Wednesday, May 28, 2014

When The Holy Spirit Speaks To A Child

Me and my Joy--she really is my Joy.

Sometimes it's only after the fact that we are able to see the Holy Spirit's handy work.  Yesterday was one of those days.

We were completely out of bread, fruit and eggs, and scraping the bottom of the barrel with a bunch of other food.  Going to the grocery store was the order of the day.  I am the sort of person who has a very focused mind when I have something to do.  If I am cooking dinner, get out of my way or dinner is likely to be burned.  If I am scrubbing the bathroom, don't be offended if I ignore you talking to me because I am too focused on getting that sink shining to notice you are talking to me.

So when Joy came up to me as we were getting ready to leave and asked if she could call G.G. (short for Great Grandma), I told her no.  We were about to leave.

"But I really need to ask her if she needs anything from the store."

I probably threw her a look of frustration--can't she see I am trying to go?!  But I handed her my phone and let her call.  G.G. wanted us to buy a 6 pack of geraniums for her garden.  Fine, we can do that.

We bought her flowers, dropped them off at her house on our way home, and left after a short chat because G.G. wanted to take a nap.

An hour later I was sitting out in the sun room having my prayer time when Joy came out to talk to me.

"Mom, I really feel like the Lord wants me to help someone, but I don't know what to do."

"Do you know who you're supposed to help?"

"No.  That's the problem.  I really need you to help me know what to do."

"Do you think one of your Grandmas might need help?"

"Ya.  I could call them."

I had her call her Grandmas first because I didn't want her to wake G.G. from her nap.  Both Grandmas were busy.  So I agreed to let her call G.G. to offer to help her plant the flowers.  G.G. accepted the offer.

Joy trotted off to G.G.'s house and helped plant the flowers.  Plus eat some ice cream and drink orange juice (because it wouldn't be a visit with Grandma unless it involved treats).

I later posted on Facebook about how sweet it was that Joy listened to the Holy Spirit speaking to her.  Grandma responded that she probably wouldn't have even put in flowers this year if Joy hadn't called her.

Later I started thinking about the whole situation and how odd it was.  Joy has never asked to call one of the Grandmas to see if they needed anything before we left for the store.  But she was adamant yesterday.  She has never come up to me out of the blue to tell me that she really feels that God wants her to help someone.  But she was so serious and sure that God was speaking to her and that she had to act on it.  I thought she was busy playing with her sister, but apparently God is perfectly happy to interrupt Joy's play time to speak to her heart.

I have been working with the kids off and on this year, teaching them to pray and listen.  To wait on the Lord and to recognize His voice when He speaks to them.  Sometimes it feels like I am just wasting my time, but then moments like yesterday happen and I realize that these efforts are not without purpose.  God is at work in my kids even when it isn't immediately obvious.

And it is infinitely beautiful and precious when I am able to witness my child listening and obeying the Holy Spirit when He speaks to them.  How much more beautiful and precious it must be to the Lord Himself.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The One Where I Admit I Was A Whiny Baby--But I Got Over It

The sign of a fun vacation--dirt filled shoes

There I sat, on a plastic wrapped mattress resting on a camp cot in a tiny room with blue walls and a wallpaper boarder put up in an attempt to make a sad room look less gross.  There were ladybugs crawling the walls.  Dirt on the floor.  Well worn carpet over even more worn linoleum.

We were an hour into our Memorial Weekend "camping" trip and I was throwing in the towel.  Pre camping, I was excited how we were in a cabin while all our friends were in tents or campers.  Ya, baby!  How quickly the mighty fall.  Upon seeing the cabin, I was ready to claw my way into my friend's camper and refuse to set foot outside until Monday morning.  I was overwhelmed.  I was ready to go home.

I spent the rest of Friday in a state of semi disgust and frustration.  I didn't want to touch anything.  I was afraid of being attacked by bugs in my sleep.  I was not the most easy going camper in the bunch.

Saturday morning I was laying in bed, trying to ignore the sun shining in my eyes through the thin curtains at way-too-early AM, when thoughts started running through my head:  If I can't even stand this semi rustic 2 bedroom house, how could I ever make it in a place that is really dirty?  Africa?  Central America?  Detroit?  I'm a failure at wanting to be a light in a dark world and I haven't even started!  

I felt defeated.  If I shrunk back over a few ladybugs and some dirt, there was no way I'd ever be able to endure true yuck.  It was time to give up my dreams of ministering to the poor.  I got out of bed, got ready for the day, and went out onto the screen porch to have my prayer time and face my shortcomings head on.

God, I can't live like this anymore.  You've helped me conquer so many of my fears already; now it's time for me to get over my distaste for dirt, filth, bugs and yuck.  Lord, help me.  Help me to embrace all situations I find myself in without freaking out.  This cabin is fine.  I need to let go of my discomfort.  

To which God replied:

Lisa, this is My earth and I created it all.  It's time to stop shrinking back.  Embrace My creation, My world--all of it.  I will help you.

It wasn't immediate, God meeting me.  It more caught me by surprise.  Sunday morning Lizzy commented to a friend how our house was full of ladybugs, and I said, "Most of them are gone now."  She looked at me sort of funny, "No they aren't, Mom."  Huh.  I had stopped seeing them.

Both Saturday and Sunday night I got into bed without shaking my blanket out or checking every inch of my bed for bugs before getting into it.  I just plopped right down and went to sleep.

Sunday night a friend of Joy's came for a visit to our cabin site and the girls were looking at the frogs that David and Lizzy had caught--over 20 tiny frogs were being kept in 3 plastic containers.  Lizzy opened one of the containers and 3 frogs escaped.  "Catch them, Mommy!"  I looked at Lizzy like she was mad--I do not touch frogs.  Ever.  And yet I found myself chasing after the frogs and catching them.  Even picking them up and holding them in my hands.

I didn't die.

A container full of frogs--I touched them

By the end of our trip, I was ready to sign up again for next summer.

Last night, after a sanitizing shower and a change of clean clothes, from the comfort of my own, mostly clean, mostly bug free home, I was reading a book called Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch.  And I figured out something monumental.

When I honestly looked into my heart, I knew I equated Jesus with comfort and blessings...My happiness in life was always conditional, ready to disappear with every storm that blew into my life.  It was contingent upon what I had versus what I wanted.  There were always strings attached...In that faraway, uncomfortable place [Africa], I discovered just how much I needed Jesus to be Lord of my life.

I sat in that little cabin, at first in discontent, and then in peacefulness, and I realized that I also have been equating Jesus with comfort and blessings.  When things get tough--or icky--Lisa quits.  God, why is the air conditioner on my van still broken even after paying almost $200 to repair it?  or God, why haven't You answered my prayer yet?  or God, why aren't you making this bug spray miraculously keep the million mosquitoes from biting me?  or God, this place is gross.  My germaphobia, bugaphobia, and grimeaphobia are going crazy!

And I realized that I was wrong.  I could not let discomfort rule my life.  It was time to attack this fear head on.  No more searching all the beds for signs of bed bugs before unloading the car.  No more gingerly touching things that have been used by many other people.  No more being uncomfortable with staying overnight at new places for fear of picking up lice, bed bugs, or some other equally horrible bug.

Some people have few physical blessings and comfort (people living in the slums of Africa come to mind), yet they are happy and content and thank Jesus for their cardboard houses!  I had a sound roof over my head with a working toilet, microwave, mini fridge, beds, couches and a wonderful screen porch--and I turned into a whiny baby.  It wasn't good enough because it was worn down and dirty.

This weekend I learned that my peace and joyfulness cannot be contingent upon my circumstances, no matter what they are.  I can no longer draw a line in the sand and say, "I will be happy if ____, but if we cross that line, I will not be happy."  It doesn't work that way.  God says to be Joyful in all circumstances.  All.  Even those that stretch our comfort zone.  Even those that make our comfort zone break.

And I learned that God likes to throw me into situations that stretch me and make me realize how much further I have to go.  Where I have to depend on Him to change me so that I can be the woman He needs me to be.  God likes nothing more than to have His children cry out to Him in need.  He will meet us where we're at.  He will transform us so that we can be a people who are Joyful in all circumstances.  Who don't shrink back when things are less than desirable.  Who are able to serve and love even in the most wretched of places.

One prayer at a time.

This post may contain affiliate links – Ladybug Farms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Planting My Stake--Stop The Consumption Madness

I am really good at finding a bargain.  I like nothing more than to save money on an item.  In my quest for finding the best deals, I "liked" a lot of deal Facebook pages.  I subscribed to deal blogs.  I get the Sunday paper with all of its ads and coupons.  I have my handy dandy Amazon Prime subscription so I can buy what I "need" cheaper and get it quicker with just the click of a button.

A few months ago God pretty clearly said, "Lisa, you buy things you don't truly need.  You have a consumption problem and this has to end."  Did I just admit that out loud???  I said, Okay God.  I can do that.  And then I went about my merry way determined to only buy what I really truly needed.

That lasted about...thirty seconds.  Because I have this memory problem.  I say I will do something and then promptly forget about it until I am reminded about it later.  God kindly tapped me on my shoulder again and said, "Lisa, you buy things you don't truly need.  You have a consumption problem and this has to end."  Wash, rinse, repeat.

And then there is the fact that I'm staying on budget.  I do not have an over spending problem.  God wasn't bringing up my consumption problem because I have been driving my family into debt.  No, God has been hitting me over the head with this because He wants me to live even more below our means.  To live simply so we have more money to give.  Which I agree with and fully support.  It's just been a struggle for me because it's different than how I've always been.

Like yesterday.  Once again God reminded me of my consumption problem and I said Yes, I will work on that.  Then it slipped my mind as I took the kids to Menards to buy sack chairs for our upcoming camping trip because they have all outgrown our old kid size chairs.  While we were at Menards I saw this awesome deal on pocket knives.  $8.99 regularly, but they had an $8.00 mail in rebate making them just $0.99!  Of course I picked up 2 because camping and knives just seem to go together.  And then there were sparklers that would be great fun on a camping trip.  And those twizzlers looked really good for a snack.  And lets not forget the lunch bag cooler that I have been meaning to buy because our old one had a ripped liner so I threw it away.

I got home.  I settled in with my Bible ready to have a nice, uplifting moment with God.  Lisa, read 1 Samuel 15.  I was prepared for an encouraging verse.  Instead, I read all about Saul and how he only sort of obeyed God.  And when he was confronted with it, he said, "The Lord bless you!  I have carried out the Lord's instruction."  When Samuel questioned him about why he only followed God's instructions part way, Saul came up with excuses.  To which Samuel replies: "To obey is better than sacrifice...Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king."

I admit.  I read that and was like, huh.  What's this about God?  Nice story but how does this apply to me?  Lisa, you just spent money without asking Me.  You aren't obeying Me very well.  Take back the things I have not approved.  Ohhhhhh.  That.

But really, God.  Is that really what You mean??  Because it was just some sparklers and twizzlers and super cheap pocket knives.  And they were a really good deal!!

And I quote: "If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor My name," says the Lord Almighty, "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings.  Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor Me." -Malachi 2:2

Okay.  I got the message, Lord.  Back it all goes.

So I bagged up the stuff to go back to the store, plus a few other things that needed to be returned but I hadn't gotten around to yet, and made a returns errand.  I admit that I had a conversation in my head about the sparklers and twizzlers.  God, this is sort of embarrassing to be returning things that only cost $2 each.  And God, in His infinite wisdom and humor said, Exactly.  No sympathy in that corner.

A few days ago I read in this really awesome book, Grumble Hallelujah by Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira, that one of the first areas God addressed in her life when she started getting serious with God was her materialism problem.  And God told her to "Drive your stake, lifestyle-wise.  To declare that enough is enough."

God told me to "drive my stake" and declare that enough is enough and it's time to stop buying things that aren't true needs.  He told me to literally drive my stake.  As in go buy a stake and put it by my front door as a symbol to remind me that nothing goes past that stake unless it has been a purchase approved by God.  So I bought a yard ornament, brought it home, and drove it into the ground right by my front door.

Then God and I brainstormed a list of things for me to do to help me break my consumption cycle.  Here is my list so far:

1. Unlike or unsubscribe to deal sites and blogs.  All those deal websites and Facebook posts and blog posts?  They weren't helping me at all.  They just tempted me to buy something I didn't know I needed but suddenly couldn't live without...because it was such a steal of a price.  I "unliked" a bunch of pages.  I unsubscribed to a bunch of email lists.

2. Cancel the newspaper.  This one seems counter productive.  But here me out.  I don't read the actual paper.  I get it strictly for coupons and the Meijer ad.  But the coupons in my local paper  I pay $12 a month for the paper and I am not sure if I even break even using the coupons.  But what I do find myself doing is scanning the ads looking for bargains.  When the only ad I really need is the Meijer ad, which I can get online for free.  Eliminating the paper will prevent me from scanning the Menards and Office Max and Aldis and Target and all the other ads that are full of good deals.

3. Wrap my debit card in a little note.  I thought about taking my debit card out entirely but that was pushing it.  I have considered going cash-only, but I know myself and that is not going to happen yet.  But, I still plan to...

4. Go cash only.  For my grocery budget and spending money.  These are the two big areas where I spend the most money (duh).  So I am going to go cash only, and when the money's gone, it's gone until the beginning of the next month.

5. Designate an errands day.  Lately I have been making one big trip to the store a week, plus a few little trips here and there, which often adds up to an extra big trip.  Not working.  I need to designate a shopping day again (I've been watching my nephew 1-2 days a week for almost a year now which has led to my moving shopping day all over the place, but he's older now and I can take him shopping with us if I happen to be watching him on my shopping day).  Shop once a week and go without if I under shop.

6. Menu plan.  And stick with it.  This is going to be a tough one for me.  Because I feel led to make a menu to cover every meal, not just dinner.  If I plan out all our meals, it will help me shop smarter and be sure to not forget something.

7. Think and pray before I buy.  This is going to be the hardest one to remember.  To pray before I go shopping, and to think before I buy something.  Do I really need this?  Can I do without it?  Is this something that the Lord approves?

8. Make a clothing master list.  This is a list of what each child should have clothes-wise.  A child does not need 15 t-shirts.  It is a waste of money, doesn't fit in their drawers, and leads to a messy room when half those shirts are just thrown on the floor rather than in the hamper.  So I am going to make a list of what they truly need and stick with it.  No more impulse purchases of really cute shirts that are on clearance.

9. Make a list and stick to it.  I am really good at making a grocery list before going to the store.  I am not so good at sticking to my list.  As I get better at making up a full menu each week, I will make shopping lists off these menus that will include every food item we will need for the week.  If it's not on the list, it isn't purchased.  No more impulse buying just because I find a good deal on something we don't really need.

I am sure that I will be adding to this list as time goes by, but for now this is enough to get me on track.  I want to be a person who obeys God completely.  No more partial obedience.  No more forgetting my commitments.  I am driving my stake and saying enough is enough.  I am done with being an over-consumer.  It's time to cut back and let God have control of our budget.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Stuck in a wind tunnel

Have you ever felt stuck?  That you are certain that God wants you to do something, use your gifts, do His will--and yet you're forced to sit?  Waiting?  You're ready to go, you've got your bags packed, all in, but God just won't say GO?

You know you're following God.  You know you've heard Him.  You know He's calling you to something.  But the door is shut tight and will not budge open?

I realized something this week.  I am mad at God.

I have felt stuck for so long.  Frustrated.  Ready to bang my head against a wall.  I keep asking, "God?  Where are we going?  I'm ready."  And He is silent.  Oh is He silent.  I will get snippets of things--Go bring food to this person.  Or go do this service.  Or write a letter to someone.  Or call up a friend and invite her over.  But these are just small things.  I obey and do them, but in my heart I know that these are not the "Big Thing."

I am mad at God because I am tired of waiting.  I jumped, I expected God to act.  And nothing.  My expectations have been dashed and I am mad.  Disappointed.

At first I thought it was sort of bad to be mad at God.  Like I was committing an unforgivable sin, but then I prayed about it.  Funny how I can be mad at God yet still pray and talk to Him.  Anyway, I asked Him, "God, is it okay that I am mad at You right now?"  And God pretty much told me that it's okay to tell Him that I'm mad.  He can take it.  Because by my telling Him that I'm mad, I'm being real.  I am dealing with the root issue: I had an expectation, God didn't meet it, and I feel mad and let down.

Once I admitted that I was mad, a strange thing happened.  I laughed.  Because it is ridiculous for me to be mad at God because I'm not happy with His timing.  "God I trust You, but only if You come through on my time table."  Ya, it doesn't work that way.  

I thought about Jesus--God promised to send Jesus to earth as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins all the way back in the opening pages of human history.  Yet God waited thousands of years before sending Jesus to earth.  Why?  Why did He wait so long?  I imagine Jesus sitting up there in heaven saying, "Okay.  I'm ready God.  Let's do this."  Only to have God say, "Not yet."  Or during that silent gap in the Bible between ages 12 and 30, was Jesus antsy to get His ministry going?  Because if I were Jesus and knew that I was on earth to show people the way to heaven, I would be ready to go way before age 30.

But the whole timing thing.  God waited for just the right time in history to send Jesus.  Then He had Jesus wait until He was 30 to start His ministry because of timing.  John the Baptist had to prepare the way first.  And John was only six months older than Jesus, so he couldn't have been at his ministry all that long.  Then the "right" people had to be in their respective positions of power so that they would be in a place to convict Jesus and sentence Him to lashing and death.

There was so much going on behind the scenes of history that set the stage for Jesus' life and death.  Just like there is so much going on right now behind the scenes of history as God sets the stage for my life and what He is calling me to do.  To me waiting seems a lot like doing nothing.  But to God waiting looks more like me learning to trust Him, wait on Him, and obey Him.

We cannot rush God.  We can blaze our own path, but then it is our path and not God's path.  Or we can sit tight and wait for God to reveal His path.  Which also happens to be the only path that leads to life.

So I am choosing to stop feeling stuck.  Though to me it doesn't look like I am really going anywhere right now, that doesn't mean I am stuck.  It just means that God is working behind the scenes setting everything up.  Amen.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

She Goes Dancing In The Rain

I have been feeling hum-buggy lately.  Tired, worn down, a bit of burn out.  Last week I had a lot going on, plus I had to prepare for a garage sale that we had this past Saturday.  By Sunday morning, Mother's Day, I was toast.  Sunday morning I was getting ready for the day, sat down in my closet to put on my socks, and just sat there.

It was one of those "cry out to Jesus" moments.  I looked at me, I looked at Jesus, and the words started pouring out.  Jesus, I can't do this today.  I am so tired.  I have nothing left to give.  I need You to help me.  And I sat there in my closet and cried.

Thankfully I don't get that worn down very often so this is not a common occurrence around here.

I had a rocky day which included Joy taking me by the hand and leading me to my bed to take a nap.  It involved more tears as I dealt with some other issues as well.  Lord, why am I so tired all the time?  Lord, why do I feel zero motivation to get anything done?  Lord, why did I jump off the cliff of my Anything, Lord prayer just to fall flat on my face--or so it seems?

I'm so glad each day is a new day.  I woke up Monday feeling almost back to normal.  But I knew that things needed to change a bit around here.  I have been wearing myself down too much.  I haven't been taking time for myself.  When I'm not running around town, I am home teaching, cleaning, or falling asleep because of my fatigue.

I was reading my devotional, Jesus Calling, yesterday during my prayer time, and the day's entry spoke right to my heart"

Many of My precious children have fallen prey to burnout.  You are among these weary ones, 
who are like wounded soldiers in need of R & R.  Take time to rest in the Love-Light of 
My Presence.  I will gradually restore to you the energy that you have lost over the years.

Then I read Matthew 11:28-29 Amplified Version

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and over burdened, and I will cause you to rest.  [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest [relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet] for your souls.

It was like a light bulb went on in my head.  I am tired a lot.  I have low iron, low iodine, low vitamin D.  That could be the source of the problem or just part of it.  Whatever the cause, I have been worn down for a while, which has been getting me emotionally down.  I have let my tiredness define me.  And that's not who I am.  I am not a tired person.  I am not an unmotivated person.  I am not a person who is too worn out to go for a walk around the block.  So I decided to stop it.  Which sprouted this little gem.


I am the girl who laughs
I am the girl who flies by on her scooter
I am the girl who dances n the rain
I am the girl who sings at the top of her lungs when no one's listening
I am the girl who hugs her family close
I am the girl who loses her voice from cheering at her kids' soccer games
I am the girl who doesn't hold back
I am the girl who loves her God fiercely, totally, all out
I am the girl who loves her family like that, too
I am the girl who laughs at herself because everyone makes mistakes
I am the girl who will never hide again
I am the girl who lives every last drop out of this short life
I am the girl who lets her light shine.  And oh how it shines

Today it poured.  A big, fat, dumping rain.  My kids asked to play in the rain.  I hesitated before saying yes, butt then I said yes.  They were having so much fun.  I thought about my poem from yesterday as I watched them.  I thought about being boring and tired and made a choice.  I am not that girl anymore.  I took off my shoes and went dancing in the rain.  

Yes, that is a snake that David is holding way too close to my face

Friday, May 2, 2014

God Goggles

If you haven't already seen this video called Mom Goggles, go watch it.  It is awesome and hilarious and so very true.  In summary, two dads are left home with the kids for the weekend.  They look for something to help them keep the kids alive.  They end up buying Mom Goggles where, when worn, they see things through a Mother's eyes.

A few years ago I started praying that I would see things the way God sees them.  That my heart would be broken with the things that break God's heart.  That my desires would be God's desires.  That I would love others as God loves them.  In essence, I asked God to give me God Goggles.

When my child is acting up and being disrespectful, my eyes see a sassy child who is messing up my day and needs to be corrected.  But put on my God Goggles, and suddenly my child is transformed into a child who is tired, going through a growth spurt, hungry, upset about something else, feeling neglected, or any host of other issues that may be affecting their behavior.  And I stop and try to get to the heart of the issue, while also gently correcting the child for relating unlovingly toward me.

When the Hubs comes home from work grumpy, my eyes see a guy to avoid.  He's being mean and I want to lash back.  And then I put on my God Goggles and I see a man who is tired, had a stressful day, needs to eat, or something else that has absolutely nothing to do with me.  So I can step back and love him and shower kindness on him despite his grumpiness.  Because it is not about me.

God Goggles also work on people outside my family.  My eyes judge people based on what they see.  If a person is unkind, abrupt, distant, or any host of other things, my eyes see someone to avoid.  But then God steps in and puts his Goggles on my eyes and the people before me morph into people who are crying out for love, someone to care about them, someone to talk to.  They are no longer people to avoid, but people to pursue.  To get to know.  To befriend.

And with these God Goggles firmly attached to my face, I see everything differently.  I see heart needs.  Those needs that are below the surface that most people would never tell others about.  I see them now.  I can be sitting next to someone and my God Goggles go nuts as they show me that the person is struggling and needs prayer, a hug, a listening ear, or a few hours of alone time sans kids.

A whole new world of things bring tears to my eyes.  Break my heart.  Make my insides rise up in righteous anger.  But I can't fix the whole world.  I may want to.  I might want to try to.  But when it comes down to it, I can only love the person in front of me.  And with my God Goggles on, I know that is enough.  To really see the person in front of me and to love them as God loves them.