Friday, July 31, 2009

The Week in Review

This week was a calm one. Not many outings, since the weather hasn't been too agreeable. Today was the first day in some time that it hasn't rained at all. Of course, the heat is sweltering, which also discourages being outdoors.

My daughter had a very enjoyable week, though. She joined our church's youth group in a local missions trip to an orphanage. Actually, most of the children there aren't orphans per se; they're placed in this home because their parents either can't or won't care for them, and they are waiting to be placed in foster/adoptive homes. She's home now, but exhausted. I'll have to wait till tomorrow to hear all about it.

Monday: We hung around at home all day. I originally wanted to go with E to a local water park, but I found out the price was out of our budget. It was just as well; a very nasty thunderstorm came through, which would have made the waterpark dangerous. We played Monopoly Jr. E beat me twice, I won once. He commented that it would be nice to play grown-up Monopoly, if we had it. He forgot it was in his sister's room.

Tuesday: We saw Firehouse Dog at the theater for free movie day. This was the last week, and we wanted to make sure we didn't miss it. Great movie! I really enjoyed it. E liked it too, though he said he liked Hotel For Dogs better. We stopped at the library to get more books. I finished Jane Eyre, which I LOVED, and now I'm reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I read this book when I was 12 years old. Someone had thrown out a copy of the book, and I pulled it out of the trash out of curiosity. I knew about Charles Dickens but I'd never read his books, and I remember enjoying Great Expectations very much, so I thought after so many years it would be good to read again. More rain in the afternoon, so E and I played grown-up Monopoly. E cleaned the floor with me. A little embarrassing, to lose to a 9 year old.

Wednesday: Cleaning day. Bathrooms, floors, vacuuming rugs, laundry, the works. I love having the house neat and clean! Of course, I wanted a Monopoly rematch. I won this time, thankyouverymuch!!

Thursday: Stayed home, watched Horton Hears A Who, and yes, played Monopoly again. I won - two out of three ain't bad! The happiest moment for me was when I received the letter telling me my unemployment benefits were extended once again. Thank You Lord for that amazing blessing!

Friday: Grocery shopping day. I stayed under budget again, which is good. I tried to shop as fast as I could, because we were going out to lunch. E had received, as an award for good conduct at school, a free meal at a local family sports pub and restaurant. I don't like going to these places for dinner, especially on a Friday, because it gets filled with happy hour sports fanatics. But right after the lunch rush the service tends to be good, fast, and quiet. His coupon expired today, so we had to use it or lose it. My daughter wasn't able to join us, since she was at camp, but the rest of the family went and had a great time with a great meal. Then, another round of Monopoly (I lost), and now I'm typing as my daughter leans over to give me a much enjoyed hug. No growth groups tonight; our host is in Orlando this weekend.

Looking forward to a quiet, relaxing weekend. God bless everyone!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Answer to Prayer

One of the hardest things for me in my walk with God has always been my obsession with control. I'm a bit of a control freak, and relinquishing control, even to God, is difficult. I think this is why God has put me through all the events of the past year. So many changes came that I couldn't control and had to accept, yet as I gave these to God I found peace. Instead of worrying and fretting over what would happen next and how I would accomplish it, I began learning to let go and let God. Letting go control has brought me freedom, and trusting in Him has allowed me to see Him work in my life.

Even though I lost my job a week after my daughter started college, I chose not to worry about how we would manage financially. God began teaching me how to manage money so that I would be a good steward of His blessings. Over and over I watched God's hand in my family's life as He took hold of our situation and had a solution to everything. I had to learn what was a need and what was a want, and I realized much of what I had been spending money on was unnecessary wants. As my priorities changed, I learned responsibility and appreciation for all God provides, and as a result we were able to stay out of debt.

When, in March, my unemployment benefits ran out, He provided an unrequested extension. I was blown away at how God answered my prayer at the time. Then I asked how I was to proceed. God placed upon my heart to take the money from my benefits and not spend it; instead I was to put it all in our savings account and leave the rest to Him. Again, I chose to trust and obey, even though that meant giving Him control. As a result, we were able to save over $6,000 in a six month period, enough to pay for my daughter's school expenses for this semester and then some.

I had been applying all this time to different jobs with no success. Then something unexpected happened. My sister-in-law told me about a job opportunity at the company where she works. I was unsure what this meant: did God want me to go back to work? My unemployment benefits were again running out. Could it be this was God's way of saying it was time to go back into the work force? I admit I was confused, which brings on worry. Thankfully, though, the study of Discerning the Voice of God was useful to me at this time. I read about the ways to know when God is speaking to us: through prayer, reading Scripture, meditating on the Word, and worship. I decided to go on the job interview, then I prayed about it and left it at the foot of the Throne. If it was His will that I go back to work, then I would. Otherwise, I would trust Him again as before to lead us in the right direction. Meantime, I continued praying, reading the Word, meditating on it, and worshipping.

Today I received a letter, quite unexpectedly, regarding my unemployment benefits. Once again, without my having requested or applied, I received a 13 week extension of my benefits. God has let me know again that He is in control and is taking care of everything! I waited, and listened, and received a response loud and clear. What a wonderful God I have!

This isn't to say that I'll never go back to work; that's not my decision to make. It means that when I leave things in the Lord's hands instead of trying to manipulate and control them, the results are miraculous. God has taught me so much this past year; I can't imagine what else He has in store!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Growth Group Week 4 - Revealing God's Character

As we continue in our small group study of Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer, I am amazed at how God is working in each of our lives and bringing us to a closer understanding of who He is. That was what this past Friday was about - understanding God's character as revealed in Scripture.

Chapter 7, A Revealing Heart, began with a powerful verse. Jeremiah 24:7 - "I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord." God wants us to experience Him in our lives; not just know about Him, but know Him. The Bible uses many different names for God, so that we can better understand His character. For instance, He is known as Jehovah-Jireh - God our Provider. He is Jehovah-Rohi - God our Shepherd; El-Shaddai - All Sufficient (Omniscient) God; Jehovah-Shalom - God of Peace; Jehovah-Elohim - All Powerful (Almighty) God; and many more. As He reveals Himself in all these different names, we experience these different facets of His character, which bring us closer to Him. What really spoke to me about this chapter was the words found in Psalm 119:10 - "Do not let me wander from Your commandments." David showed us here that it is our responsibility to get to know God, but it is God's responsibility to cause us to hear and recognize His voice. Proverbs 3:6 - "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Chapter 8, A Peaceful Voice. This isn't describing God's voice as meek and mellow. It is describing the feeling of peace we experience when we listen to and obey God's voice. The Holy Spirit speaks to us in a way that leads us to make God-honoring decisions, and these assure us of peace. Isaiah 48:18 - "Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling like waves." Most important note in this chapter: "The Holy Spirit will not lead us to do anything that in any way hinders peace and unity in the body of Christ." (Page 105).

Chapter 9, A Truthful Voice. God's voice will always guide us in the direction of truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and will NEVER lead us in a way contrary to God's written Word. The enemy would have us believe that Scripture is NOT absolutely true (just as he deceived Eve). He will use human traditions to substitute God's truths. That's why it's so important to read and reread Scripture throughout our lives, so that we aren't deceived into believing something is Scriptural when in fact it's only tradition. The enemy also uses strongholds, rebellious thoughts contrary to God's Word, to make us believe we aren't loved by God, or accepted by Him. The enemy uses these strongholds so that we can't experience God's triumph in our lives. We need to remember the words of Psalm 33:4 - "The word of the Lord holds true, and everything He does is worthy of our trust."

Chapter 10, A Powerful Voice. God's voice isn't wimpy. It is strong and powerful, because He is Almighty and All Powerful. We don't need to fear, because there is no one more powerful than our God. When we see how God changes our lives and the lives of others, we understand His power and authority and feel confident and secure in what He will do in our lives. Ephesians 1:19-20 - "I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of His power for us who believe Him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms."

Understanding God's character helps us to know what pleases Him and what He despises. It then changes our character to match His own. We become more Christ-like as we know Him and strive to imitate Him.

The best part of our study group wasn't Friday; it was Sunday, when one of the dear ladies in our group was baptized at church. We laughed, cried, and praised Jehovah-Elohim, Almighty God, for His goodness, His kindness, His mercy and grace. What an awesome weekend! It is such joy to know that as we are reaching up to Him, He is reaching out to us as well.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For today, July 27, 2009...

Outside my was actually a little bit cooler than usual, probably because of all the rain we got this weekend. Not just rain either, loud thunderstorms. Everything is calm this morning though, so far.

I am thinking...about my prayer life, and what is lacking in it. Need more focus.

I am thankful...for yesterday's baptism celebration. One of the girls from our growth group and an ex-coworker of mine got baptized. I'm not typically a cryer, but I couldn't hold back the tears. Of joy, naturally.

From the learning son is getting a little more into reading. It's still a bit of a struggle for him, but he's trying harder than before and looking for books that interest him. Always a good sign.

I am go to the library possibly. I wanted to go to the water park but it's out of this week's budget. Other than that, nothing planned outdoors. It's been raining a lot lately.

I am hoping...our church's youth group reaches out to the children at His House, and learns to appreciate how blessed they are to have a home and parents who love them.

From the kitchen...baked chicken 'n stuffing.

I am VBS t-shirt, jeans and sandals. Had to drop my daughter off at the church office this morning. She's one of the leaders for this week's missions trip.

I am creating...more time for reading.

I am reading...Ezekiel for morning devotions, Luke for SOAP devotions, finished Jane Eyre yesterday (loved it!), have about 2 chapters of Passionate Wives to read, and Discerning the Voice of God for growth groups. I rarely turn on the tv anymore, and when I do I find it totally boring and useless. Then I pick up a book again. God is weaning me off of television and I'm so thankful.

I am fingernails on the keyboard, and the gurgling of the coffee maker. It's so peaceful and quiet. I love the quiet. City born, yet I could live in a quiet little town in the country and be forever content.

Around the house...I've got laundry to finish, and I really need to give my bedroom a good dusting.

One of my favorite a good book. My eyes get tired more than they used to, but I still prefer reading than any other type of entertainment.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Firehouse Dog is showing at the free movies tomorrow, and of course we'll go to the library a couple times. We'll see what else the Lord has in store.

Here's a prayer request I'm sharing...our youth pastor chose something different this summer. Instead of camp, the youth are at His House, a home for displaced children (the kids call it an orphanage, and it could be considered one, though most of the children there have parents alive, just unable for various reasons to care for them. The children are awaiting foster or adoptive parents). Please pray for Pastor Mark as he ministers to these children about the love of Jesus, and for the youth of our church to learn compassion and gratitude. My daughter is one of the youth leaders; pray this experience will touch her heart for these children also.

Wanna join in the fun? Peggy is on vacation, but you can visit Grandmother Wren and leave your link there. God bless and have a wonderful week.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Week in Review

It was a pretty busy week, as most are. So much to be thankful for...

Monday: I was out running errands most of the day. It took 2 hours for my oil change (ugh!), then went out to get gas, then run to the bank. Thankfully my daughter cooked for us, because I wouldn't have been home in time. Her ham steaks turned out delicious!

Tuesday: E and I went to see Hotel For Dogs. Great movie. A bit of a tear jerker, but fun and wholesome. Afterwards, I ran home to get lunch ready, then took E for a desperately needed haircut. Dropped my daughter off at her best friend's house, then back home. I was able to get some laundry done in the interim, as I was in and out of the house.

Wednesday: House needed cleaning! In the heat of the summer we get so much dust, and with allergies it can get so uncomfortable. E and I ran to the library and I got a new book, Jane Eyre (I'm really into the classic English literature now). We also got some books and DVD's for him. I'm glad we didn't plan anything else; it poured for a good part of the afternoon.

Thursday: Another day indoors cleaning, thanks to lots more rain. Not complaining, mind you. The rain cleanses the air. Besides, it gave me time to get caught up on stuff around the house.

Friday: Grocery shopping day. Thankfully the stores were empty and I was able to get done quickly. Growth groups were awesome once again (I'll post about that later). E and my friend's kids went to see G-Force with her husband, which he is most thankful for.

A busy week is a good week. Thank God for our health and our busyness.

Observing My Senses

For Today, July 25, 2009...

I am seeing...coconut palms laden with fruit. Overcast skies, but the clouds are white so it's still bright out.

I am feeling...thankfulness, because my pastor's wife had her baby on Wednesday and she and the baby are doing well. Praise the Lord for this new miracle.

I am tasting...turkey on a toasted english muffin. It's a favorite of mine because it's filling without being fattening. Healthy, too.

I am hearing...the ticking of a clock, and cartoons in the distance. It's a quiet morning.

I am It lingers for a while in the mornings.

It takes just a moment to stop and observe what's going on around you. Won't you join me?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Do Not Wear Yourself Out

"Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
have the wisdom to show restraint.
Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone,
for they will surely sprout wings
and fly off to the sky like an eagle."
- Proverbs 23:4-5

My husband works in the food industry. Many holidays the company's office personnel have the day off, but my husband still has to go out and service grocery stores, because they're open. You can't tell Wal-mart that they won't be serviced because it's Memorial Day or Labor Day. The sales reps have to be there, or risk losing shelf space.

I thought about how times have changed. When I was a little girl, nothing was open on Christmas. Nothing. Christmas day was spent at home. No outside entertainment was needed (other than visits from family); there was plenty to be played with. One of the local television stations had Christmas music playing the entire day, while a yule log burned. No programming, because Christmas wasn't about watching TV. It was about being with family.

Thanksgiving was a special event also. Generations of women got together in the kitchen to prepare (from scratch) the most delectable meals imaginable; the whole house smelled like heaven for days. If you realized you'd run out of cinnamon, you went over to your neighbor to borrow some because there was no store to run to; everyone was home and all business establishments were closed. The day was spent eating, napping, playing games, reminiscing, and being together.

Now, everything centers around the pursuit of the mighty dollar. Grocery stores are open till 7:00pm on Thanksgiving day as a "service to the consumer". Problem is, the employees at that store are consumers, too, with families who won't get a home cooked meal because at 7:00 it's too late to start cooking. Many people who are out working that day will bring home catered food, thereby eliminating some of the most precious hours of the holiday, the time of food prep, of serving the family by preparing something scrumptous like only mom/grandma/auntie can make. The focus of the conversation (and this irritates me to no end) is not family, or even football. It's the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday. It's about stores making money, and people spending money, and doing excessive overtime to make more money to spend.

Christmas likewise, has become more about consumerism than a day to celebrate the birth of our Lord. People are together in the morning as they open presents, then run off to the movies. I don't get it. Families can't have conversations at a movie theater. Where's the bonding? Where are the memories? Isn't this the perfect time to play with that new board game? Wouldn't you rather help Jr. put that new model together? How about if Mom and big sister entertain us with a fashion show, trying on all their new outfits? We can laugh together, talk, have fun without leaving the house.

The one thing that stood out in my mind was this: we work more now than we did back then, yet the economy is in the dumps. Doesn't seem to make sense, does it? We should be making more money because we work more hours, yet we have less and less. Everyone is "wearing themselves out to get rich" yet we've seen how the money has "sprouted wings and flown off to the sky like an eagle." It isn't that making money is wrong; we need to work if we want to eat. But our priorities have shifted, and the main concern is about making more money and having more stuff. God has been put on the back burner, and His advise has been overlooked. We need to get back to where we used to be. We need to return to the place where work was a means to support our families, and then take the time to be with said families. Let's get our priorities straight, people. Let's make holidays what they are meant to be: holy days.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Saint Speaks

"The Bible is God's message to everybody. We deceive ourselves if we claim to want to hear His voice but neglect the primary channel through which it comes. We must read His Word. We must obey it. We must live it, which means rereading it throughout our lives."

- Elisabeth Elliot, as quoted in Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

200th Post

Amazingly, this is my 200th post since I started blogging less than a year ago. I thought I'd get bored with it after awhile, but it's been very therapeutic. Blogging has helped me get my thoughts focused, get things off my chest, keep in touch with family, and I've met some great cyber friends in Christ. All in all it's been a positive experience.

To all who have taken the time to read my ramblings, thank you. I hope I haven't bored anyone TOO much. Of course, if I had, you wouldn't come back. So once again, thank you. Thank you for your comments and encouragement. Thank you for agreeing with me when I'm right, and letting me know when I'm wrong. I hope you keep visiting. I enjoy the company.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Saint Speaks

"I know God is speaking when what I hear is consistent with what I know about Him. I remember a time when someone told me something my husband Keith said. It wasn't negative. It just didn't sound like him. I found out later it was a different Keith Moore. I knew deep inside that wasn't my man. Likewise we can know deep inside, 'That just isn't my God.' I've got to know God and His Word well enough to know what 'sounds' like Him and what doesn't. He never speaks contrary to His Word and His character."

- Beth Moore, as quoted in Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, July 20, 2009...

Outside my a typical South Florida morning. There's hazy sunshine, no breeze, tons of humidity, and a chance of showers in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to the fall when the humidity is less. Unfortunately the days will begin to get shorter, too.

I am thinking...of the things that need to get done today, only I don't have it organized in my mind and that stresses me. I'll have to get out the ole pen and paper.

I am thankful...for the 2 part video series we saw at church with Dave Ramsey giving Biblical advise for money management and financial freedom. I'm thankful because many of the things he said we're already doing, so that's confirmation from God that we're on the right track. Now to keep on implementing.

From the learning rooms...we're finishing up Henry Huggins and will start with one of the Cam Jansen books. She's a girl about 8 or 9 years old who does detective work with her camera. Think Nancy Drew but elementary school age.

I am take my car to the dealer for an oil change.

I am hoping...the whole job thing goes away. I'm ready to do whatever God leads me to do, but I don't want to work yet. That's the honest truth.

From the kitchen...ham steaks baked in the oven with pineapple chunks.

I am wearing...okay, still sleeping attire, but I only just got up and was eager to do my daybook so I can organize my day. Monday morning daybooks get my thoughts in line for the week.

I am creating...nothing yet, but I'd like to get another page done in my daughter's scrapbook.

I am reading...Ezekiel for morning devotions, Luke for SOAP devotions, Passionate Housewives for personal study, Discerning the Voice of God for growth groups. I finished Pride and Prejudice this weekend (loved it) and need to go to the library for more books. I'm thinking Charles Dickens this time.

I am hearing...the clock ticking in the family room. Hubby's gone to work, and the kids are asleep. How much longer will I be able to enjoy the peace and quiet?

Around the house...two more loads of laundry to finish, family room floor needs cleaning, furniture in master bedroom needs dusting. I got the kitchen so clean on Saturday I almost don't want to use it anymore lol.

One of my favorite cheese sandwiches. American cheese with mayo on white toast, cheese slightly melted in the toaster oven. Oh yeah! Reminds me of childhood.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Tomorrow they're showing Hotel For Dogs at the movie theater (free), library, growth groups on Friday. Sunday is Baptism Celebration. I don't know how many are getting baptized, but I think it's quite alot. We'll have bounce houses for the kids and a concert by the youth band. We've never done this before (baptisms are usually held in the parks or the beaches) but I'm sure it'll be great.

Here's a prayer request I'm pastor's wife Carey is expecting and due at the end of this month. Her blood pressure was high and the doctor thought she'd have to deliver early, but by the grace of God her blood pressure went down and she was sent home. Please pray that she continue healthy for her sake and the sake of their unborn son.

Wanna join in the fun? Peggy is on vacation, but you can visit Grandmother Wren and leave your link there. God bless and have a wonderful week.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Growth Group Week 3 - Communicating With God Today

After learning last week that God wants to speak to us and we should expect to hear from Him, this week we learned how God communicates with us today.

Chapter 3, titled A Marvelous Voice, showed us the different ways God has spoken with His people throughout the Scriptures. First, in the Old Testament, He spoke through His prophets, and confirmed His Word via a visible sign. Think Moses and the plagues, and Elijah when he challenged the priests of Baal (1Kings 18). When the Israelites wanted a word from God, they had to find the prophet, who would then speak God's Word to the nation more so than the individual. Next, Jesus came to earth. Now the world was hearing from God, manifested as man, and His word was confirmed by miracles. Jesus would forgive sins, which would bring incredulity and questioning of His authority. Then He would perform the miracle, and the people would be amazed, having to accept that He truly was the Son of God. What about today? We have an amazing gift, because today God speaks to each of us individually via the Holy Spirit, and His Word is available to us in written form. We can hear His voice no matter where we are, no matter the time of day or the present circumstance.

Chapter 4 is A Guiding Voice. The Holy Spirit is a guide Who can see what we can't. Know that saying, "Hindsight is 20/20"? Well, the Holy Spirit is our hindsight. He can see future events that we can't even understand in our current state. Of course, the Holy Spirit only enters into our lives by invitation; He's waiting for us to invite Him in. Once we do, He takes residence in our hearts and begins to transform us. This transformation is moved along as we apply certain disciplines in our lives: daily prayer, reading of His Word, and meditation on it. We learned how the Holy Spirit then accomplishes His work. We humans are composed of three parts, because we are made in the image of Almighty God. The material part is the body, the physical component. Our soul consists of the mind, will and emotions. The spirit is the essence of each of us, that part which connects us with the Holy Spirit. When we become believers, it's our spirit which receives the Holy Spirit, who then proceeds to renew us, body and soul. It's a process, but it's very orderly. The last important point in this chapter was that our conscience is NOT the voice of the Holy Spirit. Our conscience is the voice that guides and directs us, but it can be faulty. It can be evil (Hebrews 10:22), defiled (Titus 1:15), weak (1 Corinthians 8:7), or dead (1Timothy 4:2). We must allow the Holy Spirit to train our conscience so that it can work in conjunction with Him to guide us in our lives.

Chapter 5, a Verifiable Voice, emphasized the importance of staying in the Word. Nothing the Holy Spirit tells us will contradict the Scriptures, so if at any time we hear a word and are unsure if it is really God talking, we can verify it with Bible. This is why it's important to read the Word daily. Once a week at church is NOT ENOUGH!!! There are 168 hours in a week; spending one hour in the Word will not bring us closer to an understanding of God's voice. We need to discipline ourselves to stay in the Word, reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it, so that when issues come up in our lives we can be reminded of God's will. Especially in our day and age, when we're saturated from all sides with messages that contradicts God's truths, we must immerse ourselves in His Word. The more we do, the more closely our thoughts, emotions and decisions will align themselves with the Holy Spirit's message to us.

Lastly, chapter 6 was a study of the Persistant Voice. God knows us better than we know ourselves. Many times God finds Himself repeating things to us over and over before we realize He's speaking to us. How many times haven't we heard God's voice, only to look back and recognize that He's been talking to us through our Bible reading, messages at church, friends, radio programs, etc. We just weren't tuned in. But God, in His unending love for us, doesn't give us a message and walk away. He persists in speaking to us until we react. As a matter of fact, nothing in our lives happens by chance. One of the paragraphs in the book really spoke to me: "Never think that the circumstances of your life have nothing to do with God's will! They have everything to do with it. When you're seeking God's guidance, you should always reflect on the events the Lord is allowing to occur in your life." (Discerning the Voice of God, page 80). There was also a great quote by Steve Farrar: "When I hear the same thing from two or three different people in a very short period of time, I know the Lord is speaking to me. It's as clear as a Fed-Ex letter."

After we were done, the best part came. Testimonies! When I hear confirmation from these lovely women of how God has spoken to them during the week, when the study points specifically to an experience someone has had just recently, it lifts my spirit in adoration of a God who loves us and wants to dialogue with us. Not monologue, Dialogue!! He wants to speak to us AND hear from us. And He won't give up, either. I'm so thankful to the Lord for allowing me to be a part of this group. As I told the ladies last night, I may be leading the group, but I'm probably getting more out of it than they are! We are extremely blessed.

Observing My Senses

For Today, July 18, 2009...

I am seeing...grass that needs cutting. It's amazing what just a little rain can accomplish.

I am after yet another Spirit-filled growth group with 5 awesome ladies from my church. God is doing incredible things in each life!

I am tasting...smoked turkey on a toasted english muffin, and my morning coffee. Mmmm...

I am hearing...Spongebob Squarepants. It reminds me of when I was a little girl and I'd get up bright and early to watch Saturday morning cartoons. Like mother, like son.

I am smelling...coolness in the air from the a/c. It has been an exceptionally hot summer, and I don't know how we'd manage it if it weren't for air conditioning.

It takes just a moment to stop and observe what's going on around you. Won't you join me?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Sad Anniversary

This week was the one year anniversary of our saying goodbye to our precious dog Tobey.

Tobey was a soft coated wheaten terrier. We had him for 6 years, and he made us very happy. Sadly he became extremely ill, and after taking him to his vet, an animal hospital, a specialist who did a sonogram and x-rays, no one could figure out what was wrong with him. Exploratory surgery to try and figure out why he was in so much pain would have cost upwards of $5,000, and we just couldn't afford it. My daughter was starting college, and I was getting ready to lose my job. We tried medication, painkillers, everything, but finally had to make the extremely difficult decision to end his misery. It was terrible for us, especially for my daughter, because Tobey was the Christmas/birthday present she'd asked for since she was 3 years old. But watching him suffer was much harder, and it would have been selfish to continue allowing him to live in pain.

We still think of Tobey fondly. Every once in a while we're reminded of him, and we smile. That's what pets do for us. They love us unconditionally, and try their best to make us happy. There's a lot to be learned from them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Saint Speaks

"When you read your Bible, receive and savor it like a love letter from God to you. Remember, you're reading in order to meet Someone. Ponder what you have read, and apply it to your present circumstances. Let it go down into the core of your being. And as you read, expect Him to commune with you."

Bruce Wilkerson, as quoted in Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer.

What I Learned from Jane Austen

I've finished reading the biography of Jane Austen (Jane Austen: Obstinate Heart by Valerie Grosvenor Myer). It was very well written and gave lots of details of her everyday life and what England was like during her lifetime. Miss Austen was born in 1775 and died in 1817 at the young age of 41. She was relatively poor, though her books brought her some money by the end of her life. Yet I found it interesting that the most important fact I learned had nothing to do with Miss Jane Austen's life.

As I mentioned, she born in 1775, on December 16. This was the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the American Colonies, and the following year the Constitution was written, pretty much letting England know there was a rebellion afoot. The Revolutionary War should have been won by the British. They were a powerful nation, had a well trained army and navy, much more powerful weapons, and plenty more money than the Colonists who were still in many ways adapting to their new home. Winters were bitter cold and food was scarce at times. Yet against all odds the Colonists won. Historians will tell you it's because the war was fought on their turf, and they had much to protect. I don't doubt this to be a true advantage for the Colonists. But in reading some of the historical facts of England herself, I also got an understanding of underlying issues we never hear about because most people would find it unrelated. I think it relates to their defeat very much.

As we studied in our American history classes, the reason Europeans (because it wasn't only the British that came here; there were Dutch, French, and German also, though the majority were British) left the comforts of modern living to come to this new world, where they would basically have to start from scratch constructing not only homes but entire towns, was for religious freedom. The Church of England reigned supreme, and anyone that wanted to follow a different religion than the official church was ostracized, and persecuted. We know of the Quakers, devout Christians who simply wanted to live according to God's Word, but there were also other Evangelical denominations that came to the new world, such as Baptists, and also Catholics. They wanted freedom to practice their faith and live their lives peacefully. They also wanted to escape the lifestyle that was beginning to grow in their native England, which they knew wasn't approved by their Heavenly Father.

In reading about the life and times of Miss Jane Austen, I found something that was more than interesting, it was shocking. The morality of the day had fallen very low. It was believed that as much as 50% of new brides were pregnant on their wedding day. Divorce was almost unheard of, since getting a divorce required an Act of Parliament and most people couldn't afford to pay for it, so marriage also was becoming optional. People figured if they lived together without getting married, ending the relationship would be more cost effective. Of course, there were those that married, some out of love but many out of financial convenience. Women looked for men who had plenty of money to keep them comfortably. For this reason adultery ran rampant. Family values had sunk very low, and what happens when a culture loses its family values? The entire culture, or nation, suffers. England, which had been the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the world, lost a big part of their income when they lost the Revolutionary War. And they never fully recovered.

Today England, while still being a strong nation, is not the powerhouse it was at one time. The United States of America is now the most powerful nation in the world. Yet we're going in the same direction as jolly ole England. Morality is at an all time low, and rather than working to bring family values up, the mentality of the American people has become one of self-gratification. It's that selfish "ME first" attitude of young and old alike, the belief that life is about getting as much out of it as possible without any regard for anyone else. This infiltrated the culture of England, and we've allowed it to infiltrate ours. Are we going to learn from the mistakes of others, or will this be another case of history repeating itself?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back From the Interview

I went to the job interview today. It's a couple of towns south of where I live, but on the expressway it took me only 15 minutes to get there, which is a plus. I got there early so I stayed in the car studying Discerning the Voice of God for about 10 minutes before going in. I needed to hear His voice really bad!

I met with the interviewer, who is my sister-in-law's boss. As I sat there he proceeded to read my resume. This was the first hint that he'd called me in just to please my s-i-l. He hadn't even seen my resume before. He then proceeded to explain their business, emphasizing various times that they really wanted someone with garment business experience. I have none, other than the fact that I wear clothes ;-). He told me the position was for a CSR, and that their customers are nasty, real nasty, really really NASTY. I was actually offended for his customers! He said he just wanted to make that absolutely clear. He must have seen the shock on my face, I know I couldn't hide it! When he asked if I had customer service experience, I honestly responded that I don't, that in fact I am used to being the customer because I was the purchasing manager where I'd worked. I also emphasized that as such, I was NEVER rude or nasty to any of my vendors because in the industry I worked (cosmetic) it was simply unacceptable. He tried quickly to say their customers weren't that bad, only getting angry when mistakes were made, but shortly thereafter he proceeded to call them nasty again.

All in all, I don't think he was impressed with me, and I can honestly say I was not impressed with him. I was told they're still interviewing and they'll let me know their decision. I'm praying God's will be done, one way or another. Just trusting in Him.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."
Proverbs 3:5-6

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, July 13, 2009...

Outside my window...a pretty standard South Florida summer morning: lots of sun, no breeze, intense heat. I'm looking forward to autumn when the humidity goes down some.

I am thinking...about this job interview today. I'm leaving it in God's hands, because He knows what is in my heart but He also knows what's best for me.

I am thankful...for spiritual guidance in all aspects of life. Yesterday's message was about finance. It's great to hear confirmation from God about what we're doing now, and instruction for what we're to do next.

From the learning rooms...we didn't do much last week other than reading because E wasn't feeling well. We'll continue with reading this week.

I am have breakfast, then get some laundry done, dye my hair and go to the interview this afternoon.

I am hoping...the Lord gives me peace today.

From the kitchen...pepper steak in the crockpot. So gooood!!

I am wearing...I haven't changed out of my sleeping attire yet, but I will shortly. Something comfortable as I do household chores.

I am creating...plans for the week.

I am reading...Jeremiah for morning devotions, Luke for SOAP devotions, Passionate Housewives for personal study, Discerning the Voice of God for small groups, and a biography of Jane Austen which I'm almost done with. I have something to post about this reading, later in the week.

I am hearing...morning cartoons.

Around the house...laundry needs to get done, bathrooms need cleaning, floors need sweeping (again!). Standard stuff.

One of my favorite seeing my friends at church. Naomy was there yesterday. It was good to see her, weak but joyful.

A few plans for the rest of the week: I told the kids we'd go to miniature golf this week. There is a special rate at Boomers for Tuesdays and Thursdays, $12 per person unlimited playtime. That's what it costs to see a movie which only lasts 90 minutes (unless you go to the free movie mornings like I do!). Looking forward to seeing Flushed Away tomorrow (that's right, for free).

Here's a prayer request I'm sharing...yes, it's about the whole job thing. I just want to follow God's will for my life. I don't care about whether we have lots of extra money or not. I just want to be where God wants me to be.

Wanna join in the fun? Peggy is on vacation, but you can visit Grandmother Wren and leave your link there. God bless and have a wonderful week.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Is Another Change Coming?

I'm going on a job interview tomorrow.

My sister-in-law's company is looking for someone in customer service, and she gave them my resume. She called me today to go in for an interview tomorrow. This has me so confused, because quite frankly, it makes no sense.

From a work perspective, my resume has nothing regarding customer service. I was purchasing manager for 11 1/2 years, and administrative assistant/accounts payable clerk for 8 1/2 years. I haven't done customer service for over 20 years, and even then I didn't deal with the public. I can't imagine what on my resume would make them think to call me for an interview, other than my sister-in-law perhaps insisting.

But I'll go tomorrow afternoon, for 3 reasons. First, part of my unemployment benefits requirements is that I look for work while I'm collecting, and not reject any offer of employment. I have been applying, because I don't want to lie when I send in my claim every 2 weeks. I just haven't received any offers. If I don't go on this interview I feel like I can't answer honestly on my claim. So, for matters of integrity, I have to go.

Second, my husband's family can't understand that we could possibly manage on one income. Each time they see me they ask if I've started working yet. I have explained to them repeatedly that we are financially better than stable, but they don't seem to believe it possible. If I turn my sister-in-law down, she'll take it as something personal against her rather than what it truthfully is, I don't need to work right now. Rather than offend, I'll go.

The third, and most important reason, is because I want to know if this is from God. If the Lord means for me to go back to work, for whatever reason and whatever amount of time, then that's what I'll do, even if I don't understand. If He means for me to continue at home, then nothing will come of it and I'll be home again. He has been handling every aspect of my life, and working everything according to His will, so I have no reason to doubt His involvement in this latest situation. I'll be praying today and tomorrow for His guidance. If you have a chance, please pray for me too.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Observing My Senses

For Today, July 11, 2009...

I am skies with white puffy clouds that look like giant cotton balls.

I am feeling...hunger being put out of its misery.

I am tasting...homemade lasagna, bread stick and salad. I can't think of a better way to end hunger.

I am hearing...Hannah Montana singing something.

I am smelling...the smell of baked bread sticks. It's Pillsbury but they taste so good out of the oven.

It takes just a moment to stop and observe what's going on around you. Won't you join me?

Growth Group Week 2 - Expect to Hear

I'm still in awe after our Friday night women's growth group meeting last night. As I mentioned before, we're reading the book Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer (daughter of Tony Evans). Yesterday we talked about Part 1, Hearing God's Voice. In the first chapter, Expect to Hear, we reviewed the book of Habakkuk and the kind of relationship he had with God. Habakkuk wasn't afraid to ask God why. "Why haven't You heard my cry? When are You going to do something about our circumstances?" (see Habakkuk 1:2-3). Habakkuk knew God enough to know that the situation in Israel didn't please Him, yet as far as Habakkuk could tell, God wasn't doing anything about it, so he asked How long and Why? We do the same thing when we reach that point of desperation; we want an answer from God and we want it NOW.

God's answer to Habakkuk is interesting. Verse 5 starts by stating, "Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days." In essence God was saying, "I am doing something, you just haven't noticed it." Many times in our despair we don't see God's hand in our lives and we suspect He isn't listening to our pleas, but He's always there, behind the scenes, working miraculously in our lives.

The verse continues, "you would not believe if you were told." God knew Habakkuk would find His answer hard to believe. What about us? If we call out to God and are looking for a specific answer, the one WE think best, we may not hear Him when the answer is different, what He KNOWS to be best. Let's face it, many times we have selective hearing; we only hear what we want to hear or what we think God should be saying. But just as the answer to Habakkuk's question was shocking enough to have him question God again (verse 6), he also knew God would answer him, and he "stationed himself in the ramparts awaiting what God would say" (see Habakkuk 2:1).

Habakkuk expected God to answer him, and he waited faithfully. We discussed reasons why we might not expect God to speak to us. Busyness was one of the first obstacles. We get so engrossed in our daily lives we don't give God the opportunity to speak, or we're just too occupied to listen when He does. Impatience was another reason. We pray, pray, pray some more, God doesn't answer in the time frame we expect, and therefore we simply assume He won't speak to us. The other block we put up is fear and unworthiness. "Why would God want to speak to me? It's not like I'm in some big ministry. I'm not a pastor. I'm nobody important." This is a common belief, that God only speaks to preachers, or missionaries, people whose lives are dedicated to ministry. But as the Bible shows us, when God spoke to Moses he was a shepherd running from the law, who didn't consider himself worthy to do the work the Lord was calling him to do because he wasn't a public speaker. And what about Samuel? When God first spoke to him, he was a just a boy of 8. Anyone may think a murderer on the run or a small boy unworthy of hearing from God, yet God used both these men in a powerful way because they were willing to listen and obey. Are we?

There are 3 activities we can engage in to create an atmosphere for listening to God's voice: prayer, meditation on His Word, and worship. The ladies gave some incredible testimonies on how God's presence was felt in each life during this past week, but none was more amazing than what we experienced last night. As one of the ladies gave a prayer request, another lady spoke a word from God confirming a decision the first lady was asking guidance for! There were tears of joy as we realized that, just as we had been reading and studying a few minutes before, if we expect to hear from God, He will speak to us. As another of the dear ladies said, we were blessed to be there and witness the hand of God and the assurance that He wants to speak to each one of His children, in His own intimate way. I left the bible study last night feeling like I was walking in the clouds. It was such an amazing experience. I feel in my heart that God is going to continue to bless this group in a powerful way. What's more, I'm expecting it!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Just for fun...

Shtarker: "Sir, if I may ask, how did you choose the target? Why Los Angeles?"
Siegfried: "Major city, lots of media attention, and the President will be there."
Shtarker: "Still, it's too bad about all the dead movie stars."
Siegfried: "Yes. What will we do without their razor-sharp political advice?"

- Get Smart, 2008

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Rain, and other stuff

It's a bit overcast outside. Maybe it'll rain. 'Course, it got really dark yesterday, and the thunder was making a racket, but in the end my area got no rain at all. Maybe today.

My son woke up feeling much better today, praise the Lord. He still had a low grade fever this morning but was behaving like his normal self, asking for breakfast and what time we'd be going to the library, so I know the virus is just about knocked out. I'm still keeping an eye on him but I think we're just about out of the woods.

I spoke with my friend a little while ago. She's feeling much better also. The pulmonologist checked her and said he was very pleased at how well she looks. This is the same doctor that saw her 2 years ago when she had her first bout with pneumonia, after having been diagnosed with the auto-immune disorder. She was really weak, swollen from medication and had hardly any energy. It's been a long road to recovery, but with the Lord's help she has taken care of herself and until she got sick this time was feeling like her ole self. The doctor explained this was something she'd probably have to battle for years, but if we're sure of one thing, it's that God has healed her before and He will do it again. As I told her, "Little does this doctor know the amount of prayers that helped get you to where you are now." Her answer? "Oh, he knows."

So, I'm off to do some reading. I got a biography on Jane Austen now that I finished reading Sense and Sensibility, and I'll be reading Pride and Prejudice next. Reading is FUNdamental!

Thanks to everyone for your prayers, both for my son and my friend. All are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Life, Interrupted

This morning I was awakened by my youngest son, who woefully said, "I feel worse today than I felt yesterday." Not a good sign.

Last night E told me he wasn't feeling well. He was a bit headachy and thought he might have a fever. I pulled out the thermometer and, to my surprise, found he had a low grade fever of 100.1. I gave him some Tylenol, and shortly thereafter he felt better. This morning when he woke me, I took his temperature again, and found it to be 101.1. This time I gave him ibuprofen because he complained that he was achy all over. After breakfast he was feeling better, but I decided not to take a chance at going to the movies, so we postponed it again. He was okay all morning, but just to play it safe I took his temperature after 6 hours. Once again, he had a low grade fever, 100 degrees. I suspect his body is trying to fight something off, and by his behavior I'd say his body is winning. His throat was a touch sore, but other than that he feels fine with pain reliever/fever reducer. I'm gonna have to keep my eye on him. It's a bummer, because I know he gets tired of being indoors, but I don't want to take him out and have him spread germs if he really is sick with a virus (which is what I suspect is the case).
So, we won't be going to church tonight. My daughter A is going with the church youth group to the local ice skating rink, more to see her friends and catch up with them than to actually ice skate. Hopefully my little boy will be better tomorrow.
One good piece of news: my friend Naomy is out of the hospital. Praise God! I haven't spoken to her (we're playing a lively game of phone tag) but she left me a message that she got home last night with orders to rest and take her medicines. I'm so thankful to the Lord that she's back home again. She's looking forward to this whole episode being behind her, and it looks like she's on her way. Thank You Jesus!
The dark clouds are rolling in, and I can hear thunder in the background. The wind has picked up, making it difficult for the beautiful blue jay to stand on the retaining wall in the back yard. Another typical South Florida day. Hope your day is just as blessed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Week, So Far

Typically, Mondays are big cleaning and laundry days. This is so E and I can go to the free movies on Tuesday mornings, and only have bathroom cleaning after lunch. The rest of the week is more about maintaining the house clean and doing laundry, which gives us a chance to do other fun stuff. It's a schedule that works well for us.

I was totally out of schedule the past few days, though. Friday I was in and out of the house the whole day, so nothing got done around the house. Saturday I tried to catch up with laundry, but that was about all I could get done. I had to prepare for teaching in children's church the next day. I was covering for someone else and hadn't realized I had to teach the lesson - yikes! I had one day to learn the lesson for myself. Thankfully the Lord helped me, otherwise I'd have been lost.

Sunday I had to teach, which meant I had to be at church at 8:45am, teach 2 classes, then help tear down and put everything away. Our church meets at the local high school, so we have to do set up and tear down each week. This means I didn't get home till 2:00pm, and after baking a quick pizza, I rested. Children's church is hard work! But fulfilling, of course. I planned on getting plenty done around the house the next day, since my house was starting to look opaque instead of shiny (if you know what I mean).

Only that wasn't to be. At 5:00am, when the alarm clock rang, my hubby told me he needed me to accompany him to a new store on the other side of the state. My hubby works in the food industry, and when there's a store opening he often gets sent to set up the display in the store. This usually is in our area, southeast Florida. This time, though, he was sent to a store in southwest Florida, almost 2 hours away in an unfamiliar town. Hubby wanted me to go with him so I could be his navigational system, sort of like a wifely GPS. Much as I hate having to get up that early, I knew he was worried about getting to the store on time and getting lost in an unfamiliar place, so I got up and we were off before 6:00am. The drive was pretty uneventful, till we got close to the city. I had gotten directions off Mapquest, and he'd gotten directions from the driver that delivers to this city every week. I asked hubby which directions he wanted to use, and he said we should use the driver's directions, since he travels there frequently and knows the area. Well, we drove around and around and around, called the store owner for directions, called the driver, called the office, and could not find the store. Finally, I told hubby, "Let's go back and try the Mapquest directions." He was so frustrated he just wanted to go home, but he agreed. We went back, almost back to the expressway, then followed Mapquest step by step. Praise God, we were there in about 5 minutes. Hubby was glad he'd taken me, and I was glad I was able to help as best I could. I felt like what God means me to be for my husband: a helper.

My only problem was, we were gone for about 8 hours, between getting there, working the product in the store and driving back home. I spent the time reading (already done with Sense and Sensibility), but when we got home I had to quickly get food made and served before hubby had to get back to work in OUR city. By the time I was done cooking and cleaning up, it was late. I decided to modify my weekly schedule.

So, instead of the movies today, we stayed home and did our big week's cleaning. It worked out great too, because my daughter is going to a Britt Nicole concert tonight and she was able to help out with cleaning before leaving. E helped alot too, and R took care of the outside of the house (lawn mowing). By noon the house was clean and fresh, and lunch was done. Ahh, I felt like I could relax a bit, though not too much, since after lunch E and I had to run to the bank, take some books to the library and get gas for my car. Finally back at home, I can rest in the knowledge that my home and family are taken care of. To all those feminists out there who think any twit can run a household, I say: Give it a try. You'd be surprised to know how much goes into running a home smoothly!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

For Today, July 6, 2009...

Outside my window...the sun is shining brightly, the trees are moving in the breeze, and I suspect that dark cloud will bring some light showers, as they have most everyday this summer.

I am thinking...about my friend Naomy. She tested positive for influenza A on Saturday, so her hopes of going home from the hospital were dashed. Instead she's been put in isolation, so I don't even have the hope of visiting her. Thank God for telephones!

I am thankful...for the freedom we have in this country, even if some would love to see this taken away. This country's forefathers knew how to appreciate their independence. Nowadays, not so much.

From the learning rooms...we'll be studying about Puerto Rico. E learned about his father's heritage, now it's time to learn about mom's.

I am rest for awhile after going non-stop since 5:00 this morning.

I am hoping...Naomy gets out of the hospital soon, and starts to feel better.

From the original plan was to make lasagna today, but hubby changed that. He had to work on the west coast this morning, which is about a 2 hour drive away, and he asked me to accompany him so I could help him find the address. We got lost for about 1/2 hour, which delayed us getting home early enough. So I've reworked the menu plan for this week, and today we had tilapia, parmesan noodles, fried plantains and salad.

I am wearing...a brown linen blouse with a pretty embroidery around the collar, jeans (because hubby keeps the a/c in the car on freezing), and no shoes. My feet are tired.

I am creating...changes to the week's menu plan.

I am reading...Jeremiah for morning devotions, Luke for SOAP devotions, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God for my personal study, will start Discerning the Voice of God for small groups today, and Sense and Sensibility just for relaxing. Sounds like alot, but it's surprising how much reading can be done once the television is turned off.

I am son and daughter playing a video game. I don't let E play video games too often, but it's something he enjoys doing with his sister. The songs are so repetitious, they annoy me.

Around the house...nothing's been done, though not for need! I've been running around so much it's hard to get anything taken care of. Thankfully my daughter, who stayed home with her little brother while I went with daddy to work, put away all the clean dishes, then cleaned the freezer. That was a big help!

One of my favorite having plenty of good reading material on hand. That's why I love going to the library. There's so much to choose from!

A few plans for the rest of the week: movie tomorrow, and the bank, church on Wednesday, small groups on Friday, library runs, and I need to look into some other fun and inexpensive activities.

Here's a prayer request I'm sharing...pray for marriages. It seems marriages are disintegrating at record speed, even in the church. The enemy attacks where he knows he can hurt most, and right now it's the family unit. All throughout history, whenever family values have gone to the wayside, entire cultures have suffered. We're going in the same direction. Pray that couples will work at their marriages instead of just giving up.

Wanna join in the fun? Peggy is on vacation, but you can visit Grandmother Wren and leave your link there. God bless and have a wonderful week.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Growth Groups - Week 1

Last night was our first growth group meeting for the summer. Our church calls small groups "growth groups" because we are there to grow in our faith. Looking at the names of the women who signed up for my group I realized the only name I was familiar with was the hostess'. I will admit a bit of apprehension; I'm very much an introvert and leading a group of women in a Bible study when I haven't met them before makes me nervous. Still, it's not the first small group I've been in, and the friendships I've acquired have been worth the effort. I looked forward to the women God was putting in my path.

And once again, He didn't disappoint. Corny as it might sound, we bonded. It was a group of 5 (including myself), three who've only been attending our church a short time, yet I feel like I've known these women all my life. As we each shared our testimonies, I thought about how each story is different, yet what joins us together is the same: the realization that we need a Savior, that a life without God is meaningless. We talked about how Jesus' presence in our lives has affected not only us but those around us. It was such an encouraging time of praise that no one seemed to want to leave! All of us are eager to come together next Friday as we continue to grow as women after God's own heart.

As for today, we're hoping to go to the town park for an outdoor concert and fireworks. I say "hoping to" because it just rained again. We'll see if the weather clears up or not. Typically I'd be upset if I were looking forward to something and then couldn't enjoy it. Today, though, I'm still basking in the glow of a night of praise and worship, and no weather pattern can bring me out of it!

Allow me to brag just a little...

My daughter A and her best friend JB played at the church she attends during school for an open mic night. Her performance was taped, as they were the headliners. They played a song from BarlowGirl's upcoming CD Love and War, due out in September. The song is called Beautiful Endings. You can watch it here. My biological daughter is the one on the left; JB, my daughter in Christ, is on the right with the hat on. She's very shy about performing, and agreed to sing so long as it was harmonies for A. They did an amazing job, and I'm so happy to be able to share it.

Observing My Senses

For Today, July 4, 2009...

I am seeing...the sun blazing through my window, and the quiet stillness of morning. I enjoy it so much.

I am feeling...overabundant joy after an amazing small group last night. I'll post about that later.

I am tasting...and seeing that the Lord is good, all of the time!

I am hearing...nothing but the air conditioner running (it's really hot outside!). We went to bed late last night, so everyone is still sleeping. Of course, this silence won't last. It's the 4th of July, and I suspect we'll be hearing firework before nightfall.

I am smelling...cinnamon toast and coffee. Getting ready to have my morning breakfast. Yum!

It takes just a moment to stop and observe what's going on around you. Won't you join me?

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Week in Review

It's been a whirlwind of a week, and it doesn't seem to want to end anytime soon.

Monday: This was cleaning and laundry day. I wanted everything to look nice because my daughter was coming home, so I cleaned and tidied up, especially in her bedroom. Such anticipation!

Tuesday: I started the day by putting one of my daughter's favorite meals in the crockpot: easy chicken and stuffing. E and I went to the movies to see Shrek the Third, which was free. It was okay, but the theater was more jam packed than usual thanks to the severe thunderstorms that morning. Summer camps bring the kids to see free movies on days when they can't do anything outdoors, and lately that's been pretty often. It rains daily, and heavy. Once we got home, it was the waiting game. I tried to concentrate on other things, but we kept wondering when A would be coming home. Turns out it took them much longer than expected to get everything packed. E didn't want to go to bed until his sister got home, and I knew how important this was to him, so we waited and waited and waited... She ended up getting home at 11:00 at night. E and I had fallen asleep in the family room watching Horton Hears a Who. We were so thankful that our A was finally home, even if it was a long wait.

Wednesday: The new movie Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs was opening, and E wanted to watch it so badly! He asked Daddy, who said it was okay and gave us the money to go to the theater. We were so excited, because this movie had great reviews. Just as I was getting ready to walk into the theater, I pulled out my cellphone to turn the volume off and found a message from my friend Naomy, telling me she was back in the hospital. As quickly as I could I texted a bunch of friends so we could pray for her. The movie was great, hilarious, but in the back of my mind was my dear friend. After the movie we went to the library in town, the bigger library, and got some reading material. After that I called my friend and let her know we were praying for her.

Thursday: Naomy called me to say she was still in the hospital, but hadn't been admitted yet. Looked like a severe case of sinusitis, but with her medical condition the only thing that could be done was administer medication via IV. I talked with her for almost an hour, trying to get her to laugh and encouraging her. E and I went to the library again, this time the small library close to the house, to get some more books, and E picked something out to surprise me: The Muppets Take Manhattan (DVD). We enjoyed watching it.

Friday: The day started early, grocery shopping for the week. It took much longer than usual on a Friday, and I couldn't understand why the stores (especially Walmart) were so crowded. Then I remembered: tomorrow is July 4th, and lots of people got today off from work. I guess everyone was shopping for the holiday weekend. We rushed to finish and get home, put everything away and have lunch, so we could go visit Naomy at the hospital. A dear friend from the church office joined us. Naomy was just as beautiful as ever, thrilled to have visitors because the hospital can be a boring place. We were able to visit for a couple of hours and pray for her, which was greatly appreciated! If she has to stay longer I'll plan another trip to see her. The hospital isn't far from my house, and I know the visit, short as it may be, lifts her spirits.

Of course, my day isn't over yet. Small groups tonite! We have a meet and greet for our first night, then we'll be reading Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer. I'm looking forward to this time with some lovely ladies from our church, studying God's Word and praying with and for each other.

It's a busy life, to be sure, but I'm so thankful for it.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Another Update on Naomy

My son and I went to the movies yesterday, courtesy of Daddy, to see the new Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs movie. I was eager to see this movie which has gotten very good reviews. As we were walking into the movie theater, I got a text message from my friend Naomy. She was back in the ER. It was deja vu for me, because the last time she texted me to say she was in the hospital, E and I were walking into the theater to watch UP. I quickly texted as many friends as I could so we could all lift her up in prayer. As soon as I could, I called her up. She had a terrible headache, and felt as though her eye was going to blow right out of her head. After much persuasion from her mother, she decided it was best to go back to the hospital where she'd gone with the pneumonia. They were running all kinds of tests, so we'd have to wait for the results to find out what was going on.

Unfortunately, I turned in early last night with a migraine so I didn't know what was going on. This morning she called me, still in the hospital, with a diagnosis: she has chronic sinusitis. It may not seem like anything serious (don't lots of people suffer from sinusitus?), but after having been in the hospital with pneumonia and a round of antibiotics, it would seem unlikely that she'd be getting worse. The problem with Naomy is that her auto-immune disorder keeps her natural defenses down, and after being sick she's even weaker. Please keep her in your prayers. She's normally a vibrant, energetic woman, and this is keeping her from being her fun-loving active self. Thanks.