Monday, December 23, 2013

A Name Like No Other

Christmas is in just two days!!! I love Christmas. For me, Christmas is not just a day. I'm sure we've heard so much about the joy of Christmas and maybe by now you're getting tired of it.

This morning, I sat in my dark living room, drinking my coffee, looking at the Christmas tree all lit up with my three year old son curled up in my lap. As I sat there cuddling with my son, my mind began to wander through all the wonderful blessings I have been given.

The ones that struck me the most were the blessings of my children. Blessings, not because they are perfect little angels, but because they bring an opportunity for me to learn grace, mercy, self-control, and a myriad of other things I fail at daily. The blessing of a wonderful husband. Our marriage has not always been easy, but a blessing that has taught me forgiveness, commitment, and what love really means. The blessing of having children and family that have gone before. A blessing that has helped me realize that God really is in control and I can fully trust in Him. The blessing of struggle. A blessing that has taught me that God keeps His promises.

In case you haven't noticed, many of the blessings I see in my life have come through the trials and storms I have endured. But the greatest blessing of all is the one that we celebrate this time of year. The gift of Jesus.

No other gift can compare to a Savior who pursued me. Nothing can compare to a God that loved me so much, He chose to open my eyes to my need for Him. He chose to open my heart to receive Him. He chose to send His Son to take my place, so I can know Him.

Nothing can compare to that.

I LOVE Christmas. Sure I like gifts, but what I love most of all is that I was given the greatest gift, a gift I can celebrate all year.

This past year has been a year of struggles and rough patches, but my soul has never known joy this great. I am so thankful God keeps His promise to continue to work in me until the day of completion.

This joy, the joy that fills my heart and soul, the joy of Christmas is Jesus.

What a powerful name! Try saying it out loud where ever you are right now. Sing it. Shout it. Can you feel the power that name carries?! If you cannot, I pray the Holy Spirit continues to work in your heart.

I love to sing songs of worship and praise and honestly cannot help but dance. But if you want to see me hands raised in the air, smile from ear to ear, voice as loud as can be, sing the name of Jesus. Speak the name of Jesus.

There is no other name that captures my heart to that extent. There is no other name that uplifts me from the depths of despair. There is no other name that brings with it the power of real JOY!

As you celebrate Christmas, remember that Jesus was not just a baby born in a manger. He is a Savior born to rescue us from the captivity of sin. He is God in human flesh, that we can trust to know our pain and our struggle. He is CHRIST who defeated the grave so that we may know life!


Don't just know His name. Know Him.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Repeat Lessons

This past week I have been reminded that not everything will go according to the way I have planned. Yes, this is something we are reminded frequently each day with all the little things, but we still seem to be unprepared when it happens in the "big" things, or at least what we consider as the "big" things at that time. At least for me anyway. 

So, things were not going my way. I'll be honest, I was upset. Almost to the point of tears. While I was able to contain those emotions for quite some time, the tears eventually came. But not from the upset of life not going according to my plan.

The tears came, because I realized that I was making MY plan more important than HIS plan. How dare I be so selfish? The tears flowed as my heart grieved my pride. In a flood of tears I was reminded that not only is His plan bigger and better than mine, it always has His and my good in mind. My plans are always so limited to what I can see, what I know, what I can envision, what I can imagine. How do I ever get to a place where I think I can possibly come up with some plan that rivals God's? 

As I was hit with this, it got me thinking. What would my life be like, if everything had gone according to my plan? Since I do not know all things, I am only able to go back through what has happened in my life and how certain things would be different if I had had my way. 

One thing I am for sure, I would not have nearly as many blessings in my life as I have now. I will not expand on the reasons why these would be true, but here is a list of things that would be different if I had my way throughout my life:

1. I would be a professional dancer. This sounds like a good thing, but I would be a dancer not using their talents for God's glory.

2. I would not be married to Josh. If this had happened, I would also not have any of my beautiful children whom I love so much.

3. Even if I had married Josh, I would be divorced already. 

4. Some of my children would have never been born. Those I have lost, would have been born.

5. Josh would have a nice, cushy job - and I would never have learned to trust God's provision.

6. I would have an amazing body - and would never have learned the meaning of true beauty.

7. I would have lost my virginity to a married man as a teenager. 

These are just a few of the "big" things I thought about. In comparison to the situation I was dealing with last week, that situation just shrunk more and more by the moment. It's so easy to get caught up in what is going on right here, right now, that we forget the One who is over all things, knows the bigger picture and knows how this moment, right here, right now, plays a part in that bigger plan. We think we know how it plays a part in the "bigger" plan of our lives, but our lives are just a breath of eternity. Does not God's plan for our lives, for life in general, far exceed our own? Yes. Every. Single. Time. This doesn't mean we shouldn't make plans, that we shouldn't prepare or make decisions. What it means is that we shouldn't get so caught up in our own plans, that we don't allow for His plans. You would think with all I've been through in this life, I would have learned this lesson by now. Apparently, I'm a hard learner. Anyway, I'm just glad that God keeps on teaching me, even if it means many repeat lessons. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Life of Everlasting Impact

As I thought about this day coming up, I wasn't sure how I would feel or what I would be thinking. 

Today is the day Nehemiah Laminin was due to be born. 

I know that doesn't mean he would have been born on this day exactly, but it would have been around this time. 

I thought maybe I would be sad, and I am a little. The tears come as I think about holding him. It will be a long time before I get to hold him again. But I WILL get to hold him again and there is hope in that. 

But mostly I think of all the joy his short life brought. Because of him, my joy in Christ has been renewed. My hope in Christ's coming has been restored. The peace that surpasses all understanding guards my heart and mind (Phil. 4:7). My marriage has renewed life. I am a little better at loving my children. And I hope that there are others whose life he has touched. 

What has hit me the most is the insurmountable peace I now have. I don't quite know how to explain it except to just tell you the difference. There are two major areas of my life that I have noticed the peace more. 

The first one is in the area of finances. My husband has worked a seasonal job for many years. This means he has often been unemployed for about three months in the winter. We live paycheck to paycheck when he is working, so you can imagine the amount of strain this puts on our family. Usually, I have worked a job that I could pick up hours during that time he was not working. I lived life completely stressed out. All I could think about was how we were going to pay our bills. How was I going to make this work? This year, I don't have a job. My parents do not live with us any more (they did for a time and this really helped with the bills). Joshua could be unemployed in a few weeks to a month and I'm not worried about it. Sure there are times when the worry starts to creep in, but then it is almost immediately diminished. There is just such peace in my heart about it that I can't even explain it. I know it is not from me, because as I said I was stressed even when the situation didn't look as bad as it could be this time. Yet, I have peace.

Another area this has hit me hard is in looking at the future. I don't know if you've ever read the book of Revelations, but there will be a time when things get really bad. Our society is already getting worse, and I think about the world my children will have to live in. This can make me scared, and at times it has. And when I get scared, I worry about them and what kind of life they will have and will I get to be here for them, etc... Over the past few months I have thought about this even more. But now when I think about it, I get a little scared, but then there is this unexplainable peace and it's like God is speaking to my heart saying, "You were born for such a time as this." This frightens me a little, but even more it spurs me to train up my children as warriors for the gospel of Christ. It motivates me to be ready with knowing the Word should I one day not be allowed to have a copy of the Bible (this has happened in countries already, so let's not take this freedom for granted). It reminds me that one day my Savior is coming back to claim His own, and I need to be ready. It pushes me to be more intentional in my relationships and loving others. 

Nehemiah may have only had life for such a short time. His eyes may never have opened to see this world. But I know that he was one of the greatest blessings on my life that God could ever give. God used him to change me. Every day when I look at his picture and remember that day I looked into his face, I remember the vision God gave me on that hospital bed. I think of the peace I had then, and the peace I have now and know that God truly does use the weak, the humble, the smallest of hearts to bring about His glory.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Giving It Up

As I sat in church Sunday listening to the sermon about giving over all of ourselves to God, I nodded in agreement and even thought to myself, "I really want to do that, Lord, show me what areas in my life I have not given over to you." Throughout the sermon there were some points that hit home and I thought, "Yeah, that's something I could work on more." But it wasn't until after the preaching, after the altar call song, the final song of the service, God made it loud and clear what He wanted me to get.

The final song of the sermon was "Ten Thousand Reasons" otherwise known as "Bless the Lord, O My Soul". Some of you may know that this was one of the songs I was singing in my dream I had during my miscarriage, the only one I can remember (you can read about that here Why did it hit me so hard?

As I stood singing with a soul full of joy, remembering that night in the hospital, I suddenly began to weep uncontrollably. In that moment, I realized that it had been so easy for me to give Him my child, my own flesh and blood, my baby, even though I didn't even get a chance to get to know him...

...yet, I still have trouble giving over to him the little things each day, like my schedule, my attitude, my feelings, my trust.

Then it reminded me of what our small group talked about on Friday night and what I've been reading about David's struggles through the Psalms. We so often, as Christians, talk about how the trials we endure are our true test of faith - do we depend on Him? do we lean on our own strength? And yes, those are tests of faith somewhat.

But is it not an even more reliable test of faith to ask, Who do we depend on for the little things? Moment by moment? When my life is "interrupted" how do I respond? Am I easily offended by what others say and do to me? Do I trust God to provide for ALL my needs? Do I look to Him when deciding what to eat, drink, wear, watch on tv, say to another person, how to do my hair, make up, spend my free time?

I realized that for me, the big things can sometimes be so much easier to give over to God, because I know what He wants from me. I know what His Word says about those things. But when the area seems gray, and maybe He has given us freedom to choose, I don't always seek Him first anyway.

That's not really living in the Spirit. If I have the Holy Spirit within me, I don't want to just have Him sitting on a back shelf, waiting for me to feel like I need Him, because I've exhausted all other options. Because, this one is just too hard for me to handle. I want to truly live in the Spirit. So that when I have a choice, I still don't take it without seeking Him first. Two options might both be good, but maybe He has something specific in mind and I will never know that unless I stop and ask Him first, and then listen for His response.

Can you imagine slowing down your day to stop and seek God before each and every thing you do, say, think? Seems impossible in the time of busyness. It also seems not only necessary, but worth it. How much better would my day go, if I actually gave it ALL over to God? I hope to find out.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Asleep on the Run

I have started to read the Psalms, only one chapter per week. I'm lingering on each Psalm for a whole week, and I'm loving it!

This week is Psalm 3. David wrote this psalm when fleeing from his son Absalom. He starts out talking about his enemies and what they are saying to taunt him, but this only lasts a couple of verses. Right after that David starts talking about how God is his shield and answers his call. He goes on to say he does not need to fear any number of men who are after him because salvation belongs to the Lord!

But what really grabbed me today was the verse in the middle Psalm 3:6 - "I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me."

David is being chased by an army who is after him. He assures himself that God hears his cry for protection and will shield him from any harm.

Then he lays down and goes to sleep.

And he wakes up.

The impact of this simple statement is huge! Because David doesn't just say, "Oh yeah, God will protect me. Please, God, please protect me!" and then get ready to fight.

NO! He said, "Wait! Those guys can say what they want. I know who my God is! My God is the Holy One and He is almighty! I can trust Him with everything, so I'm going to go to sleep so I can rest." And that's what he does. Then he tells us, "After I slept, I woke up. See everything is fine. He is trustworthy."

This is the true meaning of resting in God. Truly trusting Him and allowing Him to work while you rest. Not just saying you trust Him and then trying to do it on your own, but stepping back and saying, "You got this." Because He's already trying to tell you, "Get out of the way! I got this."

After David writes that he woke up and the Lord had sustained him, he goes on to say he does not need to fear of ten thousands of men, because He has the Lord on His side! Whew! I don't know about you, but I think I would be terrified if an army of ten thousands of men was chasing after me trying to kill me. Would I trust God enough not to be afraid? Enough to lay down and sleep?

Maybe this hit me extra hard today, because last night I didn't feel well and didn't want to go to bed without my husband. So, I stayed up way later than usual to wait up for him to get home and get ready to go to bed.

I read this and thought, "Really? I couldn't go to bed without my husband because I didn't feel well and David lays down to sleep when thousands of men are chasing him to his death? Where was I putting my trust at that moment?"

Lord, teach me to rest in you. Teach me to trust you with everything, no matter what craziness seems to surround me. You are the Righteous King of kings and we need not fear anything of this earth. Salvation belongs to you, yet I often try to live in my own strength. Break me, that I may be fully reliant on YOU and You alone.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crowded by Loneliness

She stood in the room filled with people, looking all around her. Usually the life of the party, but this time was different. This time, she stood there looking around and all she could think was, "I know everyone in here. But do I really KNOW anyone in here? Do they really KNOW me?" She looked at the group of those whom she called "friends"and realized not a single one of them has called her in the last month and one of them made a comment on Facebook about getting together, but she had brushed them off, not really sure if they had really meant it. Throughout the rest of the evening, she did talk to others, but realized the conversation never went past the usual small talk. Which made her wonder when was the last time she had a conversation that wasn't just surface level information. No one asked why she wasn't being her usual self, or why she seemed more reserved. "Did anyone even care?" she wondered.

How many of us have felt this way? We know so many people, but how many do we really KNOW? How many people really KNOW us?

Sometimes, it seems like no one really wants relationships with that kind of intimacy. Many people, who know me, think being open about my feelings and thoughts comes easily for me. But it doesn't. I force myself to share my deepest feelings and thoughts. Why don't I just keep them to myself? Because I crave intimacy with others, and I know that the only hope I have of getting that is to allow others to really KNOW me. But many times, it seems people hear those thoughts or feelings and run the other direction, instead of getting closer.

Maybe it's too much for people to see that girl who seems so happy all the time, struggling with insecurity. Or that girl who seems to have it all together, feeling like her world is falling apart all around her. Maybe it's too hard to realize that this girl who claims to love God with all she has (and I do), struggles sometimes to trust Him.

I think about the relationships I have here on earth and I just feel so lonely. So much so, I often ask God to send Jesus back or just take me home soon. I know that sounds depressing, but while I can have an intimate relationship with Him now, I know that in heaven that relationship will be perfect. For now, it's only perfect on His end.

I admit that some of my struggle with relationships is on my part, but I also know that it's not all me either. We are imperfect people, but are we really making an effort to let people know how important they are to us? Are we making sure they know we care about them, and love them no matter what? Are we making an effort to get past the small talk and let them in to our heart?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Song of Joy

I know it's been a long time since I've written, but summer is upon us and that means I'm spending less time on the computer and more time outside.

Although it has been almost two months now, I wanted to share my experience in the hospital as I delivered Nehemiah.

Yes, I still think about it. Every. Single. Day. And I hope that never changes.

I love to think about it, because even though my heart was grieved, God gave me such amazing peace and joy. Peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil. 4:7).

I remember going to the hospital grieved that I had lost my child, yet I still had that excitement that I always do as I look forward to seeing and holding my little baby.

My husband and a great friend were with me that night. We talked and laughed and prayed. It was getting late and I was getting tired and I kept falling asleep. I fell asleep for quite awhile and when I woke up everyone told me I had the biggest smile on my face as I slept and they were wondering why.

I had fallen asleep singing praise songs to God. The one I most distinctly remember singing is Bless The Lord Oh My Soul. I had a dream that I was walking over water, carrying my baby as I was singing. Then a bright light shown, rising up from the horizon and Jesus appeared. The light was so bright I could not see His face. He reached out and took the baby from my arms and held him close in His arms. All the while, I kept singing. He was cuddling the baby so sweetly and gently, as if it were His own. And I was filled with comfort. Then Satan came and he tried to block my view, so that I couldn't see anymore. I kept singing as I tried to see around him, but eventually I couldn't see anymore. And I said to Satan, "It's ok. I don't need to see. I already know it's true." And I continued to sing. Satan tried to stop me from singing, but I just sung louder and stronger and eventually he gave up.

When I woke up and they told me I had a smile on my face, all I could do was thank God for giving me that dream. Because I not only had a smile on my face, I had a smile on my heart.

The smile on my face stayed and my heart was so lifted, that when the time came for me to deliver little Nehemiah all I could was smile and say "He's beautiful!" And he was.

I look at his picture every day and smile at how beautiful he is and know that he is being cared for by the best Father anyone can have.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Mother's Cry

Tears fall like rain.
Tears of heartache.
Tears of pain.

I just want
To hold him once again.
To look on his face,
To see his little hand.

A bond has been forged
That can never be erased
A mother's love
Through our hearts
Has been laced.

Yet there is a love
That flows deeper
Than even a mother can give.
The love that Christ showed
When He took you to be His.

My soul cries out to God!
But I am not asking why.
Because I know
You will cherish him even more than I.

I cry out because I need you, Lord
Only You bring comfort to my soul
I cry out because there is now a void,
Only You can make me whole.

Lord, hold him in your arms
Until You call me home.
Lord, hold me too
While on this earth I still roam.

May the short time he had
Bring glory to Your name.
For I know that at least I
Will forever be changed.

Friday, May 24, 2013

This Is the Day That the Lord Has Made

This is the day (this is the day)
That the Lord has made (that the Lord has made)
We will rejoice (we will rejoice)
And be glad in it (and be glad in it)
This is the day that the Lord has made
We will rejoice and be glad in it
This is the day (this is the day)
That the Lord has made

This is the song that I woke my children up to yesterday morning. Hoping to begin our day on a positive note with maybe a little less yelling (mainly from me). Hoping for more joyful obedience (one can hope right?).

I began this day not knowing that as I awoke singing this song on my lips, later I would need to choose if I was going to sing this song in my heart. 

Because this is the day we found out that we have lost the child I am carrying. 

This is the day we found out that our little baby's heart had stopped beating and he or she will be born without life.

My heart mourns for this little life that was lost. Tears come when I least expect them. The air around me is heavy with sadness. 

But even though my heart grieves for my child, there is still joy. 

I rejoice this day knowing that God is sovereign. 
I rejoice in knowing that His plan is better than mine, no matter what it is.
I rejoice is knowing that my child is now with Him in heaven.
I rejoice in the blessings He still allows me to have on this earth. 
I rejoice in the fact that He is the God of peace, the God of love, the God of joy.
I rejoice in knowing that He is my Comforter, my Keeper, my Fortress.
I rejoice in knowing that this IS the day that HE has made.

There are still tears. There is still sadness. My heart still grieves. 

But through it all I cling to His promise:
Zeph 8:10b - "Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." 

Today I chose to again wake my children up with that song (we told them last night what is happening). And today a new song of truth and promise rings in my heart:

Friday, April 26, 2013

"Yes, Your Majesty."

A few days ago, my daughter was joking around and responded to something I told her to do with "Yes, your Majesty." She was not being disrespectful in any way, but it did get me thinking...

How do we respond to God when He is requiring our obedience?

We know from Scripture that He is the King of Kings (Psalm 5:2; Psalm 24:8; Isaiah 43:15; 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; Revelation 19:16). We also know that if we are in Christ we are adopted into God's family as His children and are now heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17; Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:7; James 2:5).

This means that we are considered princes and princesses. This means that our Father is the King of Kings.

As parents, we expect our children to obey. We expect them to obey, not with grumbling and complaining, but with a "Yes, Mom." or "Yes, Dad." Why? Because Scripture tells them to honor their parents.

But as adults, do we honor our heavenly Father by obeying, not with grumbling and complaining, not with questioning, not with doubt and fear, but with "Yes, Your Majesty."? After all, He is the King and anything less than obedience is treason against the King - in other words, sin.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cells of Faith

These past couple weeks I've really been struggling with trusting God. As my husband and I prayed about and eventually made the decision for me to quit my job, fully based on what we believe God wanted us to do, the struggle began. I was starting to struggle all over again with trusting God over our finances.


Has God not just spent months showing me He is Jehovah - Jireh (the God who provides)? Has He not just spent months proving to me His faithfulness?

Yet, here I am, starting to stress all over again. Starting to lose faith and wondering how I was going to figure this out. 

Do you see the problem? Yeah, I know. I was trying to do it myself again. 

I spent this last weekend at a women's retreat for our church. As part of the team, I had spent months helping prepare for this retreat and even writing a talk to give on the weekend. God taught me so many things, even through my own talk, but one of the most memorable things I learned is this:


Maybe you know what this is, but if you are like me and don't know much about science, let me tell you. 

Laminin is the protein cell that is the foundation for all of our other cells to function. It is what holds us together. 

So you're thinking, "Great, what's so exciting about that?" Oh, but wait, let me show you what laminin looks like

This is a scientific diagram of what the cell structure laminin looks like. 

This is a picture of an actual laminin cell structure.

Are you as excited as I am to know that Christ is written into my very being? That the stuff that was made to hold us together is in the shape of the cross, a reminder of what Christ has done for us? But even more exciting is to know that this has been there, a part of human beings since the beginning of Creation!


Let me just say that I love how the more I learn about God's design for Creation the more awestruck I am at His glory. Wow!

As I sit here reflecting on His great glory and how He intricately designed His Creation to point back to Him, I wonder how can I doubt His work? How do I get to a point where I think that the Almighty God, who not only knew, but planned for me to be His would not care about my needs, or not see that I desperately need Him? Especially, when He has asked me to take a step of faith that requires me to trust Him. 

He is the very center of my being. May He always be the very center of my life.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Moment to Reflect and Prepare

This morning I was at McDonald's meeting someone to pick up a special birthday cake I had made for Gideon's birthday party. As I sat there by myself waiting, I had a chance to reflect on this past weekend, past week, and then the past couple months.

I couldn't help but smile as I thought about all the overwhelming blessings God has given us throughout this time! My heart is so full of joy and love and peace. I realized that one of the greatest blessings is that He has opened my eyes to see Him working in me and around me, and He has let me be a part of that work!

But as I pondered this it occurred to me that while I would love to be in this place where I can literally feel His blessings raining down on me for the rest of my life, that is unlikely. What is likely is that I am going to face times when I can't see Him as clearly. When I don't feel His arms wrapped around me.

Immediately, I began to pray:

God, thank you for allowing me this time of special blessing! Thank you for opening my eyes to see your handiwork so clearly and allowing me to be a part of it. Joy is overflowing from my heart as I sit here thinking about all you have done in the last couple months. I know there will come a day when I can't see you working in me and around me so clearly. I know I am going to face hardship and struggles that will test my faith. When that time comes, Lord please help me to remember this time right now! Please let me look back on your faithfulness and stand in truth. Please give me the desire to see your blessings all around me, even when it seems that I have to search harder. As I look back at my journey, I remember very dark times when I allowed my emotions to cloud the truth. I don't ever want to go back there! No matter what, I want to praise Your name! Please allow me to praise you through anything and everything as you lead me through a world that is not my home.

Though it sounds pessimistic, my joy was not gone or fading. Rather, I was coming to terms with the reality that I needed to prepare for what was in store. It is often said that after every spiritual high there is a devastating low - oddly, my highs seem to come just after the darkest times in my life, but no matter. The point is, the road will get hard. I know this, I have experienced this many times. But I don't want those experiences to be the same. I want the next time to be different. Rather than turning my focus inward, I want my focus to remain upward, still giving God the glory, still praising Him for His many blessings, still joyful knowing that I have not gone beyond His outstretched arm!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Just Hold My Hand...

The old saying, "The best things in life are free" could not be more true after the wonderful little moment I had yesterday.

We were at my parent's house and I was sitting on the couch when Gideon came to settle in right next to me and hold my hand.

Oh, I probably sat there with the most ridiculous grin on my face. It was like being in 8th grade and you just found out the boy you like likes you too. My heart was stolen by a 4 yr. old.

It's the week in which we celebrate Valentine's Day. I enjoy this time of year. My husband and I don't do anything incredibly special, but I enjoy thinking about the people I love a little more - trying to do something special for them. But most of all, I enjoy thinking about God's love for us. After all, His love is perfect and completely incredible!

I was thinking about how ridiculously joyful I was when Gideon sat there holding my hand, and then how ridiculously joyful I am when my husband holds my hand. And I thought, that's how I want my relationship to be with God - that I just can't wipe the smile off my face when He's right there, holding my hand. That my heart will be filled with joy knowing that the One who loves me most is with me always, holding me in His hand.

Just thinking again about that little handsome boy who just steals this mommy heart each day and that he would want to just sit and hold my hand, is bringing back that smile of a heart that is overflowing. Thank you Lord, for these sweet little moments that remind me of Your love.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


It's been a little over a month into this new year and you may remember that this year my theme is Focus. You can read about that here. I thought I might give you an update on how it is going. 

When I began the year with this theme of fully focusing on God, the intention was that it cover all areas of my life. I started with areas that I knew needed some work and decided that I needed to take what I knew that God's Word says about that area and get practical living out that truth. All the while, trying to stay tuned in to Him to see other areas that need work and to not miss any opportunities to show Jesus.

Giving and our budget in general is an area that my husband and I both agreed we needed to get right before God. So this year, we made that a priority and got to work getting our budget in order and cheerfully giving out of the abundance of God's blessing. - It is important to note, because I believe this has been part of our growth process, that this is not to say that we are rich. In fact, my husband has been unemployed since Christmas and I only work part time. As you can imagine that makes taking care of a family and paying bills quite difficult, and honestly in the past when this has happened, it has been difficult. However, in the past I had been trying to figure it out all on my own. As I have been trying to put my focus upward, I have been reminded that everything I have has been given to me by God and all of it is blessing in abundance. Because He has given it to me, I can trust Him with it. What an ENORMOUS weight has been lifted off my shoulders!!! Seriously, I don't think I can remember a time not being stressed over finances. But now when that stress starts creeping in, I remember that I can trust God and then I do. Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma'am. Stress gone! Honestly, you should try it. 

Oh, but that's not even all! Not only is the stress gone, but trusting Him means that I also trust Him to do what I believe He can do... for me. For a long time, I would hear stories about how God would provide for people by having others randomly and/or anonymously give them money. You know without asking for it, just giving it to them. I believed God really did this, but I believed it with jealousy not believing that He would do it for me. How long have we struggled with finances, yet He had never done this for us? Now there are two things I have to say about this. First, that I now see that it had never happened for us, because I never believed it would. Second, I can now say He has done that for us!!!!!! I knew that to say I was going to trust Him meant I had to believe He could and would provide in whatever ways He saw fit, and He saw fit to have that happen to us not once, but 3 times in just about a month's time!!! God is amazing. 

Moving on, 

Parenting - We all hope that we will be good parents and most of us are very intentional about being good parents. But just being a good parent wasn't enough. I want to be a biblical parent. I want to parent my children in a way that brings the focus back to Scripture. Every. Single. Time. Why? Because I believe that it is that important. Now, I am not saying that I have been the perfect parent in this last month, but what I can say is that there has been major change here. I have caught myself mid-yell and stopped to apologize to my children and start over the right way. Even more importantly, trying to stay focused on biblical parenting has opened my eyes to be able to see the root of problems more quickly and clearly. This has really helped in being more effective in discipline. 

I've also been praying for my children on a regular basis. You may remember that I have chosen specific Scripture to pray for every person in our family. It's been really cool to pray Scripture over each of them. They not only know that I am doing this, but I have it out in the open, so my older ones who can read even know which Scripture I am praying for them. We have had great discussions about this at times during the discipline process when I have reminded them of the Scripture I am praying for them and what it means. I have to tell you that talking to my kids about Scripture and theology has shown me how much they really do understand, even with how young they are - just further proof that this has more to do with the Holy Spirit giving us understanding than it does our age, education, or anything else. 

Have I said that God is amazing? Well, He is!

Last, but assuredly not least, God has done tremendous things in our marriage. One biggie - He proved me wrong. Now that may not seem like a good thing to anyone else, but trust me, it was a great thing! You see, my husband made some promises a few months ago, that in my anger with him, I refused to believe. The other day, it hit me, like a slap in the face - he's been keeping his promise. I was wrong. Intertwined with proving me wrong, was another biggie - the promise my husband has been keeping - which is to allow God to lead him in leading our family. It has been amazing. God has been amazing and I know He will continue to be just that. AMAZING!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Vision For Life

If you have been reading my blog, then you know that this year I have set out to really start focusing on God in everything I do. It has already meant making some really tough decisions. That being said, it's not easy. Earlier this week, I was praying about one of these tough decisions and asked God, "When does it start getting easier? When will I get "there"?" ("there" meaning that point where you trust God without even a hint of doubt, where everything you do is Christlike and you would honestly have to work harder at sinning than being Christlike). I wanted to know, when will I know if I have gotten "there", so I asked my question and here is what happened:

Immediately after asking, I was given a vision that I am going to do my best to describe to you -

A man was standing next to me. He had long gray hair held back in a low ponytail. He also had a long gray mustache and beard. He was dressed in a light blue and purple robe-like gown. I knew this man represented the Holy Spirit. He spoke to me as if directly answering my previous question. I could hear his voice, but it was not coming from the man's mouth. As I heard him speaking, we turned to look behind us and he stretched out his arm to show me myself in the past. I was dirty and wearing rags. I was hunched over and a long thick chain was attached to my heart. The chain hung down to somewhere I could not see, but I could see that it went through fire. Both the chain and me had been blackened by the smoke of the fire. The man was saying, "Your heart was bound by sin to the pit of hell." As he continued to speak, we turned back around, and we were standing in the front entrance of a castle. I had been cleaned and given new clothes. "You were bought by the King to serve Him. I was given to you to help prepare your heart. Until...". While the man spoke these words I saw he and I working to serve the King together. It had been years and we had grown close. He was my most trusted friend. At one point we stopped and were looking at my heart. It looked like the actual organ in our bodies. Most of it looked like new healthy tissue, but some of it, while now clean, still remained damaged. We were assessing which of the damaged areas we were now going to begin working to prepare (the new healthy parts, had been changed over those many years). "...He determines that you are ready." This time the words were coming directly out of the man's mouth and he was speaking directly to me. I was ushered into the throne room. The room was long with a very high ceiling. The walls were ornate with paintings of His Creation. There were six marble pillars, three on each side that stood floor to ceiling. At first my view was from behind the throne, which sat up on a sort of stage with steps leading up to it. It was very tall and made out of gold. Then my viewpoint went around the room to where I was standing, as if seeing it through my eyes. As I looked toward the throne all I could see was the brightest, whitest, purest light I had ever seen. I knew I was looking upon God's holy face. In that brief flash of light, the vision was over.

Although it may seem like it was very long, It probably did not last more than a minute.

I immediately understood that God was answering the question I had asked. The answer was that like He promises in Philippians 1:6 that "He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of completion." That day of completion is the day that we are called home to be with Him.

But just as I had looked at my heart in the vision and could see that there were still parts that were damaged, yet He had determined it was time; when He calls us home, there may still be areas of our lives that are damaged by sin and still need to be renewed in Christ, but all of our heart has been washed clean by Christ's blood.

We will not reach Christlike perfection here on this earth, but as we live to serve our King we need to be working with the Holy Spirit to allow Him to prepare our hearts for the day we stand face to face with Holiness.

Basically, the answer to my question was that when I get "there", I will not longer be on this earth. Which means that my whole life will be spent becoming more and more Christlike because He promised to continue the work He started. That may seem daunting to some, but I had such great relief!
I'm not sure if it was relief that I don't have to hold myself up in comparison to someone else who I may have thought has made it "there" (because really they haven't) and be overwhelmed by the areas of my heart that I know still need renewed. Or if it was the refreshing hope that as I continue to work closely with the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to assess the areas of damage and guide me, and walk in obedience, serving my King, He will continue to renew those damaged places until the day He calls me home.

I know the road ahead will be long and tough. But I continue on with fervent zeal and eyes fixed on Christ alone!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Miracles DO Happen!

This has been a tough week for me. Well, I guess a more accurate statement would be that this would normally have been a tough week for me.

At the beginning of this week, I finally agreed with God that there was something I need to talk about to someone, anyone. It was a sin I had been holding back, wanting to keep it a secret, even though God has really been working on me about his throughout the years, it had gotten to the point where it's only hold on me was the fact that I wouldn't talk about it. Well like I said, I agreed that I would talk about it this week, so I made a date with someone to talk about it. That didn't work out, because of the next thing I'm going to talk about, but anyway, since I knew I couldn't meet up with that person this week, I made a last minute decision to tell one of the women at Bible study Tuesday night.

I was scared, but had an amazing peace as I just opened up and let her in to that place only God, my husband, and I knew about.

Josh and I made a commitment to really get our finances in order this year and be better at sticking to a budget, something that is difficult for both of us. So Sunday night we sat down and went over our budget. We thought we had it all figured out. We were wrong. I'm still not really sure where we went wrong but by Tuesday our bank account was so messed up and we were left with not even enough money to put gas in the car and Josh had an interview this week and I have to work this weekend.

Let me tell you, my first reaction was to be riddled with anxiety. What was I going to do? I had no idea how to fix this. We had some money in our paypal account, but that takes days to transfer. We got the process started, but then we had to sit and wait. I'm not really good at waiting, but what choice did I have?

The more I thought about what was happening, I realized that God was putting me in a position where I had to trust Him. See, I'm a "I'll take care of it" kind of person, but this time there was just nothing I could do, and honestly I'm thankful. Realizing that I could do nothing but trust God, really lifted the burden off of my shoulders and again I had peace. No, we weren't out of the woods yet, but I had peace.

A gracious friend allowed us to borrow a can of gas, thank you so very much! But here's the miracle: Josh put that gas in the car before he went all the way out to Westlake for his job interview. Now I work every weekend in Olmsted Falls, so we know that to drive there and back takes about 1/8 of tank of gas, but when I got in the car this morning to take the kids to school we had exactly the same amount of gas as we did when he put the gas in the car! It was like we hadn't used any. And yes, I know for SURE that my gas gauge works.

It was a miracle! You may think that's small, but it was huge for us. It was confirmation to me that God fulfills His promises:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7

Maybe we can't figure out what we did wrong because it was just something God allowed to happen to test our resolve to trust Him. I don't know, but whatever it is I am glad it happened. Yes GLAD it happened, because it forced me to lay it all down before God and trust Him. And not only did He come through on His promise to give peace, but He game much more!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


I often get distracted: I get distracted by my thoughts and forget where I'm going, I get distracted by my kids and forget what I'm doing, I get distracted by my laziness and forget what I need to do, I get distracted by enjoyment of what I'm doing and forget I'm supposed to be somewhere, but most often I get distracted by my feelings and forget truth.

I don't want to be so distracted anymore. So this year, 2013, my word for the year is


"Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the LORD God..." 1 Chronicles 22:19a

I want to set my heart, my soul, my mind, my footsteps, the work of my hands on seeking the Lord, glorifying His name and nothing else. This year, I want to have ultimate purpose in all that I do. For too long I have allowed myself to get distracted and because like the hymn I am "prone to wander". The problem is the Bible calls the way I've been living foolish (read Proverbs). 

Who wants to be called a fool? Not me. So I'm done with foolishness. 

Ok, now I'm going to get crafty on you again, haha! 

To help me get focused for 2013 I made one of these pictures for each member of my family: 
It's not much, but each one has their first initial and a Scripture that I am committing to pray for them throughout the year. The artwork should help me reset my focus when I look at it.

Now before you start thinking I'm really artistic, let me tell you the fun way I was able to do these and get my kids involved having fun with it too.

I printed out color-by-numbers for each letter from this site:

Then, I taped a piece of cardstock over the printed out color-by-number on the window (I don't have a lighted desk, so the window was the only was to see it through the cardstock clearly). My kids thought this was cool, so I let them do some on regular paper - imagine what our neighbors thought as they walked by and at least four of us were sitting in the front picture window with paper taped to it coloring, haha).

I chose my own colors for each one and voila! I know you are all impressed ; )

Anyway, here's to getting focused this year on what really matters!