Wednesday, October 26, 2005


So, I have been going through something incredibly difficult (at least for me) right now. It’s stressful, and emotional and conflicting. Some of you know we have had one of Christopher’s friends living with us. Originally he just appeared having no place to stay, and I figured sure, I’m happy to help him out. I would hope someone would do the same for my son if he was in that position. Well, K was in the Marines, and I assumed he was home before being shipped out. I was wrong. About 4 weeks into this I found out he had been less than honorably discharged and was no longer a Marine. Still, his family had kicked him out, he had no money and no job, and just needed a break to get back on his feet. So he stayed. I knew he had some issues, but they never surfaced in my house. Well it is now apparent that not only does he not have a job, he won’t go look for one and doesn’t want one. He goes to the pool hall all the time. We have found out that he has a gambling problem. So much so that he steals to get money to support the addiction. One item has gone missing from our house, but I have no proof he had anything to do with it, so I keep letting him stay. He needs love and acceptance and a chance to live with a family for awhile. He needs to feel that someone believes in him and is willing to give him another chance. Finally though, last week, after seven weeks, even my son (not exactly the paragon of responsibility) has had it. His comment was, if he had wanted a child he would have had his own….
Anyway. K being here is starting to affect my family adversely. And I am sad. I am also worried, and scared. Knowing more of the things that I now know I am also angry with myself that I have let someone stay here who has emotional problems (and won’t take meds cuz he’s sure he’s not sick, or seek help) and is a possible danger to my kids, especially my girls. But I still can’t put him out. I just can’t. I am not sleeping at night because I worry about keeping my kids safe. I’m sick because I am stressed and overwhelmed. But I just keep thinking about what Jesus would have done. This undoes me every time. I guess it is also a boundary issue – my ability to make wise choices, and say yes and no, but where is that fine line between boundaries and compassion? I just feel so bad for him, so afraid. I can’t bear to put him on the street. It is breaking my heart.
My friend tells me I have the gift of mercy. The gift of Mercy: This gift enables certain Christians to feel exceptional empathy and compassion for those who are suffering so that they devote large amounts of time and energy to alleviate that suffering.
I never realized there was a gift of mercy, or even thought that I might have it if there was. So I decided, because I had no books on the subject to see if there were any quizzes on line on Spiritual Gifts. And I found several, and not believing the results of one (because I really don’t trust these quizzes) took three different ones. Two were from Christian Websites where they try to help you ascertain what gifts you may have. I was very careful and thoughtful as I answered the questions (anywhere from 60 to 100 of them...) On all three the top result was mercy. Wow. I’m not gonna tell you the rest – I feel funny doing that, and it is not really relevant to this post. (But they surprised me too, and were pretty consistent from one quiz to another. If you want to know – e-mail me.)
What I’m saying is that sometimes we don’t even realize the gifts we have - that God has intentionally given us. And apparently we use them anyway. Huh. We just need to follow his lead, and let him work through us showing Christ to others. Will it make any difference that I know I probably have this gift? I don’t know. I will have to think on that a while. Perhaps it was better when I didn’t know so there was nothing to feel prideful about, or have an inflated sense of spirituality. But now that I know I have it, I have to live with it, and work with it, and use it for God’s glory, and to be a blessing and help heal others I come in contact with as I strive to live in the way of the kingdom.
I still don’t know what to do about K. I think I do, but I’m trusting God to show us the way.

Everybody needs to read this book!

Velvet Elvis. I don't even know quite what to say. So why am I blogging about it? Cuz it's one of the best books I have ever read. Very simple yet deceptively so! It's one of those books you read, and it moves fast. But then it rolls around in your brain, and you start thinking about it and its implications and applications and it knocks your socks off! I have learned to take it a little slower, digesting as I go - really digging for deeper understanding of what the author is saying. I have learned so much from Rob Bell in this little book. I can't stop telling people about it - I wish I had a handful just to give away. So if you get a chance, please read it. My hubby and kids are fighting over who gets it next, which is interesting cuz my hubby is a pretty conservative thinker, steeped in evangelical tradition. But he has heard Bell's sermons and really appreciates them, so when he heard the book was by Bell he asked to read it. Since my girls are also wanting to read it (even my 15 year old, who thanks to NOOMA videos thinks Bell is awesome) I just ordered the book on CD for my hubby so he can listed to it as he goes to work. I will be interested to hear his thoughts and reactions. As well as thoughts from any of you as you read it. Cuz you WILL read it.....

Here's an example "If the Rabbi calls you to be his disciple, then he believes you can actually be like him..... A rabbi would only pick a disciple who he thought could actually do what he was doing. Notice how many places in the accounts of Jesus' life he gets frustrated with his disciples. Because they are incapable? No, because of how capable they are. He sees what they could be and could do, and when they fall short, it provokes him to no end. It isn't their failure that's the problem; it's their greatness. They don't realize what they are capable of!" Now think about the application in our life, as we are called to follow Jesus! WOW!

or this: "Somewhere in you is the you whom you were made to be. We need you to be you. We don't need a second anybody. We need the first you."

OK - just go get the book. Those are just a taste of the good stuff you will find in it!

Monday, October 24, 2005


The following song is a pretty accurate description of where I am right now in my life. Where I've been and where I'm going. I'm learning..... slowly, and the hard way of course, but still - I'm learning!

Nichole Nordeman

The gate is wide
The road is paved in moderation
The crowd is kind and quick to pull you in
Welcome to the middle ground
You're safe and sound and
Until now it's where I've been

'Cause it's been fear that ties me down to everything
But it's been love, Your love, that cuts the strings

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I am small
And I speak when I'm spoken to
But I am willing to risk it all
I say Your name
Just Your name and I'm ready to jump
Even ready to fall...

Why did I take this vow of compromise?
Why did I try to keep it all inside?

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

I've never known a fire that didn't begin with a flame
Every storm will start with just a drop of rain
But if you believe in me
That changes everything
So long, I'm gone

So long status quo
I think I just let go
You make me want to be brave
I wanna be brave
The way it always was
Is no longer good enough
You make me want to be brave
Brave, brave

Saturday, October 22, 2005

OK Christine.....

First of all - my favorite room.
Not too difficult. Let's see if I can describe it. Rough planks for a floor, painted a light sage greenish color. Slightly warped and cracked with age. A glass topped table surrounded by four comfy cushioned chairs. In the corner a fountain bubbles and splashes, soothing, relaxing sounds on a stressful day. Three large terra cotta pots filled with vibrant snapdragons inhabit a corner of this room. In a riot of colors. Hanging plants frame the sliding glass door along the wall. The ceiling is the bluest blue on some days, and the puffiest white on others. The light is also dependent on the day - brightest bright - golden and heat producing today. Tomorrow soft and hazy, or backlit and gentle. Some days the room is warm and still. Some days gentle breezes caress the soul. Surrounding the wooden floor is a carpet of the greenest, softest green. Cool and inviting. Two of the walls are brown topped with green reaching for the heavens. Birds chatter, insects hum, squirrels scamper and butterflies flit. It's a room for reflection, for reading, for just sitting and doing nothing. It's a room for intimate conversation, yet a room to play catch with the puppy. It's a cozy room, yet wide open with expectation and promise. It's a God room, a contemplative room, and a be still room. It's private, yet it knows no bounds. It's welcoming and inspiring. It's a place to dance and enjoy life. My favorite room is my deck/backyard.

Now, as for my comment on your post from your blog that you said I should put on my blog - OK. I will. But I'm too lazy to rewrite it, so it's just gonna be a cut and paste...

Chrissy - I think you missed what I said... "Christian" for 40 years, but just recently getting serious about what it means to walk with Christ. To live the kingdom life, with all that that entails. Yeah. It took me many years to even begin to start being where I shoulda been many years ago. I do remember once about 15 years ago being a sponsor at a high school retreat in Colorado, and as the speaker was challenging the kids I realized how pathetic I was. He gave them a paper with a tree on it, with lots of branches. And in the tree in various stages of climbing, sitting, sleeping, being on the ground, were children. And his challenge was to pick a child that represented where you were in your walk with God. I remember being really convicted, that I was the kid that had started the climb, but stopped and was sitting on the bottom-most branch swinging my leg and letting the world go by. This memory just came to me today. I can't believe I have let this much more time go by just sitting on that damn branch! It occurs to me that I even wrote a poem about it back then, but I couldn't tell you what I did with it. I'll have to try to find it to see what I was truly thinking that day. Anyway. All that to say that yes, I have been a believer for over 40 years. But it's not the quantity my friend, it's what I did with it, and in that respect I have failed miserably. My wake up call this year was painful, but necessary. Hopefully I won't just be sleeping on a higher branch next time I have to evaluate....
and your response: (I hope you don't mind....)

I did indeed see your full sentence-
at the time I read it ....... and recalled my own lack of achievement in my spiritual Walk for so many years, I made the instantaneous deduction (perhaps wrong) that most of us do dawdle along the Way to His feet; we don't seem to make the progress or put in the effort we feel we shoulda!

But I feel strongly that it's better to be sitting on any branch in God's tree than be wandering around, avoiding the tree altogether.

Tis better, in my opinion, to be an earnest but flailing Christian, flapping around or taking naps, than to not be a Follower of Christ at all.

So, I felt it deserved some respect, that you had been a Christian for so long- even if you felt you sat it out, too much of that time.

and my further response to this:
"But I feel strongly that it's better to be sitting on any branch in God's tree than be wandering around, avoiding the tree altogether."
Yes, I do agree. But for too long I used it as an excuse. I was "saved" what more did I need to do? I wandered aimlessly about, doing what I wanted, not thinking about what I should be doing, who I should be loving, helping, befriending, feeding. Not thinking about anybody else but me and my life. Not asking how I fit in the story God is telling. I was more concerned with how God fit into the story I was telling. So yeah, while I agree with you that at least being in the tree is a good thing it can also be a phariseeical (sorry I just made up a word....)type end at best...unless we get off our butts and begin to climb....

There ya go. It's now on my blog. Probably I could have reworked it and made it more "post" worthy, but I'm way too lazy today. Especially after being sick. I have to conserve whatever brain cells are firing through all the cotton in my head in order to survive this day. Anyway, thanks for all your encouragement Christine!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Christine tagged me again.....

OK , Christine asked me to list 20 random things about myself. It's hard to find anything remotely interesting..... but here it is anyway.

1. I played flute in the high school band.
2. I never had a computer class in my life, but I am the level one tech person in my elementary school, run the computer lab, and I use computers all the time.
3. I've never been in Vermont
4. I am 5'10" well I was, but I'm shrinking a bit as each year passes :)
5. Age is not a issue for me when I choose my friends. Wait, I don't choose them, it just kinda happens. God given, just right. I have good friends 20 years younger and 10 years older. Way cool!
6. I'd rather be the passenger, not the driver.
7. I have my best conversations with God in the bathtub!
8. I have trouble setting boundaries with friends and co-workers i.e saying NO.
9. I am a sun person. It has a healing effect on me. It makes me cheerful.
10. I have trouble finding even 10 things about me you might find interesting..much less 20!
11. I hate a dirty house, but I hate cleaning the house.
12. I have been a questioner all my life. Pat answers don't cut it.
13. I almost died when my first child was born. I still had two more kids.
14. I'm still struggling to find out who I really am, and what God wants me to be.
15. I am a control freak. I can't bear to ever be out of control of my life.
16. Because of that I do not drink.
17. Because of that I struggle to let God lead.
18. I'm a bit rebellious.
19. I hate shoes and socks
20. I would do anything for a friend...

Anne, Tammy - how about you? Mike? (if you're not too busy...)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Grace defined?

This weekend I was at a women's retreat with my church. I really was not looking forward to going at all. Sometimes those events can be pretty much a "let's get with it cheerleading session" for God. I'll admit - I didn't have a real good attitude going in. We had a speaker/singer from Atlanta, Dr. Kezia McNeal. I must say, she ended up getting through my cynicism to my soul in a lot of what she said. I found myself wanting to be a cheerleader for her - she was so dead on in what she spoke about. The topic was grace, and how to "DO" grace and how to "BE" grace. Wonderful, thought provoking sessions. At our one small group break out session I was fortunate to be assigned to the same group she was. After the session she and I spent about a half hour talking about what it means to be a Christ follower. How we so often miss the real purpose. We talked about love, grace, authenticity, getting beyond rules and legalism to principles and why we believe what we believe, and how in our spiritual life we have to be allowed to think, and ask the hard questions without being judged. We talked about music and how it works in and through us. It was just a much needed time of meaningful conversation with someone who was excited about the kingdom life. That conversation made the price of the retreat worth it - big time. I felt like I came away with another wonderful friend.
In the last full group session our assignment was to write down what grace was. That's a hard assignment. Grace is so many things. I began letting it roll around in my mind. It was still elusive. But I had to give it my best shot. So this is what I came up with:
Grace is God taking joy in us. It is his unconditional acceptance of us where we are. Grace flows and fills the cracks of the wounded soul. It is constant in that God gives it, and the end result is the same, yet it approaches us all and fills us in its own unique way - meeting individual needs. Grace is daddy - picking up the baby who falls as he is learning to walk and in pride and love with gentleness encourages him to try yet again. Grace is safety that embraces our insecurities. Grace is quite simply God.

So, that was the best I could do, what would you come up with?

Friday, October 14, 2005

embracing doubt...

Skepticism is good. Take Thomas for example - usually called doubting Thomas although he should probably be more accurately called Thomas the skeptic. I find what Mark Buchanan says about Thomas very helpful:

"He doubted not to excuse his unbelief, but to establish robust belief. He doubted so that his belief might be based on something more than rumor and wishful thinking...he doubted order to find a firm path out and into the holy wild...the holy wild is where we have driving and haunting doubts, God hungry doubts that pull us to our knees, force us to the Word, make us wrestle all night and not let go until He blesses us.

The point is, doubt is not a bad thing. We all need healthy doses of it to get us where we need to be. Doubt causes us to dig, to examine our faith, to ask hard questions and accept hard answers. I find that faith cycles for me - believing and doubting, taking hold of things and letting them go. It's a constant struggle. But each bout brings deeper understanding. I need to embrace those wrestling moments, the tugging, pushing, stretching, and pulling. I need to try to maneuver myself into new ways of thinking and doing things. I want to push the limits and know I'm safe in my questioning - that God will win, but he'll let me try to figure it out. I want to experience those driving, haunting, God hungry doubts - painful as they may be. I want my faith to grow and be real. That God cares enough about me to bring me to my knees and then allow me to wrestle within his safe embrace is an awesome thing.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Cairos' New Game

If you click on these pictures you can see them slightly larger. This is our crazy Cairo - doing what he does best - annoying us. With love of course. He has learned to go over to the TV cabinet, get our attention, and then throw the ball under it. At which time he tries furiously to retrieve it, knowing full well he can't. Then the whining commences, and the sad puppy eyes - until of course, silly humans that we are, we feel sorry for him and go rescue the ball. After about the fourth time we caught on - he really knows what he is doing, and this is all a game to get us to respond to him. What a creative manipulator. Reminds me of a baby who throws things off the high chair tray over and over again to see if we respond. And we usually do. It's bad enough that I'm gullible enough to fall prey to a humans manipulation - but a dog's? I really need to develop some boundaries.........

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What does Ellis Island have to do with it?

I was helping my daughter do research for a school project. We had out all of our family records and genealogies. Her project was for history, and their teacher was trying to prove a point that the majority of people's ancestors came through Ellis Island. No way. Not this family. Never mind the fact that she has to have a family tree done by Friday, she was determined to prove her lineage predated Ellis Island. And she knew in at least two lines it did. As we worked on it, we discovered that without exception, every branch of my mother's family - the Varners, Keiths, Simmons, Wilfongs, Robinsons, Marshalls, Stumps, Stouts, Hughes, Piatts, McVaneys and Sniders were all US citizens prior to the Revolutionary War. In fact George Washington camped on Michael Stump's land and recorded that fact in his diary. And the coolest ancestor on this side of the family, to my kids, is Chief Powhatan, the father of Pocahontas. So she would be our however many great aunt. Yeah, I'd say the roots run deep on my maternal side. And to our surprise we also found a huge Pennsylvania Dutch clan on this side too. Hmmmm. German, Scottish and English.
So then we tried my paternal side. Well, the kids have always known we go back to Stephen Hopkins who came to America on the Mayflower. I grew up knowing that - and we always had documentation. It was a fun fact to share with people. So yeah good ole Steve came on the Mayflower and lo and behold my other side of the family ancestors were native American and already here....
I digress.
In all the research we can only find one - one lone soul that we believe may have gone through Ellis Island. She arrived on the Brighton at the Port of NY in 1821. We'll have to check that out. As for the rest of this side of the family, we learned that they were mostly Mennonite or Pennsylvania Dutch, a lot of them residing in Lancaster County Pa. (How much more Amish could my maiden name - "Lapp" be? ) And we found one immigrant from England who was Mormon. And at least one branch of the family was Quaker. English and German this side of the family.
So, yeah. My family has been here forever. Pretty cool to think that we have been here since before we were officially a country. Probably of no real import to me today, but fun to think about none-the-less.
And my husband's family - all German. All Amish/Mennonite. Most settled in Holmes County Ohio - which is the second largest Amish settlement in the US. Didn't come through Ellis Island either. Odd to think we could maybe have the same branch of a family tree somewhere.
Interesting to realize that our Pennsylvania Dutch heritage runs so deep and encompasses so much of both sides of our family. My kids have an awesome lineage.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Subconscious wanderings.....

It's 1:00 a.m. Kim is wandering the house.
Cody is wandering the house.
My mind is apparently wandering too - only it isn't staying in the house...
tomorrow (today?) is weighing in, beckoning me to play, refusing to be ignored.
Hamster, get off the wheel - let the light in my mind go off, the analyzing grind to a halt. I'm tired.
Though apparently not sleepy.
Flip, flop, tick, tock, back, forth, up, down, toss, turn, right left.

Tent in the road - yet amazingly I thought to secure the tent door against intruders.
House walls cracking, rent from top to bottom in quarter inch cracks.
Windows with Plexiglas panes, holes pecked in them by an unseen persistence.
Computers with security issues, can't disconnect from cyberspace.
Lights that go on in empty rooms, man in a bathroom in fatigues with a shotgun. Shock, fear...
Mr. Sauter saying it'll be ok,
a manipulator from my past appearing in my present, introductions all around...
hot, cold, toss, turn, tick, tock
My old house falling to pieces, (how can I rid myself of it now, have I waited too long?)
My new house empty and lonely,
fear, shame, back, forth, 1:30, 1:45, 2:00, tick, tock, anger ,fear, toss , turn, open, shut, pray, write
tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock........

Thursday, October 06, 2005

It's about the journey....

So, last weekend my friend and I jumped in the car and took off on a road trip.
Life just got to be too much, and we just pulled up and left on Saturday morning. Drove three hours just to spend a few hours at a scarecrow festival, antique shop, eat - you know what I mean. But the destination wasn't the reason we went. It was the going. The drive. The journey. We spent 6 hours on the road - yep, 6, talking about life. Hers, mine, questions, concerns, messiness, struggles, the past, the present and how overwhelming life can be. It was a very intimate conversation, and I will cherish it always. We laughed, we cried. We were vulnerable with each other, and we are now pretty intertwined in each others hearts. It's a God thing. It's a good thing. We came back home, not having solved any problems, but having someone to enter into them with us. How cool is that? The point? I don't know. I guess we all need someone. Someone who is safe - no matter what we say. We all need to get away and rest. And it's not about the destination - it's about the journey; what we do now on this earth as we travel, how we live, what our passions and responsibilities are now, not what the ultimate reward is. It's about the joy in the journey. We all need to wander with a friend who listens even if they have no answers. We all need someone to believe in us when we aren't able to believe in ourselves. I still feel overwhelmed. I still feel beat down, tired, frustrated; but it's different now. Someone is walking beside me as I precious is that?

Monday, October 03, 2005

5 idiosyncrasies

So Christine tagged me and now I guess I have to come clean. Hmmmm

1. I hate shoes and socks. This from a girl that lives in Northern Illinois. Winters can be quite troublesome to say the least!
2. I am the bath queen. Give me a tub of hot water and bubblebath, maybe some candles, and I am in heaven.....or maybe I just feel that way because it has become such a God time to me. Time alone to reflect and pray, maybe argue - but just be still with Him.
3. I love music, I need music, I am music. It's all about being the music. It brings joy from sadness, it brings perspective, it grabs my soul and doesn't let go. When music is taken away I feel like I can't breathe.
4. I have a mind stuffed with trivia. Seriously. I don't even know where all those tidbits of knowledge come from. I surprise even myself with the unique things I know. If only I wasn't so terrified and worried about impressions I'd probably do pretty well on a game show!
5. I am an e-mail junkie. For those of you who have seen Donnie Darko, I am the high tech version of the old lady crossing the dangerous highway to check her mail every 5 minutes even though she knows good and well there is nothing there. There's always hope - or the front end of a truck... :)

I tag Tammy and Anne

Unconditional support of a recommendation by your pastor or deacon board.

While I see some validity to this, I think this is what is getting a lot of churches in so much trouble. The danger is after while pastors and deacons start to think they are God, and the rest of us begin to believe we are bad Christians for bucking the system. We don't have faith. We don't trust the leaders God has given us. I am so trying to break this cycle, at least in my life. In love, with respect, but with intelligence and reasoning. I don't like being perceived as a trouble maker, or not being on board, or not trusting our leadership. I don't want to always be swimming upstream. But I have finally found my voice, and I need to use it. It's hard, and scary. Just being brave enough to say something that I know is going to get me in trouble, or at the very least is going to make people wonder about me is a whole new thing for me. Suddenly in the eyes of my pastor and church members I'm not playing like a good Christian.... I obviously don't understand how it's done. The thing is, I think I am a pretty fair person. Pretty rational. Pretty willing to listen and consider all the opinions. To hear others out, and see where they are coming from. I'm usually pretty agreeable. I think I'm usually pretty objective. So when I disagree, and get labeled as not being a team player, or get labeled as the one who disagrees, the negative one, the one who is hard to get along with, the critical one, it hurts. And my confidence takes a huge hit. Just another facet of the new me that I am uncomfortable with, but I'm finding I can't be silent. Even when I don't want to speak, I find my hand in the air with an opinion. Is there anything about this new way of thinking/living, this new person I am now, that I will ever find easy or comfortable, or at the very least get used to?