Saturday, November 28, 2009

Celebrating the Prince of Peace

I love Christmas! I love December! I am extra excited about the season this year.

Jody and I will have been married nine years on the 17th. This will be our 10th Christmas together. I remember our first Christmas. We had just returned from our honeymoon in Victoria, BC. It was my bright idea that we fly home to Florida on Christmas Eve, so we could spend our first Christmas together in our new home, just the two of us.

I seriously underestimated what a bad idea that was. I had never been away from my family on Christmas. I cried when my Dad dropped us off at the airport. I cried while we sat on the plane waiting to take off. My poor hubby didn't know what to do. He kept telling me that we didn't have to go home. We could get off the plane.

We went home and had a nice Christmas. But, we were so lonely for our family that we left shortly after our small Christmas dinner and drove all night to South Carolina, stopping half way there to get a bit of sleep at a rest stop (boy were we young and dumb!), to be with Jody's family for the rest of the holiday.

Since then, all of our Christmases have been spent with family. Yet, the season has always brough some sort of chaos.

Through the years we have have moved 3 times, renovated a home, bought a home, been unemployed, gone through major financial crisis, and prepared for a huge mission trip, all in the month of December. That is just craziness!

Last December we prayed that 2009 would be a year of peace. That the Prince of Peace would reign in our home and in our lives. 2009 has not been without its problems, but it has been the greatest year we have experienced together. We have been living in His Peace. In His Peace there is simplicity, order, and rest. In His peace there is no room for stress and chaos.

This year, more than any other, I am exited to celebrate the birth of Jesus, my Prince of Peace. We have cleared the calendar. We have cut out all the busyness. We have made time to celebrate together. To learn together. To worship together.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Do-Over Button of Mercy.

But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness and truth. Ps. 86:15

If you could go back and change one thing, what would it be? Many who are asked this question say, "Nothing. I have learned from all I have gone through." I am NOT one of those people. I most certainly agree that I have learned from my mistakes. Yet, if given the chance to change one thing, my only delay would be in selecting just one from my mile long list of things I wish I had not done or said, and an even longer list of things I wish I had done or said.

If I could have a do over, I would absolutly take it! But, God doesn't give us a do over button. Instead, he gives us His forgiveness, grace and mercy, and the promise that He will work all things together for good for those who trust in Him. He is able to take any mistake, any mess, and turn it into something beautiful that brings Him glory.

For me, this year has been a year of learning to trust in Him. A year of learning to allow God to be my hero and defender, even when I feel I don't deserve it. A year of learning to humble myself and ask God to clean up the messes I made that are bigger than me. But the biggest lesson I have learned this year is mercy. I have learned (am still learning) what mercy is and what it means to receive it.

In a recent sermon, my Dad defined the difference between grace and mercy. Mercy deals with the consequences. Oh, thank goodness for His mercy! Thank goodness that He is big enough to handle the consequences of my wrongs, and in His mercy shields me from them.

Lord, thank You. Thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your provision. Thank You for Your protection. You have protected myself and my family from the consequences of my sin, and You have show me mercy. Thank You for Your Mercies. Thank You for mercy that endures forever, and is new every morning.

I have always loved Ps. 91, but this year, as I have learned more about trusting Him and His mercy, it has become real and life changing. Especially verse 8.

1HE WHO [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].
2I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!
3For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
4[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.
5You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,
6Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.
7A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.
8Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High] as you witness the reward of the wicked.
9Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place,(A)
10There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.
11For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].
12They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.(B)
13You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.(C)
14Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].
15He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
16With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The thrill!

"Oh Boy!" She said. "I'm gonna do it!" The choice had been made long ago in her Spirit. God had spoken. Her soul had finally caught up.

Sometimes, in our Spirit, we know what God has spoken, but it takes us awhile to make the leap and commit to what He is asking. For me, when it is something I really want already, it makes it harder. I have convinced myself that my will was His before. It has made me gun shy. I ask myself, is it me or is it really Him? What about timing? Sometimes it is His will but not His time. What if I miss it? What if I fail?

Truth is, If I am His beloved and in tune with His heart, my desires become His desires. He does not hide His will from me. He does not hide His timing from me. In the quiet place, in stillness before Him, heart open, He speaks. Yet, the unknown, the weight of responsibility, the potential failure to hit the mark, these things make me hesitate.

Last night, I was reminded of the thrill. The thrill that comes from committing to His will. The thrill that comes from declaring and making known His will. The thrill of entering the unknown where total dependence on God and His provision is required. There is nothing like it!

Lord, I feel your stirring to make the leap. Give me wisdom. Guide my steps. I desire Your perfect will and timing. Show me when to go, when to wait, when to stop. I want to know and hear your voice clearly. Above all else, I want draw closer to you and please you in all that I do.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil. Prov 3:5-6

Monday, November 9, 2009

If you are going to be doing any holiday shopping on, be sure to begin by first going to our website ( or blog. Click on the link. That is all you have to do. Each time you make a purchase by going to our website or blog first, we receive a 4-10% referral fee for your transaction. All monies go to AFN!! Happy Shopping!!

P.S. There is a link on both my personal blog and AFN blog.

Thankfulness pt 4

Thank God! Call out his Name! Tell the whole world who he is and what he's done! Sing to him! Play songs for him! Broadcast all his wonders! Revel in his holy Name, God-seekers, be jubilant! Study God and his strength, seek his presence day and night; Remember all the wonders he performed, the miracles and judgments that came out of his mouth. (1 Cor 16 The Message)

I am thankful for...

66. An amazing deal on a Christmas gift for my hubby.

67. Being able to help a friend.

68. Kids cuddling together on the couch watching cartoons.

69. Great coupon deals.

70. Babysitting my beautiful niece.

71. Encouraging words from a friend.

72. Friends who know how to fix cars.

73. Fun times with my kids creating things.

74. Funny things my kids say.

75. Cousin Amy and her girls

76. Fun times with friends.

77. Daughter's desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Reaping sown seed....

It was our entire life savings; monies received at our wedding. We'd managed to hold onto it for nearly two years. The need was urgent. We prayed. We obeyed. This act of giving in obedience, both in times of abundance and times of need, would be repeated throughout our marriage.

We have faced several financial crisis in our nearly nine years of marriage. Times of unemployment, times of foolish decisions, times of living beyond our means, even a time of bankruptcy.

Yet, through it all, we remained faithful in one thing, obedient in tithe and in giving. We sowed good seed. I wish I could say that we were consistently faithful, obedient, stewards with the other 90% Truth be told, bad seed was sown right alongside the good seed.

Through the years, He has remained faithful--abundantly faithful--even during the hard times that we brought upon ourselves. This was not enough to keep me from asking the forbidden question: Why them and not us? Where is our "blessing"? Why are we just getting by? I knew my questions were not justified. Some crops grow faster than others. The return on investment from poor financial decisions is often much quicker than that of good ones.

In this season in our life, we are reaping from the good seed. We have learned from our mistakes, and strive to be good stewards with all He gives us. We are enjoying the blessings.

Today, we were able to meet a need. Honestly, I was reluctant at first, wanting to use that money for my own wants. My husband said, "What good is it to be doing well (financially) if we can't use it to bless others?" He was so right. I repented. We obeyed.

By the evening, God had returned to us what He asked us to give.

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!" Malachi 3:10

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Marshmallows, Toothpicks, Needle and Thread

As I have mentioned before, I am not a creative person. This doesn't mean I never have a creative thought or that I lack the ability to be creative once in a while. Arts and Crafts--of any sort--are just not my thing.

I have been blessed with two VERY creative kids. They love all sorts of art and craft projects. They enjoy any sort of building or creating. Since I home school, I am forced to go out side my comfort zone, or zone of enjoyment, in order to nurture their creative spirit. (Thankfully, there are thousands of resources out there to help.)

While at a home school trip to an OMSI lab, the kids learned about bridges. After learning about the basic structure of a bridge, they were given toothpicks, stale marshmallows, pasta, and construction paper to build a bridge. Son really got into this project and built a bridge strong enough to hold a small car. He has been begging to do the same project at home ever since.

Daughter didn't particularly enjoy bridge building. she did enjoy making different designs with the toothpicks and marshmallows.

Daughter has been begging and begging for quite awhile to learn to sew. (Truth is, I can sew fairly well. I just don't enjoy it.) While at the library this week, she checked out "Kids Can Quilt." It is filled with sewing instructions and projects. She has been pouring over this book, and asking, over and over, when she will get to make something.

Finally, today, I caved. The marshmallows we bought last week had been sitting out and were
nice and stale. Son got right to work house/bridge. He worked on his project for two hours solid! That is unheard of for my busy little guy!

I got some scraps of material, left over from the curtains I made for our tent trailer two years ago, and traced a circle onto the fabric. With all the patience I could muster, I began to teach Daughter to sew. She caught on quickly! She stuck with the practice stitching, even when she messed up and had to do it over--a first for my "if it's too hard, forget it," daughter. Before too long, she managed to finish her practice stitches and make a small pillow for her Barbie.

My kids looked at me with eyes full of joy and thankfulness. It was worth it. Thank You, Lord, that when I am weak, you are strong---even in the small things like arts and crafts. You take my limited abilities and stretch them to meet the needs of my children. You are a wonderful, creative, God.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thankfunessl pt 3

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (The Message)
16-18Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.

I am thankful for...

55. Husband who went to the store for me, used the list and coupons, all just so I didn't have to go out in the pouring rain.

56. My son encouraging his sister with kind words.

57. Daughter's growing heart of worship.

58. Our neighbor who was able and willing to fix our car.

59. Our church children's workers.

60. Challenging message on Sunday.

62. Skype

63. M&M's group on FB

64. Monday Family dinner with kid frosted cupcakes

65. The Holiday Season we are entering