A few nights ago we were relaxing in our living room and Benny fell asleep on my lap, completely exhausted from our busy day. It seems to me that it is becoming quite the habit for him to fall asleep early in the evening. Maybe it is because we are back to early mornings now with school, and maybe it is because he is not napping in the afternoons anymore. Those two put together makes for one tired little guy.
Anyway, as I laid him into his bed and pulled the covers up around his small body, his eyes popped open and he looked around a bit surprised.
"Mommy," he said, "Can I have..." he stopped in mid sentence.
"What do you want?" I asked him.
"That." He pointed to the bottom of the bunk overhead.
"What is that?" I asked, looking carefully at the wood thinking maybe he had put something in the slats. A sticker or toy maybe?
"It's a waddle."
"A waddle? What's a waddle?" I was beginning to think he was sleep talking now.
"It's a little thing..." again he trailed off and I glanced down to see his eyes were closed and he was a out again.
I had to chuckle as I kissed his forehead. I have to admit I love listening to him talk because I never know what he is going to say. His brain is constanly turning, making plans, taking in every little detail. It is amazing how much these little ones take in during the day, watching, listening, learning, as we go about our lives, taking for granted that what we do will not affect those around us. Our words, our actions, our body language all speak loudly to the people in our lives. What we love they will love. What we hate they will hate. What we say they will say. They notice every little 'waddle' in life.
I had to go tell Joe about Ben's sleepy comment and now the word has taken on a life of its own. It has become the new phrase around our home. It's the waddles in life, the little things, that really matter. It's the few moments of cuddle time with my little boy, or the time spent with my nine year old daughter cutting cookies out for the women's conference. It's even in the frustrating moments of working math problems out with my eighth grader. How we handle each situation, either leaning to the flesh or trusting the Lord to get us through the little circumstances in life, that will make an impression on the children. I admit that I fail. Many times...every day, in fact. Yet, the Lord is gracious to show me my failures, and forgives me when I ask. I try to fix them, make things better with the child or person I failed, and move on, praying I will not make the same mistakes again.
I have had my challenges these last few weeks, sometimes wondering if I really heard God's voice about our decision to homeschool. Usually it is at my weak moments when I am wishing I was anywhere but here, yet that peace still remains deep inside. I know I am in the Lord's will and we are doing what He wants us to do right now. He did not promise it would be easy. He did not promise there would not be any bumps in the road. Schedule adjustments have to be made, law and order has to be determined, and the switch from mommy to teacher has to be understood by all. Yet it's the waddles of the day that make it all worth my time. My days are full, my time with my children is sweet, and my heart is filled to overflowing. I love my family, and I am so glad the Lord has brought us to where we are now. He has blessed me far above anything I could ever have imagined. It's the waddles that count.
I am always awestruck by the beauty of the leaves during autumn. A few years ago I wrote these words down as I gazed at the trees in the back of our house. It looked like someone had reached out with a paintbrush and painted the leaves with bright reds and yellows, making a last attempt at giving us some cheer before the drear of winter set in. I wish the fall season would last a little longer than it does, but because it is so short, I make sure I enjoy the beauty of the colors while I can. As you go leaf-peeping this year, remember Who made the beauty of this world for us, and remember that where we are going will be so much more beautiful than we can even imagine. Happy autumn!
When I see the awesome colors of the autumn leaves,
When I behold the wonders in the deep;
To see the mountains standing so majestically,
I see the touch of the Master Artist’s hand.
When I consider the heavens with the moon and stars,
What is man, that Thou should visit him?
For You can hold the waters in the hollow of Your hand,
And You can measure out the heavens with Your span.
For Who is this, the King of Glory?
And Who is He, the Great I Am?
Who brought to us salvation’s story,
He’s the Ruler and Maker of it all.
There is no language where His voice cannot be heard,
There is no place where His handiwork’s not seen;
For even rocks and trees will give their praise to Him,
And the forests echo out His love.
It’s the breath of God that lays the frost upon the ground,
He gave the sun and moon for seasons too. (Psa
Oh Lord, how manifold are thy works in all the earth (Psa
I will bless the Lord my God with all my soul.
For Who is this, the King of Glory?
And Who is He, the Great I Am?
Who brought to us salvation’s story,
He’s the Ruler and Maker of it all.
Jesus is the King of glory,
Jesus is the Great I Am.
He brought to us salvations story,
He’s the Ruler and Maker of it all.
Jesus is the reason that I live!
Cara Poem/Song Copyright 11/2006
My son Benny is very particular about his clothing. Even though he is only four years old, he knows what he likes and what he doesn't when it comes to getting dressed. There are many times when he comes out of his room looking quite mismatched, but to him he feels like he is styling. One of the things that bug him though, are the huge, scratchy tags that are commonly sewn onto the back of most shirts. Almost all of his shirts are missing their tags now, simply because he has come to me with requests to cut out the pesky tags that keep tickling his neck. I try to buy him the shirts with the stamped tag now, just so I can know what size his clothes are so I can pass them on to others who have growing familes.
Everything in this world has some sort of tag or label on it, whether put there by the company who made the product, or simply a name that people have made up for different reasons. Store names, brand names, purse names, shoe names...the list could go on forever. Most everyone knows where to look for the items we all need in life, though some are willing, or simply have more money, to invest in higher priced items that may last a little longer than the average product found in Wal-Mart. We can look into Consumer Reports to find the better quality items when it comes to bigger buys such as washing machines, oven, or automobiles, but in reality, everything is made by man, not made to last forever, and will one day break down and become a new heap of junk in the garbage dump.
People have labels too. We see a person over six feet and we label them "tall." We see a person with no hair and we label them "bald." We label people short, funny, ugly, slow, beautiful, smart...again you name it and there is someone out there with that title hanging over their head. We must be careful how we label someone because that name will stick in their minds. It can be a good thing, or it can be devastating to the one given the name depending on the attitude and reason the caller of the name said what he did. Even what we say to our children may affect them for their lifetime.
For Bible this year, the girls and I are studying the character of the virtuous woman listed in Proverbs 31. As we were discussing the ruby today, I found out that it is much more valuable than the diamond because it is such a rare gem. King Lemuel's mother instructed him to find a virtuous woman. I looked up King Lemuel and though nobody knows who he was, some think it was a poetic name for King Solomon. It is sad to think that King Solomon did not heed the words of his own mother. After reading Proverbs 31, I realized that being called a virtuous woman is putting God's label on your life. Here are a few points to think about when it comes to being like a ruby:
1) When a man wanted a wife, he often paid a dowry to her family. Lemuel's mother was telling her son that no amount of money could pay the price for a virtuous woman. Jacob worked 14 years for his wife Rachel and to him it was but a few days because he loved her so much. Even Rebekah, Isaac's wife, was paid for by much gold and riches sent to her family by Abraham's servant. Yet, no physical amount of money could possibly pay the price for a Godly woman of virture. Now, that is amazing!
2) A ruby is worth more than a diamond. I looked up the cost of a ruby and found that one carat ruby is worth twice as much as one carat diamond. Yet, as you go up in size, such as a three carat diamond versus a three carat ruby, the value goes up ten times as much. This is because the ruby is so hard to fine. This leads me to my third point...
3) A ruby is an extremely rare find. Diamonds are beautiful and amazing, but I have heard that the owners of the diamond mines have most of them locked up, only releasing some of them which keeps their costs high. Rubies are extremely rare, which makes them more valuable because they are harder to find. A woman of virtue is becoming harder to find as the years go by. People are forgetting their Maker and God, and then in turn do not teach their children the wonderful freedom of knowing an Almighty Father. We have lost our Godly heritage and we are losing our virtuous and Godly women. They are becoming a rare find.
4) In order to gain favor and more riches, kings usually married into other royalty that also had a lot of money. From what I can gather, King Lemuel's mother did not care about the riches that a bride could bring her son. She cared about his spiritual walk with God and wanted him to marry someone who could encourage him in his faith. She wanted a bride that would do him good and not evil all the days of his life. She wanted him to marry someone whom his heart could safely trust in, knowing she would never do anything to hurt him in any way. Even a poor girl from the village would be a good wife for the king, if she was a virtuous woman. He would be richer than any other king in the world if he found a Godly woman such as his mother described.
These days, the world does not put a nice label on a pure, Godly young woman, and they are often laughed at or scorned for their decision to walk a holy life. Yet, I think the world is doing this because they are convicted and do not know how to handle the idea that it is possible to remain Godly, pure, and holy in this messed up world.
I remember when I was nineteen years old, I worked at the Champion factory in Williston, Vermont, doing quality control for the items they shipped out. For two months I worked there, measuring box after box of unmentionables, and on the opposite side of my table was a young, Catholic guy. We talked for hours as we worked, and we got into deep conversations, including what I believed and why. He lived with his girlfriend and had a little girl and told me all about them, though he really was not fully committed to them in his heart. When he found out I was still pure and had never been with a man, he did not believe me at first. Yet, over time my innocent and naive responses to his questions showed him that I was telling the truth. I remained constant in my Christian attitude and testimony and did not waiver from what I believed. I pray I made a lasting impression on him that even today he cannot shake.
I received this reaction quite a few times, and to be honest, it was like the men of the world actually respected me much more than they did the other girls around them. There were times they stepped back or refrained from touching me in any way, and I believe this was because they were putting a Godly price on me without even knowing it.
I want my girls to have this same blessing in their lives. I want them to have God's label on their lives, and be respected for the precious ruby that they are. And like the shirts that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I want God's image stamped on me so nobody can cut it off. I do not want to become a pesky, itchy tag that bothers someone else around me. I want to make sure I always wear God's label in everything I do so I am known as a high priced, valuable, virutuous woman to all who see me, and be much more valuable, in God's eyes, than a mere earthly ruby stone.
Disclaimer: This story was inspired by a message by pastor and is purely fictional. It is not meant to resemble anyone I know.
John slammed the door of his car and laid his head down on the steering wheel. Closing his eyes, he heaved a sigh and tried to let the stress of the day roll off his shoulders. Easier said than done. The tension in his neck could be felt clear down his spine. For a moment he wished for his wife's gentle hand to massage his aching muscles, but then he remembered what she had done and felt the anger begin to come back.
It had been one of 'those days,' when everything seemed to go wrong from the moment he stepped out of bed. He had turned off the alarm and stumbled into the shower, only to find the shampoo bottle empty. To top it off, there was only a little sliver left of the bar of soap, which slipped out of his hands and disappeared down the drain. He had tried to catch it with his foot, but his little pinky toe had gotten caught in the drain hole, causing him a pain that felt like he had stubbed the poor thing.
After getting dressed, John had come out into the kitchen for some coffee. Ellen, his wife, was making breakfast and the children were scattered around the living room trying to wipe the sleep out of their eyes.
"Good morning, dear," Ellen had smiled, then frowned. "Are you limping?"
Giving Ellen a quick kiss, John had shrugged. "It's nothing. Is breakfast almost ready?"
"The eggs will be ready in a few minutes, but I don't have any toast. We ran out of bread yesterday."
John had gone over to make his coffee. To his dismay, he found the can of coffee grounds almost empty. "Looks like we are out of a lot of things this morning," he commented. "Do you plan on going shopping today?"
"I plan on picking up a few items, but I cannot make a large shopping trip until you get paid on Friday."
John felt his irriation rising. He knew it was not Ellen's fault, but why did they have to run out of everything at the same time? As he sat down and ate his breakfast, one of the children came over and handed him a dripping wet cell phone.
"Sorry, Daddy, but I dropped this in the toilet." The little boy began to walk away as if nothing was wrong.
John's eyes grew wide and then narrowed in anger. "Why did you have my cell phone? How did it end up in the toilet?" He stood up, like a lion ready to pounce.
"It was on the edge of the cabinet in the bathroom. I bumped it when I tried to wash my hands." the little boy replied.
John remembered he had left it in the bathroom the night before. He should have plugged it in the kitchen to charge, but the telephone had distracted him. Fuming, John sat down again. This was going to be a long day.
Later on that morning, his boss had called him into his office and scolded him for not having a certain project finished by the deadline, which had been yesterday morning. Another coworker had accused him of eavesdropping on their conversation as he put a file on a desk nearby, and a crazy driver had cut him off causing him to miss his exit during a drive to an important business meeting. He had arrived late, and since he did not have his phone to call ahead, he had been severely reprimanded.
The final straw had been when his wife had called him at work and informed him she had been in an accident and the car was going to need some repair. The good part was the fact that nobody had been hurt, but they could not afford to be without a car, let alone afford the cost of the repairs.
As John sat with his head on the wheel, a gentle voice spoke to his heart. "John," he heard the voice say. John quickly picked his head up and looked around. He did not see anyone. Who had spoken to him?
"John," the voice repeated.
Still puzzled, John looked around as he nodded. "Is that you, Lord?"
"Yes, son, it is Me. Do you think you have been treated unfairly today?"
Tears came to John's eyes as he thought about all that he had been through that day.
"Yes, Lord, so much has happened to me today and it just keeps building. I don't think I can take anymore. I am thankful You protected my wife, but I am angry with her for not being more careful in the parking lot. She should have seen that other car backing out! Besides, my boss could have allowed more time for that project. How did he expect me to get it all done in two week's time all by myself? Plus, now I need to buy a new cell phone since my son dropped it into the toilet, and not having a phone handy caused me to be late for my meeting. I was possibly going to get a raise, but after today, it looks like they may even cut back on my pay." John felt the anger and bitterness rise up until it felt like it was going to choke him.
"John, see that piece of slate in the back seat?"
John turned and looked behind him. On the back seat, he noticed that one of his children had left a little chalkboard there, as well as a piece of chalk. "I see it, Lord."
"Take it and write down all the incidents that you were hurt today, emotionally and physically."
John picked it up and looked at it. "But it isn't big enough!" He decided he should write small. For fifteen minutes he listed all the injustices that had occurred to him during the day, trying his best to fit them all in. When he was done, he laid it on the seat next to him.
"Now, on the other side, write down all the sins you committed today."
John frowned. "What have I done today that would be a sin?"
"Let me remind you," spoke the gentle voice. "You did not thank Me for a new day this morning. You only thought about yourself and never asked Me to bless your day when you awoke. You immediately blamed your wife for all the things that you had run out of before you left the house, but did you stop to think that you had used the items too? You got angry at your child for dropping your phone, but I warned you last night, in a still, small voice, to move it. You did not listen and left the room without another thought to it. I am glad you thanked me for watching over your wife, but you should not have become mad at her for the accident. If you had fixed the back lights when you first knew about them being burnt out, the other car would have seen her backing up."
John stared down at his hands as the realization of all his sins piled up on his back. "Dear God, how can you love me after I have done all these things?"
"Do you still love your children when they do wrong?" the voice asked.
"Yes. I may be angry, but I still love them."
"Write them all down, go home, and in the morning I will show you how I can still love you."
John humbly wrote all the things he had done that day on the back of the chalkboard. When he was through, he drove home and the evening went by in a blur. He crawled into bed heavy hearted, sad he had hurt his Lord and his family by his actions, but still angry at the world for being so unfair.
The next morning, he woke up to his alarm clock and turned it off. He stood up and stretched. Suddenly he remembered what the Lord had told him the night before and knelt down by his bed.
"Dear Lord, thank You for giving me another day, for watching over us last night, and for loving me even when I fail You. You said You would show me how You can still love me even after all that I did wrong. I am ready to see now."
"Look at the slate," a voice said.
John stood up and walked over to the desk where he had set the slate down the night before. On one side it still listed all the injustices he had written down about other people, but when he turned it over to read the list of his sins, all he saw was a blank slate. "Ellen," he asked his wife as she walked out of the bathroom. "Did you touch the little chalkboard that was here on the desk?"
She shook her head. "No, I didn't touch it."
"Were any of the children in here? Maybe they touched it." He thought they might have erased some of it.
"No, none of the children were in here, as far as I know." She left the room to go wake up the children and fix breakfast.
John stared at the blank side. "Where is the list of my sins, Lord? Why are all my sins erased?"
"Do you not remember how I told you yesterday that I would show how much I love you? There is the proof right in front of you. My mercy is new every morning. It is because of My mercies that you are not consumed. My compassion for you never fails." (Lam 3:22-23)
John fell to his knees and asked the Lord to forgive him for his failures and hardness of heart. Again, the gentle voice spoke, "Look at the slate. I already have; and just as I have done this for you, I ask that you do the same for the others in your life. Forgive the people who have wronged you, and let go of all the circumstances that seem unfair. Erase the side with the injustices listed on it or else bitterness will 0vertake you and poison you."
John studied the side of the chalkboard with all the unfair treatment he had received. "Lord, please help me to forgive those who have wronged me. I will do as You say and trust You to take care of everything." With a tissue, he wiped off all the chalk scratchings he had made the day before. Instantly he felt a burden lift off his shoulders and he felt free once again. "Thank You, Lord, for loving me. Thank You for forgiving me. Thank You for giving me a clean slate on both sides. Help me to always focus on You in every circumstance, no matter what happens throughout my day." And with that John began a new day, free of guilt and free of anger and bitterness to others around him.
It is only because of His mercies that we are not consumed. Great is His faithfulness!
I do not know if it is the same for everyone, but I find it funny how certain songs make me think of certain people. I may hear a song played and out of the blue I suddenly get an image in my mind of a person's face, or a certain motion or action of someone from the past will flash through my memory. It is kind of like hearing a specific name when you can think back to someone you knew who had that name and you immediately put a face to it. Sometimes there are good memories associated with the name, but sometimes you find yourself saying, "I don't like that name. It reminds me of _________ (fill in the blank with the name) who did _____________(fill in the blank with the action)."
Whenever I hear the song "Hear My Cry O, Lord," I always think back to a certain song leader we had in church. This was his favorite song. I loved the words to the song, but the way he sang it made me cringe a little bit. To this day I cannot sing those words, or even read them from the Bible, without seeing his face.
Another song associated with a person is the song, "Hear O Ye Kings, hear O ye princes." This song is also taken from the Bible. I always imagine the back of the head of a young man who seemed to get into the song whenever we sang it when I was growing up.
Another song leader we had, (we went through many different ones in my lifetime) liked to play Jewish music, which were usually in a minor chord. I loved these kinds of songs. I remember doing the Hora, a Jewish dance of five steps, and then kick, kick, with everyone holding hands in one or two circles. Everyone always ended up laughing in the end, but it was all good, clean fun.
When Joe and I got married, we did something different at the beginning of our ceremony. We had a friend of ours lead the singing of a few songs that we had picked out, and one of the songs we chose was "All in All - You are my strength when I am weak, You are the treasure that I seek, You are my All in All. Taking my sin, my cross, my shame, rising again I bless Your Name, You are my All in All." Even though that was fourteen years ago, I still get tears in my eyes when I hear that song. It has a pleasant memory of the day I became one with my husband, vowing to spend the rest of my life here on earth with the man I loved. The song also makes me think of Meme, my grandmother of fourteen children, who leaned over to my brother, while all the songs and extras we had chosen before the processional were going on, and whispered, "When is this wedding going to get started?" That always puts a smile on my face. :)
One last song I am going to list here is an old song from a Music Machine tape I used to listen to as a little girl. When I was about seven years old, I sang it in front of my church as the song leader played along on his guitar. was When I expecting baby JJ, I often sang the song to him, even though he was still in the womb. After he was born, it became my lullabye to him every night before bed. The words of the song go like this:
Gentle breeze, gentle breeze,
Blowing through the trees,
And a meadow filled with flowers,
Showing me your gentleness,
How I love You.
In the still of the night,
When You draw me near,
Just to whisper how You care,
Showing me your gentleness,
How I love You.
Your dear Son, walked the earth,
He was full of love,
Now He lives within my heart,
Showing me your gentleness,
How I love You.
The words are simple, but the tune is a tender, peaceful sounding melody that always brought peace to my heart. It reminds me that God's voice is gentle and tender. He has gentle reminders everywhere we go of His love for us, and what He did for us. Though there are many songs that make me think of other people, I think the best ones are the songs that make me remember Jesus and His wonderful, powerful love for me. Do you have a song to remember your Lord and Savior? Let Him put a melody in your heart today, and let Him use it to remind you of Him throughout the entire day.
"Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains; being girded with power:" Psalms 65:6
"For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else." Isaiah 45:18
Driving up interstate 91, I gazed out at the high green walls surrounding our car and sighed. The mountains were so beautiful, like a plush, green carpet just waiting for someone to walk across with their bare feet. I was back in Vermont again, the state where I had grown up; the place where billboards are outlawed, but maple syrup and creemee signs can be found on every back road corner; where the air is fresh and clean, and the black flies always seem to find you no matter where you are. Yes, we were back in the land of the green mountains. I had to take it all in so I could store it away in my memory banks to get me through until the next time I was able to travel up north.
It never ceases to amaze me how only a couple hours of travel time can change the weather patterns and the landscape that surrounds us. Down here in Connecticut, there are hills, but drive two hours north and there are MOUNTAINS! There is something very comforting about having the protective peaks all around. It always makes me feel secure, like I am settled safely in a little cozy, comfy nest.
As we drove along, I had the sensation that I had completely gone into a different world. I do not mean that I felt like I was transported into an 'alien' kind of world where space ships and UFOs abound, but it was as if I had come out of a stressful, hustling environment into a peaceful, serene paradise. The steadfastness of the mountains, the unchanging guarantee that they would be there just as they had always been was reassuring to me. A peace settled over me, and the reality of the hard economic times we are dealing with at the moment completely disolved for the time being. It was as if my eyes were suddenly opened to the beautiful sights around me. I was no longer near sighted, like Peter who focused on the waves around him and forgot to look up to Jesus for help. The old saying, 'stop and smell the roses' is so very true. We need to make time to slow down and look around us.
Sometimes I wonder if so many people have given up on God because they have forgotten to look at His creation and see the mighty works of His hand and the power of His might. God created this earth for His pleasure and glory, but He placed us on the earth to inhabit it, just as the verse from Isaiah says. Seeing that it is His earth, we do need to be good stewards of what He has given us and take care of His property, but all in good balance.
When I see the solidness of the mountains, it reminds me of the unchangingness of God. Yes, the mountains can shift in earthquakes, they can have tornadoes blow all their trees down, and they can have mudslides that may wash away all the dirt covering them, but God will never, CAN NEVER, be moved or changed. Just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, we can depend on our God to always be there, just because He said it in His Word. Just as God promised, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease," (Gen 8:22) we shall continue to have seasons on this earth that will portray His great story to us. Springtime represents new life; Jesus came as a brand new baby, born into this world as a wee little infant, with the promise of new life ahead of Him. Summer represents the life of Christ, as He went about doing the will of His Father, teaching and preaching the precious Gospel. Then comes Autumn, when the leaves change to bright reds, yellows, and oranges, bringing back to rememberance the blood that Jesus shed on the cross in our place. Winter comes, and with it comes death and darkness, feeling like no hope is left for us to cling to. Just as the disciples felt after Jesus had died and was gone from their life, we may feel the heaviness of the cold and dark. Finally, comes spring again, when Jesus rose from the tomb and gave us the promise of new life, to one day live with Him if we only believe on His name. It is a beautiful picture of Jesus's love for us that cycles over and over again through the seasons. It is no wonder that God will never end the seasons until the earth is no more!
Take the time to look away from the stressful circumstances of life, and focus on God's creation around you today, and see what He is trying to show you through the wonderful works of His hands.