Wednesday, September 24, 2008


This week I was able to really put into practice a lesson I learned early in our marriage. I learned to make my home a sanctuary.

Early in our marriage I had lots of ideas and expectations. Unfortunately, my husband is not a mind reader so any time he fell short of those expectations I made him miserable. When he had a stressful day at work and the boss kept him late was often the same night I prepared an elaborate meal and made plans for us to go out and do something fun. (That was when we had no kids, two jobs, time, and money) Anyway, the dinner would go cold, we'd have missed the movie, and the more minutes that ticked by, the worse it would get. Concern would turn to irritation, irritation to frustration, frustration to anger, and anger to bitterness. By the time he walked in the door, he didn't stand a chance. As you can imagine, after a couple of years, home wasn't a place he looked forward to at the end of the day. If his day at work was difficult, he knew that often his home would be worse. He would often stay later to avoid it which made me madder. When given the silent treatment, he often gave the silent treatment...probably just grateful that he wasn't being nagged to death. Irritation turned to frustration, frustration to anger, get the picture.

Thankfully, through a series of events, and often painful pruning, the Lord spoke to my heart. I learned that if I wanted things to change, I had to change. If I wanted my husband to look forward to coming home then home needed to offer something to look forward to. Our home needed to become a sanctuary. Look at the definition of sanctuary.

sanc·tu·ar·y [sangk-choo-er-ee] –noun, plural -ar·ies.
1.a sacred or holy place.
a.the Biblical tabernacle or the Temple in Jerusalem.
b.the holy of holies of these places of worship. especially holy place in a temple or church.
4.the part of a church around the altar; the chancel.
5.a church or other sacred place where fugitives were formerly entitled to immunity from arrest.
6.immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.
7.any place of refuge; asylum.

He needed a place of refuge, he needed immunity, he needed a place where he felt safe and loved and accepted. Those words did not describe our home back then. Now I'll just tell you, it didn't change overnight. After a week of holding my tongue, putting him first, letting the little stuff go...I wanted to give up. It didn't seem to be working. He was still coming home late. He was still withdrawn. Basically, he wasn't buying it. But the Lord reminded me I didn't need to change what I was doing in order to get my husband to change. I had to be who God called me to be as a wife regardless of how my husband responded. Besides, it had taken almost two years for me to teach him that home was not a refuge. It was not a place where he could feel safe and loved and accepted. He was definitely not getting immunity. It probably took another year for me to prove to him that things were going to be different. I would fail miserably some days...I still do. But as I take refuge in the Lord, our home is becoming a place of refuge for my husband.

These past couple of weeks have been rough. Work has been especially draining and challenging for him. But in those difficult moments in his day he called us for comfort. He looked to me for encouraging words and a listening ear. He couldn't wait to get home at night. Because this week when his nights were especially long, when his job was particularly frustrating, when it seemed he was being attacked on every front, he had a sanctuary.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Random Thoughts

I think it's called being an emotional eater and it's supposedly bad for you, but sometimes when your down and feeling low, you just want to eat something good. Mexican food and chocolate chip cookie dough is good for the soul in my opinion.

Is it just me, or does it seem like a backhanded compliment when a girl you graduated from high school with leaves you a note at that says, "Wow Tracy you've changed and look fantastic! I had to click your THEN pic to make sure it was you."

For the first time in my adult life I am actually feeling the effects of a "bad economy". Teacher/coach salaries didn't increase at the same rate as gas prices. I can actually imagine a little bit what it was like to wait in bread lines. We're not going to starve by any means but why does our area have NO gas?

I volunteered at the First United Methodist consignment sale today. I don't usually do consignment sales because it's not worth the work but I made myself do it for Christmas shopping money (see above random thought). I was helping sort things when it was over. There's actually something therapeutic about putting the clothes in number order and then stacking them neatly underneath the consignor's numbers around the room. Bringing order to so much chaos was surprisingly satisfying. In one small corner of the world, everything is as it should be...and I made it that way.

I always read magazines from back to front. Why save the best for last? You might not get there. Look at any magazine table of contents and you'll find the article you're looking for is probably somewhere in the last third of the magazine.

It seems to make no difference what time I put the girls to bed. Whether it's 8:00p.m. or 10:00p.m. they will wake up on the dot at 6:00a.m. However, the bedtimes seem to have a profound effect on me.

I'm thankful that pasta is so cheap. It's one of my favorites. Everyone in my family loves it. It cooks up quick. You can add almost anything to it. Variety baby. And it's soooo cheap!

Imagine your husband does his job while thousands of people watch and judge. Imagine they feel free to comment on everything he says and does even though they don't know anything about the intricacies of a job he is highly qualified to do and at which they would fail miserably. Imagine they even yell out rude comments in front of you and your children. Imagine he has a bad month and they print his sales stats in the paper. Now imagine his total job success rides on 14-17 year old boys doing exactly what they're supposed to do. This is my life.

Pink used to be one of my least favorite colors but now that I have two little girls, I love it. I also used to hate blue cheese dressing, green olives, and cottage cheese but now I like them all. A lot. Wonder why?

Why is it that no matter how tightly or how loosely I wrap the cord around the vacuum cleaner hooks, it always turns out that the plug ends on a curve so I can't secure it?

L.A. Confidential is a great movie. Even at 7:30 in the morning.

You know how sometimes you drive all the way from the grocery store to home and you can't remember one thing about the drive? Like you don't even know how you got there because you were on "automatic"? I have entire days like that.

If "all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players", in my scene, I'm surrounded by the most talented, beautiful, amazing cast. I wouldn't trade a single one of you.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lost and Found

A couple of months ago I lost my car keys. I have a little hook that I'm supposed to hang them on whenever I walk in the door but with two little girls, I often end up carrying someone to bed, rushing someone to the potty, or any number of things and my keys end up lying around somewhere. So a couple of months ago, on a Monday morning, I couldn't locate my keys. I knew I had them on Sunday when I drove home from church and I hadn't seen them since. The only things I took to church were a small diaper bag and my Bible. So of course, the first places I looked were in the diaper bag and my Bible (I have one of those little zip up Bible covers). No keys.

Over the next several days I would search whenever I could. I checked every pair of pants and every coat even though I hadn't worn a coat or pants. I checked every junk drawer, junk box, junk basket and found nothing but...junk. Then I would check the diaper bag and my Bible again. I tore the van apart thinking I must have laid them down while taking the kids out in the garage. I took out the car seats, I emptied the storage compartments underneath, and I got a flashlight to look in all the dark crevasses. I found a few old french fries and a couple of ponytail holders but no keys. I checked the garage thinking maybe they fell somewhere. I pulled out shelves in the laundry room to look behind them. I even got my flashlight and checked behind the washer and dryer. Then I would check the diaper bag again. I even asked friends to pray. I figure finding keys is nothing for God and I waited expectantly for them to show up. Weeks went by with no keys. I couldn't understand why he was holding out on me. Occasionally I would get an idea...

Several months before that we lost one of our remotes for the TV. (I know, heaven forbid we actually had to get up to change a channel.) We looked everywhere knowing it had to be in the house only to find it months later INSIDE the little tikes basketball goal. Yep, Daddy noticed it was standing a little taller than usual and in fact it appeared to be about the length of the remote control. He pulled out the top and WALLAH! there it was. Can you say Little Sister? This got me thinking she must have been playing with them. This meant they could be anywhere. I emptied every toy bin, looked in every drawer in the girl's room and unfolded the fold-out couch. No keys. Then I checked the diaper bag...again.

This went on for about two months. Now and then, I would get an idea and resume the search. Just to show you how extensive the search was, I flipped our living room couch on it's back and cut the lining on the bottom so I could stick my hand in there to see if they had fallen between couch cushions and then through a rip in the lining. I found some leggos, more ponytail holders, and a few raisins. I was starting to give up. I figured Little Sister must have put them in the trash can and they were in a landfill somewhere.

Now this will seem kind of random but there was something else going on in my head and heart during this time. I was having one of those seasons where the more I learned about God, the less I knew. I was studying the Word and digging deep and the more I dug, the more mystery I found. My dad told me once that there's not all that much in the Bible, it's all about Jesus. As I have read through the chronological Bible (makes a lot more sense chronologically by the way) I've seen this to be true. It's not a bunch of stories about people, it's one story about God. Sounds simple but suddenly I began to see the big picture. This brought some big questions. Unanswered questions it turns out. Questions that if answered, I probably wouldn't be able to fathom anyway. I began to feel small. Very small. I suddenly couldn't imagine how such a HUGE, GREAT, HOLY GOD could use me. I started to wonder if much in my life really mattered. I'm just one person who stays at home with two little girls and doesn't seem to have much impact on the world much less on the universe and all of eternity. I began to struggle as I often do with feeling I had a God who loved me...but from a distance.

I was lying in bed on a Tuesday night reading my chronological Bible and was in 2 Kings with some Isaiah and Amos scattered in. I didn't get anything earth shattering from it. It was mostly, so-and-so was king, and he was a bad king, and when he died, his son became king and he was bad too. I did read one thing that was interesting in Isaiah 7:10-11.
Not long after this, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: "Ask me for a sign, Ahaz, to prove that I will crush your enemies as I have promised. Ask for anything you like, and make it as difficult as you want."

I went to sleep feeling nothing but more distance and little purpose.

I woke up at about 3:00am, wide awake. I decided to do what I usually do when that happens and thought I would pray. Oddly, I was speechless. I didn't even feel like I could talk to God. I had nothing to say. I just lay there thinking how anything I said right then would just be words. So I just told God I had nothing to say. Thankfully, He did have something to say. He brought to mind what I had read that night. It was as if He said, "Ask me for a sign. Ask for anything you like, and make it as difficult as you want." "I can't do that God," I thought. But then he reminded me that King Ahaz had that same response and it didn't go well. So I just prayed, "Lord, I need a sign. I need to know I matter to you. I need to know I serve a purpose in your plan. I need to know you hear me. I need a sign and I need it to be clear and specific. It's got to be obvious Lord or I'm afraid I'll miss it."

The next day I went about my business and never thought about my request for a sign. I wasn't looking for it. I had a busy day and the last thing on my agenda was taking a meal to a couple in White House. I was driving a car that we borrowed from the dealership while waiting for our brakes to be fixed. After dropping off the meal, I was driving down the long driveway and reached for my cell phone. I'd left it in the cup holder and suddenly couldn't find it. I stopped the car, put it in park, and got out. I looked under the seat and in the center console. I checked my pockets. I went around to the passenger side of the car and looked under that seat. I figured I must have tossed it in the diaper bag so I reached inside...and immediately felt something in the side zipper pocket. It felt HUGE. "Did I actually go to the trouble to zip it up in the side pocket?" I thought. Wait...I started to sweat and get cold chills all at the same time. I felt around the edges of the item in the pocket and thought, "It can't be." I opened the zipper and lying there neatly, all alone, were my lost keys.

I heard the still small voice of God saying, "Is that specific enough? It's a small thing but it matters to me. It all matters. You matter." I was blown away. Did I mention I had checked this diaper bag no less that 20 times? Not only that but I took the diaper bag with me nearly every day. I unloaded and repacked it several times a week. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time but mostly I was just in awe. I walked around to the other side of the car, sat down, and shook my head. I thanked God all the way home and all night long. I still thank Him now when I think of it. And mostly, I think of it when I am feeling small, or pointless, or lonely, or confused. I don't know the mind of God. I don't know all the answers. In fact I don't know most of the answers. I don't know His plans. But I do know one all matters...I matter. And if you are lost, he can find you.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Scary Mary

Since we are fully immersed in all things political, let me just say...I hate politics. I don't like all the fluff...I don't like the mudslinging...I don't like the worthless promises...I don't like the fake smiles...I just don't like it. I don't EVER like to talk about it because it just seems so pointless sometimes. It's so frustrating to have to sift through all the baloney to figure out who would be the least horrible...though sift you must. But please, I beg you, don't let it come down to the advertising and emails you've been exposed to.

You also need to know that if you send me emails with political ads, statistics, little bits and pieces of info, and especially quotes taken out of context...I delete them. I don't read them. So often when I have wasted precious time reading them and thought, "Did they really say that? I don't remember it that way?" I research only to find something taken grossly out of context. So think for yourselves, people. Do the research for yourselves. Even though it often seems futile, look at the whole picture...and then try not to lose all hope. And above all, be wary of anything that may be taken out of context. Because they may just be using crafty editing and slick words to turn Mary Poppins into...SCARY MARY.