Today I'm praying for/about:

Today, (in no particular order) I'm praying for...
- Fresh ideas, inspiration and diligence to post regularly again

- My dad fighting mesothelioma too far away for me to hug him

- Children, parents, and teachers everywhere preparing to return to school

- My single friends as they seek God for His guidance in relationships

- Broken relationships; for grace to abound where grace has been withheld

- You; I'm praying for every single person who views this blog.

Thank you for standing in agreement with me for these precious souls!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Confession time...  (I have a LOT of these)

I know that I need to read my bible every day so I can get a dose of God BUT on a daily basis, I struggle to know where to open up the Good Book.  By that I don't mean out on the patio or at the kitchen table but rather what book, what chapter.  So, I often just use one of the most simple study tools I've ever found.  Our Daily Bread.  So handy!!  They even have an iphone app so even if I forgot in the morning, if I find a quiet moment (which are albeit mythical in my life!) then I can open it up, read the devo, and it even auto links to Biblegateway for the reference and reading plan passages.  How easy is that??  And yet, I STILL struggle to make it happen daily.

That said, I actually did it the last couple days and was hit hard by the final line of the reading plan passage (which, for yesterday, was Romans 14).  That portion of scripture is basically addressing liberty versus legalism where food (at least as an example) is concerned and being considerate of each other in those respects.  It's one of those passages where I was reading along, minding my own biz, and not really getting much out of it.  Until I read these words:  "... and everything that does not come from faith is sin." (Romans 14:23b)

Now, I realize that we have to be careful not to take portions of scripture out of their context, and, in this particular context, as I said, dietary restrictions/liberties were the topic.  However, food arguments aside, this strikes me as a statement that can (should?) be applied to, well, as it says, everything.  Everything.  Every.  Thing.  

Everything that does not come from faith is sin.  Everything Lord?  Really, really?  


As I mediated on that thought I remembered 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ironically, also about dietary arguments) which says "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."  

"Whatever you do"

"Whatever" equals "Everything".

So...  God...  When you say "whatever I do" and "everything"... you mean, like, when it comes to all the major stuff in my life, right?  Not like, the little stuff, like, entertainment choices, how much time I spend online, the jokes I tell, how I spend my time beyond church and my quiet time, right??  Oh... you really meant everything...  Hmmm.  Ok.

Now, I sure hope I'm not seen as a "Sunday morning Christian" who lives in a way that I have to actually tell people outside church that I'm a Christian or else they'd never know.  I try to find ways to bless others, make a loving impact on most people I encounter, serve where I have the capacity, make entertainment choices that are not detrimental to my spirit, I listen to Christian music almost exclusively anymore, and I spend a lot of time chitchatting with God through any given day.  However, I also spend too much time on the web that could be better spent serving my family, I sometimes indulge in "the bread of idleness" in my struggle with laziness, I often find reasons to ignore the still, small voice that says "a trip to the gym would make you feel great!", and my biggest struggle, how I talk to my kids, mostly my oldest son.  I don't honor my husband the way I should in my prayer life or the way I talk to him sometimes.  I exceed the speed limit by about 5 mph over quite often.  You may have noticed above where I stated that I try to "make a loving impact on most people I encounter"... yup, I said "most"...  I have even gone through the "10 items or less" checkout with 12 items before!  I know, I'm quite the rebel but conviction is conviction.  

We silly, fallible, mortals have a propensity to "categorize" sin into degrees of depravity.  I'm sure many will roll their eyes at my 5mph lead foot but the point is not that I'm only a little over the limit and still within safe operating parameters of my vehicle and physical reaction time, I'm still breaking the law.  And, since the Word says we are to obey those in authority and the laws of our land, then I am in sin.  And, even worse, I'm doing it knowingly, willfully.  It's not a question of the degree of any given sin issue, it's a question of will versus conviction.  If the still, small voice tells me that a 5-Hour Energy is unhealthy and I need to quit having them but I ignore it, I'm choosing willful defiance to what I know is a hint of the Holy.  If the Spirit tells me I need to back away, take a time-out, catch my breath, and calm down, but instead I choose to lose my shekinah all over my son, I am in sin.  

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not about to run around making sure everyone else is minding their diet, watching their tone with their kids, or try and police other drivers to follow traffic laws (though I won't lie... THAT desire pops up OFTEN!), I'm just pointing out what God spoke to me yesterday morning with those few little words that basically said "Being mostly devoted is still not devoted".  I'm also having one of those daunting moments of realization that, until I take my last breath, no matter how many sin issues I surrender to God, there will always be one more.  That can either be a very daunting, discouraging thought, or, it can be humbling, and I can allow it to drive me, time after time, day after day, moment after moment, back into the grace shadow of my Glorious Savior.

This all makes me think of a talk I was having with my son one day.  I told him that partial obedience is actually disobedience.  It is, alas, the same with us and I think that's what the passage in Romans is telling me.  A seating at a sporting event or concert ins't "sold out" until every seat is filled, likewise, I cannot consider myself "sold out" to Him if there's any area of my heart where He isn't present.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sand people

Nope... Not that kind... (I live with a Star Wars fan, what can I say!)

Not that kind either...

Wrong again...

I'm talking about the people who come into your life that are less than... enjoyable.  The ones who make your eye twitch.  The ones who "rub you the wrong way"... like sand paper.  They are rough, abrasive, and make things uncomfortable.  But, while being sanded is uncomfortable, it is necessary.  These are the people God uses, if we let Him, to smooth out our own rough edges.  Every now and again, God even sends a chisel to take care of larger impurities in our character.

Maturity begins to happen when we can learn to appreciate the sand people.  When we can thank God for them.  When we can love them.  Not just tolerate.  Not just put up with.  Not just endure.  Really love.

Does this mean you need to be best pals?  No.  Does this mean that if someone has knowingly hurt you more than twice (indicative of a behavior pattern) that you need to keep coming back for more?  No.  It means that you can kneel before God's throne and intercede for them with a genuine heart.  It means that you can give them a genuine smile on a Sunday morning.... or any other morning...

It also means we need to come to a realization that we are also someone else's sandpaper.  We're all sand people.  As such, if we want to be forgiven for rubbing someone the wrong way, even to the point of raw, then we need to forgive those who scrape us.  The best way to make the world more compassionate, more forgiving, less abrasive, less rough, is to become that very thing.  Pointing a finger will seldom produce conviction at the other end; setting the example, however, often will.

We also need to focus not in the now, on the slow, grinding, nagging pain, but rather, on what it will turn us into.  Something smooth, beautiful, like a hand-carved bannister in a historic home; smoothed and polished by generations of hands, some loving, some calloused, but all taking part in the refining and the creation of an heirloom.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I likewise think of the natural, organic masterpieces of driftwood sculpted by waves, storms, stones, sand, salt, wind, and sun (Son?) that can be found along the countless miles of pebbled beaches of the Puget Sound.  You may find a keepsake walking stick, fuel for a memorable beach fire, make-believe weapons for mini warriors, a fishing pole, or, for local artisans, even large pieces that become notable works of art, furniture, jewelry, and decor.

I know I'm smoother than I ever used to be but I'm so far from polished, refined, or beautiful.  However, I long to eventually be so.  How easy it is to forget that prayer and to grumble about the process.  May God help us all to stay focused on the goal so we can submit to the sanding and may we become thankful for those He uses to do so.

"In all 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 the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—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 end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."  I Peter 1:6-9

Fit to Be Tied

Well, here we are all the way into August... of 2013...  Does that baffle anyone else??  I'm not feeling ready for our second year of homeschooling.  To be honest, some of the struggles we dealt with still linger from last year with no solutions yet obvious.    I'm daunted but my husband is being wonderful and supportive so that is helping quell some of my anxiety.  And, on the flip-side, I'm excited about some new (to us) materials and curriculum we're going to try out this year.    How about you?  Whether public, private or homeschool, what are you most excited and anxious about heading into the new school year?

In honor of back to school, this post won't be so much inspirational, but hopefully, helpful in a practical way.  For those with kids who still do not know how to tie their shoes but who have seen a noticeable price difference for shoes with velcro, this post is for you!  Buying shoes for three or four little boys requires that I save the pennies everywhere I can which meant laced shoes instead of velcro.  I knew this would NOT be helpful to their teachers or me so I had to brainstorm a solution.  (Shoe shopping may be in our weekend plans and thankfully, two of my four boys now know how to tie their own shoes!)

So, without further ado...  one solution to laced shoes for kids who can't tie:

Take the laces completely out and tie a single knot in the very center of the lace.  Repeat two more times on either side of the knot so there are five knots centered in the lace.  (Depending on your child's shoe, you may have to modify this to four knots OR may be able to fit a sixth knot in there)

Lace the shoes as normal with the knots going across between the first two holes (see below).

Once the shoes are laced you will have shorter ends sticking out.  Taking one cord stop bead (I found them in two-packs at my local Joann, they look like the ones in the picture but any style similar will work) criss-cross the laces (one in each direction) through the center of the cord stop bead while pinching it.  

Once the laces are through the bead, tie a figure-8 knot in each end of the laces to keep them from getting back out of the bead. 
Now you're done!  Almost any child should now be able to loosen his or her shoes by pinching the bead and pulling it to the knots then tighten them again by pulling on the knots.  If the laces are still too long at this point, you can always cut them just a little shorter, tie a knot in the ends, then gently melt the frayed bits with a lighter or candle.  

I hope this helps with busy mornings or busy teachers and I pray the new school year is a blessing for you and your kids!