Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Unveiled Wife - a book review

When I chose this book to be my next read I had not idea how it would profoundly speak to me. As I write my thoughts today, I intend to be straight-forward, yet tactful.

 Jennifer Smith writes The Unveiled Wife with true courage. She tells her journey through tears and fears, but what I appreciate most of all, is her courage to call sin what it is. There is truth to pain and hurt, but how we respond to those things will dictate whether we truly are living for God's glory or just living through the pain. Mrs. Smith's initial love story of how she met her husband and their love for the Lord was beautiful, but it became ugly pretty quickly. In one or two words, I would say idolatry and expectations were what I sensed right away. Probably because I have struggled with those things myself.

She delves right in to their wedding, honeymoon and thereafter, expressing candidly the struggles they had in their intimacy. Physical and real struggles that seem to have no answer. As she describes these times, I think most women can relate...maybe not to the physical pain but to the wedges, no matter how different they are, that are put up between a man and his wife. Jennifer helps the reader to see that these walls are sin and how coming to the cross and understanding the importance of intimacy with the Savior are linked hand in hand.

Every women should pick up this book and read it. Personally I have read the practical books on the journey for a man and a woman after marriage, but to hear this beautiful story and how God used all of it, even the ugliness for growth and change. To be more like Christ.

That's my review on the book, but I would like to add a bit more personally.

To put it bluntly, men and women are very different in their sex drives.  I feel that women need a firm talking to about loving their husbands in this important way. Saying yes, as much as possible. Now, I understand there are times when it is not possible, or even times when the husband is abusive or there are sin issues that need to be confessed and dealt with. But, I am amazed at how infrequently many Christian women love their husbands in this way. With all of the temptations around our guys in this culture, let's lavish them with our love and bodies. And above all else remember this:

1 Corinthians 7:5 "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."

Saturday, February 21, 2015

RISE!... A Book Review

A few years ago, we were introduced to Christian Rap Music. I would never have admitted I liked that genre of music, but after hearing the words of artists such as Shai Linne, Ambassador, Trip Lee, Tedashi, etc, I was taken. Much of what they write is Theology set to beat.

Recently, Trip Lee has written a book that will revolutionize your spiritual life if you take to heart all he says. Rise is written to speak especially to the younger generation about all they encounter in the culture around them and how to fight for God's glory in their lives. Trip Lee speaks from his heart and this book is written as if he is sitting down on the couch in your living room and giving a pep talk to your family.

From sex to music to social media, Mr. Lee takes on these issues with great tact and exposes the lies that most of our young people face. This spoke to me as well. He doesn't come out and give standards of obedience or a "do not do" list. He speaks from God's Word and truth about time management, priorities and wisdom.

More than anything, He encourages the reader to develop a relationship with his Creator in order to combat the lies of the world, our flesh and Satan.

This is a must read for our teens and young people, as well as anyone who wants to be challenged in their thinking.

As a part of the Booksneeze blogging network, I received a free copy of this book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mother: The Definition

(This an extremely honest post of my journaling through this difficult path. For eighteen years I have lifted up and praised the gift givers of my four precious lambs. I will continue to do so. But for today I lay my bare heart open.)

Two mothers means lots of questions and many mixed emotions.

My boy-man is caught up in these emotions.

And so am I.

I keep asking myself, "What makes a mother? A mom? A mommy?"

Giving birth is one aspect but essentially a small part. Eighteen years of being present. Changing diapers. Wiping noses. Mingling tears. Holding hands through the good and hard times. Hearing sweet words whispered in one's ear. Whispering "I love you too". Being there through the difficult, painful years of torn identity. 

Now before some of you misunderstand what I am saying, please let me explain. I have NO idea the immense pain one feels when giving birth then placing that bundle in someone else's arms. I can't even imagine being able to have the strength to do so. 

But I want to speak my heart today. Can one just expect to come back years later and talk about "being mom" and her "child" coming "home"?

These questions are on the tip of my heart all day. Every day.

And there may never be answers.

So as my wise pastor reminded me this week, "You have the opportunity to show forth the second greatest picture of the Gospel. The adoption of God's children. He reached down to save wretched sinners and adopt us not by anything we have done. ONLY BY UNCONDITIONAL LOVE!"

That's the kicker; the hardest thing in life, by far. To keep loving when rejected. 

In reality all the above issues come down to a heart issue. If Christ is central, others would be next. If Christ is Lord in the lives of everyone involved then there would be the ability to have positive resolutions. 

So today I pray for the hearts of those involved. That Christ would be Lord and Master.

I am confident Hoss will at some point truly remember who his "mother" is but until then I look to the cross.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Another Special Trip

As I write this, my precious gift of 18 years ago, is flying hundreds of miles to meet the gift giver. 

I met this gift giver at the same airport that my boy-man flew out of this morning just a short 18 years ago. This beautiful bundle was placed in my arms and the mommy-love flowed immediately. 

And has never stopped. 

And is even more strong. 

This love raised this gift. This love has shed millions of tears over the anguish of adoption. This love desires to understand the pain of my boy. This love has led to this day. Love is honest. So a piece of my heart is in the air as I write this.

I never knew such joy could mingle with such pain. I guess it's like birth. Birthing a piece of me from my heart. 

I am truly grateful and happy my SON will get answers to the pain he has felt for so many years, yet my heart cries out in fear of loss. 

So each breath I take today and tomorrow and the next day will look to my Savior and His Word to remind me of His truth. I will fight through the lies and I will strive to be thankful.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Miracle On Voodoo Mountain - Book Review

Courage. Faith. Determination. How does one twenty-something young woman defy the odds and move to a foreign country to be a rescuer?

Megan Boudreaux is this woman. She has written down this journey in an autobiography titled, Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. Megan grew up like thousands of American children. Good home. Education. Religion. But God got a hold of her heart and set her apart for a specific purpose. To rescue the children slaves in Haiti. 

Her story is one that inspires the reader to desire to be used. Instead of reading her memoir and saying,"That would never happen to me," one can easily see being used in some way in other's lives. 

What holds Megan together in the midst of corruption, loss, pain, disease, loneliness, and unanswered dreams is her faith in Jesus Christ. God miraculously answers her prayers and shows Himself faithful continually. She faces the most horrible forms of evil and the powers of the enemy. She gives God the glory through it all.

Megan has become one of my heroes of the faith. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Last Page

Well, not really. But kinda.

It is January 28th. Another Happy Gotcha Day. For Hoss. His 18th.

Every year since the day we received our little munchkins, we have added pages to their Happy Gotcha Day books. Just a simple photo book. The first few memories are pictures of the "final court date". The date the papers were signed that they are ours. Then each year after that we celebrate by doing something as a family, which usually includes food. In the later years it was JUST food. We write them a letter expressing our gratitude to the Lord and listing many reasons we are grateful.

Because of some teen struggles, Hoss has empty pages, except for our yearly letters which were sent to him via mail and also copied and put into his book. 

With the beauty of the journey comes pain. 

With joy comes sorrow. 

With age comes questions. 

With time comes answers...in the right time. 

So today we write his letter and chow down on some chicken tenders. We close his book with this final page. But praise the Sovereign Creator the end of the story isn't over. Praise Him that He has written it and we can trust him.

There are still lots of questions. Not so much anger. Plenty of laughs. Seldom tears. 

Our dear Hoss,
One book closes and another opens. We are celebrating your 18th Happy Gotcha Day! We remember like it was yesterday. Those tiny fingers. Your constant cooing. Your soft, curly hair. Your early words that charmed our hearts. The "I love yous". The funny times with your siblings. Then one day, you grew up. Where has time gone?

You are closer than ever to understanding a parent'

s heart. One day, you will probably be a parent. You may feel the need for more answers. We are here for you whatever and wherever the answers find you. 

We love you. Three little words that mean so much! 

We do.

Lovingly,Your daddy and mommy

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Wall Of Remembrance

For many years I have been praying about my "memorial stones". After reading Hinds Feet in High Places, and being impressed about all those stones of remembrance she put in her pockets along life's journey to the high places, I desired to make a memorial for the Puebla Ponderosa to have to commemorate God's faithfulness to us.

So I had an idea. An idea of a remembrance wall. A place where we passed by daily and could take into our senses all that God has done and REMEMBER!  A place where my children can see visibly how God has rescued us and provided in amazing ways.

Just this week, life happened, and I walked over and read the past feats God accomplished in our lives and it encouraged me.

I knew I wanted the central point to be the journal pages from our family remembrances over the last 20 years. I printed them out on parchment paper, burned the edges and mounted them on a canvas that I painted. I then lacquered them.

Obviously, the "P" signifies the Puebla Ponderosa.

At first, when I was putting this wall together in my mind, I wanted the word "faithfulness" etched on something. But as time went on, I realized God's faithfulness wasn't changing, but our remembering to remember was. So my hubby cut out individual pieces of wood that I stenciled the letters to read "remember".

After we were married, I cross stitched our vows. I was determined to make this part of our wall of remembrance. These covenants were vital to the Ponderosa. God is the sustainer of all. He is the reason we exist.

Of course, pictures had to be part of the wall. I took a day a few weeks ago, to reminisce. If I am like each of you, I have gobs and gobs of pictures. If you were a fly on the wall of my heart you would have seen tears and heard laughter; sensed regret, and felt leaps of joy. Moments of treasured days have slipped away. It was good to remember in this way.

I strived to choose pictures that were integral parts of our lives for the past 20 years. 

Next, I had seen a beautiful piece of craftiness on pinterest with scrabble letter tiles. So I arranged our names and added an important dimension that has knit our family as one. A family from many backgrounds into a beautiful picture of art.

Before, Christmas last year I was given a creative chalkboard from this amazing online store. Each week we take turns writing what we are thankful for. My littlest had the last go round...in modern lingo...bff's...that's what she is thankful for.

Lastly, I knew I wanted Scripture that reminded us how this wall came to be and to Whom we give glory for His faithfulness. The Lord has encouraged us to be strong and to be still.

So, there you have it. I pray these displays are forever etched in our hearts. I encourage you to find that arena in which to carry your memorial stones. 

Much love from the Puebla Ponderosa

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Review - Frederick

The spirit of determination that allows one to overcome such adversity as Frederick Ndabaramiye did is quite amazing. Faith is always part of that spirit. Faith that God gives to believe in the hope of a future and faith that forgives those who try to take your life from you.

Frederick, an autobiography, is an unbelievable story of resilience and fortitude. Frederick lived through the Rwandan genocide and was severely maimed by his enemies. His story is one that touches the deepest nerve in one's soul. God had a mighty plan for him. God sovereignly placed people and things in his life to direct him exactly where he needed to be at the perfect time. As you read this book, you will find yourself immensely grateful for your own blessings, as well as, asking yourself the question of, "How can I be an instrument of service to those who are hurting around me?".

This story is one of hope for the future. One boy's story of how he overcame incredible odds and become a man who helped others do the same.

**As a part of the blogging network, I received a free copy of this book.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Our 2015 Family

Saturday, we celebrated the joining of two lives and their becoming one. "Mr. Cartwright's" niece got married and it was a wonderful celebration as well as the perfect "excuse" to take my photo-evading children's pictures. (Namely, my big boys. I'm sure you mothers of boys out there understand.)

So enjoy.

You will notice that my youngest girl and boy have the most poses...you really would think they are cut from the same cloth...in so many ways. My sweet, "Marie", just smiles beautiful, without any antics...and my oldest, well, I don't have any of him by himself. Surpriiiiise. Surpriiiise.

Grandpa Puebla and Grandma Puebla made an appearance as well. It's been so long since we have all been together at such a formal celebration.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I Did It Again...Followed By An Apology

Today, my mouth and emotions got the best of me.

But, I mean, all I asked was a simple command. And he didn't want to do it in my time when I asked...I'm the mom. I mean,  just obey....it's that simple.


And like many other times, words spewed out of my mouth that were, indeed, truth. Just not spoken in love. Therefore, words that really didn't need to be said at all. (And might I add, they were pretty loud words...thankfully the windows weren't open today.)

I excused myself from the school table and went to my room, feeling pretty lousy. I knelt down and cried until I couldn't open my eyes. I screwed up again. Again. AGAIN. I want to have the right responses. I get so tired of failing when it really matters. I want to love the unlovable, but boy, it is so hard at times.

I texted him and told him how wrong I was and how sorry I was. That no matter what happened, I didn't have the right to speak that way to him. (Thank God for texting, especially when you are dealing with someone who struggles to let go and forgive quickly.) Then I proceeded to get on the computer and look at some of the blogs I follow. Guess what?

Yup, you guessed it. Lynn Cowell's blog was titled, Words of Wisdom, and yes, it nailed it!  I was encouraged and uplifted and sent back to the Word.

I will start again tomorrow, trying to think about my reactions and then responding.