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Saturday, June 30, 2012

These past two insane and crazy, crazy weeks.. madness and calm

Today, I closed the door of my two week vacation.  I vowed to do nothing but enjoy still and quiet. I thought that every minute of every day was going to be spent "reeling in beauty".

The tone of the week was set with my encounter with a giant rat.  It was in the kitchen..flailing on a sticky glue trap. It scared me senseless..and it escaped... 
The rest of the week was characterized by a house full of children with fevers. ..

and then there was the fall. One night little Brendan, my two year old, was horseplaying and hopping on the bed..He tumbled off and fell head first on the linoleum floor. I heard what sounded like a crack. He cried for about five minutes. I kept checking his pupils for signs of a concussion. I googled head injuries and called the Emergency room. They infomed me that this sort of thing happens all of the time.  I prayed for him and settled down for the night.

Then there was the Ratatouille incident.  I went to a friend's house.. She offered me some homemade Ratatouille..Having seen the cartoon, I was excited to try it..I thought that eating ratatouille would somehow make me seem more interesting...
After eating it, my throat began to itch.. then, my tongue swoll up..
before I knew it, I was having trouble speaking.
I have severe allergies to certain foods..Seafood is one of them..and wheatgrass. I thought that I might be allergic to some of the herbs in the concoction.
I later found out that the ratatouille had been cooked in the same pan as a filet of fish.

The week was filled with angry Wal Mart people..the kind that cut in line and then look at you like you are stupid.
It was filled with complaining kids. The whining had gotten so bad at one point with my oldest son that I felt bad that I literally wanted to get away from it all.
It was filled me questioning my parenting skills. (or lack thereof)

It was filled with people who were just "picking.." 
On a side note..Columbine was shot to death by kids who were "picked" on..

Half the time, I felt like I was yelling and trying to "discipline" 
Oh, and did I mention the feelings of rejection that accompany such a week.
Being unfriended by someone on facebook....and then the feeling of not being included..
 It was filled with thanklessness..
and capable people with their hands outstreched..waiting for a handout.

I continually felt the need to find God's grace in the sea of turmoil..
The weeks felt busy. Words felt mean. Words given and words recieved.
I kept looking for the still waters and seeking out the green pastures. I continually realized my imperfections..felt my humanity..and realized just how much I needed God.
Tonight, I am still in desperate need of God's grace..
and I'm relieved to know that it is still there.

I have tasted of the still waters and know that the quiet pastures are still right where God left them.
I only have to seek them out.

One night, during this crazy week, I looked up at the moon and marveled at the wonderous sky. It looked like a peaceful place to escape. I thought I could get lost in it. 
I started daydreaming about beach houses and thinking about all of the things that would make me happy and comfortable and cozy..
I thought about Jesus in the desert..without food and water..roughing it.. spending time with His Father, gaining strength in His weakness so that He could begin His ministry...and then I remembered that I don't need comfort and cozy to find grace.
God reveals Himself in the desert.

Angels came to Jesus in the desert and minsistered to Him..
Jesus knows the hard times. He understands them and He is there to minister to us through the rough patches.

Even through these past two crazy weeks, I have nothing to complain about.... I am so grateful.
All of these little things are petty..that's the small stuff..
Even when we feel down, we pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off..
We have a race to finish.

Some highlights of the week:

Playing badminton with my beautiful sister
holding my handsome, feverish baby, kissing his forehead, and watching his chug down his giant glass of chocolate milk..
Listening to Cade tell me that I am the greatest mom in the world, even though I sometimes don't feel like I am..
Picking out a hammock for my yard!
Finally getting to bond with my niece, the tiny Mrs. Ruth.
Watching Brendan and Olivia jam to Adele in the backseat of my sister's car..
being hugged by Rebecca, my brother's girl..
...and the list goes on...

life is sweet..
yes, there are the light and momentary troubles that we are promised..but God is still good..
and the still waters are right where He left them.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

changing the world, one person at a time, fulfilling your purpose, and a beautiful moment at the bookstore

I just finished watching the movie, Julie and Julia... Strangely, I don't watch movies very often, but it seems that in the past two days, I've watched just as many movies.

The movie was based upon the life of Julia Child..
Do you ever meet people that seem like they have magnetism..You are just pulled toward them? You find that thier zeal and zest for life and living are so great that you just want to be in their prescence?

Julia Child seemed to be that kind of character in the movie...She made a lot of people laugh and smile and honestly believed that she could change the world  through cooking.

It reminds me of the movie, "Stanger than Fiction."  The main character meets a lovely lady at a bakery. As you get to know her, you learn that she flunked out of law school. She would spent hours baking cookies for study groups..Everyone loved her cookies and she was exceptionally good at she flunked the majority of her classes.. She realized that she didn't need to be a lawyer to change the world...She realized that she could change the world by baking cookies.. She saw smiles in it..
I was once reading my favorite blog, Terribly Interesting, and the writer was talking about she and her friends believed that one could change the person at a time.  I believe that .

A man that once preached at my church..looked at me during a church service on day, and told me that I was in love with God's love...  He was right.. I am. To me, there is nothing greater or more powerful. There is nothing more infinite or more lasting.

I could talk about it for days..

Imagine if we grasped that love and reached out to people the way we are called ....I think people could be by one..

I just finished a book called, Love Does, by Bob Goff..The book tells such simple and poignant stories of love. I remember wanting to cry so many times while reading simply because I could feel so much of this man's heart being poured out on paper... I could see his love, not through, his ideas or his beliefs..but through his actions. His life is a living testament of love. I was moved how,even after writing a best seller, 100 percent of the proceeds go to his charity committed to improve the lives of young kids in developing nations.

Jesus is the same way. When I am reading about Jesus, I think the parts that really get to me the most are the action parts.. The places where Jesus touches blind eyes and feeds hungry people..  I like the parts where His words make sense and then, as I read on, I can see how He lives them out... I like to read about the part where, even as He is dying of the Cross, He still tells God to forgive them.. "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.."

Yes, I am deeply and unquestionably in love with His love..
And I aim to be one of those people with that zeal and zest for living.. I want people to see that love and hope and me..and long for the same Light that inhabits my very core..

Maybe cooking and a half dozen baked cookies could change something..if it is done with tender lovingness of Christ..  and...maybe, if we would simply take what we are good at,. and the things we love..whether it be baking, or gardening, or singing, or writing, or sports...and we do it all for the glory of Christ. and use our talents, to draw others and lavish love , then perhaps, in some way, we are fulfilling our destinies.....

If we love with all we have, and draw our strength from Christ, then, perhaps we can rest knowing those small endeavors alone are our destiny, our purpose, our calling. 

There is no force greater than the love of God.

--we don't have to aim to change the world in a swooping act of valor..we can change through the small and simple things, one person at a time and one day at a time.

Be the woman with the quiet and gentle spirit.. the lady that carries a light..that everyone wants to be around.

what to do when people are rude and just plain nasty

Do you have people that you feel "safe" with?
I have a few people in my life remind me of a safe haven. They offer support. They don't condemn. They are the people who will accept you no matter what quagmire or circumstance..
They are the people who love you, even when you are unloveable and at your worst.

they are the people I think about when i am genuinely hurt.

I am still trying to figure out how and why millions and billions of people all across the globe profess to know Christ, but still continually restort to meanness and petty rudenness. I can't help that it's no wonder Jesus said the path was narrow. He knew that few would make the choice to live out the actual walk. Hatred comes so easy for some, it seems.

I guess I'm partly writing out of frustration. Someone was blantantly rude to me today. I don't feel as if I did anything at all to deserve it. What did I do?
I did what Christ said to do.. I was kind to them anyway. I told them that I didn't understand why I was the object of thier wrath, but if they ever needed me up anyway.

It's what Jesus would have wanted me to do.

Jesus urges us to push past our emotions. He never told us that life would always be easy. But He told us that He is a refuge for when it isn't..

Pray for those who curse you. Be kind to those who hurt you. Love, anyway.
Push on. Press forward. This is a race and according to God, not everyone will finish.
I aim to.

Carry the cross and forgive.
Let it go.
Overcome every evil with good.

I can't wait to see what is on the other side of the finish line.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Grey and musings on hopelessness

I just finished watching the movie, "The Grey" ... Much of theme of the movie seemed to center around hopelessnes and anger at God. 

I suppose there was a time in my life when I could relate to that. I understand it.  I had no true understanding of desire to find out or explore what the whole Christian thing was about.

I had seen a lot of Christians that cheered on too many wars, while all I could think about were all of the babies and the children that would be devastated.
I saw too many Christians with lying lips ..some with subtle hints of racism...
I had seen "Christians" who professed to know Christ but whose lives seemed completely void of love...

Today, I exchanged a few words in the comment section of a yahoo forum.

I read an article about a mother who couldn't understand why her son had been shot even though he was unarmed.
Apparently, her 19 year old son was smuggling marijuana across the border. He was unarmed and climbing a fence while he was gunned down in the back...
She didn't think it was fair that her son's life was taken.

I was reading the comments and people were saying that the use of force was justified. They were saying all sorts of vicious things about how "he had it coming" and then saying that the mother was probably "just as bad... Basically, the majority of commenters tore these people apart.

Well, I couldn't let it go. I felt I had to say something.
I was amazed by the lack of compassion that I saw.. have we become so legalistic and self righteous that we don't have compassion. I don't defend the man's crime, but I refuse to demean or belittle his life because of a bad choice. I don't know what he has faced and I refuse to cow down to judging him.

I see too much judgement these days and simply not enough compassion. It seems like every self professing Christian wants to play the role of executioner when very few actually march toward a cross. Judgement is easy. we mask it in the form of our opinions. But how often do we do the hard thing and lay down the stones at someone who has bruised our egos..or hurt our feelings?  Christ forgave those who spit in His face and placed nails on His head. ..If you can't do the same, quit calling yourself "Christ like.." It's a turnoff and it turns away people in pain who genuinely need a refuge..
Quit showing them an image of Christ with a gavel..and show them a Christ with a cross.

but, I digress..

I once understood anger at God because I didn't really know Him.. all I knew was that I knew pain and that I was comfortable in it..
I used to write about it..I wrote poetry about pain because it was something that I understood.
I still understand it..
But now, I have a whole new depth of understanding about God too.

I don't question His goodness anymore. I have seen too much of evil to know that God is separate from it..
And that God doesn't cause pain...He only heals it..

I am no longer comfortable with pain..or depression.. or any of those things..
I fight it. I pray against it. I choose to be grateful for what I have and I choose to see  beauty in the moment.
I choose life.
I choose to fight for thngs that are good and real and pure and true.
I choose love and I choose God.

The darkness has stolen too many beautiful moments that I will never get back. I refuse to sit and think about all of the the things that I wish were differnt..things that I can't control. I choose to trust.

God is living and He is alive.
He is real.
Call upon Him and He will answer you.
Choose life because  God chose you.

I want to thank God for the simple things..  ...
I'm not criticizing depression, I simply want people to know that there is a way out of it. It doesn't have to define you.

I thank God for flowers with fields and bright eyed boys..Cade picked this bouquet of flowers for me. I love you, Cade

I thank God for tiny feet trolloping through thick grass..This angel also picked flowers for me.. Mothers, quit being discontent. Enjoy you children. They are your greatest gift.

I'm thankful for neices and puppy dogs

Cade swinging in the hammock that my mom set up..

My beautiful niece, jadah

Cade found a vase for my flowers

I'm thankful for treehouses and hammocks, horse swings, bird feeders, and laughter..

" I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers, such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:5-8

Caring for Doves, part 3

The other night I found two baby doves on the bottom of a railcar. They had been separated from their mother. I was so eager to care for them.. I wanted them to grow up to be healthy. I wanted them to spread their wings and fly into freedom...

I bought them formula and fed them with a dropper. I enlisted the help of my family to take care of them..

The other night, when I returned home from work..I peered into the little box that I was keeping them in..
One of the little birds was toppled over.. dead..

I cried. I cried and cried..and then cried some more..

I had heard that my neighbor raised a baby dove, so I took the other baby bird to her the following day.
I wanted to see if she could give me any advice or assistance in caring for him..

She told me that he was so small that she didn't think he would survive unless we could get him into a  local wildlife refuge and rehabilitation center. She mentioned the fact that such a facility may have an incubator to keep the bird warm.

She gave me general directions on how to get there..and so I went in search of a place called Hecks Haven.

The trip was disastrous.  The entire time I worried about the bird. I named him Noah, by the way..  If you read the other two posts, you will understand why...

I was driving and looking for this fabled refuge center, but it was nowhere to be found. I called the 411 information hotline and they told me that the number was unlisted. They suggested that  I call Animal Services...

So, the 411 operator connected me to Animal Services.  I spoke with the receptionist and learned that Hecks Haven is indeed an actual place, but in order for the bird to be placed in their care..I would need to surrender Noah over to them. 

They assured me that they would place the bird in someone's care. I arrived at Animal Services right as they were closing.. ...I was genuinely worried that they weren't going to get Noah to someone in time, but I realized that I couldn't give him the proper least, not like someone with the right equipment, skills, and know- how..

As I  handed him and his bottle of formula over to the receptionist, I burst out into tears.
I was so embarressed... I explained that I had fallen in love with this baby bird..

I didn't want to let him go, but I guess sometimes if you do love something.. you have to set if free..just like the saying ...

I started thinking that maybe that is why God gave us a choice. Because otherwise, we would be caged birds.. He gave us the choice to love and accept Him...and if we love Him,  then like a bird, we will come back.. we will recoginze the place of safety and fly back into His loving arms...

I began to think about mother's that give their children up for adoption.. ..Giving up that baby bird gave me a whole new perspective.. Mother's don't give up their babies because they don't love them.

They give them up because they do... They give them up because they believe that they don't have the skills or the equipment or the know- how to raise a child.. They surrender them to, what they believe, is  a better life...
One thing that  I have found is that the best love..isn't a life of all of the right equipment..or all of the right circumstances.. there is no formula for the best life..

The best life is a life of love..
I almost regret giving up that bird simply because I loved him.....

I know that to some it may sound silly or trite or trivial that I loved a bird...
but I'll  tell you why I fell in love with those baby birds..

The day that railcar pulled up and I realized that those birds were lost...from the moment I carried their nest into the office and gave them water with a dropper..... I felt as if I wasn't caring for just two baby birds.. I felt like those birds represented all of the children and the babies and the lost and helpless people that were forgotten ..or hurt...or left alone to die...I thought about abused children..I thought about children without the love of a parent...

and it felt like, by caring for those two baby birds, i was making a difference in the world..

Maybe i was..Jesus said that when we "care for the least of these.." we really are caring for Him...
and maybe, I was somehow spreading the very Light and Love of God by nursing those two tiny doves.

What are we doing to care for the least of these?
Just talking about it...? Or getting droppers to feed our neighbors?

One thing that struck me about the entire experience is  this..:
Jesus loves us so much. He doesn't liken us to birds, but to sheep..
He says that many of us are like lost sheep, roving through the pasture..

The sheep in His fold are safe..they are protected by Blood, they are protected by Promises.
But there are those who are lost..wandering aimlessly in a world of carniverous wolves..
wolves that see sheep as food.
But Jesus tells us that when one little lost sheep comes back into flock, that all of Heaven rejoices because that sheep has been found...

He says, "Feed my sheep."
That is HIs commnad.."If you love me, feed my sheep."

Look at the person sitting next to you..and ask..what am I feeding to this person, this sheep?
Am I feeding them lies , a rude tongue, and the word product of an unforgiving heart...or am I feeding them love?

There is no greater force in the world than love..

IF there is one question that you should ask's this..

ARE you feeding sheep?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

dinner parties and love does by bob goff

"He prepares a table before me.. My cup runneth over"

Lately, I have been thinking about that verse... "he prepares a table before me.."

It takes a lot to prepare a table..It takes planning, preparation, a great deal of work, and a tinge of sweat..
Great tables don't just happen..
Great tables are all about the details..

Last night, our cousin Alyssa surprised us...
She prepared us a table.
She made homemade flowers and dyed them by hand..
she contrived an idea for pretty little pinwheels for decorations..
and then, she made those by hand too...

she even made butterfly straws to sip our rootbeer...

She brought out chairs and laid out a beautiful white tablecloth..
She meticulously prepared..
She wrapped up the silverware..
and laid out candles and lanterns..

She baked intricate desserts.. cupcakes with a twist..she injected pudding in the center of the cupcakes and then topped them off with sweet delacies..

she toiled..baking bread..preparing salad with fresh greens...
she arranged for grilled chicken, baked beans, rice dressing..and other wonderful family favorites..

she worked hard..she put a lot of thought into her work..a lot of love, a lot of care...
but the wonderful thing is..that she loves doing stuff like this...

She loves baking and cooking and decorating and details..

As I was eating this wonderfully prepared feast, I thought of Jesus and how He promises  to prepare a table...He promises to prepare a place just for us.

I thought of all of the things that Our Saviour could be doing. ..The possibilites are infinite. ...but He is lovingly prepping a table and getting a place ready for His kids...for His beloved children..

and then I thought...If Alyssa, my cousin, has prepared this wonderful event,  imagine the table that Jesus is preparing... Imagine it..
Jesus is hand picking the things that you be on that table.. to be there when you arrive in the place He promised...
I couldn't help but smile as I imagined our family seated at His table.

Alyssa's fantastic meal and creations reminded me of Heaven...

Doesn't the food look wonderful?
  I can't eat chicken so the family prepared me a special hamburger ..
  The cupcakes were heavenly :)

She made these flowers by hand..and dyed them, as well... and all of this without  pinterest..

My grandfather ....

an ice bucket full of IBC rootbeer..

specially prepared cups with handmade butterfly straws...
Alyssa is so creative and inventive

My sister and my dad


 I love the lantern...

 My beautiful niece Ruth...with a face full of dirt...she loves to play in the mud

The children seated on wicker chairs...My boy Brendan in blue

 My niece Rebecca looking adorably cute and carnivorous

 My beautiful niece, Jadah

 My adorable, Cade

 a candle swinging from a tree limb.. how romantic ...and thoughtful..full of whimsy

 My niece gorgeous

 Brendan eating specially prepared ice cream sandwiches.. Alyssa baked the cookies herself..

Beautiful Olivia Claire...

I want to share an excerpt from a book I'm reading called "LOVE DOES" by Bob Goff...
It reminds me of this experience..

I had it dog eared and was going to blog about it... it's about love and whimsy and a banquet..
Since, we just had a family banquet..this is the perfect opportunity for me to share .....

God is inviting you to His table..will you dine with Him?

From the book, "LOVE DOES, by bob goff...

"there is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I'm tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does. It doesn't come in an envelope. It is ushered in by a sunrise, the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. It's the invitation to actually live, to fully participate in this amazing life for one more day. Nobody turns down an inviation to the White House, but I've seen plenty of people turn down an invitation to fully live.

Turning down this invitation comes in lots of flavors. It looks like numbing yourself or distracting yourself or seeing something really beautiful as just normal. It can also look like refusing to forgive or not being grateful or getting wrapped around the axle with fear or envy. I think every day God sends us an invitation to live and sometimes we forget to show up or get head faked into thinking we haven't really been invited. But you see, we have been invited -everyday, all over again.

There's no doubt Jesus invites us to have some very cool experiences in our live, and for that matter, in the afterlife. Jesus tells a story in the Bible about a rich guy who had a banquet. The rich guy invited lots of people, but most of them made excuses and didn't come, so the guy sent his servants to invite other folks - but this time he invited the unlikely ones, people who normally don't get invited to anything folks like me. The message he had for this new round of people was simple: "There's more room." That was it. It wasn't a deep theological treatise. Yet it was exactly that, deep and theological. I think life is like that banquet Jesus talked about. I think God sends out His messangers to tell everybody that there's plenty of room and there's free food and conversation and adventure and a wonderful and generous host who has invited us by name.

I don't think God is the kind of guy who forces Himself on anybody either. If people don't want to come to the banquet, He's not bitter or anything. He loves them all the same, but He's not going to force them. Instead, He just keeps on looking. He keeps saying there's more room to those who really want to be invited to where He is. He's like any of us in that way. I think God pays attention to our hearts and enjoys when people want to get close to Him. He knows our sadness and the brokenness we want to hide from Him, and He sends people to look for us.

When I was young and thought about God and church and Jesus, I would shy away because I thought getting too close was like breaking onto the set of National Treasure 2.  I thought there were lots of long corridors to navigate, there were arrows pointing in all kinds of directions, and the religious people were the security guards. They were the people checking to see if you had been invited. But Jesus never acted like that. When you read the Bible, the people who loved Jesus and followed Him were the ones like me who don't get invited places. Yet Jesus told His friends they were invited anyway. He told them that the religious people weren't the ones who decided who got into Heaven and who didn't. He said the people who followed Him should think of themselves more like the ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decided who gets in. We're the ones who show people their seats that someone else paid for...

Can you even believe that Jesus would invite people to a banquet and they wouldn't want to show up? When we accept Jesus' invitaion to show up to life, we get to do life with Him, and He's way more powerful and important than the President..Or Nicholas Cage.

A couple of other things happen when we accept Jesus' invitation to participate with Him in life. Obstacles that seem insurmountable aren't. Impediments that we believe disqualify us don't. When we show up to participate with Jesus in the big life, we're participating with the very being who made life in the first place. He gently asks us how we are and invites us to get better together with Him.

Accepting the invitation to show up in life is about moving from the bleachers to the field. It's moving from developing opinions to developing options. It's about having things matter to us enough that we stop just thinking about those things and actually do something about them. Simply put, Jesus is looking for us to accept the invitation to participate. It's like the president calling and we just need to answer the phone. We need to show up.

When we accept life's invitation, it's contagious too. Other people will watch us and start seeing life as something more amazing, more whimsical than before. When you show up to the big life, people (the type who don't think they're invited) start seeing invitations everywhere as thick as colorful fall leaves. They don't think about thier weakenesses any longer. Instead, they think about how incredible a big life really is and how powerful the One who is throwing the banquet is too.

Jesus wants us to come. He's sending His servants out to tell the people standing at the fences and the libraries that they're invited to the party. He's sending you an invitation too, in the sunrise, in the sound of a bird, or the smell of coffee drifting lazily from the kitchen. The one who has invited you is way more powerful than any impediments we think we're facing, and He has just one message for us.  He leans forward and whispers to each of us, "There's more room."

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy,...but I have come that you might have life..and Have it to the full

Sunday, June 10, 2012

what the enemy tried to take from me..

This year my company upped my vacation I will soon be getting another two weeks of off time..
This delights my heart in so many ways.. :)

Lately, the enemy has come against me in so many different ways..
For the past week, I have woken up, zapped of strength.. I have been fighting fatigue and mild depression..
I started to write it off as a "thyroid issue"

One night, I was in my room and I could feel a very dark "heaviness" in the room... For those of you that don't know, I have had a lot of supernatual experiences. I believe in the powers of darkness because I have seen them..God has shown me a lot of how they work..they attack the body..the mind..they attempt to rob all traces of happiness and joy and hope ...they can crush hope...

But I have also seen and witnessed the power and soverignty of an all mighty and loving God....
I fasted and prayed for a few days ...really trying to reach Heaven with these issues...
One night I pressed through in prayer...I told the enemy, in no uncertain terms, that he was not going to steal anything...
The next day, I woke up energized..My energy had returned. The mild depression left...

Sometimes, we need to remember to simply take it back...take back the promises..take back the hope and the joy....stand on the word and tell the enemy, in no uncertain terms, to leave ..

Sometimes when I pray, I continually ask Christ to be more like Him..
The enemy is not afraid of us..
But the enemy trembles at Christ who lives in us...

...I guess I'm saying all of this because my vacation is coming up..and I refuse to let the enemy steal it..
He has done it before...My trip to the Grand  Canyon was filled with horrors beyond imagination.

Sometimes, we simply need to stand firm in Christ and say.."no, you aren't going to steal from me."
He has come that we might have life and have it to the full...

Embrace the full life..
It's a promise that comes through Christ...

So for the next two weeks.. I aim for fullness....
fullness in prayer
and in silent service

I aim for rest and fellowship...

I aim to swing in the hammock in the morning and again in the evening..sipping iced coffees..

I aim to spend time with my sister...maybe go to a nice lunch..or to Starbucks..

I aim to read books with my boys at the bookstore...

and plant lemon trees in the yard...and perhaps some fig and apple trees, as well...

I aim to find as many fruit plants as I can...and plant as many as I want to plant...

I aim to take the boys to the waterpark or simply spray them with the water hose..

I aim to play lots of badminton...and try seasalt carmel truffle ice cream..

I aim to write letters ..

I aim to work on some of the songs that God gave to me...

I aim to pray and spend time with my Creator, reeling in beauty....soaking in the moments..

and I won't let the enemy steal it..

Don't let the enemy steal your thunder..
God gave His promises, now stand on them...
Pray for your deliverance..
Prepare to cross the Jordan into the promised land..

why I am smiling from ear to ear :)

Before I begin this blog...I want to say just how amazingly happy I am right now..for months I have searched for dear friends from my past...
I spent several months in Hull England about twelve years ago. While I was there, I really connected with a lot of people. I lived in a student house with several amazing people..
I have prayed for months that I would find certain people that I truly fell in love with over there..
and today, I found them :)
I am really beside myself right now...

While I was there, a girl asked me about Jesus..I couldn't really think of much to tell her because, at the time, I really didn't know Him the way I do now...
I am so happy that I will now have the opportunity to speak with her about this brilliant Light I have found..

If you are reading this Federica and Annalisa,
I am so happy I found you. I have thought about both so often..
You hold a special place in my heart .. I hope and pray that we never lose touch again :)

Thank you Jesus for helping me find my friends..

"and He will give them the desires of their hearts"  :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

caring for doves, part 2

I love my doves...
Last night, I took them home..
I learned that my father- in-law has also cared for tiny baby birds..raised them up..helped them grow into healthy adults...
as I was sleeping, he fed them for me...
every two hours, he gave them warm milk..

When I woke up, I did a little research and found a special formula for feeding baby birds..So, I happily made the drive to Pet's Mart to pick it up..

The birds loved it. They lapped it up...squeaking and craning their tiny little necks to eat.

By the time it was all over, they were covered in yellowish paste...
I am learning that feeding a baby bird is a messy thing...

I like watching them sleep..
their tiny, tiny bodies rising with each breath....they are so frail..such a reminder of the beauty of life...

Today, I was thinking of the types of blogs that I like to read. I scroll through a lot of blogs..most are about religious doctrine.. most expound upon some sort of theological conumdrum..
to tell you the truth..I am usually bored to tears.

I like the blogs..the writings of people, who care for someone..or something..
I like to read about the woman who goes out of her way to take chocolate chip cookies to neighbors she has never met..
or about Caroline who gave up her car to serve in a Mexican orphanage.. I like to know how she reads books to 14 little boys every single night.. I like to read about how she takes them to amusement parks and wipes away their tears and tells them about Jesus... I like to hear about how she whispers hope into their lives and gives them aspirations... I love how she has big dreams for each individual boy..and how she loves children that aren't even her own..

I like reading about moms who take care of and love children with disabilites.. I like how they never flinch or never doubt that their child is any less..instead, they hold the pure, unequivocal love in their hearts that assures them that thier child is special, and beautiful and wonderfully and intricately created..

on the other hand, I love reading the stories of women who made  very real and serious mistakes..but then realized, with tears in their eyes, that God loves them anyway.

That's the stuff of real...

We overcomplicate the gospel..
We think that being a Christian is all about theology or programs..or large sanctuaries..
we equate "christian" with mega million speakers like ( insert popular preacher name here)  or some other talking head, when the gospel is really best lived out in taking care of, caring for, and loving, something with every fibre of our being...

Today I was thinking of God's commandments...He said the one commandment that fulfilled all of the law..was love... Love your neighbor as yourself.. and love the Lord God with all of your heart..

If you think about it...If you truly have love, then you will never lie..because you realize the impact that it has on others..
If you have love, you won't steal.
or cheat..
If you have love, you will find yourself effortlessly following all of  God's commandements..
have love..and believe in God and His Son...and have everlasting life..It is win-win...
It's a no brainer.. It makes the most sense..  In a world of spiritual confusion and hyprocritical judgment, love makes the most sense..
that's because God is love..
God makes sense.

Keep the theological arguments. I'm not interested in your version of right. I'm not interested in you telling me that I will burn in an eternal hell because I believe a little differently than you. 
We've gotten silly..
we've replaced love for hate and somehow still call it "jesus''
That's not the Jesus I am in love with.

I love the Jesus who cares for us.. who laid down His that we can have hope..
When is the last time you gave someone hope?

Are you giving hope? or condemning others and shoving something down the throat?

Faith, hope, and love... and the greatest of these is love..

so you've told me all about you faith..
so now, let us see your love.

The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing [of birds] is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land - Song of Solomon

know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine.- Psalms 50

 -- Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

caring for doves, part 1

I am officially in love..

Several months ago, I was going through a relatively hard time over some things...

I emailed a friend and she gave me an beautiful analogy...

She said, "Rachelle, struggling is like walking in the desert..She said struggles are like Noah, in the  boat, sending out the doves..she said..while we are waiting for the branch..we often wonder if God has forgotten us...but, she told me,  "Rachelle, your branch will come"..

Well, today my branch came in the form of a tiny nest...branches stacked on on top of the other....and wrapped inside, as a gift from God, were two tiny doves..
My coworker spotted them on the bottom of a railcar. We figured that since the car had been moved and would probably be shipped out of the plant soon, it would be best to take them down and care for them..

So, we did..

I put them and their cozy little nest in a box, .. I then, put them under a lamp to keep them warm...
I secured a tiny dropper from our lab department..and then I gave them some water.

A coworker was telling me that if we hadn't rescued the birds, they probably would have been eaten by a racoon or some other animal..

Right now, they are sleeping soundly..and I can honestly say.. I love these two baby doves.
 I called my neighbor. She happens to take care of lost and wounded birds...she agreed to care for the birds.

I keep thinking of the verse that says..."Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:26 ...

I think about how God must have loved these birds so much...that he let them be found before being shipped off to another state via railcar ... .before being eaten by wild animals...
He loves them so much that He must have somehow known that they would be fed..with tiny droppers.and taken care of by kind and loving neighbors...

God loves those baby birds.. Imagine, just for a moment, how much more He loves you...
It's humbling to think about...

If only we could love another with that immense kind of love...
Yesterday, I was reading all sorts of horrific tales in the news.. more stories of hatred and violence and mothers killing their own kids... one mother was so high on marijuana that she forgot that she put her five month old baby, still strapped in his car seat, on top of her car. She drove off, not realizing that he was on top of the car.  He was found in the middle of an intersection. ....unharmed... (thank Jesus!)

I was thinking about the nine months we spend inside of the womb...growing and forming... our bodies are so complex and intricate. Even our tiny little fingernails are coded with stands of dna.. our tiny little bodies form according to amazing and wonderous specifications...I think about how, as babies, we are so perfectly innocent.....
..and then we grow up...we experience this roller coaster called life..we experience hurts and frustrations..we struggle....but all the while, God is calling us back to that same perfect innocence..

"come to me as children," He says..

Children are forgiving. Children are trusting...Children somehow recognize the precarious and precious thing we call " Life.."
Children are loving..

as adults, don't we often become snide..and rude..and greedy...? Don't we often fail to see the work it took to form another human being?  The handiwork of God?
Every time we fail to forgive or fail to offer kindness, aren't we in a sense spitting in the face of God's very creation?
Love... "the greatest of these is love.."
If we don't have that...then we are lost and doomed... we are like birds that need rescuing..
only we have a Father..and He loves us very much..

if you take nothing more from this post...just remember..God loves you... He gave me an immense love and concern for two tiny little  birds. He loves them more than I do.. and He loves us even more than  that...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

the road not taken

all too often, we take the path of least resistance...  the path with no thorns..the path of least resistance is a road where we fall into the trap of making ourselves comfortable.. it's the path that requires the least effort.
It's the broad path..paved with good intentions that ultimately leads to nowhere.

today, take the harder path..the path that may involve some danger..the hard path has steep inclines.. it involves discipline to walk. it involves maybe putting aside a selfish ambition..laying something involves dying to live.. when you walk the hard path..there are surprises at every turn ..If God were to be found along either path..this is where you would find Him..

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

New York photos and things I was grateful for..

 "If you look for me in earnest, you will find me when you seek me.  I will be found by you," says the LORD. "I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes..Jeremiah 29:13-14

i recently wrote a post about every day miracles... Everyday is a gift and we should treat it as such..
God leaves His handprints everywhere.. If we are seeking Him, in earnest...we will find Him..

a few weeks ago, I found Him in New york.. I had never been there before.. I wasn't quite sure what to expect...some people told me that I would love it.. others told me that the people were rude.."it's too busy and crowded..and dangerous.." 

all I can say is that I fell in love with New York.. sure, it was busy..and parts of it were crowded.... I didn't come across any rude people.. many of the people we met were helpful and friendly..

I saw God's handprints all over New York...sure there were places that wouldn't meet God's approval...but there was so much much beauty wrapped up and hidden in the most unexpected places...

there have been times when I beat myself up and question every decision I make.. at first, I had the temptation to mentally beat myself up for taking a vacation.. with so many hungry people in the world, I loathe the selfish ways of humanity..  maybe in some ways, we all struggle with the denial of self.. but my finest moment in New York was this......
My mom, Cade and I had just got back from walking the streets of Greenwich Village. We had coffee at a little cafe tucked away in a cozy corner of the world. We saw outdoor cafes with an array of bright flowers sitting on the tables. I fell in love with every tree and every branch that lined the streets. I fell in love with the smells of life coming from the windows..the smell of ethnic foods seeping into the streets.. I ate a chocolate croissant later in the day and I fell in love with that too. I fell in love with the architecture and the fact that people once worked so hard to make something beautiful. 
Back on the bus, later that day..I think I cried..maybe it was just a single tear...but I just remember being really grateful. Really, really happy. I know that happiness isn't a nice vacation..but I remember being so overwhelmed that God had taken me from my suicidal state of a few year earlier...he had taken away all of my anger and hurt and frustration with the world... I felt wrapped up in gratitude..just so thankful that God took me out all of that and put me in a place I have wanted to see since I was a child.

There is a verse in the Bible where Paul says that he has learned the key to happiness in all situations...

Philippians 4:11-14

 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

In life, we can choose to hold onto negative things, or we can choose to be thankful... I pray that we all find New York in our very own backyards.. and some of the things I was thankful for on my vacation.

here are some photographs...

thankful for an eye for interesting things..and a safe plane ride..
thankful for the beautiful clouds spread out across the blue sky
thankful for a loving boy that loves to build and create..thankful to have finally made it to a lego store..

thankful for the taste and smell of new york hot dogs! They were so good!

Cade fell in love with this phone on display at our hotel.. thankful for interesting things..

thankful for lots of color and thousands of people

thankful for amazing architecture and beautiful details.. Don't details make all of the difference?

Thankful for a stroll through greenwich village..and the brillant colors everywhere. the trees that grew along the sidewalks, and the little cafes dotting the streets..

thankful for interesting cars that give character to beautiful days... I want to ride in the caliente cab!

Thankful for places that serve wonderful iced coffees...

thankful for my mom and my boy

thankful for hot teas and cold milk


thankful for being able to cross the brooklyn bridge in the rain...I wouldn't have had it any other way..

thankful for  colorful umbrellas

thankful for parks that look a little bit like Heaven.. so perfect and neat and clothed in color..

thankful for roses and lilies and lilacs and park benches and rain

thankful for surprising little nooks that rise out of ashaplt

thankful for rare beauty

thankful for places to sit after hours of walking

and sights that country girls don't normally see

thankful for seeing a part of history and knowing that beauty rises out of chaos.. this was in front of the world trade center when it survived some damage.. it still stands tall and proud and a reminder that God uses us in our brokenness

this was taken in the park near the statue of liberty...

thankful for fruit stands

thankful for variety and options and good food

thankful for creative minds that conjure up all sorts of interesting things..

thankful for buildings that rise into the sky...

a relplica of the titanic..the three men are trying to pull a man out of the water. this reminds me of how God often picks us up when it seems we are drowning..

thankful for life and liberty and freedom... the true freedom that comes through Christ....and for fires that never cease to burn..   Random fact...did you know the statue of liberty has been struck by lighting hundreds of times? She is made of copper and her green color is the result of patina... the result of metals chaning over time..

thankful for pretty spaces and ornate chairs

The ceiling at the Ellis Island Immigrant Museum... there was no shortage of beautiful details and architechtural handiwork in new york...people once took pride in their work..

thankful for winding staircases

and a gorgeous day on the river

and subways...

The angel of the water in central park.. several movies were filmed here.....

a really amazing tunnel in central park...look closely, do you see the bride and groom in the archway?

horse and carriage in central park....

a lego lion creation in the NY public library...we were  told to stop in to see one of the most amazingly beautiful buildings in NYC... several movies were filmed here also..

the ceiling

The empire state building can be seen through the window... have I mentioned that I was thankful yet?

thankful for purple flowers in large pots..

my mom modeling her "booths grocery" t shirt in front of the empire state building. It was sort of like a roaming nome thing....she wanted the shirt in as many pics as she could was a running joke...that shirt went all over the city..booths grocery at Saks Fifth Ave.

thankful for breakfast nooks

and a boy with a healthy appetite....

and wonderful views from our restaurant...that's grand central sation across the street..

thankful for a smiling mother

and my newfound passion in life...chocolate croissants...the best!

grand central station. Pictures cannot do it justice. It's beautiful..the ceiling is painted with stars..

Rockefeller  Center

View from 30 Rock....


Add caption

This was taken near ground zero. Our tour bus driver told us that New yorkers do not use the term "ground zero"... Ground zero, he says, looks to the past... They say, "the world trade center" to look to the future... It says New Yorkers appreciate when people don't use the term "ground zero."  I was sad looking at all of the faces of the people that died..near one of the flags at the top is a picture of a little boy about two years old.. I am so sad that he died that day. But I know that death is not the end of life for the innocent.

ellis island museum

times square

thankful for flowers that look like bells... does anyone know what kind of flower this is? If so, let me know.. I love them

I once read something that said that Heaven was like a city... I always thought that sounded a bit silly... until I went to New York...and then it made perfect sense..
the city can be a place for life..where life rises up..where care is taken in things built and things created..
where flowers grow in unexpected places..
and smells of life emerge from every corner and every nook...  where there is beauty and depth and surprises around every corner...
Yes, I believe that a large part of Heaven is like a city.....

Thank you Jesus..
I love you..
and I love New York