Monday, February 27, 2012

You hold my right hand...

As my 3-year-old grasps my finger in the middle of the night for assurance that I am still by her side, my mind wanders. I attempt to talk to God as the sounds of the girls’ coughs place every muscle in my body on edge. My mind works to compute the days it has been since their fevers started. And I try to assure myself of my mothering choices.

The hold my little one has on my hand is tight as to make certain I will not leave. She wants to have the security that her mother is there to take care of her. The comfort found in wrapping her tiny hand around my middle finger allows her to drift back to sleep.

I think about the fact that this is a comfort my 6-year-old daughter looks for as well. All it takes is that momentary touch to say, “I’m here. Everything is going to be okay. I love you and won’t leave you. Go ahead and allow yourself to experience that peace you are searching for. I am right here.”

In the midst of my thoughts, this picture comes to my mind of my middle child grasping her papa’s finger at the zoo. I love this picture because it reminds me of all the moments I slipped my own hand into his looking for the security I longed for as a girl. His hand was always welcoming as I ran to claim my spot. Walking with my hand held tightly by those of a strong carpenter allowed me to enjoy each moment knowing I was loved and cared for.

It was four years ago that I said goodbye to my earthly father. God intertwines a Bible verse in with these memories this week as I've cared for the runny noses, coughs, and fevers of my ill children (which will no longer be of concern to me next week). As my little girls search for security in reaching out their hands for mine, I attempt to recall God’s Words. I know there was something about being held by his right hand. "Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely." (Psalm 63:7-8)

Walking along this journey without my dad has been painful. Somewhere along the way, I had to make the choice to quit asking God “Why?” and start asking “Now what?” While I am grateful to have had a daddy’s hand to reach for when I needed comfort all the way up to the final days, I still miss him. And yet, his death has brought my life richness I never thought could be experienced in such loss.

As I've looked to God for peace in my pain, I've found that I should be comforted by His simple presence in my life. Just as my girls find security in simply reaching for my hand, God wants me to find that same assurance in Him. When I am hurting, I thank God that it is still the strong hands of a Carpenter that I find my peace and security... for eternity. And as I do, I hear Him say "For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, 'Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you." (Isaiah 41:13)

"Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant— I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do." - Psalm 73:21-28

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Check out Roo Mag (Candace Cameron Bure)

One of my favorite television shows as a kid was "Full House". Remember DJ? In real life, she is Candace Cameron Bure (sister of Kirk Cameron). Needless to say, I was so excited to see she has a magazine! I love the idea of Christ followers who have a platform especially in Hollywood. Roo Magazine has caught my interest; especially this week with their giveaways. The giveaways include Love and Respect, A Confident Heart, Pursuit of Proverbs 31 as well as Candace's book, Reshaping it All and other great stuff! Check them out here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hearts at Home 2012

Do you need to get your mom batteries recharged?  Need some fresh perspective?  Want to do something for yourself that will really benefit your family?

You’ll find that and more at one of the 2012 Hearts at Home conferences!
Keynote speakers Michelle Duggar and Focus on the Family’s Dr. Julianna Slattery, will partner up with over a dozen different workshop speakers to bring you the continuing education you need as a mom!

Check out some of the workshops offered this year:

Top Ten Messages You Want Your Kids to Get – Linda Anderson
Confessions of an Imperfect Mother – Julie Barnhill
Frumpy to Fabulous in 30 Days – Shari Braendel 
Are You Living In Chaos?- Marla Cilley aka The Fly Lady
Practical Parenting Tips – Michelle Duggar
When Our Kids Make Decisions We Don’t Agree With – Brenda Garrison 
What To Do When God Says “Wait” – Jami Kaeb
Get a Grip On Your Finances – Marianne Miller
Encouragement for Overworked Working Moms – Sabrina O’Malone
Tried and True Ways to Earn Money From Home – Marilee Parrish
The Smart Stepmom – Laura Petherbridge
Thriving As A Single Parent – Laura Petherbridge
 Three Gifts of Sex – Lorraine Pintus
50 Ways to Improve Your Relationship With Your Husband – Marilee Parrish
Help Your Child Develop a Dating Philosophy – Jill Savage
You Don’t Have to Be Extreme to Save Money – Jill Savage
 How To Fight For Your Marriage – Dr. Juli Slattery

The BEST VALUE REGISTRATION Deadline for the March 16-17 National Conference in Normal, IL, is February 15 (that’s Wednesday!)!  You don’t want to miss this year’s conference…it promises to be an incredible weekend of life change.

Registration is also open for the two Fall conferences:
§  Western Conference, Colorado Springs, CO, October 12-13
§   North Central, Rochester, MN, November 9-10

If you live too far away to attend one of the events or you have a conflict or are nursing a baby and just can’t make it this year, check out the Conference-To-Go option. 

Don’t delay…register today over at the Hearts at Home website.

(reposted from Jill Savage)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Just for Me? (Stronghold Castle 2012)

Is it silly to believe God sends snow just for me? While this winter’s spring-like weather has been enjoyable, it can certainly threaten activities that need the white fluff. When our plan for a getaway weekend filled with sledding fun was threatened, pleads to God began to rise from our home to God’s throne. As I watched the snow fall heavier and longer, afterschool activities were canceled and traffic slowed, I knew sledding was still on the agenda. I believe God sent the snow just for me.

Our weekend getaway was an invitation from Rod’s aunt and uncle on their church retreat (Presbyterian Church in Orland Park). My husband, girls, and I packed up for our weekend of fun in the snow at Stronghold Castle in Oregon, Illinois. When we arrived at the castle, activities were already underway and everyone was getting ready to head out to the sledding hill. That first day always requires a bit of packing down the hill but sledding was still wonderful because God had sent this snow just for us!

We got in a bit of sledding before lunch and many were heading out again after the meal. My two youngest and I were some who stayed behind inside the castle. Without televisions or technology of any kind really, we rely on one another’s company as well as planned activities, board games and other materials to pass the time. When my middle daughter asked me to play a game of Chutes and Ladders followed by a game of Candyland, there were no distractions to succumb to. We played our games and then spent time filling a sticker book with my youngest. Looking around the room, it was a bit of an anomaly to witness groups gathered with crafts, board games, cards, books or activities of the like. People were relaxed and enjoying conversation without the distractions of everyday living.

We need more of this in our world throughout the year. I can’t help but get frustrated when the kids I pick up for a weekly commitment bring their PSP and I-Pod Touch for a 20-30 minute car ride. My mind simply cannot fathom why it is so difficult to communicate with friends, sing songs, tell jokes or exercise some creativity to pass the time. When exactly did we become so disconnected? I’m not against technology (this is a blog after all). I simply wonder when we decided it was acceptable to be attached to our cell phones more than each other. Why is it necessary to browse the internet while you’re in a group of people? And what exactly is so important that we have to text in the middle of a conversation?

Technology was supposed to help us better our lives. While in many ways it has, I think we all could benefit from taking a minute to stop and smell the roses. These past few days as the weather has returned to a confused state, I have walked with my youngest (at her pleadings) to pick up my other daughter from Kindergarten. Sure, it takes a little more time but my mind feels clearer, I’m moving my body and I wonder if my girls won’t just remember these moments when they have children of their own?

Stronghold was fun! Our family created lasting memories. We worshipped God with other believers. The rat race of life was set aside for a moment to remind us of what matters. A couple of days away from the humdrum of life pull my heart to return. But I don’t need to wait for a weekend getaway to create those moments. I simply have to be intentional at pushing aside the distractions and choosing what is important. I’m excited. After all, if God will send snow just for me, I can’t wait to see what He has in store for the future!

(One more thing... that snow that brought my daughter and husband home late from school and work on Friday melted away on Monday.)

“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” - Luke 11:9-13