What Does “Peace on Earth” Look Like?

A few days ago my daughter Mackenzie asked if I would help her on an assignment in her online guitar class. Now this doesn’t happen often, because she is the expert in music not me!

The assignment taught some basic guitar skills along with reading music. I whizzed through the instructions quickly assuming Mackenzie understood those things and just needed help understanding how she was supposed to put it all together.

That’s when she told me “Everyone thinks because I’ve been playing guitar for a long time that I know how to read music but I don’t. No one taught me that at the beginning. I just started out just learning the chords and not the individual string/note names.”

That kinda amazed me but looking back, it was true!

Well the devotional I read today in My Utmost for His Highest reminded me of this conversation and how we can do the same thing spiritually, especially during the Christmas season.

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What Scares Me about being Vulnerable

Have you ever woken your kids up by turning on the light in their room?

It’s kinda funny isn’t it?!

They immediately make a face and pull the covers over their head moaning, “MOM, turn the light offfff!!”

That’s what I thought of yesterday at church when the Pastor spoke on accountability. He said being in an accountable relationship means being honest, vulnerable, available and teachable.

It caused me to reflect. The times I’ve been most vulnerable and honest are also the times I have been most wounded by those I called my friends. As I look back at those times, that “rejection” has caused me to temper how vulnerable and honest I am.

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The Unexpected Journey

We have been on strange and unexpected church journey for almost 10 years now. We’ve experienced church in so many forms with so many different kinds of people ranging from home church to Church of Christ to Assembly, to Non-Denominational. Honestly my heart has forgotten what it feels like to be in a church home.

Regardless of what it looks like on the outside, on the inside Adam and I have done our best to follow where Jesus is going. For us, following Him requires movement. And sometimes it looks like we’re wishy washy and wandering, trying to find something perfect, but in reality we are just following where Jesus leads us.

Looking back, I see God has taught me something through this unexpected journey…

I am an achiever. Put a goal in front of me and I can’t sleep until I crush it! A couple of years ago someone introduced me to the Enneagram. It has helped me accept my personality and understand the warning signs of when I’m over doing it and moving into an unhealthy range. Mostly it’s shown me God’s amazing grace – for it’s only by that grace I am a whole person today!

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The Unexpected Change of Plans

Recently we had an unexpected change of plans.

And they were BIG plans to me. I’d call them anchor plans of the day, what we planned other things around.

Then, 20 minutes before the expected start time, someone called and cancelled due to events totally out of their control.

And I can’t lie… I was bummed. Frustrated. Even a touch mad.

My thoughts sounded like, Are you serious? Do they know we planned our whole day around this?! Don’t they care? I wish I known this yesterday!

It was all about me!

In reality this other party was probably feeling the same. Their plans had also been interrupted. And they were torn with how to handle it. But I didn’t look at it from that angle.

I tried to sound understanding on the phone and say it was OK and we’d happily reschedule! But I also tried to leave one note of my true feelings in my voice, hoping they get the drift I wasn’t real happy about it.

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The Unprepared Host

Have you ever noticed it’s not always what people say that makes an impact but what they don’t say? Some may call it reading between the lines, but often what’s not spoken can give perspective and context to what is spoken.

Jesus is a Master at this…

Last Sunday morning I read John 6, which is such a familiar passage to me I almost skipped over it all together. It’s one the kids have dressed up and reenacted with picnic baskets, red tablecloths, furry beanie babies and colorful plastic food. It’s the story of Jesus feeding the 5 thousand.

Scripture tells me that the words contained in Genesis through Revelation are living words. They are inspired words from God. If they weren’t, they’d be like a book on the bookshelf – a story I’ve already read and don’t really want to read again because I know what’s going to happen next. But the Bible isn’t like that to me. It’s like a fresh water stream. Each time I read, I see a new perspective, a new detail and it’s fresh information again!

That’s what happened to me with this “children’s” story. All of a sudden I didn’t just see the characters interacting with one another and the lines I almost have memorized. I saw Jesus interacting with people He cared about. Friends. This was an intentional time with those men and it was intentionally recorded for me to read.

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Marble Sized Troubles

For 3 nights in a row I couldn’t get to sleep. I tossed. I turned. Kicked off the covers. Looked at the clock.

Finally I decided to get up and quietly saunter into our office area, without disturbing my able to sleep husband.

I sat in my new favorite chair, opened my Bible and prayed. “Lord. Here I am. Speak.”

I turned to one of my favorites books when I don’t know what else to read – the Psalms. Starting in chapter 9 I read “I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders, I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High…”

Instantly and gently it’s like the Lord sat next to me and reminded me how I praise Him through writing. Writing my journey through the ups and downs of life is how I process what God’s teaching me and praise all He’s done. And I haven’t really been doing it.

So here I am.

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Wait….Marriage Isn’t Supposed to Make Me Happy?

Recently, the Lord showed me a freeing revelation. One that I think is worth sharing. So here goes…

It started at Bible Study last week – the one I haven’t been to since November and was wondering if it was worth going to because I’ve missed so many weeks and chapters!

But I went… and may have listened to the last few minutes of the chapter on Audible as I drove.

Marriage happened to be the topic of the night. A topic I’m not currently struggling with and didn’t come with any deep message to share or heavy question to ask.

But the Lord had something to share with me. One of the stories in the book was about a couple who struggled in their marriage. The woman had filed for divorce. Before it was final, she received a letter from a widowed friend saying humble yourself. She decided to try it. The more she willingly humbled herself the more she grew to love her husband and saw him as a wonderful man. She actually enjoyed being his wife. Then, close to Christmas, he died.

I don’t know if it was sudden or expected but she was thankful for the restoration God had brought in her marriage! She had no regrets. (Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free pages 189-190)

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Making Time for Special Things

One of my goals this year is to do things that are special. And by special I mean those things that when I do them, time stops. I can’t tell if 5 minutes or 5 hours have gone by.

When I make these special things a priority, I feel an increased capacity to deal with the daily problems. Whether it’s figuring out how to diagram direct objects or explaining how to reduce fractions, somehow I have more to give than when I chased getting all the things done and pushed off doing my special thing until the work was done.

I often think of the verse in Hebrews that says, ”…He [Jesus] sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 10:12) When Jesus finished his work, He sat down. I try to emulate that and not sit down till I’m finished. The problem is, I’m never finished. There are always more dishes to wash – or unload, more clothes to wash – or fold – or put away – or what’s that called – iron?! There’s always more I think I need to do.

Finding time to do special things feels like a reward I need to earn and so it gets pushed back to tomorrow, and tomorrow and next Wednesday, and when I can do a better job, be more organized, not have so much going on, when the kids aren’t toddlers, or teenagers, when I’m not tired, when I don’t have to wash my hair…

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Sometimes I Want to Quit

It happens every time I take a break.

I want to quit.

I want to quit homeschooling.

And this Christmas holiday was no different. There’s something about unplugging that makes me realize how run down I was before. I slid into the holidays feeling like Elastigirl from The Incredibles – stretched thin on all sides while playing the superhero and preventing anything or anyone from hitting the ground.

I usually keep everyone else together while afterwards, I curl up in a ball and lock myself away in a dark room dreading the idea of going back to reality now that I know what peace and sanity feel like.

In times like this, I always place the blame at the feet of homeschooling, because obviously it takes up the biggest chunk of time and energy. It must be to blame!

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Grief and the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. But when you’ve lost a loved one, grief can grip even the jolliest of moods.

Here’s my story:

There we were, circled up to give thanks just as we did seven years ago. The turkey was carved by the oven with care, in hopes that our family soon would be there.

But this year two special seats were empty at our table. As my dad led a short devotional about the source of our Thanksgiving, my eyes started to blur.

How can I be overcome with thanksgiving and sadness at the same time? Like paper clips strung together, memories flashed one by one through my mind and a few tears slipped down my cheek.

The strong man’s hand I used to hold, and the meek woman’s hand that would hold me were missing.

My grandparents.

Please finish reading this story over at East Texas Moms Blog.… and discover how you can grieve with hope this Christmas!