I'd love to know you've stopped by, so please note that the comment section is now found at the title of each post.
The one word theme is love.
Now we happen to be covering nouns and verbs with N's homeschooling......and if School House Rock serves me correctly.....love is a noun and a verb. (btw, if you need a great blast from the past....go to You Tube and watch some of those classic videos!)
Dictionary.com tells us that
-noun 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. 2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child or friend.
-verb~ 1.to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for 2. to need or require; benefit greatly from
-synonyms: Love, affection, devotion all mean a deep and enduring emotional regard, usually for another person. Love may apply to various kinds of regard: the charity of the Creator, reverent adoration toward God or toward a person, the relation of parent and child, the regard of friends for each other, romantic feelings for another person, etc. Affection is a fondness for others that is enduring and tender, but calm. Devotion is an intense love and steadfast, enduring loyalty to a person;
Sounds good to me. And pretty darn simple. We all pretty much know what the world describes as love. We love our children, family and friends. I know I definitely love God in many ways, especially in the "need, benefit greatly from" department. We can love our church, love our jobs (that is not always the case!), try to love our neighbors (again, try is the key word, especially in the hillbilly boonies)....basically, we all know what love "is" and have it in our lives.
But now let's look at the Ultimate Reference Book......The Bible. Let's see what It has to say about love.
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. ~1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Now I might step on some toes with this.....I can tell you mine are downright bruised! I am not always loving my children, husband and family/friends with God's definition of love. Of course I love them, I would do anything for them. But in day to day living, I certainly am not always patient. I have my times where I can be downright snappy. I have a habit of bringing up the past when I am hurt or angry. I have times of doubt and discouragement. I can be selfish and self serving. I will admit it.....I sometimes love conditionally. My love for others is sometimes based when they fulfill a condition I require. Or sometimes it waivers based on feelings and emotions.
So although I "boast" on my love of others.....am I really loving others the way God wants me to? Do I really feel love when my kids show disrespect? Do I really feel love and peace in my heart when I force myself to be kind to people who have hurt me in the past? Do I really feel love in my heart when I am holding that grudge or reminding my husband of his shortcomings? Hmmm.....
How thankful I am that God sticks to His definition of love with me.
God waits patiently for me....when I am off doing my own thing, He never gets irritated or anxious. When I came to Him.....filthy and weak.....He wrapped His loving arms around me, filled with kindness and compassion. He did not and does not point out my wrongdoings (more like trainwrecks). He does not place blame or guilt on me. No, He simply embraces me and washes me clean. He loves me unconditionally. He loves me when I am shining His Light, and also when I am in my own murky darkness. He loves me when I am on fire for Him and surrounded by a body of Believers....and even when I choose to push Him aside and travel solo. He loves me when I am on top of the mountain.....and when I am wallowing in the valleys. He loves me when I am serving others.......and also when I am serving myself. He loves me when I am praising His name....and still loves me when I question His ways. God's love is beyond what I (we) expect or deserve. He lets me (us) do what I (we) want, but rejoices when I (we) choose to love Him in return. Bottom line. His love is unconditional, never failing, unwaivering.....it is amazing.
And guess what? He loves you just the same. He loves us all this way. Not sure who needed to hear this today, but something in my heart (God) wanted me to tell you. He wants us to feel the freedom that His love will bring. His love will tear down any walls that have been built up.....His love will bring you to a supernatural place of peace and joy....
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies ~Psalm 36:5
With 2010 coming soon...I hope and pray that I am able to have more of Christ and His unconditional, unfailing love in me. I encourage you to print this out and insert your name in the spaces. Speak these words over yourself every morning. Ask God to pour His love.....His eyes, His hands, His heart into you.....and just see what happens.
________ is patient,
________ is kind.
________ does not envy, it does not boast,
________ is not proud.
________ is not rude,
________ is not self-seeking,
________ is not easily angered,
________ keeps no record of wrongs.
________ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
________ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I pray you are blessed with a safe and happy new year.....I have "met" so many beautiful people with my blog this past year. So many of you are doing such great things in the name of Jesus....I can't wait to see what God has in store for me as well!
Peace and love~
May all Jesus is......
and all He gives....
bless you this Christmas and always!
Sharing our annual Christmas letter with you.
Please try not to cringe at my first attempt at poetry,
just pretend that it flows nicely. :)
‘Twas the night before Christmas; It’s that time again?
It’s been a full year of blessings, can we get an Amen?
There’s a roof o’er our heads; and our bellies are full
We all have been healthy; For these we are thankful.
With the kids getting older, things were getting too calm
So we decided to start our very own farm.
We have 25+ chickens and six roosters too;
Our chickens are laying eggs of brown, green and blue
There are bunnies and kitties; Our goats total seven;
A perfect sized farm…. Our own slice of Heaven.
Putting Mufasa in charge was a plan that went south;
We were constantly pulling chicks out of his mouth.
We thought something’s missing; should we examine our heads?
So we’re adding a few more….Our goats have been bred.
So, more mouths to feed; Yes, we’ve gone flipped our lids;
But you know we always said we’d love some more “kids”.
Gunner’s almost six four; Star of his team;
Playing for the Celtics is his ultimate dream.
Hunter’s thing is his camera; His MAC, most would envy;
He is def. on his way to making a movie.
Ezra’s hard work paid off after weeks of thirteen
He’s now an official U.S. Young Marine
Nevaeh’s is the one who is running the farm;
There is always a chicken tucked under her arm.
She shovels the poop; She lugs bales of hay
Not one animal will be without love for the day.
We need to live Christmas every single day;
May peace fill your heart; That’s something we pray
And speaking of praying, one thing we hope for
Saying “PLEASE” less, and the words “THANK YOU” more.
Don’t forget about Jesus; For He is the reason
We are able to celebrate this glorious Season.
So there you have it… An update from us;
We hope you are blessed with a Merry Christmas.
Peace and love~ Josh, Michelle and the gang
For unto you is born this day
in the city of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord.
(little sis is likely to throw a tantrum as well if word got out)
This weekend we celebrated Gunner's 18th birthday....yes 18!!! Can you believe that? I cannot. I asked Josh when he got so old to have an 18 year old son.
We were not going to let the 20+ inches of beautiful snow that got dumped our way stop us from celebrating this special day. Gunner bundled up, grabbed the shovel and made a path to the truck. He was determined to pick up his girlfriend so that they could spend the day together. After they made it home safely, we made pizza, baked cookies and stayed in comfy clothes for the majority of the day (church was canceled). Then we shoveled out the truck......again......kicked it into 4 wheel drive and all headed out to the Mall later in the evening. It was just the way Gunner wanted to celebrate, a simple day packed with this favorite things in life....family, food and fun. It was perfect in every way.
In light of recent events, you can imagine that this was another very emotional day for me. I kept it together pretty well and decided to hang onto all the joy I could get my heart and hands on. It just blows my mind to think of how quickly 18 years has flown by.....I can't even wrap my head around it all.
To think.....that May 5, 1991.......the day I found out I was pregnant was the turning point in my life. It was day I stopped thinking about me.....and started thinking about Him. Yes.....Him.....God.
It was then, when I was still so lost......that I made a "deal" with God. A deal that if He gave us a healthy child, I would never touch a drug again. Little did I know that God didn't need me to strike any deals to gain His grace.
It was then, that I started to search. I didn't even know what I was searching for, I just knew that there had to be more in life. Little did I know that God was my Lighthouse, ready to show me the Way...... had I only taken my eyes off of me and looked Up.
It was then, that He gave me the Ultimate gift. A gift that, in the natural......was only the size of a piece of rice....but brought a supernatural amount of love that I have never felt before. It was the love of a becoming a mother. It was the miraculous gift of carrying this life that was given to me.....a precious and ever so perfect gift from Above.
So here he is......in all his goofy glory. I am probably a little bias, but I have to tell you that he is one of the kindest kids you will ever meet. He has struggled with attention/retention issues all his life (unfortunately, he got that from me) but he never gives up. His sense of humor is off the wall (as you can see in this homecoming/senior photo....he is SO not the "thinker" type) His nickname is The Mayor as he is friends with everyone. He will give you (or a stranger) the shirt off his back. He loves sports, is very competitive (something else that he gets from me!)....he loves music.....he loves laughing....and most of all, he loves Jesus.
At the end of our night.....I gave him a big hug and handed him this note. I hope he keeps it tucked away safe and reads it from time to time as he ventures into this new chapter in his life.
Happy Birthday Gunner!
Words cannot express how proud your dad and I are of you. You are now a man…..but will always be my little boy. You have grown into such a beautiful person….on the inside and out.
Your love of Christ makes my heart swell….always continue to follow Him. In fact, I encourage you to chase Him. He will never let you down. When you keep your eyes fixed on Him, everything else will fall into place in your life. Even when the road in life gets bumpy, remember that He is with you always and will never let you go. It is within those rocky times that we learn and grow and come out stronger than before.
I pray that your life is filled with joy, peace and happiness….for these gifts you have constantly shared with us. God gave you the gift of humor….never stop laughing.
We pray that wherever your path leads you……you are happy. Success is not measured by money or materialistic gains. Success follows doing what you want to do. Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person God wants you to be.
And as you receive your gifts for your birthday…..know that it is I who has gotten the most precious gift of all. I had been given the Ultimate gift from God 18 years ago. The gift of motherhood. For it was because of you that I was brought into a place where my heart was no longer just mine. I didn’t know the full meaning of love until you were placed in my arms. It was an instant “I would die for you” kind of love.
Always know…..that no matter how old you are, how big you are…..I will always be your mom and always will be here for whatever you need.
I love you, Gunner…
Thank you for allowing me to share my firstborn son with you.....
ps. Thank you again for the overwhelming outpouring of prayers that were offered and lifted up our name this past weekend. What a blessing to be surrounded by such an awesome circle of friends who share our love and faith in Jesus. We know and believe He is good.....all.the.time.!
So yeah, the holidays can bring upon such an avalanche of emotions for us all. Kids are anxious and getting a serious case of the "I wants" due to being bombarded with the arsenal of advertising. It can be a time of mourning when those whose presence is missed. Spending time with family and loved ones will bring joy to most....but for others, it can be trying to overlook the quirky members of their family tree. Holidays can be a time of excess....not only with spending too much money, but the over indulgence of eating and drinking. It can bring depression to many who feel they do not have enough, yet joy and peace to those who know they do.
I am finding that the best way to keep Christ in Christmas, is to keep Him in your daily life......keep Him close while you are shopping in the hustle and bustle, even when that lady cuts you off for that parking spot. Keep Him close when wracking your brain for that perfect gift for someone, free yourself and remember there is no perfect gift, only the One that God gave the world......His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ.
Something I was hesitant to share.....but have chosen to do so as this blog is my place to pour out and heal. I know I am surrounded by such a wonderful circle of friends who are always ready, willing and able to share in what is going on in my life. This includes the good.....and not so good.
I am being brought on another bumpy ride on the Emotional Trail with another early pregnancy loss for Josh and I this past week. I was hoping/praying to announce my new name was "Sarah" being pregnant in my old age, but God had different plans for this little blessing and took our little "Isaac" back Home. And although my heart is hurting, I will continue to look to Him for comfort and peace. My bestest friend gently and lovingly reminded me that sometimes God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.....so although I don't understand, I need to remember and trust that His ways are not our ways and He is good......all.the.time!
So as I gather up all these emotions and sort through them.....I want to share this amazing video and song that is guaranteed to stir up some raw emotions in you. It is probably my favorite Christmas song of all times. Enjoy and be blessed.......
(*remember to pause my music)
This is about my daughter's first experience with "puppy love" that goes beyond the typical adoring affection of a young one.
Now I am sure you know by now, I am a mushy mama. And when it comes to sentimental Christmas movies.....there is usually no doubt that there will be boogies and tears.
For example, I still sniffle away when the Little Drummer Boy plays for Jesus....and I always get choked up when Linus preaches his message on The Charlie Brown Christmas. It doesn't matter that I have probably seen this movie over 100 times in my lifetime.....I get that lump in my throat every time I watch it!
N is the apple that apparently hasn't fall from the tree. She has been watching all the Christmas classics since mid November. She is all about Christmas.....and all about animals. So when I saw this new Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, A Dog Named Christmas being broadcast, I knew I had to record it.
I won't blow the movie for you in case you are going to watch it.....(I think it is going to be re-broadcasted soon) but it is a story about a developmentally challenged boy, Todd (who is played by Noel Fisher). He lives on a farm and adopts a dog temporarily for Christmas. He ends up encouraging others to do the same all while teaching his community about peace on earth and goodwill toward men--and animals.
Well N connected instantly with "Todd". I could see a twinkle in her eye when he first appeared on the screen. After about 15 minutes, she noticed that his speech was a little delayed, so she asked me why he talked a little differently. I told her that he was just special, that's all. Not thinking anything about it, she replied...."He sure is".....and then with the sweetest little grin, she added "He also is cute"
She had her eyes intently fixed on Todd, everything about him...scene by scene. She would curl up in a ball, wrapped in blankets and a smile wouldn't leave her face for the whole 2 hours! At the end of the movie....she told me that she had something to tell me. I thought I had an idea on what is was going to be. But she took me for a loop with this....
She told me "Mom, you know how you told me that God promises to bring the perfect someone in my life to marry? Well I think mine is Todd. No, I know it is Todd. He is perfect for me. I don't care that is he special....that makes it better! I am going to write a letter to him and let him know. Btw, can we watch that movie again?"
My heart swelled looking at her sweet eyes. So sincere. So innocent. So full of a pure love for someone else, based on looking in their heart.....rather than their outward appearance.
I gave her a big hug and we grabbed some paper for that letter.
I was torn on how to handle the reality of her distinguishing between actor and character. I didn't want to be the big mean mother who crashes her dreams, but I also didn't want her to be disappointed if/when she saw him playing some polar opposite role in an another up and coming movie.
So I decided to just ask her if she realized that this was a movie and compared it to the show, iCarly. She knows that actress, Miranda Cosgrove plays Carly. She said that she did understand and we then went to look up Noel Fisher online. We needed to find out if there was a fan club of some sort for her to send her letter. When the image search came up, there were photos of him looking quite different and that was a little upsetting to N. She couldn't understand why he would change his hair when she loved it the way it was. Again, I tried to gently explain that he might have needed to change it for a new movie...
.....because he was an actor.
I was getting a little concerned, until what came next out of her mouth. As she was frantically clicking through the images to find a shot of "Todd", she noticed that in most of his photos, he was wearing a cross....she said. "Oh, I totally know he is the one for me......look! He loves God too!"
It was then, that the fact if she really understood the whole actor/character was not important anymore. I needed to let her go with her heart with this. Why would I crush her spirit or her faith that God would find a way for her dream to happen?
I emailed Hallmark and shared N's story along with the request for an address to mail her letter to. Surprisingly, we got a reply within hours from a very nice woman, Ellen, who thought it was precious and gave us Noel's agent's contact information. She also said that Noel was a really sweet guy and would love to hear from her.
Here is her letter. We included some photos of her with her animals along with her marriage proposal.
My name is Nevy. I really loved your movie. We have alot in common. We both love animals, Christmas and God. We would make a good couple. I am 7 so I know will will have to wait to get married. I hope you have a Merry Christmas!
She wanted to add that there was a house down the street for sale and that he could move there until she was old enough to marry him, but unfortunately she ran out of room on her paper.
My little girl taught me so much with this.....not only about the beauty of loving people for what is on the inside, but also to have that child-like faith that God will always provide as He promises.
God, I pray that I keep the faith even when my hopes and dreams seem a little far-fetched or unrealistic. Remind me that nothing is impossible with you, Lord.
I hope this finds you with the joy of the Season in your heart.
Peace and love~
Was it meeting this little one who was only a few hours old? Yes, we were blessed to visit a friend who's mama goat Annie, had three babies.....perfect replicas of their loving mama who was the kindest and most loving animal I've met so far? Yes...the miracle of new life....how can anyone witness that and not give God all the glory?
Or was it this perfect rainbow that I saw later that day? I took that with my cell phone camera. It is almost too perfect to be "real" isn't it?
Maybe I was getting overly sentimental when I came across this photo of my little girl, only months old for her very first Christmas. She just has this look of wonder in her eyes.....little did she know that she was a miraculous gift from above (you can read more about this story over at Josh's blog)
......or was it when I was brought to tears listening to this pastor talk about when Isaac asked Abraham where the sacrifice was.....Abraham replied that God would provide The Sacrifice? When he spoke about the ram caught in the thicket, he described it as wearing a crown of thorns?
I think it is all of the above.
But nothing brings me to my knees in overwhelming emotion, especially during this Season, than the ultimate Gift that God has given us.....given us ALL.
His Son, Jesus Christ.
Miracles surround Christ's birth....Jesus Christ, born of a virgin; He had no earthly father. That miraculous star that led the wise men to worship Him. The band of angels that announced His birth.
.......yes, and the miracles continued throughout His life......all to bear testimony to God's amazing love for us!
I hope you can take the time today to notice even the littlest blessings and gifts from Above in your day. I pray that it might be something you see.....or possibly a thought, that makes you stop in your tracks and stand in awesome wonder of Our Creator.
Ah yes.....the famous words of the Burgermeister Meisterburger. You know him, the grouchy, fun-loathing mayor of Sombertown from Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. (which btw is one of my favorite classic animated Christmas shows.....first being The Little Drummer Boy)
Well that is who I was last night. I was miserable and ill tempered. I was barking orders at the kids. Every little thing set me off to a Code Red status.
There was nothing in particular, that I can think of, that brought me to this Burgermeister state of being. Maybe it was because my house was upside down and I was getting overwhelmed........maybe it was due to an overly scheduled and hectic week, or was it seeing my checking account got down to $3.96 (not kidding! God sure does have a sense of humor with His accounting)......I could blame it on hormones......perhaps a combination of them all. Regardless......I created my own version of Sombertown and I was the Mayor.
This morning, I looked up the meaning of somber;
-adjective 1. gloomily dark; shadowy; dimly lighted 2. gloomy, depressed, dismal.
Yep. That was me, alright. What grabbed my attention the most with this part of the definition was "dimly lighted"
I had no Light. God's Light was totally missing. And get this.....looking back.....I was totally keeping the shades drawn to purposely keep it out. As I stormed walked around the house, I truly felt validated with how I was acting and treating everyone. I am ashamed to admit (but you know I will lay it all out here) that even while decorating our tree, I felt the need to keep that snappy edge on to get my message across. How sad is that?
So this might be going out on a limb, but it was like the scene from that movie only with my own character substitutions.......(I got this from the Internet Movie Database while searching for a Burgermeister photo and it just seemed perfect!)
(insert me actually starting to have fun with the kids....I think I might have even cracked a smile)
So OK, maybe it's a little quirky of me to represent how God desire to give us peace by referencing a 1970 stop motion TV special......but to me, it was like God was still trying to shine His Light in my dark gloomy world/day by offering the chance to turn it all around with decorating the tree. He did not turn His back on me even as I was turning my back on Him. I should have graciously accepted His gift of grace when I certainly didn't deserve it. But I had been gripped/bound by my own emotions, I was stubborn and continued to stay angry.
And all it did was rob me (and my children) of joy.
So today, I am giving thanks to our God who wipes the slate clean and gives us/me a new day to make things right. A fresh start.....I cannot take away the ugly from yesterday, but I am given the beautiful opportunity to apologize to everyone and start fresh.
My first order of business in asking forgiveness is to God. I feel that it must be such a slap in the face to Him when I was holding onto anger and bitterness. He has blessed my socks off, but yet I found something negative to focus on and gave full authority for it to rule my actions.
So now I pray: Dear Lord, Help me honor You when the battles rage inside me. I don't want to hurt and fight with the people I love. I don't want to disappoint You. I need You to help me with keeping my emotions in check. I need You to help direct my steps/reactions. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Thankfully.....just like in the movie, there is true Victory in Christ. From Wikipedia's summary:
"As time continues to pass, though, the Burgermeister regime ends, as their forebears begin dying off and falling out of power, at which point the Sombertowners realize how ludicrous the Meisterburger "laws" really were while Kris Kringle "legend" continues to go worldwide"
brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
So my friends, if you got this far, without thinking I was too loony or off-the-wall with my thought process (I've been called worse!).....I hope you are blessed with a wonderful weekend filled with Light and Happiness.
(*handmade wreath created by my son Ezra yesterday)
**I know there are some conflicts over the peace sign in Christianity, my son made this on his own with the concept of true peace in his heart.....
After surviving a week of cooking, shopping, cleaning, decorating, shuffling, bustling, and lots of eating.....I thought today would be a good day to lighten up and join in on the Not Me Monday Fun. It's a great way to look back and just have a good laugh at your own expense which, as you know.....I am totally all about.
So without further adieu (what does that mean anyway???).......I give you a little glimpse of a few days in the life of *~Michelle~*
I will not shameless start by encouraging you to start following my other blog, The Jesse Tree. This is a nightly devotional, starting tonight and is a beautiful way to learn the story of God's salvation plan from Creation throughout the Old Testament. You can get your crafty-self on and make ornaments if you would like for each devotion. It's just a wonderful way to spend a little more time with your family/children and really take in what this Season is truly about.
I also will not
How awesome will it be to have so many families worshiping together.....all in the name of Jesus!!!
This weekend, I did not notice while driving to my 25th high school reunion that I only polished ONE hand! Nahhhhhhh.....I wouldn't be that scatterbrained. So I did not have to stop at a pharmacy on the way and try to match up the polish colors. I certainly did not walk around with two different shades of brown nails. Nope! Not me! But, this is a picture of me and my dear friend Karen, we've been friends since Kindergarten!
(And I know that you did NOT immediately just calculate how old I am with that last statement .......you would never do that! *wink)
I did not make arrangements to pick up our mama goats from their "brothel visit" as my 18-year-old son calls it this morning. Apparently, he has come to the conclusion that we are part of a goat prostitution ring since we paid a stud fee......and is quite disgusted about it.
When we headed out for Round 2 of Black Friday shopping........I did not accuse Josh of being scatter brained about leaving his wallet and cell phone at home. I did not relentlessly tease him for approximately five full minutes that my ADD was rubbing off on him after all these years together........all while I was sitting on them the whole time. No, my butt can not be that padded that I wouldn't notice.
And lastly.....I did not walk in on my toothless princess one night to find her watching TV in my room........in my bed.......with a chicken!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes.....she brought Poof (remember that story???) in and had him wrapped up in a towel, sleeping bag style and they were watching iCarly together. Of course I was tempted to take a picture, but thought that might encourage the matter more. *sigh* I told you she was Elly May Clampett!
OK, I must get going, I hope I gave you a good giggle on my behalf today.....I'm good like that!
Tons to do......we are getting our Christmas tree tonight, so I have furniture to move and dust bunnies to trap. I hope you had a blessed and safe Thanksgiving break.....don't forget to join us in worship with The Jesse Tree!
Peace and love~
I am posting today because I know I am going to be getting wrapped up in the busyness that this week brings about and probably won't be on the computer too much. Yes, this week is the onset of the "time-suck" that can happen with the Holiday Season....even though most retailers got that memo prematurely with Christmas decorations being displayed before
Anyway, for many of us.....this week will be busy. Some families are getting ready to travel as they are spending Thanksgiving with distant relatives. Some need the whole week to get mentally prepared to spend time with said distant relatives.
Some people are scrambling to get their homes cleaned and shopping for the great feast. Some are devoting their time to help the less fortunate such as collecting items for food baskets or preparing for a soup kitchen for those who have no where to go on Thursday. High school kids are getting riled up for the head-to-head rival football games while many shoppers are making their strategy plans for the adventure of Black Friday shopping.......And some have their hands inside a headless turkey pulling out some nasty stuff so that we can have that fresh bird on the table Thursday. (that's for you, Julia)
We have a nice assortment of plans this week. Today we join the homeschooling group for a pot-luck feast, the Thanks and Giving event. After we have our meal, everyone gets into an assembly line. We have bins with all the ingredients laid out and we put together bread and soup mixes as gifts for the local food pantries. It's a blessing to see even the youngest children taking part and teaching them how important it is to help out people in need.
Later this week we get to
Thanksgiving Day starts off with the boys working at the football game, and the rest of us helping out for a few hours at a food pantry. Then we head off to Josh's parents for a feast fit for a king. It's funny....I am not a huge eater, but for some reason, for this meal.....I load my plate up to the point that it needs sideboards. I have the perfect portion of mashed potatoes, turkey and veggies to do my three point fork-full of heaven. You know......piece of turkey, swirled into the mashed potatoes and then the veggies can stick on top. After I finish that last bit of butternut squash I politely excuse myself from the table. I then change into my comfy plaid yoga pants as the circulation in my stomach region is starting to get cut off and return to the table. Most people do not even notice the fashion disaster I am sporting.....or if they do, they are polite enough not to say anything. If fact, I think most are just envious that they didn't think to do the same.
Be prepared people!
Now that I have more room, I indulge in a slice of cranberry nut bread and a piece of pumpkin pie. Then I wash it all down with a cup of decaf coffee. Because I cannot screw up the chances of my grand finale when I slip out into the den......and slip into a Tryptophan induced unconsciousness for about an hour. Yes, this plan is executed and now perfected every year.
So now, in honor of Josh and his Native American heritage, I leave you with a two different things to ponder/ingest today. This first one is just a simple Truth written by an anonymous Native American that has been passed down through the generations:
Let us not only give thanks to God for what He has already done......but believe His word and His promise that there is more to come! Know that He is the Author and Finisher of our lives and trust that that He has great plans for our lives.
And secondly.....I have always said that God's gifts and blessings are too many to count. When I am empty, He fills me......when I am hungry, He feeds me. I am so thankful for my family, our health and the blessings we receive everyday. As I recently shared.....I am also thankful for all the new friendships I have made in the blogosphere.
If I had to say the most important thing I am thankful for......it is my Salvation. Salvation that I could never earn, but has been so graciously given to me by the one and only Jesus Christ. I want to keep living my life the way it is pleasing to Him. I need His guidance and wisdom in every step of my life.
Native American Prayer
(translated by Lakota Sioux chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
whose voice I hear in the winds
and whose breath gives life to everyone,
I come to You as one of Your many children;
I am weak... I am small...I need your wisdom and your strength.
Let me walk in beauty,
and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunsets.
Make my hands respect the things You have made,
and make my ears sharp so I may hear Your voice.
Make me wise,
so that I may understand what You have taught my people
and the lessons you have hidden in each leaf and each rock.
I ask for wisdom and strength,
Not to be superior to my brothers,
but to be able to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me ever ready to come before You
with clean hands and a straight eye,
so as life fades away as a fading sunset,
my spirit may come to You without shame.
Happy Thanksgiving my friends, be safe......and remember......wherever, whenever and with whomever you are celebrating your turkey dinner with.....
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. ~Psalm 100:4-5
Eggs play a pretty important role in our lives when you think about it. Most importantly, we, meaning me and you.....started out as an egg.
Eggs are also used in common references such as.....a brainy person is often called an egghead.
If you blurt out something that comes back to bite you in the butt......you have egg on your face.
Dealing with an overly sensitive person? You are walking on eggshells.
You never wanted to come in last in a relay race as a child, or you'd be the rotten egg.
Wanna stir up a great debate? Ask which came first, the chicken or the egg. (*I go with chicken)
OK, back to our eggs.....focus Michelle, focus!
So even though we start out with a carton of various colors, shapes and sizes of eggs here at our house, they all scramble up the same. Although they came from different breeds, when brought together.......they serve the same purpose.
Isn't that true with Christians/Followers of Christ? I am finding out, even more so with the blogging world.....that although we all come from different "breeds" and backgrounds, we all are called for the same purpose. We are called to yield the same fruit/seed.
Another side note.....(I promise to tie it all together) When we went to the concert this past weekend....this concept rang true as well (as did my ears). It reminded me of a mini version of The Soulfest. The line-up was five bands.....all with different styles. Therefore attracting a variety of fans. There were the hardcore youth who came to see the insanely energetic Family Force 5, who were responsible for my blown-out kneecaps and ringing ears.....then David Crowder brought in a more mellow crowd. But I can assure you that in reference to DC*B, "mellow" can only describe the mesmerizing, almost hypnotic level of worship with his amazing performance.....and bringing the house down for a grand finale was the southern rock style of Third Day who brought everyone to their feet to dance and sing.
Again.....completely different styles of worship, but all with the same purpose. To glorify God, encourage others to put their faith and hope in the Only One who brings Life......to bring everyone from all walks of life and different denominations together with a common purpose.
I guess today, what I trying to say......is that I am blown away when I visit my fellow Believer's blogs and find that common thread that is woven within us and keeps us all connected. Although we all come from different denominations and maybe have slightly different interpretation of The Bible....... we believe in the same concept, Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth.....He is Life.
I enjoy and appreciate all the variety of friends I have made through the blogging world. Some have been born and raised in Christian homes and have stayed tried and true on their path to salvation. Some of us......including me.....were not always living as we should, and only by the grace of God were saved and have found The Way. I have befriended some great encouragers who always offer such hope. Then I visit others who are so inspiring, they are born leaders......they take a stand on an issue that is dear to their heart and set out to accomplish their goals. I visit certain blogs where I know I will get my toes stepped on......but in a healthy convicting way. I have a special place in my heart for the bloggers who just keep it real and raw with their transparency. And of course I always enjoy my fun loving friends who insert just the right amount of humor to fill my daily needed dose of laughter.
So today......I want to thank you all for just being who you are. You all bring so much to my life, and I am so thankful to have "met" each and every one of you. I am thankful that God has a plan for each and everyone of us. Christy Rose passed an award onto me about adding sunshine to her day (I cannot get the image to work!!!).......so now, I am passing along this award to every person who has brightened my life and added SONshine in any way. So if you are reading this now, you've left a kind word my way or I've visited your place and done the same...... considered yourself "tagged" with my own farmgirl version of the award, let's call it the "Good Egg" award. (**yes, this is my cheeseball and corny side)
And lastly......I thank you all again for the outpouring of prayers and emails that still have been coming my way.....so keeping it consistently corny and cheeseball til the end....I'll leave you with this quote from Bernard Meltzer.
even though he knows that you are slightly cracked."
.....I am blessed and honored to be featured over at Abundant Living today! Tracy is a wonderful sister in Christ who I am blessed to call a friend. She chose to share a post I wrote last December (when I had about 4 reader friends.....one being Josh) that I think is perfect now that the Holidays are rapidly approaching. Follow me on over!
Peace and love~
ps. If you get a moment and you are in the blog hoppin' mood......check out my hubby Josh's recent post about how something so little can flip your world upside down....or inside out....or put it all back together......you decide. ;)
With that said.....we are still amidst some trials. And you know, in the big scheme of things, we know we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams and these are just little roadblocks/hurdles that are arising during our journey.
Part of me wants to think the enemy saw the door slightly ajar last weekend and jammed his foot right in. And he took the opportunity to find each of our weaknesses and kick us when we were down. And that's how quickly it can happen.....when our guard is down and we are distracted with our own emotional hangups, we become vulnerable for more his attacks and adversity. The negativity stemming from his presence is like a powerful magnet now pulling in more junk to try to cloud our judgment/focus even more.
Going with another avenue and not wanting to give the enemy any credit for anything in life, I can look at these trials as part of God's refinement plan for our lives. I know that God can allow and/or bring situations into our lives so that we are forced to walk through the fires and burn off things that need to be removed.
So I guess what I am trying to say, is that I do not have the answers to why these things happen in our lives......our ways are not His ways, our thoughts are not His thoughts. But what I do know is that we are so thankful that we have God in our lives and we continue to keep our eyes focused on Him. He is the ultimate Navigator during these storms......He is The Lighthouse that shows us the Way. Thankfully, through the power of prayer and faith, we are pressing ahead and will come out of these refining fires more purified.....
This reminds me of a story that was emailed to me one time.....I saved it so that I can turn to it when I find myself in the middle of a trial. So now I want to share it with you:
Malachi 3:3: 'He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.'
This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.
One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at their next Bible Study.
That week, the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining Silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.
The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot; then she thought again about the verse that says: 'He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver.' She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.
The man answered that yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, 'How do you know when the silver is fully refined?'
He smiled at her and answered, 'Oh, that's easy -- when I see my image in it.'So, if today you are feeling the heat of your own fire, remember that God has His eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.
I will leave you with this song that I have been playing over and over this week......it's off the new CD by Kutless who rocked our socks off at Soulfest '08.
Enjoy and have a blessed weekend~
PS. don't want to get y'all a teeny bit jealous (that wouldn't be a very Christian thing to do, now would it? *teasing!! gotta keep my quirky sense of humor around).....but our family is blessed to be going to a Rock The Sound V concert this weekend with David Crowder, Third Day, Family Force Five and a few other bands. This event couldn't be happening at a better time......as a family, this week has been rough......and are so grateful that we have this opportunity to bring us closer to each other and worship together. We are all looking forward to a full night of praise and worship!!!
*don't forget to pause my playlist
Our family is under attack. We know and believe it is only because we are shining God's light and the enemy wants to extinguish it when we are spreading His Good News and are becoming more effective. His job is to send issues our way....distract us and take our focus off of God. Pray that we recognize God's grace/purpose and the mercy that He is showing us by providing us the opportunity for us to work through these issues. We believe that God can and will turn what was meant for bad into good.
I have always kept it open and real, but at this time.....I need to keep our matters private, as I hope you can understand.
Thank you all.....
See? Aren't you glad I am taking you into my heart instead?
But for this trip, you might need to pack some extra tools because I have this wall around it that needs tearing down. Yes, I am having one of my not so finer moments in my walk of Christ and am having a struggle with bitterness and unforgiveness.
And it s*cks. "scuse my language, but it does.
(trying to talk myself into thinking the asterisk takes a little edge off of it)
I won't bore you with the details of who, what, why and all that.....but I will tell you that it didn't stop with just one person or one incident. And I'll let you in on an ugly truth. I can hold a mean grudge at times. I am not proud of it, but I am being real.
So, it started Friday night with a spat with one of my sons who was displaying a perfect example of this "Generation Entitlement" and it spiraled downward. It was like the spiral turned into a tornado and anyone who was not a safe distance from me, got sucked into my twister of bitterness. Saturday morning, I woke up with that same ugly chip on my shoulder and no one was safe from my wrath. I thought I would be able to start a new day with a new brighter outlook, but bitterness had it's foot jammed in the doorway of my heart and I was unable to push it out.
In the Bible it is known that being bitter destroys. The phrase, "the bitter water that brings a curse" for example is found quite a few times.
And I did have a curse on me. All it would take is someone looking at me with a crooked eye and I instantly started formulating a list in my head of all that person did in the past to "wrong" me. It was like I felt more empowered building that list as if each entry was more ammunition to use. I even practice the fury that I would be unleashing on them, when the time was just right. I had it all planned out and it festered within me, causing more anger to boil through my veins.
I am pretty sure I appeared as ugly on the outside as I was in the inside. I was walking around with a permanent scorn on my face (causing hideous wrinkles and frown lines prematurely I am sure)......I was tense and snappy, wound up like a top ready to spin out of control.
I was frustrated. I was stewing. I started reliving past hurts and found a bizarre sense of comfort settling into this state of resentment. I was destroying myself from the inside out. I was exhausted physically as well as emotionally.
Due to my pissy pants mood.....I found myself wanting to be alone to sulk and pout. So I ran random errands throughout the day. I jumped into Josh's truck to buy some hay and feed. I had the Third Day CD in and had it cranked....probably one step below blowing out speakers level, because we all know that when you are frustrated/angry.....loud music is needed. Of course the lyrics brought me to tears as I felt God trying to warm my cold angry heart. I actually pulled over at one point and just sobbed for a few minutes. It was like holding all that negative emotion was pumping negative energy into my internal boiler that needed to be cracked open to release some steam. I felt temporary relief and headed back home....but the anger and resentment started resurfacing. It was as if I felt validated staying upset in some warped way.
*a little side note from my ADD brain.....but something that just dawned on me. Do you see a correlation here being angry and common references such as blowing off steam, fuming, fiery, boiling, combustion, all referring to extreme heat as in that really HOT PLACE......otherwise known as H-E-double hockey sticks? Hmmmm.
So, today.......I wake up this morning feeling so empty and drained. What good did it do to stay angry all weekend? Nothing. In fact, it robbed me of 48 hours that I will never get back. I was totally ripped off. But it was no-one's fault but my own. I take full responsibility.....instead of looking Up, I was looking inward. I was feeding my own desire to take control. I felt wronged and wanted justice. I had no control over how others treated me, but I did have control of my emotions and felt like I wanted to call the shots, even if it was the power of staying angry. I gave the enemy a written invitation to my heart. And that is what the enemy is.......a total rip-off. He is a thief who only has one mission. To rob and destroy. Mission accomplished.
I think it is Paul who wrote to the Ephesians (I told you I am not great at knowing all the details).....but I do know what he is trying to teach us (me) especially in Chapter 4
".........Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace......
........In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.....
and here is where Paul brings it ALL HOME:
.....Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."
wow.....that feels like a punch in the gut right now.
Imagine if God kept a list of all the screw ups I did tucked in His back pocket to use as ammunition? I don't think His robe would be able to fit a scroll that long.
No, God is quite the opposite....He tosses our sins in the Sea of Forgetfulness. (Micah 7:19) Although my sins are like scarlet, He turns them white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18) He puts all my sins behind His back. (Isaiah 38:17)
So today, I want to purge my heart of unforgiveness. Ironically, I am praying that God forgives me for not forgiving others. I pray that the "curse of bitterness" is broken off of me and I can begin this week with a new heart, a heart that God commands me to have. He commands me to have this heart because He knows the freedom it will bring me. He knows it will release me from the burden and the junk I am carrying around.
So there you have it.....I give you the good, the bad and the ugly with my blog. Today, this surely is the latter two.
Peace and love~
.......so I will turn to the Only One who can.
Praying for the families who lost a loved one and everyone who has suffered trauma from the shooting at Ft. Hood. Praying for emotional and spiritual healing as well as physical healing. Also praying that everyone can pull together during this time of grieving and mourning and find comfort in God.
Though they (we) are in this time of confusion, pain and overwhelming grief....I realize that many of them (us) will not be able to see past today. But I pray that they (we) know that Your great love will never fail them (us).
For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love~Lamentation 3:31-32
No, this is about my little girl who for the first time, had her first test of faith and questioned God.
It all started out this past Sunday morning. Not sure if it was a combination of a candy hangover from the night before and/or how toasty it was to stay in my flannel sheets that extra hour, but I had a hard time waking up and getting a start on the day. It was one of those mornings where there was a little frost on the ground which made it even more difficult to think about getting out of bed. But we knew we had to.....so Josh and I struck a deal. He would go out and take care of the animals, I would make breakfast and get everyone up for church. I think I scored on that deal.
So as I am starting to make coffee....the phone rings. It's Josh calling me from the barn. He says....."Uh, I think you better come out here". From many past experiences....that usually is not a good thing.
I threw on his construction boots and a sweatshirt and ran to the barn. When I flew open the door, what I saw was not pretty. One of our bunnies had a litter of six babies and they were all strewn about the cage frozen and lifeless. I was in complete shock because..... let me let you in on something. We were under the impression that Snowball was a male. And (s)he didn't even appear to be any fatter these past few weeks....not to mention, we just put her/him in a cage a while back separate from our other bunny, Hershey.
You see......we are in the habit letting all our animals, including the bunnies, be "free range". Well my neighbor came over a few weeks back and told us that although he didn't care about our chickens going over for a visit.....the bunnies were pretty much torturing his dogs. Come to find out, he trains his dogs for hunting with rabbits and it was getting a little difficult to reason with two Labradors and let them know that these were not the rabbits they have been trained to chase and catch. So when our bunnies would hang out in his driveway and the dogs were starting to shred the screens in his windows trying to get out.....he thought it might be time to let us know.
So getting back to the baby bunnies.....My first words were "Oh my God!".....Josh's first words were "How did this happen??" I didn't have time to give Josh the lowdown on reproduction...so I just gave him that look instead. You know....the one-eyebrow-raised and chin-tucked-back look.
Josh then said....."Oh man,I think they are all dead....feel them, they are frozen" And sure enough, they all were like ice cubes. As I started picking them up one by one, I couldn't figure out why Snowball didn't tend to them and/or prepare a nest.
As I was picking one up I noticed that one moved it's mouth a bit.....I screamed, "This one is still alive!". So I scooped them all up and tucked them in the pockets of my sweatshirt and ran back in the house.
I yelled down to Nev to wake up and that I needed help. She came out all groggy.....her hair looked like a rat's nest and her eyes were barely open. I told her to get the heat lamp quick....she took one look at these little creatures that resembled naked mole rats and dashed off to find the lamp. As she is scrambling she is asking what they were. I told her that Snowball had these babies and we are trying to save them. She brings over the lamp, her eyes are now as big as saucers and says...."But I thought that Snowball was a boy".
"Yeah, you and me both" I replied.
We started our best efforts at bunny CPR and got three to start breathing on their own. The other three didn't stand a chance. After about 5 minutes, one of the three just couldn't keep up with breathing and passed as well.
So we had two alive. Now we had to figure out how to keep them alive. Baby bunnies do not thrive well without their mom. Even though we researched and found out that mama bunnies are not like chickens and sit on their young.....they make a nest, leave the babies to keep each other warm and only feed them once a day. Sounds like someone should call the Dept. for Child Protection if you ask me.
We grabbed one of our many critter cages and made the most comfy warm nest we could and laid them in it. Of course I had nothing in the house to feed them.....I had since tossed the kitten replacement formula from our last rescue mission with those baby rats. (which coincidentally was around Nov. 1st of last year.......hmmmmmmm)
We got them settled in and needed to finish getting ready for church. Nev wanted to bring them but I told her that it was way too cold outside for them to stay in the car. Apparently she wanted to bring them into church and her class.......possibly an altar call for healing? I convinced her that God would keep an eye on them when we were gone and that after church we would take a trip to Tractor Supply (my version of a being a kid in a toy store) and grab some formula for them. Heck, if the mom only feeds them once a day as newborns.....surely they can wait a few hours.
We came back from church and got them started on their milk. I have to tell you that my little girl is like Elly May Clampett from the Beverly Hillbillies. Seriously.....you'll never see her out in the yard without a chicken tucked under her arm or some critter following her around. She is just a natural at taking care of animals and they sense it.
She jumped right into heating up the milk and feeding them with a syringe. Then she tossed a few hand towels in the dryer to warm them up and then wrapped them with their full bellies. It was looking pretty good for these two little guys. (or gals....like I have any clue!)
She did the night-time feeding and tucked them into bed that night.
When I woke up Monday morning....I went to check on them. I saw one out of the blanket nest and it was on it's back. I picked it up and it was ice cold. I tried to rub it to see if I could give it a little "heart jump start" but it remain lifeless. Unfortunately, it must have wandered out and couldn't find it's way back to the other one and got too cold. The other little one was curled up nice and warm, thankfully!
I had to break the news to Nev when she woke up. Another thing I have to tell you about Nev is that growing up on a little farm teaches more than responsibility for children. It also teaches some hard lessons about life (and the circle of it). I am also thankful that she doesn't equate death with saying goodbye forever. She always talks of seeing all her pets/friends in Heaven and how they are happy and healthy there.
But this time, she had this confused look....she said "I don't get it. Before I went to bed, I prayed to God. I thanked Him for sending us these bunnies. I told Him that I understood that some had to go right back to Heaven to be with Him.....and I prayed that He would keep the two we had safe and healthy. Why would He do this? Maybe He wasn't listening to me."
I tried to explain....as best as I could.....that even when we pray for certain things, sometimes God has different plans. It doesn't mean that He is not listening or does not want us to be happy. We just have to trust that He has a plan and purpose for everything, even when we don't understand and/or are disappointed.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. ~Isaiah 55:8
Of course....this convicted me. Sometimes...well OK...MOST of the time....my prayers can be like "prescription" prayers where I act as if God is going to "fill it" exactly as it is ordered. The true test is still believing, praying and trusting in Him even when He doesn't "fill" those prayers.
My heart leaped when Nev passed this test. After I explained it all, as best as I could, she sat there for a minute, holding our last little bunny in her hand. She held it close to her own nose and stared at it's little face......"Well I guess God wants it to be just me and you, little guy.....let's go have some breakfast"
I pray that I may be more like Nev......accepting God's will for me and my life, no matter if the circumstances are not always what I want/pray for them to be. Give me that child-like faith that releases me from the bondage of doubt and disappointment.
I will leave you with this prayer/poem I found. It was written by Claudia Minden Weisz (a mom of a Rett Syndrome child)
And God Said No
He said it was not for Him to take away, but for me to give up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. And God said "No".
He said her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience. And God said "No".
He said patience is a by-product of tribulations. It isn't granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness. And God said "No".
He said He gives me blessings, happiness is up to me.
I asked God to spare me pain. And God said "No".
He said suffering draws me apart from worldly cares and brings me closer to Him.
I asked God to make my spirit grow. And God said "No".
He said I must grow on my own. But He will prune me to make me fruitful.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. And God said "No".
He said He will give me life, that I may enjoy all things.
I ask God to help me love others, as much as he loves me.
And God said "Ah, finally you have the idea!"
Peace and love~
***EDITED TO ADD: At 7:30 tonight we discovered that our last little bunny passed away and is joining it's siblings in Heaven. Nev is heartbroken as you can imagine. We just said a prayer as she held him crying about how we did our best to keep it alive, but it just wasn't enough. I reminded her that God was very proud of her for the way she loves animals and always is there to care for them. If you have a moment.....please say a little prayer for Nev.
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- Are you there God? It's me....Nev