A Need to Create

Sometimes in life I find that I have just operated on making things work and doing what I need to do. But this week I was reminded of how desperately I need to create in order for my soul to not feel drudgery in the day to day. I want to pull out paints, pick up a pencil, stay up late just to create something.

We are all created to do something. We have different gifts, passions, abilities that if we do not exercise it seems like something is missing. What brings you joy and makes you feel like you have new energy and new life to give? …Taking care of a garden, making numbers work perfectly; setting a detailed plan in motion; making a meal; building;writing a song; singing a song; painting; lending an ear to a friend; cleaning a closet and making labeled, clearly organized bins – what brings you the most joy?

Whatever your gifts, your passions and your abilities are… use them. The people around you need you to do what you were created to do.

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In the rearview mirror…

Life has its moments where you want to hold on to anything not moving and hope that everything else around you will stop spinning. Within the span of nine days our house sold, my husband interviewed, accepted a job, and we loaded a moving truck. In that order.

A few days after the moving truck was loaded and as many in loose ends as possible were wrapped up, the boys and I took off on our 950 mile adventure to catch up with Daddy. (Yes, we did not take a little move. God asked us to walk away and start a whole new adventure.) Thankful for everything that God had unfolded over the past few days, I was still sad. I think God knew I needed comfort as I drove away from our house and life in Iowa, He graciously allowed it to rain and be cloudy the entire first day driving. Through the rain my sister and I finished loading the car and cleaning the now empty house. When everything was ready my two-year-old and I walked through the house. He started crying at his missing tree-house, the empty space for the refrigerator and ended be moaning the missing washer and dryer. After a few runs across the basement a teary boy & mom left the house to head for Dunkin’ Donuts (some rainy, sad days just need a special treat!).

Today we closed on the house, received our finally paperwork and officially no longer own it and no longer have a home in Iowa. It makes me sad yet again. I wish it did not make me so sad, because I am thankful for all God has done. In the midst of processing change and what feels like loss, I have seen God’s unmistakable guidance. Moments in this journey that display His fingerprints and help me to rejoice in Him and put one foot in front of the other.

The joy of my husband and the blessing of his work and work environment. God opened not just A teaching job, but a position in one of the best elementary schools (based on test scores and parent reviews) in all of Georgia. He does not just work under a principal, but with a male principal who, with a family of young kids, also left the business world and began teaching elementary as a second career. And on top of it all, he works with a team of teachers that are overwhelmingly grateful to have him, that want to work together, and that have made him feel very, very welcomed.

But the moment that I keep coming back to in my mind and prayers is the image in my rearview mirror as I drove away from our house for the last time. For in the moment I saw God’s voice clearly directing to keep moving forward – not looking to the right or the left, just trusting Him in the direction He had given. I wanted to look back and see the house for one last time, I could not see the house. The car was loaded to the hilt and I had my two precious boys in the backseat. Their faces filled my view. I could not look back.

Each night as we put our Uriah to bed we remind him that we love him, but Jesus loves him even more than we ever could. We also remind him that we want him to follow Jesus because He has the past plan for Him. We do not want Him to miss any of the good gifts God has in store. So even when it is very hard (which it will be because life is hard), we remind Uriah that it is still best to follow Jesus.

So,even through the tears, I cannot look back. I want to follow Jesus. The blessing He has in store for my life and family are found in walking and trusting Him. So, today as everything with our house in Iowa is officially settled I will rejoice in all that He has done. The incredible answered prayers to months of waiting. His perfect timing in our finances and lives. And the blessing that it is that God moved us near my family, in fact we are blessed to spend a little bit of time settling in to our new life by living with family.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Even when life is hard, follow God, His ways are the very best, even when it is very hard.

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Wait for it… WAIT FOR IT…….. W A I T…….

Whether it is a holding pattern in flight, a phone call on-hold with customer service, a checkout with a long line, or a hot car in a traffic jam… waiting is not on most people’s top ten list of things to do.

But sometimes waiting is the best place to be. That is the place where this week finds our household – waiting to hear on a job for Tim, waiting to hear on the sale of our house, waiting to see what doors will open and what doors will close, waiting to know where the next 60 days will take us. In short, life is just in a waiting zone.

And in the midst of the waiting, we were reminded of abiding and remaining in Jesus as we (Tim and I) read John 15:1-11. In Him, there is great joy, peace and extravagant love in all circumstances. I know that some of that sounds, well, “churchy” or surreal in contrast with how we view difficult circumstances, but I do not know how else to describe the intangible, incredible, gifts that only God can give. And His gifts are only experienced when we are remaining close and finding our life source in Him.

As human people, we get anxious. I have had some conversations with people recently where after answering that we are just at a waiting point, the other person almost seems to grow anxious on our behalf… pressing for our plan. The action steps to be taken next – in short they say, “What are you doing? I’m anxious for you, and you are just telling me you’re ‘waiting’! Come on you cannot just sit still and wait!”

But waiting is trust in action. Waiting requires patience, and some days, trust and life has to be surrendered to God every five minutes. If He rules the universe I can certainly trust Him five minutes at a time!! Waiting is an action. You take the steps you can take to prepare for whatever God has, but only God can provide the outcome.

In all circumstances, God gives peace and joy. When I am resting in God – remaining close to Him I am at peace. I can agree with Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits for Him, and in His Word I put my hope.” I know His Word is true and that God is faithful – ALWAYS. He will prevail with good plans. “I am confident that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

However, if in the next five minutes I take my eyes off the truth and reality of God, I am sinking in the “Oh my goodness, what are we going to do?” So, life is not rosy and perfect in the midst of waiting, but it a place to learn and grow.

As a follower of Jesus Christ, waiting should be a part of my daily life – anxiously anticipating and preparing for the return of Christ. So, if this short-term, temporary period of waiting teaches me more about hoping, resting, and preparing that is a good outcome. I want to be able to continually say my “whole being waits for Him”.

When life is more comfortable, this period of life is a chapter in our story and I feel in a more stable place, may my heart still long for Jesus to come back – even more than how I long for short-term, temporary life answers today. May I prepare fervently for Jesus, because one day He will make life stable, fulfill my every hope and the waiting will come to an end – Jesus will return.

Isaiah 64:3-4

For when You did awesome things that we did not expect,
    You came down, and the mountains trembled before You.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides You,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Wait

Sometimes you should order takeout…

Ever have nights, where despite your best attempts, dinner is announced by the smoke alarm?

Pizza is a meal that is made in mass quantity in our house. I usually try to make no less than four pizzas at a time – we eat one and then I put frozen pizza in the oven for easy use later. However, tonight I think buying Red Baron would have worked out better.

Pizza 1… Well, yep, it was announced by the smoke alarm. The cheese overflowed unto the bottom of the oven and at 500° it does not take very long for the smoke to start billowing out the oven vents. Windows open (praise the Lord it was in between torrential down pours), fans turned on, and the smoke alarm still goes off!! For real! …Uriah is now in tears, because the alarm is so loud he got scared. Let’s sit down and eat. Suppers on!!

Pizza 2… Oven has been cooled, cheese charcoal bits have been chipped off the bottom of the oven, oven reheated. Although this time, the second pizza has been waiting nearly 40 minutes to be put in the oven – toppings have marinated well with the crust, the flour on the pizza board has been soaked into the crust making a difficult transfer to the pizza stone. BUT, I have gotten smarter (or so I think) I have covered the oven rack with foil and then put the pizza stone on top of it.

12 minutes later – we smell pizza – ready to come out. Due to the wait the cheese has made everything melt worthy and the pizza is falling off the stone all over and unto the foil. It takes two of us to get the foil, the stone, and the pizza out of the oven. The next challenge was to remove the stone from the midst of the overflowed pizza. Then the foil needed to be pulled away from the pizza so it could be free. Good thing we don’t eat food based on looks in our house.

Thankfully, flash baking crusts for frozen pizza somehow remained uneventful… except for a bit more smoke from fresh flour spilled on the bottom of the clean over. But, hey, I think we at least have 2.3 salvageable pizzas for the freezer, and who doesn’t love to clean the oven multiple times over the same meal.

Enjoy daily “adventures”! At least design projects went well for the day… and I sure am glad that my family laughs with me at my mistakes and messes.

Enjoy the moments, good and bad of your day!

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Anxiety or Joy

Ps 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (NIV)

What supports and upholds you in your day? Sunday morning I had a choice to make from the very start. I woke up with a very poor attitude to start the day. I sat on the edge of my bed wanting nothing more than to complain about everything… including a restless night with my toddler. The day was going to start miserable if I did not do something instantly. So, I decided to pick up the devotional that was sitting by my bed, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It was about choosing thankfulness when we want to complain, ugh… Thanking God for everything and every circumstance so that our heart is transformed to be like Jesus instead of stepping through a land of complaining which leads to rebellion and regret.

Oh dear, you cannot read that and then choose to complain. So, I thanked God that my energy could only come from Him today. Thanked God that we are waiting. Thanked God for the projects and work He has provided to LeA’Tev. Thanked God for all of the amazing provision, blessings, and gifts He gives daily. And I thanked God that we are at a point in life where walking by faith seems more tangible then at other moments in life.

Then God provided tangible blessings and evidence of His supportive love from friends and family among three different states. What a joy when you realize God has prompted people to pray for you through their own circumstances, through brief meetings with them and through their dreams.

A good friend sent verses that challenged and encouraged my faith in God, including Psalm 94:18-19. Even when we think we are teetering and liable to fall, God is willing to uphold us with His love and replace our anxiety with joy. I am so thankful for the challenges of the day for without the challenges we sometimes miss seeing the blessings of God. Before we complain we have a choice of anxiety or love and joy.

Today, who can you show God’s love to? Who can you encourage and support? What a blessing it is to be a part of showing God’s supportive love and a joy to receive.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Household life and balance…?

Balance? I’m not sure that gets achieved daily in my world, but maybe over the long run.

Each day is a new adventure as school is out and both Tim and I are in the house together all day. Finding new rhythm to each getting our own work done – job hunting and design respectfully, helping each other in our respective work, and then working on house projects together. As we work to accomplish the to-do list and be productive in the waiting process (seeing what job will open for Tim in the fall), we are enjoying time together and time with our little guy.

The daily routine of the house seems to fluctuate and I almost find myself checking to see what day it is. The fall and spring activities have all reached their summer break and summer weddings are in full swing with programs, place cards, gift boxes, guestbooks, and favors to be designed. Small businesses are in need of logos and business cards. And the basement that was nearly finished… well, we organized all of the finished the living areas which means – I am still working on the basement!

Life is always full of change.

It is in the moments of change or waiting for direction that I remember the value of the day and God’s direction in the past. From living in Rockford, IL to Chicago to moving to Des Moines, IA there is no possible means that I could have planned my life. But taking steps to follow God one day at a time has led to a life so rich and full that I am glad my plans and thoughts rarely seem to “workout” in the way that I thought they would.

Balance is found when I let go and walk slowly… maybe today I’ll just take a few minutes at a time. God can handle the day, the week, and the next month quite well.

More silly moments.

Upon this day my ability to make one more decision was limited… especially when I had not yet had a thought about lunch and Uriah was already standing at the refrigerator begging for food. So, I did what any great Mom would do – I let him decide what was going to be on the menu from his choice of anything in the fridge. (OK so a great Mom would have it planned, noted it was time for lunch, and readied food before their children were starving… but how about the average mom?!)

Uriah’s selection – pepperoni, cheese, banana bread and a trip to the cabinet to point out the popcorn. Maybe its the next great “Happy Meal”!?!

Uriah sure loved his lunch!

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Organizing… the basement?

Oh dear! How can one thought of organizing the basement lead to nearly every room in the house…

In July, I had my dad help me re-arrange our speakers so that the cabinets would be freed to use in our master bedroom. LivingRm-PreJuly The Living Room is now not quite as heavy looking, and I can now finish the look by adding wood to the ceiling and behind the TV… but that is another story and another post. And I’m not pulling that project into this process!

LivingRm-PostJuly The cabinets moved to our master bedroom, and were underutilized there for the past few months. In trying to figure how the office and play room in the basement is going to look, I realized I would most definitely need space to put office supplies, papers for printing, work files, etc. So, I re-organized our bedroom closet and added a shelf unit that was under-utilized in the garage (and easily replaced out there with construction lumber as needed). This allowed me to move the ladder shelf from the new baby’s room (no longer a safe location for that anyway – small children and ladder shelves – need I say more!) to our master bedroom. LadderShelf

With our master closet organized, I had a few dvd’s that needed a new home. There is a closet that divides our living room and kitchen – it was a disaster (yes, my whole house can fall under the disaster heading most of the time). I re-arranged and cleaned this closet out which created an empty shelf needed for the DVD’s. It is also more convenient to have these right next to the room you view them.

Pantry  And this new arrangement of our closet, the ladder shelf, and the kitchen closet led to two free cabinets to use in the basement. Extra bonus! They are cabinets that I really like the look of which aids in the final enjoyment of the basement space, plus they have adequate room for everything I need to store. My husband and brother-in-law graciously hauled them to basement to join the chaos that is yet awaiting organization.

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The second bedroom organization and clean-out can now be underway. A pile of baby stuff that my toddler no longer needs has left his room and is piled in the corner of the soon-to-be nursery. The papers and office items in the closet have begun to be sorted. If I ever needed motivation to go to an electronic filing system for bills, bank statements, and other miscellaneous files  – this is it! The photo below is my stack of papers to shred. How does time go so quickly and old statements pile up so high!

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So, there is the progress update! Nothing very creative as of yet! Getting through the mess of junk reminds me of how much I do not need and helps me to reject thoughts of wanting anything more to add to the pile. So, although the process is slow… in the end perhaps I will have learned an important lesson about the worthlessness of stuff and have a house that is, at least temporarily, not a disaster! : )

Part 1 – The Organizational Project

 

Holy… what does that look like?

Leviticus is a tedious book in the Old Testament. I had been reading the Bible at night, but when it came to Leviticus it just wasn’t working. I’d start and my mind would wonder or I’d end up staring off into the distance. Until I finally did what I needed to do in the first place ask God to help me through it and teach me something in the midst of it.

I hear God teaching me, but the actual full learning of the lesson will take a very long time I’m certain. God called His people to be holy in how they acted towards everyone – inside and outside their group. He told them to go above and beyond when they have hurt someone, ruined something they borrowed or spoke ill of someone. They had to return the property, pay the value plus 20%, and then go and make a sacrifice for their wrong doing. God told His people to be aware that sin can be committed unintentionally and therefore as soon as it is recognized – make it right!

God did not stop with behavior to be holy but included eating, bathing, illness, every corner and aspect of life.

Since God does not change, I am certain that He cares about every aspect of my life. Especially since in 1 Corinthians 10:31 we are told to do everything, even eating and drinking, to the glory of God. But now I am left to wrestle with what holiness looks like in action.

In a society that internalizes most thoughts and intentions it does not seem obvious to see holiness around us. But I believe the results are just as obvious now as they were with the Israelites. I do not know if I will ever be in a place again that has such a distinction of people’s hearts in visible action, but I do know what I want God to see overflowing in my heart. God “does not see the same way people see, He looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

I want my life to be shaped by God’s life.

So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16, The Message

It is also a blessing to know that because of Christ’s resurrection and death, I am covered by his righteousness and holiness and stand blameless before God.  Ephesians 1 and 5:25-27.

Waiting on a Promise

Winter is long, gray, and cold. This year the winter of the north seems to have extended itself to some degree or the other throughout much of the country with the exception of maybe Alaska.

The weather creates a deep longing in me for warmth. I want to go outside. I want to see green, living things outside. I want the sun to shine and to feel the heat of its rays.

Sometimes what we long for is only realized after the trial – after the winter. God told Moses that he would know He had sent him after the people were delivered.

Exodus 3:12 And God said “I will be with you. And this will be the Sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt you will worship God on this mountain.”

If I were Moses I would have wanted a little more reassurance during the process. But the promise was after. God did talk to Moses in the process, but the reassurance that it would work out, that it was indeed God who sent him, was not given until they worshipped at the mountain after deliverance.

God walks with us through the winter months of life. In fact the winters helps us to choose our worship and attitudes. We can complain through the hardship, the trial, the cold, the wind, the snow or we can choose joy, contentment, to learn, to grow. Winter helps me to worship with my mind and my soul regardless of my emotions.

Emotions worship when the sun shines, the birds sing, and I’m warm. My mind and soul must choose to overcome emotions and worship when life is not as I want it, not as I thought it would be.

So, the snow is still falling, the highs may still be near zero, and the clouds are still hovering in the sky, but like Paul sitting in a dark, dirty, cold, miserable jail cell we too can say “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again – rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)