Today is a new day...

Chicken Little says it on the movie, and it just popped in my head as I am reflecting on the past 24 hours. I watched the election coverage last night, and stayed up to see McCain's speech and Obama's speech as well. I admire both candidates, because they are both very good men. I am thankful that Obama won, and voted for him. Many of my family and friends supported McCain, which I respect. There are reasons to support either candidate, but I chose Obama because I believe in his ideas for change and I didn't see enough evidence in McCain's ideas that prove he could pull it off. Regardless of who everyone votes for, we are all going to agree to disagree on something and ultimately we cannot agree on everything. Our new President is just as human as the rest of us, and whether we agree with him or not God and the Scriptures calls us to support our leaders. I am more committed than ever to pray for, support, and let my voice be heard by our country's leadership. Without making our views known on every issue, we cannot expect change to occur. Change is not an idea that belongs absolutely to one political party or another, just as Truth does not belong absolutely to one political party or another. We have a responsibility to our God, our nation and to ourselves to support ideas that are truthful and beneficial to us all. So, today is a new day! I will put one foot in front of the other with hope, faith and confidence knowing God has a plan and what unfolds will be exactly what He intended.
I really can't believe how many things there are to do on the web. I just got into facebook a couple weeks ago, so now I have just way too much to keep up with. Last night was great study/meeting with my group, but it was hard. I know we have been challenged everyday in the study of Paul, but I also know it is so good. I need to be more consistent in my study of the Word, because I feel like I don't know enough. It is a constant challenge, so I am working on it. I have been feeling so out of whack with how full our schedule is, not eating right and not getting enough exercise. Bailey's last game is Saturday so that will open up some time for me to get back to some form of regular exercise. I can't believe we are half way through October. Halloween will be fun this year, we are doing a family theme. The kids love the cartoon "Chowder" so we are all dressing up in character. I am making most of the costumes, but don't be fooled--it is very simple stuff, some borrowed stuff that I am piecing together. I can't wait to take some pictures of us all, will post them. I love fall, the changing colors of the trees, the warm smells of fresh bread and sweet rolls, a hot cup of cider while curled up under a quilt with a good book, and making piles of leaves to jump into in the yard. I am amazed at God's creation, reflections of Him in nature. I am thankful I can't figure all that out, that most of it is a mystery, something just to gaze upon and be wowed. I don't want to lose sight of that appreciation for the little things, the brief moments in time when we really should stop and ponder His goodness, slow down, no more rushing around. Isn't God good?
I realize by now I should be a 'seasoned' blogger but really I am lucky to get to it once a week. My schedule, my life is one big crazy thing right now. We have so much going on between work, church, school, sports and extracurricular stuff. I am enjoying my Bible study group so much, and the study has been so great for my walk with Christ. We are studying Paul and his life, his ministry. It is amazing to read again about how he endured, all he gave up and all he accomplished for the Kingdom. I hope someday my kids will say some good things about my influence, not that I was just a nagging mom who was always on them about doing this or that. I am seeing some evidence of that as my two older children have come to know Christ personally. My daughter Rylee is going to be baptized this week, thank you Lord! She has considered this decision very carefully for awhile now, I have seen in her the struggle. As we have prayed for her, I know the Holy Spirit has been working on her for a long time. Someday AJ will come to that same point in his life, and we will keep praying for that as he grows and learns. I am so thankful for how the Lord works in his own time, on His own perfect time table. I am very tired today, we had so much fun last weekend with the Popcorn Festival and good worship at church. I can't believe it's October already! Time flies by even faster when you have a full schedule. I love the fall, the cool, crisp mornings and the weather changing, leaves changing. It is cool to see God's creation move with the seasons. God is good, all the time, in all things and through all things. What an awesome God we serve.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says to Trust the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not on our own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight.

It is Scripture I have known since I was a child and so hard for me to grasp at times. I like control, I like feeling like I have control of my life. Here's the kicker: I don't. That is hard for me to swallow most of the time. I have literally shouted through my tears at God because deep down, I am so frustrated with not having control. It makes me angry, and it makes me feel so helpless at the same time. After getting it out of my system, letting it go and acknowledging His presence I know peace that cannot be explained. It hushes my soul, gives me comfort, somehow provides strength beyond any human explanation. Why is that? Because He is God. I am astounded by His provision: last night was no exception. I am hosting a study group in my home and we have 20 women including myself. God is amazing in His provision! I watched these precious women rally around one of our sweet sisters in her time of need--God is so good. I love seeing Him work through the lives of others to encourage and lift up someone who is hurting so deeply. I was so inspired by the demonstration of faith in these women, the prayers, the personal testimonies lended to her based on their own experiences with similar struggles and ultimately how God has worked and restored. God desires to be trusted with everything in our lives, after all He is the Provider of all things. How often do we find ourselves struggling to trust God because the reality is we are holding on so tightly to the life we think we own? We have been bought by the blood of Jesus, and we have to daily fall before the throne in recognition of how weak and helpless we truly are. God wants our very lives, because He loves us so deeply. When I reach the point of complete brokenness, I realize all that matters is that He is God, He will take care of me, and He longs to be Lord of my life. I cannot think of a greater truth to embrace.
It feels like a Monday, but it is Tuesday. That can be good and bad. Good, cause short work week. Bad, cause more work to do in a shorter amount of time. The pace is picking up now that school has begun. We had a great weekend, just went by too fast. I am looking forward to so many things coming up this month and next. It will be a jam packed schedule but so many great things going on. We start a new small group study Sunday, "The Truth Project" which looks so good! I know it will be so enlightening, so relevant, and so convicting for us as a church and as a community. Next Monday my women's study starts and I have a solid dozen or so women coming--yeah God! I am so excited to see what God has in store for this group. Bailey's football games start this weekend--go, Bubba, go! Rylee's youth group schedule starts Sunday and whether she likes it or not, she's going to get involved. It will be a bit daunting at first, we've already had a couple heated conversations about what she does and does not want to do. Not much choice though given it will be that or sitting with the adults in the Truth Project. I think I know what she'll choose. It is a tough time for her at this age, but also there are few girls in her age group just entering the youth group at our church. I know it will be hard for her, but I am praying she finds her way, makes her mark, discovers some wonderful things about herself and what God has in store for her. Bailey's birthday is coming up and he wants to have a boys sleepover so I'll be planning for that very soon. So much going on, so little time to get it all done, get prepared. Thanks, God, for all the opportunities. I hope we are ready for what you have to show us! I know it is all good.
Monday seems to be the day of the week I am blogging lately. I can't believe how fast the week goes, but it is no wonder with our schedule. Bad air quality for a few days has left me feeling icky-allergies and just sluggish. I wanted to roll over and just stay asleep for a couple more hours this morning. Worship yesterday was sweet, a reminder of God's identity. Society has decided that any god is okay because as long as you are a good person, show kindness, focus on improving yourself and do good things then ultimately every path leads to a rewarding eternity. Some call it "the Light", an inner peace, finding your true self, or any number of idols like Buddha. Whatever the religion, it seems the world thinks you can pick and choose what you like about a religion, mix it together to make your own belief system. The truth is that there is only one, and that is God. He has not changed from one generation to the next: He is the same yesterday, today and forever. That is awesome certainty for us all. I am thankful for that truth, and whether the world likes it or accepts it is irrelevant. At some point the Holy Spirit will convince the hearts of those who are willing to hear and desire to believe after we have had the opportunity to plant the seeds of the gospel. My words, my actions, my existence is for one purpose: to worship God and be an example to others of what true salvation is. I have to daily humble myself, and a lot of times I just don't feel like it. When I am able to tear away the pride, selfish agenda, and complacency I know God can use me and will use me for His glory.
It's Monday yet again. I was out sick several days last week and so now I return to the unending catch up work. Uggh. Mondays can be tough as it is, but it seems harder given my circumstances. I am still getting over this crud and not in the best of moods, people are being demanding and impatient as usual in my line of work, so stress levels are high today. I can't wait for 4:30 to come. Fall is arriving whether we are ready for it or not. School, new schedules, new events, busy, busy, busy....I am too tired for this. I wish summer lasted longer than it has. My daughter, Rylee, started middle school last week--yikes! She is adjusting pretty well, but I know there will be more hurdles to come. Bailey is in second grade and so far, so good. He started football--oh yeah! That's my boy. He is loving it, although he's finding even the fun of football includes some hard work. AJ, my sweet youngest is rolling right along and I am missing being at home with him. Ryan and I are working on this debt thing, gotta get it done. At some point some relief will come I am sure, but for a little while we'll be noses to the grindstone. Each day I start my prayer with thanks for the little things, thanks for one more day, thanks for being...just being who You are God. Some days that's all I need to get me through.
For you know when your faith is tested, endurance has a chance to grow.
James 1:3
I read this in my quiet time today and thought about something in my devotion for the longest time. Rather than wait impatiently, gnawing at our fingers and wondering if God is really going to come through...we should be expectant. Are we? Am I? Honestly, 90% of the time I worry too much. It is something I have struggled with for years, to the point at times I have lost sleep, lost my appetite, lost touch with reality and slipped into a state of mental fog. There have been moments in our marriage Ryan has even told me about these "episodes" I have had that truly scared him. I have learned in recent years it could be a form of depression I am dealing with. The anxieties of this life should not be a surprise, yet every time something doesn't go the way we hoped and expected, we freak out. Most of us would say we can account for this reaction because it is simply our human nature. But what about those of us who are Christ-followers? Shouldn't we behave differently? I think I am learning as time goes by to deal with anxiety better than I did five, even ten years ago. Life experience, but more than that faith in the provision of the Lord has done that for me. How better can we learn from life, than to have our faith as a cushion? I make it my goal daily when I have my morning conversation with God to be mindful of His presence, thankful for His provision, and to live a life that reflects Him. I am not done growing by any means, and it is sad to say this but many Christians become so content, even cocky in their faith. None of us should claim we are done yet, because after all God is not done with us yet. Each day of life He gives us is evidence of that.
My week is nearly over thanks to flex schedule. I will miss having an extra day off, but I won't miss the longer days. I am looking forward to getting back to the traditional schedule next week. I can't believe July is almost gone...where did it go? Where did the summer go? It is just too short, too quick. Summer was so much longer when I was a kid. It has been fun, but school is approaching already. So much to do, and the daily schedule is about to become even more hectic than it already is. Rylee starts middle school, Bailey will be second grade and AJ is the big 3. I read about Paul last night in my quiet time, and specifically when he spoke in a town where he could only stay the night then head off the next day. He spoke for hours, til late at night and it apparently wore a guy out...in fact, he fell asleep and fell out a window! God gave Paul the ability to heal him and bring him back to life, what a miracle. It is cool to read about what God did through Paul. What an amazing life, the transformation he went through to be used by God. I am sure in his day to day life, as he went from one place to another he was not overwhelmed by a crazy hectic schedule like I am?! I guess it comes down to realizing that it is not our agenda we need to be living by, it is God's. I was reminded last week while visiting my family, by my Mom, that it is so important to slow down and appreciate the time we have right now. I don't want to get in a place where I feel the need to have my hands in every pot that is out there--the sports pot, the various ministry pots, committee pots, etc. There is a pot out there for everything and a lot of us tend to guilt one another into feeling like we need to be doing so much more than we already are. Balance is key, so let's find it. There's no telling what we could miss.
It's a Monday, and it really was a pretty good day. I felt a little draggy today though, wishing I had one more day to enjoy before the work week started. I haven't had my quiet time yet, so I am certain God has something very cool to tell me tonight. It is a bit more quiet than normal around our house right now cause we are without two children. Having one child around is strange, but it is a nice break from all the noise, chaos, whining, bickering, etc. Rylee and Bailey are with my parent for a week and we'll join them later this week for a mini vacation. I am so ready. It ain't much, but it is what we can do this summer given the cost of fuel and food. I don't know how we make it each week. We are trying to tackle our debt, so our budget is going to be extremely tight for the next couple years. We need to do it, and we'll be so much better off in the long run because of it. I keep thinking God has a plan beyond these circumstances, and this will pass. Sometime the weight of it gets to me, but I know that's that ugly dude Satan trying to get the best of me. I won't cave, I will push on and I am determined to get on the other side of it. Freedom awaits, and we will rejoice in spite of our struggles. I know it is what God wants for us.
I was just thinking about how people have way too much to complain about and not enough to rejoice about. Actually, people are choosing to complain about stuff rather than choosing to rejoice! It's all in the choosing, isn't it? Yesterday I was talking with a coworker about how the past couple days in our office we have received more complaints from people calling from other departments. When she commented to one caller in particular about putting themselves in our place regarding the issue, she paused and said she hadn't thought about it that way. That seemed to shut her up. Well, what it will do to a person's attitude when they are asked to put someone else first. We don't do that often enough. Why not? It should start in the first moment of our day: How does it begin for you? Before I speak to a single person or arrive at work, every morning I have a conversation with God. It may not always be that interesting, or that long but I take time to do it because it gets me focused and starting my day on the right foot. I know a lot of us rush through our day, our week, whatever our schedule holds seems to take us away. The reality is, we have no control over our day: it is all God. If we would choose to acknowledge that, what a difference it would make in our attitude. It is a choice, and we must make it daily.
July has arrived, and although we are in the middle of summer school seems to be just around the corner for the kids. August 11 is Rylee's first day, they call it "Step Up" Day Camp. It is what the middle school does to give the kids a run through of what their day will be like. We'll get her locker, her pe uniform, schedule, supplies, etc. and she will be set to go first day, August 13. It just ain't right for school to start so early and summer to end so quickly. Today's a kind of blah day for me, headache and asthma troubles. Weather has a lot to do with it I'm afraid. We've got storms coming in, rainy couple days lately. I have gotten back on the "better lifestyle" wagon yet again. I am such a yo-yo. Deep down I really hate eating right and exercising and would love to be able to do what I want and eat what I want. Don't we all?! Well, reality is hitting me in the waistline and I don't like it when my clothes start feeling snug and I feel like a slug. Bottom line, I need to shape up so I'll be healthier and so I'll be around a lot longer. I was reminded in my quiet time last night that God has provided abundantly for us, and He desires for us to fill our bodies and our souls to be the vessel He needs us to be. I can't be the vessel He needs me to be if I am not at my best physically and spiritually. I am prayerfully considering facilitating a women's study this fall at my house. I just haven't decided which one to do. I need to do an informal poll to see who would commit first. Lunch time is ending, duty calls so it's back to the grind for me.
Man, I can't believe how fast my days go by. Last night a took a little extra time to love on my children, just not enough time in my day to enjoy with them. Ryan is learning very quickly just how much more he has to help me out at home since I've gone back to work full time. My days are longer this summer since we are doing a four day work week. Yes, I get a day off, but the other four days I am working 9-9.5 hour days. This week is is closer to ten hours since we are wrapping up the university's year end. So much to do, not enough time to do it all, something or several something's come up everyday that seem to get us a bit behind, and well, my stress level has gone up several notches. My favorite time of the day is on the way to work in the morning. As the sun is coming up, it is all quiet in the car, and I lift a prayer to God for my day. It gets me started, keeps me centered, and helps me prepare for whatever may lie ahead in my day. That doesn't mean I won't have any surprises, but it helps me have the strength to deal with it better than if I'd rushed into my day instead. So, with that I focus on the blessings in my life. There is so much to be thankful for, and there is always a reason to give God praise. Blessed be the name of the Lord...I love that song by Matt Redman. No matter what, I will choose to praise Him cause He's got it all under control and He has a plan for me.
I can't believe how long it has been since my last entry. Well, let's face it--life happens, too much to do and not enough time to do it all in. Summer is definitely here but it seems to get shorter every year. We got some fun water stuff for the kids to do at home. We got a slip n slide and an inflatable activity pool. The kids have had a blast and I am just exhausted every time we do it. Kids get to play, Mom gets to do all the work required to make the play happen! So we are doing a flex schedule for the summer at work, which means four day work week but longer work days. I haven't decided yet if I like it. I am tired from the adjustment to working full time, but this just makes me more tired. So, once again I am faced with the reality that I need to find some sense of balance in a lot of areas of my life. It seems to be a life long battle.
Today I am going for a health assessment which is a free service to ISU employees. It is the first I've had in years so I am a little anxious about what my results may be. I know I have some weight to lose, but in the back of my mind are concerns with health risks on both sides of my family. I know I shouldn't worry, but I do. Isn't that human? It can't just be me cause I know plenty of people worry. I suppose I take it to a higher level at times which I am certain Ryan would confirm. Anxiety is something we all need to let go of more often. I see anxious tendencies in my daughter, and I know she comes by it naturally due to both parents' personalities. We are approaching teen years with her so I wonder what kind of teen she will be. She already is showing that she favors her Dad's personality much stronger than mine. As another year passes for her, I pray with greater concern that she finds salvation. My son Bailey is a completely different personality, very outgoing and a greater risk taker. He accepted Christ at 5 much to our surprise. We were amazed at his certainty at such a young age. He was full of questions one day in the car, and prayed many times as if he wanted to make sure he'd really done it. It was precious! I know it will be different with Rylee, still I wonder and wait a bit too anxiously. We've talked, we've prayed and I know she understands what the decision means and how wonderful it is. It's time for me to let go and let God. I know it's between Him and her now...but it is hard to wait.
At some point I realize this blog thing should be a habit for me, but it has just become another thing for me to check off of my 'to do list'. Working full time in addition to being a mother of three, wife, homemaker, etc., all makes for a rather impossible schedule for me. I don't know how I get anything accomplished. It has always been a day to day thing for me. All is right in my little world if I can just check off what I intended to accomplish for the day. If I don't get it all done, it very naturally spills over to the next day's list. As I age, I hope I am becoming a bit more relaxed although I have the feeling Ryan would protest. I am quite certain he would have a good laugh at that too. Anyway, I cannot believe my grandmother is gone. She passed just two weeks ago today. It doesn't seem real to me. It feels as if I need to call her, check on her, just let her know I love her and I am thinking about her. My heart aches to think about her most times, and I am having a lot of weepy moments. I just miss her sweet presence, the sound of her voice, her encouraging and loving words, the sparkle in her eyes, her infectious laugh, I could go on and on. I just miss her and a lot of the time I feel so cheated to not have more time with her as I'd hoped. I am sure my Dad feels the same, although I think he has dealt with some anger too. I think I'd be angry with God at first too, for just not letting her live a little longer. How selfish is that of us? After all, He knows best especially since He's the one who created us. Loneliness makes us more selfish than we realize we truly are. Somehow at the end of the day, after I have had my human moment, had a chance to purge my heart and mind, I think God just sweeps over me with His perfect peace. Thanks Lord! It's cool how He does that.
I can't believe how long it has been since my last blog entry. Since I last wrote, I have been to Missouri and back. My parents flew me back last weekend to spend some last moments with my grandmother as she settled at home. We knew she only had a few days to live once they discharged her from the hospital and the doctors had made their final diagnosis. Pancreatic cancer is one of the, if not THE most fatal type of cancer. By the time her bloodwork came back her liver was taken over by it. Over the weekend we watched her grow weaker but somehow she gathered the strength to visit with each of us about some of our favorite memories together over the years. I am thankful for the time we had, and will cherish my memories with her for many years. She went home to be with the Lord Tuesday morning. I am amazed and at peace to know she is with the Father now. It must be wonderful, so incredible to spend all of eternity in His presence. We can only imagine, but the reality of it is hers now. We will gather with family next week for a memorial service in her honor Friday, May 9. Although the pain and grief of her loss will be with me from time to time, the peace of knowing she is with the Lord is so much stronger.
Last night I got some unexpected news from my Mom. She called to tell me that my grandmother was taken to the ER over the weekend and they have found she has cancer in her pancreas and liver. More tests are to be done to determine how bad it is and how much time she has, but there it is. She's not been well for a couple months now, fighting a respiratory crud of some kind. We just had a great visit with the whole family last month in Missouri as we gathered for a memorial service for my grandfather. Sine his passing in January, I know she has been grieving, strugglng to get through the sadness. At the same time she is an incredible Christian woman who loved him dearly and knows he is in a better place. I know that is some comfort to her. My folks rushed back since they were gone when it happened, but thankfully my brother was there to get her to the hospital. She is a strong, wonderful woman whom I have looked up to all my life. I cannot imagine her not being here. I am very thankful for her legacy, her example of faith, endurance and determination to make the most of every moment of life. I am so devastated by this news, and of course my Dad is just absolutely jolted by it. I cannot imagine what he must be experiencing already having lost one parent then to find out the other is seriously ill all in such a short period of time. As we wait and pray, I am reminded how brief our lives truly are and how important it is to make the most and the best of every moment we have on this earth. I am looking forward to telling her how much I love her, admire her, and that I am not ready to let her go. But I know she is okay with it all cause she has had such a great life. I am so thankful for her. I hope I have the same lasting impact on my children and someday, grandchildren.
Today I experienced something new. While in the shower, about 5:30 am this morning, we experienced an earthquake. Yes you read it right--an earthquake in Indiana! The news reports stated everyone from the states of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky felt it. Something like 5.4? Nothing for those Californians but a wowzer for us! About 11:40 we had an after shock. I was standing sorting mail in the office and a lady across from me said, "Did you feel that?" and several of us said, "Oh yeah!" Is that crazy or what? Well it will be a memorable day for me and I couldn't resist posting something about it on my blog. I was so tired last night, another whirlwind day. I had a sleepy quiet time and this morning was refreshed by my time in prayer on the way to work. I don't want to miss a single day of my morning prayer time as I drive to work. It keeps me grounded, humbled and very thankful. It also keeps me aware of those around me and prepares my mind and heart for the day ahead. I always feel a little bit more focused by doing this. Prayer is our opportunity for open communication with God and it should be without ceasing. I find as I get older I am having more open communication throughout the day with God. I think it is the way he truly intends for prayer to be. It doesn't have to be some fancy ceremony at the same time everyday, done the same way, like something on a to do list. I always want it to be authentic, real and refreshing.
I can't believe the little things that can drive me crazy each day. Now that our car is fixed, we have to get the tags and registration which Ryan was planning to do this week. No surprise, they required some kind of documentation he didn't have on him. It is frustrating and ridiculous the differences in what one state requires for registering your vehicle versus what another state requires. At some point this is one of those things that needs to be universal. It would save us all a whole lot of time and frustration not to mention making it paperless will be so much more beneficial for our environment. You know I could go on about the frustrations of this life for me, but for now this is it. Nothing comes easy in this world and there is always something unexpected and required of us. I got to thinking that God kind of works that way. As we walk through this life, living as Christ followers, we should expect the unexpected and not be surprised by what is required of us. Isn't that true? Weird. I read in my quiet time last night about the festivals the people of Israel were expected to observe. The festivals, what to eat and what not to eat, what ceremonies to perform and what you could or could not do on certain days. I think if I had lived back then I would have had to keep a running list with a calendar, much like I already do--ha!, so I didn't forget anything. So what's on your agenda today? Is there something frustrating you, and has something unexpected and required of you crossed your path? More than likely you will answer the same way I did. It never ends, but we can choose to live it out with integrity and joy knowing God has a purpose for every single moment of our lives. Even the frustrating, unexpected and required ones we are simply hoping to get over with or avoid altogether.
I know I haven't been as consistent with my blog as I should, but I've got more in my schedule now than before. Taking on a full time job on top of being a wife and mother of three makes getting everything done a whole lot more challenging. There are days I feel like I need to apologize to everyone because time with my family is so short. Don't get me wrong, I am so thankful for my job and hopefully I am that much more thankful for my family. Still, there are days I am just so tired. I wonder sometimes how long I can keep this up. Today our pastor spoke to us about compassion. I thought about myself, how I see the world most days. Like everyone else I have an agenda, a list of things to accomplish. At the end of the day, I take a mental inventory of what I got done or did not get done. I have to admit it has been awhile since I checked my compassion....did I show it today? I came away from worship today hoping I have a better fix on compassion. I have made it a habit to pray each morning on the way to work, and I always ask God to give me the opportunity to be like Christ to others, show love and share the Good News. I think I need to take it up a notch, deliberately look for the chance to impact someone's life in a new way. I know I try, but I really need to make an effort to do more, live it out. A new week is ahead of me, here goes!
Today is a good day. We all should say that and think that daily to get our minds and hearts in the right frame of mind. I am finding once again that I don't have enough time in my day to get it all done. That looming to do list that seems to grow with time. As I adjust to working full time again, I find I have to remind everyone in my family to do the same. I did my quiet time in a bit of a hurry this morning but it was good. My habit is to do it when I sit down for breakfast. It is the perfect time cause I am the first one up and to head out the door. Usually I have about a fifteen minute window of pure solitude to enjoy just me and the Lord. I read the familiar passage about the woman who touched the hem of Christ's robe in her desperate desire for healing. I love this passage because it is a reminder to me that even this woman who dealt with a lifelong battle of illness, simply had faith and obviously carried a more positive outlook on life than most. But she was not prideful. She didn't cry out to God and draw the attention of onlookers like many of the people seeking Christ's healing. She was discreet, but of course He knew as soon as she touched his robe that his healing powers had blessed someone. Her faith, her humility and her determination are inspirational to me. I hope to have someone say the same for me.
Okay, so I just finished week one on the new job. I really, really like it. I could see myself doing this for awhile. It is enjoyable, a great office/workplace with a great group of coworkers and the benefits are awesome. Of course the down side is the time away from the kids, and we just don't have the family time we had before. Everyday I have twinges of guilt, sadness cause I miss being at home with my children so much. I am praying for God to provide that again one day when the time is right. I know and trust that He will. I had the opportunity to attend a ladies unity event at ISU tonight with a group of women from our church. It was so good, great speaker who was very funny and inspiring. I enjoyed time with a few ladies in particular in my group, we enjoyed a bite to eat, fellowship with one another and just enjoying being girls! On my way home tonight I was thinking how much I needed it. Let's face it, most of us women don't do much for ourselves with all we've got going on in our lives. I don't want there to ever be moment in my life where I feel guilty for having fun, doing something just for me. God wants us to take care of ourselves, and part of that is intentionally treating ourselves from time to time. I want Rylee to have that value too. I was praying today for consistency and I can think of a lot of areas in my life that need that for a lot of reasons. It is a lot to think about, makes me a little tired. I suppose it is a goal to work toward.
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

I haven't blogged in awhile, Spring Break. I jumped into my quiet time this morning and all day I have been going over in my head this scripture from the message our pastor gave at church yesterday. What does that mean? All? All my heart, all my soul, all my strength...can I even comprehend what that means for me as a human being or is it easier to grasp on a spiritual level? I think it means very simply choosing each day, very deliberately to be like Christ. He was not a predictable man, and he did not follow anyone's rules other than God the father. He came with a purpose, to seek and save the lost and Oh my gosh, how much He loved them! Every single person who came to him He was more than willing to help if they simply believed. I have always found it odd that He told many of those He healed to keep it to themselves. I don't understand that completely, still working on that one. I can practically feel the excitement, the edge in the air as He had healed someone from demon possession, a physical ailment, or an addiction. Did every single one of them go on to embrace the scripture, to love Him fully with heart, soul and mind?! I wonder. I wonder how the rest of their life stories played out. I hope mine will speak for me that I embraced His call, that I took risks for the sake of the call, that I did not hesitate to help someone in need, that I took time to love the Lord as much as I encouraged others to do so. I hope my life speaks for me, what a testimony that can be for someone in need. I never tire of what the Word has to tell me. Scriptures I have read over and over again, somehow they become fresh and new to me as I come across them and renew my sense of trust and faith in God. It is enough to believe, it is expected of us to live it, and I hope to strive toward achieving that daily.
"He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come." Luke 4:18b-19

In my quiet time today I read about when Jesus returns to Nazareth, where he grew up, and spoke over the scrolls in the synagogue. I cannot imagine the mood in the room, the hush as he spoke, everyone listening so intently. Whether they realized who he was or not, his very presence must have left everyone with some sort of edge knowing there was something about him. He was the Word made flesh, God's Son come to save us. This Scripture is so inspiring, to know His purpose, to know that truly God is on our side. More than anything remembering what Jesus did for us on the cross, His death and resurrection gives us reason to celebrate our freedom in salvation, our joy and our greatest peace. There are those in the world who would love to prove it all myth, or just a story, and question how we can have such faith, such strong belief in something unseen. I can remember a time when I would have argued til my face turned red over the validity and strong evidence of Christ's life, death and resurrection. As I grow in my faith and embrace the Scripture before me, I know it is enough to believe and tell it to others, pointing them to the Word and to talk to God. In their search, I know the Holy Spirit will break through and shatter their unbelief. Only He can do that, we cannot save or convince anyone that they need to be saved: that is the Lord's job. We are messengers, tools to be used in the process. Some of us will be the first to share, others will fall somewhere in the middle of their journey, and a few of us will be blessed to be present when someone chooses to come to Christ. We cannot take the credit for any of it, we must look to the Lord and give Him all the thanks He is due. I hope I am convicted more each day to be useful for the Kingdom, stripping away my pride, my own agenda, my selfish motives and lay my life before the throne to be used by Him.
I realize my blog yesterday may leave some wondering what my point was or worry I simply don't know who I am at this point in my life. Over the course of the past few months I have had a few conversations with several women I know either at work or at church, and strangely enough like myself they too are wondering what is next at this point in their lives. I listened to comments like, "I just don't know what I want out of life right now", or "I don't know what I want to do with my life", or "I am not sure where I am headed next". At some point in the conversation I agreed with them cause I am in a similar place. Ten years ago if you had asked me where I would be at this point in my life, it would not be here. I would not have expected to be starting over for one thing, particularly going back to work full time. I would have easily predicted having several kids cause that is something I have always dreamed of. I admit I would have expected us to be a lot better off financially and for Ryan to be comfortably settled into a "job" somewhere in the music industry. Life has a funny way of dealing out surprises, and some of them are downright unfair. Our choices have not been great though, so we cannot blame life and must carry the weight of those bad decisions now. I think if I could talk to myself now, the person I was then face to face with who I am now, I would be very upset, disappointed, and angry. I find myself there many days, and it is a battle for me to deal with it. I know I must release it all to God, trust Him to give me the wisdom and strength to step forward into something better. I am already doing that, but the battle will rage on. Some days I am downright depressed, upset, would love to remain angry and resentful toward someone or something who should be responsible for where we have ended up. But then I am reminded that somehow God has purpose for it all, it all has meaning for my life in the long run. I just keep thinking someone out there is going to benefit from our testimony of how we survived this battle, this wildnerness. We all have a story of some kind to tell, the story of our lives. Hopefully our story will be a benefit to someone in the same situation one day. Hopefully I will continue to push forward, claim the promises God has for me and reach toward His goal for my life.
I am little tired and somwhat frazzled at the moment, but I am bound and determined to get in my blog today. Easter is approaching, and so I have been thinking since last Sunday how am I changed since I first came to know Christ. How am I changed? Who am I today that I was not before? Do I really know Him, trust Him, love Him? I find as I get older I am bombarded daily by so many expectations to be something I should be, but am I just being me? Am I finding my authenticity and living it, really and truly living it? If everything I have, everyone I know, all the stuff I have accumulated and accomplished in my life was stripped away Who would I really be? I don't have an answer. I guess I don't have it cause I don't want to have it. I feel like that would be saying I am done, content, uninterested in moving, changing, being renewed and refreshed daily. I do know I am God's, I am chosen, I am a holy vessel for Him to use, I am blessed, I am loved and I am a good person. I know I fail and will fail, I know I can make a difference for Christ, I know I can be even better tomorrow than I am today and I know God has a plan for every moment of my life. So I stand here today uncertain of what tomorrow will be, but certain of God and His plan for me. Jeremiah 29:11 will always be a permanent fixture in my mind and heart because I can find such comfort, confidence and joy in it. The Lord has a plan and purpose for my life, one of hope and not harm. I can stand on that, I can believe in that, I can find joy in knowing I don't have to have all the answers at any point in my life. God is good, and I want to fall at His feet daily to find freedom in releasing all my cares and concerns to Him.
We watched "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" last weekend and something he said has stuck with me. When he is explaining to Mahoney what matters most, he refers to Shakespeare's words in his writing, "He dies." I cannot recall which writing it is, but Mr. Magorium talks about how powerful those two little words are. The power is not in those words, or the sadness they carry, but the meaning of the life lived prior to those words. When you look at your life, do you feel sad? Disappointed? Wondering how you can go on or what is left worth living for? Mr. Magorium makes a great point. It is so important to be thankful for the life we live, every moment counts and hopefully it has been well lived. We cannot get bogged down by sadness, fear, worry, frustration, regret, doubt, anger, resentment...I could go on and on. The point is, life can be good if we live it and live it well! Jesus lived a life so brief on this earth, and although it was brief he made such a lasting impact on the lives he encountered. Think about all those he healed, touched, spoke words of joy and encouragement to, convicted deeply to change and follow His path, loved so deeply as a man as well as the Son of God. I have thought very long and hard since we have moved and started this new chapter in our lives in Indiana, and I have made a decision. No matter what we obtain in this life, jobs, homes, material possessions, accomplishments...I simply want my life to have meaning and to have mattered to at least one person. I hope my life has been lived well. There are moments I'd love to go back and re-do, but then I would not be the person I am today without having had those experiences. Each moment good and bad has shaped me, molded me into the person I am today. God has always been there, and although I have stumbled terribly from time to time He is always right there ready to scoop me up in His arms when I cannot go on any longer. In our weakness He is strong, and it is how we choose to live out those moments that will define who we are meant to be. He has purpose, but not always in the way we see it play out. We cannot have the mind of Christ or the understanding of God, but we can yield at that point of helplessness and just rest in the knowledge of Him. What is life and how will I choose to live it? Hopefully with a little more joy and thankfulness in my heart each day.
"Today is a new day." --Chicken Little

I love that line and for some reason it came to mind this morning. We should all have that outlook when we start each day. This movie is one of my son AJ's favorites, and Rylee and Bailey love it more for the songs. Chicken Little has it really tough in the story cause he yells that something terrible is about to happen, and when all the world is against him and he needs his Dad to support him, just believe in him--he doesn't. The story gets better and the dad eventually hears his son's hurt and disappointment and they resolve the situation, find closure as Abby Mallard (Chicken Little's friend) suggests. In the end his dad tells him he loves him, apologizes for not being there and show his support both verbally and by his actions. How many of us struggle to find that love and support we need and so desperately desire? In the beginning Chicken Little has made up his mind he will do something better, improve himself by starting fresh with a new day. No matter the odds against him, he chooses to be positive, give his best effort and move forward. Thankfully we can add to that our faith in Christ and knowing God will take care of us at all times. There is no greater power than first knowing God is on our side and second having the support and love of family and friends around you. There are so many people in this world who've had a less than positive example, support system around them. What a difference we can make each day to say, "Lord, give me the opportunity today to cross someone's path and make a positive impact on their lives." Whether we realize it or not, our day is filled with opportunities and it is up to us to see them. So many times our priorities get in the way of that goal. I hope today we will each clear our agendas and make more room for expecting those opportunities.
You know your are getting older when the body hurts a little more than it used to. I have been getting myself back into shape the past couple months in hopes that this is the real deal. I want to make these changes for life, really consistent about what I put in my mouth and living a more active lifestyle. So far I have had a great start, but it is the long road ahead that counts most. It is a daily fight for me with my mind and my body, starting when the alarm goes off. I wish I could have just fifteen more minutes, then I'll be good to go. It is that first initial step out of bed that is the starting point for my day, and I am off! Life is non stop with three kids, a husband, a house to take care of, a job, church stuff, extracurricular stuff, appointments, errands, etc. Where does the time go that I should have to get it all done? Why do I always feel like there is not enough time in the day to do it all? It is a bit unnerving to think going back to work full time will put even more of a crunch on my time. I had a great interview Monday and got the unofficial offer today. I am excited, but with some reservations. I worry about how my kids will adjust, especially Rylee. My daughter is very shy, anxious over little things and I am sure it will be hardest on her. I think it will be hard on Bailey at first, but once the routine gets underway he won't even notice the difference. AJ, my little one, will most likely bounce out of it like Bailey, but I know the initial separation will be tough on him. I hope I am not too hard on Ryan through this, expecting him to pick up some of the slack even though he is working too. Hopefully we can maintain some sort of balance, but we will have to do some rearranging. We will all have to make some adjustments, but we'll be fine. I know this will be a good, good thing for us. The Bible tells us not to worry about a thing, God has got it all under control. I believe that, and although I have my frazzled moments, I know more and more that I have a good God I can count on to take care of all our needs. Whether it is an achy body, a frazzled mom, an upset child, or changes in routine He's going to meet us where we need Him most. I am so relieved to know that and to be reminded of that everyday.
Although some people really thrive on feeling sorry for themselves, I find it benefits nobody and it is extremely tiresome to deal with. I have had friends over the years who have come across this way, life just isn't fair most of the time, they have what seems to be greater struggles than the rest of us. Truly I believe this is a need for attention, somewhere along the way that person has either had an unhealthy example of love and self worth or they have been a victim of some form of abuse. What an opportunity to share Christ, show love in a way that blows any example they've ever had out of their minds? We should be aware of these needs immediately around us in our friendships, families, work places, churches, anywhere and everywhere we are encountering someone who desperately needs a fresh outlook on life. I read in my quiet time today as God gave the Israelites the opportunity to see the land He'd promised through scouts who were sent out. As they returned and reported what they saw, even brought back a sample of the abundant food, the people's reaction astounds me. They have up to this point witnessed firsthand miracle after miracle that God has performed to prove Himself and His promise to provide for His people. They doubt, they fear, they literally ask to return to Egypt, to the slavery they have just been delivered from. The complaining, griping, desperate pleas must have been so hard for Moses and Joshua to hear let alone God himself. It angered God, and rightly so I think. I just cannot imagine having so much shown to you, right there seeing with your own eyes the power of God, and still doubting He could provide for them. It makes me feel sorry for them and just sad for the people of God and how far they had come, to hear God's command that they should wander the wilderness for 40 years and all those over the age of 20 would never see the land God promised them. It must have been a small comfort to know their children would, but still I cannot imagine the sorrow, the depth of despair they must have felt. Do we do this with God? Do we choose to complain, gripe, worry, agonize, stress out when something terrible happens in our lives? No matter the circumstance, somehow we've got to return to His promise to never leave us nor forsake us, that He will always provide for us according to His will. That never changes, He never changes, we need to choose to be unshakeable in our faith because of that alone. God cannot be knocked from His throne, and we cannot reduce His power or ability by doubting what He can and will do. Someone once told me in the midst of something horrible that occurred in their life, they somehow found the ability to laugh. Now I don't think this is a solution or appropriate reaction in every situation, but like tears it can be very therapeutic and comforting because we know God is still God, somehow He has a purpose for every moment of our lives.
My head is whirling with information this morning. I had a great weekend, and my week started off great today with a great job interview this morning. Since I have started this weight loss challenge my physical and mental well being are more in balance I think. In my quiet time this morning I read the familiar passage in Psalm, "Create in me a clean heart, O Lord my God, and renew a right spirit within me." Then when I got an email from my mom-in-law and she needed encouragement, I thought of the scripture in Psalm that says, "Why so downcast, O my soul, put your hope in God!" And finally I was just thinking over our small group study last night about the passage when Jesus walks on the water and calls Peter to do the same. I know that daily I need to make a habit of going through a kind of metamorphosis:
I see the weight of my circumstances and the worries of this world crashing around me like waves, and although my humanity is weak I know I can look to Jesus and have faith He'll carry me through it. As I walk through it I know I can have hope in knowing He will create something new in me, renewing me and refreshing me for something incredible today.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't have a dramatic event to report each day, but I think it is pretty remarkable to go through the day with the expectation that God has something good for me. I think He wants us to expect it, because I know He wants us to have the desires of our hearts. Although it may take more effort to do this each day, it is better than wallowing in the hum drum mediocrity that could overcome us in its place.
There are so many ways to describe the "loves" of my life. I have an incredible husband, Ryan, whom I have loved more every day we have had together in our marriage. I have a daughter Rylee, who is such a great combination of Ryan and I but truly a reflection of her Dad's sensitive spirit. My son Bailey, is feisty, outgoing and very passionate about life. He dives head first into any situation he is faced with, has no fear it would seem. My son AJ, is a typical third child, wishing most of the time he could do the same things his older siblings do. He is like his brother, no fear and approaches life without hesitation. He is the most stubborn of my three children, and very focused on whatever is occupying his time at the moment. I love my children fiercely, and I would do anything for them. It is hard to imagine a love that goes above all of them. This is the love we are called to in our relationship with Christ. Above everyone and anything in my life, I am called to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. For a lot of people that is hard to comprehend, hard to do. The true test is what would you do if Jesus walked up to you like he did the disciples, and asked you to drop everything and leave all you knew and follow Him? Would you, or could you do it? In my daily time with my Lord I am seeking to know and love Him more, and as I grow in my walk I see how my priorities must shift. My first focus should always be on the Lord, all else comes secondary. How will you shift your focus today?
I know it can't just be me, but does time go a lot faster than it used to? I remember feeling like summer lasted a whole lot longer when I was a kid. Now I look at the calendar for my kids and think, they don't really have a full three months off it seems. I am amazed how quickly the day gets away from me. By the time I get going, get everything done that I can and reach the afternoon when it is "my time" I can't believe how fast it has gone, how little time I have left. I think God wants us to do two things with our time on this earth. One, cherish every moment we have as if it is our last. Two, considering how fast the time goes, what could we be doing with that time to further the Kingdom? God doesn't want His Son, Jesus to return before everyone, every single person on this earth has the opportunity to know Christ and choose salvation. It truly puts everything in perspective. I have been struggling for a couple days with the financial burden we are carrying right now. I know Satan would love nothing more than for me to give up, sink into depression and despair because it seems so impossible. I know God can make the impossible possible so I choose to daily guard my heart and mind with His word, prayer, and just spending time crying out to Him for the help that only He can give. I try very hard to cleanse my heart and mind and focus on the blessings, time with one another, a healthy family, a roof over our heads, food in our refrigerator, a church family who has embraced us and made us feel so at home. We cannot measure our happiness by what we have or don't have: we must find joy in the here and now because it may be all we have. This is a challenge for me, but I am reaching for it daily, knowing God has the hope and peace I need.
It is a rainy Monday and we all seemed to drag out of bed more than usual. I got up to get to the Y for my first weigh in. We are starting a biggest loser challenge so a friend and I have teamed up. It is just what I need to get myself really going on a necessary health makeover. It is a lifelong work in progress I am afraid. I guess I should be proud of myself for continuing to work toward improving myself. I have had some set backs, and I realize that stress has played a big role in my health. I know I turn to food for comfort. Some people have substance addictions, I have a food addiction. My greatest focus will be evaluating my moods, reasons for reaching for food especially when I am not actually hungry. I know I do it out of boredom, for fun, to relieve stress, or just because it is there and I might as well treat myself. I know there is strength in abstinence or making an effort to reach for something healthier. I know I can lean on my partner, and I have the encouragement of family and friends to keep me on track. My choice to follow through is the biggest factor. Nobody can force me to do it and nobody can hold me back from making bad choices so, it is really and truly in my hands. The whole weight loss thing has always been frustrating to me, and I have had success but it is finding the will to do it for life that I struggle with. I will continue to wrestle within myself and pray over this because for my sake and the sake of my family I want to be healthier, happier, and just be around longer! I also realize there is a greater reason: my body is the Lord's, his temple, a vessel to be filled and used. What good am I run down, overweight and grouchy? It is a direct influence on my example to others. I know the challenge I have ahead of me and I will be working daily to be the person God intends for me to be both physically and spiritually.
It occurred to me the other day that I don't think I am being real enough in my blog. I like putting my first thoughts into it, what I am experiencing that day and what I am facing in my walk with Christ. I try to include a scripture but I know some days I am not specific enough and I don't always include a reference. I realize some people will wonder why, but I guess it is good enough for me to share what comes to mind. With three kids, a husband, a job, a house and a multitude of things to accomplish in a week I am lucky to get a sane word down on paper or in my blog. The truth is there are days I'd love to scream my head off in frustration, anger at how my life has turned out. It isn't really directed at anyone, it is just to get it out of my system. I claim full responsibility for my part in some really bad decisions that we have made. Oh the times I have thought about how great it would be to go back, re-do, get a do-over for some moments in my life. My greatest regret is that we didn't plan better financially than we have. We are equally to blame for it, Ryan and I. Nobody can blame anything or anyone for the choices made: we make them. Nobody is holding a gun to our heads to do it, we just do it. Temptations are surrounding us, and God knows how we will decide. I can think of moments I wished I had gone with my gut, not given in to the desire for something just for the sake of having it. I am learning as I get older, there is power in abstinence. There is power in saying "NO". There is power in reaching for something healthier to eat and only doing so when I am actually hungry, not out of boredom or because of stress. There is power in being a little bit selfish, doing something wonderful just for yourself. There is power in living life simply, choosing to live within your means. There is power in giving without expecting something in return, and this includes giving of our time not just our assets. There is power in the words, "I love you" and saying them often! There is power in human touch, affection, taking time to embrace someone simply because you are thankful they are alive. There is power in knowing at this very moment I am exactly where God wants me to be, doing exactly what He wants me to be doing. There is power in knowledge, and in knowing God. There is power in silence, in simply listening to God, waiting with expectation. There is power in His Word, it blankets our minds and hearts, protects us, comforts us, heals us, guides us. There is power in a relationship with God, with His Son Jesus. I believe in the power He has, that He has promised us and will continue to provide for us every day of our lives. We must tap into it, and that takes consistency, patience and obedience. Where does your power come from? He is waiting for you to plug in.
It never fails just when my plans for the week seem to be rolling along, a bump occurs in the road. The respiratory crud has attacked two of my children so I am playing nurse-mom today. This does not go over well with work when I have to call in but unfortunately we have no options without family nearby to help out. So, I'll get a few things done around the house that would have been put on hold til tomorrow had I gone in to work today. Good for that, bad for the bank account. That's okay though, God knew ahead of time how today would go and we will continue to trust Him for provision. I was reading today in my quiet time about when Peter, James and John went up to a mountain with Jesus. They were able to see Him in His glorious form, and conversing with Moses and Elijah--wow! I am amazed every time I have read this account and wonder what it must have been like for them to be there, experiencing something so incredible. Yes, they were afraid, and I am sure they must have been absolutely speechless. As I read further I was also amazed to see them still not comprehending Jesus' purpose on this earth. They still could not wrap their brains around the plan for His life, to die and rise again, that He truly was the Son of God. I keep coming back to the reality that our human nature, our limited understanding of all things spiritual keep us from truly comprehending it all. We are striving all our lives to be more like Christ, but we will never reach completeness til we are in the eternal Kingdom with Him and the Father. This is where my faith comes in. We are told in Scripture that faith is believing in something unseen, something we cannot touch, smell, taste, hear or see. We know in our hearts because at some point the Holy Spirit moved us to choose a lasting relationship with Jesus Christ and boom!--faith is born. It is what keeps us going daily, knowing we have so much more to live for beyond our days on this earth and we want everyone we know to have that so we share it with them. Our faith goes before us, in how we live, everything we do and say is a reflection of who we truly are deep inside. Who are we if our faith is taken away? Who were you before you found God? I have a unique testimony in that I was raised in the church, the daughter of a pastor, so in my journey I found Christ at a very young age. I had my struggles along the way, but I never lost sight of my foundation. I know God has always been there, that regardless of the fluctuations in my faith walk, He has not moved or changed. Funny how our human nature plays tricks on us and we are convinced God is so far away, has somehow forgotten us or abandoned us. The truth is we are the ones who forget, abandon God. We choose to wallow in our struggles, flop around in the muddy mire of our human existence rather than climbing out of it to plant our feet firmly on the solid ground God has promised us. He never said it would be easy and He has never promised us that life will be a breeze. He does promise that we will not have to endure anything we can't handle, He will provide even through the lives of other Christ followers we know and love, and we will be shaped by experiences to be stronger, wiser and better for the journey ahead. That is faith building right there.
I love reading about the miracles Jesus performed while here on this earth. Today in my quiet time I read as thousands were fed when he blessed what little food they could gather. I also read about the healing of a deaf man, so amazing the process he went through to touch that man's life and restore his hearing. As he walked and talked with the disciples after these many miracles occurred, I am amazed at their lack of understanding and faith in Jesus. Certainly their human nature was a factor, largely their inner denial of the reality of things to come for the Lord. I know daily I struggle to find some sense of what is happening in the world around us. The hurt, the frustration, the anger we all feel when something goes wrong, a tragedy occurs or we are so incredibly disappointed when someone makes a bad choice. What can we do to find restoration of our hope? It is in Jesus. We have sung about it, read about it, now let's live it! What a testimony for others who may be struggling to stand on our faith through the worst of times and see how God can work miracles. Miracles don't have to be tangible, they can be an incredible change of the heart or the release of a great burden someone has carried for so long. My hope is in You, Lord, and I will not lose sight of that in my heart and my mind.
Another Monday, everything starts over again. Nothing gets your day going like kids dragging out of bed, running late from the get go, frantically getting what I can get done before heading to work and a few unexpected things thrown in the mix. I am a ball of stress right now cause some things in my life I feel are still unsettled. For about three years now I have been going through some form of mid life crisis. I love being a wife and mother more than anything, but some of our choices and life's unexpected curves have made that more challenging for me. I am at a point in my life that I must do something more to help us get back on our feet financially. Last year was a year of huge challenge for Ryan and I and so this year not only brings with it new starts, but the even greater challenge of climbing out of the previous year's challenges. We are faced with replacing an engine in one vehicle, then there is the job situation for me, repairing our credit/debt situation which may or may not include filing for bankruptcy, living in a rental that may at any moment sell which will require us to find other housing....shall I go on? I wonder sometimes how I don't wind up driving myself into a major depression thinking about it all because it seems so impossible. There are days when I have those moments, I see myself standing on the edge of a cliff and the pull to fall is so strong. What saves me? God. Life is unpredictable and unfair all the time, so I must choose to reach for Him, trust Him, know He will not fail me even when I feel myself failing to cope with it all. Somehow I find comfort there, bury my head in his arms and just let go of it all knowing He will take care of it. I am thankful for the ways He has provided for us already, and my greatest challenge is to daily focus on what we have to be thankful for and not how we are going to accomplish this goal or that goal over the course of the months that lie ahead. Whether we are in a good or bad place in our lives, we should have this focus at all times. I am finding through this time that it keeps me more grounded in my faith than I have ever been. He provides such wisdom for us if we will accept it through His word. Proverbs is full of words regarding wisdom and how much more we benefit from it than things that are foolish and fleeting. God's got all the answers, and I don't need to know them all. What a relief.
Mid afternoon is typically my favorite time of day because AJ is down for his nap, I can have a cup of tea and have some time to do what I would like whether it be reading, blogging, or catching a favorite show on A&E or Food Network. I am thankful for this time because it keeps me sane, keeps me balanced. In my quiet time this morning I read the familiar passage about the woman with the bleeding disorder who was healed by touching Jesus' robes. This has always been one of my favorite passages because of her faith, just to touch his robe and know she would be healed! She was fearful to reveal herself to him, but she knew who He was and what healing He could provide. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to look into his face and hear his words, "Your faith has healed you". Do you have faith like that? The Bible tells us we only need faith the size of a mustard seed, and mountains will be moved! In my lifetime I can already recall moments when I heard about or literally witnessed a "mountain" being moved in someone's life. It is amazing, and it is a jolt to our own faith. I can think right now of two precious women in my life who need a mountain moved. I pray for them constantly and I know God will provide for them if they truly believe Him and His promises for their lives. Prayer is a powerful way to show others our faith, our belief in God. There are so many layers to our faith, and at the core is the knowledge of Christ and His power. I hope I will daily find a way to be an example of faith to someone. I know the woman Christ healed was an example to so many, and hopefully the lives she effected were equally effective in influencing someone else's faith. We are all connected, we all have something truly remarkable to live for.
Leviticus 11:45 I, the Lord, am the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God. You must therefore be holy because I am holy.

I have to admit having read through the Bible before, I am once again struggling to read portions of the Old Testament. It is difficult and tedious, very detailed. God was very specific about the set up of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant, the offerings, the way the priests were to dress and carry out their duties in the tabernacle. The procedure for carrying out each type of offering is at times disgusting to read, but also very specific down to what parts of the animals are to be removed, burned and/or consumed. God gives specific instructions as to what is to be consumed and whether or not it is appropriate for His people. It is a lot of information for my mind to absorb, and hard to imagine what it was like to have to do it all. Thank goodness for Jesus or we would still be doing all of that today. I know there is meaning to the rituals and traditions of that time, and I respect it but, I am thankful I do not have to go through all of that to be close to God and to please Him. He called His people out, He required much of them and after a time Christ came. What a gift, what a sacrifice, what an amazing gift for us so that we don't have to go through a priest or ceremony of some kind to be close to God. I am thankful for the time and the ceremony of my own making that is God's each day. We all can make our quiet time a personal ceremony for God each day. Have you made time for Him today? Have you read His word? Have you talked with Him? Take time to tell Him how much you love Him, need Him, cannot imagine life without Him. He has given us so much, we have so much to be thankful for. I cannot imagine what kind of person I would be without Him. I have tried, and it is quite painful to even think of what path my life could have taken without a relationship with Christ. Whether you realize it or not, we are chosen, set apart, a holy nation that God wants to use to further His kingdom. There is no greater reason for Him to wait for Jesus' second return. There are so many people who need Him and deserve the chance to know Him. I hope I can be more of His light to someone today. What a difference a day can make in someone's life with a smile, kind word, selfless gesture. We can always do more, we can always do something of worth.
Psalm 37:16 It is better to be godly and have little than to be evil and possess much.

What is your definition of wealth? Happiness? Contentment? No matter the circumstances I have endured in my life this far, I have always counted myself wealthy in terms of the blessings God has given me. From as early as I can remember, I was never really interested in making a lot of money, having a huge house or fancy cars, being able to spend money on anything and everything I wanted. Material possessions never mattered much to me. I was raised to value hard work, taking care of myself in a way that is both pleasing and honorable to Christ, and always being mindful of how much I have to be thankful for. My parents instilled those values in me and it has carried to my children as I pass it along to them. I think the day we begin to get excited and gradually turn our values toward what we have accomplished or gained in this life is the day we have lost focus on what truly matters. There is nothing wrong with being successful as long as it does not encompass and define your life. It is all in your mindset, your focus on what is of greatest importance. My grandmother has been a wonderful woman of wisdom for me. Her greatest advice to us was to always value our relationship with Christ; everything else is secondary. No matter our victories or failures, we can stand tall knowing we have done our best and endured for the sake of Christ. There is nothing I can do in this life to deserve what He did for me, nothing I can do to earn His love. It is given freely, sacrificially because He loves me. How can a day go wrong with that in mind! Yes, it can and it does but we must not allow Satan to have the victory over our day; we must push through it by our love for Christ and the Word of God, standing on His promises and declaring He will always have the victory. I am having a tough day today, and this is helping me climb out of my funk slowly. It is amazing how tough circumstances can throw off our mood, our outlook on the day. I have to choose to mentally and verbally declare victory over it and embrace God's truth for me. It is a good day to be the Lord's. I am so thankful He chose me, and I chose Him!
Psalm 36:5-7 Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O Lord. How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.

I find it so amazing how simple but powerful God's love is for us. We make our troubles and circumstances seem so big and overwhelming, that it would seem God is not big enough to handle it. Here's truth: My struggles are big, but my God is bigger! I think sometimes in our lives when something terrible occurs, our mind somehow tricks us into thinking God must put us on hold because He has something bigger to deal with than what we are going through. Just because it is so difficult for us to deal with does not mean it is that way for God. I think in some way we make God less of who He is by doing that and somehow we think we can "humanize" him. How easy it is for us to forget He never leaves His throne, and He does not change. Our faith may fluctuate, increase and decrease with our ongoing circumstances both bad and good, but He is still God. Why is is that when we feel far away from God, we think He is the one who has moved? The reality is we are the ones who have moved, He is still where He has always promised to be. This Psalm I read today is a wonderful reminder of how great the Father's love is for us. At some point in our struggle we have to snap out of it by coming back to scriptures like this--His love covers it all! Earlier in this chapter it says sin comes to us in a whisper, and somehow even in a whisper it shakes us, tempts us, knocks us off of our feet. I think our greatest weapon can be the knowledge of the Father's love. He promises to protect us, to guide us, to strengthen us and to provide for us abundantly. We must choose to humble ourselves and be obedient, living a life that is a reflection of Him. We cannot do this by reading a few scripture verses, saying a sweet little prayer and going about our merry way til sometime the next week. It must come with consistent, daily absorption and meditation because after all He longs for us to spend time with Him! I am reading through the Bible this year as one of my new year's resolutions and it has made a huge difference in my walk with Christ. I am finding that I have fallen in love with His word more than ever before in my life. His word taken in daily has deepened the love I have for Him, growing my walk with Him and hopefully reflecting His love that much more to those around me. Dive into His word today and see what happens in your life. I guarantee you will be changed, you will be a better person because of it.
Today after my workout, I was thinking about some of the yummy stuff I enjoyed for Valentine's Day. Okay, let's be realistic--how do you get through Valentine's without something sweet to eat? It is not possible. I make sugar cookies and we decorate them every year, get the kids into it and it has become a family fun tradition. So of course, I indulged. I am finding as I get older, sugar is harder to resist and can even be addicitive. I have read more than one book that describes the way our bodies process sugars, and it is very interesting how our body is triggered into craving it. Today I am grouchy and want to eat something sweet and I know it is because of the sweet I enjoyed yesterday. I have quit carbonated drinks too, so I am sure my body is going to experience some form of withdrawal while I get on track from this point forward. On the other hand, I am thankful I am not in a situation where I have become morbidly obese and the work ahead of me would be so much more difficult. I don't think any of us can imagine being at that point, but I think in some areas of our lives we are. How have you allowed yourself to become addicted, obese on the "sweets" this world has to offer us? Part of taking care of this temple, this vessel God can use is to choose to be healthier. I hope in a couple months to hear people around me reacting to the changes I am making. That is an affirmation, encouraging for the road ahead. I have done it before, so I know I can do it again.
Throughout the Bible there is a common theme I read over and over again. When we love the Lord and obey Him, we will be blessed abundantly. It seems like such a simple thing, but we tend to complicate it. Whether it is our worldly priorities or "spiritual" priorities, we are the ones who complicate it. Once again, our humanity gets in the way of God's true purpose for our lives. Live life fully, holy and pure, set apart, a vessel to be used for His purposes. We complicate it by developing unhealthy habits, addicitions, excuses of every kind. At some point our guilt and deep conviction snap us abruptly back to reality. As the Lent season has begun, I am considering deeply what I need to release from my life to be more pure, more of a clean and empty vessel truly ready for His purpose. My greatest struggle has always been with control. I like being in control, feeling like I know exactly what is going on, what to expect, plan everything out to the last detail and if it doesn't go the way I need it to, the effects can be disastrous. In addition to that, I deal with stress by eating. I don't binge, but I definitely reach for something sweet and chocolatey. As I am approaching 40 (yes, I know I have four years left but still!) and I examine closely my family's health history, I have for several years been working on getting myself into a healthier place. I have tried every diet you can imagine, read every book there is, and some of worked while others have not. I have a wonderful new friend who has become an accountability partner for me and this week we are starting a new journey into being healthier. So, my goals are to be more active, reach for healthier choices when I do need to eat and healthier outlets for my stress when I don't need to eat. I know I am not alone in this struggle so I hope others will join me in this effort. When we love the Lord and we are obedient, He will bless us abundantly. I know my physical well being as well as my spiritual well being are equally covered by that promise. So, the journey begins! I am going to start keeping track of my weight on my blog so this will truly be an exposure for me to a lot of people in my life. Here goes nothing--or everything, depending on how you look at it!

The journey begins:
Day 1--weight: 205
As of 11:11 am I have not had any sweets or sinful treats today. Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to report the same. My goal is to watch my calorie count, intake of fiber/carbs/fat/sugar and no eating after 8 pm. Also, I am cutting all carbonated drinks out of my diet and artificial sweeteners.
So much to do today, so little time to blog. I read in my quiet time this morning the familiar passages leading up to Jesus' crucifixion. I am horrified every time I have read these passages as to how the Lord was treated by the very people He came to save. He had so much to teach them, really remind them of from Scriptures He literally, physically was fulfilling. Even the wisest, most knowledgeable teachers and priests refused to believe He was the Son of God. Was it too easy? Yes, I think they expected Him to come down in a huge show of ceremonial glory, robed in some fancy robes and a glittering crown upon His head. I think they were surprised because He came in such a natural, down to earth manner that everyone could relate to. Why? I don't know all the answers, but to me it seems our expectations of how something should be get in the way of simply being open to anything happening. We set ourselves up to be disappointed when we impose our own ideas upon something that is truly God inspired, not within our control. Our humanity can truly be cruel and unrealistic. I think we do this daily. We have such expectations about how our day will go, how our lives will play out within our careers, marriages, families and every relationship within our immediate social circles. How different our outlook on life would be if we would start our day more open minded, choosing to turn it all over to God and say, "I know You are in control and You know what is best for me!" It is not so easy; our pride and our own selfish ambition get in the way of what God truly intends for us. He has a purpose for every moment, and He had a purpose for every moment of His Son's life on the earth. I am reminded each day to be in awe, so grateful for what God has given me because I do not deserve any of it. This is the mindset that can truly shape us, and I don't want to get caught up in something superficial only to be jolted painfully back to the reality that I am not in control--it is all His! What are you thinking upon today? How will you choose to set your mind on something more lasting, more abundant? He has it for us, but we must surrender and recognize He is always on His throne. That is some inspiration to think on.
I was thinking today I would love so much to get away, go on vacation to a place warm and relaxing. It is terribly cold, and we are getting a bit more snow. I have always loved the changing seasons, but winter can be particularly hard on me. I am like many people who suffer from some form of seasonal depression. Too many days without sunshine and my energy level and mood tend to take a dive. Thankfully I can find peace and revival in my quiet time each day. Today I read in the Old Testament about the offerings, the detailed preparation that went into each ceremony. God gave such specific instruction, what would please Him in what was given to Him. It was enough to leave my head spinning. I am so thankful we are not required to do all of that; Jesus' life has covered us and a commitment to Him brings us to eternal life. I am in awe every day because He has chosen me. He knew me before I was even a thought in my mother's mind. He knew me before time began. He knew when I would come to know Him and choose to embrace Him as my Lord. I cannot imagine my life without a walk with Christ. So because of that commitment, I actually do have a place to "vacation" daily and find the relaxation I need for my heart, mind and soul. Okay, yes--I still want to go to a nice tropical place for a vacation but there is great joy to be found daily with the Lord when I make time for Him.
I read in my quiet time today a familiar passage about the woman who brought a jar of precious perfume to pour over Jesus' head. As he was present for a supper in the home of a leprous man named Simon, she enters and pours the bottle of perfume on Christ's head, annointing him with it. Jesus knew her intentions and did not stop her or berate her, yet the disciples questioned her and then Christ. He pointed out that she was doing so as if to prepare him for his burial, knowing His time was about to come. She had no shame, no hesitation and what an act of love she performed for the Lord. What will we give to Him as a sign of our obedience, our love for His precious gift of eternal life? Every year at the time of Passover I sacrifice something in my life, give up something I really enjoy to pause for true reflection upon what Christ did for me on the cross. For you it may be time to truly break a habit, an addiction you have carried for a long time or it may be a luxury that you have come to realize is just that, a luxury and something you really don't need. Where is our focus? To extend that challenge, how long are you willing to give it up? There are some things I admit I gave up for a time but then went right back to them. This is a challenge for myself as well, so I hope you will join me in breaking free from something in your life as a tangible sign you are truly committed to Christ. We are to be like Him and not like the world, set apart for a purpose, serving the least of these as if we were serving the Lord. What will you do today for Christ?
I wonder sometimes if a person can fully appreciate, completely realize how blessed they are. We are all likely to face something tough in our lives, but how we endure those hard times shapes us into a better person. How we deal with those trials speaks truly of our faith, endurance, integrity and character. I have had some moments in my life that did not speak well of me. Some of it was due to a desire to rebel, my spirit was tired of the pressure, the expectations placed upon me. Other times, I think I handled better, and some of the people who witnessed my ability to endure hardship or a difficult situation were able to tell me how it effected them. I was given the opportunity to hear what impression I made on their lives which was a direct result of how my behavior spoke for me. In my quiet time today I read how much God desires for us to be wise and faithful with what we have been given. We have a choice, to hide it and selfishly keep it to ourselves or we can be selfless and invest it, build upon it and make wise decisions with it. Our wisdom will bring us abundance as He has promised in His word. It is not in our nature to be giving, but rather to be selfish. Why not choose to be selfless, do something not true to our nature and give out of our own blessing. It is what sets us apart from everyone else. It speaks volumes to the kind of person we need to be.
How early does your day begin? A typical day for me starts with the alarm going off between 6:30 and 6:45. Today was no ordinary day. I had to work early, so my alarm went off at 5 am and my work day started at 6 am. After eight hours at work, I made a stop on the way home, then arrived home to find a bit of time to unwind before starting dinner and getting in my workout. I also made time for God, had my quiet time and thanked Him for his promises in His word to me today. No matter how my day goes, I can always count on God's word meeting my needs. There are things I enjoy doing in my life to find relaxation, balance and rejuvenation but first and foremost is my time with God. Some of my favorite things include reading a great book, enjoying a hot cup of tea and listening to a favorite cd. All those things are enjoyable, but nothing compares to time with my Lord.
I admit I am an impatient person. It doesn't show, in fact, most people say I come across as a very patient person. That's God--He provides that for me cause without Him I am certain I would be a very grouchy, short tempered person that most people would not enjoy being around. Yesterday in my quiet time I read about God's desire for us to love Him and love others, and today I read about how much He desires for us to be obedient and to honor Him in all we do. He laid out the rules for His people, requiring us to honor Him in everything we do and say. It must have been awesome and frightening to hear the voice of God and experience the things they did as He spoke. I wonder what the voice of God sounds like? For me, it has never been an audible voice, I would say it is more of a whisper in my spirit and movement within my heart in the form of deep conviction. I think it is different for every person. Yesterday was a hard day for me. I felt I was in a terrible battle, and Satan was trying his best to win my attitude, my outlook on life, my mood. I felt I was under attack, and the reality of it is we are under attack more often than we realize. There are times it truly catches me off guard though. On the way home from work last night I just prayed in the silence for comfort and healing. I told God how much I loved Him, and I told Satan to leave me alone. It is really frustrating and upsetting when I realize how much Satan can take from me--but I also realize I can call him out and tell him to scram! The truth is I am a child of God, He is my Lord and my Savior and nothing can change that. It is both empowering and comforting to know we have such a powerful and merciful God. I am armed with the Word and with my salvation to face any obstacle I encounter in my day. God is good, and His promises are true.
I read in my quiet time this morning in Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus' words to the Pharisees: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Are we honoring those commandments in our lives everyday? How many times do we find ourselves in the line at the grocery store, waiting in a doctor's office, or stuck in traffic demonstrating these things? Most of us would answer not often. It is all too easy to get caught up in our own agendas, stuck in a bad mood cause things aren't going as we'd hoped that day and the grouch in us comes out. What would Jesus think of us then? Although it may take some effort on our part and not doing what comes naturally for our human nature, we most likely will feel some sense of relief to know we behaved in a manner that would please the Lord rather than disappoint him. I know it is something I need to work on, a choice I must work harder to make each day. We need to expect the unexpected each day. You never know when a situation may arise that is meant to stretch our ability to be a better person than we could be. I am a work in progress and I know each day God will mold me into more of the person He wants me to be if I choose to be His rather than the world's.
There is nothing like waking up to the earth covered in a blanket of snow. It makes me feel cozy, and it is nice to have a little more time to sleep in. The kids were thrilled that there is no school today. I wonder what the Israelites would have thought if they woke to snow one day? I am sure they would have been very surprised, wondering what on earth was going on. Not that much different from how they felt when Moses began leading them through the wilderness as God had told him. They actually told him they'd rather go back to Egypt and live as slaves than go any further into the unknown territory that lay before them. It is scary not knowing what lies ahead. To be in unfamiliar territory rather than our idea of comfort is enough to give us all second thoughts. But what about faith? That was Moses' question to the people, what about the God who had already performed such incredible miracles? The majority of us would admit we will believe more confidently in something when it is tangible. In Exodus 14:13 Moses says to the people of Israel: "Do not fear! Stand where you are and watch what God will do for you!"
Okay, that is my own paraphrase of it, but you get the idea. Stand firm, watch what God will do! He has not done it yet, but just believe and stand firmly on the promise that He will provide for you! No matter the uncertainty, no matter where or to what you are called, God has a plan. What is He telling you today and what will you do about it?
For the first time this week I made it to the Y. The Ick has been in our house between AJ, Ryan and I so I have felt like a slug for a few days. It was good to be back, but I am feeling it. Can the same thing be said about our spiritual life? There are days I am sure we all can say we just don't have the time, don't feel like doing our quiet time. Some of you are thinking, "What? I can't imagine missing a moment!", others of you are saying, "Okay, I slip from time to time", and still others of you might actually admit, "I don't have the time, find it a struggle to get into the Word daily". We all have our reasons, but none of them are good. Whether we feel like it or not, we must make time for God daily. It should be like taking our vitamins, eating a meal, brushing your teeth, etc.; in other words, a habit. But in addition, it should be as fresh as a cool breeze on a hot summer day. We need to do it, but it should be invigorating, encouraging, revitalizing, inspiring, and enlightening. It should fill our hearts, minds and souls every single day. I have many days that I am physically and mentally exhausted, would love to curl up in a ball and just sleep the day away. Those days I have to force myself, choose to put one foot in front of the other and bathe myself in time with God. For me, the result is always renewal. I know Satan would love for me to give up and choose to be a slug, but my relationship with Christ inspires me to make the effort.
I guess it is my turn to get sick. I woke up today with scratchy throat, runny nose and just not feeling all that great. Mom's turn to get the stuff! I suppose if we could pick when we got sick it would never happen, cause who wants to be sick? Well, life goes on and somehow we muddle through even when we are a bit under the weather. I was reading in my quiet time today in Matthew. Jesus is telling the disciples the story of the man who hired workers and paid the same wage regardless of how many hours they labored. He wanted them to get that when kindness is shown, we are doing what Christ did for us. He didn't come to be served, He came to serve and to save. How different would our lives be if we chose to be a servant to others rather than expect our needs to be met first? In every area of our lives this should be the model we live by: with our husbands, our children, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, everyone who crosses our path. Serving is not easy, especially for those of us who tend to be control freaks. It is a work in progress, something to strive towards daily. How can you and I serve someone today?
I read Psalm 24 this morning in my quiet time and it is such a powerful, wonderful picture of our God. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord, strong and mighty! Chris Tomlin's song is going through my mind, what an awesome vision of our Lord in His rightful place. I wonder how many people in the world truly embrace and celebrate that? I wonder how many people in the world have turned from Him, found somehow their circumstances in life are His fault, written Him off as a cruel God. How many of them really know Him for who He is? I want them to know, I want them all to know His truth, His promises, His love and the true reason for why He allows this world to keep on spinning, existing, spiraling out of control. If we read the Scriptures we know why. He waits so that more may come to know Him, choose His promise of salvation. He waits because truly man is corrupt, the world is an imperfect place and it will naturally continue to get worse. There cannot be peace on earth, not really because the earth is not a peaceful place. As long as man exists, there will be sin and there will be cruelty but....we have a responsiblity as Christians to be the shining light, the difference that makes people go, "Wow, there is something worth living for, something of greater worth, something beyond this life!" What kind of difference are we making in this world? Do they see it in us? Are we getting their attention, leaving a lasting impression upon their lives when our paths cross? You may have just a brief moment in time to make a difference in someone's life who truly needs it. I have already had some of those moments and instead of acting upon the Spirit's prompting, I missed it. Those moments I have chosen to be vulnerable and open to someone I barely knew or someone I knew well, God gave me something to say. Those moments, however brief or lasting, can make a lasting impression we may never know about. That isn't what matters. What matters is we chose it, and God used it. We have to trust Him to complete it, it is not our job to see it through. We are vessels for His use, He is the one who saves and changes lives. The world, however cruel and unjust, can be a better place but it will never be a perfect place until He returns. He is the King of Glory, the Lord, strong and mighty---Are we telling it to the world or keeping it to ourselves? That is a great challenge for each of us as we walk with Him each day.

my Ebenezer...

“…Thus far the Lord has helped us.”-1 Samuel 7:12 There are moments in my life when I look back and can see how God in His perfect yet my...