Clean Your Room

It was a reasonable request – at least from where I stood. My desire fueled my mouth to form it. I didn’t understand the outburst. I was fairly certain there were others from Georgia to Thailand uttering the same simple appeal at the same exact time.

Convenient Worship

He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 1 Kings 12:28 NIV The clock read 6:45 a.m. I hit the snooze button and rolled over. The room was dark, and I was cozy under my covers. It was too cold to get up and out of bed. Nine minutes later, I did it again, telling myself I’d get up in a minute. But thinking of getting three kids ready for church already had me exhausted and my pinky toe hadn’t even hit the floor. I closed my eyes thinking of reasons we should stay home. 1. I’m tired. I’ve been busy all week, and I can worship God from home… I never got to number two. I fell back asleep. But instead of waking up again in nine minutes, I was awakened from the light in my room and rolled over to look at the clock. 7:45 a.m. 7:45!!! I hit the floor running and jumped in the shower. Knowing Alan and I couldn’t both shower and get the kids ready and out the door in fifteen minutes, I convinced myself it would be fine for us to just make it to the worship service. We would just have to miss Sunday school this week. No big deal. At least that’s what I thought until I was having my quiet time the next morning. In 1 Kings, I read about Rehoboam and Jeroboam. King Rehoboam was ruler over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. His father was Solomon....

Don’t Forget Mighty God

“Would you like to pray?” I asked my daughter. She nodded. My four-year-old told me she had a bad dream of fire in our house and was afraid to go to sleep because she didn’t want to dream it again. “Would you like to do it?” I asked. “I don’t know how.” She looked up at me through thick brown lashes. “Praying is easy. It’s just like talking to a friend. But if you want, I’ll teach you a way I like to pray,” I explained. I walked Grace through the A.C.T.S. prayer – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Then I applied it to her in a way she could understand, and I prayed. “God, you are a Mighty God. Thank you for being so awesome. Lord, sometimes Grace makes bad choices to disobey Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes she pitches fits. Please forgive her when she does. Thank you for the great day she had in preschool. Tonight as she closes her eyes, would you let her dream of good things like giraffes and Disney World and merry-go-rounds and playing on the playground? Thank you, God. Amen.” The prayer worked in two ways. Grace felt peace about going to sleep, and God gave her good dreams that night. A few days later, we passed an ambulance on the road, and Grace asked me to pray again for the people who needed it. This has become a tradition when we see them. When I finished the quick car prayer, Grace said, “You forgot Mighty God!” I looked in the rearview mirror at her. “What?” “Mama, you forgot to say Mighty God....

When You Can’t See God

Pushing my buggy through the bolts of cloth, my eyes hung on the beautiful colors and my creative juices flowed. I listened for the little girl behind me as she “oohhed” and “ahhhed” over the fabric. Every so often, I’d have to chime in with, “Keep walking, Grace. Stay with Mama.” Her constant chatter was an instant locator. I walked on to look at the spools of ribbon, but suddenly Grace wasn’t behind me. “Grace? Where are you? You need to stay with me.” I called to her. Giggles floated from behind me, but I couldn’t see the little mouth attached to them. “I’m lost, Mama. I can’t see you. Where are you?” Grace called. I walked backwards four steps to find her hiding behind the bolts. Her eyes were squeezed tight, and her grin was a mile. “Grace.” I leaned close to get her attention. She peaked at me through thick lashes but turned her body the other way. “Where are you Mama? I can’t see you!” Thinking of my tight schedule, I wasn’t amused at my four-year-old’s antics and told her so. “Come on, silly girl. We have to go.” Proud of her trick, she continued the guise as we walked to the check out. “I didn’t know where you were, Mama. I couldn’t find you anywhere.” Knowing I was right beside her all the time, I wondered if God was speaking through my daughter. There are situations that cause me to hide and close my eyes to my circumstances. I call to God asking where He is, because I can’t see Him. All the while, He’s...

Insufficient

I bounced a check. There. It’s out. I wish I could tell you my insufficient funds were for a twenty thousand dollar super speedy motorboat with a deluxe bathroom on board. Instead I bounced a check for nineteen-dollar school pictures. The pictures came home with a copy of my bouncy check on the top. In big black letters it read, “NSF – INSUFFICIENT FUNDS.” Ouch. There was no privacy envelope. My business was clipped on top of my son’s smiling face for all the world to see. Before you go sending me canned goods, let me tell you we are doing fine. From time to time, funds get low at the end of the month. Unfortunately, we don’t always carry a surplus in the account. It’s a little thing we like to call “making ends meet.” The bank’s policy is to debit before they credit. So, when the nineteen-dollar check from the photography studio came into my banking institution, they tried to pull the money before they credited my husband’s paycheck mere minutes later. And since the wind was blowing the wrong way that day, they decided not to cover our nineteen-dollar check – to my great embarrassment. I called the picture place to make amends, explaining the awkward situation. They understood completely and asked me to mail thirty-four dollars (an extra fifteen to cover their bank fees) in the form of a money order, because they can’t accept checks from people like me. Then I called the school to tell them I settled the situation with the studio. They quickly interrupted telling me there was no need to...

Learning to Smile from the Inside Out

It was our third snow day, and I was passing out chores like candy. Around the house were trails of discarded mittens and scarves, random shoes and a smattering of toys. To top it off, it looked like someone took a saltshaker of tiny, dried, brown bits of grass and shook it wildly over every speck of the floor. All I wanted was a little help sprucing up. Was that too much to ask? “Colin, I’d like you to clean your toilet and shower,” I told my twelve-year-old. To my nine-year-old daughter I gave the job of scrubbing the sinks and wiping down the mirrors. “And I’ll run the vacuum,” I told them. My son collapsed on the stairs, his body melting into the floor like something you’d see on a cartoon. “But, mooooooommmmmm…” he whined. His sister just crossed her arms and arched her angry eyebrows. “I’m sorry. I need you to do what I’ve asked. You’ve had plenty of time to play. Now I need you to take an active role in the family responsibilities and do some work.” No movement. Just another grunt from the puddle of boy on the stairs. After some prodding and poking, I got Colin and Faith moving, albeit slowly, toward the bathroom to clean. As I pulled the vacuum cleaner out of the closet and closed the door, a tiny face appeared. With a giant smile. “What’s my job, Mama? Do I have to dust?” Grace asked in a wishful tone. Stunned, I paused before nodding my head and grabbing the dusting cloth. Fifteen minutes later, my four-year-old reappeared asking what...

When Life is Hard to Swallow

I’m really not a dog lover. I don’t tell cute dog stories over coffee with friends. It’s not often my dog has a picture on Facebook. But, there are times when I look at the floppy ears on her hair-dropping self and think, “You’re pretty cute. When you don’t stink and aren’t shaking tufts of fur all over the house and aren’t licking your…” Well, let’s just leave it at that. My sometimes-cute dog is named Comet. She’s a yellow lab, and her food bowl sits right behind where I usually sit at the kitchen table on my laptop to write. It’s from that spot where I am privileged enough to hear her munch and crunch her dog food. But lately, she’s been doing the strangest thing. Comet uses her nose to push the food bowl all around the floor. Then she turns her head this way and that and even noses the dry pieces inside the bowl before she takes a bite. When she gets the bowl away from the wall, she gets on the other side and eyeballs the food again. Sometimes after pushing the bowl around a bit, she’ll even walk away only to come back later. I wondered if she didn’t like the food, because if you like something, don’t you just dive right in? Why would she push her kibbles all over the kitchen floor? Does that change the way it tastes? I was watching her do it one evening while I made dinner, when I realized she wasn’t magically transforming her dry food to canned dog food yumminess. All she was doing was...

Why I’m Choosing to Pierce My Tongue

My mom and dad wouldn’t let me have my ears double pierced. It was hard enough to convince them to let me get the first holes. I was twelve before that happened. So, I can feel your eyebrows raising – really? A tongue piercing? It’s really an almost tongue piercing of sorts. Let me explain. (Mom and Dad, you can breathe now.) It started with a problem. I struggle with standing up for myself in a Christ-like manner. When my kids are treated unfairly at school, when someone pulls out in front of me and makes me slam on the brakes and dump cupcakes in the floorboard, when people are rude for no apparent reason, it’s hard to make my feelings known and all the while splash Jesus in every direction. When these things happen, I want to scream at them. I want to squish their heads and spit in their Diet Coke. I’m sorry if I’ve ruined your impression of me, but I’m just being honest. This is where I’ve learned the not so graceful art of tongue piercing. Instead of letting your great aunt Meddlesome know exactly what you think of her parenting advice, take a deep breath and bite. Okay, so it’s more like tongue biting unless you are annoyed enough. But I’ve found in more situations than not, the tongue will get you in trouble. Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23 ESV Carol’s translation: Bite your tongue. Here’s another verse to remember. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his...

I’ll Be Stressed for Christmas

I have to be honest – sometimes Christmas stresses me out. Between baking cookies, wrapping gifts, attending parties for school complete with themed snack, attending a party for Sunday school complete with a covered dish, finding the perfect gifts for every family member and dropping off treats for the neighbors, sometimes a girl can feel overwhelmed. Are you with me? Eight years ago, I had a spiritual awakening – a revival of sorts. On a quest to seek God, I found Him waiting for me with a calling on my life. As Christmas neared that year, my excitement grew. I just knew the celebration of my Savior’s birth would be so much sweeter and the Christmas carols would be even more beautiful. I sat back and waited for the good feelings to pour over me – but you know what happened? I was overwhelmed – the same as all the years before. A few years later, I was reading the Christmas story in Luke when I realized where I had gone wrong. I was looking for the gift of Christmas, but I was supposed to be the GIVER: not the getter. You see, Christmas is not about what good feeling I can have when there is a roaring fire, hot cocoa and a decorated tree. It’s about what gift I can offer my King. One look at the original story reveals the truth. The shepherds didn’t wait for Joseph to come find them in the fields and pass out cigars. When they heard of Jesus’ birth, they looked for Him and brought what they had – their praise and...

Why Are We Christians?

Her question brought me to a halt. Just the two of us were shoe shopping at the mall – no older brother or younger sister to vie for attention. “Mom, why are we Christians?” The look on my face must have spoken first, because she quickly answered the question buzzing in my head – huh? “I mean, everybody was born from Noah and his family loved God, right? Well, why are there some families that aren’t Christians, but our family still loves Jesus after thousands of years?” My nine-year-old had me thinking. “That’s pretty amazing. But how did it happen?” She added. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4 ESV I explained to my daughter how we create a godly legacy, how her grandparents love the Lord and her great-grandparents and her great-great grandparents. I recalled the story my grandfather told me. He was from a large family – eleven children if I remember correctly. He shared how his mother read her Bible every day. She asked God to give her one preacher out of all those children, and my grandfather was the one. When we place an importance on God in our own lives, we are teaching our children to love Him, too. Yesterday, my youngest, Grace, and I were out running errands. She is four. As we got out of the car, there was a great commotion as a fire truck and ambulance passed. Grace was very curious about where they were going, and I surmised some possibilities. As the sirens became a sound in the distance, I...