Friday, June 29, 2018

Dream Big or Dream Small?

Are you a big dreamer?  Or do the words "Dream Small" resonate with you?

 1 Corinthians 15:58 says:

With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort.

Isn’t that an amazing promise?  We can be CONFIDENT that our “labor in the Lord is not in vain” (if you prefer the King James Version).  

When I first heard the title of the song I’m sharing today, it annoyed me.   “Dream Small” goes against my personality, my way of living life and the way I’ve always been taught.   I’m a big dreamer and live by the motto, “The bigger the mountain, the better the climb.”

But I realized after hearing it a few times that those of us “big dreamers” need to remember to do the small things.  Sometimes we get caught up in all of our big dreaming that we miss out on the folks around us.

A coworker of mine stated this a few months ago and I've kept the quote:  "if could get everyone to understand that “it's not how much we do, but how small we can do, to touch a life and make a difference”  

So for those of you who are really good at the small things that make a huge difference, THANK YOU.  Realize that none of those things are going to be wasted.

And for those of you who, like me, prefer big things, let’s be more mindful of the small things that we could and should be doing that might have a greater impact than the big things.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Guide Me, Hold Me, Feed Me, Lead Me

This entire week I have had one song stuck in my mind.   It came from the VBS program at our church and it’s the intro to the song “Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Jehovah” that the kids sang.  I’m attaching a video of by far the cutest kid ever (aka my grandson Carlos) at his debut. He’s only three and this is the first time he sang in front of people.  I think he did pretty well.

But this catchy intro hasn’t left my mind.  “Guide me, guide me, won’t You guide me, guide me, guide me, all the way…

The hymn the kids sang has some requests of God — imperative verbs if you know grammar.   As I was listening to the song I thought about how all encompassing those things are.

We need God to guide us.  Sometimes we just need a nudge here or there as we make choices in life.   When we feel competent, strong, decisive and capable, we still need to remember to ask Him to guide us.

We need God to hold us.   When life falls apart, we need to be held.  We need God to pick us up out of the mess we are in, either by our own making or the situations around us.   When I think of God holding us, I think of one of my kids when they were little or one of my grandkids who when they fall down, they simply need an adult to hold them and tell them it will be okay.   

We need God to feed us.  Not only does the hymn writer say “feed me” but he said, “Feed me til I want no more.”  We need God to fill us up with Himself until there is no room for anything else.

Finally, we need God to lead us.   There are times when we have no clue where to go or what to do and we simply need to ask Him to show us the way and then, if He is going to lead, we need to follow.

On this #ThankfulThursday I am so grateful for a God who can step in during whatever I’m going through and do what is needed, whether I need guiding, holding, feeding or leading.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Expectations Kill

All my life I thought that Proverbs 31 was written by a man to honor his wife.   OR something like that.   Maybe you are a detail person and you noticed the beginning of the chapter, but I didn’t. 

I often tell a very funny story about Proverbs 31 that involves a night club dancer in Vegas and a tattoo.  You should ask me to tell it to you sometime.  But I digress.
I just noticed this past week that the chapter introduction says "The sayings of King Lemuel—an inspired utterance his mother taught him.

I’m not sure how I feel about Lemuel’s mom.  She sure did paint a picture of a virtuous woman that Christian women have been comparing themselves to for thousands of years.   I wonder if she felt she was that woman or if she was simply wishing her son would find someone like that.  But it has sure messed up expectations since!

Check out the chapter sometime if you haven’ t already…. she never sleeps — she is up early and her lamp doesn’t go out at night.  Her husband has full confidence in her.  She dresses well, keeps an impeccable house, and also is shrewd in her business dealings.  She’s never idle, her husband praises her, and this one always cracks me up, “her children rise up and call her blessed.”  My kids rise up and call me things, but I’ve never heard the word blessed!

Our expectations for ourselves and for each other can kill us.   If we head into marriage believing we are going to be the “Proverbs 31” woman — or if a man goes into marriage thinking he’s marrying one, we are in big trouble.  Because we will never measure up.  

But that is where grace comes in.  Grace that we offer not only to the people around us but also to ourselves.   None of us can be perfect — that is God’s job.

So give yourself a break today.  Do your best and leave the rest to God.  He’s not expecting you to do anything more than that!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Is it really?

I’m sure glad this sentence isn’t a Bible verse.  Some people think it is, but it isn’t.   Because there are many days when my house is not clean!

As you probably know, I am not the one who cleans here.  Historically I have been the one who coordinates the unwilling servants (aka children/teens) to do chores, but Bart has always preferred to do the cleaning… and most of the housework.  With his foot in a cast and strict orders of “no weight bearing for 12 weeks” I’m the one doing the cleaning.  And there are only two kids here, both adults, and they don’t really do chores, though they have been fairly helpful.

The one thing I hate most about cleaning is that it just gets dirty again.  Super fast it seems.  So what is the point in cleaning in the first place?  Keeping it clean I suppose would be an option, but we have 8 and 3 year olds here who while they do pick up their toys, are not capable of “keeping things clean.”  

I know, I know, a bunch of personal Claudia stuff again, but it leads to a point.

In Psalm 51 David prays, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.”     This is a prayer that we often pray as well.  But I wonder if God ever feels the same way about me as I do about cleaning the house.  I wonder if sometimes he thinks, “Good grief!  I just cleaned your heart the other day and it needs cleaning again already!?!

The bad news is that our hearts do get cloudy and need cleaning.  Often.   But according to Psalm 145:8 God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. That means that no matter how many times our hearts need cleaning, no matter how many times we need to have a “right spirit renewed” He is there to answer that prayer.

And that, my friends, is good news.

Friday, June 08, 2018


This morning I had a lovely drive from Danville to Lynchburg.  The weather was perfect early this morning and there is one spot on my drive that is absolutely breathtaking.  You head around a curve and suddenly a glorious landscape of trees and hills bursts into view.  God unveiling his majesty to me, personally, on every trip. :-)

I arrived and I'm the only one in this whole section of my office building.  I’m alone and it is completely quiet.

And oddly those two things have calmed my frantic spirit.    The beautiful drive and the quietness of the office have reminded me that Jesus is the one who can calm every storm.

Remember what happened to Peter when he looked at the waves instead of looking at Jesus?  That’s what has happened to me the past few days.   I have been focusing on the wrong things and it has robbed me of my peace.

Are you with me?  Is your life, like mine, turbulent?  Feel like the storm is about to overtake you.

I pray that we will all be able to take a minute to focus on Jesus and allow him to speak peace to us.  

I love this line of the song I’m sharing today:

I don’t want to fear the storm just because I hear it roar.

Here’s to a day where we can cease fearing the storm because we know the One who can calm it in an instant.

Peace to you today.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

What if???

It takes a lot for me to feel maxed out.   I have been through a lot of things in my life and am thus pretty resilient.  But lately, I’m maxed out.

You probably have seen me whining on Facebook about picking up all the household stuff.  Bart always has done the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the grocery shopping.  My role has been taking care of our calendar, our social life, all of the kids schedules and their therapy, IEP, school activities.  I am responsible for all phone calls as Bart hates the phone.   And I work.  A lot.  I love to work.

But now, I am doing all of the things I always do and all of the things he always does and that is a LOT.   In addition, my mom, as you may know, is not doing well.  They are thinking of sending her to the care center, which I know she does not want.   But she may need it and I’m not there in person to navigate the decision.  Because she has been so confused lately, I’m not even sure I can trust what she says to be true — which is awfully weird because she has always been my source of truth since the day I was born.

I also have a few situations with some of my kids that are tenuous.  I won’t go into detail but they involve kids living with birthparents, a son in prison, and citizenship issues for our boys adopted from Guatemala.

I need to do our taxes and have a huge insurance battle to fight in regards to Bart’s foot.

And work is so exciting lately I can’t stay away from it.  So by the end of each day my mind is spinning.

I feel the most maxed out when I start projecting into the future.   When I start thinking, “What if….” my anxiety takes over.

What if my mom needs to move and I can’t leave Bart to help with getting her stuff packed?  What if her last lucid days I’m 1000 miles away?  What if Bart’s foot isn’t fixed and this is our new normal?  What if I can’t figure out the issues of citizenship and my kids can’t have access to the things that are rightfully theirs since their adoption provided guaranteed citizenship?  What if things explode with my kids who are living with birthparents and they want to come back here?   and on and on and on.

Jesus clearly tells us to stop doing the what if.  He says in Matthew 6:34:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

If you’ve been playing the “what if” game, STOP IT.   Take it one day at a time.  God’s got you.  And Jesus specifically told you not to.  

And here is our friend Amy who has been around for decades reminding us to “consider the lillies of the field”

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Isn't it enough?

Ever go through a season where it seems like every thought in your head is whiny?  Where complaining and negativity drown you inwardly, even if you are gracious enough to share it with the world?  Or possibly you are sharing it with several people.  I’ve been whining to 1800 on Facebook about having to do housework while Bart is recovering from surgery.

One of my favorite stories in all of Scripture is the story of the Isrealites who wandered in the dessert for 40 years.  The reason it is one of my favorites is because it so thoroughly points out that humanity has been the same through the ages.   The same attitudes, challenges, and mistakes that we make on a daily basis they were making thousands of years ago.

I thought this verse was particularly profound in Numbers 16:

Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them?

It is Moses’ response to the Israelites when they were rebelling against what God had told them.  And it isn’t he first time Moses uses these words with people.  When they complained and whined he would ask them, “Isn’t it enough that God has ________

If have something that you are whining about today I encourage you to write your own “Isn’t it enough” statement and go back and look where God has brought you.  Start it with your name and the words, “Isn’t it enough?"

For example, Claudia, isn’t it enough that Bart got you both to and through Bart’s surgery without a hitch?  Isn’t it enough that I have given you strength to get the tasks done every day so far?  Isn’t it enough that I provided you a husband who has done the laundry and cooking and cleaning for 22 years and is only taking a 12 week break?

Often when we put things in perspective it helps the whining to stop.  Try it and see if it works!