This Where the Nonsense Turns to Makesense

..A large family working to perfect our sweet skills: Loving others, making an impact, parenting on purpose, living simply, and embracing sarcasm.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Funny Old Sayings

I love funny old sayings. One of my most favorite things about my husband is his desire to be that old guy that talks in cliches and funny old sayings. I'm very excited for it, and I am full of fits and giggles when he pulls them out early. I can be talking about how hard something is going to be or how much doubt I have that I can do something, and he will say, "Well that's a turtle on a fence post."


Uh.
What?

My funny saying of the week is "when it rains it pours". Well ain't that the truth? I have been feeling restless and like there is something frantic going on about me, but I have no idea what it is because I missed a memo somewhere along the way. As it turns out I am not the only one. Not by a long shot.

I feel like I am standing in the middle of a road where a marathon is taking place. All the runners are speeding by or limping by or jogging along slow and steady. But I am standing with my arms reached out to no one in particular and I am shouting, "SOMETHING IS WRONG. SOMETHING IS HAPPENING." And I want every to stop and someone to explain it all to me. And then I hear this voice.

"I have you now. Take a step. You don't have to know the trail by heart. Just take a step. I have you now."

That's God. He is saying I am right. Something is wrong. Many somethings are wrong.

Friends from our church had a baby Tuesday morning. He was deprived of oxygen, and as I type they are removing the hypothermic cap from his head to asses the level of brain damage he may have. His kidneys aren't functioning and he is infected.

My pastor and his wife have been waking up with nightmares for two weeks. Screaming, ripped from their sleep because they are sure they are dying nightmares.

One of my besties is experiencing what feels like another round of health issues. This time last year she was inches from death. No kidding. We didn't think she was going to make it through the night.

My husband is losing his job with the Reno Fire Department. Again. And while this feels more like a "fool me twice" moment, it hurts all the same. I look out my window and see a wolf prowling. Pacing back and forth along my sidewalk. 

And I could probably keep searching and write ten pages on what else is wrong. Shoot. We didn't even get into how many starving kids are in my city.

Instead, I am struck with the thoughts of how many things are still so right.

God made and holds that little baby. He was not caught off guard that Matthias was deprived of oxygen. Instead, he holds him in his hands and reminds us that he writes the perfect story. He grew that baby from nothingness.

My pastor and his wife know how this story goes. They have read the end of the book, and they know where the real power lies.

Natalie could have fallen into a freak out depression after everything she experienced. Instead she went and God beautiful and took authority over her health. Even still she is putting her faith in a God who promises good things for her and her life.

And as I was reading through the story of Lazarus, I realized how many truths can be found in the stories we hear all the time and easily dismiss. Here are facts found in Lazarus rising from the dead that apply to my husband's life and job right now. Right here. Today. This two thousand year old story relates perfectly to my home.

It may help to read it first. CLICK to read JOHN 11

John 11:4 Michael losing his job will not end in death. It has happened for the glory of God.
John 11:5 Jesus loves us.
John 11:8 People around us may be doubtful of where and how God leads us.
John 11:12 God sees our situation differently than we do. God doesn't see death as an obstacle.
John 11:14 God can use us, our story, our attitude, and our reaction to help others believe.
John 11:16 We can be like Thomas: all in this together- we can be like Esther: if I die, I die.
John 11:23,24 We should not assume we know what God means when he speaks; we should ask.
John 11:25, 26 Jesus is patient and explains how we need explaining.
John 11:27-29 Once we remember God is who we trust because he is worthy, we are free to obey him and we should do so quickly.
John 11:30-32 God can handle our anger and frustration and doubt.
John 11: 35 He hurts when we hurt.
John 11:37 People will come at us with doubtful theology.
John 11:40-43 There's a chance that, if we allow Jesus to lead our lives and be miraculous, many will believe in him.
John 11:44 Jesus intends to unwrap us from what has been binding us and let us go out.

Amen
Sometimes there is sense in the nonsense.  Hmm. Sounds like another one of my husband's funny sayings.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ask and You Shall Receive

This Friday, and seven Fridays after that, I am getting together with a couple ladies in my house. I've invited them so I have reason to clean. Ha. Ok. Partial truth. I've invited them to coffee talk and mull over some God conversation through a book called Restless. 

I've written about Jennie Allen. She wrote the book Anything. Boy did she mean it. I'm passionate about how she lives. I want to reflect some of it. Same with Flower Patch Farm Girl. These girls look the world in the face and punch it in the junk like ninjas. Like boss ninjas in high heels and skinnies and a plaid scarf. That's the kind of Christian I want to be. (Yah. I'm sure that's a loosely interpreted scripture.) 

The only rule with them is that they have no rules. They love. That's it. That simple, short, life altering word. 

LOVE

And things happen. People's hearts change and God gets seen and heard. Then the people get restless. 

If I asked you to give me one area you would love to jump into and help, what would you say? If you had to pick a way to help others, how would you help? Who would you help? Picture the group. 
How old? 
What gender?
What's the theme? 
Does it seem crazy enough to just work? That's God. Run with it. 

Wanna know mine? 
I want to work at a school, to be opened to girls and boys sent here to America through sex trafficking or other tragic pasts, and I want to teach them English and give them someone to trust and hug them and remind them that they're beautiful and loved by a king. A real. Living king. 

I want to sing with them and stop what I am doing to listen to them recap a funny story. I want to introduce them to that game where you have to get the Oreo from your forehead and Into your mouth because they trust me enough to be vulnerable. I want to high five them down low as they return to their seat after their armpits sweat out during a presentation. I want to leave them notes in their locker reminding them that God has traded the ashes of their once wrecked life for new beauty. And when the memories and emotions of that once broken life creep back in and they want answers, I want to look them full in the face and say, "your story isn't finished. That never should have happened to you, but your story isn't finished." 
I want to cook dinner with them and teach them to throw pasta at the wall. I want to sing with them and shout to the ceiling. I want to pray with them every morning and pray over them every night as I fall asleep. 
Recently I was asked what makes me tick. What's my passion? Where would I reach my hands if my arm could extend anywhere I wanted? Well that is the answer. 
I want to work for Mike Mercer of Compassion First. If you don't know this organization, get to. If you have a dollar a month to spare, send it. If you ever think of Indonesia, pray for them. If you have a daughter, niece, nephew, son, sister, brother, or cousin remember that God's Grace is sufficient. 

Jesus said we don't have because a don't ask. Well, I'm asking. Can I work for Compassion First? Please? Amen. 

So, of you have been feeling restless and stuck in a life that seems busy just for the sake of being busy, meet me at my house for the next few Fridays to go through this book, drink some coffee, and watch a little video. We can and should be doing more for God. People need people. Are you people? I'm people. Let's do this!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Break Ups

 I've spent the week being unpleasantly surprised, perked up and encouraged followed by a swift punch to the gut. 

But isn't that usual? It's always typical after you start to make some headway or God asks something of you, and you say yes. 

I've said yes to about eleven things lately. So naturally fear has attempted to lay claim to my psyche. Let's not even mention my heart, my mental stamina, and my intestines. I'm stressed, and the only good thing that can come of it is my favorite jeans might soon fit me again. Worth it? I think no. 

This weekend, I am fighting back with my thoughts (by speaking God's truth), my actions (by driving to Sacramento and going to a Joyce Meyer convention), and my words (here. With all of you. Just a few of my favorite people). 

Last night, Joyce said she wrote a new book. What's new? That lady pops them out like I popped out babies in the first decade of 2,000. I have yet to read one that isn't great. Keep it up sister. In her latest book, she writes a letter to fear. She pulls a Kevin McCallister and screams at the preverbial furnace and shouts, "Did you hear me!!? I'm NOT afraid anymore!" 

And because recent events have threatened my peace, I'm doin it, too. 

Here goes:
Dear furnace in the basement-er, dear fear,
I wish you were a furnace in my basement. Something I could take a quarter-pipe to and dent forever. I could use an electrical drill on your vital parts. Piece meal you bit by bit until you were disassembled and strewn about the yard for the neighbors to see. But you aren't brave enough for that. 

You parade around in our lives like you have some sort of power, as if you have a say in anything we do. Anything I do. 
You whisper and point and attempt to draw out insecurities. 

But you aren't even brave enough to be an animated or inanimate object. It seems you're more scared of yourself than I am scared of you after all. It's a terrible place to live to be afraid of ones own shadow. 

So, I just thought you should know, I'm breaking up with you. I know. It. Just. Hurts. And not in a good way. (You're sick by the way). But there just isn't room for three of us. I'm not going anywhere, and I've just remembered God isn't going anywhere either. He won't. He can't. He promised. And that's not an empty word to him like it is for some people. 

You haven't the stamina for this road I am on. Remember, you had this road, but you chose the basement. 

Meanwhile, I am out for a pleasure cruise in eel infested waters, and I'm about to take an excursion. I've stepped out of the boat. Before you get too excited, remember I am not alone. I will continue to look in the eye of my maker. The one who loves me more than I love myself most days. 
I sense you're getting agitated. Just relax. You have no authority here. Maybe you'll find someone who is better suited for you. 
But we have to break up. 
It's not me. It's you. 
You suck. 
Most Sincerely, 
The Girl Who's Not Afraid of You Anymore

Today, I reread a passage in Jennie Allen's book Anything. She was quoting a fella she knows, and he was talking about what he would do if he was the devil. Sound scary? Wait till you read it. 
It's called "If I Were The Devil":

If I were the devil, Id tell you what I'd do. I would try to deceive you and get you into error. I would get you off base. And if you still stayed true, I would try to disqualify you. I would get you immoral. I would get you where no one would believe what came out of your mouth. I would make you a tabloid, where nobody would believe you. I would remove your confidence until you were afraid to speak because your life was such a shamble. I would get you into sin. I would prowl like a roaring lion to devour you morally. 
And if I couldn't do that, I would try to make you successful. And I would dristract you if I couldn't disqualify. I would get you busy. I would get you so distracted to the gospel that no longer would your prayers be about holiness and souls. They would only be about the bottom line on your business. 
I would get you materialistic, and no longer concerned about the spiritual nature of life. If I couldn't do that, I would divide you. If I couldn't divide you, a I've almost lost you. You know what I would do then? I'd discourage you. And then if I couldn't discourage you, I'd try death. I would try my best to kill you. That's what I would do to take you out. 

After I read this for the first time, and picked my jaw up off the table, I went through what I can only describe as the seven stages of grief. Only it wasnt grief. It was beside-myself-ness. I was speechless, angry, offended, understanding, and all done being a pawn. Ok, that's only five stages, but the sentiment is the same. 

I'm done with leaving the winner's trophy in victory circle waiting to be collected by its rightful owner. I AM its rightful owner. I'm not sitting around waiting to see what scheme the devil has next. I'm staying the course. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

18 and Counting

No. Not kids. I'll leave that craziness to those Duggars. 
I'm counting years of marriage to this guy. 

We've been together for 20 years. I almost can't fathom that. We have been together longer in our lives than we have been apart. We met when I was 17, and he was dating my best friend. A few answers:
No, she and I are no longer friends (my bad)
Yes, he was totally worth it
And, yes he is still a handsome beast. He's better actually, because now he's more than just a pretty face. 

We went out on the town these last couple days. We packed every minute full of something; my Firefighter doesn't appreciate down time, yet. I'm confident he will come to love naps as much a I do soon. 
But after 18 years I realized a few things. Dates aren't always wild times on the town. I mean, who are we kidding here? There's nothing overly wild about me next to my hairs. I'm a good girl, I am. So it made sense that we began our date with a meeting with the lender. We are trying to buy a house, and it made sense that we should meet. I mean, we had the sitter. Then we got a smog check, went to the bank, went and registered our car and tent trailer, and finally made it to the hotel where I asked if I could take a nap. Mr. No Downtime was against it. I powered through and got into my cute clothes. 
I was a little worried for us. I'm amazed that I still get butterflies about that guy. I think it's actually a plus that I get excited when I hear him pull his jeep into my driveway. And sometimes, even though you know me as the wittiest conversationalist this side of New Hampshire, sometimes I have to think of things to talk about with this guy. I still don't know what he's thinking in there, behind those quiet eyes. 

We talk kids, work, plans, and we reminisce. And then it gets quiet. Not uncomfortable. Just quiet. Maybe we are rubbing off on each other: I will learn that there can be pauses in conversation and he can learn to nap. 

Any way you recap this midweek getaway, it was great. I remember how much I love and want and need this guy. And he takes time to hold my door and hold my hand and sit in the freezing cold so I can watch baseball. 

He's my lobster (Phebe from Friends). We used to be so different. Different families. Different values. Different goals. But we are the same now. 

If you're a bird I'm a bird, mister. Happy anniversary, Husband. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bipolar News Reporters and Choking on That pepper

There's a side to me I haven't shared with a lot of people. Even my husband will give me a sideways look when I, seemingly out of nowhere, weigh in on something contravertial in the news.

 I don't watch the news. This is the side most people know. I hate the news actually. It jumps from weirdly upbeat to overly depressing in a strange minute by minute pattern for thirty minutes right before I go to sleep. I don't want to lay my head down on my pillow right after I learn that some teacher in town got his student pregnant and in other news it's almost time for the rubber ducky race down the Truckee. And if the news anchors changed their expressions and tone in everyday conversation like they do on the nightly news? Well. We would call them bipolar. 
Anyway. I read. I read news. I follow newsworthy stories on well written blogs and websites. I read the news paper when I can get my hands on it. I also listen to news on the radio. 
In fact, I get so engrossed on my way to work listening to some of these stories that I forget I am eating a spicy pepper and I suck the pepper, and its satanic seeds, down my windpipe. Then I cough and gag and pull my car over on the side of the busiest street in the city until the burning sensation passes, my eyes are bloodshot, and I literally have a scorch mark in my throat. Yah. It doesn't come any more politically aware than this cool cucumber. Don't worry. I had my phone in my hand once I realized my throat was rejecting the seeds by closing. I've got this covered, and I am winning at life. 

I was relaying this experience with my eldest child. She's sixteen and wise and speaks without thinking. 
She asked why I get so involved in these cases anyway. I didn't have a quick answer, but after a few minutes I thought "because I have a voice. Not everyone does, but they could, and I could help." 

What I did tell her was that when I was a kid, I often thought I would become a lawyer. I also told her that I have prayed twice in the last two weeks about being a lawyer. Not just any sort of lawyer. The kind that works on cases that impact our country and our rights. The ones that remind certain presidents that his pen and his phone were given to him by voters and he has been allowed to keep them because of God. And God doesn't like ugly. 
Cases where a soldier/student was threatened with a court Marshall if he refused to take down a scripture off his personal white board outside his dorm room when several other students quoted scriptures and passages from the Korahn and the Torah and old guys from Italy. 

Or cases where a pastor has been arrested in Iran for being a pastor. Not an Iranian pastor. He's American. And he was arrested, and he has been sick and hurt and put in Iranian prison, but no one here seems to know or care and our government has a mumbled answer to every direct question regarding him. 

And my newest favorite case. The one where certain presidents feel it's worthwhile to "share" control of the Internet with other countries. Other countries who are not nearly as interested in our first amendment. Other countries who already severely limit what gets through to citizens on their version of the Internet. Other countries who think communism is still a worthwhile venture. Thanks Obama, but I'm siding with Bill Clinton on this one. I'm ok if we don't hand over our security and freedom of speech over to China, who incidentally has a frighteningly skewed view of every war they have been involved in posted on their internet. Me thinks Vladamir Putin and his overly welcoming reception at the Olympics might have different ideas than Americans when it comes to censorship. 

And hey, Hobby Lobby, stay strong little roots. I don't think even Obama stands a chance against the pope. Well. Maybe this new guy. He's a bit of a wild card. 

My point is that I care about the people bullied by strong arms and deep pockets. I could do some real damage. For Jesus of course. I've always had a problem keeping my mouth shut when a little guy is picked on. Maybe this is just a case of being protective. Maybe that law school I looked into is just a neat idea. Maybe I am just supposed to sign petitions and use the internet to stay updated on what's really going on. 
Maybe. 
Well. Certainly I am supposed to stop eating peppers, but we will see about the rest of it. 



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just For You Mom: Suffering

Grief. That nasty five letter word. We all feel it at some point, and none of us really knows how to do it. People act crazy at weddings because they are losing something (someone). They act crazier at funerals. It's true. I once went to a funeral where a woman in a bathing suit cover-up announced from the stage that she knew her father would be smiling down at her with every rainbow. My seven year old pointed out that rainbows in fact are more like a frown. He's totally accurate, really. 

At the same funeral, a man was asked to give a quick eulogy of his friend. He brought his guitar and said he could only think to sing a song. He sang three and then told us where we could buy his CD. It was amazing. I hope he sold out every copy.

He grieves his way, and I grieve my way. This article is a short glimpse into a very real time of grief for my family and me. When I began the article, I thought my grief was handled. I had to stop several times to pray and thank God for being so close.

The funny thing about grief is that it takes a while, and just when you think you are done, someone says something or you hear a song or you are reminded of what you have lost.
For me, it's every time I go to the doctors. They ask me benign questions like my age and if I am allergic to anything. But there is a spot on the paperwork that gets me a little choked up. They ask how many pregnancies I have had and how many live births. For me, like so many women, these numbers do not line up. Not even close actually. But I am learning about suffering and grief and God's ability and desire to supersede all of it.

SUFFERING

Friday, March 21, 2014

Linking Up: JOY

The rules are simple. You type for five minutes straight and five minutes only. No backspacing or over thinking. Then, link up, read who came before and after you. It's nice. Like paying it forward: it being a candy bar. Please give me a candy bar.

Ready.
Steady.
Go.

Today's topic? Joy.

Fear may knock at my door all night long, but I know what is promised me in the morning. You guessed it. JOY. Sometimes I sit at my desk and type, and other times I stew about what to write. It all seems heavy in the moment, but since I am such a fan of nonsense anyway, it all seems to work out in the end. Like now, rambling. and door bells are ringing and texts are dinging, but I am ignoring all of it. I am typing to you people, and it's the writing, I have decided, that brings me joy. Do you know why? Because this gift of words is a treasure I never want to lose. Writing makes my heart whole and makes me feel as if I have a voice that will carry. Even if I were using a pair of paper cups and a very long string, if I can convey it through writing, my point seems to get made more clearly. So, I've been thinking. Maybe I should be a writer when I grow up. At least part-time. And it's working. Yesterday, I edited 6 chapters. Yep. Six. Then I drank a cup of coffee and started writing a new article for a mom's website for which I write. And I wanted to end that sentence in a preposition. Because I have a rebellious streak. I should have said, "...for a mom's website I write for, LADY." There. That's not a preposition.

STOP.

Visit Lisa Jo and add your own five minutes of joy.