Friday, December 30, 2011

Thoughts on the New Year 2012

Perhaps I should title this "Thoughts on Ending 2011" but I'm choosing to look forward, since it's occupied a lot of my prayer time lately...

Well, ok - I'll give a quick recap of a few of the highlights...

Mark and I went to FL for a brief run away from the cold of winter in January - it was still cool on the Gulf, but it was fun to get away for a unplanned vacation. We loved the blue waters, white sand dunes, and the drive together.

We made several trips to Pittsburgh, PA to visit our daughter Melissa, her husband Ryan, and our last visit welcomed a little brother to the 3 grandgirls we have there! They've recently felt led to change the direction of their life, from youth ministry here to working with youth in El Salvador. (more on this later)

We had the joy, and the sadness of our daughter Jessica's first pregnancy this spring. Little baby Rodenbaugh went to heaven very early in life, and it is still heartbreaking to all of us. God, in His kindness, answered my prayer for Jessica to be pregnant again before the first child's due date, and she is now due to have a baby boy in May. We are SO excited!!

Our son Jason was protected from death in the tornado in Joplin, as God held him at a friend's home when he should have been driving right into the tornadoes path. He also provided a good job for Jason, and got him plugged in to a good community of believers in a brand new city for him down in Louisiana! It's such an answer to prayer to see him mature in his faith, as a man of God, and to live on his own. YAY for responsible living!

We took a few drives around our area to discover it and learn more about it. We still LOVE living in KY, and enjoy the diversity of the rivers, lakes, farmland, and hills.

With my volunteering at Crossroads Christian Church (Newburgh, IN) I have been able to assist Team Expansion in several ways and do some traveling: Cincinnati, OH for the North American Christian Convention, Atlanta, GA for the National Missionary Convention (now called the International Conference On Missions), and I also went on a Missionary Care trip to North Africa!

I've made lots of amazing friendships this past year, confirming more that God has us here for a reason. Mark leads our small group, I get to assist in the Women's Ministry, and we love being a part of God's community here. YAY!!

OH OK - the real reason for this post - the future!!

"I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future..."

Mark and I have been praying and planning on doing "The Daniel Fast" this next week. Most people start it on a Sunday - but because of Mark's work schedule - we'll start on Tuesday or Wednesday. This fast is not a total food fast, it is based on the way Daniel ate when he fasted, only fruits and vegetables, drinking only water, and no leavening (no bread!) in anything eaten that is ONLY whole grains. You can get the details of the fast at their web site: and if you sign up in her email updates, you can get the guidelines emailed to you for free! We have invested (around $10) for the book and will follow along the devotionals that she provides, and there's a whole section on preparation (what we're reading now) as well as a bunch of recipes.

As a part of this fast, we are setting spiritual goals that we are seeking God's intervention with. We're still praying about the finalizing of these things, but a few of them are for our future in work/ministry, and my hives. I'd really love for God to provide a spiritual breakthrough on them - it's been around 5 years now and I'm getting pretty weary of dealing with them. UGH. I know that He will reveal something to me about the cause of them and I look forward to the answer He provides to heal me.

I'm also asking for deliverance from the food addictions that I have - sweets/sugar (none are allowed on the fast - not even natural sweeteners like honey!), and fats (only plant based oils are allowed, and no fried foods). I know that we both eat out of stress, and both "struggle with our weight" too, but this is not our motivation for fasting. Rather I'm praying that He will cleanse us of our bad habits, our unhealthy attitudes on eating, and give us the motivation and will-power to lean hard on Him and break them all. I know that this is just a 21 day focus for us, but that the effects can last our lives.

Before the month ends (and more likely in the early part of the month) our daughter Melissa and her family will be moving in with us! Our little 1300 square foot house will have a total of 4 adults and 4 kids living in it! They will be here with us for sometime between 2 and 6 months, preparing to transition into a ministry in El Salvador! I'm excited to get to have the time with them before they go, to spend time with our grandkids and to be able to strengthen their relationship and see them "do church" with us for a season before they move...of course I'm praying for God's will in their life too!

I'm sure that Mark's been thinking of another winter get away - but I don't know what he has in mind this time around...he's always wanted to take a cruise...and it's been a LONG time since we've been to CA to see our friends and family those are possibilities. I know that we're open to let God lead us on another mission trip - but think that it's Mark's turn, or we'll go together this time. I have NO idea where that might God can surprise us there. :)

We're also continuing to pray about Mark asking for a position working overseas with the company that he works with. God has to work there to bring that to fruition, but we're aware that we might get to go somewhere that "missionaries" are not allowed, but Poultry Plant Engineers are.

We'll go wherever He wants us to, and trust Him to equip us in that journey!!

SO, those are some of my thoughts for this year. Discipline (I think) is my focus word. Whether it's writing, quilting, Bible study, or laundry and dishes, I desire to be more disciplined and intentional in my actions and reactions. I want to be a better encourager, and write notes to people I care about - handwrite if I if I can't. I want to smile more, and complain less. I want to share God's love with more people who do not know Him as their Lord, Savior, Father, Friend. I want to hear them say "I believe that Jesus IS the Son of God..." and see the light of His love light up their face, for them to cry tears of the realization that He died for their sins...that He loves them THAT much...

Those are the things I hope for this year...

I invite you to (please) pray for me, for us, as we move forward in our walks with God. We know that the more we intend to do more with Jesus, the more Satan will fight back. We need prayer warriors around us to respond as God leads them to pray for us. By the time we post something, the battle may be over, but YOU can feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit and PRAY! YAY!! We appreciate those that pray for us in the same way I pray for others...if God brings you to my mind, I pray for you...whatever He leads...and if I don't know something in particular, I pray for peace, for strength, for you to feel Him at work in you, around you and through you....

Happy New Year friends...
My God Reigns...


Friday, December 23, 2011

The Baby....

OK, this SHOULD be about THE baby in the manger...Jesus...but I realized that I didn't ever post about the arrival of my grandson - a week ago now!! So first things first...

Little Man O arrived early Saturday morning, and mom and son are doing well. He has some issues with his tongue (the skin that attaches underneath it is too close up front, so he might need to get it clipped) and it initially caused some issues with nursing, but with God's grace it's working better now.

He is absolutely adorable!! His two oldest sisters A and E fell in love with him immediately, and "baby girl Z" is adapting fine.

Now, I'm back home (after over 3 weeks there!!) and trying to settle in. My house is a mess, my bags not unpacked, and my son is already here (he beat me by 3 days!). I brought the 2 oldest grandgirls home and passed them along to the "other grandma" already. It felt wonderful to sleep in my own bed (instead of the air mattress, which was really much better than I anticipated - thank You Lord!!), and shower in my own shower. I have laundry piles all over the bedroom, and a mess in the kitchen. A lot to do.

This moment, my house is empty - unless you count Abbey the Wonderdog and our long lost cat (that Jason has rescued) Dominoes. The only sound is Pandora on my laptop...Christmas songs from the Caedmon's Call Christmas station.

I woke up with the feeling impressed on my heart that today I would make sure that everything is prepared for Christmas. More than the house cleaning, unpacking, laundry, lack of decorations and needing to make menus (and shop) for the next week, I want to make sure that my heart and mind are prepared for Christmas.

I think it popped into my mind when I read of a friend's engagement announcement and remembered that many people will spend much time preparing for a wedding, and little time preparing for the marriage.

I want to prepare for the marriage...Jesus to His bride, the church. For me, this celebration of Christmas is a part of that. It's not about the presents, it's about His Presence. Not about the gifts, but HIS Gift. Not about the things we get, but the one thing we can give others to make a difference in their eternity. Sharing Jesus with the world...I want my life to reflect that in every area.

I know that I have a LONG way to get it "right" - but I want to intentionally allow Him to change me. Yes, Lord, change me!

May we have opportunities to impact others' lives for Jesus, and take advantage of them, over the coming year....

Grace and peace...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My thoughts on Christmas and Santa...

Every year this comes up...and my stance stays the same. I was raised in a home that "did Santa"  - and didn't do Jesus at all - so as a new believer in Jesus (30 some years ago!!) this was something that had to be "do Santa" or to NOT "do Santa" in my own family.

To me, it clearly became a thought of "truth" or "lies", and there is a very real story behind Santa Clause, but to me, it's not enough to lie about his presence on Christmas. So I chose then, and have chosen still, to not "do Santa".

Call me a kill joy, but really, with getting married, raising kids, seeing them grow and marry and have their own families - it's continued on. We've given them the freedom to make the choice with their own kids, and so far, they are not doing Santa either.

I'm closing with a post that I wrote in response to a post on (in)courage's blog for today...about Santa and Christmas. I encourage you to check it out, as it tells her story of changing from a "Santa" house to a "non-Santa" house.  Here are my thoughts....

"We never “did” Santa with our kids, and always focused on a Happy Birthday Jesus theme for the holidays, to the point of doing service projects that day as the kids grew up. Our reason – honesty. We never wanted the kids to remember the lie of Santa (or that it’s ok to lie about anything!) and that Jesus is ENOUGH reason to celebrate. Oddly enough, it was our unbelieving parents that protested “not getting to do Santa” with their grandkids. We dug our heels in deep.
We realize that others, even other Christians, choose to celebrate with Santa – and the “real” Saint Nicholas WAS a wonderful man of generosity….so we shared the real story of why he is included in the holiday.
Having grown, married kids now, we were curious what they would do with their own kids…so far they are choosing to do no Santa with their kids! They appreciate that we respect their freedom to create Christmas to be the way they want to make it for their kids, but also love the fact that we don’t over indulge them, keep it realistic on the financial meter, and can make memories together without all the consumerism.
It’s a day about a baby, savior of the world, born in a manger…the simplest of circumstances…we can celebrate in many ways to honor Him, to show appreciation to God for giving us a Savior, to make memories that generations to come can reflect on in truth and wonder of a REALLY amazing time…the manger, the savior, the stars, shepherds, angels…THESE are the things of Christmas….
(ps- check out the website for The Advent Conspiracy for ideas and reasons to do Christmas “differently” this year, and in the future. NOW is the time to lay the groundwork for your families future Christmas’ Celebrations…talk at the table and commit to changing things next year. Ask how much debt they racked up this Christmas – or ask in January when the bills are coming in! – and commit to doing a debt-free Christmas – with or without Santa!!)"

Saturday, December 17, 2011

awaiting the babe...

OK, it's nearly Christmas, and we are all focused on (or SHOULD be focused on) the baby in the manger....but tonight, we're focused on the baby that should arrive today (Saturday) that's around 10 days new grandson. :)

Mom and dad are at the hospital, while I'm waiting at the house with sleeping sisters (I should be sleeping too...but am just too excited!). I know if I don't get some sleep I'll be a mean ol' grouch when sisters wake up  (in just a few hours!! YIPES!!)

Off to bed I go...with prayers on my lips for a continued safe delivery into the world  - for mom and baby...

good morning...good night...whatever it is!!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

10 Days before...

A year ago, 10 days before Christmas, I'd have my menu and shopping list made out, stuck to my refrigerator with a magnet, along with a list of all the Christmas cookies that had to be made (and another list of who would receive them!).

A year ago, 10 days before Christmas, my husband Mark and I would be comparing notes, and figuring who would be here this year to join us at our Christmas table.

A year ago, 10 days before Christmas, I'd have my calendar in plain view, with places to go and people to see, and maybe even reminders of when my favorite Christmas programs would be on tv.

A year ago, 10 days before Christmas, I'd have already seen our church Christmas program, been moved to tears by memories of songs I'd not heard sung so powerfully; or moved to tears by the sheer memory of how dear these familiar songs are to me.

A year ago, 10 days before Christmas, my home would be collecting dust on all the greenery, my Christmas lights wrapped in tulle in the windows would be glowing each night, and it would seem that these special decorations are always a part of my home decor.

But this year is different.

10 days before Christmas, I'm sleeping in the attic room on an air mattress at my daughter's house in Pittsburgh, PA. My husband is at home, and no decorations are up. We are 8 hours drive away from each other. We spent last week together, here in Pittsburgh, hoping that she would have given birth to their little boy nearer to her due date. But he hasn't arrived, and she isn't ready, so I'm still hanging out here to help with the other 3 kids (4 and under), and Christmas is sort of - well - on hold? I don't really know what Christmas is this year, or where it fits in. I know that our son and other daughter and her husband are due to come to our home for some time there, and Christmas dinner is supposed to be shared with them, but I don't even know!

Christmas goodies have been made here, by my daughter and her husband, to give to their friends here. We've walked around the mall a hundred times, let the kids ride on the little train near Santa's workshop there, and they went for a drive last night to ooooh and aaaaah over the Christmas lights around the city.

There is a chance she may be induced this weekend, a chance the baby will arrive sooner than that, but we don't know for sure...and I have no idea when it is that I'm supposed to leave to go home. I guess we need to talk about this.

So 10 days before Christmas, I'm in a mindset I've not ever been before, and am trying - DESPERATELY trying - to find Christmas in my heart - in the place that Christmas can be every day of the year....

Remembering the first year I was a Christian at Christmas, and just NOW remembering an essay I wrote years ago that captured it...

"When I first became a Christian, years ago in Seal Beach, CA, it was as if I saw the entire Christmas season through new eyes. My senses were keenly aware of the importance of this think of a girl, pregnant for the first time, carrying the Messiah, and facing the ridicule of an unplanned pregnancy in the eyes of the public. To imagine the awesomeness of the shepherd's interaction with the angels, in the stillness of the night, all the "choirs of angels" and their fullness of joy as they pronounced the arrival of the King!

It all came to my emotional finality in the quietness of midnight on Christmas Eve. Although we had lived in the same neighborhood for several years, things happened that I had not ever noticed before. Was I oblivious to it out of my spiritual ignorance, or was it something that God created just for me? I believe it was a little of both, instrumented in His glory as a gift to me.

It was a late night, and for some reason I could not sleep. It was mild weather, normal for December in Southern California, so the bedroom windows were open, and the sound of the ocean's waves crashed rhythmically on the shore. Not noticing time or space, I rose out of bed and sat on the balcony, overlooking the stillness of the town, the greenway park empty, yet lit up by the street lights all down the road. Then, as if out of no where, the sound of carols being played by church bells rang throughout the town! From midnight on, song after song, I don't even know how long it lasted, the carols sang out, proclaiming the King's birth!

It was as if each melody drew out from my heart the lyrics, making them real to me for the very first time! I cried at the proclamation of Jesus' birth! Rejoice! Emmanuel!! He has come!!

Now I live in Southwest Missouri, and I'm far from the sound of the ocean's waves or the little church down the road that had the Christmas bells in their steeple. Sometimes I can see the wind blowing the fields of grass and it mimics the ocean's currents, or I can imagine the sound of the waves breaking on the shore on crisp, cold, winter nights, with no water in sight. Yet Christmas season is always a time of miracles as I remember back to my first "real" Christmas, and the special gift that God gave to me that night. "

I'm not living in MO any more, and Christmas looks different in KY, and even here in Pittsburgh, but the heart of Christmas is the same. The songs of rejoicing still ring true in my heart, even if the steps to prepare are very different.

And I'm sure that 10 days before Christmas will look very different too...but no matter where I am, or what I'm doing, I can stop. pause. and reflect at how wonderful this indescribable gift of Jesus needs to be unwrapped in my heart...

not just 10 days before Christmas, but actually, every day of the year...

PS - my afterthought: I was blogging this occurs to me: I know many people around the world where they have to prepare for Christmas in many other "different" ways, and things don't look/feel/smell/taste the same to them...they don't get to be with the ones that they love to be around (even if they are with others that they do love)....and they have to create new ways to prepare their hearts for "the most wonderful time of the year" when there may not even be lights on trees or houses, or Christmas parties to attend, or can't even mention Jesus' my pity party ended abruptly...and although it may not feel like Christmas in my circumstances, I NEED to make it Christmas in my ♥ , and that's not about where I am geographically, but where I am spiritually - and I want to be in THAT I'm praying for "all those other friends" and remembering their needs this morning...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

busy as a bee hive...well...

I'm as busy as a bee...but the hive part of it is really to reference my battle with hives. If you've followed my journey for any length of time, you know I've had idiopathic hives (which means that the dr can't figure out why i get them) for about 5 years now. I test barely allergic to grass pollen and weed pollen, but nothing else according to their tests. I know I'm sensitive to things like shampoo, detergents, perfumes, hairspray, other soaps (dishwashing, hand soap, especially anything antibacterial), other hair care products (especially "thickening" things that have polymers in them), and sometimes I think foods bother my intestines too. Not all of these things cause me to have hives; sometimes my throat closes up or I feel like I'm having an asthma attack (although I tested fine and don't have asthma per the allergist - but my personal md treated me for asthma all winter long, and it helped - well, I think it did!).

Sometimes my hives will be on my wrists, on the inside, where the skin is thinner - it will start itching before I even see anything, and the lymph nodes under the surface will swell up, not a normal topical reaction. Sometimes I will get them in the palm of my hand/s. Usually, if it's on my hands, feet or legs, it's a mirror response - either both sides break out at the same time, or after one side is done breaking out the other side will start. They don't have to be in contact with whatever is causing it at all!! One time, while sitting at my computer, the outside of my thigh started breaking out with welts, a normal hive response, and then the other side started on the outside of my thigh!! It was weird. : P

Often times, especially in the evenings, I will break out in my scalp, at the base of my neck. The lymph system will swell there too, but often a "normal" hive will travel down my spine to my lower back (or it will start there and travel up!). The "normal" ones will be raised welts and itch like crazy.

I was taking Lodrane last spring, and it worked wonderfully to control them, but FDA removed it from the market after I had been on it a few months. Not fun. It was the first time I could take something without it leaving me with the drugged feeling for the following day. I'm so bummed. :(

I found out about a drug study going on in my area, for people with hives. A new medication. However, for me to participate in the study I have to take 2 out of 3 drug classes on a daily basis. One of them is an antihistamine - like the Zyrtec I take - but I only take it when I absolutely have to - because of the way it leaves me feeling - medicine head for days!! The other drug would either be something like Singulair (which I took daily all last winter to aid my asthma like symptoms) or another type of drug that was for stomach stuff ... I can't recall the class of drug, but know it's available over the counter for gastric stuff - which I have no reason to really take, but wouldn't hurt me. I just can't imagine taking the Zyrtec every day, even the child's dose (which is what I take) because of the way it leaves me feeling - even if I only take it at bedtime...I wake up foggy brained in the morning.

So, in the midst of researching all this, I found out that the hospital my dr is associated with (St Mary's) has a site for Complementary and Alternative Medicines, and hives was one of the things that was in their I looked it up. It stated that there were very early studies, with not really conclusive results, that showed that SOME people with hives lack a certain acid level to break down meats, and they thought that might have something to do with their hives. They gave several vitamin and supplement levels to take to assist with it - but again - it wasn't found conclusive for everyone, so it had a very low success rating (and of course, consult with your dr before trying anything...).

This brought me back to a time that I was reading about "Eat Right For Your Blood Type" back in the 90's when I was going through stomach stuff with what the dr in MO diagnosed IBS....but later they removed my gall who knows what it was. So I went online last night and found a website that gave information on my type blood (A+) and dietary suggestions based on this doctor's findings. The site is here for "A" type blood folks like me:

Now, as I told my husband last night, and he TOTALY agreed with me, I wouldn't take so seriously what the Dr. says about diet, if he didn't peg my personality and lifestyle needs so perfectly!! WHO would ever think that these would be blood type things?? And in Japan they take it so seriously that they will ask you your blood type in dating? or a job interview?? Crazy!! He mentions the same lack of acid in the/my stomach that aids in breaking down meat/protein and also other things that affect it. I ate vegetarian early in my adult life, and although I was healthy in EATING, I was unhealthy in every other area of my life! It was before I knew it was when I was in the midst of "sex, drugs 'n rock and roll" lifestyle. LOL How foolish of me to eat healthy, but drink every night, do drugs (natural and chemical) and be so messed up in my lifestyle was the current society that accepted it, and it was (more or less) preached at home to live this way. We had no authority, no respect for any authority, and it showed in our personal habits.

But now, what he says in the book (or on this site) about my "personality type" is pretty true to my nature through and through, and whether it's nature or nurture, God created me this way!! SO, I'm going to give this a try, and see if it helps in my health, my hives, my weight (couldn't hurt!!) and just life in general. I would way rather control the way I eat than have to be on medications the rest of my life!! :)

SO, thank You God, for the creative way you stir the medical minds, created us to be, and offer options and lead us in new thinking ways for new reasons. I trust YOU to remove my hives, and ask that You will make me disciplined to break my addictions to sugar, fat, and anything else not good for me. Help me to draw deep from Your well, to make my body run optimally the way You created it. You are my source for Light, Life and health... and I love You for it God!! <3

Friday, November 4, 2011

late night thoughts...

WOW, what a week. since coming back to the U.S. i've thought of things that happened in North Africa, and tried to figure out why i wasn't longing to be back there...i fully expected to leave a part of my heart there, and knew it would be "common" to think that "this is the place God wants me to be" - but it never happened. i love the field, love the people working there, the people living there. i know the needs - the short window of time to get work done there, to spread the gospel, to tell others about Jesus. i know it all, but it doesn't click. the passion for Jesus is there, but the passion for that place is not. He wants me to stay here (or somewhere else that He hasn't shown me yet).

so, content with being here, i'm totally shocked with the doors He's opening in my life. i've never felt so driven and bold to walk in discipline. i know it's all about the love, grace, mercy - but for me - right now it's all about being obedient. not in a "hell, fire and damnation" kind of way - but in a "God said it so i'm going to live it" way. i want to speak truth (in love), walk straight forward and cut to the chase in teaching. don't make it watered down and easy to swallow - i want to hear it straight from the Bible - the words that Jesus spoke or others wrote unapologetically - and let them seer my ears, and burn into my heart and mind. i want to write them on the doorposts of my house, and want to declare myself a bond-servant of Jesus Christ; willingly putting myself in a posture of servanthood to Him and His purposes.

how brave of me.

and then i crumble, from this place forward. i cry for a friend who has lost a child, too young to be born. i cry for the daughter's of another friend as she battles cancer at too young an age. i cry for my own memories and HIStory that has too many times that i've stepped away from Him, my battered mind and body not understanding the true love of His that He gives me freely, His mercies new every morning.

i read, re-read, try to memorize His words, think on things worthy of thought, and struggle with the thought that He chose me to do His will. i am mesmerized by the thought of a love so strong that it captures my actions and thoughts in my own dreams. how can He love like this, and how can i learn to love like He loves. with abandon.

sigh. i pray that others get it. that this oddity, this boldness that i don't want to come off as self-confidence but only confidence in Him, that in my weakness He is made strong, is only Christ in me. weak little me. uncoordinated and unloved for so long me. ungifted before He gifted me, me. that my purpose in life was not to be a great thinker, a great writer or a great artist, but a great follower. a great servant. i want to be the soft clay that can be made into other things as He wills, over and over again. i want to be the worker in the fields ripe with wheat, whether the field is in my back yard, or the world wide web.

i don't want to speak (or write) words that make others THINK. i want to speak and write words that make people GO and DO. i want to go and do too...carrying the banner...

i want to hate sin, even in my own life, my own mind, my own body - and yet love the sinner - even if it's me. i want to be an instrument of peace, not political peace, but peace of mind for the restless, holding their hand as they reach out to touch the hem of the garment that my Savior wears. i want to believe, and rest in the knowledge that HE LIVES. i want to sing myself to sleep with the words of great hymns, instilling peace in my heart, my mind, my soul.

is this what He wants? i want to know that. so Jesus, make my steps Your steps, make my words Your own. Own me. push all of me out, until i only care about the things You do. only love like You love. only see like You see. let me hear the cries of those that You have a broken heart for, and let my heart break for them too.

consume me God. burn within me. wash over me. sing through me.

Friday, October 28, 2011

regarding prayer...from Faith Barista Bonnie Gray's challenge... sweet.

i LOVE praying! alone, together, on my knees, or in a large group...with words in my heart or floating around my ears - my own or to be a part of it.

praying comes easy for me - i love to talk - so don't use flowery words and "Christian-ese" language - just talk to God. He IS my FATHER...and He understands my heart (even when it's broken), my mind (even when it's pre-occupied) and my physical needs (even when they are great). He knows my silences...and i'm grateful that it's ok to "be still and know that He is God". He loves me, and wants to hear from me. i want to walk with Him in every area of my life!!

a partner in ministry and i began to meet at the start of summer one night a week, for one hour, to pray for others - the global community of workers sharing the gospel of Jesus abroad. for missionaries, unreached people groups, and for others who would be passionate to come and pray about these things with us. i love seeing who He leads to join us each week! i'm ALWAYS amazed at how quickly that time flies by!!

in some areas of Christian work, we see a lot of hurt and loneliness  in worker's lives....the problem - the inability to join together and pray in agreement. to do spiritual warfare against the common enemy. i'm praying for these men and women and families to lay down their pride, their shame, and be willing to lift each other up in prayer!! my prayers for them can only go so i'm praying that they will put on their armor and do battle, that HE will equip them to do it, and lead them in prayer!

i think that one of my most motivational prayer resources has been "The Power of a Praying Wife" by Stormie Omartian (all her books are good, but this was my first one years ago). i LOVE how she states at the start - we have no right to pray for God to change our husbands unless we are willing to ask God to change us too -  that has become a part of my foundational prayer in MANY sessions - "God, change me; change "them", or change the circumstances" - and He always answers that prayer (can you guess who gets changed most?).

a book sitting on my desktop waiting to be read is "And The Place Was Shaken" on leading prayer groups...i've heard good things about it!

my favorite thing to do- when someone says "would you pray for me..." i will stop right then, and pray for them! often they are caught off guard - they don't want to BE praying but want the benefit of prayer - but it's a good thing to do! you get the benefit of leading someone else into a time of prayer (perhaps they have never prayed with another person, out LOUD?!) and God is glorified through our act of praying - coming into His presence (good for all of us!!) and we may get to play a part of seeing an answer to prayer.

some good ideas for prayer, from my youth group leading days:
     P - praise God for who He is!! use scripture to define His attributes, His character.
     R - remember what He has done! scripture is great to focus on, but it may be something recent too. also         remember what WE have done - do we need to confess anything to Him, to clear the air?
     A - ask - is there something we are requesting from Him??
     Y- yield to Him...this might be in quiet, silence, listening to hear His quiet voice speak something to us.

it doesn't have to be long, flowery, or in detail - all we may be able to pray is, "God, i don't know what to say - but i love you and trust you, and ask that Your will would be done in this situation..."

thanks for sharing can bet i'm getting off of here and getting into some serious prayer time...

grace and peace (and prayer...)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pseudo blogging

A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to leave for North Africa, I thought that I'd indulge in a new blog site to capture my trip on. I had done the same thing when Mark and I went to China a few years ago ( and I found it an easy way to document our journey and keep up on things day to day (or every few days). I thought it would be a blessing to share it this same way, and started "Marina Goes To..." to chronicle the journey.

Well, it hasn't worked as well as I'd planned. Right off the gate, internet access was not as easy, ready, fast or free as what we had in China (mostly because in North Africa we moved around so much, and none of it was really good service). Part of it too was that I didn't bring a laptop along, but used my iPad - a great tool, but a pain to get photos uploaded and then inserted into the Google system I am used to using - and with the slow speeds on the internet it was really impossible to get them uploaded at all. :(  So, I've not done a great job on EITHER blog for a few weeks - but am hoping that this will all be corrected soon enough...starting now. :)

I hope that you'll join in on our travel blogs. I'll post more on the latest trip when I'm done processing it all, and once we've given our Team Trip Reflections a week from Sunday at church...I have a little fear that if I tell ALL about the trip before then, no one will show up for the Reflections!!  : P

SO come and join us, and keep checking into the blogs to see the newer material to learn about our experiences...and trust me that next time, I'll likely just post about it here from the start...

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

(in)spired deals by DaySpring = an amazing book!!

Have you seen the recordable storybooks, where the parent (or grandparent) can record their own voice reading a story to their child (or grandchild)? Last winter we got one to give to our grandgirls in PA, but wanted a storybook to convey the REAL meaning of Christmas, and could not find one, settling on another common storybook favorite.

I'm SO excited that now the line of books has expanded, and I've just received the title "God's Christmas Promise" through the (in)spired deals program through DaySpring.

The story is delightful, telling a simple version of the Bible's history of Jesus' birth. The illustrations are soft and muted and precious...just like a DaySpring Christmas Card!

I'm really excited to get to record and give this storybook to my granddaughter's, who will move out of country in the next few years to continue the mission work their parents are called to. I know that for now it's just a storybook they will fight over, but KNOW that in the coming years, it will still be a well loved connection between our grandgirls and us. I can't wait to record it with my husband, and give it to them at Christmas...guess I'm glad that my daughter doesn't read my blog!! :)

I am prayerfully excited to be leaving soon for my own journey - and ask that you follow along from my new blogsite at "marina goes to..." to read up on the coming week's travels. It won't be a prayer post, but more the geography and experiences that we have. If you read between the lines, I'm sure you'll find things to pray for us!!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

new blog for this journey...

I'm starting a new blog, so I can divide my life into the categories of what I'm thinking, doing, learning, and this amazing journey I'm about to embark on.

If you would like, please join me at and follow my trips - this first one to North Africa...

I appreciate your continued prayers, and hope that we remain in connectivity so I'll be able to post along the way...

grace and peace,

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ah...the Garden...

In response to a favorite blogger's challenge  - Faith Barista Bonnie Gray - has given, I'm going to post here daily, in addition to whatever else God leads me to blog about...

Today's topic was which of the 3 habitats that God originally created for us to find, am I longing for most TODAY:

a garden (beauty)

relationship (community)

1-1 friendship with Him (intimacy)

In my life, God has blessed me ABUNDANTLY with COMMUNITY (especially when I compare it to the 19 years I spent wandering in the Ozarks). In preparing for my upcoming trip, I have been surrounded by opportunities and challenges to draw nearer to Him, so my INTIMACY is not lacking (and in His perfect timing, we started a new series of teaching in church, on Intimacy With God!). But, OH, the Garden in my life is lacking...and even though it excites me to see the cool-ness of fall temps coaxing out the colors of fall... I'm too busy to enjoy soak them in... I need a below is the response I put on her page...

OH - a GARDEN - literally - not "just beauty".

Two things that draw me into intimacy with God...
     1.   WATER (i.e.: ocean, lake, river, creek, rain, fountain, bathtub..)
     2.   GARDEN (i.e.: rich dark dirt, laden with worms, flowers, trees, privacy, or anything in the process of...)

I KNOW where the water is, and where it's not. My local sources are the Ohio River, the pond at Audubon State Park, the fountain in my back yard (soon to be drained because of freezing temperatures), and my bathtub. I grew up near, and LOVE the Pacific Ocean, and I know where it resides -  but it's reserved for very special days. My hubby treated me to a few days on the Gulf Coast last winter - a real splurge, and God has gone over and above all my expectations when a service trip scheduled to serve and assist our Global Workers in North Africa recently disclosed that (gasp) we'll be staying on the Mediterranean! CRAZY!! Again, a time that I thought that I was going to bless others will end up blessing and filling me!! Gosh, I love how He works that out!!

And then there's the GARDEN. My back yard is full of ...nothing. Soil - well, if you want to call it's really tricky that way. It looks like clay, but when it gets wet, it becomes quicksand! SERIOUSLY!! I've had my foot stuck in it, and it sucked my shoe right off my foot!! Grass (that my Jack Russell Terrier, Abbey the Wonderdog, loves to dig in), which also hides the puddles - because, much to our dismay, the neighborhoods' water runs down the hill into our backyard, and across the back of it - it is worn down like a riverbed, and across the side fence - where the gate is, of course - and it becomes a small lake. Not the kind of lake that acts as a water feature and soothes the spirit. sigh.

When we bought the house we saw the floor plan we loved, and a backyard full of opportunities. We thought of the qualifiers, "You can't change the footprint of the house or the neighborhood", and failed to see that all the neighbors in back of us can see directly into our yard (they sit uphill from us), and that the few things growing were dangerous or prolific - as in they take over the growing spaces and hold them hostage.  We're making baby steps, as I dutifully pull out the wild things, donate them to others with bare-er yards than I, and Dear Hubby tears out the shrubs that are placed in weird places, as if they were a security system, blocking windows and doors.
at least our canoe is not there any more! :) 

Slowly, but surely, my vision for a private garden draws me in. I'm learning the nuances of the sun cycles and what likes to grow the hostas along the house REALLY don't like to grow there in late summer, when heat is at it's peak and everything  else overtakes them, but the newly planted redbud tree loves it's new location where I imagine I'll be able to watch its changes in season and monitor the birds as they build nests in it's branches in spring. The arbor vitae along the back fence is taking root, now topping the fence by height, and although we couldn't convince the building dept. to allow a permit for us to put up a storage shed in one corner (water run off and under the power line),  we plan to landscape in more trees, and turn the water ditch into a dry bed...mimicking a creek with our occasional heavy rains. We don't have a plan settled on for the side run off, but we continue to pray and study it each time we get stuck in the mud.

one ugly yard! this will be a dry bed someday!

Notice the lack of privacy

morning glories on the fence 
OH, and the flowers are growing!! The iris I planted when we first moved in (in the wrong season, and the wrong places I found out later), are getting moved this fall (right time AND to the right places). We continue to clean out areas of ugly shrubs, and plant much appreciated grass (that hubby loves to not have to mow around!). We'll keep enough flat yard space to allow a swingset or play area, but I'm looking forward to the day that I walk out the back door and see nothing but flowers. AH. I can imagine it in my mind's eye. Quiet times with God on the back patio, coffee in hand, morning glories going crazy (already growing from a friend's shared seeds on an impromptu fence we put up), water running through the jar fountain that runs there, wind chimes from the neighbor's house...

I hope that it turns into another place to practice hospitality...guys enjoying the sights as we chasing butterflies that come to visit, all of us enjoying God's creation within the confines of our yard.

Yes, I seek the garden....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Precious Intimacy with God...

After following a few of my blogs this week, and tonight's lesson at church (which was really good!), my heart is turned towards the topic of the sermon, "Intimacy With God". Do I take enough time with Him? How do I express my love for Him in my daily life? Do I celebrate enough? (have I ever even THOUGHT of celebrating my intimacy with God?). I was reminded of a favorite book, sitting on my shelf, "A Celebration of Discipline" and how I had drawn so close to God through it, and then set it off on the side...on to read other things...and to not continue in the Disciplines in the ways that I could Celebrate them...but to make them more of a ritual, a tradition, instead of something to be celebrated...

So, those are my thoughts. 

I know that time with God is like growing in our walk - there is never enough - we never "arrive" as a mature Christian - there is always farther to go, room for more, ways to change to become more like Him...and the closer I draw to His heart, the more I know this.

I love that He is patient with us! Love how He woos us to Him...gently, quietly, so when we hold a newborn, how we gently speak to them...coo in their ear...hum a favorite tune softly so they will lean in even more. 

oh, how I love to draw near to Him! Especially in the times of craziness (like lately) I am drawn to Him like a cat to a warm sunny spot on the floor, like a child's hand to the candy dish, like a bee to honey...

when I get there, snuggled in that spot, I love to rest there. Love to draw near to His chest, hear His heart beat. Hear His Word whispered in my ear...His breath warm on my cheek...

i need to spend more time in that spot...resting in His arms...learning to celebrate the disciplines of following Him...learning to celebrate Jesus. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Count down...

If you've followed me in life, you know that I'm preparing to take a trip out of the U.S. Today a friend asked me "how many more days till you leave...?" and I was speechless...I've not been counting. 

Life has been busier than normal - busier than even my "normal" September - which is pretty busy, as months go. I keep thinking that October will be a place to slow down, but it doesn't seem that way either. Oh well.

So I have a messy house. My husband and I have eaten out more than we have eaten at home (I've only cooked one time this week) and there is a variety of luggage, unpacked shopping bags, and generally STUFF scattered all over my table, my floor, my couches....  ugh. If I have a spare moment, I'm more interested in going outside in the sunshine than staying indoors and "house-blessing" things here. (I desire a clean house though...and I know that there are dust bunnies....or rather dust doggies...under those pieces of luggage all over the floor!!). It will get done. 

I've also got HOMEWORK to do; things to write as assignments, thank-you's to write to family and friends that are praying for me, and packing to do. SIGH. A LOT to do!

But I'm not counting days, and I think I'll keep my calendar set to September to keep me from doing it. 

Earlier today, I met with some newer best-buddies that help keep me accountable and see God in all things. We pray for our husbands, their jobs (they all work together) and the nuances of the industry. It's a place I can be REALLY real, warts and all. Love those ladies!!

Yesterday, I got to talk with a long-time friend, who happens to be a counselor, and we talked about how God is moving and growing us in new ways. How He grows dreams in us, and how we can choose to be used - or not - in those dreams. SO good to get wise counsel from her. 

I also got to SKYPE with a great friend who I've only spent face time with a few times in my life, but we are avid online friends - YAY God for technology!! We have shared a lot of similarities in life, and God's given us similar, complimentary, passions to serve Him with. When no one else "gets it", she does! :) 

oh, goodness....where was I going with this...???   : P   (i'm being real with you now too!!)

OH YEAH - the point was this: Sometimes we can get SO caught up in the countdown, that we miss the chance to live that day to the fullest in His will. We were talking about "saying good-bye well" - whether our kids were moving across town, enlisting in the military, or moving around the world - we can get so enslaved to the process of what I call "the last times" (this will be the last time we sit at church together, this will be our last time at Taco Bell, this was the last time we'll get to watch this movie together...etc) that we MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO ENJOY THE MOMENT WITH OUR LOVED ONES. 

So, maybe this is why I won't count days. I want to live in the moment (even if it's a scatterbrained, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, moment) and not in the "last times". I want to see Him at work, in me and around me, and be able to share the enthusiasm of the work that God's doing "there". I don't want any tears. (for some reason I'm hearing a chorus of "Don't cry for me, Argentina..." LOL). 

SO, prayers appreciated: for rest when I need rest, sleep when it's time to sleep, and periods of productivity in between!! For health of my family, "here, near, and far away" and for no surprises while I'm gone. For me to continue to walk in faith, and trust Him to fill me with a message of LIFE, and LIGHT, and HOPE to this place I'm going. For me to see with His eyes, hear with His ears, and be His hands and feet to the world. 

thanks friends...
i'll probably take a little time off for the month of October...but promise to come back with LOTS of photos, and more than a few blog posts...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Harvest time...

This past week my heart has been focused on Hosea 10:12 as God has brought me through the busiest month in my calendar year.

     "I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love.
     Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord that he 
     may come and shower righteousness upon you.’"

This has been my time of harvest! It has been busy, crazy busy, insanely busy. But in all of this, the long hours, the unexpected extra jobs that have come out of nowhere, the need to cover things where I thought I had help (but it didn't pull through) - it all worked out - and it all came together because of His desire to see it come together (not my own ability - at all!). 

In these things I will seek the Lord! Not because of the expectations of the showers of blessings, but because I want to see the harvest of love brought in!! 

Sometimes it is painful to allow our hearts to be plowed up. There can be twigs, clumps of grass, remnants of the last crop that serve as reminders of the harvest, or failed crops burned in the fields. However, He takes all that and turns it into a lovely soil...turning it over and over into our hearts...until it is fertile and ready for planting. 

This coming season, one of restoration and planning, will serve good purpose too. How lovely to plan towards the upcoming spring planting season, especially in the dead of winter cold and grey. 

It's only fall now - the labor of cutting crops, bringing them in, working as a team to prepare them for market. It requires coordination, observation, flexibility, cooperation and time to bring it all together. One person can not do it all alone, and it can't be done without God's intervention and provision.

Join in with me and celebrate the harvest! He is doing great things!! HE has overcome the enemy, the drought, the flood, the bad seed, the poor soil...and continues to enrich us to be fertile for the next planting...

Let's partner with Him, allow Him to work IN us and THROUGH us, to accomplish His will in the harvest...

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wanting Dad's approval...

Thanks Holley Gerth at {in}courage for writing about "In God's Heart, I am.... CHOSEN" this week. You can read it HERE.

I too really wanted my dad's approval growing up - isn't that normal for us to be "Daddy's girls"?? I too had to fight for attention, first from older sisters, then a younger sister, and always work. Fast forward years, my mom's death to cancer, and he's dating - so how do you compete with that??

What I found (after a long road to hoe through all the wrong ways to live) was that my heart yearned for unconditional heavenly Father's love...the ONLY love that could satisfy. Since then, I've learned that the reason I couldn't capture my daddy's heart wasn't MY problem, but his. I don't mean this to sound trite, but until I learned about sacrificial love for my Father, I had not realized how selfish human love was; even love within the family.

Fast forward to almost 30 years of marriage, and a lot of growth in my relationship with God (painful lessons, of course, but He is so faithful to bring fruit!!) and we have just read "Radical" - WOW. It is not for the faint hearted, but it really sheds light on our selfishness, how wrong teaching - even in church - makes us believe we are expecting rewards for our obedience to God's word...I'm not even doing it is so much more than that.

Now I feel as if I'm just beginning to grasp the way that I can truly love God back - in the way that honors Him and keeps me from feeding my selfish self.

SO, thanks Holley, for bringing up this topic...I can't wait to see what you fill the blank in next week!!


Friday, September 9, 2011

The latest lesson in life...

Today I had a meeting with a group of amazing (younger) women that I'll get to travel with in a few months. Each couple of weeks we get together and prepare for our journey, learn what the latest is on our arrangements, read, pray, write or discuss what's going on, and basically stay in touch. We want to make this trip it takes a little work to keep it intentional. :)

So today, in our meeting, we are asked to share what it is that God's been showing us since the last time we met 2 weeks ago. A few of the other women shared really moving-to-tears examples of how He has been revealing Himself to them, or how He was sustaining them during difficult seasons. I was in awe.

I was also dumbfounded. I mean, God shows me things daily that are really amazing - but it's fleeting - like His masterpiece in nature, or the sound of a child's laughter. So lovely.

Then I remembered a few nights ago, something really upset me. (I will interject here that I learned last night in our small group, that to be "upset" is really just saying you are ANGRY! I never knew! I am ONE ANGRY WOMAN!! LOL).  Anyways, stuff in life has just been stressful, and I'd decided to just set it all aside - that God has a plan and I'll just trust him with it. But I was so upset the other night, I just had to get out of the house and get some fresh air. (for the record, it was not anything between my husband and I). So I put Abbey the Wonderdog's leash on, grabbed a blue bag, and went for a walk. A power walk. In the cool night air!

During this time, Satan was shouting lies to me all around. I wasn't fit to go on this trip. If I was going to be THIS way now, how could I ever make this journey. These other women are WAY more spiritual and mature than I am. I knew I wanted resolution to the problem, but I had no idea what that looked like, nor what I expected as an answer. All I could do was pray the name "Jesus", over and over again. The more I spoke His name, the more He made Himself known, and the more Satan was defeated. It reminded me of the line in the song "Your Great Name" by Natalie Grant; "The enemy, he has to leave, at the sound of Your Great Name."


So it's my new armor.

I know our minds lie to us. Satan likes to lie to us in many ways...and it's always been hard for me to discern when his lies appear wrapped in self-pity or "low self esteem".  Now I have a simple tool to banish any confusion...just saying the name of Jesus. :)

Oh, how I love His HIM...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why take time with God...

I loved Faith Barista Bonnie Gray's blog today on "Five White Space Killers, What Hold You Back From Spending Time With God" . It got me thinking about being a young wife and mom, and my attitudes and opinions that formed my "quiet time" with Him.

If I have to boil it down, I think that these thoughts would be my highlights:

1. Admit you NEED time with Him! We were created to have fellowship with Him, and when we put all other things in front of our time with God, we suffer. When we admit we need that time with Him to get grounded in His Word, an attitude adjustment, or just to maintain a good relationship, then it can become a priority. If we don't have that passion to spend time with Jesus, then pray for it! I have had to pray this several times in my life, and it's a prayer that works! When we can humbly say, "Lord, I don't have the desire for You like I used to, and I invite You to change my heart, my priorities, and for You to give me a new hunger for the Bible, for prayer, for You" then He is faithful to change us. (This also is a good prayer when we find ourselves "loving our husbands, but not "IN love" with them" - He can relight that spark!!)

2. Make time with God a priority! I'm not a morning's just not in my genes! So when you take a night person and give her morning kids, there doesn't seem to be a "perfect time" to spend "quiet time" with God. Think outside the box, and be a little creative! I found out early on that my day went as good as my sleep was - so I started to take my quiet time in the evenings, when the kids were in bed, the dishes done, and I couldn't sleep anyways (because I wasn't tired, and because my morning person husband was already snoring!).  I also found out that the years that my husband was on the road, the kids would sleep better, and I would sleep better, with my heart and head full of His Word and a solid time of prayer.

3. Make time spontaneous!  Now that might sound like a contradiction, but it's not meant to be. I guess I want to encourage you to take time with God as He allows it. I wanted to be a pray-er, and wanted my kids to be too - so I often would pray (out loud with the kids, or either silent or loudly alone) as He brought things to me. For instance, if we were driving and saw an accident, we would pray out loud for the people involved. If God brought someone to mind, I would pray there and then for them. If someone asked me to pray for them, I would pray RIGHT THEN for them, with them, even on the phone (or online!). I think that it helps us to develop a prayerful posture when it's the FIRST thing we think of. Stop wondering (or worrying) about things, people, circumstances, and PRAY for them!

Also keep your heart and mind open to take time with God. When I was a baby Christian, I had a tiny NT and Psalms Bible that I carried with me all the time. As I learned worship songs, I would highlight the scriptures that inspired them in that Bible. Often times I would read my Bible as I was waiting for the bus (God removed my car from my life to draw me closer to Him, and not allow me to be distracted by my sinful past). This often led to a spontaneous time of worship, as I focused on the scripture in song that was inspired by Him. NOW we have Bible apps on our phones/notebooks and can read, sing, or listen to  inspiring messages all the time! When we have that spare moment, how will you use it?

4. Everything is Spiritual, so give God praise! Develop a way to be in constant communication with Him! Take time to praise Him for the little things...the breeze on a hot morning, a friend's phone call, a favorite song on the radio (and don't forget to pray for that artists' walk with God to be with integrity and passion!!). We have opportunities to pray CONSTANTLY. Whatever we put IN us is what will go out of us...if it's worry, discontent, anger, gossip and junk tv...well...we're not going to be as fruitful as He can make us.

5. Ask God to equip us, and equip our spouse. Divorce happens all around us. I love my husband, Mark, a LOT. I'm in love with him too, and praise God for Mark being in my life. But Mark can NOT meet my needs. It's true. But God can use Mark to meet my needs. I don't ask for specifics - but DO ask God to equip Mark to meet my needs...and ask God to equip me to meet Mark's needs. I don't know what that will entail from day to day, but I know God knows, and I trust Him to give me what that will take!

6. FORGIVE. Unforgiveness (or bitterness) can build a wall between us and God. We also have a saying that we live by in our marriage, "A happy marriage the union of two good forgivers!". It's true. We're going to disappoint each other, hurt feelings, do things wrong and make wrong choices...we are both human, and made with a sinful, selfish, nature! If we can allow ourselves to forgive (before even hearing an apology) we can keep it in perspective. God's forgiven me for so much, and I because of that, I know that I can forgive Mark. Grace is a beautiful gift! Mercy undeserved is a lovely fragrance to spread around our home!!

I am aware that sometimes forgiving is not between us and a spouse, but another family member or friend, or even a challenging circumstance. If we can forgive, we should. If we can't, I'm a firm believer in seeking Christian Counseling to help resolve the issue. Sometimes forgiving is not forgetting (forgive and forget is not something WE can do!) but forgiving and setting healthy boundaries to protect us, especially in abusive situations. Abuse is not just physical, sexual, or emotional; sometimes it's being manipulated in other ways. Forgiveness is always fruitful.

7. If you fall off the bicycle, get back on it! If you miss a day, or a week, month, or year - I promise, God misses you!! He will be happy to hear from you, no matter how much time has passed. I think we all have friendships like that matter how much time has passed, we pick it up like we saw each other yesterday... and that's how it is with God. He LOVES to spend time with us...take time to be with Him.

OK, I think I've gone on long enough...well, ok - just one more thing that deserves mentioning but I won't expand on - if you have problems in your life, take time to help someone who has it worse than you. It might mean helping at a shelter, or your next door neighbor - but it always helps to take our eyes off of us and put them back on Him. Pray for them, and don't be a "me monster" ("woe is me, I have it so bad, i need...." - I think you get the picture.).

Now get off this computer and go spend some time with Jesus!!

Grace and peace,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

No Dog Days of Summer here...

Memories of the end of summer always made me think of boredom. Oh, some may say it's relaxing, those few weeks that are too hot to really enjoy being outside, where the grass turns brown and flowers fade and trees threaten to lose their leaves without turning into the loveliness of autumn...but for me it was the boredom of a neighborhood of kids, all WAITING for school to start....or my own kids, breaking into their new homeschool books for those 8 years we homeschooled...begging me  "PLEASE....DON'T MAKE ME WAIT UNTIL AFTER LABOR DAY...." or Jason heading off to soccer camp, football camp, and finishing up baseball (ugh - SUCH a long season!!) and the girls heading back to college...sigh. Ok, some memories are bittersweet.

My grown up life is much different for me. A sister scheduled a family reunion at her home in Hot Springs, AR (appropriately named, for late July), and since I got home from that event, I've hardly had time to sit down.

I have a hard time with this time of year, daylight decreases, and while I'm beckoned to sit in the sun and soak it in, my common sense tells me to forgo the tanning and just enjoy it from inside the coolness of our small air conditioned house (MUCH cooler, thanks to hubby who changed out all the dust filled filters!!). I mosey on out in the cool of the morning and enjoy my morning glories that have made themselves at home along my fence railing....or skittle out in the afternoon shadows to water and pull weeds while Abbey runs rampant around the neighborhood (and yes, I follow up after her with a bag blowing in the breeze...). Ahhh...summer...sigh...will soon be over.

I'm sort of caught off guard with the schools here in our part of KY going back to school in early August! There is something that I remember about the first day of school...dew on the grass, and a certain feeling in the morning air. I haven't experienced it, but yet the kids are loading on the morning busses and my neighborhood is quiet till they bound off of it in the afternoon heat...having been restrained for too long in quiet classrooms and hot bus seats. The heat of the day doesn't bother them a bit, glad to be free, they scooter around and yell up and down the street, asking where Abbey is (my dog, watching safely from behind the storm door).

We have a houseguest right now...sort of a son, someone my husband has shared life with for a number of years (and more prayers than that) came to live with us about a month ago. Steve arrived with a girlfriend and a dog - we were not fully aware of until they were on their way (and the dog, not until they arrived!). They came the day I left for my reunion trip, and had a week of bliss with an empty house and meals eating out with Mark in the cool of evening. Then I came home and ruined it all! LOL. I think it was a shock for his young girlfriend, and at one time Mark heard her on the phone say "You don't understand...I'm STUCK here!!".  She lasted a week with me home, leaving not so much because I was home, or because we broke her bubble with the reality that she needed to be checking in with her P.O., but more because she missed her kids (she has 2 young ones...which still baffles me, seeing she spent the last 7 years in jail...). I can understand that, missing kids, but can only imagine her complaining now at how "stuck" she REALLY is. She wants Steve to have a house, for her to fill it, but it's going to be a little while before he has his life in order to support them, and in his words "she doesn't know the value of a dollar" - so when her PO suggested that she get a job and work to support herself to show her maturity and ability to move on (wanting to transfer to KY), she had nothing to do but call and complain to Steve. :(

Our prayer continues to be that God will work in her heart, and life, and that God will do whatever HE sees fit to do to bring her to a place of repentance and a willingness to live under HIS authority. Right now, both are foreign words to her.

Steve, on the other hand, arrived with a heart and head READY for change. He kept saying that he needed a new start, a fresh beginning, and recognized that everyone he thought was a friend was not, and that he needed to "surround myself with people like you..." (meaning Christians, but not knowing how to word that then). He was caught in between the rock and hard place while his gf was here, and felt relief when she left (by bus - since no one was willing to come and get her - and just in time to appear at her court dates). They talk daily, and Steve longs for her companionship (although she is still legally married to another man, the father of her kids). But Steve longs for God more...and that's what I keep praying for!!

What is it, that takes a broken soul and restores it to a newness of life that it's never known before? As we all sat in our small group last night, Steve recounted how thankful he was that everyone from our group was there last weekend at his special. He has a long way to go, on this journey with God, and I trust Him to fill his heart with new loves, for God, for the ones He seeks to save (yes, even the gf), for the global lost. I expect Steve to learn more about God, the Bible, and creating a HIStory of Steve's past, riddled with jail time and running from the law and how he was tired of running - so he ran right into God's arms. Peace. HIStory will be made, and continue to be written, and told for generations to come.

In the meanwhile, I'm at home...running from event to event (church meetings, mission team formations, church events, a leadership conference, small group retreat, Bible study, and hanging out with my own girls that bring joy to my life), and take lots of time in prayer (for my kids, grandkids, extended family, people battling for their lives with cancer, people battling for their souls from sin, people living and working in other parts of the world, and people looking for work...). I haven't read much non-Bible reading lately, but hope to...seeking to find a sunny window before too long, wanting to get caught up in my bookshelf of good stuff to read. Romans FILLED me with joy and new life, and I admit, I was a bit sad to have moved along to 1 Corinthians, although I trust God has words for my own heart there too.

I'm setting goals, things I MUST do, things I WANT to do, things I SHOULD do...and perhaps they are, in fact, just one list. I hope to reason myself into the idea that there is no reason for me to have a craft room...and hope that by selling most of my items there I can raise some money for an upcoming m trip. It would also allow us to move the bunk beds back into the house (from the garage) and allow room for at least 2 more people to stay, should the need arise. I want to be available for God to use our home as He wills...a place of refuge.

REFUGE! That's another new thing on my calendar...each Monday night as we pray for people working around the world, and people that need the gospel and love of Jesus to soothe their souls. Part prayer, part worship, part eating with fellow sinners (some redeemed) as we meet as community to break into smaller groups of Bible study, prayer, recovery, restoration. I'm thankful for this Crossroads' ministry.

OH, OK...I've rambled on long enough. My bottom's sore from this kitchen chair (yes, I really AM at the kitchen table today!) and I've got random acts of housework to do today. Thanks for reading this far... leave a note if you'd like - and prayers are appreciated!!

Until the whole world hears...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Memory Making Days...

We took a week's vacation last week and made the drive to see our grandgirls. Usually we go to just play with them and hang out with our daughter and son in law, but this time we went because they needed our help watching them as they worked a week of Jr High church camp!

We arrived late, were tired beyond imagination - sleeping in a tent, on an air mattress, and although it was warm/hot during the days - we had a night in the 40's - not ideal for sleeping in my book (though I prefer cool to being too hot at night).

We managed 2 days of taking the girls off campus during the day, discovering every playground within a 30 mile radius. We even went to an aquatic park to let them play in the water in the heat of the day. The lack of sleep was wearing us out quickly though, so we ended up running the girls home for the last few days of camp and getting more sleep there.

The end of camp brought mom and dad home too, and we were able to assist with them getting unpacked and settling in back at home. The kids were SO glad to see mom and dad - but sadly it brought more demands on mom and dad - how do kids know how to read their parents when they are tired?? It was all good memories though, and we enjoyed a few fun days all together at the house. Friday night we celebrated my youngest granddaughter's first birthday! FUN!! It was fun to see her taste, then devour, her own birthday cake. She did great!!

That next morning we headed out, taking the scenic route home (a few hours longer on the road), and enjoying every turn as we drove along a river's edge. We hit Louisville at dusk, and decided to try to get dinner at one of our favorite restaurants that is on the waterfront. After a 20 minute wait, we were seated at a table that faced the river, the bridges that cross it, and a BEAUTIFUL sunset! It was a great way to end a great week together!

A few more hours on the road, and we were home - exhausted still - but able to sleep in our own beds, our hearts and minds full of fun faces and happy memories. I miss those little girls, even their temperamental moments, and especially the silliness that they bring.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I am a grouchy toddler at heart...

Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week, I went to Emerald Hills to cook for a group of people who were taking the Kairos course - and the folks who were facilitating it. I only had 2 meals to cook, 2 lunches, and I was able to prepare most of the ingredients before coming out - over the weekend.

I've cooked for much larger groups in my life - there were only 35 people or so - and I've cooked up to 350 at a kids camp in the past! I knew that I had a handle on the preparation, and felt comfortable in the kitchen even if it was my first time there. It was a friendly place and people were so appreciative! All in all the experience was great.

But when it was all said and done, I was POOPED! I felt that I rested well before coming out (although the previous 2 weekends were REALLY crazy busy, so I was running on reserves before ever making the 2+ hour drive out there). And really, I had forgotten how hard cleaning up was!! That sounds funny, but I had always had a team of people, and always including guys, to help with scrubbing pots and washing dishes. That's what really wore me out.

At the end of day 1 I was tired. At the end of day 2 I was EXHAUSTED. I felt emotional, upset, angry, tired, name it. I felt like I was 2 years old, and no one could fix it. I made it home ok, and walked in the door, unloaded the car and started putting things away. It was all I could do to keep moving in forward motion....I couldn't lay down since we had Bible study in just an hour. When my husband came home from work, he kept asking me if I was mad at him, or mad at someone else, or if anything bad happened. Nope. Nope.  Nope. Just needed to work it out, get through it all. I'd be ok if I could just make it to the morning with a goodnight's sleep...I was really loopy.

To top it off, I had been praying for clarity on an upcoming trip with church to bless some of our workers in the field. Being this tired made me say "no" to everything. Let me rephrase this....I was saying "NO!!" to everything, like a 2 year old. Looking at this trip, if I should go, could go, if I could be a blessing to serve others there - all I saw was "NO!!" on my wall. I was physically weak, worn out - how could I survive traveling to the other side of the world and have a short period of a few days to rebound, be fruitful, and leave a wake of blessings behind me on a whirlwind trip. I played the game of "if You want me to go God, then the next song on the radio will be about missions"  - but it never was, and I became even more emotional over the prospect of the answer being "no" and that He didn't want me to go on this trip, yet all I heard as reasons for me not going were based on my own weakness and superstitions. I never heard His voice say "NO",  I only heard my own toddler voice echoing inside my brain.

Bible study went well, finishing up Ephesians 1, and my heart quickened at the thought of us having access to the power of Jesus' resurrection; how few times I have asked for that power...or have heard others ask for it. I needed resurrecting from these tired bones.

I made it to sleep easily, but I woke up and felt that same burden of "NO" on my shoulders. OK God...You can make this work. You can take these feelings of oppression away. You can restore me and give me clarity of mind....You can resurrect these old bones. I broke open my cell phone and started to do my devotion...Acts 2..powerful words to the church. I still felt no peace, and no resolution to my toddler "NO" inside, especially on the trip topic.

Then, I gave up and went to facebook - thinking I'd catch up on friend's joy and allow it to morph my negativity into kindness and joy. Little did I know! The first post I read was from my friend Linda, and it read: "saying yes— to whatever God has called us to do—is always the right choice. - “Simple obedience stamped with God’s anointing will do far more than you can imagine”." - Dan Price" (from his study on Job). WOW. I can take this word and focus on it, applying it to my life in many areas. I can meditate on it and see if it's God speaking to me, or me just applying good advice to a difficult circumstance and decision.

Then I got an email, a newsletter update from the Kairos people with Team Expansion, updating all of the facilitators with how God is using Kairos around the world. This time - the first time I'd noticed in several months of being on this mailing list - they gave these accounts of Kairos in other countries. There was an incredible poem too, one that was written by a Kairos participant (anonymous) that just moved my heart so beautifully...

Show me Your Glory Today Lord

If You do not go with me,
I do not want to go
But if You do not take me to the nations
Take me to heaven now
I beg You

I would rather go into Your presence TODAY
With a burning heart
Than years from now
With a luke warm one

I am in desperate need of a radical gift of grace
To save me from this suffocating culture
I don’t want to live shopping trip to shopping trip
I want to live fishing trip to fishing trip
Fishing for men with You in my boat.

I am not afraid to die for You TODAY
With the gospel on my lips
But I am afraid to waste away
Falling asleep to the world’s lullaby
Please don’t let the church sing me to sleep

Take me to the nations Lord
Show me Your glory today
I would rather join those in heaven who see You and know Your worth
Then allow one more day to slip by me on earth
Poisoned by pride and play

I do not want to be found
On a yacht
While the world is sinking
In a fine restaurant
While the world is starving
With a closet of fine clothes
While so many still naked
Caring more for my lawn
Than for souls

Please Lord I pray
Show me Your glory
Take me to the Nations
Or take me home to heaven today

So, heart broken open, mind clear and awake, realizing the negative effects of my tiredness on my decision making, I sought the Lord, and clearly heard "YES".  So, yes - I will go. Willing heart, open to being grown in new ways, to be stretched in faith and draw closer to Him. To serve others, with His strength, calling on His power of the resurrection to bless those that share the gospel in far away places.

I know that work on my side is just pray, and recruit others to come alongside me to pray for our team; to ask for others to come alongside me in prayer and support me financially on this trip; and for God to pull all the details together for the trip itself this fall. But I know, that saying yes was the hardest thing that I had to do, and now it's all in His hands!! I don't have to "worry" about these things, knowing that He will provide, prayerfully and financially, and that He will schedule flights, events in the area, provide places for us to stay, others to work with, others to travel with us, and bless each of us while we go to bless others - as we all say "yes" to Him and allow Him to anoint the work of His hands...

Caregiver Series

 If you are a Caregiver, or know a Caregiver, you will want to check out the Prayers and Promises for Caregivers over at ...