Monday, November 29, 2010

Our season of thanksgiving...

After a quick run of the flu bug, I found myself soaking in the shower this morning, thankful for being on the mend. I began mulling over things, the state of my heart, Darcy's heart, all that we've shared with one another lately and with God, the prayer journals, the conversations, the quiet moments...and I asked, "How do we pull our thoughts out of a rut?" Our minds can be our worst enemy where negativity stews and plants fear, doubt, worry, anger, discontentment and lies. I know we must go to Him, but I felt Him prying, "Go to me with what?"
And He quietly answered, "with thanksgiving."
As I am washing away the soap suds and worries of my day, these words whispered from my heart and took form onto page, despite wet dripping hair, water-wrinkled fingertips, and the confinement of my small little bathroom. Regardless, He speaks. He moves. He's here.

Never before has the wait seemed so long,
and the road neverending.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Never before has the storm felt so close,
and the waves nearly crushing.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Never before have the trials piled so high,
as building blocks trying to place a faux wall between us and our God.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Never before has truth been slightly and subtly twisted,
causing confusion and doubt to take bitter root.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Never before have we sought You and Your Word,
as our daily sustenance and the very air that we breathe.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Never before has our dependence been so mighty,
as we cling to Your promises and all that You are.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Never before has our marriage been so cherished,
or the laughter of our children so treasured.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Never before have our perspectives been shaken,
as we strive to take on Your lens through this life.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

When all could be viewed as a season of drought,
an aimless wandering in the desert,
we are declaring this our season of thanksgiving.

Hope. It's in You.
Our wait. Is on You.
Our lives. Placed in Your hands.
Do what You will.
Shape. Mold. Refine.
This is our season of thanksgiving.

Friends of mine, in my moments of complaint or discontent, if and when you catch me without a thankful heart or focus, pull me back to the truth and challenge my perspective please...That I may keep my eyes on the prize of Jesus. It's easy to give thanks when life is good. The challenge comes when life is hard.

"Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
~I Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, November 15, 2010

Is this my destination?

My daughter Brooke, bless her heart, has been determined to have a playdate with her new kindergarten BFF. This new beloved friend is named Sarah and Brooke has been talking about her since the first week of school. Since I did not have Sarah's phone # to call her mom to arrange a playdate, Brooke took it upon herself to draw Sarah a map to our house.
(see below)
And then she says, "I don't know if her house is far away, but I think this will be enough to get her here."
(is that not the sweetest?)

As I am folding my 3rd load of laundry at 9:30pm tonight, exhausted...I think to myself, "I wish it were that easy. I wish we could just simply draw up a map to get to our destination." Because, I'm not even sure what my earthly destination looks like. Based on today, it is paying many bills on a tight budget, cleaning, cooking, doing the dishes, doing the laundry, folding the laundry, doing homework with Brooke with a one year old crying at my feet, doing homework with Brayden in his room as Brooke dances around singing in the background causing innocent distraction and the baby rifles through his drawers throwing clean folded clothes onto the floor and finding every small lego possible to put in her mouth. Play time. Bath time. Story time. Bed time. More dishes. More laundry. Straighten the house. All I want to do is take a hot bath, read, relax, rest. Is this my destination? Can't I just redraw it with an easy road to lead the way? There are days, like today, that I just wish I knew what lied ahead. I wish I could map out my world to find my own destination.
Like my daughter's penciled road...mine is long and narrow and winding.
And sometimes the wait seems just the same.
I've tossed this question around in my head all night... "What is my destination Lord? Is this it?"
And I kid you not, as I am typing away here, I glance right in front of me at a paperweight that used to sit on my husband's desk.
It reads, "The man who walks with God always gets to his destination."
It's as simple as that.
Really it is.

Finding comfort in that still small voice, even in my "calgon" moments.
(can you tell I didn't get my quiet time this morning? i'm a lost and desperately dependent soul)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Compassion overflows...

2 years ago today I found out I was having a miscarriage. God took me on quite a journey and held me in the palm of His hand...speaking to me gently, and comforting emotions I wasn't prepared to feel or deal with during this time. He revealed a lot of Himself to me and taught me valuable lessons on the preciousness of life...even in its smallest form. For this I am eternally grateful. I wouldn't trade this experience in, as dark and painful and lonely as it seemed to be. For He is good and wise and merciful. His compassion overflows, and He makes all things new.

For about a year now I have been feeling led to sponsor a child who shares the same birthdate as the day the life inside of me was lost on earth but gained in heaven. I've browsed the Compassion International website in the past, and found myself doing this again this week...knowing the anniversary of this occasion was just around the corner.
I looked at several photos and read a few biographies, wondering how would I ever be able to choose just one child. How would I know who to choose? And then I found her
and compassion overflowed.

Upendo Hussen Lukavi
born November 12, 2002
7 years old
lives in Tanzania.
in an AIDS affected area.
As I was looking at her bio, I instantly became overwhelmed with emotion. "For fun, she enjoys rolling a hoop, playing house and art." I wept. I called Darcy. I knew that this was the child God wanted us to sponsor. So, we signed her up. Hoping she receives word of this on or around her birthday, and that it brings her joy. Longing to tell her how special and loved she precious and important and known she is to God.

Romans 8:28 says that, "And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." I see His hand in this circumstance, doing just that. (Romans 8:26-28 from The Message) states:

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

(I love the irony in the terminology, "knows our pregnant condition." While not to be taken literally, this spoke to me, especially in regards to my story. He knows and cares about every detail. He and His sovereignty lead us to and through.)

Later in the day (after we singed up for sponsorship), I received a call from my husband. He says, "Honey, you know how your name means 'Worthy of love?'...Well, I looked up Upendo's name. In Swahili it means 'LOVE'. I thought you'd like to know that." My heart swelled. I tucked this away as treasure, and each time I think or say her name, my heart flutters and smiles at the thought. My soul says "Sijambo" (Swahili for "I am fine.") Whatever circumstance life brings me, it is well with my soul for I am trusting in a mightily sovereign God. I will never be forgotten or forsaken. The compassion He spilled out on me has overflown this heart of mine leaving plenty of compassion for me to return.

I did this for Upendo. I did this for me. Where a life was lost, new hope for life continues. It's a place where hope and healing have intertwined and where God brings beauty out of ashes and turns mourning into gladness.

Humbly overwhelmed by Him,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

what a teaser...

a friend of mine made note that out of all the photos i had posted of darc and i together, we were lunging in for the kiss but never showed a pic of the actual a big ol' tease!
well friend, we weren't teasin'!
there were a whole lotta smooches goin on.
here's one that must have been overlooked.
nothin' like some good ol' nose to nose lovin'.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I love "just because"

This post doesn't call for many's "just because."
Earlier this week Brooke and I both received flowers from Daddy,
just because.
Last night Darcy and I had a date night and spent the whole time talking, catching up, connecting and sharing life,
just because.
And a couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I asked his dad to take some photos of the two of us together,
just because.

At our church, we are in the middle of a sermon series on
the 10 Commandments.
Todays' sermon was on the commandment,
"Though shall not commit adultery."
It was a great message and left me feeling very thankful for my husband, for our marriage and for our life together.

When you spend it with the one you love, your best friend,
there is nothing mundane about it.

Makes the moments all the more grander, all the more cherished, all the more blessed...
just because.

Friday, November 5, 2010

I LOVE my JewelKade!

Oh, I can't say enough about how much I love my JewelKade!
It all started back in March when my sister introduced me to this jewelry. My very first piece was this necklace below that I ordered and received in April and held onto until Mother's Day in May (that was hard). I wear it all the time.
And since April, I had been trying to host a JewelKade party and wasn't able to coordinate a good date until a couple of weeks ago. It was so much fun! (Like dress-up for grown-up girls!) And I got a lot of free jewelry out of it as well that just arrived yesterday! This jewelry is so unique and fun and modern yet also a touch vintage-y with some pieces. It's all handcrafted and pictures don't even do it justice.
Anyways, my very beautiful and fun stylist, Holli Buss, who did my party 2 weeks ago, wanted everyone who ordered jewelry to take a few shots of themselves wearing it and submit it to her for some contest on her website (Hence the photos below). I am certainly no model and get camera shy when I know the lens is on just me...turning me into a giggly dork, so please pay closer attention to the jewelry I am wearing and not the wearer of it :)

Since I first laid eyes on JewelKade I have loved this ferris wheel charm. (click on above or below photos for closer view). I was drawn to it...perhaps for it's whimsical depiction or that it spoke of pure wonderment. It made me think of how our lives are full of such wonder...
we may not always have a birds-eye view, and we may not always see the big picture from the top, but we can be certain that God is in control and as a very wise person once quoted, "Our lives with Christ were meant to be nothing less than the great adventure."
(my "free" bracelet for hosting)
And I ordered Brookie this necklace, like mine, with her name engraved and a crown charm.
I bought it for her to give to her for Christmas, but just couldn't wait. She was so excited about my new jewelry and was disappointed that she didn't receive anything (she was at the party trying things on). I was so excited to give it to her last night. Besides, I didn't want it to lose it's meaning of importance when opened next to toys and games on Christmas morning.
She was thrilled. The crown is to remind her that she is "daughter of the King." She is heir to a heavenly throne, and will always be a princess
(her daddy's and God's).
I could have so easily signed up to become a stylist to sell this jewelry. I am sold on it. However, this isn't the season in life for me to be taking on an adventure like that (as much as I desired to). If you are not a JewelKade fan yet, hop on board! There are more shows coming up in the near future. A little fun and whimsy never hurt anyone. You will LOVE it!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

worth the wait...

My thoughts right now are a bit jumbled, so I beg for your grace as I pen my unorganized heart onto this page. 5 loads of dirty laundry await me as well as a clock that is ticking minutes away before my one year old awakes and I lose the opportunity to write this post.

I woke up early this morning to spend a little quiet time with God and to finish up this week's Bible study lesson. I can't help but marvel at the way God speaks to me through the pages of a Bible study that was written years ago, and through the lives of Biblical characters generations ago...with such divine relevancy. I love how lessons I am beginning to learn and truths I am discovering and embracing on my own, in my "now," are reinforced and cemented moments, days, and weeks later through the people and things the LORD places before me. He knows what He is doing. I see the pieces of the puzzle come together...."A-ha" moments.
I serve a very wise God.

We've been studying the life of Joseph and how he was betrayed, deceived, wrongfully accused and imprisoned for two full years and how agonizing the wait must have been for him. One of the questions asked us to reflect on an occasion in our own lives in which we have had to wait on something that we feel has great significance for our future. The waiting mode can be taxing, exhausting and wearisome. I've been there. I'm there. Just recently, as described a couple of posts ago, the LORD has freed me from some of the burdens I was focusing on while in my own "waiting mode." It's been liberating.

We dove into the importance of the "wait" and how we are not forgotten....How we must often be humbled and taken into low positions before being exalted and lifted into places of high position. How during these times the LORD is molding us and preparing us for our destiny. Beth Moore writes:
"Sometimes we can be so busy looking for what is missing in our lives that we miss Who is busily present in our lives. We're looking for God to do us future favors when He's trying to open up our eyes to present ones. Remember, God purposes to use every second of a divinely-ordained wait to build us into the individuals our future demands we be. One most peculiar and exquisite experience of the faith is realizing that while you haven't seen the answers or the way you should take, you've learned to see the light of God Himself. Right there in the blindness of your circumstances."

I have been learning this daily...understanding my need and the importance of seeking Him alone above what He can offer. Oh yes, He is unmistakably my "more than enough."

As I am processing all that's been happening along my journey, where I've gone wrong, how much time I've wasted...I think to myself, how often do we shape and mold and try to create masterpieces of our own lives? How often do we try to play the role of "Potter." We sell ourselves, put our unfinished selves out there on the sales rack waiting for that miraculous moment when the waiting ceases, the trials are just a glance in our rearview mirrors, and our destiny has been fulfilled. But then often find that in our unpolished, unrefined form, the wait continues. The blessing, the destiny or "place" we thought we'd be in life has not arrived. We feel our shelf-life has already expired and that life has window-shopped right by us because we rushed, took control, and tried to force the Potter into completion.

Day by day I am learning that in many ways, it is more about the wait...the journey...the shaping and molding that so necessarily takes place. A lesson I re-learn over and over again. I'm learning that much of life is about choice and discipline and submission matched by an astounding amount of free-flowing grace. That my prayer shouldn't always be about provision, protection, deliverance and blessing but rather about seeking Him alone...about having a teachable spirit that seeks and is receptive to God's molding of me in the present moment. That I live a life in the Spirit, filled by Him, being used by Him, and bringing glory to Him.
Perhaps you find yourself in a "waiting mode" as well...Waiting for that blessing, that answer, for healing, for the hardship to pass, the relationship to be reconciled, the spiritual growth to "happen," or for the mountaintop to appear. Know that He has purpose in your wait. Seek to embrace what He wants you to learn and who He wants you to become during this wait.
My prayer over my family as of late has been just this.
Join me in joyfully and humbly leaning into His faithfulness
and trusting in His sovereignty.
It's worth the wait.
He's worth the wait.
Be strong in the LORD today!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

goofy girl-ordinary day

Here's a glimpse of a very yummy personality. Taken yesterday. Hope it brings a smile.