Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thankful Thursday--Marriages

You would think that it was June around here with the talk of weddings. So today, I wanted to express my thankfulness around that topic.

*I thank Jesus that He brought German and me together at a time in our lives when we could recognize His hand. I thank Him that He first made us friends and then led us to marry. I am so thankful for German as a friend, leader of our home and father of our children.

*I thank Jesus that he gave my dad and Dix each other and that they have just celebrated their anniversary. It is wonderful to be with two happy people!

*I thank Jesus that he gave Amy and Casey one another. I so wish I could have been at the wedding two weeks ago, but was able to attend in prayer and well wishes. The pictures were gorgeous. Praying God blesses this marriage richly.

*I thank Jesus that tomorrow, we will witness the wedding blessing of two dear friends from church. D's attention to covering his marriage in the prayers of godly men has been inspiring. I pray that tomorrow begins a journey of serving God together in music and ministry.

*I thank Jesus that he has knitted the lives of D&K together. I thank Him that they met while preparing for mission work and that they share a heart for telling the world about Jesus. I thank Him that He has led them to announcing their engagement. I pray for them as they prepare for a January wedding that the blessings of God will pour into their lives (and that they will know His guidance as to which continent they will serve).

*I thank Jesus for the wonderful, godly men and women that are around me that seek to allow Him to be the head of their marriages. I am thankful that there are examples of what God intends in marriage for others to look toward.

What are you thankful for today? Come and share it with us. We meet at Sting My Heart each Thursday.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In Other Words--The Dignity in all of Humanity


Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat… We must find each other.”
~Mother Teresa~

Traveling in Europe, one often meets beggars on the street. The streets of Paris, of Rome, of Barcelona and even London have caused me to encounter many, many homeless people. My heart often goes out to them. Other times, I am guilty of wondering if they want a different kind of life. But, my reality has always been one of not knowing what is the best way to help. A few coins here and there don't do much. There are times that I am very clearly led to give monetarily. Other times, I feel that the Spirit puts a block on that. Maybe that is an excuse, but it is truth.

But about three years ago, while traveling, I felt a very clear direction from the Spirit that although I may not be able to give much, I should always give dignity. That is a challenge with some of the street people that are met. But I began to try to make honest eye contact, to smile, to speak, to acknowledge their existence even if I could not give money.

Then, earlier this year Jewel's story to read for school was "The Family Under the Bridge" by Natalie Savage Carlson. It is a little book about a mother and her three children who become homeless and end up living under a bridge. An old hobo (Armand) becomes involved with the children. Although Armand always says he chooses to live like he does, eventually the children draw him into another life. While we were in Rome last March we encountered a homeless man sleeping under a box. Jewel asked me if he was like Armand or like the family. At first I could not understand what she was asking, but she finally asked "does he want to live on the street or does he not have anywhere else to be?" I told her I didn't know; then I asked her if it mattered. She answered that she would feel sorry for him if he didn't want to be there. We had a healthy discussion that although we may feel sorry for someone for one reason or another, we should be treating them the same--they were still people who deserved to be noticed. At five I had no idea that there were people who had less than me, and she not only knows but she notices! I pray that heart of compassion continues to grow in her.

Yesterday, I caught a glimpse that she gets it. We were in Manchester shopping and met a homeless man selling a newspaper called the "Big Issue." The Big Issue is a scheme across England that allows the homeless to earn a little money rather than having to beg for what they need. I had no change on me. So when he asked if I'd like to buy a paper I smiled and said, "no thank you." He stopped in his path and smiled back and replied, "that's okay, thanks for answering." As we walked on, Jewel asked why he said that and I said because most people just ignore him. Her answer, "Is that rude or just sad?" It's both sweetie, it's both.

We may not have much to offer. But we can always offer dignity. A smile, a hello, a touch can sometimes mean as much as a few coins. Being noticed matters to us all.

Father God, help me to see people as you see them--as people with hurting hearts and needy souls. Help me to be obedient to Your Spirit when you urge me to give. Help me to always offer a person their dignity and acknowledge their worth. Help me not to be a part of a problem that ignores the humanity of those who have less than me. Amen.

Amy is the hostess this week at In Pursuit of Proverbs 31. Please join us there and be blessed!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
~Colossians 2:6-7~

Sunday ten of the teenagers in our church entered the waters of baptism. The youth band played some of their favorite songs. Testimonies were heard of how Jesus changes their lives and how they want being baptized to encourage their friends. Tears were shed by mothers and fathers and Sunday School teachers and friends as we rejoiced in their decision! So, in their honor:

* Today I am Thankful for those ten young people and their example.

* I am thankful that one of those young persons invests her life in my girls' lives as their babysitter and will be a wonderful role model for them.

* I am thankful that the unchurched parents of one those young persons came to the service. I pray that they heard the gospel message that was clearly preached.

* I am thankful for the joyous sound of singing and instruments playing. "Be Thou My Vision" and "In Christ Alone" has never sounded better than led by a youth band that exudes love for God.

* I am thankful for a youth pastor who for the last two years has poured his heart into these kids and took seriously the call to disciple young people. I believe he saw just a sliver of the reward on Sunday.

* I am thankful for the symbolism of baptism and what it represents. I am grateful that 33 years (!) after my own baptism, the wonder and the reverence of that moment never leaves me.

Father God, today I ask that you continue to pour out your blessings on these ten, their family and their friends. Give us, their church family, wisdom to help them grow in their walk with you. Thank you for your saving grace and the symbol of new life through baptism. Amen.

For other Thankful Thursday posts, please visit Iris at Sting My Heart.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Other Words--Building a House of Faith

“We, as women, think of ourselves as mothers, teachers, nurses and so on, but God says that we are builders. We usually relegate this role to the men, but we are building with something far greater than brick and timber.”
~Nancy Campbell, The Power of Motherhood~

Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:24-25
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.

We will be wise builders if we put into practice the words of Jesus. Building wisely is important! We want what we build to withstand the winds of derision and change. This is true of our physical creations, but it is even more true of our spiritual well-being.

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
~Proverbs 14:1~

I know that my faith and that of my children will be tested in this world. The one thing I want to be absolutely sure of is that I am not the one tearing down the house of faith with my own hands! So, how do we "build" a house of faith in our children?

First, we build it in ourselves! We cannot teach them something that we do not know ourselves. We need to be in the Word, praying and applying God's principles in our own lives. If we are not, our children will only see us as stumbling blocks not building blocks.

Second, we need to recognize the "building moments" in every day. Often these moments seem like distractions, but they are imperative.

*When Flower brings me a handful of daisies out of the garden while I am cooking dinner, I need to stop and receive them graciously and not be pre-occuppied with my task. This is building a sense that she is important enough for me to stop and consider her.
*When Jewel cries out in the middle of the night, legs cramping with growing pains, I need to calmly reassure her and massage out the pain. This is building a level of trust that no matter when the need occurs, someone loves her.
*When the girls are asking me a myriad of "how?" and "what?" and "why?" questions I need to be patient in answering them because I am laying the foundation of solid belief and knowledge.
*When German needs me to run an unexpected errand for him I need to do so without grumbling in front of the children, no matter how inconvenienced I feel. This builds a foundation for them to be gracious and considerate wives some day.
*When I am preparing for Bible Study group or Small Group Fellowship, I need to do so with joy. This builds a foundation that serving God is a blessing not a chore.
*When someone in the community is rude to me, I need to be respectful back. My children are watching and learning merciful speech.
*When someone is hurting, I need to be quick to help. I'm building caring actions in my kids.
*When a friend has made mistakes, no matter how grievous the sin, I need to forgive quickly and completely. I'm building forgiveness in my girls.

By seeing the "interruptions" and "inconveniences" of the day as building moments, I lay a foundation that Jewel and Flower can build their own house on in years to come.

Finally, as parents we must recognize that we are not the only builders in our children's lives. Paul expressed this in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 when he wrote of his evangelistic work:
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We are laying foundations in their lives and hopefully giving them strong building blocks of faith. But others will come along and build on what we have layed. We must endeavor to place people in our children's lives who are also building with the Word of God. We want the building that happens in their lives to be godly, so we must be diligent in our awareness of who is building and what may need to be torn away.

Father God, please help me to be a diligent builder in my children's lives. Help me to lay the foundation blocks for the faith that will come. Please come alongside me and make their faith their own. I want them to know You. And, God, please help me to aid them in developing friendships and relationships that will point them to You. In the name of the precious Cornerstone of our Faith, Jesus, Amen.

Chelsey at Joyfully Living For His Glory is this week's hostess for In Other Words. Come and be blessed!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday Menu Planning

Monday: Vegetable Ranch Pizza (broccoli and carrots on a ranch dressing base) with cantaloupe

Tuesday: Cheesy Chicken Casserole, green salads, green beans

Wednesday: Pork in Marscapone sauce, corn on the cob, salads

Thursday: Grilled Chicken with tzatziki, steamed carrots, salads

Friday: dinner out

Saturday: Grilled burgers, Green Peas, Fruit Salad

Sunday: Small Group Fellowship meeting Plan to grill kielbasa and make broccoli salad, the other members will bring everything else.

Florida Holiday---Day Sixteen

This was travel day. Remember how I said on day one that Newark was a nightmare? Well, on day one, I had no idea!

We got to the airport with plenty of time. Returned the van and got our bags checked. The lady at the counter said that there was some weather in Newark and all flights were delayed 45 minutes to an hour. I was uneasy, again with tight connections, but what can you do? Finally two and a half hours later we are taking off! We are being told that Newark is at a full stop, so connections should not be a problem.

Then we headed South.

You may not be a geography genius, neither am I, but I can assure you that New Jersey is not south of Florida! We were then informed that we were being re-routed due to the conflicting with the Shuttle launch! Mind you, if we had taken off on time, we would not be conflicting with the shuttle launch.

Here is the upside of this problem...we saw the launch from the air! And it was very cool to see and Jewel can't stop talking about it!

We finally head to Newark and finally land. We are still being told that the airport is at a full stop. This is good, since it is 45 minutes since we were supposed to leave for England. We are also told that there are 65 international connectors on our flight so we are priority to the gate. They ask non-international passengers to let the international passengers off. Of course, no one listens. By the way, it is totally dry and no sign of bad weather as we flew in. The airport is in chaos from so many cancelled, late or missed flights, but it is not at a full stop!

We are in luck, however, as our flight is leaving in 14 minutes and we only have two gates to go to get to it. We run. The plane is at the gate. The door is closed. There is NO ONE working at the gate. And, there are eight transfer passengers from our flight at the door that we can't get through and there is NO ONE to ask! The plane leaves.


We go to the information desk. As you can imagine the queues are forever because this is happening to everyone. German gets in line. He tells me to take Flower and go to the gate of the next flight (leaving in 90 minutes) and see if I can get us on. I go to the gate and the rudest person in the world says she won't deal with me, to go to information. I go to another information desk. Thankfully the flight is delayed. German had been in a queue for 2 hours and I had been in another queue 90 minutes with at least 2 hours to go before either of us will reach the beginning of the line when a guy from our flight came by and told me he got go to the desk (which is a new desk because they moved it). And it had new staff!

I do that. She tells me they are full. I ask when the next flight is and she says 730 the next evening (it is almost 10pm by now). I ask about our chances on that flight and she said it was sold out as well. I told her I was traveling with a three year old and a five year old and I was desperate. She then came back and said she had four middle seats on this flight. I told her I'd take them! She was amazed and I said I was desperate and the girls travel well. I phoned German and told him to run because we had about 10 minutes before they loaded the plane!

German and Jewel arrived. We get our boarding cards. We have 31A (window), 30B (middle), 28B (middle) and 12B (middle). German takes 12 and the girls and I go to the back. I put Jewel in 28 and I put Flower in 30 and I wait with her. She goes into total meltdown that I won't let her sit in the window seat. Just then, the owner of 30A arrives. The look on his face was priceless! I asked if he would switch with me and take 31A and he couldn't accept fast enough! lol. Flower immediately stopped crying when I told her she could now sit in the window seat. (He later accused me of pinching her so that no one would want to sit with her). Flower is settled. I give Jewel some snacks and tell her to go to sleep when the plane takes off. The lady beside her smiles incredulously. But, just as the plane was pushing back the man in 30E (middle across aisle from me) moved so I had the flight attendant move Jewel to there so I could at least see her. She ate her snack and went to sleep and slept until we got to England! The passengers around her could not believe how well she travels. I could only thank God for his blessings of her being able to do that.

We arrived in Manchester late the next morning to rain and cold. But we were home, albeit 5 hours after we had hoped to arrive. But home can look awfully good, especially after a 27 hour day.

No more holiday posts! Thanks for indulging me (like you had a choice). It was a magical holiday and we will do it again someday.

Florida Holiday---Day Fifteen

This was our last full day in Orlando. Just as we had wanted the girls first memory of Disney to be Cinderella's castle, we wanted it to be their last impression as well.

So, off to Magic Kingdom we went!

We had our pictures taken, and Tinker Bell kindly came to the party!

Today was about doing the things we had not done on the first trip. So our first stop was Adventureland. German and Jewel rode the mine train. Flower was terribly disappointed that she could not ride (a couple inches short). The attendant gave her a "too short pass" that allows her to go to the front of the queue when she comes back when she is tall enough. It is her favorite souvenier of the entire trip. After the mine train, we rode Aladdin's Flying Carpets--complete with spitting camels.
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Then we went on the Jungle Cruise. My ever-so-skittish Jewel did not enjoy this at all.
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Then we met Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, Wendy and Peter Pan!

We went to the bear jamboree, which the girls thought was great fun.

Then it was off to Futureland.

While German was on Space Mountain, the girls and I rode the elevated train. Then we all went on the race cars. The girls insisted on driving! Flower could not even be seen over the wheel, so I did a lot of the steering.

Finally, we went back into Fantasyland to ride the teacups, which we had missed the first time. The only thing I remember about my trip to Disneyland in California as a child was the teacups, so this ride was as much for me as for the girls.

We took our final pictures and headed to the gates. Just by the gate, however, we spotted Jiminey Cricket and Pinnocchio. So, of course we had to stop.

Good-bye Disney!!

We headed back to the villa for a last swim.

Then lots of packing. Then dinner out at Outback one last time. I cannot stress enough how wonderful this entire holiday has been!

Florida Holiday--Day Fourteen

Day Fourteen we went to Hollywood Studios! We were there for rope drop, which meant we entered with the throngs of people! After a couple of pics of the sorcerer hat we started our day.

We went straight to the Aerosmith RocknRoll Coaster, so German could ride without having to wait forever. He was in and out of the coaster within 15 minutes. He was fairly disappointed with this as a coaster. We then headed up to get our seats for the Beauty and the Beast show.

We actually liked "Four for a Dollar" the warm-up act just as much as the show.

But the show was amazing as well! Flower, especially, was enthralled.

After the show, we headed to the back lots to see the stunt car show (which I have conveniently forgotten the proper name). German loved this show! It was cool to see how they do so many of the stunts for movies. Jewel really did NOT like this show--it was too loud, too hot and just too scary! Guess who else loved it? That's right...Flower!

As we walked off the back lot, we were able to meet Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

We also saw some of the Star Wars characters and Kim Possible, but not being fans we just took pics from afar. We then went on the Great Movie Ride. The girls especially liked the Wizard of Oz since that is what we had been reading for school.

Then it was time for lunch. Afterwards we started to go to the Little Mermaid show, but realized we were going to miss the parade. So we fastpassed a later Mermaid show and found a spot for the parade. The girls were even chosen to dance in the party!
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Then we went to see the Little Mermaid, which we all decided could be a miss next time!

We went through the animation area and met sorcerer Mickey.

We met several of the Playhouse Disney characters and went to the Playhouse Disney show which everyone loved!
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Then it was home for a swim and early night for the girls. I started some of the packing of all the stuff we had bought. Tomorrow would be our last full day in Florida.

Florida Vacation--Day Thirteen

My apologies for leaving you with four days of the holiday to go. I was able to go with German on a business trip at the last minute, and that threw all my best layed plans to the wayside!

AMY--you may want to skip the next paragraph!!!

Day thirteen we got up and got dressed, had a quick breakfast and headed out the door. I was leading the way. The groundskeepers were mowing the grass, so it was noisy. But not noisy enough to muffle my scream as the SNAKE slithered across my open-toed shoe as I stepped onto the sidewalk. I was not amused! It was only about 12 inches long, but it was 12 inches too many! German was not amused that I "shrieked" (his words) although I'm not sure he would have fared any better. The girls were totally unsure about walking out of the house now, so I had to really act like it was nothing! I'm sure it was trying to get out of the way of the mowers, but it was still quite a startle.

After we got everyone in the van, we headed to Typhoon Lagoon!

We had a great day lazing on the lazy river and careening down a few water slides. We weren't that impressed with the kiddie area as it was mainly just sprinklers to run through. There was a nice kid's slide beside the wave pool. We were able to go on one of the larger slides as a family.

German took Jewel down a couple of others, and I took her down one. Flower just loved the lazy river so we did that a couple of times as well.

The kids highlight of the day was meeting Stitch.

After finishing our day at the Lagoon, we went to the big mall to do a little more shopping. We were looking for my favorite clothing store to shop and for a place to find New Balance shoes. Never found the shoes, but I stocked up for the year! The girls had fun shopping with their daddy in the Disney store so I could have peace while shopping. YAY!! We then headed to Target to get the rest of our shopping completed. Clothes, clothes, clothes with a few cds and media things to fill in the gaps. I love shopping in the US!!

After dinner we had a quick swim and off to bed.