Thursday, November 27, 2008


6:30 am Thanksgiving morning and the house is still asleep. Time to reflect before the chopping, baking, dish washing and hosting.

  • Thankful for my husband. He is such a hard worker, and keeps our home in working order plus food on the table. It is an honor to be his helpmeet - it helps that he is so smart and wise (can't say that for everyone!) and funny and has those cute sparkly eyes. He's a great dad and a man of great integrity...I didn't know when I married him how critical that is!
  • Thankful for my kids. They are increasingly enjoyable - they make me proud and they make me laugh. I am proud of their character (honest, diligent, creative, trustworthy) and their accomplishments. They are nice to be around (which is a good thing to say no matter what age you are).
  • Thankful for the extended family. Everyone is healthy, and every one is a blessing in their own way. Jon and I are so fortunate to come from families that place their priorities honorably - it's provided such a strong foundation. They are a constant encouragement to us!
  • Thankful for our church. Our friendships and ministry opportunities have enriched our marriage, family, and personal lives so much. Not simply encouragement for the journey, but challenge and fellowship as well. Thankful for the ministry we receive from being in ministry!
  • Thankful for our jobs. We completely realize Jon's job is Providential, and are at the Lord's mercy for the continuation of his employment after February. My job as homemaker and homeschooler are also Providential - if Jon's job goes, my job goes! Humbly we ask for that cup to pass, and humbly we look at how I can help, should it not. We are also thankful for the kids' jobs - that is, of being full time students. Education is a privilege and both homeschooling and Running Start have been tremendous blessings to us!
  • Thankful for our health. Again, mercy. Again, humble and complete gratefulness. Thankful for not only our immediate family's health, but also the blessed we are to have them involved and active and able to "endure" many visits with us!
  • Thankful for our country. This could be a post all on its own. But this year - thankful to know a hero like John McCain and receive inspiration from him...thankful for articulate, bright and capable women like Sarah Palin...and thankful for the chance to exercise my hope muscle that the "change" Obama promises will help get our country out of this economic pit.
Well, Ben's awake now and I hear other Turkey Bowlers rustling around I will sign off.

This time next year - Abby home from college for the weekend! God willing - we'll all be together counting our blessings and adding to them - in Him we trust.

I will praise God's name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

Friday, November 21, 2008

When the Banks Closed, We Opened Our Hearts

Depression settles over America.

No, not simply an economic depression, but an emotional one too. America is being stripped down to reveal what is at its core....stripped by daily news of stocks diving and job losses. Bleak forecasters have colored this holiday season in shades of gray for consumers, and red for retailers. The emotional toll is being taken because there seems to be no relief in sight - no bailout is fixing the trouble, no solution seems to be arising. Regrets are abounding over impulse purchases, maxed out mortgages, credit card risk, and foolishness of every type. Panic is now setting in as friends are losing jobs on a daily basis. Crisis meetings are taking place in offices, churches, and at the family dinner table.

In the spirit of it all, I went to the library a few weeks ago and checked out a bunch of books on the Great Depression. "When the Banks Closed, We Opened Our Hearts" was one, "A Nickel's Worth of Skim Milk" another. I wanted to gain a perspective on how a generation went through a similar season. What lessons did they learn that we can glean from? What wisdom do they have now about economics, hardship and perseverance?

I learned about hobos - knocking on doors and being fed along their way....along their way where? To the train tracks where they could ride the rails to....where? Supposed land of opportunity? Or just ride the rails because it provided a dry roof over their heads?

I read about soup kitchens and the long lines of humble, hungry families.

I read about brave housewives who fed hobos (brave!) and who converted their homes to boardinghouses...or who simply sucked it up and let their in-laws come live with them. No, not just their parents in-law but also their uncles, aunts and cousins. Not simply "every bed filled" but also filled to overflowing. These same housewives grew gardens and created simple meals off the proverbial shoestring.

I read about kids who put cardboard in their shoes to cover the holes. Who didn't finish their education so they could work and contribute to the family budget.

I read about dads who jumped out windows because they felt overwhelmed by the stock market crash, and that their self-worth only amounted to their net worth.

As I reflect on these readings - before I return them to the library - I think about where America is now, and that core to which it is being stripped. I hope the core is not one of miscalculated self worth. Nor that money is the root of our joy and our security. I think, though, if we find ourselves left with a core like that, it's the perfect time for God to step in and readjust our focus. We're probably easier to work with when we aren't shackled by greed and fear!

As we approach Thanksgiving, it's my personal prayer that when I am stripped of everything else, there is a core that is built on solid faith in the Lord. Layers wrap around that core - I choose hope and humor and generosity and prudence and perseverance! I will choose to limit Depression to one of economics, not emotion.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:7

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Long Time No Post

Were you raised with the maxim, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all?"

I think the quote is attributed to Peter Rabbit's mother. Or, my Granny Kay. Either way, the phrase has been an unspoken approach to communication in my life....thus, my silence on my blog over the last few weeks. It was nice to be missed, though! I'll see if I can pick up where I left off.

Over the course of the last month we've had 2 fender benders (my fault), my new van "smashed and grabbed," one mento up and quit on me, and our garage door break (the fixed van is now stuck in the garage until this weekend when Jon fixes the door!). It's been upwards of $1K in unforeseen expenses just in the past couple of weeks, and loads of hassles with mechanics and crippled vans. Of course, the election didn't lift our spirits to compensate! Add in the economy and job insecurity...the list could go on and on.

The net-net (dad phrase there, I think it means "bottom line") is that with each passing day there were stresses that did not lend itself to my writing muse, let's just say that much. :) (see how good I am with my Granny Kay's maxim?)

God has been teaching me quite a bit though. Here are my lessons from Oct/Nov:
  • People are more important than things. What caused me tears and unslept nights was the break in the mentor relationship, not the hemorrhaging of cash nor the transportation hassles. The fender bender's grip of terror on me was knowing there were elderly people in the other car, not the scratch of paint or the boatload of cash it took to aright their dent.
  • Ministry is a risk, but a necessary one. When God asks you to do something, the important thing on your end is to be obedient. Investing in people - being vulnerable and open and giving and committed does not entitle you to the same from them. It is like any relationship - you might do your best, but that does not guarantee you will receive that in kind. Your heart may be broken. Humans fail each other.
  • God heals broken hearts. I think instead of super glue, though, God chooses to stitch together broken hearts. With each little piercing of His needle, and each tug of the thread, there is a little pain and anguish. Each poke and tug is His Spirit working in you and showing you, where you went, what His Word says about the situation......and, both the times you were selfish and when you were acting in righteousness. It's as if this healing pain had a purpose - that He does not permit the broken heart to heal without allowing it to make a difference in your life. He uses the balm of His Spirit, but the stitching hurts....when the pain abates, the healing is complete.
  • I married the right man. I wonder if this is how it is with my relationship with God too? Is it this way for you - that when things are going so swimmingly, you sorta get independent and think you are handling everything so perfectly on your own? And then in times of despair or sadness you get a dose of God's comfort and you say to Him - "Lord! I love you! I am so grateful for you in my life!!!" Your worship is then more poignant, your devotion more complete? Well, over the past month I've brought my brokenness to God and Jon, and was sweetly touched by Jon's forgiveness, mercy, and tenderness toward me. Imagine two fender benders in less than 24 hours? Imagine! One was cause enough for him to worry....but two? I thought I was going to need to whip out the defibrillator ....but instead all I needed was a big ole box of kleenex for me when he chose to hold and comfort me instead of lecture or scold. Tears still pop up when I recall his grace. Anyhow, it all served to further devote my heart to this man, not because of duty or position, but because of love. Through all the trials of this past month, I think this result of rekindling has been worth it all.
So, thus ends my lesson listing. If I were a superstitious woman, I would say "gosh I hope our season of trials can end now because look at how well I've learned the lessons God planned for me!" It does seem like trials come in waves! I am incredibly ready to move on now - I would love to get back into my blessing groove! But I also consider it joy to carry with me my stitched and healing heart, my reignited love for my husband, and my realignment of priorities.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.
(James 1:2-4)