Category Archives: Faith

Losing Everything to Gain Everything

“Pretend your family has to leave your home quickly.  You may take only one suitcase.  What would you pack?”

This was the question on an assignment my boys had to complete and that I am just now grading.  I chuckled when I read their answers:

  1. Cloths (I believe this should be “clothes” 😉
  2. Toby (the family dog)
  3. Toby’s food
  4. Action figure
  5. bible
  6. toys
  7. pants
  8. underwear (yes, I agree….these are VERY important!)
  9. shirts
  10. books
  11. DS
  12. yogurt covered raisins
  13. charger for DS

LOL!  My how priorities remain different for each of us!  What was on your list? 

I was thinking about pictures, important documents, my purse, etc.  yet to young boys, action figures and video games remain as one of the most important things they own.

Recent tornadic events have swept away what alot of people would consider important.  The residents of Diamond Creek in Forney, Texas  are still picking through what is left of their material possessions.  What may have seemed so important at the beginning of the year is probably very different for most right now. 

Realizing that no one died or was seriously injured surely has caused our community to come back to the importance of life.  Having our families, friends, and neighbors well and healthy brings about a new appreciation for the protection, love, and intervention of God.

Now that the clean up is mostly done and the rebuild is going on, what will we do with this memory?  Will we do what we can to go back to life as it was before the tornado?  Will we build our houses, both physically and spiritually, in such a way that we duplicate what was the “norm”?  Just how long will it take for us to forget the blessings of the past weeks, and start to replace all the “stuff” God allowed to vanish?

I’m not just talking about houses, cars, clothes, and video games.  The “stuff” I’m referring to is our need to gather all those things  — the American dream, the desire toward pridefulness and power and position, and our insistence to keep up with “The Joneses”. 

Stuff like the comfortableness in which we live, or perhaps the wastefulness of our time…the hoarding of treasures and memories.  The stuff we take for granted.  Stuff that pales in comparison to life and relationships.  Stuff comes in lots of forms:  money, position, technology, business, paper, plastic, convenience, procrastination, beautiful colors, memoriable events, books, and ideals.  It can permeate our lives before we even stop to realize that most of it is just “stuff”.

A pastor of the local church we have recently visited took time to speak of such stuff and the effects it can have on our lives.  His thought provoking question was “Is it eternal?” 

The absolute answer to most of our “stuff” is “No, it’s not.”

We often, even unknowingly, use our stuff to set an image to others of what our life is like.  These images are usually false and not at all a real representation.

Years ago, I realized that good friends in my life actually thought I was much more than I am.  They were surprised to hear that my house is not always clean, my children do not always behave, and I, even I, made mistakes.  {gasp!}  I guess because of my quest for perfection at work, they believed my personal life was also that way. 

(And now I just feel the need to break here and laugh out loud!!!  Bwa hahahahaha!)

What my friends had no clue about was that I frequently mess up.  I have baggage.  My house is pretty much always a wreck  (at least until I know someone is coming over, lol).  Try as I may, I cannot clean enough around here.  Try as I might, stuff creeps into my time and thoughts and many times prevents me from being what I know I should be.

Right now in my living room there are mounds of toys, video games,  and a tent set up and encompassing the small amount of space still visible on the floor.  There’s dust on the ceiling fan and furniture, something stuck on the floor under the rocking chair, and toe prints from where the boys and grandchild have endlessly walked on the wooden floor.  I have two sinks full of dirty dishes, things scattered across the kitchen counter, and a whole stack of papers to grade on the table.  Outside, within my current view, is a bag of lawn clippings that need to be thrown out.  There is also bits of fuzz scattered all over the back lawn from where the puppy decided to shred our grill cover…..again. 

This is everyday life around here.  If you called and said you were on the way to our house, I would most assuredly rush to put away all this stuff! 

Still, even though rushing to clean up the house for you, I would hope that our lives represent a real-ness from the Lord.  Even if you came unannounced, I would invite you in, longing to make you feel welcome and be attentive to the purpose for your visit.  I would hope that even surrounded in my stuff, you would enjoy being here and look past my failures as a Domestic Engineer.

I wasn’t always this way.  I used to put only my best foot forward trying to impress and amaze.  During that time, only the best of my stuff was on display.  Nice dishes, perfectly folded towels, trophies, perfectly dressed children pre-scolded about their behavior lined up at the door to greet all who enter… these were part of the stuff I wanted people to see.

What hides behind a perfectly displayed life?  How many times do we greet others masking the events of our personal life with a smile and a nod?  Do we really expect our stuff to effectively shield true lives? 

Our life is messy.  I am definately not perfect.  We have too much non-eternal stuff around here, and what I have figured out is that I don’t have time to lead a non-eternal, stuff-filled life anymore.

Learning to look past stuff, taking moments to address stuff, and talking about how less important alot of stuff is in our lives has led us to alot of decisions.  We have purposefully tried to let go of stuff and look toward only what God would set before us.  These past few years have led us to leave alot behind.  Whether purposefully removed by us or by God, we have found that our lives are becoming more of what they should be. 

This is still transforming even now as we seek our next residence and ministry, but all I can say is “Wow, God really is better than our stuff!”  His stuff is lasting.  His provision is real.  He really does know what it is we should be doing and how we should be doing it.  We just have to lose our stuff to gain His.

There’s still alot of unanswered questions about our immediate future but I honestly believe that wherever He takes us, it will be the right place.  His allowing us to lose stuff in our lives is leading us to a better place.  Although a bit painful at times, the journey is proving more eye-opening every day. 

Sometimes we have to lose everything as we know it, or aspire it to be in order to gain just what He wants, and it is then that the eternal stuff starts to matter a great deal more.

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Children, Church, Faith, Family, God, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Humor, Life, money, Obedience, Parenting, Power, Priorities, Sin, Weather

As for Me and My House

Book, Chapter & Verse

Some of the last words from Joshua: “Now therefore, fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt.  Serve the Lord!  And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  Joshua 24:14-15

If you are reading the Chronological plan, these are the words you will see today.  As I thought about them, it reminded me of how many “things” we let into our house.  Good and bad, these things affect our lives in ways we don’t often stop to…

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Once upon a time…

Once upon a time, long long ago…(ok, well not TOO long ago), there was a fair maiden named Juliet.  She married a handsome prince and had four wonderful children.  Two of her children grew up and married handsome princes of their own.  These two men were valiant and brave members of the knighthood, serving a country who stood on the premise of freedom for all.  All peoples in the kingdom of this wonderful land lived together in peace and harmony…

…until one day their castles fell. 

Two beautiful castles as high as the sky it seemed came crashing to the ground, bringing all those inside to certain death.  Down came the Mommies and Daddies.  Down came the children.  Down came 3,000 + people who lived in the kingdom of the free and the brave.

How could this be?  How could anyone disturb this serene land?  Who would ever think of devising such a plan as to bring down the beautiful castles and break the hearts of the kingdom?

A very wicked bad man…yes, an unconscionable evil character who proclaimed that the free and the brave should not be free any longer.  His awful scheme to control the world for his “god” became the battle cry as he declared this a “holy” war against all those who are from this great land.  He was out to wage war against all the good and fair peoples of the world…

…and wage war he did.

“Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God . . . . I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America.”  Osama bin Laden to Time Magazine

Bringing down the two castles killed the 3,000.  Brick by falling brick, their families were suddenly faced with insurmountable futures.  Dust by particle of dust falling from the sky, the people in the great land began to realize that they were not safe and happy any longer.

Doubts, fears, mistrust, among other perilous plights surfaced daily, weekly, monthly, and during the next decade.  No longer did the people feel safe.  No longer did they roam freely upon the great land.

‎”We will not tire.  We will not falter.  We will not fail.” George W. Bush, 10/26/01

Efforts were made by the land’s government to find the wicked man and his ranks.  Search parties were sent out among the world, seeking the hide-out of this evil leader.  Vast wealth and riches from the governmental storehouses were spent to fund this effort, but to no avail…

…until 10 years later…

“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden…”  President Barak Obama, May 1, 2011

…when a group of soldiers like the valiant princes in Juliet’s family boarded four helicopters and landed upon the evil fortress taking down the wicked mastermind of the castle destruction.

Oh the people rejoiced!  Oh how happy they were! With raised hands, dancing and clapping, they shouted the name of the great land into the night as word spread of the evil man’s fall!

“The wicked end has come!”, they shouted.  “Our battle is won!”  “Praises to the One and True God of the land who has promised peace and tranquility to all who follow Him!”, they thought.

Now the valiant princes can come home!  Now the princesses will spend their “happily ever after” with the man they love!  Now there will be love, such love, and happiness among all the world!

No fear.  No tears.  No mistrust.  No inappropriate pat-downs at the royal airport.

All is well again in the great and free land!

…but then the fair maiden began to stir.  Tossing her covers aside, and waking from her deep sleep, she faced a harsh reality…

…the reality that all is NOT well.  The great land is still NOT safe, and the evil conqueror may be dead, but has many loyal followers who would just as soon kill again.

The people rejoice too vibrantly.  They appear across news stations smiling and jumping up and down not even fully understanding the true war that continues to rage.

The valiant princes remain military soldiers in an even more dangerous battle now that the “pot has been stirred”.  They will not be coming home today.  Peace will not come.  Not now…..maybe not ever.

Evilness continues to reign freely in the ranks of the fallen dictator.  Many more tyrants and terrorists will most likely commit their life to dying for the wicked cause.

Peace will not come this day because it has been foretold and proven to be a world of unrest until the one day when our true and glorious rescue will come.

” Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.  He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:  KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”  Revelation 19: 11-16

Upon a white stallion, amidst abundant light, THE Light, Jesus Christ, will return to end the battle!  He will strike evil between the eyes, crushing the darkness with His very fingertip.  

Juliet knows that this “dream” of the wicked ruler and his fall was only a dream….a fairytale.

Reality sets in when she stops to contemplate that the battles of this world are only because of man’s depravity and sinful nature.  The enemy is satan and ourself.  We pretend to be “kings” and “queens” who deserve a life of happiness and comfort, when in actuality, our pride and selfishness lead to others falling into jealousy, rage, contempt, and war….a holy war.  Maybe even to be described as our “holier than thou” war for that is the way it is perceived to those outside of the Lord’s wisdom.

No, the princes will not come home today.  The war is not over.  They will continue to fight for freedom, putting their lives on the line daily.

No, peace will not reign today. 

No, the people of the great land, who misunderstand the will of God, continue to jubilantly rejoice totally unaware of what is to come.

God never promised us a “rose garden”.  He never said we will reign in peace without despair and tribulation.  On the contrary, He made very clear that the enemy of this world will fight unto death to destroy the works created by the Creator.

Fortunately for those who believe, we can rest on a happy ending.  As we continue to face these trials and chaos, we can know that God is still God.  There’s not a day’s event that surprises Him.  He knows already.

 So, if there must be jubilant rejoicing, let it be for Him! 

If there must be smiles upon the death of a raging tyrant, let it be proclaimed as a victory for the Lord!

If there must be more fighting, more security, more risk, let it be because we as Americans have founded our nation upon godly principles and understand that freedom and liberty is worth fighting for!

Osama bin Laden is dead.  Hussein is dead.  Hitler is dead.  So many evil dictators are dead, their works destroyed and their life worthless because they are D.E.A.D.

On the contrary, Jesus is ALIVE! 

I can only think of one death that brought the world peace and we celebrated His resurrection a week ago!” as posted on FB by Mike, who borrowed from J. Riddle, who apparently borrowed from her sister 🙂

Our God is greater!  Our God is stronger!

God, You are higher than any other!

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Filed under 9/11, Christ, Death, Faith, God, Holy, Jesus, Life, Sin, Terrorism, Trials, Wisdom, Worship

Oh Lord…

Oh Lord,

My leg is hurting.  I’ve stretched my tendon and it just aches.  I really want to work out but it won’t let me.

Oh Lord,

I couldn’t sleep last night…..again.  Yes I stayed up too late watching television and shouldn’t have, but then when I really wanted to sleep, it wouldn’t come. 

Oh Lord,

I’m worried.  There’s so much to worry about.  It seems at any moment our “castle” could come crumbling down…

I know to some people, these sound like petty concerns, but it reminds me of something one of my friends posted on Facebook the other day:  “It’s all so “black and white”….until you’re in the middle of it.

Oh Lord :/

I’m so grateful you healed Brett from seizures…but there’s Natalie, Lord.  There’s Natalie….such a beautiful girl.  She just wants to stand at her school desk without losing her balance.  The effects of Friedreich’s Ataxia keep her from doing that.  Lord, please heal her.  Please ease her pain.  Please comfort her Mom and Dad and each one of her brothers and sisters as they go through this journey knowing that as of now, there is no cure.  Having a sick child is heart wrenching.  Having a child with an incurable disease is life altering.

“It’s all so “black and white”…..until you’re in the middle of it.”  People just don’t understand.

 

Lord,

You know the other day when my child got mad at me?  I just don’t understand.  Oh how I try to be a good and loving Mom. ..but I failed that day.  I failed that day and many other days.  Sometimes I just fail.

Oh Lord,  help me not fail so much.  I love my kids so much — more than I can even explain in words.  However, being a parent is not easy, and sometimes it seems that no matter what I do (or don’t do)…..I just fail.

It’s all so “black and white”…..until you’re in the middle of it.”

Lord,

Just wondering what you’re going to do about selling our house?  Lord, you know we’ve been trying.  It is so important to us to be out in the country enjoying your clean, green environment.  It’s important for the boys to live the “country life”.  It’s really important, Lord — to us anyway.

But then there’s my two sons-in-law…

They are both overseas willingly putting their life on the line for who?  — People in the USA who don’t even appreciate it?  — People who have no idea the sacrifice military families make, and many of whom don’t care. 

Lord, I care.  I see the care in the eyes of both my daughters who miss their husbands so deeply.    I see that our friends care when they take time out of their day to encourage our daughters, or to spend their Spring Break helping us move one back home after her husband deployed.  I care.  They care. 

There are some that care.

My sons-in-law aren’t roaming through beautiful country right now.  They aren’t smelling the fresh clean air.  They are “enjoying” sand, and extreme temperatures, sleeping in bunks, traveling through very dangerous areas, being shot at, missing their spouses and children, and yet doing it for all of us, without complaint.

“It’s all so “black and white” because it is their job and expected as soldiers in the Army of the good ole’ USA…. except that they are in the middle of it.

Oh Lord…..nevermind.  I dont’ really NEED to move right now.  We’ve done enough of that recently, it won’t hurt us to wait for our “dream” home a while longer.

Lord, today I will try to be the best parent I can be … once again.  I will try to just remain grateful for these good times like yesterday when I was surprised with a wonderful visit by both my daughters and my Granddaughter.  Lord, that Granddaughter!!!….she just makes me smile!  🙂 🙂 🙂   See?!  I even have to add “smileys” here when I think of her!  I get even more excited knowing that there is another grandchild on the way!  Two grandchildren, Lord!  Two!  (and I’m still young enough to enjoy playing with them!)  Thank you Lord.  I love my family 🙂

Speaking of family…. I will never forget the work you have done for us healing Brett’s seizures.  Lord, you know how hard of a time that period of years was for us….feeling so hopeless to do anything for him…daily missing opportunities to enjoy life because of the fear of additional illness.  He didn’t even get a chance to play at McDonald’s as a toddler!  Definately too many germs there to risk. 

However, Lord, he is now healed!  You performed a miracle no one else could even do.  Twenty-one seizures over a period of 2-3 years now “history”, thanks to you!  No doctors can explain it.  No hospitals found conclusive reasoning, but you, Lord!  There’s no doubt that you took care of it!

…and now, I know it’s possible for you to take care of our friends. I believe, Lord, that you can heal Natalie if it serves Your will and purpose.  Please help her family get through the “gray” times, like You did for us during Brett’s illness. 

Help us to remember and help others recognize that there’s no “black and white” during hard times like these, except for Your love.   It is the one thing we can count on everyday. 

A friend, Josh King, once stated “The bible is not situationally ethical.  Man colors in the gray; God is always black and white.”  I wrote this in my bible on October 21, 2006 so that I could remind myself that You are never failing, Lord.  It is only us that colors in the “gray“.  We get so messed up in the head, confused by worry, fear, hurt, despair, desperation, anger, concern, doubt, etc that we take our eyes from You and spend all our energies trying to “fix it ourself”. 

Desperately we lash out.  Desperately we blame others.  Desperately we do things that make no sense logically (as our friends are ordering our padded room and straight jacket).  Desperately we sometimes even blame you, Lord…

…but in all actuality, You sit there, patiently waiting.  Your love is still there, wishing we would just quit flailing our arms and reach out to what you offer through faith.  If we would only learn that You are truly in control, and have our “back”, we would fare so much better.  If we would only learn…

Thank you for your consistent, never changing love Lord.

One more thing, Lord…

Writing all this now, I realize that having a sore leg isn’t so bad after all.  I’ll just try to push through the pain and work out today anyway.  I’ll “suck it up” and tell my friends I’m back on the road to fitness, even when I know I may not be quite ready to run.  I won’t let the “gray” suck me in for today, Lord.  I’ll focus on You instead.  Your “black and white” love is so much more appealing that my “gray“. 

…and when I look around and see someone else struggling, I’ll remember…

It’s all so “black and white”  … except for the thing they are in the middle of.

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Faith, Family, Febrile Seizure, Friends, God, Grace, Life, Parenting, Trials

Confession is good for the soul

Today I read Proverbs 28.  It said in verse 13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”  The Lord began pointing out the need for confession so I decided to make it a day of confession. ..even wrote down all some of my shortcomings as the day progressed.

As a nice hot shower cleanses the body, so does a time of confession does for the soul.  It’s nice to look clean, AND smell clean!  I only smell that way, however, because I am bathed with the breath of Jesus.  His love and sacrifice became the mercy I needed for such a day as this. 

Because I try to be transparent, I don’t mind sharing my list with you.  This is me…the good and bad, loved and full of mercy, before God our Creator, as I am.  For those of you who might think I am always “rosey”, well…..let’s just say the Lord isn’t finished with me yet! 

Lord, help me to spend more time loving and caring for my husband!  I have been selfish, have given into depression at times, and allow worry and anxieties to fill my day.  I have been financially irresponsible lately, allowing the accumulation of some credit card debt for things we really didn’t need.  I enjoy eating a little too much!  Gluttony is sinful, and I should take better care of my “temple”. 

With worries and doubts and anxieties come lack of self control at times when I should be more focused.  Lack of motivation to be productive, keeping walking “forward”, and manage my household duties has been a problem at times. 

I have not stayed “in Him”.  I need more of His Word daily. 

My children suffer when I am down and depressed.  I sometimes only give them 1/2 of me…..1/2 of my attention, 1/2 of my best teaching during school, 1/2 of the love they need and deserve.

Sometimes I just. do. not. care.  I give in to bad times, bad days, and just don’t try. 

Drudgery of the “same old, same old” enters my mind as I rise in the morning, and again when I finally go to bed at night.

This week, I brought our dog indoors against my husband’s wishes!  I cook too much chicken and fish when the Hubby wants beef!  (Poor guy…..he just wants a steak, lol)

Lord help me to not give into despair.  Help me to give the anguish and hurt of the lack of some family relationships to You.

I need to better guard the eyes of my children.  Prime time television does not innocence make!  What enters our home through feet or through wires should meet godly standards.  Our children know when we make godly choices and when we don’t.  There used to be a day not so long ago, that I stood firmly against watching “Nemo” because one of the main character voices was from an openly homosexual lifestyle.  Lately, I have caught myself inwardly justifying watching a prime television show that is promoting the same thing.  What a hypocrite I am at times?!

I still struggle with letting “busy-ness” take over priorities.

Although I try to live in honesty and as much righteousness as possible, I need forgiveness for thinking I don’t have much to confess….even unintentional sin is sin.

I forgot to pray before lunch today.

…and the list will most likely go on and on.

Yes, I am low sometimes….a dirty, rotten, scoundrel as might be described in our western world.  I try to be good, but the “good that I would do, that I do not”! 

What is important, though, is that I am ABLE to confess, and I know the Lord HEARS and ANSWERS!  The next step is to “forsake” the sins I have confessed.  It is a struggle…..day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute….because of my weak flesh. 

Thankfully the Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love!  I am wretched, but He is WORTHY of all praise. 

I write this to you with love, and while experiencing the forgiveness of God.  It feels good!  Now I look forward to starting tomorrow clean and fresh!   When is the last time you took time to confess and forsake?  God is waiting …..

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He is Glorious!

When you need a reminder that God still cares…

When you need to remember all that He has done for you…

When you find yourself wondering just who’s in control of this crazy world…

Watch this: 

“For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God.”  Hebrews 3:4

“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.  They will perish, but You remain; And they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will fold them up, And they will be changed.  But You are the same, and Your years will not fail.”  Hebrews 1:10-12

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Filed under Bible, Blessings, Christ, Creation, Faith, God, Grace, Life, Power, Trials, Worship

Acts, Chapter 4.

Persecution.  Have you faced any?  Do you think persecution still exists? 

Acts, chapter four, shows Peter and John as they face the courts over the healing of the lame man in chapter three.  Actually, it wasn’t the healing that got them in trouble with the court, it was the credit given to Jesus.  The court did not want them to speak “in the name of Jesus”.  They were even released after an overnight stay in jail, but were told to not speak in that name again.

Little did the court know what would happen….

Enter the Holy Spirit again! 

Encouraging, uplifting, pointing the way to Christ and all He is, and giving boldness…boldness that quickly multiplied among the believers and jump started a whole new movement for the Lord.

These are the basic details of chapter four.  I don’t feel like I can expound on them in any better way than to explain the details of yesterday’s gathering at Cornerstone.

Continue reading

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