Friday, April 25, 2008


Since I remember my father's 20-year high school reunion, it doesn't seem possible mine is coming up this summer. I can't be that old! Well, maybe I am, but I certainly don't feel old. I feel like I'm in my prime, with all the little things that make life grand.
In high school, I was a dork! It didn't take a rocket scientist to recognize that I was anything but cool. Actually, I was pretty shy and insecure. Thus, I didn't get to know many of my classmates very well. If they even remember me, I'd be surprised. I survived high school, then went on to get a life and make lots of friends. Somewhere along the way, I quit being a dork (for the most part) and haven't thought much about high school at all.

That is why it was rather shocking to feel insecure and insignificant again as I looked through photos of classmates (most of whom I don't remember), seeing their beautiful homes, boats and families. The world will say these people are successful; they are at the top of the ladder; they have it all. But, do they? Are they content with where they are? Do they have joy? And, do they know what will happen to them when they die? I can't answer those questions for anyone else, but I can answer them for me!

According to the world's standards, we don't have much. We drive a seven year old car that we bought used and were barely able to scrape cash together to buy. We live in a small house where four children share one bedroom and we have one full bathroom, that all eight of us share. I feed my family on about $400 a month, and I clothe my children at thrift stores instead of department stores. We will not be taking a vacation to any exotic locations this summer; we probably won't take a vacation this summer. We don't go golfing in the summer or skiing in the winter. Instead, I have a home filled with the laughter of children. When I go to bed at night, I sleep next to my best friend. We are surrounded, not by the oppulance of this world, but by the abundance of God's provision. And, when I die I am going to Heaven to be with Jesus forever. What more could I want?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Safe in the Father's Arms

Car travel with six children is not for the faint of heart, especially when the oldest is only 12. But, living where we do, extended car travel is kind of necessary; we don't have Costco, Wal-Mart or any real department stores, nor do we have the facilities to host a large convention like we attended last weekend.

To get anywhere from where we live, you must cross mountain passes. At this time of year, usually that isn't a big deal, but last weekend, when we went to a homeschool convention on the west side of Washington, it became a very big deal.

Attending the homeschool convention was really our first major adventure in our new van. It actually went quite smoothly, with everyone fitting comfortably into their respective seats. Much to the delight of my girls, a friend joined us for the adventure. We enjoyed the drive over, though it was snowing as we crossed the pass. Snow even fell in Redmond, covering spring flowers with decidedly winter white. The convention was a very encouraging event, but because of plans the following day (and no hotel accommodations) we headed home. And, because of the snow, we headed home a little earlier than we might have otherwise.

As we headed home in the late evening, first one and then another child drifted off to sleep. The sounds of their deep, regular breathing filled the van. Inside, everything was peaceful and quiet. Outside, however, conditions were very different. Heavy snow was falling quickly, and the gray piles of old snow that we'd seen on our way westward were blanketed in white. In places the road was barely visible through the slush and snow. Though the pass wasn't closed, traffic was moving slowly. To say the least, it was a scary ride. My children, however, were not afraid. They were able to rest comfortably and peacefully, taking no concern for their safety, because their father was taking care of them.

I realized, as I sat white knuckled next to my husband, who was also white knuckled, that God was giving me a picture of Himself. I can go through life resting comfortably and peacefully, because my Father is taking care of me. I don't need to be anxious for any of the myriad of things I can be anxious about (can you relate?) because my Father has everything completely under control. Now, sometimes it doesn't FEEL like God has everything under control. Sometimes it feels like life is spinning hopelessly OUT of control. But, if I'm really willing to trust, I can rest safe in the Father's arms, just as my children did in the car last weekend.

If you don't know who I'm referring to when I write "Father," or if you wonder how I can have such an intimate, personal relationship with God, please let me know. I'd love to explain it to you. I have found a joy and peace so incredible that I take great delight in sharing with others how they too can have what I have. You can rest safe in your Father's arms, if you know Him as Father. It is a wonderful thing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Perspective is Everything, part II

We have driven a 1993 Chevy Suburban for the last seven years. It was donated to our family in 2002, back when we had four children. It served us well as we drove down to and back from Orlando, Florida, up to and back from Anchorage, Alaska, and all points in between. The Suburban now has almost 300,000 miles on the engine, and with the addition of two children, every seat is filled. We needed a new car.

Late this past winter, when we thought we were going to need another seat in the Suburban, we decided to look for a 12 passenger van. The Lord provided a 2001 Chevy Express with less than 60,000 miles on it, for a very VERY good price. Though it was located in Marquette, Michigan, we found a couple who drove it to Spokane, WA for less than it would have cost to fly out and get it ourselves. Easter Sunday, after celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and enjoying lunch with some dear friends, we headed to Spokane to pick up our new van.

Just over an hour into our journey, we suddenly lost cruise control. After trying, unsuccessfully, to restart the engine, my husband was able to coast our powerless vehicle to the side of the road. And, there we sat, for over two hours, with six children packed into a small enclosed space. It was definitely a recipe for disaster. Then things got worse.

After more than 90 minutes sitting stranded on the roadside, Mom started to get pretty frustrated. It was obvious we needed help! Still, car after car drove by without so much as slowing down. As I became more and more irritated, my tone with the children changed. I became short; snappy; sharp. Just as I was really starting to feel anger towards the heartless motorists who seemed oblivious to the drama playing out in my back seat, one of my daughters uttered a phrase that gave me a whole new perspective. Her words; The Lord is Risen.

Now, if you don't go to church all that often, you may not realize that the appropriate response is, "He is Risen Indeed." It is a greeting I've taught my children because of my great love for Easter, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. We'd been saying it to each other with great joy just hours ago. The night before, I'd been so excited as I thought about the precious truth that because Jesus died on the cross for my sins I didn't have to and could go to Heaven to be with Him that I couldn't sleep! It was just the ticket to give me some much needed perspective.

Even though cars were still flying by at more than 70 miles an hour, even though we were still all sitting in a small space, with children filling every passenger seat (and their stuff filling everywhere else), and even though we had no idea what was wrong with our car, how much it would cost to fix it, or how long we'd be stuck on the side of the road, Jesus was alive and we could look forward to Heaven! Perspective was everything.

You know, my children actually remember the time fondly! We ate Easter candy, played some crazy games and I read aloud from a favorite book. Finally, when it became obvious that the car was going to need professional attention, my husband called a tow-truck and we got a ride back to the closest town. The tow truck driver dropped us off at a restaurant close to the Chevy dealership, where ALL SIX of our children ATE FOR FREE. God was taking care of all the details, and Jesus was alive again. Little else mattered.

We're home now. Our Suburban is fixed (it was the ignition module; who would have thought your ignition was so important?!) and our van runs beautifully. We took 9 kids to a church function the other day, and still had room for more. It was a huge blessing. But, more than the van, I'm thankful for the perspective I gained that night. Life is hard. Even Jesus said so. But it is ok. Jesus said in John 16:33 "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Knowing that, I can face almost anything.