Monday, October 29, 2012

If Only I Had Made This Up

I can't believe this is actually happening to me.

I'm sitting here in a McDonald's, waiting for The Boy to be done with Scouts.

Conversation at the table next to me, two late teens:

"I know this girl, she know how to work the government."
"Yeah. She got her checks, she gets them to pay for her gas, and she ends up with money at the end and she don't even have to work."

Have. Mercy.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Sentiments: Help Thou My Unbelief

And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood.  And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  Mark 9:20-24 (ESV)
We're in the middle of dealing with a situation that needs much prayer. And involves waiting on a reply from a third party.

And while everything in me pleads, "Believe! Believe when you pray! Know that God is going to do a good thing!" there is this unbelief that rears its ugly head. "You've been down this road before. God has said No before, surely it will be no this time. Don't get your hopes up."

This is my struggle. And so yesterday, in the quiet hours of the morning,  I turned to a passage that - strangely - gives me great comfort. When the desperate father brings his son for healing, he cries out to Jesus: "I believe; help my unbelief!" The passion of a father for a child, seeking answers, but feeling weak in his flesh.

Consider this encouraging word from Jerry Bridges:

It’s true, however, that oftentimes the situation at hand looms larger in our minds than the promises of God. We then find it difficult to believe the promises. In those times, I find the words of the father of a demon-possessed son encouraging: ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24). There is a vast difference between stubborn unbelief such as was demonstrated by the people of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth (see Mark 6:5-6), and the struggling faith of the son’s father. God honors our struggles, and the Holy Spirit will help us. The important issue is that we seek to honor God through our faith, even though weak and faltering, rather than dishonoring Him through rank unbelief.”
Standing on the promises this Sunday, and praying God to help me in my unbelief.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

(almost) Wordless Wednesday: You have GOT to be kidding me

Name that item!

Only in Alabama, folks, only in Alabama.

(Sorry for the bad quality: it's a camera-phone picture!)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Sentiments: His Eye is on the Sparrow. . . . . and on Craigslist!

"Consider the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

4 years or so ago, we put our house on the market. That's a story for another place and time (and definitely another blog post!), but part of the process involved looking for more updated appliances for our kitchen.

So I started looking.  "Craigslist!" exclaimed my very enthusiastic, thrifty friend.

And since her house looks like something directly out of a magazine - for literally pennies - I was inclined to listen to her advice.

As I was searching, I happened to come across a wall oven to replace our outdated model. It was a very odd size, and rather small. But the mysterious owner promised that it worked well, and was indeed the correct size. Once we got past the "generic Craigslist email" service, this nice woman and I started conversing.

And then we realized - we had a TON of friends in common! Her husband worked at an inner-city school sponsored by our church, and his college roommate was a friend of my husband's.

Crazy, no?


And in God's wonderful Providence, who shows up at our Sunday School class today?

This. Same. Couple.

At a time when I was - honestly - needing a little encouragement myself, in walks The Oven Owner, the Oven Owner's Husband, and their two kids.

What a joy to tell her that I pray for her when I cook on that wonderful, fabulous, slightly-dirty (sorry, Mom!), perfectly functioning, well-used oven!

Turns out, she's in need of a little encouragement herself. I love how God does that.  I'm hoping we can meet up for coffee or something soon. . . . . . . .

All because God has His eye on the sparrow. . . . . . .

And on Craigslist!

(P.S. What song was presented as the offertory this morning? Yup. You guessed it: His Eye is On the Sparrow. Love. It.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I quit facebook for THIS??!!!

Yup. It's true.

I gave up facebook for a while, because I was wasting too much time.

So what have I done for most of the day?


Watched a giraffe in South Carolina prepare to give birth.

But it's not wasting time, it's educational!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

When Mrs. Fix-It Can't

Sometimes, Mom can't fix everything, even when she wants to.

I have a running joke with friends of mine, fellow moms walking the path of parenting young adults; "Wasn't it easier when we could just feed them a cracker, wipe their bottoms, and put them in bed?"

And it was.

Kind of.

Although we didn't think so at the time.

So now we listen. And watch, And pray.

We pray for wisdom, for when to speak up and when to remain silent.

We pray for patience, to let our mighty God work in the lives of these precious ones, these "not-a-childs" who wear the mask of adulthood, but so easily slide into the heart-places, where crackers and  warm blankies make it all better.

We pray for grace, to extend to them and to ourselves.

And we pray with hearts broken and arms open, wrestling with the Lord on their behalf, interceding when there is nothing else to do.

But watch.

And wait.

And trust.

That the God of all comfort will indeed comfort them in their afflictions, no matter how large or how trivial, and that their hearts will continue to be captured and tuned to sing His Marvelous praise.

Resting in Him tonight, and resting in the promise that He will work all things together for good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

And that is the best fix-it plan of all.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land

7 years ago, our family had just moved south from New England. A kind-hearted woman brought over a casserole. She was "on her way to the game", and wanted to drop it by before she headed out of town.

"What game?" I asked, honestly curious.

Incredulous stare. Disbelief.

I didn't get it, clearly. And in some respects, I still don't.

It's football season here in Alabama. The time of year when people's lives revolve around The Game. Friday night high school games and Saturday college games, there are parties, tailgating, Homecoming dances, bands, parades, cheerleaders, pep rallies, and who-knows-what-all.

Look. I was drum major of my high school marching band (and marched WITH a broken heel, thankyouverymuch). I understand how the game is played. It's fun. It can be exciting. I get that. But what I don't get - and may never get - is how the game of football becomes part of the warp and woof of a life, how you schedule an entire season around what 2 teams do to a little brown pigskin.

During the fall, I feel most alone. Not depressingly so, but keenly aware that 95% of the culture shares something that I simply don't understand. I'll go to the local homecoming game to watch our friends' sons play, and watch and cheer. But all the while, deep inside, I feel like I'm pretending. It's hard to explain, but I always leave football games pretty melancholy.

And - mostly - I'm ok with that.  Soon enough, the world will right itself again. I'll rejoin the conversation, rejoin the social scene, and find myself more in step with those around me.

For now, I just need to be content with my lot. Those of you who are native to the South most likely don't get why this even warrants a blog post. Those of you from the North can't imagine that there even exists a culture so permeated by 4 quarters of offense and defense that they put rally flags out their windows and tiger tails on their cars. (I'm NOT making this up, northern friends. Really.)

But maybe -just maybe - there is someone reading who can relate.

And maybe- just maybe - my friends who are believers in Jesus can relate to this feeling in a whole different way. Being a part of the world, but not really of it any longer, we long for Jesus, we long for heaven, we long for a world made right and new and whole.

Where everyone is united in worship of that which is Right and True and Good. . . .  . .

. . . . . and it's not football. 

It's Jesus. 

And the longing in my heart to belong, to truly feel at home, reminds me
that I was meant for more than this world.

So when the melancholy starts, when the loneliness sets in, it is my prayer that God would use it to turn my heart more towards Him, and to set my mind on things above. Anyone want to join me?

This world is not my home I'm just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fabulous Field Trips and Final Freebie!

Here it is. . . the last in the series of giveaway posts!  Congratulations to Ann Moore,  the winner of the On-The-Go planner.    Read to the end of this post; there's a GREAT giveaway this week as well!

This week's topic: Fabulous Field Trips.

Now I admit, being a homeschooler, you really can take some fabulous field trips! The grocery store, the office supply center, the discount store. . . . . . .

Oh, wait. Not THOSE field trips you say?

Alright, time for a confession. Most field trips organized for homeschoolers leave me, well, like this:
Except my hair's not red. And I rarely wear lipstick. But you get the picture.

I have field trip issues. All too often, the field trips I've been on have featured some, er, problems.

So with that in mind I give you:

Heather's Handy Hints for Happy Homeschool Happenings  
(aka field trips, but I've got the whole alliteration thing going and didn't want to mess it up. Work with me, people.)

1. Be Like Horton the Elephant

"I meant what I said and I said what I meant; an Elephant's faithful, one-hundred percent!"

If you commit to a field trip, attend. If you promise to pay for a field trip, pay. Simple as that. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances - like hospital stays, delivering babies, and death. "My week has been too busy" is NOT, repeat, NOT an extenuating circumstance. It's life.

Scripture tells us to let our yes be yes and our no be no (Matt. 5:37). Let's model that for our kids - and for the watching world - by honoring our commitments.

2. Do NOT be like the White Rabbit

"I'm late, I'm late. . .for a very important date!"

Or as my dear husband says. . ."To be early is to be on time!" Figure out how long it will take you to drive, arrive, park, and walk to the meeting location. Then add 15 minutes. For traffic, diaper blow-outs, and unexpected, "Oh my! How DID that gas gauge get to empty?" moments.

Be respectful of other people's time. Another handy hint: make sure you have a cell phone number for the trip coordinator, so you can let her know if you're running late.

3. Steer Clear of Dr. McPhee from Night at the Museum

"Do you know what 'museum' means? It-- It does not mean, 'Ooh, Daddy, it's a big 
tyrannosaurus thing! Can I touch its leg?' No! Control your young!"

It's 11 o'clock on the field trip. . .do you know where your children are? Are they running through the exhibits? Torturing the tortoises? Driving the docents delirious?  

Like it or not, people who offer field trips will look at our homeschool groups with a critical eye. An out-of-control, undisciplined, disruptive group will likely ruin any potential future trips for other homeschoolers. If your child misbehaves (and face it! they all do at some time or another!), pull them quietly aside and remind them what is expected.

More importantly - for many of us, we represent not only homeschoolers, but the body of Christ. Let's be good ambassadors.

4. Avoid the Ladies' Dance Committee (Music Man)

"Pick a little-talk a little
Pick a little-talk a little
Cheep cheep cheep! 
Talk a lot, pick a little more!"
This one's for me. Yes, mommas, I know we're all excited about seeing our friends. But the field trip is NOT our social outing! Make plans to visit after the field trip at a park or Starbucks, but PLEASE don't visit and chat during a presentation.

Because there's nothing more embarrassing than a docent asking the group to be quiet - and it's the moms who are talking. Ask me how I know.

5. Let your kids be Horshack, not you
"Ooh! Ooh! Mr. Kotter! Mr. Kotter!"
(yes, I know - I'm a child of the 70s. deal with it)

Y'all. I know it's crazy cool that we're learning all this stuff as moms that we'd forgotten. I know you have a million interesting questions, and you actually KNOW the answers because you read the book. But seriously? You already DID 3rd grade science. Let your kids answer and ask the questions.

It's their field trip.

6. Always remember to say. . . . . . .

Want to make a good impression?  Say "Thank you" at the end of the trip. . . not only to the place who hosted your group, but to the homeschool mom who likely coordinated it! Bonus tip: writing a thank you note qualifies as handwriting AND English, so what do you have to lose?

Besides, if you express enough appreciation, follow some basic rules of courtesy, and invite her out to Starbucks - she may even coordinate another Fabulous Field Trip for you!

Alright. You've read to the end, and here's your prize:

Yeah, quit drooling. You know you want it. The fabulous, amazing, Well-Planned Day Planner!  If you don't know about this, you should. If you don't have it, you need it. It's awesome. It's amazing.

And it can be yours if I pick your comment! Simply leave a comment here on the blog, and PLEASE leave a way for me to reach you. If I pick your name via, you WIN! Woo hoo!!!!!

So, what say you? Do you have your OWN hint for making field trips wonderful? Do tell!

And if you want to hear MORE about fabulous field trips, hop on over to some of my friends' blogs. Tell 'em I sent you. Enjoy! And, as always, the fine print: (read in monotone announcer's voice): Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for US entrants only. This giveaway is not tied to any social media site. All prizes must be claimed within 8 weeks.