“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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Family Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas!
photography by Anthony

An Annual Family Christmas Tradition.
I saw Santa Claus last night.  

Santa visits my mother's side of the family every Christmas Eve. Without the sounds of jingle bells ringing and a lot of "ho ho ho-ing" it wouldn't be the same.  While there is lots of giggling at the kids table during dinner, there is a hushed whispering at the adult table of who will don the red suit. 
Four out of the six children still believe in Santa.  Since the children are older and would recognize anyone who would pretend to play Santa, even the women are considered to be the jolly old man.   My cousin's girlfriend volunteered.  I'd have to admit that she was possibly our most petite Santa ever.  Instead of sitting on Santa's lap this year, we pulled up an extra chair... we didn't want to have a flattened Santa!

Santa pulls a present out of his her sack and calls each person by name.  Individually we go up and get a present from Santa and a photo opportunity.  It is a fun and most memorable moment of the evening.  I can't remember a year without a Santa Claus... except for the year we were stranded on Christmas Eve at the Chicago airport.

What's your favorite family Christmas tradition?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

As of Late - December 16th, 2010

It's SOOO Fluffy!
photography by sheri

Lately, I've been a little crafty.  I needed a gift for a friend... and I decided to make her this hand knit snowman ornament.  I think she'll like it!  I know I do... and I might just have to make a couple for "my" tree!  I used the same yarn that I use for the ILG hats.  An alpaca silk by Debbie Bliss.

Lately,  I've been researching refrigerators.  Our fridge is over 15 years old and the compressor fan went out.  It would $150 to repair the fridge.  I think I am liking the french door style with the bottom freezer in a stainless steel... without water or ice on the front.  Does Santa deliver refrigerators?

Lately, I've been sitting under my sunlamp.  I had called my psychiatrist and let him know that my Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was hitting pretty hard this year.  Instead of adding any additional meds, he told me to sit under my sunlamp daily.   I have noticed a difference.  My best days are when I sit under it as soon as I wake up.  SAD has to do with the production levels of serotonin and melatonin (which helps you sleep).  With less light we end up producing more melatonin than in the brighter months.  If the sun can be replicated using a sunlamp (not just a bright light, but a light with 10,000 lux), then I can trick my body into thinking it should stop producing melatonin... because it is wake time.   So, basically you should AVOID me in the mornings until I have had my cup of SUN!

Lately, I have been enjoying my Winter Bible Study small group.  What precious ladies that come to my home every Monday morning.  I so love having the routine.  And the friendship, too!

Lately, I have been present shopping.  I come home and hide the gifts and cannot find them even the next day!

Lately, I have discovered that Tassimo carries a T-disc in Twinings Chai Tea Latte.  Wow!  That is a favorite for me.  I use practically all of my 20% off coupons at Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy the T-discs.  (Anthony and I love the Tassimo because it make lattes and the best Starbucks Cappuccino!)

Lately, I have been listening to the audio books In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day and Primal by Mark Batterson.  I have read them before but they are books I want to re-read once a year.  Other books I want to read once a year are Anonymous by Alicia Britt Chole and So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore.

Lately, I have taken a break from new memory verses for the month of December.  I am reviewing the ones that I have memorized throughout the year.  And I am getting prepped to jump back in the 1st of the year with the Siesta Scripture Memory Team.

Lately, I can't wait to watch Despicable Me on DVD with my new nifty goggles.  (Oops, actually that's a Christmas present... and I really should wait to watch it... but it is SOOOO FLUFFFY!)

So, what have you been up to... as of late?

Monday, December 13, 2010

My First 2011 New Year's Resolution

I've made my first resolution for 2011!  I am joining Beth Moore as she hosts another Siesta Scripture Memory Team next year.  Basically, choosing a scripture on the 1st & 15th of every month and committing it to memory.  Stop by the Living Proof Ministries Blog here for more information.  And who knows... maybe we'll meet in person in Houston in January 2012!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Keep open house;
be generous with your lives.

Coptic Church, Ethiopia, November 2010
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

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.
  • 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
  • allowing light, but not detailed images, to pass through;
  • semitransparent
  • 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 8, 2010

He Comes Alongside...
And Then Brings Us Alongside...

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

I went to this seminar (Breakthrough:  Journey Out of Depression) a couple weeks ago on Christians and depression.  One of the things they recommended was to take this survey (Hamilton Survey for Emotional and Physical Wellness) on a regular basis to track how you are doing.  I scored a 14 when I took it on December 6th.  I plan to take the survey about every two weeks.  On the 6th and 20th of every month until I see that I have been able to maintain a 7 or below.  (You'll need to download the pdf file to read how to score the survey.)   One of my friends is going to take it on the 6th and 20th, too.  She scored a 31.  If you take the test, let me know your score, too.

This video on "How The Brain Works" is totally amazing and eye opening.  I know we all wish there was a test to check our serotonin levels, but this is real.  It is undeniable research.

I don't want you to worry about me.  But please pray for me... and my many beloved sisters who suffer with our blessed thorn of clinical depression.  I know I am blogging more about this lately but it is because God is fulfilling His promise to me. 

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah!
Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! 

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, 
and before you know it, 
he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times
so that we can be there for that person 
just as God was there for us. 
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (MSG)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

What Are You Waiting For?

Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days...
A woman in a crowd who had suffered for twelve years...
A woman appeared with a spirit that crippled her for 18 years...
A man who was blind from birth...

"For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and
not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

We often wonder... "How long do I have to wait?"
Until my child is healed of leukemia?
Until I get a job?
Until my marriage is healed?
Until my child learns self-control?
Until I no longer suffer with depression?
Until I get over my heart break?
Until my husband is healed of his addiction?
Indeed. How long? Let's look at the verse that precedes Jeremiah 29:11...

This is what the LORD says:
"When seventy years are completed for Babylon,
I will come to you and
fulfill my gracious promise
to bring you back to this place."
Jeremiah 29:10

When seventy years are completed? Huh? Do I have to wait 70 years?

Honestly, I don't know how long you will have to wait for God to fulfill a promise that He has made to you. In the New Testament we see that Jesus performed miracles for people who waited four days... twelve years... eighteen years... or their whole life.

So, I ask you... can you wait? Can you wait for God's timing? And what will you do if you choose to wait? And if you don't want to wait... what other options are there?

It's painful.
It's exhausting.
It's not easy.

But there is...
...and a Future.

"While I'm Waiting" lyrics by John Waller

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting

I will serve You

While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting

I'm waiting on You, Lord

And I am peaceful

I'm waiting on You, Lord

Though it's not easy

But faithfully, I will wait

Yes, I will wait

I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve You while I'm waiting

I will worship while I'm waiting

I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

John Waller - While I'm Waiting (Official Music Video) from Provident Label Group on Vimeo.

This post is part of a earlier series I wrote on Jeremiah 29:10-13.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Surviving Depression at Christmas

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Dear friend,

I know this year has been hard for you. Everyone is wishing you a MERRY Christmas or a HAPPY Holidays... and you wish that was true. That it was merry or happy.  But it is not.  You are finding no joy in Christmas this year.  Actually, you find Christmas to be stressful... anxiety-ridden... and depressing.

You are struggling to make it through Christmas.  You know friends and family mean well when they say, "it's okay... just be happy... it's Christmas." And you are trying.  Trying so hard, but you're thinking that you just want to lie back down and pull the covers over your head.

Surviving Christmas.  Sometimes... we just have to survive Christmas.  We know it is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  And we are thankful for His birth.  But all the rushing... all the purchases... all the interactions with friends and family... all the EXPECTATIONS... all the unmet expectations... well, it is just so overwhelming.

And so here is my gift to you...
Dear Lord,
I pray You would be with my friend today. That You would give them rest and peace. I pray that You would give sensitivity to those they encounter. I pray that You would plant a seed of hope within them.
You say in Romans 8:11 ...if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  So I pray that You would give life to my friend. Life in their heart, soul, mind and strength.
And that You would be their strength in surviving Christmas.
In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
I love you, friend.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tree Tree Tree

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

We went tree tree tree hunting.  Anthony suggested that this year we each have our own Christmas tree.  (Love this idea!!!)  We went to a local Christmas Tree farm.  Picked our prey.  Stalked them.  And then cut them down!  All three were small enough to fit in the back of the station wagon.

photography by Anthony Kaetzel

The decorating of the tree tree tree.  It was each man (and woman and child) for themselves!  Whoever got to the trimming first got to use it on their tree.  Fortunately, no one else wanted my Hallmark Noelville Lighted Gingerbread Village Series or The Wonder of Christmas Holiday Angels Series or the Hallmark Illuminations Starlight Starbrights Set.  (I did however let Christopher use the Hallmark Illuminations Starlight Tree Topper.  Good mommy.)

The Firs - Noble, Douglas, Grand
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Perhaps a new tradition in our family tree tree tree.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I've been thinking about... The Truth, Again.

 With having friends over for Thanksgiving... 
and starting a Bible Study in my home tomorrow morning... 
I have been thinking a lot about this previous post...

I think it is time you knew the truth about me.

Disclaimer: This post is not for the faint of heart. If you intend to keep me on a pedestal, please read no further!

I don't make my bed everyday. Okay, I maybe make my bed once a week. Well, the truth is that it might not really officially be called "making" my bed... It is more like straightening the covers.

I don't do the dishes every day. I like to let them pile up and then put them into the dishwasher at one time because I have a whole logical schematic as to which items go where.

I have piles of clutter around my house at this very moment. When-am-I-going-to-read-these-books pile. Where-do-I-file-these-papers pile. Need-to-put-this-stuff-in-the-car pile.

But if I knew you were coming over... I would most likely do the dishes. I would definitely throw all my piles of clutter into a laundry basket and shove it in the laundry room. And I might... just might... on a good day... straighten my bed, but most likely... well, the plain truth is... I would just shut the bedroom door.

I had some darling ladies over my home a couple months back. After having visited my home, one of my precious ladies told me that she saw my piles! She actually went looking for them. It relieved her to know that I had piles. Because she has her own piles, and she wondered what other people did with their piles.

Now, mind you, I don't always have piles. I'm pretty organized by most standards. Most of the time I have piles because I want to make sure everything ends up where I can find it at a later date.

I don't hide my piles because I want to impress you. I hide them because I don't want to be distracted by them while you are here. I don't want you to be distracted by them either. It's not that I'm trying to be someone that I'm not... It's just that when you are in my home... I want it to be a haven to you.

I guess I do this in other areas of my life. I may not always greet you with my piles in tow... I may appear to have things together... but I do this because... I want to be a haven to you... whether in my home or in my heart.

I want you to feel free to come over and peek in the laundry room and see my piles. I encourage you to do so. You can even take a peek into the sink... if you must. But in all honesty, when you peek into my bedroom... you'll find the bed unmade... because... well, isn't that what matching bed sheets were made for?

Friday, November 26, 2010

As of Late - November 26th, 2010

Snow Leaf

Lately, we enjoyed a little snow in November.  Before Thanksgiving.  This is totally unusual for Portland, Oregon.  It actually hung around for a bit because the temps were below freezing and it wasn't raining.  That has all changed, now.

Lately, I hosted Thanksgiving Dinner.  This is a stretch for me.  Going from having three people in the home to eleven is overwhelming to me.  Even though it was only for a few hours.  Even though we did almost all the prep work the day before at my friend's home.  Even though she did the shopping and her husband cooked the turkeys.  Even though my guests helped me set up the table and then remove the table and helped me clean the dishes and the kitchen.  Even though someone else picked the turkey.  Somehow it feels like a fault to have a big enough home to host Thanksgiving, but not relish the idea of being the host.

Lately, I have completed the Breaking Free Bible Study for the second time.  I wish I could share everything I learned with you, but I think the best thing is for you to go through it yourself... and take a friend with you.

Lately, I have been prepping for my winter Bible Study.  (My church takes a break from Bible Study  over the month of December and since I have to be in structured Bible Study year round... I schedule my own.)   Earlier this year I came across the Leader Kit for God Will Make a Way:  What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.   Regularly $150.  90% off!  I got it for $15.  DVD (and VHS) and a leader guide and a workbook and the book.  When it came time to start publicizing, I started to question the Lord about His choice for the study.  But then I remembered how He was right on about the Experiencing God study for the summer, so I figured I might as well obey Him.  If you live in the metro Portland area, please join me!

Lately,  I have not been compelled to blog.  But I have been prompted to spend more time one-on-one with dear sisters either on the phone or in person or via e-mail or FB.  Sometimes, it just has to be one-on-one.  And everything else can wait.

Lately, I have been cheering on Christopher at his basketball games.

Lately, I am cherishing having my hubby home.  (In November... 12 days in Ethiopia on a missions trip. Then 2 1/2 days home.  Then a quick 5 day jaunt to Israel for work... And yes, the photos are amazing!) 

So what have you been up to... as of late?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 20

Israel, April 2008
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

They will rebuild the ancient ruins 
and restore the places long devastated; 
they will renew the ruined cities 
that have been devastated for generations.  
Isaiah 61:4

This verse is so meaningful to me.  Part of breaking the cycle of generational devastation is the hope in knowing that those ruins... those ancient ruins... will be rebuilt... and restored... and renewed.  There is hope and joy in that... and a future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Irrational Rationalizations

Ethiopia, April 2010
photography by Anthony Kaetzel

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, 
and so I wouldn't get a big head, 
I was given the gift of a handicap 
to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. 
Satan's angel did his best to get me down; 
what he in fact did was push me to my knees.
No danger then of walking around high and mighty!

At first I didn't think of it as a gift,
and begged God to remove it.
Three times I did that, and then he told me,

My grace is enough;
it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.

Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen.
I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift.
It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.
Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer,
these limitations that cut me down to size—
abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks.
I just let Christ take over!

And so the weaker I get,
the stronger I become.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 MSG

Salty tears have been my companion today.  I am weak.  Perhaps hormones or weather or missing my man.  I see a slippery slope in front of me.  And instead of running from it, I am writing about it.  Because I am allowing God's power to be made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

I won't stay here long... because I know better than to hang out by my slippery slope of depression... but I wanted to share something with you that surprised me this morning.  I know that I know that I know that I should not isolate myself when I feel this way.  I should call one of my precious sisters and have them come alongside me in prayer.  But I have totally rationalized why I should NOT call each one of them!  Perhaps this one is still waking up... or that one is at work... or that one has enough on her plate... or that one won't understand... or that one will try to fix me... or that one is in her own pit of depression... or that one has family in town...   SERIOUSLY!!!!?

Seriously.  It amazed me to see how I rationalized myself into isolation.  And I have a feeling that some of you who share this blessed thorn with me do exactly the same thing.  And I wanted to write while I was still deceptive in my thinking so that you could hear me clearly because this type of behavior resonates with you.

So speak encouraging words to one another.
Build up hope so you'll all be together in this,
no one left out,
no one left behind.
I know you're already doing this;
just keep on doing it.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 MSG

My words to you today... don't isolate.  Reach out of yourself.  Let someone speak encouraging words to you.  Build up hope in you.  We are not meant to do this alone.

And now I am off to heed my own advice.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you, Lord, for your strength moving in on my weakness... and for reminding me that we're all in this together.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Wow-A-Thon

...holding fast the word of life, 
so that in the day of Christ 
I will have reason to glory 
because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. 
Philippians 2:16 NASB


Earlier this year, I felt a prompting from the Lord.  Well, actually, a couple promptings... first was to be the president of the parent-teacher association at Christopher's school (our current president was ending her term) and second was to change one of the school fund-raisers from a gift wrap sale (something tried and true) to a jog-a-thon (a complete unknown).  The promptings were strong... and I knew if I were to ignore them I would not be following the leading of the Spirit that I felt inside.  Actually I would be squelching the Spirit.  Not following = disobedience.  Following = obedience.  And I have known the consequences of both, so I decided to follow the leading.

Although I was perfectly aware that I had the capabilities to do both jobs, I also have the ability of running myself into the ground when I take on a task that is new and especially time sensitive and involves the potential to cause others to become disgruntled with me.  I saw these two promptings having the potential of thrusting me into a full blown break down... and that is a no-no for me considering my thorn of chronic depression.

So, although I love my Lord with all my heart, I begged Him to release me of these promptings.  Reminding Him of how fragile I really am.  How I might ruin my reputation.  And definitely, how I might crumble to pieces.  I reminded Him that this was not a fit for the different ministries He has been developing in my life... and that perhaps there was someone else who would be more than willing to do the job.  Er, make that jobs.  But He reminded me that He has called me to obedience... and that if He has called me to a God-sized task the onus would be upon Him to see that it would get done.

And so, I obeyed.

And every time that I began to feel overwhelmed or burdened or alone, I would remind myself that I was to be obedient... and it was His responsibility to make the thing come together... the God-sized task.  That I didn't have to force it.  I didn't have to own it.  I didn't have to make it happen.  He would.  And He did.  There were times when I had to drop everything for the jog-a-thon because my family comes first.  I had to keep my priorities straight.  And with each step I saw Him bringing each piece into place.  Better than I could have imagined.  With creativity and funding and volunteers.  It was amazing.

The jog-a-thon committee had set our goal as $11,000... not knowing what to expect and considering that the year before we had raised $11,000 in product sales which net $5,500 for the school.  I agreed to the goal... but secretly, I had a smaller goal to at least match the $5,500 from the previous year,  and a dream goal of $7,500.  I thought $11,000 was too high of a goal... and that $7,500 would do just fine for the year.  There were some who thought that a jog-a-thon would not motivate the older middle school students... there were some who thought we had not done enough advertising... there were some who thought we should have just sold gift wrap, again.

The first day money came in we had about $3,000.  I figured that would be the biggest day of receipts.  Then the total went to $3,800.  Then $5,500... so you know I could breathe a sigh of relief.  But then came the total of $7,500 with two days to go.  And I thought, "Lord, you outdid yourself!  Thank you!"  And then I had to leave with two days left to go for a trip to Maryland.  I had to relinquish all control.  I had to leave my "baby" that I had nurtured.  I just had to.  Go.

And so, I waited to hear the totals... from 3,000 miles away.  Would any more money come in?  And I got the e-mail that on the last collection day about $3,000 more dollars had been received.  And I sent back a note indicating that I was crying my eyes out.  Within moments, I got a second e-mail that said I better just get a larger tissue because the secretary decided to pop into the classrooms to see if any additional donations had been turned in... and there had been... and we were at $11,100.  On the last day to collect.  We had met our goal... and have since went on to over $12,000 in donations received (which is 100% net profit).

I had struggled with the Lord about a jog-a-thon being so temporal and not spiritual.  That I was focusing on money.  But then He gently asked me what I had been praying for the last three years every Friday morning in our lower school conference room with other praying moms... and I said school-wide (including parents, church, school board, teachers, students...) unity.  And He said He was answering that prayer.  Not just with the jog-a-thon, but He would use that... and so with over 85% of our kindergarten through 8th grade families participating in raising funds... and how the students are asking when can we do it, again... and with a nay-sayer or two with their jaws on the ground... Well, I guess I see what He was talking about.

And it is all very humbling as I have received congratulations on a job well-done... and I just want to say...
It wasn't me... 
I didn't want to do it.  
It's all Him.  
I was just being obedient.

But now I get to enjoy the blessing of the fruit which He produced.  And marvel at the fact that He took a jog-a-thon and made it a wow-a-thon...

Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.
Psalm 37:3-5 NLT

Saturday, November 6, 2010

"When Did We See You?"

Ethiopia, April 2010
photography by Anthony

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, 
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, 
I was a stranger and you invited me in, 
I needed clothes and you clothed me, 
I was sick and you looked after me, 
I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, 
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, 
or thirsty and give you something to drink?  

When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, 
or needing clothes and clothe you?  

When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, 
whatever you did for one of the least of these 
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  
Matthew 25:35-40 
My husband, Anthony, is in Ethiopia with a team from our church (including one of his brothers who lives in New Jersey).  The team is training local missionary pastors as well as a food distribution and children's outreach through soccer.   Your prayers are appreciated... for them... for Ethiopia... and maybe a prayer or two for their families who are left behind...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

For My Dear Sister-In-Blog

When my dear sister-in-blog, Elaine, at peace for the journey announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer on August 24th, I knew I wanted to make something special for her.  Knowing that she would soon be losing her hair to chemo, I thought a hat would be a good idea.  Perhaps something pink... and soft... and then I thought... I bet she would like an ILG Hat.  (For more information about the ILG Hat stop by this post.)

I e-mailed her and asked her if she would like an ILG Hat and what color?  She said she would treasure whatever was gifted, and so I went about making her one with the creamy off-white color I have used in the past.  I have two of my own.  One in the creamy color and one in pink.  (I've lost count on how many I have made in total... I think this is my 10th.)

But as I looked at the pattern of the single cable crossing over one another, it appeared to me that the pattern could easily be made into a breast cancer awareness pink ribbon.  How wonderful!  So, I retrieved the left over pink I had used for my pink hat and trimmed the hat in pink and then added the pink yarn into a "ribbon" using a crochet hook.  I am tickled PINK with the outcome.

My tradition is to pray for the recipient of the item as I am knitting it.  When I am done, I wear it around the house and pray for the recipient... and I even wear it one time out in public.  Now, that this routine is completed, it is time to wrap it up and send it on its way to its rightful owner. 

With Breast Cancer Awareness Month coming to a close, I realize that I will never think of it in the same way now that such a precious person in my life has been affected.  If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I encourage you to stop by Elaine's blog for encouragement.  She is the epitome of braveness, authenticity and hope.

Friday, October 29, 2010

...and it looks like I can safely turn the radio and heat back on.

Fall.  It's here.  Rain.  Darker days.  But beauty all around as the colors change and leaves are still on the trees.

I've missed being here.  At The Leaking Window... and visiting your blogs.  But you know what it is like when the gas tank is way past empty and you start turning everything off in the car and try to become as aerodynamic as possible?  You turn off the radio and the heat (or a/c) and hold your breath hoping you'll make it to the gas station barely making it on fumes?  That's been me the past couple of days.  I've had to cut back on a lot of things that in and of themselves would not drain me at all, but combined together... well, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to the station or not.  But I did.  And here I am.  In the process of being refueled.

Actually, it was accidental.  My husband was expecting a package and it needed to be signed for  delivery.  He had meetings.  Was I busy?  Yes, I was.  But he needed this package today, and so I canceled my plans and waited.  And although I missed out on some fun, I have been relaxing a bit today... and feeling like I can breathe, again.  And don't have to worry quite as much as about being  aerodynamic.

Busier than I would like to be.  It was the "perfect storm" of commitments running into one another. But the jog-a-thon and 50th anniversary party (which included a trip to Maryland) have successfully passed... and successful they were!  And now it is on to those commitments I pushed to the side... which include rest... and blogging my thoughts... doing the laundry... and various other sundries.  The adrenaline kept me going, but it was exhausting.  I feel like I have forgotten birthdays and friendships and let people down... but that is still the exhaustion talking.  Deep breath.  No condemnation.  New day.  New mercies.

Well, I certainly do have a lot to recount from the past week, but that will wait for another post.  Especially the jog-a-thon.  Especially the anniversary party.  And I am very excited to show you a little project I worked on during the flights to and from Maryland, but that will wait, too.  Right now, I need to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer.  I need to take a couple more deep breaths... and it looks like I can safely turn the radio and heat back on.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

As of Late - October 17, 2010 (aka 500th post)

Time to Celebrate!

As of late... I have published my 500th post!

Lately, I have been enjoying this crazy sunny weather.  Our tomatoes are seriously still ripening on the vine (and they are delicious!)... I am not suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder (relief!)... and the days seem longer than usual.

Lately, I watched my husband complete his 10th marathon on 10/10/10.  (Don't forget that next year we get to go to Boston!)  Christopher and I did the Family 10k.  They dropped us off at mile 20 and we walked the last 6.2 miles alongside the runners.

Lately, I helped to organize a jog-a-thon fund raiser at my son's school.  And let me tell you that I am really popular, now.  The kids love me!  Well, it might have something to do with all those silly bandz that were handed out... but we had a beautiful day and the kids had a lot of fun!  And the parents and teachers, too!

Lately, I have been looking for photos for my in-law's 50th anniversary.  I am so excited that Christopher will be able to be there for the celebration... to see two people that he adores celebrate a wonderful milestone.  (Plus he can get ideas of what to do for his parent's 25th in 3 years!)

Lately, I have been considering a train trip to Seattle to visit friends (who recently moved due to a job relocation).  Hoping that Seattle isn't really all that far away from Portland :(  

Lately, I have been made more aware of the human trafficking industry in Portland.  It is painful for me to get my brain around it, but I feel the need to start praying... knowing that God will...  

bring good news to the poor... 
comfort the brokenhearted... 
proclaim that captives will be released 
 and prisoners will be freed... 
tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come, 
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies... 
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, 
a joyous blessing instead of mourning... 
festive praise instead of despair... 
Isaiah 61:1-3 NLT

And lately, I have been hearing of how the Lord is answering prayer... after prayer... after prayer... and I am rejoicing with those who are the recipients of these answered prayers... and my faith is growing and becoming more emboldened as I pray for those whose prayers have yet to be answered.

 Post Script...
Thank you for your support and encouragement over the past 500 posts.   I think of all the times that I quit blogging... wondering why I was blogging at all...
Ray Kinsella: What are you grinning at, you ghost?
Shoeless Joe: "If you build it -" [gestures toward catcher, who is Ray's father, John Kinsella] "- he will come."
Ray : "Ease his pain. Go the distance." It was him!
Shoeless Joe: No, Ray. It was you.
And I guess this is my very own Field of Dreams... and although I thought my blogging was meant for someone else... it was actually for me... for my benefit.  "To ease my pain."  And for me to "go the distance."  Thanks for coming along for the ride!  

Saturday, October 16, 2010

1st & 15th Scripture Memory 2010: Verse 19

To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness"
planted by God to display his glory.
Isaiah 61:3 MSG

I am currently memorizing Isaiah 61:1-4 NIV.  But I love to read scripture in different translations of the Bible.  Gives a different viewpoint, doesn't it?

I'll be at least a memory verse short this year.  I took four weeks to memorize my last verse instead of two.  And looking at the length of this verse... perhaps I'll take four weeks for it, too.

Beth Moore will be hosting a Siesta Scripture Memory Team next year.  It definitely behooves me to do this as part of a team.  Maybe you'll join me?

I hope you enjoy your bouquet of roses, today!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Then Neither Do I Condemn You, Again

This was the original follow-up post to I Can't Remain Silent.  (I try to add the word "Again" at the end of the post titles that I am re-posting.) 
I just realized that the verse from Isaiah is my current memory verse.  Remember, I love you.

...bind up the brokenhearted,
...proclaim freedom for the captives
...comfort all who mourn,
...provide for those who grieve

...bestow on them a crown of beauty

instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness

instead of mourning,
...a garment of praise

instead of a spirit of despair.

condensed from Isaiah 61:1-3

I didn't mean to make you cry. But some of you did.

For some of you... the previous post easily could have been your own story. You've been there. Your tears were for the mother and daughter I wrote about... but they were also for yourself.

And then... there are some of you... and this is where my heart breaks... that made a different decision. You had the abortion. And you haven't told anyone. Not even a soul. And sometimes it seems daily that you struggle with the decision you made. And you wonder how could God forgive you? Because you can't even forgive yourself.

And if anyone knew... especially in the church! Well, the scorn and the shame... it really would be too much to bear. And you keep your struggle to yourself. And you are barely getting by some days.

I want you to know that I pray for you. I think of how hard it must be for you. Especially sitting in church or Sunday School. Hearing people gasp at the thought of a Christian making a choice to have an abortion.

I know you are there. The statistics tell me. But it will never come up in conversation. And I understand that.

But after listening to the testimony of another woman at the Pregnancy Resource Center's fund-raiser, I knew I had to let you know... that you are on my heart.

The second testimony was a precious woman who spoke of her three abortions. And I have to admit the rest of her story slips my mind... because all I could think about was her. Being there. Sharing her story so that others might share in the abundant life she found through a Bible Study called HEART.

Whenever I hear women speak of HEART their eyes glisten with tears when they talk of it. And you know that their lives are not the same because of HEART and they are eternally grateful.

HEART provides safe and confidential post-abortion support groups for men and women -- offering hope, comfort and healing. If you live in the Greater Portland, Oregon area you can call 503-22HEART or visit their website. For any other area stop by this website to find a local Pregnancy Resource Center.

If you or someone you love is facing an unplanned pregnancy, I want you to know that the Pregnancy Resource Centers are compassionate and caring. They are truly a resource. I had the privilege of volunteering at our local Pregnancy Resource Center and I was touched by the love that enveloped each woman... no matter what her decision. No condemnation. No persuasion. Just love. God's love... Jesus... poured out through human vessels.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?"
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
John 8:3-5, 7, 9-11

Dear sisters, you are so precious to me. If it were not for Jesus, we would all have the imprints of stones on us. Death itself. But we don't have to live there.

There is hope. There is help. There is Jesus.

I love you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I Can't Remain Silent, Again.

I've been thinking about this post lately... it was originally aired November 1, 2009.  I was in the midst of the Esther Bible Study when I went to the annual PRC Gala.

"For if you remain silent at this time,
relief and deliverance for the Jews
will arise from another place,
but you and your father's family will perish.
And who knows but that you have come to
royal position for such a time as this?"
Esther 4:14

I sat there amazed.

A Reversal of Destiny. Chiastic Structure. Divine Insomnia. Peripety. A Story Worth Telling.

No, I wasn't sitting there reading the book of Esther or working on my Esther Bible Study. I was at a fund-raising event for our local Pregnancy Resource Center.

I sat listening. Entranced. There she was on the stage... an Esther of sorts. Telling about a hinge in her life that redirected her path.

She had been 19 when her boyfriend sat her down and told her that there were only two options. Abortion or adoption. And truth be told... he wanted her to have an abortion.

She had been raised in a christian home. Her parents were active in their church. Her heart hurt over the shame she would cause them... so she remained silent.

They secretly set up an appointment with an abortion clinic. After hearing the details, they decided to schedule the abortion for the next day.

The next day? The tomorrow? That sounded familiar.

If the king regards me with favor and
if it pleases the king
to grant my petition and fulfill my request,
let the king and Haman come tomorrow
to the banquet I will prepare for them.
Then I will answer the king's question.
Esther 5:8

And then she said... that in the night... she thought to herself... I need to talk to someone else before the abortion. But who? And then she recalled seeing brochures around her home about the Pregnancy Resource Center.

Not sleeping? Divine Insomnia? Brochures... chronicles?

That night the king could not sleep;
so he ordered the book of the chronicles,
the record of his reign,
to be brought in and read to him.
Esther 6:1

She told her boyfriend that before she had the abortion, she wanted to go to the Pregnancy Resource Center and talk to someone. And so they did.

And the counselor asked her if she wanted the abortion. And she said no. And the counselor asked her why she was having the abortion. And she said she wanted her boyfriend to say STOP! But he wasn't going to stop her... so she decided to do it.

She decided to stop herself.

And my heart is in my throat... because I am so like... PERIPETY! Here it is... here is THE HINGE! The hinge on which the reversal of destiny turns! Can you believe it?

And THEN she tells us that she hadn't told her daughter until recently. She decided to tell her -- after her daughter threw a Tea Party (or a feast/banquet of sorts), and asked that the money raised from the party go to the Pregnancy Resource Center. Her high school daughter didn't know the story. The Story Worth Telling!

And I am so like... GET OUT OF HERE! Chiastic Structure!? The very place (Pregnancy Resource Center) that had rescued her... she is now trying to rescue (by raising money).

The Reversal of Destiny. A precious daughter destined to be aborted...

And there she was... the precious daughter... in the room with us. Standing there. And she was beautiful and lovely. An Esther of sorts. Who had sat through her mother telling us Her Story Worth Telling.

With my heart in my throat, I quietly thanked the Lord that I was privileged to hear this story... and to hear it within days of learning about Reversal of Destiny in session six of the Esther Bible Study. And that it would be seared in my mind. Not just a lesson to be learned, but a story to be told.

A story of life. A story of redemption.

A story worth telling... and I thought... I can't remain silent.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I have a reputation of being a prude.

It happens in a blink, It happens in a flash...

You may want to skip this reading this post.  I'm getting on my soap box... I'm a little emotional... and most of you will find this contentious, so here's your way out... S T O P  READING NOW!

I have a reputation of being a prude.  Although I disagree with that assessment, I will not deny that many times I may come across that way.  Actually, I like to think of myself not as a prude... but as prudent.  

Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm angry or incensed or mad or frustrated.  Why?  Because there is a current Facebook message that is circulating around that says something to the effect of:  "In order to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month: Women will be posting to their Facebook status where they put their handbag the moment they get home... ie likes it on the couch, likes it on the kitchen counter or likes it on the dresser."  For those of you unfamiliar with Facebook, basically a status would look like this
Sheri Kaetzel likes it on the kitchen counter.
And here's the big joke... we are NOT supposed to let men know what we are talking about... as if they are imbeciles.  And in reality men aren't even concerned with what we are talking about because the innuendo is obvious... and intentional... my status has now become a sexual innuendo.  I have caused someone pause to wonder... What exactly does Sheri like on the kitchen counter?

Perhaps this wouldn't bother me quite as much but last year to "encourage Breast Cancer Awareness" this same type of message was sent around but this time it was encouraging women to write the color of the bra they were wearing as their status.  And again... hee hee, don't tell the men.  Of course, the men did find out... and that meant that my husband and the rest of the world knew the colors of the bras that young girls in my church were wearing that day.  Sad.  All in the name of "promoting" Breast Cancer Awareness... not.

Why this bothers me so much?  Because I have a history of sexual dysfunction in my generational background.  I am bound and determined to break that cycle for the generations to come.  And that includes my son.  We are raising him to be pure of heart and soul and mind... and body.  And to one day look forward to a loving marriage without sexual baggage to take along... and to find a young woman with the same heart and soul and mind... and body.

And if you have ever read Shaunti Feldhahn's For Women Only:  What You Need To Know About The Inner Lives of Men... you'll know what I am talking about... men's minds are wired a certain way... which is much different than women's minds.  We think we are being cute or funny... or supposedly promoting a good cause... but what we are really doing are leading men's minds to think on things that are not really lovely or pure or honorable...

And you know what, you can disagree with me all you like, but the thing is that I was raised thinking EVERYthing was a sexual innuendo whether it was or not... and then I started making sexual innuendos with  men... not caring the least bit whether they were married or not... just wanting their attention.  So when I made a decision to stop the sexual dysfunction in my own life... one of the things that had to change was sexual innuendos.  I had to stop thinking EVERYthing was a sexual innuendo... and I had to stop causing others to stumble, too.

Now, you may think this is my problem.  And I need to get over it.  And you are right.  But the thing is if you take a look around... this is a huge problem.  And these little innuendos may be cute for the moment... but they may assist in the downfall of someone else.

And I'm truly sorry if this makes anyone feel guilty about their status.  That is NOT my intent.  My intent is to help you have an awareness of the slippery slope that a lot of us live on... and to remember that we are in this world, but not of it.  And that there are better ways to promote October as Breast Cancer Awareness month.   Maybe with a status something like:
Sheri Kaetzel would like to remind everyone that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  And she thanks God that there is HOPE... and a future... for those who have been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. 

Okay... I'm done now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Perfection, Again

Originally "aired" on October 3, 2008... and currently on my mind...

 I was accused of being a perfectionist. I was shocked and aghast! I have never considered myself to be a "perfectionist"... why just look at how imperfect I am!

Look at how messy my car is! or how unorganized my spare room is! or how I leave dishes in the sink... and don't make my bed! How I normally just want to get the job done more than I want a well done job. I mean, really!

But the person who pointed it out... is very truthful... and she knows me... very well... and I have given her permission to call me on the carpet. So, I really had to consider it. She didn't say it flippantly or without thought. She saw it in me... and for my benefit... confronted me with it. In love. Having prayed over me.

I immediately thought about my blog... especially my Substandard post. All the unwritten words... or written and kept in draft because they just weren't good enough. Words that could have brought hope or healing... left unsaid... because I am afraid of what you might think.

I think of my friendships. How I want everyone to like me... and when there is someone who continues to reject me... how might I win them over?

I think of Christopher and how I want him to succeed in school. But deep down... not only succeed, but to be better than most.

I think of my health and how I want to not have to deal with the ups and downs of having Thyroid Cancer, and low calcium, and clinical depression.

I think of how I feel after leading my Bible Study table on Tuesdays... wondering if I made a difference or did I offend someone?


And why did my friend see the need to talk to me about it? Because, she wants me to relax. She wants me to depend on God and not myself for the outcome. She wants me to be okay with the ordinary because sometimes that is what is called for... and she sees it in herself... and wants me to pray for her, too.

So, what about you? Is there an area of you life in which you are a perfectionist? Let me know... and we can pray about it together...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are You Wavering In Your Faith Today?

Beelieving God

I'm in the process of coordinating a jog-a-thon at our school.  You need a lot of help to pull off a fund raiser... help from people you know... and help from people you don't know.  I don't hesitate handing off job assignments to those people who I am acquainted with... because I have worked with them in the past.  I have confidence that they will complete the assignment.  

But I have realized a very real hesitation when I consider handing off assignments to people I am not familiar with.  They may be completely and overwhelmingly capable of the assignment... and perhaps have even coordinated a jog-a-thon in the past, but if I don't know their abilities or accomplishments... I don't blindly assume they will or can get the job done... I have to get to know them. 
Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"
"From childhood," he answered. 
"It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. 
 But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.

 "'If you can'?" said Jesus. 
"Everything is possible for him who believes.

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, 
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Mark 9:21-24
Ever wonder how you can overcome your unbelief in someone?  You get to know them.  The more you know them and the more you learn about them... about their willingness to promise and fulfill that promise.  That they speak and then they act.  You start to build up  a confidence in them.  You start to have faith in them.  You know what they have done... what they are capable of... and you trust them.

Ever wonder how you can overcome your unbelief in God?  Get to know Him.  The more you know about Him and the more you learn about Him... about his willingness to promise and fulfill that which He has promised.  That He speaks and then He acts.  You start to build up confidence in Him.  You start to have faith in Him.  You know what He has done... what He is capable of... and you trust Him.

God is not a man, that he should lie, 
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act? 
Does he promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23:19

Are you wavering in your faith today?  I have been.  But today, as I was working on my Bible Study, Breaking Free, I have been in the Word of God.  I have been learning more about God.  I have been reading of His faithfulness and it has been reminding me of His faithfulness in my life.  How I have seen in my own life that He is faithful.

My encouragement to you today is to get to know God better... and the benefit of that knowledge will be that your belief in Him will go from struggling... to certainty. 

...because I know whom I have believed, 
and am convinced that he is able 
to guard what I have entrusted to him 
for that day.  
2 Timothy 1:12

This post was inspired by Day 1 (The Obstacle of Unbelief) of Week 3 (Removing the Obstacles) of the Bible Study, Breaking Free.  It also took me back to Day 2 (Encounters with God Require Faith) of Unit 7 (The Crisis of Belief) of my summer Bible Study, Experiencing God.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Somewhere between.

I am hiding today.  The weather is beautiful.  I am sitting in my garden.  And I am working on my Breaking Free Bible Study.  And I have been studying about experiencing God's peace... and enjoying God's presence.  And today I need that.  Because I am somewhere between the dailiness of life... and the sacredness of life.  Somewhere between folding the laundry... and reading the Bible.  Somewhere between hanging on Facebook... and praying for a friend.  Somewhere between soaking in the sun... and raising money to build churches in Ethiopia.

Somewhere between.

I easily get frustrated with the daily life.  The routine of it all. Fretting over what to wear or how late I will be or why certain commercials are shown during sports programs or why someone didn't speak to me or my plants didn't ripen or when will this road construction end or who do I call to clean the gutters or will the Republicans win the House.

And I wonder how to balance it with the fact that a dear friend just had a stroke... or is struggling to quit smoking... or is wondering when her wayward husband will return... or is wondering when her husband will no longer be addicted to alcohol... or is wondering if she will ever be the love of her husband's life... or will she ever find a husband... or will she get through this depression... or survive this breast cancer...

Perspective.  Peace.  Presence.  All given by a Holy God. 
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and 
when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  
For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:2-3
I admit that I more readily turn to God to grant me perspective, peace and presence in the circumstances that I cannot control.  I cannot heal someone... or free them from an addiction... or mend a broken relationship.  But I know He can.

Somewhere between.

But for those circumstances that He has allowed me to have some control over... "those far less strenuous circumstances" where I am "not as desperate" I find myself struggling without perspective, without peace or without sensing His presence.  Because I have not sought Him on these things.  And I struggle somewhere between my need to control a situation and my need to relinquish control over a situation I deem not overwhelming enough to hand over to a Holy God.

So, today... while I am hiding in His presence... and asking for peace and perspective on the things I cannot control... I have decided to ask for His peace and His perspective on things that I think I need to control.

That He would grant peace and perspective
for this and
for that and
for everything between.