Friday, September 28, 2007

Northwest Living

I recently was sent a funny through the email. It was a 'You know you live in the Northwest' thing from Jeff Foxworthy. No, Jeff did not send it to get the picture.

Anyway, one of the top ten was 'If you can order coffee at least 10 different ways'. Who knew this was skill, a talent even? I have a friend from Texas, she has lived here for 4 years but still insists she is a Texan (the girl needs to bloom where she has been planted). She thinks you either order coffee black or with cream and sugar. I have to order for her here. But I digress. This Texas woman thinks we are all coffee snobs. Coffee Snobs? Just because I like a grande white chocolate mocha iced non fat no whip? Just because I like my Black Tea Lemonade? Just because I like a little Blended Carmel Latte? Just because I know all the Starbucks employees at my favorite one (there are 3 in my town) by name? Just because my kids know the difference between a Dutch Bros. and Starbucks?

OK maybe we are snobs after all. But it doesn't get much better than sharing a coffee and a molasses cookie with my Wednesday Night Coffee Girls. I look forward to it all week. It is a group of about 15 women. We are not all there at the same time, but each week some of us are there. The Starbucks empoyees call us their 'Church Ladies'. I love that! We talk about what the Lord is teaching us, what are kids are doing, and sometimes what we are struggling with our how we are really blowing it. We lift eachother up and encourage one another to press on. We come from all different walks of life and different places too. We are not all like minded. Often sometimes the only thing I think we have in common is our love of Jesus. But that is good. God uses these women to challenge me and cause me to search for myself.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Building Cathedrals

I found this at Unmistakable Imprint. Danni's mom was an amazing source of encouragement and guidance for me as a young mom and new Christian. Now Danni inspires me as I read her blog. Enjoy!

My Cathedrals

I'm invisible. It all began to make sense - the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone or cooking or sweeping the floor or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . My friend had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Danielle, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Danielle. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You a re building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become." At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there." As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

There is a song on the new Casting Crowns CD that has been permeating in my head for the past week. It is called 'Somewhere in the Middle.
These lyrics in particular have me thinking...

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle

Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves
Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me

This is so where I spend much of my time. Striving for complete surrender without losing all control. Those two things cannot happen together.

Reckless abandon but I fight within myself trying to make worldly sense of what God is up to.

Fearless warriors inside a picket fence. I love the picture this paints inside my head. I imagine Braveheart warriors staying behind the safety of a picket fence. Which means they really are not fearless warriors at all.

Will I trade my dreams for His, or am I stuck in the middle? Do you know what middle means to me in this song? Luke warm. Wanting the benefit God offers without the sacrifices He demands.

I wonder if I will ever really learn the lessons God has taught me enough to make it out the door and impact my little part of the world that He has in trusted me to or if I will always be battling Him for control and safety.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Challenging thoughts

Apparently God is still has some work to do on me.

Sunday night I met an amazing woman at Awana. She and her husband are getting ready to go to Ethiopia at the end of the month and adopt 4 children that will bring their number to 11. 11 kids. Wow! She told me of the work God had done in her heart. How when she had 5 kids and was completely overwhelmed and thought God was done working adoption in their family God asked more of them.

God really challenged me as I listened to her story. Had I told God 'no'. We participated once in adoption, but not again? Yeah, I did that. Not that I sense God moving us to adopt again, I think the point is I need to ask where have I told God 'no'. Are there things I just don't want to do? For whatever reason. Laziness? We already have participated in a work with Him? I don't want to look any stranger than we already do? I am sure the list could go on. God is so good to show me I still have so much work to be done in my life. I am so grateful for His patience in me and continuing to work in my heart and not leaving me to my own. I think now is a good time for me to revisit the book Surrender by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet this beautiful family and I look forward to meeting their new children. Here is a link for you: No More Counting the Cost

Friday, September 7, 2007

Simply Complicated

I picked up a new magazine at the grocery store the other day. It is called
Homegrown Hospitality
and it is very cute and full of clever homemaking ideas for family and friends.

The editor of the magazine calls her life 'Simply Complicated'. I love that. It so describes how I live.

For example...
I am a mom - simple
I have 5 kids - complicated

I homeschool - simple
again, 4 kids of different ages, learning styles and abilities - complicated

I go to church - simple
My husband is on staff - complicated

I have friends - simple
We are not all like minded - complicated

The list goes on and on... but what I realize is that what makes my life complicated is relationships. I get so caught up in wanting to check things off my to-do list. To be able to accomplish what I need to in a timely manner. But the relationships in my life interrupt that. Some days barely anything gets checked off and it is all because of people interruptions.

And I think that is exactly how God has planned it. God allows the people in my life to interrupt me to keep me on His track, not mine. The relationships remind me to think of and serve others first. Sometimes only because they demand to be dealt with immediately. If they did not demand my attention I would and could easily put them off til a more convenient for me time. So I am thankful for people interruptions in my life for without them I would be more selfish with my time and self centered in my actions than I already am. Oh, goodness...that would be ugly.

Gotta go...I am being interrupted. ;o)