Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rekindling the Romance Book Review

Another book review, Rekindling the Romance- Loving the Love of your Life by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, that I had to share. Whether you have been married since Noah, or just a week- this book gives you a glimpse of what God intended your relationship to be like. If you have rated G eyes and think the word "sex" should be whispered or avoided at all costs, please don't continue. :) I don't want to make you blush.

Written in two sections, first half by Barbara directed at wives, and the second by Dennis directed at husbands, but both people should read the book in it's entirety. If you are wondering what your husband(or wife)is thinking and why he does things that way, great perspective and very visual. The book uses a lot of examples (fairytales like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, pop culture, Heroes of the Bible) that we can relate to now as metaphors to help the reader understand the point. They also deal really well with the idea of "New Love, Disappointed Love, and Committed Love" and how every relationship will experience all three. Get the book for more information on this- it's fantastic!

Wonderful chapters, super easy read, and who doesn't want to make their great marriage even better? And if you are in the midst of hurt and despair, ready to throw in the towel- the authors give very practical, biblical guidelines to help the reader through "Disappointed Love" and back on the right track in BELIEVING God's way is the best way. Anytime I spend focusing on loving and respecting my husband is not time wasted, and the returns are priceless.
Two chapters, 'The Power of a Woman" and "The Irresistible Man" blew me away. As a woman, you take for granted what your femininity means to your husband- why he would cross hot coals just to pick you a flower when you were dating- and why if you choose not to use that God-given power to benefit your husband once married, you both feel cheated. This has nothing to do with whether or not you look like Megan Fox or have had 10 kids. God gave you to your husband as a gift, regardless of if you were saved before marriage or not. God made men with a missing component that only a woman can fill- I love that this book reminds you of that, and spurs you on to being the "missing link" for your husband. God made a perfect world, and a perfect man- yet in Genesis He said "it is not good for man to be alone"- God did that on purpose.

Barbara goes so far to say "You face the same decision to love your man today. Your husband will never be the man God created him to be if you don't validate his maleness and understand and satisfy his need for sexual intimacy. You are God's primary instrument for love and AFFIRMATION if he is to become God's man. You have the power to make him or break him because men are not born, they are made."
Ladies, how often do you think of your self that way? I know I don't. I want to affirm all that my husband is, but sometimes don't know how. I usually feel like a piece of worn furniture. I might be his favorite piece, but I just blend into the house, useful and comfortable at times- but nothing special. God KNOWS that's not true, and desires for me to be (and act) like so much more to bless my husband. Woohoo! When I read that chapter, I felt like I got a huge raise. No longer a Lazy Boy, now I can be the prized Datsun 360 Z- polished and priceless, bringing my husband great joy, fun, pride, and pleasure. (I know, my imagination is ridiculous, but you get the point.)

All in all, a worthy read alongside your bible study each day. Buy it, borrow it, and see what God does with your heart- and your marriage. God bless you!

"After all, marriage is not just about a grand beginning. It's about committing to a strong finish. It's weathering the storms of disappointment and the turbulence of life, never losing the ability to sing with Solomon, "How delightful is your love...How much more pleasing is your love than wine." (Song 4:10) That, my friend, is a real storybook finish."
Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Nelson Books ISBN 0-7852-0001-0

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Noah's Wife

"A preacher, ending his sermon, announced that he would preach on Noah and his Ark on the following Sunday and gave the scriptural reference for the congregation to read ahead of time. A couple of Sunday school boys noticed something interesting about the placement of the story of the Flood in the Bible, so they de-cided to have some fun. They slipped into the church and glued two pages of the pulpit Bible together.

On the next Sunday, the preacher got up to read his text. ‘Noah took unto himself a wife.’ he began, ‘and she was’ -- he turned the page to continue -- ‘three hundred cubits long, fifty cu-bits wide and thirty cubits high.’

He paused, scratched his head, turned the page back and read it silently, turned the page. Then he looked up at his congregation and said. ‘I’ve been studying this Bible for almost fifty years, but there are still some things in it that are hard to believe.’" Creative Youth Ideas.Com

HAHAHAHAHAHA! Gotta love those naughty kids...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My Ebenezer Stone...

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12

I have been thinking and thinking about our memories this week, and how important a "feature" that is in the human being. As I prepare for this next school year and all the new experiences we will have, I can't help but get nostalgic. And as I look back at our life since May of 1998...I have to say, I wouldn't change a thing. Mistakes and successes, tears and laughter- how could I take one thing back, because it has all brought us to today?

When I read Samuel's words "Thus far has the LORD helped us", I get goose pimples, because that is so what I can say- "Thus far the LORD has helped me". He never said die, never said quit, and is continually patient and faithful to a stinker like me. How can that not put a smile on my face? Now, I might not have heard him thunder over my head, and throw an entire Philistine army into a panic so I could whoop their butts (1 Samuel 7), but I have certainly heard Him whisper love in my ear, felt Him fight the internal demons of despair and self loathing, and I have watched Him grow and mature the most beautiful people in my life in miraculous ways. Oh, if I could remember these days- "Thus far the LORD has helped us".

Now I need to go for a walk and find my own Ebenezer Stone for the patio- one that I might "set up (stand on end)" to remind me always what the Lord has done.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


"But so that we may not offend them, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours." Matthew 17:27
And it actually worked!!! Peter actually found a stinkin' fish with money in it's mouth! My peanut brain can't stand it. :)

A dear friend sent me something Monday that I so needed to hear. It used this scripture and spoke on obedience to God, even when we don't get it. I have been sweating the kids going back to school, not because I think it is wrong- I know that is where God wants them right now and feel peaceful about the decision, but because I WANT them with me instead. I start scrambling around in my head, thinking of all the reasons that public school isn't the BEST option, it's safer at home, it's more fun at home, they learn more one on one- anything and everything to justify what I (capital I) want.

Reading this note reminded me that obedience and trust in God is ALWAYS the best way, and I don't need to completely understand why. Just DO IT.

When I look at my girl's beautiful face, what better hands could her life and heart be in than with my God?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day.

"He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." ~Clarence Budington Kelland

I am sitting here listening to my husband laugh his head off playing games with Jordan, looking at beautiful pictures my daughter took for me of our garden, and feeling totally blessed. These are the days that get you through all the rest.

Spending way too much time at the Farmers Market (you know it is bad when the Shave Ice Lady knows your first name, where you went to school, where you work, and what flavors you love and hate), but this morning was especially nice. The kids wanted to stay for youth group, so Steve and I snuck away for a little wandering. Actually, Steve calls it "waddling". He says our whole family "waddles" as we meander along looking at things, swerving unexpectedly, bumping into each other at a deliciously leisurely pace. For some reason I think that doesn't sound very complimentary, but the expression stuck. So we "waddled" around downtown, the market, Esther Short Park- enjoying eachother's company.

I find it hilarious that I can get so frustrated at a man who truly loves so much. What a brat I can be. Steve is just an all around fantastic person, and even in the worst moments, he does the best things. I am blessed to be his wife, and even more blessed to watch him be a father to our children. God bless him all his days, help him walk in your ways, and show him how to leave the legacy he so much desires to- children who grow up to know and love Jesus.

“Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.” -Ruth E. Renkel

(BTW: All these photos are from my girl. Isn't she a beautiful heart?)

Friday, June 19, 2009

A perfectly unexpected lesson...

Yet another morning that could have been dreary, but turned out surprisingly refreshing. I woke up to rain and for once, it didn't make me want to cry. Yesterday I went with the youth group to Seaside, and God totally blessed the trip from beginning to in. We had three times as many kids as last year, but instead of being overwhelming, it was so fun and a great time of building relationships.Only two bleeders, one vomiter, and no abductions. That's pretty good for teenagers if you ask me.

Someone said something that hit me so hard, I still feel a little stunned. It has been spinning through my mind ever since, and even though I couldn't sleep much due to the magnitude of truth it carried, I am thankful for the realization. We were just lazing around on the beach after shopping, ciclo bike rides, and goofing around, and one of the staff kids was setting up to build a fire. I couldn't get over what a gorgeous day it had turned out to be, partly sunny, warm and very little wind...reminder- we were at the OREGON COAST. Where I remember wearing ski caps and parkas and pretending to have fun. Obviously my memory is biased. Anyways- gorgeous day. As I sat there, surrounded by the kids I love, I commented on how awesome it was, and said next year I was going to make Cindy bring hot dogs and smores, so we could stay on the beach instead of going to dinner. Then, in typical Renee fashion, I said "but next year it will probably rain". BAH! This staff member turns to me and says "You are so depressing! I can't believe you said that!" and laughingly rebukes me for my sour attitude. Now, he probably didn't see it that way, but I did- and he was so dead on, I have been thinking about it ever since. I have never felt like a depressing person, and try to look for the blessings in life, but now I see that my thought process is so totally negative, it is ridiculous. No wonder I struggle with my attitude and keeping my feelings in check. Feeling defeated and discouraged is exhausting, and not at all how God wants us to feel. It was such a God Stop, and at such the right time. My study this week has been about using our mouths appropriately in speech, and I had read a blog one of our old youth pastors from AZ wrote about the heart, so I had already been thinking on that- and then to have this twerp call me on the carpet about where I let my mouth run, leading my heart along- wow. The bummer is I am going to have to thank that twerp for being God's mouthpiece for me. :)

As I processed all of yesterday this morning, I can't help but praise God for his total patience and unfailing love. This week has not been my favorite, with Steve's job stuff, my work schedule, and the end of the school year- meaning the end of homeschooling for us. My heart has been given a bit of a beating, but as I did my word study this morning on "heart" and "mouth", I realized that even if it feels that way, it has been such a good thing. I want my heart tender towards God and the things around me, and sometimes I guess God just needs to use a hammer to make it happen. Ummm...that sounds kind of disgusting. But you get the "picture". hehehe

A work in progress, and thank God- He isn't through with us yet. Happy Friday, my friends, and look for your God Stops today.
"But as for me, I will always have hope, I will praise you more and more.
My MOUTH will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not it's measure." Psalm 71:14-15

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Learning and growing...

What a crazy week. I haven't been this tired in a long time, but all from really good things. Graduation parties for kids we love, Steve is unemployed again- which amazingly enough is a good thing, finals for my kids, and working like a mad woman. But God is doing such amazing things, how can I complain? The God Stops just keep rolling in, and I can't wait to see what else He will do. Terrifyingly free place to be- trusting that it's not in your control, but in the control of One who is much more able. :)

Added some new things to the garden, mostly by Steve! We are now a regular at the farmer's market, and both are learning the ends and outs of this new horticulture world. Haven't lost anybody yet, but my Mountain Laurel is looking a little off. Going to have to keep researching and figure it out.
(Another palm for Steve- this one is a Canary Islands Date Palm- much more finicky, hope it makes it!)

Have a fantastic day, my friends- Believe God that He is who He says He is, and that He can do what He said He would do!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Makes sense to an 8 year old...

Two young boys walked into a pharmacy one day,
picked out a box of tampons and proceeded to the
checkout counter.
The pharmacist at the counter asked the older boy,
'Son, how old are you?'
'Eight', the boy replied.
The pharmacist continued, 'Do you know what
these are used for?'
The boy replied, 'Not exactly, but they aren't for me.
They're for him. He's my brother. He's four.
We saw on TV that if you use these, you would
be able to swim, play tennis and ride a bike.
Right now, he can't do none of those'.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Sunshine is overrated"

A friend of mine emailed me today with that sentence in the subject line. Now, you all know my love affair with the sun, so it definitely got my attention. I opened the mail to see some wonderfully encouraging words that I so needed. My mood is literally ATTACHED to the weather, and she was gently reminding me to become more attached to the "Sonshine" that is available even on the darkest days. How did this girlie that I haven't seen or talked to in weeks know that I needed that? There have been so many "God Stops" this month, yet I couldn't seem to get ahead of those stinkin' feelings all week. Feeling discouraged, overwhelmed, trying so hard to be content in all things, but that is so much harder when you can't just be by yourself all the time. :)Which just made me more depressed, to know that in spite of all the reasons I had to thank God for my blessings and praise Him, I was still a whiner down deep.

It reminded me of something someone said once, in this video bible study- about darkness and light. It generally said- Have you ever noticed that when you open a closet door, you can see what ever you need just from the light of the hallway? The light from the room spills into the closet, brightening up everything in it. Yet, the darkness that was in the closet doesn't spill out and take over the room. I have been locked in many a closets (don't ask), and sometimes it is so dark in there, you can't even see your hand in front of your face. Why doesn't that thick, pitch black dark block out the light from the hall? That's when the speaker said, Darkness is just the ABSENCE of light, not something tangible in itself. It was a very cool presentation metaphorically because it reminded me to stop focusing on the darkness. It has no strength or resource- as long as I "carry my light", I don't have to live in shadows.

This week I have been looking at the "clouds" and reminding myself of my shortcomings, rather than looking at the "Son" and remembering His presence in me. I am never going to be perfect, but thank God He is. It doesn't matter if I get off track on my diet, my goals for work, my attitude towards my husband- as long as I don't stay there- in the closet. "Let some light in, girlfriend!" Is that why God sent me that email through my friend? I love to think so.
I don't function so well when I am tired, and having slept only a few hours a night, I could tell my crabbiness was catching up to me. Then the dreary, muggy days. But oh, what a friend we have in Jesus. He knows just what to send and when to send it. I hope He sends you a friend to lift your spirits tomorrow, or a smile when you need it- just to remind you that He is thinking about you.

"The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 1:9

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Ridiculous Day.

Today was full of ridiculous moments, and I can't help thinking I am the only one who has them.

I find it ridiculous that I am positively ecstatic and joyful, just because the sun came out for an hour, but I am.

I find it ridiculous that people come to the doctor's office to get medications instilled in their vein, and get angry that you are going to poke them with a needle and don't have t.v. for them to watch while they are waiting. How did you think I was going to get the meds into your vein, and do I look like the front desk clerk at the Hilton?

I find it even more ridiculous that people are PAID WELL to work and be at their jobs, and yet every single day I hear nothing but whining and gripping from some.

I find it ridiculous that flowers can truly make me feel relaxed.

I find it ridiculous that even without the sunshine, I think I would love spring and summer so much because of the delicious berries!

I find it ridiculous that the a fore mentioned berries are so horribly expensive the rest of the year. The lovely bowl of cherries you see would have cost me over $32 at Safeway two months ago, and today I can get them for the wonderfully low price of $8. Wahoo!

I find it ridiculous that my hands don't work right. I must have dropped a dozen things today, including needles, wound dressings, iv tubing, and I even smashed a coworker in the door so hard he thought his arm was broken. Ridiculous.

I could go on and on, but it was just a ridiculous day. And I loved it. I needed a reminder to laugh at myself, and that is what I got. I recieved sad news a few days ago, that the "forever home" I sold one of my horses to has already sold her for a profit. Liars. I know it is their right, but it feels wrong when they tell you a great story to get you to sell the horse to them, and then turn out to be a trader. In some ways I was relieved to have a very clear "no" from God regarding ever getting my sweet baby back. Now that she is gone from my contact, maybe I will stop thinking about her everyday and hoping I might have her again. So it was a good "God Stop" in a lot of ways, but it was also very depressing. Perfect time for a ridiculous day to come. Thank God for weird coworkers, crabby patients, savory fruit, and another day of breathing and living. Hope you have a ridiculous Tuesday.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What to do with the days given me?

"Time by itself does nothing but grows us old. What we do with time makes the difference."
Being a planner, time is very important to me. I have clocks all over the place, usually set a bit fast so I can be ahead. I have 5 calendars, a palm pilot and a cell phone that keeps track of the days and our schedule. I use caller id to prioritize who I am willing to talk to and who I'm not, because time is valuable in my mind.
So I usually know it is going to be a bad day when I get a text message before 6 AM. It means that someone I love is hurting, or in trouble, and I won't really be able to do a thing about it. I know I can pray with them, and offer encouraging words or a shoulder to cry on- but I want to do so much more, and I never can. These calls are something I can't plan for, so I usually see them as a terrible event. Not anymore. Today I realized that God's timing is awesome, and His ways so much better than mine. Who cares how effective I am with the minutes in a day when the moments that matter are the ones when we get to love God's people and see Him work?

Today started out that way with a early text message, but it became one of the best "God Stops" I have had in a long time. This text message was from a friend of mine's 18 year old son. Now, this kid has walked far away from the Lord, but is on the road back and he was calling for his mother. He texted me to call when I woke up, and of course I had to call him right away. He then proceed to ask me, "What do you do when you feel completely abandoned- by God, by everyone?" Man, talk about a punch in the gut. Isn't that what I was feeling all last year? That God had directed me straight in to a hell hole and left me there to rot? Sorry to be so frank, but that was pretty much how I felt. The question sank deep into my heart, but the fantastic thing was, I could feel the peace that comes from finally having the answer. See, this amazing kid wasn't calling for his own doubts, but for his mother's hurting heart. She was feeling completely alone, and her son was wanting to help her anyway he could.

That was God Stop number 1. If you knew what a loner this guy is, and how little he trusted in Jesus a few months ago, it would astound you as much as it does me to have him follow God's command, to look for the one thing that would help her- God's people. He remembered that we are to bear one another's burdens, to pray for each other, and to proclaim the truth of God's Word always. He instinctively knew she needed a friend to cry with, to pray with, and to lift her up to our heavenly Father who carries the burden for us if we let him. And He obeyed.
As I listened to my friend, I heard her say she was angry with God, that she saw NOTHING good from Him in any area of her life. And it wasn't fair. As I prayed for her, I couldn't help thinking about all my rage towards God this last year, about the "unfairness" of this world. I realized often our anger towards God is because we didn't get something we felt entitled to. If we do it all right as a parent, our kids will be perfect. If we respect and love our husbands, our marriage will be incredible...and the list goes on. Yet, where does it say that in Scripture? That if we obey, it will be roses and daisies here? I think it says much more often, obey now and you will be blessed later. Unfortunately, I feel like the "later" should be a few days at the most, and sometimes God allows the tough stuff to last for decades.
Time has a way of tricking our minds into thinking we can count it, but it is so much more important to LIVE each minute rather than counting how many have gone by, or how many more we have in store. To serve our families with a joyful heart, to honor God in every aspect of our lives. I suck at both, but I am determined to keep trying. I want my days to be counted by God, and for Him to say someday, "You did good, girlie." Oh, to hear those words!
Not only did God bless me to see Him working in that young man's life today (a kid I adore and have prayed for for years), but He gave me God Stop number 2. He gave me the opportunity to answer the question I asked all last year RIGHT finally. I could honestly say to my beloved sister that God has never abandoned or forsaken us. It is us who abandon Him by doubting His goodness, denying His plan, and desiring ease and prosperity over His glorious face. (I didn't say that part of course, no one who is hurting needs to hear pat Christian answers) It was just so cool to realize I no longer am doubting His love and provision, even His very nature. No longer am I angry with God- because I can see how He worked a miracle in my heart and healed the broken parts. I could honestly encourage my friend and believe that God was working through all the ugly stuff in her life to get down to the "nitty gritty". And that He would heal HER broken heart, just as He has through the ages for those who believe in Him.
I am still praying for my dear friend and her family, but there is no doubt in my mind that God gave me the chance to love on her, to remind me how much He loves on me every day. In God's love- we are blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, forgiven- believe Him. Ephesians 3:1-8a

Like the old saying, knowing this, we should "live each day like it was our last." God be with you, friends.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A side note...

Had to do two posts today because God is just that good! We had a final TAG (Teen Accountability Group)worship night tonight as a farewell to the school year, and I can't even explain how awesome it is to see God working RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Sure, some of the teens were goofing off or whatever, but then there were others- kids I pray for and dearly want to see in love with Jesus, lifting up their hands to their Creator and singing with unexpected abandon. What a blessing to me, as I worshiped with them to realize these young adults are growing, and no matter what kind of mess they might make, God is in their lives and will give them grace and love and joy, and a good ol' whoopin' when they need it too!

One of the songs we sang said that God is our living water, without Him we perish. And God just brought that truth home in such a real way to me. I planted our awesome palm tree on Saturday, and today it looks pathetic, palms all curled up, yellowing tips. I was so bummed, and then I felt the soil. I hadn't watered it enough after transplanting. DUH! I know plants need lots of H2O at transplant time, but I thought palms needed way less. Apparently not. Without water, my poor tree is going to die. Wither up, suffer, and die. And that is exactly what happens to me when I choose to turn away from the "water" that only God can give, my nourishment and my strength. Oh, God, bring that truth home to me every day, and make it real to Felida's youth. Show them your glory, Lord. Forgive me for the times I make other things more important than spending time with you, "drinking" in your words and your ways. And God, please make my palm tree live. :)


Contentment is often a matter of perspective, don't you think? More specifically, I wonder if the way we love the world around us can help us be content, or cause us to become discontented. Sunday really got me thinking about what contentment is and if I have it. I still can't decide. There is a quote out there that says,
"Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have." How often have I felt stressed and harried, but the reason is my life isn't matching up with my PLAN. I am hurrying here or there, running after the prizes that perish and hold no value in the grand scheme of things. The apostle Paul says in Philippians that he has found the "secret" to contentment. If I asked him, what do you think he would say the secret is? I bet you are smiling too- as we both answer, "Jesus"! Now that might seem like a Sunday School answer to you, but if we know that we are in the midst of God's GOOD plan for our lives and truly love Him and His ways, wouldn't we be content? Would we be able to sigh and peacefully say, "Not my will, but yours, Lord" and not shudder with fear or be angry with resentment at the way the "dice fell"? How many times are we "discontented" because we felt wronged or cheated, but if we filtered it through God's love, we would see that there was something even better waiting. Love has a way of changing our view, and satisfying our desires. How many stories have you heard of people who have nothing materially, but love each other so deeply you wish you were them?

J. Vernon McGee shared a story on his program today that made me think of perspective. It went like this, but I added the way I pictured them:
An older man was walking down the street when he saw a little girl carrying a baby. She had her skinny arms wrapped around the chubbiest baby, the little boy could have outweighed her, his entire forty pounds was mostly carried in his round cheeks. The man stopped her and said, "Little girl, isn't that baby too heavy for you?" She smiled her best smile and said, "No, sir, he's my brother." The burden of love makes it no burden at all". (Can you hear Mr McGee's nice drawl say "at all", and "dearly beloved"? I love it.)

To that little girl, this weight could never be a burden- it was HER brother. How many things in our lives would cease to be a burden if we would look at them from the perspective of love?
God be with you today...and may we all be content in plenty or in want.

(This is Iris's newest half sister- Aerro. She is beautiful!)