Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Ever find yourself asking that question?
I'm sure that question has been asked by everyone, from people who fail a test to those who suffered through the Holocaust. But is it ever as tragic or raw when it doesn't happen to you? When you heard about 9-11 you most likely were shocked, fearful, angered and saddened, but was it personal? Maybe it was. Maybe it caused you to change your life.
I'd like to share my story.
4 years ago, my sisters and I breathed with my dad for the last time here on earth. His death was caused by events that led to a criminal investigation as well as a civil law suit. The tragic events surrounding his death began to shape, forever, the rest of our lives.
It started a trickle down effect. Relationships were lost, marriages were bruised, trust was no where to be found and my God was little more than a being sitting on a throne too busy to help with our situation.
Phill and I moved from our home one year after my dad's passing to start a new, fresh life. A life where no one knew what happened, where no one would judge us, where we could just get away. And while those are never good reasons to leave, it was the most pivotal decision we ever made.
We moved during the summer which afforded a lot of free time, since the kids were out of school and our number of friends at that time could be counted on one hand. I'd never been a reader, but it seemed like an opportunity to help pass the time, and it was something dad loved, so I decided to give it a try. Turns out, I like to read.
As time passed, we began to get settled with an amazing church and some friends, but friends who didn't really know me. As I ventured out, I found others who liked to read as well and book suggestions were being thrown back and forth. One of the first books I read was by Francine Rivers called A Voice in the Wind. [Three out of the four comments on Amazon say "life-changing" in their reviews.] It touched a place in my heart that really opened up the void where I had kicked God out. I was never angry at God, I just didn't have an intimate relationship b/c I didn't know, KNOW that he truly cared.
The book challenged me. My faith, my beliefs, my God. What were they? What did I stand for? At the time, my self. And so I decided to go deeper.
Each book I picked up after that, God intricately wove together to piece the frameworks of my beliefs. Love was changed, faith was growing and Jesus was showing me what Grace looked like, through these books and according to His word.
He introduced me to fresh ideas, not according to this world or our culture's or how I felt, but to His standards. Forgiveness had new meaning. Life had a purpose. Hope has never been lost. And Love? Well, isn't that what it's all about? Isn't that who Jesus is? Didn't He become a servant, showing us all how to treat others, how to trust? How to live? Even when pain is griping your every fiber and demanding you not cut its hold isn't He holding our hand and asking for us to have Faith that He meant this: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Gen 50:20
He saved my life, obviously from Hell, but there is so much more than that that He died for. He gave my life purpose. He said He came to set the captives free. Freedom. In all areas of our life. He said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me." John 10:27 And that's what He wants, us to follow Him. Is it easy? It's probably the hardest thing you can do, b/c you cannot do it without or apart from Him. It requires trust, hope, determination and a willingness to let go of "me" and what I want.
So what's the purpose?
I wouldn't be where I am, able to forgive, to love and to share without Him. And without this situation in my life, I wouldn't be glorifying God, I would still be glorifying me. Was this the purpose for my dad's death? Was it for me? I know it was. But was it only for me? Never, b/c it isn't about me. It's all about Him. It's about finding Him in the fabric of your lives. It's seeing His hand and trusting in His sovereignty. It is knowing that He knows. Your hurts, your pains, your failures, your loss and your way. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
So in the words of Ghandi, "Be the change you want to see in the world." How? Start with the renewal of your mind. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2
It doesn't take an army to change. It takes one person. Use His thoughts, His heart, His love in your decisions. Teach these things to your family, friends and children and you'll see it. You'll see it in how you react, and those that you love react and you'll know that the world is better b/c of it.
Yesterday was 4 years. To the day. And yesterday we came to a settlement and will not be going to court. A giant of a burden has been lifted. Peace has begun to settle in and take its rightful place. And yesterday I decided to do a random act of kindness, in honor of my dad and in the name of Jesus.
The kids and I went to Chick-fil-A and paid for the people behind us. Before we got there I prayed that God would let someone be behind us that would benefit from hearing that Jesus loved them. It felt good. Funny thing was, their order was only a gallon of lemonade .. $9.80. After telling Phill about it and getting ready to leave for the day, Phill comes running inside the house b/c he found a ten-dollar bill in the yard. Wait, what? Really God? THAT quick of a return? I get it. I do. You love us and we're doing what you asked.
Later that night, my friend texted me and asked me to check my email. Here is the email:
Hello to all!
First off, I was the reci]pient of a very nice email today that I can’t take credit for, but thought that I would share with all of you. It is a terrific act of generosity and I think the person responsible should know that it was greatly appreciated.
As follows via the Feedback button on NWArestaurants.com:
I just want to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for providing for our church Youth group meeting this afternoon. Though you did not know it. Allow me to explain. I was sitting in the car at the Chick-Fill-A in Rogers, Arkansas, waiting to pay and pick up the gallon of fresh-squeezed lemonade for our Youth group later this evening. As I reached the window, I was greeted by a very friendly lady who told me. "Message from the car in front of you.....Jesus loves you. Your lemonade has been paid for you." I was in awe.....I saw God's hand working through a complete stranger. Between my children and can not decide wheather the SUV was white, black or gray....but we remember the website on the rear window clearly... Our youth group just began to meet every Thursdays at 6PM at our church, the Rogers SDA Church. On behalf of our youth....THANK YOU for tonight's drink. May God bless richly bless you.
Youth Director Assistant.
So I want to thank whoever was responsible for this random act of kindness. How much better would the world be if we had more of these stories to tell? I will also contact Maria on behalf of NWArestaurants and see if we can add to that gesture. If anyone else has a story to share we would love to hear it as well as other opportunities that our website can participate in making this a better community.I share that b/c there were so many lives who were impacted by it. Maybe not life-changing, but certainly challenging to do more. Do you see how it affected the business? He wants more people to share stories and is looking for opportunities to make this a better community. I think that's where it starts.
The purpose? Him.
I love you, Dad
I love you, God
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Here is one of the rides that Kyra and I liked the best. It's the Giant Barn Swing. Phill and Guy were not fans, to say the least.
Both of the kids really liked the pulley system ride. It was slow and boring, we thought, but hey, it's all about having fun, and that they did.
We went into the Marvel Cave and had a blast. It was a steady 58 degrees in there and moist and crunched in places, but it was really neat to see how beautiful and creative God is in His designs. Really, something you outta go see if you get a chance. It was cool b/c we were in rear since they needed someone to be responsible of closing the doors and ensuring all were ahead and no one was left behind. Really proud that Phill volunteered for that job. No one else was willing so it was neat to see the respect...weird, I know, that the others gave him b/c he had an important job to do. LOL. But really, there was a sense of honor. And then, when it was all over, we were the first ones out of the train that leads you from the cave to the surface.
This is Wildfire. So much fun!! And really cool to see Kyra riding this and not freaking out! Guy was too short this time .. should have spiked his hair! I love that the kids like rides! There were a lot of kids much older than ours, screaming from fear .. from the ride above where you have to pull yourselves up to the top and then drop. No joke.
Here's some of the crew. It was a lot of fun to get to hang out with my side of the family, enjoying a great family city and some of its cool attractions. Can't wait to go back!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Anyway, I was talking with someone special yesterday and they mentioned to me that they feel as if they had failed. Of course we all fail, but that doesn't take away the raw emotion that drapes on you.
While I was reading this book, just now, I ran across this. So .. this is for you. I love you.
Many of us are haunted by our failure to have done with our lives what we longed to accomplish. The disparity between our ideal self and our real self, the grim specter of past infidelities, the awareness that I am not living what I believe, the relentless pressure of conformity, and the nostalgia for lost innocence reinforces a nagging sense of existential guilt: I have failed. This is the cross we never expected and the one we find hardest to bear.
One morning at prayer, I heard this word: Little brother, I witnessed a Peter who claimed that he did not know Me, a James who wanted power in return for service to the kingdom, a Philip who failed to see the Father in Me, and scores of disciples who were convinced I was finished on Calvary. The New Testament has many examples of men and women who started out well and then faltered along the way. Yet on Easter night I appeared to Peter. James is not remembered for his ambition but for the sacrifice of his life for Me. Philip did see the Father in Me when I pointed the way, and the disciples who despaired had enough courage to recognize Me when we broke bread at the end of the road to Emmaus. My point, is this: I expect more failure from you than you expect from yourself.
The ragamuffin who sees his life as a voyage of discovery and runs the risk of failure has a better feel for faithfulness than the timid man who hides behind the law and never finds out who he is at all. Winston Churchill said it well: "Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts."
Yes, the word was made flesh. I chose to enter your broken world and limp through life with you.
On the last day, when we arrive at the Great Cabin in the Sky, many of us will be bloodied, battered, bruised and limping. But by God and by Christ, there will be a light in the window and a "Welcome Home" sign on the door.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
So, we like to teach our kids to work. We haven't been super-consistent with it nor have we given them tons of opportunities to earn money. Dave says this: "Work; get paid. Don't work; don't get paid." and we like it.
Yesterday gave the best opportunity for a little work [or a lot. it took a little over an hour with a little help from their friends.] Those helicopters decided to land right in our newly mulched flower beds, so we paid them to pick them all out.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
It made me think about the cliche "It's the little things." Yeast is a very little thing yet it is extremely powerful .. however, only when it is put into something. While it's in its packet, up above my stove, just sleeping, it's doing nothing. But add it to a flour mixture and that small ingredient makes most people drool and moan for warm bread!
This "bump" on the side of this hill is small, yet its placement allowed Guy to "soar" or get airborne for a minute. I guarantee that it made his trip down that much better, that much more likely that he'd go down again.
But it's just a bump. Left alone on the side of the hill it'll serve no purpose. It's only when it's a part of something else [snow day sledding party] that it is used to its full potential.
For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. 1 Cor 12
So while you may not think you're significant according to this world's standards, I challenge you to be the yeast in something that is significant. Don't lay fallow, up above the stove. Find what it is that will cause you to affect someone else for God. Maybe someone needs you to be the bump that will make them soar toward Him.
Phill and the kids made this super-awesome fort this last weekend. It was a serious favorite for our neighborhood. It was made complete with two chairs a tunnel and a slide! Kyra is nudged inside and Guy and I were on the slide.
LOL .. the kids' faces here are so funny. Phill gave them an extra push.
And in Happy Birthday news, Kyra is going to be nine this Sunday! Time sure does seem to fly by.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Here's what I got:
- Advil Liqui-Gels 16 ct $4.49 [regular price $7.99]
- Advil 50 ct tablets $4.49 [regular price $7.99]
- Blink Tears $7.99 [regular price $9.99 and I found one with two .. B1G1]
- Red Baron Pizza $2.50
- Red Baron Pizza $2.50
- Toblerone $1.00 [regular price $2.49]
- Joint Juice $10.00 [regular price $12.99 .. I think]
- Joint Juice $0 [B1G1 free]
- $4RR from last week
- $2/1 Advil coupon
- $2/1 Advil coupon 40 ct RP 01.31.10
- $1.50 Blink Tears printable coupon .. no longer able to print.
- B1G1 FREE Joint Juice coupon
- $1/2 Red Baron Pizza SS 01.31.10
- $5 RR Advil
- $8 RR Blink Tears
- $10 RR Joint Juice
- Vicks Nyquil $5 [regular price $7.59]
- Vicks Dayquil $5 [regular price $7.59]
- Vicks Dayquil $5 [regular price $7.59]
- Vitamin Schtick $1.99
- Gilette Fusion Razor $8.99
- $10 RR Joint Juice
- $8 RR Blink Tears
- $5 RR Advil
- $2 RR from last week
- $5 RR wyb $15 Vicks
- $4 RR Gilette Razor
- $2 RR Vitamin Schtick
- Angel Soft 9 roll $4
- $4 RR Gilette Razor
I have $7 RR to use next week. Can't wait to see what deal are coming. Actually, this chick already has the ad!
Friday, January 29, 2010
It's all just been lots of fun, relaxing and getting small things done [a load of laundry here, an organized medicine box there]. Snow Day.
While I jumped outside for the opportunity to take pics, I noticed a few things:
- Snow is white! Pure white. Even a white house can't truly compare to fresh snow. At best it looks ecru next to the frozen flakes.
- And anything it covers becomes softer and more beautiful, no matter how scary it could potentially be [think of a rake with its prongs pointed toward the sky].
- Not only that, but it radiates light, even in the dark.
The snow in its pure, white bliss reminds me of Jesus and how truly perfect He is. Nothing compares to Him. Nothing is as "white" as He.
The Bible actually says, 18 Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. Isa 1:18 AMP
Which brings me to my second point. While a rake [sin] can be ugly, rusty, dangerous or even potentially useless, if Christ takes over it can be covered with a blanket of snow and look beautiful.
The last picture is of Guy and his reckless fall to the earth below. He didn't care [much to my chagrin] what might be below him. He just loves the snow so much that rational thoughts escaped him.
I wonder if that's how we ought to look at people? As if they're covered with snow, not paying attention to their ugly or rusty surfaces below. Not holding back too much for fear of what lies underneath. I think that's how He looks at us, covered by Jesus and beautiful through His eyes.
I've been challenged to see through His eyes today!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
So Kyra lost her first tooth about 4.6 seconds after she turned six. Super-cute little snaggle-toothed smile. One of those times when you call all the family and take pics to ensure that everyone knows your little girl is growing up [but not too quickly, of course].
When Guy turned six, we expected that his tooth would just turn up loose any second. When he turned seven, we had one of those huh moments. I even thought about calling the dentist to make sure he was normal, but I didn't. I knew that the first would come out on its own timing, not mine nor Kyra's.
A year and a half older than Kyra was, Guy lost [rather I pulled] his tooth out.
So what is my lesson learned? Besides the fact that Kyra and Guy are in fact different, that sometimes expectations aren't healthy. Sometimes they cause us to worry or be concerned for something that doesn't matter at all. A lot of times they set people up for failure.
But mostly, I learned that my Guy is going to have the cutest smile this summer.
For the pictured items, I saved $39.34. My total out of pocket was $12.25. The Brawny 8-roll was $9.99 alone! [regular price] If you can't see it all that well, the itemized list is:
- Brawny 8-roll paper towels
- 2 Raisin Bran Cereal
- 2 Coffee Mate coffee creamers
- 2 bags of Snickers Valentine's candies
- 2 Nestle Crunch individual candy hearts
- Sure men's deodorant
- 2 Pert Plus Men's 3 in 1 shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and
- 3 1-liters of A&w root beer, 7-up and Canada Dry ginger ale
Thursday, January 21, 2010
It's been a while since I've baked goods for charity, but with the recent earthquake and aftershock in Haiti and from a friend's initiative to give, I decided now was a great time to start back up!
So, beginning next week, I'll be baking Cake Balls. To save on your cost, so that more can actually be donated, they will come in large "Ziploc" bags. You'll receive 30 for $20. Unfortunately, since they are made with chocolate, I cannot ship and guarantee their solidness. However, if you are outside of NWA and would still like to donate, you can then give the Cake Balls to someone locally.
Our church sent a team to Haiti today and will be sending more soon! The money raised will be used where it needs to be. I know that sounds vague right now, but if it needs to be used to send people or to buy supplies, to help with medications, etc...it will be put into good hands. I'll have more specific details hopefully next week!
Until then, get excited to eat some chocolate! What a great Valentine's gift they would make.
If you'd like to pre-order, just leave a comment. I'll have a way for you to pay next week.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Why not me?
At the end of 2009, life was looking sweet. Phill and I were pregnant with our third child and the grand news would be delivered on Christmas Eve and Day to our parents, who were thrilled. It was all so exciting, not simply b/c we were bringing a new member into our family, but b/c .. well .. it had been eight years since I'd been pregnant. And that's a bit shocking!
Three days after telling our good news, we learned via ultrasound that my sac contained no baby. We weren't prepared for it. My body felt pregnant, was beginning to look pregnant and of course our hearts were ready for this child.
We were disappointed, but weren't crushed. Life goes on. So let's pick up and go.
During that time, we had so many people flood us with love, food, flowers, calls, etc .. It was almost overwhelming, in a good way. Honestly it felt a little weird, b/c like I said, we were moving on.
The day after Christmas my body failed to yield to health and instead drove straight on the autobahn of ear infections. So while our family was being pampered for a miscarriage, I was accepting the love on behalf of my ear. Sounds silly, but the pain I was in wasn't emotional, it was physical.
Our anniversary was January 9th and we decided [long before any of this happened] that we were going to get away and go to the place we went on our honeymoon. It was fabulous. Even though my ear wasn't 100% better and I had another issue that I choose to believe was caused from all the antibiotic I was taking. We really had a great time and for the first time, "there's no place like home" wasn't calling us back. We really wanted to stay longer. That's how relaxed and how much fun we were having.
But we came home.
And our routine started to set in again. Life was feeling normal.
The Monday after we returned, I started my period. Happiness ensued and normalcy was taking place in my body again! It seemed so fast.
But then Tuesday I started cramping and began to have blood clots. A lot of them. All day long. My husband urged me to call the clinic. They told me what I needed to know and that this was to be expected, but that there were a few signs to look for that I could be losing too much blood.
That night, I thought I had.
Phill called the hospital and the ER gave some conflicting news. Maybe we should stay home b/c this seemed normal at least to them. So we chose to stay and I immediately lay down and slept for about an hour and a half.
I woke up utterly amazed at how good I felt and went straight into Kyra's room to ask if she'd been praying for me. Loved her honesty: "No, I hadn't yet."
I checked my phone and had two texts from my dear SIL, Kelly and one from my friend who both said they'd been praying for me.
I knew someone had. I felt a 180.
And so all of this leads me to share something I read this morning.
Then a great and powerful wind [miscarriage] tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake [ear infection], but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. [Other versions use a still, small voice.]
The book I'm reading is Hello: My Name is God. Here's the excerpt:
The wind, earthquake and fire seem a better match for our lives, a better way for Him to make sure we hear Him. But listening to God in these things wouldn't require any humility. It wouldn't require us shutting our own noise off long enough to pay attention and give Him the place of authority the Most High deserves.
To hear a still, small voice amid the crumbling mountains and raging seas and failing nations, we must stop and ourselves be still. To listen.
So why this happened doesn't matter, at least not today. But I am convinced that everything happens for a reason and for the good to those who love and are called to the Lord. Maybe I needed to be still. Maybe I needed to share my story with someone else who could benefit from it, because I know that's why we go through tough times, to learn and to help someone else heal. Maybe my daughter will go through this and I'll have solid experience to be able to help her through.
I don't know, but I know God does and since He is in control the only thing I can ask is for Him to use this to help someone else. And since it will, I am grateful.
Monday, January 11, 2010
This is the living room that looks out across to more cabins. At night, they have the cabins all lit up and it's simply gorgeous.
I know this is dark, but I wanted to share the window view from the bedroom. We pretty much kept these open the whole time, except while sleeping. Who wants to wake up with the dawn? Not us, at least not on vacation.
And this is a picture of a few of the cabins. One of them we stayed in 11 years ago.
Looking forward to the next year!