February 27, 2005

Butt prints in the sand

Butt Prints In The Sand

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
and there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,
when one must fight, and one must climb.
When one must rise and take a stand,
or leave their butt prints in the sand."

author unknown

February 26, 2005

Do you wanna dance?

I just got back from our annual church women’s retreat. Forty-five women laughing, crying, talking, singing, praying, eating, dancing. Our theme was Can I Have This Dance? We talked about joy…real joy…not fleeting happy feelings, but a deep rooted joy. Joy is more of a deep contentment that comes from trusting God through this existence that we call life.

As I was pondering the meaning of joy, I realized it was being played out right in front of my eyes. I looked at each woman there, those smiling, laughing, dancing women, and thought about the hard times they had each been through….past abuse, death of a child or husband, suicide in their immediate families, divorce, poverty, eating disorders, chronic illness, women who had survived cancer, strokes, heart surgeries and ill children, single moms, moms who were taking care of elderly moms, and some who made their own trouble through foolish decisions, which we all do, but some suffer the consequences far more greatly. I realized as I saw these women laughing, singing and dancing that they chose to trust God…they chose joy. It’s offered to each of us, but for some reason, some people do not choose to trust…they choose to be angry, to question ‘why me’, and usually they become very bitter, hard people. I have seen this too in some of the women I have known through our women’s ministry and I thought about them…why did they choose to go that way? Our retreat leader, Mary, illustrated this so well (and I'm all into word pictures, so I was all over this)….it's as if we have these beautiful dancing shoes in a lovely box up on our closet shelf but we never choose to join in the dance. We choose to remain clothed in our comfortable clod-hoppers. But once we give in and put those shoes on, believing there will be a beautiful dance, we are set free from the bitterness and regret. “You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.” Psalm 30:11

I know some of my women friends here have struggled with putting those shoes on. They were in mourning or depression or self hatred or wrapped up in guilt or pain. To read that list of hard times they’ve been through one would think we are a very dysfunctional bunch, but when you open up your eyes, you start to realize that we all go through hard times….there is no shame in it, no reason to hide it. It helps to release it and share it…it encourages others to do the same and when we do, we help free each other. One of the things that helped me the most through my own hard times, is that I saw other people who had been through my particular situations and they made it through….and they still had joy and hope. And I remember even thanking some of those people who were vulnerable with me and shared that they too had traveled through where I was dwelling. It helped set me free.

So get that lovely box down off the closet shelf, put those shoes on, put your trust in Christ and accept his invitation to dance.

As a parting thought….did you know that God sings? I never read this verse before, but when I read it at the retreat, it made my joy swell to know what he sings about…..

“The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

Now…..shall we dance?

February 24, 2005

Reminders to me

After a hard day dealing with your kid, it's good to remind ourselves *myself* of why we're doing this....?!

If you talk to your children, you can help them to keep their lives together. If you talk to them skillfully, you can help them to build future dreams.
--Jim Rohn

A child reminds us that playtime is an essential part of our daily routine.

You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
--Franklin P. Adams American journalist

In raising my children, I have lost my mind but found my soul.
--Lisa T. Shepherd

Good parents give their children Roots and Wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what's been taught them.
--Jonas Salk

All kids need is a little help, a little hope and somebody who believes in them.
--Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush; anxious for greater developments and greater wishes and so on; so that children have very little time for their parents; Parents have very little time for each other; and the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world.
--Mother Teresa

February 22, 2005

In general not real specific

We (my husband and I) are in California for a couple of days.....Costa Mesa specifically....in the land of rain and mud generally and I have so much rattling around tiringly in the old noggin that nothing will come out particularly. That sentence reminds me of Winnie the Pooh for some reason....oh bother.....I think it's the adverbs?

Anyway, our church put us up in a very nice hotel and is paying for meals and expenses for us, and surprisingly, there are a bunch of cool people here we know from Arizona, so we are having such a nice get away as well as the great conference with such radical and encouraging speakers that I am about in heaven. In a half an hour I have to sneak back in to the end of the meeting so as to pretend to have been there the entire time...ha! My rear end is thanking me though and I'm glad to have a little time alone.

So that is my entry today....I'm going to try to be more concise and compact in my entries....the last few have been horrendously long that even I won't take the time to read them. =)

February 18, 2005

Rain revival

"And the streams are all swollen with winter...winter unfrozen, free to run away now."

It's all soggy outside today. The rain came down on the snow, melted it, and it is all running down our creek now. We are getting used to hearing the creek rushing and tumbling by with all the moisture we've had this year....we open the windows to hear it and I find myself staring out at it several times a day. (The above picture is of our creek) Arizona has very few creeks or rivers that flow all year round, so we have to enjoy it while it is running. Actually we call it a creek but it's really a drainage ditch that runs through our town from the dam. The only time it has water in it is when a heavy snow melts and the water runs over the dam. It is usually a dry creek with a puddle or two from recent rains. A mosquito factory in summer and always an adventurous pathway through town for kids....it winds from the reservoir, through down town and after our neighborhood it ends up at the baseball park, a very happenin' place in a small town.

Once the police caught a small time thief because he took the creek path home from a fast food restaurant he robbed (next to the baseball park) and shed his robbery clothing as he went, also dropping cash along the way...and it led right to his home. I have seen some interesting things in that 'creek'....once 3 horses who are housed a few blocks from here got loose and were enjoying their freedom racing up and down the creekbed, their cowboy owners chasing them also on horseback up and down the creek. =) It was fun to watch but I didn't like what their hooves did to our front yard. Another time I saw this guy riding his 4 wheeler down the creek to my neighbor's house, where I suppose he was buying meth...that neighbor is gone now, along with his frequent stop by visitors.

I've also seen a tall, skinny road runner walk out of the creek one day as my husband and I were enjoying a summer afternoon on the front porch. It walked up and out of the creek, across our driveway and down our street into a neighbor's backyard. (not the meth neighbor, in case you're questioning this bird's morals) We also have a wonderful array of birds frequenting the creek puddles in Spring and Summer, including huge ravens who sit and make the weirdest noises on the telephone pole by the creek....sounds like they are percolating. Skunks and racoons must also be briefly but memorably mentioned among the critters of the creek.

There is a persistent pattern of rain and snow coming in each week lately...it is like a weather revival after a 6 year drought. The city has been discussing ways to keep our town from drying up just this past year....talking of trucking water in from nearby towns with wells, rationing our water usage with high prices and fining people who watered their gardens or washed their cars when it was not their specified day for extra water usage. Churches had special times of prayer for rain and snow. There were scalding editorials about how the golf course stayed so green while the rest of the town was drying up. There was a huge scandal when a bed and breakfast inn was caught diverting city water through their well pump house and into their inn for free. People were getting desperate. So it was no surprise when the paper ran this front page headline when the rains began this Fall.....Ask and Ye Shall Receive!! I think our town learned a lot during the time of drought, including putting some safe guards and extra resources in place if this should ever happen again. But it's also about faith and hope....knowing through the hard times, the doughts, that things will get better and coming to the place where we know it's a special blessing just to return to 'normal' much less to be innundated with an abundance of what you've been lacking.

People are funny though....as soon as we go dry again, there will be great concern and tribulations and wonderings if it will never end. And we should be concerned. Water is the stuff of life. None of us can do without it, it is vital, necessary, undowithoutable! Yet we usually take the presence of it for granted. The Giver of life, the Sender of water, the Sustainer and Provider wants us to look for more than what we see. He wants us to look for Him, to put our hope, faith, trust and life in Him. Yet we do not seek Him until there is an emergency, as our last resort. A friend of mine who really has no religious persuasion told me thank you for our church praying for rain and snow. My husband, a pastor, was in a shop this summer too when a woman we know who is a self proclaimed 'pagan' and worships the earth as her religion was asked what we were going to do about this drought. She looked at my husband and admitted, "The one you should be asking is him." She of course meant it in a good way, that he somehow had a connection with the giver of rain that ordinary people don't. I guess if I were in charge, I might send a few wake up calls too (maybe weather related wake up calls?)....'hello, I'm here...you need Me....look to Me and find your salvation.'

It reminded me of this verse from 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, wherein the Israelites were needing reminding *again* to look to God for help and life....

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."

I just wish we weren't so stupid. I feel like I'll never take water for granted again.....but then....I'm stupid, so I probably will in time. I'm just so glad and thankful for the weather revival we're having.....and I can't help hoping it will be a revival for the souls in our town too.

February 17, 2005


As I’ve mentioned before I’m way into studying the Jewish Feast Holidays and their meanings for Christians. The old prophecies and symbolism of the Old Testament make the whole Bible come together and mesh. Our school kids are doing reports for Easter and some are on the Passover meal. I can’t get over the beautiful symbolism that goes along with the seder meal, one being the Redemption cup and the Afikoman matzoh bread. During the Last Supper they were actually observing the Passover seder meal. Jesus took what we believe was the Afikoman, broke it and passed it around, saying “Take and eat; this is my body.” The 3 pieces of matzoh in the seder represent the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Afikoman, the middle matzoh, represents the Son and is broken, wrapped in linen and hidden until one of the children present finds it and brings it back to the table. The symbolism being that Jesus was broken, wrapped in burial linens and found alive again. Cool, eh? Then Jesus took what we believe must have been the cup of redemption, the third cup in the seder meal, and passed it around and said “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Of course, Jesus is our redemption and it is by His shed blood that He redeems us.

All this to say…..Communion has such a deeper meaning for me now that I know the background and I thought I’d share some thoughts on it. It is through Jesus’ sacrifice (the Lamb of God) that we have forgiveness of sin and therefore peace with God. And all He asks of us is that we believe He is who He said He is….and follow Him.

(A Communion Blessing From St. Joseph's Square)

Though we're strangers, still I love you
I love you more than your mask
And you know you have to trust this to be true
And I know that's much to ask
But lay down your fears, come and join this feast
He has called us here, you and me

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls
This drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And though I love you, still we're strangers
Prisoners in these lonely hearts
And though our blindness separates us
Still His light shines in the dark

And His outstretched arms are still strong enough to reach
Behind these prison bars to set us free

So may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the drought has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In this Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

And may peace rain down from Heaven
Like little pieces of the sky
Like those little keepers of the promise
Falling on these souls the draught has dried
In His Blood and in His Body
In the Bread and in this Wine
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you
Peace to you
Peace of Christ to you

by Rich Mullins

February 14, 2005

The greatest love

It is said that Valentine's Day is in memory of a follower of Christ who would not renounce his Lord and died a martyr. His farewell note to the jailer's daughter, with whom he had established a friendship was signed, "From your Valentine." There are a lot of things people call love these days. Some quite twisted and some simply misguided or superficial......but I don't think anyone can argue with this definition of true love:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not selfseeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

February 12, 2005

Snow showers/baby showers

I woke up this morning to snow…it was beautifully coming down, covering everything with a clean coat of white. I would have been so thrilled and it would have put me in such a good mood…usually. However, this morning I had to go to a baby shower. This is the baby shower I was supposed to get a gift for yesterday. I went rushing after school to the next town over, 30 miles away, specifically to buy a gift for the new mom, then came home 3 hours later with groceries, produce, Walmart bags, a new Gameboy game for my daughter Emma, who was spending birthday money, but no baby gift. I realized this when I was almost home, but was already running late for a Valentine’s banquet that night, so there was no going back. The snow was coming down pretty hard by time I had to leave for the shower, so I put on boots. (this turned out to be a good move) Meanwhile I was racking my brain to remember WHO I had told I would give a ride to. I called several friends…no, they didn’t need a ride…but I knew someone had asked me. Hmmmm Thankfully, our grocery store has begun carrying gift cards for various stores and restaurants in a nearby big town, so my daughter Bethany and I stopped by and got a gift card for dinner out on the town for the baby’s mom and husband…and I was even running on time. Cool. Now for the reason I dreaded this shower in the snow…..the hostess lives up on a big hill. I’m talking major incline, scary hill. I got halfway up the street that leads to this hill and began sliding backwards…….waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, Rickyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!! *that would be my Lucy imitation* When I came to a stop I realized my friend Elaine was sitting in her car right beside where I had stopped…ha…so we parked and walked up to the house together. My daughter was not as prepared as I was in my boots however, and had to walk in snow in 3 inch platform flip flops! No sooner did we start to walk though and one of the husband’s stopped and we piled in for a ride up to the house.

The shower was fun, the brunch was yummy, the baby was a peanut and cute…all was well. We only had one activity at the shower…..I dread ‘activities’ at showers…they usually involve at least slight humiliation and/or work for the attendees or the showeree (who wants to work at a party? Can’t we just sit here visiting and munching?)…but it was a good activity. We wrote on cards any advice we had for a mom of a new baby boy. (She has 2 little girls) As we were there and I was observing her with her 3 little children, all 2 and under, I remembered how hard it was as a young mother with 3 children, all little and dependent on you and keeping you busier than you’d ever been in your life just to meet their basic needs for one day! And mine were all 2 years apart, so I was really sympathizing with her, hers being only 1 year apart…they are really all still babies. I remember not getting a shower because they wouldn’t take a nap, having to pack to the hilt to go anywhere, the frustration of feeling trapped at home instead of being free to go and do. But looking back, it all went so quickly….my little ones I had so close together are all teens. Now I’m the one who needs naps and I beg to get to stay home and NOT have to ‘go and do’. I still can’t get a shower some days though, as there’s a struggle for the hot water while it lasts these days.

Oh, I don’t want to go back to those days…I really enjoy my kids’ independence and love that they are turning into real friends for me and for each other now. **usually** But it reminded me that some of the times in life are hard to get through. It comes in waves or seasons, but it always is changing ….the wave breaks and dissipates or the season changes as we reach another stage of life. Each stage or event has it’s struggles and triumphs. But we make it through…either bitter or better we make it through. And ,that is a relief while you’re going through it….it gives you hope to know that others go before you and they all seem to make it. I like to set my eyes on the ones who have made it gracefully and try to figure out how they did it. And although I can’t say all my transitions or seasons have been so graceful, I can say it’s all been good…even the hard times….it all makes you grow, learn to trust, and gain faith and hope.

We were almost the last to leave and as I stepped out onto the front porch, I realized the snow had stopped and the slippery slush had melted into innocent little streams of water, rushing here and there. We hiked back down to the car and I realized it had been worth it to venture out on this snowy, messy morning ….what had seemed such a hard task had melted away with the slush and become a fine day. I had been tempted to turn back, to give up and go home when I began sliding on the hill trying to reach our destination. It would have been the easy thing to do (and I do like easy)….but now that I’m through it, I realize it wasn’t as hard as it had first seemed and it was worth all the effort…and not just for me…it was worth it to be there for this new mom who needed to see we all make it, we just have to hang in there, ride those waves and enjoy the beauty of each season!

February 9, 2005

Let's all give it up.....for Lent!

Lent....something of which a lifetime Baptist is a little ignorant. I remember growing up in suburbia with Catholic friends coming home on Ash Wednesday with smudges on their foreheads....curious. Then the thought that they had to eat fish on Fridays.....horrid! None of them could reasonably explain these mysteries and so I didn't think much about it until the past few years. Now when I see the ashes smudged on foreheads, I think of sackcloth and ashes...of grief over one's sin in preparation of the Easter season.....remembering a Savior's suffering for my guilt. It is a good thing, the Lenten season. It's good to set aside 40 days of reflection, prayer, fasting to prepare for Easter.

As a mom and teacher, I've been searching for years on how to make Easter a truly spiritual celebration instead of just a fluffy Springtime holiday. The past few years I have been studying Passover and the rich theological comparisons and prophecies about the perfect Lamb of God. If you've never done that, I recommend it. =) Although the Passover studies have been really enriching and meaningful, Lent causes great personal reflection and action...it's a time of growth and sacrifice....and things that cause change.

So at the school we are observing Lent and preparing ourselves for a celebration of the most amazing event in history....the Ressurection of Christ. I would absolutely love it and be really really, if not eternally, grateful for any suggestions you may have on observing the Lenten season....especially if they are for kids' activities or devotions for kids.

So repent and be baptized,
prepare ye the way of the Lord,
behold the Lamb of God
and let's all give it up for Lent! =)

February 8, 2005

Old floors new again

Well we got home fine Saturday afternoon, but were really shocked as we came into our house. We live in a house provided by our church, which my husband is pastor of....don't know if I've mentioned that before. It has been their parsonage for at least 20 years, a very very nice house with lots of room for our family and big yard, but the carpeting was original from 20 years ago and was becoming really unbearably tattered and worn. So the church was planning to refloor the house sometime this year. We found out upon arriving Saturday that the carpet was gone and we had a nice wood floor and tile in other parts of the house!!!! What a beautiful surprise! I've been walking around the house just looking at the flooring and how it makes the whole house seems cleaner and nicer. The weird thing about it all is knowing that all these people were in my house and seeing all my unkept places and general unorganizedness. *shudder* It only had me freaking out for about 2 days though, now I am fine...unless I really think about it, then I start shuddering again. On Sunday morning there were lots of tears and smiles as we thanked everyone and found out just how many people had helped and put their all into it. It was a real blessing....and it gave me a pastor's wife story to scare younger pastors' wives with...heh heh.

I have been in overdrive ever since getting home though, with a Superbowl party Sunday night and then starting back helping at school Monday morning. So now I will try not to neglect my blogging duties and get some creativity flowing here. A lot of people have been telling me they are reading the blog...and that inspires me...wow, an audience!....I love to have an audience. =) If you can and want to, please drop me a note by way of the comments button, so I'll know more of who is reading and what you think. I appreciate your reading this and will try to be more entertaining than today. *yaaaawn*

PS...one of the really entertaining things *to me* about having wood floors is seeing my dogs go sliding around when they come in all hyper. I love to get Millie running by starting to run myself...she can't resist a moving target....when she starts really running, I turn around and catch her as she sliiiiiiiiiides into my arms...ha!

February 4, 2005

crickl lost her groove

I lost my groove about midway through the Texas panhandle today, driving down Interstate 40. I was typing away at the paragraph below when we stopped at a Love’s travel plaza. We went to make a pitstop and I thought I’d see about a fountain drink. While filling my 16oz paper cup with Diet Dr Pepper, I overfilled and the sticky stuff went down the side causing me to quietly exclaim “Rats!” A trucker standing there said, ‘Better watch that stuff, lady’ *very funny…grr * So I walked up to pay for it and set it on the counter and almost in slow motion, my hand swished by and knocked it over, spilling it all over the girl trying to ring it up and under her register. *grr* The trucker who saw me over fill the same cup was conveniently stationed to my right at the counter and chuckled while saying, ‘You’re just having a lot of trouble with that thing today aren’t you’ ….I gave a polite nod and semi amused smile, then went to refill my cup. Kind of irritatedishly, I jammed it under the ice spout, simultaneously hitting the Coke dispenser, sending a cold stream of sticky Coke syrup down the inside of my sleeve. I was quite proud of myself for not throwing the dreadful cup on the floor and jumping up and down on it while screaming ‘Stupid, STUPID CUP!!! AAAAAAAAAARRGG!!!!’ Instead I found a dispenser of napkins, I took one and about 5 napkins fell out, floating to the floor…..it is not my day…I already have chocolate malt spilled on my kaki pants btw. Just not cool….or graceful….or even remotely lady-like. But I found my sense of humor finally and laughed and shook my head......then I carefully…oh so carefully capped my cup and wiped it off and made it to the counter and out the door without any more humiliation or stickiness. I think west Texas threw off my groove man….seriously….

They really need to put a warning label on that stretch of highway through the Texas panhandle. *Warning: may induce sleepiness with an extreme desire to shut eyelids. Caffeine and loud music recommended.* Soooooooooo flat…..when you see a windmill or farm house on the horizon, you can’t help but have a faint feeling of hope and try to focus on it and memorize it’s details. We’ve been driving all afternoon…it’s close to 5pm and the sun will go down just as we past Amarillo. Amarillo is like a milestone to travelers on Interstate 40. “At least we’ve made it past Amarillo, we should stop at Brahm’s to celebrate….cherry limeades all around…yee haw” lol There are however, a few things to see on I 40. In Groom, Texas you can see the largest cross in the western hemisphere…which kind of makes you wonder where the largest one in the eastern hemisphere is! ……it is made of what looks like aluminum and you can see it from at least 8 miles away on the horizon. I wonder if the guy who thought of this had recurring dreams with a voice repeating hauntingly, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ We stopped there once, it was at sunset and got some really cool pictures of it against the sky lit up with one of those blazing western sunsets. There are the ‘stations of the cross’ around the bottom of the cross done in life size bronze statues and verses on plaques to go with it. It really is a cool place to stop, especially when you’re in danger of road daze and need a break.

Just west of Amarillo is Cadillac Ranch….something that has been there since I was about 12 at least. Eight Cadillacs of ascending years (I think late 50’s, early 60’s models) planted in the ground in the middle of a field, front end in the ground at an angle and right in a row like dominoes. I wonder if that farmer really thinks he’ll get a good crop of Caddies some year. =) There is also a smathering of interesting advertisements….like the predictable humongous cowboy tipping his hat to advertise a motel, several larrrrrrrrrge cow statues to tempt you to eat steak, but when you’ve just driven past stockyards that smell beyond what you’ve ever dreamed of smelling before I don’t think the average person is thinking ‘Mmmmm, gotta get me somma dat’. You could almost taste the air as we drove past the stockyard west of Amarillo today….ish.

Well that’s the news from Amarillo folks….where the cowboys are tippin their hats, the cows are smelly and Brahm’s is always ready to serve up a tart cherry limeade. (In case you recognized that sign off, we also try to find The Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keilor on radio stations as often as possible while driving.)

We are now past Tucumcari and hope to make it to Moriarity for the night. We should be home tomorrow afternoon and I’ll feel more at ease with a few trees and mountains around me, although I enjoy the sweeping skies and mesas and canyons of New Mexico. Strange how the prairie makes me feel so vulnerable and ill at ease. I think this is where they invented the words ‘forlorn’ and ‘forsaken’ ….. my husband loves it though and feels quite peaceful and at home on the prairie. I have no idea how to analyze this…..maybe it’s my more tactile nature and need more scope for the imagination. Maybe he’s just nuts…..we may never know. =)