Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Because GOD is the Answer

My dear friend Lisa Buffaloe was on Blog Talk Radio today. The interview and conversation was excellent. The ladies discussed several informative topics such as creating a blog, building an audience, and why they blog. One of the best topics addressed, in my opinion, is the importance of blogging for God's sake, not our own. While they were specifically addressing blogging, the truth shared is applicable to all parts of life, whether that be writing, singing, or mowing yards. Very encouraging...and convicting...stuff.

The whole program is about an hour, and it is worth the time. Drop by and get blessed!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cwa-radio/2010/03/31/his-love-extended
Monday, March 29, 2010

More Valuable Than Butterflies

Today the children and I joined our co-op buddies at the Botanic Garden's butterfly exhibit. Because we had a large group, we were able to attend a very informative class on butterflies. The leaders explained how the butterflies were shipped from all over the world to be on display here in Texas. They also explained the butterfly life cycle and the importance of specific plants for specific species of butterflies. Certain aspects of butterfly behavior were discussed as well, and we were encouraged to take time to observe those behaviors. Mostly, they suggested we take time to just watch and behold.

I did just that, and what I beheld left me amazed...not just by the butterflies but by the wonder of me.

Butterflies are more than just a pretty face. Generally speaking, they are bugs. They do bug jobs. Specifically, they wander from flower to flower, picking up pollen and dropping it off, being the catalyst for new life. This is no small thing. Take away the butterflies, and a huge number of those flowers we love in the spring would disappear, too. They not only offer up their own beauty. They enable others' beauty as well.

I love that.

However, a butterfly's functionality isn't what made me stop and stare. Without thought, I was captivated by the art of the butterfly, not its part in creation but its creation by a purposeful Creator.

As I looked at the artwork that sat stone still in front of me, I became lost in the meticulous design of each scale on its wings, the blending of colors, and the perfection of its design. My eyes were fixed on this creation whose life span is a blink of an eye compared to mine. What I saw was not a bug or a nifty pollinator. I stared at a masterpiece formed by a God bigger than the universe with the ability to make something so tiny and delicate, and He knew every single scale on that butterfly's wings. He knew where it had been laid. His hands recreated it in the chrysalis, and He smiled when it took flight.

He watched with the same wondrous joy I did, and He was captivated, too.

If the God of all the earth cares that much for a butterfly, how much more me, the masterpiece made in His image, the one He longs to have as a companion? He holds the butterfly in His hand, but He holds me in His heart. Is anything more wondrous than that?

Gratitude 31--Life: Sacrificed, Provided, Eternal

Palm Sunday is an odd day for me. On one hand, I want to focus on Jesus. I want to meditate on the sacrifice of the perfect Lamb for me. I want to be in awe of the love that would give such an extravagant gift for one so undeserving.

However, my mind wanders. On Palm Sunday seven years ago, my dad went into the hospital...for the last time. He had been sick for some time. The last nine months had been very difficult. Multiple hospital stays, trips to the ER, and times of needing intense care spotted the calendar.

When I received the call from my mom that Dad was in the ER again and he was being admitted to the hospital, I went to be with them. I knew in my heart this was it. Our journey was done.

On Thursday of that week, my dad was released from the hospital. X-rays showed a mass, not pneumonia. A biopsy had been done, and we were waiting for the results.

We spent Easter with my parents. Dad sat in the sun, watched his small ground children hunt Lego blocks. In the wildness of the week, we never thought about eggs, so we improvised. He laughed a lot. I committed every moment to memory that I could. Treasures stored in the heart.

Late that afternoon, I took my children home. As much as I wanted to stay with Dad, I knew the little ones were tired and in need of rest.

In the late hours of Easter, Dad went home, too. As much as he wanted to stay with us, Jesus knew he was tired and in need of rest.

I suppose some might think my dad's passing on at Easter would diminish the day somehow, but on the contrary, it only makes it more special.

For me, Easter is not just about the salvation of my soul, although that is amazing beyond words. To me, Easter is about my dad breathing without struggling for air. It's about his being able to walk as far as he wants without chest pains, getting dizzy, or passing out.

Easter is about passing on the love of the Word my dad instilled in me to my children. Life continuing from generation to generation. It's morning coffee with the Dad of all time, sharing my heart, hearing His, and letting Him speak through me.

Easter is not just about what Jesus did 2000 years ago. It's about what He is doing now and what He wants to do.

It's life that changes sometimes in form, sometimes in place, but still goes on, and the hope that life can always be better here...and There.

And today I am filled with gratitude.

776. Jerry Dale Kelley--December 13, 1940 - April 21, 2003



777b. Top hats :-)

777. An empty tomb

778. Love that stayed on a cross

779. Doctors who do the best they can

780. Mercy

781. Breathing without pain

782. No oxygen tanks are needed in Heaven

783. Amazing medical staff

784. Lego "eggs"

785. Sunshine

786. Hope

787. Precious memories

788. Stories that still bring laughter

789. Provision beyond my ability to fathom

790. Laughter

791. Pictures and video

792. Life--here and There

793. Death--that makes me realize the power and blessing of life

794. Being able to tell people God is faithful, even when their hearts are broken

795. The Bible--The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

796. HUGE Easter Egg hunts at church

797. Matching dresses my mom made

798. Plastic eggs with a quarter in them

799. Dozens of boiled eggs dipped and colored turning from white orbs to rainbows

800. My grandma who didn't fuss about the Easter egg coloring mess

801. The reality of the resurrection in my life and my heart.

Yes, I stop and think about this week, what was done for me...what has been done IN me...the life given on a cross 2000 years ago so I can have life today and for eternity...and I am in awe...
Sunday, March 28, 2010

Part of the Crowd

Palm Sunday.

I am pondering the Triumphant Entry, the people who waved palms and adored Jesus, and then cried out for His crucifixion when He wasn't what they wanted Him to be.

Laying my heart before the Lord, asking Him to show me ways I refuse to accept His Truth when it isn't what I want to hear or be.

In His mercy, He answers...
Friday, March 26, 2010

Seeing Down the Path

It is 7:40 am, and I am sitting in a quiet house with the sun beginning to slide into the backyard and slip into the windows. It feels good to be quiet and still.

This is the first time in two weeks I have not started my day with a long to-do list sitting beside me, being added to as I think of things while trying to focus on my quiet time. It is the first time in two weeks I don't feel the pressure of "have to". It is the first time in two weeks I am not trying to figure out how to squeeze my family into the myriad of things to be done.

I just looked at the white board in my kitchen, which started the week saying, "Snuggle time for Robert and Mommy on the trampoline". It was our personal to do list. It stayed there a few days. We never did it, but now it is erased, and something else is there. It makes my heart sad.

Once again I tried to balance things, and I fell off the wire. I am hoping I didn't crash so hard that damage was done that cannot be healed.

This has not been an easy two weeks. While it has been productive, it has also been hard. It has stretched me, stretched my family, and left me with some questions. Today, while I am thanking the Lord for getting our family through the stretching, I am also asking Him what I could have done better. I am taking the whole thing back to the Life Director and asking how I missed it, where I missed it, what I should have differently. I need Him to show me where my priorities were wrong...and where they were right.

I don't believe it was all wrong. Just because something shakes up the status quo or messes with my comfort zone...or the comfort zone of my family...doesn't mean it is wrong or bad. It simply means the Lord is doing something new. He is leading down a new path.

There are two ways to go down a path.

The first way is knowing the path to take and barreling down it full speed ahead. That can be hard going. I have to watch my steps to avoid holes or rocks that can twist an ankle and possibly leave me stranded. I have to fight branches and limbs that grab at my head and face, and if I am not dressed correctly, the briers can rip my legs up.

The second way is to follow. When I follow, the Lord's voice comes back to me and tells me to watch out for the hole, step over the log, or duck under a limb. He knows when to stop so the snake ahead is well out of my path before I need to go by it. When God is leading, He is gives direction, leads my feet smoothly, and protects my head. I may not see the path, but I see Him, and that is all I need to see.

That is where I am this morning. Seeking Him. Making sure I am aligned correctly with Him in front. Listening carefully to be sure I hear His voice over the loud crash of my shattering comfort zone.

This morning I am not merely asking Him if I am on the right path. I'm asking if I am in the right place--behind Him, so that He is all I see. If He is all I see, then I see enough to get me where I am going safely.
Thursday, March 25, 2010

Where I'm Reading This Week--March 26, 2010

What Will We Miss? -- My friend Lisa Buffaloe is an amazing writer. She's also an amazing hearer of God's heart. When I read this, it was as though the Lord were speaking Himself, encouraging me on a hard day of transition, assuring me that sometimes we have to lay down good things to have His best things.

Lending a Hand When You are Down and Out -- All of go through painful trials, hard seasons, and times when we wonder what matters. Shae Hamrick has, too. However, instead of letting them engulf her, she lets them push her outside herself to see others' needs...a place where everyone finds comfort and healing.

You Just Have to Trust Me -- It's just good stuff. Trust me.
Monday, March 22, 2010

Gratitude 30--Being Still, Being Thankful

Last week was a frenzy, but I thought I handled it well. Today makes last week look like a walk in the park. To say it's been crazy would be an understatement, and I refuse to go crazy, so I'm going to be thankful.

Thank you, Father, for:

751. Whispering the importance of being still

752. Sunshine to warm me through and through

753. Amazing children who are rolling with the demands of today

754. Two empty CDs

755. Wilson's driving here to pick up the filled CDs

756. Melissa--O! Lord, such a woman of grace to cover me...

757. Grace, grace, and more grace

758. A husband who keeps telling me I'm normal, this is normal, and it is okay

759. Take out...sigh...

760. Women of grace who bless me even when I say, "I can't..."

761. Deliverance from needing to always say yes...even when it is impossible, punishes my family, and isn't a work of excellence for you

762. Leftover birthday cake

763. Just enough milk...

764. That some folks know when, "I can't talk right now," is honest, and it isn't about them.

765. Another chance.

766. Promotion

767. Hoodies

768. Ephesians 3:20

769. That right now, you are doing more than I can dream or imagine

770. My children's laughter

771. Prayers of friends

772. Snuggle time in the big bed that calms my soul and reminds me of Your heart

773. Birds singing

774. Giving thanks in everything

775. The calm that has come from simply making this list.

Lord, you are so good to me. You are faithful beyond words, and you are my escape, my very breath. I love you!
Friday, March 19, 2010

What I Need

I turned off the phone, curtailed the emails, and even cancelled coffee dates. The TV sat silent. Even the radio lost its glow. I sat in the quiet...listening.

The Lord was doing something. His healing touch reached deep into my heart into areas I truly thought were healed already. Gently, He opened wounds that left me breathless with pain. Mercy does not hide from pain when pain is necessary for revealing the need for healing.

In the quiet hours, we sat together, and He spoke to my spirit and mind, adjusting thoughts, addressing fears, exposing lies. He didn't try to fix the tears with cliches, nor did He try to make me above them because He was uncomfortable with the truth of them. Instead, He held on to me in unexpected ways...the perfect song at the perfect time, blogs that wrote exactly what I was feeling, human touch that did not let go but whispered, "It's okay."

We became intimate in a new way, a deeper way.

I wasn't okay, but that was okay. He didn't expect me to be. In that situation at that moment, I was exactly what I should be--hurt and confused. And instead of trying to pretend I was okay and life was rosy, I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing...

...Seeking Him.

Crying on Him.

Crying out to Him.

Being the broken, desperate me with deep needs that cliches and human advice can't fill.

Being the me He always knows I am...

...The me He adores.

...The me He longs to hold.

...The me He is always seeking.

In the quiet, He found me, and I found Him.

And He is exactly what I need.

Where I'm Reading This Week

Quotables...

"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side."--Amber Haines


Food for the mind and soul...

The Large White Sign on the Side of the Road--When you assume Jesus is talking to someone else...only to find He is really talking to you.

Paulette Reed: The Birthing of Miracles - Prepare to Deliver the Dreams of God--Has God given you a dream? This is an encouraging word with practical steps to see that dream come to pass and see the Lord release His plan in and through you. It's one of those words that is worth printing out and taping in your journal so you can go back and read it when you need it.

Our Need for Self-Approval -- I love when people sling the prison doors open and yell, "Here's the way out!" This post does just that. If you are imprisoned with discouragement because no one notices your hard work or compliments aren't forthcoming--at least not coming forth enough for you, you want to read this. It has the Truth to set you free.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Project Red Light Rescue

Project Red Light Rescue

My daughter is part of the Amped Jr. High group raising money to save young girls from human trafficking, slavery, and prostitution. To find out more, read below, follow the link, or contact me so I can send you more information. Thank you.

Amped Rescue
Sponsored by Amped Jr. High, a Gateway Church Ministry

Human Trafficking is more than just a cause, it is absolutely unacceptable that children are being kidnapped, sold, and forced into the slave trade.

While the world is waking up to this injustice and figuring out ways to prevent this from happening, there are millions of girls and boys already trapped in the world's red-light districts. It is estimated that there are about 1.2 million children involved in the slave trade in India alone!

This CHAMPIONS Project supports Project Red Light Rescue, a project of Sower of Seeds International, rescuing and restoring women and girls in Asia's largest red-light district.

It costs $1,928 per girl a year to rescue, house, provide medical treatment, counseling, feed, educate, etc. Imagine if you knew and were close to the girls who were trapped... How far would you go to set them free and restore their dreams?
Sunday, March 14, 2010

Where I'm Reading This Week

A Month-long Retreat--What a lovely way to steward the time!

Just give up! There's No Hope! --Great ways to find hope when it feels like there is none.

Choosing Life--Sometimes the right thing for someone else isn't the right thing for you, and sometimes the right thing is having the courage to do YOUR thing. One of my favorite reads lately.
Monday, March 8, 2010

Gratitude 29--Rain and Shine

When life hands me both...
731. Sunshine warming and lively
732. Raised beds being filled

733. Menfolk working together

734. Blossoms exploding

735. Peaches in the promise stage

736. The wondrous smell of plum blossoms

737. Onions planted and ready to grow


738. Flowers with room to grow

739. A game of dominoes adding up to great family time

740. Chocolate covered strawberries, a misunderstood request but a delicious delight anyway

741. A new BBQ place to try

742. Rain--nurturing and calm


743. Hard conversations that bring willing hearts closer

744. Warm showers inside after a long walk in chilly showers outside
745. Boys curled up in blankets in unexpected places

746. Nurses giving advice about earaches when the doctor's office is closed

747. Decongestants relieving pressure from tender ears

748. Two swimsuits just her size

749. Sleep, restorative and blessed
750. His hand holding on, even in the hard places
Saturday, March 6, 2010

Where I'm Reading This Week

A feast for the soul awaiting...



When You're an Affirmation Junkie--"Affirmation junkies get the greatest fix when fixing on Love Himself."--Ann Voskamp


Battlefield for our Mind and Heart--Excellent article for women who are unmarried, considering getting married, or are married. Our hearts belong to our Husband/husband. Are we keeping them set on Him/him? "His Holy Word purifies our mind and heart from the imperfections that this world taints us with. Let us be proactive (meditating on scripture)."--Traci Michele
Thursday, March 4, 2010

Noteworthy People

I love personal emails. The right words at the right time can do wonders for turning a bad day around or adding the icing to an already fabulous day.


As much as I love a good email, I love real mail even more. It is a thrill to open my mailbox and find an envelope with my name written with a human hand. There is wondrous joy in seeing that someone valued me enough to take time to address an envelope and jot down love on paper.


In the world we live in, love often takes a backseat and value gets hidden under to do lists. It takes a deliberate choice of action to make people the priority they need to be.


I choose to live deliberately.


During a lull in the day, I amass my supplies within my reach on the couch. Boxes with event labels on the end, pen, and home organizer notebook. My laptop sits closed on the floor awaiting its turn.





Beside me is my cup of chocolate milk or coffee, and before me, the TV glows soft with a heart-filled movie or TV show. The story of wounds too real becoming hearts restored plays on as I do my share to contribute to heart health.


I flip open the book to the blue sheets under the tab "Cards and Dates". Four columns per page. Each column a month of names, birthdays and anniversaries.





"Lord, show me the right card and give me the right words."


I open the boxes I have bought in bulk at the store--the only way I can find time or budget to supply so many cards.


I begin with next month's list. Three anniversaries. I read the cards sometimes more than once until I know which card goes with which couple. I write the name on the front and the date in the upper right hand corner--where it is easily covered by a stamp.


Next, I look through the names for children's birthdays. Then I find cards for the men (because there are always fewer of those). Finally, each lady on my list is given a card.





When I am done, three months of cards lay before me with name and date written on the front and a card tucked loosely inside.

Then I pull out my gold folder with the stationary musts. The stamps will be pulled out each week as needed, but for now, they stay snug and secure in their pocket. One sheet of return address labels is emptied as each envelope receives its own.




Finally, as the TV drones on, and I give it only fleeting attention, I open my laptop and pull up my contacts. Quickly, I place the envelopes in alphabetical order and start writing in names.


When the stack is finished, I reorder them according to dates, so they are easily pulled each week, stamped, and mailed. Before closing them, though, I pull out the seemingly impersonal card, pray for words of encouragement and wisdom, and write my heart of celebration, gratitude, and joy for the one who will find the joy of her/his name in human writing. Sometimes I write a prayer, sometimes a word of encouragement. Always something heartfelt.


It is my way of touching heart when hands are too far apart and letting someone know that in my life, they are noteworthy.
Monday, March 1, 2010

Gratitude 28--Affirming "all the good of God in my life"

Today Ann Voskamp again delivered deep Truth and solid food. "When I affirm all the good of God in my life, I am the one affirmed."

Because I'm an affirmation junkie...

Thank you, Lord God, for:

704. Anthony Evans music...worshipful...keeping me at Your feet
705. Hotdogs on plain white bread
706. Waking up to the sound of rain
707. Tears of healing
708. Friends to help process
709. Finished first submissions
710. Towels to soak spilled water on carpet
711. Questions
712. Answers that lead me deeper into You
713. Answers that do not change who I am in You
714. Ann Voskamp with words of Truth that find me in my hiding place
715. Friends, decades old, seeing the new things God is doing
719. Journals where thoughts become words...and sense is made
720. The luxury of voting for our government leaders
721. A warm bed
722. Hair clips
723. Breath
724. Dry socks
725. Clean water
726. Lunch with wonderful children
727. Cheers and shouts of joy when Lego magazines arrive after much delay
728. Wonderful critique buddies for sharpening writing skills and encouraging me on
729. Time in Your presence
730. Being consumed

Relevant

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Red Light Rescue

Imagine being a parent barely able to pay bills and someone comes to your home and promises to educate your daughter and find her a job. You agree, hoping to give her a better life. Then she disappears, and you find out she is not being educated. Instead, she is a prostitute, a victim of human-trafficking, beaten and abused daily. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn't it? For 100,000 girls in India, this is reality. To find out how you can help, please visit Red Light Rescue.



Quotables

"It's not the wind in our hair that makes us free. It's the movement of the Spirit, the growth of our invisible side." --Amber Haines

Great Things I've Read Lately

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My simple life plan: To live the kind of life that when asked, "If you could be anybody, who would you be?", I'd choose me.

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