Tuesday, March 22, 2011

God's Book

I love, love, love antique books, especially books of a religious nature.  Over the years, I have collected numerous volumes and often use quotes from those books here and on my Facebook page.  There is much wisdom to found of that generation of authors and Christians.  Don't get me wrong.  There are several Christian women authors of today that I enjoy reading, but there is just something about the lives and writings of late 19th and early 20th century authors.  I especially enjoy reading Margaret Sangster, not to be confused with Margaret Sanger.  There could be no two people who were as different as these women were. 

Anyway, I didn't grow up reading a lot.  In fact, I think I must've been a fairly poor reader in school, even through my high school years as I was put in special classes during English to help improve my reading skills.  But after graduation, I began reading a lot for pleasure, not just because I was being forced to.  Over the years, I've become an avid reader and my skills have improved.  I still don't like having to read directions or learn some new skill from a book, but I do enjoy reading to increase my knowledge about things.  I have bookcases full of books on crafts, sewing, history, autobiographies, biographies, missionaries, religious themes, cooking, baking, poetry . . . and on and on it goes!  Books have become a big part of my life.  I love to go to the book store and just browse and pull titles off the shelves to flip through.  There is so much to learn about!  There are so many stories to read and be touched by!  And it's kinda fun looking at pictures, too.  I especially like the picture/coffee table books about other counties!  Amazing photographs of places I would love to visit.

My very favorite book is a novel by Christian author Francine Rivers.  It is called Reddeming Love and is a love story based on the book of Hosea from the Bible.  I have read it numerous times and I always come away rejoicing in the fact that, like Hosea (in the Bible) and Michael (the main character of Rivers' novel), God's love is a redeeming love for those who did not love Him first.

This morning it was quiet around my house as everyone had gone off to . . . somewhere!  When it's quiet like that, it gives me time to just think about things and one of the things that was running through my mind today was that God has a book that one day will be read to us.  It's the Lamb's Book of Life.  In this book is written the name of everyone that Has ever been born into His family.  One of these days, this book will be opened and He will read from it.  Those whose names are not there will be cast out of God's presence and into the lake of fire.  I believe that many will be shocked and saddened that their name will not be found there. 

There is a congregational song that we sing at church and it never fails to bless my soul.  It is called I know My Name is There.  The second stanza says:

My name once stood with sinners lost,
And bore a painful record;
But by His blood the Savior crossed,
And placed it on His roll.

Oh how I rejoice and praise God that my name is on that roll!  My name is written in that Lamb's Book of Life!  God has my name written down in Heaven in a book!  That means He knows my name and one day He'll call me out of that book!  On days when I'm down and discouraged, all I need do is reflect on that simple fact . . . I know my name is there!  He wrote it down the moment I received His dear Son as my Redeemer.

There are many, too many, people in this world who cannot say that there name is there.  Or they will tell you that no one can know for sure.  I don't know which saddens me the most . . . those who are not written there or those whose names are there but do not have that assurance in their hearts because they think that keeping their salvation is all dependent on their works.  Those works do not matter when it comes to finding your name in the Book.  Christ told some of His followers in Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.   Anyone can do works in the name of Christ, but not everyone has their name written down in His book . . . and that is all that truly counts.

Reader, God wants to write your name in that Book.  He wants to read your name out of that Book one day in the very near future.  Do you know that your name will be read aloud on that day?  That's food for thought in your quiet times.



An Ode to Dick and Jane

See Julia.

See Julia coughing.

See Julia coughing in her bed.

Julia is mad.

Julia is mad at her cough.

Julia is mad at her cough for keeping her in bed.

The end.

(Thank you Dick and Jane)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A terrifying discovery!

Help!  I'm in a midlife crisis and I can't find my way out!

Eccl. 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
I am beginnng to realize that middle age, that time in life when you're not really old but you're not really young either, is just a rerun of that horrid time in life known as adolescence, all while dealing with any adolescents that live at your house.  It's a double-whammy, triple-dog-dare-you trick life plays on you.

At least after adolescence the first time around, you came away with a perky body parts, beautiful hair, and smooth facial skin.  When you reach your 40's, you're figuring out how to survive the changes of life while dealing with forgetfulness, wrinkles, white hair, muffin tops, and drooping, sagging body parts.  You've lived and experienced life, but now you're practically being forced to reinvent yourself because life as you knew is not the same . . . and you're trying to figure exactly who you are, who you thought you were, or who you should have been in the first place.  It's a time full of questioning, fears, and doubts.
  • Who am I?  Where have I been?  Where was I going?
  • Where did I put my medicine bottle?  glasses?  remote?  keys?  car?  children?
  • What was I going to do next? 
  • Which doctor am I seeing next week?
  • Uhhhh . . . why did I come into this room?
  • OMGosh!  I've turned into my mother!  (Love you, Mom!)
  • Life is passing me by and I'm on some old slow horse that can't keep up.
  • I am the old nag that can't keep up.
  • I doubt these bottoms are going to fit over my bottom!
  • I swear I wore I size 12 last week!
  • I doubt I can stay awake through this entire two-hour movie. 
Truthfully, I'm just an old(er) version of a teenager.  My poor husband.  He's having to deal with a 40-something adolescent and a 'real' adolscent. She's angry all the time; I'm crying; and he's wishing he could take a vacation to Mars.  Living in a lion's den would be safer than living at home some days.

Seriously though.  I'm forever fussing at my youngest daughter because she sometimes won't try new things if there are people participating that might perform better than she can.  It pains me so to see her struggle with self-doubt and self-acceptance.  I'm always telling her that she doesn't know what she can do until she tries; that even if she doesn't 'win', her life will be richer for trying; and she might be sorry one day if she doesn't give it a shot and with all she's got.  Those words of encouragement finally paid off on a recent Saturday.

We had a dairy show a few weeks ago, our second of this season.  It was a big state show and I know she came into it with so many doubts since our first show (a much smaller one) didn't turn out as well as she would've liked.  She seriously thought she'd picked out the worst calf in the bunch to work with this year.  But I knew that day when we first saw her that she'd be a great one, and I think Baby Girl did too.  But then she had begun to doubt her ability to know a good calve/heifer from a not-so-great one.  She'd been doing this going on two years.  Why was she doubting now?  On the day of the weight class competition, I told her she had a great heifer and that she had made the right choice.  And I prayed like crazy . . . not just that she would win, but that God would bless her with wonderfully good things that day.  Amazingly, she won first place that day in her class and went on to compete for division champ.  It was her first blue ribbon in showing dairy heifers and what an encouragement that was to her!  It is something she will never forget and it would've been something she would've missed had she given up.  I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I think of what God gave her that day.

But then, there is me.   I've had kids at home with me for twenty-two years and have been married for almost 25 years!  But now . . . now, things are changing. When I was younger, way before I met Mister, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.  And I went after it with gusto!  I got married, had a houseful of youngin's, and quit work to take care of my home and my family. Three are on their own, Little Mama graduates this year, and Baby Girl in just over a year.  Where does that leave me?  The answer to that would be the blank, confused look you see on my face.  You know the one; it's what you get when you ask your kids why they didn't clean the kitchen after supper last night, why they didn't do their homework, or when the dog was last fed.  Nobody, but nobody, told me that the years would pass by like a whirlwind and that I would doubt my ability to do . . . anything . . . my value as a someone other than 'mama'!  Nobody ever told me that I'd question who I am now that my role in life is changing.  I'm.  Not.  Ready.  Where is the 'pause' button?  And, NO(!), I'm not talking about menopause.   But if I believed that God could and would bless my child and help her through that difficult show, then why can't I believe that He'll bless me, too, and help me through this difficult change in life?  If I believed Him enough to trust Him to help me raise all these chldren, why am I full of doubts during this most difficult change in life?

Why is it that I can encourage my children in their life pursuits, pray for their success, and believe that their dad and I have done a pretty decent job at raising them . . . and yet, when it comes to me and my dreams and hopes for myself, I am so afraid to even try?  Why do I feel 'not good enough'?  Forget dying from old age or anything like that.  Fear is killing my life!  And while I say this almost jokingly, there is more than a tinge of truth to it.

Learning to navigate this midlife crisis is a frightening sometimes overwhelming journey and it seems like I'm only in the beginning stages.  I still don't know where I'll be going from here, what my purpose is, or who I'll be when it's all over.  Truthfully, I'd rather deal with a sullen, discouraged, frustrated teenager than with . . . well, my middle-aged, cranky, frustrated, unsure self.  But just as I survived my own adolescent years, and the ones I survived with my five children,  I'll make it through this season in life as well all the better for the wear and tear on this aging body.  And when I come out on the other side, there'll not be a 'new' me, just an improved continuation of the woman God wants me to be.

Now where did I leave my . . . ?



Friday, February 25, 2011

A Letter to Young People Everywhere

Dear Young People Everywhere,

Today I am writing on behalf on parents everywhere who, I believe, want young people to know a little about this process of being 'grown up' and 'on your own'. Believe it or not, your parents know that it is difficult being a teenager and a young adult. Would it surprise you to know that it is just as difficult for the parents of you young people? We have raised you for 18, 19, 20+ years . . . and  suddenly, you're on your own, making your own decisions, and you don't really need us that much anymore.

It may surprise you to know that moms and dads were once in the same place that you are in now.  But you should know that mom will ALWAYS be mom and, by nature, is loving and territorial when it comes to her children. Just because you don't live at home any more doesn't mean that you stop being her children . . . nor does it mean that she just let you go. . .completely. She doesn't have these stretch marks on her body and scars on her heart for nothing. She's invested too much of herself to ever stop caring. And while that doesn't give her the right to dictate your life, your mom will always be a part of your life and is, very likely, the reason that you are the wonderful person that you are today.

Your lives are changing, but so are hers. Yours because you want it to, and hers because it's just the way life is. She's never been at this point in life before, allowing each and every child go out into the world to live the life God has planned for them. Watching each of you make mistakes.  Sitting back while y'all discover a whole new world.  She just wants you to remember this when you get really frustrated with her and think she's butting in.  For your mother, this change is  like going 60 mph to 0 mph in about 2 seconds, trying avoid hitting the car in front of you.  The heart pounds, the hands shake, and the mind is forever thinking "what if".

You have never truly loved a human being until you have loved your own child, whether he or she grew within your womb for nine months or if they were specially chosen by to be your very own child. So, naturally, there will be pains of separation. Just as you would cry when you were separated from mom, even for just a few hours, your mom will cry and often mourn for the days that will never be again.

Thankfully your mom has a weapon for those times when she can't be there, can't fix a situation, or doesn't really understand what's going on in your life.  Or maybe mama sees you making some pretty questionnable choices.  If things starting happening in your life that YOU don't understand, maybe your mama has been praying for you.  Cause, you know, if mama can't be there, you can bet God will always be because of your mama.


All Moms Everywhere

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Walk Out Woman

I was nearly a walk out woman, until I read this book. Okay, well, truthfully I didn't have the guts to walk out, but I really wanted to. And I had been that way for a long, long time. It was on my mind all day, every day of my life for years.

What held me back? Namely the fact that I knew it would not be pleasing to God. Then there were the five children my husband and I shared together; our families; our friends; our church. It was impossible to ever think about facing these people again if I did walk out. Of course, the fact that I didn't have any money or a place to go weighed heavily on my decision to stay put.

Regardless of the reasons listed above, walking out on my husband and the life I didn't like anymore still crossed my mind . . . and lived there . . . daily. It came down to the fact that I really needed to change my thinking. I really needed soome counselling but could not afford it.

This book had been sitting on my shelf for two or three years. I had picked it up at one time and had begun to read it. There were even little sticky notes and highlights throughout. But I didn't get far at that time. I just wasn't ready to hear what the authors, Dr. Steve Stephens and Alice Gray, had to say. But just a few weeks ago, I literally felt at the end of my patience. I had written three notes to my husband about how I was feeling, but I don't think he knew exactly how to deal with the intensity of my frustration, anger, bitterness, and saddness. If anything was to be done, it was up to me.

While packing a bag of reading material for a weekend trip with our daughter for 4-H, I grabbed this book hoping to get some relief from the ugliness in my soul regarding my marriage. Not really ready to read cover-to-cover, I flipped through the pages until I came across a chapter I thought might help the most. It's titled "This Lady Has the Blues" and it absolutely described this lady for sure!

I have been hooked on the book since then and am reading about a chapter a day. Just the fact that **somebody** understood how I felt seemed to lift the heavy burden I felt I had been carrying around. It was also helpful to read the stories throughout that chapter and others of women who are going through the same problems as I am.

One of the things I love most about this book is the fact that it is interactive. Most chapters include a list of symptoms, suggestions of things to try, and/or questions concerning you and your particular situation. These are the blue boxes throughout the chapters. All of this extra information helps you to identify what's really going on, as well as helping you to be truly honest with yourself about some things. So often what we "feel" is so one-sided. Are **all** problems in your marriage your husband's fault? This is one misconception that is addressed in this book.

At the end of each chapter is a section called "Something to Try". It is a list of several suggestions to try to reinforce what has been taught and discussed in that section. You can choose just one from the list. Most of these suggestions are very simple but eye-opening.

Some of the topics addressed to the "walk out woman" include:

- discovering if you really are a walk out women

- clueless husbands (boy, did **I** need this!)

- discontentment

- focusing on the positive instead of the negative

- anger (when I wasn't depressed, I was angry!)

- building walls (the authors must've been spying!)

- talking and reconnecting

- caring for yourself (a source of guilt for me!)

- devastation of divorce

- affairs and how to avoid them

- happiness

- and much more!

Several chapters seemed to be written about me! I wondered if the authors had been hanging around my house. I especially was distraught to read about myself in the chapter on building walls. We women seem so predictable.

Overall, this was just an eye-opening book for me. It helped clarify the fact that all marriages have issues and even if a walk out woman did get a new husband, there wouldn't be any guarantee that she'd be any happier. It was helpful to read about how Dr. Stephens would counsel a walk out woman; how to talk to my husband; how to tear down walls; and the fact that it's okay to do things for **me**. I have spent so many years caring for others and I often feel guilty for doing something for myself.

I am very thankful to have been able to address my issues with depression. I feel that my husband hears me better when I write out my frustrations and hurts and was glad to learn that this is an acceptable way to communicate with your man. Since I've done that, my Mister Wonderful has really been trying to be more attentive to my needs . . . and I am feeling much better.

While "The Walk Out Woman" addresses a negative topic and speaks to serious issues in marriage, it is also uplifting as the authors offer much helpful advice on getting through this time in life.

There are several references to scripture throughout, but it is not overbearing in its use. The authors also refer to many of sources in regards to writings on marriage counselling.

I really never have **wanted** to be a walk out woman, but it seemed the only way of escape for me. After reading this very insightful book, I feel that I am equipped to better handle the issues in my marriage. I hope that if you read it, you will come away refreshed and ready to fight for yours.