My Life: December 2014

 Here we are the last day of 2014. Final post of the year.
I pray your year has brought you closer to God and family.

I love this time of year.  I love holidays and time with friends and family. I love reflecting on the blessings and lessons of the past year.  I also love dreaming and planning for the year ahead.

Looking around:

The trees are still up. Yes, trees. My daughter set up both small trees, the smaller of which ridiculously has three sets of lights on it.
Gifts have not found homes.20141231_094629
We expanded the living room, thus shrinking the dining room. Not sure when we’ll recover from that. Yes the love seat and the table are touching. Yes we need to use that side of the table.Shrunken Dining Room
The rest of the house is showing we have been in holiday mode and chores are not being done.
Time with family and friends has been especially precious.

Looking back:

A year of building,  working,  struggling, learning, growing
So many things to be thankful for, so many things to regret.

Preaching to myself. I am not my failures. I am a work in progress.
Preaching to myself. I am not my failures. I am a work in progress.
Lessons learned and lessons to continue walking out.

Favorite posts:

I share about losing a son and "seeing" him in heaven.I share about losing a son and “seeing” him in heaven.

Fire of Grace:

A prayer we prayed on our building site before we broke ground.
Fire of Grace: A prayer we prayed on our building site before we broke ground.

Looking ahead:

I love to set goals, make resolutions, daydream of ideals. I haven’t had time to do that. I haven’t had success in living them out. I haven’t even had success in being encouraged to keep trying. So I now try to focus on progress.
I sense God has a different strategy and I have to let go of the fact that it is not crystal clear for me to write-up in some idealistic way on New Year’s Eve.
I have a few plans for 2015.
My One Word for 2015 has to be Authority. God won’t let me get away from it.
I plan to use Dr. Caroline Leaf’s 21 day Detox plan to intentionally renew my mind.
I plan to keep writing My Life posts.
I have more to share on Ready. Set. RUN!
God is calling each one to be fully what He designed you to be. Get ready to run.
God is calling each one to be fully what He designed you to be. Get ready to run.

I’m stepping out to lead a women’s group at my church. I am looking forward to God using the amazing team of women I am working with to help me grow. That is one lesson I am learning and learning to walk- relationships are vital to my growth.

How is your house after Christmas?
How do you prepare for a new year?

Countdown to Christmas: Focus on Jesus Preparing to Prepare

Preparing for Christmas can take on a life of its own. Some where in my past I became convinced that Christmas had to be “prefect”. Trouble is I wasn’t even sure what prefect was, I just knew I wasn’t, my home wasn’t, my children weren’t. So here’s this hoped for “prefect” season that does nothing but magnify my failings and I’m trying to sell my children the idea that Christmas is about Jesus.

Christmas 2012 snowI am very grateful God walked me through this when my children were young. I didn’t want to model Christmas being about stress and unattainable perfection on any level. I wanted to live that Christmas was about Jesus, not just say so. I will not say I have arrived. I go through the process I am going to lay out for you every year. Some years I do better than others. Some days I do better than others.

Here’s my process for preparing to prepare for Christmas.

Evaluate expectations: Are my expectations from God?
I create a great amount of stress for myself if I do not take the time to sort through what I am really expecting of Christmas. For me it’s a whole season, not a day. I am naturally idealistic. So I recognize my dreams and expectations and take them to God. What is doable this year? What is most important? Thankfully I can let many things go when we have this conversation. Time with Him and time with family are really all I want. Everything else is fluff. Fluff is okay as long as there is no stress attached.

Evaluate traditions. Does this bring God glory?

When I began having children I looked at every Christmas tradition through this lens. Does this give God glory? If I could not see a way it brought God glory I modified it or threw it out.
CIAJ slideThis is actually where my first book, Christmas Is about Jesus, was born. I wanted to do the advent calendar where there is a window to open each day. I wanted it to be more than counting down days until presents. Everywhere we went we were bombarded with things that have nothing to do with Jesus coming to bring us salvation. So I wrote the daily devotions to point us to Jesus each day and made ornaments so my children would have something to “open” each day. The ornaments also helped us talk about the devotion throughout the day. We usually hung them where we could see them from the table.
I am not saying fun activities like gingerbread houses or games are out. God loves families. He loves families enjoying each other and making memories. For me activities like pretending Santa was real were out.

Ask kids what makes Christmas special to them.

A few years ago while I was stressing over all the baking, decorating, making gifts, and whatever else was in my ideal Christmas that year God inspired me to ask the kids what made Christmas special to them. Their list was short and totally doable. It made letting my list go much easier. They wanted to look at Christmas lights, go to Gramma’s, and make gingerbread houses. Gifts at Gramma's
Now every year I ask after Thanksgiving and we schedule what’s most important to each of us. Anything else that happens is extra. Way less stress. Way more time for peace, the Prince of Peace.
What do you do to prepare to prepare for Christmas?

My Life August

God-Sized-Project-008-Week-13-&-14  Just the fact that this post contains almost all the blessing updates from the month gives you a good idea of my life this August.

Christian
More arguing and figuring than faith, I am sorry to say.

Much more letting go than I ever imagined I could or would have to do. Letting go of understanding, timing, expectations, desires, rights. Letting go means tears, lots of tears.

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Yesterday felt like something shifted. I saw this graphic by Intentional Living on Facebook. Saying, thinking and living from who I am instead of how I feel, feels wonderful. It is very freeing. I am sure I knew that, have been told that no less than a 1000 times but something actually shifted yesterday and I felt more free and encouraged than I have in months. If you are not already, or at the moment, you should try it.

I am living from who I amWife
This month its been more like general contractor and crew leader. The great thing is we like working together and look forward to doing it more. Most of our time together is focused on our shop, our God Sized Project. We work together on his days off. He makes sure I know what needs to be done and how to do it for the next week. The kids and I get as far as we can on it each week.

IMG_2288 IMG_2318Mom
This has been the crew leader. Most weeks this month, and half of last I think, the kids and I – especially the boys – have put in many, many hours on preparing for the concrete to go in the footings and now to get the entire floor ready for concrete. We are getting closer and so is winter. We will finish leveling the pad with sand today. Then we need to lay vapor barrier, insulate, lay heating tubes, and lay rebar. Then we will be ready for the final pour of concrete! I never would have imagined it taking us all summer to get this far. More letting go.

IMG_2324This is what the kids and I did to get the footings ready for concrete.imageIMG_2238 IMG_2246 IMG_2253 IMG_2285 IMG_2296 IMG_2323 IMG_2324image

This is the list we are currently working on.

I’ve been forcing myself to make plans for school, too. The plans are now in order, other than when I am going to make time to actually have them do their school work. I guess the boys are doing school now. They can log all their work for a construction class.

Author
Not really anything to say here. I miss writing. I look forward to things slowing down and making time for it again. I’m not sure how far out I am looking though. We are hoping to get the building closed in so the weather won’t keep us from working inside through the winter. I have no idea how long that will take.

Blessings Week 13
Aug 3 – 9

  • Hard working boys
  • family foundation
  • My almost 80 year old Dad being willing and able to help shovel

IMG_2335Blessings Week 14
Aug 10 – 16

  • concrete
  • pump truck
  • concrete trucks
  • fair weather
  • Use of generator and stinger
  • Dump truck

Blessings Week 15
Aug 17 – 23

  • Sand spread – 20+ yards the boys have shoveled every grain of it. My girl and I have spread most of it.
  • Plumber willing to design the heating system, get us parts at cost and teach us what to do and just at the right time!
  • Dump truckIMG_2334

My Life April

image

This is rough, raw. I wonder whether to post or to polish, perhaps neither.
Obviously I am risking posting, and no I didn’t polish.

Do you have a child you’ve never seen?
I do. Well never seen outside of glimpses of heaven.
No tickling toes, no rubbing noses. We only saw his tiny frame after it had been abandon for heaven by his spirit.
It has been 10 years. 10 years ago I would have recently discovered my fourth pregnancy. 10 years of Mother’s Day’s being very bittersweet.

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Why am I writing today?
Because I saw him in a new way, another glimpse of heaven and it is wrecking me.

My life, at least the last 10 years could be told by songs. The song 10 years ago was Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman. I lived and breathed this song.

when I walk through the wilderness. . .
when I am found in the desert place. . .
When the darkness closes in. . .
You give and take away,
yet my heart will choose to say,
blessed be Your name.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.
          ~lyrics copyright by Matt Redman 2002

We sang it Sunday in church. First I thought of how the world may not be all as it should be but it is certainly brighter than when this was my song.

It happened at the end of the song.
Seeing Josiah.

I got his name driving home from the sonogram confiming his death. When I got home I had to see what Josiah meant. Names mean something to me. It means “Jehovah heals”. I couldn’t ask for a better name.

So, Sunday I saw him dancing. He was dancing a warrior dance, a dance for healing. I wept. I sobbed. I wanted to grab him and pull him close.
He had to keep dancing.
I must keep dancing.
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When I told my husband I was weeping again. He has never seen him-his tiny frail body, not him. I didn’t realize the comfort I drew from my glimpses of heaven. My heart broke to realize he has no better picture of his dear son than his lifeless, tiny body. My glimpses of heaven have become even more precious.

It so happens this seasons song is Dance with Me by Chris DePrue.

I will dance.

Let the Wind Blow: Revisit and Update

Maybe it the season. Maybe it’s about dreaming.
I want to share this post again. The original portion was two years ago, updated a few months later.

A post about a storm in my life… (read the post by clicking the link below)
 Let the Wind Blow: I originally posted this in April. I really need the reminder today as the clean up continues. God is faithful, in him I put my trust. …

April 2013
The winds of that storm rarely gust anymore. A great measure of healing has come. Most of the big trees survived and are doing well, some we’re still loving and praying for recovery. I feel we’re in a long winter. It’s hard to tell about the flowers and the gardens. I long for spring. I long for big projects and improvements, but sense it will only be a season of cleaning, repairing, mending – being faithful in small things before larger things are revealed.

New winds are stirring. I pray for warm, encouraging south winds. I know there are cold, harsh north winds. This creates the whirlwind to transform me to His image.

While I long to see the end result I will choose to be content knowing I am on the Rock that will not be shaken though all else is shaken.

Disillusionment for Hope

I went to Webster to see what Daniel had to say about disillusionment. I found he had nothing to say. It was not a word in 1828. Well, he didn’t put it in the dictionary at least. One site online said it was first used in 1591, though Meriam-Websters site says not until 1855.  Anyway it now means “disenchanted” which means to free from illusion.
This search is feeling like my search to find out that dream meant something that happens when you’re sleeping. Not really what I was after. I think what disillusionment means to me is confusion, uncertainty, and doubt – ultimately rooted in fear.
I didn’t like the definition of being freed from illusion because that would mean I had been foolish enough to be following an illusion. I think that’s exactly it though. Without meaning to or knowing it I was following the illusion of what I wanted my dream to look like. I was focused on the illusion of my dream instead of on the unchanging face of God, so when the dream dies I am disillusioned, and rightly so.
The first step to regaining hope is to lose the illusion. I tend to be very idealistic, which if I’m honest would mean I have illusions of what I think things will be like if my dream came true. I guess maybe I’m delusional? I have had illusions like:
  • being happy when this or that happens
  • I’ll be content when….
  • Fulfillment is in x, y, or z.
  • if I could just get my act together…
This is hoping in the dream, or the illusion of a dream. Hope can only be found by focusing on the Dream Giver.
There is hope because He is.
He is faithful. He is good. He is gracious. He is wholly unable to change or break a promise.
He is hope.

Have you been disillusioned?
What did you do?
Where do you find hope?

Processing a Dead Dream

What does processing a dead dream look like? The process needs the right tools and the right environment for healing. Dead dreams must be dealt with so we are no longer defined by them and so we don’t stink. I’m no expert but here’s what I’ve got so far.
1. Grieve.
2. Repent if needed.
3. Refocus on God. Remember God’s promises, they haven’t changed.
4. Seek wisdom.
5. If it was a dream from God ask for a resurrection. If not ask for a new dream.
Grieve. Every dream that dies is a loss, likely more than one. Going through the process of what we lost, or perceive we lost, can teach us a lot about ourselves, our faith, and our relationship with God. Grieving may reveal people we need to forgive – ourselves, others, and even God. It may also reveal places we were off track in which case we must…
Repent. Sometimes we go after God’s dreams our way, or in our time. I’ve often told my children doing the right thing at the wrong time is wrong. It’s true for us, too. We need to repent of going on our own schedule. Maybe it was entirely our dream. Then we need to repent of going our own way. We get back on track by…
Refocusing on God: Our identity, our worth, everything is in Him alone. Deeper understanding and believing of this truth will anchor us through our healing. He is faithful. He keeps his promises. Life will not be perfect, but He is. Praise Him with a truly grateful heart for the blessings you have, even when a dream has died.
Seek wisdom.God’s wisdom can reveal ways He is working even the death of your dream for your good and His glory. Dead dreams still speak to you; or rather Satan speaks for them. They accuse us, remind us of failure. They speak lies against the character of God and His promises. They make circumstances seem more real than the promises of God. Learn from your experiences with dead dreams.  True friends and God can give you wisdom for next time.
Part of processing a dead dream is to see which part of it was God’s. Maybe God’s part of the dream was the mission and the vehicle was or own thinking.
The process of dealing with disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment is to replace them -one of the great mysteries of the Kingdom. We trace disappointment for God’s appointment. We trade discouragement for God’s courage. We trade disillusionment for God’s hope and purpose. I’ll write about how to do that next week.
I’d love to hear how you have dealt with your dead dreams.

Disappointment, Discouragement, Disillusionment

My family and I are taking a class at church using Dream Journey by Andy & Janine Mason. I didn’t know about the class before I chose my One Word. It gives me a great opportunity to work through some of my issues with dreaming. Sometimes I feel like I need a daily course instead of weekly. The topic of what to do with dead dreams brought many insights.
When a dream dies we are affected by disappointment, then discouragement, and maybe even disillusionment. 
Disappointment can mean not meeting expectations or being removed from office. Dreams die for a number of reasons. Things didn’t turn out like expected. People didn’t understand or cooperate. We are hurt. We question who we are and what we are supposed to be doing. “Who am I?” “What am I appointed for?” “Have I been removed from my appointment?” 
Discouragement is the lack of courage. We can’t go after God’s dreams without courage. When a dream dies it may seem like it took all our courage with it. It didn’t work this time, do I really want to try again? It doesn’t seem to be working, do I want to go on?
Disillusionment is filled with confusion. It’s a hope stealer, sometimes even a faith killer. Who am I? What am I doing? Did I misunderstand God’s plan or purpose? What do I do now? Why try again?
I think processing, dealing with; healing from dead dream restores hope, courage and sense of purpose. It may even resurrect a dead dream.
Your dream may not be dead. It may just appear dead to you because you had an expected outcome or an expected route to travel. Part of that disillusionment. God’s plan may be quite different than ours. There may be an element of the dream God gave you that you then took off with and missed where He intended you to go. God’s results don’t always look like ours. God may indeed have given the dream, but without all the details. I think of Bruce Olson, a missionary to the Motilone people of Columbia. He had a love for languages. He thought he was meant to go to lots of schooling to use that love a languages. God gave him a commission to the Motilone people. He couldn’t even understand them. Eventually God used Bruce’s love and knowledge of languages to help the Motilone’s write down their language and translate the scriptures for them to read. It was God’s dream, but did not look the way Bruce expected. There were certainly times he thought he’s dream was dead and so was he, for that matter.
We must work through our disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment. More on processing a dead dream next week.

Schedule and Plan for Rest

Are your holiday plans well under way or running away?
To have rest at any time of the year we have to plan and prioritize. Even more so at Christmas. Make sure to plan in some rest. Also be sure to make a full inventory of all you intend to do. What preparation is involved? How many resources – not only money – time & emotions, too.  List EVERYTHING involved, every step in it’s entirety.
Now the reality check. Can you actually do everything on your list? Do you have enough of every kind of resource to pull it off? Another question, do you want to use all those resources? Do you have any reserves?
In the past I have failed in many steps of this planning. Every year I continue to simplify and learn to be more realistic in my planning, in understanding what it will really take to pull off my plans. As an example for many years it was a tradition to make gingerbread houses with two other families. A great day for everyone involved. For the planning though it was not just the day on the calendar. There had to be the rearranging of school plans. How long does it take to get snow gear for three children? What about lunch? A special trip to the store for candy we do not keep around the house but need for our project. This is a great tradition and worth all the effort, I just sometimes forget to plan all the parts I need to plan. It goes better when I remember.
It may be that when you really look at what goes in to some of your holiday plans you will decide you either do not have or do not want to use your resources that way. You may want some time to rest so you can have a better attitude toward your family in this “holly, jolly” season.
Question: How is your planning going?
Challenge: Do your holiday plans include rest? Do they focus on Jesus? 
An invitation: During December I’m posting Countdown to Christmas. Focus on Jesus. At myFocus on Jesus blog. I hope you’ll stop by for a quick note of encouragement.
Christmas Blessing: You can still enter for the $320 prize money until December 11, 2012. There are many great blogs sharing in the blessing. Read and enter on them all!