31 August 2005

Reality Check

I was having a bad day. Everything was stressing me out. Ever have one of those days when you know that you are overwhelmed, but even that knowledge isn't enough to pull yourself back together and get it in check??? Well it was one of those days - living in the flesh- being short tempered, and trying foolishly to regain control on my own. There was not good news from the union today - and although it is likely temporary (they have to investigate the employer that withheld his final paycheck illegally) - I wanted it to get better NOW! I am ashamed to see how much my temperament can remindme of a two year old not getting their way is sometimes. I feel a bit like I am in quicksand - pulling harder, and harder, and HARDER - as if there is one thing I can do to make anything happen any faster than it is happening. When we first decided to move - our goal was to be in Texas by the beginning of August - and we didn't even get the house on the market until late August. I didn't want to start the school year here - and am being forced with so much else going on in or lives to try and get things going.. Wah Wah Wah

And then it happened - just before dinner my husband turned on the news - and the first half hour of stories were about the victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and Mississippi - and suddenly my problems didn't seem so bad. Families have lost their homes, people are looking for loved ones, levees have broken and cities are flooded, people are making mass exodus from their hometowns to unknown places, and highways are literally jammed with people trying to leave the ravaged areas.. It is just heartwrenching.

I don't know how it is so easy to get off track - caught up in sin - as Paul says that "so easily entangles". I repent - in dust and ashes - well at least cobwebs and an unswept floor! Turn my complaining to intercession for the needs of others Lord, and help me not to be so focused on the ridiculously minute details of my own little life and reality. Give me eyes to see the things that are eternally important.

For those affected by Hurricane Katrina

30 August 2005

Please Pray - Layoff

My husband works in the construction industry - and the problem with building things is that eventually they are finished. The jobs he has been working on have been slowing down - and there wasn't work for him two days last week or yesterday. He worked a whole day today and was laid off at the end of the day. The problem is that his employer in order to keep him from being able to draw unemployment - found a "reason" to lay him off - and (how ironic?) several other guys on the same day. They also found a way to keep him from getting his pay for the past week. Long story short, we are going to be at the union hall tomorrow and see if we can get them to work things out. I think we could use prayer. He is expecting to get transferred to Texas soon - but in the meantime, we have to provide for our family.

I felt so terrible this evening when he came home - he looked so discouraged. He is a good husband - and he works hard to take care of us. I am so proud of him. He never complains - even though he never gets a sick day or a day off for fun. He works hard so that I can stay home with our children - and I am so thankful. Please pray that the Lord will provide. I am wondering where groceries will come from this week, and money for prescriptions for my asthmatic child. Also, my little guy has his 8th birthday in less than two weeks. It can be really exciting to be in this position - to see the hand of the Lord provide. He always does more than I could ever ask or imagine. Thank You Lord in advance for Your hand of provision!

29 August 2005

CAUTION: Radical Homeschooling Mom Opinions

When it comes to school . . . . . . . .

I titled this entry so that anyone who wasn't interested in hearing my views on homeschooling, and may be offended by reading what I have to say on the subject could just politely skip this particular segment of my blog. I have had this on my mind a few days, and have held back from ranting about it - however, I have come to the conclusion that since this is a "homeschooling" web-community, and since this is MY blog - voicing my thoughts and opinions are what it is all about.
I have always tried to speak my mind with respect for my audience. My husband and I feel that keeping our children home from school is best for them, which is why we homeschool. Through the years, I have found opportunities to encourage people who were interested in homeschooling to take the plunge. However, I have found times when I had to respect the fact that someone could not, would not, or did not want to homeschool their children, and support them where they were. I am sure I have not done this perfectly - knowing my propensity for mistakes - and yet it has always been my heart to encourage others. I have not always found this respect to be mutual.
This weekend was a perfect example. I found myself sitting at a wedding reception next to my dad's cousin - a sixty-something, long-time school teacher. I remember being a little girl and going to school with her for a day while visiting them in Pennsylvania. She has an excellent rapport with children, and I am sure that she is a wonderful school teacher. While sitting at the table, we were having very pleasant conversation - about our move to Texas, things I remember about her parents, what she has been up to, the weather, etc. when my oldest daughter Kendra walked up. "So what grade is she going into?" the cousin asked. I told her that she is in ninth grade. "So is that high school where you live?" I replied that it was indeed high school, however, she wasn't going to the high school because we homeschool. This woman who had been the most delightful conversationalist to that point, looked at me with wild eyes, threw her hand up and said, "You don't even want to go there with me." and did not speak to me further for the rest of the night. She did not ask any questions about what kind of education we were giving our kids, what they were involved in, how they scored on standardized tests - NOTHING. She made up her mind long before ever having this conversation with me what she thought of homeschooling, and nobody was going to change her mind. I didn't even try. But as I thought on it, I got more and more upset.
I know I have a problem with expecting people to treat me the way I treat them - and that has been a disappointment many times in my life. I did not pass judgment on her as a school teacher - I know many teachers who are very gifted and talented and have much to offer children. However, the thing that people tend to miss is that we homeschool our children mainly beause we want to pass on our faith to them, and we as their parents want to be the primary influence in their lives. We want our children to grow up to be godly young men and women. That goal is more important than math, spelling, reading history and science. Those are things we are also giving them, but even each of those subjects are taught with a worldview that shows them God's hand in each of these areas.
But here is where I err - talking to the world, and all they hear is blah, blah blah, blah. That's alright, when people see a difference in my children's lives, I will be able to point at what made the difference. We nurtured them in the ways of the Lord, going against the flow in a culture that doesn't know Him.

28 August 2005

Quiet Time - We Are the Body of Christ

The church - there are many metaphors for the church. We are the Body of Christ. We are the Bride of Christ. We have a homework assignment for the coming week to identify some more of these metaphors ---

There was a statue in front of a church in France of Jesus - and during WWII the hands were broken off of it. There was a sculptor who offered to repair it, however the church decided to keep the statue the way it was - with hands broken off, and added this inscription, "In this world, Christ has no hands but ours, for we are His body."

Each member of the body has a different part. We all have a purpose and function. There is a difference between attendance and church membership. Membership requires more than attending a service, but being the hands, eyes, fingers, nose, toes. God has called each of us to do something. What is that which He has called me to do, my purpose? We were not called to be warts, and just sit there.

As a member in the body of Christ there are five requirements to be come a "member" of our church -
1. You must be born again - acknowledge Christ died for you and commit your life to live for Him.
2. Baptism - in Matthew 28 Jesus tells us to go into all the world making disciples and baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (This is not a requirement for salvation - yet it is an outward expression of an inward change - a testimony to the world.)
3. Supporting the church through prayer - to make intercession for the body
4. Supporting the church financially - through tithing
5. Participating in discipleship - A disciple means "learner" - one who sits at the Master's feet drinking up every word
Imagine you are on an airplane, and as the flight attendant gives instructions on what to do in case of an emergency, the occupants of the plane may be barely listening. However should an emergency occur, and the flight attendant repeats the emergency instructions, every ear in attentive to what she has to say.
To be a disciple means to be hungry for the knowledge of God as if your very life depended on it.
These things above are for "members" and not "attenders"

In II Chronicles chapter 26 we read about King Uzziah. He was a good king - a godly man. He became king at 16 years old, and reigned for 52 years. He did what was right in the eyes of God, like his father before him. He was one of a few godly kings of Israel. He obeyed God. His walk matched his talk. Zachariah taught him to obey, fear and follow God. He was blessed, and his fame spread far - read on: II Chronicles 26:16 - But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaitful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
Azariah, the priest tok eighty other courageous priests with him to confront Uzziah. The king could not serve as priest, and could not burn incense. Why? Because only One would be priest AND king - the Messiah - King of kings and the Great High Priest - Jesus Christ. Uzziah's punishment was that he broke out in leprosy, and it remained until the day he died, and was never allowed in the temple again.

Let's meet the "TATE" Family -
There's DICK-TATE - he thinks everything should go his way!
His sisters - AGGA- and IRRA-TATE - always keeping everything stirred up
His cousins - HEZZA- and VEGGA-TATE - always nay-saying everything
Grandpa - DEVAS-TATE - always in turmoil
His Aunt - EMMA-TATE - she always wants everything done like they did it in her "old church"
And with this family is a little boy- AMPU-TATE - who is watching all the adults around him - and he will eventually cut himself off from the church altogether

This is all craziness - If you find yourself grumpy and complaining - you're not alone - little eyes and ears watch and listen. We read in chapter 27 Uzziah's son Jotham did not enter the temple. Verse 2 tells us...He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the Lord.

Porky told a story about wanting to take his daughters to the local high school football games - but not anymore! All they ever want is money. When you get to the gate, you can't even get in without giving them money. And the last time he went, he sat in front of some girls that sat talking the whole time about their boyfriends. Hypocrites! They weren't even paying attention to the game! And then there's all those things they say that I don't agree with! ---- This sounds ridiculous - and yet people say that about churches all the time, and we say nothing.

Being family is about coming together to serve one another in love. Without going to church you can still go to heaven, and still have a relationship with God - but it effects the next generation. Without giving your children a spiritual legacy, don't expect they'll pick it up!

In II Chronicles 28 we read that Jotham's son Ahaz worshipped idols, even sacrificing his own children. God allowed him to be handed over to the Arameans. His grandfather was thrown out of the temple - and his father would never enter - and he turned to idol worship. Enough is enough! It's not about me, it's all about Him. If we lose sight of that, and we'll lose a whole generation. Being a member of the body requires - belief, obedience, service, giving, and fellowship. It says I'm committed to do what God would have me do if He would have me do it here.

A personal note: I did not grow up in the church. It is only because of my dire need that I found the Lord - because He loved me and sought after me. This sermon really drove home to me the importance of giving my children a spiritual heritage.

27 August 2005

Weddings and Anniversaries!

Today is my anniversary! Seventeen years together is a long time. I was thinking about it the other day - next year, my husband and I will have been together for more than half of my life, and the year after that and forevermore, it will always be more than half of my life. I can remember my childhood, but in my heart, there doesn't seem to be a time when he was ever not "with me" in a sense. When we were younger and still dating, we broke up for a time, and I went through a family crisis - and even though it was awkward, I pulled my car up outside the apartment building where he was living and he came out and talked to me for a long time. I needed to talk to him - nobody else would do - because he was my BEST FRIEND.

Our marriage has had some rough spots - at times like coarse grain sandpaper snagging silk. Within the last couple of years, we have been going through some tremendous growing pains, but I have learned that he really is my best friend. He is the person I want to share everything with. I think that is why it can be so hard when there is a marriage disconnect, because the very person causing the hurt is the one you most need to lean on in the hurt. I am so thankful for the work I see God doing between the two of us - it truly is a miracle. I will celebrate that this day!

This afternoon my cousin David gets married to his long-time girlfriend Jen - and we are going to the wedding. What an appropriate anniversary day activity - celebrating the union of another couple. I hope that in seventeen years, they will be able to say that their relationship is everything that God meant it to be.

Happy Anniversary Travis! Happy Anniversary to Me!

24 August 2005

Ask My Realtor - As My Friend

Okay, so now we actually have our house on the market! Yesterday we finally had a realtor come over and list our house for sale - and our realtor extraordinaire is none other than... dun dah dah duh . .. . . .
My friend TINA FRANCIS!!!
Scroll down on the right side to see pictures, etc. of my house that is for sale in WV!
This past winter, Tina and I took our Real Estate Practices and Principles class together. It was a really cool experience going together every Monday and Wednesday night - and eventually a few Fridays were thrown into the mix. However, by the time we finished the class (which I passed with a B!!!!), I knew I wouldn't be going to take my licensing exam, because we had decided to move to Texas. I was so proud of Tina for making that long trip with another lady from our class to Charleston - and passing the exam!!! And this week she went and signed up under Long and Foster with a team run by Sherrilynn Donaldson - and the two of them came out yesterday and listed my house. WOO HOO!

I know Tina will do very well in real estate - because she is a people person. So remember, you saw her first here featured on my humble little blog - but one day you're gonna see that face on billboards, on those little paper placemats you get at the diner, on the backs of benches, and all over realtor.com. But here is what I thinks makes her most special of all - Tina is helping me sell my house and she really doesn't want us to move. The day I told her we were going to move was filled with a lot of tears, between both of us. This moving thing is hard - but having her as our relator in a lot of ways is making it easier. She is coming over today to help me do whatever - organize closets, and some general straightening. I know Tina would do this kind of stuff to help just about anybody - but when she helps me get ready to move - even when she doesn't want me to go is an act of pure love and unselfish friendship. I am blessed to be able to call her my friend. The rest of you will just have to be content to call her to be your realtor!!
* * * *

This act of pure love and unselfish friendship has been poured into my life by many:

My friend Carol has been my "big sister" for going on ten years now. We became friends when our daughters took preschool dance classes together. Now they're teenagers and all along we've been walking that road together. Knowing my family is all distant, she has taken the role of their "Auntie Carol" in the lives of my children, and I know she loves them the way only family can, and they her. She has taken care of all of us through the years in so many ways. It will be heart wrenching in a way I can't even think about to be physically separated from her!

My friend Helen has helped us financially while we take on such a monumental task, and believed that we could and should do what was best for our family despite her personal feelings. She has been my cheerleader and the voice of wisdom with "Why don'tcha just......" - and you always know the second half of that sentence is something good. She is very practical with her advice - and the ability to think logically has blessed this emotional thinker so much!

My friend Lizbeth also has been amazing. She came to my house one evening, when she needed to be at the laundromat doing laundry, and instead she spent the night laying laminate flooring in my bathroom (and taught me how to use a saw!!). You haven't seen love until you've seen someone pick your toilet up out of your bathroom with their bare hands! She also laid flooring throughout my house with Helen's help last September to help make our environment better for my asthmatic son. When we told her we were thinking about moving - she supported us 200% without flinching!

See what I mean????

22 August 2005

A Song for My Sweetheart and Me

When I met my husband, we were so young. So many years have passed since August 27, 1988 - the day we met and eventually the same date that we married. We were so young - and knew so little about relationships, nothing about marriage or what it takes to really make it work, and we were in the eyes of everyone else, "destined for failure". He was a bit wild, and I was from a long line of broken marriages. Seventeen years later, I found a song that describes the journey that we have taken - and what it means to find the person you know God meant for you to be with - for better or worse - I am putting the lyrics here - but I will play the song for him later and tell him how much it means to me to have been by his side all these years - - -

God Blessed the Broken Road
by: Rascal Flatts

I set out on a narrow way - many years ago
Hoping I would find true love - along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two - wiped my brow, kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream - led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart - they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way - into your loving arms
This much I know is true
God has blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

I think about the years I spent - just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost - and give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand - you've been there you understand
It's all part of a grander plan - that is coming true
Every long lost dream - led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart - they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way - into your loving arms
This much I know is true
God has blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you!

Just as a wee little footnote for those of you who are also children of the 80s - "our song" used to be appropriately Welcome to the Jungle by Guns 'n' Roses.

Mountain Lake Getaway

Saturday night I went camping with a friend, for a much needed bit of rest and relaxation. I seldom miss church - because I love being there. The Lord says that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together - and yet, I believe He loves and honors the little assembly we had around the campfire yesterday morning reading His word, as much as He does assembling as a large group in corporate worship. However, I have a tendency to impose legalistic thought processes on myself - and this often puts a damper on the freedom I should be experiencing in Christ.

His word spoke to me in our little "church" service. This was the verse we discussed sitting around the campsite - Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men. - Proverbs 22:29 The verse came up in a section I was reading of Diana Waring's book, Reaping the Harvest. It made me think of how many things I do in my life at a "passable" standard, meaning good enough to get by, but not to the standard that would be called excellent. Then I started mulling over in my mind whether or not this means God expects us to excel at EVERYTHING we do - or that some things we just do to an average standard, and other things, as He has gifted us individually, are to be worked to an 'excellent' standard. Then the Lord brought to my mind the verse that we are to do everything we do as if we are working for the Lord, and not for man. So that our standard should be in all that we do to please God - not for the prasie of people, or even to have a good "work ethic" - but to please Him and Him alone. Wow! OUCH!

And I was reminded in that moment that He speaks to us anywhere. That is such an important lesson for me as I am about to dig up roots, and have explored recently my dependency on my church family, my pastor's teaching and even the worship time at our church. He is teaching me, with baby steps, that I can stand without anyone holding my hand other than Him. He is teaching me that fellowship with Him, and a body of believers doesn't have to look a certain way - it can be with a friend, while the smell of sausage wafts through the air, and a couple of half-asleep, bedraggled kids sitting on our laps, going over the word of God together.

Still. . . . . . . . . I can't wait for next Sunday!

Here is a picture of the beautiful lake beach, surrounded by mountains.

19 August 2005

Small Town Happenings

The year I had my son (1997) - there was a big deal because came to town!!! WOO HOO! We only had a couple of drug stores, grocery stores, flea markets and antique stores in our town before Wally-World made the grand entrance. Now it is like a town hall!

Why is it that you can't go there without running into at least one person you know? It is where people meet to swap kids, or to carpool for homeschooling events, and even the teenagers hang out at the far end of the parking lot. So many things happen there. Babies cut their teeth on the cart handles - which by the way is totally gross, just from the look of the fingernails of the cart-guy in the parking lot, who probably hasn't washed his hands since 1985. I wanted to buy that mother a big old box of biscotti or zwieback toast! I even saw two women talking the other day, and one was - - I kid you not - - crying!!! So evidently now therapy is available at the big "W". In our town, everybody wears the same kind of underwear - because there is only one place to buy it. The women all have the same purses, and the guys all get the red toolbox that is on special for $39.99 for Father's Day. Today my firend Tina took me to Wal-mart to go grocery shopping - and I ran into a friend I hadn't seen in a while. It was such a hoot as we sat there catching up while leaning on some bags of dog food. Later my friend Kathie stopped by there to hand off a turkey, (Don't ask!!?!) and as we were leaving the parking lot we saw a place where kids can come to meet and shake their bus driver's hand. And on Friday nights you can go there, and not just run into one person, but their entire family - all out for a big weekly night out on the town! In our little town, Walmart is the place to be.

But it's a love hate relationship that I have with Walmart. 'Cause deep down inside I want to tell you about what I saw on the clearance rack, and that bags of lettuce are even cheaper there than at Save-a-Lot!!! And yet I want to encourage you to stay away from that place - that sucks up money and time, and makes you want things you didn't even know they had!

..... after Wal-mart we went across the parking lot to shop for some (as Tina would say) "bargains" at
Well I guess I really am just a small town girl at heart! What will I do if they don't have a Super-Walmart and Goodwill stores in Texas!!!!!?? Shudder the thought!

18 August 2005

Book Review - Reaping the Harvest

It feels a bit strange to recommend a book before I've actually read the whole thing, but it has caused me to think about my relationships with my kids in such a beneficial way, that I just couldn't wait to make sure I shared it with anyone else who may benefit from it as much as I am.
I also need to state, that I was in the library in the section where homeschool books were, somehow divinely inspired to be there - because honestly many of those books totally overwhelm me! However, I reached up, in a hurry because I'd gone with a friend, and pulled down this book:
Reaping the Harvest by Diana Waring - and shallow girl that I am, the cover appealed to me. So I threw it in my basket, maybe in the back of my mind thinking it'd be another "homeschooling how-to" book I'd lug home and never read. *Sigh* It's not that I don't WANT to be inspired, it is just that after all these years of homeschooling, sometimes it seems there's nothing new under the sun!
I started reading this book the night before last, and it has been hitting me right between the eyes. I didn't even know it was directed at parents of teenagers. There is a lot of emphasis on building relationships of mutual respect, acknowledging your children as special - created by God. That even helped me with my seven year old, who I am so busy trying to keep from driving other people crazy (physical antics, constantly making sounds, drumming on the table, whistling, etc. etc.) that I risk suffocating the personality God made him to have and intends to use for His glory.
I would highly recommend that parents of teens read this book - and there is another book called Beyond Survival also by Diana Waring for all parents. I plan on checking out all of her stuff now! She also has a website www.dianawaring.com - with many resources for homeschoolers.
Okay, so before I sound too much like a commercial, I will state that I do not know Diana Waring (although I wouldn't mind meeting her!), I am not being paid to read this book, nor to give it a favorable review. I will simply say that I am a parent who is learning as I go with my children how to let them grow into the people God made them - and along the way, I'm learning to be who God made me. This book spoke to that desire inside of me to nurture my children's God-given personalities. I pray it may benefit someone else as well. Happy reading!

17 August 2005

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Last night was one of those moments of self-revelation, when you realize that you're a homeschooler - and you know that your child's curiosity is what will ultimately motivate them to learn things - and it takes precedent over everything else!
Kullen and I had snuggled up in my bed to read more of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. After the story was over, he went to brush his teeth and as he passed my bedroom window, he saw a huge spider just outside. It was fascinating. And I have those windows that go all the way down to the floor, so he could sit right there on the inside and look at it for a while. It was a pretty awesome event. I think he is fascinated and yet scared of spiders, and would never ordinarily get that close. But behind the safety of the glass it was another story. While it was hanging there we could see its backside. So I got his drawing tablet - and knowing it was bedtime he was somewhat shocked and said, "I can draw it? Now?" He was thrilled. He drew in great detail what the spider and the designs on its back looked like. Eventually I went to make daddy's lunch and he went to brush his teeth, but then he came back to check the spider before going to bed, and saw that it had moved, and now we could see its tummy!! WOO HOO! More drawing! This morning when he wakes up, we'll see if we can find a way to identify it.
I want to always be tuned in to these learning moments. They are a way of life for homeschoolers. My little boy had every bit of his brain power immersed in observing that spider - we counted the legs and talked about the color, we watched the spider rear back as if it would strike us, and we watched it spin a small bug in its web. You can't learn that kind of stuff in a textbook! (Which is why I hate textbooks!? Have I ever said that here? Oh, well that's another blog!)
FOOTNOTE: Here is our spider - it's a Garden Orb Weaving Spider - non-agressive and non-venemous! (Well, actually it is venemous - but it isn't toxic to humans!) However, I shouldn't have looked at this website because now I know a whole lot more about spiders than I ever wanted to know!!! God has not given me a spirit of fear, God has not given me a spirit of fear, God has not given me a spirit of fear!!!

16 August 2005

Life Lessons in the Roller Rink

Last night I took the kids, mine and as many as the car would hold to Christian Skate night at a new roller skating rink in our area. We had a good time – but here are some lessons I learned from the pack:

Dwayne – extra-large man – bald head – infectious laugh - wiping out everyone around on his skates Some things just shouldn’t be done!

Dillon – 13 years old – tall and lanky (and very cute!) – Napoleon Dynamite-ish posture – first time skater – he was on his butt more than he was on his feet – When you fall – GET BACK UP!

Tina – 30 something – blonde, cute smile – currently in the market for a new best friend as hers is moving to Texas!! – only recently re-entering the skating scene – (and Brenna, and Jamey, and Jon) If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

Shasta – (Dwayne’s wife) – new skater – tried to go around me because I was standing in her way – Don’t knock others down! (especially when their husband’s bigger than you!)

Laura – 13 years old – silly girl – like me doesn’t know how to stop! Keep your eyes up! Watch where you’re going!

Kendra, Kaitlyn, Kullen, Justin, Cody, Curtis, Devan, Lukas – Enjoy the ride and take friends along!

So here sums up the spiritual lessons that I learned at the skating rink from an unlikely group –

1- Some things just shouldn’t be done – these things are called sin

2- When you fall- GET BACK UP! If you fall into sin, don’t wallow in it – get back on your feet and follow Jesus.

3- If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again! Sometimes your walk with the Lord will be difficult – there will be challenges but don’t give up!

4- Don’t knock others down! - Along the way, help those around you to keep going in the right direction. We have a choice to trip them up, or give them a hand.

5- Keep your eyes up! Watch where you’re going! - Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and you won’t miss your step. Sometimes that means going against the flow of our culture.

6- Enjoy the ride and take friends along! – God has given us the gift of life, and there are many things to enjoy along the way. He also wants us to take as many of our friends from this life into eternal life in heaven to be with Him as we can!

So, you can learn spiritual lessons anywhere!

Quiet Time - Lessons From James

James 2 - (verse 13b) Mercy triumphs over judgment.
When I am being judgmental towards others, I need to remember that God chose mercy as the way of love in my life, and I need to chose the same with others.

James 3 - (verse 6b) (the tongue.....) is itself set on fire by hell.
Those times when I struggle to control my tongue I am allowing the fires of hell to rage through me, speaking destruction into the life of someone else, and doing a great deal of damage to myself.
(verse 9-12 have to be touched on) With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water frlow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. OUCH! OUCH! OUCH! Help me Lord it hurts!

James 4 - (verse 17) anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins. Sins of omission - just a sinful as sins of comission.

15 August 2005

Country Music State of Mind

I have always liked country music. I have enjoyed the ballads of homegrown lifestyle, hometown values, and patriotic pride that would unfortunately be intermingled with songs about honky-tonkin’, alcohol guzzlin’, and spouse cheatin’. Ten years ago, as a new believer, I would hear my four year old sing the lyrics to some of the songs, and I knew that I needed to make a change. I swore off country music for good – or at least I thought so.

I also love worship music. There is something pure, and beautiful about using the very breath that the Lord gave you to sing praises back to Him. I have heard the criticism about worship songs being 7-11s – where you sing 7 words 11 times. But something happens when you sing these songs – the tangible, physical world melts away and your spirit is free to worship in the presence of the Lord without reservation or hesitation.

A few years ago, Randy Travis brought these two loves together for me when he moved into the gospel/country music genre. He sang songs about faith and family, being baptized in the river, and lots of other things I could relate to. It was so cool.

More recently, as our hearts have been turned to Texas, I got on a country music kick. My kids are a little older now, and I have learned that when a song that is objectionable comes on the radio, I am not a captive audience – I can change the station! (I have also noticed every single time I am in the car with my friend Tina – a country song about TEXAS comes on the radio! Do you think that is a sign that she should move to Texas too??!)

Travis came home the other day and shared a song he’d heard in the car on his way to work – on the country station I had left it on – and it reminded him about his childhood, climbing trees, and running outside all day long getting into whatever he could. Travis is not very sentimental most of the time, but I think I saw his eyes watering as he was remembering. In Sunday school yesterday they played a song in our marriage class called “Little Moments” about those times in a marriage when you realize again that you still love that person! Kendra has found she really likes the love-songs. Those of us that are deeply committed to family, country and God can find a lot of country songs that hit us right where we are – and these are things the Lord values. So I have shed my legalism in favor of discernment, and started enjoying country music again – and use the good sense the Lord gave me to turn the dial when there’s something that opposes those beliefs!!

14 August 2005

Always Pray and Never Give Up

This will be the first post in a new category I am adding, where I will post notes that I take on each Sunday's sermon, or any other teaching I may hear. Until further notice, the sermons I am taking notes on are at my church, Shannondale Springs Chapel, given by my Pastor, Harold Jones, a/k/a "Porky". I would like to write a simple disclaimer on his behalf from the beginning, that this is in no way an actual transcript of the sermon given, but rather my interpretation of the sermon - the things I wrote down that spoke to my heart, and the importance they had to me. So here is what I learned today:

Scripture: Mark 14:32-38
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. "Abba, Father," he said, "everything is poosible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will but what you will."
The he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

Jesus asked Peter, "Could you not keep watch for one hour?"
Have you ever let somebody down? Disappointed someone?
Peter must have felt pretty bad.
Someone said once of these words of Christ that every word is an arrow whose point is dipped in wounded love. Jesus was wounded by his friend.
When calling Peter, Jesus uses his former name, Simon. This had to cut to the heart.
Jesus did many miracles that personally impacted Peter:

1-Jesus heals his mother-in-law

2-in Luke 5 Jesus fills his fishing net with fish - God speaks through this and says, "In the shallow waters, you'll never know Me. I want you to go deeper."

3-in Matthew 14 Jesus calms the storm and allows Peter to take a few steps of faith on the water, before he takes his eyes off of the Lord

4-in Matthew 17 Jesus takes Peter, James and John with Him as He is transfigured on the mountain

After all that Jesus had done for Peter, could he not keep watch for one hour?
How about you?
-He created you
-He saved you
-He laid down His life for you
-He provides for you
Have you ever let Him down?

He paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.
He wants to spend time with you - is an hour too much to ask?

Personal application: My small group has just begun a book called The Hour that Changes the World by Dick Eastman. (I believe it is out of publication.) The book challenges you to pray for an hour a day. At first I thought this was a little radical, and maybe even legalistic. After today's sermon I think I am going to give the book a fresh look. I continue to hear ringing through my head this afternoon, as if Jesus himself is speaking to me, "Could you not keep watch with me for one hour?" ('with me' found in account of same story in Matthew) I find an hour for lots of other things in the span of a day, how much more important is it to make time for my Lord.

Morning Maple Muffin Recipe

These are some of the best muffins I've ever tasted! I got them from fellow blogger JoysintheJourney, and she kindly gave me her permission to share it here! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Morning Maple Muffins
2 cups flour
1/2 c packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter melted (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sour cream
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp chopped nuts
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper cups. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine the milk, butter, syrup, sour cream, egg and vanilla. Stir well. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients until just mixed. Fill muffins 2/3 full, add topping and bake 16-20 minutes, or until brown. Cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes before removing them from the pan. Let muffins cool a bit before serving them. Recipe makes 16 muffins.

They are delicious on a cold winter's monring or in the summer with a cup of orange or raspberry tea! I enjoyed them with my friend Tina, on a stressful morning waiting for someone to come and look at my house! They were a sweet treat!

12 August 2005

Blessings Abound

A few years ago, a friend gave me a Mary Englebreit card framed in a simple blue frame. I love her art work. It has a cluttered and cozy effect. It said, "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things". It is so true, but how easily our perspective on this gets skewed, warped and battered.

Yesterday I was reading one of my favorite blogs by KarenW (missionary family in Romania)- and she was telling about not having water one day unexpectedly. But then she turned it around and saw a way to be thankful because her friends, another missionary family in Albania only have water for one hour a day - between 5 and 6 am. I think she set a great example for me in being able to say - it can be difficult, but I know it could be worse.

When we let these "things", or "lack of things" get us down, we become completely caught up in the flesh, and are rendered virtually ineffective for our Lord. I am so guilty of falling into this trap, and then once I know I'm there, wallowing in it. What a shame it is for those of us who do live in country where things like water and our daily needs are rarely an issue to still be so caught up in "things" and "stuff". For Americans, clean water is seldom lacking - and so what we often concern ourselves with is material possessions, and the caring for those possessions.

Last year on a mission trip with our youth group to work with Lakota Indians in South Dakota, I took a couple of teens with me one day to do some laundry, and encountered some of the poorest people I have ever met. After we put our laundry into the washing machines, we walked across the street to a little mom and pop grocery. With teens in tow, Doritos were mandatory, and we bought a box of Little Debbies. When we got back to the laundromat, we shared our snacks with the children that were there and as would be expected their faces lit up. What I didn't expect was that we would get the same childlike reaction from the adult women, one quite elderly, that were in there. When we returned to the school where we were staying, I just fell apart to think something like that simple treat, which I take for granted, could mean so much to someone.

I just wanted to say that reading about Karen's day really convicted me to count my blessings, and pray for those who are in more difficult circumstances. Thanks for the life lesson Karen! Thank You Lord for reminding me what's important!

11 August 2005

Precious Prayer

Last night the youth leaders and parents of youth at our church had a meeting to discuss what we're doing, where we're headed, any issues or concerns, etc. Being someone who was called to minister to the teenagers at our church years ago, this ministry is so close to my heart. I care so much about what happens here even once our family has moved on.

Porky had all the youth leaders stand up in the middle of the room, and had all the parents gather around us, lay hands on us and pray for us. It was such a very precious time. To hear the parents thank the Lord for the things He has used each of us to do in the lives of their children was such a tremendous blessing. Sometimes in youth ministry you wonder if you are having any effect at all. Some of the blessings included simple things like creating an environment where their teens like to come to church.

I was second in line for prayer. The prayers of praise to the Lord for how He has used me were so precious and sweet. When Pam, my friend and pastor's wife, prayed for our family and the hole that would be at the Chapel once we've gone, I couldn't hold back the tears, and they lingered throughout the rest of the prayer time. They brought our family and our move before the Lord, someone asked that our marriage would be strengthened through such a strenuous time, and almost prophetically Porky (my pastor) asked that the Lord would be with me when times of discouragement and doubt come, when I am away from my friends and everything familiar, and that I would remember the things He has been showing me.

Ten years ago when I walked into the doors of that little Chapel in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I had no idea what a work the Lord would do in my life. My life was a train wreck. I was 25 years old, with two small children and separated from my husband. What I experienced there was genuine worship. I saw in others something I wanted - which was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He planted me in fertile soil, and now He is uprooting me. I pray I will be able to continue to grow elsewhere!

Last night when Porky prayed over me and thanked the Lord for my "faithfulness" it was almost too much to bear. I am only able to be minimally faithful because of His extraordinary faithfulness to me. Thank YOU Jesus!

09 August 2005

A Circle of Friends

I have the best group of girlfriends in the entire world. I have many, many blessings in my life - I was born in a country where I can worship the Lord freely, I have a husband that is faithful and committed to me and our children, I am part of an awesome body of believers in a place where I have grown both personally and spiritually. One of the greatest treasures among these blessings is the friends the Lord has literally poured into my life. They are Christian women, some are mothers, some are homeschoolers, and they come in all shapes and sizes, personalities, and each one of them provides something unique to my life that none other can. (I am going to try and write about them individually in future posts - so keep looking for that!)

Last night, we had a "girls night out". It was pretty nice, after being somewhat cooped up and sick, although I didn't do the late movie - I did go and have dinner and I enjoyed it so much. There were ten of us together. Some there I have known for the entire ten years I have made my home here. One was ten years old when I first met her and has grown into a lovely 20 year old woman that I want to be more like when I "grow up". And there was one I have only met within this past year who is as dear as the rest. The company and conversation were wonderful.

The world I lived in before being a believer, I was surrounded mainly by women who spent their time and money at the mall, or having their hair and nails done. Now anybody who knows me will know how out of place I am in that kind of environment! I HATE the mall. I only go there on an "as needed" basis - meaning there is something there I cannot find anywhere else. Relationships were shallow, and very unsatisfying. But these Christian women have brought something to my life that I am not sure I can live without.

Here is that trust issue coming up again. Do I believe that God will provide something that now seems a necessity in my life? Can I trust that if He is taking me a starting over point, where I will have to make new friends that during that time, that I still have my "best" friend in Him? Will I allow Him to take me through a season of loneliness to teach me something new?

I have noticed recently, even in group settings, I have been feeling lonely. It may sound weird, but even while I am with people, I am starting to miss them. I have been thanking the Lord that He is providing these opportunities to experience the ocean wave of emotion, before the tsunami comes in and wipes my life bare of everything familiar. But I know that even then He will be my stronghold. Currently my favorite song is by a group called Kutless - which is often a little too much for me - but they put out a worship CD - and have a song called "Strong Tower". It plays in my head a lot, and I know the Lord allows that track to remind me that the One who has my life in His hands is able to carry me even through this.

08 August 2005

A True Confession

I have a confession to make: I'm a complainer. Not that I'm necessarily always grumbling to everyone around me - although there are those times too - but inside me, there is this constant struggle against a stream of thought life that would seek to make me a miserable and discontent person. Even in yesterday's post I was saying how I wish God would hurry up, when what I should be wishing for is that He, knowing He knows what is very best for me would keep the perfect timing. I know my murmuring won't move Him, but it is in the inner struggle I disquiet my own spirit.

If I can remember that He knows the issues that press on me - He knows when our mortgage is due, and He knows when the school year starts, and He knows every minute detail of every little thing that this move effects - if I could put complete trust in that I could have so much more peace. Help me Lord. Quiet this streaming feed of complaints that run through my heart and mind. I know it is from the enemy. Forgive my sin of worry Lord.

Here is a quote I read yesterday: We all carry about in our pockets His very nails. -Martin Luther
How true is that???

04 August 2005

Lessons From Ruth

We had a special treat yesterday. We went to see at the Sight and Sound Millennium Theater with a group from our church! It was such an awesome play. If any readers are ever in Lancaster, PA - don't pass up an opportunity to see anything that is put on there. In the first five minutes there was a goodbye scene where Naomi is saying goodbye to her best friend. It really choked me up for obvious reasons.

The story of Ruth's simple faith and obedience to the Lord and faithful commitment to Naomi has a lot of life lessons to be learned. Lord, make me a woman of faith, trusting You regardless of my circumstances to do what's best.
Help me to keep this story close to my heart.

This all makes me remember a lesson the Lord taught me recently. Travis' vehicle died the week of Christmas last year. Since then I have been without one during the workday because being the breadwinner for our family, he obviously needs the vehicle that we do have in order to get to and from work I did try to drive him one day just to see if I could have the car one day a week - and of course we used a ton of gas, AND I spent almost six hours of my day in the car!!! Well, recently a dear friend had her vehicle die. I felt the stress with her remembering how stranded and desperate I felt when I was first in her position. Then a few weeks later, she and her husband bought a new van. She sent out an email with pictures of the new van with a caption under it saying "God is good, all the time!" And it struck me - is God good to me, even when my situation persists? When I get a "no" or "wait" answer, am I just as certain that He knows what is in my best interest? Of course - and as I intellectualize it right now as I am writing, I know that when I am faced with difficult circumstances again, in my human frailty, I may have to be reminded.

The scarlet thread that was woven through the generations to Jesus Christ the Messiah was dependent on the obedience of a Gentile girl, from an idolatrous culture, who chose to honor God above all else. Lord, help me be like her!

03 August 2005

A Child's Prayer

Last night Kullen and I had such a sweet time together. At bedtime we've been reading The Toothpaste Millionaire together. (It's one of those Sonlight books we never got to read!) After his bedtime story, we prayed together, as we do each night. But last night there was something different. His little heart was so tender. First I prayed for his friend Logan who is in the hospital, and as I did, he cried. Then we talked for a little while about a friend who has been diagnosed with MS. Normally he doesn't seem to be paying a lot of attention, but he asked me what MS was, so we discussed that for a while. Then it was his turn to pray. For weeks he has asked God to "Please help us not to move to Texas, but please help us be able to see our grandparents more." Well, last night he amended this line. He thanked God for making him excited about Texas. After he was done praying, he asked me what was the first thing we were going to do when we got to Texas, and I told him we would visit Memaw and Papa of course! I told him he would get to see the house that his daddy grew up in and that Papa built with his own two hands. I am so thankful for the sparkle and the silly snaggle-toothed grin he gave me. Thank you Lord for giving him such a tender heart. May it always be that way!

01 August 2005

Golden Year Tribute

Bill and Myrtice Forsythe

Sainted Parents of Travis Gifford Forsythe!!!

This is quite a major accomplishment to be married in this day and age to the same person for 50 years! But if you knew my mother and father-in-law you would not expect anything else. Bill and Myrtice are both native Texans, and in my perspective two of the most kindhearted people you could ever hope to meet. The first time I met them, Travis took me to their house. Myrtice opened the door, grabbed my arm to pull me in so I could give her a hug, and I promptly stepped on her foot! Seconds later I did the same exact routine with my father-in-law. I am sure they thought me quite refined and delicate!

In June these two special people celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. One of the things I look forward to the very most is being able to celebrate this milestone with them when we get to Texas.

Here is a picture of their 50th anniversary with an inset of their engagement photo.

I am so thankful to have people in my life who have shown me what marriage means - a lifelong commitment. The world around us doesn't have many examples of this. (applause, whistles, cheers!!)

When I was younger, even before I was a member of their family they always treated me like one. I did not grow up in the easy, laid back way that is so natural to them. (I am still hoping it might rub off!) But they always put up with me when they visited. I can't speak for them, but over the years, they've grown into their very own place in my heart, and I love them. The last time they came to see us, I knew this was true, because as they pulled out of our driveway in their RV, I could not hold back the tears.

God bless you Bill and Myrtice on your golden anniversary!

House For Sale

House For Sale

Harpers Ferry
3 br, 2 ba walk-out basement, vinyl siding
rancher - great location and quiet neighborhood in beautiful mountain setting

This is how an ad for our house might read. There are so many other things it could say, if there were enough lines to tell the story. It could say that we prayed for our own home for ten years before we were blessed to be able to buy this one. At one point in the financing when our loan wasn't looking like it was going to go through, Porky (our pastor) met us, and we sat on the front steps and prayed that the Lord would provide.

I remember the day that we moved in, I have a lap quilt that is very special to me. As the furniture was still being moved in, I hung it on the wall - because it symbolized to me that this was our "home".

Before our financing could go through, there were several things we had to do. We built a railing to go on the back door. Having never built a railing before,I went to the lumber store and asked a hundred questions. I know they were glad when I left. That night, Travis and I put it together.

The day after we moved in, while I was busy unpacking, my girls tied a rope across two trees outside, and made a little tent like structure, spread a blanket on the ground, and had a picnic. The played out there for hours. It was such a joy to watch them enjoying their own yard.

My parents divorced when I was nine, and although there was always a place to call "home", my heart never truly rested anywhere again, until we bought this house. I had been "home"less - so to speak - for about twenty years. I think all of that may make it a bit harder for me to let go. But I know God is teaching me things I cannot know without this journey. I will stay thankful for that, and remember that the memories of my family in this house that became our home will stay forever!