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.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Love Letters

The other day I was rummaging through boxes of stuff most of which needs to be tossed. In those boxes I came across letters I wrote to my husband before we were married. Over the years I have on occasion taken time to read through letters and cards and random poems and papers I have written...a kind of introspective scavenger hunt...for me. Life has a way of getting too busy and especially when you are a wife and mother of little has a way of getting so busy you lose sight of you.

That of course is not always a bad thing...we often are too focused on our needs and desires and God in his wisdom gave us a husband and babies that do a fairly tremendous job of keeping us from getting too caught up...and day by day and year by year...they break us of our self centered ways.

So we give and give and give and we get too busy in a numbing, repetitive, mindless sort of way...and as the nurturer of the family we are so busy giving we lose sight of our selves. Just another day...that starts like any other day...but we can’t quite wake up and we can’t quite do much of anything and we can’t figure out why we are stuck...but we are and we just know we have nothing left to give.

Our lives feel like perpetual chaos and we wistfully dream of a hot leisurely soak in a candle lit room with claw footed tub ...but...forget it...the dishwashers slogging away, tub is running over with toddlers and yellow duckies and soaked towels, washing machine is spinning the second of an endless pile of dirty clothes that will eventually be an endless pile of clean ones, hot waters gone, kids are wet and who has time for a bath...lucky to get a two minute, lukewarm shower at midnight.

So I don’t know about you but I go on a scavenger hunt and look at photos and read old writings and talk to God and ask Him things like...What is my problem? Why can’t I get my act together and why do I feel so fat and where is Prince Charming and whose kids are these anyways?

So I read love letters, not so much to understand my husband or reaffirm his love for me...but I read love letters I wrote to understand me and reaffirm my love for him. Did I really write those sweet endearing words and did I really mean them? Do I still?

It’s amazing what you will discover. This last time, I was amazed at how much I understood God and His word. I married John less then a year after my conversion. I was a new convert when we started dating and we had a rocky relationship and over the years, we have reaped the consequences of our stupidity and violations...but I was a new convert and he was still a fairly young convert as well and we had an amazingly deep understanding of what God wanted from us even if we didn’t follow what we knew was right.

I thought about that. God writes His word upon the fleshly tablets of our hearts. He whispers His truth to us and gives us all we need the moment we confess our sins, ask for His forgiveness and invite Him into our lives. We have access to the Creator of the heavens the moment we are born again. I read those love letters by a young woman saved less then a year and I am astonished by her godly wisdom...I had the map but had never traveled with Him...knew what was right but didn’t know how to live life with God is a journey.

He gives us a map...and then we spend the rest of our lives learning how to read it. We can’t read the map first, we have to read it while we walk through the land He has given us...we must journey with Him as He leads us down the path...our lives need to we can find Him and understand Him and trust Him with our husband, and our kids and our fears and our shortcomings and our pain.

No one can take the journey for us...we must walk through our journey with God on our own...but it is in walking with God that we find ourselves and we find our husband and we finally understand why we wrote those love letters and why we meant every word we wrote even when we had no clue what those words meant...because you can’t really love your husband the way God intends you to love your husband and you can’t love yourself the way God intends for you to love yourself... until you start following a map you can’t fully understand and start walking with a man you can’t fully know.

Faith brought me here and faith will lead me home. I love my husband because I have chosen to love him and walk with him on a path God has led us down and because we are faithful... I have loved and been loved and those love Gods words are written upon the fleshly tablets of my heart.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Man is in the Forest

Quite a few years ago I was asked to share to a group of women that gathered for a Mother’s Day women’s ministry at the Potter’s House Church in McMinnville. I believe it was somewhere around 1995 and Kevin Foley was our Pastor and so true to his leadership, I had three key points. Man, Superwoman and babies.

At the time John and I were assisting with a number of ministries including cleaning and locking up the church. I would help with the cleaning mid week which included the men and women’s bathrooms. To illustrate my first point I talked about cleaning the men’s bathroom and of how impossible it was for me to relate to the men’s urinal.

Every time I cleaned the men’s bathroom...I couldn’t help thinking how different men and women are...from use of paper products (women use way more) to overall cleanliness (the women’s bathroom always felt cleaner)...but nothing exemplified the difference between men and women like the urinal.

One day while I was contemplating that urinal (I hated cleaning it and usually left it for John to clean) a vision flashed through my head....I saw a scene from Walt Disney’s Bambi. In this particular scene, Bambi’s mother is crouched in the forest, her eyes are frantically searching with Bambi safely pressed near her side..after a minute of mounting tension.... Bambi said, “Mother what’s wrong?” To which his mother replied, “Man...Man is in the forest!”

As much as I love my husband and my son and appreciate men....often in my life I have not fully understood them...and there has been many a day where I have stood gazing at my husband as he totally confounded me with a comment or an innocent observation or a bit of well meaning advice and I all could see was a urinal and is in the forest!

So there is much men and women can learn from each other and there is much we bring to each others lives and wonderful ways we complete each other. But, occasionally you will be reminded that he uses a urinal and you don’t ...and there is just no getting around the difference and so not every thing needs to be understood or worked through...some things just are and thats okay.

Laugh...and learn to tell the difference between a forest fire and burnt matches. Some things just aren’t that important and flexibility is a tremendous blessing.

On the other hand, there will be moments where a small burning ember of misunderstanding or neglect on your husbands part can lead to an outright blaze if you continue to pretend it’s not there and just keep covering up the damage instead of dealing with it. Sometimes a hard and painful conversation is what is needed...and the sooner you have that conversation the less damage control you will have in the end.

I think as women we forget, our husband is stronger emotionally, then we are. They may react with stronger emotion during a difficult conversation but they often will not hold onto a painful emotion and let it eat at them the way women do. So if you are like some women I know...but certainly not like all women I know....your ability to control an emotional outburst...does not mean you are emotionally stronger then your husband. It just means you are either more disciplined then your husband or you emotionally shut down when things are tense...(and so your calm response is really a temporary lack of emotion.)

He uses a urinal and you don’t and he may be messy and often doesn’t clean up after himself...but he can also get the job done and move on while you are left in that bathroom fussing over everything from hair to make up to clean counters. Believe me... if you dish out your thoughts and concerns with respect and clarity...he will not crumble nor greatly resent you...he will deal with it...learn from you ...take care of business...forget to flush and move on!

End of rant...will talk about superwoman and those babies next time!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wild Rose in Bloom

I wrote this poem for Sophia on her graduation from high school... less then a year later she married John and was on her way... Thought it an appropriate place to begin this jouney.


Oh, How I long...once more to see...wild rose in bloom neath the filbert tree...

Days long ago, when I was young and she was my little Fia...we went for walks through rolling hills and lazy trails and we would pick wild roses and twigs and treasures along the road.

Days long ago, laughter trickled from her lips like rivulets of water running wild and free through forests undiscovered and black berries stained her fingers the color of her eyes. She was my bare foot girl gathering wild flowers and filbert nuts with the sun streaming on her ringlets of auburn hair.

Days long ago...when three little girls and a handsome son...filled our endless days. Fia led the way as we wandered through the hills of Dundee exploring forgotten trails...and mystery waited patiently around every bend in the road.

Days long ago we spoke of wild rose potions and daisy chains and black berries piled high with cream and sugar and magic was in her smile...and her hugs and her kisses were as warm as the setting sun.

Day long ago and I can not pass those wild roses without remembering a child's laughter. For many days and weeks and years after we moved away, everytime we passed Dundee my Fia would the wild you remember how we picked them and how pretty they smelled and mom can we really eat rose hips? Together we would gaze upon the neat row of filbert trees and the wild roses growing there and remember...Days long ago.

Days long ago and now Fia is grown and when we pass she doesn't remember wild roses...and the filbert trees are gone and I've not seen a wild rose for many summers.

Days long ago are wrapped tightly in my heart and innocent laughter forever sings its song...

Oh Fia...if we could...just once more see wild rose in bloom neath the filbert tree...then days long ago...will once more the warmth of the my little girls...rose colored smile.

Happy Mother's Day Pa-oohie-oohie

So I decided to start a blog for my grandbabies and since the only child of mine that has any children at this time is Pa-oohie-oohie ...I dedicate this blog to Sophia Terese Castro McManus Libemday Foley....born June 2, 1986. Married to John Michael Foley and mother of three beautiful little girls...Mailey Anne, Emry Addison and Reagan Olivia.

The blog isn't really to the grandbabies it is to the parents of my grandbabies. It's about parenting. Sophie is so far away and we not only miss the babies but I miss being there for Sophie...I miss being available for you when things get overwhelming, I miss encouraging you and offering small slices of life and a bit of what I hope is wisdom that can gently point you down the path of enjoying life, loving your husband and cherishing those three little blessings God has entrusted you with. I miss you...and you are in my prayers and on my mind and heart...and I want you to know you are a blessing and we appreciate the woman and mother you have become...Happy Mother's Day. I love you Pa-oohie-oohie.... Say hello to Sir Laugh-alot the flying fox. Love PapaNana