Monday, December 24, 2012

The night before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through my home
fevers were running and and my family was alone.
The plans we had made with family afar
Were halted at once, there was no need for the car.

The children lay restless on the couch with a frown,
They knew Santa would still visit our house, out of town.
And Papa with his laptop, and I with my phone,
Tried make sure to our family, the new plans were made known.

When out of the blue my heart started stirring.
My face grew hot and my vision was blurring.
The eyes welled up, my emotions I tried to smash.
Tears came fast, tissues filled the trash.

The light of the tree on the ones that I love,
Gave a sense of comfort that comes from above.
When what to my wondering heart should I feel,
Something unseen....and yet, very real.

In my heart I knew,this was just something small,
No need to worry, God covers it all.
More rapid than the joy, in came the shame.
Self pity had visited, and I was to blame.

No death, no tragedy, no fire, no famine,
No danger, no heartache, no hate, no salmon (I had to make you smile at some point!!!)
To the front of my mind to the brim of my soul.
Counting my blessings was filling the hole.

As crazy fast typing fingers on a blogger do fly,
So in flooded peace that I'd earlier passed by.
So up to my mind the blessings they flew,
With a praise for The Lord and all he can do.

Then on the couch, I hear a cough and a sneeze,
From both of my babies who were not at all at ease.
As I drew close to them and made not a sound,
They smiled at their comforters, our family hounds.

The oldest was dressed all in sparkles from her head to her foot,
But her smile was missing, and under her eyes, it looked like fresh soot.
To a bundle of energy,I know she'll be back,
When this has passed, for a punch it does pack.

The youngest wash laying, his spirit not merry.
His face was bright red, and he was contrary.
He had hopes of what presents would soon fill his belly,
Can you believe he actually asked Santa for pb and jelly??

They could both be a grump, not quite like theirselves,
And I hugged them and kissed them, held them close to myself.
A kiss from the left and a hug holding tight.
I knew in that moment, they would soon be alright.

They snuggled in close and their ears, they did perk,
When I mentioned that their papa had a few days off of work.
And laying back down and sniffling their noses,
They both smiled big and struck silly poses.

I know we will make it, no need fuss
Christmas will be great, because we have us.
But I will proclaim as I pray often tonight.
Thanks be to God, for making it right.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

This is when.

Tragedy. Pain. Unimaginable acts. Sometimes I wish that God had not given mankind free will. The free will to chose right or wrong. However, God wants us to CHOOSE to love him, and so we have our free will. This place we dwell is earth and evil is in it. We aren't in heaven yet, so we still have the pain of grief, and pain sin can cause.

I have cried countless tears, prayed with passion and asked many questions. Take heart. There is hope.


This is when I know that God is there. When I see millions of people mourning together, putting differences aside. When every day people become heroes. When darkness tries to blot out light and life, but good shines even brighter than before. I know God is there because he comforts those who are broken by this act of evil. God put courage in the hearts of those who protected others.

This is when I know life is short. Priorities get straightened and things change. I look at the stars and know each time it could be my last. I think of all the lives that were taken, and weep.

This is when I cry out to God. When I know there is no other who can heal the damage done, or the lives forever changed.

This is when good wins. Evil won the battle but good will win the war. The sheer number of people, who knew nothing of this small town or the people in it who are coming to the aid shows that good is stronger and will prevail.

This is when I hold my children. I myself have 2 children, one who sat in his own kindergarten class that day. It hit me hard. I hold them and almost feel guilty that I'm so blessed.

This is when prayer becomes every breath. When I pray every other thought for everyone.

This is when we know love. Love God pours out through people. Good people.

This is when I will let my light shine brighter than before.

This is when forgiveness seems so much easier for all those things we have held on to, as well as ask for forgiveness.

My life will never be the same. Let us hold tight to each other and to God. Let us pray and mourn, together. Then, when it is time, let's us begin to pick up the pieces....together.

This moment, and all others, we have hope.

I pray for you and grieve in the deepest parts of my heart and soul for you, Connecticut.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How to be like me.

I had a friend tell me that she wished she could be like me. I was honored, but at the same time I though, oh you poor thing. I thought this would be silly, and once in a while I just like to throw random things out there that are just...out there. SO here you go. You too, can be just like me.

In order to be like me you must follow these steps. Some are short and sweet and others require explanation.

1) Mess up every day.

2) Find humor in your mistakes. ( Or at least try)

3) Don't do ANYTHING while you are mad, or you'll regret it. (as will others around you)

4)Go to a mom's night out and be worried about your hair sticking up everywhere. Then find a hat on the floor of your car and slap it on even though it is pink and sparkly and you are wearing a dingy mustard colored hoodie and stained jeans. Then at the end of the night take go to the restroom and take your hat off. Realize that there has been a toothpick sticking out of the front of your hat the entire time. Ask the other moms if they noticed and you all giggle as they say 'yes'.

5) Learn it's better to go out with messy hair than grabbing a hat off the floor of your car.

6) Dream big

7) over-commit, and don't get distracted......what was I saying...

8)Worry about things you know don't really matter.

9)Keep a journal. One sugar coated one, and one that will be worthy of a film in a hundred years (dream big).

10)Write random poetry everywhere and never really show it to anyone.

11)Let the battery in your scales die. Bury them (the batteries) in the back yard and convince yourself that in memory of those batteries you cannot replace them.

27)Make mistakes.

12ish) NEVER wear make up because you feel you must.

13) Laugh until your sides hurt about things that absolutely nobody else finds funny. Then laugh harder because people are laughing only because you are laughing.

14) Learn that how you act is contagious.

15) Feel inadequate in everything you do, but feel completed in God.

16)Expose your heart on the internet, come what may.

17)Promise you'll learn to say no......eventually.............. one day..........maybe......sorta.........

18)  Kiss and hug your kids and spouse as many times a day as they will allow.

19)Love God.

20)Be yourself......not me. :-) (because I can't be me without friends like you)

We are all wonderfully created by God. Every detail of who you are has been crafted by a God who LOVES you. I am so glad you are you. I'm so glad that there aren't more of me on this Earth....I'd drive me nuts.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Three thoughts and a cold table

I have been laid up for a few days. I had surgery on Friday and I am just now feeling clear enough in my head to write a post. Yay for mental clarity!

      I don't care how many times you go through surgery, 3 things always come into your mind. #1) Will I wake up? #2)Will I be one of those people that feels everything while I'm knocked out?  #3)Wow, this table is cold! OK, so maybe not everyone has these things go through their mind, but I did. I laid there while they were getting ready to put me under and I was praying. Praying that ok, if he wasn't going to let me live through this, that He would just take care of my family. I got through that part then fell into a deep sleep repeating, please don't let me feel anything, please don't let me feel anything. God, if I must die now, please don't let me feel the surgery.

       The next thing I knew I woke up in a recovery room with a sore stomach mumbling, "It hurts".  The doctor was standing over me using big words and lots of syllables and hand gestures. I kept thinking "who is he talking to??" Then, after a couple seconds, I realized he was talking to me. HA! I could hardly keep my eyes open, let alone comprehend what the Dr. was trying to tell me. He was smiling and patting my hand so I guessed that things went well.

       Later on the next day I was thinking about what went through my head before they put me under. I found it odd that I was actually ok to die, but a panicked thought stuck me. I have so much work still to do. OK, I may not be the the greatest of anything in God's kingdom, but I am a servant. There is so much I still want to do with my life before it is cut off from this Earth. So much I want to teach, live, love, DO! I may very well not make it to a 'ripe old age' but I want to use the days that are given to me to their fullest! I mean I would love to go be at peace one day, but not today.

        Why do we keep putting things off? Why do we get our proprieties so mixed up? We cannot be 'pew warmers' and that's it. If we each did what God wanted us to do, think of how amazing things would be!! What if we put aside our own ambitions and really were Christians with every breath, not just every Sunday between 10-12 am. We cannot put things off! It is a tool of Satan. Satan wants us to think that things will just keep on forever and there really is no end to life. He wants us to think we will have plenty of time to get to things.

          Laying there on the operating table was not giving my life for Christianity or suffering for God but it made me think about these things. If we really want to we can look at every moment of our lives and find a message in it. In our face paced world we need more than ever to take the time to see the things that are being shown to us. What if you had 1 year to live? What if you only have 1 week? What would you do? What passion would you serve with? How much love would you shower on your family? The funny thing is that we don't know how long we have but we all just kind of shove it in the back of our minds with a shrug that says "I'll get to it later." When is later? When will we forgive? When will we reach out? When will we serve God with our whole heart?

         Let us find joy in the simplest of moments. Let us move forward with faith. REALLY count your blessings. REALLY love as Christ loved us. Really.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The "ya-buts" are all dead...God killed 'em

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful UNTO DEATH, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10 ESV)

In the above verse we are being reminded to be faithful to God, in the greatest of trials, even in the face of death. It also means that we are to be faithful until the end of our lives.

What does it mean to be faithful? Well, to me it means to remain true, loyal, and steadfast. I think it means that God calls us to be workers until our last breath. To be servants until the end of our lives or this world, whichever comes first.

In Matt. ch 25 in the parable of the talents, the two servants who are commended at their masters return, are the two who worked until their master returned. They continued in their efforts until the end.

In this life it is all to easy for us to fill our lives with "ya-buts". In response to doing more (or any) work for the Lord, we excuse our way out of it. Ya, but I'm too young. Ya, but I'm too new. Ya, but my kids are too young. Ya, but my kids are older and we are too busy. Ya, but I'm busy with work. Ya, but I do that at work all day. Ya, but I retired. And so it goes....on and on. We can each justify our own circumstance but we judge the others around us. God does not accept excuses. Either you want to work for Him or you don't.

Friends! Where does the Lord tell us to be faithful until marriage? To be faithful until we work? Or be faithful until we are retired? At what point is it ok to become a spectator in the church? At what point is it ok to say, we have served enough and now it is our turn to be served? Wasn't it our own Lord who served until His last breath? When did he feel it was time for people to start washing HIS feet?

I can hear it now.....ya, but I am not ABLE to work. No. You CHOOSE not to work. If you have physical limitations, what keeps you from making phone calls, writing letters, sitting and teaching? If you have a desire to serve, the Lord will give you a way. If you have time limitations, first check your priorities. If they are truly in order you can still squeeze in service to God.

I understand that we need to step back and recharge once in awhile. But we should return with renewed passion. We should not step back and walk away.

Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; (Matthew 9:37 ESV)

The laborers (workers) are FEW. God needs you. Yes, you. He gave you the interests, talents, experiences, hardships, knowledge, and personality you have for a reason! What you view as an ordinary part of you is a planned detail in some way God wants to use you. You are you, for a greater purpose. God's kingdom needs workers. One day we will all have to turn in our talents and present the Lord with how we have used what he has given to us.

We are creatures who can justify anything we want to. Let us justify our idleness no longer. Let us take action, and shine our lights every single day. Let us allow God to use us for His purpose. We can do this. No more excuses. Let's get to work.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The hardest part.....

     As I sit here and reflect on what this past years political modge podge has been, one thing stands above the rest in my mind. What was it? A question I had to answer for my 10yr old.

     We have tried to make the best of the mud slinging and look for opportunities to learn. Not just about the candidates, but about people in general. It gives us a chance to step back and ask ourselves what we stand for.

      In our home we have a TV but no TV channels. We use netflix and an Xbox. So, we were saved from most of the political commercials. However, there were plenty of other ways we have been bombed with political mud slinging. Among all this mud slinging two phrases kept creeping up; "pro-life" and "pro-choice".
As most of you know, Rachel is a fairly serious minded girl and not a lot slips past her. She took note of these reoccurring phrases and inquired about their meaning. Who wants to look at their child and explain to them what abortion is? Who wants to look at their child and tell them that in the womb people can legally take their life? I don't. I know how sensitive my daughter is to these things and so I tried to put it in as simple terms as possible. I told her that "pro life" means people who are against abortion and "pro choice" means that you are for abortion. Then I had to explain what abortion was. My mind raced for a moment, and my mouth felt dry. Finally, I told her that abortion is when women decide that they don't want their baby for one reason or another and so they have them (at this word I hesitated but could find no other) killed while they are still inside the mom.

     She stared at me. Her lip quivered. She then said the most frightening thing. She welled up and asked, "You mean you could have killed me if you wanted to?" I grabbed her and held her tight. I told her that the thought NEVER EVER EVER crossed my mind and I would gladly give my life so that she could live. Her heart could not grasp this horror. She demanded to know why people could think of doing this horrible thing. I told her the truth.....I didn't know. She asked why people didn't just put the kids up for adoption instead....again I answered that I didn't know.

      We talked about it for sometime. We prayed about it. We prayed for the people who have had abortions, the people thinking about it, the people choosing not to, and the people that make it legal. She had a sense of determination to do something about this.

      After we were done my daughter walked away and I sat in silence. Another piece of her innocence was gone.  What if I had wanted to abort her? I was very young when I had her. What about my son? I went into it knowing my pregnancy would be difficult. What if? The thought weighed on my heart so heavily. To think of the blessings I would have missed out on. The empty spot in my life that would be so hard to fill is overwhelming. I cried. I prayed. I hugged my kids and kissed them.

       I pray for those who are suffering emotional pain after an abortion. We all sin and God can heal your pain.

       As I reflect on this election.......this was the hardest part.


The Forgotten Holiday

                 How did it happen that we started skipping right from Halloween to Christmas? It seems fitting in our culture to have a holiday of thanks swallowed up by holidays of spending and getting. Now, that is not to say that people don't do great things around Christmas, and that good things don't happen. But, why only at Christmas? Does it seem odd to anyone else that "Black Friday" is the day after Thanksgiving, the day after we are supposed to be counting our blessings (as we should everyday)? The very next day people trample each other to spend money and buy more stuff in a country with far too much stuff already.

                I like Christmas. The lights, the trees, the fun and family. However, Christmas is not what it was intended to be. Companies cash in on the holidays that will bring them the biggest profit. They want to push us right past being grateful and want us to feel guilty for not spending hundreds of dollars on each child. We are able to spend roughly $100 on each of our kids and often it is much less than that. We opt for homemade gifts and spending time together. I don't want my children to feel that they are "missing out" on tons of toys because society says things=happiness. I. Will. Rebel. 

                 This is the challenge I issue to you. Spend November focusing on thankfulness and not on Christmas. Focus on blessings and not buying. Focus on family and not food. I admit I too, get caught up in the Christmas section of a store and letting my mind wander. I get the urge to buy Christmas lights the second they are put on display. But, we are starting family traditions for Thanksgiving and they are restoring a grateful attitude in our household.

                We like to make what we call our "Thankful tree". I make a cut out of a tree trunk and branches out of paper bags and tape it to the wall. Trust me, no artistic background is required. We make the tree about 2-3' tall and tape it up on one of the main walls in the house. Then we trace our hands on construction paper and cut them out. These are our leaves. We then write something we are thankful for on each "leaf" and plaster the tree with them. We add more throughout the month as we think of things. It is a great motivator for kids and adults alike to really consider their blessings and to be able to visualize just how many blessings there are.

            So as we are in November, and we are tempted to be pulled away from being thankful-sincerely thankful, for the things that we have, lets rebel. Let's rise up and teach our children and families HOW to be thankful. 



Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do unto others....a new twist.

When my son was having trouble listening to me or doing what I asked, I tried every kind of reward or punishment I could think of and nothing seemed to get it into his head. He is a rough and tumble sort of boy and likes (as most boys do) to harass his older sister. Finally, an idea came to me.

We are all familiar with the "golden rule" (Luke 6:31). Basically treat others the way you want to be treated. A timeless concept. I sat him down and explained this rule he had heard before, but didn't really grasp. I asked him if he wanted people to be nice to him, he had to be nice to others. However, I also added that when he was rude or disrespectful, that it told me that that was how he wanted to be treated. He got that look of "are we done so I can go play" on his face. He needed some way to make it make sense. So, for the next 2 weeks every time he poked his sister, or ignored me, I returned the action and said,"So what you are saying is you want me to do this to YOU?" At first he thought it was funny. Soon it grew old and he started thinking before he acted (as much as a 6yr old boy can). I was very pleased with the outcome. His behavior in school also improved drastically. Something actually worked!!

Remember though.....there is a twist.

Yesterday my son had an incident at school. He was on the playground and another student pinned him to the ground and started strangling him. Literally trying to choke him. My son had red marks on his neck and was very frightened. We talked to the school to get the full story. A teacher witnessed it. My son was playing with a kid on the playground and this child got mad at Gabe for not "playing right". So the kid punched him in the stomach then again in the chest. Gabe tried to defend himself, which made the child more angry. He then lunged at Gabe, put both hands around his throat and squeezed. The kid had to be pulled off of him. Emotions ran through me that don't become a lady, nor a Christian when my son came home and told his story through his tears. Mama bear was out. We are thinking of pulling him out of school. A child should not fear for his life in Kindergarten.....or ever. I was also upset that we had to pry information out of school staff and nobody notified me by phone. All I received was a 2 sentence note home that his neck had been hurt and they had iced it. Praise God my baby is ok.

When asking my son his version of the story (before we spoke to school staff) I asked if he had hit the boy or made him mad or had been harassing him. I thought surely this attack must've been provoked (staff said it was not, as did my son). Gabe cringed at the question of hitting the boy. He gave a quick "Yes, but...". My husband stopped him and asked for a yes or no. Gabe hung his head and said, "Yes, but don't you want to know why?"...... "He hit me first and the bible says to treat others the way we want to be treated."

Mmmmmm tasty foot.

In his mind he was doing what I had done to him and taught him. The kid hit him so in Gabe's mind the kid wanted to be hit back. ::Sigh:: Well at least I know he remembered the lesson.

I assured him that he is allowed to defend himself if he HAS to. But I wasn't sure what to say about his take on the Bible verse. At least not without snickering....

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Well, it has thus far been an interesting week. My son got his first bee sting at school Tuesday. He got stung on his finger and it started swelling right away. Tonight I took him into urgent care to be seen because even though he has been on Benadryl and had an ice pack and had motrin....the swelling got worse. His fingers started turning purple. So he was loaded up with steroids and sent home. My six year old is a bottomless pit already, so it should be interesting to see how the steroids affect his appetite.

Speaking of my son, I wanted to share something with you. On Sunday we had the joy of watching a new sister baptized. I held Gabe in my lap and thou he has seen it before he asked what was going on. I told him she was getting her sins washed away. He watched with great interest. After she arose from the water we all rejoiced and sang a song. The baptistery in our congregation has windows on either side so sunshine reflects on the waters throughout the day. Gabe pointed vaguely in a direction and asked, "what's that"? After trial and error and slight frustration on his part I figured out what he was pointing at. He was pointing to the reflection on the wall of the water that was still rippling slightly. I explained what it was, light, reflections, all that. He looked at it hard for a second and said, "but what are those wiggly things"? He was referring to the lines the ripples made in the reflection. I told him it was ripples in the water. He said he thought it was her sins in the water. Oh, the joy of children! I smiled and kissed him. I hugged him. I told him he could be right.

Is it any wonder we are to be as children? The pure matter-of-fact faith. The innocence. We adults complicate things so much at times. Often we need to take a step back, and simplify. I learn so much from my children. I think of how we are Gods children and how He must feel at times about the way His children act. I am by no means a perfect parent. But God is. So, we all have the perfect parent in a sense. When my kids sulk, when they don't get what the expect or when I try to convince them that XYZ will hurt them and they argue with me, I think of how I act towards God. Do I rebel and feel the need to prove Him wrong? Do I think I know best? Do I trust Him to care for me? Do I get sulky when I don't get what I expect? Do I try to reason with him or argue His ways? It all makes you go "hmmm", doesn't it?

This week I hope you take a step back and simplify. Reflect on your attitude, and make positive changes. Above all love God, and love your family.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mama, who is the devil?

The other night something happened that make me think. My son and I were talking about some random subject that came up. Somehow, that lead to the topic of sin; then the topic of the devil. I don't recall exactly how it came about but I said,"the devil doesn't want us to love God". There was a pause. My son tilted his head and squinted his eyes like he was thinking very hard. He said ,"Mama, who is the devil?"

I was taken back by this question. We mention the devil from time to time but I guess I'd never really told my son who Satan was. How often our enemy is overlooked! I told him that Satan used to be a good angel but he turned bad and his only wish is to trick people into following him so they have to go to "the bad place" where God isn't. My son asked if the devil was the bad guy, and I told him yes. He told me he would love God forever so the bad guy couldn't win. How simple, yet powerful.

So, who is the devil? Far too often we forget how very real Satan is and how well he can be disguised. We want to blame God when things go wrong...but what if that is what Satan wants us to think? Unfortunately the devil will not be obvious or unappealing. He will be very appealing to draw us in. Friends, the devil is hard at work every hour of every day trying to lure us away from the path of God. He uses so many tools to get to us; anger, jealousy, distractions, pride, lust, and even time. Satan wants us to fill our days with activities that are self serving. Sports, games, busy schedules. These things aren't bad, but when they begin to consume so much of your time that serving God or others becomes 2nd place or a burden, then it's a problem.

Jesus said,"the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few!"

It is so true! In our world we want to know what the church can do for us. Or what we will get out of worship. We are not the audience in worship....God is! Christ washed the feet of his disciples and served others. Would we wash our brothers feet or do we consider ourselves too good? Or think someone else will do it? Satan would be thrilled if you just waited for someone else to do it.....because you're just too busy.

People spend 7 (ish) hours a day 180 days a year for at least 13 years, in school. If we spend 1 hours a week for 52 weeks studying the bible....we might get in as many hours as we had for the first part of kindergarten....maybe. We need to study. The word of God is our sword and our defense against satan. We must train with it and learn to use it.

Satan is real. He wants you. He knows you. He knows your weaknesses. When we became Christians we made a decision and a commitment. We signed up for battle. Ready your sword and your armor. God is faithful to us. He loves us and wants to have us with him forever.

The Lord's church needs workers. Step up to the plate and out of your comfort zone. God will be there equipping you and cheering you on. The devil will be cringing and trying to scheme his next move. Be prepared. Stay strong and pray long.

I don't walk the line, I dance on it.

I get a lot of people with mixed feelings about the way I choose to educate my children. I have one home-schooled child and one public schooled child.

My youngest is in public (k) and my oldest is home (5th). My long term plan is to have my son at home as well. I intend to see my daughters education through until graduation.

In the minds of many, I walk the line between "good and evil". You see, a lot (not all) of parents that home school think it is horrible of me to have one of my children in public school ::dramatic gasp here::. Then, a lot (not all) of public school parents think I am"ruining and sheltering" my daughter because she is in "home school" ::dramatic gasp here::. Here is a news flash for any person falling into these categories: They are MY children, please mind your own business. But, at the same time I would like to satisfy "inquiring minds".

I believe that every family is different and I believe that public school is not for everyone just as much as home school is not for every one. I praise God that I live in a time and place where I am able to chose what I believe is best for my own children.

Why do I homeschool? Because I want Bible class to be more than Sunday mornings. I also want to teach my children so much, that I simply cannot teach them when they are gone all day. Am I sheltering my child? Absolutely. I feel she is simply too young to be lambasted with what kids are exposed to these days. I feel that if I throw her into school to deal with all the junk while she is still growing and maturing, and trying to blossom, she will drown. I am trying to equip her to deal with life when it is time. Don't get me wrong, she is not totally in the dark about issues. Rather, I chose to introduce things to her as she grows and in my way, not from another kid at school.

The world is so messed up. Today I read an article that NYC public school system is now providing the morning after pill to girls (starting at 14yrs.)for free without parental consent. It seems like they are trying to fix a broken back with a band aid. Treating the symptoms but not the problem.

Now, on the flip side, I think public schools were, at one time, a great thing, and some can still be. I have absolutely nothing against people who choose public school. It is THEIR choice and is not my place to judge. I send my son to kindergarten. For him, I think this will be a great thing. He is learning some valuable life lessons and (as far as I can tell) things are still innocent . He is having fun and is gaining some independence.

The rearing of my children is not a responsibility I take lightly. I will be held accountable for what I teach them during my life. Each of us will. I will not sit idly by while the world fights for my children's hearts. I do not pretend to have it all figured out, I am only human. There are days when I want to give up on it all and have the days to myself. But my heart will not allow it. God has entrusted me with these precious children and I must do my best to raise them according to His plan.

So, I don't really walk the line. I dance on it with mismatched socks and parachute pants!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Adding memories to my library...

This weekend my family and I are going camping. We don't get to go or do things away from home very often. Needless to say, I'm excited. Cooking over the fire, visiting an apple orchard, playing with the kids, cuddling with my husband.

My goal this weekend is to make memories. Before I can think about it my children will be grown and gone. Time passes faster everyday! Also, we don't know what tomorrow will bring. I may not be here, or my husband, or any of us. Life is so terribly short and unpredictable. We must make the most of each and every day, because it may be our last.

While I am a very goofy person at times and love humor and jokes, my heart is drawn to a very serious nature. Today, I explored an old cemetery. I find it interesting to look at the names, and dates. This person lived during the civil war. That person lived to be 102. It can be interesting, but I also do it to keep my feet on the right path in life. I saw the grave of a 10 yr old girl, the same age as my daughter. It broke my heart. I saw the grave of someone that shared my first and middle name. It made me think. I saw the grave of a husband and wife, and their infant child buried next to them. It made me want to hold my family. I saw the grave of a woman who outlived her husband by 44 years. It made me ache for my husband to get home. So many lives and stories.....silent yet crying out! I can imagine what they might say to a passer by. Be thankful! Stay true! Forgive! Love!

Some one once said the most important part of a headstone is the "-" between dates. That little dash holds so many secrets.

I walked away from the cemetery breathing deeply the cool air. My heart filled with renewed gratitude for my daughter, son, husband, life. I thanked God, that because Jesus defeated death, I need not fear the grave.

This weekend, I will live. I will love my family and my God with every breath. I will make memories to treasure and keep close to my heart always. God's creation will be all around and I will drink deeply of all my blessings. I will kiss my kids and my husband. I will run, play, laugh, and smile. Oh yes, I will live...... everyday.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Oh be careful little mind what you think.

Here we are again. Another day has passed. My kids are in bed and my mind is running much faster than my body.

I want to write about something that's been on my mind lately. It kind of goes along with my post about judging others, but not quite.
Friends, I sometimes think we judge Jesus. What I mean by this is, we try to smash Him into a mold to fit OUR ideals and tell others what God thinks of them without considering who He really is. Often people think of Christ as walking highly among the people, not associating with "riffraff", cheats, liars, thieves, prostitutes, or the like. So in turn we set ourselves up on a pedestal and pat our backs while we look down our noses at these "sinners". Those people who obviously can't be as good as we are. We parade around telling people what we are against....but not what we are for. We tell them what they are doing wrong but never stop to see what WE are doing wrong. How. Dare. We.

Christ was a servant to His friends. He washed their feet! He is the ultimate example of humility. He sought out the sinners and brought them love and grace. Many times people would gasp and point fingers because our Lord took time to share Gods love with those that everyone else condemned.

We are ALL sinners. (rom 3:23) But thank the Lord that we can all be forgiven. After living on this Earth and living a very humble life, He died for us.

Don't get me wrong. I fully understand that "Evil company corrupts good morals." What I'm saying is everyone deserves love, and a chance. Who can truly look around at the people you see and say they don't deserve to go to heaven? Who will throw the first stone? The people around us need us to show them the love of Christ so they CAN have a chance to go to heaven. When we turn up our noses and walk away we have sentenced them and judged them.

There will be those who refuse. There will be those who accept. How can you tell by merely judging from the outside. Only God knows the heart.

As Thanksgiving (the forgotten holiday) approaches, I challenge you. Invite someone who will be alone to be part of your family. God will provide you with what you need to carry out his work. Have faith, be bold, and love all.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

An ordinary day in an ordinary life

I'm not sure why I wrote this and it certainly doesn't cover everything in the day. But I thought it might make some of you smile. :-)

I snooze my alarm until the last possible minute, hoping for a fog delay or some other random delay to allow me just a few more minutes in bed. It doesn't happen. So I draaaaaag my behind out of my bed. I get myself dressed then go get my youngest up to get ready for the bus. Meanwhile my oldest skips merrily through the house singing in a Mary-Poppins-like tone about the day before us. I roll my eyes so far I can almost see my brain. I'm not a morning person.

I try to clean.

I make breakfast. I try to convince my son (youngest) to try something besides peanut butter and jelly for his lunch. He laments and refuses. I roll my eyes and pack his usual.

I try to clean.

My daughter (oldest) asks for a run down of the day (as she does every day) with great expectations. I tell her we have school. She droops. Then quickly recovers and continues singing random made up songs in an opera like voice.

I try to clean.

I take my son out to the bus stop and wait for the bus. I remind him right up to the last minute to behave and NOT to pee on trees on the playground. The bus arrives and I smother him with kisses and I love you's and send him off.

I try to clean.

I check on the chickens and I'm greeted by a bunch of ninja type noises.....bwaaaaaaaaa. One day I suspect they will bust into ninja moves. For now they watch and wait.....

Back in the house my daughter has some random project out and spread over the entire couch. I tell her it's time to get our school work done. She sighs and plops at her desk. We do our Bible study. We start math. She keeps popping up with random stories. I tell her to focus. She pouts. We go through much of our school work this way. I grade papers. We discuss lessons. Then it's time for lunch.

I try to clean.

We go to the kitchen and she makes a little something for her and I make a little something for me. We joke and giggle. We make voices for our pets and act like they are speaking to us. I roll my eyes at myself.

I try to clean.

Now we finish up book work for school and move on to crafts, music, or a project, etc. And my daughter sings more. I begin to feel like my life is a musical.

I try to clean.

It's time for my sons bus to arrive. I head out and wait. His bus arrives. I can tell by his exit what his behavior was. If he got into trouble his head droops and he drags his sulky feet over to me. If he's been good he bounds off the bus. He says he's hungry. I roll my eyes and tell him he's ALWAYS hungry. We go inside where he is greeted eagerly by our dogs. He eats a snack and says he is STILL hungry. We do his homework.

I try to clean.

I realize dinner is quickly approaching and I haven't planned anything. I go stand in the pantry and wait for a vision or light from heaven to show me what to make. It doesn't happen, so I eventually figure something out on my own.

I cook dinner. My husband gets home. We eat dinner and talk at the table. After dinner my son takes off outside and I look out the window to find him whizzing on a tree. I roll my eyes.

I try to clean.

My daughter shows off a dance or song she made up. I try not to laugh. My son plays in the dirt. My husband and I talk.

I try to clean.

Soon it is time for bed. We send the kids for their showers/pajamas. My daughter wraps herself in two towels and a floor length robe when she gets out of the shower and tries to tip toe through unnoticed. My son streaks through the house in his underwear giggling. My son tries to convince me to let him sleep with his army hat on and with his toy gun. I tell him no. I send them to brush teeth. I walk into the bathroom to find them acting like fountains squirting water out of their mouths....."trying" to hit the sink.

Then it's bible stories and prayers. I tuck them in and smother them with I love you's and kisses.

I look at the house and it looks like nobody has cleaned all week! I scold myself for not cleaning more. I try to clean, but I'm pooped. I draaaaag my behind to bed. I pray. I think of my family and the day. I tell myself tomorrow I won't hit the snooze button so many times.....

.....I snooze my alarm until the last possible minute.....

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sticks in spokes will break your bones and words can always hurt you.

As most of you know, I have been following a strict vegan-like diet that my neurosurgeon recommended. I was to stay on that for 6 weeks, which I did. I lost 10 lbs in the beginning then went up and down 4 lbs for the next 5 weeks. I also decided that I was going to start training for a half marathon, next fall. I was SO happy when my six weeks were up for that diet and I could drink milk again! And eat yogurt! It's the simple things you miss.

Today I went for a follow up with that Dr. Today, he threw a stick in my spokes. During my walk/jogs my lower back has started hurting and I've been getting sharp pains going down the backs of my legs. SO, despite my best efforts, the Doc insists I stop all walking and or running until I get an MRI on my back and he looks at the results. ::sigh:: But wait! There's more! Not only did he put the kapoot on my training but he also wants me to try the diet AGAIN, but with new restrictions. Woo hoo! Oh, no I don't think I'm excited about that. In my head I can almost hear the doctor snorting he's laughing so hard.

I got to sit through another talk about my weight. I just love when you KNOW something is a problem and yet people insist on telling/reminding you. It always improves your self image ....not. I know, I know, he's trying to help. That's why I'm going to listen to him and give it my best shot. The worst that can happen is it DOESN'T work and I can tell him with a clear conscience that I gave it my best shot.

So I feel like I was going along and doing pretty good then....wham! I got a stick in my spokes and it stopped me dead in my tracks. It is disheartening. It makes me want to turn around and flip my tail in the air and walk away like a sassy cat. It makes me want to just forget it all.....but I can't. It's not my nature. No, instead, I'll get bummed for a few days, and sulk around the house while I talk myself into not giving up. I don't know when to quit. I feel like giving up trying would be giving up all hope. Even after I fail again and again there is that small hope that drives me on. The hope that THIS could be the time it works.

I am insane. Why? The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. That's pretty much me. I like to think of myself as "ruggedly independent" (stubborn). It can be a good and bad quality, it just depends on where it is applied.

I am not giving up. I won't let this battle be won by the opposing side. We all have daily battles. We all have something we must conquer daily. We will keep on keeping on knowing we aren't the only one. Don't give up. Go open your bible and read Psalm 29. Our God is a strong God. He will help us through if we just seek Him.

I'm rooting for you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Floods, fears, and faithfulness

One of the great things about Home School, is being able to take time to answer questions that might relate to the topic but are not THE topic.

For example, this morning my daughter and I were reading about Noah's ark and the flood, but that lead us to the book of revelation.

We were reading about the floodwaters starting and all the people left behind because they were wicked. I asked her to consider how frightening it must have been for Noah's family. I can just imagine people screaming and running, realizing how true Noah's words had been. Realizing it was too late. They had listened for 100 years and never believed. Few people actually stop to think of this moment in history and how tragic it really was. I told her it will be much the same when Christ returns. People think they can wait until the last minute to make things right. It will be too late. This provoked her to ask about some things she had read in the book of Revelation. She said it was frightening. I TOTALY agree.

Keep in mind that she is 10 years old, but she has always been a deep thinker. The book of Revelation is complex and I don't have all the answers. However, I told her that the entire book can be summed up in two words--God Wins.

People on Earth are obsessed with taking sides. Democrat or Republican. Liberal or conservative. This team or that. This school or that. When it comes to God, however, people often think of God as the one choosing sides. We like to put Him in a nice box and use Him to justify our motives by proclaiming that He is on our side. We are foolish people. God cannot be contained, nor does he chose silly sides. God IS a side. YOU must chose to be on HIS side. We are to follow HIS rules. He created us, not the other way around.

I try not to be "hell fire and brimstone". Yet, there are things that need to be told. There are MANY joyful things we focus on but today was sober.

My daughter was stirred by what we had talked about. She said she was afraid that she wouldn't make it into heaven. She welled up with tears and and we hugged tight. I stroked her hair and thought of how much I was like her at that age. I remember the fear. Even as adults, we fear. Don't worry, I didn't just leave her afraid.

She has been baptized and takes her Christian walk very seriously. So, we talked about grace and mercy. We talked about Gods immeasurable love and His amazing grace. Even as adults we have a hard time wrapping our minds around the mercy of God. Even as adults, we fear death. Christians should not fear death, if we are faithful. Christ defeated death. If we follow Him, he will save us from deaths sting.

Finally, we talked about how important it is to teach others about Gods love, so others don't have to fear anymore. Others need to know that these things are real. We all need to share the good news with others.

After our lesson, we prayed together. We cried. We hugged. Then I tickled her ribs and she giggled. We smiled and with hope in our hearts set back to work. I pray you have hope in your heart.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Word Power

Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. (Proverbs 18:21 ASV)

Wow. Just wow. Read that scripture and let it sink in. The power of the words that come out of our mouths. It has sparked many sayings. "I stuck my foot in my mouth." "Tongue tied." "Cat got your tongue?" The list goes on and on.
One of the first things that came to my mind was the song we sing to our children. "Oh be careful little mouth what you say..." What powerful advice there is hidden in the song meant for children but applicable to all.

The Bible is flooded with scriptures on the power of words and the tongue. Most of the passages cautioning us on the amount of harm we can cause with our words.

Our words are like tools. What the tool is used for, depends on you. Are our tools used for building, improving, protecting? Or are our tools used for tearing down, ripping apart, and destruction. While we may want to believe that we are using our tools for good, it may not be the case. We are all guilty of speaking behind someone's back or stating our unkind opinion about a person to others. It's hurtful, and just wrong.

We can "paint pictures" with words. Have you ever painted a picture of someone either to themselves or someone else? Of corse. Every time you speak to them or of them you do. What type of image do you want to leave in the mind of those you speak with. Parents, we help to paint the way our children see themselves. Much like painting, once you have made a stroke of the brush with words, it cannot be taken back. We must consider what we say, carefully.

Today, someone used their kind words to encourage me. They used their tools to build me up and they painted beautiful strokes on my heart. It meant the world to me. To that person, I thank you. Thank you for believing in me.

You can literally change the course of a persons life by what you say to or about them. That is really powerful. God blessed us with the ability to communicate so we can talk to Him and our fellow man. What God gave us is good and we must use it for good. We must not pervert it or use the very thing meant to build each other up, to tear each other down.

Whoever you are, I believe in you. Our Lord God believes in you, He made you! I pray for everyone who reads my blog. Know that I may not know you, but I care about you. Know that God does know you, and He will always care about you. He loves you enough to Give up His Son for you. I'd say you're pretty special.

Let's get our brushes in hand and our tools at the ready. We will all paint pictures today, will you paint Love? We will all use our tools today. Will you build hope?

Go encourage someone today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Normal" isn't so normal.

Do you ever sit and wonder what "normal" is? Nobody thinks they or their lives are normal. If I had to define "normal" I think I'd call it, the delusion that everyone has of everyone else's life, and the illusion we try to create to match it. Hmmm. Well, as far as putting it into words I think that is the best I've got.

I'll admit, I spend time thinking "I wish my life was just normal." I wish that things were as pleasant as they appear to be on the outside of other peoples lives. "On the outside"......

There are many directions we could take with this topic, but there is one I want to focus on. Depression. Depression is an ugly creature that takes over and steals joy in life. Many people keep their depression a hidden part of their life, tucked safely away behind the fear of the stigma that comes with depression. I too, fear that stigma.
I suffer from clinical depression. I have for years. Once in awhile my doctor and I decide to try not treating it with medication. It always works well for the first month or two...then I find myself crying all the time, or dreading waking in the morning. It's like I'm watching myself become more and more depressed but despite my best efforts to pull myself out of my slump, I fail.

Many Christians believe and profess that faith in God should be all you ever need to be joyful and if you are depressed than there is an issue with your faith. I have been told this by people before. It is a sad thing. It is the last thing that will help you because then you feel like a failure in your faith on top of everything negative you may feel.
I'm stepping out and exposing this struggle I have so that others who secretly struggle will know they are not alone. I think our Christian family would be far better off if we didn't worry about keeping up appearances of "normal" and exposed our faults and struggles so that we can build each other up. What if we let our guards down and truly bear one another's burdens as it says in Galatians 6:2?

For some reason when people find out you are on medication for depression (insert dramatic gasp here), they get this crazy image in their head. Some people just chalk you up as mentally impaired from that point on, and it's almost like they are afraid of you. Some will also try to look down on you. They might even attribute any slight change in your behavior to "your meds". Why is this? Are we not all human? Do we not all have struggles and inner battles?

I often struggle with taking medication for depression because it makes me feel weak. I listen to those who feed me lies and belittle me for not being able to "snap out of it". Friends, there is nothing wrong with treating depression. Take heart, and know that I applaud you for facing your giant. You are far from alone. Many times the people who struggle with depression are those you would never suspect. Often they are the goofy out-going ones that seem to have it all together....on the outside. Those people may go home and cry themselves to sleep, we don't know.

Faith is indeed critical. Not how it is often twisted though. Keep God close as you fight your depression. He WILL help you. God is an important part of the healing process. However, it by no means EVER means you have weak faith because you are depressed.

Let us put away our ideas of "normal". It is too often the image in our head of how things are supposed to be that messes us up. No more illusions and delusions. Be real. Real love, real kindness, real hope. Here's to tomorrow......

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mirror, mirror

Judged. We all judge every day. We size People up with a glance. Clothes, hair, car. We watch actions and reactions. We make mental lists of what we like or don't like. We like to watch people from a distance and tell every one what we think is wrong with the situation or how we think they are handling it wrong. We are judgmental people. It's in our culture, so deeply, that it shapes us. Look at all the celebrity gossip articles, shows, and magazines there are. We are saturated in it.

It's all too easy to occupy our minds with what we think others should be doing rather than focusing on us. It's easy to point out what's wrong with people when we stand on the outside and look in. Consider this scripture.

"Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:2-5 ESV)

It makes you think, doesn't it? When I think back on things, every time I have judged someone, I later found myself in their situation, being judged by others. It's a real quick way to get your eyes opened, and your ego broken.
There are many scriptures on the topic of judging. Even in the bible they had issues with people being judged based on what they wore or where they were from.

Let's be careful to love people. ALL people, as Christ loved us. Christ loved us enough to die for us. When was the last time we prayed for the person that judged us, and hurt us? When was the last time we made efforts to look past our impression of someone and tried to show them Christian love? When was the last time we spoke kindly of someone rather than gossiping about them?

Be a light. Christ is the light and we are like mirrors reflecting that light. What or who do you reflect? Shine up your mirror and let people get a glimpse of what the love of Christ is all about.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

And now for something completely different...

I'm writing this from my phone (as I do all my posts because this is my only Internet), so I am HOPING it holds it's format. If I'd doesn't, I'll try to correct it Monday.

Once in a while I might post a poem of sorts that I wrote. Today is one of those days. I hope you find something in it to lift you up.

All around I compare and see,
All of those that are better than me.

"Don't compare!" assure me the best.
Then they turn with pride, and run with the rest.

"Give me praise!" they shout but don't speak.
Not bothering to encourage those trying, and weak.

An unlikely one steps out and promises to achieve.
She sets up her goals and her far-fetched dreams.

The expectations for this one aren't high at all.
They wag their heads and wait for her hopes to fall.

She gropes the path, reaching for support.
"It's impossible" they say, "this scheme you must abort."

The odds are against her, taunting her steps.
Mocking, jeering, and tearing from the depths.

People come, pass on the left and the right.
Their strides come easier, it's hardly a fight.

Pity invades, and tries to take hold.
She fights her tears and tries to be steadfast and bold.

Then a glimmer, a spark, a fire ignites her heart.
She'll see it to the end, refusing to be picked apart.

Let their vanity and pride be theirs to keep.
Their pace will lesson, what they've sewn, they'll reap.

Her fight is her own, and this she well knows.
So onward she carries. Down the path she goes.

One day she'll pass some soul on this road.
SHE won't keep going, leaving them cold.

She will stop, and match the strangers pace.
For it's what ought to be done, as we all run this race.

Teaching them to quicken their step and almost fly.
Rather than leaving them hopeless with each passing by.

The day will come as she runs her Race.
There will be no shortness of breath; a new pace.

She won't have a medal or great body to show.
But she will reflect on her pace that was once so slow.

The hurt that it had caused, being left so far behind;
Made her think of others and keep them in mind.

So as we try to finish as others.
Let's make time to stop and help our brothers.

Thanks for reading. Keep on keeping on.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Uncommon, common courtesy

Lately it seems I can't turn around without hearing someone express disappointment in people letting them down. It's very discouraging to have someone say they will do something or be somewhere then they either bail at the last minute or just never show up and leave you wondering. Often times you have rearranged some part of your day to accommodate them and then things fall through. It is without a doubt one of Satan's greatest tools. Disappointment. It leads to distrust, and a selfish attitude. We put up our guards and are less likely to help others. When we start putting ourselves above those around us out of hurt or bitterness, things will fall apart. Society trains us to look out for "#1". What has happened to "common courtesy". It certainly isn't common any more. Companies promise products that deliver and and they don't. People promise to always, love, cherish, forgive, and they don't. We are left offended, hurt, and full of "why's". It wears your heart down and you may find yourself asking "whats the point"?It feels as though you are cursed and anything bad that can happen to you, will.
This line of thinking is dangerous friends. It is a trap.

First, step back. These people that disappoint us, Christ died for them too. We are told the road will be even harder if you chose to follow Christ. But, we are told the end of the road is by far the best. We are never told it will be easy, just that it will be worth it. We cannot explain why people act the way that they do. We have all done wrong (Rom 3:23). We must not start to think so highly of ourselves that we don't remember where we have come from. When we are frustrated with people and especially our Christian family, we must humble ourselves and remember that nobody is perfect and that we all need grace. Don't get caught in the phrase "I would never do that".
Now, if you know you have hurt someone, make it right. Try your best not to disappoint someone who is depending on you. Pray for those who have offended you and those you may have offended.

Finally, take heart. When it seems as though nobody keeps their word, remember our Lord. He will never let you down. He will never betray you. Even when you bail on Him at the last minute, he will be waiting for you. He doesn't walk away from us. If you feel that nobody will ever be faithful to you, remember HIS faithfulness. Who are we to be so disappointed in man? How many times have we disappointed our Lord?

When you get stood up, remember to stand up for the One who gave his life for ALL of us.

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. (2 Thessalonians 3:13 NASB)

Keep your chin up, we are in this together.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ashes of a library

Quite some time ago I read a little saying on a calendar. I don't remember if it was a quote or what, but what it said has been with me for a long time. What did it say? It simply stated, "when an elderly person passes away, it is as though a library has burned to the ground." Oh how true it is!
I keep journals of my life. Not because anything exciting happens but rather so some trace of my experiences and memories can be left behind. I find myself wishing that my grandparents had done this. I've lost both of my grandmothers and one grandfather in the past few years. After their passing I really do feel as though I am sifting through ashes of some great library looking for pieces of their story.
In March of this past year I Said a final goodnight to my one of my grandmothers. She had been in a nursing home for a couple of years and when she got bad they called us all in. We sat by her bedside for days, waiting. Waiting for peace to come over her, waiting for that final breath. Sitting there watching her gave me more time to think on morbid things than I wish to confess. However, one observation I made was her surroundings. For most of the time it was my mom, myself, and my grandfather. She laid there, gaunt and tired, and all that summed up her life was either sitting around her or pinned up on a cork board above her head. Pictures of her family were on that board. All of her dreams, wishes, lessons learned and memories were either passed on through story or left buried in her heart.
My heart broke at not only the thought of losing her to death, but also the lifetime of emotions and sensations that would be lost. I knew my grandmother, as my grandmother. I wanted more than ever to know what she was like when she was young, or when she had small kids at home or to ask her for any advice or words of wisdom that came from years of experience.
Finally she passed on and left the frail body of this earth to rest. The library of Patricia Ann Hoffman burned to the ground. As many others have before. And so, I sift through the ashes of her library, searching for pieces of her life.
Our lives are like libraries. We gather knowledge and (hopefully) wisdom. Share it. Above all go visit your grandparents or your other loved ones and learn their story, then write it down.
More than all of this we are left with the Bible. A library. The story of Gods love for man. Share it. Don't leave people left to dig through the ashes for answers. Share what you have learned, and learn from what others have shared. I'm glad God wrote it all down, so we didn't have to sift through the ashes, aren't you?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A quick post!

This past week has been filled with a lot of activity. Wednesday through Saturday we spent most of the day at the church building in preparation for vbs. We went a little nuts with the decorating.:-)

Some people were there every day. Others popped in for an hour here or there. The thing that impresses upon my heart is the amount of teamwork that went into everything. People of various talents and walks of life came together to put this together. It was refreshing.

People were leaders and workers. There was no fighting or arguing. We all had a common goal and worked as one to achieve it.

While I worked it occurred to me how much I was enjoying it. Not only the work but seeing Christians work together the way they were meant to. I felt like we were unstoppable. Mind you all we were doing was working on VBS stuff, all I could think about was how powerful Christians can be when they work together. Just think of the things we could accomplish! Consider the possibilities!! If we could truly function as one, it would be amazing.
If we could REALLY do what Christ asked us to. If we all lost our self entitled attitudes and actually worked.

I will cut this short and leave you with that thought, as I have much to do. Go get busy!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No wax left and the oil is low.

Did you ever think of the expression,"I'm burned out"? Did you ever consider what it means? Think of a candle, the wax is the fuel which drives it on. Yet, the candle does not burn for its own purposes. Rather it burns to shine light for those around. It, in a way, sacrifices itself for those around it. That makes it very applicable, doesn't it? Or think of an oil lamp who's fuel needs constant renewing. We are much like that, are we not?

"I'm burned out." It is something I hear more and more from people. Those I don't hear it from, often you can see it on their weary faces. They are the ones who work endlessly to serve others, often without thanks. We all know one of these people or have been one at some time. My heart goes out to them, as I have been there.

It weighs on my heart to see so many people growing weary of doing good. Often a simple thank you would make all the difference. But there are times when people have to fight to do good and it becomes exhausting. Some things burn us up more quickly than others because we must burn more brightly.

What has happened to the workers? Where have they gone? I see so many who sit idly by with self-entitled attitudes. It seems more prevalent then ever. Sometimes I find myself wondering if the general population will ever stop serving themselves and look at the people around them. This is nothing new though. In the Bible we find several instances where people felt alone in their work. This feeling of "woe is me" is a tool being used against us. It is a a pool of dangerous self pity in which we will drown.

Please, encourage someone today. Write a note, send a card, write a text, make a call. Words are powerful. They can cause irreparable damage or they can be a source hope for a lifetime. Aren't sure what to say? That's what hallmark is for! Or simply write "thinking of you". Slap it in an envelope and send it away. If you could save a persons heart from despair, for less than 50 cents, would you? It seems such a small price to pay. Or you can pay a stranger a compliment. Perhaps they have nobody to encourage them.
If you are on the verge of being burned out, you can relate even more and should find a fellow worker to encourage. It will help you too.

To those who feel they have nothing left, you are not alone. Take heart in the fact that I pray for you. I may not know your name or what you do, but God does. Keep your light burning brightly for those around you. Do not conserve your light or keep it dim. Look at the prophet Elijah. He thought he was alone but God told him there were thousands others just like him. Ones who were still doing right and not bowing to idols. Read this in 1 Kings chapter 19.

So please, look at those around you and find someone who needs to be encouraged and step up and encourage them. We are all in this together, so let's help each other make it through. Encourage each other and pray for each other, TODAY.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rain, brought out the sun.

Where we live it has been several weeks since we have seen rain. The large storm I spoke of a few weeks ago hit south of here while I was visiting but missed our home. As in a lot of other places, our grass has been brown, lifeless and very crunchy. Our garden is always looking sad. Every cloud that goes by, passes with a prayer to drop some rain.

It has been said that this is one of the worst droughts in over 50 years. It makes me think of all the famines the bible speaks of. We had hoped to have been feasting out of our garden by now, but everything is growing so slowly, if at all. We water once in a while, but need to conserve the water we have. Now the word famine makes my mouth feel dry and my stomach growl.

Well, yesterday I was driving home from a dentist appt., when in the distance I saw a dark cloud. Seeing a dark cloud really gets you excited around here. I kept my eye on in and saw that if it kept up, it just might hit us. The cloud grew quite large and and was now worthy or being called a storm cell. Beautiful rain shafts could be seen in the distance.

As I got closer to home, people were out on their lawns in groups. Some were standing and pointing. Others sitting in lawn chairs. All were watching the storm. It looked like it would actually hit us. All the other storms went just north or south of us, but there was hope that this one would make it.

Soon we heard thunder in the distance and my kids started squealing with delight. Even they knew how badly we needed rain.

I pulled into my driveway to find my husband standing outside watching as so many others. The kids and I piled out of the car and joined him. It was so close now that the sky was very dark and the sun and its rays were blotted from view. At this point we felt our hearts would break if the storm didn't reach us.

The wind picked up and blew in some deliciously cool air. Our AC has been broken, so this coolness was welcomed with great thanks.

Dark clouds were over and around us now. Lightening, thunder, rain. I prayed within me for rain...any rain. Then it sprinkled. Then grew into rain and a great downpour.


My husband and I were sending up prayers of thanks. The kids were dancing and singing. Rain. It brought out the sun in a way for us. It went on for a good half hour, much to our delight. We were so happy.

Praise God for the rain.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be careful what you pray for.....

Monday night I lay in my bed crying. I had reached a low point. My weight has continued to climb despite my efforts. I was at my wits end praying that God would give me a way. I told myself that if God gave me direction on this I would follow it, no matter how difficult or crazy. I prayed for help because obviously whatever I was doing wasn't working and now I had to rely on God(Prov. 3:5-6), as I should've done from day one.
I kept telling myself I was relying on God. I kept building the illusion that I had everything under control. I didnt and I don't.
Lately life has been dealing us one blow after another and I can scarcely catch my breath. Things going wrong with the house, storms, illness, injury, debt, and so on. I tend to take all my worries and focus my frustration at my personal faults, such as my weight. So with all of this going on I was zeroed in on my weight. I tip the scales at 242 lbs, so it was an easy target.
Well, Tuesday afternoon I had an appt. with my neurosurgeon. I always dread going to see a doctor, they are expensive, you have to be weighed, and they take one look at you and think they know who you are.
I arrived at my doctors office with my kids in tow. We waited in the waiting area for quite a while. Finally we were called back.
We sat in the room and waited. Then the doctor came in. He was a thin, short man with snow white hair and a cheerful bounce in his step. He whirled into the room and greeted me and my kids. Then he sat down at a small countertop in the room. We talked about my migraines and my family history. We also discussed the calcium in my brain. Then we turned and looked at me and said that we needed to discuss my weight.
I felt my face get hot and a lump form in my throat. I hate having my faults pointed out when I am TRYING to fix them. Actually I hate having my faults pointed out at all. I think most people would feel the same. I felt tears welling up and my throat ached. I was only half listening to him. I didn't want to hear what he had to say. I didn't care.
As I sat there fighting back tears of hurt and pride, I remembered my prayer. I had asked for this very thing. This wasn't how I expected it but is it ever? How often do we look the answer to our prayers in the face then reject it? I fought back and swallowed my pride and prayed for the strength to listen and be kind.
The doctor was being gentle with his comments. He wasn't frustrating like when you've gained 50 lbs and people claim they can't tell. He wasn't accusing like I had never tried to change. He was forward, informative and sympathetic. It was amazing.
I listened carefully and he wanted me to get a book that he wrote and read it, then follow it. He told me some of the ideas of the diet, or non-diet as he called it. I have to eat mostly fruits and veggies. Some beans, nuts, and whole grains. The tricky part is NO MEAT. So I have to become a vegetarian. No dairy, processed foods and no oils either. So I can expect to be growing a fluffy white tail and long ears any day.
This is what I asked for. It is going to be SO HARD. I said I would do it though. I asked, God answered and now I have to act on it. I will update you on how it goes. Even though it will be really hard, if it works, it will be worth it.
God hears our prayers. He answers prayers. It is up to us to listen and watch for the answers. When we see them, we must act on them, even when its not the answer you were expecting. What are you praying for?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

It's God's, mama.

It's Sunday. The Lords day. In this family it means nothing is planned (except on rare occasion) other than worship, bible class, and family time.

This quarter I am teaching a class for 3-5th grades. Sometimes they spring questions on me that catch me off guard....and I love it. It shows me that they are thinking. Today they asked me "who made God?"

I tried explaining that EVERYTHING on this earth and in our universe has a beginning and an end.. I told them that this is why it is so difficult for people to comprehend that God just always has been. I went on to say that most adults have a hard time understanding. I think it's good for kids to know that adults don't always understand things either.

Well, class continued and we had a good time looking things up in the bible to answer questions. I try to teach the kids that they need to be sure that what they learn is actually the truth, and the way they check is by looking it up in the bible.

After class dismissed it was time to go to the auditorium for worship. So, we seated ourselves and got situated. Rachel went up to sit with the youth group, while Gabe stayed back with my husband and I.

Gabe is your typical 6 yr old little boy. He can't sit still or pay attention for long. He likes anything that has to do with transportation, or construction. Once in a while he does something or says something that lets me know he is taking it all in.

Today he was in question mode. Why? How? Who? So many questions from him!! I kept having to remind him to whisper as worship started.

We sang a few songs, had a devotional before communion, then communion. After communion we have offering, where we can give a portion of what we have been blessed with.

I give each of my kids a small allowance each week. I give it to them with the understanding that part of it goes into the offering and part of it gets saved. The rest they can spend.

Well it was time for offering and I pulled Gabe's dollar out of my wallet. I handed it to him and said ,"YOUR money is in my purse."

Without hesitation he said,"It's God's, mama. It's all really His, he just let's us use it. Isn't that nice?"

Wow. I was speechless. It's humbling to get set straight by your 6yr old.

I had to sit and process the smack down I had just received! He was so right, and I knew it. I kissed him on the head as he smiled and put his dollar folded into an airplane into the offering.

So often we sit there and try to be greedy with our money. I had heard, and even have told my children the very thing that Gabe told me. Yet we forget it so quickly. God is entrusting us with what we have, to see how we will handle it. We are stewards of His money. How would we want someone to use the money we gave them?

As soon as worship was over he was out the door and playing with the other kids. People sometimes look down on kids. It's sad. I think 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (or the entire chapter:-)), says something very applicable to this situation. It also reminds us that we aren't "all that and a bag of chips". Mark 9:35-37 also comes to mind.

What really got me was my son wasn't saying what he said to show he was better. He didn't say it to make me look dumb or for any prideful motive. He was simply stating the truth, and he did it with love.

I hope we will ask the tough questions, like my class, and not just believe any answer given. I hope everything we say will be out of love. And I hope the next time we look at our bank accounts, we will remember, "it's God's, Mama."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oak Trees From Acorns

We had some heavy storms go through our area on Friday. I'll admit it was frightening. I was driving through it with my two children in the car. The winds reached over 90mph during this storm. Trees were falling, business signs were sailing across the road in front of us. Pieces of trees were slamming into the side of my car and at one point I was concerned that my car would blow over.
We really need some rain around here. That storm was like all the prayers for rain hit at once!
After everything was over and I had time to reflect on the events, a scene came to my mind. A storm, a boat, a man, and a little faith.

"Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." Peter said to Him, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, "You of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:22-31 NASB)

This has to be one of my favorites. Most people look at it this and call it the story of Jesus walking on the water, or the story of Peter doubting. What if we spin that around? What if we say it is the story where Peter tried, or where Peter had faith.
Wait, Peter had faith in this story?? Uh, yes, actually he did. It's so easy for us to sit back and judge, isn't it? We want to stand proud and beat our fists on our chest and declare 'I'd NEVER doubt like Peter'! Yet when money is tight and we don't know how we will ever make it, we doubt. When politicians lie and leaders abandon, we doubt. Even after God proves himself time and time again.....we doubt. We are human and it is our nature to doubt. Lets be honest, everyone is a hypocrite, to some degree. The story is not there for us to sit back and wag our heads at Peter. There are many lessons in this story.
Faith is a simple concept, and we practice it every day. We have faith in gravity. If we didn't, we would constantly be afraid of flying off into space. We have faith in the chair we sit in or the floor we walk on. Faith is believing in what you cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1).
So, back to the story. The boys are in the boat and they see Jesus coming towards them, walking on the water. They think he's a ghost, which I can't say I'd feel much different. Then he let's them know it's ok and that it is Him.
So, then every one starts jumping up and down and asking for a turn to walk on water. Ha! No! Peter, asks For Christ to prove who he is by commanding him to come onto the water. Christ simply says, "come".
Peter dared to step out and take a risk. A big risk. A risk that would strengthen His faith.
Who are we? Are we sitting in the boat watching? Do we show up on Sunday and watch everything happen all week? Or are we taking action and stepping out? Are we willing to try even if it means we fail?
We like our comfort zones. Who doesn't? But sometimes it has to hurt if we want to grow. Sometimes we have to have growing pains.
Well, Peter gets freaked out by the wind and waves and starts to sink. There are 'winds' and 'waves' in our lives that cause us to sink too. Yet, what Peter does here is interesting. Does he just start swimming, or try to save himself? Nope. He calls out to Christ. Then IMMEDIATELY Christ reaches down to help him. He doesn't wait 'til he's near drowning. Peter called out for help, and help is what he got. I think all too often we try to solve our own problems, don't you? Perhaps we need to call on Him for help more often than we do.
Christ says to Peter, "You of little faith. Why did you doubt"? You of LITTLE faith. Not you of NO faith. Peter becomes a key figure and leader in the new testament church. He continues to mess up along the way but God did great things through him.
Sometimes all we need is a little faith because if we have a little, it will grow. A little faith can turn into a big faith if you nurture it. Oak trees grow from acorns, don't they?
Faith is a simple concept, but that doesn't mean it's easy to act out. We need to challenge ourselves and those around us to be like Peter was in the boat. We need to step out of the boat and take the risk. We need to serve others and be workers. Faith needs to be put into action. There will be wind. There will be waves. Yet, if we have just a little faith we can do much.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A late night history lesson will break your heart.

Last night my daughter wanted to stay up late and watch a movie together. It is summer and I wanted the opportunity so I agreed. My son learned of our plans and I told him that he could join us as well. We browsed the movies and came across the diary of Anne Frank.
        Rachel studied the girl on the cover and and asked what the story was about. First, I told her that it was no story. I told her it is very true, every bit of it. Then I went on to explain about WW II and the Nazi's. She stopped me and asked who the Nazi's were. For some reason this stirred my heart. I felt that she needed to know this important part of history. I don't even know if they teach it in school anymore.
        It was settled. We were going to watch "The Diary of Anne Frank". I knew the story and knew it would be hard for my daughter to watch (she is 10). I however, believe that sometimes children need to be exposed to unhappy endings. I see so many of my daughters friends disconnected from compassion, and sympathy. It is our culture for young children to watch crazy movies and become callused to things around them. I know this is not always true, but it does seem to be a large number. I think all the external "junk" our kids are exposed to gives them a real disadvantage in the emotional department. It feeds a selfish, entitled attitude. The value of a human life seems to be less in the eyes of so many. It saddens me deeply.
        We all three settled down to watch the movie. It was a long movie and there were many questions along the way.
         It had been a long time since I had seen the movie or read the book. The more we watched and the more I remembered Anne Frank reminded me of my daughter. This gave me a new perspective on the movie. Before, I had watched it as a girl, relating to the young people in the movie. This time, I watched it as a parent, and related to the adults. New emotions were churning inside of me.
         The scene in the movie came where their hiding is finally discovered. My son crept over to my lap (He is 6yrs.) and had little tears in his eyes.
        He said, "Mama, those bad men are so mean. I wish I would have been there to fight them."
        My little protector.  I tried to smile at him, thinking of what I would have done had I been in that situation and told him, "My big strong boy, a lot of people died trying to fight the bad men."
        Then Rachel looked at me with tears down her cheeks and still welling in her eyes and asked, "Mama, does she live? Does her family live?"
         I took a deep breath. I hadn't expected it to stir their emotions so much, or mine. All I could do was shake my head and whisper, "Just her father, love."
        Then came the end scene and Rachel was hanging on to every word spoken by Anne's father about the fate of his family and friends.
         The movie ended with both children in my lap, with all of us crying quiet, sullen tears. My son was fairly easily comforted and after lots of hugs and kisses he felt much better. My daughter is a deep thinker. She would not be so easily comforted. She had so many questions. She wanted to know why I hadn't told her about this before.  She was somewhat familiar with WWII but only what it was like in america during the war.
        My daughter and I sat and discussed many things last night. We talked about relatives who had fought in WWII. We talked about how it would have been in their shoes. Then, we talked about how blessed we are.
       After much discussion, it was very late and time for bed. Rachel wanted to sleep in bed with me. I allowed it and soon after we laid down she was out cold. I laid there looking at her face and thinking of what it would be like to have our family separated and sent away the way the Frank family was. The lump in my throat ached as I thought of the feeling of helplessness. I envisioned the people who survived searching for months or years to discover the fate of the ones they loved. What heartache. Then a thought came to me. Death is not the end.
        My imagination swept me away to a reunion in heaven. People who searched for and never found the ones they loved. In all these scenarios it was always my family. I imagined it for a little while, then I could take it no more.
        I laid there and prayed. I thanked God for many, many things. The hope of heaven really is a grand hope. What would we have to comfort us in our times of sorrow?
        I will forever thank God for my family. Above all, I will thank Him for the hope He offers. The Bible is so full of promises that I know will be kept. When things look beyond hope, they are not. It may be difficult to see, but it is there.
        This morning I decided to look up Anne Frank. Unknown to me, the 25th, was the 60th anniversary of her diary being printed. Then I saw that she and my daughter shared the same birthday in June. I encourage you to look it up as well.
        History is an interesting thing. We can learn so much from it, if only we are willing to. The Bible tells us that the old testament (the part before Jesus, the old law) is there for us to study and learn from. Through out the years that are recorded you can see history repeating itself over and over. I suppose it will continue to do so. I believe that if we can learn from the mistakes of others, we should, and not make the same mistakes ourselves.
           Anne Frank had no idea the impact she would have on the world. Who knows what sort of impact we may have one day.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dissatisfaction guaranteed. Results may vary.

I've been thinking a lot lately about weight and health issues (wonder why...). I long for a good walk outside or some form of exercise. Yet, as you know it's still a few baby steps off in my recovery. In the meantime, I've been subjected to self-torture, looking up ways to work out and be healthy and loose weight. I go back and forth about it all the time. I ask "Why can't I just be happy with myself?". Really, when I dig down a few layers to where it starts to hurt, I know why. It's not because I want to be a super model or sport a bikini (NEVER!!). No matter what a persons size, modesty is a MUST. My body is a direct result of MY actions. Beyond that, my body is a tool. God gave me THIS body to care for and use to serve him. If we are given a tool for a special task, should we lay it on the ground and let it rust or subject it to unnecessary abuse? Or should we oil it, care for it, and USE it?

Now hold on though. YES, there are limitations. I don't necessarily mean everyone should go out and start running marathons. That just can't happen. However, you can eat healthy. Some have physical conditions or illnesses that put limitations on their physical bodies. You can take care of what you have though. I have been blessed with good health and I feel more is required of me because of this.
This truly is one of my struggles. It causes me to sin on many levels. When i struggle with emotion, do I turn to food? Do I lust for food? Gluttony is not a joke, friends. When the next church potluck comes and people are being tempted to over indulge, think about it. We joke about how we like our food in the church, but it is no joke. I believe the devil uses food to physically impair many saints so they cannot serve as they should be able to. It tires out our bodies to carry around more than they were meant to. And our bodies crave pure fuel. Yet I eat to satisfy my mouth and not my body. It's a needs vs wants. This does not just apply to us larger people. If someone is thin it does not mean that they are healthy.
God had blessed us with so much. Will we not use what we have been given? This temporary loss of physical freedom has struck me. We don't miss walking....until we can't.
Like everything in life there is a balance. We must take care of our bodies. Our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy spirit. When was the last time we dusted, vacuumed, or took out the trash? Our souls need to be kept as well. We should not be so consumed with our bodies that our souls suffer. We must feed our minds and souls pure fuel as well. Is our soul on a "fast food diet"? Do we just take in bits of spiritual nourishment as we find it laying around, when it's convenient for us? Or do we feed our souls a steady diet of the word of God, fellowship, and good works?
One will be much easier than the other. This does not make it the best.
The path ahead of me is not easy. I've struggled with my thyroid and other health issues the past year. I must steer my feet in a new direction. If I care for my body it will help me care for my soul and vice versa.
We are all dissatisfied with our bodies at some point. Let's use it as a stepping stone and not a stumbling block.
Tomorrow is too far away. Let us start on a better path today.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Walking with my feet tied up and my hands folded up.

Well, the healing process has suffered a set back. A trip to the ER Monday gave way to the discovery that there was slight internal bleeding, the start of cellulitis, and a bruised artery (they can bruise??). I was patched up and sent home. I almost slept through Tuesday and Wednesday. Today I can finally say I'm feeling BETTER. Not 100% but actually better and not worse. The most difficult hurdle right now is how damaged my leg is. I have to walk like my feet are tied together and bending my right leg is a nightmare! So, I stumble around the house half walking and half dragging my leg. I look like a zombie!!! I swallowed what little pride I had left and started using a cane to walk. It helps a lot. At least if people see me with a cane they won't think I'm a zombie! Haha! All this trying to get better is like trying to walk with your feet tied in more ways than one. Each move must be calculated and slow or you'll end up on your face! It works literally and metaphorically.
One of the best ways to get the focus off of your own pity party is to think of others. So, I broke out the cards and got to work. There are lots of others hurting all around us. Yes we need to think of our problems to a degree, but it's when we dwell on them that we wade into deep waters. I'm learning a little being out of commission. It really forces you to think about your perspective and if it's time for a revamp. I have gotten a few cards in the mail while being sick and they mean so much. It stirred up my compassion for the others that are sick or hurt, because I can relate. If you could make someone's day with 48cents, would you? It seems like such a small amount to brighten a day, or encourage a soul. Why then do we find it so hard to do? Time? Perhaps. Lazy? At least part of it. Or do we underestimate the power of a kind word? Hmmm.
It's all very interesting to think about. Try this, write someone a note that you are praying for them, then pray for them! How often do we say "I'll pray for (fill in the blank)." then never actually do. Or better yet fall asleep during the half hearted utterances that we call prayer. You know, the type of prayer where it's more of a task because you said you'd do it so you haaaave to as you remember as you crawl into bed. Why not pray for the person with the card in your hands? Sometimes I think we are afraid of prayer.
Imagine someone comes up to you after church and asks you to pray for them about something. Wouldn't it be awesome if RIGHT THEN, we took them aside and prayed? Wouldn't that be powerful?? The great thing is, we don't need an appointment for prayer! We do serve an awesome God. So, even though I feel like I'm walking with my feet tied up, I want to walk with my hands folded prayer.