Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Reflections





In my "old age" I have found New Year's Eve to be very sentimental. Especially in the last two years I find myself trying to mentally push back the tears into my eyeballs and not allowing a single tear to stream down my cheek. If I let that happen I would have to explain why I was crying and I don't think I could put words into it.

Growing up stateside, far from the island of Puerto Rico, we had many traditions that my parents valiantly tried to preserve. We would meet with other "refugees" and squeeze into one house. Food adorned every inch of table, counter or shelf available. Benille: seasoned, shredded, slow roasted pork. Arroz con gandules: rice with chick peas. Bacalitos: a fish dish. Guava paste and cream cheese, a variety of chips and dips, store bought desserts and if we were really lucky, there would be some pasteles; our version of tamales.

It was part of our tradition to wear a new out fit. Every piece of clothing or jewelry had to be new; right down to your skivvies. The new clothes represent a new beginning. It is believed that whatever the condition in which the New Year finds our property, that is how our property will stay for the rest of the year. Out with the old and in with the new. One of the more fun traditions was to grab a suitcase and run out the door at midnight. This action would symbolize traveling through the new year.

Instruments were always brought out around 10:00 and traditional songs were song in Spanish until 11:59 at which point everyone would gather around the TV. The host/hostess would be frantically trying to find the channel that shows the pictures from Times Square so that we could see the infamous ball drop.

The ball would drop, everyone would scream, drink a toast and you would grab your love for an extra long kiss. And then you would go around and kiss everyone in the house which could take as long as 15 minutes because the house was packed. The women would sing the traditional Puerto Rican song, El Brindis del Bohemio, and usually end up crying. I never understood why but as I get older, I am beginning to understand.

There is a deep resonance of days past and days yet to come, of dreams forgotten and dreams to achieve, of loved ones remembered and of loved ones yet come. It is a time to look back and a time to look forward. I think it was especially important for these families since they left their own families to pursue a dream, the American Dream. And each family in their own way was succeeding in that dream. There were teachers and engineers, law enforcement and realty professionals, small business owners and students. Each one grabbing hold of the ideals of a free nation and holding on with all their strength. So much to be thankful for and so much to anticipate.
Prospero Ano Nuevo!


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

MRI


Naomi's MRI went well. I think we are all emotionally spent. She was fine until she got into the pre-op room. She had streams of quiet tears rolling down her face as we waited. She just didn't know what was going to happen and so she was afraid. the anesthesiologist was a very nice young man. Sweet and yet steady with Naomi. Did you know that they flavor the mask now? There was bubble gum, cotton, candy, strawberry and other such flavors for the kids to enjoy. When it was time to go in, Dustin carried her into the room and laid her on the MRI table and he was able to give her the mask himself. Dustin said she had a firm grip on his hand and he had to hold the mask with the other one and count to 10. After she fell asleep, he released her hand to leave but she was still grasping tightly onto one of his fingers. He actually had to pry her hand open and leave the room. (I would have been a sobbing wreck)

Since only one parent can go with the child, I walked to the waiting room and it was the worse feeling I have ever had. To walk into that room without Naomi or Dustin and sit by myself was slightly excruciating. I didn't know what to do with myself. About the time I sat down and started to pray, Dustin walked in and sat beside me. He was visible "touched" by the scene that I had described earlier. We just sat there in quiet and let out a sigh of relief. That part was over, now it was time to wait.

One thing of note is that the waiting room had some really great music playing. It was all modern Christian music and I was shocked to hear it. When I walked into the room by myself, Indescribable was playing by Chris Tomlin. That is a special song for Naomi and I and I was so thankful to God to have ordained that to be playing in the background when I entered the room. The second cool thing was that when I listened to my iPod, another family favorite song was playing. It is a children's song to Psalm 86:17 " You, Oh Lord, have helped me and comforted me."

We couldn't believe the music being played and I wondered if Dustin and I were the only ones who could hear it. It was such a comfort to us. Naomi came out the anesthesia really well and we have strict orders to relax, watch movies and vegg out till tomorrow. Hopefully we will get answers tonight.

Monday, December 28, 2009

MRI Eve

Tomorrow morning Naomi goes in for her MRI. A friend of mine was asking what to pray for and I went through a verbal list. Pray for Naomi to handle the fasting okay, that she would be brave and courageous, and handle the anesthesia well. Those are the things that have preoccupied my mind today. My friend looked at me and then said, "And for good results too." I hadn't even thought about the results! I was just taking the next step in front of me and I figure we would worry about the results after we actually got the MRI done with.

Being born with a clef palette and having Multiple Sclerosis, I am no stranger to hospitals and medical procedures. Shoot, I have lost count of the amount of MRIs I have done, yet this one is a bit unnerving to me. Something about seeing my tiny daughter asleep in the MRI chamber stirs my heart uncomfortably. I would really like to skip the whole thing altogether. After all, we think we have solved the problems with visits to the chiropractor but just in case.... just incase there is something terribly wrong, we need to have a look. So no matter how much I try to weasel out of this, there is no way around it.

I was feeling confident about the whole thing and then Dustin started to get a stomach ache and is feeling miserable. Oh, geez. I really need him to be well so he can drive us to Santa Barbara. (My fatigue does not allow me to be able to drive there and back in one day.) And it dawned on me that I am relying so much on my husband when what I really need is to rely on the Lord. So on the eve of Naomi's MRI, I will sit quietly with my God and ask Him to work everything out according to His will and His glory.

Eavesdropping gone awry

Josiah: Daddy, why is Mommy going to make copies with Jessica?
Daddy: huh?
Naomi: (from the other room) COFFEE! Not copies! She is going to have COFFEE with Jessica!!
Mommy: You don't need to be listening to my phone conversations.
Josiah: Oh! Coffee. I just couldn't figure out why you wanted to make copies with her.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Currently off the shelf....


Excerpt taken from page 1:
" There has never been a generation whose general view of marriage is high enough. The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the human vision is now, and has always been, gargantuan. Some cultures in history respect the importance and the permanence of marriage more than others. Some, like our own, have such low, casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitudes toward marriage as to make the biblical vision seem ludicrous to most people."


This is just page 1 people! The first paragraph! I can already tell God is going to do some serious paradigm shifting in my brain.

Advent Fast Complete


Our fast for the Advent season this year has ended. Dustin gave up coffee and I gave up cheese and we both gave up our weekly date night. We thought that we would find relief from the restrictions of the fast and feel a sense of reprieve when it was over. The truth is that we do not have that sense of relief because nothing compares to Jesus. There is no greater indulgence than knowing our Savior; all else pales in comparison. So while we are able to "indulge," we have found that our true indulgence was time in the Word and in prayer. Coffee and cheese can wait, we have a God to get to know better.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Day 24

On the eve of the end of our fast I have come to one conclusion. Fasting needs to be a regular part of my walk with Jesus. I hunger for the presence of my God and long to be intimate with Him. Why would I not be demonstrating that to Him by fasting?

I am reminded of the longing of the Jewish people who went without hearing from God for 400 years until that glorious night when the angels put on a magnificent show before lowly shepherds to announce the birth of the son of God. How the hearts of the shepherds must have soared! I am sure they ran, and I mean ran, back to Bethlehem. Their minds racing, trying to capture everything they saw, heard, smelled, felt..... and then to find a small baby wrapped in swaddling clothes just as the angels said. Confirmation. Did they feel pride that they were the first to know? Or did they want to bury their faces in the dirt and bow low before the King of Kings? I bet they stayed up all night discussing these events. One might have said to the other, "Did you see the look on Ham's face when the angels began to sing?" "Ham? I couldn't take my eyes off the angel before me with the trumpet! I have never heard such a sound before. "

That same excitement has permeated our house. Although we have not been visited by angels, we have been touched by the Spirit of God. And we are able to join with the angels in praising God. Not only has God showed Himself as Emmanuel (God With Us) 2000 years ago, God is today in us for those who believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world.

What a glorious Christmas season this is for our family.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Geek

I am such a dork. Somehow I signed up to follow my on blog. ROTFLOL!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Rogers' Family Christmas Letter

One of the things I like most about the end of the year is looking back and reflecting on all the experiences we had as a family and as individuals. This year has been extremely fun to look back upon because we can see God's handiwork in so many areas of our lives. July 1 marked 4 years in California. This is the longest time in one place in our 10 years of marriage.


Dustin continues to work for BST (Behavioral Science Technologies). They are a great company and he loves his job. It doesn't hurt that he is 4 miles from home either. In obedience to God, Dustin led us to leave the church we had attended for 6+ years which was difficult for us but we have found a new church home and are beginning to seek where we can serve.


We finished our first year of homeschooling and thoroughly enjoyed it. It isn't the easiest lifestyle but it sure grows your character a lot! I am learning a lot. My health remains well although the beginning of the year was rough so I am glad to be ending the year better than I was at the beginning. This year God has been growing me specifically in the area of submission. Talk about stretching your faith! It has been quite the adventure. I have also become a very frugal woman and have been grinding my own wheat and baking my own bread. Just started making our own laundry soap and household cleaners too. I am not becoming Amish as some have suggested. (Although last week, I made the most wicked batch of apple butter you ever had. ) I have actually enjoyed the challenge of spending less and being creative with what we have. (I wish I could say the same for our government but we won't go there right now.)


Josiah turned 7 this year and has lost 6 teeth so far. He currently has no front teeth which is kinda fun for the Christmas season. He is obsessed with Star Wars even though we have only let him watch the original movie and parts of the Return of the Jedi. He also enjoys the Encyclopedia Brown books as well as the Magic Tree House series. He continues to be very imaginative and loves to write his own stories. So far he has declared that when he grows up he will be a detective, author, and a surfer. We shall see what tomorrow holds.


Naomi is the little mamma of the house. She is girlie and yet tom boyish too; all in the right balance. On any given day you can see her color princess coloring pages, play "Star Wars" with brother in the backyard, paint her nails, and help mommy cook dinner. She is extremely smart and very inquisitive. (I am sure all parents say that but in this case it is true. ;) LOL!) She is also the reason why Dustin is getting more and more gray hairs. Something about the green eyes, dark brown hair, tan skin and pink lips; picture a Puerto Rican version of Snow White. In any case, she was having some neck pains that will require an MRI in January just to make sure that nothing is wrong. Frequent visits to the chiropractor has done wonders for her discomfort. We would appreciate if you would remember to pray for her.


We welcomed a new addition to our family in October which was the culmination of Josiah praying for a cat. Dexter is a vivacious 4 month old cat that on some days I like to refer to as "El Diablo." He is a gray and black striped cat, feisty and pretty clever. It has just been so neat to watch Josiah pray for this cat for months and when we went to pick him up sight unseen, it was exactly the type of cat he had been praying for. Isn't that just like God to answer a sweet little boy's prayers?


Speaking of answered prayer, we have seen our share of answers this year. One of the best things that has happened for me personally is that I have a prayer partner. We meet every week and the children play while we pray. It has been so neat to keep track of the requests and the way God has answered. If I listed everything you would probably get a 3 page Christmas letter. It has been such an inspiration to seek God together and then watch God move and bring about His plan. This has also had a great impact on our kids as they see their mommies loving Jesus and talking to Him consistently.


We are still living in the house I grew up in which is very ironic. All those years I dreamt of getting out of this crazy small town and now I am back in the same place I was trying to leave but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. We hope you have a fantastic Christmas and New Year. God bless you.

Dustin, Amanda, Josiah, and Naomi

Advent Fast Day 21

The fast is almost over and I am surprised to say that I will be sad to see it end. One thing for sure is that I need to incorporate the discipline of fasting into my life. Not just to fast corporately but to fast individually as well. I can't say that this fast has been a time when I heard God loud and clear. it has been a struggle. There has definitely been a battle of wills. Am i willing to give up things so that i can hunger for God more. Ashamedly I would have to say no. My actions say no even though my heart screams yes.

Remember those "trinkets" that I was bemoaning about? They no longer seem important. I can actually say that if I never eat it again it would be okay. I went into this thing thinking that I would have this mountain top experience and walk away with the Shekinah glory all about me but truth be told, I am just now beginning to figure out how to really fast. This has been a struggle as I have learned that it wasn't enough just to give something up. I needed to replace it with a hunger for God's Word and God's Presence.

In actuality it is God who has shown up mightily in this time as our Jehovah-Jireh. I have been humbled beyond belief at the good gifts God has showered down on us. I didn't do the fast to ask for anything for ourselves. I did it to pray for revival for our church. And then God poured out blessing upon blessing, measure upon measure in a way that no one could explain except to say that is was all God.

So for the next four days I will continue to forgo my "trinkets." I will continue to long for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and I will wait in expectancy to see the revival that He will bring about within our community.

BTW, the trinkets I gave up was cheese. That includes cream cheese, cheesecake, and a variety of other delectable that I hadn't thought of when I originally decided to fast from cheese.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Little Evangelist


We have always joked that Josiah is our little evangelist. He often challenges us in our thinking about God as well as extended family members. From the time he was 18 months old he would talk to strangers about the things he understood about God and invite them to church.

Today I accepted help from the courtesy clerk to carry out our bags from the store because I was so tired. On our way, Josiah asks the young man if he knows about Bibleman and if he goes to church and if he knows God. The questions poured out faster than the young man could speak. Turns out that this young man is a Christian living in Oak View but going to church in Oxnard. He has been afraid to try any churches in the area because of all the mysticism within our small community. I suggested three churches to him that were biblically sound and he was exceedingly thankful. That was no mere coincidence.

When we got into the car, I turned around to Josiah and told him how I love how he tells everyone we meet about God. He smiled and responded, don't thank me, thank God!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trying to Read.....

Beginner's Guide to Fasting. Our Pastor challenged the church to fast for the Advent season and pray for revival. "Awake, O sleeper,...." Our fast ends on Christmas Day so we only have 8 days of the 25 day fast left and I feel like I am just now learning what it means to fast. Fasting is not a discipline that many of us have grown up with. I searched the local library and found a book by Elmer Towns that is phenomenal. It is very basic but that is what I needed. It has forms to fill out and keep track of your fast, the Scripture that God puts on your heart and the things He impresses on you. Anyways, by the time this thing is over I will finally get it (hopefully) but I think the greatest point I am learning is that fasting is a discipline and should be a regular occurrence in my walk with Christ.

"I'm concerned that many are not willing to pay the price to experience the presence of God. We expect God to popup on the screen of our life, just because we are surfing the spiritual net. So, we check out the channels to see if God is there. Like most people surfing the television,we are looking for something to tickle our fancy. but that is not the way we find God. We must want it will all our life, so much so that we would go without food or sleep. We must be willing to sacrifice everything to experience God."
- Elmer Towns


Soap making


I found a neat craft idea for kids online and decided to try it. Sounded easy enough. Take one bar of soap and grate it, add 1/4 warm water and a couple drops of essential oil. Spread out, use cookie cutters to make shapes, dry, viola! Easy Christmas presents!

So I am still trying to figure out what went wrong. The kids got bored, they hated the gooey messy mixture on their hands, my hands are now xmas red, and I am not sure I am going to give any of these odd shaped soaps away as gifts. They are suppose to be a star, Christmas tree and heart. I am letting them dry and we will see what happens. I think I will try to slice them in half so at least one side is smooth.

Worse comes to worse I am giving them to the grandparents and claiming the kids made them. That is my story and I am sticking to it. ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jehovah-Jireh!


Over the past month I have shared several praise reports. From my daughter's health to the provision of a new-to-us car, I have seen God answer our prayer requests in an abundant way. Last Friday, I simply asked for prayer for my husband to find favor with his boss. He works for a company that he loves and is very content in his position. The only dilemma has been that it is not a livable income. Not that we were dire (because somehow in God's goodness it was always just enough) but as a wife I desire for my husband to be compensated for his hard work. I am sure you can understand. So my prayer partner and I have been praying that God would provide what he is due according to his work. This morning my husband was called into the head honcho's office. He was scared to death! He walked in and there was his immediate supervisor and the CFO. He sat down with sweaty palms and a sick feeling in his stomach thinking the economy had finally hit them hard enough and he would need to be laid off. The boss than explained to him that he recognized that his job had evolved into much more than what he was hired to do. His supervisor had put together a full report detailing his duties and the many areas in which he has stepped up and taken the load off of other departments without complaining and then even going beyond that.

Although no cost of living raises will be given this year and no Christmas bonuses, my husband will be receiving a significant raise. Not only is he getting a raise but it will be proactive to December 1st on his next paycheck. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Oh, how our God provides! He is Jehovah-Jireh! Just when we were really feeling the pinch of this economy and wondering if we could wait it out any longer, God showed up big time. Rejoice with us!

Backseat Conversations

Naomi and Josiah were in the back seat of the car last night having an interesting discussion. Naomi asked why did Rameses become Pharaoh? I explained that royal lineages usually passed down to the first born son. She then asked what would have happened if Rameses had died? Would Moses have become Pharaoh? I responded perhaps.
Naomi: If I were Moses and Pharaoh, I would have made the Egyptians slaves.
Josiah: But we are suppose to be loving. Moses would have to show them love.
Naomi: (begrudgingly) I think it'd be better if they were slaves and had to work really hard.
Josiah: But we are to love our enemies. They can't be slaves.
Naomi; Then who is going to build all that stuff?
Josiah: (silence)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Fast Day 8


Dustin and I were cleaning up the kitchen last night and talking about the fast and how the lack of our chosen "trinkets" continually reminds us of God each meal. We were joyfully bemoaning together; I know that is an oxymoron. In any case I made a remark that I will be glad when I am free of this restriction. And I was reminded that before this poor helpless babe was born, those who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were constantly trying to fulfill the requirements of God's Laws through offerings and commands. I have the anticipation and hope of an end. But the Israelites could not see the bigger picture and see the end. They had the hope of the Messiah but did not know the time in which He would come. I have the blessed assurance that Christmas morning, the things I have given up while be restored to me. They were slaves to the Law but I have been set free.

The writer of Galatians put it this way- "Why was the law given? It was given to show people how guilty they are. But this system of the law was to last only until the coming of the child to whom God's promise was made...... If the law could have given us new life, we could have been made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures have declared that we are all prisoners of sin, so the only way to receive God's promise is to believe in Jesus Christ. Until faith is Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming Savior." (chapter 3, verses 19, 21-23)

Symbolically in this fast we are in the time of "protective custody" and there is a day coming when we will be set free just like the ancient believers. Glory! But for us it is the hope of His return that we long for. We no longer shout Noel in anticipation of His arrival. We now shout Thy kingdom come! in anticipation of His Reign.

Poor kitty

Naomi is to cats as Darla is to fish.
Enough said.

Lord Teach Me To Pray Study


I usually post my reading list on Facebook but it doesn't allow me to explore thoughts that hit me hard so I best write this one down here. Our women's group are currently reading Lord, Teach Me To Pray by Kay Arthur. Basically she takes the Lord's prayer and devotes about 5 days to each line of the prayer. This week we have been studying the line- "Your Kingdom come,"
Kay contends that praying for God's kingdom to come is to declare your allegiance to God. When we do so, we are showing our eagerness for His arrival, aiding in kingdom work and taking our rightful place as debtors to the gospel. I have to admit that I never really thought about what those words meant before. There are two quotes that have really pierced my heart.
The first is A.B.Simpson: "There is no ministry that will bring more power and blessing than the habit of believing, definite, and persistent prayer for the progress of Christ's kingdom, for the needs and work of His church, for His ministers and servants, and especially for the evangelization of the world and the vast neglected myriads who know not how to pray for themselves."
The second is by Adrian Rogers: "No matter how faithfully you attend church, how generously you gie, how circumspectly you walk, how eloquently you teach, or how beautifully you sing, if you are not endeavoring to bring people to Jesus Christ, you are not right with God."
I will be chewing on these for quite a while.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

FREE TAbLE!!

Our homeschool co-op has a free table when we meet for class and I am always so blessed by the items people leave. This week I scored a book on sign language, a book on whales, a cozy men's sweater that my husband will probably not wear but I will gladly done it on instead and a John Piper book. I was especially excited about the John Piper book because I was looking at it on eBay and ALMOST bid on it. The book is The Supremacy of Jesus Christ and the Postmodern World. I was practically jumping up and down. I am ever so blessed by these wonderful families.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Fast

Several weeks ago our pastor asked us to being praying about fasting during Advent. My first reaction was fear because I was afraid of what God might ask me to give up. My next reaction was, What is Advent? Advent is the time after Thanksgiving up to Christmas Eve. It is a Latin word meaning "to come." Ann Dixon wrote:


Although Advent traditions vary, the reason for observing Advent remains the same: to prepare our hearts for welcoming God's gift of light and love, His son Jesus.


I have never fasted for a season. I have done the 30 hour famine as a youth, albeit I wasn't aware of the way in which to fast or the truth of it. In any case this is new territory for me. I was so thankful that we received a FAQ regarding fasting so I could go into this time with the right attitude. After praying about it I felt led to give up my date night activities which was to watch our favorite TV shows on hulu.com or casttv.com. That is the part of my week that I look forward to the most. So I talked with Dustin about it and he understood. I felt God asking me to want to be in His presence as much as I long for my earthly husband's presence. So it was settled.

And then the day before the fast began, I started to have an aching in my heart. Giving up two nights was nothing in comparison to the heavenly realm that Jesus gave up to become a babe in a manger. I desired to forgo something that would be a constant reminder to me of the sacrifice Jesus gave for me. I wanted to hunger for something . If fasting is truly about giving up a lesser thing to gain something greater. And if it is letting go of something temporal to lay hold of the eternal, than I needed to find something else to give up. Instantly I knew my answer. I have given up something that has proven to be more challenging than I even realized when I choose to forgo it.

I will not reveal my choice until after the fast is over so let us call it trinkets. But let me say this: The very first day it hit me like a ton of bricks. I could not have trinkets. But I LOVE trinkets! I did not realize trinkets were in that. I can't have it. Really? God gently reminded me of Hebrews 12:2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the joy set before me I will joyfully forgo my enjoyment of trinkets knowing that as I do I am reminded of the beautiful gift God gave us in His Son. There is much anticipation of Christmas Day when I will be able to enjoy trinkets again. Just like there is much anticipation in the return of our king , Jesus Christ. Every day as I forgo my trinkets, God is teaching me something new. There are times when it isn't easy but then I remind myself, "... for the joy set before Him..." Should be an interesting 21 more days.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Santa or no Santa?

Santa or no Santa; that is the question. Before the kids were born we had decided that we would not follow the tradition of Santa primarily because it meant lying to the kids. If we lied about Santa, would the kids believe us when we told them about Jesus? This has cause much dismay among the grandparents and countless family arguments but we have stood our ground. This year Josiah has been quite curious about the story of Santa and the traditions that go with it. He has lamented that Santa does not visit our house but he visits others. Despite our truth telling in the way the whole Santa thing works, Josiah actually believes in Santa! How did that happened? I have no idea. In any case, it has brought to light some retrospect on my part. I grew up with Santa and it was magical. To this day I still getting teary eyed when I watch movies about Santa Claus. He was such a wonderful part of my childhood. I do however remember when my parents told me the truth and I was distraught. I didn't want that to happen to my kids but I fear we have done it in the opposite way. They understand the reason for Christmas; the greatest gift that God could give humanity lying in a manger. And yet it seems that no matter how hard we try, the focus returns to what presents will I get? So we are going to prayerfully seek the Lord's guidance in how to handle traditions this holiday season. The goal is to follow in God's example as a humble servant, to demonstrate to fellow man love and mercy and to be generous as God has so graciously been generous to us. The question is how do we do that in a way that a 7 and 5 year old will understand.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over

This has been a remarkable week. We have seen God's mighty hand in so many areas of our lives and our friend's lives that my heart is bursting at the seams.

We had been concerned for months that the upcoming social security hearing would be a stressor for another MS episode so I was meeting regularly with a psychiatrist and a good friend that is a psychologists to try to give me a good perspective on this whole thing and to give me some tools to keep my stress levels low. I was doing well but I knew that if anything I would more than likely ruin all the hard work the night before by stressing so much that I don't sleep which would then cause me to be susceptible to any virus I came in contact with. I have done this several times before so I know what I am talking about. But just as I was starting to feel the waves of worry and doubt and concern sweep over me, I happened to check my facebook page and saw a status update for one of the moms from the homeschool co-op.

I have known Julie for about 2 years and in that whole time she has had an oxygen tank connected to her to help her breathe. I don't know the whole story but I know her lungs were weak and in trouble. These last two months have been especially precarious and we have been diligently praying for her healing. Julie has been on the lung transplant list for some time so when I read on her update that there may be some lungs available, I was overjoyed. There was a link to her blog and from that point on, my stupid little hearing didn't seem so important. What a great joy it was to read the continuing updates as she was prepped for surgery and then the lungs were a good match, she was in surgery and is now out breathing on her own. Before we went to bed that night we prayed for Julie and her family and I realized that not only was God blessing her but He was keeping me from causing myself to become ill. I was so thankful and enthusiastic for Julie that I forgot about myself. We prayed earnestly for the family that had suffered the loss to allow Julie to live and we rejoiced and praised God for His perfect timing. It has been glorious!

Monday morning was the long anticipated social security disability hearing for me. We had been prepped by my attorney that it would take 1-3 months for a written decision to arrive in the mail. The only time a decision comes from the bench is when the client is there with a drool cup or as a quadriplegic. You'll have to take that statement with a grain of salt because he is a lawyer and a little prone to dramatics. The point is that getting a ruling from the bench is highly unlikely. After a couple of questions, the judge stopped and began to write a bunch of things and then asked to be put on the record and he began to dole out his decision from the bench! I was in complete shock. Isn't it like our great God to give us answers when we think none are to be had. The judge ruled that I was unable to work full-time and was indeed to be classified as disabled and awarded whatever social security benefits that I was entitled to. He then said to have a nice life and adjourned the case. The analyst from the social security office never even had a chance to question me or try to prove my capabilities at working full-time. Again, it was glorious!

After the hearing I had three doctor appointments so Dustin was like my chauffeur that day. At the first appointment we ran into a dear friend who let us know that a family member of his was receiving a newborn baby boy to adopt. Another moment of rejoicing! It was beginning to be too much for this fragile heart to handle. In so many ways God is moving mightily on behalf of His people. I see His fingerprints everywhere. And it dawned on me that this all happened the beginning of the Thanksgiving weekend. We have much to be thankful for. And even if God did not move in all those ways, we would still have much to be thankful for. For our God is a Living God. He paints the sky for us each day, sets the stars out for us to wonder at, He creates life and gives us love, and He even gives us these weak tents, made in His image, to live in so that we can see the work of His hands. Oh how glorious the love of the Father is for us that He would calls us his children, wholly and dearly loved.

It reminded me of the Nichole Nordeman song, Gratitude:


Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

(Chorus)

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

(Chorus)

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .

(Chorus)

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .


Sunday, November 22, 2009

PRAY FOR JULIE!

A dear woman in our homeschool co-op is getting a long awaited new lung. Please pray for Julie.
You can also follow her blog :www.breathelifewithjulie.blogspot.com
I am so excited for her family I can hardly stand it. He is so good!

Home Alone

The night before the kids left for grandma's house, I was overcome with sadness. A majority of my day is spent in direct relation to their needs and wants and the keeping of our home. It suddenly hit me that I don't know what to do with myself if they are not around. I had been looking forward to this time alone with my husband but for a brief moment at the setting of the sun the night before their departure, I became panicked.
The one thing I miss the most when they are gone is laughter. There is a stark difference in the feel of the house when they are away. It is quiet and still, bland and dull, lacking zest and just plain appealing. The house may stay cleaner but it certainly isn't the warm and cozy place we love when the kids are here. Dustin and I are pretty quiet people and yet God gave us these two very loud, energetic, hilarious kids. They certainly spice up our lives.
Dustin and I our first day together alone. We cleaned up a little bit, walked around downtown Ventura, coked a mean meal and enjoyed fellowship at our church for prayer. But it was weird to get out of the car and not have to herd little people to the curb. And it was really weird to take communion at church this morning and not have a child in our arms as we explained why we partake in the bread and juice. This afternoon we went through the kids toy boxes and made some room for newer toys that will arrive for Christmas. I just miss the quirky comments the kids make and how they make me laugh.
Tomorrow is a full day of appointments. We have my social security hearing and then two doctor appointments. The kids keep calling and leaving long messages about how much fun they are having. What a beautiful thing to have a close relationship with grandparents. Something that I miss out on. So I am joyfully setting my face to the Lord and enjoying my time with my husband knowing that what my kids are gaining is far better than me just missing them. Maybe I should see if Dustin will tell me some knock-knock jokes in the interim. ;)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

MAP CURIOUSITY

You may notice a tiny map near all the ads. I just added it to see where people are that read my blog. I love how small the world seems when using the computer. Although I do not expect there to be many red dots on it from readers, I thought it would be fun nonetheless. I got it from Sally Clarkson's blog. She has 40,000 people just inthe US that read her blog! Crazy. Anyways, she has a fantastic blog and you can read it at http://wholeheart.typepad.com/itakejoy/

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Revival

The last several months have been exciting and difficult at the same time. Exciting in that we see God at work in many areas and difficult in that some of those areas God was showing us beliefs or habits that needed to be changed. There has been confession and repentance and transformation and abundance. In that order! What a beautiful thing it is to see that God is continually working to complete His work in us. Don't get me wrong, a couple of weeks ago I would not be able to have written this blog with a joyful attitude because the sin that God had brought to light were painful. But now, now that we have been forgiven and set free from bondage, we are rejoicing. Recently our pastor challenged the body to fast for Advent.
I know I was like, what? Advent? What is Advent? (I am probably the only one who didn't know.) Anyways, from November 29-December 24, we are going to corporately fast in whatever way God directs us to. To tell you the truth, I was afraid to ask God what He would have me to give up. I'm selfish! Gimme a break. After my panicked heart settled down I knew that I had to rise up to this challenge because I know my God and He wants me to want Him more. So I began to pray and seek what God would have me to give up. Surprisingly enough, the answer came quite quickly. I am going to give up my Friday and Saturday night TV time with Dustin so I could be in the Word more. We have viewed Friday and Saturday our date night since we watch our favorite TV shows online. It is a time that I have jealously guarded. And then I heard my sweet Lord calling me to be with my true groom, Jesus Christ.

With that settled I no longer feel anxious but am excited about the wonders and treasures God will show me. Funny thing is, I thought that wasn't enough to give up and began to let God know that I would give up all movies and TV for that time to make it harder and more dramatic. And once again, my sweet Lord reminded me that He did not ask me to give up those things. He asked me for a very specific time and days. To make it more would be for my glory rather than His. Isn't it like us humans to blow things out of proportion. I am so glad that God is ever patient with me. I am really looking forward to this fast. I am excited to see the way God will not only grow Dustin and I but also how he will grow our church body as well.

Pray for us. Pray for First Baptist. Pray for Ojai. Pray for revival.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Naomi update

Naomi continues to do well. Her skull has remained where it should be. We are currently visiting the chiropractor two times a week to keep her first vertebrae in line. It continues to slide out of alignment since the muscles were holding it wrong for so long. But the treatments are being needed less and less. Another wonderful praise is that God is miraculously providing through Dr. Plaut (our chiropractor). He has been so gracious to give us free visits. It is very hard for me to accept and I have been humbled more than once to just accept it and allow God to be God. Ouch. We just keep praying for healing for her and thankfulness to God for His mighty work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Naomi's Healing


About 6 months ago, Naomi began to complain about neck pain. Her complaints usually arose when it was time for school or something she didn't want to do so we didn't invest too much energy into it. After several weeks of on and off pains, we took her to the pediatrician. No answers were given or found so we went home. This happened four times in about four months as her complaints continued and our concern grew.

We were getting nowhere and were told to give her Ibuprofen . The Ibuprofen did not work so we went back again with a more demanding tone. So the doctor referred us to a neurologist who then concluded she was having migraines. At this point we were getting desperate because the pain was constant and there was nothing we could do to relieve her of it. She was unable to sleep well, having trouble with vision and miserable. The neurologist gave us a prescription for a heavy duty medicine that did nothing except make her even more irritable. So he then switched medications to a very powerful drug which again did nothing to ease the pain. The neurologists said she would have to be on medication for the rest of her life and being so young, her liver would be severely affected by the time she was in her twenties.

At this point we were getting desperate. Naomi was pale and had dark circles under her eyes. The worst times were when she had to be quiet and still because the pain would gnaw at her. As long as she was active and pre-occupied, she was okay because she was distracted from the pain. Dustin and I were highly concerned and fearing the worst. We began to spend our nights by her bedside in earnest prayer for her.

One evening after church, a young woman came up to me and asked if we had thought about calling the elders together to pray over Naomi. I replied yes and then she asked if we had considered taking her to a chiropractor. She then began to relate her own experience as a child and her dealings with a doctor named Plaut. I had heard of him previously from someone on Facebook and again from someone else we know. Believing that God was sending us an answer, I contacted Dr. Plaut and we took Naomi to go see him. I was very nervous about it because I have no reference to a chiropractor myself and because our pediatrician is highly against it. But since we believed God was directing us in this way, we usurped the doctor's authority and took a chance to hopefully find an answer..... and a cure.

On our first visit to Dr. Plaut, Naomi was so miserable that she would not let him touch her. He spent a lot of time with her and explaining everything to us. He knew exactly what was wrong with her. Her skull had gotten off the spinal track and the first vertebra was twisted and pushing into the skull. He would not do anything she didn't allow so we made an appointment for the next day and brought in the reserves.... Daddy.

Naomi was a bit more tolerable of the Dr. on this day but still would not let him do the full adjustment but she did allow him to use an activator and we left saying that we would be praying the treatment works. That afternoon Naomi ran inside and exclaimed, "Mama! My neck feels all better!" I could scarcely believe it. And to be honest I was a bit skeptical. When we went back the following day, Dr. Plaut was ecstatic. The skull had readjusted itself and she will not have to be on worthless meds. her whole life. She will need to continue to get checked but that is a wonderful prognosis compared to what we were facing.We were a bit in shock on Wednesday but now we are fully rejoicing our great Healer for His goodness and mercy.

The difference in Naomi has been astounding. Color has returned to her face, she is sleeping well, seeing clearly and free from pain. Praise God from whom all blessing flow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dexter

For months Josiah has been praying for a kitty. We have seen two litters and visited the Humane Soceity numerous times but it never seemed to work out. Either the kittens had sketchy backgrounds and I was hesitant to introduce a sick kitty to the family. One time we picked a kitty at the Humane Society only to have him adopted by someone else. Oops. Throughout it all Josiah had a very specific picture in mind for what he wanted.

A friend of ours posted some newborn kitten pics on Facebook and I inquired about it and kinda forgot about it. Eight weeks later she asked if we would like a kitty. There were two boys left and we had no idea what the kittens looked like. I gave Josiah the speech about accepting the kitty even if it doesn't look like what he wanted, which was a gray and black striped cat. They brought out the two boys and Josiah took one look and said, "That one." He turned around to me and there was the cutest gray and black striped kitty I have ever seen. Our God is so gracious to have painted that sweet kitten exactly like Josiah had been praying for. Josiah named him Dexter and he has been a wonderful addition to our family.

He is very smart. Already using the litter box, eating dry food well and knows that when he hears a crinkly sound, food is around. :) He likes to climb into our laps and sleep and plays around the house. He is so small that we had to put a collar with a bell on it so we don't lose him. I love hearing the jingling and seeing a quick grayish black blur go by. It has been a great experience to see the way that God has answered Josiah's prayers. What an amazing God we have that He even provides a kitty for a little boy.

Peak into our children's minds

Here are some questions Josiah has asked recently that we thought were quite charming.
1. A stingray has a stinger to protect himself from sharks and other predators but can a stingray sting another stingray?
2. Is God good all the time? Can he ever be bad?
3. Is Satan bad all the time? Can he ever do good?

Naomi recently commented that the way the sex is determined for babies is upon the name that the parents give them. For instance, we named Josiah a boy name so we got a boy. We named Naomi a girl name so we got a girl. Simple. So next time can you name the baby Penny so I can have a sister?

Tender moments

Sunday morning Josiah and I were snuggling in the front pew, I mean chairs, at church and he says to me, "Mommy, my love for you goes all the way up to the ceiling."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Revoltion of the heart

As I mentioned earlier, I have been reading a book entitled, Created to Be HIs Help Meet. At first I was very skeptical of the book and the ideas presented and wary of some of the views the author had but I forged ahead because she encouraged the reader to delve into the Word for herself. It has been during this extensive study of what God's word has to say about joy, blasphemy, fear of the Lord, submission, being chaste and sober, keeping the home, and training the children and loving your husband, that God has transformed the way I perceive my role as a wife and my actions. It is like getting lasik surgery of the heart.

Nowhere have I seen this more evident than the peace and contentment within our home and interaction as a family. With a concise focus on my role as a wife and mother, I can avoid cultural traps that I was stuck in. I know how to usurp my husband, I know how to manipulate him, demean him and be the boss but what I haven't know is how to be a chaste woman, sober, truly loving and discerning. So many things that I was not taught from the godless women in my family. As you can imagine, this whole process has been so freeing!!

The saddest part of this journey is that I see women in the church do the same thing! Older women aren't teaching the younger because they were never taught themselves. But thank God that he gives us the Holy Spirit to teach us in these matters. Not that I have attained all these things but I am pressing forward to be the wife God ordained me to be.

So I am wondering how many young women feel like I did. Desiring to be godly wives but having no clue as to how to do it. Or thinking you have a clue but always finding yourself failing or going back to what I call the default position. This world tells us that we can have it all. We are the determiners of our own destiny. We answer to no one. We are smarter than our husbands, more capable, able to live without a husband if we wanted to. Submission equals being a doormat. So many lies that creep in. So many half truths to destroy. The truth is that coming under the authority and leadership of your husband is the best thing you could ever do. I feel like I am one who has been set free. I am so thankful for God's Holy Word and His Spirit that guides us and directs us in the way we should go.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flourish

As we seek to be spirit-conscious, we should focus on the Spirit as our source of guidance. This means we foster an environment where the Holy Spirit can flourish, fill and clearly speak to us." - Priscilla Shearer

The question is: Do I foster an environment where the Spirit flourishes?

Our lives are overwhelmed with noise that it is no wonder we question whether God speaks. For our family, as we have removed the TV, iPods, radios, we have noticed an increase in peace and reflection. We are able to meditate on God's Word more and discuss what we are learning and what we are struggling with. It has been a wonderful change. It is even evident in the children as they are asking more questions and thinking deeper thoughts.

I also think having an uncluttered house helps too. Even if it means getting rid of some furniture and adding a bookshelf so everything can have it's place. I desire for my home to be one that welcomes the Spirit of God and allows Him to flourish so that we can grow and glorify Him. I welcome any other suggestions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

book blog

I have been reading an interesting book titled, Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl. I began reading this book 6 years ago but around the 3th or 4th page I ran into a section that I disagreed with. Unable to find anyone suitable to help me understand what she was saying, I put the book down because I did not want to be naive and listen to false doctrine. But I kept the book because a dear friend had sent it to me. Fast forward to about 2 months ago and I once again picked up the book and ran into the same passage that caused me to put it down earlier. This time I decided to tackle it and find out any information I could as well as seek godly council. The text in question was how she translated the word helper into help meet and the uses of meet in the New Testament. I finally decided that I should just disagree with her and not throw out the baby with the bath water. I had no idea what a journey this would send me on.

I wish now that I would have been blogging after each chapter. There are still things that I do not necessarily agree with but there is so much more that has struck a chord in me that it is near impossible to explain it all here. What I have discovered is that despite my theological differences with Mrs. Pearl, she is a voice in the wilderness for today's Christian woman. We as a church have lost our way in how we train up the next generation. A majority of older women do not step up and teach the younger women how to be wives. So now we have a host of young women who do not know how to properly love their husbands, keep a house, train their children, to be discreet and sober... and I would count my self as one of those young women. (Although I am not that young anymore!) The sad part is that the young women I am referring to are the 30-40 year olds who should be grasping the mantle of teaching alongside the older women for the young marrieds. We are too busy not wanting to intrude or get too personal. And that has left a generation of women reaching for what the world would call femininity.
And so I am learning a new way of doing things. I am learning to revere my husband. I am learning to defer to him and respect him.... and there has come over my heart a peace like no other as I have learned to submit in a godly manner. I don't even notice if my husband has noticed but it has made a huge impact in my heart. I am hoping to blog about the rest of the chapters I have left but there is no telling what will happen since I am limiting my online sessions. You can check out further information about this book and others at www.nogreaterjoy.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Unplug

Several weeks ago our pastor was commenting that maybe we don't hear God because we have so much noise around us. Car radios, TV's, iPods, etc... constant background noise. It just so happen that the week prior to that sermon we had our cable shut off. the price had gone up and there is nothing but junk on it anyway plus we found ourselves yelling at news reports so we needed to just cut it out of our lives. Who couldn't use $77 extra a month anyways, right? At least we still had our computer so we are not completely shut off from the world.
Two days later, our year old computer crashed. PANIC!! No Facebook? No email? No iTunes? Since we had just shelled out most of our savings for the car, we knew we could not afford to fix the computer. We took it into the shop and decided to save up the money to fix it. It was difficult at first but you know what? My pastor was right. No TV, no computer and there was a lot more time to talk with God and listen. It became rather enjoyable not to have those things.
One night we decided to watch a movie and as we were I commented that all we need now is for the DVD player to break. Within 10 seconds of saying that, the thing died. Literally just died. Dustin quipped, "I think God is trying to tell us something."
We both had a hearty laugh and played some cards instead.

Friday, August 7, 2009

What was I thinking?

I have always scoffed at the kind of women who leave their children because they want to live their own lives or who demand "me" time on the weekends or go on Girls Only cruises with their BFFs. Just seems so egocentric and narcissistic to go to such extremes and negate the duty of family. Yet as I going my journey on Spark People, I realize that I am just as bad but in the opposite direction. In an effort to serve and love my family, I have completely ignore my daily needs as a mom and I didn't even know it!

When I first began keeping track using the Nutrition Tracker, I was shocked that I was not even eating 1000 calories a day nor was I getting the protein, fat and carbs my body needs. I would have never believed it had I not done the work myself. I was shocked. I have a friend that gets so busy that she forgets to eat and I always thought that was nonsense. But I was doing the same thing! I would eat the crust of the bread left over from the kid's sandwiches but forget to make my own. I would start drinking a bottle of water and then forget where I put it and end up not drinking any water at all. I also would make snacks for the kids but never eat with them because I was the story reader and couldn't have my mouth full. None of these are bad in and of themselves but when they become a part of the routine and a part of life, the consequences are dangerous. In my case it has lead to extreme fatigue and crankiness and my body holding onto as much weight as possible instead of the normal process that it needs to go through.

I am proud to say that this Mamma has learned a huge lesson and will be portraying a healthy lifestyle for my kids from here on out. A lifestyle that promotes the importance of spiritual, mental and physical health.

*taken from my blog at www.sparkpeople.com

Friday, July 10, 2009

Josiah and Naomi on marriage

During lunch, Josiah declared that he has chosen to stay with Mom and Dad forever and thus he will not be getting married. Naomi very quickly and quietly replied, "Mommy told me a secret once. Little boys that say they are not going to get married, usually end up marrying anyways."
End of conversation.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Auto Troubles

I haven't written in quite a while although I think about writing often. The events of the last two weeks just seem too overwhelming to actually write out. For several months we have been living with one car and it hasn't been that bad. There are times when we have to schedule things down to the minute but for the most part, we have managed. And then our sole care tanked. The pistons blew and we needed to pay for about $2000 worth of repairs. Not only that but the repairs would take roughly a week and a half so that meant the kids and I were home bound. Gratefully we have some generous friends that let us use their car for a couple of days and my parents were visiting so we piled into their truck. The hardest part was figuring out what to do and whether we should buy a car. We have only had car payments once in our 10 year married life and we paid that off in half the time. We have generally paid cash for our cars but that meant not having anything fancy. (which is fine by me.) I was feeling a bit dejected by the whole thing and it was my husband that spurred me on to trust that God has it all under control. To add to his faith, God graciously provided a second car for us through some friends. I find it particularly funny that it is a 1992 Ford Thunderbird! The fact is that God provided something we were not expecting and we are rejoicing and praising Him for His undeserved goodness.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Whipped Cream Lesson

I have been a bit discouraged at the attitude of Josiah this week regarding his birthday. No matter how much we talked to him about the importance of celebrating God's creation and being thankful to God for giving him life, all he seemed to be focused on was presents and having friends over. None of which are bad in themselves but he just had an aire of expectation of presents. Needless to say next year we are going to do a quiet event with just the family. In any case I have been looking for teachable moments that would help Josiah understand that it is not about him.

During his birthday supper, Josiah mentioned that he gets served first because he is the birthday boy. So I purposefully served Naomi a bigger slice of pizza first and reminded him that the first shall be last. For desert, we had some left over cake and I topped it with raspberries and melted dark chocolate. I also table served a dollop of whipped cream on top of the individual slices. It was as I began this process that God used it to share a big lesson to all of us.

I took Josiah's fork to retrieve a nice size dollop of whipped cream and put it on Daddy's cake first and then mine and then Naomi's. As I was doing this I was talking about what it means that the first is last and the last is first. How God honors us when we think of others before ourselves. How we need to deny ourselves even in the smallest things lest we become too prideful and because that was the example Jesus gave us. And by doing so, we honor our Heavenly Father who sees and knows all things. By this time the whipped cream was almost out and I began to scrape the container with Josiah's fork so that I had a double portion of cream and placed it on his cake. And I ended by remarking that the when we apply God's principles and remember that the last is actually first, we will probably be surprised that it isn't the worst place to be after all and I gave Josiah the fork I had been using which was covered with whipped cream on all sides from all the scraping.

Almost immediately, Josiah returned to my humble, thoughtful, kind boy. He even thanked us and hugged us like one who truly was grateful and joyful. What a great God we serve that He helps us to understand His Ways when they are so counter to the culture we are in today. That He does not keep HImself as an enigma but rather is a Father that takes delight in His children.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Word Problems

We had a spontaneous round of word problems during lunch and I had to write my favorite one down. Josiah kicked it off with Jim had 5 presents and his daddy gave him two more presents. How many presents does Jim have in all? He continued to rattle off another 5 problems when Naomi started to beg for a turn. So we paused to let the little one have a turn and she gave us this problem.
Jim had ten pets and one of them died. How many pets does Jim have now?

Monday, June 22, 2009

After-Math

Now that my grandma is back with my parents and all the company has left, I find the house quiet and calm. A little too calm. We still have remnants of the birthday bash strewn about and my goal is to finish cleaning it all up today because having a messy house gets me frazzled. Frazzled enough to be a bit grumpy with the kids and grumpy with the lack of progress on my gigantic to do list. In the midst of all of this, I hear God telling me to calm down and take stock of what is really important. Not to ignore responsibilities but to be aware of opportunities to invest in my children and others.

So when Josiah asks this morning why we have to learn about God, I need to stop what I am doing and explore this with him. When my brother needs some company because his friend just died in a car accident, I need to stop, go visit him and listen. And when I am repeating myself for the umpteenth time on the same subject, I need to remember and apply Proverbs 31:26b, "...she gives instructions with kindness."

We have finally arrived at rest time and I have three rooms cleaned up and a gnarly soiled kitchen awaiting me but all I want to do is crawl into Jesus' lap and learn from Him. What a great God we serve. Not only does He walk with us in our frustrations but He is ever-present to listen and instruct and pour His love into us so we can love others. All the mess and the aftermath of celebration can wait...I need to be with my God. Hallelujah!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More tales from Great-Grandma

Today I got the privilege of hearing a lot of family history which I don't always know if I can believe but it is entertaining in the least. I learned that my great grandfather saw my great grandmother across the street and declared that that woman would be the mother of his children. He then befriended her dad and I think worked for him. (Not sure; some things get lost in translation.) ANyways, he wanted to ask for permission to marry her but he needed to see her legs first. He wanted to make sure she had a good figure under all those petticoats and material from those old fashion touch the floor dresses. So he devised a plan where she would have to step over a "obstacle" of some sort and be forced to lift her dress. The plan worked and when he saw her gams, he thought to himself, "Oh! Mama Mia! She is wonderful!" So that is the story of my great grandparents courtship.

I enjoyed hearing that story but there are more dramatic ones regarding spousal abuse and debauchery, murder and adultery. I could write one heck of a novel if I incorporated all thee stories together. Sometimes I think she confuses the talk shows she watches on TV with family history. In any case, my grandmother is quite the character. It still shocks me when she calls people sons of b***** and the other rude language she uses. I don't remember her using language like that when I was little. But coupled with her heavy spanish accent, it is quite funny.

She finds most of the cultural changes today disgusting and I have to laugh when she points out people on the street and says, "Look at that. Do you see her tattoos? (or piercings or immodest dress....etc...pick one.) That is disgusting! These people have no respect for themselves. No shame."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Great Grandma Stories

This week we are hosting Great-Grandma in our home....it is actually grandma-sitting but I think hosting has a better sound to it. She is quite the colorful lady and will be turning 89 next week...at least we think she is. (They didn't keep great records back then so we may be off by a couple of months or even years.)
I was thinking of keeping track of all the funny things she says. Yesterday I took Naomi to her Ta Kwon Do class and she wanted to watch some TV. So I left it on for her and she watched news for the hour. When I came home she said to me in her heavily accented English, "I am going to write a letter to that colored man because he is going to ruin health care." It took me a moment to understand what she was saying and then I had to keep from laughing because she was so serious about it.
And then today she was telling me a story about someone and she said that the woman was an "economic." as she gestured to someone taking a swig out of a bottle. And I realized she meant to say that she was an alcoholic. Sigh. It is going to be an interesting week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dinner Appreciation

Throughout our marriage Dustin has always, and I mean ALWAYS, made it a point to compliment the dinners I served him. He never forgets to thank me for making the food or for setting a nice spread on the table. I so appreciate his thoughtfulness in this manner and still am surprised with joy when he compliments my cooking even though it happens every night. Apparently the kids have noticed too.
It started out with some grunts of agreement and then it progressed to the kids declaring Mom to be the best cooker who deserves her own restaurant. In recent months I have been declared the Best Cooker EVER! But tonight took the cake. I received applause from the children for our delicious meal of sausage pasta ziti and caprese salad.
All because my husband has been modeling gratitude and appreciation. :)

Late Night Owl

I am up late pondering deep thoughts. Laughing inwardly because I have offended my friend the teacher from posting a simple quote on Facebook. Not laughing because I offended her, laughing because I am becoming an educational zealot. I hated those crazy homeschool moms when my son was in Kindergarten. Ugh! The ones that quoted famous people all the time and had an answer for almost everything. The ones that were always reading something and gaining further knowledge in some area. I couldn't stand those people!

Actually I was guilt ridden because I didn't want my son at public school all day. I was mad at my husband for wanting our son to go to public school. I hated woman who found such joy in teaching their kids when I still wasn't sure what to do with them half the time! Well, the tables have turned indeed. Now the trick will be to not be a zealot but to have zeal and zest for the life I am living now and to answer the calling that God has placed on me.

I am also thinking deeply on this whole church hunt thing. What a horrible place to be in! We have been going through a membership class to gain a better understanding of one of the churches we have been visiting. I feel like we are in the vetting stages for Congress as we grill the pastor and debate biblical views on everything from baptism to the second coming of Jesus Christ to the organization of the church. It is exhausting!! Part of me is so done with it but another part says endure just a bit longer. I don't know if this is how one should pick a new church or not but we are at least giving it our best shot in knowing what we believe and what we are getting ourselves into .....which means nothing if God doesn't specifically reveal to us where He wants us. So we wait on Him....

Now that I have unloaded my angst for the evening, I wish you all farewell and sweet dreams.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summer Schooling

I have been praying about what to do for the summer with the kids schooling and exactly how the "plan" should go. We started homeschooling in April 2008 and we finished our K curriculum around February 2009 so we haven't been in the first grade for all that long so taking a break seems ridiculous to me right now. I have 3 goals so far for the summer. Continue Josiah on his language arts and get him to read steadily. Introduce the kids to great children's classics and read a ton. And lastly, delve into a subject that the kids choose. So I asked the kids want they would want to study and Josiah came up with an answer I am not quite so ready to delve into.
His answer? "I want to learn how animals have their babies."
My answer? silence, mouth open.....remind myself to close mouth and act cool.....more silence...remind myself to answer him....and squeeze out an "OK" from my mouth.

Where does he come up with these things?

LATER THAT SAME DAY:
Josiah: Hey Mom! I was thinking. Why didn't God give women three breast? I think he should have given them three. One here, here and here (he motioned the extra one should be between the two already in place). That way they can feed three babies at a time.
My response?: see above response.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Renewal

Oh God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirst for more.
I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace.
I am ashamed of my lack of desire.
O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee;
I long to be filled with longing;
I thirst to be made more thirsty still.
Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, so that I may know Thee indeed.
Begin in mercy a new work of love within me.
Say to my soul, "Rise up my love, my fair one, and come away."
Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland
where I have wandered so long. - A.W. Tozer.


It has been one of those weekends that we have seen and tasted that the Lord is good. Our struggle to find a church body has been on the forefront of our struggles and we found ourselves weary and heavy laden. Yet within that our most Holy God met us in the stench of our selves and brought about repentance and hope. We are no closer to finding a new church home than we were at the beginning of the weekend but our focus has returned to the main thing which is Jesus. Oh how I love that name. The road to finding a church home has been more daunting and weary than we ever imagined it would be. We have questioned our motives, questioned our responses, questioned our desires and even questioned ourselves. How does one go about picking a church? You follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in obedience.

We may end up at a church that we never thought we would attend but as long as we keep the main thing the main thing, I am hopeful. It has been such a rewarding experience to watch my very mild husband, become passionate about his family and the spiritual growth of his children. To see him set aside his comforts to reach out to Josiah and Naomi and teach them about the awesome God we serve.

Dustin and I did not grow up with parents that esteemed the Bible or attended church regularly. We do not have parents that have a relationship with Christ. We have been perplexed in how to relate our love for God to our own children, how to teach them at home and how to raise them in the admonition of the Lord. Now we understand. It all comes down to purposeful discipleship- bringing our children alongside us in our own journey in the faith. Living out a Deuteronomy 6 life. We don't need programs, we don't need to be trained teachers, we simply need to point everything back to our God who is the Creator and Sustainer of us all. Will we do it right? Some. Will we mess up? Count on it. Is there grace in all of this? Absolutely!
Praise His Holy Name!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cubbie Verses


During the last month of Cubbies, I began noticing a strange occurrence while Naomi was trying to memorize her verse. I would say them a couple of times and she would repeat the verse a couple of times and she would have it down pat. And when it came time to repeat the verse at Cubbies, she did extraordinarily well for not having worked too hard. I couldn't put my finger on it but I knew something was amiss.
It turns out that as Josiah has been working on his phonics and Naomi on her coloring, she has learned to read quite well. When we test the kids on their verses, we have their book open with the Bible verse showing so that we as the teachers get it right and besides, most kids that age don't read so it isn't a big deal. Except for my little Miss who would simply read the verse when it was her book time and not memorize the verse which is the point of going to Cubbies. I had to chuckle because reading has been an arduous task with Josiah and here is baby sister doing it all by herself. (In the picture above she is reading to Aunt Amanda and Josiah, a Scooby Doo book.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Definition Changes

I am so aggravated with a friend right now that I had to write. We have been having an on-going "conversation" about marriage versus civil unions in regards to heterosexual and homosexual relations. Obviously I am against gay marriage and he is for it since he has decided to come out of the closet. We both claim to be followers of Christ and we have known each other for a very long time. In our "conversation" he was vehement that married couples have 1500 more "rights" than those in a civil union. I recently asked him to send me a list of those added rights and he sent me the court briefs which were about 75 pages long.

I read the first five pages but all it was was legal jargon detailing the rights of married couples but not necessarily the rights of civil unions...perhaps I haven't read enough yet. But I was thinking that isn't it like a liberal to try to paper log me rather than just name the differences. So I wrote back and requested the short list. If there really are that many differences in rights, I am sure there is a list like that out there somewhere. They would be lining the streets with it if it were really the case.

The point that I cannot get over is that a group of people should not be allowed to forcibly change a definition just because they want to. That would be like me demanding blue to be defined as the blending of two colors: red and yellow. No matter how hard I scream and cry and justify it, red and yellow will NEVER make blue. The same goes with marriage. It IS and WILL always be the union of a man and woman no matter what anyone says. Some things you cannot change, no matter how hard you rant and pout about it.

My fave organization: The UN

This was sent from Parental Right Org and I am sharing with everyone the need to be alert......

A parent’s right to raise their children as they see fit is a time-honored American tradition, but today it is being threatened. The Supreme Court’s Troxel v. Granville decision in 2000 undermined a 75-year heritage of Constitutionally-protected, fundamental parental rights, which 8 of the 9 justices abandoned. At the same time, a growing body of international law fuels activist judges to legislate foreign standards from the American bench, while treaties such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child would subject parental decisions to government oversight and international review.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (MI-2) has proposed HJR-42, the Parental Rights Amendment, to stop the erosion of parental rights in American courts while simultaneously defending our laws from international invasion. Please, visit parentalrights.org to learn more about the Amendment, and to join their email network by signing the petition to protect parental rights.

Dinner Talk #2

As we began to bow our heads to pray over our dinner, Josiah exclaimed, "I want to pray." This is a nightly request that we usually acknowledge but only after Daddy prays. Dustin provided the usual response that after he prays, Josiah may have a turn at which Josiah dropped his shoulders and began to make a face but changed his mind knowing full well that any sign of discontentment would result in the loss of praying at all as well as help with correcting the attitude. Naomi noticed the slight in fraction and says, "Daddy gets to pray because he is the pastor of our home." And she smiled a sweet, proud of herself smile and bowed her head. We both chuckled to ourselves and yet I couldn't resist having a sweet, proud of my girl smile on my face as well.