Monday, January 30, 2012

‘member that time?

Member that time when I was in like 6th grade and Mom left me in charge of supper because it was just going to be Dad and me?  and member how I decided to fix mac and cheese from a box and how I added 1 1/4 cup of milk instead of just 1/4 of a cup?  And member how we kind of just ate watery cheese soup with noodles because it didn’t turn out quite right?  and how Dad acted like nothing was wrong with it and said, “It tastes just fine to me”. 

Yeah, well, I learned three things from that experience:

1.  It turns out that 1 extra cup of milk makes a huge difference in the outcome of the meal.

2.  Dads will say obviously untrue things to protect their little girl’s egos.

3.  Practice makes perfect because I am a way better cook now.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Like a Child

Faith strips the mask from the world and reveals God in everything.
It makes nothing impossible and renders meaningless such words
as anxiety, danger, and fear, so that the believer goes through life
calmly and peacefully, with profound joy--like a child,
hand in hand with his or her mother.

Charles de Foucald

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
   like a weaned child with its mother,
   like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Psalm 132:2

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Father Knows Best

I haven’t done a “Things God Taught Me Through Animals” post in awhile, so here ya go…

As we all know, animals can be instinctive and sometimes pretty clever, but in actuality, they really aren’t very smart.  Example:  Neo, our very large black dog*, tries to get in the garage any time he can—after which he either attempts to position his very large furry body on the welcome mat or he stands, tail furiously wagging, and asks with his eyes to enter our comfy abode.  Sometimes, when his puppy dog eyes make me feel guilty, I will acquiesce and let the gentle creature enter, but more often than not, I will order him out since he has his own dog-cave in the lower part of our detached garage (for those of you unfamiliar with dog-caves, they are just like man-caves with many of the same amenities—except they are for dogs.  Neo has Grandpa Twedt to thank for his very comfortable pad).  Or sometimes, I force him outside because it is sunny and beautiful and I think the dog should breathe fresh air rather than gasoline fumes from our vehicles.  Either way, when I tell him to leave, I don’t explain all these reasons to him or try to convince him that I know best.  All I say is “Neo, out.”  And if Neo chooses to disregard these words of authority, I say, “Neo, obey!” and then he knows I mean it and he saunters out sadly making sure to look back before he steps over the threshold to show me how incredibly horrible I have just made him feel.  I choose to speak simply to my dog because I know that he is not able to understand the reasons that I am exiling him—and if he did understand, it probably wouldn’t make sense to him since his goal of joining us in the house trumps all of his other aspirations.

Sometimes I think God talks to us like we are dogs.**  He uses words we know and can understand, “Wait”, “Trust”, “Obey”. But there is so much meaning behind those words that we cannot yet comprehend. His way of operating is so infinitely beyond anything that we can imagine were He to take the time to explain His purposes for allowing this or that in our lives, I have a feeling much would be lost in translation—for His ways are not our ways, His thoughts not like ours. 

In the same way that Neo needs to obey me when He doesn’t fully understand, I need to trust the Creator of the Universe when I want to see the future.  God needs not explain His infinite, sovereign ways because my finite mind couldn’t grasp them anyhow.  I just need to be satisfied with what I do understand:  Wait. Trust. Obey.

Father knows best.

Every time.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”

John 14:1


* Neo, though technically operating with the IQ of a 2 year-old, teaches me lots of things as well…check out his lessons which start here

** This idea is not entirely my creation, I used some ideas I found in Practical Theology for Women and ran with them…good stuff!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Paper Dolls

When I was a little girl, I used to love to play with paper dolls—you know the kind that came with the perforated cardboard people that you could punch out in the back of the book.  The best paper doll books had perforated clothes too, but in most books, you had to cut out the clothes-–around the miniscule tabs--which was always a challenging task for my little girl hands.  Oh, what a joy it was to see my cardboard schoolgirl go from being plain in her skirt and sweater to being a princess in her gown and shawl!  All of this transformation took place with a simple change of clothes. 

As I was reading Practical Theology for Women today, I came across this quote:

“Jesus Christ—sinless, compassionate, and perfect Son of God—was literally stripped of his garments and hung naked on the cross, while God clothed us—naked, blind, and rotting in our sin—with Christ’s robe of righteousness.”

Jesus took our nakedness and gave us his Righteousness.  He got our sinfulness and clothed us with His Glory.  It seems a tad unequal, don’t ya think?  And a little too easy? (on our part—not His)  Kind of like changing the clothes on my paper doll? 

Mathematically unequal, extravagantly excessive.

But it’s what God chose to save us, to bring us back to Himself.  We repent, He forgives; we give up, He lifts up—and makes us heirs with His Son…adopted, cherished, deeply loved.

Just a simple change of clothes and we go from sinner to saint.

Oh, what a joy!

I delight greatly in the LORD;
   my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
   and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness

Isaiah 61:10

Monday, January 16, 2012

‘member that time?

I meant to post this ‘member that time? last week to embarrass honor my dad on his birthday (which was on January 8th), but inertia set in and nothing happened.  So, here it is, a week late. 

Happy Birthday Dad!

‘member that time when we lived on the acreage in Albia and Dad was trying to train our dog, Sidney, to stay on our land?  And how he lay in the ditch alongside our lane with some rolled up newspaper and a spray bottle waiting for Sidney to wander?  Because when that happened, he would spray the dog in the face and beat it with newspaper to create a negative consequence.  Member that?

And then member how Teri’s boyfriend came out to the house--in his car—by way of the lane--and asked her, “Why is your dad laying in the ditch?”  And how Teri said, “He just likes to do that sometimes” and how we all laughed and laughed? 

Yeah, well those were the good old days, when we all had time to lay in ditches and beat our dogs. 

(I’ll bet you can’t wait for Father’s Day when I tell y’all the story of how my dad chased off some would-be suitors by wearing his big puffy coat whilst holding a shotgun!  True story!)


Thursday, January 12, 2012


I have four kids, each born two years apart, two boys and two girls.  We celebrate birthdays two times a year with the two olders in September and the two youngers in March. Each child has a four letter, one syllable name that is easy to sound out and spell. I sit in my polka dotted chair most mornings and read My Utmost for His Highest first, then I work through my Bible reading plan very sequentially (this is after I have fixed a green smoothie which I force myself to drink even if it tastes like green peppers which I forgot to remove from last night’s salad before I put it in the blender). I clean my house every Monday morning and then go to Panera for a whole grain bagel and a diet coke as a reward for my drudgery.  I wash my family’s sheets every other week (I write it on the calendar) whether I want to or not and we eat our supper at 6:30 every night on unmatched Fiesta ware. Before I go to bed, I faithfully wash my face and apply all the prescribed anti-aging Mary Kay products in order—even if I just want to crawl into my clean flannel sheets and skip it.  I like to know where everything is all the time, and I start to feel panicky if my closets get out of order or if I gather too much stuff.  If I buy something that I decide I don’t like, I feel the need to rush back to the store and return it right away. I can’t leave my house for a morning unless my kitchen is clean, or for vacation unless everything is clean.  I organize my socks into dressy and sport and my clothes by color and type.  I clean my stainless appliances several times a day because they drive me crazy and I apply Frontline to my dog every month from April to October just like I’m supposed to.  I love structure and sameness.  I never rearrange my furniture or switch purses.  I don’t even decorate very much for holidays because it creates change.  I don’t like change.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t display so many OCD tendencies…as you can see in this previous post.  And sometimes I wish I was one of those spontaneous free spirited folks who can laugh at a mess and go on.  But I’m not.  I wish I were someone who could take risks and call them adventures, but really I’m pretty boring and I like just sitting in my polka dotted chair.  Sometimes I think, “Wow.  God could really use me if I were like that”.  But you know what?  I think God is strong enough to accomplish His purposes through my little idiosyncrasies, and I  don’t think I am limiting Him by being who I am. He has created each one of His children differently and uniquely—for purposes that only He knows.  And He has prepared, in advance, good works for us to do. If I could just focus on Him, and stop focusing on trying to be someone that I am not, I have a feeling that He would bring about a satisfaction with myself—not apathy, not pride—but contentment—that would enable me to see the very specific things He has for me—me specifically—OCD me—and not someone else. 

It’s OK to like myself.  God likes me and is satisfied with who He created.  And it’s my role to accept my make and model.  I’ll put that on my list ( just so I can check it off, of course).

Work on your weaknesses

Revel in your gifts

Enjoy God’s grace

Be yourself.


I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.

Psalm 139:14

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Birds

So, I fooled y’all and set some things to post when I was actually cruising around the sunny Caribbean getting tan.  And it was fun.  And the food was amazing.  And I got to ride bareback on a horse swimming in the ocean…but that’s a story for another day.  Anyway, I did lots of people watching and I have a few stories, but since I have been home, real life has been happening and I haven’t gotten to sit down and write them out.  And I don’t get ice cream here everyday whenever I want it, which is a bummer.

But here is one observation I made on our last morning on the boat.  As we were eating our breakfast outside on the deck of our ship (which was actually now at port), we noticed that the sea gulls were very brave—flying down close to people’s tables trying to steal a little breakfast for themselves. At sea, these gulls were not a problem—probably because we were moving—but on this morning, these flying thieves were bringing to my mind a certain Hitchcock movie.  While thinking about this event afterwards on the flight home, I wrote this little poem:

We tried to shoo them away, the birds

They were eating her breakfast while she stepped away for coffee

One bold sea gull even took her strip of bacon and flew off triumphant

Another left footprints in her eggs

When she returned to her table in the outdoor café

We told her the birds were eating her meal

Disgusted and mute, she left

her entire plate of food sitting, unprotected, irresistible to her flying enemies

And though we continued to chase them off again with hands and voices

they decided the risk was worth taking—some even landing on the table to dine.

So bold. So brazen. So like us.

The reason I write this is because sometimes I think that the world, with all of it’s delicacies, is very enticing to us.  We know some things are sin for us—the Bible tells us, our friends warn us, our spirits cry out to stay away, but still, our hearts and minds lust for that which is not God.  We decide that the risk of severing our intimacy with our Father is worth it—if we can just get a little taste of what we desire.  Like these birds, our appetites hunger for things which we should not have, and we become bold and brazen pursuing our sin. And like the woman, if we continue to chase that which is not God, ignoring warnings and acting triumphant, God will leave us to our own devices and our hearts will become calloused against his Glory.

Think about it.


“Hear, O my people, and I will warn you—
   if you would but listen to me, O Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
   you shall not bow down to an alien god.
I am the LORD your God,
   who brought you up out of Egypt.
   Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

“But my people would not listen to me;
   Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
   to follow their own devices.

“If my people would but listen to me,
   if Israel would follow my ways,
how quickly would I subdue their enemies
   and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the LORD would cringe before him,
   and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
   with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”

Psalm 81:8-16