Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Have you showered today?

Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." --John 4:13-14

I went to bed feeling weary tonight, not physically, but spiritually. Jon and I had a few conversations that didn't go the way I'd planned, Grace was being her sassy 3-going-on-13-year-old self, and I was just… weary. Overall it's really been a good day, so I couldn't figure out why I felt so weighed down. But as I have lain here, tossing and turning and not able to sleep, it hit me: I haven't spent quiet time with the Lord today… or yesterday… or the day before.

OK, let me ask you a question. How many of you showered today? Let me see those hands. How about yesterday? How about Monday? Really? All three days? Good job! J Seriously, although once in a while life gets crazy and we may have to skip a day, it's a rarity, right? And I can't even TELL you the last time I went TWO DAYS without showering! Why? Because it's gross! Right?

And yet, how much more important is it for our spirits to be cleansed? Repenting of our sins, growing in the Lord, basking in His love, laying our burdens at His feet—these are the warm water and soap to rinse away the grime we pick up daily. Praying and reading the Bible keep us healthy and clean before God. If I miss a day with Him, I may notice it but not pay too much attention—kind of like a day without a shower. I know it need it the next day. J But after three days without this vital part of my routine, I am feeling… well, spiritually stinky, for lack of a better term. The build-up of the fallen world is just too much after a few days without washing it in the Living Water.

So have you showered today? Not with water from the tap, but with living water that comes from God alone? Let him wash away your sins, your burdens, the dirt of this world, so that you may be clean and ready to face a new day.

Have a blessed week.

Wordless Wednesday--When Words Fail

I'm sorry--this is not the post that I had promised or planned... and it's even late, at that. :-) It seems that the things I want to write about are still a little too close to my heart, and the words just aren't coming out.

And since I can't seem to come up with the words I want to say, it's the perfect time for a "Wordless Wednesday"...

Sometimes a girl just needs some love...........

Monday, July 28, 2008

Grab the tissues and get on YouTube...

I promise that I am working on some "meaty" posts that will be popping up soon. For tonight I wanted to share a YouTube video that I saw recently. Maybe it's just all of the recent drama with my cat (Oops, I just realized that I haven't filled you in on the latest with that--I will save that for another day), or maybe it's just 'cause I'm a sap, but I cried when I watched this! And because I'm a woman, that makes me want to share it with all of you and make you cry. So watch it. Now. And you'd better cry... or at least tell me you did so I don't feel so weak...

Click here for the video...

Oh, and while you're there, check out the promotional video for the upcoming conference I'm planning for my MOPS group. We're making a few small changes, but you'll get the overall gist. Isn't it great??? I can't take any credit--my friend Becka put it all together for me. And if you're a mom and not registered for the conference yet (Courtney!), why not??? :-) Seriously, it's going to be such a great event, and I really hope to see lots of you there!

OK, really, I promise I have some things on my heart I want to share with you... tomorrow... For now, enjoy the videos and don't get lost on YouTube. :-)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 8

So my parents decided to reach out, to give my biological mother a chance to be part of my life.

And that—basically from "part 5" to now—is what they shared with me that Sunday afternoon in August of 1998. No, they didn't just leave me in suspense… but when they got to that part, I knew. "It's Jan, isn't it?" I said.

They just stared at me. "Did you know?" my mom asked.

No, I hadn't found out early. I hadn't known when they started or when they talked about the connection with my Aunt Joan or at any specific point in the story… it had just sort of come to me, throughout the course of the talk.

I think I mentioned early in this whole story that I had wondered about my biological family as I was growing up. I think it's only natural, knowing that you're adopted, to wonder. I would wonder about the cashier at the grocery store or the lady crossing the street in front of us or even (and in some ways, especially) people we would see when we were traveling—on a bus in Seattle, in a restaurant in Colorado, at a hotel in New York. It's not that I was obsessive about it, it's just one of those daydreams that flitters through your mind when you're not thinking about anything else. "Could this be…?"

And throughout my life, I would wonder about certain people we knew, especially single women with no kids. They just seemed to fit the mold of possibilities, and Jan was one of them.

Jan had always been a "family friend" as far as I was concerned, and although she was younger than my parents and didn't really live close by, I never really questioned her connection with my parents. I knew that she had gone to the same Bible college that they had at one time attended, and it never really occurred to me that they wouldn't have all been there at the same time.

But now, things were clicking. I was making connections in my head—phone calls on my birthday, Jan coming to a piano recital… my graduation… things like that. They hadn't stood out to me as odd before, but now they made sense in a whole new way.

And then they explained how it had all come about. Now at this juncture I need to explain that there is a chance I am going to get some of the details wrong on this next little bit… I am purposefully not going back to my parents to ask them to confirm every little thing I am about to tell you, because I want it to be my story, the way that I remember it—or at least, the way I remember hearing it that day.

I believe I was about a year old before my parents made contact with Jan. They called my aunt who had helped put them together in the first place, and explained that they wanted to meet her. They went out to visit, and I think that they met at church the first time. In fact, I don't think Jan ever saw me that day—I was in the nursery, and I don't think she felt ready to go back and see the baby that she had given up.

Shortly after that, my parents extended an invitation for her to come to their home. I don't know who all was over that day, but I know my mom said that Jan held me and went outside, and she carried me as she walked all the way around the outside of their house. I can't even imagine all of the thoughts and emotions that must have been inside of her that day as she held the child she never thought she'd see again.

And that's how it started. Over the years, Jan really did become a family friend. She had a lot going on in her own life—although that's her story to tell, not mine—and I think my parents felt like they had adopted both of us at times! She moved a lot, most of the time within Ohio, but at one point I remember her living in California, but we would usually see her at least a couple of times per year.

I liked Jan (I still do, of course J), and it was neat to hear the story and see it all come together… but it was still a lot of information. A lot of emotion. A lot of confusion. My parents gave me some papers that they had been saving for me—the card from my hospital bed, letters from the attorney, my adoption certificate, medical information on my biological parents, and a letter that Jan had written to my mom the day after I was born. It was so great… and yet so much.

My head was spinning, and my body was literally shaking. I just couldn't take it all in.

And then, it was time for me to go to work.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Upate and random thoughts

Happy Friday! I hope you are all doing well. We are getting ready to have several friends over tonight--a group of us gets together every Friday, and tonight is our turn to host. I'm really looking forward to grilling out, letting the kids go fishing, and maybe even taking them out in the little row boat. :-)

Life is still crazy here. In addition to the conference planning, I am now starting to plan the MOPS year, and I am getting ready to start a new moms' ministry at my church... and I'm meeting with some women at my church to talk about starting a mentoring ministry as well. Oh, and I have approximately 5, 124 projects that I need to do here a home too. :-) Well, maybe not that many exactly, but I don't think it's far off. Yesterday I sat down to make a to-do list, and four of the tasks on the list were to make to-do lists for other things!

Oh, and my husband and I are considering taking on a new business venture--mainly one for me, but he's very supportive of it. The timing could be very good financially, but I'm afraid I might not be able to keep all of my plates spinning if I do that. Prayers for wisdom and direction on that are much appreciated!

Oh! Before I forget! I found this post about kids' beds a few days ago, and I've been dying to share it with you ever since. Aren't these beds awesome??? This is my favorite.

I don't know if I've shared about the Weight-Loss Challenge on here, but it's a little invention of my hubby's that has been really cool for us all. Today is my 13th day in a row of working out! Well, it will be, as soon as I make it to the gym. We're actually ready to walk out the door right now, but I just realized that the child care doesn't open for another hour, so now I'm stalling. :-)

For weeks now I've been wanting to start a "Wordless Wednesday" post with a pic or two, but I keep forgetting until Thursday. :-) So rather than stall any longer, I thought I'd go ahead and share this pic of Matt. We went to an Italian American Festival last weekend, and a live band was playing. Both kids had a BLAST dancing, but this pic of Matt is especially funny.

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture and just felt the presence of God wash over you? For the past few days I have been reading and rereading Romans 12:9-21 (and especially 9-16). I'm not sure why they are impacting me so much at this particular point, but every single time I read it I feel a wave of peace and release. Every time I sit down near my Bible, I just have to pick it up and read that passage again.

And the main reason I'm writing... I just wanted to share this post with you today. I had a few "bad mommy" moments yesterday, and Stephanie's words really spoke to me.

Have a great weekend! God bless...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mommy Time

This morning my kids and I were outside playing... I was enjoying the chance to just be at home for a little while--this is literally the second day in the last month that we have been home all day with no plans--and had gotten caught up on a few things, and I wanted to just take them outside and relax a little.

I was reveling in the fact that they are now getting old enough that I can relax a little while they play. They are starting to outgrow the need for constant monitoring when we play outside, which is so nice. (Well, Grace has been out of that stage for a while, but Matt is so into everything, I thought he'd forever need a keen eye on him!) So I took a book outside with me--yes, a book, and it had nothing to do with parenting or child development or anything like that!--and sat on the ground to read while they romped.

A few minutes later Grace came up to me. "Do you want to play rocks with me?"

"I will in just a few minutes," I replied.

"Why are you not gonna do it now?" she asked (because she must have a question for everything).

"Because I'm having Mommy Time right now."

"Oh." (Pause.) "Can I have Mommy Time too?"

Oh no, I thought. My precious little girl. How selfish of me to just be sitting here uninvolved, not playing with my dear children, who will be leaving me for school before I even know it! "Of course you can have some Mommy Time, Honey!" I put my book down and grabbed Gracie to give her a big hug.

"Thanks." (Another pause.) "What's Mommy Time?"

At this point I started to laugh at myself just a little, but was still feeling the sting of the lesson that surely was sent to me directly from God Himself. "Well, for you it would be special time that you and Mommy get to play."

"Oh. No thanks. I just want to play by myself."

Ahhhhhh....... the joys of that self-made Mommy Guilt!

At least I was able to find where I left off in my book................

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, part 7

Geez, I can't believe we're at part 7 already—I didn't even know there were 7 parts to this story! J Actually, that's not true. There's still a lot to come…!

Yes, once my parents had officially adopted me and had been given the she's-fully-your-responsibility-no-matter-what speech, I came down with pneumonia. I was hospitalized and put in a tent where they used cold mist on me. My mom said it was torture to watch, because as a parent you always want to keep your baby dry and warm—this completely went against her instincts! But they survived, and so did I. J

And we also all survived that summer, when I was at a picnic with my family and poured a thermos of hot coffee on myself, prompting another trip to the hospital. Apparently my current state of clumsiness is nothing new.

As for my adoption, I'm a little fuzzy on the timeline of what happened next. But basically… well, first let me give you some background.

My mom (my mom, not my biological mother) was the youngest of six children, and her family lived on a farm in a small Ohio town. Unfortunately, her mother died of complications from childbirth just a few days after my mom was born. Her father suddenly found himself dealing with the loss of a spouse, raising his older five children, raising a newborn, and still trying to maintain the farm to provide for his family. He soon realized that he couldn't do it all, and he asked his sister and her husband to take care of the baby for a few months. A few months turned into years, and my mom never returned to her biological father and siblings. She was raised close to them geographically and knew them, but the people that she called her parents and siblings were biologically her aunt, uncle, and cousins.

Are you confused? J

I believe that her own situation is at least part of the reason my mom had wanted to adopt a child in the first place. And now that she had me, she thought again about her life growing up, and the fact that she had never known her biological mother. She wanted me to have that opportunity.

She called my aunt, the one who had connected my parents with my birth mom in the first place, and asked if my birth mom might be interested in being a part of my life. Up to this point, they had never met—the court hearings, the attorney meetings, even my parents' arrival at the hospital, had all been timed so that my parents and my birth mom didn't ever see each other. But now they were reaching out, willing to meet.

But would she want to meet them? Would she be able to handle seeing this child that she had given up? Could she be a part of her life knowing that she couldn't be the mother she wanted for her child?

Friday, July 11, 2008

The not-so-mighty Samson

No, this is not a story of a fallen Biblical warrior. This story is about my cat, Samson.

Let me tell you, as a mom I will do anything for my children. I don't enjoy when they are sick, but I don't mind it, either. You just do what you have to do, and you love them through it, and you think about the grossness of it all later. Right?

Being a pet owner is different.

This morning my kids and I were on the go. We went to the gym for a quick workout (I am so thankful for a gym with childcare!), then to a friend's house for a play date and lunch. We came back home just in time for me to get them down for naps because we're going to another friend's house tonight. I had just gotten them settled and started to make a mental to-do list for nap time.

And then, I heard a noise. "Was that one of the kids?" I asked myself. I listened. There it was again. "Wait a minute... I think that's a cat." At first I thought it was coming through one of the monitors--that the cat had been sleeping under a bed, and wanted out now that I had closed the door. But no... no, this was coming from the basement. I looked down the stairs (to our FINISHED, CARPETED basement, I should add) and saw two huge piles of cat puke.


I grabbed the paper towels and Resolve (meaning both the cleaner and my own determination, by the way :-) ) and went down to clean it up. But when I got to the bottom of the stairs, I heard the crying again, from another spot in the basement. I looked... and there he was, under the pool table... along with evidence that he was still sick--and lets just say that it was not limited to puking.

Seriously, Lord?

I opened the window (We have a partial daylight basement, so the window is at ground level.), picked him up and put him outside. (He and Delilah--yes, Samson and Delilah--are indoor/outdoor cats.) And that's when I realized... he was laying in diarrhea. It was matted on his fur. I put him down as gently and quickly as possible.

And then I got to work. If you need to feel better about yourself today, just picture me--not just cleaning up after a sick cat, but doing it while crawling under the pool table. As unhappy as I was, I took comfort in knowing I could share my misery with all of you! lol :-) And so, armed with paper towels and a shop-vac--YES, a shop-vac--I did my duty quickly so that I could come and share my day with you.

For those of you who are worrying that I have left a sick cat laying outside while I blog, my dear, sweet husband came home from work to take Samson to the vet. And since he is taking off from a very stressful week to tend to my cat, I should probably be spending my time doing something useful for my family instead of indulging my blogging addiction. :-)

But before I go, I need to get some advice on future pets... Has anyone ever heard of a puking fish?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Well, folks, it's time for a little honesty. It's not pretty, but it's where I am today.

On Sunday night, I had an amazing time with the Lord. My husband and I had gone to a friend's house, where my husband made use of the indoor pool. I opted out of swimming, going for a jog in the neighborhood instead. I finished before my swimmer, so I found a quiet spot by a pond in our friend's yard and laid down to rest. It was around 9 PM and still surprisingly light outside. As I lay there, staring at the single star in the sky, I was overtaken by the vastness of the sky, the universe beyond me. I turned off my iPod and started to pray—and strangely, as small as I felt right there and then, I also felt a connection with God unlike I have ever really experienced.

After that night, I decided to do a two-day fast. There are some struggles that we are having, and I felt that God was really asking me to let go and lay them at His feet. To be fair, I will keep the specifics private—but to ease your fears if you know us, it's nothing between us. J

I have done many fasts before, but I have to say that this was probably the most significant and… purest fast I have completed. By that I mean that my motives were pure (no hidden weight-loss agenda J) and that I was able to keep focused on why I was fasting. (Often I get to the end of my fast and think, "Wow, I'm glad that's over. Oh, I guess I forgot to really be praying about the things I was fasting for…") I was able to appreciate what a beautiful metaphor fasting is in giving your struggles over to God, trusting Him to supply my needs instead of relying on my own human senses.

And I prayed and prayed and prayed. Several topics kept coming up in my prayers. And I thought about the fast and the metaphor, and I was thankful for the way God was teaching me.

At the end of the two days, I took a deep breath, thanked God, and took a bit of food. J I did not get, nor did I expect, a miraculous solution to my prayers, but I felt comforted.

But that was yesterday. Today I am feeling discouraged and forgotten. I did not, as I said, expect the areas I was praying for to suddenly be fixed, but I think that there's a part of me that thought, "I've been earnestly fasting and praying about this for two days—it's going to start to get better." But it hasn't—and in many ways, it's gotten worse.

I stopped in my husband's office this morning, and I told him I was feeling discouraged. I suppose it doesn't help matters that I'm just generally having a lousy day—my kids are tired and grouchy, they are with a sitter today but Matt sobbed when I left, I'm not having a lot of luck with the errands I need to run, that kind of stuff. Anyway, I told him how frustrated I was, and he pointed me to a business deal that he was just able to close this week, which is a real blessing to us. It's not completely closed yet, but it has all come together so easily and seemed so perfect. Yes, I agreed, God has really worked that out, and I'm thankful for that. And then, while we were talking about it, some people we have never met before walked into his office and said, "We live next door to that house you're selling, and we have a problem." You've GOT to be kidding, Lord.

So here I sit in Panera, feeling very… heavy… spiritually, of course. And also, thankful for the free wireless Internet access. And while I would like to feel sorry for myself, God is reminding me that this pain I am feeling… it's hunger pangs. It's my earthly body searching for an earthly solution. But the answer isn't there. The answer isn't earthly, it is heavenly. My heavenly Father is the only one who can truly fill my needs. And while that doesn't necessarily make the hunger pangs disappear right away, it provides comfort to know that He will provide. Maybe not exactly what I think He should or when I think He should… but exactly what I need, when I need it.

As I was pondering all of this in the car earlier today, this song came on. It has always been one of my favorites, and the lyrics really struck my heart this morning. If you are hurting or feeling like you need some peace, I hope they will speak to you as well. Oh, and even if it sounds like I'm working my way out of my discouragement, if you could spare a prayer for me, I definitely wouldn't argue. J Thanks for indulging me.

Hold Me Jesus

Well, sometimes my life
Just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something
I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees

And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Monday, July 7, 2008

Katy’s Family Forest, Part 6

I am definitely not an expert on domestic adoptions, so I don't really know what the typical one looks like or how or where that first meeting usually takes place. But I know that mine was special.

My parents met me at the hospital, the day after I was born. It was especially memorable for my dad, who hadn't gotten to hold his sons until they were out of the hospital—back in the days when dads were kept at arm's length during the hospital stay. This time, though, not only did he get to hold his newborn baby, but he got to feed her too. In fact, they wouldn't release me until I took a bottle for my parents, so my dad sat down, held me, and said, "I'm your daddy. And you need to drink this bottle." And I did. J See, I've always been a Daddy's Girl.

As I mentioned before, my parents had kept this whole adoption a secret, so they had some explaining to do when they got home. My brothers, now 8 and 10, suddenly had a new baby sister to figure out… but even they were easier to convince than our church family. No, they weren't opposed to the idea of my parents adopting a child—they just didn't believe it! About a week after they came home with me, they attended a church picnic. Everyone kept asking, "Who's baby is that?" "She's ours!" my parents would proudly respond. And then they'd hear, "……Nooooo… Who's is she really?" No one could believe that they had kept such a secret or that my parents' hopes of adoption had finally come true. But there I was!

Those of you who are familiar with domestic adoptions know that they aren't finalized overnight. Although my parents had taken me home rather quickly, it was several months before everything was official. In fact, the final adoption hearing wasn't held until February of 1980.

It's important here to remember that we're talking about an adoption that happened almost (yikes!) 30 years ago. So before you read this and then e-mail me and say, "That's not right! We did this or know someone who did that or…" whatever, please remember that this was a long time ago. Some things have changed. Are we all on the same page? OK, then keep reading.

On the day of the final hearing, the judge took my parents into his office individually to ask them some questions. Both of them were a little nervous when he started asking about money. "Have you helped the biological mother with her expenses?" he asked. "Medical expenses? Helped her with her rent? Food? Clothing?" They explained that they had wanted to—had offered to—but that she had gotten a job with benefits, so she hadn't needed any help. Apparently a law had been passed during that time that said pregnancy could not be classified as a "pre-existing condition," so she was able to get everything covered. (As an aside, a friend of hers had also basically blackmailed my biological father into helping her financially through her pregnancy, so that helped to cover her non-medical costs.)

The judge continued to press them. "You didn't help the mother of your child at all?" At this point, I think they were getting a little nervous. Was he going to take away their baby because he thought they didn't care enough? Should they have insisted on helping with something—some costs along the way? But then the judge softened. "Good. You see, if you had given her even one cent, this would have been considered a black market adoption, and we would have had to take the baby away." Praise the Lord for working out those details—can you imagine if they had helped her financially, out of the goodness of their hearts, only to have it bite them by having their child taken by the courts?

The rest of the hearing went off without a hitch. And at the end, the judge admonished them that I was now fully theirs. "You are now responsible for her every need," he explained. "If she needs food, you provide it. If she needs clothing, you provide it. If she gets sick as you leave this courthouse, it is your responsibility—she is fully your daughter." They accepted this responsibility and left, now officially a family of five.

And the next week, I came down with pneumonia.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

What’s Your Motivation?

I'm here today, ladies, to talk about change. Changing habits. We all have those little idiosyncrasies, those bad habits that we really struggle with. The tiny little thorns that we just can't seem to remove from our daily lives.

For me, it's receipts. Credit card receipts—or actually, the lack thereof. I am terrible about remembering to keep my receipts. To fully understand why this is on my mind enough to merit a blog entry, you have to know my husband. He is the Organization King—and yes, he really does deserve a capitalized title! J If his current business were ever to fail, he could make a killing as an organization consultant. And of course, since organization and efficiency are so important to him, it only makes sens that he married me, because I am… a tornado. Seriously. I have no organizational skills whatsoever. I am my own personal disaster area.

Usually this works out well, as we complement each other. He is fantastic about helping me whenever I need it or ask for it; and I like to think that I helped to prepare him for what life with small children would be like. J

But it does not work well when it comes to receipts. Jon is absolutely militant about making sure that we have every single credit card receipt, and that they are all labeled appropriately for our budgeting system. I just reread that sentence, and I have to admit that I smirked a bit. But honestly, my point is not to poke fun at him, it's just to let you know that it is important to him. And this is nothing new—he has felt this way for the entire time I have known him.

And yet, after 7 ½ years of marriage, I still struggle to give him my receipts. And it frustrates him—and it frustrates me because it frustrates him! It's not that I don't care about his feelings or our budget or anything… I don't know what it is! I just can't get it together when it comes to that area.

So, ummm… I'm talking about receipts a lot more than I really intended to here. My point is, we all have some area in our lives where we just struggle to get it together, to make a change and really commit to it. These are not your typical I-didn't-like-this-so-I-changed-it habits. These are the this-has-been-my-New-Year's-resolution-for-six-years-running habits. The things that just keep coming back. For me it's receipts—I've tried sitting down at the end of every day to get them together, I've tried putting them in a specific place each time so that they're easy to find (because even when he sits down to go over the bill and asks me for them, I consistently come up short by several receipts…), I've tried many things. And they all work for a while. But then the novelty wears off.

For some people, it may be an issue of diet. Or exercise. Or being on time. Or many, many other things. But regardless of the issue, here's my question for you: Have you overcome a habit/issue like this? Or are you overcoming one now? How do you keep yourself motivated in the long run—when the novelty of the newest "fix" wears off and reality sets in?

To me, I think one of the best tools in any change is accountability. When my son was born and I needed to lose weight, I joined Weight Watchers. Just knowing that someone else was going to be weighing me every week really kept me honest—and knowing that I would get little rewards for my milestones along the way helped, too. I am now implementing that with my little receipt habit by asking my husband to help keep me accountable, by the way.

So what do you say? What keeps you going when the going gets tough? I'd love all the help I can get! Believe me, credit card receipts are the only things standing between me and perfection. ;-)

And by the way, the next installment of Katy's Family Forest is coming soon. In fact, that's what I sat down to write this afternoon—but this is what came out instead.

Talk to you all soon.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

For such a time as this

Last Christmas we got a wonderful gift that was a life saver on our recent trip: a DVD player for our car. I love it, mainly because it is not installed in our car, so we can get it out for a big road trip, then store it away so we're not fighting over whether or not the kids get to watch movies when we go to Wal-Mart. J

On our recent trip, we had enough movies to last us even if we just lived in the car for the entire vacation. Seriously. I'm not good at making decisions, and you know how life is with kids: if I had brought 5 movies they would have wanted to watch the 6th one that I decided to leave behind! So I brought just about everything we had (which, to be fair, is not much—we don't watch a lot of TV), and some from the library, and a few from my parents' house. Yes, I know. Out of control.

The other inevitability with small children is that they will pick a favorite movie and not want to watch anything else. Ever. Right now, that is my children with Cedarmont Kids. Honestly, it really doesn't bother me, because they are great DVDs of kids singing wholesome songs. I'll admit, the DVD was probably made in the early 90s and was not exactly a major-studio production. But all in all, I'd rather have my kids watching that than, say, SpongeBob SquarePants (which they are not allowed to watch, by the way).

BUT on the way home, after listening to "I'm in-right, out-right, up-right, down-right happy all the time…" for about the 10,000th time in 6 hours, not to mention the several days before that, I needed a change. So I announced that it was Mommy's turn to pick a movie! Nevermind that Jon and I couldn't actually see whatever they were watching—the monitors were strapped to our headrests, so we could definitely hear every last bit!

I reached behind the seat and pulled out the stack of DVDs, or at least as much as I could grab in one hand. J I selected a VeggieTales movie and popped it in. It was the story of Esther, one that (to my knowledge) the kids had not seen before. The kids think those movies are great, and Jon and I were chuckling too, as the Jews in this story were not to be destroyed, but banished to the Island of Perpetual Tickling.

And then something unexpected happened. The movie, just for a second, took a more serious turn, and it stuck with me. VeggieTales, of course, usually takes the basic Bible story and then re-writes the script, right? I mean, the Bible is without a doubt the best and most important book ever written, but it is seriously lacking in veggie humor. I don't expect to hear a lot of dialogue taken directly from The Good Book, you know?

But this was. As Mordecai and Esther talk about Haman's plot against their people, Mordecai admonishes Esther that she could have been made queen "for such a time as this." I found myself quoting that phrase along with Pa Grape.

Esther didn't know when she was taken from her home and groomed to be a potential queen that God had a grand plan in store. She didn't seek to become queen because she knew of Haman's hate for the Jews and thought she would stop him from the inside. She didn't know the big picture. But God did.

For such a time as this…

I thought about this phrase again as I was reading about Paul in the book of Acts. He had been arrested on a trip to Jerusalem, then brought before the Sanhedrin, then before the governor, then again two years later (He was still in prison!) before the next governor, none of whom could determine any actual crimes that Paul had committed—yet they kept him a prisoner. Then a king, King Agrippa, comes to the town where Paul is being held, and Festus (the governor) has King Agrippa listen to Paul's story as well. At the end of his testimony, Paul appeals to King Agrippa's knowledge of (and belief in) the Jewish prophets, and the king scoffs that Paul would think he could "convert" him to Christianity in such a short time. And then, "Paul replied, 'Short time or long—I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'" (Acts 26:29)

Paul didn't know when he was imprisoned two (or more) years earlier that King Agrippa was coming to hear him. But he took advantage of the opportunity. Maybe he was imprisoned just for that moment.

It's easy for us, as we read through the stories in the Bible, to see the big pictures in the lives of those in it. We know in our minds that Abraham and Sarah had Isaac late in life, but we don't have to live through the first ninety years with them, when they didn't know that they would ever become parents. We read about Saul's conversion, but don't think about the first many years of his life when he didn't know Christ and had no idea that the Road to Damascus would become so significant for him.

But in our own lives, we can grow impatient. Why am I here? How is God going to use me? When is God going to use me? In fact, this is where I have found myself for the past year or so. You see, back in high school I went to a missionary presentation one Sunday night… If you grew up in a missionary-supporting church, you know what it was like: lots of slides of African natives cooking over open fires, eating creatures that I wouldn't even want to see in real life; talk about life in such a rustic setting (to say the least); and lots of time to think about how that was definitely not the life for me! But at the end, the missionary gave a special address to the youth. When he was finished, he asked that those who felt called into full-time ministry—not necessarily missions, but any full-time service for God—come forward, so that the church could pray for them. I have no idea what he said prior to that or what the prayer was or just about anything else that happened that night. But I knew, without a doubt, that I needed to head up front. God was calling me, nudging me.

That was over 12 years ago, and sometimes it's easy to feel like the time from then until now has been a waste—I'm not, after all, a missionary or a writer or any of the other things I thought I might be now. But God sees the big picture. Maybe I was called then to be used now.

I was reminded by a friend's devotional yesterday that life isn't always about the doors that God opens, but about the hallways in between. The picture is from a fantastic book and that she and I both read (Chasing Daylight, which is definitely on my list of recommended reading). I am finally enjoying the journey—the hallway—without impatiently yanking and banging on every closed door, and serving God where I am, resting in the knowledge that He knows where the hall leads.

And you know what? I'm about to turn a corner. I don't know what I'll find. I don't know if I am sneaking up on Something or if Something is sneaking up on me. J But I feel it. That nudging. That call. It's back, and I am excited. Maybe it'll be tomorrow, and maybe it'll be another twelve years, but God is leading me… Someday maybe I'll be able to say, "God was preparing me for such a time as this."

But in the meantime, I want to enjoy the journey.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. I'll keep you posted. ;-)