Monday, November 5, 2012

What a Doll!

The sun has set.

The littles are running around Joel underfoot in his shop as he finds his creative "out" for the afternoon.

And I mine.

Been a while.

Sometimes I wonder if I am creative anymore, and worth reading, my corner worth writing about. I don't force things. Especially this. I force enough of my life sad to say, and I want this space to be where I can reach a hand out to a weary Mom and say, I hear you.


And I want to do that when the Lord prompts only.

Not when I have an amazing new soup recipe that you must try or feel like complaining. I am not faulting those who do. I am just saying that that is not what I have designated this space for.

And the lady she tells me, "You should write!" and the husband, sweet lovely husband prods, "You should write!"

But until today I hadn't heard from my Father saying, "You should write!"

And I did and here I am.

Today I am ordering something that I have so desired for my oldest girl.

She has desired it too, but I pretend not to notice and make a big deal when in reality I would eat Ramen Noodles for dinner for a month to make it happen for her.

But THAT'S between you and me.

Not today though. Today I have scrimped and hemmed pants and have even asked for some family donations from gracious Grandparents to bring it to pass at loooong last.

Tonight I order my daughter her first American Girl doll.

And probably her only one too. And that is not a bad thing.

But it is a wonderful thing that this time and place are finally here.

And I sit at the computer and look and plan and almost get teary-eyed at the thought of her seeing it, holding it, opening it on her 12th birthday.

Twelve blessed blessed years to know her.

And I tear as I type now thinking of she who made us all so happy coming into our lives, making us less selfish, able to enjoy pink things, keeping us thinking, praying, praising God for one who is well beyond her years.

An old soul someone has called her.

I think they are right. A sweet soul. One who serves and cleans and gives and gives and has become such a friend to laugh and cry with.

She is my right arm, my encourager to keep going and my reminder of how God loves us so.

Her name was chosen before we were even married. "Abigail."

I carried a card with her name on it in my Bible through my last months of college before becoming a Mrs. No one but us two knew. Knew we longed for a baby girl of our very own. With her father's crooked teeth and my eyes and his heart and my crazy hair.

And just filled to the brim with goodness.

That came from HIM.

And she grew and grew and trusted the Lord and how we rejoiced to know that we can enjoy her at home and now in heaven too. And I just  know she will be there too telling me that the soup wasn't THAT bad at all....

And her 11th birthday is arriving and I want to bless her so.

Who doesn't want to bless their children with goodness just dripping with more goodness upon goodness?

And the catalogue with the torn edges that has been carried from room to room will finally be able to rest on the shelf. Tonight I will rejoice to press a button to order and just wait and giggle and feel lovely knowing that she will feel so loved and special.

And as I was making dinner  and sighing and smiling and thinking about how wonderful it is to bless my girl the Lord came and met me.

Right in the kitchen.

"Don't you know that I desire to bless you too?"

 My hand stopped stirring and my heart pounded.

All of my excitement turned to wondering if the God of the Universe could feel just as I feel towards my daughter,

towards His.

And my heart soared. It literally soared to think of how He loves me. I am counting the ways and giving him thanks and he is sitting in heaven only desiring to give me good gifts. He is smiling and rejoicing over me as if it was my gift on my 12th birthday that He was secretly planning.

And He sings at the thought of us being together in heaven forever, and loves that I have some of his attributes. His eye for beautiful things, his heart for those who need to know him, his hands reaching out to those who need help.

And again I am brought to tears to think of how he loves me. His daughter.

And I have to think hard about it. I know me, my faults and failures and things that would make any person crazy aggravated.

And he reminds me of my daughter's flaws. He sweetly reminds me that I love her anyway forever and always and always.

Why is it hard for me to transfer how I love her to how he loves me?

So hard.

She will receive her doll, and know of our love and I will keep the journal open, counting the ways he showers me with gifts each day that remind me of  His love for me.......

Monday, September 17, 2012

Haven sweet Haven

Hello friends, you faithful friends you!

The Summer is eeking by and the Kids are finally in school and in a new curriculum that makes me want to don an apron, knit and be the homemaker the Lord would have me be.

Yes. It is that good.

We have a new schedule, taking care of Kindergarten in the morning and then schooling the older four after lunch. And I say "we" as in my hubby and I.


Yes it is that wonderful.

We are getting our groove back here in Ohio. For a while there I thought I had left it in New York.

Kids are relaxing, folding clothes, practicing piano, and hiding in the downstairs leggo world while I type.

The house feels more like home.

A month or two ago I did something drastic.

Something totally NOT me, and that has made all the difference here on the home front.

I gave our bed a makeover.

Well, drastic for ME anyhow.

I so missed our old bedroom when we moved here. I missed it's hugeness. I missed how it was a little cave of togetherness for us with adorable wrap around the ceiling book cases to display our love of a good read. I missed that I could shut the door and sew in there, could chat with friends on my bed and feel like we had our own little suite.

The main bedroom here is quite cramped. Or I was plum spoiled.  Probably the latter.

Either way it was the one thing holding me back from going "all in" here.

Yeah, I know. But it was.

No wall hangings, no drapes, no nothing in there. My motivation to settle was just lost somewhere. And then he said it. My he. He told me to do whatever it takes to make it our room again.

And in some melancholy funk I wondered if I ever could.

Could I make it a place again where we could get on our knees for friends and family and cry out to the Lord? Could I make it a sanctuary where we could hide after a long weary day of training littles? Could I make it a place where coffee and tea cups stacked from long nights of laughing about things that were only funny to us?

Well, I guess I could try.

I decided to begin with the bed. We hadn't had a new comforter and sheet set since our lovely blue flowered and checked ones that my Mom bought us as a wedding present. It gave up the ghost after the sixth little made her appearance. I so hated to part with it!!! I have fond memories attached to it. I LOVED coming in the room there on Haywood and realizing that I had a bed set. Straight from the department store. Big deal to me, and more money then I want to acknowledge my sweet Mother spending.....

After Alayna was born, someone gave us a gracious gift card to Walmart and we decided to get a quilt to replace the hole ridden comforter. It was great, but when a man in our congregation in Humphrey decided to drop a new mattress in our lap the quilt could only make an "appearance" on the side of the bed that visitors would see when they entered the room! This also made us try to snatch covers for ourselves in the middle of the night, only to awake with a 50/50 chance of being covered.

I usually lost that war.

So about a week ago I saw this bedding. Delightful actually. I was aghast at it's cost, but I knew that was it. I ran my hand down the sheets and squeezed the pillows and took the plunge.

It had a bed skirt. Something I have wanted for such a long long time. It was another floral, red, and checked on the other side. It was perfect.

Now I am not saying that if you are in a funk go and max out a credit card. I was there with official sanction to make our nest, OUR nest again. Permission was granted without me asking for it. I was not putting my hope of a good life in this bed set, but I did hope for a good night's sleep where all God's children could have equal coverage.

And so I swallowed hard and bumbled to the counter. I buried my "Deer in the headlights" look in a couple of shams and handed them my money..... and left. I attributed the "sucking" sound I heard as I got in the car to the children's college fund begging for mercy.

I got home and hid the whole shebang in the closet until after church, when I could hurry home and make the whole bed, light some candles and surprise Joel with the hope of a new haven for us.

He loved it.

I loved it.

I kept waiting for Better Homes and Gardens to call and ask to photograph us in our bed, but they never did........must be because we still have nothing on the windows.........

The first morning we woke up the first words from Joel were, "HEY! LOOK! We BOTH have covers!" And all God's women said, "Amen."

Again, a new bed set is not the key to happiness or wedded bliss. Though equal coverage does give you a shot in the arm.

For us it was more of a "Ok. We can do this. We can move twice in two years, bury our heart here and find a new spot to hide from the world."

We are anxious to get the kids in there corner of the world  so we can soak into ours at night and remember just what a wonderful life we do share together.

Who knows what craziness is right around the corner for us here in Ohio, but we are getting our groove back. Even if it is one bed at a time.

Sweet dreams friends!

P.S. Wanna see some pics??? :)

Friday, July 20, 2012

HEAD and shoulders, KNEES and TOES

Are you tired of hearing about our move and readjustment yet???

I am also.

Why this move has been so difficult for me particularly I just cannot put my finger on,  frankly.

It just happened to be a pivotal time for me as a Mother and Friend and especially as a Wife.


That all-encompassing word that changes your life and even your view of yourself.

But especially your selfishness.


Joel has flown back to Ohio and taken flight in his new position and responsibilities.

And in the shuffle of finding my spot, even my row of chairs in the auditorium where I feel comfortable, I have felt aloof to the one I am joined at the hip to.

Yes, I am willing to admit that publicly.

It was terrible.

I can handle the rush, the new, the hard and the unexpected as long as his hand is in mine and I am not one step behind him.

One helpless feeling night at church I had given away my very last smile for the evening. I cannot even tell you what the sermon was on, I just knew that I needed to run head--long to the altar. It was a cry for God to see me and meet with me, and it just happened to be as close as I could get to Joel. :)

My heart unloaded all of my worries, my insecurities, my disappointments and the like to my heavenly Father and he met me with one request.

It has been my experience that whenever I have the "List" He swipes it for something singular and tangible. LOVE that.

And this was no exception.

It was a book actually. A book that I had purchased (ahem) years ago and refused to use. It is called "The Husband Project." Three action--packed weeks of non-stop kindness towards you-know-who. When it arrived, I devoured it on a mile walk on the treadmill. Then it happened.

Something. Anything. A hurt, a blight, a disconnect.

And the book made it's way into the bottom dresser drawer and then to a packed box and then to a closet where it sat very peaceably I might add....

Until that Sunday night.

He told me to go and get it.


He could have asked me to start a well in Uganda and I would have smiled and returned to my seat ready to conquer the world. But THIS?

I sighed a loooooong "Really? It has to get worse before it gets better?" sigh.

But I heard. I would obey. Half-heartedly, but I would.

I grabbed an accountability partner at church because I am funny like that, and away we went.

Week one, this and that, bonus projects and me trying to hide this book from Joel. I would smile a "Do you know how lucky you are to have the Holy Spirit commanding me to do this project on you?" smile across the table at dinner while I passed the peas.

Lovely, I know. You can stop right here and hate on me, but you know you have been there......or may be there right now. Read on, you have a safe spot with me friend.

Week two I find myself forgetting where I "HID" the book and that alone makes me want to spit. My sweet friend is learning like myself that self is big, bad and ugly and this is harder than we thought. I did so poorly on week two that I was prompted to do the whole week's projects over again. Prompted could be more likely to be described  as " drug through the mud,"  by my Patient Heavenly Father. In a spiritual sense of course..... I really want to be right, and I want to please Him, and so I grab a chocolate malt from the corner ice cream joint, my hubs favorite,  to take home to him...... and one for myself because, Hey, a little self kindness never hurt anybody......

Week three my self is just refusing to die and I am struggling. I will not comment on how many times the book  landed in the trash and I felt that same prompting to rescue it before a little took out the bedroom trash.

All this and Joel has no idea of my Jekyll and Hyde spiritual struggle going on.

And so I swallow my pride and serve myself another slice of humble pie while preparing his favorite meal. I cannot say for sure but I am of the opinion that in this whole three week process I had the same look on my face as "Cathy" in the Sunday Comics. You know the face....... the hair, the grimace.....

Some projects were fun. Some where really fun. Some were hard, a LOT were hard. Because it took me laying aside what I thought or felt or wanted even in the midst of a million insecurities and focus on him.

MY him. Because THE He knew that it isn't about me.

This is NOT where I end with "And we lived happily ever after..." because I am not perfect. And though sometimes I think he is......he really isn't either.

Two imperfect people living side by side causes conversations between high school friends like, "Why didn't anyone ever tell us that Marriage was SO HARD???!" and even some more "Cathy" faces occasionally.

I need God to work through me, helping me see others as He sees them.

He sees my husband as his precious son. And He just wants to make sure he is loved here on Earth. He met with me at that altar and looked me in the heart and said, "I just want Joel to be loved. Can I trust you with that??? Even if you don't feel like he deserves it?"

And the rotten truth is that I don't deserve it either.

Come and skip ahead a week or two with me to a husband laid-up with crutches, kids covered in mud and mulch, three visitors unexpected, dinner dishes, a new stain on a brand new shirt and the like.....

(Think Cathy, think Cathy.....)

And I am running from getting things for my husband downstairs to the girls in the tub and way too many floating pieces of wood sticking to newly soaped legs and bottoms. I am visitored-out, tired, short, and ready to spank everyone just for good measure.

In the distance I see the cooking magazine and the chair and even a cookie or two or three.... and I am at rest.

Joel has been laid-up for days, weeks really and I am feeling mad that I am doing everything tonight.

Then I am just struck dumb.

He is hobbling over to me.

MY he.

He is carrying a basin of water and a bar of my favorite soap.

I am a cookie covered hot mess.

He takes my foot in his hand and begins to wash it, taking the utmost care to try to replicate a spa treatment. A little sits by him and watches him, and it is almost more than I can take. I am mad at him, and the act of my will humbling is almost making me more mad.

The little asks Joel of all things, why Jesus washed his disciples feet.

Now I am an object lesson!??

He smiles up at me  knowing how uncomfortable I am feeling and begins the story, "Jesus wanted to show the disciples that the greatest among them, the ones he desired to follow him were to be the servants." And the little asks him, "Why did Peter not want his feet washed, Dad?" And Dad tells them that Peter didn't understand what Jesus was trying to illustrate. And Jesus had to explain to him that if he didn't have his feet cleaned he didn't have a part with following Him. The little then remembers that Peter then wanted ALL of him clean, and Joel notes that once we are cleansed from sin, we have no need to be washed again, save our feet.

Our feet symbolize us walking in this world. We will sin, and we will disappoint, and we will need our feet cleansed again and again. We will need daily repentance.

And the little heads to bed and I am humbled and grateful and thankful and amazed that I could struggle for three straight weeks and he can pick up some soap and a towel as if it was nothing.

And we smile and talk about how life is hard right now, but still good.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I left my heart in.......... New York

Hello everyone!

I hope that your Spummer (Spring almost Summer :-) is off to a great start. I have had trips that have taken me to Amish Country,Michigan, and twice to New York and think that I left my heart there that last trip.

Actually I split my heart in two and left it there.

New York that is.

I had the wonderful privilege of attending a Ladies Meeting with two of the greatest besties anyone could hope for.

I drove three hours to meet them and literally picked one off the ground when I hugged them at first sight. Yeah, I love them that much.

Then we hopped in the van where we were given bags that had our initials on them and goodies in them. We sat on the front bench seat because one (which will remain anonymous) has motion sickness issues.

She even brought her own *ahem* barf bag.

Yeah, she's cute like that.

And yeah, I made sure she was on my FAR left.

We were just about sitting on top of all of my craft items that I just had to bring and set up at the free craft bazaar at the Ladies Meeting, and we were almost too squished to enjoy a three hour drive, but we loved every minute of it.

We giggled how our bags made us all feel like we were holding our new school supplies and excited for the first day of school.

The first day of a new school year with your two dear friends.

I had driven as fast as I could to get to them and now that they were right beside me, I felt like I could just die and head directly to heaven. Do not pass "Go" do not collect "200 dollars."

We smiled and hugged and laughed and shared and just LOVED being together.

And in the middle of someone talking I secretly wondered how on earth I had found them, why they loved me and accepted me like they do, and hoped beyond all hope that they would never realize how unlucky they are to have me tag along with them.

And I cried.

I cried because in one years time they have loved me closer to the feet of the Lord than I have ever been.

I cried because the love I have for them just humbles me and reminds me of how if it were not for Christ and his gift to me, this love would not even be known.

I cried because I have moved and these times are too short and too few and far between.

And we spent the night laughing together. That is until when we all went to pray before sleep and I decided to sleep first. :)

We laughed about that too, but you know, I of all people NEVER just FALL asleep. I have never fallen asleep in the middle of something no matter how tired. I am usually up  most of the night especially in a strange place. When I returned home and told Joel what I had happen, he was even in disbelief.

And since that time, I have had time to think about that very moment. I firmly believe that I was so at peace, so contented, so loved and relaxed in sweet friendship that I believe that the Lord allowed me that. It sounds funny I know, but to me it was precious. To be so at ease with these two to feel beyond at home. To feel completely at peace.

And that was just another glimpse of the Lord himself to me. Through them.

And the hours passed and we found ourselves singing together, side by side.

It.was.precious to me.

So precious that I took out my ipod and held it on my lap and recorded us singing.

I just wanted to capture that moment, our voices blending, praising God together.

We ate together and shared hard things, and cried some more, because life is good, but hard and looked into each other's eyes spiritually leaning on the other and reminding ourselves that everything we are going through WILL be redeemed by God.

We cannot fix it, but He will, and is, and will continue to.

The conference ended and I packed my pumpkin butter and headed home with my friends again by my side.

And a wonderful thing happened.

A sweet woman in the van decided to open her heart a bit and let us see how she was struggling.

And with a look at each other, the three of us rallied around her and loved her to the feet of the Lord himself.

It was tag-team exhortation and it was us and God was using us and it was wonderful.

And one quoted this, and another this Biblical principle, and another held her hand and kissed it.

And THIS is why I love them.

Why I cry just typing this, why I still miss them deeply, why I count the days until I see their face again, why they provoke me to godliness and honor and holiness and love.

And we ended the trip huddled together, me crying on a shoulder and each of us in a "you will have to pull us apart" group hug.

But we did part, and I was greeted with the largest coffee someone has ever treated me to, hugged and kissed the cheeks of my bosom friends and got in my car to head another 3 hours home.

But before I did, I left a bit of myself behind.

And think of Jonathan and David.

I think of how they met for the last time.

How they wept over one another.

I marvel at the fact that they didn't have email to secretly keep in touch, or cell phones or Hey wire or even face time to see the smile lines and hear that laugh that makes you laugh each time you hear it.


And I will love these ladies, pray for them, and enjoy them until the Lord takes us all home.

And I pray friends like them for each and every one of you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Holy Longing

Has it really been that long since I have posted on here?

Well if you could jump inside my head (scary though it is) you would see me "posting" several times a day.

If I could only get my brain HERE every few days.

Here where the sheets are nice and cold, the beautiful music playing, the candle lit and the Holy Spirit reminding me of the days events and the goodness of the Lord.

THIS here is not where I am lately.

It is falling in bed after too late of nights and the sound of the traffic and trying to steal my share of covers from you know who.

But he is lovely so I will indulge him some coverage.

If you could get in my head it would take you to Robeks.


Do not pass "Go" do not "Collect two hundred dollars."

And if you have a Robeks you must go.

And if you are like me, you must go VERY often to um.....

WITNESS to the ladies there that make me delicious healthy shakes with extra probiotics and smile and give me more coupons to come back.

Ok witness is a stretch.

And saying that I go often to work on my boldness is a huge stretch.

Let us move on....

There you will find delicious treats made with coconut sugar and no gluten and almond butter and green things that make you feel great that you cannot even pronounce and are hidden beneath 70 percent cacao.

This place has been so lovely and yet has been my only temptation to shop lift in years.

Which is why I do not let myself bring any large purse in.

(do I have to even tell you I jest? :-)

And this place is a longing for me.

A LONGING, friends.

And I envision myself working there telling people the benefits of acai juice and wheat grass and how happy their bodies will feel as I chop fresh colored peppers for their spinach wrap.

And then I go home and almost smother walking past the laundry pile that I said I would get to, find a muddy mess in front of the kitchen sink from someone's last trip to get some water with dirty shoes,  see that the garbage is again overflowing and that no one has remembered that you should at least throw the old toilet paper roll out if you aren't even thinking of getting a new roll.

And standing before the microwave waiting for chicken breasts to thaw,  I can be found in a trance with my lips motioning the word but no sound emitting.


And someone has hit their head on their brothers bat as he was swinging, one ripped her skirt that took me hours to sew for her birthday and before I can process the newest and neediest complaints my hand grabs hold of a dish from the clean dishwasher with food cemented on it.

And I wonder why no one tells you while you are in labor for 15 plus hours that you will one day need those breathing techniques where you sound like a train coming. You will need them when you are NOT pregnant. You will just need them to survive until dinner is over.

If I thought I could sneak back to Robeks unnoticed during dinner I would.

Add a week of these moments and then find me in my room, candle lit, ready to do some stretches on my lovely flowered purple mat before bed at a half way decent time.

That is, I was ready until I sit on it and feel the dirt caked on it from the littles using it in the garage as a magic carpet.


And I grab the homemade cleaner and clean it and realize that I have sprayed so much cleaner on it that it just might dry out the next heat wave that reaches us.


And then it just happens.

I lean forward and just sprawl out right there before he Lord.

And I tell Him I desire Him.

I need Him.

I LONG for Him.

I LONG to see Him as the Psalmest says  in Psalm 63 and it becomes my prayer with my head buried in the floor:

 "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.
Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me."

And it has been a while since I just laid out before Him and waited for Him.

Lord I want to see you like I see you in the "sancturary." I see you magnified and lifted up, and I want to see you that way in my home. I want to see your power and glory at my dinner table and when I am disapointed because I was a mess during family devotions and complained about getting the kids in bed.

I LONG for you.

And I will be satisfied with YOU.

My soul and my flesh LONG for you in a dry and weary land, where no water is.

And it felt so wonderful to lay out before Him and expose all of my fears and weakness and failure and be reminded that there is "no condemnation" with my Lord. He meets with me, loves me and cherishes me no matter how ugly I feel inside and out.

And even when my faith is weak, when I have so many earthly idols I only see Him dimly He remains faithful.

2 Timothy 2:13 "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself."


 How I love this Father of mine. Meeting with all of His children at once, knowing our individual intricacies and faults alike and that after Robeks has come and gone He will still be faithful, still drawing me, still coveting each moment we have together on the bedroom floor alone.

How He scoops me up and shows me how His strength is made perfect in my weakness

2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

At the end of this long day, I want His power to rest upon me.

And I blow out the candle and smile at the prospect of a new day.




Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I like the Simple Life


So I  had the opportunity to speak to some sweet ladies in NY last week.

Yeah I know I kinda just jumped in there without updating you on how we are settling in.

We are. Slowly.

And while I was living life off of the blog, it apparently reinvented itself and I am slow to catch up. I am typing in a new window which I do and do not like.


I was also able to hug on some besties while in NY and just could not persuade their husbands to let me adopt them and bring them home with me for good.

Well there's always next visit.

And I have turned the big 35 since we met last.

Yeah lot of excitement here.

Like "one year closer to Ensure" excitement.

My theme for the year will be "Thirty-five and still alive."

I think it quite catchy personally. And it is more applicable than you may believe on nights when the dog has messed and the kids need baths and I am reaching for yet again one more pound of ground venison wondering if my food would be craved as a last meal for a dying man like Jacob craved Esau's savory meat.

But I am counting my blessings and eliminating sugar from my diet, yes you can actually do both at the same time, and glad to be in the center of God's will.

And this week Joel took me to Amish country for the day, and it was lovely.

And after the umpteenth time seeing a "Live Simply" sign painted on something my mind had finally had enough!

What does that mean anyway, because the last time I checked people loved their smart phones and weren't on a waiting list to turn their front loader in for a ringer washer.

No one was sharing online recipes for 30 ways to eat beans.

Well now that I think of it maybe they are.......

Last I saw, the kindles were still replacing real books and fast food was still making millions. Interestingly enough the people who smile at their "live simply" sign as they was the dishes are the ones keeping KFC in business.

Does "live simply" mean stop adding more friends on facebook, grow your own garden, make your own laundry soap? Does it mean cut back on extracurricular activities for the kids, stay home more, rent from redbox more?

Just makes me plain mad. And saying "plain" mad just makes me feel simpler.


Do you think that the Amish have a "Live Simply" sign in their house? Written in German of course.....

Do you think they just wish they could just keep their clothes together with hand spun twine instead of metal straight pins? Use less hairspray for their buns? Stop buying black high tops?

And when I can stop laughing and control my fingers once again, I will resume typing.........

See what I mean?

One person's "Live Simply" is another man's "Amish."

I don't sweat over the meaning of life, I sweat over the meaning of "Live Simply!"

I think it's a conspiracy to divert us from actually finding JFK's real assassin. (Oh my it is good to be blogging again...... little brain dialogue for ya)

And in trying to "Live Simply" we are caught in yet another go around of the "I need to be more like THAT Mom, Wife, Mother, Friend, etc."

I mean where else do we learn to "Live Simply" if not watching someone else and learning from them?

Yes you may close your laptop and go outside for a scream. And you may even come back if you like. I will be dusting my own "Live Simply" wooden plaque and will not even know.

And today as I muse about living simply the Lord takes my hand and leads me back to Micah 6:8
"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

I love that it is phrased as a question. Kindov like me telling my 2 1/2 year old, "Haven't I told you that if you eat too much candy you won't be hungry when dinner is ready?"

And she, face full of sucker that dripped on her white shirt, nods.

And I nod, because again and again and again and too many more times for me to confess to, I am thinking that I need too much, need to accomplish too much.

And again the "To list," the "Live Simply" wooden plaque is replaced with a post-it sized list of things from He who holds my existence in His hands.

He says: do justly.

Do what is right in every situation, be it kids, hubby, work, dealings with people, financially, everywhere. Do what is right.

He says: love mercy.

Give mercy freely because the merciful will find mercy when they need it. Give it to your kids who disobey you, your husband who hurts your feelings, to your friends who disappoint you and everyone else you come in contact with.

He says: walk humbly.

Walk. He doesn't say kneel humbly, but walk, with shows me that this is ongoing, not a one time fits all of life moment. As you do all things, as you have a relationship with God, be humble. Know who you are and who He is. Know that you can do nothing without Him. Nothing.

So in a nutshell, "Live Simply" simply means, throw out your own set of guidelines, goals and expectations and grab hold of His.

At least that is what I am going to do.

Have a blessed "simple" day friends!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Plain Dealer dealing with me


Why Oh why do we not see the blessing until we are in a dark spot?

It was last Sunday.

Our first Sunday.

Easter Sunday.

And I had shaken hands, smiled and nodded and hoped that the mascara and lipgloss fooled most into thinking I was not as nervous as I really was.

And my Mom and Dad sat behind me.

And my brother and sister in law and their crew, and I was half praying for Joel and half trying to keep the youngest little's tights up every time she slid out of her seat. And yes more than once I got a glimpse of her cheekies while trying to keep her together and yes it made my morning less stressful and goodness knows more hilarious.

Almost as hilarious as my Mom asking my Dad what the "channel" was instead of the page number in the hymnal.

It was then that second youngest little leans and not so quietly asks, "Why is Grandma's face SO RED?"

Yes, these were memories ripe for the picking.

And the meal came and went and the ham was complemented on several occasions and the casserole I swore Mom would like went home with her like I knew it would and I was seeing them at the door and tired but full of happy.

And then as I tidied up the living room scattered with newspapers I saw it.

The Plain Dealer Parade.

The cover stopped me dead in my tracts.

It was close to church time again and I so wanted to drop everything and read about Stephanie Neilsen.

A young Mother who in 2008 suffered a tragic plane accident which took the life of the pilot, burned 40 percent of her husband's body and burned 80 percent of hers.

80 percent.

I came across her blog just after her accident occurred and was just stuck by the terror of the while thing. At the time I was battling with anxiety after the birth of my 5th little and the more I read her blog, the more fretful I became.

I pushed it away, but not without it indelibly making a large mark on my spirit.

I knew she was a Mormon. And I was saddened by that fact.

But I also knew that there were more things to glean from her trial then I could hold in any one lifetime.

I forgot her to my shame and found her again in the Plain Dealer.

On one of my biggest days.

When it was easy to let my priorities get all jumbled up in the new and different and huge and overwhelming.

And I carried that Parade section into church and my husband half thought I was going crazy on him. I carried it and gently laid it on my Bible and in between greetings after church I would sneak reads of it.

The wave of emotion I felt for her came flooding back to me. I found myself lost in the words and almost speed reading it until it had come to a close and I was sad that it had ended.

Her story.

And I sighed and folded it gently and brought it back home.

It sat for a day on the counter and when my husband asked me about it, her story was so real and intense to me it was almost painful to relate. Silly, I thought, seeing I have never really known her.

Or had I?

And then in another day or two I needed to clean the house and there it was. Part of me knew that I should stack it next to the fireplace for our next fire and part of me was in shock at the thought.

When Joel walked by I told him quietly, as if she would hear me, "I can't just throw her back into the fire."

Her life is changed forever. Yet God allowed it.

He knew that millions of people like me, would look at their ordinary lives differently. They would look at giving their children baths differently. They would look at putting make-up on, and dressing to the nine's differently.

They would be different.

And that is what he wants.

He wants to use so many things to change us, get our attention if we would just let Him.

I am changed by her story.

I am humbled by God's goodness.

I am wondering when He will choose to put me in the fire to refine me and make me more like Him so that others can see Him in me and be changed too.

And I run my hands through my hair, over my cheek and wish I could see things beautiful as she does.

Monday, April 9, 2012

From My Home to Yours

“So, are you excited about coming back “home?”

I have lost track of how many times I have heard this question asked of me.

And these days of hoping to walk into the garage and not see any more boxes to unpack have left me exhausted all the way around.


I sit in the van getting ready to head to Youngstown to see the In-laws which by some of our littles has now been affectionately called, “the OTHER Ohio.” J

And if I lean forward and peer out the front dash window before we catch the toll road, I can almost glimpse what used to be a second home to me there in Richfield. So much learning, growing, searching, and even pain and loss all wrapped up in one brick bottom building.


There are no more hills. There are however, many overpasses and even a glimpse of sky rises and the Goodyear Blimp of all things. There are low speed limits and the same roads that carried me to “Cleveland” school and “Columbus” home.


And wonderfully sweet times of leading a friend to the Lord around my dinner table, speeding her on her Christian walk by giving her my beloved Bible from my Grandmother long since gone to heaven, are mingled with the fear of leaving the state for a college no one approved of and getting married and assuming the title of Assistant Pastors Wife.


I remember begging God for a house. Our two bedroom house on Haywood held a lot of love and kids and mess and dirt and mold and surely God wanted to give us good things. And I chuckle as He took us to Mongolia only to bring us to a parsonage that the kids thought was a “mansion,” to here bigger yet, where the shelves in the closet hold all of our clothes leaving two dressers completely empty. He knew we would get to the place where we wanted less of things and more of Him.


And it has taken me 12 years to forget to care about the color of siding and manicured lawns and wall to wall carpet and today on my ride to the “Other Ohio” I say, “God, where is Home?” And He walks with me through my old stomping ground, brushes the tears that have finally begun to fall and prepares for me a table with room enough for He and I, and Psalm 90.

And when we have talked a good while and even sat silent as everyone rushes on, I then speak up and tell Him, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.”

And he smiles because He delights in me. He delights in me because I allow him to lead.

He is my Home.

And the welcome mat at my sweet Mother in Law’s house brings a sigh of delight in the same ole’ same ole’, and I walk in for coffee and a much needed squeeze.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Message in a Brook

Things are changing here in Humphrey.

Boxes are getting taped left and right, people are asking more questions, stopping to catch up,

There are things to pitch , things to clean,

But some things are ever the same, and steady.

One of these wonderful things happens to be my 10 year old.

Though slightly disheveled at first glance, take a walk with her and underneath her crumpled culottes is a well of wisdom far beyond her years.

She asked me to take a walk with her to the brook nearby our house.

Who could resist, I thought, the sun making periodic appearances through the clouds, the wind rustling the trees and…….. the water.

The water is cool and rushing and calls us out of our packing for a walk.

She takes the inside and I the spot closest the road and smile as I think that I would take any hurt and shield her. What a joy she is to have, to love, to teach and most of all to learn from.

And we hop the guardrail and sit on the concrete and just dangle.


We begin to sling some smooth stones in the brook and laugh as one of us who will remain nameless has no.aim.

The stones plop and the water rolls and the wind blows her hair to and fro.

And I listen as she tells me how she loves to come here and catch craw dads.

I sigh and wonder why after such a short time the Lord would move us away from the country.

She then tells me of a story that she read in school.

I am all ears.

It is called “The Song of The Brook,” and it is the story of a young girl who always flees to the brook for comfort and each time she does the brook seems to have a different song for her in it’s rolling.

Once when she was mad as a hornet the brook seemed to chant, “Do not be angry, everything will be alright.” And yet another time she was sad and lonely and it calmed and reassured her again.

The Spirit taps me on the shoulder and I ask her,

“What song do you think our brook is telling us?”

She stares ahead almost searching the unknown and feeling a little lost like I am lately.

I speak up, “I think it is telling us, Everything will be alright, Just trust. “

I watch her face and repeat, “Just trust.”

She nods.

She almost sluffs off my comment and begins to comment on the rushing of the current and tell me how slippery the green moss is in the Spring and how she dispised taking her little sister with her for her walks on the rocks because she slipped and fell more times than not.

She then tells me that she loves the fact that the water just flows. It is willing to just be carried with the current.

“It trusts.” I mumble quietly.

“Yep. It trusts.” She adds.

She proceeds to tell me that the current is like the Master and the water just tumbles over the rocks as the Master wills it.

And it is time to hop the rail and head home.

And I am thankful.

Thankful that I didn’t miss this moment, and the wisdom of a disheveled wavy haired ten year old.

And what God wanted to bless me with today.

And the blessing of the Lord just carried us home.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hide and SEEK

Changes are coming to the Royalty household friends.

BIG changes.

The girls are now wearing white socks and the boys black.

But those are not the changes I am talking about. :-)

They are life changes for our family of eight.

Some are living as if nothing will be different and carry about with their daily activities hardly affected at all.

Some are chatty, wanting to explore all of the possibilities in our future while they are doing the dishes with you, preparing dinner or just about anywhere.

Some are a little nervous and will divulge worries that would make you laugh, but are Oh so real to their little heart.

And some spend most of their time and energy hiding.

And we are not talking about the wee ones in that last group.

We are talking about me.

Do you remember how you would try to find the best hiding place in your yard when all the neighborhood kids would come for Hide and Seek?

Mine was in a bush in our front yard and I was so little and wirery that I would go unnoticed forever if I so chose.

And it wasn’t just a game to me sometimes.

I loved hiding.

In a bush, in a tree that exposed the whole woods by my house when up high enough to scare my mother half to death, or in my closet behind the dresses you are too old and too embarrassed to wear anymore.

It was a cave, a tree house, and sometimes a high rise apartment where I would rent out the nicest branches to my neighbors and younger brother.

But no matter where it was it was always the same.

It was safe and it was quiet.

No t.v. running, no sisters chatting with friends over, no phones to answer and lovely enough no homework either.

I could just think, imagine and sigh big and loud and let out all the day. In my tree I could let my limbs dangle over branches and watch the clouds go by.

I have this thing for escaping.

I must have a little too much “flight” and not enough “fight,” though take my last piece of ginger candy and I will make up for my lack of “fight” right quick.

When the news came I went to God and said, “What now?”

And He, knowing me, sent me to Isaiah.

And there I have hid ever since.

And like Elijah He has fed me with gems like chapter 26:3

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”

But especially with verse 20 of that same chapter:

“Come, my people, enter into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”

I have, um, accepted that offer.

And today as I peeked my head out of the cave, He met with me yet again and soothed a weary soul.

He led me to I Kings 19.

Elijah had just come through a great act of obedience. One that many might not have thought was “God’s will.” He might have been discouraged to go out on a limb like he did. He surely was afraid, but he obeyed.

I read and smile and nod as if I am there, and my story is patterning his.

Elijah then runs and hides. He is just.done.

He obeyed, but now he just wishes that the Lord would just come and take him right on to heaven. After all, he pleads, I am no better than my fathers. Than those who have stood in the gap before me.

He is exhausted mentally and emotionally and physically. He wants to do what is right, but he is plum worn out.

And an angel touches him and has provided food and drink for him. He wakes, eats, and sleeps again only to be woke again to eat and drink . The angel explains why he has touched him again:
“the journey is too great for thee.”


Lord, the man has obeyed. He is tired, and now he must journey? A journey that is too great for him?

It is here that my heart leaps into action and says, “ALRIGHTY….STOP THE PRESSES. No more. Eyes squinted shut, brow crinkled and fists closed tight….. NO MORE. I am now refusing to find any more parallels in this story. Why did you lead me here Lord????

And only by God’s grace he went in the strength of that meat for 40 days and nights.
And at this moment the Holy Spirit is saying, “Have I not sustained you too?” and I nod knowing How sweet He has been to meet me in my every fear.

And as Elijah lodges in a cave at Mount Horeb I am stunned. This man of God hides too.
And The LORD came to him. He met him there in the cave and asked him why he was there.
And He meets me in my cave and asks me why I am there.

And in my minds eye I can see Elijah sitting with his head on one of his hands and Elijah telling him that he feels alone. Like he is the last one to love the Lord enough to step out and obey no matter how hard or crazy the circumstance.

I smile a weak smile. One that says to the LORD, “Yeah, what he said.”

And the LORD listened. He listened to him, just as he listens to me and my heart’s cry.

And I am holding my Bible like a novel I cannot put down and I follow Elijah as he stands upon the Mount as the LORD directs him. And the Lord opens up my spiritual eyes and I am soaking in every single thing He gives me.

“And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD;

but the LORD was not in the wind:

and after the wind an earthquake;

but the LORD was not in the earthquake:

And after the earthquake a fire;

but the LORD was not in the fire;

My eyes begin to well up…

and after the fire a still small voice.”

And when Elijah heard the LORD’s voice he went to hear it. It says that he is again standing in the opening of the cave and the Lord asks him again after this miraculous display of power what he is doing in the cave. Now at the beginning of this act the LORD asks him to “stand upon the mount before the LORD” himself. Now I am not trying to add something that is not there, but it seems to me that Elijah was standing out in the open and then opted for the cave option. :-) And I am there with him!

I smile through tears.

And Elijah still gives him the same speel he did before. He is lonely in this obedience. He loves God, but he is weary.

And the most wonderful thing does NOT happen.

There is no chastening.

There, between the verses, you cannot find a “didn’t you see what I just did?” or a “Come on! Snap out of this! I am in control.”

My heart skips and my smile widens.

God didn’t chide Elijah for feeling alone. For feeling weak. For even wishing he would just go to heaven to be with the one he loves more than life.

He just calmly, lovingly spreads a beautiful plan before him. He tells him what he wants him to do, and what those whom he anoints will do for God and then he adds the final touch.
He tells him that there are still 7,000 people who are still obeying in difficult times.
They are also faithful.

And his plan for us in Humphrey is in the hard spots.

No, no crazy woman is out for my life.


But there are those who may not understand this obedience. Those I love. Even me. And I often feel that the journey is indeed too great, and the need to retreat to my cave.

And today the Lord reminded me yet again that He will meet me in the cave and listen and encourage.

I smile today as my oldest daughter practices for her piano lesson. She has been desperately trying to learn some hymns that I love, hymns by Charles Weigle that just so speak to my heart. She plays and I hum busy in the kitchen.

And it hits me.

She is playing “I Have Found a Hiding Place.”

Though I hide, he will SEEK.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Heart Ache on Valentines

The fire rages here in Humphrey and my mind races.

We have hands-down had the worst, WORST illness-laden Winter in the history of the Joel Royalty family.

Two bouts with stomach flu,

Too many colds to count,

And recount per child.

And even one stint with the Caribbean carpet cleaners.

(That was after the second wave of “I’m-not-gonna-make-it-downstairs stomach virus.”)

And if you know me, I have NEVER had someone come clean my carpet so you have to imagine just how bad it was here.

Ok stop imagining, it is making me feel sick again….

And you know that the devil sets up his mine fields when your back is turned to spray yet another light switch with some horribly foul smelling toxic germ fighting can of something or other.

He works on your mind telling you that you, all eight of you, have some VERY RARE disease that in its LAST STAGES eats your stomach for breakfast.

Even though everyone you know has the same thing.

And in one of these occasions while I was spraying and my mind was wondering, the Lord placed His arm on my shoulder and whispered,

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses……”

I smiled.

“And some in germicides.” I added.

“But we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”

Alright Lord. I get it. You give life, you sustain life, you control everything.

I made peace with the germs.

Which to this post are still enjoying our home and noses and throats.

It’s all good.

And tonight my heart is racing.

You know how you get caught up in yourself, your own stresses?

Last night Joel was trying to show me “Orion’s Belt” pointing over our driveway and all I could think about was me.

I was in a “Who cares about his three -star belt, I want help with the dishes!”

He showed me and I smiled and nodded.

And then today some silly pain in my back has had me all up in arms.

How quickly I vacillate from faith to fear.

Shameful really.

And tonight while I was worrying about little ol’ me, news came of our dear friend’s sister.

She was disabled mentally when she was very young.

She lives in a group home.

And for 6 months now has been picked up everyday by a sweet bus driver and taken to a life skills center.

A bus driver who would carefully take off her hat and reposition her arm so as not to bump it getting her in and out of the bus.

She could not respond, only moan here and there.

And he cared for her.

And we didn’t know until tonight that out of nine busses in the area,

She rides my husband’s bus.

And she is the sister of a friend that means the world to me.

God put her on my husband’s bus because He wanted her to have my husband’s loving care.

And when we all in talking tonight found that out, put two and two together…

We didn’t just cry.

We wept.

Because God is that good.

So lovingly personal.

This sister has been struggling.

In and out of the hospital.

And tomorrow her parents must decide whether it is best for her to struggle or to begin the process of sending her to heaven.

Now let it be known that this is out of my friends hands. It is only in her power to pray and to give her parents sound Biblical advice.

I believe that life comes from God at conception and He carries each of us home.

In HIS time.

My sweet dear friend believes this too.

We left her house after praying sincerely for her and for her parents, and her sister.

And while in my nightly routine of preparing for bed I found my sore spot again and the Spirit moves and says,

“Again with your small pain?”


“And someone close by may not even comprehend that their choice to live, to breathe, to hear, to see, may be gone tomorrow?”

The pain in my back moved to a severe ache in my heart.

Tonight friends, my heart aches with my own selfish pride.

It is good, as Ecclesiastes tells us, to go into the house of mourning.

To mourn for your own spiritual condition.

It doesn’t matter that my life has been turned upside down in more ways than I can share.

It does not matter that I feel spent emotionally and physically.

It does not matter.

What matters is what I am doing with Christ in all of this.

What matters is what He is doing in me in all of this.

I am His child. Redeemed. Loved. My future is settled at the right hand of God the Father, Creator and Sustainer of ALL LIFE.

Why do I fear?

He has given me all things in Christ. He has even given me the “want” to please Him.

Why don’t I access that more?

A learning night for me friends.

Life is not about me.

It is about Him in me.

And He only doeth “Wonderous things”

How much I miss…..