Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gods and Kings...

Nice and busy here, but Saturday was kind of strange. For the first time in longer than I can remember- I could feel boredom setting in. My kids both had an event that day, so once I dropped them off, I really didn't have anything I HAD to do, or WANTED to do. It was slightly panicky. No horses to work, no cleaning to do, no weeds to pull, nothing.
So, I decided to indulge in another treat- and picked up a fiction book I bought a long time ago, but never started reading. It was one of those books you find on the $2 table, that you know sounds good, but if it is a stinker, you won't be out too much.

The title is "Gods and Kings" by Lynn Austin. Wow. I was totally surprised to find so much sound doctrine, encouragement, and Jewish history in one little novel. I wouldn't say it should win a literary award- the writing is mediocre, but the characters are fanastic, and the story touched my heart- because it follows the Bible so closely. Borrow it from me, order it and buy it for yourself, whatever- but you will love it!

The setting is towards the end of King Ahaz's reign, and then focuses on King Hezekiah. It starts with Hezekiah as a boy, and as his father is a total idolater, he is forced at a young age to watch his half brothers be sacrificed by fire to the false God, Molech. Needless to say, it is terrifying. Yet, through his father's wickedness, the story shows how God has already chosen Hezekiah to be the King to lead the Israelites back to Him. Isaiah and Micah the prophet are key characters, as well as Hezekiah's grandfather, the high priest Uriah, and Hezekiah's dear mother.

There has been obviously some fictional license to develop the characters and dialogue, but as I read 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, as well as portions of Isaiah to see how closely the story followed the true events, I was pleased to see the events were right on. And to read as a boy turned King gets saved and brings hope and light to a wicked place- ah! What a great story. Lots of Biblical quotes from the prophets and the Law as well. There are 5 books in the series, and needless to say- I am anxiously awaiting the UPS guy for book 2. :)

Here is an excerpt from the first book. Hezekiah's mother has snuck away to see her father, Zechariah, who is imprisoned for teaching Yahweh's laws to his grandson. Lots happened due to events I would rather you read about (Muhahahaha). What you should know is Zechariah was the High Priest under King Uzziah, Hezekiah's great grandfather. Because Zechariah failed to teach Uzziah God's ways, he has watched Judah be destroyed by the idolatry and evil that first, Uzziah, and now King Ahaz have brought. He starts out in the story a miserable alcoholic who only wishes to die, and now, Yahweh has redeemed him and given him new life:
"How can you be so calm about it? You're being held prisoner for no reason, without even a trial." (spoken by Queen Abijah, Zechariah's daughter, Hezekiah's mother)
"It's all right Abijah. Yes, at first I questioned God throughout the long, boring days and sleepless nights. I kept waiting for Him to vindicate me and to punish my enemies. And when He didn't, I immersed myself in the Holy Torah, always questioning, demanding answers.
But when I read the Book of Job, and I discovered another victim of injustice who demanded answers from God. And do you know what I learned from Job? Yahweh doesn't owe us an explanation for what He does. He's sovereign over all:'Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens- what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave-what can you know? If he comes along and confines you in prison...who can oppose Him?'
So you see? I don't need to know why anymore." (Zechariah's response)

Yeah, many times have I asked "Why?" and forgot that God doesn't owe me an explanation? It was such a perfect time for this reminder, and encouraged my heart Saturday as I wondered "why" on pretty much every aspect of my life.

Thank you, Lord, for great stories that bring you glory. You are an awesome God- and so worthy of our praise. Thank you that BECAUSE you are sovereign, I don't need to wonder and worry.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Thank God for fresh starts.

This has been a busy weekend, but in a good way. Isn't it funny when you don't have time to whine and worry about your mental issues- things seem to get better? Nothing is different in my life, I still wish there was no such thing as extended family sometimes, and I am still a brat more often than I would like. But in view of all that God is doing to CHANGE that brat into a woman who pleases Him, it's hard not to see the "forest through the trees". There is a new day coming, and it's always fresh.

Friday night was a perfect example. I was NOT looking forward to the overnighter I had planned with my youth group girls because of all the mess that happened during the week. I felt like relationships were more work than they were worth, why should I bother, and pretty much having a good ol' pity party. I felt ill-prepared to hang out and love on these high-schoolers because of my need for an attitude adjustment and all the worries. Then the girls arrived- and it seriously, took about 10 seconds for me to have a heart change. Thank you, Holy Spirit! This particular group of girls are so awesome, and so much fun to be with- all night I just kept thanking God for the opportunity to be with them, and praying that they would build such binding "Christian sister" relationships with each other, that it would see them through these tough years in miraculous ways. The lessons they are learning as they "bear with one another", love each other and see what being a Christian really means are going to bode well as they become women- with extended families of their own, husbands, children, and friendships that don't always work out just like the movies. God is doing great things in them, and it was an absolute privilege to watch it unfold. I can't wait to see how these beautiful ladies grow! It helped to get to have dinner at Sonic, play some sweet Balderdash and Sardines, go on a Scavenger Hunt and try to paint CR's rock- who could NOT have a blast when Sonic is involved? :)

All in all, it was a great weekend- and I still have Sunday to enjoy! God, be with all of us as we struggle to be more like You. Make us forgiving, and compassionate. Loving and ready always to see you clearly.

"How great is our God,
Sing with me- how great is our God...
And all will see How great is our God.
Name above all names,
You are Worthy of all praise,
and My heart will sing-
how great is our God."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

If only I could "see" it all the time...

"I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber...
The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Palm 121

This has been a blabbering kind of day. My mind has run through so many things in 24 hours, it's no wonder I have a migraine. :) I start a second job on Monday, have a crazy busy weekend ahead, and am still trying to keep from crying every time I walk my dogs down the street- wishing they were running around me as I ride my horse instead. Throw in tough relationships and frustrations, and it's a perfect melodrama.

I need so much to remember the truth of this passage all the time. I have been clinging to this truth as the weeks have gone by, keeping my list of "pros" for the move to town and the reasons on being here right now close at hand and trying to remember that God is the only "help" I can ever hold on to completely. He will not let me down or leave me, but there are some days that the "realness" of this world overwhelms the heart, you know? There have been so many let downs, don't we get a breather in between?

All the silly desires of this life can be overlooked easily, but when you top it with the heartbreak that we give to each other, as family, as friends- it makes living so much harder.
Steve always says "It's not PC to tell the truth anymore", and some days, I get so tired of trying to be PC. Proper manners, polite speech, fancy dresses for church and pasty smiles make me want to gag. Why is it unacceptable to say what you mean, and mean what you say? Sometimes it might hurt, but isn't that better than trying to keep from growing bitter, from lying, or from losing intimate relationships? Am I crazy to think painful truth is better than flattering words?

Blah, blah, blah. Rambling Renee needs to stop whining and count her blessings, don't you think? The Lord is still on his throne, another day tomorrow- and as Anne and Miss Stacey would say, "No mistakes in it...yet".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tulip Festival, Woodburn OR- A must see!

What a perfectly beautiful day. The weather couldn't have been better, and my family is always the best company.

We spent the day at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Oregon, and saw literally 2.5 million tulips in bloom- all in one place! It was not only breathtaking, but such a reminder of how much I have to be thankful for. No matter what, the God who imagined up the thousands of colors, and scents, the variety and beauty of this fallen earth- imagined up me, and loves me. WOW.

I will post more photos later, but for now- I hope you enjoy, and I hope you take time to drive out there. They are open until the 2nd of May, weekdays it is $5 per car load, and $10 on the weekends. There are also some really nice outlet stores at the same exit- which we indulged in. :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sometimes I wish I could write like David...

"O God of my praise, Do not be silent!
For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without cause.
In return for my love they act as my accusers;
But I am in prayer.
Thus they have repaid me evil for good and hatred for my love...

Help me, O LORD my God;
Save me according to Your loving kindness.
And let them know that this is Your hand;
You, Lord, have done it.
Let them curse, but you bless;
When they arise, they shall be ashamed,
But your servant will be glad." Psalm 109:1-5; 26-28

Vengeance feels so much easier than forgiveness sometimes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's official.

I am sitting here waiting to take my son and register him for high school next year. I can't decide how it is possible that I can feel depressed and excited for him at the same time. We have had such a fantastic time home school all these years, and the thought of him not being here every day makes me so sad I want to cry. But the prospect of watching him make tough decisions, learn from his mistakes and enjoy new opportunities is a wonderful thing too. How strange it is to know that one decision can have so many outcomes. What will ours be, Lord?

"Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you." Psalm 9:10

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Smoke signals in the strangest places.

"The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, "God! How could you do this to me?" Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island! It had come to rescue him! "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied."

Time and perspective can change how we feel about things, yes? Weariness is catching up with me, but this little story was such a great reminder to me that God is always working, even when I am too exhausted to try at the moment.

Monday, April 13, 2009

He has risen- He has risen indeed!

God is so amazing, and I still don't get why that surprises me! I obviously don't know Him nearly well enough. But I am so thankful He has given all of us the opportunity to know Him more and more. Thank you, Jesus- for making a way.

Easter was such a great time. We had some of our family over, and it shocks me how much better my heart is doing. God has been gracious and truly is giving me a new heart, and a new understanding of what it means to love people. I have a long way to go, but I am finally sure I will make it. :) The drama of the last year, and all the changes that have happened has just reinforced more and more that the "Lord gives, and the Lord takes away- Blessed be the name of the Lord." Where we have lost financially, God has provided abundantly, where we have lost family, God has provided new family for us to give and share our lives with. Where we have lost faith, God has given more grace, where we have lost hope- God has given so much mercy.

I am so rich, and I can't believe I didn't see it before. As each milestone passes from last spring, each holiday is completed- I feel Jesus helping me through, healing the holes in my heart and making me trust in His unfailing goodness. I know there will be days that threaten to tear me down, break my resolve in trusting Him- but the more I realize that there are no guarantees outside of Jesus, the easier it gets to keep my focus.
Ahhh- today will be a good day, Praise God. And if next April finds me alone and living in a cardboard box, Praise God. Help me to truly live like that, Father. God be with you today, friend.
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." John 17:3

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's only Friday- Sunday's comin...

(Don't forget to pause the music on the right so you can hear the video!)

Good Friday- I always felt like, "what's good about it?" When I think about it, it makes me cry. Then I feel guilty rather than relieved, and I remember what a loser I am. This Good Friday, I finally got it. Yes, it still makes me cry, yes, I still feel like a loser, and yes- I remember. I remember all the ugliness of me, the sins I keep secret, the unfaithfulness I practice more often than I should. But this Good Friday, I finally realized- "Sunday is coming." Thank you, God- that you promise I will be perfect- resurrected into your beautiful kingdom free of sin and wickedness!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Just a little break...

I thought I would take a little break from the madness of moving and offer an update. We officially move tomorrow, but the cleaning and the packing started Monday. :)
It cracks me up how God plans things out for you WAY better than you could ever plan for yourself. I started this week out feeling totally abandoned by our dear friends who moved (they needed to, but it started quite a whirlwind) and depressed from the loss of so many things. I felt like there was so little communication, and things were happening so fast, I couldn't possibly keep up. Where were we going to live, what we were going to do?

Less than 5 days later, my husband is ridiculously ecstatic with our new neighborhood, my kids are running around enjoying themselves- walking to Don's country store, playing at the park, and I love my new house and the fact that so many things have gone right. When Stef said she was moving so fast, I was sad but figured it was the best thing for them, when Steve lost his job, I panicked because I didn't know how we could afford to stay at this place alone. And now, I am so happy that my family is happy, and totally relaxed because God is working for us in this crazy life- and I can't doubt it.
Who else could find us a beautiful home so fast in exactly the right place, provide us with money in the bank, food on the table, and the most inexpensive move we have ever experienced (and we have experienced A LOT!). Jasmine says a million times a day, "I love my room, I love my house, I love my new neighborhood", and all I can say is "God is so good!"

I will update more later, but the Son couldn't be much brighter in our world now. No matter how dark and gray the skies are, nothing can keep Him away. Thank God no one listened to my plans... God's are so much better!

(BTW: The photo is courtesy of our good buddy, Scott. Isn't it pretty? Spring is here!)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Facebook is my friend.

I absolutely could not sleep because I felt like my head was going to pop off. Stress, anger, frustration, excitement- all conspired against me to rob me of "peace of mind and tranquility". Very necessary things to a good night's rest.

Well, I finally gave up the battle and decided a little blogging might help me work through the thoughts. But FIRST- I checked my Facebook- and thank you, Jesus.

It is hilarious to me how God uses the most unexpected channels to meet you where you are at. I have such a hatred of Myspace, for such a stupid reason- and it has bled into Facebook too. I know the computer is a "necessary evil" in the times we live in, a great easy way to connect and especially with the youth, but I sometimes feel like it is too much of a time drain for so many that I get irritated by it. Tonight God pulled a bait and switch, and I am so glad he did! He used my "necessary evil" to bless me so much, I will never be able to say a bad thing about computer friendships again!

My dear friend, Lisa G, was online at 2 am like only a crazy night shift nurse would be, and she so encouraged my heart, and took my mind off my silly worries. We went to nursing school together, and love visiting, but because of our schedules, Facebook is pretty much the only way we can stay in regular contact. And she is one of the friendliest, funniest people I have ever met- I could never give up this friendship. Lisa is such a free spirit- and I just know God is going to use her in a great way. She just doesn't know it yet. :) Her walk with God has been all over the board, yet she keeps on keepin' on- and trying to move forward with Him. She totally inspires me. To feel crushed and beaten down at every turn, and to hurt and lose so much- but never quit. That is what I would love to be like. Could I do it? That's how she inspires me- "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" kind of faith. Lisa, you are amazing!

I love this girl. We went through our schooling, moved to Arizona at the same time, moved back at the same time, and now daydream of moving to Arizona AGAIN together. We could go for months and not see each other, but the minute we do, it's like a breath of fresh air and sunshine. Lisa just has such a natural, easy way of going- you can't help but want to be around her, laughing with her, smiling and feeling like all is right with the world. Even when she is in the worst pit, she always says "it will be o.k." I know she doesn't always believe that- but she never quits, never "says die"- even when I know she probably lies in bed wishing it was over. She is so strong, so quick to forgive and love- it truly takes my breath away.

Thank you, Lord, for my dear Lisa. Bless her God with your unending grace and mercy, and bring her closer to you. Draw her into your family- the people you have specially made to lift her up, to brighten her smile, and to give her strength when she feels so alone. Protect her from the evils that want to take her, and provide her always with a way of escape- a way to flee the temptations, and to walk in your peace and JOY, Father. And thank you for Facebook tonight. Hehehehe

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We can take it.

It is very cool, how the more you process something, the better you can handle it. With everything else going on, I have been a tad on the negative side as of late. In addition to that, I am missing my kids horribly. I won't get them back until Thursday from their "Spring Break Extravaganza".
So as I was driving home last night, I was just so depressed because I couldn't run in my house and give them a hug or yell at them for not doing their chores. (Both likely to occur in the same breath around here.) Then I open up my email to the best gift in the world, my Jasmine had sent me so me photos of her trip so far!

Priceless- and if this first photo doesn't say it all, let me explain it. When you have a daughter, as awesome as this- it truly makes you feel like you can take anything, do anything, or be anything to make sure she is safe, happy and feels 100% loved and adored. Jasmine is like a sun- no matter what is happening, or how dark and dreary your life appears, the minute the sun breaks, you feel hope. That is my Jazzy girl, and she absolutely made my day. She has been calling me 3 and 4 times a day, just filling me in on the details. I try to be upbeat and positive so she doesn't worry about me missing her, but she still calls to just say she loves us. Thank you, Jesus- for blessing me with this amazing young woman.

I don't care where we live, what job we might have, or what stresses we might be facing, when I think of the fun and experience Jordan is going to have next year in high school, and Jasmine having the chance to shine her light more often into the lives of her friends and neighbors- it makes me excited for the future. Team Doan can do anything as long as we stick together, because we have the One True God and Savior of the world rooting for us, preparing the way for us, loving us, and protecting us. No bad thing can come from His hands, and no fear need shake our resolve to "live big" for Jesus.

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:16-17