Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Comparisons

Today is late start which I'd go so far as to say I abhor. It's an entire extra hour for the kids to sit around and our peaceful morning always unravels in the last ten minutes before the bus comes. My kids do not sleep in just because they have the chance to, so inevitably the morning will end with someone crying, getting in trouble or dashing to catch the bus even though they've been sitting around doing NOTHING for three hours. Today was no exception to the rule and I found myself, hair soaking wet from my shower, leaving Paige in the house crying because she wanted to come to the bus but was still in her pajamas, and sprinting after my three kids who catch the bus. Paige decided to make a break for it anyway but got flustered trying to open the door and inadvertently locked us out of the house. We have a key hidden somewhere but I've never taken the time to ask Curt where the secret spot is and I had no phone to call him, so away we went to borrow my neighbor's phone. Her son and Paige welcomed the chance to play together and before I knew it, I was in my house and child-free.

My original plan was to go to the gym but since running on the treadmill is a verifiable form of torture for me, I opted instead to go for a run outside. This weekend, I ran the same course with horrible results. My right knee, which I have named "Juanita" (pun intended), did not cooperate and I ended up walking quite a bit. I wasn't sure what to expect this morning, but my knee held up great and I was able to run all 4.6 miles without stopping to walk. Since I was feeling good, I pushed myself to try to maintain an 8 minute mile pace the entire way.

As I was laboring along, the Lord reminded me of the principle of comparisons. To my friends who run at a 10 or 11 minute mile pace, I'm a super fast runner. But to real athletes who are actually good at running, the 8 minute mile pace that I've worked for 3 1/2 years to achieve, is a snail's pace. On my best day, they could beat me with one hand tied behind their back. It's all relative.

Comparisons are never good. They either give us an inflated and false sense of pride or they tear down our self esteem. So what's a girl to do? Once again, I found myself, flawed and broken, at the foot of the cross. Amazed that my Jesus would see all of me and still love me enough to shed His blood in my place. And I felt the Lord whisper to me, "Don't compare. Just be you. I created you. I gave you a purpose. I gave you gifts and abilities. What are you doing to use those gifts and abilities to bring me glory?"

I'll be meditating on that for the rest of my day and I won't compare myself to the other moms whose kids made it to the bus in one piece without running or tears.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A New Tier of Organization






I sat down this morning to blog about Alli's sixth birthday (which happened almost a week ago) and decided I wanted to post a picture of her from each year of her life. Which was great in theory but required me sorting through photos on the old computer, transferring them to a thumb drive, then importing them from the thumb drive onto the current computer. What started as a quick project turned into all day. Before I knew it, a new tier of organization was added to my already ridiculously organized electronic photos.

I decided each child needed their own folder with my favorite pictures of them from birth to their current age. After all, when they graduate from high school they'll need a slide show so I might as well get started now, right? The more I sorted, the bigger the project got, hence the ALL DAY part... But what else do you do on a cold, blustery, all-day soak kind of rainy day with two kids home sick?

The end result were separate folders for Grant, Kaitlin, Alli and Paige, a Curt and Jodi folder, a Just Kids folder and a Family Favorites folder. I forced myself to finish what I started even though by 2 p.m. I was ENTIRELY sick of it. The end result was worth it though. I played the newly created slideshows for each child and watched them puff up with pride and giggle as they watched themselves grow up on the screen. It made me a little teary-eyed to walk down memory lane and remember how each one of my precious kidlets has blessed my life. Maybe, since I still have two sick kiddos at home, I'll get around to writing about Alli's birthday tomorrow. I just hope it won't take all day.

The Best Day EVER










Birthdays are a big event at our house. The kids look forward to their birthday all year long and as I've said in earlier posts, on your actual birthday it's "anything you want" day. You get to plan you whole day down to food choices, snacks, outfits, and what you do. Everything is an option (within reason) and the kids just love it. Alli, in particular, thinks having a birthday is the best day of the year. She has been saying "It's almost my birthday" basically since Christmas even though her birthday isn't until "Mowch twenty-fifth." For the second year in a row, her birthday fell on spring break which means the birthday celebration gets spread out over at least a week's time.

On Tuesday, March 16th, she and her friend Jenna, (by their choice) jointly celebrated their birthdays at school. We coordinated with treats and juice boxes and Paige and I enjoyed the school birthday party complete with birthday crowns, bears, certificates, and the Birthday Song with cha cha cha's. She talked about and planned the treats for weeks leading up to March 16th and at bedtime said, "It was the best day ever. In my whole life."

On Monday, March 22nd, the first day of spring break, we had Alli's kid party. Five of her friends (plus her three siblings) came over for a glorified play date. We played freeze dance and duck duck goose, made a "craft" (foam butterflies decorated with foam stickers), ate Buster Bar ice cream cake, sang Happy Birthday again with more cha cha chas, opened presents, and played in the back yard on a glorious spring day. Alli loved being the center of attention and enjoyed reliving her party through story after story for the remainder of the next few days. Being the only adult in a house full of kids, it wasn't my favorite way to spend an afternoon, but I survived with my attitude in check, which I considered a victory. At bedtime, she again told me, "Today was the best day ever. In my whole life."

Tuesday, March 23rd, was a pre-planned play date with three of Alli's friends from pre-school. She doesn't get to see them much this year because they all go to different schools, and even though our play date had NOTHING to do with her birthday, Alli was convinced that it had EVERYTHING to do with it. She proudly informed each of her friends (even the ones who had been at her party the day before) that it was her birthday week and laid out the week's agenda for them, both activities past and activities planned. While she was greeting her friends, she got another surprise. Grandma Marcy was passing through on her way to Seattle and she popped in on the play date and delivered Alli's birthday present in person. The look of shock when Alli saw her was really priceless and she couldn't get over the fact that Grandma knew the "EXACT baby I wanted from Target. How did she know that Mom?" Bedtime again was a declaration of "The best day ever. In my WHOLE life." Don't you wish you had that kind of exuberance to embrace life? Finding joy in the simple things and declaring every day, "The best day EVER?"

Thursday, March 25th, was her actual birthday. We kicked off our celebration early by watching Swiss Family Robinson on Wednesday night. Alli told Curt, "Daddy, when I wake up in the morning, I want to see a whole pile of presents and I want to open them right away. Before breakfast. Before cartoons. Can we do that?" I am NOT a morning person but I love my daughter, so there we were, at 7 a.m., before the first sip of coffee, cheering Alli on as she opened presents. She is so expressive and it made getting up early completely worth while every time she hooped and hollered and danced around after each gift. She'd tear into the paper, her eyes would get huge and she'd shriek, "It's JUST what I wanted!" then dash off to give us hugs. When the pile of presents had been opened, we made our coffee and then started birthday breakfast preparations: crispy bacon and strawberry and chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream and powdered sugar. So nutritious. Lunch was even worse - "gourmet" mac and cheese, "the kind Olivia has" with the sauce pre-made in the package, so everything about it was processed with nothing fresh. GAG! But she loved it.

Our original plan was to go to the Woodburn Tulip Festival in the morning, Wilsonville Fun Center in the afternoon to mini-golf, dinner at Red Robin, followed by another party at Grandma Ru and Grandpa Terry's after Red Robin. However, it rained steadily all day on Alli's birthday and poor little Paige got the flu. She curled up in a ball on the couch and never left the rest of the day. Within hours, Katie started looking puny and although she tried valiantly to pretend she felt fine, the thermometer told us the true story. She too succumbed to the flu and remained curled up in the fetal position for the rest of the day.

Newly learned flexibility and lots of discussion allowed us to come up with Plan B. We ditched the Tulip Festival for a clear day and instead watched for the second time in 24 hours "Saints Robikin, I mean Swiss Robertson" per Alli's request. We decided to divide and conquer the rest of the afternoon plans. I stayed home with the two sickies while Curt took Grant and Alli to Fun Center. They ditched mini-golf due to rain and opted to play the arcade instead. Grandpa Terry met them there and then they hooked up with Grandma Ru after work at Red Robin. Alli came home wearing the fanciest dress I have ever seen (think salsa dancer), her gift from Grandma and Grandpa. Apparently she was so thrilled to have a twirly dancing dress that she went out into the rain and put on a show for everyone who would watch from the front door. She prattled on and on and on about all the fun adventures they had and when she was all storied out, she prayed and thanked God that it was "finally my real birthday and that I'm finally six and that it was the best day ever. In my WHOLE life."

While they were gone, I dug out Alli's baby book and re-read the story of her birth. I had forgotten so many of the details and I giggled as I remembered all the specifics of how she arrived. In her own timing. Almost four weeks early. Fast -almost before the doctor arrived. And with guests. Grandma Marcy and Grandpa Don had flown in while I was in labor and they came in moments after Alli was born. We got to tell them, in person and not over the phone, "It's a girl" and hand over our newest bundle of joy. Such special memories.

Even in birth, Alli marched to the beat of her own drummer. She loves nothing more than having the wind full-on in her face, attacking life, kicking butt and taking names. Her movie-star lips pursed and a twinkle in her eye, she almost always looks like she's up to something, doesn't like to take no for an answer, and will love you for life if she senses you are willing to embrace all of who she is, even the naughty parts. She's organized and incredibly helpful. Give the girl a job and a sense of being in charge, and it's like having another adult in the house. She can't sit still to save her life, loves babies and invades their personal space, and is more social than any child I have ever been around. For every part bulldozer that she is, she is equal part social, compassion, and tender. Alli celebrated her sixth birthday in super-fabulous style, but I wouldn't expect anything else. After all, she is Alli.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Scoop, Scoop, Breathe

I am a BAD swimmer. I know I stated that when I first took swimming lessons and couldn't put my face in the water without having a panic attack. But in the eight months that I've been torturing myself in the water, not much has changed. And I don't say that with false humility - I really am a terrible swimmer. I was so busy trying not to either drown or have panic attacks that I developed a "stroke" that gets me safely through the water but looks horrendous.

Here's what my current swimming method is: my left arm comes out of the water while I gasp for air then my face goes back in the water and I kick wildly and flail my arms around under the water for a few strokes until I come back up, always on my left side, to catch a breath and swing my left arm out of the water. Face goes back in the water and repeat the process. Since I never turn my head to the right, I always swim crooked and run into the lane divider and any other unfortunate swimmer who happens to share a lane with me. While I know this isn't effective for the long-term, it at least gets me there and back, I can settle into a nice breathing pattern, and I'm pretty confident I could at least get around the lake in my triathlon this summer, as long as my crooked path keep me within the buoys.

Curt is off work today so I decided to go swim over lunch. The public pool was almost empty and I had an entire two lane segment to myself. Only problem was that my swim instructor from this summer was doubling as the life guard and I knew she'd be mortified at how bad my form was. After going through four pairs of defective goggles and settling on ones that fogged up but at least didn't leak, I confessed to her how embarrassed I was about my form. I swam a lap for her viewing pleasure and while I'm sure she was inwardly giggling, she managed to keep a straight face and say, "Well, you're not taking your arms out of the water except when you breathe. You're creating all this drag for yourself. It's (and now demonstrating from the life guard stand) scoop, scoop, breathe. Scoop, scoop, breathe on the other side." "Oh," I said, trying to act confident that I could indeed master "scoop, scoop, breathe" and then switch and do it on the other side.

Down and back I went. Chanting to myself, "Scoop, scoop, breathe" and chiding myself that "flail wildly in the water" was not part of the chant. I felt so awkward, like a fish out of water, and the familiar panic set in. "I can't catch a breath. What if I can't get a scoop in AND turn my head before I breathe? What if I inhale a bunch of water?" My lungs felt like they were going to explode, but I kept pushing off the wall, talking myself away from panic and into peace, and chanting over and over, "Scoop, scoop, breathe." Before I knew it, I swam 28 laps and while it definitely wasn't pretty, today was the first time I felt like I was actually swimming correctly. There might be hope for me after all.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saints Robikin


We watched Swiss Family Robinson with the kids last night as a pre-cursor to Alli's 6th birthday celebration today. Of course they loved it. What's not to love about a great family classic like that (except the huge snake wrestling scene which gives me nightmares)?

After weeks of sunny and gorgeous spring weather, it's raining, windy and cold today. Of course our plans for Alli's birthday included outdoor activities so we're scrapping our morning plans and laying low as a family. Since it's "anything you want day" on your birthday at our house, Alli requested that we re-watch "Saints Robikin, I mean Swift Robertson." How can you say no to that?

And Katie (7 years) made us laugh when she re-told a story. Apparently she told her friend's dad, "My Dad doesn't get spring break because he's a Physicianal Assistant." The extra "al" on the end of Physician was just to-die-for-cute!

More on Alli's birthday celebration later...

Valentines Day Gifts





My husband Curt says Valentines Day is a Halmark holiday created for the sole purpose of making money and I can't say that I disagree. Early in our marriage we felt obligated to celebrate so we'd set a small budget, buy each other traditional Valentine gifts, and go out to eat.

When we had Grant I got the noble idea of getting our photograph professionally taken to give to Curt. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but now I inwardly berate myself for setting up this tradition because coordinating outfits and attitudes times four kids is such a headache. Plus let's be honest - who, beside my husband, wants a picture of our entire family minus Curt? It just looks like something is missing. Nevertheless, this has become my gift to Curt and so each year I muster the gusto to follow through and get a photograph to replace the one from the year before.

A few years ago Curt asked me what I wanted for Valentines Day. My response surprised him. I said, "What I really want is for you to paint the bathroom." His quizzical, "REALLY?" was met with an enthusiastic "YES!" from me. Being a Get-it-done kind of guy, the kids bathroom was painted and put back together in less than 12 hours from the time I made my request. I felt so loved by Curt's act of service and by his speed in fulfilling my request and a new tradition was born. Every Valentines Day, Curt paints a room in our house for me.

This year we raised the bar and banned buying a card. We had to make a card or simply write each other a love letter. Curt wrote me a beautiful three-page love letter on legal pad paper that was so sweet it made me cry. I, being the non-crafty-person that I am, wrote in and assembled a card kit from MOPS and it actually looked similar to the sample on our table. (You can hold your applause for later).

Since I was sick over Valentines Day and Curt was busy holding down the fort, neither of us got around to our annual tradition until weeks after the fact. Two weeks ago, Curt and I worked together to give our powder room a face lift. He painted the walls and I spray painted everything in sight - my new favorite way to repurpose stuff I already have. We were both pleased with the outcome.

And yesterday, I finally got around to attempting the photos. I was going to use the self-timer, but as luck would have it, our 8-year-old neighbor was visiting so I entrusted her to be our photographer. There was one photo where we were all in the frame and I was set to use that as our "gift," until we decided to try again in the front yard. I was wrapping up photographing just the kids when an adult friend stopped by. I jumped in the photograph and VIOLA! Gift for Curt. It was fun to watch the kids yell, "Happy Valentines Day" and show him the slide show on the computer, and I enjoyed crossing "valentine pictures" off my ever-growing To Do list.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Avoiding Polygamy


So I'm talking to Paige, who just turned four years old, in the car on the way home from church. I ask her, "Did you see Jett tonight?"
Paige: "Who's Jett?
Me: "A little boy who is in your class. He's your age and looks just like you. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Really cute. He could be your brother."
After a long pause, she says, "Oh yeah. Him. Jett. I want to marry him."
Me: "Well that was sudden. What about Jude?"
Paige: "Oh yeah. I forgot about him. I want to marry him too."
Me: "Well you can't marry two people."
Paige: "Why not?"
Me: "Cause you just can't. Aren't you glad you don't have to make up your mind right now. How about instead of marrying them both, you're just friends with them both. When you get older you can decide who you want to marry."
Paige: "Oh." Long pause. "Okay."

Whew! And that's how our youngest avoided polygamy at the tender age of four.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Why Your Kids Should Go to Solid Rock



At Solid Rock, our church, all the different kids classes teach the same Bible story in an age appropriate way which I think is really cool. So even though our four kids are dispersed between three different classes, they're all studying the same Bible story.

In the car on the way home from church tonight, we asked the kids what story the studied. They all started talking over each other so we had to get their attention and set up a plan to let them each tell a part of the story. Here is my recollection of their story telling extravaganza.

Grant: "Well it was about role models and we learned about Eli-jelly-jah and Eli-sugar-sha. (Pause to giggle at the add-ins to Elijah and Elisha's name that they got from their super fun college-aged teacher.) Just like the Jeddi taught the FILL-IN-THE-BLANK-WITH-THE-WORD-THAT-STARTS-WITH-P-FOR-THE-STAR-WARS-ILLITERATE-PEOPLE-LIKE-GRANT'S-MOMMY-WHO-DON'T-KNOW-WHO-THE-JEDDI-TAUGHT, Elijah taught Elisha all he knew about God."

Katie interrupts to say: "Eli-jelly-jah was a VERY old man and he was going to die so he went around telling all his friends goodbye and that he'd miss them. And Eli-sugar-sha followed him around the whole time." Katie goes on to explain about Elijah's coat that had power from God and that Elisha wanted it passed on to him as the next leader of Israel with Elijah died.

Paige interrupts and starts going on and on and on with great excitement about her version of the story. She's trying so hard to differentiate between Elijah and Elisha but she physically can't say "Elisha" - it keeps coming out "Eli-JAH" with a huge emphasis on the "jah." Curt and I are doubled over in silent laughter while she prattles on and on about the two men who she is calling "Elijah." She finally gets to the point where God comes down from heaven in a mighty storm and a fiery chariot to whisk Elijah straight to heaven without dying and she describes the "tornodah, I mean tornadah that comed and got him."

Alli can't stand waiting any longer and bursts in with, "It was a tornado (pronounced correctly) and a fiery cherry-nut (charriot)."

Grant gets fed up with his sisters botching the story and says, "Excuse me, may I interrupt? Let me recap the story please," and proceeds to start from the beginning of the story that Alli just ended.

Katie lets Grant finish and then summarizes her takeaway for the night as we're pulling into the driveway: "That Eli-jelly-jah was a good roll modder, I mean roll modder, I mean roll MODEL (very slowly) to Eli-sugar-sha and that she should be a good roll modder, I mean roll rodder, etc. (until pronounced correctly) to Paige her little sister."

And that my friends, is why you should bring your children to Solid Rock.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Should Have Started in the Backyard







So Alli wore the outfit she chose for her six year old pictures to school today. It was totally Alli - bold, fun, sassy and colorful. While she was at school I edited the six pictures that were potentially usable from our failed photo shoot on Sunday. The general verdict was that I should try again to get some pictures that capture more accurately who Alli is. When she got off the bus, I hustled her into the backyard and took six quick pictures. It took about sixty seconds. They all turned out. Should have just started in the back yard!

Religion vs. Relationship

People sometimes describe me as a "religious person." While I know they intend this to be a compliment, I actually cringe whenever I hear it. The word "religious" brings to mind some ugly stereotypes -judgmental, fake, unattainable expectations, rules, rules and more rules, hypocritical, sanctimonious, and plastic people who try to present a perfect image on Sunday and live a totally different life the rest of the week. WHEW! Did I just say that out loud? While these stereotypes are not all-encompassing, there is an element of truth to them and I pray they do not characterize my life.

I was blessed to grow up with parents who love and follow Jesus. They passed a legacy of faith, love and service to Jesus on to my brother and I, and I will always be grateful to them for sharing their faith with me. I spent a good part of my childhood years acquiring knowledge about God. Even though the message of grace and authenticity with God was in the Bible I was studying, it was largely missed in my heart. In hindsight, I see that I was often "religious" in my behavior and as a result, abrasive with truth. My black and white approach to serving God ended up wounding myself, people I loved, and God.

In my early twenties I experienced relational turmoil and pain on a grand scale. The things I valued got turned upside down and it forced me to evaluate and wrestle with my perception of religion and God. Was this Jesus who I grew up loving like a family member really God? How could God say He is good and allow such awful things to happen to me? Is the Bible really the infallible living and active Word of God and the basis for all truth? What if it was all a farce? A man-made religion drawn up to answer tough questions and provide a false sense of hope in an ugly, cruel world?

Over the next few months, God and I duked it out. I dug into the Bible and read it with fresh eyes. I questioned everything. I prayed. I cried. I whined and complained. I verbally let God have it and told Him exactly what I thought about how my life was shaping up, where I thought He went wrong, and gave pretty explicit instructions on all the things He needed to change starting YESTERDAY.

It was liberating to be authentic with God. I had lived my life with the false assumption that I needed to clean up to come to God. That I couldn't approach Him unless I was in my Sunday-best clothes, freshly showered, perfumed and polite. To come to Him snotty-nosed, filthy inside and out, fists clenched and defensive and have Him still scoop me up into His arms, answer my questions, and calm my fears was life changing.

In my deep dark pit of sin and despair, I cried out to God. Like Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel, I wrestled with God. I wrestled with truth. With faith. And in my vulnerability, God revealed Himself to me. He whispered to my soul, "I am the way, the truth and life. I am bigger than your fears, your anger and your disappointments. I am God the Healer. I am God the Redeemer. I am God the Restorer of broken relationships. Do you trust me? Let's build a relationship together."

The past fourteen years have been a beautiful story of falling in love. With my Savior. My Redeemer. My Best Friend. My Forgiver. My God of Second (and third and fourth and 18,000) Chances. I don't want to be religious. I want to be known as a woman who walked with God in deep and intimate relationship.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Grant's Story - Wendall and Floyd's Secret Shortcut


So my son Grant, who is eight and in 3rd grade, had a creative writing assignment. His story made me laugh because it was really descriptive and he made his characters tackle every imaginable obstacle. With his permission to reprint, I've posted his unedited story below. Enjoy.

"Wendall and Floyd's Secret Shortcut

It was an ordinary day for Wendall and Floyd, but they had no idea what adventures would happen that morning.

Floyd showed up so early that Wendall was still in his pajamas (it was 5:00 a.m.) and he was nearly awake. So Wendall quickly got dressed and was ready in 15 minutes. Then Wendall said, "We can take a secret shortcut to school."

When they had just climbed over the fence, they heard a ear piercing noise and turned around and saw a gigantic volcano! It was erupting. Wendall and Floyd scurried to safety. Red hot lava was everywhere, it was nearly burning their shoes!

As they continued on their adventure, they came across a deep, rocky gorge. They were carefully crossing the bridge when Wendall slipped and Floyd quickly grabbed Wendall's foot. They fell down..down...down to the bottom of the gorge.

They fell straight into a river of man-eating crocodiles! The river was a white-water river, they were getting sucked down. They were swimming as hard as they could. Wendall and Floyd didn't know they were getting sucked into a whirlpool.

They popped straight into the forest of poky bushes. There they met a horrible 11-foot bear. Floyd got poked four times and Wendall two. They ate berries and picked acorns for a while.

As they continued on their adventure they came to Mt. Everest. They had to battle howling winds and freezing temperatures. The climb to the top took one hour.

Then they slipped and slid on a giant mudslide. Next, they stood on some nearby branches like a surfboard and slid down. On the way they got very muddy.

When they got to the bottom they realized they were in a hot (140F) desert. They explored and dodged tumbleweeds and looked at cactus's. But sunk into a bunch of quicksand. They fought as hard as they could, but sunk into the quicksand.

They found that they were in an underground tunnel. Wendall and Floyd had to battle millions of termites that bite very hard. It took 30 minutes to come to a small clearing in the tunnel. Wendall saw a vine coming through the ceiling so they climbed out.

They found themselves in a horrible jungle. They climbed trees and played with monkeys, but a lion tried to eat them. There was a nice monkey that showed them the way out of the jungle. The monkey's name was jorge he was a uakari monkey.

They went out of the jungle and heard a school bell ring "hurry up" said Floyd "that was the first bell". They made it just as the last bell rang. Although it was quite awhile until they were late for school again they never really did find a great shortcut."


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Richest of Foods


Yesterday, for no apparent reason except that I'm a woman and we're notorious for being emotionally unpredictable, I was very weepy. Everything, good and bad, evoked huge crocodile tears that dripped on my kitchen floor and made me feel very uncomfortable in my own skin. Thankfully, I spun off the Emotional Roller Coaster and woke up on Planet Normal this morning.

I can't help but brag on God a little though because after being in a spiritual drought, He brought refreshment to my soul yesterday. In my blog post I used the analogy of "rich" passages satisfying my spiritual hunger. Today, as I dripped sweat on the bike and squinted to read the tiny print in my carry-along Bible, I was blown away by God's goodness to confirm this to me by using the exact same verbage and analogy in the assigned reading for today.

Listen to David's beautiful poetry in Psalm 63. For being a dude, he is definitely in touch with his emotions. "O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.... Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you... Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me." Isn't that cool?

I have no tie-in for these verses except that I found them to be beautifully written and they were rich spiritual food for me today. Proverbs 4:18, "The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day," and Proverbs 4:23 says, "Above all else, guard the heart, for it is the wellspring of life." How is God feeding you today with the "richest of foods?"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The LORD Bless and Keep You


Grant, Curt and I are still plowing slowly through the Bible. "Cover to cover" is the theme for this year and for the past several weeks we've been stuck in the Old Testament books of Leviticus and Numbers. Not to be disrespectful because I'm sure there is a reason why God included such specific instructions about how to build the Tabernacle and all the alters, curtains and priestly clothing, but it has been hard for me to find any life application points for today given the fact that Jesus' atonement nullified the need for Old Testament sacrifices and rituals. And the myriad of very explicit rules about who to have sex with and when have made me think on more than one occasion, "I can't believe my eight year old son is reading this!" To our surprise, he hasn't had any questions about the sexual stuff and has actually thought all the detailed architectural plans and census taking that God included are quite fascinating. Yesterday, when we read about the specific number of men, ages 20 and older that could serve in the army, Grant came down thrilled to tell me which tribe had the most men and he even remembered the specific number of men from that tribe! I was blown away.

I don't find the census taking to be nearly as exciting as my mathematically minded son and while I've been getting my fill of Daily Bread, my emotional experience has tasted a lot like a steady diet of saltines with very few rich, gourmet meals. But today was different. I entered my time with God heavy-hearted and with a lot on my mind. Today I needed a gourmet meal, and as always, my Savior met me right where I was. He fed my soul with a steady diet of rich passages that spoke truth, comfort and hope to my soul, and the one that ministered to me the most was from the book of Numbers!

In Numbers 6:24-26, amid the counting and long lists of hard to pronounce Hebrew names, was the blessing from the priests. "The LORD bless and you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." The God of the Old Testament who is fierce, holy, mysterious, awe-inspiring and detail oriented, is also a personal God. One who wants to bless me. Keep me. Shine His face upon me. Be gracious to me. Turn His face toward me and give me peace. Today, I feel His gentle smile as He turns His face toward me and gives me peace.