Wednesday, September 24, 2014

to hope or not to hope...that is the question

Yesterday as I was sitting at the intersection of Chestnut and El Camino,
I had a thought pop into my head that caught me completely off guard.
I wish that Scott and I could own a house.
There. I've said it out loud. That makes it real.
This is one of those dreams that I don't ever talk about since it is
such an impossibility.
We live on the San Francisco peninsula which means real estate is at a premium.
The cute little 1,400 square foot home that we rent would sell for a little under
a million dollars.
Not many church planters or writers that I know can spring for that.
Talking about owning a home here is crazy, miracle kind of talk.
There is a proverb that says, "Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick."
For those of you who have hoped for something for a really long time
and have not seen that hope come to pass, you know this to be true.
Well, I don't like being heart sick.
So I have decided NOT to hope for a house. So I won't be disappointed
I just don't let myself think of it. At all. Ever.
So when that dream thought flitted across my mind,
it was accompanied by an immediate self rebuke.
I just started talking out loud to Jesus in the car.
"Jesus, you have blessed us so much. We have all that we need and more.
Your generosity is overwhelming."
And then this was followed by a flood of guilt for wanting something I don't need.
I have a home when so many people don't.
"Forgive me for not being content with what I have."
And in that moment, I had the thought, which I think was the Holy Spirit
because I don't usually think that clearly. And the thought was this...
God made me to want more. 
On purpose.
He is the one who gives us hopes and dreams.
Not to be mean.
Not in a "Na-na-na-na-na-na! You can't have this!" kind of way.
But because hopes and dreams are the currency that He deals in.
Just ask Abraham and Joseph and Hannah.
Fear and doubt and denial...those are the currency someone else deals in.
No hope or dream is too big or too small for the God who loves us the most.
But one thing is sure... the hopes and dreams that I try to tuck away and deny and ignore,
they will NEVER come to pass.
I don't need to obsess about them.
I need to place them in the hands of the One who can do something about them.
Our God  is a God that loves to do the impossible.
Or I should say, loves to do what we think is impossible.
There is no impossible as far as he is concerned.
He loves surprising his kids with his goodness and mercy
in ways greater than they could ever imagine.
Doing miracles in the war riddled regions of the Middle East,
and the crowded back alleys of India, reflects his heart.
Doing miracles along the coast lands of California...
reflect his heart, too.
He is unlimited in his greatness.
He power is unmatched.
His resources are endless.
His love covers this earth and pins it among the stars.
His compassion has no boundaries and it echoes down through the ages shouting
with each rising of the sun,"I AM HERE!"
His mercy floods both the plains of Nebraska and the lavender fields of Tuscany.
His grace cannot be contained.....not within nations or planets or galaxies.
We cannot not fathom the depth or width or breadth of his majesty.
And this great one, this holy one,
He holds us in the very center of his palm.
And He will withhold no good thing from us.
This is the promise He has given us as his children.
He is the God of miracles and healing and deliverance and unspeakable joy.
All He asks is that we give him the WHOLE of our lives.
The struggles and victories, the successes and failures, the wants and needs,
The great joys and deep sorrows...
And the hidden hopes and silent dreams that we are afraid to think about let alone
speak out.
And then He asks one more thing...
that we remember who HE is and that we not make him....
Because He is anything but that.
So yesterday in my car at the corner of Chestnut and El Camino,
I unearthed a buried hope and sent it winging to heaven,
giving it back to the One who gave it to me, so He can do with it what He wants.
I have a whole list of hopes that I am unleashing today.
Prayers for Baby Moody #2, a petition for peace in Gaza,
that bountiful food and a new pair of shoes will find its way to
our sweet sponsored child  in Zimbabwe,
safety and provision for our refugee brothers and sisters in the Middle East
who are scared and on the run, unrelenting comfort for a grieving family in Missouri,
a good day for Scott and the boys, and the discipline to write another chapter.
Jesus promised to do more than we could possibly hope for or imagine.
I'm hoping big today.
And do you know what the craziest thing is?
Once you start putting your hopes in is kind of hard to stop.
what are you waiting for?

Monday, September 15, 2014

pumpkin sugar cookies because it is my mom's birthday

Today is my mom's birthday.
Happy Birthday, Mom!
I wish I was with her.
But I am celebrating from across the miles.
She is the best mom a girl could want.
I am in no way biased.
Besides loving me and my siblings and my dad like crazy,
she has made the world better just by being her.
She is creative, thoughtful, strong, loyal, funny and she bakes a mean apple pie.
When we almost lost her a year ago, one thing was abundantly clear
we needed more years with my mom.
And God in his mercy, answered our prayers.
Having her with us makes each birthday, each mother's day, each Christmas seem even
more special...if that is possible.
So in honor of my mom's mad baking skills, I am posting this recipe that I
found on Lauren's Latest.
Soft Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies.
Can you say yum? Because they are!
The glaze is addictive...pumpkin goodness.
I found my kids trying to lick the extra glaze off the plate.
They were a hit last night at kid's church.
Try a batch and invite your mom over to share them or
if your mom lives far away, eat a plate in her honor,
then call her and tell her that you love her.
Because moms are the best.

Friday, September 12, 2014

the new plan

It's funny to me how I seem to go through seasons in my life.
How I see Jesus move and stand amazed and think to myself,
"That was fantastic! Now, Jesus, let's talk because I really think if you want to make
an impact what you should do is this...."
And I give Him my spiel about how and why He should carry out my plans.
The truth of the matter is, I want to bend his power to my will.
I want him to move where and how I want him to.
Now you may be thinking, "Sue, that is crazy lightening bolt kind of talk,
you had better be careful what you say."
But isn't that what we all really want? For God to do what we want him to do?
We ask for his forgiveness. We beg for his mercy. We stand on his grace and his grace alone.
And than we think, "Great! Now I will take it from here....and I have a few pointers on how I
would like You to arrange my life for me, Oh Creator of the Universe."
Well, I am finding that really doesn't work.
When you ask Jesus to be Lord of your life...he kind of wants to be Lord of your life.
He calls the shots. He clears the path. He makes a way. He heals your heart. He gives you peace.
And you? You are not in charge. You are the recipient of his glory and goodness and strength.
You get to experience a huge way of living because the God that is working on your behalf is
the God who shapes stars with his words and breathes galaxies into existence.
Lately...I have been trying to be the Lord of my life.
And I have this picture in my mind of Jesus sitting back on his heels taking in my chaos and
my sorry attempts of controlling my circumstances and my astounding lack of resources and
saying, with a kind of cheeky grin, "So how is that working for you?"
Of course he knows it is absolutely NOT working for me and mostly I am a wreck.
But He is waiting. For me.
He is waiting for me to turn over my petty plans and my deep concerns to Him so that He can
do what He needs to do.
And this past week as I have been wrestling with life, I have had the thought over and over again,
"Your prayers are too small."
I think it is the Holy Spirit trying to get my attention.
I am asking the God who can make molten lava spew at his command
and shift tectonic plates with a snap of his fingers for good deals on groceries.
And it is not that He doesn't care about groceries or that he can't move on the hearts
of those who print coupons...He does. He delights in the details of our lives.
But He wants to give us our daily bread and more.
It's almost as if He is challenging me, "Give me a prayer that I can sink my teeth into."
When my prayers are small, I limit Him with what I am believing for.
Why am I not upping the ante?
When did I stop believing that He wanted to do the miraculous in my life?
Why am I not giving him the opportunity to do more than I could ever possibly hope for or imagine?
The truth is this...when I am in charge of my life is small.
When I let Jesus have at my life....even the sky isn't the limit....the possibilities are endless.
So I have a new plan.
It is this.
I don't have a plan.
I am asking Jesus to let me in on his plan.
I am asking him to give me his dreams, his thoughts, his hopes
and to do whatever He wants with my life.
I have no idea what is going to happen but I have a sneaking hunch it's about to get good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

it is lord of the flies over here

There has been a streak of orneriness running through the boys lately.
They have taken to teasing and punching...which I am assuming directly correlates
with the surge of testosterone in the 13 year old's and the 11 year old's rapidly growing bodies.
The 8 year old has learned, for the sake of survival, to hit fast and run.
He has also found that if he repeats everything that his older brothers say
in a nasally taunting voice, he can almost get their heads to explode without having to touch them.
It's not pretty over here.
Hearing one of them say, "I don't like you" or punch their brother in the back of the head,
makes my head explode and leads me to ask my children the life affirming question,
"What is wrong with you?"
It is a question that invites the answer that something is definitely wrong with them and hints
that some inherent mean gene has been unleashed in their physiology lately.
We know that the children will at some point need therapy
because their father's response to their violence is not much better.
When one of them is crying or hurt he responds by saying,
"Shake it off."
Clearly, we are doing some gold medal parenting over here.
But I asked Will the question the other day,
"Why in the world are you boys so mean to each other?"
He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Because we are brothers."
He looked at me with very solemn blue eyes and said,
"Mom, weren't you ever mean to your brother and sisters?"
To which I answered, "We are talking about you....not me, buddy."
Because when he asked me that my own Lord of the Flies childhood flashed before my eyes.
I didn't want to tell him that I couldn't actually recall a time that
me and my siblings were nice to each other.
I mostly recall the time that I scraped my sister's face with a Mickey Mouse nightlight
and sat on my brother tickling him until he screamed and cried.
And then there was the time that my sister threw a rake at me and broke the garage
window and my brother kidney punched me so hard that it knocked the wind out of me.
There is that.
So I am guessing that the inherent mean gene comes from my gene pool.
With an additional kick from their father who used to chase his sister
around the house with a knife when they were home alone after school.
You might want to shoot up some prayers in our direction right now while you are reading.
But lately I have seen a hint of future things to come.
The other day when the 13 year was upset about not getting to stay home by himself,
the 8 year old pressed a dollar into his hand and said,
"This is so you can buy a treat when you get to the store."
And the 13 year old has invited his brothers to sleep in his room every night since school
started, so they can talk and laugh together before they go to sleep.
I am hoping as the years roll by, that the violent gene will recede and in its place will be a
solid foundation of friendship.
A bedrock that these boys can lean on when life gets hard and grown up.
It is what I have found with my brother and sisters.
I just had lunch with my sister yesterday. We like each other after all these years.
Even though she tormented me with a dead rat
and I stabbed her in the head with a pencil decades ago.
Maybe if I give it twenty years, there is hope for my boys after all.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

homework...your joy and mine

photo by Nathaniel Watson
We weathered our biohazard summer of salmonella and the boys are back in school now.
We are in our second week and we are starting to look less shell shocked over the
fact the we ALL have to get up AT the same time while it is STILL dark outside.
The end of summer always comes as a shock to the system.
The free spirit of summer play gives way to the rigor of schoolwork.
The commands of "Go find something to do" and "Go outside and play" have given way to
the re-introduction of MHNC....
Mom's Homework Nagging Chatter
1. Where is your homework?
2. Are you doing your homework?
3. Come sit down and do your homework.
4. Come back inside and do your homework.
5. Nobody likes doing homework but we all have to do it anyway.
6. I know it doesn't seem like I have homework since I am not writing anything
but you should know that whenever you have homework...I have homework.
7. Is your homework finished?
8. Let me check your homework.
9. I know you think that this answer is correct but I am pretty sure the 12 + 15 + 7 does
not equal 9.
10. I know I am not your teacher but I still know how to least I think I do.
11. Don't you feel better now that you have finished your homework? I know I do.
12. Put your homework in your backpack.
13. Don't stuff it in your backpack. Put it neatly in your folder.
14. Do not lay your homework on top of your backpack put it inside your backpack.
15. Whose homework is on top of the toilet?
And we can't forget the ever popular answer to the call from school the next morning...
16. What do you mean you forgot your homework?
I know I am not alone...moms and dads all over the country are wiping hidden
tears at the fact that we are all doing home work again.
But we can do this. We did it last year. We can do it again.
Feel free to use any of this inspiring encouragement with your own
children as you conquer the battle of nightly homework.
And then eat a bar of chocolate when the homework is done.
Because you deserve it....and science fair is just around the corner.

Friday, August 1, 2014

trust is a great alternative to freaking out

Post #7 in the Octennial Blog Celebration - share on FB or post on your blog for a chance to win a Tired Supergirl book!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

trust is a great alternative to freaking out

This past year I wrote a book on control issues.
Most people write books because they are experts on the subject.
I write because it is part of my journey of following Jesus.
If I am on expert on anything it is that I am an expert on inner struggle.
Not really something that you would put on a resume.
But I don't think I am so different from most Christ followers.
We triumph...we fall...we get back up and Jesus helps us dust off our knees...
and we continue on the journey of following, listening, questioning, worshiping
and rejoicing, asking him to shape our lives into something that glorifies him.
It is a mixed bag. But it is the only bag I want.
It is the only journey that leads to freedom and love and redemption.
So back to control issues.
It seems that in this season in my life, Jesus is once again gently prying my
fingers off of my own life. Asking me to trust him.
Reminding me that only he knows what is coming next.
Pulling me towards him. Trying to quell the anxious flailing that is going on
in my spirit when I don't know what the future holds.
I have tried to remind him,
"I wrote a book about this...letting go, trusting you, getting free...remember?"
And it seems he is saying, "Yep....I I want to you live it."
He is asking me to live in a place of uncertainty and anchor myself in who he is
rather than try and rearrange my circumstances.
He is asking me to wait on his direction instead barging ahead on a frantic
path of anxiety.
And you know what? It's hard.
It seems that I am incredibly human after all.
I don't bend to his will or words so easily.
But I read this this morning,

"For I am the Lord Your God, who stirs up the sea, causing its waves to roar.
My name is the Lord Almighty.
And I have put my words in your mouth and hidden you safely within my hand.
I set all the stars in space and established the earth.
I am the one who says to Israel, "You are mine!" (Isaiah 51:15-16)

Why would I choose to wrench myself free from the one who so gently holds
my heart and life in his palm?

Who am I to say what is the best or the greatest or the right path for me...
when the one who calls me to follow him has laid the foundations of the earth
and breathed life into all of humanity?

How can I not, one more time,
turn my face towards the one who has set the sun in the heavens and named the stars?

So this morning, I'm taking a deep non-controlling breath and saying to Jesus,
"You are right. I am yours. Do your thing. I will trust you."
Even when I don't have a clue about what is coming around the next corner.
Or maybe...
especially because I don't have a clue about what is coming around the next corner.
And because according to the One who established the earth...
He's got this, too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

meet mrs. cranky pants

Post #6 in the Octennial Blog Celebration - share on your blog or facebook for a chance
to win a tired supergirl book!

meet mrs. cranky pants

So after a 10 day lapse of reality (vacation), 
the Aughtmon clan flew back home and was immediately immersed in real living.
Re-entry is never pretty.
Work started the next day for both Scott and I with teacher in-service week, 
followed shortly by all three boys beginning a new school year. 
This resulted in some of us being very tired and quite possibly not our normal chipper selves.
After my first day with a new pre-school class of 3 and 4 year olds, 
I fell asleep around 7:30 trying to go over homework with Will on the couch....
not my finest hour as a mother.
When I dragged myself off the couch to find the children running a-muck, 
the living room in a shambles and homework unfinished, 
I may or may not have started barking out mean-spirited orders like,
"Get your clothes out for tomorrow!"
"Pick up your socks...all 17 of them that you have thrown on the floor!"
"Brush your teeth!"
"For the love of Mike, get in bed!"
As Scott caught sight of me, hair askew, wild-eyed, he asked me,
"Are those new pants you have on?" 
"What?" I said, caught off guard.
"Are those the new pants that you got in Colorado?"
"Yes," I said.
"Are those cranky pants? They seem like cranky pants. 
We would like you to take those cranky pants back to the store 
and get a pair of nice pants instead."
And of course, I had to start laughing since, it did seem like I was, indeed, wearing some very cranky pants.
(I am thankful that my husband has grace for me and my pants...I really am.)
It seems that my cranky pants were paired with some angry socks and an unforgiving t-shirt.
How was I to know that my clothing could be so volatile?
I told Scott, 
"I am sorry I am so cranky...I am very tired...I think I should go to bed."
Scott re-assured me that he also thought I should go to bed. 
Both he and the boys would love for me to go to bed.
They could carry on quite happily without me.
So I went. But first I put my cranky pants in the laundry.
I'm hoping that a good double rinse cycle and a tumble dry will turn them into
nice, friendly pants.
I may need to use some strong detergent.