Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Iron Sharpens Iron...I Wanna Be Like You...

You have someone you admire, right?

Where my life is right now, I don’t spend much time around other adults.  I spend every waking moment with people, but the oldest is nine.  This does not sharpen my iron, if you know what I mean.

So, in an effort to meditate on all things good and lovely, I want to tell you about some of my friends.  Friends I admire very much.  Of course, other people are not our ultimate model but we each have gifts, shadows of perfection lived out in practical daily life.  When we live out our gifts in front of each other, it lifts all of us up.  Iron sharpens iron and we all become better for it.

For Michelle, 
I want to be like you in your transparency.  There is no guile or misleading in you and though you are reserved, you let people see you.  This gives me great courage for myself, courage to let others see me, my heart, my dreams, and my struggles.  Most of all when you hosted that group of moms, you were transparent to us, and in your transparency, I saw a friend, a friend that I very much needed.  Your very transparency showed me that I was not alone.  I hope one day I can be like you…

For Kristi, 
Oh girl, how you persevere.  The events in your life would fill a trilogy of books and I don’t even know if anyone would believe they all happened to one person.  Well, perhaps Job would believe.  And like Job, you lifted your eyes upward, you blessed and looked for blessings and sister, you found them where a less faithful woman would have found only questions and pain.  By surrendering so much, you found even more.  And one other thing, how did you face such trials and still look outside at the rest of us, care for the rest of us, give to the rest of us?  So many times I sat by your side whining and you listened, and you cared and you gave.  Oh girl, I wanna be like you…

For Sharilee, 
I wish I had your gentleness.  You are so gentle of voice and touch, reserved and yet when you laugh, you fill the air around you with joy.  I have heard you fuss a kid out, making your point and wielding your authority as a mom, while using tones appropriate for a library.  Even more imprinted on my mind is your devotion.  You have done so much for your kids and family, always thinking of those around you and making them know your devotion to them.  Even when we were in grade school, you talked and lived family.  As a side note, you are the kind of girl I hope my daughter grows up to be…completely beautiful and feminine but able to hit really hard when you have to…I wish I were more like you…

This is for you, Laura.  
You set a great example, very powerful and far reaching, when you sat in your office and said (way before Nike) that when there was something to do, just do it.  And you lived it.  Time to get a project done, just do it.  Got a long drive, just do it.  Need to get your car fixed? Clean the cat box? Buy a house? Just do it.  I think of this almost daily and I don’t even think you would remember it.  As for me, can’t get pregnant without going through hell?  Just do it.  Have to move again?  Just do it.  Another toilet to clean?  Just do it.  You inspire me to quit making excuses and just do what needs to be done with grace and intelligence.  Elle, I have always wanted to be like you.

Kirsten, this is for you. 
I believe that you are completely without selfishness.  Never seen anything quite like you.  I have heard people say that so and so would give the shirt off their back but I think you would really do it and then throw in everything else in your closet.  And you pay attention to people around you so that you can give them, not just a shirt, but the kind of shirt they would like most.  It seems to me that you are always on the lookout for a way that you can give to someone.  And it isn’t just stuff, but you give YOU.  Your time and energy, all given just because someone asks and you give it cheerfully.  I miss our walks and hope to grow up to be more like you…

For you Tamara, 
I love the air of peace that surrounds you.  Now this is going to be hard to explain but here goes.  You, your home, your children, your hospitality…it is all filled with peace.  I don’t mean that it isn’t wild, how could a home with a school and all those kids and kitties and driving not be wild.  But YOU, are peaceful.  When you had all of us over for an evening of talk and comfort and food, you made a place of peace.  No worries, obligations, shoulds or oughts.  A place where we could just be and as your kids came and went, there was peace, an absence of strife or angst.  As I grew to know you that seemed to be how you approached challenges that would make my heart race…with peace.  If trials entered your life, you prayed and moved ahead, with peace.  Tamara, I hope to be like you, a peacemaker…maker of peace.

I am writing this because I hope you know that when I think of you, I always think of, well…good.  Though we live far away, we made lots of memories together and when I think back, I am struck by how much good you did.  You chose to do good things, not because of what you could gain, prestige, popularity, materials for college applications, but because those things were good.  While I was trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do, you did good to those around you.  You invited friendship with a new girl for no reason that I can imagine except that your heart is so good.   While I struggled with right and wrong, you just did the right, kind, grown up things without judging me.  One day Kathy, I hope to have a heart as good as you do…

This is for you Sandy, 
because you inspire focus and excellence and pursuit of your dreams.  I am so glad we were roommates in college.  You inspired me to diligence and to be more than just good enough but to strive for excellence.  And then there is the pursuit of your dreams.  How often I have labored under the obligation to do what I thought I should do but neglected my dreams and gifts.  And then you come along and start your own Pilates studio, making your dream a reality powered by gifts that I well know you possessed when we were in college.  Thank you Sandy, your example of focus, excellence and pursuit of your dreams fuels the genesis of one of my own…and so I write because I want to be like you, realizing a dream.

These things I have written, I don’t even know if my friends know this is how I feel.  These things, they are simple and short but don’t you think these beautiful women ought to know this is what others see in them?  Don’t you think they ought to know how they mold me, sharpen me?  I bet these little things I wrote today would fit on a postcard or in an email.  Let’s do it, let’s transparently and gently do something good and give to our friends, maybe a moment of excellent peace by writing or calling and simply say…I wanna be like you.

Thank you,

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Most of us have people in our lives that inspire us.  Maybe it's just something about them, their attitude, work ethic, kindness, and you find yourself thinking, "I wish I were more like..."

I actually have lots of people like that and I plan to tell you about them in the next post, but for now I want to share just one.

Someone who is very close to me.  He's eight and his name is Nathan.

I write about Nathan quite a bit, not because I love him more than the other two kids, but because he surprises me so often, probably because we are so different.

Some examples:

Me - closed personality, not great at sharing
Nathan - shares a lot

Me - type A personality, with organized canned goods in the pantry
Nathan - tons of favorite things crammed so full into his shelves that they fall out onto his bed where he sleeps with them even though they are sharp and pointy (i.e. Legos)

Me - completely self-conscious about everything from my appearance to my words
Nathan - comfortable with everyone he meets and totally unaware of whether he is even wearing clothes

Me - plans everything including play time
Nathan - life is playtime

Me - multitasking to the point of total ineffectiveness
Nathan - completely immersed in whatever is in front of him

My normal response to other people is, at best, "let me think" and often, "not right now."

Nathan's usual response to other people?


He says it with a casual tone of voice, real quick like the word is accustomed to jumping out of his mouth.  I love to hear it.  Almost every time, I stop for a few seconds.

I think to myself, "I want to be more like THAT."

"Momma, can I have some of your popcorn?"
"Hmmm, I'll have to think."  or "Sure!"

"Michele, can you give me a quick haircut?"
"Really, today?" or "Sure!"

"Momma, you want to play with us?"
"Not today, I have to clean." or "Sure!"

You think Martha's sister, Mary, from the bible was like Nathan? Was Martha like me?

Jesus: "You guys want to spend some time together?"
Martha: "I WISH I could but I HAVE got to COOK in here!"
Mary: "Sure!"

I think Nathan's way is more fun.  I think Nathan's way would be better for the hearts around us.

Do I want to be more like Nathan?



Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Yesterday was a terrible, no-good, rotten, stinkin’ day. 

The kids did not even attempt to listen or show respect to any of my too many words.  Their little bodies mocked my efforts to teach them with constant movement including pinching each other during math, poking during bible study, and jokes of the lowest humor ill-timed as if specifically designed to make me really, really mad. 

As for their minds…totally absent.  I don’t think those kids learned a single thing yesterday.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think they even used their brains yesterday.

This was very frustrating.

I would love to tell you how I performed a miracle of parenting and brought them calmly back to a learning state of mind, successfully saving the day and pouring love and understanding into the little treasure chests of their heart.

I dumped stuff into their hearts alright.  Dumped a whole bunch of stuff into their memories too.

It wasn’t pretty.

At one point I vaguely remember transforming into something big and ugly, not unlike a dragon breathing hateful fire onto three of the most amazing people I know.  I am sure my words were not helpful and certainly not of any use.  The only thing that I might have done right is to stop school and send everyone off to do their chores until I could shed some scales and stop exhaling smoke.  I am supposed to shepherd them but where did I lead them yesterday?  Oh my, it hurts to remember.

So I ask…what do I do now? 

What can redeem a day like that?

Nothing can erase my ugly actions or the impact that their misbehavior had on those hours.  But what we did is no longer the point…now I ask, what can redeem a day like that?

The day was redeemed and by simple things…

We prayed more.

B came home and took that little pack of kids away and he fathered them.  He took them by his side and was just with them.  I took a walk…a few miles in fact.

I was desperately thirsty to read the Word because I desperately needed it.

We were thankful for big burgers and the provision to buy them…in other words TAKE OUT!

Boys at scouts and s’mores, that begins to redeem a day.

Two girls sittin’ on a bed, one big, one little, just being who they are and laughing.

Extra hugs that might not have happened given from a boy who said, “Mom, you need some love.”

These are things that can redeem days like that because all days are blessed and good things grew out of the mess that was yesterday.

Today we woke with a new, beautiful day to start over and we did.  The kids and I talked about yesterday, driving down the road.  Apologies were given, responsibility taken.  Then we decided that we were taken over by aliens.  Robert said it was legal to do that, legal to decide that you had been taken over by an alien.  Legal to apologize and legal to start over.

Indeed.  It is good to start over when you have been forgiven, redeemed.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Seeking Comfort

Join me over at Lisa Jo Baker's place here...http://lisajobaker.com/ where she challenges us to write for five minutes each Friday on the topic of her choice, and then take another minute to encourage the person who posted before us.  It's fun, you should try it!  Today's topic...comfort.

Comfort is Eight crawling in "the big bed" as dawn begins, backing up to my back and not making a sound.

It comforts both of us when I put my arms around Nine while he cries in frustration because the dog ate the bagel he made for me.  It was supposed to be a grand gesture but now it is gone, he thinks.  But it isn't because for all our squabbling, I know for sure that he still loves me like crazy.  That comforts me.  For that, I would have eaten the bagel, even if it was covered in dog spit.

Comfort is my husband coming home to me, every day, again and again and even when worry creeps into our life, his firm dismissal that I have heard so many times, "It will all work out."  And it does.  There's practical faith in those words.

The hand of Six in mine when we walk, familiar smiles, living faith in the reality of God, sunshine after long months of rain.  Knowing that the people who have loved you your whole life, will go on loving you and yours.  Comfort.


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Porch and a Late Night Thursday...a guest post for you and me

I met Lori Harris one evening at Via Cappuccino at a book study for our local homeschool group.  She said hello right away, to ME, a stranger!  And she smiled like she meant it.  And we keep up through Facebook and we are becoming friends.  "Now," I say to my deeply introverted self, "Now, that is how you make friends!" Because clearly, I have forgotten.  Thank you, Lori, for helping me begin to crack my shell.  Lori blogs over at http://loriharris.me/ and I encourage you to take a minute to read and subscribe if you want more!

Kindly, she has written this guest post for you all, and for me. I hope you enjoy this glimpse of truth and how faith is not always sunbeams from heaven but we must sometimes struggle together in the dark and plant seeds anyway, not even knowing when the sun will rise...

The Porch and A Late Night Thursday
She stands on the front porch of my house, the clock ticking in my head, and she says she's not sure about God.
Or Jesus, for that matter.

It's after 9:30 and the porch lights need new bulbs and so we're standing there in the shadows while she unravels herself in a string of words.  I stand, arms by my side, listening and praying for some words to say.

God gives me nothing and so I just listen.
Cars drive by the house and the street lamps flicker and her words keep pace with her broken heart.   I keep pace with her verbal punches.

I stand on the porch with my big bag of nothing and she punches, over and over again.  She's a heap of hurt and I'm a heap of nothing and for a moment, I know that we stand in a place where Jesus likes to show up.

And so I wait.

Camel crickets hop across the steps.
Another street lamp comes to life.
The guy with the pimped out ride, straight down to the Payday logo on the side, thumps down my street.
And still I wait.
It's dark out.

My people sleep and still, we stand on the porch.  She waits for me to come up with magic words and I wait on Jesus to break her.

She keeps up the painful chatter and in her spewing of ugliness, I hear her heart speak the words her mouth just won't let slip out, and the beauty of it all is that she is unaware of her own breaking on my front porch.

I smile without meaning to and she smiles back at me.  There is nothing left to do but smile at one another.

And so we do.

We make small talk and I thank her for being honest with me, for telling me the truth about what she thought about Ann and all that naming gifts business.  She shoves her hands into her pockets and looks at her feet.  I tell her I knew the whole time.  That her body language spoke volumes and that I understood her.
"I get it.  It's OK," I say.  I swallow my own hurt.  My own pride.  I die a little on the inside and I hear Paul whispering in my ear, "To die is gain."

She looks up at me through her lashes and I look at her.
really look at her.

And it's not her I see, but the person that Jesus died to save and I feel my heart flutter within my chest.

On my porch, moths cling to light and I cling to Jesus and I know what it means to truly live.

For this is His work in her life, to seek her and to save her, and I just so happen to get a front row seat, late on a Thursday night.