December 23, 2012

Sunday Meditation


For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!

Luke 2:11-14 


Merry Christmas friends!!

December 21, 2012

Jaden is 10!!

Wow!  Do you you know how old that makes me feel?


I was a mere 12.5 when Jaden arrived in our family, and I thought I was so grown up.  Pssh, what was I thinking?

Anyway, this post is not about me, but about my darling baby brother, who just crossed over into the double-digits.  Sheesh!

Things that I remember about his birthday:

  • It wasn't cold.  Even though he was born 6 days before Christmas, it was a balmy, humid late fall day and I was raking leaves with my siblings, at one of the boys' lawn customers.  
  • Grandpa and Grandma Kautt came up from Dallas to hang out with the five Kautt kids.  We went to Chic-fil-a and had their classic chicken sandwiches and waffle fries, we played on their indoor playground (yes I was still that small), and then we went to Albertson's to pick up flowers for Mom.
  • On the way home from the grocery store, Grandpa was so excited about having a new grandson, that he drove past our street in his excitement.  He had to back up to our road. 
  • I gave Jaden his first bath and got to dress him, because I had won a guessing game we had as a family, about what day he would be born, how much he would weigh, and how long he would be.  I guessed Dec. 17th.  I don't remember the other guesses.
  • I was wearing my Hello Kitty overalls and my sparkly pink heart shirt.  
  • Dad gingerly brought a fresh Jaden out to meet his siblings a few short minutes after his arrival.  I was beyond excited to meet my newest sibling!! 
  • I almost attended his birth, but Mom later told me that she was glad I hadn't due to some complications with Jaden's delivery.  That would have been a fun experience. :) 
  • It was late in the evening (he was born at 8:37 p.m.)
  • I remember how long and skinny he looked.  He was 23'' in length, and weighed 9lbs. 5 oz.  The biggest Kautt baby. 
The rest is a blur.  I was too excited to remember much.  Thank God we took pictures that night.  

-------


Jaden has grown and matured so much this year.  He is now 56'' tall, which is more than 2/3 my height... oh dear. I think he'll be a tall guy. 

A few things I love about Jaden: 

- His caring ways and love for his family
- How he has such an active, creative mind teeming with ideas
- His soft heart and willingness to be corrected
- His smile cheesy and huge and how it makes my heart smile
- His ambition and drive
- His faithfulness
- His energy and spirit
- His willingness to learn
- His potential to do great things

There are WAY too many aspects of Jaden I could write about, these are just a few.  I know that Jesus has great things for his life, and has set out a course that He will direct Jaden on.

I love you Jaden and I am so very thankful for your life.  Keep looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith buddy! 


"I am nodding my head an emphatic yes to all that You have for me"


There have been many times over the last 6 months since Dad resigned his position as pastor of a local congregation, that I have felt a certain longing for old, familiar things.  For that certain safety that came with Dad having a regular job, a monthly pay-check, and a hundred other things that come with "normal life."

That restlessness, that discontent, that niggling fear are all what I call "a longing for the melons of Egypt" backward glance.  That glance can be so dangerous to my soul, when I most need to be look upwards - Jesus-wards.  It can build in me such anger and hostility to where I am right now, and why He has me here.

I was complaining to my journal the other day, about how it seems some people are more blessed then others, and how I was so ready for our burdens to be lifted, and for our family to be blessed again.  But then I had to do a reality check, and remind myself just how blessed I am.

And it reminded me to pray.

Prayer has a way of lifting us up out of our situation, and bringing one into close harmony with Jesus, as we pour out our very soul to Him, in praise and petition, in confession and thanksgiving.  I always experience a longing for Heaven after I've prayed. Especially when I am lifting up those dear ones in my life who are experiencing trials and tests, whether physical, emotional or spiritual.  Because, they are suffering.  They feel as if there's no way out, but back "to Egypt" - and at that moment of weakness, they need to be lifted up in prayer.  So as to feel a closeness to their Father's heart, and He can whisper "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

There is no turning back for me.  I am safely on my way to Caanan, and my soul finds peace in knowing that Jesus is on the journey with me.  I have His Spirit dwelling inside me, to guide me into all Truth, and I have His precious Words - words of life, words that convict and comfort, that take me out of my safe place and into His reality.

And I am not alone.

And I am blessed.

And I am His child.

When I drew that line in the sand, and said "I am Yours Jesus, do with me as You will" I was making a statement to myself, to the world, to Satan, that I have decided, in my will, to follow Jesus wherever He takes me.  That is a dangerous thing to say, and should not be said lightly, I didn't say it lightly.  I said it as the Spirit moved me to a place where I needed to be, a place where I was basking in His grace and saw the path that He has laid for me, clearly.  And I took that step of faith, into what I saw was thin air, but His hand caught me and I have continued to walk, with Him.

And you know what?  He hasn't dropped me yet.  I have at times, thought about jumping from the safety and difficulty of being a part of The Way, back onto the path labeled Another Way, which Satan touts as being so easy, and so full of pleasure and absorbed with self, and the path to happiness and fortune, and health.  But, whose fiery end is just out of sight, but always looming over the heads of those who take this path - this Other Way.

So I have chosen the Path of Righteousness and remind myself that the "Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want" - but what is it that I am in need of, if I have Jesus?

There is a whole wall in my room where I have placed pieces of paper containing my favorite quotes, scripture passages, wise sayings.  One of them says: If I lose everything but have Jesus, I in fact have everything that I truly need.  Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

And in those moments when I am looking backward (or downward) and catch myself "longing for Egypt" I have to stop and say "Thank You Jesus, for all that You are."  Because Him simply being, is enough to jolt me awake, and chide myself for the lack of faith, and for allowing fear to come in and steal my Joy.

He is there 
and
He is not silent 

That is enough for me.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love.  Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls."  
 I Peter 1:6-9

I will open my hands, will open my heart, I am nodding my head an emphatic 'yes' to all that You have for me 

-------------

December 18, 2012

My life is not boring



I think sometimes that I wish my life had a little more excitement.  Or that perhaps, I had more friends with whom I could do fun activities, or have adventures with, on a more regular basis.  But all that is, is my heart expressing ingratitude, restlessness.  

Certainly, from an observers perspective, I probably do live a more "sedate" lifestyle than most 20-somethings, but I'm not comparing myself with them.  I am glad I stopped doing that a while ago.  It's depressing trying to "be like the Jones'." 

In the last two weeks I have: Helped a friend move - he went from being homeless, living in his vehicle, to getting a good job, a nice large apartment, all in the matter of a few days.  It was a blessing to assist him over a couple of days, move into a new place, hopefully for a long while, and seeing how it was a relief for him, not having to brave another night in his car.  The sunset that Friday night was beautiful (see picture above), and the interesting tree made for a perfect photo opportunity as I was taking a short break from hauling boxes up a flight of stairs.  


Skipped Ultimate Frisbee, which has become a Monday evening 'ritual' that my siblings and I look forward to the whole week.  Because it was so cold that Monday night, we decided to go Christmas shopping instead, and enjoyed a nice variety of places, including North Haven Gardens, which is quite impressive in their selection of plants, and other garden things.  Right now, they have it beautifully decorated for the Holidays, inside and out.  We had a fun evening together, shopping and driving around, enjoying the lights and other Holiday decor on the way.  


That Monday night (a week ago yesterday), we stopped in at Whole Foods, and I had Johanna take a look at their Toms selection, and pick out a pair, which I plan on buying for her 15th birthday, in February.  I think we found "the pair" and had fun in the process, all of us seeing which style and color we'd buy, if we had the money, har har. ;)  


Thursday night, my sisters and I had the joy of meeting up with old friends for coffee and a nice chat at a Starbucks in Grapevine.  The time went by so fast, and we left when they closed, but just to go and sit out in the van to continue our conversation until late that night.  When you only get together every two years or so, the precious few hours spent together, are just that precious, and few.  But, oh so enjoyable and worth every last second.  Hopefully, a similar outing will take place in January. 

Jaden looks forward to his 10th birthday, which we will celebrate this weekend.  Joel bought him the bow and arrow set you see above, as an early birthday present.  It's hard for Jaden, because his birthday is in close proximity to Christmas, some years we just buy him one gift, for both days. :P  This year, who knows.  He is most looking forward to Caleb coming down to spend the day -- all day, Friday.  He really misses Caleb not living with us at present.   

He's been practicing every day since he got his gift, and is really quite accurate.  It's nice to see him out there, being diligent at learning a new skill which could be handy one day. :)  He's such a manly little guy (said in a distinctly Jaden voice), and wants to do everything the "big kids" do. 


Saturday I completed my Christmas shopping, and wrapped up all of the gifts - yay!  I love being able to do that all in one day. :)  Jaden really wanted to accompany me on my outing, but I told him that I would be picking up his gift, so he was content to stay home.  He knows what it is... but I have maintained that I bought him an over-sized Tootsie Roll (it's the long, silver package nearest the blue package in the picture above).  I went to three stores, all within a nice easy drive of each other.  Blessing right there, that I didn't have to drive far, and was able to pick up everyone's gift, except Caleb's... hmmm. 

Later Saturday afternoon and into the evening, our dear friends the G. family came over for a visit.  My Uncle Abe was in town for the day, and they wanted to see him before he left.  They brought their Uncle Eddie, which was nice. :)  We enjoyed homemade pizza and salad, and encouraging conversation, and play-time with the kiddos in the backyard. There's never a dull moment when Tristan and Lizzy come to play! 


Joel made yummy coffee Sunday morning, and although I don't usually drink coffee, the kind he was brewing, is just so good.  Caleb came down and our family worshiped together.  We enjoyed a lot of Christmas carols, until I was breathless and hoarse.  Then we opened up the Word and discussed evangelism and the Gospel.  It was deep and intense and good and necessary.  Lunch was a family affair, and then we discussed dreams of a family business and gardening.  


Caleb went back to Mck., and the rest of us kids decided to go on a bike ride, as it had been a while since our last Sunday evening/night ride.  We drove to Campion Trail, and instead of heading towards Irving, we went West, in the direction of Valley Ranch.  

It was certainly colder then we had expected, but when one is riding near water, it's going to be cool riding.  Once we made it on top of the levee type thing, we noticed a 10 degree difference in temperature - warmer.  

One of the crazy things we did as we were biking back through Valley Ranch, was stop under this bridge, and Phoebe climbed up onto this one-foot ledge, to see what it would be like to sleep there, as homeless people sometimes do.  It can be done, although I'd be afraid I would roll off during the night, and break my neck.  


We took a different route back to where we had parked, a much warmer one. :)  It took us along the top of the levee thing (sorry, not exactly sure what it's called), overlooking the lake, and the pretty houses, and the moon was shining down upon us brightly.  


Yesterday, Joel found a free source for mulch here in Dallas.  Preservation Tree company is a locally owned and operated business, which has so much business that they gladly offer free mulch pick-up by people like us.  All you have to do is stop by and get it.  That's exactly what Joel, Phoebe and I did yesterday afternoon.  We started out hand loading it into the wheel barrow, but a few minutes into that process, one of the men who works for Preservation Tree services, came out and offered to load us up using their Bobcat.  It went much faster and we were so grateful for his help!  

So, if you live in the DFW metroplex and need mulch, or tree services of any kind, we recommend Preservation Tree services to you! 

Whew... I'm exhausted after writing that all down. 

Have a lovely week, and don't be bored! ;)

December 16, 2012

Sunday Meditation

"Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly,  not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins."
Acts 10: 34-43

December 7, 2012

Currently Reading


IMG_20121205_132940
Because the church has embraced this age-segregated philosophy, we have created groups for everyone, but community for no one; meetings for all, but discipleship for few.  Age segregation has replaced the older mentoring the younger.  Church programs have displaced family discipleship.  (p. 43)
Author and Pastor Scott Brown asks the pointed question: Are modern youth groups the result of a problem? or are they the cause?

We see a three-step cycle happening in our churches, which Brown believes is a contributing factor to the large numbers of young people leaving the church upon graduation from high school.




  1. Apostasy in the church
  2. Age-segregated youth groups leading to the
  3. Destruction of young peoples souls, and a lack of a solid foundation
Building a new foundation based exclusively on God’s Word will require diligent labor.  Our mission is to show how it can be built on the right foundation.  This is the heart and soul of all reformations in Scripture.  (pgs. 45-46)
A return to the “old paths” can occur.
Thus says the Lord:
“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

Jeremiah 6:16

Jurisdictional crisis has led to many problems in our society.  Whether it is the government grasping for power that is not biblical theirs, or the church usurping the authority of parents, or families in a state of chaos, because the male-headship has been abdicated.  We see that there is now not much difference between “Christians” and the “world” when it comes to fundamental issues such as marriage, character of children, honesty and fidelity.
As Scott Brown points out:
An otherwise legitimate action can be sinful when someone who has not been given the authority by God to perform it.  It is God who properly orders society: “There is no authority except from God and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1)
I will be sharing more as I continue to read this fascinating book.

A related resource, is the film Divided, which came out last year and sparked controversy over its content.

December 2, 2012

Sunday Meditation

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you.
And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

II Corinthians 4:7-15 

December 1, 2012

Some questions to ponder

A while back, a friend and I were discussing how we felt concerning the biblical idea of a man "leaving and cleaving" and what exactly did that mean, or how should it be applied in relationships today.

So, I have a question for the guys in our midst:

What is your understanding of the concept "leaving and cleaving?" How far would you move in order to marry someone? Is it always necessary for the guy to move out of state, in order to fulfill the dictum, or just to move out of his parents house? Should the girl ever "leave and cleave" i.e. move out of state, etc., in order to marry? What about sons and daughters who desire to live near their parents in order to carry out a multi-generational homestead, etc.?

And, gals, you are more than welcome to weigh in as well.

November 27, 2012

1000 Gifts

813. Carry Me To The Cross by Kutlass
814. Family pictures
815. Amazing money saving deals
816. Candles
817. New journals
818. Laundry soap
819. Yellow
820. Dad's new job!!!!!!!
821. Sunday afternoon visits with dear friends
822. A Weed in the Church
823. Tissue paper
824. Knee braces for bum knees
825. Quilts
826. Leaves to rake
827. Fun evenings with friends
828. Sunflower seeds
829. Spring mix from our garden
830. Letters from dear friends
831. My new coat
832. Mars Hill Church
833. Paracord bracelets
834. Pillow cases
835. Dad's wisdom
836. Pandas
837. Francis Schaeffer
838. Hebrews 10:26-27
839. Closet doors
840. 75 degree fall days

My list will continue to grow as I praise the Lord each week here on my blog!
To join in the praise click here

November 26, 2012

What is my nature?

"Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires."
Romans 8:5 
 

November 25, 2012

Sunday Meditation




I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed
Galatians 1:6-8

November 22, 2012

I am thankful for...

My beloved parents, David and Julia, and their commitment to pursue Truth, Jesus, love, sacrifice and service for God's glory and the advancement of His kingdom on earth.  They mean so much to me, and I am profoundly grateful to have them as a huge part of my life.  So many of my peers and even close relatives have experienced the breakdown of their parents marriage, and I have been graciously spared.  What a gift.  What a treasure!

Joel my one and only "big brother" who has been such an inspiration in my life since I was a wee girl.  It has been a real joy to see him grow and mature into a godly young man of God.  He has pursued His calling on his life in the areas of politics, Christian Apologetics, Creation science, discipleship, and honest business.  He is so interesting to talk with, and I am glad to have a relationship of trust and respect, where we can mutually share about our struggles, joys, trials, blessings and life happenings.  I am excited to see where the Lord will lead him next, as he plans on beginning grad-school in January.  He is such a blessing and encouragement to many!

Caleb who is now a "distant" brother, geographically, but not in my heart or mind.  It's hard to watch him grow up, because that means I am getting older too.  And yet, and I am filled with anticipation at the mighty works I know Jesus has planned for him to accomplish.  How thrilling it was when he shared that he had begun taking a Spanish language course through a local homeschool co-op.  His desire is to reach out to the Hispanic people in his community, and the Lord is preparing him for such opportunities.  He is such a fun guy, and always smiling, when he enters a room it brightens.  I miss his warm humor, and his deep insights on life and what the Lord is showing him, daily.  Thank God for texting and Sundays.

Phoebe is, as I have said many times, my best friend.  Her enthusiasm for life, her smile, her quiet, wise ways, and her brilliance all inspire and challenge me to never stop learning, to enjoy life and let the little things that could annoy me, go, to have a trust in Jesus that grows each day and embrace life to the fullest.  She minsters to me through her amazing baking skills, and her gentle rebukes.  I love it when she mischievously pulls a "fast one" on me, and I laugh in spite of myself.  She has a way of giving me confidence, and she's often by my side.  Her love for Jesus and her understanding of His word and Truth in general is refreshing from one so young.  I look forward to seeing her continue to grow in the beautiful bright and radiant young lady the Lord desires her to be.

 Jo and I have become better friends in the last year or so.  Before we used to butt heads quite a bit... but thankfully, for us both, we have matured and been able to resolve much of those conflicts.  I am so grateful to have not just one, but two, beautiful, highly-talented and caring sisters.  Jo's creativity is something I love to watch as she makes crafts or brain-storms ideas.  I love to encourage her when she comes to me with an idea, or possibility.  God has given her an amazing artistic eye, and a special touch for the piano.  Whenever she sits down to play some classical piece or a hymn, I am blessed.  The fact that she is almost entirely self-taught, blows my mind, continually.  I enjoy our midnight heart-to-heart chats, with Phoebe and how we always seem to have the most to say after we've turned off the light.  Her sensitivity and desire to please the Lord are so wonderful, and encouraging to my spirit. 

Jaden is my bebe-brodder, haha. ;)  He'll be ten soon and that really is hard to believe!  Seems like just yesterday I was holding him, shortly after his birth.  He is growing up so quickly, and I adore his childish ways, that are so innocent and funny.  Recently he has begun to loving reading and it is fun to watch him read through a book of his choice, although he still prefers when someone else reads to him.  I love our bike rides, times at the park playing on the playground or swinging.  Baseball, basketball, and ultimate frisbee are also things we share in common and enjoy together.  His smile is goofy and his spirit is full of life.  I know the Lord has amazing plans laid out for his life, and I look forward to cheering him on as He leads my dear Jaden-bug.

I am so very grateful to my Grandma Kautt, who has been graciously hosting my family in her home since my Dad resigned back in the spring.  She shows her love for me through her cooking, her caring conversation and her smiles and love.  I am glad that she is still with us, and that we can share a little more in her life each day. 






I am also thankful for the experience of being surrounded by godly, encouraging friends.  I have way too many to count, which is such a HUGE blessing, and just because your picture doesn't appear in the series above, doesn't mean I am not thankful for you (those were just the pictures of my friends I had available).  My life is richer and fuller because of you and your precious time that you invest in my life.  Special thank yous go to the following families and individuals who have played a big part in my life this year:

- Amy (even though we talk infrequently, I am always refreshed at your passion for Truth and how you are humbly, gently seeking Jesus and encouraging those around you to do the same.  I was especially blessed by that one chat we had this summer, late one night, and what an encouragement it was to me.  I am so blessed to know you and your dear dear family)
- Brittany (what a true blessing to get to know you even better this year dear.  Our conversations about the things of God have challenged, sharpened and strengthened my faith.  I am indebted to you and love you greatly!)
- Camille (you are such a dear, sweet friend and I thank God for you on a regular basis, for being there with me through thick and thin and always encouraging my spirit.  I love you dear!)
 - Aunt Cee (for all of the love gifts you have bestowed on our family through the last many months, they have been a tremendous help and blessing, your affection and care for our family means a lot and we are so thankful for you!)
 - C. family (for all of your help and guidance leading up to Dad's resignation, and for assisting us in our camper project, with house cleaning and packing, and of course for your tireless friendship and health care efforts for my Mom, we love you all so much)
- G. family (your love and support through prayers, phone calls, personal visits, meals shared, texts and facebook conversations raised our spirits, and encouraged us through some dark times.  We love you guys!)
- D. family (Isaac was such a helpful renovation assistance to Joel in the camper project, and a close companion of Caleb throughout the move and even now, and for Mrs.' sweet hospitality and kind words of wisdom and encouragement, and of course how could we forget what a great friend Andrew has been to Joel and Caleb)
- Elizabeth (your sweet spirit and heart for Jesus have ministered to me since I first met you such a short time ago.  I smile each time I think of you, and thank the Lord again for how we became friends, and what a blessing you are to me.  I love you!)
- Hannah (dear sweet Hannah girl, I am so thankful for you and your passion for Jesus.  You are an inspiration to me, and I love when we can get together or talk on the phone. You are a dear dear friend, and I love you) 
- Mr. J. (for your care and concern for our family, even before you met us in person, and all of the prayers and your generous spirit.  We thank God for men like you!)
 - Mr. and Mrs. J. (for your encouragement to Dad and Mom, and your love and support for our entire family throughout the painful church situation and ensuing move, I am so grateful)
- Mr. and Mrs. K. (for your love and concern expressed through phone calls, visits and prayers that have lifted our spirits - you guys are an inspiration)
- M. family (for allowing Dad and Mom to have a weekend away in your guest house, I know that ministered to their spirits, and for your love, prayers and support over the months and last couple of years, we are always so blessed when we get together with you guys.  God-speed!)
- N. families (Mr. and Mrs. for your prayers, cards and phone calls; Kevin and Courtney for your love expressed through phone conversations and prayers, for sharing homeschool resources with our family, we are so grateful)
- Mr. and Mrs. P. (for your love and concern, and understanding, for the prayers and cards, we are so thankful for friends like you guys and are excited about how the Lord is using you both in a new place)
P. family (there are WAY too many blessings to count when it comes to you guys, all the Sunday Bible studies, and afternoons of fellowship, the phone calls and meetings with Dad, sharing your helpful boys who took part in the final house cleaning sessions, supplying boxes and just for being there during some tough times, we love each of you dearly)
- Sara and Mrs. P (for all of the help you gave with packing and cleaning the kitchen and entire house, inside and out, and for Sara's magnificent help with the window cleaning project, for your encouraging conversations with Mom, Mrs. P., she is always blessed when she interacts with you.  God uses you all to bless others, and we were deeply touched by your service to our family.  We love you all!)
- Sian (even though we've yet to meet, our interactions over the internet, especially on chats, have meant so much to me.  I love how you are seeking the Lord's face and favor with your life, and what a blessing that is to everyone around you, including me.  May He bless you always dear one) 
- Kerri S. (thank you so much for being a friend and encouragement to Mom, and for being her new health go-to person, you are a real blessing to our entire family as you minister to our dear Mother)
- The T. family and church family at Bella Vista (for your gifts of love and many prayers on our family's behalf.  We are so so grateful for the Christian charity you extended our family in a time of need)
- Larry W. (who gave us invaluable insight into what to look for if we built a house, and other encouragement as our brother in Christ, thank you for showing selfless love and service towards our family)
- Mr. and Mrs. W. (for blessing our family with your generosity, and for being friends with Mom, I know she has been blessed by her conversations with you Mrs. W, as she has shared with me, thank you both)

I know I am leaving out someone (please forgive me), these are the ones who came to mind.  To everyone else (you know who you are) who has ministered to our family this year, I am so thankful for you and the blessing you have been to me personally, and to my family!  I thank God for you. 

And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
I Corinthians 2:1-12

 Thank you Jesus for everyone who has touched my life in 2012, what a true blessing and gift they have been.  I ask that you would in return, pour out Your great blessings on them and cause them to know and experience Your love in an even greater, more powerful way.  I am so so grateful... my cup is running over, and streaming down the side.  May those blessings touch the lives of people around me. 

November 19, 2012

1000 Gifts

786. Matches
787. Lecrae and his uplifting, God-centered lyrics
788. Noah's "goodnights"
789. Family bible studies on Sundays and how Jesus keeps moving, in amazing ways, week after week
790. Blueberry yogurt
791. Dad's heart
792. Mom's healing process
793. Elizabeth and her heart for Jesus - what a precious friend
794. Rose lotion which smells so lovely and feels so soft
795. 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redmon
796. Note pads
797. Morning walks
798. Late night chats with my darling sisters
799. Pop Murray's flannel lined quilt he made 
800. A voice to praise Jesus with
801. Heart Cry Missionary Society and the work of Paul Washer
802. Thanksgiving smells in the air
803. Ezekiel 3:20-21 
804. Johanna's photography
805. Jacob, Tanisha, Tristan and Elizabeth (that's actually 4 wonderful blessings, in one family)
806. Kerri S.
807. A new route to work, saving me time and fuel
808. My gray scarf / neck warmer, Jo made for me
809. My blue Converse All-Stars
810. Ice cream on Sundays
811. Sharpie markers
812. This blog post 

My list will continue to grow as I praise the Lord each week here on my blog!
To join in the praise click here.

November 16, 2012

Thoughts on marriage


Marriage is about honor.  It is all about putting the needs, wants, and desires of your beloved above your own, and more importantly, about putting God's desires for your marriage, ahead of any ideas one may have.

A wedding band symbolizes purity, but it also symbolizes restriction or how could I put it? fidelity?  One wears a band around their finger, encircling it, reminding that person of the sacredness of their vows, to always be faithfully committed to purity and holiness in their marital relationship.

Someone has said that marriage is like an ocean.  After marriage the husband and wife now embark on a never-ending voyage of discovery in a sea so deep, we can't see the bottom.  Whereas, platonic, casual relationships, one-night stands, recreational sex and any other form of "relationships" are like diving into a kiddie wading pool.  There is neither depth nor substance to be discovered in those illicit "delights" the world makes seem so appealing. 

As the wise king Solomon instructed his son, regarding the perils of adultery:

Drink water from your own well—
    share your love only with your wife.
16 Why spill the water of your springs in the streets,
    having sex with just anyone?
17 You should reserve it for yourselves.
    Never share it with strangers.

18 Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you.
    Rejoice in the wife of your youth.
19 She is a loving deer, a graceful doe.
    Let her breasts satisfy you always.
    May you always be captivated by her love.
20 Why be captivated, my son, by an immoral woman,
    or fondle the breasts of a promiscuous woman?
Proverbs 15:5-20 (New Living translation)

This is a more graphic reading of this passage, but it really does get the point across!  I remember reading Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship by Josh Harris a few years ago, and he quoted this passage (using the NLT version) and it left an impression on me, concerning the sacredness of sex and the marriage covenant.

If we understood the seriousness of sexual sins, and how defiling and damaging they are, scars on our very souls, more people would carefully consider whether or not it was "worth" having sex, before marriage.  Even if you do end up marrying the person you slept with, you will have that feeling of shame and regret, and will have lost something so special and exciting.

Enjoy your spouses sexuality!  Be enraptured only by their beauty and your relationship with that other person.  God created us as sexual beings, not as a curse, but as a great blessing and responsibility.  If we are holy and pure in our marriages, we bless not only our spouse and ourselves, but we bring blessing to future generations, by setting a godly example of what a devoted to God marriage looks like.
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 
Hebrews 13:4 

Love and respect are two key ingredients to a successful marriage.  When a wife shows respect for her husband, when she builds him up with her words and works, when she does not criticize him or talk badly about him, whether in front of him or behind his back, she is ministering to him in a deeper way than she may realize.  


Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
 1 Peter 3:1-6

And, when a husband loves, affirms and tenderly cherishes his wife, he brings the security and stability she requires.  She will thrive on his love, as he bestows his affection upon her.  Showing her that she alone, is the one who has his heart.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And his banner over me was love.
 His left hand is under my head,
And his right hand embraces me.
I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.
Song of Songs 2:4, 6-7 

One book I would recommend to married couples, or young people who are pursuing a serious-leading-to-marriage relationship, is Emerson Eggerichs book Love & Respect (The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs)

My parents are reading through this book, and Mom has told me how helpful it has been for her already.  I look forward to one day reading through it, and gleaning some important lessons about respecting my (for now future) husband. 

November 11, 2012

Sunday Meditation

  
When you come to appear before Me,
Who has required this from your hand,
To trample My courts?
Bring no more futile sacrifices;
Incense is an abomination to Me.
The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
My soul hates;
They are a trouble to Me,
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Even though you make many prayers,
I will not hear.
Your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.
Come now, and let us reason together,
Says the Lord, 
Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
You shall eat the good of the land;
But if you refuse and rebel,
You shall be devoured by the sword;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 1:12-20 

November 10, 2012

How are you?


Have you ever pondered the delicacy of that question?

In essence, the questioner is asking the one they question, to bare his or her heart to them.  To reveal what's really going on inside.  That's pretty delicate.

It seems cliche, but really this question is packed with human emotion and care, directed towards the other person.

We all long for honest, open relationships, where we can trust and rely on the advice of another human being.  This is how we should view this question, and not be afraid to truthfully, honestly, gently share how we are - really.

So, next time someone asks "how are you?" be honest.  And, listen when your friend opens up to you in return to your thoughtful, "how are you?"

You'll be glad you did.

-----

A friend loves at all times...
Proverbs 17:17 

November 6, 2012

On Parenting: A Few Observations

I remember my Mom telling me how some parents try to be friends with their children, during the time when they need to just be a parent, and the trouble it can cause.

There are of course, good reasons to be friends with one's children.  It's all about timing though. 

What do I mean by "friend":
  • being less strict, because you want your child's input on how you'll discipline (letting them decide their own punishment, yes I have seen this)
  • letting them have more freedom in things they may still need your guidance or supervision with
  • understanding that you and they have separate, God-given roles, that need to be carried out in a way that brings Him honor and glory, and does not mar the child 
All too often, I've seen parents "spoiling" their children.  Because it is much easier to get a child to stop whining by simply giving them what they are whining for.  But in the long run, what message are you sending that child?  That they can have any and everything, so long as they are persuasive enough?

When I was a small child, under two years old, I was ill a lot.  My frequent ear infections and sinus related problems made me cranky and not much fun to be around.  Added to that, my strong-willed nature, and natural tendency towards disobedience, and that made for a self-centered, hateful little girl, hard to take care of, hard to really love.

My Mom began to understand about this time the proper ways to discipline a child, and began employing those methods.  I don't remember much until I was six or older, but I know that the talks, the punishment, the restrictions and the loving but firm hand my Mom (and Dad) placed on my life, helped to mold and shape me into who I am today.

One very vivid memory I do have as a young child, is of my Dad explaining to me what repentance was: he used the metaphor of a highway, and how when we are sorry over our sin, we are taking a U-turn, in effect.  Turning away from our sinful desires, and turning towards God, and life.  It was so real to me at that time, and I recall it from time to time, even today.

If my parents had treated me as their "friend" during the years when I needed the most guidance and training, I don't want to imagine who I'd be today.  It wouldn't be pretty.

Now, there certainly does come a time in a young person's life, where their parents can trust them with more responsibilities, and they have valuable insight they can share with their parents, and so in a way become "friends" with their parents.  I think that is a good thing.

Parents should seek to disciple their children, so that they would feel safe, loved, valued, and noticed as a member of the family.  And, when the time is right, seek to befriend their children in a different sort of way, then previously experienced.

Parenting is hard.  You have the responsibility of raising up a living soul, with an eternal destination.  And that's huge!  There are many good resources to help you on the way to successful parenting.

Some verses on parenting taken from my favorite parenting resource: The Bible -

A wise son makes a glad father,
But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.
 (Proverbs 10:1)

A wise son heeds his father’s instruction,
But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

 (Proverbs 13:1) 

A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.

(Proverbs 15:20) 

Another favorite passage is Proverbs 31:1-f, where King Solomon's mother is instructing him in the way he should go.  And of course, the rest of the chapter is targeted at young women, and their roles.  So, the whole chapter is chock-full of godly wisdom as to how young people should live their lives.   

Vote today!!


October 29, 2012

{Reblogged} Are We Becoming More Medieval?

And, although I don’t necessarily agree 100% with the author, I think he does bring up some valid arguments.  I would diverge with him on a couple of points:

1. What is wrong with communitarianism? ( i.e. “nation states” or “city states” or as the author termed it “a nostalgia for localism”) — he seems to think that they are not wanted (I hesitate to use the word ‘bad’), somehow.

2. All the problems the West faces, specifically in the US, were not created by Obama taking office and running up 5 trillion more dollars worth of debt.  These problems are deep-seated, and transcend party affiliation, ethnicity or gender.  They have more to do with worldview, then with politics.  Which of course, are intra-related, one informing the other, hopefully.

Why is there today a nostalgia for localism? Shrinking Western populations with growing numbers of elderly and unemployed can no longer sustain their present level of redistributive taxation and entitlements. Europe, which can endure neither the disease of insolvency nor the supposed medicine of austerity, is only a decade ahead of what we should expect here in the United States, or what we see now in California — a construct more than a state, where the Central Valley is to the coast as Mississippi is to Massachusetts. 
Voters are also disgusted with government, and feel that their overseers are not even subject to the consequences of what they impose on others: We expect the Obamas to trash the 1 percent as they jet to Martha’s Vineyard, or a zillionaire John Kerry to demand higher taxes as he seeks to avoid them on his yacht, or an upscale French Socialist president to have a home on the Mediterranean — or, on the other side of the ledger, social-conservative elites to speak and act like metrosexuals. 
The frustration with the distant redistributive state extends beyond the technocracy to the very nature and legitimacy of the bureaucracies themselves. We know that no one trusts the National Bank of Greece or believes much in Eurobonds, but who trusts any more the GSA, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or even the Secret Service to fulfill their missions competently, and with honesty and decorum? 
Nor can the redistributionist technocracy any longer make the case that its certifications, its very claims to legitimacy and entitlement — a PhD from Harvard, a JD from Yale, an MBA from Stanford — and its experience — tenure at Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, two years in OMB, a billet at the CBO, three years at the Federal Reserve — have warranted our trust. We certainly do not believe any more that such a résumé makes one a better legislator or administrator than another who has run a company, built a business, farmed, piloted a plane, or served in the military. Certainly an Al Gore or Barack Obama does not seem wise, no matter where he was educated or how many government posts he has held.
You can read the article in it’s entirety, here.

October 28, 2012

Sunday Meditation


Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,  but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.  For God shows no partiality.
 Romans 2:1-11 ESV

October 22, 2012

On Parenting: A Few Observations

As a young adult female, who desires to one day wed and have children of my own, parenting is something I like to observe.  I've seen the good, the bad, the ugly.  It is always a great blessing when I am around families whose love and harmony pulses out so strongly, obvious to even a silent observer.

My current employment allows me to function in a simi-parental role: I work as a nanny with two precious boys aged 4.5 and 3.5.  I feed them, love on them, cloth them, read to them, take them to the park, on walks, "discipline" them (as in keeping them in line), bathe them, comfort them, potty train them, and put them to bed.  I sometimes feel like a mother, because I spend the majority of their day, performing motherly tasks while real momma works.

I'd like to share these observations because of my own experience as a child, and the lessons I have gleaned from that time, in retrospect.  With time and added maturity, I hope, I have been able to appreciate the efforts my parents put in, to my proper upbringing.

-----
 - Don't make empty threats.  This is highly ineffective, because children catch on to parental inconsistencies quicker then we might think.  They will soon realize our none-committal to carrying out the punishment threatened, and begin to look for more ways to challenge our authority.
- Do not punish in anger!  I can't state that strongly enough.  Disciplining a child when one is angry results in painful and distasteful consequences.  The child can be physically hurt, if their parent lashes out with an angry response, and emotionally traumatized, becoming distrustful of his/her parent, because of the angry and unrighteous response to their offense.
- Set reasonable boundaries, and stick to them.  Of course, some boundaries are only useful for a certain time period.  For example, while you may tell your five-year-old son that he may not go the park alone, when he is twelve or thirteen years old, you may modify the same rule, and allow him to go, with time restrictions, etc.  While other boundaries (read rules) don't change, such as honoring and obeying parental authority, treating those around us with kindness and gentle treatment, or taking others things (i.e. stealing).  Those are timeless principles, which, if applied (taught) properly, will stay with a child for a lifetime.  (see Proverbs 22:6 below)

"Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it."

- Realize that most character qualities are "caught" rather than "taught."  With this in mind, think of how your child sees you, when you're responding to a stressful situation in anger, instead of patience and prayer.  Do you want your son or daughter to respond similarly?  Children are like little mirrors, reflecting back to their parents how they act, talk, handle a situation, etc.  They [the children] are like little sponges, soaking up what their parents say, how they say it, their body language or just "language," how they handle life situations, how they treat their spouses.  Children catch on to any hypocrisy too, which is a sobering thought.  A lot of times, they can see it before we do, so live consistently before the eyes of your children.
- Start young, and be patient.  If parents understood that discipleship parenting really begins in utero, I think children would turn out to be better people, because they would be receiving the benefits of godly examples and instructions from Day 1, practically.  Far too many parents allow their children to "have their own way," and then wonder why they "rebel" around age twelve.

When parents begin at a very young age with their children, to impart good and godly character qualities such as: self-control, honesty and truthfulness, a gentle and kind treatment of others, a servants heart of selfless living, and a desire to find, know and walk in Truth, the child's heart is softened to obedience, self-sacrifice, kindness, etc., making the parents job easier in the long-run.

- You can teach a baby to obey.  And a toddler to sit still through a church service, to not interrupt at meal-time, or take away a playmates toys.   A happy, well-adjusted, obedient child does take a lot of effort and input, at the beginning.  But, should the discipleship process be carried out in a loving, gentle and consistent manner, the rewards of a godly young person are huge!

- Give them a chance to obey / disobey.  I have noticed that I often get impatient with younger children, especially when they have been asked to do something, and seem to not respond immediately.  Instead of getting upset or angry, it is best to repeat the command / request, and than give them a chance to obey or disobey.  

Next week, I will explore the "stages" of parenting.  And parent / child relationships that please the Lord and bring honor to each party. 


------

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise:  “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1-4

October 16, 2012

1000 Gifts





786. Ted talks
787. Romans 15:5-7
788. Abe's visits
789. Monday night Ultimate frisbee and visiting
790. Hugs
791. Park days
792. The gift of art
793. Colors
794. Sewing projects
795. My promise ring
796. God's promises
797. Obvious answers to prayers
798. Sharpies
799. Pillowcases
800. Chores
801. Noah's questions
802. Paracord bracelets
803. Flannel
804. Figs
805. Tinted windows


My list will continue to grow as I praise the Lord each week here on my blog!
To join in the praise click here.

October 15, 2012

Yesterday was an historic day here in the US, and for the world.  Because for the first time in recorded history, a man jumped from the edge of the space and lived to tell us about his experience.

Parachutist Felix Baumgartner, 43 of Austria, took to stratosphere yesterday morning, in a specially crafted balloon driven capsule.  After a two-hour ascent, he reached his destination: 128,000 feet above the Earth, and then he jumped...

For the first 4 minutes 16 seconds after his jump, he was in free-fall, uncontrolled motion as he hurled towards the ground.  Reaching speeds upwards of 800 mph, breaking the sound barrier.  But, he didn't break the record for free-fall following a stratospheric jump set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger, at 4 minutes 36 seconds.  Interestingly, Kittinger was one of the mission control team members, assisting Felix in his mission.

With jaw-dropping amazement, the world looked on as Mr. Baumgartner sped towards earth at such a rate unthinkable.  When his parachute deployed, just minutes before touching down in a field in New Mexico, the world cheered.  This was such a momentous undertaking.  Years in planning and preparation, about to pay off.  When he landed, those watching, especially his family, let out a victorious sigh of relief.  Felix had done, what no other human had dreamed of doing, until recently, and had allowed an audience worldwide to watch his every step, from launch, to journey, to jump, to successful landing.

It was a breathtaking few hours, which will go down in history as acts of bravery, scientifically and experimentally pushing the envelope towards a new horizon astronomically.  

-----



Speed of sound explained

"Breaking the speed of sound refers to catching up with – and surpassing – the speed at which sound waves are produced in the air. The speed of sound is affected by temperature: where the air is colder, sound travels more slowly."

World-record jump

October 13, 2012

It's the simple things



It's another lovely early Fall day, and I'm once again at the park.  Surrounded by chirping birds, buzzing cars and thundering planes.  As I sit here, joggers move quickly past, and those who've chosen walking as their form of exercise, meander slowly by.  Locusts pulse out their harmonic vibrations, and the water in the stream gracefully eases its way downstream.

I love relative solitude.  Because when I'm alone, my heart can truly be heard and pours itself out on my page.  Expressing its deepest thoughts and feelings.  And though I love my family dearly, sometimes it seems almost impossible to gather ones thoughts in a house swarming with activity. 


So I choose to come here, and sit alone on a swing, to process what happened yesterday, and plan for today, tomorrow, the day after.  And to read and study God's gift to mankind: Holy Scripture, or a book I need to complete. 


And of course, I reflect on all of God's many kindnesses, and how truly faithful He is, despite my letting Him down, daily.  


This is my sanctuary, where I steal away and spend time with my Jesus.



Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not. 
 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 
 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”

Lamentations  3:22-24

October 9, 2012

A day at the park


Last Saturday we (Phoebe, Johanna, Jaden and I) took a walk down to the park nearest our house.  Despite the cooler temps and wind, we had a good time.  


There are some neat trees at this park, and we stopped at one of them to take some pictures.  Oh yes, and Jaden thought he was stuck after he climbed up the tree and couldn't come back down.  So, we had a few minutes of laughter as we attempted to help him down.  He jumped in the end, and was fine. 


Johanna looking smart in her fall outfit with a splash of color 


There are some lovely rose bushes, overflowing with blooms.  



Loveliness in a flower 


And then we found a cool swing and took silly pictures :)  


The leaves are changing color 


I think Autumn is here 


I served as a model for Johanna 


Admiring the beauty found in a simple leaf 


Pheebs 


What is she thinking I wonder? 


After we had walked around in the park, snapping photos, we went under the bridge and sang in 4-part harmony which sounded like we were in a cathedral!  Then we tramped up to the library where we saw the ducks, and looked at books for a bit. 

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon with my darling siblings. :) 


The geese flying south
In a row long and V-shaped
Pulling in winter
 
-- Sally Andresen (Fall)