Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm No Super Mom

Her short, honey blonde bob swayed back and forth as she skipped down the hallway toward her preschool classroom. Fully equipped with a purple, patent-leather, Beauty and the Beast backpack, she greeted her teacher with a dimpled smile and her brown-eyed twinkle. But, on the way to her cubby she noticed something was missing. Everyone was wearing a silly hat...except for her. It was "Silly Hat Day" and we'd forgotten to pack hers.

Now, I'm no Super Mom. I'm sure my first reaction was, "Oh dear. I'll be late for work." But deep down inside this mama's heart I knew what had to be done.

(Speed over to Christian Children's Authors blog to find out what happened next, won't you? Just click here.)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Living Beyond the Curse

"Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of the briers the myrtle will grow." Isaiah 55:13

Triple H Days - hazy, hot, humid - hung thick like stew for days. I camped out inside with the AC except for occasional runs from the cool car to the grocery store and back. It was even too hot for my Maine Coon cat who sprawled tummy-up on the kitchen floor in direct line of the artificial arctic blast, too hot to care about chasing mice in our neighbor's yard.

It was hard waiting for the promised cold front because here in New England weather changes every ten minutes (or so it seems), but when it finally arrived, we both welcomed it with all its loud booming and glorious lightning flashes accompanied by monsoon rains and lower humidity. Ahhh! Paradise.

But with relief came hard work. Every shrub and fruit bush showed burned leaves or shriveled fruit. Weeds grew taller than the day lilies, crab grass flourished,  and spider mites webbed their way through our ornamental spruce trees. Time for some low-to-the-ground calisthenics!

I worked for hours tugging, sweating, pulling out 60 gallons worth of weeds from my garden beds. And as each bag overflowed I thought about God's curse on the land found in Genesis 3:17-18 NIV:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field..."

After my four hour weeding frenzy my little piece of paradise was restored, but not without sweat equity dripping from every pour. I wanted to give Adam and Eve a little piece of my mind! I often wonder what it was like living in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall, before God cursed the land, don't you? I imagine temped air, gorgeous blooms in rainbow colors and lush green foliage; gigantic shade trees, delicious fruit trees bursting with food, and wooded paths along a cool river where God and man met on a big flat rock at the end of every day.

My heart longs for Paradise lost, doesn't yours? The perfect place where order rules and all is right between earth and sky, man and beast and his Creator.

Jesus came, not only to restore man to the Creator-God, but to restore the whole earth as well. In Matthew 27 we read that the Roman soldiers crowned Jesus with thorns. An elder in my church recently pointed out that these thorns represented the curse of toil, weeds, and thistle. When Jesus' blood flowed over his thorny crown, it redeemed us from the curse of toiling - not from work - for work was good - given to us by God after Creation:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15 NIV

As followers of Jesus, we are Kingdom people - holding the glory and goodness of God within us. Therefore, everything and anything we do is sacred - done unto the Lord himself. As we make things "right", (whether we weed our gardens, change our baby's diaper, steady our aging parents, organize our office desk, smile at the postal clerk, whatever it is), we are agents of God's Kingdom through our actions and attitudes.

God calls us, through Jesus, to partner with Him to restore His Kingdom on earth (full of thorns and thistles) as it is in heaven (perfect order). We can't do it alone - not by the sweat of our brow or our limited resources - but through giving God all that we are and letting Him and His limitless resources flow through us.

Are we willing to live beyond the curse? Rather than toiling (grumbling) through our jobs, household tasks, or yard work, let's give thanks for God's provision - call forth His Kingdom in our bosses, our families, our bits of property - so that everything we have and do shines God's glory.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fanning the Flames of God-Sized Dreams

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." 2 Timothy 1:6

I know disappointment of unrealized, childhood dreams. As a young girl growing up in a single-parent home, there wasn't much dreaming going on beyond my own head and heart. I learned a dream spoken met the breath of impossibility until all that was left was a smoldering wick. I thought keeping quiet and stuffing my dreams deep kept them safe and alive. Quite the opposite. It snuffed them out.

Then, I had kids of my own.

I'd sit for hours, like most new mothers, staring at my sleeping babies wondering, "Who are you? What will you become? What dreams will you dream?"

It was fun watching them grow, finding our similarities carried in their DNA, discovering their peculiarities and listening to their dreams - silly ones and serious ones. And, I allowed them room for BIG dreams - fostered their imaginations, encouraged them to follow that pull - taught them to stare-down impossibilities. 

(Bring your candle and matches and join me over at the Christian Children's Authors blog for the rest of the story, won't you?)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Freedom In Three Little Words

I forgive you.

Three little words hardly spoken, hold great power. They tear down walls, mend broken relationships, and free the heart. Yet we trade freedom for pride, swallowed hard behind tight lips, clenched fists, and bleeding hearts.  We hang onto blame with pain rather than releasing forgiveness.

We suffer long and hard in quiet desperation or spewing anger wondering when the pain will dull just a little--when will we 'get over it' once and for all? No matter how hard we try, the pain continues, rears its ugly head at all the wrong moments and we hit the wall.

(If forgiveness comes hard, take my hand and join me for some {re}fresh-ment)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summertime, Summertime, Sum, Sum, Summertime!

It's summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime here in New England and kids can't wait to shut their books and head outside! With the prolonged winter storm closings this year, summer vacation got a late start.

Growing up here, always meant a short summer, so we jammed it full of outside fun, family trips up north, and a week or two away at summer church camp. Nestled deep inside our Connecticut forests or along the southern Maine border, my husband and I attended summer church camp or brigade camp since we were ten years old. And, we passed our love for camp onto both our children.

Camp not only offered time away from home, new friends, and fun, but with every camp stay we gained confidence, independence, life skills, and experienced spiritual growth spurts like no other time during the year.

(Pack up and join me for the rest of the story at Christian Children's Author's blog today!)