Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Blessing of Loss

As I sit by the fireside, watching the dancing flames within the hearth, I can't help but think, reflect, and rejoice over this previous year.  Every year I tend to spend some time just reflecting on what the Father has done for me and for our family in the current year as well as look ahead toward the year ahead.  Today, He has reminded me that I am thankful for the blessings and the losses. 

He has blessed us with a new job that provides well in finances, time and improved work environment.  He has blessed us with an incredible church family that is seeking after the Father and focused on bringing others to the Lord. God has brought many new people in our life that have touched, encouraged, and uplifted us.  We have come to value the friendships that God has grown stronger in these past years and months.  To be honest, I could easily be overwhelmed by all the treasures He has laid before us these past 12 months.  He always out-blesses us!

Today, however, I am also thankful for all the losses of this past year.  God has taught and continues to teach me that loss is for our benefit as well.  The losses grow my faith, draw me closer to my family and help me see Him in a new light.  No one wants to travel the road of loss, but God never has us take that journey unless it is for our absolute benefit.   Is it painful?  Yes, sometimes it is very painful.  Will we always discover all the "whys" and "hows"?  Not always.  Yet, despite all that, God IS ALWAYS faithful. He will make the darkest night like the noonday sun by the rich light of His love and blessings. 

This year, our family walked through a loss.  It was sad, but I have no doubt that God designed it for our benefit as a family.  I am so much closer to my husband, my kids are much happier because God chose to remove an unhealthy relationship from our life.  I see that He has blessed the others as well- confirming that it was best for all.  God is always faithful and works all circumstances for our good. 

I do not know that is ahead for us this year, but I rejoice in whatever He has for us.  He has never failed us and I know He will be faithful in the year ahead.  Where are you today?  Are you in the middle of a loss?  Seek Him!  He will bring you blessings despite it.  Are you overwhelmed by all the blessings He has showered on you?  Rejoice in all that He has done!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sleep Not

Tonight, we watched the movie "The Nativity" which came out a few years ago. I love the way it depicts the birth of Christ and the very realistic relationship of Mary and Joseph. In the end, the shepherds come and worship this newborn gift to all mankind. Mary reassures them that this babe was a gift for all and welcomes their adoration. Most scholars believe that the wise men actually came several months or even years later, but the movie shows them coming that night as well. They worship and honor the King with three treasures of gold, frankincense , and myrrh. What a sight it must have been! Can you imagine it? I can just picture the awe and wonder etched in their faces.

Later, I thought of Anna and Simeon who recognized Jesus as the Christ child when his parents took him to the temple for circumcision. Most of their lives had been spent searching for what their eyes finally beheld. But, what of those that slept through the events of that night? What of the priests and others in the temple who never saw the King in their presence? What of the people on the streets who saw but did not recognize? They were so close to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and yet, they did not see. They slept through the most beautiful heavenly celebration witnessed by human eyes.

I don't want to sleep through what God is doing now- in our world- or pass by the work of His hands because I am too busy. Father, awaken my spirit to your work. Open my eyes to witness and truly see You- please do not let me just pass by the opportunities You have for me. Prepare my heart as you did Anna and Simeon to witness and see the King of Kings who will return again. Friend, let us not sleep through God's work and let our eyes see His reflection in each day!

"In Jerusalem at the time, there was a man, Simeon by name, a good man, a man who lived in the prayerful expectancy of help for Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him. The Holy Spirit had shown him that he would see the Messiah of God before he died. Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God: God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I've seen your salvation; it's now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel. Jesus' father and mother were speechless with surprise at these words. Simeon went on to bless them, and said to Mary his mother, This child marks both the failure and the recovery of many in Israel, A figure misunderstood and contradicted— the pain of a sword-thrust through you— But the rejection will force honesty, as God reveals who they really are. Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem." (Luke 2:25-38 MSG)

Friday, December 21, 2012

On Guard

Sometimes, as a parent, I wonder if we are doing enough.  Parenting is hard.  I want to raise sons that will honor the Father, and live a life that is reflective of that.  In the midst of all the hard challenges we face in the parenting journey, I sometimes doubt myself- especially as a homeschool parent.  It is so much easier to just "do what everyone else does" than to be different, to stand out.  I, like most who homeschool, often worry about the future of our sons and if we are doing enough.

Today, we stopped by a store while in the midst of running some errands.  Caleb, our oldest, noticed something painted on a vehicle close to us that would not be good for little eyes- or adult eyes for that matter- to see.  He stated, "Mom, make sure you do not look at that vehicle.  It says something that we do not need to look at."  I felt such pride at the realization that he, at 12, is already trying to be on guard for our spiritual well-being.  I thanked him, but told him to make sure and "protect" himself as well and not look at it.  He readily agreed.  He is learning to be an man of integrity and that lesson will carry him far in life.  Other skills he can learn, but a life lived for Christ in hope and genuine faith is the greatest confirmation that we did our job, as his parents. 

I know we have much still ahead of us, and I know that with God's grace we will walk those tedious days ahead.  But,...  I am thankful for the hope and joy brought by Caleb thoughts and actions today.  Thank you, Father, for the glimpse into my son's heart today and for the hope that springs anew from my heart about his future and the plans You have for him.  Grow his love for You in his tender heart and seal it for the plans You have for Him.   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In a Panic

Okay, I confess, I have been in a panic for the past several hours.  I am waiting on the last, major Christmas present to arrive for one of our sons.  The Saturday after Thanksgiving I ordered this gift online because it was exactly what we were looking for as well as being an incredible price.  Since I had almost 4 weeks until it would be needed, I took the free shipping option.  Plus, I have ordered from this website before and have found that the items tend to arrive prior to the expected date.  Now, here I gift short for Christmas and due to our travel dates, it is likely that I will be figuring out a "Plan B" at the last minute.

This afternoon, the doorbell rang and in excitement I ran to the door to find the UPS truck delivering a package.  Yes!  It arrived on time... until, I read the box and realized that it was not the long awaited item.  Ugh! This package was something I ordered for school this next semester and certainly could wait until after Christmas.  However, it was full of packaging material that was perfect for packing a very fragile gift that I had been trying to wrap for several days.  Each time I started to wrap it, I would just stop because I wasn't sure how to do it without risking breakage.  At least, this was a blessing.

As I was finishing up that project, I felt the Lord nudging my spirit saying, "Don't I always provide?  I always meet your needs.  I will in this other issue as well." Immediately, my heart was at peace and I knew that all was okay with the long awaited package.  Either it will arrive on time or God has another gift in mind for that child that we are to give him.  I think - more than anything- it is a matter of trusting that God works out all the details of our life for our benefit and good.  It is easy to say that when all is going well, but in the midst of the Christmas hectic schedule when your last gift doesn't seem to be coming.... well, trusting can be hard in those moments.  Too often our human nature tries to figure out a solution on our own, but I think God just wants us to stop, breath in His peace and trust.  Usually, that is when the perfect resolution appears in God's divine timing.

So, today, I wait- at peace- and trust that either it will arrive soon or we will find something even better.  I will praise Him as I wait and just savor the intimacy of a God who cares and provides for all the details of my life.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Let Us Adore Him

Last night, as I tucked each of the boys in bed, Carson was trying to remember the words to a particular Christmas song that was on his mind.  He loves music and has been singing Christmas songs all month.  He hummed the tune and I recognized it as Oh, Come All Ye Faithful.  I began to sing it and he joined me.   Then, Kendall wanted to sing Jesus Loves Me which I did... several times through.

As I walked out of their room, the chorus to the song still was ringing in my heart.

"Oh, come let us adore Him,
Oh, come let us adore Him,
Oh, come let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord."

I felt such a mix of emotions.  That is what, as a parent, that I am striving to do for my children.  Point them to the Savior.  Teach them to adore Him.  Have Him become their Lord. 

In the midst of a hard day when things are not going smoothly and I have dealt with numerous frustrations... I need to come and adore Him. 

When I have dealt with one parenting situation after another and I grow weary...I need to come and adore Him.

When the dishes need to be washed, laundry is waiting to be folded, and the floors need a sweeping... I need to come and adore Him.

Perhaps in those moments when I stop myself in the middle a need and just praise and adore Him, those are the moments when I am living out a life of adoration before them.  Hearing Carson sing those sweet words became so convicting. That is what I want for my sons.... to point them to the Savior.  To teach them to adore Him and have Him become their Lord.  That is the greatest gift any of them could give me.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Up the Mountain

I love the mountains.... the colors I see that appeal to my eyes and the rich mix of scents that flood my nostrils.  The crisp coolness that pricks my skin and awakens my soul to new experiences that unfold while I am there.  I love the mountains...unless it is a spiritual mountain that God is asking me to climb.  My human nature wants to find the "short-cut" road through the valley that would enable me to miss the difficult climb.  I think I am like most of us out there.  We want to draw closer and more like the Father, but we just don't want that journey to have any mountains to climb along the way.  Yesterday, there were several statements in the message at our church that really convicted me in regards to my attitude regarding those difficult challenges we face.

These were stated and /or prepared by our pastor, Garry Jordan.

"The road to victory is always through the trial."

"When you can't see the way, God is the way."

"Trials do three things for us:
1. Make us ready for God's answer.
2. Helps us learn what to count/value in life.  To see and what God sees and know what God knows.
3. To gain victory over the evil one."

"'I will make this mountain a way for you.' said God."

"Victory is not gained by what we do but by who we believe and receive from the Father."

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding  fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:2-5

My friend, I know that trials and temptations are not our natural source of joy.  However, when you have climbed the mountain and reached the top, there is great joy.  Sometimes, God asks to do things that aren't natural to us, but they are always for our benefit and good.  I believe God is asking us to find joy- not in the trial- but in what He is going to do through it for us.  Whatever the struggle you are facing, God is working out the details for your good, benefit, growth, maturity and strength.  In the end, you will have a much broader perspective of God and His love for you and there is no greater mountain-top experience than that.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Heart Went Dark

Several years ago we purchased a pre-lit Christmas tree.  This year when we put up the tree, half of the lights were off and I could not get them to work.  I decided to buy some additional lights to string on the tree and all was good until yesterday.  Now, there is a dark strip right in the heart of our tree.  As I inspected it, I couldn't find the cause of the darkness, but it is there staring me in the face.

Yesterday, part of the heart of America went dark as well.  A gunman chose to take the lives of 20 children, 12 girls girls and 8 boys, as well as 6 adults who died trying to protect the children entrusted to their care.  Suddenly, we as Americans are facing the darkness... it is staring us in the face.  Many are angry, frustrated and focused on "fixing" what went wrong.  Most of us are hurting and frightened by the prospect of a world where our children are the chosen victims.  Our senses are tinted with fear and grief.  Suddenly, we are fully aware of how vulnerable we are to the darkness of our society.

I am not going to fix the lights on our Christmas tree.  It is a reminder that we live in a dark and fallen world.  I need to see the reminder of that and draw my children into my embrace.  I need to tell them that I love them deeply.  I need to be reminded that there are presents that will go unopened, cuddles that will occur no longer and Christmas stockings that will remain empty because families were robbed of precious lives yesterday.  I also need to realize that I am to be a light for Christ in this dark world.  Just as the lights shining brightly in my Christmas tree bring joy and hope- that is what I am to be for this world.  Let us fall on our knees today and ask God to make our light brighter, in His strength, and let us beg Him for peace, mercy and grace for the families who suffered such indescribable loss yesterday. 

Father, please heal our brokenness.  Please whisper Your heart to ours and allow us to be a light for Your Kingdom in this world that suddenly seems darker than ever.  We do not need solutions.  We need You.  Stir a desire for You in our hearts- one that cannot be quenched. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Journey- You and I

Each day, I share my heart with you.... sometimes it is humorous, sometimes vulnerable, sometimes messy, but always real.  Real in struggles, real in triumphs, real in joys, loss and dreams.  Perhaps, I am naive, but I love sharing with you and it is my hope that my ramblings bring you encouragement, hope, courage and joy.  While I began this blog several years ago, it was only in April that God moved on my heart to become more dedicated to it.  I had a seed of hope that God would grow it into a tool for Him.  I secretly set my sights on a certain number of  "views" for this year.  Often times I doubted that we- you and I- would reach that goal.  This morning, so very early, it happened.   I sometimes tremble at what God has done.  My knees quake when I read the list of countries from which many of you are sitting by your computer, just like me, and we are joining in this spiritual path.  I am so glad that we are together.... aren't you?

I look forward to this year ahead- for what God is going to teach me-us- on this journey we are traveling together.  I already know that we will be blessed by the experience because all things we go through, rather good or bad, is transformed to holy when we set it at His feet and look to Him for guidance. I also hope to hear your stories.  How is God moving and working in your world?  How has He used this blog to bless and encourage you?  It be such a blessing to me to hear from you.

Thank you for reading and including me in your day, it is a privilege I do not take lightly.  Blessings, my friend, blessings.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Child Lost

Recently, on a shopping trip, Kendall got away from us.   He has grown enough to make it nearly impossible to carry him for an extended time and there were no shopping carts available due to the crowds of Christmas shoppers.  Whether he thought it would be fun game to run and hide or he found something that he wanted to look at- his hand slipped our grasp and off he went.  In panic, we searched and called out his name.  In a matter of  minutes, he was back in my arms of safety and security.  All of us were a little wiser- he now knew that fear of being lost and we now understood the fear of losing. 

How many times have we gone out on our own- whether tempted by the world to pursue its delights and offerings or in doubt that God would take us where we wanted to go- we slip our hand out of His run from Him.  What does He do?  He pursues us.  His nature is that of seeking out after His children.  It began in the garden when He sought after Adam and Eve who were hiding in their sin.  It continued down through all His children- He sought me and won my heart as an eight year old little girl. I was the child lost in my own sinful actions.  It continued when, in my rebellion, I decided to do things on my own.  He sought me and drew me back to Himself.  It is the nature of a parent- what kind of parent would I have been if I hadn't sought after Kendall in that frightening moment?

Have you ever accepted the love relationship that God offers to all of mankind?  He is seeking after you and longs to have a relationship with you- the Creator of the universe is pursuing YOU.   Maybe you are in a relationship with the Father, but you decided to pursue tempting sights of the world or have tried to handle things on your own.  Maybe you were fearful that God wouldn't take you where you wanted to go and tried to forge the path alone- ahead of Him.  He is seeking after you and drawing you back into His loving, secure arms.  This life is too much for us without His protection.  We need Him and He lovingly pursues us.  Why?  Love.

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10 AMP

"But if from there you will seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you truly seek Him with all your heart and soul and life.  When you are in tribulation and all these things come upon you, in the latter days you will turn to the Lord your God and be obedient to His voice.  For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not fail you or destroy you or forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them."  Deuteronomy 4: 29-31 AMP

He is calling out your name.... run to Him.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The First Christmas Gift

On Sunday, Carson made a baby Jesus in a manger at church. Yesterday, he placed it under our Christmas tree along with the gifts that are awaiting delivery. When I first walked in the room and saw this sight, I caught my breath a little. Isn't that what Christ was for mankind? He was the first Christmas present ever given to a world that longed and needed a Savior. That gift came wrapped in soft, newborn flesh and was designed perfectly for our redemption. His purpose prepared. His future sealed- battered, bruised, and beaten - a sacrificial lamb for the sins of all. He was and is my Christmas gift.

This baby Jesus could easily get lost in the mass of gifts under the tree... It is a simple child's craft. Isn't that reflective of our world as well? Does the Christ child get lost in the mix of "holiday things"? May it not be, Father; let the sight of this precious babe always stop me in my tracks and fill my heart with wonder and awe. The best Christmas gift we could ever choose to receive was the first ever given.

"IN THOSE days it occurred that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole Roman empire should be registered. This was the first enrollment, and it was made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all the people were going to be registered, each to his own city or town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, To be enrolled with Mary, his espoused (married) wife, who was about to become a mother. And while they were there, the time came for her delivery, And she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn; and she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room or place for them in the inn." (Luke 2:1-7 AMP)

Friday, December 7, 2012

I love you!

Last night, I had some time with just Kendall in the house. With this being the crazy, Christmas season, I had plans of cleaning up the house a bit and wrapping presents. I had decided to set about the task of cleaning first so I could just relax and watch a Christmas movie with Kendall while wrapping the gifts.

Kendall was finishing his dinner and I began running around the house cleaning and picking up. Every time I came through the kitchen he would stop and look up at me and exclaim, "I love you Mommy!" When I would respond with, "I love you Kendall!" often he would say it again or tell me that he loved me more. We play this game a lot in our house, but my heart swelled till it could burst. I know my boys love me, but when they initiate telling me on their own, that is the best! I reflected on Kendall telling me that he loved me more.... Oh my precious son, it just isn't possible. All the pain bringing you into this world, the sleepless nights rocking you to slumber, the tears I have cried over your well being and care- my love for you would do it over and over again in order to see the precious smile on your face.

God spoke to my heart and how this reflected our relationship. What joy it must bring Him to hear me tell of my love for Him- to cry out my love to Him over and over- does it fill His heart to bursting? Does he look at me and exclaim, "I love you more! Just look at what my love for you has done- it made a way when there wasn't one. It cost me deeply.... But, you are worth it." When I reflect on how deeply my Father loves me, I can hardly catch my breath. Who loves like that? Only one.... Only God.

Just as Kendall kept looking for me last night to exclaim his love for me- I need to be looking for reflections of God in my day to day life and exclaim my love to Him. When was the last time that you saw God working in the details of your life and you just praised and thanked Him on the spot. Oh, Lord, help my eyes to see you at work and fill my heart to overflowing with love and praise for You!

I don't know what you are facing today, but I know that you are loved and never alone. Have you ever just cried out your love to the Holy One? Father, let our lips ever sing of Your love for us and exclaim our love to You. Give us spiritual discernment to see you working in our lives each day and let it be a love song to our weary souls. We love you Father....

Thursday, December 6, 2012


This morning in the quiet stillness of my room- with only praise music playing- I found myself just still before my Lord. Reading, praying, and just resting in His presence. My world gets crazy with all the responsibilities that I juggle- I know you can relate. It gets hard, sometimes, for my mind to settle all the various, busy thoughts that fill it. So, in the quiet solitude of the praise music filling the room, I lifted all the needs of my heart and mind to the Father and just savored the gentle rest of Him. There is nothing like the peace and rest found in the Father. Peace...Contentment... No need to rush, but to simply relish and savor the presence of my Father.

I read this statement today from the book, "Jesus Calling," by Sarah Young...." What I search for in My children is an awakened soul that thrills to the Joy of My Presence! I created mankind to glorify Me and enjoy Me forever. I provide the Joy; your part is to glorify Me by living close to Me. "

"You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. "(Psalms 16:11 NLT)

"For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” (Jeremiah 31:25 NLT)

"The L ord protects those of childlike faith; I was facing death, and he saved me. Let my soul be at rest again, for the L ord has been good to me. He has saved me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. And so I walk in the L ord ’s presence as I live here on earth! "(Psalms 116:6-9 NLT)

My friend, when was the last time that you just rested in the presence of the Father? Let Him draw your weary soul to Him and just let all of life flow into His care and just rest. What else do you truly need?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In Need of Rain

Living in Texas, I have become accustomed to our warm, unpredictable weather. This fall has been usually warm and dry. As a result, our land is beginning to look very dry and barren. In the western parts of our state, cities are reaching the desperation point- especially during the long Texas summers. Our land is thirsting for rain .... Abundant drops of His blessings on our land that is so thirsty for it.

As a believer, I sometimes feel that I am living in a dry and thirsty land, spiritually, and I need His abundant drops of blessings on my land that is so thirsty for it. Have you ever been desperately thirsty for a drink? You reach a point, that getting a drink is all you can think about. Have you ever been that desperate for Him? When we seek Him and His wisdom with that kind of honest need and longing, He never fails to answer. He will always fill us with more of Him when that is our plea- that has always been His heart's desire- just look at the cross. What held Christ on it? It was God's desire to have a relationship with us. He longs to make our thirst fruitful and our desperate lands healthy and productive.

"What mighty praise, O God, belongs to you in Zion. We will fulfill our vows to you, for you answer our prayers. All of us must come to you. Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all. What joy for those you choose to bring near, those who live in your holy courts. What festivities await us inside your holy Temple. You faithfully answer our prayers with awesome deeds, O God our savior. You are the hope of everyone on earth, even those who sail on distant seas. You formed the mountains by your power and armed yourself with mighty strength. You quieted the raging oceans with their pounding waves and silenced the shouting of the nations. Those who live at the ends of the earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy. You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile. The river of God has plenty of water; it provides a bountiful harvest of grain, for you have ordered it so. You drench the plowed ground with rain, melting the clods and leveling the ridges. You soften the earth with showers and bless its abundant crops. You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture, and the hillsides blossom with joy. The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep, and the valleys are carpeted with grain. They all shout and sing for joy! "(Psalms 65:1-13 NLT)

What God does for our land, He does in a greater measure for His children. He loves us and will bring health to our dry, parched souls in need. Let His raindrops of blessings renew your hope, refresh your dreams, and relieve the pain.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Like a Shepherd

Yesterday, I shared a portion of Luke 2 with you, and God took me back to that reading this morning. In case you missec it, here it is:

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived." (Luke 2:1-21 NIV)

As I reflected on this passage, I found myself drawn to the shepherds. The shepherd's job was a hard and lonely one that often required them to spend much time out with the sheep in the midst of the elements. Their job was to guard, protect and care for the sheep that were entrusted to their care- even if it came at great cost.

In the midst of the fields, on a quiet night, they awed when the night sky- normally filled with stars- filled, instead, with the glory of heaven announcing the birth of a king, their king. They, were the first eyes to see majesty wrapped in newborn soft skin and to know that the Savior had come!

God interrupted His faithful children in an ordinary night, and gave them an incredible gift- Jesus. They were just hard working, normal men who are very much like you and me. This revelation shows that this King wasn't just for nobles, but a King for all- for you, for me. God met them in the fields around a small town named Bethlehem, and they were forever changed. They left giving praise and glory to the Father because when you have a meeting with God, and you catch a glimpse of His Glory, your lips can't help but praise Him!

Friend, He has done the same for me. He met me in the fields of my sin and showed me His incredible glory in the form of His precious, babe son. With the shadow of a cross across His brow, the babe grew into the Savior of my world. How can I not praise my King?

My friend, we are like the shepherds living a life out in the "spiritual elements" of this world. Sometimes we feel lonely as we fight the tide of the enemy swirling at our feet. Friend, remember when God met you in your field of sin and let Him give you a new praise song to sing! He is our Savior wrapped in newborn flesh scarred by the nails of our redemption and how can we not praise Him?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Our Christmas Gift

Yesterday, a friend posted this video on Facebook and while I saw it last year, it still blessed me and tears trickled down my cheeks.  I watched it over and over and each time the tears came.  As I reflected on it and why it was so emotional for me, I realized that the singers taking part in this presentation are doing what each of us are called to do.  We, as his followers, are called to share Christ with our world- to point out in the midst of the craziness of life that seems to flow without any acknowledgement of the Savior, that He is real!  He is alive!  He was the babe born in the most humble of circumstances to suffer on the cross for the sins of all or the sins of one.... me, you, each of us. 

We are to be ever so purposeful in sharing with the world that the real reason we celebrate Christmas and give gifts is because our greatest gift ever was given to us at Christmas... a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths laying in a manger who had come to save a world.  The life picture portrayed in this video reflects people- just like you and me- ever so humbly and respectfully sharing their faith, hope and future through songs.  The world, caught up in the rush of Christmas shopping and worldly needs, stopped in awe and worshipped the Savior.  THAT is what we are to do.... sing the song of our heart's testimony through the life we live, the words we speak, and the way we love. 

"And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. " (Luke 2:8-20 NIV)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Savior Lives!

This morning, I listened to this praise song and was so encouraged. My friends, we- the redeemed in Christ- serve a living King!  Our God does not sit on a shelf and collect the dust of prayers that it could not answer... Our God lives!  He has always been and will always be. Our prayers are heard by our King and He acts in our best interest to love and protect His children. He was our Savior on the cross, but He is our Savior each day that we cry out to Him. Only a living Savior could be all that we need for all time. Never forget that our Savior is alive!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Do I Need?

This weekend, after the turkey was eaten and dressing was put away, our family began to focus on the next upcoming holiday- Christmas! We love Christmas in our house... the music, the tree and decorations, the gifts under the tree, and all the joy and laughter that fills the empty spaces of our home and hearts.

As the preparations began, I was asked to give Christmas hints to others for our family. I felt such a deep inner conviction- what do I really need? In light of recognizing all that God has blessed us with as a family- especially as there are families around the world in desperate situations- what could I truly need? I have more clothes than most, our bills are paid, the pantry holds plenty of food, and our home is packed full of things that need dusting and cleaning.

Truth is I received all that I ever really needed as an eight year old child, when I accepted the salvation from my sin that God offered through Christ. That relationship has carried, sustained, provided, and blessed me through and despite countless trials by the evil one. God has never failed to deliver me.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Philippians 4:19, 20 NIV)

He has been ever faithful... Perhaps, what I truly need is to share our blessings with those in real need- I think that is the gift God wants me to seek this Christmas season... The joy in blessing others in His name; or in the least, the full recognition of all that He has done for me and for our family. God, please help us not to clamor for more of the temporary, but thirst so deeply for the eternal... Grow that need within, Father, the need of You.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for the Little Things

Yesterday, in the midst of packing, cleaning, and loading the truck for the journey to celebrate all that we are thankful for with those who we are blessed to call family... God stopped me in my tracks. I was in such a rush, and realized that my boys would probably need a snack for the drive... What to bring? Did I have anything that would be an appropriate road snack? Oh, and I needed to check Kendall's bag for clothes, wipes, diapers and such- what? I sandwich baggie of snack mix that Kendall's class at church had made. I stopped... Paused... And I felt such a prick of thankfulness flood my soul.

How many times does my God, my Savior, provide for needs I have in my world before I even recognized the need? Countless times. Our God loves us that much to step in with every need we may have whether it is great or small. Think of all the times God provided for the Israelites whether it was freedom from Egypt or the daily provision of manna for them to eat while in the desert wandering for 40 years. God takes care of His children- always.

My friend, a few years ago I was in need of some jeans because I had lost weight. However, we really didn't have the money to go purchase new clothes at that time. Feeling almost silly, I prayed about the need, and trusted that somehow God would provide. The next day, we were visiting family and my sister in law said, "I have some jeans that I wondered if you might want- There are 4 or 5 pairs." God provides. When Reagan was laid off from his job, we saw God provide continually. One night, I told Reagan that we had enough money to cover our vehicle and house payment or all the other bills. We were not sure what to do so we prayed. The next day, God provided our house payment and car payment as Reagan received a call that someone had left a donation for our family at the church.

The list goes on and on... Whether it is enough workers on a Sunday that several had to back out or a small check arrives that covers a need that popped up, God is ever faithful. Today, I am so reminded, blessed, and encouraged by seeing Him in all the little blessings that occur so often. It is His way of assuring us that He is with us- always mindful of us, our needs, and ever capable of meeting the needs we face.

He loves that much.... How can I help but praise Him?!?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I am Here

In the past few days, I have hugged and cried with several dear loved ones over major needs and battles they are facing. More than that I haves pleaded my heart to the Father on their behalf. Broken, desperate cries for the ones hurting in my world - wishing that I could somehow easy the load they are carrying.

God is teaching me that unity in Christ reflects a heart so connected with fellow believers that the burden of their heart becomes yours. It is your prayers entangled in theirs. It is your hands physically helping in countless different ways.... Preparing a meal, wiping the tears, writing the check, rocking a baby, cleaning a house, and the list could go on.... It is more than saying, "I will pray for you." It is joining them down that long journey and saying, "I am here."

Friends, I am here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Caleb's Award

If you read one of my prior posts, Moments of Celebrating, you know about the karate tournament we attended recently. Reagan took Caleb out last night and gave him his award.....

To Dance

Last night, Reagan took Caleb for some one on one man time. The younger boys and I stayed home to just relax and they were watching a new movie on television about a princess.

At one point, Kendall came to me and asked me a question. I could not understand him at first, but I finally realized that he was asking me if I was a princess! I chuckled, but he took my hand and asked me to dance. We danced and danced around the living room and my heart felt such strong brimming emotions.... These moments leave us so fast as parents. Moments that we are their everything- their hero, their star, their princess.

I danced till he was ready to stop. This morning, while praying, God reminded me that my job, as a mother, is to train and prepare them for their bride (aka princess). I may hold their heart for a time, but God has another lady in mind to capture it for a lifetime. I cried. In a mix of sweet and hard emotions, I prayed for that special lady for each of my boys- Godly ladies that will love only the Father more. My hope is that their marriages will be blessed by a deep, strong commitment to each other through the Father. I also prayed that God would help me to let go and give them to their brides in joy and peace.

Parenting ... It is such a dance of emotions. I will dance with each of them as long as they are willing, knowing that the memories will forever dance in my heart.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Moments of Celebrating

This weekend was the final karate tournament for Christian Soldiers Karate that Reagan, Caleb, and Carson have been active in for several years. It was an awesome day with many highlights for our family.

First, my awesome husband earned a first place in his division for self defense. Wow! He did so well, and it really blesses me to know that my husband can defend us if a need arose. He also received a third place finish in sparring. That is one of the most exciting and brutal aspects of the competition.

Another highlight of the day was watching Carson compete. He had only one event this time, and it was in the largest event and division. This happened at the tournament prior when he had incredibly high scores, but competing against people who are two belts advanced than you is hard. This weekend, he did awesome- better than I have ever witnessed from him. He earned a third place!!! I was so proud of him as won it against more advanced belts and older kids.

Both Reagan and Caleb were in the running for the top karate athletes for 2012-which is huge considering the number of students in Christian Soldiers. As it turned out, they were not in the top three to get an award, but I was still so proud of their efforts.

My proudest moment, however, had nothing to do with trophies or titles. It was the moment when Caleb, our oldest son, realized that he would be leaving without a trophy this time- I don't think that had happened before for him. In that moment, he handled it so well- with such maturity and grace- that my heart almost burst. Was he disappointed? Sure, but his response was more mature than some adults, and that is of more importance and value than the karate skills he displayed. His character earned a trophy if his efforts fell short. Reagan had already planned a special evening with Caleb this week. On that evening, he plans to present Caleb with a trophy- one that Reagan earned at the tournament- because of his championship character.

Parenting is hard. There are moments when all you can do is plead for wisdom and grace from the Father. There are also moments, when you get a glimpse of the character of God. Those are the moments worth celebrating.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stealing Moments

On rare occasions, I have the opportunity to do something with just one of my boys. Reagan and I are trying to be more intentional about getting that precious, one on one time with each son.

Last night, I took Kendall to the grocery store while the older boys went to karate with Dad. I know the grocery store isn't that grand, but it wasn't about where we went, it was about who I was with. I loved it. We talked, laughed, and just savored the uninterrupted moments together.

God wants that with me. He just wants time with me alone to just savor. I don't have to be at the church- I can capture His attention anywhere, anytime. Honestly, He longs for me to take the time to join Him in my day.

I have come to love and long for the first of the morning moments we share together- my Lord and I. I had never, however, really pondered what joy and delight it brings Him. What parent doesn't love the moments that their child comes to just be with them? Throughout the day I can steal small snippets of time with Him when I sing a praise song to Him while cleaning the kitchen or when we thank Him for the food He provides each meal. Moments, when I quickly cry out a prayer for a need brought to my attention or when I jump for joy in seeing a prayer answered by His perfect plan. Those, too, are moments I spend with my Father.

He wants time with you. He loves you. It brings Him great joy to just be a part of who you are today, tomorrow, and everyday.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Glorious Day

This morning, I so desperately needed to steal fleeting moments in my room to just be still and praise my Savior. There are days when my soul just needs more- more of Him in the beautiful silence of His love pouring into me love, joy, and thanksgiving. Sweet, unashamed tears flowed as I praised, pondered and relished His love for me. One song in particular touched my heart and thanksgiving to my Savior bubbled forth.

"Living He loved me. Dying He saved me. Buried He carried my sin far away. Rising He justified freely forever and one day He's coming- oh glorious day! Oh glorious day!" Casting Crowns, "Glorious Day"

My friend that act alone is reason to praise Him all my days. He took my sin- the shame of my days- and cast them into the sea of forgetfulness. I am redeemed. I am a child of the King! I have a new home waiting for me and my soul longs, with great anticipation, seeing my Savior face to face.

He, loving me so, has given me so much more than I deserve. He has blessed me with a wonderful family, husband, sons, church home, friends, and home in which to build memories. How could I not praise Him? I am so thankful for the grace of God that has given me so much more than I could ever deserve or imagine. This grace- conceived in a garden and completed on a cross- is the purpose and legacy of my being.

"Believe even when you do not feel. Know even when you do not see. 
He gave the life of His son to demonstrate His love.  Believe!"
Beth Moore, "Praying God's Word Day by Day"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Clean Filters

I have said this before, but I have a love hate relationship with cleaning. I love having a clean house, but it seems like a never ending process when we homeschool and are here all day. Last week, I was cleaning the house for a gathering we were having in our home and the vacuum just didn't seem to be working correctly.

I just bought this vacuum a few months ago, and it is my first bag less one to own. I had been faithful about dumping the container that held the dirt and debris, but it finally hit me that I had never cleaned the filter. Once I emptied it and washed the filter, I was amazed at the difference in the machine. It functioned and did it's job so well! It just needed a clean filter!

While I vacuumed, I thought about my own life. It seems that my conscious is the filter to my heart, mind, and soul. When I knowingly sin or disobey the Father, my filter begins to clog with guilt and fear. As a result, I am unable to do what I am called to do as effectively - just like my vacuum. Once I repent, confess and make changes in my life; the filter is clean and I am able to better fulfill God's purpose and plan for my life.

Read the following from King David after he had struggled with an illicit relationship with Bathsheba that ultimately led to murder. That is the thing with sin- it can start so small, but when your filter gets clogged, you will do things that will baffle you later.

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise." (Psalm 51:10-17 NIV)

David could not fulfill the purpose God had for him because he was so entrenched in all the lies, sin and attempts to hide his actions. Only with repentance and restoration was he able to return to God's plan for his life.

My friend, does your filter need a cleaning? All God wants is a broken and contrite heart that he can restore to the purpose He designed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ice on a Sandwich?

I often awake to calls and pleas for breakfast from our youngest son, Kendall. That boy often wakes with one thing on his mind... Food. This morning started very much the same, but he wanted a breakfast sandwich. By the time I had gotten to the kitchen he already had the ham and cheese out and was trying to figure out how to get the eggs off the top shelf. That independent boy!

I prepared his breakfast and placed it it before him. I also warned him that it was hot. As I started back to the kitchen, Kendall asked for me to put an ice cube on his sandwich to cool it. You are probably thinking... What??? When I prepare oatmeal for him, I will often add an ice cube to it and stir it to cool the oatmeal down. Then, I can spoon out the remaining cube when the oatmeal is just right. I realized that Kendall thought if it would work with oatmeal, it might just work for his sandwich.

I chuckled in my heart as I explained that the ice would only work for oatmeal. Then, it hit me- how many times do I apply a solution to a problem that just doesn't work. Typically, this is when I have tried in my own efforts to "fix" a situation without seeking the will of my Father. The results, too often, were as messy as an ice cube on a sandwich.

Why do I try to figure out and handle things on my own? I have the source of all wisdom, all knowledge, all power, and all love waiting for me to just ask Him... Yet, I jump out on my own. I think of Sarai who tried to provide an heir for her aging husband through her maidservant. It did not turn out well. Rebekah tried to make sure that the best son received all the blessings and a war between brothers erupted. Her beloved son had to flee to another nation for safety. Israel, God's chosen people, have often tried to resolve issues without seeking the Father and the results were never good- remember the golden calf?

I think King David's charge to his son, Solomon is very wise...

“So now, with God as our witness, and in the sight of all Israel—the LORD’s assembly—I give you this charge. Be careful to obey all the commands of the LORD your God, so that you may continue to possess this good land and leave it to your children as a permanent inheritance.
“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you to build a Temple as his sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.” (1 Chronicles 28:8-10 NLT)

We, too, should strive for obedience of the Father. We, too, should strive to know God intimately, and worship Him with our whole heart and mind. He knows us- every detail- and knows what we truly need. He will give us the wisdom we seek if we will just focus on Him. We are still about the temple building business! We are the temple of God- as His church- every new believer adds to our temple.

My friend, I don't know if you are in the mire of a hard situation of just in the day to day sea of decisions. This I do know- all we must do is seek after the Father and allow Him to work out things in His will and for our good. Otherwise, you will just end up with a mess.... Just like an ice cube on a sandwich.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Day After

The votes were cast. The map was colored. The decision was made and a nation- this nation- remains divided. This much is clear and evident to us all. So, what now?

Just as stated yesterday, we look to Christ. My friend we have not been promised easy lives free of conflict or trial. Instead we trust and cling to our Savior who has promised to carry us through every trial, conflict, and challenge. As believers in the Son who saves, we never walk alone. Now, more than ever let us seek His face because there is a world watching and they desperately need Him.

In His perfect timing, here were some quotes and scriptures from my devotion today:

"Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or in things going your way. I am training you to depend on me alone, finding fulfillment in my Presence. This entails being satisfied with much or with little, accepting either as My will for the moment. Instead of grasping and controlling, you are learning to release and receive. Cultivate this receptive stance by trusting Me in every situation. " from "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young

"Crisis brings us face to face with our inadequacy and our inadequacy in turn leads us to the inexhaustible sufficiency of God." Catherine Marshall from "Once a Day Everyday"

"I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NLT)

"But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you." (Isaiah 43:1, 2 NLT)

If you make the LORD your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet! The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.” (Psalm 91:9-16 NLT)

My friend, our future and security is in Jesus- not anything else. We must cling to Him and truly let Him transform us. Our world needs to witness transformed lives to begin to recognize their own need for Him. Jesus- He alone- is what our nation, our world needs. Will we live it out day to day before them? Will we speak of the hope He is in our life? Will we cling to Him in our weakest moments secure that our true home is waiting? Let us not walk in fear, but share the rich grace and peace given to us through Christ knowing that the ultimate victory has been won. Let us pray, desperately so, for those who still need Him, but more than ever, let us live the faith we profess.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

This Election

Today, in our nation, there is an election- many would argue that it is one of the most critical ones in recent history. I have always tried to appreciate the privilege we have to vote in our nation for the governmental persons and policies that will affect our world. I voted and have voted in the last several elections.

While I am very concerned about this election, I am not afraid. The maker of heaven and earth is still in control regardless of the election results today. He is who is my protector, defender, provider, and guide in this process of life.

"The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.” Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. "(1 Peter 3:12-15 NLT)

Do what is right and honoring to the Father.... Vote! Vote for the candidates that honor the values and beliefs of our true King- God. Then, however, do not fear but instead trust that God is still in control of all things.

"The LORD is my light and my salvation—
so why should I be afraid?
The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me,
when my enemies and foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me,
my heart will not be afraid.
Even if I am attacked,
I will remain confident. The one thing I ask of the LORD—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
delighting in the LORD’s perfections
and meditating in his Temple." (Psalm 27:1-4 NLT)

"No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:37-39 NLT)

My friend, as believers, our future is secure. Even if our world falls apart, our true home is safe and cannot be shaken. Take heart and have peace-- there is a world watching....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Weighed Down

Last night we arrived home from a long weekend trip as a family. Over the summer we were unable to go on a vacation due to several factors and we decided to take a fall getaway with just our boys.

It was a fun time mainly because we had some extended time together as a family. I loved it- but, I am so weary today from it all. Several times I found myself carrying bags, my purse, Kendall or a combination of the three. On one of the tours, I carried Kendall, my purse and his backpack up three flights of stairs. Now, I am in decent shape, but carrying all that extra weight killed my arms and back. Thankfully, Reagan helped ease my burden... And there was such relief when the weight was lifted off of me!

My friend, I have been guilty of carrying the weight of unforgiveness, a need to control, anger, past hurts and jealousy. Those weights brought such pain into my world as I carried them with me wherever I went.... by my choice. Christ continually offered to remove the overwhelming burden, but I refused. Why? Sometimes it was my need to have control. Sometimes it was my longing to be recognized and appreciated. Sometimes it was just a stubborn heart that did not want to show a weakness. So I struggled weighed down by my own sin and when I finally fell under the weight of it all, Christ gently lifted them off my heart and brought the relief I so desperately needed.

David once wrote... "My guilt overwhelms me—
it is a burden too heavy to bear... I am exhausted and completely crushed.
My groans come from an anguished heart. You know what I long for, Lord;
you hear my every sigh. "(Psalm 38:4, 8, 9 NLT)

Yet, God promises to bear our burdens for us if we will give them up to Him and trust Him to work things out for our good. He only asks that we seek after Him- His knowledge, His heart- and follow Him in obedience.

"Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

My friend, are you breaking under the weight of things you were never meant to bear? He is waiting with hands outstretched to ease your load. What are you waiting for?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Good Gifts

Tomorrow is Carson's birthday. I love that boy.... I love his smile and the glint in his eye. He has this love for life that is contagious. Carson brings joy to my world, and I want to make his birthday special- as I try to do with all my boys.

Reagan and I have talked and discussed his birthday for weeks. We spend what we can afford, but the emphasis is not on the amount spent- it is about making that child feel special. It's knowing what each child loves and values and use that knowledge to bless them.

If we, as humans, go to this much trouble for our children, how much effort does God give to blessing us? God knows everything about us because He knit us together in the womb. He even knows the number of hairs on our head! He loves us so much to know us that intimately. His gifts for us are tailor made perfectly just for us- just as His challenges and opportunities to grow our faith. Sometimes, the trials we undergo are actually gifts in disguise.

“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:11-13 NLT)

I can't wait to see Carson's face tomorrow when he opens his gifts... His joy makes me giddy happy. I think my joy in the Father and His beautiful gifts to me, bless and honor Him. Look for the hidden blessings in your day and just know that they were made specifically for you by a very purposeful, loving God.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

In His Hands

Last Saturday, Reagan was playing with the boys after breakfast and just enjoying some time at home. I love the weekends when we, as a family, just enjoy togetherness and memory building. Laughter fills all the nook and crannies of the day and my heart brims over with satisfied joy.

Strangely, I heard a panicked cry coming from the lips of our youngest and I found him in the arms of his father lifted into the air. Reagan has loved picking up the boys and "flying" them much like a toy plane. The older boys, who are now much too big, love the game; Kendall, however, did not. He cried out in fear and panic. Reagan calmly soothed his cries, "It's okay Buddy. Daddy has you. See my hands are holding you. You are okay. I have you." After a few seconds- I am sure they felt as hours to Kendall- he calmed and relaxed some. I think he much prefers games that his feet stay on the ground.

I became overwhelmed by the thought that I react in the same way with my Father. I find myself in an uncomfortable situation and my fear swells to the point of breaking. The whole time the Father speaks love to my anxiety, "I am here child. I am holding you. See my hands are holding you." These are moments when God is stretching my faith- growing me to a deeper maturity- but, He never let's me go. I, like Kendall, would prefer lessons while on the ground of all that I find secure, but then I would miss the view from the heights. I don't want the safe, easy road... I just want to feel His hands constantly wrapping me in the security that is beyond all others.

"...For God has said,
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5b NLT)

Maybe you feel vulnerable...High in the air in a situation- trust Him. His hands have you and He will never let you go!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cereal on a Plate

Kendall has been so sick the past few days. He is tired, weak, and very emotional- any little thing and the tears fall fresh and heavy on his cheeks. Yesterday, in the midst of the day he requested some cereal to eat. I had no issue with that because he has not eaten well and cereal as well as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been the most appealing to him. However, he wanted me to put his cereal on a plate and add milk. What? I offered to put the cereal on the plate- with no milk- or put it all in a bowl. He cried for several minutes as I refused to put his cereal with milk on his favorite baseball plate. He just couldn't understand why he couldn't have what he wanted, the way he wanted.... Finally, he caved and went to the table to eat his cereal with milk that was waiting in a BOWL.

I am so like that with God. Times that I just want what I want- even if it doesn't make sense and it isn't what is best for me. There have been times when I am pleading and crying for my way in something and I believe God is lovingly refusing my pleas. Why? My requests make about as much sense as cereal on a plate- it is not what is best for me. Most of the times what I am requesting is a "quick fix" that would temporarily easy my discomfort, but it will never truly fulfill the need.

"This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” (Jeremiah 29:10-14 NLT)

Most of us are familiar with Jeremiah 29:11, but when you read the whole passage we can see that God is promising that His plans are for their good. However, He is also refusing their requests for a "quick fix" with an immediate release to go back to their homeland. In the end, God was and has continued to be faithful to Israel. He has not failed them- or me- or you. He has committed to work out His plans for our best outcome- even if it means standing firm refusing our quick fix solution. Why? He loves us too much to give us less than His best.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dressed for the Day

Lately, Kendall has been very faithful to bring me his clothes each day to wear. I chuckle at this because, as a homeschool family, we often do school in our pajamas or in play clothes. However, this does not seem to fit Kendall's personality. Often I have just set down with my coffee and Bible when I see him bringing me his choice of clothes for the day ahead. He needs to feel dressed and prepared for whatever we might to that day.

I have thought of this often lately. How would God want me to dress or prepare for my day. Then I thought of the following passage of scriptures:

"For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." (Ephesians 6:12-18 NLT)

I think God wants me to study His word and put on His faithful armor to protect me from the evil one that longs to distract, mislead, and harm us. Each day I must make an effort to make sure I am prepared for all that may come about that day and it begins by spending time in the word, praying my heart to the Father and listening for His response. This enables the Holy Spirit to be at work guiding, leading, and enabling me to live a God-called life beyond circumstances.

I would never let us leave the house if we weren't dressed for public, but how many times have I left without being spiritually dressed for the day? Father, forgive me....

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fearful Moments

Friday, the boys and I went on a field trip to a local area museum for the day. We had a wonderful time and just enjoyed having a day to learn by seeing and touching history in person. I planned to take them to lunch and let them pick the restaurant. Not long after arriving at their chosen place to eat, I realized that Kendall needed a diaper change after being out for so long. When I went into the only area with a diaper changing station, I was not extremely impressed. The facilities were not stellar, but realizing that going out to the car was not an option since the older boys were already eating, I just had to make the best of it. As soon as I placed Kendall on the changing area, he went into a panic. Apparently, the table did not make him feel secure. He began crying and clinging to anything he could grab and kept saying, "I fall! I fall!" I tried to change him as quickly as I could, but he was so tense and rigid that I had such a hard time. I tried to soothe him with comforting words and reassurance, but he would not relax until the moment I picked him back up in my arms. I felt like I had been in a battle! Truth is, the diaper change took longer because he was so frightened.

The more I have thought about that experience, I think I have reacted the same way with God at times. I find myself in a new situation and my fears take over. Then, in my anxiety I become stiff, rigid and unable to be shaped or molded into God's plan for me. Just as I kept trying to bring comfort and reassurance to Kendall while changing him, I think God tries to bring us comfort as well. Too often my growing fear reflects a lack of trust in my Father for the new challenge ahead of me. Ultimately, the process takes so much longer because of that lack of trust.

"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. For the life is more than the food, and the body than the raiment. Consider the ravens, that they sow not, neither reap; which have no store-chamber nor barn; and God feedeth them: of how much more value are ye than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit unto the measure of his life? If then ye are not able to do even that which is least, why are ye anxious concerning the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I say unto you, Even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass in the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more shall he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: but your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. Yet seek ye his kingdom, and these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:22-32 ASV)

Father, through the Holy Spirit within, please help my faith and trust of You grow. I want to honor You with a quiet trust when the events of my life seem overwhelming for You have promised to work all trials for my good and benefit. Father, Your strength is enough to carry me through all I will ever face. Help me to know- taste and see- that Your plans are always best for my life. I love you Father!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Yesterday, in the midst of schoolwork, I noticed that Kendall had gone missing. Plus, he was extremely quiet- these are the primary prerequisites for a parent check on him. As I began my search, I noticed that the refrigerator door was slightly ajar. Upon a closer look, I saw two small, bare feet barely sticking out of the opening. Quickly, I grabbed my camera and took some photos of my beloved youngest sitting in the cold, darkness drinking a yogurt that he was afraid I would not let him have.

One part of me couldn't help but chuckle at the site before me. Yet, I saw a much sadder reflection in his actions- my own. How many times have I sat hidden and cold in the darkness of sin. Fully knowing that my actions were not what was noble, right, and true.... and yet, so enchanted by the sin that so easily entangles, I stayed there in the dark. Sin is a lonely, cold place and there is always fear of being found out lurking in the anxious mind of the one trying to stay in the dark.

When I opened the refrigerator, Kendall was a mix of emotions, but primarily he was sad at my finding him and angry at me. How dare I interrupt his yogurt time! Isn't that the reaction of many when "found out"? I know when I felt discovered, my heart wanted to lash out in anger at the one who had brought light to my darkness. Truthfully, the anger came from my own sadness of having believed the lies if the evil one.
He calmed once I reassured him that he could have the yogurt, but I just wanted him to eat it at the table and ask permission next time. Happily, he responded quickly and went straight to the table to await his snack. I had no problem with him having the yogurt- it was late in the morning and I have no doubt that he was hungry. He choose a healthy snack at that! My issue was that he did it the wrong way- without my blessing.  He was seeking to fulfill his needs on his own. I think that is God's response to us as well. Too often, it's not that God doesn't want us to have what we are seeking, he just wants us to do it the right way. To seek Him first and to allow it to be outpouring of His great love for us. When we seek after Him, the blessing is no longer hidden in the darkness, but a cause of celebrating at His banquet table.

"Let me encourage you to continue to wait with faith. God may not perform a miracle, but He is trustworthy to touch you and make you whole where there used to be a hole" Lisa Whelchel ("Once a Day Everyday")

"God's smile is not for the healthy hiker who boasts he made the journey alone. It is, instead, for the crippled leper who begs God for a back on which to ride." Max Lucado ("Grace for the Moment")

My friend, if you are in the cold darkness of a sin that has you entangled, reach and grasp the scarred hand of the Savior- He wants to free you. He wants to give you life, healing and joy! Let Him draw you out into the light of His all encompassing love!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Stinky" Situations

On Saturday, Kendall made a "diaper" and because I change about a million in a week (slight exaggeration- possibly), I waited to see if Reagan would do it. Sure enough- if you wait long enough- Reagan graciously offered to change Kendall. In all fairness, Reagan helps a lot around our house and I am so thankful for his love and support. As Reagan was leading Kendall back to his room for a change, he said, "C'mon Buddy. Let's go take care of that diaper. " Kendall said,"Happy Birthday Daddy!!" Then, he starts singing "Happy Birthday" to Reagan. I just cracked up! Only a two year old would think a dirty diaper would be a good "gift" or a reason to celebrate.

Later, I read this quote by Corrie Ten Boom which said, "Every experience God gives us... is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see." Wow! Sit on that for a minute.

Truth is, some experiences just aren't pleasant and feel rather stinky- just like Kendall's diaper. Those type experiences are often the ones I just want God to remove from my life. I think if we are all honest we would like a happy, easy and non-complicated life. One free of hurts, disappointments, challenges, and heartache. Corrie Ten Boom helped hide persecuted Jews during World War 2 and was arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Conditions were so bad that lice and fleas were everywhere. Corrie's sister, Betsy, thanked God for the fleas reminding Corrie that they were to thank God in all circumstances. Weeks later, Betsy learned that the severe outbreak of fleas and lice kept the soldiers from coming in the barracks which gave them tremendous freedom and protection to share the gospel and read scriptures.

The hard things in our life that we would rather God remove to make our life easier- may be God's protection in disguise. He is constantly preparing us for the next step in our future. Why? His great love knows all the inner workings of our heart and mind. He is working all circumstances to bring out the best in us to use us. Never think that trials are anything more than His loving training.

When was the last time you faced a "stinky" situation? Did you rejoice and look for the lesson in the trial? Or, did you beg and plead for God to remove it from your path? Sometimes, you just have to lean on your trust and faith in an ever-faithful God.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Wet Mistake

On Wednesday night, both Reagan and I had commitments up at our church.  I had a meeting at 5:30 and he had praise team practice at 6:30.  So, we determined that I would go to my meeting as soon as he arrived home and then he could bring the kids with him to church at 6:30 when my meeting would be over and I could come home with the younger two kids.  (Caleb has LIT on Wednesday nights and would be staying up at the church with Dad.)

So, earlier in the day I had changed Kendall's clothes after his nap and determined that his diaper wasn't very wet and that I would wait and change him before leaving to go to my meeting.  MISTAKE #1

Reagan was running late getting off work and arrived home at 5:40 pm- yikes!  Since I was watching the clock and slightly stressed about arriving late at my meeting, I  totally forgot about changing Kendall's diaper.  I also forgot to mention it to Reagan when we did a rushed "kid trade off".  MISTAKE #2

Upon the completion of my meeting, I went to retrieve the boys from the childcare area and discovered that Kendall was very wet.  He kept asking me to change his diaper, but looking around I did not find his diaperbag.  MISTAKE # 3

So, I told him to hang on and that we were leaving very soon.  All I needed to do was catch our Children's Minster to discuss a couple of things and we would be on our way and I could remedy the wet diaper situation.  MISTAKE # 4

Upon finding the Children's Minster, we began discussing some issues and things that needed to be done when I very warm sensation began spreading across my abdomen where I had Kendall on my hip.  Yep, the diaper did not hold and Kendall didn't either..... Upon seeing a look of horror cross my face, the Children's Minister asked if I was okay.  I bumbled through an explanation to see him laughing and offering to help any way he could  "No thanks."  I said politely, "I am headed home to get a shower ASAP!". 

As I buckled Kendall into his carseat, he looked at me and said, "I sorry Mommy."  I melted.  The truth is that it isn't his fault.... a comedy of errors turned into a big, wet mess, but it wasn't his fault.   He just did what came naturally and even asked for my help beforehand.   In that moment, I felt such tender love for my little boy despite the situation.

Two thorough scrubbings later, we sat in clean pajamas reading another book when the Children's Minister called.  He had a question for me and then, still chuckling, he asked if I had been able to clean up okay.... yep, I assured him that we were in a much better state than when he had seen us last at church. Ugh!  You can't make this stuff up!  He was still laughing when I hung up the phone!

Perhaps you needed a chuckle today- I hope you enjoyed this real life Mommy moment. You know, life is messy. Mistakes happen. But, I would rather live with all the messiness than not truly live.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Life Tapestry

Hanging in our bedroom is a quilt- a tapestry of colors- greens, browns, blues, reds and creams.  It was made by the beautiful, hard-worn, hands of Reagan's grandmother.  I love this quilt and all the shades and colors within it.  Someone could look at it and find imperfections- there are some- but, I just see, wonder, and marvel at the love that stitched it together. 

It's like my life- your life- times and events stitched together in love by the Father.  Patches of heartache and patches of unmistakable joy.  Both are needed to make the most exquisite life quilt for we can't truly appreciate the beauty of the mountaintop highs unless we have walked through the dark canopy of the valleys.  God stitches each event perfectly for each life and is always there.... in the stitches... holding it all together.

"I wait quietly before my God, for my hope is in him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.  My salvation and my honor come from God alone.  He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.  O my people, trust in him at all times.  Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge."  Psalm 62:5-8 NLT

"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible."  Corrie ten Boom

"God has a will for your life, Christ has a word for your life, and the Holy Spirit has a way for your life."  Beth Moore

No matter where you are in the life quilt being sewn together by the Father, Lord, and Savior of your life- you are not alone.  God is with you every moment stitching together a beautiful life and it is held together by the love life-blood of His very Son.  You are treasured.  You are loved.  Your life is a beautiful tapestry of a love story that began before you drew your first breath!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Disappointment (and the Texas Rangers)

If you know our family very well at all, you know that we love our Texas Rangers baseball!  Reagan grew up watching and listening to the Rangers play and following all the different players.  I also grew up watching the Rangers with my family and my grandfather was a die-hard fan.  He and my grandmother would go to bed each night listening to the game on their clock radio.  We love our Rangers!! 

The past two years have been good for the Rangers- two trips to the games "Holy Grail" aka. the World Series.  It seemed as though we were floating on a baseball high as the reigning  American League Champs and on top of our division for almost the entire season.  Sadly, over the last two weeks, things began to crumble and they fell to the Oakland A's to see a 3rd division championship slip through their fingers.  Then, just 2 days later they lost to the Orioles and our season ended.... just like that. 

For most Rangers fans, this has been heartbreaking.  It just wasn't suppose to end like this.  We had already envisioned a return to the big stage of baseball to catch that allusive World Series Title. We could almost taste all the fall ball excitement and games.  How did it all go so wrong so fast?  When did the foundation begin to crumble? 

I know that this is just baseball.... but, I think we have all been there in life.  Times when suddenly it seems that the whole world has fallen a part and you just can't seem to grasp where things went wrong.  Questions, hurt, disappointment, and anger abound as the process of healing begins.  We have been there- many different situations and different times in our life- and it is a hard journey.  While the steps are challenging and many times stretch us spiritually- I have had some of the greatest spiritual growth as a result of those journeys. 

God is always with us in those difficult times and He is loving and growing us through the process into a deeper maturity and faith in Him.  Barbara Johnson once said, "The difference between winning and losing is how we choose to react to disappointment."  (Once a Day, Everyday)  There is such a profound truth in that statement.  In the middle of our discouragement, do we turn to the Father and seek after Him?  I know my human nature tends to want to share my heartache and hurt with others who are sympathetic to my situation.  There is nothing wrong with that, but I need to make sure that I am spending more time in prayer to my Father over it.  The hard truth is that my friends can be sympathetic and pray, but only God can initiate change- change in me and change for me.  Plus, God is always there for us..... at any moment when you are at your weakest,  God is there.  "On the darkest day of your life, God is still in charge.  Take comfort in that."  said Marie T. Freeman.  (Once a Day, Everyday)

 "And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." Phillipians 4:19 NLT

"Trust in the Lord and do good.  Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.  Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart's desires.  Commit everything you do to the Lord.  Trust him and he will help you." Psalm 37:3-5 NLT

While in the fog of disappointment, seek after Him- God- Christ and let Him guide you through the unknowns ahead trusting that He is capable of meeting every need you have along the way.  When you focus on Him, it becomes easier to take the next few feeble steps knowing He is there to catch you and as our eyes focus on Him our heart conforms to His.  Suddenly, wants and wishes of the past are not our heart's desire because we have conformed to His heart and perspective and we see that God has more for us.  My friend, if you are stuck in the heavy fog of a life disappointment, and you are seeking - ever so desperately- for direction, for comfort, for guidance..... look no farther than the nail scarred hand reaching out for yours. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Brotherly Love

Brothers..... they either love or torture each other to death.  Growing up, I remember my brother and I wrestling, fighting, or annoying each other often.  I also remember watching out for each other, playing games together, and sharing secrets of hopes and dreams.   Now, as a parent I witness those relationships in my boys and I pray that they will mature into lifelong friendships. 

Recently, I have noticed a subtle change in the way my boys have responded to each other.  Kindness, thoughtfulness, and gentleness seem to be finding their way into the hearts of my young men.   In the past two months, Caleb has offered to buy his brothers new Hot Wheel cars so they play together.  One of the times, the cashier was so surprised by Caleb's actions that he paid for the items and told Caleb to save his money.  Caleb has always been helpful with Kendall, but yesterday he took his youngest brother outside to play baseball with him.  Now, Kendall is two and playing baseball means that he throws or hits the ball while you chase it down repeatedly..... and yet, Caleb found joy in it.

Carson had an opportunity recently to take over Caleb's room and have a room to himself for a time.  I thought he would jump on such a proposal, but instead his heart was concerned about Caleb's feelings.  He chose to continue sharing a room with Kendall because he would rather stay where he was.  Carson has also started taking more interest in Kendall and his needs.  Many times lately he has rushed to Kendall's side out of concern for his brother. He loves to read to Kendall and I have found both of them together many times just cuddling and reading together.

Kendall loves his brothers.... they are about as good as sliced bread in his eyes.  On Thursdays, the older two boys and Reagan take karate.  I often keep Kendall at home.  When they enter into the house, Kendall runs to the door screaming, "Bubbies!!!"  He just adores them and they adore him.

My friends, I was reminded of the scripture from 2 Peter 1:4-8.

"And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.
The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:4-8 NLT)

I think God wants us to love each other with the kind of gentle, brotherly love that I have begun to witness in my home recently. A love that puts the needs of others ahead of yourself. A love that reaches out when someone is in need and agrees to walk with you down that hard journey. It is love that requires effort, energy, and time. It is love that starts with Christ and our relationship with Him. My boys are not perfect- have no doubt about that-but, on days that they are giving themselves over to the mind and attitude of Christ, I see Him in them. Isn't that the point of love anyway- to see the Savior etched all through it?