Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Blessings

Psalm 136:2-3
Give thanks to the God of gods. His faithful love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His faithful love endures forever.

Giving thanks for...

...Peter and Paul memorizing the Old Testament books together. And laughing through it.

...only two arthritic joints in my Beth. The naproxen seems to have no affect on her arthritis. Unless God intervenes soon, more aggressive drugs are on the horizon. Trying to hope and knowing I need to give thanks anyway. My Savior's time on the cross? It's enough. When Jesus uttered It is finished and gave up His spirit, the curtain tore in the Holy of Holies and our Father became accessible to me, to you. That is always enough. He is enough.

...brothers playing Chess and Uno on rainy days.

...Miss Beth racing her bike through the house on rainy days (part of her therapy).

...a long-awaited snow flurry, though it's still too warm to stick. Those making a living snowplowing will have a lean Christmas. December predictions aren't promising. Husband is ecstatic at this weather news, though sorry for the snowplowers.

...a sign in the neighborhood reading real estate auction coming soon. I first saw it coming back from Beth's therapy appointment. I gave thanks it wasn't our house but shed tears for the evicted. Why make the sign part of a blessing list?  It's a reminder that many desperately need prayer for stable shelter and the ability to give thanks anyway--especially over the holidays.

...the arms of a loving husband.

...clementine oranges.

...Shepherd's Pie for dinner.

...a warm home.

...owning a Bible and knowing it washes me clean and brings me joy.

...children to hug.

...prayers to pray.

...books to read.

...laundry to hang and fold, floors to sweep, dishes to wash, cluttered counter to clear. We do it all for the glory of God, with thanksgiving.

...the book Wild At Heart: Discovering the Secrets of a Man's Soul. A Christian book by a Christian counselor, it teaches how to disciple boys and understand your man. Though written for men, wives and mothers can glean much. I would read it cover to cover without stopping, but alas, my people need food and clean underwear. Or at least food. Just kidding...a load is bleaching in the washer as I type.

The author asserts that three desires are fundamental to men: the desire for battle (thus, the sticks boys constantly pick up), the desire for adventure (few men are homebodies...domestication makes them claustrophobic), and the desire to rescue a beautiful woman. When wives, mothers, and society discount and don't make allowances for these things, a man is lost. Public education doesn't help, with its sit down, be still and be nice expectations. More to come on this book, as part of my Discipling Boys series.

And guess what? My Catherine Marshall book turned up! Someone wrapped it as a pretend present and put it under a bed--a favorite pastime around here, especially around birthdays. More to come on that book as well...if my people stop dirtying their underwear and getting hungry.

On that note, the washer stopped.

What are you thankful for today? And how can I pray for you? It would be a privilege, friend.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giving Thanks, Again

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Giving thanks for... Peter, the idea man, who keeps this place hopping with playtime delight, along with the detail man's help (that would be Paul). The last two days brought library simulation time. Peter and Paul rounded up "library cards" for everyone (our old CA driver's licenses and other old cards) and used Daddy's bible college books to set up a library, from which the kids checked out books, raced the clock and went back to a bedroom to "read" them. Next, they returned them, only to check out more. If they didn't beat the clock they had to pay an overdue fee of 5 cents a book. When checked out, the books were given a small cross stamp in red ink, on the inside back cover--the cross stamp being the smallest stamp they could find. Daddy would never sell his collection of bible scholar books, so I figured a small, inconspicuous stamp wouldn't hurt anything.

...Miss Mary delighting us with her pretend reading. She inserted dates and read thus: "In 1921 they sailed the seas, seeking adventure...."  The boys, so tickled by Mary's readings, congregated outside the bedroom, listening and giggling. "In the 1590's they sailed and ran into aliens."

Okay, I admit it. Mary likes Backyardigan library videos, and though I personally hate them, I say yes a couple times a month. I suspect this is where she might get her "adventure language"? It certainly isn't from The Swiss Family Robinson, which Daddy tried to read to the boys after Mary's bedtime (They boys, it turns out, couldn't handle the Old English yet).

...a day of baking and blessing. I didn't keep the laundry moving yesterday, but we did bake ten dozen cookies, enabling us to bless our mechanic, Gary, and still have some left to enjoy at home. Husband considers it a happy day when he walks through the door at 7:00 PM (following 12 hours away from home), only to find a pie or freshly baked cookies waiting for him. We try to sit down to dinner between 6:30 and 6:45, so that we're all still there when Daddy comes home. He joins us and encourages the girls to finish all their food--a duty I hate. While he eats, the children start on the prayer jars for corporate prayer. The first one done eating, usually Peter, gets the dessert on the table (if we baked something). Next, someone starts on a Bible reading. When dessert is included Miss Beth, almost three, stays around longer. She also loves to unwrap prayers and "read" them after I whisper them into her ear.

...the beginnings of a beat up Bible. Do you have a clean, neat Bible, with pages still perfect? Shame on you, then! I too, have a Bible that doesn't look well studied. A well-used Bible, marked and dated each time a passage is read, is the way to a deeper Christian walk, along with regular prayer--disjointed though it may be. Let's all make 2012 the year our Bibles become marked up and well-studied. I started a few weeks ago with this, and last night I read the Book of Colossians, underlining my favorite verses and dating them with tiny numbers in the margins. Next time I read them, I'll add another date. Miss Beth did not have one of her wake-ups until I'd read the last line. How's that for divine intervention?

...Colossians, which is a beautiful book. My favorite verses below:

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 4:2-6
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

...the whoopee cushion. During my Thanksgiving shopping, I found a $1 whoopee cushion to keep the children busy while we cooked like fiends. Oh, the giggles! All these days later, they're still giggling and trying to trick us into sitting down on the whoopee.

...the morning Lincoln Log creations, which get more elaborate each day. of Daddy reading to his sweeties. Those jean-couch cushion covers, a six-year-old eyesore, need to be dyed indigo blue. I'll get to that eventually, thanks to a friend who suggested doing it in the washer itself. Am I crazy to try that? friends who encourage and love and bless every day. Without much family around and with no time to go on "girlfriend" dates, I sure need my online friends, who help keep me sane. Thank you!

More blessings another time. Looks like library simulation time is over, meaning I'll have to ride herd to get Daddy's books back on the shelves.

Have a blessed day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Counting Blessings Today

- Miss Beth loves her dollies. She had me swaddle them and take them outside for her, where she "read" them a couple stories.

- Baking with my girls. Last week Miss Mary told me, "Making cookies is my favorite thing to do with you, Mommy." It's been a stressful couple of days with arthritis and ADHD. Right about now, I can think of nothing better than baking and cuddling all day, taking in plenty of the Christmas books we checked out at the library.

- Paul's deliciously insane ability to cuddle close, leaving no space. He blesses!

- No one wet the bed last night. Maybe I can catch up on the other laundry?

- As hard as many things feel to me right now, I know any affliction we have pales in comparison to the daily realities our Compassion sweeties and their parents live. Perspective is one of God's tools--compelling us to give thanks and act on our faith.

- My husband and I, very compatible, rarely find anything to fight about. Sometimes I forget what a blessing this is. The past found me disappointed in him at times, but I understand better now how ADHD affects the brain. It's one thing to read about it, and another to see it manifested in a son and a husband. Now instead of being disappointed in them, I'm grateful to be part of God's grace for them. For more than anything, people with brain irregularities need acceptance and unconditional love, not pressure to conform to standards never designed for them.

My challenge at this juncture is to keep the weight on God to help Peter find work he can support his family with--work that capitalizes on his strengths and minimizes his brain weaknesses. How will he support more than himself, and will he marry someone rich in grace? My own husband never found a decent-paying job compatible with his ADHD, partially because the condition went undiagnosed. He also has long-standing double vision, which ruled out the military, the post office, and anything involving driving or navigating. Throughout his life he experienced failure, constant ridicule, and incredible frustration, by not understanding why and how he was different. I beg God for a different outcome for my son!

ADHD people have some unique abilities, but put them in a job with many details, high stress, and constant change, and they flounder--unless it's one of their hyperfocus areas. Since Peter hyperfocuses on nature and homesteading and gardening, I suspect he'll find success in a field that involves those things. The hyperfocusing makes it difficult for them to eat well, sleep enough, and invest in relationships, but it's often the only vehicle for sufficient financial support (if the right field is found early enough).

- A family member responded negatively to my sons' holiday song writing, finding their efforts too "religious" ("all about heaven and angels" were the exact words). Huh? Heaven and angels were never mentioned in the songs, nor implied.  "Now maybe you can write songs about Christmas" was the second comment. (Of course I didn't let my sons read the note, though it was intended for them.) A few positive comments were included, but the sarcasm and anti-religious nature were palpable. If a Son being born isn't about Christmas, what is?

For two days the comments have stolen my peace. I see someone I've prayed for become increasingly hardhearted toward God. I'm looking for a blessing in this folks...I really am. I can come up with only this: my children are being raised as Christians, breaking the cycle of unbelief. Praise God for that! I have to let the rest go, or it will destroy me.

- I know Grace is going to fall like rain today, because God knows I need it. I don't just hope it will happen. I know it will.  That in itself is a huge blessing.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Discipling Boys: Addressing Selfishness

This morning at breakfast I began tweaking our use of prayer jars. Each person now has a personal prayer jar to draw from during corporate prayer, and during private prayer--with the girls receiving one-on-one assistance during their private prayer time.

I wrote out enough prayers to get the children started. They each took a turn dictating.

Peter, just shy of ten, dictated these prayers:

- I pray for more Carolina Wrens and that the starlings will stop fighting.
- That God will provide us each a present.
- Please help us to be able to afford inks (an art supply item).
- I pray that my Grandpas and my Grandma will become Christians.
- I pray that my headaches will go away.
- Please give me more house finches.
- May we have money to visit our sponsor children.
- Please save cousin Chris and give him a godly wife.
- Please help Uncle David's trustee work to go well. I pray for someone to buy his father's house.
- I pray for more chipmunks for Beth and me.

As he dictated, I noticed that most of them focused on himself--other than a prayer for his grandparent's salvation. After several "me" prayers in a row, I suggested, "What needs do other people have?"

Next it was Mary's turn to dictate prayers for her prayer jar. She'll be five in a few weeks:

- I pray that Raphael has a good meal.
- I pray that Stephanie marries a Christian.
- I pray that Peter's ADHD will go away.
- I pray that Divya will have nice meals, no more dirt floors, and an inside kitchen.
- I pray that Mommy's headaches will go away.
- I pray for Peter's OCD to go away.

Next came Paul, age eight:

- I pray that Raphael will have enough food.
- I pray that we can get more Lincoln Logs for Christmas.
- I pray that Peter will have birds.
- I pray that David's father's house will sell in the bad economy.
- May I have a new football.
- I pray that my relatives will know Jesus.

Now, Paul heard me praise Mary for thinking of others first, so after hearing that, he may have curbed the number of "me" prayers he'd originally planned.

I've noticed this same trend when I pray with my husband. I focus outward first; he focuses inward first. Though in his defense, most of his inward prayers involve his family to some extent, such as prayers for his vehicles.

Because men aren't designed as nurturers, I suspect they combat selfishness to a greater extent. A woman's burden is to nurture and serve; a man's is to provide materially (food, shelter, clothing). God gave us an outward focus, and men an inward focus--without which they would struggle to compete and take what they need for their families.

You might call this a big leap on my part, but it's my theory and I'm stickin' to it (to borrow a Collin Ray phrase).

What starts out as selfishness must be channeled in the right direction, so that God's ultimate purpose for a man is realized. We need to help our boys put a check on their selfishness--selfishness with their time, their money, or their possessions. Obviously, not all men are selfish in the same way (some buy a boat or other large "toy" they don't need, while others play golf and spend hours away from their families), but in all cases, loving as Christ loved the church--sacrificially--is a big leap for them. A challenge of a lifetime, in fact.

The other night my husband served the three younger children a small piece of the remaining chocolate cake. Peter would be happy enough with the leftover apple pie, husband surmised.

Unbeknownst to my husband though, Peter had his eyes on that cake all day. He had to listen to Mommy repeat four times, "After dinner."

Finishing his chore project, Peter scurried to the kitchen to fetch his piece of cake. Oh, my. It was ugly, folks.

Instead of expressing disgust at Peter's fit, what did Miss Mary do? She happily gave Peter what was left of her piece of cake--a small piece to begin with. And that girl loves chocolate!

God designed a mother's body to provide for her baby first. Baby's body gets first pick--the nutrients, the calories, the water--through breastmilk. Momma's body absorbs the leftovers (which is not a problem in first-world countries, where people rarely starve).

Miss Mary only did what came naturally--providing for others' needs first.

If giving is so unnatural to our boys--if selfishness is so ingrained--how do we prepare them to love sacrificially? The answer my own life taught me, is this: Thankfulness. A thankful heart is a giving heart.

First, we acknowledge and appreciate what God has given us. We say thank you. Eventually, that appreciation becomes the vehicle for sharing our blessings. Vertical love--Jesus coming down to be the sacrifice--becomes horizontal giving. God flowing through us and then out of us.

I offer the words of Ann Voskamp, who says it best:

And thanksgiving only becomes thanksliving when joy in the blessings given from above — overflows into the blessings given all around.
Thanksgiving only becomes thanksliving when the thanks for His vertical, coming-down grace — is expressed as a horizontal, reaching-out grace.
Thanksgiving only becomes thanksliving — when thanksgiving to God overflows into a joy of giving.
The joy of giving thanks – is ultimately expressed in the joy of giving.
Voskamp quotes taken from this post:

I submit this to you: To raise up sacrificial men, we need to raise thankful boys. God will do the rest. He will take our boy's thanks-giving, and make it thanksliving.

Next in this series, we'll discuss developing a thankful heart in our boys. How do we get there?

photo credit

Friday, November 25, 2011

Counting My Blessings

I'm thankful...

...for these precious girls. 
...for their sisterly love.

...for this rocker. 

...for a little girl who is transformed by nursing and cuddling, and for God, who equipped me to comfort.

...for this delicious meal, which we finally got on the table at 6:00 pm (Late for this holiday, I know. We pull it off without any one to play with the kids. And yes, we forgot to dress for dinner before the photo.)

...a holiday that was, finally, not dominated by ADHD.

...for having my husband with us the whole day! The way to his heart?  Through his stomach. This cliche couldn't be more accurate in my marriage, though he's not picky. Almost any meal will do on a daily basis, as long as meat is included.

...for Paul, who woke up shouting Happy Thanksgiving everyone! He usually wakes up quietly, not saying a word for about twenty minutes. My heart smiled wide at his joy.

...for my Peter, who took charge of the decorations, humble though they are. He looked in every corner of the house to find four candles. Sweet and homemade trumps fancy (in my book). Don't even notice, please, that we drink out of jars gathered from Newman's Own Black Bean and Corn Salsa, which I put in my chili. Matching glasses have long since broken. And as I once said, these "glasses" never topple.

...for a (fake, pre-strung,) tree decorating session this morning not dominated by ADHD stress, thank the Lord!  The adults here wouldn't bother this early, but the kids love it and since it is a lot of work, it may as well be up 30 days. I love corners to hide that we don't have enough ornaments to go all the way around. Something tells me I'm not the only one who uses this trick? 

The picture looks like a fire hazard, but that fireplace is only used for storing puzzles and games up on the mantle, and stuffed animals and big books on the bottom. I keep it loaded up so no one else gets a scar on the forehead from falling against the brick. This is the playroom (mainly used by the kids). Miss Mary's scar (from three years ago) is still visible despite us putting sunscreen on it and keeping her in hats.

...for Lincoln Logs. Peter gets up first and lately he has a Lincoln Log surprise for us every morning. Here is his horse ranch.

...for leftovers in my favorite flavor--sweet potato casserole and sausage apple cranberry stuffing

...for delicious, non-bitter cranberries gently boiled for ten minutes with a cup of orange juice and a cup of sugar. Delectable.

...for letters from Burkina Faso and El Salvador on the same day, along with penpal letters from Wisconsin. Triple treat!

...for Raphael, who sent us a photo of his new jeans and matching shirt and new sandals, courtesy of the $15 we made at our late-summer garage sale. It was worth all that work, though I wish I received a photo of new clothes, plus a farm animal he was able to purchase for milk nutrition. I pray to be able to do this and more, and also that regular letters and small gifts sent with much love, will effectively combat the lies of poverty (you don't matter, God has forgotten you, you're not good enough)

...for a safe, warm home, plentiful space, nutritious food, hot water, washer and dryer and dishwasher, working plumbing (though don't ask about the toilets. My cousin has been busy, but will hopefully help us soon with those. His grandfather, age 93, just passed away and the whole family was very busy providing around-the-clock care for a few months, after colon cancer was diagnosed in late summer. He lived a long, blessed life)

I have more blessings, but husband took the kids to the park and I have, count them, four overflowing laundry baskets of clean clothes to fold. So much less stressful to do that on the few occasions I find myself alone.

Have a blessed time with your families this weekend! I wish you turkey soup tonight, with honey cornbread! You don't need the heavy cream it calls for. I substitute the kids' 2% milk and it's still delicious. I also substitute 100% whole wheat flour for the all purpose. The wheat blends wonderfully with the honey.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Bring You Holiday Songwriting

This time of year my boys try their hand at songwriting. I'm so tickled it's all I can do to avoid squeezing the stuffing out of their precious little selves.

Paul's Christmas Songs

The Son That's Born

O the Son that's born
O the Son that's born
We give you all the glory
We give you all the glory

We love you
You love us
You are incredable!

O we come to pray for you
We give you gold, fankkies, mur
Gold, fankkies, mur

You are our King
You are our King

Joy to the World

Joy to the world
Jesus is born
He is alive!
We sing and praise Him

Joy to the world
Jesus is alive
He is the Savior!
Joy to the world!

Peter's Christmas Song  (underscores are for longer notes)

Jesus Is Born

Jesus is born
O yes Jesus i_s born
He is here
We love je_sus

He is here
He is here
O yes he i_s he-re
We love Jesus

Peter's Thanksgiving Songs

Song 1

Decorrat the tabol for thanks_giving!
O we love thanks_giving!

But do not forget the tur_keys, tur_keys
O we love tur_keys

Us tur_keys never forget the hunters!
My we are scared of hunters!

O we do not love hunters!
We love the tur_keys!

Song 2

We are tur_keys, tur_keys
We are not here for living
We are here for thanksgiving
We will make your thanksgiving a sucses

Tur_keys, tur_keys
We are tur_keys
But we beware hunters, hunters
Thank us not for that

I gues that setols it!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Some Thanks-giving

Isaiah 12:4
In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.

I am thankful for:

~ A boy, Peter, who reads Scripture at the table as though he knows it's washing us clean. He knows!

~ A little girl, Mary, who loves her sister and is sensitive to Beth's feelings and pain. Though stubborn and slow to admit wrong-doing, Mary is sacrificial. There's a lot of sweetness dwelling in her depths and thank the Lord these two haven't found anything to fight about. That's coming as littlest one matures, probably.

~ Paul responded slowly and a little reluctantly to my request for some help. He was in the middle of something but I couldn't wait to ask him. What he said was so surprising: "I know I'm going to be a Daddy someday and I'll have to do things I don't want to do." I'm sure I stood there with my mouth open, all a wonder. Paul sees my husband help with things he doesn't particularly like, such as bathing children, because it helps the evening go smoother. I've known men who sit in a chair when they come home from work, letting the wife do everything. Thankfully, this doesn't describe my husband. He washes his hands, rolls up his sleeves, and engages, without a break for himself. It's amazing that Paul, only just eight years old, comprehends his Daddy's sacrificial love.

~ Most of my children haven't responded naturally with the phrase, "I love you, too." I never required it and though it came with their maturity, its absence tugged at my heart. Along comes Miss Beth, who did it early and delights in it! If you say she looks beautiful, she says with a sparkle in her eye, "You look beautiful, too." If you say her shirt is pretty, she says with a giggle, "Your shirt is pretty, too!" If you say her hair smells good or her curls are so lovely, she responds in kind, with genuine meaning, even if you have bed hair. She isn't perfect and has her moments, but what a bundle of joy!

~ People are praying for Miss Beth and that warms my heart. We feel so helpless..this disease is so unpredictable. The prayers are our hope. Many of these children do well and stop having problems around 8 to 10 years old, but those are the ones with non-aggressive disease. I'm not sure non-aggressive would describe Beth's course, though only two joints affected is encouraging (so far). It feels as though we're paddling a canoe in total darkness, with possible dangers all around. That's why the prayers mean everything. So thank you!

~ The trees are bare now. The color all brown and crunched under our feet. I await the snow dressing God plans for us. Seeing that first red cardinal against white is so exquisite. I hail from dry southern California (not to be mistaken with the snowy, majestic mountains of Yosemite, which you may have visited? They are exquisitely set apart from the southern desert. California's climate and terrain are very diverse).

Now my days are full of beauty--not just on vacations. The lush greenery and colorful Ohio seasons, punctuated by the cardinal against a sea of white, drives my soul toward thanks-giving. Those who live for the expanse and cadence of the sea would disagree. Yes, the sea is a nice place to visit. Sea postcards feature brilliant sun and gorgeous sunset accents. In truth, those who dwell by the sea live in fog much of the time. Colorless. And I need color. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the beauty of your hands!

~ I told you about husband's giving decisions and how they blessed? No car repairs in over a month, praise God, following months of regular mechanic visits. I just got a call from my aunt earlier tonight, whose husband just inherited some money. They want Gary, our shared mechanic, to fix up our van, repairing everything and making it easier to use (like working door handles!) as a Christmas present to us. We have to pray about it because we were thinking of using tax money to buy a used van with less miles. But as my aunt pointed out, you never know what you're going to get. Our mechanic thinks our Toyota Sienna van is worth salvaging, even at over 200,000 miles.

Also, my husband was recently given two sets of free college football tickets (for two), which absolutely thrilled my Paul. Paul and Daddy share a major love for college football and we have a state university nearby.

And the blessings don't end there! Two times the church my husband works for gave us food leftover from their banquets. You know my Peter loved that! And the girls were thrilled that once, cookies were included!

We don't give to God to get back, obviously. But the faith in the giving is credited to us as righteousness and the Lord blesses it. I've heard so many stories of untold blessings after people gave until it hurt. Once a retired, Vietnam-war-vet-turned-pastor of ours gave money to the church building fund that he couldn't afford (two of his children were in college). He did it on faith and a month later he received several thousand dollars from an injured Veteran fund. He wasn't expecting the money. There was some clerical error preventing him from receiving it earlier. He didn't even know about the fund! Sadly, a few years after that he died of a massive heart attack. (We loved him; he officiated at our wedding and he baptized me.) I'm sure his widow and his daughters needed what was left of that money. God provided in miraculous ways!

The power of God, His merciful nature, His faithfulness, His all astounds me! How I wish more knew Him.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Discipling Boys: From Boy to Man

Did you read about Jonathan, a boy left alone at the age of 15, in the Amazon jungle?

Chris Giovagnoni writes:

When Ann introduced you to Jonathan on Saturday she called him a child. I call him a man.
Jonathan’s mother abandoned the family when he was 4. And his father walked out of Jonathan’s daily life not long after.
Jonathan lived in the jungle with his grandparents when his father moved to the city to find work. But last year when death took his grandparents, Jonathan’s father didn’t return. He stayed in the city – with his favorite son – and left Jonathan alone to care for himself. 
Chris goes on later to write:

 In the midst of poverty, from a life of loneliness, Jonathan demonstrates a rare nobility. He stands tall.
Although his life is incredibly difficult, Jonathan is maturing personally, spiritually and morally in the Body of Christ.
When a boy needs comfort he turns to his mother, or he turns to things in this world. When a man needs comfort, he turns to the Lord.
When does a boy become a man?
He becomes a man when he needs to, regardless of age. For some, manhood comes at 15. For others, it may come at 50. And for a few, it may never come at all.
Courtesy of Compassion International:

I was first introduced to Jonathan on Boo Mama's blog. He stole my heart immediately. The next day, Ann wrote about him. Following that, Chris wrote about him in his piece "When Does a Boy Become a Man?" (parts of which I've featured above).

Since learning of this boy-man, I've spent many an hour contemplating how to get my own boys to become men, without this same drama.

It's tempting to think, throw your boy out into the world and let him fight his own battles. Boys become men by fighting their own battles.

Yes, men sometimes need to be warriors, but a battle doesn't define a man. A man is not primarily a warrior. And bravery? A man can be brave, but ungodly and irresponsible. So, neither does bravery define a man.

I love Chris' definition: When a boy needs comfort he turns to his mother, or he turns to things in this world. When a man needs comfort, he turns to the Lord.

What makes a man turn to God instead of his mother? What transitions him from boy to man? I honestly believe the Holy Spirit does it through simple and consistent lessons initiated by parents. We provide the opportunities for growth, and the Holy Spirit speaks to our boy's heart

Some ideas below, and please add your own.

~ Pray for your boy, that God will grow him up. Pray for parenting wisdom and strength.

~ Boys need to observe godly men handle everyday life decisions (father, uncles, pastors, friends).

~ Let him hear his father's prayers. Boys need to know that a man goes to God for strength--not to the world.

~ Treat him with respect using affirming words. Require respect from him. Require that sisters respect him also (sisters can be nagging of their brothers sometimes). Remember, men need to feel respected more than loved. Require him to watch out for his sister--loving her and protecting her.

~ Don't make life too easy. Let him know want and need without compromising his emotional or physical health.

~ Challenge him with increasing responsibility--each birthday, add responsibility either inside or outside the house. Teach the tasks and then hold him accountable.

~ Model how to do a personal devotional time and schedule it into his day. Perhaps give him his own prayer jar and write out a simple format to follow. For example:  Praise God, Confess to God, Thank God, then pray for each of the needs in the prayer jar. Next, assign a chapter from the Bible. The goal is to make devotional time a habit so that when your son leaves your home, he continues the practice. I believe the Lord will speak to our boys during this time. The Holy Spirit will take over and this won't be a chore.

~ Make him serve others in your own home (brothers and sisters, parents) and in the church and community. I believe the Holy Spirit will speak service into their hearts if we do our part (modeling this, and requiring it). Self-sacrifice--something Christian husbands and fathers must do regularly--must be practiced. The sin nature fights this but if we require it in childhood, it won't be so foreign to them when they leave our home. A boy will feel the rewards, courtesy of the Holy Spirit.

~ Model how to handle money (tithing and offering and saving) and give him some years to practice this, with your guidance. Don't bail him out when he makes mistakes, even if it means missing out on major events.

In parenting there are no guarantees. That's the hardest part of this journey: the unknown.

But if we rely on His strength instead of our own, we can't go wrong. We are nothing as parents without our loving, merciful Father raising our children for Himself. He does it through us, not because of us. 

Our posture must be this:  on our knees

What are your thoughts?

photo credit

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Little Excited About Thanksgiving

My Peter, a food lover, regards Thanksgiving Day as heaven on earth. To say he's a bit excited is an understatement; the boy can't get it off his mind. Yesterday he wrote two recipes and handed them to me with great pride. Today he made construction paper leaves as a centerpiece for the table, topping them with a small pumpkin in the center.

Something to make you smile below--especially his measurings.

Peter's homemade Thanksgiving gravy


4 tespons peper
1 tespon garlik sat
1 cup water
4 tespoons meat dropings


In small pot mix in ingredents. Ster till done.

Serve imedinley. Duble for mor than 4 pepol.

Peter's Green Bens

4 cups fresh gren bens
1 cup butter
1/2 tespon sallt

Chop bens, put in stemer, mix with butter and salt.


When Peter first brought his recipes to me, I was delighted by his enthusiasm, but appalled by his spelling--which in first drafts, is easily 2+ years behind. It's hard to witness his first drafts and not despair.

I remember several months back when he began showering instead of bathing. No longer interested in tub toys, he wanted to get in there, get the job done, and get out. He loved the hot water and the time alone to relax.

Not having any supervision, however, meant that at first he found the washing process confusing. I explained the process as a top-down regimen. Hair, then face and ears, then neck and armpits, etc.

He began having fits every night. Horrible fits. I couldn't understand how these steps could be so overwhelming to him. It seemed so easy to me, to think of it as top down, washing everything.

Finally, after a couple weeks, I posted a list high on the bathroom wall, next to the shower. The fits stopped. About six weeks later the list fell down, from too much moisture on the tape. I replaced it, but he told me he no longer needed it.

Lately, when we tackle the misspelled words from his writing, he tells me, "I'm sorry, I knew that wasn't the right spelling."

Remembering the shower incidents, I had an epiphany, of sorts. The problem wasn't that he couldn't spell. He just couldn't spell and write at the same time. He had to focus his brain on one or the other, because of the ADHD.

Now that I have a second special-needs child, I'm learning new lessons.

Each Sunday morning, watching my arthritic daughter walk down the school hall where our church rents space, I ache for the time, not so long ago, when she scurried down a hallway like any other toddler or preschooler. Now she looks....well, handicapped--especially since it's morning and her gait is at its worst.

This morning I saw something new in her gait and had a moment of panic. Was her right ankle now affected? Why was she swinging her leg around like that, before planting it?

Everyone who looked at her was smiling. Yes, they noticed her unusual gait, but they didn't focus on it. Instead, they focused on her gorgeous smile, and the fact that she looked insanely happy.

Her smile, the Holy Spirit said to me. Focus on her smile. It was as if he was telling me, she's not suffering like you think. She's taking this in stride because of my grace. Believe in my ability to provide her with divine grace, beyond your understanding. I love her mightily, and I will care for her. The situation is never as it seems to you, on the outside looking in.

Beth, it is true, is the best candidate (of all my children) to have a chronic pain disorder. She has a lovely, shining, sweet spirit. She seeks happiness and laughter always.

Our task as mothers--whether our kids are special needs or not--is to focus on what makes our children shine. What makes them beautiful? What gifts do they have, instilled in them by a loving God, who made them fearfully and wonderfully?

We always have a choice: focus on their weaknesses, or focus on what makes them special in the eyes of their Father, at the work of His hands. Addressing weaknesses and focusing on weaknesses are two different things.

If I didn't have two special-needs children, I don't know that I would have this clarity, this often. would occur to me on occasion, sure, but not like this. There are many gifts in disability, and I think I'm just brushing the surface.

photo credit

Friday, November 18, 2011

Sorry For My Self-Righteousness

Sorry about the self-righteousness of the Christmas post. Even though I don't go on these Compassion trips, I still have some "re-entry" problems after them. It's hard to reconcile first-world values with pressing world need, but self-righteousness is never the answer. 

The Christ in Christmas

Edited to addSorry about the self-righteousness here. Even though I don't go on these Compassion trips, I still have some "re-entry" problems after them. It's hard to reconcile first-world values with pressing world need, but self-righteousness is never the answer. 

Have you noticed something peculiar lately?

Christmas now comes after Halloween.

I find it audacious that retailers switched the order of our holidays, without consulting us. But then, I only go to Walmart, so perhaps it's just Sam Walton and Co.?

I used to like Christmas, but that changed about six years ago, when we went to one income. Did you know Christmas is something you have to afford? If that's never occurred to you before, you haven't been hard up. Or maybe you never celebrated an American Christmas to begin with.

Even taking away all the presents and decorations and greeting cards and special outings, holiday food itself stretches a grocery budget, unless you stick to the basics.

If you lose your income, what's left of this holiday? If it's not the presents, decorations, cards, or big meals, what is it? What is Christmas--given that Christ was probably born in the fall, and no one from the Bible actually celebrated Christmas, beyond that first one featuring baby Jesus in the manger?

There's nothing wrong with remembering the gift we have in Christ's birth. His birth means everything to the Christian. Without it, we have nothing but the Law.

So, looking at the word Christ in Christmas, are we to contemplate and give thanks for Christ, more than we normally would in our busy schedules?  Most breadwinners do get at least one day off for Christmas, giving us more time for contemplation and thanksgiving, if we slow down.

Let me offer something else here. What about contemplating and acting out the lessons Christ came to teach?

Mark 12:30-31

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

When vast amounts of money are spent in decorating houses already more lavish than what 94% of the world lives in, and more money is spent buying gifts for people who already have everything they need to overflowing, are we practicing anything at all that Christ taught?

Let's review the American Christmas. We don't slow down to contemplate and give thanks for the unfathomable gift that Christ is to us. In fact, we speed up this time of year. That speeding up indicates we aren't loving God like this:  with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

And we don't love our neighbor as ourselves in this season, either. Giving gifts to people who don't have what they need would satisfy this commandment. For this is how we would want to be loved: To be cared for in our time of need (including loneliness, not just physical need). To not be forgotten.

We all need to contemplate what Christmas should be, not what it is. When shopping this year, rethink buying something for someone who already has everything they need. How does this honor Christ and what he taught?  How does it commemorate anything, other than first-world greed?

We're to be set apart for Christ. That means we don't do what everyone else does; we don't love the world. We love Christ and we do what Christ does.

Christmas occurs in the heart, not at the check-out counter.

1 John 2:15
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Literary Adventures With Daddy

Reading to my boys every night proved such a blessing, for years. So many moments with children count as icing on the cake, but nighttime reading? It's my all-time favorite.

When my husband started working days a few months ago, arriving home at 7 PM, he took over the nighttime novel readings, allowing me more time with the girls at their tuck-in time.

How I miss that time with Peter and Paul, but since Daddy only gets a couple hours per day with the children, sharing great books together has been so rich for all three of my men. However, when Beth is finished nursing, I definitely want to switch back and forth with husband on the tuck-ins.

In these last months my men enjoyed Pippi Longstocking, Pippi in the South SeasChitty Chitty Bang Bang, and The Wheel On The School. Included as well were a few Eleanor Estes picks--Pinky Pye, The Middle Moffatt, and Ruphus M.--books the boys enjoyed so much, they reread them during the day, after Daddy finished them.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Wheel on the School cover.jpg

The Moffats   -     
        By: Eleanor Estes

All these books were recommended in Honey For A Child's Heart.

Needing a new book for them, I perused the Newbery shelf at the library yesterday, finding Rascal, by Sterling North, which is also recommended in Honey For A Child's Heart. Though I had a truckload of groceries to put away after all were in bed, plus dishes, I sat on the floor with this book, thinking I'd just give it a quick peek before tackling the kitchen.

It was so good, I stayed on the floor from 9:30 PM to 11:30 PM, not wanting to put it down (or realizing how long I'd been there). Miss Beth awoke at 11:30, which is better than most nights, but it broke my literary dream bubble.

Oh, how you'll love Rascal! Autobiographical, it details one year in an 11-year-old boy's Wisconsin life (set in 1918), featuring his heartwarming friendship with a raccoon, whom he named Rascal and raised from a nursling. The main character, Sterling, lost his mother at age 7. During his eleventh year he was quite lonely, what with his distant though kind, absent-minded father often on business trips, his brother fighting in France in WW1, and his two beloved sisters off as adults, living their lives.

I didn't read it word for word, but I gave a good skim to most chapters. How wholesome, heartwarming, and enchanting this story proved to be! And beautifully written, I tell you. While probably best for boys, I must say that as a girl, I still found it a can't-put-down read.

There are perhaps two paragraphs Christian parents might want to leave out (confirmed by a Christian site I checked). One details how Sterling's biologist mother reconciled her Christian beliefs with evolution (common among Christians at this time), and the other being a few sentences about Sterling asking a Methodist preacher why his mother had to die, and then deeming the answer unsatisfactory. He does have faith, as evidenced in other parts, but it isn't yet mature.

Still, most books written in the early 1900's depict a Christian lifestyle, and this one is no exception. The Bible is read in the story, for example. Sterling is very sweet and innocent and his adventures prove exciting and endearing. The relationship he develops with Rascal, his raccoon, is very special, to say the least. Kids will understand his love for Rascal and they'll never want this book to end.

I didn't.

Especially when I looked up and remembered my kitchen.

Unless you have a teenager on your hands, the book is best as a read-aloud. Here are the specifics below, from Scholastic's site. Their grade level equivalents are different from Accelerated Reading levels:

Interest Level: Grade 4 - Grade 6

Grade Level Equivalent: 7.8

Lexile® measure: 1080L

Guided Reading: NR

Biography and Autobiography
Young Adult

Find other books by Sterling North at this site:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blessings on Tuesday

My Gratitude List

 I am thankful for..... Peter, who this morning came up to me with Mr. Popper's Penguins in his hand, exclaiming, "I love this book!  Was it recommended in Honey For A Child's Heart?" Yes, it was!  In looking for the Amazon link, I see it appears to have made it to the big screen? Without cable we're oblivious to movies that come and go, and I haven't seen the inside of a movie theater in three years. I just hope kids will still read the book? Movies sometimes discourage curiosity about books, unfortunately.

Honey for a Child's Heart

...the way little Beth loves the binoculars and carries them around for fun, despite their weight. She loves looking at birds and pretending she's on safari. We're going to the library momentarily and she wants to bring them. I see no harm, though I'm not sure my husband would agree. Don't tell on me? Someone at this library loves stuffed animals. Literally, you'll find at least two hundred stuffed animal puppets (and a puppet theater)  My kids have a blast with it, and I'm sure Beth will get some good safari pretending in. She says binoculars so cutely, I can't resist her right now. Paul, who right now is playing a pretend football game down the hallway next to me, featuring himself against himself. He is calling the plays, running them, defending them, breathing hard, and having himself a blast. Mary, who loves to write messages. I find them everywhere. She often comes up to me, with hopeful, begging eyes, asking me what her messages say. Out of love and mercy, I always come up with at least one word, though she writes from right to left still. She's beginning to understand the sound/symbol relationship, and soon, she will sound out three-letter words. When she asks the boys about her messages, they tell her the truth. It doesn't say anything. Then she lets out a frustrated cry, not because of ugliness, per say, but because she's so determined--the most determined of my kids, and the most stubborn. Paul prefers to teach himself and it works for him....he's so focused. Mary will take after him--as little instruction as possible, only to keep her from going astray in her knowledge. husband, who understands my frustration with Beth's many wake-ups and helps as best he can. Her wake-ups make it hard to sit down at all in the evening--to enjoy a cup of cocoa or conversation, or anything else, for that matter. He does the dishes for me when Beth is having a particularly bad night. When she sleeps, her knees get stiff from the inactivity. Then, when her body wants to change positions, it hurts to move, thus waking her.

...all the Compassion International staff who give selflessly and love abundantly. They are my heros. I wish I could give each of them a big hug. There's so little I can do, and so much they do. They see such pain, yet they instill Hope and bring about redemption, through the power of the Holy Spirit. They are not easily discouraged; He has equipped them for this labor of love.

...a letter from Divya, who writes that with the $15 she bought a jacket, a new dress, and some sweets. And what did she do with the sweets, which she probably rarely sees? She took them to church, to share with all her friends. I can't even write it without tears. What volumes that spoke to my own children's hearts, and to ours. She is so sweet.

I ache to send more so that her parents can start a business or generate income in some way. They are both laborers, working only part of the year. But I have to remember. Lack of money isn't the real problem. If God wanted Divya to receive $500, he certainly has it in the bank. Agreed? God owns the earth and everything in it. He waited for my heart and he will use its fruit. He will multiply it, beyond a jacket and a dress and some sweets. Hallelujah!

He is waiting for the heart of every person living in plenty. For us to be willing to share, as Divya shared her candy. God will take care of the rest.

And if we don't share, after knowing the need? Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. We are studying Revelation and I know something more about God's vengeance. Just as His love couldn't be more beautiful, His vengeance couldn't be more ugly. He is to be feared!

The injustice isn't His. It's ours. We are Christians and we were saved to be the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth--not just to enjoy eternity.

You know, and I know. But how many still don't know? What can we do to spread the word? Let's commit this to prayer as the Body of Christ--for even in our churches, it isn't known. There is evidence of plenty, of waste, in almost every church I attend. Love your neighbor as yourself isn't fully understood, and how can we change that, as the Body of Christ?

It starts with our own heart, with our own prayers. How do you want to use me, Lord, from my little corner of the world? Make me your instrument of mercy and grace.

1 John 3:15-18

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. source

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Prayer Warrior Life: Recognizing the Power

So, it's well established that I don't like technology. Right?

Imagine my delight this morning when I learned that the quiet, master-bedroom computer, at which the boys do their Teaching Textbooks math CD Rom, had gone bonkers. Bonkers would be non-tech speak for a situation in which all programs and websites are much larger than the screen, so that you have to continually scroll back and forth to use them.

Miss Mary, who uses Caillou's Preschool and a Dora program on Nick Jr., worked her magic yesterday. If anything goes wrong with her programs, she starts getting into anything and everything on the computer itself, troubleshooting her way into a mess.

We couldn't skip math, so Momma had to do some troubleshooting of her own, getting into the control panel to figure out what Mary did to the resolution. 

It wasn't so simple, and an hour later, I went into total whining mode, all the while wondering if my "babysitters" were keeping Beth out of trouble. I'd already been interrupted at least 10 times, which is standard. 

How I can think at all during the day, is a testimony to the workings of the Momma Mind, miraculously arranged by our Creator to match our job description.

Trust me, if you leave your husband alone with your four children while you spend eighty minutes grocery shopping, you'll return to find out that the Daddy Mind doesn't quite match the stay-at-home job description. The other option--shopping with four children--is sometimes preferred. He's a great Daddy and when they're outside for the whole eighty minutes, all is great when I return, with the children mighty blessed by their fun-filled Daddy. It's the house + kids combination that doesn't work for him. A multi-tasking Momma he ain't. 

Often when I type something in the living room during the day--either a post or an e-mail--my kids are right by me, kicking a ball down the hall and making all manner of exciting background noise--apparently thinking that when Momma takes a break, they get one too. Since it's too rainy for recess today, ball games down the hallway will make for some nice Monday Mania.  

Don't you wish you could come for tea?

Now you know why typos are so common.

The last I looked, they all had some Goldfish at the table, counting them by ones and fives for the preschoolers' benefit. Yes, that's right, when the main teacher is unavailable, the older ones step right up to the task, creating school out of life.

So back to my computer problem. In desperation, I prayed and asked all the kids to pray. 

Notice how I didn't pray up front, before I began tinkering? Big mistake. 

Why, oh why, do we believing humans fail to get God on our side right away?

After we prayed, I got back into the screen resolution thingy, and lo and behold, I fixed it immediately (based on the size of the icons anyway).

Following that, I got into e-mail to see if we could view an entire message without scrolling right and left, and then into a website to see if Paul could read his Mr. Popper's Penguins comprehension questions. (Scholastic's About This Book gives a synopsis. Both boys love this 1938 Newberry Honor book.)

Bingo. Fixed.

There was one new e-mail, from one of my online friends, saying, "Just prayed for your sweet girl and your family." 

This was such a powerful reminder today. When we pray for others, it really does impact them. Even if the prayer doesn't take away a particular problem, it can change the perception and negative impact of the problem, so that grace rains down on the family, right then and there, as the prayer is being uttered. 

When we pray during the day with the prayer jar, or alone at night, I don't think either the children, or the adults, really comprehend the power of the words, or of the act itself. Prayer with children around, either private prayer or that done corporately, can seem so disorganized and interrupted and insane. 

But God hears through screaming fits, through nighttime wake-ups that interrupt our flow....through anything. Our prayers are sacred, even when they feel like the opposite. The worst thing we can do is think, not today, it's too insane around here

Someone on your list really needs the grace-raining your prayers will bring

Thank you, sweet friend! 

To read more of my prayer journey, check out Into a Life of Prayer: A Journey Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7

To read even more, check out The Prayer Warrior Life part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6Part 789101112, 13

A sweet friend, Amy, wrote guests posts for us, telling of her prayer journey: Vol. 1, and Vol. 2, and Vol. 3Vol. 4Vol. 5

photo credit

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Learning the Beauty of No

The Compassion blog posts out of Ecuador this week have been so moving. All of them

I have my favorites though, and today I'd like to share one.

It was penned by Melanie of Big Mama. Read the entire post here (pictures of the Amazon included). 

Here is a moving excerpt. 

As we were leaving the last Center today we had to walk on a vast expanse of rocks to get back to our canoes. We were all given rubber rainboots to wear for the day and had to walk very carefully from rock to rock so that we wouldn’t lose our footing. Not to mention that rubber boots don’t offer a lot of comfort against the rocks. Some of them were slippery from being in the water and I’d feel myself start to stumble and have to walk even slower.

But as we pulled away in our canoe, I noticed the children RUNNING across that same treacherous rocky terrain effortlessly. They didn’t seem to notice that the rocks hurt their feet or that the path was sometimes unsteady or that they might trip and fall. They just ran. They ran with joy.

I turned to Sophie and remarked, “Look at them running on those rocks when we were barely able to walk.”

And that’s when it dawned on me.

How incredible it is that I’m barely able to walk on those rocks, but they are able to run on them. With joy and freedom. They run.

It hit me that they have a faith in The Rock and a trust in Him that allows them to run. They run with abandon. They run with joy. They follow Him because He is all they have and they get that He is all they need.

I have a particular reason for loving these words. I've seen this miracle in my own children, though on a smaller scale.

Toys were plentiful here at one time. Sickeningly plentiful. Mommy was generous, though things came from thrift stores and garage sales most of the time. Gluttony is foolish, no matter the avenue.

A combination of things changed the landscape around here. First, the Holy Spirit spoke: These children have the stench. You've spoiled them with your yes. He didn't mince words.

Next, my husband lost his full-time job. Part-time jobs came soon enough, but even with 55 hours a week, he's still underemployed. Even a $3 garage sale purchase puts a dent in our budget.

Recently, I had to say: "No Halloween costumes. We can't afford them. Make do with what you have on hand." They decided to forgo Halloween because it wasn't that important to them. Even a trip to the thrift store for farmer clothes wasn't in the cards. 

They rode a scooter at someone's house recently, for the first time. Immediately, they wanted one. Sorry, we can't afford it.

Though there's sometimes disappointment, they've come to trust that He knows what they need.

We've uttered "sorry, we can't afford it" for 2.5 years and counting.

And the result? I like my kids more now. They're not spoiled. They're sweeter. They know the value of a dollar. 

We've purged toys three times, and each time, my kids get richer, not poorer. They get rich on God, because he's a bigger part of their lives. With fewer distractions, He enlarges

They really need Him. 

He's the one who fixes cars and provides more milk and puts gas in a car that's running on fumes. 

He's the one who provides the soccer ball we can't afford, because a little boy dreamed about it and prayed.

He's the one who provides the new jacket right before the coldest, windiest fall day, after a trip to the thrift store turned up nothing.

Mommy and Daddy can't provide, but God can. 

He's proven himself, because our poverty gave Him the chance.

When I said sorry, no scooter, it wasn't hard.  

You see, they don't need a scooter. They have bikes. They have their legs to run with, balls to throw. Trees to hide behind. They have minds that, when pressed, think up new, exciting, thrilling games. They have each other.

The less I give them, the more they have--both spiritually and mentally.

Think of it this way. When there's just a dirt floor, little food, no furniture, and no plan for tomorrow, He's all there is.

Everything added to this dirt-floor picture that isn't a need, blurs Him. Until eventually, He's gone.

No, I don't want dirt floors here. And yes, I'm grateful for the soccer ball. 

But I want Him to shine brightest.  

No is wise. Yes is easy, but cheap. All roads don't lead to Him and we get to choose.

No to the world of gluttony and comparison and greed. 

Yes to Him.

It hit me that they have a faith in The Rock and a trust in Him that allows them to run. They run with abandon. They run with joy. They follow Him because He is all they have and they get that He is all they need.