Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Sandman Calls...

OK, I know, I know...I said I wouldn't procrastinate and I said I would post something on most days to keep my writing skills fresh. But here's the deal, folks, I need to go to bed. It's not even that late, but I have a sore throat and have to get up early, so I will do the wise thing tonight, and sleep instead of write. Sweet dreams.

" I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. "
Psalm 4:8

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Lesson from Jane

While reading Jane Austin's book Persuasion a few weeks ago, I noticed one statement at the beginning of the story. This statement wasn't particulary important to the ensuing drama, but it convicted me nonetheless. First, I will give you some context, and then I will reveal a lesson learned.

In this classic story, Austin writes about a family composed of Sir Walter Elliot and his three daughters, Elizabeth, Anne and Mary. Lady Elliot, Sir Walter's wife and the girl's mother, had died several years earlier. We get a glimpse of her character from the following statement written about the respect she bestowed upon her husband:
"She had humoured, or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for seventeen years; ..."
And here is the lesson learned: I don't do that. But I want to.
Why am I not more like Lady Elliot? Because sometimes my husband bothers me and I want him to know it. Because I am selfish and proud often think myself superior. Because I often care more about myself and my feelings than the feelings of my husband.
What can I do to become more like Lady Elliot? I can laugh at the little, silly idiosyncrasies that makes Brent who he is. I can soften and accept the beautiful, well-meaning, but imperfect, man God gave to me. I can choose not to talk of his mistakes and foibles to others, but instead make him shine in their eyes. I can promote his real respectability--the person that I know he is--and believe in that myself. And I can continue to do that for the rest of the years that God gives us together. God help me.
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. "
Romans 12: 9-10

Friday, January 29, 2010

can you say "pro-cras-tin-a-tion?

Well, I noticed it had been a whopping nine days since I last posted! Didn't I say I started this blog so that I would write regularly??? I don't think once every week and a half qualifies as "regularly".

It's not that I haven't been thinking about a lot of things, and it's not that God hasn't taught me some cool lessons lately. It's just getting myself to do know, the discipline thing that we all struggle with ( I realize that I am not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition--for all you grammer police out there like myself--but this is my blog, for goodness sake!). I have been getting a bunch of other things done lately, like baking meals and making lunch stuff for the kids and putting it in the freezer, organizing cupboards and my sewing room, and cleaning off my desk, and getting ready to go to Mexico in 2 weeks :) (no kids--just me and my honey).

So...why do we do it? Procrastinate I mean. It just makes us all feel bad about ourselves and stressed when we try to catch up. Why can't we all discipline ourselves to do what we need to do when we need to do it? I mean, we take showers every day (or most days--my son, Cole, excepted). That is something with which we don't seem to struggle.

I really like to write. So why don't I do it daily? I make excuses like "I'm too tired" or "It's just too loud in here" (can you believe that one?!) " or "I'm cold and I want to sit by the fireplace" (I say that one every day lately). It's all about discipline. If I really wanted to become a more serious writer, I would write every day. If I really believed that it would hone my skills, I would write every day. If I really believed that I could write a book someday, I would write every day. And I wouldn't leave it until the very end of the day when all those excuses are actually valid. I would give it my best time and discipline myself to do it.

I do believe all of those things and I do want to do this every day. God help me.

May I, like Abraham in the Bible, be characterized by prompt obedience--first and foremost to God's commands, but not only that. May I be obedient to myself and my goals and to the gifts that God has bestowed upon me. May I live my life purposefully and accomplish much--enjoying the journey, rather that sitting back imprisoned by my apathy.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perserverance the race marked out for us."
Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

No Rushing Necessary

Today we are having another snow day. It should be called an ice day. There is so much ice out there that our power lines snapped and we have been without electricity for 5 hours now. When the power goes out, I am always amazed at how much we have come to depend on electricity for Numbered Listour basic daily needs and wants. For example, I wanted a sandwich and since the last of our bread was gone, I got another loaf out of the freezer--but guess what, I could neither toast it or microwave it, so I ate it frozen. Yummy! I could have thawed it by holding a piece of bread under each armpit-- walking around quickly for a few minutes to raise my body temperature, but I decided to forgo this technique and just eat it cold. I also had to adjust my to-do list today; Here’s what was on it:

  • Iron shirts with an ELECTRIC iron
  • Make zucchini bread with an ELECTRIC mixer and an ELECTRIC stove
  • Work on Luke’s senior book on an ELECTRIC computer
  • Mend some items and finish one puppy towel with an ELECTRIC sewing machine
  • Make supper for the family using an ELECTRIC oven and clean up using water run by an ELECTRIC pump well
  • Stay warm using an furnace powered by ELECTRICITY

Guess how many of these I achieved? None! Well, almost none. I am able to stay warm as I type this on my battery powered computer and sit by the corn stove that is now being powered by a generator.

How have we become such a dependent people? Wasn’t there a time when we could provide all of our needs with our own resources? I keep thinking about the “Little House on the Prairie” books. They did just fine with no electricity. They were accustomed to living like this. We are not. How can we change our ways so that we are not so dependent on this luxury called “electric power”? How can we change our habits so our days aren’t turned upside down when we lose it? Something to ponder as I sit here by the fire enjoying my forced “pause”.

Time definitely moves slower in the no electricity time zone. Lots of sitting, and reading, and drawing, and tuning guitars. And no rushing. I don’t like rushing And lots of quiet. I like quiet.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Phillipians 4:19

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Tonight at connection group, we watched lesson 11 of "The Truth Project". The topic was "labor" or work. I was reminded that God is the Author of work and He himself is a hard and a creative worker. Take a look outside...He made it all!

When we work, we are reflecting the nature of God. This, in itself, should motivate us to work mightily "as if working for the Lord." The video also talked about the creative nature of God. This really struck a cord with me because sometimes when I am creative, I really do feel like God has "enabled" that creative process. I also was convicted that I need to allow God to be creative through me more often. I'm not even sure what this means, but I do know that when I discipline myself to do the things I feel gifted at, like writing or painting, or working with kids, I feel energy. I believe that this energy is God's creative Holy Spirit. When I put myself in the position so that I am regularly using these gifts, I am truly playing my role in the "Body of Christ". How can I do this more and more? How can I discipline myself to regularly use my gifts? How can I create built-in creative times where I don't feel pressure to respond to the "tyranny of the urgent?" This is something I will pray about. This blog is one way I can practice my skill of writing. What is another way?

I do know this: I have to be proactive about using my creativity. Sometimes, I look at really creative folks on Etsy who create really cool toys or jewelry or clothing, or at people who are really gifted at one thing--painting for example--and I think, "Wow, when am I going to get good at something?" or "Why can't I be creative like them?" But the truth is, they have to work at their creativity too. Sure, sometimes things just come to them and they produce this awesome product, but a lot of the time, they have to work...they have to choose productivity...they have to discipline themselves to hone their craft. I can be really good at what God has gifted me, but to reach this level, I must work hard. I am willing to do that. God help me.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for men, ..."
Colossians 3:23

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I am so tired tonight I don't even want to write, but remember what I said? This blog is for me so I will write REGULARLY and spontaneously.

We had the JV girl's Bball team over tonight for a team meal and they were LOUD. And they laughed a lot!!! And they took lots of photos with their handy dandy cell phones. We ate homemade lasagna (regular and roasted vegetable!), lettuce salad, breadsticks and chocolate eclair dessert. Yummy! Oh, and did I mention they laughed a lot?!

Anyway, I am worn out from all my prep and clean up work and I just want to go to bed, but first some scripture memory work. We are learning a verse about disciplining yourself in here goes:
"Physical training is of some value, but Godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
I Timothy 4:8

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A New Goal for 2010

Wow, I said I was going to post every day, or at least most days, but it has been at least three days since I last wrote. This "posting" is my way of making sure I write--often and spontaneously, my first goal for 2010. Now, I have developed another goal for the new year and it is this:

You know those people you see on a regular basis--like the Target check-out person or the guy who carries out your groceries at Fareway or the clerk who takes your gas money at Casey's? Well, I've decided to learn every one of their names this year and ask them questions about their lives. This is something I think Jesus would do--and probably did do. I want to do it too, since I have resolved to be absolutely and entirely His.

I was motivated to do this when my Dad introduced me to the girl who brought me my breakfast at Hy-Vee. He told me her name and shared with me that she had a little boy. I said "Hi _______ (I can't remember her name, but I will learn it!). How old is your little boy?" She beamed with pride as she told me about her 7 month old sweetheart. And I got to thinking...It is very pleasant to be connected. Connected with those people you see everyday, but don't know. It feels good to know people and to get involved in their lives. I tend to be a little shy and to myself around those that aren't friends. My Dad showed me that I can make a lot more friends by just stepping slightly outside of my comfort zone. So I will. Even though it scares me. God help me. Thanks Dad!

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
Philippians 4:13

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Search Me

"Do we believe that God can fortify and protect our thought processes far beyone where we can go?"

This question from Oswald Chambers in Utmost today struck me and convicted me. I truly believe, as I've stated before, that God can help me cleanse my conscious stream of thought. I only believe that He can cleanse me at a conscious level? Shouldn't he also be able to cleanse even my unconscious thoughts and motives? This thought drove to the Word to read Psalm 139, which confirmed the Truth that "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord." (v 4) If the same Spirit that fed the life of Jesus Christ is in me--and it is--shouldn't that Spirit be all-powerful also in my yet unformed thoughts? The Bible says that "...the blood of Jesus Christ ...cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). "The cleansing from sin we experience will reach to the heights and depths of our spirit if we will 'walk in the light as He is in the light'", says my hero, OC.

I don't know about you, but I am all for God cleansing me to the height and depth of my spirit...and for cleansing my thoughts...even before they reach my mind.

OC says that "We should more frequently allow our minds to meditate on these great, massive, truths of God." I agree.

"May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless..."
I Thessalonians 5:23

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snow Day

We did have a snow day today and I did very well at "pausing". I knew that I had achieved this goal when I got up from my chair by the fireplace and Shay said, "Wow, you got up!"

It is so cold tonight that Neo gets to sleep in Tess' room instead of his dog house. This is a rare event. Neo trusts us implicitly. He knows that we will take care of him, feed him, and house him if the weather is too cold. He trusts that we know what is best for him. And oh, does he love to be with us! Are we like this with our Heavenly Father? Do we trust Him implicitly? Do we trust that He knows what is best for us? Couldn't we all be a little more "Neo-like"?

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"

Matthew 6:26

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


As I write this, snow falls. Children are excited that there may be yet another snow day. Kids are great at celebrating "pauses". "Pauses" are any ceasing from your normal routine. I have trouble pausing. When children "pause", they can forget all their responsibilites and worries and enjoy the new freedom and change in routine. They can fully engage in the pause. When I "pause", I spend most of my time thinking about what I should be doing and I can't fully "seize the day!" Even when I am doing what I want, I think about what I haven't gotten done and I rush through the activity at hand.
I think snow days may be God's way to say "Pause!" and I think I will listen if he says it tomorrow.

"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


My biggest problem with becoming absolutely and entirely His lies in my corrupt thinking and emotions. God wants me to think through my challenges with a renewed mind and not with my very natural, often faulty emotions. When I look in my Bible concordance, the word "mind (minds, mindful)" is mentioned 44 times!! "Feelings" in the sense of emotions are mentioned a whopping ZERO times. Elisabeth Elliot says that "the discipline of emotions is the training of responses." We must exercise our will to think the truth and to learn how to respond correctly. Notice I said "respond" and not "react". There is a difference.

Slowly, but surely, I am learning PRUDENCE. PRUDENCE is the ability to discipline and govern oneself by the use of reason. I am being transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12).

This task, though, is a very difficult one for me and I compare it to the task of learning a foreign language. I am yet a toddler when it comes to being absolutely and entirely His in this area of my life. May God continue to teach me as a gentle schoolmaster.

He must become greater; I must become less.
John 3:30

Monday, January 4, 2010

View From My Window

Gentle sunset kisses Day goodbye on unbroken porcelain snow

Silent sleeping trees watch with ancient eyes, longing for lifeblood of spring.

Rays of blue, orange, and yellow depart unwillingly as black envelops all

Beauty so fleeting, so serene, so magnificent, placating an anxious soul.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
Psalm 19:1

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Absolutely and Entirely

I regularly read a devotional by Oswald Chambers tiltled, "My Utmost for His Highest". This man had insight into the heart and character of God like no one else I have ever read. As I sat in my polka dotted chair by my fireplace on New Year's Day, this is what I read on January 1st : "My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest--my best for His glory." He goes on to say that, "To reach that level of determination is a matter of the will, not of debate or of reasoning. It is absolute and irrevocable surrender of the will at that point." In other words, "I am determined to be ABSOLUTELY and ENTIRELY for Him and Him alone. "

I was so affected by that statement, the one about being absolutely and entirely God's, that I have mulled it over in my mind and meditated on it for the last three days. I wrote in the front of my Utmost book and signed my name and the date underneath. I have made a committment and now I have to figure out what that looks like in my everyday life.

By God's grace, from this day forward, I will be ABSOLUTELY and ENTIRELY for Him and Him alone. This is a huge undertaking--one for which I will have to submit to God second by second--one for which I will have to have a long obedience in the same direction. God grant me wisdom and patience and the ability to die to myself.

"... my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death"
Philippians 1:20

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Why I Cried When the Rabbit Died

Ok, here's some background: so...we were in Iowa City on December 16th for a college visit with Luke, our oldest, and our dog got in the house and killed the rabbit. That's where this all originated. That is the non-emotional report, but now I will tell you the rest of the story...sit tight because even I don't know where this is all going to go.

When Brent got off the phone as we were eating in the University of Iowa cafeteria and casually announced that Neo (the dog) had gotten in the house and killed the rabbit, I felt as if I had been punched in the stomach. I immediately quit eating and told Luke and Brent that I felt sick and needed to find a bathroom. As they cleared our table, I was involuntarily heaving and feeling like I might throw up right there. I did finally make it to the bathroom and exited with a little less lunch. Then Luke and I walked to the car (Brent needed to make a phone call) and I got in the car and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. You would have thought I lost my best friend or my house burned down or something. What was with that? Why did my son's bunny's death bring about such a strong reaction in me? This is what I think: I do love all of our pets and tend to become very attached to them and that, in itself, made me mourn for Wonder the bunny; My heart also broke for 11 year old Cole, whose last bunny had died unexpectedly just 6 months previous. I knew that he would be sad and that made me so sad. And it just seemed wrong--one of our pets killed another one of our pets--I wanted to be mad at Neo, but I knew that he was just acting on instinct; but what I think really brought the tears was this...I realized that things change. Out of the blue, changes come--good and bad--and there is nothing I can do to control that. I was at the college where I would be sending my oldest son in the fall and I realized that (releasing Luke) was really going to happen too and that I would soon be entering into a new season of life whether I liked it or not. Our college visit together, Brent, Luke and I, was supposed to be a happy day, a day of excitement and acticipation, and I felt like this all came raining down on our private parade. It was also Brent's birthday. What a bummer.

So... that's how I see it. I don't really know why the bunny's death sent me into a temporary depression that allowed me to contemplate life, but so be it. Life changes. I can't stop it. Bunnies die. God is still strong enough and I will continue to run to Him.

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Proverbs 18:10

Friday, January 1, 2010

Clothesline Conversations with God

Hi, my name is Tori and I hope to introduce you to my life, my faith and my family through this blog. So now…an explanation for my blog title, “Conversations at the Clothesline.”

As a young mother, I constantly felt overworked and insignificant. I wanted to do big things for God with my life, but I found it difficult to spend very much meaningful time studying the Word and praying. I felt like I was failing in my spiritual walk because the menial tasks of raising a growing family took up so much of my time. As I went about my tasks one day, I poured out my heart to God about this frustration of wanting to serve Him more. “Will I ever have time to serve you better, Lord?”

And then He spoke.

He broke through my drudgery and spoke directly to my heart when He said, “Tori, you are doing exactly what I want you to be doing right now.” What I was “doing right now” was hanging out laundry on the clothesline. How could this task—this necessary job---be pleasing to God? As I contemplated this question, God spoke again in His small gentle voice at the clothesline. He said, “Tori, when you serve your family, you are serving Me. You are fulfilling the role I have given you and that in itself is pleasing. You are doing the most spiritual thing you can do right now. You are doing what I designed you to do.

Needless to say, this conversation at the clothesline blew my mind…and changed my life. I now understand that my role as wife and mother is a pleasing one to God. The world might beg to differ, but I think I’ll stick with God’s opinion.

When I am doing what God designed me to do— and right now, for me, in this season of my life, means being a wife and mother---then I am being “spiritual”. I am serving God by understanding and accepting his will for my life. If I am fulfilling His purpose for me, I am bringing Him glory---and that is my chief aim.

“I cry out to God Most High,
to God, who fulfills his purpose for me. “
Psalm 57:2