How Do You Become a Mother?

I was reading a friends post on Facebook and she was wishing everyone in her world a Happy Mother’s Day. She freely admitted that she is not a mother, but rather referred to herself as a business midwife. She is an entrepreneur who has helped and nurtured hundreds if not thousands of women birth their dreams. (You can check out her website at www.nacwe.org)

I started thinking, how does one really become a mother? Other than stating the obvious process of physically becoming a mom, what does it mean to be a mom? The dictionary is always helpful, so I thought I’d start there. The word “mother” as a noun means “a term of address for a female parent or a woman having or regarded as having the status, function, or authority of a female parent.” The word mother as a verb is; “to care for or protect like a mother; act maternally toward” (www.dictionary.com). We can safely assume then a mother is a woman who functions as a female parent, cares for, protects and acts maternally towards others.

We all understand what that looks like with children but how about thinking outside the box and giving a blessing to those in our life who “mother” in the spirit of the above definitions? So today, I want to celebrate all those who are seriously parenting others in their world. I think of another 89 year old woman who has been a mom to over a 100 teenagers and adults in her lifetime. Having no children of her own, she and her husband opened their home and their life to foster children, kids mostly in their teens who needed a little course correction. She nurtured and encouraged freely with her maternal authority and bestowed to them the gift of total acceptance and love. She is a mother in my eyes.

Lisa Bevere in her book Nurture says this, “Nurture, the language of the feminine heart, is being restored as women arise, recognize each other, and begin to connect for strength and purpose.” God has instilled in each one of us the ability to nurture and love for a significant purpose that is far beyond what we can even imagine. We don’t need to have children to extract these gifts and influence our world, it is a powerful gift waiting to be unwrapped. I am a mother, but nurture didn’t come easy to me, I had to cultivate it and learn but now thirty-four years later, I think I am beginning to get what it really looks like to be a mother in heart and spirit. My children have left the nest and I carry a burden to nurture now more than ever. There is power in the sisterhood and nurture of women. Let’s join together as mothers to be world changers, an extension of God’s love to others. Happy Mother’s Day!

The Best Gifts in Life are Simple

I made a quick trip to visit my parents and get some vitamin D sunshine this week. I love where I live in Washington State, but to get some warmth and sunshine in the rainy season is worth the travel.

It’a amazing how comfortable you feel when you step back into your family. The family that raised me, the loving Mom and Dad that nurtured, provided, loved and encouraged and shaped who I am. It was my beginning and the family God gave me, a gift.

It is good to go back to the beginning sometimes and treasure the simple joys in life. I arrived and my mother had over on her dining room table, a birthday cake all ready for me, chocolate cake with rich dark chocolate frosting. It was a family project, my sister made the frosting while my Mom was at bible study. My birthday isn’t until tomorrow and yet she had it waiting for me a few days early, so we could enjoy it through the visit. That’s just like my Mom, it’s her gift. She loves to be hospitable and she does an amazing job through loving people with her culinary delights. Simple gift but oh so yummy! I felt loved.

The next day we went to Coronado beach and walked around. We laughed, we shared memories of pictures and Mother’s Day Brunches at the famous Hotel Del Coronado. Again, simple gift, but oh so memorable. We stopped on the way home and shared a tradition, In-N-Out Burger, messy, gooey, but oh so yummy. As we licked our fingers and wiped up the mess, we smiled, told stories and we laughed. Another simple moment and yet a gift to share friendship with two people who have given so much to me. I smiled inside and in that moment was perfect happiness, to be loved and feel like you belong, accepted wholly and without hesistation, is truly a gift. It reminded me of the phrase in Les Miserable in the lyrics, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” To be loved unconditionally is to experience heaven on earth and a touch of how much God loves me, and oh so much more than I can fathom.

We came home, took a nap and then had cake for dinner! I love that about my parents, they aren’t too rigid to color outside the lines and have cake for dinner. Why not?

Today I woke up and found at the end of my bed a note that said Dad wanted to take me out for breakfast. When I saw the note I smiled and quickly got ready. This was tradition, a date with my Dad and time to listen to his stories and musings over a generation and world I can only imagine. One more memory on this trip but now I am feeling so overwhelmed (in a good way), again more gifts.

So now guess what? My Dad is in the kitchen and it’s time for more cake and more memories. I better get mine before it’s all gone! Simple joys, simple gifts and for me the best birthday!

Seeing in the Dark

I was driving home from Seattle the other night and had one thing missing. My glasses! I had forgotten them at home but didn’t discover it until I was already 50 miles into the journey. I was bummed because now that meant I would have to leave much earlier and forego a coffee date with my oldest son. I don’t see well at night and my glasses are an essential part of my ability to drive in the dark.

I ended up leaving a bit later than I planned but it was still light and the sunset was way off in the distance. Road signs were somewhat fuzzy but manageable. When it started raining it complicated things a little but I kept my eyes straight ahead.

Soon the sky turned to dusk and darkness descended. Okay, now it was more challenging. I was headed through the winding part of the small mountain pass, and it was DARK. I followed the taillights ahead of me and kept my eye on the white line. I never knew stripes could be so helpful, I am beginning to appreciate those bright orange construction workers who are the artists of the highway. I was almost to civilization now with street lamps lining the rest of the interstate. It took most of my concentration and with no time to be distracted by music, I turned the radio off. Nearly two hours later, I pulled in the garage and breathed a thankful prayer that God helped me navigate home without incident. I vowed I would make sure that it didn’t happen again.

When I crawled into bed that night, I thought about the verse I had learned as a child, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. It was one of my first bible memorizations as an 8 year old Pioneer Girl earning my winning badge attached to my sash. Now years later, it still resided in my memory and surfaced as I thought about the drive home and how I struggled to see in the dark with limited lighting, or should I say blurry lighting.

As I snuggled deeper into the covers, it hit me as that Bible verse of my childhood reminded me of steering my car in pitch black with less than 20/20 vision. It’s in the darkest of nights that I need the light to see how I can take the next step. You don’t need a light in the daytime, in fact I probably wouldn’t see it much because the sun drowns it out. I don’t even think about seeing just right ahead because my eye can see clearly far into the distance. But in the dark is when I really need a light.

In the troubled times when I can’t find my way, God’s word is my lamp, my light, my illumination that spills onto the path. I also noticed that it says it is a lamp for my feet, which means right where I am stepping at that very moment, not three strides ahead, but in the present. The lamp shines around my feet exposing the place to go so I won’t fall or trip. That is the promise of God’s Word, it is everything in the dark and everything to stay on the path. Without it, there is no certainty and no assurance of heading in the right direction.

As I drifted off to sleep I was reassured to know that my anxiety doesn’t have to get so whipped up because I can’t see more than a few steps ahead of me. God’s truth promises to guide me with just enough light to keep walking in the right direction toward home.

All We Need Is Love

Today is Good Friday and a somber reminder of what the real meaning of “love” is all about. The word love is hard to wrap my brain around sometimes because it means so many different things to all of us. But today love is about Jesus and what it actually means when He gave up His life for me and for you, to walk the road of the cross–for restoration. After all these years I still can’t fathom all that His sacrifice means other than His death on the cross making a way for me to experience the fullness of God and His love for me. The message is simple and is contained in a four letter word LOVE that was put to the test over 2000 years ago.

I guess this hit home for me when I was out on the street of Whalley at NightShift a few weeks ago. I was leading worship with two friends. It was a cold, dark and blustery rainy night. There was nothing sacred about us singing worship songs while a hundred or more people lined up to get a meal, it was just plain miserable outside. I watched people huddle together in the cold grateful for a warm bowl of soup to take the chill off. I heard and saw the pain and brokenness through their haunted eyes, some high on drugs, others a sadness beyond words as they slumped over discouraged and defeated.  And then while we were singing a song about how much God loves us, repeating the chorus over and over, it hit me–this is love. This is why Jesus did what he did for me and for them.

I might not be on the street poor or homeless, but without love I am poor. Now, I know that it isn’t profound, but it was for me in that moment. Sometimes I make love too complicated and it is really quite simple as I looked out over the crowd. My heart grieved and was so sad because I wanted my street friends to know God’s love the same way and how it penetrates my soul giving me life in the midst of a storm or my own brokenness. I did speak those words out after we sang, and told the story of how Jesus was with the disciples in the storm. They weren’t a captive audience, but my hope was that in that night, the hot meal, the songs about love and Jesus, kind words and smiles would be a seed planted that love does and can change everything. All we need is love? Is it really that simple? I think so, because love is God and God is love and Jesus proved it….”This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” John 3:16,17 (Message Bible)This is LOVE!

DIY?? What?

I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to let down my pride. I had to come out of denial and realize that I am not as relevant at my 20 something friend said I was the other day. I finally broke down and stopped pretending that every time I saw the letters DIY that I knew what it meant or at least pretended to. Okay, I didn’t have the foggiest notion, after Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and now visiting a friends website, I had no clue what it meant!! I googled it and found out it just means DO IT YOURSELF!! Okay, now I get it! I understand what all the boards in my Pinterest searches mean when they say DIY.

I have to admit, I am kind of disappointed. I thought it was more inspiring than that. I realized that it is the return to in a sense, making do with what we have on hand to be creative and live within our means. There is a surge of DIY happening because I think this present day world is requiring us to think differently about all the STUFF we think we have to accumulate and I have been oh so guilty of the temptation to be a collector of that stuff. DIY ideas make a way to discover how to be creative and revamping my own ‘stuff’ reminds me of when we were first married and we had no money, nearly everything I did and had was DIY! It was rewarding and gave me a sense of delight that I had created something or fixed it myself.

I am grateful to be reminded by www.picketandoak.com (friend’s website you should check out) because I’ve been thinking about this alot lately. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really need anything. I have so much and am so blessed on every level and I am not just talking about stuff that I’m tempted to drag home from my favorite places like TJ Maxx or Marshalls. I have a beautiful family, sweet grand babies to hug, friends that challenge me and help me be more like Jesus, a lovely home in an amazing setting, cupboards full of food, closet full of clothes and shoes and a cozy bed to sleep in at night. I have more than I could ever ask for, and yet I still needed to be reminded that the concept of DIY really is just a simple term for learning to be grateful and to seek to work harder at being a good steward of what has been entrusted to me.

BTW, the picture in this blog is from a great DIY site. It is www.curbly.com. Check it out!!

How Can I Have More God Moments?

ImageI found something really fascinating this morning when I was reading my Bible. Don’t you love it when that happens! In the introduction in the book of Luke, the first paragraph of verses is an introduction that is dedicated to Theophilus as he is describing his own witness  of the events of his time. This is what Luke says, “it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”

I must have read those verses hundreds of time in my spiritual pilgrimage but they hit me differently this morning. I realized that Luke may very well be making a case here for some kind of journalling. That might be a bit of a stretch but even in the first verse he mentions that others have actually written accounts of what had happened among them as a community. Now before you tune me out, read along just a bit further and do your best to track with me. I should tell you by now that I am an out loud processor which sometimes isn’t great for writers but this is a blog, so here goes.

Here is where these thoughts connect for me, last week Jordan our middle son preached a message at his church called “Why Remember?” It was amazing, I know he’s my kid, but really and truly, it was brilliant. It left me with the reminder of how important spiritual markers are in our lives. He talked about Red Sea moments and why remembering those God-moments often helps catapault us into our future. When we get in the mud and mire with all the negative–the difficult circumstances, people stuff and just how life bogs us down, sometimes our eyes move away from remembering all the incredible miracles God downloads personally to increase our faith. In fact, that’s exactly what he said that those Red Sea moments accomplish, they cause faith to rise up inside of us, so like Luke shared with his friend Theo, let’s write them down!

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have at the end of 2013 a book full of those God moments? I love how Luke makes his case for writing it down, “so that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” I think he could be talking about being certain about our faith, what do you think? He also mentions, “writing an orderly account.” The book of Luke is an orderly account of the life and ministry of Jesus and the Kingdom of God coming to earth-reading it infuses my faith.  We might take the phrase, ‘writing an orderly account’ and transfer that in today’s language as keeping those God moments in one place so you and I can “remember” allowing our faith then to “rise up within us” to quote my very wise son. I am choosing to write them down in a journalling bible I bought for 2013, so I could have my God moments in one place. I bought it before I even thought this all the way through, I wanted to combine seeing God’s word on a page with journalling this year.

You might go out and find a journal with a cover that reflects your personality. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Winners, Chapters or Barnes and Nobles all have fabulous blank journals. If you are on a tighter budget, stores like TJ Maxx you can get one for under $10.00 leather and all, many times under $5.00. Another idea would be to use 3×5 cards and put them on a ring. That probably is a $2.00 project from the dollar store. Be creative and find a way to record your God moments.

Now you might be saying, I am just not a journaller. That’s okay, you don’t have to be an official one of those types who wake up everyday just dying to write in their journal. This is about keeping a collection of your God moments in one place to rehearse when you need a faith-builder. Let’s face it, none of us really knows what 2013 will bring. I am planning to read my God moments because I know that there will be days I am going to need my faith built up. Can I be so bold to ask you join me? Let me know your thoughts and how you plan to record your God moments to increase your faith in 2013.

Where is the Road Leading in 2013?

Back in September Kevin and I were at a marriage retreat in Colorado. It was intense. It was a difficult season and the retreat felt like an endless road of rehearsing, repairing and rebuilding. But it was good. It was necessary to crack the layers and shake off hardened habits to get to the rewards — loving deeper and giving more grace to get on a stronger path towards relational wellness. On our day off we ventured away from the lodge to head into town for a break. Actually it was Sunday and we wanted to go to church. We were late, not because we didn’t leave in time but because there was a crowd on the road stretching for miles. A sheep convention of sorts, at least that is what it looked like! They were leading and we were following, it was the only way out of Dodge! So we crawled at a snails pace waiting for the dogs and the modern sheepherder, an ATV rider to come along and move the sheep to the side of the road so we could pass carefully.

We had to do a couple of things in order to keep calm and not incur any casualties both with the sheep and the vehicle. First, we had to keep our eyes focused on the road and not the sheep. Sheep are distracting, they goof around when they are in a herd, there is no order and no rhyme or reason–they play, they prance in front of you, they turn back and walk straight into objects and don’t seem to have a clue that the goal is to move forward to get to the destination.  Second, we had to use caution and match our pace so that we wouldn’t bump into them and wait patiently for the obstacles to clear out of the way to move ahead. At first it seemed rather comical and then it was annoying because they seemed to stretch for miles! At last we were rescued as the ATV rider herded them successfully to the side of the road. Yeah! We could finally move ahead and get on with the plan.

As I think about the start of the New Year and the possibilities that are ahead, I can’t help but relive that Sunday morning as I think about planning for 2013. The past few years I’ve had my share of obstacles in the road with goofy sheep and I just want to “get on with the plan.”  I don’t know about you but I get excited about starting fresh and get anxious to move into a new season. So…. I bought a new journal to write in, a few devotionals, purchased a journalling bible and made my list of books I want to read and outlined a plan of how I wanted to grow with Jesus in 2013. I started making my list of goals and then I read today in Proverbs 16:3,9; “Commit your work to the LORD and your plans will be established…the heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Hmmmm, as I reflected my mind was spinning, what does this mean? Then it hit me as I looked at the picture from that Sunday morning, my heart can make a plan, but God very well may have placed sheep in the road to remind me to keep my eyes focused on Him and not get in too much of a hurry. God moves us by steps not by miles, another translation says “God directs his steps.” Sometimes the obstacles are there for a reason, if not for the simple reason to refocus and not rush ahead. It was a stark reminder that God is the one who will direct my steps or at least at the right time, clear the herd to the other side so I can take another step to move ahead. So in the meantime, as I start 2013 this is my prayer, “God help me to walk out what I believe you have placed in my heart for this year, help me to keep my eyes on you and trust that if obstacles appear to not get discouraged but that you will help me either get over them or drive by them as I keep my eyes fixed on the path ahead.”  Image

Sing Louder!!

I have to admit, I am a fan. A really BIG fan. An American Idol fan. Every Wednesday and Thursday night for the past several weeks I am glued to my flat screen TV.  I have clicked on my remote to my saved programs to indulge in some pretty amazing talent on stage this season. I am hooked. In the past I have secretly scorned others for wasting time watching these kinds of reality shows, but I have to admit I have fallen into that category of time wasters. But is it really a waste of time to appreciate the gift of music?  I love music!

Each week as I have settled in, I find myself moved. Not by all the staging and effects, but by the simple passion of each person who loves expressing their gift in song. As I listen, I have to turn up the volume. I like it loud, I like to experience it and feel it vibrating in my soul. I watch as a few of my favorite singers give it everything they have, singing louder and with greater energy as each week moves ahead to the grand finale.

There is someone else in our family who likes loud, who actually tells me, “Let’s sing louder, Grandma.” Connor and I were sitting on his bedroom floor last week before bedtime. He wanted to sing “lots of worship songs.” I think he was stalling, but it was okay I fell for it.  We sang through a few familiar ones and into the second or third song, he said, “Let’s sing louder Grandma.” It made me smile inside. So we sang as loud as we could sitting cross legged on his bedroom floor watching each other sing. At that moment, it dawned on me. This is what worship is all about. It’s not about the presentation of the song, but it’s about the passion behind the words I am singing.

There is something about listening to a two-half year old praising Jesus. It makes me cry because of the simplicity of his heartfelt desire to share his feelilngs through music. It was a moment for me, a sacred God-moment in my busy life. It was better than watching Joshua, Jessica, or Philip sing last week. Connor wasn’t on a stage, he was in his room, wearing his PJ’s hanging out. He was ending his day lifting his voice in worship. That is passion with a capital “P.”  I experienced in that moment, my soul vibrating with love for him, for my God AND to want to “sing louder!”

 

 

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