Friday, March 18, 2011

Is The Door Open or Closed?

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name." Psalm 100:4

I love how the Lord has really gone to great measures to preserve our freedom of choice. Like no other God...I wonder how people can doubt in the Living God! He has in essence placed a door between us and He, but he has empowered us to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but apparently a grateful attitude is one of the most effective! So I'm thinking that a negative, complaining spirit, just might be the thing that closes the door to His Presence. Powerful/scary thought right? I never want shut Him out!

As with everything else in my life, I am learning that thankfulness is built on trust. When we are having difficulty in finding something to be thankful about, we really should check our foundation of trust. Simply, if we are trusting in the Lord, we must know He is going to come through with His very best. When thankfulness flows freely from our hearts and lips, I believe it draws us closer into His presence - I have in fact experienced this on many occasions. The secret in the art of giving thanks in all circumstances is to see how many times we can thank Him daily. Really, it awakens us to a multitude of blessings! Plus, there is the added bonus, which is ever present in my life, of the fact that when we open the door and "Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Making ourselves at home, talking praise. Thanking Him. Worshipping Him" (The Message), it cushions the impact of trials when they come up against us - and you know they do...all the time!

So, here I am opening the door to His Presence. Continuing on in the 1000 gifts list, and saying Thank You Lord for:

169. Your ever present Holy Spirit, continually pointing me to You!
170. Trials. They make us stronger.
171. Grace. Exactly when we need it and just enough of it too!
172. Time to learn to be disciplined...time with Him!
173. The smell of fresh cut grass - reminds me of life!
174. Rest.
175. Your hand of provision....never too short.
176. A strong foundation of trust.
177. Joy. In the midst of sorrow...a paradox only the Living God can produce!
178. Kyle. A boy who reminds me how Big God is!
179. A husband found on his knees in prayer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Monday, March 14, 2011

Felt My Eyes Start To Smile

It is no big surprise that I've been tired lately. For a little over a year now. It started back in April of 2009...I'm not going to go into the details, but trust me when I tell you that the Enemy of my soul has sought to eat me alive several times since then. There have been moments when I could smell his breath...and wanted to vomit (not literally, I'm being poetic here...but you get the idea!) However, I know, and have been confirmed by Godly people in my life that when you serve God, love people, try hard to follow His Word, and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to others...well, as my pastor just put it very plainly to me a few weeks ago..."Lisa, you have a bright big red target painted right on your head and heart!"

Needless to say, I noticed at the end of 2010 that in every picture of myself for that entire eyes looked weary. Along with all that "spiritual warfare" going on, I also have the Pop factor in my life...which leaves me physically exhausted and sleep deprived, not to mention homeschooling 3 different levels of children and being a Mom and wife. Ok...I better move on before I need some coffee. So, I prayed that 2011 you would start to see a change in my eyes.

I really believe that time away with my family is vitally important. I get about 31 phone calls a week regarding just church or ministry. (I know this because my husband kept track one week) ;P I would say that I meet one on one with people about 10 times a week...some consistently, others randomly. So you see, I need to learn how to balance all of this. Time away from my home is important. Time away with my family is extra special...their love rejuvenates me I think. (I kow I need some time with just my man too...that will happen one of these days)

So that is why we are trying to make a priority of "Making Moments for Memories." Here is what we did last week. (Our time is very limited as Pop is only in respite for a few hours 2 times a week.)

Here is my husband at our destination....Riverbreeze Park in Oak Hill, FL. This man is one of my biggest heroes of all time! He is an absolutely amazing man and I am eternally grateful for the gift he is to me and my boys. What an example!

We started our morning off at Bob Evans for breakfast! It was a blast...and it was under $20 (fit right into our budget!) My boys were so polite and well behaved and just precious...they really blessed the waitress. She said she had been doing this job for almost 30 years and have never met more well behaved boys in all of her waiting tables. She couldn't say enough. I was so glad because we don't get to go out to eat..(hardly ever)..very often at all. So you just never know!

However, they were as precious as ever...we just laughed and shared a simple breakfast together!
Here is Kyle spinning at the playground at Riverbreeze. I wonder how long that will last? Boys playing on the playground equipment. I cherish those moments.

Of course we brought Dodger..because we want to include him as much as we can on our family days. He is so used to us being around....and we..just love him! Every time we go on a hike/walk we find interesting stuff to talk about. Nature is one of my husband's it has rubbed off on all of us.
But, then we got a huge surprise...our adopted Grandma from Michigan Carla Sellars rode her bike over and played with the boys for a little...then we ended up at her home for a quick ride on her golf cart around her development. The boys absolutely adore her...and she you can tell.
You see, I think my eyes are starting to smile in this picture. A little bit. They still look somewhat tired, but it is an improvement. It helps to be around those you love and those who love you back. Totally grateful for friends like family, and the 4 most precious men in my life!

So that is it...until our next adventure...I wonder what we'll do the next time we catch a moment for making memories?

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Apple of His Eye...Part III

With memories flooding my heart and mind and tears in our eyes I held his hands and look right into his eyes. It what we girls do isn't...we look right into people's eyes.

I asked about the letter. What did he think? Did he already pray the prayer? Did he want me to pray with him?

"I want you to be here when I pray!" --that is what he said! Probably the most precious words I could ever hear. Whether it is from my Dad, my children or a friend at the altar. Praying along side a person as they pray a prayer for salvation, assurance of Heaven, is just the about the greatest honor of all! The Bible says in Luke 15:7 "In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!" I can tell you from first hand experience there is nothing quite like it!

I asked my Dad the questions. Did he understand? He wanted to pray, but was so shy. I prayed for him first, thanking God for bringing him to this place, asking the Lord to give him courage to take the next step. I remember being so empowered by the Holy Spirit as I prayed for my Dad. Then I held his hands tight and told him it was his turn. OH how we wept..right there on the hospital bed. We were a snotty mess, the two of us! All this time, alone, not one interruption. That was a divine appointment for sure! His prayer...I wish I could have bottled it up to save. I remember it being so simple, he mentioned Billy Graham in his prayer and told the Lord that he believed that He loved him just as he was. He invited the Lord to take residence in his life, asked him to forgive him of his sin, and thanked him for saving his life and thanked him for his daughter! I just embraced my Daddy and sobbed all over his hospital gown. We cried and we laughed.

Then it happened. Someone else came into the room. First a nurse. She asked if everything was alright? What was wrong? My Dad said, "This is my daughter, I have Jesus in my heart now!" He proceeded to tell every person that came into the room, that he now had Jesus!! (Confessed with his mouth!)

A few weeks later Dad was in a hospital in Philadelphia. It was there that the Doctor asked Pat (my step-mother) and I to talk with us privately. My Mike stayed behind to be with Dad. The doctor proceeded to tell us to get our things in order, Dad only really had 6 months to live. He can have some radiation, but chemo would not be helpful at this stage in his esophageal cancer. It would be a difficult ride! Pat decided it best not to tell Dad how long he was given to live. Wise choice knowing my Dad. However he knew he didn't have much time. While we were with the Doctor, my Dad sat my husband down and asked him to tell him about what Heaven was like! Mike sat with my Dad, bringing him the comfort of God's Word and prayer to take away any fear.
My Dad lived 9 months. Right when it started to get really really bad....the Lord mercifully took him home. March 12, Dad got a new name in Heaven, a new body, got to meet Jesus face to face, and hopefully saw my mother! Knowing my Dad...he danced on streets of gold too...his special dance that only I got to see! (twinkle toes) :) What an amazing gift for this daughter! Blessed assurance that one day....I will be with him! OH how I miss him. I wonder what he would have thought about my boys? When I snuggle with my kids, I always think of my Dad - Shane would have loved snuggle buggling with him! Brendan...sometimes has a smell that reminds me of Norman! Kyle, well, he would love my Dad with his whole he does so well!

Dear Daddy, I know you can't read this. But, as I sit here with tears flowing down my face I want you to know that I'm so thankful I had a Daddy who loved me unconditionally. Because of you, I could totally accept the Lord as my Father! So many have a poor God image because of their past experiences. Not me, Daddy!

So many years have passed. When I visited your gravesite, I would talk with you. I know it sounds silly, but it made me feel good. Mike has been so good to me Dad! You would have been proud! I was able to teach 9 years in a High School in NJ. I gave birth to three amazing boys Dad! I think you would have loved them! They would totally have worn you out. But you know what, they just saw you on video a few months ago and they talk about you now! Brendan's head has the Norman Sine smell! lol! I lost 14 babies trying to get pregnant, I wonder if you know them? I know this sounds crazy, but when I lost my first child, I remember seeing (probably in a dream) him with you...smiling!

Honestly Dad, these past few years have been very difficult for me. I sometimes miss being someone's daughter, someone's little girl. But I have to say, God has totally and completely filled your void Dad...and He really is the perfect fit! As I'm sure you know! The Lord has also been with me during these most difficult years/months/days. He has done amazing, miraculous things for Mike and I...He really is taking such good care of us! I love you Daddy! I miss you like crazy...for some reason...a lot this year! I'm not sad, no worries! Yes, I'm crying like a baby, but you my kids would put it..they're combo tears: tears of joy, sadness and just because I'm a woman! lol! I look forward to sitting at the marriage feast of the Lamb with you Dad....until then...I love you always...and forever in my heart! ♥

I think all the tears that have flowed while I wrote down these memories...have really be theraputic! If you've followed along, thank you for allowing me a place to be so private (so publicly). I hope you, in some way, if you've endured these past few posts, were blessed!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Apple of His Eye..Part II

I handed him the letter and walked downstairs. I remember the feeling in my stomach as I sat among the people in the cafeteria. There was no way I could eat or drink anything. I sat and I prayed. I prayed that my Dad would finally make a decision for Christ. I prayed that the Lord would heal him of whatever was making him so ill. I prayed that the Lord would give me many more years with my Dad. I prayed God's ultimate will to be done...because I knew...that no matter what, God had what was best in store for my Dad.

Twenty minutes seemed like eternity to me...meanwhile upstairs...eternity was beginning to be set in motion for my Dad. Here is the letter that I wrote to him 15 years ago:

June 1, 1995

Dear Daddy,

Do you know how much I love you? I love you so much that when we begin to talk about it we both begin to cry--it never fails. I don’t honestly think anyone can love you like I do!! I want you to know that I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is in control. You realize, I hope, that it was God and God alone that saved you back in November, and once again I am trusting in God to save you again. I trust the Lord Jesus, Daddy, He has brought us through so much. Do you ever wonder how I turned out the way I did? You know, you and Pat were placed in my life by God to save me from a life of pain and suffering. Many people hear my life story and are amazed that I turned out the way I did. But I always tell people that when I was in 2nd grade, I was staying with my Dad and Pat and they sent me to Bible Camp (Camp Shadyrest) in the summer. I learned at camp that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that all I had to do was to ask Jesus to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins and He would do just that. I learned that that was the only way I would get to heaven. So, I did Dad. I ask Jesus into my heart and He forgave me of my sins, and now I know I will spend eternal life with Jesus in heaven. If it wasn’t for you and Pat, I would not have done that then.

Daddy, that is the best feeling ya know! Knowing how much Jesus loves me and that someday I am going to go to heaven. Dad, I love you so much, I want you to have that same assurance. I know there is only one way to heaven - and that is just by asking Jesus to come into your life and to forgive you of your sins. Dad, I know you, you are a wonderful person. You’ve never done anything that you probably see as sin. But the fact is that we are all born in sin. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” That means that I was a sinner, even when I was 7 years old. That is why Jesus died. In John 3:16 the bible says “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” That is why God sent Jesus to this earth, so that He could die for us and for our sin and we would have a chance to go to heaven. One more verse -- Romans 6:23 “The wages of sin is death; but the GIFT of God is Eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” All you have to do is ASK, it is a free gift from God. He wants us to go to heaven, but He is so fair that he leaves us with the choice. I know you want someday to go to heaven Dad, and I am going to show you just how easy it is to do just that. It is not hard Dad, all it takes is asking. Jesus will help you live a life that is pleasing to Him. He already loves you so much Daddy! I’m sure you can see that. He saved your life, and now, as I am praying for you, I know He wants to save your life forever!!

Ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?
2. Do I believe that Jesus Christ was sent by God to die for our sins, and that He in fact died on the cross and shed His blood for me?
3. Do I believe that I am a sinner?

If you can honestly say yes to those three questions than you can be saved Dad! You can be saved!! Just pray a simple prayer: it can go something like this:

Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner and I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I also believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me and my sin, just so that I can have eternal life. I want eternal life. Jesus, please come into my heart today just as I am, and take away all of my sin. I love you Jesus, and I thank you for saving my life!

It is that easy dad!

If you say this prayer or one similar and you really mean it, God will do what
He promises and give you Eternal Life in Heaven.

Dad, I wrote this to you, because I love you more than words could ever express, and I want to know that we will always, and I mean always be together eternally!

If after you read this letter, and you want to say that prayer let me know. I don’t need to be there to pray with you, but I would love to if you want. I would be more
than happy to see my daddy accept Jesus as his savior!!

Love always,

Me ♥

You know that song that you love so much, the one you hear when Billy Graham is on TV. That is just what I have been trying to say in this letter.

"Just as I am without one plea, but by thy blood was shed for me!"

When I returned to my Dad's room exactly 20 minutes later...I found my Daddy, the man who fought for me, who always made me feel like I was the most beautiful, most intelligent, most delighted in child in the universe...the man that loved me so much and never had a problem showing it...there he was sitting up in his bed with the letter in his hands and tears all over his face. Soaked with tears...he saw me...waved his hand at me to sit by him. I remember taking a tissue to his face to wipe away his tears and a memory had flooded me. (The memory of when I was 4 or 5 years my Dad left my Mom, I did the exact same thing for her..took a tissue and wiped her tears. ) My parents were goodwilled people, but they were broken. It was an honor to be there for both of them, even though I'm sure, at the time, I had no idea what an honor it really was! Filled with emotion myself, neither one of us could talk for a moment. Then I asked about the letter.

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Apple of His Eye!

Would you like to take a walk down memory lane with me? I'm being very vulnerable here. In the next few days, I will post a blog related to a very bittersweet memory. If no one reads this, I understand, really, I'm writing it for two reasons: 1. So I can get it out of my mind when I sleep, and 2. So the memory can be preserved.

I wish I knew of a way to take VHS-C and put it on DVD so I can have what very little of my Dad's voice recorded in a safer place. For the first time in 15 years, I watched a video of my Dad. I remember the day I bought that camera, I bought it with the sole purpose of taping my Dad, so I could someday show my children who their Grandpa was - I got one 3 minute section of footage and that was all! But in it he tells me how much he loves me..those 3 minutes are locked in my heart forever. Next week it will be 15 years since my Dad's passing. My mother died when I was about 10 years old after my Father and his wife adopted me. My life story is complicated to say the least, but it is one where the Lord rescues a little girl, and well, it isn't finished yet. You can read my testimony in a poem I wrote here. This isn't about me, it is about my Dad. I think I'm gonna have to write a few blogs, I'm missing him more this year than I have in the past.
I was his only child, and the apple of his eye. He was a shy man and a brave man at the same time. He was a little stubborn too! I witnessed to that man my whole childhood and teenage life. His response to me was always..."I went up for salvation every week at the Salvation Army when I was little -- I don't need salvation anymore." It isn't about our timing is it? My Dad got very sick back in the early 90s, had a massive heart attack, got a pacemaker, and then he fought a battle with esophageal cancer in 1995-1996.

I'm pretty sure it is all about the Holy Spirit's timing...not about mine. So, I'm about to publish something that I've had tucked away on my computer since 1995 - mind you I was 27 when I wrote this...I haven't changed a is how it was the day I wrote it. I'll never forget that day, as long as I live.

Have you ever tried to read something, but your mind was distracted, so you have to read and read and read the same sentence over and over again? That was happening to me on June 1, 1995. I was having some quiet time and couldn't concentrate. So I sat at my computer and typed a letter. When I finished the letter I remember feeling a sense of relief, but urgency as well. So I got into my car that following Saturday morning, drove 2 hours south on the Parkway and Turnpike to the hospital where they were doing tests on my Dad. At this point in time, we did not know about the cancer, we knew he was sick and they were doing tests. I got to his room and he was so pleasantly surprised to see me. His face is etched in my heart and mind. I remember going into the room, Pat, his wife was not there..actually no one was there. I had some time to myself, to talk with him.

Instead of talking, I sat on his bed and put my head in his lap. Twenty seven years with my head resting on my Daddy...just for a few minutes. Even as I type right now..I'm having to remove my glasses because of the tears. I kind of miss being Daddy's little girl right now. Sometimes, during my quiet time, I imagine myself resting my head on Jesus' lap. Maybe that is because of this moment in my history.

After a few minutes of telling him about my students (I was a high school teacher at the time) and my plans to visit with him during the summer, I reached into my purse and pulled out this letter. I remember placing it into his weak hands. I handed him his glasses and gave him a kiss on the cheek, told him I was going down to the cafeteria for 20 minutes and we'll talk about the letter when I get back.

Stop back tomorrow as I publish the letter that I gave my Daddy to read.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Paradigm Shift

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

Last night was an important night for two brothers. Kyle & Brendan go to "Grapple", it is a church ministry for pre-teens where they "grapple" with questions concerning, themselves, God, the Bible. My boys love it! Apparently last night was on kindness. So I get into the car to bring them home and Brendan says this: "Tonight there were some new boys that were making fun of Kyle and telling him to shut up. So during big group time I went up to them and told them to go easy on Kyle, he's my brother and he has special needs." Kyle looked over at me in the car and said this: "Brendan was really being kind Mom. I'm thankful for him and he helped me, those kids were kind to me after that. I'm glad Brendan and I are brothers."

It is not always easy having a special needs child in your life. Most of the time, it is impossible for anyone to see Kyle's issues. However, when you are with him all the time, you can totally see differences. Brendan is a quiet, shy kid, kind of smart, and a rule follower. He doesn't like to make waves. This was a big step for him. I could not be more proud of both my boys. Kyle is understanding that sometimes being "funny" doesn't always make friends, just be Kyle is what we always tell him.

So this morning during devotions I took some time to allow us all to relfect on things we are thankful for. You see I am convinced that when we practice trusting and thanking the Lord throughout the day, He has an open channel through which His Peace can flow into us. Not to mention that thankfulness totally lifts us up above our circumstances, and my boys are living a very unusal circumstance with a grandfather that has Alzheimer's.

So I know that the Lord can do great things through people with grateful, trusting hearts and I want to foster that in my family. Where is the paradigm shift that is going to revolutionize our lives? It is in this simple remedy: Instead of planning and evaluation, practice trusting and thanking Him continually! Let's give it a try!

What are you thankful for this morning? Allow me the indulgence of recording what was spoken through hearts of all sizes in my living room this morning:

I'm thankful for...

Brendan: My family, my Bible, the rain - God's way of helping the fire, my pets, homeschooling, my friends, a great church.

Kyle: My brothers, my Mom & Dad, Pop is still here, all our friends, Jesus is my friend too, my life.

Shane: My family, homeschooling, snuggle buggles in the night and morning, my Mom & Dad, Dodger, rainbows, Jesus loves me, all the surprise blessings all the time.

Me: My precious gifts..moments like these with the my little arrows!