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Crying for Communion…..

June 28th, 2010

 

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This past Sunday morning during church, a sweet little boy in front of me started to cry as the communion tray passed him and his mom wouldn’t let him have a cracker.  As I heard him crying, I thought to myself, “God longs to hear all of us crying for communion…..crying to spend time with Him……crying to be His and only His.”

I know his tears weren’t necessarily because of a deep desire to commune with God.  They were tears for a cracker. But realizing this, made me think about the things that usually make us cry and whine.  Aren’t our longings normally for silly things like crackers?  I know mine are.

I’m hoping that the next time I find myself longing for something, I’ll remember the cries of this little boy and hear God whisper, “Long for communion with me..not “stuff.” 

Help me Lord to cry out for communion with You,

heartBG2

 

I spent some time in the garden this morning pulling weeds..lots and lots of weeds……

And as I sat there on my little stool, I couldn’t help but think of how similar our lives can be to a garden.  God has placed so muck potential inside all of us and yet the devil can just creep in and take over with all kinds of thoughts and schemes…..

What do we do when faced with life’s “stuff?????”

I have friends who are dealing with some huge issues right now:  parenting concerns, marriage issues, health problems,and the list goes on and on and on……..I found myself praying as I pulled each weed, longing to feel God’s closeness as I sat in the midst of His creation.

Jesus found Himself in a garden time and time again..walking with His Father.I have to believe He dealt with His own set of weeds as He walked on this fallen earth.  

I think the devil would love to just pull us down with the weeds he sends our way.  Defeated Christians are okay with the devil.  They don’t get in his way.  They hide under their weeds trying to gasp for sunlight and air just enough to make it through the next day in their garden.

But this morning as I looked at my real garden, I knew I had a choice to make just like we do in life.  Tackle the weeds or give into them.

Today I chose to tackle them.  And guess what!?!?!  I discovered blooms on my cantaloupe, lots of green tomatoes promising a future harvest, runners on my strawberries venturing out to create new plants, and peppers almost ready to be eaten!!! 

The chapter for today is so fitting:

It is called, “Don’t Give Up!”

I love  the passage that’s included:

Deuteronomy 1:6-8

The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates.  See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-and to their descendants after them.”

God was telling them it was time to get up and move on!   They had been in the wilderness long enough!

Do you ever have a wilderness feeling?  I sure do!  I can have a great day one day and then feel so defeated the next.  I have a story to share on another day about something I’m dealing with right now that has become a weed in my life, but I’ll save it for Monday.

For today, I just want to encourage you to pull a weed or two in your life!  Stand up and face the mountain or the wilderness or whatever seems to be surrounding you and claim God’s power as you put one foot in front of another knowing that God is with you.  He’s bigger than any mountain, able to rescue you from any wilderness, and definitely not stopped by the devil’s weeds of doubt, fear, insecurity, loneliness, or whatever you may be feeling.

I love you all.

I remember reading this over and over while Nick was going through chemo and facing transfusion after transfusion.  I read it now in my grief and it still brings great comfort.

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters,
       I will be with you;
       and when you pass through the rivers,
       they will not sweep over you.
       When you walk through the fire,
       you will not be burned;
       the flames will not set you ablaze.

In order to win the battle for our mind, we have to remember that God has already promised us the victory!!!!! 

Praying for you today,

heartBG2

Faith’s Journey…….

June 23rd, 2010

 

olivias photoshoot 0034 My cousin’s son who is a photography major has been visiting with us for a week, and we had the opportunity to take Olivia to a friend’s photography studio and practice his photography skills one day last week.  (Thank you, Debbie.)

Olivia hasn’t been feeling very well for a while now, and this was her first outing in about five days so it was just good to get her out of the house doing “something fun.”  Out of all of the pictures, this might be my favorite.

Olivia is such an “American girl” now that seeing her in somewhat “Indian” attire makes me smile.

I remember when Olivia was about four, I was in the kitchen with her one day and she looked at me very seriously and said, “Mommy, when I grow up I’m going to go back to India and tell people about God, and Jesus, and Spirit.” 

And then, without missing a beat, she added this deep question,

“What is Spirit?”

It was all I could do not to laugh.  This sweet little four-year old girl was dreaming of helping her people learn about Jesus long before she really understood just how badly they needed Him.

I remember thinking, ‘”I don’t ever want to forget this moment.”

When we visited India last spring and witnessed firsthand the worshipping of so many different false gods, I realized for the first time just how much Olivia’s life had truly been changed by becoming a part of a Christian family.

When I saw an Indian mom crying as she lowered her baby’s head onto a dirty, concrete slab in front of their “god of death,” as if she were begging the god to somehow save her child, my heart broke. 

When I saw shrine after shrine lining every road we traveled on, covered in trinkets and silk flowers that had been left by poverty-stricken Indians who were trying to appease this god or that, I felt powerless.

Here I am, a 44 year-old woman who knows so much more than Olivia could have ever known at the age of 4, and what am I doing to help India?????  This question haunts me over and over again.

I feel that it is time to share a dream I have with all of you.  This dream started as I thought of India and our own Olivia’s journey.

See, Olivia’s middle name is Faith, and she is definitely a girl of great faith.  Her journey in this world started when she was found by a policeman after being dropped off a bridge in a small village in southern India at just a few days of age.  From there, she spent 6 weeks in a nearby hospital and then was moved to an orphanage.

Her journey took a very different turn a year and a half later when she flew here to American with Tim who had gone to pick her up from a world where she had already begun chanting praises to false gods during regular ceremonies within her orphanage walls.

Since being a part of our family, her journey as “Olivia Faith” has truly been a journey of faith in so many ways.

Olivia’s journey has known cancer from the time she was four – watching her buddy and big brother Nick begin his own tough journey at the young age of 7.

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Olivia’s journey has known the joy of being baptized into the family of God.  I remember when she decided that she was ready to give her life to Him..she was so determined and so happy.  She cried tears of joy as Tim shared with the church that she had decided to accept Jesus as her personal Lord and Savior…..her little head barely peeking over the baptistry as Tim spoke.

Olivia’s journey already includes deep grief.   She misses Nick so much.  Only with a strong faith in Heaven has she been able to regain her smile and joy.

Olivia’s journey has embraced Nick’s foundation, and she longs to play an active role in its ministry.

I think the fears over the past few days regarding Olivia’s health have been a catalyst in awakening within me this dream I have had for some time.

I realize daily that millions in India need to know about God, Jesus, and “Spirit.”  (The Holy Spirit!)  How can I and how can you help these people?

Well, here’s my dream:

Olivia “Faith” has a journey.

At the same time, each of us are on our own journey of faith.

So, my dream is called “FAITH’S JOURNEY.” 

Olivia Faith’s Journey……

Your Faith’s Journey……

My Faith’s Journey……..

If you are willing to join me and Olivia on this journey,  I am asking that you please consider cleaning out your drawers, closets, sheds, and garages.  Then save all of your items for an opportunity to join in a nationwide yard sale month for Mid-India Christian Mission.  I am going to have posters made through Nick’s Foundation so that you can print them out online.  These “Faith’s Journey” posters will tell about the work in Mid-India and explain how our yard sales will help the people there learn about the love of God.  You can decide if you want to give all or part of your yard sales’ profits to the mission work.  I will give you the address for Mid-India’s forwarding agent so that your donations will go directly to them.  I’m hoping that everyone will take pictures at their yard sale and send them to me so that we can put together a power point to share on YouTube…the power of Faith’s Journey.

I am praying that we can raise at least $50,000 for the Mid-India Christian Mission Orphanage.  Just imagine the hundreds of kids who would then be better equipped to share the love of Jesus with their country.  By stepping out in faith that God will use our time, energy, and money in ways we never dreamed possible (much like the Bible story of the boys’ fish and bread that fed thousands), I believe we will begin a journey in our faith that is life-changing.  Who knows?  This project may begin reaching a different country every year!!!

Please pray for the people of India and start cleaning now!!!

By mid-August we sh ould be ready to launch

“Faith’s Journey.”

olivias photoshoot 0035 I believe we will all be blessed as we step out in faith, willing to give so that others can know God’s love.

Luke 6:38

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Thankful for a God who stretches me to the point of waking up to His dreams,

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Relieved and Thankful…

June 22nd, 2010

 

Dr. Cook called Tim while I was on the road to mom’s and said that Olivia’s ultrasound was clear!  Her blood work was normal except for low iron, and her protein level in another test had dropped significantly!!! The low iron level explains why she has had such a lack of energy lately.

Dr. Cook has talked to a specialist in Columbus and they believe Olivia has “Orthostatic proteinuria” (Martha and Tiffany, you were right!)  This is a benign condition that you can look up on the Internet if you are curious to know more.  🙂

Thank you for your prayers.  Olivia will start multi-vitamins and extra iron now, so hopefully her bouncy self will be back soon! 🙂

Praying you find many ways to cherish today,

As I left our house in the early hours of the morning with Olivia in her jammies under a blanket, I couldn’t help but recall all the early morning trips with Nick in his jammies under a blanket.

Sitting in the waiting room of the hospital lab with Olivia and seeing a sweet but familiar face preparing to call me to do pre-registration paperwork sent chills through me. As I sat across from her desk, handing her my insurance card and answering her questions, I tried to act as if it were just a normal day, a normal moment………….

And then a voice came over the intercom.

It was the chaplain, asking everyone who would like to join him in prayer, to take a minute and pray.

As he prayed words that spoke deeply to my soul, I sat there with my head bowed and tears quickly filled my eyes. I knew that the prayer was just what I needed. A prayer of remembrance for all God has done in my life and how I have to trust Him on uncertain days.

As the prayer ended, the receptionist looked at me and said, “You look familiar. Where have we met?”

I wanted to pretend I didn’t know.

I also wanted to answer her question.

For a minute, neither was possible.

I looked at her and said, “I can’t answer the question right now, or I will cry.” But it was too late. The tears were falling, and she was apologizing, and there I sat in the stupid lab reliving my past with the tears I had held back for nearly two years in that very room as Nick had faced transfusion after transfusion and test after test.

I was finally able to say, “My son came here for blood work many times……He passed away………. Nick.” As soon as I said, “Nick,” she whispered, “yes,” as if suddenly his sweet smile had entered her mind, and then I felt better. Just knowing she remembered him and all he had faced gave me a feeling of safety that I needed in that sterile environment where medical procedures can unknowingly overshadow a parent’s hurting heart.

Poor Olivia. When I returned to my seat and she realized I had been crying, she said, “Just so I won’t be nervous, are you crying because of me?” That made me laugh a bit, and I explained what had happened and she felt better.

The truth is: We’re waiting now for some test results on Olivia that we’re praying are okay.

She had some very high levels in a test yesterday and the doctor wanted to run some more detailed tests today.

So, today, I’m trying to live while I wait with my phone in my hand.

Having feelings that are too familiar………………………

the battle between trust and fear

the battle between peace and restlessness

the battle between worrying and not borrowing trouble

Olivia is asleep. She has peace.

I am praying that God gives me this same childlike faith so that I can pack a suitcase for a trip to my mom’s and simply rest in His arms that have held me through so many restless days.

Claiming a promise God has kept time and time again in my life-

Is. 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known,
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them
and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do;
I will not forsake them.

And praying that you feel Him leading you too,

Though words seem unattainable on this Monday morning, my heart continues to overflow with love for all of you and a feeling of thanksgiving for a God who gives Hope to our lives even when life doesn’t make sense.

My cousin’s son has been visiting with us for the past week from Oklahoma. He is a 19 year-old, college student who is majoring in photography and graphic design; and we have been enjoying SO MUCH having him in our home.

We’ve had a list of all the things we wanted to do and places we wanted to go while he was here, and it’s been fun to check things off the list day by day. Tomorrow, I take him back to my mom’s house and then Thursday I have to tell him good-bye, probably not seeing him again for at least a year.

I can’t help but think of Heaven in an extra-powerful way at times like this-

And how great it will be to never have to say good bye or make a list of things we want to do in short amounts of time with friends and family.

Heaven-

Freedom from to-do lists
Never-ending hellos
No more goodbyes

So, today, I say “Hello Monday,” and embrace it for all it has to offer – trusting that one day I will say “Hello” to Monday and never have to say good bye.

Praying your Monday is filled with reasons to smile,

PROVERBS 23:7

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he…….

Romans 8:5

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

This week’s chapter really boils down to these two Scriptures.  If we can somehow come to grips with these words from Proverbs and Romans, we will be on our way to winning a very life-changing battle…

a battle for our  mind.

First, what we tend to think about and how we tend to think will play a major role in who we are and how we feel and live.

Second, if we are living with our minds focused on spiritual things, we will begin living in accordance with the Holy Spirit.

Joyce Meyer says that for Christians

“right thinking is a vital necessity.”

When we are physically sick, we go to the doctor so that he/she can help us get better based on the symptoms we are experiencing.

We need to get to a place in our walk with Christ where we begin to see symptoms of spiritual sickness and DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM too.

floss your mind

If we don’t change the way we think, we are not going to become fully His.  The devil will continue to have a stronghold over us, and the world will see us as an inconsistent person who wavers between strong faith and weak faith, joy and lack of joy, contentment and discontentment, etc.

The last verse I’d like to share from this chapter’s study is

Matthew 12:33

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit.”

(Just had to add this note:  We will be in this battle for our mind as long as we live on this planet…..some days we will feel like we are winning, some days we will struggle……I believe success comes when we realize that the days that we feel like we are winning outnumber the other kind of days.)

Praying for you as I thank you for your prayers for me (we are in this battle together),

heartBG2

 

REVELATION 8:1

When he opened the seventh seal,
there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

I love that there are verses like this in the Bible.

They remind me that God, the Creator of Everything Seen and Unseen, loves drama.

As humans I think we are often looking for the next great movie, the next great book, the next great play……………

Because we love a dramatic story.

Well, God inspired the most dramatic book ever and I hope you’ll find time to sit and read a bit of it today.

Just imagine a movie where someone opens a sealed envelope and for 30 minutes after that there is complete silence.

Don’t you think we’d sit and watch closely as the scene played out with no conversation-only actions.

I recommend reading the rest of Revelation 8 sometime.

In complete silence.

It’s a powerful chapter.

Have a wonderful Thursday and remember that any drama in your life is being orchestrated by the King of Kings……………………………..He has a beautiful plan.

Trust Him.

Love you all,

heartBG2

 

Last night my mom and my cousin’s son (Tanner) arrived at our house for a visit. It’s the first time Tanner, who lives in Oklahoma, has been to our home in his 19 years of life! I was so excited to have them arrive!!!

We stayed up til after 2 a.m. playing a board game and laughing!

So, this morning when I rolled over and looked at my clock and saw that it was five minutes til nine, I had a little panic attack when I realized Peppy (one of our dogs) had a 9 o’clock appointment to get his summer haircut. Just saying that sounds a little silly, but it’s true. Peppy is one of those dogs that needs a good shave about every four months or he’ll be miserable under the load of his fur.

Well, the sweet lady who cuts Peppy’s hair lives about 10 minutes outside of town, so I threw on clothes, ran a brush threw my hair, and didn’t even take time to brush my teeth…………I was out the door, scooping up Peppy who was innocently eating dog food on our back porch, and on my way to Flo’s within five minutes.

When I arrived, Flo and I had a good laugh when I told her what had happened, and I took a minute to look at her new front porch columns that she has added since her precious husband went Home to be with the Lord last spring.

I went back in to tell her how pretty everything looked, and we started sharing some little special things that have happened regarding her husband and Nick since they have not been here with us.

Before we knew it, we were both in tears and just sharing story after story of how God has shown us His Presence and their presence time after time. It was wonderful!

One thing led to another, and Flo began sharing about how all of our words are recorded which reminded me of something I had heard years ago from a preacher who was a scientist about how he believes that walls and doors and trees actually absorb our words and that God will be able to play them all back on the day of judgment.

I’ll never forget sitting and hearing this sermon when I was probably only about 11 years old. I hadn’t really thought about it in a long, long time. I love how God can bring things back to us as adults that we learned in our childhood.

All of these unexpected morning events have challenged me in two ways:

1. Think before I speak. God stores up our words.

2. Remember that as I am parenting, I am filling my kids’ lives with the memories they will recall as adults……..what kinds of memories will they be brought back to………….memories that draw them closer to God or memories that pull them away?

Shew!

I had no idea my morning was going to start like this, but I am so thankful that it did!!!!

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to have a little morning revival with Flo!!!! Thank you!!

Praying your day has a revival tucked into it somewhere too!!!


Malachi 3:16

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

Luke 19:40

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

REVELATION 20:11-13

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

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camp and kittens 0001

On the way to pick up Olivia for camp, Todd and I had to notice when we saw this van in front of us at a red light.

Todd grabbed my camera and took this picture!

Every time I read the words on this van’s window, I am struck with the reality that no matter how hard we try, “Perfection…..or Perefection” just isn’t within reach while we walk on this earth.

I’m so thankful that PERFECTION came…….

not on the back of a mini-van

through a carpet cleaning business

BUT

in a manger

through an ordinary girl with an extraordinary calling.

And I’m thankful that one day PERFECTION will come again!

Right now we have faith, hope, and love…

But on the day that PERFECTION returns, the greatest of these (LOVE) is all we will  need!

No more need for faith or hope once we’re standing face to face with

PERFECTION!!!!!!!!!

Until then, I’ll be content with faith, hope, and love…and the world’s idea of perfection……. “perefection” is as close as it gets.

1 Corinthians 13:9-13

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.