Fashion Forward

I most often write about the things God is doing and speaking in the quietest places of my heart.  But, today, there's just something I need to confess.  And it seems loud and not very spiritual at all.  But, it has to come out.

I am a fashion mess right now.

I'm not really sure how this happened.  For most of my life, I've been able to look around the room, take stock of the styles and trends represented, and think, "Yep.  Smack in the middle.  Not too far ahead, like a Paris runway model, but not far enough behind to be reppin the Amish runway style."  And I was good with that.

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MindyGrowing, Messy, StyleComment
Family Night

"Sometimes you have to go back to boot camp."  My friends words were spoken with a laugh, but the truth of them rang in my ears. 

She was speaking about her children.  About their tendency to drift from the family's boundaries and push the envelope.  About the need to come back to basics and remind children what we do, what we don't do, and why.  We love each other.  We speak kindly to each other.  We use our manners.  We don't eat things that come from our nose.  The real basics. 

That's boot camp.  And we just had one of those seasons in our house.

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What To Do When You Disagree With A Fellow Believer

MOM!!!!" 

I always knew that particular sound.  The one that said someone was angry.  It might be that someone stepped on his feelings, it might just be that someone stepped on his cookie, but he wasn't happy.  It was an angry brother.

And when my boys were young and prone to disagreements, I was hearing that angry cry far too often and became a little desperate in looking for a way to help them move past their differences and celebrate the sheer fact that they were brothers.  I often tried lecturing, but I knew they really didn't need to hear a lot of preaching.  They knew everything I was trying to tell them already, they just didn't want to do it in the heat of being wronged.  I needed something else.

And that's how it was born.  A simple tactic, really, but it seemed like it was magic in how effective it was.

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Next

My son is home from college on his fall break.  He brought a friend home with him who needed a place to stay, since he lives across the globe and can't fly back for the few short days of break in the school routine.  It's been good to have them here, sleeping until almost noon and eating all of our food.  Evidently it's really exhausting being a college freshman.

But, what I've loved most is listening to these guys talk and plan for the future.  Next semester's classes.  Next summer's mission trips.  What comes next, after college.

They're in such an exciting time in life. The time where "next" is wide open and could contain anything.  Nothing is set in stone and nothing is impossible.  And yes, "next" is a little scary, too, since it's wide open and could contain anything.  But, judging from these men's faces, it's more exciting than scary.

And that's where I pause. 

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Revolutionary

More than 2,000 years ago, the Jewish people were waiting and watching for their war hero.  The one who would redeem them from Roman rule and free them to be a nation unto themselves.  They were looking for a revolutionary. 

And they got Him.  Just not the one they were expecting.

Because Jesus didn't come to fight wars against flesh and blood.  He came to break His flesh and spill His blood so that all men can be free from the rule of sin.

All men. And all women.

Because if there was any area in which Jesus revolutionized the culture He lived in, it was in the way He interacted with women. 

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My Favorite Day

After 20 years of marriage, my husband and I have recently had a new experience.  A weekly day all to ourselves.

Technically, I guess it’s not completely new.  There were those 16 months we had alone before our first baby was born.  But, that’s been so long ago, we can’t remember much about them.  And after years of pre-schoolers and homeschoolers, we now have all of our kids in school and also have the same day off from work.  Fridays.  Fridays are the new Christmas.

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Embracing It All

I define the words "hopeless romantic."  It doesn't matter how much real life I experience, there is a part of me that clings to the beautiful side.  The side that thinks fresh flowers should be on my counter every day, even though I have a black thumb.  The side that expects the throw pillows to stay artfully arranged on the couch, even though they share a home with people who use them as weapons and fort building material.  The side that believes my hair should look beautifully unkempt when I wake up, even though I've lived through the daily jolt of seeing only unkempt and not beautiful locks looking back at me every morning for forty years.  It's just who I am.  The one who longs for beauty and romance every day.

It's probably why I wrote it.  The one book I've ever completed.  A hopeless romantic kind of story, with not a ton of theological insight, but an abundance of sweet sentiment.

But, I'm also a little embarrassed by that part of myself. 

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MindyGiveaway, Humility, LearningComment
Memories

My wedding ring went to the shop a few weeks ago.  It just needed a small repair, but it was going to take up to a month, and I didn't want to be without a ring for that long.  I'm pretty proud of the man whose name I share and I'd prefer the whole world knows I belong to him, which meant I needed to rummage around in a closet and find my grandmother's ring to wear in the meantime.

My grandmother's ring.  The ring I used to watch her twist around and around her finger.  The ring she would let me try on when I played "wedding."  The ring she left for me in a box lined with blue velvet, my name written in her wild cursive on a torn piece of notebook paper and stuffed in the lid.

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Quietness and Trust

My first grade teacher would tell you I've always had a little trouble being quiet.  She once made me sit under my desk during class because she thought I needed a reminder not to interject my thoughts at will into her lessons.  It's not that I talk all the time, I just often have trouble keeping a good idea to myself.  Good ideas are meant to be shared, or so thought the first grade me.  Evidently, Mrs. Lindsay either didn't agree, or wasn't sure all my ideas fell in the "good" category.

I've definitely learned since then that not all my thoughts are for sharing, which is most likely on the litmus test for maturity.  But, I've generally stuck to my early premise that God gave us the ability to think, imagine, and dream in order to contribute to the world we are privileged to live in, and we therefore have gifts to give by finding a way to communicate those thoughts, imaginations, and dreams.  There was no stern-eyed teacher or desk in the world that could keep me down.

But, I hadn't ever factored in a season of quiet.  And that's where I am now.

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Transition

have a bathrobe I adore.  It was once white and it was once fluffy.  It's now mostly white and decidedly unfluffy.  But, I don't mind.  I wear it every morning to shuffle in to the coffee maker.  I put it on every night with my glasses and a messy bun to watch Netflix with my husband.  And sometimes, when I come home on my lunch break, I put it on over my clothes and curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee to just breathe before I head back into life at full speed. 

As much as I'd like to be known for Princess Kate fashion, I have a sinking feeling that if my kids were asked to draw a picture of me, I might be wearing that robe.  And I don't even mind.  In fact, I'm not sure I'll ever get rid of my bathrobe.  I can't.  Because when I put it on, I feel at home.  When I wear that robe, I'm completely, absolutely, 100% comfortable.  And I like that feeling.

It's a feeling I don't have much of at this particular juncture in life.  I am completely, absolutely not comfortable.  Instead, I am in transition.  Transitioning in every conceivable part of life.

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Believe It or Not

"You are everything I ever wanted in a daughter."

I heard my husband speak those words today, and they took my breath away.  I paused to watch what they did to her. 

She found his gaze.  A slow smile.  A nod.  A kiss.  And then she was gone, on to living life, which meant at that moment lunch and Phineas and Ferb.

There was no big reaction because there was not a new revelation.  Just quiet confidence that Dad still felt the way he has always felt, assurance that comes from knowing you are as loved as you have always been.

But, my heart has been contemplating the many, many grown women who are still walking around wondering what their dads think of them, wondering what it would be like to experience the embrace of approval that has never come.

And so, today, if that's you, you need to know something. 

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Storehouse

I recently read a couple of lines that were written as a side note, but impacted me as if they were the primary message.  Tucked away treasures, hidden, yet full of potential to change hearts that take the time to ponder.  They were two small sentences from an author named Mark Batterson in his book, All In"[The life I live] is an answer to the prayers my father-in-law prayed for me.  His prayers did not die when he did."

And there it is.  Such a profoundly startling truth.  And such a deeply moving one.

When I close my eyes and think of the people in my life who I know have prayed for me over my lifetime, and not just said a sentence or two, but repeatedly approached the throne of Heaven on my behalf, I immediately see my grandparents.  As a child from a blended family, I have had the honor of having three sets of grandparents to speak into my raising.  And all of them prayed. 

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Ready or Not

My son is eighteen years old.

It doesn't matter how I say it or how many times I repeat it, nothing about that sentence makes any sense to my brain.  But, it's happening.  Happened already.  He's eighteen years old.

One of hardest parts is facing the fact that I'm actually old enough to have an eighteen year old.  I vividly remember turning eighteen, being eighteen, loving eighteen.  Eighteen is when I spent two months in Peru, moved to college, met my husband, and started doing grown-up things like voting, buying my license plate tags, and eating salad.  It's the year my parents moved across the nation, and I had to find my own place to live when school let out.  The year I got a real job.  The year I looked into the face of a man who wasn't too much older than me and said yes when he held out a ring with hope in his eyes.

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Favorite Things

My daughter watched the Sound of Music last night.  She was telling me this morning her favorite part is when Maria sits on the pinecone.  So many memories, that movie holds for me, since I watched it at least once a week, it seemed, while I was growing up.  And I think my favorite part has always been the "Favorite Things" song.  I'm pretty sure if the rest of my family experienced anything at least once a week, it was me singing that at the top of my lungs from behind my closed bedroom door.  It may or may not also be the reason my bed broke when I was nine, since I also tended to act out all of the children jumping on it with Maria as they sang.

"When the storm strikes, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad, I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel.....(getting up to full out gusto here)...so baaaaaaaaa----aaaaaaaa-------dddddd!"

It's a lovely song.

And probably the reason I have always believed in having a lot of favorite things.  Because if you have hundreds of favorite things, you can't help but happen upon them every day. 

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Grace Defined

Something hugely frightening happened to me recently. 

I shrunk my sweatshirt.

My sweatshirt.  The one that changed my life.  The one my husband gave me for Christmas that I had hardly taken off for three months.  The one I loved and the one that loved me unconditionally in return.

I had plans to only take it to the dry cleaner for the rest of my life.  But, I didn't pay attention and it ended up in the wash.  And then the dryer.  And then it shrunk.  And I came the closest I have ever come to a panic attack.  I discovered it late at night, right before bed, and Eric came running to answer the shrieks of pain from the laundry room. He then followed me to our room as I yelled, "No, no, no, no, no, no!" while I tore off my pajamas and put the sweatshirt on.  The sleeves were short.  The bottom hem didn't come to where it was supposed to.  The whole thing was off, wrong, ruined.

My husband watched from the bed as I mourned.  It was a slow process, this coming to terms with losing one of your best friends.  All five stages of grief played out in the microcosm of my closet.

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Love Stories

I received something for Christmas this past year that I've always wanted.  In fact, I've spent my whole life searching for it, but could never quite find it. The perfect sweatshirt. 

And now I have it, thanks to my husband.  It's the perfect weight...light, but still warm.  It's the perfect color...the cozy gray that says "go ahead and stay home all day, you deserve it."  And it has the perfect sentiment written across it in large, black, block letters.  It says, "I LIKE TO PARTY.  AND BY PARTY, I MEAN READ BOOKS."

Oh yes.  I told you it was perfect for me.  It's everything I've ever wanted in a sweatshirt.  That's why it's the first thing I put on when I get home from work.  Every single day.  I have become the sweatshirt person.  But, I don't judge myself.  It's too perfect to permit judging.  I only regret I didn't own it sooner.

But, how did this man know me so well?  How did he know just what would make my introverted heart so exquisitely happy?  Well, besides the secret Pinterest board entitled "Things I'd Like To Own" that I created just for him, he probably knew because I read.  I read a lot.  It's the way I learn best, and it's the way I relax the best.  So, it makes sense that it's also the avenue that has taught me quite a bit about love...

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New Seeds

For the past couple of years, my husband and I have made it a priority to get a way during the month of December to spend some time together.  It's a hectic, crazy time of the year to try to carve out a couple of days, but we are discovering it's actually a wonderful time to do it.

Because disconnecting from the noise at the end of the year makes it easier to start fresh in a new year.  We've had some late night talks, a romantic one by a fire and a humorous one by a space heater, where we've emptied our souls of the clutter and kindled some new dreams.  We've asked each other uncomfortable questions, laughed together, and prayed together.  And somehow, on the other side, we were ready.  Ready to plow into a new season, confident we're playing on the same team.

It's been a blessing to see the fruit of this simple act in my marriage, but I was even more surprised to discover that for the last couple of years, the same thing has been happening in my relationship with my God.  Somehow in the turning of the calendar page from one year to the next, He speaks. 

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MindyGrowing, New YearComment
One Mama's Thoughts on Short-Term Missions

My husband took our second son to Guatemala for 10 days.  It's a rite of passage in our home, a mission trip with dad.  We had waited a while for this one, wanting the right trip at the right time.  And we knew when this trip came along that it was the one for our fifteen year old.  Sometimes, when you're listening for the still, small voice of God, you struggle to hear it.  Sometimes, you hear it so deeply, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt what God is communicating.  This was a "beyond a shadow" kind of knowing. 

The right trip at the right time.

The first day, they landed in Guatemala City and then drove 12 hours up into the mountains, along the Guatemalan-Mexican border.  The next two days were spent constructing a home for a family who was in need.  A home.  My son just helped build someone a home.  With a machete.

And that's why I love world missions.

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MindyComment
What Does the Bible Say About Fear?

ear is the most crippling enemy a soul can ever face.  If it is trying to overtake you today, let your heart meditate on the words of Scripture, the best tool for combatting any enemy. 

Even as a follower of Jesus, there may be many things in this life that cause rocks of fear to be hurled at you.  Some are pebbles.  Others are boulders.  The key is to never pick up the rocks.  Instead, build your house with the cornerstone of who God is, your hope and your defense.

Here are ten verses that will shore up your house today, all from the Message Bible (because sometimes it's good to shake up familiar words with a fresh understanding).  Let your heart take delight in the Mightiness of your God...

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MindyFather, Peace, TrustComment
Trading Stress for Peace

A couple of months ago,  my pastor husband asked if I would mind letting a traveling band of musicians stay in our home for a night.  We were scheduled to be out of town that evening, the church was needing to find them a place to stay after they performed a concert for the congregation, and it seemed like an all-around easy solution.  I said sure, it would be no problem.

Fast forward to T minus 6 days, and it was no longer an easy solution and was in fact a huge problem.  What had I been thinking?  A group of people I didn't know staying in my home without us there?  This called for some SERIOUS CLEANING!

I've always thought of myself as a clean person.  (Almost) everything has a place, and (almost) everything can be put it in its place in pretty quick order in my house.  But, this was not the usual scenario for company.  These people weren't just coming over for dinner or coffee, they were going to shower, sleep, prepare their own breakfast, and possibly do laundry here.  They were going to see into closets, cabinets, bathtubs (shriek!), and who knows, maybe behind couches?
 

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