Monday, September 5, 2011

Orange Poppies

Orange Poppies

It's been a long time since I have written. Life just keeps happening and I am continually amazed at how much time can go by with lots of intents and never any follow through.

Been thinking of that young woman I originally dedicated this blog first born daughter, Sophie... and now my youngest girl is also married and so really do need to stay faithful to writing....because as time marches on....distance and busy lives can often keep us from really having heart to heart talks and I know being a young woman and a wife and a mother can be so overwhelming at times.

Orange Poppies is what comes to mind when I think of the first church we pioneered in Keizer Oregon back in 1991. Over 20 years ago and I still love orange poppies and am continually reminded of our first real convert, a beautiful Native American woman, Dawn Washington and her five children. Dawn had a wonderful spirit and teachable heart.

That little pioneer work, was a hard two years for us... that started with all four of our children and John catching the chicken pox. We had our share of hardships, self inflicted trials and demonic attacks, that included John falling asleep while driving home from work and almost being killed on Interstate 5 where he commuted everyday at 4am to Vancouver, Washington. After that accident he was laid off from work and we had to live off unemployment while he looked for a new job... all while we were struggling to build a congregation. It was the victory sapping humiliation of applying for food stamps, while ministering to new converts bound in poverty.

Everything that could go wrong, went wrong and yet It was also the year of orange poppies. I love those California poppies... the ones you see growing in empty lots and roadsides and near abandoned buildings. I remember them from my childhood when we lived in Northern California and I have always delighted in seeing them as they flourish with sunshiny bright citrus colors in the midst of rubbish and desolate, barren... hard as rock, gravel and dirt.

Dawn was an orange poppy. Her life was transformed in that short time we knew her and she thrived when we often felt like we had nothing to give her and she flourished despite our shortcomings and struggles and failures.... And because she loved Jesus ... she loved us.

God blessed us with a 1950's ranch home that was in need of work...a definite fixer upper with a huge fenced back yard and a landlord that charged a reasonable rent and even let us pay late. Their was much to be desired in that home, more problems then we knew how to keep up with, but we were surrounded by older couples whose children had grown and moved on with their lives....and they delighted in our children and they continually blessed us and kept an eye out for our babies.

Good days, bad days and lots of endless in-between days. I was often lonely and overwhelmed with raising four children under 8 years old. On top of everything else, my sister for a variety of reasons including an unsaved husband that hated the Potter's House churches.... finally decided to leave our mother church in Newberg and attend another church. This along with most of my family thousands of miles away and very few friends...was compounded by a miscarriage at three months pregnant and an emergency trip to the hospital because I was hemorrhaging.

Needless to say between exhaustion and loneliness, I was depressed. During that time, I often packed my three little girls in a bassinet stroller and with David marching along side me, through rain and sleet and snow...we walked everywhere and explored neighborhoods, and parks and libraries and vacant desolate fields where nothing grew but orange poppies. I read books, collected brightly colored plates and vases and kitschy fifties style ceramic birds and fishes from second hand shops. I wrote poems and sang my heart out and prayed at the top of my lungs and I let God heal me and deliver me of my past and childhood wounds and let Him transform my life.

The summer of our second year in Keizer, was a real disappointment and often our services included just us, our babies and our one crop of orange poppies... Dawn and her little troop of five children. I often took Dawn shopping as she didn't have a car and at times, John and I bought her groceries when we knew she was struggling as a single mom to make ends meet. Dawn and I had a number of conversations over those two years about God's kingdom as well as everyday things, like babies and art and homemaking.

One late sunny summer afternoon, I was sitting in that backyard and thinking about all we had struggled through. All I could see was that empty football field of a backyard and how little we had accomplished. Our church was struggling to grow, our medical debt was climbing and I was being harassed by a bill collector... my siblings back on the island were feuding about long forgotten childhood memories and violations....and I was tired, unsure of why we were giving our lives to a people we didn't know and in a land that wasn't ours...and I was mad at God but too deceived to admit it. I was struggling to pray, distracted and irritated... and then up drives Dawn Washington in her sister's van....

That late summer afternoon... Dawn dragged out of that van ... 8 or 10 .... maybe more... huge, overflowing, uprooted, roadside plants covered with orange poppies. She plopped those drooping flowers in my backyard and proceeded to dig up the barren dirt beside my fence and planted those sunshiny bright citrus orange poppies right where they my barren, empty, hardened, vacant soul.

She didn't know we were struggling with the idea of returning home....she didn't know we were discouraged or that I was lonely and depressed.... She simply saw an opportunity to express her eternal gratitude for what God had done in her life and for our willingness to come to a barren empty field like Keizer and plant a seed of hope in her heart. Dawn had no idea what her elaborate, gracious act of kindness and gratitude meant to me that day.... but that day... God smote my heart with his tender mercies and I cannot see an orange poppy without being reminded of Gods love and concern and I can not see an orange poppy without thinking of her.

I wrote the following poem during that time of struggle and I dedicate it to my daughter Sophie... I pray your life be filled to overflowing with orange poppies and you always see Gods hand in your life and His smile in your children's eyes. You are greatly loved sweetheart and I am not only terribly proud of you but so honored that God continues to use our lives through our children. Just think of all the barren desolate lives you have touched... You are surrounded by the fruit of your labors ... Not in well manicured lives and polished neighborhoods but in the abandoned roadsides and discarded lives that you and John touch everyday.

Jesus was There

With the touch of a hand, in a sisters smile, in a look and a hug, in the eyes of a child.
He was There and He knows after all these years.
He knows that I cry when no one can hear.
He was there. My Lord was There.

In a brothers laughter, a child's face, in a look and a hug, in a sisters embrace. In the touch of a hand, in a fathers smile, in a word, and a hug in the eyes of a child.

Through the smile of a friend, in mama's hug, in a look in a word in a child's love. He is there and I know I can still feel the pain, and sometimes there's days of mud and rain.
But He is there. He's always there.

In a hug, in a word, in a husbands smile, in a look, in a touch, in the eyes of a child. In a prayer, in the dark, on the night I cried. In a heart, in a life, in this child's eyes. Through the smile of a friend, in mama's hug, in a look, in a word, in my child's love.

He is there. Jesus is always there.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Go To Bed

Exhaustion ... why you need your rest and should not let yourself get to the place of ... no turning back ... insanity. Years ago when my second child (known to many as Sophie ... but to me she was Fia Mia) was first born ... I learned a great lesson about how and why one should learn to say NO.

When I was prego with Fia, I was teaching middle school on Guam. It was hot and humid and the closer it got to my delivery date, the harder it got to remain sane. Nine months pregnant and I was having trouble lasting more then a couple of hours. After about 30 minutes of teaching a classroom full of prepubescent and beyond pubescent ... 7th and 8th grade brats ... I was way done. So in late May, two weeks before school was out ... I took an early maternity leave.

Did I mention, I had a (almost) three year old little boy ... David or boy boy as he was called then ... and that John was working swing shift so we didn’t have to put our son in child care (this means I was a full time teacher and a full time mother, and nannies or mama’s little helper) Did I also mention...we moved back to the island just six months earlier...stayed at my mom’s house ...until we began to wear out our welcome...and then in mid May moved temporarily into a friends house to house sit while they went on vacation...and did I mention I was tired and it was hot and oh by the way...I was clueless about how and why and when to say NO.

So a couple days after taking leave ... I caught the flu which caused premature labor and I gave birth two weeks early to Fia. Well I had planned on giving birth the second week of June and so months earlier, I had agreed to carve a watermelon into a whale and fill it with a variety of fruits ....I think ... or maybe it was I agreed to carve two watermelon whales...and a watermelon basket...regardless...I felt like a watermelon I know that much ... and so proceeded to stuff those babies with fruit for a wedding shower. Noooo problem....less then a week and a half after giving birth...and I am up carving watermelons and problemo ... except I was exhausted.

That night, John went to work and here we are in a strange house and it is sweltering hot and so I put David and Fia to bed with me and we crash until about 2 am. Then I suddenly wake from a very deep sleep to the sound of Fia choking and struggling to breathe...her face was turning deep red and I went into immediate overdrive. I jumped from my bed picked her up and could not for the life of me think of what to do. I immediately called 911 and begged for an ambulance. As I was waiting for them to arrive I started pacing and crying and yelling for God’s divine intervention (with poor little boy boy following me in horror).

I walked outside and promised God I would go to Africa if he would just save my baby girl. As I am flipping out and still waiting for the ambulance, John pulls into the driveway (as he just got off work). He immediately goes into a panic as he sees his crazed wife crying in the front lawn with his children. I jump in the car and tell him to race us to the hospital. We struggle to get the emergency lights on as we drive...(we never did figure it out) and as he drives at break neck speed ... and mind you no seat belts or car seat... I am holding Fia in my arms as she is struggling to breathe and I am hysterically begging him to get us to the hospital before she dies.

We finally arrive at the hospital and I run into the emergency room holding Fia and crying my eyes out...and little Fia Mia is breathing just fine thank you. The guy that helps me with my dying baby ... gives me a once over ... with a, ‘how pathetic’ look on his face and sends me to an observation room to sit and collect my wits and dignity.

Well, as I am sitting in that little room with Fia and boy boy, by my side....I hear my husband talking to a nurse. She is a very attractive fellow Yapese and oh by the way...someone he use to date. I hear him outside the door explaining what happened and then he asks her, if she would like to meet his wife. It is at this time I start examining myself.

I am sitting on a chair without shoes...I have bright blue pants on that are not buttoned or zipped...because I just gave birth and I can’t zip them...fortunately I have a blouse over the pants that covers this disaster...unfortunately it is a white blouse and I have no bra on...fortunately the blouse has ruffles. My hair was tied up when I went to sleep...its all over the map at that moment and mascara is smeared under my eyes. David is standing next to me with no shoes and no clothes except for his I said it was a very hot evening. Fia is in my arms with a towel from the hospital...because she is also naked wearing only a wet diaper. John however, just got off his job at the hotel as a front desk clerk and is formally dressed in slacks and shirt and looks great. Yeah like I really wanted to meet Miss Yap!

Morale of the story....go to bed and get some sleep...or its one long nightmare for you and a traumatized family. Seriously, when we are beyond tired, we are more likely to mishandle things and to hit the hysteria button in record time....and when we are exhausted we are not the only one that pays the price...our family suffers right along with us. The key to staving off exhaustion is learning when to say No. It really is okay to say ... I just can’t do that ... sorry I’m a wimp...please keep looking until you find a superwoman that is more willing and capable.

We hear it preached all the time, there are many good things our church could be doing but we have chosen to focus our limited resources and time on what God has called us to do...evangelize, plant churches and disciple men. Well, there are many things you as a child of God and a woman could do...but you are called to love (and respect) your husband, raise your babies and maintain a sane nurturing home for your family. Everything else is possible ... only when it is not at the price of your family.

Unless of course you have a special calling to carve whales at midnight ... in which case occasional insanity is forgivable... just don’t make it a habit ... and please get some sleep... sanity is a precious thing to lose and I hear a good nights rest will keep you young, skinny, smart, lovely, witty, wise, happy, and did I way cool.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blind But Now I See

This morning, as I walked the Patton Middle School track I closed my eyes to the blazing sun...and which is often my habit...I prayed and talked to God. Unfortunately my habit of walking is worse then my habit of praying and so the Lord does His best to speak to me in whatever way He can.

I am easily distracted...and so I momentarily forgot my prayer and instead focused on walking within the track lane with my eyes closed. Childish I know...but my mind wanders and I am amused and challenged by the simplest of ideas.

Nothing catastrophic happened but it did get me thinking...or perhaps it gave the Lord something to work with. I am so dependent on my sight I could not stay within those lines without wandering into the other tracks. I have been walking for over 50 years and I don’t think about walking, I don’t think about where or how I get my bearings or keep my balance. I just walk with my eyes wide open and it is as much a part of me as breathing...

So what would it be like to lose my sight? If I had gone suddenly blind I would have struggled to make it from the track to the street. I would need help not only from the very beginning but I would need help continually from that day forward. I would not be able to survive without someone’s help or intervention. I would need to use a cane so I could sweep it across the sidewalk as I walk, I would need to learn to listen for directional cues and I would have to memorize how many steps it takes to go from one destination to another. Without someone to take me further, my world would be very small, very difficult and largely confined to my home.

Life can be like that. Their are moments in our lives when we are cruising along and then in what may be a blink of an eye or maybe a slow nightmare tumble to the ground we are blind and it is dark and all reference points have been taken away. I do not believe the Lord creates these moments but He does use them to teach us about who He is and how desperately we need Him to take our hand and lead us.

Think about Paul the a flash of light, a tumble off his horse, a voice from heaven and then blindness. His men had to lead him to where the Lord instructed and then he waited until the Lord sent someone to restore his sight. We know from the Word that Paul was no longer the same but became a believer...His sight was restored both physically and spiritually and I suspect his eyesight though restored was never the same. He may have been healed and restored to perfect sight but he no longer looked at the world and his Savior with the same eyes...he had been transformed.

On the way to our destination, life happens. Its not necessarily good or just happens and we either trust God with those moments of blindness or we don’t. You either find your way out of a cold and dark room or you stay. Often in life we have to ask ourselves...Can I take hold of His hand and trust Him to lead me where I have never been and can I honestly say, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff they comfort me?

Life happens and as life happens and you are stumbling in the dark and the Lord is holding your hand... the question is not only...will you hold onto His hand...but when your sight is finally restored whose eyes will you have? When you finally pull through and are able to look back and then you turn and gaze into the eyes of those who know you and those who don’t...when you gaze into the eyes of those you love and those who frustrate you and those who pass you on street corners and greet you at empty counters with empty stares...when you gaze into the eyes of strangers and those who sit next to you at church...when you gaze into those eyes and you look and talk and move just as you always have....whose eyes will they see looking back at them? Will they be yours or will they pause and search your face and say...I never noticed this have your Fathers eyes.

Life happens. John and I pioneered two churches and in between the two we went home to our mother church and let God lead us. We had passed through a few valleys over the years and many times our blindness was our own doing...but always the Lord was there. I wrote the following poem during one of those valleys. The poem is not so much about children but about the child in each of us and at the time it was about the child in both John and I that God was so desperately wanting to heal.

The Arms of Mercy - 1998

Face without name, forever bears the cost, Innocence lost

Guilt thinly veiled can not mask, poisoned past.

Oh wounded heart, shattered dreams

Who can bear your silent screams for mercy

No place to run, where can I hide

Who can bear your silent cries

Who can bear those pleading eyes

That bruise me, rip through me

Oh shattered fragment of a child

Your eyes, they do accuse me.

White washed smile, fading in the shadows breaking

Embittered heart, bound and chained

Bears the guilt and the shame without mercy

The Lords mercy

Oh wounded heart, shattered child

Pray your heart no more defiled

Pray He hold His wounded child

Forever, in His torn and bleeding arms of Mercy

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Flowing Through My Fingers

Seasons...I have been thinking about seasons.  Our modern world sometimes seems so disconnected from the natural ebb and flow of life.  Pages and chapters of our lives quickly turn and we are not cognizant of the passing of time.  There are no markers, nothing that causes us to pause and take notice.  We don't seem to grasp the minutes and hours and years that flow through our lives like a child's silky tresses flowing through our fingers.

Modern technology and lifestyles spin around never ending opportunities and everything is quickly within our grasp.  The world’s mysteries can be explored within a days jet ride or with a press of a finger and the miracle of the Internet.  Our disconnected lifestyles are built on quickly sifting sand and we don’t understand why we are so discontent.  Days and weeks pass…and we fail to see a child’s small hands opening and closing as they master what is easily within our grasp… cheerios and rose petals and crawling bugs.


We were created to move with the tide as it ebbs and flows and to the rhythm of passing days measured by the rising and the setting of the sun.   A God who measures our days created us and teaches us through His word and His creation that life has seasons.  Yet much of what we do is too much to do, about nothing.  


It is so easy to get caught up in the complexity and demands of modern life.  Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.  The most precious moments in life aren’t planned, manipulated, carefully choreographed or documented.  They just happen.  You gently take a child by the hand and walk away from all the should of and could of and would of and you embrace a cherished moment of unconditional acceptance and love that only a child can give this side of eternity.


I am not nor have I ever been a perfect mother to my children.  I have often failed them and I have often failed myself.  I’ve missed opportunities, forgotten birthdays, failed to provide home cooked meals and never canned a single jar of strawberry jam.  I have let the sun go down on my wrath without an apology, never packed a lunch for my husband to take to work and still struggle to maintain a consistent prayer life. 


I have fallen short of every demand I have placed upon myself and every delusional dream I have entertained about the perfect wife and mother.  Almost thirty years of marriage and four grown children and despite all my shortcomings I am at peace with who I am because I have been loved by my children and I have loved my children to the best of my ability…and they know it.


I wasn’t always there for my children, but through God’s grace and His shaping of my character through the seasons of life… I have often over the years…stepped out of the world of possibilities and stopped the craziness, closed my ears to the voices of obligation and duty and responsibility, looked my child in the eyes, held their face in my hands and listened and watched and prayed and let life happen.  Seasons will come and time will ebb and flow.   Love those babies with everything in you…love them and hold them and pray for them and when they grow up and leave your home… the seasons will change and one day life will flow through their fingers like the silky hair of a sleeping child… and they will remember you.


Years ago, I wrote a song...and I won't include all the verses but here is the chorus...

In a hug, in a word, in a husbands smile, in a look, in a touch, in the eyes of my child.  In a prayer, in the dark on the night I cried.  In a heart, in a life, in this child's eyes.  Through the smile of a friend, in mama's hug, in a look in a word, in my child's love.  He is there. Jesus is always there.




Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Am a Servant

Years ago when we were a family of little ones living in the ideal hamlet of Dundee...I struggled with loneliness and an overwhelming homesickness for my family and my people and my little island in the sea. I longed for yesterday, and I longed for could have been ... and would have been and opportunities lost. I was homesick for the child I never was and the home I never had and the artist that never lived. I was saved and God was changing and healing me...and I was feeling that loss so intensely ... I was not only homesick...I was heartsick.

So years ago, after weeks of endless rain, sick babies, unhappy husband, chaotic home and wrestling with God... I had a weird dream.

I dreamt I was in a circus tent and I was climbing this pole like an acrobat...higher and higher I climbed and beneath me were these famous artists and musicians and performers and at the top was this beautiful sculpture by Michelangelo. I remember seeing incredible works of art all around me as I pushed on towards this sculpture that I knew was to be mine. When it was finally within my reach ... I saw that this magnificent work of art was nothing more then a cheap plastic replica. A huge sense of disappointment flooded my soul and when I awoke I was weeping with an overwhelming sense of loss ... and then God spoke to my heart.

It was as if He said ... all these things you desire will pass away ... every creative act of man is only a cheap replica of what God can create. All art will one day pass and there is nothing under the sun created by man that has the authentic stamp of God’s eternal life giving creation. Only God can create works of art that breathe and live and can exist for eternity.

In that simple dream, I knew God had so much more then what I grieved for. It was as if He said, their is only one act of genuine creativity that human beings can participate in ... soul winning. When we share the gospel to those who are hurting ... when we reach out to empty, starving dead souls and they respond in a genuine prayer of repentance ... God’s spirit moves through our words and testimony and God’s breath of life flows into them and they become a new creature. God moves through us to create new life. He has no other plan. He chooses to limit His greatest act of creativity ... the redemption and rebirth of humanity ... to the uncertain, frail, unskilled and unworthy workmanship of His redeemed children. This incredible plan of redemption is the only act of creativity that bears the genuine mark of God’s eternal life giving creation ... a plan that brings dignity not only to the one who is redeemed but the vessel that chooses to let the Lord use him to bring redemption to others... How crazy and how magnificent and how mind boggling scary is that?

I determined in my heart that I would let God teach me how to be all that I needed to be so He could use my life to reach others. When I was first saved I heard a Larry Norman song that captured my heart and often through the years his words would ring in my heart and memory and remind me of who I am called to be in Christ. It’s a simple song and I often wonder why a female vocal artists hasn’t recorded it...

I Am a Larry Norman

I am a servant, I am listening for my name

I sit here waiting, I’ve been looking at the game

That I’ve been playing, and I’ve been staying much the same,

When you are lonely, you’re the only one to blame

I am a servant, I am waiting for your call

I’ve been unfaithful, so I sit here in the hall

How can you use me, when I’ve never given all

How can you choose me, when you know I quickly fall

So you feed my soul, and you make me grow,

And you let me know you love me,

And I’m worthless now, but I’ve made a vow,

I will humbly bow before thee,

Oh please use me, I am lonely.

I am a servant, getting ready for my part,

There’s been a change, a rearrangement in my heart,

At last I’m learning, there’s no returning once I start,

To lives a privilege, to love is such an art,

But I need your help to start,

Oh please purify my heart,

I am your servant

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Windows To the Soul

Jesus is a personal God. If we are true believers and followers of Christ then we know Jesus is a personal God that lives within us...He is not a religion but a relationship. We know this but we often forget that this personal God that intimately knows us and draws us to Him so we can know Him and become more like Him...created us to influence others as He influences us...through relationships.

Jesus said in His word, love the Lord your God with all your heart and love others as you love yourself and in this all the law is fulfilled. Religion is fulfilling the law without a relationship. Salvation is a restored relationship with a living God that then motivates us to fulfill all the law as an act of love for a God we are in relationship with. We know this...but we often don’t make the connection of knowing a personal making ourselves known to others.

A home that is built on should do this and you should do that...a marriage filled with endless duties, rigid roles and marital expectations without a vibrant, well maintained and carefully tended relationship...could be a number of things but its not a marriage. Fulfilling the law without a personal relationship is dead religion.

As women we were created to complete our husband and to bear children. God created us to be nurturers and by creative design we are more relational and more intuitive. In our marriages and in our homes we are the relational thermostat. That doesn’t mean our husband doesn’t bear the weight of responsibility for the marriage or for keeping it in just means we are more aware or should be more aware of the need for maintaining a healthy life giving relationship with our husband and with our children.

I understand this but I have not always known it. I have had a personal relationship with Jesus for over 28 years and I have known my husband for almost as long but though Jesus has known me...I can’t say I have always been known by my husband. In our early years when life was more about should and should not... I often was not known...and I often did not husband. We played a deadly form of hide and seek where its now you see me and now you don’t.

It’s amazing how we can live in the same home, show up at the right times, do the right things and day by day and moment by moment retreat into our own little worlds where we live a life unconnected, unfulfilled and utterly empty and unknown. It takes courage and faith not in our husband but in the God of our not hide behind anger or retreat behind a silent wall of hurt when we feel violated or unappreciated or blind-sided by harsh words too quickly spoken.

Years ago when John and I came back into the McMinnville congregation after pioneering in Keizer I wrote a poem. Pioneering a baby work is a tremendous opportunity to not only win souls but is a great wake up call for the pioneering couple left with no one but each other and God. You quickly learn how desperately you need God to not only build a church in your city...but a marriage in your home.

No Windows to My Soul

Cloaked in bitterness, surrounded by four walls

Locked within...loneliness, no windows to my soul

Walls washed with laughter, colored with dreams

muddied hues of hopelessness, ever changing schemes

Every wall papered with tears never shown

Matching pasted borders, love never known

Darkened corners filled, words, faces, names

cold heartless rooms, emptied of all pain

All must stay outside the walls, none may enter in

I’m left standing cold and still, walls can not be friends.

To have a marriage is to risk being be known by our husbands...and to know our our God has known us.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Patterns of Prayer

Consistent patterns in ones life ...some things are hard to come by.

I am almost obsessive about noticing, identifying, studying’s a trait that has served me well and has paid me well. I can dissect and identify the core foundational pattern of almost anything I focus my attention on...from science and investigative seemingly random tile patterns in bathroom stalls.

All of God’s creation is built on foundational structures and patterns that repeat and build into more complex structures. If you understand the foundational core and the logic behind the variations and repetitions of that core then you can successfully play with those patterns...and create a fresh variation or interpretation of an existing pattern.

I have a difficult time establishing consistent patterns in my life and so I am obsessed with studying them. Pastor Foley preached on prayer tonight and exhorted us to establish a consistent pattern of prayer in our lives. Some things are hard to come by.

I don’t know if its the undisciplined artist, the attention deficit manic, the non conforming rebel or just pure laziness...but as much as I enjoy studying patterns I am terrible at repeating them. Replicating a consistent pattern for a year...highly about a month?

I love prayer and I love spending time in God’s Word. I love pouring my heart out to God and praying at the top of my lungs, but I can go for days and weeks without getting around to prayer...and when I fail to pray, I know it...and my family knows it and our home suffers for loss of prayer and loss of time spent in the presence of a holy and merciful God. Days are lost, and moments are lost and opportunities to touch the throne of God and to be transformed by his Saving Grace are all lost.

So I establish altars. The Old Testament often refers to standing stones and covenants. Reference points for times when one has wrestled with God and has come to an understanding of His Grace and His mercy and His faithfulness. Standing Stones like foundational pillars for building a lifetime of patterns. I often stray from those patterns...but when God gets my attention...which He is faithful to do...I look back in time...back to the altars and the covenants and the standing stones established in my life and I renew my side of the agreement and once again I apply my understanding of the core foundational instructions in Gods Word and day by day and week by week I rebuild the pattern of prayer in my life.

Its been quite a few years ...more then 15 years since my children were toddlers and babies and I must say those were the most crucial years for establishing patterns and they were also the hardest. Talk about attention deficit...every time you turn around ...a distraction to pull you off task, a chore you thought done is now undone, an interruption, a demand, a cry, crashing toys, screaming babies, hungry tummies, crazy mommy.

In those early years I worked hard to establish discipline in my life...but mornings just didn’t after a couple of years of beating myself up...I asked God to help me...and sometime around my firstborn’s toddler years I established a pattern that literally carried me until our fourth child went to kindergarten.

At the end of a long day...two, three, maybe four times a week...I would go to my children’s bedroom, read a story and sing. It started out as the night time ritual that included nursery rhymes and favorite songs that I would sing before saying goodnight. Unfortunately, the little monsters would never stay in their beds for long...and so to prevent insanity and because I was too tired to do anything else...I would stay in that little room and sing. First, I would sing lullabies, and then I would sing church songs...and then I would stop singing for them and start singing for Jesus. I would sing and worship and pray. I would touch the throne of God in my child’s bedroom...often with a nursing baby on my lap and tears streaming down my face...and the Spirit of God would fill a mothers heart in a child’s room ...and the world would stop turning and I would know that He was God.

When my children were young they fell asleep to the sound of their mother worshiping God and woke to the sound of their father praying before leaving to work. A powerful foundational core to build ones life on...and a variation on a pattern that believers have been repeating since the time of Christ.