"Whatcha going to do that's Jesus-y"

With this family, more theology has been taught in the good old mini van
And more God-conversations have been heard in the chatter.
Somehow amidst the crumbs in the carseats and the clutter scattered about on the floor
And the smells of a car that transports kids and kid-stuff
God has come to us, over and over.
In these seats, two of my littles have claimed Jesus as their Saviour.
One of them became convicted during camp meeting last winter,
And we made our way through the snow and ice, to heat up the old mini van
And talk about what Jesus wants from little hearts, and how He can transform them.
Given, this young in life, Salvation can still be a mystery.
But I love how their faith is so large, and their hearts so open
And if proof is needed of an outward confession, surely the softness of heart over the next weeks showed witness to internal heart alignment.
The other child was saved as a result of conversation on the way past the fire hall.
It went something like this:
"Mom, what do they do if a house burns, and what if it burns up everything around it?"
Followed by mom's reasonable explanation on how to put the "wet stuff on the hot stuff"
Or the "cold stuff on the hot stuff", or whatever it takes as good fire prevention talk.
I then commented, "You know that someday the whole earth is going to burn up, right son?"
"No, mom.  Why?  Isn't that going to be scary?"
I took a deep breath and launched into how when we're saved by the blood of Jesus,
We're children of His and we don't need to be afraid of this great fire,
Because all of His children will be safe far away from this destruction.
"Landon, do you know if you're a child of His?"  "Well, I want to love Jesus, and I want to be part of His family."
So we talked a little more, and he said he'd like to have Daddy with him when he becomes saved.
 We pulled into the parking lot at Daddy's job, and even tho we couldn't find Daddy, Landon said He really wants to talk to Jesus about Him being his Saviour.
And so, once again, as the smells of kiddy-car wafted up around us, another childs prayers Smelled like precious incense to the Father.

So now that I have properly explained the theology that goes on in our van,
Here's the conversation that ensued last night.
From eldest son to youngest: "So what are you going to do when you grow up that's Jesus-y"
Jesus-y is the new word here, simply means: Godly or like Jesus.
"You know you could be a missionary", the sister pipes up 
Daddy adds, "Really you can do/be just about anything.  Firemen, Ambulance drivers
(You have to understand, my boys think of their lifespan in terms of emergency vehicles and emergency incidents.  Have no idea why.  They remember last year as being "the year the neighbor lady's car started on fire" Or "the year the neighbor lady thought she broke her neck falling off the porch, etc.")
You can be a carpenter or a farmer.  And still be Jesus-y.  Doing your work well and giving God glory for it is what makes it Jesus-y"
Quiet contemplation entered the car and then the eldest son offered his last piece of advice:
"You know, if you would cut out angels shapes out of wood, and paint them that would be very Jesus-y.
Yeah, you should make angels when you get big"
Yes, son, let's make angels when we're big.

We're working on filling a baby bottle with change for the local Pregnancy Care Center.
It was the kids' idea to do chores around the house, and for every chore they complete,
Daddy puts money in the baby bottle.  They even went to their little money jars and gave away Some of their hard-earned money from pulling nails out of the floor during our kitchen remodel.
Little ones, this is how you are Jesus-y now, even though your small.  Serving others and giving Unselfishly--doesn't get any closer to Jesus than that.
And some days we'd even like to think we could dress like Jesus, Amen?  :)



This post has been churning inside of me, begging to come out onto a page.  
I'm never entirely sure if what I'm thinking upstairs should actually be written
Or if I should just ruminate in my own head, and move on.

The other day I was reading a certain blog.  And I was loving it.
I mean, what's not to love?  This woman writes about God, family, and raising crazy little kids.
She's real and honest and I love how her personality comes right out on the page.
(Without a hundred interruptions from sponsors needing air time)
It's like she really gets it, ya know?  How kids are so cute and fun one minute, and they turn into a mommy's worst nightmare the next.  How you can actually enjoy life in spite of the oreo cookie stains on your white chair.  I was thoroughly engrossed in her super-enjoyable writing style.

UNTIL.  Dontcha just hate when that great bubble of comfortability is popped unexpectedly and the whole gorey truth just pollutes the air.  
I read her post on homosexuality and my chin dropped to the floor.
About how it's not sin, and how she will not only tolerate but support her kids if they ever choose a different lifestyle.  About how she'd wear a rainbow colored t-shirt just to celebrate who they are.
About how Jesus doesn't love us any more or any less for our lifestyle.

My insides were just churning.  And I got on my righteous indignation face.  
I took a couple deep breaths and left the moment pass over me. 
Take the good, Joleen, and weed out the bad.
But how does this really work out in those of us who are called to be Christ followers?
This thing of not calling sin what it is...SIN.
Of preaching a gospel of love and tolerance, because-as the all famous excuse states-
Jesus loved sinners and hung out with them.

I'm not really sure just how to get this all out, except to say:
Ya'll, love is the issue here.  Tolerance is not.
Love is saying, God created you in His image, but right now you're not walking in it.
Love is definitely no excuse for sin.

This other gospel of love and tolerance being preached is so messy.
Sounds so neat and tidy, like it really does come from the heart of God.
Like it really could all make sense, and maybe I've been blindsided all along,
Thinking in exclusivity and not believing with an "open mind".
But really, folks, would I allow my kids to steal in a store, because really, it's not sin.
Or will I allow unkindness to be a part of my kids' daily relationship with each other,
because really, they haven't killed each other, so it's not that bad.
Tolerance allows things that are not right, to be endured, in the name of love.
Like I tolerate the neighbors cat pooping in my yard because I don't want to ruin that relationship with my neighbor.

Love on the other hand, says, your behaviour (etc) is wrong, you need some repentin' going on, Here's what you gotta do to get it right.
And it's giving the needed encouragement, support and constructive discipline
To get that issue back in the light of Jesus.
Back where Truth dwells.

So, I'm here to say, sin is SIN.  Let's call it what it is.
Let's love each other, yes, let's do it.
But let's not sugar coat what is corrupt in the name of tolerance and "love".
And let's review a little from Romans 1, shall we?
This chapter deals with the very issue of homosexuality and whether it is/is not called that
"Bad word--SIN"
But I'm not letting you off so comfortable yet,
Cause there's a lot more than just this issue to discuss here.
No, you may be very uncomfortable till this is all said and done.
You just may get a little warm and having a little color crawl up under your collar.

We're not going to restate all the verses here, you can find yourself that well-worn Book
On your nightstand and read the verses for yourself.
But do start at verse 18 and read to the end of the chapter.
And let's take a look at any logs floating around in our own eyes, to clear our vision for
Jesus to use His Spirit to speak to us.

When I read verse 21, I was completely blown away.  And my conscience started working
In over-drive.  That's a good thing, to be convicted.
My way of knowing that God is very, very near in the moment.
And I'm about to experience some kind of break-thru.

Here's verse 21 in the Amplified (and I'm going to take the liberty to amplify a few of the words here, on my own):
"Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor or glorify Him as God or give Him thanks.  But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking (with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations) and their senseless minds were darkened.   vs. 22   Claiming to be wise, they became fools.

The reason my conscience began to bite at me,
And I suddenly no longer saw "mrs. blog-lady's" speck (even tho, I'd still like to think it's a bit more than just a speck, but 'come off the soap-box, already')
And started to see my own log,
Was this:  the Holy Spirit revealed to me just how quickly I could get
From this point (A) to the point of acceptance of sin (B).
All I need to do was get comfortable in point A, knowing and recognizing God
(check back at that verse, again, and you'll see it right there)
Which is a good thing, even noble.
But move on.
If I STAY THERE and don't move on to HONORING or GLORIFYING Him
or give Him THANKS ,
I'm toast.  Black, dry, crispy, unsavory TOAST.

And I'm guilty.  So, so guilty.
I mean, come on, isn't it a little hard to honor and glorify Him or give Him thanks
When life just isn't all that and a bag of chips?
When the kids are puking, the van tires are bald, and you're about to lose your sanity
From the stay-at-home mom syndrome.

Or, or, the hard stuff.
The days when you're in bed sick, or you're waiting on the dreaded phone call from the doctor,
Or your grown kids won't talk to you anymore,
Or the flowers are still drying over the fresh dirt on the grave.

Yep, even in those moments, we've got to honor, glorify and give thanks.
Because when we turn to ungratefulness or dishonor for the One Who Truly Loves,
We've started the slow (and maybe at times, fast) spiral
Into becoming godless.  "claiming to be wise", with all our crazy excuses
For not living in Honor.
We begin instead to emphasize the "experience" and not the Creator Himself.

Take this to another train of thought...
What about everything "good" we've put up in front of ourselves
Professing to be godly.
Here's my examples and here's where, even I, am starting to get uncomfortable
And the color is starting to creep up MY neck.
What "righteous issues" do we set up right there next to God.
You know the ones, "cleanliness is next to godliness"
Or (I'm getting real uncomfortable now) for Charismatics who
Are so focused on getting to "the next level in prayer, worship, you name it"
That they have made that an idol to achieve, rather than honoring, glorifying and thanking God
And allowing Him to move them further into communion with Him,
And if He doesn't give them another "experience" to still honor, glorify and thank Him.

Oh no, you're not off the hook yet.
What about the Mennonites, who can so easily set up "church standards" to levels of
"next to godliness".
Or the Baptists who think if you've had one drink, you're hell-bound.
Or the....   Or the....
You fill in the blanks. 
But let's move beyond denominations and their "godliness".  What about yours?
What's your hang-up?  What's your "next to godliness"issue?
I'm seeing mine, and 'what the sam hill', it ain't pretty.

But before I get swept any further in, and end up with crazy theology
About sin not being sin
I'm going to turn back the clock, gain some kingdom time
Because I don't need this ship to sink under the weight of my idols
And everything I professed to be wise.
I don't want to be taken in by anymore vain imaginings, or stupid speculations.
And I sure don't need my kids growing up with a twisted view of what love is
Or what God tolerates.
Because there are so few of us left, us Christ followers, who want to live in Truth
And not back down from it, in the name of Tolerance.

And just as a side-note: my list of blogs that I love just got shorter.
It's not worth the time, ladies, to read "good literary content" only to find your self
Blindsided, and short-changed.



So the scary day has come and gone.
I have now turned the mostly dreaded 3-0.
And really, it's not so bad.
It wasn't so long ago that I remember some older friends of ours
Having a 30th birthday
And thinking:  "I don't ever want to get there, you end up being so lifeless and old!"
You know, the usual picture in your mind of the 30 yr. old
Who somehow got stuck in the 90's and is just so....uncool.
They've settled for sweat pants and baggy t-shirts.
A goatee or hair unstyled and pulled into a ponytail.
And I wasn't EVER going to get there, if I had any choice.
Well, apparently I DON'T have a choice, it was inevitable
This birthday.
And it's been pretty great.
I think 30 is the new 20.  Only your smarter, more worldly wise.
You can pretend to have your act together
-Because everyone expects you to by this time-
But still get out that crazy, fun side when you want to.
-Because you're just not THAT old-
Now I'm trying on my 30 year old self
 And apparently I'm doing a bang up job of embarrasing myself
In front of my own camera, thanks to the random photographer who picked it up.
There are days, my husband rolls his eyes and tries to slide under the table
Because I belong to him...not that he doesn't love it, it's just a little overwhelming.

For my birthday, some little childs of mine
Made me a great school scene out of legos
Because they claim I'm the best teacher ever.
Shhh...but I think it's because this "teacher" is a push-over.
Moving on.
My sweetheart suprised me by taking off work at lunch time
And coming home with 30 roses,
A new camera card, tripod, and certificate for a new LENSE!
He also brought me to tears
By promising me the afternoon off while he watched littles
And he had scheduled an appointment at the local castle
for a mani/pedi for me
Talk about a heart winner!
Loved every minute of it.

Now we're in neck deep in wedding prep.
The time could be counted in hours from now
This week was spent sewing cute little girls' dresses...

 Putting together literally HUNDREDS of programs
Can you say huge wedding?

 And fanagling floral arrangements.
( I know, technically that's not a word, but who's technical?)
I'm hardly ever sure of what my finished product will look like before I start
So it's always a bit of a risk.
But I love how these arrangements came out.
 I'm rather liking  the jewel tones in these flowers
And the peacock feathers add a little unexpected punch of color and symmetry.

We're off to spend the afternoon creating chaos at the reception hall
And dinner with the fam.
Pray that I make it through the weekend without coming unglued.


Falling In...

Well, it appears that the month of December
Opened wide its mouth and swallowed me whole.
Where did that month go?
It's all just a bit of a blur in my mind
There were Christmas parties to attend
And Christmas banquets to plan.
There were wedding projects to complete
And so many "lasts" for my family to spend with my mom
Before her big day.
Last shopping excursion, last Christmas dinner, last big vacation, etc.
Now we're into January and I'm wondering
Why did I fall into Dec.and allow it to swallow me?
I'd love to say that I did it with grace and we're so much richer for the experience
But really I'd be only fooling myself.
It was done with a lot more grit your teeth and impatience
And even some unkind words.
I do feel tho, that God was merciful.
There are so many moments that could have risen stress levels to Titanic proportions
But instead were very controllable and sane.

 There was a birthday to celebrate for the big boy
He celebrated with McQueen
Because apparently, when you're a boy-child,
Cars is all that--and so much more.
Finn McMissile, Mater and Holly Shiftwell were also in attendance.

 Myron and I also planned and executed a banquet for a local business.
Altho catering is not technically in my everyday job description
We do have a whole lot of fun a couple times a year
Doing it for special occasions.
So far, we've only done dinners for people we know
But every once in a while someone will ask when we're going to take it on the road.
I love planning the whole "experience" part of a banquet,
And apparently, the food is good too, even tho that is usually not the element of it
That I enjoy the most
We went with a winter theme, more than an actual Christmas one for this party.
I loved the black and white plates I found at Wal-Mart
We paired them with paper doilies, juniper berries, greens and logs cut as candle holders.
Love that the logs I found had these beautiful white fungi/mushrooms growing on them.
If I could have, I would've used birch logs, but in this part of the state they're scarce.
 And then there was the "bachelorette" party for my mom
Having an overnight pajama party for mostly 50+ something year olds
Is, um, interesting.
My sister and I spent most of the night in gales of laughter.
Who knew that their inner child would come out in the wee hours
And that we would be so well entertained?
 We had too much yummy food
Which, mixed with all the craziness and laughter, was good for the tummy.
And yes, even matching pajamas.
Everywhere you turned there were fuzzy blue and pink polka dotted pj's
It was enough to make one dizzy and succumb to dark tinted sun glasses.
I'm sure my mom will not soon forget
All the fun and love her friends showed her.

How do you make it all happen?
This fun, and even necessary, events of the holidays
And not fall into the New Year exhausted
And into bed at night wishing that morning wouldn't come for weeks and weeks.
How do you maintain the joy of soul and contentment of spirit
While rushing about. 
How do you maintain God-given relationships while putting forth so much time and energy to make those very people feel special?
I would give anything some days to see time as cyclical,
Tomorrow I'll just have more, no need to rush today to get it all done.
Ease up on the fuss, and have yourself another cup of coffee.
Untie the knot in your shorts, and breathe deep.
Content yourself in what you've accomplished today
"Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself".