He cares for ME.
HE cares for me.
He knew, that for me to get it, He would have to come down as a baby. A poor, innocent child.
The King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel...
A baby. God with us.
And during this Advent season, this time of preparation, it is good to remember that this sweet little Child whom we celebrate, was born to die. To save us all. I don't say this to be a "downer" during a season of celebration. Rather, it is important to remember "the reason for the season".
Tonight at our Candlelight Christmas Celebration (we rent space in a school and are only able to use it on the weekends), one of the Pastors shared a story...
It was a few days before Christmas and a young mother decided to brave the mall and wrap up her Christmas shopping with her two young children. There were people everywhere, and the children seemed insistent on misbehaving.
Finally, the harried young mother was done with her shopping. The children were asleep in their double stroller, naughtiness had completely exhausted them. Shopping bags were hung all around the stroller, and the mother carefully wheeled the whole mass into the elevator.
The elevator crowds parted like the Red Sea. When she was finally positioned in the elevator, she breathed a sigh of relief, and to no one in particular, muttered aloud, "Whoever thought up this Christmas thing should be arrested and strung up!"
A moment passed, and then a quiet voice in the back of the elevator said, "Ma'am, I think that's been taken care of."
May we never forget the true "reason for the season".
Advent is meant to be a time of preparation and waiting--not a solemn, sad kind of waiting, but waiting with anticipation, waiting for Him. Sort of a breathless eagerness. I always think of the song "Something's Coming" from West Side Story....
Could be! Who knows?
There's something due any day;
I will know right away,
Soon as it shows.
It may come cannonballing down through the sky,
Gleam in its eye,
Bright as a rose! Who knows?
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Under a tree.
I got a feeling there's a miracle due,
Gonna come true,
Coming to me!
Could it be? Yes, it could.
Something's coming, something good,
If I can wait!
I don't know what it is,
But it is Gonna be great!
With a click, with a shock,
Phone'll jingle, door'll knock,
Open the latch!
Something's coming, don't know when, but it's soon;
Catch the moon, One-handed catch!
Around the corner,
Or whistling down the river,
Come on, deliver
Will it be?
Yes, it will.
Maybe just by holding still,
It'll be there!
Come on, something, come on in, don't be shy,
Meet a guy,
Pull up a chair!
The air is humming,
And something great is coming!
It's only just out of reach,
Down the block, on a beach,
Maybe tonight . . .
Wouldn't it be amazing if we Christians could, for the four weeks prior to Christmas, step back and prepare? I'm not talking about baking and cooking, shopping and cleaning, the frantic-ness that typically is associated with preparing for the holidays. I'm talking about praying and playing, smiling and giving.
You know, really living?
The folks over at The Advent Conspiracy think it would be amazing. Check out this video...
Dearest Lord Jesus,
In the remaining time of the Advent Season, help us live as the Advent Conspiracy says...
by worshiping fully,
and most importantly,
And may we do these things with hopeful, expectant enthusiasm.
The stars seem brighter than they've been before.
And deep within I feel my soul is stirring
As though my hope
Has been restored.
The shepherds say they've heard the voice of angels
Confirming rumors spread across the land.
That a child protected well from Herod's anger
Is our Father's Son and the Son of Man.
Love is raining down on the world tonight.
There's a presence here, I can tell.
God is in us. God is for us. God is with us.
He's the Savior we have been praying for.
In our humble hearts He will dwell.
God is in us. God is for us. God is with us.
I feel compelled to tell all who will listen
That peace on Earth is not so out of reach.
If we can find grace and mercy and forgiveness
He has come to save.
He is all of these.
Love is raining down on the world tonight.
There's a presence here, I can tell.
God is in us. God is for us. God is with us.
He's the Savior we have been praying for.
In our humble hearts He will dwell.
God is in us. God is for us. God is with us.
God is in us. God is for us. God is with us.
With enthusiastic gratitude,
Noah's Mommy, the sweetie that she is, gave me a lovely award! She's on my "follow list" and her tagline says it all, "The Life and Times of being a NEW stay at home mommy....and I thought the corporate world was hectic???"
I'm not a SAHM, but I have SO much respect for those of you who are, and it's my secret fantasy life! One of my favorite things about the blogosphere is all of the wonderful fellow bloggers I'm "meeting". I'm so grateful for all of you, and here are a few "Bloggy Goodness" picks!
My sweet IRL bloggy friend, Sunrae. I'm so blessed to have found our church community and made friends like you!
A new bloggy buddy, Kimmie, who is a passionate Christ-follower and self-proclaimed "orphan gatherer". She and her DH are loving parents to six children ("five adopted, one homemade"), and are in the process of adopting another.
Grafted Branch and her DH ("Jim Dear") are parents to three beautiful young ladies. She is an example of so much I aspire to be, and I love reading about her life!
Hiho-Ohio is a recent add to my bloglist, and she is wonderful! She just cut her beautiful long "creme brulee" hair to chin length, and donated FOUR ponytails to Locks of Love. What a sweetie!
These are just a few of the folks for whom I'm grateful as we head into Thanksgiving! Stop by and visit them, and be sure to tell your friends that you're grateful for them!
Dearest God, I am so grateful for my life, my family, my friends. I am grateful to You, who gave the greatest gift so I might enjoy all of my blessings, every single day.
I figured this year would be no exception, and yes, I did have my momentary rant. But honestly, I'm actually excited about the whole season this year. Maybe it's because Thanksgiving's a bit later. Maybe the economy and my quest to go "Christmas Frugal" has kind of gotten me really pondering the whole "true meaning of giving". At any rate, I found myself humming along to the Christmas tunes last night at Wal-Mart.
And wanting to hear more.
And buying my first Christmas decorations.
And finally getting around to deciding what to do about our rapidly-dwindling Nativity Scene.
And then I decided, while it's a bit annoying to see Christmas decorations up before Halloween, isn't it nice to start focusing on the birth of our Lord even that much earlier?
And how bad can something be if it makes us really focus on celebrating the season that precedes Christmas--Advent. A time of preparation, preparing our hearts and homes for the arrival of the Infant Saviour.
It's all about your perspective. And mine is from that of a wounded, broken heart, eagerly anticipating the arrival of a Saviour, Gift to All Humanity.
And yes, that would be a.m.
Not sure exactly why my body is so wide awake at this hour, but there you have it. I'm still battling the remnants of sick, so it may be that. Or it may be The Manimal, who in his half-asleep stage decided to invade my side of the bed.
The dog is pretty happy. While she's not exactly nocturnal, her lupine roots come through whenever there is a human conscious in the weird nighttime hours.
The house is blissfully (and unusually) quiet. The perpetual "on" state of both boy children has been silenced for more than the normal 18 minutes.
We have plans for later in the day, but for now, it is quiet. The family is safe and sleeping. All is well with the world.
"Beautiful in My Eyes" by Joshua Kadison
You're my peace of mind in this crazy world.
You're everything I've tried to find, your love is a pearl.
You're my Mona Lisa, you're my rainbow skies,
and my only prayer is that you realize
you'll always be beautiful in my eyes.
The world will turn and the seasons will change,
and all the lessons we will learn will be beautiful and strange.
We'll have our fill of tears, our share of sighs.
And my only prayer is that you realize
you'll always be beautiful in my eyes.
You will always be beautiful in my eyes.
And the passing years will showthat you will always grow ever more beautiful in my eyes.
When there are lines upon my face from a lifetime of smiles,
and when the time comes to embrace for one long last while,
we can laugh about how time really flies.
We won't say goodbye 'cause true love never dies.
You'll always be beautiful in my eyes.
You will always be beautiful in my eyes.
And the passing years will show
that you will always grow ever more beautiful in my eyes.
The passing years will show that you will always grow
ever more beautiful in my eyes.
Dearest Lord Jesus, Help me to remember that even when I feel like You couldn't possibly want me, You're always waiting for me to return.
From: The Boss
Re: Your Life
Today I will be handling all of your problems.
If life happens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do not attempt to resolve it. Simply put it in the SFGTD (something for God to do) box. All situations will be resolved, but please note that resolution will come in My time, not yours.
Once the matter is placed into the box, do not hold onto it by worrying about it. Instead, focus on all the wonderful things that are present in your life now.
If you find yourself stuck in traffic, don't despair. There are people in this world for which driving is an unheard of privilege.
Should you have a bad day at work, think of the man who is out of work.
Should you despair over a relationship gone bad, think of the person who has never known what it's like to love and be loved in return.
Should you grieve the passing of another weekend, think of the woman in dire straits, working twelve hours a day, seven days a week to feed her children.
Should your car break down, leaving you miles away from assistance, think of the paraplegic who would love the opportunity to take that walk.
Should you notice a new gray hair in the mirror, think of the cancer patient in chemo who wishes she had hair to examine.
Should you find yourself at a loss and pondering what is life all about, asking what is my purpose? Be thankful. There are those who didn't live long enough to get the opportunity.
Should you find yourself the victim of other people's bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities, remember, things could be worse. You could be one of them!
Until last night.
Last night, my sweet eight year-old boy asked me a question that made me want to cry. For loss of innocence of children. For the ignorance and intolerance of adults. For my baby.
"Mommy, did Barack Obama say it's ok to kill babies?"
Now a few things before any of you go crazy conservative on me. I do plan to leave the comments open, and don't moderate this blog, but I reserve the right to delete that are vitriolic or attacking. This is not a forum for anger. I did vote for John McCain, but not because I agree with him across the board. I do believe that abortion is wrong, with few, if any, exceptions. My own belief is that yes, I'd love for abortion to be illegal if it would guarantee that nobody would ever have one. But we all know that's not how it would go down. If my views cause you to quit reading my blog, I'm sorry.
However, my view is not the point of this post.
I picked my jaw up off the ground and asked who told him that. He said that the kids at school told him that's what their parents said.
That's what their parents said.
Parents told their ELEMENTARY AGED CHILDREN that the President-Elect of the United States said it's OK to kill babies. And because they told their children this, I had to explain to my eight year-old child about abortion, and why people would want it to be legal, rather than illegal.
MY eight year-old.
And while I certainly support your right to raise your children in the manner you see fit, please do not use the religious veil of "pro-life" to excuse passing along hateful comments about public figures (or anyone for that matter) to your children. Because they will tell others. They will tell my child.
My eight year-old.
Who is a little less innocent today than yesterday.
I dislike conflict.
I'm a control freak.
I'm also a certified rose-colored glasses wearing, Pollyanna, cockeyed optimist, glass-half-full kind of girl.
So today's reactions (of Republicans) to the results of yesterday's Presidential election are driving me a bit batty.
Perhaps your candidate didn't win. Perhaps you're REALLY disappointed. But honestly people, we have to remember who's still in charge here, and it's not Barack Obama (or George Bush, for the next 70+ days).
It's God. As in Jesus Christ, Savior of the World.
He's got it all under control.
So please, for the sanity and sake of all of the other non-Obama voters out there, please stop forecasting the doom and gloom. Instead, why don't we all focus on PRAYER?
From a website called "Fire In My Bones":
By J. Lee Grady
I’ll admit this election did not turn out as I had hoped. I supported McCain primarily because I am pro-life and I prefer his small-government mindset. But now that the election is over, I’m not going to harbor bitterness toward Obama supporters or go into attack mode. Obama has been elected president of this country, and that means I have a biblical responsibility to support him in prayer—even if I challenge his policies.
Whether you voted for Obama or not, you need to pray for him. Here are 10 ways I plan to intercede for him regularly:
1. Pray for Obama’s protection. We already know that some weird, neo-Nazi fanatics in Tennessee plotted to kill Sen. Obama during his campaign. Let’s pray that racist hatred is not allowed to spread. Let’s cancel every assassin’s bullet in the name of Jesus. May civility triumph over bigotry.
2. Cover his wife and daughters in prayer. It is not easy to live under constant media scrutiny. Pray for Obama’s wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Malia and Natasha, as they face invasive cameras, nosy reporters, maniacal fans and dangerous enemies. Obama is not only a politician but also a husband and a father.
3. Pray that Obama will govern with God’s wisdom. God rewarded Solomon because he asked for wisdom instead of wealth, long life or vengeance on his enemies (see 1 Kings 3:11-12). Pray that Obama will order his priorities like that. Despite Solomon’s tragic character flaws, his legacy was wisdom. We can ask God to give our president the same grace.
4. Ask God to keep our president humble. Many great American leaders became corrupt after they moved to Washington. The fatal attraction of fame, wealth and power proved irresistible. The only thing that will guard a man or woman from this pitfall is humility. May God deliver President Obama from the curse of pride.
5. Pray for wise and righteous advisers to surround him. Godly leaders cannot do their job alone. Even the best leaders have failed because they trusted the wrong people. Pray that Obama will not select his counselors based on party, race, pedigree or political cronyism but on godly character and proven wisdom. Pray also that he will not allow secret traitors into his inner circle.
6. Ask for the spirit of reconciliation. Some segments of our deeply divided society want nothing to do with Obama now that he has won the presidency. Even some Christians will be tempted to harbor resentment and nurse political grudges throughout his term in office. Pray that God will grant forgiveness and healing so that leaders on all political levels can have constructive dialogue.
7. Pray that Obama will adopt pro-life convictions. Many politicians have changed their views on key issues while in office. In the 1800s some leaders who favored slavery later denounced it. In the 1950s some who opposed racial integration later became champions of it. Even though Obama won approval from many voters because he sanctions abortion, God could soften and change his heart.
8. Bind all evil forces assigned to manipulate our president. The specter of Islamic terrorism looms over the United States, and dark forces are ready to infiltrate. Our only hope lies in prayer to the God who is able to expose and outwit the schemes of the wicked. This is truly a time for spiritual warfare, and intercessors must not come off the wall in this hour! Pray that no foreign government, terrorist organization or demonic principality will use Obama as a tool. We must stand strong against the spirit of antichrist that promotes dictatorship, persecution of Christians and hostility toward Israel.
9. Pray that Obama’s door will remain open to the church. The loudest voices of secular culture—from Bill Maher in Hollywood to atheists in academia—would be happy if religion were removed from public life. Pray that Obama, who claims to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ, will unapologetically welcome Christian leaders into his company and seek their counsel. And pray that false religious leaders (who claim to know Christ but deny His power) will not have his ear.
10. Pray that our nation will enjoy God’s peace and blessing during the Obama administration. The apostle Paul instructed early believers to pray for all in authority “so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2, NASB). God’s will is for America to experience peace and prosperity so that we can continue to export the gospel to the nations. This must happen whether a Democrat or a Republican is in the White House. As we cry out for God’s mercy on our wayward nation, pray that He will allow us to be a light to the world as we finance global missions, feed and heal the world’s poor and share Christ’s love at home and abroad.
As a side note, Michelle & Barack Obama's daughters are Malia and Natasha, who is often called "Sasha".
Praying enthusiastically for our Nation and our World...
Dearest Lord Jesus, help us all make wise, moral choices on this (and all) days. Lead us to select the best candidates for office, based on our conversations with You and others. Most of all, draw us closer to you, the Leader of all.
Enthusiastically awaiting the results of today's elections...
In the third chapter, Bell talks about finding and claiming truth in all aspects of life. Basically, his argument is that this world is God's world, so everything in it is His as well.
"So as a Christian, I am free to claim the good, the true, the holy, wherever and whenever I find it. I live with the understanding that truth is bigger than any religion and the world is God's and everything in it." (p.80)
He illustrates the point by describing a trip to Turkey, where he saw a great number of homes in various states of construction. "It looked like a lot of homes had been started and then the workers went to lunch...for a year." (p.80)
When he asked his friend about it, Bell learned that the Muslim culture doesn't allow for financial debt, so faithful Muslims only build when they have the cash to pay for it. They build for awhile, then stop, then start again when they have the money. Eventually they have a house, which they own free and clear.
Bell muses that "debt free" is certainly a better way to live than how most Americans live. He speaks of affirming this value because it is true and good, "a better way to live". It doesn't matter that it is a "Muslim" value; it is of God, and it is good.
This is a radical departure for some Christians, whose beliefs may lead them to condemn any "non-Christian" ideas or values. Recently, it has been much the same with Democrats and Republicans. People of either party may refuse to condone or agree with particular stances taken by the opposing party simply on the basis that they are OF the opposing party.
Tomorrow we will elect a new president. He may be a Democrat; the first Black man to serve our country in that position. He may be a Republican; the oldest first-term elected President. In the end, a whole lot of people will be disappointed because "their guy" didn't win.
I hope that at the end of the day, we all realize that God's truth is out there. It may not be where we expect it. It may, in fact, be where we least expect it. All we can do is pray purposefully that His will be done, and follow the words of Micah 6:8.
Walk humbly with our God.
Always walking in Him,
Dearest God, please help us all to remember the TRUE meaning of Christmas. Help us to remember that You sent Your Son without the fanfare of Christmas trees, stockings or glass balls. Decorations are beautiful, and can help to enhance this beautiful season, but let us always remember that the spirit of Christ in a home is the most beautiful decoration of all.
I think it's pretty apropos for this blog. Why, you ask? Well, here's how I see it. Since one of the things I always struggle with is being a control freak, I am constantly trying to remember that God is here, with me, every.single.day.
So it only seems to make sense that I post something "enthusiastic" every.single.day. (At least for the month of November!)
Dear ever-present God, please remind us that You are ALWAYS with us.
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Today my paternal Grandma died.
She hasn't been well for sometime, but today at 2:30, she slipped away peacefully. My parents had just been to visit a couple of weeks ago, and my aunt and uncle arrived yesterday, so it seemed as though she was just waiting to see her children one last time.
She was 93, and had lived a long and full life, raised two children and had a career as a nurse. She outlived her first husband, my grandfather, by 33 years, and married another wonderful man, whom she outlived by nearly 15 years.
She was born in Minnesota to Finnish parents, and with my grandpa, raised my father and his sister in the suburbs of Chicago. By the time I remember them, they lived in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
They weren't the kind of grandparents that you played ball with, but I can remember working out in the yard with her. She used to say that her beautiful nails were the result of working in her garden. She took great pride in all of her flowers, but she loved her roses. Her backyard was covered in a bed of pine needles, which I used to love shuffling around in, much to her chagrin. She told me that ladies picked their feet up when they walked.
I can remember going to her house for Sunday Dinner. We probably didn't have roast lamb every week, but oh, I do remember it. Roast Lamb (no mint jelly, thankyouverymuch), mashed potatoes and gravy (with mushrooms) and steamed cauliflower with cheese sauce. For dessert, it was pie. Her pies were legendary. Blueberry, apple, peach. Even when she moved into a retirement community, people still loved getting dinner invitations from she and her husband, because they knew "Tulie's pies" were on the menu.
And then there was the biscuit. Her Finnish mother taught her how to make it, and when I asked Grandma to teach me, it was difficult, because she had to figure out the measurements. The tradition of Finnish Pulla will continue, Grandma.
I hadn't seen her since October 2000, when she met her first great-grandchild, my oldest son, who was three months old at the time. As of today, she had seven great-grandchildren: six boys and a girl. One of my prized photos is our "four generation" photo with my son, me, my father and my grandmother. She was so proud to have great-grandchildren.
Sweet Son #1 doesn't remember his great-grandma, and The Manimal has never met her, but my memories are sweet, and will live forever.
I love you Grandma.
Watching my own boys grow, however, makes me wonder. Did Mary ever have to put Jesus in time out? Did Joseph ever have to take Him to the wood shed to "have a talk"? Was Jesus ever sassy to His mom and dad? Did He ever not do his homework, then lie about it?
Because, seriously? If I'm to believe that Jesus was born an infant and walked the earth for 33 years, I have to assume that He was a pretty normal kid. Even as an adult, He got pretty peeved at the moneychangers and merchants in the temple, flipping over tables, chairs and all that. So I'm pretty sure He was "all boy".
I'm pretty sure that Mary, in all her virginal calmness got frustrated with her little guy when she was potty training him. I'm certain that when Joseph told Jesus to do His chores, He didn't always do them without complaining.
And yet, somehow, things turned out alright for the Holy Family.
Something to remember when I'm so frustrated with The Manimal and Sweet Son #1 that I could just spit.
Meaghan left a comment on a previous post, so like a good blogger, I checked hers out. This woman is such an inspiration. In 2007, at age 28, she was diagnosed with Stage 3B Cervical Cancer. She battled long and hard, and against all odds, she beat it! You can read her touching story at her personal blog, I Kicked Cancer's Ass.
Not one to let a little thing like cancer get her down, Meaghan and her boyfriend Bryan, started a company called "Get the Bean!", specializing in organically grown coffee. Here's the cool part. They are using GTB to help fight cancer. How exactly does selling coffee fight cancer? From the GTB Website:
THIS IS HOW IT WORKS
1. Tell us about yours or a loved ones battle against cancer
2. We will then post your story on www.gtbfightscancer.blogspot.com
3. Each month we will pick one story to feature
4. If we pick your story you get to pick your favorite G.T.B coffee flavor
5. Next we will ask you to pick the Cancer Charity you would like G.T.B to donate proceeds to
6. For the next year we will donate .50 for every bag purchased of your chosen flavor to your
7. To enter your story email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
How cool is that?! This is such a perfect example of one of my favorite quotes:
"Never doubt that a small, committed group of people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." (Margaret Mead)
If you are as inspired by Meaghan's story as I was, go forth and buy beans!
OK, so as a little postscript, I have to say that I was looking to buy the "coffee of the month" so I called GTB's customer service number, and guess what?! I talked to Meaghan! :) She is so excited about this project, and they are LITERALLY just getting underway, so the first story of the month hasn't yet been chosen. Stay tuned, though, I'm sure she'll let everyone know when it's up and running!
Sarah introduced me to a beautiful song today. It is such a good reminder that I can do nothing on my own. All my strength comes from Him.
This is something that I, as a bit of a control freak, struggle with on a daily (hourly) basis. I plan for a living, so when something is overwhelming, I resort to what I know. I plan. Lately, I've come to realize that, while God doesn't expect us to throw up our hands and do nothing, relying only on what we know is truly the antithesis of faith.
As quoted in one of my favorite movies, faith is "believing in things when common sense tells you not to." When I've given my best and still much is left to accomplish, I can only rely on my faith in God. He has told me that I needn't worry. He will take care of me. As the song goes "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."
In my busy life, I can look at it this way. God isn't asking me to tear my hair out or gnash my teeth worrying about things. He doesn't NEED me to have faith in Him, he WANTS me to have faith in Him. Because when I have faith that my God will handle things, I am free. Free from worry and fear. And because I don't have to worry, I can do things like be with my family. Play with my children. Help those in need. Spend time with Him.
Look at these lines:
"How refreshing to know You don't need me.
How amazing to find that You want me."
Isn't it amazing, that the God of the Universe, the Savior of the World, the Creator of Everything would want ME? Crazy, control freak ME? How wonderfully humbling.
If you ask me to leap
Out of my boat on the crashing waves
If You ask me to go
Preach to the lost world that Jesus saves
I'll go, but I cannot go alone
Cause I know I'm nothing on my own
But the power of Christ in me makes me strong
Makes me strong
Cause when I'm weak,
You make me strong
When I'm blind,
You shine Your light on me
Cause I'll never get by living on my own ability
How refreshing to know You don't need me
How amazing to find that You want me
So I'll stand on Your truth,
and I'll fight with Your strength
Until You bring the victory,
by the power of Christ in me
If You ask me to run
And carry Your light into foreign land
If You ask me to fight
Deliver Your people from Satan's hand
To reach out with Your hands
To learn through Your eyes
To love with the love of a savior
To feel with Your heart
And to think with Your mind
I'd give my last breath for Your glory
Always In Him...
In Haiti, where the average annual income is $300 USD, $2000 for a little girl's surgery may as well be a million dollars, but thanks to the generosity of some wonderful folks, Julie will have a chance to live up to her God-given potential.
And that, in the abject poverty, of Haiti, is truly a miracle.
In this time of last-minute planning, several members of our church community took a quick trip down to Haiti to help move our full-time missionary couple into their new home, Kai bo Rivye (house on the river), which will also serve as housing quarters for work teams. One of our church members, Todd Pierson, who is an amazing photographer, was on the team to take photos for use in the NLH materials and at the banquets. Five others, including an electrician, were on the trip as well.
Sometimes it's important to slow down the activity and remember exactly WHY we are focusing so much time and effort on one small village in Haiti.
Julie is a special needs girl I met last week in Haiti. She has a cleft palate and is in the need of surgery to correct her condition. I currently have a campaign running to raise the funds to help pay for the procedure which is only $1000 U.S. and can be done in Port au Prince. She is so sweet and was waving to use (after she got over her fear) as we shot her photo. Her mom is currently overwhelmed with buying formula and trying to figure out how to pay for it. This is one chance to make a difference in one child's life. We can't fix it all, but this one is right in front of us. It was pretty emotional to be there on Friday afternoon knowing by just shooting these images, this child has a shot at growing and developing normally. If you would like to help, shoot me an email and tell me how much you are donating. The check should be made out to "New Life for Haiti" and sent to with a note indicating it's for Julie to this address:
New Life for Haiti
PO Box 33
Plainfield, IL 60544
Julie is only one beautiful little girl living in the village of Marfranc. Sometimes, though, it's easy to get caught up in the masses and forget that the masses are made up of individuals. In trying to make life better and bring the love of God to this village, we often forget that they have real, pressing life issues.
Dearest Lord of the poor, as we work to bring Your love to a country so ravaged by poverty that day-to-day needs are not being met, please help us to remember all of the Julies living there. The sweet little children who truly are the future of a good and beautiful Haiti. Touch our hearts, as we work to touch the lives of this tiny country.
So she went along and she went along and she went along till she met Cocky-Locky. 'Where are you going, Henny-Penny?' says Cocky-Locky. 'Oh! I'm going to tell the king the sky's a-falling,' says Henny-Penny. 'May I come with you?' says Cocky-Locky. 'Certainly,' says Henny-Penny. So Henny-Penny and Cocky-Locky went to tell the king the sky was falling.
They went along, and they went along, and they went along, till they met Ducky-Daddles. 'Where are you going to, Henny-Penny and Cocky-Locky?' says Ducky-Daddles. 'Oh! we're going to tell the king the sky's a-falling,' said Henny-Penny and Cocky-Locky. 'May I come with you?' said Ducky-Daddles. 'Certainly,' said Henny-Penny and Cocky-Locky. So Henny-Penny, Cocky-Locky, and Ducky-Daddles went to tell the king the sky was a-falling.
It is a time to be especially frugal with the gifts He has bestowed on me, spending them wisely rather than foolishly. Being assured that God will provide for our needs, when we ourselves prayerfully take care of the gifts He has provided us.
Lord of us all, help us not to be worried and overwhelmed by the issues of the day. Remind us to step back and give thanks for what we have, for it is truly a treasure, no matter how small it may seem to human eyes. Help us to relax in You and immerse ourselves in the reality of You. Give us the strength to believe that You will care for us just as you care for the sparrows, the lillies, and yes, even the Henny-Pennys of the world. Our needs will be met, we will be cared for, and we will come to see that our worries were all for naught.
Our church is a partner in New Life for Haiti, an organization founded in 2005 to help change lives in Marfranc, Haiti. Marfranc is in the Grande Anse River Valley on the southern peninsula of the country, south of the city of Jeremie.
More than 80% of Haitians live in abject poverty, with the annual income for a family of four averaging somewhere around the $300 USD mark. Three hundred dollars. Annually. Haiti is without question, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, perhaps in the world.
Many churches and other mission organizations do great good in areas of Haiti. What work teams from NLH have learned, however, is that Haitians are skeptical of "blancs", or "whites", which is what they call the typically lighter-skinned teams that come to help. While they are grateful for the help, very often it comes sporadically or one-time only. For any REAL change, that is, one that will last and be impactful, to occur, two things must be present: persistence and time. Or, to be more specific, persistence OVER time. Often, great persistence over a long period of time.
On Saturday, October 11th, New Life for Haiti will hold the 3rd Annual Chicagoland Gala. This is an amazing event, with a cocktail reception, served dinner, silent auction, raffle, and program. This gala, along with another in Mattoon, IL, serve as the primary fundraising events for the year. Monies raised at these events, along with a few other small events, make up the entire annual budget. If money for a projected activity (like refurbishing a school) isn't raised, then the project doesn't happen.
NLH is doing more than just making the physical surroundings of Marfranc better. When work teams go, they really get to know the people of Marfranc. They hold children. They play games. They teach Bible school and make crafts. They visit a local nursing home (an almost unheard-of institution in Haiti). They laugh with the men and help paint the women's fingernails. They drink strong Haitian coffee on the porch with the Pastor. For the length of the trip, they LIVE with the people. Interactions like this help to strengthen the bond between the "blancs" of NLH and the villagers of Marfranc. Community is built, and for one small village on the southern peninsula of Haiti, and a group of suburbanites from the USA, the chasm between is eliminated. We are all the same. We are all children of God.
I've not yet been privileged enough to have been a part of one of the work teams to Haiti, but I've "get it". I understand WHY we are there. I get it. God has called us to help the poorest of the poor, and Haitians, well, they are that. But they are rich in faith and joy. God has brought them "new life" and they do sing glory and praise to Him.
I've rambled a bit in this post, but I want to try and share with you. This is near and dear to my heart, and we're trying to "spread the word". To paraphrase Margaret Mead, a few small churches CAN change the world. If you have some time, and feel so called, please check out some of the links. If you feel God calling you to help, we'll take it! :) If you're in the Chicago area and would like a wonderful night out, we've got space for you and we'd love to have you as our guests. If you would pray for Haiti, and for the work that God is doing through NLH, we'd greatly appreciate it.
It's easy, with mission work, to feel like your one small voice isn't making much difference. My generation makes me a "street kid". Sesame Street, that is. Although this clip is a bit more my boys' generation, it says so much.
Every song the world sings, each was once unknown.
Somebody felt a song inside and wasn't afraid to sing alone.
If you feel the music and you sing it clear and true,
then the world can sing with you.
One small voice can teach the world a song.
Start with one small voice till another sings along.
And then you'll feel the music growing full and sure and strong.
One small voice can teach the world a song.
No tune is too simple. No voice can be wrong.
Music can come from any heart and anyone's voice can lead the song.
If you feel the music and if you believe the words, sing and you'll be heard.
Singing to Him...
Are you confused? Clearly I am.
I forced myself, however, to leave the first couple of sentences. And I do mean FORCED.
I have control issues, you see. God has really been working on me in this area, reminding me that He is in control, and I, despite my valiant efforts, am not.
I've often been encouraged to journal as a way of sorting out my thoughts and feelings. I've never really been very successful, though, because I tend to want everything "just so", with the perfect purple prose and gorgeous grammar. Something in me just cannot put a "draft" on paper, at least one that is so clearly "stream of consciousness".
I'm working hard on that. Hence the jumble that opened this post.
At any rate, part of my really big, God-sized idea is a book. As in me. Writing one.
I've had this dream of being a published writer for a long time. I love to write, and have been told it is one of my gifts. Unfortunately, I'm at a loss for topics. I don't see myself as a fiction writer, and yet I can't readily envision a non-fiction piece either.
Which is, of course, a dilemma, since every piece of writing falls pretty squarely into either fiction or non-fiction.
So I decided to go back to the beginning of writing and back to the old-school fall backs. Prompts. Ironically, for as much as I like to write, I never much cared for prompts when they were assigned. Writing about "what I did on my summer vacation" was not high on my priority list the first week back at school. Revisiting "a time when I was frightened" seemed pointless to me. Why in the world would I want to relive something that frightened me?
Fortunately, I'm not the only wannabe author in the world. I recently found a great blog that offers writing prompts. I'm going to have to commit myself to this exercise (sort of like my early morning workouts, but that's another story entirely) in order to see any results. I'll be using this blog as my forum, so I'll rely on all of you to be my audience. I'm apologizing in advance.
Meanwhile, I'll be praying that God helps clear the mud in my head and clarifies what He's working on with this "big idea".
Gracious and loving God, Author of all our stories, I'm trying so hard to really let You be in control. It's easier when I don't have crisis hanging over me, I know, but still I struggle.
I'm sure You're going somewhere with all of the change in me, and I do trust You. Please help me to trust You even more, as You continue to write my story.
I've always loved fall, due in part to the marvelous fall colors and styles. Who doesn't love a chunky knit sweater and fabulous blue jeans with a cute pair of boots? I especially love the fact that, at my church, we are pretty casual, and more concerned with people than with fashion. What this means to me is that I can really be comfortable when I worship. Not that I don't love getting dressed up, but I like to move around a bit when I sing or play, and some dressy clothes, well, just aren't made for that.
I even love to shop for new clothes for my boys. Of course, being boys, they're not nearly as excited about new clothes as I am, but that's ok, because in the long run, I think finding appropriate clothes for boys is WAY easier than girls.
Soon, you'll see new clothes around here too! Apparently, the randomizer decided that "my number was up", so to speak, and I won Shane's blog design giveaway. Stay tuned to see which of Judi's fabulous pre-made designs I chose! :)
My favorite fall fashions, however, are created by the Master Designer Himself. I went to college at the quintessential college campus. Fall in southwest Ohio is so spectacular, and we were treated each year to stunning displays of color. While these aren't my photos, they show a place where I feel very at home. Take a look and enjoy.
Dearest Lord, the Designer of the World, help us to appreciate beauty in whatever form it appears. We are grateful that You allow us the privilege to see the changing of the seasons, and all that brings to this beautiful world You have created. Remind us that nothing happens by accident, and know that You, our Lord, cares for each of us in the same way that You care for each of your creations.
Enthusiastically enjoying Your world.
I am so grateful that, once you have our hearts, you never let go, even if I want to.
You whispered in my ears, "Never fear, for I am here", and I heard, through the crashing noise of my world, tumbling down.
I am blessed, beyond imaginings, with believers near and far, whom I call friends.
They who lifted up my cries and pleadings to You, the Friend of us all.
They who wrapped me in their loving arms and took me into their hearts.
I thank You for blessing me so richly, and sing enthusiastically...
How Great is MY God!
I know that I've come a long way in my journey with Christ, because six months ago, that news would have put me into a downward, deeply despairing spiral. Now, while I am upset and disappointed by the news, it does not incapacitate me.
Yesterday at church, I shared the news with my pastor, who has been a calming balance to me through all of this. As my throat filled up and tears welled up in my eyes, he took my shoulders and said "And before this happened, God knew about it."
He, of course, is right. God knows. He always knows and never lets go of our hearts. It doesn't matter whether we're dealing with rains that never cease (well, eventually they do, but three days is a LONG time!), devastating hurricanes, marriage troubles, job loss, home foreclosure or our own daily challenges, He never lets go of us.
That one comforting phrase has become my touchstone. With so many others facing challenges greater and smaller than mine, I know that my God is there.
My two year old knows too. He loves to sing, and without warning, will often break into song. One of his favorites is this one, the chorus sung at the top of his lungs.
Oh no, dearest Lord, you NEVER let go.
No matter what is happening in our lives, calm or storm.
Regardless of my own lack of faith, or when my overwhelmed mind simply forgets.
Gentle reminders abound that I need not fear.
Rather, I can hold on and sing enthusiastically "Oh no, You never let go of me."
"Why should I feel discouraged, when the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely, longing for Heaven and home?"
I, like so many others, struggle with clinical depression. We're not talking about having a bad day, just down in the dumps kind of feelings. I'm talking serious, long-term, want to stay in bed all day, stop the world I want to get off kind of feelings. Fortunately, I have wonderful friends and family, a great Christian therapist, and the right medications.
Recently, I found a new blog, Heart Reflections. A pastor's wife, Shane shares her heart openly, and her post about Journalling Through the Psalms really spoke to my own heart.
I love the Psalms. Perhaps it is because they were David's songs. He sang and played what was in his heart. Sometimes he was happy, and sometimes, he despaired. But always, he relied on the Lord.
"Yahweh, I know You are near.
Standing always at my side.
You guard me from the foe
and you lead me in ways everlasting."
I am coming to feel, more and more, the constant presence of God in my life. It is difficult to put into words, and maybe that's how it should be. So awe-inspiring, so peace-giving, that words fail. Or words without tune, anyway.
"The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be.
As long as life endures."
I know that He is there, through the peaks and valleys. He is with me when I worship and when I despair. When I celebrate and when I weep. I know, because I have felt His arms embrace me, through those of friends."I sing because I'm happy. I sing because I'm free. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."
And so, to the God who is with me forever, I sing in the only way I know how.
I posted this on my other blog today, but it speaks my heart.
As I was dropping Sweet Son #1 off at school this morning, we passed by the flagpole at half mast. I asked him if he knew why it was at half mast today.
"Because somebody important died?"
Yes, baby. Many, many somebodies.
Pie Jesu, dona eis requiem sempiternam.
Merciful Jesus, grant them everlasting rest.
I plan events for a living. Part of my job is to try and predict every eventuality that might possibly affect the success of said events. At work, my control freak nature is a great quality. In my personal life? Notsomuch.
Especially when it comes to things in my life over which I truly have no control. Over the past year, those things have come with unnerving regularity. I've come to the conclusion that God, with his sometimes sick sense of humor, just keeps putting them out there to remind me that, much to my chagrin, not only am I not in control of some things in my life, I'm really not in control. Of anything. At all. Ever.
Why exactly do I struggle so with letting the God of the Universe handle my fears? Don't I have faith in Him? Haven't I seen how He has been at work in my life? I've heard all of the cliches.
"Faith and fear cannot exist in the same place."
"Fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real."
And on and on they go. Unfortunately, I still fear that which I cannot control. And right now, I'm fearing a doozie. Without going into great detail, let's just say that it's a situation that is COMPLETELY out of my control, but yet affects me directly, and has been going on for almost 15 months.
And still, every day, God finds ways to remind me that HE and only HE is in control. Like today, when I "accidentally" clicked on CWO's Internet Cafe Devotions and found this.
I can't adequately summarize the devotion for you, but suffice it to say, it talks about choosing faith over fear. Tracy says this: "If we are going to choose faith over fear, then, as we put off fear, we must put ON faith. Romans tells us that ALL of us, every one has been “given a measure of faith.” All believers have been given faith by God. Romans also tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. When we meditate on God’s Word, it increases our faith! Finally, we need to continue to ask God to increase our faith and then to practice putting our trust in Him."
I never much liked practicing (and I was a music major!), and I'm pretty sure that it has something to do with my need for control. I want(ed) to be good at things immediately. Like right now. Like, "Hello, God? Things are simply not moving along quickly enough for me. Could you speed things up a bit?"
Oh. Right. In His time. He's in charge. I'm not.
So I continue to do (remembering Master Yoda's admonishment "Do or do not, there is no try.").
I continue to practice "putting on faith". And I remember the words in 1 John 4:4 (paraphrased), "He who is within me is greater than he who is in the world."
Dearest Lord Jesus, putting aside my fear is so difficult. Please help me to remember that You alone are in charge. That You alone are big enough to calm to storms that rage. That You are God, and I am not. Help me put off the fear and put on faith, to wear it like a mantle against the evils of the world. To wear it with the love that You gave.
I have to say, I can't imagine an actress like Sally Field REALLY being afraid that anyone didn't like her! At any rate, fears aside for the moment, I have to enthusiastically thank the Academy (or at least my friend Heather) for bestowing the "I Heart Your Blog" award on li'l old me. I really heart her blog too, but I know part of this award is about spreading the bloggy joy around, so here are a few blogs that I "heart". Check them out!
Figs, Lavender and Cheese is not a specific kind of blog, but Cindy is a wonderful woman who enjoys life with her beautiful daughter Sophie and her husband Mr. Fig. She's also a foodie who is lucky enough to grow her own figs (imagine that!) and Meyer Lemons. I heart her blog, but I'm a bit jealous of her homegrown produce.
I Should Be Folding Laundry is the musings of Beth. She's a regular mom, like so many of us, trying to balance work with children, a hubby and a home. Ariel and Racecar are two of her adorable children, and James and Jake, the angel twins, round out the family. She opened her heart to the blogosphere by sharing her heart-wrenching story of her angel twins. I've never met her, but I'm sure she's one of the most REAL people you'd ever want to meet.
"Recounting the not-so-daily profundities" is another Heather, this one blogging at Oh My Stinkin Heck. She's a homeschooling, work-from-home mom. I've only recently discovered her site, and, OHMYSTINKINHECK, she is hilarious!
Just when I'm pretty sure that I can't handle the two God gave me, I read Octamom. She has, you guessed it, eight children. Oh yeah, and a fabulous husband!
Life In the Parsonage is an absolute must on my daily read list. Just your average Pastor's wife with three boys and a patient dog, living in Tiny Town. Reading Sarah's blog makes me wish I lived close to Tiny Town so we could enjoy a Starbucks together!
Well, those are five that get my thumbs up. Whose blogs do you heart?
I did that this morning for the last 40 minutes of my spin class. As in "Dear, sweet Lord Jesus, please let me die. Now."
I'm pretty sure that the intent of the admonishment was not that we pray to die during our workouts, but nonetheless, I'm pretty sure He heard me, because I actually had the strength to finish the class. Did I mention it was an hour class? Starting at 5:30 am? Yeah, I'm crazy.
I'm working on talking to God at least once every hour. Sometimes I remember, and sometimes I don't, and more often than not, it's a simple "Hi God, thanks for everything!" sort of prayer, but I'm pretty sure it still falls under the "pray without ceasing" category.
If you're interested in some more formalized time with God, check out Weak Weary Mom's giveaway!
Praying enthusiastically that God will heal my aching butt...
It's a pretty simple concept, really, described by author John Burke, in his book SoulRevolution. Basically, it goes like this: for the next 60 days, you talk to God every 60 minutes.
From Burke's website: "For the next 60 days, try to stay in a continuous, honest conversation with God, willing to do his will moment by moment. Set a watch or alarm to beep every 60 minutes, and put up sticky notes & reminders around you home, car & office, as a reminder to stay connected. Try to turn your thoughts back to God all throughout the day, as often as you can. This simple conscious contact with God isn't easy, but it's all you have to do - everything else will begin to fall into place over time. Even if you're not yet convinced this is true, try it. Every 60 minutes, stop and recall "God is with me right now..." and let that propel you to ask God "Show me your will this next moment. I want to be willing to do your will as an act of love toward you." "
I don't know about you, but I think this is a pretty cool concept. I don't know about you, but I'm all for a more intimate relationship with God.
Are you ready for a revolution? Mine starts today. Let me know if you want a revolution too!
In Him, the original revolutionary.
Live the Golden Rule. Do unto others, and all that jazz.
Remember who's really in control. Here's a hint. It's not you.
Don't believe the hype. Ever.
There is always someone better or worse off than you.
The world owes you nothing. The world was here first.
Attitudes really are contagious.
Do the best you can with what you have.
Teach your children that they are not the center of the universe.
Never speak (or e-mail) out of anger.
Be willing to try (almost) anything.
Don't ask any questions unless you're really prepared to hear the answers.
Know when to say nothing.
And of course, my favorite....
At least it's not totally boring anymore!
On another note (pun completely intended), I'm also beginning to learn the piano part for Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)". Our fabulous worship leader casually mentioned that she'd really like to use it for services. As it is totally one of my favorite worship songs EVAH, I'm SO excited! :)
Finally, did you ever think that maybe, somehow, your pastor has a little spy in your head? As in, his sermons are talking DIRECTLY to you? Yeah, me too. More on that when I can fashion my thoughts into some sort of coherent ramblings.
Hope you're all enjoying summer.
On the plus side, I've installed Firefox.
I'm starting to see the light, but I still hear that voice a lot.
The Devil is counting on my weakness, both emotional and spiritual, to be the conduit for his evil little voice, the one that will instill the worm of doubt into my faith.
God knows my weakness, both emotional and spiritual, and uses my childlike desire to be loved and cared for, by opening His arms and saying "I will crush that worm of doubt. Bring your cares to me. I will give you rest."
The Devil takes my negative self-talk and compounds it, agreeing with that negativity.
God takes my negative self-talk and says, "No child of mine will use that kind of language, especially about one of my most precious creations."
The Devil knows my fears of inadequacy and says, "Yes, you are right. You will never be a good mom, wife, sister or daughter. Give up now. Get off the roller coaster."
God knows my fears of inadequacy and says, "There will always be people whose skills are stronger or weaker than yours. Celebrate your differences, don't compare. Know that life is a roller coaster ride, with its ups and downs, and sometimes, it's hard to keep your lunch down. But know this, too. I will keep you safe. Turn to me when you're happy or sad, up or down, and I'll be there for you."
Lord of all that is holy, bless the voice in my head. Make it echo Your words. Words of strength and compassion, not just for others, but for ourselves. Help us to remember that by allowing you, inviting you, to take control of our lives, we have more freedom than we could ever imagine.
Only in You.
It has to do with the fact that I've been trying (without great success, I confess), to make some healthier choices in my life. I decided it's high time to really WORK on being a blessing and living my life in praise and gratitude to God for His marvelous gifts. Unfortunately, I've been doing a lot more thinking than working.
Sometimes, as a dear friend of mine told me, one's own head can be a dangerous neighborhood.
Anyway, I have to hash out the idea in my head more before I can put it on paper (or in cyberspace for that matter).
I apologize for my random ramblings, but things are a little nutty in my world.
So today I INTENTIONALLY got up at 5 am. It was wonderful. A girl could get used to the peace and quiet.
As in, once I was awakened (by the two-year-old legs kicking me, and the two-year-old voice saying "Mommy, I poo!"), I could NOT get back to sleep.
Now, I know there are people who WILLINGLY arise at this hour, but I? Am not one of them.
I know that one of the reasons I wasn't able to drift back into dreamland was my worrisome head. Yet another reason for me to empty it each night and give over everything to He who manages the worries of the world.
We had a New Life for Haiti banquet planning meeting last night. This is a near-and-dear-to-my-heart kind of cause, supported by our church. It is heartening to know that we really are making a difference in this little river valley in Haiti. I know that my problems and challenges, as crazy as they might be, are nothing compared to the daily challenges faced by most Haitians.
And yet, they have something that I don't.
Their hope is not waning. Their faith is strong. They believe that the God who puts fresh water "within their reach" (1.5 hours down a mountain, and 1.5 hours back up) is the same God who will deliver them from malnutrition and abject poverty.
Dear God, Father of those who struggle, please strengthen my faith. Help me to believe, really believe, that "you never let go, through the calm and through the storm." Help me, Lord, to believe without seeing, that You, and only You, will lead me out of the darkness of my mind and into the joyous light of your presence.
Out of the darkness. Into the light of Him.
On my other blog, I have the "Live Well" snippets. Today's reads "With God all things are possible. Maybe it's time to rely on His strength."
My KLOVE "Encouraging Word" for today was "Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God's presence." (Ephesians 3:12, NLT)
The song that came up first on my YouTube Playlist? "God Is In Control" by Twila Paris.
Okay, so maybe this is the spiritual equivalent of grabbing me by the shoulders and shaking me hard?
Actually, I might prefer that right now. Because the desire to simply run away is overwhelming. You see, I've been struggling with a situation now for a year. A situation that affects me directly, but is not a result of my own actions. A situation over which I have no control. A situation that, for now, has no visible resolution in sight.
It has been suggested to me that my "ups and downs" over the past year may be the result of God trying to accomplish something in me. I don't doubt that. It may be a "spiritual shaking" of sorts. As in "Hello! Wake up! You don't have to worry about everything here. In fact, I'm in control right now, so just leave the outcome up to me."
Apparently, though, I'm kind of stubborn.
I know I'm not deserving of His grace, and yet, there it is, covering me. I know my faith is small right now, and yet He says that it doesn't matter if it's as small as a mustard seed; it is large enough.
It's easy to want to let go, to slip off the rope, down into nothingness. That wouldn't require any interaction with others. It wouldn't require vulnerability on my part. It would allow me to remain "in control" (riiigght...) of the situation.
But God asks more. He says, "My grace is enough for you. Love one another. Support one another. Lean on one another." Or something like that. "Don't let go. I'm here to support you, but you have to ask for help. I gave you free will, so, I suppose, if you want to let go, you can. But know that I'm not leaving. I look for the lost. I love it when they find their way back."
Essentially, I can run away, but I can't hide. Because His grace is enough, and He will always find me.
Help me, please, Lord. Give me strength to share my burdens, so when my hands slip from the ropes (and they will), someone's else's hands will reach out to grab them. And we can find our strength, together.
My blogging friend June shared an absolutely wonderful quote on her blog today. If only we could all have this attitude!
"Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, 'Oh no. She's awake.'" (anonymous)
I'm also a bit of a control freak, so traditional journalling, with the idea that things don't have to be perfect, is incredibly difficult for me. I'm much more comfortable at a computer where I'm able to correct, rewrite, rearrange...well, you get the idea...at will, and quickly. I become more focused on the finished product than on the emotional/mental/spiritual healing that may come from recording my thoughts.
I found a beautiful quote on another blog early today. It gives a beautiful rationale as to why we should write.
Perfect or not, it is indeed important to capture the butterflies that somehow tug at our minds, hearts or spirits. It shouldn't matter that the grammar might not be precise (God forbid!) or the prose not quite as purple as we might like, but rather we should concentrate on opening our brains and letting the creativity spill forth in words.
Recently, I've come across many Christian bloggers who consider themselves "King James Only" when it comes to scripture translations. While I applaud them for their convictions, I don't necessarily agree with them. I've been very happy (in my limited scriptural knowledge) with my New International Version translation, and a couple of years ago, was introduced to "The Message". I think (again, with my limited knowledge) that it is important to consider several versions when really looking for the meaning that the writers intended to convey.
As far as speaking to my heart, here is Col. 3:15-17, as it appears in my "go-to" translation, the NIV:
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
And here it is in The Message:
"Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way."I love The Message, because it speaks in "normal" language, the language of the everyday. I can totally see Paul saying "Hey now, none of this going off and doing your own thing." I believe that the early followers of Christ were real people, living real lives, and I'd like to believe that they spoke to their peers in language that was easily understood, and pertinent to the day.
While others may not share my feelings about scripture, I just can't believe that Jesus and His followers were some high and mighty academics who spoke far above the heads of the crowd. My Jesus was real. The kind of man who flipped over tables in the temple and got angry. The kind who sometimes used less-than-perfect grammar to make his point known.
If only I could remember that next time it is suggested that I journal.
Kapra was funny and serious, entertaining and determined. She could make you laugh with her freakishly large mouth and fist routine--she could literally stick her entire fist in her mouth--and yet she would comfort you when you were down. She wasn't afraid to poke fun (at herself and others) and yet she was a devoted musician, dedicated to perfecting her French horn talents and skills.
Kapra chose a military life, and at the time of her death was a Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army. She served several tours of duty in Afghanistan and other middle east locations, with an Army band unit. She continued as a music educator in the Army, merging her passion for music and for people.
As I mentioned, hearing about her untimely death was quite a shock. Not just because she was only 38 years old, but also because it was a vivid reminder that we simply don't know when our time on earth will be done. God gives each of us a gift--life. He doesn't dictate how we should live that life, but rather leaves it up to each of us.
Since I became a Christian, this idea of life truly being a gift from God has really struck me. Have I really been using my life to the fullest, in ways that will glorify Him? Pertinent to my current situation especially, have I wasted time worrying about things that are out of my control? Why do I find it so difficult to "give it up to God"?
Having grown up Catholic, I feel very much that I'm a baby when it comes to scripture studies. Fortunately, I'm the type of person who, when faced with something new, tries to "read up" on the subject. Jeremiah 29:11-14 has been in my heart as of late:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
It is a good reminder that God is in control, and we can rely on Him implicitly. He will take care of us so we can live to glorify Him, no matter how much time we have on earth.
Rest in peace, my dear friend Kapra. And may we all rest in Him.
Main Entry: en·thu·si·asm
Pronunciation: \in-ˈthü-zē-ˌa-zəm, en-, also -ˈthyü-\
Etymology: Greek enthousiasmos, from enthousiazein to be inspired, irregular from entheos inspired, from en- + theos god
1 a: belief in special revelations of the Holy Spirit b: religious fanaticism
2 a: strong excitement of feeling : ardor
I daresay that most of the world embraces the second definition and doesn't even realize the origins of the word. I learned the definition from a dear friend and mentor many years ago, long before I truly began my journey with Christ. Since then, I embraced the word (and The Word), but only recently have decided to try and LIVE it.
I'm not a naive new Christian who believes that just because I accepted Christ, everything will be sunshine and roses. It's more of an "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it." sort of attitude. This doesn't mean, however, that I don't struggle.
One of my weaknesses is control. I'm sort of a control freak. Heck, I plan events for a living, and that's ALL about controlling details. God has been challenging me, like, SERIOUSLY challenging me over the last year. I'll probably go into the situation later, but for now, let's just leave it at that. I basically have absolutely NO control over the outcome of the situation, and in order to keep my very sanity, I really just need to trust that God will handle things in His time, and in His way.
This is difficult for me.
So I begin today anew. With a trust in God that all will work out in His time and His way.
Today my prayer will be for strength. For calm. For peace in my heart and in my soul. I pray that I will remember, today and always, to live in him.