Archive for March, 2010

Face to Face

Good morning to the greatest moms in the world! If you are like me, and I know you are, your spring had sprung like a tightly wound jack-in-the-box and a crazy little clown seems to be mocking your busyness. Today, I’m going to describe my day last Thursday because I know many of you out there will totally relate to my every step.

My day started early as I always take the willing middle schoolers in our neighborhood to school early for the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) meeting. This actually means that my day starts rather quietly as you can imagine the ride with four sleepy middle schoolers. My van is pretty much an extension of their beds for the thirty minute ride to school, so I calmly listen to music and wait for anything audible to come from one of them. I’m a firm believer in the power of car-talk among teens. It can be very enlightening, but it’s a little like fishing—wait, wait, be patient, wait and boom—you land one. Usually, early morning is more waiting than landing, but one can always hope.

After I dropped the kids off, I headed to Wal-Mart, where early in the morning or late at night makes for the best shopping experience. No lines, no screaming children, and a better chance of getting a buggy that doesn’t veer to the right. Next on my schedule was tennis. My oldest daughter and I play in a league on Thursday mornings which gives us an opportunity to talk uninterrupted by children. True, the game of tennis is a little distracting to our conversation, but nothing compared to kids saying “mama” a thousand times, so we manage to catch-up between points.

As soon as the last point was played, I headed off to Sam’s for the bigger items I needed for three upcoming Easter parties. Now, I have to tell you, I don’t think I’m in good enough shape to shop at Sam’s anymore. I’m just saying, there isn’t an item in that store that weighs less than thirty pounds. J By the time I loaded my buggy, then loaded my car for the ride home, then unloaded my car at the house, I was DONE! I’m so not kidding! I was thinking I saw some older folks (older than me) in Sam’s that day and I have no idea what they could have bought. Maybe bread—that was the lightest thing I bought. Seriously! Bread and, maybe, a plant. But, even those were massive.

Usually, the next few hours are spent working, but that day my work time was spent at Sam’s so by the time I got home and unloaded, I only had an hour for work. I got a few things done on my computer before I hit the road to watch my two oldest grandkids at their track meet in another town thirty minutes away. I love track which means getting assigned this job by my daughter was right up my alley. The bad news for that day was it was freezing cold and windy. I basically shivered through one grandchild throwing the javelin and the other one pole vaulting. I was ready for a warm car by the last pole vault and we quickly loaded up, stopped for fast food, and were on our way back to town for softball practice. We wheeled in the ballpark right at 5:45. I dropped Sadie, my granddaughter, off for her practice, took grandson, John Luke, home and went to my next assignment—T-ball practice with Aevin, the five year old. In case you’re wondering where the parents were in all of this, they were all at other kid things. Trust me, no one’s goofing off! (Hang with me. I have a point to all of this.)

Remember how cold it was at the track meet, T-ball being later in the day, was worse. But, I faithfully stood until dark right beside my little first baseman giving him the tips of the trade (after all I did play first base on the church team for five years) and listening to young coaches say things like, “All the outfielders line up over here” and “Justin, you have to cover that base.” thinking don’t these guys know a five year old has no idea what an “outfielder” is or what “cover your base” means?? Oh well, what do I know?

While at T-ball practice, my son-in-law called to see if he could borrow my camera for his last basketball game at eight o’clock that night. Of course I said yes. In fact, I said that I would come to the game too. After all, I hadn’t done enough that day. I called my daughter to pick me up, dropped Aevin off with his dad, and soon I was off to basketball. Now, here’s the important part of the story.

I jumped in the front seat and began talking to all the kids while looking out the front window. A few minutes into the “hi” and “how was your day” greetings, my seven year old granddaughter, Bella, leaned up to the front seat from her backseat and tapped me on the arm and said, “Two mama, I haven’t seen your face all day.” I turned around to be greeted by the most precious smile and twinkling brown eyes ever. She was dressed appropriately in her cheerleader costume ready to cheer her daddy on to victory. What a precious site!

Later that night, as I was winding down from my busy day, I felt another nudge. No, it wasn’t a grandchild. Surprisingly none of them were spending the night. It was a heavenly nudge. It was God saying, “I haven’t seen your face today.” And when I looked up, in my mind, I saw the most precious face dressed in a cheerleader suit, smiling down at me and waiting to cheer me on. I don’t know what God looks like, but that day, He looked like a seven year old in a cheerleader costume.

Three times in Psalms 42 and 43, the Psalmist uses these words, “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God— soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God.” How often in your busy day do you think to look at God—to fix your eyes on Him? I confess that while I know God is constantly watching over me, many times, I fail to let Him see ME. Today, I want to thank Bella for reminding me to slow down and let God see my face. As much as I value seeing His face, He values seeing mine.

Today and this week and forever, let God see your face. Look up to the Heaven’s and have face to face time with your Father. You will be blessed beyond all you could ask or imagine if you do.

Hugs for a great week, Chrys

Movie Mishap and God’s Goodness

Good morning to all of you sweet moms who made it through spring break! If you followed me any last week, you knew I was in “grandma-mom” mode for the week as my out-of-town grandkids were in-town for spring break. My in-town grandkids were not on spring break which made for an exciting week of trying to connect all the cousins for amble time of playing four square, dress up, ping-pong, trampoline, fishing, Ninja (new game, ask your kids) and catching the latest kid movies. All of the previously mentioned activities make up the fun part of grandma mode. The other part I call the “grandma-mom mode” is made up of separating fighting kids, reinforcing the need to say please, thank you, yes sir and no sir, emphasizing the importance of sharing, inspecting for clean teeth and hair, and FEEDING them. UGH! I am so not the cook. I’ve tried for years to get the world on a different schedule of eating—like maybe once a day, but so far no one has bought into my plan. So, last week I had to stick to the popular three times a day food plan that apparently my kids have their children on. J I do wonder if that’s how God designed us or did the whole Eve and apple event mess things up for us moms. I’m not sure about the eating schedule, but I do know if Eve had not eaten the forbidden fruit, people would probably be snacking all day on the delicious fruits and vegetables growing all around them. Eve did not have to fire up the stove, prepare, cook, and then wash dishes three times a day. (Okay, I don’t really fire up the stove.) Nope, it would have been every man and child for himself, just snacking on the land. “Mom, I’m hungry,” a child might say. “Sweetie, just run out in the back yard. I saw where God was growing the nicest oranges and broccoli spears.” What a pleasant thought! Oh well, I’m really not complaining. I am grateful for a pantry full of food. I’m just saying…. wouldn’t it be nice?

In the mist of all the fun last week (actually it was on the first day of the fun), my wallet was stolen. It was such a shock and very alarming to look in my purse and discover it missing. I had the usual few minutes of thinking I had just misplaced it in the house, but after retracing my steps I knew it had been stolen. Okay, misplaced first and then stolen. I had taken fourteen kids to the movie which involved several openings and closings of my purse. Apparently my wallet did not make it back in my purse on one of those visits. I discovered the “lost” wallet after we returned to the house. We called the police and were told that if the credit cards were not used in a day’s time that would mean the thief had taken the cash and tossed the rest in the garbage somewhere, never to be found. Sure enough, after one day, none of my cards had been used. I am grateful for that, but it sure has been a hassle canceling cards and getting a new driver’s license, Sam’s card, Insurance cards and credit cards. Other wallet-type things like business cards, grandkid’s school photos, one taco soup recipe, a hidden tube of lipstick and mirror, that piece of paper with three phone numbers of tennis players on it, and coins from England are also gone, never to be replaced.

As soon as I was certain the wallet would not be recovered the first order of business was to get a new driver’s license. Of course I needed something to put it in so I purchased a new wallet and headed to the license bureau. It was a very simple process, I’m pleased to announce. They just pulled me up on the screen, took a new picture (which the grandkids say is better than the last one), took my $31.00, and handed me a new license. I was good to go. Next, I needed money. With no credit cards and no ATM card, I had to go old-school. I headed to a bank where someone knew me and went inside to cash a check. Now, I had one new wallet, empty except for one driver’s license and some cash.

Through this whole process I was reminded of this verse in Matthew 6: “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”

I hope my grandkids saw me NOT hoarding my earthly treasures; instead working hard that my attitude and actions are God-honoring and Christ-reflecting. Having my wallet stolen was an inconvenience for sure, but dealing with it reinforced a few fruits of the spirits like patience, kindness, and self-control. These opportunities for spiritual growth are seldom welcomed, but definitely help plant our feet and our hearts where they need to be.

For this week, every time you take out your wallet, thank God for a different material blessing you have and pray for those less fortunate than you are. We live in a blessed nation where most of us have a roof over our heads and food on our tables, but are also in tough times economically and many are being challenged to live more fugally. As you put your wallet away, thank God for the spiritual blessings you have.

We serve a God who loves us and has promised to care for us. You may have an empty earthly wallet, but your forever wallet is stuffed so full of blessings it’s overflowing.

Have a blessed week.

Hugs,

Chrys

Unexpected Challenges

Today’s blog will be short and sweet, so all you non-readers will get a break. Besides being out of town last week, I have my three out-of-town precious grandchildren in for this whole week. I’ll just confess right up front that I intend to play some this week. So, much of my work just might have to slide a few days. I hope you will understand.

Last week I attended a speaker’s seminar in Portland, Oregon. The seminar founder and facilitator is Carol Kent. She is an amazing woman who loves the Lord and loves helping women in all types of ministries be better equipped to share God’s word. She will also be our keynote speaker at this year’s Mom Thing Conference in August. Let me just say, YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS! She is over the top fabulous. When you get a chance, Google her and you will get a tiny bit of Carol’s story, plus you’ll see her dynamic personality jump off the computer screen right into your living room. Well, not really. I haven’t discovered some new technology where people’s personalities ACTUALLY jump into your house; I’m just super impressed with Carol and want you get the picture. Check her out. If you feel called to work on your speaking ministry, this is the perfect event for you. It’s called Speak Up with Confidence. Trust me when I tell you, “shy beyond your wildest dreams” does not come close to describing my true personality. But, with God’s constant help and reassurance, I have learned to be confident in Him. Take a look at Speak Up with Confidence—it’s awesome!

We left Portland at 6:00 AM on Saturday, which means we had to be at the airport at 5:00 AM, which means we had to get up at 4:00 AM…so it was a long day of flying. That was expected. We knew we would have to pay $25.00 per bag as the new “we’re not very accommodating” airplane guidelines dictate. That was expected. What was unexpected was an extra charge of $200.00 when one of our bags was WAY overweight. And what was unexpected was our now super expensive luggage did not make it on our plane. Apparently for the extra money, our luggage got to pick a later flight. Perhaps it wanted to sleep in. J Apparently, even with the equivalent of buying our luggage its own ticket, the airlines could get it on the plane we were flying on.

Expected, expected, unexpected. Expected, expected, unexpected. Expected, expected, Unexpected! Does that describe your life? It does mine. Here’s some ancient advice that holds true today:

“If I were in your shoes, I’d go straight to God, I’d throw myself on the mercy of God. After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts; there’s no end to his surprises. He gives rain, for instance, across the wide earth, sends water to irrigate the fields. He raises up the down-and-out, gives firm footing to those sinking in grief. He aborts the schemes of conniving crooks, so that none of their plots come to term. He catches the know-it-alls in their conspiracies— all that intricate intrigue swept out with the trash! Suddenly they’re disoriented, plunged into darkness; they can’t see to put one foot in front of the other. But the downtrodden are saved by God, saved from the murderous plots, saved from the iron fist. And so the poor continue to hope, while injustice is bound and gagged.”

That was found in Job 5. Poor Job certainly faced the unexpected and his unexpected events make my lost luggage seem like a day at Disneyworld.

As a busy mom, I know you’re days are filled with the unexpected. Perhaps your child is sick and you desperately needed to go to work today. Perhaps the washing machine broke or the commode is stopped up. Perhaps the car wouldn’t start this morning and there’s no money to get is fixed.

Take the advice Job was given, GO STRAIGHT TO GOD. He’s famous for great and unexpected acts of kindness and mercy.

I hope you have a very “expected” week, with no surprises except those God sends your way.

Hugs, Chrys

God and Today’s World

The question for sociologists today is whether or not all this new technology is making us more connected or less connected. Personally, I can make a case either way. While my husband and I spent a few months overseas this past fall, we lived for nighttime when we could Skype our grandkids. If you have never used Skype (sounds like a big monkey, doesn’t it?), it’s something right out of the future world we might have seen or read about as children. It’s the latest technology that allows you to speak and SEE the person you are talking to. I know, for us boomers this is future-world stuff for sure! For you young ones, it’s a way of life. Anyway, it works through a video camera that is either pre-installed in or added to your computer so it’s really simple. In fact, I’m wondering what took them so long to figure this out! It’s the best! Our grandchildren can now tell us stories of their day and we get to see the expressions on their faces, ask them to turn a cartwheel and then LOOK at report cards. It’s just like we’re sitting in the room with them. (The bonus: you can turn it off when the kids get a little wild. Just joking! We would never do that!)

But, here’s the other side of the argument. I Skyped (now it sounds like something sinister—oh well) my grandkids who live out of town the other day and their dad answered my call. I talked to him for about five minutes when I noticed him texting at the same time. He smiled and put his attention back on me and said, “That was Maddox. (You can see our little cutie in the photo above.) He wants me to get him some milk.” Of course I said, “Where is he?” The shocking reply was, “In his bedroom.” This might be a case against technology. On so many levels, this just isn’t right. Yes, I have been to their house on many occasions and, it’s true, Maddox’s bedroom is up the stairs, but, good grief, whatever happened to walking down the stairs and asking your dad for a glass of milk!!! Okay, it’s true confession time. I have been known to call my husband’s cell phone when we are on opposite sides of our house when I was TOTALLY desperate for a quick answer to something. Only on rare occasions, mind you. J

So, I’ve tried to analyze this and not blow the whole thing out of proportion as I don’t want to stop the wheels of progress. I remember moving into a new house when I was in junior high that had a new invention called an intercom system. Oh, how spoiled we would become! No more walking from one room to the next just to talk to someone. Now, we could just push a button and tell our brothers to come clean their room up or ask our sister if we could borrow her blue sweater or see if mom had supper almost ready. New technology! What would become of us? I remember my parents’ warnings to not play with the intercom system, like it might self-destruct if it heard us acting silly instead of being serious with it.

I guess with each new invention, our social norms are threatened and we are challenged to adjust to a new kind of normal. Whether it’s an intercom system, a television set, a computer, or an IPhone, it’s up to us as humans to control our time and its usage. Are we better off with Skype and IPhones? It depends. Have they inhibited our human connection or enhanced it? It depends. Remember behind every piece of technology is a voice and that voice is YOU. Texting a scripture to your teenage may make a difference in his or her day. Using search engines like Google to find scriptures and commentaries on Biblical thoughts can bring incredible depth to your personal Bible study. Downloading Christian music with Godly messages on your IPOD may be just the voice you need in your ear when facing a difficult day.

God isn’t surprised when a new device is on the
market. In fact, our God, who sees all and knows all, is aware of the next new thing even before Bill Gates is. What makes Him rejoice and the angels sing is when we use everything at our disposal to bring Him glory. In the Message, Hebrews 13:16 says “Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that place in kitchens and workplaces and on the streets.”

God rejoices when communication of all kinds includes Him and His message. Take a few minutes this week to put one of your many modern devices to Godly use. Never doubt that is God right here with us in the 21st century.

Hugs, Chrys

A Painful Reminder

“Ouch!” I cried out as the hard, cold leg of the iron chair in my kitchen crushed my toe. Like all busy moms, I was hurrying to answer the phone, thinking whoever was calling me couldn’t wait one more second. Apparently, my “fourth from the big toe” toe wasn’t in as big of a hurry as the rest of my body because “she” decided to hang on to the leg of the iron chair in my kitchen. Iron, as you know, does not bend; it does not break. Toes, on the other hand, do. It has been a number of years since this incident occurred, but I can look at that particular toe, which continues to be as crooked as a country road, and go back to that pain at any given moment. It truly was that bad. In fact, I had a houseful of company at the time and everyone agreed that I was very brave. As we examined it, each declared they would have screamed and probably cried. We all stared in horror and watched the toe swell and turn an unflattering shade of purple. I’ve never been much of a crier, so I thought my loud “ouch” was sufficient for one broken toe. After all, it was just one toe. The other toes seemed unaffected.

One broken toe, I thought wouldn’t be too bad. I would have nine healthy toes to get me through carpooling and tennis playing and house cleaning and errand running. But, later that night as I hobbled around the house, I noticed something very strange. Two of my other toes, namely toe two and three, were also turning a nasty shade of purple, as well as the top of my foot. Odd, I thought, one toe was battered but those close enough to touch it also showed signs of distress. I did a few household chores and then decided maybe I should stay off my foot for the rest of the night. Later that night, when I got into bed I noticed that the sheer weight of the covers hurt my entire foot and I slept that night with my foot cold rather than in agony. I went to sleep hopeful that all would be better in the morning.

The next morning my foot did feel better when I first woke up and I had great hopes for the day. But, my expectations were short lived as I placed my foot on the floor and discovered that any weight placed on it resulted in a small whimpering sound made by me. So I did what most people do in this situation, I started limping. Limping is never attractive, it’s just necessary to keep from making those awful whimpering sounds. By the time I left for work, I had the limp thing down and I continued through the day, up and down stairs, going to the copy machine, attending kid’s ballgames, driving, running errands, etc.

That night when I went to bed, I not only had a very sore, broken fourth toe, two other very sore purple toe’s, a swollen left foot, I also had developed pain in my right hip and left calf from the excessive limping. My poor right hip and left calf had now been pulled into the drama as I had been called to redistribute my body weight in an effort to relieve the weight on ONE toe.

Three days into my ordeal, my entire body hurt as it strained to help the one little part of my body that was truly damaged. I was reminded of this: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it.” That is a passage found in I Corinthians 11 where Paul was called to teach a lesson about working together and understanding the importance of each person. Paul uses the analogy of our bodies because he knew we could understand and relate to it. From our earliest memories we learn our body parts, don’t we? “Where’s your eyes?” “Where’s your nose?” are phrases someone said to us and then we did the same thing to our children. After we got that concept down, we quickly figured out that we don’t want to give any of our body parts up. All of our body parts have a job and are important. We warn our children not to jump from the top of the slide because they might break their legs. We buckle our kids up in the car and when questioned why, we answer “So you don’t get hurt.” Paul knew we could easily grasp this analogy as we are wired to take care of our bodies—every single part of them. As I limped my way around my little world for several weeks, I was painfully reminded of the truth in Paul’s powerful lesson. Even one small toe is vitally important. When that small toe was damaged, the rest of my body quickly regrouped like an army ready to fight and worked to protect the part that was injured, even to the detriment of itself. When I thought of how “giving” my body was, it made me proud (sore, but proud).

Each of you has talents and gifts unique to only YOU! God has blessed you and you are a blessing to others because of those gifts. What you do for your family, your church family, your work place, your neighborhood is unique to YOU. You are valuable! When you hurt, others hurt with you. When you rejoice, others rejoice with you. If you find that you are not functioning like you want to be, please know that those who love you are ready to help you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. On the other hand, stand ready to help others. We are all busy. Each day brings a new “to do” list so we have to listen for the small whimpering “ouch” that may be coming from a mom in need. Being able to empathize with others when they hurt is truly a trait of a mature Christian. Billy Graham once said that real happiness comes from learning the value of sharing in other’s sorrow, distress, and misfortune.

Have a blessed week, knowing you do not stand alone and are valued and loved by God.

Hugs, Chrys