I'm the crazy singing woman in a red Honda

It's too late and I'm too tired, but after tomorrow I probably will be using all my writing time doing this NaNoWriMo challenge, so I better post now.

I listened to this song over and over and over again on the way to work. I blared it loudly and sang just as loudly with my hand stretched out into the crisp fall air. I paused it at one point and just shouted over and over again, as loud as I could:

For all your goodness I will keep on singing
For all YOUR goodness I will keep on singing
For ALL your goodness I will keep on singing
For all your GOODNESS I will keep on singing...
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

 I'm sure someone saw me and thought I was crazy.  That's ok.  I was arguing with my soul.  I was charging my soul, "Bless the LORD oh my soul!  Bless the Lord!"  I held my hand against my gut and said those words loudly to my LORD in defiance of my wavering soul.  I was saying, "It's because you're good that I'll keep on singing.  Not because I'm good will I keep on singing. Or because people are good.  Not because I'm bad will I stop singing.  Or because people are bad.  But for all YOUR goodness, because you're so good, I will keep on singing."

There is a good God.  He is good.

You're rich in love and you're slow to anger
Your name is great and your heart is kind
For all your goodness i will keep on singing
10,000 reasons for my heart to find
Bless the lord oh my soul -Matt Redman
Quieted,
Sheila

Shining, walking and noveling

I've been thinking about this today.

Do all things without complaining and disputing,  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world... - Philippians 2:14-15


What if I went to work tomorrow and didn't complain, to myself or anyone else, about what I have to do or the parent who has something not-too-nice-to-say about what I do?  What if I didn't grumble about the tedious things I don't like doing as a a nurse (a.k.a documenting every little thing)?  What if I didn't argue with my husband about the things he's wrong about (smile)?  What if I didn't argue with my kids, just said what I meant and meant what I said?

Whether anything else was Christ-like in my life or not, if I simply didn't argue or complain or grumble, would I stand out as someone different?  Would I hold a magnifying glass to our good God?  Would others see some of His goodness in me?

Oh that I would do all things without complaining and disputing and shine for the One who made us all and has loved us so much.

Today I walked with friends from work at a Walk Now for Autism Speaks event in Tempe.  My boys and I walked.  It was inspiring to see so many people there.  I thought of my dear friend, a mom to a charmer of a son with autism.  I love him!  I remember when he was a baby and his mom's heartfelt concern that something more was wrong than just colic or food sensitivities.  I am so glad his mom and dad are such advocates for their children and that he got the therapies he needed to help him get to the amazing fire-cracker genius place he is now! I just love him!  Connor and Ryland were both touched by the bigness of it all.  They asked questions about autism. They asked about their friend from church with autism.  Connor asked if he had autism.  Smile.  I hope they learned something of the importance of helping others and supporting those who need your understanding, love and patience.

I finished writing out a little synopsis of my novel, which I will begin on the 1st.  Yikes!  I'm nervous.  I  had to pick a genre.  I really didn't know which one to pick.  It's fiction, isn't that genre enough?  But alas, there is literary fiction, mainstream fiction, science fiction, romance, historical fiction... you get the picture.  I think mine is a touch fantasy, but mostly mainstream fiction.  It's allegorical.  Here's a hint.  






Quieted,
Sheila

I don't want to miss the point

Finally everyone is in bed and its quiet. I sit to reflect on the day and try to really live it again. The day was full of baseball, cleaning, spending time with the dad and husband who's gone every Saturday, watching the 3rd game in the World Series, feeling really shocked that Detroit hasn't done...anything. And now, as everyone's finally in bed and the house is quiet (minus the washing machine finishing the spin cycle and the distant sounds of the mariachi band playing for the Day of the Dead somewhere in the vicinity) I've got a minute to record some of what I've been meditating on today:

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.  My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. -Psalm 130: 4-6

I used to work nights at a hospital.  Waiting for the morning is waiting for rest.  Finally. With anticipation and longing and fatigue.

I don't work nights anymore, but I'm waiting for rest too.  When I start to get bogged down in the weight of my fallenness, and the fallenness all around me, and get my eyes off the watch for the rest and on the trying to make rest out of the labor I'm in, I tend to loose sight of the point.  The point isn't my iniquities or anyone elses.  The point is the tremendous mercy of the Son.  The Son who I wait for to give me the rest from this struggle to stand.  Who will rise like the dawn one day.  With Him there is forgiveness.  He is my only hope.

In studying Tamar, we marked her iniquity and wondered why the Lord didn't.  Didn't she do something immoral and wrong?  In studying Rahab, we marked her iniquity and wondered why the Lord didn't.  Didn't she lie? We tried to figure out what to do with these women's sins. But the point wasn't their sin.  Who hasn't sinned?  Who hasn't lied? Who hasn't manipulated?  Who hasn't acted or thought immorally?  The point isn't our sin.  If that was the point God marked out on us, none of us would stand.  The point was and is God's mercy.  The point is the greatness of God's forgiveness.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins... But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ--by grace you have been saved-- so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. -Ephesians 2:1,4,5,7

One day, when I stand before Him, it's not the mark of my iniquities that will stand out.  Those will be totally washed out by the immeasurable riches of His grace.  I won't be pointing out the sins I see in others (but am so blind to in myself).  I'll be basking in the warmth of the rest of the mercy and grace that has saved me.

When I look at my sin and the requirements that I fail to meet and begin trying to make those less by doing more I miss the point.  No doubt I fail, daily.  No doubt you do too.  No doubt none of us can say we have no wrong in us.  None of us can say we have hit the mark of God's glory with our lives.  Our hope is not in being iniquity-free.  Our hope is being forgiven.  And with the Lord there is forgiveness.

I sat down to write out the theme and characters for the novel idea I have working in my head.  I don't know.  This will most likely never be read by anyone other than my dear friend who will be kind enough to give it a read and let me know what she thinks in a very kind way.  But, even if it's never read and its a total lemon, I'm excited about it.  So far I have characters and inspiration from A Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life, and The Family Man.  And no, it's not a Christmas-themed novel.  It's a get-a-little-perspective-themed novel.  I think its self-therapy.



Quieted,
Sheila

Better than the bad guys

Sometimes your body is just tired.  At 7:30pm.  You should listen and go to bed.  But you don't.  You stay up watching Verlander do what he hasn't done all season... give away 6 earned runs.  I like him.  He stayed in the duggout with his team.  The team he'd just led into a loss in their first World Series game against the Giants.  Other pitchers usually leave when they're pulled. 

After work today I finally did a workout.  Monday and Tuesday weren't happening.  It was so nice outside and with the World Series starting I decided to just go for a run and do a short workout in the garage.  I ran a mile, did 4 sets of 10 pushups, 10 barbell curls, 10 tricep presses, 10 jumping lunges followed by another mile run.  I'm spent!

I always think of arguments for or passionate defenses of the good news I believe in while I'm running.  It's probably in part the lyrics to the music I'm listening to at the time that inspires me.  Today, and many other days, I've had this argument going thru my head:

God didn't make us to just be better than the bad guys!

I mean people argue that they're good people.  They say they're good because they're better than the bad people they compare themselves to.  I find myself thinking that way too.  But God didn't make us to just be better than rapists and murderers and liars and thieves and child abusers and drug users and gangsters and cheats.  He made us to be reflectors of his goodness! 

The Bible says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  The glory of God.  That's what we fall short of.  That's what we were made to be: glorifyers.  We were made to reveal or make clearer the glory- the weightiness, the actual-ness, the substance, the presence- of God.  Imago Dei.  We were made in the image of God.  We only think we're good because we compare ourselves to those worse than us.  But if we compared ourselves to the One we were made to reveal we would know how not-good, how fallen we really are. 

What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, And You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all [things] under his feet...- Psalms 8:4-6
The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!- Lamentations 5:16
There was only one good Man.  The rest of us are fallen. 



Quieted,
Sheila

A hodge podge of thoughts

Proud man says, "Where is God? What God? There is no God!"

Humble man says, "What is man that You, O God, are mindful of him? And the children of men that you visit them?"

We are so proud.  We think we're so big and smart and the center of the universe.  We think we know it all and if there is anything we don't know we'll explain it when we figure it out.

I like Bill Nye the Science Guy.  But he's a guy.  He's not God.  He's not all knowing.  He's not got the universe figured out.  Yet he says this with such faith.  And that's just it, it's faith.  He builds on what he believes is the unseen foundation of all we see.  He believes the foundation is random, purposeless, meaningless, chance, and change.

At least this lady and this guy are willing to say, "Hey, we don't know everything, but we have faith in the One who does and we choose to believe in the elevating perspective of a Creator creating His creation."  They also build on a foundation they can't see.  Their foundation, and mine, is a loving Creator Who created me for a purpose and the trees for a purpose... and the sun... and the dog... and the humming bird, etc. 

Other tid bits:

I've been working on reading Robinson Crusoe.  It's a very interesting read so far.  I am literary-classics illiterate.  I was supposed to read those in high school.  I didn't.  I skimmed by.  I finished my senior year taking classes at a community college and finally started learning something.  So I'm a little late, but sophomore reading for Mrs. Spicer's class here I come!

I'm 38 and I'm already starting to lament the "good ole days."  Well, not really, there were no good ole days in the 80's for me.  I guess its a matter of standards.

It seems to me personal responsibility is becoming as rare as a man opening the car door for his wife or sitting together at the dinner table as a family.  To suggest personal responsibility is to suggest one take on Mount Everest.  "I can't do that!  You do it for me!"  That's basically what I was told today when I "suggested" (told) a parent that their child was being excluded from school for not supplying the school with state-law-required immunization records.  A two week notice had been given, before that another two-week notice.  A grace period of the entire first quarter was given.  One would think that would be plenty of opportunity to work with to get the required document.  But I was told, "You do it."  "You find a way to get the record... I don't have time."  Wow!  Very sad.

I screwed up this past two weeks.  I was supposed to return a purchase order card I had checked out from the district office before fall break within 48 hours of borrowing it.  It wasn't until I pulled my driver's licence out before boarding a plan to Oregon this past week that I realized I had forgotten to return the card.  When I got back to work yesterday I returned it to the district with my apologies and admission that I had no excuse.  I forgot.  I fully expected some kind of reprimand.  I got none.  I still expect it.  It's my responsibility, I didn't do what I was supposed to do.  That's so freeing.  It's so freeing to confess, accept responsibility and move on.  Letting a bunch of responsibilities go unfulfilled while making a bunch of excuses as to why one can't fulfill their responsibilities and pushing off the responsibility onto someone else is bondage!




Quieted,
Sheila

Just Passin' Through

It's been a full four days.

Thursday morning started in AZ at 3am and ended in OR at 11pm.  Friday I decorated a reception hall with friends of my mom's for her wedding reception and drove with my sister and her family to visit my dad an hour away.  By the time we got back to our homebase at my cousin Billy's house in Grants Pass it was late.  Saturday I was able to visit with my sister, play with my precious nephews, chop my fair share of veggies for the food my cousin worked so hard to make for my mom's wedding reception.  Saturday after the wedding we were all drained I'm sure.  Emotionally and physically.  I went to bed at 10:30 and had to be up at 2am Sunday to head to the airport in Medford.   Apparently the rule about getting to an airport two hours before your flight leaves does not apply in Medford, Oregon.  There were three people sleeping in an empty airport when I arrived at 3:15am.  They finally opened the ticket counter at 4.

I got home around 10am today and thought I'd tough it out and go to bed early, but I only made it for about an hour and had to take a nap.  It helped, but I feel that overly fatigued feeling I felt when I used to work night shift.  Gotta get back on schedule.  Tomorrow is back to school!

I was stretched this trip.  Outside my comfort zone.  I've asked for that though.  I don't want to live by my own strength or by what I can see and explain.  I want to live by the strength of the Lord and by faith.  Building on that foundation laid in Christ.  Running the race set before me.  Looking to the Author of His-Story in me.  And when I'm "outside the camp", where the Rahabs are and the cross is... where things aren't so controlled and understood, I know its not by my adequacy or my sufficiency but Christ's!

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. - Hebrews 13:14




Quieted,
Sheila

Credo...I need to say it some more

I decided to post in the middle of the day today since I'll be gone this evening and beginning tomorrow morning I'll be out of town for the weekend.

Back to work on Monday morning. It's part of the story. It's where He has me. It's part of my stewardship. Oh make me a light that shines in the darkness!

I'm a terrible runner. At least for long distance.  I'm not too bad at sprinting, but make me run more than 200 meters, 400 max, and I'm... Olive Oyl.  I have long legs.  You'd think that would be a strength for running, but for me it only comes in handy when I have to give it my all for a short distance.  When I set out to run a mile or two my long legs start turning themselves into big heavy things I have to drag along.  My shadow looks sort of like an uncoordinated giraffe.

I needed to revisit my credo.  Sometimes you just need to say it out loud.  Or blog it out loud.



I believe there is a Superman and unlike what Lois Lane said, the world does need Him.  I need Him.
I believe that the crumbs of grace still fall from the table.
I believe my life is not my own.
I believe in the pattern shewn.
I believe an entire new creation is coming out of Christ's death and resurrection.
I believe I was bought at a price.
I believe I've been born twice.
I believe in the long obedience in the same direction spoken of here and here.
I believe nothing and no-one can snatch me out of God's hand during my long obedience in the same direction.
I believe I'm being metamorphosed as it says here and here.
I believe evil will be destroyed by good.
I believe in my life for yours.
I believe every offense is a chance to die to myself.
I believe in the resurrection.
I believe if I hold tightly to my life I'll loose it.
I believe if I loose my life for Christ's sake, I'll find it.
I believe life, wisdom and truth are all found in Christ.
I believe life is about God not about me.
I believe Christ will help my unbelief since I am mostly unbelieving.
I believe all my hope lies in the work of Christ on my behalf.
I believe I live what I really believe... and that scares me sometimes.
I believe I hunger and thirst to really live the righteousness I believe in... and therefore I have hope.
I believe mercy triumphs over judgment.
I believe good has a more violent impact on evil than vengeance.
I believe salvation comes by only one man.
If you don't see His ways in me you can hit my brakes and stop my lights too.

Quieted,

Sheila 


Shadows and Mysteries

I was at a county courthouse today. Not a place I usually spend any time. In fact, except for filing for a legal separation almost exactly two years ago today, I'm never there. Today I was there to file a motion to vacate the order of legal separation.

In that quiet, rigid building I felt like a cloud about to pour out its rain.  I didn't cry until I got to the car.  In the building I felt like a little girl following the instructions of a tall police man or principal at school.  I did what I was supposed to do to make it right, legally.  While I was waiting in line, I overheard a silver-headed woman say with a smile to the silver-headed man sitting next her, "Now's your chance to back out."  I figured they must be there to get a marriage license.  A few minutes later, when they were called to the window, I heard the woman say, "Yes, we're here to get a marriage license." The man next to her looked eager and content.

I believe marriage is a mystery and a shadow that speaks of more than two people in love.  In fact, I believe all human relationships are not about the people involved... they are about God.  They reveal something about the One who created them.  The marriage relationship is about God in a very special way in that it reveals the mysterious relationship God the Son has with His Called-Out-Ones.

What we do at the courthouse is a way of honoring marriage.  Its not something we can just... do.  There's an appeal to authority involved.  In some places that's the county courthouse, in some places its the patriarch of the family, or a tribe leader.  If there's an end to be made to the marriage, there's a difficult process involved.  I'm glad there is a heavy fee and a lot of legal paperwork involved in separation and divorce. I don't say that to pour salt in the wounds of divorce or separation.  I have those wounds.  I'm just saying, the fact that its legally a hassle and costly is just a little bit of evidence that marriages aren't meant to be torn apart.  Because that's just what happens... you get torn apart.

I wish I could take back the past 3 years.  I'm so eternally thankful I can have full confidence that Christ has already bought it back for me.  For He works ALL things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, that He might conform us to the image of His Son.  (Romans 8:28-29 my paraphrase)

Marriage is His.  I want to magnify Him with it!  I may not get to keep it, but on my part I want to build it up for His glory.

So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. -Matthew 19:6

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.- Ephesians 5:32-33
The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. -Proverbs 14:1


Quieted,
Sheila

Planting trees and a road trip wish

One of the advantages of school nursing is the schedule. I get to be home every evening. I never work weekends or holidays. I get two week vacations in the fall, winter and spring, and a two month break in the summer. But every time I have one of these long breaks I enjoy so much being available to my family, cooking meals, planning ahead, going to the kids' school to help out or just eat lunch... just being un-hurried and relaxed, rather than spent, when everyone comes home. And it makes me think maybe a part time hospital job would be better.  Then I'd be home 3 or 4 days every week.  But then I'm sure when the kids' fall break came, and I had to put them in a summer camp for three days a week while worked, or when I had to work a 12 hour night shift on Christmas Eve I'd be kicking myself wondering why I left my awesome schedule as a school nurse. 

By the grace of God, I still consider myself a homemaker, even though I have a full-time job.  I still make a home.  I still build a family.

She rises up as morning breaks  
She moves among these rooms alone  
Before we wake  
And her heart is so full; it overflows 
She waters us with love and the children grow
So many years from now  

Long after we are gone 
These trees will spread their branches out  
And bless the dawn  
These trees will spread their branches out 
And bless someone
- Planting Trees by Andrew Peterson


Today I actually went to a class at the gym.  The cooler mornings and evenings have been so nice, I've been doing my exercise outside at the local park.  But this morning, since I was able to drop the kids off at school and have the day to myself, I went to the Barbell Strength class.  I'm pooped.  Jogging, lunging and push-ups in the park by myself doesn't push me nearly as hard as a woman yelling at me with a microphone on to do 7 more cleans. 

I finished off the Rahab study today.  Digging into the Bible never fails to be an adventure.
 
I want to go on a vacation touring the restaurants featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives!  We've already been to three in the Phoenix Metro area.  This place in Gilbert (get the Ahi Tuna Sandwich), this place in Glendale, and this place in Phoenix.  All delish!

Not much to say tonight. 




Sunday Stories

I heard this story the other day on the radio about a woman who was boarding a plane:

A woman was in a hurry to get to her plane from the airport shop she was in, so she grabbed a bag of cookies and a magazine, hurried to her gate and got to her seat.  

Once the plane was in the air she pulled out her magazine and reached for one of her cookies in the magazine pouch in front of her.  A second later, the man sitting next to her reached forward and grabbed a cookie out of the same bag.  The woman was shocked and looked at him with dismay, wondering at the audacity of this perfect stranger eating her cookies without so much as asking.  She reached forward, looking straight at him the entire time as though to say, "These are mine!", and took two cookies.  Immediately the man reached forward, took the last cookie, split it in half and offered half to her.  She couldn't believe it.  She yanked the cookie out of his hand, shaking her head at him.  She sat silently the rest of the flight, stewing inside about this rude stranger who ate her cookies.  

When the plane landed, she got up and dusted the cookie crumbs off her shirt, grabbed her purse to leave, and noticed her bag of cookies, unopened in her purse.  She was mortified!  She looked at the man who smiled humorously at her and said, "Have a nice day!"  She had eaten HIS bag of cookies thinking the entire time that she had the right to be angry with the man.  And he had graciously let her eat his cookies.

I really don't know what's going on.  I think I know.  In fact, I'm insensed sometimes because I'm quite certain the other person is flat wrong.  But in reality I am probably missing something.  I might even be the one in the wrong.  Therefore I can lighten up and show the same mercy to the one I'm convinced is doing me wrong as I want them to give me when it turns out I've been the one doing the wrong.

Marriage is a good place to put this into practice.  Its so easy (in some marriages its easier than others) to get fixated on the other person's violations.  Especially the ones that seem to be stealing your cookies... or sleep, or money, or whatever.  Even when there's been a serious offense, one has to consider that there are two people in the relationship. 

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. -Proverbs 18:17

My boys head back to school tomorrow.  Fall break is over.  Its a fast track to Christmas.  Ryland finished his book report today.  He did a really good job of fleshing out the report from his bare bones sentences with a few probing questions from his mom to get him thinking.  Asking good questions is a skill I'm learning.  I told him he needs can start thinking of those questions himself when asked to speak or write about a story he's read.

I'm excited about this NaNoWriMo challenge.  I have all these character ideas coming to mind and story titles.  I'm looking forward to seeing what I come up with.  Real life is full of interesting characters.  And when you get to know people, they have a story.  God's written some very interesting stories. The lists of names in the Bible, salutations to folks we'd skim right over if we could pronounce their names, point to some very inspiring account if you dig into them.   I've personally (foolishly) always wished my story was boring.  Not novel material.  But, drawing from some of the more strange or dramatic times in my life and history,  I might be able to come up with a novel or two.

You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. - Psalm 139:16

I came home from church to find dog vomit on the carpet.  Well, at least the house will smell like freshly cleaned carpets when my husband gets home today.  Sigh.  Smile.


 As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.- Proverbs 26:11


Quieted,
Sheila

Praying dumbfoundedly

You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek."  - Psalm 27 

 I think the necessity of nursing babies and folding laundry (two things that require- if you want to do it right- undivided attention) are holy prayer places.  When I had nursing babies I was required to stop, sit, be still and do nothing.  Oh I could attempt (and did many times) to do other things while feeding my babies, but I regret that I hurried through and attempted to multitask during such a sacred time.  When I did actually stop, sit, be still and do nothing but feed my baby I found I had a face to face opportunity with my LORD.  When I took advantage of it, I was more accomplished than any other time I tried to squeeze in a T.V. show or pick up around the house with one empty hand.

Laundry is my house of prayer now.  When the laundry comes out of the dryer there is really nothing else you can do (if you don't want a bunch of wrinkled clothes) but fold, hang-up and put away.  Today, folding laundry that still, small voice said, "Seek my face."  And my heart responded with longing. 

I believe things many people think are foolish.  I believe there is a God-Man, Savior of the World.  I believe He absorbed all the judgment of the Father God against sin and is therefore the only reason I can open my mouth, call out to the Living God and know I am accepted and heard... even desired.  I believe the God-Man died and carried to the grave all the sin-nature of the sons of Adam and their individual wrongs with Him.  I believe I died there... as a son of Adam.   I believe the God-Man did things in spiritual places I don't fully understand when He committed His Spirit into the Father's hands.  I believe the God-Man was resurrected with a new body as the New Man, and the quickening of the Spirit of the Living God in me is a deposit guaranteeing I am being, and will some day fully be, made a new man as a child of the New Man.

I believe these crazy things.  I can't explain them very well.  I know them, like a woman knows she's pregnant... the baby moves inside her.  I am intimate with them and they change the way I live, but they exceed my understanding.

Praying is, for me, one of the most beyond-understanding things about the relationship I have with God I hope in. 

I came across this quote the other day in Dumbfounded Praying by Harold Best:

Master, they say that when I seem
    To be in speech with you,
Since you make no replies, it’s all a dream
  – One talker aping two.
They are half right, but not as they
   Imagine; rather, I
Seek in myself the things I meant to say,
   And lo! the wells are dry.
Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
   The Listener’s role, and through
My dead lips breathe and into utterance wake
   The thoughts I never knew.
And thus you neither need reply
   Nor can; thus, while we seem
Two talking, thou art One forever, and I
   No dreamer, but thy dream.
                       – C.S. Lewis, 1964


 I opened my mouth while folding not-so-white white wash cloths today and out of my dead lips came the thoughts I never knew.  Deep calls to deep.  I poured out my lack of understanding.  I repeated and muttered and sighed and declared my need for help with my unbelief and I knew my wells were dry.  I hungered and thirsted.  I sought.  I waited.  I was so relieved.  I was assured that I could never loose Him, nor would He loose me.  I was instructed I should only look to His work.  If I begin to look at my own, I'll sink.  I was reminded I grow in the same grace that saved me.  I was assured.  I was comforted.  Courage was put in.  Doubt was poured out.  My head was lifted as I bowed it low.



Quieted,
Sheila

Book report day

What a day. A Husband out of town day. A 3rd grader book report day.  A PERFECT Phoenix-area fall weather day!  Its a tease though.  I wish it would stay that way.  Next week it supposed to be in the mid 90's again.  I'm ready for sweaters, and spice candles, and pumpkin spice lattes. 

I googled pumpkin spice latte recipes this morning and found this.  I modified it to this:

1 c. whole milk
1 T. canned pumpkin
1 T. honey
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. strong brewed coffee
a dash of ground cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon

Heat milk, pumpkin, honey, vanilla and spices in a saucepan over med. high heat until steamy.  Wisking constantly.  Pour into mug.  Add coffee to mug.  Top with whip cream if you want to.  I didn't have any but it was still delicious!

I like book reports.  When my kids have to do them I always have to try really hard not to take over and do it for them.  Ryland's doing a really good job considering this is not his forte.  If only he could do a math report instead.  As much as I don't comprehend his affinity for math, even more I don't comprehend his disdain of retelling a story.  How can you not love retelling a story?  At least this book report, he gets to make a mobile with the characters he drew from the book.  The actual "report" part is only writing a brief description of each character.  So far he's got, "So and so was a boy."  And " So and so was the science teacher."  We'll have to work on details later.  He's got the skeleton. 

When you have to sit down and write out or talk out a retelling of what you read or learned it really makes it come alive!  At least it does for me.

This is why I write, or blog, or email, or talk.  I live it in the second-living.  The writing.  Today, I second-lived via talking it out with a dear friend I haven't seen in  year.  I am witness to the amazing grace and work of God in my friend and her husband!  And she was such an encouragement to me as she listened to me and could really say she knew exactly what I was talking about.  Apparently I've  been a hose through which water has poured.  A spout where blessings have flowed out.  A Living Water fountain.  Oh amazing grace how can it be?!  Today she was the spout and the hose and the fountain!  Thank you Lord!  Let me be a blessing. 

I got a good portion of my Rahab study done while the boy worked on his book report.   The way of God is amazing!

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."- Matthew 9:11-13

Try to retell the One True Story.  Try to retell God's mercy and grace.  I'm dumbfounded.

"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."- John 7:38




Quieted,
Sheila

Oh happy day!

Came back from my morning walk and had this song pop in my head.  Nothing like a little Aretha singing the good news to wake you up right!


I took the boys to West Fork Trail today, north of Sedona.  It was a beautiful day!  Fall leaves.  Lots of color.  Cool breeze.  Good day!










After all that hiking in the dirt, I came home with the most disgusting, dirty feet.  (I was wearing sandals.)  I gave 'em a good scrub and besides being swollen (the curse of varicose veins and poor peripheral circulation in my family), their good as new now. 

I had to stop at the laver today on the way home and get my spiritual feet washed.  Walking thru my days, beautiful as some have been, has left me dirty. 

Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean... When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you?" - John 13:10,12

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. - 1 John 1:9




Quieted,
Sheila

All I know is, I once was blind and now I see.- The blind man










A few weeks ago one of the students I care for said, "You know I don't really like Halloween cause of all the scarry stuff.  Scarring people is just rude!"  I couldn't agree more.  I'm a Halloween scrooge.  As much as I think its fun to dress up in costumes and carve pumpkins and eat candy, I can't get past all the violent images.  In my opinion Halloween should be called Horrorween.  That being said, there is a place for some good humored spookyness.  The boys were cracking me up this year putting so much effort into carving their pumpkins.  I put their works of art on the patio and just two days later they look like Horrorween material, all moldy and wilted.  Its too warm in the valley in October to put carved pumpkins on the patio. 



Ryland won the lottery to take home the terrarium/aquarium they made in his third grade class.

I can't believe those mosquito fish are still living in that brown water!  Ryland is taking very good care of them.

I try to explain things too much.  I've been trying to hard to explain some things in the Rahab study.  I stepped back from it today.  I don't have answers to a lot of questions, all I know is, like the bind man Christ healed, I was blind to the mercy and grace of God, but now I see.  Rahab probably couldn't explain the reasons why either.  I'm sure she didn't think she earned or deserved her rescue.  I'm sure she lived her life in response to the rescue from destruction she escaped because of the mercy and grace of God.

My good friend did this novel-writing challenge last year.  She did a great job.  This year's challenge is coming in November and she's challenged her writing friends to join her and write their own novel.  I took her up on it.  I have no idea where I'll manage to squeeze in the time to write a novel.  But I have all kinds of ideas for what I'd write about. 
 
Historical fiction:  1800’s romance
Modern fiction:  Logger’s daughter
Modern fiction: Cries in a field (my mom’s story retold)
Fantasy/Inspirational fiction: Ezer and the Dragon (from a poem I wrote a long time ago)
Mystery fiction:  Married to the Detective

All of these ideas would come out of life experience except the 1800's romance. 

I'm going to give it a go.



Quieted,
Sheila

I love the smell of freshly baked bread

I need to expand my vocabulary. "Yummy", "cool", "weird", "beautiful", and "awesome" are used way too often. I get tired of editing myself for the multiple use of the same words. Texting is NOT helping. I really don't know all the texting abbreviations, but I'm starting to find myself wanting to write a colon followed by a right-end parentheses (it just took me about 30 seconds to recall what that smile is called... sheesh!) in places where I would express a smile or happy emotion. This has got to change!

I took my boys, and a friend of my youngest, to an indoor play place.  It's guaranteed hours of play without many interruptions.  Smile.  They sweat and smile and chase each other through gigantic tree houses.  And I get hours of time to read or, as in today's case, work on preparing for an upcoming Bible study.

I thought Tamar would give me a run for my money trying to put that study together.  But as it turned out I had so many pages of gathered treasure from that study I had to seriously cut it down to keep it a women's Bible study length.  Rahab, on the other hand, is proving more difficult than I thought.

I've heard Bible teachers say meditating on what the Bible says is like a cow chewing her cud.  She chews, her stomachs process what she's chewed, she regurgitates and chews some more.  I like the baking analogy better. Studying the Bible is a kneading, setting aside to rise, kneading some more, rising more, process.  I read through the passage several times.  Make some notes.  Walk away.  Then later, while I'm driving, or at the gym, or getting ready for bed, thoughts that smell like freshly baked bread waft through my head.  Hopefully I remember them when I get to place where I can write them down.

Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.- John 6:35

My sister had a second surgery on her wrist today.  The first was to put a plate and pins on her seriously fractured radius.   Apparently the surgeon measured wrong and now there's an 8mm difference in the length of her radius on her fractured arm compared to the other. An error of 8mm in bone length at a joint is a big problem, according to the surgeon, and is the reason she has less than 25% range of motion in that wrist.  This has had such a huge impact on her.  She was doing a Crossfit workout when it happened and now, with the poor range of motion and a follow up surgery, she has been unable to do what she loves- Crossfit!  She would tell you the Lord changed her from the inside out.  And He used some of His people at her local gym to encourage her along the way.  I know this is a vicissitude ( A new word.  Smile.) for her.  And the same Lord who began a good work in her will be faithful to complete it.  But in the vicissitude it just plain sucks.  It hurts, its hard, you can't see ahead or explain why.  You just want out.  Our assurance is that this too will pass and He's working it all for good for us who love Him.  I'm glad my mom and the people at her gym and her husband are all there for her during this.  I wish I could be too.

Rahab's story brings up the issue of faith and works.  Is it faith or is it works that saves?  I'm glad the Bible gives a real answer rather than a nice, neatly packaged explanation.  It's not an answer we like to hear.  It makes sense, its truth, its total grace, complete mercy, but its not an instant credit in eternity answer.

Everyone is in a hurry... They want me to help them fill out the form that will get them instant credit (in eternity). -  From Perseverance: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson
We all live what we believe. We know it to be true.  Our lazy, selfish nature takes hold gladly of the instant credit answer.  But the faith that saves, works.  The faith itself is a gift of God, not from us.  We can't boast.  Our response to the gift is the evidence that it was received.

But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe--and shudder! - James 2:18-19

 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.- Ephesians 2:8-10

Quieted,
Sheila

Summed up thoughts on a Sunday


We went to The Mystery Castle in Phoenix today.  Take 7th street as far south as you can go, take a right and you're there.  There's a fee to get in, but I think its worth it.  The man who built that place must have been a bit odd, but definitely interesting and innovative.  I wouldn't want to live there, but it was a really intriguing place.  My dad and grandfather would LOVE it!  They too are self-made masons.



I made homemade meatballs this afternoon. A top pick among the homemade foods in this house. Served over spaghetti squash "noodles" in a simple tomato and basil pasta sauce. Buon Appetito.

I need to delete my food blog.  It's just not going to happen.  To many things I want to do, not enough time- scratch that- not a priority right now.

I have been wanting to post over at My 145:4.   Next post should be: The 6 Days of Creation, but I have an answer to the child-asked-question, "What's a Christ?" in mind.   The blog is turning more into a journal /commentary on the Bible for my boys.  That's fine too.  Not exactly what the title implies.  Maybe I should re-title the blog: A Journal Thru the Bible for My Boys.

I am not a very educated person.  I have an A.A.S.N (associate of applied science in nursing).  The people of Pathway are very educated people.  I love them and I feel very...elementary compared to them when it comes to knowledge in any arena.   I would love to go back to school to get a higher degree in nursing (or a culinary degree) but that too is just not a priority right now.  Maybe one day I can be smarter.  

A lesson or 10 in pedagogy is a priority though.  I don't have a higher education, but I am a student of the Bible and enjoy teaching it to my children, the children at Pathway, anyone who will listen, and most recently in a women's Bible study.  I would like to know better how to teach.  As I'm approaching 40 I think I've figured out what I want to do when I grow up: teach.  Even as a nurse, one of my favorite aspects of nursing is teaching.  I love helping kids, parents and school staff learn health-related things.  But when my knowledge is limited, its hard to teach.  You can't teach what you don't know.  As a nurse, my teaching realm is pretty small.  When it comes to the Bible I may have an opportunity:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong... -1 Corinthians 1:27

I think teaching and cooking are similar.  I like to do both very much.  Neither do I have a formal education in.  When I'm researching something, be it the Bible or a health-related topic, I pull out the ingredients.  When I prepare to teach it to someone else I mix, bake (pray), wait and taste-test. When I deliver a teaching I feel like I'm serving up something good, something palatable though taken from raw ingredients.  Something that will help another grow.

I decided this weekend at practice I'm going to have to become a baseball savvy woman.  I saw Trouble With The Curve a couple weekends ago with my husband.  I'm 100% confident I will never be as savvy as Clint Eastwood's screen daughter in that movie.  But I'm going to have to learn to keep score (which in baseball involves a lot more than just how many runs there are), how to run a line up, how to read where the players go on the field and how to do some basic hitting, fielding and throwing.  I want to be a good backup for the head coach.


Quieted,
Sheila

You never know

In the district I work, nurses have to work late on the Thursday of parent/teacher conference night. So last night I was there until eight, hence no blog post.

You never know what can happen in a day.  Your house could catch fire.  Your grandchild could drown in your pool while you're watching T.V.   You could have a stroke.  You could get hit by a car while riding your bike on the way to school.  I'm not just being a doomsayer here.  Between yesterday afternoon and this morning I found out all of these things happened to people I know. My heart aches for the people involved in all of these situations.  People to pray for.

It's the beginning of fall break for me and the boys.  They get one week, I get two.  Tomorrow is baseball.  Sunday I'm really looking forward to.  And then a week of... He knows.  And I trust Him with it.  I know not what can happen in a day.  I do know the One who will use all that happens in my days to mold me more and more into the image of His Son.  So be it!

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit"--yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.- James 4:13-14

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.- Romans 8:28-29
 
Connor's teacher wrote a few things about him that made me glad despite his struggling grades.  She wrote that he asks good questions and that he accepts responsibility and learns from his mistakes.  Those two statements hold a lot more credit than A's in my book!

My two boys are the odd couple for sure.  One is always moving, one I am always trying to get moving. One is very academic, a good puzzle solver...a thinker.  The other will chase any fast moving object, be quick to hurry through eating or any assignment so he can go chase a fast moving object.  One could easily excel in school. The other will probably always struggle in school.

I obviously want my kids to get good grades, but I don't place the emphasis of my approval on the grade.  I do place it on their willingness to work hard, listen and learn and take responsibility for their choices.  To hear Connor's teacher point out these characteristics in him thrilled me, despite my concern for his grades. I know as long as he keeps asking good questions and is willing to learn from his mistakes, take responsibility and work hard, he'll do just fine.

Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.- Proverbs 13:18




Quieted,
Sheila

Politics, prayer and predictions

I shy away from confrontation. I therefore don't really enjoy politics or debates. I don't say this as an indication of my good character. It's more an indication of my cowardliness and people-approving tendencies. In me is a desire to live, more than speak, my convictions, but I know I need to have the courage of my convictions and speak them when appropriate also. 

I don't put any confidence in politics or politicians. I believe my voice before the King of all kings has much more influence than my voice at the polls.  Not because I'm great, but because He's great.  I can, and do, cast my vote, but when I cast my cares concerning the decisions of those in government on the Lord,  I'm appealing to the only one who can do something about it.

The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. -Proverbs 21:1

I believe the Lord is the only one who can change the hearts of men. So I pray more, and vote also.  I vote because I believe God works in me to live out the righteousness He gives me.  He wants what's right.  He created all things good and right in the beginning.  We ruined it.  He redeems it by Christ.  I am compelled to live out the right ways He desires to see in the world.  So I pray and I vote my conscience.  But I put my hope in the One I appeal to not the one I vote for.

I don't get all wound up in who's saying what and what terrible decision politician A is making. I don't even get overly worried about where we as a country are heading.  I do grieve the tearing down of the foundations of what's right and good. I am sad when I go through my day and hear the breakdown of families, the self-seeking entitlement attitudes that prevail, the violence and the dishonor of human life. I know none of those society-destroying ways will be made right by the next President of the United States.  If one is hoping our society will be rescued by the government or a political ideology one has put their hope in a false Savior. 

There's a Psalm that describes how I feel.

If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?  - Psalm 11:3
If a seven and nine year old's vote after watching a presidential debate and living in a house with a mom who rarely speaks of politics are any predictor, Mitt Romney will be the next President of the United States.  One child reasons: It's only fair for someone else to have a turn.  The other reasons, but God bless him, I can't understand his reasoning.  While trying to discern my trying-to-sound-like-a-grown-up child, I got: He thinks Mr. Romney wants to help people more than Mr. Obama from what he saw on the debate tonight. 

I'm privileged to pray for both men and thankful to know the One who saves.

Quieted,
Sheila

Just because I'm trying to stay in the habit...

Being so tired you don't even want to brush your teeth is probably a good indicator not to write anything publicly. But since I'm trying to stay in the habit of writing, I'm writing.

It was a go from my school, to my kids' school to the asthma and allergy doctor, to the Chic-fil-A drive thru, to the house to change into baseball gear, to the baseball field for back to back baseball practices day. Whew. I'm pooped.

Not a surprise, I managed to forget the picture envelopes for the parent's on my oldest's team. Our pictures are Saturday and since the head coach (my other half) won't be there, I'll be expected to be directing the show. Well not really. The assistant coach will be there and he's been doing a pretty good job of fill-in head coach. Nevertheless I feel responsible as a representative of the head coach to have my stuff together. Tonight I didn't. I did get the snack schedule out though.

This is not the way I like to do life. I like life on a long-walk pace. When the day is jam packed and I find myself irritated at any extra noise I just look up. And thank God for treasures like sleep. I'm glad we get to rest. I read somewhere that sleeping is like a daily dying. We die to today. We wake up to new mercies.

Ryland got poked 72 times on his back today at the asthma and allergy doctor. He took it like a champ even with tears streaming down his face. Turns out he's allergic to the cat he loves, the molds that (according to the doctor) blow into our valley with every monsoon season, palo verde trees, and every grass imaginable. Starting tonight he has a nasal inhaler, a twice daily asthma preventative inhaler, a daily antihistamine, eye drops and a daily nasal wash.

That's all I've got. Oh, and this:

As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!- Psalm 40:17




Quieted,
Sheila

Monday

It makes me smile hearing my 7 and 9 year old sons converse.

They talk about who's doing what with their toy riffles. What ship their building with Legos.  What Montero's batting average is.  How Chris Young swings a bat.  Makes me smile.

Finished up all but one vision and hearing screening today.  Whew.  On tomorrow's list is an audit of my entire school population's immunization records.  We have a new system feature to run mandatory state reports that we've, in the past, had to manually gather data and put together.  Only problem is, the report is only as good as the information entered in the system.  And with no secretary entering immunization records in the system for me, that means I'll be getting very comfortable with my ten key pad and squeezing in as many of those numbers into the system as I can between bug bites (which there have been a lot of lately), nosebleeds, asthma attacks, fevers, sore throats, I-want-to-get-out-of-class stomach aches, daily medications, blood sugar checks, carbohydrate and insulin calculations, calls to parents, calls from parents, calls to teachers, etc.   Should be a full day.

Tomorrow is the last full school day for the kids at my school.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are half days.  Someone I work with today mentioned we only have one more full day and three half days left!  Someone else responded that didn't count since only the kids get to go home early, not us.  To which I responded, it does count because you can get a lot more done without the kids.  All those numbers will get entered when no one's coming in my office every 5 minutes with a nurse-need.  I prefer the kids to the numbers and papers hands-down any day!  But when the no-fun work has to get done, it can get done much more efficiently with just me, itunes and the 10 key pad.

The boys asked me tonight if I get scared when dad's not around.  What if someone breaks into the house? What should we do?  They definitely feel protected when dad is here.  I told them a verse from the Bible that always brings me comfort:

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.- Psalm 4:8
It feels more safe with a man in the house.  But the truth is, the LORD alone is the one who makes me dwell in safety.  Man or no man.

I also told them a trick I use when I'm scared: sing!  Sing a song like this:


Quieted,
Sheila

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