Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Spending time that matters!

On Monday night Gwen and I spent the evening painting together!  Not painting walls.....actually doing art.  I had spent so much time painting with the kids (actually watching the kids paint) during the time that Gwen and Tim were away, so it was fitting that Gwen and I made plans to do some painting together.  As you all know, time is a valuable commodity.  Anyone with a family knows that an evening away from the kids is something to celebrate.  This special night was, in fact, a very delayed birthday present for Gwen.  The time together was wonderful.  Anytime that Gwen and I have a chance to actually sit and talk without the kids around is wonderful.  Add to that, the chance to try something very much outside of our comfort zone!  This was at the end of the evening.......
If you look closely you can see the painting that we actually did.  It was called Zen Mountain and Gwen thought it looked easy to paint.  Well, it was far from easy.  Gwen was worried about the branches of the tree and I feared the leaves.  Gwen's tree turned out leaves, not so much.  But it was such an enjoyable evening.  In the end, we were both satisfied with our paintings.  

It was one of those times that I was thankful for a long drive home as I was just basking in the evening.  As I was thinking about the painting, I realized that it was exactly something that I had been hearing from Jesus.  That tree was a splash of color against a grey/black background.  That is exactly what we are called to be.  A splash of the light of Jesus in the darkness of the world.  Even though my painting was in the back seat, I was remembering what I had painted.  Suddenly I was remembering some very important lessons I had heard from the Lord over the years.  Not only is that tree the splash of color in this painting, that tree is growing out of a large rock!  It is obviously rooted deeply in that rock!  Could there be a more clear Biblical application.  Jesus is the rock that we must be planted on.  Our roots have to go deep on that solid ground if we are going to be able to stand the storms of this life.  When our roots are secure.... when we are drinking from the stream of living water that is at the center of that rock,  WE are secure.  And we are a beautiful blast of color and joy in the darkness and despair that is all around us.  

Isn't it great how Jesus will use everything that we do to remind us that He is active in every aspect of our life?  Even when we plan an evening out to do something like this, there is a lesson in it!  It makes me feel secure knowing that even when I don't think about it, Jesus is aware of my plans!  I am so thankful that Jesus is my rock and I can bloom without thinking about it, because of HIM!   

Yes, painting is fun.  Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna certainly showed me how wonderful it can be during our time together.  I confess that I never painted at all during that time.  I was focused on keeping the kids painting exactly where they were supposed to be painting!  Alas, this was a mistake.  I most likely would have really enjoyed painting with them.  So the next time I have the chance, I will be picking up the paint brush.  I am very thankful for my Zen Mountain painting.  Every time I look at that painting on my wall, I will see Jesus and the wonderful light, life and joy that He brings into me!

Jesus, thank you for wonderful times together with Gwen.  Holy Spirit, thank you for showing me a wonderful lesson through this painting.  Help me to remember that no matter how dark it seems all around me, as long as my roots are on the Rock - Jesus will shine his light out into the world.  Amen

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

When you feel like you are under the weight of the world............

Here is yet another picture from my time with my grandkids!  That week seems like it happened a long time ago, but in reality it was just a bit over a week ago.  As I have been back in my "real" life, I have been digesting and meditating on everything I heard from the Lord during my time away.  And when you add all the stuff I have been doing in the last week or so, well..... it is heavy!   I just loved Anna in the slide while the older kids were on top of the slide.  I was glad that that slide protected Anna from the weight that was just over her head.

Over the last several months I have been hearing a song that has really spoken to me and when I was thinking about this picture, it came to my mind.  It is called Diamonds by Hawk Nelson.  It is worth listening to, just click on the link!  Here are the lyrics....


Here and now I'm in the fire, 
In above my head
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
Being held under the pressure, 
Don't know what'll be left
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
But it's here in the ashes
I'm finding treasure

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining in his timing 
He's making diamonds out of us

I'll surrender to the power
Of being crushed by love
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
Till the beauty that was hidden
Isn't covered up
Oh, oh, oh oh, oh, oh
Oh it's not what I hoped for
It's something much better

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making diamonds out of dust
He is refining in his timing 
He's making diamonds out of us

Oh the joy of the lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making diamonds

Oh the joy of the lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making diamonds

Oh the joy of the lord
It will be my strength
When the pressure is on
He's making, he's making 

He's making diamonds, diamonds
Making us rise up from the dust
He is refining in his timing 
He's making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us

I won't be afraid to shine
I won't be afraid to shine
I won't be afraid to shine
Cause he's making diamonds out of dust
Making diamonds out of us 

I particularly love the two verses that I have highlighted.  It is the joy of the Lord that carries us during those times of such great pressure.  And if we can only remember that when there is that pressure,  Jesus is refining us.  With His joy we can rise up and shine like those diamonds.  When I looked at the picture of the kids and that tunnel slide, I was thinking about how great it would be if we could see Jesus as that solid tunnel of protection around us.  Then, when the pressures of this world do weigh us down, we can remember exactly what is happening.  He is refining us and it is all in His timing.  The purpose is not to crush us, but rather to clarify and make us so beautiful in His image.  That was his plan and purpose from the very beginning.  He took dust and created Adam in His own image - making something so amazing out of ordinary dust.  What diamonds we are!  All so beautiful.... all with different facets and all of us just sparkle in the light of Jesus!  The very best part of God's amazing incredible plan is that when we are filled with the Spirit and Jesus is the center of our life, it is HIS very light that shines forth from within us.  And when that light shines, everything around is changed.  We don't have to DO anything.  His wonderful light just shines forth.  WOW!  That sure puts a different perspective on the pressures and weights of this world.  

So, when things get heavy and you think you just can't go on, just find the joy of the Lord.  And remind yourself that Jesus is refining and make you into one beautiful diamond! 

Jesus, thank you for this reminder of your great plan and purpose.  Holy Spirit, help us to see the really big picture and to see ourselves as your beautiful creations - diamonds!  Amen

Friday, June 24, 2016

Painting a new picture......a new way!

One of the special presents that Gwen left for the kids, were these really amazing "paint" sticks.  They are actually solid tempra paints in a push up tube.  They work sort of like markers, but they look like paint on the paper.  And they dry quickly!  Needless to say, Anna loved them.  So did all the other kids!  During the week, we did lots of painting.  Finger painting, water color painting, special paint brush paints, paint stick paints, these dry paint sticks, and face paints....I'm sure that I am forgetting some.  These kids love to paint!

It is interesting watching a two year old paint.  They start with blank paper and then make a total "mess" and when they are done, they are so proud of their painting!  They don't think that they have to paint a certain way.  They just put color on the page.  It is a delightful thing to watch.

I've been thinking about how many times I force myself to "color inside the lines" or only worse yet, I don't even pick up that paint brush because I am afraid of what others think.  This fear of man is sometimes just so powerful.  Fear is an interesting thing.  Even when you know that you don't need to FEAR, sometimes it still changes how you act.  There is so much fear on the internet these days.  It is everywhere.  People are fearful of terrorists.  They are afraid about what is happening to our country.  They are afraid to be judged as intolerant.  Yet, those who are judging are often the ones who are being intolerant of those with conservative beliefs.  I can't tell you how often I hesitate to post one of these blog posts because I am suddenly hit with fear about what people might think and/or say about the views I have expressed.  Isn't that silly?  I don't really know most of you that read this live all over the world.  Yet, I know that if you have been drawn to read these posts, there is a reason.  And I am determined to share whatever Jesus gives me to share and to trust that the Holy Spirit will bring these words to whoever needs to read them. But I also want to be clear that it is not always easy.

So my encouragement to you today is to color those pictures.  Don't worry so much about what other people will think about you or your painting.  Listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and take those sometimes difficult steps to walk out your life picture whatever that looks like.  All through out scripture we are not be afraid or not fear....  Now more than ever we just need to press on and not give in to fear.  Fear is from the enemy and not from God.  I don't think there is any more important message that I can give than that.  The devil is the author and instigator of fear and terror.   God is love and peace and joy.   There you go.  That is my thought for today!  

Jesus, thank you for reminding me that fear does not come from you.  Holy Spirit help us all to have the courage and boldness to go and to say and to paint all the pictures that you give to us.  Protect us from the overwhelming fear that surrounds us in the world today.  Jesus, help us to show the world who you are through our lives.  Let there be love and peace and joy in our hearts today.  Amen

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Sometimes you just need to be turn a frown upside down!

 On the second day I was with the grandkids, the "big girls" got to go on a playdate with their BFF's!  While this was a welcome break for me, as well as very fun for Lia and Ellie, Zeke was not very happy that he didn't get to go anywhere.  It is really tough being the little brother sometimes.  Anna really didn't even notice that Lia and Ellie were gone.  But Zeke really wanted some kind of special treat or to go someplace very fun.  I had no intention of leaving the house, so I had to come up with something to turn this little boys frown into a smile.  So I created this amazing fort out of the coffee table, the sectional sofa and lots and lots of blankets!  Zeke thought this was so much fun.  He told me that he needed some "alone time" and he took some toys into his fort, took his Kindle and closed the "door" that he had created.
Anna was napping during the building of this fort and I was a bit afraid that she would just pull down all of the blankets when she got up.  Thankfully she wasn't that interested in what Zeke was doing inside the fort and I could easily distract her with these............
She loves stickers and they seem to end up everywhere.  But it was enough to keep the fort intact so that Lia and Ellie could see it when they returned after supper.  Zeke was a happy camper when Lia and Ellie were impressed with his fort and he got to take them on a tour before bedtime. A happy end to the day for everyone!

Anna has this most amazing way of saying her prayers before bed.  After lots of books (I can now recite by heart, several of her favorites that we read over and over and over and over), singing Jesus Loves Me, and hugs and kisses, I would ask if she wanted to pray or if she wanted me to pray.  She always throws herself down on her knees with her hands folded and her face on the ground and very quietly you can hear her "praying" but you can't understand the words.  Then, after a few minutes she says AMEN! and her prayers are done!   I am sure that something very real is taking place between her and Jesus during this special time.  This was a most holy moment of my day, when I knew that Jesus was very present with us.  She has her alone time with blankets necessary!

I was thinking about that fort after all the kids were in bed.  I can't tell you how many times I would have liked to just have a great big blanket fort to shut out all of the cares of the world,  To have a place to run and hide from responsibilities and junk that are swirling around in the world.   And then, to top it all off, a sunny sticker to cover up anything that doesn't look happy.  Around 5 minutes into my "musing" about this, Jesus reminded me that HE is that blanket that covers us and protects us from the darkness of the world.  And any time we feel that we need that place to "be alone" we just have to run into worship and Jesus is there waiting to cover us and surround us with his peace and his love.  Yes, it is a perfect place for some "alone time".  

I needed these reminders so very much.  I don't know about you, but with all the stuff going on out there in the world, it seems so overwhelming.  I am tired of the political garbage.  I am tired of the debate over bathroom usage.  I am tired of hearing about guns and terrorists.  It was actually a blessing to be to busy to read/watch/hear much news.  And I think I will build myself a blanket fort in the wrap around arms of Jesus and then throw myself on the floor and bow my head and whisper my thoughts to Jesus. I sure that his presence and peace will be just the "sticker" I need to end my day.  Won't you join me today?  Let's all be children together!

And Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  Matthew 18:3  

Jesus, thank you for meeting me right where I was during this time with the kids.  Thank you for your great love and faithful presence that brings us close to you.  Holy Spirit, help us all to run to Jesus like little children and be open to share our deepest thoughts in whispers only you can hear.  Thank you for Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna and all the ways you are working in them!  Amen

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A different kind of mission trip...............

You might have noticed that I have been silent for the last week or so.  The reason is that I have been on a different kind of mission trip.  I spent these days being with Lia, Ellie, Zeke and Anna while Gwen and Tim traveled with the youth from their church on a mission trip.  It was quite a week for me.  It has been a long time since I spent this many days taking care of kids, all on my own.  As a matter of fact, I have NEVER taken care of four kids for an entire week.  I came away from this week not only knowing the kids better, but also learning some new things about myself, about life and about Jesus.  I will be blogging about these things in the next few weeks.  Honestly I am still trying to digest all that I learned!  And I am resting!  Those four kids did keep me on my toes and going for the entire week.  I loved every minute of it!  Okay, with total truth telling, I did not like the 20 minutes or so when Anna threw some temper tantrums (very typical for a 2 year old) when mommy and daddy did not come home when she wanted them.  No, I did not like the pitiful screaming and crying and kicking and the running away from me and feeling so totally helpless to do anything to help Anna feel better.  Aside from those few minutes, I just loved my time with these little sweeties.  Just before Gwen and Tim got home last night, Anna climbed up on my lap, gave me big hugs and cuddles.  I told her I was going to be leaving to go home as soon as her mommy and daddy got home.  She grabbed my face and said "No Grama, no home!"  What a sweet little one she is.

I confess, I was quite jealous to see Gwen and Tim go off on this trip.  I have been on several trips and these have always been life changing for me.  When you leave your home and step out of your comfort zone, Jesus always shows up.  Some of the most powerful points of direction and correction have come from these trips.  I also know the warfare that can accompany these trips, so I felt on "prayer alert" for this mission team.  Somewhere around the fourth hour I was with the kids, I realized how much I needed prayer support for my "mission" trip.  I am so thankful that I could call on my small group to stand with me during this week with the kids.  By the end of the first day, I knew that this was probably the most important mission trip I had ever been on.  Keeping Gwen and Tim's house running and the kids happy and safe, while covering them in prayer, was exactly what Jesus wanted me to be doing.  I felt His presence every day and in so many ways.  Having four children is not easy!  There is a lot of laundry. LOTS of laundry.   There are hungry mouths waiting to eat (and have snacks).  There are so many things that these small hands just can not do by themselves.   I was so thankful that Gwen and Tim have done an amazing job of fostering independence in their kids.  But the cupboards are just to high to reach the bowls.  The milk is to full to pour.  Well, you get the idea.  On the first evening, after all the kids were tucked into bed, I opened up my journal to write a few sentences.  As I sat there with pen in hand, just thanking Jesus for the day, praying for Gwen and Tim and their team, one thought appeared on my paper..... THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MISSION FIELD!   Family - children - home..... this is the mission field that matters most to Jesus.  The seeds that are being sown into these children will be watered and grow deep roots.  And the world will be impacted by them.  The thing about this "family" mission trip is that it requires perseverance.  It is a day after day, week after week, twenty four-seven trip.  There are messes and sickness and yes, temper tantrums.  But then there are those wonderful cuddles and hugs.  Those sweet goodnight prayers.  And the smiles and laughter.  What we all have to do is REALIZE that family IS a MISSION!  We should approach family like we do a mission trip.  We should ask for prayer from those close to us.  Every day should begin asking Jesus for direction for the specific activities for the family.  And we should make the most of every opportunity that presents itself to shower the love of Jesus over those around us.

Most importantly, we need to support all of these young families.  The dads are working so many hours, just to provide. And most dads are doing their share of caring for the children and home also.  Many of the moms work outside of the home and then have the children and all their activities on top of that.  This season of the BIG mission trip is seemingly endless and so very heavy.  Most people have heard the quote "It takes a village to raise a child".  I think I would like to change that a little bit and say "It takes the support of the WHOLE body of Christ to carry out the MISSION of the family".

After trying to fill the very large shoes of Gwen and Tim, I am thankful and happy to return to just being Grandma Lyn.  On the first day of filling in, I gained a new perspective about mission trips. It was a privilege and honor to be trusted with these wonderful children.   It was just the start of an amazing different kind of mission trip!

Jesus, thank you for speaking to us and showing us exactly what we need.  Thank you for children and family and time out of our comfort zones.  Holy Spirit, help us all to be more aware of those around us who are in the thick of raising children.  Jesus thank you for your plan that included families.  Thank you especially for children and grandchildren.  Amen

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Another celebration......anniversary!

With Ken away this weekend, I had plenty of time to start looking through all of my scrapbook albums.  This was the first album I picked up.  Thursday was Gwen and Tim's 15th Wedding Anniversary.  It just does not seem possible that this was 15 years ago!

It was such an amazing day.  Didn't she look just amazing?  And quite honestly, I don't think she looks much older now, in spite of four kids and 15 years!  Or Tim either! And I just had to include this picture since I had just posted the picture of my own going away......

I'm not sure that going through old photos is a good way to spend an entire day.  It left me feeling a bit nostalgic and also kind of discouraged.  I thought this was interesting since DISCOURAGEMENT  has been the word swirling around for the last week.  I have seen post after post about praying against the spirit of discouragement that seems to be everywhere right now.  We prayed about this at my small group this week.   Last night I heard an amazing teaching from Dr. Lance Wallnau on this exact subject.  His message was summed up in one sentence... "Let your expectations be on the Lord!".  We tend to get discouraged when we are looking for something from a source that is NOT the Lord.  If we want affirmation or encouragement or even just someone to be with, if we look anywhere but the Lord, we will be disappointed or discouraged.  Lance said that he had been reading Psalm 62 when he came to this thought.  Here is Psalm 62 from The Passion Translation.....

I stand silently to listen for the One I love, waiting as long as it takes for the Lord to rescue me.  For God alone has become my Savior.  He alone is my Safe Place; His wrap-around presence always protects me.  For he is my Champion Defender; there's no risk of failure with God.  So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?  But look at these who want me dead, Shouting their vicious threats at me!  The moment they discover my weakness they all begin plotting to take me down.  Liars, hypocrites, with nothing good to say.  All of their energies are spent on moving me from this exalted place. I am standing in absolute stillness, silent before the One I love; waiting as long as it takes for him to rescue me.  Only God is my Savior, and he will not fail me.  For he alone is my Safe Place, His wrap-around presence always protects me.  As my Champion Defender; there's no risk of failure with God!  So why would I let worry paralyze me, even when troubles multiply around me?  God's glory is all around me!  His wrap-around presence is all I need, for the Lord is my Savior, My Hero and my life-giving strength.  Join me, everyone!  Trust only in God every moment!  Tell him all your troubles and pour out your heart-longings to him.  Believe me when I tell you - he will help you!  Before God, all the people of the earth, high or low, are like smoke that disappears, like a vapor that quickly vanishes away.  Compared to God they're nothing but vanity, nothing at all!  The wealth of the world is nothing to God.  So if your wealth increases, don't be boastful or put your trust in your money.  And don't you think for a moment that you can get away with stealing, by overcharging others, just to get more for yourself!  God said to me once and for all, all the strength and power you need flows from me!  And again I heard it clearly said, "All the love you need is found in me!"  And the Almighty said, "The greater your passion for more- the greater reward I will give you!"

Meditate on that and you will see the direction to just rely on the Lord.  In doing that, we will not worry.  Or be disappointed.  Or discouraged.  So I think I will spend some time musing about this Psalm.  Once again I am so thankful for The Passion Translation!  And I am thankful for scrapbooking and preserving photos that allow us to remember and reflect.  

Jesus, thank you for memories that help us to put our life into perspective.  Thank you for the reminder to trust only in you, Lord.  Holy Spirit, free us from the spirit of discouragement and disappointment and help us to keep our eyes on Jesus.  Thank you for time to read, pray and reflect on all of your great promises.  Amen

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May events just keep on coming!!!!!

Memorial Day weekend also included yet another big family event (picture minus Gwen the photographer) - Lia's 10th Birthday celebration! She decided that we should go Roller Skating so our entire family at least WENT to the rink - we did not all skate.  This picture is after the skating and you can see that there were no (visible) injuries.  This was most likely because Ken and I did not skate!  Neither did Anna!  Ellie got some skates but didn't like all the flashing lights and loud music so she never skated.  But the rest of the crew had a wonderful time zooming around the rink.  Zeke and Lia used a "trainer" (think a walker on wheels made out of PVC pipe.  A really clever way to help young ones skate without an adult) for part of the time.  By the end of the skating, Zeke was going around on his own.  Lia was also much more comfortable and skating well.  And then there was Tim.......  Well let's just say that boy can skate!  He regularly skates on an adult Ice Hockey team, so roller skates were a breeze for him.  Doug could also hold his own and his years of roller blading showed also.  Susie and Gwen both did really well!  Anna had the most fun putting her hands inside of Ellie's discarded skates and pretending to skate!
It was quite interesting to find myself back at that roller rink.  Doug and Gwen talked about all of the time they spent there as kids, and it was lots!  I spent many an hour skating there myself, back in my much younger days!  After the skating we went back to our house for a barbecue and to enjoy the really wonderful weather.  It was such an enjoyable day just being together and there was also plenty of laughing, an usual.  I managed to CHAR (and I mean CHAR) the hamburgers and brats, but it was still good to eat that summer food.

Our back yard opens onto a large park.  That park has made our house so much better over the 39 years we have lived here!  Our small yard does not seem small and we love the open land with a small creek running through it.  We have had quite a bit of rain and that park is actually a water "detention" area to prevent flooding.  Many times that small creek has become a very wide and flowing river.  On Sunday it looked like the park was just a wonderful green carpet of grass.  But as Zeke said "It is very squishy over there!"  Eventually all of the kids had their shoes off and were playing in the water.  Anna was covered from head to toe after using a frisbee as a water shovel!  But for this Grandma, it was just another wonderful part of a really great 10th Birthday Celebration for my sweet Lia.  Lia is really an amazing young lady and it has been such a joy to watch her grow!

Today I was thinking about our roller skating day.  I am very thankful that Ken and I knew our limits and made a choice not to push it!  Sometimes it is good to take a step back and sit on the side lines.  Recently I have been doing a lot of thinking about stepping out and going into new things.  So this seems like a bit of a contradiction!  But just like in roller skating, what is most needed is BALANCE!  There are plenty of times when it is necessary to take that step into that scary new place.  But there are also times (like being over 60 at the roller rink) when it is good to know when to say NO!  I know that I need to seek balance in my life everyday.  Don't we all?   Today at my small group we were talking about information overload.  There is just so much available through the internet that it is  possible to just get muddled with all the stuff you hear.  Taking time to rest and be refreshed in prayer and praise certainly helps with that balance.   We read Psalm 18:30-40 from The Passion Translation (oh how I love that translation!) and these couple of lines really stuck out to us....
From verse 30..... All your promises have proven true..... You are the wrap-around God giving grace to me!   And from verse 34..... You've trained me with weapons of warfare-worship!   That idea of "warfare-worship" was good for a very long discussion!  In another version that verse talks about training our hands, which brought us to our WARFARE needs to be lifting our HANDS in WORSHIP!  The rest of that Psalm talks about how God is going to defeat our enemies in His strength and power.   Isn't that just a great word picture?  As we lift our hands and worship our "wrap around" God, He does the warring for us!  It is all about HIM!  It is much easier to stay balanced in this crazy, busy, over information world we live in when you lift your hands knowing that Jesus has everything under control!   Yes, a wonderful word from Jesus today!

Jesus, thank you for fun family times that keep me grounded and laughing - sometimes at myself!  Holy Spirit help us all to find balance through worship and praise.  Thank you for speaking to us everyday through scripture.  Jesus, help us to know when to step out and when to sit it out!  Amen