Monday, February 28, 2011

Falling Like Snow

The largest snowflakes I have ever seen fell in swirling, whirling masses
for hours and hours today.


Like grace.

We sat gathered in the kitchen just this morning,
grieving, weeping together over the rubble of yesterday's grief, 
this whole last week's grief. 
It followed us everywhere, 
We could not shake it. We desired to escape it, somehow. 
We all felt the need to get away from it.
We could not GO anywhere, for the season's worst blizzard was upon us, 
the van is broke down so that we can not all travel together, and there was work to be done at home. 
We could not GO. 
As if Going would help. 

What we really needed was grace to fall upon us, 
and to worship in it as it fell, 
like our son Jim who, with uplifted face greeted the huge snowflakes in enraptured delight.


We listened to music, we read, we were quiet. 
 And then, gathered at the family table for dinner once again, the grace piled up deep, 
like the snow outside, knee deep and then some.
What pure JOY to sit down together, sing, pray, give thanks, and enjoy our meal. 
Gratitude brings life, enriches life. 
I think that gratitude is the blood of emotional well being.  
To be ungrateful is to invite insanity. 
To be grateful is to live abundantly, even amidst grieving. 
Or maybe it is the way to overcome grief.


Family life should be a healing balm to the wounds and suffering of this world. 
The gathering at the table is the pinnacle of our day,
where we all join in worship, talk over the day, laugh, teach, and love.

I have done it before,
mistaken the calling to worship for the urgency to GO, Do.
But grace got in the way, and the call to go was heard as the call to worship.
Therein, gratitude begat joy.
Joy begat the final healing.

  I am thankful for the storm and the broken van that kept us home today.
Our Heavenly Father is so good to give us what is good for us, at just the right time.
So often we think we want something different, but he knows better.
"Show me your ways O lord, guide me in truth."
Psalm 25:4,5

 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weather








Imagine years ago living in  a teepee or well ventilated cabin
in below zero weather such as this. 
  I am very thankful for a warm home.

Weathermen are predicting another foot of snow on the way over the weekend.
That will put us at well over three feet.
The children think it is wonderful fun.  
The wildlife, not so much.
Sounds like a good excuse for another mug of hot cocoa.

What a glorious relief when the storm is over.
It is astoundingly beautiful when the sky clears,
and the sun sparkles so brilliantly you can hardly take it in.
You celebrate with another mugful, and again, give thanks.




What a wonderful maker.  
What an awesome Creator.
All creation declares His name, power, and majesty.


May you and yours be warm and snug,
May you witness His majesty today. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Heart God Revives

When I was cleaning, I found a bookmark behind the furniture.  
What timing.
He who formed my soul calls me back to Him, draws me to Himself,
loving me enough to show me how sinful I really am, 
in my heart, where only He sees.

On the bookmark, Nancy Leigh DeMoss has contrasted characteristics of proud, unbroken people who are resistant to the call of God on their lives 
with the qualities of broken, humble people
who have experienced God’s revival.

I encourage you to read each item on the list as you ask God to reveal 
which characteristics of a proud spirit He finds in your life. 
Confess these to Him, then ask Him to restore the corresponding quality
of a broken, humble spirit in you.

Proud People:                                                                 

  1. Focus on the failures of others                                          
  2. A critical spirit , fault finding                                              
  3. Self-righteous                                                                  
  4. Independent, self sufficient spirit                                       
  5. Have to prove they are right                                            
  6. Claims rights; have a demanding spirit                              
  7. Self protective of their time, rights, and reputation             
  8. Desire to be served                                                        
  9. Desire to be a success                                                        
  10. Desire self advancement                                                 
  11. Have a drive to be recognized and appreciated               
  12. Wounded when they are overlooked                              
  13. Think of what they can do for God                                 
  14. Feel confident in how much they know                           
  15. Self conscious                                                               
  16. Keep other’s at arms length                                           
  17. Quick to blame others                                                  
  18. Defensive when criticized                                              
  19. Work to protect their own image and reputation             
  20. Do not want others to find out about their sin                  
  21. Have a hard time saying, “I was wrong, please forgive me.”    
  22. Tend to deal in generalities when confessing sin               
  23. Concerned about the consequences of their sin               
  24. Sorry they got caught in their sin                                           
  25. Wait for other to ask forgiveness when there is a misunderstanding      
  26. Compare themselves to others and feel worthy of honor                        
  27. Blind to their true heart condition                                   
  28. Don’t think they have anything to repent of                      
  29. Don’t think they need revival, but everyone else does.   

Broken People:
  1. Sense their spiritual need
  2. Compassionate
  3. Can forgive much
  4. Esteem others better than self
  5. Recognize their need for others
  6. Yield the right to be right, Meek in spirit
  7. Self-denying
  8. Motivated to serve others
  9. Makes others a success  
  10. Desires to promote others
  11. Thrilled God would use them at all 
  12. Rejoice when others get lifted up
  13. Know they have nothing to offer God
  14. Humbled by how much they have to learn
  15. Not concerned with self at all
  16. Takes the risk to love
  17. Accept personal responsibility when wrong
  18. Open and humble
  19. What matters is what God knows
  20. Willing to be exposed
  21. Quick to seek forgiveness and admit failure
  22. Acknowledges specific sin
  23. Grieved over the root of their sin
  24. Genuinely repentant  
  25. Takes initiative to reconcile
  26. Compare themselves to the holiness  of  God and feel desperate for His mercy
  27. Walk in the light
  28. Have a heart attitude of repentance  
  29. Sense their need for a fresh encounter with God.

I confess that I identify far too much with the proud person. 
I want to change, be changed. 
Lord help me become one whose heart is truly revived!

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,
O God, thou wilt not despise.” 
Psalm 51:17

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Grace for Today


I awoke this morning, slowly,
after a night full of wheezing, 
to snow falling thickly against the pines that stand resolute
outside my bedroom window. 
A full foot of fresh snow erased the mud and lingering ice patches,
leaving a glistening winter wonderland. 
After the usual prayers and supplications to our Heavenly Father
to guide and protect us this day, 
to infuse me with His strength,
to be fully praised on our lives, 
I wrapped Olivia up in soft pink blanket 
and set out in search of my husband’s wonderful coffee.

 Although I am not yet well,
I am, “just right” as a friend used to say.
  Sometimes it is good to spend a day mourning over a friend, 
or contemplating how that sermon Sunday should affect your life. 
Or, perhaps, both. 
It was a day for thinking, crying, processing, and finally, moving on. 
A spiritual birthing day, really,
where you labor through the difficult issues at hand,
and  fresh faith emerges, 
leaving you tired but content.

The snowstorm continues, silencing the woods that surround our home.
As darkness falls, dinner is cooking with tantalizing aromas, 
husband is plowing the driveway…again,
children and parents gather once more at the table. 
The table that draws us all together,
holding hands and singing, 
with smiles and laughter over the attempts of the two year old,
with rounds of what we are thankful for, 
and good food aplenty.

This life that God gives, the pain that he allows, the gifts He bestows,
all a blessing in different ways. 
Some hard,
some glad,
but all…..good.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Anniversary



It is hard to believe it has already been a year. 
It seems to have gone quickly,
and yet, much has happened,
we have changed,
grown, 
discovered.

A year ago we moved into our dream home, 
our miracle of miracles,
the house that God provided.

How did it happen, you may wonder. 
How does the pastor of a small rural church
have a large log home of his own?
  He has a big, thoughtful, gracious God,
who loves to give his children good gifts, that's how.

Seven years ago, oh my, seven! 
Yes, seven years ago we were outgrowing our parsonage.
(chuckle) We thought. 
The church board desired to do something to provide more space for us. 
But we were land locked.
Then a member stepped forward and said,
my wife and I want to 
GIVE
you 10 acres of land 2 miles from town 
where you can build your own home.

Then a friend said, I know a way to build a cheap log home
that might work for you. 
And we said, Really, we always wanted a log home! 
Could we really do it?

So we began, knowing nothing, having nothing.
  We built it together,
by hand,
with lots of sweat and volunteer help from loving folks all over.
For six years we spent every available minute building. 
Nailing, Nailing, nailing. 
Sanding, chinking, peeling logs.  
Babies came, and we added another to the parsonage,
and another, 
and another.
Friends continued to bless us with their help,
the Lord continued to bless us with materials,
incredible deals, workers, 
and faith that one day, 
before Jesus returns,
it would be done.

We moved in without hot water or an oven, without many things done, 
but it has been pure joy to live here, 
in this spacious home that our children helped build,
that our Heavenly Father provided, 
this log lodge that is our haven.

It has been a year.
I thank the Lord for all He has done,
given, all the many ways he has taught us, 
and blessed us, 
and continually provided all that we need.
Glory be to God.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Father Teaches Mother

I LOVE BEING A MOTHER

I especially love being a mother when
the 2 year old makes a request with head tilted sideways and a charming look on his chubby little face as he says, “PEEEEEAS, Mommy?”

Or the sweet little baby has fallen asleep with her tiny fingers
wrapped around my one.

When the boys enthusiastically quote their Bible verses to me.

Or Ben spends the day, or week, dressed up in cowboy gear being Tel Sackett.

As Bethany sits near me trying out her reading.

In late night visits with the older children, 
or shared smiles at one of the little one’s antics.



And of course, when any one of them instantly reply to my request
by obediently saying, “yes mama” with a happy heart.

God lovingly sanctifies us through our parenting.
Just as I desire my children to be obedient,
my Heavenly Father asks me to respond in obedience to him.
Cheerfully,
immediately,
yieldingly.
Sometimes I may not understand why he asks something of me,
but I must trust Him, because he is ultimately ALL loving
and has my best interests in mind.
Likewise, I need to mother my children in a loving way,
with THEIR best interests in mind,
so they will trust me when they don’t understand the why.
This winter has been one full of illness for our family,
we are, once again, passing around bugs and under the weather. 

This time it is a pneumonia.
  It has kept us from much activity, or much talking, 
since the ability to take in full breaths is compromised. 
Instead, we are slower, quiet, reading, or just resting. 
There has much time to just observe, think, and pray. 
Our dear daddy was sick first, and is now on the mend,
then Anna and myself have become ill this week. 
Thus, I have had much time for pondering.

I have become aware of how the things that I am naturally good at
are often times issues of pride.  
Once bitten by the pride bug, 
it is hard to shake off, and can,
often does,
nestle in for a good long visit, causing one to look down their nose
at others who don’t measure up to our own little standard of goodness.
I have had to confess to dear friends and family 
of being critical instead of gracious.  

Then, my husband, who has been preaching through Romans,
  got right to my heart this week in Romans 15:1-7. 
I know it was God’s perfect timing,
but I tease my husband for preaching at ME, 
when he could just talk to me about it at home instead of address my sin…
at church!! 
I know he is just working through the book exegetically. 
Really, it is amazing how God speaks to our hearts.  

At just such a time as sickness strikes the house,
the Lord brings to light things I really need to turn over to him, in repentance.

  Usually, my days are full,
and while I am a thinker,
daily life can get in the way of  deep analytical thought. 
But, while I am ill, there is plenty of time.
  Isn’t He good? 
So loving and thoughtful, gently leading and teaching. 
I can just hear Him saying, “Look here, sweetheart, this is a mess,
and you need some time to deal with it, so I am going to give you some time off and we can take care of it, you and me, together.”
It is here that I can see that His work in me is not only for this particular issue, but is also an example of His parenting, that I am to follow.
  Our Heavenly Father gently takes his child aside 
and  lovingly shows them the way that restores them to rightness. 
This is good discipline!  
In fact, I doubt God ever hollers from the recliner....
STOP THAT RIGHT NOW, 
DON'T MAKE ME GET UP AND COME IN THERE!!!! 
He takes time to amend a relationship. 
It is his first priority.


I am inspired.
  I can’t yell anyway, I have lost my voice.  
Must be providence!! 
I bet He is smiling right now at my epiphany. LOL!

 I’ve got time to think,
and my Heavenly Father has things to teach me, 
the mother, His child.

To sum up, I am thankful to be sick. 


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Femininely dressed

My daughters and friends:







Monday, February 14, 2011

Chocolate, Anyone?


 These scrumptious cookies may be the very best chocolate cookie of all time.  A man once asked the woman who brought them to the potluck 
to marry him, because they were so good.

Debbi's Chocolate Cookies

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tsp vanilla
cream these together then add:
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Stir well, then add 
1 cup white chocolate chips
Roll into balls and place on cookies sheet.
Bake at 375 for 7 minutes

 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Abundant


This is from a devotional titled, "An Invitation to Prayer for Mothers"

"Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
  For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, 
and abundant
in mercy to all whose who call upon You." 
Psalm 86:4-5

Oh, Father, how wonderful You are. 
Your love is endless, and Your abundant mercy is new every morning. 
My heart is filled with praise for your lovingkindness.  
Help me as a mother to share Your abundant love
with each of my children. 
May Your Spirit give me the wisdom necessary to guide
the precious gifts You have given me. 
I confess that I cannot live without You in my life. 
Give me the power to live each day for You, my Lord and my Savior. 
Amen.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day Journal 5


Today, Anna is cleaning and organizing the girl's room.
The boys are studying WW II for a report, Gabe alongside 
writing in his notebook.
Bethany took a super long nap, wherein I checked to see if she was still breathing.
Rose was taking pictures. 





 Olivia was very cooperative. 
I believe she likes being the center of attention.


 When daddy came home, 
Gabe charmingly asked him to draw a "daddy roar" (T-Rex),
with that impish smile, head cocked..."Peas daddy?" 
Who could resist!


This is my favorite tea cup, a gift from friends for my birthday years ago.
Today, Brian and I found a moment for a relaxing cup of Preacher's Passion tea before he went to church this evening. 
This our standard tea.
I buy the herbs from The Bulk Herb Store, equal parts passion flower, peppermint, oat straw, and chamomile. 
Each herb relaxes a specific system in the body for an overall calming. 
We let the children drink as much as they want.  :-)


The last few days have been unusually busy, and I find myself weary today. 
The perfect antidote is red shoes.
Red is a motivating color, and I always feel more spunky when I wear them.  They are looking comfortably worn, since I always wear them to clean house. 
My shoes and I mustered a bit of zest to get a few projects done, 
then finish off the day helping the children study their 
memory verses for quizzing.

We have found that we can avoid the after dinner hour of chasing and screaming by "directing traffic", as I call it,
with the older ones cleaning the kitchen together,
the younger ones picking up the floor in the living room and family room.
At the same time, Daddy and I cuddle with the little ones.
Then we listen to memory verses as soon as they are done tidying up. 
  At last, it is story time and bedtime.
The house is pretty much picked up and tidy,
which is a wonderful way to end the day,
and an even better way to start the next day!

Thoughts for today are from Titus 3:4-7
""But after that the kindness and love of God, 
our savior toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done,
but according to his mercy he saved us,
by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the holy Ghost;
  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior;
  That being  justified by his grace,
we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

I Then Shall Live



This beautiful song was written by Gloria Gaither, to the melody of Be Still My Soul.  The words, a prayer really, are very moving.  I can rarely get through the song without shedding tears.  

I Then Shall Live

I then shall live as one who's been forgiven.
I'll walk with joy to know my debts are paid.
I know my name is clear before my Father; 
I am His child and I am not afraid.
So, greatly pardoned, I'll forgive my brother;
The law of love I gladly will obey.

I then shall live as one who's learned compassion.
I've been so loved, that I'll risk loving too.
I know how fear builds walls instead of bridges;
I'll dare to see another's point of view.
And when relationships demand commitment,
Then I'll be there to care and follow through.

Your Kingdom come around and through and in me;
Your power and glory, let them shine through me.
Your Hallowed Name, O may I bear with honor,
And may Your living Kingdom come in me.
The Bread of Life, O may I share with honor,
And may You feed a hungry world through me.

Amen, Amen, Amen.
 
 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Get Your Football Pants On


My husband has a certain sermon that he is well known for.  
It has appeared and reappeared numerous times over the past 12 years,
always inspiring no matter if you have heard it before.
In our BC years, (Before Children) we were great NFL fans.  
He has been on the coaching staff of various football teams 
during our married life, 
and football has been a favorite sport since high school.  
Thus, the illustration of football pants came easily and naturally.

The gist of this favorite sermon seems appropriate for Superbowl Sunday, although I think it is much more fun to have a young man 
attempt the illustration in person, as Brian has done in the past.  
You will just have to use your imagination.

In Colossians chapter three Paul encourages believers to “put on” 
the godly virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience… bearing with one another, and forgiving one another as the Lord has forgiven us.  But then, in verse 14 he ties the clincher… 
“And above all these put on love, 
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
Love is like football pants.
Imagine trying to play an effective game of football 
while trying to hold all the protective pads in place.  
You might be able to hold them in place 
but I will guarantee you won’t be an effective football player!!! 
  
It is the same when we “try” to be patient, kind, compassionate, forgiving, humble, etc. without love.  
We spend all our time policing ourselves 
trying not to “drop” one of the virtues… 
however, if we will truly love… 
all those other virtues will be held in place, 
where they belong.




"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homeschooling Flexibility

One of the things I so love about homeschooling is the flexibility. 
Second semester, I like to add a new courses on top of the basics,
something interesting to perk us all up from the winter doldrums.  
This year, I chose World War 2 history and Piano.
  Both are subjects I have been quite remiss in in the past. 
We are really enjoying both, 
although I do not recommend starting 4 children
in the same piano lesson at the same time, 
because that means you have to listen to it 
(the 30 minute lesson) 4 times!!! 
AAACKK.



 
Bethany has taken up piano too, 
in a way only an exuberant 4 year old can. 
She likes to sing while she plays. 
The other day she was playing away, when she burst forth in song;
"I LOVE THE SMELL OF AIR...."  (to the tune of Amazing Grace.)



The hilarity of having preschoolers in the house
is that they often want to do everything the bigger children are doing.
  In Gabe's case, he trots after the others,
desiring to be included arms outstretched toward them
saying, "ME, ME!" 
He also colors and tries determinedly to write his alphabet in big kid fashion.




Homeschooling is a great blessing to me. 
I relish time with our children. 
Having the little ones follow the older children around all day 
has wonderful benefits as well,
such as the two year old who knows his alphabet
and the 4 year old that is almost reading..."trickle down" home education.
Not to mention, the older ones can help throw in a load of laundry
now and then when I just cannot get to it, 
or hold the baby while they read their history, or study memory verses.  


We have always home schooled, so I really know nothing else.
It has become a lifestyle. 
I am so thankful for the ability to change things around to fit the adjustments of having a new little one in the house, 
or to accommodate the seasons, 
or combine appointments in town with a field trip.
The flexibility of homeschooling works great with a large family
and a full ministry schedule.

I must be honest and tell you that I still have days of feeling inadequate, discouraged, or irritable,
(doesn't everyone?)
but by and large, each day is a joy and delight.

Speaking of delights,
Here's the latest of miss Olivia: