December 25, 2011
Perched on the couch, my 9 year old, witty, middle child in her driest voice responded, "It's everyone's favorite." So true. Who are those people who actually do not like the Christmas season? I am NOT one of those people who complain that Christmas starts too early. I need every minute of the 2 month holiday stretch to prepare. I barely completed the shopping this year.
But every year, I have worked at keeping Jesus the center of the season. I used words like effort and working on it. This year, I repented of that approach. I wholeheartedly abandoned that effort. Instead, we just flowed in the Spirit, focusing on God this month just as we do every month of the year. We did not abandon Jesus' birthday; we abandoned the effort of it all.
I do value intentionality in my walk with Christ. Without it, very little progress would ever. . .progress. But this year, I noticed we really weren't working very hard to keep this season and its activities about Jesus. Worshiping and thinking about Jesus are already daily practices of ours. Christmas is the Grand Celebration of that lifestyle. We are throwing parties for the One who is in our daily conversation and permanently in our hearts.
So, I admit: this is a fun place to be. As a family, we aren't working on it this year. We are just enjoying and experiencing the season.
Maybe I just didn't have time to try to seem spiritual.
Have you noticed that I have not posted to this site since September? Well, I am now working full time. I am currently teaching high school English, Government/Economics, and Journalism at the Christian school where my children attend. While I actually have more material and direct ministry opportunities than I have time to record, I see now how priorities must shift when time is over-committed. Yes, I did buy a last minute Christmas gift at CVS Pharmacy this year. That's a first for me.
No more effort. No more working at it. We simply pressed pause on our normal schedule, turned up the volume on the carols, and are taking 6 weeks to celebrate the birthday of the Savior, the One we worship 365 days a year.
September 3, 2011
But this summer, all dates were tentatively entered. My husband Dan's job status was changing, and we were not sure if we might have to move to another city or state even. I was eagerly preparing for a new job, knowing that we would both need jobs and that fact might involve a move. If the iPhone calendar were on paper, I would have written our travel plans in pencil. Did I mention our life was a bit tentative? We kept praying and asking. Even without a plan, we maintained our peace. This is not usually my thing.
In late July, just two weeks before school would start for the kids and me, I was praying and heard the Lord say, "Fear Not." It was a calming voice that had authority to give that advice. It sounded familiar. It also made me realize that I might have good reason to be afraid, but I must instead choose not to be. Big scary circumstances are not my thing.
I could picture Biblical scenes of large glowing angels delivering messages like this. Instead of a plan, my prayers were answered with a "Wait" and a "Fear Not." If any person in my life had said, "Don't worry," I would still have worried. But when the God that loves me and has rescued me many times now gave me His reassurance, I knew that life would continue and something good was in the works. That's my thing.
Two weeks after school started for the kids and me, my husband's job status was better than ever. I can tell you that the privilege of talking with the God of the Universe is an amazing comfort in times of trouble. Hearing His still small voice is my thing.
August 9, 2011
Shh! Don't tell my kids, but I am a bit of a pushover. Don't tell my mom, but she is a total pushover as a grandmother.
Occasionally I have to punish one of those cute Crawford kids. I know how to do what I know has to be done, but I would love to skip to the hug part and bypass the whole yucky law enforcement part. Unfortunately for the pushover part of me, I have grown in the Lord and grown up as a parent, I have seen first hand that obedience is paramount. It starts with me obeying God in every little thing throughout my day. I am called to obedience to the Lord within my friendships, my marriage, and my professional life. And when the Lord instructs me on appropriate parenting, it is imperative for those that I love that I just go ahead and follow through. Those cute Crawford kids need me to obey God in my own life and as a Spirit filled parent, making decisions that affect them. That includes bringing an unpopular verdict sometimes.
Recently one of our children was experiencing selective hearing about basic instructions from me. "Mom, can I play with this?" "No, we're leaving in a minute." That cute kid ignored me and spread out said toys anyway.
Drat! Now, I have a choice to make. Do I let it go and move on with the day in peace? Or do I correct this problem? Well, to be honest, I was having a perfectly pleasant day overflowing with grace and love, and I just plain wanted peace. I wanted to move forward and offer, yet another gentle, verbal reminder about doing what you are told.
Suddenly I remembered that the Lord showed me years ago that I was not supposed to parent emotionally. When our oldest was a toddler,she was an easy, cooperative kid. But when, on occasion, she did not obey, I did not take it well. I was heartbroken that she did not want to please me. The conflict within me began. Thankfully, the Lord soon showed me that discipline could not be based on my mood. It was not to be about keeping me happy. Mom's having a good day; everyone gets warnings. Mom's having a hard day; everyone loses TV for a month.
Please don't think that I am claiming to be perfectly fair in how and when kids are punished. I am always seeking, and I have often been blinded by the cuteness of a child. At this house, we often show grace when a child has been expected to behave way past mealtime or bedtime. But the lesson for me in 1999- when the Lord first revealed it- was that no matter what needed to be done: it wasn't about me. That child's behavior was not about me. Parents needed to do God's will in that situation, not take things personally.
Oh boy! I did not want to call and cancel the fun activity that this kid had planned with friends. I did not want to ruffle any feathers or create a headache for another family. And yet, I knew that minor rebellion was still rebellion. I knew that this kid with a very cute face was also not responding as she should. I knew that I had the Holy Spirit nudge to stand strong and be firm. So, after some crying, a claim about a stomach ache, and an elaborate picture drawn of her broken heart, we moved forward with the reality that actions have reactions. Choices have consequences, and this kid was not going on the sleepover.
Each family has to establish its own standard and its own boundary lines. We start with the Word. We apply it to the little things, those "harmless" areas of compromise, in our own lives. We experience a renewal of our minds. We are slowly transformed as people and as parents; our own closeness with the Lord will lead to the boldness and strength needed in the moment.
Ring! My mom called, and I told her my plight. She supported me, and she agreed to pray for my family. Feeling strong, I continued to pray for wisdom and for the cute faced rebel.
Thirty minutes later, my pushover mom left a voicemail for me: "Leigh, I changed my mind. This kid has such a cute face. Maybe you should let it pass."
I laughed and exclaimed, "Et tu, Brute?"*
* From William Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar" when the emperor is betrayed by his friend Marcus Brutus. "You, too, Brutus?"
July 25, 2011
The camera is amazing. I take pictures and videos and instantly email them to the grandparents. This photo project was often postponed until I could get home to upload pictures. Half of the time, that never actually happened. Let me know if I owe you a picture from some event we attended together. I'll get right on that.
That smart little phone is improving my integrity. I can now instantly accomplish the things that people ask of me, and therefore keep my word before life intereferes. In May, the FaceTime capability on the iPhone4 allowed me to see my newborn nephew Ryan for the first time. That video chat melted the miles for this aching aunt.
Add to the list that I can listen to worship music on the iPod feature, and I have a solid case that the iPhone has improved my life in so many ways. Last night, I accidentally left my phone at home for a few hours. I was suprised at how many times I reached for it to check something or send a quick email to someone. Prior to owning this phone, my phones were always hand me downs from my husband. I was often sporting last year's coolest new technology, but without a data plan, I could not surf the internet or check my email. As you can tell, I am a fan now.
All my boasting is in the Lord. (I heart the Apostle Paul.)This post is not intended to brag on Apple or smartphones in general, but I would like to recommend to smart phone owners: YouVersion, the Bible application. Currently, I am reading through the Old Testament, a project I have needed to tackle for quite some time, using the YouVersion app on my iPhone. The thrill of looking forward to checking my daily Bible reading plan that I can access wherever I am, whenever I can. My lifestyle and my schedule is subject to the needs of four other people, and that is on a slow day. In August, that number will rise dramatically when I am working full time. As I am reading through Genesis and Isaiah, I often select the option to have the passages read aloud to me. A deep, soothing voice reads that passage from the NIV, and then I often re-read it in several other versions to grasp the full meaning of what I am studying.
In an effort to post about the blessings in my life, I must highlight God's Word. I am so thankful to have Bibles on every flat surface in this house. I am having so much fun, exploring the Word through YouVersion on an Apple all day long.
July 22, 2011
But now I do. We all bring books when we visit. We laugh and play games and watch movies and then escape to quiet places to read. It's so peaceful. I have learned to love that option. And our kids understand that. They know how to unplug from media and from conversations to escape and enjoy quiet reading.
Jesus often found a quiet place to pray. He separated Himself to talk to the Father. He stepped away. That is a great practice for me as well. As a socialite, I require quiet to read and to write and to pray.
As I prepare for the school year as an English teacher, my thoughts are often on reading and writing. And I am often praying. My prayers include thankfulness for my mother, the writer, who transformed my brown paper lunch bags into keepsakes. (One day I will share those poems, riddles and stick people cartoons with you.) She has written volumes of letters to me, exhorting me to march forward with the Lord. Her personal testimony has been shared with many seekers, and her original phonics songs have helped many learn to read. Her gifts and communication skills are unsurpassed.
More heartfelt gratitude to God for my husband, the writer. Dan is a songwriter and a quick wit. He can weave impressive dialogue for a screenplay. He can concisely share something in passing about a Scripture that he recently read. His small observation will change my perspective for years. His creativity is contagious.
My 89 year old granddad writes new poems every week; almost everyday he calls my parents to read his latest piece. A lifetime of wisdom or a moment of silliness may come forth in his rhymes, but his experience is valuable.
His precious late wife once told me that poetry was challenging work. Grandmother taught me that poets had to make each word do the job of several other words as well. She fine tuned her daughters' and my works so that we could be proud of our accomplishments. Her diligence was admirable.
The Lord is dropping hints about what I should share with my classes this year. My hope is to share the gifts that were kindly given to me: a quiet place to learn and think, communication skills, freedom to be creative, wisdom, and the diligence to finish what you start.
July 3, 2011
Oh, the joys of work life. One of our favorite family anecdotes is when my brother David graduated from college and began working at his first job in Atlanta. One weekend, while visiting with our Mobile, Ala. family, our 7 year old nephew reminded him "that you better wash your hands in the restroom now that you are an employee." It makes me laugh to think how many times he probably read that sign and misunderstood its meaning.
[energizing and creating in you the power and desire],
Over the past dozen years as a full time mom, I have frequently worked part time jobs as well. Eight years ago, I became ministry- minded. The Holy Spirit nudged me to start writing and sharing devotionals that could encourage other moms. Hosting play and pray dates was my favorite part, I think. Three years ago, Dan and I home schooled the girls. That year, we toured the Southeast for me to speak and lead Encouragement Events for the friends of our friends. Writing workbooks that complemented live events was fruitful. Devoted Living Media continues, but is primarily a website ministry at present.
both to will and to work
At the end of April 2011, I accepted a six week substitute teaching job at our daughters' school. Something amazing happened to me. I fell in love with teaching. Let me qualify that statement: I fell in love with this age group, at that school, working for that principal. When that principal offered me a full time job at that school with that age group (high school) for this new year, I joyfully accepted.
for His good pleasure
So, my pursuit of a corporate marketing position has been detoured, and I'm peaceful about it. Dan and I had already planned for me to return to work this year. My resume was posted on Monster.com. My inbox was filled with job listings in my area. This family was almost ready for its full time mom to return to the marketplace. Well, one kid was crying about it, because she admittedly does not like change of any kind.
and satisfaction and delight.
All three kids were already registered to be in school together this year: William in K-4, Charlotte in 3rd grade, and Julia in 8th grade. We now understand that God planned for me to be there too.
- Philippians 2:13 from the Amplified Bible
June 7, 2011
His cry was "Repent and be baptized!"
He was challenging people to "turn away." Wow. This was a hard message for many people to understand. But for those that "had ears to hear," it was a clear opportunity for hope and freedom. You can turn away. You can start again. You can leave your old life and be made new again.
As I have studied the Gospel of John with my students and watched the powerful DVD series by the same name over the past few weeks, I have re-discovered the amazing offer that John brought. He was preparing people for the Messiah's arrival. He was a guy who did not blend in with the religious crowd. He confronted the idea of looking good on the outside and having a heart of stone hidden within.
When I feel offended at John's sermons, I am realizing that I am trying to hold onto something that I need to turn away and out of my life. So, today, with you, sweet friends, I repent. I want to turn away from discouragement, pride, fear, and some very old hurt feelings. I want to dip back into that river and stand up clean and fresh and new.
May 23, 2011
April 18, 2011
March 14, 2011
April 20, 2010
Matthew 11:20-21: Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been perfomed, because they did not repent. Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Once we've seen miracles, we are not permitted to clap and cheer and return to our old life as if the show has ended. Jesus is not a showman. The only acceptable response to signs and wonders is change. Repentance is that change.
It's so easy to take the gift and lose the receipt and forget its value. But Jesus does not allow this. Once we have seen the price and grasped the height and depth of his love and sacrifice for us, we need to respond with faith in the next crisis. We need to stand and believe the next time and the next time. We need to remember.
He is not a showman. He is a vineyard owner, looking to produce fruit. Our growth in this area of "faith" is fruit. Our hope in Him and our trust in His protection is fruit. Our understanding of miracles is fruit.
Once we have seen miracles, woe to us that might forget. Whoa!
March 7, 2011
April 19, 2010
The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
If we stop reading after the first sentence, we will miss the point here. I was once taught that this verse proves that everything that ever happens is God's timing and God's will. I now understand that this verse is explaining why we are still waiting for the return of Jesus. He delays so that more generations will know Him and spend eternity with Him.
I want this brand of patience with others, Lord. Help me to release my demanding, frantic timetable and gather more people in my net. To drag a wide net and pull in more. . .To slow down and be patient with people, who are stuck .
Because of some doctrine or debate or decision or disappointment.
I repent for hurrying past needs. I repent of impatience with those who are stuck.
March 5, 2011
February 26, 2011
I am the wife,
Of the love of my life;
And the love of my life. . .
I have loved him,
More than forty years;
And I love him. . .
What's the secret way,
I'm sure you will say;
To make love stay?
We prayed for the joy.
Got a girl and two boys;
And a ninth grandchild. . .
On the way.
When we are in the tall weeds,
Because he disagrees;
We get down on our knees. . .
It's time to forgive.
We go to the Word,
Best advice we've ever heard;
It's in front of the curve. . .
On how to live.
I say, "You go first,"
He offers the reverse.
We hold to the verse. . .
The last shall be first.
February 14, 2011
You warned me not to fall too hard.
You played it cool.
You played it smart.
I knew I loved you and told you so,
But I had to wait
For your love to grow.
I never waited for anything,
But I patiently listened
To you play and sing.
You warned me not to fall too hard.
I played it cool.
I played it smart.
Faithful and thoughtful everyday,
You were so real
Each time you prayed.
You were so careful with my heart.
I waited for words.
I prayed it smart.
You said the words and bought the ring.
You wrote our song.
No more waiting.
February 12, 2011
To me, you are the sweetest wife,
And to my heart, eternal life.
You hold my heart between each beat,
And love is there, when our lips meet.
Your hair is brown, your eyes are too
And Dear, your favorite color's blue
Each little thing I like so much
Is made outstanding by your touch.
Each day is spent in thoughts of you
And then at night my dreams come true
At first I see your smiling face
And then I feel your fond embrace.
February 10, 2011
Your life together is like a beautiful mosaic picture,
Each piece through the years is unique and special.
There are memories still sweet on your mind
And there are times that you've had that you'd rather not find.
In 50 years, love has shown you great things,
From seaside travels, Rocky Mountains to a cool autumn breeze.
The frequent beach trips and family affairs,
Your love and example showed us all how deeply you cared.
A gentle mother's touch and friendship that stands up through time,
All your daughters, granddaughters, sons and grandsons are proud to call you mine.
As a dad you believed in the best we can do,
We've always felt love and admired by you.
As years tick by on your life clocks,
Your foundation of love and faith is a solid rock.
Marriage matters and you've taught us well,
To cherish and remember our family, our friends and our heritage to tell.
Through hard times and joyful times your lives are a great example to us,
Precious moments are captured and remembered because each piece is a must.
Pieces of love,
Pieces of family,
To love and to carry.
Hold this time close and dear to your heart,
Now celebrate life- everyday-each and every part.
With all my love and thankfulness for two wonderful,
loving, giving and very special parents at the celebration
of their 50th Wedding Anniversary, Orlando, Florida, May 2007
Love always, Diane
February 8, 2011
My heart -shaped birthday cakes,
Fashioned by her hands.
Hoping my feet looked like hers,
When we squished our toes in the sand.
Her voice, melodic and comforting,
As she read or sang to me,
Memories of my own dear Mother,
Remain strength to me.
I could never get enough of her words,
Though they freely flowed to me.
She was just the kind of mother
That I hoped someday to be.
Never could I imagine,
Being able to set her free.
She was my mother,
A wealth of wisdom to me.
How like her to have prepared me
When I was so very young,
Sharing with me the answer
To a question that would come.
"I won't be here," she declared
"When you need me most,
But our Jesus will remain with you,
Through His Holy Ghost."
"I with Him and you with me,
Then you with Him and me,
And then, of course, together,
"Don't you cry, Charlotte Ann,"
I can still hear her say,
"You must not be sad,
On my glorious heavenly day!"
I did cry; she knew I would.
But soon His Spirit reigned.
And sadness bowed to the joyful promise,
That I would be with her again.
What a gift she gave to me,
I pray my children see;
That I love them. . .all of them,
The way my mother loved me!
February 6, 2011
For Christian moms of any age.
Hardworking women and wives,
Though we can't all boast of organized lives.
Don't we treasure those productive days
When we overhear our husband's praise?
When grateful children bless our names
And God's love we can fully claim?
Let me confess that if truth were shared:
I've had some rough patches here and there.
On those days, I cling to a different list
It's filled with love notes I almost missed.
The truth is I'm loved even when I fail:
When we're out of milk or I've misplaced the mail.
The missive in I Corinthians 13:7
Offers me encouragement directly from heaven.
As a young bride, I did not have a clue
How much protecting one girl could do
My husband, my children, my friends in need,
"Love always protects" was for me to read.
Trade insecurity and jealousy here
This version of love is free and clear.
God started love and He shared it with us.
Here we learn that "love always trusts."
When stress and strife have stolen the fun
God replants love that was torched in the sun
"Love always hopes" to be realigned
Remember this is possible with His design.
Has commitment become just a sentence to serve?
Are you not enjoying this part of the curve?
Each season of life needs His power to thrive.
"Love always perseveres" and brings new life.
Those Proverbs 31 women are great, no doubt
But Love Chapter women make me shout!
God directs us to loves that last.
He adds the "always" to any cast.
It always protects,
and always perseveres.
I Corinthians 13:7
February 2, 2011
I want to credit my blessings to something wise that I have done.
Or to the wonderful protection that I was offered as a young girl.
Or even trace it back to that early age when I first heard the Lord speak to me.
But I can't.
I can't claim any of those reasons as I sit in His presence.
Because I know what love looks like and feels like.
And this is love all right.
This could be nothing else.
It's not a reward for doing well.
I've had those.
It's not an effect from a great cause.
I've experienced that.
It's not arriving at a destination from using Holy Spirit GPS.
(That is, by the way, 100% reliable.)
This life of mine:
This pair of parents,
And that whole lot of extended family,
Proves that I am loved by God.
Yes, I know I am loved!
This is what love looks like and feels like.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,
that we should be called the children of God!
And that is what we are!"
I John 3:1
January 6, 2011
My New Year's resolution was to NOT have one. I was determined to NOT write a post about NEWness. I was NOT going to talk about fresh starts or resolutions. I was going to pray and then write whatever made the most sense.
But when I woke up this morning after hitting the snooze button 3 times, I heard a grouchy voice. It was my own.
This morning, I had two clear choices.
1. Spend some time in worship, cranking music that could set the right tone for my day.
-OR- 2. Make sarcastic comments all day.
Where does that come from? Some mornings, I just know. I hear the thoughts in my head before I have even spoken to anyone. The whole house is still quiet; everyone is sleeping. My thoughts are mean. My patience is short. My superiority complex is off the chart. My way or the highway. What about my plan? Did you hear me, Dan?
But this morning, in the middle of those judgmental, proud thoughts came another Voice. That Voice offered me a choice. "Spend time with Me. Or punish innocent bystanders all day."
I knew that I had greasy buildup, as my mom would call it. I needed a fresh start. But remember that I was determined not to write about freshness or newness in my January posts. But here I am, so thankful for a fresh start and an Israel Houghton CD full of songs that are full of Scripture.
But The Voice always offers me a choice. He is all about liberty and freedom. Sometimes freedom means people don't choose His best option. Sometimes I freely lose my patience with my family and friends before they even have their breakfast. My freedom splashes over on those close to me.
It was a close call this morning. I heard the choice. I answered the Voice. I love my liberty, and the mercy that accompanies it.
His compassion is new every morning. And every January.