Friday, December 18, 2009

I've Written A Thousand Posts in My Head

Yet...

Those posts never get here.

I think maybe Blogger is broken.

Or I've had to significantly re-structure my time since going back to work.

Hmmmm.

Anywho, work is going really well. Love the kiddos I get to work with and how creative I get to be with them! Of course, I'm keeping busy with my own kiddos and church and Girl Scouts when I'm not at work. And the weekends are for catching up on cleaning and chilling! So...most of the writing will have to wait I think. Although I really miss it some days!

One of those days was yesterday when I got to sit in on an interview with a kid for one of our programs. He's pretty much got everything against him in life, and he's made some bad choices, but he's decided he MUST make a change. So he's been walking miles to GED classes every day and wants to be a police officer someday. He wants to get a good job so he can help his single mom struggle less. I got to be a part of telling him, "You're in! And if you do your part to get your GED and attend our training classes...you get your college paid for." The look of hope on his face! He couldn't put gratitude into words. It was a gift he didn't really deserve and a day of redemption of the best kind.

It made me think of Jesus. He is a gift I most definitely do not deserve, but a gift that I am so very grateful for that it's hard to express it accurately. So even though I sat in my business attire as a 30 year old professional of some sort, a teacher, a mom...and he sat in his parka and Packers stocking cap looking pretty sweaty and nervous for a punk kid...there was a thread of redemption that we shared.

So as we gather with friends and family and live the joyful highs and the stressed out lows of Christmas...may we be reminded that a little baby boy born in Bethlehem gave us true gifts of mercy...grace...and the hope of a redeemed future. Merry Christmas everybody!

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Awesome

Okay, I'm not really that awesome.

But I did get to have a really fun weekend. Which was awesome. So maybe some of the awesome rubbed off on me.

We packed up the kids and went to stay with my sister-in-law in the Nashville area for the weekend. We took the kiddos to a pumpkin patch and they had lots of fun with a hay maze, seeing farm animals, going on a hay ride and picking out pumpkins and such. The absolute highlight was probably playing in the big bins of corn. Yup. We know how to party.

Then, I got to go see Jim Gaffigan on Saturday at the historic Ryman theater in Nashville, Tennessee. And I got to get all prettied up and go on a real date with the Frankster. And be all downtown and cool and stuff in a big city. And somehow we ended up at a BW3's eating a lot of chicken wings and watching UFC fighting with a bunch of crazy Tennessee people...?? A random but lovely evening. Which is pretty much us at our best.

So in case you don't know who Jim Gaffigan is...and you really should, I give you....HOOOOOT POCKEEEET:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Seasons Change...God Doesn't

We have a big maple tree in our front yard. Every year around this time, the leaves turn to a brilliant yellow and then fall to the ground in a great golden piles. I love to jump in the piles...but raking them? Not my cup o' tea. ;)

As the leaf color hits its peak this year, I find that the season in my life is also changing. I will be starting a new job! Weighing the pros and cons to working full-time again (outside the home...the kids are a 24/7 job- ha!) was tough. But as childcare quickly fell into place and much encouragement came from friends and family...God seemed to say, "I've got a new challenge just for you, Beth..." I'm not sure I even got totally comfortable with my season of being at home or working part-time at the pre-school! But...God never promised us comfort, did he?

I'll be working with high school students in Vincennes, Indiana. I really, really love this age group and miss working with teenagers a lot. Pray for us as we make the transition as a family...things might get a little bumpy as we iron out the new normal! There's also a little funny feeling in my stomach that happens when you walk into something unfamiliar...what will it REALLY be like...so hopefully that will disappear soon. But I'm confident that God has some good stuff for me in the road ahead...to impact some lives at the crucial point of childhood meets adulthood...and to teach ME more than I can imagine right now.

And the blog? I hope to keep posting from time to time. I do try to keep up with the blogs and friends I have come to love so much in the past 15 months or so...but if I don't comment for awhile, I still love ya! :)

So...to recap: the me that was me when I started the blog...not me anymore. Again.
Ecclesiastes 3 comes to mind (good chapter!).

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.




P.S. In case I don't get the change to devote a real post to it...Happy 3 years to HealingPointe Community Church!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Before the Day

Couldn't have written a more fitting song for my heart this week!

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.




Before the Day- NewSong

Last night when I was sleeping
You were watching over me
While I dreamt about tomorrow
You knew my every need

Now another day is waiting
For me to make it through
And there's no way that I could face it without You

Before the day slips away
I want to stop and say
I love You I love You
Before the world rushes in again
I want to stop and say there's none above You
There's none above You
I'll just be still and know You are God
Be still and know You are God

There's something about the morning
The stillness of it all
It calms my heart to hear You
When You gently call

Here I am in Your presence
Where I long to be
Alone with You in the silence
Bring down Your love and Your mercy
Whisper softly to me

Thursday, October 1, 2009

More From the Land of Wal-Mart

Did I mention that my 3 year old son is a Shoe Diva?

Yeah...

He's quite particular about what goes on his feet. Wouldn't wear the cute flip flops that I bought for him this summer. The Spider Man shoes are too tight. The Crock knock-offs were acceptable until they broke after 3 weeks.

So what DOES he wear?

Second-hand shoes that were intended to be for his sister but were a bit small for her. They are red. They slip-on. They are girl's shoes. They are a size and a half too big. They are tennis shoes of a sort, yes, and you probably wouldn't know by glancing at them, but they are indeed girl's shoes. He LOVES them.

Today I went to the Wal-Mart(again) to buy shoes for the kids. Because ALL THREE kids desperately needed tennis shoes at the same time. What are the odds? Pretty good, I guess, if the object of the game is draining the parental wallet...

I found shoes for Annabelle (pink and sparkly!) and Jay Jay (Winnie the Pooh and extra wide!) in about 3 minutes. Then there was Joey. Ahhhhhh, Joey. This shoe was too tight. The same shoe a size bigger was too loose. That shoe was "ug-a-lee." If he had blond hair I would call him Goldilocks. I really thought he would cave when he knew that both of his siblings would be getting brand new shoes and he wouldn't, but he totally called my bluff. He was just fine with putting his red shoes back on, thank you very much, while giving me a mischievous grin. He shuffled out of the store with head held high and one red shoe promptly fell off as he climbed in the car.

I don't have history in prophecy or anything, but I think I'm going to have my hands full when he's a teenager...



***Thanks to my new friend Sarah Salter for the encouragement to make this idea a post!***

Monday, September 28, 2009

We Make a Pretty Good Team

This week I am not quite myself. After 8 years of marriage, funny how your spouse really DOES seem like your other half. The Frankster is off to some computer-y thing-y with his co-workers this week. Being a pretty independent woman and all...I'm okay with managing the kids by myself for awhile.

BUT...some of the things I miss the most:

I do not laugh nearly as much. And when I do, it's not quite as fun.

AND

I have become totally dependent on him when we lead worship together! Seriously, God knew what he was doing (Doesn't He always?) because we compliment each other so well and have led music so many times together that we pretty much share a brain every Sunday evening.(Cue mental image of Frankenbeth.)

Anywho, last night I had to lead by myself and I got a lot more nervous than I should have... Something about being alone up there and if I make a mistake, there it is for everyone to see! Which is ridiculous, since it was all of our friends and their kids at our little church, and they love me mistakes and all. And God never said he requires perfection for it to be worship and pleasing to Him! (Can I get an Amen, people?) But, there it is. After being in choirs and singing solos and being a part of worship teams for pretty much all of my 30 years...I. still. get. nervous. For no logical reason. Bleh.

So as things like this go with me, nerves got the best of me. I messed up. People had a hard time following the songs. Ahhh...it all went so well in my head during practice. By myself. Where it's just God and me and the piano! But the moment I started to settle down a bit out of nervous/hyper mode and actually worship...God just took over and made it a beautiful thing for Him. So why can't I do that from the get-go?

I haven't figured that one out yet, but I am thankful for the opportunity to stretch a little bit and grow! It's a good thing to have the rug of familiarity and comfort pulled out from beneath my feet. It's a good reminder how far I have to go and how dependent I need to be on God. And how great of a worship leader Frank has become! Really. I could not be more proud of him. Not only is he an excellent musician that brings out the best in the people that play with him...he really has developed a deeper love for God that is apparent during corporate worship.

We used to say when we first started dating that "we make a pretty good team." (Said in a very cheesy over-animated way with thumbs up, of course.) Back then it was a way of using humor to mask the slightly scary truth that we really and truly were good together...but it continues to hold true! I miss my teammate! But I'm sure we will have loads of fun catching up on his travels in computer geekdom when he returns.

P.S. The rest of the service last night was a kids' service. It was soooo fun! It was like going back to VBS, but I got to do it with my daughter. We need to do that more often! I dig church as a family.

Friday, September 25, 2009

You Never Know What'll Happen at the Wal-Mart

So...I just got home from the Wal-Mart. The Sullivan Wal-Mart may be the smallest Wal-Mart in existence, but I did manage to score some trash bags (I was totally out) and soda pop (how retro) because the 'rents (that's cool 90's teen mag speak for parents) are coming and I hate to offer them a choice of water or water to drink. :)

ANYWAY...

The kids were getting cranky and it was raining a little and I'm sure I had about 8 different thoughts rolling around in my brain...and when I got home I realized I forgot to put the sodas into my car! It had only been about 10 minutes or so since we left the store, so I called the store just on the slight chance that maybe my poor pop was still sitting lonely and wet at the bottom of the cart in the cart corral. After waiting on the phone approximately 863 minutes, I was informed that the Diet Pepsi I had bought had been rescued and could be picked up at my convenience. The Sierra Mist, however, was nowhere to be found.

There you have it, folks. If you're going to steal someone's soda pop, don't steal the crappy diet stuff. Go for the gold!


Be sure to visit my friend Wendy's blog and participate in her "Life is Funny" blog carnival. If I can do it...surely you can get off your lazy bum and do the same. :)

Happy weekend to you! May your Wal-Mart travels be filled glee and criminals who hate diet soda...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Dog Walk

Quiet and clear and hush-hush
I pad along the sidewalk
Trying not to break the spell
of peace and solitude
But not loneliness

For the wide porches smile
with their painted rocking chairs
And the coffee brew wafts
out of an open kitchen window
Causing thoughts turn to grandma's percolator

Orange Cat sniffs his disdain
But my brain-light doggie
doesn't notice Kitty's pomp
in her quest for MORE SMELLS!

And I run through the day in my head
Finally un-interrupted (hoorah, hoorah!)
Content...full of thanks
for small town streets
for maples and oaks
who guard the sidewalks at night

It seems something lingers
of the grace and friendship
rumored to be prominent
in those decades past

I want to cling to that sense
Community, familiarity, safety
So absent in a day
of Manufactured this
and cookie-cutter that
Where I can't for the life of me
remember the next door neighbor's last name!

And sure, it's a fantasy
Every generation faces giants
Heaven alone is utopia found

But for now...
It's nice and right and a lovely evening
for walking a dog
in small town U.S.A.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Today is the one year anniversary of That's Not Me Anymore! We've laughed, we've cried, we've learned how to grocery shop with small children...I'll try not to make this random, rambling, and discombobulated...but truly, that IS my style, is it not? Would you expect anything less? I hate to disappoint...

My first post ever was about how God was forming me into a new person, thus the title of the blog. And just one short year later, I still feel the title is very appropriate! I hope I never stay comfortable with who I am. Don't get me wrong, my self-esteem is a-okay (most days, at least :P), but I do not ever, ever, ever want to be a content, safe, and bored with my relationship with God. Gotta keep growing. Gotta keep changing. Gotta keep cleaning out that gunk that gets lodged in my soul and doesn't want to budge. Gotta keep LIVING.

I feel like the past week has been a fresh calling to do just that. To be brave and intentionally put myself in places where my faith is stretched. My pastor, Eric, gave a powerful message last Sunday that ended in one of the most moving videos I have ever seen. If you want to see it, here's a link: Run. (Warning, if you have somewhere to go in a few minutes and don't want to arrive teary-eyed, you may want to wait to view it.) Then on Monday, I went to my women's group meeting and heard a devotional from Proverbs 31 ministries based on the Bible passage where Peter tries to walk on the water. (Matthew 14: 22-36). It focused on Peter's reckless faith. I love this idea, here's just a bit of it. The whole thing can be found here.

"He had reckless faith: Without thinking, without distress over consequences, without anxiety over what might happen, and without concern for what his friends might think, Peter had faith. Peter had reckless faith. And we can too! Reckless faith means doing what God has called us to do, commanded us to do, and prompted us to do – because it brings Him glory. Those who witnessed Peter's reckless faith didn't ooh and aah over Peter. Instead, like Peter, they fixed their eyes on Jesus. "Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God'" (Matthew 14:33, NIV).

Man, do I want to bring Glory to God! And especially over the past year, I've found that doesn't necessarily mean jumping up to do these huge grandiose things for Him...a lot of times it means just being faithful to take care of the things God's given me already. And follow the commandments that I already know. Urg. Wait. That's not as exciting as running into burning buildings and walking on water...?? Not fair, God!! Where's the adventure? But it does take a tiny bit of bravery to get up each day and face a life of wiping poo booties, making lunches, paying the bills, exercising patience and love even when I don't feel like it... And I think all of those little bits of bravery prepare us for times when God does bring us a situation that requires a leap of faith instead of a baby step.

I've got a long way to go. There's some saying about the more you know, the more you know you DON'T know...yeah. I like that one. Two steps forward, one step back. You get it. Lately it seems I'm in that ridiculous step back. Grrr. Just last night we went out in the neighborhood where our church is, simply to invite people to our little outdoor block party on Sunday. We were already tired from a long day...Frank had an online training he had to listen to all day for work. I had taught preschool in the morning, did some errands, did school pick up, etc. We did not have enough sleep. We weren't in the mood to be "friendly." Okay, at least I wasn't in the mood. We got there a little late and there were no more fliers left to give to people. Not exactly the exciting work for Jesus we had envisioned...It was all so simple and easy in our minds, right? Still, we were struggling to DO it. This simple little thing. We made each other take turns talking to strangers(Who were perfectly nice, by the way, and receptive to an invitation to the block party. No one pulled a gun or hexed us or even said anything remotely rude...yeesh, I need to work on being less dramatic in my head!). No reason at all to be nervous. So why was I nervous? Probably because I am still working out those basic elements of faith...trust...bravery...recklessness...

So here's another to another year of the blog. Another year of working through this constant change we call life...of raising a family, of having a church plant turn into a "for real" church...of finding my voice in cyberspace and listening to God's voice...

Thanks to everyone who takes time to read! Whether I know you in person or via my little mac, you have really encouraged me this year!

Friday, September 11, 2009

8 Years Ago

8 years ago today, I was on my first big business trip. After graduating college, I worked for a company that did review courses for doctors about to take their board exams. This was the first course that I had a big part in. I was nervous and excited. We were in Denver, Colorado in a hotel and the course was scheduled to begin the morning of 9/11. I was up early that day trying to get everything ready, and as I went downstairs to the lobby for something, I saw many people had gathered around a TV...

Suddenly strangers at a hotel were more than strangers. It was numbing and surreal. We all just stood around the TV. Soon the hotel staff set up extra TVs around the lobby. People from New York and D.C. were calling home in a panic. My company's staff realized that there would be no presenters flying in for our course. And there would be no participants able to fly home. My boss made the decision to continue the course anyway. I disagreed with his decision, but I worked pretty much non-stop that week to make sure that the people who were stuck there had the best course they could have, considering the circumstances.

It was a long terrible week away from family and friends. There were some tearful phone calls to Frank and my mom. My wedding was scheduled for September 22nd, just 11 days after September 11th, and in the back of my mind I was wondering if all our guests would be able to come or if we should even re-schedule the whole thing...

I had made plans ahead of time to meet one of my college friends (who had moved to Denver) for dinner one night. Both of us needed to see a familiar face, I think, and we kept the dinner date. I remember us discussing the hate-filled remarks my friend had heard where she worked toward a person "appearing" to be "Arab." More fear and hatred does not erase hatred...

We ended up driving back to Indiana from Colorado at the end of the week. We drove through the night just to make it home as soon as we could. I was never so glad to be back at my little one-room apartment on 7th Street in Terre Haute. It was early Sunday morning and I remember laying down, exhausted, wishing Frank was there. I think I grew up a lot that week. I found a strength in myself...in my faith...that I didn't know existed before that week.

On September 22, 2001, Frank and I were married. It was a beautiful September day. My grandmother made a trip in a plane across the country by herself. (She's always been a brave lady!) Our guests celebrated with us. It was a day of joy. It's not that we had forgotten the tragedy of just 11 days before. It was that we knew that the world had NOT, indeed, ended. And that the God of all creation held us in His hands despite this hell on earth that had taken place. Sin and evil seek to separate us from God, but He is a God of restoration and redemption. He never changes. To these beliefs I cling...on September 11, 2001. And on September 11, 2009. And on September 11, 2017.

Reminds me of Isaiah 61...

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Well, At Least It's a Post People!

I was going to write an update about what our church has been up to. (Renovations to our building and an outreach coming up!) Or about the start of preschool. (Oh, the crying children!) Or the things I think about while walking the doggie each evening. (I came up with the phrase "geek chic" last night. Like it?) Or about our sweet "new" ride. (New to us, at least. 2002 Ford Focus. I KNOW. Practical. When did we become practical?) Anyway, since we were down to one car for awhile, that meant a lot of playing taxi driver last week and this week with the holiday and start of preschool, the running seems to continue. However, this morning I have the comfy jammy pants on! Yesssss. No running to be done until I pick up Annabelle from school. And once we get used to this new fall normal, I'll flesh out some more posts er somethin'.

SO...I give to you this lovely masterpiece created by our friend and babysitter, Haley:



Ironically, I am the only one in the family who regularly wears glasses... :)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ode to Helen

Oh blogging friends, I know apologies about not blogging get old to read...so, uh, no apologies. But I canNOT let today go by without a huge happy birthday to my friend Helen!! She wrote a poem for my birthday, so I will return the favor! And I think she will be okay with me taking liberty on some of the syllables in this haiku based poem...

Helen is funny
Not your every day funny
Like drop dead funny

Helen is caring
Not your every day caring
Calls to encourage

Helen is thoughtful
Not your every day thoughtful
Causes me to think

Helen is loyal
She will champion her cause
Tell it like it is

Helen is salsa
Dancing in the grocery store
I'm gonna join her

Helen is family
She holds her own near and dear
Honoring, loving

Helen is teaching
Her students are a blessed bunch
Past and present, too

Helen is unique
Not your every day unique
True one-of-a-kind

Reading mysteries
Muumuus and velour galore
BunBun the rabbit...

The internet is
Much brighter with her on it
Someday we will meet

But her computer
Better not break before then
(Torture for us all)

Helen is Helen
I am so glad that is true
Happy Birthday (to) you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oh Yeah, I Have a Blog!

Hey, all you faithful readers...sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I've been....busy? Tired? Adjusting? Here's a quiz. I've listed some things about my week. Can you pick which statements are true? I've even put the answer at the end. Instant gratification!!

1. Laughed maniacally at my dog when she couldn't figure out how to jump the baby gate now mounted at the bottom of the stairs.
2. Concocted the most awesome poems for a blog post while I ran and then promptly forgot them.
3. Talked to my friend Helen on the phone while my boys climbed the furniture like Amazonian monkeys.
4. Discussed with Frank whether or not we have dysentery.
5. Cleaned my basement and found exciting treasures such as: my crock pot lid, a whole box of wedding bubbles, and....a dead bird!
6. Got up a least an hour earlier than I used to so that my daughter makes it to school on time. Only slept through the alarm once so far...Oops.
7. Attempted making homemade biscuits with the result being a hard white substance that could have anchored our boat.
8. Stood in line with squirrely preschooler and cranky, nap-needing baby EVERY AFTERNOON so I could pick up my daughter from school. (Okay, just every week day.)
9. Had a tired mom melt down at exactly 5:13 p.m. each day.
10. Had a great time worshipping with our new HealingPointe drummer, Dr. Rhythm.
11. Washed my daughter's brand new back pack because my son peed on it?!
12. Spent a collective 18 hours telling Joey to put his underwear on.
13. Got way too into the movie "Princess Protection Program" on the Disney Channel.
14. Cursed my spotty Internet connection frequently.
15. Impressed all the parents at the park with my monkey bar skillz.

If you answered that all of the above is true, you are.....














WRONG.




I only chuckled and rolled my eyes at my dog. And I stink at the monkey bars. I have weeny spaghetti arms. And I may have only spent 17 hours and 58 minutes telling Joey to put his underwear on. After hour 15 it gets a little foggy....

But the rest is pretty accurate.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Letting Go...



Frank took her to school, but sent this picture to make me feel a little better. Not sure it made it easier!! I'm excited Annabelle starts on a new adventure today, but MAN is letting her go into the big wide world hard!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Short and Sweet

Hopefully the title will describe this post. But it also describes a dear blogging friend of mine, Sherri! Her birthday is tomorrow- just one day away from mine, and in many ways, I feel like her life and my own parallel a lot. Must be that good ol' midwestern upbringing! Right before I started blogging awhile back, I was praying for God to bring some women into my life to be good spiritual mentors and role models for me...and Sherri was one answer to this prayer! She's someone who's "been there" as a mom with three kids in an old fixer upper house in a small town...and has loved Jesus through all the ups and downs of life. I encourage you to stop by her blog A Matter of Fact and tell her Happy Birthday! While you're there, you might be encouraged, laugh a lot, cry a little, or all of the above! Keep rockin' those stilletos, Sherri!! I WILL make it over the state line to visit you sometime soon!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Never Assume...

I wonder how many assumptions we make about people on any given day. Having a rather, uh, creative and over-active imagination sometimes, I like to make up stories in my mind about people I see at the store, houses for sale in my neighborhood, the mailman, etc. People and places I see, but know absolutely nothing about. Perhaps I got a taste of my own medicine on Saturday.

Frank was away most of the day doing some repairs on our house we rent out in Terre Haute. The afternoon was getting long and the kids and I needed to get out of the house for awhile. It was pretty warm, but we decided to take a walk to the park anyway. It's only a few blocks away, but the herding skills necessary to get the kids to cross the street at the same time, manuver the stroller, and keep them from examining every rock and leaf along the way make the trip a little more epic than a simple stroll to the park. So I'm sure I looked more than a little hot and worn out as we approached a man mowing his yard. He kindly shut down the mower when he saw us so we could traverse his sidewalk without the trepidation of grass cuttings flying at our ankles. I said a friendly hello and encouraged the kids to keep walking (and that the mower monster wouldn't harm them...they hate lawn mowers.).

The man looked up and said, "Do you go to church anywhere?" I didn't expect that question. I'm sure my first look was a bit deer-in-headlights, but I quickly recovered and said that I did. We struck up a short conversation about my church, HealingPointe, his church here in Sullivan and our shared faith. I left a little encouraged that I had a neighbor who cared enough about a stranger to inquire about their spiritual well-being. But also a little curious as to why he asked me the question in the first place. Does he ask everyone this question? If so, I admire that. Or did I just look a little extra in need of Jesus? Not sure how I feel about that one! He could very easily have assumed, "Now here's a struggling single mom with three little kids...maybe she's at the end of her rope and she's open to the gospel! Woman down! Attack for Jesus!" I have no idea. He probably did it out of love and wanting to help someone and I'm overworking my imagination again.

But would I have asked him the same question? Probably not. Why IS that? I want to be bold in sharing my faith. I want to be ready at a moment's notice to help a stranger or have an answer to a spiritual question. I want people to know that having a relationship with God is something they need to think about. But I don't want to be jerk and assume things...which I probably do too often. I judge that this person SEEMS to be in need of Jesus more than this person...based on appearance alone! I don't want to put someone off if I come at them with any trace of judgement or insincerity. I struggle with this, especially as we plan how to invite the neighborhood around our newly acquired church building to our church. How can we be loving, sincere, bold, and prepared to share the thing most important to us? And why is rejection so incredibly scary? And shouldn't I be better at this by now?

But truthfully, at that moment, asking my lawn mowing neighbor if he went to church was about the last thing on my mind! I was ready to say my polite hello and move on without a further thought about him. Oops. It was a good reminder that my mind and heart need to be so saturated with God and his Spirit that I am continually sensitive to what God wants me to do or say to anyone who crosses my path...whether a stranger (who "looks" in need or not!), an aquaintence, a good friend or even my own kids. Sharing my faith can't be just a thing I do when I plan it or when it's convenient.

(I Peter 3:13-16 NIV)
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

So thank you, my lawn mowing neighbor! Your one little question encouraged me to put away my assumptions and ask God for help to keep Him on the front burners of my mind and heart.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

'Twas the Night Before Katdishmas

Dear Katdish,

I wrote (changed the words of) a poem for you!
Sorry/Your're Welcome!
And if I get in trouble from my
A. Mother
B. Grandpa and Grandma
C. Pastor
D. All of the above
for using words like "ho" and "skank," I'm blaming you for being a bad role model...

**If you read my blog via facebook and aren't familiar with my "blog friends" this post will probably make very little sense to you. But you can always visit the blog of my friend Katdish and get in on the hilarity! While you're there, tell her to have a great birthday! And tell her that I do NOT want any stupid Bratz dolls!**


Twas the night before Katdishmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except a computer mouse.
The stockings were thrown in a box without care,
In hopes that the laundry fairy soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in MY bed,
While visions of skank fairies danced in their heads.
And Frank in his fauxhawk, and I in my Snuggie,
Had just settled our brains when the baby needed a Huggie...

When out in the yard there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I started to trudge,
Tore open the shutters but the windows wouldn't budge.

The moon on the tassles of the Indiana corn,
Was much like the moon of the cheese buttler of porn.
When, what to my wondering eyes- Sweet Baby Dingos!
But an SUV, and eight tiny flamingos!

With a twitter ho driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it wasn't St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles her coursers they came,
And she whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Oswald! now, Redneck! now, Shiny and Slanky!
On, Buddy! On, Boz! on Jeffro, on Skanky!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! On to Skymall!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So into my driveway, the flamingos flew,
With the car full of Crap, and Katdish too.

And then, in a second, I heard on the walk,
The loud boisterous voice of somebody's talk.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
In my front door Katdish came with a bound.

She was dressed in her pjs, from her head to flip flops,
And her clothes were all tarnished with paint drippy drops.
A bundle of Crap she had flung on her back,
(Don't make her bend over, you might see her crack.)

Her eyes-how they twinkled! Her dimples how merry!
Her cheeks were like roses, her wrath quite scary!
Her droll little mouth was drawn up in a smirk,
She may get sarcastic, but she never will lurk.

She brought us together from the blog SCL,
Sometimes she is deep, ponders heaven and hell.
She annoys famous pastors and promotes with the best,
She's made Billy Coffey a one-woman quest!

She encourages me more than I'll ever tell,
And I snorted when I saw her, in spite of myself!
A wink of her eye and a twist of her head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
Filled our hearts with Jesus, then turned with a smirk.
She fights for the helpless and champions the weak;
She is my fellow church planter...yet calls me a geek.

She sprang to her car, to her team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard her exclaim, ‘ere she drove out of sight,
"Happy Katdishmas to all, and to all....Hey Look a Chicken!"

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Our Boat Adventure in Haiku

Three kids in a boat
All under the age of six
What are we thinking?

Boat in the water
Parking seems eight miles away
Drag the kids to dock

Oops, forgot something
Go back and forth many times
Finally, we're off!

Oldest is frightened
Middle is okay with it
Youngest is gleeful

With knowledge comes fear?
That's my theory anyway
But hugs help the fear

Cruise and eat some lunch
I'm feeling slightly seasick
Close eyes, breath deeply

Feeling better now
Baby hates the life jacket
Here, Daddy, your turn!

Now the real fun starts
"Who wants to tube with mommy?"
Eyes wide, they shout, "NO!"

We convince Joey
Screams in terror on my lap
But later has fun

Annabelle will not
Again, knowledge means more fear
Thumb glued in her mouth

Baby Jay grinning
Just loves the wind in his hair
Too little for tube

Squirrely kiddos
It's about time to go back
Frank disappointed

Trip ruled a success
For a first time, anyway
At least we learned stuff...

"Want to go swimming?"
This is met with joyous, "Yes!"
We head to the beach

Sun, sand, and water
Preschooler heaven on earth
So much for the boat

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Tent (Like The Shack, But Completely Different)

There I was. Minding my own business on the shelves of the Wal-Mart. It was a pretty good life...making fun of the wimpy, tiny tents, chatting with the sleeping bags... I wasn't overly anxious that anyone would buy me and put me to my intended use, although I suppose I always knew it would happen someday...

Then last Tuesday it happened. This family walked up and picked me up and put me into their cart. No more shelf life for me! I should have been wary right away...there were not one, not two, but THREE little kids in this family. After paying for me at the register, the family took me to their vehicle. Again, a clue to my future demise. The vehicle was hitched to a boat and crammed full of...everything! I spent the next hour stuffed under some kid's legs. I learned the mother's name was "Beth" and the father's was "Frank." I think the kids were named "Stop that," "I said stop," and "Quit, NOW!"

We then arrived at the campsite. The mother disappeared supposedly to buy groceries and the father rescued me from the incessant kicking of generic crock-shod feet. At last...I was to complete my destiny as a useful tent! But things started to go all wrong. I don't think the father read the directions at all! He didn't put all my stakes in. He left the rain fly off, leaving me feeling a little naked... But when all was said and done, I was a useful tent in a campsite for all to see. I was being used the very day I was purchased, which is much better than a life in a basement or garage as I've heard from other tents. Things started to improve. I watched as my family (I considered them mine, now.) played at their campsite and cooked dinner and sang songs around the campfire. Life was good. The mother and father put the little ones to bed, and I was pleasantly surprised that they went to sleep without too much poking and prodding of my sides.

Then it started to rain. At first it was a refreshing sprinkle against my nylon sides. The father and mother hurried to put the rain fly on (incorrectly, I might add, although to their credit it WAS in the dark...). They sought shelter inside as the rain became a steady shower. The pitter patter sounds were relaxing...for awhile. But the rain showed no sign of stopping. The kids continued to sleep well, but the adults kept tossing and turning and muttering and then the father got up to check the weather radar on his fancy phone device. I started to worry as I felt the rain drops sink through my seams and into the sleeping area. Whoa to me, I was failing as a tent on my first night...but there was nothing I could do. My poor family just got wet. The middle boy was sleeping in a puddle. The mother and father had wet feet and water dripping on their foreheads. All the towels were put to use, but they could not stop the ever increasing amount of water seeping into me.

By morning my family was not in good spirits. The entire campsite looked like a giant puddle. They piled on the air mattress and ate dry cereal within my confines. They tried to keep the children from bumping into my sides. They bravely tried to play games, but patience ran thin. Finally they ran for the car, and I was abandoned, a failure as a tent. (I hear they tried going to the nature center, but it was closed for the day. They ended up going to the Bloomington Public Library for awhile and then ate lunch in the car, hoping the weather would clear up soon.)

I desperately hoped for another chance. Surely I could still show this family a good time! But luck and weather were not with me. Still the rain poured into the afternoon. The woman returned to me briefly just to wail bitterly at my failure. How I longed to be back on the dry hard shelves of the Wal-Mart. At least on a shelf I still held the promise of outdoor fun. Soon the father returned, too. He ripped up my muddy stakes and threw my dampened poles on the nearest picnic table. I was wadded up and shoved unceremoniously on the floor of the boat. My poles and stakes did not join me and I had no idea where my carrying bag was. I wanted to shout to them, "Don't forget the stakes and poles!" But alas, a tent has no actual voice. And the stakes and poles were left behind as we drove away from the giant puddle of a campsite...

I feared that this was the end for me. Would I stay a wadded and dripping failure forever? But soon I was rescued and my faith in my family was restored. The weather had cleared up. We reached our destination of "the in-laws' house," and I was taken out and hung up to dry. I watched as "grandma" came to take the children and I was again loaded up for travel. But this time there was a sense of hope in the mother and father as they packed their now dry belongings. It was a second chance for us all.

Once again we arrived at the campsite. The puddle had diminished and the father had great plans for pitching me in a better spot. But the poles and stakes were not to be found. Sigh. I am sure a well-meaning camper thought my family had left their campsite for good, and that my innards were fair game for pillaging, but this left me useless and without hope yet again. Until...the father suggested that I be tied and suspended between the SUV and the boat. He is quite an ingenious man, really, despite his shortcomings in reading directions. So I was again restored to use. I may have looked a little odd, but my family was happy, I was useful, and the night was beautiful and clear...

The next day I was packed away again until the next camping adventure, but at least I was in my carrying bag this time...with promises from the father of finding replacement stakes and poles for me at some place called "Ebay." Despite our rough start, I am beginning to think my family and I will get along quite nicely.


P.S. Beth wanted me to let you know that she had a really good time with Frank after everything was dry and the kids were with grandma. Camping round 2 consisted of lots of loungin' on the boat in the SUN and pursuing the quest to toast the perfect marshmallow. :) Here's a picture of the campsite (post flood) and a lake view from the boat.




Monday, July 27, 2009

Hellooooo, Past Self!

I promise to write about our family's epic camping adventure sometime soon. There's drama and rain and more rain and emergency trips to the in-law's house. I assure you, it'll be action packed! (Don't worry, it has a happy ending.) But as I settle back into a "normal" type week, I'm opting for a little shorter topic to tackle.

My parents were visiting us this weekend and are preparing to move out of a house that they've lived in for twenty odd years. For some reason they didn't want to move all of my college and high school crapola that I left there. Shocker! So they brought it in big ol' boxes to my house.

Among the old work uniforms, prom dresses, and ugly camp art were many, many papers I had written in high school. I don't know why my teenage self thought to keep ALL of them, but there they were. It was a little strange reading through them and getting re-acquainted with my teenage self. I noticed:
A. I was a little less angsty and more well adjusted than I remember.
B. I wrote exactly how I think and speak unless it HAD to be formal...that hasn't changed a bit!
C. I was rather candid...what high school English teachers are forced to put up with! Yikes!
D. I think I was born kind of an old spirit. Does that make sense? Either that or I haven't changed all that much in 15 years.

So, would you like a taste of 14 year-old freshmen Beth? I am semi-prophetic here on some things...but I am happy to report that I was wrong on some things, too. Even though I'm a "busy" adult, I still find the time to write now and again. The creative spirit does not die with adulthood...in fact, it grows and has more material to work with! ;)



Seize the Day While You Can: A High School English Assignment

When I am an adult, I will long to write poetry,
But I will be busy with a career,
And responsibility,
And a family.
I will be on my aching feet all day long.
Wiping runny noses,
Running errands,
Cooking semi-culinary delights.
All the time longing to be creative.

Yes, you can drive as an adult, and make money too.
You can watch your children grow, and build stronger friendships.
But sometimes life gets dull and routine,
And you will want to write a poem, but won't have the time.

Now we must write poems, assigned for Wednesday or Thursday,
Although we would much rather be out driving or making money.
But write while you can.
In a few years the chance will be gone.
And adults can never be children again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's a Sweet Day!

Just wanted to give a shout out to one of my blog pals, Candy! It's her birthday today! A couple of weeks ago she sent me a little love in the mail including a card that says:

Good friends make each other laugh.
Really good friends go for the snort.

So true! Her comments get lots of snorts from me! I hope this comes out like the true compliment it is, Candy, but you remind me a lot of my Mom...funny, reflective, and a spirit truly in love with Jesus that revels in the beauty of His world!

So wander on over to her blog, Steele the Day and leave her some love, got it? Or I'll be forced put on my Smarty Pants and go all superhero on your booty....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Year 1 As A Stay At Home Mom...Check!

As we get ready to celebrate the first birthday of Baby Jay, it also marks my first year as a stay-at-home mom. Throughout my pregnancy with Baby Jay, God kept putting it on Frank and I's hearts that it was time for me to step away from the full time work world. That was a hard decision both emotionally, since I loved my work, and financially, since we didn't know quite how the numbers would crunch without my second income, meager as it was. But I was excited about this new gift of time to spend with my husband, my kids, and my church. I thought that God had some stuff in store for me in those areas that I needed to take a bigger part in. That turned out to be true to a certain extent. But I think the biggest thing I have taken from this past year is God's work in my OWN life. Funny, I knew that this change in lifestyle would have some effect on me, but I really didn't go into it expecting God would use this time to make me DO less so I could SEE God more. Does that make sense? I'm probably getting ahead of myself...

Here's the thing. I keep pleeeenty busy physically managing the house, taking care of the kids, and keeping up with stuff going on at church, with friends, with family and all the miscellaneous things in life. But these days my mind and my heart aren't frantically racing to keep up with life like they were a year ago, when at least 40 hours of the week was chock full of work and everything else had to be crammed into what remained. So that leaves a lot more room for thought and reflection and sometimes loneliness on a particularly bad day (or a day that I don't see another adult until 6 or 7 pm). But I really believe God uses change and uncomfortable new things to grow us up a little spiritually.

I don't think I realized how dependent I was upon ACTION as a way of expressing my love for God. Whether at the church or at my job, the "doing" part of things was a a big part of how I defined myself and saw myself as a healthy, growing Christian. And that's so true in a sense. You can't just hear the Word of God and it's instructions and do nothing...(See James 1:22-25)

BUT.

First you have to hear the Word of God! Sometimes I think my mind and heart got so busy I forgot to do that vital first step. I'm not saying that everyone needs to quit their job to improve their spiritual life...but staying at home has been an excellent opportunity for me dig into the Bible and then step back and see that:

1. I just simply need to love God. Just praising him while I wash the dishes or drive to the store is just as important to Him as teaching a forgotten child to read or listening to someone's burdens. I don't know why we humans have a need to categorize things as "God values this and this" over "this and this," but we do. Or at least I do! For more on this read my post about it here.

2. Prayer did not have the importance it should in my life. It's like my prayers were kind of dry and kept safely in a little box. I think my whole definition of prayer has changed this year thanks to IHOP (not the pancake place, the prayer place) and our church. This is hard to admit, but I really don't think I believed in intercessory prayer before. It's like I knew it in theory and I knew God listened, but beyond that I didn't think what I prayed had any effect on the outcome. I know, I know... God has grown my faith through prayer this year. And the more I get to know Him, the easier it is to know the hows, whats, and whos to pray for.

3. My kids are an awesome ministry. I used to feel like I never got enough time with my kids. Every chance I got to spend with them was precious. I rarely got tired of them or needed a break from them because I had too much time away. Now...well, sometimes they drive me absolutely nuts!!! But a few weeks after I had Baby Jay we were at church...I had quit my job, but I was still struggling to let it go. We had a silent prayer and reflection time that evening, and as my head was resting on the table, I had this beautiful picture of Jesus come to mind...bright and shining and his arms were open wide. Three people were running to Him...and I realized they were my kids! They seemed to be all grown up but still children at the same time. Hard to explain. They were just so beautiful, too- laughing and running into his arms. That was so encouraging to me. When the days get long and I feel like I'm a crappy, grumpy mom, I know that God has promised me that wonderful things are in store for my kids through Him. I am exactly where I need to be right now. I know Annabelle's only 5 and doesn't truly understand Jesus' sacrifice for her yet, but when she prays and thanks Jesus for his death on the cross, I know she means it with her all her little heart. She loves to dance and sing about God. She knows that He protects, loves, and provides for her. Priceless...

Over the past year we adjusted to a new baby and life with 3 kids, had some growing (shrinking?) pains as a church, Frank's sister and my sister welcomed their first children into the world, Frank started seminary classes, Frank's dad had scary health issues, I got my first random physical ailment (or whatever Bell's Palsy is), my parents started a new adventure in life and are preparing to move, the church just moved to our own building...as usual, life is not boring!

But God has given me some great gifts this year to help me get used to my stay at home status. I learned that I can indeed cook without killing anyone. I got back into running after a decade of inconsistent exercise (That's putting it kindly!). I have read more than I have in years. The kids and I have had some mini adventures to the library, the lake, planting a garden, visiting friends, and other things that we just never had the time to do before. I have witnessed pretty much every day of Baby Jay's little life and he has been such a joyful baby! I started reading blogs and then writing my own as a new creative outlet. Out of that has come numerous friendships that keep me laughing, encouraged, and spiritually challenged. I have had the chance to deepen my friendship with my pastor's wife and that has been such a major blessing. I have had the chance to reconnect with the gals in my women's group here in town. There is so much to be thankful for these days.

So my sweet Baby Jay may not remember his first birthday, but I will look back on his first year with a lot of praise and thanks to God. He's the One who stays the same when life seems to change by the minute.

Friday, July 10, 2009

I Love the Baby Cows

Welcome back to another edition of Random Post Week! As I was taking a bike ride this evening (fairly free of malicious dogs, I might add), I rode by our lovely 4H fairgrounds. Tomorrow is the start of the fair and things had that bustling feeling of expectation. I LOVE the fair. Eat a little fattening food, chance my life on the carnie rides... But my hands down favorite thing to do is visit the animals and hope that I will get to see a baby cow.

Now, I know they are really called calves. And although I've lived in small Indiana corn-growin' towns pretty much my entire life, I have not had much farm experience. So bear with me, I just love to call them baby cows. I love their big soft eyes and gangly legs...their velvet noses and slurpy tongues. I was totally in love with the calf Norman in City Slickers.

Why? I have no idea. I like animals okay, but I tend to like people better. My earliest memory of cow love started when I was a kid and I made up these animals called Wrinkle Moos. They were much like the cattle with the big horns, but they had shaggy fur and were wrinkled like a Sharpe dog. I used to tell my sister they were out in the backyard, and when she would look I would say they had disappeared. It kind of was our inside joke and made no sense (like most inside jokes, the more non-sensical the better!) and we were probably way too old to be doing such silly things; it lasted way into high school! But...the "moos" became kind of a thing with us. We fondly called each other mooheads and still do to this day.

And out of this was born the habit of mooing at the cows out the car window as we passed by fields. And if there's a baby or two running around...I get a little giddy. Frank seemed to accept this rather nonchalantly when we were dating (to his credit), and two of the cutest little cows adorned our wedding cake. On our honeymoon there was a pasture behind our rented log cabin. One evening after a rainstorm the cows were standing in the mist right by the fence. We stood and "talked" to them for awhile at sunset and it's one of those memories of just complete and utter peace that I have. (udder/utter...yeah...I just noticed that...)

Love cows. LOVE THEM.

So fair week is upon us and I will stalk the cow stalls and some 13 year old will wonder why an otherwise seemingly sane woman will ask them if she can pet their calf and she will get a happy goofy grin on her face and her three small kids will get tired of the cows before she does...

But sometimes you just gotta stop and moo.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Recycled for Your Reading Enjoyment

This morning I started thinking about some of the songs I wrote awhile back thanks to my ever creative friend Katdish. I have a couple of posts swimming around in my thoughts in their tadpole stage, but I don't have quite the time or patience to grow them into frogs today. (That was a really weird analogy.) So I thought I'd post some of my song lyrics from back in da day. Here's a song I wrote for Frank the summer we were engaged, exactly eight years ago. A lot seems to have happened in eight short/long years! But what I still like about this song is that Terre Haute is included in it. Who knew that we would still be making our mark there 8 years later?


Painting


Old town, broken down
Past its prime
Not much to do
But sit and whine
About the train that's keeping me awake
Some days I think I've had more than I can take
Then I see your face
You remind me that things can't be that bad

You and me, Babe
We'll paint this town
You and me
Painting with memories

Driving, singing our favorite songs
Laughing, playing all day long
Of course, it's just Saturday
All days can't be that way
But if Saturday is all I have with you
That would be enough for me

You and me, Babe
We'll paint this town
You and me
Painting with memories

You remind me
Things can't be that bad

You and me, Babe
We'll paint this town
You and me
Painting with memories

Old town, broken down
We'll paint it red

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spaghetti and Irony

Sometimes I'm not sure I know a whole lot. But I know that kids love spaghetti. Here's proof:








We ate spaghetti three times last week. Didn't mean to...just kind of happened that way! But I don't think my kids minded at all. I didn't either, as something as simple as spaghetti is a little different wherever you go. These pics are from last Wednesday when we went to go visit and play with the kiddos at Ryves Youth Center where I used to work. One of the many awesome things about Ryves is that if you're there volunteering at dinner time, you are more than welcome to sit and eat with the kids, which is one of my favorite times there. You can just hang out with them and chat. Have to say the Tastiest Spaghetti of the Week Award, though, goes to our friends the Swanks who had us over for dinner. That sauce was YUMMY, Holli!

Now here's the irony. When we went to Louisville a couple weeks ago, we went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner. Guess what the kids wanted to eat? Macaroni and Cheese. Go figure.

P.S. I will do my best to try to post more than once this week and stop my blog slacktacularness...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Battling the Senses

Yesterday Frank and I guest led worship for Maryland Community Church, which we have been doing about once a month since November to help out while they have been looking for a new worship pastor. They are participating in a gathering of churches called OnePrayer. There are video messages from different pastors each week to go along with this series, and yesterday's was by Jentezen Franklin. I'd never heard of him before...odd name...had slick hair and a pink shirt...Who is THIS guy I wondered? I was getting ready to roll my eyes and listen with half an ear, (See how I am?) but WOW. I think this is just an excellent and timely message. He takes a pretty obscure and rather violent passage from Joshua (Joshua 10:24-25), and connects it to Christians today overcoming what our five senses tell us. He also encourages us to have the faith to believe that the truth found in God's Word is beyond what we can smell, feel, see, hear, and taste. Here's a bit from the end of the message, but I have a link to the whole thing below as well if you're interested. He says "stinketh" at one point and that alone is worth watching...




See the whole thing.

I think Frank and I both have been struggling with many things pulling at our senses lately. There's not one thing that huge and daunting or disturbing...but a lot of those little things seem to add up quickly to make us feel tired and defeated. It's always good to be reminded where our Center lies, but it particularly was an encouragement to me yesterday. No surprise that when Eric taught at HealingPointe last night that the two messages seemed to relate. Here's the passage he spoke on in James:


Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(James 3:13-18 NKJV)

I'm not usually a NKJV kinda gal...but did you catch that in this translation bitterness, evny, and selfishness are described as "sensual"? (That's not sexy-type sensual like I first thought...that's "of the senses" sensual.) I rely far too much on my earthly senses. Thus causing confusion and evil stuff. Thus a lack of peace. And so on. It's the times we feel like what we are smelling, feeling, hearing, seeing, and tasting are ganging up against us that we need to point to God's promises to us and say- there is my TRUTH, no matter what I feel today!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ahhhh....Parenting.

Frank and I have an observation about parenting young children..or at least our kids. It seems that for a few months everything seems the same. And then suddenly it seems like the kid will change personalities, learn all these new things and become a different new little person. The parents are left trying to adjust to the next stage and play catch up as best we can!

Up until now the kids were good at taking turns at this type of thing. One would be changing but at least the others would stay the same. Lately it's like all three have decided to change at once and it's become more than catch up. It's chaos management!

My little girl is turning into a big girl. She no longer needs Silky, the slip turned security blanket. I "caught" her watching Suite Life of Zach and Cody the other day. Up until now, shows like that were distained as "shows for teenagers," and I was asked to turn the channel. I am also getting daily questions about dating, marriage, and how old you have to be to have a baby. (Run away!!) I'm beginning to suspect she's getting bored with life at home, too. For some reason, Mommy and little brothers are not quite meeting all of her social expectations. Can you be a moody teenager at 5 years old? I think she'll be really happy to make some friends her own age at kindergarten soon. Makes me sad, but happy, but sad again.

My Joey in the Middle is on his own "big boy" journey. For a child who refused to acknowledge his third birthday and wanted to stay a "little boy" for months and months...he now is excited to proclaim that he is 3 and a half. (Well, almost. I'm not bursting the bubble and telling him he still has a couple weeks until the official 3.5.) The potty and underwear- both former evil enemies- have become sudden friends. This is a good thing. This is a bad thing. He's become really proficient at number 1 in the potty. Number 2 is still a mystery not yet realized. This results in a lot of washings of cars and dinosaur underwear. Sigh. Probably too much info, but such is the life of a pre-school mom! Joey is also much more confident in some things. He's been so brave about getting in the pool. He was scared to death of it last year. He's no longer content to watch his sister play on the computer or the Wii. He wants a turn, too! This results in a lot of sibling fights these days. But the little boy in Joey still lives in his little imaginary universe a lot and likes his cuddle time.

Baby Jay is now Big Baby Jay! Well...he was never that little...but gone is my baby baby. I used to be able to lay or sit him somewhere and get stuff done. Haha. Those days are gone! He's a crawling pro and has just started pulling himself up on furniture so he can get into more stuff. It's so great to see his little personality developing. He's fascinated by the dog, a bug, the TV- everything! He's so sweet when he claps his chubby hands or gives a hug or says "Da, da, da!" But trying to keep things out of his mouth and protecting him from falls is a non-stop job. And when he's not on the move, it's food time. His six teeth are getting a good workout these days. He prefers feeding himself table food now, thank you very much. If we're eating something, he wants it NOW.

So between answering relationship questions on a 5 year old level, potty trips and retrieving God-only-knows from my baby's mouth...I don't seem to be getting much else done lately, including blogging. But we've adopted a pretty good motto around here:
"You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit."

At first I thought it was just a fabulous way to stop the "It's not fa-aaaair"s and "Whyyyyyy"s around here. But it's very good advice for me, too! True on many levels. Even though I'm a pretty good fit-thrower...it's hard to give those up, darn it. But most of me knows that soon we'll settle into a new normal. And all too soon my kids will not need me 24/7 and then THAT will probably make me a little sad. And a little happy. And a little sad again. It's a good thing I'm surrounded by encouraging friends and family. You all keep me from a permanent stay at the nut farm. If I haven't said it before...parenting is hard.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Not You, It's Me

Dear Blog,

I guess I haven't written in a week. Whoa. Sorry about that. Wish I could say I took an exotic vacation or organized my entire house or something, but...uh...what DID I do last week? Pretty much the same ol' stuff minus writing. Hung out with the kids. Did some housework. Did some yardwork.

I kept looking at you from time to time, hoping to have something funny or articulate to say. But nothing really was there... Usually there's a bunch of ideas competing for attention and I'll sit and write for hours if I can get away with it, but last week and right now it's just one big blank "DUHHHHH." Plus, I've been kind of moody lately and I really didn't want to take it out on you. It's not you, dear Blog, it's me. I just need some time to sort stuff out... OH! No, I didn't mean it like THAT. We're not breaking up! I still love you, Blog. We'll be together forever! I just feel like taking a break from writing for a bit. Even the best relationships benefit from some alone time now and then, right? If you love something and set it free, and it returns to you...blah, blah, blah....

No Blog, I wasn't trying to be trite or make fun of you. Sorry again. I really do love you. I just think you'll be better off without my attitude right now. So go play with the other blogs for awhile, and I'll see you in a few. I'm going to continue to leave long wordy comments on other people's blogs and wait until I feel like I have something worth saying...then...I'll be back.

Love,
Beth

P.S. I've heard chocolate does wonderful things to nurture the creative spirit.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Another Super Update Spectacular!

Erg. Sometimes I forget to give updates on the regular stuff of life going on with the fam. And sometimes I just don't have much inspiration or brain power! So here's a little of life as of lately....

1. I'm still running! My uncle just completed a marathon and my cousin's wife did the half marathon. I am nowhere NEAR doing something like this. I'm in week 5 of an 8 week running program after about....10 weeks. But I'm a lot more in shape and my chicken legs are starting to sport some actual muscles and I've even shed a couple pounds. Yay for me! I might be up for a 5 or 10K by Sept.

2. I haven't killed my flowers yet! And the corn and green beans haven't died either! My Becky Home-ecky points keep increasing. Yesssss. Which balances out the points I'm losing for being tired of cooking homemade-type meals for almost a year. I do not enjoy cooking in hot weather.

3. I really want to go camping. Frank and I keep building campfires in the backyard after the kids go to bed. Kind of fuels the "fire" so to speak. Camping with three little children might amount to more work than it's worth...I don't know...but we might try it for a night or two this summer? Pray. For. Us. We might be crazy.

4. My face is slowly getting better. Yeah, remember the Bell's Palsy? It lingers, but like I said, slow, slow improvement. Most of it I've just adjusted to, but it still kind of bugs me that I can't give people a real smile without being lopsided.

5. We have new neighbors in the ex-drug bust house. They brought a big black dog. Sigh. But so far he hasn't eaten any of my trash. So there's a cease fire for now.

6. Frank is on summer break from online seminary. But he's stayed busy keeping our vehicles running and studying for a certification test he's taking at the end of this week. Don't ask me in what. Something to do with servers. He read a sentence from his book to me and it sounded like another language...

7. The kids are growing and learning by leaps and bounds. Some days, they just seem to have grown and changed overnight! I think Annabelle's bored with home and will be more than ready to make some new friends at school in August. Joey would be happy if I let him live in the sandbox all summer. Baby Jay is keeping me on my toes. He is constantly finding new things to get into and put into his mouth. He's perfecting his "Da da da's" and Frank couldn't be more pleased. Or smug. Here's a couple recent pics:





8. The church is closing on our building next week. Woohoo! Now all we have to do is move all the stuff out of our van and our pastor's garage, do some major cleaning, do a little decorating/remodeling...yeah, just little things like that. :) But it's good to know we won't be homeless for more than a couple weeks. Here's the building. Cute, huh? A space that fits us, fits our budget, has a yard, is in a neighborhood we can reach out to and get to know... Time for HP to put down some roots!



We had to move out of our old space by the first of June, so another church in town, Father's Glory Ministries has graciously let us meet with them this past Sunday as well as next week. We had a great time getting to know them Sunday. Frank and I won't be able to go next Sunday as we've already committed to leading worship for another church Sunday...which leads me to my next thing:

9. It seems like we're all over the place lately! But that should slow down a little after next week. It's been great to see the Body of Christ in big groups, small groups, different denominations and styles. But I'm glad for a day to chill a little...I have a sore throat and am pretty wiped out today...I have no idea why. It's not like we were yelling into microphones or anything:


Friday, June 5, 2009

Behind the Music: Local Outdoor Christian Events

My friends, we have entered the festival and outdoor concert season. Tomorrow Frank, some friends of ours, and myself will be playing some tunes for Jesus Day in Vincennes, Indiana. It's been quite awhile since we've done an outdoor gig. I'm a little nervous. Is it fun to listen to music in the great out of doors in such places as parks or church lawns? Absolutely! But it increases the Something-Can-and-Will-Go-Wrong Factor by about 2000%. So while you sit in your lawn chair and send your kids to the bouncy castle so you can have 2.6 minutes of freedom from "Hey, Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM. MOOOO-OOOOMMM! Can I have some...popcorn/Coke/candy/cash/the phone/a goldfish/a shiny Buick?," the peeps on stage might be facing some of the following:

1. The Joys of Nature. If it rains...we have lots o' electricity running to expensive gear that is strapped to us that is not waterproof. That will teach you the true Fear of the Lord. If it's too hot, you sweat and complain. If it's too cold you can't feel your fingers enough to play. If it's too sunny, the music is one big unreadable white blur and I can't read the screen on my keyboard to see what the settings are. Fab-o. If there's too much wind, the music can blow away...I need some rocks or paperclips stat! If it's too dark, again, I can't read my music. Is that a "C" or a "Q"? Memorize my music, you say? Well, that would be great if I had no small children and could practice 3 hours a day...but...uh... I think a bee just stung me.

2. Schedule snafus. The people who run festivals and events are often capable and organized and hard-working and not paid. They rock. But rarely are they musicians. So it sounds awesome to schedule 8 bands that day, giving them each 45 minutes to play...but that always, ALWAYS leads to getting behind in the schedule. It takes awhile to set up and tear down for each band. And I don't usually see band leaders looking at their watches to see if their allotted time is up. This could be the one shot of fame they have, and they will play until they get the cold steely eye of death from the organizer! The result? Things get behind. Not to mention one band was 2 hours late getting to the fest because their rad WV van broke down 3 times coming from Iowa to Indiana. The time you play is probably not the time you play. But you'd better be there 6 hours early just in case... And you will have no sound check or warm up. Good luck!

3. Can You Hear Me Now? Sometimes you get a good sound check and you get to adjust all the levels of all the instruments and make sure you can hear yourself sing and the instrument you're playing. The sound tech is wonderful to work with and listens to your needs and responds. You have adequate time to warm up and make adjustments. When you step up to the mic, you are confident and ready to rock. Then there's the other 98% of the time. All you hear is drums and you see people's mouths moving and you desperately hope that's the right key you are pressing and the right note you're singing...

4. Pregnancy. Okay, a lot musicians probably don't face this. But I have. And while I'm not pregnant now...I have done many an outdoor gig while pregnant. It dampens the "rock out factor" a bit when you have to pee like crazy while on stage for 3 hours straight...or feel a little nauseous when you see the crowd chowing down on nachos... Good times. Noodle salad.

5. Equipment failure. Strings snap. Keys stick. Sticks break. Cords short out. Speakers blow. Fuses blow. A guitar stand suddenly collapses and you hear a deafening...CHUNGGGGGG! One minute you're having a rockin' good time...and the next there's a complete and utter blackout on stage. Yes, these are a few of my favorite things.

6. Human error. We all make mistakes; I don't care how good you are. Many times, those mistakes happen on stage. Someone plays the wrong note, sings the wrong words, forgets that last chorus we added, and the beat goes on. Most of the time. Sometimes the drummer lapses and the beat does not go on. My go-to errors are: getting too into the music or the crowd and then I forget to change the setting on my keyboard. It's a soft and somber moment in the music...when suddenly... Beth plays an incredibly loud organ note for no reason! Awesome! That didn't kill the mood at all! Or I close my eyes and bash my face into the microphone. Equally awesome! I can sing of your love forever with a bloody lip and chipped tooth!

7. Phobias. Have you ever stood on a flat bed truck? It's a lot higher up than it looks. There might be a way to climb up there. There might not be. You might be 3 inches from the edge of the Dark Abyss of Death. You might not. The stage looks like it's made of paper sacks and concrete blocks. Maybe you will fall through the stage. Maybe you won't. It's a fun game.

8. That guy. When you get a bunch of people together, especially Christians, strange things happen. Yes, there's the guy who yells "JESUS!" at every event. I don't mean that guy. I kind of love that guy. I'm talking about the guy that tells a band member's wife that hugs are inappropriate displays of affection at a youth event, assuming they weren't married. And when he found out they were married, he didn't apologize. And then he was in a skit where he hugged his wife in front of everyone. THAT guy. Of course that's a totally hypothetical situation...

So...with all the distractions, why do we keep saying yes to these things? Well, you see, it's like this. God saw fit to give me a talent and a passion to praise Him through music. I am nowhere near the most talented or most polished musician in my little corner of Indiana, but He's given me opportunities to serve and teach others a little bit about what worship looks like in our lives. Sometimes it's loud. Sometimes it's soft. Sometimes it's silly and fun. Sometimes it's reverent. Sometimes everything goes great and people worship and we get to share our hearts with people and we feel like God did big works through us and maybe they even took up an offering to pay for our gas! Sometimes everything seems like a failure and people look like they'd rather be stabbing themselves in the eye with a pencil and we just have to trust that God put us there for a reason that we'll only understand in heaven someday.

So if you see me tomorrow chasing my kids around the park, trying to keep my music from flying off the stand, sweating buckets...yeah, it's kind of crazy to do these things, and I might have 18 more gray hairs by the end of the day. But it's worth it. I will get one more day to worship with my family, some of the most awesome friends a girl could have, and a bunch of complete strangers who I will share eternity with. Now that really IS awesome. :)




Look! It's me! Outdoor event + pregnant + too sunny + music trying to escape + bouncy castle= Why did someone take this picture?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ha Ha

I've been extra serious/reflective in my last two posts. And lately it seems like I've been fighting the man at every turn. (By "the man" I mostly mean lovely institutions such as my Dr.'s billing office and my worthless insurance company...which ironically are usually women...?) So in honor of crappy weeks, how about a laugh, y'all?

Things that are making laugh a whole lot...

1. www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com
Oh my. Lots of awesome to explore here! If you don't think these are funny, you probably don't have a warped and twisted sense of humor like I do, and I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for you. Just a taste:




2. Watching literal videos on Youtube. Go ahead. Type it in the search box. It's like the music videos I've always wanted to make, but didn't even know it until now! Thanks to Marni for the sweet tip on this one.



So...what makes you laugh these days?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Home

I got to spend some time with a lifelong friend of mine the other day. We were in kindergarten together...graduated high school together...and then went our separate ways to college and beyond. But we've always managed to stay in touch and have always said that no matter how much time passes between our meetings, we can always pick back up right where we left off! Both of our sets of parents are planning to move in the near future. It got us talking about how the family changes through time. Our grandparents used to be the "centers" of our families, and now we see that role being taken on by our parents now that THEY are the grandparents. We talked about how Plymouth, Indiana, the town we spent our entire childhood no longer seems like "home."

And yet...It still does feel like home in some ways. I went to Plymouth last weekend...probably the last time I will spend with my family in the house I grew up in.

We moved in when I was 6. My biggest memory of moving was that I was very afraid that I would get lost walking to school from my new house. The old one was directly across from the playground. This house was two blocks away and I couldn't see the school from my house! But somehow I found my way. Whew! :)

Close to half of my life happened in that house. Lots of games of baseball and soccer in the backyard. Lots of plays performed on the screen porch. Lots of pioneer families took residence under the TV antennae. Lots of books read. Lots of chores done. Lots of piano lessons half practiced. Disney Afternoons were watched. Dates came to pick me up. I crashed the van in the garage. Graduation parties. Staying up too late on the computer during my college summers. You know...I could go on. It was life and a pretty fantastic place to grow up. To say I'm thankful for my parents and my childhood and the house that went with it doesn't quite run deep enough to express my true gratitude.

I went out to run on Memorial Day morning and ran to the cemetery near my parents' home. Fitting on Memorial Day, I thought, as I watched an older gentleman in a pointed military hat set up a platform for a ceremony to be held later in the day... And I concluded it seemed to be a day of memorial for me as well beyond those who fought for freedom. Mom took us on walks at that cemetery as children and we would love looking at the dates and names of the people and try to imagine what their lives were like. (Yeah, we'll just pretend that's a normal thing to do...but to this day I like cemeteries.)

Anyway...there was a certain spot in a certain corner where the little road curved to meet an old farm fence. Inside the fence was a field of flowers, and outside the fence was shaded by a row of giant evergreen trees that had branches that reached toward the sky in giant U's. I always imagined that the trees were reaching their arms to heaven, praising God in quiet reverence of those who had passed away and whose bodies lay beneath their roots, but whose spirits were with Him. It was peaceful and quiet and the grass was extra soft and dark and long...like grass tends to get in extra old and shady spots. Being a slightly morbid child, I always thought that it would be wonderful to be buried there where the trees praised God. On my Memorial Day run, that was the exact place I wanted to go by myself and remember. Except...the trees were gone. At first I thought it had been so long that I had just forgotten where my special spot was. But the fence was there. The field was there. And the trees were not. For some reason, this was the one thing that made me really angry and sad in all the goodbyes. "They" just had to go and take my trees from me, too!? Not fair! But I also kind of felt like God was was using this to say..."Time moves on, Beth! It's okay to be sad, but I have a different place for you now. I have a different place for your parents now, too. And it's a good thing. Your home is not found in houses or church buildings or even in spots where the trees praise God. Your home is in ME."

So my parents will move. My church is getting ready to move (Although that's more exciting, but it also comes with some serious work and changes!). And although in general I'm pretty horrible about moving...I'm starting to "get" that the places that we call home aren't our true home at all. Paul says it well in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. I cannot and will not ever be completely comfortable here on earth; I need to long for my true home in Heaven.

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.


Shawn McDonald says it well, too.

Home

I've seen enough to say that I know
That this old world is not my home
From lustful eyes and tainted lies, pride to hide the way that I
The way that I feel inside

I am ready to go home
I'm packing my bags and I'm hitting the road
I am ready to go home
I'm packing my bags and I'm hitting the road

I'm packing my bags and I'm hitting the road
Yes, I'm gonna run, I'm gonna run for my home
To stand in the sight of the Living God
That's where I'm longing to be

(Why stick to the lyrics on the original recording? Here's some extra lyrics he adds in the bridge of this version that I like:
I am going to head for my home
My home is not found here oh no no no
But up with the Lord, oh yeah)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Trust in the Lord, Trust in the Lord, Trust in the Lord...

Last week I attended WVLUN. No, not the Wacky Vampire League of Underwear Nightswimming. (That's next week. All you vampires out there, don't forget to bring your own undies!) I'm talking about Wabash Valley Ladies Unity Night. It's an annual event here in the "Valley" where the chicas from area churches get together for an evening of worship, inspiration, and encouragement. And simply to say..."Hey! We're Christians and it's good for us to get together and see how many of us there really are around here!" Because it is.

The last WVLUN I went to was three years ago. I had a good time. I went with some fun gals. The speaker was a very funny, cool lady(You know, the one with the Mom Song, Anita Renfroe?)...although I felt a little young for the event...and I can't say that I walked away with something that hit me hard enough spiritually to stick with me three years later.

This time, though...WOW! I got so much out of it. And I didn't seem young at all for it. So did I just age incredibly in three years? Or was it just aimed more at me? Have I just grown a bit spiritually? Did more young-ish women come this time? I have no idea. Probably some combination of all of the above. But I left with a lot to think about. Here's a taste:

1. I got to have a nice dinner with some of the gals from our church. Always good to get to know everyone better and not have to cook. :)

2. They had a worship band comprised completely of local women. Even a drummer. They rocked! It was exciting to worship in that environment.

3. I love seeing how all sorts of people are in the Body of Christ! Different denominations, ages, styles, races, traditions...out of just in the women who live in my area. This was such a tiny and limited sample of the people that have Jesus in common. Heaven will be a beautiful place indeed.

4. Our speaker was Lysa TerKeurst from Proverbs 31 Ministries. I really didn't know what to expect, so I went with perhaps lower expectations than I should of. I always fear that events like this will end up barely scratching the surface of the Bible's truths and end up kind of watered down, weepy, fluffy, and cheesy motivational speaker-y. Pretty cynical of me, huh? But she totally destroyed my cynicism. She was hilarious, real, and challenged the heck out of me. Hands down, she was the best women's event speaker I have ever heard. She used her own life stories to relate how she went from a Christianity of just following "the rules" to a true relationship with God. She told us how she obeyed God's call to adopt two teenage boys from Liberia when it did not make any sense to anyone else and was too big for her to handle. Her underlying message, I suppose, was that women can change the world and do way beyond what they think they are capable of by learning to listen and obey God's plan for your life. And it's not always a comfortable plan. God will expect us to do things that ARE beyond our ability so that we learn to depend on Him. That just sounds trite and obvious when I write it out. She did a much better job of expressing it!

It resonated a lot with ME simply because I see this played out in our stepping out to plant a church in the last 3 years and all that journey has taught us. I see it in the decision to quit my full time job about a year ago and trusting that God would help us through the "what ifs?" of our finances and all the changes that went along with it. I see it in our pastor's family that left their whole life in Louisiana to come to unknown Terre Haute to plant a church. I see it in my parents who are about to embark on their own new adventures that requires faith. And on and on. So I will keep trying to live out faith and trust in God no matter what that looks like. And I desperately hope that many other women grabbed on to that message and that they say "YES!" to God when he asks them to do something that's too hard or too big or too scary or too overwhelming.

Here's a verse she used that night and has been following me for the past month...it was the theme to my Emmaus Walk...I heard it at church this past Sunday...isn't it great when God makes it really obvious that you are supposed to "get" something? He knows that some things are easy to read or hear but can take a lifetime to do.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.