Tuesday, September 23, 2014

It's Been A While

This Sunday was rich and full and to tell you the truth, I've really been listening lately.
It's funny how we can forget to do that. We think that reading our devotional and scrolling over verses on our Facebook newsfeed, "liking" and "sharing" them, that we're fed and spending time with God.

What a small portion we're limiting ourselves to if this is all it is.

Something very insightful our pastor shared this weekend was of a time when he was all alone on a hike and lost. He prayed, and God showed him how lost he truly was, but also that the dream in his heart was not the dream God had for him.

I've been pondering that. What dream have I been clinging to that is misguided and unfulfilling yet drives me constantly? Will I allow God to finally sever those ties that are holding me back from true fulfillment and satisfaction?

I met with a dear friend for coffee today, and I was so blessed! She listened as I shared this with her, and I identified my teenage dream of being famous. I know that it was a selfish dream and that it wasn't for my own glory that I was created.

The image in my head I'd had over the weekend was not to be a lovely ceramic vase in which I hide God, but a transparent clear vase that shows Him within me. If there are cracks in the clear vase, they don't keep you from seeing the beauty inside. If you are the ceramic vase, all people see is you and you cannot measure up to their scrutiny.

She stood still and with a serious but encouraging look on her face said that as I shared that, it was then given to her, "Make Him famous." "When you make God famous, then you will receive the renown you are wanting."

The more God purifies me, the more of Him that will be visible through me.

Make Him famous. As I turn 33, that is my goal for the year.

Always a pleasure walking with you on this journey together!!


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #1

1. Today I am thankful for Miss America.
That takes some explaining. You see, ten years ago, I was young(er), fit, and in the running with 18 other amazing women for the crown in the Miss Nebraska program. My wedding plans were on hold until we finished the competition, as I had the 1/19 chance of being selected and going on to the Miss America competition from there.
I did not win. That was difficult, of course, because you put forth your very best effort and have nothing more to offer.
Still, the confidence and interview skills I gained there led me to the job I loved here in Klamath Falls at the Pregnancy Hope Center, speaking in public health classes about sexual decisions and why it's safest and healthiest to wait until marriage. I was privileged to speak to 4500 students with feedback (anonymous surveys after each week of presentations) about 85% positive.
What I find amazing is that people see so much more in us than we are ever able to see about ourselves.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Mary Kay facial party. It was at a photography studio and we had the option of a business photo or glamour shot. I did not intend to have my portrait taken but once there I really considered it.
My critical self was not excited about the shots when they came up on the screen, but the ladies who'd also had theirs taken were all gathered around and we were helping each other select the "best" one.
Today, I received the finished photo in my inbox.
Though I'm ten years older than I was in my pageant headshot, though I have had three darling daughters and my body has definitely changed, I need to listen to others instead of to that negative inside me.
Because my beauty is not external. Because who I am is defined by what comes out of my heart.
And, we who know each other see beauty where it is hidden from the shallow sonar of the world.
And, the portrait looks so much better than I thought it would.
I know I was tired by the end of that night, but you cannot tell.
"In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
I am thankful for a chance on earth to wear a crown and to be rewarded for hard work, but it is just a glimpse of Heaven, where it will not be a contest. We are all sons and daughters.
Let your light shine.
Tomorrow, I celebrate 10 amazing years with my husband.
And I conclude my 30 Days of Thankful posting.
Thanks for joining me!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #2

2. Today I am thankful for my two parents. This year is their 34th Wedding Anniversary year. Their commitment to each other through 34 years, five children, moving to multiple states, each challenge that they have come to, they have faced together.
It is rarer and rarer for people to stay together, especially after kids leave the home.
Both Dave and I are blessed in this manner, his parents celebrated their 40th Anniversary this year.
With their examples, we are more likely to also work together and stay together, and that is a blessing not only to us but to our children.
So, Deborah and Ronald, today I am especially thankful for both of you!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #3

3. Today I am thankful for my three daughters. Growing up as the oldest of four girls, I always thought I'd have four children. Well, when I was 8 I gained a brother (I had always wanted one! His name means "God has given").
My husband told me he'd always wanted three kids.
By the time my third pregnancy was past date, we were both quite sure we didn't have the mental and emotional stamina to take on any more of our combined DNA and questioned if the third one could wait a while longer to come out. :D
Truly, it has been challenging and more work to be a mother than I'd have ever dreamed, but the most labor-intensive stage physically has come to an end. Our girls are now all pottytrained, can dress themselves, manage their seatbelts, and can articulate clearly what they need and want.
We are really beginning to enjoy trips together as they are more able to play with each other. The older they get, the more they can see the entire picture instead of their little lens. And, as they are learning that it really doesn't matter who gets the pink cup, they have taught me so much about what is important and what I should just let go.
These girls are causing me to be less selfish, more gracious, to listen more instead of assuming I know what they want/need, and to show me those delightful things I've become to busy to notice.
I get a second chance to view the world as hopeful and precious and innocent and wonderful, and sometimes, it's nice to see it through that lens.
I hope to teach and protect them in a way that will preserve this sweetness for as long as possible, while still instilling compassion and respect for self and others.
And, as long as I'm their mother, I have three girls who find me unconditionally beautiful and remind me that marketing is not realistic.
"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
-Proverbs 31:30-31
And this is why I am thankful for my three daughters.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #4

4. Today I am thankful for the privilege of being a wife. Not just a girlfriend, a roommate, but a wife. Of all women in the world, Dave has committed his entire life, heart, body to me and me alone. The depth of our friendship has grown to a point that I could not have comprehended on our wedding day 10 years ago.
We have had some tests and they have challenged and strengthened our commitment to working out everything. There is such security and trust, with transparency.
I have great confidence as a woman because he pours love into me. He prays for me and our girls daily, he sends me little messages during the day to let me know he's thinking of me.
He is the spiritual leader, but we work as a balanced team.
I love him with all of me and truly our marriage is richer today than any Disney fairytale I ever watched as a child.
Due to our relationship, I have a better understanding of Jesus' love for me and how to grow my relationship with Him and His unwavering love and acceptance for me.
(Loved me when I was 10 months pregnant and found me even more lovely!)
So many more I won't list but I am abundantly thankful today for the privilege of being a wife.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #5

5. Today I am thankful for Family.
It's the annual Tulelake Fair. Though I appreciate our local fair and fairgrounds in Klamath, it is a hot piece of tar surrounded by concrete buildings and not a lot of shade.
The Tulelake Fair is a beautiful venue with lots of shade trees, very mature, that are surrounded by well-maintained grass. For people with kids, this is a big draw.
Their carnival appeals to our children and they have many family-centered free entertainment "shows" hourly.
There are a wide variety of animals and 4-H exhibits, and we just enjoy the time of year it is held as well.
Today, my husband's sister and husband and their three kids are joining us (which means an extra bit of driving for them), but my girls were ecstatic to hear that "the cousins are coming!"
Truly, coming from a family of seven (5 kids), it is in my deepest need and longing to have people around. Sadly, our family, immediate and non, all live at least 90 to 100 miles away.
The blessing we have is that our church and school family are all so dear and warm and kind and loving. They have made the distance from blood relatives more bearable.
So, even if your relationship with your own relatives is less than warm and loving, the truth is, that we are all here together on Earth. That we can reach out and be that Aunt or Sister or Grandmother to somebody that will respond and fill that empty place of relationship!
I have many friends who have been as close as sisters (and then have had to move away, *sniff*,) and we catch up right where we left off.
In Heaven, I'll need to have a mansion just so I can host all of these amazing women in one place.
And I bet the coffee up there is amazing!
So today, I am thankful for family. For all of you!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-a Countdown: #6

6. Today I am thankful for appointments. There is something validating about knowing that there is a place for you-a reservation.
I was able to get in to see my chiropractor today because somebody cancelled their appointment. How thankful I was for that place, reserved for another, given to me.
Isn't this what Heaven is? Reserved for the perfect Son of God, and it has been opened up and given to us if we choose to take it?
My appointment with death for my sinful nature (eternal death) has been cancelled.
I truly cannot say how thankful I am today!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #7

7. Today I am thankful for selflessness. When I first married my husband, I was 22, about to be 23. I was a much more selfish person than now. We both were. Until then, we had been independent and self-sufficient and self-reliant. Suddenly, we had to think about somebody else and take them into consideration when making decisions. A quarrel that ended in me taking off for a walk in the rain caused great panic to him. I didn't tell him I was leaving, so he thought I had just taken out the garbage. When he called my cell phone and it was still in the house, he began to worry that perhaps I hadn't left of my own accord.
I didn't think about any of that. I was just mad and wanted to cool off. Over the last ten years, we have worked through a lot of our selfishness. We still have it. It will always be something we wrestle against, but the times of selflessness and sacrifice that communicate our love to each other, those are priceless.
When you know that somebody put you first in a decision, it honors you and your relationship. It causes tenderness. For us, it causes us to be more likely to reciprocate that selflessness.
My David is caring and kind and quick to help me. When we had children, this was even truer than before. Even last night when it was his turn to enjoy a shoulder rub (we take turns), he knew I'd been having problems with my right shoulder and worked on mine for a good while before having his time to relax.
I am thankful for the sweetness of the Holy Spirit which enables us to put ourselves aside and consider how we are affecting others before making a decision. This is something that in my thirties I believe I can see better than in my early twenties.
We both chose our designated household chore early in marriage. I detested laundry and he detested dishes, so we each chose the other. Three children later, our chores are more demanding, but we serve each other in love. Occasionally, we will surprise the other by completing their chore for them which is the one we detest.
The best part of it? That there are no strings attached, no obligation. Just a communication of love and a desire to help. Our children are watching. We communicate sometimes verbally to reinforce the thought of serving, but have high hopes that they too will want to serve others in love as they grow. :)
And that is why I am thankful today for selflessness.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #8

8. Today I am thankful for Closed Doors.
The last two years I have enjoyed leading worship time for the Tuesday morning Women's Bible study at our church. This year, they are going to try to have all the time used for Bible study without a lead-in worship time.
Having had that door closed, just a couple days later I received a phone call asking if I'd want to lead chapel for our kids' private school.
The last two years I've also been thrilled to lead the song/story time at our church's summer Vacation Bible School.
I told someone, "If I could just do this for a living, I'd be so happy."
Well, it may not be my living, but I'm doing it all year this year!!!
Oh today, the first day, was a fun, exciting day! I got to lead chapel at our school for preschool all the way up through the 5th grade. I was dressed in brown and khaki and spoke with an accent. (a mix of "Dr. Livingston I presume" meets "Crocodile Dundee")
(going with a Jungle theme for the chapel year)
We sang, we danced, we worshiped, we learned about the Fruits of the Spirit, we learned about the Helmet of Salvation, and why you shouldn't wear flip-flops in the jungle.
One of the best times I have ever had getting to use all that I was made to do to worship the one I love, and to get others to do it to! :D
So thankful for the opportunity and trust placed in me to lead a group of 90 and a smaller group of about 25 kids!
This year is going to be so much fun!!
Sometimes, a door closes so another can open. Instead of looking back, look for that next opening.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #9

9. Today I am thankful for time. I had time today. My girls got out of bed on time, got dressed on time, ate breakfast and we had time left to do their hair nicely for their first day of the school year.
All three of my girls were in their classrooms today and did okay with the separation, but I was at the school in case my youngest didn't do okay. This gave me time to help with some tasks that were not finished.
It is so nice to have time, to take time, it is a gift that we all receive daily. We all get the same amount of time, but we must choose how we use it.
There are days where I feel I have wasted my time sitting at the computer scrolling down the news feed and other days where I feel that my time on Facebook "instant messaging" a friend has been well spent.
An hour on the telephone with a friend or family member that I am separated from by distance is precious time. Webcam is even more valuable.
Though people told me to enjoy the little years because they go by so fast, I am relieved to be done with the infant stage. I'm now getting to enjoy all three personalities, to know them as people!
So today, I am thankful for time.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Thirty Days of Thankfulness-A Countdown: #10 (oops)

10. (again)
So, I underestimated my counting skills. I began on August 11th, thinking that there were 30 days until my anniversary. That 31st day of August goofed up my counting, so I'll do another #10 today as it's September 1st.
Today I am thankful for grace.
Grace in my mistakes.
Grace when I can't count thirty days on a calendar between two months correctly.
Grace when I'm lacking in people skills and overreact to something small.
Grace when I don't deserve it.
Grace when I'm less than gracious.
Grace when I'm doing well.
Grace that reminds me to love in ALL THINGS.
Grace when I act well.
You see, grace is not just in our error, but grace covers us so we also can show grace. We are reminded of what we have been forgiven and we can in turn extend that love and forgiveness to others.
Not a one of us deserve the blessed grace we receive, but we still rejoice in it.
Today is the first day of September, and in just ten days, I'll have my 10th Wedding Anniversary. Our marriage is a beautiful tapestry of grace woven through and through.
So today, I am thankful for grace.