Friday, August 29, 2014

Favorite Things

It's that time again!  Time for a few of my favorite things!  Now I am not a high maintenance or very materialistic person...personally I can't wait until the earth's elements are burned by fire so we can get a new heaven and a new earth where nothing breaks or rots!  In the meantime, I want to celebrate a few little things that bring a smile until we are there! Hopefully, some of these things will save you money in the long run or make your life a little easier!
1.  Fajitas!  Nothing makes me happier than prancing myself into a Mexican restaurant and eating a truckload of fajitas. With 5 people now eating off of the adult menu, we choose not to eat out too often!  Enter this recipe!  All the ingredients bake together in the same glass pan.  I can whip it up while the boys are doing homework, and wham-bam, it's a fiesta.  On a school night.  Shut the front door.  Here is the link to the recipe. We like to throw in a little steak, too. 

2. Vintage Prayer Journal--God was so sweet to let me lay eyes on this little beauty of a journal.  It just makes me want to write things down and start talking to the Father all about it! It is always a blessing to go back and see what He has answered.  Faithful and good.

3.  Headbands!  These mean I don't have to wash my hair so they are my new BFF.  Now, I am the type of gal who usually hates things like sunglasses and headbands because they squeeze my ears half to death and I wind up with a tension headache.  But, this headband company called Banded 2gether is the real deal. They even stay put!  Best of all, each headband you purchase provides meals for children in Uganda.

4. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel--I hate painting my nails.  HATE IT.  I am pretty sure this is why God gave me four boys because they idea of sitting around painting my little girl's nails just doesn't appeal to me.  One of the reasons I hate it so much is that you put all that work into it and then, bam, two days later you have chippage and you are having to repent from the slew of curse words that come out of your mouth.  Enter this nail polish.  It boasts that it will stay on up to 14 days. I knew this was a stretch. So, when mine stayed on a solid 7 days, I decided that was good enough.  You have to buy the topcoat because it sets the polish and makes it super shiny!
 5.  Andrew Murray.  Born in the 1800s and knew him some Jesus and the Word!  I am really enjoying everything he wrote about, especially about prayer.  Most of his stuff is on Kindle for either free or super cheapola, like a buck.

6. Fixer Upper.  Oh my stars.  Best show ever. It is a home redo show on HGTV.  What sets it apart is this married couple.  They love each other, love God, use their talents for His glory, and get so much joy in creating peaceful spaces for their clients.  It is a super fun show! If you like home decor, etc, you will love Joanna's blog, too.  Find it here.
7.  Old Quilts--a friend let me use her backyard awhile back for a photo session.  She let me borrow the quilt below and I went on and on about how much I loved it.  Pretty sure my love language is old quilts.  Anyhoo, imagine my delight when she later gifted me with it!!! I have it at the foot of my bed and love looking at all the happy colors.

8.  Physician's Formula Eye Liner--I am trying to find more and more "drugstore/over the counter" makeup products I like but I usually end up wasting money because I usually hate them.  Not this one!  These liners come in a fancy packet of three and they actually work. They don't even give me raccoon eyes by the end of the day.  For $10, they are a good deal.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Favorite Reads

I have a few favorite blogs I enjoy right now and would love to share them with you!

The first is my friend Anna's blog.  She has a brand new site that screams "cozy" and "adorable!"  Anna is passionate about homeschooling, good food, creating a peaceful home, and Jesus.  She is a true encourager and I always leave her blog feeling a little bit lighter.  You can find Little Oak Table here!

The second is my friend Catherine's blog.  I used to show livestock with her husband, David, back in the daaaaay.  They have four children and live as missionaries in Malawi.  It is always fun to visit her site and see how others live.  I dare you to hop on over there and see if your gratefulness for running water doesn't rise to the surface! You can find her at Our Mustard Seed Life.

The last is my sister in law, Kelli's new site.  You used to laugh with her over at Minivans are Hot, but now she is at Kelli Stuart. If you are a creative, then this site is for you.  She is great at encouraging others to pursue their creative dreams and visions.  Although already a published author, she just released her first e-book called 30 Days to Becoming a Writer.  Click on the title to buy the e-book!

What is your favorite blog right now?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Persecution of Jesus Himself

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the Holy Spirit anointed Stephen to speak boldly before his accusers.  Even his face lit up with the glory of God as he addressed the Sanhedrin. He recited a beautiful rendition of God's story through the Old Testament and how Jesus was the culmination of how God was going to dwell in men. Stephen boldly tells them that they are stiff-necked, always rejecting the will and heart of the tender Father.

This enraged the Jewish leaders to no end, so they decided to get rid of him instead of ask God if there might be some truth as to what Stephen was proclaiming.

They stoned him. 

"And Saul approved of his execution."

That very day, a great persecution arose against the church. Those that called themselves part of the "Way" had to scatter in order to save themselves from persecution.

Over and over we see this Saul character and his venomous hatred spewing towards anything Christ-like or church-like.  The book of Acts tell us that he would ravage the church and break into house after house, dragging off men and women who were part of the "Way."  He would put them in prison, hoping their fate might be similar to that of Stephen's.  We can almost see his blood thirsty eyes and obsessive murderous spirit. The Word says he was always breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord.

Enter a Savior whom I don't always understand.  A Savior whose mercy and grace know no bounds.  A Savior who reveals Himself to Saul so that Saul knows exactly whom he is persecuting.  A Savior who rips off the scales of Saul's eyes so that he can truly see.  A Savior who graciously brings about a name change.

"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
"Who are you, Lord?"
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Acts 9:4-5
The text is clear:  to persecute Christians is to persecute Christ Himself.
I think of ISIS and my brothers and sisters in Christ running for their very lives.  I have to ask myself this question:  would my prayers over them be more consuming and passionate if I really believed that it was Christ that ISIS was persecuting?
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it." 1 Cor. 12:27
"The king will answer them, 'I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me.' Matthew 25:40

I try and put myself in the persecuted believer's shoes and wonder what I would need most in this time?  Courage?  Food and supplies?  Ability to forgive? Shelter? Protection? This verse? 

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me. Psalm 17:8-9

We can pray for those being persecuted. Our prayers are effectual.

We can give.  These are just two Christian organizations that will handle resources wisely and in the name of Jesus.  The Joshua FundSamaritan's Purse.

We can pray for our enemies.  The persecutors. The Sauls that God just might want to change into Pauls.  We can acknowledge that no man is too far gone or out of the realm of grace.  We can ask God to allow the scales to fall from the members of the ISIS. Galatians says it pleased God when he revealed Himself to Saul.

We can pray for the advancement of the gospel.  In the book of Acts, when the believers were scattered, they went about preaching the Word.  We can pray that through this scattering, the Gospel would advance and that God would receive glory despite the murderous tactics of the enemy.

And lastly, we can choose to remember that it isn't just people that are being persecuted.  It is Jesus Christ Himself.

I'm doing my best to let that sink in.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Lil bit has struggled with ear infection after ear infection. We are all set to get tubes Friday. Say a prayer over the surgery? 

Friday, August 22, 2014

When God calls the Momma back to school, too.

It all began as a prayer that started at the beginning of the summer.  Lord, please show me this summer where you want me to spend my time.  In other words, what is my specific calling over this season of my life?  I had a few ideas in mind of how I thought God would answer, but as usual, He had His own agenda.

Every once in awhile, a scripture will absolutely jump off the pages at me, speaking into the deepest part of my being.  Through these couple of verses, God would start to show me how He wanted me to use my time for His glory. 

"Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you, declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.  See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth.  You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff.  You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away.  But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel."

God was telling me I was like a worm...weak, feeble, and easily injured.  But, He was about to make me into a threshing sledge. 


The context is all about weak and small Israel and how having God on your side will be sufficient enough to trample over all your enemies.  I am defenseless on my own, but God is my strength and portion and very victory. Clark says of this passage:  "All the strength of the Israelites is in prayer-by which they smite the wicked of this world."

Through this verse and many other things God threw at my way, He was telling me my calling for this season of life is intercessory prayer.  I would be trampling down (threshing) the enemy through the act of prayer.  I even asked a friend for confirmation of my calling (without telling her I thought it was prayer) and she threw this my way:  "What do we ask of God?  We ask for a cupful when He has the entire ocean at His disposal."

I have to tell you I wasn't excited about this at first.  (I know how awful that sounds!) But, I had my own agenda and own ideas of what might bring Him glory.  So, after I surrendered my time and desires, God showed me this quote by Andrew Murray, "In intercession our King upon the throne finds His highest glory; in it we shall find our highest glory too."

I wasn't excited about this new adventure for two other reasons as well.  First, I have always felt like intercessory prayer has been part of my how was this going to be new at all???  And second, I have some wounds of prayers prayed in big-time-faith that went totally awry. Those wounds made me wonder whether I could trust the heart of the Father.

Enter God calling me back to school.

The big boys would be heading back to learn all about biology, algebra, and spelling as I would be going back to learn all about prayer.

Lucky me, my little schoolhouse is all in the confines of my big comfy chair with creamer (I mean, coffee) in hand.

Andrew Murray.  Wow.  Never even heard of the guy until recently.  Super powerhouse of a Godly man.  Born in the late 1800's.  Wrote over 200 books.  Absolutely passionate about prayer and how we are to be confident in it.  God is using this man to teach me so much in my little schoolhouse.

The first thing God is hammering into my spirit is this:  "Becke', you have got to stop praying to Jesus and start praying to me, the Father.  Yes, I am Trinity, and three in one, but you have to get it out of your head that I (your Father) am not safe.  You go only to Jesus because you think He is the only one that understands you.  I am the one that loved you so greatly I sent my Son. My heart towards you is affectionate and tender and spilling over with love, more than you could ever love those four boys. Jesus broke down the walls so you could call me Father, as well.  So do it!  Start talking to me; it breaks my heart when you act like there is still a curtain that separates us."

So, lesson one in the school of prayer is to pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus, by the power of the Spirit.

The second thing I am repeating over and over to myself is this:  "EVERYONE THAT ASKS, RECEIVES."  Now, the answer might be no, but you will have an answer.  We must confidently EXPECT an answer to our prayer.

I got so tickled this morning when I saw this played out!  Asher and I took all the bigs to school and then marched ourselves into Chick Fil A for a little morning treat.  Since we don't do this often, I prayed that God might either allow me to be a blessing while in there or allow me to be blessed by someone while in there.  Imagine my delight when we walked in and the first person I saw was one of my best friends from high school and college that I haven't seen in years!  The timing couldn't have been more perfect as we got to enjoy breakfast together and catch up. 

I was asking for a blessing and I totally received one.

Well, here's to a fresh calling and a new classroom.  I can't wait to see what the Teacher has in store!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Her 31st

Happy birthday sassy sister of mine.  31 years old.  You are moving right up there into your thirties as I inch and crawl my way out of mine. Asher and I sat in our rocker this morning and sang happy birthday to you.  He clapped with joy at the end. 

I sit here with shivers and goosebumps as I feel the presence of the Lord.  I know He has enveloped you into his strong arms on this day and told you how glad He is that He created you.  You bring Him such delight and joy. All is forgiven.  All is restored. 

Please tell me what you do with all your days?  Do you glance at the Father and at this world and wonder how much longer He will tarry until He sets all things right?  Does your spirit explode with unhindered passion and joy now that you fully comprehend His fierce love for you?

I decided to kick start our Operation Christmas Child shopping in honor of your birthday.  Clothes and flip flops and 24 count colors-of-the-rainbow filled our buggy as I said prayers over the children that would be receiving the small gifts.  You always hands-on-loved the little ones that needed boogers wiped, enveloping hugs and morsels of food. You would have loved this ministry whose chief goal is to satisfy the starving soul.

Just wanted you to know you are never forgotten. 

And always missed.

Consider yourself hugged.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

As the Summer Sun Sets

It wasn't supposed to go this quickly.  The summer days were cut short due to a winter blanketing of snow like we have never seen.  My Pinterest board for "summer fun activities" hasn't even been touched.  Can I get a redo?

My kids aren't perfect and I am not perfect but we do enjoy each other.  I'd love to take one more dip in the pool and make another ice cream run (or three.)  The word "homeschool" always tempts me to the core simply because I hate telling them goodbye for 7 plus hours a day.  But, alas, God and my tell-you-like-it-is husband both agree that I am not the best teacher for each of those three. And my heart is content with that. Instead, I'll read to my book obsessed one year old and change his diaper 48 times a day.  I'll find joy in the small things until the four o' clock hour rolls around and all hell breaks lose.  (Could any more homework doing, guitar plucking, paper signing, phone call returning, and meal making take place during that bewitching hour? My mother in law was right in calling it the valley of the shadow...)

I have to pinch myself when I think about the grades the bigs are entering.  I know I am sounding like my Dad here, but wasn't it just like yesterday that I was in the 8th, 6th, and 3rd grades?  Funny how the hour hand flies by on the clock of time as our souls never age a single day.

I've thought a little about my experiences with those grades.  Joy and suffering always make the best dance partners, right?

Third grade.  I had the biggest crush on a sixth grader who never once glanced my way.  What can I say, I have always liked older men.  (wink wink) What I remember more than anything about this year was my teacher.  She didn't have children and so teaching was her whole life.  She wrote us encouraging notes and took us on extra field trips to love on those in need.  One day, she left the classroom to ask another teacher the absolute best way to write the letter "W" in cursive.  We both had German Shepherds for pets which must have linked our hearts together because when she tragically died in a house fire seven years later, I cried myself to sleep.

If I could tell my third grader anything, I would tell him listen to his teacher with his whole being.  The things she will have to share will go beyond things that can be read in a textbook.  There is wisdom found in writing encouraging notes to others, visiting those who need a little love, and asking questions when you aren't sure of the answer.

Sixth grade. This year is still a little fuzzy to me.  Maybe it is because I was still in shock from my so called friend, Anne, popping my bra in front of everyone the previous year.  I managed to pull myself back together enough to plan my project on the country of Poland.  It was world history presentation time and I rocked front of the whole entire sixth grade.  I decided to be an overachiever and get the attention of the teachers in charge of you know, grading.  I threw out the term polska kielbasa as if Polish were my second language.  They did a double take and my insides exploded with glee. Take that, bra poppers of the world.

If I could tell my sixth grader anything, I would tell him to be grateful that he is a boy.  (ha!) In seriousness, since sixth grade can be a hard transition year on girls and boys alike, I would want him to exercise his gift of mercy in a special way and choose to really see those in need of a little extra help or love.  I would tell him to defend those that are being picked on.  I would encourage him to go the extra mile when completing homework and projects. After all, you just never know where a little polska kielbasa will take you.

Eighth grade.  Enter the word challenging.  It seemed that God used this year to bring separation.  It was the year that all my friends either made the basketball team, the cheerleading squad, or the dance team.  It seemed that all my friends were part of the same youth group as well. I didn't know it at the time, but God was telling me that it was good for me to be who I was.  My talents didn't look like those of my friends, and that was ok. God put me on a path that was right for me which included singing and showing cattle.  It would be a path that would give me a close relationship with my father and eventually give me a college scholarship. 

If I could tell my eighth grader anything, I would tell him that God can use separation for His glory and purposes.  Sometimes not making the desired athletic team can be a good thing, whether for protection or for opening up a path meant for future talents. Sometimes being stripped of favorite friendships can open up spaces for new friendships.  And most importantly, the most precious relationships at this age are with your parents and siblings.

As the summer sun sets, I pray favor over each one of these learn things that go beyond the textbook, to defend the weak, and to embrace any change that the Lord brings.  Here's to all the alarm clocks of the world.  Coffee lovers unite!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Crashing Waves

I laugh at our vacation beach pictures because most of them shout "we are having the time of our lives...wish you were here!"  The truth is, our vacation required a lot of patience and well, work.  Taking a one year old anywhere takes patience and work.  Taking a one year old to a place he really doesn't love brings that to a whole new level. We even came home a whole day early due to our exhaustion!
The first night we walked the gorgeous sunlit sand, sweet Asher screamed his head off.  He wouldn't even let us put him down. We knew he might be a little undone by it all, but we weren't really expecting the terror that was etched on his face. Eric and I looked at each other, laughed, and said it might be a pretty interesting week. 
The second day wasn't much better on the little fellow.  He was battling an ear infection and the words sand and sea weren't making it any better.
The third day we were determined to make Asher take some baby steps.  After all, he can't be a member of our family if he doesn't like the beach....right???  I was beginning to wonder if he had been switched at birth. We started building a sand castle right where the waves come in.  Asher would run to us, stay until the next wave came in, and then run away screaming as fast as his little chubby legs would carry him.
The fourth day, any time we put him down, he would start running.  Away from the water and towards our beach house.  As fast as he could.
The fifth day, we decided it was high time for him to get in the water. Eric scooped him up so he would be safe and sound.  Asher wouldn't even have to touch the water, but we wanted him to conquer the fear of the waves and be in it so to speak.  He screamed his head off.  I looked at that boy, shook my head, and said to myself, "Eric is holding him....what on earth is he afraid of?"
Boy, howdy, the Spirit of the Living God was all over me in that moment.
God has carried me kicking and screaming into oceans of unknown.  I yell at Him and tell Him I absolutely do not want to go there.  He has carried me kicking and screaming into oceans of suicide, miscarriage, depression, financial hardship, crushed dreams, cancer diagnoses, isolation, and rejection.   Each crashing wave becomes a new part of my story as the salty brine leaves my skin more rough and worn.
I think of Asher in that moment and wanted him to know that everything was OK for one reason only: he was in his daddy's arms. There wasn't a single wave that would reach Asher that wouldn't go through his daddy first.  Isn't that what God was trying to tell us all along?
"When you go through the sea, I am with you. When you go through rivers, they will not sweep you away. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not harm you.  I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. " Isaiah 43:2

Why do we fear when He has redeemed us and now calls us by name? Why do we scream when He never, for one second, has dropped us or made us leave the security of His strong arms?

If 37 years have taught me anything, it is this:  we are going to go through the sea, whether we like it or not.  Your waves are going to look differently than mine.  It is what we do with the "I am with you" part that is going to define our journey. Is God alone enough for us in those heart wrenching seasons?

He truly longs to be.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Where the Soul Breathes

Deep sand that tickles the toes.  Seagulls diving in for delicious fish.  Warm sun beating down.  Cool ocean waves that wash away worries.  Wild dolphins swimming just yards away.  Dripping wet boys with huge grins.  My sister in the striped beach chair next to me.  The Word wide open and God speaking fresh. 

The beach has always been where my soul breathes best.

I had a troubling few days right before we left.  Shortness of breath and heart palpitations led to tests that concluded mild regurgitation in the mitral and tricuspid valves. Nothing too serious, but perhaps an answer to the breathing issue.  And breathing is an important issue.

Sometimes the soul gets so bogged down it forgets how to grab a deep breath.  It forgets that the sound of Yahweh's name is like breathing itself.  We breathe Him in and we exhale the quicksand that has held us captive in the inner recesses.

It has been the summer of cancer.  First, Eric's Dad.  Then, a dear friend we have had for 9 years.  All we can do is surrender and pray hard and beg for fresh breath because breathing in His name will be the only thing that carries us.

We were so grateful for some time together as a family.  We squeezed our 6-pack of a family into a 1000 square foot beach house and more or less slept on top of one another, but I loved being so close knit for a week.  No sports or wii or appointments or work or anything else to distract.  I am a blessed woman to have Eric and those 4 boys.  Blessed.

{You know I had to take a picture or two...}