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.