Saturday, July 31, 2010

Laus Deo...Such special words!

Do you know what it means? I didn't, and am so glad I do now! Here's a bit of history that brought a smile to my face...God's cleverness never ceases to amaze me. He will be glorified and praised.

The Washington Monument is the highest building in the most powerful city in the greatest nation on earth. At the very top of the metal cap of this building are the inscripted words "Laus Deo". No one can see these words, and I doubt many of us learned that they were even there when we studied government in 8th grade. The words "face skyward, towards the Father of our Nation" mean "Praise Be to God!"

Here are some other interesting facts:
"Within the monument itself are 898 steps and 50 landings.. As one climbs the steps and pauses at the landings the memorial stones share a message.
      • On the 12th Landing is a prayer offered by the City of Baltimore ;
      • On the 20th is a memorial presented by some Chinese Christians;
      • On the 24th a presentation made by Sunday School children from New York and Philadelphia quoting Proverbs 10:7 , Luke 18:16 and Proverbs 22:6

When the cornerstone of the Washington Monument was laid on July 4th, 1848 deposited within it were many items including the Holy Bible presented by the Bible Society.
Praise be to God!"

I love this country. No matter how "evolved" we think we can be, how hard we try to pretend He isn't a part of our ways, God will be heard!

"Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain. " Psalm 127:1

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leah, Leah, Leah...Did you ever know?

Madness, I tell you! Complete madness! The last couple of weeks have been busy and exhausting, but how can anyone complain when it is SUMMERTIME! I have been delighting in my kids, gardening like Doug Green, kissing my husband and relishing in the warmth of sunny days. Not all have been as warm as I would like...but let's not go there.

Last week was Vacation Bible School at church and it was a great success! I don't know what was better, seeing those sweet smiling faces of Kindergartners to Fifth Graders, or watching our teens work their butts off...with SMILES on their faces. It just floored me to see how much they can do when you give them a chance. God is so good.

I was thinking about Leah the other day. Do you remember that chick? Her story starts in Genesis chapter 29, and OH! What a read it is! She was the unloved wife of Jacob, the ugly older sister who never gets picked first. The Bible goes so far as to say "Jacob lay with Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah." Genesis 29:30 Nice, right? Not only do you have to share your husband with your hottie baby sister, but you have to know every stinking day that he loves her WAY more than he loves you. Ugh. So sad. Leah lives her whole life like this, desperate for Jacob's love. And never getting it. But what had me thinking about Leah was not how sad her life was, but how faithful God was to her in spite of it. He gave her tons of babies to put a smile on her face, he gave her wealth, safety and health. I think my favorite part of her story is the naming of her first sons...check it out:
"When the LORD saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, "It is because the LORD has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now."

She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Because the LORD heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too." So she named him Simeon.
Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons." So he was named Levi. She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, "This time I will praise the LORD." So she named him Judah." Genesis 29:31-35
Can you imagine? The heartbreak of living for the love of a man you will never truly have, and then finally realizing that all true love and joy and hope only comes from one place- Our Glorious Father in Heaven. Crazy. Leah gets it for a minute, but later in her story she basically buys a one night stand with her husband off her sister...yeah, weird I know. Still chasing the dream of being first in Jacob's heart. He must have been quite the hunk. I digress.
It makes me wonder if Leah ever fully lived in the knowledge of how greatly she WAS loved? Maybe not by Jacob, but most certainly by God. She was blessed beyond most women, she was the grandmother generations removed from the next King, and she was a direct relative of JESUS CHRIST. Jacob might never have chosen her, but God did. He chose Leah to be the wife that would fulfill His promise to Jacob and to all of Israel.
Wow. It stuns me how when we get outside our immediate view, our limited, small and totally self-centered view, and take a minute to look at the bigger picture- we might just see the wonderful way that God has chosen us too. That we, His children, will leave a legacy as remarkable as Leah, once we can see it from His perspective.
Ok, I lied. I have another favorite part in Leah's story. Rachel dies first out in the boonies and is buried somewhere, and then Leah dies and is buried in a cave with her in laws (Read the story I am not doing it justice). And when Jacob finally kicks the bucket, he instructs his sons to bury him in the same cave...that Leah is in! "There Abraham and his wife Sarah were buried, there Isaac and his wife Rebekah were buried, and there I (Jacob) buried Leah."Genesis 49:31
Interesting, huh? Jacob never picked Leah first, but God still allowed her the honored place even in death, of first wife. Crazy, crazy. God, how sovereign and amazing You are. My peanut brain can not grasp all the implications of even the littlest details of Your epic story. Thank you for protecting and providing for us, even when we don't put you first. Help us all to catch on faster than Leah did, Lord- that Your love is the only one that should completely and entirely capture our hearts. May we have no other gods before you- not romantic love, not physical comfort, not wealth, not respect, not anything or anyone.
Happy, Happy Summer, friends!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Desperate for relief...

Summer has finally arrived and I am LOVING being warm! The flowers are blooming, the skies are blue, and the days are long. nice to know that when the gray clouds and rain wears long, summer is always just around the corner.

As I enjoy the beauty of God's creation and relish His goodness to me, I keep thinking about why there are times we choose NOT to worship Him above all things. When we choose other "gods" so to speak- finding comfort and happiness in friends, boyfriends, husbands, children, food, recreational activities, whatever. We know that we are choosing a quick, momentary relief or joy- yet we do it anyways. Why?

Still hanging out in the Old Testament, I was thinking about the Israelites when they first leave Egypt. They were so overjoyed to be free- away from slavery and the misery their earthly masters tormented them with. Yet God brought them out of Egypt into the... Desert. Nothing but arid, dry dust. Their joy at freedom lasted about a chapter before they started to whine about their sufferings again. I so get that. Unfortunately. God blesses my socks off, and then I ask for more. Bah.

Anyways...if you remember the story (and if you don't go check it out in Exodus...SO GOOD.), you know that because of the Israelites stinky attitude, God made them wander 40 years in the desert, never allowing the adults who left Egypt as slaves to see the Promised Land but instead giving the Land to their children once all the whiners had kicked the bucket. But I wonder...what would their lives have been like had they trusted God? Instead of living the rest of their lives free but frying hot wandering the desert, they might have been able to live out the Promise- fertile land, overlooking fields abundant with food, grandbabies on their knees and joyfully worshiping their Awesome Savior. How wonderfully different would their lives have been had they chosen to believe God at His Word and see His mercy in the midst of the desert?

Psalm 106 recaps it so much better than I can. Here's a little taste- but I pray that you turn to it today and read the Psalm in it's entirety. What a story...
"Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel. In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test." Psalm 106:12-14

Did you catch it? As subtle as I am- I bolded it for you. :) They "forgot" all the Lord had done, and they "did not wait" for God's plan but instead gave into their cravings. I realized that more often than not when I am most susceptible to following after "false idols" is when I am struggling in the desert, not when I am on the mountain highs of my life. When I am most desperate for comfort, relief, and relaxation, when I crave instant gratification- that's when I give into the world's definition of "good" and "happiness". I eat the whole chocolate cake, I wallow in shallow romance, I put more stock in my pride and my ability than I do in the beautiful "Promised Land" of God's provision and grace. Oh, how He loves me anyways...and I hate it when I trade that glorious love for something that is immediate but finite.

I hope today you talk with the Infinite, Wonderous God of All, and let Him provide you with the true "relief" you are desperately needing. The relief that can never be taken away and will never run out. Don't look at your desert right now, sister. Look at the Promised Land that is just over the hill...and trust Jesus to get you there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Loon Lake 2010

I thought I would put up some photos of our camping trip for your enjoyment. We went with some great friends to Loon Lake, just outside of Reedsport, OR and it was such a blast! We haven't camped since Arizona and this trip reminded me how much fun we were missing!

Loon Lake has cabins, tent sites or a lodge to stay at. Lots of water sports to do, activities at the federal park area, and snack, bathroom and laundry facilities. We mostly fished, barbecued and relaxed, but it is nice to know there are amenities for other fun activities too.

Ned and Nicole were kind enough to let us crash their annual camping/fishing trip, and I still can't figure out who had the most fun- Steve with all his fishing time, me with down time and water fun, or Jasmine and all the great laughter she shared with her "BFF".

My favorite part was the paddle boats of course. (I am totally renting the jet skis next year! Vroom Vroom!) The girls were all being goofy about jumping in the water. The youngest, Sara, was scared, but the big girls were freaking out about "touching fish" or something too. Which seemed insane to me. If you are near gorgeous water...shouldn't you be in it?

I couldn't stand to waste perfectly good water or listen to them freak out any I had to take matters into my own hands.

I do regret abandoning Nicole in the "ship", but the temptation over came me. :) Plus I had to show these girls how lakes should be enjoyed!

I suppose next year I will remember to pack a bathing suit! Now you can see the girls got the idea- and loved splashing around.

Steve got to do one of his favorite past times. Pretty much not stop for 3 days. He cracked me up. He just couldn't put the pole down for more than an hour.

One of Ned's friends took Steve out on the boat one morning and he caught a great bass. I wish I had room to show you how we got that bass out of the live well...but that will have to be saved for the scapbook. should have seen us! Hehehehe Good memories.
All in all, it was a fantastic way to end the school year and we must have behaved ourselves at least a little, because we did get an invitation to come back next year. Can't wait!
(Unless they were just saying that and are planning to camp somewhere else next year just to avoid us. In which case I would have to track them down and put frogs in the bottom of their sleeping bags. Let's hope for their sakes they were sincere. :P)
Jordan is glaringly missing, but he had a wonderful time in Sun River that week with a friend. I missed him like crazy, but was so thankful that God took care of my sweet boy and gave him a great time. Hurray for summer!

Monday, July 5, 2010

So thankful to be an American...

Growing, busy and loving it. I have to say that I am so thankful June is over...

and my July is looking much better... :)

I absolutely love being an American- with all my freedoms and privileges. That I can choose to burn hundreds of dollars of fireworks in my driveway, choose where I want to work, vacation, play, whatever. That I can feel safe anywhere I go in the United States- we are spoiled rotten...and so blessed to be born and raised in this great Country.
(You know it was a bad one if STEVE has to cover his ears!)

My friend pointed out to me the other day that my schedule is a little crazy. And the more I think about it, the more I would have to agree with her. I have really been struggling with some anxiety, and God has been so good- He just keeps reminding me to put all my faith and trust in Him. It's just too bad that I need the reminder about every 10 minutes.

As I try to keep my focus, I am realizing the busy-ness of my life is part of the problem. How to fix that I haven't quite figured out, but admitting the problem is half the battle, right? ;) Having teenagers doesn't help. It is amazing to me that I can take all the insanity of other teenagers in stride, praying faithfully for them, loving them and encouraging them- but my two kiddos throw me into a complete panic. I am sure the fact that they are MY "babies" is the biggest reason, but I also know that my "do it yourself" attitude doesn't help. Elbow grease and will power doesn't fix attitudes of the heart unfortunately-that is the work of God. :)

As I worry and stress, not knowing the future or how I can really help my kids walk better- God keeps bringing me back to Romans 8. It's not a matter of what I can do, it's a matter of what the Holy Spirit can do in their hearts and their lives. That needs to be my prayer- that they would be filled with the Holy Spirit and live "according to His Word". Oh, what a comfort that is to my mama heart. That I can't screw it up, and that I can't really make it happen either. It is God's Work, and He knows my heart and hears my prayers. And when I don't have the words...the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit in me does. Amazing Grace...

" ...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." Romans 8: 26b-27

Thank you, Father, for giving us your spirit. And thank you when my worries try to overwhelm me- You are there. Your Spirit is praying for me, for my children, and I can trust in your unfailing love and mercy.

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. " Psalm 119:9-11