Proverbs 31 on Tuesdays...

On January 31st, 1999, my husband got down on one knee and asked me to spend my life with him. It was as good of a proposal as any. Surprising, romantic, and flattering. There was something special about this proposal, however, that reassured my heart this proposal was straight from the Lord.

In the back of Eric's bible, he showed me a page where he had been keeping a list...a list of all qualities of the Proverbs 31 woman. He explained that for the entire 7 months we had been dating he had been watching me...watching me and then reading all about the Proverbs 31 woman.

I remember wanting to melt into a big black hole as my unflattering characteristics flashed through my mind. Eric, however, remembered the dating months quite differently than I did. Each time he saw something in me that reminded me of "her" he would write it down next to the list of characteristics he had going in the back of his bible.

Fast forward 14 years, and I still am trying to keep up with this fantastic lady! I try to burn the candles at both ends...be trustworthy with my husband's pay check...work at all things as if I were working for the Lord...bring in foods from afar, ahem, (the organic grocery store in Ames Iowa.) You get the point. Each night I lay down my head, I can make a whole list of areas I have failed if I allow myself to.

Every once in a while, Eric will jokingly say something about her...you know...her, staying up too late, or her, the one that decided not to cook one too many times this month. But he NEVER criticizes my decisions in the end. He is very supportive and understanding, but his words are very important to me.

This morning on the way to our Classical Conversations group, he said something out loud that I really needed to hear. He wasn't joking, or being all too serious. He was just being himself, Freudian slips and all...

"Kids, did you know that your mommy got up at 5:30am this morning? She made us breakfast potatoes and bacon, and she juiced us our favorite juice! Great job Mommy! Kids, isn't Mommy the best Proverb's 31 woman......................on Tuesdays?"

Wow...hard to hear. I turned and looked at him as he tried to repair his sentence, and reassure me that he thinks I am like "her" everyday of the week.

I know his words were accidental, not thought out, or planned. He was simply trying to compliment me on the fly and that doesn't pan out much for the poor guy, even though he tries. Despite his pure intentions with his compliment, the words still stung deep into my heart. I went on with our morning, but once I got home and had some time for head space, I could end up at one place only...the cross.

Search my heart O' God. If there is any truth to the statement that accidentally came out of this kind and gentle man's mouth, please Lord hold me close, and gently scrape away the scales that blind me. If there is any truth here Lord, please reveal it to me tenderly as my heart might break. If there is something to be learned here, Lord, conviction to be had, please whisper softly Lord because my ears may not withstand your words.

Proverbs 31:10 "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies." Amanda, be a treasure to your husband each and every day I gift you...it is a GIFT. Do not take it for granted...

1 Thessalonians 4:11 "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anyone." Amanda, allow your hands to age beautifully. Work hard, and simplify so you don't miss one opportunity to serve me...

1 Peter 3:3-4 "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and find clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God's sight." Amanda, remain quiet and gentle, and surround yourself with things of my beauty...allow yourself to wear purple and be reminded of the work I am doing in you.

I am sure there will be much more to come as I mull all of this chapter over. I have read it a million times, but God's word is so fresh and new.

How have you been doing in these areas? I pray that my processing while sipping on this cup of joe will encourage you to process as well. We are all in this together and I would love to hear your thoughts...

Much love,


Sin-namon Acid...

I sit here, listening to the stainless steel kettle as it bubbles and pops something unfamiliar. Not like tea water, but something much more acidic, yet fragrant and full of caffeine still...

My tiny little cup, traveled from across the globe, waits patiently as Its' heat reignites.

My mind wanders back to the sermon at church today and I shutter just a little. The message, in Peter, spoke to me. It spoke to me in a way, much like my much awaited cup of Cinnamon Vanilla Nut coffee speaks to me right now.

My coffee, on the edge of the counter, had already been brewed once today, yet there it sat...waiting, expectantly to roll across taste buds, delight the brain, and be swallowed down deep. Finally, a moment. Kids are snug, and there the cup sat. Waiting...growing stronger with each moment as it longed to penetrate my soul.

My soul...ah yes...staring at the passage from Peter, knowing it had been brewed once before. In fact, this exact passage has been brewed several times before, but it was allowed to sit. On the edge of who knows where, this passage, yes, this passage has been fragrantly waiting for some time.

I sip the piping hot coffee and it rolls down...down, down, burning, more acidic now. Similarities with the passage in Peter no less. Today I decided to drink the passage, reheated and more impressionable than before.

Dear friends, you are like foreigners and strangers in this world. (Much like my coffee in a tea kettle no less! Strange for sure...foreign to it's design...it's purpose. I wonder. I ponder. This world, if not our home, how much tastier we will be once we get there...)

I beg you to avoid the evil things your bodies want to do that fight against your soul. Fight against your soul...

Why...why do I struggle so. Perhaps the flavoring in my coffee could be spelled differently this night. Sin-namon Vanilla Nut.

Sin. Taken in, first, sip by sip. Then, once the burn cools just a little, gulp. by. gulp.
Sin becomes our passion...our idol.  We desire sin more than any other desirable thing. We think about it, obsess about it, plan it and indulge in it. We WANT it and, before we know it, our souls lie burned and naked before the Lord.

The good news? Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so we would stop living for sin and start living for what is right. You are HEALED because of his wounds. You were like sheep that wandered away but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls...

Thank God for the wounds that He bore for us all. Thank God that He can carry our heavy loads, and that we can be brought back to the Overseer of our souls...

I pray this passage will linger with us all. That we will brew, and re-brew until it infuses just right. Until it penetrates our hearts, changes our minds, and wins over our souls.

May we proceed with caution in this foreign land...

1 Peter 2:11-25



I keep quiet, yet I have something to say...
My feelings rise up, don't let them out, don't let them out, don't let them out...I say
There is no room in this circumstance for them, ah yes...from the past they do stem.

With you...I will not dance, not now, not like this...
Forgiveness, and healing with the sunrise you wish.

Your words flow so freely, so crafty, so bold,
like the thrashing of wind on an evening so cold.
How will I get up, move forward, recover...
When your words rattle my core like lightening...like thunder.

I am not any of those things you declare! Take them back, take them back, I can't take this despair.
I will fall to my knees, broken soul...heart bleeds
I will kneel there for awhile for he cares...yes, he sees...

He knows me, He adores me, He died for me too
I will lean on him, hear from him, and it is there I will pray for you.

Dear God, please forgive him, for he knows not what he does...
He is a wander too, looking for your strengthening love.
Please forgive him, please for give him, he is a wretched man
but you died for him too, so he could lead and take a stand.

He makes mistakes, yet so do I...are we something much the same?
Self seeking, self righteous, wicked and ashamed?
Tonight, my nakedness before you exposes me so raw
I search for you, long for you, Lord...I relive the fall.

Bring on your restoration, O' God, you are my King.
Be Victorious in dark places, for this sin, it has been seen.
Let your light shine from my heart, inflate my soul like a balloon...
Float me up to heaven, prepare for me, my groom...

-Amanda Williams-


Wading Through Life's Storms Together

I am not real sure why I have waited until now to write this post. It has been wrestling around in my head and heart for months now!   I guess it was the middle of last year that both E and I got this crazy tugging at our hearts...something from God about homeschooling. What????? Us???? Why Lord? NO WAY!  

Oh, Yes, that is what we said to God. End of discussion, door slammed shut...dead bolt locked, boards went up, and before long, NO one would be able to open that door again!  OR, so we thought...

After a few months went by and we finished enjoying our summer, we enrolled our son in school, without a thought about the above craziness mentioned, however, once the end of fall neared, we could hear that calm and gentle, yet...CRAZY voice again. About that time, E and I were heading to a bead and breakfast to get away and rest. We were to do nothing but read, spend time together, sleep, and hear from God. This was totally out of our element and we struggled more than any of the other couples there!  We ended up really enjoying the week together, but were baffled by the message God was revealing to us once again...while there....in the quiet, we could hear him so clearly this time, and although we still FELT the message was crazy, it didn't come across as so...crazy...this,time...

Once returning home, a friend of mine from out of town popped by, and I shared with here this battle...no, raging river...no, all out WAR that was going on within my heart. What would homeschooling mean for us? I would be horrible at it! I am a perfectionist and I would push that on my children! I don't have a degree...I am not qualified...Our house is too small...etc. etc. etc.

She sat across the table from me with her cup of coffee and told me her story, and a beautiful story it was...

"You see, A, if you planted a little seed for a tree outside, and allowed it to grow all on it's own, once the storms came, it would break off at ground level because it didn't have a foundation strong enough to withstand the storms. However, if you planted that seed in a green house, it would get the protection it needed from the storms while it was young, being able to grow a strong foundation, and THEN, when the time is right,  be placed outside to weather the storms."

It all made sense to me...I was trying to mull it over in my mind..."So, the little tree, growing in the green house, still receives God's love, sunshine, and care as it grows, but it only gets to WATCH the outside as it develops below the earth? Well...that sounded good, and I supposed that would work, but something just didn't compute for me... I was sure she was right though...she had been doing this work in her heart far longer than I, and I was sure the same work God was doing in her heart, He wanted to do in mine!"

That is what I decided, but I never stopped wrestling with the word picture she had given me. You see...it is a beautiful word picture...a beautiful visual of how a parent is doing their job to develop that foundation for growth. That is so important! I just wasn't sure that is HOW God was calling US to do it.

The next day, I drove up to our church lot...we are a newer church, land is less than 5 years developed, and I sometimes take my dogs to run in the open stretch of grass there. As I pulled the car in the parking lot,  I drove to the edge and stopped...right in front of...dare I say it...dare you believe it...a little TREE! I stared at it, took it all in. I begged God for Mercy as I often don't understand what he is trying to say to me. I noticed how the tree had been planted in the ground as a baby seed. It was small and frail, but very guided. There it stood...out in the middle of nowhere...for the whole world to see, for the whole world to touch...for the storms to toss around to and fro, all by itself. I felt sad for the little tree. Then I looked closer. The tree grew straight up towards the sunshine. It had little sticks on each side of it's frail little trunk, directing and guiding it upward. It was tied in place by two sturdy strings, and was protected around it's base. This little tree wasn't alone after all! Sure, it looked all alone out in the middle of nowhere, but it was guided to it's core. It was being held up while it grew in foundation, and it was being protected, NOT sheltered.

That was it for me! I raced inside where my husband was working and told him how I wanted to honor God with what He was asking us to do! I wanted to go outside, into the world with our little trees (kids, ha!) and help them, guide them, and teach them which way to go. I wanted to stand there with them as they weathered the storms so they could LEARN how to navigate through them while keeping their eyes on the Lord. I did want to homeschool, and obey God, but I didn't want to shelter my kids either. I had been bogged down by this fear, but now, I felt FREE! I  had never been so excited to obey God in my whole life!

I know homeschooling is not for everyone! It says in Romans 14:22 
Your beliefs about these things should be kept secret between you and God. People are happy if they can do what they think is right without feeling guilty. Anything that is done without believing it is right, is a sin.

Obviously, our homeschooling will be no kept secret! Everyone in town is asking what we plan to do, HOWEVER, just because God convicted US to do this, didn't mean I needed to press this on, or start judging others for doing something different! I was encouraged in reading this verse to know that God doesn't convict us of things so we will go and convict others. That is NOT our job! I believe that job can be left to the Holy Spirit! It is OUR job to hear God, obey God and do what is right for OUR calling.  

Romans 12:1-3 says
Offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but be changed within by a new way of thinking. (E and my thinking was changed all right!) Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. Because God has given me a special gift, I have something to say to everyone among you. Do not think you are better than you are. You must decide what you really are by the amount of faith God has given you. 

I had to ask myself...do I have FAITH that God will overcome all of my inadequacies, fears, and concerns? Do I believe God will protect my children in their learning, even if I mess up? Do I believe that God will honor and bless us if we chose to obey him? The answers were / are, Yes, yes, and yes.

So, I go by faith, to obey God, and may he refine me!

Deuteronomy 6-9
Always remember these commands I give you today. Teach them to your children, and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them down and tie them to your hands as a sign. Tie them to your forehead to remind you, and write them on your doors and gates.

Wading through life's storms together...



Trading in my Jersey...getting in on the game...

Today, I was reading a blog post on www.steadymom.com, and the words written there validate just how I have been feeling!

...when contemplating organization... 
Life with little ones is always evolving. Just when you think you have something figured out, the entire game plan changes, the phase passes, and there’s something new to tackle. 

Today, these few short sentences gave me freedom and a VOICE to how I have been feeling! I am always wondering where my organization skills went...why I am all the sudden NOT organized, and I have often felt bad about it.  I wondered if I had just given up,  I didn't care anymore, or if I truly understood something bigger.

Not having much space in our little home, and adding another person since we have moved here has been an EXTREME challenge for me! However, I still put EXTREME pressure on myself that everything should be just so.

I always feel like the circumstances are rolling right in front of me and I am running to catch them...as if I am a player in a football game and my opponent has the ball (the new circumstance) right in front of me. I am running, running, running to stay in the game, but can't quite keep up. Everytime I reach out to grasp hold of the circumstances, I fall flat on my face. 

So, this dear woman...writing these words...saying how I have been feeling on paper, a blog, a published book, no less! I was elated to say the least! 

She is right! Things are always evolving with our kids! New phases, new game plays, new independent growth from our kids, and I am doing exactly that...trying to TACKLE the situation! Trying to tackle it right to the ground like a big, burley football player, until I can get a handle on the situation. 

The problem is, as a mom, God did not make me an opponent of my children so that i could tackle them to the ground, control them, slow them down until I have perfected them! He made me a mom so I could be another player in the game...a player with a huge part, in a game that lasts too short of time, and goes way too fast! 

I guess what I am trying to say is that, today, I am trading in my opposing team jersey. I am no longer going to use my striving for organization and having everything just so, slow the game down. I am choosing to get in the game and help my kids run in for the touch down! I am pushing them onward towards the goal, rather than trying to tackle them down with my perfectionism, as if they were a player on the oppsing team! www.steadymom.com

I am so interested in hearing how some of you are doing at this! Please let me know!


Tis the Season?

I was forwarded this article today that connected with my soul. I am curious what it does for yours?

A Counter-Cultural Quiet
by Adam McHugh

Tuesday, Dec 08, 2009

For some people, the Advent season on the church calendar is one of the most anticipated times of the year. For some, there is no other time in which their love of God is stronger, there is no other time in which they are more aware of God’s mercy in their lives and in the world, there is no other time in which their hearts go out to others with such affection, and there is no other time in which their joy is more profound.

I am not one of those people.

For me this time of year has always been a spiritually dry time. There is a line in a Counting Crows song that says “You can see a million miles tonight, but you can’t get very far.” That is my experience during this season. Every year I anticipate it with everyone else, hoping that this year will be different. Maybe this year the earth shattering experience of God will take place, and I’ll be able to take in the seismic joy that should result from the knowledge that God entered the course of human history to reclaim it as his own. But by December 26th, I’m left with disappointment, another year of not getting very far.

I experience a deep division within myself during Advent. My inner world stirs with longings for deep experiences of grace, for moments of pregnant silence, for times of candlelit reflections on the fullness of deity wrapped in a child. But my outer world is harassed by the rampant activity, the hurried crowds, and the consumeristic clutter of the season.

I think my personal division reflects a broader cultural division. I’m willing to suspend my cultural cynicism for a moment and speculate that at the root of American consumer Christmas is a deep seated desire for meaning. I may be way off on this, but I suspect the decorations, the music, the saturated social calendars, the capitalistic flurry, and the caloric overload are attempts at finding something true, something significant. Hopes for discovering community and transcendence. There is a neighborhood near my own that puts on an unbelievable show of lights, music, and decorations for the weeks leading up to Christmas. Cars line up for blocks to meander through the illuminated streets and residents sit in their driveways around firepits and chat with the passersby. Aside from laying a carbon footprint likely visible from outer space, it is a powerful display of community spirit.

The problem, I think, is that our culture doesn’t know how to truly celebrate. Overconsumption and overstimulation are the only ways we know how to mark a special occasion. Even though most of implicitly know it doesn’t work and that we’re going to wake up with a hangover, it’s all we know how to do. When there is a significant event, we commemorate it by scurrying around, spending absurd amounts of money, gathering a crowd, and turning up the volume. If we’re not weighed down by anxiety and insomnia, then it must not be a very important occasion. Our holiday “celebrations” therefore seem destined to only get bigger and bigger, because we have built up such a tolerance.

Many of us in the church live in the tension of this religious and cultural ambivalence. Our Christmas eves are often a confusing recipe of ingredients like these: the onslaught of relatives, massive food preparation, stressful and boisterous dinners, hurrying everyone into the car, attending a hot, packed Christmas eve worship service in which we light candles, and sing lyrics like:

Silent night, holy night?All is calm, all is bright?Round yon Virgin Mother and Child?Holy Infant so tender and mild?Sleep in heavenly peace?Sleep in heavenly peace

Then we rush home, hustle the kids into bed so we can finish wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings, because they’ll be up in 5 hours. Sleep in heavenly peace indeed.

I was asked to write about this topic because I just published a book about Christian introverts, those in the church who prefer a quieter, slower, more contemplative lifestyle and who, for those reasons, often find themselves on the fringes both of the culture and of Christian community. I saw a blog post recently that called January 2nd “Happy Introverts Day” because of the notorious nature of the holiday season for those of us who find social interaction tiring and sometimes stressful. But the truth is that the need for a quieter, less cluttered, more reflective Advent season is not restricted to introverts. The clatter of the holidays has caused people of all temperaments to turn from the inner places of our souls, contributing to the superficiality of our spiritual practice during this season. We need to find a new way to celebrate.

In the early centuries of the Church, celebrating Christmas was a counter-cultural activity. It’s unclear whether the church fathers chose December 25th to co-opt the already entrenched pagan festival of the Unconquered Sun, or whether the pagan holiday was established to rival the Church’s celebration of the birth of Christ. What is clear is that Christmas was a subversive event, providing an alternative to the mainstream culture’s celebration.

In our world, quiet is counter-cultural. I’m not only referring to quiet on the outside, but also quiet on the inside. In fact, it may be easier to shut out the external voices than it is to silence the internal noise. It’s often those inner voices, especially the unacknowledged ones, that compel us to fill our lives with movement and agendas and spending and eating. Our behaviors and hurry are echoes of our inner doubts about our worth. Sadly, in many ways the nature of our holiday celebrations reveal how incompletely we have embraced the actual message of Christmas.

In contrast to the dizzying nature of our cultural celebrations, the biblical narratives about Jesus’ birth speak in hushed tones about simple, unsophisticated scenes. The baby of prophecy, the King of kings, is born in a quiet town in an inconsequential region to unremarkable people and placed in a trough in a barn. Yet by the grace of God this spot becomes the center of the universe, the matrix of hope and redemption and salvation. The quiet, ordinary place becomes the beginning of the dramatic climax of the great Story. The birth of Jesus incarnates the promise that we are not alone and that we are loved beyond measure, recipients of a love that brings peace and stillness to our souls.

The birth of a child is both a time of poignant gratitude and a time of quiet anticipation.
I remember how friends of mine described the day they brought their first child home from the hospital. They placed him in his crib, in the room they had been preparing for months, and watched him sleep. For hours they sat in contented silence. My friend said “It was unlike any other moment in my life. It was the greatest moment of love we’d ever experienced, more intimate than even our wedding night. There was nothing else in the world we needed that day - we had everything.” Yet he also said that as he looked into his son’s eyes, he was full of anticipation. Who will my son be? What will he do in his life? Who will he marry? What will be his gifts, his calling? Like Mary the mother of Jesus, my friends stored up these things in their hearts and silently wondered who their child would become.

Advent is not only a season of reflection on events past. It is a season of quiet hope, as we await the second advent of our Lord Jesus, who will come and complete his reclamation project. Our celebration during this time of year is necessarily incomplete. In this season we must prepare small, quiet places in our individual souls and in our communities, still longing and waiting for the fulfillment of Jesus’ work and the rebirth of creation.

I’m still struggling with Advent, still reaching for something that I haven’t found yet. I do know that if there is any chance for deep experiences of God’s grace and love in this season, we need to open spaces for hope and attentiveness in our hearts. We can’t compel God to move, but we can clear away what distracts us from hearing his gentle voice. We can reduce the external clutter of the season by simplifying our celebration. We can slowly savor the biblical prophecies of the coming of the Messiah and the narratives about Jesus’ birth. We can devote time to silence and solitude as well as to corporate celebration. We can learn to say “no” when we find ourselves spinning from all the invitations and seasonal stimuli. We can listen to the voices of people who are not often heard over the cultural shouting – the poor, the hungry, the suffering around the world. We can prepare a quiet place for God to renew his love and rebirth his hope in us. 


Be careful little eyes...

I am sitting here, just having put my son to bed, listening to the presidential address... all I can think about is the advertising that keeps coming out of my tv all day. They speak words into my home that penetrate my heart. Victoria's secret...Victoria's secret show...it's getting hot in here, etc.

Oh yes, tonight...while our president speaks about pulling out of the war, or not to pull out of the war, millions of americans will be tuning into the victoria's secret fasion show (if you can call it that). I wonder what the demographics of that show will be...what genger will mostly tune in, and at what age will they be?

 I looked across the dinner table at my son and realized that he will be effected, taunted, tortured and deceived by shows like this in his future. What can I do...what can I say to protect my son? I want to shelter him from the very world I want him to enter and share the gospel with.

No, that is not the answer...there will be no sheltering from the world, so i am left to explain to him ABOUT the world and how we need to be different...Christlike, and set apart. I tucked him into pray, and all that came to my mind was this song...

Be careful little eyes what you see...be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little lips what you say, and be careful little feet where you go.

Aden and I talked on a 4 year old level what each of these things means, and Oh, Jesus...I beg you to protect him from the mass destruction of this type of temptation. Hear my prayer, Oh God!