A Journey of Faith

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Growing and Living

         I listened to two things today that made my mind start turning, and in a funny way they kind of tie together. The first was a sermon at church. Pastor is away and a friend was filling in for her. Her sermon was about not dropping out of life, about always continuing to grow and learn. She pointed out that those we admire (and I would add, those that really touch our lives in meaningful ways) are those that are always seeking to better themselves and their lives. How true! And it seems that those who have that mindset, that life is about growing and learning, are also those who are likely to encourage others to step out of what is comfortable... and grow and learn. I know that those I admire and respect are those who not only are always learning, but that are always looking to help others do the same. And what a difference they have made in my life... and to my faith. Because the more I learn and the more I look to grow, the deeper my faith becomes, and the wider and stronger my foundation becomes.
        The second thing I heard today was the song "The Rose" (originally by Bette Midler, this version was sung by Francesca Bertecelli...not sure if I spelled her name right). I have always loved this song. Today as we drove home I was thinking about the sermon and I heard this line "It's the soul, afraid of dying, that never learns to live." It's so easy to put up a wall between ourselves and the world, to protect ourselves from the pain that comes with living sometimes. But when we do that we miss out on so much of the joy that comes with life too. It's so easy to choose not to do something new or different or hard, because it might hurt us if we fail. It's easy to make excuse that we are unqualified or unequipped, and so we just continue on in our little comfort zones, missing out on all the blessings that come with putting ourselves out there.
        When I was in school I was not the most successful student. I struggled to pay attention in class, struggled to do my homework each evening, really just squeaked by thru much of my high school years. I convinced myself that I was just not a good learner, and so I didn't go to college. I figured it was pointless to try, since I hadn't really ever succeeded. So why try? But then this summer I finally listened to what GOD had been trying get thru my stubborn head. 'Become a pastor!' HE was telling me. Ooookkkkaaayyy. 'Really, are you sure?' and it seems HE is, so I am determined to obey. One thing... it involves going to college. And so it also involves a major change in my thinking. I have to make a decision to trust that GOD will help me with the learning part, that HE will help me focus my mind on the work assigned and complete it well. I have to be ready for this great adventure HE has called me to, and not drop out of it if (when) it becomes challenging.

Heavenly Lord, thank you for the great adventures you set before us each amazing new day. Thank you for giving the courage and strength to learn to live, to never drop out of the life you have so generously blessed us with! Please help us to always see Your hand in each new day and to trust in Your will and grace. In JESUS' blessed name, Amen!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Most Wonderful Gift

I got an amazing surprise a few nights ago. My brother and his family drove 850 miles to surprise us for Christmas! I heard the knock on the door around 7 pm and came down to see my niece's beautiful face in my kitchen door window... let's just say I couldn't open the door fast enough!! I was so excited, I was shaking, and crying, and just kept saying 'oh my gosh' over and over as I hugged and kissed my precious niece and nephew. What an awesome gift!!!

But it isn't even the best gift!! The best gift is the one we all got 2000 years ago, in the form of our mighty God coming to us as a tiny helpless baby wrapped in humble swaddling clothes. The journey my family made, while long and tiring, was nothing compared to the journey GOD made when HE traveled from His Heavenly throne and made His way to us. They arrived knowing that there were warm beds and a comfortable place to stay where they were welcome and loved. HE arrived knowing that He would be placed in a rough manger, in a drafty stable surrounded by animals. He came, knowing that He would eventually be rejected, betrayed, humiliated, tortured and killed. His journey to us was one of humility and love. And so much sacrifice. We often think of the sacrifice of His death, but His very life was a sacrifice of love. He sacrificed the glory and majesty of Heaven to come to us. There is no greater love than that.

After I soaked in the reality that I was in fact going to get to spend Christmas with my beloved niece and nephew (I LOVE being an Aunti!!!!) I wanted to call people and tell them. No one knew that they were making the trip, so we called our parents and grandmothers to tell them the good news. They were all so thrilled to hear that their grandchildren would be here for the holidays, that they would get to spend some time getting to know them better and making memories. My brother and his wife knew how much it would mean to us to have them close by during this holiday, that time spent together brings us closer and helps our relationship to grow stronger.

Isn't that why GOD sent us His Son? To bring us closer to Him? To help our relationship with Him grow stronger? Time spent with Him is such a gift, and we should treasure it as much and more than I am treasuring every moment with these two amazing children that have invaded my house and my heart with their sweetness. And share the good news!!! Just as I called all those I love to share the good news of the unexpected guests.... we should share the good news of the long awaited Messiah!

Amazing, loving GOD, thank  you for making that long, difficult journey to us, even knowing that You wouldn't always be warmly welcomed. Please always help us to greet You with excitement and amazement at the wonder of getting to spend time with You! As I watch my kids and niece and nephew opening their presents, the tree lit, the smell of Christmas breakfast filling the house, I can't help but feel the fullness of Your love and grace. Help us always to be so filled with joy and happiness at Your nearness that we just have to spread the good news of Your arrival. I love you!!!! In JESUS' name... Amen.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Finding the Gift

2 Timothy 1:6-7  "6 for this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of GOD, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For GOD did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."

          I have read this 'pericope' (section of scripture) many times. I even have verse 7 on a pocket rock, it is a verse I have turned to often when I was afraid. But I have never put the two verses together before. 
          I am working my way through a program called 'Ministry Inquiry' as part of my candidacy journey. It is a great program, it helps you to think about calling and what GOD's call means in your life. Right now I am on the section that discusses gifts and graces. It asked me to list my gifts and graces.... something I am kind of uncomfortable trying to do. I am never really sure what to put as an answer to that question, so when I came to that one I went online to read sermons about spiritual gifts, to try to figure out what my answer was. I came across a few great sermons that were really inspirational... hhhmmmm, almost like GOD knew I needed the messages they contained....
          One was by a woman who had struggled with her decision to enter ministry. She had grown up believing that women weren't suppose to be pastors, but then she received a call from GOD. She wasn't specific in her sermon about how or what that call was, just that she felt that call very strongly. She talked about the parable of the servants, and how the first two took risks to do what they were suppose to do with what their master had given them, and the third played it safe... not wanting to risk losing what he had been given. 
          How many of us play it safe with the gifts GOD has given us? How many of us put those gifts away, believing that the risk... of offending someone, of mishearing the call.... of failing.... is just too great. After all, it's better to play it safe than to get hurt in the process of serving... or is it? What are we missing out on if we 'play it safe' instead of taking the risk?
         Paul tells Timothy to nurture the gifts GOD has given him, to do what he has to do in order to be an effective servant "for GOD did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline". GOD didn't make us to be timid, or fearful. He didn't intend for us to run from the gifts HE has given us, even if those gifts seem more a mystery than a blessing at first. HE wants us approach our gifts with the power of the Holy Spirit, and to use them to spread the love of JESUS. HE wants us to have the self-discipline to not just identify our spiritual gifts, but to learn how and when to use them. 
          I think that is the hard part. It can be intimidating to try to identify your spiritual gifts. Not only do you have to know what the choices are, you have to figure out which one(s) you have been given! And then you have to figure out how to use them. But according to the sermons I read, that can be the best part! Finding out what your gifts are can be a great adventure if we let it. We can take opportunities to learn as much as we can about the different ways to serve, and along the way we will learn more about ourselves, our churches, and our GOD. And when we find out what our gifts are, we can then begin another adventure... of learning how to use them. And then we will really learn about GOD and who HE is, and what His plan is for us. 
           There is something I have heard a number of times that has been in my mind a lot through this journey. "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips those He has called". He has equipped us with gifts, it is our job to see what those gifts are, and use them, but He has always known what they are. He picked them out just for us! 

Amazing GOD, You knew us before You spoke a word of creation on this great earth. You have blessed us with so many wonderful gifts! Please help us to learn what those gifts are, and how we can use them to glorify You and show others the way to You. In JESUS' name, Amen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Courage is a funny thing. Do you know how many times GOD tells us to have courage? Or to fear not? So many times... it's almost as if HE knew that we would struggle with fear, almost more than any other struggle. Ok, of course HE knew that, and HE loves us so much that HE put it in HIS story over and over again, so we would be sure not to miss it.

Our GOD is amazing.

About a week and a half ago I went before the committee in our church that will be a huge part of my support system through my journey into ministry. One of the purposes of the meeting was for them to get to know where I am in my faith journey, and why I feel I am being called to go into ministry. One of the questions I was asked was why I had been scared to do the service back in July? I answered that it was the anticipation of it that was scary, all those things I imagined could go wrong. It got me thinking about courage, and what that means.

Duckling #3 said something the other day. He said that courage didn't mean you weren't afraid, it meant that you did what had to be done even though you are afraid. Ah... the wisdom of children. But seriously, he is right. Being courageous has nothing to do with a lack of fear... and everything to do with stepping around or past or even through that fear and getting to the place where you realize that your world is so much bigger than you ever imagined.

I played the violin at church tonight. We were doing a carol sing to celebrate the beginning of advent, and I played the introit (one verse of  'The First Noel') with the organist accompanying me. It went well, and a lot of people came up to me to encourage me and tell me that I did a great job.

Encourage. That is a powerful word, a powerful thing to do for someone. To encourage someone is to give them a piece of courage. All the words of encouragement that have been given to me have served to make me braver... almost like another kind of puzzle. All those beautiful words have joined together to make a picture of who I can be... if only I have the courage to go there. If I have the courage to step past or around or through the fear that is so good at holding back, I can get to where I see what all those lovely and loving people see... that I can do things!!! What a gift... what a blessing, to give someone that piece of courage.

I have this picture in my head that has been there for many years. Maybe not in a coherent way, but in the way I have lived my life. It is a picture of failure. Not necessarily based on any reality, but I have come to believe, based on the lies of the enemy, that I am not capable. Lies that I didn't have the courage to disbelieve. But all those healing words of encouragement that have been banding together are becoming bigger and stronger and so much more powerful than those lies. What an amazing, freeing thing this is! As I sat there in church tonight, after I played my piece, I just kept thinking 'I did it!' 'I can't believe I did it!!'. And it wasn't just that I played the piece, it was that I had the courage to put myself out there.

Encouragement. Healing. Freeing. Empowering. Amazing

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Our Comforting GOD

      I heard a question asked recently that has had me thinking. The question was "is it comforting or not, knowing that GOD knows us better than anyone else, that HE knows our every thought and deed?" Some people feel that it is not comforting, knowing that HE knows our every word and deed.
       I disagree.
       One of the first things any Christian learns is that we are all sinners. None of us is perfect... and GOD knows that! HE knows that we will make mistakes... maybe even knowingly do the wrong thing, fully aware that it will break HIS heart. HE knew before we were even conceived even, what our mistakes would be, and how we would let them shape our lives. HE knew every step we would take away from HIM and His love. But His word says that HE loves us anyway! He will always forgive us when we repent! He will always forget those things that we ask forgiveness for! And HE will always desire for us to come back to Him with a repentant heart. Always!!! (I would love to put a thousand exclamation points after that...)
       What a comfort to know that no matter what we do, HE loves us with a love bigger than the universe. What a comfort to know that, even if we are embarrassed by our mistakes, even if we try to hide that part of ourselves that we don't think the world will like, HE still adores us. So much so  that HE came to us, humbled Himself to bring us to HIM. I believe it was Max Lucado that says that if GOD had a refrigerator, our picture would be on it. HE loves us unconditionally, unendingly, unmeasurably.
       I suppose it is scary to know that HE can see who we are deep inside. To know that that part of ourselves that makes us cringe is wide open to Him. But instead of letting that thought make us cringe with shame, or cry with regret... maybe it should be a motivator. Maybe we should let the knowledge that GOD is watching help us to chose our actions and do our best to pattern what we do after JESUS. And maybe we should let HIM carve away those things that we would hide away.
Maybe that is what is scariest. What will happen if we let HIM carve us, change us, weed out those things that are holding us back from being the person HE wants us to be, the person HE created us to be? What will happen if we truly make HIM Lord of our lives, ruler of our hearts? What will happen if we make the choice that we will follow HIM wherever HE calls us to go? Even if that call takes us so far outside our comfort zone that we don't even recognize the path we are on.
        I have been learning about those who were called by GOD. Esther, Moses, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,  Isaiah... and so many others. And they all were certain they were unqualified to serve GOD. And maybe they were. But that wasn't the point. The point was that GOD calls those HE wants to use. It isn't our place to question, just to obey. I don't know who said it, but I have heard so may times..."GOD doesn't call the equipped, HE equips those HE calls." Those HE called, those that fill the Bible with all that we need to know to live for HIM have something else in common... they weren't perfect! (except for JESUS of course!)They were sinners, murderers, adulterers, cowards, liars, too old, too young, too shy, too arrogant, you name it, they were imperfect. Just like us. Is that why GOD tells us their stories? So that we have someone to identify with? Who do you identify with? Is it Jeremiah... who was certain he didn't know enough, was too young? Is it Moses... whose speech wouldn't win any awards for public speaking? Martha and Mary... who needed reminding what the priority was? Abraham... who lied about who his wife was? Or his wife Sarah... who laughed when the Lord called her to motherhood in her old age? Or maybe Esther... who was thrust into a world completely foreign to her? Whatever the "but I am____" is in our lives, GOD says "come, I will use you." There is nothing in our lives that will make us ineligible for service to GOD. NOTHING!!!!! (maybe a million exclamation points would be good here!)

Amazing, forgiving, loving, comforting GOD, thank you for the assurance that you love us no matter what. No matter what it is that we are hiding from the world, You not only love us, but make a way... a new way... every day for us to come back to You. What a comfort that there is nothing in our past that will keep us from being used by You. In JESUS' name... amen.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


"Many Christians are prisoners of fears that are nothing when pushed up
against. Satan can do nothing against a son of God, but he loves to put
barriers of paper mache in the path of a believer to make him think he is
This was part of a sermon I read online. The writer told a story about a jail that was being excavated. The door was strong, reinforced, impenetrable  But the walls were merely paper made to look like strong iron. The prisoners could have simply pushed against the walls and escaped their prison.
And we are no better. We let satan put us in prisons of fear and doubt. Of things like depression and anxiety, sin and disobedience... simply because we believe his lies that we are incapable of escape. And every lie we believe clicks the lock closed on our personal prisons...
He whispers to us..."you are too weak, too unqualified" and we believe him and decline to serve. click
He pokes us..."you are worthless, life is overwhelming" and we believe him and sink deeper into the pit of despair. click
He points out our every flaw..."GOD can never use you, you disgusting sinner you" and we believe him and stay in our comfortable little boxes, never realizing that that there are amazing opportunities to serve HIM. That to serve HIM in ways we never dreamed we could will make our faith grow stronger and bigger than we ever imagined it could. click

Every time we allow ourselves to be stuffed into that prison, every time we choose to believe the lies of the evil one, we pull away from GOD just a little bit more.  Thankfully, HE will follow us whenever we stray from HIS truth. Like that wonderful shepherd that HE is, HE will follow us... lost little sheep that we are... to bring us back. To let us follow HIS fingerprints back to the safety of HIS fold.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Owning It

I went to a conference this past weekend for church. While there I was blessed to attend a number of great workshops and worship sessions. One thing that has stuck with me is the keynote speech from Friday. The speaker talked a little about his past, about the trials that he had faced growing up. Then he talked about how we all have things in our past that have shaped us, that are maybe difficult, and that we may still struggle with. Then he said something that has gotten my brain spinning. He said that we need to own our story. Own it, and accept it, and share it.
Now, I have had struggles in my past. Nothing earth shattering. No one thing that could be seen as huge flood of trauma that threatened to wash me away. No, my struggles were more of a constant rain of things that have added up over the years to become a tsunami of difficulty that came to be a flood of anxiety and depression over the last year and few months. The speaker went on to say that we should be willing to share these things, and how GOD has worked in them and thru them to shape us, and heal us, and grow us. And that if we do share, we are showing others a part of GOD's character that they may not have seen if not thru us.
I have seen His character... and His fingerprints... everywhere this year. Everywhere. In the sermon that spoke to me about the very thing I was struggling with. In the mid week devotion that rebuked me for my spiritual temper tantrum even while reassuring me that my God was always there for me, even in my disobedience. And the one that helped me see His call in my life. In the words of a friend that were just what I needed to hear in the middle of an especially dark day. In the words of a song, or a prayer, or an email that was like a balm to my sore heart. HE has shown me so clearly that HE is a God of love and mercy and grace, that HE cares so much for His children that He would bend down from His throne to place His fingerprints just where they were needed.
Some of His fingerprints I know were there just for me, like the time I was at an especially difficult appointment.See I have this friend who, when she can tell that I am really struggling, will look at me with this silly look and say "Cheeeese..." in a silly way that always makes me smile. On this day I was really fighting the anxiety, and while sitting in the waiting room I happened to look over at a bookshelf. Sitting on the shelf was a book titled "Who Moved My Cheese". I started to giggle, picturing my friend and her silly grin. GOD knew that that would make me smile and reduce my anxiety. He made sure that book was just where I would see it at the moment I most needed to be lifted up. It may seem like a little thing, but to me on that day it was what I needed to survive what was a real challenge to my spirit. He knew that and gave me a glimpse of His character.
He amazes me. His character humbles me. His love and mercy sustain me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Approved. Unanimously.

The vote was unanimous. I wasn't expecting that. I figured a few of the people on the committee would approve me, but I was fully expecting that I would be told that while they recognized my call and supported me, that I had a lot of work to do before they were willing to approve me. But they all voted yes. wow. WOW. I am going to be a pastor. I am going to serve GOD.
It is sobering.
 Not in a scary, what am I thinking, way. But in a wow, all these people are behind me, and what a huge privilege and responsibility. In a 'there's no turning back', only forward way.
Am I up for the challenge?
 I lay awake last night, replaying the meeting. I was sure at the time that my answers sounded weak and unintelligent. That I didn't really answer some of them, and that the ones I did were just too vague. When they brought me back in and the chairman started by saying the vote was unanimous... and then paused (how is it that that little pause... probably only in reality a second or two... seemed to stretch on for an hour???) I was bracing myself to hear that I had a lot to work on, and would I please come back in a year or so to ask for approval again. I even had ready what I would say... something along the lines of 'thank you, and I will work on these things, and I will see you in a year' or something like that. When he said that they had voted to approve me, I almost cried. These ten people all agreed that I am pastor material. I guess it surprised me because I am still trying to figure out how it is that so many people see it in me, when I still don't. I just figure GOD has His work cut out for Him, making me strong and giving me the skills and knowledge I need to do what HE wants me to do.
I was asked what I look forward to most as a pastor. I answered service. The other parts are exciting too. I like the planning parts, and the learning... there is so much I don't know that I want to. I am learning more about how the church works and feel more comfortable with the idea of being in the role of administrator. But when I think of serving a church, it's the serving... the showing up and getting stuff done, the going out and being the hands and feet of JESUS, the hands on working of being HIS disciple, that is what I am looking forward to, what fills my heart.
The only other question that stuck with me was when I was asked how it is with my soul. That one made me pause. I struggled for a minute how to answer it. There were a number of people on the committee that know what I have gone thru the past 14 months, well, they know a part of it. So I know why she asked that, but I wasn't prepared to answer in a way that didn't share too much. What I wanted to say was that I know what Paul meant when he said that he had learned to be content no matter what the circumstances. That I knew, because of the struggles I went thru, that no matter what is going on around me or even in me, GOD has me so tight in the palm of HIS hand that I am safe. That even if I don't have the spiritual or mental or physical strength to survive, HE will hold onto me until I do. Until I remember that HE is offering all the strength I need, I just have to humble myself and accept it. I wanted to say that my soul recognizes all the fingerprints GOD has left for me to find in my life this year, and that those fingerprints have been uplifting, and convicting, and healing, and humbling. That I am constantly amazed at how much my GOD loves me, that HE would take the time to send me 'love notes' in the form of a devotion, or a sermon, or a comment from a friend (or stranger for that matter!)or even something as little as a title of a well placed book. That how can I not be 'well in my soul' when I have a GOD who sees my trials and gives me glimpses of HIS love and grace and mercy (and how can I not be amazed knowing that those glimpses are just a tiny piece of HIS power and grace!). And that I am blown away at how often HE comes to me in the middle of pain and darkness to remind me that I am HIS beloved child and HE has an amazing plan for me. I wanted to say all that, but I didn't, couldn't. I was afraid if I tried to articulate it I wouldn't do the thoughts justice.There is so much more I could have said, but how do you put into words what HIS love has done in your heart and soul, it is just too big and too powerful to assign words to it. I don't think I could.
So now I have approval from PPRC. Now I have to get the approval of the church. I am nervous about that, probably more nervous than I was about last night. But I am also calm about it. Terrified but not worried. I know that it will happen when GOD wants it to, that my timing isn't the important thing. I have decided to just take it one step at a time, not to think beyond the next step unless I have to.
Unanimous. Wow.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Annointed... and Hungry

An amazing thing happened to me this week. Are you ready for it? Are you ready to hear the amazing thing that happened...it will knock your socks off... I promise!!!

I was hungry.

Yep, that was the amazing thing that happened to me this week. Right about now you are probably thinking...'um, ok. I get hungry all the time...what on earth can possibly be so amazing about that (maybe she has finally lost it???)' Nope... it really is amazing. Let me explain.

The last year or so has been a very challenging time for me. I have struggled most of my life with depression, every so often I would have a few days, or weeks that I was just really depressed. I would get over it fairly quickly. But for some reason, this past year has really been mostly a blur of depression and anxiety that I just couldn't shake. For me, one of the main ways the depression manifests is a significant loss of appetite. I don't feel hungry, and food holds no interest... so I don't eat. Not really a problem if you are talking a few days or even a week or two. But when the time stretches to over a year... then you have a problem. Since the depression grabbed ahold of me last fall I have lost 40 pounds... not a great thing when you are already on the slender side. Needless to say, it was beginning to become a real concern.

Then I went to church last Sunday.

I need to preface this by saying that our church has been blessed with a pastor who has the gift of discernment. When the HOLY SPIRIT nudges her, she listens and acts. It is a gift that has blessed not just me personally, but our whole church. I am so thankful for that gift!

So the sermon that she preached on Sunday was about healing. At the end of the sermon she invited anyone who wanted to, to come to the altar and be annointed for healing and have hands laid on them. So I went. To be perfectly honest, I don't know that I expected much. I figured that it couldn't hurt, but my hopes weren't really that high. After all, I had been prayed over, with, and for many many times over the last year plus, and things hadn't really changed very much.

I underestimated GOD's power. and HIS love. and HIS grace.

After church I was talking to Pastor about the annointing and she said something that really got my mind spinning (not that that ever happens...). She said that now nothing mattered... meaning, I assume, that none of the struggles that I have had are important, they can't hold me anymore.

She was right.

On the way home so much was going thru my mind...
  ...depression has no right to hold me... I have been annointed
   ...anxiety has no right to hold me.... I have been annointed
   ...anything that hurt me in the past has no right to hold me.... I have been annointed
and so it went, with all the things that have dragged me down being added to the list of things that have no right to hold me. It was freeing, and healing.

Then I realized that I was hungry. Not 'I guess I had better eat something, because it's, you know, biologically necessary' but 'I can't wait to get home... I am starving... and I can't wait to eat! And why are we going so slow?!?!?!?!'. It was the first time in a year that I was hungry and wanted to eat!

And I feel like me. Not a shadow of me that is struggling to function, afraid someone will see that I am in the midst of a struggle with this monster called depression, worried that something will happen to bring me down again. No, I feel like me. Strong and capable and ready to finish off that monster.

Because now I know I will win... I have been annointed....

My amazing, powerful GOD... Thank you doesn't cover it. I don't even have words to express what awe I have at Your power and grace. Just when I think that I get it, that I see how You work... You surprise me and humble me. Thank You for Your healing touch. For the leading of Your Holy Spirit... for a pastor who listens and obeys...for her godly influence and compassion and patience.  For opening my heart and mind to the power of Your healing. And especially for never ever leaving my side. You are Amazing!!! In JESUS' name... Amen.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our loving Father

I know I have written posts before about seeing GOD's fingerprints everywhere, but I have been seeing them so much lately, and in such amazing ways, it is awesome... and humbling. It makes me think about how much HE values each of HIS children.
When you think of how powerful and mighty HE is... and how small and insignificant we are... why should HE even notice our struggles, much less give us glimpses into HIS love for us? Why should HE look down from His throne and see our pain, and do something to lessen it? We are just a bunch of selfish sinners really, going about our lives denying Him and His blessings, choosing that which feels good... rather than that which is right. And yet He takes the time to lovingly remind us that not only does HE see and hear our struggles, HE cares enough to do something about it. Not that HE removes the trials and challenges... I believe that HE does use those to help us grow and be stronger in our faith.
A few weeks ago I was heading north to visit family. The whole ride I had this idea running through my head. I should explain that I love to write. Not that I am a particularly talented or creative writer, but I find it therapeutic, especially when I am struggling with something that I need to sort out. So all the way north I had this idea running through my head. When we reached our destination I sat down at my computer and wrote out what I had been thinking. Over  the next day I refined it, adding details that fleshed it out, and when I was happy with what it said, I sent it to Pastor to read.
The next day she and I were talking to another friend of ours, and I was upset about something. Our friend (who hadn't read what I had written) was talking to me to comfort me... and began saying almost exactly what I had written and sent to Pastor. She and I just looked at each other in amazement... here were HIS fingerprints again. I could almost picture HIM looking down from His throne, whispering "I know sweetie, I hear you, and I am here... fear not, I am with you". What an amazing thought!! We are never alone, never apart from His love and care.
It never ceases to amaze me that, even in the darkest moments, even when we are at our lowest, HIS 'moments' still stand out so vividly. I wish I had kept a journal of all those little moments. The times that the timing of a song, or sermon, or devotion, or the words of a friend just came at such a perfect time that there was no denying that it was HIM, reminding me that HE isn't an impersonal, far away god that is just there to tell me what to do, but a loving, attentive, just Father who truly wants His children to be strong and content and comforted.

Monday, September 17, 2012

From the Back Side

I went on the women's retreat for our church this weekend. The theme of the weekend's study sessions was 'Parables from the Backside' (by J. Ellsworth Kalas). The point was to look at the parables of JESUS from a different viewpoint. It really made one think about how we really don't all see things the same. Each of us is on our own walk with GOD, each of us is on a different place on the path towards spending eternity with HIM. And those different places on the path make us see things in our own ways.There are so many questions, so many things to learn about HIM, and about Heaven and eternity. And there are so few answers that are black and white.

Sometimes it seems like the more questions we ask, the less we know. Not that we lose knowledge, but that we realize how much there is to know, and how little we truly understand.

Soon I start my classes... the first step on the road to becoming an ordained minister. I am excited about the learning... I saw the titles of the classes I'll be taking down the road and they sound really exciting. How much will I learn, and how much will I realize I don't know??? What will I see from the 'backside' that will change my understanding of my GOD? How will my relationship with HIM change and grow thru this journey? Is that the purpose of HIM sending me on this journey? To draw me closer to His side? I will be the first to admit that I don't always look to HIM first. I worry, I doubt, I ponder, I try to process, but I don't always turn to HIM and humble myself to ask for His help. This new journey isn't one I will be in control of, and it isn't one I can do on my own. I so need His help and grace, His strength and courage. Maybe that is the real purpose... the 'backside' purpose to this. And the end goal...becoming one of His shepherds, is just how I am suppose to use what I learn and how I grow.

My Lord and Strength... please help me see You in all of this. Please help me to recognize Your strength and grace along the journey, and to accept all You are freely giving me. In Your precious Son's name, Amen.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Mission and A Peace

Last night Pastor challenged us to write our life's "mission statement" as we thought GOD would write it. The only thing I could think was simply... Serve HIM. As I set out on this new journey, I don't  really have a clear picture of what that service will look like. I know I keep thinking 'pastor', that is what I am looking towards as my final destination. But even in that role, there are so many different ways to serve. Will I serve in a small church or a large one? Will I be the kind of pastor that people feel comfortable going to for counsel? Will I work more with younger people? Or will it be the older brothers and sisters that I am more involved with? What will it be like to be on the other side of the pulpit each week?
I keep waiting for the worry and panic about all the changes I am facing to set in. And it hasn't. I keep wondering how it is that I am feeling such a peace about this. After all, I am looking at leaving my home... both the house that we have worked so hard to make ours, and the spiritual home that my church has become for me. I am looking at starting fresh in a new town and a new adventure that, if I am honest, I don't know fully how I will ever succeed at. But all I keep thinking is that GOD is in charge, and if HE wants me to succeed, I will. And as far as moving... well, since GOD is everywhere, and all my friends have phones... I guess that will be doable too.
And as for the peace.... "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to GOD. And the peace of GOD, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in CHRIST JESUS". That certainly fits, because I have no understanding when it comes to this new peace I am feeling... just that it has to have come from HIM.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Love Language

I listen in on my kids a lot. It's interesting to hear the conversations they have sometimes... enlightening even :)
One thing seems to happen a lot though. Some of my kids like to help... maybe one of their love languages is 'acts of service'. I am the same way, it is how I show others that they are important to me, to do something to make their day easier, or their load lighter. But, I don't know if my kids are too prideful, or if they are too independent, or what the issue is, they don't like to let people help them. I don't know how many times I have heard one of them offer help only to have to one being helped yell back 'no! don't! I can do it myself!'. What is up with that? Why are we so quick to refuse help from others? Why are we so quick to assume that the other person will be put out or inconvenienced by helping us? I know I have done it all too often. I don't want anyone to go out of their way, yet I never feel like I am going out of my way when I offer to help someone. What is up with that??
We are suppose to be JESUS' hands and feet, and voice in this world. We are suppose to serve others, both those we know and love, and those we don't. Doesn't that mean that we should also support fellow Christians in fulfilling that 'call'?When we deny someone the opportunity to serve, is that ok? I keep telling my kids that. That if they don't let their brother or sister help them, they are denying that person the opportunity to serve them, and to obey and serve GOD.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What do I Love Most About my Church?

I am on a committee that is working on a stewardship campaign designed to increase the people in the congregation's personal connection to the church. One of the things we are doing is to have people answer a few questions about their feelings for the church. Each person will have the opportunity to write their answer to each question on a heart that will then be displayed in the church.

The first question is "What do you love most about our church?"

My first thought was that that was an easy question to answer, but the more I thought about it, the more things I thought about, and the harder it is to narrow it down to one thing. Of course I love many of the people there, I have friends there that are a constant source of love and encouragement. I love the theology, that we are GOD's hands, feet, and voice in a fallen, troubled world that so needs to know HIS love. I love the building... it is my heart's spiritual home. But I think what I love the most, what pulls my heart there the most, is that it is where I have learned of my GOD. It is where I have learned to hear that still, small voice that speaks to my heart. Where I have learned of who I am as a Christian, and of who I can be for HIM. It is where I found my spiritual voice. What do I love most about my church? The whole package... the building, the people, the spiritual connection... I am so blessed to be a part of it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Our Own Personal 'Patronus'

I was watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban today while ironing (I know... Harry Potter... but that is another post some other day). This was the movie where Harry has to learn how to fight off 'dementors'... creepy creatures who suck the happiness out of their victims, even robbing them of their souls if not stopped. The weapon used to fight off these terrible creatures is called a 'patronus' and it physically stands between the dementor and the would be victim.
As I watched Harry's first feeble attempts at using this new weapon, I was thinking about how his struggles are very like ours when it comes to fighting off the enemy. Just like the dementors, he stands waiting to suck away every bit of happiness we posses, and if we let him, he will take it all from us. And just like Harry, we are vulnerable to the despair and hopelessness that can come from letting him in. But, just like Harry, we have a weapon we can use to fight off this real life 'dementor'... and it doesn't even require any magic, just faith.
When Harry was beginning to try out the spell that would protect him, he faltered. His confidence was shaken by the memory of being defeated by this creature before. He spoke the words that would give him protection, but he was weak and afraid. As he continued to try to work this 'magic', his confidence grew, but he was still too unsure to make it work. It wasn't until he saw himself doing the spell that he gained the confidence he needed to do the spell correctly.
We don't have a magic wand, fancy words, or a time turner (that's how he was able to see himself...long story). But we don't need any of that (and GOD says that trying to use any of those things is wrong). We have GOD's word. HE tells us that HE has given us authority through belief in JESUS to overcome the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19). If we have accepted JESUS as Savior, we have the HOLY SPIRIT in us, and HE will protect us from the enemy. That is better than any patronus could ever be. All we have to do is call on the name of JESUS, and the enemy will turn tail and run. He may come back, and he may attack even more aggressively, but he will NOT win! Like Harry, we may be haunted of times that the enemy has appeared to have victory over us. And like Harry, we may think that  we are too weak, or too inexperienced, or just too small to have victory over such a foe. But 1 John 4:4 says that the one that is in us is greater than the one that is in the world, so it doesn't matter that we aren't able to do it. HE can.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Decision Made and A Peace Found

Tonight was the closing program for the Vacation Bible School at our church. As the director I was the one who spoke to the families gathered to watch the kids preform. As I drove home I compared this year with past years. Most notable was what was missing from last year. Missing was the anxiety, complete with sweaty palms, racing heart, sick stomach and general panicky feeling. I was still a little uncomfortable, but I did it and it felt ok... wow. Since I made the decision about my future, I have felt so much more at peace in general, and specifically, I have felt much more comfortable talking to groups, even praying out loud in front of people. I have a long way to go, but I can feel that "peace that surpasses all understanding". Not to say that life is a bed of roses, well I guess maybe it is, complete with the thorns. But at least that part is headed in the right direction.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The pieces start to fit....

I wrote a post a while ago about things in our spiritual lives fitting together like pieces of a puzzle, to make the picture of our faith. Since then the idea has been rolling around in my head a lot. I like puzzles. I like the idea of getting all the pieces, and figuring out how they fit. I like the sense of accomplishment that comes with putting that last piece in, especially on a really hard puzzle....like the puzzle that life is. But does GOD really expect us to find all the pieces? Even over a lifetime of learning about HIM, does HE really intend us to figure out all of it? Or does HE want us to always have something else to work towards? I wonder if HE intentionally designed us to always have a hunger to know more of HIM, to always be striving to understand just one more facet of HIS being. HE is so big and so unfathomable, we could spend a hundred lifetimes, and never crack the surface. So how do we balance that craving to put in the last piece, with the knowledge that we will never find the last piece this side of HIS kingdom?
There are days that so many pieces have fallen into place, so many things seem clearer to me, that I feel like I would burst with the added weight of it all (good weight mind you).Days like those I have to get it out of my head (those are the days that there are a lot of posts on my blog!). Other days I feel like someone has swiped their arm across the surface of my 'puzzle' and wiped out most or even all of my progress. The amazing thing is that those pieces aren't really scattered, just rearranged into a different and sometimes more beautiful picture. The really amazing thing is that if I 'look' at those pieces, HIS fingerprints are there, on every one of them. Every one. HE didn't miss a piece. Ever. I don't know why HE loves me so much. I guess that is one piece that I will always be trying to find the place for. I guess that is one piece that really fits everywhere at the same time. Because whether it is the piece that is trusting HIM, or the piece that is believing I have received HIS grace.... HIS love is there. Whether it is the piece that is walking the path HE has laid out for me, or the piece that is surrendering everything to HIM... HIS love is there. Every piece is colored with HIS amazing, unending, unconditional, unbelievable love. And it makes a beautiful picture.


My kids and I watched 'The Shunning' today. It's a story of an Amish girl who is shunned by her community for the offense of 'drifting away' from her community's beliefs. Watching the main character endure the rejection of her friends and family was heartbreaking. Imagine, for nothing more than following your heart, the people who are suppose to love and support you turning away. Imagine, knowing that the rules your community lives by are not in accordance with GOD's will for HIS children, and having to chose between what you know is right, and losing that connection we all need so desperately.
I think sometimes we get so convinced of something, that we can't see past it. We can't see the big picture for that big ugly tree that is growing in front of our eyes. We can't see that we are so focused on something that isn't even clear, that we are shutting out what HE really wants us to learn. I have some dear friends that are in deep disagreement that GOD would call a woman to serve HIM in HIS church, as pastor or elder. They believe that women who do this are disobeying HIM and HIS word. I disagree. I think that that is what has been passed down for generations, rooted in the society of the Bible, where women were not educated or respected. I think it is different now. JESUS came to show us a new way, to show us that GOD isn't about rules and restrictions. HE doesn't want us to quibble over the little things, HE doesn't want us to be divided by these silly beliefs that don't do anything to honor HIM. HE wants us to see HIS love, and pass it on. HE wants us to go and make disciples, to teach others of HIS love and grace. HE wants us to live for HIM and in HIM. And if we are doing that, how can that be wrong?
It seems to me that everything is either of GOD or of the devil. If someone feels called to follow GOD, to give everything to obey HIM, how can that not be of HIM? How can leading others in the faith, teaching others of HIS love, helping others grow closer to HIM, how can that be something of the devil? It isn't!!! It has to be of HIM! I can't imagine that GOD wouldn't be smiling when HE sees one of HIS children leading another to HIM, helping that amazing relationship to grow. I can't believe it would matter one bit whether the 'leader' were male or female, whether they had different skin color, or chose a lifestyle that wasn't according to HIS will. Certainly HE has rules HE has given us... and for good reason. HE calls us to be a people set apart, to be in the world but not of the world. But those rules are there to remind us that HE has a plan for us, a beautiful, amazing, eternal plan. Not to make us feel guilty, or condemned, or less than anything but HIS. The Bible says that the only thing we have to do to have eternal life with HIM in Heaven is to accept JESUS as Savior. That's it. Not wear certain clothes, or love certain people. Not reject someone's call... whether we agree that it is a call or not. Not listen to certain songs, or read certain books, or avoid certain businesses based on the beliefs of the owners. Those things are something we need to consider as we make our way as Christians, but not because it makes us more acceptable to HIM. We do those things because our actions honor or dishonor HIM. Our choices reflect our beliefs and our words reflect our characters. I believe HE wants us to stand by our beliefs. Who are we as Christians if we don't? But if we stand by them to the extent that we condemn someone just because they don't agree with us... what does that show the world about Christians? More importantly, what does it show the world about CHRIST???

LORD in Your mercy, hear this my prayer... 
I pray LORD, that no one would ever feel 'shunned' by my actions, my words or my beliefs. I pray that I will always speak Your Truth in love, so that others will know You through my life. I pray that You will give me discernment, and wisdom, and clarity in the decisions that I have to make in my life. Please guide my way, light my path, and make clear to me what Your will is for my life. In JESUS' name I pray. Amen

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just a Wondering....

I woke up this morning at home... not at camp. I love camp in general, but the camp that I just came home from is a beautiful place. In fact, the name means 'beautiful spiritual place in the hills', a perfect name for a tranquil place. In the woods, near the edge of the lake, is a little outdoor chapel, further along the path is an outcropping of rocks that juts out into the water. I was able to spend some time at both of these places this week, praying and thinking, and just soaking in the presence of GOD. I wonder though, why is it that some places touch us more deeply in a spiritual place? What is it about a quiet little clearing, filled with rustic benches and a simple cross that pulls me closer to my Creator? What is it about sitting with a friend, praying to our Lord, looking over the water in the quiet of morning that brings home to me how much HE loves me? I am so thankful that I have opportunity to spend time in places that open up that part of my spirit and allow me to draw closer to HIM. What a blessing!!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Roses, Thorns and Buds

One of the things I did with my group at camp was a camp tradition called 'Roses, Thorns, and Buds'. While sitting around our campfire (or one night around an 'flashlight fire' when we... the adults... were too tired to do a real campfire) I would ask one of the kids to share their 'rose' (something they loved that had happened that day), their 'thorn' (something they didn't like that had happened that day), and their 'bud' (something they were looking forward to the next day). Each day, each kid came up with more than one rose, often they would have no thorn for the day, and they always had at least one or two bud for the next day. Their enthusiasm was awesome. And their excitement over even the littlest adventure was contagious. How great would it be if we approached life like these little kids? If we truly looked at life as a little child. GOD sets before us a new adventure in HIS name every day. Do we look at those adventures like those kids looked at a day filled with songs, games, hikes and canoe trips? Do we list our many roses and buds and anticipate the coming day with enthusiasm and excitement? Or do we agonize over and dwell on the thorns? Do we let the few thorns that creep in choke out the many many roses, and hide the buds from our sight? What if we took a lesson from those kids, and fairly danced with excitement at the thought of new adventure? Imagine what our lives would look like!! A garden full of excitement, full of amazement at the beautiful 'flowers', blessings our GOD has planted for us!!! I pray that those kids I spent half the week with will never stop focusing on the roses, never stop looking for the buds in their lives, and that they will never allow the thorns to choke out their love of life.

Raise up a Child

The past few days I have been at the camp that is connected to our church. I had been asked to volunteer as director of a half week session where kids duckling #4's age come with an adult and experience camp life. What an experience! We had a small group, just four (sometimes five) kids and their parents. And what fun we had!!! We swam, canoed, sang songs, played games, did crafts, hiked, explored nature, and cooked our lunch in the rec hall (we were suppose to cook outside, but there were thunderstorms, so inside we went). But most importantly, it was an opportunity to share GOD's word with these small people. And they got it! It was so humbling to see how these innocent little kids just got how much their Heavenly Father loves and cares for them. It made me think about how the Bible says that if you raise up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:). I did not grow up going to church regularly, we may have gone occasionally, but it wasn't part of our daily lives, and talking about GOD certainly wasn't something that we did. My kids hear about HIM on  a daily basis, HE is part of life.
At the camp every morning they have something called morning watch where the counselors do a little devotion/worship time, with songs, Scripture reading, and sometimes a skit. One day it was the Parable of the Sower. I wonder what seeds will grow in these kids that I served with this week? What will they remember from that time spent at camp? Will it be the games, the songs, the hikes, or the canoe trip? Or will it be the morning watch, and the message that GOD loves them unendingly? Will they remember the "Roses, Buds, and Thorns" (more about that later), or praying around the campfire? What will they take with them that will shape their faith, and thus their lives as they grow in their faith? At 'our' camp people tend to come back year after year, it really is like a small (or maybe not so small) community, so I look forward to watching these young people grow and mature. I can't wait to see the adults they become!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Summons

The Summons (John Bell # 2130 in The Faith We Sing hymnal)

verses 1,2, 4, and 5

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known, 
Will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?

Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?
Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?
Will you risk the hostile stares 
should your life attract or scare? 
Will you let ME answer prayer in you and you in ME?

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?
Will you quell the fear you hide and never be the same?
Will you use the faith you've found to reshape the world around, 
through My sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?

LORD, Your summons echoes true when You but call my name.
Let me turn and follow You and never be the same.
In Your company I'll go, where Your love and footsteps show.
Thus I'll move and live and grow in You and You in me.

I have loved this hymn for years, it's one of the ones I have learned to play. I love the tune, but the words speak volumes. Will we follow HIM when HE calls us? Will we go wherever HE leads, even if it is somewhere we never pictured going, or something we never imagined we could or would do? Even if that means leaving ourselves behind, and facing leaving behind those who won't or can't support us in our decision to follow HIM? Will we spread the news of HIS amazing love, and HIS unending grace? Even if doing all that HE asks means loving who HE made us... flaws and all? Even if it means facing fears that we have always tucked away so that we can change the world for HIM. It doesn't matter if we only change our little part of the world... if we are doing what HE asks, it is enough. When we listen for that small voice, when we follow HIM, our lives will never -ever- be the same.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pocket Rocks update

I still carry my pocket rocks... I am getting better at remembering the verses and their 'addresses'. But I have changed something... I use to chose the rocks based on how I was feeling, or what I knew the day might bring my way. Then one day I was at church and had my box of pocket rocks (I was working on making more). A friend was there, and I asked her if she wanted to pick a pocket rock, and she reached into the box and took one without looking. She just let GOD pick the one she would take. It got me thinking. After all, HE knows better than I do what the day will bring. And HE knows my heart far better than I do, so if I trust HIM to lead me where I need to go, I can start with something as small as which verses from HIS word I will carry that day. And I have been humbled by what HE has chosen for me so many times. Like the day I picked Exodus 3:12 "GOD said 'I will be with you'" and thought about it when I was feeling lonely. Or the day after I had trouble praying and picked Ephesians 3:12 "In HIM and through faith in HIM we may approach GOD with freedom and confidence". So, I am continuing to let HIM lead me in even this seemingly small thing. Because really, it's not so small a thing. Carrying the rocks with me has helped me, it has been a reminder that as close as those rocks are to my physical self, HE is to my spiritual self. They also are an easy way to help me memorize HIS word, so that in those moments that I need to connect with HIM, and I can't find the words, I can use the ones HE has given us.

HIS call

I have been thinking and praying a lot lately. Let me start at the beginning...
A little less than two years ago Pastor approached me to ask if I would co lead the Discipleship Bible Study she was offering. My husband already planned to take it, and I hadn't decided if I was going to take it with him or not. When she asked I was surprised, I am very shy and public speaking was not exactly something I loved to do, so I wasn't sure why she asked me. She just said that GOD had put it on her heart to ask me, and told me to pray about it and let her know. So I did. And I couldn't come up with any reason not to, so I agreed to do it. And found that it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and I enjoyed it. Then she asked me to do a witness for tithing in church one Sunday... and again, I didn't know that I wanted to, but I agreed, and it went well. I have now done that twice, both times it was easier than I thought it would be, and I was glad I did it. Then she asked a friend and I to fill in for her (I wrote about this when we did it back in January). Again, I felt good doing it, and was glad I had accepted the opportunity to serve HIM, and to serve in my church. Through all this, Pastor has been encouraging me, helping me to get past some things that were holding me back from letting myself hear GOD's call. She had mentioned a few times that I might consider that GOD was calling me to serve somehow. And I listened... and convinced myself that there was no way HE was calling me to anything other that just serving in my church, where I am comfortable and loved and where I feel at home. But in the last few weeks something changed.
I have been thinking about what GOD wants me to do. Does HE want me to be a lay speaker (actually, I took the basic course already), or a certified lay minister, or a pastor??? I prayed and prayed and prayed, and it didn't seem any clearer. When I did the service at the beginning of July, I had prayed that if HE wanted me to consider becoming a pastor, that HE needed to make it clear, because I didn't want to do it if it wasn't His plan for me (I wasn't sure I wanted to do it even if it was His plan to be completely honest). I asked Him to help me to discern whether serving Him that way was what I needed to do. And doing the service felt... right. It felt like I was where I needed to be, and that it was something that I could do...with Him. So I have been praying that HE would give me some kind of indication what was next. I talked to Pastor about going for the training for Certified Lay Minister. It sounded good, but when I prayed about it... nothing. So last night I got to church early and spent almost two hours in the sanctuary, praying and thinking about becoming a pastor... that seemed to just keep coming back, over and over, that was what I would think about. One thing kept going thru my mind..."my heart says yes, my head says no".So I ended up making a list... I like lists. One side was why my heart was saying yes (actually "YES!!!!!!!!") and the other why my head was saying no. During the service, Pastor read Luke 11:52. And then started talking about making the head/heart connection. That got my attention... I had just spent nearly 2 hours trying to do just that. Then she started talking about keys, asking us to take out our keys and select one. I chose the church key. She asked how that space that the key opened benefited our spiritual lives, and how we were called to serve in that space. I was blown away. I had asked GOD to make it clear to me what HE wanted me to do, was this His answer? After the service I asked Pastor how she chose the message that night... she just opened the Bible and let GOD lead her. So I showed her the list I had made, and she agreed that GOD was sending me a message. We had a stewardship meeting next, but then I asked her to pray with me. I just feel like a decision has been made and that it is the right one and that GOD finally got my attention. And I feel peaceful. And ready. I don't know what this new journey will bring. I am sure it won't be easy. But if it truly is what HE wants me to do, it will happen, and HE will be glorified in it. Sooooo.... keep me in your prayers. I will need it! There is a lot I have to do, and a lot I have to think about. But it will be wonderful thing!!! Because it will be with HIM and for HIM.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Common Sense and an Uncommon GOD

Theologian and ethicist Lewis B. Smedes (1921–2002) explains why we call grace amazing.
Grace is amazing because it works against the grain of common sense. Hard-nosed common sense will tell you that you are too wrong to meet the standards of a holy God; pardoning grace tells you that it’s all right in spite of so much that is wrong. Realistic common sense tells you that you are too weak, too harassed, too human to change for the better; grace gives you power to send you on your way to being a better person. Plain common sense may tell you that you are caught in a rut of fate or futility; grace promises that you can trust God to have a better tomorrow for you than the day you have made for yourself.

This was in one of the daily devotionals that I receive each day. It struck me as very profound, yet so simple. It is so easy to be tempted to look at our faith with a common sense mentality. We are so use to basing our human relationships on what we see and what makes sense, that we forget that GOD doesn't work that way. HE doesn't see us the same way those around us do. HE loves us in spite of who we are, not because of what we do.
Sometimes I feel like life is a puzzle. Not a mystery kind of puzzle, but a put it together to get a beautiful picture kind of puzzle. There is the piece that is submission to HIS will. The piece that is acknowledging HIS omnipotence. And the piece that is accepting HIS grace without fear or doubt. There are the pieces that are learning, and trusting, and serving. And praying, and sharing our faith with those around us. Some of these pieces are easy to fit into the puzzle. They come naturally and just feel right. Others are harder. They take hard work and patience and perseverance to make them feel like they are a part of the puzzle, a part of who and what we are. But GOD says that HE will reward those who don't give up, who keep running the race. We can't try to apply common sense to an uncommon God. It just doesn't work. HE's too big and His love is too big and His grace is too big.
I think too, that it's easy to make excuse. We think that we are too unprepared, or too unequipped to serve HIM effectively. We think that we have to do everything 'just right' or we shouldn't do it at all. But it doesn't matter if we can't do it, because HE can. HE can calm our fears, HE can strengthen our resolve. And HE can, and does, equip us to do whatever it is HE wants us to do. And, I've discovered, HE is far more stubborn (can we call GOD stubborn???) than any of us can ever dream of being. HE knows what is best for us, and won't give up on us, even when we fight HIM every step of the way. Thank goodness!!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A woman from another land

Today was the first day of my kid free week, and I headed into the city to meet some friends from church at the museum. As I was driving thru the city, I was stopped at a stop light and a small, older lady was crossing the street. She was dressed as you would expect someone from maybe Africa to dress, a beautiful, flowing, printed dress. A printed cloth wrapped around her head. She walked as if she were weighed down by something. Not something physical. No, it was as if her spirit were weighed down. I wondered if she was from another land... here trying to eke out a living far from home and family and everything familiar. I imagined her tearful parting from those she loves. I see her loved ones gathered around saying goodbye; proud of her courage, yet mourning her presence that would be gone from their everyday lives. I think of those last minutes before her departure.Walking around her home, her village for the last time, running her finger over the door jam of her house. Sighing at the memories, good and bad, that shaped her life. Shaped who she is and what she will become. What thoughts were going thru her mind as she walked away that last day... knowing she may never return??
At the museum there was an exhibit about women who came from places like Rwanda. Women who escaped unthinkable fear and danger. Women who had to walk as much as 8 miles each day... or worse, send their daughters, to get firewood so they could cook for their family. And knowing that there was a good chance that they would be attacked... or worse, while on that mission. Women whose bravery humbles me. Women who feared for their lives on a daily basis. Who had to chose which of their children they would carry with them as they ran for their lives, knowing those left behind would almost certainly be killed. And even after living thru things no human should live through, they still have a joy and a courage and a peace that speaks to GOD's amazing peace. These women came here because of terrible circumstances, yet they are not bitter, and they are not living as victims. They are embracing America as their new home, they are working and excited about the opportunities available to them. They are ready for any new challenges life throws at them. It amazes me.
When I saw that woman walking this morning, I didn't know about the exhibit at the museum. But it all fits together. I wonder if she was one of the women who made the pieces on display there. Even if she isn't, she has a story. I pray it's a happy one.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My first sermon :)

I filled in today for Pastor. I was nervous (of course!), but it went well, and I enjoyed it. I still need to work on slowing down, and speaking up, but people liked what I had to say, and I even had one person say it was the perfect message for her in her life now... wow!!!! It was a great experience, and I think I need to think more about some things...
Here is the sermon I gave.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LbDkJS39Zo  (video of it on youtube)

Isaiah  40:31
31 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

They that wait upon the LORD...
We don't know how to wait. We live in a society of instant... instant food, instant entertainment, instant communication. Instant gratification everywhere. We have lost the skill of being patient. We are constantly looking at the clock, 'Is it my turn in line yet?' 'Is it time for my appointment yet?' 'Is the Pastor done talking yet?' We are never content to just be still and wait in the moment.
 Recently I made a long journey with my kids. For economic reasons, we drove instead of flying, lengthening the 'getting there' process considerably. The whole drive I had to fight feeling impatient. It just seemed so time consuming (and really, shouldn't traveling 850 miles consume a large amount of time??). Now, my impatience was due in part to the fact that waiting for me at the end of the trip were either my niece and nephew, or my home and husband. But part of it was just my impatience.

GOD tells us to be still, to wait upon HIM, to trust HIS timing. The Bible is full of examples of people who had to wait on HIS timing. We learn about people like Esther, who waited on GOD's timing to reveal Haman's plan to Xerxes. And Zaccariah and Elizabeth, who in their later years recieved the son they had so wanted and waited for . And Hannah, who also recieved a much yearned for son. We also learn about people who weren't content to wait on the LORD, to trust HIS timing. Like Abraham and Sarah, whose decision to 'help' GOD fulfill HIS promise of an heir resulted in the birth of Ishmael, a plan they ended up regretting.

 Sometimes GOD's timing seems wrong to us, we hear HIS promises and we want them NOW. We hear a particularly moving sermon, and we want it applied to our lives instantly. We want to skip the journey, skip the discomfort of sitting there for what seems like forever waiting for what is on the other end.

A few times on our trip I imagined what a convenience it would be to be able to just push a button and *poof* be where I wanted to be. But then I would have missed so much. I would have missed the conversations with my oldest daughter, who sat next to me the entire ride, chatting and being silly. I would have missed mine and my kids excitement at seeing parts of our country that we never have, the Erie Canal, Lake Erie, the cute little fake buffalo on the side of the highway, the charming little shops and B&Bs that line some of the less traveled roads we navigated.

 I would have missed seeing the vineyards that stretch on for hours, and the freshly plowed cornfields, and the many many beautiful churches that line the road as we got closer to our destination. I wouldn't have had that rush of excitement when familar landmarks began to surround me on the way home. And perhaps most importantly, I would have missed the opportunity to get to the end of the journey and feel that sense of accomplishment and capability that I, who really hates leaving my comfort zone, who worries about the silliest things, sucessfully got myself and my four kids safely there, with no mishaps, no meltdowns, no problems. Life is sometimes  like that journey that we took. Sometimes it seems to go on forever, with no end in sight, with no relief from discomfort or stress.  Sometimes it seems like it would just be nice to press the fast forward button and skip over the difficult parts and get to the reunion at the end of the trip. But what would we miss out on if we could skip to the 'good stuff'? For one thing, we might miss the little joys that are scattered in amongst the difficulties.

 A few weeks ago I was having a 'pondering' day. I do that sometimes, just kind of spend a day thinking and pondering and praying. Days like that usually leave me feeling kind of drained and mentally exhausted, so I don't do anything or go anywhere, avoiding having to deal with the world. But this day a friend stopped by and wanted to go pick up veggie plants for our gardens, so I told her I would pick her up in a while and we would go.

When I arrived at her house, I was (for lack of better word) swarmed by five of her youngest kids. After making sure everyone got their hugs I chatted for a few minutes. Then I noticed some perfect pocket rocks, rocks that I could use to write Bible verses on to stick in my pocket. The kids quickly started helping, finding a good number of rocks for 'their' Mrs. Savoy (after all, if 'their' Mrs. Savoy wants rocks, rocks she shall have!!! I would not have been surprised if they had put every rock in their driveway in my pile, such was their enthusiasm!).

At one point the three year old was pulling on my pocket, I thought she wanted a hug, so I gave her a quick snuggle, then her mom and I left to run our errands. It wasn't until I reached into my pocket about an hour later that I found three perfect little rocks that she had slipped in there. If I had stayed home,tucked away in my little cocoon, I would have missed the joy of spending time with those sweet kids, missed their excitement over helping someone they love, and missed spending time with a dear friend.

Sometimes the journey is hard, sometimes it wears on our last nerve, sometimes we are certain we have used our last tiny bit of patience, but GOD will somehow give us strength to finish. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. Really, it's not us renewing anything. We can't. It's the LORD. It's just one more gift HE gives us, endurance.
Sometimes we feel like HE has waited a little too long to give us this particular gift, we feel like it would have been nice to have it long ago, when we could have used it to endure hardships with a little more grace and a lot less heartache. But maybe the joys wouldn't seem as amazing, if we didn't have the pain to contrast them. Maybe little things, like rocks tucked into a pocket by an 'adoring fan' wouldn't touch us as much, if we never had a day that we felt like we were alone on our journey.  And maybe we would never realize how much we can trust and lean on our GOD and Savior, if we never got to where we felt like HE was all that was sustaining us.

GOD promises us that we shall mount up with wings as eagles; (we) shall run, and not be weary; and (we) shall walk, and not faint. I have always thought of this verse in literal terms. I picture reaching Heaven and having strength and endurance that I have not enjoyed in this earthly life. I wonder though, if it is more than that. Have you ever had to get somewhere, fast, under your own power?

A few years ago my two older kids and I traveled to California to visit my brother. On the way out our connecting flight was very delayed, so we ended up having to switch flights. Good because it meant we would not have a second layover, and we woudld arrive  about two hours earlier than planned (and see my brand new niece that much sooner!). Not so good because in order to make this new flight we would have to get to the other side of the airport in about 5 minutes. No problem right?

 Yeah, no. Five minutes to get myself and two children, three carryon bags, one computer, two pocket books, oh and my pathetic lungs, across Washington DC airport, crowded with more people than I have ever seen in one place. We ran as fast as we could, the whole way I was breathlessly encouraging my kids "you can do it" "almost there" "keep going" "just a little further".

Isn't that what GOD does for us? When HE sees us pushing ourselves harder and further and longer than we think we ever could, when our strength is at it's end and we just have nothing else to give,  HE is right there encouraging us "you can do it" "keep going" "almost there".

As I said earlier, I have always seen this verse as a picture of our lives in Heaven, being able to walk and run and never grow weary or faint. It's also a picture of our lives in CHRIST I think. That if we trust and wait, if we step away from ourselves and stay closer to HIM, we will have the strength and endurance to reach the end of our journey with HIM, having experienced everything HE wants us to.

So what is it that GOD is trying to teach you in those waiting moments? What lessons will you learn if you slow down and wait upon the LORD?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Drawing a journey

Drawing a Journey.... Anonymous

If I could draw her journey, it would not be a straight path. It would be a meandering adventure. For she has traveled thru dark, ominous forests, and beautiful meadows. She has climbed the high peaks of majestic mountains, and fallen to the bottoms of the valleys . She has stood beside the vast ocean as waves of doubt, exhileration, fear, and accomplishment washed over her whole being. Her journey has taken her from a place where there was little joy or hope, and it is ever growing closer to that wonderful place. What wonderful place? That glorious mansion that is even now being built by the loving hands of her Maker. Just for her. Along the journey there have been many voices that have called out to her. Some have been mocking, taunting, bruising. Others have been encouraging, uplifting, loving. It has been hard for her, at times, to push aside those that tear down, and listen to those that build up. But even in those despair filled valleys, even in those dark forests, those dear voices are still there, faint and far away, but there. They are telling her... 'GOD loves you! JESUS died for you! The HOLY SPIRIT wants to carry you thru these storms! Rejoice!' And she hears, and her heart is healed. If I could draw her spirit, it would be a jumble of color. There would be the brightness of joy... for those times when her soul was singing, and she wanted to shout from the rooftops "HE loves you like this too!!!". There would be the somber grayness of grief and regret when loss threatened to overcome her being and pull her away from the only One who could heal her. There would be the calm hues of peace, that though in the dark times it seemed so far away and unreachable, was there in the times that she just rested in her LORD, knowing that HE was and is the truth and the life, her life. And there would be the stormy darkness of fear and depression that has a heavy weight of its own. A weight that would have crushed her had her GOD not had her sheltered under HIS mighty, loving hand. A weight that made her want to cut the journey short, go straight to HIM. But HE said no. It wasn't time.  And so she obeyed. And thru it all, HE was there, calling her name. Often she didn't know what HE was saying, what HE was calling her to... so she waited. She did her best to live her life the way HE would want her to. But there was something more. Something she couldn't name, that HE wanted her to do. So she waited. And in the meantime, she told her children HIS story. Of how HE loves them with a love so big, and so pure, and so true, that they could never imagine it. Of how HE came to live for them... and die for them. Of how even though the people who love them will make mistakes, will disappoint them, will maybe even hurt them, HE never will. And her children knew HIM. And her heart was glad. Throughout her journey she often felt alone. But HE has always been there, walking before- and with her. When she was singing and rejoicing... HE was there singing and rejoicing too. When she was confused and unsure, HE was pointing the way thru HIS word. When she was wounded and in pain... HE gently put her finger in the wounds in HIS hands and side. And when she was on her knees begging for relief and release... HE was on HIS knees too, in a garden, hearing HIS Father and Maker saying 'no'. And some beautiful day HE will take her hand, and together they will walk thru the gates at the end of her journey. Until then, they walk on.  If I could draw her heart... HE would be there, imprinted in love.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another trip out of my 'zone'

Only four days until Sunday. I am filling in for Pastor, doing the service on my own this time. The worship leader will do a lot of the reading (prayers and such), but I am doing the sermon and the children's sermon and that kind of stuff. I am surprised to find that I am nervous, but not panicky. I am not feeling freaked out, just nervous and a little excited. I was going to have a friend help, do the joys and concerns and the benediction, but I decided to see if I could do it. Well, I know I can do it, GOD will give me the courage to do it. I really want to see if it is something that feels right. (Does that make sense?) I don't know that the sermon is anything spectacular, but it is from my heart. I don't know that anyone's life will be changed, or if anyone's heart will be moved. But I will give it my best, and serve my GOD with joy!

So.... keep me in prayer! For strength, calm, courage, and a clear mind. And that I will listen to the HOLY SPIRIT!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

GOD did it again :)

 HE did it again!!! I put little tiny bits of nothing in the ground, and GOD made them grow!
<-- look!! carrots!!! (ok, they are really small still, but they are there!!)

This wind chime makes beautiful music.

I had to tie the peas back because they were going crazy and threatening to attack anyone who walked down the row :)

The lettuce is growing, I should have planted more!

I am going to have plenty of onions this winter. I planted three different kinds.

I am still amazed at the miracle of planting those little tiny flecks of promise. Every year GOD follows thru, and good things begin appearing. Despite my decidedly brown thumb, every year food comes from those seeds. Go figure!!!
Thank you GOD!!!!!

hymns and prayers

Today Pastor did the sermon about singing, singing in church specifically, but I of course have been pondering on this since. I have posted before that I love music. I love listening to it, I love singing it, and more recently I have learned to love playing it on the piano. When I am in a song... in whatever way I am enjoying it, it fills me and moves me and takes me places I can't go on my own. Sometimes, when my soul is aching, and I need to get closer to my GOD, music is what gets me there. When I want to tell HIM something, and can't find the words, often it's a song that says it for me. When I am singing a song (because,even when I am listening to or playing a song, I am singing), it is a connection between me and my Heavenly Father that isn't possible in any other way. Pastor talked about a (for lack of better word) disagreement that happened in our church a few weeks back, some people wanted to cut the last hymn short, and others of us didn't. I understand that some people want to finish on time, they have things they have planned or whatever. But cutting short a hymn is like cutting short a prayer. Would we say to GOD "sorry, don't have time to say all I had planned to you today, I have to get home to see the game" Of course not. So why cut short hymns, which for many are a prayer?
One thing I have trouble with is looking up when I am singing. Pastor pointed out that we should look up, smile, have fun... and I agree. But, sometimes for me, when I am in the 'zone' (sounds tacky, but couldn't think of how else to word it!) I don't want to see everyone out in the congregation. I just want to sing from my heart to GOD's and not be distracted by the fact that people are possibly looking at me. Silly I know, but it's one more thing to work on :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pocket Rocks

I started something recently. I began collecting rocks and writing Bible verses on them (well, mostly Bible verses... I have one that says 'Let go and Let GOD' and one that is heart shaped that has my husbands initials and mine, and says tla (true love always)). Every day I think about what has been on my heart, or what I have been struggling with, and find a rock (or two or three or more!) that will help me with that particular struggle, and I carry those rocks in my pocket. I'm finding that it really helps to have GOD's word in my pocket, ready to reassure me and remind me that whatever the situation, GOD has words of comfort and power for me to claim.

Last night I led the midweek service at church for the first time. I was nervous, and chose about a dozen rocks (too many by the way, they were weighing down my pants!). I chose ones like "Do not be anxious about anything" (Phil. 4:6a) and "GOD did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and love and of self discipline". Also... Matthew 19:26 (With GOD all things are possible"), Isaiah 41:13 (For I am the LORD your GOD who takes hold of your right hand and says to you 'do not fear, I will help you'), and Gen. 18:14 (Is anything too hard for GOD?). It was very comforting to have HIS word right there where I could read them and feel HIS comfort. When it was time to do the service, it was much easier than I thought it would be. Pastor's husband had to remind me once to speak up, but other than that I think it went well! I really concentrated on speaking clearly (I tend to speak very quickly when I am nervous) and being loud enough for everyone to hear. I think it was good that I had the chance to do it, I am doing the Sunday service the beginning of July, and I think it will be a little easier now that I have had a little practice. And I was surprised to realize that I kind of enjoyed it :).

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Waiting Patiently

The two littlest ducklings and I went to a work day at 'our' camp yesterday. As I was walking to the porch on the rec hall I saw movement out of the corner of my eye, so I slowed down to investigate. There were four (possibly 5) little baby groundhogs!!! Of course anything baby gets my attention, but I love watching baby animals. They just have so little apprehension when it comes to anything that doesn't threaten them. Before lunch I had a few free minutes, so I just sat down about 6 feet from their 'home' and waited. Before long I was rewarded for my patience with the sight of their cute little noses poking out to smell for danger. I guess I wasn't scary, because they slowly inched their way out, until one was close enough I could have reached out and grabbed it for a quick cuddle (nope, I didn't, wasn't sure where Mama was). As long as I was patient, and still, they were content to come out of hiding and enjoy a meal of grass and whatever that plant is to the right of them in the picture. The minute I tried too hard, or moved too quickly, they would scurry back into the safety of their home. In the twenty minutes that I sat there, I was able to really watch them quite closely. I could see the softness of their fur, and the brightness of their eyes. I got to watch as one stretched his tired little muscles, getting comfy and relaxed after his big meal. And, of course, it got me thinking. Yeah, that happens a lot.
Being still is the biggest challenge for me in my faith. I want everything to happen now!!!! And I often feel like I need to do something to make it happen. I am rarely content to just sit by and wait, even for GOD to show me the way. I hear a sermon, and something in it sticks with me, and I have to read and read and read as much as I can find, until I feel like I have a better handle on it. I guess that is good, but being still and waiting for GOD to teach me is not usually something I think of or practice.
The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him. Psalm 37:7a

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10
I guess the trick is finding the balance. Finding the balance between overloading on everything I can get my hands on, and doing nothing. Between searching and listening. And between doing and waiting.  I don't think we are always suppose to sit and wait, we are suppose to learn all we can about HIM and HIS word so that we are  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15. But we aren't suppose to be so busy that we can't hear HIS voice speaking to our hearts.
Today was Pentacost Sunday. It is a remembrance of the day that JESUS sent the Holy Spirit to be with us until HIS return. I sat there thinking about the Holy Spirit. About how it must be different for different people. Pastor was talking to the kids about it, and was explaining how the Holy Spirit nudges us sometimes. I like that word... nudges. I can think of a few times that I did something that I wouldn't have done, tucked my spare van key into my pocket before an outing... only to have the key I was using break while I was trying to get all the kids loaded into the car. Or the time I kept feeling 'nudged' to give a Sister in Christ some coupons I had for free milk and groceries... to have her tear up and thank me because she didn't have the money to buy groceries that week. Or the many times, when my friend was recovering from an injury or illness that I called at supper time and asked if they needed supper, because I had made too much, to have her thank me profusely because she hadn't had the energy to cook something yet. Nudges. Not fanfare, just gentle nudges. I often think 'man, I wish the Holy Spirit would  be more 'vocal' in my life', and then I miss all those little things that are a blessing to me, and that allow me to be a blessing to others. I know people that gush on about how they experience spiritual 'fireworks', how they sometimes feel overcome by the spirit. I think that's great, and if GOD chooses to bless me in that way, that would be awesome. But I haven't had that experience. My moments are quiet, usually nudging me to be more aware, or more generous, or more patient to wait on HIS timing. I occasionally have moments of "oh!!!! I get it!!! it makes sense!!!!".I love those moments, because it's like finding that piece of the puzzle that was missing. But the little, quiet moments add up to a beautiful picture too. An amazing masterpiece by the Master.

Monday, May 21, 2012

100th post!!!!!!!

100 things...
This post will be a list of 100 things, things I love, things I have learned, maybe some other stuff too. I don't know!! I just know that this is my 100th post (wooooohoooooo!!!!!) and I wanted to do something different and neat and fun. They are in no particular order, random is easier :)

Things I love...
100. the way the air smells after it rains
99. fresh fruit right off the tree/plant
98. the way a baby smells after they fall asleep on Mama
97. lilacs
96. tulips
95. plaid
94. blogging :)
93. playing the piano
92. singing
91. swimming
90. my family
89. gardens
88. helping others
87. hugs
86. snuggling under a homemade quilt
85. learning about my Creator
84. having friends visit
83. reading
82. music
81. the way clothes smell when dried outside
80. camp
79. the ocean
78. walking thru an orchard
77. babies
76. making people happy
75. fresh air on my face when I'm sleeping
74. my friends
73. my amazing kids
72. my  awesome husband
71. GOD!!!
70. riding a bike
69. spring
68. coming home
67. my church
66. surprises

Things I have learned...

65. that some people will never be happy no matter what you do
64. that those people need our prayers. And we need prayers not to punch them *not that I ever would of course ;)
63. that GOD likes to kick people out of their boxes.
62. that HE uses nice people to do this, making it harder to refuse to try new things.
61. that I don't regret saying yes to HIM :)
60. that GOD has a sense of humor
59. that I like serving in church
58. that I love love love practicing the piano. A LOT!!
57. that nobody in my house appreciates my dedication to my music. especially before 7 am.
56. that we are teeny tiny itty bitty little specks in an enormously huge universe. and GOD loves us with a love bigger than the whole thing
55. that babies grow up way way way too fast.
54. that sometimes friends don't get to grow old
53. that prayer works. just not always the way we expected.
52. that saying goodbye hurts terribly. but that for those in CHRIST we will never really say goodbye... just 'see you later'.
51. that grief doesn't last forever, it gets smaller and smaller until you can tuck it away and not be ruled by it.
50. that hugs really do make things better
49. that being prayed over is an amazing thing
48. that plants like water. and sun. and not being run over by tractors or small children.
47. that there is great satisfaction in filling shelves with food you grew and prepared and processed yourself. 
46. that you really don't ever forget how to ride a bike.
45. to trust that GOD has things under control (still working on applying this though)
44. that I can do things that I didn't think I could
43. that I have something to say... and people want to hear it (well, a few people anyway:) )
42. that a house with children in it will never stay picked up longer than it takes for the kids to realize there is empty space to play in. *sigh*
41. that JESUS takes away not only our sins, but our burdens as well.

Things I want to do someday...

40. walk where JESUS walked
39. go on a mission trip
38. go on a zip line again
37. go to college
36. rock my grandbabies
35. be baptized (my choice this time... not my parents')
34. be brave enough to do a sermon in church  (ok, this one I know is going to happen... July 1st!)

Moments I will never forget...

33. the moment I got my first kiss :)
32. the moment my sweetie proposed to me!
31. the moment I married my sweet hubby
30. the moment the test(s) were positive!!
29. the moment I heard that my stepson had died
28. the moment I first gave a children's sermon
27. the moment(s) my babies were born
26. the moment the marble stuck in my son's throat flew across the room
25. the moment the midwife said my youngest duckling was ok
24. the moment I found The Lump
23. the moment I found out The Lump wasn't cancer
22. the moment my younger son told his first joke (knock knock. who's there? snow. snow who? snow body but me!)
21. the moment I heard my friend had lost her battle with cancer
20. the moment my older daughter saved her little brother's (older son) life
19. the moment I woke up from The Dream (I'll save that story for another post)
18. the moment my maternal grandfather died
17. the moment my friend's son was stillborn
16. the moment I first held my niece
15. the moment I first held my nephew
14. the moment I first heard "I love you GuGu" (GuGu is Chinese for Aunti)
13. the moment I completed the first 15 hour trip to visit my brother and his family
12. the moment I leaned off the platform on the zip line at camp
11. the moment my paternal grandfather held my youngest child, and I knew he wouldn't live to see her again

Just random stuff cause I am running out of things to list :)

10. I lived in the same town from the time I was born until after I graduated high school
9. I took Latin in school and loved it
8. I can speak a little Chinese
7. I use to play the clarinet... and was terrible at it
6. I met my husband square dancing
5. He is the only guy I ever dated
4. I use to do drama in school and loved it
3. I was a nanny before I had kids
2. I don't know how to play chess
1. I am really shy

so there it is! My 100 things!
if you had the patience to read them all... wow!
love you all, and have a great week
In JESUS' name