Monday, April 27, 2009

The Maker’s Mark

"I collect antiques. Why? Because they're beautiful." —Broderick Crawford

The Maker's Mark

I love my Victorian quadraplate chocolate pot. When the pot maker formed my beloved pot, he stamped his mark on it. The maker's mark determines its worth. Wear, tear, dents, and damage diminish its value to the discriminator's eye.

As a child, antiques and ancient times captivated me. Oak and walnut antique furniture, old china, and depression glass decorated the homes of those I loved most—old people. As my legs swung from their antique dining chairs, they all sang the same vintage chorus, "Jesus loves you. Love Jesus."

The Bible and historical novels prompted my imagination. What would it be like to sashay around a palace in a beautiful dress fashioned from silk that traveled the Silk Road? What if a prince of a godly man courted me, sweeping my heart away along with his profession of forever love?

I wish my pot could share its memories with me. The first time I cleaned my pot, I wondered, Who was your original owner? Did they love you as much as I love you? How did you get that dent on your lid? Who disfigured your patina? Why were you discarded? Did the owner's heirs find you out of fashion?

My pot may have been a wedding gift given to celebrate love. A pewter-colored patina surrounds the once newly monogrammed "B." The worn handle shows that "B" loved it enough to use it often, rubbing the silver plating away. My less-than-gleaming memory maker probably graced "B's" table for many holidays, family celebrations, and special dinners for guests. Now it sits on my antique table. I enjoy filling it with hot water and my favorite tea to serve those who sit around my table making new memories to cherish.

The dents, dings, and worn silver on my antique chocolate pot remind me the inhospitableness of life and the hospitality offered by my Maker.

How to Fix Dents, Dings or Worn Silver

Rough use inflicted by others damages, discourages, and depresses me. Finances, bosses, friends, in-now-out-laws, family, and stressful circumstances dull hope's patina. I look for my Maker's imprint on my heart, searching for his mark that restores my emotions, spirit, and outlook.

Discarded by the baby daddy? For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth (Isaiah 54:5).

My Makers Mark? God stamped me:




Overwhelmed by negative thoughts? Because of the multitude of oppressions I cry out for help. God my Maker gives me songs in the night, teaches and makes me wiser. I worship, bow down, and kneel before the LORD my Maker (Job 35:9-11; Psalm 95:6).

My Makers Mark?




Fearful about your future? May you be blessed of the LORD, Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 115:15).

My Makers Mark?




Feeling shamed by your circumstances? He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God. He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished. My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth (Proverbs 14:31; 17:5:
Psalm 121:2).

My Makers Mark?




Struggling with abandonment? The Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—the LORD, remains faithful forever (Psalm 146:6).

My Maker's Mark?




Making All Things Beautiful in God's Time

The old things I value most are not vintage collectibles stamped with a man-made mark, denoting their worth. My priceless treasures include my family, old friends, well-worn relationships, and long-time companions—God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. I no longer value as truth the scratches or dents hard-pressed by men upon my heart. I prefer the restoration stamp of my Maker's mark—beautiful.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Dreamed a Dream

"Hope is the word which God has written on the brow of every man."—Victor Hugo

Les Miserables—The Miserable Ones

In grade eight, I inhaled the unabridged version of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables—over 1200 pages. I concealed the thick book under my desk at school and read during class. At night, I hid a light under my bed, so I could continue reading until dawn. It was my first page turner. Scenes, characters and life lessons in that book were forever ingrained into my memory.

When Andrew Lloyd Webber's hit Broadway show, Les Miserables, opened at The Pantages Theatre in LA, nothing could keep me from seeing my favorite book—ever—in musical form by my favorite musical composer. A friend secured the tickets and off I went with as the fifth wheel with two couples. My husband did not accompany me to the theatre, because it was shortly after my fifteenth wedding anniversary, when I discovered letters from my husband's mistress. My husband no longer had any interest in a relationship with me.

As Fantine belted out the heartbreaking ballad about unfulfilled dreams's, the Pantages' incredible sound system made it possible for my heart to feel every word of I Dreamed a Dream.

I sobbed. I related to every word.

Like Fantine, I was left alone, a single mother, unemployed, and feeling emotionally destitute.

The first verse reminded me of a time when my husband was kind and our love exciting. Adultery changed my husband. His words, his actions, and his attitudes towards me? Cruel. Heartless. I Dreamed a Dream represented all the pain I felt, the reconciliation that my heart desired, and the reality of my shame. Fantine's soulful song embodied my dreams.




I Dreamed a Dream

There was a time when men were kind

When their voices were soft

And their words inviting

There was a time when love was blind

And the world was a song

And the song was exciting

There was a time

Then it all went wrong


I dreamed a dream in time gone by

When hope was high

And life worth living

I dreamed that love would never die

I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Then I was young and unafraid

And dreams were made and used and wasted

There was no ransom to be paid

No song unsung, no wine untasted


But the tigers come at night

With their voices soft as thunder

As they tear your hope apart

And they turn your dream to shame


He slept a summer by my side

He filled my days with endless wonder

He took my childhood in his stride

But he was gone when autumn came


And still I dream he'll come to me

That we will live the years together

But there are dreams that cannot be

And there are storms we cannot weather


I had a dream my life would be

So different from this hell I'm living

So different now from what it seemed

Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

Hope Is the Word

I felt miserable. I lay my miserables on God's shoulders. Victor Hugo wrote, "A faith is a necessity to a man. Woe to him who believes in nothing." God's Word kept my faith intact. I believed—

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.—Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.' — Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NASB)

So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.—Joel 2:25 (NKJV)

How Do You Reclaim Your Hope, Your Dreams, Your Life, Yourself?

I've been in search of myself—the young woman, now older, who once entertained hopes, dreams and a calling from God.

The other night a friend and I talked. What happened to our dreams, our callings?

We talked about reclaiming the passion that God put in our hearts.

After our phone conversation concluded, I received an email message entitled "Nothing Is Impossible. Frumpy Lady Wins British Talent Show." I clicked on the link and the story about Susan Boyle who sang I Dreamed a Dream. As Susan sang this song about a single mother, down on her luck, whose years of misfortune stole both her youth and her dreams, she brought the audience to tears and prompted a standing ovation from the audience and my heart.

Tears streamed down my face.

The Song that Once Embodied my Pain, Now Offered Me Encouragement and Hope

And…as I listened, my friend opened an email and clicked on the link.

Yep! God's timing was perfect. The song that once symbolized the death of my marriage, now breathes life and hope into my today, my future, my calling, my dreams.

The vision God placed in my heart long ago refuses to stay dammed by shame. My hopes, dreams, and calling are breaking through the crack in that miserable dam.

I'm in start over mode.

What tattered dreams have you buried under the hurt, hecticness, and hardship of your solo-parent life?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How Is Easter Different? Because He Lives

"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth a living, Just because He lives."—Bill Gaither

The Passover and The Four Questions

1. Why is it that in all other years we eat bread and matzah, but this year we eat only matzah? Matzah, 'poor man's bread', symbolizes poverty. Bread fills the belly, not the soul. Spiritually impoverished, man does not live by bread alone. Jesus, the bread and manna of my life, daily nourishes my spirit.

2. Why is it that in all other years we eat all kinds of vegetables, but this year we eat only bitter herbs? I expected my life to be better—not filled with bitter, unexpected downturns. Like bitter-tasting medicine, temporary challenges bettered my faith in Adonai Tsoovah, The Lord My Only Salvation.

3. Why in all other years do we not dip even once, but in this year dip two times? Each dip in my fortune and circumstances reminded me: I'm grateful for Jehovah-Jireh, The Lord My Provider, who is my future and my hope—and the source of life and blessings.

4. Why is it that in all other years we eat either sitting or reclining, but in this year we eat only reclining? The lonely, tear-filled life of solo parenting segregated me, a stranger among my religious and married associates. My exile forced me to lean on Jehovah-Ga-al, The Lord My Redeemer. The same power of God that miraculously raised His Son from death, passed over my heart—the tomb enclosing my buried, shattered dreams. Out of tears and hardship, Jehovah-Rophe, My Healer and Restorer, freed my soul from the curse of the law and the slavery of sin. "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives," (Job 19:25 NASB).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

29 Tips to Overcome Overdrive

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."—Kurt Vonnegut

29 Tips to Overcome Overdrive

Running on fumes? Out of gas? Stuck on the solo-parent sidetrack? Is "Me time" a distant memory in your rearview mirror as you speed out of control at 150 miles per hour with no brakes?

You're not alone.

With little time to spare in the Solo Parent Motocross, most single mothers push aside their most basic needs—even rest and nourishment.

When the momentum of fear, frustration, exhaustion, and stress wins, Mommy loses. You're tempted to run away or scream, "I want my mommy!" or let the inner mommy beast roar cathartic, but guilt-producing growls.

To survive everyday chaos, find ways to refresh yourself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Running on empty? Try these self-care pit stops:

  1. Take a shower.
  2. Go potty when the urge hits.
  3. Hide a stash of the postmodern mom's valium—chocolate. Take your daily dose.
  4. Sleep every chance you get.
  5. Take mini breaks throughout the day.
  6. Exercise and eat healthy, nutritious foods and snacks to increase energy.
  7. Avoid dehydration by drinking less caffeine and more water.
  8. Save time by paying bills online, use the Crock-Pot® or TiVo® your favorite shows.
  9. Swing through a drive thru for a favorite mommy treat.
  10. Simplify your schedule and life.
  11. You can't do it all. Go ahead and put off today's 'To-Do's' until tomorrow.
  12. Give children age-appropriate household tasks and responsibilities.
  13. Seek professional help for hormonal havoc, depression, or extreme physical exhaustion.
  14. Say no to toxic friends and substances.
  15. Quit pining for your pre-solo-parent lifestyle.
  16. Gossip and gripe less. Instead, start a gratitude journal.
  17. Shave, pluck, file, brush, polish, and aromatherapy bathe at least once a month.
  18. Save your pennies to splurge on an occasional massage or pedicure.
  19. Keep commitments to outside activities balanced. Volunteer, only if you want to.
  20. Limit technological invasion. Turn off your TV, cell phone, email, and computer.
  21. Stay in touch with your identity, interests, talents, and friends.
  22. Build relationships and join support networks with other solo parents.
  23. Ask for and accept offers of help to babysit your child to ease stress.
  24. Create family traditions and memories.
  25. Take your child to the park, sit on a bench, soak in the sun, and watch him play.
  26. Laugh—long, hard and often.
  27. Snuggle and pray with your children at day's end.
  28. Meditate on an uplifting reading every day. Pray more and celebrate every day as a gift from God.
  29. Let go of guilt and unrealistic expectations about the mom you're 'supposed' to be. There are no perfect Supermoms—just moms supernaturally empowered by Addiyr Jehovah [ad-deer' ye-ho-vaw']—The Mighty Lord, God.