Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer R&R For The Soul

Phoenix, AZ, Summer 2011 has been unreasonably HOT here in the Arizona desert. But, in spite of the blistering heat, events of the grandest proportions have been happening at Warpaint and beyond.

Not to overshadow the 225th birthday of our grand ole' republic, but...Claire Marie Smith, made her debut on Saturday, July 2nd! Her beautiful, dark hair immediately brings a smile to this Dede's face. Welcome, baby sister, to our crazy, upside down Smith herd...we're so glad you're here!

In between Claire's arrival and Jim's 58th birthday this weekend,
5 of our peeps headed north to Colorado Springs to hike Pike's
Peak, do summer chores with the Dawsons, participate in the Rocky Mountain Games Triathalon, attend Summit Ministries Leadership Camp
and enjoy precious time with family and friends. Just a week ago, another bunch of us headed west to La Jolla so that 2 of our runners could tackle the America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon, while a handful flew east to Buffalo and beyond for birthdays galore. And summer's not even over yet!

Taking time for rest, refreshment, and restoration during the summer break is well, non-negotiable, right? But as Labor Day weekend--the official end of summer---approaches,you may be experiencing the polar opposite of refreshment.

Maybe a weekend getaway wasn't a reality, so try this...hold a brand, newborn little person and pat her back ever so sweetly, or set aside time to read even one page of The Help, or spend an hour visiting with an old friend or family member, or sit down and write a note to someone you appreciate,or listen to music-Rhapsody in Blue or Word of God Speak.

But, if your craziness won't make room for even one of the above,then squeeze this in... sit quietly, somewhere, on your patio or in the park and think. Yes, just think! Think of a happy occasion or sweet memory, think about a story of bravery or poignant kindness. Think about God's great faithfulness and His new every morning mercies...plum the depths of these truths every quiet thinking chance you get and you'll be "called out of darkness into His marvelous light." I Peter 2:9

True rest and refreshment is's tangible...and it's easy
to overlook because we're so busy with every minute detail. Being still and quietly thinking is well, as Jeremiah 6:16 says, "...where the good way is....walk in it, and find rest for your souls."  

Happy Trails!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

All My Loves

The separate selves of me lie sweetly sleeping
In rooms that open off the moonlit hall,
And I stay wakeful on my pillow, keeping
The circle of my love around them all;
When morning dawns with a resounding clatter,
Bright-eyed, rose-cheeked, all freshly scrubbed and brown,
Like wind-blown leaves, the parts of me will scatter
In each direction, off to school and town.
So let the children sleep. I would not tether
Or clip their wings, though all things fly apart;
Yet let me now collect myself together,
Revisit every chamber of my heart,
And feel love arch into a flawless dome,
While all my loves, while all my loves are home.

Elizabeth Landweer

Fifty seven years ago today, my mom birthed the first of her 5 children--me...thirty years ago today, I was preparing for the birth of my first & second born twins....and today, I am anticipating the demonstration of God's glory in the lives of my children and grandchildren. As I revisit every chamber of my heart, I do feel love arching into a flawless dome, even though all of the separate selves of me are no longer home.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

School's Out! School's Out! Teacher Let The Bulls Out!

For those of us in the baby boomer era, this old rhyme brings deja vu' memories. My mom would
sing this ditty to us on the last day of school just before Memorial Day weekend--it was a grand tradition that truly welcomed in the dog days of summer vacation! But, none of that may apply to you and your children. 

Some children have just a 6 week summer break because their academic year has 3 long breaks while others who are homeschooled may continue with academic work throughout the summer. As I savor the precious sight of mothers with their children doing errands midday, I'm reminded of how many educational options millenial parents can choose from. But, a plethora of choices can be just as much a hindrance as a help.

Educating one's child academically is one of the most intimidating thoughts on the planet! But,
step back for a moment and quit asking how you'll ever get your son into Harvard and think about teaching your children. You'll soon realize you've been teaching your child since he was 
born! Yes, parents are a child's first and best teacher. Who taught your child how to lay down and go to sleep, how to call for help, how to properly eat her food, how to master her personal habits, how to speak clearly and politely, how to hug you around the neck and how to run to daddy when he's coming up the walk? 

With that foundational truth established, then considering one's educational options needn't be nearly so overwhelming. As the Word of God says, "Without counsel plans fail, but with many
advisors they succeed." Proverbs 15:22. When in the midst of considering how to educate your
child, the very best strategy is to seek wise counsel by reading, in conversation, and by observation. 

For The Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay is THE book to read! Susan, the daughter of Francis Schaeffer, defines a philosophy of education which is easy to understand and apply. For wise conversations seek out parents with older children, interview them, find out what motivated their choices and what sustains their educational option. Finally, watch what's going on around your neighborhood, church, local school board, etc., it all has meaning and direct bearing on your family. 

Since children end up being just like their teachers, purposefully pray asking for wisdom and discernment in making decisions about education. Since formal education stretches K-12 it's
ok to take it preschool isn't the best option for every 4yr. old, nor is kindergarten the
best fit for 5s. And all day kindergarten....if you are a stay-at-home parent, then there's no 
need to put a 5 year old little person in 8 hours of school away from Mom and the safety and
comfort of home. And finally, since school can wait because an enriched home environment is just as academically stimulating as a rigorous pre/k academic program, don't rush to keep up with your girlfriends! When a child starts formal academic rigor doesn't guarantee success, but it can guarantee failure as a young child struggles to take in information that his brain is not mature enough to process--the result is often dyslexia.

Who wants to think about how best to educate children right now, during the first 2 weeks of do! Every parent's mind is occupied with these thoughts as their children frolic through the carefree days of June, July, and August. No worries that elephant just one bite at a time! Speaking of elephants, is the circus coming to your town this summer? Get some tickets, buy some popcorn, and laugh with your children as the clowns usher in the magic under the big tent---the memories will be sweeeet!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Holy Saturday…the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday…what’s it all about, anyway? Do we 21st century Christians have any understanding of the       significance of this day in the tapestry of God’s epic story? The early church calendar named the day between Good Friday and Easter, Holy Saturday, but
before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, this Saturday was a Jewish Sabbath, just like every other Jewish Sabbath.

Jesus the Nazarene was laid in Nicodemus’ rock tomb just before a particular Sabbath began at sunset on a Friday. All of those who’d witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ were devastated, despondent, and desperately hopeless….the champion of their freedom had been brutally murdered, now what….? 

As faithful Jews, these men and women had to go forward with the Sabbath; the holiest day of the week had to be celebrated and the goodness of Jehovah declared to their children. How could they possibly celebrate God’s goodness in the midst of such disappointment? 

I pondered this question while preparing to celebrate the Resurrection on this Easter wasn't difficult to identify with the fears of those 1st century Christ followers. Then, all of a sudden the Lord brought something to my attention...Psalm 92..a Song for the Sabbath--the only psalm set apart for that weekly time of worship.  As Jesus of Nazareth lay wrapped in myrrh and aloe scented grave clothes, the sons and daughters of Abraham gave thanks to the LORD, and sang praises to the name of the Most High. As they sang together this sacred text they declared, “the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” WOW! what an example for their children...what faithful obedience to the precepts set out for them by Jehovah.

How different is our story...we didn't have to fearfully wait all through the Sabbath wondering what was coming next....we knew that today we'd celebrate a historical event...the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ! 

But what about all of those who don't know him as Savior-- who live in Holy Saturday despondency and desperation every single day? Just like the Jewish Christ followers, we can declare that the LORD is upright, we can sing his praises to those who don't know him, just as the Jews sang God's praises to their children from sunset on the day of Jesus' crucifixion till sunset on the Sabbath. 

Oh happy day! There is a Redeemer; Jesus, God's own Son! Shout from the mountaintops that Christ is risen from the dead! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In Like a Lamb....

March, the old rhyme says, comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion. And true to form, this
year in the Arizona desert March has arrived with sunny days and tweeting birds and wispy clouds.
Major and Minor League baseball teams are vying for fans...the grass seats at the Diamondbacks new stadium are so popular that one has to purchase tickets online to be guaranteed a "seat" in the grass sections bordering the outfield!! 

I'm glad that Mother Goose doesn't have a rhyme that foreshadows an entire year. The first quarter 
of this new year has definitely not come in like a lamb, it's actually been more lion-like....full of
fierce challenges on many different fronts. Numerous times it has seemed as if everything is spinning out of control, but God has not been caught off guard. His great faithfulness and everlasting mercy have convinced me that even the smallest details are of great importance---that 
His perfect purpose is accomplished through the everyday reality of my life.

During the challenges of these first few weeks of 2011 the importance of simple courtesy has
been imprinted on my mind.  I haven't been doing a great job of practicing those simple courtesies....seems like I've been at war with myself and with others within my sphere. But, as
Sister Mary Mercedes, O.P. says "living with others is an art, the finest and most difficult of arts 
and one that can be mastered only if we treat others with courtesy."  "Courtesy," she says, "is a way 
of living inspired by thoughtfulness, consideration, and respect for others and for yourself."

Developing the art of living with others is the vision I have for the second quarter of 2011. I'm going
to work extra hard to put myself in someone else's place to see what's needed in that situation.
I'm going to cultivate a climate of respect, and not assume that the other person understands my
position and I'm going to share with you the importance of courtesy and good manners--these never
go out of style!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is That All There Is?

When we read of unspeakable tragedy and suffering like that of the families in Tucson, AZ who lost precious loved ones to a madman's shooting rampage, we might ask ourselves, "is that all there is to life?" Dads and moms and grandparents diligently work at raising responsible, loving, respectful children  to have them gunned down mercilessly....what is the meaning of all of this? 

These are hard, heart wrenching questions that drive us to the depths of our souls, and force us to
search every corner of our minds for answers. Some days we might find comfort in the simple truth that the Tucson tragedy is a result of a singular madman. Other days, that may not satisfy our longings for a solution. The answer that will sustain us while living and breathing on this planet is found in one place and one place only...the Bible. In the pages of Scripture we will find numerous references to the presence of evil, the reality of suffering, and the promise of peace that passes all understanding. I don't have all of the answers or the space to explore them, but by going to the online source: you'll be able to find all of the references to evil, suffering and perfect peace. For a pastor's view on the Tucson tragedy and how to deal with suffering, please read Tyler Johnson's recent blog post at:

Tragedies like this one force us to re-examine what we're doing and why we are doing it. As believers our job is to teach and train our children in wisdom and stature, in grace and in truth.
We can impact our communities for good simply by focusing on raising respectful, obedient and
hardworking children, by loving our husbands and keeping homes that are havens from the chaos
without. Resources abound in this spectrum, once again with the Word of God being the ultimate source for faith and practice. Spend your time training your child's character rather than fretting about whether tragedy will strike. Invest your energy in understanding God's Big Picture or metanarrative...the story across time of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration, then 
teach it to your kids. And finally, use your nano seconds to pray instead of worry. Prayer ought to
be like breathing---it should come naturally-- an outpouring of the ebb and flow of our daily 
responsibilities, snags, distractions, annoyances, enlightenments, etc. 

Rather than asking, is that all there is? Ask yourself instead, how can I reflect Christ in this broken, hurting world---how can I be outward instead of inward can I make a
difference? The answer is simple...make a difference right under your home!

Be blessed beyond measure!