May 28, 2015

The Dance of Redemption

When she was 6, our Anna fell in love with dance. She took a ballet/tap combination class every Tuesday...we called it “Tutu Tuesday." I knew how much Anna loved it when she was sick one weekend and told me, “I have to get better by Tuesday so I can go to dance.”

Four months after Anna first put on her ballet slippers, her grandfather died. There was no warning, no time to even try to try to get ready. “Papa Lonn” was young, healthy, and vibrant. His death was an utter shock. In one terrible moment, my husband lost his dad, best friend, business mentor, confidante, wood-cutting partner, fellow college sports enthusiast, and earthly model of Abba—God as “daddy.”

Our family was completely unprepared for the season of grief we were thrown into. Blindly, we started into the year of firsts without Lonn.

Anna’s dance recital, it turned out, would take place on Father’s Day Eve: the night before my husband’s first Father’s Day without his dad. I began to dread a weekend we would simply get through, would merely survive.

But then: I started asking God to redeem the day. I asked Him to make something of it beyond what it would be without His intervention. I asked Him to make it more than just a day we would grit our way through.

Redemption carries with it the idea of something being held captive, of a price being paid for the release of someone imprisoned. The prisoner is powerless to secure his own freedom, and his redeemer rescues him by covering the cost.

I asked God to release my husband’s Father’s Day—and Anna’s recital day—from sorrow, loss, grief, and dread. I asked Jehovah to pay the price and free the day to be glorious.

On Father’s Day Eve, my husband, his mom, my parents, Anna’s big sister, and I took over a row in the auditorium. We did not know to expect the worship experience we saw and took part in that night. It was a tapestry of music and movement. We watched Anna’s class come on stage. In their electric-blue tutus, they had the audience before they'd even started dancing.

We beamed proudly as Anna steadily performed each movement. At the end of the night, she was awarded a scholarship we had no idea was coming, and we all gasped in surprised delight. It was glorious.

The day after the recital, we celebrated Father’s Day without Lonn. I knew God had said yes to my prayer: He had redeemed the day. He had bought it back from mourning and had purchased it for dancing. Abba had given a gift to my husband, who had lost his earthly daddy but still found joy in the careful steps of a little girl in a blue tutu.

"And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain and with your blood you purchased men for God' "(Revelation 5:9).


Do you have something you need God to redeem? If you do, there is a Redeemer for it—the LORD of hosts, the Almighty! Ask Him to buy whatever it is back from whatever is holding it captive and make it more than it can be without Him.  

And when He does, I hope you feel 
like dancing.

May 27, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom

Good morning, mamas! If this "Wednesday Wisdom" is going to become a thing, there WILL be C.S. involved...

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”  (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

You can also find more wisdom here:

Blessings on your day, oh wise mama!

May 22, 2015

Flashback Friday

Looking back through my personal workbook from the Beth Moore Daniel study my Bible study sisters and I did two seasons ago (shout-out to the Proverbs 32 women of the Word!), I came across this quote from Beth I loved back then and still love today. 

Maybe "Wednesday Wisdom" and "Flashback Friday" will both become things? I do dearly love alliteration...anyway, onto the quote:

"While we're still living, we've got us some challenges going. Now there are times I do believe God brings us through something and shuts the door and that's just it. But there are other times...if Satan can't get anything new to work on you, he's gonna come back with the old. We think to ourselves, 'I can't do it again,' because we think we're going to fight the old battle with the old strength. No, we've got new strength. New every morning. New every morning."

May 18, 2015

A Hot Fudge Emergency

In our home, we believe in emergency preparedness.

And by emergency preparedness, I mean that we try never to dip below two bags of chocolate chips in the pantry at all times.

One reason for this staunch adherence to crisis readiness is that you never know when you will need to make a batch of Emergency Hot Fudge Sauce.

What are some possible crises that might necessitate the making of Emergency Hot Fudge Sauce? Well, I can think of several, but then chocolate is my preferred coping mechanism. Still, to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here are five scenarios which may or may not be purely hypothetical:

1. (Husband, after septic system guy drives away): "Honey, how do you feel about installing a new drain field in the back yard instead of getting new kitchen cabinets?"

2. (Child at school using the computer to email home during English paper research; subject line, "I hate school"): "Mom, I just failed my algebra test. I cried while I was taking it. Can I come home?"

3. (Pediatrician): "Yup, that's lice."

4. (Orthodontist): "Well, it looks like [insert child's name] will need braces after all!"

5. (Radio DJ): "It's Monday."

Or whatever crisis you might realistically suppose warm, velvety, homemade hot fudge sauce would be some kind of solution to.

Of course, there are limits to how prepared you can be for an emergency. That's why they're called "emergencies" and not "normal life." But keep some chocolate chips on hand (along with a can of evaporated milk and some mini marshmallows) and at least you'll have the comfort of knowing you're as ready as you can be.

Emergency Hot Fudge Sauce

Got a Hot Fudge Emergency of your own? If you're up to sharing it, post a comment here or on our Facebook page? (Misery loves company and all that...)

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules or freeze-dried espresso (no, your fudge sauce will not taste like will just taste more like chocolate)

1 teaspoon hot water

1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet or dark)

1 cup mini marshmallows

1 cup evaporated milk (I use 2% or skim)

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dissolve the coffee or espresso in the hot water in a large (8-cup at least) microwave-safe bowl or in a medium-sized saucepan. Dump in the other ingredients except the vanilla and mix rather halfheartedly. Microwave on high power until thick and bubbly--about 4-6 minutes total, stirring after every minute. This is not the time to walk away unless you're going for the chocolate volcano effect in your microwave. If you're using the stovetop, cook over mediumish heat until bubbly and thick, stirring constantly. (No walking away here, either. Scorched chocolate is a very sad thing.) Once your E.H.F.S. is thick and enticing, stir in the vanilla and cool slightly before serving or storing in a glass jar in the refrigerator. The basic recipe makes about 1 1/2 cups but is easily doubled or tripled. (Or quintupled, if you're making enough for a high school marching band post band-camp ice cream buffet. For instance.)

*This recipe in its original form can be found in More House Specialties, by Michigan cookbook author Deanna House.

May 17, 2015

Word of the Month

"... seldom is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day."

So goes that unofficial anthem of the American West, "Home on the Range."

But, I suspect some moms would argue that seldom is heard an encouraging word!

Encouragement feels like the word of the month for me.

Last week, I was so honored to have my article "Three Things I Want to Say to Moms More Often..." put up on For Every Mom. And this week, Blogs by Christian Women is very kindly publishing my guest post "The Art of Building Up: Six Habits of Highly Encouraging Women."

If you've given or gotten some encouragement recently, I'd be thrilled to have you share it in a comment or on Facebook.

As for me: I've got to get busy practicing what I've preached.

"Therefore encourage one another 
and build each other up." 
                                                        (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

May 4, 2015

What Love Sees (Sticky Notes from God)

My daughter Anna gave me a handmade card on my birthday. She’d printed “Names of Mom” vertically down one side of a standard-sized piece of heavyweight paper. The rest of the page was covered with rows of sticky notes labeled with “names” like chauffer, cleaner, and problem-fixer. Under each note, she’d written a definition of the name—“you clean whatever needs to be cleaned whenever it needs to be cleaned,” and so on.

I was overwhelmed.

Not only because of the time, creativity, and effort my sweet 11-year-old had put into her project, but because I felt I hadn't actually earned some of the names. Anna credited me with being an inspiration, motivator, comforter, and example of Christ.  Yet I knew I had so often fallen short. I knew I had not lived up to my names. I knew I needed to work harder to earn the titles she had generously bestowed on me.

But then I realized a graceful truth: Anna’s card reflects what her love for me sees.

And this is how God sees me, too. 

As moms, we wear many titles: cook, counselor, teacher, nurse, and on and on. But we also label ourselves more harshly: mean, impatient, insufficient, mediocre, unremarkable.

As I treasured Anna’s gift, I thought about how God—El Roi, or “The One Who Sees”—looks at mothers. In love, God sees us and posts these sticky notes about us in His Word…

Valuable ~ “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). The original Hebrew word translated “noble” in this passage is the same word used to describe Gideon as a “mighty warrior” (Judges 6:24)! Some versions of the Bible refer to Gideon as "a man of valor" and to the Proverbs 31 woman as "a woman of valor." My interpretation of all this ("The Momsage" paraphrase instead of The Message)? Brave, valiant moms who fight for their families are rare and precious!

Cared-For ~ “The Sovereign Lord…tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young”  (Isaiah 40:11). Beloved mom, you are one of “those that have young,” tenderly looked after by the Shepherd.

Honorable ~ “Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that is may go well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:16). God so esteems mothers that He attaches a bonus promise to His command to honor them.

Wise ~ “Listen, my son…do not forsake your mother’s teaching” (Proverbs 1:8). As moms, we're often so aware of what we don’t know that we lose sight of the God-assigned value of what we do know.

Uniquely Appointed ~ “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Our infinitely powerful and creative God could have chosen to bring new human life into existence any way He wanted. He decided to use mothers.

After Anna gave me her card, I immediately added it to my mental list of “Things to Rescue if the House Ever Catches on Fire.” Anna’s gift both humbles and inspires me because it paints a lavishly loving picture how my daughter sees me.  And it reminds me that this is how Abba sees me—and all moms: through eyes of love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

Postscript: for a gorgeous and stirring picture of how we see ourselves, contrasted with the picture God can paint of us, watch this video of "Beautiful Things" by Gungor. Then listen to Francesca Battistelli’s "He Knows My Name" for a tender reflection of God’s message in Isaiah 43: “I have called you by name; you are mine.”