Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Lord’s Pray-er

Yesterday, I talked about prayer.  And today, I read about prayer—the Lord’s Prayer.

Jesus instructs his disciples about prayer when he teaches them “The Lord’s Prayer”, but he lives this very prayer out, and teaches it a second time in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Maybe it went something like this:

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Father, God, I am so far away from you.  Earth is not Heaven

hallowed be thy name.

Your name is my name.  It is holy.  holy.  holy

Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,

The request you make of me now is hard, really hard, but I want your will to be done, not my own.  You are my king, Father

on earth as it is in heaven

Allow me to be committed to your plan now, here on earth so that I may spend eternity with these little ones in Heaven

Give us this day our daily bread.

I know that you will provide my strength

And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Some these little ones will sin against me and some will turn away.  You will enable me to love them still as you love them

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Please, Holy Father, remove this cup from me…

For thine is the kingdom,

Your kingdom can fully arrive when I accept your will—your difficult will.  I must do it Father! I will obey

the power and the glory,

I will do it in your power and for your glory!

for ever and ever.

And my obedience will change history forever.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Be Alarmed

While I was meeting with friend the other day, we talked about prayer. She mentioned that she had set alarms on her cell phone to go off throughout the day—reminding her to pray.  What a good idea, I thought!  So, I stole it from her—the idea, not the phone.  That would be wrong.

Anyway, I decided to set my alarms to ring at 8 am, 12:01 pm ( I never know if noon is a.m. or p.m., so I set it to 12:01 pm to avoid waking myself at midnight), and 4 pm.

For the first few days of this experiment, I dutifully deferred to my little alarm, got down by the side of my bed, and prayed for people, situations, wisdom—whatever came into my mind.  I prayed not long nor eloquently, but I humbled myself as I got down on my knees for this necessary discipline.  I felt good about this habit I was developing, and I did find myself focusing on God more and more.

Enter week two.  After finding satisfaction in my developing intercession, Satan crept up on me.  When the first alarm rang, I would wait a few minutes more—continuing what I was doing—and then, because I felt guilty—not because I wanted to meet with my Lord—I would kneel and pray.  Second alarm—too distracting—and since I was too busy to stop my life for a moment and look into the face of God, I turned it off and shot off a little prayer in my head.  Mission accomplished, I concluded.  Alarm three, week two.  “Oh come on!  I really don’t have time for this!”, I say under my breath, and off goes the 4 o’clock alarm—not just off for the day—deleted from the alarm schedule.  Now, I figure, I just have two alarms to bother me.  I can deal with that.

What has happened to my devotion? How did I go from pious and humble one week to disgusted and disgruntled the next?  What kind of heathen am I anyway? 

Here’s where I went wrong: At the start of my little prayer experiment, I was on God’s schedule, God’s timing, looking to God for direction.  The first week, I wanted to join God in His work. 

The second week, I let Satan convince me that the experiment wasn’t worth doing—that it was taking up too much of MY time.  I was on MY schedule, looking to MY calendar for direction and wishing that God would join me in MY work. 

See the difference?  The first week I was God-centered.  The second week, I was self-centered.  And self-centeredness should always set off our spiritual alarms and make us learn to focus on our Creator.

Today I reset my alarms—all of them—and I am stopping to pray—not long nor eloquently, but faithfully and obediently—because I think this is what God wants for me right now.

Ask me about it next time you see me…but don’t ask me at midnight, ‘cause then I’ll be sleeping!   

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:18

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Peter, part three

 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”

   “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”

   He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

   Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

It’s been three days since I betrayed Him.  I lie in bed and think of it at night.  It makes me sick to my stomach.  I cannot eat.

Why could I not have been stronger? 

The realization of my weakness has made me quieter, more humble.  It makes me long for Him—He knew me so well, yet loved me. If I could just speak to Him again….

It’s a brisk Sunday morning on the Sea of Tiberias—business as usual for us.  We have been out all night—me, Nathanael, Thomas, James and John.  Fishermen’s lives cannot stop for grief or remorse; the fish bite equally on our good days and our bad.  But they seem to be biting even less on this very early morning.

We are close to shore—maybe that’s the problem.  Is that someone crouching there, on the sand?  He’s trying to make a fire to ward off the chill. 

“Friends, haven’t you any fish?” It was him, the man from the shore.

“No.” We respond, skeptical of his intent.

“Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

Great.  Everybody’s a fisherman.  What does he know?   But…since we have caught nothing, we figure we will take the odd advice of this stranger.

We haul in the net and throw it to the other side, and within seconds hundreds of wriggling fish have filled it! I have never seen anything like it! The weight of the many fishes in our net has pulled us closer to the shore…and to the stranger. We try to hold onto our almost bursting catch while eyeing the advice-giver.  And then John shouts:

“It is the Lord!”

Could it be?  Could my Lord really be alive again?  I can’t wait for this boat to take me to shore!  I must find out!  I must beg his forgiveness!  I must show Him how much I love Him still! Jesus!  I’m coming!  The ice-cold wetness takes my breath and the salt stings my eyes as I jump from the boat and swim/run to see my Lord. 

I want to run into His arms…but he stops me with a gentle command.

“Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”

Strange greeting…but I turn, and grab the slippery fishes and I serve my Lord with two flopping offerings.  He smiles and takes them from my hand, putting them over the flame to cook. 

And we eat, (We eat!  My appetite has returned!) together again, my Lord and I, by the fire.  Then He speaks:

Three times He asks, “Simon [Peter] son of John, do you love me?

And three times I respond, “Yes, Lord,” I say, “you know that I love you.”

“Feed my lambs.” He says. “Take care of my sheep.”

And then, only then, finally then, my exasperated heart understands:

Three times I denied Him.  Now three times I promise my love. 

By one fire, I rejected Him, but by another, He receives me back. 

Jesus has forgiven my weakness by His greatness.

And I am forever grateful.


I will praise you Lord, you have rescued me
and have not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead,
restored me to life from those who sink into the grave

The Lord listened and had pity.
The Lord came to my help.

Psalm 30:1-2

Monday, March 28, 2011

‘member that time?

This post is dedicated to Paige (the mastermind of “member that time?”) whose birthday was on Saturday. Happy belated birthday, Paige!

‘member that time when it was my 9th birthday and we had just moved to a new town and Mom corralled a whole posse of neighborhood girl strangers to come to my party? And member how my birthday cake looked like a Barbie doll with a big cake dress on, but when Mom lit the candles the doll’s hair caught on fire? Member that? And member how we pulled the doll out of the cake and she was naked and had no hair?

I bet all those girls were super impressed by the new girl with the flaming doll cake.

We had a family birthday for my 10th.

Now check out Paige’s blog for ‘member that time Monday!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reach Out for Him

I’m very purposeful in saying “I love you” to my husband and my kids every single day—often more than once.  Every day, every breath, is a gift, and any one of these precious people could be taken from me in an instant if that’s what God’s plan allows.  And I could be taken from them to my heavenly home.  This fact of life—and death—is what drives my fierce love for them and makes me value every moment.  No matter what happens, I want them to know how much I love them and how precious they are to me. 

As I was sitting writing in my journal today, I realized that God is one of those precious ones too.  Without God, I would not have life—earthly or eternal.  And without God, I wouldn’t know what true love is.  Does God know how much I truly love Him?  I’m sure He does, but wouldn’t it warm his heart to hear me say it to Him?  At least once a day—or maybe more than once? 

I am God’s child.  He wants me to love Him.  He wants me to reach out to Him.  He wants to hear my praise.

I love you God.  You are precious to me.


The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Acts 17:24-27

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Peter, part two

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by.  When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.

   “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.

But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.

When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.”  Again he denied it.

   After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Mark 14:66-72

Peter had already disappointed his Lord tonight by sleeping when he should have been watching.  But his eyes had been heavy…and Jesus prayed for so long.  He would not let Him—his leader, his Lord—be disappointed in him again.  Peter would not betray like Judas betrayed—Traitor!

This Traitor entered with kisses and left with the enemy! 

“Judas!  Judas!  What are you here for?  What are you doing?”

“No!  You can’t drag him away!  He has done nothing wrong!  What is going on?!”

“My Lord!  Where are they taking you?”  Nothing.  Only cruel jeers and laughter from the soldiers—and probably from the Traitor too.

They are taking him to the High Priest to put him on trial.  Those liars will say he is guilty!  But He’s not!  He’s not guilty of any of those things they accuse him of!  I have to find him.

I follow at a distance and make it into the courtyard of the High Priest by becoming one of the crowd of angry followers.  By now I am angry too, but not by my Lord, like they are.  I am angry about their accusations against him.  I am angry about all of my “friends”—Jesus’ followers—who just ran away.  What is with them? Don’t they care that Jesus is being arrested?  Don’t they care about loyalty?

It is nearly dawn, but the sun still sleeps.  I am so cold and tired. I see a fire—and a rock to sit on—nearby.  I will wait here.  I will wait for my Lord.

Someone is on my left.  It is a girl—just a servant—but she is too close.  I wish she would give me some space.  “Get away!”, I think, but then she speaks:

“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she blurts.

Instinctively, I deny it:

“I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about.”

Realizing what I had just done—spoken traitor words—lying words—makes me panic inside and I have to move.  I find the gate of the courtyard and hide myself in its shadow.  Gaining composure by rationalizing my comments (I was nervous!  I wasn’t thinking!  I was scared!  At least I am here; I didn’t run off like the rest!), I overhear the rude servant girl speak to the others by the fire:

“This fellow is one of them.”

And in my defense, I come out of hiding and yell, “I am not!”

My heart is racing and,though I am chilled, sweat trickles from my forehead.  Why does she keep saying that?  Why do I keep saying that?  What is wrong with me? I will not deny my Lord again.

I hear a distant rooster crow.

Some people by the fire walk over to my now-unhidden hiding place and look at me.  By the moon’s light and the glimmer of the far off flames, they perceive that my clothes are not like theirs.  My accent also makes me peculiar to them.  They speak:

“Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”

I feel pressured. They hate me! They have joined forces against me! I must protect myself! Get away from me!  You are too close!

“I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”

And the rooster crows a second time.

And I remember.

And I fall to the ground and bury myself in the dust made wet by my tears.

I have also become a traitor—like my Lord said I would.

Oh, Lord! O Lord!  I am so sorry.  So very sorry.  Please forgive me.  Please forgive me. What a sinful man I am!

Can you hear me Jesus? 

I need you to hear me...and forgive me…and teach me…and love me. 



“Peter is paralyzed between the good that he would and the evil that he is.”

“I see this.  I recognize this.  I cannot divorce myself from this—for Peter’s moral immobilization is mine as well!  I am in the courtyards with him, watching.  I, too, am good and evil in terribly equal parts—and helpless.”

--taken from “Reliving the Passion” by Walter Wangerin Jr.

…the story continues.  Stay tuned for Peter, part three.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Help Wanted

My dog carried a deer head into my yard yesterday.

What is one to do with the decapitated head of a deer staring into space on the lawn?

I’m not planning to go out and move it.

And it’s just too big to mow over (ewwwww).

And Neo doesn’t seem especially interested in eating it.

It’s grossing my daughters out, but Cole thinks it’s kinda cool. (I’ll bet Luke is going to be bummed he missed it)

Brent says it looks like Bambi, but he has never even seen Bambi, so how would he know.

He (Neo, not Brent) has been eating the rest of the deer, leg by leg, (sharing it with his mother, next door) for the last week or so, but he has hidden those massive bones elsewhere (for gnawing upon later).

I think he views the head of the deer as the final trophy of his conquest, and I’m quite sure he plans to leave it right were it is.

So…if you have any ideas for displaying rotting animal heads (Lord of the Flies concepts will be automatically disqualified), are a really good taxidermist, or have any ingenious inventions to help me GET IT OUT OF MY YARD, let me know.

In the meantime, it will just be laying there, waiting for you, staring up into my dining room window.

Thank you for your timely consideration to this matter.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Peter, part one

 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:

‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.’

But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

Mark 14:26-31

Peter was overconfident. 

He didn’t know what was in him.  But Jesus did.

He thought strong love and strong passion would trump all fear.  He was wrong.

Peter, in essence, was saying, “Hey Jesus!  Look at me!  Look how far I’ve come!  Look how great I am at following you now!  I’m da man, Jesus! I can do this thing!”

And Jesus sadly says, “You will fall away”.

With seemingly righteous indignation, the disciple Peter spews again, “ Whoa ho ho, brother! I am your right hand man!   Those other guys, they might turn tail and run, but not me, Jesus. I got your back!

And Jesus says with tears, “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.”

“No, Jesus, No!  I love you the most—look at all I’ve done for you!  I thought you knew me better.  Tell me what to do and I’ll do it!  I’ll never deny you, man! Watch me!  My actions will speak louder than my words!

And Jesus nods in sorrow, knowing that the disciple has finally spoken truth.  Knowing that soon Peter’s pain will be as strong as his love.


For it’s not the strength of Peter that made him love so much—It’s the Lord who allowed the power of devotion—it’s the Lord who made him strong. Peter’s love for Peter’s love was stronger that Peter’s love for Jesus.  Get it?


“[Peter did love Jesus]—as many Christians do!  But great love risks a greater pride.  For the very strength of their loving sometimes dazzles and flatters them—until they trust that love more than its Lord.  But their loving response to Jesus, however strong, is always exactly that: a response to Jesus, empowered by Jesus.  He enables the loving!” 

--taken from “Reliving the Passion” by Walter Wangerin Jr.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Stay tuned for Peter part two.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Invisible Bugs

I don’t like to kill bugs.  So I just kind of ignore them and act like they are not there.  But sometimes this becomes a problem, like when I go down to the basement and encounter a spider the size of my blind cat.  These spiders are so big and so hairy that I don’t think a regular shoe smashing would actually work—if I did that sort of thing.  But, not wanting these tarantula-sized creatures crawling in my bed late at night, I do try to dispose of them in humane ways. 

Sometimes, I put them in the toilet and let them try to fight their way to the top.  Spiders are very poor swimmers…but this way, I never actually see them die.  Other times, I scoop them up in a cup or a paper and I release them into the wild wild world—outside.  One time I bought some gizmo that I stuck in the outlet, and it was supposed to emit high pitched noise that spiders apparently hate.  Well, let me tell you, the spiders in my house LOVED that noise and came out in droves just to hear it.  Now that I think about it, maybe the idea of the spider siren was to draw them out of their hiding places so people who kill spiders could actually kill them.  I promptly removed this device.

It’s not that I’m against dead bugs.  If someone else will kill them, I will gladly let them do it, but if I have to end their life, I am always very philosophical about it and I think about this being their last day and all.

The thing is, the more I ignore the bugs, the more prevalent they become; kind of like my bad habits:  Sometimes I am disrespectful to my husband—either in speech or just in attitude.  If I ignore this, letting the disrespectfulness live in our marriage, I erode his headship and create dissention.  Sometimes I speak harshly to my children.  If I refuse to kill this lack of grace-fullness, I damage my kids’ spirits and invite rebellion.  Sometimes I judge others, forgetting that Philippians 1:3 says to consider others more important than myself; this wrong thinking causes me to be proud—and to not reflect Jesus’ humble spirit accurately to the world.

If God says “Do not grumble”, then I need to kill my complaining.

If God says “Do not worry”, I must take this seriously or this habit will become uncontrollable.

If God says “It’s all under control”, I have to stop looking for my own solutions (because like my electronic bug zapper—it will only make the problem worse).  Remember Abraham and Sarah---and Hagar and Ishmael?  That didn’t work out so well, did it.

Big bad bugs and big bad habits—both real—both scary—both in need of extermination…so I’ll work on the habits…and hope the spiders die of natural causes—like drowning.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,  making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ephesians 5:15-17

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Vanity Christianity

Another shopping story for you:

(disclaimer:  For those of you who don’t know me well, I am not a big shopper—in fact, I don’t even really like to go shopping because I’m not very good at fashion.  But, seeing as I had Goodwilled so many of my clothes lately and all I had left in my closet was a Felix the Cat t-shirt that I picked up in the men’s clearance section at Target, a few hoodies, and a pair of jeans I got for free at a clothing swap, I decided it was time to restock.  That is why I went shopping TWICE last week. Just had to set the record straight.)

The other day I was trying on jeans and I noticed that the size I had been wearing for the last 20+ years was actually a little big on me.  Normally this would have been a cause for rejoicing, but having just celebrated a week of birthdays complete with cupcakes and multilayer cakes, I knew that I had not lost weight.  In fact, if anything, I was a little heavier than I like to be. Even so, the fact that the size of jeans I was wearing was smaller than my past purchases made me feel good about myself. 

That, my friends, is called “Vanity Sizing”.  Companies employ this strategy to gain customers.  Since their clothes are sized smaller than expected, women wear “smaller” jeans, “smaller” shirts and enjoy increased self-esteem.  It’s a win-win situation.  But it’s not the truth.

Sometimes in America, I see what I call “Vanity Christianity”.  People caught up in Vanity Christianity love what Christianity stands for, what it looks like, what it represents…until it gets hard.  Then they go searching for something that “fits” them better.  They are gung ho about serving God until He asks them to do something uncomfortable—even embarrassing.  When truth hits them between the eyes, they turn the other way and look for something more appealing—something that makes them feel better about themselves. 

When Christ asked us to follow Him, He did not promise comfort, or self-esteem, or worldly success. 

He did, however, promise us trouble, tribulation, and circumstances that feel like they don’t quite fit. 

And with these He gives us security—security that He will never leave us; security that He will always love us; and security that He is always in control—no matter how big our problem gets. As Christ-followers, we are eternally secure in Him—and that’s worth more than all the feel-good theology this world can offer.

Don’t let vanity get the best of you.  God deserves that.


 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3

Monday, March 21, 2011

‘member that time?

‘member how Tanya watched some show on people smuggling drugs into to the country in doll’s heads? And member how she was really worried she might secretly be a drug dealer so she ripped off all of our doll’s heads—including Barbie? I mean how many drugs can you fit in Barbie’s head? And member how she made me paranoid so I ripped off stretch monster’s head too and all of his goo came out? Member that? Stretch monster wasn’t very stretchy after that.


Now check out Paige’s blog for ‘member that time Monday!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jesus loves Frito Burritos

Last Thursday, I went to Ankeny to do a little shopping at KOHLS, and since it was lunch time on my way home, I drove through Sonic to get a bite to eat.  I got a Frito burrito.  Don’t judge me. 

I love Frito burritos because they have chili, cheesy, corn chip goodness all rolled up together in a tortilla.  Yum!  And only Sonic has them.  But I didn’t get a Diet Coke to drink with it because every week I say I am going to stop drinking Diet Coke because it’s bad for me…and because I had already had a can that morning (again, no judging—I found a past date Diet Coke in Luke’s room in his vending machine stock…not that I was looking…and I was exhausted because it felt like I had been up since 3:20—see yesterday’s post).

Anyway, once in awhile I just have to let myself eat Frito burritos and not feel guilty about it.  I’m so strict with most everything else in my life that eating fast food occasionally is probably good for my mental balance.  Sometimes I get so obsessed with being productive, organized, and structured, that I forget that God gave us Frito burritos to enjoy.  I forget that God is more concerned about character than cleaning.  I forget he is more impressed by devotion than diet.  Now, I’m not saying that being clean and eating healthfully are not admirable qualities.  They are—but not if they take the place of grace.  Grace tells us that God loves us not for what we do, but for who we are in Him.  Grace tells us to reflect His glory by loving not by legalism.  Grace says that we can enjoy freedom in Christ because we are not imprisoned by our own little idiosyncrasies of what we believe is “right” and what we believe is “wrong”. Grace gives us the ability to accept ourselves and others because God accepts us.  Grace allows us to stop, look on the face of Jesus, and enjoy his blessings…and I think one of them is Frito burritos.

Can you say amen?!


As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:38-42

Saturday, March 19, 2011

DST Revenge

3:20 is the new 4:20. 

Last week, 5 am boot camp was really hard for me.  It wasn’t the workout that about did me in, it was the getting up at what my body thought was 3:20 a.m.

Now 3:20 a.m. is just too early for anyone to be up for the day, and 4:20 is questionable, but I had adjusted to this time since I have been arising at that hour since November.  When Daylight Savings Time waltzed in early Sunday morning, I was not amused, nor rested.

So today, I got back at DST by just saying NO! I stayed in my nice warm bed with my wonderful flannel sheets until 8:00 a.m. (which would have really been 9 a.m. just one week ago). And I wasn’t tired. And I didn’t even need a nap today. It could have been that I slept almost 4 hours longer than normal.

So there, Mr. Daylight Savings Time!!  You can’t keep me down forever! I can adjust to your little game—even if the roosters still think it’s the middle of the night.


The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
   shining ever brighter till the full light of day.

Proverbs 4:18

Friday, March 18, 2011

We like what we’re used to

One of the penalties of sin is our acceptance of it. It is not only God who punishes for sin, but sin establishes itself in the sinner and takes its toll. No struggling or praying will enable you to stop doing certain things, and the penalty of sin is that you gradually get used to it, until you finally come to the place where you no longer even realize that it is sin.

Oswald Chambers -- My Utmost for His Highest


We like what we’re used to.

This week, because Luke and friends took my Suburban to Florida, I have been driving Brent’s car.  And I have a bad attitude about it; it doesn’t have an arm rest, there’s no alert chime when gas is low, the seat feels wrong.  I’m just generally unhappy operating it.  You know why?  Because I like what I’m used to, and I’m used to my Suburban.

The other day, I had Shay drive Brent’s car as we came home from a track meet together.  And she complained; the brakes were touchy, the gear shift was on the console—not the steering wheel, the seat was too far back.  She didn’t like it either.  Is it because Shay’s normal wheels are so fantastic?  No, she drives Luke’s old green Buick Century in which the windows don’t roll down, the shifting symbols (P,R,N,D) are missing (you just have to kind guess where you are by feel and hope you don’t drive off the retaining wall) and only one wiper blade works. Brent’s car is actually fairly new and smooth and (though I hate to admit it) kind of cool.  So why didn’t she like it either?  Because she likes what she’s used to, and she’s used to the Buick.

As Christians, this concept should motivate us towards righteousness and away from sin.  If we like what we’re used to, shouldn’t we make sure that we are “used to” righteousness? If pursuing righteousness is our daily routine, we will become accustomed to the thought patterns and activities that accompany it. And we will like it.  But…if our daily choices are not reflecting the renewed mind that God promises us, and if sinful tendencies have become the norm, then we become “used to” sin and it fails to shock us anymore.  In fact, it feels downright comfortable. 

We like what we’re used to. 

What are you used to?


Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bombs and Bubbles

As a child I had two great fears; bombs and bubbles.

Bombs, because I grew up in the midst of the cold war when schoolchildren had just as many “duck and cover” bomb practices as fire drills, and bubbles, because I heard my parents talking about my Uncle Virgil who had a heart attack, and Virgil had said that right before his attack, he felt like he had bubbles in his throat.

So there you have it.

I spent a lot of brain power on both of these illogical and far-fetched possibilities because I didn’t know that they were far-fetched and illogical. I just thought they were scary because they were beyond my control: every time a plane flew over my head just a little too loudly, I mentally prepared myself to be blown to pieces; and if I drank coca cola a little too fast, I felt the lethal bubbles forming. Now you may think this strange, but it was serious business for me—this staying alive.

As an adult, I have overcome these fears, but I have replaced them with other scary things—more things out of my control. I’m scared that Brent might get sick. I’m scared that my children might be in an accident. I’m scared that I might be unproductive. I’m scared people might not like me.

I think these fears of mine look silly to God. He assures me that He’s in control. He says if I will trust Him, I will have peace. He says when I insist on anxiety, I am stubborn and foolish. When I live my life acting as if He isn’t in control, I cannot rest in Him. But He commands that I rest in Him. Why do I -–with my puny life--struggle against the Creator of the Universe? Because I don’t see my fears as illogical; and I don’t understand that HE is truly in control-- that He wants what’s best for me. I don’t really trust Him.

But I want to.

The Israelites had trouble with this concept too. They kept thinking they could do as they wanted. They kept forgetting that God was in charge. Here’s what I read in Isaiah 48 today:

This is what the LORD says—
   your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
   who teaches you what is best for you,
   who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands,
   your peace would have been like a river,
   your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
(Isaiah 48:17,18)

I want rivers, not bombs; waves, not bubbles; trust, not fear; calm, not chaos.

I want what’s best for me. Teach on, Lord Jesus, teach on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Prepare to Yield

Yesterday, as I was driving to Tess’ track meet, I really wanted to look in the rearview mirror to check my hair since I was having a bad hair day like I do most days (I am convinced that God gave me bad hair to keep my humble), but I was on the highway and big trucks were coming at me and I had to stay on my side of the road, so I decided to fight the desire to evaluate my hairstyle.

Here’s the deal.  I really, really wanted to look in the mirror, but I knew I had to keep my eyes straight ahead to be safe, so I did, because I knew that doing anything else would just be foolish.

I wanted to “yield” to myself, not to the road, but I forced myself to keep my attention on my driving.  I did not do what came naturally.  Why do I not always make this choice when it comes to really important things?  Why do I often feel like I can’t fight my “natural” impulses?  Because I have allowed myself to be controlled by things other than Christ.  Oswald Chambers says it like this:

The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.

... There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— "I must have it now," whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. ". . . He has anointed Me . . . to proclaim liberty to the captives . . ."

When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, "Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like," you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, "He will break every fetter," while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.

What are you allowing yourself to “yield” to?  Anything other than Jesus is going to cause you to crash.

And that would give you a really bad hair day.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 6:16


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wrinkle Releaser

I don’t believe in laundry baskets.

Now, let me clarify:  I believe in laundry baskets if they are used to put your dirty clothes in to transfer them to the washer, but I don’t believe in taking my laundry out of the dryer, putting it into a basket and then letting the clothes sit there on top of each other getting wrinkly.  I can be a big procrastinator and if I let myself use laundry baskets for my fresh, clean, out-of-the-dryer clothes, they no longer end up being fresh and clean but forgotten and creased.  So…I make myself fold my laundry right out of the dryer because I am sort of anal about stuff like this.  I make myself do a lot of things in my real life.  Which is why I am way more fun on vacation because vacation is not my real life.  But, as a clarifier, I still like you if you use laundry baskets to put your clean clothes in—my kids do it all the time since they do their own laundry and don’t care about their appearances. So keep doing it at your own house—just not at mine.

I tell you all of this as a setting for my story which follows:

The other day I was pretty busy and I didn’t really have the time to fold the clean clothes in my dryer, but I needed to use the washer for another load—and heaven forbid that I use a laundry basket--so I stuffed the wet clothes into the dryer that was already full of dry clothes.  As I was doing this, I felt like it was a big secret and all, and that no one would ever know that two full loads were tumbling round and round in my dryer. I would just fold them both when the second load dried—because I love folding hundreds of clothing items at once—especially socks.

Well, what do you know?  When that massive load of secret laundry finally dried, EVERYTHING in the dryer was wrinkled.  EVERYTHING.

Why did this happen?  Not because I used a laundry basket and piled everything on top of each other and left it to wrinkle.  No, this happened because I tried to sidestep the guidelines I have set for myself regarding laundry.  I didn’t take the time to fold the single dry load.  I didn’t use a laundry basket because I think laundry baskets make me weak.  I put too many clothes in the dryer.  I thought I could sidestep my guidelines and still get the same successful result.  I was wrong.  And now I have lots of laundry that looks like my kids washed it.

Now, I realize that this is a ridiculous story but at the same time I think I can learn about God from it.  He sets guidelines for me on the way I should think and act and live my life.  Sometimes when I am busy or stressed or just apathetic, I try to go around these “laws”.  Sometimes I just ignore them because they don’t seem to make sense—like my laundry basket ban. But then I find out that my “secret” way wasn’t really all that successful and I end up wishing I had just done it the way God said to do it.

God’s ways are always the best, you know.  And we are always unwise when we think we know better than Him.  We don’t.  And we can’t.

Things will always turn out wrinkly if we attempt them on our own. Even if we think we’re being sneaky.


Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:13

Monday, March 14, 2011

‘member that time?

This ‘member that time’ is dedicated to my sister, Tanya, who graduated from college in Home Economics Education. This episode obviously occurred before she took her nutrition classes.

‘member how when we were babysitting the Kaldenbergs one night and they were like, “We want popcorn!” And member how we had never used a popcorn popper ever before? And member how we looked for corn oil to put in the popper, but found corn syrup instead and we thought it would work just as well? Member that? And member how it didn’t really work out and member how hard the corn popper was to clean?

I always use canola oil now because there is no such thing as canola syrup and that way I don’t get confused.

Now check out Paige’s blog for ‘member that time Monday!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Dead Man Walking

Here’s another tale from my fascinating childhood:

When I was little, my parents were good friends with morticians. Yes, people who prepare dead people for their funerals.  Now most morticians that I know of today have their businesses in office buildings or old fancy mansions or in abandoned Godfather’s Pizza restaurants ( if you live in Ames). But since Clinton, Minnesota was soooo small –600 people—now 599 minus the dead one—these morticians had their business right inside their home.

Now, if the fact that a dead person was laying in a casket in the spare room isn’t enough to make you feel a little queasy, try being a 7 year old visiting that house on a stormy evening. Try being a 7 year old sent into that dead room ALONE.

“Hey Tori, we want to play Sorry.  Why don’t you just go into the spare room and get the game at the top of the closet.”

And being the obedient child that I pretended to be at other peoples’ houses, I got up from the table where the couple’s teenage daughter, Debbie, was sharing her sandwich with Bridget, the poodle (and I mean SHARING—she took a bite, the dog took a bite, she took a bite…you get the idea—eewwww—I mean why couldn’t Debbie stop eating dog saliva and get the game? She was used to dead people.  She slept in that house, for goodness sake!) and I walked slowly to the dead room.  As I opened the accordion door that separated the dead room from the main living area, the smell of formaldehyde flooded my senses and I saw the caskets. And I knew that at least one of them held dead men.  Or maybe all of them. And maybe some dead women too.  So, keeping my eyes straight ahead of me and making my little legs move as fast as they possibly could in my state of fear, I made my way quickly to the closet, pulled out the game, and made it out of the room alive!  I was truly terrified that one of those waxy dead guys was going to sit up in their caskets and grab me and that everybody would be so busy talking about cabins and Girls Scouts and rice pudding, that no one would ever find me and I would be stuck forever in the dead room with all of the dead people.

Well, thankfully, this kidnapping by the deceased never occurred, and I even remember entering the room a few other times to get folding chairs or a tablecloth or something and I always came back to join the living.  I guess no one cared then about the damage that would do to my 7 year old psyche.  Living people didn’t really care about psyches then.  But sometimes I do wonder, why couldn’t we have had them over to our house once in awhile?  We didn’t even have a dead room, but we had a clothes chute that went from the upstairs to the basement!  It was so cool!  We could have shown them that!  And then, maybe, they would think I was so important and special that they would never send me into the dead room again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Back on the Ottoman

What’s wrong with me? I’m walking around on the ottoman again! I am no smarter than my cat.

After I had written about jumping in the dark, and after I had gone to bed for the night, I foolishly began making a beeline for the ottoman. I didn’t really mean to get stuck there again, but I didn’t make the conscious decision to trust God and that’s where I ended up—crying for someone to rescue me from my fears. Here’s the story:

Because Cole is nearly 13 (tomorrow) and because Brent is such a great dad, the duo left early in the afternoon yesterday to go on an adventure. When we asked Cole what he wanted for his birthday, he said that he wanted to go out into the wilderness, build a shelter with his new little hatchet (a Christmas present from Uncle Tim), and sleep in it. So…this is what they did.

When they left for their outdoor evening, the weather was a balmy 48, but as they slept in their homemade creation, the temperature dropped dramatically and the wind-chill made their outside home feel like 8 degrees!

As I lay in bed listening to the wind blow, I worried about them and hoped that they were not dying of hypothermia—my first steps toward the ottoman.

Then, during my fitful sleep, I received a phone call from Luke (who is on his way to Florida with some friends—driving!) at 2 AM telling me “Hey Mom, the transmission failed in the suburban and we are about 20 miles outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee. We are waiting to be towed.” Great. More worrying, less sleeping, now climbing on the ottoman.

After feigning sleep for a few more hours and waking to daylight, I decided to check in with my men. Luke answered his phone and tells me that they slept in the car for awhile, but the service shop that they had been towed to was not open on Saturday, so they pushed the Suburban 4.8 miles—up hills and through downtown Chattanooga—to a car dealership where it could be fixed (too bad we own two transmission shops in Iowa). And now, since the car won’t be done until Tuesday, Luke and crew decide to rent a car to drive the remaining 10 hours south. Good thing at least one of them was 21 and had a credit card. I am now firmly on top of the ottoman starting to circle.

My other men were still unaccounted for so I texted them—asking them if they were still alive. Nothing. I called them and told them to call me back. Nothing. I took a shower and tried to act like I wasn’t circling on top of the ottoman crying. But I was.

I was sure that Brent and Cole had either died from overexposure or that their handmade shelter collapsed on top of them or that the fire got too close to them and burned their sleeping bags—with them in it—thus rendering them unable to answer the phone. They were probably laying there unconscious waiting to be rescued—and I didn’t even know exactly where they were—which is why I thought maybe I should call the police. Circling the ottoman—crying—too scared to jump.

And then I got on my knees beside my bed and began to pray. and jump. off of the ottoman. where I never should have gone.

At least I knew how to get down without falling on my head.

Then Brent called (and I hadn’t even called the police) and said that he and Cole had gone on a morning hike. They weren’t dead! Praise God!

Then Luke called and said that they had been able to rent a larger car—instead of the two they thought they might need—and they were again on their way—safely. Praise God!

So that’s my story. I guess I kind of have a pea brain just like Sandy. But God likes me anyway and he wishes I would stop crying and climbing. He wishes I would start trusting. Really trusting.

I hope tonight is less eventful, but even if it isn’t, I will stay away from the ottoman—God willing, Christ enabling, Tori trusting.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Friday, March 11, 2011


Ok. Just one more lesson I learned from my blind cat:

She is so afraid of falling.

And why shouldn’t she be? She can’t see what’s below…or what’s ahead of her…or how far down it is. Scary stuff. So, she sits on the ottoman and meows and meows and meows, wanting someone, anyone, to show her the way to safety.

I watched her for a full ten minutes today as she tried to descend from an eighteen inch high ottoman. Even though she had just climbed up there moments before, her little pea brain obviously couldn’t remember how far down “safety” was (I say this with affection). If I were a cat, I think I would remember, but maybe not. Anyway, she circled round and round on top of the little stool—getting precariously close to the edges, but not daring to take the plunge to the floor. She kept crying and crying because she was in what she perceived as danger. And I kept watching and watching (of course she didn’t know that I was there; she can’t see…or hear). Every once in awhile, she would just stop and lay her little head on her paws and seemingly give up the struggle. But then she would get up again and start circling. When she finally became desperate to descend, she got a little braver and stretched herself out flat on the ottoman reaching her front paws beyond the edges until finally she found the wood beam supporting the structure below, she pulled herself farther, then did a somersault off the thing. I guess blind cats don’t always land on all fours.

Normally, after seeing her struggle so, I will have pity and lift her down myself. Today, though, I wanted to see what would happen if I let her face her fears. I didn’t think she could hurt herself too badly (although she may be wearing a helmet next time you visit) and I wanted her to learn that sometimes she just has to trust that the floor will catch her. She needed to learn to jump to safety even though she couldn’t see. But...I’m pretty sure she didn’t learn any of these things and will just do the same thing next time—silly cat (I say this with affection).

Aren’t we like that? We get ourselves stuck somewhere and we feel like we can’t get down. We cry and complain and try everything we can think of to get off our little “ottomans”. But we forget that safety just takes a little “jump” of trust. Then, when we do decide to jump, we hold onto our folly with our front paws because we are so terrified, and we end up falling on our heads. All because we neglected to remember our last jump in the dark.

God wants us to trust Him in the dark. He can be trusted—even when we can’t imagine the outcome.

He is TRUST-WORTHY. And we are blind cats who forget.

Let’s start remembering…and jumping.

Try it! You’ll land in His hands.

And you won’t even need a helmet.

But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God. My times are in your hands…”

Psalm 31:14-15

Monday, March 7, 2011

‘member that time?

Well, I’ve been a little under the weather and I haven’t done a very good job posting on here lately…but this is one thing I can do--link to Paige’s blog for ‘member that time Monday! Check it out:


‘member that one time at Grandma Crow’s when Tanya drew the Froot Loop bird really well and Grandma was like “Look, everyone! Tanya drew Toucan Sam. She is so talented!” And member how I tried to draw Toucan Sam too, but Grandma didn’t show anyone my paper? Member that? I never tried to copy a cereal box again.

I’m actually still pretty bitter about this one.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Water Man

Based on John 4:1-28

It is nearly noon.

Hair sticks to my neck and temples in ringlets. The dampness of my sweat has made my skirt heavy and I walk slowly. Little rivers run down my spine and behind my knees as the heat punishes me. I see it laughing as I look at the little waves of hotness hovering above the path—distorting my view of the well—Jacob’s well.

The water pot on my head gives some relief as it blocks the direct rays of the sun, but its weight makes the pounding behind my ears nearly unbearable.

I am weary.

I am thirsty.

I am so thirsty.

As I shuffle along, feet gray from the dust, I notice something, someone, sitting there—at our well—at Jacob’s well…a foreigner—a man.

“Will you give me a drink?”

Is he really asking me? I am a woman—a Samaritan? I think he is a Jew. Why does he speak? Jews abhor Samaritans. Men do not approach women in this way—and never Samaritan women. Suddenly I stiffen in fear and look behind me hoping the others are not far off. I see no one. Tentatively, I speak…

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”


As I say this, I look into his eyes.

He is a peaceful man.

He will not hurt me.

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Emboldened by his gentleness—his acceptance—I speak again…

“Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

He doesn’t answer my questions, but continues telling me about this water—His water. Living water.


I am so thirsty.


“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Just think; no more thirst; an eternal spring in me! This cannot be!

“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Is he crazy—this water man at Jacob’s well?

I start to leave, my pot unfilled. The water man’s words make me feel strange.

And then he says it:

“Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,”  I reply.

He has no idea what kind of woman I am. Dirty. Damaged.



So thirsty.


I want to get away. I turn again, but he catches me gently.

He touches me.

A Samaritan.

He puts his hand to my face, my cheek in his palm. My tears fall, making stripes on his dirt-covered skin and he tells me,

“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

His words, so soft I can barely hear them, do not condemn.

They search.

They see.

They know. How do they know? Who is this man who sees what I have done? Who tells me everything I ever did?


My mind is racing.

My mouth is dry. I cannot swallow.

I am so thirsty.


His hand lowers slowly. He is a prophet…speaking of our Father—Jacob’s Father—YAHWEH.

I am confused, but I no longer want to leave. I want to hear his voice. Does he know of God’s promised one? The salt of my tears releases my tongue:

“I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

His eyes bore into my damaged spirit. He comes closer. Quietly, he speaks again.

“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Suddenly, the wind stirs the sand. Clouds thunder affirmation. Water rains down from Heaven. It drenches my clothes, my face. It fills my water pot, my soul.

He is here! My Savior!

And He loves me! He loves me!


I thirst no more.