Monthly Archives: June 2014

Stolen Treasure

In September of 1998, when Jeremy and I were dating, he gave me a Bible for my birthday.  Though I was strong in my love for the Lord, I was surprisingly immature in my knowledge of scripture.  Bible-reading was never made a priority in my home growing up, and though I attended church most of my life, I had somehow made it all the way to college without knowing key details of even the simplest stories in the scriptures.  The Bibles I had in my home as a kid were usually King James, and though I tried hard to read them, I got too caught up in the “thees” and the “thous” to really grasp what the text was saying.  I would quickly give up and find something more fun to do.

In high school I bought myself a “True Love Waits” Bible.  Yep.  Sure did.  It had the title written in great big purple and green neon colors on the front of it, shouting my declaration of abstinence to the world.  I carried it around proudly.  Then I went to college.  I carried it much more discreetly then.  I think I even bought a cover for it.  I still rarely read it.

Soon into our dating relationship, Jeremy bought me a new Bible.  It was beautiful.  A brown, leather-bound NIV Bible, published by InterVarsity Press.  It was filled with quiet time devotionals, some inspiring, some cheesy.  I was so unbelievably excited when he gave it to me.  He had written on the front page, “With joy in seeing God work in your life.”  I remember exactly where we were when he gave it to me.  It’s the only one I’ve used ever since.  I could find the passages I was looking for, not by chapter and verse as much as by the location on the page.  I kept a card in it that Jeremy had given me as part of a bouquet of flowers, which I used as a bookmark.  It had favorite quotes written in it, spoken by people I love, that I wanted to make sure I always remembered.  It had a picture of two of my favorite little girls in it that my friend had recently given me.  It was the first Bible I read cover-to-cover.

I loved it.  I loved the way it felt in my hands when I held it.  I loved the feel of the pages.  I loved that it had been given to me by someone who was desiring to draw my heart to know the Lord in a much deeper way.

SONY DSCEarly last Thursday, I discovered that my car had been broken into (well, not “broken”, exactly.  The doors were accidentally left unlocked, so I suppose it was an open invitation), and my purse was stolen.  It had a good amount of cash in it, as well as my credit cards, insurance cards, library cards, driver’s license, etc.  It was a frustrating experience that made me angry and has robbed me of happiness for several days.  I normally get over things pretty quickly, but I’ve had a hard time with this situation, for some reason.

On Sunday morning as we were headed into church, I went to get my Bible out of my car.  It wasn’t there.  I figured I had left it at home.  Then this morning I searched for it again.  The pink striped bag that I kept it in was nowhere to be found.  It wasn’t in the kitchen.  It wasn’t in the garage.  It wasn’t by my desk.  I checked the car again.  Nothing.

My heart sank as I slowly realized what had happened.

I’m not really much of a sentimental person, and I don’t usually find much value in “stuff,” but that Bible was a priceless treasure to me.  Much more so than the valuables that had been taken from my purse.  I guess because it wasn’t just a Bible, but rather a constant reminder of where I had been and how far the Lord has brought me in my pursuit of Him…or better said, His pursuit of me.  As I think about it, tears come to my eyes.

We live in a country where Bibles are a dime a dozen.  Just this evening I perused the Bible section of a local bookstore and was overwhelmed with my choices.  King James, New King James, NIV, Amplified, Holman, English Standard, The Message, The Message and the NIV in one, The Mom’s Devotional Bible, The Working Man’s Bible, The Ragamuffin Bible, The Duck Dynasty Bible, The Sailor’s Bible (really?), Study Bibles, big thick Bibles with lots of commentary, little tiny Bibles with little tiny 6.5-point fonts, Bibles with zippers…as I looked through the choices, I felt like Bubba on his shrimp boat.

I’ve probably given away more Bibles than I ever owned.  In fact, I gave two of them away this past weekend.  The fact that I had a Bible stolen from me isn’t a very big big deal.  But the fact that I had that Bible stolen from me was heartbreaking.  The attachment I had to it is great, and the more I think about it, the more I realize how much it meant to me.  But as I sit here and try to process my feelings, all I can think about is how thankful I am for the journey that I have been on with the Lord for the last 16 years, and how He has used the words in that book throughout my life.  I’m thankful for the ways in which He has written them on my heart and transformed who I am and how I see the world and make decisions and relate to people.  I’m thankful that, thousands of years after it was written, I can still sit here and marvel at the power of the story and the way God has used it to change the hearts of countless numbers of people all over the world from generation to generation.  I’m thankful for the supernatural way that Jesus can relentlessly pursue someone through a tool that seemingly amounts to nothing more than words on a page.

I’m sad that the Bible I loved is gone.  I don’t have a profound lesson I’ve learned from the experience (other than maybe to be more diligent about keeping my car doors locked), that I can share with the world.  I’m just kind of sad.  But I won’t dwell on the sadness.  I will count the memories with joy and treasure them in my heart.  I will pray that the person who took it is drawn by the Holy Spirit to read it and be affected by its message.  I will be glad that the man who gave it to me sixteen years ago decided to make me his bride despite the immaturity of my faith.  I’ll get a new Bible.  I’ll learn new truths.  I’ll write new notes.  I’ll underline new favorite passages.  I’ll make new memories.  I’ll have new adventures.  I will rejoice in the goodness of the Lord and the blessing of His word and the power of its life-changing Truth.

Do you have a favorite Bible?  Does it have a story behind it?  I’d love to hear it!  Feel free to share your story here.

Laying it Down

It’s Monday morning.  I wake up without an alarm clock at 6am, refreshed from a weekend of interaction with adults and extra sets of hands to help with the kids.  There are plans I want to make, tasks I want to accomplish, books I want to read, and fun things I want to do with my children.  I have energy and strength and patience.  My heart rate is normal.  I’m calm, relaxed and ready to start a new week.

It’s a good feeling.  But it won’t last long.  I know it won’t.  You see, I’m in the throes of parenting young children.  And parenting young children is hard.  And not always rewarding.  I mean, of course it’s rewarding.  Sometimes.  For crying out loud, every day I get to see my heart walking around outside of my body in two different forms, singing “Jesus Loves Me” and sharing with me the joys of life that they have discovered that day and telling me that “I rock.”

But it’s not always so.

Last week I sent both my sister and my husband a text message saying, “I think this is going to be the day that I figure out just how much incessant whining I can take before I completely snap.”  Last week, every minute of every day felt like this:

Mom, I don’t like this.  I want something else to eat.  Mom, can you get me a drink?  Mom, where are my shorts?  Mom, I want to go swimming.  Mom, will you read to me?  Mom, will you play with me?  Mom, she won’t let me have a turn!  Mom, can you push me on the swing?  Mom, will you fix me a snack?  Mom, will you get me some milk?  Mom, can we go play at Evan’s house?  Mom, will you go outside with me?  Mom, can you help me draw this?  Mom, can you help me build this?  Mom, can you help me turn this on?  Mom, will you wipe me?  Mom, can you come NOW?!  Mom, will you…can you…how do you…I want…give me…look at me…

All of these requests and demands and immediate needs were completely surrounding me and flying at my head like tiny arrows from the bows of small, selfish, irrational people all the minutes of all the days.  I’m trying to meet every need and fulfill every request while simultaneously attempting to sweep sticky eggs off the dining room floor and put the dishes away and get the laundry out of the washing machine before it starts to smell moldy (again) and take a shower and make the grocery list and cook the dinner, etc, etc, etc…

I ain’t gonna lie to ya.  Some days this mama gig completely wears me down.  And I get why some moms start drinking alcohol at lunchtime.

Last week, as I was particularly struggling with finding joy in my job, I asked the Lord for strength.  “Give me some encouragement, God.  I’m about to lose it.  Please?”  And He kindly obliged.  As I was standing in my dining room, sweeping the floor for the third time that day, He offered me this verse:

Greater love has no mom than this, that she lay down her life for her kids.”
John 15:13 IMV (International Mommy Version).

He said to me,
“You see that egg you’re sweeping off the floor, sweet mama?  You’re laying down your life.
You see those little grass-stained shorts that you’re trying to get clean for the fourth time?  You’re laying down your life.
You see that copy of Skippyjon Jones that you’re reading for the eighteenth time today?  You’re laying down your life.
You see that fight that you just broke up over whose turn it was to have that exact green crayon?  You’re laying down your life.
You see how the only time today that you’re going to sit down will be when you’re eating or driving little people somewhere?  You’re laying down your life.

“That bathroom break that you take with two other kids joining you asking you questions you’re not ready to answer, that Band-aid you’re putting on the boo-boo that’s not bleeding, that important phone call you’re trying to make that happens to come at the exact same moment your youngest needs a glass of water RIGHT NOW because she’s SO THIRSTY and she CAN’T WAIT, all happening at the same time, and all you really want to do is find a quiet place to sit and read or talk to a friend or have a cup of coffee or just be completely quiet and think about something other than whose turn it is to choose a video?  You’re laying down your life.”

I went back and read the passage of scripture from which the above verse came.  It says, in part “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…you did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.

I cannot tell you how much those words nourished my soul as I read them.  I have always known this in my head, but sometimes Truth gets lost in translation on its way to my heart.  As Jesus is talking to his disciples about himself and about them, I am reminded of my calling.  My calling is not to be an accomplished housewife with a museum-quality home.  My calling is not to be a well-tanned, well-rested, sweet-tea-in-one-hand, good-book-in-another kind-of mom.  My calling is not to be so tired from all the unnecessary projects I create for myself that I don’t have time to read another book to my children.  My calling is to lay down my life – my fleshly desires, my selfish ambitions, my unnecessary needs – and to serve my children.  And in so doing, the Lord will make my joy complete because His joy will be in me.  HIS JOY will be in ME!

And it’s true.  When I work as unto the Lord, I do have joy.  I LOVE to serve my Father.  I can easily get stuck in a rut feeling like I don’t always love serving my children.  But when I step back and look at things with fresh eyes through the words of scripture, I’m not just serving my children.  I’m serving my Father.  And when I think about it from that frame of reference, I hear the words of Isaiah saying, “Here am I!!!  Send me!!!”  I remember that I have offered those words to God many times throughout the years, and I did so thinking I would be sent to do overseas missions or inner-city ministry or something “special” like that.  But I haven’t been sent to do that.  Not yet, anyway.  Today, I have been chosen and appointed to go and bear fruit…fruit that will last…to my children.  If I’m serving them with frustration and resentment and anger and bitterness, they will taste that fruit and want nothing of it, and consequently, nothing of me or this God that I claim to be loving.  But if I serve them with kindness and compassion and patience and joy, they will taste that fruit and (hopefully) take great delight in it.

I doubt that this reminder will make my job any less emotionally challenging or physically draining.  But it’s a renewed perspective that already fills my heart with joy and encouragement as I begin this new week.  And this morning, I look forward to serving my Jesus as I serve my children.  And maybe, while I’m at it, we can work on learning at least one new self-help skill.  😉


Broken Dishes

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on my personal Facebook page in April, 2014.

15 years ago I was given a complete set of hand-me-down dishes from my dear friends, Alf and Margaret Beth.  They were a sweet gesture, one I was truly appreciative of.  But honestly, the dishes themselves weren’t really all that fantastic.  They weren’t exactly my style.  Some of them were even already chipped.  But I took them with much gratitude, thinking, “These will come in handy when I have kids, so that we can teach them to eat from “real” dishes instead of plastic ones, and we won’t have to worry about them breaking our nice dishes.”  (Jeremy and I were engaged at the time.)  Plus, I loved my friends and I appreciated their offer to a young couple just starting out.

We held onto them for nine years before we even had kids, then another five before we started actually using them.  They’ve been moved to seven different homes in three different cities across Tennessee.  Each time I see them I think of my friends and how much I love and miss them.  It wasn’t until sometime early last year that we finally pulled them out of the storage closet for our kids to use.

When I first took them, I had no idea how much they would come to mean to me.  I haven’t seen my friends in…I don’t know…ten years?  But for 15 years, a part of them has lived somewhere in my home, and I’ve carried their memories with me all this time.  And because I love my friends, I’ve come to love those dishes as well.

Early this afternoon one of the plates broke.  The second from the set to meet its demise, actually.  Natalie came from the dining room table into the laundry room where I was, bottom lip quivering, trying not to cry.  But it had frightened her, and after a few seconds of trying hard, she could no longer hold it in.  As anyone who knows my daughter well will tell you, there’s nothing more powerful than fear and embarrassment to make her sob deep, heaving sobs.  Knowing this, I did my best to comfort her quickly.

As I sat and held her and reassured her, I didn’t get upset that one of the dishes I loved was broken.  Instead, I remembered its purpose.  I was thankful that we had chosen to tote around cheap, fragile dishes for 15 years.  I was thankful my little girl wasn’t hurt.  As I cleaned up the mess, I was thankful for my friends, and I was compelled to pray for them.  I was also thankful for the reminder that such is the Body of Christ.
We are weak and fragile.  Easily broken.  We’re all chipped in places.  Some of us aren’t as fancy or as well-known as others.  But we have so much value to Him who loves us, who has carried us and called us His own since before the beginning of time.

And He made us, each and every one of us, for a unique purpose.  It may be simple.  It may be mundane.  It may be unworthy of worldly recognition.  We may spend our entire lives sitting in a dark drawer while others get the privilege of being displayed proudly in a glass cabinet.  But to the One who knows our names, our life is meaningful.  Our worth is invaluable.  His love for us is deep and profoundly significant.  Not because of who we are or what we do.  Not because of any value the world has placed on us.  But because of Him and what He has done for us.  Even to those of us who, like my dishes, are made to do nothing more than to provide a loaf of bread or a cup of cold water to a small child, we have been bought with a price.  And the value of that cannot be measured in human terms.

I love those dishes.  Perhaps now even moreso.

Lessons From the Ziploc Bag

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared on my personal Facebook page in February, 2014.

Today inadvertently presented itself with a great object lesson in faith. It was a beautiful day, so after Aiden got his book work done for school, we went outside armed with baking soda, vinegar and a plastic sandwich bag. It was a good day to blow stuff up. I told the kids to stand in a particular spot in the driveway while I daringly loaded the ammunition. They stood. I loaded. I turned back around. They were gone.

They had run up to the top of the hill behind our house, as far away as they could get from the perilous Ziploc bag. Fortunately, the experiment went awry. Not enough vinegar (or baking soda, I’m not sure which). So I tried again, this time adding more of both. I told the kids, “Don’t run away this time! Stand HERE. Trust. Me.” They stood. I loaded. I turned back around. They were gone.

I halted the experiment and had them come down from hiding. We chatted (I’m hormonal today, so I may have chatted loudly. On second thought, firmly sounds better. Let’s say firmly). “Guys! This is a really cool experiment, and you’re missing it because you’re not trusting that where I have you is safe! You’re trusting in your fear and you’re running away from something that’s meant to be fun! Your fear of what might happen is stronger than your trust in me!”


I got quieter.

“Hey, kids, you know what? It’s exactly the same with us and God. He has great plans for us! Really, really cool things in store for our lives! And He promises us that if we just trust in Him, He will be with us, and He will care for us. But too often, instead of trusting in Him, we get afraid of what might happen. We worry that maybe He doesn’t know as much as we do or that He doesn’t really have everything under control. And so, we run away from the good things He has for us because our fear is stronger than our faith. And we end up missing out on some amazing things in life!”

I don’t know if they got it or not. But man, I sure did.

We tried again. The kids didn’t run away this time. Well, Natalie still backed up quite a bit (nobody asked her opinion about this gig in the first place).

The experiment worked. The bag exploded. Aiden was ecstatic.

And my heart was full.

And So It Begins…

In the fall of 2010 I had a high-energy, high-needs two-year-old boy and an infant.  I was a relatively-extroverted stay-at-home mom who desperately wanted to be out enjoying life, but who was justsocrazytired and in need of lotsandlotsofcoffee (but I was nursing said infant, so I couldn’t have lotsandlotsofcoffee), and, well, have you seen small children out in public?!  I was lonely and longing for human interaction.  So I did what most SAHMs in my situation do.  I became an obsessive Facebook user.  It didn’t fill the void I had to be surrounded by people every day like I was accustomed to when I was working, but it certainly helped (thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, for saving me and countless other moms out there from needing a Xanax prescription).

Over time, I began to develop a small following of people who seemed to like my random, apparently amusing reflections of life with littles.  My friend Alice, who at that point was coming over to my house for a few hours once a week to play with my kids and help keep me sane, started telling me how much she enjoyed my FB posts and that I should really consider writing a book.  Was she kidding?!  I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself!  Writing a book was a flattering thought, but there was just no way.

As time went by, however, I started being encouraged by more and more people to share the stories of my family and our life together.  A book was still out of the question, but a blog, maybe?  Hey, yeah!  Perhaps someday I could write a blog!  But it would be a while.

Fast forward three-and-a-half years later, and here I am!  I’m officially a blogger!  And really, it’s not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  All that’s really required is for me to completely ignore my husband, send my children to their room for a few hours little while, and leave the laundry in the washing machine overnight.  Again.  Easy!  Yep, I can do this.

For those of you who have been encouraging me to write publicly these past few years, thank you!  Your kind words have been so heartwarming and inspiring to me.  I hope you enjoy reading about my crazy little life as much as I enjoy living it (especially now that I can drink coffee again!).  Speaking of which…