Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections on 2011 and Looking to 2012

Another year is coming to an end, and with it comes the inevitable reflections. Did I accomplish all I wanted to accomplish? Am I content with my actions? Where did I fail? What can I do about that? In what ways did God use me last year? Am I closer to Him today than I was on this date in 2010?

My words for 2011 were Ponder and Treasure. I have enjoyed the journey they led. I have found myself, out of character, recognizing and treasuring moments that I would easily have overlooked. I have intentionally made memories that could have easily been forgotten. I have marveled more at what Jewel and Flower are capable of doing and relished their joy a little more. As we moved (again) I chose to treasure the time we had been given rather than grieve the losses. It made my transition easier. I am treasuring the new friends that God is given us in our new home. I have treasured watching our previous church celebrate as they break ground on the new church building we were part of praying for and I have treasured celebrating with our new church as they dedicated the new church extension that we get to benefit from using. Most of all, we have treasured the blessing of Tree and how he is such a joy to our family. We have pondered what some of the changes mean for us and for our future. We have celebrated as God has shown glimpses of how he is restoring things that broke our hearts into ministry and understanding. In that, we ponder just how far some of that ministry will lead.

God has led me in a way through the year that I have not experienced before. The depth of peace that he has provided is something that I can never comprehend and will always treasure. Yet, to experience that peace I had to travel the rough paths that developed and proved it.

So, I had a little trepidation to consider what word God would lead me to this year. Words from the epistle of James drew me in:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25
I believe, again this year I am being led to two words: INTENT and ACTION.

As you look around many Christian blogs, you will see calls to live intentionally in 2012. And although that is part of what I am seeing in these words, it actually runs along a different vein than many are using the word. I believe that I am being called to look INTENTLY at motivation, at the things I study, at the blessings I receive and the ministry opportunities that open to me. It is more than making decisions to be intentional. It is about looking at the intent (the motivation) behind my decisions. It is a heart issue. I want at the end of 2012 to be more aware of why I make the decisions I make and that the motivation behind my actions to be more and more based on what I see in scripture.

I don't know how it will look at the end of the year. I just know that it should look different than it does now. I look forward to seeing what God lays in my path as I seek him, intently.

Reading Plans

I always plan to do more reading, but with kids I find that more and more difficult. However, the classics draw me in and make me wish I had time to read. My friend Vee posted about a Reading the Classics challenge, and I took the bait. It allows for "reading" using audio books and I should be able to do that whilst nursing if nothing else. So without further adieu...

Photobucket
at Sarah Reads Too Much


19th Century Classic: Bleak House (Dickens)
20th Century Classic: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Hemingway)
Reread a Classic: Jane Eyre (Bronte)
Classic Play: tbd
Classic Mystery/Horror/Crime Fiction: Dracula (Stoker)
Classic Romance: Mansfield Park (Austen)
Classic Translated into your Native Language: Les Miserables (Hugo)
Classic Award Winner: The Optimist's Daughter (Welty)--Pulizter Prize 1973
Classic Set in country you are not likely to visit: tbd (difficult to come up with a country not planning to visit but will probably end up being a Russian novel)

Another of my quests this year is to read more books set in Ireland in an attempt to understand the culture better. So that plays well into the:
Photobucket
at Books and Movies

The categories are as follows and I will fill in titles as books are completed. I want to at least reach Shamrock level of four books read.
Contemporary fiction
Historical fiction
Science fiction or fantasy
Young Adult fiction
Romance
Horror
Children’s fiction
Non-fiction – history
Non-fiction – memoir or biography
Non-fiction – essays
Poetry

There you have it, reading plans. What do you hope to read in 2012?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Other Words---Mission

Photobucket

“It’s not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world
as that God has a church for His Mission in the world.”
Christopher J.H. Wright
The Mission of God

"I wonder what God's will is for my life?"

It's a question that we often ask.  Especially as we near a year's end, we begin to think about the things that we feel we should be doing or that we dream of doing.  We put a lot of pressure on determining God's will in our goals and our plans.  We search for His mission, and often become frustrated when there is not a clear blueprint. 

I'm coming to understand more and more that there is not a clear 1-2-3 plan that I must follow as my mission in life.  More, I see that God has plans to have himself made known in the world and that we as members of his universal church are the conduits of that message.  In our daily lives, with the people we meet and see at work and play, we are presenting him.  Even when we don't feel like it and are not planning it, we are representing him. The church (as in the people not the building) are the ones who demonstrate his mission.  We don't have to search for what our individual mission is because we have the same mission.  We just have different people with whom we are to share it.

As you prepare to say good-bye to 2011 and hello to 2012, I urge you to reflect on the group of people with whom you have been placed to learn and worship and live. They are the ones you are to join with and live out the Mission of God.  May you find new and old ways to demonstrate his love for his world with that group of people.

The LORD foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.
Psalm 33:10-11

Thank you for joining me for In Other Words today.  If you are able, I would love to read your reflections on the above quote. Just add your link below.  If you are unable to join in this week, I pray you are blessed by what you read. Enjoy these closing days of 2011 and I look forward to joining together with you as we live out His Mission in 2012.  God Bless you!




Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hosting In Other Words

I am hosting In Other Words on Tuesday.  The quote I have chosen is:
“It’s not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world as that God has a church for His Mission in the world.”
Christopher J.H. Wright
The Mission of God
Please join me on Tuesday to reflect on the church and mission.


Praying you are having a joyful Christmas Day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Introducing

"Tree"
born 26 Nov 2011
8 pounds 2 ounces of pure love


Photobucket

We've been enjoying a visit from the grandparents and treasuring these early baby days.  He had his two week check today and has gained back the little weight he lost and then some.  We are settling well and will return to regular blogging in the New Year.  Check back with me on 27 December as I host In Other Words.  Until then, may you and your family experience peace and joy this holiday season.




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Other Words--Showing that I'm Thankful

Photobucket

“Let us remember that, as much as has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.”


Theodore Roosevelt

As I've watched news coverage over the last few weeks, I have thought a lot about personal and community stewardship. I have no desire to make this a political blog so my comments will be brief, but there has played out in front of us a drama of "have/have not". It is true that there is much inequality and injustice in the world. I don't dispute it and I believe that it breaks God's heart to see how his children treat one another. I believe that there is a higher calling of stewardship and sharing that many of us shirk. I have to wonder how much of the talk of inequality is a large serving of "lip service" which is not followed up or backed up by deeds.

I have been blessed with much. I have a nice home, security from German's job, clothing that meets the weather conditions, food in the larder, a quality education, access to medical care, freedom to worship how I would like, and freedom to speak out against the things I find unjust (to name a few). I can get just as caught up as the next person in comparing what I don't have to those who do, but that gets me nowhere. Any one of the things I do have is more than so many in the world. And I need to be thankful for them. I need to voice that thanks and this week is one that helps us to focus on that.

But our gratitude needs to be poured out in action not merely words. I can say "thank you" to God for giving me a gift of words (you may disagree) but if I never use those words to encourage anyone else they are a wasted gift. I can say "we've been blessed" with job and security, but if I don't share that with others who have less I've missed the point of the blessing. It is not to make me comfortable, it is make me able to comfort those who have need. I can be thankful for freedoms of worship and speech, but if I don't meet with fellow believers to worship or I don't speak out against things that are wrong, the freedoms are empty. I tell my kids all the time I would much rather they show me their love in the way they treat one another than just say the words. Words are easily empty. Action shows our true intent. I believe that God expects the same from me that I expect from my children.

As we enter Thanksgiving (those of you in the US at least), let's focus more on showing our gratitude than on just paying lip service. May our hearts be so full of gratitude that it spills out into how we share and relate to those around us.

If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:17-18

Tami at The Next Step is our lovely hostess today. Tami, thank you for opening your window of the blogsphere up to us. Please visit her today and be blessed!


Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

November Goals

Photobucket


In October I set the following goals:
1.  Complete 4 blocks on the baby's afghan (big cross stitch project)--only 2 complete
2.  Clear out coat closet and clean any coats that need to be freshened up for winter--yes
3.  Unpack baby clothes that were saved, and make list of needed updates--yes
4.  Get and set up cot in nursery--yes
5.  Get half of Christmas shopping completed--yes it is early, but I'll be busy at the end of November ;)--75% complete

NOVEMBER goals:
1.  Finish last 6 blocks on baby afghan (or make a good start at it)
2.  Finish Christmas shopping
3.  Keep Homeschool Tracker up-to-date
4.  Have a baby ;-)

December goals will be to enjoy baby, enjoy my Dad and stepmom's visit and settle into a new routine.  I may or may not blog, depending on how things are going.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

In Other Words---No Complacency Allowed

Photobucket



Welcome to "In Other Words"!  I pray that in the words of one of the participating writers you will find something to encourage you and to challenge you. If you are able, I'd love for you to link to your own post regarding this quote--perhaps you are the one with the encouraging words!


I wonder if I am the only one who argues with Scripture God whilst I have my quiet time? I sincerely hope that I'm not! Sometimes the struggle is just that, grappling with what the text is saying and how to effectively make it a part of my life.  Other times, it is just arguing. Not liking the implications of what I'm reading. Often, I want my quiet time to be easy, ticking the box of meeting with God, but not really changing anything. *sigh* That is never what God wants. He wants to grow me, change me and make me more whole. To grow involves grappling.


When I read,
Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."(Luke 9:23)<
I want to say "Really? Daily? And what exactly is this denying myself?" I struggle with what am holding onto when God is saying "Let it go and follow me."



Or, what about,
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)?
Does he really mean first. First as in before my tea or before I check email or before I settle into reading blogs? I know, personally, that when I give Him my first moments of the day, the day truly does flow more smoothly. But is it really a command?


In this way I'm grappling with how my relationship with God must be first and foremost. But what of my relationships with others? He has plenty to say about that as well.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
Ugh. That tone of voice that I used to make my point yesterday, probably not very effective in building up the children. Just last night when German and I were talking about something and I said that we were on the same page he responded with "Good, because you haven't been there in a while." Ouch. Wholesome talk. Encouraging talk.

Paul has previously reminded us to
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:3).
Keeping unity because we belong to God. Sunday our pastor said something to the effect that there were probably people in the room with whom we really did not relate and may not even really like, but that was "tough cookies" because God said we had to get along and work together as the body. The statement got a good laugh, but there is much truth there.


Our Bible study should be causing us to grapple with the spaces in our life which do not align with God's spirit. It should be pushing us to become better. We should be asking questions and evaluating every step of the way. A complacent, easy reading of Scripture is not what God is calling us to do. He wants to see us changed.

“ We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.”

by John Stott



Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18


Father, God, take away the complacency of my attitude when I approach your word. Give me a heart that seeks to know you first, and foremost, and deeper than ever before. Transform me into a useful vessel for your love. Amen.


Again, thank you for joining us. Please link up your post below!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

October Goals

Photobucket

In September I set goals as:
1. Finish prepping for school start at the end of September--done and started school 2 weeks ago
2. Complete 4 blocks on big cross stitch project--only completed 1 1/2 :-(
3. Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments--nope
4. Post at least 2 blog entries per week--no
5. Complete project to put old financial records on dvd and shred records--over 3/4 finished, should finish this weekend
6. Finish putting pictures on walls of new house--YES! now it looks like a home.

October goals:
1.  Complete 4 blocks on the baby's afghan (big cross stitch project)
2.  Clear out coat closet and clean any coats that need to be freshened up for winter
3.  Unpack baby clothes that were saved, and make list of needed updates
4.  Get and set up cot in nursery
5.  Get half of Christmas shopping completed--yes it is early, but I'll be busy at the end of November ;)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Hosting In Other Words

Photobucket

I have the honour of hosting "In Other Words" on Tuesday.  Please join me as we discuss the following John Stott quote:

“ We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.”

by John Stott




Monday, September 26, 2011

Marriage Monday---Pondering New Life, Treasuring Children


It's Marriage Monday! I'm so glad that autumn is here and we are writing on marriage again.  My apologies that I missed the first one earlier this month.  The topic was communication--and obviously I'm doing a great job communicating right now.  This month's topic is children. Last time we spoke of children here at MM, I wrote on our choice to home educate.  Today, I'm going to veer off the suggested paths and post something I've been writing for the last several weeks.

You may remember that my words for 2011 are PONDER and TREASURE. They are taken from Luke 2:19:
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
We've had much to ponder and treasure this year as we learned early in 2011 we would be moving to Ireland. German began work in March but we were unable to move until the end of June. Settling into a new culture and watching my children navigate these waters have given me many things to treasure, and to ponder.

*Every time Jewel tells me she has finished another book (she is a voracious reader) I treasure that I was the one who had the privilege to teach her to read.
 *As both girls embraced tennis camp this summer, just a week after we moved in, I pondered the differences in the ways they approached making friends---Jewel knew everyone's name but nothing about them; Flower concentrated more on one person.
*As they find their places in Sunday School, I treasure the insights their teachers give me into their personalities outside my presence.
*As Jewel struggles with what it means to follow Christ and encounters that tug-of-war between sin nature and desire to follow I ponder what future God is preparing for her.
*As Flower chatters about the missionary stories that they read with their Daddy, I store up the treasure that these little girls are learning that God leads people and they are learning that in the presence of their father who is teaching them that they are adored.

You see, I thought when I chose the words Ponder and Treasure I was choosing something to help me focus my year. But there is a bigger picture. I am learning that those words need to be the focus of my parenting. I need to treasure my children--wrapping up those moments of joy, of insight and even of difficulty and holding onto them. I need to allow those things that I treasure to penetrate and sit well in my spirit. They then will be the things that motivate and encourage me as a parent. If I don't take the time to ponder the questions they are asking or the experiences they are having, I may very well miss the very thing that God wishes to use to shape them into the adults of the future.

Pondering and treasuring have become a huge part of my evaluation of my parenting. And that would have made them perfect focus words for 2011. But, God had more in store when he chose those words for me at the beginning of the year. And we had no idea!

The true irony is that in January I would have told you I was storing up treasures of our new life this year. But I thought that was only a life in a new place. I never dreamed it would also mean a new life--one that as I sit here and type these words is emphatically kicking to remind me that he/she is most definitely here. Just like Mary, we are storing treasure of the new life that God has given to our family and who will make his/her appearance in a few more weeks!

We have taken time to treasure the blessings that God has given us. Often I have thought about blogging something that happened, but instead felt the need to choose a path of private treasuring for the time. And it has been good for our family. I have treasured watching the girls telling others they are going to be big sisters. I've smiled as they have related how they have prayed "forever" for a baby brother, and quietly helped them ponder the reality it might be a baby sister. We've treasured the joy and excitement of others as they have celebrated with us. Now, as we enter the final few weeks I am beginning to ponder the changes that will come. How do we help them transition to their new roles? What will the new dynamics of relationships be like? Will we still travel with a newborn and do I remember how to do that?

I'm not sure what all the answers are.

But I know that we will be treasuring the changes as we ponder the newness.

What have your children done this week that you are treasuring? It doesn't matter how young or old they are, don't forget to treasure them!

Join the other amazing ladies that write for Marriage Monday at Chrysaliscafe.com today!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Going Places (again)

This is a re-post of a contest entry I wrote in June 2008.  The sentiments are just as true today.  Yesterday, this dear niece phoned me as she had a short layover in Ireland.  She was on her way to her first deployment and just wanted to touch base.

Praying for you sweetheart.  Know that we are so proud of you. It seems like just yesterday we were helping your mom and dad protect you from the difficulties of the world. Today you take the next step in protecting us.  God bless you and keep you.





Photobucket



Dear A~

I sit here remembering the second time we were together. (The first time doesn't count because you were on your best behavior brought on by whatever threats your mom and dad came up with that day). You were so angry. Angry at me for coming into "Uncle German's" life and in your eight year old eyes, that was usurping your place. You could not begin to understand that Uncle German had already made it clear that you and your brother and sister were of utmost importance to him, and I must like you. You could not fathom how I could have started to love you long before I ever met you. You only saw me as an interloper and took every opportunity to lash out at me. Perhaps it was all my fault in your mind--after all you wouldn't have been moving from your home if Uncle German hadn't married me, moved to Birmingham and transferred your daddy to come work for him. At any rate, on this second meeting, you were not happy about going places at all. We were there to help your mom and dad paint the house to get it ready to sell. There in your little girl shoes, you stamped your feet and made it clear that going places was not what you wanted to do.

Who would have thought that it was just the beginning of the places you would go?

Fast forward four years. We were all going places again. This time to England. This move you were happy to make. In fact, you and your brother conspired to come earlier than your mom and sister. This time, instead of the bad guy, I got to be the solution. I could be at the hotel with you between school and your dad finishing work. You looked so grown up in your public school uniform! You hated the "practical" black shoes you were forced to wear with the uniform, but the rest was a grand adventure. You were so excited to make new friends, see new things, and spread your wings.

Spread your wings you did. In fact it was just a short time and you were going places again. This time, wearing rugby shoes, back to America for university. I kept thinking of that eight year old I met, but I was faced with a soon-to-be eighteen year old. You had grown into such a self-assured and beautiful young woman. I was proud that you now not only considered me "Aunt" but also friend. I could not love you more if there were a blood relationship. As I prayed for your university education, I marveled at the young woman God had destined for you to become.

Today, I sit her thinking of the new places you are going. You have traded your trendy boots for more durable options. You have just spent your first week in ROTC Leadership Training. I shouldn't be surprised that you chose the military as an option for your future since your grandpa, mother and father all faithfully served. But there is a part of me that quivers and quakes at your decision. Not that you can't cut it--my rugby playing, no-holds-barred, tell-it-like-you-see-it, sweet niece--I know you can cut it. But it is the places you could go with this decision that give me pause. I know that you will serve where ever you are sent and do a wonderful job at it. I pray that those places are out of harms way. I pray that your heart and your mind are protected from the things that you are likely to see in the coming years. I know the One who holds the places where you are going; don't ever lose sight of Him.

Going places....
Alabama....
England...
Illinois...
Leadership Training...
????


How easy it was to let you go some places. How hard it is now! Praying for you!

Love,
Aunt MiPa

The picture is courtesy of www.morguefile.com and the photographer is "kakisky".

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

In Other Words--Can I Be Defeated?

Photobucket
I am easily embarrassed in social settings. I constantly worry about saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and not appearing to have it all together. Some years ago a friend challenged me that this type of worry is really a sense of pride. She said that it is prideful to think that others care that much about what we are saying and doing that they are watching that closely. She challenged me to focus more on others and less on myself, which allowed me to relax and be myself in those settings. That fear of embarrassment could no longer defeat me.
“He who has no sense of self-importance cannot be offended or defeated.”
~W. Phillip Keller

Although I have not read this quote before, perhaps that is a little of what the author is conveying. When we are less focused on ourselves, we are not as easily defeated by the thoughts and actions of those around us.

I confess, however, that his use of the word "offended" confuses me slightly. The things that offend me are not usually directed at me. I am offended when someone continually takes the Lord's name in vain. I am offended when others are callously mistreated. Perhaps, there is a sense of self-importance in my defining behaviour. Perhaps he means a different definition of 'offend' than I am thinking. I will look forward to reading the entries of other participants to get a better understanding of this. [Note that this is one of the reasons I love 'In Other Words' is to get perspectives that I would not have seen on my own.]

Father, as I interact with others in social settings, help me to not be prideful or carry such a sense of self-importance that I allow fear to defeat me. Use those settings to continue to mold my understanding of myself and to focus me on the needs of others. Lead me to situations where I can demonstrate your love and grace. Amen.

In Other Words is hosted this week at Living for God. Come and read what others are sharing around this quote.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

September Goals

Photobucket

In August I set goals as:
1. Write an update post for April-July and then write 2-3 blog posts a week--finally posted an update, not successful on 2-3 per week
2. Finish getting school things ready for Sept-Oct--about halfway there
3. Download pictures off the camera in order to accomplish #1--yes
4. Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments--no
5. Complete 4 blocks on big cross stitch project--completed three
6. Read one non-school book--read one, listened to another on cd, and pre-read two of Jewel's school books
7. Enjoy a beach holiday---yes, yes, yes (pictures someday)


September goals:
1.  Finish prepping for school start at the end of September
2.  Complete 4 blocks on big cross stitch project
3.  Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments
4.  Post at least 2 blog entries per week
5.  Complete project to put old financial records on dvd and shred records
6.  Finish putting pictures on walls of new house

Friday, August 26, 2011

My Garden

One of the great joys at our new Irish house is the amazing garden. For someone who has the brownest of fingers (or thumbs depending on what country the saying comes from), a beautiful garden is a wondrous thing. Thought I'd give a quick tour.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Very Delayed Update (photo heavy)

So what have we been doing the last six months?

Making some dreams come true at Disneyland Paris:
Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket

And then exploring Paris as well....
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Packing, saying good-byes and seeing a little more of the English countryside.

Jewel went to her first weekend away with the church. She showed all the boys (but one) who was the best at archery! Made the girls proud. (of course she didn't have any pictures).

Had some of my own dreams come true with a trip to:
Photobucket


Saw an awesome Ladies quarterfinal on centre court:
Photobucket Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Forgot to take pictures of the strawberries and cream...but definitely ate my fill!

Unpacked a few boxes:
Photobucket
Photobucket

Explored the area near our house:
Photobucket Photobucket

Photobucket Photobucket

Marveled at how quickly time flies as Jewel turned 9!
Photobucket

A little of what we've been up to.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

In Other Words: Using My Own Voice

Photobucket


Welcome to In Other Words! I pray today in the words of one of the participating blogs you will find a note of encouragement.

“Don’t sing with a borrowed voice. The one he gave you is the one he wants to hear.”
by Jennifer Rothschild
via Twitter 17 Nov 2010
 It is so easy to get caught up in what we think we should be, rather than what we are created to be.  We listen to voices around us telling us to try this or be this or do this. But, often they are not the things that are designated for us. Or, we watch others excel in their gifts and we wish (covet) that gifting. We measure ourselves against another’s standard and we never seem to measure up. The problem is that we are not supposed to be measuring ourselves against others’standards. Our only measure should be God’s standard that he has given us.
I love to lead ladies’ Bible Studies. There is nothing that gives me more of a buzz than to see a group of ladies sharing their hearts around Scripture. As much as I might aspire for something bigger, my calling has always been small groups. I will never be a Beth Moore or a Priscilla Shirer or a Jennifer Rothschild. That’s okay. My goal should not be to emulate their voice, but to use my own.

Writing and blogging can be a huge trap for us in regards to losing our voice. We can read Pioneer Woman or BooMama or  Big Mama and believe that is how we are supposed to do this blogging thing. We can lose our own voice trying to imitate others that are out there in the blogsphere. Nevertheless, the truth of the matter is that God has given them their voice for their audience. He has given us our voices for our own audiences. We may not know the reasons why one has an audience of thousands and another has an audience of a dozen. We don’t need to know the reason; He does.

Over the last few months, I have experienced God changing my vision of what my voice should be. I have grand plans for writing and ministry and home education and so many things. Yet he has reminded me over and over “the plans are fine, they just aren’t your calling in this moment.” When I chose the theme words of “ponder” and “treasure” at the beginning of the year, I had plans to be consistently writing of the things he would have me ponder. So many times, I’ve sat down to write about something I’ve been learning only to hear a quiet voice encourage me to “just treasure it.” I’m learning this year to use the voice he has given me—and sometimes that means to remain silent. I do not believe that I am called to go totally silent on the blog, but to listen more intently to when to write. I have found in the past that periods of silence often give birth to some of my most prolific writing. I will wait and see what God has planned.

May I encourage you today to listen to his prompting regarding your voice. Don’t try to be someone you are not called to be—you will only find yourself frustrated trying to speak with someone else’s voice. Follow his lead. Trust his gifting of personality and gifts in your life. Use those gifts and you cannot go wrong.

Praying you have a blessed day. Please visit the other ladies who participate in In Other Words. Leave comments and encourage them. And, please, use your voice to join the conversation!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Hosting In Other Words

Photobucket

Next Tuesday, I have the privilege of hosting "In Other Words" writing prompt. I have chosen something that one of my favourite authors tweeted recently. Please come and visit on Tuesday! I would be honoured if you would write your own thoughts on the quote and link up with us at that time.

“Don’t sing with a borrowed voice. The one he gave you is the one he wants to hear.”
by Jennifer Rothschild
via Twitter 17 Nov 2010

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Photobucket

But this disappointment, those tears,
this heartbreak is God’s gift.
In this quiet empty ache, He enlightens.
By it, He plants and grows within me a certainty
that there must be more.
And that He is the More.”

by Jo at Mylestones

I can remember as a child, one time, my daddy stating his dreams. They were the dreams of what he wanted to accomplish on the farm. (I don't know how the subject came up, but I remember clearly the goals). Not long after that, there was one of those "perfect" farming years where everywhere you drove there were miles and miles of gorgeous cotton. Daddy met his "big" goals. In fact, he exceeded them! And yet....he wasn't really happy. Late one night I eavesdropped overheard a conversation where he said something to the effect of "I met my goals, where do I go from here?" It was the first time in my young life I remember thinking that there "needed to be something more."

We've all been there. We have reached the mountaintop only to discover that what creates the dramatic heights of the mountain is the valley floor below. So many of the climaxes of my dreams have found me wondering soon after, "is that all?" It isn't all, we are made for more.

The author of today's quote captures this feeling beautifully in her post (linked above). We are created for more.

There is a deeper hunger than that which we can satiate ourselves. There are more awesome wonders to explore. But they are not in the tangible of this world. They are found in the person of Jesus. He is the More. He is that which we continue to crave even when we achieve all we desire.

Feeling let down by your dreams? Feeling overwhelmed by life in general? Too many disappointments in succession? Know that this is not all there is! There is more. In Jesus, we will find the completeness that we crave.

If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
John 15:10-11.

Loni is hosting today at Writing Canvas. Please join the conversation!

Monday, August 01, 2011

May....ugh August Goals

Photobucket

In April I wrote:
1. Lose another 5 pounds (slowly but surely)  no
2. Empty another box of genealogy info done
3. Finish another page of Name of God cross stitch (3 1/2 to go) not sure if it was done in April but project completed in June
4. Complete a secret stitching project done
5. Continue using camera in Manual Mode at least once a week not as much as I'd like
6. Investigate things I need to know for the "next big thing" in our life ....

Then, the "next big thing" happened in our life and I spent May and June prepping for and moving and July unpacking. So now, I think, I am back to goal setting mode. We'll see how long it lasts ;-)

August Goals:
1. Write an update post for April-July and then write 2-3 blog posts a week
2. Finish getting school things ready for Sept-Oct
3. Download pictures off the camera in order to accomplish #1
4. Complete 2 Bride's Tree ornaments
5. Complete 4 blocks on big cross stitch project
6. Read one non-school book
7. Enjoy a beach holiday

What are your goals this month?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Photobucket

“Inevitably, the calendar crowds out the Spirit and the face of the clock hides the face of God. Prayer ceases to be the free breath of a ransomed soul and becomes a duty to be fulfilled."

From “Transforming Prayer” by Daniel Henderson

Prayer in my life happens in a variety of ways and places. Sometimes it is in a concentrated time, sitting at my desk with my Bible open and time to really spend time in the quiet with God. More often it is caught in moments between ferrying children to events, teaching school, doing laundry, preparing meals, etc. etc. Then there are those moments that all I seem to be able to do is send SOS prayers for help.

Thankfully, God hears all of those prayers. He understands the seasons of our lives and our circumstances even better than we do. He loves and accepts any communication that we offer him.

I know this to be true. But there are the moments when I find myself wondering if he is hearing anything. There are moments when prayer time just seems like something else to accomplish not something to relish. There are times that are just dry and energy-sapping. Frustrating. I've found that those are the times that my life has become the most crowded and I am letting the calendar/diary control me rather than me control the diary. They are the times that I am "fitting God in" rather than "fitting in with God." When my prayer life is stale I know that I need some concentrated time with him--regardless of how busy I am.

Being busy is okay. Times of life that mean less structured prayer time and more prayer on the move is okay. But God never wants us to just "fit him in." He wants our attention, and sometimes he uses a stale prayer life to wake us up. How grateful I am for those times to be drawn back to his presence.

Struggling with prayer? Perhaps some of the ladies writing today will bring you the encouragement you need. Visit Debbie at Heart Choices to follow their trail.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In Other Words: Choosing Gratefulness

Photobucket

“Non-eucharisteo, ingratitude, was the fall–humanity’s discontent with all that God freely gives. That is what has scraped me raw: ungratefulness.”

Ann Voskamp

As you will have gathered from reading here, the last couple of years have been fraught with struggles, disappointments, changes, challenges, and overall upheaval. Although not all of the changes have been bad, in fact many of them have been quite good, they have still brought with them uncertainty and adjustments. In fact, the only consistency in our lives these past two years have been this:

*When I focus on the circumstances and challenges, those challenges simply get bigger.
*When I focus on God and thank him for his presence in the middle of the changes, I find contentment.

I've chosen the former enough to know that the latter is much better!

Do I choose to be ungrateful that relationships had to be severed in order to follow God's leadership in a certain situation, or instead do I choose to be grateful that he led us to a small group that filled the gap relationally?

Do I choose to be ungrateful for a house lost, or grateful for the provision for the next house (which turned into such a blessing of space and neighbourhood)?

Do I choose to be ungrateful for a job provided because it obligated another move? Do I choose to be grateful for employment in difficult economy?

Believe me when I say that I have chosen, often deliberately and with eyes wide-open, the path of ungratefulness. Each and every time it has not led me to a state of contentment or understanding. Instead, it has landed me thoroughly and completely in the muck of the circumstance. Trying to get myself out of the muck just makes it worse.

Choosing gratitude on the other hand does not increase the muck. It does not necessarily decrease it either. It does not change the circumstances at all. But it changes me. It changes my perspective, my focus, and my expectations. It helps me to remember that God's promises are not to make things easy, to but to make me better through them. And, somehow, that makes all the difference in the world.

Father God, thank you for being with us every step of the way these past years of uncertainty and change. Thank you for the reminders of you when circumstances seemed bleak. Help me to always focus on gratefulness. Give me people in my life who have the courage to tell me when I'm focused on the negative and will help me find the positive. Thank you for not abandoning us to our selfish and ungrateful tendencies. Amen.

Tami is our hostess today! Go, visit, and be encouraged! Blessings on your day.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

In Other Words---Trust Him in All Things

Photobucket

Hello out there! From a few emails of concern (thank you), I know that I need to assure you all that I have not fallen off the face of the entire earth. I haven't. Life is just happening fast and furious (with slow and frustrating moments in the roller coaster) and I had to make a choice: blog or survive the roller coaster whilst treasuring as many of the moments as I could. I chose to treasure and survive. But this week's quote resonates with me, so I am attempting to put words to screen again.

If we can trust God for our eternal salvation, how can we not trust Him to provide for the “little” things of life?”

M.E. Howard

It would be easy for me to get lost in the busyness right now. We are in the midst of the most major move that we have made in ten years. No, we are not returning to the US, but we are leaving England for a two year stint in Ireland. There is the logistics of the move to navigate, the emotions of children who have never lived in another country to soothe, the culture of a new country to acquisition and day-to-day of life to still accomplish. It is crazy.

But we don't do it alone.

At our going away open house Sunday someone asked if we were worried. Without stopping to process an answer I said that I was sad to be leaving but that God was going before us, like he always does, and so I was not worried. I realised at that moment I truly meant that. I was resting on him in the day-to-day details. And I was not nearly as stressed as I have been in some past moves.

I may have had to give up my "little things" like blogging for a time to do something that seems very large at the moment. But to God, this is one of the "little things" that he asks me to trust him to handle. And he is handling it. And therefore so am I.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6
I'll be back in full force in a couple of weeks, after the move is complete. Until then, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Rest with me in letting him handle the little things of our lives.  Blessings to you!

Please join us at a new home this week Living for God (and welcome Urailak to the hostess fellowship).