Friday, January 29, 2010

Who I Am--a poetic challenge

E-Mom at Chrysalis has challenged us to use the "Who I Am" poem template to explore our childhood memories and write a little poem about ourselves. Here is my little attempt at capturing some of "Who I Am." Hope you enjoy.

I am from Kerr canning jars, from Palmolive soap and Pine-sol.

I am from the brown-sided house by the cotton field, dusty, barren, of darkness enveloping like a blanket--the nearest porch light a half mile away dimly easing the loneliness.

I am from the cotton---pink and white blossoms to white fluffy balls, and the tumbleweed rolling across the sandy plain.

I am from shelling peas to freeze and snapping beans to can and from dogged stubbornness and thriftiness, from Cliff and C.P. and the “California relations“.

I am from the never-empty coffee pot and ongoing Skip-Bo or Domino games.

From “math is in your blood” and “You are better than B‘s“.

I am from Southern Baptist with Primitive roots. From church potlucks, and play dough theology, “no dancing” intoned by old voices singing ancient hymns.

I'm from Germany and Ireland and Scotland all merging in Texas, from cornbread dressing and hot cherry cobbler served with love. From “cook enough to feed a few more” which always meant too many leftovers.

From the cow trails across Colorado bonding brothers and with long-lost magazine cover photos. I’m from the gold brooch for wedding “oldness” bonding cousins across the generations.

I am from a tin box in the spare bedroom, sneaking peeks at photos long hidden. From albums in the formal living room brought out with ceremony then celebrated with laughter, and from 8mm film of swimming in cotton.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Other Words--Division or Peace


Do not suppose that I have come to bring
peace to the earth.
I did not come to bring peace,
but a sword.

~ Matthew 10:34~

I've been dwelling on this verse, trying to decide what it is I needed to say. Honestly, my desire was to just skip writing this week. But one of my commitments is to not avoid the week's that are straight out of the Word of God. So, in other words, I needed something to say.

We started school work and I caught out of the corner of my eye a couple walking through the neighbourhood. "*Ugh*" I thought, I'll need to send them on their way. But that little voice that so often interrupts my plans impressed on me to just talk a few minutes. In fact, the few minutes became quite a few minutes. They wanted to talk about the role of governments and the need for us to not even vote because God's government will crush all the governments of the world... I spoke my mind, they spoke theirs. They quoted a few carefully chosen proof-texted verses at me and I quote a few carefully chosen proof-texted verses back. It was actually a very interesting discussion. But at the end, when they made a more directed move to "enlighten" me on why I was wrong I told them "we need to agree to disagree." That was not good enough for the gentleman so the question was asked if they were going to change their minds with anything I said. "Of course not!" came the emphatic answer. I then indicated that they were not going to change my mind either so we needed to "agree to disagree." Pleasantries were exchanged and they left.

Afterwards I spoke with Jewel that sometimes people have different interpretations of the Scripture and we have to be true to what we believe God is telling us in the Scripture. She was confused at how we could talk so nicely and say things that were mostly alike, but "disagree." I explained that in the bigger picture of what those people believed about the Bible and Jesus there were things that are very different from how I believe. We talked about how God will separate those who believe from those who don't believe and how our goal each day should be to know Him more and do what He leads us to do. She asked how we would know that what we believed was right and I told her that God gave us contentment in what He said. (remember she is only 7, so this is simplified!) She was satisfied and we finished schoolwork.

"That's the message---God will separate," whispered in my heart. This verse is not about Jesus crushing the government with a physical sword or disrupting governmental peace. It is about the separation that He makes in the Kingdom. It is about how our priorities and our beliefs will divide us from even those that are close to us (see verses 35-37). When we take on the name of Christ we are standing on one side of a dividing line. The line may look imaginary, but it is real. It is a division of ideology, of priority, of time and of resources. The division will cause some around us to be uncomfortable. It may even make some angry. Others may become distant. We may lose "peace" with those around us who do not share a love or a belief in Jesus.

That is not to say that we should be throw up our hands and say that our lives will be full of conflict. Not at all. Although there may be division, there is also a different kind of peace.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
~Philippians 4:6-9~
From where does our peace come? From leaning on God, from seeking His will and from putting His directives into action. Yes, there will be division. But we need to leave that up to God. Lean on Him, and then we will find a deeper peace.

Are you feeling the pain of division? Do you feel separation more than peace? Struggling to know where to turn? Turn to God. Lean on Him. Allow him to pour his peace into your life.

Today's hostess is Esthermay at The Heart of a Pastor's Wife. Please visit the incredible ladies writing on this verse. I know that you will be blessed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Other Words--Happenstance or God Ordained?


Every happening, great or small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.” -Malcolm Muggeridge

I was standing on the platform to board the train. It was late. Go figure, this is England not mainland Europe. I was trying to keep Flower entertained in her stroller, whilst judging the exact moment to get her out of the stroller to get her and it on the train, all the while trying to keep Jewel from wandering off.

A very-American voice said, "You sound as if you are from my neck of the woods." Turned out, it was pretty close as they were from Arkansas. They "happened" to be waiting for the same train. They "happened" to overhear my voice. Their interaction "happened" to entertain Jewel for those few minutes that I needed to keep my sanity.

But this was a two-way interaction. They were being seen off by a missionary couple I "happened" to know in a vague way. This couple "happened" to be traveling for the first time by train and for the first time to London. My presence gave them a contact on the train that was somewhat familiar.

The train arrived, they went to get in their carriage, I got in mine. We were on opposite ends of the train. There was no easy way to get to them. I felt that little voice in my head, "you need to give them your mobile number, just in case." "Sure, Lord, happy to, but how?" "Just write it down. I'll do the rest." I dutifully wrote my name and phone number on a piece of paper and slipped it into my pocket.

The train arrived in London. I looked around and did not see them. I headed for the taxi stand with my 4 year old and 2 year old in tow. I'm about to get in the next taxi when I "happen" to see the couple getting into the taxi in front of mine--that I have to walk past. I leaned in the window, gave her my number and told her to have a good time in London. The taxi sped away. They never needed my number, but I had been faithful to give it. And, yet, there was still something about this "chance" encounter.

The next morning came and we were wandering across the Millenium Bridge. The couple came to mind. I prayed "God I don't know why, but it would bless me to see them again." Yeah, I know, I'm in London. They are on a tour. Yada, yada, yada.

Mid-afternoon came. My family and I were leaving the Tower of London after a full day of sight seeing. We are walking down the steps to leave. "Look up" a voice says in my head. There they were...coming into the Tower of London. We hugged and chatted for a moment. They "happened" to get bored with their official tour and ventured out on their own, straight to where we were. As quickly as it happened, they went on their way, and we went on ours. Nothing profound said. Nothing needed or shared. Nothing shared that is except a "chance" meeting by a loving God.

I don't know the full reason for those chance meetings, but I do know that I see God all over them. The story, the threads, the art of seeing God in the seemingly coincidental. And, somehow, my life is never the same.

Thank you Father for showing yourself in the story of my life. Thank you for those moments when you allow me the ability to see the artistry of how you weave it all together. May I always look for your story in my days. Amen.......(and somewhere there is a couple in Arkansas who you used to bless me, please show yourself to them today in a special way)Amen.

Our hostess this week is Kathryn at Expectant Heart. Go be blessed by the God-incidences she shares. And if you have a story of a God-incidence, I'd love to hear it. You can link up to In Other Words at Kathryn's site.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Stitchin' Post Saturday-16 January 2010


No pictures of stitching this week. I've been working on the piecing of a mystery quilt. Almost finished piecing and should start quilting next week. After it is delivered I can post pictures.

What are you working on stitching-wise?

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

In Other Words--Astonishing Blessings


God can pour on the blessings
in astonishing ways.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (MSG)

After a long stretch of unemployment, a job that is a perfect match is found.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways.

The disappointments of infertility are diminished with a surprise pregnancy.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways.

A wayward child chooses to return home and repent.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways.

The long-prayed for friendship never materializes. Instead she learns to be content with the company of herself and her God.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways.

The illness ended in an ultimate healing of going home to the Father, and not complete recovery. In sadness, his family embraces that peace.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways.

Her heart remains broken. Her dreams remain shattered. She cannot see the path for the tears. But she holds onto the shred of belief that still exists in her life.
God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways.

God can (and does) pour on the blessings in astonishing ways. But, often, the astonishing thing is that He considers it a blessing whilst we still see it as trial, hurt, or trauma. He pours out his blessing of himself in our life, even when things seem so harsh.

Although I do love the Message, I actually prefer this verse in The New Revised Standard Version:

"And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance..."

His ability to reach into the harshest times of my life and still give me abundance is what I cling to in those dark times. That knowledge alone is an astonishing blessing!

Where are you seeing blessings in your life? Maybe they are hiding in the trials. Look for the astonishing...He is faithful to deliver.

Deborah at Chocolate and Coffee is our hostess today. Please visit and be blessed.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

January 2010 Goals


I've been working toward my January goals, but forgot to post them.  Probably not the best start to a new year of blogging to forget to post.  But here they are a week late!

1.  Finish border of NRR
2.  Piece and quilt mystery quilt for a friend
3.  Finish Washington and add charms to Alabama, Texas and Missouri
4.  Move 2009 files out of filing cabinet and set up 2010 files.
5.  Shred any paperwork that does not need to be kept.
6.  Blog at least bi-weekly on my homeschool blog

Stitchin' Post Saturday-9 January 2010

Happy 2010!  My first Stitchin' Post of the New Year!  I have been stitching on the border of my Neighbourhood Round Robin, but will wait to take pictures until I have it completed.  Instead, I'll show my last completions of 2009.  I've already posted pictures of the stitched pieces, but I was able to get them framed on Christmas Eve and haven't shown that off yet.  I was really pleased with how they look, and they will take pride of place on the mantle every Christmas. (please forgive the reflections, I couldn't get a great shot of Bethlehem)  They are the exact same height, frame and matting.  The Kings are about 1/3 the length of the Bethelehem piece and will be placed as though they are walking toward Bethlehem.

Framed Bethlehme
Framed Kings

So what stitching or crafting are you doing in the New Year?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Welcoming 2010/Looking Back on 2009

Forgive me that it is a week into 2010 before I've posted anything.  The Big Freeze has kept me in the house all week.  The blanket of snow (a real rarity here) has calmed much of the chaos that life seems to be throwing at us.  And it has give me time to reflect.  So, I've been sitting on this post, tweaking it but mainly just praying over it.  Last night God confirmed the things I wrote was the direction He was leading, so now I'll post it. 

The first of a new year always challenges me to reflect and to dream. Last year, as I wrote my meditations and dreams for 2009 God gave me the word ENGAGE as my theme for the year. In many ways 2009 was a difficult year. There were relationships and ministries that were pushed to limits, and some that even needed to end. There were tears shed over people and things that broke me that a year ago I would have sworn those very same people and things were only blessings. It is not a year that I would wish to relive in many ways. Yet, when I look at the year I see over and over again how God has led me to ENGAGE in the midst of the turmoil. And the growth has been a blessing.

Last year I wrote:
"I believe that God is calling me to:
*ENGAGE in my marriage. This year will call for changes in German's work. It will probably mean a new account which could mean a new location. I need to intentionally engage with him to make the transition seamless as well as keeping the pressure off at home."
My marriage has grown more this past year than in the previous thirteen! I began the year anticipating the challenges for him at work. The challenges were there. From mid-January to the end of November there was an ebb and flow of "we need you to change accounts/we need you to stay where you are". The anticipated move did not happen. It will happen in 2010, we see the writing on the wall. But it was not the work challenges that God was preparing me for when I chose ENGAGE as my theme for the year. The challenges that German most faced were in terms of relationships and ministry. Because I was intentionally ENGAGING to keep pressure off at home, we were able to weather the storms that came. We both agree that the resulting relationship we have was worth the struggle in other relationships. 2009 has been our best year of far.

"*ENGAGE with my children. This includes more engagement in activity for their education. I'm great with the factual education stuff, but hands-on is not my favorite way of learning. But it is theirs, so I need to engage with them in learning in a meaningful way for them. I also want to be more engaged in their spiritual development. Jewel is at an age where she is beginning to ask many questions about God and why Jesus came, and I want to take full advantage of this time. Finally with both them and with German I want to be more engaged in memory making. Whether it is in building traditions at home, celebrating milestones, or traveling, I want when they look back on these years for them to be able to recall parents who were fully engaged in their lives."

Again, it has been a wonderful year ENGAGING with the girls. We have built memories in Brussels and in Branson and in Turkey. We ended the year building memories with their grandparents in London. We have had a great year of purposeful school as well as seeing huge strides in the stuff of daily learning. I believe that we are seeing spiritual growth in both of the girls. We have brought some of our "church" time home this year, just worshiping and studying together as a family on some Sundays before meeting up with our small group. I think that they are catching a vision that worship is more than what happens in the church building, and that is an exciting thing to see!

"*ENGAGE with Scripture. I've felt the need to commit Scripture to memory for a couple of years. This year my dream is to do that. To that end, I'll be participating in the LPM memory challenge where we are to learn 2 verses a month. I like this plan, because each participant chooses the verses that God is laying on their hearts so it is applicable to day-to-day. I also want to engage Scripture in my personal Bible Study as well as the Ladies Study which I lead. As 2009 comes to an end, I pray that I am able to say that I've gone deeper and learned much. 2009 is also the year that I pray I will find a mentor for me. I've mentored many young Christians, but I am feeling somewhat empty in that pursuit. God has led me to two older women in our church (fairly new to the church) that I feel may be the mentors He has ordained. I'll be approaching them soon to see if they would meet with me, study with me and serve in that capacity."

This is the area I could be disappointed, and to some extent maybe I am a little. I was able to stay on task with Scripture memory through August and for that I am really grateful. I have also learned Scripture with the girls. In so many ways I have gone deeper and learned much. Where I am sad, is that much of it has still been on my own. I so desperately wanted a mentor this year. The lady I felt led to approach was diagnosed with leukemia in March (I hadn't worked up the courage to ask her at that point) and although she won the battle against cancer, her heart gave out in the process. It was only at her funeral that I saw so clearly why God had led me to her name. She inspired me, and I am determined that I will learn some of the lessons that her daughter taught about her in the end.

"*ENGAGE with ministry. My ministry at the church has been curtailed for various reasons this year. The Ladies Bible Study and the house group that meets in our home are wonderful opportunities, but I believe God has something new and "more" for 2009. I'm prayerfully anticipating what that might be."
I'm still waiting for the something "more" as my ministry opportunities through the church were totally cut off this year. The house group that meets in our home did continue and was a total blessing. The Ladies Bible Study was more sporadically attended this year, but there are glimmers of hope that it will be more stable in 2010.

"*ENGAGE with others. I'm feeling led to be more intentional in hospitality, especially with non-believers. Just as I'm seeking a mentor, I need to seek someone to mentor this year. And I want to engage others in this blog. I continue to pray that this is a place of hospitality, encouragement and support. May 2009 see that come to even more fruition."

God honoured this in tremendous ways! There has been only 2-3 weeks in the entire year that our home has not hosted at least one fellowship event or had guests. Some have been impromptu (inviting a church visitor home for lunch), others more elaborate (a large going away party for friends from church). The house group has grown. The Ladies meet to study the Bible. German mentors a young man who comes to hang out with us once a quarter when he is home from school. Our home has been filled and that fills our hearts as well!

So, that is 2009. What of 2010? Well, this year the word God seems to be giving me is
A move is definitely in our future, so CONNECTion is going to be of utmost importance. You may not get the sense, sitting on that side of my computer screen, of the introvert that sits in this chair. I struggle with making CONNECTions. But that is going to be my life in a few months--new friends, new church, new neighbours, new Bible Study group (Lord, please let this be so), etc, etc. On top of that German will be connecting to a new team and the girls will be experiencing their first move and starting over. It will be my main ministry in the coming months to help them CONNECT and settle into a new phase of life. I cannot yet articulate what I hope those CONNECTions look like at the end of 2010. The only thing I do know for certain is that if I'm going to help them CONNECT, then I'm going to have to stay CONNECTed to God through study, prayer and ministry. I'm excited about 2010, if not slightly apprehensive. But as I stated in my last post, I want to look back on 2010 knowing that my priorities have been to CONNECT with my Saviour and the ministries he has ordained for me.

Praying as you reflect on 2009 and prepare for all that God will give you in 2010 you are filled with excited anticipation of what is to come. Thank you for your faithfulness to visit and encourage me in 2009. I pray you have found a piece of your blessing in the words I've written.