Friday, December 23, 2011


Waiting for presents
Waiting to give
Waiting to receive
Waiting to know
Waiting to reveal
Waiting to see, to play, to open
Waiting to discover
Waiting to come
Waiting to go
Waiting for loved ones to arrive
Waiting for readiness
Waiting for news
Waiting for a hero
Waiting for something long awaited
Waiting for redemption
Waiting for resolution
Waiting for a Savior
For a Messiah
For the second Adam
For a Redeemer
Waiting for forgiveness
Waiting for a miracle
Waiting for deliverance
Waiting for healing
Waiting for Salvation

If your kids can't sleep, tell them the story. Adam and the serpent and the fall. The shedding of blood needed for the remission of sins. The increase of wickedness. The need for redemption. The longing and groaning of the creation for the Savior. The man Abraham. Isaac, Jacob and his sons. Moses and the Israelites. Joshua, the judges. The cycle of sin and judgement and repentence and rescue. The desire for a king and the getting of one. The repeated following of king after king in the worship of idols. The wickedness of man and the grace of God toward those who called on His Name. The desperate need of a people of a Savior. The prophets of old speaking for years of things like a virgin birth and a King to come, dying and laying dead for hundreds of years never seeing their words fulfilled.

Longing. Waiting. Messiah.

God become flesh, a tiny secret, a baby. But God told the secrets to unlikely hearers. Dirty stinky shepherds. Foreign pagan astrologers. A pregnant 60 year old barren woman with a dumb husband. Weird.

The most anticipated secret of the universe told to the most unlikely ears. Oh, and Mary. And Joseph. Now there are a couple unlikely heroes.

Tell them about the waiting for and the unlikely "wrapping" of the Greatest Gift Ever!

That'll give them something to think about, while they are waiting.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How we do Christmas

First of all, regarding Santa Claus, we tell our kids whenever it comes up that Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, is real, is dead, is in heaven worshipping Jesus. We tell them the reindeer flying, elf employing, North Pole dwelling version is for fun but sometimes gets in the way of people really celebrating Jesus.

We wrap up pieces of the nativity set we have and open each of them, including the manger, minus the Baby Jesus, on Christmas Eve, with our youngest person (not baby) opening the last piece. Then we look around, throw up our hands, and ask, mysteriously, where is Baby Jesus??? Oh, we all realize together, He isn't born yet, tomorrow is His birthday. We leave cookies, milk and carrots out for the imaginary Santa, and go to bed.

During the night, my husband and I (and any any older kids that can't sleep) take all the presents to the tree and fill the stockings with candy and a poptart and/or granola bar in hopes that something breakfasty might enter their mouths between Reese cups.

This year, we'll open the stockings before church, and the rest after lunch. Our children exchange names and "buy" each other gifts from the Awana store. They also divy up the parents and grandparents and buy for them as well.

We don't try to buy the same number of gifts for each, nor do we honestly spend the same amount of money for each. We don't want their lists. They can use Christmas money from grandparents to buy things they want. We are buying gifts for our children, so we choose what we think will delight them and encourage them to be who they are in the things they like and are good at. So exciting to think and talk together about our children and who they are becoming, as they get older.

For the oldest we got a green . . . oh wait, she might read this!

We will read the Christmas story again, and either on Christmas or before, each child will choose a gift for Jesus for His birthday - a Matthew 25, for the least of these, kind of gift. Blankets for a child, a goat for a family, that sort of thing. Samaritan's Purse is my favorite.

The rest of the day will be spent, I hope, playing games together, enjoying each other and our new things, cooking, napping, reading, singing, hugging.

And that is Christmas at our house, in a nutshell.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas

I haven't written for a while, and I'm not sure when I will again. It's been a little crazy.

We got a dog. I mean, we received a dog. That is fun and not as life altering as I expected. It is just another creature to love in my house, another mouth to feed, another potty training to accomplish. But there is room in my heart to love him. Plenty.

We're trying desperately to get a little more school squeezed in before we give up completely for the holiday season. Very difficult. Very.

I have enjoyed greatly the anticipation of having gifts to give to my children this year.

I am greatly blessed, and I know it.

Both the babies are walking, one with more skill than the other. The eldest is driving, cooking and painting. The second is carving, shooting, and crafting cardboard into the Roman Coliseum. The third is writing a book and playing the piano and singing. Loudly. The fourth is reading. The fifth is loving the dog. The sixth is giggling and wrestling. The seventh is quoting movies and memorizing scripture. The eighth is drawing. The ninth is biting and hitting and apologizing for biting and hitting. The tenth is uggling and elbowing the 11th out, or dragging the 11th around by the arms. The eleventh is dancing and singing. The twelfth is chasing the dog.

We put up our tree, lights on the banisters, Christmasy things in the window sills. We shopped and shopped and found treasures to delight. I've been planning meals that feel special and holiday-ish.

And the waiting until Christmas morning is tangible. 12 people know something wonderful is happening soon. 2 don't suspect anything. They'll learn, soon enough.

I don't have anything special to write. I love Christmas. I love buying gifts with my husband, for my children. I love that my husband is going to home for 5 days straight. I love decorating and wrapping and giving gifts to people I love. I love that God became a man, a baby, an embryo, a fetus, a fertilized egg. I love that He was a secret in a young woman's heart. I love that Elizabeth knew. I love that He humbled Himself to become a newborn, an infant, a toddler, a teenager. I love that He submitted Himself to human parents. I love that He understands, because He lived it, life here, veiled in flesh.

I love Christmas carols and all the marvelous truth embedded in them. I don't even mind snow carols and Santa carols. But I love the Jesus carols the best. And I love presents and parties and lights and ornaments. But I love Jesus the best. There is no conflict for me about this season. Jesus is Christmas. Christmas is Jesus. The Word become flesh and dwelt among us. The Incarnation. Emanuel. God with us.

I heard a friend say it well recently. Some people don't celebrate Christmas because Jesus wasn't really born then. But if not now, when? Because there are very few things in the history of the universe more worthy of celebrating than God become man. I cannot fathom anything more worth a party than that, except that He died and rose again for us.

And sharing that marvelous gift with my children and giving them gifts as well is delightful. I can teach them in the process that Christmas is about Jesus. God gave Jesus. Jesus gave Himself, His life. They get it. He is the best gift.

Anyway, this has been pretty rambly, sorry, I'm scattered. I have presents to wrap, a house to clean, and I am seriously not caught up on laundry from Thanksgiving travels. I've gotten within a couple loads, but then people keep wearing clothes!

Blessings! May your heart be pregnant with His love, full and overflowing! Joy to the world! Let every heart prepare Him room. Let Heaven and nature sing!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sweet Things

So I'm not eating sugar, or even sweet things very much right now. Sometimes fruit, sometimes a tiny bit of sweetener on ricotta cheese. But not much.

And yet, my life is full of sweetness. Here is some of it.

Baby girl calling me Mama
Hugs and "uggles" from the 2 year old
Eldest daughter and second son sitting at the piano singing together while one of them plays
Any of my Bigs reading to any of my Littles
The moment my husband comes home
Having a laundry basket full of 100+ pairs of matched socks
The big brown eyes of my fifth son
My children dancing
Realizing that 4th daughter and 5th son, who normally fight, have been playing together for hours
Eldest son leaning down and kissing me and asking if I'm okay
Second daughter's smile
Third daughter's dimples
Squishy baby boy that fits just right in my arms
Third son's bedtime need for my hug, in his bed, and telling me I am the supermom
Fourth son's eyes, so blue I want to go swimming in them
Freckles on their faces
Phrases like, "Can I help you mom?" and "What can I carry?"
The moment at night when all is silent and I am done being Mom for the night (or at least for a little while)
Knowing what is for dinner (or breakfast, or whatever) and having everything I need to make it and time to get it made
Getting out the door on time with socks and shoes and clean clothing on 14 clean bodies (at least I imagine that would be sweet)
Having time with Jesus on a fairly regular basis
Knowing that He is with me all the time, near when I am broken hearted, and waiting on high to show compassion to me
Knowing He delights in me, in my weak "yes", in my bumbling sporadic obedience
Pleasing my mother in law
When my dad says I'm doing a good job
Laying down at night next to the man of my dreams and knowing he feels the same way about me

Things I've learned

So I hope that in 5 or 10 years I will begin my blog with the sentence, "It's been this many years since I lost all that weight and I am still doing well."

Of course, that is not today. Today I can say that since Mother's Day I have lost nearly 50 lbs, one fifth of my body weight. And so, I am not yet an expert on living healthy long term. But I am here and not there, so I can only speak to this. And in this place, here are the things I have learned.

Everything tastes better when you do not have refined sugar in your life.

Even small amounts of sugar or white flour wake up my food-craving engine, and in a matter of minutes I can go from perfectly-content-with-an-appropriate-portion-of-whatever to ravenously-starving-need-to-eat-the-world. It is like the scene from Finding Nemo, when Bruce the teetotaling shark gets a whif of Dori's nose bleed. That's how I feel.

I feel completely different internally about myself and life when I am not controlled by my appetite. I feel smaller and more serious, and yet full of joy and freedom.

A big (24 oz) drink of water picks me up just like a cup of coffee.

I feel very full and satisfied when I eat a meal of good protein, healthy veggies, and a small amount of cheese.

When I have grains, even really incredibly healthy grains, it is hard to stop.

There is a limit to my good decision making capacity. I cannot continue to say no forever in a difficult situation.

I am firmer in my committment to others, be it the Lord, my sister, my husband, than I am to myself.

Being thinner means being colder.

That's what I have so far.

My new goal is to lose another 25 lbs by Valentine's Day, and another 25 by Mother's Day, which would be 100 pounds in a year. And I still won't be at my desired healthy weight, but I will be ever so much nearer than I have been in nearly 20 years. I may be unrecognizable. Hard to imagine. I guess I'll just look like my mom. A good thing.

Friday, November 18, 2011


Here I am, your personal Biggest Loser meets The Duggars, fat mom with a lot of kids trying to become healthier/smaller/more disciplined.

I have now lost nearly 50 lbs. That puts me at hovering just above 200, just above my husband, just above the least I've weighed in memorable history. I weighed something like 154 when I got married 18+ years ago. And I'm pretty sure we didn't have a scale for the first year or two of our marriage. So, although I am sure I knew I was gaining weight, gaining girth, clothes getting smaller, I didn't really know what the damage was, probably until pregnant with our first child.

I don't remember what I weighed at the beginning of that first pregnancy, but I remember I was fat enough to ask another, fatter woman if people would even be able to tell I was pregnant. I weighed 238 the day my daughter was born.

I lost a lot of weight before becoming pregnant again, and got down to either 198 or 189, can't remember which. But that was the last time I was under 200.

And now, here I am, tottering on the brink. I can reach the other side. I will. But then I'm not sure what happens.

What happens when I weigh less than I have in nearly 15 years? What happens when I finally weigh less than my husband? What is my next milestone to shoot for? I have a lofty goal, to weigh 132 lbs. But that is a very long weigh off (pun intended).

I don't know. It's something to think about.

For now, I'm just trying to stop eating crap long enough to get to the first marker.

To weigh less than 200 lbs, at 5 foot 1 inch, would put me in the category of Way More Normal.

To weigh less than my husband, well, would make me feel like a woman. Desirable. I can't wait and never, ever want to go back.

To weigh in the 180's might mean buying normal clothes at normal stores, in sizes without X's.

To weigh in the 160's would put me nearer to my lovely sisters.

To weigh in the 150's I could fit in my wedding dress.

To weigh much less and I could share clothing with my daughters conceivably, someday.

I could be healthy enough to not have high blood pressure, healthy enough to sustain healthy pregnancies.

And yet.

I have come so far, lost so much, and yet, I can blow it all in a day, seemingly. It seems that this many miles into success, that failure ought not be just behind me. But pigging out is so tempting. My daughter looking through her new cookbook frankly depresses me. Thinking about the holidays scares the crap out of me.

I'm afraid to fail, and just as afraid to succeed. So much better to have stayed fat than to get fat again.

And so I find myself again in desperate need of the One who doesn't change.

He said to me, you don't need sugar, you don't need caffeine. So, every so often, I will have a little of those. But mostly, I need protein, I need veggies, I need water, I need to move my body around. I need Jesus. That's my plan.

So help me God.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

somebody else wrote this

But I'm reposting it here, because, well, it's better than anything I could say.

Real Life Adoption Story For National Adoption Month-
By Kim Green

Our daughter Selah was born last year with only a brain stem (no brain) and only lived 55 days. She was conceived in rape and placed for adoption with our family at 2 days old. 11 days after she was born, her birth mom (a life long muslim) called me and said she wanted to become a Christian- she wanted the Jesus we had. She died on my chest 4 days after the court finalized her adoption. The below is a post I wrote that I thought I'd share on fb too:
I'm sitting here bawling right now. I just had the most amazing conversation with Selah's birth mom. I hadn't talked to her since May despite my trying to call/text her, I got nothing back. The last time I spoke to her, there were some family issues, and sadly, I had thought that maybe she left the state. Then out of the blue, I got an envelope from her. In it was a card made by her other two kids and a bill re: Selah I had told her to send me way back in April (said we'd pay- back when we had money! lol!). On the outside of the envelope, was a note saying she missed me so much, so much had happened, and to call her at her new number.

I called her today and instantly, I knew something had changed just by the sound of her voice. It turns out LOTS has happened in the last five months. She had gotten in a car accident and her phone had broken... explains why I couldn't get a hold of her. The good news though: Her other two kid's dad got out of jail, she got married to him, AND she is now pregnant with a healthy little boy. Here is the best part - that part that makes me weep- when S. got out of jail, she told him that she loved Jesus now and had given her life to Him and he needed Him as well. He now too is a Christian and as she put it, they are "all on fire for the Lord" now. She told me that she needed more worship cds because they had worn the others out - lol!

Serious tears.

This is why I am pro-life no matter the life circumstances, the circumstance of the conception, or whatever "impairment" may be detected prenatally. GOOD ALWAYS COMES FROM TRUSTING GOD.

Yes, she was raped - horrible.
Yes, she is poor - horrible.
Yes, the baby was not "compatible with life"- horrible.

(Rom 8:28)


Even rape.
Even disabilities.
Even poverty.


This entire family, 4 members (soon to be 5), came to Christ through a little girl who never said a word and our family who loved her and her birth family for who they were. Unconditionally. I wish you could have heard her voice- you'd believe too.

Genesis 50:20, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Running out of time

I have heard it is extremely rare for women to get pregnant after age forty without some kind of fertility assistance. Anecdotally, the people I've talked to personally were mostly 42 or younger when their youngest child was born. I think I know of a woman or two who were 43 or 45.

At best, I probably have 2, maybe 3 pregnancies left in me. Or 1. Or none.

I am enjoying my 12 children. Each is unique, amazing, delightful. And I would love very much to have a dozen more. Or 8. Or 2. Or 1.

I am okay with none. But I would prefer to have more.

So (laugh if you like) my 3rd son and I are praying for twins. Having done the virtual twin thing and survived, we think maybe we can pull it off. I would love to have 2 more and 2 more and 2 more children. Or just 2 more.

I also think about adopting out of the foster system. I'm told we have too many children to be allowed to actually foster, but that we could adopt children who are in the foster system who have already had their parental rights terminated.

So, sometimes, when I think of it, I'm praying for those kids out there, who might be born already, that might be mine someday. I pray that they would be protected from harm at the hands of their birth parents, their foster parents, and the enemy of their souls. I pray that God would visit them in dreams, in visions, that they would know Him even before we know them. Hey, if John the Baptist could be filled with the Spirit in his mother's womb, I guess my future children could encounter Him in their early years as well. And just because my kids come from a messed up environment doesn't mean they have to be messed up by that environment.

I know that my diaper days are drawing to a close. Way more is behind me than is ahead of me. And that is okay. I will let those days go.

I know that time with my older kids is also running out. That makes me more nervous for the boys than the girls. Have I prepared them for the future? For being husbands and fathers? For providing for families, for earning a living?

I have helped them to hide God's Word in their hearts, to value what is important, to save their hearts till marriage, to guard their eyes and minds and hearts, to choose friendships well. But have I prepared them for life outside my home? To work their way through college, to pursue a job, to balance life and work and church and school?

I guess some of these things are learn as you go. And I hope, if the relationship we have now continues, that I will be able to help as they learn those lessons.

And I guess that is what helps when I start to feel the "running out of time" panic - I am not really running out of time. I will continue to bear fruit in some way, even as I'm older. I will continue to parent my children in different ways, even as I'm older. I will still accomplish what God has given me to do, because my biological clock does not govern my eternal clock. Sigh of relief.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Heritage of faith

I'm sitting at my dad's computer, in my dad's chair, reading my dad's Bible. I love my heritage of faith.

I love that my dad and my daughter encourage each other reading their Bibles.

I love that my mom is a crazy flag waving worshiping dancer and that my children love to worship in expressive ways.

I love the memory of my grandparents voices uplifted in worship of the King, "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long."

I love the heritage of my Auntie Evelyn and my Aunt Gin, my Uncle Charlie and my Uncle Jim, all giving years and hours of their lives singing and playing piano and guitar, leading many in songs of praise and worship, and discipling me to do the same. They were heroes in my eyes, and the beginnings of dreams planted in my young heart.

Though I don't remember, I know I have a deep heritage of faith that began in a little country church in Kansas also.

I have grown up into the faithfulness of generations who have served Him faithfully. Not that there are not prodigals in my family, there are. Some walk near, some farther. But the foundation is there for us to build on, or run from.

How very precious, not just in memory, but in the strength that I feel pouring over the Bible my father reads every day, loving the same God, laying the same firm foundation, building his house, and my house, upon the Rock.

Reminds me of Amy Grant's old Christmas song, Heirlooms (which my mother likes a little too much, smile).

Up in the attic, down on my knees
Lifetimes of boxes, timeless to me
Letters and photographs, yellowed with years
Some bringing laughter, some bringing tears
Time never changes the memories
The faces of loved ones who bring to me
All that I come from
And all that I live for
And all that I'm going to be
My precious family is more than an heirloom to me

Wisemen and shepherds, down on their knees
Bringing their treasures to lay at His feet
Who was this wonder, Baby yet King
Living and dying, He gave life to me
Time never changes the memory
The moment His love first pierced through me
Telling all that I come from
And all that I live for
And all that I'm going to be
My precious Jesus is more than an heirloom to me
My precious Savior is more than an heirloom to me

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Mark

Eleven and a half years ago something went wrong. My cousin and his wife were due to have a baby, their first, the day after I was due to have my fourth. That was supposed to be mid-July.

What went wrong was that baby Mark was born in March. Early. Too early. Or so it seemed. Defying all probabilities, Baby Mark, weighing in at, I think, something like 1 pound, 2 ounces, entered the ring of life with serious obstacles.

And he defied them all. Brain bleeds, premature lungs, reflux and feeding issues, shunt malfunctions, and frankly, lots of stuff I don't remember or never knew about. I have no ideas how many surgeries the boy went through.

But he went through them all and won.

Until yesterday.

Sunday afternoon sometime, I received a call. It was not the first such call. They haven't been very frequent for a while, and because he always pulled through, we kind of figured he always would. This time he didn't.

It went something like this: Mark has been having some headaches and upset stomach, so they took him to the hospital. He walked in. Two hours later, he stopped breathing, in what they now believe was a stroke. Later, after being transferred to another, better hospital, he had another. He also had 2 surgeries and a seizure that night. At 1 a.m., the call to pray was heavy.

At 4 we prayed. At 7 I learned they would give him 24 hours to show some sign his brain was alive. At 3 or so, his vitals started to drop. A little after 7, he was gone.

Maybe 26 hours. He walked in. Then he was gone.

I'm working on a song, because, that's how I process things. It's what I do.

Something like this:

The first time I held your hand
Smaller than I ever knew a hand could be
I trembled
I slid my ring up on your leg
And marveled at the perfect way
He formed your hand
I held it

Then a million years went by
Till the day I finally held your tiny frame
Didn't breathe,
couldn't believe I held you then
So long I waited for that day
To hold my son
I held you

But I know Who holds you now
But I know Who holds you now
But I know Who holds you now
He's holds me too

I have held you many times
With each surgery
And every wounded knee
I kissed you and I prayed
God would see you through
And hold you

Every time I let you go
with the knowledge that
the One Who gave you life
loves you even more than I
and holds you

See I know Who holds you now
Yes I know Who holds you now
Yes I know Who holds you now
He holds me too

He holds the universe together
He holds the wind in His fists
He holds my tears in a bottle
He holds my life, my heart

And I know Who holds you now
Yes I know Who holds you now
Yes I know Who holds you now
He holds me too

Faithful and good and true
Perfect and worthy
Gentle and wonderful
Is the One Who holds you
Who holds me and you

Okay, it's not done, but you get the point.

Baby Mark, who hasn't been a baby for a long time, has been such a fighter, we just thought he'd keep on fighting. But he lost finally. Or rather, he won, in a different way.

We know he is fine now. No shunt, no more surgeries, no little barely noticable limp, no glasses, no scars.

But for us, it's just, no Mark. No Mark smiles or jokes or hugs. No son, no brother, no cousin. There's just a Mark shaped hole, like a Grand Canyon, right in the middle of our hearts.

I'm far away. Mark was not the center of my world, except on days when the phone would ring in the scary, Mark needs prayer, kind of way. But people I love are dying inside today.

Jesus, You loved and lost and wept. Even knowing the end from the beginning, even knowing healing was coming, and eternity wasn't far off, You wept. Maybe You are even weeping with us now.

You are near to the broken hearted. Please help us feel You as near as our pain, as near as our tears. And in the days ahead, as that Grand Canyon where Mark used to be, was supposed to be, widens, please fill it with Your healing love. And someday, please, give joy for our mourning.

Friday, October 14, 2011

THIS is halloween

I was walking into Walmart yesterday with my oldest son (yes, I still go there) and we saw peeking out of the back of a car/van/truck/vehicle with a hatchback (what are those things anyway) what looked to be a dead bloody forearm and hand. Isn't that funny? Amber alerts about missing children, horrible months long searches for bodies, and we think a dead hand sticking out the back of a vehicle is a fun joke.

"THIS is halloween," I said to my son.

An hour later we were in a grocery store and there standing by the self check out lane was a lifesized cardboard cut out of what was meant to be a demonized woman. She looked frightening and sick and terrible.

I said, "THAT is halloween."

We can eat candy every day. We can dress up in costumes as often as we like. Halloween isn't dressing up, and halloween isn't eating candy.

Halloween is fear, murder, violence and death.

Look around. Tombstones, dead rotten hands sticking up out of the ground, pretend bloody knives sticking out of someone's back or head, fake corpses hanging from trees, this is what we accept at this time of year. My children received a fun cookbook with recipes for food that looks like fingers that have been cut off.


Skeletons, ghosts, vampires, witches - none of these things are cute.

I have a rule in my house that we do not pretend to be evil. Not in games, not on the Wii, and certainly not on halloween. It glorifies the sin. It teases the lowest part of our flesh into thinking there is something we are missing out on by doing right.

If there were no God, no devil, no supernatural realm, I still think halloween would be sick and wrong. But there is a God, and there is a real devil, and halloween is a day in which the latter revels.

Death, dismemberment, demon possession, seduction, fear, violence, murder . . . these are things celebrated on that day. This is halloween.

So what do we do? What should we do? As Christians, or even as people who do not love darkness, what can we possibly do?

I have two possible plans:

Plan A: get to a local house of prayer, and just pray and worship all day, fasting sugar.

Plan B: still fasting sugar, and worshipping and praying all day at our house, string lights all over the front of the house and give out flashlights with cards made by my kids saying things like, "Jesus is real so you don't have to be afraid."

Not sure what we will do, but whatever it is, I hope very much to punch holes in the darkness, not just accept it, and certainly not join it. I don't celebrate planting, or spring, or winter, or summer, I see no reason to have a halloween party and pretend like it is a celebration of fall or the harvest. Let's be honest with ourselves and take some ground. There is a battle, whether we acknowledge it or not.

A tree is known by its fruit, and the companion of fools will suffer harm. The fruit of what our culture does on October 31 is death and fear, not to mention gluttony. The enemy knows what that day is, but He Who is in us is greater than he. We have authority to cast out demons, heal the sick and raise the dead.

Don't join 'em. Beat 'em!

Forty one tomorrow

He had blue eyes and a warm smile. He was older than me. And he loved his mother. These were the features that drew me to the man I eventually married.

I learned later that he was gentle, patient, and conservative. And a hard worker. Whatever the opposite of a procrastinator is, that was him. If a professor gave a 4 week deadline on a project, he was the guy who had it all but done the first week, and was distracted from his final tweeking the last week by all the people just starting and needing his help.

I remember around Easter of our first year together we were eating at Ponderosa and he started to cry. I said, "Why are you crying?" He responded, "Jesus died, for me." And he had me.

I said, there are, maybe, guys who are more charming, more romantic, better dancers, but all that, I can live without. This passion for Jesus - that's something I can't.

So the man I married was a wonderful, Jesus-loving, tenderhearted hardworker.

But the amazing thing is that he has become more wonderful, more godly, more pleasant, more wise, stronger, braver, and better looking with each passing year. Then he was a young man, a new husband, a new employee. Now he is a good husband (indication: happy wife), a great father to 12 gifts from the Lord, a manager and a leader, a songwriter and worshipper, a man of courage and discernment and passion. He is bold and deliberate. He is a real man.

Tomorrow he will be forty-one. Forty one years of getting better and better. How amazing my husband will be when he is 60!!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Praise vs Worship

I get it.

I should probably apologize for all the eye rolling and arguing I've done in the past regarding this subject. (If I have many more blog-about-faces, I'm going to have to rename the blog, "Crow for dinner".) I just didn't get it, and I do now.

Praise is a choice. It is an action, giving what is due to the one (One) who rightfully deserves it. It is logical. It is deliberate. We praise Jesus because He is worthy. We give Him our praise. It is conscious.

Worship is a response, a reaction. Worship is what happens when we encounter Him. Worship is the way we feel, the way we are, the way we cannot help but to be in the face of His beauty, His majesty, His excellencies.

Praise can be commanded, worship cannot.

It is appropriate to praise, regardless of feeling or emotion, even contrasting it. Worship happens in spirit and truth.

And I think praise often leads to worship. We exalt Him, He reveals Himself to us, we worship.

Anyway, sorry to everybody I ever argued with about the terms "praise" and "worship". You know who you are. Praise is exalting Him, first person, second or third. Worship is our response to the exalted Him.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Raising the bar

For a long time, my answer to any disappointment in marriage has been simple: lower my expectations.

I have adjusted my marital expectations to be as follows. My husband, who is a wonderful, godly, patient, kind, selfless, gentle (pick a fruit of the Spirit, he's got it), beautiful man, has a limited number of hours in his day, is limited in his ability to meet my needs and those of our children, therefore, I will not place demands on him for what I need emotionally, but rather put my hope and trust in the Lord to meet all my needs, sometimes through said wonderful husband, sometimes other ways.

Sounds godly, no?

In fact, if you read back far enough, you will find this posture expressed in the form of advice.

But recently I have felt challenged by the Lord to contend for more. I believe He wants our marriage to look like the relationship between Jesus and His bride. And that is a little different. He wants me to hope for more. He doesn't want me to absolve my man of all responsibility for our marriage, and just hope God will make me happy. He actually placed responsibility for our marriage on my husband's shoulders.

What does this mean? What do I do with this? Well, I did communicate with him. And handed the reins to him. And now I pray, and wait, and trust. Because his heart is still God's responsibility, and so is mine. But now I hope.

I'm hoping for more coming together in our relationship with the Lord and each other. I'm hoping for more conversations that are either able to happen simultaneously with chaos, or snatching moments separate from it, more conversations that go beyond what to pick up from Aldi, when to buy a new laptop, and all things relating to the budget. I'm hoping to show my children a marriage that they will hold out for and want to emulate. I'm hoping to have a relationship that teaches each of us and those around us about how Jesus loves His church, and how His church trusts in Him.

That's raising the bar.

Monday, October 03, 2011

On the wall

I wrote a song not long ago - sorry I don't have a high-tech (or even low tech) way to let you hear it here, but it goes like this:

Come take your place upon the wall
See your enemy draws near
Come take your place upon the wall
Follow hard and do not fear
You've neglected it too long
And now the time has come
Build me a stone wall

It was inspired by a couple sermons preached by Lou Engle and Tammy Riddering, which were in turn inspired by Nehemiah, regarding the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem after the exiles returned from Babylon. But they were preaching about prayer, building a wall of prayer.

It struck me yesterday, why I am so pumped about my little night watch. I'm part of this Moravian Night Watch. And I have found my way to the 2 or 3 a.m. slot. I tried doing the late night positions, but that meant staying up really late. By doing the middle of the night, I go to sleep when I'm tired, wake up to pray, and go back to sleep.

But none of those things is easy. Going to sleep isn't always easy - I'm kind of a night owl, and sometimes there is too much to do, my head buzzing.

I'm a light sleeper, so waking up is not hard, but waking up enough to pray and read my Bible without nodding off, and with any sense of actually communing with God, well, that's a different story. I am often numb for the first half hour of my watch.

I've gotten very creative about finding ways to stay awake. When it was hot out I would take a cold shower for most of it, 'cept you can't have a Bible in the shower. Standing, walking, marching in place, dancing. Mostly I do things like scrub my kitchen floor, match socks, iron shirts, and my favorite, the one most likely to really wake me up - process dirty cloth diapers. I can frequently be found at 2:20 in the morning sitting in my kids bathroom with one hand on my Bible and my other in the toilet, cleaning poop off a bumgenius before I wash it.

What do I pray about, with my hand swirling in poo? Whatever the Lord brings to mind. I pray for our nation and its leader, for leaders in my church, in our house of prayer, in my city. I pray for Israel, for the peace of Jerusalem. I pray for Muslims to have dreams and visions about Jesus, and to learn what a wonderful Father God is. I pray for prodigals who have walked away to come home and find Him waiting for them. I pray for the unborn to have life and for the next generation to have their life in Him. I wage war, tear down strongholds, rebuke demons. I also hear the voice of my Beloved, loving me.

And so by the end of my watch, I'm wide awake. And going back to sleep is almost as challenging as waking up was.

Don't be impressed. Like I said, it is often numb, difficult, weak, fumbling. Often, I have the fervency of a stone.

But that's what I'm so excited about. I am a stone. A living stone on the wall. I don't have to be impressive. Stones seldom are. I'm just there, part of the wall. I'm one of many. But I'm there, showing up.

And after years of longing to be part of the house of prayer, the global prayer movement, which I love, partnering with the Lord to bring His glory here - I'm doing it! I'm on the wall, in my obscure, stinky, middle of the night fashion.

And there has been grace for this. I am eating and living healthier, but I can say that I am not just exhausted all the time. I am okay. I'm not falling asleep during school, not tired when driving, not losing my temper with my children, not acting despondent and hopeless with my husband (all normal exhausted-me symptoms). I may be even thriving. Not for amazingness. Just for love.

I love that each night I have a weak, unimpressive, half-asleep date with the Lover of my soul. And I love that as a mom of many, I still get to be part of the night warriors taking the kingdom by force in prayer.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weight Watchers

That is, my weight watchers. This is not a weight loss blog. Except when it is. Unfortunately for the reader, this blog is not topic specific. So today, I'm writing about my perilous fitness journey.

I haven't written for a while, which either means I'm doing terrible or wonderful. Hooray, I'm doing well. I've lost 33 lbs since whenever I started in the spring or early summer - I can't remember.

I'm probably doing it the wrong way, in that I haven't started really exercising yet, I'm just eating differently.

First, I went off sugar and refined flour. Then a week ago, I dropped coffee and limited my carb intake. I'm sort of following the "eat right for your type" blood type eating guide. I'm an O, I think. But I honestly think the whole thing is hogwash. The reason people lose weight if they do that diet is because the portions are specific. I'm convinced that you could follow any of his plans, A, B, AB, or O, and lose weight. But perhaps some foods work better for some than others.

At any rate, the eating structure for people with blood type O is just a restricted Atkins diet as far as I'm concerned. With these exceptions: he rates foods as beneficial, neutral, and to be avoided. And those guidelines are pretty much for life. He says type O people need to live in a pretty much constant state of ketosis, not just to lose weight. When you are not trying to lose weight, you can eat more of the highly beneficial and neutral foods, but that I shouldn't really ever eat a whole lot of avocados or bread. I'm okay with that for the most part. Here is what I'm eating each day, roughly:

4 protein servings (almond butter, eggs, meat, poultry, fish)
4-6 vegetable servings
1-2 fruit servings
1-2 whole grain servings, but not every day
1 butter or cheese or milk
green tea, at will
coffee once a week
lots of water

I had a small piece of cake and a very small amount of ice cream for my daughter's birthday. The cake wasn't good to me, so I only ate half. The ice cream was delicious.

Having the mind set that my body doesn't process those "bad" foods properly means I can do it every so often, I just won't lose weight then. It is a little less foreboding than seeing foods as never or always. I still think I need to avoid sugar and white flour as much as possible because they start my craving engine up. But I was not afraid to celebrate the birthday.

Mostly, it feels good to be free. I do not feel like a slave to my appetite.

Some of my clothes are getting pretty big. I am only about 1/4th of the way to what I believe is a truly healthy weight for me, based on what my mother weighs. I don't know if it is realistic, but I think it is right to try to get there. If I start looking unhealthy as I get closer, I'll reassess. If I really get to my goal and like myself there, I will have lost nearly half of myself. And I hope my skin will keep up.

Plans to start moving are small. I'm going to try to go up and down stairs 10 times each day, do 3x20 sets of push ups and crunches or weights each day, and hopefully get on the treadmill 10 minutes each day. If I did any of those any day, that would be an improvement.

So there's your update, in case you wondered.

He must increase, and I must decrease. Literally.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

White pride

Okay, first of all, I am going to be politically incorrect here and use the terms White and Black because a) I have read and heard a number of Black people say they prefer those terms and b) it is faster and easier to type. Please know that when I say Black, I mean a person of African ancestry with brown skin, and when I say White, I mean a person lacking melanin of some European ancestry with much, much lighter brown skin.

The other day I did something that, in retrospect, was quite ironic, but it was what it was, and it's been bothering me, so I'm writing about it. (This is, by the way, my 3rd attempt to write about it, and I'm not sure this will get published either.)

I went out of my way to say hi to a Black lady at soccer. Not because I am a genuinely friendly person, but because she was the only Black mom there, and I didn't want her to feel a certain feeling I like to call I-was-the-only-Black-person-there-and-not-a-single-soul-talked-to-me.

It was one of the coolest conversations I was ever a part of. Not cool as in awesome. Cool as in, frigid, Antarctic, penguin exhibit cool. Cold.

It rapidly became apparent that this classy beautiful woman with her ducks in a row and every hair in place DID NOT NEED my condescension. She didn't need my pity. She certainly didn't need me to be the ambassador for all the White people, the trans-racial welcome wagon.

I only went over because she was Black. She knew it, and I knew it. It was a racist gesture. Well intentioned, but racist. Putting people in a box with everyone else who looks something like them, even if it is a much better box than they were in 50 years ago, is still racism.

What made matters worse was that I was a lousy pick for ambassador. I was looking pretty much my worst. I had a trail of small people following me that were probably dressed for warm, not for style or matching for that matter. And I was carrying the delight of my life, whose hair had not been washed or styled, clothes not matching, looking very uncared for.

I was a fat frumpy White woman with a passel of children, fresh from the shoe, carrying my unkept Black daughter, fairly screaming, "I THINK I AM BETTER THAN YOU!"

Part of why I keep rewriting this is that I don't have an end, a moral, a lesson. I only know that what I tried to do backfired badly.

It is agonizing - I want to make racism go away, and yet, with my very actions, I reveal myself to be a racist.

Skin is skin. I know. When my daughter has a scab and it comes off, her skin is the same as mine. We are the same. All the people in my house (even before she arrived) are different colored and have different noses and eyes and lips and hair. Not one of us is the same. And it doesn't mean anything!!!!!

Help, God. Help us to love each of the people You made because You made them. Help us stop trying to measure and categorize each other. Help us to walk in humility and wisdom. Help us forgive each other. Forgive me for my arrogance in thinking that woman needed me. Bless her Lord. Fill her tank with Your beauty and Your love for her. Help her forgive the arrogant White frumpy chick who tried to make her feel comfortable. Give me wisdom next time around. Make my heart line up with Your heart regarding all of our differences and samenesses. Amen.


One thing I have to really guard against is self-pity. Not large scale - I don't feel sorry for myself because of what my life is in the big picture. But, for example, last Tuesday, my big kids were doing a thing, Dad was picking them up, so I was home alone with the youngest 7.

No don't get me wrong, #3 son is a dreamboat. He is really helpful. So is son #4. They are probably way more helpful than the first few were at the same age. (Or not, I honestly don't remember what happened 7 years ago.)

But being home with just the youngers was still rough. And the temptation is to pout. My husband got to leave the house that day, alone, in a car, and pick what he listened to on the radio, and not break up any fights on the way to work. No one screamed at him or bit him or sucked on him all day. And here I was with the young ones while he is on holiday with the big 5.

The reality, of course, is that he would have loved to be here, not at work. And my life is a delightful gift. I just have to deliberately remember that.

Joy is a choice. Gratefulness is my option. I can be thankful. Or not.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's been a year

A year ago today our precious birthmom endured an agonizing labor and nearly lost her uterus all for the sake of giving her baby the best possible home in her eyes: ours.

A year ago today I waited to learn if her sacrifice of months of her life to give us that baby would cost her ability to have another. It didn't.

A year ago today, precious friends and family caught the call to pray in the middle of the night for miracle after miracle. They did.

A year ago today, a tiny five pounder was born, not breathing, with an apgar score of 1, was whisked away to be bundled up and held safe by a bunch of machines and wires, pausing only for a brief photograph.

A year ago today, I went to visit our tiny little one in a NICU that seemed hostile to the idea of a rich white pregnant lady with 10 kids coming down here to take this poor woman's child out from under her.

A year ago today, a doctor was kind, a nurse was kind, and I began to learn what length our journey might have.

A year ago today, I saw her, touched her, prayed for her and sang to her and loved her, our darling baby girl.

A year ago today, I wept for her birth mom, for the heartache she endured, for what she experienced, for what she gave us. Her trust, her life, her child.

Today we celebrate, not just a healthy strong one year old, doing all the things one year olds do, measuring in at the 97th percentile, smiling, eyes shining, initiating games of hide and seek, singing (sort of), loving and being loved by brothers and sisters, the apple of her daddy's eye, making her mama's cup overflow with joy, but also, and just as much, the enormous sacrifice made and gift given by another beautiful wonderful amazing girl. Both strong, both precious, both amazing, both very near to God's heart.

Love. It can grow so much in a year.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I went to the dentist today . . .

I took my second son to the dentist today, again. Last week we had a morning of dental check-ups - 10 children's teeth were cleaned and examined. The next day, two went back for fillings, and I took the 4 smallest so the big kids could "get something done", but all they got done was help the younger, more dependent schoolers get their stuff done. So today I took one for fillings, and 7 of the youngest 8, with everyone's phonics, handwriting, spelling and math in tow.

Normally when I go to the dentist office I don't talk to people very much. They usually just stare and try to figure me out while I take care of my babies and watch the movie without sound and try to figure out what is happening. But today there was a delightful woman sitting next to me, and we quickly found a great deal of common ground, home schooling, knowing some of the same people, adoption interest, and she had had 5 kids in 4+ years.

Also there was another very pleasant lady who noticed and counted my children and commented frequently, and positively, about our size and how cute they all are and how I'm a saint for having so many.

All good, right?

In the context of these really enjoyable conversations with very positive and gracious women, I bumped into two cultural points of grief. I'm calling them cultural, but really they are just abiblical concepts. They might seem logical, but they are not what the Bible says. Here is the first:

Birth control is like a seatbelt.

I do not know how to spell the agony I feel at this idea. Let me 'splain. A seatbelt keeps you safe in the case that something bad happens. It keeps you alive and in your vehicle and hopefully prevents some whiplash. By contrast, birth control keeps you from having a baby when something good happens.

So in that analogy,
driving a car = a healthy marriage relationship
wearing a seatbelt = birth control
being fertile = a car wreck
getting pregnant = a bad injury or death

Right? Am I missing something? A baby is compared to something really bad. This is very sad and wrong. Babies are not, contrary to popular belief, valued based on how much you want them. Babies are all equally valuable before God!!!!!!! People are all equally valuable to God! Aren't you glad? Maybe you were conceived by "accident". Aren't you glad you are not less valuable???

Second grievious error: you should only have the number of children that you can both provide "comfortably" for and send to college so they can continue in that "comfort". Sigh.

People who grow up having everything they want seem much more likely to go into debt as adults. That's anecdotal, yes, but I bet research would back me up.

Both ideas seem pretty rational, but are not Biblical! The Bible does not teach that prosperity is the ultimate decision making factor. Remember the guy who wanted to follow Jesus, and was told to go sell everything he had? Jesus didn't see earthly wealth as a deal-breaker. At least, not the way we do. In fact, He said it was hard for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That would be us. Wealthy. So I am sorry, but my children's relative wealth is not a determinant for reproduction.

Like I said, these people I talked to were delightful - not unpleasant at all. They were completely positive about my children and children in general. (except for the whole the-good-thing-about-grandchildren-is-that-you-get-to-give-them-back thing . . . by implication, I would like my children much better if I could just send them away when they are bad, which is a whole nuther can of worms) But these sad "truths" were expressed during our conversation and made my heart sad.

Here is what the Bible says:

Children are a(n) heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. The Lord opens and closes the womb. Be fruitful and multiply. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. I have been young and now I am old and I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their children begging bread. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

Without bias, without deciding ahead of time what you want it to say, search the scripture and see what it says about babies/children/people. God calls them good gifts, ever, only, always. We do not wear seatbelts to protect ourselves from good things.

"Put your seatbelt on honey, so you don't get a raise." "Don't forget to fasten your seatbelt dear, you don't want health and happiness." "Hey, why aren't you wearing a seatbelt, we don't want to be blessed beyond measure, do we?" See, those are ridiculous statements, aren't they? But it's essentially the same thing.

If we had a God with limitations, or no God at all, if life really was measured by how many toys you have at the end, or the cost per plate at your children's wedding receptions, or by how soon you get your kids out of the house, or by how young you retire, if money really did make people happy, then it would make complete sense to limit the size of our families based on money. But none of those things are true.

Seatbelts. Really.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Learning to walk, learning to drive

One side effect of having 12 or so children is that you have some children who are older while some other children are younger. I have students studying Physics and Phonics. My eldest daughter is learning to drive while my youngest daughter is learning to walk.

When our eighth child was born, I felt this straddling of generations very acutely. Junior high, pre-Algebra, hormones, nursing problems, tiny 6 pound baby, jaundice, with everything in between, it seemed. Children learning to read, learning to study independantly, learning to solve problems without hitting or screaming.

It is the nature of having a lot of children, or widely spread children.

I have a dear friend whose children are wider spread than mine. She just had her tenth, several months AFTER her first grandchild was born. And people are giving her a hard time about it. We live in a culture that values other things more than life. Certainly people as old as we are (I am 40, my friend is 42) shouldn't still be having children. Our bodies are less cooperative than they used to be. My hair is gray and getting grayer. (My husband had some gray hair when I met him 23 years ago, so I see no reason I should color mine.)

For my part, I have Mary and Sarah and Elizabeth as examples to follow when experiencing a surprise, unwanted, culturally inappropriate pregnancy. I'm not pregnant right now, as far as I know, but if the Lord does allow me to carry another treasure into the world, there is a part of me that wants to hide it as a secret between the Lord and me for as long as I can. My own private miracle.

Joy unspeakable. Every new life, every HUMAN, every person He trusts me with is the greatest treasure ever, and worth every, every, every effort and sacrifice. There simply isn't anything more wonderful than another life inside mine. Every person He makes is a magnificent masterpiece, and how incredible if He were to entrust another one to me!

Morning sickness, exhaustion, weight-gain, swelling, incontinence, pre-eclampsia, labor? Worth it. Baby food, baby spit, teething, crawling, walking, diaper changing, diaper rash, potty training? Worth it! I have 4 children right now that I have to teach not to bite each other. Worth it!

On the other end of my vibrantly diverse parenting spectrum, I have this gnawing heartache brewing, knowing that a day is coming, an inevitable, horrible, appropriate day. The day will come when I will get up in the morning and, one by one, my daughters and sons will not be here. My children will grow up. They will not all be here always. They will get married, or go to school, or pursue a life in some other country, or city or part of town. This difficult but dreamy existence will not last forever.

Even in the hardest moments, when three babies need me at the same time, or my oldest children give attitude that breaks my heart, speaking hateful and unforgiving words to each other, even then, I cherish the moments when they are near, because they won't always be.

And beyond the stretch of all the different developmental phases, I have the high priority of my calling: that my children would know Him. That my little ones and middle ones and big ones would encounter Him, would see Him through and in spite of my example, would love Him. And that is the greatest ache of all.

Because sin isn't mostly something that comes from without. It is in them. They were conceived in it. It was a gift from their father, Adam. (As in, Adam and Eve, not my husband.) It is where each of us begin. There is no such thing as an innocent child. And each of them must find their Savior, one at a time. I cannot do it for them.

I hope to give them a testimony they cannot argue away. (My Uncle Jim gave me one.) I hope to shield them from much of what would tear them away. I hope to give them ample opportunity to experience His Word, His presence, His beauty.

And I pray. I pray that they would see Him. I pray that when they encounter their own sin that they would run to Him. I pray that their time in church and in the house of prayer would draw them to Him. I pray that His beauty and glory would be magnified in their eyes, and that the weaknesses of my life and in the church would be diminished. I pray that the Word that is being fed into their minds would take root and bear great fruit in their hearts and lives. I pray that they would have a relationship with Jesus that would outshine any hardship or persecution, loneliness or turbulance, victory or utter defeat they may someday experience.

For those learning to walk, and those preparing to leave the nest, my prayer is the same. That they not fall, but if they fall, they fall into His arms.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Joy in the morning

There was a time, several years ago, when all my big people were small, and all my little people weren't people yet, that I woke up angry almost every morning. It seemed I could never get enough sleep. And I woke up to needs everywhere. I was overwhelmed by the needs for diaper changes, drinks or food, supervision, and freshly ironed shirts.

I had the privilege to go to a meeting where there was prophetic ministry, and received a word from God that went something like this: in the movie Mary Poppins, there is a scene in which Jane and Michael and Burt are laughing uproarously floating near the ceiling at Uncle Albert's. Mary Poppins has the choice to either spoil the party or really make it grand by bringing the tea and table and all right up to the ceiling. She does the latter.

I was/am like that. I can ruin the party at my house or I can make it. I can enter into the joy my Father has for me, or I can be grumpy and angry with everyone.

One way I have found to enter His joy (my strength) is to sing a little song my brother's choir at Azusa Pacific University sang years and years ago. I have never heard it since, and I'm pretty sure I have some of the words wrong, but here it goes:

I speak His Name and a hundred million angels start singing
He calls to me and the freedom bells of my soul start to ringing
He gives me joy in the morning
And gentle peace in the evening
He gives me joy like I never knew
He's been my friend, He's always been true
He is my life, He helps me make it through.
He gives me joy.

He is my secret weapon. He gives me joy in the midst of chaos, rebellion, and a thorough coloring of the new (to us) couch.

He gives me joy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


We have family photo that was taken at a wedding a few years ago, when our tenth child was just a month old. Today my eldest was looking at it with the four year old, pointing out each person in it. Of course he could identify everyone except the baby, who he assumed, as all people his age do, that the baby in the picture was the now baby, #12. She said, no, that's not him. His next guess was #11.

Funny thing is, #11 is adopted. She has rich beautiful brown skin. The baby in the picture was quite fair. She has tight black curls, the photo baby was bald. She has eyes the color of dark chocolate dreams. #10 has almost transparent blue eyes. If he thinks about it, he knows this. He probably remembers she had darker skin even when she was tiny. But it didn't make it to his conscious thought. She is his sister, same as the other one. He is colorblind.

Last night around 9:30, my husband took a kid from our neighborhood to his sister's house, where he was to stay. He didn't take his fancy GPS smart phone, only a dumb phone - just for calling and texting - and he got turned around (a.k.a. "lost"). He drove a bit before getting his bearings, and in the process found himself in a less happy part of town. At one point, he was talking to me on the phone and said three men had approached his car, and one was yelling at him outside his window. They were not colorblind. My husband was a man who reminded them of people who have treated them or someone they know poorly, he was in the wrong place, and he was not welcome.

We have been going through our books, and my second daughter was telling me about a book she read recently, The Well, describing it as a good book. Do you think your baby sister would like to read it when she is older? Probably not. How did it make you feel? Not good. We decided that I should read the book to decide, but I know that some of the characters are not colorblind.

I have been told that I will need to prepare my beautiful daughter for the day that may come when she is judged based on someone else's experience or knowledge regarding people who look similar to her. I have to prepare her for the fact that the world is not colorblind.

And while I am sure that is right, I will need to give a similar lecture to my other children. Someday, you may be judged by someone who doesn't know you, but assumes you are like other people they know, or have heard about, people who look or act something like you.

You may be hated or despised or looked down on. You may be judged because you are White/Black, or homeschooled, or are not fashion conscious, or not peer driven, or because you have never been kissed or had a boyfriend or seen THAT show.

But you will also be weighed someday by One who measures rightly, and if you are weighed according to your own merits, you will be found wanting. Only by being seen through the blood of Jesus will you measure up.

And the cool thing is that, not only does He give us His righteousness, but He also gets that 'being judged' thing. He was weighed and measured and found wanting, and crucified. He was despised and rejected of men. He made Himself of no reputation. He endured the cross for the joy set before Him.

Jesus was hated by His own, His people, His leaders, even by His brothers, for crying out loud. He knows about racism, about slavery, about oppression and discrimination. He was a man who walked here and felt all those things.

So, while I will train my children to be prepared for different kinds of persecution, I will, more importantly, teach them that there is a Redeemer, a Savior, a great high Priest Who identifies with us in our affliction. He gets it. And His love is big enough to heal every hurt. Mine isn't, but His is.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


We were talking with a friend several years ago about what our children were doing for the summer. He described a full slate of activities, such as would make my head spin. Granted, their family is considerably smaller than ours, but it was enough busyness to keep them on the move constantly. At one point, he acknowledged that it was overwhelming, but then he shrugged and said, "I want them to have a happy childhood."

I, on the other hand, have frequently given my children the following lecture over the years: I am not responsible for your happiness. I am trying to keep you healthy, fed, clothed, sheltered, to train your minds and bodies and spirits, and teach you about Jesus. Your happiness is between you and Him.

It was a drastic contrast.

What are our parenting goals? I think we may have stated goals, and then we may have real goals. Two of my favorite parenting books, Shepherding your Child's Heart (Tedd Tripp) and Family Driven Faith (Voddie Baucham) address the subject directly and indirectly. I also like George Barna's book, Revolutionary Parenting.

There is a quippish quote floating around in the unreachable parts of my brain, something like: if we aim at nothing in particular, we are likely to hit it. I guess I would say that we live in a hostile culture with an enemy, and if we do not fight, both in the natural and in the spirit, for our goals for our children, we will most assuredly lose.

Here are my goals:

1. That my children know Jesus, His Word, and have ample experience practicing hearing His voice and being with Him. That they taste of the goodness of God in a thorough, continual fashion.

2. That my children are good at loving and forgiving, and at seeking God when they are hurt or treated poorly.

3. That my children are great at math, great at thinking and communicating, and enjoy reading and learning in general. That they be mentally and spiritually prepared to go wherever God sends them and do whatever He gives them to do.

4. That my children are prepared for a healthy, Godly marriage by keeping their hearts pure and taking their thoughts captive, submitting themselves to God and parents.

5. That they learn to live within their means and be in debt (slavery) to no man. If they pursue a college education, that they would go somewhere they and we can afford to pay as they go, and not finish with a prohibitive debt.

6. That they, with my decreasing assistance, use self-control in making all kinds of choices - what they eat, who they hang out with, what they read and watch and do, redeeming the time and living more for eternity than for the moment.

These are my hopes for my humans. What are yours?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I have become my mother

Yesterday I was my mom, all day long. I got up, and started cleaning. I cleaned my room and the laundry room relentlessly, all day long. I never went downstairs, never ate, never made it out of my nightgown until the job was done.

I worked until I was within a half hour of time to leave. I packed at the last minute, using no less than 3 bags. What I didn't have time to put away I stashed in out-of-the-way places (a pet peeve of mine).

All of these things are CLASSIC Anita moves. Unbelievable. It was like something triggered my OCD ancestry, and the need-to-clean trait was activated and that energy sustained me throughout the live long day.

What became of your children? you may ask. Not to worry, they took care of each other. And I had babies helping me, to be sure. Plus, I'm using the power of electronic addiction to fuel keeping the rest of the house in order. "Can I have a turn on the computer/Ipad/Wii?". Certainly. Just unload a dishwasher, vacuum a room, paint a fence, and harvest the back 40 and you can turn your brains to mush to your little heart's content. Oh and put your laundry away. Again. "But mom, this is the third time today."

I have energy. I attribute this rare condition to a few factors: 1) I'm not pregnant and not recently postpartem. 2)I'm off sugar and white flour, for almost 2 weeks, and down about 23 lbs, and so I feel Grrrreat! 3) I have an insatiable desire to get my house under control. I have no idea where this came from. I've not really felt this way before. My husband is almost giddy.

Enjoy it while it lasts, I say.

I suppose I would attribute my complete personality change in part, also, to another Anita-like recent activity that I hesitate to speak of, but at risk of sounding cocky, will let you in on.

I've joined a secret club of lunatics who set their alarms to take turns getting up and praying in the middle of the night. I started off doing the night-owl shifts, 10 or 11 o'clock. That wasn't too bad. Then one week those slots were all full, and I got 2:00 a.m. We pray every other week, but one week there were some people on vacation, and I asked if I could sub, so I'm three weeks running, and I'm hooked.

Not only that, we have a once-a-week prayer meeting all together at 4:00 Monday morning. Can you imagine? Every Monday morning, me and Dozer get in the WhoopT and drive across town to pray.

In order to pray in the middle of the night, I have to be active, eyes open, none of this bowed head stuff. I pray while I mop (VERY Anita-like), while I do laundry, while I exercise ever-so-quietly, or if not so quietly, while I nurse the baby I woke up. Sometimes I do my entire watch in the shower.

The truly cool thing about praying while doing mundane tasks is that later, while doing that same mundane task, I find myself praying AGAIN. And it's not even the middle of the night.

I'm thriving spiritually and physically, which is to say I'm moving forward, not stagnant, not regressing. My spirit and my body are saying yes to Him Who my soul loves. He must increase, I must decrease. Literally. And it's happening.

So I'm glad to say that at the age of 40 I am becoming just like my mother in all the best possible ways. A Proverbs 31 kind of chick. And having a marvelous time!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils

There is something incredibly exciting about the beginning of school.

I go to Walmart and buy a couple of cases of 32 college ruled spiral bound notebooks, used to be 10 cents each, now 15.

I get online and order Horizons math, Handwriting without tears, Teaching textbooks, and Apologia physics (No, I really am not making money here - that is the stuff we use.) I even finally bit the bullet and bought the Rosetta Stone (it will only be worth it if 14 people are all eventually fluent in Spanish!).

And I plan. Boy do I ever. I'm planning grocery lists, weekly schedules, chores, mentoring, music practicing. I've got plans for my planning.

Funny, for someone with such a short attention span to plan so much, when I'm so very lousy at following through with plans. But somehow it makes me feel ready.

And nervous. Nervous about how to get everybody to do everything every single day of the year. Especially since, right now, with their brains practically turned to mush since I've been letting them live on an electronic overload while I'm making all my plans, and I can barely get them to walk from here to there without a sigh from the eldest, a growl from the second, an eye roll and an argument from the third, weeping from the fourth, a nod and sudden disappearance from the fifth, a suicide threat from the sixth, bargaining from the seventh, complaining from the eighth, incompetence from the ninth and shameless disobedience from the tenth. (I'm exaggerating. They are all still wonderful and helpful and the delight of my eyes.)

And it is really incredible to me that I am excited at all about the next school year, since we only finished the last one YESTERDAY!

Who am I kidding?

I don't know. But there's a spring in my step, a mounting credit card bill, lists on my clipboards, and a brainstorm brewing in my gray matter . . . how can we do it better this year?!

It's a journey. I'm not there yet. I'm better than I was, on my way to what I will be. I'm pressing forward, toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, to know Him in the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.

I'm not giving up. I'm getting up. And if I fall down tomorrow as I reach for the stars, I'll get back up again.

To quote my favorite old writer/speaker Ann Keimel, "I am just a small ordinary person, but I've got a giant of a God in me, and together, He and I, we're out to change our world." Holler back. (Ann didn't say that last part, by the way.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adjusted Review of the Super 8 Motel in Muskegon, Michigan

If you google "review of super 8 motel in muskegon michigan" you will find that the hotel rated one star in the opinion of more than one guest. But I believe it is a matter of perspective, so I thought I'd share mine.

Me, the hubsand and the G12 stayed a pleasant 4 nights in two tents at the campground, but when the forecast called for nearly 2 inches of gully-washing, we opted to pack up our dry tents and dry gear and spend the last night in the above mentioned establishment.

So here are the highlights of the hotel as I saw it, having come from the campground:

Beds. In each room there were two queen sized beds, both with sheets and blankets and pillows that were not damp or musty smelling.

Floor complete with carpet rather than sand, dirt, and pine needles, relatively safe for little crawlers to practice their newly acquired mobility.

Bug-free. No bees, mosquitoes, flies, daddy-long-legs, or other unidentified critters.

Lights everywhere, outlets everywhere, sand-free shower right in the room! Holler back.

Toilet that I got to flush myself.

The benefit that comes with doors of knowing exactly where each of my darlings was.

No smell of smoke, bug spray, or me.

Having said all that, would I rather have been back at the campground, around the fire, on a lawn chair, eating s'mores, wearing bug spray and damp clothes and dirty kids, walking half a block to the john and with crud in my shoes? Oh yeah. You better believe it.

But in context, the Super 8 was a sweet change, and way better than being washed away in the Little Black Creek.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


i have this sort of horrible, sort of wonderful thing going through my head. i think it might be sort of scriptural, but not sure i could argue it with a theologian. it goes something like this:

i suspect my Father limits my success, or something like that, because He is protecting me from the pride i would develop, and related problems, if i were to be today all that i can be.

i think He'd rather have my CDs in a box on a corner shelf in the local house of prayer, and mostly in boxes in my basement and have me still have a relatively humble heart than be distributed in Family Bookstores nationwide and have me think i'm "something".

i think He'd rather see me overweight and acne faced than petite, pretty and having an affair.

i think He likes me singing at the least attended session of a small local conference and able to really sing to Him, more than being a "headliner" at a major national event, but just putting on a show because my heart is more aware of me than Him.

i think He'd just much rather have me writing this blog with my 22 friends reading it when they get the chance than having me have a book selling big at, if that's what it takes for me to stay near to Him.

in short, He knows my weakness. He knows how very quickly i turn, stumble, stray. He knows how quickly i would try to steal His glory, given the opportunity.

and i'm not saying i'm worthy of any of that other stuff anyway. there are many writers, many singers, many leaders. but my husband only has one wife (thankfully!) and my children only have one mom. my neighborhood only has one me.

the Word i heard this weekend at a conference at our church was (from Elisha and the widow who he helped by filling all the empty jars with oil): stay home, shut the door and pour yourself into the empty pots that you have there.

i am content. i am content to be home. i will write little songs for my kids to memorize verses for Awanas and for the children at church to learn scriptures in Sunday school (what an honor) and for the kids at camp to sing. if children learn my silly little songs and hide God's Word in their hearts, who knows what fruit those little seeds will produce??

i am content to pursue the Lordship of Christ in my little domain, His dominion over the smell in my bathrooms, over the dishes in my sink, over the laundry in the hallway, over the hearts and attitudes of my children, over the number of shoes and jackets lining the floor of the van, over my faithfulness to get allergy shots and dog poop (my eldest has a job picking up dog poop for a friend, something we are supposed to do weekly, and, well, you know).

i am content to pray in secret about secret things, to be a little hidden warrior for my King, fighting for my marriage, my family, my neighborhood, my church, my city, my nation.

hiddenness is my gift from my Father Who sees in secret. it is where i can bloom safely. and should He see fit to someday shine light on His masterpiece, me, may i be found mature enough to do the right thing and give Him all the glory.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

You're not the boss of me!

I am standing in the hallway at my church and a young lad, happens to be the pastor's son, is walking a few steps ahead of me, doing something he shouldn't do. I don't remember what it was, maybe just that he wasn't in the service, maybe he was picking at the corner of a bulletin board. Let's just say, he was not in danger and neither was anyone else. He was not doing any major destruction of property or person. He was just a kid, being a kid. If I had been his mother, I might have said something. But I was not in authority over him, didn't have a relationship with him, so I didn't say anything.

However, also in the hallway was another adult, who was no more connected to him than I, but who took it upon himself to correct him, with these words, "Zach (not his real name), I don't think your dad would want you to do that." Because he knew his dad, our pastor, he felt it was appropriate for him to correct his son. And I don't know that he knew the pastor beyond his being the pastor. Like, not to get together with his family socially, outside church.

I think this sort of thing happens a lot, and may be part of what makes it so rough to be a pastor's kid. It happens to my children also, partly because I was a worship leader for a long time, very visible, and also because I have so many children and they are easy to spot, as they look a lot alike. At camp a couple weeks ago, an adult who was trying to herd a bunch of children, calling them all "camper" not knowing their names, saw one of mine whose name she knew and addressed her by her name. Being singled out from all the other children who were just named "camper" made her feel like she was in trouble more than all the others.

Authority is a touchy subject. We don't have authority over someone just because we know their name or their dad's name. We don't have authority because we are bigger or older or more familiar than someone.

Authority comes from God. It is like electricity, there has to be a connection. You have to get authority from someone who has the authority to give authority. God gives authority to my husband, he shares it with me. When I am leaving the house, I give my authority to whoever I put in charge. My 12 year old son has no authority over my 9 year old daughter UNLESS I GIVE IT TO HIM. When he tries to exert it inappropriately, he gets this response: You're not the boss of me!

I do teach my children to respect adults, to honor them. But just because someone is an adult doesn't mean I want my children to do whatever they say. Not all adults have authority over my children. Only if I give it to them do they have it.

I want my children to understand authority because it has a direct impact on how they relate to God. We live in a church culture that sees God more as a Daddy/Lover/Friend, all of which are right and true, but we neglect to acknowledge Him, sometimes, as King and Lord. But He is that.

At this point in American society, there aren't really any absolutes - everything is negotiable. We do not respect those in authority. We've heard enough stories of corruption in government, police brutality, teachers having inappropriate relationships with students, pastors stumbling, even abusive parents, so we think all of those positions of authority are conditional on whether the leader merits our submission. We have forgotten how to submit to authority.

Because of this, we really don't know how to relate to a God who is King and Lord. It doesn't fit our grid. But we need a new grid. We need a paradigm shift. We need a new mindset. We need REVELATION.

God is God. There is no other. He made us. He made all things. He is in charge of all He made. He brought us into this world, He can take us out and make another to look just like us. He is the Boss of us.

Not only is does He have rights to lordship as Creator, He is something else that makes Him worthy of our submission. Holy. He is holy. That is a concept that is so very foreign to us. We use the word holy all the time, but have very little revelation of it.

It means other than. It means there is nothing like God. It means there is no wickedness, no blemish, no sin, no wrong-ness in Him. Ever. It is beyond our scope.

And it is this holiness that we have lost sight of that leads us to another idea about which we have no comprehension: The Fear of the Lord. What in the world does that mean? Our Bibles have started to translate that word "reverence". Because we don't relate to "fear". At all.

How do you fear Someone Who is the Essence of Goodness? How do you love Someone and fear Him at the same time? If He is a scary, fearsome God, why do we follow Him? How can He be merciful and loving and also be a judge?

But He is both. He is love, He is loving, His lovingkindness endures forever. His mercies are new every morning. And He is holy, and just, and righteous altogether.

The whole Bible is true, not just the parts we like or relate to are agree with. He is that Guy that wiped out Ananias and Sapphira for lying about their offering. He is that Guy who sent the Israelites to massacre various people groups living in the land He gave them. He is a righteous Judge. He is right to judge and all His judgements are right. He is holy, He is love.

And He is the boss of us.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Set Apart

We had a day, seems like a long time ago, where we asked a number of older (read mature) women to share stuff they had learned in their lives in God about a particular subject. In one session three women shared what they thought they did right in raising their children. And I remember that the three of them had very different things they said. For example, my mother was hyper about how we looked (she was one of the women), regarding tattoos, piercings, even wearing the color black. Another mom had a bunch of boys, and I think all of them had something cool and spiritual embedded in their skin somewhere.

But that same mom talked about thinking probably one of the most significant thing they did in raising their children was that they left the country and were missionaries somewhere else for a significant part of their lives. They were set apart.

We chose, 8 years ago, to move to a part of town where we were and still are in the racial minority. There were several reasons for the move. Primarily, it was what we thought God wanted us to do. But one perk of the move was that we were set apart. We home school, everyone else in our neighborhood doesn't. We are (most of us anyway:) fair skinned, everyone else on our block is darker. We have 12 children, one mom and one dad, no one else has that sort of family.

Because we are not like everyone else in a number of ways, it seems to make sense to our children that we are not about what other people think, but are free to seek after what God wants. Our ties to this world are not quite as strong because we don't fit exactly anyway. It is easier for us to see that we are citizens of another Kingdom. We already are set apart.

I thought of this because today I heard about a friend who sent water with her children for their lunch at camp, rather than drinking the soda that is provided for them. It had never occurred to me! Not to drink the soda? It reminded me of Daniel and the boys in Babylon, not eating the king's meat or drinking the king's wine. It reminds me of Proverbs 23, think about what you are eating when you sit down with a ruler. And (although I don't really know why she is doing it) it strikes me as a way that her very young campers are set apart already.

It is as if that mom is saying: You can go, you can play, you can be part, but just because we are going doesn't mean we are going to automatically ingest and absorb and resemble everything we will experience. You are still in control of your decisions. You are still responsible for your actions. You are attending a camp, but you are still primarily a member of our family. My authority continues even when you are not in the same room with me.

Not drinking the soda that everyone else is drinking = set apart. Brilliant. It is training for that inevitable growing up thing that has to happen. It is practice following an invisible, higher authority than the one everyone else is following. It's also better for their little bodies. Bonus points!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why do little girls have to grow up to look like hookers?

I was saddened to see a young woman of maybe 16 recently who I hadn't seen since she was a little girl. And I was so sorry to see that she had grown from a lovely girl (with the kind of face that the rest of us put make up on to try to look like her), and now looked like if she happened to be standing on a certain corner in a certain part of town at the right time of night, I'm pretty sure she could get some work. Her clothing, posture, and face all said, "Come and get it."

It reminds me of a goofy song I wrote a long time ago but never did anything with. It's what happens when a married woman writes a song meant to be sung by a single guy. I can't record it myself, and can't find anyone else who will do it. Here are the words. I called it Putrefaction, from the N.A.S.B. version of Isaiah 3.


Well when God created Eve, He saw that beautiful was she
The most beautiful of all His creation
And I know there waits for me one just as beautiful as she
One whose spirit is like myrrh, not putrefaction

If He pulled out your earrings and shaved your head bald
If He washed all the color from your face
Would you still be a beauty dressed in sack cloth and ashes
With only a rope around your waist?

I can see you spent some time looking good on the outside
But did you pay enough attention to your soul?
You see, I'm looking for a bride who cares less about being mine
But has a zeal about belonging to the Lord

If He pulled out your earrings and shaved your head bald
If He washed all the color from your face
Would you still be a beauty dressed in sack cloth and ashes
With only a rope around your waist?

I want the beauty of an unfading spirit
In the quiet hidden place of the heart
I want the glow of a girl that loves Jesus more than me
In the quiet hidden place of her heart

Daughter of Zion, don't use your charm
To buy love that you cannot hold
Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness
Light your countenence with more than just
Makeup and gold

If He pulled out your earrings and shaved your head bald
If He washed all the color from your face
Would you still be a beauty dressed in sack cloth and ashes
With only a rope around your waist?

I want the beauty of an unfading spirit
In the quiet hidden place of the heart
I want the glow of a girl that loves Jesus more than me
In the quiet hidden place of her heart

The Octomom

I just need to go off about the Octomom.

On the one hand, kudos to her for not "medically selecting" which babies to put in the freezer, which to abort, and which to let live. Good. Not killing babies is good.

On the other hand, I just have to differentiate between her and me. I have 11 children that God gave me inside of a healthy marriage to one man, one at a time, spaced in His wisdom in an appropriate way. Granted, we did cheat on the 11th one. My sweetie that I didn't carry in my own body is artificially spaced 5 months from my youngest's birthday, a medical impossibility. But even then, it only happened because God and several humans said yes.

That is different than taking your body, removing your eggs and scientifically matching them up with God-Knows-Who's sperm and creating an unnatural number of children when you have no husband and so source of providing for the children.

So don't judge big families by the Octomom. Don't put married couples trusting God with their fertility on the same bus with an artificially inseminated mega family. God gave life to those babies too, and I'm sure He has a plan for them, because all children are a blessing. But I maintain that that isn't the most ideal way to receive those blessings.

That's all.

7,000 freaks

Elijah the prophet was man just like us. It says so in Hebrews. I heard a teaching about him Friday night at our local house of prayer. He was a prophet to Israel during the reign of Ahab, er, Jezebel. God had said not to marry foreign wives because they will lead you astray and cause you to worship other gods. He did, and she did, and he did.

So Elijah was sent to be a prophet, in Ahab's face, to the extent that the king gave him a nickname, "the troubler of Israel." His official job title might have been "The Pain in the Royal Behind." He boldly spoke on God's behalf against a king (who had subjected himself to a queen) who was picking off the prophets of the Most High.

The final straw for Ahab the Hen Pecked came when Elijah and the prophets of Baal staged the showdown of the century, where the prophets of Baal practiced self mutilation and Jehovah God answered with fire. The people shouted, "The Lord, He is God," killed the prophets of Baal, and Elijah scored huge with the return of rain after 3.5 years.

After his roaring triumph, Elijah goes and hides in a kind of suicidal slump. (Don't judge him, that's how it usually feels after you pour yourself out on the altar.) But this is the thing that got my interest (fasten your seatbelts and prepare for a hard right turn): he said to the Lord, Jezebel has killed all the prophets, and I alone am left. And God said, there are yet 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal nor kissed his face.

I've been struggling with confidence, not in what I'm doing, but in how everybody else feels about it. I've felt like the troubler of Israel. My children don't attend public or private school. My children don't go to youth group. They don't go to junior high Sunday school. They will not date or have boyfriends or girlfriends or be encouraged to fixate on anything that awakens love before it is time. When they are of marrying age, we will partner with them in praying for and (for the guys) pursueing or (for the girls) awaiting a Godly courtship. We are encouraging our sons to pursue a future that equips them to provide for a wife and as many children as the Lord blesses them with. We are encouraging our daughters to follow God's leading, but without going into debt, to stay at home as long as they want to, and to put all their trust in the Lord and their daddy for their futures.

We are training our daughters to pursue the inner beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, without a whole lot of external adornment. And we're ridiculous about it. So much of today's fashion is designed to emphasize necklines and bottoms. We're running away from it.

We're teaching our boys (and girls) to guard their eyes and minds and hearts, and to save all their imaginings and touchings and kisses for their one bride (groom). But our entire culture, from very young, gears for attracting and obsessing about the opposite gender.

Because these are our convictions, and the Word says that bad company corrupts good morals, and that you become like those you are with, we are very picky about who we spend lots of with, especially time without close supervision. We are trusting God to provide relationships for us, but we will not spend great amounts of time with friends who are not like minded.

And so few are like minded. It feels like Elijah - I alone am left - sometimes. But I have that story as my commission. 7,000 who have not bowed the knee or kissed the face. Hidden and set apart. In a culture filled with idolatry, immorality, we are hiding 12 set apart unto the Lord.

So ridicule me. Mock me. Talk to each other about socialization and how weird my kids are becoming. Me and my socially awkward offspring (may God give me a dozen more) are going to build a little house of prayer, and hide God's Word in our hearts and learn to love Him and each other better. Don't take in personally, we're not judging you. We're not mad at you. We're praying for you and blessing you and asking God to give you all the wisdom you need for the task He has given YOU. But as for me and my house, we will be freaks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

On staying cool and being cool

I live in a place where it is always pretty hot in the summer, but this summer is exceptional. It is not hot. Not merely hot. It is dang hot. The difference between hot and dang hot is that when it is hot, you want a cold drink, you want air conditioning, you want to go swimming. When it is dang hot, you just want to die.

I have a friend from Kentucky who told me a log time ago (and regrets telling me, because I quote her every summer and attribute it to her) that when asked how hot it is, back home they say, "It's hotter than a firecracker stuck up a dragon's *butt* on the fourth of July in *hades*. We have changed that this week to say it is now hotter than a firecracker stuck up a dragon's butt on the fourth of July in a volcano on the sun. Which entirely accurate, but it is how we feel.

Now, I am an unregistered member of the polar bear club. I love swimming so much that I will swim in Lake Michigan in May in the 50's. I will get into a snow fed mountain stream that literally makes your feet hurt. When I go to the beach I have to wear swim wear because I can't help but wade my way in to all wet. I cannot stay in a canoe. But I don't have easy access to any regular swimming here. So I've been taking showers in the coldest cold water we have, but alas! It is only luke warm.

But there is also winter where I live. And I know for certain that it will come again, and there will be a day, not too many weeks away, that I will be sick and tired of being cold and convinced that I will never be warm again. It will be so cold that I'm afraid to go to the bathroom at night (for whatever reason, the air and heat work worst in my bedroom, nay, in my bathroom, so in the summer, there is no hotter place, and in the winter, no seat is as cold as my toilet seat). I know that will happen again.

I have spent a significent portion of the last 3 weeks at our church's camp. To clarify - it is not a camp you go to in another town and sleep in dirty cabins and get eaten by mosquitoes and eat eggs that seem like they never, ever came from a chicken. Rather, it is a camp because it is a way bigger deal than VBS and costs more and has way more attitude and consumes your life. You go in the morning and come home in the afternoon and just lay on the couch pretty much dead, moving only to eat huge amounts of food or move to a bed.

And at that camp, I've come into contact with lots of school aged children and little ones and adults and teenagers. The school aged children are the campers that the camp is for. The little ones are there because parents like me refuse to take them home because life is miserable without our big people. The adults do things like teaching and guiding and protecting. And the teens are what really make the thing happen.

I have 2 teenagers of my own, and a few more that are nearly teenagers. We don't groan because of our teenagers. We like them a lot. They are among our best friends. No kidding. They're terrific.

But teenagers that don't live at my house make me nervous, self conscious, and very aware that I am not cool. Not only am I not cool, I've never been cool, not even when I was a teenager, and being around them reminds me of it. I'm so not cool, I don't even know what they call it now. What we called cool, I'm sure there's a new term for it, a word or phrase that means you have that thing where you say the right thing all the time and are so popular that you don't have to second guess yourself and wish you hadn't said what you said or did what you did or wore what you wore.


I taught at said camp about confidence all three weeks (comical, isn't it?), but, as is usually the case, I learned about it as I went. I learned that God doesn't measure me like I measure me. He doesn't judge me based on what I look like or am now. He sees the long view. You know, the one I don't have access to except in glimpses He shows me that I have to receive in faith? That long view.

I learned that I only need to listen to what He says about me because He judges rightly, His judgements are true, and I can trust Him.

And I am in a more secure place today because He has been speaking to me lately about who He made me to be. And that's exciting. It's so exciting, it will probably be a different blog. But for the first time in a while, maybe ever, I'm pretty sure of me just and only because I'm quite certain of Him. (that reminds me of a winnie the pooh quote, "I just wanted to be sure of you.")

So even though I am not remotely cool on any level, neither temperature nor image, I am quite at peace. And I'll take peace over cool any day.