Mar 31, 2013

The Longest Pause

This morning in church we sang "In Christ Alone".  It is such a beautiful song.  It should really be called the Easter Song.  It is perfectly fitting of the Easter story.
So we started off singing.  A little drums, piano, bass, guitar, saxaphone...



In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
'Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the World by darkness slain.......


And then came the longest pause. The music quieted, the drums fell silent, no words were sung.  It was the longest pause in the history of all long pauses in a song.  I felt myself holding my breath.  I was on the edge of my seat.

If I didn't know the story I might have yelled "oh no!  What happens next?  Where will your hope come from now that he is in the tomb?  Where will you get your strength?  Is that all?  Did he just take away all my sin and then die?"

Andy, our music pastor, started to play the guitar again and he said those words we were all waiting to hear "oh but he didn't stay in the tomb".

The music grew a little louder and then comes the rest of the story!


Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again!

Then there was another pause, not so long, and most definitely not uncomfortable.  This pause was to give everyone a moment to feel the words they just sang.  He rose.  Just as he said he would.

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand

The longest pause made me think about those three days he was in the tomb.  I was getting anxious during the song.  Come on Jesus get out of the tomb!  I can't imagine what the disciples were thinking during those long three days.  Maybe they were like me saying "no, wait, the song can't end here, we haven't got to the best part yet".  The song didn't end there.  It came back with a vengeance.  Drums, guitars, piano, voices...shouting the gospel that Jesus burst forth on that glorious day and rose!

Like I said.  Really great song.  Absolutely perfect for Easter.








Mar 30, 2013

3 to Go!

Matt is finishing the first week of his last three classes to complete his Bachelors of Science in Aeronautics! It has literally taken him 17 years.  He has a good excuse though, he's been a bit busy.
I remember him taking his first classes way back when we were stationed here in Ft. Lewis the first time around.  Vietnam History and Speech I think.  Way back then, we had no idea that he would end up declaring a major in Aeronautics. He was 20, a Private in the Army, and taking classes to improve his chances of getting a good job when he got out.  At the time, he thought he was getting out after just 3 years.
Oh how things changed!
He took classes here and there when he had a schedule that allowed for it.  Before the days of on-line classes, that meant he had to not be deployed or have flights scheduled during class time.  In Fort Campbell he took some lunch time classes, he has taken weekend and night classes as well.  On-line classes really helped him speed through the last 11 classes.
We have been so blessed to have paid very, very little for his college education.  The Aeronautical University that he attends assessed his flight school coursework and gave him college credit for those military classes.  That year of flight school basically ended up being applied to his degree.  We also have benefited from Army Tuition Assistance for every single class he took until these last three.  Army TA paid for 75-100% of his tuition.
Recently, Army TA was suspended for budget purposes, then a few weeks later it was reinstated.  Well, Congress decided it SHOULD be reinstated.  However, it hasn't been reinstated yet and we think it is in Matt's best interest to just finish now.
I'm confident that Matt would have never taken any classes while also working full time and being a husband and dad if the classes were not essentially free.  So, I am so thankful for Army TA and the opportunity it has provided for Matt.  I'm also so very very proud of Matt for working so hard to take college classes while working full time with often odd hours.
Three to go!  I'm so excited for him to finish!  He's worked hard.
Time to start looking for a frame for that diploma!

Mar 29, 2013

Morning Prayers

Every morning I pray with the boys on the way to school.
Gabe announced that when I pray he has a good day, he inevitably ends up having a bad one.  So he has requested that I don't pray "for a good day".  I don't anymore.
I typically thank God for the weather, getting to school on time and a good start to our day, then I pray for the boys to have fun, learn a lot, and be good friends and good students.  Sometimes if there is a specific issue they are dealing with I pray for that.  We also read a quick devotion on the way to school and sometimes I tie that in to my morning prayer with the boys.
Today, Eli asked to pray.
He prayed that Gabe have fun at school, for himself to be a good student, that dad would "have a good day at work even though everyone else is off today and he has to stay the night and for mom..... (long pause) .... and that mom has a good day...... (long pause).... shopping."
Great.  That is what he thinks I do all day while he is off at school and dad is off working.
Never mind that the house is usually clean, he has food to eat, and clean clothes to wear.  Never mind that I'm running 20+ miles a week as I train for a 1/2 marathon.  Never mind that I go to bible study, volunteer three days a week, and manage our household finances.
"Dear God, help mom have a good day......shopping".

Nice.

Since he did pray I have a good day shopping....seems appropriate for me to head out and look for some cute Easter shoes!

Mar 28, 2013

I live in a state where the populous has decided that all people regardless of race, religion, sex, or socioeconomic status should be allowed to marry any other person regardless of race, religion, sex or socioeconomic status.
This fact doesn't really affect my daily life.  Sure, I see same sex couples around town, but their legal relational status is not known to me.

I think the Bible is pretty clear in God's design for marriage.  God created man, saw that he was lonely, and then created a woman who would be a suitable helper for him.  Then they were told to multiply. God put them in the Garden and told them to rule over all the plants and animals on the earth. And everything was perfect.

Last year I read a fabulous book by Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage.  In the book Keller writes about a translation issue with regards to "suitable".  The Hebrew definition of "suitable" is "like opposite him" another translation says "counterpart" which can be defined as "one of two parts that fit, complete or compliment the other".  I'm not making this stuff up people.  Two parts that fit.  I love this visual.

Before sin, the only picture we have of marriage is the one God provided in Genesis.  Adam and Eve in perfect peace.  They lay naked together and there was no shame.  They knew each other as intimately as possible and they were perfectly comfortable together as complete counterparts.  Beautiful.

However, after the apple snacks, things changed.  Now there would be shame with each other and before God.  The first thing they did was hide because they were scantily clad.  This is symbolic of those dark places that we don't want anyone to know about.  After the sin everyone had all sorts of things to be ashamed of!  Our great heroes in the Bible were guilty of murder, adultery, lying, child abandonment, unbelief, denying Christ, disobedience, pride, lust, anger, and unfaithfulness to friends, spouse, and God.  I could go on and on but the point is, after sin entered into the picture, a whole bunch of things fell out of order including marriage.

Marriage was in disorder.

Marriage IS in disorder.

People who are of the same sex and want to be married haven't caused the breakdown of "marriage".  Heterosexual couples have been breaking down marriage for decades.  People enter into and pull themselves out of marriage covenants without really taking into account the cost.  People cheat, people lie, people are unkind and competitive.  People put their marriage second or third or fourth in the line of priorities.  People do not regard their spouse in the way that God desires them to.

God's design for marriage is MORE than just a man and a woman in a garden.  His design was for a man and woman to serve Him and serve each other.  His design was for marriage to be the most important earthly relationship anyone would have.  For this man and this woman to be the physical representation of God's love for us.  Together to be complete.

I'm not overly concerned with the Supreme Court ruling on marriage.  God designed marriage, not the Supreme Court and God's law governs marriage not the law of the land.  It doesn't matter if marriage is legal or not in any state or country, marriage as God designed it to be is not a legal status, it is a holy covenant.
I believe when God looks at a "married" homosexual couple, he does not see marriage as he designed it to be.  However, I also believe that God looks at a whole lot of "marriages" and doesn't see the relationship as the covenant that he designed it to be.
There is a lot of focus on who should be in a marriage not designed by God and rather little on the design of marriage.
I wonder, if Christians were as concerned about marriages between a man and woman being in line with God's design as they are about marriage between two of the same sex being Biblical, what would happen to marriage?



Mar 25, 2013

Pain in the ....

I have this weird leg pain that I have a difficult time describing.
Where?
It is kind of on my shin, but not really, more to the inside of my leg than smack down the middle on my shin. Not the back of my leg on the calf muscle. More like the inside calf muscle, but only half-way up, not at the heal or ankle.
What?
What kind of pain?  Random shooting pain, and almost every step I take, and often when I am just sitting down.  Kind of all the time but in different ways.
When?
Lets go with about 2 weeks.
How?
No clue.  My best guess is that this is some running injury issue.  Or maybe I turned 36 and my leg decided it was too old to be running but it didn't reveal itself as an injury until I started running again.

I've been diagnosed (by random non-professionals) as having shin splints, a pulled achilles, hairline fracture, and tight muscle.

It hasn't stopped me from running yet.  It still hurts when I run, but by mile 5 or 6 I can't really feel my legs anymore anyway so no worries.

The real problem is after I run.  Holy moly cow.  That is when this bone/muscle/tendon/psychosomatic issue really starts to kick in.  In addition to a lot of stretching before and after runs, long hot showers, drugs, and paying my children unfair wages to rub my legs, I decided to take my pain relief to the next level: topical rub.

HUGE MISTAKE.
Aspercreme. That was my topical medicine of choice.  Why?  It was on sale.
I stopped by Safeway and picked up the tube of doom around 8pm on Saturday.  2 hours after I completed my 8 mile run at a 9:20 pace (its like a Kenyan's mall walking pace, but super speedy for me).  I decided the throbbing discomfort was not something I was enjoying and since I was out anyway, I stopped by for some magic ointment.  I carefully applied a THIN layer of aspercreme gel to my legs and then sat back and waited for my legs to escape the earthly pain and find a happy place.
Over the next hour or so my leg muscles were magically healed....or maybe not.  Maybe the fact that my flesh was on FIRE just masked the leg pain.  My skin was getting so hot, I had to open a window.
I went to bed and I am not kidding you I couldn't let my legs touch each other without flames shooting out of the sheets.  It was like flint and stone or whatever boy scouts use to make fire.  One leg touching the other was igniting the most painful burning sensation ever.  My skin was burning so bad I was almost in tears.
I tried to go to sleep but between the throbbing muscle pain and the volcanic flesh, sleep escaped me.
Matt asked me the next morning why I didn't just wash it off? That is a good question.  My only answer is that I was completely afraid to.  When you add water to hot oil it splatters all over and all hell breaks loose.  This was my, perhaps irrational, fear with the aspercreme.  What if, adding water to the toxic mix of aspercreme and my flesh made it all even angrier?

So, my leg still hurts.  I think I'll make an appointment to see the doctor.  Perhaps he'll prescribe some non-fire inducing topical ointment or maybe massage therapy?

Mar 24, 2013

O Come

Today in church following the planned worship set our music pastor prayed and then started plinking out on the piano an old familiar tune.

"O come let us adore him, o come let us adore him, o come let us adore him, Christ the Lord."

If you are like me, you associate this song with a little babe wrapped in swaddling clothes surrounded by animals and worshiping shepherds. In December.
Today we sang this song and the Jesus I was singing about was walking toward calvary. He was no longer wrapped in clothes and surrounded by sweet little baby donkeys and lambs, but in torn clothing, with a crown of thorns and surrounded by scoffers.
It is a lot easier to "adore" a baby.  Babies are cute and sweet and they sleep a lot.  A man on a cross, dying for me, in my place, is more of something I want to look away from.

Just to clarify any religious issues here, I totally get that Jesus is not in a manger or on a cross but reigning on a throne.  And that is the Jesus that we are really called to come and adore.

However, its my brain and it does its own thing, and today, in my mind I was worshiping the one who paid my debt. Who, as Romans 5:8 states, died for me WHILE I was still a sinner. That was the image in my mind today. The painful image of my sins resting on the shoulders of the one who was a sacrifice for me.

I wonder.  Would I have come to the manger?  Would I have had the faith to believe that the messiah had indeed come?  Would I have come to the cross?  Would I have looked upon the broken body and adored Christ my Lord? Now, having the knowledge of the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb do I come adore my Lord in heaven?

Mar 11, 2013

Refresh refresh refresh

A helicopter went down in Afghanistan today. 5 Americans were killed. My pilot is right here at home, safe, but my mind cannot stop racing. Somewhere tonight or maybe tomorrow morning notifications will take place. I keep pulling up news pages and hitting refresh over and over again. Waiting to read the names, hoping, praying that it isn't our friend who is newly married, or our friend who is on his 5th tour, or our friend who helped us get to Mannheim a few years ago. My heart breaks for all the people who have a pilot over there, who are watching CNN and hitting refresh on their browser or waiting for their doorbell to ring. my heart breaks for whoever is getting notified. Even if I don't know them, my heart breaks for someone who's life changed today.

Mar 7, 2013

Twins?

I cannot tell you how many times strangers ask me or the boys if they are twins.  
Now that Gabe is getting taller and their height difference isn't so dramatic, I can see them passing for two kids the same age.  But twins?  I don't see it at all.  In fact, it baffles me that teachers at school get them mixed up.  They barely look like brothers to me.
Every aspect of their physical appearance and their personalities are so different!
From the top down: light and fluffy wild hair, thick and coarse flat hair. Black eyes, brown eyes.  Jacked up teeth, straight teeth.  Curvy body, tall and lean body. And their personalities....just too many differences to even count.  My point?  They are so different and I am so glad!
I'm happy that they each have different ways to make me smile and quite honestly that they irritate me in different ways as well.  I'm not sure I could handle two of either of them.  But having one of each dramatically different kids sure keeps things interesting.
Gabriel seems to be more interested in some aspects of his faith.  He talks a lot about the spiritual and emotional areas of faith while Eli is more scholarly.  Eli can often be found reading random verses in the Bible but he doesn't have much to say about any of it.
Gabriel will speak out when he sees people making choices that are flat against the Bible and he often prays for people who are on his mind and in his heart.  Eli seems to be more cautious about offending someone of a different faith and keeps his thoughts to himself.
Eli may not talk about his faith at school but he loves friends and he really wanted to invite one of his friends to AWANA with us.  It finally worked out to bring the friend and the friend has decided to come with us every week.  Although he comes, he doesn't seem to be too interested at all in learning verses, but he comes!  Eli will often bring a copy of the verses he is working on for the week to school so he can study in his spare time and has been encouraging his friend each day at school to study his verses as well.  At school this week when Eli asked his friend if he has been studying, his friend said "I don't want to talk about it right now".  Then last night on the way home from AWANA Eli asked him "are you embarrassed that you come to AWANA?"
I was trying ever so hard to eavesdrop from the front seat.  This is the one time a mini-van works against me.  It is soo big it is hard to hear the conversations in the back row!
Since my seat location prevented me from hearing what was going on, I asked Eli about it later last night.  It was then that he told me about his friend not wanting to talk about AWANA at school and he shared that his friend said that he wasn't embarrassed, he just didn't want to talk about it at school.
AWANA stands for Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed.  It is the core verse and core believe of the ministry.  The verse reminds me of  a song we used to sing in youth group way back when "no way we are not ashamed of the gospel of his name, holy hands are lifted high to the name of Jesus Christ".  I could tell that Eli was a little concerned by his friend's answer.  I'm not sure if he was questioning whether he too should be ashamed to talk about AWANA at school or if he was worried about his friend's unwillingness to talk about it.  Either way, we spent some time encouraging Eli, telling him how proud we were that he invited his friend to AWANA and that he is encouraging his friend to study his verses.
These boys are constantly surprising me.  I thought Gabe would be the one to invite friends to church.  I really never expected Eli to be the one planting a seed in a friend's life.

Mar 6, 2013

Be Careful, Keep Calm, Don't be Afraid

I feel so darn special that Isaiah was actually writing to me in chapter 7 verse 4.
"Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid.  Don't lose heart because of these two smoldering stumps"

Be careful.  Don't make decisions without carefully thinking them through.  Be careful not to react, or likely in my case over-react, but rather choose actions wisely. Not my strong point.  I need this reminder.

Be calm.  Obviously, one of my other greatest weaknesses.  I don't do calm very well. Deep breaths.  Slow my mind.  Shut my mouth.  Allow the wisdom and knowledge to guide my heart and soul rather than remind them of my error later.

Don't lose heart or don't be afraid.  I'm a complete scaredy cat when it comes to people jumping out at me, spooky music in a crime show, frogs, snakes, and jumping off high things without having been given my own personal set of wings.  But I'm really not afraid of things like dying, flying, a kid being injured.  Yeah when I think about it I get scared but I just don't usually fear those things.  I fear having to go back to work and not being there for my kids, I fear my kids riding the bus with all those mean kids and having to sit at the bus stop alone in the rain.  I fear Matt not finding an awesome job when he retires.  I fear living in the South.  I'm sorry but I do.  Those are my fears.  Thankfully, my fears are opposite of Matt's fears, so we get along pretty well.

Why? Do we not need to fear?  Because in God's eyes our enemy, the ones who plot and plan against us, the ones that seek to devour my kids, the things that threaten joy,  happiness and love in my family are merely, merely two smoldering stumps.  Not giant, strong trees...two smoldering, burned out broken down, week, useless stumps.

So, Isaiah goes on to say something about Rezin and Aram but that was really more for Ahaz than me.  I don't know those people, but I do have my own versions of Rezin and Aram.  And they are, merely smoldering stumps as well.

Today I found myself not careful, not calm and most definitely placing more importance on some burned out stumps than the stumps deserved. After I overreacted and probably made a fool of myself, I remembered those words...be careful, be calm and thanks to the Lord.. I've been forgiven.




Mar 5, 2013

Game Plan

I'm pleased to report that the boys and I came up with a game plan for our mornings a few weeks ago, and so far it is working!
We have a play book.  Everyone has a role.  We have our eyes fixed on a prize.  And in those moments when one player is still down field tying his shoe, or wiping the sleep from his eyes, the other players step it up a notch and cover his position.
And so far our team is winning!
We have a 9-2 record, which I think is pretty good considering we were a disastrous bunch last "season".
Until....we had a team dad show up at a game and start mixing things up, changing the plays and sabotaging our game.

This morning the dad flips on the light at 6:30.
Odd. Since the game doesn't usually start until 7:00.
Once the light is on, the players start to move about and assume their roles, but before player 1 goes to his position and player 2 has almost reached his, dad calls a play that has never  before been called.  He yells to the team "first one downstairs gets a donut".
What?
I'm still in the shower.  I'm not on the field yet.  I was supposed to have 30 uninterrupted minutes in the locker room before the game started.  Now, my teammates are racing through the house in a frenzy forgetting their positions.
Nearly in my uniform there is a knock at the locker room door.  A player is wounded and crying.  What has happened?  There wasn't full coverage on the field and now one of my teammates has his hair and face covered with Tillamook Vanilla Bean Yogurt.  It smells so good.  I'm hungry.
What happened?  Player 2 tossed a yogurt covered lid at player 1 and player 1 retaliated with a smack in the face with a fist full of yogurt.  Personal foul!!
I get player 2 in a clean uniform.  Assess the situation on the field and determine we need the grounds crew immediately.
We clean the field of the yogurt mess and then turn to find that while I was working on field maintenance, a whole new game has broken out in the living room.
Wresting.
The furniture has all been moved and there is an actual wrestling match going down.  My team is turning against each other.  Things are starting to unravel.
Player 1 heads upstairs to take care of the morning "duty" that was raced through with the promise of a donut looming over him.  On the way up the stairs, player 2 punches him in the stomach.  Well, that will help the duty move faster at least.
I reprimand player 2 and get him on the team bus and wait impatiently for player 1.  He arrives without his gear.  Back upstairs he goes to retrieve the rest of his equipment.
We are all finally out the door, in the vehicle and on our way.
I send the dad a text "I don't know what in the world you did today with my team, but don't you dare do it again".
Turns out dad thought more time meant a better, easier morning.  Dad is wrong.  We kicked him off our team.

Mar 1, 2013

Yes! We made it to March!

We have been in our house just a few days shy of 6 months!  Can you believe it?
I still have no less than 6 pictures leaning against a wall waiting to be hung, three shelves piled here and  there waiting to find their place on a wall and two curtain rods hoping to someday be hung.  Not to mention about 10 other things that need tweaking prior to hanging. Lame.
The drainage issue on our side yard hasn't been fixed yet by the builder, the leaking roof was fixed by the warranty guy but he never came back to put the wall up, and we have a leak in our gutter that I haven't even bothered calling about yet.  Inside and outside this place is a mess!
What am I doing with my time?
Some positive notes:
A family with three boys just moved in down the street.  Two of the kids are my boys' ages and I now have 4 loud, dirty boys playing in the yard.  I'm so happy.
Matt's job is proving to be a great experience for him.  He is working really hard, not so fun, but also being recognized for his awesomeness.  He is learning to fly a new aircraft which seems to be a wee bit stressful for him but mostly just exciting and he is still chipping away at those last few classes toward his degree.  His quest for his B.S. in Aeronautics reminds me of Andy Dufresne in his quest to break out of Shawshank.  Hopefully, he doesn't have to swim through any ditches full of poop to get to freedom.  I do the laundry around here, and I can't say that I could handle that.
I'm still trying to find my place around here but the good news is that there seems to be a lot of different opportunities for me to plug in, I've just been so busy decorating the house....er um hmmm or maybe just dragging my feet.  But lets focus on the positive... lots of opportunity when I decide to seize it!
This is our last weekend of basketball.  I'm a bit sad.  I have grown to love the 36 minutes (they are abbreviated games) of pure excitement. We are gearing up for baseball which is freaking me out a little.  This is a serious league and I'm not sure I'm ready for serious.  Eli and Matt are excited.  Practice is three times a week.  I better get a good book. However, since two of the practice times are on the weekends, I fully intend to pass off my baseball mom duties to baseball dad as much as possible!
Gabe wants to ballroom dance.  I cannot find a studio that offers ballroom dancing around here, so he may try tap.  We'll see how that goes.  I'm sure it will be simply awesome to have him stomping around the wood floor all the time. I'm absolutely missing traveling every month on a long weekend, but having the boys involved in fun weekend sports does make up for it a little.  It is great to see the boys having fun...even if that means I'm sitting on the sidelines surfing for summer vacation ideas while the boys are "matching up" and "rebounding".
March is going to be busy!  I have a feeling these next few weeks are going to fly by.  Or maybe that is wishful thinking?
I have a grand plan of taking some updated house photos.  Before I do that, I better peel the price tags off those frames I recently bought, and finish hanging the wall art.