Three months and no words? Where have the Iversons been all summer?

 

Where have the Iversons been all summer?!?©KathrynMcCraryPhotographyAtlantaPhotographer-150

Three full months, and no words?

No blog posts?

No adventures to recount?

No thoughts or impressions from the Lord?

No musings from the Living Word of God?

Oh, they have been there.

They have been mulled over while scrubbing pots and pans.

They have been formulated while setting up chairs for the large number of houseguests coming over for dinner.

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extra bodies and mouths start to gather for dinner

They have been pieced together in nights spent rocking sleepless babes.

The kid that smiles big during the day, but sleeps little during the night

The kid that smiles big during the day, but sleeps little during the night

They have been composed while sitting in traffic, driving home from multiple doctor appointments for an eight year old’s broken arm.

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wounded, but cheerful little broken-armed girl

They have been half typed, at wee hours in the morning, but always interrupted by a coughing child, or a bad dream or a wet bed.

They have been there…but so have the setbacks…broken arms, bashed mouths with teethe getting knocked out.  A baby’s bad fall. Bloody battles (literally and spiritually)

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This is the “rated G” picture…be glad his lips are covering what the inside of his mouth looks like. Two teeth completely gone, and another just dangling

The adventures have been had, the sightings of God’s mighty work has been seen, abundant answers to prayers for ministry partners have been witnessed, but Oh, for the time to be able to sit and record them…to have the time to do as Isaiah 63:7 states

I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all that the Lord has done for us, and the great favor to the house of Israel that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

 

I know the Lord wants us to recount these deeds He has done. The homeless family that is learning how to be a family again, without the throws of dysfunctional relationships and drug addiction.  The little baby born to homeless parents who should have died at delivery two weeks ago but is now ventilator free and ready to come home from the hospital, despite her blindness and multiple health issues. The way the single mom was thrilled at the Bible study we held in the home, declaring “I’ve never heard the Bible taught like this. This is exactly what I have been needing.”  The way that the young man who was about to convert to a very deceptive religion, ran up to Danny the other night and said, “I don’t want to be a part of that other stuff! I want to be baptized.”  The way the doors of this Shalom home have opened to four different homeless people who needed to be a part of a family’s rhythms, as rocky as they might be,  so they could learn what being  covenant family is all about.  The way that the boy, all rough and tough and angry, melted in tears last week at church with us.  The way that God has answered my prayer that He raise up an older black lady to be my prayer partner…and He brought her into my life in the most creative of ways. The way teachers from our kids public charter school want to come over for dinner to learn more about what this church plant is all about. The way we have been praying that God would take all these buildings that have been abandoned by business owners and put new businesses in them…and God sent a Christian Korean couple to start one .3 miles from our house, with them declaring, “We kept trying to avoid the call, but the Spirit of God kept telling us to open this Wings and Philly place right here…and we couldn’t figure out why.”

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Kids time, during house church

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Bible study and prayer! We are all soaking it up.

There are so so many other stories….stories of God answering specific prayers laid out MONTHS ago before the Throne of the One who reigns on High and is more passionate about this church plant than we are.  And OH, for the time to recount them.

Would you join me in prayer that this would come about?  That God grant the windows of time to work on the new blog, and the new ministry website which recently got hacked, crashed, and now has to be rebuilt before we have a new place to declare the faithful deeds of the God we serve?

Would you pray for a mother, busy with the life of running a household of eight+ all the people staying with us, to be granted the windows of time needed to type, and pray, and record, and write these posts and finish that book that was started two years ago now?

The enemy of our souls, wants the stories silenced. But I believe our God wants His glorious goodness to be put on display.

His Church is being built.  His Kingdom is advancing. His saints are praying and seeing miraculous answers.

And these stories will not be silenced.

 

**stay tuned for information about JourneytoShalom;the journey towards wholistic peace and flourishing in an under privileged community of the inner city: launching soon, Lord-willing**

 

 

 

 

God Uses the Messes

It had been another frantic Sunday morning.

If I had lain the children’s clothes out the night before, we wouldn’t have had battles over mismatching clothes.

Help me, Lord. 

If I had trained my kids better about putting shoes away in their shoe bins, we wouldn’t have spent 20 minutes franticly looking under couches and in toy chests for them.

Help me, Lord.

If I had a better chore system, my daughter would automatically do her breakfast chore without mommy asking 16 times.

Help me, Lord. 

If I had gotten up earlier, I would have had Bible time with the kids at the breakfast table instead of barking at them to eat faster so we could leave.

Help me, Lord. 

If I were calmer, gentler, maybe there wouldn’t be so much bickering and complaining in the car while we drove downtown to church.

Help me, Lord.

If I were a more organized person, my purse wouldn’t be so heavy with all the junk that’s accumulated in it…in addition to lugging a chunky baby in a car seat carrier.

Help me, Lord. 

Gotta love the chunky cheeks and double chin...except when you're carrying him in a car seat carrier with a large purse and five kids following behind...

Gotta love the chunky cheeks and double chin…except when you’re carrying him in a car seat carrier with a large purse and five kids following behind…

And we’re just rolling in to church, and I’m exhausted. The adrenaline rush to get us out the door is starting to crash, and we file into our seats. And all the kids are fidgety. And Katy-Grace is “hungry again”. (We just ate breakfast!) Daniel Josiah took five bagels off the refreshments table on our way into the sanctuary. (I’m telling you, we JUST ate breakfast!) Malachi needs a diaper change (I JUST changed it, before we left), and all I want to do is sing some songs to Jesus and not have to deal with anyone else’s problem for at least 20 minutes…

Then the whimpering starts…

“Mommy! Mommy! My tag is itching me.”

Honey, I can’t do anything about that right now.

“But, moooommmy, it really itches. Can you cut it off?”

Lord, I know I’m failing miserably at everything…and if I could just get my act together and get more organized, things wouldn’t be so hard. But Lord, you’re going to have to handle this problem. I give it to you. I have nothing left. 

“Mommy, can’t you get some scissors and just cut it off…it reeeeaaaalllly iiiiiiiitches…”

Honey, you’re just going to have to deal with it.

We’re already halfway through the worship time, and I’m fishing through my bag to find Malachi’s diaper so I can slip out and change it.

And then I feel them.

I had thrown then in there earlier in the week to wrap a gift for someone at.stoplights.on.my.way.across.town

because, again, I didn’t have my act together, and was doing it on the fly.

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The miraculous scissors

I quickly pulled them out and snipped the tag off. Thus relieving me of an entire-worship-service-long whining session.

Thank you, Lord, Thank you!!

I whisper to Him.

And He did some whispering back:

If you had had your “act” together like you envision and expect for yourself, I couldn’t show up in such intimate ways. You wouldn’t need Me.

 I take the entirety of your messy life, and use every part. Even un-cleaned-out purses and lost shoes and whining children. 

Bring me itchy tags, and disorganized purses, and frantic mornings, and let me bear them.  I have creative ways of carrying them, while you carry my easy yoke and light burden. 

The “extra luggage” that you think is so cumbersome now, might be your answer to prayer later. 

Faith as small as a mustard seed…as small as itchy tags, can move mountains. Just watch.”

 

The crazy full, and unorganized purse. All part of God's plan.

The crazy full, and unorganized purse. All part of God’s plan.

Isaiah 65:24 NLT

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers!

Where does discipline come from?

But this kind never comes out except by prayer and fasting. (Matthew 17:21)

It kept ruminating around in my head.  I personally had decided to fast multiple times over the course of the past two months, but as soon as crisis hit, or the exhaustion set in, it was just too easy to reach for that food, grab that cup of coffee, down that handful of chocolate chips.

But this time, I did it.

It wasn’t because I am a disciplined person.

It isn’t because I am a holy person.

It was because I was a desperate person.

At the root of all Christian disciplines: prayer, fasting, early rising, Bible memory, giving, is an element of desperation. 

We are desperate to meet God. Desperate to see Him work. Desperate to be delivered.

Desperation drives discipline.

And I needed help. I needed miraculous intervention to the prism of thought life that held me as prisoner. So I abstained, because deliverance was more important to me than dinner. My discipline was driven by desperation.

It was the third day of the liquid fast, each day crying out for God to rescue me. I met with my pastor’s wife where I cried, and unloaded, and vented about how wild my kids are, how much I have failed to train them, how I can’t keep up with everything, how I have a sick boy  who needs a lot of attention right now, how my husband is about to have surgery and what am I going to do without his help?!?

We prayed. And God started moving.

A friend last minute volunteered to drive the kids home for me. When I got home, BOTH little boys fell asleep at the same time (which hasn’t happened in a good year or two). And as I desperately tried to catch up with the school emails and all the commitments I needed to plug into the calendar, the phone rang.  It was the Christian postpartum counselor I had spoken with a month prior. The one that I had left a little glib message with two weeks ago, “I don’t think I’m struggling with postpartum depression after all. Thanks anyways!” (just to sink further in during the subsequent days).  She asked how I was doing and if I wanted to set up an appointment to see her.  There were financial obstacles and time obstacles, but I would get back to her.  Twenty minutes later (still while the boys were sleeping so I could actually have a conversation without all hell breaking loose while I was talking!) one of the counseling pastors called to see how they could help financially so that I could go see someone. “Just pay your percent, and have the rest billed to the church. ” and that was that. So another phone call was made to set up an appointment with the counselor. I managed to get out of jury duty and rearrange another meeting in order to set up the appointment. In an hour flat it was all worked out.

And hope began to shine forth. Hope that I was on a path toward health again. Emotional. mental. spiritual. health.

We’re not at the end of the journey yet, but at least we’re moving in the right direction, and not sitting {LINK THIS } in a place of despair.

I have no doubt that “this kind” will come out through prayer and fasting. And God often waits a little while to move things into place so that He can bring the healing.

And it wasn’t my holiness that drove me to fasting and prayer.

No, desperation for God drives us to discipline for the sake of getting Him.

My man, standing by me as I feel with postpartum issues, and the juggling of six children...

My man, standing by me as I deal  with postpartum issues, and the juggling of six children…

 

 

He Trains my hands for battle: How to combat the slumps and train our kids to do the same

“Mommy, I know why you sing. You sing when you are trying not to be angry.”

This guy is watching Mommy's hands and heart be trained for battle- the battle for JOY

This guy is watching Mommy’s hands and heart be trained for battle- the battle for JOY

He trains my hands for battle; He strengthens my hands to bend a bow of bronze. You have given me your shield of victory. Your right hand supports me. Your help has made me great. You have made a wide path for me, to keep my feet from slipping.

 Psalm 18:34-37

The little guy spilled the milk all over the already-spilled grits and eggs. It splatters all over table chairs and floors. An already-exhausted mother (you know I’m tired when we have breakfast for dinner) holds in every impulse to burst out in frustration, and instead bursts out singing. And that perceptive little boy, saw right into my battle strategy.

“Mommy, I know why you sing. You sing when you are trying not to be angry.”

With nerves short and energy levels low and mental and noise capacity maxed, there is a constant battle going on in my heart, and in my home.  And my kids will either be the victim of the battle or they will be trained by my training in it. They are constantly watching mommy battle for it….or unfortunately fall victim to the battle.

A battle for joy.

A battle for strength.

A battle for perseverance.

A battle for patience.

A battle for the joy of the Lord to be my strength.

So I personally battle. Battle within-which transfers to battling without. And these five little soldiers are watching mommy get trained.  Instead of yelling at my kids to “fall in line” and quit complaining, stop shirking their responsibilities and cease avoiding doing their chores. Instead of calling them to quit the bickering and fighting and irritating of each other, I must teach them to battle the same things I battle:

A complaining spirit.

A surrender to “weakness” and “lack of motivation”.

A desire to give up

A yielding to impatience.

A sinking into despair.

And we battle all of it with the gaze of our minds. A gaze of our hearts. Which can only be overcome with a gaze of praise. And singing through the storms is a sure training exercise that shifts that gaze. For each and every one of us.

From the Mouths of Babes…Valentines Day

We tried to make Valentines Day really special this year. The month of February we all memorized I Corinthians 13:4-8 and I John 4:7-11, and the hymn How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.

Our Love Tree. With a listing of all that love is, based on I Corinthians 13

Our Love Tree. With a listing of all that love is, based on I Corinthians 13

We learned about the history of St. Valentine. Then, on February 4, the kids found this sign in the kitchen:

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And each day, they would find a new heart on their door with something their mother loves about them [Can I just HIGHLY recommend doing something like this, especially if you are struggling with appreciating your children, ahem, I mean, not that I don’t always appreciate them, of course. But writing out their good qualities does something to a mother’s heart in thankfulness for the great things about them, and somehow lifts one above the complaining spirits or the bickering or the fact that they always forget to do their chores, and it enables us to see beyond the frustrations that can bog one down] So that by Valentine’s Day, their doors looked like this:

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And My sweet, loving husband, set out dark chocolates and flowers for me after I fell asleep (no huge feat, for I’m falling asleep around 8:30 pm these days). Which looked like this when I got up at 5:00 am to get water and set up the rest of the kid’s surprises (little boxes of chocolate, heart cookies, and waffle mix ready for the waffle maker).

My husband set up the table for me. Soon to be bombarded by the "results of our love".

My husband set up the table for me. Soon to be bombarded by the “results of our love”.

Danny's "Healthy Valentine" from me

Danny’s “Healthy Valentine” from me

After being up for a little while, I headed back to bed to doze for a few minutes before the masses came storming down our door.  It wasn’t long before I heard it….

“Moooommmmmmyyyyyyyy!!!!!!! Benjamin ate some of your chocolate from the table!!!! I see it on his face!”  Daniel Josiah our faithful, controlling, reporting son exposes the crime.

Then we hear Benjamin’s little voice at the door.

“No, I didn’t!!! No, I didn’t! Somebody….somebody….somebody just come put chocolate on my face!!”

And some people think children are born good, with pure hearts.

Well, we didn’t teach that child to LIE (and do a bad job of it) just to save himself from getting in trouble. No, I think that comes deep within. And its in all of us. And we all need a perfect Savior because of it.  A Savior who the real St. Valentine’s needed, and needed so badly that he was willing to die for Him.

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Platform: Gaining One Worth Having, and Keeping One Worth Preserving

An email came from a literary agent. A book proposal hurriedly composed. Edited. Reexamined. Sent out. A writing sample was requested. A meeting was held, a team deliberating over taking up the project.

The factor that did or didn’t seal the deal?

Platform.

Its the buzzword of this blogging, tweeting, social media dependent culture. Your songs can’t be heard, your blog won’t be advertised upon, your articles won’t be distributed, and books won’t be published….without it.

Platform.

It means you’ve got to be popular, and noticed, and esteemed in order to be heard. It means you have to have a following of people, because people have money, and money buys books.

And its interesting that the very One I type away into the wee hours of the night for, and the One I’ve been on my face in front of asking for guidance, and the One I have begged to give me wisdom and words, the One whom I pray is glorify in and subsequently hoped in due to this book,

Well, He seemed bent on destroying his

Platform.

After healing a leper (revolutionary medical progress!!) he said, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:4)

The demon-filled man, whom Jesus set free, begged to go with him and join the rank of followers, but “Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” Mark 5:19

When faced with the possibility of a very wealthy, very powerful young ruler becoming one of his followers, he had such a heart-probing conversation with him that, instead of gaining an important and rich follower, he lost one, for At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Mark 10:22

After feeding the five thousand, and teaching the people that HE was the Bread from heaven, he was met with grumbling, complaining, arguments, and On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”…From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. John 6:60,61

When tested to see if he would “break the Sabbath rules”, Jesus proceeded to heal the man with a shriveled hand and defy cultural  and religious values and destroy his popularity so badly that, Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus. Mark 3:6

No, He did not weigh in on His popularity. He did not unite the masses to follow him and give him a platform to be heard by the Jewish rulers who were getting it all wrong nor to the Romans who were oppressing his people. He lived for one platform alone. The one established by complete surrender, yieldedness, and obedience to the will of the Father.

Part of my New Years Resolution was to write a book, of which the rough draft is done, due to wee hour writings and a husband who believes in the project. This past fall, my missionary friend in Swaziland, and I have been plugging away at the work, asking for God’s guidance in the project, for neither of us had a clue as to “how to write a book”. We felt the specific call to write, not knowing where that might lead. We just figured that we would self publish it upon its completion this spring. Then, two weeks ago an email introduction by a mutual friend to a literary agent in a prestigious publishing agency led to the request for a book proposal, and then to the asking for more and more writing pieces and information. It was all barreling along quite unexpectedly and thrillingly well.

And then the blog stats were asked for. And those meager numbers didn’t impress, at least not enough to have enough clout with a Publishing House. Every email leading up to this had sounded so promising and so hopeful but then, that email was received, actually at the end of a day spent taking my sweet four year old daughter and our international exchange student around the Disney theme parks. My girl and I, we had found our place to watch the evening Disney parade and fireworks, and while we waited for it to start, I whipped out that phone and read those words:

“We enjoyed your work, but – given our current client list – I needed a confident and unanimous response from my colleagues…and we didn’t get there. In brief, we’re concerned that publishers will find your current platform limiting.”

And I tucked phone back in pocket, and gazed at my girl all eager to see a “real” princess go by in a parade, and I longed for her to know that she is a princess because of what King Jesus has done to make her a child of God, not because of sparkles and puffy dresses.

And it hit me.

The best place for her to learn that…. is upon a

Platform.

The platform I build through day in and day out service and sacrifice, being joyfully engaged in the little things in her world, in the worlds of my five little children and the one growing within me. And maybe building a platform in that blogosphere, literary world would distract this mamma’s heart and mind from gaining the one platform worth having…the one I build in my husband and children’s lives. And building one out there might chip away at the one platform that I do have that is truly worth keeping. The platform that is right here. Right here in flesh and blood, right in front of me.

So, I will willingly forego landing a publishing deal, or all the work it would take to get a platform in order to land a publishing deal,

if I can only build a Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, love-exuding platform with my husband and children.

I will labor in the mundane, sacrifice in the secret, faithful preach the Word of God to those within my own four wall, that I might build that platform in my children to proclaim to them the Savior that died for them ad loves them. And Lord willingly, they will be made into little disciples who do the same in their spheres of influence in 5 or 10 or 25 years.

This is the type of platform Jesus built. One with twelve simple, average guys who were so captivated by the miracles they saw and the death and resurrection they witnessed and the love and power that was imparted to them, that they moved forth into their communities, cities and the nations to repeat the process of building platform, in their own spheres of influence.

May I do the same, for these kids, as Christ does it in me, for His glory.

I have a big job before me. A time-consuming, emotion-consuming, life-consuming platform to build. It may not be as glamorous as soaring blog stats. It may not be as significant-in-my-culture’s eyes as a name on a book fresh off the printing press.

But it is big in God’s eyes. And it is big in those little one’s eyes whom I have the opportunity to gaze into and tell that they are loved. and prioritized.

And the platform I have in their lives is worth every moment of the work that building it entails.

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Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false God
They will receive blessing from the Lord
and vindication from God their Savior
Such is the generation of those who seek him.
Who seek your face, God of Jacob.
Psalm 24:3-6

20 Reasons I love my neighborhood-How to be a missionary right where you live.

WHY do I live where I live?

Because I’m lazy.

Too lazy to load up five kids in to the van and tote them over to a church service project.  Too lazy to get up on a Saturday morning and head down to the soup kitchen to serve a meal.  Too lazy to try to juggle babysitting schedules so I can go into the neighborhood school to volunteer to read to kids.

I’m far to lazy to do all those things, so if I’m going to be light to those people who need the Light of the World the most, if I’m going to feed the hungry, if I’m going to broaden and educate struggling students.

Then I have to live among them.

Right smack dab in the middle of the glorious chaos…

By doing life with them, it leads us all to the Giver of Life.

And then how do you be a “missionary”-on a mission to make the power and salvation of Jesus known to all people?

Start having fun.

By living life with them.

Embrace every chaotic moment of the kids in and out of the door. Wrangle those kids from the Legos, to have reading time (Jesus Storybook Bible, always first choice!).  Bake cookies, and get real messy doing it.

Love, love, love every smiling little face.  Listen, listen, listen to every heart poured out. Serve, serve, serve with a strength not your own. Pray often, pray hard, pray now.

THIS is how the mission of making Jesus’ power known is lived out.

It is only HIS POWER IN you that can give you the love, the listening, and the serving.

“Christ in you, hope of glory.”

Christ in you, hope of GOING.

Christ in you, hope of GIVING.

Christ in you hope of GROWING.

For it is in the going (the living amongst, for those of us who are lazy), and the giving, and the constant need for glory (in you! how else are you going to put up with all the messes without losing it?!?), that the growing happens.  And then it becomes not so much about them needing the Gospel, but us needing Jesus.

Jesus Christ.

Christ in you, hope of glory.

And if these reasons don’t spill forth glory,

well, then, maybe you and I have different ideas as to what glory is.

Twenty Reasons I love my Neighborhood

#1. Impromptu neighborhood feasts

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#2. The way that once a few kids get wind of it, many more join

The way that once a few kids get wind of it, many more join

The way that once a few kids get wind of it, many more join

#3. I get to watch Jesus multiply food.  Turning water into…more soup.

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More guests? Just add more water, and a pack of frozen veggies

#4.  Every physical meal served, gathers kids and neighbors long enough for a spiritual one too, (BEFORE we eat!)

Impromptu neighborhood feasts

Danny reads the Word and then has the kids answer questions about it… all while my soup gets cold (but its worth it)

#5.  The “Little Gang”

They run around like they own the street.

They run around like they own the street.

#6. I’m forced  get to do arts and crafts, because the kids come in demanding it

Adrianna LOVES cutting up bits of paper to make collages out of..

Adrianna LOVES cutting up bits of paper to make collages out of..

#7. The comraderie of kids forces you into the lives of the parents…

If their kid is at your house, you end up talking, becoming friends, and even start going to church together...Janki and Adrianna

If their kid is at your house, you end up talking, becoming friends, and even start going to church together…Janki and Adrianna

#8. Resulting in beautiful friendships

My new and wonderful friend, Supreena and me, after church one Sunday

My new and wonderful friend, Supreena and me, after church one Sunday

#9. That blossom and deepen in your home entryway….

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Many heart-to-hearts, exhortations, prayers have occurred in this little entry way, when a parent comes looking for their kid..

10. Tea Parties in the street

Who needs a lush field?! The pavement in front of the broken down car will do just fine for a picnic!

Who needs a lush field?! The pavement in front of the broken down car will do just fine for a picnic!

#11. The older kids look out for the younger ones

Cray is Benjamins unofficial "guardian" if a car is ever coming down our street

Cray is Benjamins unofficial “guardian” if a car is ever coming down our street

12. Absolutely.self.explanatory.

That gorgeous grin grabs your heart and won't let go.

That gorgeous grin grabs your heart and won’t let go.

13. The kids love playing outside together.

I love me som' dirty kids (if its because they've been playing "camping out" for the past 2 1/2 hours.

I love me som’ dirty kids (if its because they’ve been playing “camping out” for the past 2 1/2 hours.

14. Trick or Treating buddies are easy to come by

Our "buddy" system on Oct. 31 so we didn't leave behind any keep-begging-for-more-candy stragglers

Our “buddy” system on Oct. 31 so we didn’t leave behind any keep-begging-for-more-candy stragglers

15. “Politeness Points” incentive works better with the neighborhood kids

For some reason, Jamar is really good at earning politeness points at the dinner table and everyone wants to keep up with him.

For some reason, Jamar is really good at earning politeness points at the dinner table and everyone wants to keep up with him.

16.  Baking Parties!!!

Everyone's favorite thing to do!

Everyone’s favorite thing to do!

17.Hilarious SONGS about baking parties!

18. I have a lot of little “mothers” running around now

And the Lord knows I NEED some mothering help!!

And the Lord knows I NEED some mothering help!!

19. Basketball games on the fly happen very frequently!

They are ALWAYS up for a basketball game! And who knew?! Basketball games cure mother's headaches at 4pm better than chocolate and another cup of coffee

They are ALWAYS up for a basketball game! And who knew?! Basketball games cure mother’s headaches and energize weary bodies at 4pm…even better than chocolate and another cup of coffee

20. We are seeing lives transformed by Jesus.

Prayer time for one of our friends.

Prayer time for one of our friends, during Wednesday night Bible study

From the Mouths of Babes….with short memories

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I’m so glad kids have short memories…

The day after this failure, the girls were climbing into bed and Trinity said,

Mommy, you’re the best mommy in the world.

and Katy-Grace was quick to follow up with,

Yeah, Even though you sin, we STILL love you.

unmerited grace from these little ones,

refreshes a mamma’s spirit.

The Only Way to Get Past Your Past

I yelled at my kids today.

ALOT.

Don’t get me started on how I felt justified in it, and if they would just actually OBEY then it wouldn’t drive me to that point, or how Danny’s been out of town, so I’ve been single parenting five, make that 8 kids if you count the neighborhood kids that have moved in this week, and then this week, of all weeks when Danny’s not here,  major neighborhood drama has happened and I’ve been in the middle of it helping sort it all out….no, I don’t need to make excuses.

I need to make apologies.

And along with all the yelling over their disobedience today, I did yelled an encouraging word  (notice thats a singular there ).

One that spoke

RIGHT BACK AT ME….

Trying to snag a few moments to exercise, and salvage my sanity, I dragged  all the kids over to the school track to play while I attempted to run laps…and run off frustration.

running-track-renovation

My oldest, all blonde locks and gangly legs wants to race me….

given a generous head start, I sprinted after him, and nearly caught up to him because he kept turning back to look and see where I was.

I yelled up to him

“DON’T LOOK BACK! IT WILL ONLY SLOW YOU DOWN!”

Don’t look back.

It will only slow you down.

“Don’t look back, running mamma, it will only slow you down.”

Because many a time, I catch myself about to hug or tickle or speak an affirming word, and that voice in my head says

“You don’t deserve to do that….you were just yelling at them 20 minutes ago.”

or

“You, hypocrite. They’ll never believe you love them, you’ve only been beastly to them today.”

and at these times,

I can’t look back.

for it will only slow me down.

So I cling to the promises, and I claim them in my day.

Because I have a marathon to run with children.  Today’s sprint might have been a stumbling, and I may have tripped and fallen in anger and frustration.  But there are many miles ahead.

So, I’ll keep my eyes on where I’m going, and let these guideposts show me where I’m headed.

Above all, love each other deeply, for love covers a multitude of sins. 

I Peter 4:8

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  

Philippians 3:12-14

 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I John 1:9

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,endures all things.

 Love never ends.

I Corinthians 13:4-8

I have a Savior that ran this race perfectly.  A Savior who took the punishment for all my stumblings.  A Savior that rose again from the death that my sin brought. A Savior who went to the Father, that His Spirit might come to me.  A Savior who says,

Don’t look back.

I already took care of it.

It will only slow you down.

How to really be where you really are.

Image

A husband deliriously ill.  A set of children who needed to get to school, who would have gotten there by that aforesaid husband, who now needed a wife to run the carpool and hunt down a doctor’s appointment.  The one year old is half eating-half finger painting oatmeal over kitchen table.  One kid is still deep in slumber, another having just stirred due to wetting the bed from such slumber. A quick dash out the door with school kids and oatmeal boy (now wiped up), hoping the groggy ones won’t reap typical destruction in the forty-five minute time it will take me to return. The trash is overflowing…sick husband can hardly lift his head, much less it. Oatmeal bowls towering precariously, oatmeal artwork crusting away on table, wet bedsheets, and the doctors calls all await my return.

The day planned for all the laundry and those extra chores, and three errands, and that appointment, and a hoped-for chance to exercise, that day that had been laid out in a mind distracted from the present to the future dreamings of “all she was going to get done”…… now that day rearranges to revolve around getting ill husband to a doctor, with three small kids in-tow.

During the drive-to-school- turned-Scripture-memory-time, we sang and resang the passage we’ve been working on. Until…until the looooong line of traffic was noticed.  Not in front of me, but rather to the left of me, the entire route that would take me back home, to a 4 and 3 year old under the care of a sleeping,  feverish, delirious husband. The questions and chatter from the kids in the car were tuned out. Suddenly mother was transported, transported to sitting in traffic, stressing about hurrying home, agonizing over how long it was taking. Shoulder’s tense, the priceless moments with chatty children are escaped, escaped into a stressful scenario not even reality.

And she was no longer present in the present.

Her mind carried her to a future, predicted, imagined moment not yet happening, or maybe never to happen.

“Whatever is true….think on these things.”  Philipians 4:8 
 
What is NOW is what is real. What is tangible. What is enjoyable and savorable. But this is not what I was living in.  I was living in the imagined stress, the conjured prediction that i would be sitting in traffic for an hour just to get back home again.  But it wasn’t real.  It wasn’t true. And the opposite of truth, are LIES. The hurry of my heart and mind, keep me there, bound by lies of anticipated future and unable to savor and receive the present.
Sitting in a car with children ripe for receiving attention and heart probing questions…THAT was real.
Getting time with the older ones without a whining three year old and a complaining-about-her-seatbelt four year old…THAT was true.
A chance to sing together, or laugh together, or tell a funny childhood story…THAT was a reality.
An opportunity to really ask questions about the passage of Scripture being memorized…THAT was truth.
But all those, they slipped by…I exchanged the truth for a lie (Romans 1) and meditated on the imagined annoyance of having to wait in miles of traffic while little kids and husband needed me.  Where I was, it wasn’t true, it wasn’t real. And those kind of lies bring death, and steal, and kill, for they are from the one, that ancient serpent, whose purpose is to do such.
It was a death of opportunity.
It was the stealing of my moments.
It killed my joy.
As what was REALLY happening, crystalized in my mind- what was real came into focus again.
And Mamma was present in the present again. So, long hugs were lingered over and heartfelt prayers poured. And life and courage and approval were spoken over, into those children instead of a hurried, “Bye, honey, have a good day!” so i could rush off to the anticipated reality that was not yet.
And He, gentle Teacher, and Loving Father gave me a picture, to lead me into worship and prayer.
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Under a sky like that, traffic time can be prayer time and therefore productive time. Joyous time. Time in the PRESENT.
And lo, and behold, that long line of cars had already begun to dissipate by the time my faithful minivan drove up to join the ranks of sitting.
All that worry, stress, and missing LIFE….all over a LIE.  Something that was not, nor ever would be TRUE.
…whatever is TRUE, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.   Phillipians 4:8
….and tonight, my husband played THIS for me….an expression of the same heart lesson, much more poetically communicated….

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