A tuck of a flower here.......
And a tuck of a flower there........ Carefully placed on each little layer...... And topped with the faces of two filled with love......... Thank you, Kim, for making Erich and Mallory's reception so much sweeter because of your willingness to share your talent......
Even when you were not feeling well. I love you so much.
Your precious human hands have truly been gifted by God above!
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will
find refuge; His faithfulness will be
your shield and rampart.
We are covered by His feathers.
By Him and To Him.
His faithfulness is our shield.
That which gives us the courage to step forward even when we are being attacked.
Our defense even when we are on the offense.
His faithfulness is our rampart.
Surrounding wall of security.
Place to hide.
Our defense when we are being attacked from any side.
He is before us, behind us, around us, above us, in us, and with us.
What more do we need?
This morning as I look back on a couple of weeks of difficult days and nights, I still see Him.
His faithfulness sustains me, propels me, lifts me, and moves me to higher levels of loving Him and trusting Him.
I pray that you will rest in the shelter of His wings and find not only a soft place to hide but also the confidence to step out knowing that He will also be your shield and your rampart.
Loving you today as always,
The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted......
That's what I have to whisper over and over again today.
Thank you, Lord, for this promise.
Thank you for being faithful.
These benches in Amish country called my name....
Soak up the view in front of you
There's plenty of room for you on this busy day, because no one is stopping to sit
Please, just stay a while
And be still
But did I?
I snapped a picture and was on my way.......
for more pictures
I wonder what I missed because I passed these benches by?
Maybe a precious interaction between Amish people out for a day in town.
Maybe a beautiful tree glistening in the sun.
Maybe just the quietness of Charm, Ohio, and the sound of horses' hooves clicking by pulling a carriage.
I'll never know what I missed when I passed up this chance to be still.
But I know I've learned something tonight as I've looked at this picture.
I won't miss the chance next time.
The first thing I want to do if I ever return to that sweet little town is sit on one of these benches and simply "be still."
So tonight, the thought has occurred to me that so many times in my "real world" I miss these very same chances.
A moment on my porch swing or a quiet moment in a chair.
Just to close my eyes and be still.
That's what I'm needing and I don't want to miss what that moment will hold.........
Hoping you'll close your eyes and have a quiet moment too.
Just to be still.
And KNOW THAT HE IS GOD.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Several of my friends and I traveled to Ohio this weekend to spend some time together in Amish country. It was nice to get away for a bit and be reminded of the simple life of these people.
I admire the Amish for so many different reasons.
Their focused lifestyle is apparent in everything they do and everything they own. I even learned a lesson from their horses!
The first thing I noticed about every horse we encountered was the blinders they were wearing.
In the midst of all of the tourists and shoppers, these horses were able to stay focused on the road in front of them.
Not even distracted by other horses around them.
I want to live a life that is THIS FOCUSED.
I want to fix my eyes on what is eternal and not be side-tracked by the temporary. I want to remember that all of my troubles are "light and momentary" when viewed through the eyes of God, and that they will result in eternal glory.
I am praying the same prayer for you today.
Lord, Teach us to live so focused on You that we are able to remember that everything we "see" is temporary. In Jesus' Name, Amen
We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses...
It comforts me today to know that no matter what I face, no matter what my family faces, no matter what you face,
we are not alone and we have Someone who..."gets" us.
He walks with us and says, "I've been where you've been and I understand."
I understand your fear.
I understand your doubt.
I understand your questions.
I understand your tears.
I understand your pain.
I understand your struggles.
I also came so that you could walk free from all of them.
I want you to grasp your freedom
I want you to embrace joy.
I want you to live fully NO MATTER WHAT.
I want you to trust me.
I want to wipe away your tears.
I want to hold your pain.
I want to fight your struggles for you.
For me, on this Friday morning as I head to early duty at school, I am comforted to know that I do not leave my home alone.
Praying that all of you fill His presence in a mighty way today,
We've all felt it.
We've all probably deserved to feel it from time to time.
But if we have given our lives to Christ, we know deep down that we have been given the freedom to live "guilt free."
And yet, many Christians including myself, live with a sense of guilt.
Maybe it's an ongoing bad decision, sin, attitude, or personality trait.
Or maybe it's a past mistake that still haunts us.
Whatever it is, the nagging feeling of guilt proves to be powerful and relentless.
I looked up the psychological definition of guilt and found this definition:
"Guilt is an affective state in which one experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done (or conversely, having not done something one believes one should have done). It gives rise to a feeling which does not go away easily, driven by 'conscience.'"
Knowing that guilt causes conflict within our minds and yet knowing that God knew we would not have a "clear conscience" without His help, I came to the realization that the devil, once again, has taken something about our created being which can be used for good and twisted it so that it can become a source of pain.
Adam and Eve did not feel guilt until they sinned. The devil brought this emotion out in us, but God had to put it there first. So, the ultimate reason for guilt had to be a good and perfect one.
See, guilt can keep us from making mistakes twice.
It can cause us to be humbled and filled with remorse, changing us into the people God longs for us to be.
But guilt can also eat at us until we are miserable.
It can cause us to lose our confidence, our hope, our feeling of worth or value.
I did a little research and found some great tips on dealing with guilt:
1. Recognize the kind of guilt you have and its purpose.
2. Make amends or changes sooner than later.
3. Accept you did something wrong, and move on.
4, Learn from your behaviors.
5. Realize that perfection does not exist in anyone.
If you've lost a friend or family member, you may even suffer from what is called "Survivor's Guilt."
You may find yourself asking, 'Why am I here and they are not?"
If you find yourself asking this question often, please seek help.
When God "knit you together in your mother's womb," He ordained the number of your days.
If someone you love has been taken from this earth before you feel it was time, remember this truth about them too.
God knit them together and numbered their days.
Adrienne's days were numbered to be only 45 short, sweet days.
Nick's days were numbered at around 4,560 short, sweet days.
Adrienne served a beautiful purpose in our family and in this world. Nick did too.
Their lives are still making a difference.
None of us knows the number of days we have been given, but we do know this:
The Bible says, "Life is but a vapor."
Whether you live to be 15, 35, or 105, in the end your life will be a series of short, sweet days.
The question has to be this:
What are we doing to live these days for Him?
What are we doing to help us let go of our guilt and find freedom in Christ?
Yesterday, I felt a little bewildered.
Today, I feel empowered.
What has changed?
Simply remembering these truths:
"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."
"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever- do not abandon the works of your hands."
"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.'"
1 John 4:4
And I believe that if these promises are true for me, then I can live knowing that they are true for everyone I love.
So I will pray them and claim them daily for my family and for all of you.
Thank you for praying for us.
Oh, I love you all so much and I am so thankful for the Hope of Heaven!!!
I always hesitate to be so "open" with pain, but I find myself staring at the computer tonight realizing that if I write anything but the truth then I am becoming a fraudulent blogger.
We are dealing with some things right now in our home that are surfacing from grief......
things I cannot fix
things I cannot control
things I wish I could pretend weren't that big of a deal
But they are.
So, I come to you tonight as a sad mom who needs her family lifted up in a big way.
Grief has reared its ugly heard, and we are trusting God to pull our family through yet another valley.
Being sad is one thing.
Not being able to help someone else's sadness get better is another.
Trusting in the One Who Promises to turn our Sorrow into Joy,
I was standing in the kitchen the other day and looked behind the table where our dog Peppy was napping in his bed. I cracked up when I realized that it looked as if my phone charger was somehow hooked up to Peppy's mouth!!
I don't think Peppy was any more alert after this nap than any other nap, and I know I'm USELESS unless I stay connected to the only POWER SOURCE that keeps me spiritually charged up.
What keeps you going?
Is it something that really has power?
One of my favorite verses when Nick was fighting cancer was Roman 15:13:
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the POWER of the Holy Spirit!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Praying your day is filled with joy and peace as you stay connected to Him,
Last Sunday, Olivia's friend Sarah (in middle) was baptized before the morning worship service! It was such a special day for all of us.
Sarah's family had such a traumatic experience during the flooding in our county this past spring. A few months ago, I shared about her parents hanging on to a rock through the late hours of the night as the waters rose rapidly all around them while Sarah and Hannah (to the right of Sarah above) were upstairs in the house not fully aware of the seriousness of the situation below.
I saw this picture and wanted to say publicly, "We love you, Sarah, and we are so happy to have you in the family of God!!!!!!!!!"
I lift up my eyes to you, to
you whose throne is in
I pray every day even though my prayers are usually brief. I find myself lifting my eyes to Heaven often.....
because I can't make it very long without reminding myself that "this world is not my home."
But when I arrived at the JFL football field (The Field of Courage named in memory of Nick) on Saturday to receive a gracious gift for Nick's foundation, my heart kind-of stopped when I saw this lawn chair. I had never in my life seen such a HUGE CHAIR!!
As I thought about how impressive this chair was in the midst of all the "regular" chairs, I couldn't help but think of how UNIMAGINABLY IMPRESSIVE God's throne is going to be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Nick now lives in the presence of God's throne, the place to which I lift my eyes daily. This time of year is so difficult for both Tim and me. Grief has resurfaced in a painfully vivid way over the past few weeks as we approach the two-year anniversary of saying goodbye to our sweet, sweet boy.
God used a HUGE LAWN CHAIR to remind me, though, that there is a THRONE in Heaven beyond my wildest dreams,and one day I will kneel in front of this amazing throne offering all my praise and worship to Him who gives me the strength to live.
If man can create a chair that surpasses all other chairs of its kind, can we even try to visualize what God has prepared for us in eternity?!?!
I don't think so!
I lift my eyes to His throne with a whole new feeling of awe and wonder....
thanks to an over-sized lawn chair on an elementary school football field sideline.
Thank you, Lord, for speaking through everyday things and forgive for the many times I do not hear you speaking,
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
These two verses remind me of several things:
First, it is okay to get tired.
Second, it is okay to feel weary.
Third, when we stumble or fall, we shouldn't feel as if this unacceptable in God's eyes. He understands that sometimes in life these things happen.
Fourth, in order to regain our strength and our footing, we must put our hope in the Lord.
And finally, when we do, we will find ourselves doing one of three things:
We all love the days when we are soaring. We find ourselves above our problems being lifted to a place where things are peaceful and the view is amazing.
And then there will be days when we are able to run. These are great days too. We don't grow weary...we just keep pressing on remembering the prize.
But sometimes, life will cause us to only be able to walk. At these times, we must remember that at least God promises that we will not faint. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Where are you in life right now?
Soaring, running, or walking?
I am definitely in a "walking" time.
Trusting God to help me as I move closer to Him in a step by step journey.
Praying for you as you renew your strength today by putting your hope in Him,
I went to bed early last night, and I missed watching the first miners released from captivity.
Tim watched the event unfold and couldn't stop talking about it this morning. I am disappointed that I wasn't awake for this historic moment. :(
I did get to watch the ninth miner come to the surface this morning, and I was glad I hadn't yet put on my mascara.
Witnessing someone being brought from darkness to light, from a state of being trapped to a state of being free, is a moving experience.
I'm just thinking this morning that all of us have in a sense been given that same opportunity from God.
Praying you feel free today to live for Him.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil
is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and
where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the
Lord's glory, are being transformed into his
likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes
from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
If this is your car, I apologize. :) I promise that it could easily be mine on many days. :)
When I saw these words etched on the back window of someone's vehicle the other night in the midst of all the beautifully dressed homecoming dates, the car just seemed to stand out in a way that screamed, "NOTICE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Isn't that how we feel sometimes when we are feeling dirty, cheap, used up, pointless, ugly, worn out, or just plain yucky?"
Physically, I haven't been feeling 100% lately which has caused me to exercise less. When I slip out of my routine of exercise and walking, I often end up finding more time to snack which eventually leads to how I feel right now...
And that's just the physical part of feeling not so "spunky."
Spiritual "yuckiness" can often feel much worse. My new teaching schedule has taken a big chunk out of my quiet time, so I'm still trying to get into a better routine with that part of my life.
Today, I had my students decorate a Coat of Arms that contained five different sections that told a little about them. (I started a new nine weeks today where I am transitioning from math to reading so I had some new students mixed in with the ones I had last nine weeks for math.)
As I looked through the student's papers as they turned them in, my heart broke as I stopped on one student's Coat of Arms that simply had the word "nothing" in every section.
Greatest memory: Nothing
Something I am great at: Nothing
What I look to do in my spare time: Nothing
Life motto: Nothing
Today, it was as if this student was a dirty car screaming, "Wash me."
I drew a new Coat of Arms for him and slipped it onto his desk. I wrote about how great he is in math and how he is a leader and how his smile makes me smile.
I watched as he read the paper and then slipped it into his trapper keeper.
I'm praying for him tonight.
Praying that somehow he can feel renewed. Praying that he can feel valuable. Praying that he can see a glimmer of hope in his life.
Praying that somehow his spirit can be washed, removing all feelings of "nothingness" that he has in his heart.
And I'm thanking God for medicine that seems to be helping my joint pain and I'm asking God to bring back my desire to get out and exercise. I want to feel renewed again too.
But most of all, I am asking God to help me find more time in each day in which I can simply be still and sit in His Presence.
Notice me, Lord, and WASH ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Praying you feel washed and renewed today too, remembering your worth comes from Him who holds you in the palm of His hand and loves you with an everlasting love!
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
Todd went to his senior year homecoming dance........
Tim helped Todd with his tie......he had to stand on a chair. :)
Todd and his date, Kimi.......
Kimi and some of her beautiful soccer girlfriends.
Nick's buddy Brandon came by to have Tim help him with his tie and give me a hug before picking up his date. Olivia with Nick's buddies Kaleb and Brandon and their beautiful dates.
Friends came to spend the weekend with us from Ohio. Olivia and their girls had fun entertaining us with a trick they read about in a book. Put a plastic spoon in your mouth under a handkerchief and pretend to sneeze. It looks hilarious! They could barely show us for all their giggling.
Logan, Olivia, Nicole, and Olivia diving in to the feast!
Sometimes these special weekends full of so many wonderful memories stir emotions of such deep grief realizing Nick isn't here to share them with us. Nicole and Nick had been friends ever since pre-school. He would have loved hanging out with her.
Heaven, Heaven, Heaven........Oh, how wonderful it will be!!
Last night at youth group the lesson was on Mary and Martha. As I sat with my sophomore girls in small group after the worship service and sermon, we began talking about what the story is all about. One girl who was new last night had never heard the story before.
As we shared about Martha's spirit and Mary's, I could sense in the girls that as high schoolers that didn't really "get" how Martha could feel so stressed about things like cooking and hosting a party. They did begin sharing about how they don't like it when people volunteer to do things at church and then complain about it......which in a way is very similar to Martha inviting Jesus over and then being stressed about having to prepare food.
I've always struggled with this story because I think in today's world it is so easy to feel like Martha is more "me" than I want her to be. But last night as we talked, I realized that it's not so much about "doing" as it is your attitude while "doing."
We can't literally "sit at the feet of Jesus" today, but He longs for us to spiritually find our rest there.
So this morning as I was blow-drying my hair and getting ready , I was reflecting on the fact that Jesus said, "I am with you always..even to the end of the earth." If I truly believe this, then He is with me right this minute and that means that I have permission to sit at His feet 24/7!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
How different would we live if Jesus' face were right above us as we looked up from His precious feet?
How different would our conversations be?
How different would our actions be?
How different would our motives be?
How different would our feeling of peace be?
I long to live a life sitting at the feet of Jesus.
I can't think of a more perfect pillow on which to find rest......
Even as I venture out to spend my day with middle school students talking about mean, median, mode, and range, I am going to set my eyes on Him who longs to walk every step of life with me.
I'm praying now that you can do the same.
Remember the words of Jesus....
Matthew 28:20 ..... And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
I have a little joke with a friend of mine whose husband will only allow the toilet paper to be placed on the roll in a certain way, so when I saw this in my bathroom Sunday morning, I had to laugh and send her a picture!!
To me these rolls of toilet paper say a lot about marriage and about life.
Things won't always match.
We won't always agree.
We need to be thankful for what we have.
And the list goes on and on.
Someday I am suppose to read these two books and share about them with you...someday.
As you can see, my basket of books that I am trying to read is very full. I am looking forward to snow days!!!!
For now, I wanted to share pictures of the books with you in case you want to pick them up at the store or order them online to read for yourself!!!
I CORINTHIANS 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Battlefield of the Mind is coming tomorrow!!!!!!! Love you all!!!
I can't believe that I actually made a public confession today about my struggles in the world of cooking.
If you talk to any of my friends, you will quickly learn that out of all of the areas in my life where I feel lacking COOKING ranks as NUMBER ONE.
It seems like no matter how much I plan ahead, I have never been able to master being the successful kitchen girl that so many of my friends prove to be almost daily,
whipping things up with "whatever they find in the pantry,"
popping in a casserole they have tucked away in the freezer when they hear that they are having unexpected company,
creating a new recipe using a few spices and a piece of meat,
and on and on........
I, on the other hand, see a bag of boneless chicken breasts and my creativity level bounces back and forth from grilling them to boiling them.........
Or when I make brownies I feel happy when I think to sprinkle them with powdered sugar.
So, today, when I walked out of my school to head home, I never suspected that two clowns (literally) in the car next to mine were on some sort-of special covert mission.
My first thought when I saw the clowns was....
"Ewww, that's kind-of creepy. Why are two clowns parked so close to me?"
My second thought was, "I can't wait to call a couple of my friends who live out of town and tell them about this (we have a clown joke that has been going on for some time!)"
My third thought was, "Do I know those clowns? They look so familiar!"
My fourth thought was, "Those are my friends from Ohio!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't have to call them and tell them about the clowns....they are the clowns!!!!"
My fifth thought was, "WHAT ARE THEY DOING HERE!?!?!?"
After screaming and laughing, I began to learn that their entire visit had been planned for a long time. See, Laurie and Christine both know how inadequate I feel in the kitchen and they had been "cooking up" a surprise for me ever since school began.
Loaded down with all kinds of frozen meals, these "clowns" had driven three hours to fill my freezer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My hands and legs were shaking like I had been caught on Candid Camera or something. I still can't believe this happened today!!!!!!!!!!!
I've just never had clowns fix my dinner before!!!!!!!!!!!
They even brought me a cookbook and a notepad so that I can organize my meals......I know that several of you have tried to help me in this area before......forgive me for not "getting it" yet!!
Of course, I had to take my friends' pictures with everyone I could find in the short time they were here!!!! This is how the clowns looked getting out of their car after following me home from school (I've never been followed by clowns either.) This is how they wanted to leave.....thankfully, Brandon didn't leave his keys in the car!!! :) (Just kidding.)
Laurie and Christine said their new ministry is called, "Too blessed to be stressed."
Overwhelmed tonight as I reflect on such an unexpected afternoon and thankful that God chose to "send in the clowns!" Thank you, Christine and Laurie, for absolutely making my day perfectly wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!