Thursday, July 31, 2008

He delights in us!

We just need to be reminded from time to time that God delights in us!!

Here is a quote from Beth Moore’s Bible study “Stepping Up – A journey through the Psalms of Ascent” pg 58

“We live most of our lives unconvinced that God is really for us. We have little trouble picturing ourselves on God’s side, but for the life of us we can’t picture God stooping down enough to be on ours. Even though we’ll say things and sing things to the contrary, we live as if we believe down in the hidden places of our hearts and minds that God at best tolerates us. And luck we are at that!

We may rarely admit it, but our actions, anxieties, fears and insecurities suggest something else. Perhaps some of us don’t so much feel as if God is against us as we just don’t necessarily feel as if He’s for us. We conclude that the only person God is truly for is Himself and rightly so, we reason.”

Yes, He delights in us and is for us. One of my current favorite verses that keeps popping up is:
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will
take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over
you with singing." (NIV)

I really like how the Revised Version states it:
Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD thy God is in the midst of thee, a mighty one who
will save: he will rejoice over thee with joy, he will rest in his love, he will
joy over thee with singing. (RV)

The reason I like this version so much is that word “midst”, Hebrew word translated “qereb”– it can mean a group of people, OR it can mean midst, among, inner, inward part, of a physical sense. When He dwells within us, He saves us, rejoices over us, rests us in His love and sings over us.

Some of my other favorites from the Psalms:

Psalm 18:19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because
he delighted in me.

Psalm 22:8 "He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." (English Standard Version)

Psalm 37:23-24 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. (New Living Translation)

Some days, I just need to be reminded of that, so I wanted to remind you, too.

Have a delightful day :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kids funnies

On our return trip from the beach, I was beat and trying to take a nap in the front seat while John drove. Just about the time I drifted off to sleep, I feel a persistent tap on my shoulder from the back of the truck.

Hadden said, "Mom, I took a nap in the truck, too."

Are you kidding me? He woke me up to tell me that?

"Nice, Hadden"

Yesterday, Savannah was recounting a story to me about someone with We Care. She told me his name and I wasn't sure who he was, so I asked her if he was older. Then, realizing that she might compare him to herself, I asked if he was older than Daddy.

"Oh, yes, Mom - waaayyyy older than Daddy. He might even be older than you."

Yikes!!! How much older than Daddy does she think I am?
I just had to laugh - my only other option was to cry :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Beach day

This was just a really incredible cloud before we left for the beach. Has nothing to do with the beach :)

Trip south:
We had a wonderful time at the We Care headquarters catching up with our colleagues, our kids playing with the other kids, playing card games late at night, etc. We always feel like we are with family when we are there.

We drove down Thursday afternoon, dropped off our things in Atmore and then went to the Pensacola beach for the evening. The weather was nice and we enjoyed getting our feet in the sand. We were told on the way in that the jellyfish were really bad and we quickly confirmed that it was true. Apparently Hurricane Dolly was stirring things up and the jellyfish were plentiful. So plentiful that we were not able to even get in the water. Hadden was soon ready to leave because "we can't get in the water, and there aren't any seashells". Later we did find some shells up further in the sand.

Friday, we had our staff meeting and it was very interesting hearing the testimonies that were presented. Amazing and exciting to see how God works and to see those now professing Him! John and I had our segments (thanks for your prayers!) and then we had a nice supper together.

Saturday morning, we got up early and went to Navarre beach with some friends. It was a beautiful day. There were fewer jellyfish, more seashells so everyone was happy! I found my first almost whole sand dollar and then later found another. You have to understand that this has been a long outstanding goal to find a whole sand dollar, so I was thrilled.

Isn't the water beautiful? Aaahhh. It was nice and warm, too.

Another girl and I were out enjoying some of the deeper water (and looking for more sand dollars) when John came out and told us that they had just seen a shark pass by between us and the shore! I had just finished reassuring the girl that sharks are normally out in the deeper water and she didn't need to be afraid - oops!!

I am so thankful that John loves the beach as much as I do. That is one thing that we can definitely easily agree on!! :) These two enjoy it very much also.

The new-to-me thing that I have seen for finding some really nice seashells is to use a bait net to fish them out. On the way to the beach, we stopped at WalMart for drinks and snacks and also got two bait nets. It really is a handy little tool to grab that seashell without getting plummetted by the next wave that comes in.

It is also handy for catching things like this ... isn't he cute!!! :) Oh - and the crab, too!

Here is a close-up of the little fella. After showing him to the guys, we turned him loose back in the water. He was a pretty feisty little guy - when John was holding him, he was doing all he could to try to get a piece of John's hand. I should have video'd him (now I think of that!).

Needless to say, we could have stayed longer, but we really enjoyed our time away. Our doggies were happy to have us home and to be back at home. Now to catch up on the laundry and get back into the routine.

I was looking for the verses that talk about God setting the boundary for the sea and found these really cool verses along with it from Proverbs 8:22-36: Christ is the "I" - rest on these a little, they are very cool!

The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began.

When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water;

before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world.

I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,

when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.

Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.
"Now then, my sons, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it.

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.
For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the LORD. But whoever fails to find me harms himself; all who hate me love death."

I told you it was cool :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

My story

Our pastor has been ruthlessly hounding us to actually write down our story, to be prepared to give our testimony of Christ's faithfulness to those who will listen. Somewhat reluctantly, I wrote it down and here it is:

1. My life before Christ:
My life before Christ was fairly simple – follow the rules … stay out of trouble. Although my parents did not raise us in a Christian home, they were strict and raised us to be “morally” upright, for which I am thankful. As long as we stayed within the boundaries, life was good. I have 3 older sisters, so I quickly learned how to be “good” by observing what they got in trouble for and deciding not to do it. I mostly obeyed because I did not want the consequences of disobedience. However, trust me, I was not perfect.

2. How I met Jesus:
Throughout my early years, the main glimpses I had of Jesus were birthday cards from my Aunt Myrtle – a devoted Christian. Those cards talked about Jesus and were full of information of what it meant to be a Christian.

When my oldest sister, Debbie, went off to college, she rented a room from Aunt Myrtle and through that time became a Christian. Through Debbie sharing her testimony I became a Christian. The day I asked Jesus into my heart, He became my Savior – I knew I would live eternally in heaven with Him.

I wish I could say that is the end of the story … happily ever after and all that. But it wasn’t. When I went off to college, I was so tired of being someone’s little sister and following all of the rules that I rebelled and decided to define my own rules and boundaries.

Then I took a break from college to be a nanny in CT where I rededicated my life to Christ and was baptized. I returned home and then back to college – continued regularly attending church, but still just following the rules. I was no longer actively rebelling, but I still wanted the control of my life. I didn’t want to surrender full control to Jesus. I thought I knew all the right words to say and to look the part, but deep inside, I didn’t really allow Jesus to be Lord of my life. I visualize it as God on the throne and me pushing my way on so that I could sit there, too.

About 5 years ago, through a variety of circumstances, God finally got my attention that He doesn’t share His throne. Either I was going to let Him rightfully FULLY have it or I was going to continue to make a mess of things trying to control everything myself. Finally, I gladly surrendered and allowed Jesus to be not only Savior, but Lord of my life.

3. How my life has changed:
My life has changed significantly, although there are still times when I fight the urge to crawl back up on the throne. I am still not perfect – I would not be here if I were.

I have learned that:
- God is amazingly HUGE and capable to handle circumstances in my life.
- He wants us to be in relationship with Him, not just follow the rules.
- He cares for me, even delights in me.
- He is abundantly patient and loving and desires an even closer relationship with me.
- Even though hard times still come, He never leaves me.
- Knowing more about Him is a blast! His Word is alive, active and very relevant.
- His grace is enough.
- There is so much more to learn…

I have been richly, richly blessed with an amazing, God-fearing, God-seeking, patient husband who leads our family as he follows the Lord. I have been abundantly blessed with 2 nearly perfect children who are a continual example and reminder that teaches me about the Father’s heart towards His children.

Most of all, I can say He is truly all I need - He is my Lord and Savior!

So, now it's your turn ... what's your story?

1 John 5:10-12 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Amusings abound

Yesterday, out of the blue, Hadden asked me

H: "Mom, do you have to be pretty to go to Hawaii?"

Me: "No. Why do you ask that?"

H: "Well, do boys go there? Could I go there? Do you have to be cool?" (i.e. boys are not pretty, but I would like to go)

Me: "Well, yes, boys do go there. And of course you can go ... you are cool!"

H: (without missing a beat) "No, I'm not, Mom. I'm funny!" (guess you can't be both)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

End of School celebration

Summer Fun:
We finished our homeschool year a couple of weeks ago and finally had the opportunity to celebrate with a trip to McWane Science Center in Birmingham. Four floors of fun for all! John switched his schedule around so that he could join us and we also met up with another family that also does prison ministry. It was just such of a fun day.

There were some new things this time - a piano that you could play with your feet. Anyone seen the movie "Big"? I tried playing the tune (can't think of the name), but had many interruptions :)

Even the big boys had a blast :) This is a recumbant bicycle suspended on a cable that has a weight below it to keep it from tipping. The picture doesn't show it really well, but John likes to swing it from side to side to see how far he can tip it. John's pretending to be Batman!

I tried it the last time we visited, but once was enough for me :) Savannah is actually tall enough to ride it now, but she wasn't interested either.

Another fun new area - they had a play grocery store, cars to "drive", a dress up area, puppet area, place to plumb a house (we got some good practice in :), and many more new things.

Kind of a cool illusion - this is actually an accurate cube if you look closely. It looks kind of caty-wompus in the picture, but I assure you that John would build it "plumb".

This is an old favorite - playing with sand and a spinning wheel. I have to admit that it is fun.

How would you like to sleep on a bed of nails??

Another new one - a car repair shop. Hadden LOVED it, but Savannah got into it, too. Notice the license plate that she chose!

I told you that I would never tire of them ...

For those of you that know me well, this will be a huge shock to you ... I am pretty much caffeine free these days! That's right - not drinking coffee everyday. After ten+ years, I have decided that it is just too hot to drink hot coffee. We'll see what happens when the cold weather hits again.
We haven't given it up completely - but I don't have to have it everyday. Usually, on Saturday mornings, we splurge and I make a nice, hot mocha.

Bible study:
I have just joined a new women's Bible study with a group of ladies at church. We are doing Beth Moore's "Stepping Up" - a study of the Psalms of Ascent. Pretty interesting so far and I am hoping to get to know some people a little better through it. It is Tuesday evenings, and the kids are counting the minutes (literally), because they get to go to some friends' house while John is finishing up his class in the prison.

Staff day and beach day:
To say that the kids are excited for our upcoming trip would be an understatement! They are both packed (and have been for a week) and are busy making little treasures to take as gifts. Oh - and Savannah did finally find a bag that she liked.

Thankful for:
Hadden was in desperate need of some kick around shoes for here at the property. Obviously, I didn't want to spend on new shoes since they were intended for use in order to keep his new shoes nice. I went to what I considered a discount store and the cheapest they had were $20. Nope. So, in search of the perfect bag for Savannah, we went to a thrift store. We didn't find a bag for her, but I decided to check out the shoe department for Hadden and was absolutely THRILLED to find not one, but 2 pair of shoes that were his size and in nice condition. A pair of sneakers for $1 and an almost brand new pair of hiking boots for $3.88. I am praising the Lord that the exact shoes that we needed were there when we needed them!

House progress:
Nothing new to report. We did remove the forms, level the basement floor area and are trying to find someone who sells PlyForm and foam insulation ... John did find someone this morning, but it would be nice to find their competitor, too, to make sure that we are getting the best deal.

Signing off - I need to finish the dishes before heading of to Bible Study.

Have a wonderful evening!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

We Care Summer Read-a-thon

Note: This is a shameless plug for my kiddos :)

Savannah and Hadden are participating in the We Care Program Read-a-thon. They are reading for the month of July and are looking for sponsors. All proceeds benefit the prison ministry of We Care Program.

Savannah has a goal of 30 books. Hadden has a goal of 10 books.

If you wish to sponsor them, you can do so per page, per book, or by donation and let me know in a comment.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Still a little camera shy, but I got a few shots ...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Exciting (for us) updates

Biking! After many long, persistent attempts at biking, Hadden has succeeded! Yippee! For a few days, he could bike on his own, but he was having trouble getting started. He has now mastered it and is cruising right along with Savannah. Many nights, we have to drag him in after the sun is down :)

House progress! We have been in Alabama almost 9 months and after that long anticipated wait ... we would like to announce our new baby ... house! Hee. We finally have the footer poured and it feels good to have that behind us.

At what will be the front of the house, we have some BIG rocks which just were mean and would not budge. So in order to make the footer level, get below frost zone on the exposed part of the basement AND account for the rock, what will be the back of the house had to go fairly deep. To help offset some of that depth, we put some large rocks in the center of the footer before pouring.

Here we go! Please note that I am working ... in many of the pictures, I am doing a lot of observing :) We both worked our tails off that day, but it was worth it. John ended up doing a lot of the heavy duty pushing and leveling. I just tried to help out as much as I could.

Even though we just got started, the driver quickly saw that he needed to thin out the concrete in order for us to move it halfway across the house. Our site is a little tricky for getting the truck around where it would be most accessible, so we had to do a lot of pushing the concrete. I think we're already saying "havin' fun yet?"

Savannah even got in on the action! She was watching me smooth the top of the concrete and she thought it looked like fun (it is!). We had a little leftover concrete, so we put together a form for supporting a future deck. Looked like a perfect project for Savannah and she did a great job! This is how it looked before - I forgot to take an after, but I did shoot a little video of her in progress.

Here's the "after" of the footer - whew!

Savannah sporting her new look - bike helmet and grimy from the dust!

Here's Hadden's version! The picture doesn't show the full extent of the grimo's!

Lastly, we couldn't go without putting a handprint in concrete! We made little stepping stones for the garden with their handprints. All in all, it was a fun day. We were thankful that it didn't rain even though it was pretty hot.

Signing off for now - the kiddo's are patiently waiting for a bedtime story.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Dealing with disappointment ...

Savannah is in a state of disappointment right now. We offered both of the kids an incentive reward for reading books this summer and she has earned her $10 prize. The problem is, she has decided that she would like a small suitcase for her prize (btw -we are thrilled that she is not looking for yet another stuffed animal!)

It has come down to her frustration and disappointment because:
1. we can't find the perfect one
2. when we do find the perfect one, it is in a set of 3 and 3 times the amount of her prize
3. we can't afford to shop at every conceivable place finding the perfect one (we are a little remote here in AL and shopping is a ways away)
4. the vintage bag found on ebay is really not what she would want, but she is getting desperate!

So, hence, I am the deliverer of disappointment for her. Each day, she asks if we can go shopping - most days, the answer is "no". It is hard for me to continue to be the one who disappoints her, but I also know that she needs to learn some characteristics like patience, being content with what we do have, skills in making a good choice for a purchase (not just buying something because you want to buy something), etc.. (Hee - I guess I am also still a work in progress, too :)
Yesterday I was thinking about how that scenario might relate to our Heavenly Father. Does it hurt him to say no to us over and over? We fervently pray for things that we so desperately want and He answers with a "no" or worse yet - doesn't seem to answer at all. Can we trust Him and His plan even if it doesn't look the way we want it to? Can we wait on Him and His timing?

One little line from a poem by Amy Carmichael that I copied in the front of my Bible a long time ago came to mind. "The hope no disappointments tire" - continue to hope, even through the disappointments.

Here is the full poem (my sister, Teresa, first brought it to my attention)

From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when I should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free,
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.

From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified,
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.

Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire,
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.

And these incredible words from Romans 5:1-8 (emphasis mine - I've always wanted to write that!)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


(side note: on the funny side, I knew Teresa liked this poem, so I cross-stitched it on a wall hanging for her. I didn't realize it until much later that I had misspelled disappointment! She wouldn't and still won't let me fix it - no wonder I remember that line so well :)