Thursday, December 25, 2008

"I want MORE!"


So today is Christmas and I realized that I am not as far ahead of my five year old as I would have hoped. Waking while it was still dark, I had to sneak down and see the children's delight at their stockings. Not long after, they opened gifts from Santa, mom and dad, bill's parents and a couple of friends. They couldn't wait to go to my parents house to have "presents" there too; along with Christmas dinner, of course. After all the gifts had long been opened, my youngest boy, Benjamin, said matter-of-factly, "I want to open MORE presents...." I was wondering at that point what I had done wrong? How have I failed as a parent? Christmas isn't about greedy "getting and getting and getting!" He has been told. And so have I. I am embarassed to admit that not 20 minutes earlier had I confessed to my mom in the kitchen that I had "hoped" she would have "surprised" me with that one sweater.....just one "MORE" thing.........I realized that Benjamin and I suffer from the same sickness. The wanting more instead of having a thankful spirit must be a generational thing. However, I intend to talk to him about it tomorrow and for myself, to move on from the wanting and embrace what I have. My Jesus IS all I need and when it comes down to it, as it should be, relating ONLY TO JESUS, "I want MORE!" Praise be to God that He would see to changing our selfish hearts, weather at five or almost thirty five! Sixty five too? Let it be, Lord!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One Word

"hello"
what could it hold?
hope
"hello"
forgiveness of betrayal
restoration and peace
It would bring blessing
healing
"hello"
it would mean the debt is cancelled
it would mean inheritance restored
assurance, unity and strength
unleashing bitterness
tearing down the walls
embracing the pain
true love
dying to self
vulnerability
risking it all
surrender
giving Jesus the victory
Christlikeness
for my sin is cancelled
my debt is paid
I am forgiven
restored
embraced
I know approval
I know grace
I know redeeming love
"hello"
what would it mean?
to one, everything.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Freedom to LIVE!

Through the fall, I have been reading The Search For Significance by Robert S. McGee; fittingly subtitled, "Seeing your True Worth through God's Eyes." I have had many opportunities to put this material to good use. Most recently, I have been processing my family dynamics and relationships. What I have found is that we learn more about God's supremacy through experiencing people's shortcomings. How would we really know that God is everything we need if we were never in a "seeking but coming up short" position? McGee asserts that "all intimacy in a relationship comes from communicating our feelings to one another;" I might have to agree. God wants our hearts. He desires to know our feelings. He wants us to crawl up into his "Daddy lap" and tell him our desires, hopes, fears, dreams. He cares how we feel. Yet, he is beyond our feelings. He made us. He knows how we feel before we tell him. He knows our needs. He is with us in every joy and struggle.
Yesterday I watched my youngest brother accept his penalty for his third DUI. He was sentenced to 6 months in prison, a heavier consequence than we had expected. All he could do was receive this judgment and express his remorse over what he had done. Then, in to the handcuffs and on to a different sort of life than any of us ever hope to experience.
At bedtime last night, my youngest boy asked a thought-provoking question. While discussing how everything costs money; we have to pay for the house, the car, our food and clothes, etc, Benjamin asked "Did anybody pay for me?" "Well, yes," I said, "Jesus did." He inquired, "How, mom? With money?" I explained. "Jesus paid for you with his blood. God's justice required somebody perfect to die to pay for the sins of fallen man, and Jesus was the only one that could pay the price.....and he did it, for me, for you, to pay for us." Jesus' death bought us eternal life in Heaven with God the Father, but not only that. Jesus' death brought us freedom. SO MUCH FREEDOM! Even for somebody behind bars.
The freedom that Jesus brought to believers through his death is the freedom discussed in The Search For Significance. It's freedom from the condemnation that we want to place on ourselves for not measuring up to our own expectations. It's freedom from the judgment that we feel when we think we don't measure up to what others think we ought to be. It's freedom to live for an audience of ONE! This freedom is beyond human comprehension. I think it will take a lifetime to embrace and then we still won't fully understand it until we see our Savior face to face.
This freedom enables the believer to stand in a storm.
It empowers us to embrace suffering, trusting the ONE who sent the struggle.
It inspires us to live for eternity, and not for this ever-changing temporal world.
It motivates us to make a difference for God's Kingdom, working hard to reap a harvest of righteousness.
It gives us strength to keep doing the right thing, even when we are tired and feel we can't anymore.
It gives us hope.
The Freedom we have is Christ Himself. He is Freedom. He is life. He is life to the full. He is everything we will ever need. We just need to see Him as He is.
Can a 26 year old see Him in a prison cell for 6 months?
Can a five year old see Him and glimpse his glorious plan for mankind?
Can a lonely single see Him and find hope for new life?
How about a stressed-out businessman, or a frazzled housewife? A farmer? A computer tech? A divorcee? An orphan or widow? A prostitute? The mailman? The check-out guy at Costco? The personal trainer? Extended family?
You get my point. ALL need to see Jesus and find the Freedom only HE can bring.
Are we pointing people to Jesus in how we live? Do they see Jesus when they look at our lives? We are Free to embrace his wisdom and power to accomplish His purposes with our lives, will we Choose to Find our Significance in JESUS?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Redeeming Love

Have you read this amazing book by Francine Rivers? Oh my goodness, worth it's weight in gold, and it's a HEAVY one!!!!!!!!! over 500 pages i think.
How can a person's love demonstrate God's love? Soon and Often. If we are truly Christ's ambassadors on earth, this is part of our job description: to make him known. We can magnify him better when we let his goodness and love and "redemption" shine through us. What does this look like? Transformed ideals. Renewed dreams. Hope of Heaven. Prayers for the lost and hurting. Helping the weak. Forgiving our enemies. Overlooking wrongs. Patience. Longsuffering. Not complaining even when we feel justified. Praise. Giving of our lives. Sharing. Reaching out. Putting others' interests before our own. Jesus.
Can we show him off? Can we reflect his beauty to whoever is watching? Are we basking enough in his presence that we soak up some of his glory, so our face shines when we walk away from our meeting with Him? Do we know his desire? Have we asked him His plans for our day? He just might use us to reach someone we would give up on if we walked by them. They look lost. Their situation seems hopeless. They could never change.
Or could they? God has the power. Will we be his vessel? He needs hands and feet and arms and legs and hearts and voices! I am sure that if we are not willing, he will pass by us to the one who is willing, and that one will be most blessed!
Open up your heart and mind and let him love, and live, and give life through you!
His dream and hope and vision for us is much bigger and brighter than we could imagine, but we need to get on his same page and remain available to be used by Him for His kingdom and His glory and our shared pleasure!
Blessed Redeeming!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Amberly's Birthday Party!









Amberly had a Disco Karaoke Birthday Party! We had fun singing songs and celebrating with friends!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

time, where does it go?


why does it seem like the weeks fly by now? The kids are getting bigger and the days are so full. Is it that we are just having so much fun? :) Too busy is more likely the culprit, I'm guessing. I remember a year or two ago hearing a guy from Sunday School class share that his daughter turned nine~he's crossing the half-way mark of raising his girl! I shrugged it off and thought, that's a funny way to look at it. Hmmm. My girl turned nine on Tuesday and guess who's thinking that same thought. I think about seizing the day with my boys also, of course, but for some reason nine years old stikes a chord. It's almost 2 digits. It's old enough to start really thinking about hard things in life, but young enough to still play with dolls....... It's a treasure of an age really. My girl is becoming a woman. She's deciding who she will become. She is deciding who she will be like, who she will follow, and if she will be a leader or follow the crowd. She is discovering her talents and her gifts, but also recognizing weaknesses. She is balancing the weights of inner and outer beauty. She's moving from the realm of mostly home influence to include a lot more peer influence. Where did nine years go?
Where did last week go?
I wonder if too often we busy ourselves with the good and miss out on the best. Do we deal with the urgent and forget to pay attention to the very important? Why do we do this? Are we forgetting to consult our daytimer? Or are we forgetting our priorities? Or have we even had time to list our priorities? Where should we be spending our time? I think it's not a trick question and the answer is easier than we expect. You figure it out.
Just kidding.
I think that God tells us his prescription for life in his word: Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness. (Put God first, spend time with Him, ask His direction and blessing for your day, ask Him to give you his heart, eyes, ears, hands, feet, to do what He would do through you!) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength (Do ALL that you do for the glory of God.......thinking, reading, loving, praying, learning, cleaning, laundry, cooking, teaching, training, helping, fixing, listening, exercising, friending :).........to the GLORY OF GOD!).
Simple enough, but not easy. To make each moment count, we need to find ourselves walking with God through each day, living for his pleasure, knowing he delights in us when we live our lives for him..........enjoying him and thanking him for the good He has placed in our lives........thanking him for the birthdays to celebrate, the homes to clean, the clothes to wash, the cake to bake, the kids to bathe, the husband to love. Life is good.
But when it is not, take heart, God knows.
He has seen suffering. He has endured grief and trials and pain. He knows hurt and loss and despair. He is our true helper in times of need. He has given us EVERYTHING WE NEED to get through any stuggle~ He has given us himself.
Nope, He didn't promise that life would be easy. But, He did promise that He will be with us~ And that's ALL we need.
So, whether the day lingers on or flies by too quickly, what matters is loving God and making our lives an act of worship. Will you join me on this adventure?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

self worth?

where do we get it? do we need it? do we want it?
I believe we find our significance, purpose and value in our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore, yes, we do need it; but the reason that we need it is so that we can live our lives for the glory of God. It's not about how good I feel about me, or how I feel about how someone else thinks about me. It's about who I am in God's eyes, and the difference I am making in the world because He loves me and I love Him! The reason I can make a difference in this world is because of his life in me. His wisdom. His power. Anything good that is in me is because of You, Jesus.......isn't that the truth? We get so caught up in ourselves that we lose sight of Whose we are, which is far more important than "who" we are. We are HIS. Our identity comes from our relationship with Him. This relationship is one of daily walking, conversing, reflecting, communicating, felowshipping. If it's not, you're missing out! The only way any of us can live up to the standard that we would want to keep (being Christlike in our character) is to allow Jesus to dwell in our lives and live his life through us. That's the secret; Christ in you! The Hope of Glory. It's good to know that I don't have to do anything to be worth something in God's eyes. It's all been done. By God Himself. Take a moment and Give God Glory!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

MUSHY KISSES

OH MY GOODNESS! PUCKER UP! :)
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Our Latest Project

We decided to update our kitchen by painting our old oak cabinets. My friend Pernilla came from Orange County for a few days and got us started. She was able to finish off our kitchen island cabinets over a long weekend, so we were inspired to tackle the big job of finishing the rest of the cabinets (20 doors and 8 drawers plus sides and bases and shelves and baseboards, but whos counting?). SO, happy to say, after 2 weeks of tlc and sweat we are nearing the end......just a few more hours of finshing off! I am really loving the new look, so fresh!!!!!! yay! :)

before


after.......


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back to School


Here we are on the first day back to school. We had a breakfast with the families in the cul-de-sac behind our house. That's where the kids get on the bus. They were excited.

august


Meet the Teacher Night! Amberly started 4th grade this year, and Jonah started 1st. Benjamin is going to a "practice" kindergarden year at our Church's preschool.

july-------danville and sacramento


We got to spend time with extended family and friends in the bay area, and we celebrated (early) our 11th anniversary (8-2) with Pat and Jen Philips enjoying a night away in Sacramento.

WHere have we been? june







A busy summer it is true; June and July and August flew



now it's September and it hasn't slowed down,



we are in and out of town..........



here goes our trips this summer:



June trip with Andrea and kids to Orange County to visit the Scotts and

go to DISNEYLAND!!!



What is a Friend?


A friend is someone who knows you, flaws and all, and accepts you, and forgives you, and challenges you to be the woman God created you to be.

A friend is one who prays for you; she prays for God's will to be done in your life. She lifts you up before the throne of grace when your burdens are too heavy to bear.

A friend hugs and smiles and encourages. She celebrates with you and cries with you, and shares your hopes and dreams.

A friend laughs with you and has fun with you and makes happy memories.

A friend sticks by your side through thick and thin. She hurts when you hurt. She shares in your life, whatever is going on.

A friend points you to Jesus. She tells you what you need to hear even if it's not pretty. She speaks truth in love. She shows mercy and compassion. She is kind.

A friend never gives up. She is faithful and patient. She waits on the Lord.

A friend loves at all times.

A friend is a gift from God.

Thank you God, for my special friends.

Let me be the friend to others that you have made me to be.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mom and Jonah

Jonah's 7th Birthday Party! We had such a fun party at Jeepers, an indoor amusement park. Jonah was glowing, he was so thrilled at all the fun and friends and cake and presents! Such a sweet boy! He and I are heading up to Anacortes, Wa, next Saturday to visit Liz and family. This is a special mom/son trip and I am looking forward to our one on one time together! Seven, what a fun age!
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Haircut



Benjamin discovered a new way to get a haircut and not get any hair in his eyes!

Blogging Trouble

Trouble trouble trouble! How come it's taken so long for me to blog? On top of all the business in my life, my blogger account wouldn't let me log on.....So, I promise you, since i can get on again now, i will start blogging again, just as soon as.........
I help the kids with homework,
clean the kitchen,
help Cody paint the cabinets,
reorganize my closet,
make some dinner,
email my bible study group,
plan Jonah's birthday party,
do the laundry.......
and that's just before bedtime!
Hope to get on again soon~

Friday, July 11, 2008

Suffering~ Thoughts to Ponder--by C.H. Spurgeon

This excerpt from Morning & Evening Daily Readings by C.H. Spurgeon struck a cord and a nerve with me, I think! Its something to read carefully and probably read again and again. I've gotten different insight from it each time that I read it. Enjoy; and be challenged!

'If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him' 2 Timothy 2:12
We must not imagine that we are suffering for Christ, and with Christ, if we are not in Christ. Beloved friend, are you trusting to Jesus only? If not, whatever you may have to mourn over on earth, you are not ‘suffering with Christ’, and have no hope of reigning with Him in heaven. Neither are we to conclude that all a Christian’s sufferings are sufferings with Christ, for it is essential that he be called by God to suffer. If we are rash and imprudent, and run into positions for which neither providence nor grace has fitted us, we ought to question whether we are not rather sinning than communing with Jesus. If we let passion take the place of judgment, and self-will reign instead of Scriptural authority, we shall fight the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons, and if we cut our own fingers we must not be surprised. Again, in troubles which come upon us as the result of sin, we must not dream we are suffering with Christ. When Miriam spoke evil of Moses, and the leprosy polluted her, she was not suffering for God. Moreover, suffering which God accepts must have God’s glory as its end. If I suffer that I may earn a name, or win applause, I shall get no other reward than that of the Pharisee. It is requisite also that love to Jesus, and love to his elect, be ever the mainspring of all our patience. We must manifest the Spirit of Christ in meekness, gentleness, and forgiveness. Let us search and see if we truly suffer with Jesus. And if we do thus suffer, what is our ‘light affliction’ compared to reigning with Him? Oh it is so blessed to be in the furnace with Christ, and such an honour to stand in the pillory with Him, that if there were no future reward, we might count ourselves happy in present honour; but when the recompense is so eternal, so infinitely more than we had any right to expect, shall we not take up the cross with alacrity, and go on our way rejoicing?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thoughts on the Prodigal by John Piper's son, Andrew

Many parents are brokenhearted and completely baffled by their unbelieving son or daughter. They have no clue why the child they raised well is making such awful, destructive decisions. I've never been one of these parents, but I have been one of these sons. Reflecting back on that experience, I offer these suggestions to help you reach out to your wayward child.
1. Point them to Christ.
Your rebellious child's real problem is not drugs or sex or cigarettes or pornography or laziness or crime or cussing or slovenliness or homosexuality or being in a punk rock band. The real problem is that they don't see Jesus clearly. The best thing you can do for them--and the only reason to do any of the following suggestions--is to show them Christ. It is not a simple or immediate process, but the sins in their life that distress you and destroy them will only begin to fade away when they see Jesus more like he actually is.
2. Pray.
Only God can save your son or daughter, so keep on asking that he will display himself to them in a way they can't resist worshiping him for.
3. Acknowledge that something is wrong.
If your daughter rejects Jesus, don't pretend everything is fine. For every unbelieving child, the details will be different. Each one will require parents to reach out in unique ways. Never acceptable, however, is not reaching out at all. If your child is an unbeliever, don't ignore it. Holidays might be easier, but eternity won't be.
4. Don't expect them to be Christ-like.
If your son is not a Christian, he's not going to act like one.You know that he has forsaken the faith, so don't expect him to live by the standards you raised him with. For example, you might be tempted to say, "I know you're struggling with believing in Jesus, but can't you at least admit that getting wasted every day is sin?" If he's struggling to believe in Jesus, then there is very little significance in admitting that drunkenness is wrong. You want to protect him, yes. But his unbelief is the most dangerous problem--not partying. No matter how your child's unbelief exemplifies itself in his behavior, always be sure to focus more on the heart's sickness than its symptoms.
5. Welcome them home.
Because the deepest concern is not your child's actions, but his heart, don't create too many requirements for coming home. If he has any inkling to be with you, it is God giving you a chance to love him back to Jesus. Obviously there are some instances in which parents must give ultimatums: "Don't come to this house if you are..." But these will be rare. Don't lessen the likelihood of an opportunity to be with your child by too many rules. If your daughter smells like weed or an ashtray, spray her jacket with Febreze and change the sheets when she leaves, but let her come home. If you find out she's pregnant, then buy her folic acid, take her to her twenty-week ultrasound, protect her from Planned Parenthood, and by all means let her come home. If your son is broke because he spent all the money you lent him on loose women and ritzy liquor, then forgive his debt as you've been forgiven, don't give him any more money, and let him come home. If he hasn't been around for a week and a half because he's been staying at his girlfriend's--or boyfriend's--apartment, plead with him not to go back, and let him come home.
6. Plead with them more than you rebuke them.
Be gentle in your disappointment.What really concerns you is that your child is destroying herself, not that she's breaking rules. Treat her in a way that makes this clear. She probably knows--especially if she was raised as a Christian--that what she's doing is wrong. And she definitely knows you think it is. So she doesn't need this pointed out. She needs to see how you are going to react to her evil. Your gentle forbearance and sorrowful hope will show her that you really do trust Jesus. Her conscience can condemn her by itself. Parents ought to stand kindly and firmly, always living in the hope that they want their child to return to.
7. Connect them to believers who have better access to them.
There are two kinds of access that you may not have to your child: geographical and relational. If your wayward son lives far away, try to find a solid believer in his area and ask him to contact your son. This may seem nosy or stupid or embarrassing to him, but it's worth it--especially if the believer you find can also relate to your son emotionally in a way you can't. Relational distance will also be a side effect of your child leaving the faith, so your relationship will be tenuous and should be protected if at all possible. But hard rebuke is still necessary. This is where another believer who has emotional access to your son may be very helpful. If there is a believer who your son trusts and perhaps even enjoys being around, then that believer has a platform to tell your son--in a way he may actually pay attention to--that he's being an idiot. This may sound harsh, but it's a news flash we all need from time to time, and people we trust are usually the only ones who can package a painful rebuke so that it is a gift to us. A lot of rebellious kids would do well to hear that they're being fools--and it is rare that this can helpfully be pointed out by their parents--so try to keep other Christians in your kids lives.
8. Respect their friends.
Honor your wayward child in the same way you'd honor any other unbeliever. They may run with crowds you'd never consider talking to or even looking at, but they are your child's friends. Respect that--even if the relationship is founded on sin. They're bad for your son, yes. But he's bad for them, too. Nothing will be solved by making it perfectly evident that you don't like who he's hanging around with. When your son shows up for a family birthday celebration with another girlfriend--one you've never seen before and probably won't see again--be hospitable. She's also someone's wayward child, and she needs Jesus, too.
9. Email them.
Praise God for technology that lets you stay in your kids' lives so easily! When you read something in the Bible that encourages you and helps you love Jesus more, write it up in a couple lines and send it to your child. The best exhortation for them is positive examples of Christ's joy in your own life. Don't stress out when you're composing these as if each one needs to be singularly powerful. Just whip them out one after another, and let the cumulative effect of your satisfaction in God gather up in your child's inbox. God's word is never proclaimed in vain.
10. Take them to lunch.
If possible, don't let your only interaction with your child be electronic. Get together with him face to face if you can. You may think this is stressful and uncomfortable, but trust me that it's far worse to be in the child's shoes--he is experiencing all the same discomfort, but compounded by guilt. So if he is willing to get together with you for lunch, praise God, and use the opportunity.It will feel almost hypocritical to talk about his daily life, since what you really care about is his eternal life, but try to anyway. He needs to know you care about all of him. Then, before lunch is over, pray that the Lord will give you the gumption to ask about his soul. You don't know how he'll respond. Will he roll his eyes like you're an idiot? Will he get mad and leave? Or has God been working in him since you talked last? You don't know until you risk asking.(Here's a note to parents of younger children: Set up regular times to go out to eat with your kids. Not only will this be valuable for its own sake, but also, if they ever enter a season of rebellion, the tradition of meeting with them will already be in place and it won't feel weird to ask them out to lunch. If a son has been eating out on Saturdays with his dad since he was a tot, it will be much harder for him later in life to say no to his father's invitation--even as a surly nineteen-year-old.)
11. Take an interest in their pursuits.
Odds are that if your daughter is purposefully rejecting Christ, then the way she spends her time will probably disappoint you. Nevertheless, find the value in her interests, if possible, and encourage her. You went to her school plays and soccer games when she was ten; what can you do now that she's twenty to show that you still really care about her interests? Jesus spent time with tax collectors and prostitutes, and he wasn't even related to them. Imitate Christ by being the kind of parent who will put some earplugs in your pocket and head downtown to that dank little nightclub where your daughter's CD release show is. Encourage her and never stop praying that she will begin to use her gifts for Jesus' glory instead her own.
12. Point them to Christ.
This can't be over-stressed. It is the whole point. No strategy for reaching your son or daughter will have any lasting effect if the underlying goal isn't to help them know Jesus.
Jesus.
It's not so that they will be good kids again; it's not so that they'll get their hair cut and start taking showers; it's not so that they'll like classical music instead of deathcore; it's not so that you can stop being embarrassed at your weekly Bible study; it's not so that they'll vote conservative again by the next election; it's not even so that you can sleep at night, knowing they're not going to hell.The only ultimate reason to pray for them, welcome them, plead with them, email them, eat with them, or take an interest in their interests is so that their eyes will be opened to Christ. And not only is he the only point--he's the only hope.
When they see the wonder of Jesus, satisfaction will be redefined. He will replace the pathetic vanity of the money, or the praise of man, or the high, or the orgasm that they are staking their eternities on right now. Only his grace can draw them from their perilous pursuits and bind them safely to himself--captive, but satisfied. He will do this for many. Be faithful and don't give up.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What do you think of The Shack, by William Young?

Oh my goodness. What a loaded question. Because, yes, I did just finish it, and I am still thinking about it some, and may go back and glean, re-read, etc. However, I think it might be one that does not need to be overanalyzed. In fact, if I remember correctly, yep, I see the quote, Eugene Peterson said about it “This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his.” Have you read Pilgrim’s Progress? If not, I highly recommend it….So good. On that note, Pilgrim’s Progress is an allegory~a totally made-up story w/ characters that represent different things in our lives…….the Worldly Wiseman, Evangelist, Goodwill, Faithful and Hopeful; those kinds of things….. The way I see it, this book could be taken in the same vein. If he was shooting for a philosophy of religion textbook or even theology 101 I would say it falls short, however I don’t think that was his intention. I think the point was to show how God (triune) fellowships in our sufferings…..and our joys, and ALL of our life~and how life would be much more fulfilling if we would always keep that awareness in the forefront of our mind and heart. I think he made a LOT of good points about God’s desire to be known and know us; and that he did a brilliant job of trying to display some infinite God-qualities in finite man’s pea-brain sort-of capacity to understand. God in his entirety is just TOO BIG to comprehend. But I also think the author’s point is that even though that’s the case, He is still worth pursuing. William Young, the author, also did an amazing job keeping the book about relationship. I think that corporate Christendom overemphasizes religion, rituals, the “letter of the law” if you will, and I personally don’t think that is what Jesus was about. No way. He was/is/will be the WAY to God, our benevolent Heavenly Father who desires to be intimate with us! I believe that’s the message of the incarnation. God became man so that we would be able to have a relationship with him. Without Jesus, without the cross, that would have been impossible. Our perfect God could not fellowship with our dark, sinful selves. But, thanks be to Jesus, who made a way! I believe that The Shack should be seen as a picture, a painting or representation. I see it as one man’s story of his picture of God, and his journey of his relationship with Jesus. He shared his heart. He expressed his emotions. He let the world in on his intimate fellowship with the Creator of the Universe.Do you and I see and perceive God exactly the same way? Most likely, No. And that’s this guys point. The God-concepts are as unending as God himself. However, and this is where I would imagine that you (and other Christian scholars like you) would struggle with the book: There is such thing as absolute truth. So, God can’t be anything and everything to many different people; there are certain things that he is and certain things that he is not. I would venture to guess that you felt that his theology was off a little bit in certain places, because I thought the same thing. However, I don’t think that discounts his work at all because his intentions were more about the relationship and not the jot and tiddle. I think the author would be well pleased if he has stimulated Christian thought and even pressed some of us out of our comfort zones in order to embrace God in ways we have never imagined him before~and that, he has done! I would also add that He was speaking to many ills that befall us all; social injustice, materialism, self-love, temptation to suicide, etc., and he gave his slant to these things, trying to help the reader see them from God’s perspective. I was overwhelmed a few times with where he was going and the insights he shared especially about trusting God with the future and walking daily with Jesus, in the Spirit, fellowshipping with God…….

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

jonah's group singing

Jonah had such fun also; already looking forward to next year's vbs!
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benjamin singing w/ vbs friends

all grins, happy boy!
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VBS Power Lab


Amberly had the priveledge of being a song leader for our VBS this year! She had so much fun and was thankful that she got to be involved. She had so much enthusiasm and excitement, it was contageous!
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Photos of Cali and VBS

pictures from our trip to Southern California. These are at Laguna Beach in Crescent Bay.
Next, there are pictures from our week at VBS, Amberly was a songleader!


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Life

Death
You have not conquered
You have no power
Over God's holy ones.

Life
Is more than we see,
More than lungs breathing
And hearts beating.
It is the soul, the spirit,
The inner man, the heart.
That is what life is.

Though the heart aches
and the eyes weep
The spirit is not crushed;
For our hope is in Jesus
The conqueror of death: Life's King!

As our Father takes his children home,
His loved ones one by one,
we leave this corrupted, sinful world
and enter into his glorious majesty.
What life is this on earth to live? But for the life to come?

For home is where the heart is.
O Jesus draw us home.
Forever, we will worship in peace, joy and love.
Now this is life.

As the spirit separates from the body,
sadness overwhelms the ones who love.
But those who love in truth smile joyfully knowing...
Death is the birth of life,
Complete in the presence of Christ!
Live on, O holy ones,
Who've left this land.
Live on and on and on in the Savior's blood-stained hand.

Jodi Meiter
written on the day of Grandpa Judson Briegel's death, published again today in honor of the celebration of Rachel Briegel's life

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Speak your praises!

Tonight my grandma Briegel passed away; safe into the loving hands of God, as they say. She was 92; a long life lived mostly on God's path. She is now at peace and rest and I am sure to her great joy, reunited with her husband of 60 years. To her credit, I never heard her say a bad thing about the guy. She loved him. She always said, "He was so good to me." I fumbled upon a fitting Bible verse today,
Pr. 22:1 "A good name is more desirable than great riches, to be
esteemed is better than silver or gold."
By honoring her late husband she blessed him. And she gave herself a good name in my book; a woman who spoke praises of the one she loved. Over the past several years, she has lived nearby with my Aunt and Uncle. And what did I hear about them? "They are so good to me."

Maybe the biggest lesson she learned in her long life was to appreciate the good in people and to be thankful for what they do for you. Not bad, for 92 years. I hope we younger folk can take that advice and run with it too!
I want to be a glass half-full not half-empty sort-of gal. I want to be the one that sees the flowers after the rain, instead of dwelling on the rain ruining my picnic. I want to be one that enjoys the sufferings of life along with the happy moments, knowing that they will all be bound together in God's special tapestry of my life and will paint the picture that He so chooses. Beauty. It is reflected. Who or what are we reflecting?
I hope I can take the good old-age wisdom from my "Nena" as I called her, and pass it on to my kids and grandkids: Speak blessings on people and tell them how much you appreciate them. Speak well of them to others.........and you will be blessed. With long life, yes..........but also with a trail of spiritual fruit! I am sure she would admit she was not perfect, but she did leave a trail of people behind her in her life that love Jesus with all they've got. Now that's something to be grateful for! I have to believe she prayed for her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know and love Jesus. Maybe she did not do "great things" for God in her lifetime, but maybe, just maybe, she passed the torch of love for God, despite her shortcomings, and left a legacy of thanksgiving. I hope we can all continue the good habit she started by speaking her praises to God and to others!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

the bob.......

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Happy, finally!

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the after picture, see, he's happy....

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new 'dos

Mommy and Daughter out on a HOT June Night in Az, sporting our new 'dos. We had a lot of fun getting our hair done together today. We both had a "blow-out" and of course, i'm hoping to make mine last as long as possible, while Amberly's was sopping wet from the kiddie pool before we left our hairdresser's house! We had to re-blow-dry when we got home so daddy could get a look at the new "stacked" bob :)
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Hair days

It's officially summer here, over 100* and we are ready for fun. One adventure we like is Hair Play! Jonah is growing his out surfer-style, Amberly just got a stacked bob :) Mom got bangs.....and Benjamin got bleached! No, really, he loves it! And it is really cute. This is a "during" picture, he's much happier after....
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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Devotions/Quiet Times

I believe there is an ongoing debate among Christians as to what constitutes a "devoted" life and what in the world is a "quiet time?" I think it all boils down to the heart. Where is my heart? What/Who do I long for? Where does my heart go back to when there is a quiet moment? Am I inclined to talk with Jesus whenever and wherever? There is much to be gained by practicing spiritual disciplines such as designated times for prayer, bible study, meditation, fasting, solitude and silence, worship/praise, etc; but all of those practices are just means to an end. The end is sweet fellowship with Jesus. The life of abiding. The life that remains connected to the Life. We do ourselves a disservice when we check off our "quiet time" box on our to-do list, if we are neglecting the moment-by-moment life together with our Savior. The "devoted" life is one that is consecrated to God daily, morning and evening and in the in-between times. A disciple is one that wants above all else to bring glory and praise to God in all he thinks, says and does. A true Christian hungers and thirsts for righteousness and asks continuously to be filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do the work of the Father on earth. To be used. To be instruments of Christ's love and peace to the lost world. The passion is caught by spending time in His presence. The point is that we are always in His presence if we are believers. He comes into our lives and makes his home with us. The telling difference is this: are we acknowledging the King's presence or are we ignoring Him and reverting back to old habits or patterns of living before Christ? In that case, we need to confess our sins and ask God to draw us ever closer to Him and set desires in our heart for His glory and pleasure!~indeed, to experience the abiding life in all we do, whether it be a "quiet time" or a busy parenting time, let it all be done in His Name and for His glory.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Mary turning Five

I had the honor of celebrating Mary's 5th birthday while I was visiting the Eckles Family in Portland. She was thrilled with her Luau party and was a true "princess!" Check out those delighted eyes! I did some spa treatments for Mary and Sarah (some purple and pink temporary highlights :) and put their hair in party fashion!) It was fun to be with little girls!
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Visiting Laurie

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Joyful Girls!

Oh, the job of Motherhood is immense. I reflected through sobs to by best friend, Laurie, that I cannot imagine what she is doing. These precious girls are hers to raise, what priceless gifts! Sometimes I have a hard time loving the children from my womb, whom I have bonded with since before they were born. Laurie became mom to these little princesses at ages one and three. I know many families blend, adopt, etc., but her situation is unique in that Mary and Sarah lost their mom Heidi when Sarah was born. Heidi was a friend of mine from MOMS group at church, and it was quite an earthquake shocker when we lost her. Her husband Dave has been amazing to raise the girls; and also, God found in His good pleasure and grace to give Dave an awesome new wife in Laurie and an amazing mom for Mary and Sarah. I stand in wonder at God's plan for all of their lives. I know how much I love and treasure Laurie as a person and that these girls will be blessed to have her in their lives. My "moment" of tears during my visit was over how Heidi is missing these memories......not seeing the girls twirl their dresses at the beach, or celebrate their birthdays, or spill their cereal, for that matter. It's one of those wake-up-call, AH-HAH moments when you realize that life is but a breath. Enjoy each day. Each hug, each kiss, each snuggle, each mess, each poopy diaper! For real, life is passing us by! I want to be able to look back on my kids' childhood years and know that I was "present" and I was enjoying them. I think this is the way God would have it. As for Heidi, she's fine. She's celebrating life with Jesus in heaven and enjoying getting to be with Him. I am the one that doesn't understand the perspective of eternity and heaven, so I think Heidi would be sad missing her girls' milestones. However, I just don't think that's the case theologically. Emotionally I am projecting how I feel about my kids and how I think I would miss them (because I am stuck in my finite mind and my earth-grounded love) and in the context I forget Who life is all about and Who IS life! My Jesus. He is the all in all; the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is Peace, Hope, Joy and Love. He is everything we will ever need and more. More than we can imagine. He will fill our eternal lives with great joy in His presence. When we die, we will let go of every sorrow, suffering or pain; any hurt, fear, regret or bitterness...........all gone. We enter his presence with only the Grace He has given us, and the gifts of everlasting life that He was able to bring to life by living His Life in us, bringing us to completion and maturity, and transforming us to become more and more like Christ Jesus. When we meet Him, he will find us beautiful, for we shall be as He is!
As I ponder, I can't help but revisit the joys of this life. Yes, they are good. They are pleasing. We should enjoy the moments. But we need to place them in the paradigm of eternity. Like Jim Eliot is famous for saying, before he laid down his life as a missionairy in Equador, "He is no fool who gives what He cannot keep, to gain what He cannot lose." I believe I should savor each day I have with my kids, and love them to pieces; but even more importantly, Show them Who is LOVE and Who is Joy, Who is LIFE! Because if somehow, by God's grace, I have Shown that ONE to my kids, I have done my mothering well.
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A Hike of Insight

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