Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Baby's Cry

Bryan and I carved out an evening away last week.  It had been 28 years since he asked me to be his wife.  Traditions are good.   Time away is even better.  I love my family, but stepping away allows me to catch my breath in order to keep running.  Choosing time with my sweetie shores up the foundation and structure for a good marriage.
Often we head into the city, but this time we stayed rather local.  We had a houseful coming for dinner the next day, so my anxiety level was rising.
I looked forward to a quiet night in the hotel without little people noises and an early morning wake up.  We soon found out that was not going to happen.
In the room next to ours, a young family was also staying for the night.  One of their littles was very little and not very happy for quite a while.  I sighed.  I was frustrated, even a bit annoyed. Then I remembered it was only two days before Christmas.
Why was this family in a hotel?
Why was this little one in tears?
How long had the mother been up?
How much sleep had the family had recently?
It was Christmas.
It was a baby.

That first Christmas could not have been quiet either:  crowds of travelers, animals of burden, peddlers of goods, and a mother with child.
Jesus was born where others would hear.  He may have been in a stable or a guest room – it does not matter.  He came to fulfill a plan, a prophecy.  He came not as an adult to fix our sin problem immediately.  He came as a noisy, crying baby.  His plan had taken years.  In fact for the last few hundred years, no word from God was even spoken.  It was quiet.  Now as angels spoke to shepherds in the neighboring field, the baby cried.  Jesus was hungry.  He needed to be held.  He was tired.  He did everything that our little ones do – like that little one in the room next to mine in the hotel.
I wondered that night how Bethlehem responded at the cries of this newborn.  I wonder how many caught the significance of his birth.  I wonder how many listened to the shepherds report of a Savior born sleeping in a manger.
I fell asleep that night listening to a baby’s cry thankful for the baby’s cry so many years ago that first Christmas night.

Friday, November 11, 2016

A Momma's Thoughts After a National Election



What a week this has been. 
The daily conflict in my home is minuscule compared to the national conflict viewed after Tuesday’s US elections.
My choice for President did not indicate my acceptance of arrogance, meanness, and chauvinism.  It did, however, indicate a conservative choice for smaller government and individual freedom.  I did not choose my pastor on Tuesday.  I chose a political world leader.  There was not a perfect option.  In fact, it was a distasteful option at best. 
Had the opposite side won, I would feel as I have for the last eight years: a bit unsettled, but not defeated.  I cringe at the response of many who have protested, hurt others both physically and verbally, and disrespected the multitude of those who opposed their decision.  Yes, America allows the privilege to express our views freely.  We have the opportunity that other countries do not have to watch a transition of power that goes rather smoothly.  Yet, it seems absurd to watch so many feel as if they have lost all hope.  I have to ask, “In whom have they put their hope?”
The role of President is one to be respected.  He or she may wield much power, but the power is limited.  The real change for America will not come from Washington, but it will come from a changed heart.  As hearts change, lives change and countries change.
I may not hold a political office, but my power as a praying mom of many weighs much more heavily in the grand scheme of life.  I am so thankful that the God whom I trust knows all and is in charge of all.  My job is to teach my kids to respect whom God has placed in power, whoever that may be.  I need to teach my children to follow the rules and use the Bible as their ultimate authority.  I need to teach them the privileges of being a citizen and how to use those privileges properly.  I need to show my kids how to live a God-honoring life now understanding their future is in heaven. 
The next President has a huge job.  I pray that as he assemble his Cabinet that he chooses to surround himself with those who are wise.  It is not a Republican or Democratic choice.  It is a wise choice. 
The conflict will subside.  People will get back to work.  Social media will settle down.  Decisions both good and bad will be made.   Life goes on.  Will I regret my decision?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  In the meantime,   I can pray because I have direct contact with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Little Grace in the Big Things


Not only the amount of laundry grew, but so did our hearts.  Years have passed since that August day when God interrupted our family for good.  We look back often and wonder how in this huge universe we ever survived those days of endless tantrums, sleepless nights, and innumerable intrusions.  But, we did, by a massive helping of grace. 

I saw grace tonight at the dinner table.  The meal had been cleared, and I took my kids closer to share a prayer request for another little boy who was feeling scared, angry, and sad all mixed into one.  His parents were not able to take care of him, and neither could his grandma.  This child of only six, though hundreds of miles away, owned a story not too unlike my kids’ story.  He rages. His school days are rough.  He hates where he is. 

We sat together and prayed for this little boy tonight. 

That, my friend, is grace. 

My kids know that God is real even in the horrible times.  They know that hurt happens, but God can heal hurts.  They know that prayer works.  God listens.

I will never completely understand why God allows these little ones to see life so deeply injured.  Yet, tonight I caught a glimpse of an eternal purpose. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Psalm 91:4 Are you a chicken?

I am chicken.  Or a chick. Either one means I am not too brave. Things scare me.  Life seems a bit large and looming at times.  Sometimes hawkish, if that's a word.
Psalm 91:4 encouraged me.  He (meaning God) will cover you (me) with His pinions, and under His wings you (I) may seek refuge.
If you have ever been in a barn yard with chickens you can imagine the scene.  There often is lot of noise and scrambling.  Kind of like life.  I love that God uses pictures that I can understand.
Notice His words in Psalm say you MAY SEEK refuge.  God’s shelter from those intent  to harm me is guaranteed WHEN I run to it.
How often I am the chicken running wildly in circles making noise all the while missing the promise of protection.
Run, Sandy, run to hide under God’s wings of protection.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Is quiet time ever possible?

Bible study is good.  Quiet time with God is better.  So, how does a mom of many kids even find time to do either?  I am not sure.  My kids are up early and never stop all day.  By the time I get any moments of relative peace, I am ready to collapse.
I remember days of working diligently through Beth Moore studies (which I enjoyed) and journaling faithfully. I remember quiet mornings listening to the day wake gently.
Then life happened in a big way.
My Bible study now is a reminder tone on my phone twice a day.  I read verses at a time.  Sometimes I spend more time in the chapter, but many times a verse is all I have to hold on to.
I sat on the couch this morning reading Romans 5 as my three littles played Slap Jack of all things.  Then they decided to make a banana peanut butter snack which of course needed my assistance.  No one can play quietly, of course. No one can be happy with anything.  Eyes are rolling and not just mine.
How is a mom of many to do it?
I loose it daily.  I mess up all the time.  I yell.
God says that I am justified.  That means declared righteous.  Oh my!  I don’t feel too righteous.
God says that I have access to his grace.  That means I can tap into his undeserved favor.  I certainly fit into that underserved category.
I don’t know how I am going to get through this day except for  hanging on to those few verses that I read.
Sometimes this mom of many needs to grasp painfully to the truth of who God is and what he has done for me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Beauty

She came in to show me how beautiful her paper dolls were.  She likes beautiful things:  flowers, rainbows, flowing dresses.  The doll was two inches high, drawn on white paper, decorated with colored pencils.  Beauty shone in the eyes of the beholder. I sat next to Anna as she held her treasure.
To most, Anna is a cutie.  Her blue eyes shine, and her hair curls just right.  Still much of today, Anna was not beautiful.  Though Jesus lives in her, Anna, as many six year old girls do,  let her vision become skewed.  She yelled a lot, drew much negative attention, and bossed others around mercilessly.  Beauty was only skin deep.
We talked for awhile about what makes someone beautiful.  She could give the obvious answers:  pretty hair and nice clothes.   But what if a girl had messed up hair and her clothes were torn and dirty?  Was she beautiful?  Anna knew what she was supposed to say, but I could see in her face that she struggled with the answer.
Anna is not the only one who struggles.  I spend time doing hair and makeup.  My clothes are clean.  I give away what does not fit me right and throw away what is ruined.  That does not make me beautiful.  (Mind you, at my age, makeup helps.). Still, my words spoken in anger, my face frozen in a scowl, my sarcasm given in retaliation mar deeply any hint of beauty.
Think of it this way.
My littles walk into the house after playing and see a beautifully decorated cake (you will have to use a great deal of imagination if you know me at all).  The icing was perfect.  Rosettes adorned the edges.  Gold dust glistened making it look like a jewel.  The colors were intense, vibrant.  The cake would catch anyone's attention.  It was beautiful:  a Cake Wars contender.
Then they got closer.  It didn't smell quite right.
Then they took a bite.  Inside was sour and moldy.  They could see egg shells and worms.  It had not even been mixed all the way.
Beauty was only on the surface.  Once they took a closer look, they were appalled and walked away from what was supposed to be a sweet treat.  (Please know I have not presented this to my kids in reality.  Work with me here.)
The story made the point for my little ones.  Outward beauty quickly dissipates when the inside is exposed.  All the extras we add are just that:  extras.  Unless we let God do his job of creating a new thing on the inside, what others see on the outside means nothing.  
Beauty is a good thing.  God thinks we are beautiful.  He makes all things beautiful in His time.  We falsely think that we can force that beauty on something filthy.  I am so thankful that God has changed my horribly sinful heart and has given me a new life along with a promise to never stop working on me.
Please, Lord, may my girls never settle for a showy, sweet icing that covers an ugly heart.  May they let your beauty shine all over them that their face glows simply because of you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Gratitude

Mid –July sneaked up quickly. My calendar remains full of both busy days and lazy days, but before long September will be here.  Somehow, all the planning and prepping for school manages to be finished in time.  Hopefully, I don’t hyperventilate or lose my mind in the process.  So before I have a panic attack, I thought I would take the time to remember what God has chosen to bless me with recently. Here goes.

I am thankful for - - -

Unprompted “thank you’s” from grateful learning kids
A clear MRI scan for Aly
Helpful nurses and doctors who help me navigate my concerns
Bandaids for the MANY boo-boos my littles manage to acquire
Iced coffee to satisfy my addiction
Warm Jersey Shore ocean water that can keep my kids busy for hours
2100 miles ridden in 8 days safely with 6 kids
2100 miles ridden in 8 days sanely with 6 kids
Bryan’s flexible work hours which enable him to take a vacation
Open conversations with my children about marriage, jobs, and racism
Steak dinner out with my dad and no kids
Swim time with Miss Marti and my mom
Black and white tv shows on Netflix which help us to avoid commercials and other junk
A coming week with Laura home before she goes back to college
Opportunities to disciple my children when life can go a bit haywire
Answers to prayer shared with many friends
Godly men and women who are intentional with my children
Dancing close to Bryan while country music plays and our littles grab on to our legs
Supportive and helpful parents who don't hesitate to assist at the last minute
The motivation and strength to take on another day

I have a lot to do.  My kids make it hard to accomplish much.  Thank you, Lord, that you are there in my crazy life.  Help me to be grateful for each day, for each opportunity.  Help me to know what is important and what is not. Please guide me to the right answers.  Thank you for summer.