Monday, October 19, 2009

Wild and wonderful





Our family took off today and toured a little bit of West Virginia. We went to Blackwater Falls and saw the windmills in Tucker County. The girls did well in the car even if Lydia did keep asking the infamous question, "Are we there yet?". It was very cold when we left Fairmont but the car was toasty warm and the weather was beautiful to look at the colorful leaves. We saw what I would consider peak leaf foliage and enjoyed every bit of it. We saw snow in the mountains and the girls thought that was great. We bundled up before heading down the steps to see the falls and found the path covered in slush, snow and ice. We made it down to the first look out and considered stopping but persevered to the next landing and caught just a few pictures. We are planning a return trip in the spring or summer when the steps are not covered in ice. In all it was a fun, spontaneous trip with the family I love in a beautiful state I call home.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Musical Monday

Our small group is reading and participating in the accompanying study for Francis Chan's book crazy love. Everyone seems to be enjoying it and finding the book very challenging. As a group we just finished chapter 3 this last week. In the study material Francis Chan challenged each of us to keep the cross before us, allow the sacrifice God made for us to invade our lives that we would recognize just how crazy a love God has for us. We sang this song at church yesterday and I was touched and reminded that the cross should be a shadow across my heart and my response to that love is a desire to know Him and spend time with Him.

None but Jesus

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won't refuse
Each new day again I'll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You're Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

When You call I won't delay
This my song through all my days

All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord Forevermore


Hillsong United

Here is the Youtube URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m62gfhirHH0

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Worship

God is Awesome! God has really been working in me over the past month and I have much to share about the journey but for now I just want to share with you three separate worship experiences.


Three Rivers Stadium, 30 thousand people (maybe more), sun shining, bright colored shirts, singing I Surrender All with a couple hundred other people. I had the unique privilege to sing in the Billy Graham Crusade choir when I was young. My mother and I sang in every crusade that week and I have no idea how many lives were changed but I am sure it was a lot. My own life was changed because the experience taught me how to love God through worship. My spirit and God's spirit were united in worship at that moment and it has left an indelible mark on my life.


Cement walls, tin roof, dust, heat, 50 African men, women and children singing quite loudly and emphatically the same song, I Surrender All. Spending time in a culture where people have so little yet give so much teaches you about worship. As a young woman on a mission trip to a very remote area I was surrounded by the truth of this world we live in, it is broken. Why there is such inequality simply because of where you were born or the color of your skin is beyond my comprehension. On that day I worshiped in the truth that my God is bigger than the present reality of this world and He deserves worship simply because HE IS GOD.


Zune in hand, earphones in, kneeling on the floor of my bedroom 40 minutes ago, listening to I Surrender All. There is something so sweet about those worship moments that occur unexpectedly and unknown to all but God. (Of course here I am telling all of you :) ) God is really doing some refining work in my life recently and there is part of me that is trying to do the refining work on my own. God is God and well, I am not. What business do I have trying, in my own effort, to do the work that only He can do? I want to bask in the love of God and truly learn to worship Him in both spirit and truth. I am blessed to have worship moments that are obvious markers of God's work in my life and that I have a God who is faithful to always meet me where I am at. There will come a day when I will meet Him face to face and will bow before Him in unending worship but for now I desire so much to practice that which I will do for all eternity. "But the time is coming - indeed it's HERE NOW - when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way." John 4:23 (emphasis mine) I am continuing on this journey to worship my heavenly Father in spirit and truth.

Monday, September 7, 2009

ABC's of God

Well, there was a slight "catch" to my last post. It really was just a build up to this one. During my summer reading I read 6 different books on the subject of worship. Some of them short and some of them slightly more in depth but all of them to the point, God is worthy of my adoration. I wrote the last entry quickly without much thought because I know myself so well. My true desire however is to know God more and more. I desire to be so well versed in the area of worship that I can praise God in the midst of any situation and allow His praises to continually be on my lips.

The ABC's of God is a worship exercise that I have used in the past and was reminded of in one of the books I read. It is used as a way to explore just how big God is and how many reasons there are to worship Him. The list can be endless so I will just choose a single word for each letter but I encourage you to come up with as many as you like.

A - Awesome (the only time the word is used rightfully)
B - beautiful (His name is all I seek)
C - Conqueror
D - Delightful
E - Everlasting
F - Father
G - Giver of life
H - Holy
I - Impressive
J - Just
K- King of All
L - Lover of my soul
M - Majestic
N - Never changing
O - Over all
P - Present
Q - Quiets me with His Love
R - Resplendent
S - Savior
T - Teacher
U - Unimaginable
V - Vast
W - Wonderful
X - Exciting
Y - Youthful (after all He IS the beginning and the end)
Z - Zebra (gotta admit they are pretty creative so why not praise Him for them)


O.K. so I was stretching it slightly at the end and I am sure you can come up with better ideas on your own but the point is that by the end of this short list I have 26 different reasons that God is worthy of my praise and I think that is pretty cool. Thanks for playing along and enjoy just how great God is.

Friday, September 4, 2009

ABC's of Me

ABC's of Me

A - Age: 29 - 30 in few weeks

B - Bed size: queen

C - Chore you hate: Laundry

D - Dinnertime: 5:30

E - Essential start-your-day item: cereal

F - Favorite color: orange

G - Gold or Silver: both

H - Height: 5'7"

I - Instruments you play(ed): trumpet

J - Job title: stay at home mom

K - Kids: growing and changing everyday and so glad I get to see it all!

L - Living arrangements: own a house

M - Mom's name: Dana

N - Nickname: Meg and Butterfly

O - Overnight hospital stay: 2 times

P - Pet Peeve: a cluttered house (unfortunately not one I can escape)

Q - Quote from a movie: "Does anyone have a peanut"

R - Right or left handed: right

S - Siblings: Alise and Laura

T - Time you wake up: between 6:30 and 7 on a good day

U- Underwear: clean.

V - Vegetable you dislike: lima beans

W - Ways you run late: almost never

X- X rays: never

Y - Yummy food you make: pizza, lasagna rolls

Z - Zoo favorite: African safari animals

If you read my blog consider yourself tagged. (That includes you Alise, Lorrie and Maria!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

school days




This may look like the girls are eating pudding but as a homeschooling preschool teacher they are practicing writing skills. Lydia is working on writing her letters and Emma is working on shapes. Having a lot of fun while doing it too! More on preschool later but have fun looking at the cute pics.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Finishing

Well, I didn't set out with the intention of waiting an entire week to post again but guess I just didn't get around to it last week. Anyway, here we go with some of what God is teaching me.

I just finished reading Joshua and have begun reading Judges. I think the richness of Judges is amazing and is even more amazing after reading what preceded it in Joshua. I unfortunately can much too easily relate to the book of Judges. I don't want to and hate to admit it but it is true. I have found three things that I can relate to in the book of Judges.

1. The Israelites didn't finish the work God called them to do. I can relate to this because many times I have quit before I attained a specific goal. It is obvious when looking at our society I am not the only one who quits at things. Whether it is a diet, exercise program, job, relationship or anything, we often don't finish what we start. I fall into one of two camps in regards to this. Sometimes I manufacture an idea that is really not from God meaning it looks good, sounds good and feels good therefore I need to do this. Without praying about whether God really wants me to do it I am not even on the right path let alone finishing the job God has for me. The other camp I fall into is allowing fear, pride, selfishness and so many other things to keep me from pursuing that which God desires for me to do.


2. The Israelites forgot all the wonderful things God had done for them. Why is it that when things are going well we forget that is a blessing from God and that we still need Him in our lives? And why is it that when things are going bad we see it as a curse and do not see how God is working in that situation and how He has worked in the past? Too often my momentary troubles tie me down rather than seeing the grand scheme of what God is doing in and through my life. God gave the Israelites a rich promise and they didn't remind themselves of it and therefore forgot about it. If I don't spend time in God's Word soaking in His love, grace, forgiveness and purpose then I too will forget just how far God has brought me and how much further He wants to take me on this journey.

3. The Israelites lived life totally for themselves. One of the key phrases in Judges is "all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes." I fight the urge to be selfish everyday. Not a day goes by where I don't have to recognize my own selfish desires and choose to put the needs of others above my own. How I wish I could tell you that I always make the right choice in those situations but I can't. Selfihness sometimes wins and I have to confess that sin and allow God to teach me to live my life as a sacrifice to Him in everything I do.


God is teaching me that to live a life that is glorifying God in every thing I do I need to finish strong that which God has called me to do. I must remember what God has done in the past and have hope for what He is doing now and in the future. I must live life for Him and put others ahead of myself. Philippians 3:14 says "I press on to reach the end of the race and recieve the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." (NLT) I like the wording of the second half in the NASB which says "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." I like the imagery of the "upward call". Living in West Virginia I have had the opportunity to run in some beautiful landscapes but let me tell you running uphill is not easy and the upward call is not easy. Righteous and holy living is not easy, it is simple but not easy. Simple because there is no question about where to go for help but what we learn does not always translate as easy. I am so grateful that just as God continually resuced the Israelite from the mess they got themselves into He also rescues me when I call out to Him. I serve a God who rescues people and He deserves unending worship as a result. I praise You Lord, that you have rescued me!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

wow....

Wow it's been a long time. I didn't intend on taking a vacation from blogging but I guess I did. I have several blog entries back logged in my mind so I hope to post more frequently till I can catch up on a 4 week hiatus. Anyway, we have been enjoying a nice summer. Parks, VBS, walks, swings, cook outs and those sort of things. One thing that has been a bit more relaxed for us this summer is bed time. Since the girls are a little older and adapt much better to staying up we have felt the liberty to enjoy some later than usual evenings rather than being tied to a specific bedtime. This is definitely a change for me because I am usually in my pj's by 7:30 and forget what it is like to drive in the dark.

On a not so enjoyable part, I've experienced the fight of man vs. nature. While out for an evening walk as a family on the rail trail I stooped down to pick a few blackberries and the next thing I knew I got stung by a bee (or yellow jacket/hornet/not sure what).I got stung 3 times: on the ear, the arm and the eyelid. Ouch! I kept running down the trail swatting at my head trying to loose whatever it was that was stinging me and I am sure I looked incredibly crazy. I was able to laugh at the situation but was cautious next time out. That is not my only sting of the summer. I stepped on a bee on two separate occasions. That definitely hurt more than the eye. Even though my eye was almost swollen shut I don't have to put pressure on it in any way.

The garden has been doing pretty well. We have lots of tomatoes and some cucumbers. Lettuce doing well and the green beans are just about down. Picked some zucchini but the bugs are now demolishing the plant so don't think I will get anymore. Lydia's pumpkin may not make it. The bugs have been pretty brutal and I don't know if it will survive. Well, thats all the time I have for today but look for a few different posts this week. Lots to write and lots going on. Until then, God bless!

Monday, July 20, 2009

musical monday

I am definitely a bit of a control freak. Ask just about anyone who knows me and they will probably tell you I am somewhat high maintenance. I don't go with the flow naturally, instead I plan and prepare and organize what I can. My kids have a very routine and expect that all the time. I know what to expect during most aspects of my day and prefer it that way.

God has really been working on this in my life. The area of surrender is so important to living life to the fullest yet an area that is under constant attack. I love God and want everything I do to be for Him yet I so often keep things in my control. The definition of surrender is: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc.; to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.); to yield or resign (an office, privilege, etc.) in favor of another.

Those are not things that come easy to someone who wants to be in control of everything and I dare say they don't come easy to anyone. I know that to show my trust and faith in God for all He has done and all He will do I must surrender to His will for my life. I need to yield control of my life to God. Considering all He has done for me this should be easy but it is not. It requires diligence to come to God each moment of the day and ask for His guidance and grace to do what He wants me to do.

I can tell when I write a post like this that is really important to me that I am a very inadequate writer. I am a verbal person who has a hard time translating my thoughts to paper but I know that God wants me to share with others because so many people can relate to the struggle of leading a fully surrendered life. The words to this song speak more eloquently than I to living a life of surrender and the many reasons what God deserves a fully surrendered life.

Jeremy Riddle - Sweetly Broken
From the album Sweetly Broken

To the cross I look, to the cross I cling
Of its suffering I do drink
Of its work I do sing

For on it my Savior both bruised and crushed
Showed that God is love
And God is just

Chorus:
At the cross You beckon me
You draw me gently to my knees, and I am
Lost for words, so lost in love,
I’m sweetly broken, wholly surrendered

What a priceless gift, undeserved life
Have I been given
Through Christ crucified

You’ve called me out of death
You’ve called me into life
And I was under Your wrath
Now through the cross I’m reconciled

Chorus:

In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness



Friday, July 17, 2009

Possibility

What is it about a good movie, book or TV show that draws us in? The excitement, the drama, the unexpected and so many other things. I really do enjoy all forms of media and can easily get too caught up in them when I don't set limits on the time I spend with them. I was not disappointed with the new Harry Potter movie this week nor the other movies I watched while visiting a good friend this week. I think the one word that really captures the essence of why we like books, movies, TV, etc. is escape. The ability to escape out of our own mundane, hectic, complicated and sometimes very difficult lives.

I believe that escape, or at least the desire to escape is a rather universal concept. Though escape is so much easier in a fast paced media fanatic world like ours, people from all walks of life from all around the world share a discontent about the life we have. Discontentment with jobs, children, status, position, money, marriage and host of other things battle within us and in the end many of us choose to escape the reality of life for fiction.

If you've been reading for awhile you know that I challenged myself to read more this summer. I've been doing pretty well. I've finished some good fiction and kept reading non-fiction like normal but added one more genre to my list: biography. I love reading biography's as a boost to my spiritual life. I find the difficulties, struggles and victories real people live out to be fascinating and inspirational. One of my favorite biographies (on a short list of those I have read) includes Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place. Corrie grew up in Holland and her family provided refuge for Jew's that were trying to escape the Nazi regime. She and her family were placed in a concentration camp which she survived. Her courage and story are an amazing testament to the glory of God.

I have no doubt that she wanted at times to escape her life and she had every reason to want to. One such time where escape would have been by all intents and purposes excusable was when she was met face to face with one of the guards from the concentration camp. After she was released she went all over the world preaching the love and forgiveness of Christ and at the end of one of her meetings she saw the face of a guard she recognized. At the end of the meeting he came forward to talk to her and told her where he had been a guard and that he was accepting the forgiveness that Christ had to offer. At this time she knew she could not forgive this man, she just couldn't. In my own words, she wanted to escape it all. The amazing thing is that she didn't choose escape because in her heart God did amazing things. She knew she could not forgive him but the God who lived inside her could. Nothing of her own could do what she spoke of doing but God is so much bigger than mere words, thoughts and feelings. She chose to escape into the possible of what God would have for her.

The possiblity to escape our day to day life is at our finger tips each moment of the day. I am in no way saying that enjoying the things life has to offer us is sinful, it's not. I am however challenging you to escape into the possibility of what is real, what is avavilable to each of us through a realtionship with Christ. There is never a dull moment when we let possibility become our daily escape.

Friday, July 10, 2009

vacation

Vacation was so much fun! We had a really great time in Williamsburg with my parents. We've gone on vacation with them for the past 5 years now and are very grateful that they are so generous to give of their time and finances to afford us the opportunity.

We had a lot of fun just hanging out by the pool, eating food, shopping, playing games and all around relaxing. We even got some sleep! The car ride there and back went really well. The girls entertained themselves with books, coloring pages, music, a movie they watched on a borrowed DVD player and sleeping. When we got there it was raining and cool so we hit the favorite shopping spots of The Goldfish store (Pepperidge farm discount store), Yankee Candle and The Candy Store. How these places are at all exciting to kids is beyond me but they are must see in our little family.

The pool was the place to be from then on. Lydia loved it and by our last day was swimming on her own (with floaties) and loving every minute of it. Emma on the other had took a long time to warm up to the idea but finally on our last swim she was standing on her own and having fun. Justin and I got to go out on a date and enjoy some time alone while the girls stayed with Hoppy and Manna. We did make it down to colonial Williamsburg on evening to see the Drum and Fife band parade through the streets. Lydia loved this and couldn't keep the smile off her face. We also got to see the horses that were in the pasture there and I even fed one some grass.

Not too much thought went into this post but just an update on how our vacation went. Overall it was a very fun trip that hit the spot of getting out of the ordinary daily grind. I loved every minute and hope everyone else has the opportunity to have some fun time this summer.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

musical monday

I had such a good day yesterday hanging out with Justin, the girls and some friends here and there that when the day was done I just wanted to sit, read a book and relax. So, even though it is a day late I wanted to post my musical Monday anyway.

I am very passionate that those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ would really take time to know who they are because of that faith. I want my identity to be solely based on my relationship with Christ and not my title, position, status, stuff, etc. My worth does not come from being good, knowing the Bible well, serving in ministry, influencing hundreds but from Christ alone. That being said I still get caught up in the comparison trap, "I should do more", "I need to be more like that person", "If I could get this one area down then life would be better", "I should have this thing called life figured out by now". Those are all thoughts that cross my mind and to be honest sometimes stick around. That is why I try to regularly do spiritual inventories to see what kind of lies I am believing and how they are keeping me from being the woman God wants me to be.

Recently I have been somewhat caught in the lie that because my life doesn't look like someone else's then there is a problem with me. It may be admirable to learn from other's and take steps to emulate certain aspects of their lives but it is paralyzing to try to become like that person. God has uniqquely desinged and gifted each of us for His purpose and I don't want to loose sight of that. His love is for each of us and is so high, long, deep and wide that we will never fully understand it all. (Eph. 3:18-19)

The song I am posting is by JJ Heller and even though I can't relate personally to all the lyrics I know how easy it is to get caught in a place where we wonder if anyone really sees us. I find great comfort in knowing that someone does see me and loves me. This song is also a call for me to show love to the people who I come in contact with each and everyday. So many people are hurting and need to experience the love of Christ and people in their lives. My prayer is that you know deep down how loved you are and that you would learn how to share that love with others.

Lyrics to Love Me :
He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story no one would believe
He prays every night, “Dear God won’t you please
Could you send someone here who will love me?”

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day
She’s the woman whose husband has run away
She’ll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would’ve stayed
And she says…

Who will love me for me?
Not for what I have done or what I will become
Who will love me for me?
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means

He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone
He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
“Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home”

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said
“I know you’ve murdered and I know you’ve lied
I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you’ll listen, I’ll tell you that I...”

I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew


Here is the youtube link to listen if you want:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nG7SPCVkKyY

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fruits of our labor

The girls and I took a Hoppy Manacation this week. For those of you who don't know what that means I will explain. We went to visit my parents (who are affectionately called Hoppy and Mana) in PA this week. Justin went to the National Pastors Conference in St. Louis and we took the opportunity to visit for longer than a 24 hr period with my parents and which happens very rarely.

The girls absolutely loved it. The weather was beautiful and they are now old enough to enjoy all the wonderful outdoor experiences that living in the country provides. We went for walks, rode bikes, played with sidewalk chalk, rode swings and slides and picked berries. The girls couldn't have had a better time. Sleeping was the only difficult thing about the trip (Emma didn't) but attitudes were still great the whole time.

I got to enjoy some time with my mom courtesy of my dad. The girls loved playing games with him and swinging with him so much that they barely missed me. It was wonderful and I am very grateful for the help and the break. Emma loved swinging with my dad and kept telling him that he was a "silly guy" because of the way he would stop her and make her laugh. He even took them in a ride down the hill in a big wagon. I say hill but really I mean their street. I think God created grandparent because that is a memory a mom like me would never create for fear of crashing, rolling over and the oncoming cars.

Lydia was thrilled to ride her bike as much as she wanted. She loves riding her bike but since we don't have a flat driveway she can only ride when we go to the rail trail. She thought it was bliss to ride all over the place and was very excited that there was an extra bike that she could bring home. I think the reason she liked the bike so much was because of the bell but I really can't blame her, it is pretty cool.

The true highlight for my parents and me was probably the joy of picking wild raspberries and mulberries. A new patch of raspberries was discovered this year in their neighbors back yard and there was another berry tree there. We picked a few berries and leaves from the tree and looked it up on line to identify what kind it was and found out it was a mulberry tree. We picked berries everyday and had and absolute blast. Lydia and Emma ate more than they picked but found the whole experience quite entertaining. Lydia would direct us to where there were more and Emma just asked to eat more. I think their digestive systems are still trying to catch up with them id you know what I mean. ;)

If you have ever picked raspberries or blackberries then you already know that it is tricky work. The thorns on the bushes are quite sharp and are all over the place. You have to be very careful to wear the proper clothing, long pants and sleeves, keeping in mind that it is summer. You also have to pick every day or two to get the ripe berries so the birds don't eat them. That being said I think that the effort is worth the prize. It does require planning, dedication and the knowledge that you will probably get scratched up in the process but I love it anyway. This is an obvious and shameless observation that applies to our everyday lives. Nothing good comes without counting the costs and keeping the reward in sight.

In the end, for dinner tonight the girls and I enjoyed a nice green leaf lettuce salad (from our garden) with fresh raspberries on top. The fruits of our labor tasted good!

Monday, June 15, 2009

quick update

Wanted to let you all know that I am indeed still alive and that the summer reading is going well. I've finished the Chronicles of Narnia and am looking for my next start. Reading at night is becoming a wonderful habit and I am glad that it is so enjoyable.

I've also been going out and running most days and had a wonderful hike with Justin and the girls today at Cooper's Rock. I am going out of town next week to visit my folks while Justin is at a Pastor's conference and the girls are so looking forward to that. The following week is our vacation with my parents so the girls will be getting lots of time with their Hoppy and Manna. After mid July our summer slows down considerably but we are in full busy mode for the next few weeks and it is great. I have some wonderful things to share and hope to post memories of my girls as they are both summer babies and will be turning 4 and 2 over the next month. Hard to believe but since I have not even come close to finishing Emma's baby book and probably couldn't remember the stuff if I tried I better use this as a pseudo memory book. I will post again soon but for now I am off to spend some time with my wonderful hubby. Happy summer!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Warm Weather Bliss

I love spring, summer and fall! I love being able to go outside and do so many things. My obsession with warm weather is far more recent than not. I always preferred cool and cold weather most but that changed when I had kids and found out it is so much easier to entertain them when the weather is warm. Lydia is a very active child and quite resistant to independent play so playing inside takes a great deal of effort and planning from me. There is only so much running around in our house I can do but when spring turns up she is very content to run around our yard, play in the dirt or sandbox and swing and slide for hours. We live so close to the rail trail that most days we find ourselves at the trail, feeding the ducks at Pricketts Fort or at a local park. Both girls love feeding the ducks and walking. I also love getting the exercise. Keeping up with an athletic girl on a bike is a really great workout.

Our garden is doing very well right now. All our veggies are coming along nicely but since it is my first time I am looking forward to learning a lot. I may find that I needed to spread certain plants out more but am looking forward to a great harvest and if it goes well possibly expanding to do more next year.

The summer is also bringing about some habit changes for me. I am currently compiling a summer reading list. I'm sure that it won't include much, but I am trying to not get caught up in TV reruns of shows that I don't watch. I don't let the girls watch more than 30-45 min. of TV a day but am not as good limiting my own. I watch TV most nights of the week after the girls are in bed. This summer I want to read during the time I would normally watch TV. I will however leave room for my 1 reality TV favorite, So You Think You Can Dance?. I happen to find the show so entertaining and artistic that I will make time for it. I am now halfway through the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis and am taking advice on other fiction that may be of interest. I am limiting myself to fiction for night time reading and non-fiction to its normal quiet time spot.

That's about it for the randomness of my life for now.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Musical Monday

Hello world. That's how I feel right now because it is so early (5:30am). There is really no reason to be out of bed yet because Emma is actually still sleeping but the birds were singing outside my window and I didn't want to just lay there so I am up and in a reflective mood.


I knew I wanted to do a musical Monday post today and was trying to decide what song to post. Yesterday's church service served as a wonderful time of worship and I am having trouble deciding which song to post because God used each of the songs to touch me and speak to me. I finally decided to post None but Jesus by Hillsong United because it seemed to speak well to some of the thoughts I have been having recently.

I believe that one of my weaknesses that for me is exaggerated as a stay at home mom is I often wonder what is "normal". I can't say I obsess, dwell or worry about it but I often consider how my average day compares to other women I know. "How do they make it work to play with their kids and get housework done? Do all kids act like this? Do all moms at least feel like reacting like this?" These are just a sampling of some thoughts that run through my mind. Now I KNOW that comparison is a trap that can paralyze a person from accomplishing much of anything. So much time is spent either comparing and feeling better about your life causing pride to swoop in and do it's nasty work or on the other hand feeling completely inadequate and often helplessness, depression and a whole other host of things take over. There are people in my life who I admire. I admire their spiritual discipline and biblical knowledge, I admire their parenting, I admire their creativity or their flexibility. I admire their emotional stability. These things are wonderful character traits but what I don't want to happen is to admire them so much that I want to become them.

God made me and loves me. That is a truth that is so important to remember when tempted to play the comparison game. In turning my attention to what is "normal" I often lose sight of what is important, what God wants me to do. I too often forget that God has put me here, gifted me with my husband and my children because He knows that He has given me exactly what it takes to do my job well and with creativity. Our pastor spent much time driving home the 1st point of his message yesterday and I couldn't agree more, "Our identity is in Christ - not this world" (2 Tim. 1:1-5). My life is not defined by the normalcy of it but by the fact that I am loved by the creator of the universe and share an intimate relationship with Him. There is no doubt that God uses other peoples lives to shape me and refine me, to help me see how to better spend my time and to help me make lasting changes but God is the One who is working in me to make me more like Him.

I really met with God in worship through this song because it helps me to remember to quiet the voices other than God's that fight for my attention.



In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that you are God
In the secret of your presence
I know there I am restored
When you call I won't refuse
Each new day, again I'll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know you're sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do your will
When you call I won't delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

I am yours and you are mine...

All my delight is in you Lord
All of my hope
All of my strength
All my delight is in you Lord
Forevermore

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Man I love

Today marks the 9th anniversary of the day Justin and I got married. I am so blessed to be married to the man I love and so privileged to be his wife. There are so many reasons I love him and I would like to share just a few.

1. He loves God - There really is no better thing than sharing a common goal, purpose and passion with your life mate. His love for God grows stronger all the time which encourages me to get to know God more.

2. He makes me laugh - I am uptight and way too serious so God knew I needed someone who knows how to have fun. He makes me laugh when I don't really want to and after 9 years I get a little less upset by his silliness and antics.

3. He is gracious and understanding - To put up with me he has to be!

4. He teaches me how to be the best me - I wish I knew how to write it better but that will have to do. Justin is so wonderful because he always encourages me to be the person God wants me to be but loves me in the process. He doesn't want to change me but encourages me to be who God made me to be. He values that God is working on me and in us. I love that.

I could keep writing more but as these are the top of my list for today and nap time is almost over I will leave it at that. I have a wonderful husband, lover and friend and am blessed by the union we share.

Friday, May 22, 2009

outside

Well, I finally did something that I never really thought I would do, I planted a garden. I do not have a green thumb but since we all love fresh produce around here I decided to convert a few flower beds into vegetable gardens. I planted green beans, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes and a few pumpkin seeds Lydia got when we visited the WVU farms a couple weeks ago. So far the sprouts look pretty good and the girls like to check on the progress each day. I am also motivated to do some landscaping work on our front yard. We don't have the best curb appeal and I want to change that. The only problem is doing it for next to nothing. If anyone knows anything about landscaping for cheap let me know because it is not my thing and really can't seem to come up with many ideas about what to do with a hill and cliff. Well, this is meant to be a short post so I will leave it at that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Memories, loss and comfort

"And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Romans 8:28)

There are so many verses and passages in the Bible that I can only wish to understand with my mind and my heart. The present reality we live in this broken world seem to contradict the words men wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Life does not always seems good, obviously not all situations are good nor can we always see the good that comes from them. This weekend was a reflective one for me as it marked the anniversary of the loss of my grandpa and my friends Bob and Tanna Slatt. All of these people shared common ground in their love for God and their faith in the person of Jesus Christ. They knew that God was good even when life didn't seem good. They shared a faith that God would provide for all their needs and they passed on the love of Christ to others they came in contact with. I have wonderful memories of all of them and know that they are at peace right now.

Whenever I hear about tragedy and my human mind cannot comprehend why God allowed it to happen I must turn to faith God has given me and pray that He would increase my faith. God is good even when life doesn't seem good.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quick update

I told you I would update when I finished the one hundred push up challenge and well I did it. This morning I took advantage of Lydia sleeping in and decided to do it just to see if I could. I knew that I had not worked up enough strength to do 100 real push ups but thought I would try for 100 girlie (on knees) push ups. I took a 10 sec break after the first 20 then again after the second 20. After 50 I was pretty tired and it didn't help that Emma was wanting me to read a book to her. I thought I would call it quits but after reading her a book (2-3 minutes) I felt much better and gave it another try. @0 break 20 break then the last ten. Emma kept crawling on my back but I was able to finish and felt as though I really achieved something. I posted it on facebook and even got a few others interested in the challenge. My goal is to try for the 100 real push ups before the end of summer but am only 1/4 to a 1/3 of the way there. Here is to good heath and physical well being.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Legacy

Oh how often in parenting I wish there was an easy button to push. I wish that I could push the easy button when I need a new attitude, when my kids need a new attitude, when I am tired or when I am hurt. I wish that there was some way to guarantee that my girls will turn out the way I want them to, respectful, obedient, worshipers of God. Since there is no button to push, I pray continually that the legacy I leave my children is one of contentment with God, love for others and passion for the lost. Unfortunately there are many days that those principles don't resound through my house and I once again am on my knees asking God to make up for my lack and the truth is I am all lack. Apart from God this task is WAY TOO BIG for me to handle.

As a reflection on Mothers Day I am reminded of the example my mother has given me. I've grown closer and closer to my mother over my adult life and know that she is a woman of faith and purpose. I'm not sure that she would say that she has always been that way though. She has grown so much in her relationship with the Lord over my life and she is always willing to pass on what she has learned to not only my sisters and me but to all the women she comes in contact with. One thing she and I share a passion for is that people truly come to understand who they are. As my pastor says, understanding who we are and who's we are.

My mother recently wrote a note that expresses a small piece of what God has taught her and I wanted to share that with you.

"One day while walking along the shore at Edisto Island, I was impressed by how different each sea shell was. The difference in size, color and shape made me reflect on the different experiences I've had in my life.
The white shells remind me of the bright spots in my life: my graduation, my wedding day, as well as the birth of my children and grandchildren.
The dark shells brought to mind the difficult times I've had to endure: the loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, and the ordinary stress of day to day life.
But, the shells I like the best are the broken ones. These made me think about the pieces of my life. As I look at these pieces, I can hear my Lord say, "You're broken my child, but without this brokenness you can't grow. As you let Me comfort you, you will learn to comfort others. I love you so much that I sent my one and only Son, Jesus to die for you."
Just like I went looking for these shells, collected them and put them in this jar, so God came looking for me. He calls me by name and promises that He will never leave me or forsake me. What a joy and what a simple lesson to be learned from a jar of ordinary sea shells, each one different, each one special, just like each of us is special to our Heavenly Father when we seek a relationship with Him.
I pray that this jar of shells will help you be reminded of how special you are to God. He calls you by name, too, and promises that He won't leave you either. When the creator of the universe says that, how can we doubt our purpose and significance?"

I am so blessed to have a mother who lives a life fully knowing who she is and who's she is. I want to pass the same confidence and faith on to my girls. I'm not sure what my mom was like when my sisters and I were toddlers, if like me she thought some days might drive her crazy and others made her cry and laugh and pray even more all at the same time. Whatever she was like then I owe her the gratitude of who I have become now. Thanks mom! I love you and covet your prayers for my family.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Innocence in prayer

I love learning from my kids. Lydia and Emma both teach me so much and open my eyes to so many things every day. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to spend each day with them and enjoy them. We make a regular habit to pray with the girls and most nights before dinner. Lydia and Emma both like taking turns to pray and I've actually learned about prayer through their innocent offerings.

Tonight before dinner Lydia wanted to pray. Most evenings I encourage Lydia to pray for 2 things she is thankful for so often her prayers go like this: "Thanks you for this day, for our family and our friends and then she says thanks you for any number of things whether it is a toy, person, activity or just about anything may pop into her little mind to be thankful for. A couple weeks ago when Justin had his surgery and was recovering we often prayed to his "ouchies". Lydia on more than one occasion prayed "Thank you for Daddy's ouchies". Lydia picked up a bit of a cold somewhere this week and has been coughing a lot so tonight at dinner she once again thanked God for Daddy's ouchies and for her cough.

When I hear a prayer that is saying thank you for not good things there is a part of me that wants to correct her but the truth is that the Bible tells us to be thankful, to rejoice in all things. Lydia is actually correct in her thanking God for things that are not so good. Paul wrote the book of Philippians from prison yet the word joy/rejoice shows up more here than in any of his other letters to churches. He is encouraging readers to be joyful in all circumstances. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God." (Phil. 4:6) That verse reminds me just how much Lydia's innocent prayer was a reflection of how God want us to approach Him with childlike faith.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Challenges

During a college interview I was asked if I was a competitive person only I can't remember how I answered. If asked the same question today I would give a responding yes. I like a good challenge and often am competitive with myself. I used to have musical and academic pursuits that fulfilled my competitive nature but now turn to more self focused goals. I am in the midst of two challenges right now. I've been working out pretty hard recently and can do a real push up more than a couple times so I am doing the 100 push up challenge. The goal is to perform 100 consecutive push ups. I am excited and am feeling very strong right now. It is a 6 week program and I am only on week 2 but feeling pretty good about it. I will let you know when I complete it. For more info you can always check out the website: http://hundredpushups.com/


The second challenge is a five year Bible study plan. Justin got me a NLT study Bible for Valentines day and I am loving it. I thought I was too much of a scripture snob to enjoy it but am loving reading it. They have a 5 year study plan in the back and Justin is trying to get some others on board with going through it together. Of course I jumped on board as I often do when a challenge is presented. I've read the Bible through a handful of times, and have studied several books but I am looking forward to studying the whole thing over the next few years.

I love reading scripture and allowing God to teach me new things through passages I've read so many times. As I read the creation account again this week I was/am amazed at the goodness of God. When I take time to reflect on just what God did to create this world and what Christ did to redeem my life I recognize that when I cooperate with Him He can do anything. God showed me this week the parallel of the creation story to my own life. My life can be brought from chaos to order, my darkness made light, my emptiness filled. Surely if God did this in the created world He can do this in me, His creation. The challenge to this is that I need to believe God is who He says He is and that He does what He says He does. Lord, You deserve all praise and worship the rest of my life.

Psalms 33:6-9
6 The Lord merely spoke,
and the heavens were created.
He breathed the word,
and all the stars were born.
7 He assigned the sea its boundaries
and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs.
8 Let the whole world fear the Lord,
and let everyone stand in awe of him.
9 For when he spoke, the world began!
It appeared at his command.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fresh eyes

One of the best things about being a parent and working with young kids for that matter is seeing things through their eyes. Everything is new, exciting and an adventure. Spring brings so many exciting adventures to our house. The birds, flowers, trees and I guess just about everything is exciting. Thursday we went to the Morgantown mall and Lydia stopped to pick a few dandelions on the way out. She loves dandelions and what kid doesn't. She considers dandelions picked anywhere but home special and gets very excited by holding them. Since the grass at the mall hadn't been cut yet the median at the entrance is full of dandelions. She was so excited to see them and said "That looks like such a pretty garden."

The dandelion is considered nothing more than a lawn weed. It spreads rapidly and is not a desirable part of a well kept lawn. I myself have always had a special place in my heart for dandelions and other flowering weeds. I even forced my family to go to the wildflower farm on a family vacation growing up. I'm not sure but it is just the thought that there is beauty out of something that is supposed to be a mistake. I need to know that not everything is perfect but there is still the opportunity to have beauty. Not everyone will see beauty in the dandelion but maybe we should. If we look at it with the eyes of a child it is just a flower but if we allow the influence of our intellect our experiences and others around us to cloud our judgment it quickly becomes nothing more than a weed.

For me there is something special about looking at flowering weeds and seeing the beauty. I like to think that the weed has been redeemed for a different purpose than just being a weed. There are many weeds in my life that God wants to redeem and make new. He alone can work all things out for the good, in fact this is His desire for my life. Although the work Christ did on the cross is complete He is still working in my life and the lives of all who have placed their faith in Him. He is still in the process of creating beauty from ashes, making all things new and completing the work He began in me.

As I posted previously my desire is to live and organic life, live in a way that is real and honest. To live this way will undoubtedly not be a weed free existence. God is not done with me yet. Some weeds need to be taken out at the root which can be a painful experience but there is no better gardener to perform this task. He also wants to use my painful weed experiences to show others the beauty that comes from a surrendered life. I need to take an inventory of the weeds in my life and allow God to have His way. There will be some uprooting of certain behaviors and attitudes that don't belong in the garden of my life but there will also come some new beauty to my life.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday reflection

I woke up early this morning (5:30) and spent some time in reflection before the day started. I wanted to read Isaiah 53 and really focus on what it is Christ did for me on this day so long ago. I love reading that chapter and trying to really recognize what a huge gift God has given me. Verse 11 really stood out to me today, "When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins." For me it seems that the longer I've been a Christian the more I recognize just how sinful I am. I recognize my attitudes and thoughts cause me problems and how much God wants to be invited into every area of my life. This verse struck me because I recognize that apart from His saving grace I have nothing righteous in me. The work Jesus did on the cross made me righteous. Nothing can be added to or taken away from that. I do not deserve this grace and extravagant love but God wanted so much to be in a relationship with me that He took upon Himself the punishment for ALL MY SIN. I couldn't decide which of those words to emphasize because each is so important. I have indeed SINNED, it is indeed MY fault and He has removed it ALL. Today I will rejoice in knowing that.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Organically me

O.K. I'm going to let you in on something that I have been working on here and there over the last several years. I have read 3 different books (maybe more) that have encouraged me to come up with a life mission statement. As a person who likes to put into action good ideas that I read I have attempted to do this a number of times. Never have I come up with something that is "organically me" shall I say. Of course I don't think it is an easy task to come up with a mission statement. There are so many things that I want to do and be and work on. In the past I always saw examples that were so good but when I tried to use them I never felt ownership. If you have a quote that means a lot to you or a statement of faith that you have seen elsewhere that is a great thing but I wanted something that was completely me.

There are many definitions for the word organic, most of which deal with life growing without pesticides and such but one definition of organic is
arising as a natural outgrowth. That is the kind of life I want to live. I want to live organically with all of my life being a natural outgrowth of my relationship with Christ. There are so many things that clutter my life and take my focus away from where it should be, therefore living organically should acknowledge those things and more forward. Circumstances, relationships, struggles and sin are all areas that when dealt with and allowed to can bring about the natural outgrowth of Godliness. 1 Timothy 4:7 says "discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." There may not seem much correlation between discipline and natural outgrowth but I think there is on further inspection. The Bible is full of stories of people who were real, transparent and organic before God but who also chose to discipline their lives to follow God's commands. I want to explore the depths of organic living with Christ in a world that desires to see what is real.

This brings me to my life's mission statement. I wrote this in a moment of inspiration on February 21st of this year. It has been29 years in the making and may be revised as the years go but completely reflects where I am at right now. May this inspire you to consider what your life's mission statement is and what level of an organic life you want to live.

Megan's Mission Statement: I desire to know and love God more and to consistently have my actions, attitudes and thoughts reflect a passionate love for Christ, recognizing this can only be accomplished because of and through His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring cleaning

I love spring. The time outside, the emerging colors, the freshness of everything around. Things that have been asleep are waking up and it is a wonderful feeling. I also like to clean so the appeal of spring cleaning to me is wonderful. I know a woman who does fall cleaning since she is in her house more in the winter but I still find spring to be my favorite time to clean up.

The funny thing about cleaning is that it never lasts long. I have done what I consider to be deep cleaning on the top floor of our house. I've moved furniture, dusted, scrubbed and vacuumed most every nook and cranny. I find cleaning to be fun and enjoy completing a task, I just wish that all the effort that went into it lasted longer. The girls rooms for instance took no time at all to be cluttered and messy again. I don't consider the basement and garage to be my domain for cleaning but I still like to have some kind of order there as well. I am so grateful that my girls inherited the cleaning gene from me and can only hope that it lasts as they grow.

I also take some extended time in the spring to look at my life and set some new goals. Maybe that is because the new years resolutions have died down a bit or have been completely forgotten but whatever the reason I like to take an inventory on where I am at and where I am going. I've been spending a lot of time reading Romans recently. As I confessed in my last post that I have been choosing a poor attitude as of late that does not reflect the blessed life that I have nor the God honoring life I want to lead. In my personal spring cleaning I've been feeling the stirrings of some dreams and desires that have been dormant come alive. It is always a bit scary to recognize the passions that seem to fade away in the midst of a busy life but sometimes even scarier is the possibility of being called to actually act on those passions.

Romans 5:2 says, "Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory." I live an incredibly blessed life and I want to recognize even more just how much this is an undeserved privilege. The grace of God in my life is an incredible transforming power and I know that it is completely undeserved. I also know that God desires for me to face with confidence and joy that which He has called me to. What a blast it will be to share in God's glory with all who place their faith in Him. So as I head in the direction of cleaning up my attitudes and exploring God given passions I will walk in confidence and joy where He leads.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

attitude adjustment

Well, I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things with posting blogs. I have a couple I need to edit and post and several back logged in my brain but I am putting them on hold right now to blog what is going on in my life.

I had a really bad day yesterday. It was one of those days where nothing is really wrong but the way you react to the things that happen. I chose to have a bad attitude and wallow in my own selfishness. The saying goes "If momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" and well, it is very true. The girls just followed suit and threw tantrums and fits all morning. I was able to collect myself during my quiet time during the girls nap and when they woke up felt much better. I confessed to a friend on the phone later about my attitude and that was also a big relief.

It so happens that the topic we are studying this week in Starting Point is Grace. I think the message Andy Stanley delivers on grace is perhaps the clearest and best gospel presentation I have ever heard. There is so much about grace that I take for granted, for instance, just how much I NEED IT. As I reflect on just how awful my attitude was yesterday and how it affected my behavior I realize that I need His grace to change and I need His grace during this refining process. I don't want to have a complaining attitude. I desire to be a woman who is grateful for the countless blessings I have.

In order to really "get it" I started reading the book Lord, Change my Attitude (before it's too late) for the second time. In it the author says "Realize this: that very adversity that you so often complain about is the thing God wants to use to keep your heart close to His. In His grace, He grants adversity to bring us close to Him." I don't really want to go into what my poor attitude was about yesterday but I'll tell you these words really spoke true to my heart. How can it be that His grace is the thing that leaves us in a difficult circumstance or situation? How does that really bring anyone closer to Him? Choosing the right attitude means a lot to God. One needs to look no further than the nation of Israel in the Bible to see how God feels about right and wrong attitudes. So for now I am working on adjusting my attitude to what is right and choosing to have a grateful heart rather than a complaining one. I don't know what adversity you are facing now but it is possible that it is not a mere coincidence that you are experiencing it right now. God has a plan and a purpose and although it is not always easy His grace is sufficient to see you through it. Thanks for letting me share.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Musical Monday

I am selfish. I don't want to be and wish that I wasn't but I am. I think I have always known it but am continually seeing how pervasive it is in my life. Getting married certainly peeled off the first layer of recognition of my selfishness. I had someone else to consider and think about. Kids, well that is a whole bunch of layers there. Recognition that I not only have someone else to think about but that they are learning and modeling what they see. That can often be a scary thought. I desire to be selfless and to love others above myself. That is not an easy thing to do since my sinful nature wants to put self first. Reflecting on 1 Cor. 13 and putting my own name in place of the word love quickly puts into perspective just how far I have to go towards truly understanding what love is. I am so grateful to serve a God who is selfless and has gone to such great lengths to show me His unconditional love.

Justin just put some JJ Heller on my zune and I heard this song and knew immediately that I wanted to share it. As I listened to her music I was thinking that if I was a song writer I would write like this. I could so easily relate to so many of her songs. Since I am not a song writer I will let her words speak for me.




Lyrics to Only Love Remains :
Scenes of you come rushing through
You are breaking me down
So break me into pieces
That will grow in the ground
I know that I deserve to die
For the murder in my heart
So be gentle with me Jesus
As you tear me apart

Please kill the liar
Kill the thief in me
You know that I am tired of their cruelty
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains

You burn away the ropes that bind
And hold me to the earth
The fire only leaves behind whatever is of worth
I begin to see reality
For the first time in my life
I know that I’m a shadow
But I’m dancing in your light

Teach me to be humble
Call me from the grave
Show me how to walk with you upon the waves
Breathe into my spirit
Breathe into my veins
Until only love remains


I still couldn't link the video to my blo but here is the youtube address if you want to hear her sing it. I highly reccomend using 3 minutes to view it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5Hd211fJOw

Still here

Yes, I am still here. I have meant to blog so many times but have chosen other things (sleep) over the need to update. I have so many things to share but will have to put them in several different posts.

It has been a busy couple weeks. Justin has been down and out for about a month and although he had surgery last week he is still having a hard time recovering. It is amazing how much I depend on my husband and have even taken him for granted. It has been a hard couple weeks not having his help around the house and with the girls and wish him a speedy recovery for himself but also selfishly for me.


I will take more time to post later but wanted to let you know that yes, I am still here. Thanks for all your prayers!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kids are fun

I am a long time fan and collector of children's books. I had several classics before we had kids and obviously have quite a collection now that I have an excuse to buy them. I find that reading kids books and watching kids movies is one of my favorite things about having kids. I may be a sap but each time Marlin tells Dori that he has to tell Nemo how old see turtles are, I cry. I get chocked up each time Jr. Asparagus sings about how much God loves him on both his good and bad days. However, since we don't spend too much time in front of the TV around here (at least I try) my favorite thing to do is read books. I have read to the girls since they were infants and they love to read. I definitely know I have done something right when Lydia asks each day when she will learn to read and when Emma wakes up and the first thing she asks for is a book. Both the girls read books alone, together, with us, in the car, with anyone who has an open lap and, well you get the idea. Often the girls fall asleep with books and Emma doesn't have a lovey but always wants a book in her crib.

I am always amazed at how much God speaks to me through children's books. Maybe that is because that is the level I think on but I like to think it is because He always intended for life to be simple. Notice I did not say easy but simple. I think so often we are the ones who complicate and make life difficult. My favorite kids books range from Diary of Worm to Giraffes Can't Dance, classics such as Frog and Toad collections to Harry the Dirty Dog. Dr. Suess books stand at the top of the pile. Seeing how today is his birthday I thought I would reflect on his writing.

Lydia's recent obsession has been with Horton Hears a Who. She watched the movie when she spent the night at her grandparents and has talked about it ever since. The message of the book is simple. "A person's a person no matter how small." How true that is. I can think of many spiritual applications to that statement.

Galatians 6:2-3 - Share each other's burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

Romans 2:11 - For God does not show favoritism.

Matthew 7: 1-2 - Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

I know that if I just applied that truth, a person's a person, I would have to think and act differently than I sometimes do. God's grace and love don't care about status, position, title or age. He created us to know Him and does not care what is going on around us but what is going on in us. I think that is God wrote that sentence it might read more like, "A person is loved no matter how far." He traveled the distance from heaven to earth to be in a relationship with us.

Since I spend so much time reading kids books I am always looking for life principles that fall in line with living life the way God intended it to be lived. I could go on and on about all the lessons I have learned through my kids books but I don't really have the time right now so I will leave you with this, next time you pick up a kids book allow your heart to hear what God might be trying to say to you.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Driving Miss Megan - part 2

Well, it has been a week since the challenge of obeying all traffic laws to the exact letter of the law was given. I failed. As I said in the last post I believe myself to be a good and obedient driver but did not follow all the laws all the time. I found out I often don't drive with my hands at 2 and 10. I often drive with one hand or one hand at 10 the other at 5. I don't always obey the speed limit on side roads and I found out I am influenced to disobey by others. Whether those people are in the car or other drivers I sometimes change the way I drive based on the people around me.

Two questions were given to reflect on: 1. Is there a benefit to following the rules? and 2. Is it possible to do everything right? Both questions seem to have easy answers and maybe I should leave it at that, but if I am taking time to blog about it you know I won't leave it at that.

1. Is there a benefit to following the rules? Yes, obviously. There is a great amount of protection to ourselves and others when we obey traffic laws. As I realted this to the spiritual assignments in the study (Starting Point) I recognize the same is true of God's laws. I spent some time reading through Psalm 119 which is all about God's laws. I was taken aback by how much the Psalmist loves God's laws. I can't say I am always crazy about the commands and instructions God gives in His word on how I am supposed to live my life but I do know that there is unbelievable benefit for those who do. I deisre to make Ps. 119: 7 which says "As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!" (NLT) be my life motto. I want to be refined and shaped by God's laws that I may have a more intimate realtionship with Him.

I believe unfortunately that God is often seen by many people as a big guy in the sky waitng for people to screw up and make mistakes. Rather God gave us the law to benefit us and help us grow closer to Him. Andy Stanley states it this way in the companion message that goes with this lesson, "God gave us the law not as a condition of a relationship but as the confirmation of one." I love that. I heard it first a few months ago and it completely rocked my world. God doesn't want me to obey because it is the only way to have a relationship with Him but because I already have one. He has already made a way to heaven through Jesus Christ and it has nothing to do with how well I obey His laws. Praise God!

2. Is it possible to do everything right?

James 2:10 tells us "For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws". Pretty powerful verse. God loves me enough to have made a way for me to be in a personal realtionship with Him and He gave His commands as confirmation of His great love for me.

The question that has been asked by people since the time of Christ then is this, why do we need to do what is right? If we live by grace why not keep sinning? It is true that we have a war going on inside of us between the Spirit of God who lives in us when we place our faith in Jesus Christ and our own human nature. It is also true that we can choose which of those voices to listen to. Romans 5-8 speaks directly to these issues. The encouragement I find among these verses is this, "Therefore, dear brothers and sister, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live." (Rom. 8:12-13) I can choose to live by the Spirit rather than my sinful nature. The more I understand that God puts in place rules that will benefit my life because of His great love for me the more it is my hearts desire to listen to the voice of the Spirit rather than the often louder and more obvious voice, me.

No, I did not follow the exact letter of the law this week but you can be sure that I thought about it a whole lot more. Each time I broke the law I was aware of it and had to give an account as to why I broke it. I hope to gain a close enough sensitivity to the Spirit of God that I am aware of my sin, I grieve over my sin but that I live in the freedom of grace to recognize that nothing I do can earn me a realtionship with God. His grace shows a love so amazing there is nothing I could ever do to earn it or lose it. Thank You God for Your amazing love!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Driving Miss Megan

Eight years ago when I got married I had to take a driving test. Being from out of state I was required to take the written test again. I figured I would pass since I had been driving for 4 years already but there was a little bit of doubt. I did pass with flying colors. The questions seemed easy enough and I had four years of experience so there was no problem.

Our small group is going through the Starting Point curriculum and this week we are studying law as it is found in the Bible. We were given a very interesting challenge. We were challenged to follow the exact letter of the law when driving this week and report back. I would consider myself a good driver and a law abiding citizen but I was shocked by some observations I made on the way home last night. Within 2 miles of leaving the house we meet in I was met with a realization that I don't know traffic law as well as I thought I did. I can blame it on PA roads since they probably don't have as many of these signs, but I was met with a sign I didn't really understand. I saw the yellow curve sign with the speed 15 posted on it. I was not sure if that speed limit was a caution/warning, a suggestion or the law. I was obedient and slowed down to 15 MPH which seemed super slow. I came across several of these signs before I got to the interstate. I also noticed that on many of the back roads I didn't even know what the speed limit was. Luckily that is not a problem for me when driving WV back roads at night.

I had no problems the rest of the way home but it was amazing how much I go on autopilot when driving. Do I really know the law when driving or do I just do what feels right? What good is a sign to me if I don't know how to read it and what it means? I am looking forward to studying law this week and know that God has new and exciting things to teach me. I'll keep you posted about what I learn.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mmm, Mmm good

I had tomato soup for lunch today. Now, I've made homemade tomato soup and store brand but in my opinion there is nothing quite like Campbell's tomato soup. I don't know if it is the nostalgia of Sunday night soup before choir practice that I often ate growing up or what but I still prefer it above anything else. I was just recently able to convince my non-picky eater to eat it by adding pasta alphabets and calling it alphabet soup. I have also branched out to get my picky eater to eat tuna melts by just calling it a cheese melt instead. (my girls LOVE cheese) Truth be told I am blessed to have two girls that eat most anything I put in front of them. Of course they have favorite foods but for the most part they are not picky. My philosophy of continuing to put food in front of them, whether they eat it or not has proven to work for me. I kept putting green peppers in front of Emma and now she eats them, she acquired the taste. It is a work in progress, I suppose, to get my kids to eat the way I know it is healthy for them.

I am also a work in progress and am so glad that God keeps working on me to get me to be where He wants me to be. I love the verse in Philippians 1:6 where we can really see that God is not done working on His children, "And I (Paul) am certain that God, who began the wood work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." (NLT) There are several things that I love about this verse. God is not done with me. I wanted to title this post as "I know that He knows that I know that He knows". For me that is part of what this verse is saying. God is letting me in on the secret that He knows that I am a work in progress. Although it is obvious by my thoughts, actions and attitudes that I am a work this is proof that it is His plan to be that way.

I just got a NLT Bible for Valentine's day and really like the way it was translated in this verse. "...will continue his work until it is finally done..." I don't know about you but sometimes I am waiting for that finally to be here now. I desire more than anything to please God, to know Him and to do His will, yet sometimes I get easily distracted by my failures in all those areas. His work in me will not be final until Christ returns. I am a work in progress and I am so thankful for that. God's Word is full of hope that He is working on us and that we are not alone in our struggles. Paul confessed to the church in Rome that "I have discovered this principle of life- that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 7:21-25b NLT) I can't count the number of times that I have thanked God those words are in the Bible.

God is working on all of His children. His word tell us that He is not done yet. Scripture also reminds us that we will have to turn to Jesus Christ as the answer to give us power in this war that we all fight within ourselves. The question I asked myself as I served my girls food they didn't like at one time but now eat willingly is what is God continually placing before me in order to help me choose the things that are healthy and good for me? Recognizing the consequences of my words and actions, recognizing my pride, recognizing my judgemental attitude are all areas that God is placing before me and working on me so that I would make the wise choice. As my Father I know He is giving me good things to "eat" when I read and apply the Scriptures to my life, but I don't always want to change. I sometimes want to keep eating my own diet of selfishness and pride because it is easy and tastes good. Yet it is in His grace that He loves me enough to discipline me towards a righteous life (see Heb. 12:5-11). May I continue to grow in my awareness of the things that God wants to continue working on in my life until the final day comes. His scripture really does have very tasty morsels and to that I say it is Mmm, Mmm Good!




***As and aside, if you do have picky eaters in your house don't consider me an authority on how to help change that. My girls really don't fall into the "picky" category.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Life together

I love my Church Family! I have that as a piece of flair on my fb page and I really mean it. I enjoy learning and growing and developing relationships with the people I go to church with. I just got back from our small group game night and had a really fun time. We played a rather short game of cranium in which the guys prevailed and then played Rock Band. Although (as I've posted before) I'm not much of a video game player, in the right atmosphere I do find them entertaining. Tonight was one such time. I played the drums and also got a chance to be the lead singer once. I would need more practice to do well at the drums but got a pretty easy song to sing. It was so much fun to just hang out with friends and laugh together.

Rick Warren says, "Following Christ includes belonging, not just believing." I've found that to be true in my own life. Although my relationship with Christ is personal it is not meant to be lived in private. I need other people around me to share with, laugh with, cry with and hold me accountable. I've grown so much by learning from the people God has placed in my life. I am truly blessed to go to a small group that encourages me and accepts me. I want others to experience it too. I am a work in progress and I am so glad He continues to bring people in and out of my life to refine me and sharpen me in order that I reflect Christ more. Thanks to all who have been and continue to be part of my process.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Finding Epaphras

I love the word of God. I've been reading it daily for 10 years now and I am always amazed at how much God continues to speak to me when I listen. It never seems to fail that I can read something over and over again and yet learn new things. Something new will pop off the page at me as though God is speaking directly to me. In fact, through the gift of the Holy Spirit inside of me, He is.

Yesterday was another one of those days. I've been reading through the new testament over the last month and am in Colossians. I ran across this verse in 4: 12 -"Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills." This is an obscure verse about a mostly unknown guy. I found out from my Bible dictionary that Epaphras was a friend of Paul's who helped evangelize cities and found churches. It was his news about the churches of the Lycus valley that moved Paul to write the letter to the Colossians.

What spoke to me about this man is that he was a man of prayer. Mentioned in other scriptures as a slave of Christ and fellow prisoner he obviously devoted his life to the cause of advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ. He prayed for the church of Colossae. I think the fact that I've just finished reading a couple good parenting books and have been increasing the frevency of my prayers for my kids that this man stuck out to me. I am so very fortunate to have a Epaphras in my life and in the lives of my children. My mother (and father for that matter) pray daily for my family. They, like Epaphras, pray that we would mature and be assured of God's will. I can't thanks them enough. That is may prayer for my children as they grow. I desire for them to know God and experience Him in a personal and life changing way. I desire so much more for them than I can sometimes even attempt to pray so I am grateful that I am not the only person praying for them.

I want to be an Epaphras for my children and even pray for the future generations that are to come in our family. I believe everyone needs people in their lives to contend in prayer for them. We can all learn to pray more fervently and passionately because we pray to a God who really cares. I must admit I often pray selfish prayers that focus only on myself or I want to pray for so many things that I get overwhelmed at where to start or what to pray for. Epaphras prayed I am sure for many people but most importantly for those he loved and knew. Chances are that if you read this blog that I know you well or am on a journey to knowing you well. I am letting you know that I want to be an Epaphras to you, I want to contend in prayer for you and your family that you would stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. I hope you have other Epaphras' in your life and I ask you to ponder if God is calling you to be an Epaphras to someone else in you life right now. Please feel free to let me know if you have any specific requests that I can lay before the throne of our very great God. Grace and peace be with you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Our small group is going through the Starting Point curriculum right now and one of the going deeper sections suggested looking at this website wwww.fullyrendered.com

I was very touched by the images. Enjoy!

P.S. Sorry I don't know how to make the site a link. My computer skill are once again shown as inadequate.

Monday, February 2, 2009

More closet space

Well, I have started the venture of potty training Emma. We actually started last Wednesday to be exact. I am pleased to announce that she had an accident free day today. I am so pleased with the progress that she has made in a few short days. I began with the thought that if it didn't work this time I could always start again in a few weeks or even wait till summer. (I had a false start with Lydia once before the real thing). Emma has proven able and willing on this venture. I thought about calling it quits on the second day but I am so glad I didn't. I even got her to use a public potty yesterday at church. I know that there are many who would call me crazy to even try at 19 months but both my girls have done very well at this age and it saves on the cost of diapers. My attitude with Emma has been much better with Emma than it was with Lydia. I was so stressed about it with Lydia but this time I have truly been able to keep a level head and haven't been upset once. I know I have grown. There are a number of other things I have grown in recently, but more on that later.

Now I have to decide what to do with all the extra closet space I will have once the changing table is moved out of Emma's closet. I am so excited to have more space for toys and other kid stuff and be able to get it out of the way. Yeah for more room to organize. Also, if anyone knows of someone who needs a changing table let me know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Odds and ends

Well, there are several excuses that seem to have led to my lack of blogging recently. Humor me while I fill you in.

1. It is cold. Really cold. Being that my computer is in our cold basement, I have stayed away from dressing super warm to brave the frigid temperatures. I know that it doesn't take long to blog but that leads me to #2.

2. As a perfectionist I somehow believe that my blogs have to be about something. Yes, I know that the best sitcom of all times is about nothing but I don't have a whole lot of nothing going on in my world either.

3. My grammar is horrible. I am so glad that blogger has spell check or I would be in trouble there too. I love writing in my journal and have done that for many years but knowing that no one would be reading them makes it much easier to write about everything that happens. It has been a long time since I had to write anything that needed to be good so the pressure of a blog that could be read by more than myself can cause me a bit of stress, so go easy on my writing ability please.

4. I've been spending a lot of time thinking, reading and praying recently. This is obviously a good thing to interfere with blogging. I'm through the first 5 books of the new testament and am almost done with Isaiah since the beginning of the year. (That is a lot of reading where I come from.) I'm amazed that although I have read the Bible through several times, things are starting to make more sense and click more now. God has been speaking to me and I've had some really wonderful times of private worship. I feel enriched and have been walking in the Spirit so much more. It really is a God thing and I am so glad He meets me where I am at.

So, I guess what I am saying is that yes I still exist in the world of blogging and hope to post more soon about all that God is doing in my life as well as more about nothing too. Catch you later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Church girl

As a non video game kinda person I was a bit chagrin when Justin introduced Lydia to Mario Cart on the Wii. Though they don't often play it I was in the room the other day when a very funny series of events took place. Justin was playing Mario cart and Lydia was holding an extra remote "playing" along. Like I said she doesnot play often but being the bright and observant little girl she catches on to things pretty quickly. Justin tells Lydia that he is looking to get the magic bullet as a reward when he hits certain boxes. (The magic bullet helps you go faster.) He got what he calls the magic bullet and Lydia says something like "Yeah daddy, you got the magic bulleitin". Now that is a girls who has been in church her whole life. I got a kick out of it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Musical Monday

I worship and serve a very good God. I am so thankful that His mercy is new every morning and that His patience is like nothing this world has to offer. Today I was looking over a prayer journal from the past year and a half and was unfortunately saddened by the fact that I am still struggling in so many of the same areas. I know there has been growth in my life but it also shows that our problems don't just go away. It takes time, effort and hard work to make lasting change. If you didn't notice I will let you in on a secret, as a christian I left something really important out of that list. In fact I left the most important person out, that is the Holy Spirit. By following the promptings of the Holy Spirit inside of me, that is the only hope I have to experience real and lasting change.

I tend to rely on my own strength and try to make a whole bunch of changes at the same time. I know that His mercy and grace are there for me and I need to cling to Him in all my decisions. Inevitably when I rely on myself and/or make too many changes at once I end up defeated and unchanged. I need to choose to do good and rely on the only one who can help me. I the love HCSB translation on Joshua 24:15 which says, "choose for yourselves today the one you will worship". Sometimes I worship the perfect schedule in which I get everything done that I wanted to, or I worship the emotion that I feel at any given moment. I know that I sometimes worship things, stuff or ideals more than the God who gave me life. It is in those times that I so badly want the Holy Spirit to convict me and remind me that it is my choice to choose TODAY, right now who I will worship. The worship team at my church played this song this week and God really spoke to me through it. I thought I would post it here for all to enjoy. Who or what will you choose TODAY!


Found love beyond all reason
You gave Your life Your all for me
And called me Yours forever
Caught in the mercy fallout
I found hope found life
Found all I need
You're all I need

The time has come
To stand for all we believe in
So I for one am gonna
Give my praise to You

Today today it's all or nothing
All they way
The praise goes out to You
Yeah all the praise goes out to You
Today today I live for one thing
To give You praise
In everything I do
Yeah all the praise goes out to You

All we are is Yours
And all we're living for
Is all You are
Is all that You are Lord