Sunday, June 26, 2011
Yesterday i had told a friend i would help her weed-whack her property. It was a beautiful summer day and there were plenty of other things i could have done, not to mention there was no monetary incentive, but i told her i would be there. I gave her my word and i stuck to it. When we make commitments to people how often do we change our plans or come up with ways to get out of things at the last minute before we actually have to sacrifice some of ourselves for someone else. Jesus was a man of His word, He kept all His promises and he always will. He's a promise keeper, and i want to be one too!
I thought about promises and commitments i've made to God and how many of them i've let go or didn't work very hard to keep. For example, about 3 months ago i told God that every Tuesday night i would set aside time to spend just with him. i did that too.. for 1 week and then things started coming up and i would make other plans. It brings tears to my eyes now, when i look back and i can see Jesus sitting in my living room waiting for me, and i was too busy.. too concerned with other things. But i know He always showed up, He listens when we say things, and people do too. OUR WORDS MEAN SOMETHING. They are important, they have the power to change someones entire life. I wouldn't have done that to a friend who i made plans with to meet, so why did i think it was okay to do to God. I want to be trustworthy and dependable, a person that when someone thinks of me they know they can stand on my word. Ive heard about a time when a mans word was as good as gold, it was as binding as a written contract, when people meant what they said, and flattering words were of no use. I pray that for our generation, that we would come back to following Christ in this way. That when we make commitment to people and to God we would carry them out, or at least not even agree to them at all. Can you imagine if in the garden Jesus says to the Father, Your will be done... and then as He carried the cross decided it was too much for him to endure, it wasn't worth it, we weren't worth it...Could you imagine if He never carried out the death and resurrection that has brought us life. IF all He did was talk, where would we be? This is a value that's important to me and no matter how difficult the task i pray my actions would match the words that come from my mouth.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Make new friends but keep the old
One is silver and the other gold.
I am sure many will remember singing that song as a scout.
That song has much meaning for me even after so many years. When I was singing that song as a scout it was just a song, but now so many, many years later, I have found that it has much more meaning for me.
For several weeks I have been in a state of excitement, anticipation and preparation. A friend was coming for a visit. It was going to be a short visit but, none the less, Barbara was coming. You see Barbara is my oldest, truest friend. We met in middle school and have been friends ever since. Our bonding time in high school set the scene for a lifetime of picking up where we left off. We were a matched pair. We shared many things as do all friends. All of that silly crazy girls talk. Yep, it still goes on to this day. We introduced Barbara to her husband; both of our men had military careers. We caught up with each other as children were born and whenever we were stationed close to each other. Barbara ended up settling in Indiana and we in Virginia. Not very close to each other, but when we did manage to see each other it was just like we had been catching up over tea and scones each day.
There was much preparation for me to make sure all was perfect-the house clean and sparkling, fresh linens and, of course, fresh flowers for her room. Barbara is a master gardener. I had meals to decide on and the good china to set out. Yes, it has to be perfect and the best for my friend. Not because I needed to impress her but because I loved her and wanted to honor her; to let her know I much I love her; to let her know that anytime with her is “special”.
Here we are, no longer 16 but just old lifelong friends. Our children are grown and we have been blessed with grandchildren and husbands (good men) of 50 plus years. Oh, how I looked forward to that day when we would meet again and just be so very comfortable in each other’s presence. To just drink in the easy comfort of that long ago established friendship. To know that we could just be us, just chatting about life past and present. Barbara also is a strong Christian. Can’t say that when we were young we were, but along the way we found out that Christ is the one who sustains, leads and directs us. What a comfort to have a best friend like that. I know if I never see her again I will see her in heaven.
As I thank God for Barbara in my life I also am thankful for Christ in my life.
My mind goes to the questions of: do I prepare each day to make sure I have a perfect welcome for Him? Have I saved the best for Him. Do I seek His presence with joy? Do I love and honor my King each day with time spent talking with Him and with study in His word. I so look forward to the day when I will meet Him face to face and have endless time to talk.
What a Friend We Have In Jesus Joseph N. Scriven 1855
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
Christ is my Best friend. Who is your Best Friend?
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
One of her favorite things to do was shred the lettuce for salad. I would send her off to wash her hands and she would drag a chair over to the counter where she could help mommy with dinner. She didn’t shred the lettuce the way I would. The pieces were often quite large and I confess that when she wasn’t looking, I would sometimes dive in and help a little. But she had fun. She was with me. She was in the thick of things. She was helping. And she got to be a normal kid doing a normal thing. She laughed and smiled and communicated in her own special way. When it was time for everyone to gather at the table we made a big deal about how the salad tasted so much better because Sammy helped. She beamed.
It got me to thinking about our Father. He certainly doesn’t need our help. He could “share the gospel”, feed the hungry, heal the sick, and encourage the down-trodden a lot more easily, effectively, and efficiently without our help. But He is a gracious and loving Father and He lets us shred His lettuce.
Sadly, the difference between me and Sammy is that I’m not always excited about getting to help my Dad. Sometimes I grumble because I don’t really want to help. Sometimes I get full of myself and forget that I am helping and I’m only helping because He gifted me or called me, not because I’m all that. Eventually I think about Sammy shredding the lettuce and remember how happy she was just to be around her family and to be a part of whatever was going on. Then I remember how blessed I am to have the opportunity to help the King of kings, to be a part of His family and to be loved by the God of the universe.
I learned a lot from Sammy in her twelve short years. Looks like God was letting her shred His lettuce, too.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Is 41:10).
Picture an Olympic runner, bursting through the ribbon, hands raised triumphantly, waving to the cheering crowds, smiling for the cameras, barely a sweat dotting his brow. Was this me on Friday, the last day of school? NOT EVEN CLOSE! In fact, crossing this finish line felt more like I was crawling on bloodied knuckles, gasping for breath, ready to collapse at any minute.
I reflected upon this as I watched my youngest son board the bus. With horror, I realized he wore yesterday’s clothing! And, because we had run to catch the bus, his teeth were un-brushed (the dental hygienist’s warnings from Wednesday’s appointment burned in my ears). I glanced up to see the garbage truck roar around the bend toward our house, toward our empty curb - empty because we had failed to get that trash out in our haste. And to top it all off, the cell phone I’d grabbed on my way out beeped its low battery alarm, since I had forgotten (yet again) to recharge it. What a perfect analogy for my present condition: out of energy, running on reserves, in desperate need of a recharge.
As I turned heel and re-entered our house, my eyes took in the post-war landscape – stacks of unread mail everywhere; used school supplies, art projects and toy parts littered every available table top; milk and bread were long gone; unfolded laundry piles scattered about the living room floor. And who knew the last time the bathrooms had been cleaned? Or the carpets had been vacuumed? An overwhelming sense of failure and exhaustion hit hard right then. What do I do first? Where do I even begin?
I decided just to sit for a moment and pray. (Frankly, it was all I really had the energy for.) As I did, God faithfully brought to mind a few very important facts: “Remember playing your son’s homemade math game with him recently?” “How about the prayers you shared with your daughter over her high school anxiety last night?” “Recall laughing with your husband at the pool?” “Have you forgotten all those conversations WE had at their soccer practices, or the worshipful walks you enjoyed around the fields?” YES! God had been there, coaching me through, steering me to the important things, pouring in His goodness and strength during the fray.
I remember a day-trip our family took in early May to Great Falls. It was right after a heavy rain and the river was high and raging. Along the edges though, quiet little swirling pools gathered. What would life be like as a water molecule here? Rushing forward at deathly speeds, bouncing dangerously off sharp rocks, being tossed to and fro out of control. But every once in a while, the molecule would be re-routed to a quiet pool for a time of refreshment, a time to recharge.
I will not kid you, it has been a rough 6 weeks, with all the demands of work, school, house, and end-of-year scouts, music, and sports. If you are the parent of active kids, you know exactly what I’m talking about! But through it all, I see that God was my source of strength and focus. Like that water molecule, He did give me those “pockets of peace”, my pools of refreshment, when I needed it most. And now, He made sure I remembered this. So, I want to make sure I thank Him for it. What's better than giving credit where the credit’s due? To God be the glory forever. Amen.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Have you met Ken Avery? I had not met him either until Friday night. He was playing basketball with the guys and stopped in to see what was going on at the book swap. What a nice guy! His suggestion was that the men of the church have a similar event for guys who like books. Our ladies might just be starting a trend!
Ice breakers, snacks, and door prizes (gift cards to Barnes and Noble and McKay's) were all preliminaries to the reason for gathering. We got down to the business of picking out books that were new to us and finished the evening off with plans for the next one! If you missed this one, look for another in the upcoming months.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
On saturday i went strawberry picking with my sisters and niece, the sun was gently kissing our skin and there was laughter in the air. I went to my dads afterwards and sat on the patio with my family talking about old times and watching the kids splash in the pool. My mom and my stepdad renewed their wedding vows last night, and rededicated their marriage and home to the Lord. Love filled that chapel. In the midst of all our troubles is Joy, is Peace, is Love. My point is this... He knew we would face trials and temptations, they are a part of this life here on earth. The Bible says to count those all as joy for they strengthen our faith and draw us closer to Him. Im sure we could list complaints and stresses a mile long, but i believe God wants to remind us not to fear when we are faced with these struggles because we are not alone in them, He will come to us. I believe He comes to us everyday.. in a childs laugh, in the love between man and wife, in a strawberry, in a friend. Lets not ever forget all the blessings and promises and gifts He has given us everyday to remind us of who JESUS is. Twenty years down the line i dont want to look back and wish i had spent less time worrying about grass stains and pimples and not enough time on the broken and forgotten, the sick and the bedraggled, the neighbor who needs a word of encouragement, the roommate who needs a hug.
~"The Lord always keeps his promises, He is gracious in all He does." Psalms 145:13 NLT~
Friday, June 17, 2011
I am sure most of you remember the childhood fairy tale that starts with, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Well, I’m going to change that phrase to “What’s your name after all?”
So what’s your name? By this I mean what are you called? What do you answer to?
Since I am older that most of you I have had many names that I have been called by in my lifetime. Let’s start with my name given at birth. You ‘all can identify with that one.
Then you might have been referred to by some of these:
Any nickname you might have been called
Any number of sweet names used by your husband
Mom of (child’s name)
Mother in law – or your first name
And someday I will be known as a widow
You no doubt could add some names that I have not thought of. What does all of this mean? Your whole life you have been or will be defined by what people call you. Sometimes the calling of that name is a love song to your ears. Sometimes maybe not so loving to your ears. It may bring up sad memories of a time you were betrayed, or accused falsely, or made fun of, or told you were nothing but a liar.
All of these names define who I am or what I do. But they do not define who I really am! Long ago I looked up the meaning of my name and found out that it means princess. I thought that was really neat! Doesn’t every little girl have dreams of being a princess? I know that I sure did. What could be better than having a prince rescue me and a king for a father –in-law. You see, when I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior I became the child of the King and that made me a Princess for real. As a Princess and child of the King I know:
I am made in His image (Genesis 1:27)
He knew me before I was conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
I was chose and planned at creation (Ephesians 1:11-12)
I was not a mistake (Psalm 139:15-16)
I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
His desire is to lavish love on me (1 John 3:1)
He is my provider and will meet all of my needs (Matthew 6:31-33)
He rejoices over me with singing (Zephaniah 3:17)
I am His treasured possession (Exodus 19:5)
What a blessing to know that I am His Princess and the Scripture above is just some of the encouragement He gives me to assure me of how Special I am to Him. As you read through the list of names I have suggested I am sure you can identify with some of them. But, most importantly, my prayer for each reader is that you, too, will know without a doubt that you are a Princess who is a treasure. You are loved and valued about all else by your King. I hope you have claimed your crown as a Princess.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Today’s blog post is a bit different from normal. I’m posting the video my mom took of the monologue I wrote for the church’s Good Friday service. It’s written from the point of view of the woman who was caught in adultery. Now there’s a woman who wanted to feel loved but felt more unworthy than most of us could imagine. Yet God forgave her. Why? Because he loved her. Wow, the Mickey Mouse Club theme song just started going through my head. Another song that just popped into my head is “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.” That one seems more appropriate.
So here’s the monologue. (Just remember it’s not a professional recording... or a professional actress for that matter) And for those who’ve already seen the monologue, sorry, but at least you finished the blog faster than everyone else.
…you, God, will not despise” (Psalm 51:17).
I watched him shuffle away, shoulders slumped, face downcast, gently wiping tears from his eyes. The pain was real and deep. And it was sooo quiet. No more lies. No more excuses. No more scolding. The evidence was in and it was indisputable. There was nothing left to say. Oh, how I wanted to fix this - to bolt forward, gather him up in my arms, and tell him everything was OK. But instead, I sat fixed to my seat, choking back tears of my own. Time would be his healer now. God would be his Comforter. And God’s Spirit would begin its loving work on what was now a teachable heart.
See, my son had done wrong. And I simply could NOT make it right. He had sinned time and again over a 3 month stretch, and had finally been discovered. He’d grossly overspent his lunch account (only one school meal per week is allowed), then stone-faced lied (repeatedly) in order to cover his tracks. His retribution was to pay us back in full (all $108 he had “stolen” from us), which he did in that heart-breaking moment with the crumpled birthday bills and allowance he’d so faithfully been saving for a new iPod. As hard as it was to see, my son had to learn that disobeying our rules (and God's) result in consequences.
But even more than understanding cause/effect relationships, I thought a bigger lesson rested at the spiritual level. I told him I was disappointed. I told him about trust, and how long it took to earn it back. I told him about God’s all seeing eyes, even when parents can’t see (Heb 4:13). I told him how our sin always finds us out (Numbers 32:23). And I told him about God’s rule on stealing (Ex 20:15) and His opinion of lying (“The Lord detests lying lips” Prov 12:22). I told him that all a person really has in this world (and the next) is his soul, reputation, and character. These are the things that last. How could he have been willing to trade these precious possessions for a few rubbery chicken nuggets?? (Do you think I was too harsh? He’s only 9 after all.) When he finally “felt it” and showed genuine contrition, I told him to confess the whole stinkin’ mess to God. My son needed to say “sorry”, to me and to God.
Contrition and repentance are the first step toward change. See, I know that believers are forgiven (I don’t need a visiting doctor to tell me this!). It is the good news of Jesus Christ, gloriously sprinkled across every page of the New Testament. We are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Christ’s all sufficient blood payment for our sin (Eph 2:8 - 9). And this includes ALL our sins – past, present, and future (“once for all” Heb 10:10). But God has a goal that extends beyond forgiveness and salvation. If this were not the case, I would be writing to you now from my home in heaven. Instead God left me here for a reason - to change me into His Son’s likeness (Rom 8:29), to bring Him glory (Is 43:7), to reach the unsaved (Mark 16:15), to serve His people (Eph 4:12), and whatever else He calls me to do. When God gave us the book of 1 John, written to believers, He says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (v.9). God wants believers to confess their sin! Jesus Himself said, “Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15).
Repent. Confess. It’s what believers MUST do. Confession is a necessary ingredient for the furtherance of God’s goals. It’s cleansing, freeing, and prerequisite for change. When we confess, we agree with God that our choice was wrong and offensive to His character. We take ownership of our actions. We recognize God’s holiness, and our ongoing need for His grace. We admit our weakness and need for the Spirit’s strength and guidance. We experience freedom from the power of that sin by tapping into a power that’s even greater (John 4:4). We rid ourselves of the tightening grip that sin has over us, like extracting that festering meatloaf from the dark recess of the fridge, and exposing it to the light. Our hard hearts become teachable again, like malleable clay in the hands of the Potter.
It kills me to see my kids suffer. Isn’t my job as a mom to protect my children from pain? Yes, but I have another job as well. I am called to work with God to accomplish His goals in my kid’s lives, even when it hurts (growth and change often do.) Does God hurt with us when He executes His discipline? When He brings us low in order to raise us up higher (James 4:10)? Probably. But one thing’s for sure: He wants more for His children than just our forgiveness. Whatever our age, whatever our sin, God loves a contrite heart!
Hello, ladies! We would like to make you aware of an exciting opportunity to connect over the summer months. Beginning mid-July, we are kicking off a GLCC Ladies’ Summer Book Club. We’ll be reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Small groups will meet in various homes for approximately six weeks. Groups are limited to six ladies and sign-up will be on a first come, first serve basis. We will create new groups as needed. The book is available for purchase at the GLCC Book Table. Read more about the author and the book at www.aholyexperience.com . Here, also, is a link to the book at Amazon. You can see a sample there. http://www.amazon.com/One-Thousand-Gifts-Fully-Right/dp/0310321913
Currently, we have three hostesses:
Kris Caudle will be hosting a group in her home in Bristow on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m. beginning July 12th.
Colby Howell will be hosting a group in her home in Manassas on Wednesday nights at 7:30 p.m. beginning July 13th.
Paula Keller will be hosting a group in her home in Manassas on Thursday mornings at 10:00a.m. beginning July 14th.
Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate children in the current groups.
If you have any questions or would like to sign up for a group, please contact Lisa Fowler (firstname.lastname@example.org or at 540-341-3511) or sign-up Sunday in the hallway just down from the book table. We hope you can join us!!!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Make 'em wish that they were not
On the outside looking bored
Let it shine before all men
Let'em see good works, and then
Let 'em glorify the Lord...Newsboys
I have recently started a job as a CareGiver for Seniors so they can remain in their homes instead of going to a nursing home. One of my clients has an adult daughter who was involved in an accident as a child and suffered some brain trauma as a result. She has a very negative view of herself and the world as part of her mental illness.
This was our conversation one day.....
Her… “Are you a Baptist?”
Me… (hmmm…that was a random question) “I’m a Christian.”
Her… “I’ve tried to be a Christian, but I’m not good enough.”
Me…(wow, I’ve never been in contact with someone who has so little hope….so here it goes)You don’t have to be good enough, God loves you just the way you are.
Her… “No, no, I’m nothing, I’m just a shell. I’ve made too many mistakes”
Me…. (yikes) No, God loves us in spite of the things we have done.
I was placed in this home because the husband is very specific about the caregiver for his wife. Little did I know that I would have the opportunity to witness to their daughter. Since then we have talked about Christian artists (We both like the Newsboys), more about God’s love, and mostly I’ve just tried to be a positive mentor to her and love her just the way she is.
So it turns out, I’m not just there for the Senior, but I think God may have had a hand in this assignment too.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Saturday, June 11, 2011
One absolutely beautiful spring day i took the twins outside ( they are almost two years old). They are still a little wobbly at times and tend to teeter in the grass, which doesn't seem to deter them at all from exploring! On that day only flowers and birdies were their concerns. Aiden spotted something along the tree line and began to run for it. He didn't know that the yard dropped off ahead, He couldn't see that far, he was only focused on the thing he wanted to get to. I tried to yell to him to stop. I knew he would trip, it can be so easy to get ahead of ourselves and run, FEARLESS. He looked back for a moment, contemplated what I had said, and then turned and continued for the trees. I watched as he tumbled head over heels down the hill. i wanted to do something, I reached out but it was too late, he had made the decision to go for it. When he realized what had happened he cried for me and pointed to his knees that were scuffed with dirt and grass. I ran to him, I was not concerned with the fact that he hadn't listen to me.. I just wanted to hold him, because he was hurt; i was hurt.
I think it is like this with the Lord, as humans we can focus on something and hurl ourselves into it, and sometimes this leads to a fall.. face first into the ground. And believe me my time here has not been all smooth sailing, i have endured a few face plants and scraped knees. But even when we get ahead of ourselves and look back to Him and say, "its okay God, i got this!",(followed by a tumble down the hill) our Father in heaven is right there to scoop us up in his arms and hold us tight and set us back on our feet. He doesn't look at us from atop the hill and say, "i told you this was going to happen." He comes down, with love in His eyes and mercy in His hands. Hes asking to hold our hand on this great adventure, so when the land beneath our feet becomes uneven and our every step is a wobble, He's right there with us, to support us and sustain us. He knows the beginning from the end and He longs to walk beside us and enjoy the sunshine and birdies of daily life together.
Yep, just did that a few minutes ago. I don’t know what I was thinking. But while I was cleaning it up, it suddenly gave me a picture of the mess I sometimes make with my relationships. The similarities are frighteningly striking.
To begin with, I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing and that’s often how I get into trouble with my relationships. I say or do things without taking just one little nanosecond to think it through. It’s like someone switched my brain to “off”. I recently sent a friend an e-mail, that, in the back of my mind I knew was a bad idea, but in the midst of a brain blip, I hit “send”. What was I thinking? Oh wait…I wasn’t. You’re feeling my pain right about now, aren’t you?
With the microwave incident, however, I at least had the wherewithal to clean up the mess right then and there. Can you imagine how long that would have taken if I had walked away and let it sit? I wonder how much easier our lives would be if we would clean up our relational messes as quickly. How much more peaceful would our homes be, if we would apologize right away when we’ve been hurtful or inconsiderate? How much more peaceful would our churches be if we would be ready to accept an apology or simply not take offense so readily?
And what about those times that we walk away from the messes we created and leave the clean-up for someone else? We all know people who leave a trail of relational disaster behind them and expect others to follow along cleaning up the wreckage. But, in all likelihood we’ve each chosen what seemed like the easy way out rather than choosing humility, confession, repentance, godly sorrow, personal responsibility. I know I have. Sadly, my experience has been that the longer I wait to do the difficult or challenging thing, the harder it gets…just like dried up ketchup…it takes more time and more energy. Sometimes, if we wait long enough to clean up our messes we find that a relationship has been so tarnished, it may never be the same. What a shame. I hope the next time my neurons stop firing and I say or do something stupid, I will remember the ketchup and quickly take ownership and clean up my relational mess.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
Thursday, June 9, 2011
I tried really, REALLY hard not to let this all get me down, not to be consumed by my circumstances and to try to remember that He has a purpose in ALL things. But I slipped. Without even deciding, I slid right into my own personal pity party. Thoughts were flying through my head like these...
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Today was a red letter day -- our little five year old Alaena Grace was seen by her cardiologist and she came through with flying colors. Everyone in the office is now aware of her great set of lungs! I was a hot mess trying to keep her quiet and her arms to her sides while the cardiologist smeared gel around with the probe and stickies with wires attached to them covered her little back. But his findings that the repaired holes in her heart showed no leakage and we don't have to go back for two years filled me with such JOY!!
My mind wandered back to the first time I sat in that same office. Still pregnant with Alaena, I clung desperately to Kristi Street’s hand. Kristi was my ears and voice during this visit - I was numb. This time, I was the one smeared with gel and being probed. I lay completely still thinking I would wake up soon from this nightmare. I listened to the doctor confirming there appeared to be holes in her heart. It was common in babies with Down’s Syndrome. The doctor met with me for an hour trying to paint a picture of other families that loved their children with Down’s Syndrome. I didn't believe him.
For I know the plans I have for you
We met, Alaena and I, face to face in the hospital. Alaena had holes in her heart as predicted, but she was so very little at 4 pounds and 2 ounces, they wanted her to gain weight before surgery. I didn't love Alaena at once. I was gripped in fear and asking God, “How could you do this to me? To us? Hadn't our lives had enough challenges already?” I bargained with God. I yelled at God. I cried buckets.
At five months of age, Alaena wasn't gaining weight. The holes in her heart were too big and it took all her little energy just to stay alive. We scheduled heart surgery for her. I prayed for Alaena but if she didn't make it I understood. I had learned lessons. I had been changed. God had used her to change me. I'm ashamed to even write these words but when FEAR takes over....
not to harm you but give you hope
What a miracle open heart surgery is - and on one so little. Not only did the surgery repair the holes in Alaena’s little heart but in mine too --stitch by stitch, moment by moment -- my heart was being repaired too. Love was growing. The plan that God had begun was being revealed in who I was becoming.
So five and half years later, we return to the same office. Our journey has gone from fear and alienation to a fierce love and pride in my little one’s accomplishments. The journey is still uncharted - but joy has replaced fear. Trust has replaced anger.
and a future....
How could God do this TO me? He did this FOR me!! I love this little pickle and all her ups and downs. We are on a journey -- one that is filled with hope and our planned future. What a relief it is that I can lean into Him on this journey. I still have to reach for my magnifying glasses when it comes time to change her diaper but God doesn't make mistakes and I'm claiming that!!
In case you haven't seen us running around the halls, may I take a moment to introduce you to my sweet Alaena?
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
I have always wanted to be a mom. When my friends in elementary school were all dreaming of the big important jobs they were going to do when they grew up, I only ever wanted to be a mom who stayed at home with her children. God has graciously allowed my dreams of motherhood to be realized, and even more fully then I had imagined. The wonderful parts and the ugly painful parts. I have had the privilege of giving birth to 4 beautiful babes. My very first baby, a little girl we named Hannah, was carried to Heaven before she was 2 days old. We knew 4 months before she was born that she would not live much past birth but I carried her to term anyways, because I was her mother and I wanted to protect her any way I could. It was a devastating loss and I grieved deeply for my daughter ,who I felt at the time, was stolen from me. To this day it is the deepest sense of loss I have ever experienced.
Since then I have given birth three more times to healthy, wonderful children who make me laugh every day. Through somewhat miraculous means our family has been given the opportunity for me to be a stay at home mom. I can honestly say that there is nothing else I would rather do then to be here for my children's every moment and to guide them as they grow. I am still expanding my horizons at a mom as we walk through the adoption process for 2 more children from Africa. These children are not my flesh and blood and I even have yet to see them face to face but I have cried over them, grieved in my heart the loss of their birth family, worry about them and feel the anxiety of not being able to get to them fast enough - just like I do over my own birth children.
All of these experiences as a mom have deepened my walk with God as I compare them to how He relates to us. He has felt the loss of His only son. The Father knew it was coming and yet he allowed the difficult plan for His son to be carried out- to protect us. He is our Father and He loves us unconditionally. We are made in His image and there is nothing we can do to make God love us any less, just the same as I love my children deeply, more then myself, no matter what they might do. He delights in us and rejoices over us. He has adopted us as his own. At a time that we did not even know God, he was agonizing over us, loving us, teaching us and guiding us. The God of heaven and earth loves YOU and calls you His child. Wow. Tell me that doesn't make you feel special!
Sandra Briggs is doing one of the most important jobs for the little ones. Snack refill! If you haven't met Sandra yet, make it a point to say hello and share a smile with her. You'll love her like I do!
Debbie Buzard has been loving her time volunteering in the nursery. This particular day she is holding Alexis Montgomery and what a sweet time it was. Can't you tell by the look on Debbie's face that these are precious moments? Hannah, you might jut have a built in grandma in Debbie:)
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Our neighbors, the Marshallese, lived on the next island which we could see from our backyard. I became very fascinated by the history of the people who lived in this part of the world. The part of their culture that fascinated me the most was their ability to travel from atoll to atoll across vast amounts of Open Ocean without the aid of a compass. In ancient days this was accomplished with the help of a stick chart and an outrigger. Of course there were no maps or compass so they studied wave patterns and passed this knowledge down from father to son. The wave patterns were then captured by a type of map that would guide them. This was called a “stick chart”. There were shells attached to the patterns of the sticks and the shells would represent the atolls. I am sure that it took a long time to become knowledgeable enough to understand the language of the map or “stick chart”. By being able to read the “stick chart” they were able to reach their final destination safely.
In many ways the Christians life mirrors the knowledge of the “stick chart”. We as believers need help in navigating life’s perilous seas also. We need to seek the help of His Word that has been given to us as our “stick chart”. As we reflect on His Word we can be encouraged to know that He is faithful in all of our life circumstances to provide us with guidance, encouragement and His Love.
So what is your “stick chart” in life? Is it truly the Bible, God’s Word, or do you rely sole on the advice from parents…friends…..what the latest polls say….or internet to name a few? There is only one way to be sure that you are on the right path. That can only be found in the guidance that is found in His Book. This will never fail you. Psalm 119:133…”Direct my steps by Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me”.
Seek direction and guidance in the Bible and you will always be headed in the right direction until you reach your final destination.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
"My nephew was killed today." I sit at my computer and read these words on the Facebook page of my dear cousin Curtis and my heart stops. I go into that mode where I doggedly try to gather information, sending emails and making phone calls, but with no luck. Tragedies take time to unravel.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the earth hear His voice! Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, Let the people rejoice! O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son, And give Him the glory, great things He has done.
The little church fills with the sounds of singing and I think of the words and am strengthened by the faith of this grieving couple. Burying their precious boy, yet singing Glory to our Lord....surely there is a lesson in this for me. What is my response when even the smallest of disappointments mar my day or even larger heartaches happen? I will remember this day, in this quiet little spot alongside the rushing mountain stream, and will seek to praise the Lord for the great things He has done.