Posted by: pollyw | June 27, 2016

Do not fear…

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I love it when God uses His Word to encourage me. I especially love it when He uses His Word to remind me that He is my protector and my strength. So many times I feel less than capable for the big problems that come up in life. During those times, it really helps to lean on a favorite Scripture and talk to God through His Word. Isaiah 41:10 is a really good verse to pray back to God.  Here is how I like to use this verse when I am talking to the Lord.

First, I break it down into smaller sections.

The beginning says, “Do not fear“. That makes me think about what I am fearing in my life right now…today. I might even make a list. If I feel like journaling, I can write my fears down. Then I talk to the Lord about each of those fears.

“For I am with you“. It’s nice to have people with us during scary times, but when we remember that the Lord is with us, hope and help are just around the corner. So, with this part, I would talk to God about all of the other people and things that I might be leaning on instead of Him and ask Him to help me see where He is working in my life.

For I am your God” Here I would think about the things that are getting in the way of leaning on Him. Am I looking to other sources for help? Am I using something else to avoid my fears, like procrastination? I would talk to Him about these things and ask Him to help me really lean on Him as my one and only God.

“I will strengthen you and help you”  Where am I weak and need strength? Where do I need help? I would use this part of the verse to pray those things back to Him and also thank Him for being my help and strength. If I’m journaling, I might even draw a picture that would help me remember this part. I like to post Scripture around the house. This would be a great one to stick on a post-it note.

“I will uphold you with My righteous right hand”  Where do I need upheld? Where am I so low that I feel I will never be able to get back up again? God is reminding me in His Word that I don’t have to worry about getting myself back up, that is what He will do for me, with His own hand.

I can honestly say that praying Scripture helps focus my prayers when I am feeling scattered. It reminds me of God’s truth when I am surrounded by the world’s worries and it gives me a way to keep His truths in my heart as I make it through the hard days.

Is there a favorite Scripture you would like to pray back to the Lord? I would love to hear about it. Tell me about it in the comment section. You might encourage someone else!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: pollyw | June 16, 2016

3 Life Lessons I Learned from My Son

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I had no idea that I was the pupil today. I was just the mom with a lot of stuff on her plate. The Lord planned on teaching me things from my 9-year-old — I’m glad I was paying attention. Today, this little guy had a follow-up to make sure that a surgery he had made it through in December was still giving us the results we needed. The surgery had helped solve a problem he had been fighting since he had been in the womb (womb — such a dramatic word). In the last few years, the problem had turned painful. At any time, on any day, he would say that his side was hurting, and the next thing we knew he would be lying curled up on the floor, moaning in agony. It started to take a mental toll on him. He began to wonder each day if it was going to be a good day or a bad day.

Each time he was tested, we would ask the Lord to please help us find out what was wrong. We held him tight when he was hurting and prayed with him that he would be healed. We had nowhere to turn because no one could figure out what was happening. The Lord knew, but we had to wait on Him to let us know. It was hard to wait. Very hard. It seemed as if no one would ever figure it out. We knew a lot of things it wasn’t, but still didn’t know what it was.

Finally, through a series of events and recommendations, we found the doctor who would systematically rule out the “wasn’t” list and come up with a working diagnosis. With this diagnosis, he was able to scope and then surgically repair the kidney issue that had been plaguing my son from the time before he was born.

Why am I telling you this long back story? To bring you to today. This was the follow-up appointment. The day he had nuclear tests to make sure all had gone as planned, and that the kidney was working as it should. After the test, the doctor had arranged for us to visit him to hear the results.

We were sitting patiently in his office waiting to hear the results. He walked in, looked at my 9-year-old and said, “You’re cured! The tests look great.” My little guy threw his hands in the air and gave out a “Yippee!” as he jumped in the air. I loved it. A true celebration at such great news. My insides were shouting “Yippee!” too, but we all know adults aren’t allowed to celebrate like that in public places in front of doctors, right? We are just supposed to nod, hug our child, and say how grateful we are that everything is better.

Life Lesson #1: Really celebrate when the Lord answers your prayers. Don’t worry about your  “Yippees” being inappropriate when you see the Lord working something big in your life. Let Him see you celebrate! The Bible says He shouts for joy over you (Zephaniah 3:17), so join Him!

Life Lesson #2: Keep waiting on the Lord, even when waiting is hard. Especially when waiting is hard. Our little guy never gave up. He knew the Lord had his best interest at heart and held out for the day He would heal him. There were some rough days. Days when he could have given up, but he didn’t. Days when a grown up might have been tempted to yell at the Lord for taking so long. This guy just kept pouring out his heart and turning it over to the Lord to let Him handle it.

Life Lesson #3: When things are scary, like IVs and surgeries, ask others to pray for you and be there for you. The past year has contained some painful and frightening tests to try to rule out issues for him. He would let us know he was scared and ask us to pray for him. He didn’t think it was up to him alone to pray for help. He let us know when he needed someone to hold him up physically and spiritually through the rough moments. He also let his Sunday school teachers, friends, and school teachers know what was going on and asked them to pray for him.

It may be summer, but school was in session for me today. The Lord showed me some really neat things through my little guy. It feels good to be on the other side of an issue that has been going on for so long, but I want to make sure I remember the journey.

It’s funny, as we were leaving the hospital that has been the center of so much pain and suffering for him with all of the tests and surgeries, he looked around and said, “I sure am going to miss this place!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: pollyw | October 16, 2015

The Disappearing Kid Trick

I like reading Bible stories and applying them to my life.  Usually, I read the story first and it reminds me of something that has happened in my life.

Yesterday, the opposite happened.  It was a crazy afternoon already, the kind where nothing was going as I expected.  I had finished the after school drop offs/pick ups of the older kids for their activities and raced home to meet the littles at the bus stop.  I was anxious to get there because the school nurse had called me and said that she was sending my second grader home with an ice pack from an unfortunate fall during “stinky feet” time at school (walking around with no shoes is a treat for these kiddos).  All that to say, I was relieved to see the bus pull up and my injured stinky feet participant emerge with a huge toothless grin, balancing an ice pack and her lunch box as she ran to hug me.  I waited for my third grader to hop off the bus, but he was not coming.  I asked his sister — she didn’t know where he was.  I checked with the bus driver, and a simple shrug with a, “He’s not on the bus” was all I got before she drove away.

Apparently, the school was trying to call me as I was trying to reach them, and I couldn’t get through.  In desperation, I called my friend, the school nurse, and let her know what was going on.  She immediately went to the office and found our guy sitting there, waiting to be picked up.  Relief flooded over me as I made the short drive to the school and found him calmly doing his homework in the front office.

Turns out he had missed the call for the bus departures because he was very involved in a computer presentation he was working on, and was hard to spot behind the big computer monitors.

This morning, as I was thinking about the whole incident.  It reminded me of the Bible story when Jesus was 12 and the family discovered He wasn’t with the group as they were returning home.  Here it is:

Luke 2:41-52 New International Version (NIV) (courtesy of Biblegateway.com)

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

When I’ve read this story in the past, I have thought about how scary it must have been for his parents when they didn’t know where He was.  Yesterday, I lived a mini-version of it.  Mary didn’t have a friend like a school nurse to call and see if He was in Jerusalem.  She didn’t even have a phone.  I wonder if she sent some of the cousins ahead of the caravan to see if they could track him down.  I’m thinking that some scary possibilities went through her head of what could happen to Him.  Thankfully, my ordeal lasted less than 15 minutes.  Mary had to live with it for — three days, did it say?

On teaching note, I went to one of my favorite commentary sites to see what he had to say about this story.  Here is his take on it (from Enduring Word by David Gudziak):

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover: Attendance at the major feasts was commanded in Exodus 23:17 and Deuteronomy 16:16. It was customary for the faithful of Galilee to make these pilgrimages at feast time in large groups

It would not be difficult to lose track of a young boy with such a large group of travelers – we shouldn’t accuse Joseph and Mary of child neglect. But Mary must have felt badly enough, losing the Messiah.

  1. They returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him: As we would expect from diligent and godly parents, they took the effort to find their son Jesus.

  2. I must be about My Father’s business: In that day, there was nothing more natural than a son taking up his father’s business. Jesus did follow in Joseph’s footsteps as a carpenter, but His words here show that He was at least beginning to understand His unique relationship to His Father.

  3. It is impossible to say when, in the context of the self-imposed limitations of His humanity, Jesus realized who He was and what He was sent to do, but it was early – this is probably the not when it began, but when it was in full flower.

  4. I must be about My Father’s business: These first recorded words of Jesus are significant. The surprise implied by these words of Jesus means that He knew that Mary and Joseph did know of His special relationship with God His Father. It means that it must have been an item of discussion and perhaps instruction in the upbringing of Jesus in their home.

  5. They did not understand the statement which He spoke to them: Jesus’ statement told them something about His identity as a unique Son of God the Father, though they did not understand it. In Judaism of that day, a boy began to learn his father’s trade at about 12 years of age. Jesus fulfilled this by instructing the teachers in the temple.

How about you?  Have you had something happen that gave you a new perspective on a familiar Bible story?

Share it with us in the comments section!

Posted by: pollyw | May 13, 2015

God even uses ordinary days…

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  Photo by Polly W.

We were running late, as usual, to get to school this morning. My elementary schoolers and I were racing out the door to get everyone in the car and on the road. We arrived at school, parked, and pushed our way out of the car to walk in. Then, God pressed the pause button on our morning.

There, right beside the curb, was a little river of sorts flowing down the street. There had been a steady stream of rain all night, and the streets showed the evidence of it. I am not one to pass up a river, even if it is kind of an artificial one. We had to stop and play a while, even if we were cutting it close on time.

So, the four kiddos I had with me all found leaves and threw them into the little “street” stream. We had a wonderful time watching them speed to the storm drain at the corner. We even saw one set of leaves get caught in an eddy and swirl around like they were dancing. For five minutes or so, the Lord put the day on hold so I could enjoy some much needed fun time with my kiddos.

You see, this has been a very stressful week, with more to come.  I love that the Lord just covered us in a bubble of His grace to enjoy His creation together and get us started off in the right frame of mind today.

As we had a wonderful time watching the leaves, what we didn’t realize was that we were drawing quite a crowd. When we finished with our activity and headed into the building, everyone asked us what had been so fascinating that we had stopped and stayed there for so long.

They thought we had seen an amazing animal or something along those lines, when all we had done was enjoyed something they had passed up without noticing just moments before. We would have passed it up, too, if the Lord hadn’t given us that gentle nudge to look around and enjoy His creation for a moment.

I love it when He does things like that!

It surprised me that our fascination with the little stream had drawn so much attention from the others around us. It got me to thinking. What if our daily walk with the Lord drew that much attention from others?

What if we shared what He was doing in our lives more often, especially when He was doing something within the confines of our ordinary day?

I think it would draw attention to what the Lord might be doing in their lives.

How about today we try to really keep our eyes open to what He is doing in our lives and share it with someone at the end of the day? It might be a neat way to draw others closer to Him and remind them that He has His hand on the ordinary things in their days, too.

Posted by: pollyw | December 22, 2014

Rainy days, gotta love ’em

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Photo by Polly W.

It was the last day of school before Christmas break.  My elementary school kiddos were running around the house trying to get ready for their few hours of school that day.  My girlie who has to eat gluten free was busy packing her “party box” full of her favorite goodies to eat for the class party.  With all of this stuff in tow, I decided to take them to school instead of sending them on the bus.

The rain was pouring down as we got out of the car and headed for the crosswalk.  My kiddos huddled under the umbrella as we worked to get our cadence in sync to keep from tripping over each other and make it into the school semi-dry.  We made it to the door, prayed for the day, and off they went.

Feeling successful, I headed back out to my car.  The other school children were still streaming in from the car rider line.  One little girl was dressed up for the big class party and was getting soaked as she was trying to hurry up the sidewalk.  I put the umbrella over her and turned to escort her into the school.  Her big smile was a wonderful thank you.  Further up the sidewalk, another little girl’s umbrella flipped inside-out with a big gust of wind.  I tried to help her with her umbrella and put her under mine so I could get her into the school quickly.  Turned out she knew my youngest daughter.  That was neat.

As I was leaving the school, I was thinking about how easy it was to help those girls, and how it seemed to make a big difference in their days.  Using the one thing I had in my hands at that moment, I was able to keep those girls from spending the next hour or two in soggy clothes.  Not that it had anything to do with me — I was available, so the Lord used me.  What was really cool was that He used me without even letting me think about it.  I love it when He does that!  No thinking involved, but good works are done.  No hard decisions to be made, but people are helped.

What are the easy ways He uses you to help other people?  If nothing comes to mind, ask Him if He will show you some, or ask if He is doing it already in your life.  Leave a comment and let me know what you come up with.

Posted by: pollyw | December 17, 2014

Cookie houses were meant to be eaten?

 

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It’s not often that I post a picture of food with a pair of bare feet visible in the background.

I made an exception in this case.  The little feet belong to the artist who created this Christmas masterpiece.  Our youngest kiddo proudly brought this home from preschool last week.  I love graham cracker houses and was ready to proudly display it on the kitchen table for all to see during the Christmas season.  As it turned out, that wasn’t even a consideration for the young artist.  I mean, after all, it was made of candy — what other use could there be for a candy house but to be enjoyed as a dessert after lunch?  The maker had different plans for the house than those of us in the crowd.  It delighted him to be able to eat that yummy house after lunch, even if he did have to wait while Mom took a few pictures (note the patient crossing of the feet in the background).  He shared pieces of candy with his siblings (although Dad did have to bargain pretty hard to get a piece at first) and it did turn out to be a joyous thing when we followed his plans as the maker of the house.

It reminds me of how God, who made us, sometimes has different plans for us than we think He should have.  Not to mention when His plans for us are different than those in the crowd think we should have.  He is our maker, and His word promises that the plans He has for us are more than we can think or imagine and that they are meant for good, not harm.  (Side note: That’s where the analogy falls apart for the poor cookie house — it got eaten)

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Ephesians 3:20Living Bible (TLB)

20 Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.

Sounds like a pretty good deal.  Give the Maker control, and He promises that you will fulfill His intended purpose for you.  Oh, and don’t forget the part about it being more than you could ever dare to dream of, or even know to ask for.

I remember reading this verse a long time ago.  We were post-marriage ceremony, but pre-kids.  As I was doing my Bible study that morning, I remember looking up into the big oak tree in our backyard and asking Him what He meant by “more than I could hope for or know to ask for”.

Well, I can definitely tell you that He has lived up to that verse in our lives in so many ways, and continues to do so on a daily basis.  Six kids in almost nine years?  Who would have thought or known to ask for that?  A husband who likes the idea of me staying home with those six kids — I didn’t even know I wanted that, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  A freelance writing career starting up — that didn’t even seem possible two years ago.

I’m not saying my life is perfect, I get in my own way far too often to say that.  But I do know that I serve a God who continues to live up to those words He showed me so long ago.  He continues to promise that He has a hope and a future for us.  We just need to let Him show us the way.

How about you?  Do you have any stories about how He has brought things into your life that were more than you knew “to ask of or even dream of”?  Feel free to leave a comment and let me know.  I would love to hear about it!

Posted by: pollyw | December 8, 2014

Who knew Jesus’ hands were so small?

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(Note: This was written this past summer and I am posting it for the first time today)

Sixteen years ago today…seems like not that long ago. Sixteen years ago today, I married my amazing husband. The Lord knew what He was doing when he gave me this guy. His calm, not get rattled, easy demeanor balances out my “let’s sign up for everything and do everything” demeanor very nicely. The Lord knew I would need someone who was good with money because He had six little gifts to give us in the future, and at some point, those gifts would be heading off to college. The Lord also knew that a little bit of spark and creativity would come in handy along Jack’s journey through life, so here I am…sixteen years later.

I thought today I might feel a little off because my guy is out of town (for one day) with our oldest kiddo. Long story, but it was a mutual agreement because it was an annual event that just happened to fall on our anniversary. All that to say, I just figured we would celebrate our “married-ness” by going out a few days after they returned. I am a celebrate-on-the-day kind of person, though, so I knew it might sting a little whenever I looked at the calendar today.

Well, the Lord had bigger plans for me than to sit around feeling sorry for myself. This morning, I woke up, wondered how the guys were doing at their event, and headed off to brush my teeth. When I returned to my bed, there was a hand written card from my two oldest girls. It was addressed to “the best mom in the whole world”. Inside the envelope was a hand printed menu for a breakfast in bed that I was being surprised with that morning.

As if that weren’t amazing enough for a worn out mom, they said that after breakfast I was to stay in bed and relax while they watched “the littles” (that’s what we call the youngest members of the family who are 3, 5, and 7 years old).  I was surprised, amazed, and, honestly, relieved.  I could feel the Lord’s hand all over this.  My girls were showing His love to me on a day when I really needed it.  I have to say, I soaked it in for all it was worth.  Did I mention there was a “spa appointment” involved in the day, too?  I had the two most amazing spa workers right there in my room, making sure I felt relaxed, cared for, and loved.  Handmade chocolate stars were part of the spa package right before lunch.

Today the Lord gave me a wonderful, very unexpected, gift. He helped me relax and just receive all of this pampering from two sets of small hands that He had given to me.  He was right there in the middle of these two girls who were taking care of their mom on a day when she really needed it.  They knew exactly what I needed on a day that was going to be hard to get through.  It was a wonderful anniversary — one I will cherish forever.

It makes me want to make sure I keep my hands available for Him to use when someone needs to feel His love, just like the little hands He used to take care of me today.

Have you ever felt the Lord’s hands taking care of you through someone else?  Feel free to share in the comments section.

Posted by: pollyw | August 6, 2014

Cable withdrawal

Wow, we have really “roughed it” this week at our house. No, our electricity didn’t go out for a week. And, yes, our cars are all still functioning. This was roughing it on a much different scale. We had to “virtually” rough it – our cable and wireless were out. Now, if you had told me in advance that they would both go out on Thursday morning. I would have probably said, “Yeah, that will be inconvenient, but we will survive it.” (Note to past self, it’s bigger than you know.)

I had no idea how “wired” our family is to the outside world. It seemed like every action I needed to do during the day somehow involved an internet/cable service that was no longer available as an option. I have a writing project to finish. I need to get in touch with people about my daughter’s party. What was that recipe for grilled chicken? The list goes on…

After talking to the cable providers about it, I felt very abandoned when they said they couldn’t help us for a week. I even tracked down a poor cable worker sitting in his truck just down the street from our house to see if it was a neighborhood thing, or just us. I felt like a survivor in one of those “end of the world” movies desperately approaching the poor guy in his cable truck trying to eat his lunch in peace. In my mind, I thought he would sense my desperation, roll up his windows, and speed away. Thankfully, he didn’t. But, alas, he wasn’t able to help us. “Just here for an install,” he said. His words cut like a knife. More wounding from the cable giant.

When my husband and I wanted to find a movie for our date night, I had to call my sister in another city to look up movie options for us. Later, my husband and I wandered the streets (actually just two doors down) to our friend’s house, laptop in hand, to borrow a little wireless so we could find the show times for our movie. I felt so needy…and desperate. But our friends were a warm welcoming home, not ones to judge. They shared with us their woes over past cable losses.

What I did find refreshing throughout this whole “ordeal” was how our six children handled it all. These children, who are indigenous to the digital age, just kind of shrugged their shoulders and went off to play other games. They happily watched DVD’s when they wanted to see something on TV.

It got me to thinking, the digital world is apparently very entrenched in me. As a Christian, I want to be found to be even more wired into Christ. I want to have every minute of my day consumed in His way of thinking and His take on things. I want to lean on Him in the good times and the bad. That is one connection that will never fail me – His Word promises it!

Posted by: pollyw | April 10, 2014

Little hands to hold

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Once again, the Lord has been teaching me some lessons through my children. Every school day I take my kiddos to school. My youngest schooler right now is in kindergarten. At the beginning of the school year, she was very uncertain about going down the hallway to her class. As a parent, I was only allowed to go so far before I had to let her walk the rest of the way on her own. She would hold my hand tightly as we slowly walked down to the double doors where she would have to go it alone. As the year progressed, she held my hand less tightly and would even skip along, her ponytail bouncing up and down all the way to the double doors. Now that is almost the end of the year, she doesn’t even need to hold my hand, but does enjoy the company if I walk her down to the double doors. If she spots one of her friends along the way, they both instinctively reach for each other’s hands to walk each other to class.

Although it is hard to be boosted from the hand holding position so easily, it is nice to see that the Lord has given her friends to walk with her along the way. As she has grown in independence, I have been given a tiny view of our future together as mom and daughter. As she grows, I will be replaced as the hand holder by friends that the Lord will bring into her life. It seems so bittersweet and it makes my heart ache, but I will need to trust that as I turn her daily dependence on me over, that I turn it over to the Lord and trust that He will bring the people into her life who will point her to Him. He has faithfully done that in my life right now. I have a core group of friends who support me and get me through the hard times, all the while pointing me to Him and His plan for my life.

I know I will always be a strong influence and source of support her entire life, but as a friend of ours once reminded us, we must give them roots and then give them wings. Our parents have done it for us, and they remain a strong source of physical and emotional support to this day, but they have also given us wings to live our lives and raise our family.

By turning our children over to the Lord in prayer, we hope to do the same for them. By looking to the Scriptures daily for things to pray over them and their present (and future) friends, maybe it will make my heart ache a little less as I remember that the Lord is the only one who can truly protect them.

Posted by: pollyw | January 20, 2014

Secret Language

Life with a three year old around the house is an adventure. They have their own way of doing things and can’t understand why the adults around them aren’t catching onto their view of things. Our current three-year old has his own timetable (do it now), his own idea of perfection (watching Thomas the Tank Engine videos all day would be a perfect day), and even his own secret language.

This past month he has been trying earnestly to teach us his secret language. “Nife-kin” means napkin. “Fruity” means Fruity Pebbles (okay, not the most nutritious breakfast, but it meets our gluten-free needs around here). But, I have to say my favorite is the number “20”.

The number 20 can be translated to mean “a lot”. If he wants apple slices, he wants 20. If he is thirsty and is asking for juice, he wants 20. The best part of the day, though, is when he says, “I love you 20!” Because when he says that, he is saying that he loves you the most he can love you in his three-year old world. Oh, and don’t try to match his love, he will tell you that you can only love him “2”, he is the only one that can love “20”.

It reminds me of what the Lord says in His Word: He loves us with an everlasting love. How can we match that? We bring our “2” love to the Lord, but He still loves us “20”.

So, go out there and remember that you are loved “20”. Spread the Lord’s “20” love to others this week. Even if people bring less than 2 to the table, the Lord can love others through you with his spilling over kind of love!

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