Since I have already shared some of our pics from Orlando in earlier posts I thought you might enjoy some snapshots of our time in Seattle, Tacoma and Gig Harbor. I really think this part of the country is pretty close to heaven on earth!
One of the main highlights of our month for me was seeing United at Team Church '07. That concert was one of those transcendent experiences you remember your whole life. And it wasn't just the concert, it was the time that we got to spend hearing the members of United talk about their music and their heart for worship and justice that made this a memorable experience.
I freely admit that I am a United junkie. I have loved their music since I heard my first United CD, and if I were a twenty-one year old, I think I would just travel the world going to all of their concerts! (In fact, it is quite possible that I have a crush on Joel Houston! He's like a modern day David. He's really tall, he has a ruddy complexion and he's pretty cute to look upon, if a middle-ish-aged preacher's wife may observe. Add in his deeply moving song lyrics, and all I can say is "Ahhh!" I have always had a thing for musicians-Chris was a drummer when we fell in love. I told Chris that if I were a teenaged girl I think I'd have his poster on my wall!) Okay, back to reality now...
I came away from their sessions during the conference deeply impressed with the spiritual maturity of these young men and women-their naked hunger for God and His presence, and their undeniable commitment to seek justice for the poor and downtrodden. There was a passion and a driving purpose in these young people that I have not seen even in career ministers of the gospel! And to hear their hearts and then to go see them in action, using their phenomenal talents for the glory of God and seeing hundreds of youth worshipping with abandon after waiting in line for hours to get in to the venue was truly a life-changing experience.
Not only did I enjoy this from a music and worship standpoint-their example has spurred me on to work on discover what I am passionate about in this world and to find a way to do it! Motherhood and ministry remain the things I care most deeply about, but I also believe that there is a unique purpose within me and over the next few months I intend to search for it. During our sabbatical I was challenged to come up with an action plan of things to do to keep burnout and fatigue from reoccurring once we came back, and this is one of the items on my plan. I plan to spend more time exploring things outside of my normal realm of church and home, such as the great museums and galleries in our metro area, and maybe even take a class or two at the community college. So we'll see what develops from there!
After that it was on to Nemo and Talking with Crush. They were as amazing as we had expected! And, since we are not fish (who are "friends, NOT FOOD!") Bruce the shark obligingly ate us for a photo op:
Then we headed over to Germany in the World Showcase, where Chris obligingly ate a bratwurst with sauerkraut!
We left around 2 pm, once the heat was really getting miserable, but we are heading back tonight for some of the Magic Kingdom once it's cooler.
Our view from the patio:
Miss Sunshine State:
We're off in a bit to explore the resort. It has a boat ride across the lake, an activity center and three different pool areas! Tomorrow we hit Disney, and I can't wait to see it through Carissa's eyes!
We stopped for lunch at a fantastic place called the Tides Tavern. It sits right on the waterfront, and also happens to have the best fish and chips you've ever wrapped your lips around. During our meal, I begrudgingly got up from the amazing view to run to the ladies room, when "Surprise! Surprise!" (to quote Gomer Pyle) THIS is what I found:I wanted to sit there all day! As you can see, they even provided a comfy window seat, which you can see but probably not believe in the right hand side of the picture, from which to soak in this magnificent view. Instead of flickering fluorescent lighting and the sound of flushing toilets, there was a flood of natural light and the sound of the seagulls outside. It just goes to show you that you never know what you'll find behind each ladies room swinging door!
This week was not the best week of the challenge so far. I was extremely sick from Saturday to Monday and it's pretty hard to honor anybody when your insides feel like a hurricane has hit them! Poor Chris had to take on full-time toddler, maid and dinner duties, all while prepping for his sermon on Sunday (which, incidentally, was about wives submitting to their husbands!!) I did try to thank him for all of his extra work, and not notice the things he didn't do like I would have.
I have observed some difficulties that are unique to having a "ministry marriage" during the last two weeks. We had one arise Sunday afternoon. Chris came home very upset from church because a petty dispute had been brought to his attention. He was angry and heartsick over the fact that such a minor issue was distracting us from focusing on reaching people. He was questioning whether he should give in on this minor point, because it really wasn't a big deal and as he said, it just wasn't a hill he was ready to die on. When he told me about all of this, I got mad. The fact that it wasn't a big deal and these few people were still willing to complain and refuse to submit to authority indicated a character issue to me, and I felt that, as such, it should not be catered to or swept under the rug. I was angry at these people and the situation, but not at him; however, the end result of our conversation was that he felt that he hadn't been listened to and that he was unsupported. My reaction brought that church disagreement right over and smack in the middle of our home.
I spent the next few hours, stuck in bed, mulling over the situation and my reaction. One thing God showed me was that, although I was right in defending Chris' pastoral authority, I had not been understanding of his pastoral responsibility. He was looking at the big picture and I was focusing on the little issue. The other thing I was convicted about was that I didn't fulfill my job description. My job as his wife is to provide an emotional outlet for him and try to make our home a haven from all of the difficulties of dealing with people in the church. There might have come a time and place where it would have been appropriate for me to share my opinion with him, but right then he needed a wife, not an opinion. Even while being sick, I could have sought to speak words of encouragement and support instead of arguing my point of view.
I find myself often bringing up situations like this in the church, either cracking jokes about them or spouting off my opinions. I am resolving this week to try and leave this stuff out of our home life. I will try to let my mouth be ruled by Ephesians 4:29 (The Message), "Say only what helps, each word a gift." (Wow, a gift! What if we all imagined each of our words as either a gift wrapped package or a weapon of destruction! That's a powerful word picture!) In fact, in Day Nine of Nancy Leigh DeMoss's 30-Day Encouragement Challenge, she suggests that "if listening is a real problem for you, play a game with yourself. See if you can listen to your husband for one whole day, only speaking when asked a question." Now, I may have to give Chris some advance warning that I'm trying this little experiment, because if this Chatty Cathy gets quiet he may assume I'm giving him the 'silent treatment'!!
So, trying to listen to him more and talk less about church issues are my two goals for the next week. And in making an effort to publicly praise my husband, I am hereby offering him this post as a public, and humble, apology.
Over the course of Nathan's illness, we have been privileged to meet some amazing doctors and surgeons. Some of these doctors have been world-renowned in their particular specialty, and sought-after for their particular expertise. People from all over come to them because this doctor holds their only hope for recovery, due to their unique skill or understanding.
In my devotional reading this morning, I came to see God's work in my life in a different context than usual. I am used to seeing Him as a majestic Creator, a merciful Savior, a loving Father (and even a tender Mother!) But today He revealed his work as the faithful Surgeon.
I was reading in Psalm 139 and Psalm 51. A powerful metaphor emerged from these passages. The Psalmist writes "Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts," and in another passage, "O Lord, you have examined my heart..." A skilled surgeon's work in our life always begins with a thorough examination and a battery of testing. These tools in the surgeon's hand give him an accurate picture of the full extent of the damage and the amount of work it will take to fix the problem. He also uses this information to determine if the end result is worth the investment and risk of his work. The surgeon not only gathers data with an exam and tests, he compiles a complete history. In verses 2 through 5 of Psalm 139 we see that this skillful surgeon has taken into account the patient's lifestyle and habits with such thorough understanding that the Psalmist declares, "You know everything about me." The patient humbly declares his complete dependence upon the surgeon's interpretation of this data and his diagnosis for the repair, stating, "Such knowledge...is too great for me to understand!"
We go on to read, "Point out anything that offends you." The patient is inviting the great surgeon to render his diagnosis, and prescribe the necessary surgery to bring wholeness again. We have implicit trust in the surgeon's findings and opinions, because he carries the impressive resume contained in Psalm 139, verses 13 through 16. It turns out that the surgeon was the Creator in the first place, so who better to know how to fix the defect? In fact, the patient has been desperate for the great doctor's attention, ("Do not banish me from your presence" Ps 51:11) because no other surgeon can even perform the operation. And we also trust this physician because his motivation for repairing our brokenness is love, not money or prestige. Verses 17 through 18 tell us of the tender thoughts the surgeon has for us, thinking through the procedure over and over so that he can best repair our damage.
Then the scene changes. The day of surgery has arrived. The great surgeon plunges into the operation. "Create..." "Blot out..." "Make willing..." "Renew..." His brow drips with sweat as he wrestles out the iniquity that is buried deep within us. He is utterly concentrated on his great work. At last he is done, and as the patient wakes from anesthesia he exclaims, "You are still with me," for the great surgeon has stayed right by his side all the way through to the recovery room!
Great Surgeon, possess my heart and body today. Perform your assessment and prescribe the surgery necessary to restore me to your original design. I give myself over willingly, mind and body, to your surgeon's skill and to your tender love for me, to do as you see fit. Amen.
Well, as usual, I am a day late on posting for our Honor Your Husband challenge. This week has had it's good days and bad days. In preparation for this post, I was reflecting back on the week's successes and failures. Then I decided to get it straight from the horse's mouth, so I asked my husband. (Yes, I know it's not honoring to call your husband a horse-it's just a figure of speech!)
Allison: So, you know about the 30-day Honor Your Husband Challenge-thingy I've been doing? What do you think so far?
Chris: I wish it would last longer than 30 days!
Yeah! Hopefully that indicates that he has noticed a difference. He went on to say that he felt I had worked on all of my goals for the first week, and that the goal about making, um, time for him was his favorite! (Go figure...) I asked him what things I should work on for this week, and he said to definitely carry through on the, uh, time one. My new goal, in addition to following through with last week's three, is:
-To try and be more affectionate with him, and if it leads to his favorite goal, then so be it.
I'm excited to see what everyone else's new goals are and how their week went as well.
PS-It was really easy to honor him on Sunday, after he preached a rockin' message about husbands. I highly recommend that you check it out if you have time to listen. Just click on "our church" in the right-hand column and then on 'sermons'. It was the first sermon in his new series, "Desperate Households," and the title was "What Every Desperate Husband Needs to Know."
I especially identify with #2. There is often so much going on behind the scenes that we, as pastor's wives, are aware of but the average person is not. I once had an issue with a church member who had just announced a major change in her life that was taking her away from our congregation. There had been a lot going on behind the scenes in ministry that week and, frankly, I was preoccupied with it that Sunday. Later I heard through the grapevine that she felt my husband and I were 'mad' with her because she left. I called to try and clear the air, and she said, "Well, I just don't feel that you were there for me."
I do wish people would show grace to us when we are dealing with our own personal or professional issues. It is hard not to slip into 'wearing the mask' when it feels like people really don't want us to be real with them. And then, your existance, though busy and crowded with people nearly every single day, becomes a very lonely one indeed! Thanks, Julie, for sharing on this difficult topic!
A friend of mine who has a brother with disabilities commented on my first post regarding mothers with special needs kids by saying, "I have spent many nights as a teenager crying myself to sleep because I was mourning that my little brother would would not be able to have the life I had dreamed of for him." She hit on a fundamental issue of having a loved one who is disabled-mourning the loss of their opportunity for a normal life. When Nathan was born, we were so caught up in believing that God would heal him any day and trying to learn to take care of him, that it was months before this period of mourning set in in my life. No one explained to me for a long time that when you expect and plan for a healthy baby, and your baby is born with disabilities, you mourn the loss of the healthy baby you anticipated and planned for, just as if you had lost a child to death. A wonderful nurse who cared for Nathan right after he was born sent me a card, and in it she included an essay that changed my life and allowed me to finally stop and mourn my loss, so that I could move on to healing. It is entitled, "Welcome to Holland," and was written by Emily Perl Kingsly. It reads:
"I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland."
I still cry every time I read this, because it so perfectly describes the emotions of having a child with disabilites. During our eleven years I have indeed learned to love the tulips, windmills and Rembrants of Holland. And I have now been blessed to live in both "Holland" and "Italy," since the birth of our healthy daughter, Carissa. I have finally been able to experience for myself that both destinations have their pluses and minuses. But I wouldn't trade my time in either place for anything in the world!
My good friend, and fellow ministry wife, Alida let us all in on a fantastic 30 day challenge to practice honoring our husbands a little more consistently. It is being sponsored by Christine over at Fruit in Season, and is based on an article by Nancy Leigh DeMoss that you can access at her ministry website, Revive Our Hearts.
This challenge really resonates with me for several reasons.
One is that, when I am really honest, I have to admit that my darling Chris falls down my priority list quite often. Yes, the other things that crowd the top of the list might be worthwhile distractions (like Nathan's medical needs, or chasing Carissa) but they are never an adequate excuse for failing to obeying God's command in my life to bring honor to my husband-the highest priority behind God himself.
Secondly, this challenge fits well with the work that God has been doing in my life recently (please see my post on "Five for Friday, #5"). As He draws me closer through His word and through His presence, things I need to work out of my life are bubbling up to the surface more frequently-such as a lack of obedience or true agape love for others-giving me the opportunity to work them out with His help. Making the honor of my husband a regular practice and priority fits in with the self discipline I have been trying to practice lately.
Finally, as a pastor's wife, one of the things that frustrates me the most is when others dishonor Chris, either by being disrespectful or by failing to see the depth of his character and love for God. We pastor's wives often have to stand by, exercising patience and self-control, while people malign our husbands either publicly or behind his back, usually because they don't agree with a leadership decision he has made. And I am here to tell you that IT STINKS. In fact, that is my least favorite thing about being a pastor's wife. So I see this challenge as an opportunity to make up for others' dishonoring behavior, and to publicly give honor to the great man that I, the woman who sees his faults and weaknesses more than anyone, know him to be.
First, I should make some goals for honoring my husband this week. So, here are mine:
1. To complain to him less. (Most of the time I use Chris as my 'release valve' for all of my pent-up frustration over Nathan's disabilities or the myriad of annoying things that happen in my life. He SO does not deserve this!)
2. To make time for him-either to talk with him about his work, share ideas from some of the things he is reading, or do some things more regularly that he is usually interested in more than me. (I hope no explanation is needed on the last one!!)
3. To pray for him, with him, so that he hears me, every day.
I came across a poem yesterday by Ruth Bell Graham (I'm rereading them this week!) that captures how I feel about my wonderful husband. In order to kick things off by publicly bringing him honor, I am going to post it here.
"I met you years ago
of all the men
you are my husband now,
and from my home
I turn to look
down the long trail of years
to where I met you first
and I would smile;
...I know you better now:
the odd preferments,
that make you you.
That other me
so far away-
but never knew;
with the closeness of these years,
-Ruth Bell Graham
My darling heart, I love you more now than I could have ever dreamed possible in my dreamy, romantic, idealist young girl's heart that fell for your brooding strength and depth of soul all those years ago! In the interim of time, I have seen the best and worst in you, and you are still the most Godly, loving, supportive, wise, smart and handsome man I have ever known. Your strength holds me fast when my world rocks on it's axis and your friendship is the most beautiful treasure God has given me-even more precious to me than Nathan and Carissa's smiles (and you understand more than anyone how I treasure those!). It is the honor of my life to stand beside you, my very identity wrapped up in you ("she is the pastor's wife..."), given a front row seat for all that God is doing in you and through you during our brief years on this earth. Thank you for cleaning up the kitchen each time I cook, taking Carissa out to let me have quiet time, getting up to let the nurse in so I can sleep a little longer, being transparent about your struggles so that I can find healing for myself without shame, correcting my horrible spelling and feeding me each week as my pastor. I love you!
After watching the broadcast of the memorial service for Ruth, I visited the website of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. I found there a beautiful photo montage of Ruth's life, and heartily recommend viewing it. On the page for memorials, I found that to honor her passing, the BGEA is making available on of her books to the general public at no cost. For those of you who read my previous post, one guess as to which book it is! Yes, my long sought-after "Sitting by my Laughing Fire." I cannot think of a more appropriate occasion for me to acquire it than Ruth's 'graduation' to all that she believed in for her entire life!
In my late 20's, while plundering through odds and ends at a Goodwill store with my mom, I came across some books by Ruth, and thought she might be someone who would have something worthwhile to say. I bought one book, "Legacy of a Pack Rat," and took it home to read. I found myself, over the next few days, nudging Chris late at night and reading entire passages aloud to him from her book. Over the next couple of years I devoured anything and everything I could get my hands on that were written by or about her. I was drawn to her easy writing style, her humour, and her honesty in recounting the struggles of raising her children, so often without the influence of their father. Chris was on the road a lot at this time, ministering as an evangelist, and I remember thinking, "Well, the work of raising her five virtually by herself was probably comparable to the work of taking care of my Nathan, with his myriad of disabilities."
Later on, after reading all of her prose, I discovered her poetry. Never one to be especially fond of the medium, Ruth's poetry moved me deeply. It is often simple, capturing her deep love of nature or the day-to-day life of loving God and family. In my struggle with anxiety, I will often pull my volume of her poetry off my shelf and read a little-it never fails to bring me peace.
In the article about her death, her local pastor, Rev. Richard White, was quoted as saying, "She had the ability to move among presidents and leaders, but then turn right around and clean the oven of a widow." Ruth was always real, and I believe that she was Billy's anchor as God used him on the world stage to bring the gospel to millions. She shared in her writings that Billy would drift into areas of politics that she thought he ought not to move into, and she never hesitated to tell him so.
In this day and age, I am constantly disgusted by big-time ministers or pastors whose ministries become huge and then they leave behind chasing the kingdom to chase the world's standard of success. You know the ones I mean-the ones who live in multi-million dollar condos in Trump tower, or will only stay in six-diamond hotels if they take a speaking engagement. If anyone could have let kingdom success go to his head and make him earthly-minded, it was Billy Graham. Who else has, for generations, been called 'America's pastor'? But Ruth was always there for him to come home to, after rubbing elbows with the movers and shakers or sunburned from the media glare he attracted, full of gentle wisdom and practical sense in their humble cabin far up in the mountains of North Carolina that she built herself. Who knows where he might have wandered if not for the anchor of her candor and utter lack of pretense.
Now that I am a full-time pastor's wife, Ruth serves as a shining example of what I hope to be for my husband-a refuge, an anchor, a faithful steward of his home. Her motherhood and the results of it-five grown children faithfully serving God-serve as an example of what I hope to be as a mother. And her diligent, expository study of God's word and faithful struggle to put it into work in her daily life serve as an example of what it means to be a true disciple of this faith that I hold so dear.
By the way, that day in the Goodwill store there were several of Ruth's books on the bookshelf, but I only picked one to buy because I wasn't sure if I would like her work. In my subsequent collection of her writing, I have been eluded by one particular title which has long been out of print-a book called "Sitting By My Laughing Fire." I have kicked myself for the better part of a decade for not buying every single one of those books when I had the chance that day! (I know I can buy it on amazon, but I am just waiting for the happy day when God lets me come across it sitting on some used bookstore or antique store shelf! It has become my 'holy grail' of books, and I refuse to take the easy way out in finding it!!)
Ruth's degenerative arthritis was the result of an accident in which she fell out of a tree while helping her grandchildren to repair a swing. (No measly tree could stand in the way of this little powerhouse of a woman doing what her loved ones needed doing!) Now that she has finally been given a new body, one free of the pain that had crippled her in the last years of her life, I can just imagine her up there, climbing the tree of life and shaking down fruit for everyone. If there has ever been a person to whom I could easily iimagine God saying, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," it is Ruth Bell Graham.
PS-Here are two of my favorite Ruth quotes, to reward you for reading through this long post. When asked about her views on marriage, Ruth said two very profound things: "If the two of you agree on everything, one of you is unnecessary" and to the question about whether she had ever considered divorce, "Divorce no, murder yes!"
"Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrow? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead's deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead."
As one who has struggled with anxiety, I have come to acknowledge two things. One is that as my knowledge of God increases my anxiety decreases. As a child of God, I cannot become more deeply aquainted with His power and His authority without being comforted in my fear. Paul said, "...for I know Him Whom I have believed and I am [positively] persuaded that He is able to guard and keep that which has been entrusted to me and which I have committed [to Him] until that day." (2 Timothy 1:12, Amplified) As I see Him more fully, as I see the might of His arms, and begin to catch a glimse of the tender, fatherly love with which He watches over me and those I love, my trust in Him grows and my fear lessens. And two, many times the issue of control is at the root of my anxiety. I am desperate to remain in control of what may happen to those I love, all the while seeing how useless my control is because I am so weak. But as I give over control to Him, in whom my weakness is made into strength, my anxiety vanishes like the remnants of a summer storm in the face of the sun.
As one who has often longed to drown the very life out of the cares that hound and harrass me, I have set my face to know God, to plunge myself into His immensity, and allow him to speak peace to the winds of my life. This Mom will be "Musing on the Father" from now on!
I rarely talk about the emotional side of what it is like to have a child with severe disabilities. In fact, the blogging I have done here in MomMusings is the only mention I have made of it, other than talking with Chris-which is one of the main reasons for my blog. I had a discussion with a friend over coffee recently in which we talked about dealing with Nathan's disabilities, and she said, "Well, no one really would know because you guys never really talk about it. You never share with others how difficult it must be!" I find it hard to articulate for two reasons: 1.) I would never want to come across as whining, because having Nathan be my son is one of the highest privileges of my life. He is (in my opinion!) the most amazing boy on the face of planet earth, and I marvel that I get to know him and spend time with him every day!! And 2.) as a good Southern girl, you try to "make nice" all the time. Talking about having a son who is profoundly handicapped, and how that impacts you emotionally is usually a real conversation stopper! It makes others uncomfortable that you hurt and they can't do anything for you, and it just seems to lead to an awkward silence.
But I cannot thank the ladies over at "girltalk" enough for allowing one mother to share her story, so that we all can live vicariously through her! Thank you, Diane, for being so transparent about such private pain and struggle. I can't wait to read the next article in the series!!
Carissa: I'm gonna put all Mommy's stuff back in her purse! (Stated emphatically, as if this is entirely her idea and she knows it's a good one.)
Mommy: That sounds like a good idea.
Carissa: Oh look, a coin! It must be Daddy's!
Mommy: Well, it was in Mommy's purse. Don't you think it might belong to Mommy?
Carissa: No, it's Daddy's. All the coins belong to Daddy.
I am now convinced that brainwashing has been taking place around here during the 12.4 minutes a week that I am out of the house!
Happy Anniversary To Me!
#1. The preceding four blog posts have been sitting in my mental inbox over the last couple of days, but I have not had time to sit at the computer and write them. I'm trying to limit my time at the computer lately, so the last few days have been full of such creative activities as flower arranging and cooking in addition to the usual picking up after the toddler, laundry, picking up after the toddler, medical stuff for Nathan and picking up again after the toddler!
#2. The over-arching reason for this creative renaissance in my life is that God is doing mighty things in my spirit. Many of you may not specifically know that I have struggled over the last few years with depression and anxiety. It had gotten to the point where I was spending many days in my pjs in front of the tv all day long. (The tv is great when you have depression or anxiety, because they pretty much solve any kind of crisis in either a half-hour or an hour!) Last Sunday during our altar service, a young lady in our congregation with a beautiful spirit began to pray for me after I had been ministering to others and spontaneously began to pray for deliverance from depression and anxiety. There is no way she could have known about those struggles in my life. During her prayer, I physically felt God doing 'surgery' on my emotions, pulling out long-rooted growth of strongholds and hurts. In the days since, I feel as if I am beginning to live again for the first time. I am so hungry for God and His word that I can't get enough. I want to spend so much time in fellowship with Him that I've been prone to let things go around here-a good thing for a woman hung up on getting things done in every spare moment. I have been reading even more vociferously than usual-and here's the true sign of MAJOR change-anything non-fiction I can get my hands on! I feel like a wide-eyed kid who has discovered that the world is full of things to learn about. I am moving on a journey for which I don't know the specific destination, but I really don't care because the scenery is fascinating to me, and I'm just happy to be moving at all!
I was reading in Ephesians yesterday. I love that book-it's so upbeat and useful! I got to the beginning of chapter 5, and read, "Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us, and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." That last bit about the pleasing aroma stopped me. I'm all about wanting to be pleasing to God, so I began to wonder, "What aroma is pleasing to God, and how can I smell like that?"
Now when I think about pleasing aromas, the perfume counter at Macy's comes to my mind. All of those pretty bottles and a scent for every mood and occasion, none of which I will be likely to afford any time soon. But since the word sacrifice was used in the previous sentence, I don't really think expensive perfume is what we are talking about here. [Yes, I know the story about the woman with the alabaster box, but I'm making a point here!] Sacrifice in the OT usually meant the burning of animal flesh on an open fire. Basically, a big bbq pit. It didn't take the greatest theological scholar to figure out the symbolism of burning flesh with fire to atone for iniquity and to move closer to holiness in God.
I sat there thinking about all of this, and being the foodie that I am, I began to imagine summertime in the evening, when all of our neighbors open up those grills and the neighborhood begins to smell intoxicating! You drive down the street with your car window open and say (to quote Carmen, old school), "Give me som' o' dat!!" Since I truly believe that the love of food and the bountiful , beautiful ingredients God has given us to use indicate that He might be a foodie too, I think I have hit upon this mysterious aroma! Think about it-when you smell that smell you begin to salivate in anticipation of what is to come. I'm going to seek to have such an aroma in my life. I'm gonna gleefully set ablaze my fleshly desires so that the aroma that is given off will draw others in, in anticipation and excitement of what God is doing in my life and what He can do in theirs. I'm gonna have a BBQ for God!
Okay, if you haven't figured it out yet, I looooove to cook! I get excited over a perfectly ripe tomato like other women drool over diamonds. So after my ecstatic preparation of homemade spaghetti with meatballs (see Five for Friday #2) I had all of this beautiful basil left sitting in my kitchen window, begging to be used. Here's what I came up with-it makes a perfect summertime breakfast!
1 plum tomato, diced
4 basil leaves, rolled together and sliced into slivers
drizzle extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 tbsp. of water
3 tbsp. or so of shredded cheese, whatever kind you have on hand
2 slices of soft Italian bread
Dice the tomato in a large dice and combine with the shredded basil. Add kosher salt & freshly ground pepper to taste and drizzle combo with evoo. Stir to combine and set aside.
Season eggs with salt & pepper. Lightly beat eggs with water until foamy. Melt a pat of unsalted butter in pan and scramble eggs gently, making sure they don't become too hard. When they are almost done to your desired firmness, sprinkle the cheese over the top, remove from heat and allow cheese to melt.
Lightly toast two slices of bread (you can spread them with a little butter to soften). Lay a slice of toasted bread on plate, cover with the eggs with cheese, and top with the tomato and basil mixture!
All I can say is, "YUMMM!"
Need I mention that it turned out spectacular!! Chris did his best "What About Bob?" impression, groaning in pleasure with each bite. Since I was using my God-given talents in an expression of praise to God, I'm pretty sure I was having church there in that kitchen with the music and the simmering pots! I am positive that it was one of the best worship experiences of my life!!
Now I must add that, all of my life, my mother has been famous for forgetting something in the microwave whenever she makes a big meal. We will have eaten and be cleaning up the kitchen, and open the microwave to reveal the corn or beans or whatever that she got so busy she just left there! Well, I am my mamma's daughter! When I started my meatballs, I lovingly sauteed the finely minced onions and garlic in the beautiful, green olive oil. The concoction was too hot to put directly into the meat mixture, so I stuck it in the freezer to cool for a minute. Guess what greeted me the next morning?? I just about cried!
I helped to clean out a storage room at church this week that was full of old flower arrangements. I poached these red ranunculus (???ranunculii, ranunculuses???) and greenery from the trash, and reworked them to make a new arrangement for my dining room table, which I was sorely needing!! I think it turned out rather well for someone with no experience at this sort of thing!!
But God spoke something to my heart that knocked my socks off-He told me that He created my weakness! It didn't catch Him by surprise. He put it there. He isn't shocked, or disgusted, or offended by it. WOW!
I spend so much time trying to make up for that weakness, by trying to plan for every eventuality that might happen in our life. Or by trying to cover up the failings in me that makes me so very imperfect, unlovable, unusable. Like Adam, sowing up those fig-leaf board shorts. But we are wasting so much effort on trying to hide or cover up for an ingredient that the designer deliberately chose for the creation. Before He ever made you or I, He wrote in His word that His strength is made perfect, or complete, or finished, in our weakness. (2 Cor 12:9) John writes that "nothing-not one thing!-came into being without him." (John 1:3, the Message) Even my weakness! It's like the baking powder that the baker deliberately pulls out of the cupboard and puts into the bread, because He knows it is a necessary ingredient for the bread to rise even higher.
I must let this anxiety over the things I am too weak to control in the future, or the shame over the inherent weakness of this flesh I am presently living in GO! I sense that in embracing that weakness, I will open it up for God to more freely show His strength, and that is what I desperately long for.
Today was Challenge Day for Special Olympics at Nathan's school. He competed along with his classmates in the Beach Volleyball event! I was so proud of him. They had adapted a huge slingshot to launch the volleyball over the net so that each student could "serve." Nathan served twice and returned the volley back over the net several times.
I am always so overhelmed by the community support for our Special Olympics day. To see the outpouring of support and the look of pride on the kids' faces brings me to tears every year. Of course, I have to hide those tears, because nothing embarrases a ten-year old boy more than a weepy mother!
I'm tremendously proud of my guy, but in a way I'm proud of us too. It is mindblowing to realize that a child like Nathan, on full life-support can even go to school every day, much less participate in an event like this. So, just this once, I want to say,
"YEAH!!!!, McMILLAN FAMILY!!"
1. LIFE IS ALL ABOUT CHOICES. . . The whole thing boils down to each little choice I make. Every day we make millions of choices, large or small, either by design or by default. If I choose to eat bonbons and ice cream for breakfast each day I'm going to look like Jabba The Hut. If I focus on the dust in my house all day long and choose not to spend time with God my spirit will suffer even though my house might look great. If we can come to the place where we are aware of these choices before we make them we would all lead much more disciplined lives.
2. . . . SO CHOOSE THE THINGS THAT ARE OF ETERNAL VALUE. The dust will always be there. Your kid's toys will always be where they are not supposed to be. So what. Have I cultivated any fruit of the spirit today? Have I spent time making an eternal investment into my childrens' character by spending a little time with them that doesn't involve nagging?
3. THERE ARE QUESTIONS WE MAY NEVER KNOW THE ANSWERS TO. "Why?" is a black hole that you may never come out of. Sometimes we just have to give up on the why, and focus on the now. Many say that all of our questions will be answered one day when we are in heaven, but I personally think that I will be so happy and fulfilled there that I will no longer wonder.
4. YOU ARE THE ONLY 'YOU' THERE WILL EVER BE. This one's a two-parter. A.) Celebrate, love and embrace the unique things that God has placed in you. Become comfortable in your own skin and practice being yourself as often as possible. B.) No matter how worthy your other roles in life may be, never let them eclipse knowing and taking care of yourself. Don't get lost in your other job titles. There are plenty of Moms, Pastor's Wives, Accountants, etc., but there is only one soul who can be you.
5. YOUR 'MOTHER'S INSTINCT' IS ALWAYS RIGHT. If you're reading my blog, it's a safe bet that you're a girl. You may or may not be a mom yet, but even if you're not you will probably become one some day. That gut instinct is a gift from God and you should always listen to it. I have experienced this over and over in caring for my son for ten years. Many times that instinct may have been what saved his life. Listen to it and don't apologize for it!
6. THE GOLDEN RULE IS A PRETTY SAYING. No, I'm not suggesting you quit being considerate. But I've learned first hand that you can be as sweet as a Georgia peach and someone will still be mean to you. The world is full of mean people, and many of them go to a church! But if you keep your eyes on God, and practice showing the mercy that He has so freely given to each of us, you will not be so disappointed in those around you.
7. THIS LIFE JUST WON'T WORK WITHOUT GOD. You may think you have managed to find real happiness without him, but you have fooled yourself. He is the sole purpose for which we exist.
Well, there you have it. I am going to make a copy of this so that in ten years I can look back and have a good laugh at my "wisdom"!! Thanks, Crickl and als, for giving me the opportunity to reflect on this. (And as for tagging seven others, all of the bloggers I know were in the same tag list that Crickl made except for one, so I tag my husband. Chris-"You're It!!!!")
I slept as late as I wanted and never worried about how late I got into bed. I brushed my hair and my teeth everyday.
Before I was a Mom -
I cleaned my house each day. I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby. I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous. I never thought about immunizations.
Before I was a Mom -
I had never been puked on - Pooped on - Spit on - Chewed on, or Peed on. I had complete control of my mind and My thoughts. I slept all night.
Before I was a Mom -
I never held down a screaming child so that doctors could do tests...or give shots. I never looked into teary eyes and cried. I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin. I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.
Before I was a Mom -
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put it down. I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt. I never knew that something so small could affect my life
so much. I never knew that I could love someone so much. I never knew I would love being a Mom.
Before I was a Mom -
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body. I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby. I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child. I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important.
Before I was a Mom -
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay. I had never known The warmth, The joy, The love, The heartache, The wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom. I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much before I was a Mom.
I tell people often that Mother's Day is my favorite holiday. They always smile and nod, the kind of smile which seems to say, "Aw, that's sweet." But I have yet to find a way to communicate how passionately I feel about being a mother.
I am a highly educated, intelligent woman who could have chosen just about any career path and been successful at it. But motherhood is the job that my heart has always aspired to. It hasn't been what I thought it would be-it's been more difficult than I could have ever imagined, but more wonderful than I ever dared to dream. Being a great mom is the main driving passion in my life. Jacqueline Kennedy said, "If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." That pretty much sums up my life's philosophy in a nutshell.
So I will cherish this entire weekend. (Mother's Day has already started for me-Nathan brought me home a flower that he planted himself, along with a beautiful card!) I pray that every mother out there will feel as loved, honored and fulfilled as I do!
When you were a child, which crayon color was your favorite? Any color, as long as it was really sharp! I always lusted after the big 64-color pack with the built-in sharpener!
On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest), how likely would you be to change jobs if it required you to move? 3. Nathan's care and proximity to specialists would make it very difficult to leave here. Plus, we really feel called by God to reach this area.
Take all the numbers in your birthday and your phone number and add them up, one by one. What’s the total? 64
Have you ever “re-gifted” anything? If so, what was it and who did you pass it on to? In order to not incriminate myself, I plead the Fifth Amendment.
Name something you need from the store. GROCERIES. I can't wait for the day when I have a teenager in the house that I can send to the store!
Well, I know it's Saturday, but here's my Friday Feast:
When you travel, which mode of transportation do you prefer? Even with all of the head-achy restrictions lately, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE TO FLY!! There's something about seeing the world from that high up that puts life into perspective! And you can't beat the speed of getting from point A to point B.
Have you ever met a blogging friend in person? No, but I have two or three that I would be honored to get to meet in person.
When was the last time you were really, really tired? Last Sunday I spent the entire day cleaning my house from top to bottom because we were leaving for the week the next morning and a good friend was coming to stay with the kids. My imagination of her saying, "Yuck! This house is a mess!" all week drove me to scrub and mop and vacuum quite furiously. I fell into bed around 1 am, completely exhausted.
If you could have dinner with any one fictional character from a book or movie, who would it be? Well, my answer involves an entire town instead of one character...If given the chance I would not only dine with, but move permanently to the tiny town of Mitford, the setting for Jan Karon's Mitford Series. These books revolve around the main character of Father Tim, an Episcopalian priest, and the kooky, eccentric and entirely lovable citizens of Mitford. Having grown up in a small town, I understand that there really are people like this in every small town!
Fill in the blank: One day, I hope to see _my son walk and talk and run_.
What was one of the fashion fads when you were a teenager? Big hair and wearing your jeans tightly rolled at the ankle. Unfortunately, I wore both looks on a regular basis.
Name one thing you think people assume about you when they first meet you. That I am quiet and reserved!!!! (at least twelve people just spit on their monitor screen while reading this!)
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how hard do you work? You've got to be kidding-I can only put a 10?! I am a mom, after all!!
If you were given a free 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl to sell anything you currently own, what would you advertise? The unfailing, all-encompassing, never-ending love of God.
Fill in the blank: I love to __bake__ when it is __snowing___. I have no idea why!!
If you could take lessons to learn any musical instrument, which would you want to learn? I guess the piano. Isn't every pastor's wife supposed to play the piano?! Seriously, it would have made Chris's life a lot more simple on many occasions (like every Sunday at our church-plant first pastorate) if I could have at least played the keyboard for worship. BTW, it's my little brother's fault that I don't play the piano. I was taking lessons from our pianist when my mom was at work as the church secretary, but when she got pregnant with my little brother she quit, and poof!, there went my piano lessons! Thanks a lot, Jamey!
Have you ever mistaken a person for someone else? No, but to my dismay I have called people the wrong name more times than I care to remember!
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets? I'd say an 8 or a 9. As a pastor's wife you are privy to many personal, intimate details of people's lives and it is crucial to keep those to yourself. But I always have to tell my hubby anything I keep secret from everyone else!
What's the closest you've ever been to a dangerous animal? Do angry church members count? No? You sure? Some of them sure act like dangerous animals... Well, then, I'd have to say the zoo.
When was the last time you lost your patience? I think I lost it for about a week, last week! I finally found it under some quiet time, which I had long misplaced as well!
Tell me, if you know so much.
5 Who determined its dimensions
and stretched out the surveying line?
6 What supports its foundations,
and who laid its cornerstone
7 as the morning stars sang together
and all the angels[a] shouted for joy? Job 38:4-7(NLT)
When my house is really dirty and needs a good, top-to-bottom cleaning (Oh, quit acting shocked! You know yours gets that way too sometimes!) I get out the cleaning supplies, load them all in a bucket, and put on my grungy sweats. The final supply that I need doesn't have a bald guy's picture on it or smell like mountain mist scent-it's music. Loud, energetic, pumping music! I pop a CD into the stereo or put the satellite on the 80's channel, roll up my sleeves and get to work!
Even when I was a kid, we always listened to music when it came time for that once-a-week, marathon cleaning that most working mothers know all about. Somehow that music made the work seem less daunting, less grubby. It inspired us and got us moving (except for the summer when my dad's favorite work music included "Let's all go down to Dumas Walker", but that's another subject!)
I was reading Job this week and discovered that God likes to do his heavy lifting to music too! Who knew?! But there's one major difference between my Saturday morning play list and God's. It seems that when the Almighty, Omnipotent Creator Of The Universe rolled up his sleeves to measure the breadth of the heavens or sweep the mighty oceans into their borders to make way for dry land, He decided to put on The Singing Morning Stars and The Angels. (Sound like some girl group from the 50's, don't they?) Wow, that sure makes my DC Talk or 80's oldies-but-goodies seem paltry in comparison!
I love it when I come across these little snippets of scripture that make God a little more touchable, a little more 'relate-able', a little more human. Now, that's not blasphemy, because scripture says that we were created in His image. As humans we are a reflection of
Him, and some of His attributes are stamped upon us all, so God must be a little 'human' somewhere in there!
So the next time I'm scrubbing my tub to the strains of Jesus Freak, I'm gonna smile and look up and imagine my Daddy God's foot tapping up there on the footstool of the earth, nodding His head along and thinking "Good song choice! Where's My 409?"
What comes to mind when you see the color orange?
Nathan's favorite color is orange, and he and Chris both look particularly handsome in it! (Which is logical, since Nate is a carbon copy of his Daddy, both inside and out!)
Did you ever get in trouble while you were in school? If so, what was it for?
In the 7th grade, we moved to a bigger city and I started a new school. The one new girl I met talked me into skipping school with her, only I didn't know that she had already missed so much school that she was on the truancy officer's list, so I got busted by the truancy officer on my first offense! I cried in the truancy officer's backseat all the way to the school, and that girl just laughed at me. I was so upset in the principal's office over disappointing my Daddy that he (the principal) felt sorry for me and I never had to go to in-school suspension.
Which topping(s) make up your perfect pizza?
The Mediterranean at Krazy's Pizza in Wilmington, NC. Thin crust, sauce, mozzerella, feta, ham, salami and olives. Yum!
Do you believe in UFOs/aliens/etc.? Why or why not? No. If God loved His creation, man, so much that He was willing to send His only Son to die for them, I don't believe He created any 'seconds' or trial runs out there.
What color is your bedspread/comforter/quilt? Burgandy and gold
(Got Feast? http://fridaysfeast.blogspot.com)
- I once met Richard Petty, the race car driving legend.
- I always leave the library with something.
- I have short arms. No kidding-I have to roll up the sleeves on almost every shirt and sweater I wear.
- I love watching movies in the movie theater.
- I still have my very first teddy bear.
- I have a huge space between my big toe and my second toe.
- A hairdresser once told me that I had the thickest hair he had ever cut.
- When I was a child my mother used to have to take my books away and kick me out of the house to play outdoors.
- I have read by flashlight under my covers.
- I never remember to check the gas gauge.
- I am a lead-foot driver.
- I hate church business meetings.
- I am addicted to cooking shows.
- I get in trouble for not writing transactions in the checkbook.
- I had the highest SAT score in my high school.
- I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 20.
- I used to dance with my Maw-Maw to Lawrence Welk when I spent the night with her on Saturday nights.
- I never drink milk.
- I despise mayonnaise.
- I am passionate about guacamole.
- When I was a child, my nickname was ‘45’ because I could talk 45 miles per hour.
- I once hit my mother with a broom.
- I like to listen to music. Loud. WHAT DID YOU SAY??
- I loathe washing dishes by hand.
- I have been known to carry a vase of flowers from room to room with me so that I enjoy every minute of them.
- I have received roses from
. Yes, that is in Ecuador South America.
- I hate church business meetings.
- I have drunk coffee from the original Starbucks in
. Seattle, Washington
- I was 30 years old when I flew for the first time. My daughter was six months old.
- I know a Secret Service agent and two former NASA scientists, but if I told you more I'd have to kill you.
- I love to send hand-written cards and letters.
- I have ridden in ambulances more times than I can count.
- My only childhood pet was a chocolate lab named Brownie.
- When I got married I only knew how to cook two things-chili and spaghetti. We ate a lot of chili and spaghetti.
- I can make real Beef Bourguignon-and spell it (No, I didn’t use spellcheck)
- I have been through six hurricanes in a six year span.
- I kiss two miracles goodnight every single day.
- I love the poetry of Ruth Bell Graham.
- My picture has been in a newspaper three times in my life.
- I experience terrible stage fright when singing a solo.
- My husband proposed to me in his grandmother’s bedroom.
- I love to watch the sun rise over the ocean.
- When I’m overwhelmed with life I like to stay in my pajamas all day.
- I have touched a dolphin.
- Did I mention that I hate church business meetings?
- I gave birth to two children without ever having a single contraction.
- I like rainy days.
- When I was a little girl I wanted to marry Barry Gibb when I grew up.
- The best birthday gift I ever received was my daughter, who was born on my birthday. The second best was a red leather diary with a lock and key that my Daddy gave me on my 12th birthday. I still have both.
- My favorite teacher was Miss Sullivan, my chorus teacher in high school.
- I adore old family stories, and constantly bug my family members for new ones.
- I own an original Grease LP. If you don’t know what an LP is, you wouldn’t appreciate it anyway!
- I can peel an apple in one, long piece. I learned how from my Maw-Maw.
I made this for Chris after hearing this song today, and thinking about how much joy just being with Carissa brings to him. It turned out so well that I had to share it!
con·so·la·tion (kŏn'sə-lā'shən) n.- One that consoles; a comfort
- ► August (5)
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- The 30 Day Honor Your Husband Challenge
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- Brainwashing Exposed!!!
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- Five for Friday #5: Wow!
- Five for Friday #4: A BBQ for God!
- Five for Friday #3: Summer Breakfast
- Five for Friday #2: Just like my mamma
- Five for Friday #1: Look Ma, All Hands!
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