Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Christmas Child

Do you remember when anticipation would creep under your skin as December drew near?  The atmosphere of your home may have been full of secrets and giggles as family members wrote their gift lists and parents tried hard to find new hiding places.

Perhaps you were a child that longed for that sense of anticipation but instead wore the cloak of sadness because neatly wrapped gifts under a large Christmas tree happened in other neighborhoods but not yours.

The Christmas season highlights the contrasts that exist within the human experience.  Christ’s birth was a star-lit invasion into darkness. God’s entry was a detonation to rescue a war-torn world. It set off the most commendable and notable shift in human history.

Jesus’ entry as an infant reveals God’s goal to identify with every aspect of the human experience-the array of emotions, the highs, the lows, the suffering and the victories.

My husband lost his father the same day that our oldest daughter turned eight.  Four days before Christmas was a concurrence of fatherly smiles and a son’s broken heart.  For my husband, the Christmas season is forever bittersweet.

The Christmas Child reveals life’s incongruities. 

Every December, preachers around the world begin to sermonize about the significance of the Christ-child born from a virgin, God cloaked in the experience of humanity, becoming one of “the least of these.”

Was it bittersweet for God the Father to watch his only begotten Seed penetrate the veil that separated the Creator from the created, knowing that suffering and death would be his end, despite the victory that this death would bring? As Jesus was pushed from his mother’s loins in a smelly, dark cave, what thoughts came to the eternal mind of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, knowing that the Son, the third Person of the trinity was no longer in total communion with them? Did they miss him?

Some may say that I’m humanizing the Creator too much, but the New Testament teaches that Jesus was a perfect reflection of the Father and if Son cried for Lazarus then wouldn’t Father grieve for Son?

Yet the birth of the Christmas Child was grand! Angels sang and the Magi wondered.
What a myriad of emotions we experience when we celebrate the birth of this Christmas Child.

Jesus Christ is the junction where the differences of human beings meet and end. We all begin life totally vulnerable, wrapped in life’s blood at the expense of another person, whose selflessness ensured our first breath. Emotion permeates our daily lives as naturally as air fills our lungs. At least until we learn the art of suppression. 

The season of the Christmas Child brings the awful occasion of two classmates, one knowing ease, the other knowing only struggle, sitting side by side on the last day before what many still call Christmas break.  Both believe in Santa Claus more than the God of the holiday, but one anticipates while the other mourns.

The gift of Jesus Christ is for both. His good news will dry the tears of the mourning and teach humble gratitude to the prosperous. His birth and life’s journey shows that strength comes from vulnerability and victory comes from death. God knew that his earthly entrance would bring both great celebration and great hostility.  His chosen people were expecting a conquering King welding a sword not a bloody baby offering life. 

This year as my family celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, I want us to pause, reflect and thank God for his constant care. I want us to ask the Holy Spirit to release child-like wonder and anticipation for what God will do our future. I want us to pray for those who suffer and still yearn to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Will you join us?

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”
 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.
Luke 2: 15-20 (NKJV)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Constructing the Teenage Mind

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

Our mind is designed to control the body, of which the brain is a part, not the other way around. Matter does not control us; we control matter through our thinking and choosing. we cannot control the events and circumstances of life but we can control our reactions....It's not easy; it is hard work, but it can be done through our thoughts and choices. (Dr. Caroline Leaf, Switch On Your Brain)

Raise your hand if you loved adolescence. I bet if I could see through my laptop, I would see no hands raised. Being a teenager is rough and the way our world is wired doesn't help. Contemporary culture for the teenager is a landfill of pop entertainment, verbal, fashion and hair trends, the latest social media interaction, entitlement and indulgence. The adolescent is caught between their childish nature and a rapidly maturing brain and body, as well as the volley between autonomy and group think. The professionals have taught us to expect teens to be mindless followers and slaves to their hormones; by and large we've lowered the bar for teen behavior because of these experts. 

Currently there is a growing mindset that not only teens, but even children need to be allowed a level of exploration that was once reserved for married couples. These new experts tell us to loosen moral boundaries, the gender assignments of biology and so much more in order for these developing humans to realize their truest selves.  

What do you think about this?
More importantly, what do teens think about this?

Most importantly, if you call the Bible, your handbook for living, what does God think about this?

There is so much negativity and relativistic mentality in the world, I've discovered that we need to train our children how to think and how to reason.

One of my sons sat at the dinner table last night to do his homework that had to do with worldviews like New Age, pluralism, nihilism and a whole bunch of other -isms. 
Then another son, overhearing a comment that I made about the -isms came into the room remarking that he was the king of swagism.

We all belong to some -ism. Biblically minded families need to make sure that their children and teens are taught to recognize any -ism that will undermind the foundation principles of their faith.

How do you train a teen who has spent hours playing video games how to identify nihilism or fatalism in the lyrics of his favorite songs? Patiently and graciously. It's natural that teens are sensitive and wary of critique. They are becoming and don't know who they are becoming or sometimes who they even are in that moment, but they innately need acceptance and respect no matter what hormone-induced personality is at the forefront. 

The daily educational grind inserts these fragile personalities with other like-minded personalities of the same age. The dominant personalities, usually the most insecure, become the clique leaders, gang leaders or class clowns that make every boring class a bit more fun. The voices within the daily grind are numerous and loud. How do our teens wade through this cacophony of peer and teacher voices, some good, some bad, but all impressing our teens to be shaped by their -isms, even swagism. 

Sometimes teens come home from school or coop and say, "so-and-so said the test is going to be hard," or "but mom, everybody's doin' it", BUT GOD says.....

Sometimes God's still, small voice is the last to be heard.
Biblical thinking in this day and age doesn't come automatically. It takes time and energy to know and understand the scripture. The verse "I can do all things through Christ (Jesus, the anointed one) which gives me strength." should b
e on the tongue of every adolescent. Sometimes "professional research" teaches us to expect teens to fail. Sure, adolescence is bumpy, but teens are not failures especially when they are in Christ. "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." Let's teach our kids to think biblically about themselves and the world around them. God's perspective is the only perspective that matters. "for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises] 2 Cor 5:7 AMP

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Is your road changing direction? Go with it.

I've noticed how when summer greets autumn the winds blows like heck around here. Parts of our yard become junk piles of broken branches. I guess these branches are too old to hold on. Their time has come. They won't see the next spring.

I am reading a book called "Permission Granted: To Do Church Differently in the 21th Century" by Graham Cooke and Gary Goodell. I've spent some time stuck in the Introduction because it is that good.

"Transition is an adventure into the unknown with all the attendant risks that the uncharted can formulate around us. Change provokes our hearts because it challenges the status quo. It makes us feel uneasy and vulnerable  because it takes us into territory where we have never been before. We are happy to talk about Abraham going out without knowing where he was going, simply trusting God to get him there (see Heb. 11:8). However, when it is our turn to make the journey of faith, it is a different matter. God has His own road maps for times such as these. The old ones are useless to us, and the new ones are completed as we go!
Every change involves a letting go of one thing to reach out for what is next. It is death by installments--the slow death of our mindsets, our attitudes, perceptions, and paradigms with apparently nothing obvious to take their place. That is, we see only the replacement concept as we journey. We don't just see it, though; we experience it. Sometimes our experience is first, and we go through something that we understand only in retrospect. It is important, therefore, if we are to journey with the Lord into new lands, that we build in time to reflect and review where we are and where we have come from."
Wow! That's good, isn't it! The thought that especially strikes me is: "The old ones (road maps) are useless to us, and the new ones are completed as we go!"

Those old tree branches are too old for buds to form and leaves to grow. They are too brittle to hold the squirrels and birds that need refuge. They are useless.

I love how God teaches us through His creation. Every new season and stage requires a new road map. The problem for us is that road map is only discovered as we begin to walk. This faith walk is emotionally and mentally challenging because not only are we creatures of habit, but we are people who love to know where we are going!

When the winds of newness begin to blow, we close our windows so that we cannot feel the breeze or we shut down our spiritual intuition until the change is already upon us. In those times we scramble to readjust because we know that we can't retreat. Yes, sometimes we move to a different church or dye our hair. Often we find some way to hold onto the hope that what we've become comfortable with and accepted will return. 

Some things are never returning.

As Christians we have but one promise to hold on to in Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. No matter what is before us, it is part of God's plan and we must hold steadfast to the truth that our good God makes good plans. It doesn't matter that the last child moves out next week or that today the moving truck comes to load up all of your memories. It also doesn't matter what topic our media is sensationalizing when it comes to the plight of a sin-stained world. God gives us a future and a hope.

Truly it must be His presence and His faithful words that set our feet to walking and keep us steady as we go. One day, the trees around our house will die and fall unless we take the initiative to cut them down before they fall on something we value.

What wind is blowing around you, breaking off withered branches? Is it time to cut a tree down?

"Lord, take my hand. I am reaching to hold onto what I know is the surest and truest reality of my life and that is you. I don't know what is ahead. But I know that because you exist outside of time, you are already in my future, waiting. Thank you Jesus for your faithful hand to guide."

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Self-Image and Special Needs

When a child has special needs, we must help them develop a good self image.Three items to consider are: what we think about ourselves, what others think about us and if we are Biblically-minded, what God thinks about us. In the hubbub of our daily thoughts, the most necessary point we must deal with is what we think about ourselves.Seven year old boy: “Mom, I don’t like the size of my ears.”
Mom: “Son, God loves your ears and I think they are cute.” 
Boy: “Well I don’t like them!”Two other responses could be, “Mom, God loves everybody! He doesn’t count.” or “Mom, you don’t count. Of course, you’d think they were cute.”Often our personal beliefs carry more weight than even the opinion of God.Not every parent faces the reality of a child with special needs whether they are physical, emotional or mental. The closest experience I’ve had is so far from these challenges, I’m almost embarrassed to write about it, but it’s my son’s reality that prompts me to share.For whatever reason, my oldest son didn’t develop the ability to say a few consonant sounds well. “R” was “aw”, “tr” was “twah”.

As a young mother, I fought self-condemnation. Did I not introduce crunchy foods early enough in order to develop the movement of his tongue? Did I not read aloud to him enough? I had many questions. Unlike the parents of children with conditions that make daily living distinctly challenging, our remedy was simple: two years of speech therapy at a local school.
My son didn’t like it. I never knew until recently why he seemed to meld into the walls when we walked through the hallways and past the open doors of 4th grade classes, to meet with the speech teacher. I also never knew why he looked so sad when I practiced the lists of “r” and “w” words with him every night.Currently, his adult peers would never know he had a problem once upon a time. Like I said, his challenge was a simple and easily solved one. However, no matter how  trivial my son’s challenge may appear compared to children with special needs, self-image was an issue for him.  I wish I had known this at the time. I was stunned to discover that during these years, Christopher had developed a very poor image of himself. This was the reason for the melancholy that I saw in his face. He was a natural competitor. His question “Why do I have this struggle?” was very real. Here is an excerpt from his blog: “…, when I was in 5th and 6thgrade I had to visit a speech therapist because I couldn’t pronounce the “r” sound correctly, especially when I got excited and started talking fast (which people tend to do when they get excited).

There are few things worse than being told you can’t talk properly (I can’t speak for everyone but it definitely tops wearing braces, which I also have experience with). In hindsight I’m extremely glad for those many, many speech lessons; however, back then they were a tremendous source of shame and actually caused me to embrace the role of outsider. I figured that as an outsider I’d interact with fewer people and thus be put in fewer embarrassing situations.

These are the words of a Summa Cum Laude college graduate, so it goes to show that handicaps do not reflect intelligence.  However, in his blog article he goes on to write about the mask he assumed to attempt to be something that he felt he was not due to his speech impediment.Reality and perception are venomous counterparts. They walk hand in hand. However, one thwarts the other and can change someone’s destiny if not tamed. A child’s perception about themselves cannot be automatically fixed by a quick exhortation about God’s love while cooking a meal or reminders about the child’s unaffected skills and talents. Hugs before bed, buying favorite toys and changing the subject are feeble attempts to fix a problem and only exhibit our sense of helplessness as parents.As I stated, I never knew that my son’s self image had grown sour. If I had known at the time, I’m sure I would have performed some of the aforementioned countermeasures. I do wish that I’d not brushed off his sad demeanor and uncharacteristic behavior in the hallways of the school because at the very least I would have regularly prayed for him.A decade has gone by and I have little boys in the house again. While neither is showing any physical challenges, life has already presented situations that could affect my five year old’s self-image. I noticed on the playground months ago, that he no longer runs with abandon to play with another kids no matter what age. Now he stands back and watches. He plays alone all the while glancing at the other kids out of the corners of his eyes. Usually after 15 minutes or so, he gathers the courage to begin to interact with another child if they are about his age. What happened? 

In protecting him from rejection I once said something to him that planted the wrong idea in his young mind.Previously at another playground in another town, a bus load of boisterous preteens flooded our serene playground paradise. My then extroverted four year old went up to some of the preteen boys and began conversing with them like they were his peer, all the while oblivious of their facial expressions and deaf to their whispers. However I was not deaf. As quick as a lioness, I rushed my son away while smiling at the insensitive tweens. Getting down on my knees in front of him, I explained what I thought would be good wisdom for him as he grows up. I told him that older kids sometimes don’t want to play with younger kids because of the age difference. I said that not every older kid has a younger sibling and some don’t know how to be nice and I didn’t ever want his feelings hurt. The reality of what I said, while true, didn’t filter accurately inside his four year old brain. Months later, I learned that he was afraid of older kids.Nooooo! Not my intention! His perception of my words had tainted how he saw the world around him and how he perceived himself in the face of older kids. It took over a year to undo the fruit that my ten second statement produced.
How much did this affect his self-image? I don’t exactly know, however I know that he  began to be self-aware in a non constructive way. His age became a negative thing in some environments. Moreover he began to realize that he was much taller than his peers who assumed he was seven and didn't quickly rush to play with him. He began to feel like an outsider. Although he learned how to play by himself during our playground excursions, as I watched his eyes, I could see the longing for interaction. God is good and inevitably other children would come along and my son’s world would be as he wanted it to be.
Loving well includes counseling our children in an age-appropriate manner, following up with them by asking them what they think was said, praying for them, and continuing this process over and over again as we watch them develop. We can tailor their perceptions if we get into their heads and discover how they are translating the world and our words. But it takes time.The beauty of prayer is that we recognize that some dilemmas take God’s invisible working to fix. He loves our children way more than we can ever love them and we can learn to trust His goodness as a heavenly father.Without direct parental involvement, my oldest son Chris’ self-image was mended through his relationship with God. He writes about his healing process:
“So how do we escape? If we truly are created to be someone different than who we’ve presented others for so many years how do we go back? How do we bring back the man or woman behind the mask?First, we must acknowledge that we’re wearing a mask in the first place, which is easier said than done. Repentance (i.e., changing our mind and how we think) will only come if we understand what falsehood we believe and what the alternative truth is. This is why our second task is to ask God to reveal the difference between who we really are and who we’ve been pretending to be. He’s anxious and happy to do so. This is not a one and done event. It’s a process as God not only shows us who we’ve been pretending to be but also why we’ve been pretending to be them. This journey into the past can bring up painful memories but this is the path to restoration and healing. Finally, we must accept ourselves, our true selves. God has a glorious plan for each and every one of us and it is only by becoming who he created us to be that we’ll be able to accomplish the good works he designed for us.

Although by age fourteen, Chris’ speech impediment was just a memory, his way of coping with the impediment, the mask - a sign of a poor self-image, had turned into a predicament that God has now turned into a wonderful testimony.We don’t want our kids, whether they have a special need or not, to disapprove of themselves and find a mask to put on. If circumstances cause some to have to live with a life-long disability, we want their perception of themselves to be secured by God’s love and founded on God’s identification system.  As they journey through life’s maze, all must acknowledge the reality of human weakness, incapacitating or otherwise, but not allow their challenges skew or sour their self-perception. The Bible says that mankind is created in His image. The spiritual DNA that makes each individual significant is far greater than the physical house that we live in while on the Earth. Ultimately this is the truth that removes the mask and establishes self-image. God is present to tend to the hearts and minds of our children as He whispers affirmation to their personhood. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

When Interruptions are God - Navigating Through the Extraordinary Unknown

I've home schooled for 17 years and these days it really takes God to motivate me. Don't get me wrong. I really do love teaching my kids. However, work is work for all of us no matter what our chosen vocation is. My 16 year old is a junior and will take 4 co-op classes this year. I'll teach him Music, Bible, and British Literature. I'm really looking forward to the spontaneous conversations that will spring up while he learns about the global prayer movement of the past 20 years, Classical composers, chord structures, and Ivanhoe. My new 1st grader and preschooler are getting used to our new Fall routine, which at this age, balances spontaneity with structure. Sometimes you just have to put the workbook aside and play an alternative form of the card game war: each player puts two cards down instead of one and the student has to use a math operation to determine which player has the bigger answer.
Today's morning routine has been weaved into the complex quilt called: my life. This week will go down in my personal history as the most thrilling yet most difficult week ever in my 46 years. I've sought to trust God will all my heart and lean not to my own understanding. I feel like the solder who is told to arm themselves then stand down, over and over again. We all go through these divine moments of stretching that hurt so much, yet are so necessary for our own personal growth. I'm so thankful to have a God....a heavenly Daddy, that I know is so present, so pleased, so comforting and so steady.
It's His steadiness that keeps us, as we balance the daily routine with Spirit-initiated interruptions.

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior" (Oceans by Hillsongs United)
This lyric gives God permission to interrupt and to invade our mundane lives with the extraordinary unknown. Whether we are a stay-at-home mother, a business owner or a company employee, as Christians, God has so much more for us to do and to pursue that is outside of our usual routine.
A friend of mine was driving home from her 12 hours nursing shift when an accident happened a few cars beyond hers. It was no accident that she drove that route home. She comforted and waited with the accident victim and prayed quietly as the Spirit of God led. Last winter, my husband and older kids left the new movie theater when they saw a man laying on the icy sidewalk. After turning around and getting out of our Suburban, they invited the man to get into the car so that he would not have to walk to his destination on the icy sidewalk. One day last summer, I left a Walmart and noticed a woman putting grocery bags into her car which was parked in a handicapped space. Compelled beyond my usual comfort zone, I walked over to her and asked her if she was okay. Mind you, I'm the mother of six who is always going 70 mph to get 27 hours worth of goals accomplishes in 1 day! I ended up praying with her and to my surprised she prayed for me in turn. It was an unusual blessing as I allowed my feet to wander down God's path according to God's goal in that moment for me.

Those three items pale in comparison to the deeply divine waters that I found myself in this past week. I'm sure I'll share the details some day. This very emotionally and spiritually stretching situation, so surreal despite its Biblical basis made this unofficial first day of school startlingly calm.
I wrote a guest post last year for Grace & Faith 4 U. I ended the article with this:
In order for life to be on earth as it is in heaven, our lives must be invaded by the unexplainable, the wondrous, the unimaginable, the jaw-dropping display of God’s love that comes through His power and might....John 5:20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Do Our Kids See Our Past or Our Present?

Chapter excerpt from my work in progress: Ages and Stages: The Book

My original chapter title was "Do Our Kids See Our Past or Our Present?" but just this morning I thought of two alternatives: "When We Live in Our Past" or ""Overcoming the Past, Wading through the Present". Neither of these may become the actual titles, but such is the process of writing!

Here is an excerpt from this chapter. It's been one of the most difficult chapters to write.

In the mid-1990s our marriage hit rough waters. Doug called it individual hurricanes colliding to form one massive storm. It wasn’t fun.
But it was a needed season of learning. Although as young Christians we had read a lot about spiritual warfare and recognized a few areas in our personal lives that needed healing, we had no idea that our souls were really icebergs.
So in order to work on our marriage, we needed to address many of the unseen areas of lives. This included doing individual inventories of rooms in our soul which is the realm of the emotions, the memories and the will. Faithful ministers in our local church and a wonderful ministry called Freedom in Christ, founded by Neil Anderson helped us through this stage.
I learned that we always need healing from something. Whether it’s the dog that chased me down the street when I was five or whether I perceived that I was being rejected by a loved one just yesterday,a regular inventory of my heart needs to occur. If I don’t, my family is bound to be affected by my wounded soul.
All of us remember the environments and cultures in which we grew up and the relationships that made impressions on us. As children, we are blank mounds of clay shaped by other people. Every human being is like a chisel, intentionally or unintentionally
making impressions into the souls of those around us. The Bible calls God the Potter, and as a Father, His desire is for all of us to be initially shaped by parents who reflect His character. But there is no person on earth that perfectly reflects God’s character. That leaves even those with the most fortunate upbringings indented with impressions left by people or situations from their past.

(later in this chapter)
We inherit good habits and talents as well as predispositions to specific thought patterns and behaviors. Besides the goodnight kiss, I didn’t grow up in an affectionate home, and as a child I always admired families that that were affectionate. As a result, I made a conscious decision to be affectionate with my children as long as they would let me, which usually ended up being until the age of seven. The downside of this was that because physical affection wasn’t my natural inclination, except for the nightly kiss goodnight, my kids went without much human touch from age seven until eighteen or older. I found out later that as teenagers, they wondered why we weren’t an affectionate family. They missed it but were unable to ask for it!

Now affection is easier for me to initiate towards my older kids and even towards my husband. To put my arm around my daughter’s shoulders is as deliberate an act as being mindful of a child’s particular love language.  Was this generational lack of parental affection a muted ache in my family line? Heaven knows. However I’ve realized that as a parent I need to learn more about how human beings are made by God to function. I need to read books written from a biblical worldview about child development as well as adolescence. I need to remember the yearnings that I had as a teenager and realize that those yearnings were not individual to me, but normal for all people. Everybody wants a super duper bear hug at some point, even the teenage male who thinks he has it all together!

A few books that were instrumental not only in helping me model God as a parent but also in giving me tools to overcome the obstacles that were robbing my children of a emotionally healed mother were: Seven Longings of the Human Heart by Mike Bickle, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson and The Root of Rejection by Joyce Meyer.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Site!

Good Morning!

Some of you have noticed changes to this blog. After about a four month break and much contemplation, I've decided to restructure this blog, originally titled BeforeTheBeginning. While that may have to remain the web address, I'm dedicating this blog to my upcoming book and my current blog series Ages and Stages. I'll feature articles on parenting styles, home schooling trends, advice for moms and dads they learn how to love well through the process of parenting.

"the process of learning how to love well is one of the most worthwhile missions that we can undertake"

Meanwhile, Doug and I are featuring our books on a new website, better suited for our vision. features books, bible studies, and blog articles for those who desire to understand God as a father. He is our heavenly Father, but many stay at arms length from him due to their primary perceptions of him as boss, stern God, or distant friend. We want our readers to know him the way Jesus knew him first, as Abba Father, dearest Daddy. Our heavenly Creator desires us to curl up into his bosom and find complete peace, security and rest. He sings over us. He loves us extravagantly.

So come and read.
Come and listen.
Come and watch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


June 23, 2015

It's been awhile. My house renovation is over. My second child graduated from college Summa Cum Laude. My five year old thinks he's fifteen and my youngest daughter gets her driver's license on Friday. Yeah! But.....

I have a friend who is fighting for her life. We are fighting for her life. She has six kids also....
My heart aches for their daily suffering but my faith rests in my Heavenly Daddy's power.

I didn't sleep well last night. My soul is yearning and my mind is stretching upwards to see and hear what the Father is doing and saying in so many situations on this topsy-turvy planet of His. The shootings in Charleston happened a week ago tomorrow.

Perspective. My lenses have been adjusted quite a few times in the last 90 days. Life is precious, worth fighting for and I realize that while we have breath, we must fasten ourselves to God's priorities for our lives. Biblical faith and family are His agenda. One guarantees a foundation that cannot be shaken, no matter what storm, what disease, or what murdering spree attacks our communities. The other is the building block of healthy communities, and in turn, a life-giving society. Death's defeat was secured by Jesus upon His resurrection, but yet, we see death's dance in the daily news over and over again.

Perspective. Whether we are in the last days according to Christian history or not, we need to have our faces set against ideologies and systems that seek to undermine individual faith and the jurisdiction of the family. 

My five year old son hasn't grasped his immaturity because his brilliant mind somehow comprehends the adult conversations that happen in his presence. Just yesterday he explained to my husband the definition of "figure of speech". So much for using idioms and coded language around him. In our perspective, he is a little boy. However, his perspective takes him beyond the evident, the natural, the societal tradition of exclusion for children. He is a little boy who operates in the security of relationship and acceptance to the extent that he has no expectation of being left out of mature dialogue. Perspective.

We need divine perspective these days. We need to see all life as valuable no matter the quality, the race, or the age. We need to yield our rational minds and live in the abandonment of child-like faith. We need to look up, beyond the disarray of this human experience and set our eyes on a kingdom that has no end, a kingdom whose ways transcend natural comprehension.

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Free Book Day

Hi friends,

I just want to let you know that two of our books are free today on Amazon for anyone that uses Kindle for e-reading.

Feel free to send this email along to anyone you think might be interested!

Doug's book: "I Was Framed!" Signed God is the first of a three book series that takes readers through many of the hard questions in Christianity. 

Reader Review: I've always wanted to read a book like this one, and this one hit right on the mark. There were so many necessary truths about God that had been buried in my heart under a mountain of pain and disappointment, and this book reminded me of those truths. I encourage you to put on your detective cap and journey through some questions you may have asked in the secret place of your heart.

Tina's book: "Abba's Lament" was inspired by a family bible study. This fictional account of heavenly events before the creation of the Earth portray God the Father's emotions when one of his chief angels succumbed to the poison of sin.

Reader Review: If you are familiar with the Bible's story of the fall, prepare to see scripture pieced together like never before. Webb brings the reader on a journey to the beginning of time where the untold story of Jesus and Lucifer unfolds. With rich scenery, powerful moments, and heart-wrenching dialogue, Webb's writing is clear and concise but knocks you off your feet. Her ability to succinctly describe the most epic moment in history with such grace is key in one of my favorite quotes:
"Silently, a longing filled his being. Deep within the belly of his being, the first dissonant chord whispered." I just finished, but I am already eager to read it again!

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Writing Nest

If you have borne, adopted or fostered children then you understand “nesting”, the almost insatiable need to organize, clean, secure and make the home ready for a new family member. I remember the nesting instinct hitting me quite strong before I had my third child. I’d been 4 centimeters dilated and uncomfortable for 3 weeks and by week 37.5 my doctor gave the okay to do whatever it was that I was inclined to do. I yielded to recommendations and purchased castor oil and orange juice.

But before drinking my dose, I had to wash baby clothes, clean our small three bedroom apartment and set up the baby bed. Doug still worked roughly 90 hours per week at that time and I praise God for a good friend who would pick up my 2 ½ and 5 year old for a few hours.

I got a phone call a couple of days before I had scheduled myself to induce. It was my mom. “I’m going to paint all of your walls for you so that they are nice and clean by the time you get home from the hospital.”

My ferocious nesting drive turned off and all was right in the world.

Although I am done having children now, I am in a type of nesting season. Our house was unsuccessfully on the market for four years so last January we decided to investigate renovating. We desperately needed an additional bedroom so that our newest two children didn’t have to share a bedroom with us!

As I turn my head and look out of the French doors of our great room, I see the faithful workers finishing up the last stages of a very extensive home renovation: a 2nd deck. You can read more about this renovation on my personal blog:

My nesting-like desire was in force last night. I attempted to hang pictures, to paint old trim, to prepare a DIY wall hanging, and to declutter the music room so that my castor oil induced daughter can set her drum set up again. After living in tempered chaos for four months, I want everything to be in place and done as quickly as possible.

Can you guess what I’m looking forward to? Well, besides a wonderful spa-like master bathroom and a larger kitchen, I’m looking forward to sitting outside on our top deck in the cool of the morning and letting the inspiration of God meet my pen.

I look forward to sitting in one of my new UVa orange Adirondack chair, gazing at the stars in the night sky and letting God whisper into my heart. As an introvert, I need these quiet spaces to recharge my soul and invigorate my creativity.

In a few weeks, after our end-of-year basketball team party, the completion of our home renovation and my son’s college graduation, I’ll be able to buckle down again and continue my journey as a writer.

Until then, time to paint my son’s room.

Please visit my page, Ages and Stages, to find out about my current work in progress.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

What really matters?

My Unedited Journal, March 1

Recently, while driving to an appointment, one of my older kids and I were discussing the roots of anger. The crux of our discussion centered on household pet peeves. The “little things” that people did or didn’t do in regards to our house “rules” had formed a mountain of angst that had begun to affect my child’s demeanor and tone of voice.

After asking some open-ended questions and listening to the answers, I remembered a phrase that had helped me overcome my own frequent bouts of frustration and aggravation.

Why does it matter?

Years ago I’d realized that I too was majoring on the little things when it came to house “rules” and this focus was affecting my peace and more importantly my relationships with various members of my family. 

Why did it really matter if someone left their towel on the floor again?
Why did it really matter if someone forgot to do a chore, spilled milk again, or put the carton of juice back in the refrigerator when it only had an ounce left?

In the grand scheme of things, these pet peeves were….petty.

I explained to this child that my angst had to do with inconvenience. I didn’t want to be inconvenienced by another person’s lack of attentiveness to our house “rules”.

But life happens and inconveniences will never go away.

Life isn’t fair and frankly, as a teenager I learned that the idea of fairness is an allusion.

I explained to my child that what began to matter more than the inconvenient habits of family members was my relationship with those same family members.

I was responsible for my attitude towards them just as Jesus is responsible for his attitude towards the law-breaker. The Bible says that Jesus did not come to condemn them, but to invite them into empowering and life-giving relationship with Him.

I shared that the more I focused on God’s love for me, the more I cared about the little things that I did that hindered my relationship with Him. No matter what I did, big or little, God never withdrew from me. It’s like in the Garden of Eden. Although Adam hid in his sin, God the Father came to find him.  God always pursues us even when we break His house “rules”.

So now, no matter what infringement to the orderliness of the household, no matter how many times someone forgets the “simple” requests that I make, no matter how many times they leave their bedroom light on all day, I make sure that any quick frustration that comes up is dissipated by my desire to keep peace and harmony flowing between me and the offender. This doesn’t mean that the offender doesn’t get a consequence. For example, I have a mason jar in which my kids have to put a dollar if I find their bedroom light on for more than 30 minutes when they are sitting somewhere else in the house. With a big family, our electric bill can get sky high! This has proven to be a successful deterrent. I am no longer angry or aggravated when I address the particular child. I simply remind them of the consequence.

When the cup of water spills on the table for the second day in a row due to a younger child’s carelessness, I take a breath, remember their age, and remind myself that I am still training them to be aware and careful. The inconvenient timing of the spill should not determine my demeanor and interaction with them. With every infraction, I want to model God, who continues to pursue our hearts with kindness, even when consequences (like giving them a paper towel and showing them how to wipe up their mess) must be meted out.

Peter denied Jesus three times. Yet Jesus pursued Peter in his shame not to accuse him or berate him, but to affirm and reestablish him as his disciple. Maintaining relationship is what matters to Jesus.