Saturday, November 9, 2013


It is fitting that I am writing an entry entitled "Camouflage" on a morning started by a very early call from a very excited hunter:  my youngest son. I am not a hunter, so the school-girl-giddy sounds coming through the phone at 6 am would have been more appreciated by the mama a little later on in the day.  (I'll have some fallout from the school-girl comment, but I speak the truth.)

We all know the hunter, as well as the soldier, rely on camouflage to help them remain unseen. Your typical Christian in the 21st Century, on the other hand, loves to be noticed. And herein lies one of our biggest problems.

I grew up in life - and in God - thinking that the better I was, the smarter I was, the funnier I was, the wittier I was, the sharper I was...well, the better people magnet I would be. For the Lord, of course.

Please don't think I'm tapping into false humility or self-depreciation here, I'm just being honest when I say I'm slow when it comes to grasping the true nature of God. Real slow.

We would do well to take our cues form the hunter and the soldier. We would do well to cover ourselves in the best camo we can muster.

You see, when life happens to us...sickness, death of a loved one, betrayal, injury, discouragement, disappointment...we think our edge is blown-up. We can't be any good for Christ now. Who would want to be like us? We're weak. We're done.

As we are prone to do as humans, we habitually ask the wrong questions. "Why, God?" "Did God really say that? "Am I still of any use to God?"

It's not you. It's not me. It's not your favorite Christian singer or TV preacher. It never has been. Never will be.

It's Jesus. Always has been. Always will be. "To them God has chosen to make known...the riches of this mystery...CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY." Colossians 1:27. Those of you who have known me or my writing for a while know that I'm all about this: Christians aren't better. They're not just forgiven (can I say I hate those bumper stickers?!)...they're just like non-Christians, except for the fact that THEY HAVE HOPE. They...we...I...have Christ in me.

So in the woods of this dark and uncharted world, on the battlefields of this life, I need to make sure I can't be seen. That I'm undercover. That the only thing anyone can see when they hear a twig snap in my life, or the enemy firing on me, is Jesus. There may be a frustrated hunter or wounded soldier in their vicinity, but the hope of Christ should be so prevalent that all else fades from view.

I am going to borrow from my favorite of devotionalists today...the late Oswald Chambers:
"When we say, 'What a wonderful personality, what a fascinating person, and what wonderful insight!' then what opportunity does the gospel of God have through all of that? It cannot get through, because the attraction is to the messenger and not the message."

Be encouraged to know that it isn't, never has been and never will be you who shines for Christ. It's Christ Who shines for you.

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord..." II Corinthians 4:5. 

Aren't you glad? Camo-up!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Barkers & Biters

Yes, I’m giving a little nod to the age-old saying. Typically referring to a canine friend, we do – on occasion - attach this idiom to human behavior.

And that’s what I’m doing right now. You see, I’m a barker, but I need to be more of a biter.

As Christ-followers, many of us – especially those of us who are somewhat well versed in the Bible – can spout the truth with the best of ’em. We memorize it, quote it, use it to comfort others and to confront others.  We’re like little, super Bible-quizzers ready for a meet. We think.

But, here’s an issue that same “many” of us face: when a big “meet” in life comes…a test, a trial...we’re often all bark and no bite.

We proclaim the promises of God with our mouths, but way less often with our lives.

I love to share with a hurting friend from Lamentations 3:22-24: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions NEVER fail. They are new EVERY morning; great is your faithfulness.” I remind others that, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” 

But, when I face something I don’t like? You know what I say? It’s typically not Lamentations 3:22-24, the NIV version. It’s more like this…

“Lord, don’t you love me?! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m being consumed here! Don’t you see how hurt I am? I wake up every morning and feel like I have a little rain cloud hanging over my head.  Where are you?! I’m tired of waiting! I need help NOW!” (This is why my KyV version of the Bible is not flying off the shelves at your local Christian book retailer.)

Oh, human girl with a doubting mind, rebellious bones, a harried heart and…a toothless bite.

I’m not going to get too mystical on anyone…but, there is evil and it has a name. There is a devil. Satan. He hates God, so he hates God’s children. (I personally know some people who do scoff at the idea of God, Heaven, Satan and Hell…but, these are also my same friends who believe that Lady Gaga is truth, the Beatles are bigger than Jesus, and that marijuana magically helps them do their best thinking, so I don’t get too worried about “freak-out fall-out.” And you know I still love you all!)

So, this Satan…he’s been wreaking as much havoc as possible since the Garden of Eden. Where another toothless gal, tried her hand at biting the wrong thing, gummed an apple full of lies, and then wound up getting herself and her hubby kicked out of the most perfect place on earth.

“Did God really say you couldn’t eat the fruit?” We all read the story and bark, “Run, dumb Eve! God DID say that! I just read it! He did! What’s the matter with you?!”

What we really should be saying is…”Not only are you barking up the wrong tree, you’re biting the wrong thing…with no teeth!”

The next time you hear some snake-like hiss, “Did God really say he would be faithful? I mean, in this situation? It’s pretty bad. You may have contributed to it. You may not be worthy of help,” please waste no time munching on that crab apple.

You need to put your spiritual dentures in.  Chew on God’s promises, please your palate with His peace, savor His comfort…then loaded down with a lunch box full of truth and love that never fails, let your light devour the darkness.

Go, be spiritual Pac Men and Women! Let’s get to chompin’. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

40 Years Should Do It

40 years sounds like a long time. Most of my readers haven't even lived for 40 years, yet. I'm sure all of my readers can't believe that I have. (Cue: eye roll.)

So, not many days ago, I entered my 47th year of life. (Cue: gulp!) I share my birth date with "National Talk Like a Pirate Day." I also teach middle schoolers, which provides a great opportunity to combine the celebrations. It's like "National Talk Like Mrs. Weaver Talking Like a Pirate Day." We eat Chips Ahoy cookies & do pirate-y word games & such. It's the bomb.


My point today...40 years. 40 is a recurring number in the Bible, but I've been thinking a lot about the 40 years those crazy, Hebrew children wandered around in the desert. 

God miraculously leads them out of slavery. They are miraculously led & fed. Yet, they complain. They doubt. They don’t trust.

God miraculously came into my life a little over 40 years ago, at a kids' crusade. A somewhat creepy, but mesmerizing puppet explained to me how the big, Creator of All could actually come live in my heart. Miraculously free me from my slavery to sin. Save me from an eternity in a very scary place. I was in! 

Who says creepy puppets are all bad?

But, since then? Um, well, as long as much of my extremely blessed & smooth sailing life as been all that...I've been awesome! If I hit rough waters? Well, even in the midst of God miraculously caring for me, providing for me, leading me via His Word...I complain. I whine. I worry. I don't trust. 

In essence, I want to "go back" I want "to quit." 

Frankly, I'm exhausted. Not from the battles...but, from battling the wrong way. 

Wait. Maybe from “battling” at all. The wandering Hebrew kids didn’t have to battle for manna…they just had to gather it. They didn’t battle for light to lead their way…they just had to follow it.

Why does trusting a good, loving, faithful Father of a God seem to be more difficult and unappealing to us than going back to a life that didn’t have Him at all? A spiritually fatherless life in slavery?

Well, I’m done. I don’t need no stinkin’ puppet to tell me what I need to do. Especially a creepy one.

40 years is long enough. No more messin' in the desert. God has eliminated all the guess work...the "what if's"...the battling...all of it. 

God has been faithful. In times, both good and bad, He provides.

So, 40 years is long enough.

I’m tired of not trusting God, then going around doing things my own, messed up way. I’m not going back.

Let’s grab our baskets and dig out some manna recipes. Who's with me?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Isn't it Ironic?

Um, actually...

"Ironic" defined:  "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result."

So, can life be ironic? Not with God.

I used to love to reference irony. I'm an English teacher, for crying out loud. Countless times, in both pleasure & pain, I've been the one shaking her head, muttering, "Well, isn't that ironic?"

But, Lesson #521 from the Summer of Suffering (don't feel sad for me, this is how I grow!) is that what God does is never, ever "ironic."

You see, while we may expect or want one thing...& we end up with just the opposite...God knows what He wants & what He will produce, from the word "go."

He is not surprised. He is not taken off guard. He is not amused.  He is most certainly not bemused. He is God. He knows what He wants. He knows what He's doing. He knows what I need.

So, from what I am now able to somewhat, light-heartedly refer to as my "SOS," I am throwing "irony" out of my spiritual vocabulary.

You see, nothing is "incongruent" between what God expects & what actually happens. Do people have free will & still screw up? Yes.  But, even this is not a surprise to God. He knows long before people fail, hurt, hurt others...all with that darned free will. He knows, therefore He plans & produces a way to bring goodness & glory, in spite of the humanness.

So, here I am. Counting God's blessings today...realizing the workings of His hand in the middle of the muddle. Appreciating His might in the mess. Resting in the fact He brings produce from the pain.

Feeling things are turning out far from planned? In-congruent? Ironic?

Remember Who our Father is. His plan & what He produces always correspond...are always congruent.

Today, I purpose to not shake my head back & forth at what human thinking deems "ironic," but rather, nod it up & down at the assurance that nothing ever surprises my Father.

He's got us, friends! So, let the blessed bobble heading begin!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Life is Like a Layover

I've been traveling some this summer and when I'm's just pure, chaotic, catch-up.  But, before I throw another load of clothes in, run to Wal-Mart, and stop by the dry cleaner...I just have a brief thought to share.

Layover. That's the thought.

Seriously, maybe that will be a future book title for me:  "Life is Like a Layover."  It so is.

I looked around the airport the other day and was struck by the fact that so much of life was represented in one place.

People elated and snapping pictures as a loved one walked off the plane.  People with teary eyes, wandering like zombies toward a gate that would lead to a ramp that would lead to a plane that would lead to a funeral.

Life is a layover. Thank God. It is temporary. The tears, the trials, the triumphs. Gone in a flash.

Be mindful of those around you in the "airport."  Humanity...happy, hurting, hopeful, hopeless. We should share the joys and the tears. Come alongside one another, no matter what the circumstances. Offer to carry that extra heavy suitcase.

I Corinthians 5:1-6:  "5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord."
Okay, maybe camping would have been a better analogy here, with the mention of tents and all. But, I think we all get it...we are in our temporary home. We are not in our true home, yet. We're experiencing a layover.
It's easy to walk through life's airports, thinking only of ourselves. We're in a hurry to catch the next "flight," escape a crisis, embrace a thrill, take a vacation. While we're running from concourse to concourse, we have to remember that it's all temporary...and the only thing we get to take on the final trip home is those around us.  

Look around the gate you're at today...who can you rejoice with? Who can you cry with? Who needs some help with their life's luggage? As long as you've got're experiencing a layover. May we all take out the headphones, get off the laptop, get out of the coffee line...and look around us.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dog Days

I sure hope Florence and her Machine know what they're talking about. Anyone else feel stagnant? Lethargic? I'm blaming it on the "dog days."

Typically, we reserve that title for the sultry, uncomfortably warm days from early July to sometime in September...well, at least in the part of the US in which I currently live. But, the term also lends itself to "a period marked by inactivity."

I'm going to go with two thoughts here today.  And trust me...they're hot.

First, I have been doggin' it this summer. Or, maybe - more appropriately -  "dodgin''" it. Allowing anything uncomfortable to often deter me from doing what I need to be doing.  From being productive. Definitely inactive. A couple of summers ago, God allowed skunks to take residence under my house to remind me of all of the things we become distracted by in life.  So, you'd think I would remember that stench...and know better.

We are so "feelings-driven."  "I don't feel like doing it." "I don't like that."  "I don't love them."  "I'm too angry to forgive."  "I'm too hurt to move on." "I'm too tired to do the laundry." (I use that last one a lot.) And tired is not just an emotion...I am aware it can absolutely be a physical state. But, still...

Darned emotions. Dirty dogs. Grrr.

Second, I hate the heat.  Physically and spiritually.  Even though I grew up and have lived in more than one geographical location where temps and humidity often soar...I hate it.  When people talk beaches...I chime in about how much I love them. But, not the kind most adore. I wistfully long for a beach on the Oregon Coast with its gray skies and cold waves crashing up against the rocks.  Me on a blanket, wearing a fleece jacket...sipping on cocoa.  I've tried to talk my husband into moving to Alaska on more than one occasion during our 26 years together.  I'm that girl.

Anyway...I also dislike spiritual heat.  I mean, we all hate the thought of hell...but, that's not what I'm referring to. I'm talking about the heat that refines us.  The heat that causes the impurities to rise to the top.

As much as it makes me want to lethargic...take a much as it makes me uncomfortable...I need the heat.  The "dog days" are the proving ground of my faith.

God uses heat - or fire - to speak to His people all throughout the Old Testament.  For real. Here's just one example:

"You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire." Deuteronomy 4:35-36.

God uses heat - or fire - to speak to His people in the New Testament. Here's just one example:

"If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work.  If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward."  I Corinthians 3:12-14.

Wow.  That's like the perfect Dog Days' verse.  The "day" will bring it to light...the fire will reveal...the quality of each person's work. What I really believe. How strong my faith in Christ truly is. And survival equals reward.

And the the biggest hope in these warm days...

"But now, this is what the Lord says- he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel:' Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God,'"  Isaiah 43:1-3

It gets uncomfortable at times.  A little heated.  But, He is with us.  
And if we trust that He is...when these doggish days are over...we will shine.  Who knows? Maybe others will see us shining just a little bit, right in the middle of 'em.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Christian Wart Club

You may not have heard of this organization...but, it's huge.  And at times, I'm pretty sure I've been Member-of-the-Year.  Maybe of the Century.

I worry. I confess.  I say, "No, I'm just concerned,"  or "No, I'm just being realistic."  That's what I say.  I say a lot of junk.

Thank God that I most often read His Word before I try to pass anything along to you.  This so keeps you from getting the brunt of my junk.

So, this morning...I'm praying. Well, I'm whining to God. I'm worried. I'm all, "God, if You don't show up in this situation or that situation...well, what will people think?  They won't see Your glory.  They won't see that Christians win...or are successful...or are amazing."

I don't know what your Bible weighs, but mine feels like 182 pounds when it lands up side of my head.

This is what God said to me today. Clearly.

"You worry about what people think. I worry about people."

Make that 382 pounds.

Okay, let's really put "concern" where we have "worry." We know God doesn't worry and doesn't approve of worry.  But, He is loving and compassionate and concerned.

We can either walk around being concerned about people's thoughts or actions or words...or we can walk around being concerned about people.  We can continue to be concerned about how other people can hurt, abuse, slander or use us...or we can begin to just be concerned about people.

If I'm really all about my spreading the Good News of the cool hope one can have in Christ...I probably should stop being such a wart. Who wants those? What purpose do they serve?  And, side note, they're gross.

If I am concerned about the things God is concerned about...I will stop worrying altogether.  I will see everything in an opportunity to somehow love people and reconcile them to the Father.

I'm cutting up my CWC card right now.

Who's with me?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Finding Mighty in the Messy

Here are two of my boy-men cleaning through some of their junk a month or so ago. It was my belated Mother's Day gift.

When they were growing up, all I ever asked for on Mother's Day was "no fighting." Now that they're grown up, all I ask for is that they retrieve the "treasures" that are too valuable to throw away...but, not quite valuable enough for them to lovingly store or display in their own abodes.

For those of you about to weep at the thought of me holding a trash bag and yelling at my offspring to pitch their first pair of baby shoes...relax.  I've got the shoes, locks of hair and tiny little "home from the hospital" outfits tucked away in the cedar chest. I think...

Anyway, we're not talking baby shoes.  We're talking size 13 shoe.  Track shoe, to be exact...and ONE, at that. And, no offense, but it's not like the kid wore it in the Olympics. And, possible offense, son, go buy an Odor Eater (you'll only need one) reeks.

So, I trudge upstairs and this is what I find.  Two men, lingering over an array of camp pictures from 2003. And the occasional Lego head. That they've been looking for since 2003.

I couldn't get mad at their progress...or lack thereof.  You see, in the middle of that room, in the middle of that floor, in the middle of that laughing, men-children were sharing mighty moments.

Epiphany. I'm not going to get all "life is like a box of chocolates." I wish. Chocolates - even the ones with the disgusting coconut filling - would be a lot better than what life is really like.  I'm going to get all "life is like a junk drawer."  Probably won't get stitched on a pillow or framed on the wall of a Brookstone.

But, it's true.  Life is full of junk.  Man made it that way. It's so not God's fault.  But, what is God's doing is the mighty things we find in the holder of so much messy.

If you have been journeying with me for even just a little know I serve the same God I've always served...but, have definitely changed my thinking about how He works.  And it's been a very, very good thing.

Asking Him in to control my life has not - and while I live as a human - never will give me a perfect life.  I just get a mighty, perfect God at the helm of a mighty, messy existence.

Guess what?  The junk drawer those two were supposed to be eliminating is still looking pretty iffy.  But, when I open it now - in their absence - I see the mighty.

Mementos...reminders...testimonies of messy lives invaded by a mighty God.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When in the Den

I'm not talking scout troop. Den mother. That sort of thing.

I'm talking those dens we all find ourselves in from time to time.  As parents, as couples, as families, as friends, as humans.  "Places" we are thrown into...that may just be inhabited not so "friendlies."

I love this picture.  I have a series of them, with each of my three boys playing the part of Daniel in the famous Bible story.  The one set in a den of starving, raging lions. Not know for their gracious hospitality.

The older boys really nailed it.  On their knees, sincerely appearing to be in prayer.

The baby. Not so much. Daniel probably didn't have a cute, mischievous grin on his face.

Or, did he?

I came across this stray photo in the middle of a five-day period in which I've been reading Daniel, chapters 3 & 6, each and every day.  Not because I want to...but, because I desperately need to.

I used to think that being a great Christian would eventually mean my life would not only get easier...but, better looking.  That's why other people would want to know Christ...because if I was fabulous, when people noticed my fabulousness, I would obviously point to Heaven and then...THEN, everyone around me would want what I had. Jesus and fabulousness. Boom.

The only thing I'm finding as I get dog, human and Christian that life gets messier, but God gets mightier.

Sometimes, I get thrown in a pit, like Joseph.  Or a prison, like Paul. Or a cave, like David. And sometimes it's a consequence for some stupidity on my part. But, most times, it's from just living in a messy world. It rains on the just and the unjust down here on earth. The just and the unjust can both wind up in dens.

Now that we're all depressed...the good stuff is coming!

Here's me:  "God!! Seriously?! Don't let that spineless king throw me in a den of beasts! You can make that not happen. You're God! Come on! No lion's den! I'll give You the glory! Promise!"

Oh, here's another one from me:  "Lord!! If You're allowing me to be thrown in a den, then at least send the lions away! Get rid of them! I can camp out in an empty den for a day or two.  It might even be like a nice, little prayer retreat for the two of us. Just You and me. No lions."

Here's God:  "Oh, girl! If I save you from being thrown in at can take the credit. 'Wasn't the king so merciful?' I might not get the glory."

And:  "Child! If I make the lions disappear...again, man can reason a 'why.' Man can say, 'The lions heard something in the distance and were spooked.' 'That pride just got back from a big hunt.  They weren't hungry.'  I might not get the glory."

Here it comes. "But, if I allow you to be thrown in with starving, raging lions...who see you as a fine meal...and I shut their mouths? Reason that one away. Man can't get the glory. Glory to Me. Boom."

I don't know if God says, "boom," but if Anyone has the right's Him.

I still wish there were no dens, pits, prisons or caves.  I still wish I was just fabulous...all of the time.

But, I don't wish those things more than I wish to see the undeniable, unflappable, unstoppable, irrefutable, miraculous wonders of God.  The kind that make a fellow earth dweller, facing his or her own messes, stop and say, "Look at her.  She was in a den. With lions. She didn't look too good while being thrown in, either.  But, I remember her saying something about trusting God to help her...and look, she's survived the lions. I want that."

For those of you feeling led into an unknown you may or may not have chosen...remember, it is only unknown to you.

He is ahead of you, and He's got the lions under control.

So, maybe Daniel was grinning, after all.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Done Praying Things "Away"

It’s true.  I’m done.  If you added it all up, I’ve spent hours, days…maybe months (I’m not that young, you know) praying things away.

“God, take away my temptation! Make it go away!”

“Dear Lord in Heaven! You know my co-worker is hateful, make her hateful attitude disappear!”

“Sweet Jesus! Please, please, please take the pain away!”

Okay. Before everyone in the theological world (and I’m thinking not a ton of those people read my blog) go ballistic…I believe God can take anything away.  I also believe in the power He has to heal.  I’m one of those Holy Rollers.  God can do anything He wants.

But, when we pray for more of Him…well, can things that aren’t of Him truly stick around?


Has God taken my temptation?  Well, I sure have less in certain areas of my life than I used to.  Has God healed relationships with my co-workers or friends?  Sure.  Has He healed me before?  Miraculously. Goose bump stories, for real.

But, something I’ve been noticing is that even when He seems to “take things away,” I’m no more prepared to face the next bad thing that comes my way than I was before. And it’s not God’s fault. It’s mine.

You see, I’ve been praying all wrong.

Sure, I say things like, “Use this for Your glory, Lord.” But, what I’m really saying is, “Please make everything perfect – like I think it should be – and then I’ll be able to give you praise for all to see...with my fabulous life!” Ugh.

Look what I ran across last night…in my Bible.  Of all places. Good stuff. Go figure.

Paul says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” Colossians 4:2-4.

Oh, boy.  Paul prayed for an open door for the message of the mystery of Christ. That supernatural love, forgiveness, power.  Notice he never once asked for anyone to pray that his chains would go away.

Con. Vic. Tion.

We all know, but hate to admit, that our icky life moments are when God shows up biggest and brightest.  The problem is that most of us would rather He just make everything perfect so that we could say to the world, “Look, I’m not in chains.  I’m living the easy life! Live for Christ and things are super!”

Paul was more concerned with doing God’s will. Paul was more concerned with God adding to him the strength he needed to deal with chains so that the Gospel could go forth…than he was with the chains disappearing.   

Paul knew God could use chains.

I love the good times. I could live on the mountain.  But, it will rain on all of us.  More than once.   There are those of us who experience frequent monsoons.

Some of the sin pulls I have will probably be jockeying for position in my life until the day I die.  But, if I’m praying for God’s open doors, His grace, His love, His power…those sin pulls will be pushed to the back corner of my heart’s room each and every time. And I do believe, there are times they are pushed out altogether.  No more room.

Some people will rub me the wrong way…all the days of my life.  But, if I’m praying for more of God’s grace in my life…and in theirs…well, how can human attitudes top that?

Some illnesses will wreck our mortal bodies…and all of us (let me channel my best Sunday School teacher voice here) “unless the Lord comes back first!” will succumb to death.  But, from the moment we asked God to come into our earthly lives…and yes, take away our sins…He began to build an eternal home for us.

We do ask for Him to take away our sins.  But, again…we also ask Him into our hearts.  We add Him. Can sin stay where He dwells?

I know this may seem like semantics.  So be it.

But, today…I’m going to focus less on the chains and more on the open door.

Are you praying for subtraction...or addition? Are you asking for the chains to go…or for the open doors to come?

Monday, June 17, 2013

All the Kings Horses & All the Kings Men

This picture is exactly what it looks like. It's pretty hilarious.


Oldest, compliant child...always trying to please.  Middle child, just simply being a toddler, while mom tries to "reason" with him.  Baby crying...well, that's often typical of babies, regardless.  Young mom not wanting to make anyone upset, so basically doing nothing. She's doing a fabulous job of that, by the way. Husband, frustrated at the lack of support the wife is giving, as he tries to actually parent.

Broken, people.  Messed up.  And news flash...we all are, or have been, or possibly will be again.

We are born into a messed up world. The world is broken. Eden was perfect. We broke it.

So, even when we're given awesome things in life...we have a tendency to break them.

But, the really dumb part?  We try to "fix."

When I face trouble, my basic, fleshly tendency is to "fix." I run to horses and humans. Horses?  I see horses as what I think could or should happen.  My thinking...what's in my figurative stable, or imaginary warehouse of knowledge and expertise.  Sad, I know. "Okay, if I just do this...yes, that's it. Fix!" And humans?  "What would my Aunt Gertie do in this situation?" or, "I just saw this on Dr. Phil...what did he say?"

We should seek wise counsel...but, truly wise counsel will always direct you to even wiser counsel.  And that's where the real fix steps in.

We all know the old nursery rhyme.  We all know that Humpty Dumpty couldn't be fixed by all of the king's horses or his men.

But, what about the king?  I mean, I don't remember anything about him.  Did Humpty ever call out to the king?

Okay, it may sound silly framed within a child's game. But, hang on.  Why do I run to the King's creation and not to the King?  Why do I not think the One Who crafted the very universe, my body, loved me enough to send His only Son...why do I not realize that He would be the ultimate fixer?


To add insult to my own self-inflicted injury, it's been in the Bible for ages.
Isaiah 31:1,"Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord." 

In a day of social media, it's like we get Christmas letters from one another each and every day. You know what I'm talking about. Perfect days, perfect families, blah, blah, blah. For those of you feeling's tough. I've been on both sides...perfect looking days...broken days.  Please hold on, I am going to get to some hope for all...

So, we're broken, people.  Broken world. Broken. Broken. Broken.

But, when we remember that long ago, there was a King.  He made a perfect world for His children.  His children broke it. The King knew his horses and men could never fix it.  He knew there was only one fix...and it was all on Him.  He sent His one, perfect, unbroken pay for the messes all of His other kids made. 

He broke the One child Who didn't deserve it...for all of us who did.  And do.  And will. 

So, I'm broken. I said it. Cat's out of the pretty, little, velvet bag. Yes, a new creature in Christ...but, scars from this life are at times more visible than others, and mostly, I am happy to say that I can look at them with peace. 
Peace?  Peace.
Because when the harried young families, depressed middle aged woman, lonely old man, victimized teen or any lost soul stops looking for the fix and finally looks to the Fixer...peace enters the picture.
When I share victories from my's because the King has fixed us.  When I share from a broken's because I have peace that surpasses understanding...knowing that the King has fixed us. Has. Meaning...He has already provided everything we need...if we will just accept it.
Psalm 20:7, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."

May we be able to accept it all. The fact we're broken. The fact we can be fixed. Just not by ourselves...horses, chariots or men.

We sit on walls we shouldn't.  We fall far and hard.

Unlike thankful we can be put back together again. My husband and I run to the King, and have to decide to do so whenever we face any sort of "break." We all do. To say otherwise is to lie. And we're all tired of those.

It's a new week. New challenges. Old heartaches. New joys. Old reminders.

It's a new week.  Same King.  Let's trust Him together. He can fix anything.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Worst Hypocrisy

I'm pretty transparent.  I put my flaws out there before anyone else has time to point them out for me.

However, lately...well, you haven't heard from me because...I've succumbed to the worst kind of hypocrisy.

We all know what a hypocrite is.  We maybe have known one...we most likely have been one.

For the past few months, I've let my typically transparent form of encouraging others be overtaken by this sort of thinking:  "Is it really right to think I have something to 'say' or believe I can help others when I have so many issues in my own life?  Isn't that hypocritical?"

I've had what I call "shell" days off and on my entire existence.  Not days at the beach. Days in which I've felt like a shell of a human being.  One foot in front of the other. Step, step, step...sigh. I haven't "felt" it or thought I "looked" it, so I've not "shared" it.

Shared what?  My hope.

For you see, when Shell KyAnne thinks she's the one stepping, it's not - and never has been - her doing the stepping.

Before you go thinking I'm about to copy and paste the "Footprints" poem here...hang with me.

I'm always "referring" to hope.  Hope is all that sets us apart from people who have yet to enter into a true relationship with Jesus Christ.  And not the golden-haired, blue-eyed, serene-looking guy on the wall in the fellowship hall at your granny's church.  The broken-hearted, broken-bodied, filled-with-so-much-love-and-desire-for-you guy, who hung on a cross for all of that junk that makes you feel like a shell. That Jesus.

So, even in my darkest times...I'm still stepping.  I may not "feel" like functioning and I may not be bouncing off the walls...but, I'm moving.  If I didn't have the hope of Christ, I'd be in a fetal position in the corner of my bedroom with a bag of Cheetos and a 2-liter of Dr. Pepper.

I'm going to quote myself and than the Bible.  Yep, the Bible quotes will be way more powerful.

Page 66 in "Diary of a Cavewoman," Shell KyAnne declares, "Don't believe the lie that a person walking in God's peace never appears to have a crazy existence. Quite the opposite, I believe. A person with God's peace has the supernatural ability to live in a crazy existence...and still walk."

The Bible says this, "For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord..." (II Corinthians 4:5) and "'My (Christ's) grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in (your) weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong." (II Corinthians 9 & 10.)

The worst hypocrisy?  Having the hope of Christ in my life (hope that gives me strength to walk when I want to quit), and not constantly sharing it...even in the midst of my weakest times.

So, I'm sorry for the days I haven't shared hope with you...even when I knew God was telling me to.  Forgive me for being a hypocrite.  You may be running today...I hope you are.  I run a lot of days.  But, there are's a prayerful and purposeful one foot in front of the other.  For those of you feeling like a shell today...I know.  He knows.  He's strong, so we don't have to be.  That's the Gospel.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Cabin Fever

So, many of you have had a little (cough!) snow lately.  I have been reading about your days "stuck" in the house. It's been very, very interesting.

Some of you parents love it.  Some of you parents hate it. At the end of the day, all of the parents love their it's all good.

I love snow. But, my husband says that's because I never had to milk cows in two feet of it.  He also says it's because I grew up in a place where school was cancelled for two inches of it. He's actually onto something here.

But, I truly love snow for the same reason about half of you love it...the potential of a "snow day." Sitting around the house with my young, eating stuff, playing games, constructing "quilt & dining room chair" tents, thawing out by the fire after building a snowman.

However, I want to bolster those of you who get a little stir crazy at the thought of being cooped up all day with your beloved.  I get this, too.  Remember, I stayed home for a decade.  A DECADE, people.  I have played more games of Candy Land and Go to the Head of the Class than I can count.  I have sung, "Old Blue" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" more times than Beyonce has belted out "All the Single Ladies."

I have broken up more fights over the "red" bouncy-ball than you can imagine.  I have cleaned up more messes off the kitchen floor than I care to really dwell on right now.  I have said, "Guys! I'm not kidding! You will take a nap and you will not get up out of bed again!" so many times that I should have it embroidered on a pillow.

I, too, have had Cabin Fever.  Or...Cave Fever.

I actually, no offense, chuckle when I see statements such as, "Perfect day with my kiddos!  We baked, we built snowmen, we read our Bibles, we cuddled, we drew pictures of butterflies..."  You know what I'm talking about.  Hey, I don't doubt anyone does all of that...I have had many a day with my boys where I could write a very similar scenario. But, it would have also had to include...

"...put someone in time-out, tweezed a Lego piece out of an ear, plunged the toilet - twice, wiped crusty snot out of someone's hair (snot noticed while "cuddling"), had a talk about not drawing anatomically correct pictures of our brothers..."

Something like that.

I'm not picking on the lovers.  I would actually be more on your end of the parenting rainbow than not.  However, I just felt a huge need to encourage those of you out there struggling with not always "loving" every minute of cooped-upedness. (I made that term up.)

I mean, I could tell you how much you're going to miss your kids when they're grown, like mine, and that you will kick yourself for not being Mary Poppins on those snow days.  But, most of you already know that you're going to miss your kids...someday. :)

Before my rhetoric gets as deep as the snow in Kansas City today, let me wrap things up.

Enjoy as many minutes as you can with your family.  Those you can't enjoy - appreciate.  Appreciate the minutes in which we are tools in God's hands to teach our kids patience, kindness, long-suffering, love...and all that Fruit of the Spirit we grown-ups are still working to cultivate.

Fever isn't always a bad thing.  Sometimes it's just a sign that your body is fighting off an infection.

Dealing with not so perfect moments is kind of the same thing.  We do battle every day.  We fight for our kids to become the people that God has made them to be.

And sometimes, that means somebody doesn't get the red bouncy-ball.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

When "Those Kids" are Your Kids...

Well, not all of the kids in the chaos portion of this picture are mine...but, I do have to admit to birthing a couple of them. And I have to say that I'm pretty much related-by-blood to all of them. I am not related to the small child with the "floaties" on...way in the background.  His parents, possibly the folk in the water below, are probably saying something like, "Don't let 'those kids' scare you, Sweetie.  Hopefully, their parents will get control of them soon, and they'll be gone."

Yep, to the strangers around our clan that day...I was a parent to some of "those kids."

You know "those kids."  They are the ones who run through the mall unattended, or the ones who kick the back of your seat on the airplane. Grrr.  "Those kids" drive most of us nuts.  Even when they're "our kids."

My hubby and I have done are darnedest to not raise anything resembling "those kids." And for the most part, thanks be to God on High, "our kids" have typically not been "those kids."  But, trust me...there have been "times."

For instance, the demon-possessed-like fit the middle one threw in front of the Baskin-Robbins' display case, because that particular store wasn't carrying his favorite flavor.  He was two...but, still! The older brother...actually the oldest brother...all four-years-old of him...just stood there, dumbfounded.  Staring at me and telepathically screaming, "Are you kidding me?!  Parent-up!"

There was the time all three boys started crying, for some random reason, while crammed in a shopping cart in the middle of Safeway. Loudly. Hysterically. Maybe they all started crying because they were all three crammed in a shopping cart in the middle of Safeway.  I never got a real answer, and though 1.5 of them were old enough to actually speak in full sentences, I still got nothing. Regardless, no one could deny the fact that at that moment, they were "those kids."

A point?  Well, I have a few.

1)  We've not only had "those kids" before, we've most likely been "those kids" before.
2)  We have to differentiate between "those kids" and those "kids."  Meaning...sometimes kids are just being kids.  Joyfully so, I might add. Like in my picture.  Don't go to the family pool if you don't want a little, friendly, family chicken fight!  Also, don't go to McDonald's for a romantic dinner.  There will be kids there, most likely being kids.  Just sayin'.
3)  When kids are being the annoying or disrespectful kind of "those kids," well, we have to be brave enough to be "those adults."  Wise adults.  Brave and wise enough to confront behaviors that may be harmful to our children...not to mention those around them.

I have been a kid. I have had kids. I teach kids.  A total lack of respect amongst the young is on the an alarming rate.  I have found myself, for years, praying for God to help me know when kids need loving correction, and when kids need me to simply chill out.

I'm still praying.

Are you?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Can't Touch This!

You know what time it is...just looking at the picture! I came into my heyday as a mama during that historic era known as "Hammer Time."

Whenever I see the image of this poor kid in his salmon-colored shirt and gecko-printed "Hammer Pants," that crazy song goes off in my head.  If your time was before "Hammer Time," simply take a few bars from troubled rocker Rick James' most well-known tune, then add the warning: "U Can't Touch This!!"

You know my mind marches to the varying beats of its own, large, drum line. Still, I'm guessing you're wondering how I'm going to go from Rick James to life encouragement.

Well, it's all about the things I can and can't control.  Things I can and can't touch.

When my guys were little, I could control stuff like what they ate and watched.  I couldn't control when they were going to throw-up or wet through training pants.

As they grew, I could control who they spent the night with or went to a ballgame with.  I couldn't control those darned, little girls who wanted to smile at them.

Now?  Well, it's pretty much down to controlling what I cook and what kind of toilet paper I buy...for when they visit home.

Most days, I can't even control my own emotions.

As I've grappled for years with the things I can and cannot "touch,"  I always go back to two things that give me the comfort I so desperately need:

1)  God is in control.
2)  God decides who or what can or cannot touch lives.

Sometimes I want to jump in front of my boys, daughter-in-law, grandson, husband...and shout, "You can't touch this!!"

Then I am reminded that God's ways are much, much higher than my ways.  I am reminded of the times my life has been "touched" by things that were completely out of my control. And sometimes, these things seemed all-bad.

But, I know 

Some of my biggest moments of despair and heartbreak led me exactly where God wanted and needed me to be.  Some of my hugest disappointments have caused me to evaluate things that needed evaluated.  Brought me to a place where I made a change.

My misguided, crazy instincts have me puttin' on the "Hammer Pants," diggin' out some huge, car-ornament for a necklace, and dustin' off the boom box.  I want to dance all around my kids, my grandkid, my husband, my friends, my life, and the top of my lungs,  "Can't touch this!!"

God must be chuckling a good bit before He whispers in my ear, "You're going to throw something terribly out of whack there, Sis. Better let Me get this."

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I Hate to Practice

Don't I look like a piano player? Sittin' on the bench, rockin' my outfit and sportin' some confidence?

From a young age - in large part due to the fact that I had an older, ivory-tinkling brother - I was fascinated with the large, brown piece of furniture in the "front room" of our house.

When I was four, I banged on it so much, my mom enrolled me in piano lessons.  She figured if she couldn't keep me away from the noisemaker, she might as well get someone to help me learn how to make is sound a little nicer when I did pound on it.

There was one, colossal problem.  I just wanted to play.  PLAY.  Do you hear me, people?  I wanted to play! And I wanted to play what I wanted to play! And practicing and playing what other people wanted me to play was not playing!

But, here's a bigger, more colossal problem.  Without practice and without listening to the instruction of my teacher...well, my piano pounding was still just noise.  And really annoying noise at that.

In grade school, I wanted to play "Nadia's Theme" from the 1976 Olympics, but my teacher made me play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."  Gag. In junior high, I wanted to play from the Carpenter's anthology of love songs, but she made me play a Franz Listz "Hungarian Rhapsody." Double gag.  In high school, I wanted to play anything from my Michael Jackson "Thriller" cassette, but she made me play Bach Inventions Nos 4 & 13. Eye roll.  In college, I wanted to play Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is," but she made me play Debussy's "Clair de Lune."  By this time, I had surrendered.  Cue the Debussy.

You know what was a bigger, more colossal, colossal problem?  The fact that when she did let me attempt to perform what I wanted...I had to practice that, too!  I just wanted to sit down and rock out!
Wasn't gonna' happen.

Scales, arpeggios, scales and more arpeggios.  Some Mozart, some Jackson, some hymns...they all required practice.  All of 'em.

Forget "good to great" - most of us, not just our kids, want to go from nothing to great.  In 60 seconds.

We're always harping on our kids to practice. To work. To study.  What about us?  I want to show up with a slammin' lesson for each of my classes every day.  But, I don't want to go up to my classroom on Saturday afternoon and work on one.

I want to write, speak and encourage those around me - in a big way.  I don't always want to actually, physically sit down and type something up.  I don't always want to pray, fast and study to have something encouraging to speak.  I don't always want to turn off my Hallmark movie and call that friend I know could use a kind word. Sigh.

I hate to practice.  I hate forming good habits. It takes a lot of work.

But, you know what? I've loved, and still love, being able to make music.  I got to watch three, little boys march around the living room as I played, "Old Blue" and "Happy and You Know It." I can entertain school classes with my very own, "I'm Not Gonna' Write You a Hall Pass."  I can plop down in my family room on our rickety bench, at the end of a stressful day, and play and sing, "10,000 Reasons." Sing, pray, worship, cry and eventually, feel God's presence envelop me.

You know what else I love?  My relationship with God. I love when He swoops in to save my day, or makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I love the victories He gives me and all of the good times.

I just don't always like to get up and read my Bible.  I sometimes say, "I'll just have to talk to You later, Lord. Because, being the silly girl that I am, I'm too super busy right now trying to do some incredible stuff for You, without any preparation or consultation whatsoever."

In other words...I hate to practice.  But, I think I'd better go do it anyway.

How about you?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Mother of All Motivation

Grandma's backyard, sometime in the summer of 2010.  Two youngsters eagerly, or at least obediently, helping out. One youngster basking in the sun.

Now, I think the boy in the foreground is hamming it up a bit, but I thought this picture so perfectly represented what many of us face on a daily basis:  "someone" (a child, co-worker, student, church member, or or me...) who needs motivation.  At our house, I like to pay tribute to my Native American heritage by calling the "one" in question: "Him Who Need Fire Lit Under Bottom."

It's hard for me to keep myself motivated, let along be the Oprah of anyone else's life.  What's even harder, is for me to actually be a motivator and not an aggravator.  Or even worse...a nagger.

I am in a season of life where my own children need motivation more in areas of sending out resumes and filling out scholarship applications.  A couple of nights ago, while my youngest (and only offspring left in the house to nag on a consistent basis) unloaded the dishwasher, a visiting friend - who happens to be a young mom - appeared to marvel at his good deed.

I had to point out, and hopefully encourage with, the fact that the good deed rarely happens without some maternal motivation.  Darn it.

When I think of parenting, I obviously think of a lot of things.  But, the fact that I am the main motivator in another person's life is heavy.  Daunting.  Gargantuan.


We can approach motivation in a myriad of ways.  I've already hinted at aggravation and nagging. But, we also have manipulation, intimidation, begging and in very desperate situations...crying.  I know of these as I'm sure I've tried them all. And while some or all may seem to work from time to time, they don't produce the long-lasting effects we all desire to see in our kids.  Or students.  Or employees.

Sometimes the thought of a bad consequence is actually a good motivator.  For instance, "I don't work...I don't eat.  Wow, think I'll go to work!"  And I've sat through enough "teacher" classes to know there's been gobs written about positive and negative reinforcement. As a matter of fact, I'm going to leave the "how to" motivate to you and God.

I just want to encourage you today to motivate.  Or, at the very least, to simply remember that you it or not...a motivator.

We've all heard that saying, "...the hand that rocks the cradle, rules (or rocks) the world..." a time or two. And as sentimental and sappy (and scary) as it may seem to does ring a bit true.

I'm not a morning person.  I mean, I have to be, but it's not by happy-jump-out-of-bed-choice.

What motivates me is the very fact that I am a motivator.  I became one the day the nurse handed me that first baby boy...all nine pounds of him.  I had a reason.

My children aren't the only people God has put in my life to motivate.  As a matter of fact, seeing how powerful the smallest influence has been in their lives has only made me more passionate about doing my best to do what I can...when I also encourage others.

Motivating myself is a loser.  I'm not that motivated by me.  Maybe you're a little disenchanted with you as well.

If you need motivation today, remember those around you.  Remember your impressionable kids.  Remember your hurting friends. Remember your struggling co-workers.

Somebody needs your encouragement today.  Your kind word. Your smile.  Your understanding.  Your funny, "Been there, done that...survived!" story.

As always, I pray you're blessed.  And always, I pray you're motivated.

Friday, January 25, 2013

How Do Ya' Like Me Now?

It's not like I'm 15, or even 27. My vanity level has certainly waned in recent years. I've got varicose veins that mimic the great waterways of the United States, and a neck that is so looks like thrice-used tissue paper.  Seriously, I care...but, there isn't enough anti-aging serum in the world.

This all started with needing new pictures.  Of me. I don't mind a ridiculous pic like the one you see posted here, but I do mind having one taken for real.  So, the picture I've been using for all of my "writing & speaking stuff" - taken several years ago when I had only a few, small rivers represented on one leg, and no tissue-neck whatsoever - really needed to be replaced.  False advertising, indeed.

I have a friend who met me last Saturday and we snapped some new ones.  She's really good and I wore a lot of black.  And kept my coat on.  And wasn't broken out.  (I tend to break out when I'm teaching middle school as my way of empathizing with the pubescent students and their acne issues.  I know, I really go the extra mile.)

It's not even been a week since the big photo-shoot, and I'm completely broken out.  My hair has grown half an inch, and the new growth is the ugliest shade of dull silver you have ever seen.  Not that you're ever going to see the "map" in pictures, but the Mississippi River represented on my left thigh is bulging and quite uncomfortable.

So, when a dear friend saw one of my new, fancy, professionally done pictures on Facebook Saturday night, she texted me.  I was washing my face when I got this very flattering message about the picture and my looks and how she was so glad to be my friend.

It took exactly five seconds to take the "glasses" picture, send it and ask her the question that is now the title of this post.  She fired back that she feared my phone had been hijacked. 

I know she was laughing on the West Coast and I was laughing here in rural Kansas. I also know she probably now loves me more than ever.

We often think of appearances as something our young people have angst over.  Grown-up, mature, educated, well-adjusted women - and men - don't worry about such trivial things. Right.

I'm not saying don't take care of yourself.  The hubby and I have both dropped some major poundage in the past several months, and it feels really good. I also am trying to sleep more.  Man, did I underestimate the power of the Z's for many, many years.

I'm not saying walk around looking and smelling like you slept in a kennel all night.  We need to be good stewards of what God's given and we need to try to put our best foot forward.

But, there is a wonderful nugget from the Bible reminding us that charm is deceitful, beauty is vain...but, when you serve the're golden. (My paraphrase...and I'm in the middle of reading "The Outsiders" with 7th graders, so you know...trying to prove "gold" can stay, Ponyboy!)

I know God always loves matter what.  I know my friends and family do, too.  Whether the world deems me physically attractive, or not.

I not only walk through life with the above assurances, but with something I've learned the hard way (I won't take time to expound on the now, well-known waxing story).

I'm most lovely when I'm serving the Lord.

I pray for you.  I really, really do.  Serve with all of your soul.  Love with all of your heart. Put God above all else in your life.

Stay gold, my friends.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

If You See This Person, Please Call...

Natural disasters.  School shootings.  Terrorists threats.

"Where's God in all of this?"  That seems to be the question of the day.

Actually...I don't think most people even need major tragedies to ask.  

Traffic. A cold. Cranky co-workers. Hot water pipes that keep freezing up.  Broken dishwasher.

I haven't written in a while.  And some of you may have asked...if I may be so self-indulgent to assume... "Where is she?"

 I've been asking myself the same thing lately.

And it's a good thing.

You see, we can always know where God is at...we're the ones who are often missing in action.

Truly, where am I?  Am I right in the middle of what God wants me to do?  Am I where my kids can reach and be reassured by me? Am I where my husband can call out to and count on me?  Am I where my friends can turn to and be comforted by me?  Am I where my students can listen to and learn from me?  Am I where other parents can see, hear and be encouraged by me?

Am I where God can use me?

Where is God?  Here.  Like always.  I've worked with children and families for going on three decades now.  Trust me, if God wasn't in the would be seeing tragedies of epic proportions each and every day. Maybe each and every minute.

We live in a fallen world and sadly, as long as we inhabit this place...we will experience tragedies.  In all shapes and sizes.

God's grace, hopefully coupled with those of us who can be "found,"  is what will make a difference.

Where are you today?

Don't make God come looking for you.  Make sure you're already where He wants you to be.