Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mom's Birthday

Today my mother would have been 89 years old.  It's been a bittersweet day remembering her and thinking about her and the impact she had on my life.

My earliest memories involve church.  She would get us up and dressed and ready and then take care of herself.  We'd get to church, sit on the pew and she would vigilantly watch us to make sure we were paying attention and not distracting those around us.  I remember my feet swinging.....swing, kick,thump, swing, kick, thump... on the pew in front of us and my mother's long arm that could reach over several children to THWACK! lightly crack me on the knee to remind me to be still.  I laugh when I think of it because within minutes, my legs were swinging again to the rhythm that played in my little head.

She took me to a quilting bee at church and rather than letting me run around, she had me pitch in and do something useful.  What might a little 6 year old do to help out at a quilting party?  Why, I threaded needles.  I stood at the corner of the table between several older ladies and threaded needle after needle.  I learned from her and them that no matter how small a job, it can make a big difference.  Now I'm the one needing help threading needles.

No matter how tired my mother was, she would read to us from a little devotion book called, Little Visits With God.  I loved those stories and looked forward to having her sit with us and read.  I always wanted more than the book had to offer...read another story, Mama!  Sometimes she would but more often she would save it for the next night.  From her lap, I learned to love God.

We didn't have much money but my mother could work magic from very little.  She could make the best biscuits and the best pot of pinto beans.  The door was always open and was never too tired to "stir around" and make something hot and tasty.  So many fun times were spent around our kitchen table or under the trees in the yard.  I learned that simple is best and good laughs and fun times make a meal special.

Once I came home from school, with friends, to find my mother sitting in her largest mixing bowl in front of the television.  Daytime television had something on about how a woman could reduce the size of her backside by wallowing around in a bowl.  My mother wasn't afraid to try anything and loved to have a good laugh over her adventures. I learned that adventures don't have to cost money and can sometimes be best right at home.

So many memories have flitted in and out of my mind today.  Mom was a remarkable woman, born in a home most would call a shack (she even called it a shack), sent by missionaries to private high school, self taught in so many things, passionate about life and her family and her flowers....and fishing.....Most importantly, though, Mom loved the Lord and served Him faithfully throughout her 87 years.  If I can be half that woman, I can be content.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Buenos Amigos!

This past Sunday our guest speaker, Pastor Pimentel from Brazil, spoke on friendships. What makes a good friend? How to be a good friend and the way Jesus modeled to us what a friendship should be.  It was an encouraging message and as the day progressed I was able to see how my husband and I and our kids had been blessed with friendships that our whole family could enjoy.  What a blessing it was!  We had a full house and we LOVED it!
See, I’ve never had any problems with friendships and being a friend. I believe that quote that says: “People come into your life for a reason, a season  or a lifetime “ and in fact I have people in my life that I have known since middle school. In all honesty it’s sometimes hard to maintain those friendships, especially when everyone doesn’t live next door anymore and each person has their own lives. For us though making the time for dinner once a month has continued to nourish that friendship and keep us bonded. Then there are the friendships that have run their course and I can honestly say I am ok with that too.
But after marriage finding mutual friends had been a challenge. My husband moved to Virginia from Montreal and so all his friends were mostly lost to distance and mine were all from the single scene and he wasn’t able to form a connection with them.  So for the first few years of our marriage I felt I was my husband’s only friend.  I started to feel guilty going out with my girls and when he would text me a question “what time do you think you will be home?” I would read “when are you coming home?.”  I wasn’t able to enjoy my time out with my friends as I felt I had to hurry home. It wasn’t really something that my husband had ever said to me, just something I felt inside. 
Fast forward finding ODBC (now GLCC) and beginning our walk as a family with Jesus. We were invited to a dinner a few years ago and something so simple was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with this family.  They are very special to us and have helped us in ways they probably don’t even know. The wealth of knowledge they shared on marriage and the time we spent over coffee talking about couple things are priceless. Just watching their easy going style, sharing their home even playing their family games have been wonderful memories for us. We even spend New Year’s Eve with them this year!  
They were at our house for a BBQ last night and my good friend tells the Pimentel’s how my husband and I are examples of the friendships he spoke on to them. I was so blessed and touched by her words. I just told the Pimentel’s that they were the same for us. I didn’t elaborate, because I don’t think I could have even begun to explain in words what they mean to us without crying and not making any sense at all. I hope they know that we feel the same way towards them and their family and that they have made a deep impact in our lives ♥  This song says alot of whats in my heart and what I wanted to say:

We have been so blessed in the friendships that we have made as a family in this church.    Our children and my husband look forward to the weekend so that we can spend time with these friends. The couple last night and another couple we spend time with almost every week have been so wonderful and a gift to our family as well. I will have to write about them in another blog as they are also so special to us J .
I thank God for these lovely people and that through them we experience love and friendship as well.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Don't be Discouraged

My heart has been heavy for a while now.  So many friends and acquaintances are going through such scary things and every day someone new is added.  Have you ever felt like the Titanic is sinking and  you're bailing with a teaspoon?  That's sort of how I feel, overwhelmed and worried, and fretful for my friends.

I read this today.  It's from Jesus Calling and I think it sums up what to do quite well.  I hope it brings you a measure of peace the way it did me.

I AM ABOVE ALL THINGS:  your problems, your pain, and the swirling events in this ever-changing world.  When you behold My Face, you rise above circumstances and rest with Me in heavenly realms.  This is the way of Peace, living in the Light of My Presence.  I guarantee that you will always have problems in this life, but they must not become your focus.  When you feel yourself sinking in the sea of circumstances, say "Help me, Jesus!" and I will draw you back to Me.  If you have to say that thousands of times daily, don't be discouraged.  I know your weakness, and I meet you in that very place.

Ephesians 2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus

Matthew 14:28-32  28 Peter said to Him, "Lordif it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 29 And He said"Come !" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lordsave me!"31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, "You of little faithwhy did you doubt ?" 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.

Monday, July 23, 2012

God Uses a Different Tree

Today's post is by Christi Hrin.

It seems to be a theme with Him I guess.  He started the entire perfect relationship with man and that wonderful Tree of Life.  Then we tore ourselves away from him with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and yet, miraculously, Christ repaired our mistake with the tree that made the cross.

Today, God used a young maple tree to whisper quite powerfully to me.

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamt of being a mom.  Of course I wanted to be an Olympic Gymnast, a missionary in Africa, and perform on Broadway, but at the core, more than anything I wanted to be a mother.  As time passed I grew from a child into a young woman and though I never trained for the games, or saw the Safari, or sang beneath the bright lights in New York;  in the year 2000 I was given my heart’s deepest desire, a precious baby boy.  In fact, by the year 2004 I was a mother of three beautiful children, two fun lovin’ boys and one beautiful little girl.  

I set into my role with enthusiasm.  My three kids were days of play dough and Crayola and nights of bubble baths and giggles.  I was “Mom”.  I kissed the boo boos, ran the nightmares away, conquered pacifier problems, and created kingdoms with sheets and chairs.  If you were looking for me, you would find me either in the cul de sac playing with chalk and bikes or in the kitchen cutting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in the right shape for each child. I could sing the opening tune to every cartoon on PBS, Disney Playhouse, and Nick Jr. and could make a cape out of any fabric.  I knew our favorite books by heart so I could read them from the front seat while my helpers held the book in the back. 

Years kept flying past and the shows changed from Bob the Builder to Ben Ten to Good Luck Charlie.  Games switched from Go Fish and hide-n-seek to Wii Bowling and Black Ops.  Lessons progressed from “because I said so” to “I trust you to make the right choice”.  Today I find myself the mother of a kind hearted yet stubborn 12 year old, an actively silly 10 year old, and a developing diva at age 8.  They are all capable, independent, and strong.  They can handle themselves in a crowd, alone, and one on one. 

If you are looking for me today, you might find me standing a little lost in my kitchen that I don’t want to clean again because it’s not that messy anymore.  There are many days where I am actually alone for hours as those perfect babies of mine are off conquering boredom and creating friendships on their own.  I have had to learn the difference between helping and hindering, supporting and spoiling, and the hardest, loving and letting go. 

-Enter the tree. 

I was walking home after dropping my daughter off at her theater camp (God be with the director), and I was kind of whispering in my heart to God.  My older son was at his friend’s house creating Minecraft kingdoms, and my younger son was again at the playground with two of his pals.  I, the “MOM” was once again, alone.  No little people to play chalk rockets with.  No potty songs to sing or black and white pictures to create colorful creations with.  What was I supposed to do with myself?  Was this really already happening?  Independence and strength in my children kind of hurt a little. 
As I walked and quietly shared my heart to God, I saw this young maple tree.  Just like many others that were planted at the same time as it, this maple still had wooden stakes on each side of it and a strong wire holding its trunk.  This tight system securely held this tree when it was young.  It helped to allow the tree to grow straight and strong through wind storms and blizzards regardless of the age or strength of the sapling.  The only problem was, the tree wasn’t young anymore.  In fact, it only looked young on the base of the tree.  Around the wire I could see where the tree was trying to grow out of its’ hold.  I stared with understanding as God was showing me that the same wires meant to hold the tree in its youth were actually stifling the tree’s growth and at the root, killing the tree.  All of the tree’s potential to be the brilliant maple that we would all stand in amazement of in the fall, was being denied by the very thing placed there in the beginning to keep it safe.

I took a deep breath as I felt God’s comfort come over me.  My children would grow.  My children would leave.  But my God would always be with me and I could trust that He would be with them too.  I felt a gentle reassurance that just as He had been with me through each age, he would be with my kids and I could let go a little.  Back when I was in pig-tails dreaming of being a mommy, He was whispering to me about my destiny.  In college when I met that tall and handsome Marine who would become my husband, He was whispering to me about love, desire, and honor.  As I parented toddlers He whispered daily to me about trust and mercy in my new role. And even now in learning the first steps of letting go, He was telling me, it was okay, He was big enough, and I really could Trust Him. 
I walked from the tree and smiled at my God’s beauty.  From this suppressed tree He had spoken a powerful message.  I ventured home with a new rhythm to my stride and a deeper understanding of not only my role, but my God and his deep, deep love for me.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Girls, Games, Giggles

Choose Your Table
Game night was a rousing success and we can't wait to do it again!  Nearly 30 women gathered and went head to head over games such as LOGO, UNO, Pictionary and Scattergories.  Some stuck with old favorites and others chose to unwrap brand new games, dig out the directions and learn some new skills.  We had lots of laughs and made some new friends and we left saying, "When is the next one?"  The answer is soon and very soon!

Pick your game, in this case LOGO.

Have a few laughs....wonder what Hollis and Karen are giggling about?

Patty is a champion time keeper!

Sarah and Anne are up to some tricks with UNO.

Sylvie, Nicole, and Mystique test out their Pictionary skills.

Sandy and Martha

Hollis and Karen

Mystique and Paula (yay some young ladies came!!)

Serious about Scattergories!

We had such a nice time!

Even squeezed in some quiet chats.

Time to Hustle...leading to, "When are we going to have a dance night?

Need to try that LOGO game!

Finished off the evening with a drum solo from Janda!  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today's post is written by Kelly Wayland.  

A few weeks ago I started to get an ingrown toenail and since I'm prone to getting them and they usually fix themselves,
I didn't mention it to my parents or think anything of it. Not until I woke up one morning in tears from the pain or it
being extremely infected. I let my mom know and she called the doctor, who wouldn't be able to see me until later that
afternoon. I had to be at work at noon so we decided to go to the ER in hopes that it would be a quick trip and have me
at work on time.

Surprisingly, they called me back within about 10 minutes and the doctor came in shortly after. He looked at my toe and
told me he would have to remove about a third of the nail in order to get the ingrown part out. He told me he would give
me "a couple" numbing shots in my toe so I wouldn't be able to feel any of the procedure happening. He then left the room
to get his supplies.

Just the mention of having to get shots in my toe made me SO nervous. I was telling my mom how I was scared of needles
and how nervous I was. She told me to imagine being at the beach with my friends or think of something else that made me
happy. So, with this in mind, the doctor came back in the room and told me to lay down and relax.

Well, it was near impossible to "relax" as he began poking the needles into my toe. The first shot didn't bother me too
much, but it seemed like he kept jabbing more and more needles in my toe. I began to squirm and the pain got worse and
worse. The whole time my mom was standing right there with me telling me to "take deep breaths". I heard her words and
tried my hardest to do what she was saying but it was so hard to take deep breaths between the sobs and trying to not kick
the doctor in the face.

Finally, the shots were over and my mom was still right there by my side and now she had a tissue for me to wipe the tears
from my eyes. Where the doctor said it would be "a couple" shots, my mom said she thought she counted him do at least four.

Through all of that and through my healing time in the days after, my mom was there for me whenever I needed her. Whether
it was to help me bandage my toe up, to give me a ride somewhere (I was prescribed Vicodin, so was unable to drive), or
just to hang out, she was ALWAYS there and ready to help me with whatever it was I needed.

I'm so lucky to have such a great mom that is ready and willing to take care of me whenever I need her.

Thank you so much for everything, Mommy! You're the best! Happy birthday! 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ladies Game Night

Friday, July 20th, we'll be having a game night for the ladies of GLCC.  It starts at 7pm and goes until 9pm.  Light snacks, good tunes, fun board games are on the lineup for the evening.  Call your BFF and get on over to the church for a few hours of air conditioned fun.  We promise, NO TWISTER:)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Trust Me

I spend a lot of time awake in the middle of the night. Do you?  Everyone in the house is sleeping and my husband is gently breathing next to me, but I lie there awake.  Try as I might I can't get back to sleep and often I'm there for hours before drifting off.  Sometimes I get up and clean or read or pray.  It's an interesting but solitary existence, alone in a full house.

I suppose I'm a worrier.  I never thought of myself like that.  I always thought I was a happy go lucky kind of gal, roll with the punches, God will provide, etc.  Que Sera Sera, what will be will be.  I've found out differently and I roll worries around in my head like marbles in a box.  Some nights are better than others.

Recently our pastor preached about living in the now and not in the past where regrets linger, or in the future where we have no control.  It's such a simple concept yet such a difficult thing to do.  It requires trusting God for this moment, the only one that matters right NOW, and not kicking ourselves over things we can't undo or wringing our hands over things that may never happen.  So simple but so hard to change a mind that's like Times Square and the city that never sleeps.

I don't know what's going to happen with my children.  I don't know if they'll do well in school, get good jobs, marry nice ladies, have smart kids, follow Jesus faithfully....  I don't know if my husband will succumb to the Alzheimer's Disease that has ravaged his family. The thought terrifies me but I can't stop it if it's coming no more than I can stop the sun from rising.  But, I can trust that if it does happen, and he starts the long descent into oblivion, God Almighty will be there to walk with me through it.

So many questions but such a BIG God!  Thank you Father for loving us and walking with us through the dark nights and for promising to never leave us or forsake us.  We trust in YOU and praise YOU and give you our cares because you are willing to take them.

Psalm 9:10
 Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 56:3
When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
Isaiah 12:2
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."

Friday, July 13, 2012

Visiting Dad

Today's post is by Christian Fowler

The feel of the grass beneath your feet and wind in your hair as the birds are chirping, rather than the feel of a soft couch and the air conditioning on your skin, while kids are laughing and playing, and grownups are chatting and playing cards; makes for a different kind of “visit.”

 Spending time with my dad has changed a tad over the past year. I still love him and desire his advice, hugs, love, joy, example, and of course to hear his voice, but it’s not quite the same. It will never be what it used to be. When you have to start watching home videos simply to hear his voice, curl up in his bed with his favorite pillow and blanket just to feel like he’s near, when you have to dig through old photos just to see his smile... a real smile, one that when you see it you know that smile was before the pain started; before the family was broken. Running to a grave and desperately hugging a tombstone rather than his body, as though the tears you shed will bring him back isn’t my favorite kind of visit but nobody knows why things happen the way they do.

 People keep telling me that with time it’ll get easier, but no; time hasn’t made anything easier. Time will not bring my father back and make it so that I’m no longer talking to the wind and day dreaming about what his response could and would have been. Time will not wipe my tears, or tell me everything will be okay while wrapping its arms around me. Time can’t fix anything, but Jesus can.

 As my relationship with Christ has grown, even over these past few months, it has been easier to go to his grave and simply smile in remembrance of him rather than feel anger at having to say goodbye so soon. Christ will see you through, even when “time” can’t. Let Christ be your grassy surface and lay your loved ones in Jesus’ arms. Everyone knows they would rather be resting in the arms of Christ than in pain on some old comfy couch.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Envelope

I want you to think about someone.  Think about the person who gets on your nerves the most.  The person who criticizes you, belittles you, maybe puts you down now and again....that's who I want you to think about.  You walk away when you see them coming or if you HAVE to spend time with them, you grit your teeth and bear it and count the hours until the gathering is over.  Have you thought of your person?  I have, or at least I've thought of the person who used to make me feel that way.  My mother-in-law.

One day she sent us an envelope, a rather large envelope stuffed with papers.  John looked them over and set them aside but didn't comment on what they were.  I moved them here and there and finally opened the envelope and read the stack of papers inside.  I read and read and slowly the scales fell from my eyes and I was changed.

Imagine that person who irritates you.  Imagine they had the opportunity to sit down with a counselor and for years, they poured out their heart to that person.  Imagine that they went home and wrote down everything they shared with the counselor.  Now, imagine them sending it to you....the person who grits her teeth when she sees them coming....the person whose heart is bitter and hard toward them out of a sense of self protection.

Pandora had a box and in my case, Irene had a manila envelope.  All of her pain and suffering, loss and despair came spilling out on those pages.  I read of a struggling marriage and of miscarriages.  Divorce and despair were followed by a slow descent into a mental illness.  Her children were lost to her for a while as she struggled to climb back from the abyss and she wondered if she would ever live with them again as their mother.

I couldn't put those pages down and as I finished the last one, I realized that the woman who had caused me so much pain over the years was suffering as well.  I saw her with new eyes and at last I was able to understand why she had held so tightly to her son....so tightly because she had already lost him once and didn't want to lose him again.  I cried as I put the evidence of her brokenness back into the envelope and prayed to the Lord right there that I could love her the way she needed and the way I should have loved her all along.

I'm thinking about YOUR person, the one you have trouble loving.  I'm thinking about the envelope arriving at YOUR house and YOUR chance to read about their pain and brokenness.  Do you think it will make a difference at all?  The only thing I know is that I was called to change and love her, even when it was tough.  I was called to look into someone's heart and see them as God sees them.  I'm thankful I had the envelope and the chance to love better.

I Peter 4:8 
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Great Books for Book Lovers....revisited

If you're like me, you have tons of books in your "to be read" stack, yet you are always on the lookout for new ones. It's a sickness but such a fun one! This list is from the ladies of our church (and friends) FOR the ladies of our church (and friends). We'll update it regularly and feel free to comment in the comments section to add one of your faves. We can always buy a new bookshelf, right?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett....recommended by Mia Waller
Heaven is Real by Todd Burpo.....Karen Emkes
Mitford Series by Jan Karon....Cindy Wayland
Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson....Cindy Wayland
Yada Yada House of Hope by Neta Jackson.... Cindy Wayland
Shadow Women by Angela Hunt.....Lisa Wright (friend of Paula Keller)
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith...Paula Keller
Crazy Love by Francis Chan....Susan Hickerson
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall....Susan Hickerson
A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers....Esther Booth
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers....Jennifer Blaschke
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese....Jenni Booth (friend of Paula Keller)
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah....Sally Hagenhoff
When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin....Sally Hagenhoff
Promise Me by Richard Paul Evans....Sally Hagenhoff
Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier....Sally Hagenhoff
The Walk by Richard Paul Evans....Sally Hagenhoff

More to come as our friends share....stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Trusting God!

Written by Adriana Prada Guerrero

The theme for VBS this year was TRUST GOD! and that is exactly what I had to do all last week! Back in March or April (I forget) I remember Pastor Steve and Pam asked me if I was going to be serving in VBS and I said yes but was unsure where. So they asked me if I would be willing to teach one of the Bible Stations and I went "eek!". I prayed about it and really felt like God wanted me to do it (even though I was honestly petrified with the idea of teaching over 200 kids plus their adult crew leaders). By doing VBS in this capacity I had to confront several painful experiences (both from my old church along with my old job) regarding my ability to do this. I consider myself a somewhat unique child of God...I'm loud, spunky, "filter-less", not your typical Proverbs 31 woman so I felt incredibly inadequate to do this. I was afraid of being rejected, I was nervous about getting the Bible stories wrong; the week before VBS I was a hot mess. However, God once again used VBS to meet me where I was. 

Day one of VBS was "No matter who you are....TRUST GOD!". As many times as I told the Lord "Father I'm so unworthy to be teaching your word" He responded to me "but you are worthy because you have Me".

 Day two was "No matter how you feel....TRUST GOD!". As I cried to the Lord about feeling absolutely terrified He once again gently reminded me that I can trust Him because He will be working through me.

 Day three was "no matter what people do....TRUST GOD!". As the enemy brought back the horrible things people have said to me and have done to me which usually keep me down I knew that if He was leading me to teach the Bible then He was going to give me what I needed to do it!

 Day four was "no matter what happens....TRUST GOD!". On this day we were sharing the Gospel and I was so worried about getting it wrong. What if I didn't lead any children to Christ? And then I remember that I am not in charge of the results! God is and all I had to do is present the message and rest in Him that the Holy Spirit would be working in those children's hearts. 

Day five was "no matter where you go....TRUST GOD!". This was our last day of VBS and I was very emotional because I felt so humbled to have been used by God in this way and know that 450+ seeds had been planted in the hearts of Children. 

 Sometimes as adults I think we try to complicate the Bible when His truths are so simple...we just need to Trust Him! Trust Him with our lives, with our dreams, with our children, with our husband, with everything we are and everything we have and that is what VBS taught me this week!