Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Garden

Patches of color are seen from a distance, but close inspection reveals a garden overgrown with weeds, lacking in definition, suffering the effects of heavy rain with no support stakes in place, and general chaos. The beauty is lost when viewed "upclose and personal."

I like gardening, but I am not up to the job this year. It is a bit of a heart breaker; most of the plantings will survive a year without maintenance, a few will be choked out (unless some of my inexpensive help is given careful direction to remedy the situation), and some have already been swallowed up.

Our hearts need tending just like gardens. When we are unable to do much ourselves, we must find someone to come alongside of us and help us out. That is okay, too. Weeding, defining borders, mulching, pruning, staking, transplanting, watering, feeding, spraying -- the parallels are numerous. Take a good look, "upclose and personal", and give yourself an honest assessment. What maintenance work are you in need of today? Grab the tools and get started before that plant is lost to overcrowding or infestation. We want beauty that endures!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

New Departures

They are off and already the house is quiet (could that be because every one else is still sleeping?)

Louissa, Jamie, and Julia left a bit before 8:00 this morning, heading to JFK with Team Spain 2006. They will invest three weeks of their lives in the church in Spain. I know God's heart for the Spanish people and I am confident that this team will bring blessing to them.

The house has been in a bit of a whirlwind with suitcases and laundry and CDs being burned and last minute trips to Wal*Mart for all those last minute purchases. Half and hour ago there were four suitcases (David Perry, also a team member, has been staying here), several carry ons, and all kinds of instruments -- all lined up in my hallway and sitting here and there. Now they are gone. Liana, Camilla, and I will gather up the piles left behind, find proper homes for all of it, and carve out some order once again. And then...

Don't tell anyone but I think it may remain a bit quieter.

The drivers and older helpers are gone, it's true, but the schedule can be a bit more unified since the ones remaining (save Josh and Carina) will be ordered by yours truly. Still, I am not completely deceived. I know that it will be busy. Always, Patsy Cline will open soon, and rehearsals for The Sound of Music commence as well. Just the same, it will be less busy.

And that should be interesting change of pace! I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


My last post was about sowing. Sowing with a purpose, with a vision, with diligence, and with care. Sowing with His perspective in your heart and mind.

Now let me share a bit of reaping that I did last night.

Always, Patsy Cline is a show being produced by CPS, a local theater/concert venue. A gypsy rehearsal (a rehearsal open to public by cast invitation for the purpose of feedback) ran last night. Since my Carina is playing Patsy, we were all invited -- and this household was there in force. I just want to say... she was amazing. Really -- amazing.

I unreservedly recommend going. She will win your heart. If you don't already love Patsy Cline and her great tunes, you will after seeing my Carina.

July 11-15, Kingston Theater @ SUNY Canton. CPS box office for tickets. (Saturday the 15th has two shows: a matinee and an evening performance.)

Oh, Carina is not performing on the 13th -- so if you want to see her rendition of Patsy catch one of the other 5 shows!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Potter's Hand

Sometimes we all need to be reminded: we are who we are by His creation. And furthermore, the scripture makes it plain -- we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Moms, you must embrace this -- first for yourself -- for many reasons. If you do not have confidence in who you are by His design you will be ridden with doubt, subject to the enemy's tauntings, and powerless to stand against all the little voices that declare your inadequacy. You know the ones. They tell you that you don't have what she has (that sister across the aisle in church), that your friend is so much more gifted and therefore her children are better off than yours, that your weakness will be the ruin of your family, etc. etc. We compare ourselves and always come up lacking. Back to Psalm 139 we must go. For our own peace of mind, for our own advancement in the Kingdom, and for His glory to be seen, we must grasp this simple truth: God made us and He don't make no junk! We can have peace and contentment in who we are, because when we do, that actually speaks volumes to the people living in this insane and driven world. They are unable to have such peace. They are continully striving for self-improvement, but not for His glory. For their own. They seek fulfillment in such things. We, in turn, find and exhibit self-fulfillment when we embrace the truth of Psalm 139. And it is a marvel in their eyes!

Moms, you must also embrace it for another reason. You can only give what you have and your children need this truth as well. You can teach them this precious truth. Through your words of affirmation, your confidence in His creative work in their lives, and your willingness to cherish and believe in them because of His promise, you will establish in them a sure foundation that will allow them to venture forth and do great exploits for Him.

How do we do this? Where do we begin? We must cherish every aspect of His design in our children's lives -- their physical frame, their natural talents and abilities, and their spiritual giftings. "Ooh" and "ahh" every new discovery of who they are. Every newfound freckle, every inch added since that last measuring, long fingers or short (this is often discussed amongst instrumentalists -- long fingers are always desired), whether they are the shortest or the tallest -- every aspect is good if He made it. One may be gifted in academics, another in hospitality, this one musically, this one athletically. One teaches, one helps, another tends toward the prophetic. Cherish them all alike. Never speak negatively, never compare unkindly, always rejoice in who they are, and they will learn to rejoice as well. They have enough tendency within themselves to look around and find themselves wanting.

You can help them grasp the wonder of His unique design and find joy in it. They need your love, acceptance, and your confidence in His design. What a blessing that will bring to your young adult who has grown inches and now towers over his peers, or that quiet child who watches her friends maneuver in social situations easily. And conversely, another has been left behind, forever to be relegated to the front row in choir, and that social child is quickly labeled, expected to always step front and center by peers and adults alike. They find themselves wishing they could just be on the sidelines for a season with no expectation placed on them. Every one of them needs to know that they were created -- temperament, talents, giftings -- by a loving Father who has plans for them. Every day is written and they have an important part to play. It will not look like yours, their friends', or their siblings'. Every one is unique. Every one. Totally unique! Don't forget that. Don't expect them to be just the same as any one of their peers. In this cookie cutter culture of ours, that is so very hard for us all to grab onto and hold onto. But we must, because that is His plan and His plan is always the best.

So search out their strengths. Teach them to be grateful and to run with them. And teach them to rejoice in the strengths of others who are not like them -- to not put down or elevate, but to accept with joy the differences. It will free them to become all they can be and to minister greatly to others.

Who they are is in His hand. They must learn and know that there can be no better place.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Those Bored People Who Need a Dream

Some people really dislike temperament theories. I understand certain reservations, but I have found great help in considering personalities and motivational issues.

What I am realizing once again is my personal need for change. I get so bored. Try as I might to squeeze myself into another mold, this is who I am. It is no excuse for not learning plain old diligence. I know that is needed -- badly needed by this "quickly bored" individual. But after beating my head against the wall for years, I concede that I am not like that routine mom who figures out all her curriculum and never needs to change her approach. Even if the kids don't need it freshened up, I do! I used to consider that to be a mark of immaturity. I'm beginning to think that it is temperament.

I cannot often read the same book twice (though ask me how many times I have watched Parent Trap or Pride and Prejudice.) I get tired of cleaning the same old room. Rearrange it and suddenly it is a breeze to maintain, for a while anyways. In the same way, if we are doing Colonial History or European Literature again, I need a new twist.

So here it is; my new curriculum idea for the fall. I stumbled across a book at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. How To Talk To Children About Art presents 550 years of art in a simple, chronological approach. Voila!! A simple perusal presented fresh inspiration! This could be the skeleton for a year long study of the art, music, literature, and major political events of Europe. We would also follow the correlating history of the church.

You have to understand. This kind of thing excites and intrigues me. And if I am to impart enthusiasm about learning, I must exhibit some myself. Unfortunately, or not, depending on how you look at these things, that means we need something new -- something that requires creativity and invention. So I will design a curriculum around this book. I just happen to like it that way. I never was good at following.

So now I am dreaming about how to pace it, what novels and bios to include, where to find a simple presentation of church history, how to get my hands on Francis Schaeffer's How Should We Then Live? (there is a video version I think), and more.

Who knows what we will end up with come fall. But for now, the stuff of inspiration has come. And I was made for dreaming. Some of us are like that, you know.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Summer's Eve

Families gathered on blankets share casseroles and baked goodies, the moms digging deep into the baskets brought from home. The tired legs of fathers stretch out before them as they lean back in the lawn chairs, settling in for a restful evening of entertainment. Soon the fiddle gets started. Little girls with brown chubby legs, curls framing their dimpled faces, skip and run to the music. Boys with crew cuts and sandaled feet soon cast them off so their bare toes can feel the grass as they hop and prance around.

An evening at the Norwood Green Summer Concert Series (is that what it is called?) Now I know that summer has officially begun. It felt like "those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer" -- finally. I don't know how many other "lazy, hazy, crazy days" there will be. Somehow, summer is often busy. But tonight I sat in my old-fashioned lawn chair while my little man improvised a dance along with twenty other children. (He loves to dance! I can just tell that he feels like me when a beat begins and an open space beckons -- ya just gotta get up and dance!) After 30 minutes of oldtime fiddle music, the puppet show began; a melodrama complete with a villain and damsel in distress. The kids loved it. That works for me.

I looked around at the assortment of people, many who were familiar and had already exchanged greetings with me: grandparents, granola-types (lots of them, many who homeschool their children), artsy folks, free-spirited children, teenage boys with their baseball caps, preppy (not too many), quiet boys and girls who sit and take it all in, moms and dads happy to relax and enjoy a warm gentle summer evening while their kiddies are entertained.

Ah...every once in a while you need to kick back and do nothing but revel in the relaxed company of other people who are doing nothing but reveling in the relaxed company of other people. Tonight was just that.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Never ending death, at least here on earth

When the scripture says to take up your cross daily it isn't kidding. Unfortunately, too many days come and go when I fail to contemplate His will versus my own. But in His infinite faithfulness and mercy, He brings me face to face with a clear choice, and I realize once again that my flesh is alive and willful.

In all actuality, it is always willful.

Woven through our days are choices to be made, and if we are wise, we make them with Him in mind. Sometimes bowing our hearts and wills is not overly difficult. As we practice sacrifice, it becomes a bit more of a lifestyle. Choosing His way becomes clearer and simpler.

But then He reaches in, asking for a bit more of our allegiance. Ouch! We thought that our heart was completely His -- now we see that isn't true. The call to surrender has once again sounded. A bit more is brought into submission. Death comes to that secret desire, dream, or design.

Any Christian who has walked this path of sacrifice will tell you that out of such death comes life. Abundant life. Fire-filled life.

So for now, I will lay it all down once again. I will sacrifice my will so that His much more perfect will might reign in me.

I don't know about eternal death or punishment. I will leave that for others to determine (at least for now) but I do know that as long as my will is intact, I will need to embrace death. Daily.

For therein is life.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Those Turning Seasons

We all know that I can be quite sentimental. Fortunately, the Lord delivered me from the negative extremes I once experienced. But the positive side of sentimentality was the awareness of how quickly time would pass. I was never (well, rarely) guilty of wishing my life away.

I was never eager for the last day of school and even as a young child I was content to wait for Christmas morning, knowing that once those pretty presents were open some of the magic would be over.

As a new mom I was happy to experience every day of each pregnancy and I was forever hoping to put off that toddler's first step (after all, there is only one first step for each babe...) I didn't wish that they were older and more responsible -- those days would come in due season -- but for now it was this season and this season comes but once.

After each daughter married and moved out, I stepped inside their bedroom, and looked around in unbelief -- they were gone -- their tenure here was over. I was right. It had gone quickly and the pain brought by their absence was real.

Now my Louissa has graduated. She is not moving away -- yet. But the daily tutelage has ended. A season has passed. Oh, how I loved the season. How I will miss those precious days with her.

But how special the next season will be as well. I just won't hold as prominent a role in her life, and that is okay. It is an adjustment, but a good one. And sooner or later this somewhat seasoned mom will figure out how to make the most of this new season. Hopefully sooner than later...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Good Things

James 1.17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

My life today is filled with many good things. Salvation is mine, eternity is before me, His hand is upon my life.

Today He deserves my thanksgiving and praise. Today, in every moment and in all things He is worthy.

“Lord, help me to be a vessel of praise today. Let my eyes see your goodness in my life, for truly it is abundant. And every good thing is from You. I rejoice to be Yours this day.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Back Again

As we crossed Park Avenue in New York City, we smiled at each other and said how much we wished we had two more days. The sun was shining, people were passing, cars were buzzing by, and we had just finished finding wonderful things in the Metropolitan Museum of Art Gift Shop (great clearance shelves!) Nothing beats a trip to NY in my estimation.

She was the other female chaperone on the 2006 CFA class trip -- Broadway, jazz clubs, Times Square Church, Empire State Building, New York bagels, and plenty of Starbucks coffee had all been enjoyed by the 24 member team. Oh, and a cloudy day at Jones Beach which left us all with pink cheeks. The kids are the best you could hope for. They look out for each other, they pamper their teacher in the wheel chair (that would be me...), and they hang in there even when we wait close to an hour for our train only to discover that it stops running that late at night (whoops! back to the drawing board...)

Now I am home and need to focus on the piano recital tomorrow night, graduation the next, and a graduation party the following afternoon. My husband and daughter have a wedding to attend in between and theater rehearsals. So in spite of the fact that my achilles is not completely functioning, it looks like it may be time to don the running shoes and get ready for a sprint. Big breath and here -- we -- GO!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Joshua 5.1

"So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we* had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel."

When all the kings heard about the Lord's great works their hearts failed them. They trembled in fear and had no hope. They were undone when the children of Israel crossed over.

When Jesus rent the veil and triumphed over death, all of Satan's kingdom trembled in fear and lost all hope. Just like the enemies of the children of Israel, our enemy's heart melted. Jesus crossed over safely and the enemy was undone.

Salvation had come to earth and Satan knew the battle was on. Sons of God would be in the land, marching forward. Hallelujah! He trembles! Our God has made a way for us to cross over and Satan trembles!

Let's remember today what He has done and how our enemy responds. And let's allow our hearts to be filled with joy and strength.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Our host are native LA'ers, so today they will bring us on a whirlwind tour of LA and surrounding areas. Whirlwind is a key word, but still we will see alot and get a feel of the culture with our tour guides filling us in. Should be lots of fun.

Then we will fly out at 11:00pm, sleep through the flight and arrive home in Syracuse at 9:00am Friday morning. Whew!

We have discovered some technical faux pas made by Julia and it leaves us wondering how it may have effected the outcome. One of her judges will be sending us some info to help her next performance. We look forward to hearing from him. It was kind of him to take such an interest. It also shows that they genuinely feel she has great potential. So, although the mistakes may have been costly and are truly discouraging, there will be lessons learned (we certainy hope!) Expensive lessons -- maybe that ensures the learning...

Off to L.A. Happy day, wherever you are!