Archive for August, 2010

Imperfectly Perfect

My family is odd.

I have a husband with a wide range of interests and career choices. I have a son who can best be described as endearingly neurotic. I have a daughter who loves to figure things out and asks a million questions. I have another daughter who thinks that life is a party and everyone needs her there in order to have a good time.

Then there is me, and my list of quirks and idiosyncrasies would stretch from here to Memphis.

It’s been a rough week at Casa de Albritton. We’ve had miscommunication. We’ve had to administer some pretty intense discipline. We’ve had hormonal issues. We’ve had to clean up after Paisley cut her hair. We’ve had some stress about outside stuff that we’re involved in. We’ve had homework. We’ve had more angst than I can remember in recent days.

Summer is over, and we’re feeling the pain.

But in the midst of all the unpleasant, there has been some growth. The miscommunication makes our marriage stronger, if we choose to communicate wisely and work it out. The discipline is a necessary element to parenting. The hormone stuff will pass. The haircut was repaired, and she’s rockin’ a new look. The outside things are really not all that important, from a spiritual perspective (and everything should be from a spiritual perspective, if you ask me.) The homework will get done. The general angst hits hard, brings tears and frustration, and then moves on.

Because we’re made of tougher stuff than our circumstances. Because we have the full person of Jesus Christ living IN US (well, in Michael and me, the kids are still being prayed over). Because our Father constantly shows us that it’s not about us and our issues anyway. It’s about him. All God, all the time.

He’s perfect. We’re messed up. He’s complete. We’re just bits and pieces that don’t really fit together all that well on our own. He’s beautiful. We’re ugly and nasty with sin. He’s loving. We are consumed with selfish, evil motives.

Yet, he calls us his. He gives us himself. He covers us with grace and mercy.

I’m longing for the day I’m made perfect in his presence. But for now, I’ll take the imperfections and lay them down at the feet of the only one who can look past them and love me with an everlasting love.


August 28, 2010 at 2:31 am 1 comment

Speaking Up

I only have just a minute, but I wanted to write about what happened this afternoon.

I took my girls to Barnes and Noble today. We were shopping for a birthday gift, and I also wanted some workbooks for homeschool. (Have I told you Molly is homeschooling? Sorry.)

Anyway, we went to check out, and I was handing over the loot to be scanned and noticed Molly studying a magazine cover. It was the new issue of Rolling Stone. I saw the cover photo yesterday online, and wanted to throw up.

The picture is of the main characters of that HBO show, True Blood. They’re naked, covered in blood and standing very strategically, with hands on parts that should have been covered anyway.

I was sickened when I saw the picture online, but that was nothing compared to how I felt when I saw my baby staring at it, because it was EYE LEVEL with her. I immediately turned it around so the back cover was showing, and it had a cute picture of Taylor Swift with a milk mustache. I can live with that.

I went another hour or so, stewing about it. Normally, I just get fired up about stuff like that and complain to my friends and family. I decided to call somebody this time. I called B&N and asked to speak to the manager. My voice was so shaky, I was afraid of coming across as a fanatical, crazy, legalistic nut. I told him that I was a very regular customer and loved the store. I told him about my little girl seeing the cover of the magazine and how I understood he has to sell it, and they can print what they want, but the placement of the magazine in the store was just too risque’ for young eyes (and old eyes, if you ask me!) I said, “I don’t pay for cable, because I don’t want it in my house, so I really don’t want to be forced to explain all that to my kids when we come in a store that largely caters to them.” (The kid section of our B&N is HUGE, and even extends outside of the actual section).

He agreed with me one hundred percent. He said he was a Christian and told me where he went to church. He then told me that the store contracted with Rolling Stone to sell the magazine in that spot, but before that issue came out, the home office sent a message saying that if anyone called about it, they can move it.

I was the first to call, and it will be moved.

I told him I would remain a customer and would continue enjoying shopping there. I thanked him over and over and after we hung up, I praised God for going before me in the conversation. I was expecting a “Sorry, ma’am, nothin’ I can do about it.”

I know we can’t change everything to suit our personal beliefs, but I am now a believer in speaking up, especially when it affects children. It’s my job to be an advocate for them, and to protect them from what they are too young to see or understand.

God works in everything. He’s always present. He has created us to bring glory to him, and I pray that sharing this story with you does just that.

August 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm 5 comments

One Size Fits All

I’m thinking about size today.

I lost 10 pounds recently. Isn’t that cool? I plan on keeping all 10, plus a few more, hidden very far from me. I’ve discovered a love for drinking water and working out that was very uncharacteristic of me until recently. I guess you can say I’ve had a transformation, physically and mentally. In the process of losing weight, I’ve discovered that taking care of my body is so much more than a vanity issue. I can do more. I am not dependent on food to comfort when I’m down, or impress people when I entertain. I’m more focused on who God is making me to be, from the inside out, rather than how much cream cheese is in that dip. I know that seems insignificant, but it has made a big difference in my life.

Because God is big, he’s making a big difference.

We’ve got some big stuff going on in our family. Michael is starting a new venture that is a huge answer to a long-prayed prayer. He’s excited, nervous, and depending on God to be sovereign, which we know he is, because he’s God.

He’s big, and can handle the big stuff.

One month ago today, I left for England. It was a big step for me. It was my first time overseas, my first time to leave the kids for over a week, my first time to go door to door sharing my faith in a country I knew nothing about.

God was big. He changed me in so many big ways.

Aidan started second grade. He’s now in the world of homework and projects. He has a wonderful teacher who loves what she does. It’s a big time in his life.

God is big. We’re praying daily for Aidan to recognize his need for Jesus. That’s big, too.

We’ve started a savings plan to buy used vehicles to replace our broken down van and truck. We are trying to do it without any payments. This is going to require me to do some things to make money. I have an idea that I believe is from God, and I’m going to have to step out there and do some promotion to make it happen. This is big for me. I’m not a promotion person, but I believe in what I’m doing.

God is big. He has balanced our checkbook each month for 11 years, in the lean times and the blessed times. Actually, our lean times were some of our most blessed times, because he’s so big.

He’s also small. Which means he can’t be categorized. He can’t be boxed in or defined. He’s all sizes, meeting all needs. He is always present, always knowing, always good.

He’s God over my daily fight with Paisley and the hairbrush. She hates having her hair brushed. I hate her hair being stringy. We have fought until I’ve finally started just praying about it, and God has been faithful.

He’s God over the swimming pool. My three kids can swim, as of this summer. I can actually sit and watch them, or swim along with them, playing games, instead of having to hold them, catch them, and worry about a swim diaper explosion.

He’s God over Aidan and his newfound shyness. He’s always been so outgoing, but lately, he’s been acting very different. I’m praying, and trying to accept this. I miss my party animal.

He’s God over our real estate situation. I’m listing this as a small thing, because it really has become just that. We want to move, we’re so tired of the long drive, but it’s not up to us anymore. It never was up to us.

God is big, small, and everything in between. That’s a pretty generic, and honestly, lame statement about the creator of the universe who loves us so unconditionally, and pours out so much grace and mercy, we can’t even begin to reap the blessings.

I’m daily overwhelmed as I see him working in what seems to be small and insignificant, and how he masterfully and graciously handles the things that seem so out of my scope, they’re so huge. Then, just as I get caught up in what all he’s DOING and how that impacts my tiny little life, I am reminded that it’s about who he IS, rather than what he DOES.

Then I’m overwhelmed again, and right when I’m feeling so small that I can’t believe God would have anything to do with me in the first place, I remember his love. His great, powerful, jealous, self-sacrificing, holy, pure, delightful love.

And I stand in awe of him who loves me, regardless of my size, because his size is a perfect fit.

August 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm 1 comment

My Cup of Tea, Part Two

The four days we worked in Nottingham, we had the opportunity to go into a few of the local primary schools and share with the kids about Christianity, and also a little bit about American Football. Each day we went to a different school. Some of our group did crafts with the children. Our two guys, Ronnie and Jake, taught them the basics of our football. I was in the group that taught about Christianity. We showed pictures and told them about what our church is like, and why we go. I had the awesome opportunity each day to tell them that we were from America, and on a mission trip. Then I asked if they knew what a mission trip was. I got answers like, “You must be a spy”, and “Are you undercover?”.

The answers were so cute, except for the realization that these children knew little to nothing about having a faith that you can share with the world. My answer each day was the same: “We are Christians. We believe that God tells us what to do in his word, the Bible. He tells us in the Bible to go all over the world and tell people that he loves them. So I’m here to tell you that God made you, and loves you more than anything. He has a great plan for your life.”

I was overwhelmed with the hugeness of those words. As I said them each day, I looked into the faces of children who likely have never been told that God loves them. With each class I felt more heartbroken and honored that God entrusted us with such a task. We didn’t share the Gospel and give an invitation, we were not allowed. We planted seeds. We planted seeds that hopefully the church will get the opportunity to water and watch grow.

In the middle of the last day, it came to my mind that if I can see just one of those kids when I get to heaven, it will be worth every mile that we flew, every step that we walked, every minute of jet lag and hard work.

Speaking of the work…it never felt like work. Not for a minute. We worked with people that were so much fun and so spirited and gracious, it felt like visiting old friends the whole time we were there. Also, our group became like family. We laughed hard about everything. We prayed for each other. We accepted each other unconditionally and hugged constantly. It was a beautiful thing, to see the friendships grow within our group. I’d do anything for any of them.

We stayed in the homes of the people in the church while we were there. I stayed at the pastor’s home, with him and his lovely wife. My roomate was Michelle, who I’d gladly take as a sister any day. Her son Jake stayed with us, and his room was across the hall. I missed my family every evening, but they quickly filled the loneliness I felt for Michael with their laughter. It was a terrific experience for me, to be brought into someone else’s family, and find my place there.

It worked out beautifully for us to bring four teenagers on this trip. They were wonderful with the kids, and brought a spirit to the trip that added so much. It was awesome to see them develop an awareness of how lost the world is. They went door to door with no complaint. They worked in the schools with enthusiasm. They played with children every afternoon and had a great time themselves. There was no drama, complaining, arguing, selfishness, or negativity. It is a huge privilege of mine to know each of them, Anna, Catherine, Jake and Sarah, and to call them my friends.

Soon, I’ll tell you about the fun things we did, and show you some pictures. But for now, I just wanted to tell you what God is doing there, and how we got to be a part of it.

August 6, 2010 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

My Cup of Tea, Part One.

I love England.

I have been home for one week, and at least once an hour, I wish I was back over there.

I want so badly to tell you about it. I could describe what it looked like, what types of food we ate, how much we enjoyed being around the people, what we did and saw every day, and how it was so much fun to serve God in a country where we spoke the language and didn’t look all that different.

But that’s not what I’m going to tell you.

I mentioned in my last post that my heart was burdened for England. Some of the greatest minds of all time have come from England. It’s a country full of history, academic excellence, beauty and royalty.

And so many are lost.

I know my life has been fairly sheltered. I haven’t ventured out very far, but that’s been solely because of a lack of funds and time, not because of a lack of desire to do so. I suppose my sheltered life has contributed to the fact that I have never had a conversation with someone who did not believe, and did not want to believe in God. In my little world, everyone I know is at least affiliated with a church. I’m not so naive to believe that everyone I know has a relationship with God, but when you’re raised in the South, you know how to talk like you do. It’s bred in us, to love Jesus and football, sweet tea and pretty shoes.

But I’m talking about England.

We instantly fell in love with the people we were going to be serving with all week. Not only were they kind, funny and gracious, they had a passion for the Gospel drawn from the experience of being the only Christian in their family, work or school. I was inspired daily by them, and believe that only God can match up people as perfectly as we were that week.

Our first challenge was to go door to door in the neighborhoods surrounding the church. The mission had several purposes: first, to invite them to a Barbeque at the end of the week. Second, to meet them and let them know about the church and it’s presence in the community, and third, to ask them about their beliefs and to share with them the love of Christ.

I was a little nervous, but I knew God was going with us. We knocked on door after door. Some weren’t home. Some told us they were not interested in the least and goodbye. Some told us that they were busy and it was not a good time. Then there were a few that let us know that they were atheist and nothing we could say would change that. Some loved to tell us how much they loved God, but that Jesus guy? How do we know he really existed?

The first day, I will admit that the cat had my tongue. I was afraid I’d say the wrong thing and make a huge mess of what we were trying to do. My door-to-door partners were my friend Anna, who is a teenager in my Sunday School class, and my friend David. David is an elder in the church we were working with. I’m honored that he was willing to take us along with him. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met, as well as one of the most humble and kind. He answered my never-ending stream of questions with grace and good humor. I’m a better person because of the discussions the three of us would have as we walked.

As we continued door to door, it was amazing how God gave us the words. We were able to defend our faith when attacked. We were able to have conversations with people who looked quite formidable upon answering the door. We were all so aware of God’s presence with us at each doorstep. I looked forward to each time we went out.

There is so much more to tell, but this post has gone on long enough. I’ll tell you more very soon, it’s tea time now.

August 3, 2010 at 3:50 am Leave a comment

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