Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Creative Juices aren't Flowing -EEK!!!!

I seriously couldn't think of another title than that. Here I am two days before I give a talk to ladies at a Women's Conference on a topic that I am so very passionate about and I can't nail down what I am going to say. I sat at the computer until well, I can't even remember, to get thoughts that have been swirling around my head for the last few weeks to get it on paper. Not much came out. Stress, and total and complete tiredness has taken over. Some would say that I have procrastinated. Maybe so, but it's not like it hasn't been at the for front of my mind for at least a month now. I seriously can't believe April is now over, and the conference is tomorrow.

I have been hit hard this week by the enemy. My house, kids, husband, dad, and yes, even me are falling apart. I feel the fiery darts and I have lost my patience, my mind, my sleep and probably many other things because I have not been functioning with the Holy Spirit's help. I am trying to do it ALL on my own. Thus, I feel frazzled and completely stressed.

I am asking those who come across this blog to pray for me. I talk Friday night on a hard relationship that I have encountered in my life and how God has helped me with it. Honestly, I feel I can not speak on this because of the way this relationship has gone this week. I have not responded in a right way to this person and I have not sought wisdom from God on how to handle the relationship. Don't you think that this disqualifies me? Yep, I would love to get out of it but I have a feeling that God is using this vary week to prepare me for tomorrow.

Then on Saturday, I talk on life's disappointments and how to have joy in the midst of them. This is a topic that I am passionate about and my testimony basically is centered around trials and my journey to letting go and letting God be in control, but this talk is more than my testimony. It is more like teaching and I am finding that it is a bit harder for me.

Thanks for praying. I know God wants me to relinquish control right this minute and let Him guide and direct. I know also that I need to quiet my life tonight and tomorrow so that I can hear what God wants to tell me. It's kind of hard to listen when life is super crazy.

One more think, please pray for my daddy. He had to go in for a second surgery tonight. In fact, he is in surgery right now. The doctor tighten his nerve too tight in his foot and he couldn't feel anything. So now they are fixing this. He has been in great pain and I assume that he will continue in this pain after another surgery. I love him so much and really want to be up there with my mom and dad and sis. I hate being over the mountain with obligations that keep me from being there. My dad understands this and is fine with it, but I am still sad about it.

Gotta run to worship practice-

Have a wonderful evening,

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wonderfully and Uniquely Made

I am talking on hard relationships at the Women's Conference. I have one particular child who can push my buttons more than anyone else in this world. I love this child so much and want to have a beautiful relationship with this child, but many times I lose my cool and react to this child and their ways. I pray daily that God will give me much wisdom in how to parent this child. I would say that I am trying to make peace with this strong- willed child.

As I was trying to put together this testimony I was reminded by God of the uniqueness each of my children process. This is more a reminder for me than something any of my readers will benefit from. So since this blog is records of my memoirs I am going to write everything that comes to mind about my children. This is a great exercise if you regularly see the negative things your children do.

God created them so different and wants us to foster these strengths and help them work on the things that appear to be weaknesses. I noticed that many of the things that annoy me at times are the very thing that can be used to change the world if they allow God to work on these so called weaknesses. Do you understand what I mean? OK, enough rambling, I am going to remind myself of how wonderful and uniquely made each one of my children is.

I have four children. Each of them is uniquely different in their personality. I love each one totally and completely the same. If you would have told me 13 1/2 years ago when my oldest was born that I could love 3 more children like I loved my oldest, I probably would have disagreed. Now, I know it's true! Unbelievable huh? I truly love all the strengths and even weaknesses each child brings into my life. They have caused me to get down on my knees and ask for wisdom on how to best mother them and they have brought many blessings into my life, namely four of them!

Child #1 is so artistic and sensitive. She gets along wonderfully with people of all ages and is always eager to please everyone. She has a heart for Jesus and wants to serve her Savior with all her heart. This child has her future already planned out, of course she wants what God wants for her, but she has her sights on Moody Bible Institute to pursue missions.

The other day she hopped into the car after school and proclaimed that God spoke to her as to where she was going to be a missionary. Child #3 announced that God couldn't have spoken to her because she has never heard His. Child #1 just replied back that He speaks in different ways and she knew this was of God. I love her enthusiasm for the Lord. She also has enthusiasm for politics. I can't tell you that she got it from me because I don't have that passion.

When she was 8 she refused to use Heinz ketchup because Kerry, one of the candidates was closely tied to that brand. She didn't want to support Heinz in any way. So we switched brands for awhile. Now that she is a bit older she has tempered that a bit more, but you should have seen her glued to the t.v. during the election this last year. Quite a site! One thing this child is is competitive. Put her on the basketball or volleyball court and she turns into this aggressive, assertive child. I have video to prove it!

Then there is child #2. He is just the most giving child I have ever known. He would give his shirt off his back to someone in need. This is my child who is not attached to money at all. He has about every cent he has earned for birthday or chores still in his account from a year ago. Oh yes, he has plans for it, but regularly offers to give it all up in order to make life easier for his dad and I.

The other day he wanted to use it to take the family to dinner somewhere nice, just because he knew it was something I desired. I have to be so careful as to what I say I want or need because he will be the first to give up his savings to bless me. Of course, I don't accept it. I just tell him how sweet and giving he is.

Now this is the same child who can argue his way out of anything. Maybe better word is to convince us to do or not to do something. I call it talking back, he calls it negotiating. Persistence is one of his traits. I think he would make a great Lawyer!

He is also very creative and so handy. You need it fixed, he can fix it. This is not like his dad. (sorry Michael, if you are reading this!) I laugh when I write this because I usually look to child #2 to help me with handy work. He loves to spend hours upon hours outside in his fort. Adventures keep him happy and out of trouble.

This child is so laid back and passive in many areas and then boom, a very aggressive side will come out. I choose to see this as passion. I have been know to refer to him as my "Jekyll and Hyde" man. He loves consistency and I am trying my best as a mom to give that to him. He doesn't respond well to authoritative people, I think it makes him feel insecure. Of course I have seen lots of improvement in this area this year.He also loves to stay close to home with his family. A total family man he will be to his wife and children someday. Loyal and true is my #2!

Child #3 is the spit fire of the family! Funny, spirited, loud, and a total prankster. The other morning I found that someone switched the cereal in each of the boxes. In the cheerios box was the Life cereal, in the Life box was the Honey Bunches of Oats and so on. Oh, there was no question as to who would do such a thing. I knew all right!!

She is also an encourager. I find sweet notes in the oddest places that will tell her daddy and I how much she loves us. She loves encouragement from us as well. I think this is her #1 love language. This child is also insanely organized and the neatest child I have ever met. "A place for everything and everything in it's place". That is her motto! her room is the room that quests stay in. I can always count on her room to be spic and span. I also can count on her to organize me. The other day I came home to an organized garage and front closet. She doesn't seem to be annoyed by my organized mess but to fix it by doing it herself. She regularly tries to make extra money by asking me if I need something organized. I can't tell you how bad she wants to get into my room and clean it up.

One more thing about this child, she is a thinker just like her daddy. Very analytical. The other night she wanted to know why our belief in God is the true way to believe. She said that there are so many other religions and how do we know that we are right. Wow! She is only 9! I love these challenging talks with her. I know that God is going to use this little one for his purposes and glory. I just pray that Michael and I can guide her through these questions so that when she leaves home she is firmly grounded in her faith and won't waiver.

O.k., # 4 child is a pure joy! Yes, all of my little peeps are, but this one is so easy going. Maybe because he is the Fourth, or maybe because I overlook some of the things that I use to nip in the bud with the others when they were young. I mean, let me be frank here, I tend to have been a little more on the relaxed end with this child. All of this said, he is a very obedient child. His is almost always happy, singing all the time worship songs or making up his own sweet song to Jesus. Ask him if he loves Jesus and he'll say "Oh Yes, I do love Jesus" and then sing a little ditty about his love for him. This child also is very quick to forgive and ask forgiveness. I just love his tender heart, and big, big smile! :)

He is a natural at almost every sport he tries. I think he will be my child who will go far in sports if he desires. He is very affectionate and loves to stay close to mommy. We still have some tough times going into Sunday school because he wants to be in big church with me. Last Sunday we visited my parents church and he refused to go into a new Sunday school class. I don't blame him. So I let him sit with me in big church. He hardly made a peep and sat there so well.

Oh, I thank the Lord for giving me each and every child that I have. I know that my life will be truly blessed because I have had them. I pray that I will be the mother that God desires me to be for them and raise them for His glory.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

...just waiting,...just thinking

I am waiting to hear how my father's surgery and my friend's, mom's surgery went today. It has been a very emotional day for me as I have had my mind and prayers on these people. I can rest in the fact that God is indeed BIGGER than all of this and has His healing hand on them.

I am suppose to be working on my two talks for the Women's Conference this weekend, but am having trouble concentrating. I have to trust that God will bring all of this together in His timing. These subjects are very dear to me. I will be speaking on the very thing these people are going through; life's disappointments.

I grew so much in my relationship with God and those close to me while I was going through my own hardships. I look back and now can thank God for guideing me through them. I know that He never left me to walk it alone and infact carried me. I have to say that I am glad I went through it. Of course, at the time I don't think I could say that, but I experienced Joy in the mist of the pain. This joy is not the kind of feeling of happiness, but a feeling that I am in the care of the Almighty. Knowing that His plans for my life are greater than mine. Now, I only wish for His perfect plan. I love Him more and deeper than I did before. I love my husband and children differently and I love life to the fullest because I have been put here for a period of time to live life for my King. This is not my home, but you better believe I will live every second enjoying the people, places, and time I have here.

I think I am better prepared to go through other trials when they come my way. I feel like I handled my pain these last months better than I handled job losses in the past, or even going through cancer. I am not saying that I was always chipper about it, just ask my husband and children. They would say that there were days that I wasn't very easy to live with. On those days it was harder to find joy in my pain. But, I found that I accepted my plight more. Yes, I searched and sought out doctors who could help me but I was finding strength and peace with God.

My daughter said it best the other day when she said that she was glad that she was experiencing trials with friends because it made her run to God more and rely on Him completely to be her constant. I say Amen to this! This is how I feel but I sure didn't feel this way when I was her age. I wonder if going through many job losses and sicknesses has helped my children learn what joy looks like in the mist of trials at an earlier age. If so, then I thank the Lord even more for allowing us as a family to go through these things. It truly has bonded us together. We are so much closer and content because of it.

Writing this out has been wonderful for me thinking on my talk this weekend. I don't know if anyone ever reads my ramblings but I do know that it is very theraputic for me. Like my hubby say, this blog stuff helps me spiritually, and emotionally. It is definitely an outlet.


Newsboys - In The Hands Of God
From the album In The Hands Of God

We have raised our hopes and our cities high
We have followed fragile dreams
But only One could take the measure of our goals
And we've stumbled over the trials of life
And we've wrestled the unseen
But only One can calm the storm inside our souls

In the hands of God we will fall
Rest for the restless, and the weary
Hope for the sinner
In the hands of God we stand tall
Hands that are mighty to deliver
Giving us freedom

When our strength gave way to the weight of guilt
'Til we strained for every breath
Only One could lift our shame and make us well
And when all is finished and we face
The fearsome power of death
Only One has overcome the gates of hell

You're amazing
You're amazing, You are
And we praise You, Lord
For what Your hands have done

Monday, April 27, 2009

Please Pray!

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 John 5:14-15

I have a dear friend who's family has been hit with several hard trials. Her dad just lost his job of 14 years. Her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer just two weeks ago. She will be having surgery tomorrow, a double mastectomy. My friend, herself, lives daily with pain and has some other big changes in her life. This has all hit at once and it is a lot of burdens to bear. Please dear friends pray for my friend and her dear family. They are very dear to us and I know that God is big enough to handle these situations. He loves them so dearly and is holding them in His tender arms. Please pray for unity within the family. Unity that will strengthen their love and bond. Pray that they will have great peace, and that the Great Physician will heal her mother. That the surgeon will be able to remove all the cancer. That the father will find peace and rest in his job situation and that the perfect job will be revealed to him. Please also pray for my friend as she daily lives with pain. Pray that she will be healed of this pain if it is God's will and that she will find strength and peace in the mist of it.

I love how the body of believers can come together and pray for one another even though we may not know them personally. The Lord commands us to love each other this way and to lift the body up in this way. Thank you for listening and caring. Your prayers are greatly appreciated and are heard by our Father in heaven. I know that great and wonderful things will come of these trials. Some of you have had your own trials and know how better to pray for people who are going through hardships. You have been comforted yourselves while going through life's disappointments and now know how to comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

Several years ago I claimed the song "Held" by Natalie Grant when I was going through breast cancer and Michael had just lost his job. Life seemed to be falling apart at the seams. We were weary and brokenhearted. I heard this song and felt instantly that God was reassuring me that he had me safe in his arms that he was holding me through it all.

One more important prayer request- Tomorrow my dad is having surgery on his foot. This is a pretty long surgery that will lay him up for about 4 to 5 months. I wish I could remember the details of what he is having done but can't right now. I just know that this will be an adjustment for him and my mom. I am so glad that they live close to my sister and my grandparents. I know that he will be in good hands with them watching over him and helping him with all the things that he won't be able to do around the house and yard. Pray for dad and that the pain won't be too severe. Pray also for my mom who works as a nurse and will have added responsibilities now that dad can't move around so well. His surgery is at 9:00 am in Portland.

I now dedicate this song to my dear friend and her family. My prayer is that they too will feel God's undying love for them, they will feel his safe and secure arms holding them through all these hardships.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Psalm 46:1-7

I lift up my eyes to the hills-- where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. 3 He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. 5 The LORD watches over you-- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
Psalm 121

Soccer Season!!

We are mid way through the spring soccer season. This is Joshua's first attempt at playing soccer on a team. He loves it! In order for him to be on a team this year, Michael has to coach the team. There were too many preschoolers and not enough coaches. It has been so much fun for Josh to have his daddy as the coach. Michael is also enjoying his first coaching experience with six cute, preschoolers.

I have had fun watching my husband interact with each of the kids. The first couple of practices the kids were spending more time picking dandelions and doing somersaults on the grass than kicking the ball. The first game was so fun to watch as most of the preschoolers were trying to figure out which direction to go. They have sure improved in just three short weeks. This last game almost all the kids scored a goal and they were getting into the game.

Josh seems to be very aggressive with the ball and wants to dominate it. I am amazed at how fast he has learned the game. The first game he made 7 goals and has continued this the last couple of games. It is hard at this age to get across the importance of team work and not being a "one man show". Of course, as his mommy, I am very proud anytime he makes a goal, even if it is for the other team! Here is Papa giving Joshy a high five! Joshy loved showing off for his grandparents at the first soccer game.
Jeff is playing soccer too. He played in first and second grade but felt it wasn't his sport. This year he showed an interest in playing so we signed him up. Jeff by nature is not a very competitive person. He is quite athletic but doesn't have the competitive spirit. He has picked up the game very quickly and is doing great. Michael had a bit of a pep talk with him before his last game and encouraged him to have lots of fun and get in the action.
This along with his new, snazzy, soccer shoes seemed to give him the drive to play a little harder. He scored his first goal ever! I was a very happy mommy! Not because I need him to score a goal to be proud of him, but because this gave him the boost of confidence that he needed. He was all smiles and played that much harder the second half.

Soccer season has kept us very busy this last month and next, but I just LOVE spending my Saturdays cheering my youngins on, eating the food from the concession stand and soaking up the warm spring sun. Well, the last part is more a dream than a reality. It got real windy at the last game, bitterly cold. I had multiple layers and a down blanket and I was still cold. It kinda made me want to get out in the game and run my hardest to warm up. Ok, that would be a little weird for my big son to see his mommy do that, so I refrained and just grin and barred the chilly weather.

I really like being a Soccer mom and wife!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lamentations 3:21-24

This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning,
Great is Your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion,"says my soul,
"Therefore I hope in Him!"


I Arise Today

Through God's strength to pilot me:
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to pretect me.

-Saint Patrick


God Never Sleeps! I take comfort in knowing this. He is always at work, in the big, huge problems in my life and even in the minute details. There are many times that I am puzzled as to what God is doing. I want to jump ahead of Him and work things out to how I think they should go, but this is not responding out of faith. I can find perfect peace and joy in letting go and letting God handle all of my problems. I can rejoice in what He is doing. By doing this I am worshipping Him, I am obeying Him, and I am having faith in Him.

God is:

My Completeness
My Contentment
My Certainty
My Counsel
My Confidence.

He is my Constant!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Isabella Grace!!

Today is my sweet nieces 3rd birthday! We share the same day of the month for birth dates, the 19th. It's a pretty great date if you ask me.

Isabella is so precious, so much fun, and very, very clever. She is too smart for her own good and wears her emotions on her sleeve just like my sweet Emma. In fact, they are a lot alike. They both know what they want and will do what it takes to get it. Bella is sweet and sassy and can instantly warm your heart when she flashes you that bright smile of hers.

I have taken delight in watching my girls get very close to Isabella and her 10 1/2 months younger sister, Natalie. Emma especially has become very attached to them. Every time we visit, Emma is eager to stay the night at Aunt Kimmie's and Uncle Jeremy's house so she can sleep in the big bed with Isabella. Last time we were there, my sister told me that Emma and Bella laid in bed until later than they should, reading books and talking. I hope they continue to develop this sweet cousin relationship and be close friends when they are older. They are only 6 years apart.

Happy Birthday to the cutest little 3 year old. We hope you had a wonderful birthday filled with lots of laughter and surprises. We all love you, Bella.

-Uncle Michael, Aunt Kristin, Mandi, Jeff, Emma, and Josh

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Celebrating Easter and Birthdays

This last Sunday, Easter, we traveled after church to Aumsville to celebrate Easter and my two nieces' birthdays.

We had Easter dinner at my mom and dad's house. My grandparents, sister and brother-in-law, their two girls and Great Uncle John were there. The food was delicious and the company was great! It is so nice to live close to family and be able to take part in these family celebrations.

My grandma brought her yummy, baked beans. These are a family favorite and I think I need the recipe so I can keep the tradition going. She also made a delicious jello. Again, I need this recipe. My sis, Kim, brought the scalloped potatoes and peas. This was a new recipe and it was delich! I have never made homemade scalloped potatoes so I was in awe of her masterpiece. Mom and dad cooked a Costco ham. If you have never tried one they are wonderful. I came the furthest, so I brought rolls and the drink. Thanks to Mary from church, I had yummy Marrionberry juice that she made in her juicer from her own berries. There was a lot left over from what she brought for the worship team so I took the rest to Sunday dinner. It was a hit!

After dinner, my two nieces, Isabella and Natalie had a combined birthday party. Isabella turns 3 this week and Natalie turned 2 last month. They are about 10 1/2 months apart. They opened lots of presents and then we had angel food cake, made by my grandma. This is the same cake that she has made time and again for my birthday. It is one of my favorites, but I love it best with strawberries over it and lots of whipped cream and then strawberry ice cream. Mmmmm...Now I want some. My birthday is coming up in June, I hope I am in Aumsville so I can have some! Or else my hubby will have to learn how to make it! We'll see about that!

On Monday the kids had a day off of school, so we were able to stay the night and enjoy a pretty full day with family. The kids had so much fun hanging out with their cousins. It is times like this that I wish I lived in the same town as them or more conveniently they live here. But hey, two 1/2 hours isn't that bad!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sharing the Easter Story with Children

How are you going to celebrate Easter this year? What family traditions do you do that bring you great joy and remembrance of our Saviors death on the cross and resurrection?

This year Easter has snuck up on us. I have always started a devotional on Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent, and go through the "Journey of the Cross"- The complete Easter Story for young readers, by Helen Haidle. It is a beautifully written and illustrated book that features all the events of the last week of Jesus' life and resurrection in chronological order. Let me encourage families with children 12 and under to take a look at this book.

"Journey to the Cross" helps children to understand who Jesus is and what he has done for them. My children have gone through this year after year for the last several years. Each year, as they grow older they get more and more out of it. I am sad that I didn't do it this year. I had the book packed away and just found it. Just because Easter is this Sunday doesn't mean that I can't work through it in the month of April and May. The story of Jesus and what he did for us on the cross is relevant at any time of the year.

Another favorite tradition that the kids have enjoyed are the "Resurrection Eggs". This is a great way to share the Easter story with the children. It is interactive and fun way to tell the Resurrection story. You can follow these links to save some money and make your own at home. I prefer this to buying it because it involves the kids even more and this helps cement the Easter story in their hearts and minds.
Here are two sights that I have found.

1.Easy Fun School= Celebrating Easter through the Resurrection Eggs

2.Rainbow Castle= Resurrection Eggs

Another way we celebrate Christ's death and resurrection is by attending the Good Friday service at our church. Of course, Michael's job is to plan and carry out the service, so we have always gone as a family (well usually it's me and the kids while Michael is leading the service). I remember when the kids were young, and a quiet, solemn service was difficult for them and me to sit through. I remember one year leaving the service in tears because I couldn't handle four small children by myself. Now that they are older and know what to expect and take more of an interest in the Good Friday service it is easier.

I love the contrast that this service compared to the joyous Easter service, just three days later. This is the beauty of Easter. Jesus is not in the grave but is risen and lives! All the prophecies came true. Jesus is the only man who ever lived who has fulfilled every prophecy written about the coming Messiah. Here are some of the prophecies that you can tell your children about and look up in scripture.

1. The Messiah would be born of an unmarried woman (Genesis 3:15;
Isaiah 7:14).

2. The Messiah would come from King David (2 Samuel 7:12,`13,16)

3. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2(.

4. The Messiah would be presented with gifts (Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 60:3,6).

5. The Messiah would begin his work in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2).

6. The Messiah would enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

7. The Messiah would be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9).

8. The Messiah would be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13).

9. The Messiah would be wounded and peirced (Psalm 22:14-16,
Zechariah 12:10).

10. The Messiah woud be mocked and hated (Psalm 22:6-8; Isaiah 53:3).

11. The Messiah would die with sinners (Isaiah 53:9).

12. The Messiah would be buried in a rich man's grave (Isaiah 53:9, 12).

13. The Messiah would rise from the dead (Psalm 16:8-11;30:3; 41:10;
Hosea 6:1-2).

Then on Easter Sunday we love going to church and worshipping our Risen Savior! I love singing all the old beautiful hymns and also the newer praise songs that tell of our Savior's love for us through the death on the cross and his resurrection.

My children have know the facts of this historical, Biblical event but now I am starting to see the evidence of Christ in their lives. It's great to know all the facts, but Jesus doesn't want them to just know about him. He wants them to KNOW him! He wants not only my children but the whole world to put their trust in him and to be saved. He is alive and with us today. All that we need do do is to believe that he died on the cross for us and rose again three days later and ask his forgiveness for our sins. His gift is one of Love, forgiveness and eternal life. It's that simple and that beautiful.

Ephsians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

I watched a video the other day of a pastor in the Cleveland area, named Alistair Begg, who did an interview on the tv station there. He was being interviewed with several different religious leaders of different faiths on what it takes for their faith to get to heaven. I loved the simplicity and straightforward way that Begg explained the Christian faith and how one gets to heaven. Compared to all the others it was the the most clear and easiest way to get to heaven. There are no works involved, it is just pure and simple faith. The gospel is simple but yet the way is narrow. If you get a chance follow my link to the interview. You won't be sorry you did. Invite your children to watch it too. Click here to watch video.

I pray that you will have a very Joyous Easter, celebrating our risen Savior and what he has done for us on the cross.

John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Refiner's Work In Our Lives

I have been following the blog "Bring the Rain". Angie Smith is the wife of Todd, who is apart of the musical group Selah. I have loved this group from the moment I heard their music and find myself listening to their beautiful songs when I need encouragement and peace.

A year ago, yesterday, their newborn, Audrey Caroline went to be with Jesus. Angie's blog is a story of this precious child and the journey that their family has been on. I, personally, have been very blessed by her authentic, honest, beautiful posts. She loves her Savior and is experiencing joy in the mist of the most difficult trial possible.

This morning I read the post that she wrote yesterday, the one year birthday of their daughter who is with Jesus. I found myself sobbing as I read her candid post.

I have been working on a talk that I am to give in less than a month at our Women's Conference. It is entited "Weathering the storms of life's disappointments, and experiencing joy in the mist of them". I know, it's a long title. I am still trying to work on it. I have never experienced the kind of tragic disappointment that the Smiths have, but there have been many disappointments in my life. Whether big or small these times can suck the joy right out of us. It's normal to wonder where God is in the situation and how He could allow such tradegy. But to stay at this point and turn our back on God will only bring depression and despair. We may never understand the why's, but we can have peace and abundant joy in the truth that God is Good and Sovereign. He desires us to trust Him wholelly and have faith that He is in control.

One of the examples I will be using in my talk is how a refiner of silver works with this precious metal. This metal has to go through the fire, enduring just the right amount of tempurature and time so that it softens and then melts. The impurities rise to the surface and are skimmed off. Then bits of coal are added to the containor that the liquid is in. This charcoal enhances the sheen of the silver. He continue to adds more fuel, tend to the fire and skims the impurities off. The refiner never leaves it side. He lets the fire cool, sets the liquid metal aside and the process is repeated again, but now the fire is hotter. Again, new impurities are released and skimmed off and it is at this time that when the refiner looks into the liquid he sees his reflection. It isn't totally clear yet, but more distinct than before. He continues to work hard with this metal and finally he sees what he has patiently worked for, a clear image of himself. This time, distinct and sharp. His work is done, the impurities are gone and his silver is refined. The result is a beautiful and very valuable metal.

Isn't this a beautiful example of you and I. God is the Refiner and we are His silver. God takes us His beautiful creation and makes us even more beautiful through His refining work of taking away the impurities and making us pure. His desire is to see His reflection in the silver- you and me. Honestly it is through life's hardships that we are refined. When life goes the way I want it too I plug along happy and carefree, but when disapointment sets in: a job loss, sickness, loss of a child, broken relationship, we are vulnerable and in prime condition for God to do his refining work in our lives.

Here is a poem called "Refiner's Fire", this is uses the metal gold instead of silver, but the concept remains the same.

The Refiner's Fire

He sat by the fire of seven-fold heat,
As He watched by the precious ore.
And closer He bent with a searching gaze
As He heated it more and more.

He knew He had ore that could stand the test
And He wanted the finest gold,
To mold as a crown for the King to wear,
Set with gems of price untold.

So He laid our gold in the burning fire,
Though we fain would have said Him, "Nay."
And He watched the dross that we had not seen,
As it melted and passed away.

And the gold grew brighter, and yet more bright
And our eyes were so dim with tears,
As we saw the fire, not the Master's hand,
And questioned with anxious fear.

Yet our gold shone out with a richer glow,
As it mirrored a Form above
That bent o'er the fire, though unseen by us
With a look of infinite love.

Can we think that it pleases His loving heart
To cause a moment of pain?
Ah, no, but He saw through the present cross
The bliss of eternal gain.

So He waited there with a watchful eye,
With a love that is strong and sure,
And His gold did not suffer a bit more heat
Than was needed to make it pure!

Author Unknown

Romans 5:3-5 " We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

1Peter 4:12-14 "Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

James 1:2-4- "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Back to the blog that has provoked all these thoughts and has been an encouragement to me. I don't personally know Angie and Todd Smith, but I can tell you that I know from reading her posts that they have allowed the Refiner to do a work in their lives through the tradgedy of their precous daughter. Though the pain is still great, they are trusting in God and are growing closer to Him through this tragic disappointment. Though it has been bitterly hard they have recognized and welcomed His plan and have embraced this disappointment with faith; knowing that they will have the joy of seeing His glory when it is revealed.

Let me encourage you to follow the link to their blog and read their story. It will bless your life like it has mine. I put a song on my playlist called Refiner's Fire by Steve Green. Just click play! You can view the lyrics here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Once Upon A Time There Was A Little Girl ...She Grew Up and Married Her Prince!

On Saturday we had the privilege of attending the wedding of the girl who was our junior bridesmaid at our wedding nearly 15 years ago. Michael and I took our three oldest children to Portland to see our sweet little Avery get married, and what a beautiful bride she was!

First I have to share briefly the story how we came to know Avery and her family.

Way back when I was still dating Michael and attending Multnomah Bible College, Michael got his first worship pastor job in Forest Grove at the Baptist church there. He moved everything he owned in his little CRX and stayed with a family in the church before finding a more permanent place to live. It was Doug and Mary Holmes and their two very cute kids, Nathan and Avery who so graciously opened their home to Michael.

During this time I (like I said earlier) was dating Michael and I was traveling back and forth to Forest Grove to attend church and be a part of his life there. I had a pretty great place to stay on the weekends at the Holmes' house. I quickly fell in love with this family and in no time felt like they were my second family. Mary has always referred to Michael and I as their other son and daughter and we feel the same back. So as you can imagine we got very close to the kids.

Avery was five or six when we met them and was a very energetic, sweet, happy little girl. She melted our hearts from the beginning. I loved watching Michael interact with the kids because it gave me a glimpse of how he might be with our children someday. (Of course, we were just dating then!)

Nine months after Michael took the job in F.G. he asked me to marry him. The whole next year at Multnomah was spent going to school, planning a wedding and spending as much time as I could with Michael, which happened to be in Forest Grove and with the Holmes.
Mary was right there to assist me in my plans for the wedding. She ended up making the beautiful dresses my two nieces who were the flower girls, my cousin and nephew who were the ring bearers and Avery who was my Junior Bridesmaid. In my opinion those dresses were the most beautiful ones I have ever seen in a wedding. So maybe I'm a little bit biased, but they were perfect for the very romantic like flower garden theme I was going for and they were handmade with love by Mary.

O.K, so I have told you the story of how we met the Holmes' family. Today they are still very dear to us. Over the last 15 years we have spent time with their family and watched the kids get older. Here is a funny bit of trivia. When we got married, Doug and Mary had celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary. In a couple days they will be celebrating their 30th and in June we will be at our 15th. How time flies!

Avery met her husband six years ago at a Camp Tadmore. She was sixteen and Mark was 23 or so. As I understand the story, he noticed Avery but knew she was too young so stayed clear of her. Three years later, at the same camp they were both there as counselors and she was now 19 and it was safe to pursue her. Now three years later they have tied the knot! Their age difference is the same as Michael and mine. Funny huh? I joked with Mary and Doug that it was because of our relationship that made it ok for Avery to date someone who was seven years older. Actually, it was the man that Mark is that made it so easy for the Holmes' to be so accepting of him and grow to love him.

Michael and I actually met Mark for the first time yesterday at the wedding, but could tell right away that he was a godly man who truly loves Avery and the Lord. The wedding ceremony also was a testimony of their love for God and their commitment in serving Him together. This ceremony was simple but very elegant and very Christ centered. The music was so God honoring. One of the songs was "In Christ Alone" by Keith Getty. This song was played during communion. We got choked up and I think I even saw tears in Michael's eyes when they were doing their vows. Mark and Avery spoke their vows so sincerely.

After the wedding there was a yummy cookie bar and I had the chance to speak to Avery and meet Mark. Here is a pic of Avery and me.
We then headed into Portland for a dinner reception, where the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was joyous and entertaining. Our three oldest children did exceptionally well for such a long day. When Emma was starting to lose it, I gave her my camera and she did a fantastic job capturing the first dance, the cutting of the cake and other candid shots. She is my budding photographer. Now she says she wants a camera of her own!

Right before we left, there was a money dance with the bride. Michael had the honors of dancing with the beautiful bride; the little girl that we so fell in love with who was in our very own wedding, and is now all grown up and married.
It brought everything full circle for us and was extremely emotional
Yes, I let my husband dance with another woman!!! Of course this is the first and last time! As they danced Avery brought up a memory of Michael swinging her in a laundry basket when she was Josh's age. For me it is hard to believe that time has flown by so fast. Then I have the thought that it really won't be long before Michael and I will be watching our little girl get married. No, I am not trying to get Mandi married off but it goes to show that time does keep ticking away and it isn't forever that they are little and in our complete care.

So this just reminded me of Avery's dad, Doug and his toast to his daughter and new son-in-law. It was very touching. I know how much this man loves his daughter and how proud he is of her and I could tell just how much he loved Mark and how comfortable he was of entrusting her to him.

Will any boy be good enough for my girls? I need to pray daily, now, that they will meet God fearing men who will love them unconditionally like Christ loved the church. This is one of our greatest desires and prayers that my children will find spouses who will see marriage as a lifetime commitment and serve and love God with all their hearts. Marriage isn't easy but if the relationship with God is there and they have a strong commitment to each other no matter what comes their way, then the storms can be weathered and the marriage can stay strong.

Well, to rap it all up, it was so wonderful to be at this wedding. It was special to see people from the first church where Michael served. In fact, the Senior Pastor who hired Michael and married us was there with his wife.
It was so great to reconnect with them. And, the youth pastor that was also on staff with Michael was there with his wife. It just brought back wonderful memories of the times we had at the church in Forest Grove. We may never get a chance to reconnect like this again. But this wedding brought us all back together for a time and that will forever stick in our minds. This is a pic of Michael talking to Skip (the pastor who married us).

Much blessings and happiness to the newlyweds. Mark and Avery, we enjoyed every moment at your wedding and felt blessed to have been able to celebrate this very special day with you. Michael and I will be praying for you as you start your new life together. We hope to keep in touch with you! Add us to your Christmas list!!

You May Kiss the Bride!!

Sweet Mandi!

The Wedding Crashers!

Emma loves a good party!

Michael with the kids

The Newlyweds!

Emma and Amanda having the time of their life!

Father, Daughter Dance

First Dance!

More pictures of Mark and Avery's wedding


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