Tag Archives: Reflective

August 10- a day I will always remember

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Today is one of those “anniversary” days for me.  It is one that I will always remember for the rest of my life.

It is the day we picked up our girls, in 2013, from Sleep-Away camp in Pennsylvania for the last time. It was the day that we told them three very big things:

1) Uncle Dude and Aunt Erin were going to have a baby

2) Aunt Robin died during the night after battling cancer

3) We had decided that I would not accept a job in Texas that had been offered to me….a job that would have allowed us to live just an hour from our extended family.

August 10 is quite the anniversary for me.

This year I remember the day while sitting in Texas, our new residence….where God has provided a job for Brad and now, pending a written offer, a job for me. We moved into our home a week ago and live just over an hour from our extended family. Last year, I had no idea how it would all happen but we decided to Trust God and Walk Forward, knowing He had a plan for us. Knowing if we trusted Him, we would end up in just the right place….wherever that would be.

Today we visited a new church….I hate church shopping but it is a necessary evil of moving. The preacher was the highlight of the church for me, even with all its wonderful amenities. His sermon was a perfect confirmation of our desire to move back to Texas.

He preached from Colossians 3:20-21. His first point was “Make the relationships with our family of primary importance.” This entire move was based on this need of family. Our schedule in Pennsylvania did not allow us to interact as a family on a regular basis. Brad’s job was a great job, but the hours were not conducive to his being around at the times our girls were home. We did not like this. We had seen the warning flags that the pastor, Dr. Mark Hartman, shared

  • When the busy seasons become the norm.
  • When we connect our careers with our self-worth
  • When we stop fighting the battle of balance and give in to the career.

We saw these flags beginning to fly in our lives and didn’t want to overlook them and carry on.

I am thankful that God gave Brad and I the same desire, to find a job that allowed him to have a more consistent schedule to be home in the evenings. We know that our girls are growing up and we will never have this time again….we want to be the parents God has asked us to be. We also wanted our girls to know and be able to develop relationships with their extended family, as family is such an important part of life.

For us, this meant some big changes in career, location, and finances.

Moving is tough. We miss our friends, we have worked for hours packing boxes and now unpacking boxes and I won’t even mention the money involved in a move—ouch!

God is faithful and He provides.

I know He will provide new friends.

I know He will provide rest.

I know that He will provide for our needs.

 

Philippians 4:19

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

I hope to always be able to remember August 10 as a day that is bittersweet; mixed emotions and God’s hand always at work.

Hearing about a new cousin on the way!

Hearing about a new cousin on the way!

Celebrating the life of my Aunt Robin.  I miss her so much.

Celebrating the life of my Aunt Robin. I miss her so much.

Eating lunch in our new home....no Burger King this time but Whataburger!

Eating lunch in our new home….no Burger King this time but Whataburger!

Rainbow over our new hometown.

Rainbow over our new hometown.

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Hey Math Teacher…when will I use this stuff?

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Yes, that is often the thought of many a math student sitting in the desk of math classes around the world. Well, let me tell you when you will use “this stuff”. Currently my life seems to be one big story problem; and the answers are not written at the back of the book!

We are excitedly looking to move back to Texas in the next few weeks. God has generously answered the prayers of many people and opened the doors for us to move back close to family. Right now, though, we constantly have to figure out all kinds of things:

  • If we have to be in Texas by x-date yet our belongings will be picked up on y-date and it takes so many hours to get to Texas, how many hours do we need to travel each day? (Make consideration for traveling with two cats)
  • If our insurance ended on June 30 and the COBRA information arrives on July 11 and is RIDICULOUSLY high, which short-term insurance plan should we go with taking into consideration the maintenance medications we are using and that our family will be traveling in two different directions in three different vehicles across the nation in just two weeks?
  • How many jobs do I apply for in the short amount of time I have to sit at the computer and give to that task?

I could go on and on. I am getting many opportunities to quote Philippians 4:6 to myself…I’ve paraphrased it a bit to fit my situations though:

Be anxious for nothing, not even finding the right job,

Be anxious for nothing, not even how you will get all of this done,

but with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God.

 So the recipe for life is to start each day with Thanksgiving.

Thank you Lord for this move!

Thank you Lord for the opportunity to watch you work.

Thank you Lord for guiding each step of the way.

Thank you for the amazing friends and relatives that are all helping out in their own ways.

Thank you for being so amazing and loving me even when I don’t deserve it.

 

The answers are in the book…His book….the Bible.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

So when in doubt, go to the best book around, The Bible and seek his help with the story problems of life.   The answers are not at the back of the book but all throughout, from start to finish!  Then, as Philippians 4:7 goes on to say “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Answers throughout the book!

 

Back to packing!

 

 

Change of Seasons

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Saying that this has been a hard winter is quite the understatement. Heck, it is technically spring yet the winter weather still is hanging around.  We moved into our current home just a few days after Christmas. The week after we moved in the snow came and it didn’t leave our yard until well into March. I have never in my life lived with so much snow for so many days. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want it….but I survived. On one of the not-so-bleak days this winter, my handsome fella and I went for a walk. We noted that the evergreen trees were a nice addition to the landscape in the neighborhood as winter would be so VERY bland without them.

I am so ready for the next season. I am ready for flip-flops and Capri pants. I’m ready for sitting in the backyard and soaking up the sun. I’m ready for a little color and vibrancy in life! The flowers of spring are always energizing and almost intoxicating as they change the landscape around us. Did you know to enjoy the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths that I love so much…they actually must be planted in the fall before the first hard frost? They require the cold of winter to become what they are meant to be.

I wonder how that plays into my life? I feel like I have been in a hard winter for a while.   Even in the hard winter there have been those pops of green from the “evergreen trees” to keep life from being bland and too depressing.  I am so thankful for the “evergreen trees” in my life.  I am ready though for the next season; I’m ready for the vibrant colors and shapes of the spring flowers.  Just as God has designed and shaped the flowers that will soon be coming, I know he has a plan for me. I can’t wait to see the design.

Did you know that in the basal center portion of the bulb for all of those wonderful flowers are the leaves cradling a baby bud that is just waiting for spring?  In many of the species, this bud already has the appearance of a flower while still in the bulb!  Just like God has that plan already laid out for me.  The basic framework for the next season in my life is all there.  The winter was necessary to shape me into the woman he wants me to be.  He has had the plan all along and has just been waiting to reveal it to me when the time was right.

So until then, I keep trusting him and walking forward knowing that a change of seasons is near.

As for a taste of spring now, I made this pound cake when my younger daughter had a friend over that was staying for dinner.  The friend doesn’t drink milk so my original plan for the evening dessert, ice cream, was out.  I looked around my pantry and then found this recipe on the Duncan Hines website.  It was so yummy and moist.

 

Pineapple Orange Pound Cake

Preheat oven to 350°

Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan.

Combine together in a mixing bowl:

  • 1 package of Duncan Hines Signature Pineapple Cake Mix
  • 1 small package of vanilla instant pudding
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 grated orange peel (about 1 Tablespoon)

Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for two minutes.

Pour into the prepared pan

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted inot the center comes out clean.

Cool for 25 minutes in pan and then invert onto a serving plate.

Make the glaze:

Combine in a small saucepan and then simmer for 3 minutes:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Brush the warm glaze on the cake.

Enjoy!  The cake didn’t last 24 hours at my house.

 

Spring is Coming!

Selling my house has ruined me

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Yep you heard it…I am ruined.  That is R-U-I-N-E-D.

We have had our house on the market for a few months and we are so thankful that God has provided a buyer and that, pending appraisal, we will be moving on in our journey of life.

However, I have been ruined in the last few months.  My house has been clean.  It is de-cluttered.  It is vacuumed regularly.  The kitchen is clean and clear—even the sink!

.Clean Counters!

Everything in place!

 

I have always loved a clean house…I mean really, who doesn’t.  But not many love to clean a house.  It takes work and discipline.

However, at the end of the day it feels so much better than staring at piles of papers, laundry and dishes.

I’ve learned that it does take time and effort.  Those two items are in short supply in my life but it takes less time and less effort to keep up with the clutter and cleaning.  You would think that it would not have taken me 41 years to realize this.  I always knew it in my head but I didn’t live it.

Taking time each day makes a world of difference in how my house looks.

It is like that with my time each day with the Lord.  When I take time daily to spend some moments with him it makes a world of difference in how my temple looks.  We are the temple of God, it says so in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don’t you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit is in you. You have received him from God.”  

When I take time to listen to him, talk to him and focus on him, it is amazing how much better I look.  Not in how I look physically but spiritually.  I am a better mom on the days I take time with the Lord, I’m a better wife, and I’m just better.  Why?  Because you become like those you spend time with.  Who wouldn’t want to be more and more like our Lord?  Don’t get me wrong….I have a LONG way to go to looking like the Lord.  But each day He refines me a bit more, He molds me and makes me into his vessel that reflects him.

So putting my house on the market has triggered not only the desire to have my physical house clean but my spiritual house clean too.  Each takes work but it is so worth it.

I started this post by saying that I was ruined.  Well, just to remind us all, ruined means: the physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed.  My routine of life was ruined when we put our house on the market: change of schedules to get the house ready to show, packing things away to clear up shelves and closets and many other little pieces picked away at.  However in the midst of that destruction, beautiful things have been created.  I have seen God work and move not only in the selling of our house, but also in my own life.  I am not the same person I was four months ago.  I never knew that I would be so glad to see something ruined!

 

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Help! My Arms are Tired

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Recently I had the opportunity to help one of the preschool Bible teachers on Sunday morning at our church.  The kids were studying the book of Exodus.  The story on this particular week was when the Israelites were battling the Amalekites and Moses stood on top of the hill, above the battle, with the staff of God in his hands.  He raised his hands high in the sky during the battle and as long as his hands were raised, the Israelites were winning.  When he grew tired and his hands lowered, the Israelites began to be defeated (read more of the story in Exodus 17:8-16). 

The teacher shared with the kids that Moses had his hands raised as he prayed to demonstrate the Israelites need for God’s help.

I’ve learned a few things from this preschool lesson.

First lesson was the day after I helped out in the class.  I was in the car running errands and listening to a Paul Baloche CD (The Same Love). As I listened, I was reminded of hands being raised in praise during worship.

Now, true confession here…this girl grew up Southern Baptist and, when I was growing up, hands raised all the way to the sky were frowned upon.  I guess the thought was that one should not be distracting.  While that is a good goal- to not distract others in worship- I don’t think raised hands in true worship should be distracting.  I mean shouldn’t the focus be on God for everyone?

What hit me as I listened to Paul Baloche sing was that raising my hands up like Moses did in the story was like a toddler holding hands with his Dad as they walk together.  You know what that looks like…the little guy is stretched to his tippy toes to help him reach the palm of his Daddy’s hand.  He isn’t worried about what he looks like- he knows he needs his Daddy’s hand.  Maybe they are in a dangerous parking lot or maybe in a crowded mall or maybe they just are enjoying being together.  Regardless, his little arms are outstretched to reach to his Daddy.

That is my new take on hands raise in true worship.  Our hands represent our dependence…our need..for the strong arms of our heavenly Father.  I need those strong arms to help me as I walk through dangerous paths in this life, meander through the crowds of life and just take a stroll on a beautiful day with my heavenly Father.

I don’t know if this Southern Baptist Girl will be able raise her hands up to the sky in public worship…it is just hard for me…but if you happen to be stopped at the red light next to me and happen to catch me, radio up, singing and worshipping as I traverse around town…you might just see me in some unabandoned worship.

Second lesson I’ve learned in the last few weeks from this portion of the Bible is the importance of asking help from others.  Verses 12 says:

12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.

The battle was long and Moses got tired.

Man I can relate.

For about two months now I have been in a war with various battles to fight.  No, not a physical hand-to-hand combat war but parenting battles, marriage battles, financial battles, employment battles….ugh…. I am tired.

Verse 11 tells us:

11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.

When Moses kept his hands, holding the staff of God, raised then things were going well.  Moses needed to stay focused on God and His guidance as the battle raged on.  The battle was still there but it went better for God’s people when God was the focus.

Moses was human and his arms grew tired after a while.  I can only imagine…my arms are tired too!

So he had his friends help him.  They took a stone and put it under him so he could sit down and then they held his hands up for him.  They helped carry the load.  When we are fighting the battles of life, we need Aarons and Hurs to help us!  We need our friends to come alongside and help us to keep our focus on God and to help us follow through with what He has asked us to do.  It can be a bit humbling sometimes to admit that we can’t hold our hands up any longer.  It can be hard to say “I need help”.  But we need to do it.  We need friends who will give us biblical counsel, we need friends that will pray for us and encourage us.  We need friends who will sit with us and help hold our hands.

The battles can be long and hard.  Make sure you have an Aaron and a Hur in your life to help.

 

Volunteer SD

 

From Flip-Flops to Snow Boots

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Last week I was in Texas helping my Aunt who is fighting her battle with cancer.  While there I was wearing flip-flops and enjoying the sun on my back.  Then I return home and not three days after wearing flip-flops I’m pulling out snow boots!

YUCK.  I was not happy about the snow.  I sat down to read “Jesus Calling for Kids” a wonderful devotional book by Sarah Young which we purchased for our children yet I get so much out of it too!  The title for the day was “No Grumbling, Please” and the verse was a portion of 1 Corinthians 10:10 “And do not grumble.”  One of the “read on your own” scriptures was 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances.”  The devotion talked about how grumbling is telling God that I don’t like how things are going….that I disapprove of how He is doing things and complaining shows an ungrateful heart.  I thought about my flip-flops and snow boots.

To me….

Flip-Flops

Flip-Flops represent all things good—sunshine, warm, long days, happiness.

Snow Boots

Snow Boots represent gloom and muck.

I would rather have flip-flops but regardless, God provides and I am to be thankful.  In the good times I am thankful for flip-flops and in the bad times I thank Him for the snow boots to endure the gloom and muck.

It takes more work to be thankful in the snow boots but that is what I am to do.  I watched my Aunt this last week try so hard to be thankful in the midst of her “snow boots” of cancer.  It is hard…it takes effort, but it is what 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to do.

 

Today I am 40!

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Most of the world dreads a birthday.  Historically, I don’t get that worked up about them…it is just another day.  But this year I have looked forward to the changing of the decade.  I’m not sure why.  My 30s were good but I anticipate the 40s being even better.  I look forward to seeing what God will do.  40 is one of the numbers you hear about in the Bible.

40 days of rain

40 years of wandering  for the Israelites in the wilderness

40 days Jesus fasted in the wilderness.  Just to name a few and….

After the rain

came a rainbow.

After the wandering

came the Promised Land.

After Jesus was in the wilderness

he started his ministry here on Earth.

Good things are coming because God is working in all things.  I look forward to seeing Him work in and through me in this new decade of life!