Thursday, June 28, 2007

I AM--Lesson Nine, I AM Your Fame: A Set Up for a Show Up

This week's lesson from Lisa at The Preacher's Wife is absolutely amazing. The scripture reading is Exodus 5:1-7:7. Hop on over to her site for the commentary. Here are my answers to the discussion questions.

Discussion Questions:
1. On a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how often your conversation is seasoned with the works of the Lord on your behalf? If you speak very little of Him, is there a reason you know of? If you speak often, how do people respond?

I'd say that I'd rate myself about an 8. Talking about God in my life is so natural to me, I don't even realize I'm doing it at times. But I do get responses to my "God talk." I think some people around me (in particular a few taxi drivers who listen to me and the girls regularly) think I'm just some kind of fanatic. Some friends have expressed that they wish they could talk about what God is doing as naturally as I do (I, of course, tell them they can!). Others are more than willing to reciprocate with what God is doing in their life. Quite a varied response.

2. Have you experienced a Set Up for a Show Up when you were uncertain whether the situation was the chastisement of the Lord or a temptation of Satan?

I'm sure I have experienced this, but honestly nothing specific is coming to mind. So many of the times that God has displayed His wonders in my life, it was brought on by my stupidity or disobedience and He showed up anyway to fix it. Thank God for mercy. I have been an actor in a Set up to Show up in a friend's life. It was/is definitely God moving and setting things up to show His glory. Unfortunately that friend just doesn't want to see that it is God. I still stand hopeful and prayerful waiting for the outcome. (I wonder if other's could say that about my life, that they see God setting it up but I'm missing it? something more to think about)

3. Have you ever or are you now experiencing any Job trials where you can still not identify any wrong-doing on your part?

I have in the past walked a path that, even years later, I see no wrong-doing on my part to start the trial. Unfortunately, my response was not very Job-like and I may have had to endure the trial longer than was really necessary. But God showed Himself faithful through it and it was a tremendous faith-builder in the long run.

4. Apply this principle: How can my response make my God famous? Will obedience result in my sanctification and God's Glory?

How can my response make my God famous? People watch us. They notice when we respond with grace and mercy, especially in disgraceful and unmerciful circumstances. When I respond as God would have me respond and give Him the credit for allowing me to respond like that, people take notice. The glory comes when I say "I do it because of God" and allow people to see Him shine instead of me cope.

Will obedience result in my sanctification and God's glory? I believe yes. We have to be careful not to act as if our obedience gets us to heaven--that is only through the blood of Jesus. But when I choose to obey, it makes me more like Jesus (which is the core of what sanctification means to me). And if I am more like Jesus, I am pointing to the Father and therefore God is getting the glory.

5. Does the origin of our affliction matter in view of the fame God can gain from it?

I think the origin of our affliction brings different kinds of fame for God. I believe that when people see us cope and give God glory during a perceived unjust circumstance they take more notice. They are able to see grace under pressure. They are able to see peace that passes understanding. And as they think, "I couldn't bear that" and we tell them "neither can we but God can" they get a picture of God's power and might. And that spreads the renown of His name.

However, when the source of our affliction is our own sinfulness people identify differently. They know that they fail. When they see us fail and see God deliver us from the circumstance of our failure (or through the circumstances in some cases) they can resonate with wanting that in their life. Therefore the fame of His compassion and His grace and His mercy are spread.

Different afflictions show the different characteristics of God--but all spread His glory.

Hope you enjoy this week's study! Thank you Lisa!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This post is for the birds

or at least about the birds (and a little about God's goodness).

We are blessed to live on an estate/neighbourhood that has three little man-made lakes. In fact as I sit and type this post I am staring out the window at the lake across our little street. This year we have lots and lots of water fowl who have babies. It is so much fun! There was a Mallard family that I was unable to get pics of. Then, two families of Canadian Geese.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket (here is one of the families--yes they think they own the neighbourhood)
Then the mama swan hatched two eggs:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Then another set of ducklings:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
And then another family of geese moved in but I can't find any of German's pics of them so they are probably still on his camera. We also have a baby coot--a black fuzz ball--bouncing around but mama won't let me anywhere near. The girls have been thrilled because they have watched the process from eggs to babies to changing feathers as they grow. We walk almost every evening around the lakes so they can take pictures with their Fisher Price digital cameras (great little cameras for kids). The geese and swans often come into our front garden to eat, sleep and do other business. They are the messiest birds! (Maria I don't know how you managed hatching ducklings and getting them a start in life!)

As wonderful as the water fowl are, I was not satisfied. Early in the year we had a peahen visiting us regularly in the back garden. I had not seen her in a long while. Last Thursday morning I was telling my prayer partner that I would really love to have peachicks. I thought it would be so cool to see the little ones. That very afternoon, the gas man came to read the meter. As I let him out back to get the reading, in the midst of a gale of wind and rain, I saw this on our slide:
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I wasn't sure, but I thought, maybe it was a peachick because of the top knot. I prayed that I'd get another chance to see him. I kept an eye out, but of course was not watching when mom came and took him home. The next evening we were eating dinner outside and the peahen and four chicks briefly hopped on the roof of the garage next door. God is so good! I got to see my peachicks. Then Monday, she brought them to eat in our garden.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
If you look closely you will see that there are five chicks. She brought them right up to the window. At some point, the girls must have scared her because she gathered them all up under her. But one was way to curious and kept peeking out.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
It is such a blessing to see God's creation up close. The girls are delighting in watching them (in fact that is what they are doing as I write this post). They are learning about how a mama bird cares for her babies. We are blessed. And I just wanted to share the pictures with you. Thank you for indulging me.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

IOW--Praying for Everything

I love to listen to my children pray. Flower is just learning to say 'amen' (often loudly as the preacher prays, good thing she is cute). Jewel is really learning the power of prayer. And, she prays for everything:
...she prays for the baby ducks to not be afraid in the wind
...she prays that her daddy will have 'good meetings' at work
...she prays for 'lovely day' at school
...she prays for Flower to 'not pee on the floor' (ok mommy prays this too but not aloud!)
...she prays that we can go for a walk or to the park
Whatever she thinks about is what she prays. And it makes her mommy smile. I smile even more when she sees God's hand and gives him credit. She thanks Him when we were able to walk, or the wind stops, or Flower has a good day. I do encourage her to pray (we have prayer as we start school and before bed and at meals), but I don't necessarily teach her what to say. The thing that amazes me is how much more she prays for now that she sees God answering prayers. What used to be a 'good day of school' one-liner now is a run on sentence of thanks and petition. The more she prays, the more she wants to pray.

"When there is little awareness of real need there is little real prayer."
~ Donald S. Whitney ~
Spiritual Disciplines For the Christian Life

I want to be more like that. I want to see God at work in the little things I've prayed. I believe that the more we see Him in the little things the more He reveals to us. It's true in my life. If I am breezing through life praying quick little surface prayers, He will often answer them but that is where the process ends. But if I am spending concentrated time in prayer He will bring to mind more and more things that I need to bring to Him in prayer. The more focused I am on praying the more aware I am of the needs around me. I become less self-focused and am therefore other-focused. If I am focusing on others I will notice if someone is not making eye contact, is downcast or anxious--needs to bring to the Father. If my eyes are turned upward and outward, I will see God at work in the greater world. And I want to be a part of what He is accomplishing. Often my part is prayer. How great a privilege! I don't want to take it for granted.

At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. Matthew 11:25-26

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4

Father, help me approach you in prayer as a child. Help me delight in all that you do around me. Make me unashamed to ask for anything that you bring to my heart and mind. Draw me to Yourself in quiet times of prayer where you can reveal the needs around me. Make me sensitive to people to look past the surface and to see the needs. And give me courage to not only pray for peoples' needs but to be a minster of You in their lives. Broaden my perspective to see community and world needs. May I never lose sight of how much You love the whole world, and may that be a prayer burden on my heart. Thank you for teaching me through my children. Bless them today and grow them into women of prayer as well. In Jesus' precious and Holy name...Amen.

Our hostess this week is Laurel Wreath. Please follow the link to see what "others" are saying this week. You are sure to be blessed!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Defining Biblical Marriage

Christine over at Fruit in Season hosts an awesome Monday meme called Marriage Monday that I have yet to actually participate. I find Monday a difficult day to blog for some reason. Right now she is leading a 30 day challenge to honor our husbands. Again, awesome idea and I'm praying along with everyone but not participating. (I've been on a 6 month challenge to respect my husband and the results have been amazing. But I haven't felt comfortable blogging much about it since German is so private. Maybe someday.) Anyway, a couple of weeks back, Marriage Monday was about traditional or comtemporary marriage, what is a biblical marriage, etc. And my wheels have been spinning. I would definitely call my marriage traditional (sahm while husband works) and I would pray that it is a Biblical marriage, but I hadn't really been able to articulate what that meant since it really is my only framework for looking at marriage.

Then, Monday happened. And I was in my quilt group which is made up of 15 ladies, about half attend church and half have no church or God interest at all. The conversation was enlightening and I found my difference between a non-Biblical traditional marriage and a Biblical traditional marriage. Pretty much everyone in the room would say their marriage was traditional. In the group there are 5 expats including myself. The other 4 are preparing to return to the US. Their husbands are all looking for their next assignment and a few have been to interviews and check out potential new homes. Here was the discussion:
S: We really don't have a clue where will end up.
G: Well we aren't sure either. Place I is definitely a no, but Place H, Place S or Place C are still possibilities.
S: I'd never go to Place H.
G: We actually liked it. I don't care where we go as long as hubby is happy.
S: I want him to be happy too, but we wouldn't be happy there.
G: What if that is where the only job is?
S: Then he can be happy there without me because I'm going to Place S.

I wasn't sure how to even respond. I have definitely had input into every place that we have moved (i.e. I've said what I like and what I haven't liked) but I've never said "I'll be in x". I don't make that decision, German does. I don't have an equal vote. And I certainly don't have veto power. It is his career, and he gets to make that decision. But I realized that for me it goes deeper than that (and this is how I'd define a Biblical marriage): German will be held accountable for how he led this family and cared for this family before God, therefore he gets to make those decisions. Biblically the husband is given the leadership role and will be judged accordingly. I will be held accountable for how I followed German's lead and served God with the talents He has given me. Part of my job is to trust that German is following God's lead and as long as where he is leading is not against God's word I'm to go. (Although I have told German and God that if the call is ever to the Middle East, Someone is going to have to write it on the wall so I'm sure.) For me a Biblical marriage is each person fulfilling the role of husband and wife as laid out in Scripture. I find that incredibly freeing, not limiting. I am content to follow where he leads, and spend my energy doing the things I am called to do (like prepare the girls for whatever is next, teach them consistently, encourage and support German, etc). I am so thankful I am not like my friend "S" who has already decided where the job cannot take her. I wonder what blessings she may have missed, totally unaware. I don't want to be a stopper to the blessings God wants to pour out.

Last year when German decided to resign his job before we had a new job, I was surprised how many people commented on my "letting" him do that. I didn't "let" him. I followed him and I trusted him and God, but the decision was his. I am so thankful for that! We would have missed a tremendous blessing if we had played it safe. Much of the testimony of God's faithfulness would have been lost. And German's absolute and unwavering faith in the God who led him would have been negated if his wife had "let" him follow God. I believe that he will receive a blessing for stepping out in faith (more than we have already received here). I believe my blessing comes from following and supporting even if in my head occassionally I was saying God this is scary. God rewards the faithfulness of His children. I'm so glad I didn't stop God's blessings poured out on my husband. And I am thrilled how much God taught me about being a respectful wife during that time.

So how about you? How would you define your marriage? How does that play out practically in the everyday of your life? How would you like it be different? I'd love to hear your thoughts as we grow together.

Thank you Christine for getting my thought wheels turning.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I AM--Lesson Eight, Instrument of Wonders

Yay! Lisa's back! I have missed this study the last couple of weeks, but I'm glad Lisa had a good time away with her family.

Here are this week's discussion quesitons. For the full discussion, please visit The Preacher's Wife.

1. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to 'go back' to a place of shame or ridicule? How did that make you feel?

Oh, yes, many times I've had to "go back" to the point of shame or ridicule in order to see it from God's perspective and let Him heal it. Sometimes it is a virtual going back--revisiting the feeling and emotions. Other times I have had to physically go back to the place or the people who were present (or even causing the ridicule). Neither is easy. I'd say the overall feeling in those times was uneasiness, ineffectiveness and that of being small. But at that time God has always shown me His sufficiency, His effectiveness and His greatness.

2. Is there any circumstance in your life that still has you running for cover? Share if you feel comfortable.

I wouldn't say I'm running for cover. There are situations that I am more acutely aware of needing God's armor because they are not going to be easy or pleasant. I feel that is just part of God's teaching me to be more aware and more prepared.

3. When is the last time you felt like an overcomer?

I've been feeling like an overcomer a lot these days. I am putting to rest some nagging thoughts regarding a friend. I am seeing God reveal Himself in my marriage as I learn to respect more and talk less. My diet is more and more under God's control--and the weight is coming off. I am becoming more the parent I want to be and not allowing my childhood to encroach as often. God is blessing me. He is soooo good!

4. If you have not yet taken the serpent by the tail, are you willing to stop running, take hold and trust God to transform it into a tool for wonders?

I believe I am allowing God to transform my serpents into tools of wonder. It is so amazing to see the results!

5. I would like for you to write down this statement based on 1 John 2:14 somewhere you will see it often this week: "I am strong, the Word of God abides in me, and I have overcome the evil one." Memorize it. Say it over and over until you believe it. Will you do this?? Most of the time, there are no right or wrong answers, but on this one, I'm expecting a 'yes'!

well....if you insist ;) I did a study of 1 John last year that spoke volumes to me. So, yes, I'll memorize it!

Thank you all for visiting! Thank you Lisa for teaching us so much through this study. Bless you!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

IOW--Lonely or Just Alone?

"As Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift--as God's gift--so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God."

~ Henri Nouwen ~

I am an introvert. I draw my energy from alone time. I often find being with people draining and overpowering. I withdraw to recharge.

As a kid that need came out as crippling shyness. It caused me to not engage people at all. I did not understand the balance. So, often, I found myself lonely, feeling left out and resenting the kids that could easily make friends. For this child aloneness was not a gift, it was a burden. My family lived 10 miles from my nearest friend, so looking back it probably was a gift that I did not *need* to be around friends constantly since I could not, but I needed to learn how to be a friend. Oh, I made it work for me. I buried myself in books and writing and studying. I dreamed big dreams. I became an independent thinker. But I missed out on the pure joy of sharing my life with a playmate.

As a young adult going away to university, that need for aloneness began to be a gift. I was in a great group of Christians on campus that emphasized and taught about being alone with Jesus. The being alone part came easy to me, so the addition of using that to develop my relationship with my Lord was refreshing. I was beginning to find a balance--developing a core group of Christian friends while being able to retreat into myself often. I still chose not to be involved in lots of the campus activities--shyness kept me away. But the benefit was time to study, lol. God honored that time, and began to really teach me that He had made me to need solitude. So I was able to see the gift.

As I've gotten older, the solitude has been more and more of a gift. Since we have moved a few times, that ability to be alone has made the transitions easier. I am able to ease into relationships. But I am comfortable when it is just God and me, so I carry that with me. What many people call independence is actually a contentment with God. That is not to say that I don't get lonely, I do. Several months ago I went through a desperately lonely time here. I wanted a friend with whom I could share where God was working, what God was doing. And, I just wanted someone I could *hang out* with and have a good time. It was during that time that I had some serious confrontations with God. I was honest that I loved my time with Him, but I really wanted a flesh and blood pal as well. I poured out my need to Him and in return He helped me realign the balance. He showed me that I was lonely because I was chasing people rather than chasing Him. He blessed my need for friends to spend time with. But none of those relationships are as deep as I begged Him to give me. Instead, I have gone to a deeper level of sharing with Him. In the aloneness and in the honesty, He gave me the intimacy I was so desiring. That, for me, is the heart of Henri Nouwen's quote. It is when I am alone with God that I am most honest with Him. And when I am honest with Him, He is able to give me the desires of my heart; because in that time I learn that my heart's desire is just more of Him.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:3-6

Aloneness is a gift. We can open it and embrace and learn from it. We can revel in the time with God and His Word. Or we can reject it, and chase after busyness and people. Chasing after others instead of God is what leads to loneliness--that need of someone in our life rather than trusting that Someone is our life.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of aloneness. Thank you for using that time to mold me into your vessel. Thank you for the contentment you give me with the person you made me to be. And, thank you for the friends that you bring into my life to share with and play with and reflect with. May we sharpen each other into your likeness. Draw me into your Presence. Help me to desire the intimacy of a relationship with you. Always remind me that You are my Life. In those moments when I allow loneliness to cloud my perspective and I believe that another person can alleviate my discomfort in being alone, remind me that it is You that I need above all else. In your Precious Name I pray....Amen.

Our hostess for In Other Words this week is Christine at Fruit in Season. Please follow the links to see what others are writing. I trust you will be blessed!

Thursday, June 14, 2007


I plan to be back later with a different type of post, but I've just been reading the news articles regarding Ruth Graham (wife of Billy Graham). It seems odd to be so touched by someone that I have never met. Yet she has always been an inspiration to me. She has supported her husband in ministry and in marriage. She has reared Godly children who in turn minister to others. She speaks her mind, but always with grace and charm. My heart goes out to her family today as she nears heaven's doors. Please join me in praying for them at this time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vintage Quilts and Inspiration

A few weeks ago I went over to a friend's house for a showing of vintage quilts. My friend's friend collects quilts, US and UK predominantly, and was displaying them and talking about them to a group of about 25 ladies who had gathered. They were beautiful. Some dating to the late 1800's. Most from the 1930's forward (including the one that I am using for my banner). It was fun. It was informative. I totally enjoyed myself (except for when Jewel dropped her glass of water and broke it, thankfully my friend is also gracious). My favorite was a yo-yo quilt top, pieced around scraps of paper. The history in the pieces of paper used was fascinating.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We were also invited to bring our own quilt collections to show. I took this beauty. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket When my grandmother died, we found this quilt top in her things. My aunt remembered her piecing it from her old clothes when she was sixteen (1928). My grandfather took the top and had a neighbour quilt it--she was 99 when she quilted it. He gave it to my Mom. And in April, Mom gave it to me. I will treasure it. I also took the double wedding ring that my great grandmother made for my grandmother. Another of my favorite quilts.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

But there was more to the evening than vintage quilts. The presenter also had some of her own quilts. She had one that was a flying geese pattern. She pointed out that it was her first quilt and two family members were critical of how her points came together and it almost made her quit quilting. Then she said, she decided to continue and do the types of things she loved and not worry about precision and such. This was such an inspiration to me. Back when Jewel was born I determined to make a quilt for each of her birthdays--she would leave with her own quilt collection started when she was grown. She has just about worn out her 1st year quilt. Her second year quilt is carefully displayed. And her third year quilt, wasn't finished. It was a flying geese pattern (chosen by Jewel). She loves the block and I took it and her fabric choices (pink and purple) and was going to do a windmill to represent the area we live. But, my points don't match. And some criticism from my "it's gotta be perfect" quilt friends put me off. Then I moved and lost the background material (later found). Well, the whole project had just left a bad taste in my mouth. But this lady's reminder that it is about what we love and not about precision caused me to want to finish the quilt. I abandoned the windmill idea. I assembled the flying geese in rows and quilted it. And now Jewel has her 3rd birthday quilt complete! It is far from perfect, but she loves it because now she has her purple and pink quilt. I even made a pillow cover! Sometimes looking at the old can inspire the new. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
(BTW, for her 4th birthday I opted to make a pillow out of Dora the Explorer fabric--which she adores. I have cut out Flower's first quilt and decided on what her second quilt will be--just gotta get busy. *sigh*)

In other quilty news, the cross stitch board I frequent makes baby quilts for the new babies born to members. I had the honour to quilt this piece for baby Madison. I hope she loves it as she grows.
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Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

IOW--What a Difference a Year Makes

My dear husband is known for his practicality, his ability to see a plan for the vision and his ability to execute and deliver the plan. They are God-given gifts and he uses them both at work and in his ministries. In fact, it has recently been intimated to him that his presence in a certain ministry was desired because they needed/wanted someone who could administer a plan. He's been a part of that ministry so they know his style. German and I were discussing whether God was calling him back to that ministry and he said the most interesting thing. He said, "I'm not the same person I was then and I won't lead in practicality the way they want." We went on to discuss how the past year has been a leap of faith. Then the statement was made, "Once you have followed God in faith you never want just the mundane again." He spoke of the vision he had for that ministry--and practicality did not figure into it.

What has happened in a year that took German from Mr. Practicality to Mr. Vision? Simply put, God happened. For those of you who were not reading with me last year, let me tell the story again (if you have heard it, please forgive me). German worked for the same company in IT for 18 years. He was successful. He was at the "top of his game." Things were going really well within the teams he was leading. But early in 2006, he was just not happy. He was unsettled. As everyone was praising his work, he was finding it tedious and futile. He spoke with a recruiter for another company and interviewed. Although the interview went well, he was assured that things moved "incredibly slow" in this company and not to expect to hear anything for quite a while. We went on holiday to the States. We prayed. We talked with a Godly friend about it. We prayed. We prayed some more. When we returned we just knew that God was calling German to resign. There was no job offer. There was no promise of a job offer. We live in a foreign country where we can only stay if we have a job. We lived in a house that was rented by our employer. German is a manager who could be escorted out of the building immediately if he resigns. Resigning without a job makes no sense. But God said do it--and on April 22, 2006 German gave six weeks notice and resigned his job.

And then we waited. Our landlord would not allow us to take over the lease from the company and we had to move by the end of May. We didn't have a job to put on a lease application. But we found a house that was/is perfect for us and were able to lease it without any proof of employment. We continued to wait. Many of our belongings were in storage in the US (stored by previous employer). They had to be moved to us since the company was no longer paying for the storage. That was arranged. We continued to wait. We clung to the promises that God had a plan for us, "plans to prosper (us)and not to harm (us), plans to give (us) hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11). His employer did not question his loyalty to doing his job and he was able to work out the six week notice. Mid-May German received a job offer from the company that was "extremely slow". We had heard that it could take up to 3 months from offer to start with paperwork, reference checks etc. He finished his last day of work on May 30 with his former company. He started his first day of work with his new company on June 1. God proved Himself faithful. We never missed a paycheck. We always had a roof over our head. Integrity and sanity were intact in what should have been a stressful time. But we don't see the stress, we see the hand of God. God called us to step out in faith, and we trusted Him. The results have been amazing. Someone once told me "The finger of God never points where the hand of God won't provide." How true that was for us!

But a year on, we are different people. Not daring, risk-taking at all costs fools. But people who are willing to take the risk of following God because He is faithful. He provides when He calls us out in faith. We revel in His faithfulness and we no longer quake at what 'might' happen. When God gives the vision, we want to be a part of it. And I don't want to ever go back to mundane service, now that I have experienced the joy of following God in faith. It is so much more rewarding to see Him at work. If you have never taken the risk, I urge you trust Him and follow Him--no matter how scary the path looks. He is faithful and He will reward. Blessings on your day.

“Faith never knows where it is being led, but it loves and knows the One who is leading.”
~ Oswald Chambers ~

Iris is the hostess this week for In Other Words. Please join us with your reflections on this great Oswald Chambers quote!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Birthday Musing

Today is my 39th Birthday--my real one. Next year is the monumental birthday that German is already planning for (and he is not known for being kind on 40th birthdays). For my 30th birthday he filled the yard with pink flamingos and a billboard announcing my age. Gotta love him (otherwise, you might kill him, lol).

The plans for my birthday had been set for a while. German was working in London and Warwick, so the girls and I were to spend Friday thru Tuesday away with him at the expense of the company. But then today's meeting cancelled, losing the business case to stay the weekend, and our friends from Romania were to be here yesterday and he was preaching, and .... Needless to say we spent Friday and most of Saturday in London and returned late Saturday night. It was a wonderful weekend with perfect weather and I wished we could have stayed. (We spent Friday at the Natural History Museum then Harrods food court then the London Eye Ferris wheel and Saturday at Greenwich Royal Observatory, plus both days a long walk along the Thames). But God poured out His blessings at church yesterday and it was so worth it to return home early. Because German still has a meeting in London tomorrow, he had to leave mid-afternoon to to down. *sigh* He had taken the girls shopping and they bought me beautiful cards, a lovely Marguerite (mini daisies) plant and a couple of lovely blouses. Last night we went to my favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. The last time we had been was a year ago and this was the experience. Last night was magical. We sat in the patio area near the open windows. The meal from starter (avocado/bacon/mozzarella salad) to main (chicken in mushrooms) to dessert (tiramisu) was exquisite. The girls were well behaved. A lovely evening. I really felt taken care of. So all in all a great weekend of celebrating.

When I started dieting in January I set a goal to lose 30 pounds by my birthday. I missed it by 1.2 pounds, but overall I am so pleased with the results. It was a great birthday present to give myself!

As I've thought about the past year, so much has changed for our family. I've been trying to write a post about it for a couple of weeks now. It flows perfectly with the quote that Iris has chosen for In Other Words this week, so tune in tomorrow for "What a Difference a Year Makes." I pray you will be blessed.

Have a beautiful day. I'm going to enjoy the last few minutes of quiet of my birthday before time to get some sleep. Blessings....

Monday Menu Plan

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Monday: Shepherd's Pie, sliced beets, carrots
Tuesday: "Chicken Melton" (chicken breasts rolled around Lancashire cheese and tomatoes, wrapped in bacon), salads, green beans
Wednesday: Pork with Marscapone, steamed broccoli, green salads
Thursday: Dinner with friends from Romania: Coca-Cola Chicken, steamed carrots, green salad/melon/sliced cucumbers/sliced tomatoes, roasted potatoes, ooey gooey butter cake with raspberries
Friday: Cheeseburgers, green peas, salad
Saturday: Grilled pork steaks, green beans, salad
Sunday: Salmon Chowder

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

IOW--From Pit Dweller to Glory Reflector

"What use to make us stumble, God can use to make us stand. What once made us bow our heads in shame, He can use for His glory."

~ JoAnna Weaver ~
Having a Mary Spirit

There is a part of my past I'm not happy to admit is there. In fact, for a long time shame dominated any memory of that time. Very few people are even privy to the knowledge of those days--German, my pastor at the time and his wife, a friend who is now in Phoenix, German's best friend and confidante during that time, a counselor and a couple of other friends. It was a dark time, largely brought onto me by me (although counseling helped me unearth the roots from where it grew). I thought at the time that the sin that was dominating my life would always define me. I was sure that I would never again have a vibrant ministry because of what I was. Ashamed and disillusioned, it not only made me stumble it pushed me to my knees. When I finally hit my knees, the Phoenix friend used his gift of encouragement (lol) with one word, "finally."

You see, I had to stumble before I would admit that it was not a "problem" and that it was sin. I had to fall flat on my face before I would look up for help. And I had to get on my knees before God could remind me that I was not defined by my sin but by His sacrifice. Through that humbling and shameful time in my life I learned that God loves sinners unconditionally. He had loved me from the moment of my birth. He had cherished me from the moment of my spiritual rebirth. And years later when I was refusing to act like His child He still loved me. Once I admitted what a fraud I had become, He healed it. And He forgot it.

But I didn't forget. I don't want to forget. I am forever grateful that it no longer defines me. I am amazed that most days I don't consciously remember it. Yet, that time changed me. I stopped identifying people by their behavior--because I didn't want to be identified by mine. I became more willing to pour out grace because of the grace that was poured on me. I started to take intercessory prayer more seriously, because without the prayers of others I might still be in the pit. It changed me into someone who could stand in the assurance of God's unconditional love. Recently a dear blogging friend commented on my ability to speak of the frailties of human nature without being demeaning. That comment meant more to me than so many comments I have received, because I am able to do that only as God is showing His glory. Not being harsh in our frailties was learned from that time in my life. Praise God He has taken that dark time and made me a reflector of His Glory. Dear friends, please know, no place is so dark that God cannot illumine it and use it for His glory. I stand as proof of that!

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom
and broke away their chains.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men
Psalm 107:13-15

Abba, Holy God, thank you for not leaving me in the pit of despair. Thank you for loving me in spite of me. Thank you for breaking the chains of bondage that were in my life and making me whole. I praise you that I am no longer defined by sins of the past but I am defined by your blood. Thank you for dying for me when I was a pitiful sinner. Thank you for allowing me to stand and glorify you! Amen.

Loni at Joy in the Morning is our hostess for In Other Words this week. I pray you will be blessed by the words of others. Thank you for visiting today.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Monday Menu Planning

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Monday: cajun chicken and rice, salad, steamed carrots
Tuesday: burgers with cheese, salad, green peas
Wednesday: fish & chips and melon
Thursday: grilled lamb steaks, broccoli with cheese, salad
Friday & Saturday in London
Sunday: out to eat Italian to celebrate my birthday on Monday

Subject to change: once I know which night our Romanian friends are coming to visit the meal will change to: Chicken Cordon Bleu or Coca-Cola Chicken, carrots, roasted potatoes, salad and ooey gooey butter cake with raspberries for desert.

For other great menu plans visit Lara at Org Junkie.

Friday, June 01, 2007

I AM---Lesson Seven, Who am I?

Another great week with Lisa's study! Here are my answers to the discussion questions. Please visit here to get the background study as well.

Discussion Questions:

1. How would you answer the questions, "Who Am I?" I really like the words God gave me as I was writing my profile for who I am. I'm a lot of people--but all wrapped up in the title Redeemed Child of The Holy God.

2. Have you ever been in a situation where you felt inadequate because of your lack of a 'tagline'?

At first I struggled to think of a situation. But then God reminded me of one of my first teaching roles in our former church. I was teaching "Decision Making" course that was about counseling folk who came to the church to make membership/salvation/or other decisions. I thought I was ready. I knew my material. I'm a good speaker (at least I think so). Then I saw my class: three deacons and one deacon wife, all 25+ years my elder, all with more experience sharing the Gospel than I would ever hope to achieve. I was intimidated. I felt totally inadequate--and that is probably the favorite class I have ever taught. They were so gracious and teachable and I loved it. The tagline doesn't always matter.

3. Do you have skills or position that you believe God could use mightily if only He would?

Hmmmm...I have skills and experiences that I believe that God is using (teaching, writing, insight from years as a social worker). I have skills that are not currently being called upon. But the 'if only He would' bothers me--who am I to tell Him which skills He should use? I find, often, when I try to tell God how He should use me, He clearly (and painfully) reminds me that I am not Him. More of that trust stuff I've been trying to learn.

4. Have you ever lost a position or station in life you believe could have 'helped God out' with something He has asked you to do? If you haven't lost out, do you perhaps feel you have to gain this in order to be useful to the Kingdom?

I was once on church staff. I was part of the 'inner circle' that influenced so much of what was happening in the church. When we moved, there was a sense of loss for that position because of how I perceived God using me through it. (there was also a sense of relief that I no longer had that kind of responsibility) I realized later that I needed to not be in that position until God had time to dull the sharp edges of pride that I developed in that time. As much as I thought I was 'helping God out' I was probably more of a hindrance. By 'losing' the position and the pride associated with it, I have gained so much more.

5. How are you with your dialogue vs. doubt conversations with God? Which does God hear most from you?

I talk to God pretty much all the time that I am not talking to my kids, husband or another person. I have a steady conversation going on in my head. It does include the doubt conversations, because I think God is perfectly able to handle my doubts. But honestly the conversation is more of a monologue. I am convicted in this study that I need to shut up more often to allow God to speak. Then, and only then, can I call it a dialogue. *sigh*

6. Do you believe God's Wonders become more wonderful if they originate in the ordinary? Any Scripture references come to mind?

I think that wonders are wonderful period. I think we recognize the wonder out of the ordinary more because it is easy to expect extraordinary from extraordinary. When God moves in the unlikely, it is difficult to deny. There were a myriad of Scriptures that came to mind, but my favorite OT story reminds me of God's wonders. In Joshua 11:6-12, Caleb is claiming his mountain that was promised when he was a truthful spy forty-five years before. He tells Joshua, at age 85 he is just as strong as he was at 40 and he is ready to conquer his mountain--and he does. God enables an 85 year old faithful servant to keep the strength of his youth. And the victory was more wonderful because of the unlikelihood. I want to be aware of how God is strengthening me when I am faithfully following His lead.

May Goals Revisited

How can it already be June? Time is flying by. Anyway, here is the recap of last months' goals and adding some for this month.

1. Finish Jeremiah Junction "For Every Season" no...need about 5 more hours to complete
2. Finish 50% of the rocks on my fish RR't even touch it
3. Keep up with Blackwork Round Robin yes, sent and new one received
4. Complete baby quilt for the Cross Stitch Crazy message board yes, completed, mailed and received (pics to come)

1. Keep up with and complete all the reading for 40 Days of Community at church yes..40 days complete!
2. Stay on track with Beth Moore Patriarch's study yes
3. Stay on track with I AM blog Bible Study yes
4. Order summer curriculum for Jewel done and received (Rosetta Stone German and Ann V.'s(Holy Experience) Geography)
5. Enroll Jewel in swim lessons yes...she's had 2 lessons and loves it
6. Complete at least 2 photo albums only finished one
7. Plan a family weekend away yes...great time away in Norfolk last weekend

And now for June's goals:
1. Really finish JJ's There is a Season
2. Complete rocks on fish RR to 25% (yes I'm lowering my standard)
3. Complete quilting on Jewel's quilt and pin on other quilt top
4. Organize fabric closet
5. Stay on track with Beth Moore Patriarch study
6. Stay on track with I AM blog Bible Study
7. Sort printed pictures into album stacks, decide what I need to print for next album
8. Finish Pre-K homeschooling year!