Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Studying Sin

I've had my Bagels & Blessings hat on for a few days now. I realize that I'm probably wearing myself a little thin with all the Bible study that I'm doing. I'm leading a Beth Moore study, just started Love & Respect with another couple, and I'm teaching a series on Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets the Free. While some of it totally relates and it is wonderful, I feel like I really cannot stay in one place too long.

Anyway, studying Lies we believe about sin. Wow! I realize that the problem of sin is really the topic of the entire Bible: how sin began and what God chose to do about it because He loves us that much. He takes sin seriously. In light of this and without divulging too much at this point (before my teaching) I just wanted to spend some time this morning practicing gratitude.

Continuing with my 1000 gifts

Thank you Lord for:

146. Making a way of escape for your people.
147. Your Word which provides instructions for life and living.
148. Your undeserved Grace and Mercy.
149. Loving us that much! (to send your Son).
150. The gift of time to study and the heart to want to.
151. Satisfying my needs in a sun-scorched land (or cold cracked land).
152. A husband that helps make learning Your Word fun and interesting!
153. Curious children who ask lots of questions.
154. Establishing Yourself as our authority in this home.

Romans 3:23-25 "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished..."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Our Dog Dodger

How could he not just steal your heart? Look at those eyes! We thought about this, (or I've thought about this) for some time now. It is the perfect time to raise a puppy. We are home all the time with Pop plus I homeschool..so really we are home all most every day, all day. By the time we are actually able to go away for a little bit, he should be trained well enough for someone to care for him (if we ever get to go camping in our new tent!)

So Dodger is our 9 week old hound/lab mix! The humane society was going to euthanize his Mommy while she was pregnant with 10 puppies. Pawsabilities, the organization we adopted from, rescued Autumn, our puppy's Mom, and she gave birth to 5 girls and 5 boys. I found out on Craigs List that Pawsabilities was showing their pups at Petco from 10-3 one day and my friend Katie and I took our children...just to look!

He totally chose me! I'm not kidding. I went over to the gated area and he practically jumped right into my arms. Love at first sight! The boys loved him too, but Dad was bent on "if we are going to do this, I'd like to give it to them on Christmas morning!" Well, thanks to Katie (whom by the way, adopted Dodger's brother and name him Tanner) brought both puppies back to her home for a week. So my boys could be totally surprised!

Well, my boys never in a million years would have thought they were getting a puppy. They pretty much thought my husband was Cruella DeVille, a puppy hater, since I told them that Daddy wasn't a dog person. (I had to think of something quick!)

On Christmas morning after a very long night...I let the kids open their stockings. In their stockings were those little caramel candies with the white cream in the center. Brendan saw that and immediately said..."Aww remember that caramel looking dog at the pet store?" Then at the bottom of their stocking was their annual ornament...it was a hound dog. Right after opening that..I brought the puppy out of the room. Brendan said it the best..."I almost could breathe, Mom!" They were totally in shock...couldn't believe it was theirs...to keep! So happy..we were all exhausted by the end of the day (puppy included). A special thank you goes to our Grandma Carole who sent us some money for Christmas. I'm looking forward to many fun/fond memories...if we can get past the "mouthing" stage and the "cat meets dog" stage...we are home free! He is a very good puppy!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Go Home Another Way

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Matthew 2:11-12

Krispy Kreme is a big thing in Florida. I had never heard of them until we moved here and it is all that, let me tell you! I have had maybe two or three Krispy Kremes in all of the 7 years I've been in Florida, but that are absolutely delicious. Pretty much everyone here loves them.

At our Christmas Eve service our pastor left a box of Krispy Kremes on every car window and we were instructed that since we came and had an opportunity to worship Jesus together (like the wise men) we were to go back to our home "another way" and deliver these donuts to someone who was working in our community on Christmas Eve. How beautiful of an idea!
I want to share my encounter on Christmas Eve...it was most definitely a divine appointment. I came home and before I had dinner needed to write these details down, so I wouldn't forget them!

As I went home "another way" tonight, Mike and I had taken two cars, so I went home alone. It was God's purpose for sure. I went to CVS and saw that there were already employees with their boxes of donuts. I stood in line at the photo section and was going to give it to the girl at the counter. She looked at me with my box and said..I think every employee has a box already. The woman in front of me looked back and said..."I'll take them!" and smiled, not quite making eye contact with me.

I looked at her and said, "would you like this box of donuts? I would love for you to have them along with my Merry Christmas wish to you!" She asked why we were giving them away and I told her I just had an opportunity to enjoy worship with my church family and we were encouraged to go and bless others who just might need it. She looked right into my eyes and said..."Well thank you, this is the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time." Her eyes welled up with tears and I placed my hand on her shoulder. I replied, "I guess this was supposed to happen just like this. I am glad this brought you a little joy." She responded with her crying voice and said, "My father just died two weeks ago, and I am having a very hard time celebrating anything." I put my purse down and looked right into her eyes and told her that I was sorry that she was in so much pain this Christmas, and that I totally understood. I relayed my own experience with her that my Dad had died of cancer 15 years ago 10 days before my birthday. In fact I video taped him a month before he died and have never been able to watch it. I told her that this very week, my boys and I were watching old home movies and sure enough I had the courage to see/hear my Dad for the first time in 15 years. I told her that I too shed many tears this week.

We finished our conversation with me saying that I would pray that the Lord would comfort her heart. She said she really could use that comfort. She asked if she could give me a hug and I so absolutely. When we embraced, she did not let go, so I held her head close to me as I whispered this short prayer in her ear.."Father send your Holy Spirit to comfort her heart, let her know You, the Prince of Peace and may she find joy in the midst of her sorrow." Amen. She sobbed right there in line at the photo section of CVS right here in Edgewater! I just couldn't believe it! If you read this and believe in the power of prayer...say a little prayer for Melissa!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

I can't believe it has been so long since I've written. December is a busy month, even though I purposely tried to slow things down. However, with that said, we still had a wonderful month of making memories and following traditions!!

I do so much baking this time of year that for Christmas Eve, when we have our Birthday Party for Jesus I let the kids take charge. We do cupcakes because...well, there is just too many sweets around this time of year. The last thing I want is a cake lying around.

It is just really special to be able to enjoy Pop every Christmas. My boys will forever have the memories of times like this with their Great Grandfather. Pop is going to be 93 in February. Above we are singing to Jesus!

The we do our traditional..."What God Wants for Christmas". Pretty much, it is the gospel message. Here Pop is opening the box that has Joseph in it! He had fun...that blessed my heart!

What God wants for Christmas was in box number 7. I make everyone look in box 7 and ask them what they see. In box number 7 is a mirror...so they know that God wants Pop, Shane, Kyle, Mike, Brendan and Lisa for Christmas. He wants our hearts, our love, our lives!

We then go and open a few grandparent gifts (always the same things...Hess Trucks & new Christmas PJs!) - my kids look forward to both!
Then, of course, my Kyle believes in everything! He'll tell you straight up...I believe in everything!! Brendan is skeptical and well Shane had enough..he had to know the truth. He has been so great about not saying anything to his brothers! Here are Santa's treats, and of course Brendan's note. Which of course I will reply..."If you really want to know...go ask your Mom!"

Later I will write about my encounter with a woman I met tonight as I went home from Church, "another way." It was a total divine appointment. Stay tuned. OH and I'm going to have to post a picture of our Christmas Surprise!
Merry Christmas to any and all that read this!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Taking Moments For Memories

Kyle spies something beautiful, wonderful and totally memory worthy! A family that hikes together, plays together and makes the most of their time together!
I have two newsletter articles to write, sleep to catch up on, laundry to sort, and studying to do...but I had to crank out one more blog, hoping that will clear my mind so I can complete my tasks.

I love the fact that we are trying to make it a priority around here to take some moments for making memories. We used to call it Sacred Saturday, when we could actually do something as a family on Saturday...now we take it when we can! It has been a struggle to get out of the house together as a family for a very long time. Mike's grandfather needs round the clock care and so it is virtually impossible, unless we take him with us, to go anywhere together. (Except for those times when someone watches Pop...and we have indeed been blessed from time to time with amazing people who will do just that!)

So on the days that Pop goes to Respite we are making an effort to enjoy one of those days out of the house! Side note here...let me just say how amazing the Council On Aging has been to our Pop and to us. They totally understand the needs of caretakers and how challenging it is. If you are in a situation where you are going to be caring for someone, look them up, they are wonderful!

Anyway, Tomoka State Park is where we chose to go on our first Moment for Memory Making Family Day! It was wonderful..chilly weather for us thinned blooded northerners, but wonderful all the same!

So we head out early in the morning...binocs on, bird book and tree book ready on hand!! It was absolutely beautiful! I think the park is noted for its live oak hammock with arching limbs covered with Spanish moss, resurrection fern and green-fly orchid were spotted as well. Love that as we walked there were rangers walking the trails too, so we could ask questions whenever we had one! We even saw some Florida holly! (So special because of it be so close to Christmas.) I have to say my favorite thing to see was the Florida Bobcat! YES!! Very cool! Couldn't get a picture though! Sorry! Next time..and there will be a next time...here is why:

Super interesting the way these live oaks twist and turn!

Timucuan Indians I'm sure once fished in this very spot!

As we passed through the ancient Timucuan village site of Nocoroco, a once thriving community along the banks of the Tomoka River. We asked our boys to imagine what it might have been like to live here a thousand years ago. We walked where they actually walked, were seeing some of the very same things. Wonderful, fun and educational!

As we were hiking along, really again, with no map or anything, we did come across this statue of Chief Tomokie! Interesting piece of art! You can learn more about The Legend of Chief Tomokie here.
Well, one of our big goals during these memory making moments is to see to it that our eyes begin to reflect our hearts! Psalm 103:4-5 says "He surrounds me with loving-kindness and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things!" That's what I'm talking about! Thank you Lord!

Kyle, Brendan and Shane can spy Mom and Dad...loving every single bit of this time together!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Value of Things Eternal

I'm a little nervous, and I'm not sure why. I've been vulnerable in the past, in front of large groups of people...sharing my testimony and teaching. However, I sit here, somewhat trepidatious about exposing my heart. Well, here it goes. Perhaps by the time I've completed this entry, you and I will be equally blessed.

I've recently taken a very good look at myself in my photos from 2010. Noticing something, I started to compare them to the pictures of myself in 2009. It was uncanning. I would pull pictures up to the screen and look...it was my eyes. I would see myself smiling, but in 2010 my eyes tell a different story than my smile. They look tired, strained, beaten down. It is true. I'm thinking that is one of the reasons 2010 doesn't show too many blog posts either. I was most definitely going through some serious stuff in 2010.

We are about to say goodbye to 2010..and I for one, am looking forward to it! There were many blessings, please don't misunderstand. God has been so good to me, my family, our lives. No doubt. However, my husband and I were under serious attack, really from the summer of 2009 until the present.
I don't need to go into all the details at this time of some of the serious attacks that we had to endure. There were times I felt like...wow..am I going to survive this battle? Some of what we went through was so clearly the work of the enemy to try to bring us down...that is what he does best..wears on you until you are beaten down enough that you finally give in. Oh, how on this side of things now, I can totally see the benefit in hanging on to God's Word!! So much of my passion for His Truth was birthed through this past year and a half of pain. Wounds that cut deep into my heart and the heart of my my husband. To make matters worse, Mike was unemployed for a good portion of these months. So add that circumstance to an all out onslaught of "twilight zone" type of attacks...you could possible see why my eyes might read: worn out!

Why these pictures? Most recently, this past week in fact, life has changed dramatically once again. While the changes are good on one hand, it still leaves this family in a place of holding. I understand how powerful the tongue is, as words that have recently been spoken that have literally attempted to tear my husband's heart into shreds. It has been most difficult for me to watch and hear, and know that those same thoughts are for me as well.

After calling someone to share good news about a family situation, my husband was deflated! He shared that conversation with me and afterwards we got on our knees and laid it at the altar. While I was on my knees, next to this man I've been married to for almost 20 years, it hit me, how many times we have knelt at this very place over the past 18 months? Grateful to a Father in Heaven to truly fights our battles and gives us supernatural abilities to forgive. Praise you Jesus, without that I am pretty sure we would not have survived. After praying, my husband puts his arms around me and says this: "You could have married anybody 20 years ago! Someone with a good steady job, making money, with a family who loves him and you! You could have had a house with decent carpeting and windows that work and aren't a danger to your children! You could have gone on vacations, and not have to be stuck here because of our situation, not able to get away even for a night with your family! You could have...."

I turned to this man, that I married on December 15, 1990, held his face in my hands, looked him straight into his tear filled eyes and with my own tears running down my face said this: "There was never and will never be a man on this earth that could be better than the one I am looking at right now! If I had married "anyone else", I wouldn't have the three most amazing gifts from God (my boys)! I am fully aware of the value of things eternal!! I have a husband who I can kneel at the side of our bed and take our burdens to the altar with! I have a husband whom I find sitting in his chair in the morning with the Bible opened up...and sitting next to him is his 9 year old son with his Bible opened too! I have a husband who is a Godly example for our sons! I have a husband who is not afraid to be silly and play games with his boys!I have a husband who lovingly cares for his 92 year old grandfather and actually gets joy from do so! I have a husband who goes out of his way to minister to the very people who have hurt him so deeply. A husband who is obedient to the Lord and His Word, even when the world would think he is insane! I have a husband who makes it a priority to pray for people and demonstrates that in his own home, with his own family! These are the things that are of worth! I don't care about windows that don't work, I don't care about carpeting that is horribly disgusting, I don't care about family/relationship drama, I care about the things that matter, the things that matter for eternity!! I have the utmost respect for this man I have had the honor of calling my husband for the past 20 years! I'm pretty sure that the Lord is pleased with this man as well!

Lord, may 2011 bring us joy not only in our hearts, but in our eyes too! Thank You for Your amazing love and for the man You gave me 20 years ago!