Friday, May 20, 2016

A Miscellany of Journals

Several week ago:

The kids and I took for a long hike (+5 miles) several weeks ago, and they've been asking if we can go again soon. We all love it. Andrew even thanked me for "being the kind of mom that takes them out to the middle of nowhere." This was interesting (and encouraging!) to me since he has always been the one to drag his feet on challenging hikes. To varying degrees, they have all learned to appreciate the wonder, peace, and tranquility of nature, and the joy of physical exertion. In a day when kids spend too many hours in front of a screen, I am thankful.

I even love the road we take getting to the trailhead. This photo doesn't properly show the narrowness of the dirt road, or how close it runs next to a long and steep drop; we love driving it with all the windows down and hope we don't encounter another driver all the while.

The trail has a good uphill climb, but there are so many things to see along the way. I don't mind taking our time and letting the kids explore. As long as we make it back to the car before the sun sets, we may as well enjoy every little bit possible. And we do.

Jacob has always been an incessant plant whacker. We have learned to give him plenty of space.

There can be a particular beauty in death.

Andrew's best find of the day was this lizard. They tell me these kinds shoot blood out of their eyes in self-defense, but we didn't see a demonstration. 

They had loads of caterpillars cradled in their hands.

A different way to climb... UP the branches.

May 2

I think I've shared this here before, but I came across this line again recently and it caused me to think once more:

"Where you invest your love 
you invest your life."
Mumford & Sons

I ask myself, "Am I loving hard enough, and well enough? Do I have a sizable investment that is growing still more?"

May 3

When I read this verse late one night, I scribbled down the reference on an index card. It's the perfect verse to tuck into each of the boys' lunch bags. It's short (I'm pretty sure they won't stop to read something lengthy), it's to the point, and absolutely clear.

"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 

Let all that you do be done in love."

1 Cor. 16:13-14

When they came home, I asked them to think back and tell me if they acted bravely (maybe in doing something kind, even if it wasn't cool; or in telling the truth when a lie seemed easier or more advantageous; or maybe in sharing Truth with someone). We talk, and they begin to see there are many ways to be brave, and to stand firm. They learn a bit more what it is to act like men, to be strong.

And I remind them that it is often in the comfort of our own home that we can neglect to love... and that "He who conceals a transgression seeks love." (Pr. 17: 9) This, too, can be an act of bravery. Truly trusting God work out justice is brave.


I keep a running list of scripture references that I want the kids to read and reread. I type them out and stick them in all sorts of places for them to see... next to their bed, on the mirror, on the shower wall opposite the shower head...

It's my job to fill their heads with Truth, and to teach them what pleases the Lord. It's my prayer that the knowledge they are gathering will sink deep into the deepest recesses of their hearts, and that it will be life saving. God says His Word will not return void. He tells me to train up my children so that when they are old they will not depart from it. So I pray expectantly.

Thursday, May 5

This morning was a flurry of activity-- me, trying to fit a full day in by lunch time. But now I am in a hotel room sitting quiet and I can't remember what it is I always have running in my head when life is busy. There's always an ongoing dialogue in my mind as I'm running from one thing to the next-- or just plain running for exercise. My mind is hardly ever quiet or bored. Unlike the verbal or written word, my mind is always making words. In a sense it is true that I'm a quiet person, but only to the outside world. I'm always "writing" something I'd like to remember, or having conversations with people if I could, or talking to God. I do wish my mind was busy talking to God more than I do.

Now here I am in a quiet hotel room with only time on my hands and the words aren't coming as I'd like. I've joined Jon on a short out-of-town business trip. I'm hanging out at the hotel while he has his first meeting, then we'll head out for a late dinner at a favorite café. It's nice to be able to do this with him, and I enjoy wearing a different "hat" for a day. Just man and woman, husband and wife. No kids, no ministry, no school, no sports, no cooking, no cleaning... A rarity to be sure.

I had to laugh a little as we loaded our things in the car before leaving. He looked all dapper in his suit, he rolled a black hard case bag, and carried a leather briefcase that contained things like fountain pens and important papers. Me, on the other hand? I wore cropped pencil jeans, a t-shirt, and sandals. I tried to dress up a bit with some fun jewelry, and I did spend time on my hair and make up. My overnight bag is a big canvas bag which normally totes beach towels. I had to give it a good shake before could use it. My bag is filled with books and a journal, a change of clothes, and some lacy things.  :)

I should like to think we compliment each other in some good ways.

Friday, May 6, 2016

We drove around our old stomping grounds last night. After a late dinner we drove through the valley and the hills, and the Beverly Hills neighborhood where we used to take Olivia for a walk when she was a baby. One evening there was an earth quake as we walked, more like a gentle rolling of the ground under our feet. We would often head out of our little apartment in the hood, where gangsters ruled and bullets flew, and walk along the streets of this opulent community. I remember talking many times about the future, about possibilities that were presenting themselves at various junctures of time.

Today I drove some more while Jon is in his meetings. We came to this colossal place called Los Angeles the summer I turned 21. It took me a whole month or more before I mustered up the courage to drive the freeways. It didn't really matter, though, because for a long time we functioned with only one car. Jon was away during the day while I sat in a mostly empty apartment wondering what on earth I should be doing. We originally expected to be there for 2 years; little did I know we'd be there for 12. It was probably a good thing I didn't know, especially during those first few months.

Today it has been fun to drive around memory lane a bit. Some things have changed, but mostly they look the same since the nearly 5 years it's been since we moved away. I drove past the places I would shop late at night, gathering my supplies after our babies were down and Jon studied late into the night. I remember the parks where I would meet up with other mom and kids. I remember the time a man exposed himself to me in the parking lot in a "family oriented" neighborhood and how angry I was at myself for not backing out and boxing his car in while I called the police.

I drove passed the street where Jon's body was crushed and Andrew's neck was snapped in a head-on collision. It's almost like a lifetime ago.

I drove back to the hotel thinking about the relationships we had, the spiritual instruction and growth we experienced. Also the loneliness, and my searching and striving to know who I am in Christ. They were also years of following faulty ideas, and then learning to break free and follow Christ's leading still more. It would be an understatement to say that they were formative years.

The various neighborhoods we lived in, the hills, the freeways, the palaces well known and the places I escaped to... they are all special to me now. More so in retrospect because now I see how those days were used to grow and change me, and to prepare me for the future. And I am thankful for it all now.

It gives me great HOPE and excitement that there is a purpose in the things I am living now, in the easier parts of life and the more difficult. Looking back and remembering God's goodness in my life is so refreshing for the present time.

Monday, May 9

I'm reading Age of Opportunity by Paul Trip. As I've been doing since studying through college text books, it is all underlined and dog-eared. I am always in need of learning, and then of relearning over again. Underlining, writing, and reviewing all help me to internalize and put into practice.

I think parenting without hypocrisy is more rare than common, and I was thankful my eyes were opened to some areas in which I need to improve. Here are a few lines from the book I took note from:

We must not distance ourselves from the sins of our children as if they had a problem to which we can't relate. We need to identify with them. We, too, are sinners. Sin is a human condition. It is a problem that resides in our very nature. None of us is free from the disease. There is no sin that our children will ever commit that we are not capable of as well. As we admit that we are alike, we portray a personal excitement with the Gospel, because it is our only hope as well. We don't respond with a "How could you?" or "Why would you?" We parent with a humble awareness of our own sin. We understand the how and why of sin, because we have been there and we would be there apart from the glorious grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

We do not want to communicate to our children that they would be better off if they could somehow be like us! God forbid! Rather, we need to say that it is only through Christ that we have experienced any freedom from the things with which they now struggle. We are willing to share our sin struggles with them so that the mercy of Christ would be revealed through our story.   (p. 69)

Reflections on Mother's Day, 2016

Mother’s Day always seems to be a funny day to me. It’s just an odd day. If you are not in the habit of honoring and respecting your mother, then any attempt to do so on this one day of the year will naturally be received with a grain of salt. And if you are a mother with a sense of entitlement to be honored all day long because of the work you do all year long, there will assuredly be great disappointment or even resentment. I wonder if most of us fall in these categories, to one extent or another: We are faced with the fact that we don’t express our love and appreciation to our own mother regularly, and we desire affection and affirmation for our own work and sacrifice.

So in a way, it’s an uncomfortable day. For me Mother’s Day comes with a reminder that there’s room for personal growth. I could do more and I could expect less.

It's a reminder that we cannot match the love and sacrifice of a mother with simple thank you's and special meals and gifts. I will never be able to express gratitude to my mom appropriately on Mother's Day. Neither should I expect to feel appropriately thanked.

Perhaps this is where the Lord pointed me to greater freedom this year. I realized that in the past I've come into Mother's Day with a secret sense of entitlement. I'm just being honest. Entitlement is what explains a nagging sense of disappointment at the end of the day. This year, I understood my error before hand. I am not entitled to anything, and I certainly don't want to invite disappointment.

The truth is, I love being a mom. I'm thankful for each of my precious kids and for my treasure of a husband who made me a mom! I am in love with them all and I am undeserving of them in my life. I would rather become a woman who looks at her children with joy and gratitude on Mother's Day (and every day, for that matter), and thanks her husband for enabling and supporting her in her role. I have determined to approach this day with a different perspective now.

As busy as it is in this pastor's home on Sundays, Jon still took me out to a special lunch with the kids after church. Also, I was blessed with loads of fun jewelry. They were all super sweet.

Monday, May 16

There have been a couple events in my lifetime that God used to really shape my thinking and strengthen my faith. Trials are typically what God uses to produce those changes in me. They are the 'winds that blow us to heaven's gates.'

One of the most significant ways in which God has deepened by faith-- bringing peace in the midst of trial or uncertainty-- is in my understanding of His steadfast love and sovereignty. Knowing that God's sovereign plan works in conjunction with His love for me has allowed me to rest more peacefully in the midst of hardship and uncertainty.

The title of the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul" has sort of been a theme or motto in recent years. I suppose it began way back when my husband's younger brother passed away at the age of 14. (Jon and I were dating at the time, and on the verge of high school graduation.) I believe we sang this hymn at his service, and it made quite an impact on me. The words have grown dearer to me as I've faced various difficulties in my adult years. In fact, by the grace of God, they were on my lips when I faced the real possibility of widowhood. The God-given peace I felt as I waited for the ambulance to arrive at the ER was so tangible to me. That feeling of supernatural calm and confidence in God ministers to me still, even as the years have passed by. The memory serves as a reminder that God will certainly carry me through whatever He has ordained for my life.

I've often thought of posting this video Jon participated in several years ago. In it, he explains the background to this favorite hymn. I hope you are encouraged today. Click on the link below to view:


Another version (modified arrangement) that I've enjoyed can be found below:


Tuesday, May 17

It would have been my grandmother's birthday today. I have no doubt her day in glory was beyond description!

School is almost wrapping up, but because of a cold and gloomy spring along the Pacific coast, it doesn't feel like it. February was much, much warmer than the spring months. It's kind of disorienting.

Thursday, May 19

I went into a college admissions office today with my Olivia. It just doesn't seem real.

I want to keep blogging, but I have less time than ever. If I only knew how much time I really did have when my kids were little, I might have started sooner!


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