Thursday, May 29, 2008

Re-opened Wounds

We suddenly lost my husband's beautiful cousin Lana Stempien almost three years ago in a boating accident. She and her boyfriend Chuck Rutherford were traveling from her parent's summer home in Canada on Lake St. Clair to Mackinac Island. Lana checked in with her parent's the first night as she promised to do each night. Spoke to them again the next morning as well as her Aunt Pat around noon. That was August 11, 2005; no one saw or heard from her after that.

Her boat "Sea's Life" was discovered by the coast guard the following morning idling in neutral with the radio on. Lana and her boyfriend Chuck were not on board. It wasn't until thirteen days later that her remains were discovered near the Shoreline of Lake Huron in the brutally cold water. To this day Chuck's remains have not been found.

This week a couple walking along the shoreline of Lake Huron discovered male human remains and there is a 1:4 chance the remains belong to Chuck. Lana's family with the exception of her parent's have had time to heal and accept the fate of her short life. We all miss her terribly but have had time to heal. My wounds have been re-opened today. Not because I'm suddenly even more sad she is gone but because I know what a terrible time Lana's parents are already having day to day just trying to cope with the elephant on their chest. The news casts and newspaper articles have caused them to relive the the days she was missing and her death all over again. My heart is broken for them, for their suffering.

The day of Lana's funeral was the most difficult time I've ever endured. I have never in my life witnessed so much gut wrenching pain. I have never seen my husband in the condition I found him in that day when he and his cousins read together at her funeral. I have never in my life seen so many people so broken. I am grateful that the sharp grief has passed for us. I pray that the same healing soon come to be know by her parent's as well.

Lana was an attorney for the city of Detroit and her boyfriend owned his own law practice. They each were only in their thirties and had what seemed like their entire lives ahead of them. Lana was a vibrant, gorgeous, young-woman who captured the attention of everyone when she entered a room. She was outgoing, friendly, loyal, vivacious, and loving. Words can't possibly embody all that Lana was to everyone who knew her. Our family must tortuously wait for news as to whom the remains belong to. Rest in peace Lana. Jesus, send comfort, peace, and love to Tom and Carol Stempien now with this news and the approaching anniversary and Lana's birthday. May your presence and love be felt.

For more of the story and details regarding the disappearance of Charles Rutherford and death of Lana Stempien, click on the following links:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All twisted and knotted

My nerves are just a big ball of jumble today. I've only got a few days left and the inside of my home is no further along than it was on Thursday or Friday! I'm just completely overwhelmed at this point because there are days of things today and um, I still have a very busy life to attend to outside of packing our things. Where is help when you need it!?! My mother-in-law does have my twin girls today so that is a huge help and blessing. My garage is pretty much empty with the exception of a few things that need to go into storage and the backyard is empty as well. That actually is a pretty huge accomplishment. I'm not really sure how people do this in one weekend.

Well, I guess I can't really hide behind this thing forever so I better get busy. This is what's on my "to do" list this week.

-lots & lots of laundry
-finish packing up the furnace room, tools, decorations, etc.
-my husband needs to finish his paperwork stuff downstairs
-pack up the bar area and glasses and such
-pack up mine and the kids books
-pack up and move Mallory and Hailey's toys
-clean my ever so disgusting living room!
-wash and pack the last of our linens
-pack up my kitchen (not one thing has been packed in there yet)

Before I overwhelm myself any further I'm just gonna go get started in the basement.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Taking a break from the countdown...

With only 11 days left in our home the last thing I should be doing is cleaning. I should be filling boxes and emptying cupboards.

The packing is well under way with our upstairs, where our bedrooms and main bath are, being completely packed with the exception of our beds, clothes, and a few pair of shoes. But, our downstairs is still a nightmare. We've gotten a storage unit and have begun to move a few things out.

I started in my kitchen this morning but instead of filling boxes I've been cleaning like I've never cleaned before in the four years we've lived here. It's more of the same that I've done to the other rooms I've already "completed." Down to scrubbing walls, patching holes, and even vacuuming the crumbs from the cracks of the hardwood floor! I'd love to say it's the Girl Scout in me "always leave a place better than how you found it." Or that I'm preparing the home for the family that will occupy it next. The truth is, I'm certain it's my feeble attempt to wash away my mistakes. I had to pause for a second and catch my breath because that is a painful thing to admit. I've made big mistakes that have affected my entire family and our entire future. But, I know my God is faithful and he will restore it all.

It does feel good though, knowing the house will be in the best possible shape for whomever moves in. There is also a lot self-gratification involved in cleaning, for me anyway (an illness I know).

On the flip-side to all of it, there are a few doors that have begun to crack open. My husband works for General Motors and we live smack dab in the middle of "Motor City." My husband started at GM as a contract employee and when he came home and told me he'd been offered a salary position, the sky parted, angels sang, and I saw Jesus himself. So I was more than disappointed and outraged when three months later my husband began to plot his plan to leave GM! Who does that! People don't leave GM! "As soon as I'm finished with my degree," he'd say. Well it's been close to 10 years and he's down to his final few classes and planned to start looking for open positions with other companies soon.

Open door #1: My husband has been offered a buy-out from GM. If he doesn't take it, he won't be penalized or laid off. He has 45 days to decide and if he does take it and begin a new position right away with another company we're looking dead in the face of the miracle we have prayed for! It's right there, I can almost touch it.

We've also chatted for a number of years about leaving the state so we are looking into a few different states. As painful as this process with our home has been, it has been our prayer that God be in control and his will be done in our lives. That Jesus open the necessary doors and provide the necessary funds for us to carry out his will. I don't find it a coincidence that my husband is offered a buy-out months shy of completing his degree at the same time that we are no longer tied to a home. We aren't all the way there yet. We still have many prayers ahead of us and a few more doors that have not yet been opened.

A few months ago an elder at church told my husband and I that he felt we had a calling on our lives for a "mission." I have kept this in the back of my mind since then and while watching Extreme Home Makeover on Sunday it hit my like a ton of bricks. I have felt a tug to New Orleans since the hurricanes and while browsing the job bank of the company my husband is looking to relocate to I noticed Louisiana on the list. I wasn't sure at the time but I specifically checked to see if jobs were available in Louisiana. That TV show on Sunday was like confirmation for me. I don't know what God has in mind for us or how he wants to use us but I do feel led to pray about relocating to Louisiana to help re-build. I can't think of a better place to start over with so many people who have been forced to do the same; to re-build what they lost. I can't think of a better place for my children to learn and grow and earn a sense of community but from a "mission" like this one. I can't say for sure but I at least know that is how I feel led to pray.

I braced myself when I told my husband; I thought for sure he'd scream, yell, and insist I was out of my mind. But, he agreed to pray with me about it. We are both in a position more so than ever before where we are surrendered. We will follow where the Lord leads us. I know our lives are a living testimony and God wants to use us in a big way and I can't help but feel like this place we are in now is the beginning. Not the beginning of our story, but the beginning of when he can finally trust us and use us. Joy exudes from every poor, so much that I cannot contain. I am eager to know where he has called us and even more eager to go. I surrender.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mother's Day

May 11, 1995 is the day my son was born, a Thursday. I don't have to look it up. I'll just always remember it was Thursday. He is our first born. We weren't yet married. I was only seventeen, hadn't yet graduated high school, and my now husband was only nineteen. Tyler was born in May, I graduated high school with honors in June, and we were married in August. May 11th wasn't Mother's Day that year but I'm certain it was no coincidence that the day my son turned thirteen, his birthday would fall on Mother's day.

Saturday night I cried as I wrote to him in his new "Teenage" bible we had purchased for his birthday. Sunday morning, I cried as he opened it. This day was so many things to me. I cried not because my baby is thirteen. Well, sort of because my baby is thirteen. But more because of the fact that he has left childhood. He is no longer a boy. He is now on an incredible journey to finding himself. He is about to enter the most difficult years of his life. He is about to discover who this God is that we have taught him about and determine if God is "his" God or just his parent's God. I also cried because I am so incredibly grateful for the presence God has always had in our lives. For his grace and mercy, for his faithfulness, for the place we are today. Especially compared to where we started. We may have started backward, but our life is a living testimony to what God can do if you put him first.

My husband and I are coming up on our thirteenth wedding anniversary! We are both even more in love now then ever before. As we each grow closer to the Lord the level of love and joy in our lives increases exponentially. We have been blessed with five healthy, happy, beautiful children who also love the Lord so much. I am blessed with every smile, giggle, hug, bruise, scrape, and even the arguments and spatters. I am blessed each time they show love and affection toward each other. Tyler recently had his front teeth collide with a boy's head at one of Faith's softball games. She told me after the game, she wanted to cry because she was concerned for him. When it really counts, when they are tested, they come together. That is a bond that God's love has helped us to form in our home.

Another even more important aspect of Mother's Day that I appreciated this year is the way my relationship with my mom has blossomed. When I was growing up my older cousin lived with us much of the time and she was the one I confided in. After I was married, my relationship with my mother-in-law developed which became another barrier between my own mom and I. My mother-in-law became my friend. But through circumstances I learned that certain people in your life need to stay within certain parameters. So in recent months I began to avoid the advice and help of both my mom and mother-in-law and make my own decisions and stand on my own two feet. I found strength in myself. More importantly, it has allowed me to require a need to rely on Jesus. Because I take my circumstances to Him and depend on Him to bring about change and seek his advice I was able to take that expectation off of my mother and mother-in-law and also prevent unsolicited advice. Well, for the most part. I am now able to focus my attention to those relationships differently. I accept that my mom did the best she could in raising me and did all that she knew to do. Are there things I would have done differently? Sure. But, I am who I am because of the way I was raised. God didn't make a mistake, he ordained her to be my mother. Now, she is not only my mother but she is my friend. That is something I searched for most of my life. We have a connection and bond that we've never had before. We have so much fun together and laugh so much. It is a true joy to spend time with her and my father both. I am blessed! I am so very blessed!

Philippians 3:16 But we must hold onto the progress we have already made.

I'm not across the finish line yet and won't be before the day I go home to Jesus. This is a life long race. There are goals along the way. In the mean time we must look back at where God has brought us from.

I am only as close to God as I choose to be...*GULP*

I must desire friendship with God more than anything. We all have problems in our lives. Your problems are not punishment; they are wake-up calls from a loving God. God's way of arousing us from spiritual lethargy. Our problems cause pain. Pain is God's metaphor. Pain is fuel of passion. Because pain causes to us refuse to except things the way they are and find change.
Taken from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

In my reading this morning I definitely got the idea that I am not being punished for my mistakes. God will use my circumstances for good. God allows things in our life based on what's best for us. God wants me to rely on him for strength and to depend on my husband to bring about change (pray in agreement).

The process of losing my home is a result of poor financial planning; mistakes we made. This has of course caused a lot of stress and pain. Could the Lord have rescued us? Sure. Remember it isn't a matter of can he but is it his will for us. The Lord allows things to happen in our lives that reflect the best interests for us. He uses every circumstance for good. Could the Lord arranged things to prevent an approval for this home to begin with? Sure. But, the point is God knew how it would turn out and where he would be able to take us in spiritual maturity if he allowed this in our lives. So even though I have experienced pain through this trial, does that mean I am being punished? No. I wasn't always so convinced though. I thought I would have to pay for my mistakes. Not so. There are consequences that have been paid. Where we go from here is up to us. We can decide to toil and work and worry to fix this or we can give it all to Jesus and let him use this situation for his glory and to stretch us. We have surrendered this situation to Jesus completely and are relying on him for open doors, miracles, and restoration.

The focus at church has been on miracles for the last several weeks and the power in the name of Jesus. There are several areas in my life where God has been working: surrendering, submission, loving others, finding joy, praying in agreement with my husband, and expectation/faith. Here are scriptures I came across in my reading this morning alone that only confirm all that Jesus is trying to get through to me.

Matthew 18:19 NLT "I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."

Praying in agreement. My husband and I were at a marriage conference recently also where Ephram prophesied over us. He explained that when we pray in agreement, mountains will be moved. My husband and I recently prayed for a specific miracle and we are already beginning to see doors open for that miracle to happen. We can almost touch it!

Psalm 28:7
The Lord is my strength, my shield from every danger. I trust in him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.

Surrender, why not? I have nothing to fear and when I put my trust in him my worries will be replaced with joy. The joy of the Lord is my strength. But, where does joy come from? From trusting in him! Surrendering. When we surrender, our toils and worries are replaced with joy!

John 8:12 NLT
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

The darkness here means so many things. You won't walk in the darkness of the world, the ugly, the sin, etc. For me at this point in time, the darkness means, I won't be wandering the world aimlessly, he will direct my life. If I follow him, surrender, I will know what to do. He will shed light on the right doors that lead to the future he has for me.

John 15:9-17
"I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. You didn't choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name."

So many things that God has been trying to say to me are summed up in those verses. I used to find myself wondering how God directs us, how he speaks to us, how do we hear him? Well let me tell you! Read his word! I can't explain it but you read it and it settles well with you, you find peace and you know exactly what God is trying to say to you.

This blog is literally my journal, my prayer life online, my conversations with God. It all makes perfect sense to me. I pray that the Holy Spirit supernaturally intervene to bring revelation into your hearts, that he speak to you through my journey, and you receive.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I'm way too complicated for that

I've been avoiding my own blog! I was tagged for a meme by Kelly and I'm supposed to summarize myself in six words! I'm way too complicated for that! Yeah! I knew it'd happen that way; I just found my six words! Whoo hoo! When I began this post I only intended to tell you I was stumped and couldn't come up with six words and would return later to write my memoir, but instead, I found them.

Here are the rules for the meme.

1. Write the title to your own memoir using 6 words.
1. Post it on your blog.
1. Link to the person that tagged you.
1. Tag five more blogs.

I am so many things to so many people, there are so many facets to my personality, and there are so many gifts, talents, and hobbies I want to explore.

I am a child of God, wife, mommy, daughter, sister, friend, cousin, aunt, woman, girl scout leader, and even role model. I have a lot of people depending on me.

I am shy and introverted but on the inside I am joyous, boisterous, and happy. I am mature and set a good example for my children but at heart I'm a wild child. I am happy-go-lucky, spunky, moody, down-to-earth, friendly, caring, loyal, compassionate, very serious, and that is just the tip of it.

I love spending time alone in God's presence, I love praise and worship, I love photography, I love writing, I love scrapbooking, decorating, fashion, new clothes, I love music, sewing, dinner parties, shoes, purses, new clothes, shoes, purses, (he he) and so many things; I wish I could function 24 hours per day to enjoy.

But, what I've noticed most about myself lately, I'm changing. I am more serious than ever and more diligent than ever about my walk with God. About ensuring I get time alone with Him every day. I'm serious about having constant conversation in addition to my prayer time. I'm serious about "walking with a big grin, singing with my eyes closed, lifting up my hands." One of my favorite songs by MercyMe (I Worship You).

As a result of my diligence some things are beginning to fall off and get replaced with joy. I had the best Saturday this weekend. Not much in the way of excitement but I was just so full of joy. My husband and I had wrestling matches and tickle contests. I bought skittles for my girls. I was genuinely joyful. I am most excited about the direction my life will be taking next. I am excited about burning off the serious when it isn't necessary and walking in joy!

The Lord has been working on me in the way of finances and the loss of our home through the toilet seat, scripture, worship music, and messages at church and it all clicked into place on Mother's day. I get it! God really knew I'd be here and he has a plan for my future! I don't cry when I pack up boxes anymore. I'm so excited for the next set of open doors he has for us. I quit crying a few weeks ago because I laid it at the cross. He removed my anxiety but the joy didn't come until this Sunday because it all clicked. The joy to move, the joy for what is up ahead, the joy for all that he is, has done for us, and the ways he will continue to provide. As much as I'd love to say "I'm completely surrendered" I'm sure there are areas where I'm not, but I am so much closer than I ever have been before. Only God can do that! I'm a living miracle of what he can do in a person's life, to a person's heart.

So while I still haven't discovered all of who I am, I'm at least aware of the obvious. I'm complicated. That is exactly how He created me!

Now I tag...

Pioneer Woman

Friday, May 9, 2008

Stickers baby! Stickers!

I'm happy this morning about a couple of things. I'm happy I discovered stickers! Actually, they've been around the house just sitting in a junk drawer for months, left over from some Girl Scout project.

I have had a tough time getting my twin toddlers to a. eat and b. stay seated for a meal. Dr. James Dobson described it this week as "a little wiggle God put in there." Well, it's frustrating! The usual routine consists of stand up, sit down, move to the knees, potty break, stay on the chair but lay on my belly, etc. So this morning I experienced an absolute miracle. My twin girls both sat nicely at the table and ate a bowl of cereal, without getting up. About half-way through their bowls I noticed and said "very nice job girls, I'm so happy you are sitting at the table and eating your breakfast." They were already so proud of themselves. So after they gobbled up all their cereal, another miracle, I quickly adorned them each with a small sticker. I swear light shown down from heaven and I could hear the choir sing! You know that loud opera AAAAAAAAAAAA! It was awesome.

Soon I could see their little brains working and trying to figure out how they could get another sticker. Before long they each asked for a snack. Wouldn't you know it, they both sat perfectly at the table with their applesauce. Of course they were given yet another sticker.

So now the chatter around the house sounds something like this, "we're going to be goooood listeners today mommy" and "we're not going to make a big mess today mommy."

Like I said, stickers baby! Stickers!

Secondly, I'm encouraged by some reading I did this morning. Many know this story in John chapter 6 where God supernaturally fed a multitude of 5,000+ when he had only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish to start with. I'm thinking, if God can feed that many people supernaturally and he is the same yesterday, today, and forever then he can certainly supernaturally multiply my finances!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I surrender

Staying the course for Leslie's challenge, but man the devil today had another plan! I've been interrupted by several phone calls and a trip to the elementary school to pick up a sick child. The first day I woke up early and wouldn't you know it, Mallory and Hailey were up five minutes later! I'm still doing my quiet time and staying diligent in seeking Him and that is all that matters. Eventually the devil will give up and move on.

"You know you're surrendered to God when you rely on God to work things out instead of trying to manipulate others, force your agenda, and control the situation. You let go and let God work. You also know you're surrendered when you don't react to criticism and rush to defend yourself. Surrendered hearts show up best in relationships. You don't edge others out, you don't demand your rights, and you aren't self-serving when you're surrendered." Taken from The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren - That is my prayer! I'm already seeing good fruit in a few of these areas, not all the way, but small slow changes. Thank you Jesus for the renewing of the mind!

For a lot of people, the most difficult area to surrender is financially. I want the situation with my home to go away, to be fixed, to be restored. But, my prayer is not "Lord fix it." My prayer is "Lord I know you can fix it and I hope you do but I want your will for my life. I want these circumstances to operate in a way that your purpose for my life or another's life will be fulfilled." Jesus himself is our ultimate example of this when he prayed the night before his crucifixion: Mark 14:36 "Abba, Father," he cried out, "everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."

Surrendering is tough work, it is intense warfare against our self-centered nature; not my strong suit! But, if we surrender and stop quarreling and working our own plan, our surrender is followed by peace, freedom, and God's power in our lives. Are you getting this? I know I am! You'll remember in a previous post of mine that I mention my self-centeredness (Kari-ism, I know self-centeredness isn't a word). If I'm self-centered it is because my flesh is stronger than my spirit and I can't be used by God because God can't trust me. That must mean that if surrendered people are not self-centered that God uses people who are surrendered! He doesn't chose people based on their beauty, talents, or swift words. He chooses those who are surrendered.

Surrendering is not a weakness or a loss, it is the ultimate sacrifice and form of worship. We surrender in a moment, maybe at rock bottom, but we must continually surrender our lives daily. Each time we stand at a cross road between what our flesh wants and what God wants us to do, we must surrender. We have to start with the small before we become successful with the big. We must surrender at the check out line instead of attacking the slow cashier. We must surrender when we want to buy that dress but the money is intended for our tithe. We must surrender when the alarm clock goes off and we should be putting God first and we want to instead stay in bed. We must surrender in the moment, moment to moment, all day long.

We have to have daily time with Christ in order to have strength to pull this off. We must have a relationship with him. The better we know him, the more we become like him, the more we want to surrender and serve him. There are times when it isn't easy and you will give into your flesh instead of surrendering. There is grace and forgiveness for that.

"If you don't surrender to Christ, you surrender to chaos." E. Stanley Jones - oh how I understand the meaning of that!

So we're on our way to surrendering, telling Jesus what we need, expecting, not toiling, and receiving. While we are waiting and not toiling there will be times of attack. The devil will tell you lies. We need to combat those times with scripture. There is power in our words and scripture is life, it's God's word. We must be saying scripture aloud every day. We need to be saying what God thinks of us. We need to change the record on the player. No more listening to satan's lies. When he comes against you say "devil you are a liar!" and quote a scripture that demonstrates what God says about your situation. We need to quit listening to satan's lies, the opinions of those around us, and even our own image of ourselves. Instead, say scripture aloud to build our inner man. Scripture speaks life into our circumstances and releases God's power in our lives. Scripture renews our mind and frees His hand for His power to fall on our lives. So take off the old 8 track and pop in a new CD! What are you listening to today?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Unopened Gifts

While watching Joyce Meyer this morning she said something that made me cry. "I believe when we get to heaven we'll be shown a room of gifts with our name on it. Gifts God wanted to bless us with but we didn't receive. Favor, prosperity, talents to bless others, etc."

John 1: 16 NLT "From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another."
Grace upon grace, mercy upon mercy, gift upon gift. You don't deserve anything. I don't deserve anything. Not one of us has done a thing to deserve all that Jesus has for us. But, we are freely given and blessed with what Jesus earned. We don't have to earn it. Joyce said it like this: "I have food in my fridge, my children eat it. When I'm out shopping, my children don't hesitate to ask me to buy them something. They ask, they receive." How many unopened gifts do you have in heaven because you are waiting until you feel like you've earned them?

John 5:5-10 NLT "One of the men lying there had been sick for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew he had been ill for a long time, he asked him, "Would you like to get well?"
"I can't sir," the sick man said, "for I have no one to put me into the pool when the water bubbles up. Someone else always gets there ahead of me."
Jesus told him, "Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!"
And immediately the man was well and he picked up his mat and walked."

First, Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be healed. Jesus, the Father, the Holy Spirit, is a gentleman. Jesus knows the desires of our heart but that doesn't mean he waves a wand over us and fulfills our desires. We must ask (pray) and we must receive!

Second, the man attempted to put Jesus in a box. The man could not see past his own circumstances, the physical that he could touch and see. In previous attempts to get to the healing pool he failed. He failed in his own attempts to get healed. But, because he did desire to be healed after Jesus asked, it allowed Jesus to heal him outside of his circumstances without having to get into the pool.

This principle doesn't only apply to healing. It stands for every prayer that you have muttered to heaven. My husband and I are rebuilding our financial future and it looks bleak at the moment. My attempts to accomplish this goal or that goal have failed. But, if I take my eyes off my circumstances, ask, and receive then Jesus is free and able to bless me beyond my own circumstances and comprehension. It isn't possible for us to fathom the ability God has to provide the desires of our heart. The level of love he has for us. The desire he has to bless us. The circumstances surrounding our home and our move are still bumpy and painful at times and I don't understand it all. But, I know that Jesus will carry us through the storm and open new doors, better doors. He will be exalted when we stand before men and give our testimony of how God rescued us and restored us. Don't get me wrong I still behave like a toddler at times and throw myself on the floor kicking and screaming and having tantrums. I still have times when I doubt why I serve Him, why I tithe, but He is still the same. He is Jehovah Jirah, my provider and he meets all my needs. He even forgives my immaturity and doubt.

We need to get Jesus out of the box of our circumstances.
We need to put our burdens at the foot of Jesus.
We need to ask! You have not because you ask not!
We have to quit toiling and worrying and trying to carry it or fix it ourselves.
We need to receive!
We need to stop chaining God's hands and trying to earn our reward when God wants to bless us freely.

As a parent do you require your children to be perfect, without fault? Do you require your children earn all that you bless them with? As a child were you required to earn all that was given to you and done for you? Jesus earned it all for us and he takes pleasure in blessing us, in our happiness.

It is my own prayer today, and mine for you as well, to lay my burdens down, quit carrying them on my own. Jesus help me. I don't ask that the burden be made shorter or that you speed me through it but ask that it be made lighter. The burden I carry is preparing me for the next dip in the road. My burden is the cross I carry that becomes a bridge over my next set of circumstances. I pray that I be broken so Jesus can be exalted. Less of me and more of you. Be the light upon my path so I stay the course. I thank you for open doors and pray your will be done in my life. Tune my eyes, ears, and spirit to that of your voice and follow with peace. I have prayed for a miracle and put my trust in you. I trust you know what is best for me. I expect you to keep your promises. I expect you to perform the impossible. Whether it takes a week, a year, or five years, all that we have lost will be restored and more. I realize now that all I've obtained in life up to this point, I took credit for earning. I realize that everything belongs to you, it's all on loan. I've learned to rely on you to supply my needs and give thanks and praise when you meet those needs. I don't achieve success on my own. I don't shelter my children, I don't feed my children, you do Father because you provide everything that is necessary for me to do so. Thank you Jesus for all that you are. Words cannot articulate all that my soul feels at this moment. Thank you for love, hope, grace, mercy, peace, promises kept, miracles, righteousness, anxiety that has been calmed, for rest, for freedom, forgiveness. Thank you my cup runneth over. My cup runneth over. I am but clay, mold me, change me. I appreciate my gifts. I love being a mom, wife, writing, photography, and blessing others but I want my deepest desire to be pleasing you. I can only be the best possible person by living for you and allowing my mind and life to be renewed. I can only be the best possible wife and mother by allowing change and allowing myself, my flesh to be broken so my spirit can be made stronger. I pray for brokenness, strength to endure, faith, and peace. I pray my self-centered focus change from how much pleasure am I getting out of life to how much pleasure is God getting out of my life. Thank you Jesus from the depth of my toes for the many blessings in my life. Amen.

God is standing before you today with a beautifully wrapped gift, will you reach out and take it? Will you say "thank you daddy, more please!" Or, will you walk away and try to earn it? I'm taking all he has to offer!

Friday, May 2, 2008

For my patient husband

To quote a line from a song lyric "I need you like a heart needs a beat." I'm sorry that it is so easy for me to put onto pater exactly where my heart stands yet I can't articulate in a conversation the depths of my feelings for you.

I started to say earlier I am sorry that I can't look you in the eye and say I feel lonely and isolated, or I'm frustrated and overwhelmed, or I have too much on my plate. I don't know exactly how to even after all these years allow myself to be seen so tender and vulnerable before you. I feel like I have to always come off like I can do it all and I can do it all on my own. The same is true for you and the Lord. Because I'm afraid to communicate my weaknesses, my frustration builds and ultimately makes me angry. I am angry at myself because I've made too many commitments, because I seem to get stuck behind this computer so I don't accomplish as much, because I am not living to my full potential. It takes me a bit to realize I'm angry with myself and to stop directing it at you. I've often expressed how I'd love to trade places. I'd love to wake up when the house is quiet and sneak off to work and miss the hustle and bustle of a busy day with the kids and all that they require. But, the truth is I was created to be their mommy and your wife, God has ordained me to be so, and I need to learn to rest and trust in him and just be who I am called to be.

I allow myself to get busy with the stuff of life, tackling one project after another and wind up missing all the precious moments and things of life. I've felt recently like I'm drowning or like I can't breath because there is just so much going on. I'm not sure each child has been kissed and hugged by the end of each day. I'm with them but I'm not "with" them. I'm with you but I'm not "with" you. Even when I'm not busy running this errand or bathing that child or whatever, my head is still overwhelmed with the next thing on the "to do" list. I am sorry that you suffer the brunt of it. I'm sorry that I direct the anger that I feel toward myself at you and blame you for days on end until I'm finally willing to let myself see what is really happening.

I am eternally grateful for the divine level of unconditional love you have for me, and the divine level of patience you demonstrate each and every day. We started on this journey as kids and I'm so incredibly proud of the man of God you have become and will continue to grow into. Love is patient, kind, not boastful, proud, or jealous.... you encompass that verse in all that you do and say for the kids and I every day. It is my own insecurities that block my vision from seeing how deep and wide and true your love continues to be. I was only fifteen when you stole my heart. I thought I knew what love was when I said I'd marry you, but we each have learned through trial and triumph over and over, what true love really is. Thank you for being my rock, my best friend, my soul mate, my lover, my husband, my counselor, my accountability person; I know I demand a lot from you. Pray for me; pray that I will encompass all that you need and more. I am who I am because of you, because of how you love me. Loving you is like blinking, an ordinary involuntary reflex but as essential to my life as breath. My entire heart will always be forever yours! I love you!


What I'm listening to:

I bought the Every Day Sunday CD a few months back because of thier "skater" image and assumed it would be a sound my almost teenage son would enjoy and hopefully the lyrics and music would minister to him. I've heard the CD a few times and enjoy the sound but never paid much attention to the lyrics after my intial listen so I could approve the CD for him. Tyler put the CD in a few days ago and it was exactly what I needed to hear and it was exactly where I found myself this morning.

Yesterday, I could not feel this
Today I'm sick of trying
To live like I can live on my own
This world around me is suffocating
But I keep forgetting
To turn and run into You
So Find me
Wherever I am won't You
Find me
I got myself lost and I
Don't think
I want to be roaming in heartache
Please find me tonight
I make it hard and I can't stand it
Can't wrap my head around it
I wrestle with You more than I should
I make a mess of everything
But You see the best in me
I'll never be too far gone
You speak without sound
Your love is so loud
You always save me