Monday, December 31, 2007
It has been a good year.
It has been a hard year.
Caring for my mother-in-law for a few weeks early in the year. I now have a greater compassion and respect for caretakers of sick family members.
Adjusting to being a stay-at-home mom and not having a convenient "title" to define myself. BK and I have laughed and cried...danced and played baby dolls...gone to story-time at the library and to playdates with little friends.
Realizing that I can handle working from home...although my house has suffered from neglect.
Becoming involved again in a church that I left several years ago.
Being made more aware than I ever have been (or ever wanted to be) of the living conditions of the poor in the world...specifically in India...though the travel and ministry of my great-nephew Josh.
Enjoying extended family...welcoming the arrival of a new baby and celebrating in the news of another one on the way...so glad that more family members have moved locally so that we can see them more often.
Celebrating the accomplishments of my handsome, smart grandsons...taking them to church with us...picking them up for one of our many adventures...watching them run and play in my back yard.
Love to you all as we begin a new year...and a new chapter in our lives.
Goodbye 2007...and welcome 2008!
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
My family is blessed beyond measure. Are things perfect? No...I assure you that they are not. Are we rolling in money? Nope. Do we all get along...all the time? Umm...can't say that we do.
But we are blessed nonetheless.
Baby girl is feeling blessed with her new doll house. I arranged it so perfectly (or so I thought), only to have her rearrange it...again...and again. Oh well, I guess that shows a creative mind. By the way, mommy doll has spent most of the day in the kitchen, while daddy doll has lounged on the bed. Don't ask me what that's about.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
As I read this blog, it was funny at first. Then I couldn't help but cringe as I thought about the effect that her words had to have on her poor husband. A husband needs his wife's respect...that's how God made him.
The Bible tells a husband to love his wife, but the wife is told to respect her husband. It doesn't say anything about the wife having to "earn" her husband's love...and neither does it say that the husband must "earn" his wife's respect. Like the Nike commercial...we are told to just do it.
You might ask, "What can it hurt just to tell a few friends or family members what he has done this time?" Have you ever noticed that when you are with a group of women and one tells something derogatory about her husband, others feel the need to chime in and try to out-do the others? Before long, we have turned these men that we love into a joke...into bumbling, clueless buffoons who can do nothing right.
Marriages today have a 50% chance of ending in divorce. I can't help but wonder how much disrespectful behavior plays a part in that statistic. With our mouths we can build up...or tear down.
This was a reminder to myself to watch what I say about my husband to others...because it does matter.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
We rode around a few nights ago, sipping on milkshakes and looking at Christmas lights. Among the "Oooo's" and "Ahhh's" of the beautiful displays, we saw a cross beaming brightly in one yard. Some might wonder "Why the cross...what does that have to do with Christmas?"
It has everything to do with Christmas. Look beyond the twinkling lights and see Jesus. Christ-mas. The baby born of a virgin. Emanuel. God with us.
As sweet as the scene is with the baby all wrapped in a manger, how thankful I am that the story did not end there. Even as this tiny baby nursed at Mary's breast, the plan was already set into motion. He was born to die on a cross...to save us...from ourselves...to rescue us from a life separated from God because of our sin.
The baby in a manger was a miracle indeed. But the cross is the greatest miracle. To think that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would be willing to leave Heaven and come to Earth...to be killed as a sacrifice...for us...for me. The ultimate sacrifice that would forever offer hope to the hopeless. His blood that dripped from that cross so long ago bought my freedom.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that everyone who believes in Him will not die, but will have eternal life. (John 3:16)
That is real love.
That is the real Christmas.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I told him "Yes it is. You can't always tell where you are going just by looking out of the window."
It occurred to me later just how true that statement is. Our life journeys often have twists and turns. Sometimes it seems like we are at a dead end. Often we think that we may have taken a wrong turn, only to find out later that it was the right path after all.
Wouldn't it be great if we had an internal GPS navigation system so we would always know where to go? Well, as Christians we do have one...the Spirit of God that lives within us. He doesn't need a Global Positioning System to know where we are...or where we are going.
I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. (Proverbs 4:11 NIV)
In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. (Exodus 15:13)
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Upon reflection, it is not that there is a lack of hours. What really is going on is that I try to pack too much into those 24 hours.
I say yes. I volunteer. I want to help. That's not a bad thing, right? It doesn't seem like a big deal at the time. Surely I can fit that little thing into my schedule. The problem comes when all those little things turn into several big things, eating away at my time and energy...leaving just the left-overs for my family.
It's hard to maintain balance...especially for stay-at-home moms. Because we don't have to sit at a desk at work all day, it is assumed that we have time to devote to countless activities. Throw a home-based business into the mix and the juggling goes to a new level.
I have to remind myself over and over and over that my number one priority has to be my family and my obligations to them. If I am so busy with my "stuff" that my house is neglected (this is a challenge for me), or don't take time to plan our meals so we end up eating out (spending money that we don't have and eating food that is not nutritious), or getting so stressed that I am unable to be the wife and mother that I am called to be, then there is a problem.
When my priorities are out of whack it can cause damage to my marriage, my finances, even my health. I cannot be all things to all people...as much as I might want to try.
So if you run into me and hear me muttering...
"I would love to but I just can't right now..."
"That sounds great, but I just don't have time..."
"I'm sorry...not this time..."
...just know that I'm practicing putting first things first.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
A lot of people don't send out Christmas cards any more...either because of the time it takes...or the cost involved. But I love knowing that hopefully my cards will bring a smile to the recipients and help to make their holiday a little more cheery.
By the way, a friend sent me an email saying, "You know those two or three (or more) extra Christmas cards that you have left over and never know whether to keep or throw away? Here is a very good use for them. The Central MS Correctional Facility is asking that any unused or extra Christmas cards you have to be sent to the chaplain for distribution to inmates to send to their families and children that they are unable to be with this Christmas."
Send cards and envelopes to:
Central MS Correctional Facility
Attn: Chaplain Kelly
Pearl MS 39208
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
By the way...the toy she is holding sings "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"...Sesame Street style. Grouch sings "We wish you a yucky Christmas and a lousy New Year."
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The Freeset Story
Each Freeset Bag tells a story of one woman's journey to freedom. She used to stand with 6,000 other prostitutes in a small but well known area of North Calcutta. She didn't choose her profession; it chose her. Poverty does that. It robs people of their dignity and children of their innocence.
She still lives in the same area, but instead of selling her body she makes Freeset Bags. Now she has choices, the choice to work decent hours for decent pay, to re-establish her dignity in her community and to learn to read and write. Now her daughter won't have to stand in the street selling her body like her mother used to. Freedom has been passed on to the next generation.
By purchasing a Freeset Bag, you become part of the story of freedom. Thank you!
These bags are available for purchase on eBay: http://stores.ebay.com/Asha-Imports_Freeset-Bags_W0QQcolZ4QQdirZ1QQfsubZ4069909QQftidZ2QQtZkm
Sunday, December 2, 2007
This year, I hope to let Christmas be a constant reminder that the baby who was born so long ago, came to give us life...and hope. I'm thanking Him tonight for letting me see Him fresh through the eyes of my sweet angel.
But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:16-17
"I want you to find the ONE statement that will get me through all situations in life. Whether I am on top of the world or in the pits, find that statement."
"I don't want to learn long and complicated philosophies. I want one simple statement. Find it or write it; I don't care, just bring me the statement."The men left and consulted for months. They finally returned and handed the King a scroll. The King unrolled the scroll. On it was written four words.
"THIS TOO SHALL PASS"
That was it.
The wise men explained. When you are on top of the world, that is but a fleeting moment, things change, always remember, this too shall pass. When you are in the pits, all nights are followed by day, at your lowest moments remember also, this too shall pass. All external circumstances and material things change. No matter what your circumstances, remember, THIS TOO SHALL PASS!
The wise men reminded the great King that this would get him through his earthly things but the truly wise knew there were things beyond this earth and life. . .Things that were eternal. True wisdom they reminded the King was in the ability to recognize the fleeting temporal things of the material world from the truly eternal things. O Great King they said, "Most of the things that you worry or gloat about are temporary and our four words apply."
For most of your situations. . .THIS TOO SHALL PASS!
This quote is from an email that I received this morning. Like Jim Daly, it makes my heart ache as well.
If you have ever thought about adopting, but have been intimidated by the process, there are some excellent resources out there. One is the website http://www.voiceoftheorphan.org/Display.asp?Page=AdoptionMain
On this website, there is also a great document to download called The Eight Steps of Adoption. http://www.familylife.com/hopefororphans/AdoptionGuide.pdf
God is calling His people to make a difference in these children's lives...with prayer, giving...and maybe even opening our hearts and homes to offer a child a family.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I have decided to end the night with a song.
On the first day of December...my family spent with me...
Twelve carols singing...
Eleven jingle bells ringing...
Ten pancakes eating...
Nine elves seating...
Eight cycles zooming...
Seven bands booming...
Six Shriner's weaving...
Five thousand cars leaving...
Four children giggling....
Three Santa bellies jiggling...
Two pooped out parents...
And a good night of rest for us all!
Friday, November 30, 2007
So anyway, BK and I were out running errands this morning, when BK yelled excitedly from the backseat, "MOMMY...LOOK! Up in the sky...it's an angel!"
Needless to say, I almost ran off the road. I jerked my head around looking up in the sky where she pointed. Nothing. Then "Mommy...there's another one!"
This time I saw what she saw. The angels were blowing trumpets...hanging on the light posts in the median...the city's Christmas decorations.
I laughed...at myself...at the situation. "Yes baby, I do see the angels."
Did I really expect to see an angel in the sky? Stranger things have happened...angels have appeared to folks for a long, long time. However, I think I'm probably more likely to run into one in the line at the grocery store...or ringing the Salvation Army bell at Wal-Mart...or sitting in a car seat in the backseat of my van, eyes wide open and taking in the wonders around her...bringing blessings to everyone whose lives she touches.
It might just be natural...but it's pretty super too.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Our lesson today involved being thankful to God for the things He gives to us. Our Bible verse came from James 1:17 - Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded, don't we?
Repeat after me...
God is good...all the time.
All good things come from God.
And from the immortal words of the Madame Blueberry song (Veggie Tales - for those of you without toddlers):
I thank God for this day,
For the sun in the sky,
For my mom and my dad,
For my piece of apple pie!
For our home on the ground,
For His love that's all around,
That's why I say thanks every day!
Because a thankful heart is a happy heart!
I'm glad for what I have,
That's an easy way to start!
For the love that He shares,
'Cause He listens to my prayers,
That's why I say thanks every day!
Friday, November 23, 2007
I braved Wal-Mart this morning. Even though I did not set my clock for four a.m., I still think I got a few good deals. One thing I picked up was a new star for our tree. When I saw it on the highest shelf, it immediately caught my eye. There are no lights or other flashy embellishments. It's just a beautiful red star that looks like it is crafted from the thorns that were used to make the crown for Jesus when he was crucified. How appropriate that it was red...for the blood that He shed. He was born to die...for me. I found the symbolism too appealing to leave it there on the shelf.
So I brought it home to adorn our tree. There was just one problem. It is too heavy for the artificial tree. I thought I would have to return it, but looked around to see if I could use it somewhere else. I decided to see if it would go on top of a plant I have in our den. So now my corn plant is sporting a beautiful red star. Maybe it's happier there anyway.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Depression closes in on many people this time of the year...threatening to lower its cloak of darkness and choke out any semblance of hope and joy. Do I sound like I know what I'm talking about?
I know that I have much for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving Eve. My Savior who loves me no matter what...my family and friends...my little miracle child's arms around my neck, squeezing so tight...my church...my decent computer in my comfy house in my safe neighborhood in my free country...good health...provision...gas in the car and a turkey in the fridge. Life is good.
So what does one do with this feeling of sadness and impending doom?
I have found over the years that reminding myself that I will not feel this way forever...while not beating myself up over getting to this point in the first place...seems to help...at least a little bit.
Some people will say it is a spiritual problem. Some will say it's a chemical imbalance. Some might even say that it is predestined genetic issue. Most will have an opinion...and most are not helpful at all.
I pray that God will help us to be sensitive to those around us who are sad and hurting...for whatever reason...and help us to remember that this is not the season to be jolly for everyone.
Pass along a smile and a hug...and hold the judgement...you never know what a difference it could make.
What would you do if you had to actually use -- or at least enjoy -- everything you own?
Truth be told, most of us would never live long enough to accomplish such an overwhelming task. Instead, we pack it, stack it and pile it away -- even pay rent to store it -- and keep right on accumulating, acquiring and attaining even more. More doesn't add to our joy the way we thought it would. More stuff only dilutes the quality of our lives.
Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist, "discovered" the 80/20 principle in 1897 when he observed that 80 percent of the land in England (and every country he subsequently studied) was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto's theory of predictable imbalance has since been proven widely and applied to almost every aspect of modern life, including the things we own.
It's difficult to fend off that sick feeling when you calculate clutter's actual cost in hard-earned cash. Of course, there's that original price tag. But then there's the cost to own it.
One woman who finally had it with all her clutter loaded it up (it filled two pickup trucks) and headed for the flea market. Excited that she could possibly net $800 to $1,000 for one weekend of selling, she changed her attitude quickly when she realized her prices were about one-tenth of the price she paid.
Her mind went to the time she'd spent earning the money to buy all the stuff; the time spent shopping, lugging it all home then storing it until moving day. She figured even if she made $1,000 on this effort that meant she'd spent at least $10,000 (probably more!) purchasing it. That day she vowed to never buy anything again unless it was absolutely necessary.
Ask yourself a series of questions to determine what stays and what goes:
Does it work? So much of the clutter in our homes is made up of broken things we plan to fix someday and clothes that don't fit anymore but we hope they might someday.
Do I really need it? The answer will be clear as you imagine the impact of this item disappearing from your life.
Do I enjoy it? If this item brings beauty and joy to your life, it is not clutter. Sentimental belongings should be treated with great care and respect -- not forgotten in the attic.
Am I using it now? If it doesn't fall into the 20 percent of things you use on a regular basis, it is suspect.
Once you've earmarked the stuff that needs to go, move it out. Sell it, give it away or throw it out. Of course, one of the best solutions for "good stuff" is to give it to someone who really wants or needs it.
Decluttering will calm your spirit, clear your mind and increase your ability to enjoy your current situation, your family and relationships -- your life!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe evensome human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our Heavenly Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. ~Author Unknown~
Sunday, November 11, 2007
What about gas prices? I heard on T.V. last night that the price of gas has risen over 30 cents a gallon in a month! That is just insane. Sometimes I think that I should trade in my mini-van and get a car with better gas mileage. But we really need a van so we can haul all the grandkids and BK around. It seems that it just keeps taking more and more to live these days.
I have discovered something that can take the edge off the aggravations of life...cookies. It's hard to be depressed with a warm, fresh-baked cookie in your hand. I recommend them highly...for medicinal reasons, of course. One of my sisters sent me an email this week with links to many, many cookie recipes. I have never seen such a list of cookie recipes. Look below to find your favorite and whip up a batch...or two...and then pick up the phone and invite me over. Life is better lived with homemade cookies...and the friends who bake them.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
My nephew Josh is serving on a mission team in Calcutta, India. He has been there since August and he has six more weeks to go before he comes home. His mom is already planning the welcome home party. He is a remarkable young man and I am so proud of the work he is doing there...working with dying hospice patients...making their last days a little more bearable. He posted yesterday that he is sick and weary...and homesick.
I received an email yesterday from a woman who works with a non-profit Christian group in northern Mississippi. She told about a couple that came in for help. They just moved to that area a few months ago from Tennessee for a job. Before the husband could get health insurance, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and he is having seizures from the medicine he must take. They have three small children and a fourth one due in December. The woman told how sweet and appreciative they were about everything she shared with them. She said that they cried as they told her that things are so hard for them right now, but they are believing that God will take care of them...somehow.
Life comes hard and fast to most people...at one time or another. My comment to my nephew's blog was to tell him to crawl up in our Father's lap and let Him love on him for a while. That is good advice for all of us.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)
Guess what? The invitation is still open.
Rest in Him.
Monday, October 29, 2007
In Sunday School this week, a lady who was sharing the lesson told us about something that Max Lucado had written. It had to do with life being like an ice cream sundae...and how we shouldn't complain if there isn't a cherry on top...it's still an ice cream sundae. That struck a chord in me. It's so easy to look for what's wrong. I'm trying to shift my focus to all the things that are right...and to be thankful.
So...here's to cherry-less sundaes...and may we all learn to enjoy despite the fact that it might not be perfect.