Kitchen on Wheels

One especially crazy weekend I made fruit salad in the car.  I had overextended our family with too many commitments.  At this point in the weekend we were on our way to a family function.  My contribution was fruit salad.  With barely enough time to go to the store for the ingredients, I was going to be hard pressed to assemble the side dish before arriving at the party.  We were running late…as usual.  I knew everyone would be eating by the time we arrived.  It was bad enough that we would be late; I didn’t also want to be unprepared.

 

Fortunately, we had a 45 minute drive and I just happened to have a paring knife in the car.

 

(I’ll let that sink in for a moment.)

 

So, I proceeded to chop strawberries, kiwi and grapes while my husband drove.  (You may be saying,  “You didn’t make the fruit salad AND drive?”)  I am a multi-tasking, overachiever.  But I left the driving to my husband.

 

As he drove and I cut I had time to think.  I knew there must be some life lesson that needed to be realized. (I did tell you I’m an over-achiever, right?  I can’t just leave it alone without looking for the moral to the story.)  And, I’ve been a follower of Jesus long enough to know that He will use the silly, little stuff of life to make us more like Him.  I also knew that others who passed us on the highway must have either pitied me (fellow-mothers), thought I was losing it (women yet to be mothers), or didn’t even notice (men).  My husband was part of the last group. He barely made a comment about my traveling kitchen.  (This was one time when ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ was an unfortunate thing. It really would have come in handy.)  Maybe my wise husband was choosing to be discerning and not row into unpredictable waters.  I’m not always kind and patient when questioned while under pressure.

 

So, anyway…a lesson.  Somewhere.  I guess on the surface it’s obvious, right?  Don’t try to do too much.  Use some wisdom in scheduling.  We really don’t have to do everything.  Why do we make that our goal?  Our ridiculous, totally impractical goal.  Some days I just can’t get it through my brain that I am not a super-mom.  And, uh, you’re probably not either. (Hugs.) With all the love I can muster…you don’t have it all together.  Can we be honest with each other?  Live real?  It’s so hard.  I know.  We want to appear put-together,our lives in order.

 

We are not, have never been and will not ever be super-moms.  It’s a lie and only creates anxiety.  You may be able to keep all your plates spinning for a time, but not forever.  I’ve tried.  So let’s choose wisely.   Set priorities.  When given a choice let’s decide if it’s in line with our priorities.  Learn to say no.   We’re on the same page, right?  We agree that we don’t have it all together?  I do know someone who does.  God.

 

It’s very simple.  Well, simply said, but harder to do.  Choose real, vulnerable weakness, so God’s strength will be obvious.  And this is when the lesson gets below the surface.  And, as with any other area of our lives, this isn’t something we’ll do once and it will stick.  It will take work.  Day by day.  Moment by moment.  But what freedom and joy there can be if we just grab onto this idea!  To shed the idea that we need to have it all together.  A little closer to that abundant life.  Not only will we make our lives more bearable, but those around us will breath a little easier.  Let’s chose what has eternal value, not over-commit and allow ourselves some vulnerability.

 

Oh, and, remember…it’s not safe to use a knife in a moving vehicle.

 

 

Freedom

flag

It struck me again yesterday.  How we are free.  We enjoy freedom in this country.  But that freedom was by no means free.  It came with a great cost…which continues to demand payment.  Our original freedom was secured hundreds of years ago by forefathers and fighters.  They gave their very lives.  And, today there are those who are still fighting.  The fight may not look the same, but a fight it is.  There are countless men and women who sacrifice comfort, time with family, and yes, their lives.

I want to take the time to stop and remember what a great cost has been paid for me to be free.  I pray that I never take it for granted.  That I never think I am just owed freedom.  So many people in this world do not have claim to the kind of freedom we experience day in and day out.

Still, there is an even greater freedom that I don’t want to leave out.  One that is available to everyone.  That freedom?  It is free to us.  No person can do anything to earn this freedom. The freedom I’m talking about is found only in Jesus.  Sin separates us from God, but in him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12)  “It’s important to keep in mind that salvation encompasses what God has done for us, not what we can do for Him. God has taken the initiative in His plan of redemption, reaching out to us through Christ.” (Focus on the Family)

Jesus.  He gave his life in exchange for our freedom.  That if we confess, repent and place our trust and faith in Him, we will be saved.  Free.  Free from being controlled by sin.  Free of eternal condemnation.  Free to live life eternally with God.

John 8:36  So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

2 Corinthians 3:17  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

But, we can’t take for granted this freedom either:  Galatians 5:13-14 says,  You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

As an American who is a follower of Jesus I have so much for which to be thankful!  Freedom abounds.  Paid with a price, for me.  One way we can show our gratitude is to be generous with our lives.  We may never fight a war or serve our country, but we can serve each other in our own realm of influence.  And, as Christians we are part of the Church (big C) and given a commission to “Go!”.  Tell the good news.  Help.  Serve. Love.  Live out your freedom well.

Friends Woven

God is good. He is good no matter our circumstances or feelings about them. A couple days ago a text caused some minor upheaval in my heart. Someone is making a decision I cannot control. It’s just that it wasn’t part of my plan. It affects things long term. A commitment unkept. A future uncertain. A dream for business and ministry on shaky ground. Yet, God knows this. He knew it before the text was even a thought in her mind.

Today my friend called. She just wanted to say she was thinking about me, our business too. Praying and planning and thinking. All while I was unknowing. God knew.  His Spirit prompted her to action.  The thinking, praying, calling. All part of His plan. And my heart? Blessed. Uplifted. Lighter. Joyful. And now, hopeful. Praise God for friends who pick up phones and speak life. Praise God for loving me well and prompting my friend to do the same.

One more reason to lean on Him. He knows me, loves me, acts on my behalf. I lean…

 

now

To live in the now.  Why is that so hard for us?  Tomorrow is not promised to us, yet we are always longing for what is next.  Yesterday is gone, never to return, and we can’t let it go.  Today is here.  It always is.  It is always Today.  Today I read a blog about a Sandy Hook mom who lost her daughter in a senseless shooting.  It hits me again…live in today.  Be in the moment.  Respond in ways that you would if you were judging based on hindsight.  A few times lately I’ve said to my husband, “When you’re on your death bed will you wish you had played more video games, etc.?”  Hoping to encourage him to choose time with our kids over meaningless activities.  Maybe I need to ask myself a similar question.  You know, just to keep my perspective.  I could get a tatoo…on your deathbed.  Hmm, maybe not.  What can I do to make it stick?  It seems no matter how many times I read or hear of a heart-tearing story it doesn’t stick.   To actually live in today, today?  Keep reading those stories.  Keep my heart softened to the fact that I don’t own next week, or my kids’ lives.  But, maybe it’s also a matter of forming new habits.  I’ve started making more of an effort to never answer someone without looking at them.  You do it too, right?  While sitting at the computer…doing dishes…reading…whatever the task.  Replying without turning your head.  What if we make eye contact for just that brief moment while saying yes or no?  It’s one more moment of connecting with our precious offspring.  It’s one small step in the right direction I think.  A new habit.  The repetition starts to make it stick.  Time grows us up.  I just want to get it before I’m not a mom to little ones anymore.  When I only have grown-up people calling me mom.  Thank you Alissa for sharing your heart.  For letting us see into such a deeply personal experience.  May we not dishonor the sharing by going away unchanged.

 

The Good, the Bad and the Unfriendly

What is most heavy on my heart today is my oldest, and her relationship with her friends.  She has been feeling left out over the Holiday break.  We homeschool, so she has struggled with not getting to see her friends very often.  It’s something I’ve not been so good at making happen.  I’m a homebody.  It doesn’t bother me to go a whole week without seeing friends.  Not her.  She thrives on that.  So, lately, she’s not been thriving so much.  She’s been sullen and sarcastic.  Rolling eyeballs nearly out of her head.  She is a talker.  She has talked to me about these things. How frustrated and confused she is over being left out. Two of her friends go to school together.  They have spent a lot of time together over break.  And, thanks to modern technology, my daughter has been audience to it all through Instagram.  ‘Oh, they’re at the mall…they had a sleepover…at the mall again.’  You get the idea.  She has made an effort to plan times to get together with them, but without success.  They’re busy.  And, they don’t include her in their plans.

I can relate…I have often wondered why my closest friends rarely include me in their social events.  They often talk about who they had over for dinner and who they met for coffee.  “What about me?”, I whimper inwardly.  Pity party, anyone?  Yup.  (At least I made that guest list.)  Ok, so I’m not so good at inviting friends over to my house.  I think we covered that earlier.  But, it can’t be that they aren’t good at it either.  I think we covered that, too.  It makes me question me.  Maybe they don’t like me.  What’s wrong with me?  (Cue tiny violins.)  Ok, so how can I use this to help my daughter learn through this?  How can I learn through this?  I’m sure there are several practical ways to deal with this, but that’s not where I want to go with this.  Let’s just focus on how this relates to our most important relationship.

So many times in my life I’ve seen evidence of God allowing (orchestrating?) uncomfortable/ sad/hard/________ situations that have greatly benefited my relationship with Him.  They have taught me to trust/love/obey/________ Him in all things.  Right now I’m reading through the Old Testament book of Jeremiah.  (Actually, I’m reading through the Bible, using a one year plan that will probably take two years to get through.)  In Jeremiah I’m noticing a theme:

Just because it’s bad doesn’t mean God didn’t ordain/allow it.

Just because it sounds good doesn’t mean God said it.

You see, the Israelites were up to their eyeballs in rebellion.  They had turned their backs on God over and over again.  Repeatedly in the Old Testament God uses his prophets to forewarn of impending really bad stuff if they do not repent and return.  Well, Jeremiah was doing the same thing as all the God-sent prophets before him.  Now, there were some prophets who were trying to sugarcoat the truth and some who were just telling lies…in God’s name.  Yikes! Jeremiah was speaking the ‘God honest truth’.  His word was one of destruction and despair.  It was hard to hear and would be even harder to endure.  The others?  Well, it sounded good; or at least better than what Jeremiah was saying, but it was not the truth.  It wasn’t God’s plan.   Just because it’s bad/hard/sad/uncomfortable doesn’t mean God isn’t in it.  And, just because it sounds good doesn’t mean God said it.

God and His ways do not fit nice and tidy in our file system of right and wrong/should and should not. Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “ This plan of mine is not what you would work out, neither are my thoughts the same as yours!  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts than yours.” (Living Bible)  That last part stands out to me this time.  It’s not the distance of the heavens from the earth that matters.  It is a plain and hard fact:  The heavens ARE higher than the earth.  My ways ARE higher than yours.  Plain and simple.

How can we argue with that.  He is so much wiser than we could ever hope to be. He desires good for us.  He has our best in mind.  Our Father says He knows what’s best for us.  I know I’ve told my kids that.  They don’t always like my answer, but I hope they’re learning that they can trust me.  I know that it’s me they come to when they are sad/frustrated/angry/_______.  We need to relate to our heavenly Father the same way.  I’ll encourage my girl to take it to him.  Let’s do that first.  He’ll give us the steps we need to deal with it.  Lean on Him, sweet one, lean on Him.

 

why ilene…why i lean

to lean:

1 a : to incline, deviate, or bend from a vertical position
   b : to cast one’s weight to one side for support
2    : to rely for support or inspiration
3    : to incline in opinion, taste, or desire
Why I lean.  I lean.  I can’t do this life alone.  Sometimes dealing with the day to day of relationships does me in.  Relationships are tough!  I lean on Him.  He is my strength.  He is my hope.  Who is He?  He is God, Jesus, Creator, Sustainer, Father…I could go on and on.  He goes by many names and  He remains the same.  I lean on Him.  I talk to Him.  (Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.  I Peter 5:7, NLT).  I tell Him all my woes and worries.  He hears.  He has kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book (Psalm 56:8, MSG).   In this I hope.  I lean.
Why Ilene?  I am writing this blog anonymously.  I needed a psuedo-name.  Really I just decided to choose a name that starts with the letter ‘I’.  Ilene means ‘light’.
Why anonymous?  I want to write without reserve.  Be honest.  Share my heart.  Share my life.  And in doing so I hope to shed light on the reality of life’s difficulties while pointing others to my source of strength and hope.  Call me shy or maybe even insecure.  Relationships are tough!  Did I say that already?  I am mom to several and wife to one, sister to 3, daughter to more than originally intended.  I love my loved ones but how they push me to my limits.  Just today I told Him, “I can’t do this!  Not today.”  Feelings of wanting to escape.  Days are many my husband is careless with words and tone that wound.  It’s dealing with these relationships that pushed me to seek an outlet…I love to write.  Oh, but I love them!  Protecting them proves me fierce.  It’s sheltering them from judgement by others that  caused me to decide on staying anonymous.  It’s being honest and open with others (because you’re facing tough relationships too, right?) that made me decide on a public outlet.  A safe place to vent and focus on Him.
Will you journey with me as I lean?
Love,
Ilene