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Friday, April 15, 2011

I still need to do something

About a month ago, I told you that I needed to do something.  I set a goal to spend time in the Word and pray intentionally every day.  I know I've missed a day of reading here and there, and my prayers haven't all been the most intentional, but I can feel a huge difference in my life.  I did start a few reading plans.  For one, I started a 21-day fast timed perfectly with the remainder of Lent.  I also resumed reading a Proverb daily, the one that corresponds with the date (e.g. Proverbs 14 on the 14th of every month).  Finally, I finally started a plan that I've had bookmarked, literally, for months.  I think I read the first day of it but then I forgot, and then I left the bookmarked Bible in Arizona, figuring I could read on my phone, and then I kept forgetting to print out new copies of the bookmarks.  As "luck" would have it, that same app that afforded me the 21-day fast also had Professor Horner's reading plan.  (Click the link to read about it and print out the bookmarks.)  I'm behind on that one, but all that matters is that I do it, even if it's a little slower than planned.

I'm doing better, but I'm still not anywhere near as intentional as I need to be.  I'm just happy to see progress.  Hopefully the reading will become a habit soon, and then I can focus on my prayer.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Yeah. Whatever. Not listening.

I forgot to give up something for Lent.  When I remembered, I decided, reluctantly, to give up Dr. Pepper.  Big surprise, I didn't make it a day.  I gave up.  (Good attitude, right?)

My mom came up to Oregon with us last week.  She did remember to make a sacrifice, and she's being very diligent.  Last Sunday, as I drank a Dr. Pepper, I imagined her saying, "You should've given THAT up for Lent."  I dismissed it, but my (I thought) imagination had a response: "It's not too late."

Yeah.  Whatever.  Not listening.


I'd been meaning to install a Bible app on my phone.  Instead I played Tap Zoo and Tap Zoo Christmas.  To get extra stars and snowflakes to buy special things, you can install extra apps.  I was getting tired of the two games and installing, using and uninstalling the extra apps, but I just couldn't delete the games.  Great, another addiction, I querulously mused.

Still, I added more apps.  One was another Bible app.  (I'd already installed one because of these games and hadn't even looked at it yet because, if it's being advertised here, it can't be that good.)  I finally opened the newest Bible app to complete the star-and-snowflake-earning process.  It turned out to be YouVersion, a very reputable Bible I'd used on my old phone for some time, after my old mobile Bible disappeared.  Interestingly, after that discovery, I felt at peace with deleting the zoo games.

Excited and grateful for the "luck" (see how out of touch I was?), I got registered and explored the app.  I decided to follow a reading plan.  They all seemed good, but the one called "21 Day Fast" kept jumping out at me.  I figured that was God and signed up.  The scripture reading that night , which was the passage from which the plan idea came, was Daniel 10.  Daniel gave up dietary luxuries for his 21-day spiritual fast.  Okay, God.  I get it.  It was exactly 21 days until Easter, the end of Lent.

So long, Dr. Pepper.

Hello, self control.

Menu Plan Monday: 4/10/11-4/17/11

Lunch: Tacos, Enchiladas and Refried Beans (Slow Cooker Enchiladas: 1 can enchilada sauce or 1.5-2 cups homemade sauce, 1 package of at least 10 corn tortillas, .5-1 lb cheese, depending on your taste and health concerns.  :o)  In a 1.5-2qt slow cooker, pour a little enchilada sauce to coat the bottom.  Place a corn tortilla (or pieces of corn tortillas if they are not the same shape/size as the crock) on top then a layer of shredded or thinly sliced cheese; I like medium cheddar.  Pour more sauce over the cheese, and then add another tortilla layer, compressing everything.  Top with more cheese and sauce and tortilla, pressing each layer.  Repeat until you use the last of the enchilada sauce.  Cook on low for at least a couple of hours.  Serves 4-6.  Be sure to watch it; the edges will darken too much after a few hours.  I've found 2-4 hours works for me.)
Dinner: Chicken Tikka Masala, Aloo Gobi and Brown Basmati Rice

Lunch: Hopefully lunching with Daddy
Dinner: Slow Cooker French Dip and Cheesy Vegetable Bake (Some combination of frozen veggies and cheese with a Ritz Cracker and butter topping)

Lunch: Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese and Broccoli (We'll just pour the mac-n-cheese over the broccoli)
Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce and Toast (Sauce: Brown ground beef with garlic, onion or shallot salt and garlic pepper; then add a jar of pasta sauce and veggies, like frozen spinach and grated carrots, and simmer while the pasta/squash cooks)

Lunch: Hopefully lunching with Daddy
Dinner: Chicken Green Bean Casserole (I skip the croutons and instead add a bag of stuffing mix to the soup/chicken/green bean mixture)

Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Dining Out

Lunch: Hopefully lunching with Daddy
Dinner: Frozen Pizza, Salad and Crudites

We don't know what our weekend plans are yet!

Note: We serve fruit with every meal.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Going with us

The week before last was hard.  I was emotionally, physically and spiritually spent.  In fact, I was distant from God.  As the challenges of the week piled up, I repeatedly fell under the pressure.  While I should've fallen on my knees, I instead fell into sin.  I finally reached a point where I started crying - very publicly - in a parking lot, where a very nice woman felt compelled to make sure my children and I were alright.  (That encounter wasn't significant, outside of the mere kindness of it, but it sticks with me for some reason.)  I wasn't embarrassed; I was broken.  I decided I couldn't handle any more issues with Mikey.  That night, he choked and earned himself an ambulance ride.

As I retold the story to the pastor last Sunday, I said, "We're really aware of Mikey's disabilities righ tnow."  Something about that statement seemed profound to me, though I didn't know why.  The pastor didn't seem to notice anything, so I continued with the conversation.  Even though I've been trying to forget about Mikey's difficulties, I've just been burying everything.  I've even been in denial.  Perhaps that's why that statement resounded so loudly - I wasn't speaking of this week; I was speaking of life in general, of the last year and a half.

When I got home, I started reading The Power of a Whisper, as I mentioned in a previous post.  I read every chance I got all afternoon.  That night, I read something that I've often admitted to be true, but I've been using the wrong tense:

"Therefore it should come as no surprise that a certain number of whispers that come our way will drive us to our knees and stretch our faith like nothing else can."

I've long spoken of how Mikey's first 14 months brought us closer to each other and to God and taught us to fully rely on Him.  My mistake was thinking God was done with that chapter.  I just wanted that to be in the past so badly that I convinced myself that it was.  He's not done when we want Him to be; He's done when He says He's done.

I've said we went through these things to help others who are going through them.  I was wrong.  We are going throught these things...  God is putting us through this - going with us through this - for a reason.  Whatever that reason is, it is important for us - for me - to remember that God is with us through everything.

Just this morning I was reading this poem - for the thousanth time - during church (it's hanging above the altar...I wasn't slacking off).  I found it an especially timely read.

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?"

The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you."

~Mary Stevenson~

Logic of a three year old, applied to Christmas

This morning on the way to church, I was talking to Ellie about our upcoming visit from Nonni and Poppi (her grandparents) and how they'd be here for Easter.  I decided to tell her about the death and resurrection.  Evidently she liked the story because she asked me to tell her more Jesus stories.  I told her about Christmas.  I tried to convey the downsides of being born in a stable by calling it a barn - at which point she confirmed that there were cows present - and I reminded her of how stinky the cows are at the dairies by our house.  Then I told her about all of Baby Jesus' visitors and the gifts the kings brought: gold, frankincense and myrrh.  I explained that those are things that smell good.  Ellie interjected, "To cover up the smell of the cows?"  I laughed and agreed that was a possible use for the gifts.  She ended the story for me: "And then his Nonni came to visit and...[insert long list of Nonni-Jesus activities]."

What I learned: Only a three year old could make the birth of Jesus seem like any ordinary day.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday: The Power of a Whisper

A couple of months ago, I saw that our church women were doing a study around the book The Power of a Whisper by Bill Hybels.  Even though I couldn't make it to the study, I planned on picking up the book anyway, hoping to share some of the energy I was sure was present in the study.  As goes my life, I never got around to it.

At church on Sunday, Shari, "The Mrs. Pastor," as I call her, shared that the women would be starting a new study, and we can get a book even if we can't participate.  I told her I was interested, and she asked if I'd ever read the last book, The Power of a Whisper.  I told her that I hadn't, but it is on my short list.  She offered to loan me her copy right then and there.  I was so excited that I opened it up that afternoon.

I am no stranger to whispers from God, for which I am unspeakably grateful, so this book is a read-and-nod page turner for me.  Even the foreword (by another person) had me practically screaming "Yes!  I totally get that!"  Even still, I was only a little ways in Sunday night when I read some words that stopped me in my tracks:

"And when he calls us into sacrificial roles, it is never without his caring presence or affection."

Every time God asks me to give up something, I get scared.  I want to do it, but I often fail because of fear.  What I forget is that God is right there by my side as I do it.  (Insert light bulb above my head)  As I processed this, I got an overwhelming urge to find out what God was setting me up to sacrifice when he sent me this book via Shari.  Then I heard God whisper: "Hit your knees."

I got out of bed and prayed, "God, I want to know your direction for my life.  I want to hear your voice.  Forgive me for turning up the volume on the world and my sinful nature."  Fighting to tune out my own mind telling me what I expected to hear ("take care of your house"), I finally quieted, and then He spoke: "First, repent."

I opened my mind and lifted up whatever came into it until I felt calm.  Then He spoke again: "Now, get up.  Get your house in order."  As if anticipating my "but, that will take a long time!" response, He continued: "This may take a while.  I promise I will have more for you."

Well, I will admit that I was stunned.  I've received a lot of direct messages from God, but that was the clearest, most complete whisper I've ever heard.  I was also relieved.  God did tell me what I expected to hear, but He sealed His message with a promise.  Just.  For.  Me.

Wow.  I'm excited to know what He'll say next!