Saturday, April 30, 2011


Exactly one year ago today, my youngest sister and I embarked on a journey from Nashville, TN to Middletown Springs, VT to finally deliver me home after having lived away from my family for 9 months. It was such a fun adventure to share with my sister! Here is a glimpse into that trip from last year's scrapbook:

And finally getting HOME was one of the greatest gifts of my entire life. I went to work at my new job pretty much immediately:

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fix Your Eyes

"Fix your eyes on Jesus."

You've heard this phrase before, right? If you're like me, you've heard it lots of times. Enough times, in fact, that you've gotten so used to hearing it that you sorta forgot you never fully understood what it meant. Know what I mean? It just becomes one of those phrases that is part of the vocabulary you don't bother to question. And I'm not talking about the literal verbal meaning. I know what the individual words mean. Most people over the age of 2 do. ;-)

But what does it really mean? As in, how do I do it? I can't stare at him. He's not physically visible. I've been thinking about this a lot lately for some reason. I think I know what most people would say, and I'm sure they're all right. You read scripture, you pray, you interact with people who point you to Christ, etc., etc., etc. OK. All excellent advice. But somehow, at least for me, those things don't add up to being "fixed." They are all wonderful and necessary things to do, but what about the in between times? What happens when I'm washing dishes and can't be turning the pages of my Bible because my hands are wet? (I suppose I could be praying during that time, which I actually do sometimes, but work with me for the sake of this example, k? ;-) What I'm after here is figuring out that whole "fixed" situation. How do I stay fixed no matter what my activity?

Just a couple days ago, I remembered an interaction with Macy and Grace from a few years back that gave me a new perspective on this.

The people who know us best know that at times we can be a somewhat "wild" and loud and active family. There tends to be a lot going on in our house at any given time, and honestly the level of activity was probably even more elevated when the girls were younger. They were just starting to find their voices and explore and wander around the house, and they had lots of noisy toys too, so yeah--a cacophony pretty much all the time. And because of that, I developed a habit early on that went something like this-- When I needed the girls to give me their full attention, and I knew that they were being distracted by dozens of other things, I would get down on their level and say, "Girls, look in my eyes 'cause this is important" and then proceed to give them whatever instructions or corrections they needed. After just a few times of doing that, they quickly learned that those words meant it was time to pay attention, and for the most part, they took it very seriously. Gracie took it so seriously, in fact, that sometimes when I took my gaze off her to look over at Macy for just a few seconds, she would lean over in front of her sister so that she could maintain locked eye contact. It was a pretty funny and adorable thing to watch.

But what was really interesting to me was realizing that while they understood very quickly the idea of looking in my eyes, what Gracie had trouble with initially was figuring out when it was ok to look away. Once we locked eyes, she wanted to stay there. And she would do whatever she needed to do to make it so. Whether it was leaning in front of her sister, grabbing my face and holding it still or following me into the next room, she pursued that focused eye contact with everything she had until I specifically told her she could look away and go back to other things.

I wonder if I've ever even tried to do that. I mean, I set aside time to pray, read scripture and study my Bible all the time. But there is always an end point to those activities that I know is coming, and I'm not sure I have ever thought to myself until very recently, "What can I do to stay 'fixed' after these activities end?" When I close my Bible and stand up to go wash dishes or do laundry or work out, how do I still stay focused on Christ?

I think Grace was on to something. :-D As I have thought through this, I was at first so obsessed with the idea of looking with my eyes that I couldn't make it make sense. But as I've thought it through, what I *think* I've realized is that the phrase has much more to do with behavior than eyesight. It's not about physical eye contact; it's about obedience. It's about deciding unflaggingly that Christ is your ultimate desire and that running toward him is your ultimate goal. And just like Gracie learned to obey me and keep doing it until I released her from my instructions, it's about realizing that when God calls you to do something, he should be the ONLY one you allow to re-direct your path or relieve you from that duty to move on to something else.

So for me, practically that looks a little something like this: God has called me to be a stay-at-home Mom in rural Vermont. Washing dishes and doing laundry are a big part of that, so they fit the path that I am on. Sometimes this also means baking cookies and flying kites. I've struggled with feelings of guilt on days that I have had the joy of doing these types of activities all day long, but truly this is my calling. To be the kind of Mom I believe God has called me to be, I need to be fully present in the lives of my children--whatever that means.

God has called me to be a pastor's wife. This means all sorts of things. Certainly it means supporting my husband in any way I can, but it also means developing relationships, providing meals, communicating with our church members, interacting with our community, etc., etc., etc. If I am understanding correctly, anything I do toward those goals helps me stay fixed on Christ--even those late night conversations on facebook with people who need prayer. (I'm really just kinda messing with people who think facebook is useless. I disagree, but certainly I understand that it can be a huge time waster too. :-P)

The bottom line for me on this (at least for now) is that anything that is in keeping with my overall calling can be a way of staying fixed on Christ. And those activities will be different for everyone. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to read scripture 12 hours a day and pray the other 6 hours you're awake. For me, it sometimes means fingerpainting and blowing bubbles. Other times it means being on my face in prayer for someone. It changes every day. But it is all part of being "fixed" as long as it is in alignment with my ultimate calling.

So that's what I got for now. ;-)

Wacky Hair Day AND Pajama Day!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Good List 4-27-10

10. These new(ish) Kellogg's Honey Nut Crunch cereals. They come in flakes and o's, and both are so yummy!
9. Celtics sweep the first round of the playoffs.
8. The original Fat Albert cartoons are now available on Netflix instant view. That's a crazy kind of awesome.
7. The kite we got Macy and Grace for Easter, which is over 7 feet wide. I can't wait to see that bad boy fly.
6. The loooooooong line of about 50 cows we saw obediently following each other in a single file line through a tunnel under the street to get to the barn on the other side. It was a very Vermont scene and pretty much awesome.
5. Macy's incredible SCAT (School and College Ability) results. She is in 4th grade, and she was tested against 7th and 8th graders. She ranked in the 85th percentile for verbal reasoning and in the 91st percentile for quantitative reasoning compared to kids 3 and 4 years older than her. Remarkable. This was to see if she would qualify for the young scholars program next year. She did. ;-) Is it ok to be proud of this?
4. Libraries. I love everything about them. The smell of the books, the sound of cracking spines and turning pages, the hushed tones in people's voices and the gentleness in their movements. The entire experience is so peaceful and calming.
3. The second Gospel Wakefulness conference is on the books for August in Ohio. Already praying for Christ to be honored through this event.
2. When God's provision comes in the most unique and unexpected ways.
1. Jared is working on another Bible study with LifeWay tentatively titled "Seven Deadly Sins" and tentatively scheduled for release in January 2012. I'm humbled and honored to be married to this man.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

40 Reasons Why my Big Sister Vickie is Awesome ('cause it's her 40th birthday)

1. Because she crams more activity into a week than pretty much anybody I know and somehow still manages to do it all well
2. Because she is brilliant
3. Because she literally still owns (and wears) clothes that she wore in high school (Did I mention she's 40 today?)
4. Because she absolutely adores my children
5. Because she is the best nurse I have ever met and one of the only ones who spends time with people, asks questions, and does research until she gets to the root of the problem instead of just throwing medication at people
6. Because she always accompanies my Mom and Dad to any and all doctor appointments she can to make sure they are being treated right. ;-)
7. Because she once sprayed on a bright orange "tan" right before a family lake trip, and the sight of that in my mind still makes me giggle. A LOT.
8. Because she has this fantastic finished "upper room" in her house that she loves to make available for people as a "getaway" for a night or two. Jared and I have taken advantage of it, and it is quite awesome and relaxing.
9. Because she got me my first job at the same place she worked so that I would have a ride.
10. Because when she quit that job, she then got me my second job at the next place she worked so that I would still have a ride. :-D
11. Because I have never spent time with her that didn't involve A LOT of laughing.
12. Because her legs are almost as long as my entire body.
13. Because she pretty much planned my entire wedding.
14. Because she pretty much plans all of our family trips (and I mean to the minute, people!) I love this, because she's really good at it, and then I just get to be along for the ride. Fun!
15. Because she has this inexplicable ability to be pleasant even in the most tense and chaotic situations
16. Because she gave me a nephew and 2 nieces that are sooooo special to me
17. Because she once put on a big, fluffy bunny onesie right in the middle of Target which made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants (but I'm still mad at her for not buying it)
18. Because she is never too busy to talk even though she is really always too busy to talk ;-)
19. Because she saves every little thing that could possibly be useful later, but unlike people like me who shove things like that into the back corner of a cabinet, she knows exactly where everything is and will go locate it for you in 2 seconds flat if you ever need it
20. Because we have more pictures of her butt than her face. This is a running family joke. Somehow she always manages to step in front of the camera and bend over at the most unfortunate times. :-D
21. Because she brought Blue Bell ice cream ALL THE WAY TO VERMONT from Texas to share at Macy and Grace's birthday party last summer
22. Because she loves to have all the little girls over to her house at Christmastime and give them their very own "spa day," which involves sitting in the hot tub, getting manicures and pedicures, eating decadent treats and sipping juice out of stemware. They all love it!
23. Because she made her entire Bible study group read Jared's first book pretty much immediately after it came out
24. Because she re-enacted Mission Impossible at a hotel in Lake Charles, LA during a girls' weekend with my Mom and all of my sisters (Inside joke, but I couldn't resist.)
25. Because she used to play Monopoly with me when no one else would
26. Because she quite possibly literally saved my life when I had a horrible 3-wheeler accident when I was 10 years old
27. Because really and truly, she just wants everyone to be happy and does everything she can to cause just that
28. Because she doesn't have a judgmental bone in her body
29. Because she is a champion eater. I mean, seriously y'all. It is a mystery to me that she doesn't weigh 300 pounds.
30. Because she is always up for an adventure.
31. Because every time there is a lull in the game, it's Vickie's turn. (another family joke)
32. Because she gives very creative and thoughtful gifts
33. Because she fully embraces the notion, "The more, the merrier." She wants everyone to join the fun and will find a way to make more room and find more food or whatever is necessary for everyone to enjoy themselves.
34. Because she is good at everything I have ever seen her attempt to do, but she would never tell you that.
35. Because she never made me feel like I got on her nerves when we were younger, even though I'm positive I did
36. Because she is one of the hardest workers I know
37. Because she has no idea how awesome she is
38. Because she has an uncanny ability to "make the best" of any given situation
39. Because I can't think of any reasons not to look up to her (plus she's really tall, so there's even that)
40. Because she was my very first best friend

Love you so much, Vick! Hope today is as special as you are. Really wish I was there to give you a huge hug!

Prayer Time 4-26-11

Another rainy Tuesday.

Ladies Bible Study (I really like this Paul character. ;-)

And then I'm giving myself rare permission to have more than one cup of coffee while I listen to the rain and pray.

Let me know if you have any requests I can lift up on your behalf. And as always, the comments on this post will not be published publicly for those concerned with privacy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Photo of the Week 4-25-11

'Cause it's nice to start Monday with something pretty. ;-)

Sometimes I really love simple. . . Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Death-Proof King Day!

From The Jesus Storybook Bible, one of my very favorite books in all the world:

. . .Jesus' body was gone!

And something else: a shining man was there, with clothes made from lightning.
"Don't be scared," the angel said.
But (they couldn't help it) they screamed anyway.
The angel asked them, "What are you doing here? This is the tomb and tombs are for dead people."
The women couldn't speak.
"Jesus isn't dead anymore!" he said. "He's alive again!"
And their hearts leapt. And then the angel laughed with such gladness that they felt, for a moment, as if they had woken from a nightmare.
The other women rushed home, but Mary stayed behind. How could it be true? Jesus was definitely dead--how could he be alive? Just then Mary heard someone else in the garden. Perhaps it's the gardener, she thought. He'll know where the body is.
"I don't know where Jesus is!" Mary said urgently. "I can't find him."
But it was all right. Jesus knew where she was. And he found her.
Only one person said her name like that. She could hear her heart thumping. She turned around. She could just make out a figure. She shaded her eyes to see. . . and thought she was dreaming.
But she wasn't dreaming. She was seeing.
Mary fell to the ground. Sudden tears filled her eyes and great sobs shook her whole body, and all she wanted in that moment was to cling to Jesus and never let him go.
"You'll be able to hold on to me later, Mary," Jesus said gently, "and always be close to me. But now, go and tell the others that I'm alive!"
Mary ran and ran, all the way to the city. She had never run so fast or so far in all her life. She felt she could have run forever. She didn't even feel like her feet touched the ground. The sun seemed to be dancing and gleaming and bounding across the sky, racing with her and shining brighter than she could ever remember in the clear, fresh air.
And it seemed to her that morning, as she ran, almost as if the whole world had been made anew, almost as if the whole world was singing for joy--the trees, tiny sounds in the grass, the birds. . . . her heart.
Was God really making everything sad come untrue? Was he making even death come untrue?
She couldn't wait to tell Jesus' friends. "They won't believe it!" she laughed.
She was right, of course.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Good List 4-20-11

10. Celtics 2-0 in the first round of playoffs. Keep it up, boys!
9. Watching Jared coach the Celtics from our couch. Easily as entertaining as the game itself. It's a shame they can't hear him. ;-)
8. The sound of ice clinking into a glass and then cracking as liquid is poured over it. I know it's super weird, but there is something oddly nostalgic about that sound that makes me happy.
7. Noticing beauty in the most random and unexpected places. Grateful when God opens my eyes.
6. Home. I love, Love, LOVE adventures, but my favorite place is home.
5. The absence of physical pain and illness. It's easy to whine when I'm temporarily not at my best health-wise. But I know so many people who are dealing with severe pain and illness on a daily basis. I am not one of those people, which I take for granted far, FAR too often. Today I am grateful.
4. The fantabulous posters Macy and Grace made while we were out of town last week. Fun stuff.

3. Realizing I never have to ask God to be near me because He always is. Learning to pray instead that I will recognize His presence more readily and cling to Him more quickly.
2. Loooooong, meaningful, memorable conversations about things that matter. Seems like these are hard to come by these days. All the more reason to treasure them when they happen.
1. Serving a RISEN Savior! Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Prayer Time 4-19-11

Rainy Day.

Ladies Bible Study this morning, which is always an excellent way to start a Tuesday.

Dinner is pre-made in the freezer.

The chores are *mostly* caught up, and the ones that aren't can wait. ;-)

It's a good day to pray.

Let me know what I can add to my list on your behalf by posting in the comments field. And as always, these comments will not be published publicly for those concerned with privacy.

Blessings to you this week as we look forward to celebrating the reason we live!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Some of My Favorite Books

Redeeming Love--I'm pretty sure this is the best fiction book I've ever read. And yes, I know it's fiction. But still-- It is such a staggering picture of grace. Relentless, tireless, abundant grace. Like Hosea's grace for Gomer. But even better, like God's grace for every sinner.

Sacred Marriage--This is my favorite book about marriage. So much so that Jared and I give it as a wedding gift to every couple we know. Rather than focus each person in a relationship on how to get his or her needs met more effectively, it makes grace a huge priority in the relationship. And it emphasizes the purpose of marriage as a relationship designed to draw each of us closer to Christ and make us more like Christ rather than setting it up as a vending machine designed to give us what we want if we just press all the right buttons.

The Phantom Tollbooth--One of my childhood favorites that I have re-read several times as an adult and enjoyed sharing with my children as well. It is so smart, so clever, so interesting, and so creative. (And the movie is really good too. But don't skip the book.)

The Prodigal God--This book is so excellent, as are pretty much all of Tim Keller's writings. And it could be just me, but there is something about the perspective of this book that caused almost a complete shift in my thinking. I grew up "in the church," and for the most part it never occurred to me to question what I learned at church early in life. But this book caused me to re-visit so many of those old familiar stories with fresh eyes and realize that Jesus is the common thread in EVERY story of the Bible whether or not they were taught to me that way when I was young. The prodigal son isn't just about a younger brother learning a lesson about responsibility and a Father's love and grace. It's about Jesus being the truer, better older brother rather than the Pharisee in this story. Such a seemingly simple truth, but one that I'm not sure ever would have occurred to me until I read this book. Really good stuff.

What to Expect When You're Expecting--This probably seems like a weird one to include on a list like this, but I have to say it really is an excellent book. It is packed with helpful information in a very organized and accessible format. Pretty much a must own for any Mommy-to-be, and I know several right now, so I'm throwing it in there! :-D

The Hobbit--I "had to" read this book for the first time when I was in 5th grade. I remember rolling my eyes and having a bad attitude at first. But WOW--what a FANTASTIC adventure! I had no idea what a treat I would experience in the pages of that book. I need to read it (and the Lord of the Rings trilogy) again soon.

Gospel Wakefulness--Yes, I'm probably a bit partial about this one. Maybe. I don't know. You'll have to let me know after you read it. ;-) But in all honesty, this is the best book I've ever read that fully focuses on the POWER of Christ and states very clearly that there is nothing we can do to control it. It is not a self-help book. There is no checklist of things to do in order to achieve Gospel Wakefulness. But there is astonishment and glorious celebration in the power of the Gospel. It is such a fresh (and in my opinion needed) perspective.

The Chronicles of Narnia series--I mean, duh, right? Shouldn't this be on any respectable list of favorite books? :-D

The Jesus Storybook Bible--I cannot say enough about this book. Every household in the world should own at least one copy. We have 3. One that we use regularly, and one stored away in each of Macy and Grace's keepsake boxes to be used with their own kids someday. And that's probably not enough. I just hope it never goes out of print. This book is exceptional. It makes me weep almost every time I read it--in a good and healthy and How-could-this-Jesus-love-me-so-much? kind of way. If you have kids, get one for each of them and one for the family to share. If you don't have kids, get one anyway. The perspective is one that even adults will benefit from. I promise. This book might just change your life at any age. It is that good.

The Oak Inside the Acorn--I think of this as sort of a Godly spin on Dr. Seuss's "Oh the Places You'll Go" (which is also a great book, btw). This is my favorite Max Lucado book by far (and he has written some excellent stuff for sure). Gentle and sweet, it nevertheless strongly emphasizes the presence of a mighty oak inside each little acorn and the need for those acorns to eventually venture out of the protective shade of the tree they fell from and find their place to grow. Poignant for parents. Inspiring for kids. Precious for any age.

NOW--What are yours? I'm always looking for recommendations!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Saturday, April 16, 2011


We all need a friend like Pooh sometimes.

"A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference."


"If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to be without you."


"Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo."


"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."


"If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart. I'll stay there forever."


"You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes."


Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
"Pooh," he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw.
"I just wanted to be sure of you."


"I wonder what Piglet is doing," thought Pooh.
"I wish I were there to be doing it too."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

TGC11 Highlights

I should say as a disclaimer that I pretty much loved every second of my time there and truly hope I can attend many more conferences in the future. But these are just a few specific moments that will stand out in my mind.

--Lunch with Chris and Amanda Thomas. So much fun to reconnect with an old friend and meet his precious wife face to face for the first time. And I'm pretty sure we got to be the first people to hear (in person) that they're having a BOY!!! Awesome.
--Dinner with Matt and Lauren Chandler. The food was excellent, but the fellowship was even better. What a fantastic couple of human individuals those two are.
--Tim Keller. Every time I hear him speak, it's a highlight for me. ;-)
--The fact that this conference is primarily attended by men, which means NO LINES in the ladies' room. Bonus!
--Hearing Alistair Begg "live" for the first time. I love his voice. And I pretty much have a crush on him because of it, but I'm told that it's ok because most of the guys do too. :-D
--Meeting, shaking hands with and giving hugs to SO MANY PEOPLE that I have only seen or heard via technology previously.
--Hanging out with the Acts 29 dudes (and Steve McCoy :-D). And this should actually be several points because there are so many reasons it was a highlight. First, because they really love each other. It is so refreshing to see. These guys have each other's backs in a way I'm not sure I've ever seen before in a large group of men. It's beautiful. And something you can't fake. Second, they love my husband. So that makes them pretty much family to me. Third, they welcomed me like a long, lost sister. Fourth, and most importantly, they are madly in love with Jesus and the Gospel. It oozes out of every single one of them. Every conversation I heard, participated in, or overheard within that group was centered around and saturated with the Gospel. Just phenomenal.
--Seeing the sun rise and set over Lake Michigan
--Watching Ray Ortlund exuberantly embrace Jared like his very own son he hadn't seen in years. Those guys have so much respect and honor for each other, it's impossible not to be uplifted by their relationship.
--Seeing tons of my old LifeWay buddies. (WAY more than I expected!)
--Getting to interact with the Crossway marketing group about Jared's book release later this year. They are sharp, gracious, and fun to work with. Jared is in good hands for sure.
--The sound of thousands of voices lifted together in worship. There is absolutely no other experience like this.
--Mark Driscoll's powerful lecture (that's his word--he said it wasn't a sermon) about the Holy Spirit. He called it down, my friend. Check out the TGC website and listen to the podcast.
--Matt Chandler. Again, like Tim Keller--it's a highlight for me any time this man speaks. Love his heart and passion for the Gospel. Listen to the podcast on the TGC website. And then listen to all of his other podcasts if you haven't already. Twice. :-D
--And last but not least, getting to spend the week with my man. So special. So needed. And so refreshing. I hope this becomes a yearly habit. (Well, every other year. And then T4G in between.)

What a fantastic week!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Good List 4-13-11

10. A really good pen. Not too fat, not too skinny, with a nice smooth flow of ink. Sometimes it's the little things. ;-)
9. The 111 photo prints I ordered from Snapfish for $1.11 last week. YAY for coupons!!!
8. The live stream of the eagles in the Decorah hatchery. They are so sweet and adorable, and I LOVE the background sounds. So relaxing.
7. My favorite new make-your-cleaning-life-easier tip: If something spills over or explodes in your microwave or if for any reason it's just kinda nasty ;-) -- Cut a lemon in half. Put it pulp-side down in the middle of your microwave. Zap for 20 seconds. Then take it out and wipe everything down with a warm, wet cloth. It's like magic! And then use the same lemon on your cook top, tea kettle and faucets. Grime-free in seconds! Basically, you can pretty much clean at least half of your kitchen with a $.40 lemon and very little effort. You're welcome. ;-)
6. The Great Wall of Chocolate. Y'all. OMG. It had been way too long. And just hush about the calories. It was part of our 15 year anniversary celebration. We earned it.
5. Living in a place that inspires me to grab my camera almost every single day. Gorgeousness abounds.
4. The sound of recovering criminals and addicts of every kind lifting their voices to sing and shout praises to their Savior. Just phenomenal. (Special thanks to Teen Challenge for bringing a group to our church last weekend to minister to us. So special.)
3. The JOB OFFER that my brother-in-law got last week in HARTFORD, VT!!!!! WHAT?!?!? I finally get to be neighbors with my sister!!!
2. Gospel Coalition 2011 is underway, and I am HERE! Awesome. Highlights will be posted later, for there are far too many to be contained in one small list. :-D
1. Being married to a man that I am so very proud of. (even though that sentence is not proper grammar and he will probably tell me about it later.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Random Thoughts

--Every single time I get sick, one of my first thoughts is, "Ugh. I really DO NOT have time for this." But then I make myself giggle when my follow-up thought is: "I wonder if anyone has ever said, 'Wow--this is really the perfect time for me to get sick! Awesome!'"
--While most people drink coffee to wake up/get energy, I find it soothes and calms me. Sometimes sitting still with a cup of coffee for 15 minutes is exactly what I need to relax.
--I feel strongly that it should be a crime for airports and/or hotels NOT to have free wifi these days. Especially considering the not cheap cost of air travel and hotels. Gimme a break.
--What in the world ever happened to Tom Wopat? Just wonderin'.
--It occurs to me that "btw" has more syllables than "by the way." Weird.

--TGC 2011 starts tomorrow. It's my first one. I'm PUMPED!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sunrise and Sunset

I'm still pretty "new" here in Vermont, so I can't really speak from much experience about what is "typical Vermont weather" or anything along those lines. But what I've been told over and over again is that if you don't like the weather, just give it 5 minutes, and it'll change. ;-) The last several days have been great examples. Warm and sunny one minute, cool and damp and gray the next, etc. It's been interesting. Yesterday was pretty back and forth all day. But it started with a gorgeous sunrise and ended with what looked like fire on the mountains. And that has been pretty typical--at least since I've lived here. I LOVE it!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Good List 4-6-11

10. The fantastic customer service I got from "Lori. A." the other night on the "click to chat" option on the Walgreen's website. Professional, gracious, and efficient--just like customer service should be but rarely is anymore.
9. Girls' weekend treats.
8. Laughing at myself. Life's way too short not to.
7. Having an entire drawer in our refrigerator dedicated to yogurt because our entire family loves it so much. As someone who likes to eat and serve healthy snacks, this makes me very happy. (And YAY for the 10/$3 plus additional coupons sales our local grocery store offers all the time so we can keep it full without going broke.)
6. My cute little picnic basket. It's ready to come out of hibernation and go on an adventure.

5. Spring cleaning. More specifically, the final outcome. ;-) But the process isn't so bad either when you have 2 fabulous little helpers named Macy and Grace.
4. Freerunning. Don't even try to tell me this isn't awesome.
3. Autism Awareness Day (April 2). I know so many people who are affected by this, and I think it's terribly misunderstood way too often. Nice to see so many people (including the NBA) bringing attention to it lately.
2. The David Crowder/Shane & Shane/Robbie Seay Band version of "I Saw the Light." Fantastic.
1. Hearing all of the great reports about the Gospel Wakefulness conference Jared preached last weekend. Sounds like it was an amazing event where Christ was honored and hearts were open.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Prayer Time 4-5-11

It's rainy and WARM(ish) in the 802 today. Ladies Bible study this morning, lunch with my man who I'm happy is back home, and then I'm opening some windows to listen to the rain. It's the perfect setting for prayer time.

Let me know if you have any requests to add to my list. And as always, comments on this post will not be published for those concerned with privacy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning takes on a whole new meaning here in Vermont as compared to life in Texas and Tennessee. Primarily because winter requires so much more "clutter" here. Muddy boots, extra blankets on the bed (which inevitably end up on the floor in the kids' room), more clothing in the closets to help us layer up each day which causes more dirty laundry and therefore more clean laundry waiting to be put away, gloves and hats and scarves everywhere (including the ever growing pile of unmatched gloves), and then just the result of not really having the option of storing anything outside during the winter. (We don't have a garage or anything like that.) Basically, there's just stuff everywhere during winter. So yeah--spring cleaning. It's not just about vacuuming and cleaning windows here. ;-) It's a BIG project.

AND we're approaching probably the busiest month we've had since moving here. Lots of travel, lots of company coming, lots of activity during April. Of course we want to get it done before we're right in the middle of all of that. SO--I've been "warning" Macy and Grace for about a week now that while Dad was out of town, we would need to really get to work on our spring cleaning. To my great joy (and maybe a little bit of surprise--shame on me for doubting), they responded very well. And this got me thinking. About obedience.

The way I see it, we have only three options when it comes to obedience.

We can disobey. Of course this is usually the first temptation--especially if the task before us is something we don't want to do, don't think we should have to do, or just don't understand. This never ends well. If my children had disobeyed my instructions to get their spring cleaning tasks done, let's just say it would have been a bad day for all of us. (I'm really thankful they chose not to behave that way.) AND the thing is--even if they would have chosen disobedience initially, they still would have had to complete the tasks eventually. I would have made sure of it. All of us would have been miserable in the process, but one way or another, it would have gotten done.

Similarly, God invites us to participate in his plans. As in, "I (God) am going to accomplish ______. Your role is _______." We can choose to disobey. And we might even get away with it for awhile. As in not have to do the specific task he has called us to immediately. Or honestly, we may never do that specific task if we continue in disobedience. BUT--God's will WILL be done whether or not we participate. Whatever end result we try to avoid by not participating in what we've been asked to do will still occur. And if we haven't walked through the process with Christ, learning and understanding as we go, chances are we will be miserable as he works his will in spite of us. Disobedience never ends well.

Another option is to obey reluctantly. We'll "do" what we're asked to do, but we don't agree with it, and we're sure not happy about it. We'll stomp around, frowning and murmuring the whole time, making sure everyone knows we're really not on board with this idea. And we'll end up with a "clean house," but the process will not lead to a positive experience of working together, accomplishing something bigger than what we could have done on our own. Instead we will have caused quite the opposite by damaging the relationship with the one who has asked for our participation and creating a significantly negative memory which will infiltrate our thinking each time we're in a similar situation. Hmm. Better than disobedience? Maybe, I guess. But certainly not ultimately desirable behavior.

The best option is to obey joyfully. Ok, Pollyanna. Nice thought, but isn't that easier said than done. Well SURE it is! I didn't say it was the easiest. I said it was the best. Big difference. BUT I do think there are ways to make it a little easier each time. Specifically these two ways:

The first critical element to joyful obedience (at least in my estimation) is a pattern of behavior that we come to trust. In other words, every time Christ asks for obedience and we choose to obey, it ends well. Maybe not the way we expected. And probably not with some major increase in worldly possessions or comforts (in fact, there may even be some pain involved). But it ends well. In such a way that we can look back on the experience and say to ourselves, "I'm really glad that happened the way it did."

As I was talking to Macy and Grace about our spring cleaning project, I found myself repeatedly recalling past similar (positive) experiences that I knew would be happy memories for them. "Remember when we played the music so loud that Dad scared us half to death because we didn't hear the car or the door when he came in?" (giggles) "Remember how good it always feels to walk into your room and NOT step on some random sharp object on the floor but see everything perfectly in place and then slip into your clean sheets for a good night's sleep?" Etc. You get the picture.

I think God reminds us of past positive experiences with him as well. But the thing is--we have to have HAD some to be reminded of them. And of course the more we have had, the more quickly they tend to come to mind. Thus the pattern of behavior that we come to trust. Christ asks us to obey. We do. It ends well. Repeat.

The second critical element to joyful obedience is dialog. You know. Talk about it. Pray. Read scripture. Have a little back-and-forth with God. He can handle it. ;-)

Suppose I had said to my children, "We're cleaning all day Saturday, and that's that." Do you imagine that would have led to joyful obedience? I think not. By God's grace, I've learned better methods. :-D In this case, dialog was key. We talked about why we needed to do this and what wonderful benefits it would lead to. Things like--all of their things would be in the right place and easy to locate when needed. We would probably find some "lost items" along the way as we cleaned out closets, under beds, etc. And fortunately they're enough like their Mom that the idea of "order" in and of itself is appealing enough to use as a persuasive factor. So we talked about those things. And they liked the idea. Then we talked about the actual methods of achieving our goal. We'll play the music really loud. :-D We'll work together on the big projects and divide the small projects and have contests to see who can complete her task first. AND the cherry on top--we'll reward ourselves when we're done. Oh yes. (They're all in at this point.)

Now I'm not saying that God is necessarily promising physical rewards for our obedience. But what he does promise is ongoing dialog and help. That is--His presence with us. He doesn't just say, "Do" and then abandon us. He says, "Do with me" and then works right beside us. Many times the reward for our obedience is quite simply Christ. A closer relationship with him. Yet another experience with him that strengthens our faith. The dialog that we get to have as we walk obediently beside him every day. And this begins the cycle again. Next time he tells us to obey, it becomes that much easier. Not because the situation itself is easy. But because we know the end result of all three of our options. And while this last one might be the most difficult to *want* to do, we learn over time through repeated experience that it is the BEST choice. Because each time He asks us for obedience, He walks right beside us through the process. He strengthens and protects and provides and loves. OH how he loves in such a way that we never want to leave his side. And when we learn that the only way to be constantly by his side is by obeying each time we're asked, the decision to obey gets easier to make. And the joy that comes from obedience increases. Because we like things that end well. Things that end well bring joy. And I'm pretty sure being bound to Christ and obedient to his call is the ONLY thing that ALWAYS ends well. That should make it (at least a little) easier to do, right? :-D Let's give it a try and see what happens.

Friday, April 1, 2011


One of my favorite friends, the amazing Kim Carr, just shared this with me. There's really nothing I can add. It's perfect. Watch.