A Lesson from Noah’s Wife

On that very day Noah and his sons… together with his wife and the wives of his three sons entered the ark…. Then the Lord shut [them] in.   Gen. 7:13, 15-16

 

He couldn’t have done it alone. We tend to see Noah’s story as his… alone. But that’s not what scripture says. Eight adults took the steps of faith needed to make it on that ark. And let’s face it, from what most of us know about life and trying to manage a household with kids, no one really does it alone.

My husband is on an overseas trip. His first of many. He’s stepping into the role God has called him to and gifted him for and it’s exciting to watch him thrive. It’s also tempting for me to think, “What about me, God? I want to follow your call. I’m willing for you to use me. When do I get to go? I’m left behind with our three sons… where’s the glamour in that?”

This is not the first time I’ve wrestled with thoughts like these. Not the first time I’ve watched others step into new roles, roles I’d love to fill: a spot on a cheerleading squad that went to the one with a popular football-playing older brother; a part in a musical number that went to the one with finer vocal skills; a teaching position that went to the one with flashier stories and a younger face…

I’m not bitter. Not anymore.

No, really I’m not!

Yes, it was hard being passed over, or feeling like I didn’t get my due. But now that I’m 40-something and have been seasoned a bit by marriage and disappointment, I look for the unique ways God has gifted each of us and the roles He wants each of us to play.

When God is calling in the context of family, each of us has a role to play.

I mean, think about it. Noah’s wife had to be “on board” with this ark building project!

She had to pick up the slack when Noah’s other household chores went undone. She had to feed her family with limited resources while living on the ark… no refrigeration!  She had to step inside the smelly ark loaded with wild animals (and snakes!), even when none of her friends would join her. She had to be willing to start again, rebuilding house and homestead in a new place once the waters receded. She stood by her man. She didn’t hold him back. She didn’t squash his dream. Maybe she even dreamed along with him…

She is a model of how to walk beside a man of faith, a man called by God to do the work of God.

Sadly, many of the other wives mentioned in scripture aren’t model partners. Remember Abraham’s wife, Sarah – too impatient to wait on God’s timing for a promised child; or Lot’s wife – too tied the the comforts of Sodom to fix her eyes on the one who came to rescue; or David’s wife, Michal – too concerned with maintaining her royal image to engage in joy-filled worship. And then, Adam’s wife, Eve, who was too curious about what God might have withheld from them to stay the course and obey.

Most likely, God’s purposes in these men’s lives weren’t thwarted by the support they lacked from their wives. God is not limited by our disobedience. But, I do think we miss out on some of the joy He desires for us when we obey.

I want to be as faithful, industrious, resourceful, creative and loyal as Noah’s wife.

Hand HoldingLet me not complain when my husband is distracted by work. Let me pick up the slack and come alongside to cheer on and celebrate steps of faith. Let me support him in struggles and cloudy vision, and lie with him after long, exhausting days. I know that’s a high bar to set. And I know I won’t reach it perfectly. But Noah’s wife has shown me a little bit of what it might look like.

 

You have called us both, my Father. You have equipped and supplied and enabled us both. So even though right now, I’m the one called to stay behind, I thank you for this role. I thank you for the specific ways you’ve equipped me, and I thank you for what you are building in me as I wait on You. Let us both run with endurance this marathon of faith.

 

Blog hop! Why I Write

 

red-eyed-treefrogRemember playing leap frog as a kid? Hop, crouch, hop, crouch, hop! What a fun game… inspired by frogs!

Well, I’ve joined up with other bloggers to create another type of “leap frog.” It’s called a Blog Hop and I have my friend and fellow blogger, Terry Morgan to thank for including me.

Terry writes from her experiences working with Cru for 20 years in another country. She mentors and coaches rising leaders, has raised four kids, and has journeyed in marriageTerry with her husband, Steve, for 30 years! (Oh, and so cool — she blogs in English and Spanish!) She’s a woman with a heart for encouraging others to embrace life with truth and courage. We met almost two years ago, and right away I was drawn to her authentic disposition and the way her eyes twinkle when she smiles. So grab a cup of coffee and learn from Terry at Marturitas Cafe.

For the blog part of the hop, each writer shares answers to four questions about the writing process. So here’s some insight into what, why, and how I write.

1) What am I writing or working on?

Mostly my blog posts center around everyday life – the struggles and the joys. My writing stems from the way I process life, with words and images. I love to look for the storyline in random things, for the way things are connected. Many times, my posts are tinged with spiritual thoughts. Truly, I believe, that we are all spiritual beings and that the Creator is constantly seeking out ways to connect with us and remind us of His presence.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My writing is unique because the way I experience life and love and family and loss and God are unique. Others in this genre write from their unique perspectives. In my writing, I try to stay away from teaching or preaching. I seek to share my thoughts creatively and simply, and let that be enough.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I’d say I’m a reluctant writer. I’m definitely a verbal processor, though; so writing is a natural outlet. On the surface, I began this blog as a way to practice what I teach – as a writing instructor and communication coach. But on a deeper level, I write to include others in my story as way to encourage them to explore their own stories.

4) How does my writing process work?

I journal… a lot. Most of my blog posts start with a spark of something from what I’m reading or experiencing. It could be something as innocuous as a butterfly on a flower or as raw as wrestling with God about teen suicide. Journaling allows me space to process my thoughts and record my reactions. Then, after those thoughts have marinated between the pages of my journal, oftentimes they find their way onto my blog. When I make time to journal, even if I don’t sense something pressing to process, I find thoughts I didn’t know I had. I love that kind of discovery.

And now for the hopping. Other bloggers I’d like to point you to.

Stephanie

Stephanie Reeves has wanted to be a writer nearly all of her life. That desire was first fulfilled by writing for Cru’s magazine, Worldwide Challenge, for many years. She lives with her husband, David, and 3 kids—and a dog and bird and several fish—in Orlando, Florida. Her blog Compelled focuses mostly on lessons God shows her in everyday life, but she also shares parenting tips and occasionally writes about hot topics in today’s world. She recently started a new blog, That Senior Year, chronicling her journey with her first born through his senior year of high school.

I think you’ll enjoy Stephanie’s fun and truth-filled way of sharing everyday lessons.

 

SheriSheri LeVine was a court reporter for 20 years and hit what her dear husband refers to as a midlife crisis (mental health glitch). Her time since has been seeking, wife-ing, mothering, simplifying, reading, writing, learning, volunteering, mentoring, and caring. As her 40s come to a close, she is eager to experience the elusive wisdom and confidence that she hears materializes in the 50s.

I love Sheri’s willingness to embrace the messiness of life. She’s honest and caring — two qualities you’ll immediately see in her writing. Visit her blog, It’s All About the Love.

 

So there you have it. A Blog Hop! My desire is that you would read and be inspired to pick up a pen yourself, jot some thoughts, and then just maybe, you’ll have the courage to share your story, too.

 

 

Transplanted

It’s not the land of my birth, but it is the land of my growth, of my becoming… my forming.

Indiana.

Sunrise

I am formed by rich red kitchen walls tinged with splatters of bacon grease and pancake batter on Saturday mornings. Clinking silverware and stacking clean plates from the dishwasher remind me that early morning chores call as faithfully as the sunrise. And I am transformed by meals at the kitchen table shaping this family into one that loves good food and conversations that always end up about movies.

And I am formed by the Indiana clay under my fingernails as I plant and weed and tend red lillythe roses and lavender in my garden beds. The hostas in the shade and lilies in the sun have taught me about blooming and pruning… necessary ingredients for growth. The redbuds we planted out back with their spindly branches and magenta blooms never fail to enchant. Every spring, they tell me that new life lurks just beneath the surface, merely waiting for a warm sun-kiss.

I am formed by three boys whose ever-bouncing, climbing, running feet found mud puddles to splash and balls to kick. They saw forests and imagined new worlds. They saw boxes full of Legos and built spaceships. They saw me and knew I could be trusted. What a gift. And every once in awhile, I convinced them to slow down and notice the caterpillar creeping along a leaf… which fostered in me a bit more childlike wonder.

I am formed by sure-changing seasons, sometimes subtle, sometimes brash. By soft grass and smiling daisies and sticky humid days passed poolside. By falling leaves, apple daisies and lavendarpicking, and bonfire crackles in the crisp night air. By chilled still bare tree-patterns against stormy skies and the hush of fresh-fallen snow. And by robins digging, creeks trickling, and buds bursting while rain pitter-patters on the window. They’ve taught me to watch, listen, and expect beauty at every turn.

I am formed by family time on the olive green couches. Guitar strumming, scripture reading, hearts singing, quiet praying time — inconsistent, but forming just the same. We’ve sought to listen to each other and to God. Together. Sometimes questions go unanswered, but we ask them anyway. Our belief in the One who knows all is strengthened in the asking.

I am formed by hospital beds and emergency rooms, by disease and unknowing. Struggles not just with tight budgets and traffic jams, but with temptations and tempers and immune systems. I have grabbed hold of Hoosier grit. It tells me that keeping on is better than giving up. And that friends who stand with you in the darkness love to celebrate with you in the light.

And I am formed by my partner in life. Marriage has taught me about giving and receiving Hand Holdingand how to be true. My dear one has loved me well and patiently listened while I railed against the hand of the One who loves us best. He stands beside me, stands up for me, stands to protect me, and stands with me in the place we’ve made home. His strength has softened me, and his softness shows me that loud and quick are not necessarily the only way to get something done.

Oh Indiana, I’ve still yet to mention homeschool co-ops and history clubs and milk runs to Rockville. Dunes camping, summer projects, tour buses, farmer’s markets, and state fairs are all part of life that has become mine. How you’ve changed me. How you’ve taught me. How you’ve welcomed this California transplant and encouraged her to grow.

Thank you.

fall trailside

I Am From

This entry is long overdue. I wrote it in October, but somehow didn’t see fit to share it in this venue till now. It speaks of my childhood roots, which somehow seem fresher to me right now, since we are preparing to move to another state and say goodbye to a place that’s become dear to us. But those thoughts are for another post…

 

I am from a walnut-stained upright piano and dutiful students playing minuets, and fugues, and concertos, and my mother’s gentle prodding to “do it again; this time with more feeling,” and I sit at the kitchen table, the center of our home, and anticipate every note to be played, those songs etching their way into my memory.

I am from the green stucco house on Janine Drive and creamy white shutters standing sentinel on either side of the picture windows that look out front. A bed of pink geraniums lines the street, and avocado and lemon trees shade the back. Running between the driveways, a boxwood hedge grows thick and entangled. The liquid amber tree my dad planted when we moved in the summer of my 2nd grade year stands straight and tall. I see those limbs, the branches bearing scarlet and orange leaves every fall, and I realize that we grew up together, that tree and me.

1st ChristianI am from Joanie and John, the soprano and bass who found love in the choir Grandfather Gene directed… and from Grandmother Betty who knew they belonged together even before they did. I am from The First Christian Church of Whittier and Thursday night choir practice and Sunday morning donut runs after Sunday school. The backlit cross hanging over the baptistery and the stained-glass windows in the balcony point me to a faith in the One who calls us to His light.

I am from mom’s hugs and dad’s backrubs – strong hands each with a touch all their own – and Rummy Cue played late into the night while camping in the desert. I am from Peazle-Weazel stories and leprechaun hunts in the orange orchard, and “Jesus, tender shepherd hear me” ushering me to sleep every night just like it did for my Daddy. Little sister and I sing along with the Carpenters or Donny and Marie while our record player spins and skips, or harmonize to show-tunes in the back of the station wagon. Melodies and rhythms and rhymes so fill our days and nights, we hardly know a time when we didn’t have a song stuck in our heads.


I am from
ferry rides to Catalina Island and sunburned weeks at Ida Courts Apartments. I am from old quilts blanketing sandy beaches and early morning hikes up the windy roads overlooking Avalon Bay. The tiled fountains, saltwater taffy, red painted paddleboards, fishing off the green pier, and sunset walks out to the Casino all tell me that “family time” is to be savored and that things done over and over again take on a rhythm of their own, shaping us by their repetition.

avalon-beach-catalina

I am from the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and the White Gift Processional – first known to me in Whittier, California, but rooted deep in the patchwork of Europe that speaks of my ancestry. I am from pork chops with applesauce, barbecue chicken with baked potatoes, and enchiladas with guacamole; from chocolate chip cookies, homemade strawberry jam, and frosted sugar cookies at Christmas; from Advent Calendars, Easter baskets, and ice cream cakes for my birthday. I am from hallways lined with family pictures, trinkets filling bookshelves testifying to world travels and curiosity long-lived.

I am from words spoken with passion and truth, and from The Word, who shows me whose I am and how He sees me – which is truer than anything else I know.

The Face of a Friend

Hugging the path

My faithful friends are like an autumn breeze,

With gusts of laughter, buoyant on the wind.

Like rusty red and playful yellow leaves,

Our lives entwine entangled one within.

 

When autumn zephyr blows with forceful wail
And maple shakes and shivers in the blast,
The hustling, bustling, ever-changing gale
Sends foliage flying, fleeing – none outlast.

 

In the grass

But friends of mine do bare a softer stream:

With words they mend and tend to broken heart,

With sighs they stir my memories and my dreams,

With prayers they set unspoken needs apart.

 

Theses kindred souls surround me with their grace,
Unchanging, stand beside me face to face.

Chicken Cacciatore

I’ve been thinking some about the rhythm of life… how to meet God in the everyday moments that we often don’t expect Him in.

I make dinner every night for my crew. Cooking gives me pleasure — in the tasting of food and in the breaking of bread — the fellowship that comes “at table.” I think my role in feeding them is about more than simply filling their bellies. It’s about nourishing them.

And it’s about me staying true to my God-given calling to help them grow; a daunting, and humbling task.

 

Chicken Cacciatore by Julie Sanders

Skillet clanks on grate heating

Water runs to wash veggies

Knife slices onion, eyes burning –

still she presses on.

 

Chicken sizzles in skillet browning

Peppers, onions, garlic mingle

Tomato sauce with warm, red wine, simmering –

add to chicken, turn.

 

Call men, plates loading

Chairs scrape on floor

Diners sit, expectant, hunger gnawing

Thank you Lord, Amen.

chicken-cacciatore-a2

 

What about you?  Where do you find God in the rhythm of everyday moments?

For my yummy recipe visit Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes.

Photo credit: Simply Recipes

Morning Walk

Often times, it’s the simple, everyday habits that draw me to God. Something as common as walking or breathing can become a wordless prayer.

Exploring poetry has helped me think about the proper economy of words — how sometimes not saying something is more powerful than trying to put all my thoughts to words.

So, here’s a poem… maybe as simple, and profound as… breathing.


footsteps

 

 

foot falls on asphalt.

arms pump in rhythm

to my

heart beat.

 

lips part to murmur

prayers – in and out –

raised

to

God.

 

What’s in a picture?

One of the things I’ve always loved about God is His nearness, that He’s close by, not distant… as if I have an invisible hand pressed against the small of my back prompting me on.

main-street-usaMy memories confirm this… like the time as a 5 year-old little girl, I went with my family to Disneyland.  I was riding on my Daddy’s shoulders, walking down Main Street, heading for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.  The sky was sunny and blue, and I can even remember wearing my Mickey Mouse ears hat with my name written in cursive on the back.  So, there I was, riding on my Dad’s shoulders, and I didn’t have a care in the world.  I felt safe.  Even with the crazy crowds at Disneyland, I felt his strong arms around me and I knew he loved me; I knew he would protect me.

I think this is why I’ve always known God was close.  Because my parents loved me and took care of me, I had no problem believing that Jesus would love me and take care of me.  But of course, little girls grow up.  And I couldn’t live at Disneyland, riding on Daddy’s shoulders.

…   …   …

Fifteen years later I found myself with another man on a metal bridge in London. Typical for London, the weather was cold and raining, but I was crying.  I was with my boyfriend – the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with.  We had met two years earlier, and our relationship consumed me.  I wanted to share his love, his opinions, his plans for the future – we had talked about changing the world.

metal bridge

But on that gray bridge in London, I couldn’t have felt more alone. I don’t even remember what we were fighting about.  But I do remember that he used his words to hurt me.  They would cut at my heart like a knife.  Throughout our relationship he would drop little comments about my hair or my weight – just enough to let me know that he was dissatisfied with me.

On that bridge I realized that he wasn’t who I thought he was, and I was afraid.  I know now that God was there on that bridge – close by, but I couldn’t see Him, and I didn’t reach out for Him.

…   …   …

Fast-forward 20 years… It seems like just the other day, I was walking through the Walmart parking lot with my youngest son, Andrew. Cars moved in and out of parking spaces, so he slid up close to me and took my hand.  He just grabbed my hand, but it was like he was saying, “I want to be near you, Mommy.  I trust you.”  It felt good to be trusted.  A busy parking lot can be a scary place to a nine-year-old, but Andrew knew that if he was near me, he would be safe.

I think it’s the same lesson I learned all those years ago at Disneyland with my Dad… and on the bridge in London.  I think God is still trying to teach me: “Stay close to me, Julie. I’ll keep you safe. Take my hand, I’ll lead you on”

But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.   Ps. 73:25

What snapshots from your life tell you something about God?  Do you see?  Are you listening?

 

photo credits:  Mainstreet, USAMetal Bridge

A little bit of this and that

potato saladThe thought struck me today:  Life is like a good potato salad, smooth, buttery goodness; some crunch; the pizazz of color, and the bite of vinegar… but taken all together, totally satisfying.

I know someone reading this might not be a fan of potato salad.  For me, it’s more of an adult taste.  Not something I enjoyed as a kid.  I think I needed to develop an appreciation for mushy.  If that’s not proof of maturity, I don’t know what is.

Regardless of your tastes concerning potato salad, I’d love for you to hear out my analogy. A life, to reach “satisfying,” has to embrace a variety of ingredients.  The potato foundations of family, faith, and friendship provide the canvas on which all other experiences lie. Crunchy celery and fava beans, my add-ins of choice, give texture to the mixture, like hobbies and interests bring variety and depth. Bright watercress, a surprising addition, reminds to me to delight in unexpected beauty.  And vinegar.  Tangy vinegar stands for suffering; searing but essential if my life will come to mean anything in the great banquet of the Kingdom of God.

So, that’s what came to me as I prepared my lunch today.  I just pulled the ingredients together from what I had in the frig and pantry.  The more exotic things were in my organic produce share this week. Isn’t that like life?  We make do with what we are given — the everyday and the exotic.

I’d love for you to share your thoughts on what ingredients make your life “satisfying.”

Fava Bean and Japanese Sweet Potato Salad 

2 medium Japanese sweet potatoes (or any other sweet potato), peeled and cut in chunks
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 lb fava beans, shelled, blanched, and shelled again (see how to prep fava beans here)
small handful of watercress, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced on diagonal
2 T apple cider vinegar
1/4 C. sour cream
1/4 C. mayo
1 T. dijon mustard
1/2 t. dried tarragon
quite a bit of freshly ground garlic salt or plain sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Plop the sweet potatoes in a large pot of boiling water.  Boil for 8 minutes.  Add the russet potatoes and boil for another 3-4 minutes till the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.  When they are done, immediately drain them in a colander and run under cold water.  Place them in a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle the vinegar over the still warm potatoes.  Toss gently with a spoon.

Fava BeansWhile the potatoes are cooking, take care of the fava beans according to these instructions.  Then add them to the potatoes.  Add in the watercress, celery, and green onions.

In a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mayo, dijon and tarragon.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently combine the dressing with the potato mixture and chill in the frig or eat warm. If it tastes bland to you, add more salt and pepper, and maybe even a bit more vinegar — it’s essential.

Bon appetit!

 

Do bunnies lay eggs?

I’ve always been a little disturbed by the commercialization of Easter.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Easter Bunny w:eggsDying chicken eggs, hiding them, only to hunt for them later in the day?  A big rabbit hopping into my bedroom at night leaving a basket full of candy and toys?

Really?

What is it really about, anyway?

It’s about the brokenness at the cross.  It’s about new life.  It’s about the way God lavished his grace on each of us through Jesus.

If that’s news to you, I’d like to show you a video.  It’s God’s invitation to a relationship with him… extended to you.

So what’d you think?  No bunnies.  No eggs or candy.  Just life the way it’s intended to be. Want some?

 

photo credit: © Frenc | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

video credit:  ©2013 Cru #FallingPlates Used by Permission