Saturday, March 23, 2013


I fill out a bracket every year for March Madness. I do this not because I know anything about college basketball, but because my husband enjoys it. The funny thing is, that I do pretty well! I readily admit that I know nothing about college basketball, but I fill out my bracket on my own because I don't want anyone (read: The Hubs) to be able to say, "You only did that well because I helped you." (This is the same reason that I don't accept any assistance with my Fantasy Football team, but that is a post for another day.)

Just because I don't know anything about it doesn't mean that there isn't a method to my madness! (Pun completely intended! Bwahahahaha!) Here is my thought process: there are ranking numbers next to all of the teams on the brackets, but there are always upsets (for non-bracketing friends, an "upset" is where a lower ranked ream beats a higher ranked team). So, I go mostly with the rankings and randomly choose some upsets. I say "randomly" because it is fairly random. Truth is, ESPN is on the TV so much at my house that I unintentionally absorb some of it and I overheard an announcer talk about his guess that a certain team would surprise everyone. I took that information into consideration (aka, went with what he said).

Here is my bracket thus far this year:

I have been laughed at, scorned and mocked for choosing Marquette to go so far, and also for choosing Oregon. Harumph. That's why I'M WINNING, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Of course, I won't win for long, but it is so much fun to see my uneducated guesses beat the brackets of those who follow college basketball closely all season. (Me? Competitive? Nah!!)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Peace Like A River

Recently, I read Peace Like A River by Leif Enger.

It was one of the best recently written fiction books that I have read in a long time. At first, I wasn't sure about it - there is an element of willing suspension of disbelief required - but by the end I was very glad that I had read it.

Ruben struggles with asthma, and it frames his life. It was actually the descriptions of his asthma attacks that drew me into the story. A few years ago, I was diagnosed with asthma from allergies. I had been coughing for weeks, a dry cough with no other symptoms. Sometimes it was hard for me to catch my breath during these coughing fits. It was a very mild case, and after a couple of years it went away, but I still remember feeling out of breath as if I'd been running when I was standing still.

Ruben is the central character of the story. Many years ago, I remember reading a book about some children whose favorite books (yes, I read a book about children who were reading books) were the "I books." I have always called books written in the first person I books since. This is an I book. Through the events in the story, Ruben comes to have the faith of his father, from seeing the miracles that followed in his father's wake.

The story really starts rolling when Ruben's brother Davy breaks out of jail (he's been arrested and tried for a controversial crime). Ruben, his father, and his sister go looking for Davy. The events of this trip mature Ruben to the acceptance of his father's faith. There is a subtle theme throughout that because Ruben's father has displayed God's love in his life (not just to his family, but to the world, including enemies) Ruben finds it easier to believe. It was the character development of Ruben that solidified my love for this book. You can't help but love his family because Ruben loves them, but in the end it is Ruben who changes the most.

This book asks you to believe in modern miracles of biblical proportions. I recently completed a Bible study in which was discussed the fact that a lot of times we "modern" Christians don't believe in miracles in current times. I'm not talking about miracles for show; I'm talking about miracles like Jesus performed - quietly, without shouting and fanfare and vanity. In this Bible study, the opinion was submitted that perhaps we miss out on seeing miracles because our faith is too small. This is just one theme worthy of discussion after reading this book.

If I was going to rate this book on a scale of one to five, I would give it five stars! If you like to read at all, read THIS book!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I have always loved to hear the tales of old. I think it started with the stories my grandmother and father used to tell about "back in the day" and "when I was growing up..."There is that old joke about how older people always had it so much harder than younger people ("I had to WALK to school IN THE SNOW and it was UPHILL BOTH WAYS.") that always causes rolled eyes. Well, I didn't roll my eyes. I loved hearing every story my elders told about their past. I think it was because of those stories that I fell in love with history. I'm sure that growing up I read more historical fiction than was good for me.

Because of that fascination, in college I was spell-bound in history classes and ATE.THEM.UP. (Just because I have a degree in English does not mean that I don't occasionally use improper grammar. Ahem.) At some point during a meeting with one of my advisors in college, it was noticed that I had taken a lot of upper-level history classes and I was told that if I added one more I would have enough credits for a history minor. Ka-ching! My dad laughed when I took a course called "The History of Baseball," but my FAVORITE  history professor offered it, and my then-boyfriend-now-husband was/is a HUGE baseball fan. I loved every minute of that class. It was by far NOT my favorite history class, however. My favorite, without a doubt, hands down, bar none, was my World War I class.

I'd not really studied the time period in detail before, and was mesmerized by it. I still remember a lot of what we discussed in that class, including names, dates, battles, themes and theories. Imagine my supreme joy when the second season of Downton Abbey featured characters during that particular time period! The precise, historically accurate themes and details of those episodes brought tears to my eyes. YES. That is what shell-shock looked like. YES. Disfigured men did try to pose as dead comrades. YES. The horror caused deep pacifist tendencies. (I'm not proposing that everyone go out and watch all of Downton Abbey now. Despite the historical accuracy of the WWI episodes, subsequent episodes lost a lot of that, and a lot of my respect for tipping their hats to liberal media agenda. And not subtly, either. Grr.)

The biggest take-away from my WWI class was the fact that history repeats itself. Humanity didn't learn from that war (or any previous war, for that matter). If you think about that for too long, it can really be a depressing thought. What is far more depressing to me is when I hear people talk about how much they "hate" history. And what is even more alarming is when people don't know the stories about their parents and grandparents. Because I grew up hearing those tales, I thought everyone else did, too. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that often, my peers don't know their family history. How can we understand where we are going if we don't know from where we have come? This is true on a global as well as a personal level.

If we don't know our history, we are going to repeat it.

My Sword, V6

And hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5

Sometimes I feel as though it is impossible to love with the love of God as we are called to love. It is often easy to love my beloveds, but there are those people in my life that I find somewhat - ahem - difficult to love. "The greatest of these is Love," you know, but can I really love in my human-ness? This verse reminds me that because I am God's and His Spirit resides in me, His love has been poured into my heart. THAT is how I can love with His love... He has poured it into me! May I never stifle that love!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

White Rocking Chair

Here I sit, holding you
dreaming of all you may someday be
thinking of all you already are
I sing
whispered words of comfort
hopeful my transcendent love
permeates all your memories
redeems all mistakes
points you on The Way
I dream
seeing the fullness of your years
hoping the future is full of light
praying time brings grace
to you and through you
bringing joy, peace and comfort
I cling
these fleeting moments
aching in my heart and soul
a beautiful pain
purposefully impressed memories
pondered forever in my heart
Here I sit, holding you
thankful, grateful you are mine.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Getting Lost in the Days

We have been homebound this winter due to the smallest one's tiny immune system. This has been a great thing, to say the least! It has given me much bonding time with Big Brother and The Baby. Big Brother is conquering potty training. The Baby is growing and wrapping us all around his little finger.

I am not a fan of cold weather so it is no punishment for me to stay home when it is windy, cold and snowy! With the amount of snow we have had this year, it's been nice to have an "excuse" to stay in and snuggle!

Big Brother pelting Daddy with snow
I once had a conversation with a family member I hadn't seen in a while, and when I asked him how he'd been, his rueful reply was, "I'm subsisting." Those words have haunted me ever since. He wasn't subsisting in the sense that he barely had the necessities of life; he meant that he was treading water and felt discouraged. I decided on that day that I would never "subsist." I want to actively pursue meaning and learning and growing every day of my life.

One thing I've noticed recently, though, is how easy it is to get lost in the days as they pass, especially when nothing terribly exciting is currently happening. It is easy to allow the hours and days and weeks slip by without even thinking about goals and purpose and worship. It's almost as if you wake up one morning think to yourself, "What am I doing, really?"

It's so important that I remind myself to live purposefully, even in the quiet moments. Boredom is not an option. (I recently read a quote from Beth Moore about boredom: "If we are bored then we may be out of touch with God." It resonated so powerfully with me.) Not getting lost in the days is about making the most of the time I am given, and not wasting an opportunity to bloom where I am... even if that means that the only ones who see the petals are mere babes!

Friday, March 8, 2013

My Sword 2013

For most of my adult life, I didn't make scripture memory a priority. I knew it was something that I should be doing, but couldn't quite find the motivation to discipline myself in this way. When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I went through some emotional trauma that caused me to start meeting with an older woman so she could mentor me. She really encouraged me to memorize some scripture to help me battle some of the things I was facing, and picked out a few verses for me. One in particular, Isaiah 26:3, carried me through labor and delivery! From that experience, I learned the power of the memorized Word. There was no going back!

There is a reason that Paul called the Word of God "the Sword" in Ephesians chapter six! When I am under attack, I can recall scripture that I have memorized and actively fight against it. This became a HUGE part of ground that I gained in my spiritual life in 2011 as I battled against insecurity. I made it a priority to memorize scripture that I could use to fight against the temptation to feel insecure, and what a difference it has made! (Not that I have arrived by any means, but now I am fully equipped to do battle when I feel attacked.)

In January of 2011, I joined the Living Proof Ministries blog community in committing to memorize two verses per month in their "Siesta Scripture Memory Team" and found that a useful tool for accountability. LPM does the SSMT every other year, but for 2012 I went ahead and followed the same game plan. I'm excited to be doing SSMT again in 2013. (It's not too late if you want to join in... to find out more, go here.) I wanted to do blog posts about the verses I selected in 2012, but didn't make that happen. I decided this week that I would write a blog post about each verse that I memorize in 2013 under the post title "My Sword." I'm playing catch-up, as the year is nearly a quarter over already, but that's okay!

I try to select verses that apply to what I'm dealing with in my life at the current time. I keep them in a spiral notebook that I carry with me, and I say them over to myself whenever I can. When I was working, I would use my drive time as scripture memory time. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I say my verses. When I am doing tasks that don't require a lot of brain power (dishes, feeding the baby, etc.), I say my verses. When I feel under attack, my verses are at the ready!

I can't say enough about the power of the memorized Word. God's word is alive and active, and I'm grateful that I can infuse it in ME. Praise His name!

My Sword, V5

"Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord! Renew them in our day, in our time, make them known; in wrath remember mercy."
Habakkuk 3:2

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the evil in the world. It can be easy to forget that there is hope because we have chosen the side of victory when all we hear is doom and gloom and all we see is that life is HARD. I recently read a book in which a man of faith performed miracles just because he loved God so much that miraculous things happened wherever he went. (Perhaps I should review that book in another post--- it was a worthwhile read to be sure!) We see so few miracles in our day! Maybe that's because we have so little faith... or maybe the miracles are there, but we don't see them because we aren't looking for them! When next I feel discouraged by the evil that surrounds us, I will remind myself of this verse, and start actively seeking the deeds of the Lord!

My Sword, V4

"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He. Before me, no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me."
Isaiah 43:10

One of my major life battles has been to fight against insecurity. There are lots of layers there; perhaps that is a topic for another day. However, this verse is one that reminds me that the God of the universe, Creator Most High, has chosen me. Of all of the tiny, insignificant drops in the sea, He not only sees me and cares. He chose ME! He wants me to know Him! He wants me to believe Him! He wants me to understand! He wants a relationship with ME. If there is any weapon against insecurity, it is this verse! How can one be insecure when she knows that the Lord wants her!? Any time that I feel the tendrils of insecurity wafting around me, I can shout these words to the rooftops and rejoice.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Sword, V3

Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you.
He will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22

We carry so many burdens through life. Some, we pick up of our own choosing. Others are tossed, lobbed, pelted and torpedoed onto our shoulders. Still others are stealthily placed before we even realize the weight has been added. My good friends have heard me remind them "that is not your burden to carry!" I have to remind myself that on a nearly daily basis. This verse is a wonderful reminder to me that there is Someone who will carry the load for me - praise Him! - for I cannot carry it on my own!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Sword, V2

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
Isaiah 49:16

I want so much to be loved. I think that must be the longing of all our hearts. I don't want the silly kind of "love" our culture perpetuates. I want the kind of love that looks past my flaws and my deficiencies and impurities and sees me... the REAL me, who I am, and loves me for who I am and as I am. When I read Isaiah 49:16, I was reminded that my God has this kind of love for me. The scriptures say that He holds me in His hand, but this verse says so much more than that. He loves me enough to engrave or tattoo me on his hands. He is ever mindful of my "walls" (limitations? insecurities? deficiencies?), and they are not a deterrent to Him.

Even more than this, I am reminded that He loves those that I love with this same passion, and this gives me great peace. My beloveds are so much more beloved to Him! THEY are engraved on his hands, as well! THEIR walls are continually before Him! He loves THEM for who they are and as they are. As a mother, what more can I ask, but that my children are truly loved?

Praise the Lord. He is the Lover of my soul.

My Sword, V1

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

For several years now, I've secretly told myself, "You need to work on your prayer life. You don't pray enough." In times of trouble, or heartache, or just plain idleness, I want my default setting to be conversation with my Best Friend. It doesn't come naturally... why is that?

Praying is talking... and a conversation with a good friend takes work! Even (especially?) in this world of constant media communication, I rarely seem to have a good, ol' fashioned conversation with people.  It's just easier to "connect" via media; it takes real work to carve out the time to call or meet and actually talk.

So it is with our most important relationship. I chose Romans 12:12 for my first memory verse of 2013 because I needed the reminder to pray FIRST. (I also needed the reminder to rejoice in hope, but more on that later!) When I feel the stress begin to skate up my back, when my heart is downcast, and when I have a few moments where my brain isn't necessarily occupied (like when I do the dishes!), I want to be purposeful about prioritizing those opportunities.