Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Getting to Know You

Here are some things you may or may not know about me!

1. I love artichoke hearts and can eat them straight out of the jar. They are tasty on pasta salad, too.

2. I think I have done every single study by Beth Moore (except maybe David?) and I love them all. She is so anointed and I would love to have a portion of what God teaches her!

3. I love musicals. I used to sing in them when I was younger. I even tried my hand at opera in college. It was great fun...especially when I got to be the "pregnant" lady "La Ciesca" in Gianni Schicchi. I still enjoy going to Little Rock to see productions at Murray Dinner Theatre. A dream vacation would be to hit all the Broadway shows in New York.

4. I am not a big talker. I would much rather just sit and let others carry on the conversation. It makes me a good listener, but then I realize that people don't really know much about me.

5. I hate road trips or being in the car for a long period of time. I would much rather fly or better yet, blink my eyes and magically appear at my destination. This makes traveling quite hilarious in our family. I hate potty breaks and get irritated if Eric wants to stop for a cup of coffee. Just get me there, already, and then I can enjoy myself. (If I could read the whole way, that would change things up a bit, but I usually get car sick.)

6. I don't enjoy watching movies over and over again. If I have seen it already, it is pretty much torture for me to make myself sit through it again. (Unless I absolutely LOVE it.) I just feel like I am wasting time. Eric, on the other hand, LOVES to rewatch stuff and will often come home for lunch and watch just 30 minutes of a movie...therefore, taking him all week to get through a movie.

7. I wear makeup everytime I leave my house. Call it vain. Call it insecure. Call it whatever you want. It just is what it is.

8. When I was in High School, I either wanted to be a Christian Counselor or an OBGYN. (hee)

9. I can't handle it when the covers are messed up while trying to sleep. They have to be in perfect order.

10. I didn't play sports growing up. (shocker, huh, hahahahaha) I wish I had played something, so that trying to be active wouldn't be so hard these days.

OK, how about you?
I tag Paige, Heather, Cassie, Nic, Savannah, and Bekah

Monday, April 26, 2010

Guest Writer Monday: Kelli

Kelli is our guest writer today! Her post hit close to home. Leave her some love.

The Answers We Want…and Sometimes Don’t

My six-year-old is desperately afraid of thunderstorms. He is so obsessed with weather that he studies it with the fervor of one who is trying to crack the genetic code to life itself. He checks out library books about storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes. He watches the weather channel and keeps us abreast of the circulating patterns throughout the Continental US. He knows and can recite all thirteen states in Tornado Alley and knows the month and year that the largest F5 tornado occurred in Illinois.

In short, the kid knows weather. The only way I can describe his obsession is that he is trying to keep his enemy close. And at the mere sight of a dark cloud, he nervously recounts all of these facts in painful, dragged out detail. Like a skittish little bird he chirps on and on about wind gusts and storm warnings, until I find myself sucking in deep breaths because he doesn’t appear to be breathing himself.

It is a fear and obsession that Lee and I are constantly working on with him, teaching and instructing him about God’s Sovereignty and His control over the winds and the storms. We pray with him and he has in recent months begun praying himself, beseeching God with the innocence of a child to “destroy” the tornadoes and keep them away forever.

Saturday, we had our first big spring storm. As the kids were playing, suddenly the tornado sirens began screaming their high pitch warning and the TV switched the our local newsman who droned on and on about wind speed and velocity and tornado sightings in the area. And then we heard the dreaded words – “This storm appears to be moving quickly in the direction of West County. Areas who could be affected are Ballwin, Chesterfield, Ellisville, Des Peres, Wildwood…”

Um…we live in Ballwin. And thus began the waterworks. He began the machine gun crying – terrified little sobs bursting out in short staccatos. “D-d-d-aaaaadd-dd-yyy, will you praaaaay?” he cried. And so we did. We all piled on the couch and prayed. We prayed for protection and peace. And then Sloan took over because apparently we were not being firm and direct enough in our prayers.

“God? You are in control and we know that you are all powerful and that you died for our sins and I asked you in my heart and please God, please. Destroy. All. The. Tornadoes. and don’t let anyone get sucked up or killed.”

A tornado did touch down several miles from us, but thankfully no one was hurt and there was minimal damage to landscaping and trees. But since the great storm of 2010, we have had a lot (a LOT) of conversations about storms and God’s control.
As we drove home from church yesterday, Sloan told us that he was going to pray to God 1,000 times a day and ask Him to destroy tornadoes and keep them away forever. “And He’ll do it if we pray 1,000 times. I know He will because He will hear our prayers.”

As we discussed this with Sloan, we reminded Him that God knew His heart and that He didn’t need to pray 1,000 times every day for God to destroy the tornadoes. “God is in perfect control and we need to trust Him completely.” We then suggested that Sloan pray for peace instead.

And it struck me. How often do I pray the same thing over and over – 1,000 times per day in the hopes that God will answer it my way. That He’ll give me the desire of my heart because I begged hard enough? Am I not proving my own lack of trust? Am I not revealing myself to be equally childlike in my faith?

“Sometimes God calms the storm, Sloan,” I said. “But other times he calms the child.” Thank you Scott Krippayne for those immortal words (even if my husband did crack up at my early ‘90’s Christian music reference). Cheesy Christian ballad aside, the words are so true and it’s such an easy message to convey, but when the storm rages around us, how often do we actually sit back and let it rage while tucked away in the firm grasp of our Father? Do we let Him comfort us, or do we rage back and fight against the storm, praying 1,000 times for God to take it away?

Sometimes, God answers our prayer and keeps the storm at bay – as He did yesterday when the tornado bypassed our home. Other times, however, He allows the storm to rage forth and instead shows us the grace of His protection. And in both scenarios, He proves Himself faithful…

“He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?’ Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed and said, ‘What kid of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?’”
Matthew 8:26-27

Sunday, April 25, 2010

How are ya on this fine Sunday evening?

Well, it is Sunday evening. I love everything about Sundays, except that small twinge in the bottom of your stomach that creeps up on you when you realize that the weekend is almost over and another Monday is just around the bend.

What did you do today? I sang at church, ate a crockpot chicken and rice recipe, shot this session, watched the boys' pet toads, shuddered at the boys' crickets that are food for the pet toads, and rehashed the newest story by Ted Dekker: The Bride Collector. I just love him. I can't help myself.

Hey, I am in need of some yummy crock pot recipes. If you have a winner, will you blog it?!

Thanks. Hugs.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Do you remember that show? A cute little blond would wiggle her nose and things would just magically happen. Nice.

I was thinking about this: if I could wiggle my nose and let anything happen instantly, what would it be? I can let it happen everyday.

I think it would either be exercise or getting ready. Want that piece of chocolate cake? Just wiggle that nose and you will have exercised it right off! Want to sleep in an extra 30 minutes? Just wiggle that nose and you can automatically be ready as soon as you hop out of bed.

What would you pick?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Forsaken Gem

A few weeks ago, Cade's class did a special presentation of a song that had been set to sign language. His class surrounded the cross, laid down their crowns, and then performed something that was nothing short of pure worship. It still brings tears to my eyes. When they were through, the kids passed out small gemstones...a small reminder of who we are in Christ.

At the moment, I knew that the tiny gemstones wouldn't make it very long in boyland. Today, that assumption became reality. As I was sweeping, a bright hot pink sparkle caught my eye. It was covered in dirt, crumbs, and dog hair. It was the gemstone. Cast aside. Forgotten. God gave me a mental picture of how I feel right now in life.

I just want Him to look upon me in remembrance. Favor. To have Jesus silent is like death to my soul. I feel forsaken. My soul is starved for a fresh word. I just want a mighty hand to reach down amongst the dirt of life and pick me up. Dust me off. Tell me once again that I have value and significance.

I just can't even tell you what kind of desert we have been in for the past couple of years. If not grief, then financial hardship. If not financial hardship, then grief. The soul gets weary after awhile and we have been tempted to throw our hands up at God and scream, "Are you with us, or not?" I believe that it is in His character to be strong and mighty to save. I am just ready to praise Him for the manifestation of that character. And yet, God is telling me to praise Him even when my circumstances don't match what the Word says.

Psalm 83:1 says "God, don't shut me out; don't give me the silent treatment, O God." I think that may be my worse fear: that God would one day stop talking and never resume. It would strip away the very essence of what I know as joy and life. I know His word says otherwise...that He will never leave or forsake us. But, when He remains silent, when there seems to be no 'abundance left in His wake,' then I tremble with thoughts that just maybe, I have been forgotten. I know deep down it isn't true, but the feelings still surface and I feel like the hot pink gem cast aside in a pile of dirt.

And, so, I quote scripture to get the whole truth of the matter to override my feelings.

"The Lord remembers us and will bless us...he will bless those who fear the Lord, small and great alike."

"He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them."

"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand."

"But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name's sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me...save me in accordance with your love...for you stand at the right hand of the needy one."

The faith of many people I know seems to be getting a healthy dose of "testing." Will we throw up our hands and say "fu-getta-bout-it" or will we choose to be steadfast, even when everything around us says otherwise.

I am a gem cast aside in a pile of dirt. I live in a world that isn't my true home. But, one day, God's mighty arm will reach down and yank me out of here. The sooner the better, Lord. The sooner the better.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Moms and Muffins

It was "Mom's special day" at school...so Moms parked in every nook and cranny of that place in order to get a little glimpse of their prized possessions: their kids. We were treated to apple fritters, juice, and special things the kids made. It was a fun way to start the morning. Here are Eli's special words to me...

Next stop: Cade's class!

His class made canvases! They each painted a canvas, wrote a special tribute, attached a picture, and sealed it with some special coating. What a treasure! I love it!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Land of Heifers and Dreams

Heifer International was founded by Dan West many years ago. His vision was to "family by family", provide nourishment and allow that family to pass on the gift as well. A family may receive a camel, goat, chicken, or heifer, allow the animal to have a baby, and pass on one of the animals to another family so they might have access to at least some of the 7 "M's". (See pic below.) It is a wonderful idea...a very successful idea. I just love it when things take off and change the world one family at a time...all because of one person's dream. They originally started shipping impregnated heifers overseas because they wouldn't have to worry about milking them on the journey. The heifers would soon give birth once they arrived in their new destination and the recipient family would not only have a source of muscle, milk, manure (for fertilization of crops) and money (can sell extra milk) but they can also bless another family with the baby calf that grows up. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Eli's class got to tour the ranch today and learn that life isn't always about one self. love that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Guest Writer Monday: Heather

Heather is sharing with us today! What a good word...be encouraged and enjoy this day that the Lord has made for us!
“From There”

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deut. 4:29)

Deuteronomy 4:29 is one of those verses we have all read and said a million times. So common. We almost skim it because we know it so well. But this last week, when I saw it, something new jumped off the page at me. (Don't you love how God is faithful to do that with His Word if we just take the time to notice?!?)

At the beginning of the verse, it says "But if from there, you seek the Lord your God..." "FROM THERE." Those two words stood out to me like never before and I began to ask and wonder "Why?"

It didn't take me long to get an answer. You see, I have been struggling with my "Quiet Time" lately. My actual "sit down and do nothing but read and listen" time with the Lord has been hard to come by...and just to be honest, many days it is non-existent. It's not that I don't pray and talk to Him...or even that I don't read a little bit of scripture here and there...but actual TIME spent sitting at his feet.....not so much.

I can clearly remember what my "Quiet Time" looked like before I got married and even before I had kids. Bible spread out on the table surrounded by Bible Study book, Message Bible, highlighters, bible marking pencil, prayer journal, index cards, etc. I could get up and spend at least 30 minutes really reading and studying. I could pray with focus. And I just felt overall more spiritually "grounded" and equipped.

These days, there isn't much quiet around here. Even when I try to get up earlier than the kids, there are so many things clamouring for my attention, and focus is hard to come by. And I love it, I really do. I love my life, my kids, being a stay-home Mom...but I struggle with how to get some real "Quiet Time" with the Lord in the middle of all that.

Don't get me wrong...I know this is a season. And I wouldn't trade these years with my kids being little and requiring so much attention for ANYTHING. There will be PLENTY of time for me to have hours and hours of quiet time- uninterrupted. Right now I just want to take in every second of them and continue to enjoy all the blessings of this sweet season of life and motherhood. I really even feel a peace from the Lord about what my time/relationship with Him looks like right now. But sometimes I still want more. And reading this verse this week just helped encourage me that I can have it. Even in the midst of life right now, I can have it.

"From there." Seek the Lord from there. I started thinking about my "there's". All the places that I find myself in a given day where I need to pause and center my heart and thoughts on Him. The preschool drop off line. Taking a shower in the mornings. Running on the treadmill. Lunch conversations with Connor-boo. Rocking Avery Kate to sleep. Folding laundry. Cooking dinner. Running errands with the praise music blaring in the car. Cleaning house. Climbing into bed at night. And the list goes on. There are all sorts of "there's" where I can get some good time with the Lord, if I will use it.

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him..."

He's there for me to find. I just have to take advantage of the moments and seek Him with my whole heart and soul. Not be distracted by the demands of the day or moment...but use them for seeking and focusing on God. Seek Him FROM THERE. We all have "there's" where we can apply this. And just imagine the rewards for our spirits (and the rewards for our families as we "fill our cups" more!) we will find when we do this.

Lord Jesus, help me to seek you from there today and every day. Thank you for my "there's." Sometimes I get so frustrated at busy-ness and distraction, but these very things are actually blessings in my life. Thank you that we live in a country where we are free to worship you at any moment without fear of persecution. Help us to take advantage of every opportunity to seek You and know You more. Thanks for loving us so much and promising that You will be found by us when we truly seek You.

{The above is Sam...featured as a "Testament Focused" picture...it went right along with the Deuteronomy verse and I couldn't resist!}

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Catch Up!

What a weekend! We drove up to NWA to see Eli participate in his state speech meet. The boy did amazingly well! He said he didn't even get nervous. His enunciation, speed, and eye contact were on target. His dimples didn't hurt, either. He came away with "Superior Silver" which is really good! I think it was a great experience for him.

Of course, the icing on the cake was that we got to see my family all weekend, too! We went to see "How to Train your Dragon" in 3D....which was all three boys' first time to see a 3D movie. What a hoot! Sam kept wondering why things were coming out of the screen. I was a little shocked he kept the glasses on...he did great! I love this movie and recommend it...great storyline!

Mom blessed us with her cooking...biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast, brisket, green beans, wilted lettuce salad, hot crush potatoes, yeast rolls and peach cobbler for lunch...yummy! When we got back home, we celebrated Eric's brother, Zach's bday with him and I could hardly eat a bite! You know I was full if I passed on a chocolate cupcake and coffee!

It was a nice mini get-away. Now, I leave you with photos from last Thursday when a bunch of blog moms got together for a little play date with the kids. The girls put on bride's dresses while the boys splashed in mud puddles. It is always refreshing to see my blog friends in "real life!" Love it when we can get together! Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The 1st Annual Gal Corral!

I can hardly stand to see a child in need. It shreds my heart out, ripping sinew by sinew until nothing is left but a dull ache and a scream towards God that says, "Can't you do something about this?" And His response is usually, "Why don't you take a stab at it..."

Soaring Wings Ranch is a home for children needing a second chance. Whether through neglect, abuse, or another circumstance, children are brought into a "spacious place," a home full of love, respect, discipline, and of course, Scripture.

At exactly this time last year, I was introduced to the concept of "Ranch Hands," a group of ladies that would be forming to somehow in some way, further bless the kids and house parents out at the ranch. We didn't have anything to go on except desire. And God blessed that.

A group of around 15 women met monthly last summer until a few parameters were set concerning our vision and strategy. I think our vision will always remain the same: love the house parents and kids in a practical and tangible way. The strategy will be ever changing and morphing into whatever God lays on our hearts.

So, last night, a new strategy of making other women aware of the Ranch was birthed in the form of the "Gal Corral." I only have one word for last night and that is "Awe." There were over 200 women in attendance! The fact that the event went off beautifully and without a hitch is one thing, but to have that many more ladies exposed to the vision of Ranch Hands was quite another. I was simply blown away at Mighty God.

My prayer for each child that enters the Ranch has been that he or she is redeemed and also restored. I have been praying that God would work a true healing in each life starting from the inside and working outwards from there. The Ranch provides a place of peace and security for each child. I believe that Jeremiah 33:6 can become a reality for these kids once they receive their new God-given home. "Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security."

Lord, we give thanks to you. You are good and your love endures forever. Thank you for letting us have a small part in affecting the lives of kids who need a good dose of hope.
Shannon and Heidi
Erica, Michelle, Beth, and Beck

Savannah and yours truly.

Leanna and Paige

Tamekia, Diana, and Jenny

Becky and Kim

Moe's catered our event and it was tasty! We also feasted on chocolate, fruit, and cheesecake.

Giveaways Galore! Everything from teeth whitening treatments to spa baskets, game night baskets, jewelry, photog sessions, hand painted canvases, and restaurant gift certificates were available to bring out the competitive side of us all.

If you couldn't make it to the "Gal Corral," but would love more information on Soaring Wings Ranch or becoming a Ranch Hand, I think I know a certain cowgirl who could help you out! Give me a big holler and we'll sit down with a can of pork and beans over a campfire. (Or we can go to Stoby's for coffee, whichever tickles your fancy, sweet thang!)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not your typical monday...

Well, it isn't your typical Monday. I don't have a guest writer lined up for you. Sorry about that! But, guess what? I won a giveaway over at Heather's blog! This is my first time to win a giveaway! Yay!

The gorgeous weekend was filled with a Bridal session and a maternity/family session. Both were fun! I thought I would leave you some pics of the dogwood tree that is in bloom in my front yard. Don't you just love dogwood flowers? Have a happy Monday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

All Things Dumbo

The four year old is in love. His new passion is reading Dumbo. Countless times. We read almost everyday before he goes down for a nap and he always chooses Dumbo. He won't deviate. This has gone on for weeks. I asked him if we could read something different today. I even said "Pretty please, with a cherry on top." (Which is his charming brother's new way of getting what he wants.) He didn't oblige. So, Dumbo it was. It always cracks me up when we get to this page because Sam says, "There's EI." I correct him and tell him it is Timothy the circus mouse. He shakes his head adamantly and tells me it is EI. I tell him, "say, Eli." He says, "E-Liiiii." And then shakes his head and says, "No, it is EI." I wonder if he will always call him that. It may be kind of sad if he ever switches over. I wonder how Eli feels about being a circus mouse. Probably loves the idea.
Here is the new project that encompasses the big boys' time. They even wake up earlier in the morning to work on it. They have dubbed it "puzzle frenzy." Currently there are 4 puzzles completed and one in the works. Most of them have between 300-500 pieces each. I am holding my breath praying that they don't all fall down (by an unnamed lil' fella) and get mixed all together. The big guys thought it would be fun to decorate my table in this manner. I guess fun is the right word for that.

I am sore. Yes, I am. There are aching muscles in my neck and back that I didn't even know existed. This P90x workout stuff is something else. My fridge is stocked up with greek yogurt and protein drinks. My pantry now has diet Mt. Dew because this girl is tired and needs a caffeinated pick me up. right now, in fact. toodles!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Guest Writer Monday: Marvin's Turn!

Thanks for sharing your words of truth and hope with us, Marvin!
Let’s jump right into a familiar topic. It is a universal human experience, a mysterious phenomenon that appears in every culture throughout history. Studies have shown that women do it five times as often as men and that 85% of the women and 73% of the men thought that doing it made them feel better. Research has indicated that people report they feel some sense of relief after doing this. I can vouch for that. Researchers say that there is a significant increase in the number, type and amount of stress hormones released in our bodies prior to doing this. Consistently, researchers find that its product contains stress hormones. This is a critical finding since we know stress hormones cause damage to nearly all of our bodily systems. It is something we have all had experience doing. What is my topic? Crying. Crying? Yes, crying. There are several definitions for this word: to call out, shout, to proclaim publicly, to appeal, to entreat, but I am talking about crying, as it relates to weeping.

I googled song titles about crying and here are a few I found with my own commentary.

Cry Cry Cry - Johnny Cash (OK!)
Cry One More Time - Gram Parsons (I’m sure I will.)
Ain't No Good to Cry - Allman Brothers (say’s who?)
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry - Bob Dylan (a train?)
You Don't Have to Cry - Crosby Stills and Nash (Why not?)
It Only Hurts When I Cry - Dwight Yoakam (Well stop it!)
I've Got Tears in My Ears from Lyin' on My Back in My Bed While I Cry Over You (Huh?)
"Black Eyes, Blue Tears" by Shania Twain (My eyes are dark brown.)
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry Over You- (You have to be comfortable to have a good one.)
Big Girls Don't Cry -Four Seasons (Really?)
You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry -The Caravelles (Duh!)
Cry Baby - Janis Joplin (So!)
Joe Cocker - Cry Me A River (I have been close.)
Don't Cry Out Loud -Melissa Manchester (Sometimes I can help it!)
Who's Crying Now-Journey- (You tell me!)

The title of Don Goodwin’s song entitled, “Time To Cry,” reminds me of what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 3:4, that life seems to alternate between tragedy and comedy. He said there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. One minute in this life you are cracking your side laughing and the next minute life can serve you a blow that will make you think you could literally cry a river.

Can you remember the last time you cried or had an encounter with this mysterious phenomenon? I can. About a month ago, and friend and I were sharing frustrations about work. She was still so upset that she began to cry. I was on the verge, but did not, UNTIL I got back to my office. As I was typing an email the flood gates opened. My grandmother called me recently and tearfully informed me that my mother’s best friend had passed away. Two Saturday’s ago, I sat at her funeral and looked in the obituary and there was a picture that I had never seen of her and my mother (who passed away in 1995) and I cried. I must have released a lot of stress hormones that day! A tough looking guy sat in my office and cried a couple of weeks ago, as he told me that he had just found out that morning that his ex-girlfriend was HIV positive. A young lady called me recently crying as she asked me to pray for her. I cried when I lost my mother, when we lost a baby, and even when I watched the movie Blindside recently, I quietly shed a few tears. I am man enough to admit that I sometimes cry! Now let me ask you a question. What makes you cry? Heartbreak, pain, prolonged stress, loss, sorrow, disappointment, injustice, anger, anxiety, fear, helplessness, desperation, traumatic events, loneliness, unrighteousness, and simple daily hassles can all lead to tears.

Do I consider myself a crybaby? No. The definition for “crybaby” is one who cries easily or often. I would not say I cry easily or often, but there are those times and circumstances that turn on my eye faucets. Am I embarrassed, ashamed? Not when I read my bible.

Esau cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry when Jacob stole his birthright.
Israel cried when they were in bondage.
Moses cried unto the Lord on behalf of his sister, Miriam, when she was struck with leprosy.
Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel when they were attacked by the Philistines.
Elisha tore his clothes and cried in grief when he saw Elijah taken up by a whirlwind into Heaven.
Tamar cried after being raped by her half-brother, Amnon.
Mordecai cried over the decree issued ordering a mass execution of the Jews.
David cried. Just read the Psalms to hear him lament.
There are numerous accounts of people crying in the New Testament. Many came crying to Jesus to be healed or in the case of Jairus’ daughter, crying because she had died.

These are only a few biblical examples. The list could be very lengthy. But, I am most encouraged that the bible indicates that my Savior also shed tears. I have a Savior who has been here and done that. John 11:35, the shortest verse in the bible, but a touching one, reveals that when Lazarus died, Jesus wept. In Luke 19:41, He wept over Jerusalem, the city He knew would slay Him. I have a Savior who knows what it is like to live in this sinful world and in this flesh. He was despised, rejected, a man of sorrow, acquainted with grief, mocked, scorned, spat on, lied on, and misunderstood. He suffered and was crucified. We don’t have a high priest in Heaven interceding for us, who cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. He left the comforts of Heaven to identify with the man he was going to redeem. He knows what we are going through. Those reasons I mentioned that makes us cry are a result of Adam’s sin. His sin not only affected mankind, but all creation. The results of man’s sin have screeched throughout all creation, like fingernails on a chalkboard. Even the ground was cursed. The fact is that when creation looks back to the ideal conditions that existed in the Garden of Eden and sees the mess we are in today due to the entrance of sin, no wonder Paul says in Romans that the whole creation groans and longs to be delivered from this sobbing, sighing and suffering world. Don’t you?

Here is the good news about crying. One day it will cease! If you don’t believe me, believe what Jesus told John. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." If you don’t believe me, Jesus’ words are trustworthy and true.

So, when you cry down here, thank God for the relief that comes through tears. But, I want to challenge you to target your tears. When you cry, cry out to Him. He is your source, your help, your strength, your relief, your deliverer. I thank him for temporary deliverance down here, whether through his divine deliverance out of a situation, relief through tears, or giving me grace to deal with whatever I may be facing at the time. But, I do know there will be a permanent, eternal deliverance! Romans 8:18 tells us to consider this, “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.” Whatever you suffer here that makes you cry, doesn’t come close to what is to come! So, you better do all your crying now, because you couldn’t cry in Heaven, even if you wanted to! Crying will be NO MORE!

I recently bought a bag of bubble gum called “Crybaby.” On the bag it reads: “Crybaby (caution) You’ll only cry for 40 seconds. Stay with it!” The gum is very sour initially. You will grimace, pucker and may even cry. But, if you keep chewing, it gets sweet. I want to encourage you to keep chewing away at life. It can be bitter at times, but if you believe what Jesus told John, crying will end. And, as Paul said, it’s not worthy to be compared to the sweetness or the glory that will be revealed later.

{Please read the below post if you missed it...I need help with a couple of questions!}

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My arms won't stop shaking...

I just finished day 1 of P90x. (An intense workout from the pit of hell itself.) We ordered it a long time ago and got through a few weeks and then I chickened out. Because it. is. hard.

And now, after completing day 1 (I chose the "lean" course over "classic" because weight loss is the goal,) I am trying to lift a bite of salad into my mouth and my arms are shaking so badly that I think I will just lean over and lap it up like a dog. Which isn't too different than how Kirby (bro) used to eat...he would just lean over and shovel it in with his fork.

Forgive me as I try to type and make sense...my brain has suffered the "muscle confusion" as well. Oh, you don't think I can have muscle confusion until after at least another workout? Oh, sweet Jesus, help us all. Maybe it is just complete bodily function shut down I am experiencing right now. I should go put on a Depends. You just never know what else is going to fail...

So, I have discovered a secret about myself. If I don't workout, then I eat whatever I want. But, if I work out, then I am very conscious about what goes into my mouth because I don't want to "undo" all my sweaty work. Are you that way? Or do you feel like working out gives you the freedom to eat what you want, since your metabolism is in high gear? What do you eat to get more protein in your diet?

Swimsuit season is in 8 weeks. I needed a kick in the rear. Thank you P90x. I hate you with everything that is within me.

Who starts a workout program on Easter? In theory, it is a great idea...it will keep me out of the boys' candy!

Speaking of Easter, I love all the blog pics of your cute kids and Easter baskets and Easter egg hunts! I yanked my kids out of bed at 7 to ensure that they got to experience their baskets while I was around...I had to leave at 7:20 to be at church for worship practice. Loved church today! Love me some Jesus! He is alive and intercedes on my behalf! Whoo-hoo! Anywhoo, I don't have any pictures because I am fighting a dilemma in my mind.

Here it is: I don't know anymore what to do with my pictures! I used to scrapbook when God seemed to smile down upon me and give me more hours in my day. But things have changed. I. Just. Don't. Have. Time. And I don't know how to remedy that! So, I find myself taking less pics cause I don't know what to do with them! I am good at printing them out and not leaving everything in digital form, but then I am stuck! Part of me wants to pick up scrapbooking again, and part of me realizes that it may never happen again.

So, I need your help! What do you do with your pics? Do you have a simple album for each child and then a family album? Do you scrapbook? Do you throw them in a big brown box? Do you make online photo books for each child... say one per year of the child's life? Help a girl out! I need to be released from self condemnation so I can get into some kind of action or I am going to remain paralyzed over this and keep stashing piles of pics in places like the inside of piano benches.

So tell me two things. Or just one. Whatever tickles your fancy on this fine Easter evening.
1. What do you eat to get more protein?
2. How do you organize your printed pictures?

Love you blog friends. hugs.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Oil of Joy (part3)

I always marvel at God's timing. I never know why He decides to have me study a subject until something smacks me upside the head. The timing of my revelation seems to coincide with something big...either something personal in my own life or something on a much larger scale. In this case, it pointed to the much larger scale of Easter. How glorious!

In the Bible, when "oil" is mentioned, it is often paired with two other things: grain and wine. Deuteronomy 11:14 says, "then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine, and oil." Joel 2:24 recites something similar, along with many other passages. So, what is the significance with grouping these three things together?

Perhaps Psalm 23:5 will help us out: "You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." This picture portrays one of communion. It is an act of sharing and fellowship and relationship. It points to the finished work of Christ so that we might be One with Him.

At communion, there are two elements: broken bread (grain) and grape juice (hee) (wine.) Jesus Christ is our bread...he offered his broken body so that we might have life. Jesus's blood is our wine. He was crushed, just like grapes are crushed to make wine.

The oil represents the anointing of the Holy Spirit. At conversion and acceptance of Christ as Savior, we are automatically anointed by the Spirit. We are sealed. Marked. Forever His.

Here is where things get fascinating! In Bible times, they used an extraction process of olive oil that required three separate pressings. The results of the first press was used for fuel to light the Holy Place. Jesus was pressed at Gethsemane so that we might see things in a spiritual light. The Hebrew word for Gethsemane is "gat shemanim" which means "olive press." This may seem like a no-brainer, since it was an olive grove, but think about how significant it is that this was the very location of Christ crying out to his Father for the cup (of suffering) to be removed, and yet His Father pressed him anyway.

The second pressing of olives was used for medicinal purposes. At Christ's second "pressing," he was scourged and beaten and it left deep wounds and marks that looked like stripes. (I can hardly type that without crying...oh His love for us.) Isaiah 53:5 says, "...by His stripes we are healed." Oh, glory, don't you just love that?!

The results of the third pressing was used for making soap. Christ's third "pressing" occurred on the cross. Revelation 1:5 says, "Glory and strength to Christ, who loves us, who blood-washed our sins from our lives." What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

It is ironic and it is tragic. The suffering of Christ and His finished work on the cross are what give us the oil of gladness. God, we praise you because in your book, "fair" is not in your vocabulary...but grace is.

"He makes...wine that gladdens the heart of men, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart." Psalm 104:15

Happy Easter, everyone. May our hearts rejoice as we praise God, who is our double portion of joy! We love you, El Simchah Giyl!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Oil of Joy (part 2)

Have you ever thought of righteousness being the prerequisite for joy? Is it true that holiness equates happiness? I am sure that most teenagers would argue that point! But, Psalm 45:7 says it is true! "You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy."

Isaiah 61:3 even speaks of the same thing! "...and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair, they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."

I read a sermon by CH Spurgeon on the topic of joy. So enlightening! If to know Christ is to love Him, then this man must have been bursting at the seams with love for His Savior. God blessed Spurgeon with so much wisdom! Everything below is from the sermon.

We, as God's chosen children, are anointed in order that we may be righteous. The state of holiness creates a safe place for us to be glad. In an environment of safety, it is possible for joy to reside.

The Holy Spirit is the One that provides the Oil of Joy/Gladness. Here is how:

1. Anointed to an office-we are kings and priests now...destined to reign. There is no room for a gloomy countenance when you know your position.

2. Consecrated to the Lord-We were bought with a price and serve Him only now.

3. Qualified for our office-He leads us into truth

4. Heals us of our diseases-olive oil was a frequent medicine of bible times and has healing qualities

5. Suppled and Softened-God dwells in the humble and contrite heart..."Nothing is more akin to joy than softness and tenderness of heart."

6. Strengthened-the oil of joy is your strength

7. Beautifier-"Oh, the excellence of character that is formed by the hand of the Spirit of God...other beauty may bring sorrow but the beauty of holiness makes us akin to angels."

8. A Perfume-perfumes scent the air around and when the Spirit is given to us, other spiritual minds can perceive it

"You are children of God-be as glad as ever you can be."

Perhaps in holiness is our happiness.

What about you? Have you ever thought about the 2 going hand in hand?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Oil of Joy (Part 1)

I love learning new names of God! It shouts out His character and makes him more and more real. Have you ever heard this one? "El Simchah Giyl" Well, now we both learned something on the same day! You are going to love its meaning! "God, my exceeding joy."

It finds its root in Psalm 43:4: "Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight." Since the Hebrew meanings of the words "joy" and "delight" both mean joy, then God is our double portion of joy. Hmmm, double portion, now that reminds me of something Beth Moore taught...that a certain person's name literally meant "double portion."

Ah, yes, there he is! It is Ephraim. Joseph had two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim. Israel (Jacob) is their grandfather and chooses to bless them as he does his own sons. (It is kind of tricky...he still only blesses 12 in total...the grandsons take the place of Joseph and Levi is left out because his family will be priests who don't need land...or something like that!)

Funny thing, though, Israel (Jacob) blesses the second born over the first. Yep, Ephraim lived up to his name and became greater than his brother Manasseh.

OK, you are going to love this and I am praying that I can covey it in a way that makes sense! Isaiah 61 is that famous passage that talks about the year of the Lord's favor and gives us examples of what Christ swaps out with us. For example, we give him our mourning and in return, we receive the oil of joy/gladness.

In 61:7, we are told that "Instead of their shame, my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs."

Oh, glory, Christ is swapping out our double dose of trouble for a double dose of joy!

Get this verse:
"And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD." Zechariah 10:7

The Message says, "The people of Ephraim will be famous, their lives brimming with joy."

Can you see the connection in the Word between "double portion" "Ephraim...which means double portion" and "joy/rejoice/glad"???

If you have the LORD as your portion, then you have a double portion of Him which means you have a double portion of JOY because He is Joy!

Now throw up your hands and praise the God who is your double portion of joy:
"El Simchah Giyl"
Say it something like this, so people will think you are really smart!
We rejoice in the joy that Your presence provides!
Why are you joyful today?