Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

When Summer Freezes

There are carefree days of childhood left to enjoy.  Trees to climb and knees to scrape, bikes and bubbles and building forts.  There’s still time to enjoy sticky cotton candy and salt water taffy, and it’s ok if you want to color, too.

There’s no rush here, no need to hurry up and be all mature.
In fact, can we just freeze these moments and really soak them in?
Time hiccups and I revel in the moment, you all happy and carefree, all giggly and silly and laughing at my jokes.  We can color together or splash in the pool or paint our nails wild.  We can stay up till 1 a.m. watching the opening of the Olympics, and in the morning we’ll eat more junk food for breakfast.
Show me your paper boats and lego kingdoms, tell me the coolest thing you saw on pinterest, and build your train tracks right on through the living room.

I think if it weren’t for children I’d have to be all mature, too.

Change comes inevitably down the time-line, with no mercy.  “Time waits for no man” they say and we can’t really get any more of it than God has allotted.
We have only to be good stewards of it.
So if I rush you, I’m sorry.
When I don’t make time for a picnic with all of us freezing the moment together, I’m sorry.
If I put burdens on you that don’t belong in childhood and if I forget that this is the only guaranteed moment, I’m sorry.

Time is flying and only grace gives the wings fit for enjoying it.

So we’ll all give grace and live in grace and together we’ll enjoy this childhood, the one that comes in 24 hour increments.
The one too good to rush.

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Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

{Psa 103:1-5 NKJV}

Blessing the Lord for all this:

321.  Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Truffles and…

322.  The sweet friend who brought them

323. excited little people

324.  squeaky voices and morning breath

325. our new volleyball net : )

{Linking up with A Holy ExperienceThe Better MomTitus 2sdaysScribing the Journey, Growing Home}

Five Minute Friday: Beyond

 It’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt:

BEYOND

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It’s fun, it’s free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

 

GO

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I ask or even could think in my feeble, flitting mind.  And it must be true because I ask so little and receive so much.

I don’t believe the lie that everything I need is just beyond what I have now, but I do believe the truth that He is beyond all my imagination and dreamings, and that He wants me to live beyond where I am now.

I ask for so little because my faith is just.  that. small.

Forget-Me-Not

He shows up Big anyway, and befuddles my thinking and my small prayers.

Sometimes doesn’t He put Himself just out of reach, so that my faith stretches like last year’s jeans and once again, I can grasp just the hem of His garment?

I can barely catch up and never truly arrive, yet He promises arrival someday.  He is my pace-setter and it’s always got to be a little beyond where I’m comfortable.

That must be the ticket to prayer.  Yearning for what’s just out of reach, stretching my tight faith and making room for more, all because I know, I know, there is always room for more of Him.

STOP

When Sin Leads to Thanksgiving

Parenting is tough.

Parenting is day and night, 24/7, clinging-to-grace and praying-in-faith.  It’s discipleship of our children and it’s discipleship for us, because who can teach and not learn?

It’s rewarding and it’s exhausting and it makes you question your sanity, like I imagine a marathon would be.

My crazy husband and I ran a half-marathon.  I paid money to expend every ounce of energy I could muster over 13.1 miles, to get blistered and chaffed, to fight off the urge to quit at mile 10 and the need for a potty at miles 5 through 12.  For about the last 7 miles all I could think was, “I’m paying to do this?”.

At the end we got oranges and bananas, some gatorade, and a t-shirt.  Actually, we didn’t even get the shirt because that was more money.

So parenting is tough like running, but the rewards are greater.  Boxes full of drawings, paintings, macaroni necklaces, precious notes and baby teeth in sandwich bags.  Morning-breath kisses, sticky faces, Dr. Seuss by heart, billions of questions, thousands of I love you’s.  

The rewards of parenting aren’t always warm and fuzzy.  A house full of sinners brings tension, lots of correction and training, and really the greatest reward is seeing the gospel work itself out in your children.

Sometimes I stop nagging long enough to allow grace to lead to repentance.

Oh happy day, when my children confess sin without being guilted into confession.  When the Holy Spirit is unhindered and quietness brings conviction.

I have just an ounce of understanding of the joy of this verse:

“I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” – {Luke 15:7 NKJV}

Yes, we want to raise godly children.  We want them to love Jesus and love their neighbor and overcome evil by doing good.  But if we teach them the truths of scripture, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, that Jesus came as a friend of sinners to seek and save the lost,

then every sin-moment is the perfect time and place for grace to pour in and for sinners to bring joy to their Savior.

And I give thanks for the repentance, not the sin.  But without the realization of the one, the other is never needed.

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Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

Who forgives all your iniquities,

Who heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from destruction,

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

{Psa 103:1-5 NKJV}

Blessing the Lord for all this:

305. siblings that miss each other

306. my hard-working, sensitive and giving children

307. making my tired husband smile

308. The wonderful burning ball of warmth in the sky!

309. Shelby’s Super Nanny impression (crack. me. up!)

310. dancing wild in the living room to Sharri’s piano playing

311. inside jokes 😉

312. forgiveness

313. talented friends making beautiful music on our piano

314. long-lost friends

315. big words with Shyla!

316. standing in the rain with the boys, watching the lightning

317. barbecuing again

318. guitar music from the bedroom

319. swim lessons

320. repentant hearts

Linking up with

A Holy Experience

The Better Mom

Titus 2sdays

Scribing the Journey

As I read the news and question and marvel at the evil, this first person account reminds me of something very important :
God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

A MINIATURE CLAY POT

July 22 – a note of explanation

I’ve tried to leave this post just as it was originally written because it was a heartfelt response after a very traumatic experience.  But I’m sometimes clumsy with words and even when I think I am writing clearly, there is always the reader who doesn’t know my heart or doesn’t hear the words the way they were intended.

I feel as though a few people have taken what I said and twisted it. When I wrote my post on Friday, I had a grand total of eleven blog  followers. Yes, eleven. I generally post on facebook and have had a loyal little group of readers that numbered thirty or so. That is who I generally write for.  People who know me  know that I dislike talking on the telephone. I’d pretty much rather clean a toilet than spend time on the phone. I…

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Five Minute Friday: Enough

 It’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt:

ENOUGH

Every Friday we spend five minutes spilling words and we forego editing  and fretting, and just write.  It’s fun, it’s free, and you should click the link above and try it!  Or at least, read what some others write for fun on Fridays.

GO

It’s crowded and that makes me a little uncomfortable.

People and words and lack of air all combine to choke me a little, but it’s Sunday and I love these people.

She stands to update us all on her life, because she’s a part of us and it’s been so long since she’s been ‘in the valley’.  Her voice is so clear and the words hit me between the eyes.

“When I was a teenager I didn’t want to go with my family to Mexico.  My heart wasn’t in being a missionary.  But I finally submitted to God and decided to be satisfied with wherever He had me.”

Because He is enough.

I worry about doing enough and being enough and did I teach them enough.  Did we pray together enough and do they know Him well enough and will they ‘turn-out’?

We all have to turn out  to find our enough.

Worry turns me in but her words remind me.  He is enough for wherever and whatever and nothing shakes a heart submitted to being satisfied.

STOP

For the Ones Who Can’t Hear “Beautiful”

You shun it as though it were a four-letter word.  When it comes you refuse to hear, refuse to let it attach to you because, surely, you ought to resist that flattery.
Be humble and all that.
Sincere.
You secretly hope that the words are sincere, and inside you desire to wear them gracefully, to be them and believe them.
But your enemy tells you otherwise and you listen to him instead.  To the father of lies?
You have to choose what you wear.

Let Us make man in our image, according to our likeness ~ Gen. 1:26

Your Father has said beautiful since you were born.  He’s made beauty in the world, wonder that you capture with camera or imagination or just sheer enjoyment.
Yet you,
created in His image,
won’t listen.
You have eyes to see it all around, but you wonder if it’s ok to see it in you.  As if vanity came from simple appreciation.

Is it ok to think that I look nice?

You ask me one Sunday before church, and I’m remembering the time of no jeans and no mirrors because I was so weak and so consumed.

Imago Dei.  All of us, the image of God.

Yes.  It is good.

Take a little  time in that mirror and gaze at the image of God.  Be blessed by His beauty and comfortable with your skin, your hair, the color of your eyes and the marks of distinction on your face.
Praise Him for infinite imagination, thank Him for hairspray and mascara and jeans if you must.
And then move on from that mirror and see beautiful  all around you, in others.  Go tell someone they’re beautiful and tell them why.  If you don’t see beauty then tell them why Jesus is Beautiful.  Talk about Him.

Attach yourself to Beautiful when you can’t believe He’s attached to you.

When you hear beautiful, wear it.  Be it.

Put it on with your cross and remember the ugly beautiful, the One Story so dangerously beautiful that it saved you from being forever ugly.

Someday, when your husband tells you you are beautiful, believe him.  Believe him because refusing to hear beautiful is calling him a liar.
There will be unlovely days and sweat-pant days and days of acne and bloating and extra pounds.  There will be days when no one says beautiful to you, but won’t you still hear it?
Won’t you listen to the One Who is inside, who created you imago dei and ever lives to display Himself through all His creation?  Through you?

Believe Him because refusing to hear beautiful is calling Him a liar.

Because, really, beauty-full is what you are.  Don’t cover that up.

{And by the way, beautiful is for boys, too.}

The Lost Art of Presentation {It’s Better Than it Looks}

I’ve read The Hidden Art of Homemaking.  I know all about fresh flowers and art work and candles and lovely music.

And I think that’s all great.

But if I had a dollar for every meal that I’ve prefaced with, “It will taste better than it looks,” I could redecorate the whole house.

Somehow, I just miss the whole presentation of it.

My family has gotten good at naming these mystery meals:

  • almost chicken sandwiches
  • What Is It?  AKA, Manna.
  • Oh-No Casserole
  • Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday on Thursday

I make lopsided cakes, not-so-round pizzas, green “Orange Julius”, and I’ve served soup in strawed cereal bowls.  To guests.

But it all tastes good, really.

Suffice it to say, I need to work on my presentation skills.  I need to work on presentation because what I’ve made actually is good, it’s just cut short by the appearance of things.

Who wants to dig in to a meal with questionable results?

I thought about this the other day as I mixed several different leftovers into a meal.  Shelby asked what it was and I said, “It’s kinda like…”.  Not very reassuring.  I need to at least have a name for what I’m serving up.

I thought about the importance of presenting things in a way that was not only appealing, but also true and indicative of the contents.

I wouldn’t put whipped cream on the veggies just to make them look good, and I wouldn’t put the pie in a blender just to make it easier and faster to consume.  Both of those things are good just simply because their ingredients are good.

 But sometimes good things are disguised in bad packaging.

Eventually I was thinking about the gospel.  About all the ways we try to package it up nice and tidy, the ways we manipulate situations to make sure the gospel gets inserted, the way we live like presenting the gospel is uncomfortable.

And I thought about how our presentation, be it style or attitude or just sour character, can turn people off.

We are the presentation of the gospel to the world.  Through nature and logic and miracles and the risen Christ, He reveals His goodness.  And also through dirt-made-image-bearer.  Mankind.  

It’s the grace of God that brings salvation, teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present age (Titus 2:11-12).

Because those things aren’t appealing to everyone, should I therefore tweak the presentation a little, make it more palatable?  Or should I be in-your-face with it and forget tact and respect and love for my neighbor, all in the name of getting the gospel out?

We are the presentation of the gospel.  The aroma of Christ is the stench of death to some, and to others the hope of life (2 Cor. 2:16).

Can I say to someone that it’s better than it looks?  Because it is, of course, but how does it look on me?

Please join in the comments and share your thoughts on presenting the gospel with our lives.

{We are hosting 18 people for dinner Sunday, by the way, and I have no clue what to make.  Something that looks and tastes lovely?}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Staged Life

I don’t always give my best.

Sometimes ‘my best’ is too much work and I settle for doing ‘just enough’ or even ‘maybe later’.  I’ll go to bed with that sink-full of dishes and toppling pile of laundry, with no idea what’s for breakfast and with a lovely, crumb-crusted floor.

Once or twice, I’ve even fallen into bed fully clothed and with un-brushed teeth.  Sorry, honey.

I just thought a little confession would be good.

Someone called and told how guilty she felt for going back to bed that morning.  She thought about all the things  I had probably already accomplished that day, and what a loser she was for snuggling back in.
Funny thing is, I often have the same thoughts about her.
So many times in my day I think she could have done this faster or better.  She probably always knows where things are, and how embarrassed I ‘d be if she opened this cupboard or looked in this shower.
And it’s not just one person, it’s every other woman out there.
I am forever comparing myself.  But I always seem to compare my worst  with their best.  
If only I could take the best of everyone and combine them into one, like some Suzy Homemaker on steroids.

As though someone really does have it all  together, all the time.

You know that those pictures are staged, right?
We take pictures because we want to remember that one time, we did make a beautiful meal for our family and everyone liked it.  Or we want to remember that we do sometimes have fun together and everyone laughs.
Someone said jokingly, “It’s not about having fun.  It’s about the pictures!”.

But having it all together in real life is more illusive, more of a special occasion.

There are those days where everything clicks along, every meal is planned, the house is clean and I even see the bottom of the laundry baskets.  School happens peacefully and the kids play a game together.  My husband walks in to the smell of his favorite dinner, sits down to eat it with his favorite people, and we all have a lovely discussion that is relevant and fruitful.

The trouble is that I expect  the days to always be that way.  And what do expectations get me?

More often, those events don’t all line up on the same day.  Monday I might have all our meals planned.  Tuesday school might go peacefully and the kids might play a game.  Wednesday may be a marathon laundry day, and Thursday we might have a really good discussion at dinner with no bathroom noises, no 5th grade humor, and no fighting over who-sits-where.

But rarely does it all happen in one day.  That would either be exhausting, or a waste of time, or The Cleavers.  Surely there are better things to do than live in a photo shoot.  Is a picture really worth a thousand words?
We live in the real world with real mess-ups and do-overs every morning, and I’m so thankful for that.
My heart’s desire is to honor God and my husband, and that needs to be the driving force behind all I do or don’t do in a day.  They both know my weaknesses and love me anyway.
… walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; – {Col 1:10 NKJV}

Are you stuck comparing yourself with others?  How do you guage your accomplishments – what makes you feel like you’ve done enough for the day?
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Counting all the gifts this week, some of them numbered here:
298. The full moon
299. The fog clearing away in the morning
300. Motivation!
301.  Bailey, thanking me for making her do hard things
302. Bible discussions
303. good friends at the river
304. 3 things that were broken or lost, that are now found or fixed

Five Minute Friday: Story

It’s Friday and Lisa-Jo has given this writing prompt: STORY.  We write for 5 unedited minutes each Friday and you could join us!

STORY

GO

Most of us live so much in our own world, in our own heads, that we miss the story of other people.  We all have story, it’s just that we are so busy living ours that we fail to dig in deep and read the stories of those around us.
Not all of our stories are non-fiction.  Some are fiction we create to cope with what is too real, too painful, too boring, or too unbelievable.
One story happens to us all, though.  We get to choose our part.  We have to choose our part, and the ending is beautiful or devastating.
Jesus enters with His story at some point,  and one way or another, we are forever changed.
I used to read those books as a kid, the ones where you choose your own ending.  I would start over each time and read it with a new ending.
I like the story that doesn’t end.

STOP

The Value of You, Right Where You Are

Already, there is this desire to choose.
Are we born with that?  Do we come from the womb defiant at the choices made for us?
Why did God put me here?  Why am I different?  Maybe I am not supposed to be in this family, in this place.
He’s seven and where did he get these questions?
The not-belonging and the longing for something else, something we know nothing about, all those thoughts started in the garden.
Adoption is not all warm-fuzzy and we never thought it would be.  Sometimes, it is such a clear picture of our life in Christ, of God choosing us and giving us family.
But truly, we have to choose that adoption for ourselves.  It’s the one case where we do choose our Parent, but do we ever really get to choose our place?
He’s seven and he is upset about some discipline handed out, and isn’t that when we all question our place?
So he thinks he belongs somewhere else but he doesn’t see the big picture.
Like the children of Israel longing for Egypt.
I tell Ethan that we couldn’t hold him and love him and laugh with him while he was in India. That we’re all different, with different gifts and personalities and talents, different colored skin and eyes and hair, but God has put us together and our family is perfect this way.
I give him a hug and tell him I love him, because that’s what he really wants.
Do you ever question your place?
Do you possibly mistrust the God Who holds your breath, the One Who preappointed your times and the boundaries of your dwelling? (Acts 17:26)
Do you long to be somewhere bigger, better, more important or more satisfying?
Wherever you are, God is sovereign.  Whatever your struggle, rest in His handling of it.  He sees the biggest picture.
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Counting all the gifts this week, some of them numbered here:
291.  Jacob enjoying the outdoors, and waking up thankful for his bedroom – the deer, the turkeys, the yellow birds at the feeder outside his window
292. our first 7-miler in 7 months
293. hot water and epsom salts, the morning after 7 miles
294. Ethan, the first child up this morning, monopolizing the one-on-one time
295. this verse:
And by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.
~ Acts 13:39
296. children with eyes to see His goodness and to delight in His creation (Jacob calling me upstairs this morning to see the bird in the window, because he knows I love birds!)
297. Sisters making a picnic

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