Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Misinformation Highway

Everyone's an expert. Or at least has a convincing viewpoint, even if in their own mind.

We're traveling to Canada in a few weeks for a family reunion. And we've been dealing with the big question--passport or no passport. Mat and I are covered as we have passports. But it's the kids we're concerned about. Would hate to have to leave them at the border (most days, anyway).

So I checked the Homeland Security Web site. Reassured that the kids didn't need passports, I shelved the worry and got back to the business of trying to enjoy my summer with bored children (they've been out of school a week).

But then someone in the checkout line of the grocery store convinced me that the Homeland Security site wasn't up to speed as I most certainly did need a passport. And did I know how backlogged the passport agency was? No one could get a passport in under a month's time.

As we're supposed to leave in two weeks, sheer panic set in. So I called my local post office where the gal assured me that no I did not need passports for the children, but I did need birth certificates and photo ID for them. Heart rate fell back to normal as I hung up the phone. But even then, I worried a fingernail. What if she was mistaken? What if we got to the border and were turned away, trailer loaded with camping essentials and pickup packed with grumpy kids.

I could not take that chance.

So I called a post office in a neighboring town. That gentleman told me that absolutely the children needed passports. He didn't know anything about what the Homeland Security site stated, but knew he was correct as his office received frequent regulation updates.

I warp sped back to panic. Did some digging and got a hold of the number for the federal passport agency. The woman I finally spoke with after listening to multitudes of . . . "please press 1 if you need to speak with . . ." was amazing. She was calm and she had knowledge. And the golden reassurance was that she was the passport agency. What she said was truth (and of course, matched the Homeland Security Web site—went full circle on that one).

Lesson learned? Go to the source. Go to the maker of truth.

Everyone will give you their version of the truth. But much of it is misinformation or has gotten warped and twisted along the way. Kind of like that telephone game we played as kids. The first person says something in the second person's ear, and by the time it's gone around the circle and the last person shares what they heard, it's nothing like the original statement.

You know what I think often happens with God's truth? We Christians think we know God, but in actuality live under rules of performance that we think God puts on us, and then we push them onto others.

So God's truth gets twisted through us. And it grieves him. It pushes away the very people he wants to wrap his arms around.

We're his spokespersons and we're getting it wrong because we really don't understand his truths. We don't really understand or know Him. Just like the people in all those passport offices that I spoke with. They thought they knew truth, and they spoke as if it were the truth.

But it doesn't have to be bad news. Ask God to reveal who he truly is to you. If you are afraid of God, or afraid of what he thinks when he looks at you, you don't have to be. That is not what the Bible teaches. If you've confessed your sinfulness to Him, and asked Jesus to be your savior, you don't have to live in fear any more.

There is only one truth. God's truth. And it's good news.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Boiling Point

Have you ever reached that point in parenting where you stand bewildered with heart aching and wonder, “What the heck am I supposed to do now? Where is the darn manual that will show me how to get these kids to mind?"

Or at least tone down the attitude.

I seem to get to that place in cycles. Things will go smoothly. Kids obey more than just sporadically. They actually seem to care about my feelings and seem to want to please. They don’t buck the house rules too hard.

I get lulled into thinking we’re past the hard stuff. The kids tested the limits and now we’ve all settled in and things will run smoothly until they graduate and move on to college.

WAAAHHH! WAAAHH!! (that’s the thinking error alarm screeching in my ear)

Kids are soooooo unpredictable. Especially with all those pre-pubescent hormones swirling through their veins and turning them into short little Jekyll and Hydes.

And it can hit out of nowhere. One minute life is sailing along fine and dandy and the next I’m running for my closet. Sounds odd, I know, but I do spend an inordinate amount of time in there.

It’s where I go to vent, to cry and to ask God for help (after I get done complaining about the little critters).

He’s patient. He’s doesn’t condemn when I get a little loose in my word choices. (My little cherubs know just the buttons to push to drive me into my flesh in a nanosecond.)

But I’m learning something. We are spirit and flesh. My spirit desires to please God, but it’s severely hampered by the flesh I drag around every day. That flesh craves sin. (For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. Galatians 5:17)

The sad thing is we can’t overcome our flesh. As Paul states in Romans 7, we don’t do the things we know we should (righteous living) and we do the things we know we shouldn’t (sinful living).

That’s why I RUN to my closet. I don’t want to stay in my flesh one second longer than I have to. And if I go to my dad (God) and ask for help, he’ll do just that.

He’ll correct my mind where my thinking is off base (usually selfish) and heal my heart where it’s been wounded by careless words and the fleshly thinking of young kids, AND he’ll show me what to do next.

Closet time gets me reconnected to God. When we disconnect, and we will many times a day, we fall into sin. That’s not a place I want to live.

Do you have a space you go to vent and reconnect? I would love to hear about a time when you felt that frustration and tension starting to grow fangs. What did you do to get out of that place? Leave a comment or send me an email.

Let’s grow together!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kids and Pets and Moms With No Memory

I called my youngest son “Milo” again. What kind of mother calls her son by the dog’s name?

Sometimes I don’t even notice. The other kids admonish me with censure in their tones. “Mommm, you called him Milo again.” Though they seem to be more bothered than their little brother.

He doesn’t seem to mind. Milo is a significant part of our family. Maybe when you’re seven, an adorable and playful Jack Russell seems more like a younger brother than a dog. He keeps Kaden from being the tail to our litter.

We are a little pathetic when it comes to our puppy. Some of you may cringe at the thought of dog fur on your sheets, but my husband fights the kids to be the one who gets to sleep with Milo.

I think I may have driven TDH (tall, dark and handsome) to those furry little paws. You see, I’m one of those who can not drift off to dreamland wrapped in my husband’s arms.

As newlyweds we tried and tried to snuggle to sleep. I’d think, surely I’ll get tired enough to fall asleep. An hour or so later, I’d ease over to my side of the bed.

I can’t even abide a toe touching my leg. TDH has grown accustomed to gentle little nudges to get back across that middle line. He even obeys in his sleep.

So despite the fact that I can’t keep kids and pets straight, my family still loves me. And really, is it any wonder that Milo slips off my tongue so easily? He comes when I call!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Being Authentic

The Two Second Delay Syndrome. Do you have it? I lived it for most of my life. Those of us people pleasers (though I consider myself in recovery) know it well.

If someone made a statement, I’d wait a heartbeat or so, get a feel for which way the wind was blowing. Didn’t want to stick my neck out there and be left hanging by myself. While I was full of opinions, I’d rarely voice them if they were different than the consensus.

What if I was wrong? What if people thought I was uninformed or even odd? That, of course, could lead to rejection.

Rejection terrified me on some base level that I rarely examined. Just sort of avoided thinking about. Just as I avoided being authentic and real.

Took me years to gain confidence in being . . . well, me. The me, apart from being right. The me, independent of success or wealth. The plain me, no toppings or additions.

The me God loves.

It took a hard time in my life, where the worst happened. Ultimate, annihilating rejection. There was nowhere to turn except God. I clung to him with all I had within me.

I used to hear people make that statement and roll my eyes. But when you’ve been in that pit, you know how true it is. What a life line of hope He holds.

He taught me about love. True, accepting love. The kind that looks beyond your mistakes and revels in who you are. It’s mind boggling and humbling to see how little you have to offer and yet be given the gift of life and freedom. Wholeness and healing. Acceptance and uncontainable joy.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Get to know the His truth.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


What makes a hero?

I think most of us wouldn’t bat an eye to help someone in need. We’d walk that extra mile to lend a hand.

So what separates us from truly heroic people?

Last August we had our company picnic at a lake near town. It was our typical picnic except that due to a dry winter the reservoir was very low. A handful of us walked with our kids across the sand, and then further out across the hardening mud down to the water’s edge.

A few of the kids got in and played. The smaller ones had to wear life jackets as about a foot out, the bottom dropped off and the water was deep.

As I kept an eye on my children, I noticed another group of people walking along the water’s edge a little way from us.

Then a young voice yelled, “He’s drowning!”

All the adults turned and . . . froze. Near where the other group had passed, about four feet from shore bobbed a baseball cap. My mind tried to comprehend that a child was beneath that hat.


Charlie was a blur as he ran past us all toward the edge and jumped. Like I wished I had.

Up they both came. One small panicked boy held tightly against Charlie’s side.

Where we all stood dumb-stricken, Charlie acted. And saved that little boy’s life.

Is it training? Is it instinct? I don’t know.

I just know I want to be more like Charlie.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Heart’s Garden

I have friends who love gardening. They salivate just thinking about spring when they can dig their fingers into that rich, dark soil and plant pickup loads of annual in their yards.

Me? I'm a perennial gal. Give me some low maintenance shrub that will come back year after year and keep to its nice, tidy spot without crowding anything out or needing frequent trimmings.

If I had my druthers, I'd also hire my own gardener. Someone willing to work rain or shine to keep flowerbeds and yard weed free.

Though you may never find me clapping my hands in glee at the thought of donning those gardening gloves, I will weed with the best of them when I have a goal to meet—like surprising my hubby when he's feeling overwhelming by the jungle creeping toward the house, or a special birthday party.

My husband's 40th birthday is Friday the Thirteenth. Ironic, isn't it?

Mat loves being around people and our house is perfect for entertaining, or would be if I'd ever had the courage to have a crowd over. (We'll leave those fears for another blog.)

So I invited thirty people to the big event and then glanced out the window to the yard. I crawled back to bed with a migraine.

Who could I call for help? It would take a team of people days . . . then hope shone as I considered that I do have my own small team. Albeit they are of the shorter variety and not legal to vote in any state, but they love their mommy and will work for money (or under the duress of having their allowance taken away).

Last weekend was thoroughly beautiful—sunny, warm . . . and I got to enjoy it with dirt under my fingernails and a crick in my neck. But our backyard is delightful.

As I tugged out the ten thousandth weed, and once again kindly invited the cherubs back to work, (yes, you can still sound kind at 150 decibels), I thought about my heart and what kind weeds lurked in there.

Weeds tend to be sneaky. From a distance some of our plants looked fine, but a closer look revealed weeds growing up through the foliage, sucking away the nutrition and robbing the plant of growth.

I know there are areas in my life that need some maintenance. Some sins I haven't wanted to let go of and others I'm probably oblivious to.

The awesome thing is our Master Gardener delights in tending to our hearts. Gently nurturing and pruning us toward growth.

I think too often we believe if we open up our weaknesses to Him, He's going to plow in there with a hedge trimmer or hack saw and leave us raw and bleeding.

That is so far from the truth.

What healthy father wants to annihilate his child as a way of encouraging growth? If we fear God, we have an inaccurate picture of who He really is.

If your perception of God is shadowed by fear or dread, then lies and distortions have been sown into your heart. I used to hold to that view of Him. I'd try to weed my own garden to try to please Him—but really it was fear of judgment and rejection that kept me from opening that garden gate to Him.

When I finally let go and let the gate swing open, gentleness and love surrounded me. He didn't even glance at the weeds. When I was finally brave enough to raise my head, He was looking at me. With wonder and love and adoration.

Get to know that God.

You'll embark on a lifetime of joy and growth.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Quiet Time Guilt

Busy. Busy. Busy. Racing here and there. So much to do. Laundry. Appointments. Swimming lessons. Flopping on the couch exhausted at night . . . and the nagging guilt.

Didn’t get my quiet time in.


Haven’t cracked my Bible for days. I avoid even praying for the censure I’m sure to face from the Almighty for not getting my priorities straight. But a new day begins and I head straight for my prayer closet first thing.

I sit in the white rocking chair and feel the guilt from the displeasure that is surely from God, silently chastising me for all my neglected quiet times in the previous weeks.

I’m at war. My mind knows this thinking to be skewed.

The Bible speaks so clearly about the unconditional love and freedom that are gifted to God’s children. But my heart continues to feel the lashings.

I grab my journal and start pouring out my feelings. Telling God of the frustration I sense rolling down from heaven, cataloging my failings even as my mind fights so hard to walk in the truth—that I’m no longer in chains.

He HAS set me free.

So why do I still feel so imprisoned to shame and guilt?

Illumination came steadily as I journaled. Old dynamics. Human dynamics from childhood color my relationship with God.

A man who didn’t know how to be a father. Long days of work, late nights with his friends. A mom sitting in the bleachers alone, cheering her kids on.

Kids watched as dad came home jovial from a few beers with friends, his hearty laughter urging the family to join in.

Mom withdrew into silence. Disapproving and hurt. Bitterness rooted in her heart.

Tension would build until the hearty man withdrew under his own guilt and shame. When the wife sensed his penitence the uneasy relationship would regain its footing.

Fast-forward thirty years. I’m sitting in my prayer closet feeling like I’m the hearty, jovial husband wanting to waltz into intimacy with God and ignore how I’ve neglected our relationship.

How can God be anything other than the bitter wife who punishes by withdrawing? My view is skewed by the dynamics I witnessed as a child.

God gently reminds me that I can not apply a human model to Him. He is fully pleased with me. His love knows no bounds. He looks to the heart, not the actions. He doesn’t rate our performances because it is not an act, but a walk with Him.

I feel his pleasure in me. I don’t understand it, but I revel in it. A child who is fully pleasing to her Dad.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Bridge to Home

We buried a young man yesterday.

Death seems to jerk us upright. It pulls us from the hamster wheel of eating, working and playing to mill around in a fog of questions.

Some of us find comfort in God and some of us can't even look him in the face.

I don't understand the whys and I am at loss to do more than wrap my arms around those in pain. If I dig for words I'm afraid I'll join the masses who offer platitudes that while good intentioned, hold no comfort:

God needed him more than us.
God works all things for the good.
It was just his time to go.
He's better off there anyway.

The things we say to try to fill the void where our questions reside. I don't know why death happens. Of course I know why. But there are certain deaths that make no sense. But we try our hardest to hang answers on those unanswerable questions.

Mold a reason around our uncertainty to make it more palatable. We can't seem to sit with silence, let the answers be bigger than us.


Is it to keep from questioning God? To keep from blasting him with our anger and hurt? Do we think God can't handle our questions, our uncertainty and anger?

Do we think he wants us to bow our heads and accept life such as it is, even as the chasm widens between us and Him?

Is it because deep down we think God is capable of hurting us or at least not caring if we hurt? That his motives aren't always for our best, but that his best creates our biggest loss and we can't accept that. So we hold onto platitudes even as we move to a more superficial existence with Him.

If we can't reach out and grasp the hand that longs for us, we'll never be able to accept that the Sovereign God who created the universe and yet knows the number of hairs on our heads looks at the infinite while we can't go farther than the finite.

We may not get the answers we need this side of heaven, but He is the bridge that gets us home.