Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Momma's Worry!!

There is always a worry on top of all the other worries that I have to silence each day. I am sure every parent in the world will understand it. I worry that the gospel will not become real to my children. I worry that it will get old and boring to them. I worry that all that we have been teaching them and will teach will not make it to their hearts and then what do we do? For some reason, I have been feeling this a little more intensely the last few weeks. I even talked with Josh about if I thought Katelyn was really "getting" the gospel and what it means to her. I have been praying more and spending more time in scripture because of this anxious feeling. I have prayed that God would reveal himself to her in a real way. I prayed that He would show her His goodness and grace so that she can see the gospel playing out in her everyday life. Well, last night our family made a trip to Academy Sports for an awesome shoe sale they were having. As we all pilfered (more like ransacked) through the shoes, everyone found a pair they liked besides Josh. I kept trying to talk Samuel out of the pair he liked because they did not have shoe laces and would flip on his feet. They were also substantially more costly than the others. We finally told him that he would have to get the cheaper of the shoes or get none at all. Of course telling this to four year old usually comes with many tears and much drama. As we continued to walk around I could tell that something was going on in Katelyn's cute head. Finally, she walked with her dad back to the shoe aisle and put back her super cool high tops and picked back up the original shoes Samuel had wanted. I asked her what she was doing and she just said," Mom, I want him to have his shoes. I will put mine back if that helps him be able to get them." I wasn't sure what to say and the mom in me wanted to just get her the shoes because I was so proud of her. Josh, on the other hand, pulled me away and told me to let her do this. He insisted that this would help her learn sacrifice and giving. It was SO HARD for me to walk out of that store and her not get the shoes she had picked out. I told her how proud I was of her and that she really showed love and grace to her brother. That was that. She was disappointed but was fine by the time we got home.

This morning as Samuel was putting his new shoes on to run around in them because he said they look so cool, he realize that they flipped (LIKE I SAID). He took them off and said he did not want them anymore and could he just get the other ones we had picked out. Katelyn just looked at me and I said,
"Sure. Katelyn that means that you can get the shoes you picked out because of the price difference." A little while passed. She came to me and said that she felt like God was teaching her patience this week. She began to explain to me that when she put her shoes back it was not because she wanted to please her dad and I. It was because if Jesus could lay down His life for her, she could sacrifice shoes for Samuel. I got very excited and explained to her that at that point she was letting the gospel change her and it made a difference in her everyday life. We talked for awhile about God's goodness and even if we get nothing in return for obedience that we still PRAISE HIM. Even if we seem to not catch a break, we PRAISE HIM. Even if we loose it all, WE PRAISE HIM!! Even is we sacrifice something we love for someone else, WE PRAISE HIM!! I wanted to cry, jump for joy, and squeeze her and say,
"THIS IS WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. This is what we pray that you and Samuel understand." I love days like these when the gospel becomes real to one of my children. It creates a humbleness in me that is hard to explain. We must never stop praying for our children. We must never assume they aren't listening. Even on the really hard weeks or days, they hear us and they see us. Even when they come back with a snide remark or a face of disgust, GOD CAN REDEEM THEIR HEARTS. Press on parents and pour truth and the gospel into your children. I am so blessed that we got to spend the morning praising Jesus for His goodness to us when we do not deserve it and His grace that falls on us daily. I am so blessed that this sweet girl is mine for a short time and that her heart belongs to Jesus. I am so thankful that as I fail many days as a mom, that God also redeems those moments. Nothing I do can lead my children to Jesus more than Jesus himself. HALLELUJAH!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Real Life Redemption

Sometimes you come across those people that inspire your socks off. You know, the ones who have walked journey's that should have ended them. They are the one's who could have easily become victims and continued to walk in the condemnation and guilt that only comes from Satan. Instead, they were chased by their Savior and He won. He won their heart, life, and future. Well, I get to experience a person like this every week. Our core team is blessed to have this woman with us. She walks in truth and holds to her guns when all seems lost. She endures and has been healed. Though life still throws here curve balls, she waits, patiently for the Savior's strong arms to wrap around her. I wanted to share my friends story with you in hopes that you will also be blessed by her.  Love you Emily!

Sweet Redemption

5“Then I will restore to you the years that the locust swarm devoured,
as did the young locust, the other locusts, and the ravaging locust,
that great army of mine that I sent among you.
26You will have plenty to eat, and will be fully satisfied.
You will praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has performed wonders specifically for you.
And my people will never be ashamed.
27As a result, you will know that I am in the midst of Israel;
that I myself am the LORD your God—
and there is none other!
And my people will never be ashamed.”
Joel 2:25-27

In 2006, when I accepted Jesus into my heart and into my life, I had no idea to what capacity the word redemption would hold for me.  The years before had been years filled with destructive habits, self-demolition, and darkness.  Sin had ruled and reigned so heavy in my life that even my physical body ached of it, just as King David's had. Satan had managed to, even if only momentarily, disrupt every plan for Hope and a Future that God had for me. 

Moments before the Spirit of God completely invaded my life, I sat hopeless; ruined; and completely broken.  Digging a way out of the mud and mire that I was in seemed ridiculously impossible, and for me, it was. 

BUT GOD...Don't you just love when a story has those two words in it? BUT GOD, in His deep love and mercy; being Jehovah-Rapha (The God who Heals), knew I needed help.  He knew I needed a Mighty Savior to do for me what I could not do for myself.  I was severely wounded from the war Satan had waged against me.  I needed more than just healing.  I needed complete REDEMPTION.

So on that night in 2006, God gave me His word.  It was quite possibly the most audible word I have ever had Him speak to me.  It literally seemed to be out loud.  Not your typical still small voice.
The Lord assured me that every part of me that was broken; every area in my life that had been damaged: relationships, reputations, personal failures, and broken dreams would be healed, restored, REDEEMED.  Not partially.  Not mostly.  But back to the original canvas that God had initially created them as: Pure, clean, & undefiled by sin.

This is where I need to remind you that God NEVER breaks His promises.  He is true to His word.  He will NEVER fail His beloveds.

As I sit here seven years later, I can honestly say that my mind cannot even comprehend how the Lord has kept that promise to me way beyond anything I could have ever asked or imagined.
Tiny little details of my life that I didn’t know needed redeeming, well, He thought they did and He redeemed them!  Every minute area in my life that “the locust” or Satan had stolen from me, God gave me back TEN-FOLD! 

I wish I had time to tell you all about the REDEMPTION God has done in my life, but unfortunately I know that “ain’t nobody got time for that”.  For those who have walked with me through this journey, you have had the great honor of seeing firsthand God’s amazing work.  Consider yourselves very blessed because you have witnessed a true miracle.

Although I won’t overload you with EVERY SINGLE THING He has done, please allow me to tell you the latest two things He has redeemed.  They are really, really, good!

Many of you read on my Facebook a while back that I had a testimony to go with this pregnancy.  It is a true story of redemption and one I want the whole world to hear about. 

As most of you know, when I was 18 I had an abortion.  Satan had so entangled me in sin that I made the worst decision I have ever made in my life.  I ended the life of my first child.  Satan fought hard to convince me of this decision because he KNEW how it would destroy me.  And it did. 

Once I accepted Jesus in my heart, I knew that would be the area I needed the most healing in.  I knew that part of me needed to be redeemed.  I also knew God would do it.  I just didn’t know when or how. 

Fast-foward seven years later….. Happily married and trying to conceive our first child, my husband and I struggled through two miscarriages.  As devastating as they were, I knew my God was good and EVERYTHING he did was for my good.  So I clung to His truth and hope.  Finally, we got a SURPRISE third pregnancy!  I was called in for an early ultrasound due to the past difficulties with my other two pregnancies.  During the ultrasound, the baby was there, the heartbeat was there, but the Sonographer said the size of the baby was concerning according to my cycle dates.  They gave me my due date, which was the end of January, and told me to come back the next week to be rechecked.

Fear and doubt crept into my soul, but again, God convinced me to trust Him.  So I did. 

We came back a week later to see if our sweet baby had grown anymore and if everything was ok.  And wouldn’t you know, that little baby had the strongest heartbeat and had grown just perfectly!  The nurses concluded our dates had been wrong, the baby was right where she needed to be, and they gave me a new due date: February 13th, 2014. 

So what is the relevance, you ask?  February 13th is the relevance.  February is the month 8 years ago that I had ended that precious life that was growing inside of me.  8 Years ago in February, Satan had allured me into the most heinous, evil act I could have ever imagined myself doing. 

BUT GOD!  There it is again.  BUT GOD, in His sweet, sweet, sweet, redemption wanted to take that very thing that I meant for evil and turn it into GOOD for HIS GLORY.  So, on the VERY SAME MONTH (My God loves to show off) 8 years ago that I ended LIFE, God redeemed it and is giving me LIFE back! Hallelujah, WHAT A SAVIOR! 

God even had a purpose in those miscarriages.  He knew the time was not right and that if we would wait patiently, not only would he bring us the baby we were dreaming of but He would bring COMPLETE HEALING to me as well! Ah, He is so GOOD, is He not?

You know, I think today I am going to end on that note.  The second story I have of His redemption is wonderful, but I want you to sit on this one for a while and marvel at His goodness. 
He cares about you, beloved.  He cares about every MINUTE detail in your life, down to the months, hours, and seconds. 

He has not forgotten what Satan did to you and HIS vengeance, not yours but HIS, is GLORIOUS!  His vengeance is REDEMPTION.  And there is no sweeter thing. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Understanding the Word "Helper"

When I was growing up, I was very strong-willed. As I got older that turned into me making a plan and knowing that I would never veer from it. When I was in fourth grade I remember telling my mom that I would never have a period, wear a bra, or shave my legs. That didn't work out so well for me. I was determined to be different. I wanted to be strong and if those things made me "weaker" then I wanted nothing to do with them. As I got older, that list turned into much more detailed things like never have sex before I married. Thank God I got one that I stayed with!! My reasons for those were mostly because I thought I had to "perform" in order to gain God's favor. My list was: Don't do this, this and this. I thought that was how it worked. My other reasons behind my "lists" was that I wanted to stand out, I really did wanted to be different and in my mind and how I was taught lead me to "performance." One big thing was that I loved beating boy's in anything possible. A quick game of basketball or being picked for a team in P.E. were the things that made feel strong. If I could beat a boy at a sport, I was on top of the world. I wanted everyone to know that I could do anything that he could and sometimes even better. Thoughts like those turned into a woman in college who knew that I would be submissive but that I would still have a voice when married. Josh and I have been married for 12 years and he will tell you that it is very hard for me. Well, until I really understood the gospel and what God says about women. Then, I was more than willing to be everything that God said a woman should be.

The Lord God said," It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper for him." Genesis 2:18

God did not say that the man was not good. He said that man's aloneness was not good. Why is that? Man was created in the image of God and had a perfect love relationship with his Creator. The man needed a relationship with one that was equal, but different, so that together the could glorify God. The different design were intended to show the diversity of the triune God. If you were like me, you cringed at the word "helper." In our society, that word can sometimes mean lower, under, follower, etc. Well hold on because this truth is what changed my view and my world. The Hebrew word for "helper" is ezer. That is the same word that is used throughout scripture to refer to God as our Helper. If that is the case than that word does not mean less important than the person being helped. Once I realized that the same calling for a woman is the same word used for God many times in the Bible blew my mind. He loves me. What a high calling for me as a woman!! Knowing God is our Helper gives us insight into what it means to be a helper.

He defends: Exodus 18:4
He sees and cares: Psalm 10:14
He supports: Psalm 20:2
He protects: Psalm 33:20
He delivers from distress: Psalm 70:5
He rescues: Psalm 72:12-14
He comforts: Psalm 86:17

These are not wimpy words. God designed His female creation to give warmth compassion, and support to relationships.God's design for women is SPECTACULAR!! When we fulfill this design, we are bringing glory to God! Now that this truth has been in my life, the word, "Helper" sounds good to me!!! So, be encouraged today that as a "helper" you are bringing glory to your Creator. You are also fulfilling the role given to you in your husband's life!! To all of my "helper" friends, ROCK ON!!!

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Get Over It

Those words were in my head a couple of months ago. I kept telling myself(or it may have been God), "Get Over It, Jenna!" The reason for that very negative pep talk was because my mind was running in circles. My daughter is so much like me and not like me at all. I know that makes no sense but it really does if you know both of us well. I don't like change, can sometimes not know when to stop talking, feel the need to state my rights when I feel they are being violated, and so on. My daughter has those same qualities but I have tried hard to break that cycle so let's just say, she's better than I in those areas. Growing up, I loved anything pink and sparkly but also loved playing in the back yard getting dirty, I loved to where dresses and heels but also loved when it was time for pajamas pants and a t-shirt(I actually probably preferred the latter). I played basketball, cheered, LOVED softball, and tried pretty much any type of activity like that. I had no desire to take care of animals or grow things(too much work). I loved dolls and making them beautiful. When Katelyn was born I pretty much changed her clothes 3 times a day. Everything she had was pink, flowery, shiny, lacy, and super girly. I loved putting BIG bows in her hair even before she really had the hair for it. Even with dressing her girly, we put her in t-ball. I wanted her to love what I loved. I wanted her to be girly and whack a softball across the field. I wanted her to be girly but strong. I wanted her to see the things I loved and want them to be a part of her life too. Then, we could connect right? We would have everything in common. I could spend my days teaching her how to pitch a softball in the backyard and then showing her how to accessorize a cute sweater. We would play baby dolls and I could show her how to braid their hair. Then reality hit and she turned 4. She didn't want baby dolls, she wanted swords and guns. She didn't want to wear dresses but jeans ALL THE TIME. I was dressing her for church one Sunday and she said that she didn't want to wear a bow in her hair that day. My mouth flew open and I was in awe that after 4 years of wearing cute bows, how could she just not want to anymore. I made her...I know, awful right. The thing is, I would continue to make her do things she didn't want to because my heart wanted her to be what I had envisioned my daughter to be. She didn't like softball and never wanted to play it. She wanted to try soccer. SOCCER? I didn't play soccer. I knew nothing about soccer. At least it was a sport and I liked sports so we signed her up. She decided she wanted to go to a camp to learn about horses. WHAT?? What about playing another sport or something? Not only did I know know anything about horses but they scared me. What if they kicked her or bucked her? She was scared at first too but faced her fear and got past it. Now, she wants to train to barrel race..AHHHH!! She wants goats, chickens, gardens, horses, dogs, flowers, and forts in our yard right now. Every one of those make me cringe. She wants to be so many things when she grows up. She wants to be a missionary, a Veterinarian, a guitar player in a band, a farmer, a horse trainer, a mommy, and a wife.

The reason I had to get over it was because God created her to be just who she is. For a purpose that I don't know, this is who she needed to be. This is what is and will bring the most glory to God. The funny thing is, out of all the little girls that could have been mine, she is exactly the little girl I would have wanted. She is courageous and strong. She is too busy doing the things she loves to be caught in any kind of drama that girls can fall into. She does not care what anyone thinks of her. She is compassionate and caring. She is helpful to those who can not help themselves. She sees beauty in God's creation and desires to make it more beautiful. She loves to make people laugh and is pretty good at it. She loves competition but is such a good sport. She has fallen in love with a horse that she tells her secrets to and will never forget this awesome time in her life. I just pray that as she grows into this woman that God will use greatly, that we train her in truth and godliness. Once I "got over it", I fell more in love with this warrior princess than I ever thought I could. I saw a beauty in her like I have never seen and a thirst for life that inspires me. As parents, we want so desperately to create a little person that fits our mold. We try and put on them what WE desire for them instead of what God has already put within them. Once we see those talents, those gifts, it is really easy to see Christ and His workmanship in them. When I look at my daughter riding a horse smiling, I see Jesus. When I watch her press in on the soccer field, I see Jesus. When I hear her pray or rock a baby to sleep, I see Jesus. When I stand back as she whispers in a horses ear all the things on her heart, I see Jesus. When she gets excited about a plant growing or an animal that curls up in her lap, I see Jesus. I am so glad that I finally,"GOT OVER IT."Really deep inside, this little girl is my hero. She exudes confidence and grace and I pray that one day, I can be like her.

Monday, August 12, 2013

I Have a Confession!

I am pretty much an open book most of the time. The good, the bad, and the ugly of me is usually out there for all to see. We are all a mess so why not just admit it and move on. I have a confession though. A lot of the times, I choose "busy". In the midst of my hectic days, I choose "busy" over simple and fun. I confess that on Sunday morning, my baby girl (who is beginning to make me sad because she is no longer a baby) asked me to snuggle with her and I told her I had too much to do before we left. Could I have snuggled with her for 5 minutes and breathed in that moment? YES. Could the laundry I was folding have waited? YES. Could I have had a heart moment with her while we snuggled closely? YES. Once we got in the car, I was convicted that I did not make the best choice. I chose "busy". See, I love "busy". I love when I have had a full day of organizing, cleaning, decorating, rearranging, crafting, painting, and so on. I feel energized when I do those things because I see the beginning and the end. Sitting down and playing a game, laying on the couch and reading a book, relaxing on the patio and talking about life, coloring endless pages of Thomas the Train, racing cars down the driveway, taking long and slow walks, and so on are hard for me. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE those things too but they usually come second to "busy". There are times when I want to slap myself for not thinking before I let the most important things come second to the least. Training and discipling children is hard. It is stressful, tiring, confusing, and takes all you have. There are nights when you cry wondering if you are doing it all right. Then there are times when you overhear them say something to a friend that you have been saying to them for 10 years. Your heart leaps with joy that they are actually understanding the words coming out of your mouth. I am very sure there will come a time when all those years of sacrifice, tears, and prayer circle around to an amazing arrow that you are about to shoot from your home into this world for Christ. Until then, "busy" has to come second to the snuggles, the coloring, the stories and the fun. I have to confess that this is something that my Savior has to change in me. I have to pray that in those moments I choose the RIGHT thing and not the "busy" thing. There are times when those thing have to be done, YES, but most of the time, NOT! Confession is good....thanks for being an ear!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Heart!!

It seems like I have no time to write these days and that makes me sad. I write more for me than I do for those reading. I share things that touched me more for me to remember than for any other reason. Writing soothes me and let's me "get it all out". I am by no means an impressive writer or always grammatically correct but I just love to share my heart. Lately, I have struggled. I laugh at my husband when he says,"Let's just think about one thing at a time. Let's tackle one project at a time." Any woman reading this will understand why those are two of the funniest sentences. ME?? Think about one thing at a time? That's is beyond understanding to me. I wish there was a button that says: THINK ABOUT ONLY ONE THING TODAY! I would literally press it 50 times a day. So many times, I am tired at the end of the day not because it was a long day with the kiddos (well, that's part of it if I'm honest), but because my brain is always on overdrive. It would be impossible to explain to my husband all the things I think about because I am not sure he could keep up with it all. Maybe some of you reading will see what I mean.

EVERYDAY: I think about the list of about 100 things that need to done in our house to get it to the point of feeling like our home. As I think of those things and try to maybe tackle one I think about the treehouse that we need to build in the backyard because that was what we promised the kids and we are running out of time. Then, I think about the trees that need to come down, the dirt that needs moved, and the grass seed that needs to be put out before that can even happen. During those thoughts I think about that I want to cook better meals, make better lunches, stop drinking soda, stop eating french fries
(that is most likely never going to happen so I really should stop thinking about, exercise, plant a garden, organize our homeschool stuff to start this new year, see more of the world, read to the kids more during the day, take more "field trips", spend more time in the Word, pray more often or really all day, make my own laundry detergent again, organize my family's photos so they don't get lost through the years, spend more time with friends, start a ladies get-to-together, paint all the furniture down in our storage room, create an environment of learning and laughter, hang all of our family pictures all over the house, make more time for water gun fights and nature walks, and pressure wash the carport. That list could keep going but that's just things I want to do. What about all the things I desire to be and become. In the middle of the other thoughts I think about that I want to make my home peaceful starting with me, be a mom that leaves a legacy of Godly wisdom and worshipful living, a wife whose husband rises and calls her blessed(Prov.31), a woman who truly fears the Lord, a friend who puts the needs of my friends above my own, a daughter who cherishes moments with my mom as we grow older together, a sister who loves unconditionally, a Christian who strives to see others know Christ and worship them with their lives, a teacher who inspires instead of instructs. Once again, that list could go on forever as well. These are my thoughts in about an hour out of the day. There is so much I want to do, be, become, teach, live, and cherish in this life. So, why am I so tired at the end of the day?? Thoughts that overtake me most days and many that I have to lay aside in order to think about the most important things. I have come to realize that at the end of the day, if my children have learned, grown, played, explored, prayed, seen Christ, and have fallen asleep feeling loved........all the other things are secondary! I can't change the way my mind goes all day long but I can change how those thoughts affect me. So, my struggle is determining where many of these thoughts go in the file folder of my brain and then prioritizing accordingly. It is a struggle, a daily struggle but I am finding my way through it all and what parts are truly my heart. Until I figure it all out, I am going to pray that for one day, maybe just one day, I can have that button I talked about earlier. How much more peaceful of day that would be...;)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

God's Economy

"NEVER WILL I REMODEL A HOUSE AGAIN!!!" Those are words I say at least 10 times a day as we live under craziness all around. We thought it would be an adventure and have tried to stay positive through the whole process. We were blown away when we knew we could remodel this house and blessed to be able to do it. The truth: Every project has taken longer, needed more materials, costed more, and made us loonier than we ever planned. The biggest problem is ME. I have great vision. I can look at a room and see it completely different within minutes. I can see what it will look like with walls out and what colors will look best. The reason this can be a problem is that I see it but have no concept of it actually being able to work.

I met a missionary family at our homeschool co op and they are just the sweetest. He said to me one day after I told them we were buying a "fixer upper", "I have built the houses we have lived in. That is what I do. If you need any help, just let me know." I am sure he eats those words now......LOL!!! We have had several men come and help us with so much and we are eternally grateful. This man has worked days in a row and done really hard jobs like drywalling Katelyn's room that was completely uneven everywhere and the loft. He has put a header into our kitchen so that I could have that open kitchen I envisioned. He is making cabinet doors and drawer fronts, created columns, ran wires, framed walls, moved beams, and on and on. We told him the crazy appreciation we have for him and that we could never repay all that he has done. His words were,"There is the economy here and then there is God's economy. This is God economy stuff. People have done things for me and I do the same." Josh and I were and are still blown away by those words. How often do we do things for others because we love Jesus and not for what reward can come? How often do we sacrifice time and energy helping people that have no one else to lean on? How often do we see needs and make every effort to meet them? I am convicted by those questions. I will tell you this: I have seen Jesus in an incredible way in this man. I have seen Jesus in the way that others have stepped in to fill the void that we have.

I want to see life through that lens, through a God economy lens. I want to have a "to live is Christ" attitude like this amazing man!!! I want to stop being so busy, tired, selfish, and comfortable so that I can be the hands and feet of Jesus!!!! There really is no greater life than a God Economy life!!!!