Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas bells for 2012

So Christmas came once again. This year was a mixed bag.

We were happy to all be together. The newly weds surprised us all by showing up. 

Very Cool.

God answered our prayers in a way that we hoped and allowed Benji and Cindy to come home from Riley for Christmas.

Super Cool.

It was also pretty heavy because we knew that 3 days later Benj and Cindy would be moving to St. Louis until Benji can have the lung transplant. 
All the Cousins. With Grandpa and Grandma... and Dale. 

We had Fondue. One of my favorite traditions my mom  had started  when I was just a girl. About 5 years ago we decided it was a little too much. With this large of group it had become kind of a big deal so we did some other things in its place. But this year it got picked back up and the kids were happy, happy, happy. (excuse the Duck Dynasty expression, we may be a little obsessed in this house)

And I must admit... I loved it too.

And with Christmas this year comes the promise that our 8 month project of building and 13 month project of selling and moving is coming to an end.
We are in the last quarter... That's what I keep telling my kids.
It's like the last 4 minutes.  Hang on just a little longer.

They have helped so much over break. We filled nail holes and ran caulk around all the windows doors and base board one day. It was a long day and they did so well.

Jason has been working a ton on the house. He is AMAZING!!!!!

I keep dreaming of the day I can swing that door open and invite people in to sit. And eat. And do whatever we want to do without thinking of work.

We plan to move the middle of January. 

Before I go I want to tell you about this guy. He's my Favorite dad. He has blessed us by coming over practically every day for the past months. He just shows up, picks up whatever needs to be done and gets it done. He's always been that kind of dad. A worker. A steady plodder. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the tremendous gift he has been for many more reasons  other than just these past months. I could ask for no greater gift this Christmas! Thank you dad!

As I write tonight my feelings can be summed up in this...
Truly I can say, My cup runneth over.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Favorite night of the year

So do you sense a theme in my past few posts?
You're so smart!

Yes that's right, "these are a few of my favorite things".

Before I start I wanted to ...Thank you, thank you for all your sweet messages over the past few weeks. Your phone calls, face to face conversations, emails and comments and  inbox's through Face Book have been so encouraging. Sometimes I wonder why I am compelled to write something and than one of you happens to tell me how something touched your soul and I seriously am humbled that God uses my weakness and glorifies himself in it. I am thankful he uses each of us to serve each other in many ways. You have been the gift of encouragement to me!

This morning I want to blog about one of my very favorite night's of the year.

This year I wasn't sure how it would all work out. Christmas is tricky when you're trying to build and move into a house. Many of you ask if we are about ready to move in. Yes we are. The end is in sight. In fact Jason is setting the Kitchen today! It's a beautiful day!!!!

I always like to have a pajama, polar express ride sometime in December. We surprise the kids with where we go and which night it will be. It's gotten a little harder as they have gotten older.
Back in the beginning we punched little pretend tickets, drove to town, got donuts and looked at lights. But each year we switch it up.

This year we gave them the PJ's (which now only consist of bottoms because no one seems to wear their shirts, and  they are a little past footie pajama's.) So on their beds we lay a wrapped gift. They open it up pretending to be surprised.
 And then we load up.

 I decided to make it about good grades.
We have some good students so we often get little free pizza coupons... which we always forget to use. By now, we have accumulated quite a stack so we used those for free pizza tonight.

Next we loaded up and headed 30 miles away.

A small journey. But we used the time to sing Christmas Carols.

We ended up at this place. 
Where the sign was on. HOT NOW! Oh my! Free donuts! They call them doughnut samples which confuses me... Usually one is a serving for me. But when they call it a sample it feels like I should have 3 or 4 more. 

We watched the donuts get glazed and boxed. The boxer was trying to keep up with the hot donuts that were making their way down the conveyor belt, which reminded me of the Lucy and Ethel episode where they are trying to keep up with boxing  the Chocolates! :0 I laughed reminding the kids how they stuffed those little chocolates everywhere to keep up so when their supervisor came in and saw they were keeping up she sped the machine up.

For our donuts this year we got almost 2 dozen free donuts. It pays to have good grades.

Did you know you can take your kids report cards in and they will give a free donut per A  up to 6, on a  report card?  Isn't that awesome? So between the free samples and boxes of donuts we walked out of there with 30 free donuts. Gracious!

After purchasing some coffee we headed over to see the lights. Which the kids actually were looking forward to!

And then we headed home to watch the polar express. Snuggling in with new jammies and soft blankets was the highlight for me. I don't think many of us made it through to the end of the movie, but mostly it was just being together. Laughing, telling riddles, singing songs, and talking of Christmas past.

It certainly is one of my Favorite Night's of the year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My favorite uncle

We call them disabled.
Or handicapped.
Downs syndrome.
Intellectually  handicapped.
Maybe you have found yourself in situations that have made you uncomfortable or anxious  around a person who is different than you are.
I know I have.

But today I want to talk about someone who has had a tremendous impact on my life.
He has taught me so much.
He processes differently than I do.. but I'm glad.
He's my uncle.

His name is Dale and he was born with Down's Syndrome.
My Grandma was in her 40's when she gave birth to him.
Whatever we may say about the past being so much better than today. In light of how the world handled anyone who had any disability or mind disorder I would say...
 "We've come a long way baby!
In the 50's and 60's a Down's baby was still thought to be a burden  to society. Because of heart conditions and lack of care babies were often given a life expectancy of about 20 years.

When Dale was a boy his father died, leaving my grandma to raise him all by herself. This caused a lot of anger in Dale. My dad was often his disciplinarian. Dale was  16 when I was born. And he usually just scared me. I thought of him as an adult but he really was just a child in his mind. I had trouble understanding his outbursts and when I would stay with my grandma overnight he would get jealous and yell for me to "go home".  A bit Unnerving to hear in bed at 11pm, especially at the tender age of 4.
As I got older I learned to appreciate him more. I never remember feeling embarrassed by him. Even when people would stare. I just usually wanted to tell them to mind their own business or something like that.  We were all very grateful that he was hard to understand for those who don't talk with him very often, because he loved to "share" in sharing time at church. His ramblings would often include our names and we would cringe hoping he hadn't overheard something that should not be said in a microphone.

When my Grandma died 15 years ago Dale went to live with my parents. Who have faithfully cared for him ever since. He has become such a dear part of our family I don't even like to think about the tremendous loss it will be when we have to say goodbye.

I have learned so much from my uncle.  He is one of the friendliest, non judgmental,open-hearted, hysterically funny, and generally good natured persons I know.
One of Jalen's teachers recently told me that when she walks into a school basketball game she can always count on Dale to wave and make her feel so important." He's so happy to see me". She said. So I started doing the same thing to her when she comes around. Who doesn't want a greeting like that?! The last time she came in Dale told her to "Sit here". And pointed to the spot beside him. I love that.
This fall I was in a Diner with him. It was one of those mom and pop places where the tables are close and everybody knows your name..... Some new faces walked in and my Uncle was the first to jump up and go greet them at their table. Which clearly made them a little uncomfortable but I was touched. He didn't care, he just stuck out his hand and introduced himself, me and my mom all in 3 seconds. He then told them that his mom had died and Betty(my mom) was his sister.
Another moving moment for me happened this past month. He had come to Micah's basketball game. At the end we had him pose with Micah. Since we had won the game  We told him to hold up one finger for #1 but instead he said "No 2 fingers...Peace!" Which was just so sweet and lacking in the competitive spirit we with the average amount of chromosome's  get caught in.

I love his sense of humor and trickery. His hugs and sweet words of love for many are inspirational.
Opening gifts takes him a long time because he enjoys the moment, the spotlight, the suspense. HE always reminds us of his birthday coming up. Even on our own day's he makes sure we know he has one too. :) So on his birthday one year we sang for him over and over all day long. He would be back in his room doing his favorite thing... Cutting out pictures. And as soon as heard us sing the song he would appear with a great big smile and thumbs in the air. Sometimes taking a bow afterward and thanking us. It's a precious memory.

I am so grateful my grandma gave birth to this "disabled" baby. He has been a tremendous gift to this family!
When I hear someone talk about their family member who has special needs I hear it in a different way. I recognize the specialness of the human they are referring to. I also know that there can be some tremendous pressures and extra care that comes along with caring for people who can't care for themselves.
 But mostly I think of the person as a unique opportunity to see past oneself into a world where normal is overrated and  the ultimate belief that this soul is  made as much in the image of God as you or I are.

 My hope is that all people will one day be able to see the tremendous gift that life is.

No matter if the person behind the eyes has difficulty understanding things that may seem simple to us, or their body doesn't function in the way that others do, or perhaps they were given only a few years to leave their foot print here on earth.
All life is Sacred.
All humans have value.

In the words of Tiny Tim. The Handicapped son of Bob Cratchit, In Charles Dickens famous book, A Christmas Carol, 
"God bless us EVERYONE".

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My favorite Guest Blogger

Today I am introducing you to the young lady I have the opportunity to raise.

I can't tell you what a privilege it has been to call her my own. I know we are all proud of our kids and happy to see them succeed so if you would could you humor me today and let me show her off?

Malaina is 17 and is starting to seriously look at colleges and careers. One of the things Malaina was born with was a pen in her hand. She loves to write. Story after story she has written throughout her childhood. When she was 13 she wrote a little play scripted for her cousins to act out at a Summer Camp. I am sad I can't find it. :(

In the wake of last weeks tragedies she wrote her feelings about the shooting and the Innocence of Life lost. I asked her if she would want to share it on here.
She said yes.

So here she is.

Memorial of Twenty-Eight

     The black type-simple enough-carries great power against the white page. It cuts into the heart of every American. It brings tears and frustration, anger and hopelessness. The United States of America bands into one group ready to fight.
    But who are we fighting?
     Millions of comments have been posted on twitter and facebook, millions of angry conversations have taken place. But how could we have known about the impending evil? What person could have stopped the twenty-eight fatal bullets? And what can we do now? People are donating, sending letters, trying to change laws. But none of us can rewrite the past. We cannot spark those victims with the life that they had twelve hours ago. We cannot stop the coward who snuffed out these vibrant lives.
     The death of children. It could’ve been your sister, your nephew, your grandchild. That child laying in his own blood could’ve been the little boy you babysit or the seven year-old girl next door who is always on the trampoline, perfecting her flip. When someone asked them what they wanted to be when they grew up, they had the confident answers that children do, untainted by the fears and doubts of tomorrow.
     Their eyes shown as they chattered on about becoming astronauts, firemen. She wanted to make clothes, and told you about every single drawing in her notebook. He wanted to test video games-because ‘That would be the funnest job in the world, right?’ The boy and the girl who grew up next to each other would never get married, never start a family of their own. None of them had the chance to make their own decisions, go to college, become successful and fulfilled. They never got to play a game of basketball, never again watched their big brother’s choir concert.
    A million little moments were stolen from these precious children, and all we could do was sit back and watch.  The terrified children of the school were sobbing, whispering “I just want Christmas...I just want Christmas.”
    In memorial to the children who were executed in a place of safety, and to the adults who sacrificed their own lives to protect them, let us be changed. Let what happened hurt you and make you angry. This is personal. America must stand up together, ready to help, ready to make more little moments possible for the children who are left.

    And to those little children who are running into the arms of Jesus right now, let me say that you will be missed. The impact you would’ve had on the world is unknown. But your short lives were a gift, and I can’t wait to meet you some day. I want to shake your hand and apologize for the world that you found yourself in those moments before you were so brutally murdered.
              May you forever rest in Peace, Joy, and Love.

Just one other note... She held her first piano recital in our living room this week.
8 of her 9 students performed. It has been so neat to see her start with her sister Sophia a year ago and grow her business. She loves her students and talks positive about each one. I love to hear her interact with them and patiently show them how to play.

So here is her first little group of Piano Players.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Evil Wins

Undoubtedly 12/14/12 will be a day none of us will forget for a very long time.
We don't have to know anyone in Connecticut to feel the sting of the cruel acts of horror that was thrust upon the innocent. Babies and the teachers who care for them.

When I first heard the news I was at work. My coworker was looking at her phone reporting what was streaming in. As I checked my own computer I saw faces of sweet children and distraught parents and friends. My thoughts went to my own connections at school. I have been in my children's classrooms and schools many times over the past 13 years or so. Those faces flooded my mind. Faces of my children and their little friends running up to hug my legs. So happy to see me. Playing on the playground or calling me over to look at what they had drawn.
My eyes filled with hot liquid as I breathed a prayer for the souls left to mourn the precious ones who were snatched from them in such a horrific fashion.

 My heart breaks as I hug my own precious ones thanking God for another day with my own while grieving over children I never knew.

Later that day I had a discussion with several of my children individually over the events. I knew my 13 year old would have heard about it in his current events class that morning. I asked him for his thoughts. Without hesitation he asked... "Why does it feel like evil is winning?"

And I concur.

It does feel like that most days in this world of sin and corruption and violence and catastrophic events. I don't think I have ever seen days that were so unsure and scary. I have never felt so compelled to pray for the rapture. Or to wonder why I'm planning for any future because it appears to be so uncertain.

I read. Sometimes. When I'm not building a house. And when I read historical events I realize that scary and evil actions, and bad governments and crime, and families that were messed up, have been around since, well, the beginning. Like when Cain became jealous of his goody- two shoes brother who always did what God asked him to do. He hated that brother of his with a horrible kind of wrath, so he killed him.
Killed. Him. Dead.
This was before evil influences such as bad movies and violent video games. (Not that I think either of these are helping our country in any way) My point is simply, he didn't need anyone to give him the idea... Hatred  already existed  in his heart. And he wanted his brother out of the picture.

And evil appeared to win.

Maybe we could look at David's family and see the dysfunction there. Many people today would have pointed fingers at David judging the permissive, inattentive methods he used as he raised his children. The rape, and incest, and murder that occurred on his watch as father and king was Ugly.

And evil looked like it was ahead.

How about we move to Christmas. The baby Jesus born in a manger. The king in power was scared out of his ever livin' skin that this little baby would take his throne. So He killed ALL the babies 2 and under.
Evil at it's darkest.

But Jesus was protected by those who cared for him including his angle.  He was moved to Egypt and later when it was safe returned to Nazareth where he grew to be a man. He was flawless, without sin, having no blemish. He, the perfect Man, walked with his created and loved them and healed them, drove demons out of them, gave them instructions on how to live life here on earth. But the evil that surrounded him by his enemy who used  man's hands and blackened hearts was his demise.

The hands that healed many were nailed to a tree. The blood that poured from him ran down in a messy and horrific way. The crime scene was so gruesome he was unrecognizable.

He gave his life for his world. But to the naked eye Jesus had just been murdered for no reason.
And it looked like the evil one had won for sure.
From all appearance He had killed creations crowned jewel.

But evil never ultimately wins.
Because God always has the  last word. And no evil can be found in Him.

3 days passed and I'm sure those who loved him thought that surely this time evil had triumphed. But as he promised Jesus tore open the doors of death and rose from that prison cell.

And so, I think my son, the answer to your question is found here.
It is simple.
There are 2 kingdoms.
Good and Evil. Everything you do, read, watch, play, hear, speak, and meditate on is coming from one kingdom or the other. Is everything a moral issue? No. But all morality is rooted from one kingdom or the other. And if you are careful you can be wise in discerning this. Do we always get this right? No. But hopefully we get it right more as we grow in our understanding and follow that star wise men still search for.

And just as in any game where the opponent pulls ahead and looks to have schooled you...
This game is not over.
And we are not defeated. 

There is coming a day when this game will end. All we see will be no more. And I want to be on the side of good. I want you to be with me. Because good is the final winner.

If you are looking for hope this Christmas I have some good news.
Evil loses in the end.

And  That Christmas Miracle?

He wins. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

In Everything Give Thanks...

I'm using one post to catch up on a month's worth of pictures.

What a fall!

It has crept up on me so fast this year!
When I heard there was a holiday coming up I almost got my Red White and Blue table cloth out thinking it must be about July, but no, it is not July but November. So I exchanged the fireworks for giving my ferns permission to die. After all brown is in this time of year.

We've had happy and sad.
This was one of the happy's.
Benji came home after too many months down at Riley! We are so so happy he can be here for Thanksgiving and Christmas!!
Another happy.
In October for our kids party at church we had trunk or treat. Although it was too cold and rainy to actually do it from our trunks it was still so much fun.
We did it in the lobby which was warm and dry and perfect.
I decided to make a photo booth. It was so much fun taking pictures.

 I just thought these boys were so very cute~!
 And then there was this guy.... :)

These are normally the days I relish. I like to make lots of good memories for my kids. But this year I'm afraid the only memory will be that of packing boxes and frantically trying to paint an entire house. We hope to be in the dwelling the first of January.
 It's a hope. Not a promise.

But the drywall is up.
The mudding is being done.
Can I get an Amen!!
The well is dug and gas is to be hooked up tomorrow.

But it kind of wrecks the fantasy of a home filled with Christmas ornaments, manger scenes, Christmas cookies and greens. It's going to be different. I asked the little one if she would mind waiting until January so we could  celebrate properly.

She said it wasn't an option.

* Sigh*.
This guy turned 45. We celebrated with our little family around dinner and a black forest cake, as requested by my chocolate loving guy.

He has just been such an incredible gift to my life. I feel so fortunate to have him leading us. He has worked day and night trying to accomplish such a huge task!

This month, as you can tell by my last few posts has been a little heavy.
I have friends and family that are just really hurting and as I listen and cry with them and over their situations, I am reminded that there is so much to be thankful for.  I pour it all out to the one who can change the situation, or change us in the process.

So today I am posting this small clip on Thanksgiving.
It's a time to reflect how we can give thanks in the joy and in the pain.
In Everything Give Thanks! (You will have to turn off my music on the sidebar)

You give and take away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dear God...

Dear God,

 Tonight I am coming before you with a heart that feels like it may not be able to take another painful reminder that we live in a world of hurt. Sin has caused so much turmoil.

 I know I pray often to have a heart that breaks for the things that breaks yours but I am not sure how much more heartbreak I can take. I don't even know how to pray any longer and so I've taken to just praying your Word. I'm asking for grace over people who need your touch. Healing and restoration of bodies and relationships. A little Joy in the middle of darkness.

 I can't understand your plan. I don't have a clue what you are up to.
 I just believe that in this process something good will take place if I choose to praise you.

 I look at some of these things that are happening and want to remind you that it doesn't look fair.
 I know that you understand that because you walked here, and that wasn't very fair either. The Son of God who was praised as the centerpiece of creation, walked on dusty streets and had no place to lay his head. You know what it's like to be us. And that gives me reassurance that I'm not just doing this without you.

I remember the story of your friend who was very sick. His sisters, who you were also so close to, begged you to come save their brother. But you waited and did not leave right away. Upon your arrival you were accused of not working in the correct time because their brother had already died. You cried as you looked sin and death in the face and felt the sting of the loss and the intense pain that sin had brought onto your earth. And then you spoke exactly when you knew it was the ordained time and you called out to your friend to come forth from that grave. And he did.
He did!!
He came forth. And many people celebrated you.

 But there were those who hated you more.
 Sometimes it helps me just to remember that.
How you were hated for doing the right thing. Even what I would consider an exceptionally glorious miracle.

 Sometimes I remind myself of how you just loved people in spite of their skepticism and anger toward you. And I really like to think about the way you hated death and sickness just as much as I do and how you cried with your friends over it.
 I like to read about how you stood over your city and prayed for the peace of Jerusalem. And spoke of your love for her. I still pray today Lord for that peace over your city.

 If we've ever needed you Lord it's now.
 I ask for your face to shine on us and bring us peace. I don't mean you have to make it all go away. But I do ask for peace. 
Peace to crowd out the doubts that threaten to overwhelm.
 Peace to bathe in as we rest knowing you are in control.
 Peace to live in the middle of all circumstances we face.

And now, I will be still, and know you are God.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Did God lose the election?

Well, it's all over.
 The people spoke and the winner is... President Obama.

 The day after the election found many people who had prayed and fasted for weeks and months or even longer completely devastated and shaken to the core. One of my Godly older friends who I respect so much, a man who is full of love for people and is filled with the Holy Spirit, had been praying consistently for several years for this election. So you can imagine and probably experienced  yourself as you have felt or witnessed people with strong feelings on either side that there was both great disappointment and great elation in the outcome.

On Wednesday Face Book was crowded with many tearful, wistful posts. I spoke with some people who felt  let down. Some abandoned by God. Others fearful for the future. Many astonished at the division. Some tears and frustration were expressed by the defeated.

 How could God have lost the election? (please know that I am saying this tongue in cheek)

 So many had prayed. So many had strong faith believing it was going to be a different outcome. Believing with great confidence that God was behind them in praying for the new guy's arrival to the White House.
He was so presidential and promising.
And yet, God did not move that way.

From my little finite perspective..............Here are some of my thoughts as to why the election may have turned out the way it did.

1. It made me fall to my knees.  I worshiped and cried out to God in a way I may not have done if things had turned out differently. Adversity has a way of making me crawl to the foot of the cross and beg for mercy. Victory and Good times, while they make me feel good, also sometimes allow me to forget I need a Savior.

 2. America is not my home. When life is good here, who needs a better place? But with a failing economy, moral decline and tons of skepticism I don't feel like this is a comfy home for me. I'm ready to move on up and out. It's where my heart should always be but with things looking less than promising it makes me excited about my future in a heavenly kingdom.

 3. We will reap what we sow. And even if we think we have been faithful,are following the Word of God and walking in obedience, just as Daniel and his friends, I may be taken into physical captivity along with my people if my country continues  to call good what God has called evil. And Evil what God calls good.

 4. God will not share his glory with another. When the children of Israel cried out to God to give them a king, he told them he was the King but they wanted to be like their neighboring countries. So God, the perfect king, let them have what they wanted... but we all know how that turned out. So too, I think when we put too much confidence in a man, we can easily lose sight of who the real redeemer and king is. We make an idol out of a man. "We bow our hearts, we bend our knees, O Lord we cast down our idols"....

 5. I cannot know the mind of God. His ways are higher than mine. His thoughts are higher than mine. I can only know his heart.I have No earthly idea what God has up his sleeve.

6. We are all a bit blind. I mean that with complete respect and love. We are. We cannot see the whole picture. I have no idea what Governor Romney would have done in office if he would have gotten the job I only could see and trust what he said he was going to do. God knows the beginning from the end. He has a plan.

 7. Me and my children may know persecution. Right now you may be scratching your head. I know, I know, none of us wants this for our children. But God has been showing me something. I have been praying that my children be strong. I have told them for many years that we are preparing them...including scripture memorization..And sound doctrine.. for a time when they will have to stand like they never thought possible. Our kids need us as parents to step up to the plate and quit filling their schedules so full of other things that take them away from what will help them stand in the face of a persecuted church. And believe me, that day is fast approaching. The assault that is happening on souls everywhere is astonishing. It's scary but this is the exciting part.. The church in hiding is the most alive, vibrant, Spirit filled, loving church of Jesus.   I want to look like that church.

8. The more the country divides itself from the Church the more the Church must decide if it will look like the world or will follow Christ. The issues we are dealing with are making people choose a side. I believe there are many believers who support a different political view.
However, when it comes to the truth of God's word and what it says, there are not 2 sides. There is one. His Word is the standard. I will not apologize for what He has said. II Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.(E) Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.(F) 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 

9. Character counts.I think God cares about us intimately. But our circumstances are never as important to him as our responses. We work very hard at helping our children understand how to be good losers and gracious winners. I hope we can be this way as adults as well.

10. We reap what we sow.
I know. I know. I said it already... I'm jus' sayin. It's an important one.

Can I also just add that I don't believe that a man can change the morality of this nation. Sin would have continued to happen no matter who sits in the oval office. The only thing that can change the world Is a man that came a long time ago. The world rejected him then, and still does today. However, he is the only one that changes lives.

Finally, I understand there were many people praying that President Obama would retain the office of president as well. And perhaps you are reading this and are one of those people. I do know that if you follow Jesus and the teachings of his Word then you and I, we are brothers or sisters.

 If you don't follow him I want you to know that there is no one who will love you more or has loved you more than he does. I want you to know him because he has rocked my world and made me a different person. He gives me hope when I can't find any on my own. He whispers love to me when others have rejected me. He is my rescue. He forgives me when I really mess it up bad.
 He promised me that one day he will come again and take me to a kingdom where there will be peace and laughter, and the place  he's taking me will never, ever have one sad day in it.

Life here has gotten pretty complicated but he is going to change all that when he comes to get us.
I want you to be there with me.
Please email me if you want to know more directly how to find his peace in your heart.
I would love to tell you about what a change he made in mine and how he wants to do the same in yours!

I am very thankful tonight that God of  Heaven and  Earth can never lose an election. No one decides if he is in or out. He is the Judge. The Ruler. The Creator of all. He came to earth not to sit on an earthly throne but to reign on an eternal one.
He is the same yesterday, today and forever... To him be the power, glory and honor forever. Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why should I fear man?

I am a pleaser. I don't know why he impresses on me the need to share it except maybe I will speak to someone else who struggles with this. Maybe he wants to set you free as well.Perhaps it's for my children to read about one day. Or Maybe it's part of walking humbly with my God.

I remember repenting of it as a young girl. And as a teen. And in college I went forward to ask God to take it away. But it rages against me. It beats me up and laughs at me calling me coward and weak.
I think I have it conquered. That it's dead and gone. And then boom I see it once again. 

I am so thankful for a merciful God who sees my weakness and loves me any way. 
A Father who knows how I am formed and is still working on shaping me.
He strips me of it through adversity.
And I am free.
Then somehow I find I pick it up and carry it again.. 

The battle rages on. And I will fight. I cannot stop the fight.
I wish I could write that I used to struggle with this and I no longer do.
That I could give you a 10 step program on what to do to find a cure.
But this is all I got.
The testimony of a girl who with tear stained cheeks tells you the behind the smile look at life.

 I am a pleaser. A man pleaser. And honestly that may sound so nice. Who doesn't want a pleaser around? But really it's ugly. And self driven. 
Pleasers want to be liked. And so we please. We accomidate. We say yes when we should say no. We worry that our friends will one day walk away if we don't say the right thing or give the right gift or spend enough time or help them when they need it. We worry that we will be bad mom's if we don't do for our kids. Or bad wives if we aren't the virtuous women we think we ought to be.We worry that people will find us offensive or that we will let them down..and we eventually do because sometimes we just fail. And when we do fail we beat ourselves up because we should have been better pleasers. It's a vicious cycle and exhausting. And when we get on the crazy train it's hard to get off.
Sometimes pleasers think we have overcome because we don't care anymore what "they" think. Only to find that we have found a new group to please. We carry a lot of "should's and should not's" on our shoulders.

Jesus was pretty clear of his thoughts of man pleasers... One of the characteristics of the Pharisee's was that they loved praise from men more than praise from God.(John 12:43) 

I was recently reading a book by Brother Yun. 
Brother Yun is a preacher and Evangelist from China. He had this to say about praise of man.
"I faced a new kind of problem after moving to the West.While I was in prison in China, I found it easy to praise the Lord because everyone hated me except Jesus. After  I started traveling and speaking around the world, however, I found there were many brothers and sisters who clapped and cheered everywhere I spoke, and they always said nice things to me. This was a new kind of temptation - the praise of men. It is a dangerous minefield that every preacher(or person) must walk very carefully through, making sure he gives all glory to God and doesn't take any of it into his own heart. To do so brings bondage and a spiritual imprisonment  I have found that the secret to unlocking this freedom in Christ is to praise God wholeheartedly for God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24. Whether we are being persecuted and tortured or receiving the adulation of men, the solution is the same-praise and worship of our heavenly Father."

And so I am.
 I am praising God and giving him glory for what he has done in my life. 
He is the one from whom I long to gain approval.
He is much easier to please. He doesn't have a long list of expectations I have to perform to be acceptable.
 I'm not "in" with him  one day, until I fail or until he gets done with me then I'm "out". He always loves me. 
And in the end he is the one I will stand before and give an account to for what I have done with what he has given me. 
I am his. And  often I risk looking like a fool but it's okay because I want to fear God alone.   

As I seek him I am learning to quiet myself before him listening to his voice instead of the voices around me. That's when I can hear what he wants from me.  In spite of what else may be calling my name. I want him more.

I often blog heartfelt things.
This is not out of my wanting to please man.... because actually I'm not really sure it does...but my need to be obedient to him.

This is one of those times.
I choose him.
And it feels really good.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The strong arm of the Lord

It still gives me a chill every time I think of it. I take you back to last Thursday.

 My life is a lot of juggling these days. It is normally a bit busy this time of year...but this year it's just nuts. God gave me a gift when he gave me an extra driver. Although it did take some time to get used to the whole idea. And I still block out all the what if's and maybes when I can. But it really has come as a blessing because Jason is mostly working at the house in the evenings and that leaves me with 4 kids schedules and my own.

 I'm not sure why I told you that except I think mainly I just want your sympathy.So I'll move on.

 So life is full and my sweet 17 year old has stepped right up to the plate helping me make deliveries and run to piano or whatever else I may need. I had two places to be at once so she said very cheerfully that she would be happy to take Jalen, our 15 year old to his 3rd eye appointment...another story. While I went to Micah's, our 7th graders basketball game.

 Everything went fine. Got to the appointment. Game was finished. She arrived safely home.

 She was getting ready to leave again so she said "goodbye, love ya" and ran out the door. She was headed to a Starlights party. I heard her come running back in the house..."Mom my car won't back up any further". I told her she could just take my van I was going to be staying in tonight anyway.
So she went back out to leave but came in again. "Mom the car's in the way. I can't move it.", She said.
So I headed out to see if I could move it. I got in, she stood over on the passenger side.I put it in reverse and nothing happened. All of a sudden she started waving frantically and yelled "stop. Don't move!"

 I got out and came around to find this.

Yes it's off. The rod had broken right there. 
I gasped. And then gathered myself enough to take her to her party. She did tell me that she had heard the grinding for a few days but had failed to mention it. oppsie daisy. I may have been that girl once myself. Jus'sayin there was a night 20 some years ago when my car started making noises and I thought maybe if I turned the radio up it would stop. Oh it stopped all right. Right after the motor blew. So  you won't find me pointing fingers on this one.

When I got home from taking that newly turned 17 year old of mine to her friends house I walked back over to the car and my knees started to feel weak as I realized what had happened and how this night could have changed our lives forever. I had been graciously given another night with my 2 precious children. Because God had chosen it to be so. 
As I came in the house I looked at this mess that normally makes me fume and thanked God for those shoes on my floor.
My life isn't perfect. It's got a lot of chaos in it. But I have all that matters most with me right now. 
I am not promised it will be this way tomorrow. 
But today I will give Thanks for the strong arm of the Lord who chose to save.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Restraint.. The lost Virtue

In the past 20 years or so... which is basically my adult life. I have seen a shift in culture in so many ways.
And unfortunately it's not always so positive.

One of the American slogans is Freedom of Speech.
Which I am thankful for, but I have seen a troubling trend..

This whole freedom to be who we really are is one that has me thinking.
What Does it mean to be free?
If it feels good do it.
If it makes you happy well by all means go ahead.
If you feel okay with it then it's fine.

We have taken liberty to live as we please, speak as we feel, act as we like because we  have decided refraining would be pretending. As though the greatest virtue one could have is freedom. We speak it in the name of being "real". Or we act out on it because we reason if we thought it we may as well do it. Same/same.

 But my fear is that in the process we have not really progressed so much but only come back to the core of who we are in our sin nature. 
Our own self. 
And the self gratification of the flesh that we were all born with. 
Instead of fighting off the person that rises up within us and wants to speak or act in ways that are completely contrary to life in the Spirit,
Instead of putting it to death, we celebrate it.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit,(Z) and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.(AA) 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.(AB) They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.(AC)Galatians 5

Rude has become applauded.
We cheer when others put people in their place.
We exalt those who can slash someone with their tongue.
Or perhaps we justify our own actions by naming it "spewing Or Venting". This can be done to a person or about the person. Or maybe indirectly through social media.
We have taken private thoughts and actions that should be re-examined and perhaps confessed and instead unashamedly made them public with no intention of confession.
And I ask...
What ever happened to restraint?




 [ri-streynt]  Show IPA

a restraining  action or influence: freedom from restraint.
Sometimes, restraints. a means of or device for restraining, as a harness for the body.
the act of restraining holding back, controlling, or checking.
the state or fact of being restrained deprivation of liberty;confinement.
constraint or reserve in feelings, behavior, etc.

Once upon a time we recognized Restraint drawing back from, not participating in; a virtue that we saw as a courageous act. A person who had integrity refrained from speaking his mind on all matters all the time. With a regard for others. Walking away when we still had a couple things left to say.

I long to live in a culture where we once again understand that everything that pops in our head does not need to come out of our mouth. 
I desire to grow in this personally.
And even if it means that sometimes we restrain a feeling or judgement we have about another for the sake of the whole. 

Doesn't true freedom come when we live lives that are filled with the Spirit?
And doesn't the fruit of the Spirit include Self control?
Self Control = Restraint.

We, the kids and I, are ready to start on James 3... Taming the tongue. And I am praying that God takes this passage and burns it on my heart and mind and that my tongue (or sometimes my fingers) will always act accordingly.
The test always comes for me when I feel mistreated. 
Or Rejected.

In the long run the most freeing thing I can do to counteract and restrain the old man that rises up in me is to intentionally do exactly opposite of what I feel like doing. 
Putting to death that flesh.
Venting feels good for a little but in the long run it always makes me feel lousy. Which isn't freedom.
Death to my need to say what I'd like to say. Living for myself always feels good for the moment but is a very short sighted way to live. It hurts far too many to call it freedom.
Recognizing that the choices I make today however small they may feel to me will never only affect me but will always be further reaching then I can see.

So I ask.. What is true freedom?
I would present an old fashioned word 
Restraint. In all things.. Restraint.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality,(AF) impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.(AG) I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.(AH)

 But the fruit(AI) of the Spirit is love,(AJ) joy, peace,(AK) patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.(AL) Against such things there is no law.(AM) 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature(AN) with its passions and desires.(AO) 25 Since we live by the Spirit,(AP) let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited,(AQ) provoking and envying each other.
Galatians 5

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pretzel bites and Panara Broccoli Cheese Soup

I Love,love this time of year.
This is my view from my kitchen. Where I often find myself.
It's my favorite time of the year to cook.
Especially soup.
 I wasn't always such a big soup maker but over the past decade I have found it to be my comfort food of choice. My family has mixed reviews about the soup obsession. The older ones have grown accustomed to it but when the first cool day of fall hit and I had some cheddar chowder on the menu the little one announced... "I can tell fall and winter have arrived. Soup for the next 6 months! Oh boy!"

 This week I think for dinner  I may have hit it out of the park... well at least to the fence. :)

 I found this recipe for ham and cheese pretzel bites on pinterest. Which I knew would be a dinner success. But the recipe was far too complicated for my schedule right now. So I converted it to my basic pretzel dough recipe(you can click on the link here) and added ham, mozzarella and bacon in the middle.

After the dough had raised for 1/2 an hour I separated it into 4 balls and rolled them out into long rectangles. I added the ham,cheese and bacon down the middle.
Rolled up the dough tightly laying it on baking sheet and cut into equal slices.
Boil 1 cup of water with 1 tbsp soda. Brush over top of pretzel bites.
Bake in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.
Take out of oven and brush with butter and top with coarse salt.

So these were a no brainer success. Best part. They make great lunches as well. I will make these again very Soon.

The soup portion of the meal was also eaten with no complaints.
I made the copy cat version of Panara Bread Broccoli soup.

I do suggest blending the soup. Especially with kids. It makes the texture much more enjoyable for them.

And finally what says fall better than spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.
Actually these were carrot but they all pretty much taste the same to me.

Tonight I made some Pioneer Woman brownies. They are supposed to change my life. I haven't tasted them yet but I'll let you know if they do!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not Guilty As Charged

I must say this election has got people all up in each others grills.

I think the last election was almost as volatile but my memory kind of blocked out most of it.
And I believe that while it is a very important one there is a lot of false information in the media and even in the debates. Why else do we need  to go to places like "fact check" to see if what they are saying is accurate?

I've watched every debate. I don't mind sparing. But I hate lies. Please just tell the truth.

All these spins and drudging up who said this in private and who did that a decade ago got me thinking about another one that likes to accuse and bring up the past and spin it so it looks worse than we may have intended it to be. He likes to make us feel insecure and small and insignificant.
He takes past regrets and mistakes and throws them in our faces. Sometimes he uses others to accomplish that. Sometimes he just whispers it in our ears over and over and over....

If this was "fact check" I may have to concur with much of his accusations.
But For Grace.

If you and I have accepted the fact that one came once for all to take away the guilt of our sins we are no longer held hostage to the enemy's grip.

When we continue to listen to the accuser we indeed are losers. We lose on so many levels. He likes to keep us in the corner bound up as he stands center stage and hurls accusations our direction. He tells us we will never be free. He reminds us of yesterday. He laughs in our face.

And When we believe the accusations and allow him to continue his attack we are ignoring the very thing that Jesus came to do.
Save us From our Sins.
And his blood is all we need to tell the accuser...
"I am not guilty as you have charged".

One of the best ways I counteract this is through Bible Memory.
When the enemy comes with his pot shots, and I realize what's happening, I start repeating Bible verses.
Out Loud.
I ask him if he remembers the cross, and the blood and his future?
Which makes me look a little odd. But I don't care.
It drives him away. And makes the accuser's accusations get weaker and the truth of what really took place on the cross and the grace that I am freely given makes me pause in complete gratitude for my Jesus.

So when he comes, as he does and will, let's not let him corner us into believing his lies that we will have to live in the corner with the facts of our decade old sins. Or maybe it was last weeks sin. It doesn't matter. In fact the  longer we have lived the more chances we have to get it wrong  which gives him more ammunition against us.

But there is One who always tells the truth.He will be the judge on the final day.
He whispers... You are forgiven...I paid for that sin...You can go free.
And the verdict?
"Not guilty as Charged".

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Political Post... Read at your own risk

Everyone needs Compassion, The kindness of the Savior...
This song has been one of my favorites for a long time.
And tonight as I sang it my mind went for a ride.

I very rarely comment or post about politics.
For several reasons.
One being I am not very knowledgeable about all that goes on in the political arena.
Second, I like to get along, and this often makes people more irritated and at odds then any other subject so... I steer clear.
But there is another reason.

I am uncomfortable with something that I feel in the pit of my stomach. I can't always put my finger on it but tonight it just became this gnawing discomfort that drove me to my computer.
It's just that I hate cover ups.
I think they stink. I hate when institutions do it. I hate when individuals do it.
It just makes me feel lousy.
And tricked.
And lied too.
Or about.

So what? You ask.
What's your point?

Well, sometimes if I'm honest I think Christians are kind of in cover up mode.
Maybe unknowingly.
Perhaps very intentional.

It's just always easier to cry, "Foul and Unfair and Look over there at those people and how bad they are", rather than to take a good look inside and see that we, the ones who are most offended, are indeed guilty.

This is what I mean.
For years the Church of Jesus has been busy doing stuff. We are BUSY people.
And yet all that stuff hasn't brought about a more faithful bride but one that has been spotted and blemished and full of hypocrisy. One who would rather point out there than clean up in here.

Sinners Sin.
It's what they do. It's all they know.
 And they will continue sinning.

But we are supposed to have an answer for them.
The Church is supposed to be different.

I am uncomfortable with Christians decrying and rising up against same sex marriage and yet secretly filling their minds with immoral pictures, books,movies and entertainment. With statistics of divorce and adultery being no different for church goer's than their neighbors.

(Please don't misunderstand. We have all fallen short.  I am speaking of an unrepentant heart that continues to walk in willful sin.)

I am uncomfortable with Church people who are saying,"Take us back to the traditional values of our founding fathers with one Nation under God", when they themselves are unsure if the Bible is inspired or completely accurate. Where the red letters of the Bible have become the only sure words of Jesus.

I am uncomfortable with the lack of forgiveness and compassion expressed in the church. I don't mean toleration and overlooking  sin. I mean an "I love you but what your doing is sin and it's bringing about death in you." kind of compassion for people.

I am uncomfortable with all the gossip that has ruined relationships or our perceptions of each other. When we don't even know the truth but we have believed the gossip and made judgments on one another because of a poisonous, unbridled tongue.

I think if Christ's followers stuck to being the Church. The ones who were as intentional at learning how to walk in forgiveness and compassion and kind words for each other. People who cared as much  for the lost as we did our bank accounts, we would be a different America.

I'm just sayin'

Maybe it's not them.

What if ....It's us?

Sin has  been around a long time. And corruption. And cover ups. And the enemy.

Yes that enemy. The deceiver. He is the one we can be enraged with.
 He is behind this you know.
The one who is laughing as this world dies not knowing the one thing that could save them.

And we muddle around and wonder how we can fix this and how we can take it back.
And fear grips us and makes us worry that we won't have enough and that our children will have to pay for our foolish mistakes.
And I say, Yes they will.
But it will be far worse if they have to pay for our spiritual blindness than our financial loss.

It is the turn around of the Church that needs to happen.
 The falling on our knees in repentance as we see our own sin.
The brokenness of our hearts as we realize we have strayed away from our first love.
Once again following the first and greatest commandment to Love the Lord our God with all our hearts and love others as we love ourselves.

I want to be clear, I am a voting citizen. And I have no doubt who I will vote for.

But I will not be swayed into thinking this is the hope of my future. 
Because friends, Jesus is my only hope.
One day I will stand before him thanking him for his compassion. Falling on my face before the one who saved this rotten, stinky sinner and made me alive and whole and forgiven.

Yes indeed Everyone  needs compassion.
Everyone needs a Savior.
I hope I never forget that.