Friday, June 29, 2012

Poured out

Typewriter, keyboard, whatever.
It's true.
Writing is the way I pour out my insides;
how I grieve,
and pray,
and wrestle, 
and rejoice.

Have you read my book yet?

 Now available on $9.99 kindle $4.99epub $4.99

Celebrating 3 years of seizure-freedom July 15!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lord of the Harvest

On what has now been sown
Your blessing, Lord, bestow;
The power is yours alone
To make it sprout and grow.

O Lord, in grace the harvest raise,
And yours alone shall be the praise!

(On What has Now Been Sown by John Darwall- public domain)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A country mama: What it's like

This is my home:

Isn't it beautiful?
You can see the church and school, literally across the back yard.
My dear friend (who also happens to be the first grade teacher) lives in the white house.

That's our house at the bottom.
What's great about this picture is that you can't see most of the kid stuff in the yard- 
It's on the other side of the house!

What's it like to be a mama of six out here in the sticks?
Check out my post today at Loving Our Journey!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Messy Mommy Jobs #7 & Link Up

Weak and Loved Messy Mommy Jobs

From last week: 
Don't miss
This mom has earned herself infinite cool-points from her children.
Consider me impressed.

Friday, June 22, 2012

15 things I've learned from a week without kids

My babies are gone this week. Yes, all week. They are with their grandparents, getting spoiled, swimming, drinking chocolate milk, and driving a golf cart through a pole barn. (Nobody got hurt.)

in no particular order
  • I actually eat less because I am not eating in a panic. I don’t eat because I’ve found 30 seconds when nobody needs anything and I might be hungry later so I’d better eat now. I just eat when I’m hungry.  Weird.
  • I am nicer to our pets. I actually have affection and patience to spare for the furry critters.
  • I still think like a kid.  My thoughts think as if they are here. The children are stuck in my head.
  • I notice the tractor and I want to say “Hey, look! A tract-y!” or “Look that cloud looks like a turtle!” We finally got some rain, and it was beautiful, warm and heavy. I wanted to say “It’s raining! Let’s go outside on the trampoline!” I was sad that they were not there to frolic in it with me. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

To the one who feels like she's the only one:

Dear sister in the pew beside me;
Dear sister with the weight on your heart;

You said you are “fine,” and your eyes try to smile but I can see in your quick looking-away that you are not fine. Nobody here would understand, you think. Nobody here has real problems. They all love God and love each other and here I am with this oozing wound that they can’t see, and I can’t let them see because they wouldn’t understand.
Dear sister, you are not alone sitting there with your bleeding heart.
You are not the only one
Whose hands are bloody, whose heart is stained and broken;
Whose heart has erupted violent hatred against God and others;
Whose breath has been taken away by grief or betrayal;
Who screams questions at the God who died for you.
You are not the only one who cries on the inside while trying to keep the smile on the outside.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Messy Mommy Jobs #6 and Link Up

Weak and Loved Messy Mommy Jobs
Welcome to another Messy Monday!

Don't miss this post from last week:
 Boy by Stephanie at Wonderful Mess

 You've got to hear her theories about why boys are so dirty and smelly all the time!

Welcome to Michy from Loving Our Journey!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Writing & Fear Part 3: My Garden Grows Words.

Don't miss the first two parts of this series on Writing & Fear 
10 Reasons I Pause Before I Publish
 When I began to hide


Why do I write when it is risky? Why risk being misunderstood or simply wrong, here in this very public place? 

I write because I am learning who I am, how God made me. I am a writer.  
My entire life makes more sense now that I say it out loud, now that I mean it:

I am a writer.

The ability to write is one of the things that God is growing in my garden.  I try to share with you those flowers that God is growing in me and around me. This is part of my vocation as a wife and mother and friend. It is part of my vocation in the church and in the world.

There are plenty of weeds in my garden, to be shure. [sic] There are plenty of ugly things, and I have bad days, when I sit down at the computer and vomit through my fingers. I try not to pass that on.  Even so, the hard things and the nasty feelings may lead me to learn or receive something from God, and from the receiving comes the writing; the good kind, the kind that makes you laugh or encourages you.

Out of the dirt grows a flower. I pick the flower and I put it in a vase and I pass it along to you. I hope you enjoy the flower.  I hope you know who grew it in me and thank Him for it, too. I hope you can ignore the grammar mistakes and the dirt. I hope I am presenting you with a flower and not just a weed that I have grown to like. I can’t always tell.
It’s not the same gift everyone else has, and some people don’t understand it at all.

I might whine that somebody isn’t taking the time to appreciate my flower- picking, and neglect to notice that he is consumed by the use of his own gifts, in fixing computers or caring for souls or taking out the trash. But then I remember that other people have their own gardens to tend. Perhaps this particular flower wasn’t meant for him (or her.)

I pick my flowers and I wonder why in the world other people do other things. Why spend your day worrying about engine efficiency? Why spend hours learning html code? Why, when there are flowers to gather, when there is grace to enjoy?

But those people have different things growing in them, and that is God’s work, too. And I will learn that, when my computer breaks, when I need a different kind of gardener. And I will be amazed at the strange and useful gifts in the person who has come to my rescue. And I will thank God.

I love when the kids pick wild flowers from the yard and bring them in to me. They give me a gift, that cost them nothing other than the time to pick it, and they are thanked for it. And rightly so: they noticed the beauty around them, they gathered it, and they couldn't help to share it with me.

I try to do that same thing here in this cyber place. 
I notice, I gather, and I use words to pass the grace along.

You are living your own day, running through your list, tending your own garden.  Your garden is filled with your own weeds and gifts and worries. I imagine you, when you come here, stopping for just a minute, taking a breath, and allowing my words into your day.  What a privilege that is for me, to be with you in your work or in your rest. I hope my words are a slowing down and a pointing up and a passing on of blessings.

Why do I write?  
I write because the flowers grow, 
because the grace showers down on me 
and I am compelled to gather it up in words.

Don't miss a drop!
(or, if you'd rather, connect with me on facebook, twitter, or RSS )

Tell me, friend, what is God growing in your garden?  I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

This is what I need. Just this.

Hear how Paul prays for us:

I  do not cease to give thanks for you,  
remembering you in my prayers,  
that  the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,  
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, 
that you may know what is  the hope to which he has called you, 
what are  the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  
and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of  his great might that he worked in Christ  
when he raised him from the dead
 and  seated him at his right hand  in the heavenly places, 
far above  all rule and authority and power and dominion, 
and above every name that is named, 
not only in  this age but also in the one to come.  
And  he put all things under his feet and gave him as  head over all things to the church,  
which is his body, 
 the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:15-23)

This is what you and I need. 
We need “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” so that we “may know him better.” 
We need the eyes of our hearts opened and enlightened to better know
 and understand “the hope to which he has called” us, 
that is, “the riches of His glorious inheritance”
 and “his incomparably great power for us how believe.” 
This power, which can raise us 
from whatever spiritual lethargy we are caught up in, 
is just like the “working of his mighty strength, 
which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand.”

This is what we need. 
We do not need some mystical experience that might give us power of sorts. 
We do not need some tragic experience to jolt us awake, 
although God could use that if he wished. 
What we need are the facts, just the facts, emblazoned on our hearts and minds. 
We need to clearly see where we would be headed apart from Christ 
and where we will be headed with him at the lead.

Gospel motivation by Robert J Koester p 130

photos taken by me at Camp Lakeview

Monday, June 11, 2012

Messy Mommy Jobs #5 and Link Up!

Weak and Loved Messy Mommy Jobs
Featured Posts from last week
Don't miss these!

Signs of Life from Hands Free Mama
I'm not Sexy and I know it from the Spin Cycle

And for those of you who are interested in such things,
DakotaPam's Messy Monday gives you actual solutions and a free resource to help combat the mess!

And now for the photos.

Friday, June 8, 2012

How was summer camp?

They want to remember ever detail, but soon they will be on to the next thing.
Mother, help your child remember summer camp!

Take time to listen, and make a memory!
Get the questions here

How was summer camp?

1.       What did you normally do first thing in the morning? When did you wake up?
2.      What did you do after breakfast?
3.      Tell me your favorite foods at camp. Was there anything you didn’t like?
4.      Tell me three things about your counselor.
5.      What did you do in the afternoons?
6.      Tell me about some of the games you played.
7.      Did you do anything at camp that you have NEVER done before? How did it go?
8.     Who did you sit with at mealtimes?
9.      Tell me about at least one new friend you made.
10.  Did you grow closer to any of your other friends?
11.   What did you do after dinner?
12.  Did you have any snacks?
13.  Tell me something you learned about God.
14.  What did you do during rest time?
15.   Did you read or write anything this week?
16.  Were you ever scared at night?
17.   Did the kids in your cabin get along well?
18.  Who were your three favorite staff people?
19.  Tell me three of your favorite camp songs.
20. Did you get any mail or email from anyone? What did they say?
21.  Tell me a funny story.
22. Did anything sad happen? Did you or anyone else get homesick or injured?
23. Did you pack everything you needed?
24. Tell me about another new friend you made this week.
25.  What was campfire like?
26. Tell me something else you learned during camp devotions.
27.  Did you ever stay up talking after lights out?
28. If you go to camp again, what do you want to do again next year?
29. Is there anything you don’t want to do again next year?
30.  Tell me the absolute best thing about camp this year.

Thank you God for giving me a great week at camp! Thank you for the counselors and staff who worked together to make everything happen, and for all the people who give money to the camp ministry.  Thank you for the time I got to spend in Your creation, meeting new friends and having fun with old friends. Thank you for all the things I learned from Your Word, and most of all, thank you for the gift of your son Jesus. Amen

I Opened my Heart, and Then I Winced: On disconnecting from technology, beings still, fear, and love

There’s something about the sun when it is warm, but not too warm, that stills my body. A blanket on the grass, and a gentle breeze, and suddenly I have forgotten all the work undone.

The warm sun quiets my busyness.
The breeze blows away my constant restless doing of things.
The summer air soothes me, teaches me to just BE.
I lean back in the arms of God’s creation, and I rest.

Not long after I wrote that last post on setting aside technology, I tried it.

I walked away from the computer, and I left my phone behind. I grabbed an old sheet, and I walked with the children down to the pond. I had no agenda. We were not going to get anything done. No weeding, no teaching, no deliberate exercising.

I spread out the blanket, and I sat.

I sat,
with open hands and open eyes and an open lap.

The children buzzed around, playing with sticks, showing me this and that. I listened to every word, I responded with enthusiasm and eye contact. When they wanted to sit by me, I pulled them closer with welcoming hands. Some of them did sit, for a moment or two, soaking up their available mommy and her affection. One boy laid his head on me until he noticed a stick that needed to be thrown into the water. He ran off.

A few minutes later, his sister took his spot.

Aggie sang quietly, and laid her head on my lap. She’s one of the big kids, so she does not get my lap to herself very often. I stroked her hair because I know she loves it when I do that.  

Do you see it? Do you notice the scar on her head right there?
I wear a matching scar on my heart.

I sat there in the warm sun, far away from my jobs and my busyness, and my fingers played in her hair. I could “see” the empty spot in her brain where the tumor used to be. My heart winced, reminded of the great risk that comes with loving this child, every child. 

My heart winced and drew back, afraid of pain and loss. 
But the sun and the breeze and the grace of God soothed even my heart, even this heart with this scar. 

A tight heart braced for loss and for pain is a closed heart.  
Open hearts receive and love. And open hearts get hurt.

Father, How could I ever love another if I did not know Your great love for me?  Conquer the fear in me, and teach me to stay open to love, despite the risk.  
In the name of Jesus, who poured out his blood and His heart for me,

How about you?
Do you feel the temptation to keep your heart closed for fear of pain and loss?
Do you keep yourself busy and distracted with technology or something else to avoid this whole issue?

Have you read our story yet?
Weak and Loved: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Emily Cook
 Now available on $9.99 
kindle $4.99 
epub $4.99 
Aggie had a brain tumor that disrupted her young life; her mother’s sin and selfishness disrupted her best attempts to care for her. Written from the perspective of a mother who suffers with her child, Weak and Loved allows readers to experience the struggles of faith and encouragement of God. Readers will enter the difficult, earthy, and sometimes humorous world of a sick child, and be pleased to find the beauty of God's love in Christ even there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Post: Weak, Loved, and Healing

Meet Angie, my timid writer friend.
I hope you enjoy her first post!

Weak, Loved, and Healing

by Angie Durnil

guest blogger WL.jpgI don’t always take the opportunity to read as much as I did before my children came along.  However, in the last year, I have read more books than in the past 5 years put together.  Why you ask?  I was searching for answers, so I made time for myself to read.

I work full time.  I am a full time mom.  Approximately 50% of the time, I am solely responsible for our household.  My husband travels, sometimes without much notice and usually is gone for a week at a time.  This leaves me in charge of the girls and all of their activities, homework, the household, the finances, the animals, the yard work, etc.  You get the picture.  Now, I am not saying that I do any of this particularly well, especially the cooking, but it does get done.  Ok, most of it anyway.

In this last year or so, I had to make decisions when our youngest daughter kept getting sick and the doctor’s didn’t know why.  I worked the finances between expense checks and pay checks and paid things on time.  I was doing all kinds of things around me, except for taking time for me.  I wasn’t strong in advocating for myself and taking care of myself.  In fact, I was quite weak and started to crumble.  I was only fooling myself into thinking I was strong.  I didn’t take care of my needs, my feelings, my health – mentally or physically.  My migraines were getting worse and my blood pressure kept going up.

It was a tough year on top of all the other things already described.  I found myself one day, very depressed.  Just sitting there… in this pit… this hole… this mire of pity and loneliness, sadness,  contempt, and rage,  even though there were family and friends around me offering to help if I needed it.  I found myself wondering, How did I get this far in this hole?  How did it get this bad?  What can I do to get out of this place?  I had bouts of depression before, but nothing this severe.

What to do?
I was desperate for answers.  I had convinced myself that I was praying ALL wrong; that I was saying the wrong words, imposing my will on His and He wasn’t hearing me.  I would pray at night for hours in lieu of sleep, trying to get the right words out, only to fall in a heap of tears and desperation when I was sure I was failing at that too.  

I reached out for help, finally.  I was told to think about all the things I was doing and saying.  I wasn’t praying wrong, not really, I just wasn’t trusting God with the burdens I was carrying.  I was sure that I could do it better; after all, I was strong enough to do these other things.  If I could just get him to do this, and her to do thatI knew the answers, right?  Wrong!!!  I was already praying for all of the things going on around me, but I realized, I wasn’t praying for me.  I wanted everyone else to stop what they were doing wrong and that’s what I prayed for.  Those things overwhelmed me, and I so wanted and needed to be out this pit, but I wasn’t praying for it.  I was praying for the things around me to stop; or that I could change it; or that He would just tell me what to do; because I needed to DO something!

Grace upon Grace
The very first book I read showed me the errors in my thinking.  I don’t need to DO anything, other than pray and trust that the Lord will prevail.  And He always does.  I don’t need to be strong for me.  I need to be weak.  I need to be like a beggar in my prayers.  I need to wholly trust that God will guide me, that He will put the lamp to my feet and guide my path.  I need to be patient and pray unceasingly.  And it is ok to be weak, because the Lord is strong just as he told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  He will be my strength for me!  He hears my cries for mercy and He is near!

Weak, Loved, and Healing
 God loves me, wholly and completely.  He sent His Son to die for my sins!  He loves me even though I am weak and impatient.   I continue to pray and some things are better.  Some things haven’t changed.   My spirit is slowly lifting and I can feel the warmth of the sunshine again surround me like a warm blanket in the middle of winter.

 Although I cannot say my journey of reading and making some time for myself has cured me of my depression, it has helped me, along with prayer, medication and reaching out to others.  After all, now I know that it is ok to be WEAK in the eyes of God, because He LOVES me.

Take a minute to encourage my dear friend with a comment, 
would you please?

It is such a joy to see God's work in you!
May He wrap you in the warm comfort of His solid love for you.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Messy Mommy Jobs #4

“Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived...Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation... Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”  

Weak and Loved Messy Mommy Jobs
Well, it's settled then.
If clutter and mess show us that life is being lived, then 
look at all this LIFE!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Camp: A Test Flight

She rested on my hip, her soft baby thigh in my hand. I held her chubby thigh underneath the frills of her dress. The pink clip in her hair fell out, again. I squatted down to grab it, and she giggled loudly. I tried to shush her. “Mommy’s not trying to wrestle you right now honey! It’s church time!”

She grabbed for my earring to chew. I took them off, set them on the pew next to the small pink shoes she’d released earlier.
She gave me slobbery kisses.
She was just the baby, and I was just her mommy.
She put her arm around my neck and rested her head on my shoulder for a moment while the hymn played.

And then I blinked.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Writing & Fear Part 2: I'm "shure" she meant nothing by it.

(When I started to hide..)

I remember climbing a tree with a pen in my mouth. Then I would find a comfortable branch, and I’d feel the breeze, and the quiet moment made me sigh and pause and reflect. I couldn’t reflect without writing. The journals filled.

I was in elementary school and writing the insides of heart in a small book with a gold lock and a tiny key. I was terrified that I would lose that little key.
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