Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Name them One by One

 It's no secret that I'm a meat-lover. For as long as I can remember, when mom asked me what I'd like for supper, i'd pick roast beef and mashed potatoes with rolls and gravy. I'm not the girl that will bring a beautifully put-together salad back to the table at a buffett. I go straight for the dinner plate and i'm not ashamed to admit it. As a matter of fact, on our first date, Ryan took me to a resturant and we ordered prime rib. And I ate the whole thing. And he later thanked me. He said it was nice to take a girl to dinner and see her actually eat the meal that was paid for. I had risen to the task...or maybe i'd just finally met a guy that can appreciate a girl who doesn't mind a little meat on her bones? My point is this. I appreciate a good cut of meat. I'm not interested in wasting my time on the fluff like crutons and carrotts.
 We studied Psalm 63 today in Ladie's class. It should come as no surprise to me that verse 5 stuck out to me. "My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips." I immediately thought of a picture like that above. And then my mind wandered onto a trail about what this verse is really telling me.
 David wrote this Psalm while he was in the wilderness of Judah. He was either in his flight from Saul (1 Sam 23) , or even from Absalom his son tho betrayed him. (2Sam 15) During this trial, David records his praises to his God. He's experiencing great heartache and probably great fear, yet he praises God.
 I learned a few things from this Psalm. First, I learned that David is praising God and being joyful in God's promises...yet there's not really any indication that he is HAPPY. Joy and happiness are two different things. While David is in the midst of a trial, he is joyful in God's promises, and in the big picture. Secondly, I realized that David was praising God BEFORE he knew the end result. He did not know the outcome of his relationship with his son or his king, yet he praised God anyway. He recognized that God's sovereign will was already in place and he chose to accept that. Thirdly, I kept coming back to that verse 5. God doesn't just give us good. He gives us His best. He, "satisfies us as with marrow and fatness..." I keep reading in Psalm that God's word will restore me! Psalm 19:7 says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul..." Here i've made time to run, or take a bath, or go out with the girls, or even on a date night with Ryan. My attempts at restoring my weary soul. Yet i'm so simply told that if I want to be restored, encouraged and satisfied, I should be filling my mind with the truth in God's Holy Word. That's where the good stuff is. That's the meat.
 So how can I apply this practically? How can I make sure I'm recognizing His blessings to me and praise Him in good times and bad?
 I see His hand in nature. He didn't have to give us clean rain or mountains or snow. He didn't have to allow the sun to rise every morning. He didn't have to make flowers smell good or thunder to sound so powerful. I see His hand in our country. We have freedoms here to worship Him as we choose. And really, we worship Him without much risk of danger. I have a congregation that loves the Lord and insists on obeying Him. My husband has steady work and an income that provides for our needs and wants. My children are little sinners that are already open to learning about the Lord, and have hearts open to the gospel. My children are healthy and strong. These blessings are all God's best for me. My last blessing is saved for last mention, not because of it's lesser value, but because of it's over-arching importance.
  God has given me this incredible gift of salvation! Because my salvation is not of my own doing, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not as a result of works so that no one may boast." Eph 2:8-9 Since my salvation is not of my own doing, I have the security that there's nothing I can do to loose it!  "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish: and no one will snaatch them out of My hand. My father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all: and no one is able to snatch them out ot the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30
 So interesting to me that while I started out thinking of prime rib and roast beef while reading Psalm 63, God helped make clear to me the message of the gospel!  May I choose to find the joy even when I'm not happy. My salvation is secure in Christ. And that, my friends, is the real meat of my blessings.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Breath of God

 Ryan and I consider ourselves blessed to be members of a congregation with leaders so committed to being faithful and obedient to the scripture. We are learning under an eldership and deacons that have studied the scriptures and it's original meaning in Hebrew and Greek. We've learned over the years at Countryside that it makes a huge difference in the meaning of the text when you understand what each translated word means in it's original language. We're learning to really love the scripture, God's words and their purpose in our days.
 This weekend, God brought rain, and that meant that Ryan and I got to attend our Essentials conference all weekend. No soccer! 6 different sessions focused on the essential of the Bible in our walk as a christian. We've learned so much that I thought i'd record it here for my own memory, and that it may encourage you as well!
 Our first session focused on James 1:19-21 and how we are to hear and recieve the word of God with a cultivated heart. I've never heard it explained like this before and truly, i'm forever changed! The Word says this, "This you know, my beloved bethren. But everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. For anger does not bring about the righteousness of God."
 I've always assumed this verse means that I need to use my patience and self control, listen when in conversation, and communicate more effectively. While I think this point can be applied, Scott put this verse back into context and applied it directly to my recieving the Word of God with a cultivated heart. Earlier in the same chapter, James is addressing those that find themselves temped. He specifically addresses those that are blaming God for their tempation. When verse 19 is put into context, we can clearly see that James wants us, when temped, to be quick to listen...TO THE SCRIPTURE! We should immediately seek wisdom in the scripture when tempted. Secondly, we are to be slow to speak...AGAINST GOD in our temptation. We're told ever so clearly that God does not temp us! (verse 13) And lastly, we're to be slow to anger...AGAINST GOD. We so easily tend to blame others or God in our suffering, making excuses and holding bitterness and resentment. Interesting how we can pluck a verse out of the Bible, and use it selfishly. Applying it to children to teach them to listen better to their parent, or not speak out when upset so reality, this verse, when kept in context is about our coming to the Lord for counsel and maintaining a right view of God. We must be quick to listen to His words, slow to speak against His soverign will, and slow to become angry at our circumstances. Wow, i'm still shocked at how out of context i've taken this scripture for so many years!
 Breifly, a few other points that have stuck out to me are as follows. 1) In scripture, God places much emphasis on being a LISTENER to His Word. What a huge responsibility our pastors and elders and deacons and teachers have to teach us and preach to us. I am totally convicted that while their responsibility is huge, ours as listeners is ENORMOUS. If I am showing up and listening and taking notes and seeing God's Words in front of me...yet I walk away unchanged and do not apply what i've learned, what a fool am I. I will be held responsible for what I choose to do with the words that fall upon my ears. 2 Tim 4:1 tells us that when we are hearing the Word of God preached, we are hearing from GOD HIMSELF! These words in the Bible are straight from our Lord and Savior. I'd better listen up and start to allow them to change me. This is one way God sanctifies us, grows our hearts to become more like Him. Mt. 7:24
 This morning, we heard a sermon that has placed a serious vice on my heart that I pray will never be loosened. 2 Tim 3:16 " All scripture is inspired by God..." We dug into this word, "inspired". The meaning today, as we use it, is an emotional movement. The original Greek text had the word, "pneustos" which means, "to breathe out". I remember hearing the version that said, "All scripture is God-breathed", but today it really sunk in for me. These words on my precious Bible are actually God's words. Yes, other great men penned them onto the scrolls, but God gave them just the right words at just the right time. These are the perfect words, the only words we need, nothing more, nothing less, and articulated just exactly as God intended them to be articulated for His glory. Our speaker gave the example of a statue in a room with all of the sculpting tools sitting beside. No one would ever think to give the tools the credit for crafting this sculpture, there has to be a sculpter behind those tools. So it was with the men God chose to record His words. They were simply the tools. These words are not these mens' best efforts to record their thoughts on God...these words in our Bible are God's perfect words for us to believe and trust.
 I know i've not done these lessons justice in my recap here on my blog. I guess i'm just feeling so convicted that I'm able to make time in my day to play a word game on the computer, or scroll through Pinterest but i've not carved out a time in my day to read these real words from my Lord God.
 To add salt to that wound for me, I got to see something yesterday that many will never have the opportunity to see in their lifetime. Remember that our conference was centered on the importance of the Holy Scripture in our walk? The reality of the origin of the scriptures. Our leaders arranged for a display of epic proportion. Ryan and the kids and I were all able to veiw, touch and page through the very first ever, printing of the English Bible...that means that the first time the Bible was EVER translated from Greek/Hebrew into English...that's the book we saw. And guess what? The words in that Holy Bible were exactly the same as the words in my Bible. The table also contained the first edition of the "Book of Martyrs." Talk about a gut check. Diagrams, hand drawn sketches of the punishment men and women suffered through because they refused to denounce the truth of the scripture. It's because of these men and women I even have my translation today. I honestly never realized what men and women of faith went through to protect this precious book we so flippantly leave on our counters or in our car...these Holy Words of our Lord go unnoticed in our homes.
 God has changed my heart this weekend. I'm so thankful He chose to give us an actual book to touch, translations to track, and proof that He is real, His words are true and that He is the author and perfector of our faith. What a mighty God we serve! Be encouraged, be in the Word and allow God to give you the gift of sanctification...He will change your heart to know Him more.
 Aren't these just beautiful?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fill in the blank Friday

Following my sisters' lead, here's my version!

1. The love of my life is   my Ryan. I knew I loved him when I realized that I couldn't imagine life without him.

2. Falling in love is    so fun. I love emotions and i've definately gotten to experience so many of them deeply with Ryan.

3. Marriage is   a team sport. Thankful for my teammate.
4. The longest relationship I've ever had was  10 years with my Ryan!

5. The key to a good relationship is  patience and a good work ethic. Kissing well helps too.

6. I feel loved when   Ryan tells me he's thinking of me.
7. My favorite quote about love is , "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

4 Thoughts

I've had a few thoughts today that are kind of sticking with me. They don't have any great importance, just thoughts that i'm having today. I use this blog as more of a journal of the life and times of my little family, so really, it's a place for me to reflect whether or not other people choose to read it.  Today is Valentine's Day. Most people are making plans for their date tonight, making heart shaped pancakes, and sending or recieving some hybrid of flower.
 I've done none of the above...and my thoughts have mostly taken a different path today! My first thought is that Leah's "boyfriend" at school is bringing her something special today. I'm looking forward to seeing what this gift may be. I'm hoping for a hand-written card of some sort that I can tuck away in her baby book.
 My second thought for the day is that i'm feeling a little violated with Leah's new reading skills. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing listening to her decode and read with fluency already. She's really loving shocking us with what she can read. I find her reading my e-mails and facebook status over my shoulder, thoughtfully sorting through the mail, trying to answer my texts, and even questioning my meal plan for the week on my calendar. I've lost this portion of privacy and it's kind of weird!
 The third thought on my mind is again, prompted by my current reading selection. A city kid is living on the farm with the main characters of the story, his father is trying to un-city him a bit. The kid, Jonathan, loves the manual labor he is doing, and is learning the lesson that all farmers learn. Animals and crops grow and die, flourish and perish all by the hand of God. Jonathan is learning to recognize that a 100% dependence on God's will each season is what will sustain this family, and Jonathan while he is there. It's gotten me thinking that back in the day, this was a common perspective. People worked hard for their own food, grew it and then refined it and baked it, canned it, pressed it and re-grew it. They raised their own livestock and spun their own wool and hauled their own water. They cut down the trees to build their own homes. If there was a fire, they lost everything. If there was a flood or hail, their crop was destroyed. My train of thought here is that I wish we had more of this mindset today. I believe that part of the reason we don't know how to "pray without ceasing", is because we're handed most things on a silver platter...or in a Target bag...or in an Amazon box. It's so easy to go and get what we need or want, and really, not have to put forth much thought or effort to get it. While I acknowledge I do not want to live on a farm and squeak out my own existence, and while I will be the first to admit that I love my running water and washing machine,  I do believe I'll continue to make our strawberry jam. The hard work makes it taste even sweeter.
 My last thought for the day is more along the lines of Valentine's day. (I'm not completely immune.) It used to bother me that Ryan didn't have a sweet tooth to speak of. I think it made me feel a bit self conscious about how much I REALLY liked  the stuff. All of it. While I've outgrown what i'd consider my sweet tooth, I still enjoy an indulgence now and then. Today i'm thankful that he's not a fan because i'm the happy recepient of all the treats his soccer kids give him. And he has a lot of soccer kids. And I have a hankering. And so I shall recieve.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Prayer

"Please, Lord, take care of Haakan. If there is something wrong, bring healing, give him the strength to do what he feels needs to be done. I know You love him better than I can. I thank You for giving me such a fine man to love and grow old with."
 Ingeborg from A Touch of Grace. (Lauraine Snelling)

 This is a perfect example of why I love this author and series so much. Ingeborg is noticing her husband, who farms their enormous acerage in North Dakota, is slowing down a bit. She's discussing how she's not going to fear and this is the prayer she says. Look at the example it is for me in my attitude toward my husband. What an encouragement these words are to me. I'm reminded that I'm certainly not the expert on loving Ryan, nor do I always have his best interest in mind, even though I think I do. What a simple way to keep my priorities straight, my husband lifted in prayer and my fears in check.
 "Please, Lord, take care of Ryan. Thank you for giving him the strength to do the work you've set before him. I know You love him better than I can. I thank You for giving me such a fine man to love and grow old with."
 May I do a better job of lifting my husband in prayer, and may I be more thankful for God's provision in our marriage.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Brush Your Teeth!

Today, Leah was chosen to help demonstrate dental hygiene for the kids at school!
 "Mommy, they put a sheet on me with a hole for my head, and I looked like a tooth!"

 Yucky cavity.
 Haha! She loved it!
 This nasty stuff was supposed to represent cavities!
This was the mouthwash. So cute!
Part of the reason this makes me
so happy is becaue Leah had such
a routh pacth there for awhile at school.
She didn't want to GO to school,
let alone talk to other kids or teachers.
Now here she is having fun being the
center of attention for a few minutes!
Love seeing our Leah Beth back.
Happy and confident, learning and leading!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bird Books

I post this picture for 3 reasons.
#1 is that it's just cute. The kids are drawing birds in their, "Bird Books".
#2 I love this picture because I kind of like that my kids have a, "Bird Book". It was their idea to draw the birds they see, and look up their names to write underneath their picture. I love that my kids are a little bit nerdy. (Leah and Logan, when you read this someday, please know that I mean that in the most loving way possible. I'd much rather you be keeping a scientific journal of sorts, than playing a video game or watching a movie.)
#3 Ryan made Leah's book about a year ago. They decided together, how it should look, and together, they enjoy watching the birds outside and recording their information inside. Ryan and the kids keep a birdfeeder outside of our livingroom window, filled so that together, the three of them can watch the birds. I've never been that into birds, but I love that the three of them have that special tradition. Last night, Logan asked Ryan to make him a "bird book", so they started the process. Time ran out so it was all left in pieces on the kitchen table overnight. Ryan had 2 games this morning right in the middle of church, so he got home before we did. He had to head out to another game before we got home and sent me a text that said he left a surprise for Logan on the table. We walked in the door, and the book was all finished! Ryan's drill was also on the table...Ryan used his few minutes at home this morning to finish Logan's "Bird book" for him. Sheesh, I love that guy! And look at these kids...they took their books straight outside and started recording data before they even changed out of their church clothes. And I peeked through my bedroom window and snapped their picture. I'm a happy mama.

Friday, February 3, 2012


 Some may say that Pinterest is a waste of time...I say that if it gives me an idea for time well spent with my kids, it's totally worth it! MMM, pretzel bites!

On another note, maybe a little update on the kids is in order? We've been busy, busy, busy here! Leah's enjoying gymnastics again and has even told me a few times that she's thinking about trying soccer again soon. Leah's back to loving school. She is generally awake in her bed before I can get there to wake her up in the morning. She jumps up and get herself dressed and is sitting down to eat breakfast before i've even brushed my teeth! Leah hadn't been eating breakfast the entire school year and the months of October through December, wasn't eating her lunch at school. Her tummy feels better. God, in His goodness, moved the difficult child in Leah's class to a new school! We're so thankful for her positive change in behavior and that she's feeling more like her old self again. She's reading like crazy, street signs, commercials and recipes...and a few nights ago, she read a magazine in the bathtub. It was pretty funny! She's gotten 100% + the bonus word on her spelling tests! This week her bonus word was, "crunch". She continues to be a friend to every kid in her class, and I love watching her walk in every morning. I hear, "Leah!" from all her classmates. 2 weeks ago, my dad looked at her and then me and said, "Where'd you get that little lady?" She's really growing up fast and coming into her own personality and routine. Pretty amazing to watch her grow!
 Logan is a clown. I bet if I looked back over the 4 years of blog posts i've written on him, most of them probably start out that way. The three of us are constantly asking him to repeat something funny he's said, or make a face, or dance, or re-tell a dream. My favorite Logan moments lately, happen everyday. Typically, early afternoon, I hear a sweet little song being sung from the front of the house. I know I can find Logan using the restroom, singing his little heart out. He's such a happy little soul. He quotes movies all the way through, sings along with commercials and hears music everywhere. The windchime outside, the knock at the front door and the humm of the vaccuum. He comes to the trail with me a few days a week and rides his bike while I run. He's proven to be a reliable pal during the day for me and i'm enjoying his tender heart. I'm so thankful that i've got a whole other school year with him at home before he goes to Kindergarten.
 Ryan and I are doing well. We are blessed beyond anything we deserve. Ryan's enjoying his new role with Sting Soccer Club and we're enjoying having him home more on the weekends! He actually has a chance to rest up and recover from his long weeks. I'm enjoying the new little guy i'm keeping 4 afternoons a week. He's 8 weeks old and I keep him from 2-5ish every M, T, Th and Friday. The kids really love having him here and I'm not gonna lie...i'm seriously enjoying snuggling with him!
 We've got a busy March, April and May coming up...hopefully loads of pictures coming up for the following events: Grandma Connie and Randy are coming for a visit, Mikey's 1st birthday party, Welcome Baby Colwell party, and my girl trip to Florida! Stay tuned!