PSALM 91

I needed a reminder to look to Jesus because there are a lot of other distractions to look at these days.  One in particular, the political signs in my neighborhood. Then, every single hour it seems that something “news worthy” is flashing on my phone. And then there is the wading through of lots and lots of opinions about that piece of news. We like to raise our voices and let people know what we think. And I definitely have opinions—mask or no mask, open schools or keep them closed, vote in person or by mail, pro-life or pro-abortion, less taxation or more taxation, small government versus big government, Trump or Biden. If I had no filter or operated out of zero wisdom, I may put a banner the size of Texas in my yard or comment on every post I disagree with. But thank the Lord above, He helps me. 

And a passage of scripture from Numbers 2 helped me immensely the other morning.  Whitney Capps, the author of WE OVER ME bible study, reminded me to look at how God set up camp with His people.  Verse 2 of chapter 2 says, “The sons of Israel shall camp, each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ households; they shall camp around the tent of meeting at a distance.”  Their banner associated them with their father. They were under his leadership. They were around the tent of meeting, which is where the presence of God was. “At the command of the Lord” (Numbers 9:18) they would stay or pack up and travel on. The “command” of the Lord can also be translated as the “mouth” of the Lord. So they were to hang on His every word and be ready to follow the cloud by day or the fire by night.  And the only way to know what the Lord wanted was to keep their eyes on the tent of meeting where God’s presence dwelt.  The Israelites were often in enemy territory, so keeping their eyes on the center of their camp might seem less helpful than watching their backs and making sure no one was sneaking up on them. But God was teaching Israel that He alone is in control. He alone knows how to best take care of them. He alone deserves all of our attention and affection. He alone is worth following fully, giving my total allegiance. 

Is God the center of your thinking these days? Is God the One you’re looking to for direction, for relief, for satisfaction, for stability? Unless you are being intentional about this, then you are likely getting run slap over with the onslaught of distractions out there that steal your joy and peace. Don’t let satan win the moment or the day or the week or this election cycle. Keep Jesus at the center of your thinking. Re-align your thoughts and attention and affection to Him. Hang on His every Word that He has so graciously given to us. 

I might mention that there is a sign in a neighbor’s yard that brings me hope. On it are written “Psalm 91.” 

 PSALM 91

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High

Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,

My God, in whom I trust!”

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper

And from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with His pinions,

And under His wings you may seek refuge;

His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

You will not be afraid of the terror by night,

Or of the arrow that flies by day;

Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,

Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.

A thousand may fall at your side

And ten thousand at your right hand,

But it shall not approach you.

You will only look on with your eyes

And see the recompense of the wicked.

For you have made the Lord, my refuge,

Even the Most High, your dwelling place.

No evil will befall you,

Nor will any plague come near your tent.

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

They will bear you up in their hands,

That you do not strike your foot against a stone.

You will tread upon the lion and cobra,

The young lion and the ]serpent you will trample down.

“Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him;

I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.

“He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;

I will be with him in trouble;

I will rescue him and honor him.

“With a long life I will satisfy him

And let him see My salvation.”

Dr. Albert Mohler recently taught Psalm 91, and I listened to the sermon several times. He challenges the believer to be determined to be found faithful in these “unprecendented” times. He reminds us that the sovereignty of God guarantees that there is purpose in this. He quoted C.S Lewis  from 1939 at the beginning of World War 2: “The war creates no new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.”

Mohler goes on to say, “We are not NOW mortal. We are not NOW surrounded by danger. We are not NOW in a dangerous world” (meaning since Covid-19). He challenges us to respect concerns but do NOT give in to fear and he ends with this thought regarding the sweet truth of Psalm 91; “Under the shadow of the Almight—it’s where we’ve always been. It’s just imperative that we understand it now.”

So instead of hanging up the dog leash and putting away my walking shoes until after the election, I think I will keep walking and use every sign as a reminder that my banner is Jesus. He is who I look to for all I need. And I will pray that more and more people will look to God! He is our only hope!

homemaker

You would think by now–at age 43 and daily running a home for many years, being married nearly 20 years and having three kids in under three years, all of which are teenagers now–that I wouldn’t hesitate writing “homemaker” as my occupation. I mean, I KNOW I work very hard and serve my family very well. But that doesn’t mean other people appreciate a “homemaker.” I seriously wish I was brave enough to write “domestic goddess” on any of the forms I fill out that ask me my occupation, but I haven’t done that…yet. I have wondered lately about going back to school. I made a couple of phone calls and took down some details about local seminaries that offer Biblical Counseling Master’s Programs. No doubt, it interests me. No doubt, I could apply and get going on achieving this degree in what is known as my “mid-life.” And I don’t think it would be wrong or bad if it took my time, attention, and effort. After all, anything worth doing is going to take some of all of those things. So it’s still rolling around in my mind.

AND at the same time, I want to have pure motives about anything I endeavor to do. I don’t want to do it in order to feel some sort of worth or to just accomplish something or to have something to talk about when someone asks, “What do you do?” The reality is there is plenty to do around the house. Plenty. The challenging thing about home making–making a home–is it also takes time, attention and effort. It takes discipline and care. It takes humility….have you ever scrubbed melted gum out of a dryer? or had to handle dirty underclothes on a regular basis? Scrubbed crusty dishes someone left in the sink overnight?

Just yesterday I spent all day at home after dropping the kids at school. I went into Mack’s room which was nothing short of disastrous. Instead of cursing him for being so disorganized and messy, I prayed for him as I picked up his clothes off the floor and hung clean clothes up while tossing dirty clothes into the hamper. I put things in their place one thing at a time. I made his bed. I stacked his books. I gathered up sharpie markers from all around. I picked up a wet towel from the floor. And I prayed that one day it will click for him to clean his own room, to hang up his towel, to use the dirty clothes hamper and also that he he would find a godly wife that loves him enough to also do some of those things for him from time to time without complaint. (He gratefully asked me, “MOM, where did find my sunglasses? I have been looking every where for them!!!” I replied, “I picked them up off your floor, son.”)

Next was Molly’s room. I made her bed, folded a bunch of clean clothes she had laying around, and I washed a load of clothes for her. She finds great joy in coming home to a made bed. She usually makes her own bed, but I wanted to bless her. I prayed for her while I did all of those things.

Same for Ruby. That girl doesn’t even know she has a chest of drawers and a closet. Clothes laid everywhere around that room!!!! So I folded and put away and folded and put away and washed her load of laundry as well. And then folded and put them away. All the while praying that one day she would find the motivation to follow through on putting clothes away….and I prayed for other things for her too.

I thoughtfully prepared dinner. We ate. I cleaned up the kitchen while the kids studied for tests and did math homework. I baked cookies for the family to have while we watched the Presidential Debate (not sure that’s what you call it, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic). And I cleaned up the mess afterwards.

Most of motherhood is doing things that will be undone. The clean clothes will be dirtied. The made bed will be unmade. The cooked meal will be eaten and only dirty dishes will remain. But as I tell myself often—-Somebody has got to do it! Why not me? And if this is the boundary line God has given me, why not do it with great joy? Why not serve in love and humility? I can do that AND train them to do it for themselves one day. It’s been a challenging journey for me. This serving my family and also not wanting to be treated like a maid/cook/launderer. There is a tension there more often than I am proud of.

So why am I writing this? I don’t know exactly except to say to fellow moms out there–Keep on keepin’ on! Motherhood and homemaking is work. Your domestic goddess skills will often go overlooked and you won’t always receive the praise you desire from your family. They usually don’t even notice that their toilet no longer has a nasty ring inside it. But God sees you. He knows your heart. He hears your prayers and sighs and “is this what I am made to do?” questions. And He is there to guide you every step of the way. I have prayed for God to transform my heart often, and I am starting to see change in my attitude. I have a long way to go, but I am farther along than I was. Thank the Lord!

Three years old today!

It’s no secret I didn’t want a dog. My kids asked many, many times and were always met with a definitive “no way.” Then, we moved to a new state with no friends. This is when Mack really ramped up his asking and begging and was more persistent than ever. He would leave around the house, written in his sweet little 9 year old handwriting, a quote he found in a magazine: “Every boy needs two things—a dog and a mother willing to let him have one.”

Oh boy. That pretty much did it for me. We started looking for a breeder of Lagotto Romagnolos. I wanted a dog that did not shed even a little bit and so this one won! The girls and I traveled to Hayesville, NC one Friday to get her.

She was loved immediately. I had a rule that she shouldn’t be on the furniture.

And Molly let this happen. And Molly also lets her sleep in her bed. I could tell right away I could throw rules out the window.

But I will say that every mom of teenagers needs a dog. The kids get mouthy and they like to hide out in their rooms. They enjoy their friends a bit more than hanging out with parents, usually. They don’t sit in my lap anymore or follow me around like I’m the best thing in the world. BUT the dog loves me. The dog is my shadow. She is always right beside me while I’m at home. It’s sweet and only sort of annoying. She listens to me and still gets excited to go on walks with me. I can sway her with food. She’s my dog…and that’s saying a lot from this former non-dog person.

Supposedly, this dog’s life span is approximately 15 years. That means Ruby will be about 26 years old, Molly will be about 25 years old and Mack will be about 23 years old when Rolo passes. Which also means they will likely happily have their own grown up lives. Mack may just be meeting the love of his life or getting engaged by then. And then the dog will die and I’ll be heartbroken and sad. Gracious. Why do we do this to ourselves?!?! I blame the kids.

So today, on her third birthday, we did a little photo shoot with her new toys. And she didn’t give me any lip about it either or tell me not to post it anywhere. Good dog.

HAPPY 3rd BIRTHDAY, Rolo!!!! (Or is it her 21st birthday??) 🤷🏼‍♀️

the blasted empty toilet paper roll

The Lord uses empty toilet paper rolls to make me more like Christ. Sounds silly, but it’s true. It almost never fails that I am the one to change the toilet paper to a new roll. Even when I am not at my own home it seems I end up using the last of the toilet paper and am tasked with not being that person who doesn’t think about the person behind them (no pun intended). I am reminded to do the right thing when no one is around and to not be lazy and selfish. I even put it on the way my husband likes it to unroll, though when he used to correct my way, I have been known to reply with, “I CAN PUT IT ON HOWEVER I WANT BECAUSE I AM THE ONE WHO IS PUTTING IT ON THERE!!!!!” See, there is this frustration about the toilet paper roll because it feels like I am the only one who pays attention to this. It seems that I am the only one who goes that extra step or two to make sure the next person to use the bathroom isn’t left in a bind. 

This line of thinking can follow me throughout most of motherhood. Am I the only one who remembers to switch the laundry? Am I the only one who can empty the dishwasher or the only one who doesn’t leave my dish thrown in the sink to never think about again? Am I the only one who has to decide what is for dinner every. single. night.? Am I the only one who knows how to clean a toilet? Am I the only one who notices all the stuff piled on the stairs and can take it upstairs? I have been known to holler out, “I AM NOT YOUR SERVANT.” It never feels exactly biblical to yell that at my kids, but I think you know what I mean. Motherhood is made up of serving. Over and over and over again.

I read an article by Rachel Jankovic on desiringGod.org entitled, “Motherhood is a Calling: And Where Your Children Rank.” I was quite convicted as I read her words. She asks if we feel like motherhood is a rock-bottom job? She cautions us to not view motherhood as a hobby to be picked up for a short time to see if you like it and thrown to the side when it isn’t fun anymore. She also reminds us of the gospel, of the laying down your life part of following Jesus, of the death to self that should mark being a follower of Christ. I loved her words about death: “We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back.”

And this is where I found myself today—-Do I believe that God sees me? Do I believe that life comes after death? Do I believe the person who loses their life is the one who actually finds it? 

When no one is impressed that just today I worked out, went to the grocery store, unloaded all the groceries, made egg&sausage&cheese muffins for this weeks’ breakfast, made rice&beans&beef mixture for the kids’ lunches this week, put a roast with potatoes and carrots and onion and mushrooms for dinner in the crock pot, completed several loads of laundry, cleaned the windows of my car, and made a list of upcoming tests and quizzes to help Mack succeed, will I just be joyful that motherhood and serving my family are offerings of obedience to God? Will I be content that God is pleased with how I am spending my days, no matter how mundane? Will I be thankful for health to move and work around my home? Will I be deeply appreciative of a hardworking husband that encourages me in the work my hands find to do? Will I quit looking for affirmation outside of my relationship with God? I must. 

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus, Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage, rather He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:3-7)

honest heart.

I have been reading through the Old Testament and was growing weary of all the bad news and blood shed and people “doing what was right in their own eyes.” I told the Lord I might need to spend some time in the New Testament for a while because living in a world and in a season where people are “doing what is right in their own eyes” and reading these news articles of riots and bloodshed, I was a bit discouraged. But I persevered and kept reading a few chapters each morning from I Samuel.  

I noticed that on several different occassions, Saul was noted as having “his spear in his hand.” He was a frustrated man. He felt threatened by David. He was tormented in his mind as he walked around with his spear in his hand. 

I could relate a little, as I seemed to be easily irritated and ready to use my spear on anyone who crossed me. Tensions are high—in the grocery store, on the road, in Barnes N Noble when Ruby and I ran in for a book and forgot to wear masks and got all the dirty looks.

So in my journal I had a little section of confession:  

“I confess my bitterness of soul. I confess I don’t know what to do about it.

I confess my constant bubbling frustration. I confess I don’t know what to do about it.

I confess I don’t like most people these days. I confess I don’t know what to do about it.”

The next morning I woke up with Psalm 3 on my mind. I was honestly relieved and used that prompting from the Spirit to not spend more time with wicked Saul and his spear. Or atleast that is what I thought I was going to do. In actuality, God was answering my confessions of not knowing what to do with my very real frustrations.

The first section of Psalm 3 is an honest heart crying out to God.

The next section is the truth about God—He is my protector, He is enough, He is restorer, He hears me, He saves me, He blesses me, He gives me rest, He sustains me.

I was reminded that it is more than ok, even healthy and good, to cry out to God with anything on my heart AS LONG AS I SET UP AGAINST THE LAMENTING the truth about Who God is.

We find another example in Psalm 11 when David feels threatened and afraid and even asks what he is to do if the foundations are destroyed. But as we read on we see that the foundations cannot be destroyed and nothing happens outside of God’s careful watch. 

G.Campbell Morgan writes about Psalm 11, “To reckon with circumstances and to leave God out of count is to omit the principal factor in any and every situation. What unutterable folly to confuse scaffolding with foundation.”  And boy don’t I do that?! I look at what I see and I listen to what is in the headlines and find it tempting to think the whole world is hopeless. But that is scaffolding. The foundation of my life is built on Christ and there is always hope in Him. 

Psalm 142 is another beautiful chapter subtitled “Prayer for Help in Trouble.” It coincides with the time David spent running from Saul who was constantly walking around “with a spear in his hand” and ready to take David’s life. David cries out to God in despair with the feeling that no one cares for him and that no one is going to help him escape the threats on his life.  THEN, David reminds himself—he said to the Lord, “You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living.” Even after he confesses that he was overwhelmed, he also says in the same breath that God knows his path. He ends this mix of lamenting and reminding with hope—“For You will deal bountifully with me.” 

G. Campbell Morgan adds his commentary to this chapter, “It is a great thing in darkest hour to set over against the darkness all the facts about God. To do so is to triumph even in sorrow.”

So maybe you find yourself a bit on edge and feeling the tensions of living in a wicked world. By all means, take notice and pour out your heart to God, but don’t stop there. Remind yourself of who God is and of His power and rule over all of it. Remind yourself of all that His Word tells us He is and let your heart take courage! He is with you and this is not our home.

Happy 43rd Birthday to Josh!

There is no one on the planet I would rather spend my days with than Josh. Words always fall short when I try to tell what I think and feel about who he is.

We took him to his favorite steak house for dinner, and he spent part of the time speaking life into each one of us. He told Ruby he loves seeing her interests come to light and encouraged her to lean into the direction God has for her and how He has made her. He told Molly what he admired about her ability to be herself and not be distracted by what those around her do—she’s comfortable in her skin and that’s a beautiful thing. After he told Mack to sit up and quit making jokes, he told him how proud he was of Mack overcoming a few personal challenges and having such a good attitude about school and just loving life in general. And he told the kids how much he loves me and appreciates all I do for the family and how he hopes and prays they are each able to find a spouse that encourages them the way I do him.

As I sat there watching the kids and listening to Josh, I was overcome with gratefulness. He loves us well. He is not a “showy” person at all—quietly, consistently, boldly, faithfully and with humility he lives his life and leads his family and loves the Lord.

And he is mine🥰

Happy 43rd birthday, Joshua Lee. You’re my favorite.

#mollyisfifteen

Our Molly is making lots of appearances on the blog lately. I’ll work to post about the other two very soon!

Molly turns 15 today! She is a great blessing to our family. She’s a peacemaker, and we need one of those in the family!!!! Ruby and Mack are more like pot-stirrers, so Molly brings some calm.

She has always been a very independent little girl….besides that long season of toddlerhood where she followed me around very calmly repeating, “Hold me. Mama, hold me. Hold me, Mama.” No whining. No voice inflection. Just a monotone, consistent repetition of that phrase.

We love you Molly Moodle!!! You’re a great help around the house and keep us connected to people—that’s you’re favorite thing—being with people. We thank God He put you in the middle even though we were caught quite off guard! God knew what He was doing! Happy 15th Birthday!

Might regret this purchase🤣

Molly has been asking for drums for her birthday for quite a while. She’s proven herself to be someone who will teach herself how to play instruments, so we thought we’d give in to her request.

And she’s been practicing and it’s even more of a blessing that school starts back Wednesday because ohmygoodnessthereisalotofnoisecomingoutofthatroom.

This is Molly being silly and posing “like those girls that show their butts in their prom dress.”🤷🏼‍♀️
This is Dad and Mom who are already unsure of their drum purchase but are thankful for a child who wants to learn new things. Molly always has pushed us out of comfort zones. ❤️

More birthday photos to come! It’s not til Tuesday. We probably should have not let her “open” the drums til then.