My daughter Montana wrote a sermon several months ago that she used for competition in speech in the public school. It was so well received by all that heard it that God blessed her with opportunity to present it to our church congregation (about 700 people) This is a recording of that morning. I am posting it today as she will be competing tomorrow in a fine arts state competition. Please pray for her as she has an opportunity to advance to a national level. Last, my “Man Of The North” and I had absolutely nothing to do with this sermon. It was between Montana and the Lord and I believe it is truly anointed.
LIFE OF A FARM WIFE
Just reading a few of my old posts and realizing that their is continued room for self evaluation and self improvement in our relationships with our family and spouse. Thought I would repost this one cause I think that despite how late Spring is I am in that place once again where I am feeling the loneliness of an absent husband. My 3 year old is now 5 and this will be my 18th summer in Minnesota. Truth be told I can’t wait to see what the season will bring. I have grown, I have opened my eyes to the beautiful gift of raising children on the farm and I am not kicking and screaming so much this year. I am embracing the season and it feels really good. However, this post below did help me reflect and it reminded me that I am truly blessed.
HILLS WE DIE ON – 2011
I am coming into a tough time of year here on the farm when it comes to spending quality time with my “Man of the North”. In the summer months I like to kid and say that I am a single parent most of the time. Even though I am kidding about this I am generally not real happy about it. With all that our children require right now, I quickly become brutally aware of all the help I receive all winter from my husband and the immediate absence of it when the snow melts. Sometimes (well most times) this is not a graceful transition for me. You would think that after almost 16 summers I would have a grip on it, but usually he has to drag me along kicking and screaming like a little girl (I am ashamed to admit).
However, this year got me thinking about the hills we choose to die on and why. For example. When my husband does laundry for me, I consider him to be a “dumper”, which means that his idea of doing laundry is to wash (not sorted), dry and dump on the couch for me to manage. Over the years I have realized that he is really trying to help me overcome a task I am really bad at and his motives are pure. Why should I risk the death of our relationship over such a trivial thing that I am not exactly a master of anyway. So I always say ‘That is not a hill I want to die on.” He is helping me and that is what matters most.
Last night I found myself in a scenario that will play out most of the summer months for me. My “Man of the North” was gone before sunrise and scheduled to be home to help me out with our 3 year old prior to me leaving to take the children to the pool for practice. On this particular evening, I asked if he could be home because I serve on the swim club board of directors and we were having a meeting during practice. Twenty minutes before I am set to leave for the pool, my husband calls to inform me that he will not be home in time. All the similar feelings and frustrations of 16 years begin to well up in me as I prepare to respond to him on the phone and instead with the best tone I could muster I said, “Okay then, I will see you later tonight.” Still, in my heart, I was mad, hurt, feeling overlooked and ready to come undone. When we returned from the pool that evening at 8:45pm I could see my husband in the tractor, lights bright, fertilizing the field on our farm before the rain. He had arrived home at some point ( I don’t know when) from a full day of work on the sod farm and went back out to get some work done at home.
I have been asking God in my prayers to open my eyes to see what I have been missing lately, with a pure desire to change in hopes of creating a richer relationship with Him and with those around me that I care so much for (husband, children, extended family). Be careful what you ask for……. James 1:19-20 says Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. And Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
I read these two pieces of scripture in my daily devotion just the other day. This morning as I was lying in bed watching my husband get ready for another day, I realized the need to apply this scripture more directly to this situation. I love him more than anything here on this earth, and despite my personal inconvenience with his absence, it is my loving responsibility as his wife to build him up, not tear him down. He is my true north. He keeps my feet on the ground and loves me even when it is not fun. I need to do the same for him.
So if any of you are in a relationship of any kind that challenges you to be selfless, consider it a blessing, not a burden. Relationships are all we have, with God, family, friends. All else will eventually pass away. Let’s make them count for something. The hills of relationship should be hills of triumph not the place we go to die.
Make it a great day.
What A Difference A Week Can Make
I took a picture on the 1st of April out of complete discouragement. In all my years of living in Minnesota, I think this has been the first winter that I am truly tired of the snow and cold. It started in November, before Thanksgiving and as you can see from photo #1 it is not willing to surrender. But, what a difference a week can make.
I took this picture yesterday, April 7th. Farmer Wynn and my “Man Of The North” fertilizing fields before the rain coming on Saturday. The snow is gone, the sun is shining and in a few days the grass will be green! Ya!
It made me think a bit yesterday, how quickly things can transform from one state to another. I mean winter lasted for what seemed an eternity this year and yet in one week God shifts His beautiful landscape to prepare for the new season. He does that in our lives too. Just when we think we will never be able to get out from under the weight we are carrying, BAM! it’s Spring.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. If you are going through a tough place trust His timing. It is perfect.
A Cut Above
I have always been a goal setter. It motivates me to work harder and press in when things are not going just the way I planned. Combining that with my faith in the will of God is the only thing that helps me to stay functional and sane. As an adult, I have life experience to depend on during those times when my goal is just out of reach and that aids me in re-evaluating and setting revised goals. But as a parent, teaching children the value and benefit of goal setting, I was faced with a tremendous challenge this past weekend.
As I mentioned in my prior post, my three older children are competitive swimmers. This past weekend, my daughter Montana and my oldest son Wyatt, participated in their end of the season finals. Swimmers compete in finals with the ultimate goal of reaching their best time for the season. In addition, swimmers have the opportunity to qualify for the state meet. State qualifying times are challenging and require committment. My son Wyatt, set goals to establish himself well in his new age group(11-12) so as to position himself to potentially qualify for the summer state meet. He accomplished his goal. My daughter Montana, has been competing all season with the goal of qualifying as an individual in one event for the state meet. Going into the meet on Saturday, Montana was .78 hundredths of a second from a qualifying time in her 100 backstroke.
On Saturday afternoon, on a very quiet drive home, after two attempts, the result was 0-2. Montana was devastated and so was I. Now please understand, I was not disappointed in her, but for her. I knew how much this goal ment to her, and there was nothing I could do. She was inconsolable and no level of encouragement was affective. We were so proud of her for her committment and effort and we had the benefit of life experience that tells us…..next time, it’s not the end of the world, and so on.
My daughter swam her first highschool season this year with great success and her club season up to this point was considered to be as accomplished. She had met all of her intermediate goals throughout the entire season, and in most cases had exceeded her goal. But for Montana, at this moment in time, none of that mattered. And in all my training and life experience, I was at a complete loss. Worse yet, we still had an entire day of swimming to get through on Sunday.
With a deeply troubled spirit, I lay my head down on Saturday night and prayed earnestly for my daughter. God, give me wisdom in this situation to be what she needs when she needs it. And when I fall short, may you hold her in your holy hand and let her know that your love is all she needs.
Another early morning ensued on Sunday, and due to scheduling issues just Montana, Wyatt and I went to the meet on that morning. My “Man Of The North” and my other two boys stayed home to honor another committment. On our way to the pool that morning, we began an impromptu conversation about the gifts we receive from God both physical and spiritual and how they drive the heart of who we are. Walking in boldness and strength while working in our gifts is what allows us to present our very best in life. When we have a relationship with Christ, we operate in His power and grace not our own. All of the sudden, the three of us had an aha moment. And I watched the light go on in Montana. We arrived at the swim meet refreshed and ready to leave Saturday behind and give our very best to the day ahead.
Wyatt continued to cut time in every race and he positioned himself for future success. And Montana……Well, now for the rest of the story. Scheduled to swim four races Sunday, she swam best times all morning including an unbelievable cut time in her 100 freestyle that witnessed to me that she was fully operational in her gift. Just after that race she came to me in the stands, looked across the bleacher seat and said, “Mamma, I need to talk to you right now.” She proceeded to explain that her coach, upon witnessing her last race, would like to scratch her final scheduled race and time trial her in the 100 backstroke one more time, if I approve.
The moment of truth. What do I say. I don’t want her to be sad one more minute and this definitely has the potential to end in sadness. And then I knew. It wasn’t my decision. “What do you want to do?” I said. “I want to do it,” she said. “Are you sure?” I said. “Yes, I want to do it.” “Okay,” I said, “Then I think you should.” Between that conversation and the time of the race (about 2 1/2 hours) I did not speak to Montana again.
She jumped in the water for the start and as she took her mark, I asked the Lord that no matter what the clock said at the conclusion, Montana would know that she had given her very best. As I have reflected upon this race the last couple of days, I have come to appreciate the opportunity God gifted me with that day to witness my child accomplishing her goal. With strength, boldness and grace Montana was a cut above.
1400 Miles Of Obedience
Ever thought about what is at the root of your faith? I have always tried to actively live my faith daily, but this past week I crossed over into a place where my definitions for all things pertaining to my belief changed. I was challenged by God to step out and be blindly obedient
Since moving to Minnesota in 1995, I have learned to cope with the distance I have from my immediate family who all have remain in California. While visiting with my mother on the phone the other night, she shared with me that she had just received a phone call from Missouri. Her younger sister, my aunt (who also lives in Missouri) had quite suddenly been diagnosed with a brain tumor. I have not seen my aunt in 15 years and instantly all kinds of thoughts went through my head. Where had the time gone, how long does she have, is it cancer, what happens next, and then the epiphany. My aunt doesn’t know Christ.
In all the years I have had a relationship with Christ, I have been convicted of many things, but for the first time I was faced with contemplating the eternity of a family member. So much goes through your head when you are trying to justify your position to yourself. All the reasons why it was not my problem, not to mention the typical everyday legitimate excuses, for why traveling to Missouri to see someone I had not been in contact with for 15 years was ridiculous. And the worst one of all…..What if she doesn’t want to see me?
But the thing is, when God asks you to do something He doesn’t really have to give you a reason. I believe He always has one, but that doesn’t mean you get to know what it is. That is faith. Faith, you see, is paved with steps of obedience. And if we choose obedience we have an opportunity not only to exercise our faith, but to strengthen it as well.
As more and more information came in about my aunts condition it became brutally apparent to me that I was not getting out of this trip. My husband was ever supportive in all the ways needed. He changed the oil in the suburban, check all the fluids and offered to hold down the fort while I was away. I left for New Haven, Missouri on Friday, February 11 at 4pm. My oldest son graciously offered to chaperone and I am so thankful for his obedience and committment to his mother. We arrived in New Haven on Saturday, February 12 at 12:30pm.
Due to unforseen circumstances the time I spent with my aunt was one hour. I had the opportunity to sit by her bedside, reminisce about time gone by and show her all that has been happening in my life for the last 15 years. As I reached out to say good-bye I took that opportunity to pray for her and make sure she knew that it would continue. No grand miracle occurred in those few moments of time but, as I prepared to leave she reached out, took my hand and expressed sincere gratitude for my willingness to come and see her. In that moment I knew that I had done the right thing.
My son and I left as quickly as we came and by Sunday, February 13, 2pm we pulled into our home in Minnesota. As I have had time to reflect on this trip many things have been laid upon my heart. It is said that as Christians we all have different roles to play and some are there for planting while others are there for the harvest. I know I planted seeds that day. I also know that God will send someone to tend them. Additionally, I realized that not only did my faith grow and increase through my obedience but so did that of my children as they witnessed their mother’s journey.
My son an I traveled 1400 miles in less that 48 hours. And we did it for a one hour opportunity. And I am here to say, it was worth every second.
Answering The Call
Moving to Minnesota was my destiny, but that did not mean that it was not without it’s challenges. No one quite understands when they are madly and passionately in love that moving 1500 miles from all they have known their entire life might cause issues. Some issues were simple. Grocery store, stylist, doctor. Others, not so simple. Human contact, lack of family, lack of reputation and association. These were the challenges I faced when I married my “Man Of The North” and moved to the frozen tundra.
Just a side note…..It was -5 this morning when I took the children to school. Frozen tundra is sometimes a severe understatement. Anyway, back to the story.
It was in this time of desperation that I was introduced to an oppotunity to start a new business working in the area of image, fashion and style. I had always lacked finishing in these areas and thought that the certification could have a two-fold benefit. I jumped in with both feet as I generally do and soon became a “Certified” Image and Style Consultant. It was a life altering experience as it gave me a deeper insight into my own perception about myself and ultimately catapulted me into an entirely different area of business. (another story later……)
However, my Lord above did have purpose for my training. 6 years ago, through an unlikely course of events I was given an opportunity to take what I had learned so many years ago and share it publicly in churches all over the state. My heart for women and the daily battle they fight with themselves and the mirror has become a mission field for me among other things. I have been blessed to travel and speak and consult with women and always come away wondering who actually was more moved by God, myself or the women I meet.
I have had a bit of time off as of late, due to many circumstances beyond my control, and last evening I had the chance to dip my big toe in the pool and spend some time ministering to the MOPS group in my home church. Hesitant, I stepped into the light and enjoyed once again the fellowship and blessings that only come from serving someone else and God.
I realized that regardless of how hesitant I might be about moving back into the realm of speaking and women’s ministry, it is what God has called me to do. The freedom I experience working in my calling is unlike anything I experience in any other area of my life. It dawned on me this morning that everyone is called into something. And I am compelled to ask……Are you working in yours?
Make It A Blessed Day!
Let Go Of The Branch
I remember a story I heard once about a great man of faith who loved the Lord with all his heart and believed that his faith in God was one of his most valuable assets. One day while hiking near his home he slipped and fell and began sliding down the mountain to his certain death. At that crucial moment he reached out and grabbed a branch before plunging into the great abyss. As he hung there contemplating the inevitable, he lifted up a prayer to his Lord. “God, please send someone to save me,” he said. ” I promise to serve you more and with greater zeal, please save me!” “I have faith that you will send someone.”
All at once he heard an audible voice that he knew could only be that of God himself. And the voice said, “I will save you. Just let go of the branch.” There was pause and then the man responded, “What do you mean let go of the branch, if I do surely I will die.” God replied, “You said you have faith that I will save you, trust me and let go of the branch?” The moment of truth…..how large is your faith.
It is so easy to proclaim a deep faith in the power of God, but how often are we asked to put that faith to the test and operate in it. I am in a place of great opportunity right now. It has required me to “Let Go Of The Branch”. I promise to let you know how it goes.