Saturday, September 27, 2014

Scattered

IThis entry is bound to be as scattered as my thoughts. Raw. I know . I am experiencing the full spectrum of emotions. "When people act like they don't care , you should believe them" .

My children have been so sadly restless in their trying to understand so many things . Ysabel is usually up late but lately her sleep deprivation has been unparalleled . She isn't herself and I can understand. She takes in much and releases little( with the exception of her daily interactions with her sister. Argh!)  and today's thought is partly why. 
I remember when I was a young Christian adult, (so last week��) that this was one of my favorite praise songs "have mercy on me oh God, according to your unfailing love. Create in me a pure heart, make my spirit new. Create in me a pure heart make it pleasing to YOU". To Him. Not to the ways of world. 

I'm so saddened and disappointed to see the fallenness of these "modern times" . Love the song "Happy" , it always makes me bounce around with the baby especially because he loved that song too. But it's a testimony to the "culture " we are in. That happiness is the key , and as long as you're happy, it doesn't matter who you hurt. Gross. 

My children are feeling very rejected and we have been in this place before and it is one of the most painful things to watch happen to children .

It's hard to teach them hope and faith in a godly promise, when they see many promises carelessly come back empty. And these are not the "I know I said we could get ice cream but now we're not" kind of broken promises. Although I've been guilty of those a few times and I always feel disappointed in myself as a mother when I do. 

There is a gift that G-d gives us as children and that is the gift of purity , childlike naiveness and He cherishes it. It's been said that children are like blank canvases and what they experience writes on the slate of who they are. 

I'm calling upon our Father to hold tightly 
onto his children. Guard their pure and untainted hearts. Protect them from careless individuals and those who forsake their faith for happiness.

I know the power of influence on young children's impressionable minds and souls and I can only pray that my children do not impose upon anyone in their life the pain they have been exposed to. I hope to instill positive into them before the world gets a hold of them and changes or contorts their hearts for God. That is the reason for my daily and pointed praying, I do not want them to grow up to deny their faith. Or compromise it. So much of who we are is molded into us at very young ages. I think of Footprints frequently and in times when I feel lost I reference it. I think my first exposure to this imagery was when I was a kindergartner . So pure and open hearts are key . "Blessed are those of pure heart " 

It makes me hate myself sometimes that I trust as well and have allowed them to be so disappointed. As I'm writing this I'm exhausted and looking down the business end of a huge mess trying to get Ysabel's party details finalized. And she is sad because I'm sad and she thinks as all children do, that somehow circumstances are her fault. If she just didn't have a birthday party everything would be different or if she just did something differently .... That's what children do and it kills me . Breaks my heart. I'm trying to make her special day joyous and she deserves that.
I now hope that these babies grow up to emulate the opposite of how they've been treated and hold steadfast to what I've been trying to teach them in Him. That they may be honest , loyal, obedient to Christ and honor their promises . 

I pray their "happiness" but moreso their blessings. Blessings are earned .I wish for them to be bold and committed to truth that they take the joy and the pain (see I have this word association illness lol , I hear certain things and I immediately have musical Tourette's as my dad calls it and songs pop into my head . "Joy and Pain , like sunshine and rain".... Rob Base. Sorry. ) 
But I know if they stay their courses and seek G-d above man, blessings will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes of any pain or despair. 

Encourage and soothe them and us Lord . Help them to know that even though we see no reward for doing what it right , at least you keep your promises. Good and bad !  Thank you for sending people into our lives to intercede on our behalf and to advocate for us. I'm tired and my spirit is weak . Party ready... Here's hoping ! 

Faith of any kind is not usually convenient . But there is a danger in claiming convictions and then turning your back on them. G-d thought I was stronger than I am . I have so much faith in Him , but He has too much faith in me. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Praying in the Spirit, Compassion- Spiritual, Parenting

IYesterday I prayed for the kiddos and the specific subject was compassion.  I didn't spend much time here as my children are extremely compassionate and sometimes to a fault.  I sometimes think that they are so sensitive to the needs and feelings of others because in all honesty it's something that is frequently lacking in their own lives. We've had a rough road together and I do my best to "cover them" where others have been lacking.  Some lessons in life have been very hard on them, but through His grace they have learned how NOT to treat people. So I said my prayer for them then and it was one of gratitude for strengthening their hearts. 

Today's guide is "Praying in the spirit".  This is a challenging one for me because as all things dealing with the spirit, it's an intangible concept and my children are fond of tangible and visual aids to learn.  If they are walking with G-d as I try to encourage them to and through my prayer, I would hope that it become so familiar to them that it is always the first reference they access in all parts of their life. So how to explain praying in the Spirit.....

A common practice of prayer tends to be calling out to Him only when we're in the trenches of some relentless pit. We want Him to valiantly show up and "save us".  So I reminded the children that it's G-d's desire that we speak to Him in ALL seasons of our lives.  When it's good and when it's not-so-good.  We kind of set up ourselves up for failure in how complacent we can become as humans when we don't have any perceived threats. So we forget to pray because we think things are good.  Even and especially Christians are going to experience hardship and tested.  And just like in school, like that clever phrase says, "If you ever wonder where G-d has gone, remember a teacher is always quiet during the TEST". One of my favorite in-depth studies was one on the book of Esther.  Sometimes G-d begins a great work then "seems to disappear" from the story. Esther is depicted as  a woman of great faith and  strength, and yet in the book there is NO reference to G-d. 
   Christianity didn't really come easily for me and it didn't happen overnight. I even wish I prayed more.  When I was a young Christian, maybe 19 or 20, I started going to my first REAL Bible studies (sorry Catholic school lol )and I remember "Prayer Requests". And everyone got out their notebooks and starting writing down everyone's problems, concerns, praises.  And then the next week, same thing, week after week. Notebook was filling up and I realized , holy cow, if it keeps up like this all I'll be doing is praying. Aha moment!  That's what G-d WANTS! For us to have our sights so set on the Lord that we pray "without ceasing".  I wonder how life would look if we didn't have time to focus on anything else but G-d. Maybe a bit better and a bit brighter? 

The kids and I don't like the "season" we are currently in, but we have to remain faithful and go back to that good old perseverance and continued protection. But it's my ultimate prayer that they pray in the storm and also during the calm. Maybe G-d is a bit like Marilyn Monroe lol " If you can't handle me at my worst, you don't deserve my best."
Grant, Lord, that my children'
lives may be marked by
prayerfulness, that they may
learn to "pray in the Spirit on
all occasions with all kinds of

Friday, September 19, 2014

Humility - Spiritual, Parenting

Today's message for my children is humility. While it is something I address logically , I can honestly say I haven't always presented it with spirituality attached. The closer I walk with G-d the more I realize that it's all His omnipresence . There are times when being a good person and doing the right thing are a conscious effort indeed but I suppose our thoughts and actions are influenced by what we access as truth.

19. Humility—"God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all." (Titus 3:2) 


This is a good message particularly for my children in the simple fact that they are performers and gifted in their hearts and minds . I say this as their mother and as a person who is very mindful of influences and ways of the world. 

They all perform well and work hard and are a couple of them are truly targeted as a result. But they receive positive feedback at the competitive level. My method of teaching humility has generally been to wait until a situation arises and encourage the children to be empathetic ,especially if they have witnessed or participated in a conversation where bragging and unnecessary competitiveness arises. 

Dance is a difficult forum as are the performing arts in general. All and many aspects of life require confidence and faith in oneself. Let's face it they're still kids but I am frequently displeased and frustrated about things I hear that go UNADDRESSED.  Trust that if I hear my children act out I call it out immediately . I grew up in the performing arts and believe me when I say that the environment has gotten worse . As such a personal attribute , there has been so much focus on competing against each other that it bleeds over into friendships and wreaks havoc on people's natures . 
I have chosen the approach that we are to focus on challenging and competing with ourselves. Dance is an art that comes from within. Some aspects cannot be taught in its most beautiful form. And we will mind our business.  The truth is some of my children are better at maintaining humility than others.   It makes me a little crazy! But it still may be more than I've seen. Regardless I will pray for my children and all children actually. I realized that many conflicts both in childhood and adulthood are a result of a LACK of humility and the belief and practice of the term "leveling". Constant play on individual insecurities, building oneself up to "compete" with someone who has something we desire or value. Annoying. And in it's ugliest form , it extends to tearing people down to bring them to the same perceived "level" . It produces bullies and a blatant lack of a compassionate filter. I spoke today to my children about how it is unbecoming to volunteer our successes without invitation. We have a new little motto . "Put up your FRONT". 
F-Focus (on yourself in G-d and your goals)
R-Reward is rarely just tangible 
O-Obey ( rules so your successes are never questioned or challenged)
N-No bragging 
T-Thank G-d (for the gifts and talents you wouldn't have without Him wanting to have them) . 

So if you hear me say to one of my children "are you FRONTing" it's all good! It's a visual and intentional reminder not to be drawn into spiraling situations and keeps their sights set on what is right . Hopefully. Lol

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Remembering - Children and Spiritual

Today's prayer on my prayer calendar for the children is :
18 Perseverance
"Lord teach my children perseverance in all they do, help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them" Heb 12:1

I have been a mother for 19 years and I've felt the tests of having to persevere as a single mother and a married "single" mother for the majority of it. I'm spending a great deal of time in the Word today because I need justice, I need protection and I feel like I need for once in my life for other people's joy and happiness not be at my or my children's expense. So I realized how hard it is to pray for perseverance when I'm struggling to do it myself. And then a message came to me in His perfect timing on my phone.

As I'm falling apart I am generally unable to speak lately.  I'm not on a call to martyrdom. I have sacrificed so many parts of my being for the betterment and security of my children and the last child I had was a pregnancy that was unmatched to the prior ones.  And again, I was expected to sacrifice.  The joy was taken from me. Not many know the struggles I was enduring then, as I didn't want to burden anyone and to be honest few truly cared. I know it's easy to get wrapped up in our lives and endless pursuits of happiness. But are these pursuits ever truly satisfied? In Bible study years ago, I learned from a great teacher that it is human nature to be anxious, even to the point of engaging in sinful and selfish behaviors.  Because we're wired for ETERNITY and were never intended to feel completion apart from G-d. So not here. I experienced a reminder of this as I felt my consciousness slipping away as my life was slipping away slowly from uncontrollable blood loss.  I knew it would happen this way I had dreams of it and I pleaded for my life and that of my unborn son and fought for it every time I received discouraging news throughout the pregnancy or had those unwelcomed pains or hopeless bleeding.  I was expected to sacrifice. And I did.  I knew things were wrong when my doctor who had missed the birth, lost her normal calm bedside manner, I had done this before and it was usually calm. My life and my son's life had not been respected and I would be told later that I was exaggerating.

That day the clamor, shouting and way too much blood was proof that such assumptions had endangered us both,  a testimony to the spirit and care the baby and I received and such disregard. Only my mother and medical staff were there. My mother was distraught, my doctor was distraught and through the rails of my hospital bed I realized that my father and children had arrived and weren't permitted in. Now more panic and my eyes met sweet Ysabel's . She was crying.  I don't recall much just so much pain because he came too quickly for me to have the benefits of anesthesia and so much sternness from my doctor as the staff quickly multiplied.  "Type her blood, she's bleeding out.  I don't know ! I don't know!".  Med orders . "We couldn' t get her the IV, how do we do it ?" "In her legs, just stab it in her legs!". Ow! Ow! It wasn't working and then came the uncontrollable convulsions. I couldn't stop shaking , my jaw was hurting from clenching. My eyes hurt. Freezing. "I'm freezing" Blankets and more blankets but I couldn't feel warmth.

"How's mom doing ?" the baby's nurse asks. "He's really looking for his mom." 

I couldn't keep my eyes open. I WANT to keep my eyes open.  But they didn't open for hours. Perseverance. And I'm expected to sacrifice.

Greysonn began his life with a very challenging disposition , he was colicky, he was unhappy, he felt the stress, still. Persevere. Then persevere some more , just me and Greysonn. Trying to earn back what was boldly and assumptively taken from us. It took me 12 weeks to be able to walk normally, nearly function and heal physically. And now the emotions.

It seemed simple, "no stress". But we weren't worth it . And still aren't .  I know and live the TRUE all inclusive sacrifice of having children, of having Greysonn. And then am alone to "teach" perseverance.  Is it supposed to be solely my lesson to teach them all? HOW is it simple to walk away for any reason natural or supernatural.  What is it in me that demands that regardless of circumstances all of the responsibility to pick up pieces is solely mine, even when I'm wronged ,  and then everyone wishes to benefit from the very child their actions almost erased our existence.  No stress . Sacrifice. What AM I good enough for? Cover us in protection Lord as you did that day. Show me hope. How to teach perseverance. Help me to not cry when I see a new baby and pregnant women. Help me stop crying at all.

My phone just dinged and I read this from on an un-related and unexpected person   , " Hang in there. I have faith everything will work out. I feel pain, heartache and worry with you. I am on your side and will do whatever I can for you and the kids. If you want to talk I'm always here for you. I love you.That doesn't make things better but maybe it will help your soul." G-d moves in such mysterious ways and in such perfect timing. And He's sending me encouragement. So why can't I BREATHE?

There are no godlier words that could have been spoken to me. But it released the flood gates.  I have never experienced such uncontrolled sobbing.  Thank you for your message G-d through that person.  Please hold onto me and the children when no one else will. Send me the right helper and support.  And deal with those who follow their own wills over yours. Help me to live what I'm trying to teach them today. Help me to stop CRYING. Help someone to stand up for US.

Broken promises are not a party -spiritual

What does one do in the wake of the realization of abandonment and broken promises ? Apparently some celebrate and others try to pick up the pieces?  Try. But does it ever work ? And when will there be truth in people's hearts? I don't even know what to tell my heart or what to speak over my children . It's a lot to take on alone and it wasn't the promise. 

In the world there is so much brokenness and fallen thoughts, and so much confidence in it . I had to come back to some of my posts to try to find some worth. 

I see these world struggles in the hearts of activists such as ISIS who can massacre innocent women and children and human beings in general. But they BELIEVE in what they're doing. My heart is globally broken and I don't want to show my face. Has anyone ever felt this way? And where is the reward in being a faithful person and mother ? Is it coming soon ? 

I've learned that that is all it takes to spiritually , emotionally or physically murder someone  is the BELIEF that it's ok. And then they celebrate in the streets ? 
I have been told throughout my life that I am not worth self sacrifice and have received so many promises only for people to simply and easily rescind them . I am this day feeling emotionally battered and not for anything other than something others BELIEVE. 

I've been stripped and shamed and can find no peace or cause to celebrate in that. I cannot break my promises to people and I cannot understand how it is so easy for others to do . I'm under attack . And people think it's cause to celebrate .

Does anyone celebrate truth? 
If any takes the time to read this I ask you to pray for those who are victims of broken and disregarded promises . They are fighting a horrible indescribable battle . And probably alone. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Protection and Justice for the faithful-Family, Spiritual

Today's devotional and prayers for my children have once again aligned beautifully with the messages our pastors have been addressing on the topics of Heaven and Hell.  So many quotes and verses flood my mind and I take on this intentional journey to deepen my spiritual commitments. For me I choose Heaven hands down, and that requires a faithfulness that I am renewing.  

I actually combined prayers for the kids because as I began with the one dedicated for today, I realized there was another I needed to address : 
"Saturday: Pray for the spouse each child will marry someday. Ask that they will come from godly homes and have an appetite to live the spiritual truth they've learned. Pray also that their goals and purpose will be the same as your own children and their future homes would be godly (Deuteronomy 5:29)

I pray abundant peace for my children in their adulthood in choosing their spouses and even their acquaintances.  I desire for them to hold steadfast to the godly values they have been learning throughout their lives, that they may be people of their words and worthy of honor and respect from their spouses and children. 

It is no secret that despite my efforts I have not been able to offer them the optimum model of how a committed marriage, as G-d intended looks. But our home will remain Christ centered  I have experienced losses as a result of broken vows and numerous circumstances that were definitely not what He calls us for. This is what led me to the second portion of the daily prayer ; "Pray that your children will be caught if they wander into cheating, lies or mischief (Hebrews13:18-19) I have been given many blessings in the my children and they are more than anything a huge responsibility. Their thoughts and actions are a reflection of their hearts , their morals and a reflection on me in all of the same regards.  I don't want them to grow up to be disobedient to G-d and cause pain and disappointment to those around them.  I am praying for their light. And I am praying that they are accountable for their wrongdoings , unlike so many, that they may not develop poor life habits that bleed into their relationships.

There was a time when I viewed Christianity as very legalistic and limiting, but in my growth I soon came to realize that God places boundaries for our "safety".  I often reflect upon one of my favorite devotionals about God being the "cleft of the rock" .  Protecting us as our heavenly Father just as most earthly fathers would wish to protect their children from harm.  His design protects our minds , our hearts , and our thoughts from danger inflicted upon us by those around us and even ourselves.  I love visuals, so I searched for an image of a cleft of a rock. I love the gorgeous illustrations I found!  G-d hid Moses (Exodus 33:22) and hides our souls in the cleft of the rock, the area between the rocks where the elements of traffic, weather; winds, rains and anything that can cause damage are absent and have no access.  As you can see , there things "blossom" in the most unexpected places while under that hedge of protection. 


 In all of this, I came upon anger that arises from injustice from people who have taken positions that contributed to negative circumstances and the feelings the children and I have and those that condone and encourage the breaking of promises to us all.  It is painful to see the spectrum of emotions for each impacted child especially. I know this was not G-d's promise for them and I have to deal with that God's way.  That is to call upon divine judgement and protection. I call upon His names Shophet, for His judgement, Jehovah-Nissi , protection and blessings ,and upon his promises through the prophet Isaiah for those who are faithful and pursued by those that oppose Him. I know the G-d who hears , and El Roi, the G-d who sees , is the same God to whom David cried out to with imprecatory prayer, and He answers our calls.

Isaiah 54 offers me blessings for faithfulness and solace from those that have hurt me and subsequently my children:
Isaiah 54: 4-10 , 16-17

4“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.
5For your Maker is your husband—
the Lord Almighty is his name—
the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;
he is called the God of all the earth.
6The Lord will call you back
as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—
a wife who married young,
only to be rejected,” says your God.
7“For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with deep compassion I will bring you back.
8In a surge of anger
I hid my face from you for a moment,
but with everlasting kindness
I will have compassion on you,”
says the Lord your Redeemer.
9“To me this is like the days of Noah,
when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.
So now I have sworn not to be angry with you,
never to rebuke you again.
10Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

16“See, it is I who created the blacksmith
who fans the coals into flame
and forges a weapon fit for its work.
And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;
17no weapon forged against you will prevail,
and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

Thank you G-d for your Word and the fact that if nothing else YOUR promises do not return empty.  Just as it says above our front door ,"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" .

 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Prayers for my children , Hope for the future -family, spiritual

I don't find myself having a ton of down time and that's largely due to my choice and responsibility  to be a committed parent even when it doesn't feel good.  And as I say " that's the way the pickle drips" . It's easy to get caught up in the rat race of trying to please everyone, but what is G-d trying to work in my life ? My kids ? 

Many circumstances have left me on my own with the primary charge of guiding this little ones to be positive contributions to society and to the Kingdom of G-d. Parenting is serious and yet taken so lightly . Children aren't accomplishments until they are grown . I heard a stand up comic say " Why do we congratulate people when they have a baby ? Shouldn't we wait and see how they turn out first ?" Lol , funny, but true . Having them is the easy part . And then , since I'm a fan of Steve Martin, I recall the movie from the eighties, maybe early nineties ,"Parenthood" when Keanu Reeves says, "You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish...." The rest is crass but eludes to the fact that there's no test or prerequisite to bringing life into the world . 

The more I see in the world , the more disappointed I am in some of the fallen and misdirected ways of adults.  Then I grow fearful that my children are going to miss it... I remember in women's Bible study , many of us moms shared the concern for the  poor role models our children are exposed to. It's disheartening , not only is there a lack of caring, but there is an evident growing sense of entitlement in the upcoming generations and society as a whole. And, it's become easier to just stay in one place and quit striving for improvement . Heaven forbid we try to be better . 

I'm only one person and as strong as I can be, I have my weaknesses and truthfully grow weary of taking it on myself . It's hard to be the only one left standing . So how do I do what is pleasing to G-d when it seems so many around me don't share the desire , and take pride in it ? How do I call upon Him for my children ? 

Here's what I do now to fill in the gaps that only God can fill. I have been faithful and intentional in my daily choices and my prayer , especially for my children , I want them to be successful in every aspect of their lives.  I pray for their days, discipline and futures . I pray for their future relationships , and their marriages.  I have printed the following out and placed it in my direct view so nothing can distract me from it . I'd love for anyone who feels led to join me in praying for children to do it too,  especially for those who have come upon circumstances that set them up to be lost ; absent or uncommitted parent/parents, loss , etc. I've been praying these verses for their accountability and their hearts but came upon a format where it is outlined for each day! Bravo! 





"Monday: Ask God to place a protective, solid hedge around your children so that Satan cannot reach in and lead them into temptation and so they will be safe from harm (2 Thessalonians 3:3; Psalm 33:20).


Tuesday: Pray that your children would use godly wisdom in selecting friends and peers that will make a positive difference in their lives. Ask God to give each child a discernment of people as well as knowing the difference between right and wrong (Proverbs 1:10; 18:24; Deuteronomy 13:6,8).


Wednesday: Pray that your children would stay pure in their thoughts and deeds (Psalm 24:4-5; Job 17:9).


Thursday: Pray that they will be caught if they wander into cheating, lies, or mischief (Hebrews 13:18-19).


Friday: Pray they will be alert and thinking clearly as they attend school and extra curricular activities and as they take exams. Ask God to help them be motivated to do the best they are capable of doing (Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31)


Saturday: Pray for the spouse each child will marry someday. Ask that they will come from godly homes and have an appetite to live the spiritual truth they've learned. Pray also that their goals and purpose will be the same as your own children and their future homes would be godly (Deuteronomy 5:29


Sunday: Ask God to help them live their lives for Him and that He will use them as a testimony and witness for His glory. Pray that they'll be grown to full spiritual maturity (Psalms 78:1-8, 103:17-18; Isaiah 54:13; Ephesians 3:20-21).

Do not leave your children unprotected-that is, vulnerable to Satan's attack. The greatest shield of protection we as parents can provide for our children is prayer. It's never too late to start (1 Samuel 12:23; James 5:16; Colossians 4:2)." 

-Don and Sue Myers 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hearts for the homeless and underserved - Family, fun,spiritual

Ysabel (8) always expresses concern for the people holding their signs roadside pleading for help. In fact all of the kids do . Now, the human side of me has a small , taunting voice that draws on my life's experiences of broken innocence in broken promises and dishonesty , and it causes me to be cynical. I don't want to offer money to someone who is impoverished that may use it to support a    poor habit or addictionor anything of that nature when I can be using it myself. There I said it.   I have a large family, we try not to live in abundance  and my children have  their necessities as well. So I find myself apprehensive .

Thankfully, the larger voice of G-d overpowers and calls upon my charge to raise kind, contributing members of society. And I'm reminded that it is not my place to judge , need is need. And I want to help. 

Matthew 25:40 reads " "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'"(NIV) 

If I ever found myself and my family in dire straits (the condition , not the band ) I would pray upon these words for mercy and grace. 

I had heard of something like this before and I also welcomed it as a solution. The goal is to assist in the problem of being underserved , regardless of the circumstances that led to it. 

So, we had some toothbrushes left from party bags from Aemilia's 7th birthday party ( it was Willy Wonka themed and the favor bags contained unforgivable amounts of candy !). As a peace offering to parents, I included toothbrushes to clean little teeth after partaking.... 

Ysabel suggested we give the extras away. Yes!! But who will be excited about receiving a toothbrush ?And then came the recollection of care packages for the homeless. So off to the store we went and a short time and a few gallon plastic storage bags later , we have small tokens of our hearts and prayers to store in out car until we cross paths with a person or persons in need. 

We included:
-toothbrushes , toothpaste
-deodorant 
- mini flashlights 
-body soap and lotion
-disposable razors
-refillable small plastic cups 
-water bottles 
-cheese and cracker snacks 
-preserved chicken salad and cracker combos
-granola bars
-beef jerky 
-hand sanitizer
- sandwich cookie packs 
-small manicure set 
- band aids
- warm pair of socks 

Thank you G-d for the beautiful and kind meditations of my children's hearts for the poor and for the gift of generosity you have bestowed upon us all! 



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Believing a lie- Faith

This is probably a decent read for people in numerous relationship and life stages.  Of course it's 1 a.m. so I'm not sure, all things considered, what promises I can make grammatically or cohesively on this one !~ lol ~ What pains me is the knowledge that those that need to read it the most, are probably struggling the most, but will never take the time (because they claim they have none); because it's gritty truth. Buried in smartphones,apps, games, hobbies and social networks, I can see where 10 minutes out of a 24 hour day to read something can be impossible (yes, sorry, facetiousness) . But then don't complain when complacency bites you in the hiney!

I've been watching "things" fall apart all around me for me and for people close and even not so close to me.  Especially in marriage though ....Considering that I have been divorced, I can say without hesitation, that I know why God hates divorce.  It's (even in its simplest and uncontested forms) destructive. It, at one point or another, brings out the worst in each party.  It destroys the whole and leaves the two parts of the whole broken, whether they acknowledge it or not.  In regards to children, agreeably many are quite resilient and, depending on the circumstances in their home, may be better off. I mean that specifically  in the presence of any sort of abuse (as I personally experienced), or danger, I am the first to advocate on building a strong"half of a home".  It seems like divorce has become the answer for so many to pursue their own personal happiness and couldn't be farther from God's plan.  I remained in a marriage for several additional years in obedience to God, even though I had experienced the specific circumstances that the Bible deems as valid reasons for divorce.  I know this isn't the popular approach and that it's another way people look at me as if the cheese slipped right off my cracker.  But , I can say this for certain, I have very few things in my life that I can look back on and say " I didn't do everything I could've possibly done". Never going to apologize for that.

Society is such a mess and I have the hardest time remaining focused on which end is "UP". I am constantly bombarded with selfish viewpoints,  attacks on my faith, attacks on my morals and the poor human behavior that seems to be beginning younger and younger. I have to keep my sights set on the One that saved me from the endless pits of despair that follow loss and that surface in frustration. 

What's disappointing to me is the lack of faith we can have in people now.  And moreso, how people regard me because they are so used to dealing with those that are untrustworthy, or who they can expect to put their best interests first.  I feel like I'm a misunderstood , dying species and I have to wake up every morning lately and convince myself that this is the day the Lord has made.  

It is exceedingly frustrating and here again, I hear the familiar "Well, I'm not happy" and no further efforts....One good thing about life mistakes is the ability to cringe when you recognize the same mistake being made.  The Devil is a crafty soul and in knowing every individual's weaknesses, he knows where to foster the familiar insecurities that affect me the most. I know the call of a Christian life and I know it actually, lends itself to more struggles to face and tests to endure.  I never heard anyone say it was meant to be easy, yet I know many expect it to be. I've been made to feel like I'm crazy because I rely on my faith foundations rather than current public opinion. I guess if that's crazy, I'll take my straight jacket in a size small.  Even Jesus was mocked, to death, literally.

I sometimes wonder after all of the "divorce dust" or arguments settle, what children of the home say to themselves in the quiet corners of their little , broken hearts.  I know there are issues, adult issues, that they cannot wrap their minds around and can only find a million ways to bear the burdens themselves.  Somehow they can make everything a result of something theyve done. How long do they lay awake at night asking what they could've done better to be worthy of not being left or having their lives as they know transform into something new without even being allowed their input?How selfish to chart the courses of other people's lives because the word "covenant" holds no earthly truth.  It becomes the universal internalization of "What's wrong with me? Why am I unlovable?" and so on.  

Since it' s been easy for so many to act like I'm crazy, I've been feeling constant battles over my soul , that makes me cling to my Bible and what I know has been truth and God's promises to me.  The world is so noisy and full of opinions, and schedules, and kids, and deadlines and , and, and... the list is endless.  It's exhausting and it easily covers the voice of God.  I am so many times ashamed to say that I'm certain I have missed God's pursuing me due to distractions because it's more typical to seek Him when I've hit rock bottom. For me, the valleys have become lower and lower and now I'm more focused.  I'm exceedingly blessed to have a prayer team that also prays for me in my weakest moments where I cannot pray for myself. And Satan makes me listen to the accusations of me that have been made, and he makes me believe it.  So I search for how to fix it all and instead find validations to what in my truest heart I've knownI came across this article and finished it renewed in confidence that my values are consistent with His Word, the objections addressed below are so familiar and I love how they reference the biblical basis for their conclusions.... for those that choose to hear.  Nice work Satan, I'm not fooled, so you'll need to keep searching for your teammates. 
"


8 Lies That Destroy Marriage

Every wrong behavior begins with believing a lie.

by Bill Elliff 
 
"Imagine meeting with an engaged couple a few weeks before they are married. With excitement they describe how they met and how their relationship developed. The husband-to-be proudly describes how he set up a perfect romantic evening so he could pop the big question.
Then they surprise you by saying, “We want to get married and have some children. At first we will feel a lot of love for each other. Then we’ll start arguing and hating each other. In a few years, we’ll get a divorce.”
Who would enter marriage intending to get a divorce? And yet, divorce is occurring at alarming rates. A large number of people in my church have been hurt deeply by divorce—they’ve been divorced themselves, or they’ve felt the pain of a parent or relative divorcing.
As common as divorce is, I’m convinced that most of them could be avoided. Mark this down on the tablet of your heart: Every wrong behavior begins with believing a lie. Our culture promotes many deceptions that can quickly destroy a marriage. Here are eight:
Lie #1. "My happiness is the most important thing about my marriage.”  
As a pastor, I can’t tell you how many people have justified breaking up their marriages by saying, “I have to do this. God just wants me to be happy.”
But according to God’s Word, a spouse’s individual happiness is not the purpose for marriage.
The Bible says in Colossians 3:17: “Whatever you do in word or deed,” do for the glory of God. While all parts of creation are to glorify God, mankind was made in God’s very image. Through marriage, husbands and wives are to reflect His character and have children who will reflect His character … all the way to the end of time.
Every marriage knows unhappiness. Every marriage knows conflict. Every marriage knows difficulty. But everyone can be joyful in their marriage by focusing on God’s purposes and His glory instead of individual happiness.
Lie #2. “If I don’t love my spouse any longer, I should get a divorce.”   
It’s a tragedy to lose love in marriage. But the loss of human love can teach us to access a deeper love—the very love of God Himself. That love is patient and kind … it never fails (1 Corinthians 13). It even cares for its enemies.
When human love dies in a marriage, a couple can enter into one of the most exciting adventures they’ll ever have: learning how to love each other with God’s love. Romans 5:5 tells us that this very love “has been poured out within our hearts, through the Holy Spirit.”
Lie #3. “My private immorality does not affect my marriage.”
A lot of people think, I can view pornography in the privacy of my home. It’s just me and my magazine, or computer … it doesn’t affect my marriage. 
Oneness in marriage is hijacked by sexual immorality. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:15, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?”
In the 21st century, there are many ways to join oneself with a prostitute: physically, through the pages of a magazine, on a computer’s video screen, etc. Paul’s advice is the same today as it was thousands of years ago: Flee immorality (1 Corinthians 6:18).  
If you take your emotional and sexual energy and spend it on someone else, there will be nothing left for your spouse. Those who continually view pornography or engage in sexual fantasies are isolating themselves. 
Lie #4. “My sin (or my spouse’s sin) is so bad that I need to get a divorce.”
The truth is God can fix our failures—any failure. The Bible says to forgive one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us (Colossians. 3:13).
“But,” you ask, “Doesn’t Matthew 19:9 say that God allows divorce in the case of sexual immorality?” Yes. I believe that it does—when there is an extended period of unrepentance. Yet, nowhere in that passage does God demand divorce. When there is sexual sin, we should seek to redeem the marriage and so illustrate the unfathomable forgiveness of God.
Some of the greatest life messages I know are the marriages of people who have repented from sexual sin and spouses who have forgiven them. Their lives today are living testimonies to the truth found in Joel 2:25: “… I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”
Lie #5. “I married the wrong person.”
Many people have told me, for example, that they are free to divorce because they married an unbeliever. “I thought he/she would become a Christian, but that didn’t happen. We need to get a divorce.” They recall that they knew it was a mistake, but they married anyway—hoping it would work out. Others claim that they just married someone who wasn’t a good match, someone who wasn’t a true “soul mate.”
A wrong start in marriage does not justify another wrong step. “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good,” says Romans 8:28, “to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
God tells us not to be poured into the world’s mold. Instead we are to be transformed and that begins in our minds. By doing this, God will give us exactly what we need for our lives. God’s will for us is good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).
Here’s the key for those who are now married: The Bible clearly says do not divorce (with the exception for extended, unrepentant sexual immorality). God can take even the worst things of life and work them together for good if we will just trust Him.
Lie #6. “My spouse and I are incompatible.” 
I don’t know a lot of husbands and wives who are truly compatible when they get married. In marriage, God joins together two flawed people.
If I will respond correctly to my spouse’s weaknesses, then God can teach me forgiveness, grace, unconditional love, mercy, humility, and brokenness. The life of a person who believes in Jesus Christ is developed by responses to not only happy things, but also to difficulties. And those very difficulties include weaknesses.  
That is why we are told in Colossians 3:12-13 to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other.” My spouse’s weaknesses are not hindrances. Instead, they are the doorway to spiritual growth. This is a liberating truth.
If I will respond to my spouse’s shortcomings with unconditional acceptance, my love won’t be based on performance. I won’t say, “You need to live up to these expectations.” I will be able to accept my spouse, weaknesses and all. And that acceptance will swing open the door of change for not only my spouse, but also for me.
Lie #7. “Breaking the marriage covenant won’t hurt me or my children.”
When divorce enters a family, there are always scars. I know this firsthand; although I was an adult when my father committed adultery and divorced my mother, decades later there are still effects. Many consequences of divorce never go away.
Blake Hudspeth, our church’s youth pastor, also understands the pain of divorce. He was 5 years old when his parents divorced, and it was hard for him to understand God as Father and to trust people. “The people I trusted the most split up.” He also found it difficult to accept love from others “because I didn’t know if they truly loved me.” And Blake developed a fear of marriage. “Am I going to follow the trend of divorce, because my parents and grandparents divorced?”
Blake’s father even wrote him and said, “This was the worst decision I made in my life. It was bad. It hurt you. It hurt our family. When I divorced your mom, I divorced our family because I broke a covenant that we were a part of.”
Blake says that his parents (who both remarried) have embraced the gospel, resulting in him readily accepting advice and encouragement from them. “Watching the gospel play out … with my mom and dad was huge,” he says.
Lie #8. “There’s no hope for my marriage—it can’t be fixed.” 
This may be the most devastating lie of all. Because in more than four decades of counseling couples, I’ve seen God do the seeming impossible thousands of times. In a dying marriage, He just needs two willing parties. God knows how to get us out of the messes we get ourselves into.
I tell these couples about people like Chuck and Ann, who were involved in drugs and alcohol before God restored their home. Or Lee and Greg, who were engaged in multiple affairs. God brought them back to Christ and to each other. Now they have six children and a marriage ministry. Or Jim and Carol who had taken off their wedding rings and were living in separate bedrooms and about to live in separate worlds when God redeemed them.
If you begin to think, There is no hope for my marriage, realize that, “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
We must combat the lies about marriage. The truth will set us free (John 8:32). God can fix anything!"


Bill Elliff is the directional pastor of The Summit Church in North Little Rock, Arkansas. His passion is to see both genuine revival and methodological renewal in the church. He is a frequent conference speaker, writer, and consultant to churches drawing from his four decades of pastoring and revival ministry. He is also involved in helping lead “OneCry! A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening.” Bill and his wife, Holly, have eight children and six grandkids (at last count).

All I can say after that is "Amen". :-) 
 
Blessings today lovies! 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Ready for Easter- some fun from the oven-Family, Fun

These turned out super cute, little bunny ears and bottoms ! Go ahead say it , "some'bunny' needs a life " ;-) 

The Ultimate Sacrifice:Good Friday-Faith

"Jesus went to the garden
And fell down on His kness
Jesus prayed in the garden
Of Gethsemane
Not my will but Yours be done
Father, not my will but Yours be done

Jesus went to the mountain
To bleed for you and me
Jesus died on the mountain
Called Calvary
Why have You forsaken me?
My God, why have You forsaken me?" ~ Jesus Went to the Garden


CLICK HERE to take a moment to experience a beautiful version of the song...

 

Being forsaken is one of the loneliest and darkest places I've experienced and what a place to be, in order to offer the ultimate sacrifice; to lay down your life for the benefit of everyone else. And who other than Jesus can relate to the joy of being revered for your faith only later to be rejected and rebuked because of it.  To die for the sins of others...And Jesus was in absolute agony in what was to come that he began to perspire blood ( an actual, documented medical condition called hematidrosis- where a person undergoing extreme stress and secretes blood through their sweat glands). 

I recently saw the theatrical and musical production of The Thorn, which I highly recommend and today I recall the scene where Jesus is praying and pleading in the Garden of Gethsemane and we were able to see the actual battle between good and evil for the soul of the Darling of Heaven. But it was a cup of suffering that G-d could not take from him.


That brought me to the revered verse John 3:16 "For G-d so loved the world that He gave His one and only son..." 

I am a mother and while I can if called,  substitute my life for those of my children and  for their sakes, I could not fathom the pain to be endured to sacrifice a child for even such a cause, no nobler cause.  In the Old Testament with the story of Abraham and Isaac, where Abraham also exudes unwaivering faith and obediance, Isaac most likely would have shared his anxiety and confusion with his father whom he trusted. Just as when Jesus was dying a death bathed in shame, he cried out to his heavenly father , "Father why have you forsaken me?" And there, before his accusers and those who judged him, he offered himself as atonement of their sins and all of our sins. 

And just as the final chords strike in Natalie Grant's song "Why" (a favorite of mine and my 8 year old daughter), we are able to hear the pain the father and son experienced on the fateful day.

"And I heard a voice come from the cross

And it said, `Father, why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why are they casting their lots for My robe?
This crown of thorns hurts Me more than it shows
Father, please can`t You do something?
I know that You must hear My cry
I thought I could handle the cross of this size
Father, remind Me why
Why does everyone want Me to die?
When will I understand why?`

`My precious Son, I hear them screaming
I`m watching the face of the enemy beaming
But soon I will clothe You in robes of My own
Jesus, this hurts Me much more than You know
But this dark hour, I must do nothing, oh I've heard your unbearable cry,

The power in your blood, destroys all of the lies,

Soon you'll see past, their unmerciful eyes,

Look there below , see the child, trembling by her father's side?

Now I can tell you why,

she is why you must die"

Today is a sad day of reflection but one that offers me hope that sacrifice is not in vain.

Below are my children's blogs on these event. I'm very grateful for them and proud of them.  I have them blog and then use them as school editing exercises, but these are their raw, unedited thoughts, they'd love to share them, so click below:

Ysabel, 8 - The Thorn , Good Friday  

Rylann, 10 -The Thorn, Good Friday

Aemilia , 7  -The Thorn, Good Friday

 

 

 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Night Awakenings - Spiritual

Okay everyone, I'm back up on the blog! If you see a large time gap, that's as a result of me doing some "cleaning" and those entries are now reserved for a book project.  Please feel free to follow me if you are in Blogland and read what speaks to you.  New format in my titling is - "Topic " and then I will place the "category" after a dash (e.g. Night Awakenings-Faith).  This blog is a full view of my heart and life, the good, the bad and the funny. Lots to get out there quickly so bear with me! Sometimes it will be, Family, sometimes, Funny, Food or Faith...

NIGHT AWAKENINGS

It is no secret that in my walk as a Christian woman, where admittedly I've detoured and fallen off of the path many times, I have experienced some very scary spiritual warfare, that's another blog and and book in itself but I will share what I have studied, Godly and worldly to reach some conclusions.

At the start of my struggles , I felt "haunted" like in the movies, creepy, haunted.  So not to freak everybody out right away out of the blogging gates sabbatical, I'll leave it at that, (but if you ever wish to know just ask me and I'm happy to share.) To lay the background for the point of this message,  I can tell you that I was a brand new, born- again Christian, hot on the heels of being a bad,bad girl as most "Catholic school girls" become. Yes, we're talking Billy Joel's "only the good die young" stuff... (I'm kidding , sort of lol, don't message me about that.) I was also in a terrible marriage.  Needless to say I was comfortable in the "baby" Bible verses, those that are sunshine, love and light ,and uplifting and encouraging. All things that are characteristics of G-d. (Having a diverse audience, I do not fully write His name out of respect for my Jewish friends and their faith that they share with my Savior, Jesus).  So I was fulfilled by, as I learned to refer to them as "the milk" verses :

1 Peter 2:2 NIV "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.."

G-d is so good to give us such hope and an actual guide to living in the Bible, but sometimes we stop at the sweet, digestible "milk" verses and never experience the full spectrum and endless names of G-d.  There are those names and verses that like a newborn's milk, offer a feeling of fullness and comfort. Those like El Roi (Hagar's God -the "G-d Who Sees Me"), Emmanuel (G-d With Us) the many Jehovahs. I encourage everyone to at some point to read Praying the Names of G-d by Ann Spangler,  if they feel called to more on this topic .



 But the Bible tells us that there are "meatier" and grittier verses to come, those that introduce other facets of G-d like,  Shopath (G-d the Judge), seriously, the phrase the "wrath of G-d" didn't come from nowhere.  They are harder to swallow so to speak because they usually require something of us, and I've found it's usually something we don't want to give !:

1 Corinthians 3:2
"I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready."




So, I dove in and did numerous Bible studies independently and through my church.  I sought and sought and in the interim dissolved that marriage and then began studying marriage and relationships from G-d's view, I didn't know much but I did know I tried it my way and that didn't work well for me. And then the war for my soul ensued. And I mean war. Seriously, movie worthy. I am convinced that when you are on the verge of making a commitment to a life with G-d, Satan and his fallen angels make a huge somewhat "final attempt" (although we know they never quit ) to keep you in their darkness.  And if you don't believe in Satan and his demons, his battle is half won.  One of my favorite movies The Usual Suspects has a great rendition of a historical quote "The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." Rest assured I learned the hard way and I learned much about spiritual curses and gifts that I have been given by G-d. 

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)
"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

This is a tough concept, especially when people hurt us or just flat out getting on our nerves. (HUGE EXHALE). So now that the foundation has been laid there is this: hearing G-d, step one, and obeying him , a huge and difficult step 2.

I've been listening to so many people especially lately and in the midst of struggles, state that they cannot sleep or that they are awakened in the wee hours of morning and oddly , at the same times every morning it occurs.  I am very familiar with this especially in difficult times, mine is 3 a.m. and I get these uneasy feelings followed by a release.  I was intrigued when I found this outline of the basis of beliefs from the Agapegeek Blog, one I will faithfully now follow.  (Agape btw- is Greek for love- but G-d's love) Full blog

"
  1. All beliefs are based upon human ignorance (limited knowledge) of the subject under discussion.
  2. Many beliefs originate from the teachings from parents, schools, churches, religions, governments, friends, books or other influences.
  3. Many beliefs are based upon rumors or speculation overheard, yet un-provable.
  4. Many beliefs are from personal life experiences without knowing all of the facts.
  5. Other beliefs come from the observed life experiences of others in our culture and our world also without understanding all of the facts.
  6. Beliefs can be influenced by a thought of our mind, originating from either our own spirit or from an influential spirit either demonic or angelic.
  7. Finally our beliefs can come from hearing from the Spirit of God in our spirit.
 I'm focusing on points 6 and 7, as those are the ones that have been tried and true for me and so many truly blessed people I know. 

If you are awakened frequently at night there are a number of theories you can access to attribute the behavior. Eastern and even some Western medicine will tell you it may be the Chi, and certain meridians and organs anguishing or rejuvenating and healing, or chemical fluctuations. And this will be a personal thing for you reading this, what you believe but I introduce the concept of the "Witching Hour" or the "Devil's Hour".


The pagan and Christian views acknowledge the time to be approximately 3-4 a.m.from different historical basis but in my research I've noticed they may be stating the same thing but with opposing opinions on solutions.  Pagans believe that the Witching Hour (midnight to 3 a.m. ) is a time where we are to be in deepest sleep and the most vulnerable and impressionable state for the "spiritual realm" to gain access to us.  In essence, they have a captive audience.  Conversely and similarly, the Christian "Devil's Hour" is based on the foundation that Jesus likely died at 3 in the afternoon and the Devil's works are to be found opposing all works of G-d and Jesus, so the opposite of 3pm is 3a.m (debatable, but angels and demons regardless are a "spiritual realm".and G-d is supernatural)..... All clear as mud. While I do not usually place a ton of emphasis on Biblical numerology (e.g. 7 being God's number of perfection and divinity and 666 being the number for the anti-Christ), 3 , which is the time I've personally experienced and been hearing the most, indicates completion and perfection ,like the holy Trinity.

There is good and evil, and like the Book of Job, both are able to access your heart, soul and mind. So there's a choice. I'm not saying G-d is going to grant everyone the gift of prophesy because they wake up at 3 a.m., (although that's when I'm given a great deal of "supernatural clarity" that wouldn't happen in my normally clamorous and crazy daily life ). But I am saying it's worth you considering that G-d is speaking to you and challenging you to think outside of the points 1 through 5 listed above and those that oppose him.  Maybe He's inviting you to try His still, and small voice for peace and direction in life. So at 3 a.m. when sleep evades me, I now reach for my devotionals and pray , and more importantly...LISTEN. In times of fear and uneasiness I love this verse, and if I'd ever consider getting a tattoo (which I would NOT  lol ) I would choose this to be it:

Ephesians 6:10-18 (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Emphasis and simplification mine ..." Be strong IN THE LORD, stand firm in TRUTH and RIGHTEOUSNESS as outlined in the GOSPEL. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit , which is the word of who? GOD. SO THAT YOU CAN TAKE YOUR STAND AGAINST THE DEVIL'S SCHEMES."