Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Kiss me, I'm Irish!

Kiss me, I’m Irish! You’ve seen the T-shirts, heard advertisements for pubs serving green beer, and spotted shamrocks on everything from napkins to neckties. But unless you’re Irish, you may not think St. Paddy’s day has anything to do with you. What if I told you that St. Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland and the centerpiece of St. Patrick's Day celebrations everywhere, was not even Irish? It’s true! St. Patrick was born in Scotland to Roman parents. Around age 14 Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. During his captivity he turned to prayer, and it was God who revealed to him a way of escape. At 20 years old he escaped and was reunited with his family. That alone would be a story in itself, but that is not the end of Patrick’s journey.
In 433 Patrick was ordained as a Bishop, and chose to return to carry the Gospel to Ireland. He spent about 40 years preaching and ministering in Ireland, the very country that had robbed him of so many years with his family. He is said to have used the shamrock that blanketed the country as a simple tool to explain the Holy Trinity.
St. Patrick’s Day offers a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about forgiveness. He could have been bitter and angry, but Patrick chose instead to share the love of God with the people of Ireland. Need some ideas on how to get the message across to your kids? Here are just a few ways to celebrate in a meaningful way:
· Wear green, and remember that green represents life eternal
· Share shamrock cookies, stickers, or plants. Use them to talk about the Trinity
· Ask God who you may need to forgive today
This year celebrate, because you’re just as Irish as St. Patrick!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

I love your Guts

Well girls, it's that time of year again. You know the time I'm talking about, when the entire planet seems to be covered in puffy pink and red hearts and lace. Cupids and bows line the shelves of every store, and anything you want can be found in a chocolate-covered version. Everywhere you look things are wapped in "cute," bundled in"adorable," and tied up in "precious."
Last week I had the rare priviledge of running errands with only one of my three children. That alone is a Valentines miracle. I spent the afternoon with my youngest, lovingly known as G, a rough-and-tumble kindergartener who always has a way of making me laugh. He can be down-righ hilarious, and almost equally profound. On this particular day we had stopped by the grocery store, and were almost immediately drawn to to the Valentine aisle. As we looked at the teddy bears, candy, and of course boxed cards for the Kindergarten class, he suddenly blurted out, "Mom! Did you KNOW that our hearts don't really look like Valentine hearts? They are really just guts and stuff!"
He had recently learned this fact at school, and couldn't have been more surprised that our hearts don't really look like hearts at all. After an extended anatomy discussion in the stationary aisle, 14 varieties of character Band-Aids caught his attention and he moved on. As we finished our shopping I couldn't help but think about the profound statement my little man had made. Our hearts aren't cute, pink, tidy packages. They are guts and stuff. They are not always pretty. They are messy and complicated. All of the other people in the store were walking around with complicated, painful "guts" beating inside them, and I was suddenly more aware of it.
As we enter into the "Season of Love" so many of us and those around us are hurting. Maybe this Valentine's Day you are not feeling the love for your loved ones. Maybe you feel alone. Maybe someone close to you has suffered loss of some kind. Maybe you have some really un-lovable people in your life. Maybe things are absolutely perfect for you and you wonder how long it will last. Whatever your situation looks like, one thing is for sure. You, the people you love, and your circumstances don't fit into a sweet little heart shaped box with ruffles on it, and that is okay. No matter how you feel deep down in your heart (or guts), you have a LOVE who "takes great delight in you" (Zeph 3:17).
My hope and prayer for you and me is that over the next few days we are truly able to enjoy the long, wide, high and deep love God has for us. He is downright crazy about you. As you go about this week, look for evidence that He loves you. It is everywhere! And while you're at it, why not give the people in your life some evidence that He loves them too. This Valentines Day take the opportunity to really love someone, guts and all.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Aisle is the Joy On?

Did anyone else skip New Year's resolutions entirely this year, or is it just me? When the Christmas presents were unwrapped, the cookies were eaten (every last crumb), and the tree was put away...well, at least I meant to put it away before New Year's seemed that I didn't even have the energy to think about making resolutions, much less keep them. I typically start every new year planning to exercise more, clean more, pray and read my Bible more, have people over for dinner more. More, more, MORE! But this year I didn't seem motivated to care about any of it.
Now, being the introspective, analytical thinker I am, my lack of desire to improve, to do more of everything this year really bothered me. At first, I simply wrote it off as general fatigue. This fall I started graduate school, and I am teaching, raising three kids, and walking with my husband through a tough season in his career. But over time I came to realize that I am exhausted in more that only my body. I feel tired in my soul. Somehow, somewhere I misplaced my joy. I don't mean happiness, the kind that comes when you get a fun surprise, and goes when that surprise is on the scale or in the bank statement. I mean deep, satisfying, soul nurturing joy.
I realized mine was missing last week when I attended the funeral of a dearly loved uncle. He was only in his fifties, and had so much life left to live. I watched his wife of about 30 years raise her hands in praise to the Lord for His goodness to them. I saw the light that was still in her eyes, even in the midst of her sorrow. Images of my last visit with him, only a week before his passing, were fresh in my mind. He knew he had little time left, and that many of his dreams for his life were dying with him, yet his joy was undeniable. He could not stop talking about how good God had been to him in his life, and wanted to enjoy every moment of his remaining time on Earth. Even as his body was failing, his soul was prospering.
I want a big, fat helping of that kind of joy. I want to wrap up in it and parade it around for all to see. Wouldn't it be nice to hop in the car, zip over to Target, and ask, "What aisle is the joy on?" (OK you grammarians, I know that sentence was not grammatically correct...) It would be great to just go pick some up and bring it home, right? Well, it's not quite that easy, but I think I have found the solution. It's presence. No, not presents. Presence. God's presence. Psalm 16:11 says, "You have made known to me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy..." As I have rolled this verse around in my head, I have been reminded of the simple truth that God is always present. Yes, always. He is present when I am doing laundry, driving to work, buying groceries, and walking the dog. But how often do I notice His presence? How often do I acknowledge it? I have a sneaking suspicion that as we open our eyes and become fully aware of His presence the joy refill cannot help but happen. His presence is FULL of joy, and when we intentionally enjoy His presence, we also get full of His joy. So, I challenge you this month to join me in noticing His presence. He's there. See Him. Feel Him. Be full.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

True Beauty

Last week marked the beginning of the summer reading program at our local library. It is something my kids look forward to all year, and it never fails to provide entertainment and fun. Usually the program is filled with visits from zoo animals, circus clowns, talking birds and amazing magicians. When we've had as much fun as we can stand, the program wraps up carnival games and waterslides in the park. Last summer's carnival comes to mind often because of a woman I saw while I was there. A beautiful woman. The kind of beauty you remember a whole year later. We had been at the park for an hour or two during midday in August, and the heat was stifling. My kids had been on the waterslide plenty of times, and I was really ready to go home when I saw her. I was absolutely riveted, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from this woman. I can only imagine what picture you are seeing in your head right now. Are you picturing a tall blonde with a supermodel figure and long thick hair? Maybe a brunette who is a perfect "10?" The woman whose image sticks with me a whole year later isn't any of those things. As a matter of fact, she is barely over 5 feet tall, and is a gray-headed grandma with thick glasses and a no-nonsense hairdo. He name is Ms. Gwen, and she is our head librarian. On that sticky August day a little girl with severe visual impairment stood at the bottom of the waterslide listening to the children squeal with delight as they slid into the pool at the bottom. She held her white cane close to her side and waited, resigned to missing the fun. Her mother wasn't physically able to help her climb the steps to the top, and she wouldn't be able to find her way on her own. Without a second of hesitation Ms. Gwen, fully clothed, took the little girl's hand and guided her up the steps of the slide. Seconds later they were both at the bottom soaking wet and laughing uncontrollably. They slid again and again, until the other children caught Ms. Gwen's lesson in kindness and they began taking turns with the little girl. I think the memory of that little woman, with soaking clothes and wet hair plastered to her head, will stay with me as one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Lord, let having that kind of beauty matter more to me than having a beautiful physical appearance.
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Last week I took a road trip to see my Memaw and spent the better part of two days driving across the state of Texas. While I was revisiting the long, empty stretches of Texas plains I had traveled often as a child, Hubby's PawPaw was making his journey out of his earthly body and into the very presence of God. Needless to say, there were lots of phone calls back and forth to discuss funeral arrangements, more travel plans, and the like. More than once I found myself in the absolute middle of nowhere holding my phone in strange positions and saying, "Can you hear me now?" I don't know why I thought switching hands, standing on one foot, or turning down the A/C would make a difference, but I tried them all. None of them really worked.
Over the past 6 months our family has faced Hubby's job loss, increased work load for me, a shift in household roles for all of us, and a God who has seemed strangely silent through it all. And just like on my long, dry trip across the plains, I have tried all kinds of ridiculous contortions to make Him communicate clearer. I've asked my girlfriends for advice, read books about what we should do, looked for hidden meanings behind everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING. I've gone to pre-dawn prayer meetings, hosted a small group at my house, and laid on my trampoline in the dark staring up at Heaven. And all the while I have asked, "Can you hear me now?" And just like my silly cell-phone, nothing seems to work. But it's not because He can't hear me. It's not because I have no service in this area, even though it sometimes feels that way. The truth is, He's been communicating with me all along, but I couldn't hear Him through the noise of the advice I've been seeking, books I've been reading, and the sound of my own voice praying. None of those things are wrong. In fact, they're all very the right time. After I've heard from Him. After I have hung up on every other voice, silenced every distraction, and shut out all interference. Then He says to me, "Can you hear me now?"

Thanks to all of you who have asked about my blog lately. Your encouragement, as well as the website I am linking to today have brought me back to bloggy-world. I have been receiving encouraging emails from Lysa TerKeurst's Proverbs31 blog, and would encourage all of you to sign up for them as well. What a blessing! You bloggers, speakers and writers will also be as excited as I was to hear about the 2010 She Speaks Conference in July. It's especially geared for women who feel called to speak, teach, write or minister to other women. Follow the link for more information! I love you and know you ARE becoming BetterChicks!
BetterChick would love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below each post. If you receive posts by email, simply click on the title of the post to go to the comment section. If you are not a Google or Blogger member, comment as an anonymous user! Thanks!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Celebration of Freedom

On a recent summer Saturday I spent my entire day celebrating the freedom I have as an American. In the morning Hubby and I took the kids to an old fashioned parade, complete with patriotic music, a military flyover, clowns on mini-motorcycles, and of course, lots and LOTS of candy. After the parade we went to a party with water games and had hot dogs and soda outside. We wrapped up the festivities by spending the evening at the Celebration of Freedom at our local city park. There were vendors with glow necklaces, carnival rides, a lifetime supply of junk food, and a fantastic fireworks display. By now you probably suspect that all of this happened on July 4th. That's a reasonable assumption. Cities all over america celebrated on that weekend. But not my city. Nope. Instead we held our citywide Celebration of Freedom on July 11. For whatever reason we have it a week late every year. This year I was feeling particularly thankful as the military men and women marched by. Tears welled up as I saw the veterans parading by and my three children waved their miniature flags provided by our local library. I felt proud to live in a country where people are free to assemble in the streets to show our feelings, favorable or unfavorable, about our government. The date on the calendar didn't dampen my feelings one bit. Though the celebration came a bit late, my freedoms were still worth celebrating.
Now that the parade is over and the tiny flags are put away, I still feel the need to celebrate. I have been set free from so much. What about you? When is the last time you celebrated all that you have been liberated from? Are you able to do things because you want to, free from feeling obligated? Maybe the Lord has lifted the weight of guilt from past mistakes. Has His work in your life freed you from following the same painful path as loved ones before you? Maybe today you find yourself taking a bold step forward, free from the fear of failure. However great or small, take some time today to thank God for His freedom in your life. If you can't think of anything you are free from, today just may be the day you have been waiting for. 2 Corinthians 3:17 tells us that "Wherever the Lord's Spirit is there is freedom." Invite His Spirit to bring freedom to every area of your life. It may seem like in some areas of your life you have gone too far. You might even believe there are bonds that will never be broken. Struggles you will never be free from. Sweet Chick, don't believe that for even a moment. It is never too late, and no one is too far gone. Your struggle is not bigger than His Spirit. Remember, even when it seems like you're the last one to the party, it's never too late to celebrate your freedom.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's a great day to be a Chick, isn't it! I hope that each BetterChick post is helping you to become a better version of YOU! I don't know about you, but there is nothing like bathing suit season to make me want to be a better version of someone else. I see seventeen year old cheerleaders prancing around the pool and realize I didn't even look like that when I WAS seventeen. Even more difficult are the adorable moms with the fleet of children behind them who still manage to laugh (without any crow's feet in sight), play Marco Polo without getting a hair out of place, and wear a swimsuit that looks like it's made of only a few rubber bands and a button... without looking like human sausage links. On one of those recent days at the pool I found myself fantasizing about how wonderful it would be to look like that when suddenly I had a great revelation. These stretch marks on my stomach are trophies. They were hard-earned through three pregnancies that produced three of the greatest joys of my life. These thighs, imperfect though they are, are strong. Strong enough to give "airplane rides" to a giggling and wiggling four year old. Strong enough to hike and keep up with an adventurous 11 year old. These curvy hips are my shared connection with generations of curvy ancestors before me, and eventually to my daughter. The lines that crinkle around my eyes when I smile make me look more like my Daddy and his family with each passing year. Imperfect though it may be, this body is mine. It is the faithful vehicle that carries me through the life I have been blessed with. So today, sweet Chicks, I hope you will join me in thanking God for the Earth-suit we have all been given. Show your body your gratitude by treating it well today. Maybe that means giving yourself a well-deserved rest. Maybe a walk in the fresh air or a plate of colorful fruits and veggies are what your body needs. Whether you get a long-overdue checkup or enjoy a deep and relaxing massage, find a way to bless your body today. I wouldn't be surprised if your body returns the favor!

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