Storybook Life

Have you ever looked at someone and thought that they just had a storybook life?

Well, it turns out that I do:

This book was sent to us by a sweet aunt who found it in a used book store.  What a darling gift!

Really, when we have been living life for a little while, we know that no one’s life is what it appears to be.  Certainly, we come to know that there are no storybook lives.  A casual acquaintance might make one assumption about you based on a few impressions.  A good friend knows the ins and outs and struggles of your day to day life.  A longtime friend knows the valleys and peaks of your history.  And, even more, what you were like when you began the journey compared to what you are like now.  Based on the back cover, my life is like this:

Picnics, parties, vacation trips!  This describes our lives perfectly!  (Okay, I admit it, this even sounds like my blog sometimes!) Except, the cat – my husband and daughter are allergic.  And, the dog – we don’t have a yard big enough.  And, no one calls me Mother – just Mom and Mommy.  And, …our children’s names don’t even rhyme.  Wait a minute.  I think they got it all wrong!

No, there are some truths I can glean from this blurb.  The ‘fun-loving’ part.  We do love fun…who doesn’t?  And, the ‘something exciting is always happening at their house’ part.  Although, what is exciting around here doesn’t always seem exciting to the rest of the world.  For instance, last weekend we made a Helen Keller bottlehead doll for a school project!!!!!!  Not exciting?  Whatever!!   Take a look and…

color me excited!!

Yes, for those of you who have never seen this particular species of school project before, a ‘bottlehead’ is not to be confused with a ‘bobblehead’.

It is a water bottle with a stationary foam head attached to the top. It must also be ‘dressed’ in period-appropriate clothing.

Did you know that Helen Keller was a socialist?

Well, now you do.

She was also the first deaf-blind person to graduate from college with a Bachelor of Arts degree and she championed for the rights of the deaf-blind.  You probably knew that.

She also won an academy award. Ha!

See what I mean?  Exciting stuff.

Okay, sorry to have steered away from my original theme.  I couldn’t resist educating you all on the delights of 5th grade biography assignments.  Back to the task at hand…

Here on my blog, on my facebook page, even on the corner in my suburban neighborhood – I can make my life look like whatever I want.  My house could really appear to be ‘the wonderful house’.  Truth is, we know pain.  We know loss.  We know anger and hurt.  We know impatience.  I bet so do the ‘Fill in any last name’s’. The real story is in how we let these difficulties play out in our lives.  Do we allow God to use them for good?  Do we hear God’s Word and then allow it to change us? Or, do we harbor and hoard our troubles, clinging to them in secret like a life raft, but afraid to expose them to the world because they might distort our cover illustration?  If we are too attached to or too ashamed of our problems to share them, we are stuck and not going anywhere.

I think I am pretty transparent.  But, probably not enough.  What I perceive as openness is probably not what you perceive as me being open.  I do want to share that we are far from the wonderful Tuckers all the time.  In real life, Mommy Tucker struggles with pride and independence, with talking too much, with patience and self-control, with loving people more than myself.  The little Tuckers talk back sometimes.  Sometimes a lot of times. And, the attitudes they can have – I could go on and on. God can change me and use me anyway, though, and it is my hope and prayer that He does.  He can do the same for all of us. He is that good.  If we trust Him with our troubles as well as our joys, he will write a story better than any fiction.  A true story.  The best part: a life surrendered to Him always ends happily ever after.

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Prayer List Perspective

There is nothing like a good dose of perspective.  Especially here in middle class America.  I have a tendency to make thunderstorms out of spring showers.  But, I am always humbled when I take a look at my prayer list that includes my friend who is going through radiation over the next five weeks to treat a tumor on her brain stem.  Or another friend who lost her job last week.  Or a woman grieving the death of her 17 year old son.

Or my friend Mary Jane who lives in Uganda, a country in which the people face challenges like getting attacked by crocodiles while fetching water and dangerous political unrest and oppression.  There are lots of bugs in Uganda, but no Super Targets.  She shares her heart and her daily reality in a very poignant and honest way at Dennisons in Uganda.  It is amazing stuff.

Last week I heard a story on the radio about a North Korean girl who finally found someone in the ‘black market’ who could give her a Bible.  She had been searching for a Bible for eleven years.  She also faces a severe prison sentence if she is caught in possession of that precious book.  How often do I have to wait even eleven months for something I want or need much less risk imprisonment for it?

Not to say my troubles are completely insignificant or can’t end up being used for a good purpose.  But, it sure does my soul some good to get perspective.  It leads me to begin my prayers with so much genuine thanksgiving for the blessings and gifts that God has showered on me.  I know that real storms will come, as they do for us all.  They are powerful tools God uses to test our faith and develop our perseverance.   In the mostly sunny meantime, though, I have to choose not to let the occasional drizzle bring me down.

Foundations II

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

I typed that from memory!  This past week as I focused on this verse, I found that the more I thought about it the more easily applied it was.  And, the more I thought about it, the less intentional I had to be in thinking about it.  By the end of the week I was thinking about it before I even got out of bed in the morning.  Joshus 1:8 says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  I have always thought to myself, ‘I have millions of things on my mind at once, how can it be I can meditate on the word full-time while also remembering piano lessons, scheduling girl scout events, what I’m going to make for dinner, how I need to prepare for our upcoming visit with family, making time to clean the house, my grocery list, who I am carpooling with this week, whose Birthday cards need to be mailed, how I can be creative in motivating my pre-adolescent to stay current with her math and writing, blah blah blah….’  ( a thrilling glimpse into my deep thoughts)  What I found is that after I intentionally meditated and applied the word for a few days, it became like a background thought for me in everything I did, and so it was applied to everything I did.

Did I mess up?  Don’t be shocked…yes…there was one morning in particular this week I woke up to the lovely sound of sibling arguments at 6:45 am.  Who has the energy to fight at that time of day???  I mean, Mama had not even had her coffee…so, I was pretty harsh with the kiddos.  Did it stir up anger?  Not quite, but the harsh words stirred up some pretty deflated looking faces because their little hearts are still sweet and soft.  The sadness on their faces after I reacted in an angry tone is something that will easily translate into hardened hearts and anger later on in their lives if that is my consistent reaction.  Even though there were a couple relapses into letting anger rule my reaction, I was greatly encouraged to see the results of gentle answers in behavior and response, especially in a few discipline conversations I had with my oldest in dealing with her attitude and responsibilities over the summer.  I also had a lot less mommy-guilt at the end of the day.  So, overall it was a great success.  That is how powerful the word of God is.  Even though we aren’t perfect in the implementation, God will still show us big results if we put forth the effort.  And, we will be prosperous and successful in God’s eyes.  Maybe not the worldly results we want sometimes, but it is the kind of success that lasts forever.

This next week I am putting up a double verse challenge.  My personal verse is an encouragement verse.  Next week is Vacation Bible School, and that can just be an exhausting week.  It is such an awesome opportunity, though, to speak the word of God into young hearts and work alongside some wonderful laborers.  Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The second verse is the actual theme verse of VBS, Romans 10:17, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

This will be a lot more challenging, but I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of it!

Don’t Stop Believin’

Tonight we attended our elementary school choir’s spring performance which was entitled Don’t Stop Believin’.  Yep, the Journey song.

You gotta love how the circle of life involves the band Journey in your youth and then in your children’s youth, right…I know, right???

So, the concert was wonderful, and the events leading up to it,     a blur.  Richard had to swing by the ballet parking lot and pick up Caroline while William and I sat and watched the rain while Martha Claire finished up her second to last dance class before the big recital.  After we had Caroline’s piano lesson.  After I spent TWO hours at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts looking for charms to put on Junior Girl Scout bracelets this weekend at our end of the year overnight.  TWO hours with a three year old in JoAnn Fabrics…

I don’t know about you, but my experience is that small children do not LOVE fabric and craft stores…

If you have solved this problem, could you share your secret with me?

So, the end of another crazy May day was spent listening to a blast from the past…and gettin’ a little spiritual boost from it…

Eat your heart out, Steve Perry

I know I already posted about the craze of May days…and how we should be motivated in the middle of the craze…but, we should also keep believin’!

Romans 4:1 says “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations”  You know, father Abraham…a hundred years old and “good as dead” when he became the daddy to his promised son, Isaac.  “Good as dead” are not my words, either.  Check out Romans 4, it’s a good chapter.

I had babies in my twenties.  Then, I had babies in my thirties.  The difference was big.  Huge.  It felt like 25 years instead of 10.  The aches, the fatigue…that’s just the 30’s, I cannot imagine chasing a quick, chubby, little fellow in my 60’s…much less my 100’s.  But, that was God’s perfect time for Abraham.  Now, for this moment’s purposes I am not necessarily focused on God’s timing, because the days are flying by at wharp speed.  God’s timin’ is a’comin’!  (Obviously I am feelin’ the need for some apostrophes, please forgive!)  There are other times when it seems like God’s timing is never coming, but that is not today!  And, sometime I would also like to expound a lot more on hope.  ‘Cause it is a good thang.  (there’s that apostrophe again!)  At this moment, though, I want to focus on believing, and just throw in a dusting of hope.  

Can you imagine believing in the hope of God’s promise until you have arthritis in your earlobes?  Abraham did.  It was credited to him as righteousness.  In my hustle and bustle, can I muster up enough belief to know…this is all        so         passing. 

Believe, believe, believe.  “Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;  they are regarded as dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15)  If our big and mighty nations are a drop in the bucket physically, then let’s take the comparison timewise, too.  Think of how small these few weeks of the year are when I look back on my children’s lives at their high school graduations?  As a percentage of their lifetimes?  Of the lifespan from my great grandparents’ birth to my children’s?  Of the lifetime of the United States of America?  Of the two millenia since the death and resurrection of Jesus?  (oh yes, I got my calculator out, that one is 0.0029%)  If that is how small three weeks look based on our A.D. calendar, how small are they compared to, say, eternity?  Yet, even in this tiny drop of time, God has plans for us.  Plans to use us.  Good plans, indeed. 

Believe it, He is the ultimate architect.  Believe it, He loves you.  Believe it, He loves the world.  He is not wasteful, he is the pioneer of efficiency.  He can use every moment.  Whether it is in the day to day chaos of children and activities and learning and serving, whether it is an illness that is temporary or chronic, whether it is a hurtful, longterm marriage, …find hope in the fact that these days are fleeting, but believe in what God can do and use you for in this short time to affect ALL of time to come.

I’ve got to end with scripture.  It always does my soul good to let the last word be God’s word…

“But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14)

The Craze of May Days

I believe the month of May gives new definition to Spring Fever.  Instead of being impatient for Winter’s End, we are in a fever for summer to get here and the insanity of May to be over!  The amount of things we do during the year doesn’t seem overwhelming until it culminates in the end of year wrap-up we experience in May.  In the middle of all the May Craze, Mother’s Day.  The reasons for my mommyhood are also the reasons for the piano recitals,

science fairs, birthday parties, choir musicals and concerts,

(Riverside Baptist Kidz Choir musical – ‘That’s So Daniel’

Caroline as the Royal Contractor with King Nebuchadnezzar and the assistant Royal Contractor)

Girl Scout overnights, aquarium trips, and so on and on and on!  Even though it is chaotic, (and miraculous that we haven’t misplaced a child at one of our destinations or locations these last couple of weeks!) I count myself so blessed.  God could have stopped at the biggest gift of all, that of new life through His son.  But, He didn’t.  He also gave us sunsets, oceans, mountains.  He gave us glimpses into a child’s heart.  He gave us sunny days, flowers, legs to play chase. 

He gave us voices to express love and praise.  He gave us colors and soft breezes.  He gave us hearts for each other.  He gave us families.   What a loving heavenly Father we have.  Perhaps that’s why we are willing to sacrifice and chauffeur and give more to our children than we think is possible.  Perhaps it’s a tiny reflection of the heart of the only perfect parent we could ever know.  “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  (1 John 3:1)  I often get so frazzled with all the ‘busy’ness that I am not slowing down to show those around me a minute of care.  It is important to not lose sight of why we do what we do.  Lavish love.  (Don’t you love the word lavishing? I just want to say it out loud…lavishing, lavishing, lavishing…)  A girl can do with some lavishin’.  Okay, boys can, too.  We can all use some lavishing, can’t we?

That’s How We Roll

This week in Awana Sparks, the kids are getting a movie night.  Not just any movie night, a drive-in movie night.  90 minutes of viewing pleasure in a cardboard creation (aka homework for parents!) that should resemble the vehicle of their dreams.  Martha Claire requested a castle car, but then downgraded to a carriage like Cinderella.  She is the middle child, and often just gets tossed around based on the demands of big sister and baby brother (who is not so baby anymore). 

So, Mom and Dad decided to compensate for their occasional neglect of this sassy little one by creating a carriage fit for the princess.  We are not perfect parents, but every once in a while we have a shining moment.  Sometimes there is only time for frozen pizza, sometimes we have to skip bathtime because we get home late, sometimes we are impatient, but sometimes we find ourselves spending a few seven hours working on the cardboard box car that she will sit in for a little over one hour.  Feelin’ like a princess every minute.  That’s how we roll…

Cereal for Dinner

An old friend of mine is wanting to keep in shape and stay healthy, and she has developed an accountability system consisting of several people in which we e-mail each day’s food and exercise to each other.  It is mostly to keep us honest about those 9:30 p.m. brownies and so that we can encourage one another in the efforts we are able to make towards exercise and taking care of ourselves.  This was my log from yesterday:

Morning:  Breakfast smoothie and Coffee                                                                                         Lunch:  Bagel with butter spread, Tangerine, Water                                           Snack:  leftover cookie cake                                                                                                          Dinner: Bowl of Rice Chex, 4 mini Quiches  (Girl Scout meeting night)

All I eat is breakfast food.  What is up with that?  Yes, cookie cake is totally a breakfast food.

The quiches weren’t even mine, they were brought to our meeting by another mom.  They were just the perfect ending to a day destined to be the day of breakfast food. 

I am not endorsing a diet that will end in diabetes and malnutrition.  Sometimes, a girl doesn’t have time to cook a steak.  The occasional breakfast bonanza won’t kill me.  Cereal is fortified with vitamins and minerals, after all.  I am the type of person who has to eat something, though, or I turn into a mega-mommy-monster.  There are some things we can do without, there are some things we cannot do without.  As busy and distracted as I can be, I have found that I need some good time in God’s word and in His presence. 

 Everyday. 

Not just squeezed into a busy schedule, it needs to be a priority.  “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Jesus speaking in Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3.  He was battling the temptation of hunger while fasting in the desert.  Can I just say that I am glad he said “bread alone”, recognizing that bread is a good thing.  There will be no carb-free diet for this girl!  As a matter of fact, we know food is a crucial thing, we need it to live.  We also need every word from the mouth of God to live.  We cannot get these words from Oprah.  They are given to us in Scripture.  If you need a good word, open His Word.  It is alive and active and sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12).  It will feed you.  Even on cereal days.  Dig in!