Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Covenant- THANK YOU!

What a whirlwind month September has been. I feel like I haven't had a chance to catch my breath in weeks. And yesterday, we got another bombshell dropped. Good times.

I keep waiting for my life to look like a Little House on the Praire episode. You know, crisis that the family pulls together through, and is resolved in 1 hour with commercial breaks. Hmmm. Can't figure out why I never get my wish. :)

In truth, though, life is good and God is better. There is no doubt in my mind that we can handle whatever comes next because He is with us, and has blessed us so greatly with a family that loves each other and sticks together. Steve just keeps reminding me of all the ways God has already show himself wonderful, and it is so good. Right when my OCD/planning machine mind starts to panic- I remember that MY Lord is with me, and won't ever let me go. He has established a new covenant with me- a binding contract that is stronger than anything on earth, because it goes down to the soul. Not a strict legalistic "10 Commandment" kind of life, but a law that He has made for my good and He has so graciously put the desire to obey in my HEART. Oh, how I love that! The freedom I have is because HE is so totally awesome, and even at the worst times, I can trust that. :)I was reminded last week of something I truly cherish- Moses and the Israelites had the parting of the Red Sea, but Jesus said "Come walk on the water with me, baby!"

Here's to believing God to be big!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

For my dear cyclist friends- don't hitch a ride!

A man decided that he was going to ride a 10-speed bike from Phoenix to Flagstaff. He got as far as Black Canyon City before the mountains just became too much and he could go no farther.

He stuck his thumb out, but after 3 hours he hadn't gotten a single person to stop. Finally a guy in a Corvette pulled over and offered him a ride. Of course, the bike wouldn't fit in the car. The owner of the Corvette found a piece of rope lying by the highway and tied it to his bumper. He tied the other end to the bike and told the man that if he got to going too fast to honk the horn on his bike and he would slow down.

Everything went fine for the first 30 miles. Suddenly, another Corvette blew past them. Not to be outdone, the Corvette pulling the bike took off after the other. A short distance down the road, the Corvettes--both going well over 120 mph--blew through a speed trap. The police officer noted the speeds from his radar gun and radioed to the other officer that he had 2 Corvettes headed his way at over 120 mph. He then relayed, "And you're not going to believe this, but there's guy on a 10-speed bike honking to pass".

Friday, September 18, 2009

It sure makes everything else seem small....

I just figured out why I love country music...and don't start laughing. Truly, the lyrics are WISE. Really. Now, not the "She thinks my Tractor's Sexy" or "Friends in Low Places" kind of songs. But there are some, that just make sense.

I have been having my pity party all week: sick body, sick kid, heart broken over dogs and praying for hurting unborn babies...and my husband has been incredible. Marriage is the ultimate test of love and sacrifice. And I think sometimes of faith and hope too. There have been lots of times over the last 15 years when I have felt hopeless in this marriage, but when I am honest- more often I have taken this man God gave me for granted. And I don't want to anymore. I could hear it in his voice last night- his desire to give me everything I want, against his desire to give me what I need. He sees me sad about my pups, and he wants to fix it- even though he already has made up his mind. He was on the verge of saying I could keep Duke, and he was there again today. As much as he doesn't want to, thinks it is too much for us, etc etc- he would rather go back on what he knows than to see me sad. It made me think of another story like that, and so I read Genesis 16 today. I realized where Abram went wrong..."Abram agreed to what Sarai said." Hehehehehe Hear the feminists roar! Now, by definition, I would be called a feminist, but I am also a realist. I know how easily I can manipulate my husband using his basic desire to love and please me. It's sad, but true. How do you think I have gotten so many horses, dogs, debt and treats? :)Last night I realized that I have the greatest husband in the world. He really would walk through hot coals for me. Steve understands me like no one else, and wants me to be happy more than anyone else. And when I think about that, it makes all the other issues in our life pale in comparison. The "mountain" really does turn in to a "grain of sand". That brings us back to why I love country music. Check out these lyrics, I have also kindly posted the song on my playlist so you can listen to them now:
"While you’re sitting around thinking ‘bout what you can’t change
And worrying about all the wrong things
Time’s flying by, moving so fast
You better make it count ‘cause you can’t get it back

Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you’ve been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands

Oh, and when you figure out
Love is all that matters after all
It sure makes everything else
Seem so small!" Carrie Underwood

Now, this doesn't mean I can't use all my manipulative genius to get Steve to bungee jump with me next spring, does it?

God be with you married people tonight- don't take one second for granted. You don't know when it might be your last here.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

This is my honey in all his burly-ness. Gotta love this guy. :)

Incredible testimony...Gotta love the power of God.

So- Randy Alcorn makes my jaw drop. If only I loved and believed God like that. Suffering in America takes on a whole different meaning- and they don't even seem to mind.
Check out this link:


Thursday, September 17, 2009

I still believe...

"Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." Psalm 25:4-5

With illness and sadness that has drained me so fully this week, it is amazing to me that God still has a way up His sleeve to make me smile. I truly haven't been able to find a thing to say this week- good or bad. I know...amazing for motor mouth, Renee. But getting through the "motions" of each day was the best I could do. Then Jo and I came down with these cruddy colds, and I found I couldn't push through anymore. That's when God brought me a smile.

He brought it in the form of a stranger really. You see, we put our dogs up for new homes this week. LONG STORY, and I can't give details just yet without bawling again. So briefly, after 6 months of battles between Steve and I over the pros and cons of having country dogs in a ridiculously small neighborhood with no yard, he finally decided we could not fight about it another day. So this week we gave Samson to a homeschooling family with 5 children and tons of love to share. I knew that it was the right decision, felt that God provided the family, but couldn't control my tears and grief. It seems ridiculous to love your pets so much- but I have literally watched my home, my horses, and now my dogs disappear, and no matter how much I try to keep my focus on the reasons, it still breaks my heart. The only one I get to keep is the rat chihuahua and he is the one I would gladly part with!

But now I want to share with you why I can smile. Check out this excerpt from the email I got this afternoon, as I was wandering around my house feeling sorry for myself and nursing my sick kiddo:
"I wanted to thank you through our Lord Jesus Christ--something I wish I would have known before I had come down--the fact that He is OUR Lord. His ways are not our ways! I had prayed and asked for another dog and to be honest the way He brought Samson was so providential (the strings of His sovereignty). I have a feeling it was more about meeting you, and hopefully someday, your family too. Someday I will go through the story with you Renee--truly God is good--and to see His hands work in even the seemingly small things as a dog is amazing and so full of grace and mercy. May we give Him the glory and praise he is due--if that is possible this side of heaven? May His great name be magnified in my heart, may our love for Him grow and bubble forth in great praise.
This is just a quick email though--I will email pictures soon too. I look forward to many more conversations or emails with you Renee."

Wow! Who talks like that? Not a faker Christian, I can assure you! Oh, I truly jumped for joy when I read that, and haven't stopped grinning. I don't know how she figured out we shared the same Lord, but I am so glad to have found another sister in Christ, and know I can rest assured that she was honest with me about her intentions for Samson, and she will love him and care for him not because she is a PETA lover but because she is a JESUS lover. It gave us all such peace, we have read the email over again and again, relishing the fact that God used the situation to bless both families, them with a wonderful, SWEET dog, and us with the knowledge that even in the tough stuff- God is on His throne and in control. Oh, thank you, Father for that!

Maybe I will actually be able to make it through tomorrow without tears if I can remember my new friend's truthful words: :"Truly God is good-to see His hands work...is AMAZING... May His great name be magnified in my heart, may our love for Him grow and bubble forth in great praise."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If only we alway saw things the way He does.

Quite a week. After a whirlwind first day of school, Esther Short Park show, football game Friday night, and working yesterday- I want to just curl up on my sofa for at least a week in jammies and with a good book. I haven't felt this "bone tired", as Laura Ingalls would say, in a long time. I suppose it didn't help to stay up until 2 am last night with Arnold Schwarzenegger and my dear friend Nicole. :) But it was so worth it!

Thinking about all that transpired this week, and the way my kids are adjusting to new schools and new people, I thought about how courageous they are and how much I desperately want them to live totally in love with God. I don't want any of us to be content with being a church going Christian, I want us to laugh, love and learn more about our Jesus every day. How to teach that, I have no idea. But I can pray that God finds a way.

I read Luke 7 and it hit me how much more I could do if I was just brave enough. This woman had SUCH a heart for Jesus.
"Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them." Luke 36- 38
This woman knew she was trash. All the biblical scholars agree that she was most likely a prostitute and had no business coming to dinner at a Pharisee's house (that would be like a hooker showing up uninvited to a wealthy, well known Pastor's dinner party.) She knew that she had no right to want Jesus so much, no good deeds to offer Him, not even one example of charity or religious purity to show Him. Yet she truly couldn't keep herself away. She couldn't know that He was within walking distance of her brothel and NOT run to Him. She brought the only gift she could, but most importantly, she brought the offering of a repentant heart and a love for Him that wouldn't be scared away.

What do you think that Pharisee was thinking? Self righteous garbage is what the Scripture says. And Jesus had an amazing response. Listen:

"Jesus answered him, "Simon, I have something to tell you." "Tell me, teacher," he said.
"Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii,and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?"
Simon replied, "I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled."
"You have judged correctly," Jesus said. Luke 7:40-43

Jesus then goes on to compare the welcome He got from the "sinful woman" and the Pharisee. She gave Him the welcome and service of a King, where the best commentaries say Simon the Pharisee had invited Jesus there only to trap Him and catch Him saying something wrong. He didn't offer any of the customary welcomes for guests, which were common at the time- no washing of Jesus's feet, no welcome kiss, no oil for his head. Yet she gave them all, in such a beautiful way.

It took guts for that woman to go in front of the "cool crowd", to see all the wealth and outward "goodness" they had, and put herself out there. But she did it because she kept her eyes on Jesus. She focused on the only one who's opinion she cared about, and ran into the arms that she KNEW would never turn her away. She BELIEVED that God's grace would be enough, in spite of all her inadequacies.

Oh, how do I show my kiddos that? How do I encourage Jazz to be confident in spite of the "mean girls"? To show them kindness and love even when they spit in her face? How do I explain to Jordan how important it is to stand up for what is right? To have courage when everyone else gives in? To teach them NEVER to become a "Pharisee", to know and experience how wonderful it is to be totally forgiven and free...at the feet of Jesus.

Do an amazing work in all our hearts today, Father. Help us to be honest and faithful to You, and to keep our eyes on Jesus- the author and perfecter of our faith.

"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much...
Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Luke 7:47,50

Friday, September 11, 2009

Honor them...

"The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith." Matthew 8:8-10

Oh, Lord- help our Michael to have that centurion's faith. Help him to see you in all the levels of leadership he is learning about now, and draw him into your arms like never before.

We have been praying for our dear friend's son every day for the last few weeks- as he has started basic training in the Army. I think about him often, all the memories we have of him being a twerpy 8 year old, then a rebellious teenager- and now a grown man who wants to be a part of what makes America great. He still seems so young, it was only two months ago that he stormed into our house gripping about how "unfair" his parents were. All the concerns of his 18 year old heart seemed so normal, and now he is living "Hell Week"- what the Army calls the first 3 weeks of boot camp.

Today I am thinking about him even more because of the date. 9/11 will always have memories for us...what American doesn't see this date and think..."I was right ______ when it happened." I am thinking about his last letter to his mother, that said how much he wanted to do his part, and he wanted to serve and fight for freedom for all people. But that he "didn't want to die". 80% of his platoon will be shipped out come graduation. I pictured Mike, wearing his uniform, participating in whatever remembrance service they will have today, and I thank God again for our great country. That we have boys who grow up to be brave men. That I can sit in my comfy house, fight with my husband over stupid things, and even blog about anything I want without someone coming into my home and taking away everything I hold dear- my family. Having watched my dad go to every war that has happened since I was born, and come back from Iraq at the very beginning of this war, I got to hear and see pictures of what the people really feel over there. How happy the women are that they can have a little stand to sell their goods, that girls can go to school and boys can choose what they want to do with their lives. I know there is still a horribly long road ahead, and more of those sweet faced kids are going to be put in harm's way. Sometimes I wonder why, and think "God, there has to be a better way." But then I remember:
"The LORD reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. " Psalm 9:7-10
There is nothing better than trusting in the sovereignty of God. Because He is "sovereign", He has "supreme rank, power and authority" (dictionary definitions are awesome!) and I can trust that He is orchestrating and maneuvering the nations of this world to bring more people to Him and to show His glorious nature.
So, I know our Mike is completely safe in the hands of One who can lead him. I know that the lost lives of 9/11 were not meaningless and God had a plan and a purpose to work even through that tragedy. And I know that in the worst war torn countries of this world, God is not absent. He is cherishing and holding the little ones, and making Himself visible to anyone who has the eyes to see. Thank you, Father- for that promise. Help me to remember to show the leaders of our country and the men and women who sacrifice so much the honor and respect they deserve.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We made it through the first day.

So, day 1 is down of the first day of the 2009-2010 school year. How did it go? I would say pretty good. I don't think it will ever be a relief to me that the kids are in school and I have "the day to myself". When they use to go to school, I pretty much counted the minutes as I did yesterday, or helped in their classrooms 3 times a week. But I was so proud of both of them. They have a confidence and understanding that I didn't have at their ages, and it was so cool to see them just walk in and start a new phase of their life with such courage. I love that.
Jordan came in the door yesterday afternoon with such a grin, I knew that he had a pretty good day. He said that it was pretty much like Riverlink (the school that offered a few classes they took last year for homeschoolers) but way longer. We laughed at some of his teachers, prayed and thanked God for being so awesome, and ate snacks and watched movies. I don't know why I feel differently when he comes home from school than when he is just at a friend's, but it was wonderful to just look at him. I am sure that part will get better...or else he is going to really be freaked out. :)
Jasmine seemed to have a good day too. When she walked in the door, she truly looked just exhausted. Having volleyball practice makes for a REALLY long day, and as much as she loves a good party, she is my homebody girl. I think we will both miss the days of doing school in jammies a lot. But she said she had no trouble finding classes, and felt pretty comfortable. She wants to be in Art rather than Choir, so I am really hoping I can negotiate that today. We will see.
God took care of us all yesterday, as He always does. I woke up yesterday with such a peace, it didn't make sense. I think having so many "before school starts" activities like band camp, volleyball, open houses, etc really helped me get over the first day hump early, and spending a couple of hours yesterday morning with other moms praying for all the school kids in Vancouver really helped get my focus back where it should be. I love you, Lord- you are far too gracious for my peanut brain to understand. :)

This is a photo of what discipline in our house looks like. A little intimidation always goes a long way. Bahahahahahaha!

No, really. Jordan was kind of mouthing off last week, and the next thing I know, I turn around and Steve has jumped up on the bar and staring menacingly at Jordan. Needless to say, the effect was hilarious and we all started busting up. Steve looked like he was going to jump onto Jordan, so Jo spent the next couple minutes running around the island trying to avoid Steve. Just an average day in our house. Now you know why we will miss our kids during the days so much. Who will we harass?

Monday, September 7, 2009

A little Labor Day Trivia for you.

(Nothing like a little child labor. Hehehehe)

"Eight Hours of Work! Eight Hours of Rest! Eight Hours of Recreation!" What a motto. Thanks to Peter McGuire, an Irish immigrant who had the wherewithal to say long hours and low pay really weren't the best way to help Americans prosper- we got a national holiday every first Monday of September. He helped organize workers amongst their trades, and on September 5, 1882 they held the very first Labor Day Parade in New York City, with picnics, games and lots of Irish Stew and apple pie! Unfortunately it took another 12 years before the day actually became a national holiday. Thanks to President Clevland and his desire to be re-elected- Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894. (And he was NOT re-elected.)

Back then, laborers looked to Labor Day each year as "the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it." (Samuel Gompers 1898) Now that unions have stuck around, laws passed regarding work hours, lunch breaks, and paid vacations- Labor Day doesn't hold as much political meaning. For most people, Labor Day means the last hurrah before summer ends,and a chance to play and bbq with friends and family. And that is pretty nice too.

This year, Labor Day means more to me than ever. Wednesday my children go back to the educational institutions of America, and I get to watch them grow and change and learn alongside the future leaders of this country. I know, a tad dramatic, but I can't help it. I know in my heart this is the time- and the place- for a change, and I truly believe God is going to do awesome things for and through both of them. But my head feels like "goodbye". Instead of Labor Day just being another fun day to play like it has for the last 5 years- it really does have a finality to it. It really feels not only like "Goodbye Summer", but it also feels like "Goodbye Childhood". Adolescence here we come.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The End of Summer is here.

The dark skies and rain today is so fitting. School starts on Wednesday, Fall starts in two weeks, and the sweetness of entire weeks of sunshine and fun with my kids all day long is over. It actually feels good to thank God for the dreariness of today-because it reminds me that "the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

The Felida Youth had an awesome End of Year River Day. I think everyone had a blast riding the SeaDoo, swimming in the pool, relaxing in the hot tub, and basking on such a beautiful piece of property it was almost surreal. The weather was perfect, and God was present. It was great to see the fun and spend one last lazy summer day with all of them. Note to self though- always bring a swimsuit, or YOU WILL be thrown in.

That was Wednesday, and I was thinking last night how much I take God's goodness and sovereignty for granted. Friday was such a bummer day, the stress of life plus having a patient I was working on code and bleed out minutes after he was talking to me was heartbreaking. And as I processed everything, I realized how ungrateful I am. As Job said, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" Job 2:10 Why do I so easily forget- one day I am running around the football field wanting to shout praises to God, and the next week I am asking God "Why?" when He allows troubles. I think a big part of it is I know a lot of my junk I deserve, because of the consequence of my own sin. So it is hard to believe that God is in control even of that. Ridiculous, I know. Yes, sometimes I get whooped for my stupid mistakes, but ultimately, because of Jesus- my wonderful, glorious Jesus, I am forgiven and FREE. Nothing can and should take away the complete joy and peace that comes with knowing my future is secure.
"Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Romans 4:7-8

If nothing else, watching that man die suddenly yesterday reminded me of how incredibly fragile this life is... and how short. I need to stop wasting time with regret and worry, and start living like this minute were my last. To be hideously specific- if I had an aortic aneurysm that I knew was going to blow out in the next 5 minutes, would I really be worrying about the bills getting paid, car troubles, what classes my kids are going to be in, who their friends are, how much weight I need to lose...ecetera, ecetera? Or would I be holding every person I see tight, telling them how MUCH Jesus loves them and died for them- and PLEASE accept Him, so they can meet me on the other side? Because as I watched that man be coded, and cried over the loss his family would feel- that was the only thing I could think of.

"But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him." 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10

Friday, September 4, 2009

Felida Fins with some more synchronized swimming- Zirkle style!

Don't forget to pause the music on the right before playing!