Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This Unexplainable Truth


We plant seeds.
We water them.
We care for them.

And then we wait...

Wait for the seeds to take root.
Wait for the seeds to show some fruit.
Wait for some kind of growth.

~~~~~

I was talking with a friend of mine a few weeks ago and she was verbalizing her confusion with life and where she stood spiritually.  She didn't know how she felt about the whole God thing and was trying to "figure it all" in her head.

I left that conversation feeling so burdened for her.

The next morning as I was reading the Bible I was trying to read it through her eyes...

What would she be thinking about these very words.
What kinds of questions would be circulating in her mind.j
Where is the truth that she can tangibly cling to and believe in?

The more I thought about it, REALLY thought about it, the crazier this Christian life sounded to me.

To an outsider, an unbeliever, we must look insane.  We pray to someone we can't see.  We base every life decision through this lens of our belief.  We raise our hands and shout and sing like maniacs.  And the only thing I have to prove this Jesus guy is my lifestyle.  And through my testimony, my story.

And my eyes are opened more than ever to how important the Holy Spirit is in the Salvation process.

We can try to "explain" the life of a Christ follower until we are blue in the face, but until their heart is soft and those seeds take root they just aren't going to get it.

The disciples didn't even get much of what Jesus taught them until He had gone to heaven and they were left with the gift of the Holy Spirit who opened their eyes!

~~~~~

So keep planting those seeds.
Keep watering them.
And caring for them.

And for the love of God pray that their eyes will be opened and that their heart can grasp those roots.
Because God is the only one who can bring that growth.

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God who gives the growth."
1 Corinthians 3:7

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Teaching Our Children NOT To Be Consumers ~ KITW



Last fall, my husband, Josh, and I had had enough!
Enough of the greediness and the ugly words that tend to follow, like “mine,” “more,” and “now.”
The current holiday season wasn’t helping our ache for contentment within our family. The plea for Christmas lists and constant gift exchanges among friends was just growing the want for more wants.
After one particularly greedy incident that occurred at the Dollar Store we came up with a plan that had been stirring in our hearts for quite some time.
It was a plan to restart our family focus...{Read More}

Monday, April 13, 2015

Man Down


Josh has a ministry gig in VA this week with his Dad.  When he mentioned that he wanted to take Jude with him I immediately began bawling my eyes out and then very persistently told him, "No, you can't take my baby!"

...

Well actually, that's not the whole truth...

I actually had to literally keep myself from doing a happy dance and rejoicing at the thought of a quiet day, while the other 4 kids are at school!  Not because I don't love my sweet boy to pieces, but man is he exhausting!  In fact, yesterday I kept catching myself looking for things around the house to pick up so Jude wouldn't get into them, or listening for him to see if he was getting into the refrigerator or pantry again, or sneaking into my closet to get gum out of my pocket book, or playing with soap in the bathroom, or eating my contacts again.

*sigh*

This morning I only had 4 mouths to feed and the noise level was significantly lower without Jude making up songs to yell sing about "cookie balls" and "humus and carrots".

As the kids were piling in the car to go to school Cai came up to me very concerned about my emotional stability since I will be alone all day by myself.

{insert another painfully contained happy dance}

I very tenderly explained that mommies don't mind being by themselves every once in awhile:)

So here I am, sitting in my quiet house.

My Bible open, music playing loud, and the only thing on my lap is my computer as I write...wait for it...a BLOG POST!

And it's not even about anything in particular...just a jumble of words freely written in the quiet of my home.

This quiet is only good for so long before I begin hearing my absent kid's voices echo through empty hallways, but right now in this moment it is just what my soul needs.

Quiet.
Still.
No agenda.
No projects (which I have a very long list of, BTW).

Just me and my God and the quiet.

And since I have lots of time over the next 48 hours, what can I lift up to the Lord for you?  What burden are you carrying?  What do you need prayer for that you simply have no more words left to pray?

I feel like I'm in that place a lot.  The place where life overwhelms and words fall short and my heart is heavy.  But not today.  Today I have words, and the quiet place to form them.

When I'm in that place, this verse is my lifeline

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. 
For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, 
but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
Romans 8:26

Monday, April 6, 2015

Re-post: Biblical Submission

My friend Jessica asked me several months ago if I would write about biblical submission as it pertains to marriage.  Well, luckily I already have an entire series that I wrote back in 2010 after having the privilege to speak on this very topic.  I thought it would be worth reposting (and re-reading).  I will re-post Part 1 and link to Part 2 and Part 3 so you can make sure you can read it all:)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I kept getting asked to share what I spoke about the other week at Oasis Church concerning Biblical Submission. We were really bummed that the podcast crashed during the message and that we couldn't just link it, but I'll try to reenact it in Q/A form (leaving out many illustrations for time sake) over the next few days.

Here goes...

Q: "How would you, as a Christian wife, describe the implications of Biblical submission as described in Ephesians 5?"
A: Let's face it, submission is a touchy subject and if we look at Ephesians 5:22-24 as a stand-alone passage it really looks demeaning to us as women and wives. Like we have no self outside of our husbands. But like any other subject we have to weigh it with the rest of Scripture as a whole and see what the rest of Scripture says about it which is exactly what we are going to do today.

Q: "Why do you think that the idea of Biblical submission is usually interpreted so negatively in today's society?"
A: "Well-behaved women rarely make history." This is actually a bumper sticker that I saw on the way down here this weekend.
We as women want a voice, equality, strength, importance and a chance to make a difference and with a single glance at this passage we feel like our chance has been taken away. Our society has led us to believe that if we don't "step up like a man" then we won't be heard, like we've lost our significance.
The western world tends to view submission in a corporate mentality, though, instead of the way God intended for it to be, which is a mutual submission.
This generation is missing the big picture, the beauty of Biblical submission. The submission outlined in the rest of Ephesians 5.

Q: "Can you give us some practical everyday examples where you have had to, or someone may have to live out Biblical submission?"
A: This was hard because, again, I myself, was trying to think of examples where I do what Josh tells me to do. This is the default mindset that we have to deprogram ourselves from thinking. Instead, I found examples where we communicate together to biblically submit to each other while seeking to submit to God's ultimate authority.

Here are a few examples I came up with off the top of my head:

Our career - When Josh came to me and told me that he felt lead to embark on a new journey in ministry together I was a little nervous. That would mean no consistent pay check and the loss of any sense of structure and stability for our family and everyday life. But I trusted that Josh heard from the Lord and believe that God has placed Josh as the leader of our family so I submitted to him and here we are.

Finances - Money matters are one of the leading reasons for divorce. Realizing that fact, when Josh and I were getting ready to get married we made a commitment to each other to communicate openly about purchases. We decided that if any purchase is greater than $50 (besides groceries or things like that) we would discuss the purchase and weigh its importance together to see if it is a wise purchase.

Clothing - Knowing that visual temptations are a huge struggle for men, I try to run my outfits by Josh.  We are up on stage in front of people ALL THE TIME and I would be foolish to think that I could just wear whatever I wanted to. Now, that being said, Josh does not pick out my clothes. I think we all know that I probably wouldn't go out much if that happened, but I do run things by him. If he thinks something is too short, or too low-cut, or too sexy (he did interject here and specify that sexy is TOTALLY alright with him;), just ONLY for him!) then I will change my clothes. I must admit to rolling my eyes every once in a while, but I know that Josh knows way better than I do about the struggle that men have and I want to help out in any way I can.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click the following links to read the rest of the series on biblical submission:  Part 2     Part 3

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life Happens ~ a simple testimony

While growing up my mom would often talk to us about the importance of every salvation story.

She remembered growing up in a Christian home, safe and secure, with every need met, but with that hole in her heart that we all have until it is filled with Christ.  She recognized her need for Jesus Christ at an early age and began following him early on in her years.  She would tell us how she wasn't necessarily ashamed of her story, but was kind of sad that it didn't carry the drama and weight that other stories had when they were told, because she thought the impact would be small and less important.

It wasn't until years later that she was reminded by a friend (I can't even remember who she told me it was) of just how important her story was.  God's redemptive hand on her life, as she was guided by the Holy Spirit away from the same things that would wreak havoc on another individual still searching for that Holy Spirit relationship, was just as powerful and important to His plan.

Now, I see where the Lord has brought her and I couldn't be more proud of the testimony she continues to bear.  Yes, she was saved at an early age and bypassed many of the difficulties that others faced, but then life happened and her testimony has grown.  Yet she continues to stay the course, proclaiming the name of God, no matter what the obstacle has been, and believe me, those obstacles and valleys have been some of the most difficult I've witnessed.

Her testimony wasn't over when she said yes to God.  It was only beginning, and she has continued to say yes by God's grace and strength alone.

The older and older I get the more and more I realize just how much life sucks.
In my small little world I am walking through broken and hurting marriages, a mom fighting through cancer, a young girl who thinks her life isn't worth keeping, abandonment, homelessness, loss of jobs...life isn't going to stop, no matter how hard we try to protect ourselves and our littles.

But the hope we have is our story.  Our simple testimony of how God loves us, saved us from ourselves, and has promised to carry us through every season we are in, and all we have to do is share our story and His love.

Don't discredit your story, no matter how hard or easy it was.
And don't you dare think it's over as soon as you say yes to following him.
Buckle up, it's a long hard ride, but my how the Lord loves to show off for and in His children if we are open and willing to continue to let him write our testimony.

Monday, March 30, 2015

While You Were Gone - A Story In Pictures - another transformation (of the more difficult variety)

Last weekend Josh and I headed to his parents house in Virginia to drop off the kids.  They were about to spend the week with their Meme and Poppie in order for Josh and I to have a couple of days away for our anniversary.

Luckily I am not a hard-to-please woman and we had the best stay cation EVER, and the only thing on the agenda (well, except that it WAS our anniversary so there were "other" things on the agenda as well;), was to re-do our kitchen floors that we had been given Christmas money to do.

I made a list of all the things I wanted to complete while the kids were away and started knocking the projects out as soon as we got home on Monday afternoon.

We found some beautiful wood flooring on clearance (thank you Heidi!), and with that price we still had plenty of money to cover the other smaller project we wanted to get done around the house and stay completely in budget.

We immediately began prepping the floors to lay down the wood flooring.  Three layers of old linoleum later we found the subfloor.  We had a couple of friends warn us of asbestos (after we were almost done ripping it all out) in the old linoleum backing and glue so we did a worrisome amount little bit of research and calling around before making the executive decision that it was NOT full of asbestos, but if it was, the damage was done and was now sealed into the subfloor after some advice from our contractor friends, aired out the house for 3 days straight and gave each other lung cancer for our 13th anniversary, ha!
This is looking into the kitchen from the dining room.  This is how the floors have been adjoined since we moved in.

The white tile was the top layer.  That yellow tile under our living room? That was the second layer in our kitchen.  We still aren't quite sure how far into our home that layer goes under the carpet,
but that's another project for another week day.

Josh temporarily lifted my ban from tools, yay!

ahem...moving on...

Our laundry "room" is in the kitchen so we tore out the cabinets above the washer and dryer and used the wood to make a new desk for the girls to share in their room.
These are some of our "laundry room" transformations over the years
and then we knocked all the cabinets out


Since Josh's time was limited with work and school I found several other projects to occupy my time:)

I found an old cookie sheet to make a magnet board for Jude.


I finished up the painting in the kids bathroom that I began several months ago and painted the cabinets in there as well.

I added a little romantic eye candy to our bedroom.
using an old door that has been in the shed since we moved in

Painted and revamped the boys room.  This is the only room in the house that we hadn't touched since moving in over 5 years ago.




Painted all the exterior doors.

And began the work of painting the cabinets in the kitchen, which will be finished on a day when I get complete movement and feeling back into my hands again.  Painting for 3 days straight really begins to limit mobility and function of my griping muscles, ha!

After all of that my body is now paying the price.  I love the finished products, but man was I exhausted after picking up the kids Saturday afternoon and calling in quits!

Here are some shots of the finished products of the kitchen.
(I really started off good with photos on my good camera and then got a bit lazy:)




And for your viewing pleasure, a little before and after:)

this was taken shortly after we moved in

then I had the bright idea of accenting some of the cabinets with dark brown
(what WAS I thinking?!)
and then adding the backsplash a year and a half ago.
This was taken yesterday.
I can't wait to get a fresh coat of white on the cabinet doors and finish the grey border in between them:)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Fickel People

It has been absolutely NUTS around here over the past week (more on that tomorrow) that I didn't even realize, until going to church today, that it was Palm Sunday.

The beginning of Holy Week!
(you know, that little week that inspired a book that was written by a certain Colony mom:)

When Pastor Jimmy made reference to the fact that today was Palm Sunday my brain completely froze. For some reason those words reminded me of how fickle we as humans are.

One day we are praising God and telling him how wonderful and powerful He is.  Throwing our Palm branches down at His feet and giving our lives to Him.
The next we are doubting Him to actually move in the huge way we need Him to and questioning His ability to do a miraculous work in the giant in front of us.  And for some of us, even blaming Him for the season that we are in, which in essence, is like picking up a hammer in our own hands to dig those nails into his wrists ourselves.

We are a fickle people.
A fickle people that He sent His only Son to earth for.
A fickle people whom He loved so much that He gave His Son up for US!
A fickle people that He loved too much to allow us to pay our own price for our sinful, fickle nature.

Today I was reminded of how truly blessed I am to have a God that loves me, regardless of what I've done and how many times I turn my back on Him.

Today is the beginning of Holy Week.
Let's try to use this week to focus on just how Big our God is and all that He has done for us.
Our fickle, human selves.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Words Worth Remembering

Jude:"I'm a rockstar!"
Me:"Awww, yes you are a rockstar.  Can I be a rockstar too?"
Jude:"Nope. You are beautiful."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude:" Oooh, I see helicostumes!"
translation: helicopters

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zeke:"Mom, can you stop for a minute?"
Me:"No buddy, we're on the INTERSTATE!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Zeke:"Mom, I think I just heard a bird yelling for help!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Jude:"I poopied in the potty lasterday"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cai:"Jude, NO, you can't go out there.  The volcano syrup is going to get you!!!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude:"Mom, open your face."
translation: mom, will you look at me?

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Me:"Jude, do you PROMISE you'll do it?"
Jude:"I pinky pwomise!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude:"Can I get a goodie bag of thtuff and give it to Edis and Lois?"
translation: Can I bring a snack to Ed and Lois?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jude:"Cai, I love you so bad."


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Everything Else Is Just Overflow ~ KITW



We all have busy lives.
Believe me, I know.
I am a mama to 5 little humans. Real live humans, who require constant help with tying shoes, washing hair, packing lunches, and the never-ending task of helping with homework and projects (and taking LEGO pieces apart).
I am also a wife to a man in ministry at a church, getting his doctorate in seminary, as well as taking his music on the road. Not to mention my own musical endeavors and side business making jewelry. We are a family with a full schedule, no doubt.
But that doesn’t negate the fact that I have a real need for a personal, DAILY relationship with Christ. {...Read More}