Monday, July 25, 2016

Baking Cookies

I texted my boys the day after the awful event and told them I didn't want them to go to work.  They knew I wasn't kidding. It has been over two weeks since the ambush of the Dallas police officers.  I found that tears would come at the oddest times, but with so many things going on and people around I never really let myself just break down.

All I wanted to do was to bake cookies for them, but I didn't even have time to do that.   The fact that they both live far away made even less sense that I would bake for them.  And why cookies when I wasn't always a cookie baker?  When they were growing up I would bake cakes and pies.  Cookies always seemed to take too long.  For whatever reason I wanted to bake cookies for my cop sons.

Maybe it was because cookies are associated with comfort and I wanted them to feel safe and sound.  I needed them to be safe and sound.  Their wives and sisters needed them to be safe and sound.  One sister had nightmares and another was so anxious she needed to be able to pray out loud, but had a room full of girl campers so she went to the bathroom and slid to the floor to be able to voice it to get rid of the fear that weighed heavy on her chest.

Last week I put a bag of snickerdoodles in the hands of one boy and a bag of chocolate chip in the hands of the other.  There were tears because we knew it was more than a bag of cookies.  It was the only thing I could do to make things better - except for prayer.

I don't pray for them out of fear.  I didn't really even have fear after the shootings, but there was a great sense of sadness.  I know they are where they are, doing what they do because it is God's will for them at this time.  I pray for their safety and for the opportunities they have to show Jesus to the ones they come in contact with.  They have stories of times that they have encouraged the ones that have made bad choices or needed a fresh start.

We shed tears this past week because things are not the same.  They have to be more aware of their surroundings and always on guard of what is going on around them.  They cherish the time with family because they don't know what the next day may hold.  They will keep doing what they are called to do and I have now become a baker of cookies.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Momma Rocks

She is a little girl.  She doesn't weigh enough to get the rocker to move so she looks up to me for help.  Her baby is swaddled tight and she holds it close and pats the back like she has seen other mommies do.  Her own clothes are not a whole lot bigger than the ones covering her little one.  She knows what a momma does.

A momma rocks.

The woman has raised her kids.  Sitting crisscross in the floor, she pulls the pillow hard against her chest as if she was trying to stop a bleeding heart.  Putting pressure on the hurt and the fear.  She buries her face muffling her sobs as she prays for her child who is wounded.  And she rocks. That's what a momma does.

The young lady has birthed two babies.  She is waiting for the nurse to bring her boy to hold for the first time.  When he was put into her arms the grief seemed to well up from her toes as she held this little one already breathing heaven.  I felt like an intruder in her grief, yet I had to stay so she would have something of her little one to hold when she left the hospital.  I watched as she looked at his hands and feet and touched his cheeks.  I heard as she whispered to him her sorrow.  Then she began to rock that precious bundle as moans came from deep within her.  Rocking and moaning.  Moaning and rocking.  Nothing was going to bring life back into his little eyes and the only way she could get comfort was to rock.  That's what a momma does.

A momma rocks.

Three times in seven days I watched this thing that seems to be instilled in us.  All three times it was a precious thing.  Two times it was heartbreaking but it didn't stop being precious.

God tells us in Hosea that He allures us to the wilderness and speaks tenderly to us.   He draws us to His heart and comforts us.  He gives us hope.  Isaiah 40:11 says that He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.  

Crawl right on up and and be gently held in His bosom.  He comforts so we can comfort.  He rocks so we can rock.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Isabella Grace

We got us another girl and she is beautiful!!  The way Adam and Cristin take care of her you would never know she was their first.  They have been comfortable since the beginning.  We feel extremely blessed!! 



Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dear Church Family,

Ten years ago we were at our family reunion and early Sunday morning I woke all the kids to make the trip for our first Sunday here.  When I woke up our little Robbie and told him we had to get ready to go to "Dad's new church",  he promptly told me that it wasn't Dad's church, it was God's church!  This little one who didn't know who Jesus was when he first came to our home spoke truth to this apprehensive soul.

We all walked in a little late which didn't help the inadequacy I felt for this job we were called to.

It was, and is only God's church and we are all blessed to serve together in this special place.

There have been articles I have seen on the internet about "What your Pastor (Pastor's Wife) Wish You Really Knew" and it made me a little sad.  Sure there have been times that I felt like the demands were too great, but in hindsight, I realize that they were never too great.  The times I felt like I was inconvenienced were clearly just times of selfishness on my part and for that I want you to know that I am sorry.  I never want you to think that your needs are not important enough to call.  I am only supposed to be an example of the servanthood of Jesus and I truly regret the times that I have not done that.

I also want you to know that I love you.  You are my family and my friends and I am forever grateful that God chose us for this place.  When you hurt, I hurt.  When you are happy, I am happy.  When I see spiritual growth in your lives I feel like I am the most blessed for the opportunity to watch that process in your life - knowing that all that really matters is what it will be like for you when you talk with Jesus that day.  I want it to be the sweetest for you.

Finally I want you to know that I thank you.  Thank you for welcoming our family into your lives and loving us like you have.  Thank you for trusting us with you most personal needs, knowing that we have nothing to offer but Jesus. Thank you for letting us walk with you through life and for walking with us.  Thank you for encouraging me to be more holy and to desire selflessness.  I don't want to let you down.

 So let's set our sights on Jesus and get started on the next 10 years.

I love you,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On Prayer

So this morning I got up, put on my socks and came to the living room to start the fire.  It is freezing in here.  I wanted to write for you sweet girls all the mechanics of prayer as soon as I finished my time with the Lord.  In the mornings I do a short devotional and leave the deeper study for later in the day (but not every day).

So I started the fire, then turned on praise music and got my glass of water.  I got a spoon out of the drawer to get a spoonful of almond butter (yum!) and noticed that the silver ware tray needed to be cleaned.  I started to get it out but saw the pile of dishes left over from feeding the girls and their friends last night.  A quick thought that I could knock those dishes out in no time popped right into my head.

The enemy.  Already trying to keep me from the important thing. Will I ever get mature enough to not be distracted by the enemy? Sheesh.

So I came back in here and did my Bible reading (dishes still all over the cabinet, tray still in the drawer) and then pulled the blanket over my head and started praying. The prayer this morning was how to share with you about prayer life.  At least this prayer was.  The prayer around 1:30 am was for someone else and the prayer around
4:00 am was for something else.

When I was in high school I learned about the mechanics of prayer.  They taught us ACTS.  Adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.  That is all great and I used that a lot at the time.  If I ever got distracted I would do some of them twice. Or three times.  I am easily distracted.

I was also encouraged at one time to write down my prayers.  I came across a journal of prayers from when the older kids were little.  Almost every prayer was confessing my impatience and unkindness and then asking for patience and kindness.  Almost every one.

There are a lot of books written on prayer, but I think Jesus nailed it.  Winky face.  The thing is, I know you all know all those things.  Example:  recognize Him as the one true God, praise His holiness, pray for the return of His kingdom, ask for daily provision, etc.  I know Who He is and His holiness - that is why I go to Him.  He is the ONLY answer.

Sometimes when I lay over in this big chair and pull the blanket over my head, I say nothing.  I feel like I am in the closet and I am just here.  He is too.  That is the beauty of the life of prayer.  It IS your life.   Whether you talk or sing or scream.  Or be quiet.

It looks different for me all of the time.  So many times I could tell you about when the Lord Himself put prayer into my heart to shoot right back at Him.  For six weeks before Steve got sick I prayed the same thing for him at the same time every morning.  It wasn't a prayer I read about anywhere, it just came to my heart.  No alarm was set.  The Lord woke me up because I had work to do even though I didn't know what work I was doing at the time.  A few days after his diagnosis, he told me what God was showing him and it was almost word for word what I had been praying.  It was at that moment, I knew the faithfulness of God.

Honestly girls, if you have a heart that draws near to Him,  He will show you exactly how to pray.  Many may disagree, but that is my testimony and I am sticking to it!

I love to pray scripture over us.  There is a book I had quite a while back called Praying Scriptures for your Children.  I will find out the author and get you that info.  It helped me so much to get the practice of that in my life and has continued on all of these years.

There were times, when I felt like I was in a battle for one of my kids, that I would walk and speak those scriptures out loud to the Lord.  More than one time I was so desperate I would yell it out loud to the Lord, claiming my kid back into His presence.  It wasn't long after that there was brokenness in that child.  Beautiful God.

Those times I was like the persistent widow in Luke 18.  I may have been able to pray once and leave it with Him, but most times I just kept on,  just like my kids do me until I get it done.

When you pray the scriptures, you know you are praying His will.  Ultimately that is the only thing we want.

When I was thinking about writing these things to you, I thought about how I don't pray enough.  Yet pray all of the time.  I read a quote by Brother Lawrence that pretty much nailed it for me.

"The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer.    And in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees."

Can I tell you that when I read this, I cried?  And then again as I just typed it?  Because it is true.  When I draw near to God, He and I are in constant communication.  In the middle of the night, in my closet time in the morning, while I am driving down the road.  I don't have to wonder which part of ACTS I am doing.   Or if I got the S before the C.

He and I - we just ARE.

He is faithful enough to give you the prayer you need to pray whenever, wherever that may be.

I have to admit I went to my knees in Walmart once, overwhelmed by His grace.  I didn't have to get on my knees to know the truth of the situation, but everything in my being wouldn't let me stand up.  I have had to pull over on the side of the road.  I walk.  I lay across the chairs in church.  I lay on the floor.  I do dishes.  Songs come on and I pray the words for the one the Lord lays on my heart.

One  of my most desperate praying times came while we were painting the girls' rooms.  Situations were dire, but life was happening and my heart cried with every roll of the brush.

So in all of this randomness, maybe there really aren't mechanics to our prayer.  We have the guide, but I honestly believe the more you love Him, the closer your heart draws to Him, the more powerful your prayer life will be.

And now.  Now even as I write this to you, I weep for you as I see each of your faces and pray that you draw near.  That is the only way.  Your desire for Him has to be priority.  Then your conversation with Him becomes non-stop, even when no words are spoken.

That is how good He is.

Gosh, I sure love you girls.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Four Hundred Forty Four Sundays

Eight and a half years ago our family walked into the church here to begin ministry.  Actually, only Michael walked in because he drove in the night before.  The rest of us hustled in the next morning because we were late - driving in from family reunion at the lake.  Jade was a part of the family then and we had Robby with us.  We began loving the people of this Czech community that day as a family.

After the big kids went home, it was just us.  A Daddy, a Momma and three little girls.  Hannah and Leah were ten and Rachel was nine.  They jumped into this place as if it was their very own.

They love it as if they were called separately by the Lord.  They care when people are sick, cry when they die, and celebrate when they come to Jesus.

It has never just been just Michael's ministry.  It has always been family.  In November we added Hugh to help with this work.  Such a sweet blessing.

Today is Rachel's last Sunday.  It has been four hundred and forty four Sundays since that first one in hot July 2005.

It hit me just a little bit ago when I was walking back into the church.  This will not be where I find her when she isn't at home or playing ultimate frisbee somewhere.  She won't be here anymore except to visit.

Her ministry will never be over here, but next Sunday she will walk through the doors of another place to worship.  Another place to serve.  We stop counting the Sundays here and start counting somewhere else.

Go with much grace and blessing, Rachie.  We love you and we are so proud of your desire to be right where God wants you to be.

Next week you can start counting anew.

Happy number one.