Friday, December 16, 2011

A few more of my favorite things...

So, I recently shared about "bows" being one of my favorite things and you can read about it here. But yesterday, when a friend complimented my snowflake pin, she said, "You should blog about that" after she heard the story.

Here I am with SNOWFLAKES...another one of my favorite things.

The story goes that in 1992 when I met my husband, Jason, we shared our first kiss at Concord College. We can remember the exact location in the science building parking lot and what happened next...it started snowing! This is no Hallmark movie friends, it really happened!

That year, we made ornaments for each other and one was a snowflake I painted. This is the ornament that started it ALL!
The idea caught on. We started exchanging snowflake ornaments every year. Now, almost 20 years later, we have a wonderful marriage, a tree full of snowflake ornaments, and a son to share them with.

There aren't really any rules, but it goes something like this...each of us picks out the other a snowflake ornament in secret, wraps it up as a Christmas gift, and we usually open them on Christmas Eve. Then, after Christmas, each snowflake is delicately wrapped in tissue paper, put into a zip lock bag, with an index card filled-out sharing who it was to, who it was from, a short description of the snowflakes (so we can can tell them apart), and any reason it was chosen for the other. Then, each year as we trim the tree, we get out our snowflakes and read the cards back to each other.

Here are a few of my favorite ones...

TO: April
FROM: Jason
Golden snowflake with a picture of our ultrasound of Jeremiah
"Celebrating our first Christmas as parents with our GIFT, Jeremiah!"
TO: Jason
FROM: April
Red and white felt snowflake
"Jason's new job as an elementary school principal and "Daddy" has made him soft around the edges."
TO: Jason
FROM: April
Snowflake Bell
"Honoring Jason's mom's passing and a wonderful life...When do "angels" really get their wings?"

TO: April
FROM: Jason
Snowflake Jingle Bells
"Having our son in preschool has given us a lot to make a joyful noise about!"


...just a few of my favorite things. I could go on and on. Somewhere in the mix, Jason started picking up snowflake pins that I wear through the holidays. Each is sentimental (although not wrapped in tissue and kept in a zip lock bag with an index card - LOL!) Thanks for encouraging me to share Amanda!

Now, I have a question for all of you. I want to hear from you. As we celebrate God's gift to the entire world, His Son Jesus, who hung on a tree, displaying God's love to forgive us of our sin, and His power to rise again from death that we might have life abundantly...what has that life looked like this past year? If Jason's snowflake ornaments, remind me of our life celebrated together and of his love for me, what would God's ornament to you look like from this past year?

A heart as He reminded you of His Love? A dove symbolic of His Peace? A smiley face as you experienced His Joy? A lamp to remind you to be is His Light?

Think about it and let me know what you come up with. What God hung on the tree for us is ETERNAL, no seasonal and He is ever faithful to remind us. Celebrate Him!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bows...are a few of my favoirite things!

Hi Friends,

Remember me?! As our family has faced lots of transition and illness since school started, I have struggled to continue to post to my blog. But as recent events over the weekend displayed God's faithfulness, I had to visit and share with you.

On Friday, I received an e-mail from a friend who is leading me and a few girlfriends in Bible Study. She was reminding us to not get lost in the stressfulness of the holidays. I replied with some thoughts that had been stirring in my heart all week. I had them scribbled down on the back of an envelope by my night stand with an orange felt pen (Writer friends, you understand, right?)

I love to gift wrap. In my opinion the way a gift is wrapped and how it is given is just as important as what is inside. So, I take my time wrapping and love cloth and hand tied bows instead of the adhesive...what a display of beauty, time, and concentration!

But don't let that EVER stop ya from sharing a gift with me (HA HA) because, in the hussell and bussell of Christmas, it never fails that I end up grabbing a couple of the plastic adhesive bows and slapping them on a gifts. Never fails. You know the feeling...not really what I wanted to do, but I didn't WISELY plan or prepare for what my heart really wanted to do.

Now, think of the WISE men.



As they really gave their gifts to the KING, not just to Mary and Joseph, how did they do it? Bow, is my answer. Not just any person was born, Jesus Christ was named King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They had made such plans and preparations following the star, traveled so long and come so far to find HIM, my heart (and the Word) tells me they didn't stand at the door and offer the gift to the parents.

The WISE men HAD TO enter the place, come close to Jesus, take time after preparations and planning, and bow, as they presented their gifts.

Now, I am not going to get all tied up about the timing of when they got to Jesus, was it right away or 2 years later. Should they really go with the nativity set or not.... The story of their gift giving to Jesus is in the Word and I just want to learn from their humble hearts, sacrificial time, concentrated effort, and gift giving. Even Herod told them to go and "seek diligently" (Matt. 2:8), but we all know his heart! But the whole reason the wise followed the light, came to Jesus, gathered in His Name was "we have come to worship Him" (Matthew 2:2). I will admit, I don't really think of "worship" when we are under the tree? So, when they did arrive there on that day, to celebrate the birth of the King, look at what it says "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh" (Matthew 2:11).

We always pray before opening gifts, trying to keep Christ in Christmas, but this year, before the first bow is
given, I think I will invite my family to pray and share "a bow" with me to give Christ our worship as a gift this year, the first gift....a real bow, not just our heads in prayer, but our whole beings (on bended knee) in worship before God to truly thank Him for the gift of His Son.

Then, maybe after all the adhesive bows are gone, that one bow will stick in our hearts!


As Friday came to an end, I thought, "I will, I will" when another girlfriend replied to me saying, "you must blog this BIG time!" So just imagine my surprise (and conviction) when the VERY NEXT day came along and Saturday brought this gift of pose-able action figures for our son, Jeremiah, from his Great Aunt Gerry.




Yep, I fell down in the floor and admired each of the 12 pieces. I bended their knees...even the camels and took this picture for you! Thanks Aunt Gerry...it was not only a gift to Jeremiah this year, but an encouragement to me! And to my girlfriends who encourage me to write and post on the blog...that is a gift I am thankful for, too. Merry Christmas, I am so glad that we share our gifts and present them to Christ first, then others.


Have a Worship-Filled Christmas,


April

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Student Becomes The Master, She is!

So, there was a whole lotta shakin' goin' on today, friends!

Where were you on August 23, 2011, the day that the earthquake hit Virginia? That is my new question!

Well, as for me, I was here at the computer in our home office downstairs and I simply thought I was loosing my mind. The house creaked and made noises, the windows sounded like they do in a hard mountain storm, and I saw the flat screen computer monitor shaking and I felt unbalanced...more than on my most frazzled day. You know what I am talking about Shannon! I shared with a friend that it felt like when you are a little girl playing outside and you twirl around and around making your dress fly, then stop. You know, that dizzy feeling? That was me at 1:51 p.m. today, August 23, 2011.

Thanks for those who called and checked on me or sent notes on-line. :) God blessed us all and we are fine!

But, to be honest, I kinda panicked and called my hubby at work and said I thought something was wrong with the house like a water line ruptured or gas line exploded. I was even leaving a message on a voicemail when I heard the news just moments later and I said, "I was just in an earthquake" and hung up. HA! I did call back later and explain. :)

I was fine, but what an out of control experience! Not just physically, but emotionally. I did mention that our son, Jeremiah, just started Kindergarten, didn't I? Oh my! Just thinking about him at school without me was overwhelming! It was those "first day of school feelings" all over again. Was he at recess? Did he feel it? Did it scare him? Is he ok? Is he ok? Is he ok?

You know why cell phones were jammed this afternoon, don't you? Mommas!! Because mommas were checking on their once kindergartners no doubt!

Tonight I am praising God for another reminder, one that registered 5.8, that He is the one who moves Heaven and Earth and cares for those who dwell there. Thank you God that we are never ever too far out of Your Reach, even when our kindergartners or college freshman are. Whew!

But I have to share this story about the end of the day. I was on FB and checking on friends and their funny post about the day. Everything from Jerry Lee Lewis's song to posts about "shaking things up" made me finally laugh about it. But then, sweet Rebecca...
...I read about her "EE" Earthquake Experience from early at the high school (we just finished prayin' her into cosmetology class her Junior year) and she just blew me away. She instantly shared that today's events made her think of Matthew 24:6-13.

Ummm...I wasn't totally sure what that reference was, so I had to look it up before I could reply. From verse 7 and 13, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places...but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved."

I sat at my computer and just smiled. Rebecca, a high school Junior, ministered to me today...her soon to be Soul Surfer Bible Study leader.

This must have been what Yoda felt like with Luke Skywalker (new craze at our house...thanks McDonald's Happy Meals!). Hey Rebecca, you wanna teach this year? Hey wait, she did last year and will be this year some nights with Kaitlyn and Bethany, too! WOO HOO! Yep! Our class even has a "Bethany!"

Thank you for the reminder of verse 13, Rebecca. "But the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." A gentle reminder that when everything around us shakes, crumbles, falls, collapses, cracks, gives way, and trembles...AND it will...we have a PROMISE to CLAIM that if we stand firm on the name of Jesus, stand firm in Him and His promises, we will be saved..from it all.

Where were you on August 23, 2011? I was in the Word with Rebecca! Thank you, friend!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Beginning or Ending?!

Under this picture of my son's first day of school, I wrote, Ecclesiastes 3:4 "a time to weep, and a time to laugh." Which is it, friends? Are we beginning or ending?

We don't always want to be in "transition," do we? That is like riding the ups and downs of ocean waves and never overcoming the fear to mount one and surf. Or never being courageous enough to wipe out and let a ride end even if you have a great faith story to tell. Yep, still prepping for our Soul Surfer Bible Study.

Seriously though, if I hear the word "transition" one more time in our house, I might scream or go grab a bar of soap...FOR ME!

Although God graces and comforts during transition, He even calls us to it, that is not all He has for us. We have to join Him in our endings and beginnings.

There has been so much transition in my life, (NO! NOT THE SOAP!). I am grateful for long distance friends who share and close friends who care. Recently, two friends who fall into both categories, have ministered to me.

A dear friend of mine just transformed her classroom theme from bees to frogs. We are "Coyotes" through and through around here. ;) Anyway, she recently shared that she was using the word "busy" too much.

How many of us do that?! How are you, they ask. I am good, just super busy, we answer. This year, the bees have flown away from my friend and the frogs have leaped in! She isn't even using the "B" word. What a commitment! Now, only replacing the old word with "fruitful." I love that, friend! Who would ever want to be shhh! b-u-s-y swimming a tadpole's life without the transforming hope and power of hopping onto a blooming blessing?

Thank you for modeling how to "end" something, friend.

Another friend and I grabbed a few minutes over the phone this week and I said the word "prune" and she began telling me about this message she listened to 3 times! As "fruitful" and "fruit-filled" as she is, what would make her want to begin watching something 3 times!?

I began to get was curious and hit the "arrow" button. You know, the one that points you in a new direction.

What an awesome message from Dr. Henry Cloud that he recently gave about "Necessary Endings" at Willow Creek Community Church! He knows all about letting things end, even pruning them, so new things can begin.

Thank you for modeling how to "begin" something great, friend.

With so many HUGE things going on in my life right now, I need to take a knee. I need to end how I have been praying, and begin praying differently.

Father, help me support and encourage my husband as his job ends and he begins something new. Give me what can help him.

Father, I praise you for 5 and 1/2 years at home! As they come to an end and new opportunities are beginning, let me only say "YES" to what you are saying "YES" to. Give me new ears.

Father, I ask for wisdom at church as one ministry ends and a new one begins. Both "goodbyes" and "hellos" can be difficult.

Father, I thank you that our Wed. Night Bible Study ended. Thank you that we waited and You have given us something new to begin now. I am so excited to dive in!

Father, for my deepest needs, let me know Your Love enough and trust You enough to fill them. Teach me that ending
does not have to leave me empty. Your filling is not a beginning, but better. It is complete.

So, what about you?

Dr. Cloud has some great questions to ask you. If you are interested in listening you can click here. If you are in a tran....., I mean, if you are not too b...... Ummm, let's just say, I'm ending the blog post so that you can watch now and let God begin to speak to you.

Working on my first assignment of the school year,
April

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Waves

Grateful for the sunshine, the smell of morning, and the cool air, we walked up to the corner of the yard.

We heard the rumble of the engine before we saw the yellow of the school bus.

That's when it happened, friend.

My son, Jeremiah, urgently almost breathlessly said, "I wanna pray!" Didn't we just do that last night and this morning? The bus was turning the corner and my kindergartner dropped to both knees...on the street....in his new jeans, and prayed for his day. Got up, climbed on board, took his seat, and went to his first day of school.

I have never seen someone begin their day more humble.

What is a momma to do? Wave.

Recently, I have been doing a lot of reading about waves as we gear up for our teenage girls Bible Study on Wednesday nights. How can you do the new Soul Surfer Bible Study without talking about waves, right?! But I was struck by the description of how from shore, surfers look like they are just sitting out in the middle of the water on their boards and doing nothing, but they are. They are watching waves come and go. As they are moved up and down in the water, they wait for the right one. They wait until they "feel" the right wave arrives, then they ride it.

My wave came today. I have been preparing, watching, teaching, instilling, and praying. Yes, there have been many ups and downs as I have stayed home for 5 1/2 years. But, I knew this day would come. I have felt the rise in the tide this summer...tying shoes, picking out what he thinks matches, not asking for help in the bathroom, sharing opinions and even asking the hard questions. Friends, that big WAVE came today.

God has waves for each of us. Some are meant to just ebb on by...not all are ours. Others are meant to swell and specifically train us. A few...those few amazing ones are meant to be enjoyed, ridden, and rejoiced in. Today, tasting the salt water of my own tears, I trust in Jesus. I trust He is preparing not just me to be the mom that He has called me to be, but I trust that He is preparing Jeremiah.

Ride on, Jeremiah. You are called to ride waves that arrive for you, buddy. Each wave is different. You won't score perfect 10's every time. God provides and appoints; Momma stand on the shore and WAVEs. My heart swells with love for you today, son.

Friend, are you riding the right wave for you? Praise God if you are. But if not, stop. Find God's best for your life. Learn to wait on Him and for His plans. Ask Him to teach you and give you eyes to see it, even if it far off on the horizon. Trust in Jesus.

If you are like my friends moving to South Dakota, and it is rough, choppy, and you are barely hanging on. Trust in Jesus.

But, if you feel like you are sitting in the middle of the Pacific (and have been) waiting on "the big one," remember you would not want to be any other place when God sends it to you. So, Trust in Jesus.

No matter your answer, today this is for me and for you...


Waving, but Trusting More,
April

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Milestones & Waterfalls

Have you ever casually taken "that" picture while on vacation only to realize later that you hold in you hands "that" one snapshot that captures everything?

The week did not start out very good. It was the day before I was suppose to send an ENTIRE week with my 3 younger brothers for the first time EVER. If you really know me you know the planning list was long, the activity list was thorough, but the festive grocery list was even longer! So, what started out to be a routine run through the ATM lane, turned in to a $2,000 body repair on our mini van. The ATM ticket flew out of the machine, the door was opened, the car was not in park, and I heard "CRUNCH!"

Needless to say, that is not how I wanted to start one of the most important weeks of the year. My 3 brothers are 12, 11, and 9. We have spent the last 10 years building a loving and close tie despite living 2 hours away from each other. I have seen them graduate elementary school, be baptized, and laugh until milk comes out of their noses, and meet for traditional birthday lunch dates. But, how would I cope with 4 boys (including my own) under the age of 12 for a week with NO VAN!

As my hubby met me at the bank, handled all the calls with the insurance company, body shop, and car rental agency, I prayed and told the Lord that "Satan would not steal my joy!" and whispered "and please don't let him nab my peace!" UGH! I had to rely on faith that He would control this long awaited time with my younger brothers, even if I could not.

The first day = Albert and I sat on the carpet and played board games while my Jeremiah napped. In my first turn, I drew the letters S H A L O M. I felt God speak to me and reassure me that He provided "peace" like picking up letters off the floor during a game of "UPwords."

The fifth day = We hiked the Cascades. I have blogged about it before. But this time, we were Geocaching and the boys were loving it! Me? I was "glissening!" :)
(Jackson, Albert, Nicholas, me, and my Jeremiah)

I snapped a couple of pictures thinking I wanted to capture the "fun" we were having. You know, 5 miles of hiking for the girl who doesn't want to "go" in the woods. Well, that failed because after a bottle of water, I HAD TO GO! The surprise creek crossing that had me whining about having to take off my shoes and socks and go BAREFOOT...we did that TWICE! And when I said, "Well, I guess we are "MAKIN' MEMORIES!" That became the chant of the day well before we found the Geocache...and it was true!
(What treasure! Hubby & Son at bottom,
Brothers Michael, Albert, Nicholas and Jackson at top clockwise)

The eighth day = I cried the whole way home after dropping them off. Off and on, I would reminisce and waves of emotions would just wash over me. Any of you traveling through Virginia today, who passed that lady who looked like she was crying a waterfall, that was ME! There was a mix of gushing happy tears right beside cascading sad ones. I was glad that I was in one car and my hubby was in the rental. Sometimes a girl just has to cry and get it all out. In that moment, I thanked God for not having the mini van, having the time with my brothers, and milestone memories of great times with my family.

Then, if you know how good God is, this won't surprise you, when I got home, I found out that my first story of hiking the Cascades from last October had been published on the Lies Young Women Believe blog. (Click here to read.) What joy! What celebration! What love that my Father had lavished on me today! When I got the news, I thought back to this picture I had taken of the trail marker from the hike. It was this huge rock with an arrow pointing forward, marking the right path. I thought of Psalm 18 where God is praised as being My Rock. Verses 1-3 shower us with these words, "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

The van is still in the shop. The rental is still in the driveway. And, the house is quiet and I miss all the laughter and fun. But, what a milestone this week has been in my life knowing that joy can stay and peace can stand on Our Rock, even when we feel rocky.

Which way is He pointing you? Are you being asked to relinquish control of your lists? Take off your shoes and cross shallow or deep places? Or just love and make memories? Ask yourself this, Psalm 18:31, "And who is the Rock except our God?"

Look to Him to point you in ALL the right directions...and watch out for ATM lanes! :)

A special loving thank you to Jon and Susie for letting the boys stay with us. I could not have done it with out my hubby's help and week of vacation. It was definitely a milestone for me and a cascade of blessing!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mmm...Mmmm...Good! May is over!

Hello Dear Friend, June! I welcome your days!

When I was young, I CANNOT count the number of times I would introduce myself, "Hi, I am April!" only to hear, "Really? Where are May and June?" HA HA, big laughs...not after the 5,000th time!

Well, to all those that have shared that famous line, let me just tell you that this APRIL is glad that MAY is gone and JUNE is here! Amen?!

Whew...I don't know about you, but May was a whirlwind! I know, I know, some thought I was cyberfasting, others thought that I was protesting social media as some grand political or moral statement, then I was even asked, "Have you disappeared?!" Ummm, not according to my calendar! :) The truth is, I just got overwhelmed and busy.

Right now, I am sitting in our NEW deck furniture listening to crickets with rope lighting illuminating the laptop. Mmmm...Mmmm...Good! Not only am I welcoming a new month, but a fresh season. Fresh veggies! Fresh fruits! Fresh air! And a fresh page on the calendar! Welcome June!

Would you like to see where May went?

May was filled-in with Mother's Day, preschool activities, T-ball,

a speaking opportunity at a Mother/Daughter Tea,

the end of our first girls' Bible Study (with a great teaching team by the way),

Birthday Traditions,Preschool program (see red-headed clown) and graduation (see red-headed sweetheart), 2 shots at Jeremiah's 5 year check-up,



our 13th anniversary (...thus the new deck furniture)

and the most demanding time of the year for my Hubcap's job...just to name a few things on the Family Calendar. Look or sound familiar?

There was just so much going on, I had to focus on what was important and immediate. At the start of the month with several doctor appts. and tests, I even took a break from blogging, Facebook, and things that I could, when I was having some tingling and numbness in my face. Praise the Lord, I got a clean bill of health and have been feeling fine with no more symptoms. All is well, but later this summer I will follow-up with the neurologist to see if any more migrane symptoms have continued.

So, what is so fresh about June, you ask?

I wrote this verse on Jeremiah's preschool graduation inviations to go along with a poem that was printed, ..."Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Ps. 90:12). So with that in mind, I want to have more of a quality summer, than a quantity one. Are you in?!

I counted there are 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Did you know that? So, with school starting well before that, I want to be intentional about these days that I have with my family (specifically with Jeremiah before Kindergarten).

In the coming days, I hope to share about teaching Jeremiah to read (we have been working on Mmmmm...Mmmmm, as you might have guessed), our Friday Faith-Based Field Trips, family visits, and reflecting on the Liberty Home Bible Insitute Pogram as I take my last two exams. We focus so much on timing and planning, and God's Word does tell us to be mindful of our days, but so that they mmmm...mmmm...may bring us wisdom, not weariness.

So, join us for a FUN summer!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

HisStory is the Making!

Hi Friends,

In honor of Jeremiah's brithday, I am reposting his story. It was 5 years ago today that he came into my life and displayed that God keeps His promises.




Friday, I combed my little guy's hair, ironed his shirt, and washed toothpaste out of the corners of his mouth. It was picture day! At virtually the same time that I was at my first a Kindergarten Open House as a prospective parent, Jeremiah posed in his cap and gown as a soon to be Preschool Graduate! A day with a little tear in my eye, but a great day to rejoice.

The big block letters on his photo order form stood out to me, I thought...J E R E M I A H.

If you don't mind, I'm going to grab some tissues (sniff*sniff) and tell you the story of how Jeremiah got his name. Many friends have heard the story before, but I have never "written" it. Join me as I give God praise for answering me like only He could...and still continues to do.

This is the chair that I sat in when I asked God to speak to me.


The house was hot. Sun came in every window and winds blew the two large maples in our yard. Yes, it was spring, but I knew no life was in me. I thought it was cruel humor to endure our second miscarriage on April Fool's Day. I vividly remember exactly what the picture looked like on the ultrasound monitor that day. Many days after that, I don't remember, but there is this one....

I was angry. I had done all this before. I had cried until I had no more tears. I accepted God's sovereignty and comfort last time. I had made the phone calls just a year and half ago. I had endured the pain before. But again! Really?!

The house was quiet except for my footsteps, I was stomping toward our dining room table. I grabbed my Bible and a concordance, and sat and cried in my tattered bath robe. Not little light tears, but the huge hot ones that burn when they run down your contorted cheeks. Why would we have to endure this again?

As I LOUDLY poured out tears and my heart, I TOLD God, "I am not getting up from this table...I WILL NOT get up from this table until you tell me how I am suppose to go on with so much sorrow!! Until YOU tell me everything I need to know about MOURNING and how to get over it, I will not move!!" And I meant it!

I was worried that I would never stop crying.

I searched, read, and wrote out every verse in the Bible that had to do with mourning. I still have the papers. God loved me enough to not focus on my tone or attitude, but on my heart. I was so hurt and needed comforting like no other time in my life. Verse after verse, I was reading but nothing was resonating with me. I wrote and read half the day. Worried that my grief was immovable, I was feeling hopeless. However, in His Wisdom, He lead me to words that I needed to hear.

For the second or third time, I read Jeremiah 31:13, "...for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow."

I wiped my eyes and asked, does it really say, MAKE THEM REJOICE
Yes!
With that I had no choice. I could not carry the grief, sorrow, and mourning. It was too great to bear. But, if God said that HE would turn it into joy and HE would MAKE me rejoice, then I would get up from the table and TRUST. I did.

He did not tell me how I would rejoice, He just told me that I would. And at that time, that was enough.

For over a year through tons of blood work, lots of testing, hope in a third pregnancy, daily Heparin injections, an inuetero EKG, ultrasounds, biophysical profile ultrasounds, 6 doctor appointments EACH week for the last 6 weeks, fatal monitoring, and an inducted pregnancy, I TRUSTED God's promise from that verse EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY.

In the throws of labor, breathlessly I wanted to tell my story. No surprise if you know me, right?! I hollered (yes, "hollered") at the doctor to "come here, I want to tell you something!" I laugh now, but at the time I was serious! I made him come all the way up to my head and looked him in the eye and said, "We don't know if this is a boy or a girl, but I want to tell you if it is a girl, her name will be JOY and if it is a boy then his name with be JEREMIAH because after our second child died, God spoke from Jeremiah 31:13 and said...." There were tears in that room, too

My friends, get a kick out me sharing that when they laid Jeremiah on my chest for the first time, I erupted in the Doxology..."Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!" I didn't even leave off the "Ahhhhhhhhmen!"

He caused me to rejoice.

Today, look who sits in that chair ready for picture day.
I guess mommas never really stop crying.

God, thank you for collecting my "happy tears" in the same bottle as the sad ones.

Just this week, I was blessed and excited to have a friend share a new verse from Jeremiah 23:29 with me, "'Is not my word like fire,' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'"

Again, I answer "YES!"

That verse in the chair at the dining room table was the hammer that broke through my grief and built up my trust. What is yours?

I never assume that my blog is of any new revelation. All wisdom and revelation is from the Father through the Holy Spirit. I just share stories of how I see God in my daily walk with Him offer a blog in praise. But if you are experiencing "rocks" in your life or in your heart today, I pray that the Word will break them.

Father, for all the women who have children in your arms, I pray and ask that you comfort those parents, mommies and daddies, on special days and in their tender times. Illuminate your Word in their Wilderness as you did for Jesus. For those facing adoption, Father make a way for them to be Your Hands and Feet to your precious creations, not only do you know where they are, but you know the hairs on their heads, and the arms you want to place them in. Hold them tight until you are able to unit them with their parents. Thank you for the special place we have in You, where we abide and know only love and acceptance. In name of My Rock, Redeemer, and ever Restorer Jesus, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmen.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I Made Him Cry!

Friends,

Have you ever made a child cry?

No, not as a result of discipline or consequences, but from merely playing with them?!
I did today...and felt just AWFUL.

I was playing pretend and made my little boy cry! Yet again, it was our son, Jeremiah (ironically called the "Weeping Prophet" in the Bible by scholars) who displayed Jesus' love for me in a HUGE way during our playtime together. Here is a little view for you and a lifetime lesson for me....

Playtime was on the agenda today for sure! See, yesterday, I was gone all day visiting new friends (Hi!) in North Carolina. However, that did not stop the BIG news of a new play sword being purchased reaching me before I even made it home! I have not figured out if Jeremiah wears a belt every day because of his amazing fashion sense just shy of 5 years old, or that is just how he can wear his sword and sheath all day. With my guess on the latter, and after drawing chalk castles and riding 3-wheeled horses, we created our scene.

The railing to our steps was the first dungeon.


And the second, was behind an old wooden chair.


In full character, I ran between the two calling to "the guard." First, I needed water, then I took a chance asking for a banana split which was served with a kind, "I even put extra bananas in it for ya!"

How sweet is that?! I know it only makes this story THAT much worse...or EVEN better, you'll have to decide!

So, the "convicted" from behind the stair railing called, "Guard! I must tell you. I took my friend's toy and I am so very sorry, I just feel plain awful about it, will you forgive me and set me free so I can go apologize to her?" The guard pulls his brand new, plastic, silver, made in China, sword out of the sheath and cuts the lock off of my handcuffs and says, "Sure, you can go to forgive her. You are free!"

With a proud guard placing his sword back in the sheath, I ran over behind the chair and called, "Guaaarrrrdddd! Now I want out! And I want out NOW! I am not sorry for bonking my friend on the head. Can I go free?" The guard answers in the same sweet tone, "No. Sorry you can't."

But going for the Oscar nomination, I persist. "Guaaarrrddd, what happened to the other person? Gone? Set free? First I want some oatmeal this morning and then I want to be set free!" Further award-wining dialog shares, "No, I can't say that I am really sorry for bonking my friend on the head. Pleaseeeee set me free?"

That is when it happened, friends. My preschooler with an amazing imagination started to cry ever so loudly with immediate red cheeks, huge tears streaming down his face, and the saddest countenance ever! I rush from behind the chair, move it aside, swoop him up in my arms, and sat him on my lap. "What is wrong, Jeremiah?!" He then explains the theology of forgiveness to me without even a commentary.

"Momma, when you were saying those hurtful words, and not being loving, I could not set you free. You did not want to forgive, it just made me feel so sad in my heart." And with that, the crying continued harder and louder. As I sat there holding my sad little boy with a brand new sword, I thanked God Jeremiah knew more than me today, even if I made him cry.

Yes, friends, I really did need a preschooler to tell me how Jesus has been feeling lately in reGUARD to me. Jesus has wept at my own unwillingness. I have made Him cry. His SWORD not only frees but provides the instructions for a CLEAN get away. Like pages of a book left on a cell floor, I share with hopes that you'll read between the railings and see how much TRUTH was shared in this just 20 minute playtime...others may need a WAY out.

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15

"For the word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints, and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

"And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." Ephesians 6:17

"Which executeth judgement for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry, the Lord looseth the prisoners." Psalm 146:7

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." Isaiah 61:1

"Jesus said unto them, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14:6

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Repeats Encouraged!


Just for the virtual record, I think that this is the first time I have "linked" my blog! How fun is that!! I have cited several other sites often, but today is a first!

Sitting here with my barefeet on the coffee table and laptop where my little one loves to hear stories, I feel unusally authentic and very vulnerable at the same time by posting something I love on Thursday.

I wonder if it was on a Thurday that I first heard this song? Usually, Thursdays are awesome...wake up late, no preschool for our little guy, snuggle in pajamas..debate whether or not the entire day will be a PJ DAY, hot breakfast...or should I say BRUNCH, laundry, maybe blog during naptime, his not mine. But I can't remember. It probably wasn't because I distinctly remember being in the car all by myself (very rare!) and this song just grabbed me. When it finished playing, I actually moved my hand toward the dashboard to hit "repeat" and was so disappointed it was not a CD.

A new song by Christ August, 7 x 70, grabbed me the first time I heard it and has rung in my ears ever since. In the quiet stillness of a rainy Thursday evening, the power of this song to minister to me is what I love this Thursday.

Listen. Give it a try. "Repeats" encouraged...even 7 x 70!



Well, what did you think? Love to know. Please share a comment before leaving or click here to visit Diaper Diaries and see several other blogs and what they love this Thursday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jewels In the Palm of His Hand



So who doesn't know that I love jewelry?

Have I mentioned that?

All the girls in my Wednesday night Bible Study know about my "like" of this super cheap store in the mall that has the most fun and chunky necklaces, earrings, and huge rings for the amazing price of $3.99 each!! Love it all!!

That that is just my everyday jewelry. I have some very special pieces, too. My husband, Jason, buys me a very nice sentimental piece of jewelry for my treasured charm bracelet. Each year he chooses a charm that has a story behind it signifying the most important theme or event of that year. He writes that down and puts the story in the box, too.

There is a snowflake for our first kiss.

A pineapple for my 30th birthday in Colonial Willamsburg.

The cutest Charlie Brown Christmas tree for the only year we had a real one (a continuing debate!)...and I could go on and on.

My mom, brother, and mother-in-law have all contributed to my charm bracelet. But tonight, the neatest thing happened and I wanted to tell you!

We were in Bible Study and had the best time playing "Wind and the Willow" (trust game where you fall into other peoples' hands) to demonstrate trusting God's Will in our lives. If you have never played, I highly recommend it. We had a great time (Thank you Bethany, Rebecca, and Holly)!

Then, I looked down and saw this.

Right there was a baseball in a glove. All I could do was smile.
The charm's story: Jason and I did not know if we would have a boy or a girl as I was expecting. We called our baby, "Jellybean" for the entire pregnancy because that is what our child looked like on the first ultrasound. Well, the day after Jeremiah was born, I was holding him in my arms in the hospital room and my mother-in-law was so happy to finally know what color clothes to buy, she brought a baby blue outfit to the hospital for Jeremiah and a gift for me.

As I opened the jewelry box, I couldn't imagine what I would need...I had already received what I had wanted for so long.

I opened the box and there was a charm for my bracelet...a baseball in the center of a glove. April 20, 2006, I became a momma to a little baby boy!! I so remember the pride of that moment.

This was especially meaningful to me tonight because Jeremiah's first official T-ball practice is tomorrow and my mother-in-law passed away almost two years ago. We all still miss her. I couldn't help but just stare. I had had this on ALL day and I just saw it then.

I have joked about wearing "red socks" to be a true Team Mom...complete with red outfit and red ribbon in my ponytail, buying Big League Chew to celebrate a good first practice, and having hot dogs for dinner. But now, I can't forget to wear my bracelet to celebrate a significant day with my son. Thank you, Vonnie.

Yep, Isaiah 49:16 is not only prophetic, but a baseball verse..."See, I have engraved you in the palm of My Hands."

Just like we were talking about at the conclusion of our Bible Study, where else would you want to be, but at the center of God's Will? Who can pluck you out of of the Heavenly Father's Hand, if you know Jesus? Do you rest in knowing that God has His Hand on you? Always?

Pray with me.

Father, as we rest in you, may we fit like a baseball in a perfect glove. Your worn wounds make us worthy. Forgive us where we have stuck out and fouled. May we rest in the center of Your Will until it is time to go home, like Vonnie, only desiring Your Best for us. Until then, may we move like a willow in the wind when you call us up to bat. Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hi Stranger!!

Just about everyone knows what the Lord showed me at Barnes & Noble on Sunday. I sat in a chair that was the color of hot cocoa with melted marshmallows, and I felt like one when I sat down in it. I so needed the time to myself!!

Grabbed a Venti African Autumn Tea (a must try for any rookie) and my Bible, and started finally relax. I looked up few verses about grace. A recent sermon and Word search through several portions of scripture spoke volumes and volumes to me in moments (hope to share all that later).

But, have you ever been by yourself in a public place and looked around and thought, "Do people see what is happening to me over here?!" I felt as if it the Truth that I was being showered with was physically visible because it was so good!!

Sadly, one thing that I haven't shared with everyone is that there was this girl sitting right next to me in the other hot chocolate chair. A couple of times I felt like maybe I should spark up a conversation with her or see what she was reading. The truth is, I didn't.

Here I was engrossed with so much Truth, I could hardly contain it, and wrestling with how difficult it is to share it with strangers, friends, and even harder with family. Do you ever feel that way?! I confess, I have prayed for that "girl with the GMAT study guide" for 3 days now, but I regret not speaking to her.

Could you just spark up a conversation and say to a stranger, "Hi. Do you know Jesus?" Not, "Hi, how are ya? or "Hey what'cha reading?" But, "Do you know Jesus?!"

Below is a video of a man on Queen Street in Sydney, Australian who made a commitment to talk to strangers. A dear friend shared it with me today and I have watched twice (Thanks, Theresa)! Watch here and think of him the next time you are in the bookstore, I will.
Or better yet, maybe you want to answer his question...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

KNOCKING Waves


Have I ever shared the story about the night my family and I slept on the couch cushions in the kitchen floor?

I was in the 3rd grade and my Dad came to my classroom door (before the days have having to get a Visitor's Pass from the Front Office) and the teacher said, "April, leave your things, you are going home, your father is here." I had no idea what was going on. I remember watching my dad's combat boots from behind and thinking, "Why is he walking so fast, I can't keep up! And, why isn't he at work?!"

Hurricane Iwa was hours within landfall of the Hawaiian Islands. Moyer Street was a buzz. Kids were walking home with their parents, traffic lights were blinking, and cars were dashing everywhere. We got home and my mom was preparing for "the storm." In the fearfulness of the moment, I remember thinking, "This is the first time my dad has ever walked me home from school." He held my hand and I enjoyed that.

Our home on the Army base was "full of huge windows and two levels." After that explanation, I had my first crash course in "Emergency Preparedness." I helped gather candles and then, was given a "very important job." I sat on the kitchen counter and filled pitchers, buckets, jugs...whatever...with water and lined them up right by my mom's orange-colored Tupperware canisters.

It started raining and the wind started to blow and that is when I remember sensing my mom and dad getting nervous. My Dad "gave orders" (he was in a military mode!) and told us to get all the cushions off the couch, love seat, and chairs. We lined them up in the middle of the kitchen floor. The kitchen had the smallest window and was closest to the front door.

There were very few things that I can compare that long night to. The sky got dark early and there were periods of time where we huddled together thinking that the house or at least the second level would not make it.

In some of the highest winds and hardest rains, there was a knocking at the front door. I screamed. I thought debris was hitting our home. But a harder knock came again with a yell. My dad went to the door and opened it. The cold, cold rain, wind, and palm leaves swept across the floor. A neighbor had walked over to check on us during the storm. My dad shared that we were ok and when he shut the door, I said, "That guy is crazy! Why would he check on us during the storm?" My mom held me and said, "He is just a good friend!" But I had my doubts about his timing!

In the days that followed, I remember seeing lots of debris, down lines, and the big palm tree uprooted...and that was in OUR backyard. Most vividly, I remember the Army Corps of Engineers coming house to house and offering to dig BBQ pits in yards for families. Lots of people had already bought their Thanksgiving turkeys from the commissary and needed to cook them. People were encouraged to use the pit to boil water and cook until utilities were restored.

I know this is nothing compared to what the people of Japan recently experienced and are currently facing. But when I heard that tsunami waves reached the Hawaiian islands, I couldn't help but to think of my own limited experience.

Just like that photo above shows the sign of the cross from a flying piece of wood and telephone pole, God can be seen during disasters. Remember seeing something similar after 9-11 or the church that was left standing? We just have to look for Him.

Let us remember that when we see images on the news that those are visual reminders of what we can pray for: those working on the nuclear reactor, search and rescue workers, children and families displaced, officials who are prioritizing needs, and the list goes on and on.

Last night, I watched the news and felt overwhelmed. What was The Flood like, Noah?! Tonight, I pray for what I see and wait with expectancy of the stories of how God had His Hand on people and places during this catastrophic time. For some, there will stories of God knocking on their hearts. Others will hear rescue workers knocking as they are found. And then, it is a reality that for some, they will hear, "leave your things, you are going home, your Father is here."

As the Lord knocks on our hearts today, pray. The waves and waves of our prayers do reach the ears of God! He hears them ALL!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Lady with the Lamp

Recently, I mentioned a "new" friend. Andrea and I met by divine appointment at the corner of Preschool Pick-Up & God's Way! You know "that" place...oh, I know you have been there...where you are just doing the normal every day things of your life and then BAM! God reveals Himself to you! Well, it was JUST like that!

Reading about Florence Nightingale was not the easiest thing I have ever done. Excerpts from her 19th-century journals was #2 out of 11 biographies I want to read in 2011. Strange New Year's Resolution, I know. But I read a quote from A. W. Tozer that said,


“Next to the Holy Scriptures, the greatest aid to the life of faith may be Christian biographies.”

and I thought "Hmmmmm...."

Nightingale felt called to serve Christ, and then, led into nursing. Her aristocratic lifestyle, lack of family support, and yearning for God's Will was all news to me. I just thought that she was a "nurse."

The entire time I was reading this book, I kept thinking about a mom of one of Jeremiah's preschool friends. Her name is Andrea. Andrea and I had a ball in the back of the bus on what was suppose to be a "Preschool" Pumpkin Patch Field Trip. I considered it a "Sanity Saver Day!"

Later, near Christmas, she shocked me as she shared that she was going to school to complete a nursing degree. She is a mother of 2, wife to 1, and student to many demands. I shared that day, "Wow! I admire you. I can barely keep the laundry done!" And, you know I meant it.

This mom that was on my mind! I HAD to tell her about Flo! Seemed our "paths" never crossed until last week.

"Andrea, you have been on my mind! I just read this book...not the easiest to read...but I could not stop thinking about you! Did you know that Florence Nightingale felt "called" by God to go into nursing? AND did you know that she had to wait like 20+ years to actually carry out God's plan for her life? I know! How hard is that! AND did you know that she was rich and her family wanted her to do something else? AND did you know that she revolutionized England's entire medical field?" AND...I think you get the point. I didn't even take a breath.

Yes, I was bombarding this woman, that I barely knew, with every Jeopardy-type fact, that I knew, about Florence Nightingale as we held onto preschool papers. When I walked away, I thought, "OH MY WORD! She is going to think I have lost my mind. Why did I do that?!"

Days later, with her arms full of "T" treats for "T" day at preschool, Andrea walks up to me as I am getting in my car. Despite the bitter cold wind that makes you wonder why you even attempt to do your hair morning, she warmed my heart with God's love.

"April, I had been praying for two days and asking God to give me a sign and let me know if I needed to go in a different direction or stick with it. Then, there you were. You were my sign."

Whoa! I only read a book, but praise the Lord! Nothing makes me fall on my face faster than knowing my Father spoke to someone else through this earthen vessel.

Later that afternoon when we got to talk on the phone, I was so blessed and humbled that Andrea would grace me with her boldness and confidence in Jesus. With full assurance in her faith she told me of what HE had done in her life on that corner.

Andrea shared this in a recent note,

"...I can totally identify with her. That is why I thought God was directing me somewhere else because I see all the hurt and suffering and I want to help, but I want to help them more than physically. I see now that I can do more than just "treat" them, I can care for them the way HE wants me to. He will lead people in my life who I am suppose to meet and help."
Do you feel that way, too?!

Ever wonder why Nightingale was called "The Lady with the Lamp?" Was it because she would make endless rounds through the dark of night and wear out her knees kneeling at the bedside tending to ill, injured, and dying soldiers of the Crimean War?


Or was it because she knew this verse from the Book of Romans? "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light."

Romans 13:13

I thought about how the Armor of God from the Book of Ephesians is a set of things given to Us by GOD...helmet, shield, sword, etc.


However, I think the Armor of Light is something that we can offer to others and in turn, give back to GOD.

What could be a better way to spend your days (and nights) than shining the light of Jesus into a dark world? Were we not all "called" to do that one thing? Be Light!?!

I don't think you have to be called to be a "nurse" to be a Lady with the Lamp.

Yes, God has called all of us to shine the light of Christ. But friends, how does He want YOU to SHINE for HIM?

Thanks Andrea for letting me share our friendship story! And please join us as we pray for two sophomore girls that I know of who are "ladies with lamps" in a high school cafeteria in the coming days as they witness to a classmate! I wrote this with you two in mind! SHINE ON!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Turn, Friend!

God has been doing an amazing work lately in some great friendships that He has brought to me and I am so grateful! Do you have that friend who you can just talk to about ANYTHING?! I have one who I think her middle name is "Trust!" Or how about that gal pal who you don't get to talk to very often, but you just pick up right where you left off when you do?! Don't you just love her?! I was thinking about friends today....

I am thankful for my buddies who call and invite us to go swimming (inside, despite hailing outside!) at the last minute.


Oh, I just love that friend who always calls and offers to grab me something from Starbucks since she is "there!" (One of the benefits of living in the middle of town!)

I am thankful for my teaching partner for almost a year...what confirmation God has shown us through e-devotions in the past year!!

I am thankful for those close friends who pray for me on a regular basis. THANK YOU!

I am so appreciative for that friend who looses track of time with me while we talk about Bible Studies! SO FUN!

I love that friend who remembers to call me about her mom's surgery...I appreciate her faithfulness more than she knows!

Then, there are those gals who share my passion to write and speak about the Word...so grateful for your encouragement...wish I could see them more!

WOW! Wait until I share the story about my newest friend! Stay tuned!

So today, a dear long distance friend invited me to "play along" and I had such fun reading about
her, that I thought I would take a turn.

In one word (challenge, right there!) answer the following questions:

Friends, I will TRY to follow the rules and give this a try...

In One Word....

Yourself: Growing!
Your husband: God-given!
Your hair: Recently highlighted
(see 2 words already!)
Your Mother: Spring-cleaning!
Your Father: West Virginian
Your Favorite Item: (today?) Pre-school graduation pictures!!!! :)
Your Favorite Drink: Chi Tea Latte - extra hot!
Your Dream Car: Traveling!
Your Dream Home: Open!
The Room You Are In: Living Room
Your fear: Hard to admit!
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? Center-of-God's-will
(I copied her answer...good, huh?!)
Who you hung out with last night: "my girls" (Wednesday Middle/High School Night Bible Study)
definitely my longest answer, but most fun!
What You’re Not: Finished!
One of Your Wish List Items: LU Graduation!
Time: Late
The Last Thing You Did: Blew out a candle
What You Are Wearing: Brown
Your favorite weather: Chilly-Rain
Your Favorite Book: My tear-stained, extra-highlighted, broken-binding Bible!
Last thing you ate: Pineapple!
Your Life: Blessed!
Your mood: Peaceful!
Your car: Paid for!
Your summer: Unplanned! :)
Relationship status: Happily Married!
What is on your TV: Nothing!
When is the last time you laughed: with Jeremiah!
(That question should be harder if it was "How many times today did Jeremiah make you laugh! Heeelarious son!)
Your Best Friends: Appreciated!

Hope to hear from a few of my friends...old and NEW! I pass on the fun-filled invitation to you friend, PLAY ALONG! Get to know a friend a little better today. Invest in the ones that God has brought into your life and share His love!

Thanks Cindy!

Friday, March 4, 2011

IT IS HERE...IT IS HERE!

This week has been...ummm...unique!

DING DONG!
"Hi, I am the bug exterminator, I got your call about the box elder beetles in your laundry room near the hot water heater!"

Then, DING DONG!
"Hi, I am the gas guy, I got your emergency call about gas fumes from your hot water heater!"

A little later the SAME DAY(!), DING DONG!
"Hi me again, the gas guy, I got your second emergency call about a gas leak from the meter we just replaced in your yard."

And just today, DING DONG!
"Hi, I am the plumber, here to repair the hot water heater!"

And then, after all the repairs, DING DONG! There was my BELOVED JASON holding a box with my FIRST published devotional delivered right to the door having just arrived in the mail!

I screamed, ran up the stairs to the kitchen, opened the box, and started to cry...with my family! No photo enhancing here, friends!!


Jason would have never been home in the middle of the day if the hot water heater wasn't being repaired. The hot water heater would not have been repaired if I had not smelled the gas coming from the hot water heater. I would have never smelled the gas from the hot water heater if I had not just been doing my normal daily chores as a stay-at-home mom doing the laundry (on a day I really didn't feel like it)! I would not have been near the hot water heater so much, but did I mention that I was trying to avoid BEETLES??!!

What a blessing to have my biggest fan hand me a gift right from the TRUE Author and Finisher of my faith!

Immediately, the picture in my head was complete.

Repairs! I don't like them! I don't like calling repair people (God bless the work you do!) I don't like waiting for the work to be done. I don't like the cost of the repairs or the mess you have to endure to get the WHOLE job done!

But don't you want a safe and well functioning home?

Of coarse!

The Christian life is similar. Some would draw no symbolism to the newly published devotional arriving from the mail truck TODAY EXACTLY on the heels of the plumber leaving the driveway. Or even the beautiful gift of opening the door to the LOVE OF MY LIFE holding WORDS in the SONlight.

But others...those who "get it" and know how "it" works DO!

Lack of care, storms, abuse, wear and tear all lead to worn out appliances. Squeeky wheels need oil, old meters need updated, and heaters need pressure reducers to meet new codes and regulations. Am I talking about episodes from HGTV or our lives? :) Both!

"ALL things work together for GOOD to them that love God to them who are CALLED according to HIS purpose" (Romans 8:28). Despite depression, disaster, distruction, distration, and distruction, HIS desire is for GOOD for those who love HIM. Over and over, the Lord has shown me when I humble myself to roll up my sleeve, get in the mess, accept the cost has already been paid, DO THE WORK HE ASKS OF ME, and let Him clean the mess...blessing is knocking at my door!

DING DONG! The blessing OF the "Moment" is here.

"God, you are the AUTHOR,

please come right in!

So happy you are here.

You did a GREAT Work.

Please abide."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Friday: Picture Day!

Friday, I combed my little guy's hair, ironed his shirt, and washed toothpaste out of the corners of his mouth. It was picture day! At virtually the same time that I was at my first a Kindergarten Open House as a prospective parent, Jeremiah posed in his cap and gown as a soon to be Preschool Graduate! A day with a little tear in my eye, but a great day to rejoice.

The big block letters on his photo order form stood out to me, I thought...J E R E M I A H.

If you don't mind, I'm going to grab some tissues (sniff*sniff) and tell you the story of how Jeremiah got his name. Many friends have heard the story before, but I have never "written" it. Join me as I give God praise for answering me like only He could...and still continues to do.

This is the chair that I sat in when I asked God to speak to me.


The house was hot. Sun came in every window and winds blew the two large maples in our yard. Yes, it was spring, but I knew no life was in me. I thought it was cruel humor to endure our second miscarriage on April Fool's Day. I vividly remember exactly what the picture looked like on the ultrasound monitor that day. Many days after that, I don't remember, but there is this one....

I was angry. I had done all this before. I had cried until I had no more tears. I accepted God's sovereignty and comfort last time. I had made the phone calls just a year and half ago. I had endured the pain before. But again! Really?!

The house was quiet except for my footsteps, I was stomping toward our dining room table. I grabbed my Bible and a concordance, and sat and cried in my tattered bath robe. Not little light tears, but the huge hot ones that burn when they run down your contorted cheeks. Why would we have to endure this again?

As I LOUDLY poured out tears and my heart, I TOLD God, "I am not getting up from this table...I WILL NOT get up from this table until you tell me how I am suppose to go on with so much sorrow!! Until YOU tell me everything I need to know about MOURNING and how to get over it, I will not move!!" And I meant it!

I was worried that I would never stop crying.

I searched, read, and wrote out every verse in the Bible that had to do with mourning. I still have the papers. God loved me enough to not focus on my tone or attitude, but on my heart. I was so hurt and needed comforting like no other time in my life. Verse after verse, I was reading but nothing was resonating with me. I wrote and read half the day. Worried that my grief was immovable, I was feeling hopeless. However, in His Wisdom, He lead me to words that I needed to hear.

For the second or third time, I read Jeremiah 31:13, "...for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow."

I wiped my eyes and asked, does it really say, MAKE THEM REJOICE
Yes!
With that I had no choice. I could not carry the grief, sorrow, and mourning. It was too great to bear. But, if God said that HE would turn it into joy and HE would MAKE me rejoice, then I would get up from the table and TRUST. I did.

He did not tell me how I would rejoice, He just told me that I would. And at that time, that was enough.

For over a year through tons of blood work, lots of testing, hope in a third pregnancy, daily Heparin injections, an inuetero EKG, ultrasounds, biophysical profile ultrasounds, 6 doctor appointments EACH week for the last 6 weeks, fatal monitoring, and an inducted pregnancy, I TRUSTED God's promise from that verse EACH AND EVERY SINGLE DAY.

In the throws of labor, breathlessly I wanted to tell my story. No surprise if you know me, right?! I hollered (yes, "hollered") at the doctor to "come here, I want to tell you something!" I laugh now, but at the time I was serious! I made him come all the way up to my head and looked him in the eye and said, "We don't know if this is a boy or a girl, but I want to tell you if it is a girl, her name will be JOY and if it is a boy then his name with be JEREMIAH because after our second child died, God spoke from Jeremiah 31:13 and said...." There were tears in that room, too

My friends, get a kick out me sharing that when they laid Jeremiah on my chest for the first time, I erupted in the Doxology..."Praise God from whom all blessings flow, Praise Him all creatures here below, Praise Him above ye Heavenly Host, Praise God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!" I didn't even leave off the "Ahhhhhhhhmen!"

He caused me to rejoice.

Today, look who sits in that chair ready for picture day.
I guess mommas never really stop crying.

God, thank you for collecting my "happy tears" in the same bottle as the sad ones.

Just this week, I was blessed and excited to have a friend share a new verse from Jeremiah 23:29 with me, "'Is not my word like fire,' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'"

Again, I answer "YES!"

That verse in the chair at the dining room table was the hammer that broke through my grief and built up my trust. What is yours?

I never assume that my blog is of any new revelation. All wisdom and revelation is from the Father through the Holy Spirit. I just share stories of how I see God in my daily walk with Him offer a blog in praise. But if you are experiencing "rocks" in your life or in your heart today, I pray that the Word will break them.

Father, for all the women who have children in your arms, I pray and ask that you comfort those parents, mommies and daddies, on special days and in their tender times. Illuminate your Word in their Wilderness as you did for Jesus. For those facing adoption, Father make a way for them to be Your Hands and Feet to your precious creations, not only do you know where they are, but you know the hairs on their heads, and the arms you want to place them in. Hold them tight until you are able to unit them with their parents. Thank you for the special place we have in You, where we abide and know only love and acceptance. In name of My Rock, Redeemer, and ever Restorer Jesus, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Did you hear the news?

The sun is shining here today. A cool breeze blows a homemade yellow swing in the neighbor's yard. I can see it from where I sit and type. For such a bright day, I feel like I have been getting a lot of bad news lately.

Funny how we see what the wind blows, but not the wind itself. Ever thought about what we see as bad news might be someone else's blessing. Or have you ever be blessed by somone else's bad news? How does that work?

I remember when the only way I would be able to go to college was to get a scholarship. I agreed to sit on a Waiting List (disappointed that I wasn't first choice) for this scholarship and a few weeks later, a girl declined it (I don't know why), and it was awarded to me. Free tuition for four years.
What if I had not agreed to be "waitlisted."

Fast forward from July 1992 to February 2011.

Last week, I needed to find out when Liberty University would be holding its graduation ceremony because I am almost done with my coursework. PRAISE YE THE LORD! HALLELUJAH! Wonder why I haven't been getting any information about this? I am just a few units from completion. It wasn't good news.

Learning that even though I made a self-established deadline of May to complete everything, the university must have everything completed by March 15. Ouch! The good news is that I will get my diploma as soon as I finish. The bad news is that I will not get to participate in the graduation ceremony in the spring like I had hoped. The gentleman's voice turned soft over the phone, "Now, April this isn't something you want to rush just to get it done."

Rush?! Are you kidding me?! I have been working on this since September of 2007! That doesn't sound like rushing to me! How about to you, blogger friends?!!!! But, I replied (a little deflated), "Yes, sir, I know. I don't want to miss anything that the Lord might have for me." He clucked, "Ahhh! That is the right attitude." We hung up and I just sat there. I am sure people got worse news than that last week. But, it was a personal disappointment for me. Shhh! Don't tell but I was totally bummed! TOTALLY!

So yesterday, as I drug myself to put in the 24th out of 48 lectures (in just THIS series) in the CD player, to listen to the 2nd of 8 lectures equalling over 8 hours of lecture (in just THIS unit)on the Doctrine of Salvation (again, NOT anywhere near rushing), I was at it again. And, I guess I should confess that the only I did that was because a dear friend held my feet to the fire (also known as e-mailed and asked, "How are your studies going?"). That is when I heard new sweet peace from God's Word.

Listen to this good and bad news as my professor explained the meaning of salvation:
The bad news is someone needs to be saved. There are sick, accused, and drowning people out there.
The Good News is that there is someone ABLE and WILLING to save them.
That is the short of it.

It would never be Good News unless Jesus Christ were both WILLING and ABLE. Why even be able, if you are not willing? I thought. How frustrating is it to be willing, but not able? I felt. The Good News is that Jesus was ABLE to accomplish God's Will and WILLING did for the ones that today still need it the most.

So, I know many of you KNOW that. But, I applied it to my own bad news. Dean Harold Wilmington said this and I stopped in my "tracks" (Track 12), "Perhaps the greatest ability after all is availability."

What kind of mindset is that to always be available to our Heavenly Father? Never rushing? Never behind? Not sulking in disappointments? Just available. Readily available. Consistently available. Willing available.

If you are feeling defeated today, I can relate...see above story. But, more importantly that relating, I have renewed revelation: GOD IS ABLE. I can type that even though I don't know if you are sick, accused, drowning, or lost. Whatever work you need Him to do, He is ABLE. But, don't forget it is HIS LOVE for YOU and HIS own OBEDIENCE to the Father that makes Him WILLING!

Have you ever heard this verse in Jude about Jesus's ability? "And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in His bright presence, fresh and celebrating" (v. 24).

The bad news is I am not able. That frustrates me.
But the good news is but He is. That encourages me.

How about you? Do you feel that you have been knocked off your feet? Are you not celebrating? Not fresh, but more like worn plum out?! Go before Him, He waits to lift you tall into the bright warm presence of the Father and celebrate YOU right where you are. Make yourself available for Him to move.