Saturday, March 31, 2012

The End of Praise??? I Don't Think So!!!

So, 31 Days ago I started the devotional "31 Days of Praise" by Ruth Myers. I was doing this with a group of women in my on-line Bible Study group. I started off the month wanting to blog every single day about what I had read that day and how the Lord was talking to me through my daily readings... Well, it didn't take life long to get in the way of posting on here every day. (well that and a touch of writers block from time to time!)

I decided a couple weeks ago that at the end of the month I would make a whole month re-cap. As I was looking back through my exciting, hard, broken, healing, touching, life-changing month I decided that I would actually type out what I had highlighted with my yellow marker every day! I would like to point out that the next time I go through this book I plan on using a different color highlighter because the next time I will probably want to mark completely different sections!

Most of the whole book is snippets from Bible verses that are referenced at the end of every day. If there was a whole verse I highlighted there will be a reference, but if it was part of the paragraph I won't be listing all of the references! I'm not quite sure how this will all read, but I'm looking forward to reading what touched my heart every single day! Some days I highlighted whole paragraphs, some days only one or two lines! Let's get started - my month of praise in review!

1. You are my strong shelter in times of trouble and danger and stress. You delight to give me the desires of my heart as I delight myself in You. I sing for joy as I take refuge in the shadow of Your wings! He who dwells in the shelter of the most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" (Psalm 91:1-2)
2. Thank You, Father, that You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ...
3. You strengthen my heart so that more and more I honor Christ by the way I live.
4. And how much I praise You that it was impossible for death to hold Him in its power... that You raised Him from the dead to be my Savior, to make me righteous in Your sight...that You highly exalted Him, giving Him a position infinitely superior to any conceivable command, authority, power, or control, both natural and supernatural. Worth is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:24)
5. I praise You for Your sovereignty over the broad events of my life and over the details. With You, nothing is accidental, nothing is incidental, and no experience is wasted. You hold in Your own power my breath of life and all my destiny. And every trial that You allow to happen is a platform on which You reveal Yourself, showing Your love and power, both to me and to others looking on. There is none like Thee, O Lord; Thou art great, and great is Thy name in might. (Jeremiah 10:6)
6. I magnify You, my God, for Your absolute purity, holiness, and justice, as the Judge to whom all people must give account, I praise You that Your fairness is intertwined with everything You do... that when the time is ripe You will end all sin and injustice, all corruption, all immorality... that You will right all wrongs and reward all loving service and suffering for Your sake.
7. Thank You that in Your Word I can see Your face and hear Your voice. I can discover your will and Your patterns for living and serving. I can develop deeper faith and confidence. Thank You that the Holy Spirit inspired Your Word and uses it to enlighten and guide me, and to change me more and more into your image, from one degree of glory to another. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
8. I thank You for Your loving wisdom in allowing the things that have influenced me throughout my life. For Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, And my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14)
9. Not to me, O Lord, not to me, but to Your name be the glory.
10. What a comfort it is to know that You understand the feeling of my weaknesses!
11. I praise You that the things that happened in my past, both enjoyable and painful, are raw materials for blessings, both in my life and in the lives of others. So I thank You for the specific family (or lack of family) into which I was born and the opportunities You did or did not provide. And thank You for the things in my past that appear to be limitations, hindrances, bad breaks...the wounds of old hurts, the unmet emotional needs, the mistakes or neglect of other people - even their cruelty to me, their abuse. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried... (Isaiah 53:4)
12. I'm so thankful that You don't hold a pair of scales and ask me to pile up enough good works to outweigh my sins, my failures, my unworthiness...that it's all by grace through faith.
13. How great is Your love toward me, Father, that I should be called Your child; and such I am. How amazing that I am precious in Your eyes, and that You love me!
14. Father, I'm so glad that the Holy Spirit is within me, to strengthen me with power in my inner person... with confidence and joy I can look forward to actually becoming all that You have in mind for me to be.
15. Thank You that You are at work in me and in my situation to break old patterns of thought and action, to create within me both the desire and the power to do Your gracious will...and to make me a joy to You in new ways.
16. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God... (Romans 8:16)
17. Thank You that You have me in the place You want me just now...that even if I got here through wrong choices or indifference or even rebellion, yet You knew my mistakes and sins before I ever existed, and You worked them into Your plan to draw me to Yourself, to mold and bless others through me. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Romans 11:33) So I rest in the fact that You have me in this place for this day, and I praise You that You will faithfully guide me throughout life to just where You want me to be, as I seek to do your will.
18. Thank You that You use trials to humble me and perfect my faith and produce in me the quality of endurance...that they prepare the soil of my heart for the fresh new growth in godliness that You and I both long to see in me...and that my momentary troubles are producing for me an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, as I keep my eyes focused on You. "I thank You for the bitter things, They've been a friend to grace, They've driven me from the paths of ease, To storm the secret place." -Florence White Willett.
19. At times they misunderstand, they disappoint, they expect too much, or they can't be available when I need them. "I thank You for the friends who've failed to meet my soul's deep need; they've driven me to the Savior's feet upon His love to feel. I'm grateful too, through all life's way no one could satisfy, And so I've found in You alone, My rich, my full supply!" -Florence White Willett. We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
20. Father, I thank You for the people in my life who seem to bring more pain than joy, for I believe You have let our paths cross for important reasons. Thank You for the good things you want to do in my life through the things that bother me (their irritation habits? their moodiness? their unloving ways? their demands? their insensitivity? their unrealistic expectations?). I'm grateful that You are with me, to meet my needs when others - even those close to me - fail to do so. And I praise You that I need not fret about these people, or be envious, or mull over angry thoughts to prove I'm right. ...that I can choose not to judge them, but to forgive cancel any debts I feel they owe me - any debts I feel they owe me - any apologies, any obligations...that through Your grace, I can choose to wipe clean any slate of grievances I have within me, and to view these people with a heart that says, "You no longer owe me a thing."
21. Thank You for bringing us together, and for the way Your love sweetens our earthly love! I bless You, Lord, for the many benefits You have given me through this dear one.
22. To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead... (1 Peter 3:8-9)
23. Thank You that these trials force me to trust You more! And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
24. When my heart I overwhelmed, I'm more aware of my need to cry to take refuge in rely on You. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
25. You know the way I'm put together; You know my limitations; You understand that I am dust. And I praise You that You are greater than any or all of my failures...that as my Potter You are able to mold and remold me, as I submit to Your wisdom and skill...that as the Master Artist You are able to take the dark threads of my life - my wounds, my scars, my blotches, the messes I make, and even my sins - and blend them into a beautiful design, to the praise of the glory of Your grace.
26. He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world...that although Satan in powerful, he cannot prevail against the blood of the Lamb and the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27. He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me... (Psalm 50:23)
28. What a joy to know that I can draw near to You at any moment, wherever I may be...that I can come boldly to your throne of grace, assured of Your glad welcome - not because I'm worthy or because I've served You, but because You're a God of grace, a God of unmerited, unlimited favor - not little dribbles of favor reluctantly measured out, but overflowing, super-abundant favor.
29. Thank You that Christ is my Life...that I am a member of His body and a dwelling place of His Spirit. Thank You that I can throw the whole weight of my anxieties on You, for I am Your personal concern.
30. You yearn for all people everywhere to repent; You have no desire that any person should spend eternity without You!
31. I glorify You because no human problem, however hopeless or impossible, is too hard for You. You are able to give life to the dead and call into being that which does not exist. So I need not stagger at Your promises or waver in unbelief. What You have promised You are able to perform! Blessed be the Lord...according to all that He promised; not one word has failed for all His good promise... (1 Kings 8:56)

WOW! What a month!
Peace and Love to All!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Mexico or Bust . . .

Today Taylor is on her way to Mexico… And I will admit - I am extremely jealous! I love Mexico - - I love the people in Mexico, I love the dirt in Mexico, I love the hugs in Mexico, I love the teens from Nebraska that I’ve been in charge of in Mexico, I love the forever friends that I’ve made in Mexico, I love singing Mexican songs, I love the kids that I’ve taught about Jesus in Mexico, I love the women that I’ve sewn with in Mexico, I love worshipping in Mexico under the stars of the big dark night sky during chapel, I love the different times that I’ve spent with Corey, Justen and Taylor in Mexico, I love Mexican food, I love the community in Mexico that I’ve built buildings with, painted walls with, cleaned up zoos with, buried dead dogs with - - I JUST PLAIN LOVE MEXICO!!!

This is my second year in a row NOT going to Mexico. Last year I was due with Calleigh the week they were scheduled to go to Mexico. (So my hubby thought I probably shouldn’t go…) This year… I don’t know, I just didn’t really feel “lead” to go. I didn’t really feel strongly NOT to go either. I don’t know, sometimes decisions need to be made and there is just no turning back. I’m sure (like with everything else in life) that there’s a reason I’m not on the RV that’s bumping its way half way across the United States, or that I’m not getting ready to fly out tomorrow morning on an airplane headed for San Diego then in a van across the mountains on it’s way to Mexico. I’m just not quite sure what that reason is yet…

But enough about me, I want to say how proud I am of Taylor that she is going again this year! Taylor has a heart of gold (even if she is blonde and ditzy), and she cares so much for other people and their feelings. This will be Taylor’s 4th trip to Mexico. Last year she opted out of going. When we found out I was due with Calleigh the week of the Mexicali trip, Taylor immediately decided that she would rather be home to meet her new baby sister right away then to chance it being in Mexico. Then, when we had to say goodbye to Calleigh way too soon I asked Taylor if she wanted to go and I would talk to the youth pastor. She thought long and hard and even though she really wanted to go she thought it would be best to be home with the family during this trying time, and that worked out great since Justen came home, my brother and his family from North Carolina came home and we had Calleigh’s burial of her ashes - all that week.

But this trip to Mexico is so much more than one week across the border and one day in San Diego. This trip (always the week before Easter) starts way back in November for the kids and way earlier than that for the leaders in charge. This trip has been planned, prayed for, practiced and put together for several months. This trip is the highlight of the entire year for many who “go”. This trip is also the best part of the year for many of the kids in Mexico.

It is a time to truly “Love Your Neighbor”. Mexico is our neighboring country and I teach my Cubbies that their neighbor is everyone on this earth, so when the RV from Lincoln, Nebraska pulls up at a church in Mexico – those kids from Nebraska are ready to love their neighbors in Mexico. It’s not always fun and games… It gets hot, tiring, people start wearing on each others nerves, but somehow (through the power of prayer) the kids and leaders manage to pull everything together and focus on Jesus’ love and the reason they all made the trip. There will be singing, there will be games, there will be puppets and oh so much more… and as I continue to type this I am SO ready to book my flight for tomorrow morning and just kind of “show up”! (don’t you think Taylor would find that fun!?!?) :)

A prayer itinerary was e-mailed and I decided that I’m going to post that day’s prayer focus on my facebook page every day, but here I’m going to list them for the entire week:

Friday – 3/30 – Travel
“Pray for safety while traveling.”
There was an RV of 12 students and adults that left from Country Bible Church this morning at 7 am. Pray for the drivers that they will stay focused and rested, pray for the students that they will enjoy this time of bonding and having fun and that they will remember to rest up for their busy week.

Saturday – 3/31 – Travel
“Pray for our attitude, humility and prepared hearts.”
On this day, 4 people will fly out of Omaha and fly in to San Diego, CA. They will rent a van, take care of some details then drive across the mountains and in to Mexico. The group that left Friday on the RV will hopefully get to camp in Mexico early afternoon and have time to set up tents, unpack and shower before the start of their busy week.

Sunday – 4/1 – Ministry
“Pray that we would be able to clearly present the Gospel throughout the week, despite language barriers. Pray for team unity.”
This is the first day of VBS! Pray that the students will remember what was practiced and that everything would run smoothly. Also pray that those more “shy” kids will find a friend and will feel the love of Jesus.

Monday – 4/2 – Ministry
“Pray for God’s work in the hearts of the Mexican people and for our relationships with the Pastors and leadership.”
Day 2 for VBS! This year with the group being so small, they will be doing 2 VBS’s every day at 2 different churches! So DOUBLE the kids to love on!

Tuesday – 4/3 – Ministry
“Pray for our safety and health.”
On this 3rd day of VBS exhaustion can set in! Immune systems can get wore down. Pray the team is drinking plenty of water, getting some rest (I’m not dumb, I know they won’t get plenty of rest until they get home – just pray they are getting enough!), and staying with the task at hand!

Wednesday – 4/4 – Ministry
“Pray that the called accept Christ.”
On this 4th Day of VBS the gospel is presented VERY CLEARLY! It is presented every day, but on this day it is really focused on the whole lesson! Pray for hearts that are ripe to accept God’s perfect plan of Salvation.

Thursday – 4/5 – Ministry
“Pray that we ‘finish well’ and for a safe and uneventful border crossing.”
This is the 5th and last day of VBS. WOW, this is such an emotional day… Nerves can be wearing thin, but no one wants to leave their new friends. Plans are plotted about sneaking kids across the border (jokingly of course) and wishes of “I wish I could stay”, “I wish we could come more than once a year”, “I wish this week didn’t go so fast”. . . . etc… Goodbyes are always hard and tearful.

Friday – 4/6 – Debrief in San Diego
“Pray that we remember the mission isn’t over.”
This is a day of reflection and fun in the sun. A day to celebrate a week of hard work, but to remember who and what we left across the border.

Saturday – 4/7 – Travel
“Pray for safe travel home.”
The RV heads back to Lincoln late Friday night, and the flyers will leave Saturday morning. Pray for safety again for the drivers as they have had a long hard week also, and are now staying up Friday night and Saturday night to drive back to Nebraska. Pray the kids will be respectful and loving towards one another, even though they will be tired and worn out!

Sunday – 4/8 – Easter
The RV is scheduled to be getting back to Country Bible Church between 3 and 8 a.m. “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!”

Monday, March 26, 2012

He’s leaving on a jet plane….

Why do kids have to grow up and leave home? (That’s a rhetorical question…)

I know, I know – we raise them to become responsible adults and to make a difference in the world and to utilize their God-given talents to His glory. I know all of that. But why does it hurt so much? (again, rhetorical.)

I should probably be used to this by now. He’s been gone almost 3 years.

I should be thankful for the few weeks he comes home once a year - When he gets involved with someone and decides it’s time to “settle down” the time he spends at home will have to be divided with another family.
Don’t get me wrong, I totally enjoyed and took advantage of the three weeks he was here! But in the back of my mind I knew we would be sending him off again way sooner then we would like to.

What our three weeks entailed:

Watched Taylor’s Concerts & Competitions, Went to an NU Baseball Game, Went Fishing(3 times), Enjoyed Family Meals (Both Sides), Church, Helped with AWANA, Visited His Baby Sister at the Cemetery and Helped Dad Change the Decorations on Her Grave from Winter to Spring, Gave Blood for the FFA Red Cross Blood Drive, Met with Friends, Went Paintballing with Friends, Celebrated His Sister’s 16th Birthday, Celebrated St. Patrick’s Day (On the Same Day as His Sister’s Birthday), Helped Dad after Hand/Wrist Surgery, Went Bowling, Had Family Movie Nights, Saw the High School Musical “Annie” Where his Sister was Part of the Crew, Went to an Awesome Men’s Conference with Dad, Observed Daylight Savings Time by Losing an Hour of Sleep, Watched His Sister Get Commissioned for her Short Term Mission Trip Next Week, Ushered in the Season of Spring with some Beautiful Weather in Nebraska and lots of Blooming Spring Flowers, Helped Dad Clean the Garage, Picked up Sticks Out of the Yard, Helped do Dishes (This was a vacation for Taylor!), Enjoyed a Fire in the Fire Pit, Went to the Funeral of a Classmate’s Dad, Attended the College–Age Bible Studies, SPOILED the Dogs, Treated His Family to Supper at HuHot, Helped Stuff Ruck Sacks for the Mexicali Missions Trip, Got an Unusual Tan in Nebraska in March (and Much Needed with all the Rain/Clouds in Washington), Threw the Football around with Taylor, Spent Some Amazing Family Time Together, Slept In (he WAS on vacation), etc…

WHEW, after all of that he’ll probably be happy to go back to work for the U.S. Coast Guard! :)

Now… what am I going to do next week when Taylor’s in Mexico???????

Love and Peace to All! :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Emotional Mess – Orderly Obedience – And Every Chaotic Feeling In-Between

So... Here are the days I missed blogging about for ‘31 Days to Pray for Your Spouse’: Emotions, Spiritual Growth, Mind, Work & Obedience. And in ‘31 Days of Praise’ the focus each day has been: Worshiping God as the Creator, Thanking Him for my weaknesses, Thanking Him for ordaining all the days of my life for me, Rejoicing in my forgiveness of sin, & Thanking God that He chose me in Christ before the creation of the world.

“Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.” (Jonathan Martensson)

In the past five days I have felt the whole gamut of emotions and feelings. I have attended two funerals (both for people who are considered to be ‘gone too soon’), I have had two catch-up sessions with two long-time friends (both chats were very much needed!), I spent the better part of Sunday in the E.R. with Corey, found out a friend is going through an extremely difficult situation, worked four shifts at the bank, found out that a friend’s daughter was back in the hospital, found out another friend is in the hospital, watched the movie ‘The Help’ with my family (Justen hadn’t seen it before and it’s one of Taylor and my favorites), we had a pre-sort-of-birthday-party-get-together with my parents and brother, sister and nephews, finished planning and talking about details for Taylor’s 16th birthday, tried to spend as much quality time with Justen as I possibly could, and a new friend from our grief support group had a new baby (healthy, beautiful and oh-so-loved)!!

“Joy, anger, sadness, pride, jealousy, contentment, peace, etc. Each of these can be God-honoring, but they each also have the potential to be rooted in sin. We must learn to control our emotions, expressing only those which are honoring to God, and confessing those that are not.” (Ashley Pichea)

I know that during any few days, most peoples schedules can look like this, but truth be known I’m kind of out of practice for this type of stress and running. For the past almost 14 months I have sheltered my heart, got rid of all unnecessary things, tried to not get involved in other peoples hurts – as my heart was not emotionally ready, and I did not allow myself the feeling of happiness on a regular basis. This has been hard for me, but slowly and surely I feel my ‘old self’ coming back, and it kinda scares me. It’s been awhile!

“Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried….” {Isaiah 53:4}

As I have mentioned before, when I was going to a grief counselor last summer she gave me weekly assignments to work on. Most of the assignments I (or Corey and I) completed with hardly any problems – EXCEPT ONE. One task in particular I could not, no way, no how, couldn’t even THINK about completing. As a matter of fact, until very recently, if I even THOUGHT about completing this assignment I would start to cry and shake and almost have a panic attack. I have talked about it with a dear friend, and she tried to figure out why this was so hard for me. All I can say is it just is… I know in my heart it shouldn’t be. I know in my mind it’s something that I need to do (and should’ve done a long time ago). I know with every fiber of my being that this is truly holding me back. But do think I could bring myself to complete it? NO!

“.....take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5b)

So, the assignment that I didn't complete was to hold a baby. This bothers me that I haven't been able to do this. The last baby I held was Calleigh Joy. I'm not sure why this gives me such apprehension, but I'm literally starting to breathe fast and shallow just typing this...

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)
"Todo lo puedo en Cristo, que me fortalece." (Filipenses 4:13)

Oh, I've known lots of couples that have had babies - just none I felt comfortable enough to walk up to and say "Hey, I want to hold your baby. And I know I'll cry. And I'll probably want to keep it. And I'll probably look longingly into their face and want to check out every single inch of them. And I'll probably cry some more. And I probably won't want to let go. Oh, and I don't want anyone else around because this will be extremely difficult for me." You know, with my 'normal' friends I don't feel comfortable enough asking this. I don't think they would understand. Heck, my family doesn't even understand me, how can I expect people not related to me to understand me. I don't know that I could trust my emotions if I was turned down. I know my heart is not strong enough. I just keep wondering if I hold another baby if I will forget what it was like to hold C.J. That is all I have left, my memories of holding her. Unlike Justen and Taylor that I got to make new memories with every single day, my memories of C.J. in the hospital are all I have left...

So, now we fast forward to my new friends that we met in our grief support group. When they were expecting I received a personal message letting me know about their upcoming bundle. They KNEW what I would be feeling, the emotions I was going through, the sadness mixed with joy for every person I know that gets the privilege of bringing new life into this world. The longing for that feeling again of complete pregnancy ignorance, where after you 'make it through' the first 12 weeks everything was definitely going to be OK. And guess what?!? For the first time in 14 months I was able to ask if when the baby arrives I could hold him. And she said she would be honored. Well, her beautiful, perfect healthy baby boy was born last night and I'm already starting to feel a bit anxious about holding him - but I'm also ready to take this next step!

" I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." {Philippians 3:14}

And now for my obedience... even though I did not blog about my Prayers and Praises for the last five days, I STILL DID THEM! I made the commitment to this adventure and no matter what my emotions are, I will keep going!

" Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." {Romans 12:2}

Peace and Love to All! :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Prioritizing my Priorities with a Position of Praise...

I admit - I have a lot of things to do. Certainly not as many as I wish I was doing right now, since I wish I was mothering a beautiful, healthy, almost 14 month old little girl! But I still have enough to keep my life rather eventful (and my mind some-what preoccupied).

Yesterday in '31 Days to Pray for Your Spouse', the focus was on Priorities. Of course I prayed for Corey, but then as usual my mind started thinking about my own life...

When Taylor was five she competed in and won a Miss Nebraska pageant. (this was NOT one of those "JonBenet Ramsey" type of things!) This title enabled her to compete at a National level with state winners from across the U.S. The girls in her age division were between 5 and 8 years old, and although we knew she would be one of the youngest ones in Florida competing for the National crown our first priority going in to that week of fierce competitions was to bring honor to God in everything we did. (just as we had also sought to do at the state level)

A couple weeks ago as I was going through our 'junk room' upstairs (where Corey and I moved our bedroom) I came across the boxes of pageant stuff from Taylor's competing days. In the box was the speech she gave in the National competition while we were in Florida. At that age division the speeches did not have to be originally written by the contestant and they were encouraged to recite a poem or something like that for their speech. We found a cute, meaningful poem (I'm pretty sure I remember finding it printed in her home-school language book) and the author was simply stated as unknown.

Jesus, Others and You
     What a wonderful way to spell Joy.
Jesus, Others and You
     In the heart of each girl and each boy.
J is for Jesus
     He takes first place.
O is for Others
     You meet face to face.
Y is for You
     And whatever you do.
Put yourself third and spell Joy.
J-O-Y . . . . . JOY!

As I re-read that poem I could still hear Taylor Dawn reciting it in her oh-so-sweet five year old voice, and I started to cry. I cried for a couple reasons. First of all, in November, 2010, I didn't even think about this poem while we were picking out names for our soon-to-be born baby, and yet it had such a history in our family since Taylor would walk around reciting this poem to anyone and everyone - even if they didn't particularly want to hear it or know who she was!! So, of course it reminded me of our precious Calleigh JOY! :)

I also cried because it made me think about how people treat each other. (Christians and Non-Christians alike) I couldn't help but think what kind of a place this would be if we ALL put Jesus first, Others second and Ourselves last. If we made every decision by asking ourselves if it would make Jesus happy. If we watched our words and actions around other people - before we thought about what we wanted. How many more kids have to die because they think no one cares about them? If only my young friend that took his own life on Monday could see the outpouring of love being shown to him now. What if half of us would've put him first in something we did? What if a couple of us told him how much worth he had as a person? What if I would've taken a couple seconds to really ask how he was doing, instead of chit-chatting about trivial things?

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. - Matthew 22:37-38

And then today's focus was on ATTITUDE. Of course I couldn't help but think how our Priorities need to be in order, but our Attitude is essential to make this happen!

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:5-7

Lord, Help me have an Attitude of Praise while I straighten out my Priorities! Amen.

Peace and Love to All!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Relationships. Make them count.

I have a confession to make. Yesterday afternoon when I wrote “Make Your Choices with Integrity” I didn’t quite finish it the way I wanted to so I saved what I had, picked Justen up at the airport in Omaha, went to Tecumseh for Taylor’s Honor Choir concert, and when we got home a couple games of pool were played and we were chatting as a family… then we had a visitor come to the door around 10 p.m. I had just told Corey that when he was done on the computer that I needed to get on really quick and upload my blog post for the day. (I was just planning on quick ending it while I did that.) When we heard the knock on the door our visitor wanted to see Justen, but then she pulled me alone in the kitchen to share with me some very disturbing news. A former co-worker of mine (and present school-mate of Taylor’s) was found dead. She didn’t know any details at that time. My heart was so heavy. I had just seen him a few days ago. Chit-chatted with him. I didn’t see any warning signs at all. And now our town has lost another precious life, a person with a bunch of potential, and another family is hurting and grieving the loss of a child…. I know what they’re going through, but I know it’s not quite the same. No one’s grieving is ever the same. What I do know is that they are grieving for his future and the loss of making any more memories with this valued individual, and I am grieving NEVER being given the chance to make any memories with my loved daughter. So after our visitor left I broke the news to the rest of the family. I wanted Taylor to hear this from me and not randomly at school. So… eventually when the situation had been talked over and our good-nights said, my thoughts went back to my blog post. I pulled up what I had written and I couldn’t think of a way to end it. So I didn’t. I posted it ‘as is’!

This morning, heart still heavy and after getting hardly any sleep, I pulled up both of my 31 Days Devotionals and today's prayer focus for Corey is 'Relationships'. As with almost every other day, I think about and pray for Corey, but I also use the scripture verses, thoughts and focus in my own life as well. And as I sat here thinking about my friend (especially after learning that he took his own life) I began to play back the conversations that I had had with him lately. I began to search my memory of any warning signs that I might have missed, any facebook posts that would've sent up a red flag. I couldn't think of any. So then I began wondering if there were signs there, but I was too busy with other things and didn't put enough stock in some of my 'relationships' to see there was a problem. I truly hope that is not the case, but we as human beings, were put on this earth for a number of reasons - and one of those reasons is to love others.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

Well, I can tell you, after everything that had transpired I really wasn't in the mood to "Praise" while doing my 31 Days of Praise devotional. BUT... I am determined to follow through, so I opened up my book to day six.

The first paragraph pretty much blew me away! Here it is, " I magnify You, my God, for Your absolute purity, holiness, and justice, as the Judge to whom all people must give account. I praise You that Your fairness is intertwined with everything You do... that when the time is ripe You will end all sin and injustice, all corruption, all immorality... that You will right all wrongs and reward all loving service and suffering for Your sake." (This was taken directly from the verses: Ps. 99:3, 9; Dan. 4:37; Rom. 14:12; Deut. 32:4; Is. 2:10-12; Rom. 12:19; Heb. 6:10)

This situation was NOT God attacking us, it was NOT God punishing us. We live in a fallen world. We make decisions each and every day about our choices - whether they are good or bad. But how you help others that you have a relationship with - that will make differences in people's lives. If you had the cure for cancer, would you share it? Well, I don't have the cure for cancer or any other disease (but I wish I had the cure for infertility!), but I do know how we can live in eternity with our heavenly Father. Start a relationship with Him. And He will give you love for others!

Love and Peace to All!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Make Your Choices with Integrity…

Every day we have choices to make. We have the option to be honest, we have the alternative to be truthful, we have the preference to be honorable, we have the variety to be reliable… and the synonyms could go on and on and on…

Yesterday I chose to work in the house getting ready for Justen to come home instead of writing in my blog. Do I think that was a wise decision? YES! Today I chose to take off work early so I could drive to Omaha and pick up Justen from the airport. Do I think that was an intelligent conclusion? YES!

But – yesterday when I was reading Day 4 in my 31 Days to Pray for Your Spouse devotional about ‘Choices’; and then I read Day 5 today about Integrity – it really made me think. If I am truly making all of MY decisions and Choices with Integrity why does my thoughts and attitude so often stink? Oh sure, I can make myself look good, I can keep up the appearance that I have it all together. As long as no one can see in to my thoughts and motives. Then I think “Isn’t this suppose to be about Corey? Why am I worried about me?” Sometimes I think I need to be hit upside the head with a 2 by 4, maybe that would knock some sense in to me.

Proverbs 28:6 says, Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways. Proverbs 20.7 says, The righteous who walks in his integrity – blessed are his children after him! And 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Lord, please help me to make good choices - I never know who might be watching.

Love and Peace to All!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Strength Like An Eagle...

Well, we definitely found out today that 100 years ago no one built houses so a queen-size bed would be able to go up it's stairs.

My beautiful wood beams that go up the kitchen side of the staircase have been sawed off and our perfectly good box-spring has been torn apart. BUT, our bed is officially up to our "new" Winnie the Pooh room. Oh yeah, and Corey told me yesterday that he didn't want me to paint over Winnie and Friends - it just wouldn't be the same. (I'm pretty sure he was kidding to make me feel like all of those hours I spent painting that room 12 years ago was appreciated!) :)

This morning as I was reading the 31 Days to Pray for Your Spouse, the focus was on his strength. Philippians 4.13 says, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. As I was praying for Corey, I prayed for him to have supernatural strength and that he would rise up on wings like eagles. Little did I know what strength he would need today as he/we fought with the "bed problem" for several hours! :)

As I was going through 31 Days of Praise I was reminded "that the Lord blesses me through times of worship and praise, often with tears of joy mingled with sadness". And that even though our plan of moving upstairs was to be by Calleigh's room, that we are not commanded to FEEL thankful in every situation, we are commanded simply to GIVE thanks. So even though I don't FEEL thankful that Calleigh is not here with us, I can GIVE thanks for the time we had with her and the profound impact she had (and still has) on our lives!

So, we are officially moved out of our "Eagle Room". May we continue to have strength as we face each day!

Love and Peace to All!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Gift…

It’s almost Taylor’s 16th Birthday! With the thought of that day getting nearer it brings to my mind about gifts. More specifically what are we going to get her for a gift?!?!? Unfortunately we are not in the position to get her a brand-spankin’ new car for her birthday. Heck, we aren't even able to get her a rusted-out old car right now! Then I read Day Two in both of the devotionals I’m doing!

“31 Days of Praise” for day two starts out, “Thank You, Father, that You so loved the world that You gave Your one and only Son…” And in “31 Days to Pray for my Spouse”, the focus is on his Salvation. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

As I turn my focus towards the Gift that was given to me, I am eternally thankful that I chose to receive His Gift. When Corey and I were married the first time, he had not yet accepted God's free Gift, and I truly am thankful that my "new husband" and I have that in common! :)

As I alluded yesterday, a couple years ago I helped lead a study in Mexicali, Mexico using the book "31 Days of Praise" by Ruth Myers. What a joy it was to praise with these ladies. Most of them had no idea what I was saying and most of the time I had no idea what they were saying, but together (me with my English version and them with their Spanish translation) we were able to Praise God together. I look forward to sharing more about my time with these amazing ladies during this Month of Praise.

But for tonight I'm Praising, Praying & Thankful for my Gift and the Gift that my family has accepted, too!

Peace and Love to All! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Month of Praise & Prayer !?!? YES!!

Well, as I was getting ready for bed I had a fabulous thought - Why not post everyday about the two beautiful devotionals I'm doing this month???  Then I realized that it's almost midnight and I have to be up at 5:30 am so I can go to Omaha for our second IUI procedure tomorrow morning!  Why didn't I have this thought earlier in the day??? I don't know - sometimes my mind just works like that.

So.....  Today I'll just start with the basics of the day, and I'll explain everything in more detail tomorrow. OK? :)

The first group of ladies that I do an on-line Bible Study with are doing the book "31 Days of Praise" by Ruth Myers. This is a wonderful little book that I actually had the privilege of doing a few years ago with some ladies in Mexico.  I will DEFINITELY tell more about that later!

What I took out of the text the most today is: Psalm 91:1-2 - He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!"  
You are my strong shelter in times of trouble and danger and stress... You delight to give me the desires of my heart as I delight myself in You.

WOW! How many times am I in trouble or feeling stress?  Yet God is there for me to trust! Amen!

The other devotional is an e-book that several of my friends and I heard about and did for the month of January and are doing again in the month of March. It is called "31 Days to Pray For Your Spouse" by Ashley Pichea.   This gives a daily focus to my prayer time for Corey.

The first day starts out praying for ME! MY heart! I remember when I did this for the first time and I thought, "aren't I suppose to be praying for Corey?" Well, what a perfect way to start the month by asking God to focus MY thoughts and prayers correctly on Corey!

Well, more tomorrow! And if you think about it, please say a prayer for us!
Peace and Love to All!  :)