Saturday, June 27, 2015

God is the Color of Water

Almost two weeks an event happened in America that has affected, in a small way, our lives here on the Ponderosa. So much has happened in the world around us. I have waited to write about it until I felt timing was right.

I never imagined I would be having a discussion with my children about malicious hatred and a killing because of skin color in 2015. But Charleston occurred and now it is something I have to discuss. As the girls and I sat in a doctor's waiting room with the television tuned into Fox News on that frightful day, I sat with awe at what had transpired in South Carolina. I tossed around the thought in my mind to ask to change the channel, but I knew this was something I needed to be open with my children about.

They looked at the TV wide-eyed and then looked at me.

At that moment, I tried to feel what my girls were probably wondering. They didn't talk much but I thought for sure that this was a time that fear could grip them. I wanted to dispel all fears. I wanted them to know that not all white people believe what that one boy did/does. I wanted to point them to the Savior who died for ALL people who would place their complete trust in Him. I wanted them to feel love and compassion even for this individual who did this horrific thing. He needs Jesus too.

But I also wanted them to see the sin that so easily besets all of us. Sin of thinking we are better than someone else who lives differently than we do. Or is poor. Or is living a lifestyle contrary to God's Word. Or you name it. Pride is such a slippery slope.

My children are growing up in such a difficult time. Evil is called good. Good is called evil. We must look to the standard of Christ and His Word. We must a Gospel-Centered vision. Whatever comes our way, or people come into our paths we must see it as an opportunity to proclaim truth through Jesus Christ.

As I pondered the event from two weeks ago, I reminded myself of these things. I love my children so hard. They are born of my heart.  I love their different shades. We are a family. A family put together by a God who sees no color. I am thankful that we can shine His light.

Yes, I struggled with a vengeful heart, wanting that boy to hurt just like those families do, but, quickly, realized my heart of unforgiveness was just as sinful. I want more than anything to have a world that is full of love and peace. But, am fully aware that this will never happen until Jesus comes back. So until then, we have a mandate to share to the lost world about the Prince of Peace and the God of Love who loved so hard He gave His only Son to die for those who would repent and believe.

And so many still reject!

Let's be about our mission!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and the Grace of God

All too familiar is the scenario of getting "hooked" into a reality T.V. show. And once you get there it is difficult to see those characters through the lens of true reality.

So reading Jep and Jessica Robertson's new book, The Good, the Bad, and the Grace of God, sets your sights on who the Robertsons really are. They truly seem like the real deal. They reveal their struggles, faith-lapses, and renewal of love. No marriage is perfect, and it is always encouraging to read the lives of true to life individuals who are honest about their lives, everything about their lives. It is a testimony to the grace of God.

I have watched their show a few times and always walk away with the importance of family, faith and humor. This is evident in their book as well. Family and the training Jep received as a youngster and teen comes back to life in his own life a few years later. God is the God who redeems and restores and renews.

Thank you, Jep and Jessica, for being transparent and honest and truly seeing the reality of your lives.

Note: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Booklook Bloggers Network.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Kindness Looks Like.....

A life noted by kindness. That's what a woman in the book of Acts is known for.

There was a believer in Joppa named Tabitha (which in Greek is Dorcas ). She was always doing kind things for others and helping the poor.  (Acts 9:36 NLT)

Kindness can look different in many ways, but one common theme would be sacrificing your own interests for others. Way too often I am thinking of myself: how I feel, my burdens, etc. But Galatians 5 reminds us this should be exemplary in every believer's life.

And our families are the ones who get the short end of the stick so often. I mean, isn't it easier to offer kindness in words or deeds to those who will praise you or reward you somehow? I know I tend to be much more short and snappy in my speech in my home out of impatience (oh, dear, another fruit of the Spirit) and wrong motives. After all, who wants to pick up those dirty socks after the 11millionth time! And yet, the kindness of God is what leads us to repentance. 

So today (and hopefully, every day) I am focusing on my actions and speech. This will not be easy! (I was just interrupted by a little sweetie who wanted to show me her science kit, yet has not done anything she was supposed to yet. These are the hard moments of keeping a sweet attitude and bring firm...oh boy!)

For others in my home it may look different! It may be a simple action that was not asked for. A going-out-of-my-way task to show them love. (They could care less about words right now.)

At other times it may mean overcoming evil with good. Blessing my "enemy"; not cursing! 

And this is all done through the help of the Holy Spirit.

Not alone! For I am not capable of such a thing. 

Revive our hearts (Nancy Leigh DeMoss) has put out a 30 Day Challenge called the Power of Words. It is a little booklet that can be an aid to challenge you to really think through those tiny things that come out of your mouth. 

I am taking the challenge!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Review - The Tank Man's Son

A story like no other.

Mark Bouman, author of The Tank Man's Son, endured more than most as a child of a dysfunctional father. He grew up in terror and fear, never knowing if and when the fury of his father would be unleashed! The heartache and physical pain he endured was difficult to read about, but so worth it in light of the end of the story. Tears flowed as I read about the redemption of Mark's soul, but even more tears flowed when I read how God used all the evil done against him to prepare him for the work the Lord had for him to do. Having access to great biographies like this, remind me (again) that the story is not over until death. God is still writing!

This true to life story is one of courage, faith, redemption and an amazing, accurate vision of the sovereignty of God. It is a modern day story of Joseph.

Truly, what man meant for evil, God meant for good.

An amazing story of love and forgiveness!

A must read!

Note: As part of the Tyndale Bloggers Network, I received a free copy of this book.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Fun For My Girl

What a totally fun way to bring about the truths of God's love for little girls! I don't know any little girl that doesn't love stickers. The authors of this cute little book have a unique way to unpack God's love, grace and purpose for our girls in a story that is sure to become a favorite. In this age of outer beauty constantly being questioned by the world's standards, it is refreshing to have a resource that encourages our girls to listen to what God thinks of them and care more about His opinion.

With summer approaching and hours of driving in the car most likely happening for one vacation or another, this is a great asset to the box of "to-do" things to wile away the time. I look forward to using the rest in the series.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Heartache of Disappointments

Sometimes life just happens.

That's what the world believes, but not this lady. (Although, sometimes I feel it and have to speak truth to myself.)

I found myself telling my littlest (again) about God's best plan for us (His sovereignty) when some plans got cancelled and the disappointment kicked in. (Along with her legs and voice!!) As I spoke to her yesterday about her response, I was totally convicted about the way I handled my weekend and my own disappointments. (Boy, was I kicking and screaming inside!!)

We have plans. God does too. We have dreams and desires and God knows those too. 

I found myself wanting things differently than what they were. I couldn't get my head out of the, "Why can't this be me?" So instead of a temper tantrum, I cried. I thought things. I found myself idolizing an idea and an image. This brought despair instead of joy. 

Sunday morning I woke. The song on my lips and running through my head were not what I was feeling, but was truth. My sister in law had sung this for her son who graduated. It spoke to me right where I was, too. 



Of course, it was my turn to be part of the praise team that morning, something that was far from my desires. I wanted to crawl back under the covers and wallow in self-pity. I decided to fight. I jumped in the shower hoping to awaken more than just my eyes and Matt Redman's song, Never Once, came on the radio. 

I cried as I heard the words that spoke to my soul.

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far weve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You've done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Yes, our hearts can say

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful


I knew I needed to fight through this. I was not alone. God knew my every thought. I settled into the drive to church and it seemed every single song was put there just for me. Every. Single. One. But especially this one.




The message from our Pastor was entitled, "Praying When God Seems Silent - Psalm 13

BAM!!!!

I was reminded of the honesty of King David, the psalmist. He questioned God about His seeming distance. He felt forgotten. He felt cursed. He wondered how long would he feel despair. He wrote this psalm out of desperation. He then, asked God to ponder his problems. He begged Him to answer. He asked for a clear vision from the Lord of the correct perspective. He told the Lord his fears. He reminded Him of what was at stake, namely His glory. (At this point, I was wondering if our Pastor had read my mind all weekend.)

Many of the things stated by the Psalmist were his feelings of the dire circumstances he found himself in, yet he was willing to pen them as part of the journey. I thank God we have this example to help us know how to pray when we are in the pits of despondency.

The key to this passage, though, is how it ended. David did not stay in this thought process. He then expressed his confidence in God. He determined to rely on His mercy. He rejoiced in the future deliverance His faithful God would give. (The last three paragraphs were points on the message.)

And just as I was ministered to by music earlier in the day, David sang to his creator. He belt out thanksgiving and anticipated the blessings of God. 

So, there, you have it. Be honest with the Lord. Cry hard to Him, but come back to acknowledge His supremacy and omnipotence of what is best for you. He is a good God and He deserves our full trust.

I'm back in the land of the living today and feeling thankful. My circumstances haven't changed, but my focus has.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Case For Grace - For Kids

Grace. It's a hard concept for children to get. Dang! Isn't it even difficult for us adults as well?

 But thankfully we have people like Lee Strobel, who can capture this marvelous thing and bring it to a place they can relate. Through lives of other children he shares stories of God's amazing grace. In his latest book, Case For Grace For Kids, Mr. Strobel introduces young ones to the concept of God's grace at Christ' expense. He explains how the very God, Creator of the Universe, humbled Himself, and in turn, showed us sinners favor. 

Whether your child is small or preteen or even teen, they will be able to relate to the instruction of Mr. Strobel, as he shares the life-changing truth of the Gospel. We are all born sinners and as children grow they especially can struggle with selfishness, autonomy, and pride. Grace dispels all of that. I am thankful there are resources like this to minister to my children.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Those Very Special Women in My Life

Mother's Day is a day that has many mixed emotions. Years ago, I protested this day since my womb was barren and my arms were empty. Now, I usually have a few tears for missing my mom. And a few tears for those dreaded expectations that I seem to have a hard time working through. So this year, I wanted to focus on some pretty special ladies in my life who help me to see past the end of my nose; who are honest and are being used to help me to grow more like Christ.

1. My beautiful older sister, Jenny, you are the epitome of beauty. There are so many wonderful memories of growing up together. I still have the note you sent to me, letting me know all the women in the family were going to be fasting and praying one day a week for me to conceive after I got married. I still cry when I read it. I have seen you grow so much in the Lord. We have memorized James and now we are on to the finishing up of Philippians. Chapter three just about did us both in. HAHA! We have plodded through the ups and downs of life. You have been such a beautiful example of a Godly wife and mother to your three beautiful boys. Happy Mother's Day to my amazing sister and friend.

2. My wonderful, amazing, crazy youngest sister, Melissa. You are a woman of fortitude and determination. God has done incredible things in your life. You have taught me more than you know, and I am so thankful as I see God work in you as He grows you more and more to be like Him. You are honest and thoughtful! (I look at my flower garden chair every day and thank the Lord for you.) You are such a giving person, never expecting anything in return. Thank you for loving me too. By the way, I love laughing with you! We, sure are crazy together!

3. Amber, my sister-in-law, is as close to a sister that you can get. I think back over the years of knowing you and marvel at the growth in your life. You are woman of prayer and such an encourager. You have sent me countless notes reminding me of God's faithfulness and surrounding me with prayers. Thank you for being part of our family.

4. Chrissie, Wow! I can't believe how long we've known each other. We each had about half of our families back then and it has been a joy to love you and mother right along with you. Even though we see less of each other, you will forever be an integral part of my life. I have cried with you. I have laughed with you. You have housed our family and children at times we needed an extra roof. You have been profoundly generous with your time and use our time to speak truth into each other lives. Thank you dear friend.

5. Rachel.  ..... Prayer. That's the mark of our friendship and for this I am grateful. I love our early Friday mornings together lifting up our families before the Lord. We have seen answered prayer and it is so faith-building. You have such a giving spirit. Thank you for teaching me crochet and all those hours of sipping dunkin, baring our souls, making those squares, amidst the cries of, "Mommy....." Although you have moved our of state, you are forever in my heart.

6. Myra, I am honored to be your friend. You inspire me to love Jesus more. You know just when to give me a word of exhortation, and do it with love. You exude Jesus. You sacrifice each day in the service to your family and to our local body. Without ever complaining. Thank you for your example.

7. Mary Ann Puebla. As a mother-in-law, you are one of a kind. I have come to know your heart. One that truly loves your family. One who, although at times, doesn't know how to say it, perseveres and says it: "Love ya." You have given me a husband, your son, who cherishes me and loves me. Your son is all I have ever wanted in a husband. Thank you for including me into the family 20 years ago. And for loving me in those special ways.

8. And lastly, Heather. God blessed me just a few months ago with your friendship. You have taught me so much in a short amount of time about patience and fortitude. God sent you at such an important time in my life. There are so many things that He knew I needed help muddling through and knew you would have first hand experience with. Thank you for giving into my life and those of my girls. Thank you for being a true woman of faith. One who shares Jesus and lives what she shares.

God has blessed me with many others as well, but wanted to just shout out a special thanks to these gals. Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Approval

Speaking up against the culture is always a very difficult thing. Being the minority can put one in a very difficult position. 

In John 12, we read about Mary anointing Jesus' feet with the costly perfume. On the very next day, the crowds worshipped Jesus as they waved palm branches and proclaimed him as their king. He then, teaches a discourse concerning the cost of following Him and in hidden pictures spoke of His death and victory over death. After this John says this: verses 42-43; "Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; FOR THEY LOVED THE APPROVAL OF MEN RATHER THAN THE APPROVAL OF GOD.

This is a powerful statement! So often we have a choice to speak up about Christ; to give the Gospel; to pray with someone who is hurting, but we fear man and what they will think or say.

This we must fight against! We must have courage.

I think about all those who are being persecuted around the world. This persecution will hit America sooner than we think. Are we ready, fellow Christian, to speak boldly for His name? We must be bold! We must not love the approval of men over the approval of God! 

Our focus must not be on the temporal of here and now, but on the eternal. There is life after this life. What people say and do in this life is nothing compared to eternity. 

Confess Him today!


Monday, April 27, 2015

Hard Life Lessons on Sin, Death and Grace Gifts

This last week was a tough one for my littlest. My nature lover. The friend of all animals. It was sanctifying for me too.

It started out as a regular ole' school week. Math lessons streeeeetttcccched out for longer than necessary. Sassy talk. Discipline. Hugs. Laughter.

Until Mr. Cartwright called home. He found a possum. A baby possum. He had thought of our little one who loves to nurture on lost and needy animals. I asked him, "Please not this time....I don't think I can do a possum." Well, little Inger overheard the conversation and asked permission to call her daddy about this issue. He was long gone from the sight he had found it, but PROMISED that the next time he found one, he would bring it home. Now mind you, HE HAD NEVER FOUND A POSSUM. EVER.

The very next day he came across another little guy. And he kept his promise. So Prince came into our lives. I NEVER would have EVER said I would have a possum in my home, yet I knew this would be an important experience in my little one's life. We read and learned tons about possums. Did you know they do not suck like other baby animals? They are marsupials who are in the momma's pouch for 90 days. We think our little guy was about 5 months old. He still needed milk although he lapped from a water bowl. So we gave him a bottle that he chewed on and we'd squeeze a few extra drops into his mouth.

I caved after the first night of him sleeping in a box in the garage. Inger begged for him to be in the zippered cat carrier on her bed at night. This worked well. She was such a good momma! She carried him in her apron or robe pocket. She played with him as he seemed to be getting stronger and stronger. She would walk around with him on her shoulder and he'd just sit there looking around.

In the evening of the sixth night we'd had him, he stopped eating and grew weaker and weaker! We tucked him in for the night, but I knew he wasn't going to make it. Little Prince died that night.

The next morning, my hubby and I were up early talking and getting ready to read Scripture, when a little person came out of her room wondering what happened. She snuggled up on me as I told her Prince had died. She started sobbing! Crying harder than ever!

I took her onto my bed and let her cry, talking to her about how God loves his creation. How He cares for the birds of the air and gives all those flowers she loves so much their beautiful clothes. I reminded her that Jesus knew little Prince was sick and allowed her to be part of his life. I, then, turned to the subject at hand. This subject being a little harder to discuss with her as she struggles through her own life, blinded to her sin as of yet. Not thinking she needs a Savior up to this point. But, this mommy's heart, knowing this was another opportunity to help her see the effects of sin on the world. Sin that separates us from a holy God. Sin that demands judgment. The Gospel became central again. I prayed that it hit close to home for my little lamb.

I turned to my own thoughts. I realized it just happened to be the anniversary of my dear mother's home going 5 years prior. I allowed myself to shed tears that were bottled up for the day. I tend to "keep busy" so that I don't have to face my own sadness at times, but my Heavenly Father knew I needed to grieve as well. This was a grace gift to start my day.

I laid there as we cried together. Both hurting. One of us knowing grace; the other needing it.