and the answer is….

42

Yes that’s right.  I am forty two this year and I am perfectly fine with it.  To celebrate, here are 42 good things about my life.

  1. I don’t really have the answer to the question of life the universe and everything, but am more aware of where to find the answers
  2. I’ve actually really been enjoying my 40’s so far.  Lots of pieces of my life have changed quite drastically in the transition from my 30s to my 40s. and yes, that counts as a “good thing in my life”
  3. The most obvious is Ginny.  Nothing can shake up your routine quite like a child. 
  4. I am grateful to my heavenly father for granting us financial stability even with two layoffs in two years.  Martin’s came first, and mine was just a year later.  But God took care of us even when we had no idea what to do next.
  5. There has been peace even amidst surgeries and my dad’s cancer diagnosis.
  6. I love my grey hairs.  Yes, you read that right.  I see the silvers as free highlights, courtesy of God.  Now I’ve just got to figure out what to do about the change in texture…..
  7. Ice Skating.  After a 25+ year break,  I have gone back to the rink and I am loving it.  I’ve found something that will keep me active and healthy and vibrant for a long time. And yes, I see even this as a blessing from God.
  8. There has been a sense of renewal  in my marriage (in part due to the shakeup of the aforementioned layoffs and Ginny)
  9. I’ve found that I have a real friend next door.  Not just the mom of Ginny’s best friend.  But a real live girl friend. 
  10. You almost have to have been in the skating world to know how unusual this next one is –   I have a Christian woman as my coach.  Previously my coaches were almost all men and across the board they were all completely anti-church.  They all expected their skaters to practice on Sundays.  Not a one of them understood that God was important to me.  But my current coach not only gets it, we can actually talk about God and church topics over lunch.  What a blessing!
  11. Being an adult skater brings up a completely different coach/student dynamic.  And yes, that too is a “good thing”
  12. This year, so far, I have been able to lose 40 pounds
  13. Martin has lost at least 30 pounds (he’s catching up to me…I’m gonna have to work harder!) 
  14. I love my job.  Through the course of my layoff I had a chance to really explore what my real working style is and to look for a work environement that meshes with my style.  I was unable to find that blessing on my own.  God hit me over the head with my current job and I love it.  I have impact on peoples’ lives and across campus in a way that I never could have foreseen. 
  15. I was blessed to be able to return to a campus I love and whose mission I believe in- Emory University
  16. This is a Siesta Scripture Memory Team year.  I love learning my verses. (though I am a bit behind in memorization…)
  17. My job allows me to post my memory cards as artwork in my cubicle.  Thus providing me with an artistic outlet, spiritual assist, open devotional and memory aid all in one!
  18. My home Bible study group has chosen “to Live is Christ” as our study this fall.
  19. My husband is amazing.  He is Mr. Mom during the week and cool technical director for our church on the weekends. He does it all.
  20. My brother is back in college.
  21. My boss understands what makes me tick and we communicate well.  Don’t knock it, usually that takes years to figure out. 
  22. I enjoy my co-workers….
  23. …More importantly, I enjoy the job itself.
  24. I am learning new skills through volunteer work at church.  Maybe I’ll learn how to run the sound board next year….
  25. I am young enough to still be active…..
  26. ….And old enough to know when not to push
  27. I’m not in such a hurry anymore
  28. The highlight of Ginny’s day is when I come home and play horsey with her
  29. …..Which makes playing with Ginny one of the highlights of my day too.
  30. I have actual fans of my blog who push me to write more often.
  31. Life is fun – I accidentally volunteered at the face painting booth last night at ginny’s school Fall festival and rediscovered how much I love painting!
  32. Sitting on the back porch with the neighbors, watching our children run and play together.
  33. Discovering fantastic local restaurants.
  34. Café d’Alsace’s currant and port chicken liver pate.
  35. Three blind mice’s entire menu…
  36. …Especially the sticky toffee pudding
  37. My parents live close enough to sometimes have impromptu evenings together at local cheap Mexican restaurant.  Or just hang out and watch football on a Sunday.
  38. Reconnecting with a friend from grade school (!!!!) through facebook and getting to hug her in person was a real treat.
  39. I met Beth Moore.
  40. My Ginny and Martin have also met Beth Moore.  And she told them that she knows who I am!  How cool is that?  And kinda intimidating to be honest….
  41. I got to stay in the home of a dear friend in Houston that I met through blogging.  And our husbands enjoyed each other and the kids all got along!   And they are foodies!  Missy found an amazing Cajun restaurant out in the boonies that we are going to go back to when we see them again in January.
  42. I really enjoy my neighbors’ kids.  They are active, happy kids that play well with Ginny.  It is such a huge blessing to be right next door to Ginny’s favorite playmates.  And most of the essentials of child rearing…we agree on! 

I think Douglas Adams got it right.  42 turns out to be a very good number.

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blessed beyond my wildest dreams

(this is a re-post with follow-up.  i’ve got stewardship on the brain, so this post was a natural to include in this series.)

A couple of years ago, just before Thanksgiving, Beth Moore ( of Living Proof Ministries) asked a very interesting question on her blog.  I answered it in a way that surprised me.  So when Brian asked me to write something for the stewardship campaign I felt a nudge to let you in on my answer.

Beth asked-

What are you grateful for that you NEVER thought you would

be grateful for?

Well.   That one got me thinking.  The usual stuff is easy – health, home, family, Jesus.  All the pat answers.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being grateful for those things.  But what, in my life, that would normally be viewed as a negative could I turn on it’s head and view as something to be grateful for?

If Beth had asked this question in years past, my answer would have been my infertility that led us to adopt Ginny.  Never in a thousand lifetimes would I trade.  Ginny has been a huge blessing.  I can never thank God enough.

But when Beth asked this question it was 2009…..Alright.  The thing I never thought I’d be thankful for in 2009  was that my husband lost his job in August.  August 4th as a matter of fact.  On my mother’s birthday.

I was so sour about it at first.  He was my Bible study partner on the way to and from work for 5 years.  We loved our commute together. So I was seriously bummed when that ended.  I said all the right things.  “God will take care of us.”  “It will be okay”  and I meant them.  But deep inside, even while I knew God would take care of us, I was resentful.  And to be honest, I kinda of imagined that God taking care of us would mean us scraping by on ramen noodles and finding ways to cut corners on everything.

I envisioned a life of constant restriction.  Nothing extra to enable us to help others. No joy.  Just getting by.

Apparently that is not what God had in mind.

Even just the first 4 months after the layoff was filled with blessings.  First, to hear my man say that he wanted to continue his tithe through the end of 2009 AS IF HE STILL HAD HIS JOB.  Wow. I don’t know how to be grateful enough to God for sending me Martin.  When I think of the background we both come from.  The sin, the darkness of our respective pasts……..and now to see Martin, how much he really does love God,  and know that he is the real spiritual head of our home.  That in itself is a blessing.

We grew in our relationship.  Our relationship had gotten lazy.  We depended on that commute to keep us connected.  We had to learn all over again to find (or MAKE) time for each other.

Martin got to spend lots of time with our baby girl, which was very good for them both. 

Four members of our family extended family were sick and needed lots of time and care in the Fall of 2009.  If Martin had still had a job they likely would have had to let him go because of all the family emergencies we went through.  We never had to face that though.

God sent a job opportunity to Martin that he never would have been able to take on if he had been tied to the old routines.  It changed our whole dynamic.

So spiritual growth, learning, new patterns, time with family……But what about money?  How did we get by?  did God provide?

*sigh*

Finances. 

The big bug-bear.  The nightmare of all who are “downsized” in this economy.   God had sent us a clear message that we were not to worry.    There were two (not one, but TWO) out of the blue, un-asked for, financial gifts to our family that, are you ready for this? enabled us to continue our tithe all the way to the end of 2010 as if Martin still had his old job !  When the checks came, the first thing on Martin’s heart and mind was the tithe.  Wow.  After all I have been through in my life and put others through, to finally be married to a real Christian MAN OF GOD is just blessing me right down to the tips of my boots. So there you go.  In 2009 I was thankful that my husband lost his job.

Well since we were so ultra faithful in 2009 and trusted God for his good provision, did we receive a huge blessing in 2010?  Absolutely!  I got laid off in October of 2010. 

No, I’m not being sarcastic.  We got a chance to trust God to provide again.  I’ll be honest, we did look at that money already set aside for the tithe for 2010….shook our heads and said “Nope.  That money already belongs to God.”

But it was sitting there, tempting us.  So we decided to go ahead and instead of writing a check out once a month, we just moved it all to the charity account.  That helped a lot.  With a combination of blind faith, deliberate actions and lots of heart to heart discussion my little family got through a couple of years that look rough on the ledger books.  But in my heart, these have been three very good years. 

We have become much more focused on relationships.  with God, each other, family and friends.  Life is not about presents, or activities anymore.  We’ve had a spiritual attitude adjustment. 

Now, if you ask me about my life, I will generally say “I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.”

i am worth it

Today has been a great day.

 Does it have anything to do with a lunch date I have planned with a friend that I haven’t had a real chat with in a little over a year?  Well, yes, it will be fun.  But that’s not why I’m happy.

 Could it be because I got a good night’s sleep?  Um…no.  I didn’t get a good nights sleep.

 Could it be because today is Wednesday which means that I’m just a little bit closer to Thursday and the ice rink?  Perhaps.  I do seem to be living my life these days pointed like a hunting dog at the rink schedule.  But, no, that’s not why I’m almost euphoric today.

 Maybe it’s because someone complimented my writing yesterday?  I love knowing that someone likes what I write.  It is very affirming, but no, that is not what is making me grin from ear to ear.

 Is it because I’m enjoying a strengthening relationship with our neighbors?  As our girls get older together and enjoy each other’s company more and more I’m finding that Ginny is not the only one with a girlfriend next door.  Liza is creative and energetic and quirky.  She loves the Lord and is a real joy to be around.  But, that is not why I bounced in the door at work today.

 Beth Moore.  Could it be that getting back to studying God’s word in a format that I really enjoy is what is making me so giddy?  No.  I enjoy Beth’s style of teaching, but that’s not it.

 Free tickets?  A dear friend just offered us free tickets to a show Ginny really wants to see.  But that’s not why I’m thrilled to be alive today.

No, the reason I bounced out of bed this morning, even short on sleep, just happy to be alive and ready to smile at the world…is Jesus.

 You see a thought occurred to me.  For too long I have let the price Jesus paid for my soul be a burden to me.  I’ve felt a crushing weight of obligation, remorse for every lash of that whip and prick of thorn that my sins have personally added to His pain on the cross.  But for some reason, that image has fallen away for me recently and more and more I am seeing the price Jesus paid for me as a testament to how much I am worth to Him. 

 The infinite creator of the universe knew that I was worth saving. Me.  Deirdre.  He looked at me, and then checked his agenda and said, “yup…I need her to do ______fill in the blank___________ for me.  She has just the right weaknesses to show the world My divine strength.  How much is it going to cost to ransom her?  …….alright.  That price is right.  We. Will. Pay. It.”

 Why am I happy?  Because I am finally absorbing the idea that God declared me worth it. 

 He looked at you and had the exact same conversation with the rest of the Trinity.  God felt that you were worth it. 

The price was right. 

Now what are you gonna do about it?

 

 

happier than I deserve

I have previously quoted Psalm 27:4 as my life verse.

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek,
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.”

These days I am coming to see that that verse addresses where I want to go.

But there is another one that addresses my past really really well.

I was kinda (okay, more than kinda…a lot) depressed this past January.  I had been out of work since October and no matter how much I deny it, a huge chunk of my self esteem had taken a really big hit.  All the potential job offers that I had hanging out there had fizzled (or at least I thought so at the time) and I was sitting at my home computer struggling to find a scripture to memorize for the first two weeks of January.

For those unfamiliar with me, I participate in the Siesta Scripture Memory Team every other year.  It is in an effort to point my mind and heart toward God and re-train my brain to respond to any situation with HIS words on my heart.  In order for that happen, I have to KNOW His words.  So I memorize.  But I don’t do anything like that very well on my own.  I need accountability, so I am part of an on-line community of women (and a few brave men) who commit to learning a new scripture every two weeks for a whole year.  At the end of the year we have a big get-together in Houston as a reward.  And your ticket is your ability to say all of your scriptures.  Okay, not quite all, we do allow some grace to creep in.  If you want in, just go  here and start logging your scriptures once every two weeks.

Okay, now back to my story.

I was depressed.

I was also supposed to pick a scripture.

I was floundering in a morass of self pity and getting nowhere.

My attitude was quite frankly… lousy.

So I did what I do a lot of times…..I procrastinated.

I waited to see what other scriptures some of the other ladies might pick.  Sometimes I go into the week knowing that I have my scripture for that week.  But other times I just read through the other people’s chosen scriptures and wait for something to jump out at me.

And boy did this one LEAP off of the screen and into my lap.

“The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.
He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness.
These forty years the LORD your God has been with you and you have not lacked anything.”
Deuteronomy 2:7

Okay, the first thing that jumped at me was the age card.  I’m technically 41, but still, the number 40 tends to stand out to me these days.

So, for no better reason than that,  I picked this verse as my first verse for 2011.  I memorized it, but it wasn’t till a couple of mornings ago that I really paid attention to what it says to me.  This verse is PACKED with meaning for me.

Allow me to open it up phrase by phrase.

“The LORD your God”

I am a Christian.  My God, I have chosen to submit to your Lordship.  The word “YOUR” speaks to how personal the relationship really is.

“has blessed you in all the work of your hands”

When I really think about it, the projects that I seem to see the most blessing on in my life are the ones where I have done actually physical WORK.  Not my intellectual accomplishments, but my physical ones.

My writing, my artwork, my housework, my new job, and most especially my home and family.  Every time I pass by the dishes in the sink I feel sick, but if I just stop and do them…I feel peaceful and blessed.  For me, it is starting to become that simple – if there is a task to do I should do it.

“He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness”

Tempting as it is to blame our wilderness experiences in life on some divine plan to teach us to be better people,  I can honestly say that every wilderness that I personally have wandered through I got there on my own two feet.  My own bad choices and sinful behaviors got me into most of the dark places in my history.  I shredded my world with utter abandon.

No one forced me to make the decisions that I did. Many of them were utterly wrong-headed and sinful. Some were willful blindness, others were sheer stupidity on my part.  The miracle of my life now is that with all the stupidity and all the sin…..somehow God has given me

  • a repentant heart that turned back to Him at the same time that Martin’s did
  • a life that is largely free from some of the more dire consequences that *could* have come down on me
  • a God fearing man who leads the spiritual life of my family
  • a baby girl who amazes me everyday
  • and a few close friends who still love me in spite of the mess I diligently tried to make of my life

I am in a place now where I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did NOTHING to deserve the blessings I have been given.

They ALL come from God.

and for someone like me with a pride problem. This is EXACTLY where I need to be.

In this verse I also hear the ache of my heavenly father’s heart.  He had to watch me go through all that.  Have you ever watched a child do something that you KNOW is gonna hurt, but it will teach them something valuable so you let it happen?

Sure you could have reached out your hand and stopped the cookie jar from falling off the counter, but it is far better to let your toddler learn now that gravity does work, than to have to let her figure it out later in life when the consequences will be bigger….and correspondingly more painful.

It was my journey though.  I had to go through it sometime.  And it comforts me to know that while I was learning all those lessons…My Father God was actually watching me.  He didn’t just put my life on mute and turn his back.  He watched.

“these forty years the LORD your God has been with you”

There is that dang 40 number again.  I’m not gonna talk about that one right now.

I want to talk about one little word in this phrase…..

with

God not only watched over me…He was with me.

Just savor that.

I was NEVER alone.

“and you have not lacked anything”

This is a big one for my inner whinny voice.  I have a voice inside my head that tends to moan a lot.  But this phrase forces me to look honestly at my life and realize that yes.  I have never lacked.

I have always had food.  More than I need most days.

I have always had shelter.  Nice warm, well decorated shelter.

And now?

I am blessed beyond my desserts on so many many levels.

Sometimes I just have to laugh at things like this.  A verse that I picked for the most spurious of reasons turns out to be chock full of so much personal meaning that I could honestly preach a sermon on it.

How about you? Have you ever had God just bowl you over with a revelation in a verse that you had previously taken for granted?  I’d love to hear about it.

well, that didn’t come out right….

Did’ya ever say one thing…

And your audience heard something else entirely?

Basically it came out completely wrong.

At a recent Beth Moore event I spotted this gorgeous young lady.  She was beautiful and dressed beautifully. I thought she must be in the choir or platform party in some way.  She looked elegant, fully made-up, hair in an up-do, flowing floor-length dress……at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning.

She was only a few feet away from me so I caught her eye and said

“wow you sure are dressed beautifully for a Saturday morning!

She looked at me as if she was offended and said “well it’s very comfortable”

And gave me a pinch of her dress to feel.

It was comfy – it was stretch cotton, but you would never know just by looking.

I tried to backpedal, I tried to make her understand that I was ADMIRING her

But the initial phrase had come out wrong (or been wrongly received) and I couldn’t fix it.

The doors to the auditorium opened just after that and we will never see each other again.  I don’t even know her name.

It haunts me.

Has that ever happened to you?

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a comment that initially sounded hurtful?

I know I have.  There have been plenty of times in my life when someone has said something that I could instantly take as insulting.  And usually I do take umbrage far too easily.

Perhaps I should reconsider.

Perhaps they meant well, but it just didn’t come out right.

300,000 distinct ones

I need to post a re-cap of this past weekend’s “So Long Insecurity” simulcast.

Not because people need to hear the message, they do.  But Beth is so much better at it than I am, my pitiful recap is not really going to impact anyone….except me.

This is for me.  So I don’t have to worry about losing my notes from this message.

Beth likes Acronyms, so her message was built around Ephesians 4:1 – 5:2 and what a SECURE woman “looks” like.

A SECURE woman is….

Saved from herself
removed from the need to be so self-conscious, self-aware and afraid of what others think. She is focused on God and on HIS opinion of her and mission for her.

Entitled to truth
The truth about herself – that she is a precious daughter of the king and nothing and no one can ever take that from her. This is not to urge her towards pride, but instead to make sure she knows the value we all hold in God’s eyes.  And by the way ALL humans have dignity and value
in God’s eyes.

Clothed intentionally
She very deliberately wreathes her mind and heart in scriptures, God’s word of unending love and forgiveness.  Scripture is our best (only) defense against the destructive thoughts and emotions that rage through our heads.  Be deliberate.  Have scripture memory plan.  Surround yourself, study God’s word.  Whether you know whole chapters already or don’t know a single verse yet, start today.  Memorize.  I used to think Scripture memory was not necessary.  I had the Bible after all.  I wasn’t living in some far off land where I’m not allowed to carry a Bible, so why should I have to memorize scripture?  Because God said to, first of all, but mostly because I don’t have time to look things up when my head is spinning.  I need to be able to pull up words from God that have “been engraved on my heart”       Be Intentional about it.

Upended by grace
forgiven.  utterly.  unshakably, she KNOWS she is forgiven and it turns everything in her life upside down.  She is so certain of her own forgiven state that forgiving others is not only the right thing to do, it feels right.  I didn’t say easy…just right.

Rebounded by love
slips happen, mistakes occur, but a secure woman knows that God is there and catches her.  she is both bound by God’s love and rebounded by it – which I like to think of as a basketball analogy – caught and sent right back up towards the basket.

Exceptional in life
She is the exception to every rule.  “no woman in the world could deal with THAT…well, except…HER”  is what we want all our acquaintances to say about us.

Beth was amazing on Saturday.  Her passion was deeper and more raw than anything I have ever seen from her,  and in a way that made it more intimate.  Even with 300,000 people all listening in.   I loved that she said that this whole insecurity thing is not just a theme for the year or something.  She is utterly on fire.  I know I was seeing her with 300,000 other people, but I felt like she was speaking to me.  That she came there because God was telling her to talk to ME about this sin in my life.  The sin of unbelief.

Because that is what insecurity is, essentially, unbelief.

God says I am forgiven, how dare I try to prove to him that I’m not?

God gave his son for my life! how dare I try to show him how worthless I am and what a horrible bargain he made?

God pours himself out for me in his word, how dare I scorn such an offering by not reading it?

God says that I am lovey, how dare I even think of myself as anything less?

on a side note – I had a wonderful time with some great friends (one of whom I only see about once a year) and I didn’t take a single photo!  Hey Trish, do you have the camera phone picture we had the lady in line take of us?

***update*** and here it is.  A lovely photo of three very SECURE and happy ladies!

Deirdre, Michelle & Trish

by the way, both Trish and Michelle are farm girls, so they spent the entire time we were in line discussing their favorite TRACTORS and other farming implements.  I was WAY out of my depth!!!!

birthday wishes for everyday lives

I was just writing a note of encouragement to a friend who is going through a rough time and having a birthday tomorrow. (why do those two things always coincide?)

At first I didn’t know what to say.  But after a while the words just flowed and what I sent her ended up feeling so right that I knew it had to be a blog post.   Someone else out there might need to read this simple story.

So here is an edited version of it –

Dearest Friend,

Your birthday is tomorrow.  You are turning forty-something and I’m praying for you to have a marvelous day.

No I’m not being sarcastic.

Why should you have a good day?

  • Your pets love you.
  • I love you.
  • Your family loves you.
  • You will be going to an amazing Beth Moore event in less than two weeks.
  • You just read a wonderful book reminding you that your TRUE SECURITY is in GOD ALONE. Not man, not money, not marriage, not youth, not even loving friends.
  • And GOD LOVES YOU in a very real, and personal way.

Don’t know about you, but I’ve tended to have trouble with the concept that God loves me personally.  I always sort of thought he tolerated me, IF I was being good.  The wholly incredible truth that I am personally of value to God Most High has always been difficult for me to grasp.

Well recently I was singing to Ginny a very simple little kids song

“God loves me,
God loves me,
in my Bible book it says that
God loves me”
(Romans 8:39)

And, like a lot of little kids songs, you are just supposed to repeat the same chorus over and over and overandoverandoverandover …… till the child falls asleep….or you do!

Well being an adult I decided to try to amuse myself by thinking of other words that could fit in that song.  Just to keep myself awake while Ginny drifted off into lala land.

That simple idea turned out to be SUCH a blessing.  Somehow these truths had never sunk in when I read them as scriptures, but turning them into simple statements of how God feels about ME….it made all the difference in the world!

God SEES me
He knows my every moment.  There is no point in time when I am hidden from God
(Psalm 139: 1-3 and Gen. 16:13)

God KNOWS me
He knows my every motive….and loves me anyway!
(Psalm 139:14)

God WANTS me
This one blows me away.  God wants to spend time with me!  I am his beloved.  And you are too.
(Deuteronomy 7:6)

God HEARS me
There is not some cosmic message machine taking dictation and God will get to me eventually, God HEARS my every word, thought, laugh, wail and groan.
(Jeremiah 33:3, Isaiah 65:24 & Psalm 116: 1 & 2)

God MADE me
and not just my physical body.  God made my life and yours.  And though I have made errors in judgment, NONE OF WHAT GOD PLANNED WAS A MISTAKE.  God doesn’t have a “plan B” this IS plan A. and it is the good and perfect will of God that you be strengthened and drawn closer to HIM through this season of your life
(Jeremiah 29:11)

As I lay there making up stanza after stanza for Ginny, I was being ministered to.  Tears welled up as my sweet, loving heavenly father soothed my soul while I sang my Ginny to sleep.

Have a wonderful day in the presence of your Heavenly Father, who loves you…..as do I,

Deirdre