Thursday, October 27, 2016

Morning Promises

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things
Out of the dust...
Out of us.

Father, when things happen like Andy's preaching last Sunday, when he gushed about how wonderful I am and that he still has so much to learn even after ten years of knowing me and that he's excited about that--when that sort of thing happens

it is a good feeling
of assurance

but it also makes me feel so undeserving of that praise.  I know how cruddy I can be.  I know how

grumpy
lazy
disillusioned and disappointed
bitter

I can be on the inside, and I know a lot of it leaks out.  

I get frustrated and overwhelmed, impatient and irritated, sad, full of pity for myself, fed up with serving ungrateful people, selfish.  I am tired.  

And yet that is me without You.

The You in me
is different.

The You in me
can look at the bigger picture 
and appreciate the story
at least trust that 
You always write good stories.
The You in me
sees the poetry in life.

Through You I am 
more than a conqueror
Through You I can
scale a wall
Through You I am 
a new creation
Through You I can 
do all things
Through You I have
a heart of flesh, 
not a heart of stone
Through You I carry 
the light of life.

And it's a beautiful thing.

You always make beautiful things
Beauty out of ashes.
You rejoice over me
with singing
And because I have breath
(because You gave me breath)
I will praise the Lord!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Paradox

On March 31, I realized that I had written twice in January, thrice in February, four times in March...and I thought, "Wow! Wouldn't it be awesome if I continued that pattern all the way through December, so that by then I'd be writing basically every other day?!"  

And then I never wrote again.  C'est la vie.

I have been mentally struggling with a lot of paradoxes lately.  Things like:


I am an adult, but I feel like a child.
I am young, but I feel the aging happening.
I love quiet, but am surrounded by noise.
I want to live slowly, but I have to live hurriedly.  
I want to pare down our possessions, but we're always acquiring.
I can't help but dive into projects, but am overwhelmed by what's on my plate.
I need to be more healthy, but what's another day of bad food choices?
I desire to be content and joyful, but usually I am wanting and grumpy.  
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
This is an awful lot of "I" statements.  We can get into a lot of trouble with "I" statements.  There is nothing inherently wrong with my feeling all these things and more.  But what I choose to dwell on shapes me, and then shapes the people around me.  So yes, Lydia, go ahead and look in, take stock, process.  Then look out at the people around me (especially the little ones that are daily affected by me).  And look up.  All paradoxes have their answer in Him that is equally engaged with the stars and our cells.

"And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."  Philippians 1:6 




  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Heard You That Time!

God spoke two little, wonderful things to me earlier this week.  

One evening I browsed through last season's Joyce Meyer magazine and did a double-take.  There in plain print was a typo, the wrong reference assigned to a verse: "Romans 8:35-37 says, 'The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).'"  

I thought, "No it doesn't.  That's the part of Romans that says, 'For I am convinced that neither height, nor depth, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things in heaven, nor on earth, nor below the earth--nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God...This verse about the thief and abundant life, that's John 10:10.  How'd they mix those up?"  (I do realize that what I almost-quoted is actually Romans 8:38-39, but you get the gist.)  

And then I thought--"WOW!  Seriously?!  I just recognized a SCRIPTURE REFERENCE TYPO, and not only knew the correct reference, but also the verse of the incorrect reference!  ME?!  WOW!"  And it was just so edifying.  Scripture references are not my forte, nor indeed is scripture memorization.  And my internal dialogue regarding scripture includes this attitude too often.  But guess what: it's in me more than I realize, written on my heart.  There is LOTS of room for improvement, but I am not a hopeless case, doomed to a lifetime of "I know how I underlined it, and where it is on the page...some page...probably Old Testament...about such-and-such a topic..."  Spend time in scripture.  It's worth it.  

The second God-talking-to-me thought came the next morning.  I had slept in a little, wasn't feeling great, dove right into the day, and I decided to sneak into my bedroom after putting the baby down for First Nap to have my own quiet time with Jesus.  Commence the thoughts, "You're being lazy.  You should be processing laundry, or playing with Lewis, or at least making this bed."  And I recognized those lies and decided I'd better start praying.  Out loud, so I wouldn't get distracted immediately.  

You know what that prayer turned into?  "Martha, Martha, you are distracted my many things.  But Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her."  

Jesus said that.  Martha was annoyed that her sister curled up to listen to Jesus while she was left to get dinner on the table all by herself.  But the ONE THING that is more important than anything else, even dinner for company?  Listening to Him, loving Him.  (See Luke 10 for the full story.)

And that prayer also reminded me that my spending time with Him, my prioritizing quiet time--in that God commands a blessing.  Deuteronomy 28 is a chapter full of blessings or curses that will be born out among the Israelites, and the long list of really, really good blessings hinges on "if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.…" (Dt 28:9b).  

Anybody remember the greatest commandment?  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." Heart (time spent with Him) comes before strength (good stewardship of your household).  Both are important, but one is more important.  

Cheers to spiritual ears and the gift of hearing the heart of the Father.  May I ever improve!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

10 Plagues Puppets for Jesus Storybook Bible

Based on these puppets from Amazon.  But I made a few changes (plague of tigers?), and utilized my store of paper bags and construction paper instead of paying $12.  Here they are all together, and then individually.  I wanted to be able to zoom in on the puppets in the Amazon picture, and just couldn't.  So I solved my problem for you.  



First plague: water turned to blood


Second plague: frogs. Everywhere.


Third plague: gnats out of the dust


Fourth plague: swarms of flies


Fifth plague: Egyptian livestock die


Sixth plague: boils


Seventh plague: hail


Eighth plague: locusts (big ol' HUNGRY grasshoppers)


Ninth plague: utter darkness


Tenth plague: death of the firstborn

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Run in Early March

Studying the clouds, imagining the ships and transformers and running sheep, the blindfolded man smelling a pot of steamy stew.

People mucking about in the mud, itching for Spring to hurry: an old man with a ball glove, a boy and his bike trying to conquer a plywood ramp up an old snowbank, a young man with his skateboard, a group of teenagers laughing.

Shelves and kettles and micro-crevasses in the heaped-up snow, all the scars of old winter telling tales of the critters gone by.  

Honks!  Somewhere, geese are flying!  I twist my head all around, swerving over the pavement, until I see the pair overhead, circling back, looking for a free-flowing landing pad on the river.  Geese!

And moments later, I smile to recognize the "Cheer! Cheer!" of a cardinal, and then hear him calling to a mate.  I smile for the waking-up world, but also because the song of a cardinal?  I've never known it before--but I read in a book that "Cheer! Cheer!" was its call, and to hear it in real life--it's unmistakeable.  Beautiful.  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Pinterest--"Life Group Kids: the Jesus Storybook Bible"

(In process, and I'll update it in the coming weeks as we continue Life Group!  Contains links to borrowed activities, as well as my own.)

We're using activities that coincide with the stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible for the kids that come to our Life Group.  There are two main benefits of this: faith lessons and thoughts are poured into our kids, not just our grown-ups--and, of course, it helps the grown-ups to focus when the kids are engaged and it isn't complete chaos!  

We start with showing the story clip off the Jesus Storybook Bible DVD (or reading it out of the book if technology isn't cooperating).  Then we move on to our activities.  




Week 1: "The Story and the Song," an introduction story that sets up the premise of this story Bible: that every story whispers His name, a history-long love and adventure story that points to Jesus as the coming Rescuer.  Activity: a puzzle, putting pictures from multiple Bible stories together in the shape of a cross.  Here's the link to the original Printable Puzzle from My Mundane and Miraculous Life





Week 2--"The Beginning: a Perfect Home."  The activity included in the "44 Activities for the JSB" post didn't suit our needs well (not up to serving a multi-course "lunch" to the kiddos in the middle of Life Group).  So I made up an activity--or based it on something else I found, I can't honestly remember.  Prepped by outlining the numbers 1-7 on a big white paper for the days of creation, and the kids filled in each number with something to represent what God created on the corresponding day.  Jessica was with the kiddos this week, and it may possibly have been a handful!  This week has had the most kids so far, all sweet.  But, you know, it's past bedtime, and there's candy upstairs, and so many buddies to play with, and craft supplies!  Thank you for being a trooper, Jessica!  Here's my craft example, and the actual product of what my boys came home with:




Week 4 (because week 3 we skipped Life Group to meet together at church for prayer and worship music)--"A Giant Staircase to Heaven: the Tower of Babel."  Used the Building Activity by Bare Feet on the Dashboard, though our building blocks are the giant bin of Mega Blocks (like huge legos).  




And then I did a second story with the kiddos, "Son of Laughter: Isaac and the Promise."  Again, the sensory bin activity in the original "44" post isn't practical, with a bunch of kids in my pastor's very, very tidy house.  I looked around awhile, saw a similar little project with dark blue cellophane, and did the same thing with foil over flashlights.  Wrap the foil around the flashlight, poke some star holes with a toothpick, then find the darkest room and have all the kids together shine their starry lights up on the ceiling.  Just a fun, rather beautiful object lesson to go with God's lavish promise!  Here's my test run: 





Week 5--"The Forgiving Prince: Joseph and His Brothers."  I used the craft found on the Blessings Overflowing blog, a simple paper-bag puppet of Joseph in his technicolor dream coat.  Wait...is that how the Bible describes it?  :0)  I prepped the strips of construction paper, put sticky dots on the backs of googly eyes, and sent along scissors and glue sticks.  My hubby was with the kids this week, while I enjoyed the grown-up conversation upstairs.  And he even took pictures for me!  Thanks, Buddy!




Week 6--"God to the Rescue!" and "God Makes a Way": This week I hunted around for crafts related to the 10 plagues (because again, we're steering clear of the definite-messes that the activities included with the original post create among a small bunch of kids in a tidy house).  I found these puppets, but of course would never pay $12 for something I can make out of construction paper :0)  So here's my version.  Note: I changed them a little, especially the, ahm...tiger?  I couldn't find a plague of tigers in Exodus.  


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jesus Loves Me, This I'm Learning

A friend of mine shared this on Facebook a couple of months ago, and I shared it so I could find it again for myself.  There are one or two people in particular who I want to share this with this morning, but I realized, hey, there are a lot of us who need to hear these promises and assurances.  It takes time, but is worth it to look up, write down, record yourself reading all the scripture that is referenced.  Get this "God loves me" thing rooted deep!

A Letter from Daddy-God

My Child, 

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. 
Psalm 139:1 

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. 
Psalm 139:2 

I am familiar with all your ways. 
Psalm 139:3 

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. 
Matthew 10:29-31 

For you were made in my image. 
Genesis 1:27 

In me you live and move and have your being. 
Acts 17:28 

For you are my offspring. 
Acts 17:28 

I knew you even before you were conceived. 
Jeremiah 1:4-5 

I chose you when I planned creation. 
Ephesians 1:11-12 

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. 
Psalm 139:15-16 

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. 
Acts 17:26 

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Psalm 139:14 

I knit you together in your mother's womb. 
Psalm 139:13 

And brought you forth on the day you were born. 
Psalm 71:6 

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. 
John 8:41-44 

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 
1 John 4:16 

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 
1 John 3:1 

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 
1 John 3:1 

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. 
Matthew 7:11 

For I am the perfect father. 
Matthew 5:48 

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. 
James 1:17 

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. 
Matthew 6:31-33 

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. 
Jeremiah 29:11 

Because I love you with an everlasting love. 
Jeremiah 31:3 

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. 
Psalms 139:17-18 

And I rejoice over you with singing. 
Zephaniah 3:17 

I will never stop doing good to you. 
Jeremiah 32:40 

For you are my treasured possession. 
Exodus 19:5 

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. 
Jeremiah 32:41 

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. 
Jeremiah 33:3 

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. 
Deuteronomy 4:29 

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. 
Psalm 37:4 

For it is I who gave you those desires. 
Philippians 2:13 

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. 
Ephesians 3:20 

For I am your greatest encourager. 
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
                                                                                                                                When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. 
Psalm 34:18 

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. 
Isaiah 40:11 

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. 
Revelation 21:3-4 

And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. 
Revelation 21:3-4 

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. 
John 17:23 

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. 
John 17:26 

He is the exact representation of my being. 
Hebrews 1:3 

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you.
Romans 8:31 

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 
1 John 4:10 

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. 
Romans 8:31-32 

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 
1 John 2:23 

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. 
Romans 8:38-39 

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. 
Luke 15:7 

I have always been Father, and will always be Father. 
Ephesians 3:14-15 

My question is…Will you be my child? 
John 1:12-13 

I am waiting for you. 
Luke 15:11-32 

Love, Your Dad 

Almighty God


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

It's All In How You See Things

A few days ago I pulled into my driveway and noticed a teeny, tiny little rainbow.  A magical little rainbow, in a teeny stream of water.  


Yes, that teeny stream of water came through my broken gutter, the snow-melt off a slightly rusty roof.  And though you can't see it in this photo, it held a beautiful, glowing-bright rainbow down the length of its stream.  

But it turned out that the rainbow was only visible within a very narrow view, that if I leaned forward or backward a foot, or was higher or lower in my seat, I couldn't see it.  What a little blessing to pull in to just the right spot to get that rainbow!  

And of course my thoughts extended farther, to the metaphorical.  And I need to preach it to myself over and over again, and usually still don't choose to look for the rainbows.  But sometimes it just slaps me (sweetly) in the face, and I have to remember it: the situation can look pretty ugly, and still, STILL, if you look at it just rightly, there's a rainbow in there somewhere.  

Rainbows are a reminder of a promise straight from God, of his Father-heart toward us.  You can find the original story in Genesis.  And you can extend His promise there to signal His faithfulness to all His promises, because even if we are faithless, He is still faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.  

What a promise!

Because You Prayed

So I'm realizing that I haven't given you an "official" report on my baby's health, or all those other things I asked you to pray with me about.  So here it is--and for those several of you who have specifically asked how things have shaped up since Sunday, thank you!  It is somehow still surprising to realize that, when I ask for prayer or help, you guys really care, and really pray, and really would like to know how a situation changes as a result.  Still learning.  Thank you for the lessons.  

Here is the original post:




Honestly, THANK YOU!

So, Lem isn't 100% yet, but he's back down to a mild head cold, requiring some snot-sucking, saline, and extra snuggles.  During the day Sunday, he retained a bad-sounding cough, but not all-out croupy.  By Sunday night, he slept peacefully again.  We have continued the humidifier in his bedroom.  The Scary Croup was only Saturday night, meaning it stopped when we all joined together to pray.  He's a happy kid again.  


I was not able to nap at all Sunday, but got to experience the Grace that also covered the first month following Lem's birth: the God-given anomaly that I could function normally and even enjoy my awake time despite terrible sleep.  In my life, this is an actual miracle, and not coffee's fault.  We prayed together.  

Andy was alert until he was about two miles from home at the end of a long day.  He and our bigger boys made it home just fine, and then Andy got to take a nap for awhile.  And he made a wise decision to watch football from home instead of traveling an additional hour in the late evening to watch football with friends.  Bummer, but wise.  
And his preaching?  He's gotten good feedback from those who heard it, and he and the boys got to experience some God things with that church family that they haven't seen before--especially the boys--and Andy got to share some special conversation with our boys describing what it was all about.  Important God lessons for our boys to receive from their daddy.  Unexpected was able to be beautiful because we prayed together.  

And Lincoln and Lewis?  Well, they did great, of course.  They experienced/participated in 2 1/2 hours of prayer-worship-communion.  And then Lincoln went off to kids' church during daddy's sermon and did great.  Lewis was not interested in going to a strange nursery, and instead was very quiet during all of daddy's sermon.  The first few quiet minutes were spent in his seat.  And the rest of those sermon minutes were spent by Lewis standing by daddy, spreading out his blanket and lying on the floor by daddy, or running circles around daddy--all quietly, and all welcomed by that church family (Andy checked ;) ).  There may have been a short Tickle Break between father and son.  And the word of God was shared by my husband.  Because we prayed.  

Thank you for praying with me.  Your prayers matter.  






Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kid in the Kitchen

It's a wintry-mix sort of day out there, and another good day for baking.  

In general, my relationship with the kitchen is this: I cook to serve my family.  It isn't a love affair for me, or a particularly creative outlet.  I just want my family to have good food, and I was blessed to grow up with a mom (and grandmother, and great-grandmother, a long Southern legacy) who pretty much always put good meals on the table.  As a kid, I didn't learn how to make good meals.  But I did learn what good meals looked like, so when the time came that meals were suddenly up to me, at least I had a worthy goal!

Now, part of that goal is to teach my boys (sometimes along with me) how to cook, and how to enjoy cooking.  There are a few prerequisites for enjoying the company of your kids in the kitchen, but they're worth it.  




Kids are gross.  Always, always, always remember to wash hands.  And plan to train them to cover their coughs and sneezes.  And not to stick their hands back in the bowl after licking them.  And that food that lands on the floor doesn't go back in the bowl (unless it's washed off first).  And then, despite all that, just learn to be ok with some germs, because they're inevitable.  










As my grandmother taught me, before you start anything, read the WHOLE recipe.  And when you add kids, it really is helpful to only make recipes you're already comfortable with yourself.  

Lately, I've been using recipes as reading practice with Lewis.  He's learning to read cooking ingredient words, as well as fractions and other measurement words.  It's so cool to watch him sound things out! However, make sure you DON'T need to cook within a timeframe.  Just plan that things will be SLOW, and everybody will be happier.  

If you're willing, your kids can help you with a surprising amount of the process.  And when you take the time to teach them some techniques--like how to level the scoop, how to tap the ingredients out on the edge of the bowl, how to use tools properly--it works well to have them more and more involved, with less and less mess.  






Today, Lewis helps by unwrapping the butter...





...and "chopping" the white chocolate wafers into chunks.  Actually, this is really hard work, even for me, but why not give him a shot at it, right?  There's some good pounding action happening here :0)



















And then, of course, enjoy a little white chocolate snack!


















Lewis is in charge of turning the mixer on and off.  He practices speeding it up by just the right number of clicks.  We start slow, and add speed as the ingredients get better mixed. 





 


He's learning the names of different tools, like the scraper spatula--and how to do things like "scraping down the sides."  Again, mommy still takes a turn after him, but he's able to make some progress with it.







            Measure...                                  ...add...                                 ...mix.

Combine the dry with the wet ingredients, more mixing, more scraping down, and finally fold in the chips and craisins.  And then, the reward: 


It takes a lot of concentration to wrap that tongue around a batter-y mixing paddle <3

And cleanup.  There will always be more cleanup with your kiddos than without.  But by now, Lewis can clean himself up (mostly).  And look at that: I did sweep up the white chocolate dust that got spilled between the chopper and the bowl.  But honestly, those few oats?  I make that much on my own!  Lewis is getting pretty good.

Meanwhile, this Sweetness jolly-jumped himself right to sleep.  Up to bed with him.  And in 12 minutes, we'll enjoy some cookies! Woohoo!




Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hail the New, Ye Lads and Lasses

Fast away the old year passes, truly!  And it is good to stop, even for a few minutes, to reflect on what has passed, and what may come.  Because without that reflection, we so easily fall into the category that goes something like, "You do the ________, and I'll do all the rushin' around."  

I have a vague but growing concept of how much "rushin' around" I'm doing, without much intention.  And I want that to change.  

I want to be strong and healthy and trim again.  And I've been invited to run in this summer's Boilermaker.  But that (for me) is an enormous commitment; I'm not sure it will happen.  I did remove the coffee table from the middle of my living room, to encourage myself to actually use the new exercise DVD.  I haven't downloaded its accompanying workout calendar yet.  So I have good intentions, but the proof is in the pudding, not the recipe.  

I want to feed my family healthy fare, increasing our fruits and veggies, decreasing our sugars and snacks.  Unfortunately, I have this apparent inability to moderate myself.  If there's something sweet at hand, I will eat it.  And a lot of it.  And I'm not willing to totally give up sweets, like a pre-Passover leaven sweep of my sugary pantry.  So the vicious cycle continues.  I want that to change.  

I want to pay more attention to my children while I have them.  A big part of my rushin' around is checking Facebook compulsively, and way too much time gets wasted.  Yes, you matter to me, but checking in with your digital lives should never be more important than my child desiring my attention, my company, my intentional time--and my behavior would indicate that digital life reigns.  That has to change.  

That inability to moderate myself affects my whole personality, not just what I eat.  It affects how I use Facebook.  And so, starting tomorrow morning, I'm taking a one-week Facebook fast.  One week doesn't seem like much.  But really, to be honest, I expect it's going to be kind of a big deal to me.  It's going to be hard.  But if I keep being honest, and don't try to cheat or fill up all that time with some other stupid pursuit, but actually use that time for relationship (with my God, with my children, with my stack of New Years letters to send to friends), a Facebook fast has the potential to be revolutionary for this one week.  I would like to say that my new normal will be Facebook only on Sunday afternoons, and suddenly I will be much more present with my real life.  But, you know, the proof is in the pudding.  I'll see how this week goes, and accomplish a small hard thing before declaring I'm going to conquer a big hard thing.  

This next line doesn't quite flow well with the rest of my post.  But it is the heart and soul of the matter, and the more I invest myself in pursuing the face of God, the better all my other good intentions will automatically be!  So here, this, this is the heart of the matter:

I don't really want a "new year, new me" resolution for 2016.  What I need, and what I want, is a "less me, more You" resolution revolution.  

Cheers to that!