Monday, November 26, 2012

the setting of a fire

I do at least one load of laundry a day.

I fold it and sigh.
Because now I have to put it away.

I run the dishwasher at least once a day.
I love when the kitchen is clean.
But sometimes the dishes sit.

The dogs need to go out.

And then they need to come back in.

And then the floor needs to be wiped down where they brought muddy paws in.

And then the kids are hungry.

And so I cook.

I make most food from scratch since we started eating gluten-free in April of 2012.
I love how much healthier our how family is.

But cooking from scratch means that I prepare 3 meals and at least 2-3 snacks a day, 7 days a week.
You do the math.

On average, I am in the kitchen (cooking) about 1-2 hours per day.

That makes a lot of dishes.

And then there's the crumbs on the floor and the spills on the shirts and the diapers that need wiping and the fridge that needs cleaning out (because something has SERIOUSLY gone wrong in there with the stink that it's projecting) and the clothes that need putting away and the dogs that need to go out, again...

I'm a stay-at-home mom.

And I don't make money.

And I have a garden.

And I have two hungry children and two hungry dogs.

And a husband who works a full day and then comes home and eats.

And some days I wear makeup, and some days I don't.

Shoot. Some days I don't even wear a bra.

And some days I feel like I'm living a groundhog day life.

And I'm not whining - I'm not ungrateful or wishing this job/life would stop - I'm just saying...some days, the life of a stay-at-home mom is, well, seemingly uninteresting.

Except on days that it isn't.

I never thought I would stay at home with my children, full-time. But now that I do, I can't imagine not.  Molding these little hearts has been the most rewarding things I have ever done. I know, without a doubt, that the spunky fire in my 2 year old would have been used for evil and not good had I not been the one to direct her to using her spicy attitude in the right ways. My husband concurs. That second-born has sass.

I'm a second-born, too.

And I'd like to think that I have spunk. Maybe even a spark.

I heard this song last week - and watched an interview with the artist. While I closely identify with what Steven Curtis Chapman sings in his song, Do Everything. I even more closely identify with Alicia Keys in Girl on Fire.

My parents never - and I do mean NEVER - badgered me to make good grades. They expected me to study and try my hardest. But they never shamed me for making below a B. For whatever reason - purposefully or not - their hearts never intended on making me identify with the things that I did. Instead, they always fanned the flame in me that was ME. My dad used to tell me that I was spunky and while I was outspoken, he would remind me that no one could or would tear me down because my confidence was strong. He always complimented my beauty and told me that I was the most beautiful girl in the world. He told me that singing with me was like singing with the Dixie Chicks - that I was fun to listen to and be with. My mom always told me that I was wise beyond my years. She told me that as long as I tried my hardest, that I should be proud of whatever it was that came from my hardest. And that honesty was all she asked of me.

If you know me, or have followed this blog, you know that my home-life growing up wasn't easy. But the love that was good - was SO good. My parents sparked a fire in me when I was little. They pulled out of me the very things that God planted. Spunk - sass - determination - strong-will - a voice.

And even though I'm the house cook, and most days the maid, I know that this gig isn't just who I am.

I am a voice for the Nations.
I am a voice for God.
I am a picture of healing.
My marriage is a testimony of grace and forgiveness.
My love for my dad is proof of Jesus.
My identity in Christ isn't shaken and my love for Him is deep.

And I'm like you.

I have every reason to give up. I have every reason to identify with what I do every day - for that to become me.

Or I can close my eyes and remember.

I can remember and even recall the first times that I stood up for injustice, or the first time I felt something fierce burning inside of me, a righteous anger; or the first time I sang with all my heart, or the first time I spoke with confidence knowing that it didn't matter what they thought of me but that if just one person received what I said, all of the snickering would be worth it.

Those memories are when I was just a little girl.

The dishes and dogs and laundry and shopping...some days those things seem to tell me that my voice is gone.

And other days, when my girls are singing along with Alicia Keys...

I know that the fire is still roaring.

And even though it was just over coffee in my living room, or at the park, or on the phone, or the coffee shop...all of the snickering in the world is worth it if I was able to set even a spark of a fire inside you.

God didn't make women to be weak.
He certainly didn't make me weak.

Ask around.

This girl is on fire. 

Go ahead, snicker.

I am SO ok with that.

[enjoy a listen to Alicia Keys' song with the link, in red, above]

Friday, July 27, 2012

sticky, ugly, dull, quiet, loud, messy. worthwhile.

i have a friend that i met when i was 14.

we were freshmen in high school.
he was best friends with a boy i had a crush on, who became my boyfriend (for like 4 months - isn't that just "so" high school?).
and then my friend became my crush.
and then that ended.

but what never ended was our friendship.

for all of high school, there was a group of about 10+ of us that were tight - guys and girls. we played ball together, we did weekends together, we got into trouble together, we laughed together, did 4th of july fireworks together, beach trips together...

and then we went to college.

and while space separated us all, and some of the friendships faded, some remained.

i call that a God thing.

God always goes before us. good thing, too.

so when word got back to me that my friend was caught up in drugs, in a dangerous way, i picked up the phone and called him. and after a year or more of not talking to him, i laid it out for him as though we had talked just the day before. and he received my correction and my love.

he needed for someone to tell him what he was doing wasn't worth it. that there was a better way - and that he was worth the better way.

i'd like to say that that was the end of the story and that the happy beginning started from there. but it's not.

that was 10 years ago.

and we're still friends. and time has passed in the spaces between us seeing and talking to each other. but still the Lord brings our friendship back when it is most needed.

like now.

because right now, while he may be living the repercussions of poor choices, he is still worth more.
but he doesn't believe it - yet.

but he is.

and we don't talk all the time, and i see him inconsistently, but when we do talk or meet, it's the breath of heaven.

we started out as kids together. awkward, and flirtatious, and cheering from the stands. but now, we're standing by each other as two adults who know the hearts of the other. and we're not afraid of what the world will say as we walk through the thick of it to see the other come out clean.

i know what it is to feel alone in a dark season of life. i know what it is to wear shame and to be embarrassed and to not know who to talk to for fear of their judgment or poor counsel or even because you haven't a clue who would actually be willing to walk with you through the crap that is your life.

i know.

i know what it feels like to have someone walk with you, to hear the gory details, to hold you when you cry and when the pieces come back together, they cheer. but i also know that when the pieces fell apart again, they weren't there. and that feeling. that feeling of not knowing who to turn to again...that is a lonely isolating feeling.

and it's unnecessary.

and so i listen. i listen to this man who is going on 34, and i hear my friend who is 16. i hear him crying for real and full life, but he is so beaten down by the liar and the consequences of his choices that he can't quite see what chance he has at the fullness promised to him.

and so i repeat over and over: you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. you're hilarious. you're insanely talented and bright. you were made with purpose and for great courage. you've dreamt of standing before crowds of people and speaking of God's hope and glory. the Lord has put the desires of your heart within you and wants to pull them out. LET HIM. move. go. quit sitting still and being alone. start living.

over and over.
over and over.
over and over.
over and over.

and he sits in my living room with my husband and i. and he cries.

and we hug him.
and we love him.
and we pray with him.

over and over.
over and over.
over and over.
over and over.

because he is worth it.

and not because i say so.
not even because i think so or want it to be so.

but because God says so.

my friend was created in the image of Love.
and so i will keep walking with him until he no longer needs to call me or my husband. i will push him and annoy him and encourage him and listen to him and cry with him and fight in prayer for him and correct him and demand more of him...until the chains of bondage are broken and he is living a life worth more.

and i can do that.
i can do that because i am his friend.

i didn't sign up for a comedy show - so i don't always need him to be funny.
i didn't sign up to have him affirm me - so i don't need his male affirmations.
i didn't sign up to see him kill it on the court - so i don't need him to be the star athlete.

i didn't sign up to be his friend at all.
but i am.
and despite his faults, i love him.
and my husband loves him.

you know, at my dad's funeral, there were many strangers that walked up to me to speak. several of them were women that lived in his community. and they would say things like, 'your dad would always stop by on his tractor, or on his way into town...and he would always be so drunk. but i wouldn't say anything. i never mentioned his drinking. but i would always share the love of Jesus with him.'

they were the workers in the field.

when we couldn't continue in relationship with my dad, the Lord brought unbiased, pure, grace-filled love into my dad's life.

the Lord Jesus, the friend of sinners, gave my dad a friend.

we all need to be loved.

we all need to know that we're worthy of Love.

we just have to be willing to get a little uncomfortable sometimes in the process.

[this song is our friend's heart's cry right now. he's said over and over that he's ready. he wants to be free and feel and live the fullness of the Lord. so pray for him. i would share his name but i'm certain he'd have me keep that confidential. but pray that He would be obedient to the Lord and that as quickly as he moves forward, his joy would be restored.]

Listen here

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

a sweaty prophecy

Can you imagine what it would feel like if someone walked up to you and spoke something to you that only you knew was true...something that just you knew was going on in your life, but somehow the other person spoke to that area of your life? What if they said something about your marriage, or where you're struggling to figure out how to raise your child, or how to increase your earnings, or how to make more of an impact in your community...

and then someone came along and had an answer, or maybe at least a partial one, for the areas of life in which you are struggling.

What if we listened to the voice of the Father and then released what He was saying so that we would bring forth encouragement and hope?

It would probably be something like what Paul was talking about in his letter in 1Cor 14:31, and throughout his letters. People would be encouraged - not by a pat on the back or false humility - but by intimate words spoken to their hearts that only the Father could know.

That's happened to me before, someone speaking into my life like that. But never on the fly. Never at a drive thru window, or at the grocery, or at preschool pickup, or at the gym. I'm waiting to be the recipient of such a sweet kiss from the Lord in that unexpected moment, but until I receive a drive-by prophecy, I'm going to become the giver of such good news.

And yesterday I had the sweet honor to give a sweaty prophecy.

I jokingly say that the YMCA, in our town, has an open heaven. You know, an area in which the realm of the heavenlies is so thin that it literally feels like heaven and earth are intertwined and to hear the heart of the Lord is easy. Maybe the Y has an open heaven. Or, maybe both of my children are in childcare and I'm less distracted.

Either way, inside those old cinder block walls, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of ministry.

For some reason yesterday just seemed more fun - maybe that's because the recipient of the news had an eager heart.

After a short run out on the track, I came inside to lift some weights. Now I normally don't go to the "boys' side" of the gym where all of the free weights are, but today I did. And while I was in there, I was so happy. I mean like annoying happy - I was smiling lifting weights and whispering praises under my breath.

My music was good and my spirit was free as the Lord had been ministering to me for the past 10 minutes or so about some burdens on my heart (it doesn't take Him long to free you up, if you'll just let Him talk). As I walked to get some weights I surveyed the room. I spied a few things going on and just asked the Lord "so what's going on with these people today? what do you want me to tell them or release?"

And I waited.

Just like I'd wait for you to talk, in order to hear you, I wait on the Lord. And as soon as I did, I knew what He wanted me to do.

I finished up my workout and headed over to this big heavy-set black man who was killing it on the chest press. (He probably could have pressed me over his chest) And so I just smiled at him and ever so nicely interrupted his set. He smiled and said hi. So I simply asked him if he was a follower of Jesus - and he said yes. He said he has always "believed" in Him but just recently received salvation. So I said, "well, I saw you lifting weights and just asked the Lord what I could do to bless you and I feel like He gave me a word for you...I feel like He said that you're like Ezekiel and that He is asking you to stand the gap in prayer for someone and He will bless what you pray."

He smiled so big. It was like a big 'ole rough guy just turned to putty in my hands. He said, "you know, since I was saved, stuff like this's been happenin' a lot to me." I laughed and told him that I believed that the Holy Spirit was after his heart and wants him to know that He wants more than just a knowledge-based relationship with him...

In a flat minute, that fella, laying inclined on his back with his hands still on the weights, unloaded a good portion of his heart's desires and burdens to me. He asked me so many questions about how to pray - and why bad things were happening in the world - and what were his "rights" to pray for things he wanted or needed when others were struggling - and the guilt he was carrying because he was doing better than some of his friends, etc. ...

And so I answered his questions and prayed for him, we exchanged names, and a few laughs, and I went along to get my children out of childcare.

That was that.

I listened. I obeyed. I relayed. And both of us were blessed.

Today I'm believing that my new friend, Rodney, has an increase of faith and a greater boldness than before.

Why? Because I prophesied about him being important in the Kingdom?

No. Because he actually realized that he IS important in the kingdom. The prophesy was just God's way of speaking into a tender place in his heart and helping him to see that the Lord is always after the hearts of His people - always looking to help us live in the fullness of His son.

So today, I pray that you would have an increase of faith. I pray that wherever there is poverty in your life, you would speak to it and tell it to leave. And that you would just delight in all that the Lord has for you. I pray that you would be released from heartache and burdens and that the joy of the Lord would well up in you so that you would realize that you are carrying the wellspring of Living Water...quiet yourself and listen for the heart of the Father.

practice listening.

we serve a supernatural God. it is only natural that He speak to you in a supernatural way.

Friday, May 11, 2012

mighty. small.

my mom.

i call her mama kay. mamers. mama jama. kay-fa-lay-fa. mom.

no matter what i call her, though, she always answers.

i went to a mother's day brunch at my oldest's preschool, this week, and all of the mommies went around and talked about their own mothers. we said our mom's names and then gave a word (or 3) to describe what we loved about our moms.

it's impossible to describe your mom in one word. moms are just so much.

but my mom...

when she tells me of my birth, she says, "and when you were born, i cried. ...i was so happy you were a little girl."

mom is little.

she's 5 feet tall. that's it. no inches taller.

when we hug, her head is on my chest. i've been known to give her piggy back rides, by force of course, just to hear her scream with fear and giddiness. it is a hilarious sight. go ahead, picture it.

mom has blue eyes, perfectly straight teeth (i inherited the no need for braces teeth from her), a fabulous smile with dimpled cheeks, brown hair (that has never ever been dyed. ehem.), a sneeze that is so loud it will wake you out of a dead sleep with your dukes raised ready to fight, and a laugh that once it gets going, you can't help but join in.

mom is just easy on the eyes.

but just like i tell my loralai when people compliment her beauty, i always remind her that her most beautiful trait is her heart.

my mom's heart must glow. i mean it.

mom is pure gold.

she's a sensitive spirit who delights in making others happy. she's a giver. God gifted her in that.

as i heard one of the mothers at the brunch talk about her mom, she spoke of her in the past tense. her mom died last year. she was the only one out of us all who has lost her mom.

i watched my mom, when i was a little girl, lose her mom to cancer. and then at 25, i watched my mom as she grieved her dad. it doesn't matter how old we are, losing a parent is horrible.

and i know. because i lost my dad. and sometimes i feel like i lost him twice.

dad was caught up in such oppression with hurts from his past and the addiction to alcohol, that there was a long season that we had to just let him go. and in that season, i remember feeling like i'd lost him all together. and then our relationship was restored right before and after i married my husband...and six months later, dad died.

and so as i heard sophia's mom describe her mother, i took a deep breath. and not because i fear losing my mom, but because i know how desperately deep i love her.

i've been called fighsty, determined, courageous, bold, big-personalitied...

and while some of the time those words weren't meant as compliments, i still smile at them all. because all of those are parts of my personality that my mom helped to fan in me.

mom recalls a time, when i was a preschooler, where i would let people walk all over me and take my toys and i wouldn't stick up for myself. i sort of snicker at that, because i've never known that girl.

my dearest childhood friend would tell you that i've had to tame the boldness, at times, but that those qualities about me are the very things that have given me charge and joy in my life.

but they come from a mom who was loving enough to call out what she knew was in me, even when it wasn't showing. she would encourage me in my drawing or painting, or singing, or softball, or friendships...

even as a grown woman, the best place in the world, to me, is sitting with my mom and talking. she knows me. she knows my heart's desires and she continues to press me so that i won't give up on them.

i used to lay on the couch with my head on my mom's lap, while we would watch tv, and she would stroke my hair.

there's something really primal in that. it's like the extension of when a mother rubs her pregnant belly. mothers always want to touch their children - comfort them - reassure them.

one of my mom's sayings that she's said over the years is "it's going to be alright... because it has to be."

she's never believed that things wouldn't be good.

and things plain sucked for a while in her world.

i don't care who you are, unless you lived on Irish Lane with us, you will never know the fullness of what went down.

so take my word or don't, but it stunk.
do you know what, though? never. not once did that sweet little woman say an unkind word to me or my brother about my dad or anyone in relationship with him. never.

i look back at that and just marvel.

she showed the deepest amount of honor for her husband, despite the circumstances. and because of that, my brother and i felt free to pursue relationship with our dad instead of feeling like we had to take sides in a battle.

my mom. Lord that woman is strong.

she may be small, but she is a mighty warrior of the Lord.

when you look at her, you'll think, "she's fun. she's cute."

but let me tell you who she is:

she is the daughter of Carl and Dorcas
she is a mother
she is a servant of the Most High God
she is a talented seamstress
she is a military brat
she is a devoted grandmother
she is a world traveler
she is a a lover of music
she is a closet singer
she is an audiologist
she's a darn good cook
she's a dog lover and makes us watch that crazy dog show on tv, directly following the Macy's day parade
she is a car-ride away in the middle of the night if life gets hairy and you need her there
she is a friend of all seasons
she is a chatty little thing
she is a hoot, i tell you
she's an email forwarder who'll fwd: emails 3 times just because she's laughing and thinks you should too
she's a gardener
she has a green thumb and won't admit it and is obsessed with making her yard "just so" and has therefore dug up plants and trees and re-planted them way too many times to count
she is a sister to a sister whom she hasn't seen in 10+ years but is awaiting her prodigal with open arms
she is a shag dancing fool
she is a mom who never required anything of me other than to tell her the truth at all times
she is a mother-n-law who loves her daughter-n-law as if she were her own
she is a crafty little woman who crochets and knits and needle points
she is an idea-woman
she is always trying a new project
she is never stale, always new, she is refreshing and honest, she is joy and peace, she is sunny days and lemonade, she is a delicious new recipe and a phone call to share and talk all about it, she is in her swimsuit and running through the sprinklers with her grand babes, she is hot tea and not coffee, she is a size 5 shoe (sometimes 6), she is a slow boat ride - not fast (or she'll vomit on you later), she's a dreamer of living on the water, she's snuggly flannel jammies in the winter, and hot chocolate for any special occasion, she's an open heaven and humble, an open book and real...

she's worthy of love.

she stands by me always.

oh mama, if you only knew how loyal you are.

she taught me that i deserve God's best and that it is never ok to bow to anything less.

she will let me experiment makeup and new hair-dos on her just so that we can be together.

she is a living well of victorious living. a testimony of God's grace, perseverance and hope.

she's small, but she's mighty.

oh yes. kay ellen packs a punch.

i am honored that God placed me in her womb.

she is so worthy of my love, because she first loved me.

i love you so, my sweet mamers.