Just Watch

imageI know that God is always working, never sleeping, never lazy. He is not loligagging about on Sunday morning with coffee, and paper, and slightly crooked reading glasses while He waits for the Mrs. to make His over-easy eggs. I know that God is ever loving; He is not standing back and pointing fingers, consternation in His eyes, glaring at my paltry attempts of goodness or rightness or simply being honest. I know that God has purpose, and plan, and wisdom for those who seek. He is not willy-nilly sending lightning bolts or sickness or creating obstacles for us to overcome and yet those things come. Somehow, they still come.

I know that God is good and He is mystery and love and light and strength and depth and joy and I cannot comprehend how I can know these things and yet feel the awful dread begin to rise, like a knotted up stomach dawning like the sun, growing hotter, bigger, faster.  It’s as if my head and heart just aren’t on speaking terms when one knows that God is good and one is faced with fear, and weakness, and yes, yes, a faltering, failing, knee-weakening anxiety. And what must have I done to deserve this fear and yes, yes, this faltering, failing, knee-weakening anxiety?

My thoughts toss around like a toy boat in a whirl pool, and I question imageeverything I’ve thought so far. And I wish that God would speak to me, and comfort me, and tell me I am on the right path, the right track, not lagging in the passing lane or stalling in the turn with broken blinker, without brakes. I ask God to show me what He’s up to, what He’s planted, what will grow, and where I’ll go. If I only knew what He was thinking. And speaks to me, He does, with gentle, prodding words that are a healing soothing balm that seals the cracks in my weary little soul. He says in words that only my heart can hear,

“Just watch.”

And peace settles in like the dust, and my heart is calmed like the moonbeam shadows on a cool clear night. God’s voice, softer than a whisper, louder than the ocean, restores my faith, bandages my broken places, sparking deep-rooted joy that only comes riding on the waves of His mercies.

imageHis voice, His words. his Words  created the world, His words  stilled the storm, his words written in His Book, His words spoken in my heart. There is unspoken power in His words. Unending Grace. Indefatigable hope.

“Just watch”

 

God’s not done

IMG_8904I like to have a plan. And I like it when my plan goes as planned. When everything fits into a neat little box and the day goes just as I wanted it to and I finish everything that I listed on my “To Do” list and no one is late and nothing goes wrong and everything happens just as I thought it would. And I like the next day and the next and the next to go as planned, too, with no bumps in the road and no falling short of the plan and no interruptions or changes or anything other than the plan and the future going just as I planned. I don’t what surprises in my future or bumps in my road or anything that isn’t supposed to be in the plan. Unless it is surprises of chocolate or coffee or flowers or chickens, I just want my future to go forward as planned.

And I don’t really like that so much of my future is already in my past and so many of the days earmarked for me have already passed me by and I haven’t accomplished nearly what I though I would or what I think I should by this many years. And I had plans from the time I was just tiny and small and had most of my days ahead of me and I just thought life would go as planned, and don’t we all think that? That when we are small and life seems so possible and the future so big and so long and so far away so we dive into our plans until one day we realized nothing went as we had planned because the future brought us so many bumps in our roadway and surprises that weren’t really chocolate or coffee but surprises that brought us ups and downs and good and bad and a lot of growth that got in the way of all of our plans.

But there is a goodness that comes from having so many years behind instead of in front because you learned from all of those surprises that God’s just not done, no matter how many breaths you’ve taken and how many more you have left God hasn’t stopped working and He’s just not done with you yet. And you learn that when surprises come and you have to put a pause on those glorious, hard sought plans that sometimes, new plans, better plans, than you ever thought possible come about. And when you’ve had so many years that have had a bunch of bad days, you see that no matter how bad those days were you kinda made it through somehow, someway, and if you did it before you can do it again. So now you’ve got this big bump in your road and it looks like a mountain and you think it has stopped all of the plans you had dreamed about and lived for and focused on and now you wonder if you will ever be able to make plans again. You can look back on all of those years and all of those breaths and all of those times you thought you wouldn’t get to make a plan or walk that path and you remind yourself that God is just not done and if there are more breaths to take then there are more plans to make. And God will take those broken plans and fashion and form and grow you and suit you to a new and a bigger and a better plan.

IMG_2590And we worry and fret and fear because we can’t see the future on the other side of that bump or that mountain that’s blocking our path but Jesus said don’t fear and Jesus said don’t worry and Jesus said He loves you so take another breath because you’re not running out of them right at this time and if there are more breaths to take there are more plans to make and when the future is uncertain and surprises and bumps come and go remind yourself, from all those years that God’s just not done and the future isn’t gone and you can climb that mountain or scale that cliff or jump that bump.  Hurdle that fear and hurdle that bump and hurdle the idea that you can’t make new plans and take that big breath and take the first step. God knows the future and God knows the plans and God knows the days and the breaths that we have left and when we’re surprised by it all God is not ever surprised or caught off guard.

And the future will pause and the plans will crumble or come to a halt, and maybe you’ll falter and maybe you’ll fall but God doesn’t fail and God won’t forget and God’s just not done yet.

 

Monday

100_8863When it’s Monday, and the alarm clock is yelling to get you out of your bed and the coffee maker is clogged up yet again and you can’t remember if the kids did their homework or if the field trip is today or last week.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and all you want to do is sleep, glorious sleep, because it’s your only refuge from the hardness of the weekend but you have to get up because there are tiny hungry tummies and carpools to drive and noses to wipe and work to get done and gardens to plant and music to rehearse and lessons to plan.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday, and you never did get caught up on those bills that need paid and the laundry that’s mounded up in the laundry room and the hallway and the sun’s not even risen but you’re up and you’re taming tantrums and kissing away booboos and you just don’t want to think.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and you’re still tired from the weekend and you’re exhausted and it hurts to move and the morning feels raw and you have regrets for the things you did and regrets for the things you didn’t do and you think you really just messed up.

God is faithful.

IMG_2922When it’s Monday and the lawnmower is broken and the laptop is barely working and the toilet won’t flush and there are bugs where there aren’t supposed to be bugs and you’re pretty much in the worst mood ever.

God is faithful.

When it’s Monday and your week is already falling apart and your life is already falling apart and nothing was supposed to happen this way.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday and the sun is shining and the birds are singing and you love your work and your children are happy and everything is right in the world.

God is faithful.

When the kids are singing “King of kings and Lord  of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way to school just because.

God is faithful.

And when the kids are fighting because they were singing “Kind of kings and Lord of lords” at the top of their lungs all the way school and it got to be too loud for their own little ears.

God is faithful.

When your son holds up the entire car line of children trying to get in to school because he just wants you to meet his little friend and they come to the car and run off into school holding hands.

God is faithful.

And when news from work and news from school and news from your friends is nothing but bad news.

God is faithful.

And when you just want life to go back to the way it was and you know that it just can’t ever go back.

God is faithful.

IMG_0906 - CopyAnd when it’s good and it’s bad and it’s both all at the same time and you cannot take it all in so you just don’t even try.

God is faithful.

And when it’s Monday or it’s Tuesday or it’s Friday or it’s Saturday God is faithful.

And when things are going right and things are going wrong and things are completely out of our control all we can do is trust in the one who has always been who always will be faithful.

And when you need to remember that He has pulled you through before and He will overcome again take a big breath and let it out and turn it over to Him.

God is faithful.

That one thing to find God when you’re too busy

Devotional time. Epic fail #532.

Foiled again. I have such plans to be such a super Christian. To read my Bible through and through every three months. To pray – really pray – fervently pray – on my knees, all alone, with Scripture, and a list, and incense, and intercession, and kick the devil and his sickness and his sin to the curb kind of pray. But I am busy and I am tired and I am weary from the stresses of this world and I have too much work and too few hours in these really long days and I just don’t know how I can be a super Christian without super praying and super Bible reading when somehow I just can’t seem to get off by myself, to be alone, so I can listen to God and learn to know and love His voice. I can’t seem to bring myself to open my Bible and read. Anything. Any of it. Any where. And I really can’t seem to bring myself to pray when I am this broken and tired and all I want to do is close my eyes and not pray but sleep instead and then I am overcome by the deepest of guilt because I know that I should be so excited about God that I just don’t need sleep because I am so filled up with Him and His Word. And so my super plans are a super fail and I am pretty sure that God hasn’t really called me to be a super Christian anyway. And I still feel the guilt and I still feel a little less lovable because I am not who or what or why or where I want to be.IMG_4025

I’m pretty sure that God has called me to Himself. And I’m pretty sure that God wants my heart more than anything else. And I am really sure that becoming some pious super-Christian won’t make God love me any more or less, any deeper or wider, any closer or farther. And I am really sure that God is not surprised that I am busy and tired and weary and struggling to pray and read my Bible because He knows this earthly life from the inside and the out. First He made it, in love and in care and in fastidious design, and then He stepped right out of heaven and He lived it so He would know how much it hurts to be busy and how much more we need Him when we’re busy and how hard it is to pray when we are tired and how much more we need to pray when we are tired. And the best part about it is that He gets it- He really really gets it – not like the oncologist understands other people’s cancer but like the patient who is on the other side of chemotherapy with scares and the scars to prove it. He has lived it, the tired and the busy and the weary and the aching longing need to find rest in His heavenly Father.

And there is no simple answer to the tired and the busy and their is no quick fix for the weary and the stress and there is no magic formula to eradicate that guilt. There is only moving forward. There is only a tiny step, or sideways hop, and an itty bitty crawl or scoot or limp or leap – however you can move forward to reach for God, however fast, or slow, or how great the effort to move so small, we make the move towards Him and He will bridge the gap, He already has bridged the gap and He will always bridge the gap because He has promised us that it is so. He has promised us that He will reward those who have faith to who seek Him in earnest. It doesn’t matter the distance, or the weakness, or the gap; it only matters the ‘earnest’ and the faith.

IMG_0696It doesn’t matter the alone-ness of your seeking.

It doesn’t matter the quantity of your seeking.

It doesn’t matter the eloquence or the alertness or the knowledgeable-ness, or the Super Christian-ness of your seeking.

Only the faith and the seeking is of consequence; the rest will be bridged by the one who has lived it and come out the other side, the distance covered by the one with the scars of sacrifice, the guilt absolved by the author, perfecter, rewarder of our faith.  Don’t give up when you are tired and weary and stressed and run down and scared and alone or wishing you were alone and don’t give up when this is epic fail #5 million 32 because the gap has been bridged and you need only do the seeking. So say the sleepy jumbled up prayers with a desperate heart and a faith that knows that God hears and understands and answers every prayer no matter how messy, no matter how sleepy. Read the jotted down Bible verse on the crumpled up sticky note until it sticks in your head and sticks in your soul and sticks for sure in your every action no matter how short that verse or long. That word, or phrase, or verse, or chapter scribbled on the sticky or tweeted or sung – those are God’s Words and there is no limit to their power or their breadth or their scope so long as they stick, so long as you are seeking.

And that thing you need most to find the God who gave all is not the perfect devotional time or the right amount ofimagereading or the effectiveness of your praying or the incense or mood or the anything else at all; that thing you need most to connect with the Creator who has already bridged the gap is that heart that you have, all broken and bruised and torn and tired and earnestly seeking and that faith that you can muster, no matter how small, to believe that He is bridging the gap. And you don’t have to believe me, the failed super Christian who is tired and weary and can’t get it right so long as you believe the one who already lived the life that is busy and tired and broken and bruised and who reaches for us from the other side, the new life, the guiltless life, the resurrected, perfected, and everlasting life. You cannot fail when He rewards you with Himself.

Believe. Seek. Earnestly.

 

I heart salsa. Or how to grow your own salsa garden on your very own homestead.

IMG_0174I never saw myself as much of a gardener, until last year when I suddenly developed an appreciation for being able to plant, nurture, and harvest vegetables right in my own yard. Maybe it was the joy of my 5 year old, who would grab a juicy tomato right off the vine, and bite into like a golden delicious apple. Or maybe it’s how my very picky 8 year old will crunch away at fresh green peppers just as willingly as a chocolate chip cookie. Or maybe it was knowing where my food was coming from. Likely, it was the peace and joy I found from connecting with God in my garden. When things got hectic, I would steal away and visit my garden, and enjoy a little alone time with God over my precious tomatoes. My husband called it therapy. Tomato therapy.

Well it must have worked wonders, because last summer, I had a bumper crop of tomatoes. I mean, massive amounts of tomatoes. I mean, had I sold them at the grocery store, the profits from the tomatoes alone would have covered the cost of putting in the entire garden, from renting the tiller, to buying the fence, to buying all the pre-started plants for the garden.  But I didn’t do that. Instead, I learned to make salsa. I love salsa. And I especially love homemade salsa, because I can completely customize it to my taste. We ate  lot of salsa last summer, froze a lot of salsa last summer, as well as a few other tomato based dishes. It was completely successful, so I am planning my own little ‘salsa garden’ within my garden. You can do this too, and you can start it now, inside. (Keep reading for the link to my homemade salsa recipe).IMG_0171

Salsa gardens do very well in pots, raised beds, and in regular gardens. They are pretty much fool proof, even for beginners like me. Tomatoes and peppers are self-pollinating, so you should be able to bring your pots indoors at the end of the season to get at least a few more weeks out of your plant. Just be sure to bring them back in before it frosts!

Here’s how to start – Fill up a couple of empty cardboard egg cartons with organic seed starting mixture (yes, you can buy organic dirt! ) Plant your peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro seeds in your egg cartons. Keep them moist and place them in a warm sunny location inside, away from frost and cold. After the sprouts have started, you can cut apart the cartons and plant them right in your pot, green house or garden (after the danger of frost is done). You’ll also want some onion sets! And anything else you’d like to put in your salsa!

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If you’re not ready to try your hand at starting seeds, you can pick up already started plants at Walmart or your local garden store. Or get one of these cute little kits from amazon (this is an affiliate link): Salsa Garden Kit.  I’ve already got some seeds started in my library, but I’m ready to plant some more. I’m planning on at least 20 tomato plants and 20 pepper plants this year, but maybe I’ll find room to squeeze in a few more! After all, you can never have too many tomatoes to share. And with your abundance, you can pass on a little bit of the peace and joy and love you feel from God when you spend time alone with Him, over your tomato plants.

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And now… the moment you’ve been waiting for… SALSA! I hope you enjoy the recipe – please let me know if you try it and how you adjust it to make it your very own. And may God fill your heart abundantly
as you enjoy an abundance of delicious summer garden salsa.

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Why?

Such a tiny term, that little word why, but the very sound of it is like the screech of nails on the world’s largest chalkboard. Each and every utterance of that one word invokes a desire in me to head for the hills… or at least disappear mentally into my happy place. Why why why must they ask why?

Being the mom of a rather large lot of rather small children, I hear the word

Why?
Why?

“why” incessantly. Why won’t they stop asking me why? I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the word “why.” I think I could fully fund my children’s college educations. Every. Single. One of them.  My children love the word why.

For the most part, I can put each “why” into one of 2 categories. There’s the quest for more information – the curious why. When my children really want to know why there are chickens living in our garage or why the cat left a 4-footed present at the foot of the bed. Why does the sun come up every morning? Why do I go to school today? Why do we have Christmas?

This kind of why, I love. I love that my children are curious about their world. I love that they want to know more. I love being given opportunites to share with them the things that are important to me. And I love those precious moments of everyday conversation that build our relationship.

Why did God make rainbows? Why did Jesus die? Why don’t you give me a hug right now?

Those kinds of why’s make my heart happy.

And there’s that other “why?.”  It’s the why that gets under my skin, every time. It’s full of attitude. Selfishness. Stubbornness. It’s not a question, it’s a complaint. Not spoken with curiousity, but the kind of defiance that toddlers are known for.

“Honey, please put your shoes on.” “Why.”

It’s a statement of rebelliousness.

“Sweetie, it’s time to pick your toys up.” “Why!”

A rejection of authority.

“It’s time to go now.” “WHY.”

It’s a demand for independance. Just like Frank Sinatra once crooned, “I’ll do it my way.” This kind of a why is more like “Oh heck no.” “I don’t” “I won’t” “Huh-uh” “Nada” “Never” “Not” “Nope” and “No way.” And I hear this why the most.

How often do we say that to God?

When God says, sell your posessions and give to the poor and we say, “Why. I like my stuff.”
When God says care for the orphan and the widow, and we say “But I’m too busy…”

When God says follow me and we say “I can’t right now. I won’t”

When God said, this is the path I have for you, and I say “But, really God, why.”

Why must I do this? Why must my life be this way? Why?

When God says love me above all else, and we say, “Why God?” We are showing Him our rebellion, not love. Our selfishness, not giving. When we endure hardship, and we ask God, “WHY.” When we don’t get our own way, and we ask God “why?” When we don’t have all of the money or the stuff that we want and we say “Why why why?”  And we ask when we’re not really curious, we’re just complaining because we don’t have our way.

But God is far more patient than I am. He handles my “why” far better than I can handle my children’s. I have a lot to learn about patience, but God the Father never runs out of patience for His children.

I try to hide my rolling eyes and my grimaced face when my kids proclaim their displeasured: “WHY.” I stuff down my own bad attitude for the 437th time in a day that “why” crosses the threshhold to my ears. “Because I’m your Mom and I make rules to keep you safe,” I respond with all the kindness and gentleness and sweetness I can muster (which, all too often, isn’t really all that much). God’s patience never runs out. God’s love for us is never quelled by our rebellious, stubborn, independent selves. God can handle our ungrateful “why” because of who He is.

“Because I AM.”

I hate to admit it. It bothers me terribly when my kids say it, because, sadly, I say it, too.

“Why?”

 

 

Slow Down and Sleep

It took me a week, an over-filled, sweaty, ripe, grimey, headachey week to find 42 minutes to plop myself on my plumped up sofa, prop my feet on the coffee table, and zone out for an episode of Bones on my laptop. Yes, it took a good 7 days to find that quality time to spend with Hulu. And do you know what happened?

I promptly fell asleep.

What’s going on here? Am I that old? I don’t even have enough energy to relax! Something is very wrong. How can I discover God’s hand in my life – how can I gaze in awe at Him – if I can’t stay awake? If I am so busy that I fall asleep the moment I sit down, then I need to make a change. When people talk about priorities, they usually mean putting family first, or making time to spend with God, or date nights with their spouse. But what about sleep? Where does rest fit in? Somewhere, I read that Rick Warren commented on this when he said that sometimes, the most spiritual thing that we can do is to take a nap.  Our human bodies need rest, and I am no exception. The problem is, how?

My life is so full that I get in the bad habit of thinking that the only thing that can give anymore is sleep. And with 6 small children in my house, uninterrupted sleep is impossible to find when babies need fed in the early morning hours, nightmares need soothed, and cups of water need to be dispersed. With all this nighttime activity, I need to spend more quality time with my pillow as well as weed out some of those energy sappers – scrolling Facebook on my phone is one of them. Oh, I’m not anti-facebook at all, it’s a great tool. But filling every second of each day with mindless scrolling and random information doesn’t give our brains the needed time to process the days events and emotions, and it distracts us from thinking about God. I’m not going to say I won’t scroll at all – but maybe I can give those spare minutes a good trim? To let my mind wander over God’s gifts rather than Facebook memes and status updates.

So there are 2 steps that I’m taking this week towards finding more awe and wonder in my life. The first is to keep tracking my sleep with my Fitbit, and keep trying to add a few minutes to my night time by doing little things like shortening my shower, enlisting the kids’ help in cleaning up toys, and heading to bed a few minutes sooner. 6 hours of sleeping is my goal, and last night I didn’t even clock 4 1/2. I can’t keep this up.

The second step I’m taking this week is to cut down on cell phone app usage, including Facebook. Whenever I have a few seconds to wait, such as in the parent pickup line, or while waiting for the spaghetti to cook, I want to pause, and think about God first before I pull up my favorite apps or check up on my FB friends. Less information for my brain to sort through means less brain power being used, and more energy being reserved for things that matter all the more.

2 small changes. Let’s hope for some big rewards. What lifestyle tweeks are you making this week? What small things can you prioritize to make big changes in your life?

Pray for me and I’ll pray for you as we seek out the awe and wonder of God.