choose. Are you going to drift your way through? Or will you choose?" And I knew. Knew I could live reacting to the things in life that bumped me into action or I could choose to do.

What does this mean for me – today, tomorrow, next week, next month? It means choosing to plan and following the plan. Choosing to schedule play time that doesn't leave me feeling guilty. Choosing to schedule work and volunteer time so one doesn't overwhelm the other aspects of life. It means saying "no." I have created a list of activities, which includes projects, tasks, work, volunteer hours and playtime. I am planning my weeks in advance, so I am not wondering where they went when I get to the other side of them. I am planning our meals in advance based on the calendar activities so I do not spend hours trying to decide what I want to make for dinner each night.

Have you been drifting in the sea of choices, so overwhelmed your mind was unable to decide? Are you drifting from task to task without focus or purpose? Find your purpose. Set your foundations. Why do you believe what you believe? Use that framework to prioritize your choices. Listen for His voice. It takes practice. Practice often to hear Him guiding you. Plan your work and work your plan. Remember the impact of your choices.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thankfulness

Audience Participation Post

Thankful is defined as follows by Merriam - Webster:
1 : conscious of benefit received thankful>
2: expressive of thanks <thankful service>
3: well pleased : glad thankful that it didn't rain>

 The practice of being thankful has been greatly neglected in recent years. I find I need to be very intentional about being thankful. When I do this and  I consciously choose to thank others for small kindnesses, they are often surprised or flustered. Has the habit of saying a genuine "Thank You" become so out of vogue that it makes people uncomfortable? For my part, I find that when I deliberately work on showing thankfulness, on being thankful in my heart, I am happier and more contented. No one can make you happy. You must choose to be or not to be. When I am thankful for all the big and small things around me - It is easier to feel happy. Being thankful helps build up the positive in your soul.

So, I have a challenge and a request for you. Each week I will give a challenge and ask for your response. This weeks challenge is: For 2 days spend 10 minutes at days end journal-ling the things that you found throughout the day to be thankful about. Write down at least 5 things. Big or small it doesn't matter. Be thankful. Then post a response in the comments about how this practice impacted your outlook.

Thanks friends!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

word watcher

"Words, words, words I'm so sick of words" Eliza Doolittle 

I believe that words get on my nerves due to the misuse of some and the overuse of others. This has become a love - hate relationship. I am writing this blog because the Lord told me to do so. Words are necessary to this task. I find myself listening for unique words that can replace the tired and misused words so abundant in our culture. Isn't plethora a cool way to say 'a lot?'  This awareness of words has spilled over into my speaking and listening as well.

In becoming a parent, I have found myself also becoming a word watcher. I think this happens to most parents who wish to raise well - behaved, language - conscious children. We become careful with our language, our music, and what media we allow them to intake. This is an important part of parenting. Being a word watcher is also an important part of my own well being. Some words build up; some tear down. Our sub-conscious hears and absorbs them all. I am struggling with keeping my self-talk positive. Satan would have me believe I am so much less than my value. But God's word says I am heir to the kingdom. That makes me a princess. A person of great value indeed. Since it takes seven positive statements to override a negative one in our brains, we must take every thought captive. 2 Corinthians 10:5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (emphasis mine) I must choose to believe the promises of God in scripture. I must choose to reject the destructive words of the evil one. If I do not do this, I  find myself desperately trying not to drown in a flood of negativity and depression. While you may not deal with depression, we all get dragged down when we allow the negative to overpower us. So I choose. I choose to believe I am God's Princess. I am precious to the God of the universe. So are you. Believe it!

I challenge you this week to take your thoughts captive. Keep a journal of the moments when you choose who you will listen to. You will be surprised how easy it is to tear yourself down over little things. Take those thoughts captive and celebrate your heritage in Christ.

Lord this week help me to take my thoughts captive and focus on your voice.

Monday, September 27, 2010

What confidence?

Recently I was approached in casual conversation by my pastor "You should be on the worship team," he said.

I was floored, but he had planted a seed. That little seed festered in my mind. You see, I love to sing. However, in my opinion, I have never been terribly good at it . I do all right for in the shower or for tormenting my husband in the car, not so much in front of the general public. The Bible says "make a joyful noise.." (Psalm 100:1) So I do. I love to worship! There is a difference between singing for public consumption and worshiping the living God!

Worshiping our maker is a must! It is a passion for me. Giving of myself, my voice and my attention to the adoration of Holy God, that's a privilege. The little seed pastor planted created a war in my mind. Part of me really, really wanted to join the worship team. The other part of me wanted to run for the hills. I felt so uncomfortable. I felt afraid of messing up, hitting wrong notes, being off pitch, and generally sounding bad.

I vacillated back and forth over and over. IS this worship team thing something I'm supposed to ? The more I prayed the more I felt like I should. Then the worship director approached me. I took another 2 weeks after that to pray and try to talk myself out of it. Alas, it was not to be. The Admiral gave his blessing and I felt the Lord was pushing me to do this. I told them I would join the team.

I showed up to my first rehearsal, full of nerves but had a fine evening. They are a friendly and comfortable group. The first Sunday went well. I was nervous but God is good and I was able to move past the nerves and into worship. The second week at rehearsal the leader for the week said "I wondered if you would solo this bridge?" I thought, WHAT?!?!?, but said "um....  *mumble* well I guess I could...."

So, in obedience to this nudge, I practiced and practiced and practiced. I was obedient and ready to do it. To my great relief the song was cut Sunday morning due to time constraints. The leader for that second week said to me " I knew you had the confidence to do this solo!" I looked around to see who she was talking to. "What confidence!?!?!, I said. Me? Ummmm, No. Not confident. Scared witless but obedient." She laughed, patted my shoulder, and said "we will do the song again soon and you can do the solo."

I am really enjoying singing with the worship team. I am glad I was obedient. I am still pretty nervous. I DO make mistakes, and that is ok. Because I am not called to be the perfect musician, vocalist, or performer. I am called to be an enthusiastic, genuine, and obedient worshiper. Phillippians 4:13 " I can do all thing through Christ who strengthens me" This verse gives me confidence that this is where I am supposed to be serving. My choice is to be available to God and let HIM equip me for this task. What confidence? The confidence that I am in the center of His will, focused on Him and not myself.


Lord give me the confidence that comes from you alone. Keep my hand firmly tucked  in yours. Walk me through this experience. Let my actions glorify you and you alone.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chicken Soup & Engineers

I am always on the lookout for quick prep easy recipes. I like to cook, in fact I really enjoy it. But I do not always make enough time to do it well. Our lives are full and on the go, and this often leads to the dreaded "Whatever shall I make for dinner?" question. When this question pops in my head I immediately draw a blank. I stand looking stupidly into the pantry trying to conjure something out of thin air. I wander around my kitchen discarding the old standbys because I am sick of making them or because I am short one crucial ingredient. (You simply cannot make Hamburger Bean Pie without the beans. I do not recommend substituting peas either - they turn to mush.) Since school has now begun and our schedule is getting solidified, I have identified some days as 'crock-pot days'. If I have to be out of the house most of the day, it is a wonderful thing to come home to dinner bubbling away in the crock pot. One day last week, a simple crock pot experiment turned out brilliantly. I thought I would cook some chicken breasts in broth until they fell apart and then use the meat for quesadillas or "pulled bbq chicken." After about 45 minutes, the chicken broth and meat smelled so good I decided to add carrots and celery to the pot. Some oregano and garlic salt went in too, and I went off to collect the kids from school. We arrived home after piano lessons to a tantalizing soup smell that just begged for noodles. So I quickly made homemade noodles. The soup was wonderful and filling. My girls even ate theirs with almost no complaining.


I realized in this success that I often over-think things. I frequently tease the Admiral about his habit of engineering things to the Nth degree. This habit makes me nutty. He will figure and plan and monkey around and re-plan and by the time he is done the project is so engineered that only he understands it. I love him for it. Because of his methodical way of planning and re-planning, the things he builds last a long time. I end up being blessed by the very thing that made me crazy in the first place. In cooking over engineering is usually bad. I find that the more I fiddle with a dish, the weirder it comes out. Sometimes you must just trust your instincts and let it cook. Situations in our lives are like this too; more often than not engineering them will only make them more complicated. We are better off to let the Holy Spirit guide us and only stir things up at His direction.

Lord Help me to trust your guidance about when to let it cook and when to engineer. Help me to give over the controls to you when I want to do it my way.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The first day of school, this year



New school year. New school. New clothes. New teachers. New friends. New school supplies (I shiver with happiness, for I am addicted). New schedule. New chores. Fall has become as much a time for new as spring.

Love Bug & Bright One are off to their first day of the 2010 -2011 school year. The summer went by very fast. I am overwhelmed that it is time for school already. Time for routines and new experiences without me. I am happy for them. I am looking forward to getting to know a new school family. It is an adventure in the waiting.


I am lonely. I am working to establish a routine for myself. I am not so good at it. I don't like structure. But OH! how I need it. Anne of Green Gables says to Marilla "tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." It reminds me that, even if I do not stick to my schedule, God redeems my time. He will work all things together for good. I must hold on to that when I want to berate myself for an unproductive day. In a way this is a new start for me as well as for my kids. I am recreating my days. I want to be excellent in the way I live. I want to rejoice in every situation. It doesn't matter if I am cleaning up dirty dishes or creating something on my sewing machine. This year is going to be my adventure in Joy and Thankfulness, rediscovering who Caite is as mom, wife, and child of God.


Thank you Father, for a new start, a clean slate. Lord, be my guide. Keep turning me to you in each moment. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Today

Today I am 36.

Birthdays are fun,a little strange and disconcerting. Disconcerting because it is weird to think I am halfway to 72. This is my day to look back and evaluate where I am. Have I met my goals for the year? Have I been obedient to the Lord? Where am I going this coming year? I think your birthday is perhaps better than New Years. Because it belongs to just you. You can set your goals, decide on new paths, seek the Lord for guidance.

My day was quiet. The Admiral took the girls shopping so I had some time to myself. They bought me a new watch. A wonderful and needed gift. Then we headed to a friend's 4 year old's birthday party. His B-day is actually the 24th but today was the celebration. It was fun to get to share my special day with this precious little boy!

Lord Jesus Lead me down the paths you choose for me this year. Teach me to hear you in every moment and every situation. Give me a hunger for you that never ends. Thank you for being you.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

In All things, Be Excellent

Today the Admiral and I had lunch at an inner-city sub shop in a Midwestern city. This is the type of place where you can watch them create your perfect sub. We stood watching the young man place the meat on the bread very slowly. Then the veggie guy puttered along barely speaking loud enough to be heard. Eventually they finished making our sandwich but neither of them knew how to check us out. They muttered to each other for a minute or two. A young woman came out from the back and the guys muttered at her. She looked up, saw us waiting, snapped at the guys, then wandered over and allowed us to pay for our meal. I sat down feeling unwanted and unwelcome.

Why tell you all this?

I tell you because as I watched these two young men fumble around "to serve" us, not really caring that we were there, I felt judgmental and critical. I was irritable about their lack of pride in their work and in themselves. Then the Lord spoke to me. " You are not excellent in all things either. You are being critical of them, yet you haven't been giving your all in each thing you take on. You have taken on too many things to do your best at any of them."

Ouch.

Lord, let me be excellent in each thing that I do. Let me perseve to do my very best as an offering to my holy Father.  Lord, give me clear guidance to seek you for each activity, that I might honor you.

Work out day #3

I decided not to write back on day one. Why? Well because I am somewhat sick of day ones. Day one is a special day, a new beginning, a start. Day one implies new determination. Well I have had LOTS of day ones. I want to have a day 320 and a day "I can't remember how many because this is just who I am." I am so tired of starting and not finishing or starting and stopping. So when I looked at photograph of myself and had viscerally disgusted reaction and said to myself "You need to get serious. You need to change some things and get this stopped before you wake up and are unable to to walk!" I am a beautiful and wonderful person. The mirror doesn't show me the person I know that I am.
I promised the girls a trip to the pool at the Y. I stuck my tennis shoes in the bag on the sly so I wouldn't come up with an excuse not to go. I told the girls that I had to use the elliptical trainer for 30 minutes before we could go to the pool. So they went to child watch to play and I did 35 minutes on the machine. When we got to the pool I did some stretching and crunches.
As of today We have been back three times on schedule. I am awfully annoyed by the whole process. The breathing hard, the numbness in my feet, the time it takes. I am simultaneously proud of myself for managing 3 days. I am started again in my desire to be healthier. I want to persevere. I want to learn to like the woman in mirror. God Loves her and so should I.

Lord, I need you. I need your strength. I need your help. I want to persevere and be healthy so that I have energy to do the things you call me to. I believe your word were it says I am heir to the throne of heaven and therefore a princess, inside and out. Thank you for making me a wonderful work of your art.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Big Day

         Today began with breakfast with Busia& Grandpa. After a few morning chores, we were off for adventures. First stop: lunch was at the Rainforest Cafe. How much fun! Snakes, gators, gorillas, thunderstorms and yummy food! If you haven't tried this experience, I highly recommend it! The girls went into sensory overload almost immediately. Eventually they calmed down and were able to screw up their courage and look around at all the super neat things.
         Following lunch, we all headed to the Legoland Discovery Center. WOW! When you enter this place you are immediately treated to a mini land of downtown Chicago. All your favorite landmarks are there. The details are stunning. There was even a mini figurine of Batman on the Sear Tower. The Buckingham Fountain even lit up. It was so very cool. I could have spent hours searching out the myriad of Lego details. Then we explored the Jungle Expedition, Dragon Ride, Movie Theater (twice), and the Test Center. Love Bug and Bright One had a ball!
Bright One was very diligent in her building, testing, and subsequent destruction of Lego cars. In all it was a very tiring afternoon.
         We arrived home late. Grandpa grilled brats and hot dogs. We had a wonderful dinner, thanks to Busia & Grandpa. After our long, full day, we all pretty much crashed  WE gor the girls tucked in and that was the end of it. A big day and a blessed one!
         Observing my girls today, I noticed that what they perceived as reality caused serious fear. As the mechanical snake at Rainforest shifted and moved. Bright One panicked because she was sure it was coming after them. She was unable to separate between pretend and real. Sensory overload does this to us. We don't take time to process what we are seeing and the fear takes over. This is one of Satan's most effective tricks. Our perception becomes reality and we want to get away or hide from the "danger". God wants us to stop and look to Him for our reality. He desires that I trust Him in circumstances that I perceive as dangerous, just as a parent shows his child that it is just a machine, not a dangerous jungle snake.
          My prayer today is that we as parents would have the courage and patience to teach our children to see what God would have us see. Teaching them to be aware of the schemes the evil one creates to distract and overwhelm our senses. Dear Ones, Believe that God has so much more for us than we can see or imagine!




Lord God you are genuine, real, and excellent. Help me to teach my children to look for you and not to be distracted by the schemes of Satan. May You oh LORD be out reality every day

Monday, July 19, 2010

What state are we in?

        I have a love / hate relationship with the new fangled technology of the GPS. You see, I LOVE maps!! I love to find my own way from here to there. Of course even with a map it isn't all on my own, the map maker has a huge part in my navigational success. Certain people in my life have GPS units. Some insist on using it even if I know how to get where we are going. Some use it merely for back up. For example, when a large city's highway ramps are all under construction then the GPS is very helpful.  The Admiral delights in confusing his GPS - deciding on his route and letting the GPS play catch up. I do like to glance down and see the next landmark on the route. I think it is ok to have the confirmation of my own decision making. But I never want to rely on this technology completely, I want to have some say.
        On a recent trip, driving home from West Virginia, Bright One kept asking "Are we in our state yet?" Followed shortly by her sister saying "Why aren't we there yet?" Our precious children put their trust in us without any idea that we do really know where we are going. I am sure it must seem that we often get in the car and go with very little guidance. Therefore we get LOTS of questions. I love showing them the maps and how they guide us. They remind me how fortunate we are as Christians. Not only do we have the map, the Scriptures, we also have His Holy Spirit within us as a guide. A built in GPS if we choose to listen to it. We can start out on our journey with the confidence of children that HE will guide us unfailingly to our destination. If we decide to detour, He recalculates and sets back on a road that leads to the destination He picked out for us. Learning to rely on the Holy Spirit as our internal GPS is hard. I want to find the way. I want to figure it out and lead everyone else to the destination. I want the pats on the back for getting us there in a timely fashion. Hmmmmm not so trusting as I would desire to be. I want to argue because I don't see the whole picture. My knowledge of the map is incomplete. So I am quite sure I should go right but the Lord says straight ahead.  I think " Lord! There isn't even a road there!" He says gently, "Go there. Oh and Trust me." It is HARD.  When I trust Him I always benefit. But allowing myself to trust, seems to be a lesson I need taught again and again.
       
We need only to trust Him like our children trust us to know what state we are in.       

Monday, July 5, 2010

Home?


It is the 4th of July. We are visiting Grandma & Pap Pap in Pennsylvania. The weather is wonderful, warm, and breezy with little to no humidity. Wonderful things are happening! Pap pap took the girls on tractor rides yesterday after he and the Admiral moved several HUGE rocks for the neighbors' rock garden. The girls have spent the today helping Grandma prep flower beds and then planting them. Bright One pounded in the nails that had worked loose on the front walkway.
Tonight we are making camper's stew over the fire, corn on the cob, and strawberry shortcake, mmm! Lots of adventures to have. Fireworks tonight or tomorrow night... It is so hard to decide! Tomorrow we plan to get some lake time on Pap's boat. It has been busy vacation and yet I am relaxed and enjoying myself immensely.

       This place, Home. I haven't lived here for over 15 years. It is still home. I look out at a vivid landscape of more shades of green than you can count and feel a wistful contentment. We go for a drive and I sigh at the rolling beauty as we crest a ridge and look down the wide valley. So much has changed. So much hasn't. The grape vines are in a different place in the orchard, but there are still grape vines. Now my Dad has added blueberry bushes. Mom's asparagus patch has moved too. Friday I walked around with Dad as he shared his dreams for this place. I found it so enjoyable to listen and dream with him. I am so drawn to this place.
     
Yet when I think of my family's home, the house we have lived in since before the girls were born, that place is also home with sweet memories. I look forward to my return home. Sleeping in my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen where everything is where I think it should be, puttering around our space. I look forward to being back there.
      
      So which is really HOME? I guess they both are. In truth, I think that HOME exists in our minds and hearts more than in a place. Home is a state of thinking and being. My folks' place feels so calm and homey because when I am there I have no responsibility, per se. My own place is home because it is mine. I created it together with the Admiral. I have come to believe that home is the place where you are in God's will and being obedient. Even if the physical location is uncomfortable, the spiritual location is so much more important. I frequently argue with the Lord and tell Him with the way I think things should be. But when I bend to his will and choose to follow His leading, then and only then do I come HOME. The sense I have when I am at my parents' house is only a shadow of the feeling I have when I am walking in obedience to Him.



Lord, Guide me. Give me the bravery to choose you and be obedient to your will every day. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Berry Update

Last week my sister and her husband visited for a few days. It was great fun to hang out with them and I talked them into berry -picking with me. Actually it wasn't terribly difficult since my sis loves berries as much as I do. Wednesday we dropped Love Bug & Bright One off to VBS and headed north to a pick your own farm I knew of. Their strawberries were finished but we could pick black and red raspberries! Oh Goodness... The berries were not free but they were plentiful and big. Best of all.... NO 'SQUITOS! There was a breeze blowing and while I did get scratched up by the brambles i really didn't get many bites. Thank you Jesus!  My freezer is FULL of red and black raspberries! The pic shows what we picked on Wednesday and we went back on Thursday and picked some more. I am happy camper until the blueberries are ripe! Then we will go and pick some more!

Monday, June 28, 2010

My True Self

My true self....

What does that mean?!?!? I have been wrestling with this phrase. Why? you ask. Because I think I live behind a facade of what I think will impress, please, or generally appear "good" to those around me. I do not intentionally lie about who I am. I think everyone has a marketing imp in their mind who says " no! no! you aren't disorganized - you're creative"  and puts positive spin on life. Does this mean we lie to ourselves? Sometimes I think I do. Sometimes I think I believe the lies the evil one plants in my mind. Lies about my value, my worthiness, my abilities - lies to break down my confidence by zeroing in on my weaknesses and making them seem so much bigger than reality. Whatever the root of the lies they lead to my true self hiding again behind the wall praying that the people around me don't see that I am faking my way through.

But do I really live behind the facade or does the 'true self' stand forward and say "here I am"? I think we all do, to some extent, live in a way that hides what we view as our own imperfections. Looking back over the last months I find that I don't hide as much as I once did. In the past few month I have spent more time focused outward and less worrying about not being perfect or imperfect. Faking it? More like on the job training. News Flash.... I am imperfect!  I can only work to excel at what I am good at and improve where I am weak. A relative said to me a week or so ago" I wish you would stop saying you aren't patient with your kids! I cannot believe how patient you are! " I was shocked. Because I feel like I am frequently impatient and grumpy with my kids. But apparently others see it differently. I set my shoulders and said to myself..." I am going to stop being impatient with me." This is a viewpoint change for me. A moment where my true self stepped out from behind the curtain and stood tall.

The identity of 'my true self' came into question one Sunday in church as we sang a song about it (life - i presume) being all about God. As I sang God whispered "Do you mean it?" I stopped cold for a minute. "Do I mean it? mean what? Oh. The song... " After several seconds passed in which I drew a complete blank, I said " I am trying mean it, Lord."  Service went on and ended and we came home. I was studying later that day thinking on that moment. I keep thinking... Do I mean it? Is my life really all about God? About His will? His directive? His plan?.  Am I willing that my true self to be completely given over to God. That I may not worry about my imperfections because God will use them? Am I willing to tear down the facade, not just stand in front of it? Am I willing to face humiliation to be my true self? Am I willing to accept that my true self is not mine at all, but HIS.  Are you?

Daddy God - I want it to be all about you. I want my focus to be on you. Lord teach me to be me. Just me - not who I think I should be, but me working to grow into what you have planned for me.  Caite Girl

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NO! No! No! no! NO! no!

   Bright One is trying to define her role. Love Bug is always calling ALL the shots when they play make up games. Bright One wants to participate in the creation of the game so much. It causes a near constant tension between them. The tension thickens even more when Bright One decides "No, no, no! I'm not doing it your way!" Her sister gets frustrated and whines "I never get my way!" At which point I come unglued and send them to their respective corners with orders to do something NON- interactive.
    The truth is Love Bug usually does get her way, Bright is usually very compliant and they are both in the wrong. I remember being the rotten, selfish, big sister, always conniving to get my own way. I do not like the reflection of myself in my children. I wish I knew how to teach the gift of playing together with out controlling one another. It frustrates  me that I do not know how to instill an innate love of others that spills into play. What joy they could experience if they would loose that need to control every aspect of the game.
    But then again, is this season something that must also be endured? Do they need to go through this to grow them up into empathetic women, conscious of others? I don't know the answer, In the meantime I am praying that they find a way to play on equal footing, jointly designing the games.


Lord God, Give me wisdom to be a good Momma and the knowledge to guide these girls to grow up compassionate women!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Berries & 'Squitos

  I love berry season! I love the sweet, tangy, tart, bursts of flavor. Strawberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Black Raspberries, Blackberries - I love preserving the summery goodness to provide hiatus to the winter blahs. Berries in my freezer, like my own private pirate treasure, hidden away in the dark, awaiting the moment I decide to make shakes or smoothies or some other fruited treasure. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy! I revel in the bags of frozen goodness and containers of freezer jam.
   I do NOT like mosquitoes. One must brave the biting hordes if one desires to add black raspberries to ones treasure stash. Yesterday, I made my way with a friend to a black raspberry patch off the beaten path. After about 5 minutes I realized I had come to the battle unarmed as mosquitoes swarmed over us and made it difficult to even think about berries. We retreated to the van and ran back to the house for bug spray. Rinsing our selves off and quickly spraying down with bad smelling bug stuff. We went back to the berry patch and waded in. We picked doggedly for about 40 minutes, swatting each other as the pesky critters bit even through our clothes. It was better ... sort of. After many bites and several scratches I have approximately 1.5 cups of black raspberries. We conceded the battle but not the war. I am headed back today to see if perhaps I can come out victorious with enough precious tarts to save for winter. If not...I'll make a cobbler and call it good. I will again enter the fray in a week or so when the blueberries are ripe.

      I did a little better with the strawberries. I am thinking that perhaps I will try one more day to get some red goodness. Last week I obtained enough berries to make 14 pints of strawberry and 2 pints of triple berry freezer jam. Its wonderful flavor a bright and cheery note at breakfast or on ice cream. My sister is visiting perhaps I will shanghai her to help me. Of course this whole process is a labor of love... because once you pick the berries you must clean and process them as soon as possible so as to preserve as much as possible from rot. This is a whole day process then - the picking and preserving.  I love the process though it is tiring and I enjoy the products. The work is something so different from my daily life. It makes me stop and think and wonder at all the bounty God has given.

Lord, Thank you for your bounty and for the challenge to take time and enjoy the process. Thank you for a flash of summer in wintertime through the labors of today!  Caite girl