Thursday, March 24, 2011
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
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.
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
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
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
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."
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
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....
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!
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!
Friday, March 4, 2011
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?
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.
please come right in!
So happy you are here.
You did a GREAT Work.