Monday, July 27, 2009

When my memorial service comes, I am dancin' through it!

It is bizarro to me what God uses to teach us. This last week was a struggle in "what should I say, what shouldn't I say, how should I feel, how shouldn't I feel, what should I think, what shouldn't I think..." and the list goes on and on. Death and eternity were at the fore front of my mind, and I truly didn't know how to deal with it all. Then God used the smallest thing to bring me to my knees- to remind me how awesome and great He is.

As I sat last night at the memorial service for a man I hardly knew, I realized that I went only because I wanted to bless his daughter, who I do know and love, and found that I was the one who was totally blessed instead. Watching this gentleman's life unfold before me, from birth to death- and all the "living" that goes on in between, I couldn't help but cry at how often I zoom in on the troublesome details, and miss the bigger picture. Memorial services often make life appear like it was all roses and daisies and sunshine. Why? Because when it comes down to it- when the fat lady has sung, "The End" has been printed on this life and we no longer have to live in these sinful bodies- we don't remember the day to day fights, the ugliness of battle or the broken hearts of yesteryear. We remember what it felt like to WIN the fight, to receive the reward at the end of our battles, and how God so totally used our broken hearts to grow us and change us into the people we dreamed we would be.

I saw through the pictures of this God loving man a full life- with love and family, laughter and tears, a soldier, a friend, a husband, a father, a grandpa. I watched his children stand up to honor him, and a church FULL of people sit for two hours in a hot, sweaty auditorium just to show his "young" bride how much they love her.

It was a privilege to see what a life well lead looks like, and it made me smile to picture this fella standing next to Jesus, cheering us on as we laughed and cried over him. I love that even though we know some of the very real struggles he faced in life, those did not define him in the end. Those struggles were not a label or a chain to him, but when all was said and done- he heard "Well done, my son" from the only One who matters. It made me think- is that how it will be? Will God really hone in on all He knows about my evil ways and mistakes, or will He allow the picture to get a little fuzzy around the edges and instead zoom in on me and my Jesus- standing together at the finish? Oh, I hope that is what it will be like- that God would find pleasure in me- in spite of me. :)

Today I am going to the beach with extended family and have been dreading it for various (very valid) reasons. But I think I am going to keep my eyes crossed all day, so I can "fuzzy" out the struggles, and focus in on the memory. Let's just hope my eyes don't get stuck.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When Trials Come...

This whole week has pretty much sucked eggs, but tonight definitely brought the "suckiness" to a new level. With all the sadness this week, it has been exhausting to keep a smile, but my sweet kiddos help so much, and my Steve has been awesome. It's been one of those weeks where I find myself thinking, "Why on earth did I ever leave Arizona to be closer to THIS (insert expletive here)!?!" I know that is selfish and horrible, but it's true. This morning actually started out great, blueberry picking with my dearest friend, but getting to experience all that is the delight of "extended family" has me pleading "Jesus, come soon!" I am trying to remember- trying to believe God is who He says He is, and will do what He says He will do- but man, is the rest of the world trying to make me forget. So, nothing inspiring or interesting to say tonight. Hearts are breaking, families are hurting, but the gladiolas are blooming and tomorrow is a new day. God, help us all.

An old hymn I love, and is bringing me some comfort. You can get a excerpt of it on , or even better, order the CD. It's beautiful.

"When trials come no longer fear
For in the pain our God draws near
To fire a faith worth more than gold
And there His faithfulness is told

Within the night I know Your peace
The breath of God brings strength to me
And new each morning mercy flows
As treasures of the darkness grow

I turn to Wisdom not my own
For every battle You have known
My confidence will rest in You
Your love endures Your ways are good

When I am weary with the cost
I see the triumph of the cross
So in it's shadow I shall run
Till He completes the work begun

One day all things will be made new
I'll see the hope You called me to
And in your kingdom paved with gold
I'll praise your faithfulness of old"

Keith & Kristyn Getty
Copyright © 2005 Thankyou Music

Monday, July 20, 2009

The depths of despair..." Anne Shirley

I have been a bit neglectful this week, but the things I wanted to blog about belonged more in my private journal rather than a public blog, so I decided to stay away. I need to add some gardening stuff, but tonight I can't stop thinking about DESPAIR. I use to think that Marilla Cutherbert had it right when she said, " To despair is to turn your back on God." But as I have grown up, I realized that not all despair is the same. For me, that is usually where it's at- I am not living the way I should, making decisions I know better about, not asking God to give me an attitude like His. But if all despair was wrong, than what about when Paul said:
"We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

They could be despairing and wishing for death, yet they also note that God allowed it to happen that they might more fully rely on Him. It helped me to realize that sometimes our very weakness is what God will use to grow us into stronger believers- and that is a wonderful thing.

I was feeling very sorry for myself this couple weeks, but tonight God grabbed a hold of me and said, "Rely on ME." He showed me that I have it so easy, and my life is so totally blessed- how dare I ever complain? I grumbled about my husband for a day, and what does he do? He shows great love for me and signs us up for salsa dancing classes (something I have always wanted to do, but he never did). My kids give me a little lip, and minutes later they apologize and tell me they love me- TEENS! Miracle! I have a roof over my head, food in the fridge, and a job that helps make ends meet and pays for a couple shave ice treats every weekend. We are mentally healthy, physically sound and richer than 75% of the rest of the world. How dare I complain?

I suppose the hard times come so we can say like Paul did:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Oh, Lord, would you comfort the hurting tonight, care for the needy, and draw your children closer to you. Help us all take you at your word and truly believe you are always with us, You are powerful, You do what you say you will do, You give us LIFE, and you care for us. Work miracles in our hearts and minds, Father. (VBS people will recognize those bible points-they were so true!)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The best First Dance ever!

This couple is so going to make it "to death do us part" if they keep having fun together like this!
(Remember to pause the music player on the right before starting the video.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Courage that is reviews rock!

"Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do no do well, sin is crouching at the door; and it's desire is for you, but you must master it.." Genesis 4:6-7

"God wouldn't expect us to master our inner urges if He didn't first give us the ability to do it...(God) has placed courage deep within us. He wants us to cultivate it. That's why He said to Joshua, "Be strong and courageous." It was a command, not a request. God wouldn't expect Joshua to practice a quality He had not first placed within him. Once we exercise courage, God strengthens it." Tim Kimmel

Thought I would share another good book with you. Tim Kimmel wrote a very intriguing book called Home Grown Heroes based on the idea that taking eight God given principles and LIVING THEM, could help us establish a strong foundation for the next generation to live better than before. To truly believe great things of God and stop making excusing and start using their "internal muscle" of courage that God has planted in their souls.
One of my favorite chapters talks about the priest Eli and the mishandling of the apprenticeship of his sons. (You gotta read the book to get the details!) Good intentions will not complete the job, this book dares to say we must put those ideals into practice. "Courage is the natural result of internal disciplines".
This is a super fast read, full of real life stories of courage, Biblical examples and scriptures that will bless your heart as you pray for your families. Kimmel is also pretty witty, which always makes a good book better. Come borrow it, buy it, or check it out from the library. You won't be disappointed.

I really enjoyed this read years ago, and revisiting it with teenagers was a good reminder that my kids are my greatest disciples. If I want them to know and love their God with passion and courage, I better know and love MY God with passion and courage everyday. Spending the day at VBS and watching the personalities and gifts of all the kids- from crew leaders to preschoolers- my heart did somersaults for the potential there! What an impact our kids could make- should they believe God at His word to do amazing things through them. Oh, Father...let it be so, and let us live to see the day!

(Just had to introduce you to my new niece, Olivia Tuesday- in all her 4 pound, 10 ounce glory! The first picture is the only recent photo I have with my incredible kids, Jasmine is truly beautiful underneath all that hair...hehehehe why, oh why must the beach be so windy?)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Missed opportunity...

The first chance I get to really believe God's way is the best way and I totally blow it. :( Thankfully, my good friend, Nicole can smack me around a little- but why? Why do I give up so easily and let those stinky thoughts in?

Let It Go- Tenth Avenue North
"I've been holding on so tight
Look at these knuckles they've gone white
From fighting for who I want to be
I'm just trying to find security.

You say, let it go
You say life is waiting for the one's who lose control
You say You will be everything I need
You say if I lose my life, it's then I'll find my soul
You say let it go...

What do I love? What do I hate?
What will I lose? What will I gain?
How do I save my soul?
What if I bend? What if I break?
What will it cost? What will it take?
For You to save my soul?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The day the sun stood still...

Focus is a funny thing. A friend of mine taught me how to do a neat trick with my camera so I could take better close up pictures of my plants, and to do it- the plant has to be in the foreground, and everything else gets fuzzy. That is true for attitude as well. Whatever my focus is on, that is where my attitude will go, and I can make everything else go fuzzy. If I focus on the things that peeve me, all the good stuff turns into background. But if I stick to what I know is true, and good, and right- all the "bummers" in life get out of focus and become not so important in the picture. I am still working on doing that in all things, but I definitely needed it this week. Just been kind of funky, missing the past and wishing some things could go back to the way they were. And then I read the best story.

Joshua and the Israelites had just made a pact with a bunch of cheaters, because they forgot to ask God what He wanted them to do. (Joshua 9- the Gibeonites tricked them) Well, now the cheaters are under siege and they call to Joshua to come help them. My bratty-ness would have taken my time getting ready, walked the long route with lots of breaks, hoping the battle would be over once I got there. But not Joshua. They had sworn an oath before God to aid the cheaters, and they kept it. The Scripture says they marched all night (it was between 26-29 miles from Gilgal to Gibeon) so they could surprise the enemy. Were they exhausted? Probably. Were they wondering why they ever got themselves into this deal? I would be. Yet, they came upon the enemy with extreme determination. How? Well, one reason I am sure is the fact that God said "I have delivered them into your hand." But don't you think it is also probable that they kept their focus on the STRENGTH of their God, versus the huge numbers of the enemy? (By the way- there were five different kings and all their armies besieging Gibeon, while it was just worn out Joshua and the Israelites opposing)
So cool. The Bible says as the bad dudes were running away, huge hailstones were falling from the sky, and more of the enemy was destroyed by the hailstones than all the swords of the Israelites. Can you imagine? You fighting hand to hand with this guy, and BAM! Rock to the head...bam bam!...another one bites the dust. And not ONE Israelite is nailed with these flying hailstones. Sorry, I digress.
My very favorite part of this story, and what got me through the last few days is what happens next. Joshua, seeing the sun about to set, and knowing the darkness will cause them to lose the advantage, lifts his hands to the sky...and do you know what he says?
"On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
"O sun, stand still over Gibeon,
O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon." Joshua 10:12

Can you imagine!?! Have you ever prayed like that- really believing that if God wants to, He would stop the sun for you? Unfortunately, the skeptic that I am, I would have probably laughed at Joshua. Shame on me! Oh, to believe that God would do that for shine His glory in such an incredible way! I have to tell you what happens next:
So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped,
till the nation avenged itself on its enemies,
as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since..." 10:13-14a

I love how matter of fact scripture is. These crazy things are just placed as a brief statement- "oh, by the way...the earth completely stopped it's rotation so there would be an extra day so Joshua could get his job done. No tidal waves happened, no consequences to this insane cosmic event... you can read about it in that other History Book- the Book of Jashar." Oh, how I wish God would have given us more. Even a picture of the men's faces as they stared up. Would we fall down in awe? Crack up in laughter? Tears of joy for the absolute INSANELY AWESOME God we have?

It made me laugh and jump up and down clapping. All week, I have been thinking and thinking that taking God at His word is the only way to truly LIVE. To see these fantastic "under"-statements in MY life. "By the Way, Renee was kind of a loser- but God liked to make her laugh...Renee messed up a lot, and God blessed her mess anyways...Renee started out life wrong, but left an amazing legacy." I want to pray like that- not to be afraid to ask big things of God, so that I can clap for Him, in true admiration. Reading of His fantastic deeds has helped make all the melancholy slip to the background and go fuzzy, and I love it. No horses to ride- so what? Some of my family can't stand me- their loss! Too much laundry and too little time- who cares!?! God is on His throne and so deserves my applause!

Food for thought- sometimes "God requires so much of us at times so that we can experience the unmatched exhilaration of partnering in divine triumph." Beth Moore
The Israelites could have given up at any point- physically they could have quit because they were so tired, emotionally they could have given up because they didn't think it was fair to have to fight for those cheaters, spiritually they could have thrown in the towel because they knew that none of this would have happened if they had just ASKED GOD before they made the pact. And if they had- they would have missed out on being a partner in one of the most epic battles of all time.

Is the tough stuff of "battle" worth it, when you know sometime you will get to look up and see that "the sun stood still"?

(These photos are of the best girl in the world a few years ago...isn't she awesome? So worth fighting for- to leave her a legacy of faith and believing God, that she can remember someday and laugh at how good her God is.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

4th of July Rodeo

I still haven't processed all the feelings this event brought up so I can't type much about it- but I am glad I went. Rodeos were a big thing for us, and since we sold the horses, I can't stand to be around them, or even think about them- thus making rodeos kind of difficult.

So I thought for sure we wouldn't go to the Clark County Rodeo this year, even though we have every other year (minus the time in AZ, but there we just went to the Prescott Rodeo).

Well, God is funny like that- between constant reminders, the offer of free tickets, and my family wanting to go, I knew He was saying "Quit being a chicken, girl." So I went. I don't regret it, but it has brought up such melancholy, it's been a tough week. Here's the play by play- you tell me how to process the whole thing, because I am still not sure.

I rolled up to the rodeo, started walking across the field, surrounded by the Mounted Patrol and trying not to cry- and who should materialize in front of me? A dear sister in Christ, Jody, who I had actually never met face to face, but only blogged with. She has been such an encouragement this last year, cheering me on and praying for me. I recognized her from the pictures on her Facebook, but didn't want to say anything. Have you ever know me to keep my mouth shut? So of course I couldn't NOT say hello- then she gives me a hug. That did me in. The tears wouldn't stop for about 15 minutes, but thankfully she was working and had to run and my family hadn't arrived yet, so I got to weep alone.

Once I got it together, I met up with sweet Kristi and realized it was going to be ok. I truly enjoyed watching all the people compete in events, the fun atmosphere, and the gorgeous horses. At the time, it felt wonderful to be there- where I like it best. Surrounded by horse smells, long manes and tails, and the sounds of my "therapy".

My parents actually agreed to come too, which was so fun to see them laughing at the Mutton Bustin, and my mom worrying about "Aren't their butts sore from sitting on the horses for so long?"

At the end of the evening, Jody was even waiting for me to say goodbye and encourage me to stop hiding from horses, and find a way to fit them into my life.

Now what? I can't pretend that being around them doesn't make me desperately want my own sweet horse again. But I also can't pretend that that part of me that so loves everything equine is going to disappear. I have avoided everything about horses for three months, and in a moment, it's like I never left.

I don't know, but I believe God is good, and He is clear. So I guess I just wait to see what He will do next. :) I am sure if He has to write it in the sky to get my attention, He will.

"Expect great things FROM God, attempt great things FOR God." William Carey

(BTW: The best thing about rodeos...greasy, heart attack food.)

God can do miracles...ask Him to for this family!

Remember to pause the music on the right before starting the video...