Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Nine Years Ago Today

Nine years ago today I married the love of my life.
 We've had quite the journey over the past several years
 Nothing ever tasted so sweet as the love God gave us and has allowed us to share.
 My love is still a romantic who loves to take every opportunity to sneak a kiss.
 I'm thankful for the godly leadership God has given me in my husband.
We have been blessed with a wonderful family, and it continues to grow each year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Days till Thanksgiving

I am thankful today for a cup of hot coffee to help wake up.

I am thankful for the opportunity to read my Bible and to have an over abundant number of Bibles in my house while many people around the world don't even have one.

I am thankful for the pile of laundry I have to fold -- it reminds me that we have plenty of clothing that have been given to us.

I am thankful for coupons which have helped us stretch our budget this past year.

I am thankful my children love going to the dentist and the doctor.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Three Days till Thanksgiving

I know I neglected to post yesterday.  Sundays tend to be very busy and tiring days for us, and so I try to stay off the computer as much as possible. 

I can hardly believe we are three days away from Thanksgiving.  This year has simply flown by, but it also seems like this pregnancy has lasted an entire year.  This is the first pregnancy that I have had where I have been pregnant in every season of the year.  I must say I will be overjoyed with this bundle decides to make his presence known outside of my body.

However, things I am thankful for today include:

** My father-in-law.  While I have never met him, and have only talked with him once on the phone before he died, I am very thankful for the way he raised his children. This Thanksgiving marks the tenth year since he died.  I just praise God for the life of this Godly man.  I look forward to the day I get to meet him.  My kids are always asking about Grandy and what he liked, and what he did.  They also enjoy speculating about what Grandy is enjoying right now in Heaven.  I thank God for the spiritual heritage he has given my children, and I pray that our children will one day say the same things about us.

1. My baby's very strong movements today.  Friday, Saturday, and for most of the day yesterday I did not feel any movements.  However, he seems to have gotten his second wind and has not let me forget his presence today -- thus avoiding a call to the doctor :)

2.  I am thankful for my husband.  The last couple of days my hips have been so sore that it is extremely difficult for me to even walk across the room (rolling over in bed is nearly impossible).  J.A. has been so helpful with the kids and around the house so that I could rest.  He even took it upon himself to schedule an appointment for me with the chiropractor -- so hopefully next Monday will come quickly :)

3.  I am thankful for my waffle maker that I received last Christmas -- I love being able to have Belgian Waffles once or twice a week.  I even found some mulberry syrup we made last year in the freezer, so we enjoyed some fruit on our waffles this morning.

4.  I am thankful for a dentist who calls to remind us about our appointments.  I have missed so many appointments over the last two months, that I was thankful to receive a phone call reminding me that the kids have their appointments tomorrow morning.

5. I am thankful for Pizza Hut's Book-It Program and that it allows Homeschoolers to participate.  This means tomorrow we get to enjoy pizza for lunch before we head down to my parents house.

6.  I am thankful for this blog which allows me to let our extended family members know what is going on in our lives, and especially what the kids have been up to.  I know this past year I have not been very consistent, but I am thankful for those of you who have continued to visit my blog even in my absence.

7.  I am thankful for the opportunity to take a breather tonight and sit down and play some games with my family.  I need to be constantly reminded to not be so task oriented and focus on the more important things of spending time playing with my children.  I know before long they will be gone.

8.  I am thankful for our church members and how they interact with our children.  They always take time to smile and talk and shake hands with the kids -- often talking with them as they would adults and not treating them as annoyances.  The result -- my kids love going to church, and they love interacting with the people at church.

9.  I am thankful for the new garage door being installed!  We can finally park our van in the garage again. (The van got stuck in the garage this summer, so we haven't parked it in the garage in case the same problem happened again when we didn't have the time to mess with it).

While there are two more days till Thanksgiving, I am not going to be able to guarantee a post either tomorrow or on Wednesday.  We will be heading down to family, and getting on the computer will be down at the bottom of the list.  I hope and pray you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that you will make an effort to focus on what God has done for you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Five Days till Thanksgiving

Five more days until we remember and celebrate the first Thanksgiving and how the Lord provided and brought the pilgrims through their first hard winter on the North American continent.

As I think about that first Thanksgiving, I become even more thankful for what I have.  I can't imagine the struggle the pilgrims faced when they landed with very little food, no shelter, and about to face a terribly cold and harsh winter - completely unprepared.  Yet, God brought them through and they were able to plant crops and receive a wonderful harvest the following fall.  And then they offered up a feast in Thanksgiving for what God had done for them.

These are huge things, but things I take for granted.  Outside the weather is just above freezing, and it hardly even crosses my mind to give thanks for the beautiful house (with indoor plumbing and heating).  I don't even have an idea of what it would be like to go hungry -- something I don't think most Americans can fathom.  Even the poorest of Americans don't have to starve -- with food banks, government assistance, churches, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters -- Every American can enjoy enough food to survive (notice I say enough food -- meals don't have to extravagant or large.  I think most of us would be surprised by how little we need to consume in order to live.)

So today, I am thankful for grocery stores and restaurants.  With these stores even if my garden does not do well, I know I can still have a source for fresh food and all the necessities to feed my family.

I am also thankful for indoor plumbing.  I can't imagine having to go out in the cold to use the outhouse or having to empty a chamber pot every morning (especially in my current condition).  God truly has blessed our nation by providing these for us so that to an American it is a necessity and not just a privilege.

I am thankful for natural gas and for the intelligence that determined how to pipe this gas into homes in order to heat homes (I think a wood stove or fire place would be fabulous but would also increase insurance costs).  I love being able to push a button to make the house warmer when I'm cold.  This is one that I am going to have to remember to be thankful for as the winter comes and the drafts start slipping through the house.  I can't complain about the drafts because at least we have heat :)

I am also thankful for the invention of the freezer (I'm just jumping from one extreme to the next).  Over the course of the past three days  I have been able to make and freeze 34 meals.  This means at least of month of not having to prep and cook supper!  Without the freezer or refrigerator I would not be able to look forward to a small break from cooking after Gabriel's birth.

God has provided so many blessings and comforts to our home and family that I can't even begin to name them.  I hope I will always remember to rejoice in the blessings and the little things and not take for granted what God has provided for us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Six days till Thanksgiving

We have had quite a full day already today, and I haven't even had the kids do any schoolwork :)

1.  I am thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling which allows me to be able to plan for us to have off the entire week next week so we can go visit family.

2.  I am thankful for Kara's diligent work today.  She sliced almost 20 apples this morning for our Apple Pie Pork Chops (a freezer meal).  This afternoon she peeled 12 carrots and sliced the celery stalks for our Apple Cider Stew (also a freezer meal).  I really enjoyed sitting down at the table and cutting veggies with Kara and carrying on a conversation with her. 

3. I am thankful for the fourteen freezer meals (five recipes) that are already done up and in the freezer.  We have ten more recipes to make up and freeze which will result in about 40 more meals.  This means that I will have almost two months worth of meals made up and in the freezer for after Gabriel's birth :)

4.  I am thankful for the opportunity to get together twice a month with other moms.  We had a wonderful time trying to catch up on our individual projects and visiting with each other.  It is a blessing to be able to share our struggles and encourage each other to seek after God during this time.

5.  I am thankful for a husband who was willing to spend his evening last night cutting up a roast for our freezer (I don't like handling meat unless it is cooked). 

6.  I am thankful for the blessing of a restful and full nights sleep last night.

I hope you are taking time in the busyness of this Holiday Season to consider the big and little things that you are thankful for each day.  I would love to have you comment and share some of the things you are Thankful for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Seven Days till Thanksgiving

Today, I am thankful for many things, but due to my own tiredness and inability to focus tonight I'm going to stress only one.

I am thankful for organizations that help make me aware of issues going on in our country that I am not typically aware of.  One such organization is One Million  If you have never heard of OneMillion Moms, I encourage you to go check out their website.  They are helping give mothers like me a voice to let businesses and other companies know how I feel about their support of inappropriate TV shows as well as inappropriate ad campaigns.  A recent one that I participated in involved Wrigley's Chewing Gum.  Apparently Wrigley's has put funny sayings on the inside wrapper of the gum.  I don't have a problem with this, but I do have a problem with my children unwrapping gum and reading a statement about undressing you with your eyes.  This leads my children's thoughts down a road they have no business going.  One Million Moms notified me by e-mail of this either yesterday or today.  I simply clicked and was able to use a form letter and adjust as I saw fit.  E-mailed Wrigley's and have already received confirmation that Wrigley's is pulling this saying out of their gum packages.  If you are a mother looking to have a voice and let companies know what you don't want them supporting.  Come join One Million Moms.
James 3:2-6
For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.  Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.

Like fire, the tongue's sinful words can spread destruction rapidly, or as its accompanying smoke, those means can permeate and ruin everything around it.  I must carefully guard my tongue that it be used for good and to build people up rather than to bring pain and destruction.

As a mother of several young children I find that it is often difficult to bridle my tongue.  I love my children dearly, but their are many times that their fighting, arguing, or constant asking for food (ie. candy) can strike a nerve.  When I explode in anger or frustration, my tongue is no longer guarded.  Raising my children is such an important task that I cannot afford to allow my tongue to destroy my children.  I know how hurtful words can be -- they can be the making or the breaking of a person. 

For example, I do enjoy watching the biggest loser.  This season, Ada is a young lady on the show who has lost two brothers and almost lost her third brother in a car accident.  When her parents found out about the accident they accused Ada of trying to kill her third brother also.  Now, I know this is an extreme example, but I'm certain you can imagine the damage those words caused even though they may have simply been said in anger or fear.  Now I don't know whether or not her parents meant it when they made this statement.  But simply stating it is enough for a child to be convinced that her parents believe that the deaths of her two younger brothers is her fault.

I MUST carefully guard my words.  Words I say in haste without examining how they will be received can cause hurt in my children that I cannot reverse. 

My prayer today is that I will bridle my tongue and seek to encourage and exhort my children.  My goal is to affirm each of my children for things they do or say at least three times throughout the day today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

9 Days till Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and I am finding I have so much to be thankful for.  Today I am thankful  for

1. a kind neighbor who was willing to give me a ride home from the funeral.  I was able to go prepare things for the meal and didn't have to stand out in the cold for the graveside service.

2. having a successful day of homeschooling despite all of the extra things thrown into this day.  I'm always thankful when we are able to get everything done that's scheduled (although I am also thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling).

3. we are able to rent the home we wanted to rent for our extended family vacation to Yellowstone next summer.  Also, I am thankful that we were able to get it for a better price than we were originally quoted.

4. a daughter who enjoys music and who today practiced without arguing or complaining.  Violin practice is becoming much easier and getting done quicker now that the complaining is reduced.

5. that my kids think they are cats, cows, and horses.  If you were to stop in my house unexpectedly, you may find a couple of girls crawling around meowing and a two-year old riding a stick horse saying "Nay", and another boy who will be anything from a dragon (Thanks to "How to Train your Dragon") to a lion.  They are a constant source of entertainment.  Let me adjust this statement. My four-year old is now a "Hero" with his spider man shirt and a purple flowered cape :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 Days till Thanksgiving

Wow, I almost forgot to write what I'm thankful for today. 

1.  I am thankful for a six year old daughter who is relatively responsible and an handle pushing a shopping cart with both of her brothers in it so I can push the cart with groceries.

2.  I am thankful for a good friend who needed to go visit someone in the hospital today so she was able to accompany me up for Kara's violin lesson -- This allowed J.A. to stay home and study and prepare for a funeral tomorrow.

3.  I am thankful that we are in the middle of November and I can still walk around outside comfortably without a jacket during the day.

4.  I am thankful and excited about all of the yummy food that we are going to make this week and put in the freezer so I don't have to cook the month after Gabriel is born :)

5.  Most of all, I am thankful for the precious gift of salvation that my Lord has given me.  Without it I know I would be a self-centered, selfish and unloving mother to my children.  God's Word has incredible power to turn a life around.

Monday, November 15, 2010

11 Days till Thanksgiving

1.  I am thankful for the strong movements Gabriel has everyday.  I'm so thrilled that in a month I'll be cuddling a new little baby (or at least I hope it's only a month longer).

2.  I am thankful for the privilege to teach my children at home.  And I am thankful that as of today we are all caught up with school.

3.  I am thankful for the delicious cup of fake eggnog that I am enjoying, and for the easy recipe to make it much lower in calorie and fat than the real stuff.

4.  I am also thankful that with the exception of my doctor who delivered Andy, I have always been blessed to have a Christian doctor -- even as a child my doctor was a believer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

13 Days Tilll Thanksgiving and a list included for tomorrow.

Wow, it's hard for me to believe that we are only two weeks away from Thanksgiving.  I am so far behind on everything I had planned to get accomplished before Thanksgiving.  However, I am thankful that most of what I "planned" to get done is simply part of "my agenda" and not necessarily what NEEDS to be accomplished.  I will be including a longer list today so I can take a good break from the computer tomorrow.

Today there is so much to be thankful for.  Last night the weather forecast included snow.  Today we woke up to a comfortable fall day.

I am thankful for the privilege to be able to have my own Bible, and to be able to provide each of my children with their own Bible/Bible Story Books.  This week I have enjoyed making my personal time with God the first thing to start the day (usually while J.A. fixes breakfast).  Since the kids are usually trying to talk with me during my reading, I have had each of them get a Bible or Bible story book to read.  This has freed me up to be able to dig a little deeper in my reading and not just a quick surface study.  As a result, my week has gone so much smoother than it normally does.

I am also thankful that I don't have to fix supper for my family tonight :)  With what may be our last football game in town today, we are going to go and enjoy the tailgate party -- free dinner and a football game -- Andy will be floating on top of the world!!

I am thankful that my computer charger is still working.  One of the kids knocked the cord out of my computer this morning.  The pin got bent and broke off.  I thought all was lost and I'd have to order a new charger.  JA the smart and intelligent man that he is said I should plug it in to my computer anyways and see if it would still provide power.  Hurray it does!!!  Of course, it may be a good thing to spend several days away from my computer :)

I am thankful for the opportunity to school my children at home.  While we don't yet know how long we will continue to homeschool (we are taking it year by year based on our schedules and the kids needs), it has been a joy to be able to have a flexible schedule and to be able to identify characteristics in my kids that I may not have realized had I not been working with them.

I am also thankful for how God so specifically works in our lives.  Wednesday, Kara stole a piece of candy from her brother.  JA and I talked with her about it, and then I took the kids to Kids4Truth.  The lesson of the evening was on STEALING!  Isn't it great how God uses others to help reinforce the training we are giving our young children.

 I am also thankful for where God has placed us.  We are living in a small rural community with very few places to take the kids for activities (other than shopping and the library).  This has helped me to not be so focused on getting out of the house but to enjoy the simple things that our community has to offer -- such as taking the kids to the health fair, going to football games, and enjoying those community events as they come up and making them a priority rather than just an optional activity.

I am thankful for wonderful parents whom I can call and ask to pray for me when I know I am going to have a rough day.

I am thankful for the wonderful invention of computers.  I am a horrible letter writer, I hate talking on the phone, and I'm not very good at communicating.  But, with J.A.'s mom in Africa I want my kids to know their grandmother.  Thanks to Skype the kids are able to visit with and see their grandmother regularly.  And while I know she doesn't like it when the sound goes out on her end, it's probably a blessing since all four kids are usually clambering and talking at once.  I'm looking forward to being able to show off our newest addition to her when he chooses to make his grand entrance.

I could go on and on, but Kara is beginning her violin practice now so I need to be more attentive to her.

Friday, November 12, 2010

14 Days until Thanksgiving

Thankulness -to show or express appreciation or gratitude to, as by saying “thank you”

I am thankful for God's mercy.  I am undeserving of all that God has given me, and yet He continues to provide and bless our family.  
I am thankful for my husband, J.A.  He truly is a blessing and one of a kind.  He takes an active role in parenting.

I am thankful for Andy and Ezekiel and the endless entertainment they provide as they wrestle, and sword fight, and run around the house.

I am thankful for Kara and Lydia and the decision they have made to give their lives to God.

Be Merciful

James 2:13
"For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.  Mercy triumphs over judgment."

John MacArthur writes "A person who shows no mercy and compassion for people in need demonstrates that he has never responded to the great mercy of God, and as an unredeemed person will receive only strict, unrelieved judgment in eternal hell.  Mercy triumphs over judgment.  The person whose life is characterized by mercy is ready for the day of judgment, and will escape all the charges that strict justice might bring against him because by showing mercy to others he lives genuine evidence of having received God's mercy.

I must be careful not to judge others, but to be merciful and concerned about them in their need.  I often find this difficult because I get frustrated by people who are too lazy to work and provide for their families.  We can be very quick to judge, and the Bible is clear that we must not judge but be merciful.  God is the supreme judge.  He will judge people or their actions.  God's command to me is to not judge but to be merciful.  I can be merciful by providing food to a family who is struggling -- sometimes this may be groceries, and other times it could be a single hot meal.  Passing on clothes my children have outgrown to children whose parents can't afford it.  Taking a few minutes out of my day to drive someone to a doctor's appointment.  However, if I "show mercy" but am judging in my heart, I am not being merciful.  Mercy is an attitude of the heart that exhibits gratitude for the great mercy God has shown towards me.  It is exhibited by the pouring out of mercy and help to those around me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

15 Days until Thanksgiving

I am thankful for so many things.  Here are just a few for today.

I am thankful for those men and women who have faithfully served our country and fought for our freedom.
I am thankful for the opportunity to take my kids to Kids 4 Truth every Wednesday at a good friends church.
I am even thankful for the various handprints that are currently all over my front window because it's a daily reminder that Ezekiel can walk, run, and climb like every healthy boy.  In fact, thanks to his year of therapy he is a healthy boy.
I am thankful for indoor plumbing and the ability to take hot baths/showers.

What are you thankful for on this beautiful fall day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

16 Days till Thanksgiving

What am I thankful for this morning?

I am thankful for the sunshine coming through my front window.
I am thankful for the ability to sleep in till 7:30 because my kids all overslept after a late night last night.
I am thankful for God's Word which convicts and teaches me how to obey God.
I am thankful for the sounds of my children's laughter as they awake this morning.
I am thankful for God's provision of food and the oatmeal that I am about to go prepare for breakfast.

True Faith Produces Faithful Actions

James 1:21-25

"Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing."
Have you ever met a person who says one thing and does the opposite?  This type of person is not one whom you respect. James warns the believers in this chapter that we should remove all filthiness and sin from ourselves so that we can truly hear God's Word.  However, it is not sufficient to attend church and sit attentively under the preaching of God's Word.  We must HEAR and OBEY God's Word.  

In training our children, we struggle with teaching that the heart attitude and actions must reflect each other.  We could be ultra strict and create miniature robots who obey simply out of fear of punishment but inside their heart rebels with every directive.  This is not the type of child we long to raise.  We long to have children who obey God's Word out of love for God and a desire to show that love.  However, we also must be careful not to be lax in discipline.  For we must teach them that sin has consequences.  

Yesterday, I called my kids in for lunch and asked them to put bowls and spoons at the table.  The bowls were placed and then all of the kids sat down around the table giggling and laughing.  I repeated the directive to place spoons -- they heard, but not one of them got up to follow through. What a clear example of how we often approach God's Word.  There have been many times that I have attended church, heard the preaching, returned home and forgotten what the sermon was about -- I cannot act upon what I've heard if I have not taken the time to reflect on it and apply it.

JA recently told me a story of a man they had attending their church when he was a boy.  This man, with long hair and a lifestyle of sin believed on Christ.  He came faithfully to church.  J.A. asked his dad "Why don't you preach against smoking, and the specific sins in this man's life?"  His dad's response was get people in the Word of God and the issues take care of themselves.  Then in a sermon JA's dad read the verse "long hair is a shame to man."  The man's immediate response was "What, that's in the Bible!"  The next week the man returned to church with the shortest hair cut.

This is the immediate act of obedience to God's Word that we each must strive for.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

17 Days till Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for good health.  For four (and Lord willing soon to be five) healthy children.  My husband is healthy, and God has graced me with good health and an easy pregnancy (with the only difficulty being heartburn). 

I am also thankful for good friends.  This morning I was up at 6:00 and met with three friends to exercise and do aerobics. I love having friends who challenge me to treat my body as the Temple of God.  My friends also help keep me from going overboard with the things that I do.

I am also thankful for our van.  Modern Transportation is such a blessing.  Without it we would not be able to see family as frequently as we do, nor would we be able to allow our oldest daughter to take violin lessons (since her lessons are a 1 1/2 hour drive away every other week).

Quick to Learn

James 1:19-20
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."

I have a problem. I like to talk, and I enjoy sharing what I learn with other people.  However, the Bible is very clear that it is better for a person to be quiet than to share all that he knows.  Verse 19  reminds me that I need to be an eager learner -- learning from a variety of sources and circumstances.  While I am to be learning, I must also be careful of whom my teachers are.  Everything I learn must be compared with the Bible to make sure that I am learning truth and not lies.  Then, I must also be slow to speak.  Just because I know something does not mean I need to share it with everybody I meet.  For example,

when we lived in Wisconsin I was going to a chiropractor for my headaches.  After about three sessions I quit going -- why?  because every time I went the chiropractor spent the entire time telling me why vaccinations were so horrible for my children.  Now, I tend to think of myself as a somewhat intelligent person, capable of making informed decisions.  With my children I have researched everything from what type of diaper pail to use to which vaccinations are considered questionable, and I did not appreciate having this doctor's opinion forced on me at every turn. 

I must be careful that I am not like that chiropractor sharing information just because I know it.  There are times when I may need to share what God's Word says in order to help another believer, but I must be wise with the timing and make sure that what I am saying is what God says and not just my own opinion.

Monday, November 08, 2010

18 Days until Thanksgiving

 With 18 Days until Thanksgiving, my friend Jenny has challenged us to list things that we are thankful for.
1. I am thankful for children who love to read and learn
2. I am thankful that we were able to finish painting/redoing our bathroom before the baby came.
3. I am thankful for a warm and comfortable house to live in.
 4. I am thankful for family that lives close enough to join us for family celebrations such as the kids birthdays and Thanksgiving.
5.  I am thankful for the new bicycle helmets my children were able to receive at the health fair last week (This saved us almost $100).

We serve an awesome and amazing God who knows our needs before we even know them.  He has blessed me with an amazing family.
James 1:16-18 
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Frequently when sharing the gospel one will hear the statement, "How can God be a loving God if there is so much evil in the world.  How can there be a God with so much pain and suffering?"  These are the types of statements that James is addressing.  Verses 16 and 17 tell us not to be deceived.  God is not the author of pain, suffering, and evil.  He bestows gifts on us that are good and perfect -- those gifts that are adequate, complete, and beneficial.

Evil, pain, and suffering are the results of sin.  But God has "Of his own will brought us forth by the word of truth."  This speaks of the regeneration of sinners.  God's work gives us salvation.  Nothing I can do or choose to do will give me favor with God.  Only by the Word of Truth (the Bible) can I realize my need for God and accept the precious gift of His Son.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

How Happy Are You?

I find God's Word to be an endless source of encouragement and conviction -- often at the same time.  Today my reading brought me to James 1:12-15.
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death."

Last September I attended a Women's Retreat and the speaker, Debi Pride, challenged us to read the word "Blessed" as "How Happy."  So in coming to this passage the first thing I read is How Happy is the man who remains steadfast under trial.  Wow, so if I am steadfast and endure the trial, I will be truly happy (not the flittering happiness that the world pursues).  What an encouragement to continue to endure.  However, I am also reminded of the opposite.  If I choose to quite the trial, or to throw a pity party for myself, or any other choice than to trust God I will be miserable.  This truly is a conviction to my spirit this morning. I am frequently seeking new ways to get out of my personal trial.  Yet, this is not what God has planned for me.  God has promised that if I endure He will give me the crown of life.

Continuing to verse 13, the word "Trials" has been translated "temptation."  "James' point is that every difficult circumstance that enters a believer's life can either strengthen him if he obeys God and remains confident in His care, or become a solicitation to evil if the believer chooses instead to doubt God and disobey His Word.  God cannot be tempted.  God by His holy nature has no capacity for evil, or vulnerability to it. Nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  God purposes trials to occur and in them He allows temptation to happen, but He has promised not to allow more than believers can endure and never without a way of escape.  I choose whether to take the escape God provides or to give in.

My prayer today is that I will endure the trial so that I can truly say "God is my strength."

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Glory in Exaltation and Humiliation

I am continually amazed by the number of intelligent people who believe the lies of prosperity preachers.  By intelligent people, I mean those people who are capable of reading, interpreting, and researching what they hear.  When they plan an investment they research and study out the company they desire to invest in, but when choosing a pastor they choose one who tells them that God wants them to prosper materially.  While I despise the message of the prosperity preacher who leads people down the path of destruction and seeking material possessions, I cannot understand how the intelligent person can sit in the pew week after week listening and believing this message -- do they not read the Bible for themselves?  The Bible repeatedly speaks of how difficult it is for the rich man to become a believer.  It also speaks of men who love and obey God who live their lives with nothing.  Even Christ, the Son of God walked upon this earth with no material possessions, no home to live in, and nothing to call his own.  If God wanted us, his children, to prosper physically, would he not have had his own Son prospering to the greatest extent.

James 1:9-11 discusses the poor man and the rich man.
  "Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits."

Continuing in his discussion of trials, James discusses the trial of the poor believer who is exalted.  Even though this man has nothing to his name, he is able to boast in his spiritual standing before God and the hope that it brings.  The rich man however faces a different trial.  The rich man must face the trial of being able to rejoice in losing his riches and accepting his humiliation as his ability to partake in the sufferings of Christ.  Riches come and go, the poor man can be made rich quickly, and the rich man can be brought down to nothing.  However, our spiritual standing in Christ is far greater than any riches and can not be taken from us as our material possessions can be.  Let us as believers not boast in the things we have or the things we do not have, but let us boast and rejoice in the hope of our future with Christ.  If we are blessed with material things, let us use our possessions to bless others.  If we are blessed with poverty, let us rejoice in how God provides our daily needs and share this blessing with others.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Counting it All Joy

God has been so faithful and has blessed us in so many ways I can't even begin to name them.  Yet, I struggle.  I struggle with selfishness, pride, and discontent.  I struggle with the desire to have what I see as my future right now rather than waiting and rejoicing in today.

James 1:2-8 were a wonderful rebuke to me this morning. 
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

As I read the verses, I am reminded about trials.  Nobody's trials are the same.  For one person it may be the loss of a loved one, the suffering of a child, or the loss of financial stability.  For others, it may simply be the struggle of day to day living.  I find it too easy to compare my trials with those of others.  Yes, my trial may not have me raising four kids alone, or suffering at the hand of persecutors as those Christian's in other nations do.  However, my trial is still a trial and for me to discount it makes it difficult for me to see the hand of God working in my life.  God has given me this trial to teach my faith endurance to make me complete.  Therefore, as Chinese Christians rejoice in their physical persecution, I too must rejoice in my trial.  God is Faithful!  All I have to do is to ask Him for wisdom to handle and endure and He has promised to give me all the wisdom I need -- not dolled out in tiny servings that do not satisfy, but sufficient wisdom to endure the trial and to walk through it with Joy in knowing my God will bring me through the fire.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Happenings at Church

I don't have a whole lot to add, other than here is our wonderful and amazing church family.  We had the privilege of having Tim and Lily Killillay and their five children spend the weekend with us and share their heart for Peru to our church family on Sunday.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Birthday Fun

Andy's birthday was quite a crazy day for us here.

 Andy's favorite birthday presents -- Legos and a new scooter

 In the afternoon the kids enjoyed trick or treating at all the businesses downtown.
Here are all the kids in their costumes -- Queen Ester, King Solomon, (can't remember what Tim was), Jonah, and Pharoah's Daughter.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Busy Week

Wow, this has been an incredibly busy week for our family.  Thursday was Andy's birthday, and I'll try to share pictures on another post.  Yesterday I had a pampered chef party to get my sister's wedding gift (Pampered Chef pans).  And this morning we took the kids to the health fair, installed the new church sign, and are awaiting our weekend company.

 We really enjoyed the Health Fair this morning.  J.A. went shortly after it opened to go get his blood work done while I stayed home and fed the kids breakfast.  Once J.A. returned and finished breakfast we all walked up to the high school together to enjoy the health fair together.
 Each of the kids had the opportunity to decorate their own pumpkin.  Ezekiel was having so much fun using the markers on his pumpkins that I don't think he even noticed all the glue his brother and sisters were using.  However, once Andy discovered the stickers there was no stopping Ezekiel from adding the stickers to his pumpkin.
 Walking around the different booths the kids enjoyed a variety of treats -- some stickers, candy (imagine candy and chocolate at a health fair), and all four kids were able to get new bicycle helmets.  Again, Ezekiel is really excited to be joining the ranks of his brother and sisters with his new head gear. 

After our adventurous morning, the kids were ready to come home and do some work.  Kara and Lydia went next door to help a neighbor rake leaves, and Andy went to go help daddy and some men from church install a new church sign.
 Last month, the men came and laid the foundation for our new church sign.
 Yesterday our new sign arrived, and today JA along with some men from the church installed the new sign.  The electrical still needs connected, but the new sign is up and on display. 
 Ezekiel enjoyed watching the progression of the sign from the sidelines, 
and you can see his wonderful new bike helmet.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Birthday Andy!

 Four years ago, our family was in a difficult position.  JA was working a job he did not enjoy because they wanted him to push sales of a satellite TV system.  We didn't have our own home, so we were living with my parents, brother, and sister in their three bedroom house. And, we had no prospects for a ministry position we greatly longed to serve in.  Yet, in the midst of this time, God chose to bless us with one of the cutest and sweetest gifts possible -- My Andy. 
 Andy was named after his grandfather that I've never had the privilege of meeting, yet I know this man was a godly and dedicated father.  This is evidenced by the incredible three sons that he and his wife raised -- All who are planning to serve in the ministry as God permits.  Andy has a very compassionate and caring heart -- even towards his own sisters (which I think is the biggest indication of how loving he is).
 Andy, is one who loves to help and work.  If you need something, he is one of the first to volunteer to go get it.  He loves helping daddy load up the car to take the trash to the dump.  He has also been busy this fall raking the leaves.
 While Andy did not start off life with a bed (who needs a bed when you have a laundry basket :) ), he is growing into quite the young man.  In fact, I think if we would let him he would gladly let Ezekiel sleep in his bed with him -- but I don't think they would get much sleep as the two brothers love to sword fight and play trucks together.
 Andy's sweet smile melted my heart when he was born.  I fell in love with his cleft and actually cried when it was repaired.  As you can see in the picture above, the cleft just made his smile look so big.  However, Andy did not lose his great smile.  Now he loves to smile and make goofy faces.  He is certainly one of a kind, and following his daddy's footsteps in the area of humor.
 Andy's eating habits have not changed much in the last three years.  The only difference is his food doesn't usually make it up above his eyes :)
 Andy is always running, jumping, and climbing.  He has this need for constant movement.  Despite the lack of athletic ability JA and I have, Andy loves sports.  He loved playing t-ball this year, and this morning turned his sisters house slippers into a football (quickly squelched by his ever loving mother though).

As I've said before, Andy is Daddy's little helper.  He has helped daddy fix the living room fan, install a kitchen faucet, build the potatoe box (which by the way produced nothing).  He is always trying to build things and loves walking around with his toy hammer.

One of the most exciting characteristics about my little boy is his spiritual sensitivity.  For the last six months, Andy's prayer request is that God would give Ezekiel and himself white hearts.  A couple of months ago Andy began telling us he had a white heart, and that he had prayed and asked Jesus to save him.  While we don't know for sure where Andy's heart is, we do know that he loves God and wants to obey him.  Time will tell as we interact and discuss with Andy (and possibly have him pray again as we see the need).  Please pray with us for our little boy that he will choose to follow Christ as his two older sisters have.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Precious Moments

On our way home from our trip to Uncle Ted's, we stopped to enjoy some Precious Moments at the Precious Moments Chapel.

The kids enjoyed climbing on the animals outside after we ate our picnic lunch of McDonalds.

How many kids can you fit on one turtle?

I'm working on training Ezekiel to walk holding Kara's hand, so when the baby comes and my hands are full I know he will obey.
The fountains all over the property were beautiful and relaxing.
 I love the illustration of the cross and the open grave.
 The playhouse the artist designed and built for his grandchildren
 Meeting with friends in Glory -- I am looking forward to this wonderful reunion.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Living the Farm Life

 The first week of September, all four kids and I drove with Oma and Uncle Tim to Missouri.  The kids enjoyed three nights of living on a farm and playing with the animals.  Betty had four young kids (the kind that grow up to be milked) and my kids had a blast playing with them.  The first thing they wanted to do when the woke up was go outside and lead the goats -- even before breakfast!  They also had a hard time coming in at the end of the day.  Above you can see Lydia with her first goat -- she soon switched to a different kid as this one was too stubborn to follow her.
 Ezekiel's favorite part of the week was playing with Queenie.  I have never met a dog who does so well with young kids who doesn't live with young kids.  Here you can see Queenie giving Ezekiel kisses.
 The kids really enjoyed the afternoon playing in the creek.
Here it almost looks like Kara is leading two goats, but I think she is trying to help her sister to get her goat moving.  Kara also enjoyed going in the hen house to collect eggs.  Who knows, in a few years we may need to build a small coop and get some laying hens.  I certainly have an eager egg collector.

We really had a wonderful time in Missouri.  I even had the opportunity to see my cousin Jackie for a few minutes.  The kids are already asking about when we get to go back and visit Uncle Ted and Betty again.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Apple Picking

Last week we took the kids to Cortland to go apple picking.  We had a great time, and Kara probably picked the most apples.
Ezekiel helped daddy pull the wagon with the basket for the apples in it.
Kara and Lydia pretty much filled this basket themselves.
We did have to constantly remind the kids not to climb the apple trees since they weren't are apples.
Kara was a big help with peeling and coring apples to make our apple pie filling.
Here are all four kids after spending two hours picking apples.  They had a 
blast and are already asking to go apple picking again.