Sunday, September 26, 2010 that it?

All I can say is....YESSSSS!! To tired to be creative, but just wanted to share some pictures of what we have been doing this weekend. God is so good...truly- He gives and takes away, blessed be His name! Nearly two years later, after giving up horses for city life and meeting the needs of the men in our lives- God has given us the opportunity to refresh our souls again! If you don't love animals, I can't really explain the joy I feel to you. But that is the only word for it. JOY. This week was full of crud, but knowing the weekend was coming and I was going to have my hands on a horse made it all bearable!

"For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O LORD..." Psalm 92:4-5

Jasmine "boosted" all the pics to make them look cool, which I love. It will make the memory of this beautiful Saturday even better. This is her horse, Freckles. None of the shots of my guy came out very well as he was a bit antsy, but I will keep trying.

Could God have given us better weather? Oh, He is gracious!

Jasmine had this sour ol' school horse in her back pocket within 48 hours. She is amazing!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Seriously, people?

All I can say is WOW. Seriously? I was walking through Target today on a mission...but then my mission got diverted in the "book department". Oops. Nothing I had to have, but I did stop to read a bit of the new book by Rhonda Byrne called "The Power". This is the follow up to her other lame book called, "The Secret". (I call it The Secret Load of C#*$, but that's just me. :)

I have a feeling that like her other book this one is going to be read nationwide so I thought you might actually like to read a biblical minded reviewer's thoughts. Here's the link:

This really frustrated me today because I know this idea is rampant in our society and it is so sad. The premise of The Secret was basically that you could affect/cause the things you want to happen through positive thoughts. The author calls it the "law of attraction". How she has the right to make up laws of the natural world is beyond me- considering she doesn't have a PHD behind her name or any experience AT ALL in physics, chemistry or biology. But hey- that's just me. The Power is what drives "the Secret"- the force behind getting everything you want. And she defines that as LOVE.
Here's a quote from her book:
"If you believe that your body will deteriorate with age and that disease is inevitable, you are giving out that belief, and the law of attraction must return it to you clothed as the circumstances and state of your body and health.” WOW! Now we know the true secret to living forever! I am not making this up. This is what our buddies Oprah and Ellen are toting as a must have!

So if I want to fix the starter on my truck, I just need to LOVE that starter until it starts working again? reality though, here is a clip from Tim Challis article that shows the devastating world view this kind of thinking can develop:
"What happens when bad things come? We have nowhere to go but introspection; no one to blame but ourselves... I read recently of the systemic rape in an African nation—thousands of women raped, many of them repeatedly, as soldiers march through their land, are chased out, and return again. It’s horrifying and nauseating. And the law of attraction can explain it only by saying that these women brought about their own rape by thinking negative thoughts. They were afraid of rape and therefore they were raped. When the armies of drugged-out, terrorized young boys came marching through their land, these women felt fear and negativity and brought rape upon themselves. Do you really want to believe this? Unbelievably, Byrne even quotes the book of Job as she goes. Job! Didn’t she read to the end? How on earth could an honest reading of Job do anything but convince people of the folly of her brand of reasoning."

So if you are single, it's your fault. If you are poor, it's your fault. If you got cancer, it's your fault. If your daughter died last night in a car crash, it's your fault. If ONLY you had thought 51% more positively, none of that would have happen. ARGH! How dare someone write this, and how dare someone else PUBLISH IT!

Ok, I am done- I'll behave. Needless to say, I didn't plunk down my 20 dollars for this waste of paper. But I did fume over it for a bit and then went back to my Bible to remind myself of the truth. Sorry the sarcasm is coming out in my post...I am still working on it. ;) But I pray that you take the time to read the complete review and educate yourself on what your friends and neighbors might be reading. If the topic comes up, it's nice to know some reasons why you DON'T want to borrow it. And maybe a few responses of why they should borrow your Bible! Ok- for real this time, done being a brat... Stay away from Target...especially the book department.... :)

"The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. " 1 Corinthians 1: 18-20

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"It's easy to forget what cold feels like when you're warm."

What a birthday for my girl! She isn't officially 14 until Tuesday, but her party was so much fun this weekend. I loved that the girls she chose to invite were all her TAG buddies, sisters in Christ who love her. It was such a wonderful thing to sit and listen to all these little women talk and laugh- and just be REAL with one another. Middle School is a time of awkwardness and need for approval and each of these ladies probably struggle with self esteem and confidence while they are at school. But Friday night they were safe. Each girl was able to be as silly or as serious as she wanted and it was ok. I just loved that. I loved that they all have different circles of friends at school, but one God that connects them. I love that out of all the "friends" Jasmine has, THESE were the ones she chose to spend her special day with...because she knows they love her no matter what.

As much as I loved it, I noticed the risk of "being comfortable". As I watched them hang together, I thought of all the middle schoolers who don't have that. The kids who walk through the stress of school life everyday, come home to more turmoil, and never have that feeling of love and acceptance that God's family brings. Who never KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt, that SOMEBODY loves them. It breaks my heart. That don't have a girl's night like I was watching. I wish I could walk over to her middle school and hug each one of them and tell them how much Jesus loves them. Tell them that there is one place that they can always be safe from ridicule and the arms of the God who made them.

We listened to a sermon this last week that came to mind after seeing these sweet girls- about the importance of committing to God's calling- to worship and to share God's message. It's based on Colossians 4, kind of weird since this is just a bunch of goodbyes to Paul's friends. But the principle was soooo right on. That we need to aggressively worship our God, aggressively minister to those who need- rather than hanging just with my mature, comfortable fellow believers all the time. The pastor just smokes the idea of the "holy huddle". Not that it isn't important to spend time, like Jasmine and her friends, refreshing our spirits with our brother and sisters in Christ. But in Colossians 4, God makes it very clear that we aren't to just run with "good people". Hanging with the "cool kids", who look good on the outside. God wants us with "FEROCIOUS believers". Check it out. These guys Paul was writing to were ANIMALS- madly in love with God and madly attacking the streets with the love of Jesus Christ. One of the questions the pastor asks is "Are you running in a Moron Herd?" Sounds ridiculous- but it is so true. He states that it seems that mature, grown Christians tend to hang with the same, and immature, foolish Christians tend to flock together. So you have a group that is wise and has knowledge of God's Word, but not sharing it, and vice versa. Something to think about, and something I see as true in so many ways. We want to hang with people like us...yet we need to "mix it up" if we are to be effective. Matt Chandler from The Village Church says it so much better. Here is the link to the message- oh, how I pray you have the chance to listen. I won't ever read Colossians 4 the same again.

If I am honest, I choose to spend time with my friends that are "easy", rather than the ones who are more stressed, struggling, or more needy. How shameful. That's not my purpose here. That quote above really hits it home- "It's easy to forget what cold feels like when you are warm." The farther I get from my first taste of God's warmth, the easier it is to forget how badly I needed it. I forget how much the people around me need the warmth of Jesus and His people. And I don't want to forget anymore.

Lord, help me to not grow weary and to be more intentional in my worship of You. Let me worship You by sharing my life, my blessings and my heart with those who need You most.

"...pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ...Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:3-6

(On a lighter note- just wanted you to see what I get to see all the time! My girl is so fun- laughing is our best medicine! :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"So long, farewell...goodnight...I hate to leave this pretty night..."

It seems so fitting that it would pour buckets on the last day of summer vacation. I am not complaining- it was nice not to have to water the flowers. I am just NOTING that the weather seems fitting for my mood.

Tomorrow my beloveds are off to school again. Second year of traditional school, second year I am not a homeschooling mom. I hate it. They love it. What a place to be.

As much as I hate missing them, I see the "rightness" of them being in school at this time. And I am determined today to remember that. As I looked out at the dreary gray skies and the rain, I thanked God for His provision over the years. How blessed I am.

So as I go into this next season with a smile and a prayer for discernment, I leave you pictures of what I get to see for a little while longer. And THAT is reason enough to celebrate. Soon there will be pumpkins and scarecrows on the porch, apple cider brewing on the stove and blankets to crochet. But for now, there are still weeds to pull, shrubs to prune, flowers to talk to and warmth to enjoy. God bless you, friend.

"...He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17
Thank you for reminding me to be thankful, Lord.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Lakeview 2010- Day 5

Our final day in Lakeview! So sad, no matter how excited we were to get to San Francisco. I don't think there was a single one of us that really wanted to leave. VBS was wonderful, and meeting the kids parents and families at the hot dog lunch was really special. If we are blessed to go again next year, a lot of these kids will have grown so much we won't recognize them! Father, grow them like crazy and keep them close to You all the days of their lives. Our Bible Point the last day was "God's Word is for EVERYONE" and that couldn't be more true. Psalm 119:90 says "Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth You created." As we helped the children memorize that verse, I am praying that our teens hid it in their hearts as well. May their lives always reflect the faithfulness of God.

We survived! We conquered! And we were rewarded! San Francisco, here we come!

Such a beautiful drive through the Vineyards in Napa Valley. It truly was breathtaking. We were able to visit with a dear family in Christ who let all 17 of us stay at their house. We played some more mafia, laughed until our sides hurt, and got to spend a day traipsing around San Fran, eating food, seeing sites, and even took a boat ride and tour of Alcatraz. We did lose one kid, but we got her back, so it's all good! (It truly was one of the most terrifying moments of my life- long story- but God was good and protected her, and someday I will be able to forgive myself and look her mother in the eye again. Thank God it was only for a few minutes, or else I might have gone ahead of you to live with Jesus- death by panic attack!)

Never making a mistake would be so nice, but not even close to realistic. The best thing about this trip was being able to be real with one another. Nerves got frayed, frustrations flared, but not once did we forget to be gracious to one another. Not once did we take for granted the opportunity to love someone else. It was awesome. Too often I think that living like the Heroes of Faith- Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Rahab, Mary, even Paul- is totally unattainable. That somehow, they had the hookup and could do it "right" because God gave them an extra dose of "spirituality". Or maybe they just were less of a sinner than I am. But God reminded me that "special super powers" wasn't the key. We all want to come to God perfect- all fixed up and never sinning, so that He will hear and answer our prayers. But at the end of James 5 we are told to pray with passion- and BELIEF, just the way we are. To confess our junk and believe that God would do great things, and expect it because it is all for His glory. I know that with my head, but when it comes to praying that way sometimes I chicken out. If I am honest, I know I don't really think God will answer my prayers because I am too "bad".
Here is the awesome thing that James 5 told us: "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops." James 5:17-18
Read that again! Elijah, prophet of God and the BOMB DIGGITY as far as Heroes of Faith- and God calls him "a man just like us"! I so pray that gives you hope tonight! No matter what, God loves you and wants to answer your prayers! It might not look the way you expect it too, but I can guarantee you, His gifts are not ever going to be something you want to return! A long week of sleeping on a couch surrounded by teenagers, a strange small town in the middle of nowhere, Cup of Noodle lunches and sleep deprivation sounds like a bummer. But when I think of all God did in Lakeview in our hearts and through our labors- I KNOW He was answering prayers and blessing me like crazy. I so hope you let Him do that for you too. I love you. God bless you!

Lakeview 2010- Day 4

"God's Word is life-changing!" This day of VBS we have the honor of sharing the gospel. Robin taught the lesson and I was so blessed to help her. The story was of the cripple that is healed in Acts 3:1-4:12. Such a beautiful statement of every Christian- if we remember it. "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you..." That's all God asks of us. That we share our stories. We share our lives and His love with everyone around us. What a privilege.

During the lesson this day we got to have the kids take the gauze bandages we had put on them, the wounds that represent the sin, or "bad things" we had done, and place those bandages over the cross. As they took off their "sin" and laid it on the cross representing Jesus's death for us- they said the words "Jesus, change my life." Nothing magical about the words. Nothing powerful about the piece of wood we held up. But, the presence of the Holy Spirit was so there! It was wonderful to see. Sure, there were kids who were goofy, or thought the exercise was goofy. But there were also kids, and adult helpers, that meant what they said. And it brought tears of joy to my eyes. Robin did a fantastic job of guiding the lesson, and letting God do the work in our hearts.
How happy it is to be forgiven and free, yes?

This day was also one of quotes for me. Let me share two of them. One was so cool, and the other just funny. The cool one was a little girl, remember the first grader I told you about the first day who said I almost made her pee thanks to my amazing acting skills? I didn't tell you the best part! She had truly been scared Roman soldiers were coming to get us, but then by Thursday she pulled me aside and said, "You scared me so much- I almost peed my pants! BUT...(she even paused for emphasis) God's Word is comforting! Let's Go!" What a comfort He is! Not only did he answer my prayer that the little children wouldn't be permanently damaged from my lesson, but He was obviously using each day's bible point to teach these little hearts! Wow!

And the funny one came from our 6'3" high schooler who was lounging around, as usual, and put into words how we were all feeling- exhausted. Everyone wanted him to play some more Righteous Ball, and as he yawned and rolled around on someone's sleeping bag, he answered : "I'm busy getting tall." Enough said. What a week we had! By Thursday we all were more than ready for "quiet time" after lunch!

Lakeview 2010- Day 3

Bad blogger. Bad blogger. Every morning I say I will sit down and finish up the Lakeview posts, and every day something else catches my attention. So tonight- nothing will deter me! :)

This day of Lakeview was by far the most amazing, the most funny, and my most memorable. But it had nothing whatsoever to do with VBS! Is that terrible? Don't get me wrong VBS was wonderful and a great time. The kids really start getting comfortable with all the "strangers" by the middle of the week, and we have worked out most of the kinks. The theme was "God's Word is surprising" and our verse came from Psalm 119 again- "Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions." Psalm 119:18 Great times watching kids panic as Drew pretended a snake was gnawing his arm off as he acted out Paul's role in Acts 28:1-10. Loved having quiet time when Emily actually FELL ASLEEP.

But by far, the highlight of my week came after dark. Felida's No Talent Talent Show. Oh, have I ever laughed so hard? I can't even begin to tell you the fun we had. The theme is...well, what can we plan in 2 hours that will be hilarious and show absolutely no talent? Such fun! The girls ended up doing a skit of "Top 10 Reasons Mustaches are NOT COOL." and a dance to Men In Black. Hilarious. The boys outdid themselves with several numbers. They opened the show with a jazz band, where Drew rocked a 10 minute drum solo that the other musicians had no idea was coming. It was gut busting! Then Taylor Swift came alive for us, in Ryan's body of course, as they did the number "Love Song". I can't even explain it- just watch it below. (Don't forget to pause the music on the right!)

So good! As you can see, we have it made when it comes to boys that like to wear dresses! Bahahaha! But there is MORE! We were treated to 2 more amazing songs- Double Rainbow AND Bedroom Intruder. Look them up on Youtube, and then picture my son and his buddies singing them a capella or with a lone guitar. NICE.

And then, the grand finale. Ryan said it best when he got on stage and said, "We've got the skills to pay the bills." Before watching this video, please have all small children leave the room. I would hate for them to think this is NORMAL behavior. But man! I love our youth group! :) In their defense, the girls did put them up to doing a Beyonce song. Although we never thought they would enjoy it quite so much!

Thank you, Lord! For laughter and fun and friends. What a great day!