Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Odd Mommy Out is moving!

So I have decided to change the name and look of my writing/blogging. Please consider following me at and like my facebook page!/pages/Sweet-Hope-Ministries/132960716873854. I have a lot of posts on the tip of my tongue/fingertips and I would hate for you to miss them!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Heart, His Hands, And the Truth Everyone Must Know

I once had a vision. The image was of a left hand reached out with its palm facing up. Sitting in the palm’s cup, delicately secure , was my heart. Then the right hand reached over and covered the heart. The hands lightly clasped so the heart was mostly hidden from my sight. Then the hands gently started to press and release rhythmically, and my heart began to beat.  These were God’s hands, and only weeks after he first began knitting me together in my mother’s womb, he set my heart to beat.

For years, this recurrent image has been a reminder of the generally temporal nature of this earthly life, and specifically the brevity and fragility of my own life. One day, when God’s purpose for my life has been met, my Lord will squeeze my heart no more.  At that point, my soul will leave my broken body and ascend through the glorious gates of Heaven only because my Savior Jesus has paid my debt in full on the cross and thereby declared me righteous.

Recently this image has revealed a different truth.


This isn’t entirely new for me, of course. This fact is what first drew me to the Lord when I was 17. What was different is what this love looks like. When I thought of how God loves me, I pictured him almost as a caring pet owner and myself as a hamster. In my mind, he would glance at my cage in the midst of thousands of others with a happy grin. Occasionally, I felt like he would even open my cage and give me a new toy to make my life more pleasant. He might even pet my head gently and affectionately, but eventually he would close the cage again and go back to his place where he could keep an eye on the whole population of hamsters.

This is not how God loves us. The idea that God holds each heart in his hand reminds us that God loves us constantly, thoroughly, and intimately. His thoughts and his care are ALWAYS on me. At rest, my heart beats 72 times per minute. So at least 72 times in the past minute the Lord has remembered me, thought of me, cared for me, LOVED ME. That in itself makes my eyes fill with tears. But now consider these statistics:

My heart has beat on average 4320 times in the past hour, 103,680 times in the past day, and 37.8 million times in the past year, and roughly 1.2 billion times in my life. If you want an eye opener, calculate your own number of heartbeats.  That is unfathomable in itself. Now consider that even before there was time, God in his infinite wisdom and omniscience knew who we would be and he loved us. It was this very love for you, for me, for all humanity that he sent his perfect, righteous, and holy son to the Earth to die for our sins, so we might spend eternity with our Father (John 3:16). That kind of love is beyond what we can even understand.

I can tell you, that the little that I do understand is enough. I think back to the best moments, or heartbeats, of my life. When I stood by that waterfall with George asking me to marry him, God was there, squeezing my heart faster and faster, and loving me. When I would check on my sleeping babies and I would come out of their rooms with my hand pressed to my chest because I thought the abundant love and thankfulness in my heart would make it burst out of my skin, God was loving me. I think of my saddest, most lonely, most shameful moments…in the hospital room, on the bathroom floor, in my car on that country road, God was there keeping my heart beating and loving me.

In the past few days since I’ve revisited this image of God holding my heart and making it beat over and over again, I have changed. It is impossible to know how passionately, intimately, devotedly, faithfully, delicately, consistently, abundantly, and irrevocably the Lord loves you and not be changed as a result. How has this knowledge changed you?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Some Days, You Only Get to Wear One Eyebrow

“I’m going upstairs to put my makeup on, and then we have to go to Braden’s conference,” I announced to the my three boys over the sound of Jake and the Neverland Pirates. I began putting on the “5 minute face” that I learned from Carmindy. The last step was one that I have added. My eyebrow pencil. For the past 16 years, I have used my Revlon Dark Blonde pencil to color in my extremely blond eyebrows and very few people have seen me without it.  After finishing my right brow I heard it.

“MOMMY!” All three boys at once. This is was different than the other “mommy”’s I  hear during the day. This wasn’t  “Mommy, he stole my truck” or “Mommy, I’m hungry” or “Mommy, I need you to wipe me.” It was “Mommy, drop everything and come here now!!!” And that is what I did. Somewhere between my master bathroom and the family room, I dropped my Revlon Dark Blonde Eyebrow Pencil. I rounded the stairs to see my three boys pointing at a pile of dog vomit on the carpet. Then I looked at my lovely yellow lab laying on her bed, looking at me as if to say, “Mommy, the scrambled eggs I ate while table surfing this morning did not sit well in my tummy, but don’t worry…I’m fine now.” Nice, Molly.

In 4 minutes I managed to steam clean the carpet, tie shoes on three children, help put on coats, and race back upstairs to finish my barely visible left eyebrow. I couldn’t find my pencil anywhere, and I had to leave or I would be late for the preschool conference.  I had to give up, buckle my kids in the car and go.

I debated in the car. What is better? One nice, arched, and defined eyebrow and one completely natural? Or one smudged off eyebrow and one natural eyebrow?  I went with the latter, knowing that I probably just made it worse. After coming back from the fantastic conference (Yea, Braden!!!), I still haven’t found that eyebrow pencil.

I know this is silly and it sets me up for comments like “You should feel beautiful without any makeup!” I understand that and I won’t go into the reasons why I still like makeup on this post. This made me come to a different realization.

Sometimes, things just don’t go our way. I’m not talking about getting a horrible phone call regarding a loved one’s diagnosis, noticing the signs of a miscarriage, talking to the police after a car accident, or anything else of a serious nature. We, as Christians, know to turn to God when our world is crumbling around us. The Bible is full of stories where men and women are on the verge of death and they pray to God for his deliverance.

But what about the times when we knock over our water on our phone? Jam our fingers in the bathroom door? Realize the $9.00 worth of chicken we bought has expired? Find a rip in our Spanx? Learn that our children have designated a corner of the basement a bathroom that is not meant to be a bathroom? Yes, these are all true stories from my life.

What do we do then? I tend to cry, mope, or yell, depending on the severity of the frustration. One time  I sat down next to the running vacuum cleaner and just sobbed. Another time, I told my boys through gritted teeth, to go up their rooms until their father got home. I have also been known to yell out to God, “Will you please help me out a little here?!”  

I believe that is exactly what God wants us to do (maybe with a little less sassiness). God wants us to turn to him for help in these moments that make up our lives as well as the big tragedies that change the direction of our lives. Remember when Jesus listened to Martha’s frustration about her dinner party not going so well (Luke 10: 38-42)? What about when the Lord grew a leafy plant in just a few hours to give Jonah shade, even as he sat in his bitterness (Jonah 4:6)? Haven’t you always loved when Jesus tells us he knows every hair on our head and that we are worth more than the ever-cared-for sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31)?

Do your best to keep these moments of God’s faithfulness in mind when your moments are not what you hope for or plan for. And don’t underestimate the power of laughter in getting through the frustrating moments. If the biblical example of the Proverbs 31 woman is lauded for being able to “laugh at the days to come,” then we are surely allowed to laugh at the day that is here!
Now pray for me, that I find that silly eyebrow pencil!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Lie We All Tell

“I don’t have time.” This might be the most common reason given for why we say “no” to invitations, tasks, favors, etc. At the risk of angering everyone who reads this, I’m proclaiming that this excuse is a complete lie and should be taken out of our vocabulary. And this is why.

Think back to a time when you have said this. Here is an example from my life. Recently, my husband asked me to call Ohio Gas to find out how much we owe since we couldn’t find the bill. “I don’t have time,” I explained.  That was a lie. This is what I should have said, “I spend most of my day, completely scatterbrained, hoping to keep myself and the kids alive and mostly well. Sometimes I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth that morning. Then when naptime comes and I have 90 minutes to actually do things like pay the bills or make phone calls, I notice that Hoarders is on the tv and I would much rather sit on the couch, stare blankly at the nightmarish scenes on the screen, and let my mind go completely numb.”

At some point in my life, here are some of the things I have said “I don’t have time” to do:

·         Playing with my children

·         Reading my bible

·         Working out

·         Eating Healthy or making dinner for my family

·         Praying

·         Spending time with my husband

·         Calling friends and family

·         Cleaning the house

·         Going to church

·         Joining a small group

·         Running Errands

·         Managing my household

·         Writing encouraging notes or thank you notes

·         Partaking in ministry

·         Spending time with my friends and family

 It is not a matter of free time during the day. One could argue that we all have 24 hours of free time every day. We choose what our priorities are and what activities are worthy enough to drink up a portion of that time. Instead, “I don’t have time” should be translated “That is not a priority for me.” My choice to vapidly watch Hoarders during the hour I should be most productive during my day obliterates that excuse for me.  So does my choice to write a blog post, check facebook 10 times a day (okay, 100 times a day), read the latest on the Kardashians, or exercise more than the 30 minutes/5 times a week recommendation from the CDC.  As long as I am able to act on my own free will, I am not able to honestly say, “I don’t have time.”

 So why do we say it?

1. Because the truth hurts. It always stings when you find out that you are not a priority in someone’s life, even if it is understandable.  It makes complete sense to me when my friends turn me down for a girls’ night so they can go on a date with their husband. It still stings, although not as much as if their reason was to…I don’t know…watch Hoarders.  We don't like to hurt people. We don't like to let them down. We don't like them to think poorly of us.

It also hurts us because it brings us awareness of our selfishness, our inability to meet the needs of others, or our ability to hurt others so easily.  While the bible tells us not to condemn ourselves when we sin because Christ’s blood has washed us clean (Romans 8:1-2), there are times when the Holy Spirit convicts us (John16:7-11), calls for repentance (1 John 1:9; Proverbs 1:23), and implores us to change our priorities (Deuteronomy 6;Matthew 22:35-40) . Have you ever not called someone back simply because you don’t LIKE talking to them? Have you ever dodged someone’s presence because you don’t ENJOY being with them. Even without conviction from the Holy Spirit, you have to be pretty hard-hearted to not feel bad. Why else would we say it?

2. Because it is easier. It is easier than having a hard conversation with someone about why we don’t want to do whatever they ask. The real reason might reveal something in us that we don’t want to share. 

·         Will you help organize the fundraiser? Because I feel so overwhelmed with life right now that if I add one more thing I’m going to start crying uncontrollably. I don’t have time.

·         Do you want to go get lunch? I don’t want to go get lunch because I’m on the first week of  a diet and eating out always makes me fall off the wagon. I don’t have time.

·         Do you want to come over for a playdate? No, because every time I walk in your house I’m so overwhelmed with jealousy for how perfect your life seems. I don’t have time.

·         Honey, could you stop by the drycleaner and pick up my suit? No, because I’m really angry over that thing you said yesterday so I don’t want to do anything nice for you. I don’t have time.

·         Mommy, will you build me a train track? No because every time I build one, you destroy it five minutes later and then you throw the tracks all over the basement. I don’t have time.

As Christians, we know that life is fleeting ( Psalm 39:4-5) and we are called to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:15-16). The result of choosing our priorities poorly can be negative. I’ve lost friends because I didn’t intentionally carve out time for them. My marriage has suffered when I didn’t make date nights and important conversations a priority with my husband.  My house, my body, and my mind have suffered from laziness. 

On the other hand, the wise ways I’ve used my time has reaped rewards.  My heart has been blessed by my participation with the ministry of Young Life. My children will grow up with memories of a Mommy who can easily turn into a tiger, witch, ghost, or princess in a castle with dirty grout and dog snot on the windows. They will grow up, knowing about Jesus because church is a priority. They will have memories of their grandparents because we take the time to drive south to visit them. The time I have put into prayer and bible study has given me a heart that adores, worships, and communes with the God that so many others see as distant and harsh (Jeremiah 29:13).

I have time. I just don’t always have the desire.

So I’m curious. When I am tempted to answer “I don’t have time” to some invitation, what do you think is best?

·         To continue with the lie to save time, energy, and feelings?

·         To be brutally honest and really tell people what’s on your mind? Is honesty really like a kiss on the lips (Proverbs24:26)?

·         To do what is asked of you if you are unable or unwilling to give the real explanation of why you do not want to?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Exactly Where God Wants Me to Be

“I used to have my name on a business card,” I said to my husband as I held my cherished, long-awaited son. My whole life I wanted to be a stay at home mom. It was the reason I didn’t become a pediatrician. It was the reason I studied Child Development and Family Studies in college and grad school. Now, only five months into my son’s life, and I couldn’t understand why I was so discontent with my station in life.

My first year at home was difficult. I was a big personality trapped in a 2100 square foot ranch and every day I would sit with my baby and my dog and we would wait for my husband to come home from work.  It wasn’t until I met up with my former boss when William was 13 months old that things changed. She told me that I was exactly where I needed to be and to enjoy it.  After that I felt like I had hit the jackpot. William and I spent a summer going everywhere and doing everything together and I loved it. I also got involved with ministry again and started attending bible studies.  I was content.

A few months ago, after staying home for 7 years, the discontentment returned.  Around me I noticed that my fellow homemakers all had something they enjoyed doing. They are part-time physical therapists, photographers, fitness instructors, writers, inventors, and deeply involved in various ministries. And I’ve become envious.

I’m not envious about their specific callings. I’m envious because my friends know how the Lord intends to use them in their life, or at least for this phase of life. And their ministry extends beyond the walls of their home.

This past Wednesday, I sat with the ladies in my small group and explained all this to them. With their wisdom, I realized that even though I have an idea what the Lord is calling me to, he has also made it clear that it is not the right time for that vision to be fulfilled. I know that I am exactly where God wants me to be at this stage in my life. Right now my sons need me to teach them how to be men that can stand up and face this culture with faith, integrity, and passion. Right now, my husband needs me to be exactly who I am, exactly where I am, so he can be who he is.

So I sat in my home office Wednesday night, fully content once again.

Then I heard my oldest come downstairs. “Mommy, I don’t feel good.” What followed was 18 hours with three miserable kids, a stomach flu, and no sleep. And as I changed my vomit-covered clothes for the third time, scrubbed the toilet and floors repeatedly, and comforted my children the way only a mommy  can, I told myself, “This is EXACTLY where God wants me to be.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Foregoing what is trendy to do what is Godly

Have you ever felt called to do something that wasn't normal in your culture? Maybe it was something small like whether or not to raise your hands in worship at church. Maybe it was something big like whether or not to homeschool your children or quit your job to become a missionary.

Different generations, churches, denominations, and regions of the country have a culture where certain things are accepted and some are not. At the church I attended in college I felt I had to dress a certain way (I believe the style could be described as boho chic, a la Sienna Miller and the Olson twins) or else I didn't fit in. I also felt that I was missing something because I didn't dance or lay on the ground in a puddle of tears during worship music. I felt so uncomfortable that I eventually started looking at other churches. What they were doing wasn't wrong; it was just a style of worship that was attractive to other young adult church attenders, so it caught on and became the norm. It wasn't wrong for me to wear jeans and a t-shirt and stand in place while worshipping either. My problem was that I lacked the courage to do what was different. You see, even in a church community it can take a lot of courage to step outside the norm.

In Ephesians 3:14, Paul kneels in prayer out of an awareness that God is doing so much in the lives of believers. His kneeling position, according to the NIV Study Bible notes, was not something people in his time commonly did. They STOOD in prayer. His kneeling posture was a symbolof his deep emotion and reverence towards God.

Even though this wasn't common in his time, it was something that Jesus himself did on occasion. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus "fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." We know from an earlier verse that he also was expressing deep emotion and reverence. Paul's prayer position wasn't unbiblical. It was just uncommon.

Remember that just because something is different than your friends, your husband, or your church, it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Consider whether it is biblical or not. If it lines up with biblical practice and biblical wisdom, you feel led by the Holy Spirit, and you are confident enough in the Lord to deal with the consequence of looking odd, take the leap of faith!

**This is especially important if you believe others in your community, group, or church are acting unbiblically. If so, maybe the call you feel from the Holy Spirit is for you to be a modern day Martin Luther, nailing your 95 Theses to the door of your church, small group, or community. Of course this requires a much bigger leap of faith, but if you are right in your assessment of wrongdoing, have scriptural evidence, and the wisdom of Godly men and women to support you, God will be on your side.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I recently created a Printable, Hangable Proverbs 31:10-31 page. Now every time I look at my fridge where I plan my day, make my coffee, and say my daily prayers, I will be able to read about what a Wife of Noble Character is like! Enjoy!

Proverbs 31 Printable
The Wife of Noble Character

10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

11Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.

13 She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.

14 She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.

15 She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.

17 She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

18 She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.

19 In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.

20 She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

22 She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.

23 Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

24 She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

28 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

31 Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Proverbs 31: 10-31