This is just a blog about my thoughts, my family, my everyday life. Because I am a Christian and have ups and downs like everyone else, I hope it will encourage others to either turn to Christ for the first time, or lean on Him when times are rough. Often life is just random and funny. I started this blog after many years of writing to my church about our vacations. They began to encourage me to blog and finally I am. Thanks for reading.

"Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!" Nahum 1:15

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him. John Piper

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day

tee shirts Shannon made for the kids
I am two days late posting this, but who cares, right?  We do not usually have a big whoop - dee - doo  on Memorial Day.  We have been invited to a barbeque here and there in the past and maybe we have even hosted one...just can't remember.  (My memory has gotten worse, and actually you could come to me and say "We had you over on Memorial Day 2010" and I would say, "Did I have fun?")
Anyway, this year it fell on a night when we had family Bible Study, so we decided to do the whole grilling and barbecue thing.  A couple of years ago we started have weekly studies in our home for any family member that could/wanted to come.  We needed it and needed to be praying together. We still do.
It alternates on a different day every other week.  We meet at our house around 6:30, eat dinner - consisting of whatever we all contribute - and have a two or three hour study on a book in scripture.
SO, why on a holiday, did we feel the need to bring an exorbitant amount of food as if it were Thanksgiving?  I don't know, but we did.
Laurette and her daughter Tamrynn
Our Memorial Day was a memorable one.  I am thankful we are able to freely celebrate this holiday.  Only because of the Internet and news reports (hmmm) do most of us here in America get to see a glimpse of what it would be like to live without freedom.  Having bible studies in homes is forbidden in some places.  I wonder if it were forbidden here, how many of us would pursue it anyway?
Our family had grown distant and we were drowning in wayward children and trouble.  We were only gathering on holidays...let's see, how many a year?  Maybe four.  That was not enough for us.  So we meet once a week and study and talk to the only One who intervenes in the hearts.  Yes, there are still changes to be made, but it is amazing how God changes the pray-er first, and then maybe those around him/her will change, too.
Hope your holiday was a memorable one.

My brother Owen and my son Lee did the grilling

Josh and Tommy
Emma, Bella, cousin Hayden with hot dog, and Luke

I failed to get pictures of Lee and Shannon and my mom and Tommy's mom....but they were there, too!      

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Don't Focus On Others, Focus On Others.

This is from Pages entry - Notes to Me From Life - thought you might identify.
Dear Me,
How is that for a title?  But  you know exactly what you mean.  You tell yourself often..."it is not about you, it is not about you, it is not about you."  Okay, you get it...and then it is about 'you' again.  So, you take the focus off of you and onto order to serve them, meet their needs, love them.  It feels right because it IS right.  It is part of dying to self-centered YOU.  The thing is, you will fall back into comfortable ways the minute you are tired, are inconvenienced, or taken advantage of.  These are snares.  You were born with this nature that wants its own way and once you became a Christian, it did not disappear. (Why, oh why not? Sigh.) The sinful nature now shares residence with the new creature you are...but now you have the power to overcome.  Praise God.  You do not have to give in to those snares.  Fight back.
The other side of focusing on others is focusing on others.  You know, sometimes you do not make sense, but you know exactly what you mean...again.  You put people under a microscope, either to learn about them or compare yourself with them.  You know you do that.  You watch them and admire, and then realize that you do not measure up.  Right idea, wrong standard. You do not measure up, but the right standard is Christ Jesus, not 'Sally Jones.'  So quit focusing on others and start focusing on others.  Yep, that sums it up pretty good.  All in and for the name of the Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pilgrim's Progress in a Nutshell

I have read this book over and over and it blesses me each and every time.  Though the language can be as thick as mud in some places, the message is clear.  Press on.
So in very short sentences, here it is....or you can read my synopsis in the Pages section on my blog.  This one is much shorter.

The journey for Pilgrim begins.
He encounters adversaries.
He strays from the path.
God sends encouragers.
He presses on.
He becomes fearful.
He encounters scoundrels.
He takes time to rest and eat.
He makes friends.
He presses on.
He meets fools.
He is judged.
He learns.
He sees death.
He presses on.
He looks at history.
He becomes wiser.
He encounters evil.
He presses on.
He teaches others.
He challenges others.
He crosses Jordan.
He is welcomed by angels.
Weary Pilgrim, welcome Home.

The Christian is on a journey and will meet all kinds of people, and undergo much testing and trials.  Be faithful to the One who watches over your soul...and press on.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Intentional Summer

Summers fly.  They always have.  Time takes a vacation - or so it seems - from June to August. If only it were true.  If minutes would drag into days, and the days would drag into weeks, and so on and so on until the ticking of the clock becomes meaningless....just for three months.
The heat drives one into water or AC.  Grills are fired up and fill the air with good smells.
Images of picnics, watermelons, water slides, long sno-cone lines, and lemonade stands with misspelled words....all make me smile inside.  Kids skateboard in streets, shoot hoops in driveways, and fill libraries on hot afternoons.  The neighborhood pools are crowded, as are the beaches.  Summer fun for everyone.
June bugs and fireflies will appear on porches and in bushes.  Mosquitoes will annoy.  Crickets will sing their songs at night.  Stars will not appear until late in the evening and sidewalks will sizzle at midday.
Without abandoning the call of F-R-E-E-D-O-M and spontaneity altogether, take a slightly different road from the ordinary.  Make 2013 a summer of good, intentional, thoughtful planning.  Engage to "conquer" mode.  Make a deliberate list of kind and helpful ways to serve others.
Visit a nursing home.
Visit a grandma...any grandma.
Wash some one's dishes.
Go grocery shopping for someone.
Weed a yard.
Read a book...for yourself or out loud to a child of any age.
Do devotionals at mealtime
Let kids cook dinner.
While there are zoos, museums, ball games, and such to enjoy for a fee, there are just as many other things to take part in that cost nothing at all....except a little effort.
The point I am trying to make is 'don't waste your summer'.  It is screaming to be embraced with reckless abandon.  Take steps to add some random acts of kindness.  It will be a summer worth remembering.

Just recently my family met for a potluck dinner at my mom's.  As we gathered to eat at the table and living room (I think there were 19 of us), I took a survey of favorite John Wayne movies.  Without any hesitiation at all, people were yelling, "McLintock! The Quiet Man! Hondo! Chisolm! North to Alaska! True Grit!"  Hmmm.  I see a movie night in the making, Pilgrim.  Happy Summering!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Excerpt From 'Notes To Me'

I wanted to post one of my 'notes to me' in the pages section of the blog because I might not be the only person with this problem...and it IS a problem.  Especially for us women.  We tend to be fixers and many times it ends, well, not so good.
Whenever I hear complaints, I tend to want to run around like a mad woman with a flyswatter, trying to kill the bug that is causing the problem.  Guess what?  There will always be complaints and complainers.  Sometimes they will be valid and sometimes not. There are two sides to each story.  Scripture tells us to hear both sides before forming an opinion.

Proverbs 18:17  The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. 

3.  You Are Not Responsible To Fix Everything
Dear Me,
Why do you think you need to step in and fix whatever people are complaining about?  It only causes you stress. You think that you must give a voice to the issue so that something will be done about it.
First of all, why is YOUR voice more important than someone else's...namely the one with the gripe?
Second of all, if it isn't YOUR complaint, leave it alone.
Once you take on an issue, it becomes yours.  You bear the brunt of being in the middle of an entangled mess.  (Reader, you can tell that I have been in that situation more than once.)
You feel you must make people happy or that you would like them to be happy with you, your family, your world.  Not everyone will be.  You are going to make decisions that some won't like.  It is okay.
The problem with you is that you want everyone to like you as much as they like everyone else.  Impossible goal.  Might as well be on a hamster wheel.  Not gonna happen.
Live unto the Lord.  Live to please Him and strive to be at peace with all men.  Jesus did not please everyone...and He was perfect.  Sometimes being at peace with all men means minding your own business.  Mind your own business.  (I had to type that twice so maybe it would sink in.)
You are a work in God takes out 'you' and replaces it with 'Him'.  (I am a slow learner and a tough cookie to work with...but He is up for the task, thankfully.)
Enough of life will come your way that only you can fix.  Wait for it.  In the meantime, press on.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mothers' Days

All mothers have days...filled with all kinds of things.  Young moms know all too well the routine of diapers and laundry loads, hungry faces and needed naps.  In time you will see those days for the gifts they are. 
The teenage years bring hormones with them...and sometimes they rage.  Mood swings in girls, a desire for independence in boys, and some rebellion in both - gifts of discovery and pain often, but gifts none the less.
Mothering adult children doesn't really work.  They are done being mothered, but not done with the mothers themselves....I hope.  A simple hug and smile from them brings sweet joy. 
And then comes the role reversal years, when moms are mothered and cared for by their children. Selfless gifts.
A cycle called life.  "It passes all too quickly," everyone says, but until you are older, it is just an oft repeated sentence.  
I love my mom and my mom-in law.  I love my daughter, Jana and my daughters-in-law, Shannon and YuJueng...all of them moms this year.  So Happy Mother's Day to them and to you, too.  It doesn't take much to make us moms happy...any phone call, card, or picked flower from a field or dandelions will do.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Lands, Foreign and 'Domestic'

Recently I was talking with a friend through email about the challenges of being a missionary in another country.  How rewarding!  What a worthy call on a life!  Exciting!  Dangerous!  Fulfilling!  Self - sacrificing!  There is no question that all of those words and phrases are accurate in describing those that labor for the Lord.  I can think of other, equally accurate words....Lonely.  Discouraging.  Boring.  Hard.  Frustrating. These words might also be added to the list.  (I only mention 'boring' for all the 'red tape' that I know goes with it.
Those serving the Lord in distant lands need our prayers for safety and fruitfulness.  They sow seeds, He alone reaps the harvest.
So, what about us - here at home?  Let's see....hmm.  Do I only surround myself with like minded people?  Does my circle of friends extend beyond my comfort zone?  Ouch and shame, shame if that is true.
I come across people every day who are in need of love, freedom, and forgiveness.  Prison bars are not always visible.  In fact, most aren't.  Men and women in prison know they are in prison. Many, if not most that walk around freely have no idea that they, too, are in bondage...and it seems to know no age limit.
Christians, be light! Be salt!  Those that claim to know the Lord as Savior, rise up!  Because the answer to life's meaning lies within you, tell it.  Tell it as you go.  Live it as you walk.  To those that live overseas, WE are the foreign country.  
Your 'little country' may be made of laundry, dishes, and hungry mouths.  Dirty faces and dirty diapers may be your assignment of the day, week, month, year(s).  Maybe yours is a life of being alone, or out in the workforce, or graying hairs.  It does not change the call of Christ on your life.  You are His.  Tell someone.  
Christ makes us strangers.  We are aliens, we are not of this world.  Our home awaits us invite someone to come 'home' with you.
I am praying for you today.

Ephesians 2:14-22   For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. 

2 Corinthians 5:17-21  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Notes to Me from Life

Every now and then, some truth or experience or observation will grab my heart and change me..."hit home" with me.  Things I do not want to forget.  Therefore, I am putting them over in the Pages section of my blog under the title "Notes to Me from Life".
I got the idea from the book titled 'Note to Self' by Joe Thorn.  It is excellent.  He reminds himself to avoid some of the pitfalls into which we all so easily stumble.  As I read each chapter, I think, "Oh, yes!  I do that!"  So, I decided to write my own notes about my own struggles.  Maybe you are like me and are always jotting words on any piece of paper within reach.  This scribbling however, would be about lessons I am learning on how to live more abundantly.  More joy, less stress. Overcoming bondages so that I might not hinder the cause of Christ in me.  It is a daily battle.
Writing these 'antidotes' down won't ever stop the trials from coming my way.  Trials make me stronger.  But instead of focusing on the problem, I will focus on my reaction to it.  Am I seeking to please God or am I whining in despair and indulging in a pity party?  Lord, teach me in this vapor of a  life, to trust Your hand in all things as You gently pull the weeds that take root in my heart.
Make my writings useful for Your kingdom or lessen my desire to do it.  Remove all fluffy words and let there remain some elements of truth for Your glory.
Note to you from me:  Press on.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Morning Routine

Morning routines are well....routine.  It is my habit to lay in bed and mentally go over my schedule for the day. (If my schedule is my own, I might linger under the covers a bit longer.) Smile.
If I desire for the Lord to dictate my day, my speech, my actions, my thoughts, then I must begin there, in the warm safe place....before the phone rings, before I interact with another human being, before life happens.  I must interact with Him.
No one wants me to succeed in my Christian walk more than my Father does.  I was designed - as were you - to bring Him glory.  That is it.  Our soul purpose.  It will wear many faces and look different in every situation and in every person.  That is the purpose of man - you and me - to bring God glory.
So, I will blink away my dreams, gather my wits, and seek His face.

1. I will give Him my day...and though I may have many plans made, He will direct my steps.
Proverbs 16:9  The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. 

2. I will give Him my mouth.
Colossians 4:6  Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. 

3. I will give Him my feet and hands.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-12  Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. 
Psalm 119:101-102  I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me. 

4. I will give Him my attitude.
2 Corinthians 13:11  Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another,agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 

5. I will give Him my precious time.
Ephesians 5:15-16   Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 

6. I will give Him my thoughts.
Philippians 4:8  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 

If we do these things before all else, our days will be full of purpose and meaning...for His glory alone.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May's Agenda

I want to set some goals for May.  Somehow when summer arrives, it dictates its own schedule.  Plans come out of the woodwork and anything goes on any given day....and then it's over. And then Fall arrives!!! Yay!! (smile, smile, smile)  Ok, but wait, I was writing about May.  I thought maybe if I put ideas in my blog, they might come closer to getting done.
1.  Intentionally honor my mom and Tommy's mom for Mother's Day.  Not sure how yet, but we love them and want them to know it.
2.  Beach visit. :)
3.  Read "You're Made for a God-Sized Dream" by Holley Gerth.
4.  Slow down and sit at Jesus' feet more often.
5.  Finish 2nd Samuel and reread 1st Samuel.
6.  Clean closets.
7.  Lose five's a start. ;)
8.  Visit the nursing home.
9.  Beach visit #2.
10.  Write some letters to far away friends.
11.  Really clean my classroom at church.
12.  Plan Bible School.
13.  Do better with my Gratitude list on my blog.  (I am waaaay behind.)

These are things in the back of my head that I want to accomplish.  (I am adding them to my life this month.)  
I will let you know at the end of May if any got done at all.  Cross your fingers and wish me luck...but I don't believe in luck.

BTW - It's still snowing in Iowa.                                           Gotta love Texas.