Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Update on our Airman

Our son called yesterday to tell us he will be stationed in South Carolina after he completes this training phase (15 weeks). I'm thrilled for him...and us...because there is always a chance we could end up at the post near his base when we leave here...wouldn't that just be awesome!!! I'm already praying!!! That is one of the places we've talked about returning to since we liked that area when my husband was in training. And oh to be less than 40 minutes from our son...yes, I've already searched map quest...and yes, I can dream a little...hope a little...pray A LOT! :)

He just began his 2nd phase of training in Texas and everything is going good. I know he is happy to be close to friends and family again. Please continue to pray for his training there, and that God would prepare him to move far from everyone after his training is complete.

Please also pray for us as we miss him very badly. Everything seems to remind us of him...especially one of the twins who looks more like him every day. I can't tell you how many times we would look across the field at his track meet on Friday and be reminded of how much he looks like his older brother. We wish he was here with us! Maybe one day...

Son - we love you and miss you and are so proud of you. Keep up the good work!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thankful Thursday - Friends

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16

When I first began this journey with my husband into the chaplaincy I never imagined it would bring about such wonderful friendships. Daily, I am thankful for this in my life. Some of these women I will probably never meet. Some I have (praise the Lord)! All of them are very special to me. Many, but not all, I met right here. It began with a simple comment on this blog, and has blossomed into a wonderful friendship.

To all of you - the scripture above says it all. I give thanks to God every day for you and I am praying for you. You are precious people, and a huge blessing to me! Although the majority of you are very far away, I feel very, very close to you. For those of you I have the privilege to live close to, I am so grateful to God for that!

I can't leave out the rest of my friends...

To those of you who I knew before this journey began, I am grateful to God for you as well. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement, and for staying in touch. I miss you! And, to my very best friend on this earth, my husband, I am forever grateful for you and the friend you are to me. I love this journey we are on...together. We've been friends a very long time, and it grows sweeter with each passing year. Your friendship is unlike any other because you see me just the way I am, all the time, and you love me unconditionally.

Thank you for your friendship! I love you all.

Lord, thank you for the gift of friendship! Our lives are richer because of it! Thank you for being that friend that sticks closer than a brother. Your friendship is sweeter than any other and, because of your great love for us, we are able to love others. I am grateful that you are ever-present; that no matter where I am, or what I am going through, you are here with me.

(For other Thankful Thursday posts, visit Sting My Heart. It's great to see so many people giving thanks to God for the many blessings in life! We have much to be thankful for.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Joy! ...May it be evident!

This morning, as I was cleaning out my refrigerator (I hate to do that!) and singing praise songs, excited as can be about my husband getting home this afternoon, I found myself listening intently to a song from Third Day, called May Your Wonders Never Cease. As I was singing it to the Lord, I realized my joy for the Lord should be as evident as the joy I was feeling over my husband returning. Had I not known my husband was returning today, would I have been so full of joy? I'm not certain. Maybe I would have. I would have spent that time cleaning and singing to God, but would I have been so excited about why I was concerned with cleaning. I love cleaning, really cleaning, when I know he is coming home and hasn't had a clean thing around him for days.

I love my husband more than anything on this earth, but nothing, even that, compares to the love I have for the Savior, yet sometimes I know that isn't so visible. I desire to "be reminded of His grace" as the song says, and I pray that "His name be glorified...above all others, above this world, above everything else that is in our lives." It was a great reminder to me this morning about what it means to let your light shine for Jesus. There's nothing wrong with getting excited about my husband returning home, or thinking about the things of this world that make me happy...but I don't want to allow anything to take the place of Jesus and the relationship He desires to have with me. I want His love to be all I need...and everything else to be an added blessing. Even the love of my husband.

I was going to post the song I mentioned above, but then I saw this video and it truly says it all. Jesus gave up His own life beause of His great love for us. The video below shows his beating, and it's not pretty, but I think we all need to realize it wasn't pretty. His death was horrific, ugly, gruesome, terrible...but He loved us that much. I cry every time I watch the Jesus film, from which this was taken. He suffered greatly for each one of us. His love is real!

My prayer this morning is that YOU would know the love of Jesus...whoever listens, may YOU be touched by his great mercy and forgiveness and, if you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, that you would give your life to Him. He loves you so much more than I could ever express, but the cross says it all. If you do know Him, I pray you would forever live your life as one who brings glory to His name so that others are drawn to Jesus. There is NO GREATER JOY in all the earth, than knowing Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Thankful for the phone calls

Last night I struggled as I had not heard from my husband since early that morning. Some people would think that was a bit silly...that is if you're not in the military or don't know the feeling of being seperated from your spouse for any great length of time. Just a simple, short phone call can make all the difference in the world.

About 10:30 last night I hated that I hadn't heard from him. I knew he was probably either working late, or had fallen off to sleep thinking I was probably already asleep and didn't want to wake me. I hoped that wasn't the case and gave him a quick call, thinking if he came in late he would know I was up and could call (not that it matters to me in the least bit if he calls and wakes me up!). He didn't answer. I prayed he would call, even if only for a minute. My prayer was answered. It was short and sweet. Pretty much, "Hi babe. How are you?...I'm fine...it's freezing out here so I'll call again in the morning." That was all I needed!

This morning we were able to talk probably five or ten minutes. The amount of time never seems to matter, just hearing his voice. He hasn't showered since last Thursday and it's dusty, dirty, cold and windy. He's worn out, missing his family, and wishing he could sleep in a bed, his bed...beside me. He asked how the kids were and how things were on the home front. I told him good, and we talked about the kids and the things they have going on. We talked about missing each other and looking forward to his short return tomorrow night, before he is gone again for another week.

It's short, it's simple, it's beautiful. I tell myself, "Cherish every moment. Cherish the phone calls. Cherish those words, 'I miss you!' and 'I love you!'...Hold on to all of it!" My husband isn't down range, just in the field. My heart aches for the men and women who are, and the families they leave behind. I can't help but think about them every day. These are only my thoughts, what I experience. Imagine the thoughts of those who haven't seen their spouse in over a year, not just a few days. I don't want them to be forgotten. I don't want them to feel alone. I don't want them to feel abandoned. Lord, bring them safely home!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Mercy Monday

I am seeing more and more of God.

His presence.
His peace.
His love.
His beauty.
His mercy.

This morning I just wanted to worship and praise Him and I got on YouTube to listen/sing to a few songs. The two songs below really got to me. I can hardly think of someone in my life who ISN'T going through something difficult right now. Life is not easy...there is a lot of pain.

BUT, there is also a lot of healing taking place; a lot of prayers being answered and a lot of glory being given to God, even in the trials, and I can't help but praise the Lord for His mercy. The presence of the Lord is mighty and powerful!

Thank you, Lord! Your mercy is new every morning. I want to start my week praising You for all you have done, are doing and will do in the future. Where Satan intended to harm, You are restoring and I am in awe of You, Lord. One of the toughest things to do is surrender our will to Yours, but here I am before You saying...I surrender all. Daily. Hourly. Minute by minute. Whatever it takes. Holy, Holy, Holy are You, Lord God Almighty...

MercyMe - Bring The Rain

This song says it all...

I love you, Lord!

Here With Me - MercyMe

Just enjoying being caught up in the presence of God's love!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

21st Time Video

On Friday night, while out with my kids, we were approached by a man who gave us a long story about how he needed some money to put gas in his car down the road. Looking into his eyes and observing his body language, I knew deep down he was lying. My daughter's boyfriend, Skyler, felt the same.

Even so, we just couldn't say, "no we can't help you," so we told him we'd go find his car "with his wife and son" and put gas in the car. I didn't feel comfortable letting him in my car, so we told him to start walking and we would meet him there. Once he finally arrived (to our amazement) he had to tell the truth. I allowed Skyler to do the talking and the kids and I remained in the car.

About 30 or 45 minutes later we see Skyler going into the gas station to buy the man something to eat. We went in to see what was going on. He told us that the man confessed that he was lying to him so, because he had lied to him, Skyler told him he could not give him money, but that he would buy him a hot cup of coffee and a sandwich.

I left there feeling good, not mad, because Skyler reached out to him, even though he knew the truth was not being told. He could have easily walked away, but he confronted the man in his sin, shared the love of Jesus and ministered to him.

I wonder if one day that man will change because a young man reached out to him and loved him despite his sin.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Take Time for the Lord right now!

If you haven't opened up the Word of God today, do it! If you haven't stopped to praise God today, do it! If you haven't worshipped Him, do it! Click here, then close your eyes and let the world fade away...sit with Him awhile.

Whatever happened to Spring???

It's snowing!!! Yesterday afternoon, in a matter of three or four minutes, we had rain, sleet, snow and sunshine...and I thought Texas weather was crazy! I'm looking out my window right now and the snowflakes are so big they look like feathers falling. It's beautiful...snow falling always is...unless it's almost the end of April and you like SPRING, not winter!!! That would be me! Last weekend it was in the 70's and we were sitting on a beach soaking up the sunshine! I want that weather back!

Ha!...what a great way to start out an update on last week's post: Fasting from Complaining

I have to say this is one of the best fasting experiences I've ever had! And, not because I still got to eat either. My week has been filled with joyfulness. Every day I've found fulfillment and peace in even the simplest of things. Not because anything was really different about my every day routine...but because there's something that happens to you when you make the commitment to look at life without grumbling.

I can't say I didn't slip up. After getting in the car from sitting on the beach in the sunshine for several hours, and waiting on my daughter's boyfriend while he was talking to a man for a little longer than I expected, I made the complaint, "It's hot in here!" Immediately, though, I realized what I had done and confessed it to my kids and asked the Lord to forgive me. I confessed it to my kids because I had told them we were all on a fast.

Their reaction to the news that we were on a fast was hilarious. They said, "We're not going without eating; this is your deal." I then told them what the fast was about...and told them they didn't have a choice. They didn't take me seriously...

Until I was the one to slip up, that is!

The blessing in sharing it with them was that I had accountability. I'm more likely to complain to them, or at them, than anyone else. Knowing that they knew what I had committed to the Lord did make a difference. I'm not sure if anyone else joined me in this fast, but if you did I'd sure like to hear how your week went. Mine was wonderful and I'm going to continue this fast. It's a much better way to live - looking at the good things in life, not the bad...looking for ways to praise the Lord rather than complain and grumble.

What a beautiful sight that falling snow is. You just can't help but see beauty in the pure white falling snowflakes! God's majesty is portrayed in it's simplicity.

He [God] says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' Job 37:6

Friday, April 18, 2008

God moments...

Last night, my son got on a bus in Mississippi to go to his 2nd training base in Texas. Around 4:00 a.m. he woke up and realized they were in Arlington (our home town). To his amazement, they stopped.

At IHOP...

Now, there's nothing great about IHOP...to him anyway. In fact, he doesn't even really like breakfast foods too much, except cereal...

It just so happened to be the IHOP just minutes from his girlfriend's house! And, it just so happened she had come home from college for the weekend...

This is the message she sent me on Facebook tonight:

"...It was so so so cool to get to see Karl this morning. God is so fun and it's really cool when He reminds me that He created fun and surprise and love and excitement! I hope y'all are well, I know Karl is ready to see each of you."

No, I don't believe for one minute it "just so happened"...I believe it was just what my son needed...and just what his girlfriend needed...and just how great God is! I loved the way she put it in her message to me.

Aren't they so adorable?!!

Lord, thank you for blessing Karl and Hannah today with this surprise! As I think about how special surprises can be, I imagine knowing that YOU, GOD, orchestrated this for them is unfathomable!

Friendship...it's a beautiful thing!

Today I was blessed to spend the day with my very good friend, Sheryll. Her friendship, I'm certain, is a gift from God. I told the story of how we met in this post back in January but, now that I've gotten to know her well, I can truly say she is a huge blessing in my life. She has been such an encouragement to me and, with all the things we have in common, we can easily sit and talk for hours.

Today we got together for breakfast and to make a diaper cake...
My kids thought we made a cake that looked like a diaper (ha!) so I was happy when she sent this picture to me so they could see for themselves what I was trying to explain to them. It was a lot of fun! Our favorite part was dressing up the bear on top with booties, a diaper and a pacifier.

What I was experiencing earlier this morning as I wrote this post pales in comparison to what she is going through as her husband (who is also a chaplain) will soon deploy. My heart hurts for her every time I think about it. All that I've learned about her during the last few months tells me her faith in the Lord will get her through this difficult time...and for the days when it's tough, I pray I can minister to her. She's already ministered to me many, many times. In fact, every time we get together I feel ministered to. She has a way of making other people feel special and encouraged...and, her smile is constant and contagious!

Sheryll, thank you for your friendship! You have a heart of gold...

My Husband. Their Chaplain. God's Man.

It's early in the morning and my husband just left again. He just returned from the field yesterday afternoon and he's headed out to a different location for another five days. It's easier mentally for me when he's just around the corner so to speak (...for those who aren't familiar with the Army, being "out in the field" could mean they are still on their post but their "training ground" is set up much like it would be if they were down range (in the battlefield)...they eat, sleep, do everything as if they were miles away).

We said our good-byes, hugged and kissed, and then I cried. It's not the type of crying where you are sitting there thinking about something and then eventually you start to cry. It's instant. I immediately miss his touch. He comes back to give me another hug. I tell him I am praying for him and let him go again so he has time to tell the kids good-bye (they always ask to be woke up for that).

As I watched him bend down on his knees and kiss our twins good-bye, I looked intently at him in his uniform. He looks so brave, so strong, so manly and confident. I then watched as he walked into our daughter's room and did the same. I felt honored to be the mother of his children. I felt sadness for the times they miss him and the times he misses them. But, at the same time, I'm happy that each of them know what it is to be without him around, that they are learning more and more what it is to cherish time with their dad and not take it for granted. Our daughter had left him a letter on the bar last night. Wanting to read it, but knowing there wasn't time, I quickly took it to him. I watched as he read it...standing at the dressor, pausing from his morning routine of making sure all his patches are in place on his uniform...and then as he folded it and put it in his pocket. I somehow knew it would go with him...and forever be kept in his care.

We're learning to lean more...to lean on Jesus. We're learning to trust more...to trust in God's promises, provision and protection. We're learning what it means to follow God even when it's not easy. We're learning that the Lord will comfort us when we need comforted, and that He is faithful to do what He says he will do. We can tell our children all the many wonderful things about the Savior, but to experience it first-hand only grounds them more in their faith.

About eight or nine years ago, God did an amazing work in our lives and my husband wrote this down: I am God's man, God's way and I won't get in the way. Our lives have never been the same since. I still think about that commitment all the time, and the words my husband penned that revealed a totally surrendered heart, and it moves me every single time. When I look at that Soldier standing before me, or see him on his knees kissing his children good-bye, I feel such great love for him. His commitment to the Lord shines through every day, in so many ways, and I love him all the more for it.

I know it can't be easy...I know it requires so much of him...of us...but I know the joy that comes from walking this path WITH the Lord...the path of obedience and surrender. After my husband left, I went to God's Word for comfort. There I found this verse - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort...(2 Corinthians 1:3) The peace of God passes all understanding!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thankful Thursday


This is my first time to post for what other bloggers call Thankful Thursday, but I think I'll give it a try! This morning I woke up really tired and wanting to go back to sleep...that would probably be because I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning (which is way too late for me, but something I tend to do when my husband is away...I just don't sleep like I do when he's right next to me). The twins have tests all day so they wanted me to cook a big breakfast so I got up unwillingly and made my way to the kitchen. Only minutes after doing so though, I felt joy. I can't really explain it, but I thought to myself, "I love life...even with its ups and downs...I love life!"

Later, while driving home from taking everyone to school, I had that thought again...I love life. Noticing that I was thinking that again, I wondered why. Why would this thought come to mind, especially when my husband has been out in the field and we aren't seeing him most of this month? It doesn't make sense to me! Usually I'm in a bit of a lull when he is away.

A few minutes later my neighbor came to mind. My exact thought was focused on the spelling of her name at first. Weird, huh?! Then, without a doubt, I'm certain I heard the Lord speaking to my heart, "Go check on her this morning." "OK, but why?" I asked. Not because I didn't want to, but because I was curious as to what he wanted me to do. It's a really stupid question to ask God, really...her husband is deployed so why wouldn't I just naturally do that? Probably because I haven't been so good about that in the past. Until this week.

God is showing me how important it is to be obedient to Him. Many of the blessings of this life are in the moments of surrender and obedience. Trusting Him that He has a purpose and a plan in everything brings much more meaning to life! Going over to spend a little time with her was such a blessing to me. Every time I see her I think, "I admire her." Her husband has been deployed several times, yet she always seems to have a smile on her face. The love she has for her three children is evident and I enjoy seeing how she interacts with them. They are happy, sweet children and I know it can be tough when they are small and dad isn't there every night to help out, yet I would never know it by just looking at her.

When I arrived, I told her God had laid her on my heart this morning to go see if I could do anything for her, and she shared with me a little of what she has been going through lately and how sometimes God uses other people to speak to us when we need to know He is near. When we don't seem to feel His presence or hear His still small voice, someone seems to do something that allows us to know for certain He is hearing our prayers and is there. I'm thankful for this morning...

So, here's a few more things I'm thankful for about Life:

1. I'm thankful that I have life. Not only life here on earth but, more importantly, eternal life because of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.

2.I'm thankful for life spent with a godly husband and four beautiful children. I can't imagine life without them. They are my most precious blessings!

3. I'm thankful for the life I had growing up with two wonderful, Christian parents who loved me and cared for me; and three brothers whom I love very much. They sometimes made life really interesting for this only girl, as I'm sure I did for them as well. (I posted a picture of them on yesterday's post.)

4. I'm thankful that God chose to make relationships an important part of life. People matter! I'll be honest, relationships aren't always easy because we're human and we all make mistakes, but I can't imagine life without people and friendship!

5. I'm thankful for life even when it is difficult. As I reflect on some of the difficulties I've faced in life, I know that it has made me more of who I'm meant to be in Christ. Some difficulties we place on ourselves, but God knows we're going to make mistakes and yet He still chooses to use us to further His kingdom. Had I not experienced His forgiveness and grace many years ago, I would not be who I am - in Him - today. And, had I not trusted Him in circumstances out of my control, I would not be where I am today. He is molding and making me who He wants me to be with each passing day...for His glory. Trusting Him, in whatever comes my way, will bring glory to His name. I want to live my life for the One who gave His life so that I could experience eternal life!

I have so much to be thankful for. We all do. Taking the time to think about what I am thankful for about life has been a blessing for me today. I could go on and on, but I know I need to get some things done. My husband called and gets to come sleep at home tonight, before heading back out into the field in another area, so I'm going to go make plans for a wonderful dinner at home tonight. I am grateful for however many hours I will have with him, even if most of it is just having him sleeping beside me. He's going to walk through that door dirty, and probably a little smelly in a few hours, but he makes life all the more beautiful to me.

Jesus said, "...I have come that they may have life and have it to the full." John 10:10

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!

You are such a wonderful dad. I don't even think there's another dad quite like you. You've always been a very gracious and generous man, not only with your kids, but with everyone around you, whether it be a friend or a stranger. I've always admired that about you, dad! You taught me so many things about life and people. Probably some of the biggest things you taught me (by example) were: to love and put other people's needs before my own, to be forgiving and gracious with others, to work hard, to play hard, to love life, to see hurting people and lend a hand, that it's okay to cry and show emotion (we are really good at this one...ha ha!) and, most importantly, to love God with all my heart and be obedient to Him always. Last year, when you contracted Malaria and got so sick, I feared that we might lose you. During that time I reflected on how precious your life really was and all the people you have impacted over the years. I remember coming to that place where I found peace that the Lord wasn't through with you yet. I love that you still go to places that could put you in danger of losing your life to share the gospel. It reveals that heart of selflessness. I praise God for healing you of Malaria and Melanoma last year, and pray His continued blessings on your life! Thank you for being such a wonderful dad, Pops, father-in-law and friend. We all love you very, very much!!!
I love you! -Your only daughter

The twins would like to say something...

Pops - Happy Birthday, Poppers! Can’t wait to see you in a few months and beat you at Ping-Pong. I love you! -Darby

Happy Birthday, Pops...I love you! You're my favorite Pops in the whole world. -Dillon
Kevin's still in the field, but he told me yesterday when I talked to him to wish you a happy birthday today. I know that he, too, loves and admires you. I hope you realize the impact you've had on his life. I know it's wasn't easy to watch us drive away last summer, nor is it easy for you knowing that the husband of your little girl (no matter how old I get!) might one day have to go off to war (we've had that conversation, you and I...) but I think about the man he is today and want to thank you for sitting down with him many years ago (late in the night in our barn in Arlington...I miss that place) and leading him to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I know you miss him, dad. He loves you and misses you, too!

Your grand-daughter would like to say something...

I am so thankful for you and the man that God has helped you to be. You have always been such a strength and inspiration to me. I hope that you have a wonderful birthday that is filled with lots of fishing!! I love you very much. -Whitney

I'm sure Karl will call today. He's packing up to head to Texas...he's the lucky one who will get to see you soon. I know how much he misses you and can't wait to come see you!
You make this world a better place, dad! And, we're blessed to have you as our dad!
And our children are blessed to have you as their Pops!
You're always so giving...In many, many ways!You make us laugh!
Thank you for all the many, many, many fun things you do for us...
You're the greatest!

We miss you!!!!!!!!!
Have a wonderful birthday!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Family Time for the Soldiers

The families were invited out for a little time with their Soldier and to see a little bit of what they do while out training in the field so, after a wonderful time of worship at chapel this morning, we went out to have lunch and spend two hours with my husband in the field. The twins got to experience what it's like to train in the Stryker......and see what it's like to use night vision goggles. They thought that was really cool! I was pretty impressed with the night vision goggles.
Here they are inside the back of the Stryker with dad...
From here, they are headed down into the driver seat...
Here's the driver's seat...
It looks like there's more room than there actually is, mainly because they are a lot smaller than the Soldiers and don't have all the extra gear like a real Soldier would. Either way, I wasn't getting down there. It was bad enough sitting in the back of the Stryker. I don't know how they do it...especially when the hatch closes. It's pretty tight quarters in there!
Knowing the twins thought that was all really fascinating, I reminded them that I didn't want them in the Army should they decide to join the military one day...only Air Force like their big brother, where they are less likely to be on the front lines. Their response was, "Well, then why did you let dad?"

I didn't "let" him...only God could do that work in my heart! I think about the moms who are grateful they've got chaplains down range with their young sons and can't help but love my husband all the more for his willingness to minister as a chaplain, knowing it could one day very well mean he's in dangerous territory. When it comes to my babies though, that's a different story! :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

That smile...

My husband is currently in the field with his Soldiers and this morning he called me to bring something to him. As he was walking towards me I noticed that smile that I see every time he has the opportunity to spend time with his Soldiers in the field. It's that smile that says, "I love what I do...I love ministering to these Soldiers...all is well."
Thursday afternoon he had emergency oral surgery and was put on quarters for three days. I knew that wouldn't keep him from going. His commitment to them, and his integrity make me proud of him. Although I would have loved to have him home for the weekend, I'm happy that he has that feeling of it not being fair to lay around the house while the other men are out training.


We were out relaxing on the beach! It's actually hot here today so there's no way we were staying inside. We packed up lunch and headed out to enjoy the sunshine. I'm still in awe of the fact that we were sitting on a beach looking out at snow capped mountains!
We miss you when you're away, but EVERY DAY we are proud of you, babe!

Fasting from Complaining

Phillippians 2:14 says, "Do everything without complaining or arguing..."

A few weeks ago my daughter was telling me about something she read in her devotional book that asked you to consider fasting from complaining. We laughed about it, not really taking it seriously, but several times over the last two weeks I've pondered that idea. Today, God lead me to the verse above and I have concluded that it would honor God if I took that idea seriously. There was a time in my life where I found much to complain about. Why? Because I was just one to be more negative than positive. The type that looked at a glass half empty instead of half full. By the grace of God, over time I've become less of a complainer, but I'm still prone to fall back into that pit.

The toughest week for me every month is the week right before payday. I caught myself doing it again last night...complaining! Wishing we had more money in the bank so I could take the kids out to dinner. Even day-dreaming about what it would be like to be rich, to not have to wait for payday. To have more money than I know what to do with. To be able to purchase things I put off buying that would be nice to have but aren't necessary.

Stop the day dreaming...it only leads to destruction! It goes on to say in verse 15, "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe..."

I ended up packing up a backpack of food we had here at home, taking the kids to the lake here on post, grilling burgers and throwing around the football, and enjoying every minute of it. Something I could afford and something that taught me a lesson. Life is what we make it. Instead of sitting around grumbling about what we think we don't have, look at what we do! I want to honor God even in my thoughts. If I'm busy complaining it takes the place of praising...

So, today I'm beginning this fast. It's the perfect time to start it...the week I'm more apt to complain! I'm going to focus on praising God and thanking Him for all His many blessings rather than complaining. I want to shine like the stars in the universe so that God is glorified! Anyone else out there struggle with complaining and want to join me?

Friday, April 11, 2008

From noise to beautiful music

Tonight my kids and my daughter's boyfriend are sitting here in the living room with me tuning their guitars. One of the twins has taken on playing guitar in band and his sister is teaching him and the other twin how to play (since they aren't really teaching much in band). While trying not to be driven crazy by all the noise, I was reading all the other comments on a friend's recent post on her blog about noises she is thankful for.
I'm thankful for the "noise" taking place here in my home right now, mainly because it's my kids sitting here with me tonight while their dad's in the field, but also because of the beautiful sound that comes from a tuned guitar. It's amazing to me how the guitar that is fully tuned is making beautiful music while the other two sound so bad. It's not very difficult to conclude that tuning is important!

After my daughter got her guitar tuned, she started to sing and make beautiful music with it. I commented to my friend that I was listening to the noise of two guitars being tuned and one actually making beautiful music, and how I wished the tuning would end so we could get on with the beautiful sound of a tuned guitar.

Do you ever feel that way about your life?...For instance, a little over a month ago I felt like I was in the tuning process. I was wondering about my purpose (or role) here and a lot of "noise" was taking place in my head. It took a while for the Lord to be heard. I had to tune out the enemy and myself to actually hear the beautiful music. Since then I've found my life to be a lot more like a tuned guitar rather than one that isn't. I hear a lot of beautiful music playing, instead of noise. I have direction. Life is peaceful and beautiful. I'm sure times of tuning will come again, but I'm grateful that, for now, I'm able to enjoy the music.

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast;
I will sing and make music.
Psalm 57:7

American Idol Shocker!

I don't typically blog about things like this, but I could not believe it...they sang Shout to the Lord on American Idol?!?! And twice...

I know on Wednesday night they said, "My Shepherd, my Savior" instead of "My Jesus, my Savior" but not last night. They got the song lyrics correct this time (or got corrected beforehand is probably more like it...I don't know). Even so, I have been blown away with hearing the name of Jesus so much on American Idol the last few weeks. Not just on American Idol gives back either. Two weeks ago Dolly Parton sang all about Jesus, and they had a band that sang This Little Light of Mine (although I didn't care too much for their version) that same night. Then they start out last night's show with Shout to the Lord (again)...what's up with that? I really want to know. Not that I'm not thrilled to death about it...I'm just curious as to why. If anyone knows I'd love to hear the story.

I'm still upset that one of my favorites got booted off last night, but praise the Lord that the name of Jesus is being proclaimed with such a popular show!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sweet Photos

The twins with their big sister...
We have so many places to take a walk or go hiking around here. This was on a walk we took about two weeks ago.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The presence of God

This morning, as with every morning, I was looking for the mountain as I drove home from taking the kids to school. It's still cloudy and I haven't seen it in almost a week, but today God used it to illustrate something. This mountain is ALWAYS there. We may not be able to see it every day, but it is there...no doubt about it. It can't be moved, it can't be removed, it can't even really be hidden from us (in other words, you can't just throw something over it to hide it...it's too big). The clouds roll in and we can't see it, but it's there. Every single day I want to see it. I literally look for it when I'm out. If I can't see it, I'm disappointed. Sometimes it seems so close I feel as though I can just walk to it from where I live. Of course, that would be impossible, but it feels that way on days like the day that picture was taken. This picture was taken standing on that same mountain. We couldn't see it driving there, but once we arrived we could walk on it, play in the snow on it...experience the beauty of it. It could not be seen from far away that day, but it was there.

The same is true of God. Sometimes we don't feel His presence and it causes us to wonder if He truly is there. We search for it in so many different ways. Some go to His Word (the bible) or pray until they reconnect with God, while others wander aimlessly. They look for Him in all the wrong places. Or, they look for something to fill the emptiness they feel when disconnected from him.

The same is true of the presence of God as is that mountain. He is there. We may not see Him, we may feel as though He is a million miles away when we once felt He was so close, we may get disappointed because of these feelings and just give up on the journey to find Him...but HE IS ALWAYS THERE. Trusting that what He said is true will get us through those moments. He promises us that He will never leave us or forsake us.

There are moments in our lives when we might not feel His presence, but if we have a personal relationship with the Lord then He is with us. The same faith it took to believe in Him and ask Him to come into our life is sometimes needed to get us through the moments when we feel far from God. In those moments, ask yourself - what has changed in my life? Am I walking with the Lord like I once was? Am I seeking to be close to Him? It's our responsibility to maintain a close walk with the Lord. It's much like friendship - if you never bother to keep in touch, that relationship will seem almost nonexistent. The only difference with the Lord is, He's still there. Our friends who we never spend time with may leave us, but He doesn't; He waits for us to return to Him. His presence is with us, and He longs to be visible to us. He doesn't want to appear far off. He wants us to walk with Him, spend time with Him...experience the beauty of being with Him.

Sometimes I think we're doing all the right things...we're spending time with Him and honestly seeking His face, we're seeking to do His will, we're walking down the right path and have a heart bent toward the things of God, our hearts are clean... Maybe we don't feel Him near because He wants us to continue to draw close and trust Him anyway. A time of testing perhaps. God knows our hearts. If we are clinging to Him with everything we have, He will be faithful to allow us to feel His presence in His time. Don't allow this time of testing to cloud your thinking or discourage you. He is there!

The presence of God in our lives is a powerful, miraculous thing! And just like I know that mountain is there even when I can't see it, I believe the same about God. That mountain is beautiful and fascinating, but NOTHING compares to the greatness of knowing Jesus Christ and experiencing the fullness of the presence of God in my life. Being in His presence is a true mountain top experience! Knowing that He is walking this life with me, and cares about what goes on in my life makes all the difference in the world to me. Sensing His presence is important, but knowing He is there even when I don't feel like it is vital!

Lord, thank you for your presence. Thank you for the beauty I see all around me...but, most of all, thank you for the beauty that you bring to this life. There is nothing that compares to the greatness of knowing you and experiencing your love and forgiveness. Thank you for this reminder today - that You are with us and that, though we may not see you, You are right here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Box of love and encouragement

I was looking through one of my shoe boxes, where I thought I would find a card to send to a lady I'm praying for, when I came across several cards and things that I've kept because special people in my life gave them to me. This was a poem written by my oldest son and given to me on Mother's Day 2004:

You might look at this number
And see only a number,
But when I look at this number I see my mom.
I see my mom because it's the number of moms that could replace her.
I see my mom because it's the number of times I felt unloved.
I see my mom because it's the number of times that she stopped giving.
You might look at this number
And see only a number
But, if you ask me, I see my mom.

I love you so much.
God knows what we need right when we need it! I just asked for prayer because I was missing my son. I don't think it just so happened that I found this tonight. Reminders of my son make him feel closer.

Son, thank you for your love. You are such a blessing in my life, every day! I love you and miss you so much, and pray I will see you very soon. In the meantime, know that I pray for you every day, several times a day. I'm honored to be your mom.

Lord, thank you for my children and the blessing they are to my life. Thank you for this gift of encouragement tonight. Watch over, protect and guide my son. Send encouragement his way when he is lonely or homesick, and provide strength and wisdom for each passing day. In Jesus name, amen!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A beautiful day!

Today we went to the Farmer's Market, took pictures around the state capitol and then drove up into the mountains to play in the snow. It's so awesome to live here where one day you can be on the ocean and the next day be playing in the snow! We laughed and played and sang old hymns in the car together and just had such a fun time. I felt very blessed today as we walked about enjoying God's beautiful creation. The cherry blossoms were breath-taking around the capitol and the snow was wonderful. Here's a few pictures taken by one of the twins, DJ. He's become quite the photographer! My mother-in-law said her one request was to get a picture of a deer in the snow. God provided four as we were leaving the national forest. This one stayed close by for quite a while, and posed rather nicely for us!I've got a lot more pictures to post, but we've popped in Alvin and the Chipmunks for a few more laughs so that's all for now! Oh, I have to post this one of the little photographer. He went around collecting all the hats in the house today to keep warm...