Thursday, December 28, 2006

No Pain, No Gain

As the year comes slowly to an end and a new one is peeking through the horizon I find myself evaluating my walk with the Lord over the past year. One of the areas that I focus on is the time I have spent allowing God's word to change me. Not growth in knowledge through the study or reading of God's word, but true change through the power of the word of God. One of the ways I can evaluate this is by going back through my journal. I often write about my struggles, my innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 says,
"The word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires."

This verse always brings to mind the story of a patient telling the doctor he doesn't want heart surgery because it will hurt. And as the doctor explains that he won't feel a thing, the patient continues to talk about the pain after surgery. And yet as ridiculous as this seems, often we are faced with the same thing when it comes to God's word. The writer of Hebrews describes God's word as a surgeon's knife. God, the great physician, knows exactly where tumor-like growths of wrong thoughts and desires are lurking. And he knows that those growths will destroy us if they aren't sliced out. Or worse yet severely stunt our ability to live a full life. His word is the instrument he uses to expose those growths, bringing them to light, and showing us how to get rid of them.

But too often we ignore or just plain don't look at what His word says. This often has the same effect on us spiritually as would our ignoring the doctor's advice for life changing surgery.

So as I look back at the year and the pain I may have experienced, I now see the gain of new life. God's word bringing new life to areas that were hidden or dark. This new year I hope to go willingly to the surgeon's table knowing that it won't always be pleasant, but as they say, "No Pain, No Gain."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

His Christmas list read: "new bible"

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5minutes4mom

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

What I GOT for Christmas

Time to stop and reflect on God's love
A renewed perspective on salvation
A husband's compassion for the lost and hurting
A two year old continually saying "Carrrr"
Kids looking under the tree and moving packages around
Little hands waving backwards when he wants you to follow him
Sweet words from a brother and uncle
Two sisters playing together
Grandma's smile when shopping for gifts
A son's hug
No greater joy than watching a little one open a gift
A most beautiful conversation with a teenager
The joy of a young girl playing with a baby doll
Kind words spoken by children
Heartfelt prayers
Cards and letter from old friends
God's provision
Helping a six year old learn to skate
Visiting with extended family
Playing games with my kids
Tears of joy
Tears of missing loved ones
A chance to watch the world stop for one day
Joy in the faces of children

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Loneliness at Christmas....

Today while doing some dishes I was praying for those who may be experiencing loneliness this Christmas season. Loneliness due to loss, loneliness due to lack, or loneliness due to being alone.

Tonight I read this post by Janice at 5minutes4mom. It is beautiful!

Remember to pray for those who have suffered loss of a loved one, those who are sick among us and for those who serve our country in the armed forces. May they experience the Joy of the Lord this Christmas!


May the joy of the birth of our Savior, Christ the Lord, fill your hearts and homes.

Merry Christmas!

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:11-14

One Solitary Life

All the armies that ever marched, and all the governaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, have not effected life upon this earth as powerfully as has that One Solitary Life.
author unknown

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A very special gift

For thirty eight years I lived in the same city as my mother. We spent every holiday together and many other days as well. Neither one of us ever imagined what life would bring. Over the past six years we have lived first eight hours away from each other and now several states. When we are afforded the opportunity to be together we try and enjoy every moment. This is exactly what we are doing this week. My mom arrived last Friday afternoon and will be with us until the day after Christmas. I am truly enjoying this very special gift.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Welcome to Our Home!

Boomama is hosting a Christmas tour of homes. I thought I would join in on the fun (for all of you who live out west).

Welcome and come on in! Merry Christmas!

This cute fellow adorns our front door.

As you enter into our foyer you'll find my favorite spot. A dear friend gave me this small flocked tree and it sits perfectly next to the table with the white church, snowmen and a miniature nativity. For years I owned a wooden nativity set which little fingers played with and it's location was usually unknown, but when a few of the pieces disappeared we decided it was time to keep our eyes open for a new one.

These cute snowmen are some of the few Christmas decorations that survived our cross country move.

On the opposite wall Christmas cards are starting to gather and we love hearing from all of you.

Straight ahead is our living room. This is the only room I decorate.

The stockings hang from the fireplace and if you look closely you'll see a snow globe of The Nativity given to us by dear friends.

Behind us is our piano showcasing a lovely poinsettia. The pictures on the wall is our family picture taken at Christmas time last year.

If you look closely at our tree, you'll see one of my favorite ornaments. Two of these glass doves have survived 20 years of marriage.

In my kitchen I bring out my poinsettia tea pot and tea cup to enjoy! And of course my red snowman dishes. There is a picture here.

Thank you for stopping by today. And may the Joy of the Lord fill your home and heart as you celebrate the birth our Lord and Savior! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Traditions

Kim at Lifesong has posted some of her families Christmas traditions and has encouraged those reading her blog to do the same.

Some of our traditions have changed in recent years, but we have a few that have lasted for over a decade.

1) Through the years I have created an advent celebration based on the age of my children. It has changed over time, but the message is always the same. My prayer is to create anticipation and expectation in my children's hearts at the coming Messiah. We have tried to communicate the message of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. Christmas morning we read "The Birth of Jesus" a beautifully illustrated book for my younger children and Luke chapter 2.

2) I have truly enjoyed this book (which I had shared about here).

3) Christmas music filling the house as much as possible and as often as possible. We sing Christmas carols after reading in the evening.

4) Many years ago I began buying each of my children new pajamas for Christmas. Some years we did matching, but now we do something either themed or based on their personality. It is something they truly look forward to and on Christmas Eve we open up our new PJs and wear them to bed.

5) Similar to Kim, we put all our Christmas cards in a cute metal box after Christmas. And during the month of January we pull one out each night and pray for the family. I used to tell my friends to make sure we got their card if they wanted our prayers! :)

6) I have a baking day FOR THE KIDS. This means I am not looking for perfection, but rather giving them a chance to enjoy the process. I let the kids decide what they will do with their finished product. Some years the dough barely made it on the cookie sheet before being gobbled up by little mouths.

7) We pop popcorn and watch "It's a Wonderful Life" one evening.

8) One of my favorite traditions is Shopping Day. This one is only a few years old, but it is so fun. We usually go to Target and each child (the older four) has $25.00 that they have saved or earned. (We don't let them bring more than $25.00 and we give our six year old the money for now) They each shop for gifts for each of their siblings and dad and mom. (the baby will be included in a few years, but don't worry he will end up with several gifts in the process) They each have a $5.00 budget to spend on each person. I let two go in one direction and I go with the two with the six year old included. They can put their money together or not. I let them completely decide. I get so much joy in watching them carefully pick gifts for one another, and yet they try so hard not to look at things for themselves. And you might think that nothing good can come from $5.00?? Well think again, last year I got lotion, a candle, and a beautiful black pearl necklace picked out by my son. The tricky part is getting around the store and through the check out without letting each other see what is being bought. But that is part of the fun too!
**special note** And in case you are wondering. The first year we did this our budget for the event was $20.00 total. My husband took the boys to buy gifts for the girls and I took the girls to buy for the boys. We had so much fun! The girls received cute little socks and the boys received baseball cards and a rescue hero on a clearance rack. They now save for this day and it has taught them to appreciate what is bought so much more.

9) Our tree usually goes up the first week in December. My home decor for many years was very simple. We collect an ornament each year hopefully representing some special meaning. My kids each have a box with their own ornaments and they enjoy taking each one out and talking about what each one means as they put it on the tree. This year I found cute wooden sled ornaments for the boys and wooden ice skates for the girls in hopes of a White Christmas!

10) My husband always has some type of Christmas service at church and of course we all enjoy it very much.

Here are some new traditions for this year:

11) I bought "The Christmas Carol" from Focus on the Family Radio Theatre Programs on CD. One night next week I want to gather some pillows, light the candles, and sit on the floor and listen to the story.

12) My husband took two of our children to see "The Nativity" and said it was excellent. I hope to see it soon. Watching this on DVD could be a great tradition in the future.

13) And finally, a word of caution. Traditions should be there for our benefit and enjoyment. They should not rule us, but we should rule them. This is why ours can change and do. They should not be based on what we have or able to purchase, but rather on spending time with one another. When I had three children five and under it looked very different than it does today. It is not about the doing, but enjoying the time spent together and giving and receiving the message of hope in Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

Christmas 2004

For more Wordless Wednesday go to 5minutes4mom

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Silent Night

Ten years ago I attended a Christmas tea and was privileged to hear Rebecca Hayford Bauer share about her own family traditions and Christmas celebrations. I went home that evening with two new books in hand which I was excited to share with my family,
Just 25 Days till Christmas, an advent celebration for the entire family, and Seasons of Praise, a 52 week worship celebration for the family.
These books are beautifully written and illustrated but most importantly filled with God's word to be used as a sure foundation on which to build your life and your home. These books have allowed us to experience God's presence in our home through Scripture and stories, as well as favorite hymns and choruses. One of my favorite features of the books is the history she gives on many of my favorite Christmas carols. Christmas music is one of my favorite things about Christmas. It would be difficult to pick a favorite carol, but "Silent Night" would be high on my list. This is an excerpt of what she shares about this beautiful song.

I just can't sing the song "Silent Night" without thinking of snow! First of all, snow kind of muffles sound, so if you're in snow, it really is quiet! This song was also written in "snow season" in the Alps where Father Joseph Mohr lived. Right before Christmas, the organ in the church he pastored had broken. So that his congregation would still have special music for the Christmas Eve service, he decided to write a song. His friend, Franz Gruber, wrote the music, and with just a guitar, they sang their new song Christmas 1818. But there's a third reason that I think of snow when I sing "Silent Night," and it's found in the third verse. It describes Jesus as "love's pure light" and that with His coming we now see "the dawn of redeeming grace," Jesus came to bring us the light that would show the way back to God.

What does that have to do with snow? Well, the way back to God comes through the forgiveness of sins. If we believe in Jesus, the Bible says that God will forgive us. No matter what we've done, no matter how stained our hearts have become through the disobedient and wrong things we've done, the Lord will forgive us and make us clean.

Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come and let's think about this together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool

So the next time you are enjoying the sounds of Christmas music or welcoming the quiet beauty of a snowfall think of the words of "Silent Night" and the message of hope and love this song brings.

This book would make a wonderful gift to someone special!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Are these my kids?

Tonight my husband and I went out to do some Christmas shopping and we left our kids at home with our fifteen year old daughter in charge. We gave them some simple instructions; clear the table after you finish eating, put the baby to bed at 7pm, everyone may go downstairs together and watch Polar Express after dinner and finally, call us if there are any problems. We were gone three hours and came home to this

Fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and milk complete with a sign (click on the picture to read what they wrote). But the best part was this.....NO DISHES AFTER ALL THE BAKING.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Do not lose heart!

Are you feeling discouraged today? Or are you passing through a time of real distress? Will you let me share with you what has helped me so often?

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the strength of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me
To eat up my flesh,
My enemies and foes,
They stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear;
Though war may rise against me,
In this I will be confident.

One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.

And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me;
Therefore I will offer sacrifices of joy in His tabernacle;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.
When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, LORD, I will seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.
When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the LORD will take care of me.

Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.
Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries;
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27 (NKJ)

Lord, you are my hope and my strength! I will not lose heart that I may see your goodness!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Coleman

Two years ago I sat on the edge of my bed waiting for my husband to finish his shower. My bag was packed and I was ready to head out for the hospital. I opened my bible to where I had been studying and began reading Isaiah 49:1-2:

Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the LORD called me;
from my birth he has made mention of my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.

The words in Isaiah 49, "Before I was born the Lord called me," resonated in my heart and mind. I had been praying scripture over my baby throughout my pregnancy but God led me to a verse that was imensely personal. And remember my prayer before the birth of my fourth child, "thank you Lord for my quiver is full"; the words "in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver". I suddenly realized that this one was hidden in God's quiver. God had hid this one. All of my insignificant worries and preconceived notions suddenly washed away like running water.

I began to weep at God's soverign grace in my life. I went to the hospital that morning with new strength. I quietly wept before the Lord for my doubt, worry, and fear. The verse in Isaiah 55 which says, For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. kept playing over and over in my mind.

Coleman arrived two years ago today at 8:02am. He weighed 7lbs 15oz. and was perfectly healthy. Everything went well and I was home in a few days. God has taught me so much through this little child. Coleman has brought us so much joy! They all do! Yes, somedays I feel like I am living in two different worlds with a teenager down to a toddler, but I thank God for ignoring my prayers and directing my life according to His plans.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wordless Wednesday

His birth announcement read:
"Our family has grown by two feet"

More Wordless Wednesday at 5minutes4mom

**special note** based on some of the comments I thought I would make it known those little feet will be "2" tomorrow. I decided to post this picture in honor of his birth story. Although the thought of some new little feet to kiss might be fun ...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A Baby Story - continued

For a few months I had been praying for a gal in our church who was trying to get pregnant. She had experienced a miscarriage (maybe several) and she so wanted to have a baby. One of my first thoughts was why me God and not her. How would I even begin to tell her I was expecting a baby. I am not proud of the thoughts that ran through my mind or of the fear that I allowed to grip me. It took me over a month to share with someone other than my husband that I was pregnant. And then on Mother's Day my husband announced to our entire church that I was expecting. I felt a small sense of relief.

The next step was to find a doctor. Again, back up a few years. I was able to have the same doctor deliver all four of my children. I went to the same hospital and even had some of the same nurses each time. It was familiar and very comfortable. But in early 2001 we had moved eight hours away. God had led us to this small mountain community in the foothills of Northern California. We had lived in this new community for three years but I had no need for an OBGYN, I was not planning on another baby. I remember looking through my insurance book wondering who should I chose. After all, I was anticipating a doctor to give me the third degree, "you're how old, and you've had how many c-sections". I asked around and ended up in the office of Dr. Goddard. God knew exactly what I needed. When I told him of my concerns he proceeded to tell me that his mother had delivered him at the age of 45 and that he was not concerned in the least about another c-section, after all he said, "most of the work will be done by me, not you." The man had me laughing from the moment I stepped into the room until I left. When my blood pressure was taken for that first visit, it was high. I was so nervous. But when I left I knew that God had a plan. I didn't fully understand it, but I knew.

My pregnancy progressed as normal. My morning sickness was normal and seemed to disappear at around three months, but the first trimester tiredness never went away. I was tired until the very end. This was the most frustrating. After all I had four other children to take care of. It didn't take me long to recognize my limitations and after discussing it with my husband I removed myself from all areas of ministry. At the time I was overseeing many areas in our church. I was teaching a ladies bible study weekly, facilitating children's ministry on Sundays and Wednesdays and taking care of administration and other record keeping for the church. I distinctly remember one of the elders in our church commending me for my choice. His parents had become pastors when he was a young boy and although his dad was a wonderful pastor much of the family life he had previously enjoyed was no longer there due to the ministry. His remarks left an imprint on my heart.
I endured the continuous stream of comments when others would find out I was expecting number five. I remember one afternoon being at the post office with my than four year old son and he was whining about something and the lady at the counter telling me I was going to have my hands full when number "2" was born. I just smiled.

Throughout my pregnancy I had trouble imagining life with baby number five. How was I going to manage it all. I pondered questions in my heart like, "why did God chose to give me another child?" My closest friends were moving full force ahead with their lives. Their children were getting older and they were experiencing new seasons. In the meantime I continued on..many days feeling very much alone. My blood pressure was fine. I went through the usual procedures for being an older woman (I had already done this with #4) choosing not to have any tests and accepting what God would give us. In October 2004, my husband was at a Pastor's conference in Hawaii. It was while he was gone that my doctor and I agreed that my c-section would be scheduled for December 7th. One week before my due date.

The final weeks leading up to this day were filled with weekly visits for a stress test to the OB unit at the hospital. At one visit I was having contractions five minutes apart but they soon went away. I kept hoping that maybe he would come early. Thanksgiving came and went. I was ready. On one of my last visits to my doctor's office I could hear the nurse pleading my case to do the c-section earlier. I love that nurse. She was such a breath of fresh air each visit. This baby proved to be no different than the rest and on December 7, 2004 Coleman Christopher was born weighing 7lbs 15 oz.. Throughout my pregnancy I continually asked the Lord about this child. I will share on Thursday, Coleman's 2nd Birthday the verse and unspeakable peace God gave me the morning I was privileged to deliver my fifth child.

And the gal I had been praying for? When Coleman was born she was seven months pregnant with a little girl. Another beautiful miracle and gift from the Lord.

A Baby Story

This story of God's sovereign grace in my life actually begins June 28, 2000. It was the day before my fourth child was to be born. I had just finished dropping off my three older children at my parents home and was pulling into the driveway of our little home on Norwood Street. It was a hot June evening. I can remember the feeling of my shorts and t-shirt sticking to my body and the sound of the loose rocks on our driveway. As I turned the car off I prayed, "thank you Lord, for my quiver is full!" My fourth child was born the following day. Our family felt complete, two girls and two boys. At age 36, I was thankful for the gifts God had given me.

Fast forward to October 2003. I celebrated my 40th birthday. I clearly remember a phone call from my mother-in-law wishing me a happy birthday but also imparting a special blessing in my life as I entered my forties. She said they had proved to be the best years for her. She admonished me and encouraged me to embrace what was in front of me. I was and still am so thankful for my mother-in-law. I celebrated my birthday with a trip to New York City with my own mom. We had the most wonderful time together sharing four fun-filled days taking in as much as our time would allow of the city. It was truly a highlight for both of us and a wonderful way to begin a new season in my life.

Fast forward again to March 2004. I was privileged to attend a four day intensive with other Pastor's wives on Home Mentoring, based on Titus 2 in Ohio. It was life changing. I was ready to move forward with what I could sense the Lord was doing in my own heart.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." Isaiah 55:8

Four weeks later at the age of forty I found myself sitting at an ice skating rink on my daughter's 9th birthday watching the rest of my family skate in utter disbelief at the two pink lines I had observed that morning.

to be continued...

Monday, December 04, 2006

I accept my cup

I wrote these words several years ago in the margin of Linda Dillow's book "Calm My Anxious Heart". In fact I have re-read the book a few times and came to the same conclusion. "I like control!" As a result I memorized two scriptures, the first is 1 Timothy 6:15, (which Linda Dillow quotes in her book as two of the scriptures she memorized) the blessed controller of all things, the king over all kings and the master of all masters.

I continually want to place myself on the throne. I want to plan, prepare, and know what is expected and what should be done in all situations at all times. I even want answers for why certain things have occurred in my life and why other things haven't. Hasn't this been the battle from the beginning? I want to be like God. All this effort and I still come up short. I am still frustrated at my own efforts and than of all things I begin to blame God for why things are such a mess in my own heart.

I must continually go back to the scripture "He is the blessed controller of all things" and according to Psalm 16:5,
Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure.

Linda Dillow in her book says this, "Every cup-whether dainty china or rouch-hewn pottery- has a handle. God has placed our portion in our cup. We either choose to grasp it by the handle and lift it to Him, saying, "I accept my portion; I accept this cup," or we choose to smash our cup to pieces, saying, "God, I refuse my portion. This cup is not the right size for me and I don't like what You've put in it. I'll control my life myself."

I accept my cup. We all have that cup that we are drawn to. It is usually not the most attractive cup, or the most expensive. Most of the time it is a bit worn, but it is faithful. It brings a sense of warmth when we hold it. God I want to be a cup, not as the world sees, but one that brings glory to You and accepts the portion You give.

Friday, December 01, 2006

How far would you go?

It happened at 8:10pm last night. The kids were bathed and ready for bed. My oldest daughter was working on a school project. We were all sitting snugly together watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel. It was one of their segments that turned my husband and I into irrational, unbelievable, and maybe a bit irresponsible parents. They were explaining how Krispy Kreme donuts were made, when one of the kids said, "remember when we used to go to Krispy Kreme in our pajamas and eat donuts and milk in the car." My husband looked at me and I could read his mind, "I wonder where the closet Krispy Kreme donut shop is?", so I went to google and asked. No problem I thought it is only 47 miles away. Several years ago we waited in line at 9pm at night for over an hour to experience our first Krispy Kreme donut, so what would the difference be if we drove an hour to experience a Krispy Kreme? I shared the information with my husband and he announced loudly, "everyone grab your slippers and a blanket and get in the car." The roar of disbelief and excitement forced us to move quickly turning out lights and grabbing coats and blankets. And there we were heading on a 47 mile drive at 8:24pm for a donut and to top it off it was a school night. The giggles, the laughter, the excitement replaced any amount of money it cost to drive the distance. We ate donuts and drank milk in the car at about 9:40pm. Even the baby woke up and ate a half of donut.

It was worth the $15.00 in donuts and milk, and who knows what it cost in gas. I am sure the kids will never forget the night we spontaneously went on an almost 100 mile round trip for a donut. I know I won't!