Monday, February 28, 2011

Intentional

So many times I have so many thoughts and words floating around and have no time to write them down or articulate on them... and then the chance I do have to sit down and write, I'm blank. Why is that? Why can't I remember exactly what I wanted to say? Is there a vitamin for that? Ya know, a little cure all pill that makes me remember everything I wanted to say or wish I would've said? :)
I don't know. Maybe it's best that way... maybe all my thoughts aren't meant to be said out loud. Maybe they are only meant for me.
With all that being said... it really has nothing to do with what I sat here to actually blog about... I have made a commitment. Well, 3 commitments. But they go hand in hand. Continuing with this great book I mentioned before by Lysa Terkeurst (Becoming More Than Just a Good Bible Study Girl), the commitments I have made are these...
1. To not participate in gossip. (HUGE!!!) In that, I am giving anyone full permision to stop me if I slip up on this one because I DO NOT want this to define who I am as a person and most importantly, I do not want to in anyway participate in something that can have any kind of damaging effects on a person.
2. To choose not to judge. As women, we tend to do this, I think, a lot more than men. We so often judge other women to make ourselves feel a little better or judge other women because we only define a woman by our standards, not God's. Truth is, we are all different and that's how it should be. How boring and monotonous would it be to all be the same, think the same, act the same, raise our children the same. Where is the fun in that? If we, as women could accept each other for who we are and not judge each other for who we are not, how much more effective could we be as mothers, wives and friends. If we would lift up each other and help each other out when we see hurting or needs, God's love would shine so much brighter in us.
3. To be secure in my own unique calling. This is a big time struggle for me. I so often catch myself thinking "___ is a much better mom than I am. She can clean her house, take care of her kids, blog with ease, find time for herself. She has this awesome relationship with God and is working at the Church..." You get the idea. God does not want me to sit here and think of how great others are while in the process of doing it I put myself down for not measuring up to them. My calling is different, unique and He intended it to be that way.
So, want to join me? I bet if we were intentional about these things (and I'm not saying that we all go around and do these things every minute), but if we were truly intentional about these things friendships would grow deeper, lives would be changed and God's heart would shine through us. Our marriages would be stronger and our children would be more secure because we are more secure and not focused on what others are doing or what they have, but focused on God and His love for them and who He has created them to be. If we take a step back and ask God to show us His love and how to represent His love to them, the possibilities are endless. The sad thing to me is that these things are so simple and yet so hard because the society we live in feeds us the negativity and shows us what we don't have, instead of what we do have. That is why we must be intentional. For me, the first step to being intentional is voicing it. So that's what I have done, for all the blogger world to see... my 3 commitments!
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Ephesians 4:29

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Caring, Joyful, Transparent Fellowship

So I am reading and studying a book by Lysa Terkeurst called Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl. And one of the ways you are to use to become more than just a good Bible study girl is actually studying the Bible.
I've always been one of those people that needed a devotional to even know where to start "studying the Bible", but even after the devotional I still felt empty because I didn't feel like I "studied the Bible". I moreso just read what some one else said about the Bible. But in this book, Lysa encourages you to really study the Bible, not just some one else's words. Don't get me wrong, devotionals are great and I plan to continue to read one, but I want MORE. I want God's Word truly hidden in my heart and the only way to do that is to read it myself and gather it all in my thoughts.
With all that being said, I've decided to start reading in Acts. I read the first two chapters of Acts and these verses were what stood out to me...
"All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possesions to give to anyone who had need... and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people." Acts 2:44-45, 46b-47a
What a powerful statement of the early Church... all believers were together and everything in common. We as a church need to come together so that we can have a positive effect on non-believers. We need to be examples, to be a light in their darkness, drawing them to God and giving them a deep desire or draw to want what we have. Like a moth to a flame. We are called here to voluntarily share and provide for those who cannot provide for themselves as well.
Glad and sincere hearts ~ demonstrating the fruits of the Spirit, in this instance, joy (the constant mood of the believer)
I love how one commentary described joy - The consistent consequence of conversion, regardless of circumstances. We have no choice, but to be filled with joy. That is our consequence of being saved. What an awesome consequence!! And I think this is something that is so often forgotten.
Luke called the early Church to 4 commitments ~
*to learn - to acquire knowledge of or skill in by study, to become acquainted with, to memorize (ding, ding, ding), to gain by experience, exposure to example (a habit or mannerism)
we should always be learning, memorizing, meditating God's Word. there is always something new to gain wisdom on.
*to care - to make provision or look out for, to have a liking, fondness, or affection, to feel concern about
we should not ignore those around us. we should constantly be reaching out to them, helping them.
*to fellowship - friendly, relationship; companionship, friendliness
we are called to do more than just interact with others. we are called to love them, have relationships with them, really know them. be genuine, friendly, kind.
*to worship - an adoring reverence or regard to our God (reverence as in an attitude of deep respect tinged with awe, an overwhelming feeling)
we were made to worship. we were made to live in a constant attitude of worship. this doesn't mean going about out days singing away, but living with the knowing that God is always with us, that He created us and everything around us and how grateful we are for that.
With those 4 things in mind... my favorite commentaries/quotes that I came across today were these...
"...what we do or do not do with our material possessions is an indicator of the Spirit's presence or absence." - Krodel
"With constant intimacy, exultant joy and transparency of relationship they (the early church) enjoyed the graces of Messiah's salvation in a true anticipation of his banquet in the kingdom." - IVP New Testamen Commentaries

What a call to action... to live by the early church. If we would take these things and really apply them think of the possibilities the church today could accomplish. Even if just one person lived by this, the effects would be so great. This is to truly live like Jesus and challenge to all. A challenge that I am accepting because I'm tired of living life just going through the motions. I want to live the life Jesus called me to be and I think the first step is learning to be more than just a good Bible study girl! :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

For I know the plans...

Jeremiah 29:11-14a "For I know the plans I have for you,"declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek my with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you bring back from captivity."

I have heard that first declaration so many times before. It is said when babies are born. It is quoted when some one is needing to make a huge decision. It is said when doubts are running rampant in one's mind. It is said to bring encouragement or to brighten some one's day.

But it's the rest of the verses... those, not that I can recall or remember, have I heard before. And if I had heard them before, they didn't make the impact on me then like they are now.

Yes, I know He has a plan for me. Yes, I know they are for my good and not to harm me. And yes, I know that hope arises within me from that plan He has for me and that plan already knows my future.

Did I know that in order for this to happen I am to call on Him? Yes. ...that I am to pray to him? Yes. ... that He will listen? Yes. But putting two and two together tonight, I am getting it so much clearer tonight. In order for those plans to be fulfilled, for Him to truly do His work in me and prosper me... to see the hope and the future that awaits me... I MUST call on Him. I must pray to Him, CRY OUT to Him. I MUST seek Him, seek Him with ALL my heart.

What does that mean? How do I seek Him with all my heart? How do I burn for Him? How do I get to a place where I am fully aware that every breath I take depends on Him?

I have been questioning so much lately. Why do I believe what I believe? Can I even defend my faith if it really came down to it? Is my faith even real? After all the bible studies and all the classes, all the Alpha sessions and Sundays at Church, am I really any more dependent on God than I was 10 years ago, or even a year ago? What does all that mean? All that stuff. How can you go through all of that and somehow still feel empty? Because having a relationship with Jesus doesn't depend on those alone. Yes, they are good and necessary, but a true relationship with Jesus means that I must call on Him. I must seek Him out with ALL my heart. And I have struggled with this my whole life. I have kept Him at arms length for so many years... allowing Him to come in close enough only when I feel comfortable, when I am "at my best." And sometimes I let Him in when I need something too. But seeking Him with ALL my heart requires much more than that. It requires me to become vulnerable and open in a way I never have been before. It requires me to allow Him to see me for who I really am and know that no matter what He sees or who I really am, He still loves me and cherishes me and calls me his daughter. And no amount of questions or ramblings or theories or doubts will ever change that.

In this season of my life I want to figure out my faith. I want to boldly declare what I believe and why I believe it and I want to be able to defend it without any doubt in my mind. So as I go through this I welcome the questions and the doubts because if I don't sort through them now I'm not sure I can ever defend my faith without "a shadow of a doubt".

Bottom line is :

God, I want to see you.
God, I want to hear you.
God, I want to know you.
So that I can follow hard after you every day! (Prayer from Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow Day


Just a few pictures of the kids playing in the snow...


This was Elaina's first time in the snow and the census is... SHE LOVED IT!


Taryn and Daddy made this snowman with the neat snowman kit MawMaw got us for Christmas... (snow not included)





Snow Angels! Mason couldn't wait to make one... he has been talking about it for weeks. Every time it snows he mentions a snow angel!

















Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Day, A New Year

As one year comes to an end and a new one begins we always tend to look back and think of things we would've done differently. And with those things come resolutions for the new year, in which we all know how well they turn out. But even though the statistics state that New Year's resolutions are highly unlikely to ever stick with us, we still set them. Maybe we don't proclaim it to the world like we once did, but quietly we make those resolutions to ourselves.
This got me thinking... if I quietly made my resolutions and told nary a soul then would I really give myself a fighting chance of keeping them? Because if no one knew that I made them, then no one would ever know if I never kept them either. So with all those ramblings being said, without further ado, here is my list of resolutions...

1. Memorize two scriptures a month.
I am following Beth Moore's LPM blog. She has put together the "Siesta Scripture Memory Team". It's a bunch (and I do mean bunches and bunches) of women who post their verse twice a month, on a day that Beth sets aside for just that. You are to write your verses in a small 3x5 spiral and carry it with you wherever you go. You can pick whatever verse you would like to memorize. My first verse for the year is "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are MINE!" Isaiah 43:1 NASB (emphasis added)

2. Improve my prayer life. I haven't quite figured this out yet. My first step is to just more freely talk to God, which I have always struggled with out loud by myself. I have never had trouble talking to myself loudly, but for some reason feel very strange talking to God loudly. I would like to feel more comfortable doing that and the only way to feel more comfortable in doing something is to do it more often.

3. This one is not really a resolution... but I have given up Bejeweled Blitz on facebook. It has taken too much of my time unsuspectingly. And I can think of many other better things to do that play that game. Although, it's only been three days and I'm going through withdrawal already!

4. More quality time with my kids! I don't think that needs an explanation.

I have been very sporadic in my blog writing for the past year so I'm not sure if anyone reads this anymore, but if you do let me hear your thoughts on resolutions!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Serious Reminder

This is what I found this morning... Elaina had found the playdough and crumbled it into hundreds of tiny pieces and was playing with it just like that. And then I found her and realized just what game she was playing with the playdough.
If you look closely, you can see the playdough in the tractor, taking a ride. And with a face like that, I can't be mad. It's only a rug and the vacuum did a great job sucking all that up. Although, we now have no playdough, which does not break my heart!
Today I was reminded, in a way that I wish wouldn't have been, that these lives God has blessed with me are not really mine. They are His. And all the little things don't matter. Why get upset over things so silly, so not worth it... things that other families cannot have anymore because those little lives have been taken from them all too soon.
A dear friend of mine lost her niece yesterday. She was Elaina's age. They were in the same class at church. It hit me hard and I my heart just aches for my friend and her family. All day I just watched Elaina as she went about her little activities and soaked it all in. I did that with all the kids. At one moment in the day I was holding my "Kenna Paige" (as we call her around here) and this overwhelming feeling came over me and I told her very adamently that I would not outlive my children. But the fact is, I don't know that. And can proclaim it every day, but it doesn't change any outcome. With all those feelings fear could have easily swept in, but one thing I do know is that God can take any circumstance and use it for His good. I will never understand how a life lived so short can be taken away so suddenly, but I can trust in His mercy that He will see those left behind through. And I can hold onto the certainty that we will see those we have lost very soon and in a place we can't even imagine.
After dealing with a close personal death of my own at 17, Mercy Me's song came out... I Can Only Imagine. The words from that song helped me through a really rough time and to this day when I hear that song it takes me back and I still cry, but I know now and I see now all the good He has done through that tragedy.
I can only imagine when that day comes
when I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine when all I can do
is forever, forever worship you
I can only imagine


Surrounded by Your glory,
what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus
Or in awe of you be still
Will I sing in your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I take this task very seriously. The task of raising my 4 kiddos in His light. And each day I pray that I will remember that this is His plan for my life right now, at this moment and that every mess, every broken lamp, every stained couch, every scream or temper tantrum is only this moment. And how I react is shaping and molding them. I want to be able to say that I have no regrets. However long I am blessed with being their mother, I want to know that I didn't shush them while I was on the computer or tell them to wait the phone rang... I pray that I will recognize these things in myself and stop them immediately.
And I will cherish every season, every moment, the good and the not so good.
My brother sent this quote to me this morning and I thought it was a great saying to say each morning...
"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company… a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our Attitudes."
~ Charles Swindoll
We can control our attitudes and there are way too many times that I have let it get the best of me and I have failed miserably. Thank you God for your grace. Your mercy is new every morning!


Monday, March 29, 2010

Keira Lynn

I have had the privilege of photographing this adorable little girl since she was born. She is the daughter of some good friends of ours... Her daddy has been Aaron's friend since they were 5 (or close to it).
It's fun to watch the relationship forming between her and Elaina as well. They are about 6 months apart and are just starting to interact with each other.
This was probably the best photo shoot with her yet. She is a natural and gave me all kinds of great stuff to work with!

This picture above is my favorite by far! There is just something about her expression and the way she is looking. I don't know. It melts my heart.


(One more day until settlement... I will be posting pics of the new place very soon!)