It’s Okay to Laugh

Bad days. We all have them, don’t we? I wish we could mark them on our calendar. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to see that next Thursday at 10:30 a.m., a bad day would occur? I think I’d like that. A lot. (Well, as much as you can like bad days.) Because I like to be prepared. Of course, life doesn’t happen that way. Take the other bad day for instance: My hubby called to say he would be home late. This should have been a clue. In the next hour, my baby’s high chair would overturn (with her in it) due to an overzealous big brother playing peekaboo. My entire pot of Texas chili, also known as dinner, would be dumped onto the floor and my toddler. A special bowl my Grandmother passed down to me would break, my daughter would fall off her bed backwards, scraping her back against the wall, the animal toothbrush holder I bought to coordinate would shatter and I would ground two out of three of my children. Whew! When my husband arrived, I high-fived him and went to my place of renewal: Target. As I shopped and touched everything in the store, alone, without my children, I couldn’t help but think of the scripture that God has brought to mind over and over the past few months to remind me to lighten up, especially on bad days. Sarah is referring to her unexpected, but desired pregnancy in Genesis 21:6, “”Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” I love this story. I...

The Nag

I’m a bath-taker. I find it completely relaxing and therapeutic after a long day of being THAT mom to soak in my tub. I have a little ritual. I fill the tub completely full of hot water. I microwave-pop my low fat unbuttered popcorn and add a hint of garlic pepper powder to it and put it in my floating bowl. I usually grab something I’m reading and sit there until I’m wrinkly or the water is tepid. Then I reheat. I do this every night. I don’t actually own a bowl marketed as a ‘floating bowl,’ I discovered this by default. But it really comes in handy.The other night as I relaxed, I had a thought. “Honey?,” I called. “Did you remember to call that man about that thing?” I yelled into the next room. He appeared at the door. “No. I forgot.” “What???? You said you would– . . .” I will spare you the intricate details of how I LAMBLASTED my husband, while in the tub,He walked away irritated. And I was mad. I couldn’t believe he forgot and then I went thru the ‘nevers’ (he never remembers) and then I made it to the ‘always’ (I always remember). I have a gift for remembering. I like to share the gift and teach others. I’m really generous that way. And that’s when I felt it. Conviction.I hate that feeling.Catching a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror, one word popped into my mind. “Nag.” I dismissed it immediately. I mean, how rude . . . of me. I reheated my water and flipped thru my magazine...

Is Your Easter Chocolate Covered?

In a world where a jolly obese man named Santa trumps Jesus every year, it is not a surprise that The Resurrection is in the shadow of a bunny delivering eggs. We live in a crazy mixed-up place. Easter is what it is. You can’t get around it, really. Oh, the world tries. The Savior dying on a wooden cross isn’t marketable and doesn’t make very much money. It’s ugly. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not easy like chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps. My daughter’s second grade class ignored Easter last year. That bothered me. She missed the egg hunt, I missed the reason for the egg hunt. Does ignoring it make it go away? Even in the Bible belt, there is a struggle to be politically correct. It was just a big reminder that teaching my children about The Resurrection is up to me. My husband and I can’t leave it up to Sunday School or television and certainly not the schools. It’s our job. Now, don’t misunderstand me. We fill up the Easter baskets to the brim with all things unhealthy and bunny-ish. I am personally devastated if I don’t eat at least one peanut-chocolate-egg-shaped morsel of deliciousness. We are human after all. But could my kids articulate the importance of Easter? Do they really know what it’s all about? Are we doing our job? So, I asked them. My daughter recited the story with amazing accuracy. I knew she would. I whispered a prayer, “God move it to her heart. Help her to understand Your sacrifice. Remind her that You are always with her because You are Alive.”...

The End of Winter

I love it because it signifies the end of winter.The little flower bed in my front yard is usually full of flowers. I live in South Texas and the weather lends itself to annual blooms. Usually. Our winter was colder this year and my little flower bed has been barren for several months. This small patch of earth, my piece of land, that normally blossoms with color has been dull and drab and dead for so long. I long for color, for life.To my surprise, when I opened my front door a couple of weeks ago, this is what greeted me: Tiny green heads poking their way through the tough soil. I was delighted because I knew the end of winter was near. But I was amazed because it had been a couple of years since I’d planted the bulbs that were now emerging from the ground. I hadn’t expected to see them again. I felt a burst of color in my spirit when I pulled the tiny weeds away from the baby bulbs and cleaned away the drab of winter. I planted the seeds, tended the ground, watered the soiled. I worked.And then I waited, much longer than I planned.But I didn’t make the plants grow. I had no idea if they would grow or bloom or come to fruition. I planted the seeds, but God brought the harvest. And it’s the same way in our spiritual lives. We believe God, the seed (His Word) is planted in our hearts. We ask. We wait. We trust. We water. We tend. We weed. But GOD, just when we least...

Watching Faith Grow

We got a phone call the other day. The dreaded kind. The family member asked us to pray for our nephew who was facing a frightening diagnosis after some very disturbing tests. I hesitated telling my kids about their cousin. I knew they would have questions I couldn’t answer. But I also wanted to give them the opportunity to pray. Because my fourteen year old nephew needed it. We joined together as a family the night before the important doctor’s visit and we prayed. My hubby led us, with my son tucked under his arm and my daughter leaning on my shoulder. I stopped to listen because I heard the most beautiful sound: The fervent prayers of my children, asking God to heal their cousin and friend. Their prayers were simple. Thorough. Heart-felt and faith-filled. It moved me deeply. I kept thinking about Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.“ Two days passed. Then we got the call. The neurologist altered the diagnosis, prescribed some helpful medicine and came up with a treatment plan. I thought maybe it was a simple misdiagnosis or a mistake. But I couldn’t wait to tell me kids! I knew this would strengthen their young faith in God. They jumped up and down and immediately said, “God did this! He healed him just like we prayed.” They never doubted God for a minute. I thought I was teaching...

Giving Christmas

Our home is surrounded by giant Texas pine trees. They are beautiful. And they are messy. Millions of pine needles blanket the ground this time of year. It’s really pointless to sweep them away because a gust of wind will only bring more. But every couple of weeks (when I can’t see the ground or driveway), I start to feel claustrophobic (!) and my hubby tackles the big job. I sent my two older kids out to help him rake and bag the pine needles. It was a time consuming job and just as they were packing up the yard tools, my six year old son said, “Hey, Dad, can you leave the big rake out? I want to do Mr. Rocky’s yard,” he said and pointed to our next door neighbor’s yard scattered with countless needles. “Are you sure? It’s a big job and Mom has a snack inside. You don’t have to do it,” my hubby said. “I want to give to them,” and that was enough. My hubby joined him and they spent another hour outside. God is teaching our family about giving. I think it’s a lesson we needed to learn. Every time I turn around there are more needs, greater sacrifices in front of me. God is stretching my giving heart and wallet more than I ever expected. But we have a choice. My daughter didn’t help with the neighbor’s lawn. As she watched her brother and dad through the window, she was bothered by her choice. “Mom, do you think it’s bad that I don’t want to help?” I hugged her and encouraged...

I Could Almost Hear the Heavenly Choir

This summer our family took an amazing vacation to Family Camp, at Pine Cove. And it’s all I can talk about. I’m obsessive that way. There were so many incredible activities, motivational sessions, and just good old fashioned fun that we have already booked our week for next summer! But I must tell you about my favorite part out of the seven day, 168-hour trip: the first 5 minutes. After a not-so-pleasant four hour drive with a toddler who wailed, you could say we were anxious to arrive at Family Camp. With deep relief, we sighed when we saw the sign. As we turned onto the gravel road and traveled down the winding path, we heard something. My hubby turned the radio off and rolled down our windows. It sounded like voices. Excited voices. We slowed our car down because there seemed to be an obstruction in the road: and The counselors were out in the blazing hot sun, cheering us into camp. They were jumping and yelling and chanting and screaming. And it was the single best welcome we’ve ever received in our whole lives. And then they handed me a red rose, my hubby an ice-cold root beer and asked us to get out of the car and go on a tour of the grounds, while they parked it at our cabin and unloaded it. Oh, yes, I could practically hear the Hallelujah chorus. It was a reception like no other. We felt special. Honored. Welcome. Wanted. Once we were in our cabin, my kids watched from the window as they hooped and hollered and yelled and...

Worry Wart

I have a wart. It’s a nasty thing I can’t get rid of. I’ve tried everything, but it hangs on. And before I completely gross you out with a photograph, I’m talking figuratively. Because even I am not comfortable enough to share my growths with you. Not that I have many, I mean, any. I am a worry wart. Always have been. I worry about my kids and their health. Not that they aren’t healthy. They are. But what if . . . And that’s what gets me. Did you know I saw a small bruise on my toddler’s spine the other day and said to my hubby, “Let’s watch that. If she gets more bruising on her spine, it’s a sign of Leukemia.” My hubby was speechless. I know that because I’ve googled it. Why? I like to hit my fears head-on. I’ve taken my son to the doctor three times for a small fatty lump on his neck he was born with. She has assured me that the cyst is nothing to worry about. Yeah, tell that to my keen sense of doom. I worry about money, my hubby’s job security, my health and his. I worry about too friendly neighbors and pedophiles moving into my town. Do you know if worrying accomplished anything, I’d be very productive. But it doesn’t. As a matter of fact, it is counter-productive. Plus it makes you feel crummy. And with the tumor that might be growing in my brain, I don’t want to feel crummy. I’m sure my deep struggle for control fuels my worry gland. And I know as...

Serving May NOT be our Spiritual Gift

My kids attended Vacation Bible School at our church two weeks ago. The theme was Power Lab with scientific experiments. The stage was decorated with beakers. They made slime in the craft room and had bottled Coke erupting like a volcano in Recreation. And there were water games. Soaking. Wet. Water. Games. Of course, this was the highlight of the week. Because kids and water? My kids came home wet and happy the first day. They made gooey glittery test tubes and slid down the enormous water slide. The next day, my son entered the car wet and tired. My daughter? Dry as a bone. With an explanation. “Mom, they choose one group each day to skip the water area and go into the serving room. The group spends the whole time making the snacks for the rest of the kids,” she said. I thought this was a fabulous idea and told her so. “You know what was weird, Mom? They acted like having us serve was as big a treat as playing in the water!” she said. I hid my smile. “Well, honey, they are trying to teach you that serving is the greatest gift.” “Well. I think the slide would have been better.” My son patted her on the arm, leaving wet marks. Emphasis on him being wet. On the third day, my son entered the car, dry, wearing his sister’s expression from the day before. My daughter did the patting that day. I shared this scripture with them in Ephesians 6: 7-8, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know...

A Prickly Place

The community we live in has hundreds of walking paths. We take family walks and bike rides every week. This is our favorite time of year to enjoy the pathways. Because there are blackberries. Everywhere. We are berry pickers. There’s just something about picking fruit from a tree and eating it right there. “They taste yummier if they haven’t been washed off and if our hands are dirty,” according to my kids. Plus, the berries are free and I’m all about free. And you can usually hear me say about 173 times, “Watch out for snakes. Please, watch out for snakes!” Because snakes like berries, almost as much as we do. To get to the biggest and sweetest blackberries, you must fight your way through some nasty thorns. The best berries are usually deep within the bush. You can’t wear gloves and grab the berries, so we end up with little thorns in our hands and legs. And, those thorns hurt! Many times, before we can even enjoy the fruit, we have to remove the thorns. But some sweet things are worth a few pesky thorns. As a Christian, there are days I wish my life was free of worries, stress, trials and THORNS. Sometimes, I even feel entitled to this. When I find myself in a prickly place, I don’t usually anticipate it. Or enjoy it. You know, because of all the thorns. I want the sweet without the sour. But according to James 1: 1-4, we are to; “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing...