Saturday, March 31, 2007

Warning - Sinners are Here!

I wrote this in response to what has been happening in the news regarding our church. Many people have said that the church should have made it more clear about what happened recently. Maybe in response, the church should do a mass mailing to the city of Indianapolis, something like this:

Welcome to the church of America. To keep everyone safe, we wanted to tell you about a few people at our church:

  1. Avoid talking to Jane, because she loves herself more than God and will possibly do selfish things and lead you away from our God or hurt you and leave a bad taste in your mouth of church. Those hypocrites.
  2. Avoid John, because he has too many worldly toys that could distract you from truly worshiping and lead you into his idol worship.
  3. Don’t hang around Bubba because he cusses like a sailor and will corrupt your kids.
  4. Then there’s the issue regarding the Smiths, Martins, and Jacobsons…. They only attend Easter and Christmas. If you associate with them, you may learn their lazy ways and begin sleeping in yourselves.
  5. In the youthgroup, there is a group of kids in the back that talk-back to their parents. All members must avoid them at all costs because of the disease that might spread to the rest. We must use them as examples.
  6. Mr. Johnson hates his brother for previous bad business deals. Jesus said that was murder, so I’d watch out. Once anger has settled in, who knows what will happen. For the sake of your lives and the lives of your families, do not associate with him.
  7. And then there is Sarah, who left her husband for another man. They are now married and attending our church, which we cannot stop, but avoid her because she might seduce your own husband and do her despicable thing again.
  8. Josh Carter had been in jail for car theft. Sit on the other side of the room as him, and keep an eye on your purses and wallets – please! We are not responsible for lost or STOLEN articles!
  9. Word has it that Sam Sailor cheated on his taxes and reported less income than he made. That is an outright lie, and we will not stand for it. Once you’ve lied once, you’re going to lie over and over… never ever trust anything he says to you.
  10. Don’t talk about your home and cars around the Jameseson family and don’t invite them over to see them because they live in a small house and might start secretly wanting yours. Likewise, his wife is not very pretty, so he might want your wife as well, and then we have the same problem as with Sarah.

Overall, there are some really bad people here, unlike us who are perfect of course, and although these people have been in counseling and are trying to change, we still think it’s best if you stay away. Hopefully they will stop coming to church and we’ll finally have a clean place where we can worship our God.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bread of Life

I'm going through a book called, "Praying the Names of Jesus" and it has been so helpful. Right now I'm on "Bread of Life" and today's just struck me.

From John 6, after feeding the 5000 and filling their bellies w/ bread, Jesus said,

Stop working for food that spoils.
Work for the forever food that I will give you.
The work you need to do is to believe in me.
I am the bread of life.
When you fall down dead, I will make you stand up alive again on the last day.

Ann Spangler explains that it was too much for them - the crowd wanted a leader to rise up right then and meet their needs, but Jesus was more concerned with their life after their death.

She says, "What about you? How hungry are you? It's so easy to stuff ourselves with the world's cheap bread - with money, success, comfort, and pleasure - that we take the edge off our spiritual hunger. We fail to realize the dangers of living in an affluent, consumer-driven society in which we can be consumed by the things we desire. So many of us are like sponges, soaking up the world's good things with no space left for God..."

Good stuff!

I love how she combines Bible reading and teaching with daily prayer and reflection. I'd highly recommend it!

Each day you read new passages about the name, which are mostly written in the book for you, and then you pray through them. Not a big time commitment, but a good one.

I have the book and the journal. I'm considering going through this with the girls, in a simplified format, this summer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Starting with One

For my dear friend, who I hope reads it! :)

Living in a bubble
Nothing getting in
I'm on my own
Just me and myself


it's gone
people are hurting
crying, groaning, pain
everywhere, everywhere

I am a mortal
I can't heal
or mend
or fix - anything!

Stuck in one spot
Left to my own thoughts
My own worries
My own problems...

...Yet greatly aware
of the problems of others
all around me
and everywhere I look.

What can I do?
Where do I begin?
Who should I help?
And How?

Hi, is there anything I can do?
Come on over.
Let's talk.

One at a time...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How to spot a writer...

I was writing last night in Abby's journal and Lee started laughing. "How many journals do you have?" So I had to count. Just behind my bed, I have 10. Ten books that I'm currently writing in. That is just crazy.

Doo Doo and the Grumpy Giant

Tonight I'll share another Doo Doo Story that I found rather inventive. Again, the girls helped me fill in the blanks. This is by far the longest one!!!

Once upon a time, there was a large, mean, ugly giant who lived in the sky. His ears were so large that he could hear everything all the time and he never got any sleep. All night he was disturbed by crickets and toads in the pond. Each morning he'd wake up to the sound of children playing outside and birds in the trees. The noise was so loud that he finally stormed out of bed, grumpy as ever, and slammed open his door.

"Be Quiet!" the giant bellowed. Everyone froze. They ran away in fear, the children with tears in their eyes, telling stories of the angry giant. Before long, no one came near the giant's castle for fear of his anger.

The Giant's sleeping woes continued, however, because even the sound of the wind kept him awake through the night.

One evening, the Giant heard a buzzing sound. He tried swatting it away, but soon it grew louder and louder. The Giant grabbed a glass and trapped the little noise maker - who was none other than our Teeny Tiny Black Bug Friend named... Doo Doo!

"How dare you buzz around my castle, making so much noise! I am going to smoosh you at once!" The Giant declared.

"Please, don't," Doo Doo pleaded. "I promise that if you spare my life, I will help you get a good night's sleep every night for the rest of your life."

The giant paused, his fist in the air, ready to smash the little speck. "You really think you can help me sleep? You? You're so small!" And the Giant roared in laughter.

Doo Doo, "Please give me a chance. If it doesn't work, you can smoosh me anyway. I'll just need one day."

The Giant agreed to these terms, and the next morning, he removed the glass and freed the bug. As Doo Doo flew away, the Giant warned, "If you don't come back, I'll find you! You'll be sorry!"

Doo Doo flew as fast as he could. He had to work quickly because he needed to be back before the Giant's bedtime.

Doo Doo began racing through the land, up higher and higher, until his little wings began to grow weak and tired. Just when he thought he'd never make it, he saw Cloud City, just over the mountain.

Doo Doo rushed around Cloud City, looking for two clouds just the right size for the Giant's ears. Once he found them, he began carrying them back to the castle.

It was a long journey back, and Doo Doo knew that he could never make alone. The clouds were too heavy and the flight was too long. Just when his spirits were almost shattered, his friend the Eagle came swooping by. "Doo Doo, you look exhausted! What is wrong? Can I help?"

"Oh yes!" Doo Doo exclaimed. "I'm trying to fly all the way back to the Giant's castle by sunset, but I don't think I'll make it."

"Climb on my back," the Eagle offered, "and I'll fly you there. But I'll only go as far as the gate. I'm too afraid of the Giant."

Doo Doo happily accepted the offer, and he soared with the Eagle over the mountain and back to the Castle.

At the gate, Doo Doo flew off with his clouds and thanked the Eagle, who replied, "It was my pleasure, Doo Doo. You are always helping everyone else. This is the least I can do to thank you." With that, the Eagle took off back into the sky. "Be safe!" he called.

Doo Doo found an open window and sailed back into the Giant's bedroom, just as the sun was beginning to set.

"You came back! What is your plan for my good night's sleep?" The Giant demanded.

Doo Doo offered the clouds to the giant. "Put these in your ears. They're just the right size. I promise you that you will not be bothered until you remove them in the morning." Just in case, the Giant captured Doo Doo in the cup again, put the clouds in his ears, and went to bed.

When the sun poured into his window, the Giant opened his eyes and heard... nothing. Absolutely nothing. A smile spread across his face. He threw off the covers, jumped out of bed, and ran to the window. He laughed a big, joyous laugh, and ran to Doo Doo and asked, "How can I ever thank you? This is amazing! That was the best night of sleep I've ever had!"

Doo Doo was relieved that his plan had worked. From then on, word spread of the Giant's kindness and joyful spirit, and the children and birds and animals were no longer afraid. Most of all, the Giant never ever forgot the help of his good friend, the teeny tiny black bug named Doo Doo.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Doo Doo and the Princess Bugs

The following story was written by my daughters and I as we drove in the car. We each said a sentence and took turns adding to the plot. It has been retold several times, but this is the general idea:

Once upon a time there were two princesses, Abigail and Katherine, who decided to go on a walk and pick berries. They stumbled across a forbidden woods that belonged to the evil witch. The witch flew in and demanded, "Who has been picking my berries?" Abigail and Katherine didn't know what to say, and so the witch immediately turned them into itty-bitty bugs. She cackled and howled with laughter as she flew away.

The little princess bugs didn't know what to do or where to go. Everything seemed so gigantic that they couldn't find their way home. "What are we going to do?" Abigail asked.

Just then, they heard a buzzing noise - a teeny tiny black bug named... Doo Doo!

"What happened, princesses?" Doo Doo inquired.

"The wicked witch turned us into bugs!" Katie exclaimed, trying to fly around.

"I can help you," Doo Doo said. "Follow me. I will lead you back to your castle."

The princess bugs, who were really quite lovely with their yellow and pink wings, followed Doo Doo around trees, over lakes, and across the field to the castle, which looked quite large in comparison to their minuscule size. They flew into an open window and found the Queen, sitting on her throne eating lunch.

"Mother, Mother!" Abigail yelled in the biggest voice she could muster, all the while buzzing and flapping in the Queen's ears. The Queen just swatted her away, not knowing who she really was.

"I have an idea!" Doo Doo then suggested that they fly over to the microphone and talk to the Queen. Their voices would be much louder.

Katherine flew to the microphone and said as loud as her little voice could, "Mother, oh Queen, Abigail and I were turned into little bugs. Look over here!"

Indeed the Queen did hear her daughter's plea for help, and without a moment's hesitation, she magically turned them back into girls.

They embraced and shared stories of how their day had become so tragic. For the rest of their lives, they never forgot the help of their little friend, the teeny tiny black bug named Doo Doo.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Getting from here to way over there...

I have a tendancy in conversation to change the topic randomly. Although it might seem completely unrelated, it isn't. So I'm ganna show you how it works. I won't edit my thoughts at all. I'll just go with the flow. Here goes:

I just took an online typing speed test and scored 95 words per minute. I wasn't surprised. I've been typing since elementary school. In 6th grade I wrote an 80 page book, single spaced. I have a 3 inch thick binder of every letter I ever typed and gave to people in school. The down side to that is that I tend to be really lengthy in my writings. I can type about as fast as I think, which means that I can change subjects and jump around about as crazily as my mind works normally. The washer just kicked in. I wonder if its really washing the clothes, or just getting them wet. It bugs me when my Downy ball doesn't pop open until I'm unloading the wash and then fabric softener gets all over everything and I have to re-wash the load. Did you know fabric softener stains? I ruined an entire load last week. Even this favorite blue long-sleeved T Shirt my sister in law gave me now looks tie-dyed in the middle. A few months ago I ruined a load of sweaters b/c I accidentally threw in a dry clean only sweater and it deteriorated on all the other sweaters. The up side is having to buy new clothes, but really, I don't get out clothes-shopping much with the kids so it's more of a hassle than anything else. When I just had Abby we'd go to 4-5 stores at a time and loved it. We were building our home at the time, so my stores mainly consisted of Lowes, Sherwin Williams, Target, Costco, Lowes again. Because you know how home projects are. You think you have everything and then you get into the project and realize you must have used all of your paint rollers last time. Or you didn't have quite as many nails left for all those pictures. I once tried to use big 3 inch nails to hang pictures all over as a family picture wall, and it looks like bullet holes behind each frame. Not to mention I'm really not a perfectionist at all and I didn't exactly hammer it in the right place the first time - ever. So I had to reposition and nail again, creating even more holes. Funny thing is, when we changed out the frames, rather than puttying the walls (like the Morans would do) and repainting, we just figured out how to hang the new frames so they'd fit over the old holes. For the most part it worked. I'm glad Lee doesn't care either. It sure makes it easier! Of course, the pictures are never straight anyway b/c the kids jump on the couch and they get bumped. I guess I could tape the backs - that would probably work - but I'll probably forget about it as soon as I step out of this chair and walk away from the computer. Did you know, by the way, that my computer chair has glue on it? Really! I sit down quickly to print out a recipe, then a half hour later I walk back into the kitchen to get some juice for Nate and I realize I never printed out the recipe. It's like a black hole of time. I used to think that reading really made the time tick away, but not like email or the internet. In fact, I fear my chair so much that usually I'll come into the office, click "send and receive," and I'll never sit down. Just a quick email check, I tell myself. Then I'll leave. Reminds me of an email I got in highschool, "You know you're addicted to the internet when..." And a few of them were "there's an emptiness in you when you hear your internet hang up," but we've solved that one now with DSL and we can stay on 24-hours a day. Or you start smiling sideways :) but with the invention of smilies, most of us no longer have kinks in our neck. I did the craziest thing today! I was running to answer the phone, slid on one of the girls' dress-up-dresses, and my legs kicked out to my right side, I flew up in the air, and landed straight down on my hip. I went to get up right away to get the phone, thinking I was fine, but I couldn't move. I just laid there, groaning. At least I fell on the squishiest part of my hip. Good thing I hadn't been to the gym the last two weeks, right Lori? Abby came out, kissed my head. What hurt the most was the headache b/c my teeth slammed together. In fact, I still have a headache. Ugh. I think I know what would fix it - getting out of this sticky, time-erasing chair and heading to bed. Probably a good idea. So I'm off! But first, you know, before I go, I'll have to check my email and message boards one more time, and if there's nothing there, I'll preview my Shutterfly Family Album I'm working on and then see if anyone commented on my blog - which of course the answer would be NO because who on earth would read this?

So if you ever wonder if I'm talking to you and I say:

"I took a typing test recently. I type fast. By the way, have you read my blog?"

You'll know how my brain got from typing tests to my blog.......... question solved! It's not really that strange, is it?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Belonging and Approval

Last night I got together with some High School friends I was in Show Choir with for our 10th year reunion. We went to our school's choir performance and then out for drinks. What a night! I hardly know where to begin, but it was great seeing everyone and where they were on their journey.

For now, I'll share one thing about the night that hit me. We discussed our life in the show choir and also our director's "interesting" teaching tactics. I heard two words repeated a lot: Belonging and Approval.

Most of us had dreams that we would make The Ambassadors and finally belong somewhere. There would always be a place to sit in the cafeteria. You'd never be alone on a Friday night. It would be a tight group of friends who got each other's back. Our Junior Year was anything but that. In fact, it was splintered, cliquish, and backstabbing. The competition was rough and very few people got along with everyone. The rose colored glasses fell off.

In the same way, we struggled to win the approval of our director. Never being good enough. Never hearing, "Great Job." Always feeling like he was manipulating us and playing mind games - which he probably was. On one hand we were filled with tremendously inflated pride at being the top show choir in the entire known universe, and on the other hand we felt like losers when our director offered us sarcastic and snide critiques.

A Change of Perspective:

I think of my life now. It is so different! The Bible says:

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Gal 1:10

Pleasing God and pleasing men are worlds apart. Men can fail us, crush us, and have their own personal issues mixed in that complicate life when we are trying to follow their lead. But because I love God, Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things out for my good. God is for me!

He also understands that I am from dust and can sympathize with my weaknesses. I don't have to struggle with, "Am I good enough?" The answer is a resounding No! I'm not good enough, and He knows that. That's why He sent Jesus. Because I believe that His death covered my sins and the mistakes I'm bound to make, God no longer treats me like I deserve. He's adopted me into His family and treats me as His special child. How does my Heavenly Father treat me?

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:11

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." Ephesians 1:3

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:7

Of course, as His child, I have responsibilities to act accordingly, but He still understands the struggle that goes on in each of us. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:

"I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin."

He knows we are going to struggle, and He gave us His Spirit to work in us, and We have the ability to overcome our sin only in Him.

"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." I John 4:4

And He promises in I John 1:9 that He will also always forgive my sins.

As if this wasn't good enough, He plans on rewarding us for the good that we do. He will remember all of our good deeds, even as simple as offering someone a cool drink. Things I could never remember, He will. Unbelievable. I pray that at the end of my life when I walk out of hear, I'll here the praise I may never receive from men on this earth. "Well done, My good and faithful servant."

In the meantime, He's given us a community where I belong. Many people I talk to are disillusioned by the many splits and fractures in the church. I get it. But when you are walking close to God, He brings people into your life to walk with you on your journey. The bonds that He enables us to share go beyond music preference, clothing style, and versions of the Bible. Of course we are all going to fail and disappoint each other, but according to His plan, He shows ways of restoration and forgiveness that are only possible with Him.

I know where I belong, and I know whose approval I'm seeking.
God began this work in me, and I'm trusting in His faithfulness to complete it. So I'll end with the words of a song we sang in Show Choir, "I'll never go back to where I was before."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Teeny Tiny Black Bug Named...

My kids and I always tell each other stories. I used to keep Abby from crying in the car when she was just a baby by telling endless tales about all different animals, complete with voices and sound effects. As she got older, she joined the game and we'd go back and forth, adding to the stories. Now Katie actively participates, and the creativity continues.

Our favorite hero was created a few years ago when I left the name of the character blank. I said, "There was a teeny tiny black bug named..."

And Katie shouted out, "Doo Doo!" So Doo Doo he became. He's been the lead in dozens of stories that I eventually want to write down. Always ready to help, Doo Doo is a great example of what a friend should be - despite his embarrassing name.

I'll probably share some Doo Doo stories on here when I have nothing else to write about. We've tried drawing what Doo Doo looks like, but the best rendition is a dot on the page - because he is so teeny tiny.

On this note, I have to recommend a game that we love to play: Playchest Silly Story Maker. We've had it a few months and it is a family favorite. The stories you make up are endless, and the kids don't even know they're learning reading comprehension and retention.

Friday, March 23, 2007

"There's No Place Like..."

Last night we had quite the thunderstorm. The light show started about an hour ahead of the rain. Nathan, my one-year-old, woke up saying, "Ma Ma!" and wanted to look out the window. He must take after his daddy - he was fascinated. "Dight! Ooooh!" I brought him to bed with me, and we tried to settle in.

I have to admit that although I'll bravely drive out with Lee to watch a storm come in or reassure my children that everything is fine, inside I'm a little girl hiding under my covers! I'm really not a fan. I agree with the Psalmist, "I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm."

As the thunder rolled louder, I began wondering when my fear of storms and tornadoes started. Could it be from the movie "The Wizard of Oz" where poor Dorothy loses her entire home and gets transported into another land?

I decided that I would comfort my children when they watched it by explaining that houses really can't fly over the rainbow.

Although, in actuality, I think they can get close...

(If you really want to know the rabbit trail my mind went on, I'll continue.)

Then I realized that Dorothy all along said, "I want to go home!" And at the end, she had to tap her ruby slippers and say, "There's no place like home."

But in reality, where was her home? It was in Oz! It landed on the witch, Dorothy, remember? Why didn't a Lollipop Kid say, "Oh, the way to your home is... well, just turn around and look at it."

Perhaps they needed a catchy slogan for the end, and it doesn't sound as nice to say, "There's no place like the place back where my family is..." or "There's no place like my farm with my Aunt and Uncle and the hired help..."

Either way, this train of thought led me away from the storms and into a peaceful sleep. So I guess I can be thankful for "The Wizard of Oz" after all.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

And the writing continues...

Last week I ran across a box filled with all of my old journals. The excessive habit started when I was 8 with my first diary. I wrote about wanting a Cabbage Patch for Christmas and the woes of not sitting next to my best friend in class anymore. The writing continued all through school. One summer in Junior High I wrote every single day. The idea was that at the end of the summer my friend and I would trade diaries and read them. Most entries are very boring, containing elements like what I ate for breakfast or the fact that I didn't want to clean my room. At the end of the summer, the trade never happened, but I have a faithful record of the entire 3 months.

In highschool I had to write every day during a sememster for a Creative Writing Class. By this time, my skills had improved and it is filled with silly poetry, character sketches, and insightful thoughts. Of course, it was just an assigment, and I also filled many days with uninteresting accounts of what I read on the back of a rice cake package.

In 9th grade I started writing a journal to my future husband, in hopes that he would one day read it. I rambled on and on about the events of my social life, highschool woes, and family challenges. I often enjoyed thinking about the kind of man he would be, his interests, his ambitions. I imagined my life in all different situations, with a scientist, artist, pastor, etc.

As I've gotten older, I have journals for each of my children and various prayer journals, but there hasn't been much time to write for "fun."

I've always wanted to Blog, but I had hesitated because I wondered, "Who would read it?" Now I know, however, that it isn't about who reads it. It is about me expressing myself in writing - something that has always been important to me. I have dozens of notebooks filled with my random thoughts that no one probably cares about. Even the two notebooks to my future husband have never been read by him! :)

So my blogging will begin! And if you've read this far, then maybe my thoughts will one day be read afterall...