Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Vines

I am a rule follower by nature.  I see things as black and white, I'm a truth teller and often honest to a fault.  While accuracy is certainly a desired quality, it can be a fault too.  What you don't know, is I'm silently correcting your grammar, I edit your Facebook posts for punctuation in my head and don't even get me started on your use of homophones.  Sadly, this does not just stop with grammar issues, I have a drive for things to be "fair", to right the wrongs and to seek justice.

That doesn't leave room for much grace.

Today I was reading the story of Jonah.  The last chapter of this fascinating book of the Bible often gets overlooked.  Every child who has attended Sunday school for any amount of time knows about the prophet who got swallowed by a great fish when he disobeys God to go tell the Ninevites to repent or God will destroy their city.  He finally does repent, is spat out and goes to Nineveh to tell the Ninevites about God and they do repent.  God's anger relents and the city is not destroyed.

The last chapter sees Jonah watching this scene and waiting for God's judgement to come.  When God shows mercy Jonah is seriously angry.  He's in a very hot place and seeks shelter under a large vine God has provided that has sprung up.  The next day the plant suddenly dies when eaten by a worm and Jonah is again angry.  This time about God letting the plant die.  God asks him if he has a right to be angry about the vine, Jonah replies he's angry enough to die.

This next part is my favorite, because I see so much of myself in it.  Jonah 4:10-11, "But the Lord said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow.  It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well.  Should I not be concerned about that great city?"

The vine for me, being correct and factual and fair, is not what God says is important.  Showing God's compassion to a lost and dying world, a world that needs to understand God loves them, and sent his son to save them is important.  I think today I'll work on looking past the vines in my life and caring for people's hearts instead.

(P.S. I hope you find some grammatical errors in this passage, that would really make me laugh!)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Prone to Wander

Over the past several years, I have been working on becoming a certified Biblical counselor through the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.  After several years, I just recently completed the program.  Through the process, I have also been counseling in my church and for a para-church organization.  Counseling has always come very natural to me, I was a social worker for many years and even before that, people were always coming to me with their problems and concerns, so it was just a natural fit.

I don't think anything could have prepared me though, for these past couple of years, and even more as my husband has too become a counselor.  You see the very worst of people, their idolatrous hearts, the shame that comes along with it, how people choose a myriad of ways to run from the God they say they love, and then all the consequences that come along with it.  You can't help but, in some ways, become disgusted and disillusioned as you see marriages break down, relationships shatter and churches splinter.  It's just ugly and awful.  It absolutely makes you wonder why you would ever have chosen to be part of this ministry.  (Although, of course, I believe God calls us into ministry, which is another discussion for another day.)

Then, God reveals the depths of my own sin. The wickedness and depravity I have come from and could so easily return to.  And, of course, all that I still struggle with today.  The unkind words, the judgmental nature, the pride, the quick temper...  But oh, how, in humility, He saved me.  Even a wretch such as me.  I am "Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love..." And I am, once again, humbled and willing to go where he wants me to go, to be His hands and feet to help restore my brothers and sisters in Christ.  For, they are really not that different me.  I'm so thankful that He could see this broken vessel as something that could bring others into relationship with Him.

Here I am Lord, send me.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Two years?

It's hard to believe it's been two years since I've posted on my blog.  It was such a big part of my days several years back, but life has gotten busy and this has surely fallen by the wayside.  As the girls grow it's hard to remember or make time even for writing.

Lilla is 8 and in the 4th grade now.  She blows me away with her memorization and interest in so many things.  Lately she has taken a real interest in history.  I think that started with the American girl books but today she was asking all about how world war 1 started.  She has been begging for a violin for years now so she will finally get her wish at Christmas this year.  It will be interesting to see how she does with that.  She is also about to be in a play at church, she's blowing through Scripture memorization at Awana and she's involved with American Heritage girls, a Christian girls scouting program.  She is on the move.

Anna is also changing and forming into a totally new person all the time.  She will be 6 next week.  She is so clever and funny.  She is in kindergarten this year and is really enjoying putting letters together and understanding all the sounds that they make.  It's so fun to see her reacting when she really starts to understand and get new information she learns in her school.  She is still much more shy than Lilla ever was, but she's even more strong willed than Lilla.  It's so funny because Lilla looks like me but Anna is more like me in personality.  She sings beautifully and I really think has a musical ability, so that will be interesting to see develop as the years go on.  She has amazed me this year with her ability to memorize as well.  She had all the books of the Bible down within 2 real weeks of beginning.

This year we took a trip out west and got to see Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone, the Badlands, the Grand Tetons and the Rockies.  It was absolutely beautiful, and, much colder than we had anticipated in late August/early September.  It was neat though to see all those things that we had always seen pictures of, to really have a better understanding of them.  We would love to return to Yellowstone someday as we couldn't get enough of it and all the wonderful nature programs there.

Well, enough of an update for now, it's late and a good sleep is calling...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

An American Christmas

As most of you know, we are homeschoolers, but once a week we do attend a homeschool co-op where over 100 kids come together for all different types of classes.  I teach photography and the kids get to do things like gym and art that I wouldn't be able to do at home.

There are times that some teachers aren't able to make it so I may fill in for them in other classes as well.  For a few weeks I filled in for Lilla's geography teacher so I got to see Lilla's classroom and how things went for her.

I noticed right away that Lilla was alone.  She sat on the other side of the table at lunch than the other girls, she sat alone at a table in class, she walked to the classes alone...everything.  As a parent, this just hurt my heart.  Lilla is really friendly and outgoing so I couldn't imagine why this would be.  To be honest, I'm still not sure, but something I did notice is that it didn't seem to bother Lilla at all.  She just went on about her day and looked forward to the time that she got to see her best friend in bible quiz at the end of the day.  It's a very small class full of girls that all surround around one other girl that kind of runs the room and Lilla is the only one who doesn't do that.  It's very interesting to me to watch.

Anyway, at lunch one day the girls all started talking about "things" they had gotten for birthdays and Christmas' as it had just been one girls birthday.  They got sparkly hats and clothes, toys and diary's...and inevitably, the topic moved to American girl dolls.  They all began to discuss how many they had.  This girl had one, this girl had went around the table and Lilla said, "I have two!"  My heart sank again because she doesn't have two American girl dolls, she has two dolls from Target that are similiar in size and type.  My husband and I just can't justify $120 on a doll that they carry around, get dirty, clothes get torn up...  With such a tight budget we just can't.  So, after school that day I explained to Lilla about the difference in dolls.  I hadn't told her to that point as I didn't even know she'd ever even heard of American girl dolls.  She's usually oblivious to anything name brand.

After that I started thinking maybe we could just do that, and only that, for Christmas.  So, I asked her if she'd want that.  She thought, in her Lilla way for a long time, and then came back to me and said, "No mom, I don't think that would be the wise choice.  That's a lot of money for a doll."  Again, tears from me as I just can't help but love a child that would say something like that.  Later on that week I was relaying the story of how lovely Lilla was about the doll and my mom, who is sympathetic to being left out, began to have her heart set on getting one for her.  So she did.  And this was Christmas...
Don't miss the size of Lilla's eyes in this picture.
Hugging the box!  Oh, you should have heard the hoops and hollers!  She was totally surprised and it was THE single best reaction ever for a gift.
Isn't she lovely?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

No matter what

Last night as we sat around the dinner table we began discussing what my husband would teach at Awana tonight.  He was tossing around a couple of ideas but had nothing concrete yet.  Lilla was listening in so I asked her what she thought Daddy should teach.  Here is a little window to the conversation:

Me:  Lilla, what do you think Daddy should teach on?

Lilla:  Noah.

Me:  Noah?  Well, Noah is a good story but what is the lesson in Noah?  (I'm thinking she's going to say something about rainbows or God's faithfulness at this point.)

Lilla:  No matter what happens you should always listen to God.  Even if your friends make fun of you, you should still do what he says.

Me:  We really should.

Lilla:  Yes, because you know, everyone was probably laughing that he's building this boat but he kept right on building it.  We should do that too, just keep doing what he says.

Michael and I just stared at her for a second, trying to take in what she just said.

Oh, and Michael has a lesson plan.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


As I peruse facebook, so often I see posts from mom's and dad's about how their child won the jump roping the world competition or spelled the longest word in the dictionary with no repeated letters (Uncopyrightable) or how their 1 year old has gone #2, 2 1/2 times that day.  (TMI people, TMI!!)

As a parent, I know what it is like to be proud of your child.  You want to be proud of them and you want the world to also see the awesomeness that exudes from their very pores.  Don't we all as parents?

Well, today, something happened that made me a different kind of proud.  I went in to drop Lilla off at VBS tonight.  This was her third night to a church we've not visited before.  I had searched for this particular VBS and that's how she wound up there as it was the closet to our house.  Anyway, her leader stopped me for a little bit of small talk and then was talking about Lilla had taken part in the discussions and referred to her going to this VBS before.  I told her she had not, she said, well, I know she's not been to this church before but she has been to this VBS.  I again told her she had not.  This conversation went on for about a minute before she understood Lilla had in fact not been to this VBS.  

The lady then kind of stared at me kind of dumbfoundedly.  She then said, "She knows all the answers and is telling us the stories."  I kind of laughed and said, "She really likes Bible stories."  She then told me how this was not normal how well she really knew the stories, she just couldn't believe she'd never been to this VBS before and how Lilla kept them on their toes.

My heart swelled with joy because I really want her to know and love the Bible.  I want her to have an understanding and theology that only bring her closer to her creator.  I'm not saying this to get a "good job Amy", I'm actually saying it to say, this is what is important.  Sports and academics and all the other stuff has it's place, but oh, for our children to have their hearts and minds set on God...well, there is just nothing else like that in the world.  

Luke 2:19  But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.