Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is the stuff I love...

I like Francesca Battistelli's new song,"This is the stuff."  It opens with this line, "I lost my keys in the great unknown, and call me, please, 'cause I can't find my phone..."  I laugh because that sounds just like me!  It seems like every day my phone goes missing and my keys disappear regularly (at times carried off by our dog, and once actually hidden in a shoe by little Jed), usually when we are hurrying out the door.  The song continues,

"This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use"

It's so true that I can get caught up in the stuff that "drives me crazy" instead of focusing on "how big I'm blessed," especially as we blaze through life at breakneck speeds.  Yes, God uses these things to draw us closer to Him as we lean on Him.  I laugh along with this song and the things of life that can make me crazy, but it gets me thinking about all the blessings in my life.  How blessed I am, how loved by God!  These are in no particular order...

So here is a list of *some* of the "stuff I love," or "how big I'm blessed":
I love my little 18-month-old Jedidiah's little kisses.  He smacks me right on the lips and even makes the smoochie noise!

I love watching my children play together as they create a new game, collaborate on a song to sing, jump on the trampoline, build a fort, go on a hike on our property...

I love living on this little farm.  In the mornings, I hear birds singing, chickens cackling, our little miniature donkeys greeting me with their calls, the horses' whinnies...

I love homeschooling my children and getting to spend so much time with them building into their lives.  

I love watching Tehillah Grace (6) hug a miniature donkey around the neck.

I love seeing my children playing in the haystack (jump!).
I love seeing my 13-year-old daughter swinging on the swing hung from a large oak tree near our house. 

I love hearing my husband wrestling with the children upstairs.

I love that after 16 years of marriage (and 8 children), my dear husband and I still feel like newlyweds.

I love watching my 10-year-old son play soccer, which is his favorite thing to do...

I love looking out my kitchen window and seeing my 12-year-old girl riding a horse in my own backyard.

I love it when my little donkeys come up to the glass door on the back porch, looking in as if to say, "May I come in and be with you?"

I love taking a walk down our long driveway to get the mail with the little children.

I love baking with my 9-year-old little girl.  She is an amazing little baker already!  

I love candles burning all around the downstairs of our little house, making me feel warm inside.

I love waking up early, reading/studying my Bible, and drinking my coffee all alone with God... my quiet times so important to me.

I love a good cup of tea in the afternoon (or lately a smoothie).

I love it when my sweet 3-year-old boy comes into my bed in the middle of the night to snuggle with us and "snore in my ear."

I love seeing Enoch, my 7-year-old boy, tenderly holding his bunny or his mouse, or gently kissing his baby brother on the head at night before bed.  He has a sweet, tender heart that I love.

I love watching Simeon, the 3-year-old boy, riding his little green tractor behind daddy's big green tractor, or seeing him go on a tractor ride with daddy.  Jedidiah has joined in on this lately (so sweet!).

I love that we live in a free country where we can worship God freely and teach our children about Him.

As I write, more and more sweet images keep coming to mind, but I must go get started on the day with the children.

How blessed we are to know God!  How blessed we are in so many ways.  I pray today that I would focus less on the "stuff that drives me crazy" and focus on those things that I love! 

                                                    Like father like son...

                                            Tehillah Grace with Dusty the mini donkey

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you

I have been a true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ now for many years.  I have walked through valleys and been on the mountaintop as well.  Most people who know me would probably describe me as cheerful, upbeat, and energetic.  Some of my friends laughingly call me "Mighty Mouse," because I am very petite and very high energy.  But like anyone else, I have my times when I am anxious or feel burdened with life.  We live in a fallen world, and as a result, there is often pain and sorrow in our lives.  As a mother, I find that I tend to become anxious at times about my children.  I have one teenage daughter, and another who will be a teenager in a few months.  (Of course, there are six younger children growing up quickly as well!)  Sometimes they disappoint me with the choices they make or the way they speak to me or Todd.  Often they are immature, talk back, or quarrel with their siblings.  I find myself becoming anxious about their futures.  What if I don't do a good job raising them?  What if I miss something?  What if the choices they make have lasting consequences that are painful?  Over the years, I have come to realize that so little of this is truly in my control.  I can pour the best things into them, spend time with them, teach them, love them, build traditions for them, but ultimately the choices they make and the paths of their lives are out of my hands.  My anxiety will accomplish nothing.  One of the best things I can do for them is simply to pray diligently for them. 

When I tend to worry, I call to mind these verses: "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." (1Peter 5:6-7)  I find it interesting that in verse 6, we are told to humble ourselves before we cast our anxieties on Him.  Is there a bit of pride in our worrying?  Do we feel that our worry in some way will help something?  We are to humble ourselves under the mighty had of God.  God's hand is Mighty!  Nothing we can do will ever compare to the mighty hand of God in our lives.  When I am tempted to worry,  I remind myself that I can cast all my anxieties on Him.  God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think! 

There have been some dark times in my life when I have felt alone and worried that things would never get better.  I remember clinging to the Lord and asking Him to carry me through and show me His truth.  He is always so faithful.  Sometimes the answers aren't exactly what I thought they would be, or even what I prayed for, but God's ways are always higher than my ways (Isaiah 55:9), and He has given me grace to see that His plans are better than mine. 

Tuesdays are very busy days for me.  We are running all day, going to the library, lessons and a few classes the children are taking.  It can be so stressful getting everyone here and there, making sure we don't leave anyone behind (we have a couple of pokey ones), feeding everyone, etc.  As I head out for my Tuesday, my prayer is that I will let go of all my anxieties today, casting all of them on Him, knowing that He cares for me, that His hand is mighty, and He is sovereign!  As I watch my children grow, see how quickly the time passes, and realize how little time I am truly given with them to help shape their lives, I open my hand, and put them into His Mighty hands, praying all the while.  I know that their future is in His hands. 

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, 
Nor are your ways My ways,"
        says the Lord.
"For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than Your thoughts.
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there, 
But water the earth, 
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater, 
So shall My word be that goes
forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void, (amen!)
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And is shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
                                        Isaiah 55:8-11

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."  
           Ephesians 3:20-21