Monday, June 29, 2009

Table Talk - Part Two

"Slow down, your eating to fast!"

I was shocked as I watched my youngest son, Carson, scarfing down his food as if he hadn't eaten in a week.

Once again, it was dinner time. I had spent the last two hours preparing a southern style, home cooked meal, if I say so myself. Keith and I were still in the kitchen preparing our plates with all those delicious sides when I turned to see Carson "in motion". His fork was moving so fast, from his plate to his mouth, that it looked like some sort of new aerobic bicep exercise.

He spotted my glaring eyes, which by the way, my family calls the "burn a hole right through ya glare" and immediately smiled with that "oops, I'm busted" look on his face. He quickly put his fork down and by this time everyone was at the dinner table waiting for me. So, I returned to the task at hand - fixing my plate and heading towards the table.

As I got closer, I spotted Carson's plate and it was completely empty. We hadn't even said grace yet! Needless to say, I was completely frustrated. I asked Carson why he had eaten his dinner so fast and he said, "Mom, there's this great show on and I want to watch it. Can I be excused now?" I looked at Keith to see his response. Surely he'd say no. Instead, Keith gave Carson the nod and off he went to watch his t.v. show.

At that moment, I decided this wasn't a battle I was willing to fight. Although I didn't agree with Keith's decision, I realized this request was an exception and not the norm. Still, I felt a little sad all through dinner. I really wanted Carson to spend time with us as a family. This was our table talk time and I had been looking forward to it.

When dinner was over with and I was cleaning up the dishes, God whispered in my heart " Leah, I know your disappointed that Carson rushed through dinner so that he could watch t.v.. It's like when you rush through your quiet time with me to start on your to-do list for the day." Ouch!

Although it hurt, it was completely true. Often times, I do rush through my devotion time to get other things accomplished. I'm so anxious to move onto the next task at hand, as if my time with the Lord is a line item on my to-do list that needs to be checked off. To think that the God of the Universe sets aside time to spend with me and I'm so "busy" that I don't have time to be with him.

Do you find yourself rushing through your quiet time too?

Is your mind easily distracted with other thoughts when your trying to read through scripture?

Do you ever drift off into la la land while praying?

I'd love to know if you struggle with these things too.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Table Talk - Part One

One one my favorite things to do as a family is eat dinner together. With our crazy schedule, we rarely have breakfast or lunch as a family but dinner is different. We make it an absolute priority to be together around 6:00 p.m. every evening. It's become a wonderful tradition in our home that everyone looks forward too. In fact, even when Keith is traveling, the boys will ask just to make sure, "we are going to have dinner together, right?"

This dinner tradition is so important to us that when sports season rolls around, we often delay dinner until practice is over with. Many times this means eating at 8:00 or even 9:00 at night. My kids don't mind. They like staying up later on school nights. They think that's really cool. Now that we're in summer mode, I don't mind either.

There is just something special about sitting around the dinner table and talking about what everyone did that day. The most amazing conversations can be stirred by a simple question such as "What was the best part of your day?" or "What part of the day didn't you like?".

As parents, Keith and I have found ourselves in unexpected yet thankful moments when one of those questions will burst open a conversation where our children express their hidden dreams, secret hurts and even lingering fears about a particular topic. All this via a simple dinner conversation.

I once read a statistic which stated that families that ate together on a regular basis had better relationships and their children were more likely to stay out of trouble. This is not the reason why we have dinner together as a family every night but it sure is very encouraging.

When we've finished eating, most of the time we pull out a book which I purchased from Focus on the Family years ago. It kid friendly questions about the bible. Our boys take turns reading a question and then ask everyone at the table what they think the answer is. After everyone has gotten a chance to share their answer, one of our boys reads the correct answer and corresponding bible verse.

This produces even more question like "Well, what about this..." or "That's not what so-and-so thinks!" or "I thought the bible said this...?"

It's a lot of fun and we consider this our family devotion time. After all, we're all together, enjoying food and each others' company. I think it's the perfect setting for teaching God's principles to our children.

When we've completed our discussion on that particular question, one our boys put the date next to it as a reminder that we already covered it for future reference. One day this book will be completely filled with dates. Now that will be awesome!

There are some things I LOVE about our dinners together or what I like to call table talk. Tomorrow I'll share with you what I don't like about it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What Now - Part Two

Yesterday, I shared with you my question to God about my accident.

"Lord, what are you trying to teach me?"

His response was simply this, "Surrender."

"Surrender what?"

As I sat still, God whispered in my heart that He did want to teach me about resting in Him but in order to do that successfully, I needed to learn how to surrender first.

Surrender to the fact that I my routine would have to change for a while.

Surrender to the fact I would not be able to accomplish as much as I had before.

Surrender to the fact that I'd have to rely on my boys to pick up after themselves and not pick up and straighten their rooms for them.

Surrender to the fact that I wouldn't be able to serve my husband with home cooked means but that he would be the one serving me has he cooked and cleaned up after dinner every night.

Surrender my time.

Surrender my plan.

Surrender control.

There was that word again.... C-O-N-T-R-O-L.

Something I have struggled with all my life. I have feeling God is going to teach me a lot over the next few weeks while I ice, elevate, medicated, rest and surrender.

What about you? Does surrendering come easy for you? Are you a controlling person like me? What has God shown you in His word or taught you through life experiences that has allowed you to relinquish unhealthy control patterns in your life. I'd love to know.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What Now - Part One

Well, it's been 11 days, 2 hour and 36 minutes since my foot injury (not that I'm counting).

I headed back to the Dr. office yesterday for my follow-up visit.

The first question my doctor asked me was "how are you feeling?" My response was, "The strangest thing has happened."

I shared with him how I had been so good about icing, elevating and medicating my foot. How I was following ALL the rules. I proudly displayed my foot and boasted about how the swelling had gone way down. The only problem was that the pain in my foot had increased significantly and I didn't know why. I was experiencing more pain than on the day of my accident. The doctor started asking me some questions and it didn't take long for him to figure out what was going on.

Although I was icing, elevating, and medicating, I was also spending way to much time walking around on my wounded foot. Sounds ridiculous... I know! Although I was instructed to "take it easy and stay off of my foot", I was having a hard time actually doing it. I didn't mind all the icing, elevating and medicating but I didn't want to give up some other things that were important to me. I was still attempting bible study, meetings at church, picking up around the house, fixing dinner, driving my boys to sports activities, and even a secret trip to the grocery store. All on my injured foot!

Since I couldn't be trusted, my doctor ordered crutches for me and gave strict instructions to actually use them - everyday - all the time. Just when I thought my routine had been limited to the tenth degree, here was just another restriction and it was a big one.

This morning I poured out my heart to God in total frustration. I already knew that He was trying to teach me the art of resting through this whole accident and healing process. I really was trying to rest as much as I could. I thought I was doing a pretty good job. I had cut way back on my normal responsibilities. Why wasn't it enough!

Now, I would have to have to tote around these cumbersome stupid crutches. People stare at you when you're using crutches. I didn't want anyone noticing me, let alone staring at me! It's almost been two weeks and I'm in worse shape than when I started!

I wasn't a happy camper by any stretch of the imagination.

Fortunately, God allowed me to blow off some steam. I'm so thankful that He's full of grace and mercy. After all, He could have fried me for acting like such a spoiled little brat.

After I had my little moment, I got real quiet and asked again, "Lord, what are you trying to teach me?"

I'll tell you what his response was in tomorrow's post :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pretty Feet

Oh my goodness!!! It has been eight days since my injury and my foot is still black & blue! I took some pictures of it but have no idea how to transfer them onto my blog. If anyone is reading this and knows how to post pictures on a blog site, I'd love it if you could help me :)

Today was my first trip to the grocery store too. As I shuffled down the store isles, I couldn't help but feel like I was regaining some sense of normality to my life. It's strange how something as simple as going to the grocery store can take on a whole new meaning when you've been out of pocket for a while. Especially for me. Shopping for food in general is an absolute labor of love for my family and cooking that food is an even GREATER labor of love.

Just a short while ago, I was sharing with a friend about my trip to the store. She commented to me "it's amazing how much we take for granted" and she is absolutely right! Sure, my routine has drastically changed over the last eight days but within a few weeks I should be back to status quo.

However, there are people in my life who have been in accidents which have resulted in multiple surgeries, weeks in the hospital and months of recovery. Other family members are dealing with months of chemo treatments and still others that will never recover from their illnesses.

The fact is... life is full of pain and with pain comes great trials.

Below is a quote from Charles Swindoll which some sweet person posted as a comment to my blog. I thought it was so profound I decided to share it with you.

"Life and pain are synonymous. You cannot have one without the other. Pain is a fact of life in this fallen world, and we cannot escape it. In fact, the goal in life is not to get away from the pain of it, but to endure through it, in fact, to triumph over it, while learning the lessons only pain can teach us." Charles R. Swindoll

I always thought the goal was to live a life that is pain free but we all know that is impossible. Many of us endure pain but to triumph over it? How can we triumph over pain?

When I read this quote I was reminded of Paul's letter to the Romans where he talks about how we should respond to trials that can bring pain into our lives. Take a look at it and let me know what you think.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4 (NLT)

I believe that the only way I can endure pain and trials in my life is through Jesus Christ.

He is the one that helps me persevere through life's difficulties

He is the one who strengthens me when I am physically, emotionally or mentally weak.

He is the one that molds and shapes my character as He carries me through rough times.

He is the one who reminds me just how blessed my life really is.

It is only by His almighty hand that I am able to triumph over the pain in my life and be victorious.

What about you? Has God brought you through a painful experience, that once arriving on the other side, you were able to see how He had made you stronger for it? Has trials shaped your character for better or worse? Do you experience God's strength when yours is depleted?

Please write and let me know. I'd love to hear your story.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Doubt is the Flip Side of Faith

I'm writing today while propped up in bed with my feet gently placed on two king sized feather pillows. Now, don't jump to any conclusions. I'm not a lady of leisure who sits around all day watching soap operas and eating Dove chocolate bars. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I'm a person who loves activity. I'd go as far to say that I thrive on it. My idea of a great day is not laying in bed with my feet propped up but a day filled with lots a things on my to-do list. The more items on my list that get checked off the better.

So why am I in bed? Well....

This morning I twisted my ankle while playing tennis, hence the propping and feather pillows. Fortunately, one of my tennis partner's is a physical therapist and quickly diagnosed my problem while I laid on the tennis court holding my foot and trying to keep from throwing up. Another tennis partner had a connection with an orthopedic doctor and was able to get an appointment for me within an hour's time.

My husband drove me to the doctor's office where I athletically hopped on one foot to the receptionist desk, still in my tennis skirt and one tennis shoe. Secretly I wanted to cry but I decided to play it cool - like I had it all together. I figured it was just a bad sprain which has happened numerous times before. A couple of days in bed and I'd be back to normal. All I needed to do was stay positive, think happy thoughts, and everything would be honky dory.

When the receptionist finally called my name, I assured my husband that he didn't need to come into the room with me. I'd be just find and he could stay in the waiting area and watch their big flat screen t.v.. I told him that I'd be out in a few minutes, or so I thought.

After completing more paperwork and answering a few questions, I hopped my way down the hall and into the x-ray room. My x-rays were taken and now I just had to wait for the results. I intently studied the technician's facial expressions as she viewed my x-rays, trying to determine whether or not she could see if my foot was broken. She quietly mumbled a couple of "hummmms" and then escorted me back to my room without saying a word. Guess I was going to have to wait for the doctor to give me the results.

The wait was much longer than I had imagined and while I waited my happy thoughts and positive attitude began to diminish. Those familiar "what if", "what now", and "why" thoughts started to float around in my mind.

What if my foot was broken? What now that school is over and the kids would be home? Why did this have to happen to me? What if my foot is broken? Will I need a big cast and crutches? What about our family vacation next month? Will I have to cancel our plans?

All these thoughts began to swarm around in my head like bees hovering around a bee hive. As I sat staring at the floor with my foot throbbing and my hands cupping my face, two words popped into my mind. Those two words were "look up".

Look up?

Again, those two words popped into my head. "Look up!" So, I did and four feet away from me was a huge frame on the wall. In the center of the frame was a beautiful pastel patch work art piece and the words below it read

Doubt is the flipside of Faith

As I read those words, God whispered into my heart. Leah, what are you going to choose? Doubt or Faith? You can't have both.

I read it again.

Doubt is the flip side of Faith

How could I have missed that frame when I came into that room? I had been sitting there for over 15 minutes, the art piece was huge, and it had been there the whole time! How could I have missed something so obvious?

All of a sudden, the answer was clear. For I had become so filled with fear and doubt that my eyes were blinded to the truth. Although the truth was right in front of me, it had been hidden by a blanket of "what if's" and "why me" questions. Now, God was asking me to make a choice. Would I choose to doubt him or have faith in Him.

Doubt is the flip side of faith

When I realized what had just happened and how God chose to reveal himself to me in such a real and personal way, my heavy heart was replaced with joy.

I whispered back to him "God, I choose faith!"

I started rehearsing in my mind all the scripture verses I knew about God's faithfulness and provision. I began to tell him how thankful I was that my accident wasn't worse and that I'd trust him no matter what the test results would reveal.

When the doctor finally came in, he said my x-rays showed there were no breaks or fractures in my foot. Although I had torn some ligaments and my recovery would not be a quick one, there would be no need for a cast or crutches. Only a light material boot cast would be needed for me to wear.

As I hopped my way back to the reception area, I did so with a smile on my face. I couldn't wait to tell my husband what had happened and how God showed up in my time of need. He challenged me to choose and choose I did because....

Faith is the flip side of Doubt.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Here I am to Worship

I just love to read! There is just something thrilling about stretching open the tight binding of a brand new book, scanning through those crisp pages that often times stick together, and taking in that unusual scent of writer's ink.

This morning I started a new book called "The Air I breathe" by Louie Giglio. The caption on the back cover says "Everybody worships something. What captures your time and attention?"
When I read those two little sentences for the very first time (at my local bookstore), I can assure you they immediately captured my attention.

In his book, Louie doesn't waste any time and gets right down to business in the very first chapter. He states that "worship is simply our response to what we value the most. Worship determines our actions, becoming the driving force for all we do."

Those words really made me think. It gave me a whole different perspective on worship. I grew up to believe that worship is basically singing songs and hymns to God. Worship is something I do at church with other believers once or twice a week. Or maybe when I pop in a great Christian CD while I'm running errands in my car. I sing at the top of my lungs when my boys are with me and they just roll their eyes and say "oh mom, people are looking at you!"

But that is not how Louie describes worship at all.

Instead, he explains that it's not just the religious crowd who worships but everybody on planet earth. "Everyone responds to what they value the most. Everyone has an altar. And every altar has a throne."

He then goes onto share that " if you follow the trail of your time, affection, energy, loyalty and yes, even money, you'll find your throne. Whatever or whoever is on that throne is what or who you worship. " After reading this, I began to ask myself these questions...

How do I spend most of my time and energy?

Who or what am I committed to?

Where does most of my money go?

What do I value the most in life?

Who or what do I truly worship?

These were really tough questions! I have to tell you that the answers were painfully revealing and quite sobering, to say the least. Yet through this process, God specifically showed me areas in my life that need some adjusting. Subjects of focus that I have no business focusing on. People in my life that are getting to much of my attention. Energy spent on worldly things and loyalty in all the wrong places.

I decided to do a bible search on the word worship and discovered that it appears over 300 times. Luke 4 captured my attention as I read about how Jesus responded to the devil while he was in the wilderness for forty days. Christ's response to Satan sums up our answer to whom we are to worship.

Jesus answered, "It is written, 'worship the Lord God and serve him only.' " Luke 4:8

There's our answer! Now that we know the truth, I'd encourage you to ask the same questions that I asked myself.

How do you spend most of your time and energy?

Who or what are you committed to?

Where does most of your money go?

What do you value the most in your life?

What or who do you truly worship?

I pray that God gently reveals to you, as he did to me, the areas in your life that need some adjusting. Maybe some commitments that you've made to others which have been unhealthy. How about that one thing which captures your focus and energy throughout the day. What about the purchases you keep making that the worlds says will bring value and contentment to your life.

You and I were created by God and made for Him alone. We exist to worship him and reflect back to God his matchless glory. He alone should be the focus of our attention. He is the One and Only that we should worship. And, when we seek and worship him alone, he promises to take care of everything else in our lives. Now that's good news!