I never knew my great-grandpa, Harold Wolter. He died before I was born. But I imagine that there are many that still hold memories of the life he lived. It's strange to think that within just a few generations our lives, our stories, are forgotten.
This past week, my Grandpa, Dennis Wolter, got the chance to see his father once more as he went on to Heaven. All weekend I've been quite numb over the matter. A little bit torn between knowing that I'm going to miss him greatly and remembering how he'd say, "well, there's no sense in crying about it." He'd usually say this to my Grandma, his wife Karen, who'd cry every time we'd have to end our visit with them. He was a strong man but there were times that he too would 'get a little something in his eye'.
I remember staying with my grandparents one summer. I was expressing more and more interest in writing and my Grandpa said he wanted to show me something. He walked back to his bedroom and began digging through the top drawer of his dresser until he pulled out a folded piece of paper. It was a poem that he wrote for His dad, Harold, after he passed away.
At the time, I didn't quite understand why he wanted to share the poem with me. I hadn't known his dad and I really had no idea what loss was since I was blessed to still have all my grandparents in my life.
Today I realize that he was simply saying, "I understand what it's like to empty your heart on a piece of paper."
The thing I love most is that if you take his poem and change "nine children" to "eight children" it is suddenly about Dennis Wolter. I may have never known my great-grandpa but so much of his life was passed on to the next generation.
"Our greatest legacy is revealed, as the actions and words that we planted throughout our lives, grow and flourish long after we're gone." -Nicole Donoho
Here is the poem he shared that day...
Harold L Wolter
Dedicated to My Father
Written by: Dennis Wolter
Now the lord has taken him
I know he’ll grant his wish
Place him in the midst of game
And fill the streams with fish
Not saying he was perfect
Or never had a fault
But for him to get to heaven
I never had a doubt
His graces came at different times
Whenever the Lord seemed fit
At work or play or along the river bank
Where you often seen him sit
Fame and fortune he never knew
But this didn’t make him sad
For his riches came from his good wife
And nine children which he had
In all God’s creation
There will never be another
For the man I speak about
Is my beloved father
You take heaven and give them hell
That seems like a really dumb thing, right? Expect the unexpected? How can you anticipate something happening that you don't know is going to happen? And aside from that, how do you expect the unexpected successfully rather than walking around paranoid all the time?
As a Christian, I find myself preparing for the the unexpected by keeping my sights fixed on God. When I don't have my sights fixed on God, the unexpected can rattle me severely. However, when I do have my sights fixed on God, I find the unexpected a little less earth shattering.
I often find it quite comical, but also rather saddening, when people look at my Facebook page, blog, or life and think, "Man, I wish I could have that kind of joy, peace, and trust in God."
It's comical because they think that I have it all together. It's saddening because I've been in their shoes, where it looks like a far off dream, and the truth is that everyone can obtain it.
Today, I'd like to challenge you to seek God with your whole heart. What does that look like? I don't know, I'm not you so I'm hesitant to say, "here's what works for me" only to have you mock it and feel like you failed. That's not cool.
Open your heart to God, seek him as your father, your friend, your Savior, your creator. There is a name that God uses in the Bible, he calls himself, "I AM." That is the most powerful name that God has for himself because it says, "Whatever I gotta be, I'll be."
God, help us seek you today. Help us seek you like someone late for work seeks out their keys. Like a single person seeks out someone to love and be loved by. Like a mother seeks for her hiding child at a department store. Like a man seeks out the rare part for his automobile project. Lord, these things are done out of desperation, passion, and commitment. But, all of these things fall so very short of your worth. You are mighty and holy. You love us and desire to be found by us. God, open our hearts, our minds, our ears, and our eyes to see you chasing after us. Remind us of all the times that you never left our side- good times, bad times, hard times, moments of joy, moments of sorrow- God you are always with us. Help us today to expect the unexpected resting in the truth that you are God and your ways far exceed our ways of thinking. Amen
I was working on Book #2 in the Annabelle's Boots series today and there was a beautiful line. Someone (I will not spoil the story) says, "Aren't you even going to defend your God?" To which someone else (still not going to spoil the story) replies, "If I need to, He is not the God I thought He was."
Wow! Powerful! All too often, Christians (myself included) try to defend God. Really? Does he didn't need our help to create the universe and everything in it but he needs us to defend his existence? It's kind of silly when you put it into perspective.
I switched over to painting thinking about God's love for us. "Covenant" is about the love he has for us. God makes us promises but all too often we forget them. Even on our worst days, even when the darkness is closing in, God is still sitting there with his promise- loving us.
Yesterday, my sweet hearted husband felt terrible because he didn’t say “happy birthday” until later in the afternoon. His co-workers were giving him grief about how bad things were going to be when he got home.
Did the thought cross my mind that he had forgot my birthday? Yes. Over and over it did, and each time I decided to think about something else. Each time I decided to think about how much my husband loves me, how much fun we have together each day, and how blessed I am to be married to such an amazing guy. Because I’m amazing like that? No! Because I’ve spent the past year digging in God’s Word and finding my worth in him. Because I knew that giving away my joy to something so small and allowing my day to be ruined was just silly. It wasn't worth it.
He came home with this colorful cookie cake and I smiled, “Um?”
He shook his head and said, “I know. Apparently it’s just not my day. I even told the lady how to spell it and she still added an ‘h’. I didn’t have the heart to correct here after she held it up and told me that it was her best job yet.”
Why am I sharing all this? Because life doesn’t always go the way we plan. Sometimes you get a rogue ‘h’ that crosses your path. That ‘h’ can cause a whole lot of destruction if your life is not grounded on the solid rock (God). God doesn’t say everything is going to go well, always. In fact, Jesus said over and over that there would be bad times.
We shouldn't sit down and feel sorry for ourselves because someone forgot to say something to us. We've got to find our worth in God. What is He saying about us?
Throwing away you joy over a little 'h' is SO not worth it. Find your worth in God so when those 'h's present themselves you can smile, swipe it off, lick it, and move on!
This past weekend, I was able to feature my books at the Bentonville Trade Days event in Bentonville, Arkansas. I had someone look over the books and stop, "Does that say Goodbye Christian, Whore?"
I smiled and said , "Yes, it does. It's about being faithful to God and loving Him. But it's certainly got a few looks because of the title."
"Well, I bet it does." she laughed, "Honey, you're in the Bible belt."
I realize that I live in "Bible Belt" country. There is a whole article on Wikipedia regarding what the Bible Belt is and how it started: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible_Belt
While I'm sure that will be an interesting read, I'm going to take a moment to turn our attention to another belt, the belt of truth spoke about in Ephesians 6:14. What is truth? Truth isn't always pretty or pleasant. Sometimes truth is convicting and unpleasant, in fact most of the time it is. Jesus said he was the way, the truth and the light. (John 14:6) He is the only way to God the Father, this truth is not always pleasant to accept, because it shines a light on the dark areas of our life that burns worse than a sunburn after a full day on the river.
Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times. (Matthew 26:33-35) Peter didn't like hearing that but it was still true and it came to pass. I could have named the book and this blog something nice, like "Wanderers Come Home", "The Prodigal Daughter's Return", or something else. But, I didn't. I heard this name and it made me uncomfortable, unsettled, so I knew that I needed to use it.
Being a Christian isn't about getting comfortable and feeling good, it's about God and the sacrifice that He made because of His love for us. Am I willing to make sacrifices for Him? Am I willing to admit when I have been unfaithful to Him or do I want to cover it up as not that big of a deal? Am I trying to make sin pretty so I don't feel as bad, or am I accepting that ALL sin is disgusting and vile to God?
God, thank you for your forgiveness and love. Open my eyes to see things as you see them. See people as you see them, through your eyes of love. To see sin as you see it, as dark and vile. God so many times I get tripped up on the sin and can't see the person that you see under it. Even when I look in my own mirror. Help me see past the darkness to the future that you envision and see for each of us. Help me see with faith eyes and not by my own sight. Amen.
Happy Mother's Day!
Man, look at how much they change in just four short years! My husband and I like to look back at pictures of the kids and remember the fun things we did together as a family. Both Elijah and Josiah have photo books covering adventures we took during their first 4 years of life. Solomon keeps reminding me that I haven't finished his yet.
Why are these years significant? What is the point of talking about them on Mother's Day? Well, my oldest son Elijah is completing fifth grade this year. Last week, he brought home a shirt that said 2026, the year he's expected to graduate high school. 2026? I don't have to do math on a regular basis but that felt like it wasn't working out correctly. How could he be graduating in just 7 years?! He was born in 2007 and he will be completing school in 2026 (or sooner, who knows). When he was born, that moment seemed so far away and now it's just around the corner.
Time will move at a snail's pace and faster than the speed of light all at once.
I'm sure that you've heard the phrase "Don't Blink". There's a whole country song about life progressing faster than you could imagine. Parents, I have my own phrase, "Don't wait!" Take the time to enjoy your kids at every stages:
...dirty diapers...potty training...bed-wetting...eat your food...chew your food...where are you putting it?
...the stages of 'why is English such a stupid language' spelling practices...'why would they change math' addition homework...'Google how to find the common denominator' fractions...
I'm sure you have your own list of difficult stages that you've faced or are facing. The thing I find myself telling Elijah most is this, "In case you haven't realized yet, you didn't come with a How to Raise Elijah for Dummies book. That's why I'm going to tell you the wrong thing sometimes. That's why I'm going to mess up or blow up or seem like I have no clue what I am doing. Because sometimes I don't and I have to apologize. But despite all that, I will love you and encourage you to be you."
Parenting is harder than adulting
You succeed at adulting when you take the time to wash your clothes. You succeed at parenting when your child understands the clothes don't wash themselves.
Don't wait to read the right book or get the right advice. Embrace every moment with your kids. And maybe, you can find something to help you along the way in the truths that I've learned:
Above all else, love them!
There are moments that my husband and I look at our sons and wonder ‘did we lose the manual somewhere’. One of them will decide to do something completely out of character for themselves, or so different from what we remember experiencing with the others. They are certainly, each their own little man. They each have their own quirks and qualities.
There are times that they can be so sweet, inspiring, and creative. Then there a times that they can be so crazy, loud, and destructive.
I remember having a friend over once that had one little girl younger than our boys. The boys were being pretty rowdy. My husband and I could tell that they were trying to impress this baby girl, show her how much fun they were, show her how cool their toys were. It was actually kind of amusing. Our friend asked, ‘is it like this all the time?’
We both laughed it off in that moment but knew that we were each thinking the same thing ‘oh sweet single child parent, you have no idea what chaos is, this is just the calm before the storm’.
Take a moment to thank God for the quite moments, the noisy moments, the rowdy moments, and the tender moments.
As a nod to mother's day this weekend. I thought I'd take a moment to write another blog about being a mom. Specifically, a boy mom, the only female in the house. I mentioned my three sons in my blog yesterday. Three stereotypical, sometimes not stereotypical, boys. I thought I’d elaborate on that just a little bit.
The wild life of raising Alphas.
Raising boys, can probably best we described like living with a pack of wolves. When we had our first son, Elijah, the world was fine. He knew his place in our little world, daddy was the Alpha, he was the second in the house, as far as males go. He knew, you respect your daddy. He also understood that you respect, and protect, your mama. Life is good!
Enter boy number two, Josiah. First boy, Elijah, still has no issues because he is five years older than the new guy, he’s stronger, he’s wiser- this little baby is no threat. He likes the little guy and he’ll care for him. There's no need to change who he is because he still recognizes: respect your daddy, respect your mama, oh and let's add- protect the helpless little new guy.
Enter boy number three, Solomon. I can look back now and recognize that when this happened my 14-month-old was suddenly facing an identity crisis. He was no longer the baby, suddenly there was someone more helpless than him. He wanted to take care for the baby but he wasn't mature enough to understand how to do that.
Fast Forward 5 years
Everybody wants to be "king of the hill". The 11-year-old no longer has two helpless, non-threatening babies to help care for. Suddenly, he's struggling with hard math problems while his brothers get to bring home pretty paintings that they completed in centers. (Yeah, for papers about decimals hanging on the fridge next to colorful art).
The 6-year-old is wise enough to recognize that is younger brother is stronger than him and will always overpower him. So, most of the time, instead of fighting him, he recruits him to gang up against their older brother. At which time, World War D breaks out in our living room with Nerf guns or wrestling.
Respect the King, Hail the Queen! Now go build your own kingdom!
Sometimes it's difficult to be the only female in a house full of testosterone. I don't always understand the constant need for wrestling, battling, and struggling. I think about them starting their own packs one day and I get a little excited. But, I'm also not in any hurry for them to do this today because I know they're not yet ready.
As frustrating as it is sometimes to watch them struggling to see who is the strongest, the smartest, the fastest, the loudest, and yes, even the stinkiest; I have to recognize this is their way of fighting for who God made them to be.
They are each Alphas. And one day they will each have their own packs to lead. As their mom, I need to love them through each stage and through each of their unique quirks. I have to look past the cubs I see before me and envision the Alphas they will soon become.
Raising boys can be exhausting, but we're loving every moment of it.
Look past your cubs to the Alphas,
Mother's Day is this Sunday. So, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what it means to be a mom. I don’t know that anyone could compile the perfect list of all that it takes to be a mom. I don’t even know if one could really exist because every single child is different, every mom is different. I can only tell you what I do know.
I have three boys. Sometimes they are stereotypical boys- they’re rowdy, they’re dusty and muddy, they’re finding bugs, they’re battling each other, they’re stinking up the house and not caring, they’re ‘oh just get over it’ when someone gets hurt.
Then there are time when they're not stereotypical boys-they’re wanting to relax, they’re wanting to take baths, they’re freaking out over flies, they’re helping each other, they’re ‘are you all right’ when someone gets hurt.
Being a mom, is challenging. As Forrest Gump said, “Life’s like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” That’s so true with children. I know some moms cannot wait for their children to get older. Maybe those moms don’t feel like they do very well with that nurturing stage. Maybe they need someone a little more independent to feel comfortable. I know some moms that say they don’t want to leave that baby/toddler stage. (Personally, I think they’re crazy, diapers are a life sucking disgusting black hole of life.) But maybe those moms are scared of how their independent child will no longer need them and they might feel as if they lack purpose.
Before I became a mom, I thought, "It's easy to be a mom, you just have to love your kids." All you need is love, right? How could that be complicated, how could that be difficult? Loving a child is simple, you trained for it with baby dolls and babysitting. You’ve got this. Then you become a mom and find out that the fine print adds: keep this child alive. Okay, that complicates things a bit. I mean, am I really up for this challenge or did God make a mistake by letting me be a mom?
God provides ALL we need to complete the tasks we face!
I think I had to take my oldest son to the doctor maybe one or two times within his first six years of life. So, when I found myself going to the doctor's office every 4-6 weeks with my middle son I felt like a failure. I'd walk in and say, "Something is not right, he has this high fever and he's just not acting like himself." The doctor would listen to his chest, do all the regular things, and then give him some medicine to fight off whatever 'virus' he might be battling.
I would gladly accept that there was nothing wrong with my child, I'd pick up the medicine, and life would be golden for about 4-6 weeks. Then I'd find myself in the office once more. I was not a doctor, I didn't have a medical degree, but I knew in my heart that this was not ok. I had probably taken him to the doctor at least 4 or 5 times and the emergency room at least twice because I knew that something was wrong. His fever had spiked and wouldn't come down or he wasn't acting like his normal self.
God never audibly spoke to me. But I knew that the doctor in the ER thought I was just an overly concerned mother. So I began speaking the truth on my heart. I told them that I wasn't a doctor, I was just a mom, I didn't know symptoms or procedures or anything about their protocols. I didn't WANT my child to be sick but I KNEW that he was and I needed them to humor me.
They said they didn't hear anything and he seemed to be fine but they would do a chest x-ray just to confirm. I told them that I'd rather the x-ray come back and show nothing than walk out the door knowing that something was wrong. The doctor told me that if they hadn't seem the x-ray they wouldn't have believed it because his lungs sounded completely normal. My little guy had to be admitted to the hospital, for three days, so they could treat him for pneumonia. Doctors do what they do and they are good at it but there's something about a mother's relationship with their child that defines logic. To me, 'mother's intuition' is really the Holy Spirit helping you parent the child that God has given you.
How you mom is different than how I mom. But one thing is certain, being a mom is a challenge. Seek God every day for guidance. He knows who your child is and who they will be. And he had this knowledge long before you even considered being their mom.
Just being transparent,
If you are a Christian, you've hopefully heard a thing or two about your enemy, Satan. Maybe you've heard about how he lurks around waiting for an opportunity to steal, kill, and destroy. If you're not a Christian, maybe you've seen some little black bearded red guy with a pitch fork sitting on someone's shoulder, opposite an angel, telling the person why they should try all the tempting bad stuff instead of the boring holy stuff.
Well, either way, Christian or not, there is an enemy in your life story. But the enemy I want to talk about today is not Satan, or the devil. The enemy I want to talk about is you, and me.
See, God created this world for us, we broke it and gave the keys over to Satan, then Jesus (God's Son) came down and set things right. He came down as a man, died on the cross, took the keys back from Satan, and rose again! Plus, bonus, he said that Satan is defeated.
Well, if he is defeated he can't be that threatening of an enemy, can he?
So why do I have so many days when I feel defeated and overwhelmed by the things of this life?
Because I haven't recognized that my biggest enemy isn't the one lurking around me but the one that resides within me. I am my own worst enemy, and you are yours. Satan is defeated. Or for a better visual, he's been locked out. But for some reason we keep opening the door and letting him back in with all those lies.
The lies that tell us we are not good enough to complete the task God has requested of us. The lies that tell us we're not strong enough, bold enough, brave enough, educated enough, beautiful enough, loved enough, patient enough...I could go on and on.
If we want to stop feeling defeated we've got to stop opening the door! We must be vigilant, alert, and ready. We don't get to this place by feeding our selfish ways, we get to this place by feeding our spirit. We must get into the Word, listen to the Word, and live out the Word.
“...You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up." Matthew 24:43 MSG
God, help us to have a hunger for you like we have never experienced before. Help us to shut the door, deadbolt it, hinge lock it, and throw a dresser in front of it to keep out the lies that keep knocking. Help us dig into your word, digest it, and live it out. Let us stand firmly on this, "If God said it I believe it will happen and if He didn't...I'm not listening." Amen
A New Identity
What is this blog about? You mean, I'm supposed to have a purpose? Ok, if that's required then my purpose is life.
Better with age...
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