Tuesday, October 18, 2011

New Creation

I have a bookshelf filled with books. To an outsider, it may look like I really enjoy reading. Maybe well-versed in classic literature? Or the student of a particular study?

Last week I cleaned the bookshelves. Cleared them of books I hadn’t touched in years. The dust was thick. The nature of the pile of books I had tossed onto the floor was startling - even to me. A glimpse into my previous life. The one before Christ.

Diet and self-help books. Dozens of them.

You see, I spent the first 35 years of my life feeling inadequate and broken; as if something, possibly everything, was wrong with me. And while I longed to be fixed - to be whole - I was searching in all the wrong places.

I heard Priscilla Shirer speak this weekend and she spoke a truth to me that resonated:

“You are not the same person you used to be so you have no business going where you used to go.”

This truth is applicable in many parts of my life. But how does it relate to the piles of books? Those books represent idols in my life - something that took my focus off of God. My particular idols were the number on the scale and baggage from my past. Those things are now bagged up and thrown out.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;
the old things passed away; behold new things have come.
  2Corinthians 5:17

I am not the size clothes I wear or the type of car I drive. I am not my messy house or what other people think me to be. I am not the sins I have committed.

I am a new creation in Christ.
  I am no longer a slave to things of this world.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Inspiration...

Today the weather finally feels Fall-ish.  And my spirit is finally feeling relieved.  The heaviness of the seemingly unending heat and drought is lifting.  In the coolness of the morning, I'm feeling inspired ~ to bake, paint, sew and write.  To create.  BUT with this new season comes the consequences of the weighty summer...a messy, unorganized kitchen and office/studio that I don't even want to be in.  A too-hot summer of not wanting to do anything has caught up with me.   sigh.

Then I came across this bit of inspiration:

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris

It is my jumping off point to create the freedom to do the things I love.  I found the quote here.  Jules takes on '31 Days of William Morris'.  Hmmm...

What a great idea!  I'm thinking about all I could get done in the 31 days of October.  And I'm also wondering if I could get past days 14 or 15.  Ha!


Well...here goes!  I'm jumping in.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Deep-Watering

Texas is in a severe drought. The worst in over a century. The word ‘epic’ has been used.

With no water, the grass has become crispy brown and plants are dying. High tree branches are falling to the ground due to lack of water. On a larger scale, crops and livestock are being affected. The consequences of the drought are dire. It rained here a little a few days ago, but the land is so parched it will take much more rain and a very long time to come out of this drought. A little rain is nice, and we are thankful for it. But what the ground needs is a good soak. Slow, steady, deep-watering will bring life back into the land.

Here at home, we are deep-watering our yard and the foundation of our home. Lightly watering will get us by, but it’s not the most beneficial way to nourish the grass, plants and trees and to prevent damage to the foundation.






Each Friday, Jim and I get to spend most of the day together. Even though it’s usually spent grocery shopping and running errands, we enjoy being together. After a long week of work, school and day-to-day stuff, we NEED the time together. Fridays are spent lightly watering our marriage.

He and I just returned from Cozumel; a long overdue vacation together. Our days were mostly spent lazily laying on the beach, swimming in the ocean and enjoying all of our meals together. There were no to-do lists. No phone calls to return or stacks of paperwork to sort. No laundry or dishes to wash.

On our agenda ~ Be together. And we were. Fully.

Four days spent deep-watering our marriage.

Nourishing.



Monday, August 1, 2011

Strawberries and Smiles

I just enjoyed a visit with my beloved Grandmomma. The nursing home she’s in is very nice. The nurses are gentle and kind. The residents are happy and have everything they need and want. It’s an amazing place.

When I arrived, she was a little uncomfortable in the bed so I helped her get situated and straightened out the sheets. I moved the fan closer to her face and brought her a cool rag.

We snacked on fresh strawberries. She didn’t talk much, but she smiled at me. That sweet smile that I’ve missed so much…right there, and just for me.

It was a wonderful visit and I hated to leave.



God gave me a gift; being able to share strawberries and smiles with my sweet Grandmomma. You see…she has been gone for over 10 years, but through my dream He allowed me to be with her again.

The pain of losing her is fresh this morning, but I am forever thankful for our little visit.

Friday, June 17, 2011

National Day of Prayer for Law Enforcement

Today was the first ever National Day of Prayer for Law Enforcement.  I can't even remember how I came to know about the event, but I knew right away that I wanted to participate.






It was somewhere around 100 degrees, but we braved the heat and stood near the flagpoles at the Hurst Police Department to pray for law enforcement officers; our own and those around the world.

Thanks to everyone who came out to pray!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Life Changed



I have been trying to figure out how to best convey my thoughts and feelings about my experience in Guatemala. Much to say with dozens of little stories to tell.

But first, a summary.  And a video.

I had a few goals while in Guatemala.

“To see God glorified.”
And boy did I! Through moving rocks, singing silly songs about frogs, icing cakes and painting, God was glorified. While teaching girls to make blankets and crochet, He was lifted up. His amazing grace was seen as stories of His redeeming love were shared. Simple acts of compassion, like sweet smiles and gentle touches, all communicated God’s love. Oh…and I can’t even begin to explain the awe of His majesty revealed in the beautiful landscape of Guatemala.

“To live in the moment and savor each smile and giggle.”
I witnessed so many smiles and giggles throughout this entire trip, with the children and between the team. Treasures I will remember for a very long time. God gave me a very special gift in Guatemala; Armando shared his joy with me. I have been truly blessed by his smiles and giggles. God allowed me to really experience this mission trip. From the pain of seeing the poverty and knowing the stories of the heartaches endured by some of these children all the way to the tears shed from laughing so hard, I felt it all. Really felt it all.

“If in one hug, or one song, or sharing a cupcake, or even a simple smile or gentle touch, I can help them forget the bad things that have happened to them and help them see that they have HOPE in Jesus, then my mission will be complete.”
Mission complete.



Some of the situations I saw and the stories I heard could have me questioning, “Where is God in this?” But my peace is explained in the lyrics of this song.





video






In places forgotten by the world, with discarded and rejected people…HE IS THERE.


I saw Him.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Bonus Blessing Day!

It’s bonus day today.


Friday of the mission trip in Guatemala, I gave the devotional.  God had placed on my heart the concept of the 'ripple effect'.  How everything we do has an effect on others, so let's do good things.  I handed out these rippled-looking tchotchkes as reminders.





Today, while I was sorting through photos and thoughts of Guatemala, there was a knock at the door. I don’t open the door to strangers when I am home alone. I didn’t recognize the vehicle or even the face until I had fully opened the door. I was shocked at myself for opening the door, but even more shocked that he was standing there.

In invited him in and over the course of about 45 minutes, apologies were made for 20 years of hurts, bitterness and anger, and hearts were healed.

God has been working in his life and he stepped out in obedience today, even though he was nervous. Ripples created by others had touched him.

Thank you, God, for this bonus blessing today.





If you are feeling nudged to apologize to someone, please step out in obedience. I have had an issue on my heart for several weeks now, and because this one person followed through today, I realize that I need to do the same.

Ripples.

Guatemala ~ Armando, Mi Amor

On Thursday, I had been assigned the job of helping paint the ceiling in one of the boys’ rooms at Cerecaif. Adriana had drawn stars, the moon, a rocket ship and the star of the show, an astronaut. So we began painting the celestial oasis.

Sitting on the corner of a bottom bunk, flipping through the pages of a tiny New Testament, was Armando. At first, he seemed shy and didn’t really want to engage in any kind of communication. I knew nothing about Armando, but quickly realized that there was something very special about him. In between painting stars, I would peek around the corner of the bunk bed to see Armando looking at me. We began a game of peek-a-boo. Armando giggled. My heart jumped. Then I giggled. Then I’m pretty sure he was laughing at my silly attempts to make him laugh. I could not get enough of the sweet sound. If I waited too long in between peek-a-boos, Armando would stand and look over the top bunk at me. Then I would giggle, which made him giggle.

Armando never spoke a single word to me, but my heart heard him loud and clear.

Friday afternoon brought the 7th anniversary party for Cerecaif. After a wonderful program by the children, there was delicious food and cake. The children were lined up at the cake table. Armando, with his empty cake plate, looked lost and a little distressed at all of the party chaos. I made my way to the front of the line to get him a piece of cake. Then another.  Shhh…that will be our little secret. While the other kids played with balloons, dance and sang, and enjoyed having their photo taken, Armando sat quietly observing the activities. Occasionally I would catch him looking at me. My heart heard him saying, “Please laugh with me.” I tried to distract him from the chaos with our special game of peek-a-boo.

My heart was already hurting for the goodbyes I would soon have to say. I fought back tears and kept playing, trying to spend as much time as I could with Armando.

It was time. The tears flowed as I hugged new little friends. I wanted desperately to hug Armando, but I knew that is not how he receives love. Having special attention paid to him through smiles and laughter and a silly game of peek-a-boo in a world where he is often forgotten, is how he receives love. And so with one more peek-a-boo, I blew a kiss to Armando and whispered “Te amo.”

My prayer is that when I get back to visit Armando, we will be able to pick up where we left off. And that in the meantime, when he is alone in his room or in the midst of chaos, he will remember our shared giggles.

Thank you, God, that Armando shared his joy with me.



This is what laughing will sound like in Heaven.




video



Armando is 14 years old. He is autistic. He has been at Cerecaif since 2004. He enjoys turning the pages in books, cake, looking at Matchbox cars, and laughing. Please pray that he will continue to receive love through the special attention that he needs.

Thanks to the generous donations made by friends and family, Armando will be sponsored for the next year.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Could Choose Not To Move, But I Refuse.


It’s Guatemala Eve. Finally.

For more than 5 months, I have been anticipating this part of the journey. The travel to Guatemala and the time spent in Guatemala. When I signed up for this trip, I could not wait until I saw what God did IN Guatemala. “What amazing things will you show me, God? How will you use me in the lives of these sweet angels?“ Well, let me just tell you…I haven’t left the USA yet, and God has already done some amazing things. I never imagined so much would be done BEFORE the trip.

I knew, pretty much instantly, that I was supposed to go on this mission trip. That whole “God spoke to me” thing happened, in my heart. The more mature I become spiritually, the better I hear Him. And the easier it is for me to obey. I sat on the idea of participating in this mission trip for a couple of days before I approached Jim. “My friend Ronne is leading a mission trip to Guatemala to work with orphans. I think I’m supposed to go.” I began asking my prayer warriors for help. God answered, “Go.”

I struggled, briefly, with the thought of soliciting help (my independent stubbornness).
I sent out letters asking for mission trip contributions and prayers. The response was overwhelming. One thing I have learned during this journey…people WANT to help. I have cried at the kindness and generosity of my friends and family.

There were times when I wondered how the financial end was going to come together. God answered, “I’ll take care of it.” In addition to the contributions, opportunities to earn extra money came for both me and Jim. Extra photography work for me. Extra part-time jobs for Jim. I even received an unexpected refund check from overpaying for an MRI last year. We will be able to buy a microwave for one of the orphanages, buy extra food and supplies AND sponsor a sweet angel for an entire year, thanks to the donations.

Several people contributed supplies. In fact, my suitcases (I have to bring 2) are so heavy, loaded with supplies, that I’m wondering if I’ll be able to manage them at baggage claim. This is a wonderful ‘problem’ to have. Yes?

I have asked for prayers all along this journey. My friends and family have been so supportive, offering up prayers every time I ask. This is where my peace comes from. I’ve struggled with distractions. Prayers fixed them. I’ve doubted my abilities. Prayers fixed that too.

What I’ve learned so far:
It’s OK to ask for help. By asking for help, we are able to do SO MUCH MORE!
How to receive help (which, for me, is equally as difficult as asking).
Leaning heavily on God. He has worked all of this out…every little detail.
What peace feels like. Regarding this trip, I have no reservations. No real concerns.
People are kind and generous. They want to help.
Prayer works and God shows up!


My husband has been so amazing during this journey. Thank you, my love, for working so hard to make this happen.

To everyone who has contributed money, supplies, prayers and support: ‘Thank you’ will never be enough to express my sincere gratitude to you. You have blessed me abundantly. I will pour those blessings out on the forgotten in Guatemala.

"I refuse to sit around and wait for someone else to do what God has called me to do myself.  I could choose not to move, but I refuse."


If God is talking to you, whispering gently or giving you big 'in your face' signs, listen to him.  I dare you to move.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Friday Favorite





A favorite photo from Spring Break.  Our family at the summit of Enchanted Rock.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Morning Giggles

Friday mornings are earlier than other school days for us.  Jake has trombone practice very early in the morning.

Today, while it was still dark out, we got up early only to discover that there was no practice. 

So we spent some time creating zombies,  building burgers and balancing various planks, squares and balls.  (games on the iPod)

We also did some lip syncing.

And laughing.

Unexpected opportunities to make sweet memories ~ Priceless.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Shift In Attitude

A couple of Saturdays ago, I had an early morning meeting with some ladies from church.

Note the 'early morning'.

Some showed up in sweat pants or workout clothes.  Some wearing little or no makeup.  One wore a ball cap with her hair in a ponytail.  A couple were even wearing 'clothes from yesterday'.  (I was included in one or more of these categories {grin})

Each has something in common.

Beauty.

But why don't we believe it?  A common response to the compliments flying around the room was to discredit them.  Why do we (women) do that to ourselves?  Why is it so difficult to accept that we ARE beautiful, no matter what?

I struggle, almost daily, with believing that I am beautiful.  When I see a photograph of myself, I cringe.  Ack!

Too bad I (we) base worth on physical appearance.

I started this Bible study 2 weeks ago, and I intend on working to believe that I AM a beautiful offering.  Even if I wear workout pants, no makeup and a ball cap.


Shalom.



On Living Healthy. And Keeping My Sanity.

It's age, I guess.  Maturity.

The older (more mature) I get, the more focused I have become on living healthier.  There are an infinite number of ways I can improve the way I treat my body...the foods I eat, the environment I expose it to, the exercise I get, etc.

And by infinite I mean an OVERWHELMING number of ways I should be living healthier.

Big.  Fat.  Sigh.

The list of things to not do or eat is long.  And the more research I do, the longer the list gets.   And it makes my brain hurt.  It is my responsibility to take care of my body the best I can.  But where do I draw the line on obsessive behavior regarding being healthy?

That sort of sounds absurd.  Like, "Can a person be too concerned about health?"

I believe the answer is yes


Back in October I attended the True Woman Conference.  One of the speakers was Bob Lepine.  His subject was 'Food, Beauty and Control' and I learned so many things from his wisdom.  Here's one thing I took away:
  • Wise, healthy eating and living is good stewardship.  But there can come a point when the obsession with health can become 'unhealthy'.  An idol even.
Yikes!  I had never really considered that.  But looking back on some of my obsessive behaviors (about health), I can totally see it.  When I get focused on a certain subject, I spend lots of time researching (too much sometimes).  I get overwhelmed with the informatation overload and my PP (procrastination/perfectionism) brain shuts down.
The feeling that if I'm going to do it, I must do it completely and perfectly takes over.  And the misconception that if I don't, I'm a failure.

It is not possible to do everything the healthy way.  There are too many variables.  Too many conflicting opinions about what is healthy and what isn't.  If we look hard enough, we can find discouraging information about every 'healthy' subject out there.  Too much of this, too little of that and we're screwed basically.  I appreciate the information available, but it can be too much of a good thing.

Here's my point:
I will continue to aim for healthier living, because it IS my responsibility to take care of my body.  And I will strive to not become obsessive about health. 

Because the fact of the matter is this...
God is always in control.  Even if I screw everything up, he can turn it all around.  (This is NOT a free pass to behave irresponsibly!)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Groundhog Week

Thursday before last, Jake woke up for school with a fever.  Yikes!  Despite our best efforts to stay away from the flu, it made it's way to Jake.  There were 5 days of fever/no fever.  Fever/no fever.  Shivers.  Headaches.  And some sniffles.

Luckily there was no stomach yuckiness with this flu.

So he was out of school Thursday, Friday (student holiday) and the following Monday.  Each day was the same...Pushing the fluids, eating oranges, upping the vitamin D, using thieves blend of essential oil on his chest and feet, tea tree oil in the diffusers, sitting outside in the sunshine.  He was a trooper, doing everything I asked of him to beat that darn flu.  And we did it.

Just in time for the Ice Age to hit.





School was out from Tuesday to Friday due to ice and snow.  It was awesome!  Because Texans are totally NOT prepared for such weather, the state basically shuts down.  People panic like it's the end of the world...rushing to clear the stores' shelves of milk and bread.   We rebelled against 'the sky is falling' thinking and enjoyed our time at home watching tv, playing video games and playing in the snow.  Thank goodness for electric blankets!

We did venture out a few times (for my own sanity) to Target (twice) and to eat a couple of times.  The roads were sort of slick so it made it an adventure!

By the time Jake went back to school today, he'd been out 11 days.  Nice little mini vacation...Well, except for the flu.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Loving The Forgotten

My heart is heavy.



Today, my daughter and I visited her great-grandmother in a rehab/nursing center.  Granny Nell fell and broke her hip which required surgery.  Between surgery and her going back home is some rehabilitation.

Oh my goodness...these places break my heart.  Full of people who  feel discarded and forgotten.  While I enjoyed my visit with Granny, my heart ached for those who looked so lost and lonely. 

A smile or a wave.  A gentle pat on the arm.  A friendly "Hello".  These are very simple acts of compassion that I can do to possibly brighten someone's day.

Are we willing to let "That's too difficult for me.  It's too sad." (our selfishness) continue to isolate these gentle spirits?  Because when we do that, we are saying to them, "You are old.  You do not matter."   And that is not how these sweet souls should live...thinking they do not matter.

They need to be loved on.  Spoken to sweetly.  And treated as valuable.

I do not have all the answers.  There is no way I can help everybody, and I know that.  It is overwhelming for me to think of all the needs and have no way to supply them.

But I can do SOMETHING

Anything.


And so can you.

Do SOMETHING.


"And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' Matthew 25:40"

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Changing Lanes

If there are two lanes travelling in each direction, I tend to drive in the right (outside) lane if the opposing directions are not separated by a turn lane or a median.  I have this fear that some vehicle traveling in the opposite direction will veer into my lane and crash into me.  It's not a completely unfounded fear, ya' know.  (Working at the police department made me afraid aware of much more than I ever was before.)

A road I travel regularly is in really poor condition with potholes and uneven surfaces and I complain about it (to myself or my passengers) frequently.  It beats the heck out of my truck and cannot be good for the tires.  Cha ching!

Today, I decided to live in the 'danger zone' (insert Kenny Loggins tune here).  While travelling on this road, I changed lanes.  Into the left (inside) lane.  And there was no separation between me and the opposing direction.  It was unnerving.  And uncomfortable.  AND I LIVED TO TELL ABOUT IT!

But you know what else?  The left lane was much smoother than the right lane.  There were fewer potholes and my truck...ahhh, my truck breathed a sigh of relief. 

So here's what I learned today:  Even though I was afraid to travel in the unfamiliar and sometimes scary lane, I did it successfully and my journey was so much smoother.

Hmmm...I wonder where else I can 'change lanes' in my life.



Thursday, January 6, 2011

Customer Service: Zap!

So today I went for my second (of six) treatment of laser hair removal under my arms.  I don't have an excessive amount of underarm hair (for all you funny people out there).  Six treatments is standard.

And just for the record, the reason I'm doing this has less to do with vanity and more to do with laziness.  (Did I really just admit to that?)

Moving on...

My appointment was at 11:00 this morning.  I arrived on time.  Shortly after I arrived, another lady showed up.  I'll call her LadyWhoseTimeIsMoreImportantThanEverybodyElse's.  Or Blondie, for short.  At 11:20 Blondie asked what time my appointment was and then let out one of those looong, heavy, passive-aggressive sighs.  Then she went to the counter and asked, "Are they running behind?" (see, there is such thing as a stupid question) "This lady's appointment is at 11 (points to me) and mine is at 11:15.  I can't be sitting here all day.  I have kids to pick up." 
After she sat back down, on my way to the restroom I passed the counter and whispered, "Just so you know, I didn't complain."  Because I didn't want the nice people behind the counter thinking I was upset.  I don't need other people speaking for me.

While in the restroom, (3 minutes, tops) guess what?  BLONDIE WAS TAKEN BACK FOR HER APPOINTMENT.

Seriously.

I kid you not.

OK, then I got upset.  I told the sweet girl behind the counter, in a calm and respectful way, that I didn't think that was right.  I found out the tech made the decision because I was in the restroom and because Blondie had kids to pick up from school.  Then I found out the name of the person in charge of the office.

When Blondie finished her appointment, she thanked me for her getting to before me.  To which I replied, "Nobody asked me." 

"I don't like it when other people think their time is more important than everybody else's."

I said that.  Out Loud.

Yikes!

The tech called me back and I proceeded to tell her, calmly and respectfully, that I did not appreciate what she had done and I didn't think it was fair.  She apologized, but not sincerely.  I mean...what else was she going to do at that point?  And what else was I going to do at that point?  This lady was about to shoot me with a laser...I had to be careful.

On the way out the door, I saw a lady in the parking lot headed into the spa.  She looked important and 'in charge'.  I confirmed that she was the office manager and proceeded to tell her my story.  I also commended the staff and told her that I believe the tech did a good job.  She was VERY apologetic and agreed that the tech should not have done that.  She was thankful for the input, as she is trying to make that business a good one.  Then she offered me a free facial.

I wasn't looking for some kind of freebie.  I felt it was necessary to let her know what happened so she could try and make sure it didn't happen again.  I want to be able to tell my curious friends about what a great experience this has been.

Well, except that it feels like my armpits are being popped with rubber bands during the treatment.  Yowza!

There's right way and a wrong way to handle these kinds of situations.  I covered both on this one.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

And The Winner Is...

(If you're here for a giveaway, you'll be sadly disappointed.  Unless you consider my rambling a gift.)

I have been searching for a New Year's theme.  I don't do resolutions.  Well, I'm good for about a week, then I'm done.  "I'm done with that" is a phrase I use often.  Too often.

I considered many words; themes for 2011.

Simplicity.

Health.

Peace.

And while all of these are great themes, and I pondered them each carefully, I have chosen "Follow Through" as my theme for 2011.

(gripping, huh?)

See, I have a problem following through.  As I sit in my unfinished 'office/craft room' I am surrounded with projects that are only partly finished.  Books that are almost read.  Lists that have things not crossed off.

I have lots of ideas.  Some of them are stupid and I should just not even bother.  They end up being clutter, for my mind.

But some of them are actually good.  And I should follow through.  But why don't I?  Fear.  Lack of confidence.  Wrong motivation (which is perfectly legitimate reason to not follow through).

So all of this brings me to my theme of FOLLOWING THROUGH.  Which means I am going to think about my ideas, decide which ones are actually doable, be honest about which ones I will really do (and are worth my time), consider my motivation and then (dot, dot, dot) do them. 

I believe 'Follow Through' will actually bring me the other things I considered:
Simplicity ~ I have many great ideas about organizing and making my life easier.  When I follow through on those, things will be much simpler.
Health ~ I have decided that taking care of my body is VERY important.  When I follow through on the things I know I should do, I will be healthier.
Peace ~ Sweet peace.  We all yearn for it, but do things daily that contradict it.  When I follow through with ideas for physical projects, mental and emotional nurturing, and spiritual growth, I will be more peaceful.

Blogging more is on my list of 'good ideas that fear took over'.  So...lucky you.  You'll get to read more from me. 

My sweet friend Ronne shared this blog on Facebook today.  It was exactly what I needed to make a decision for my theme.



"A ship in harbor is safe - but that is not what ships are built for." ~ John A. Shedd