Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Cardboard Sign

Yesterday I sat at a stoplight after I dropped the children off at school.
There was a  man on the sidewalk with his back to me.    
He had on nice camo pants, a shirt and a ball cap.
He was bent over the bushes, looking for something.
His head was cocked to his shoulder, holding his cell phone.
For some reason, he caught my attention and I continued to watch him, hoping I'd see what he discovered in the bushes!
Then he got off the phone, slipped it into his pocket and turned around to reveal a cardboard sign that read,
"Anything will help."
My light turned green and I left.

The whole scene confused me as though I'd fallen down the rabbit hole
after eating the forbidden cake.
I was a little stunned.
"Is he homeless?"  I thought.
"How does he pay for his cell phone?"
"Where does the bill get sent to?"

Obviously I don't know this man's story.
Perhaps he has a home where he receives his cell phone bills, but he just can't make ends meet.
I have no idea, I just know that the contrast of the scene on the sidewalk puzzled me.
I thought I knew who he was by his clothes, cell phone and his intent on finding the hidden treasure in the bushes.  But then his cardboard sign totally changed what I thought I knew about this man.

When I got home I kept thinking about that man.
Things often are not as they appear.
Our cardboard sign can either reveal our truth, or perpetuate a lie.
We might behave like we have it all together, only to turn around to reveal our cardboard sign that says, "I'm dying inside, help me."
Or we might daily complain, constantly live in "if only...," feel purposeless, insignificant, only to turn around and reveal our cardboard sign that says,
"I have abundant life in Christ because I put my trust in Him."

Such sharp contrasts.
Confusing, puzzling contrasts.

I confess that I'm more like the latter sign holder.
Since the children went back to school I've been a little down and discouraged.  I thought I'd get some clear vision of my purpose now that I have some extra time, but it hasn't come yet. I've been a little bored (dare I say it) and just feeling insignificant.
But all the while, I'm holding a cardboard sign, my reality if you will, that says,


Kind of like that man on the sidewalk, my sign has been hidden to passers-by.  Hidden to me.  My reality and my truth has been face down on the street while I behave in a manner that is completely contrary to my truth.

Today I'm letting go of the lie and holding fast to my cardboard sign.

I have abundant life in Christ because I put my trust in Him and He promised it to me.
I am significant.
I have purpose.

All of that because of Jesus.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Dream Life

My Aunt came into town for one quick day and brought with her piles of my Grandmother's recipes!
But she also brought something that I hardly have the words to describe.
It is a notebook that my Grandmother filled every page, in detail, 
with all of her dreams for a perfect life. 

House, furniture, dishes, clothing for every season, food, table linens, baby clothes, nursery plans...
everything is spelled out in vivid detail, including precisely cut out pictures from magazines.
Not one of the pictures has a frayed edge.
There are no ripples from the glue she used!
Her cursive writing with a liquid ink pen is beautiful and without mistake.
The whole book is remarkable.

We read through this book, shocked at the painstaking detail, "2 red bracelets on one arm," to be worn with the blue dot dress.
We're guessing she wrote this book sometime in the late 1930's, before she was married or had children because who would have time for such a thing with a new baby!!!
The pages tell of a young girl's dream for an ideal life.
They allow for a peek into one girl's hopes and wishes of exactly what her life should look like.
The pages intrigued me.
They caused me to laugh at the once esteemed fashions.
And they made me cry.
My Grandmother's life was not at all this dreamy.
I've learned things of her life that are far too personal to share, but I know with confidence they were never part of her "Perfect Honeymoon" or life.

Last Friday, my husband and I celebrated our 11th anniversary.
I posted a picture of us going out with the caption:
"This is what 20 years looks like.  9 years of dreaming, wishing, hoping... 11 years of living the dream! (And digging our heels in!)

For 9 years, since the day I saw this man, I dreamed of him.
We dated off an on (mostly off!), but no matter what our status, I dreamed of him.
And in my dreams, I only saw the good things, the great things, the perfect things.
I romanticised his faults and to me, he was my ideal.
After our final break-up, and when I finally dreamed of him no more, that was when he crept back into my life and wooed me and pursued me. 
 This time I saw his faults, and chose to marry him anyway.
It's been 11 years.
There have been many moments that I would have never eloquently written about in a book with perfectly pasted pictures.  There have been many season that were dreadful and more like nightmares than dreams.
But in these 11 years I've slowly thrown out the pages of my book that held impossible dreams, unattainable perfections, and unrealistic hopes.
I've settled into the truth of forgiveness and redemption and how, only by God's grace and mercy, I can say that I love this man with all of my heart and come what may, I'm going to dig my heels in and fight to keep my vows.
True love is about seeing someone, with all their faults and flaws, and choosing to love them anyway.
It's a choice.
I'm grateful that he still chooses me!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


This past weekend I received a very special gift.
My Aunt from Illinois came down to my house for a day while she was on her California visit and she brought piles and piles of my Grandmother's recipes.
Pure gold spilled out all over our coffee table!

I was beside myself and almost didn't want to crack open the large manila envelopes filled with numbers and ingredients and generations of stories, because the anticipation was almost as delicious as what was inside.
As I poured over the recipes, I'd ask my Aunt questions, "do you remember your mom making this?  what exactly is 'oleo'?  do you make these recipes?"  
It was so much fun to hear the stories that these old recipe cards brought up.
Stories of holidays, potlucks, birthdays, reunions, Sunday afternoon fudge!

As I found the noodle recipe, I told my own memory of Grandma coming to visit and making homemade noodles with beef for supper. 
 I was excited at the thought of trying to tackle these noodles now myself!
How I wish my Grandma Jones was still here to ask guiding questions.
Recipes are like guides.
They give specific details, but what if you don't know what a "butter size walnut" is!  Or what about "sweet milk" and "sour milk"?  It would be so nice to have someone around to ask these questions, someone who has made these recipes and knows the answers to my questions.

Grandma's well worn Bread Recipe that she used for loaves and for her famous cinnamon rolls.  The rolls that have eluded me for many years!!!  I would give anything to have just one more day with her to teach me how to make her decadent cinnamon rolls.
But without her, I continue to try on my own, try new things, add things, take away others, just trying to recapture that one memory filled bite of Grandma's heart and soul.
I'm excited to pour through these recipes and get cooking!
I'm sure many years of trial and error lie ahead of me, but I'm going to enjoy every moment and the memories that come flooding back along the way!

And PS, how crazy cute is this little Duncan Hines' cook book?
Cute little man in a suit cooking in the kitchen.  
"All-Time Favorite Recipes"  all for 50 cents!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

You Should! Oh No I Shouldn't!

I had a meeting at our church this morning, and as I arrived and saw the parking lot full, I realized that today was the kick-off to the women's Bible study.
As I walked into the church, many women were gathering to meet at the opening session.
I was trying to make my way to the church offices where I was meeting a pastor to chat
 when I heard, 
"Oh hi Raeanne," from a familiar voice.
I turned to see a friend of mine who assumed I was there for the Bible study.
When I asked her if she were there for the study, she said yes and asked, "aren't you?"
"No, I'm not going to do it this year," I replied.
"You should," she said.

In my somewhat feisty and sassy way I told her that, "oh no, I shouldn't!" and told her I know it will be a great study and perhaps I'd join in January, bur for now I'm taking the Fall off.

Now that my children are in school and I have my days open without 3 little people, it would be really easy for me to sign up for all sorts of good things that I would enjoy.
Bible study being one of them!
Bible studies are great.
But I had a sense that I wanted to get back to a place of living my life with intention and not just doing things because they were good and I'd enjoy them.
I want to know down deep in my soul that God has ordained my commitments and that means not diving into anything just because now I have the freedom to.
Some people don't understand that.
The woman I saw today was quick to tell me I "should" do the study!  
But I know what I should do is take a quiet few months to be still and listen.
To step away from the good opportunities around me and wait.
Wait until God stirs my heart and says, "this is the way, walk in it."
Waiting can be hard.
Am I wasting time?
But I believe things must become still.
Very still.
Painfully still, 
in order for me to have the space to truly hear God and be directed by Him.
Even if that means saying no to some good things like women's Bible study for now!

I read Susie Larson's post today on Ann Voskamp's blog and laughed!
"Nothing drains us more 
than signing up for things 
God never asked us to do."
I guess I need to read Susie's new book, "Your Sacred Yes," because she's speaking my language!!
Go read her post!!!

Happy Weekend

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Supper Club

It all started last year when I invited a group of women into my home and 
participate in the study of Ann Voskamp's book,
"1000 Gifts."
It was wonderful and the group of women God brought together far exceeded my expectations.
When the study was over, we just couldn't part ways and decided to start a Supper Club and meet once a month to cook, eat and laugh together, centering around Shauna Niequist's book
"Bread And Wine."

Let me just say that the monthly dinners with the Supper Club have nourished me 
in more ways than just one!
This Godly group of women have challenged me, loved me, affirmed me, fed me, prayed for me, 
and given me many reasons to laugh!!
I have to admit, when I first though of asking some women to join me in my home to go through "1000 Gifts," I had a very specific group in mind.  
But one by one, the women I thought would benefit from reading that book, were unable to attend.
And one by one, God spoke a name to me of another group of women who weren't even on my radar!
I wanted to minister to some women around me, 
but God wanted me to be ministered to by some very special women!
We've shared over a dozen meals together and 
I'm so blessed to be part of such a special group of ladies.
I love being surprised by God - when I think I have a good idea, He has a great one!!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

James' Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

"What are you going to do now that all of your kids are in school?"
As I patiently wait for the answer to this daunting question,
I'm baking cookies!!!

Honestly, these are the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies I've ever had!

1 1/2 c. butter (3 sticks)
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 T vanilla
2 eggs
4 c. flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp. salt (I just do a dash or 2)
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Mix top 5 ingredients together.
Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl.
Add dry ingredients to the top 5 and mix just until combined.
Form round dough balls on cookie sheet
Bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Then pour glasses of cold milk and wait for the kids to get home from school to enjoy them!   
(if you can wait that long!!)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Stepping Out Into The Unknown

My greatest childhood memories were on the lake.
Every summer we did a lot of water skiing.
A few years back some friends invited us to spend a few days with them on Bass Lake and I immediately was flooded with childhood memories!
The smell of the boat exhaust, lake water, and pine trees - a cocktail of summer!
It was so intoxicating, we've tried to get back up there every summer since!
My greatest highlight of this summer was our trip to the lake!

Tube rides, 2 out of 3 kids up on skies, jumping off the boat, breakfast burritos on the beach, jiffy pop, ice cream, sunsets, Yosemite the list goes on and on!
It was just a fabulous time.
Maybe even our best family vacation ever!

With all the glories of Yosemite and Bass Lake, my favorite part of the trip was an early morning on the beach alone.

Bass Lake holds many memories for me.
Many years ago (20 to be exact!) I came to work as a water ski instructor and boat driver at a Christian Camp by Bass Lake.  I came down on that lake every morning to fuel up the boats and get ready for a day of teaching kids to ski.  I had just graduated from Pepperdine and I didn't have a clue what I was going to do with my life.
On the shore of that lake I prayed and sought direction for my life.
What would I do after camp ended?
Where would I live?
What did God have for my life?
Well, summer camp came to an end and I had no answers.
I was asked to stay on through the Fall for family camps and continue to drive boats.
Great, I bought 2 more months God!  You still have time to reveal your great plan for me!
(because obviously He didn't meet my previous deadline!)
October came and camp was closing up.  My time at the lake was over and I was stepping out into the great unknown without any kind of direction.
I bought a few more days by hanging out with friends I had met; surely God was waiting until the last minute to reveal his grand plan for my life.
Surely I wouldn't drive home with no sense of vision or direction.
But time ran out and in disbelief, I loaded up my car to drive to my parent's house.
As I drove away, I remember pulling off and getting out of my car in the woods.
"You missed it," I yelled as loud as I could.
"What am I supposed to do now?," I yelled even louder into the expanse of pine trees that didn't even tremble at my question.
I just couldn't believe that God hadn't pulled back the curtain even a little bit to show me where to go next.  He was just silent.

20 years later, I'm sitting on the shore of Bass Lake, asking God some of the same questions.
What will I do after Summer ends?
What do you have for my life God?
After 2 years of homeschooling, all 3 of my children started school last week.
As Summer came to a close, I was repeatedly asked,
"What are you going to do now that all your children are in school?"
I spent a few moments feeling lost and panicked that I had no plan, no direction.
But luckily those moments were short.
I've learned my lesson.
Over the past 20 years, I've learned that
God is seldom on my time line, but never late!
I think I need to know the next step just before my foot hits the ground, but sometimes God wants me to keep walking, moving forward, with no apparent direction,
but with a blind faith to trust His timing.
In His time, He will guide me and direct me into the next chapter.
For now, I'm taking one more step forward in faith and I can't wait to see where it takes me!


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