Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"You are What You ....... Wear?"

Summer is upon us. Flip flops, sunscreen, BBQ's ..... we're especially excited about fresh strawberries in our garden around here! But the change of seasons also usually brings a change in wardrobe.

Now I realize that no matter what a girl/woman is wearing it's a guy's responsibility to look the other way and not lust. I GET THAT. I'm raising three SONS. Trust me, that is not new news to me.

I remember walking through a mall when my boys were all young. I had done lots of reading on the topic of raising sons and wondered how it would all play out. Never will I forget the day we were walking along and I noticed one of my sons immediately turn his head to the side {away} as we passed the "VS" store. I had NEVER said a word to him to do so. That was very eye-opening to me, as a mom of three young boys. He wasn't used to seeing TV shows with scantily clad women and for him it was natural to turn away when you saw women wearing only their underwear.

So, again, I GET what the guy's role should be.

Moving on. I want to speak to young women a moment.

If you were to walk past a young man with a freshly baked pie and it's scent was permeating the air .... do you really think a guy wouldn't notice? HELLO???!!!! We all know how guys love to eat! :)

Or what about standing around him displaying a grilled-to-perfection rib-eye steak? Do you really expect him to somehow pretend he doesn't notice what you have on the platter? How silly would he look if he turned the other way?

Or what if you drove up in a Brand new Challenger? Most guys I know are gonna notice. God created them that way. They are visual! If you need convinced, do a google search and see the research for yourself.

Now I'm not debating a strict list of do's and don't s. This isn't a skirt vs. pants post. That being said .... ladies {of all ages} our low cut tops and skin-tight-shorts can really cause our brothers to stumble. Can I just say that there are many incredible guys out there that don't desire to see the cleavage of every young woman that walks by? They are saving their eyes for their future bride!

We need to really examine our hearts as we choose what clothes belong in our closet. We can ask a few simple questions to help determine what might be a good choice.

  • Is what I'm wearing distracting/attention-getting?
  • What's the first thing someone would notice about me, if my tank top is barely covering my cleavage/skin tight or my face?
  • Do my pants look like they would have to be peeled off of me or do I have a bit of room to breathe?
  • Is it my desire for all the guys (both young and old) to see each and every form-fitted curve on my body?, or do I want to save that for my husband?
  • My top might be covering me when I stand still in front of a mirror, but what happens when I bend over {which happens regularly as we go about our day}?
  • What about my skirt length? What does it look like in front a mirror while I'm sitting with my legs crossed?
I'll be the first to admit that it can be challenging to find nice clothes with some of today's trendy fashions. However, I'm convinced that if we truly want to do that, God will provide some options! It might help by skipping over most of the offerings in the "junior" section. It can be challenging enough to sort through the things in the misses section! :)

All the great guys that I know would much rather just enjoy hanging out with their 'girl' friends and enjoy being together instead of having to continually focus on keeping their eyes away from the 'platter', so to speak.

Romans 14:21 "It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything
that causes your brother to stumble."

In reality, our dress does really reflect who we are, what we represent and where our heart is.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I Miss Him

Random things I know to be true:

I miss him.
Grief comes in waves and also has layers.
We grieve for things we had with our loved ones.
We grieve for things we never had.
One day I will find it in me to erase his number from my phone.
He would be so proud of my oldest graduating and would have parked his truck to be there.
I never dreamed I would bury my father this school year, while having both a senior and a kindergartner as well.
There will never be answers to so many questions that I have.
He would be so proud of his wife for persevering ... one small step at a time.
He always chose to listen to what others said, even if he didn't agree or understand.
Nothing I am going through takes God by surprise.
The message of honor he gave to me on my back porch will be treasured deep in my heart ... forever.
Our time here together in IL was truly a gift from the Lord.
It is ok if my girls see me cry sometimes, for they must also learn what it means to grieve.
My Heavenly Father knows every detail and is completely able to meet all of my needs.
I miss his smile, his laugh, his wit, his determination, his hugs, his honesty ...... I miss him.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Every Good and Perfect Gift is From Above

James 1:17
good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

At a time in my life when my whole world was crashing in around me, the Lord ... in His great, tender mercy ... blessed me with the gift of my first son. It was during that season in my life that God took me from knowing "about" Him .... to KNOWING HIM. I learned that no matter what happened in my life ... no matter what others did to me ... no matter what circumstances I faced ... that I had a Heavenly Father who LOVED me. I had a Father who KNEW me so intimately and CARED for me so deeply. I discovered that I would NEVER walk alone, even if the journey I was on was a difficult one.

Little did I know that the gift of my first born was only the beginning. God had so much to bless me with. I was so undeserving, yet He poured out so much blessing on my life. He brought people into my life to help me grow. He revealed His Word to me and filled my mind with truth.

Has life with Him been perfect? Absolutely NOT! Yet it has been RICH and full of abounding JOY and HEALING. The Christian walk is not to be without trials and tribulations. It's during those times we often come most intimately acquainted with our Father. And I can tell you ... that no matter what you walk through, He promises to walk beside you.

My firstborn turns 18 tomorrow. He has been an absolute JOY to me. I wrote about him HERE at "Seasons Change".

He made it in to that Bible college I wrote about last fall. In two weeks he graduates. He'll be leaving the nest soon. He's ready.

I'll never get over the incredible GIFT he has been to me. I'll never forget the nurse coming in to tell me I wasn't suffering from "nerves", because of my life circumstances. I'll never question God's ability to provide.

What about you? Are you walking through a dark time? Are you consumed with life's circumstances? Do you know the difference between knowing "about" God and KNOWING the Father?

We've all messed up and fallen short of the glory of God. Perfection is not what allows you to have fellowship with the Lord. Following a list of "right and wrongs" is not the way to heaven.

As thankful as I am for my firstborn son and the AMAZING gift he has been to me ..... even more so am I thankful for the GIFT of LIFE the Lord has given to me. Eternal life. When the cares of this world weigh me down I am reminded that this is not my eternal home. There is so much more that I eagerly wait for. But, until that day I want to do all I can to be faithful to Him here.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Heart Trusts in HIM

Psalm 28:7

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.

My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

I want so much for Psalm 28:7 to be true in my life... every day. Many days it is not. I waste precious time stewing and fretting. I get entangled in restlessness. I fall into the temptation to worry.

There have been times in my life that all was so dark and hopeless that the only thing I COULD do was live out Psalm 28:7. In those times, I truly learned what it meant for "my heart to trust in Him".

What about you? What are you needing to trust the Lord for? Do you have worries and cares that keep you up at night?

The good news is that we have a Heavenly Father who KNOWS. And CARES. Isn't that a great place to rest our hearts? We can trust Him even with those areas of our lives that no one else knows about.

This last school year has been the craziest one yet. I think. ;) Our next to youngest started Kindergarten. Our 3rd son down turned 13 (which made for THREE teens in the house now). Our middle son is working on his driver's permit/license process and just turned 16. Our oldest is finishing high school and is headed off to COLLEGE. I buried my father (and my grandfather 10 days before that). We've learned to care about widows on a whole new level.

Psalm 28:7 DOESN'T say that "all will be well and calm and good and easy"!!!! The Bible isn't a bunch of "feel good" words. Instead it is full of TRUTH. And HOPE. And PRAISE.

Lord, you are my strength and my shield; my hearts trusts in YOU, and I am helped.

My heart leaps for JOY and I will give thanks to YOU in song.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Remembering and Giving Him Praise

Last year at this time I posted about "Paint chips, Puffs & Praise" over here. I'm amazed at how that seems like such a long time ago in some ways. God has poured out so much healing in our lives. It's so good to go back and REMEMBER. Remembering all the times of God's faithfulness builds out faith for the current issues we face. My heart fills up with PRAISE as I think about how faithful and good the Lord has been to our family. As we prepare for our oldest son's graduation it's good to pause and think of all the things the Lord has brought us through. Just a year ago life seemed pretty rough and ragged. While we're still recovering financially from the losses surrounding our life in ND, we have many rich blessings to praise Him for!!! Below is the entry of just one year ago. Be encouraged, if you are facing your own trials. You never know what God is in the process of doing ... and how much things might change in just one year.

(Originally written May, 2011)

Finally the rain stopped awhile so I could get back to scraping the paint off the porch on this big 'ole house we're trying to make home. The children were all busy playing out back and it allowed just enough time for the flood gates to open once again. Something about working on this house reminded me of "the other house" that we still are waiting on closure for. Perhaps it was remembering all the long, hard months we worked on "the other house" to make into home ... knowing how it seemed to be all in vain now, that really hit deep once again. If I allowed myself I could believe any one of the crazy lies that flash through my head on a given day.

As I willed my mind to think on truth I went back to recount all the times I could think of in the past few years that God has shown Himself sooooo faithful. Quickly the Lord brought to mind waiting in a surgery prep room as I signed papers for a procedure that was so against everything I wanted. Doing so gave us a fighting chance on escaping a full-blown illness of cancer. I remembered how I had wrestled through the journey and how God has shown Himself as the God of all Comfort to me. Even when I felt so empty, He was there. He would NEVER ask me to face something without Him. By His precious grace we'd later have the privilege of bringing home TWO orphans.

While I kept scraping the porch and wiping the tears with Puffs, my mind traveled to another hospital room. This time it was when God spared my amazing middle son's life from a deadly sledding accident. I don't know HOW many times the doctors told us in that week stay just "how close" he was and all the "ifs". But instead this guy now towers over me and is so solidly standing on a firm foundation with a heart for many to know the Lord. Oh what PRAISE fills my heart.

That memory of course brought me to a more recent "close call" with my oldest, which you can read about here. Again, God spared that son's life. Lord, your MERCY is more than I can even comprehend.

Many of you have faced your own hardships.
  • Trusting God for finances for your adoption.
  • A medical diagnosis.
  • The indescribable loss of a loved one.
  • A lost job during the crumbling economy.
  • The fear of the unknown.
  • A broken marriage, by a spouse who got up and walked away.
  • The loss of a dream.
No matter what we face there is someONE there if we will choose to look to Him. We have to choose to look to Him though. He never forces Himself on us. He not only knows our name and the number of hairs on our head, but He knows every detail of what we're going through. He even knows the things we can't voice out loud.


3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion
and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those
in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

HELLO!!! .... there is PURPOSE in what He allows in our lives.

5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ
our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation;
if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance
of the same sufferings we suffer.
7And our hope for you is FIRM, because we KNOW that just as you share in our sufferings,
so ALSO you share in our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7

I deserve NOTHING, yet He cares enough about me to SHARE in everything going on in my life!

I continued scraping all that paint away, leaving a trail of wet Puffs behind me. I must choose to REST in HIM knowing that all the chapters of our story have not been written yet. It is NOT up to me to make that house sell. It is NOT up to me what the future brings. It IS up to me to TRUST HIM, to WALK WITH HIM, to LOOK TO HIM.

God isn't "good" because the house sold. GOD IS GOOD because He's THERE on the front porch in the midst of paint chips, wet Puffs and a host of unknowns. HE is the very REASON there is PRAISE.

Maybe you're in the midst of your own storm. He knows every tear you've shed. HE wants to be your comfort.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Journey to College

While in the kitchen the other day, I looked up and saw my son coming down the drive. No, he hasn't gone off to join the Beverly Hillbilly family. But he IS headed somewhere. :) College. January of this last year brought the wonderful news that our oldest had been accept to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. Our boys have always known that they are responsible for their further education (whether that be college, trade school, career). They have each grown up with a strong work ethic and realized at a young age that everything wasn't going to be handed to them on a silver platter in real life.

Our son's acceptance to MBI was such a huge praise. Even as we rejoiced with him though, I must admit part of my heart sunk wondering how in the world he would raise the needed funds. He already takes care of most all of his personal expenses (vehicle, car insurance, phone, extras, etc.). That has just been a way of life for our family. I've been amazed as I watch everything play out.

I've seen a young man not be defeated. I've witnessed his determination to do whatever it takes to meet his goals. I can't help but think back to where so much of this was learned.

Here is the same young man ( top right, age 11) just after the long journey of helping to bring his first sister home. When we would grow weary of all the fund-raising and faith-climbing, it was often our oldest who would encourage us to press on. He would testify that His God is big enough to meet all of our needs.

Then two years later we began yet an even greater mountain-size journey to bring home this sweet girl. Again, our oldest never questioned or complained of what it would take. He and his brothers cared far more about children that didn't have a family than they did about their own desires.

Some people question things like college funds, vacation funds, entertainment funds when a family considers adoption. There are some that would go so far as thinking parents somehow "owe" their children a fully-funded college education. I'm so glad we didn't buy into that kind of theology. Our family would have missed out on such incredible blessings that $ cannot buy.

I have no doubt my oldest is ready to graduate and begin this next chapter of his life out in the "real world". We all have big adjustments ahead. I'm gonna have two very sad little girls when their big brother heads off for Chicago! :)

Who knows what else I'll see out my kitchen window this summer as he works his way to college. I hear he has a few more loads of scrap metal left to deliver. Each day it seems the mail man is bringing packages that he is buying/selling online. He has quite a business going. Throw in mowing jobs and working for our family's handyman business and I have no doubt he's gonna make it.

Perhaps you're a family who is considering adoption, but you are stuck in the mindset of "everything-parents-owe-their-kids-for-a-proper-upbringing" theology and you just don't see how you can do it financially. I challenge you to study God's theology about the fatherless. I promise you that your children will gain such richness as they learn about and live out what really matters in light of eternity.