Monday, July 28, 2008


"Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.'" Matt 24:34-40

He came to us filthy, his only possessions dirty clothes and a diaper that had obviously not been changed in quite a while. Without words or smile, his wide-eyed stare said it all.

"He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." Isaiah 53:2-3

In a moment of panic his mother had sought refuge for him from the harshness of the city streets. She needed time to get back on her feet and away from a boyfriend situation that was less than pleasant.

"...Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute." Psalm 82:3

Of no fault of their own, these kids come from very difficult backgrounds and frequently have little skills beyond that of survival. It's easy to point fingers and blame the parents for laziness or selfishness or worse. But here in the suburbs with a nice jobs, comfortable houses, and available transportation we can be (and surely are) all those things and still have children that are clean, well fed, and properly educated. Remove the niceties and all you have is raw humanity and lives defined by fear. Tremendous compassion and grace added to a remembrance of our own human condition are required.

"In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us." Ephesians 1:5-8

Foster care is hard. It's not a simple thing to love someone else's kid with all their issues and baggage. While this child will not become a permanent member of our family, it so vividly reminds me that I was not just "someone else's kid" but the kid of the enemy, the devil, when God adopted me into His family. He chose me not because I was pretty or well behaved or had anything to give but precisely because I was none of these things.

May God use even this small offering of a warm bed and three square meals a day as a brushstroke in his masterpiece of redemption.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Remember this one?

We saw this during an assembly in elementary school in 1977. My parents' tax dollars at work. Explains a lot about how I turned out, though.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This is for you, Chad

...and for every nine-year-old boy obsessed with Star Wars, and every 65 year old mother who had to endure hour upon hour of Weird Al. I feel like our childhood is on replay!

Big Splurge/Great Deal

I've got some pretty artsy kids and this year we are going to take some do-it-yourself drawing lessons via Mona Brooks' Drawing with Children in hopes of creating some nice looking nature journals. The colored pencils we've been using are the kind that go on sale for about fifty-cents this time of year. The lead breaks easily, the color goes down less than smoothly, and the kid's are tired of never having the right shade from a box of 12.

So I've had my eye on some professional sets with tons of colors but the price tag has been extremely cost prohibitive. Thanks to a generous 40%-off coupon from Hobby Lobby and $10-rebate from the manufacturer I found on a tear-off pad at the store, I picked up the $90, 72-color box of Prismacolor pencils for about $40. (Gasp!) I know it's hard for you to believe I'd shell out that kind of money for art supplies even at that discount, but with proper care they should last us a whole lot longer than those stink'n Cra*olas!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Amazing Grace

Grace is amazing, and I need it so badly. I needed it when God scooped me out of the kingdom of darkness and placed me in the kingdom of His dear Son, and I need it today as I hang out the laundry, make peanut butter sandwiches, and talk to my neighbors. So how come I forget that my kids need it, too?

Free of methods, containing no proven formulas for success, and pointing to no "standards" established by obtuse verses of Scripture, Grace Based Parenting, by Tim Kimmel, is one of the best books on parenting I've ever read. After seeing it in the sidebar of someone's blog--sorry, can't remember whose but think it might have been Making Home--I borrowed it from the library, fully expecting to declare it "psychological mumbo-jumbo" and "nonsense," but instead was tremendously humbled and greatly challenged by what it contained.

Kimmel's words stripped me of my parenting crutches and laid me bare before the Lord on so many levels: my motivations, my attitudes, my selfishness, the list goes on. But then he gave me a wonderful gift: he reminded me that God gives grace, for me and for my family. My children need me to point them to Jesus, and the best way I can do that is by showing--not just telling--them Who He is. I need to point them to the cross, not in a "Jesus died for that scummy, rotten thing you just did" kind of way, but in a "sin is so easy to fall into (believe me, I know) but it is Christ's joy to take it from you" sort of way. God created them as individuals with personalities that are very different than mine and I need to cherish and guide them toward what God's made them to be, not conform them to my image because they annoy me or embarrass me. My kids need the same Gentle Shepherd that I do.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Give peace a chance

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Why, if Jesus gives peace, do I live in fear? Why do I think I need to (or am even able to) control the circumstances of my life and the lives of my children in order to bring about a positive and peaceful outcome?

I've been thinking a lot about these questions in light of the statements Jesus made before He returned to heaven. He knew the plan. He knew that it included some wretched things for him, for those to whom he was speaking, and for us as 21st century believers. And yet the thing He leaves is peace, not as the world gives or expects where the livin' is easy, but a rocky, painful, rip your heart out of your chest type of peace.

I've equated peace with safe, hence we not only wear our bike helmets and avoid trans fats, but we've steered clear of those things that could possibly exert a spiritually corrupting influence on our children, encasing them in what Tim Kimmel refers to as a "hermetically sealed Christian environment." But Christianity is not safe. It's more like a motorcycle ride at 100 mph. Down a country road. At night. With no windshield. And no helmet. Danger, discomfort, lack of vision, bugs in the teeth, and pain are all possible and even probable, but the thing is, Jesus is steering.

Jesus' point was not that we huddle together and make ourselves comfortable until He returns. He sent us out into a terribly dangerous world with a clear understanding that things are going to be messy. There will be pain, misery, and heartache. We're called to experience it as well as clean it up. Yet we have the assurance of knowing that He sees, He cares, and He's got it all under control.

I'm not sure how all of this is going to play out in our family's life. We've spent a lot of time in the land of potluck and ladies' nights and Bible clubs. But I do know we need to step out of our safe Christian bubble in order to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world around us.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

After rolling on the floor laughing at Cindy's Recent Random Thoughts, I had to have this sign for my kitchen.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Desperate for Awe

If the presence of God has ushers, Ann Voskamp is one of them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Let the children come

I'm doing some research for my church on children's church curriculum and am discovering little of great substance. Maybe I'm just terribly picky because we've been on the Christian education program at home for so long, but I'm discouraged by the sappy, watered down presentation of our awesome God that's served up by so many packaged Sunday school programs.

If your kids participate in a program that's teaching them "the good stuff" and sending them back to you ready to "walk it, and talk it," would you mind sharing about it? Thanks!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Please pray for my friend

This sweet face belongs to my friend Molly--pastor's wife and mother of four--whose pre-brain surgery symptoms have returned. In a discouraging and scary place they are trusting a faithful and loving God. His mercies they fail not...

thoughts on perfect children

How sure are you that raising children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord will guarantee a smooth ride and smiley, obedient children?
"Return faithless Israel, declares the Lord.
I will not look on you in anger,
for I am merciful, declares the Lord.
I will not be angry forever."
"Return, O faithless sons;
I will heal your faithlessness."
Jeremiah 3:12, 22

I've spent years consuming a truckload of parenting methods that promise success if followed perfectly. When I failed at one I picked up another, looking for the one that would fix us. I've spent most of my life as a parent vacillating between self-righteous pride when my kids performed or self-defeating humiliation when they didn't. I want to be done with that.

The children of Israel were dismal failures when it came to making their Parent look good. And He could have wiped them off the face of the earth--and threatened to do so at least once. But they had a Father Who was "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness" (Psalm 103:8). I'm so glad He's my Daddy, too. And what's more, I'm glad that He set the example in parenting: an example that displayed redemption rather than self-attained perfection.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five
I was just alive.

But now I am Six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

(From Now We are Six, by A. A. Milne)

My baby boy is six years old. (Wow. It's hard to believe my youngest child is six!) Starting with fireworks on the night you were born, you've filled our life with joy and excitement--along with a few scares! You are truly a gift from the Lord. It is our prayer that you will grow to love Jesus with all your heart, mind and strength.

Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

By request...

Sorry, ladies, but for the most part I wing it with fish; I rarely use a recipe. We usually eat salmon or tilapia because it's inexpensive and not too strong in flavor. My kids rarely catch anything worth eating, but when they do we pan fry it in cornmeal. Here's what I do:

Grilled Fish

1. Soak fish in a teriyaki marinade for 15 minutes before grilling on foil (don't turn it).


2. Brush fish with melted butter and sprinkle with either a citrus grilling spice (mine's from Sam's Club) or with salt, pepper, any herb of your choice and garlic, then grill as above.

Pan Sauteed Fish

Heat a mixture of a couple tablespoons each butter and olive or grape seed oil in a heavy pan. Coat fish with a mixture of 1/2 cup cornmeal and 2 Tbs. Old Bay Seasoning and saute, turning once. Serve with tarter sauce or cocktail sauce.

Baked Fish

1. Over low heat, melt a couple tablespoons of butter with a clove or two of garlic, a bit of salt and pepper, an herb of your choice and a dash of paprika. When it comes to a boil, turn it off. Brush a bit on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan, place fish on top, and pour the rest of the butter mixture over the fish. Bake at 350 for about 13-15 minutes. Take it out when it flakes. Don't over cook it.

2. You can also bake a teriyaki fish.

Salmon is really good poached, especially with a cream sauce, but I've never done it myself. I'm sure there are plenty of good recipes on line.

So there ya have it!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Something's fishy

I hate shopping and I really hate shopping at very large stores, therefore a trip to Meijer is so much less than a joy for me. However the deals at Meijer call to me in my dreams and I must follow! So I made my list and took my littlest man to the store with me this morning to chase from one end of Meijer to the other in order to snag all our needed items. Needless to say I was none too pleased to find that there was only one bag of fish left in the freezer for the best deal of my trip! Not too worry, though, for they were stocking the shelves and I figured I could always make another trip later in the afternoon after phoning them to make sure they had replenished their frozen fish cooler. But here is where the whole thing takes an odd turn.

I looked up the number for my neighborhood Meijer in my yellow pages. They conveniently listed the numbers for each department individually, so I ran my finger down to "frozen foods" and dialed the number. It rang. And rang. And rang some more. Finally a nice chap named Ryan answered the phone at the service desk and said he'd find out the answer to my question. Next thing I knew it was ringing again. For five minutes. So I hung up and thought I'd be smart and dial the general store number and talk directly with the service desk. So I dialed the number, answered their automated questions, finally talked to a nice lady who was apologetic for the incessant wringing, and put back on hold. When she returned she said she had three bags and would I like her to hold them for me? I thankfully answered, "Yes" and told her I was coming right away.

So my children and I arrived at the Meijer service desk and made our request for our reserved fish and the lady across the counter looked at us like we were nuts. She asked for the name of the woman I talked to--of course I was so excited I didn't ask--and said she's been the only woman answering phones there since 2:00. She also asked if I was sure I called that particular store. I told her my story and said that I dialed the number listed as the local store general number. Suddenly the lights went on.

It seems that Meijer uses a call service somewhere in Michigan that all the general store numbers pour into. The woman who answered the phone could have found out if a store in Timbuktu had any fish in stock! So sorry lady, wherever you are, about the thawed fish on your service desk counter. And word to the wise, if you ever call Meijer, ask the person who answers exactly where they are located or you could be making an extra long trip for a one dollar bag of fish.