Friday, July 30, 2010

The purse

This post is publishing while I am out of town. (I love technology!) It is one of the talks I am presenting at She Speaks over the weekend. I needed to write a three-minute testimony talk. This is what I came up with...

Once upon a time, a beautiful girl who lived on a budget and usually spent money on her children first, went shopping for a new purse, because the dingy, ravelin-infested excuse for handbag that hung from her shoulder simply would not suffice any more. Four years was long enough. "Practical, sensible, and durable" were her requirements, although the desires of her heart were "cute, pretty, and fun". Wondering if those qualities could possibly meet and mingle within her price range, she found the purse department at the local JC Penney department store and was elated to see the beloved Red Dot Clearance tags in full display. With dogged determination, the beautiful girl began to scour the racks for her perfect purse. And find it she did. It was the most wonderful blend of pretty and practical!

Her excitement was soon railroaded by reality, however, as she realized that her pretty and practical purse was not boasting red a dot, and was nearly full price. So, being the good girl that she is, she found another one. Boring and practical, yet adorned with a red dot, it seemed to be the purse of her fate, much to her disappointment.

Feeling discouraged but not dissuaded, the girl clutched the two contrasting purses and decided to pray. Right there, in the middle of JC Penney’s, she asked the Lord which purse should be hers. Within moments, two of her shopping mates passed by and instantly began to praise the pretty purse hanging from the girl’s shoulder, while turning up their noses and the boring bad dangling from her other hand. “It’s so you!” they squealed. Feeling bolstered and yet keenly aware of the guilt rising in her spirit for challenging the budget, the girl took a deep breath, decided on the pretty purse, and headed to the checkout counter.

“Can I interest you in a JC Penney credit card?” No, thank you.
“You can take 10% off that way…” Ooh , the temptation was almost too much to bear. No, thank you, we gave up using credit.
“Well, you could just get the discount now and pay it all off in a month…” No, sir, I have to stick to our rules. No credit.
“OK, well do you at least have a coupon?” {sigh} No, I am just shopping the sales.
“I see.” The cashier finally knew he was fighting a losing battle with the girl. However, with lightning-fast reflexes, a card was waved in front of the scanner and the register spewed out a total.
“There. I just gave you $15 off. Have a nice day.”

With her mouth gaping in disbelief, the girl walked away clutching her brand new, heart’s desire, pretty and practical purse. The best of both worlds had become her reality, for the price of a red dot bag. Praise the Lord.

Dear friends, you may have guessed, that girl is me and I absolutely love my new purse. I am typing here today to declare to you that our God loves us enough to give us the desires of our hearts. Nothing is going unnoticed by Him, and when we truly commit our ways, our choices, and our decisions to Him, He will honor that. Big time. Not that He has always given me exactly what I want, praise Him, He has not, but the truth remains that we worship the God of the details. We worship a God so big, so loving, so capable, and so true, that even purses and budgets are under His control.

How much more can I trust Him with in my life, if He responded so greatly over just a purse?

Psalm 103: 1-5…Praise the Lord, O my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

And I thought it was just my purse making me feel younger!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One for the ladies

It's nearly here!! The conference I have been daydreaming about and wondering if I should to to for over a year, is finally nearly here. I leave in two days. Crazy. And the last two weeks have been all about, you guessed it, getting ready. Writing talks, shopping for clothes, deciding on which luggage to use, praying (yea, I know that should have been listed first), making lists, planning for the childcare and provisions in my absence, etc and yadda yadda, has been my overriding focus for days and days. But by far the aspect of preparation that has taken the most of my thought life lately is the aspect of appearance. We, as conference attendees, have been lovingly guided in the area of appearance, dress, shoes, and the like. I doubt that I am alone in "wigging out" over it just a little bit. As part of my experience at She Speaks, I was instructed to compose a five-minute "teaching talk". This is a modified version of that talk. If you are going to be in my evaluation group at the conference, stop reading now. You'll be hearing this live and in person on Saturday night! Everyone else, read on...

For example, getting back to my appearance, I’ve got a box of hair color that is going unused before this conference. Don’t get me wrong, I love to color my hair, but I decided that perhaps the completely natural hair color was a better compliment to my summer tan. I will, however, before packing my bag and getting on the plane, make certain that my eyebrows are under control, that I have picked just the right bra, that the razor has a sharp blade, that my makeup is new enough to wear well in fluorescent light, and that I have not forgotten my straightening iron and hairspray. Just to name a few beauty rituals to which I adhere. I’m no beauty queen, but I do like to look as good as I can.

And yet, somehow, when I look in the mirror, I often do not like the reflection looking back at me. I see the imprints of time on my face, I see stray eyebrow hairs that simply have no place, I see crooked teeth, and I see acne. And don’t even get me started on the post- 6 babies and 4 c-sections body issues I have going on below my neckline. That’s a whole ‘nother story all together. The point is, when I look in the mirror, I see everything I believe is wrong with my appearance, and I wonder if God was in His right mind when he created Shelly Story.

And I don’t think I am alone. I don’t believe that I am the only woman who still remembers getting passed over for the cute cheerleader at the junior high dance. I don’t think I am the only woman who secretly compares herself to the cover models of every magazine in the checkout lane, then walks away feeling like she looks like a dog, and immediately dives into the ice cream. I don’t believe I am the only woman influenced by her perception of earthly beauty, who wants to look as good as she believes everyone else does, but who never will.

It’s all wrong, but we still do it. We are modern, 21st century American women, living in a society that puts a stamp of worth on our physical appearance, and we compare, cream, wax, tweeze, suck it in, pull on our faces in the mirror, and doubt our beauty. And in doubting our beauty, we doubt our worth.

We’ve all heard the quote “God don’t make no junk!” but I like to say it a little differently to my children. I nearly daily remind them that God made you the way He wants you. And I am saying it to you right now. He made you the way He wants you. There are no accidents in God’s creation. There are no imperfections in His design. Oh, sure, He may have given us all our fair share of human imperfections, but I believe that is only because without them, we would not need Him. We cannot follow and reflect God’s son if we are not humble enough to need Him. Our imperfections are perfect gifts, and are part of a perfect design.

Psalm 139 verses 13-16 are verses we have all heard before, but I’d ask you to read with fresh eyes the message of self-worth contained within…For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mothers’ womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

My dear sisters, God knows you. He watched your creation. He tended to your design. He chose your eye color, your height, your complexion, your bra size, and your waistline. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. And so am I. Jesus Himself tells us in Luke 12 verse 7 that, Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

No matter what we look like, no matter how we dress, no matter how we think we size up against the gal next to us, our worth is precious to God. We are His design, created in His image and under His watchful eye, and nothing can take that away from us. Trust Him with that truth today. Look into the mirror and examine afresh the handiwork of God. Recognize yourself as His creation, uniquely made, perfectly imperfect, and loved by Him. God made you the way He wants you. To Him be all the glory.

Dear Father, we know that we are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made, and we know that there are no imperfections in your design. Thank you for loving us so much to attend to our creation. Help us to see our worth in Your sight, not the sight of our times. May we rest in your truths today. Amen

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Going public and asking for prayers


Every time I say something like "going public" or "asking for prayers", or even both in the same sentence, inevitably someone comes back at me with a "you're not pregnant are you?!" No, I am not. Not since June 15, 2007 have I been pregnant, and God willing, never again will I be pregnant. I love what I have and I am trulytrulytruly blessed far beyond worth when it comes to the reproductive side of life, but I don't think I could handle any more blessing. (No, Lord, that is not an invitation to prove me wrong. I know I never ever dreamed that I could handle all that I do currently handle, but I don't need another lesson here. {smiling})

Anyway, now that we have that straight, I would like to share with you all what I will be doing one week from now, and ask you to pray for me. I will be attending She Speaks, a conference for women who are or who desire to be equipped for speaking, writing, or women's ministry! It is put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries in North Carolina. I am super pumped.

My desire to attend something like this began over seven years ago, although I did not actually know this conference even existed until 18 months ago. In November of 2002, I attended a weekend seminar on the Holy Spirit and had a physical experience with Him. Praise God I was willing to go to that seminar, that He met me where I was, and that while I was there at that seminar He graciously catapulted me light years ahead in my weak and self-effort-driven faith walk. Praise Him praise Him praise Him. I have not and never will be the same again!

Anyway, about 4 months after my physical encounter with the Holy Spirit, Dan and I attended Family Life's "Weekend to Remember" marriage seminar, and while I was there, I kid you not, I envisioned myself up on stage speaking. Yes, in front of hundreds--if not thousands--of people, I could picture myself speaking! Weird. (To really hear that the way I meant it, you would see "weird" typed "weeeeeeeeeeeird")

Little things like started happening from them on out. I'd be in church, and catch myself composing a sermon. (A lot of sermons.) I joined Bible studies and had things to say. (Good things, not just dead-air fillers; things that were good enough that wise people I respected would say to me, "you should write that down".) I started reading a particular blog with regularity, and found myself blogging in my head while I did dishes. (So I started a blog, but did not trust myself enough, and let it stay dormant for almost 2 years.)

Over and over and over again, for the past 7+ years, I have envisioned myself speaking or writing in some capacity, no matter the venue. Again, I say, weeeeeeeeeeeird.

What changed all of it for me from "weird" to "OK I'll try it" occurred in September 2008 at Great Plains Presbyterian Pilgrimage. Dan and I had attended as guests on the Pilgrimage weekend in March of that year, and this was my first time to serve as Team for the Pilgrimage weekend. And on this, my very first time on the Team, the leader asked me to give one of the talks. Unbeknownst to her, this was the moment I had been waiting for! I embraced the call, I prayed, I sweated and poured over composing a talk, I practiced, prayed, and practiced some more, and then the time came for me to give it.......and the Lord knocked it out of the park. I mean that to say that any ounce of nervousness I might have felt, any lack of confidence in myself, any fear that my talk sucked, any negative anything, was replaced by excitement, empowerment, fun, and the sense in my spirit that this had to be just the beginning. I had the time of my life standing in the podium and I was sad when it was over! God. is. good.

But wait--there's more! Also, on that same weekend, a dear friend, a man whom my husband and I both greatly respect, a man so full of wisdom one cannot help but admire him, came to me and said that the Lord had been speaking to him about me, and that I "would be in ministry to women". Me. The topic of conversation between the Lord and my friend. Me, the 6-kid Mom. Me. Useful to God for other women. Me.

Fast forward nearly two years, and that one talk became a spring-board for taking the Lay Speaking classes offered through my denomination, and I am now doing pulpit supply in our local area. I have preached in 5 different parishes, at the invitation of their pastors, a total of seven times, and will do so again this Sunday. (I should probably be writing that sermon!) In addition to the pulpit setting, I have spoken at an additional three Pilgrimage weekends, and have been the MC for a women's one day retreat hosted by Wausa Women's Ministry. Lastly, I have resurrected the blog and have found extreme pleasure in posting to it, despite some very late hours typing into the night.

Through all of this, 18 months ago, I heard of She Speaks. I began to drool. I began to pray. I left it to God, and the details (aka, money) did not magically appear, so last year I did not go. I was totally OK with that. Then last January, I again saw that She Speaks was gearing up for their 2010 conference. I began to drool. I began to pray. I left it to God, and the details (aka, money) magically appeared. Miraculously appeared. (Did I mention lately that God is good?? Well, He is. Don't you ever forget that.) Holding the money in my hand, I prayed some more, I asked Dan for his blessing and my oldest friend for her opinion. The rest is history.


I can honestly say that I have no idea where--if anywhere at all--I hope this will take me. I am not sure why I am feeling compelled to go. I am not sure why God gave us money just when I needed it to register for the conference and again just when I needed to get a plane ticket. I am not sure why my husband is so excited to see his wife (the mother of his six high-energy children) get on a plane and follow a dream. I am not sure what that dream is. All I can be sure of is that I have to go and see. I have to force myself to think outside the box a little bit (ok, a LOT) and see if God is trying to use me for something else besides just motherhood and local church duties. Those are so very wonderful, and if God merely wants to better equip me for those tasks, then I will praise Him for it. But, I have to go and see why my brain never rests, why I dream of traveling and speaking, and my childhood fantasy of writing has been resurrected.

My request, if you have read to the end of this very long post, is that you would say a prayer for me. The last thing I want to do is chase after wind against God's plan for me. Please pray that I feel Him strongly while I am there, and that He will give me a conviction in my spirit that this is either totally right or totally wrong. Thank you sooo much.

I leave Thursday the 29th and return Sunday the 1st. Posting may get a little scarce for the next week or two. I still have to finish my two talks for the conference and write that sermon. But it has been fun being here tonight!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Shelly Story 102: Motherhood Begins

Back in May I posted Shelly Story 101 with the promise that one day soon you would get the current events. Here is some of it. If you want to get the whole perspective, go back and read the first post again. Or not. Whatever you want is cool. I am not sure how on earth to tell all the stories of my married years, the years that have most made me who I am in the Lord, and do them justice, but since God is God, and He usually gets His way with me, I am trusting that whatever He wants told shall be told.

To give the recap, I was born in Ohio, moved to Denver at age four, lived through a divorce, was blessed with a new Mom and instant sibs, grew into a quirky adolescent who loved youth group more than anything in her life, moved to Omaha, survived the rest of high school without that youth group, went to college at U of N, made a lot of mistakes, made a best friend for life, met the love of my life, graduated, got married, and moved to a farm. Phew! 23 years, done.

After getting married, I choked on a huge, heaping helping of culture shock, but my loving hubby never left my side. (Our magnificent Lord never did either, but I was not really paying Him much attention yet at that time.) I've never regretted marrying Dan, but let's just say, adjusting to the rural life was not the easiest thing I have ever done. I missed fast food, the smell of asphalt, the sounds of traffic, familiar radio stations, familiar faces, nice restaurants...pretty much all that I had ever known had "urban" stamped upon it, and my new digs were so very much the total opposite. I was not used to cooking every single meal, the smell of dirt and cow poop, the sound of cattle and hogs and bugs, new radio stations, the curious (but kind, nevetheless) gazes of everyone wondering who the new girl in town was, small-town cafes...and having no one but a farmer with a pliers holster on his belt for companionship. It was all very strange for me at first.

I found a job at a daycare 25 miles away and put my Early Childhood Ed degree to some use, although, admittedly, not as much use as I could have with a Bachelor's degree. But, it was something to do, it afforded me adult companionship, and I made some money. Some. A tiny bit. And I got to hug babies all day. Next, although I had not regularly attended church since high school, and Dan even less, we found a nice church home in town and committed to attending every week, cause, you know, that is what married folks do. It was ultra-comforting to return to the familiar routine of Sunday worship, and I quickly found the desire to get involved. I joined the choir and started helping with VBS. I then branched into civic volunteerism as well, and joined Community Club (kinda like a Chamber) and enrolled in an EMT class to be a volunteer EMT on our volunteer Fire Department. Job, church, volunteerism. Within six months of graduating college and becoming a farmer's wife, I was all growed up!

Somewhere in there, I started to realize how very much I missed a personal relationship with Christ, and yearned to know Him better. Too bad I was still so comfortable with being comfortable. I needed some wake-up calls.

Fast forward a couple of years, and we had started on the emotional roller coaster of infertility, in the attempts to overpower my defective ovaries and have a baby. (This would be a VERY long post if I give you every detail, so I won't. I'll try to nutshell it for you, and maybe I'll post on it again another time.) I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and needed injections in the thigh to ovulate. Since infertility is not an exact science, my ovaries went from barren to bursting quite quickly, and we conceived triplets on our second attempt. I'll never, ever forget the moment in the ultrasound room when that news came down. Ho.leeee.cats.

I had the privilege of carrying those three baby boys for 25 weeks, but then it was over. They came into the world rather suddenly, all weighing under two pounds, and today our two survivors are 12 years old. Joshua, our precious "Baby B", is the lucky Angel of our family, and we really look forward to meeting him someday. Tyler and Ben spent three and four months, respectively, in the NICU before being healthy enough to come home, and when when they finally did so, it was not without a little equipment. Both boys had apnea monitors, and Ben also had oxygen and a feeding tube. Praise the Lord, He spared both their intellects and physical function, but the next few years were not without a constant barrage of doctor's appointments, medical procedures, helmet therapies, surgeries, worries, anxieties, questions, stress, grief, rude stares, late nights, tube feedings, in-home therapies, and exhaustion.

It was all so totally worth it.

Through the triplets, the funeral, the NICU, the grief, the self-blame, the uncertainty, and the stress, I learned faster than I ever would have any other way to leave it all for God to carry. For example, I'll never forget being asked, as I lay flat on my back in the hospital on bed pan duty with a ruptured membrane, to decide if we should deliver only Baby A, whose membrane had ruptured, or do a C-section and take all three babies. In the human experience, one does not often have to make a literal life-and-death decision like that. Potentially sacrifice one child to buy the other two more womb time, or rip them all out of their comfy womb to fight the real world?? Choose one. Without our faith, no matter how weak by comparison to today it may have been, I have literally no idea how we could have decided that and ever lived with our decision. I mean, really, do you potentially martyr one baby or put all three in harm's way? I am not God. I could not play God. It took no more than a short time for Dan and I to decide, together, that those boys were conceived on the same day, and they should be born on the same day. It was totally and absolutely God's decision who would live or die, not ours. (If anyone reading this has ever experienced something similar and decided on an interval delivery, pleasepleaseplease know that I am not casting stones at you. I knew--and God knew--that I, Shelly Story, needed to leave it to Him so I could live with myself. That was the right decision for us, not anyone else.) As it turned out, we did lose one baby as a result of our decision, but we did not lose Baby A. And as badly as it all hurt, we know that we left the decision to God, He called home whom He meant to call home, and no one else, and I will always take comfort in that.

My friends, no matter how distant we get from God, no matter how far we run, no matter how many poor choices we make, no matter what we do...God does not lose anyone who belongs to Him and He never forgets His promises. I committed my life to Him in Jr. High...then I wandered in a desert of sin and a drought of worship for years...but as soon as the instant I realized something was missing, He began to work on me and in my life. He allowed trial and heartache, just to prove that He was truly in control. He comforted me and rallied an entire church family around us during the hardest thing I had ever faced. He stripped me to nothingness so that I would cling to Him. I had failed him 1000 times over, for most of a decade, and yet He stood tall as my Rock just when I needed Him most.

Our Lord is stunning. Don't you ever forget that.

I have so much more to say to effectively recap 15 years of marriage, but I am realizing as I compose this tonight that to condense it all into one post would be to completely diminish what and how God has worked in our lives. To breeze through car accidents, funerals, miscarriage, defeats, victories, births, hopes, dreams, and joys would be so "surface". And God does not work on the surface. He is a deep well of sustenance who has proven that apart from Him we are nothing. So, my dear readers, I shall stop here. In the timeline of my life, I have become a Mom the hard way, and 12 years later, I can honestly say, "to Him be the glory".

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Head Nut

Allow me to introduce you to the man of my life. The love of my life. The guy who melts me, sustains me, encourages me, uplifts me, supports me, and make me laugh more than any other soul on this earth. Dan Story. {sigh} I love that name.

If you will archive back to this post, you'll get a glimpse of how we fell in love. It's a typical story of someone seeing the very best in another person, a story of looking beyond physical shortcomings and character flaws to the untapped source of unconditional love that lies inside. It's a story of two misfits who are a perfect fit. I praise God for that story, for my Story.

Dan is a farmer/rancher by day and a machinist by night. He works harder, or shall I say, sleeps less, than any person I know. I worry about that nearly daily, but have trained myself to leave it up to God. He is extremely committed to keeping me at home to mother our six children, and so I do, while he does more than a lion's share of work to make that possible. No words can express my gratitude for that quality in him.

Standing 6'4", with the physical strength to make my knees weak, Dan is incredibly witty, funny, and intelligent, yet he remains humble. His integrity and honor run deep. He does not need the approval of other people to feel important, and has never concerned himself much with what other people think of him. He is independent and a non-conformist to the core, yet he has a heart for God and desires to be used by God for God's people. It is a wonderful, quirky blend that I often envy.

Dan is the perfect father for our six children, and although he is not always perfect, I do believe with all of my heart that he is perfect for us. He loves very deeply and very loyally. And, as any Daddy of two little girls, he has somehow managed to get that hulking frame of his around their little fingers. Having once upon a time been able to make my sister laugh so hard she would cry, I used to think I was pretty funny. Next to Dan, I am notsomuch the funniest person around this house. He cracks me up daily, and knows it, so that "muscle" of his gets a lot of exercise. (Speaking of muscles, after 17 years his forearms and biceps still float my boat!) I could go on and on about all the wonderful aspects of Dan that cause me to love him more and more each passing year, but he's going to kill me already for what I have said. Instead, I'll give you a brief glimpse of what I am talking about...

There is nothing like a "Daddy nap" on a Sunday afternoon.

Usually sporting a dirty tee shirt, dirty Levi's, a grease rag in his back pocket, pliers on his belt, and well-worn cowboy boots, when THIS Dan shows up I can hardly contain myself. Hubba hubba.

So, you know by now that I call this blog His Nut Speaking. What you don't know is that I actually started it 18 months ago or so, but then lacked total direction and only posted to it 3 times before letting it sit dormant. What I had done, however, was to give this blog a different name in the beginning. I used to call it "Head Nut Speaking", because as you will see from my profile, we live at Story's Nut House. (Growing up, that was my Dad's favorite way to answer the phone, proclaiming himself as the Head of our Nut House. I always loved that about him, and sorta adopted the habit, I guess you would say.) Because of my background in early childhood ed, the lion's share of child rearing has always fallen to me, including discipline, and because Dan had something other than proper discipline modeled for him while growing up, we've both been OK with that. For many many years, "ask Mommy" was a common phrase in this house. Another reason that "Head Nut" was a natural fit for me. However, as is the case when we go deeper and deeper into relationship with Christ, I have since been convicted about calling myself the "Head", even merely in jest.

I am not the Head Nut.

I recently read a book called Created To Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl, and I am not afraid to admit I have a deep love-hate relationship with the book and its author. I love what she has to say. I hate how she said it. I love the Biblical truths contained inside its pages. I hate being convicted. I love the challenge to this post-feminist-era gal to conform to a Biblical standard as to my role as wife. I hate that I often fail so miserably. I love it that God designed for all men to lead. I hate it that society today has stripped them of that honor and ability. I love letting Dan lead. I hate myself for getting in the way sometimes.

I am going to whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who wants to check herself against Biblical truth, and see just how well she is doing. However, it is not for the faint of heart, or the woman who is unteachable. I am also going to caution you to focus on the message behind the author, and do not focus on how she is saying it. Allow the Holy Spirit to convict you, not Debi Pearl. Don't stop reading just because of her. Keep reading because of God and His design.

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18

Now, I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3

It is a tough call for us gals these days, even counter-cultural, to get out of the way and let our men truly be MEN. I proclaim this truth not because I am doing so well at it, but because God is not finished with me yet, and He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it. I started posting tonight to merely brag up my hubby and flash some pics of him. But, as is the case with every post, I prayed first. And this is where we ended up. Hmmmmm. I think I may have been falling short lately, and needed the reminder. Praise the Lord.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I should have but I didn't...

I should have turned off the TV this morning and made all the kids help me unpack from camping. Instead, I let them lay around in their jammies eating dry cereal from the boxes, watching TV until 11:30am. Camping recovery is hard, you know.

I should have called my little sister on her birthday, but I didn't. Instead, I texted with another sister who was having a stress moment. I have something new on my prayer list now.

I should have fixed lunch for my kids. Instead, I continued teaching the 12-year-olds to make grilled cheese sandwiches. They had to use the turner and flip the sandwiches themselves this time.

I should have cooked a fabulous supper, but I didn't. Instead, we took the kids out to the Italian bufet. Mmmmmmm.

I should have ignored the last cinnamon roll off my son's abandoned plate at the buffet, but I didn't. Instead, I found it highly delicious.

I should have folded laundry tonight, but I didn't. Instead, I talked about bucket calves with the neighbor who stopped by.

I should have walked away from Facebook sooner, but I didn't. Instead, my kids had a minor brawl and a tooth was knocked out. A baby tooth, praise the Lord, and a loose one at that, but I still had to put on my Mommy mad and send kids to bed.

I should have typed a new blog post all about campfire smoke, but I didn't. Instead, my blog got a makeover.

I should have but I didn't. Shoulda coulda woulda. What a boring day this would have been if I had.

For we know in all things the Lord works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heading out for a camp out!

Full of excitement and packed to the gills,
tomorrow's the day we shall head for the hills.
In a ramshackle Bucket and the brown toaster van
we'll drive over to Ponca just as fast as we can.
The kids will be howling, the sweat will be dripping,
the dogs will be grilling, the skeets will be sipping.
We'll douse in the bug spray and spread out the tent,
and say, "Now this is how summer is meant to be spent!"

And as fireflies dance and flames fill the sky,
I am sure all at once I shall let out a sigh.
No vacuum, no laundry, no mopping or drying,
no computer, no email, no whining or crying.
(OK, that's a lie, we all know they will cry,
but with the trees as our canopy, I'm sure I will try
to keep my heart calm and, likewise, keep theirs,
as I gently remind them that everyone shares.)

With my Bible in my lap and the Spirit in the flames
I'll quietly watch while the kids play their games.
Not a care in the world except the next meal,
it's God's loving presence I am planning to feel.
He'll be found in the trees, in the breeze, in the dirt,
in the laughs, in the smore's, and the smoke on Dan's shirt.
He is ahead and behind, before and the end,
He is always and constant, and my very best friend.

What an honor to camp amidst God's creation
and to relish the wonderful gift of salvation.
I can think of no better way to pass summertime
than to give glory to God, Creator Divine!
No one is left out, the fun is for all,
family camping is designed for the big and the small!
So look not for posts until Sunday has past,
I am going camping, and it's gonna be a BLAST!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Who is this, really?

I grew up in the 7o's and 80's, when musical technology and availability were notsoverymuch as advanced as they are today. We owned your typical aging record collection, some 8-tracks, a blossoming collection of cassette tapes, and (you guessed it) a tape deck recorder. To pass the time in the summers when we were somewhere around 7th or 8th grade, my sister and I would sit right next to the stereo speakers, trying for hours to catch the perfect song with that tape deck recorder. I can vividly remember holding my breath waiting for the first notes of a song, hoping and praying that the next song would be the right song, and that with our lightning-fast reflexes, we'd somehow, someway, get the button pushed without missing more than the first two notes. It was a thing of beauty: two blossoming teens in the fetal position with their faces pressed to a tape recorder next to a three-foot tall cloth-covered stereo speaker.

Today we'd just download it. (Sometimes I miss the old days when you had to actually work for your music.)

On days when the right song just did not come along, and the minutes turned into long frustrated hours, we would surrender the tape recorder and listen to albums instead. One of our favorites, believe it or not, was Bill Cosby. I used to (OK, I still do) love a good laugh with one of America's all-time great funny men, although these days I have to just listen to him on You Tube. Anyway, Bill has a routine about Noah on the album "Bill Cosby is a very funny fellow Right!", that once upon a time I had nearly memorized. In this routine, Bill gives an extremely humorous account of how old Noah may have reacted when he was first called by the Lord to do something as major as build an ark. As Noah is working away in his shop, the Lord pops into the silence and starts talking. Noah answers, albeit somewhat baffled. The dialogue goes back and forth in the humorous style of Bill Cosby's storytelling, until finally, in utter confusion, Noah calls out "Who is this, really?!"

Who is this, really?

Are you like me? Do you have a lot of voices in your head, giving you a bevy of thoughts all day long? Do some thoughts make perfect sense? Do some encourage you and bolster your confidence? Are some merely amusing? And are still others the negative kind of thoughts that weigh you down as soon as they race through your brain?

Who is this, really?

Are you wondering if God is talking to you? To whom are you listening? To whose voice in your head are you tuning your ears? What are you choosing to believe?

I have rarely had the Lord burst into my head or my silence or my presence with His booming and clear voice. I admit that there are many a day that I beg God to speak in a way that I would understand exactly what He is saying, and although I envy those with the gift for hearing Him so clearly, I am usually not one of them. I have other gifts, and I am grateful for them. But many times, I wish--I just wish--I could filter out exactly which voice is God's voice, and which voice is just noise to be ignored. He has never led me astray, He has never failed to guide me when I am really asking and willingly following, but He is also not using Instant Messenger or Skype to make sure I hear him loud and clear. He wants to make sure I am really, really trying. That I am earnestly seeking Him. That I am turning on the filter of my heart and asking, "Who is this, really?"

Even so, no matter how feeble my ears or how out of tune my own listening skills, God has promised his voice to me! I will hear his voice!

Isaiah 31:19-21...O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you. Although the Lord gives the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

John 10:2-5..."The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognized a stranger's voice."

Oh, that is so comforting. No matter what lies the enemy is feeding me, no matter what society would have me believe, no matter what I try to convince myself, the Lord will talk to me. He is talking to me. I don't have to have a super power or a super gift, I don't need to hold my breath in the fetal position at the base of a three-foot tall cloth-covered speaker ...all I need is to be His little sheep, and I will recognize His voice.

Who is this, really?? It is the Lord. To Him be the praise and the glory!