Monday, January 26, 2015

Words of Encouragment

Perhaps I'm overly sentimental because Liz has flown the coop to South San Francisco. Or, perhaps it's because I think watching Shoshi's athletic endeavors reminds me how beautifully God created her. Or, perhaps it was just one of those days. BUT, on Saturday, day three of a basketball tournament I suddenly found myself really wanting to travel to Indy in order to watch Shoshi and her team compete. 

However, I had no one to watch the dogs, it was too late to carpool, and the drive for just one hour of watching was so expensive. So, I stayed home. But, I was starting to have myself a little pity party. Things just weren't going as planned. Now, mind you, I was actually convicted that I SHOULD be home, and I SHOULD be saving money, and I SHOULD be catching up on work. BUT, that's not what I WANTED. I was grumpy. 

After dropping off Shoshi, and dropping a few tears in the car, I headed to Aldi's. HA! Not a place you expect God to speak to you, but hey. I had shopping to do, and money to save, and that was the plan. I strolled through the store, trying to remind myself to be thankful and that I was doing what was right. David called and told me to just go ahead and go up for the one game. But, as I thought of him sitting at his desk working hard on a Saturday in order to do a good job AND to provide for us it just seemed too selfish. So, I declined and continued on with shopping, 

As I left the store I glanced over at another woman and gave her a smile in return for the smile she flashed my way. Then I wandered out to the van to unload the groceries. I turned around when I heard "Excuse me," and saw the same woman from inside. I glanced around expecting that I had dropped something or perhaps she was speaking to someone else, but then she surprised me. 

She looked right at me and said, "You may find this odd, but I was praying while shopping and asking the Lord who I might pray with or pray for. As I spoke to my heavenly daddy you smiled at me and I knew you were the one. God wants me to tell you that he is pleased with you today. That you have a light around you and that your smile means a lot." That's right... God was pleased with me.

WHAT? Me the whiner and pity party person? But, sometimes, as we battle to be obedient and battle to get our emotions under control we forget that we can't be perfect, but that God recognizes what we are trying to do. He didn't have to have someone speak to me, or give me a "daddy hug" as she called it. But, He did. It helped me the rest of the day as I missed my girl, as I heard she had played more than usual, and as I heard she made 4 points. But, I did what I believed I was supposed to do, and God sent me some encouragement. 

I don't know who this woman was. Perhaps someone I'll see again. Perhaps a visitor to town. Perhaps an angel. Or, perhaps simply a person who listens to God and obeys. I just know that my day changed at that moment. And, actually, my life may have changed.

Encourage one another. 
Love God! 

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore [h]encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5: 8-11

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Life with a beard, life without fear ...

I know ... a woman with a beard? No, it's not about my beard ( I do NOT have a beard), but it is about my fear.

Here's the handsome man and his manly man beard ...

Honestly, this man grows amazing beards each year. But, in past years I was always "afraid" of what other people might think about us when he let his beard get full. I didn't stop to think, "Do I like it?" or "Does he like it?" or anything like that. Seriously, I just let fear of what others thought take over and I cringed because people might comment.

Well, this year has been vastly different. My husband is a manly man and he grew a manly man's beard. I embraced it, as I embrace him ... WHOLEHEARTEDLY!

You know what? A LOT of people DID comment on the beard. They LOVE it. And, I laughed at myself for my fear all these years. After all, what does it matter what other people think about his beard? It's HIS beard, HE likes it, I like it, and that's enough. Plus, in cold winter weather it keeps his cute face warm!

So, yes, this is an odd odd post, but there's a reason. Do you love your spouse? Do you support them wholeheartedly? Do they know this? Do others know this? He supported me and Liz and Shoshi when we got red streaks put in our hair for a fun memory. He supports me in my art/craft business. He believes in me as a teacher, mother, doula, friend, wife... I owe it to him to return the favor. He is an amazing amazing man who's stuck behind us through thick and thin!

I've been happier when I quit being afraid of others and instead focused on the love I had for my husband. Plus, it's not every man that can grow a beard this awesome. Just sayin'!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Saying Good Bye

I'm about to reach a new era in my life. Saying good bye to an adult child as we "send them" off into the world. It's an interesting time to be sure. And, I've often told my children that my job is to do myself out of a job... that is, to raise children who will move away and start their own lives/families/journeys. While I hope to be a "sideways" part of their life, I will not be directing. As if I ever really have. God's job, after all!

 Monday morning, December 29, Aaron starts his journey to HIS new home. Abilene, Texas. He's going to be working for an airline as a mechanic/inspector. It's part of a journey he started when he was just three... declaring someday he'd be a pilot... He is. And someday he'd go to Africa. He did. And he wanted to be a missionary aviator... in process.

 As if it's not hard enough to say good bye to one child, another is also flapping her way out of the nest soon, all the way to South San Francisco. She'll be a nanny, for 4-12 months, and we're so grateful it's for people we know and love! Truth be told, she's always sort of been part of their family, even down to an honorary family name... She loves this family and their children, and they love her. And, as their family grows from 4 to 5 blessed little children, she will be a blessing to them, I pray.

 But still. I wasn't ready for this one. And yet, as I tell my children, my students, the kids in children's church... God is always on time. He is never early. He is never late. And so, I can trust that THIS is the time for my kids to take these steps and make this journey. I've been calling my mom quite a bit as they prepare to leave. I know she's already been through this after all. Recently she sent me this very helpful quote ... I'd like to share it on the off chance that it blesses someone else as it blessed me ...
This is from a book I've read --- To See the Moon by Jamie Langston Turner. The following is attributed to Rev. Bill Smith in his book ESSAYS ON LIVING WELL, the chapter on Honor Thy Children. I have searched for this pastor and his book and haven't been able to find it. However, I appreciate the paragraph. Just food for thought. I wish I had a better handle on this when you were leaving the nest.

Letting your child go is the ultimate act of love, demanding of parents the kind of seasoned courage that acknowledges the presence of evil yet believes in the greater power of good. A parent who releases his child must first release himself from fretting over past failures, present fears, and future dangers. A parent who views his child as an extension of himself becomes greedy for perfect performances, seeing the child's success as his own. Letting go, then, starts with giving up of one's pride. As (sic) the end of a weary day, the parent must lay aside his efforts and schemes, rest his head on the pillow of faith in a wise and good God, and trust attending angels to guard his precious one through the uncertain night ahead in a place beyond his reach.
As I say good bye I'm glad for the many things we've done in our life as a family of six... we've laughed together and cried together. I did things I didn't think I was brave enough to try... parasailing, trying strange and unknown foods in China, finding new ways to grow our family. We made memories. I learned that kids were more important than stuff. We went to church together. We gave our kids freedom to find God.  Find a church. Find their way. We talked a lot ... I probably talked most. We sat in silence. We explored. We searched for beauty. We enjoyed wonder. We enjoyed the little things... a first fire of the season, the first violets each spring, flower buds, funny bugs.  We made time for each other. We argued. We made up. We learned about each other. It was not all rosy by any means, but it was OUR LIFE, and I'm so grateful. And, we took lots of pictures... But, I'll just share from our recent family photo shoot of the kids for their dad's gift ...

Love this one as it shows their true personalities... 

As does this one... 

And, here it is... just a peek of the next few years... the kids still love each other, they will remain family, but they will all, one day, walk away into their own lives... I'm so thankful God has allowed us to parent them this far. Next steps... being their friends... What a glorious gift!

Good bye Aaron, and soon Elisabeth... you have been a blessing here for the past 24+ and 18+  years... I pray that as you step away you take with you a love for God and a desire to continue to follow him. 
We love you!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Growing a life of gratitude

Last year around November 1 or 4, I haven't checked exact dates, I began a journey. This journey did not really have an end in sight. Rather, it was with the hopes that the journey itself would be worthwhile. 

A while back we had some changes happen in our life. While I knew I should trust God that He would work all of it out for good in my life, and for His glory, I found myself time and again doubting, feeling sad, hurt, and focused on myself. Then something happened. A pastor and some friends started talking about being thankful. I saw posts on Facebook and heard a great sermon. You can find it here.

What a journey it's been. I decided to post my thanks daily on Facebook. I figured this way if I missed a day someone would ask and that would keep me accountable. But, that first week it was hard. I had to, in the midst of my "me focus" think about things for which I was thankful. I was well aware of the things for which I was NOT thankful, the things I would change, but I really had to think hard each day to get one item up on my page. It was an item to cross off my list of things to do. Yep, in my own little OCD way, it had become a chore, rather than an overflowing of a grateful heart. (More on that later.)

Yet, somewhere along the way something changed. I noted that I didn't labor so hard over being grateful. Not only that, but I had a hard time keeping my lists short at times. God had started to give me a heart of flesh, rather than a heart of stone. Not only this, but other people began to notice. Now, mind you, that's not the focus of what I had been doing, but it did show me that something had happened. I could feel the change, but now I saw that it was a deep enough change that other people noticed as well. I am here to say that, sadly, I still had, and have, my moments of whining, and complaining, and being anything OTHER than grateful. However, more and more I was changing into a joyful grateful person who began to focus on things besides me, me, me. 

Originally the plan had been to do this perhaps for a month, maybe even a year. Yep, one of my "list" things. A measurable plan with a significant beginning and end. I realized as Nov. 1 rolled around this year that rather than end this journey I'd like to celebrate anniversaries of becoming a grateful child of the King. Mind you, I had become a child of the King many many years ago, but I'm not sure that I ever really purposed to work at changing, to ask God to help me to change. I want to live my life giving thanks, praising God, and sharing this truth with others... 

Luke 6:45

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

So, I'm looking forward to being the good man who has good treasure in my heart that will bring forth good fruit. 

And what about those life circumstances? Well, we continue to deal with chronic illnesses with family members, with questions and concerns about the future, with government furloughs and the rest. But, that's become background noise against which you will, Lord willing, hear my praises and thanks for recognizing the glory and goodness of God. I invite you to join me in recognizing the God of the universe... omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent... who has not left us behind, but is intimately involved in our lives. 


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Whom do I fear?

Over the past year I have worked through some hard feelings. In the end I was left with this... fear man or fear God. I wanted a life with NO fear, but as I read through passage after passage of scripture I realized that I have must have some fear. A healthy fear. A fear of God.

1.a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real orimagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. foreboding, apprehension,consternation, dismay, dread, terror, fright, panic, horror, trepidation, qualm. courage,security, calm, intrepidity.2.a specific instance of or propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights. phobia,aversion; bĂȘte noire, bogy, bogey, bugbear. liking, fondness, penchant, predilection.3.concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone's safety.4.reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God. awe, respect, reverence,veneration.5.something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of: Cancer is acommon fear.
  [feer]  Show IPA

Fear is something I've battled my whole life. Fear of bugs. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of being lost. Fear of being LOST. In the end, fear was ruling my life, and I wasn't allowing God to rule.

In Genesis Abraham feared man, more than God, and his wife, Sarai, ended up being another man's wife, for a while. But in many more examples when people cried out in distress God answered and told them that he would bless them and help them since he saw that they feared him. But, what I learned was that the one fear and the other fear were not the same. The one fear was for temporal things, and was for a loss of comfort and pride. The other fear was actually a healthy respect, a true recognition for our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. It was a fear for the eternal.

Proverbs and Isaiah are full of verses that link fear and knowledge... again, that respect or recognition for who God truly is.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Proverbs 1:7
"Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently but they will not find me, Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord."
Proverbs 1: 28-29
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord And discover the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:5

God promises us that we will know him, or have knowledge of him, if we have a healthy fear of him. So, now, when I pray to live my life without fear I am learning to acknowledge that there is one fear I must have, or perish... fear of God.

I pray you find this fear as well and lose your other fears of things temporal and less important.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Giving Thanks...The Joyful Life

Has it really been since November that I've been away from blogging? Sad thing is that I enjoy writing my thoughts... if I can do it with a keyboard, that is. But, life has been so busy and I've been learning so much.

I've not said a lot about why I started a new blog. Suffice it to say that my life started to change a lot last spring, and over the summer some major changes happened. At the time the process was very hard and painful and I still don't intend to write about the whole thing, but what amazed me was seeing God at work.

Jars created for New Year's Eve party... each family
is to fill the jar with  things for which they are thankful.
Next New Year's Eve they can open the
jar and remember what God has done.
Why should that amaze me? Hasn't he been with me through every trial or temptation in my life? Yet, it continues to amaze me as I realize more and more how very very small I am and how very very EVERYTHING he is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going all "new agey" on you... rather, it's just that he is ruler of the universe, creator, sustainer, redeemer.... God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. So, who am I to expect his presence in my life?

That's what I started learning. I am His child. I am redeemed by the blood of His son and therefore I am important to him, although not important in the world's eyes. Lovely. Restful. Peaceful. Grace-ful... i.e. full of grace, God's grace. This didn't come to me overnight, rather through the preaching of Jeff Canfield, Rick Amerine, Adam Niess, Rich Holdeman, Doug Schroeder and Tom Kammel I have been learning more and more about the fullness of God.

I began to see God's grace as well as his judgment in life. I began to see that I had many many reasons to give thanks, and that God was still with me, with us (our family). So, as November began I began the Thirty Days of Thankfulness journey. Each day I worked very hard to find something for which to be thankful. Some days it was easy and some days not so much. But, it was a chore I had set out to do, so I worked at it. As the month started to wind down I found myself not really wanting to stop this journey, for somewhere along the line giving thanks had become a habit, something about which to be excited rather than a chore. I started wondering what it would be like to do this daily. If you're Facebook friends with me you can see me post daily about things for which I am thankful. Occasionally I miss a day, but I always try to go back and add it in. It was to be a year long journey, but I see now it is a life long journey. Thank you Abba for your grace and mercy!

1 Thessalonians 5:17-19

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
17 pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit;

And, isn't this just what God calls us to anyway? I had always read about giving thanks in everything... but somehow I had missed the "Do not quench the Spirit"...

Matthew Henry's commentary says the following:

 Note, A religious life is a pleasant life, it is a life of constant joy. 2. Pray without ceasing1 Thess. 5:17. Note, The way to rejoice evermore is to pray without ceasing. We should rejoice more if we prayed more. We should keep up stated times for prayer, and continue instant in prayer. We should pray always, and not faint: pray without weariness, and continue in prayer, till we come to that world where prayer shall be swallowed up in praise. The meaning is not that men should do nothing but pray, but that nothing else we do should hinder prayer in its proper season. Prayer will help forward and not hinder all other lawful business, and every good work. 3. In every thing give thanks1 Thess. 5:18. If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in every thing. As we must in every thing make our requests known to God by supplications, so we must not omit thanksgiving,Phil. 4:6. We should be thankful in every condition, even in adversity as well as prosperity. It is never so bad with us but it might be worse. If we have ever so much occasion to make our humble complaints to God, we never can have any reason to complain of God, and have always much reason to praise and give thanks: the apostle says, This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us, that we give thanks, seeing God is reconciled to us in Christ Jesus; in him, through him, and for his sake, he allows us to rejoice evermore, and appoints us in every thing to give thanks. It is pleasing to God. 4. Quench not the Spirit (1 Thess. 5:19), for it is this Spirit of grace and supplication that helpeth our infirmities, that assisteth us in our prayers and thanksgivings. 

And therein lies the secret... pray and don't stop, prayer assists us in giving thanks, giving thanks helps us to recognize God's work in us, more praise and giving of thanks, more prayer and then the work of the Spirit is free and unhindered and He will work through us. That is when we begin to live the joyful life of a Christian giving thanks. 

Shalom (peace), 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November is a month of adventures!

This month seems to be a month of adventures for us. Of course, as I am sure you are all aware (all two of you, ha!) who follow me on Facebook, the fourth annual Art and Soul Craft Sale is almost upon us. You can usually tell how close it is by how much glitter is spread around our house. Poor David. In years past it's landed on his weight bench, chair, clothing, and sadly one night it ended up on his dinner plate. This year is very very odd though.. NO GLITTER! That's right, not a bit of glitter in sight. This year I've entered metal stamping, wire hammering, and more. I've up-scaled my glitter obsession to Swarovski crystals, and I'm happy to say they're all accounted for. But, if you want to see glitter at my booth just glimpse down as I plan to wear these delightfully glittered flats!

This weekend marks the first time that Bethie will be able to attend a women's church retreat with me. In the past she was old enough but the timing was always bad, And, just to make it special Grandma Beth will be joining us. AND... if that isn't special enough we've ordered several boxes of Peacetree Mountain Truffles in which to indulge. Hang on to your socks... movies, and chocolate and chatting on Friday night, and an amazing day of teaching by Jan Silvius on Saturday. We'll be in Crown Point, Indiana with Crossroads Fellowship Ladies Conference.

The following weekend Bethie will be trying out for club volleyball. This is a HUGE step for her, and we're grateful for a club which practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sweet! This opens a new world to her, where she'll be able to indulge in her favorite sport and hone her skills.

The following weekend of course brings Art and Soul. (See above... ha!)

And finally, we get to make our second to last, Lord willing, drive to Longview, Texas to visit Aaron at college. This will be the first Thanksgiving we've spent with him in several years, followed a few weeks later by a visit for his graduation. WOW! Hoping Josh will be able to join us, but he's in the midst of his job hunt after his graduation this year. My boys are men now... what an odd thought! But exciting.

So, what does November bring for you?

Of course, if you're able you should all be out to vote next Tuesday. Meantime, you can certainly be praying for our country and our elected officials... new and old.