Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Very Sivils' CHRISTmas

The CHRISTmas season is always eagerly and joyfully anticipated around here. We put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving and camp under the tree that night. Then we enjoy nightly story time around the tree complete with hot chocolate or apple cidar. We anxiously wait for our light rides and many other traditions that we carry on year to year.


This year CHRISTmas was a JOY-filled celebration from the minute the first decoration went up, and it hasn't stopped yet.




I was rather disappointed that our CHRISTmas would be somewhat smaller this year than what we've done in the past for our children. My van was hit by an uninsured motorist in November at the same time that our Golden Retriever, Scarlet was diagnosed and treated for heartworms. A combination of vet visits and the deductible to have the van repaired greatly reduced our CHRISTmas budget. The kids said many times over that they were okay with less presents this year, but I couldn't come to terms with it.




Then the Friday before CHRISTmas, I woke up with a different perspective. I might not be able to give the kids the material things that I'd like to, but I could give them something so much more important that would last a lifetime. I made it my mission for the seven days that followed to make memories with my kids. We built a gingerbread house, baked cookies, made candy, rode around and looked at lights, and our favorite tradition - carolled to friends and neighbors.





CHRISTmas morning we woke up early to see what Santa had brought. I was thrilled that even though the presents under the tree were fewer than years passed, the kids still felt like they had a huge CHRISTmas.





We truly learned this year that the best CHRISTmas gift is CHRIST who is Emmanuel, GOD WITH US and also the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. We have enjoyed each other and this entire season so much. We are so immensely blessed.  God has given us so much.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas


Agape Pet Therapy wishes you, your family, and your fur friends a very Merry CHRISTmas. We pray your Christmas is filled with joy, laughter, and love as we celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Service Dog in Training

Agape Pet Therapy has teamed with Brookhaven Animal Rescue League in the training of a service dog for a young, disabled woman. We met this past week to select a potential dog from the shelter. While APT has trained dogs in the past, we have not been involved in the training of a service dog prior to this. We are very excited to work with Paris and Clover.

We hope to train Clover not only to be a friend and companion, but also to retrieve items for Paris that are dropped or needed. We'll update as training progresses!

Please keep APT lifted up in prayer as we follow where God leads.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Losing is Part of Loving


This month welcomes in the fifth year that we have been visiting residents at Brook Manor Golden Living facility. It has always blessed me that every resident has been touched by our ministry in one way or another. Most everyone loves the visit from the kids and the dogs, and the ones who are not "dog lovers" still enjoy the kids.

We've formed friendships with several of the residents over the years. We have come to look forward to seeing them as much as they look forward to seeing us. A few have blessed my heart. Two in particular that I want to tell you about...

(Names changed to protect identity.)

Mrs. Smith was one of the first people we really formed a close friendship with. She had raised Border Collies in her younger years. She loved the DOGS and KIDS, and always welcomed them into her room with treats and candy. She also reminded me of my grandmother... both in her mannerisms and appearance. I enjoyed visiting her as it made me feel closer to my grandmother who lives 300 miles away and I rarely get to see these days.

Another resident who always made me smile was Mrs. Dillon. Mrs. Dillon had been a school teacher and raised poodles for many years. She was delighted when the children and dogs would pop into her room. Though she was unable to see or to speak, her mind was clear and her smile was bright. Sometimes even when she couldn't mutter a word to us, she'd force herself to be able to speak to the dogs. They were close to her heart.

People like these are a huge reason why we have continued in this ministry and are now becoming more active in it. They aren't the only reason though....

At the beginning of the year we met a young cancer patient. This precious, four year old girl stole my heart. We didn't meet her in a hospital, but in Wal-Mart. She was getting a new puppy and was picking the perfect pink collar for it when we started a conversation with her mother. In the months that followed this beautiful, little girl was in and out of the hospital. During that time the desire to take our dogs into hospitals became stronger. It had long been our goal, but now we had a reason.

In September our first dog became TDI certified. While Scarlet had visited nursing homes her whole life, she was now capable of doing so much more. Unfortunately our young friend passed away before Scarlet was able to visit her in the hospital.

Within the past two weeks, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Dillon have also passed away. These three people were very special to us. Each of them have helped bring us to where we are today. We loved them and have grieved them. It is my hope and desire that through our ministry, they would be honored. They will always be remembered in our hearts for all they taught us and for all they shared with us.

We have often told our children that losing is part of living and that it is part of loving too. But the loving is what makes it all worth while.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is a Therapy Dog?

From Wikipedia:


A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, with people with learning difficulties and stressful situations such as disaster areas.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, at ease in all situations, and gentle. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.

A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto, an invalid's lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. Many dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audiences or by playing carefully structured games.


To learn more, visit Therapy Dog International .

Monday, October 26, 2009

What are you advertising?


Several weeks ago while shopping in Wal-Mart, I asked my eight year old son to grab a box of Kleenex and put in the shopping cart. He was quick to inform me, "But Puff's has lotion. It's better for your nose." Having been brainwashed to believe that "a nose in need deserves Puff's indeed", Jaden was convinced that it was the only choice for our family.

Companies carefully select and pay high dollar to marketing firms to make you believe that their product is the best of its kind. Can you look at a package of Skittles without thinking "taste the rainbow" or Burger King's "have it your way"? Effective advertising mixed with clever phrases and tunes equal big profits for products that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Whether we are aware of it or not, every minute of every day we are marketing ourselves. People are watching and our attitudes and actions advertise our hearts and lives from the inside out.

A while back someone told me that they had passed by my house and seen me outside playing with the kids and dogs. I had to think back to the day, and I asked them, "Did you pass by while we were happily playing or when I was busy scolding?" Another time my mom commented to me that a friend of hers had seen our family in town and was impressed by our well mannered, happy children. I laughed and said, "She should have seen us ten minutes later. Her story might have been different."

A friend recently bragged on my children. "They are 'kind'," she noted. I've thought about that comment many times since and have come to believe that of all of the adjectives that could be used to describe my children, "kind" would be at the top of the list of what I'd want them to be. My kids are not perfect... far from it, but they are kind. (Ok, so not always to one another, but usually to everyone else!) They show the fruits of the Spirit through their lives. Proverbs 20:11 says, "Even a child is known by his actions, by whether his conduct is pure and right." It is how they have "marketed" themselves and what other people see. Kindness is just one of the trademarks by which they will be remembered.

Taking a personal inventory of my own life, I wonder how I have advertised myself. Do people think of me as warm and friendly or cold and harsh? Do they see someone who loves God with her whole heart or just another lukewarm Christian? Matthew 12:34 says, "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." The words we speak are a reflection of our thoughts and our thoughts determine who we are and what we do. The things that we say and do are the key selling points in our lives. If our actions do not back up our words then we are guilty of "false advertising".

So how about you? How do you market yourself? How are you perceived by others? Pay attention to the words that are coming out of your mouth. Do your actions match them? Are you giving people a wrong impression of who you really are or are you selling yourself short?


For fun I turned some popular slogan's and taglines around a bit. Here's what I came up with:

"Are you in God's hands?" (Allstate)

"Ready to 'fly His friendly skies' to the 'happiest place on earth'? (American Airlines meets Disney World)

"Reach out and touch someone for Jesus - just do it". (AT&T and Nike)

God - He brings good things to life. (GE)

Accept Christ - It does a body good. (Milk Counsel)

Hell - The ultimate snap, crackle, pop. (Rice Crispies)

Jesus - "He loves to see you smile". (McDonald's)

Salvation - "Don't leave earth without it." (American Express)

And last but not least, "A life in need, deserves CHRIST indeed."  - (Puff's)

Monday, September 28, 2009

M.I.A.

Yep, it's been a while since I've blogged, but life has as always been crazy. We're always saying, "when things get back to normal...", but for our family, the unexpected does seem to be normal.
Our wonderful caboose, Connor, turned three a couple of weeks ago. He had a "Wonder Pets/Go Diego Go" party. It was a lot of fun watching him as the big day got closer. He'd announce each morning, "Tomorrow my birthday??" When it finally arrived he was one happy fellow. He tickeled us as he opened gifts. He showed little emotion as he opened each item and was ready to get on to the next one. He did really love his new Wonder Pet toys and his Mickey Raceway set. It was a special day, and I can say I have survived the terrible two's for the last time!!!  Thank you, Jesus!





The Monday after Connor's birthday (which also happened to be the day before Dacey's birthday), I slipped in water while visiting my mom at her office. A trip to the ER provided me with crutches and instructions to see a specialist the next day. So for Dacey's 11th birthday we went to the Ortho to determine that I had broken the "accessory" bone in my ankle as well as sprained/strained it. After the appointment Nana treated Dacey and me to a wonderful meal at Cracker Barrel to celebrate Dacey's big day. Once we were home Aunt Sidney brought Dacey a wonderfully, delicious chocolate cake and she opened a few presents... most of which were dance related as....





Two days later - at age eleven - Dacey had her very first dance class! About six weeks ago Sidney and I were able to take Dacey and her friend, Emily, along with our precious Anna, to see Ballet Magnificat's production of "The Hiding Place." It was such a beautiful and awesome performance. The Spirit really moved as these lovely young ladies danced their hearts out before the Lord. We left with Dacey saying, "I've got to do that!" I had tried in recent years to get Dacey into a dance class, but most would not accept her because of her age. So when we found out that Emily was about to begin and there was "one more opening" in her class, we prayed asking God to open the door. He did, and now we have one very excited dancer in our home. Dacey has been to three practices so far and the teacher is very happy with her progress. We are thrilled to be part of this dance school as it is a Christian themed studio. On the front of the building is a sign that reads: "God danced the day you were born." Mrs. Nena says she teaches character first and dance second and that Jesus is the unseen choreographer of all of the dances they perform. I am so excited about this opportunity for Dacey.










The following evening we threw a Luau in celebration of Dacey's birthday. It was a wonderful time as Dacey was surrounded by all but one of her closest friends. (We missed you, Hannah!) She told me later that having most of her friends together was the best part. The kids had a blast doing the limbo and just all out partying. Dacey is so blessed to have a wonderful group of Christian girls to call her friends. They are all so fun to be around, and I enjoy their company as much as Dacey does.





It's always a difficult thing for me when my oldest and youngest have birthday's a week apart from each other. Reminds me of how quickly childhood passes. Reminds me of memories made and opportunities missed. Each of Connor's firsts is my last and each of Dacey's firsts is a new milestone in her life. It's bittersweet, and it is blessed. I'm excited as we enter new phases in our journey and I hope that I stop long enough to make the most of each moment. Dacey drew a picture one day last week and left on my nightstand for me. It was a picture of two stick people under the stars standing next to the trampoline. It made my heart smile. While it isn't something we do often, we do enjoy from time to time going out and laying on the trampoline to watch stars together. Apparently this is one of Dacey's favorite things. It's one of mine too and something I need to do more often. It doesn't take a lot of money, doesn't take a lot of time, it is just the point of being together.

Ok, enough rambling... my ankle is still in a boot. I go back next week to see what to do from here. Yep, and that appointment is just two days before Isaac's 7th birthday. Here we go again...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE

School is back under way and has started off with a bang.
The kids are especially excited about the nature study that we are doing this year. Their enthusiasm is contagious. We have already made it a point to be outdoors more and to really "study" God's creation. Romans 1:20 says that God reveals Himself to man through His creation. As we learn about nature, we are also learning about our Father.


Our first week back to school we enjoyed a nature walk at our local lake. The kids had a great time exploring. Isaac even caught a dragonfly. We were able to put it in our bug catcher and examine in through the magnifying glass door. We all agreed it was cool. Later in the week we were able to observe a katydid in the bug catcher too.


The six of us had the best time laying on our trampoline watching the meteor shower last week. It was a grand and awesome display of God's "fireworks in the sky". We talked about in scripture where it says He numbered the stars and knows them by name. Our God is an awesome God!!!
This past weekend we met our dear Cajun friends over in Natchez. We enjoyed lunch at Mammy's Cupboard, drove around a wildlife nature reserve for a bit, and then toured one of the antebellum homes. We had a blast. The boys even saw an alligator at the reserve. The girls were in a separate car, and we missed it! We did see a swarm of dragonflies though. "Yay, us," (said with great sarcasm). We still enjoyed the ride though.


On Tuesday we went with the Youngblood's to visit Grand Gulf Military Park and the Windsor Ruins. Both places were great to see. We climbed up the 75 ft. observation tower and were able to view the Mississippi River from there. The kids had a good time running through the park going through a church, rifle pits, seeing a water wheel, picnicking on the grounds, looking through the cemetery where some of the headstones were dated from the early 1800's. We also took a few minutes to let them run around the banks of the Mississippi before we loaded up to head to Windsor. The Windsor Ruins were interesting. It was a grand house in its glory days. It survived the Civil War only to be burned down when a house guest dropped their cigarette on the 3rd floor. The house burned from top to bottom and could not be saved. Only the columns and some of the iron work remain today.  And to add to our nature study, we got to see a preying mantis while visiting the ruins.



The first three weeks of our school year has found us very busy, but learning lots. I am so blessed that God called me to this journey. It is a wonderful experience to watch my children learn and to learn along with them. It isn't always easy. There are many days I wonder why anyone would be crazy enough to attempt this, but the rewards are so much greater than the sacrifices. I am loving watching these guys become who God created them to be, and I am thanking Him for allowing me to be a part of that journey.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

THE GAME OF LIFE

One night this week while sitting around the dining table playing the LIFE board game with my husband and children, my daughter commented, "Every time I get ahead, something else comes along and takes all my money." I laughed. "Yes, dear. That's life."

Or so it has seemed with our life as of late. Two weeks ago one of our commodes became unflushable. Once our two year olds toothbrush was retrieved from the pipes by my husband and his trusty plumbing snake, the commode again began working properly. However, just a few days later our dryer stopped working. For a family that normally washes ten to fifteen loads of laundry a week, a dryer tends to be more of a necessity than a luxury. This I have learned as for the past week I have been hanging clothes out to dry like they did back in the old days. It is a much slower process and not nearly as many clothes are able to be cleaned, dried, and put away in a day's time.

On Friday the kids and I were on our way home when all at once I smelled an overwhelming stench. Dacey was riding in the passenger seat of the van and shouted, "SMOKE!" I looked over to her to see black clouds and sparks coming from underneath the dashboard. Praise God that the old country road we were driving on had a shoulder and we were quickly able to pull over. I told the three older kids to get out and run as I very quickly unbuckled our two year old from his car seat and ran to safety with him. Hubby (who was a mechanic in his younger years) praised my efforts. "If you'd driven any further," he stated, "the whole van could have gone up in flames." Praise God there was not much damage to the van. Some wires had shorted out, and my husband will be able to repair it with little expense.

Later that same day the kids and I were hanging clothes out to dry when I noticed our cat toying with something in the grass. Since she'd killed a snake and left as a gift for us earlier this summer, I stooped down to see what had caught her attention this time. Yep, it was another snake. This time it was not a harmless grass snake. It was a rattlesnake. Tommy dutifully and quickly attended to it, and the kids and I were again safe.

When trials of life seem to overwhelm us, we can sit, sulk and cry, "Poor, pitiful me," or we can stand resolved, trusting God knowing our place as victors, as overcomers, and as more than conquerors. We can feel discouraged and defeated, or we can trust God as Job did when he said, "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."

Jesus told us that He came "so that we may have life abundant." It is hard some days to feel like we are living an overcoming, abundant life when we become so bogged down in the things of this world. Our gift isn't an easy life. Jesus' gift to us is eternal life. He warned us that "in this world we would face troubles", but also assured us "to take heart because He has overcome the world."

I praise God for the life He has given me. It is a grand and exciting adventure... filled with happiness, joy, and love but also with its fair share of drama and chaos along the way. That's how it is in this game called life.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Almost Back to School Time Blues

As time for our next school year quickly approaches, I have found myself feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the task ahead.

Dacey will be starting 6th grade this year. As she pointed out to me the other day, "Just three years and I'll be a Freshman, Mom!" She announced this with much more enthusiasm than I appreciated.

Perhaps it was that single declaration that has me feeling so much more stressed this year than what I typically experience. Or maybe it because in addition to teaching Dacey 6th grade and Jaden and Isaac 1st and 3rd grades, I will also be attempting to begin 3 year old Kindergarten with Connor... not so much as to teach him, but more to keep him occupied while I am busy with the other three.  (Though I am sure it will indeed be a learning experience for us all!)

Yet while beginning to organize things for our school year I am feeling anxious. There are computers to be reformatted and loaded with new programs. There are lesson plans to pull together for four different grades. There is factoring in the unexpected that tends to always interrupt a perfectly good homeschooling day.

As I think of what lies ahead, I am reminded that I am on this journey because it is what God has chosen for our family. I walk this path out of obedience to Him and because of my love for my children. It isn't always easy, but Praise God, that I do not have to do it on my own. He is there with me.. providing me strength where I am weak...motivation when I lack enthusiasm...confidence when I feel inadequate....He is there with me always.

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.


Matthew 11:29-30 - Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

2 Corinthians 12:9 - But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.


2 Corinthians 9:8 - And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Galatians 6:9 - Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How much must you hate someone?


A while back a youtube video circulated through the online Christian community of famed magician Penn Jillette talking about a touching experience he'd had with a "good" man during one of his shows. Jillette is a known atheist. He seems to be just as devout an atheist as I am a Christian. However, during this show this "good man", as Jillette often referred to him, offered Jillette a Gideon Bible.

Instead of being offended by the gesture, Jillette was touched. Though still passionately denying the existence of God, he said, "If you believe there is a heaven and a hell and that people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward," he continued, "how much must you hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?"

Those words have pierced my heart. How much must I hate someone not to tell them about Jesus and how He has changed my life and what He wants to do in theirs? While I am a believer and I strive to live my life in a way that is pleasing to God, I do not often stop and preach the gospel to the unbelieving while going about my daily duties.

Jesus will return for His bride, and each day we grow closer to that moment. As I told my children just last night, the rapture could take place today or a million years from now. When it happens isn't important. What is important is that we keep our lives in right standing, that we wait and watch for Christ's return, and that we take as many people with us as we can.

We as Christians need to be busy about our master's business. It's not enough living a good life. We need to be actively proclaiming Jesus as Lord everywhere we go. I'm not talking about getting in people faces and screaming, "REPENT, THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND!", but rather as the Holy Spirit nudges to share in love with someone the gospel of Christ. Instead of shying away from what could be a "socially awkward moment," we need to be caring about other people enough to share eternal life with them in a kind and loving way. I would rather spend five minutes of my life on earth feeling rejected for sharing the gospel with a stranger than an eternity knowing I could have been the difference between heaven and hell to just one person but was to embaressed to put forth the effort.

In Acts 5 an angel of the Lord freed Peter and John from jail and spoke to them saying, "Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life." As the chapter continues the men are brought before the Sanhedrin and flogged because of their testimony. Yet the chapter ends saying, "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." Even in the face of persecution and opposition Peter and John were not deterred from doing that to which Christ had called them. Neither should we be.

Father, give me the boldness to proclaim your gospel shamelessly to all people through the power of your Holy Spirit. In Jesus name, amen.
To see the Penn Jillette video in its entirety, click here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Lord's Lullabye

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17


(This verse has been on my heart this morning. I wrote about it a few years back but needed to be reminded of the message. I hope it speaks to your heart as it has mine.)

A few nights ago after having lulled Connor to sleep I was flipping through my Bible when I came across this verse. It has long been a favorite of mine, but I guess because of this season in my life it had new meaning to me.

As I read it I pictured myself a baby in God's arms. He rocked me back and forth gently patting my back to quiet me. As He did this He sang a lullaby to sooth my soul. He says, "Child, you are mine! I have called you by name." (Isaiah 43:1.)

How great is the love of God for us. He is ready every moment of each day to let us climb up on His lap to be comforted by His love. He is truly my Abba Father.


As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you...
Isaiah 66:13

From Mama's Musing archives. Originally published 10-06.

For more Word Filled Wednesday visit The 160 Acre Woods.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day - Celebrating God as Father

Over the past several months God has shown His love as Father to me in a new light.

It has been said that it is common to equate God's love as Father with how we perceived or observed love given by men who have served an important role in our life. While I always knew that He was indeed my heavenly Father, I often looked on God as a disapproving judge rather than the loving, attentive Father that He is. After reading "The Shack" by W.M. Young earlier this year, my life and perspective of who God is and who He wants to be in my life changed drastically.

I began observing my husband with our children more. He is kind, loving, always ready to give them attention, always ready to play or wrestle, always looking for ways to bless them in some small (or sometimes large) way. He works ten hour days with over a half hour drive each way, but still comes home and is interested in what has happened with our children during their day. When our children misbehave, he disciplines them. He is fair and just. He knows it is his responsibility to mold them into the people God created them to be and knows sometimes that can only be done by providing them with boundaries.

Tommy's relationship with our children isn't much different than the relationship God wants to have with me. He controls the entire universe but is never too busy to let me crawl up in His lap and tell him about my day. He continually looks for ways to bless me... sometimes in a big way but usually in a small way. Sometimes I get out of line and He lovingly corrects me - not because He is a harsh disciplinarian, but because He is sovereign, and He wants me to be who He created me to be.

Tommy isn't perfect. He is human. He makes mistakes. But he loves his kids with his whole heart.

God is perfect. He isn't human. He doesn't make mistakes. And he loves his kids with His whole being.

I'm so blessed to have a Godly husband.

I'm so much more blessed to have a loving Father who is indeed fond of even me.

Matthew 7:11 -
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!


John 1:12 - Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—


1 John 4:16 - And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Stuck in a Rut

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10b


It has been a while since I have blogged, and many of you have been wondering where I have been. The answer is: stuck in a rut.

I love my life. I have a wonderful husband, and four amazing children. I am blessed beyond all imagination and yet here I am, stuck in a rut.

Is it any wonder that I have become slightly discouraged as this year has raged on? Besides having been filled with endless doctor's visits due to an insane amount of accidents and injuries, and all of the unexpected things that pop up on a daily basis, my house seems to have taken on a life of its own and is working against me. My best efforts to become more organized and to teach my children some responsibility and discipline has ended in defeat and despair. Is it any wonder that there are days that I cry, "Calgon, take me away!"

It was not until I read my devotion this morning that I realized that I am indeed "stuck in a rut." But Praise God I don't have to stay here. And Praise God that I am already on my way out.


In the words of Patsy Clairmont:

"Life is full of stuck possibilities. In fact, when you think about it, we are kind of stuck here on planet Earth until further notice. If, as my hymnal puts it, "Till the Roll Is Called Up Yonder," it makes me think we better make the best out of stuck lest life turn into one big rut.


I hate ruts. Ruts are common, unimaginative, and oh, so boring. I know because I've spent time in them. Actually, I even took up emotional residence in a couple. To make them comfortable, I even decorated them. I adorned the walls with excuses: "I can't," "I tried," and "I don't wanna." Those are just a few of the plagues, I mean plaques, I hung in my ruts.


Have you ever observed excavators? First thing they do is send out surveyors to assess. This is where the Holy Spirit and several of your wise friends can assist. The Holy Spirit can reveal to you why you are stuck, and He can empower you to change. Your friends can help strengthen your resolve and pray for you in the process.


Now just imagine what might happen if we were to step out of our old routine and deliberately walk in His ways. Why we might even do a little break dancing on our way up and out of that hard place.


C'mon, sister rut-dwellers, boogie out of there. Risk life!


Jesus, you lead; I want to follow. Amen."


I am resolved to risk life and boogie my way on to life abundantly! Thank you, Jesus!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

One of those days...

Today has been one of those days that will either make you lie down and cry or take a step back and smile through it all. While wanting to do the prior there have been thoughts of other folks that have pressed me on to do the latter.

A couple of incidents that have had me on the verge of tears are sure to tickle your funny bone as you envision the scenes in your mind.

The first would be the sight of a full gallon of milk poured into the kitchen floor with kids and dogs slipping and sliding through it. None of the children thought to tell their mother that such a thing had happened. It was only when I found the empty container that was purchased just hours ago that a confession was made.

Or maybe you'd prefer the dog washing incident. I suppose the children thought they were making a grand gesture when they decided not to wash only my dog but their three as well. I did not see all four dogs piled into the bath tub together, but I did see the obvious mess that was bound to follow. Wet towels, drenched floors and carpets, wet furniture, and a big ole pile of dirty clothes that had yet to find their way into the laundry room now await my arrival to give them a whirl through the washer.

I can handle messes. It's a constant around our home filled with four kids and five dogs. It's just the "unplanned" or "extra" messes that catch me off guard and fill my usual joyful heart with anything but...

But then I think of MaryBeth Chapman who today is mourning the one year anniversary of the death of her daughter Maria. I think of the family in the next town over whose four year old is fighting a battle with cancer. I think of a friend who lays in the hospital in critical condition after giving birth earlier this week.

I imagine each of them would love to be sitting where I am right now.... in an aging house that is never temperature controlled, sitting next to a mound of clothes waiting to be put away until next winter, getting ready to get up and go wash the next of at least ten more loads of laundry - all while surrounded by four of the most beautiful, wonderful gifts from God I could have ever imagined.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day



HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, BLOG FRIENDS!

My family has spared no expense to lavish me with love today.  My husband got me a flip video camera that I have been wanting for some time and photoshop elements.. also something I've wanted for quite a while.  My children surprised me with a beautiful set of stained-glass-cross windchimes.  It produces the most beautiful sound!  They have plans to take me to eat later today.  I am so blessed beyond words. 

I guess my favorite "gift" was the precious video greeting they made me with the flip featured above.  It really has made me smile from the inside out.

These guys fill my heart with such joy and happiness.  God has given me so much more than I deserve. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I Would if I Could


For the past several months since my husband's shoulder surgery, he has stayed in a constant state of excruciating pain. It has hurt me to watch him suffer. Last night I told him something I've said to him and our children hundred of times before when they've been sick or hurt, "If I could take your pain, I would." Even though I know it is a physical impossibility, I would if I could.

As I made that statement to my husband the realization burned in my heart that that is just what Jesus did on the cross. He wasn't limited by human restrictions. He was God and He became what we were so that we could be born again. He took our pain, our hurts, our sickness, and our sin. He became those things on the cross. There was no, "I would if I could," but rather an, "I can so I will."

And the greatest act of love was made.

2 Corinthians 5:21 - God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Thank you, Jesus, for loving me that much!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pour My Love on You

I have woke up each morning this week singing this song. Have you heard it? It says,

"Like oil upon your feet
Like wine for you to drink
Life water from my heart
I pour my love on you
If praise is like the perfume
I lavish mine on you
Till every drop is gone
I pour my love on you."

My heart has changed these past few weeks. I am more aware of God's love for me than I have ever been at any other point in my life. For a person who has been a Christian most of their life (except for a couple of years of youth stupidity), I think the feeling I have is what most new Christian's feel when they are born again.

Not only have I become more aware of His love for me, but I am also overwhelmed with this new love I have for HIM. I want to sit at His feet and soak in His presence. I want to bathe in His love. I want to be like Mary and truly "pour my love" on my Lord, my Savior, my King.

I had not intended to write this blog today, but how appropriate is it for this Good Friday? What better evidence of Christ's love for us than the sacrifice He made on the cross? Romans 8:5 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Max Lucado says it much better than I ever could. Here are his thoughts:
The Cross
by Max Lucado



The cross. Can you turn any direction without seeing one? Perched atop a chapel. Carved into a graveyard headstone. Engraved in a ring or suspended on a chain. The cross is the universal symbol of Christianity. An odd choice, don't you think? Strange that a tool of torture would come to embody a movement of hope. The symbols of other faiths are more upbeat: the six-pointed star of David, the crescent moon of Islam, a lotus blossom for Buddhism. Yet a cross for Christianity? An instrument of execution?

Would you wear a tiny electric chair around your neck? Suspend a gold-plated hangman's noose on the wall? Would you print a picture of a firing squad on a business card? Yet we do so with the cross. Many even make the sign of the cross as they pray. Would we make the sign of, say, a guillotine? Instead of the triangular touch on the forehead and shoulders, how about a karate chop on the palm? Doesn't quite have the same feel, does it?

Why is the cross the symbol of our faith? To find the answer look no farther than the cross itself. Its design couldn't be simpler. One beam horizontal--the other vertical. One reaches out--like God's love. The other reaches up--as does God's holiness. One represents the width of his love; the other reflects the height of his holiness. The cross is the intersection. The cross is where God forgave his children without lowering his standards.

How could he do this? In a sentence: God put our sin on his Son and punished it there.

"God put on him the wrong who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God" (2 Cor. 5:21 MSG).


From
His Name is Jesus
© (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009) Max Lucado



Today I am thankful for the cross and the love God showed to each of us there. As we spend time with our families this weekend, may the reason for the weekend not be lost to Easter eggs and bunny rabbits. Christ died for you. There is no greater love!

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Aren't you glad He counted you as friend?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

When I say that there is never a dull moment in our home, it is not an exaggeration. Really. My husband and I would prefer dull to our normal lives. Normal in our world is upside down most of the time.

For the third time in the past six months, we had to rush a child to the ER Thursday night for x-rays. My eight year old son, Jaden, wrecked his bike. While that is definitely not something out of the ordinary, the chain of events that followed were.

The kids ride their bikes on a narrow side walk in front of our house. Jaden was heading one way when he saw his sister coming from the opposite direction at full speed. He swerved to miss her and was thrown over the top of his bike landing with his side in the handle bars. He stood up, walked about three steps, and fell to the ground. His daddy and I rushed to his side and by that point he was rolling in pain. Tommy picked him up to carry him back to the house.

Once in the house Jaden walked into my bedroom and collapsed onto my bed. For the next half hour I asked him, "Do we need to go to the hospital?" "No, ma'am," was the answer each time. But for Jaden to just lay on my bed...STILL...was a big indicator that things weren't quite right. So off to the ER we went.

At the hospital we explained what had happened. As they prepared to x-ray him, the staff joked about how well they had come to know our family from our frequent visits. Yes, these guys tend to be accident prone... guess it runs in the family. The x-rays did not show any breaks or fractures. Doctor said he would be sore for a few days from the bruises on his ribs. He told us to take him home, let him get lots of rest, and to bring him back if we noticed any bleeding or if his stomach became hard. He said that if his stomach appeared hard it could be a sign that there was blood in his stomach.

We came home and went to bed. Tommy got up and left for work early Friday morning. Sometime after he left Jaden crawled into bed with me. A little before 7 o'clock, I woke up to Jaden wincing in pain. He was literally laying in the fetal position, holding his stomach and rolling from side to side. I immediately reached to feel his stomach. It felt like a rock.

We jumped up, got dressed, dropped the other three at my mom's and ran to the hospital in the next town over. It is bigger and better equipped for bigger emergencies. I was so thankful that Tommy was able to get off work and meet us there.

Jaden was such a big guy. They drew blood and put in an IV, and though both were obviously upsetting to him, he handled it so well. Later in the morning Jaden had to have a cat scan to check for internal injuries. I was so glad that the technician assisting us allowed me and Tommy to wear aprons and stay with him. (I hate being on the other side of a door from my husband or children in that kind of situation!!) During the procedure as the bed was moving in and out of the tunnel, Jaden announced, "This is actually kind of fun." Later he told us, "I'm really good at this game."

We went back to his room to await the results of the test. Jaden was watching tv when a commercial came on with Mohammad Ali proclaiming, "I am the greatest!" To which Jaden replied, "Uh, no. God is the greatest."

That is indeed what we were shouting when the doctor returned to inform us that there were no internal injuries. Jaden did have blood in his urine which was most likely due to the impact he took to his stomach indicating a bruised kidney or bruised bladder. However, because he was also running fever, it could not be ruled out that he did not have an infection. We'll have to go back for further testing Monday. But for now we're glad to be home.

It stormed here several nights last week. During one of the worst storms, I brought my two year old and put him in bed beside me to "shelter him" from the storm. As I laid there watching him sleep so sweet and peacefully, I thought, "He is oblivious to the storm that is rolling outside. He knows he is here with his momma and he is safe. So he sleeps through it." I was reminded of the disciples reaction when they faced a storm at sea. They were afraid. Jesus got up and said, "I'm here with you. You're safe!" And He spoke, and the winds and the waves obeyed. "Peace. Be still."

I was so thankful that God had spoken that to my heart earlier in the week. Because while we sat with Jaden waiting in the ER, I knew that HE was there with us to calm the storm. I did not fear. I did not worry. I was calm. I was at peace. For those of you who really know me, you know that is not my typical reaction when one of my babies is hurting. But I knew Jesus was there with us, and it was going to be okay. I knew He would work the situation to our good. Jaden's going to be just fine.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who are these people and why are they calling me MOMMA??

I am so thankful for my CHILDREN! Yes, they have been known to drive me nuts... especially since their father has returned to work or so it seems. But I love each one of them so much more than I could have ever imagined before becoming a mommy.

I love my kiddos for their individuality and uniqueness. I love their quirks and smirks, their humor and wit. I love their passion to follow Christ and to "do the right thing"! I love the relationship that they have with each other (at least most of the time). I love their eagerness to help someone in need.

I am blessed with GREAT children, but sometimes I forget just how great they really are.

I am most likely to forget when I'm fighting them to finish school, do their chores, practice their instruments, clean their bedrooms, stop fighting, stop nagging. I'm likely to forget when Connor is in the throws of a typical two year olds temper tantrum or has thrown something that is not suppose to go into the commode in the commode for the hundredth time in one day.

Even though I do get worn out from the everyday occurrences of things that go along with "kids being kids", I also continually stand in awe of the blessing these little folks are to me.

Here are a few reasons they bless my socks off:

I blogged earlier this week about Dacey reminding me that I am God's and He thinks I'm wonderful. And yesterday she left a note on my computer. It said, "Momma, I know what God wants me to be. He wants me to be a missionary, so that is what I'll do." At ten years old my daughter is passionate about missions!

Another day Jaden walked up and said, "Mom, do you know that love is a powerful word?" He continued, "But Jesus is the most powerful word." I loved hearing that from my son who so loves pretending he is a superhero defeating evil. He knows the source of the ultimate power!!

And then my precious Isaac. Isaac started reading this week and has hit the ground running. He is so excited and motivated. His enthusiasm is contagious. I'm so proud of that boy I could bust. If there is a better feeling for a homeschool mom than to watch your child read for the first time, I don't know it!

And who could forget about Connor? NO ONE! He won't let you. lol If you saw the pictures that I posted yesterday, you realize that he is ALL BOY and THEN SOME! He keeps us hopping to say the least. But he is such a joy. His bedtime routine is too precious. Since I stopped nursing him, his daddy puts him to bed each night. He comes over and kisses me. I say, "Goodnight." He says, "Bye." I grin, "Goodnight, Connor." He shouts, "BYE!" "Bye, Connor." And then he is off to bed. I hope he doesn't outgrow that for a while... it always makes my heart smile. Connor also gives the best hugs and snuggles.

Yep, I'm hopelessly in love with my children. And yes, I am so very thankful that God chose me to be their mom!!

For more THANKFUL THURSDAY visit: Spiritually Unequal Marriage.