Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
At 44, I am just starting to feel my age. Physically feel my age. This year is the first time I have really felt like that. Hopefully, I'll always be young at heart, but my little signs of the reality "44" are popping up! I have loved the forties, thank the Lord! But, earlier this week I had a funny reality check!
The other morning, as I was getting dressed and readying my face for the day, I opened our bathroom cabinet and said to Jim, "All we really need around here is a good nose hair clipper." What!?!? Did I just say that? Are we talking about nose hair clippers? We chuckled as we found ourselves in this new phase of life where a good nose hair clipper is now a necessary tool if we want anyone to have a face-to-face conversation with us!
With my current little knee injury, I have had a Ziploc bag of medicine in my purse. I put rubberbands around things in my purse...like I rubberband the checkbook and my pocket calendar together. Why do I do that now? Rubberbands and Ziplocs in my purse...I am 44!
The last time I got my hair cut, my hair stylist, Liz, and I talked about our aches and pains and the aches and pains of those close to us! Liz (beautiful at age 52) has been my hair stylist since I was 12 years old...she knows more about me (and loves me unconditionally I might add) than some of my family members know! Here we were talking about aches and pains instead of important relationships in our lives, the upcoming election or the latest fashions!
While my body may start to feel the reality of growing up to being age "44", my young (eh-hem) heart's desire is that daily I am still growing and maturing in the Lord. When I had the nose hair awakening the other morning, I remembered Psalm 92:14 above that I had read in late summer as I was reading through Psalms. As we grow each year and continue to abide in Him, may we continue to bear His fruit well into our very old age. "Fresh and green"....now that's a great way to grow older! I am looking forward to it.
Now, excuse me...I have some nose hair trimmin' to do!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Buddy Osborn ("Uncle Buddy") and Joshua
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Harvest Crusade is coming to Philadelphia on October 3rd, 4th and 5th at the Wachovia Center! You can click here to read detailed information about the Crusade. From that site, you can also send e-vites to family and friends. You can also sponsor a seat at the Wachovia Center for $10 per seat.
Please pray for Pastor Greg Laurie who will be leading the crusades. Pastor Greg, from Harvest Christian Fellowship in California, and his wife, recently lost their son, Christopher, in a tragic car accident. Christopher poured his heart into these crusades. In honor of Chris' life, it is the Laurie's prayer that these crusades bring thousands of people to a personal relationship with Christ.
If you are in the New York City area, the Harvest Crusade will be there on October 19th at 7 PM at Madison Square Garden.
We hope to see you at the Philadelphia Crusade!
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Sincerity in a person has always meant the world to me. I treasure and appreciate someone who is sincere. Sincerity is an intrinsic genuineness and honesty that can be sensed, felt and tasted. You just know when someone is sincere in their love, encouragement, and even in a loving reproof.
Sincerity is defined as: genuineness; honesty; the quality of being open and truthful; freedom from deceit, hypocrisy, or duplicity.
Sincerity is a character trait I value because it springs from realness, from purity, transparency and truthfulness.
"Slaves, obey our masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is one you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord." Colossi ans 3:22
"With sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord" has been my e-mail "signature" for quite some time now. It speaks of the genuine intent of my heart toward the Lord. Some moments when I am wandering in the flesh, my sincerity and reverence are traded in temporarily for cheaper, ugly and unsatisfying fleshly substitutes. He always gently brings me back to Him, and the sincerity and reverence of my heart are polished up and beautifully restored. I always want my heart to be humbly postured in sincerity and reverence for Him.
When I have time to squeak in some leisurely reading (i.e. school car line, waiting rooms, etc.), I've been slowly going through a good book by Lisa Whittle titled "Behind Those Eyes -- What Really Goes On Inside The Souls of Women". I was waiting in doctors' offices yesterday and had the opportunity to read through a few more chapters. Here are excerpts I loved:
We can't always wear our hearts on our sleeves, and it's not always appropriate to share our personal struggles in public situations [or on blogs -- my addition], but it is also refreshing to hear from a sincere person who desires to be real.
But we still pretend. It's just less complicated, really. Impersonating a superspiritual person fluent in Christianese stops the intimacy of a face-to face conversation with someone. But it can prevent other things, too. It can stifle tears that need to flow, hands that need to be raised, prayers that need to be prayed, and decisions that need to be made. We trade reputation for repentance, and it costs us a lot. It costs us an intimacy that is sweet, both with our heavenly Father and our earthly family of God. It is a hard habit to break and can be a humbling experience.
Fortunately for all of us, spiritual perfection is not a requirement to faith in Jesus Christ. Were it so, I would have long ago been disqualified.
Though we seek it, our lack of spiritual perfection may be the best thing in the world for us since it reminds us that we are absolutely nothing without Christ.
God's original plan was not for us to prove to Him that we love Him by performing to the best of our spiritual abilities. Rather, He is seeking today what He has always been interested in getting from us: a relationship with Him that is pure of heart and motive, the only goal in mind being to honor Him by doing His Will.
Sincerity...refreshing realness...don't trade repentance for reputation...a relationship with Him that is pure of heart and motive...honor Him by doing His will.
Whoo-eee! I was blessed reading this. It refreshed my heart and confirmed to me how precious and valuable genuineness and sincerity are. Love must be sincere.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Gabrielle lost her third tooth yesterday after a few days of labor pains! She wiggled it and wiggled it over the weekend. After our Sunday dinner, she came running to me while I was doing dishes at the kitchen sink and she screamed with excitement, "Tooth came out! Tooth came out!" We were so excited the tooth FINALLY came out!
She then literally lost the tooth for a few moments in all the excitement, but Joshua and Daddy helped her find it as it was stuck to her play dress. Nan Nan Hansen and Aunt Anne had joined us for Sunday dinner, and we all rejoiced with Gabrielle!
Today, on the way to school, Gabrielle said with delight, "Mommy, there is a hole in my smile!" Indeed, there is an adorable hole in her smile.
When Gabrielle said that, my heart quietly ached. There is a hole in my smile today, too. But not a physical hole, an emotional hole.
For the last several weeks, my mom has had debilitating and excruciating back pain from herniated discs. She has not been able to drive, get comfortable sitting or standing, sleep well, etc. My mom just recently recovered from hip replacement surgery and many subsequent complications. To have more physical suffering so soon has taken the wind out of her sails a bit.
This new physical trial has been very difficult for her...and for me. As her daughter, it is a torturous feeling knowing you can't take your mom's pain away. I pray for her. I help her with shopping, laundry, chores, cleaning and errands. Usually after I leave her house and get into my car to drive home, I privately sob. I wish my mom wasn't in so much pain.
God is faithful and has not forsaken my mom. She is opening the scriptures every day and looking to the Great Physician for comfort and healing. "Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor. 4:16-18
For the past two weekends, we have brought my mom (Nan Nan) to our house for a change of scenery and some loving comfort being with family. It is a privilege and honor to care for my mom, who is a widow, and who raised four children virtually on her own. She loves her family and especially all of her grandchildren. They all bring her such joy.
Here is a picture of Gabrielle with my mom yesterday as they trimmed string beans together for our Sunday dinner.
If you have graciously taken the time to read all the way down to here :) , would you please say a prayer for my mom. Pray for a healing in her back and that God would send angels to minister and tend to her when her children can't be there. Please pray He reveals Himself to her in an amazing and life-changing way during this season of life.
My mom has been very healthy and active up until this past year. We are hoping and praying that she'll be back in stride very soon. She has been through all the tests, tried various treatments and has an appointment with a surgeon on Friday. My sweet, kind and compassionate husband, Jim, has offered to take her to her appointment. He wants to take a turn, and this is a big appointment! He blessed my heart so much with his love for my mom and my family. My siblings and I are graciously granting his request to serve my mom by taking her to this appointment.
Thank you for your prayers for my mom! And thank you for rejoicing with sweet Gabrielle!
Please leave a prayer request as a comment. It would be a privilege to pray for you, too. If you are rejoicing, let us know...we'd like to rejoice with you!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Today, I am tearfully storing away the little step stools we bought for Joshua and Gabrielle to use in the bathrooms when they were just toddlers. I probably should have done this months and months ago, but I didn't. Instead, I tripped over the kids' little step stools time and time again. The little ache in my heart said "I am not ready yet". Not ready to be done that phase and needing step stools to reach the sink for a Dixie cup of water or to wash their hands. Not ready for them to be big enough to brush their pearly whites without the aide of the step stool to reach the sink drain target. The step stools represent a precious season of young childhood.
But I am storing them away today with thankfulness in my heart. So thankful I am their mommy. So thankful Jim and I are the ones privileged and responsible to train them up in the ways of the Lord. Every day I tell them I love being their mommy. I love being the one to sing them awake on school mornings. I love being the one to deposit them at school and having them hear me say, "I love you. Honor the Lord." I love the sacred moments of bedtime.
Equipping them to grow in the Lord and preparing them for eventual adulthood while cherishing every moment of being a child is a delicate balance. Giving them the proper tools...a heritage of a relationship with the Lord, the sword of His Word, demonstrating a healthy prayer life. These eternal tools are essential, necessary and ageless.
Today, I am putting away tools they no longer need. The step stools in the bathrooms. It's a little bittersweet reminder to equip them properly, enjoy the privilege of helping them grow and mature, and not leaning on tools that we no longer need. They have and need other tools now. Tools that represent and promote growth.
I am treasuring all of these things in my heart.
Our prayer is that, as Joshua and Gabrielle grow in stature and obey their parents, just as Jesus did, that they will grow in God's wisdom. That they will grow in favor with God and men, and in that order.
Stepping onward while holding our Heavenly Daddy's hand.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You."
In the quietness of my heart over the summer, I knew that God, in His faithfulness and wisdom, was going to ask me to do something completely out of my comfort zone to grow my faith. The precious P31 Gather & Grow group that meets here monthly is starting a new book this Friday after taking a break for the summer. The book is "What Happens When Women Walk In Faith" by Lysa TerKeurst.
When I injured my knee a few weeks ago, I knew it would be a little life-altering temporarily. The pain was bad and my mobility is still significantly decreased. When the initial x-ray showed nothing, my doctor prescribed an MRI.
Before Jim left for work today, he looked deep into my eyes and said, "Do you want me to go with you to your MRI today?" I assured him I was fine and that God had given me His peace. Jim lovingly hesitated, still looking deeply into my eyes, and asked me again, "Are you sure?" Yes, I was sure.
After chauffeuring my cherubs to school, I headed for my MRI, which was just a few miles away from school. God had filled me with such peace. I couldn't wait to get there! I wanted to shout, "Yes, Lord! I know You are with me! Let's do this!"
I am seeking You, Lord. I am looking for You and listening for You here. I was excited to face this fear because He was going before me. He was holding me with His mighty right hand.
The MRI technician came to greet me in the waiting area. "Hi, my name is Paul." Paul! My big brother's name is Paul. My dad's name was Paul. One of my favorite Bible authors is Paul! Just hearing "Paul" made me feel comfortable.
Paul pleasantly explained everything to me and made sure I had nothing magnetic hidden anywhere on my person. He got me positioned on the MRI machine with medical sand bags holding me and my leg still. He pushed my body into the machine, but my head was still sticking out a bit! Yippee!
He asked what radio station I would like played through my earphones, but he couldn't tune in the local worship station I requested. He told me he'd put on the "easy listening/soft rock" station. A little disappointed, I calmly laid still and waited for the 35-minute MRI study to begin.
"Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You." Psalm 9:10
Seeking Him. Listening and looking for Him. He gave me MRI melodies!
"Come On Eileen" -- OK, my mom's name is Eileen, and I had just spoken to her on the phone before I arrived at the MRI. Big girls still are comforted by their moms! Eileen was praying for me, and I was going to visit her after the MRI. This song made me smile. Thank you, Lord.
"You Look Wonderful Tonight" - This is Jim's song to me! He still serenades me with this song occasionally, just like when we were dating. It was the last song we danced to at our wedding reception. Very special song to us. This song had tears streaming down my face and my heart swelling with warmth. Jim was praying for me and waiting to hear from me. Thank You, Lord.
"I Wear My Sunglasses At Night" - I thought of our church's copy center administrator who (like yesterday when I saw him) wears sunglasses inside when he had a migraine. Whenever we see him with his sunglasses on, we all just pray. This song sweetly reminded me to pray for him. Thank You, Lord.
"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - Need I say more? He'll be there in a hurry. An MRI had been a mountain to me. He wasn't moving the mountain, but He was moving me through the mountain with Him and growing my faith. This song made me smile again. Thank You, Lord.
The technician then told me through the earphones that I had only 12 minutes left of the study. I dosed off for the next few songs.
Shania Twain's "I Feel Like A Woman!" - Starts out "Let's go girls...." OK, to this song, right there on the MRI table I started dancing with my arms, snapping my fingers and doing the butter churner...all without moving my legs! I am sure Paul thought I was nutty, but that's OK. I think he actually got a giggle out of it!
This song reminded me of my last two years at the P31 "She Speaks" Conference because they played this song as the P31 staff gals line dance in the big conference room at the opening message. Warmth filled my heart.
God does not forsake those who seek Him, those who look for Him, those who listen for Him.
My MRI melodies from the Lord. Thank You, Lord!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Some of my favorite times with Joshua and Gabrielle are our talking times in the car. My commuting journeys with them are precious to us. One blessing of school being back in session is our drives to and from school each day. As long as the Lord wills it, I will delight in and structure my day around driving them to and from school. I treasure that time...talking, singing, listening, being quiet, being together. Josh and Brie love it, too. (Yes, ugly sibling rivalry disrupts these beautiful moments sometimes!)
One of my favorite chapters in Beth Moore's book "Feathers From My Nest" is Chapter 2, titled "127,000 Miles". Beth writes, "Magic moments. Carpool offers priceless opportunities for those....talk to them. And listen. Oh, what they teach us..."
Here is one of those "magic moments" from a recent car conversation that led to family prayer time, a profound question and another great conversation:
"Mommy, we have something we want to tell you. We want to adopt two children. Joshua wants a brother, and I want a sister." Gabrielle made this announcement rather nonchalantly.
"Yeah, Mommy, but I still want to be the oldest in the family. But Gabrielle doesn't want to be the youngest, so we have to work it out so these people are the right ages." Joshua chimed in with his comments. Obviously, the two of them had been chatting about this.
We are blessed to have a few friends who have adopted wonderful children internationally, and Joshua and Gabrielle ask about adoption often. I love their hearts for sincerely wanting adopted siblings and being willing to make room in their hearts and our family for more "people" (mixed in with a bit of their own personal agendas as you can see above). I explained to them what a big decision that was and that Daddy and I would really have to pray about. We'd told them we'd only adopt children if it was God's perfect will for our family and if He clearly led us in that direction.
So, they asked if we could pray about it together as a family at bed time. We gathered in our master bedroom and all took a turn praying. I loved listening to their little hearts as they prayed with enthusiasm about adopting siblings (of just the right ages and genders, of course).
When we were done praying, Gabrielle said, "Well, what did the Lord say about that, Mommy?"
Wow...what a great question! I loved her question! I told her that this the best question she can ask all throughout her life. And I loved that she expected to hear from God. She knows He will answer.
The Bible says clearly in James 1:27: "Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." Taking care of widows and orphans is a priority to God. It's a command to us. We pray as a family we honor Him by doing this in various ways. We explained to Josh and Brie that if adopting an orphan is one way God wants us to honor His word, He will make His will clear to us.
For now, we believe the Lord has us taking care of widows and orphans in other ways. Our hearts are quiet before the Lord in trust. "In quietness and trust is your strength." Isaiah 30:15
What does the Lord say about something concerning you? He'll speak to our hearts by His Holy Spirit. He'll speak to us through His written Word, the Bible. He'll encourage us through others. He'll be faithful to lead us in all things. He'll confirm things in our hearts. He will answer.
What does the Lord say about that? Ask Him. Find out what pleases the Lord.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Time to wake up! First day of First Grade for Gabrielle.
Rise and shine! First day of Third Grade for Joshua.
Daddy always ushers us with Mommy to the first day of school.
We love you, Daddy!
A few of my dear friends: Lucille (Me) Cheryl and Denise
Our wonderful Principal, Mrs. Fritchman
Mrs. Bonner - Our Receptionist (cutest outfit ever!)
Monday, September 1, 2008
A colleague and good friend of Jim's through work, Mike Martin, and his wife, Bet, hosted us to a lovely Sunday afternoon and evening...and into the wee hours of Monday morning... at the US Open in Flushing Meadows, New York. (We arrived home at 3 AM this morning!)
You know you've arrived at the US Open when you see the World Globe
Jim and I were able to bring two guests with us, and we invited two of our favorite people on the planet, Jeff and Cheryll Black. This was such a sweet time of fellowship together as we rarely have the opportunity to be with Jeff and Cheryll socially. We appreciate so much that the Lord ordained and blessed this time together with them.
Jeff and Jim have been friends since 1990. They have a deep bond of friendship and intrinsic respect for one another. Jeff also happens to be one of our assistant pastors at our church. He has been a treasure of a brother and friend to us.
Cheryll is one of those friends in my life who I see only occasionally, but I wish our paths crossed more often. There is just something special about her. She is refreshingly real and down-to-earth. She is easy to talk with and is a perfect blend of depth and levity. Besides all that, she's gorgeous and lots of fun! We danced and sang and hoped to get on the "big screen" in the stadium, but our shining moment was unbroadcasted and just a treasure between the two of us. (She made me laugh a few times during the "shhhhh" moments at the Open....not good!)
An extraordinary day indeed, for which we are grateful to the Lord, the Giver of all good things.
Cheryll is my Fabulous Fringe Friend. She may not be in the daily fabric of my life, but God weaves her in beautifully at just the right places. Her precious threads of friendship add something special and sparkling to the tapestry of my life. I am humbled and thankful to call her friend. (She has actually graciously agreed to be my "BFF".) She is a fabulous friend indeed!
Of course, it was the US Open, and we also saw some excellent tennis! The men's match between Marin Celic and Novak Djokovic was unbelievable! Their match didn't end until well after midnight, and it was so exciting to cheer them on and be there for Djokovic's victory. They both played amazing tennis.
We were in the IBM Suite (a first-time thrill!) where we enjoyed delicious food and a great view of the tennis court. We also received an exclusive tour in the bowels of the stadiums (walking where the players walk) and in the IBM staging rooms. It was so interesting to see "behind the scenes".