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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Ministry.. Who really benefits?

I love people.

But if you asked me to work any where with any one I choose it would be
The Very Old and the Very Young.
I love little children and Love the seasoned ones.

I remember as a child I would make up lists of names that I would use for my large family one day. They kept changing. And so did the number of children I was going to have.
Well when the children actually started coming and the reality of how much energy raising them actually took my mind begin to question if 12 was what I was called to... or even if 6 was such a wise number for me.

I have been leading the young ones in song.
They sing like it's nobody but them and God in the room.
At the top of their voices with expression that needs no encouragement.
They like to chat with me. They see me after church and  call to me "Hi Miss Rose".
I think they have so much potential. I pray for their generation that they will be more faithful to God then the previous generations.
I pray that they will know him and stand for him.
I am starting to teach them the same books of the Bible song I learned from one of those older saints in Bible School when I was only a sprout.

 When I was in middle school I began to write letters to the widow ladies at church. I remember feeling convicted over the James passage that tells me that the religion God our Father accepts is to look after widows and orphans. Which is still a convicting passage to me...So I decided to start a little "ministry" of my own.
They were the sweetest most non judgmental saints this young PK could have as prayer warriors and cheerleaders. I still can remember their sweet hugs, smiles and praise as I would greet them.
My grandmother was one of those ladies.
I thought she was the kindest, caring,most gentle lady.

And now, it is still so.
The older people are the ones who cheer lead.
As I move among them in a sea of silver heads and precious conversations I realize my time with them is probably short. And I grieve over the thought of losing any one of those much needed prayer warriors.
I love to watch the gentle way many of the men treat their wives.
I love the spunk they express as they bounce back from hip injuries and cold viruses.

Jason and I have a couple we love to be with. They are in their 80's. He has been a spiritual mentor to Jason. Cheering him forward. She is the embodiment of who I long to be in my 80's. A lover of Jesus and the lost. Warmth oozes from her as she speaks. They came to cheer me on when they heard I was going to be leading worship close by. In many ways the grandparents I no longer have.
We spent the evening with them recently. We talked over frothy Root beer floats as jazz music played softly floating from the next room. My heart was warmed as  I saw him look at her with the most loving eyes often calling her 'love' when he addressed her.We talked of many things. Concerns, the state of our country, the beauty of the Autumn trees, the greatness of our God. After a meaningful time of visiting it was time to make our departure. As we ended our time together Jason prayed blessing over them and their household. I couldn't help but peek. His wrinkled and worn hand lay over top of her tiny one. My eyes filled as I realized this was indeed a holy moment.

The two ends of life.
The beginning with hope of the future.
The end with wisdom of a life of experience.
I think both are to be treasured and learned from.

Ministry Needs no title.
We don't have to be pastors, or teachers, or worship leaders, or board members, deacons, or Church Secretaries.
Never forget that whoever, whatever, and wherever, you are, if you work at it for God's Kingdom.

It is important work.
And in the middle of it all the biggest surprise has been that even though I thought I was the one ministering I realized I have been the recipient of the ministry all along.
And in fact, perhaps have been more blessed  than I have blessed.

What a privilege to be a part of my Father's work.

What a tremendous gift he has lavished on us that we would be called his sons and daughters.
That although imperfect and flawed he loves us and has a plan for us.

You have been called to something.
And even if you are never publicly recognized God knows.

And when we step out in faith and do the thing we are called to do
WE are the ones who benefit.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sweet 16 a year late

Malaina turned 17 on September 29.
When she turned 16 I told her we would have a party... But we were in the middle of moving and life was pretty busy. So in character my ever understanding daughter said.. "Mom don't worry about it! 16 1/2 is what really matters. That's when I get my license." Well when August rolled around and no party had been planned I decided now this year I was going to do something big.
 So I texted her friend and let her do the inviting.
And I bought fitting party plates.
And made oodles of cupcakes.
And bought lots of candy.
Borrowed my friends popcorn machine.

Sophie had a friend over to play with.
I Made homemade hot chocolate.

 And told people to show up for a surprise party for Malaina.
I had a couple of friends show up for moral support.
Love you ladies!

Under the light of the moon we waited for the guest of honor to arrive.

While the bonfire blazed in the backyard.

And then we got the text from her friend...."we're on our way".

We waited in the cornfield and around the side of the shed.


And let me tell you she was. She had NO idea!

And may have been a little flustered. But look she was wearing a party dress like she was going to a party!!

 She had cousins and friends show up to hang out.
The birthday girl and wonderful dad! She still is a daddy's girl. Loving to sit next to him whenever she can!

Evan says.... "We did it"! Or maybe he was just being crazy.


Here's the lady who helped pull it off. Malaina's friend Carly.

 Friends are such a blessing and I am so thankful they came to make her feel special.
 Our family tradition has always been that we share something we like about the birthday person.
As we sat around the next night speaking of our favorites I begin to get this lump in my throat. The reality hit me with a thundering force.... My sweet girl is going to be 18 next year and our days of sitting around as a complete family on a birthday are numbered. I almost couldn't get my words of affirmation out as I swallowed hard and blinked harder. This girl has blessed our home in so many ways. I will not think about the hole she will leave when she skips off to college.
We have been evaluating where that may be and scheduling some visits soon.
It's just too quick for me.
I need more time.
But for today I am glad to have her close.
Her smile says all you need to know.
She is a delightful girl and I am honored to be her mom.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Not my Will

I like things that are neat. And orderly. And done right.
I am not obsessive about it.
I just like it. 
And if something is out of order I feel better if there is a reasonable explanation why said object or person is that way.
Cause and effect... you know what I mean right?
The reason can justify the out of orderliness of the situation.

I see cancer in my job weekly. 
And it's hard. 
Especially when there is no reasonable understanding to why someone healthy and young would be plagued with a horrible cancer that has been aggressively attacking their body since their last visit.
It's troubling and messes up my whole orderliness and fairness factor.

It's out of order that my 14 year old nephew has been in the hospital for months at a time. Struggling to breathe with lungs that are damaged. All we ask is  that he get to simply live a normal teenagers life.
But it isn't that way.
I don't like it.
I have a friend who has shared some difficult news that makes me so terribly sad. I have trouble understanding the fairness of it. I am asking God questions about why now. And finding myself fighting the urge to instruct him on how to proceed.

I have other friends who can't have children and the doctor's can't figure out why.
It's out of order.
I don't like it.

And yet it is the way of life.
None of us has a pass from it.
We are surrounded by  unfairness and lack of order.
Whether we like it or not. 
Whether it seems just or fair.

One of the most profound statements Jesus made to the Father in his last days on earth has become one of my most important in a long line of learning to be more like him.

When Jesus went into the garden the night before he gave up his life to be the offering of perfect love for every being that had ever and would ever be created he cried and spoke to his Father these words... Never the less, not my will but yours be done.

And that's the whisper I hear tonight.
It isn't about my likes or my sense of rightness. 
It's about his will. 
And my surrendering to it.
Even though the journey is painful. 
He knows.Because he has walked the same road. 
It's his will that needs to be accomplished here on earth not mine.

I believe with all of my heart that there will come a day when all order and Justice will be restored to the one whose kingdom has no end.
I believe that one day he will make all things right.
I believe that I can trust him to take care of all the concerns that press in on my heart. 
Yes, I believe, that when I surrender to his Will I will be closer to being more like Jesus.

Never the less.... Not my will but yours be done.