Five minute Friday – Truth

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photo 11What is your reaction when you see someone reading the Bible?

Do you feel disgust, embarrassment, judgement or anger?

Do you pity, resent or maybe even hate?

Do you feel joy, peace and love?

Do you feel envy, connection and thankfulness?

I have felt all of these at different times when I have seen someone reading the Bible.

Strange, that I can still recall going to a coffee shop many years ago with my grandma. We were listening to a vocalist. My grandma probably forgot her hearing aid and the sounds were too much for her. I looked around and there, at a nearby table, a group of young people had their Bibles open. They were engaged in a lively conversation.

The feeling in my heart was muddy. In one way, I was repulsed. How could they be sitting over there talking about the Bible in public? Who did they think they were?

But I also felt a measure of jealousy. What did they see in that book that was worthy of conversation? What did they know that I didn’t. I considered myself a Christian but had almost zero Biblical knowledge. I believed in God, that would suffice, right?

This is a place where we seek truth - around the dinner table

This is one of the places where we talk about truth – around the dinner table

Since giving my life to Christ about 15 years ago and by that I mean repenting of my sins and accepting Jesus as my Savior, my quest for Truth is nearly insatiable. I was a strident, abortion rights feminist, angry, confused blasphemer and that’s just for starters.

My idea about truth was to cherry-pick and make my own. Talk about muddy! But don’t think that I suddenly considered myself perfect. Far from it. I still goof up. I do, all the time. But where I find Truth isn’t from the world, it’s from The Word.

photo 10

Here’s what the boys found on the chalk board recently. It opened up great family conversation.

We have a Brazilian exchange student staying with us for the school year. The Lord has opened up many opportunities for conversation between the Hubs, my youngest olive shoot and Chico. Many nights during dinner time, we sit around the table and discuss Truth. The Bible is open and we find daily application to the Truth found within. We talk about real, honest and relevant things and connect it all with the source of all truth.

I’d love to hear what you think about the word truth. I’m also curious to know what you think when you see someone reading the Bible. It’s ok if you have a different opinion than mine, I’ve probably felt something similar along my spiritual path.

5minutefridayThis post is inspired by super cool people who all write about one specific word for just five minutes each Friday! Check it out here.

Darkness and light

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On Sunday, I had a dream. I was crying in the dream. When I woke up, I was still crying. The attractive sleep mask I wear to bed was damp with tears.

It was another sad reality. The Lord is the only one who can help us manage our sorrow and pain.

A test that was performed. It was heartbreaking to see these results.

A test that was performed. It was heartbreaking to see these results.

My waking hours have been anguished. Over a month has passed since we have seen my father-in-law. He has been diagnosed with moderate vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s. My brother-in-law lied to us about having Dad come visit him for a vacation and now he’s saying he wants to stay with him. Appallingly, he denies that anything is wrong with his father.

Now isolated by his oldest son from all the rest of the family, we are told he and his son want no further contact from us. After four years of welcoming him into our home and heart, it is a devastating blow to our family. How can Dad just walk away?

When we have attempted to call the available phone numbers, it is apparent the person on the other line abruptly hangs up the phone. This has been the case as each one of our children have also tried to speak to their grandpa. Can you even imagine?

2013-07-22 19.31.31-1“Um, ok,” you say as you continue to read this post.

Why is she sharing this?” you wonder, understandably so. 

(Btw, the Hubs has given me approval to share).

As bad as the situation is (and it’s bad), God is doing something.

Several years ago, I sliced my finger on a can of mushrooms. We were  getting ready to eat dinner. The Hubs was outside grilling chicken when I screamed for his help.

The cut was so deep on my middle finger, it was obvious a little band-aid would not suffice. We rushed to the hospital and there was a concern that I had sliced through bone or a tendon. When I went to the emergency room, grasping my finger to control the bleed, at one point, the physician needed to see the cut. Reluctantly, fearfully, I opened my bent finger to let him look inside.

This is what is happening to me right now.

A wound is being torn open and examined. I am both nauseated and afraid at extent of my injury.

As my finger was stitched up, I knew it would mend.

In this case, the Great Physician looks tenderly at my wound. He sees the gushing blood and the pain. Frankly, I’m utterly woozy and dizzy from the rejection and suffering. Then I am reminded, His loving arms surround me/my husband/my tender-hearted olive shoots.

I’m someone who has had her fair share of “men” issues. This crisis  reminds of the many other men who have rejected my affections. Some of them never deserved my affection in the first place.

Others, had a logical reason to love me…

I was related to them.

Yet there still was and is great disappointment in how that love wasn’t and isn’t manifested towards me. I imagine some of you might empathize.

I sometimes wonder, does this earthly father miss us? Does he ever think fondly of his other two sons, his five grandchildren and his adorable great-grandchild? Does he remember the meals I prepared for him, the holidays we shared, the care and kindness we extended to him? Is all of this happening because of two horrid degenerative terminal brain diseases or is there yet another evil force at work? In a lucid moment, is it possible that he feels a measure of regret for walking away from us? Does my brother-in-law, this urchin of a man, ever sense guilt and regret over his actions?

The answers to these questions are unknown. I can speculate and pray. Some of them might be revealed to me but it’s doubtful.

So I lean on this TRUTH.

2013-06-01 11.02.08-11. The Lord will heal me eventually. This jagged wound, it will take time to recover. He chose to open this wound and clean it out. We will grieve but we will press on.

2. God is my Hope. He is my lovebeam.

3. Our suffering is not in vain. Though it’s hard to imagine, the Lord will accomplish a purpose through this dark trial.

4. My Heavenly Father is the only man who has ever been 100% reliable, dependable and trustworthy.

5. The Hubs, my three olive shoots are currently tied for second place.

6. The Lord will not waste this hurt. His specialty is restoration. What was meant for evil, God will use for good.

7. There are blessings mixed in and I must be attentive to them.

This beautiful song sums it up. The tears keep falling. Thank you for praying for my family. ❤

Today I ate two donuts, don’t judge – a daughter-in-law’s journey

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Take that Alzheimer's!

Take that Alzheimer’s!

Before 9 am,

I had an argument with my husband

I had an argument with my freckle-face, orange haired olive shoot

Contacted the 24 hour help/crisis line at the Alzheimer’s Association, again

I stressed about an impending, almost certain family conflict regarding care management of our loved one with a brain disease

I learned my ministry-minded middle’s bike had been stolen in Chicago

And I had not one but TWO donuts

A Boston creme and a marble chocolate/vanilla swirl one

You got a problem with that?

I didn’t think so.

Then I called my mom who listened without judgment

And I texted a friend who met me for lunch

And biked nearly 12 miles

While sweating

And talking to Jesus

Because I’m talented like that

Today's truism. This is the note attached to the container of cookies. I'm only showing the note NOT the cookies!

Today’s truism. This is the note attached to the container of cookies. I’m only showing the note NOT the cookies!

My friend greeted me with warm hugs, a pretty smile

And a container full of fresh, home- made cookies

Which are stowed away in the freezer

In an undisclosed location

I felt slightly normal

Then I cleaned up around the house

Began marinating the ginger/lime chicken

Patched things up between Ike and me

And the Hubs and me

Continued reading Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s too.

Tonight I just want to feel the Hub’s arms around me

And enjoy the refreshing circulation of our new air conditioner

Maybe go for another bike ride

I’d also like to laugh

And kind of marvel at the way the Lord got us through another day

And probably eat a cookie too

Shhhhh…

Five minute Friday – beautiful

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A few members of my beautiful, imperfect, in process people I call my family.

A few members of the beautiful, imperfect, in-process people I call my family.

Beautiful doesn’t mean perfect –

Cindy Crawford is outwardly perfect

Cindy W-H (me) isn’t…

So when I reflect upon my life

There are plastic times when things on the outside might have looked good or better than they do now

But they were hideous had you looked much deeper

Families are beautiful but a lot of effort

Searching for sparkly pretties in a heap of ashes – much effort required

It is messy work, I have been warned

The pastor said something the other day that has resonated with me profoundly this week –

Here's something imperfect and not so beautiful. I had a few unbeautiful moments when I discovered this in my fridge.

Here’s something imperfect and not so beautiful = sideways milk. I confess I had a few unbeautiful moments when I discovered this in my fridge…

Just remember the people you are with, they are in- process too.

And he said this too, which I wrote down because it sounded so good.

Life for those who love Jesus is not like a Russian novel that just ends in horror and despair. It has a purpose that will work together for good, the Lord’s process. “Remember,” my pastor said, “that He’s strip-mining you, He’s designed us to live through struggles, pain, confusion, weakness and suffering. Your relationship to God determines the meaning of your life.”2013-07-04 10.45.52

Something beautiful will result for those who love Jesus – we belong in the next world. This isn’t science fiction. This is promise.

Father, I seek to appreciate the beautiful, imperfection of this earthly home and can’t wait to see all the treasures and sparklies in the world ahead.

5minutefridayThank you Five Minute Friday for giving me a chance to write about this word! Check it out and join the writing explosion!

Why God gave me these kids

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One of the sweetest pictures in my collection.

One of the sweetest pictures in my collection.

“Oh, God, why did you give me these children???”

I have said these words

More than once

There have been times when I have exclaimed this in a most screaming doleful and lamenting tone.

“OH GOD, WHY did you give me THESE children???

Those moments when mothering is troubling and my spirit is weary. When Nate screamed bloody murder in the bathtub for no reason at all or when Aaron threw handfuls of dirt on the carpet after repeatedly telling him to leave the dirt in the planter. When Ike flew into an angry tirade and it felt like body parts were exploding on the walls. And those are just a few of the stories I could share.

I suppose my OS have their own share of meltdown moments from me as well but we’re not going to talk about that. They can get their own blog and share those stories one day!

But in much larger measure, I have inquired of the Lord,family5

oh God, why did you give ME these children?”

And I can’t say I have totally figured this out but I do see a theme and hear an answer when I enter the holy places of the Lord.

“They brought you closer to Me.” This is the refrain which resonates the most true.

With each successive olive shoot, my need for Jesus became clear. Here’s what I mean.

Nate

Nate

Nate taught me celebration. He was the toe-headed boy who began walking at eight months and wrote the words “hallelujah” in a prayer journal in elementary school. He is my adventurous, always-looking-for-a-challenge child currently plodding away at Ranger School.

Aaron danger boyMy middle Aaron has been used by the Lord to instruct me on the value of submission. As a toddler, it was apparent we were well on our way to raising an absolutely adorable jerk. We had to implement structure and discipline into our home. When he bit into the face of the daycare director’s granddaughter like she was a hamburger at Bull City Burger, we knew something had to give.

wh2202And Ike, oh, my soul, my adorable, orange hair, freckle face OS, he is God’s lesson in absolute dependence on the Lord. The boy who nursed just on one side, pushed his food away as a toddler as if he had been served a bowl of salty mush, Ike has rocked my world in ways I never dreamed. He is ornery and tender-hearted, stubborn as a zit on a middle-age woman and contrite in spirit to the point where it brings me to tears.

Without each of my children, I’m not sure I would know Jesus. Thankfully I’ll never know! God placed each one of my olive shoots in my life to give me life eternally! The Hubs and I couldn’t do this family thing on our own with any measure of success without Him.ikebball2

What about you? Have you ever wondered the same thing about your children? Why did God give you your babies? I’d love to hear!

Five minute Friday – view

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Straight hair, glasses, this was the re-take picture sophomore year!

Straight hair, glasses, this was the re-take picture sophomore year!

Gulp.

Etched into my memory is the stunningly gorgeous popular girl who looked into the mirror in the high school bathroom and let out a disgusted, “UGH! as she peered into the glass.

I was standing beside her.

Contact lenses, perm, junior year and still on that struggle bus!

Contact lenses, perm, junior year and still on that struggle bus!

If that girl was ugly, what did that mean about me? If she let out a mighty gulp, what should my response be for the creature that was looking back at me?

Pimples, fake perm, flat-chested, family problems, low on the social scale, I didn’t have a chance.

My view of myself is very negative though many people might find that hard to believe. They think that a sassy, pink-haired women would like what she sees but they are wrong.

I’m still the woman who looks in the mirror with disgust

Sometimes horror

I get in trouble with the men in my family when I inform them about my level of hideousness. They yell at me when I try to convince them that I am especially yucky. Somehow they do not see all the imperfections that make me at times even feel like I need to apologize for being out in public.

Reconciling God’s view of me with what I see, how I feel, making sense of life’s ugliness appears to be a painful, lifelong process. Ugh.IMG_9328

I’m not expecting you to try to convince me of my inner beauty, my physical at- tractiveness, that’s not the purpose of this post.

I wouldn’t believe you anyway.

I’m just being honest and I suspect I’m not alone. God has a lot of work to do and his view of me is what should really matter.

5minutefridayOk, so that was immensely painful. “Thank you Five minute Friday“?

That touchy subject of mothers-in-law, what can we do differently and better?

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Thanks to all who read Hannah’s guest blog post about being a good mother-in-law.

Old girl speaks to her younger self and to anyone else who cares to listen

Old girl speaks to her younger self and to anyone else who cares to listen

It was one of my most popular posts.

But it’s interesting.

While many seemed to read the post, there were a lot less comments. I’m not blaming anyone. I get it.

You see, my own MIL relationship was complex. If blogging existed many years ago, I might have added my own stories. But my MIL Ruth died 17 years ago, my stories are limited, now seasoned with time.

In the bathtub prior to her passing, I wrote my MIL’s eulogy and on that cold February day in a Lutheran church in Peru, Indiana, I attempted to speak words of appreciation through my grief. I loved her and still miss her. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.

As the mama of three olive shoots and no daughters, I want to do it right. I realize it’s not totally up to me but I want to do all I can to facilitate the relationship.

Sadly, many women even in the church, women that I love and admire in many ways, they roll their eyes when speaking about their MILs. It’s like picking an open, festering sore when I ask for advice. Such hurt and pain. Godly, Jesus loving ladies speak with disdain about their MIL and this prospect frightens me. What can I do differently?

Wedding day with a very large headpiece!

So here’s my stab at what I wish my older Cindy would have told the new bride Cindy. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

1. Remember your mother-in-law is trying – She wants you to love her and like her. She’s going to make some mistakes, so will you. Remember this lady birthed your husband and she wants to be in your life.

2. Don’t take everything so personally – It’s hard being a new bride but don’t make

Ruth was a pretty bride! Love seeing old pictures!

things more complicated. Maybe she wasn’t trying to make a nasty dig at you, maybe it was not a poorly veiled hint that you are in- competent.  Give her a break.

3. Ask her to help you with something – Allow yourself to obtain instruction. Here’s an example, my MIL knew how to use a pressure cooker, she bought me one but I never used it. She bought me a cast iron pan which I really wish I would have kept. Let her assist you in something, it’s not a sign of weakness.

One of the few pictures we have of Ruth holding Aaron.

One of the few pictures we have of Ruth holding Aaron.

4. Listen to her life story – She has some wisdom. Appreciate the journey she has traveled. Glean from her victories and sorrows. It will give you a glimpse into her heart when you know her story.

5. Apologize – You’re not always wrong, she’s not always right. Extend grace and when there is a struggle, talk it over in a loving manner if possible. Your husband will be blessed that he wasn’t put in the middle. Your MIL wants your approval, you probably crave hers – MILs can be insecure.

6. Thank her – The Hubs, then only a fiancé was napping in the family room. I was sitting on the shag carpet, she on that miserable, uncomfortable couch when I said, “Thank you for raising such a good man. Although he will be my husband, I want you to know, he will always be your son.” I meant that. It was my intention to be the wife, not replace her as another mother. Ew.

My widowed father-in-law lives nearby and occasionally I will still thank him for raising such a good man, I want him to know how much I appreciate the way the Hubs turned out.

Truth is, life was difficult for my mother-in-law. It was hard seeing her struggle.

Truth is, life was difficult for my mother-in-law. It was hard seeing her struggle.

7. Pray for her – I married her son prior to my spiritual conversion to Christianity. This presented a problem when my MIL overstepped her boundaries in a very sensitive area of our lives. It didn’t go well and that’s putting it mildly. I remember searching for Bible verses to use in responding to a foolish letter she had sent me. Dumb. I was hurt and she shouldn’t have gone there. I wish I had prayed for her more. She needed it in many ways.

8. Encourage your husband to communicate with her – I must say this was something I was skilled at even early in our marriage. I wanted a good relationship with my in-laws and prodded the Hubs to contact his parents regularly. When Ruth was fighting terminal cancer, I urged him to go home often even when though we had a temperamental newborn. I don’t regret that aspect of our relationship whatsoever.

This is my partial list, what first came to my mind. Teach me, friends! I want to learn!

Questions – So what am I missing? What else is there to learn? Do you identify with any of my reflections?