“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Friday, December 26, 2008

Footloose from the Snow and Weather!
- lyrics by sister sheri

(sung to the tune of Deck the Halls)

Flyin' through Chicago was our folly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Should' ve just hitched a trolley
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

On we tossed our snow apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Family said, "Don't fly in peril"
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Christopher's tears flow before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Sheri's tears join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Poor Anthony feels our pressure
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Fam'ly memories none can measure
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Flight delays, Christmas Eve passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Landed late, amongst the masses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Family now joins together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Footloose from the snow and weather!
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Skip the Snow, But Keep the Mistletoe and Presents!


We didn't make it, but we're on our way. Stuck in the middle of the country.

I'm missing Christmas Eve with my mom's family. All the cousins... chaos... and food! Santa stops by with presents for all. Whether you were good or bad!

I couldn't even call to say Merry Christmas... more tears. I asked Anthony to call and let them know. I'm just missing out. I know it is okay... but it's okay to cry... that means that I actually care!


Christopher said today that he would be fine if it was NOT a white Christmas at Grandma's... Looks like 50's and rainy... Sounds like Portland weather... normally!

And it persists to snow in Portland. More snow then ever on record. The last big snow was 40 years ago.

Sorry, no catchy lyrics tonight. Just the real thing....


I'll be Home for Christmas

I'm dreamin' tonight of a place I love
Even more then I usually do
And although I know it's a long road back
I promise you

I'll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents under the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the love light beams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams
If only in my dreams

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cryin' in a Winter Wonderland
- lyrics by sister sheri


(to be sung to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

Southwest called, are you listenin
"On the plane, snow is glistenin
Our de-icer's not right, we’re cancelin' your flight"
Cryin' in a winter wonderland

Gone away is the preferred
But we'll not be deterred
We'll check Travelocity, as we garner pity,
Cryin’ in a winter wonderland


In the meantime we can build a snowman
And pretend that we don't have a frown
Friends say, "Are you buried?"
We’ll say, "Sure are"
But we can put on chains and drive around

Later on we’ll perspire
As we join with every flyer
To face unafraid the new plans we made
Flyin’ from a winter wonderland

to be continued...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Stop the Snow! - lyrics by sister sheri


Stop the Snow!

(to be sung to the tune of Let It Snow!)

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
And I don't mean to be so spiteful,
But since Maryland is the place to go,
Stop the Snow! Stop the Snow!
Stop the Snow!

It doesn't show signs of stopping,
And the freezing rain is still dropping,
To the airport should we go?
Stop the Snow! Stop the Snow!
Stop the Snow!

When we finally do decide,
How I'll hate going out in the storm!
Christmas in just three nights,
But the airport might become our dorm.

Our hopes are slowly dying,
And, all my family's crying,
Re-booking is the way to go,
Stop the Snow! Stop the Snow!
Stop the Snow!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Out of Sorts


Christopher has had five... count them one, two, three, four, FIVE snow days this week!

Needless to say, I am out of sorts. Not depressed, thanks be to our Glorious God in Heaven! But discombobulated. (I can't believe I spelled that correctly!)

Why is it... that I cannot seem to discipline myself to have a quiet time while Christopher is on break? He'll be out of the house for hours playing with the neighborhood children... but I do not take advantage of those times to work on my Bible Study.

"Watch and pray,
lest you enter into temptation.

The spirit indeed is willing,
but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:41 KJV

But is this true? Is my spirit truly willing? Cause if it was... why can't it motivate the flesh? I mean... how hard is that?

Really hard. Especially, on my own.

Sisters, today... it is time (or should I say... about time!) for me to re-visit the Fruit of the Spirit. Remembering that it is not my spirit that will make the difference... It is the Holy Spirit within me.

Thanks be to God!

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Yes, Tammy... There is a Santa Claus."

Baby, it's cold outside!
Snow closed church on Sunday,
school on Monday... and Tuesday!


This post offered you the opportunity to ask for whatever your precious little heart desired for Christmas.

I really expected people to request BIG BIG HUGE presents. Nope.

I really really thought maybe someone might ask for an ILG hat. Nope.

I really really really thought there would be more people who would take a chance to see if I might "pick their name this year"! Nope.

The number one requested gift: Gift Cards!

I visited Random.org and it selected number 4... Tammy of Breaths of Faith who asked for "a gift card to barnes and noble...or a teacup to have my favorite tea in. These are two of my loves."

Congratulations, Tammy! Looks like sister sheri "Santa" is visiting your house this year!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Transparency

You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp
and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand,
and it gives light
to everyone in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15 NIV

Some people call me transparent. They find my transparency to be refreshing... inspiring... motivating.

While others would rather that I were a little more translucent or opaque. It would be a little more comfortable for them.

Transparent
  • allowing light to pass through so that objects behind can be distinctly seen
  • easy to perceive or detect
  • having thoughts, feelings, or motives that are easily seen
  • open to public scrutiny
Translucent
  • allowing light, but not detailed images, to pass through;
  • semitransparent
Opaque
  • not able to be seen through; not transparent
  • hard or impossible to understand

With transparency comes potential for rejection. Because nothing is hidden. Yet, if we are transparent, perhaps others will truly see what is "inside the package"... and be drawn to what they find there.

I try not to be only transparent in my faith in God,
but also
when I am doubtful...
when I am depressed...
when I am confused...
when I feel rejected...

So, here I am... warts and all.
Sharing the constancy I have found in the Lord.
His persistent love.
Available to all.

Here's another way to put it:
You're here to be light...
God is not a secret to be kept.
We're going public with this...

If I make you light-bearers,
you don't think I'm going to
hide you under a bucket, do you?

I'm putting you on a light stand.
Now that I've put you there on a hilltop,
on a light stand—shine!
Keep open house;
be generous with your lives.

By opening up to others,
you'll prompt people to open up with God,
this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 The Message

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Depression

She caught up to me today.
I was in the bread aisle.
She asked if we could visit for a while.
I didn't pay attention at first.

She said she hadn't seen me lately.
She just wanted to catch up.
She noticed I had been a little tired lately.
A little weary.
I told her not to bother me.

She persisted.
She would take care of it.
Just a little visit.
Just a little visit.
See, it would be okay.

And I was lulled.
Yes, she was right.
Just a little visit.
A little despondency.
I mean... what would it hurt?

And then I recognized her.
Yes, I had seen her before.
I knew her well.

And there she was.
Revealed for who she really is.
Depression.

And I ran... as fast as I could.
Knowing that I didn't want to see her.
I wanted nothing to do with her.

Knowing that she'll come back, again.
But knowing that each time she does.
I'll run. Quicker. Harder. Faster.

Right into my Father's arms.
Safe into my Father's arms.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wishing You a Very Tolerable Christmas!

Is it me? I'm a little confused... but I have been asked... no, make that told to be tolerant. And to even go beyond that... to be acceptant of:

Other people's beliefs
Other people's "choice"
Other people's "preference"
Other people's lifestyle

Yet, Christmas has become intolerable to those who have demanded my tolerance... no make that my acceptance... NO, and even beyond that... to become assimilative to their beliefs, "choice", "preference" and lifestyle.

Although I pray that all would want to celebrate the birth of Christ, I am not demanding anyone to celebrate Christmas. I am not asking that anyone should celebrate Christmas the way I do.

I'm just wondering why my belief in Christ, my choice to worship the King, my preference of saying "Merry Christmas" and my lifestyle which includes celebrating Christmas... is not tolerated, but actually mocked and wished for extinction...

So, is it okay for me to say... I'm wishing for a very tolerable Christmas?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I Knit Like I Blog...

A 60th Birthday Gift for My Favorite Aunt
I told her she could wrap herself up everyday and
consider herself hugged by me!

I have been busy knitting lately. For the past four months... at least five days a week, I set aside at least one hour a day to knit. You may wonder how I can set aside that time so easily... To keep my sanity... I knit while Christopher is working on his Visual Therapy.

I wish I was more productive but I knit like I blog... if I don't like it... I rip it apart and start all over, again. Multiple times!

Here are some of my projects over the past few months:

Father and Son Matching Sweaters
Actually, I made these sweaters last year, but
I completely ripped Christopher's apart earlier this year
because it was just too small.
I made it a bit too big this time so he could wear it a while!
Fortunately I had just a enough yarn to spare
to make the larger size.

65th Wedding Anniversary Present for my Grandparents
I had visited my Grandparents home earlier this year.
As soon as I saw their couch... I knew I was coming home
and making this throw to match.

A birthday present for my "natural born" sister!
A beautiful scarf made from green silk.
The color... the texture... delicious!

Ruby and Pearl Bead Bracelet
Okay, so it is not knit... but it was fun to make.

Fashionable Burp Cloths
Again, not knitted, but sewn with love for
my friend Jennifer who is due on Christmas Day!

So, I got a little fancy with my packaging...

And a fun box tag, too!


(Thanks for asking, Joan!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Santa queried, "What do you WANT for Christmas this year, little girl?"


Have people been asking you what you WANT for Christmas? Yikes! We get older... and we get a little more choosy... a little more particular for what we ask for... but we don't want to ask for specific things... so maybe we hint around... or do something subliminal...



I mean there are some things that just would make a great gift... and would last all year ... like the Starbucks Gold Card. What a great idea that would make for someone!

Or one of those one-cup coffee makers... you know, especially if one person in the house likes their coffee stronger than the other.. or if one person likes flavored coffee and the other doesn't. I mean... that just seems like a really thoughtful gift!

So... tell me, sisters... what do you WANT for Christmas? You never know... I might just pick your name this year... if you leave a comment with your WANT that is...

SSSHHHHHH! Don't tell anyone... the less comments there are... the better chance you have!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Totally Inadequate

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect,

keeping a clear conscience,
so that those who speak maliciously
against your good behavior in Christ
may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:14-16


I was having a java fix with a dear sister yesterday. She was distraught. She was berating herself because she didn't feel that she gave an adequate "answer" to a gal who had asked her, "Why should Christians pray if God knows everything ahead of time? What does it matter? If He knows someone is going to die... why pray?"

My dear sister is a solid and mature Christian woman. A well-put together lady who is successful in her business and life. Generous with her time and resources. Hangs out with God daily. A good and trusted friend to many.

But she felt that she missed the opportunity to witness to her acquaintance. She didn't have the "answer" that she felt was persuasive enough to win this gal to Christ. Surely, as a godly mature Christian woman... she should have a prepared Christian "answer" to give... She felt she had "blown it"...

I came across this verse as I was reading today's devotion in My Utmost for His Highest.
I immediately forwarded it to my dear sister.

You'll remember, friends,
that when I first came to you
to let you in on God's master stroke,
I didn't try to impress you with polished speeches
and the latest philosophy.
I deliberately kept it plain and simple:
first Jesus and who he is;
then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified.

I was unsure of how to go about this,
and felt totally inadequate
I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—
and so nothing I said
could have impressed you or anyone else.
But the Message came through anyway.
God's Spirit and God's power did it,
which made it clear that
your life of faith is a response to God's power,
not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork
by me or anyone else.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 The Message

This is the apostle Paul talking... unsure... totally inadequate... scared to death... yet he celebrated his weakness... because it gave God room to do the work. He didn't want to persuade anyone by his "answers"... He wanted it to be clear that "God's power did it."

My dear sisters! How often I am guilty of this same offense! "Oh, if I only would have said this or that my friend would be saved. If only I would have spoken to that person in the grocery line. If only I would have spoken more clearly... If only I would have been prepared!"

Oh, how we need to remember... we just need to keep it "plain and simple"... Because when we start blaming ourselves for the loss of a soul, we're denying the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work.

Yet we should truly always be prepared... and how do we do that? "In your hearts set Christ apart as Lord." We need to know Christ. We need to know and believe and have faith in Christ. Not ourselves, but Christ... and Christ crucified.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent: The Candle of Promise


Anthony, Christopher and I had the opportunity to read scripture for the first week of Advent. Our Pastor is educating our church on the tradition of Advent, which comes from a Latin word meaning "the coming." Advent helps prepare us to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's first coming into the world... and the promise of His second coming.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6


This was our "bio" that was in the church bulletin. I was tickled with the adjectives they used, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Anthony and Sheri have been married for 20 years, and have attended here since 1996. Anthony serves on the Board of Deacons and volunteers in Royal Rangers. Sheri serves in M's Girls Club as a 3rd grade assistant and in Ladies Bible study. Sheri is an accomplished knitter, avid blogger, and devoted mother to son Christopher (9). Christopher is active in Royal Rangers and loves being on the Junior Bible Quiz Team!

The family loves spending time together. Anthony is a seasoned marathon runner, and Sheri and Christopher can always be found encouraging and cheering him on along the sidelines during his races. Their favorite Christmas tradition is spending time with family and friends, and they look forward to a holiday filled with fun times with friends and family near and far.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:18



I am thankful that the Cowboys won, today.



I am thankful for the unitasker -- The Pie Crust Shield.
Worked Perfectly Today!


I'm thankful that we're beginning to see progress
because of all the hard work put into Visual Therapy
with Christopher over the past four months.


I am thankful that my friend, Elizabeth, is a recipient of a miracle.


I am thankful for A friendship restored.


ImageChef Sketchpad - ImageChef.com

I am thankful for all of your prayers.
I am feeling much MUCH better.

I am thankful for you, sisters.
You bring me such joy.

Blessed THANKSgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control

Therefore, prepare your minds for action;
be self-controlled;
set your hope fully on the grace to be given you
when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13 NIV


Depression is sneaky. It doesn't just show up one day unannounced with all of its garbage. It moves in one thought at a time. When you begin to realize that depression has brought its toothbrush over... you are beyond the point of denial of its existence.

Depression and self-control. What's the connection?

Today, as I was reading Day 4 of the book Conquering Depression, it suggested three things you should do immediately when depression comes knocking:
1. Make sure you are still reading your Bible and praying... (even though you don't feel like it.)
2. Thank God for loving you and bringing you THROUGH the depression... (even though you don't feel you'll survive it.)
3. Try to NOT make any major decisions. (Your feelings can cloud your common sense.)

Guess what? These actions take self-control. Having tasted the bitter-sweetness of depression, I know it takes self-control... and self-control takes submission. This time as I approach my unwelcome visitor -- I have decided ahead of time to trust God's Word as my authority... NOT my emotional outlook. I am submitting myself to God.

How we respond to depression makes ALL the difference. We can give in to it... or we can trust God to take care of us... to bring us through the bout safely... If we can do the hard thing... truly that believe God loves us... even when we don't feel loved... well, that is faith.

Now faith is
being sure of what we hope for and
certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1 NIV


And in this case, submission to this thought... this submission to God... gives life, sisters... and, trust me... life in abundance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Symptoms


It became necessary for me to take a siesta IMMEDIATELY
this week because I started noticing the following symptoms:
  • Nervousness and trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • GI upset
  • Noticeably tired around the eyes
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Feeling lonely
  • Moodiness or crying for no reason
Fear upon fear. I must be sinking into another Dark Night of the Soul... depression. Time to retreat and spend some heavy duty one-on-one time with God. Time to pull out my beloved book Conquering Depression. Time to cancel all commitments. Time to relieve all responsibilities. Time to gather my prayer partners... but was I being too extreme?

I asked Anthony. He had noticed the symptoms, too. I should call the psychiatrist in the morning.

One of my friends called the next morning to see how I was doing. "I'm fine," I said through the tears. "I don't know why I am crying. I'm fine, really."

She said she would pray for me, but that I was to get off the phone and call the doctor. And she would call back to make sure that I did. (God bless you, dear sister... you did the right thing!)

I spoke with the doctor and told him my symptoms, but I said the strange thing is... I don't have a feeling of hopelessness. My disposition was great. And, yes, actually, I had noticed that my appetite was increased... and then it hit me... it was hyperthyroidism.

My Thyroid Cancer had been detected in 1994 at the young age of 26. Because it was found to be malignant, the entire Thyroid was removed and I have been on medication ever since. There are times when my body absorbs the medication at a quicker rate... and I become hyperthyroid. (And the contrary is the same.)

And the symptoms... well, they look just like... depression.

So, I know... I know... I should have let you know, so you could pray for me. But there's a fear associated with depression... that you might treat me differently... which might seem confusing... but so is fear and depression.

And really, I thank God for this "little scare" because I ran right back into His open arms... and pressed deeply into Him. And He showed Himself as He always does.... God is greater than my depression.

What, then, shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare his own Son,
but gave him up for us all—
how will he not also, along with him,
graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking a Siesta...

Taking some time to hang out under a broom bush.
I'll be back soon...

"Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said,
"Get up and eat."


He looked around,
and there by his head was
a cake of bread baked over hot coals,
and a jar of water.

He ate and drank
and then lay down again.

The angel of the LORD came back
a second time and touched him and said,
'Get up and eat,
for the journey is too much for you.'


So he got up and ate and drank.

Strengthened by that food,
he traveled forty days and forty nights
until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
There he went into a cave and spent the night."

I Kings 19:5-9

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: The S-word, Submission


I know. I know. I'm using the S-word, again! It's not that I want to... but I guess God is working something in me. Because trust me... when I write about a topic... it normally means that God is refining me in that area.

I didn't want to leave you wondering how my submission (oops! There it is!) to the spiritual authority placed over me turned out. See here for more details. I have to say in both cases... God knew what He was doing. Yes, it's true and I freely admit it. God had the greater thing in mind.

In both cases, I didn't want to submit because I wanted to control the outcome. I thought I knew what was best. I was AFRAID of the choices and, therefore, consequences, that others were making for me. I couldn't see the outcome, so I dreaded it.

So, you've heard the before... but here is the after. It turns out that the pastor that was selected by our Board of Deacons... would have been my first and only choice. However, I thought that it would be impossible... improbable... that he would ever leave his current assignment to come back to Portland. I had given up on the thought. I wouldn't have even pursued it. But not our Board... they prayed... they submitted themselves before God... and asked for the desires of their hearts. And God answered their prayers. And mine, too.

The other instance I briefly mentioned had to do with the closing of Christopher's elementary school. How my heart was broken and torn. I fought for the school to stay open, but when it closed I tried to soothe my soul with the following verse:

Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.

He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5-6 NIV

And so I comforted myself by thinking that wherever Christopher would attend school, I would be like a seed planted. Comforting others. Encouraging others. Little did I know, how the move to a new school would benefit me... and Christopher.

So, here's my challenge today, sisters... I want you to think of a time when you submitted yourself to God. I want you to think about the "before" and the "after" of your submission to His will.

I challenge you to use the S-word... today!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Finish Line

Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles,
and let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 NIV

Congratulations, Anthony! It's unheard of for anyone to have a personal best time at the New York Marathon... but you did it! It's been a long road... you ran the race... you persevered... and you crossed the finish line. Way to go!



And waiting for you at the finish line... were a crowd of witnesses. Including your beloved parents and brother, Tim. I am so glad they were able to see you around mile 17, too. To give you encouragement... something to drink... and you were on your way... on the race marked out for you.

Which is something for all of us to consider. We are running a race. Right now, we can't see the finish line, but it is there. And so we persevere. And we cheer each other on. And we help each other... with a cup of cold water. And when we can't find the way... we turn to God's Word for discernment on the race marked out for us.

Run Sister Run!!!

See you at the finish line!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Submission

Meekness or gentleness is the power and strength
created from submitting to God's will.
Gentleness is responsibility with power.
- Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself



Lately, I have not been submitting to the Lord's will. I know this because posts are piling up in the "draft" category, again. The following post is the one that I mentioned here.


Over a year ago our church went through a pastor selection process. I remember struggling with the fact that our Board of Deacons would make a selection and I would just have to "deal" with it. Yes, I would get to vote, but most likely, I knew it would end up being the first selection of the Board.

I felt the Lord encourage me to make a decision even before I knew who the new pastor would be. That I would place myself under the authority (spiritual in this case) without knowing who would be chosen. I had NO clue of any of the candidates who were being reviewed. I did not know their names or anything about them. Just that I must trust the spiritual authority over me at that time (the Board of Deacons)... and pray for them in earnest.

God has a sense of humor.

At this same time, I had been given an opportunity to speak at our Ladies' Bible Study. On Miriam. How she criticized Moses. (Numbers 12) How she as a leader spoke against her leader. And the repercussions of her criticism. God did not take it lightly.

God used this story to help me encourage the women in our church to submit to their current spiritual authority (the Board of Deacons) and then ultimately, to our new pastor.

So, what's so funny? I am one of the deacons wives. Have you ever tasted humble pie? I begged God to let this unique opportunity pass. I wanted to run. But moreso, I wanted what the Lord wanted. So, I submitted.

The reason I was able to speak on this topic is because in another lifetime, I had struggled against someone who was in spiritual authority over me. During that time, I realized that I needed to make my decision to submit to the authorities over me BEFORE there were any "controversies"... Because trying to submit when you are already in the situation is just plain hard.

I know submission is not our favorite topic. I know that the word "submission" is extremely controversial. I also know that it is a word that is for the most part misunderstood.

But if we can learn to submit to the will of the Father... and not just to His will... but to Him, we may actually find the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control... that we have been lacking.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Look to God and Be Amazed!

Dear sisters,

A word of encouragement.

We're in a war here, girls. We have an enemy. Sometimes, our enemy likes to make us vulnerable before the attack... it makes us easy prey. But not this time. We will not be vulnerable. We will stand strong.

I've also noticed that the enemy would like to divide and conquer the body of Christ. Are we letting him?

We will not look at circumstances and be afraid. We will look to God and be amazed.


Finally, be strong in the Lord
and in his mighty power.


Put on the full armor of God
so that you can take your stand
against the devil's schemes.


For our struggle is NOT against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world and
against the spiritual forces of evil
in the heavenly realms.


Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything,
to stand.


Stand firm then,
with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

and with your feet fitted
with the readiness that comes
from the gospel of peace.


In addition to all this,
take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.


Take the helmet of salvation and
the sword of the Spirit,
which is the word of God.


And pray in the Spirit
on all occasions
with all kinds of prayers and requests.

With this in mind,
be alert and always
keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:10-18 NIV


I'm praying for you, sisters. Pray for me, too!

The ING New York City Marathon 2008

Anthony finishing the JFK 50 in 2006 (Yes, 50 Miles!)

My heart is beating so fast that I think I will be sick! I'm tracking Anthony via Internet and cell phone while he begins The ING New York City Marathon this morning.

His parents and brother are there in New York to cheer him on... while Christopher and I wait "patiently" to get our text message that he has crossed the starting line (via timing chip technology).

Wow! Okay, he just crossed the 5k mark!

This is the first marathon that I have not been there as Anthony's support team. I had a lot of fun packing a surprise box of goodies and shipping it ahead of time, so that he would have it when he arrived in New Jersey.
  • Advil
  • Space blanket
  • Granola bars
  • A photo of me and Christopher
  • Extra small pins for bib
  • Extra batteries for watch and heart rate monitor
  • Band-aids (if you've ever watched a marathon... you would know why men actually need band-aids... it is amazing how rough fabric can be against your chest when you run 26.2 miles!)...
  • and amongst other things... a COWBELL... one of our favorite ways to cheer our favorite runner!

Baltimore Marathon 2005


Timberline Marathon 2006

Sauvie Island Half Marathon 2008
(See Christopher finishing hard with Dad!)

We're there with you, honey! All the way!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Partly Inspired By Your Blog...


Today is my 200th Post. I cannot think of any better way to celebrate it than celebrating my reconciliation with a dear sister-in-Christ!

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and
there remember that your brother has something against you,

leave your gift there in front of the altar.
First go and be reconciled to your brother;
then come and offer your gift."
Matthew 5:23-24 NIV

What if you were a "stumbling block"... and didn't know it? How can you "go and be reconciled"?

On October 20th, I completed the last day of homework on the study of patience. Beth Moore ensured that we were well aware of the Greek word makrothumia which is the quality of patience found in the fruit of the Spirit. "The word means 'long-suffering in respect to persons' and is inspired by mercy. Mercy is fueled by forgiveness..."

She encouraged us to ask the Lord to "reveal the names of any whose hearts are hindered because of us" so that "fruit would result." I wrote a quick prayer in the margin. ... help others forgive me so that they can bear fruit!

Of course, I forgot about my little prayer. Until the other day...

On October 22nd, one of the gals I volunteer with shared that she had been weepy that day. Due to circumstances we could not finish our conversation. On the way home, I kept reminding myself to follow-up with an e-mail offering a compassionate listening ear if she was so inclined.

On the 23rd I did send the e-mail... and on the 24th... the Lord answered my prayer...

Here are a few excerpts from the e-mail I received from this dear sister... with her permission...
Please know that I’m not in any way trying to infer that you have caused me pain or problems. I just sense I’m supposed to break down some walls that keep me held back and laying myself out there seems to be the next step. My honesty is partly inspired by your blog, too btw.

...and I’ve spent time wondering, off and on (ok, pretty much whenever I have run into you, or something random brings you to mind, which is often enough to be called ‘regularly’) what exactly happened. So here I am pouring all this out, knowing that you may be feeling totally on the spot, as if you need to now reassure me of this or that. I hate that thought. So why am I going to push ‘send’? It comes down to 1) I just feel I was supposed to share without any expectation, 2) I believe I can count on you to be honest and 3) Just in case my insecurity actually came across as lack of interest, I wanted to let you know that was not the case.
And some excerpts from my response...
First and foremost... I treasure you! Thank you for trusting me with your honesty. All I can say is... "Wow!" I remember how we used to get together when you first moved here... we were building our friendship... and then something happened... and it was if we could not go back. Yes, unknowingly I did interpret your insecurity as lack of interest in our friendship.

And so Wednesday night when you were talking I felt a little jump in my spirit... maybe this is why I am here... for you. But I realize now... it is for me. I am sorry for the years we have been apart, but perhaps God had a reason in it all. Now, we can move ahead in honesty... and in security.

I am so sorry that I have brought you pain. I am so glad that you are such a strong woman... to risk it all... and put it on the line... and that we can trust God to bring healing to each of us individually and together.

I love you, sister!

And so, my dear bloggy sisters, I challenge you to pray the prayer... ask God to help others forgive you so that THEY can bear fruit. It may not turn out the way you think it should... but being obedient to the Lord is everything...

Be patient, then, brothers,
until the Lord's coming.
See how the farmer waits for the land
to yield its valuable crop
and how patient he is for
the autumn and spring rains.
James 5:7 NIV
Sisters, let us bear much fruit...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: This is Good and Pleases God our Savior...

Ugh! Do you ever push "Publish Post" when you didn't mean to? You remove the post, but for some... it is too late. Bloglines for example will pick up your post and hold it until it is read by the subscriber.

Okay, just did that! I wrote a post... and then I thought... "this post will surely bring misunderstanding, so I'll remove it... and just let God's word speak for itself." But I know that some of you will read it... and I want you to feel free to touch base with me. Who knows... if there will come a time that I will publish it... but for now... here is the TRUTH...


1
I urge you, first of all,
to pray for all people.
Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf,
and give thanks for them.

2 Pray this way for kings and
all who are in authority


so that we can live peaceful and
quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.
3 This is good and pleases God our Savior...
1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV


13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake
to every authority instituted among men
:

whether to the king, as the supreme authority,
14
or to governors, who are sent by him
to punish those who do wrong
and to commend those who do right.
1 Peter 2:13-14


1 Everyone must submit to governing authorities.
For all authority comes from God, and

those in positions of authority
have been placed there by God.


2
So anyone who rebels against authority
is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and they will be punished.
Romans 13:1-2 NLT


21 He controls the course of world events;
he removes kings and sets up other kings.


He gives wisdom to the wise
and knowledge to the scholars.
Daniel 2:21 NLT


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Trying to Keep Out of Trouble!

Soon, my Tuesday Bible Study will draw to an end. In three short weeks. Our next study will begin early January. That leaves me seven weeks to keep out of trouble!

I've been trying to decide on a Bible Study that I could use during that time. I was just about to purchase an on-line series of Experiencing God when I felt prompted (by a recent event... which I will gladly post about at a later time) to research Bible Studies on women's friendships.

These were the two I found to be the most appealing.

I'd be interested in any feedback if you are familiar with these studies. Or if you are interested in working on a study with me.

My first choice is A Woman of Healthy Relationships. It is by Dee Brestin, the same author who wrote The Friendships of Women that I reviewed almost a year ago. (Okay, I didn't finish my review yet, but I feel strongly that I will one day!) It has a five day format which tends to help me keep on track. It has nine weeks of study which I would condense to fit my time constraints.


A Woman of Healthy Relationships


My second choice is Celebrating Friendship by Judith Couchman. It is part of a Women of Faith Series. It consists of six studies. It is very conversational in its style.


Celebrating Friendship

I'd appreciate your input!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Has Recycling Gone Too Far?


I had to laugh last night when I passed by our Information/Visitor Desk last night. I sent this photo to our pastor and asked if we might want to rethink our "friendship" ministry! LOL

He responded,

"Our new attempt at merging a visitor friendly approach with green technologies."

What would be your caption to this photo?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: A Vote for Peace


"Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth,
give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid."
John 14:27 KJV

I have not been peaceful lately. I have asked God to give me peace. But I have not felt it.

And that is the problem. Like love and joy, I have discovered that the peace God gives is NOT based on my feelings. It starts with a decision. A choice. A vote... if you will.

I am anxious about the Presidential election. The peace that I was asking the Lord to provide had to do with my current circumstances. I thought I wanted peace, but what I really wanted was for God to fix it so I wouldn't be stressed. I wanted Him to answer my prayer by making my circumstances turn out to my liking. Basically for me to get my way.

The type of peace that the Spirit bears within us does not depend on our circumstances. Beth Moore discussed in Living Beyond Yourself that peace comes with the authority not with the answer.

And this is where I am, making the willful decision to make God my authority. He is in control. He always has been. And if He is my ultimate authority... that means all other authority is under Him... and He has ultimate control.

So, perhaps... before you cast your vote for President... first, settle the question of authority.

"Don’t worry about anything; instead,
pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank him for all he has done.

Then you will experience God’s peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds
as you live in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

Friday, October 24, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Outside of the Garden


Sometimes, I think everyone should have a garden. There are so many parables and verses in the Bible that deal with reaping, sowing, growing, tending, watering, roots... By physically gardening, the words of the Bible come to life for me.

Gardening is such a calming hobby for me. My backyard has become an oasis. Amazingly quiet some days... and the weather has been so nice lately... that I'm even dabbling in planting bulbs.

Just me... my garden... and the Lord. It is a solitary time. Refreshing. Renewing. And I love it. Sometimes, I don't want to leave. It is safe in my garden. When I garden, I am never misunderstood. I rarely second guess myself. I never consider my motivation. I don't have to worry... if I get it wrong. There will be a new season... and all will be forgiven... and possibly forgotten.

But the Lord calls me to leave my garden... my safe haven. A place where I would surely spend every moment...

When I leave my garden, I change. I am not as sure of myself. I get it wrong. My motivation is questionable. I second guess myself. I worry... because sometimes there may not be a new season.

In wanting to share my thoughts on my blog... I sometimes have forgotten that some of you may see yourselves in my posts. And some of you truly have. Unfortunately, when I have meant to be pointing the finger at my faults, I may have done so at your convenience. And I am sorry.

It makes me consider... perhaps I shouldn't be writing a blog. I'm almost a little dangerous. Tossing words and thoughts around. There are times when the Lord uses this vessel... and there are times that this vessel brings pain. How do you weigh one against the other?

And so, with hesitation, I continue to write. Being obedient to the Lord. And humbled by the fact that you even read these words at all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: "For You"

This week Beth Moore shared (in the Bible Study Living Beyond Yourself) how she has been amazed at how God granted her a ministry from her misery. When asked by women attending her seminars... why God allowed those things (abuse) to happen to her knowing that she was going to work for Him... she responds "For you."

This is a re post from July 20th, 2007.

Reflections from My Garden


Radiant Perfume, Grandiflora
Portland International Rose Test Garden

Last week I was in my garden trying to kill an ivy plant. The ivy (inherited from the previous owners) has decided to take over one of the mulch beds. I don't like the look of this particular ivy, and I especially do not like the way that its deep roots have begun to interfere with the growth of the plants that are in the same area.

While I was doing my maintenance of the ivy...pulling the leaves and roots...the Lord brought to mind my friend’s daughter. She has been battling with deep depression for many years and the Lord has laid on my heart to intercede in prayer for her.

As I began praying for her and still pulling the ivy, the Lord began to show me how the ivy and the depression were in a way somewhat similar. I can pull the ivy, but the roots are still there...deep. I can try to spray it with herbicide, but it just ends up being a short-term solution. But, I know the Lord can kill the ivy where I can't even see it. Deep down. The ivy that is overtaking my friend's daughter. She will still need to do her part of pulling the ivy...maintaining the garden. But there gets to a point that we can only do what we can do. It doesn't matter how the ivy got there...it's time to get rid of it. I just keep praying to the Lord. Do the thing, Lord. Just do the thing!

I shared this with my friend. She was deeply grateful and was able to share it with her daughter as an encouragement. My friend told me "I am amazed at what is happening. Revealing the deep roots just as you visioned. She is being honest and open about what is going on and seeking help."

As my friend and I were sharing this with other ladies at the Tuesday Bible Study/Prayer time, another dear friend reminded me of a conversation I had with her last year. I immediately remembered the conversation and looked it up in my journal on September 18th. She had told me that the Lord had given her a vision. She said that I was in a field of weeds. God was digging out the weeds. A big flower begins to grow. The past has been harmful and has robbed me. Now, God is removing these things and will make me effective in the lives of others and ministries as well. Weeds are of the past. Circumstances and experiences are painful. But, walk with God and He will remove them.

How cool is that! Thank you, Lord. For all the times You did the weeding. And for using my pain and Your healing to benefit others.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort
we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: It takes one to know one

The other day a Christian sister was telling me that there are so many hypocrites in "the church."

Today, as I was working on my Bible Study on patience, I was asked to review Romans 2:1-2

"... But if you think that leaves you on the high ground
where you can point your finger at others,
think again.
Every time you criticize someone,
you condemn yourself.
It takes one to know one.
Judgmental criticism of others
is a well-known way of escaping detection
in your own crimes and misdemeanors.
But God isn't so easily diverted.
He sees right through all such smoke screens
and holds you to what you've done." The Message


In the study, Beth Moore expresses the point, "We do many of the same things we condemn in others... We often sit on the judgment seat as if to determine and compare degrees of sin. Judgment bears hypocrisy."

And it made me think... Isn't it judgmental to call someone hypocritical? Shouldn't we be slow to judge those who are hypocritical? Because really, instead of judgment... wouldn't it be better to pray for them... to not be hypocritical?

And if we judge someone as hypocritical, and "judgment bears hypocrisy"... then are we hypocrites because we are being judgmental?

And what if those "many hypocrites in 'the church'" are actually hypocrites because they are judgemental?

And what can I say about myself? Yes, I did judge the sister who said "there are so many hypocrites in 'the church'"...

Father, please forgive me for judging those who judge those who judge others. It takes one to know one!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Giving Birth to JOY

Excerpts from My Pregnancy Journal 1999

(I would encourage you to read yesterday's post prior to this post for more background information...)

January 7, 1999
OB/GYN was very kind. Recommended I see a postpartum psychiatrist now. He even felt I could up my Synthroid… What a relief. [Unfortunately, Endocrinologist didn't agree.]

It’s hard to explain/admit my emotional state. I haven’t adjusted well to the pregnancy and I can find no joy or excitement in your upcoming arrival. I want to enjoy your birth and you! This should be a time of anticipation. Not fear or dread.

February 9th
I’ve begun to see a postpartum psychiatrist. She made 2 statements that really were memorable to me:

1. Becoming a mom is a development phase. Essentially, I’m not going through this phase very smoothly, and I need some help.

2. Although past issues may have been resolved, pregnancy is dredging them up again.

My friend said something similar to this. I was telling her that I feel ungrateful about you. She said she has not known me to be ungrateful. Perhaps there are issues that are just on top of the gratefulness.

All of these statements are encouraging. I am basically so into this depression, I can’t see what’s really going on.

March 3rd
I try to watch a “Baby’s Story” everyday. It helps to see the anticipation of the arrival of the baby and the JOY afterwards. I’m beginning to believe that I will be surprised at how much your birth will change my feelings. To JOY and love. Just trying to be optimistic.

April 19th
OB/GYN suggested inducement of labor on April 28th! Sounds like you’ll be an April baby! Your dad says this has lifted my spirits. He is right. Knowing an end is near. And a beginning, too!

April 23rd
You are born! You are so adorable! We just love you. 10 lbs. 21.25 inches. What a big and wonderful baby.

April 24th
Yesterday and today were gorgeous days. I can’t wait to get you home and share a beautiful summer with you. I love you, pumpkin. Love, Mom

April 25th
We’ve fallen for you much harder and quicker then we expected. You’ve captivated us.

May 12th
Visited psychiatrist today. Asked when I should reschedule my next appointment. She said that she could not justify seeing me again. I was doing just fine. And you know what? She was right! No postpartum depression.
***

What an amazing transformation I see over the last few months of my pregnancy. Once I admitted to myself and to Anthony and my OB/GYN that something wasn’t right…

It was the beginning of me choosing JOY.

Even through the end of the pregnancy I was scared to death… but I began trusting that the Lord was in control. Although the emotions were still there… PEACE began to settle in… and then… by the time our precious “little” boy was born… I was the most JOYFUL mother ever… and to this day.


I pray that God,
the source of hope,
will fill you completely
with joy and peace
because you trust in him.

Then you will overflow
with confident hope
through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 NLT

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fruit of the Spirit: Aquainted with Grief

Will you bear with me today? I spent last night weeping over the words I chronicled during my pregnancy. The grief that I was so acquainted with during that time has now become peace and joy. Abundant JOY.

Part of choosing JOY is remembering how faithful our God is during our times of grief. How sometimes it is enough to know that God is my salvation... that He is with me... that He restores me... that He provides the body of Christ to encourage me... that He alone is my JOY.

There are times in our lives... circumstances... seasons... hardships... difficulties... sufferings... sometimes beyond our control... when joy does not appear as an option. That was my pregnancy exactly 10 years ago.

We wanted to have a child. We had been married 10 years. But the fear and the grief that overcame me for those months... well, it made me wonder who I even was in Christ.

Truly, when I was pregnant I couldn't choose joy even if it was on a menu.

I kept a journal during my pregnancy. Mostly, I wrote it to Christopher. But really, I kept it for me. I share it today because I know the sweetness of joy after the bitter taste of hopelessness and grief.

Excerpts from My Pregnancy Journal 1998

September 7 -
[4 weeks into the pregnancy] Your dad and I are worried about losing you. Due to medication I am taking (for my Thyroid Cancer), my doctor thinks my chance of miscarriage is higher than normal. My medications have been lowered so I am not hyperthyroid. [The doctor keeps me hyperthyroid so that the cancer has no opportunity to grow.] Unfortunately, my medications control my entire being. My metabolism.

I'm really scared when I think how much my life is going to change when you are born. I'm overwhelmed. I know God has prepared us for you, but change is normally never easy.

September 20th -
I watched a baby on Friday... You can't imagine how inadequate I felt! I thought God is definitely giving the wrong person a child. He knows me. How could he trust me with a child? I won't know what to do. I guess God knows something I don't.

September 27th -
Sometimes, it scares me. What if the Lord takes you before you are born. How sad everyone will be.

October 2nd -
I really thought about it this morning... not wanting to talk on the phone; not being excited about you; and feeling distant from God. It's all related. I really have nothing left to give. It all goes to you. I am tired. I am nauseous. I am unfeeling. I am a grump.

And what really makes me MAD are the people who tell me I am going to forget about all this -- so maybe to have another child later. How could I? It wouldn't be fair to you or your dad, or me! I don't like how tired and unfeeling I am. Others don't understand. I know they think they do. I really am different. My change in medication would be difficult enough without you. Why do people feel the need to tell me not only their opinion, but as if they are my decision maker? Do I do this? If I do, I hope to learn better.

I think I've said it before, but you are it for me. No other pregnancies. I know God may want to deal with me about this at another time, but right now... I'm barely hanging on.

October 6th -
Sometimes, it's hard to be happy about anything.
December 3rd -
I hope to take a blood test soon for my thyroid levels. They looked fine the last time, but I want to keep track. I think you're fine with my dosage, but I'm not sure I am.

People still ask if I'm excited." I really can't answer that "yes" truthfully. I'm still not feeling well. I still fear my ability to parent. I still dread losing my "freedom." I know you are going to be a blessing in my life, but I don't know how feeling this sick helps me to be "excited."


I'll continue the rest of the story in the next post. Thanks be to God, "weeping may endure for a night, but JOY cometh in the morning"! (Psalm 30:5)