Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Moving On

I've been blogging off and on for over 9 years.

I've been blogging here since 2009. Not always consistently, but I've posted here for almost 7 years.

I started out as The Happy Homemaker. And then switched to Wisdoms Pupil and for the past 5 years or so, I've been Stepping Out of My Boat.

I've grown a lot in the years I've been blogging. I'm really thankful to be able to look back on what I've written and know without a doubt that I have grown.

Something that I've discovered about myself is that I need purpose. I struggle to keep up with household chores that I just have to do over and over again. I forget to do them. I know that sounds silly but I am very Absent-Minded-Professorish. I would rather be working out a Biblical concept in my head or communing with God among the trees than folding clothes. I've grown in this area but I still struggle a lot.

This blog has given me purpose. It's given me a place to share things that I'm learning and thinking about. It's helped me to process those things. I've learned to use 'I' statements and to talk to people directly instead of writing a post about the situation.

This blog has been a voice for me when I really didn't have one otherwise. I tend to not talk a lot in group settings, and this blog has been a place for me to get my words out without feeling pressured and in a place where I can completely think through it before I 'say' it.

I feel like my life has moved on though. I feel like I keep trying to make this blogging thing work because it's what I know. It's my habit. It's a way to interact with people on my own terms.

But like I've said several times recently, I only want things in my life that God wants there. And I'm thinking that blogging isn't one of those things right now.

And so, I am releasing myself from any obligation to write here. I may write more in the future, who knows?! But for now, I'm moving on. This isn't something I decided today. It's been coming on for a while now. I've thought about it and prayed about it for a while and I just think this is the right thing to do for now.

Thank you for taking the time to read what I've written and to encourage me! I appreciate that more than you know!



Thursday, October 22, 2015

Personal/Family Update

God is working in our family. Isn't it amazing when it's obvious?! It is to me.

It just blows my mind that God would work in my life at all. That He would allow me to glorify Him. Not because He's not good, but because I am who I am. I have character defects and things I fall completely short in. And yet, He is working in me and in my family. 

Mind. Blown.

The kids are enjoying public school. They have awesome teachers and they are all getting to discover gifts and talents and interests. It's so interesting to see them grow. Some of them are doing course work 2 grades above their own. Some are struggling to do their grade level work. All are working hard, using whatever their level of academic talent is to the best of their ability. 

I've always wanted my kids to do better than I did academically. Don't get me wrong, I was smart. But I was lazy. Really, I want them to be responsible and do their best. 

Well, I just want to say upfront that I take absolutely zero credit for this, but they are responsible. They do their homework, they ask for help when they need it and they don't wait until it's report card time. They pay attention to their grades and if there's a problem they confront it. Immediately. 

It's an amazing experience to see them grow and work hard. 

Michael started a new job a few months ago and his start and quit times are flexible so he's been going in early so he can get off early. So he's been getting home an hour to an hour and a half sooner than he was previously. It's so nice to see him more!

About a month ago, I applied for a job. One. I have thought off and on about getting one but I made the decision that I was not going to chase one down. If God wanted me to have one, He would provide it. And He did. 

I saw and applied for the job on Wednesday around noon. I received a call around 4 that afternoon where an interview was scheduled for the next day. I was super excited but super relaxed. I only had one pair of close toed shoes and they had holes and unraveling of the stitching. But I wasn't worried because I trusted that if God wanted me to have the job, I would have it regardless of the shoes I was wearing. I also discovered that my most recent resume had been deleted from our computer and I wouldn't have time to redo it. Again, no worries! if God wanted me to have the job I would, with or without the resume. 

I went to the interview completely relaxed. I just wanted the outcome to be whatever God made it. I wanted to be sure that I was allowing God to open the doors and I wasn't building my own. 

My boss hired me within 5 minutes of the start of the interview. The hours are perfect. My coworkers are amazing. And I love my job. I basically go in there and file for 4 hours everyday. I get lost in the files and before I know it, it's time to leave. And my work is appreciated which is a HUGE blessing. 

God is also working in my marriage. Like, it's amazing. We are connecting like never before. God is obviously working in us and in our marriage.

Last night I lay in bed just thinking about how good God is. Not because everything in our life is easy or good. We have our problems. I still struggle with negative thinking and a host of other issues. But He is good. And He's working in us. In me. And you know how amazing and mind blowing that is?!?!?! There are just so many things going on and we are growing in ways that are absolutely not possible without God's hand.

In the last year, I haven't always been confident that I and my marriage were redeemable. I wondered if I could change and if our life could really be different. But it is. It really is and I am just sitting here in complete and utter awe of God's grace!

He's been so good to me!

Beautiful words written by someone else...

"Christmas art depicts Jesus' family as icons stamped in gold foil, with a calm Mary receiving the tidings of the Annunciation as a kind of benediction. But that is not at all how Luke tells the story. Mary was "greatly troubled" and "afraid" at the angel's appearance, and when the angel pronounced the sublime words about the Son of the Most High whose kingdom will never end, Mary had something far more mundane on her mind: But I'm a virgin!
       Once, a young unmarried lawyer named Cynthia bravely stood before my church in Chicago and told of a sin we already knew about: we had seen her hyperactive son running up and down the aisles every Sunday. Cynthia had taken the lonely road of bearing an illegitimate child and caring for him after his father decided to skip town. Cyntiha's sin was no worse than many others, and yet, as she told us, it had such conspicuous consequences. She could not hide the result of that single act of passion, sticking out as it did from her abdomen for months until a child emerged to change every hour of every day of the rest of her life. No wonder the Jewish teenager Mary felt greatly troubled: she faced the same prospects even without the act of passion.
       In the modern United States, where every year a million teenage girls get prengnat out of wedlock, Mary's predicament has undoubtedly lost some of its force, but in a closely knit Jewish community in the first century, the news an angel brought could not have been entirely welcome. The law regarded a betrothed woman who became pregnant as an adulteress, subject to death by stoning.
       Matthew tells of Joseph magnanimously agreeing to divorce Mary in private rather than press charges, until an angel shows up to correct his perception of betrayal. Luke tells of a tremulous mary hurrying off to the one person who could possibly understand what she was going through: her relative Elizabeth, who miraculously got prengant in old age after another angelic annunciation. Elizabeth believes Mary and shares her joy, and yet the scene poignantly highlights the contrast between the two women: the whole countryside is talking about Elizabeth's healed womb even as Mary must hide shame of her own miracle.
       In a few months, the birth of John the Baptist took place amid great fanfare, complete with midwives, doting relatives, and the traditional village chorus celebrating the birth of a Jewish male. Six months later, Jesus was born far from home, with no midwife, extended family, or village chorus present. A male head of household would have sufficed for the Roman census; did Joseph drag his pregnant wife along to Bethlehem in order to spare her the ignominy of childbirth in her home village?
       C.S. Lewis has written about God's plan, "The whole thing narrows and narrows, until at last it comes down to a little point, small as the point of a spear--a Jewish girl at her prayers." Today as I read the accounts of Jesus' birth I tremble to think of a the fate of the world resting on the responses of two rural teenagers. How many times did Mary review the angel's words as she felt the Son of God kicking against the walls of her uterus? How many times did Joseph second-guess his own encounter with an angel--just a dream?--as he endured the hot shame of living among villagers who could plainly see the changing shape of his fiancee?
       We know nothing of Jesus' grandparents. What must they have felt? Did they respond like so many parents of unmarried teenagers today, with an outburst of moral fury and then a period of sullen silence until at last the bright-eyed newborn arrives to melt the ice and arrange a fragile family truce? Or did they, like many inner-city grandparents today, graciously offer to take the child under their own roof?
       Nine months of awkward explanations, the lingering scent of scandal--it seems that God arranged the most humiliating circumstances possible for his entrance, as if to avoid any charge of favoritism. I am impressed that when the Son of God became a human being he played by the rules, harsh rules: small towns do not treat kindly young boys who grow up with questionable paternity.
       Malcolm Muggeridge observed that in our day, with family planning clinics offering convenient ways to correct "mistakes" that might disgrace a family name, "It is, in point of fact, extremely improbably, under existing circumstances, that Jesus would have been permitted to be born at all. Mary's pregnancy, in poor circumstances, and with the father unknown, would have been an obvious case for an abortion; and her talk of having conceived as a result of the intervention of the Holy Ghost would have pointed to the need for psychiatric treatment, and made the case for terminating her pregnancy even stronger. Thus our generation, would be too human to allow one to be born."
       The virgin Mary, though, whose parenthood was unplanned had a different response. She heard the angel out, pondered the repercussions, and replied, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as you have said." Often a work of God comes with two edges, great joy and great pain, and in that matter-of-fact response Mary embraced both. She was the first person to accept Jesus on his own terms, regardless of the personal cost."

--from The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

Thursday, October 15, 2015


John the Baptists birth was a miracle. His mother was an old woman and barren when she was told she would have a child. His father became mute until his birth. He leaped in his mothers womb when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, walked into the room. John ate locusts...that's commitment right there. He baptized Jesus and saw the Holy Spirit descend on Him and heard God's voice declare that Jesus is His beloved Son. He declared the truth to Herod, despite the obvious danger in doing so.

His entire purpose in life was to prepare the way of The Lord. His whole life is wrapped up in Jesus.

And yet, at one point he sends his disciples to Jesus to ask if He is The One.

That is mind blowing to me.

He was human. He had moments of uncertainty.

Sometimes I think of people like John the Baptist as super human. If God chose them they must have been a lot better than me. And I'm sure he was/is...but I think it's kind of important to remember that the people that God chose were human.

Moses didn't get to enter Canaan but he got to hang out with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jacob was a jerk but he was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Judah was apparently a flaky womanizer who didn't keep his commitments and whose daughter in law knew would hire a prostitute.

What if you knew a man who had slept with prostitutes? Would you trust him with ANYTHING?

Nowadays it seems like we only deem people who are seemingly perfect as fit for Kingdom work. But guess what?! Nobody is perfect. Those guys you think are perfect could very well be mired in some secret sin...or pride. Pride is not any less a sin than sleeping with prostitutes. And since it's less quantifiable, it can fly under the radar...which is dangerous.

We preach sermons about these men and learn lessons from their lives...but if someone just like them showed up in our midst how would I treat them? Would I get angry if they lead a public prayer or gave a lesson or lead a song? Or did any actual, real Kingdom work?

In a lot of my experience, not always, but a lot, when a man commits adultery and then repents, it's like he has a mark on his back the rest of his life. We never forget. We never trust him again.

But a man who committed adultery and then murdered someone to cover it up is called "a man after God's own heart". Not because he did those things, but he repented and loved God.

All I'm saying is, these men who we respect and hold up as examples were not perfect. They had doubts. They needed reassurance and sometimes outright rebuke.

Give these men another name and imagine them walking into a church service. How would we treat them?

One of the things that I love about Celebrate Recovery is that it's a safe place to confess sin and deal with it. It's not just a place of wishy washy people where we all sin and ignore it for the sake of acceptance. We confess sin, we point it out and we help each other overcome it. It's not a gossip fest or critical atmosphere. It's an open, honest and transparent atmosphere. We learn to be safe people. But safe people aren't passive people, safe people confront sin when necessary, but they do it for the sake of the sinner...not to make themselves feel better or superior.

The whole church should be that way. We shouldn't need Celebrate Recovery. We should all be safe people who help each other overcome sin.

Let's stop judging and holding grudges and love each other enough to take care of ourselves so we can help others. Let's be like Jesus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

On Being a Flaky Chick and What I've Been Reading

I've always found personality tests to be interesting, but I've never taken them very seriously. But I've changed my mind.

About a year ago, I started meeting with an elder at our church to work on spiritual formation. As a part of that I took a personality test which told me I am an INFJ or a Renewer.

The apostle John is my biblical counterpart, according to Your Personality and the Spiritual Life.

I think deeply, creatively and intuitively. I look for deeper meaning in situations and tasks. I need that deeper meaning to really commit myself. I live my present always mindful of the future.

The down side is that I experience a lot of loneliness and restlessness is often my companion. I am always looking for fresh challenges and opportunities. I become absorbed in my thoughts that I am not good at living in the present. I also have a tendency toward indulgence and overextension (um...I had 5 babies in 4 years...ya think?!)

A while back, I got this book out again because the kids took personality tests at school and I wanted to see what it said about them...mostly who their biblical comparison is. I decided to read mine again.

I know it's silly but it's crazy how accurate it is. I experience a lot of loneliness and for some reason knowing that it's just a part of my personality helps me cope. Knowing the deeper meaning behind it makes it more bearable. Knowing expressly what my weaknesses are better prepares me to deal with them, but also knowing that I do have strengths and being reminded of what exactly they are gives me a boost of confidence that I generally lack.

I'm saying all of this to just say that I've been struggling with my writing, with purpose general. I am struggling to stay committed to this. The thing about me that Michael really hates? I'm always willing to rethink things and change directions at almost any moment. Which means I can be what he would call flaky. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it means I struggle to keep commitments...that I'm a "real flaky chick". I missed posting for the second time last week. I'm conflicted about whether this is a waste of time or if it's an exercise in keeping commitments even when I change my mind or direction.

Hm...I don't know. For now, I am going to keep my commitment if it kills me. :) For now.

What I am reading:

Just finished: Revolution of Character
Currently reading:  The Jesus I Never Knew and Sacred Rhythms

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Only Time I Will Ever Give Mothering Advice

You know what I NEVER think about? I mean, never.

You know what I NEVER get asked about on forms I have to fill out? 

You know what NEVER gets talked about at anyone's funeral?

Nobody EVER says, "Mrs. So-and-so was a good woman, she had all of her children potty trained at...(insert whatever age you want)".

Nobody says that because nobody cares. 

And you know what?! I NEVER think about how old I was when I was potty trained. Never.

Young moms get so much pressure. From books, magazines, PINTEREST, other moms, grandmas, random people at the grocery store and from themselves. It's ridiculous. 

Everyone has an opinion. But the thing is, God isn't going to mention how long it took my kids to stop having accidents or stop sucking their thumb or walk or sit up on Judgment day. You aren't a delinquent mom if your kid isn't potty trained until they're 4. Because, guess what?! God knows your heart. He knows you love that kid. 

I had one super easy kid to potty train. The rest were older and took a little longer. Two of them were downright tough and I had one who really wasn't potty trained for realz until they were 4. 

I wish moms...I wish I would stop listening to people tell me what my child should be doing. The things I'm most proud of as a mom, I had to buckle down, ignore all the noise and just do what my gut told me was right. The thing is though, I can only name a time or two when I did that. 

Our "babies" sucked their fingers until they were 8. I listened to the stories from other parents who had moved heaven and earth to get their kid to stop sucking their fingers and nothing worked until the kid decided to stop sucking them on their own...when they were around 12 or 13. For real, I don't know how many people have told me they were 12 or 13 when they stopped sucking their fingers. Anyway, I decided pretty early on that I was not going to stress about it. People made their comments and rolled their eyes but I just ignored them. And you know what?! They stopped sucking their fingers with very little effort on anyone else's part. There was absolutely zero stress, no tears and no sneaking behind my back. 

And you know what else? Nobody cares. It NEVER comes up in conversation. Except this one. 

I'm not saying don't take advice. Absolutely seek advice. But listen for the advice that you have to seek out, not the advice that is in abundant supply. Proverbs is filled with warnings about people who enjoy sharing their opinions and about how wise people are more judicious with sharing theirs. Also, peers can give support, but older women who are passed this point in their life will have a more long term vantage point. They will be able to see the effects of things instead of just what might work in the moment. 

Over the last year I have changed a lot as a mother. I have almost entirely stopped yelling. I do have slip ups but they are fewer and farther between all the time. The thing I realized? I was "freaking out" about really stupid things. I felt so much pressure all. the. time. I was getting all bent out of shape over things that ultimately don't even matter. So, I've started asking myself, will this matter in a week? A month? A year? Will I think about this on my death bed? If the answer is no to any of those, it's not worth getting upset over. Even if someone else is pressuring me or getting upset themselves. 

I don't think I've EVER heard an older woman say that they wish they had potty trained their kid younger. You know what I HAVE heard? That they wish they hadn't been so hard on their kid about potty training, or sucking their thumb or any number of things that we put kids on a timer for. 

Okay, I'm going to go back to NEVER mentioning this. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I deleted my personal Facebook account a while back. I ended up reactivating it because my Spotify account is linked to it and I love Spotify. So it's there but I don't check it.

I made the decision after getting some advice from an older woman.

I had recently asked for advice about something in a status update and I received a lot of really good responses but she suggested that instead of posing the question to, mostly, my peers, that I should seek out older women to ask.

I had actually been contemplating it anyway because Facebook triggers a lot of my character defects. Mostly, my insane inclination to compare myself to others. And so, after that conversation I made the decision to stop getting on my personal Facebook page but to keep my writing one.

The thing is, God has done so much for me. He has taught me, changed me. I honestly never thought that I could really change as a mom. But I have. In tangible ways.

The more I learn, the more I realize that I am deeply flawed and in need of His grace.

I desperately want Him, more of Him in me.

I want my soul's sole focus to be Him. Not me, not what I am capable of...I want to just act with my eyes on Him. Not the wind, not my head knowledge that I am entirely incapable of performing the task at hand. Him.

I want my thoughts to be centered on Him. I want every word, every action to spring from the well of Living Water that feeds my soul and molds my thought life.

I want my feelings to reflect His goodness and the peace that passes understanding.

I want to not ever seek my own good or glory but only His.

I want to shed the weights that hold me back while I'm running.

I just want Jesus. I want to weed out everything but Jesus.

It is my intention to submit to the work of the Holy Spirit, to hide God's Word in my heart, to study and meditate upon Him, to seek God with my whole heart, to set my eyes on Jesus--the Author and Perfecter of my faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I have a vision of my goal, the intention to journey the path and the means to get there.

God is good and powerful, He will do it. :)