Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post-Holiday Post

Couldn't really come up with a better title, and it actually took several moments to come up with the second "post." Sort of indicative of where my brain is at.

CHRISTmas was really nice this year, very possibly the nicest I can recall in my entire adult life. We had a nice morning over at my parents' house (after we opened all our gifts at home) but in lieu of participating in the annual family drama with my more extended family we came back home where I cooked my first CHRISTmas dinner myself and let the kids play with their new toys and just hang out. So amidst the chopping, prepping and cooking I got to sing a little High School Musical Karaoke and dance around with my daughter. I got to help my oldest son learn the ins and outs of music transfer through Napster and got to watch my younger son joyfully play the new games on the new PS2 Santa brought to replace the one that the family had quite simply worn out. It was a nice change to the annual tradition of me walking on egg shells and spending much of the day barking at my children not to act like... well, children.

Dinner turned out really god, but I'm not sure if it wasn't just because there were no ridges in my tongue from biting it all day long. I cooked things I'd never cooked before, but it still turned out like a festive holiday meal. Granted, it was ready later than I originally planned, but it wasn't like one of those infamous midnight meals I've heard about or anything. We ate at dinner time, the five of us all together in our own kitchen. I still had to make a few threats to get the asparagus eaten by Ethan... the prime rib and potatoes too for that matter, but it was still so much less uncomfortable and chaotic than any other meal in the past. It was a merry CHRISTmas.

But alas, the holidays have passed. The house is still a bit of a mess, and we have company coming for New Year's Eve. I really need to get it in order but just don't have the drive to do it. I'm so not a housekeeper, and having everyone here 24/7 doesn't help my inspiration. Neal being on bed rest isn't a lot of help either. It also doesn't help that I think the mess is really getting to him, but he is restricted from doing anything about it.

I'm starting to wonder if there are deeper issues at the core of the messes, and lack of drive to fix them in my life. My house is a mess, my weight is a mess, our finances are a bit of a mess. It makes me think how grateful I am for a Savior who loved and accepted me as such, a mess. Sunday as the associate pastor spoke he said something I clung to. God fixes our messes, even the ones we make ourselves. Which of course, to at least some degree is all of them. I'm glad God loves me even when I am a mess, and my house is a mess, and life is a mess.

I know I'll be making lots of resolutions about the messes in my life, losing weight, getting the house in order, getting our debts paid off, but I also know I really don't have any ability on my own to fix or clean up anything. So I suppose my biggest resolution in the coming year will to be better at yielding, to the Savior, to His will and to His power in my life. Father help me to, yet again, learn to surrender and abide.

Of course, I do have 11 people coming over tomorrow night who would probably appreciate a clean bathroom, so perhaps I should put my feet to my faith as well.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - CHRISTmas Day 2008

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

What a beautiful day. I think today was the nicest CHRISTmas I can remember in the longest time, perhaps ever.

I am a blessed woman. I have a husband who I love dearly, I am madly in love with him, grateful for the nearly 20 years we have been together and with great hope, joy and expectation anticipating a long and wonderful life together, in Jesus' name.

I have three wonderful children. They can be loud and rambunctious, they are far from perfect but they are mine, God's gift to me, each with their own special strengths and talents, each with their own endearing qualities, all precious to me in a million ways I cannot begin to list.

I have parents who love me, who are good to me, and have always done all that they could to show me their love and support.

All of these gifts are richly enhanced and perhaps more greatly understood to be precious personal gifts because I am blessed to walk daily in my life with the Lord who loves me, just as I am. I have a Savior who came to earth to die for me, to live with me, to lead and to guide me. He is Wonderful, my Counselor, He is the Prince of the peace that resides in my heart knowing He is for me, and He is Mighty; He can and will handle whatever challenges or storms may come my way, and He will always be there, forever. He is Emmanuel, God with me.

Happy Birthday Jesus. Thank you my true Love that today and every day You give to me...

the burden to pray...
my daughter's smile...
the gift of perspective...
the gift of a reprieve...
the gift of hope...
a little peace and quiet...
the joy in worship...
the gift of the still small voice...
the men in my life...
the power to choose...
the kindness of a stranger...
new friends...
the joy of celebrating my daughter's life...
the opportunity to witness the faith and kindness of children...
Candyland and CHRISTmas cookies under the CHRISTmas tree...
CHRISTmas caroling with my family...
the ability to go with the flow...
the gift of fun...
reminders of what CHRISTmas is really all about....
a calm in the eye of the storm...
the joy of celebration...

But most of all Lord, my true Love, You give to me, You, the Greatest Gift of all, and the Greatest Giver of gifts ever.

Happy Birthday dear Jesus... happy birthday to You.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17

Merry CHRISTmas to all, and to all a good night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 24, 2008

"On the twenty-fourth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... tradition."

I am only child, I have only a few traditions growing up, my favorite of which was, and remains CHRISTmas morning breakfast, but even that tradition is one that didn't start until I was probably in adolescence.

As an adult with my own children, there is one tradition that has really developed in our little family. It is our CHRISTmas Eve tradition of going to church together and then driving to see lights on a particular street in a nearby city. I love it, I look forward to it every year, and my kids too. There is something wonderful abiut having this tradition that the five of us share. Others have joined us, but always the five of us, it is how we end CHRISTmas Eve.

I love tradition because in a world where things are always changing, it is nice when somethings remain the same.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 23, 2008

I cannot BELIEVE it's the twenty-third of December! I am freaking out a little inside. My shopping is done, purely because I refuse to do any more of it. Whatever may not be bought yet, well, it just isn't going to be bought this CHRISTmas. Well, except the groceries. I am missing several key ingredients to my first ever at home, cooked by me CHRISTmas dinner. But gift shopping has been terminated.

On the other hand, gift wrapping is still to be done. I stayed up till 4 am last night and got between half and two-thirds of it done. I am waiting now for my children to head off to bed for another all-nighter. Lord help me, I will sleep on Friday.

In the midst of the millions of things to do, tonight we had Victoria's "friend party" for her birthday. Why did I make it for the 23rd of December? Is it because I am completely insane? Though that is a debatable possibility, it is not the reason I planned as I did. The reason I planned as I did was because High School Musical on Ice came to town today and opening night tickets were available at the highly bargained price of just $12 each. It was something I could not (or at least chose not to pass up) even though it is the night before CHRISTmas eve.

Can I just say I am so glad we did this tonight? I mean, like THRILLED glad.

"On the twenty-third day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me...the joy of celebration."

My mom, my good friend Patty and I took Victoria and 4 of her little girlfriends to the show and it was so much fun. It's always fun to have a girls' night out, but this night had a whole new spin on it. Even taking the girls to the bathroom was a blast. I took Victoria and her little friends A & K, and the three of them had a blast standing in line doing souped up versions of patty cake. I'm sure that's not what it's called, but I'm not so cool as to know the right name... something about "lemonade, crunchy ice..." and the physical part of it is way more intensive than traditional patty cake too, but it was fun, like super fun!

I love that the girls are so joyful, intensely joyful. Life should be like that, especially when you're celebrating something as important as someones birth! Tonight we celebrated Victoria's with vigor. Everyday we should celebrate the Lord's birth like that!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 22, 2008

Today I had some nice quiet time to myself. I sat in a chair with a good book (not to be confused with THE Good Book) and I read while listening to and watching the rain outside. It was peaceful, the kids weren't around, I was bundled up in comfy sweat pants and a warm sweatshirt. It was nice.

The only downside was it wasn't in my own home, but rather in the waiting room of our local hospital while my husband was having surgery on his knee. I had a long list of things that wasn't getting done but it didn't matter. I was where I was most needed, and somehow I found peace in the midst of it, even when I had to referee battles between my sons via cell phone. I am fortunate that my oldest son, though not always one to make the best decisions, is trustworthy and pretty responsible. I think back to the days when he was too young to be much help and I don't know how I managed, and I am thankful that these days I can rely on his more and more. He's becoming a man right before my eyes.

"On the twenty-second day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... a calm in the eye of the storm."

There is a lot of storminess going on in our lives, even some I don't necessarily share here on my blogs (shocking, I know), and it can rattle you. I think back to the story of Jesus in the storm. He has the power to speak to the winds and calm them, but I know He doesn't always choose to do that. Sometimes it has to be enough to know He in the storm with you, He's in your boat.

There is something about finding the quiet in the midst of a storm that replenishes your soul. It's like a cold drink when you are thirsty. You will be thirsty again (at least here in this life) but for the moment there is a little satisfaction. Once we left the hospital I felt the anxiousness rise back up a little, I'll just be honest, thinking about all I have left to do and how little time I have left to do it can be overwhelming, but I also know I will not be overcome by it.

I am also grateful to report that Neal has had a pain free day. We had to pay an unexpected $250 this morning for the "cold therapy unit" Neal's doctor prescribed because our insurance denied it as "not medically necessary." It may not be necessary, but it is certainly showing itself to be invaluable. I hope as my husband finds himself tethered to an outlet by this machine, unable to do much other than recuperate and rest, he finds the same replenishing in the calm of the storm as well.

May you all have a moment in the midst of your storm that God will provide you with a drink of cool water for your thirsty souls. In Jesus' name.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 21, 2008

"On the twenty-first day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... reminders of what CHRISTmas is really all about."

OK, I almost missed it, posting on the 21st day of CHRISTmas. I have been rushing around still trying to find those last couple gifts at stores open till midnight and later. It's been crazy, the rushing and the searching. I'm still not done, three days left and I have a husband having surgery and a seven-year-old's birthday party in the next 2 days. I am pressed, and I can easily get caught up in the hustle and bustle and lose all the joy.

But there are moments, moments that stop you in your tracks and make you think about what the Reason for the Season really is.

Today I had one of those moments. One of the youngsters in our church (am I that old that I have resorted to the use of the word "youngster"? I guess I am, but I digress.) Anyway, in service this morning this young man played a beautiful version of "What Child Is This?" on his cello while scenes form the movie The Nativity played silently on the screen behind him. It was powerfully moving, there was no singing, just his cello, and yet the lyrics ran through my mind all the while.

What child is this, who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap, is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

This Child, the Christ child, he came to earth surrendering all his majesty to be born an infant in a manger. The Father looking on from "heaven afar." This moment when all eternity was changed, my eternity was changed because God himself was willing to come here on earth to be my Emmanuel.

The thought occurred to me, when you know Jesus, when you have a personal relationship with Him, know Him as Savior, Healer and Friend, in every day there is a little CHRISTmas.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 20, 2008

"On the twentieth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the gift of fun."

Did you know that fun is not only something you can make, but it's also something you can choose to have, and while we're at it, it's something you can choose not to let other people spoil.

Today was a fun day. I had to choose in advance that it was going to be, because if I didn't CHRISTmas shopping 5 days before CHRISTmas at Mervyn's where EVERYTHING is now 70% off as they are closing for good, as well as at Wal-Mart, the most crowded place on the planet, was surely a recipe for one very un-fun day.

I chose to enjoy it. I chose to have fun when the people in line were hostile and rude. I chose to have fun when the lines were long... really long. When the old lady yelled at me because I was talking to my dad as I got in my car to go shopping and forgot to switch to speaker phone when I pulled out of my parking place. I still had fun, but she looked like she was making herself miserable flailing her arms at me and telling me to "get off the phone!" I even had fun when I pulled up along side her and nicely (truly) wished her a Merry CHRISTmas. She wished it back, but then I think she realized she had just yelled at me and rethought it. Even that was a little fun.

I even had fun when I stood in line forever at See's candies. (Who in their right mind goes there the Saturday before CHRISTmas??) I even had fun when I took inventory of all the kids gifts and realized I have more shopping to do because of unequal distribution of wealth. (It was so much easier when I had one child to buy for - quantity does matter.)

Tonight was easier fun. I had fun hanging with my daughter and taking her to a Cheetah Girls concert that I impulsively bought tickets to months ago. Fun, it's a wonderful gift, it's free and you can create it anytime, anywhere, and there is always more to be had and plenty to share. Thank you Lord for fun!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 19, 2008

"On the nineteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... "

Well, I hit a lull today. I'm not sure what to say here. It was a strange day. The little kids had pajama day and it was only a half day at school. That meant this morning I didn't have to get them dressed or make them a lunch. You would think that meant I would have a light and easy morning, but instead it meant I got caught up in too many non-essential things and got myself behind.

I went to work for a brief time and got very little done other than wrapping the gifts for my nieces and nephew in Virginia. They've been at the office for a couple weeks and I waited till today to package them to ship. Nothing like higher shipping charges. But they're worth it.

I went to the little kids' school and horned in on the last few minutes of Ethan's class party... it was TOTAL chaos, but they were having fun. Ethan's teacher even seemed more relaxed than she did even at the Thanksgiving event, I think she's finding her groove. I took the kids home and we rested for a little while. And then we picked up the very messy house because the repairman was coming over.

Jake got home, I took a phone call from the hospital about Neal's surgery on Monday. They have arbitrarily moved it back to another hour later but still want us there at the same time. We talked through my annoyance on that one. (Translation, I told her I didn't like it, she told me it didn't matter.)

The repairman came, and Tuesday I get to spend about $600 to get some heating pipes replaced because the vent at the roof is cracking and when it rains, it comes inside my house where it doesn't belong. Then I got to tell Neal how much money we're spending on something neither of us will get great pleasure out of using, but neither of us can afford to do without. I also had to remind him that we deal with one of the few honest heating and air companies in the OC and if he says $600, it's undoubtedly a fair price.

Neal still gets riled about these things a little, I have come to the conclusion we will always be in debt. (Remember we are still paying for his summer hospital stay and now get to add Monday's surgery to the mix.) Debt is apparently our lot in life, and yes, we tithe.

Today is my mom's birthday and because I was stranded at home dealing with household issues, she had to come here to get her gift. That was much appreciated. The kids and I bought her a CHRISTmas cookie jar, it looks like a gingerbread house. This is one of those gifts you buy for the people who have everything.

Neal went out and picked up barbecue for dinner because the 4 leftover ribs my dad gave him yesterday weren't enough to satisfy Neal, Victoria and me. (YES, it's me and not I, take out the other names and it confirms the grammar.)

Aha... I got it...

"On the nineteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the ability to go with the flow."

It's a rare and exceptional gift for a recovering control freak like myself, so I will appreciate that I am not freaking out about the $600 bill, or the surgery on Monday, or the bill that will flow that, or the $3500 bill from summer that is now still $3450 after all my payments... Deep breath, I think I'll stop there before I lose my flow.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 18, 2008

Well, the weather was a little more bearable today, it was dry, that was a good start, but the cold is still a bit much, but even that has improved. The only really bad battle I had with the cold today was when I was standing outside after I dropped the kids off at school waiting for the Auto Club to show up because my battery was dead when I tried to leave. As a side note for you AAA members, if you ever need to replace a battery, do it through them. They come right to you and the battery comes with a 6 year warranty, the first 3 years of which is a "total replacement" warranty. And if they ever have to come out for your battery in those 6 years, it doesn't count against your 4 service calls per year. It was a really good way to take care of a problem I would have preferred NOT to have had, but if I had to have it, it couldn't have been smoother, and all for right around $120. Enough said.

As pleasant as that crisis went (in the relativity of pleasantness and crises) I do not choose that for my gift today. (Though it might be considered like a stocking stuffer from God.) And yes, OK, maybe crisis is too strong a word, but I can't think of a better one at the moment.

"On the eighteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... CHRISTmas caroling with my family."

Tonight was the little kids' CHRISTmas program at their school. It's been several years since we had a nighttime CHRISTmas program in our lives. When the kids were at Creekside it was always during the school day. Jake put on a couple great plays actually, but it didn't have quite the same feel. So tonight we experienced the new school's version of celebrating CHRISTmas.

The play itself was kind of.. um... different. All I can say is I would describe it as Dr. Seuss meets the Book of Luke. The nativity never rhymed quite like that before, so it was an interesting experience. But what I really enjoyed was what happened at the end of the program.

Rewind just a touch. When we got to the auditorium (sanctuary) to be seated they handed us candles. That seemed odd to me. After the program was over a small worship ensemble came up and we sang three of my favorite CHRISTmas carols, Joy to the World, O Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night. As we were singing people started lighting their candles and passing the light on to one another, it was a really incredible experience, very worshipful. The children sitting up in their sections in the front had glow sticks and they were singing and waving their arms. I looked over to my left and saw my son and my father singing robustly, it was awesome, three generations of my family singing praises to Jesus.

I hear people talk about having their families all sit together and sing CHRISTmas carols at a piano, or even actually going out and caroling, and I've never had that experience, but tonight I think it felt pretty close.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 17, 2008

"On the seventeenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... Candyland and CHRISTmas cookies under the CHRISTmas tree."

It is cold in California! I realize cold is a relative term, and many (including my Minnesota readers) may consider me a lightweight, but this born and bred California girl doesn't do weather in the 40's.

Today was cold all day, and rainy. Not drizzle rain, the sideways kind of wind blowing rain that shoots straight at you and makes using an umbrella sort of a moot point. It was cold and rainy when I got up early to drive Jake to school. It was cold and rainy when I took the little kids to school, and when I stopped for coffee and to pick up a sandwich for lunch on the way to work. When I headed over to the little kids' school for Victoria's cookie party, it was really cold and rainy and windy. All the time I spent in and out of the rain today brought a cold in my bones that I just couldn't shake.

So I broke one of my self-inflicted rules tonight, the "never miss a church service" rule, because I just couldn't take one more trip out into the rain and cold. My intention was to keep both of the little kids home with me. Neal had to go, he was playing drums for worship tonight and Jacob hates to miss youth group so my intention was to hang out with E & V, but E wanted to go to church too.

Victoria agreed to stay home, I think she'd had her fill of the chill too. So I spent the evening with my daughter playing Candyland and eating CHRISTmas cookies on the floor beneath our newly decorated tree. Even in the house it has been chilly, but the time with my girl at least warmed my heart. These days are fleeting, and it's really rare that I get one on one low key time with any of my children, so I really enjoyed it. We played like nine games I think and she won like six to my three (the darn gingerbread man was my demise) but it was fun.

Merry CHRTISTmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 16, 2008

On the sixteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the opportunity to witness the faith and kindness of children."

Today I am putting a care package together for my friend Jason (pictured top left) who is serving our country in Iraq (click on his picture to read more about him). I baked some things, bought some goodies and a small necessity he mentioned needing. I really enjoyed doing it for him. They are simple little things I can do that will hopefully brighten his day just a little as he puts his life on the line for our nation.

I decided to ask Ethan's teacher if maybe the class could do something for me to send along to bless and encourage him. They decided to make pop-up CHRISTmas cards and write notes inside. I took the time to read through them before I added them to the package tonight and they were just precious. Sweet, kind words from innocent young children, just sharing their love for Jesus and a little CHRISTmas cheer.

I really hope the package and the cards bless Jason, I know the process of putting it together and reading what those kids had to say really blessed me.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 15, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 15, 2008

OK, I'm going to be really honest here and just tell you, I am not feeling it right now. The CHRISTmas spirit, the joy, the anticipation, none of it. What I am feeling is a great deal of frustration with a healthy dose of anger at my first born son who did an absolute bonehead thing that got him a zero on a 300 point assignment taking an A+ grade and making it a low B.

Now, I try my best not to expect perfection from my children (since I am so often disappointed anyway) but there is a huge difference, HUGE difference between trying and failing and being a bonehead. And it is the "boneheadedness" of youth (I think I will coin that phrase) that I have absolutely zero tolerance for. His zero and my zero, well, it makes for some great unpleasantness on the old homestead. Enough said.

So as I sit here in my frustration and restrain myself from stringing him up by the nape of his neck, I had to ask myself, what gift do I feel like I have today (because at this moment, motherhood isn't it.)

So I thought for but a moment when I realized...

"On the fifteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me.... blogging."

Being able to come in here and vent on days like today, or rejoice in the good ones is a gift to me. I love to write, hence the URL of this website. I know that I'm good at writing. I can say that because it isn't some talent I have worked hard to hone or perfect, it's something that the Lord just enabled me to do. I come from a family full of artists, they can all paint or draw beautiful pictures, and I don't have the knack for it. I could improve my skill if I really worked at it, I mean I can doodle well enough but it's just not my thing.

On the other hand my mom has always said my palette is words, I can paint you a beautiful picture with them, or at least a vivid one, of the world, feeling, life. Again, it's not to say I am some brilliant writer, but I can hold my own. I struggle often with finding my place in the world, my ministry in which to serve, how I can reach out. Last year at a woman's retreat I was really struggling with a lot of the frustrations I feel in those areas and I felt like the Lord said, "write." It is a ministry and one that has no limits or bounds, I can write whenever I feel like it and about whatever I choose, and by having this blog, I have the joy of knowing someone might just stop by and read it, and if I'm lucky they might leave with a laugh or a chortle, perhaps some grain of truth or hope, maybe just a little encouragement, an it blesses me that it might just work out that way!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 14, 2008

So I'm taking a momentary break from trying to put CHRISTmas lights on the CHRISTmas tree, and I have failing bulbs, which always makes for an interesting experience. I am thankful for the gift of being able to walk away and take a breath and count to ten. But today is a really special day in our family, so I don't want to make that my 14th day of CHRISTmas gift.

"On the fourteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the joy of celebrating my daughter's life."

Today my precious Victoria celebrates her seventh birthday. That little joy came into the world with an attitude and she was always a challenge in the beginning. I think sometimes I enjoy her so much and love her so dearly because I had to work so hard to have her be a happy child. But from the day she was born she was always my girl, and she has always loved her mama. Few people in my life always think as highly of me as my little girl does, and it's not because I bribed her or manipulated her, for some reason she just loves me, bunches.

She was the daughter God promised me, long before I had any of my children. His promise of her was the only time in my life I heard God speak so clearly in my heart I thought I heard it with my ears. Her name comes from two scriptures the Lord gave me to hold to while I waited 10 years for God to fulfill His promise.

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—£our faith." I John 5:4

"For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! for the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.”
Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.
Galatians 4:27-28

I have so enjoyed being the mother of a precious little princess for the last seven years. I adore my sons too, but there is something different about having a daughter, there is a deep bond being the one who will lead her and teach her (hopefully) to be a woman of God. I look forward to the years ahead and hope we remain close and she always thinks I'm special, and always knows I think she's exceptional and special too.

Happy Birthday Victoria.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 13, 2008

"On the thirteenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... new friends."

We didn't exactly make the new friends today, but it just resonated in my heart again today about a new friendship I am enjoying and looking forward to watching it continue to grow. As a married couple with children it's always a rare treasure when you meet another married with children couple that you enjoy, and everyone likes each other, husbands like husbands, wives like wives and husband 1 likes wife 2, and wife 2 likes husband 1 and so forth.

It's exciting, and I think the closest thing you get after marriage to the excitement of dating someone new in your single days. (At least it better be the closest thing you experience to dating someone new, if you get what I'm saying.)

Neal and I have met the neatest couple at our church and we were talking tonight how we were just both drawn to wanting to get to know them better. We've been trying (all 4 of us) for months to get together and hang out, and only really managed it once so far, but you can just tell when you "click" with people and it is a great feeling. We're having fun and looking forward to continuing to build our new friendship, and the fact that the husband gave us the "deal of a lifetime" on our CHRISTmas tree today, is just icing on the cake! (And thanks to him the whole process of getting our tree this year is the best we've had in 17 years of marriage - so much so we even skipped the annual argument over the tree stand. Some traditions are better to let die.)

Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, December 12, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 12, 2008

"On the twelfth day of CHRISTmas my true love gave to me... the kindness of a stranger."

Today was a full day. It kicked off with bad news as I updated our accounts through Quicken (which I love by the way.) A "new" transaction came up for "Miscellaneous Adjustment" deducting several hundred dollars from our account. This was right before I left to take the little kids to school. So I called the bank on the speaker phone on the way there and long story short they have no record of a check I know absolutely positively deposited in the ATM. It's not an "I think," I KNOW that I KNOW I did. So they can "take a claim on that" and will get back to me within a few weeks and they MIGHT give me a temporary return of the money within 10 days. Really doesn't do much for my mortgage payment that's due Monday... good thing I didn't get to the bank this week on that one!

It just sort of set the whole day in motion, set a pace. I went to see Ethan get his award, and my camera wouldn't work on demand yet again. I had to run to Wal-mart, picked up a few things for Jason (above left) and gift cards for each of the kids to take to birthday parties they attended this evening. Scuttled off to work where there was a pile of miscellaneous messes and such and before I knew it it was time to head back to school to take Victoria's class the birthday cupcakes my dad had made for them. I hopped on the freeway thinking it would be moving ok before 2 pm, and I was wrong. I hustled through traffic and got there just in time. When we were done I had too much time to just wait around so I decided to take the extra cupcakes home.

As I was sitting at a stoplight I suddenly realized I had written the wrong name on the gift card I bought for Ethan to give as a gift. I pulled it out and was fiddling with it and apparently I wasn't focused and had let my foot off the break. I wasn't looking forward and I SLAMMED into the car in front of me. Slammed is a relative term because I didn't actually accelerate but I hit her hard, it was loud, it jarred me and I pushed her car into the truck in front of her.

We all hopped out of our cars. The truck in front had no damage, the little blue car in front of me had no damage in her front. My car was OK, but her back bumper had some definite scratches in it. it was like the outline of my licence plate. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I just kept saying it. "How could I do this? At CHRISTmas? I'm so sorry."

She wanted to check her trunk, make sure it opened ok. The man from the front wanted to make sure WE were ok. Her trunk opened fine. I told her I thought maybe it would buff out, but I wasn't sure, I would give her my info. She said, "No, it's OK, that's why we have cars." Honestly I have no idea exactly what she meant, I mean clearly she didn't mean we have cars so I could rear end her on the road while she sat peacefully at a red light, but I think she just meant as long as all the people were OK, nothing else mattered. She didn't want my info, I offered my phone number in case she reconsidered, she said no, it was fine and she stood there and hugged me and told me it was all alright, right there in the middle of La Palma.

She was a kind woman when I needed a little kindness, and I hope God will bless her for her grace and mercy... and I pray those scratches will buff out!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 11, 2008

Have you ever felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole? (Suddenly I am flashing back to the 1980's and I can see Sarah Jessica Parker in her virginal days with big thick glasses and a goofy, chubby friend and the song is going through my head... "Square pegs, square pegs... Square!... PEGS!""

I often feel that way in practically every area of my life, family, friends, church, amid my children's activities. Square peg, round hole. It can be disheartening, sometimes it can be down right depressing. It is always challenging.

"On the eleventh day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the power to choose."

The power of choice, it's a wonderful gift. Honestly it's a gift often misused, or foolishly unused, but it's a gift just the same. I'm not sure I know how to use it right now. I have a lot of things hurting and frustrating me and I am grateful that I have the power to choose, even if the gift has to stay on the shelf I am grateful that it's there.

I have the power to choose my attitude about things, I have the power to choose my words, or the lack of them as I see fit. I have the power to choose to trust God one more day, even when it seems like there is really no hope, I have the power to choose to put my hope in Christ and His promises to me anyway.

It's a wonderful, wonderful gift, and right in this moment it is a gift I am placing on my spiritual shelf in and about a lot of things, but I can choose to use it when the time comes and choose to pray and wait upon the Lord in the meantime.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 10, 2008

This is a busy week for me. It's CHRISTmas Tea week at my church, and I joyfully participate and serve in the Raffle Ticket ministry. Relax, it isn't really gambling since all the money goes to outreach ministries. It's a fun week, but a long and busy one, coming home, trying to get homework out of the way for Neal. It also happens to be the week before my daughter's birthday, so there is planning for that. There's still dinners to be made, lunches to be packed. Next week are school CHRISTmas parties, which I apparently volunteered for the one in 1st grade back on Back to School Night and I completely forgot... I know I thought, well it's near Tori's birthday so that will be easy... Uh, hello? But it's fun, and it is what it is, CHRISTmas, birthday, Tea, Raffles, it's December!(Don't I still have a lot of shopping to do? And wrapping? And we don't even have a CHRISTmas tree yet!)

"On the tenth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the men in my life."

I am so blessed to have a husband who last night I left with a messy house and came home to one far more picked up. Tonight I came home to him washing the dishes for tomorrow night's tea where I will hostess a table and attend rather than sell raffle tickets.

And I am blessed to have a dad who is willing to make cupcakes tomorrow night while he babysits my children while Neal plays waiter at the tea so Victoria can have a birthday snack with her friends at school on Friday afternoon.

I love these two men, who love and bless me and totally help me out of a bind!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 9, 2008

Straight to the point...

"On the ninth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me.... girlfriends."

They are sisters in the Lord, to laugh with, to cry with (to laugh till you cry with.) They are friends who love you when you're scattered or naughty, who'll maybe even be a little naughty with you. It is a gift from the Lord.

You know who you are, and I love and appreciate you, I can be me and know you love and accept me "warts and all." I can be real, and you will be real, there is nothing else like the security of knowing someone gets you, understands your shortcomings, listens to your frustrations, stops you when you've gone on too long or said too much.

These are the people who can quote you the scripture, "wounds of a friend," and you know it's true. These are the ones who stand in the gap (and stand in the crap) with you and for you.

Thank You Lord, for my girlfriends. And by the way, after the holidays, we totally need to plan a "Girl's Night Out!" (Or in!)

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 8, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 8, 2008

The Lord was swift with my gift today. The moment I received it, there was no doubt it was going to be the best gift of my day.

"On the eighth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the gift of the still small voice."

I am relatively certain that my sensitivity to the voice of the Lord today was helped by the fact that I got up this morning and spent time with Him first. I have to be honest, I have really been struggling with a devotional program. The struggle is that I don't have one. And when I look at this giant book of possibilities and I don't know where or how to begin, my decision is more often than not to retreat and not begin at all.

This morning was no different in that I didn't know where to begin, but the determination to begin anyway was a bit stronger. First I looked up an old archived Beth Moore devotional. I think it's unfortunate that they are no longer continuing, but since I never consistently used them anyway, there is the wealth of the archive to be found for me. I ran across one on the second chapter of Luke and went with it since it seems to be a bit of a theme for me lately. It spoke of the things Mary pondered in her heart in the manger.

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:16-19

Beth talked about the possible things Mary had pondered in that moment, the visit of the angel, the doubt of Joseph, the suspicions of her family, the moment when Joseph believed the truth that she was carrying the Christ child, everything coming to fulfillment in that moment as the shepherds drew near at the call of the angels, what a wonderful full hearted moment it must have been, to know God had spoken.

Now I have spoken of far loftier things than I experienced later on this morning. I got out of the kids school rather quickly, and Neal informed me he was going to run an errand on his lunch hour. I made what I intended to be a quick stop at the grocery store for a few lighter snacks, because I am realizing (yet again) I need desperately to do something about my weight.

My intention of being quick was quickly thwarted by both the slow moving woman in front of me and her rather full cart, which she chose to empty onto the conveyor at a very leisurely pace. The all to chatty cashier of this only open line was no help either, as she was chatting at the man in line in front of the slow paced woman in front of me... and he was behind a woman who also stepped to the beat of her very own slow tempo'd drum, going entirely through her purse before walking away from the line. Sigh, SIGH - that was me. It was the chatted at man too, I say chatted at because he didn't respond as the cashier picked at him about being grumpy. He was an employee apparently on his break and he simply wanted his banana rung up. (Did you catch all that?)

Just in the moment when I was really about to let myself get fully riled to the point of irritability that's when I felt the little supernatural poke. Psst, is that the CHRISTmas spirit you've been looking for? The CHRISTmas spirit you have proclaimed ot have found?? The Holy Spirit pricked my spirit and changed my attitude. I was able to shake it off in an instant. It was miraculous.

By the time I got to the front I was transformed into P&P, the Pleasant and Polite. The cashier noted the pin on my sweater, like the tab here on my page; it says, "It's OK to say Merry Christmas."

"I like you pin," she said, "I need to get one like it." I was carrying more than half a dozen in my pocket for just such s moment as this... "Here," I said, "merry CHRISTmas." Her reply was "Praise the Lord!"

Yes indeed, praise the Lord for His faithfulness and pricking that enabled me to brighten someones day instead of rain upon it.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 7, 2008

Well, my house isn't decorated, we have no tree yet, and the lights aren't all up outside and I don't have a single indoor decoration on display. My shopping is far from done, and nothing I have bought is wrapped yet, but it is official, I am filled with the Christmas Spirit.

I'm all focused, my heart is where it's supposed to be, Jesus is the Reason, and the focus of this season. And it's wonderful. Today was a busy day, but it was a wonderful one. It's sort of appropriate that it's the seventh day, which I believe stands for the number of completion, or perfection, either would apply, because somehow despite all that isn't quite done, I feel perfectly complete.

"On the seventh day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the joy in worship."

I've shared in the past my struggles in worship, I am easily distracted, unable to focus, but it wasn't like that this morning. Worship services started with the CHRISTMas carol, Angels We Have Heard on High and my heart was captured up into God's presence as we sang the chorus, "gloria in excelsis Deo," which means "glory to God in the highest." In the bible, second chapter of Luke it says,

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest,and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

It is the truth of CHRISTmas. I thought I would share here with you a clip from the CHRISTmas musical Victoria was in this past week, this is from Wednesday night's performance, and it captures the heart of CHRISTmas, of worship, of the Light of the world, the one of Whom we sing, "Gloria, in excelsis deo; glory to God in the highest!"

Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 6, 2008

Today was a lazy and relaxed day. My kids were off at grandma's house all day making Christmas cookies, it's a tradition they have developed over the last couple years. (Watch for the pictures that they apparently took on Monday's weekend update over at the family blog.) Neal was at work, he's working Saturdays this month so the shop can shut down between Christmas and New Year's (and he can recuperate from his impending knee surgery.)

I had a long list of things I should have done, and I didn't do a single one. Well, I guess I did do a couple loads of laundry, but not much else. I probably would have stayed in my pajamas all day except I had to drive the kids to my mom's house for the cookie event. I did do some top secret Christmas work, but I can't go into detail because you never know who might stop by and read your blog.

"On the sixth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... a little peace and quiet."

It's a rare commodity around here, and probably why it's so hard to work when I have it, every moment has to be relished. Of course, I can never get anything done when they're around either, so I guess I will have a clean house some other day.

It's gone now, the quiet at least. The kids came home with dozens of cookies that they made, and there was chaos over the unveiling, arguments over whose is whose. Now in there is a barrage of knock knock jokes being told in the background, continual interruptions... I know, I know, there are lots of moms who will tell me I will some day miss these days, and they are probably right, but sometimes in the midst of them there is something to be said for a short break. It was needed, the quiet peace, and it was enjoyed.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 5, 2008

I think I am actually feeling the CHRISTmas spirit. There is something wonderful about looking for the Lord in my day, looking for gifts and blessings from Him. Sometimes I will suddenly be in the midst of experiencing something fun or wonderful, and I think "is this my gift, is this what I am going to want to share about in tonight's post?" Or other days I have come home and set down and reflected on the whole day, I've even had a day I had to choose between blessings to share about the one that blessed me most.

Today was a really good day, but choosing the gift was really easy, deciding how to describe it is the challenge. Should I call it good news? (Not THE Good News, but good news just the same); or should I called it answered prayer or an unexpected blessing? How about the gift of a praise report? Any one of these would be a good description of the gift I got today, but not the description I decided on.

"On the fifth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the gift of hope."

I have shared somewhat at length here about the struggles my son Ethan has been having at school. He's had a hard time, with the kids, settling in and especially with his teacher and getting into trouble. Today when I picked him up he told me he was on "happy blue" on his behavior chart; that was the fourth time just this week! I cannot express to you how miraculous that is. When I picked him up, Ethan came running up to tell me and he handed me a note. Actually first he handed me the note, so there was a long concerning moment before he told me about "happy blue"... you know how notes home can be. But when I opened it it said Ethan is getting an award at chapel next week! (Ssshhh... don't tell Ethan, it's a surprise!) When Victoria got her award last month for "respect and kindness" my heart was low because I thought Ethan would never have a shot at getting acknowledged for his fine character. (Even though I believe he has it!)

I have actually been avoiding Ethan's teacher most of the week, I just didn't want to hear any negativity, because it seemed even if she had something good to say there was always a negative counterpart. But when I opened the note she called me over and said she could tell me what it was for. She told me how when she looked at the list of possible awards she got excited when she saw "wisdom" because she knew that fit him.... Did you catch that? She was actually looking for something good about Ethan! I said, "It's been a good week, huh?" and she said "Yeah! It's like he's a different kid." Wow, dare I say it... I don't think he's the only one being different!

This is the first weekend all year long that I'm not dreading Monday. I have hope that maybe... just maybe we've reached a turning point, and yuo know what? Hope is a very good feeling!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 4, 2008

Well, last night I went to bed, as I described in last night's post, with my heart feeling very full.... Apparently the gravitational effects of laying flat on my back for six hours (that's right, I only got 6 hours of sleep) emptied that cardiovascular organ of mine right out!

OK, not quite, but it really was a tough morning. Today was library day for the littler kids at school and a lost library book by a child who'd been told every day this week to find it sort of put me in that lecturing mother mode, and that's just never a fun place to be. And I tend to be one of those moms who plays that role with just a little too much gusto. I had to ban him from library use for the day (because the lesson about keeping it where I told him, and looking when I'd asked him needed to be driven home... oops, I guess I just outed Ethan.) He was dropped at school not feeling very happy.

Pick up in the afternoon didn't kick off very well either. Victoria was putting on a full court press to go into the bathroom and put her tights back on. These were the very same tights she had her teacher call me about just before lunch asking permission to take them off. I wasn't on board with a stop in the restroom to change when as soon as we get home they have to take their uniforms off anyway, but she was, let's just say, relentless... I asked her, "Victoria, does whining at me get you your way or does it get you in trouble?" She knew the right answer, didn't care, so my blood pressure was on a slow steady rise the whole dramatic walk out to the car. (A filling of the heart that isn't nearly so positive.) And the sentencing of a 20 minute time out came swiftly.

As I was putting the kids in the car Ethan informed me he did not eat his whole lunch, to which Victoria proudly responded that she ate all of hers. For some reason in that moment it occurred to me that I had ordered hot lunch for her today and never should have packed her one in the first place. Brilliantly (not) I made the realization out loud. Which set off a whole new dramatic turn about the elusive bean and cheese burrito that had been lost to my daughter forever.

"On the fourth day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me... the gift of a reprieve."

We all had a complaint, many somewhat valid. Everyone was unhappy with someone, as for me, I was unhappy with everyone, including myself. (Wasting $4 kind of burns my butt.) It was a pivotal moment at which I announced, "That's it! We ALL messed up today, we all blew it! Let's just let it go and start over." Ethan said, "Yeah mom, should we just forget it like we don't remember it happened?" I told him, "Yes, let's just let it go."

My daughter is no slacker, she said, "That means I don't have to have my time out, right?" No, she didn't. Grace in action! And a call home to Jake solved the problem of the missing library book. (It was on the desk in the boys room. When Ethan heard that he said, "that was really dumb, huh?" Yeah, huh.) Victoria came home and put on some old stained tights with runs up the front of them, and she was happy with that. I'm still irked by the $4, but I choose to just LET IT GO!!!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Christmas Upside Down - AWESOME!

This is definitely worth watching and a blessed addition to 25 Days of CHRISTmas. Go down and pause the music player at the bottom of this page before clicking play to watch the video. I hope you enjoy it!

Upside Down from Pace Hartfield on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 3, 2008

Right now, I feel the best I've felt in a long time. I'm not sure how to describe it... it's my heart, it feels very... full.

This morning was a pretty great morning. My wonderful husband called me on the phone to pray for our kids before they got off on their day. Then I prayed with all the kids, even though it was in the midst of morning busyness, each taking our turns, calling out our prayers from different rooms. On the way driving Ethan and Victoria to school I started to sing and they joined right in. We sang "This Is the Day" (echo, the Lord has made.. I will rejoice...and be glad in it..) , then Joy to the World (my most favorite Christmas carol - Tori wanted to switch to Rudolph, but I kept her on point with my intention to focus...) And then we sang one more little song, the words go like this...

Oh be careful little eyes what you see, oh be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down at you with love, so be careful little eyes what you see.
Oh be careful little ears what you hear, oh be careful little ears what you hear, for the Father up above is looking down at you with love, so be careful little ears what you hear.
Oh be careful little mouth what you say, oh be careful little mouth what you say, for the Father up above is looking down at you with love, so be careful little mouth what you say.
Oh be careful little hands what you do, oh be careful little hands what you do, for the Father up above is looking down at you with love, so be careful little hands what you do.
Oh be careful little feet where you go, oh be careful little feet where you go, for the Father up above is looking down at you with love, so be careful little feet where you go.

As I sang it it was part prayer, part exhortation to my children. Watching them in the rear view mirror sing along, it touched my heart.

On the third day of CHRISTmas my true love gave to me.... the gift of perspective.

Yes, I know, there are many of you out there fully blessed already, each and every day, with the gift of perspective. Alas, I am not one of you. So when I have that clarity, it is nothing if not a gift from my true Love.

Tonight was the first performance (of three) on the children's Christmas program at our church. I was proud watching my daughter sing up there, proud of herself and feeling wonderful in her new glasses. And as the children sang about the names of God and who Christ is, what this CHRISTmas is truly about, it filled my heart and blessed me. The hassles of bills, and surgeries and even my children's struggles dimmed in the light of who my true Love is. I had considered it a burden to have three showings of this musical in my future... now I can hardly wait to go back Friday night!

Merry CHRISTmas!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 2, 2008

So today was a little challenging, trying to pick out the one thing in the day that I felt like was a gift from the Lord. It was confirmed today Neal will be having surgery, turns out my daughter needed glasses and we had the expense (sudden and somewhat unexpected) of the exam and the glasses. (And because she has expressed fears of being rejected if she wore glasses I spent a little more on a pair she liked.) The troubles with Ethan don't seem much better, and in fact I have concerns about how much he could be exacerbating the problem now. It was kind of a muddy uphill kind of day.

I did get a very nice note of encouragement from a man in our church when I sent out the most recent prayer request. It's the second or third such letter he's sent me. I considered the possibility it would be what I counted today.

So a few minutes ago I did my nightly ritual of blog checking, numbers on my own, posts on those I follow, and as I did I scanned down the page of our family blog and the post I wrote about my daughter and her new glasses. So here goes...

On the second day of CHRISTmas my true Love gave to me.... my daughter's smile.

She looks so lovely and loved, sure of who she is and who she belongs to. Why do we lose that? After we bought the glasses I thought she looked just adorable (honestly the picture doesn't do her justice) and I said it two or three times as we walked out of the Lens Crafters. She turned to me beaming, "I know, I do!" And she does, and in that moment, no fear of being called "four eyes" or friends disapproving were of any issue. She saw herself clearly, and it was reflected in her smile, and that is a gift to me from my true Love, and so I thank Him for it.

Merry CHRISTmas!

Monday, December 1, 2008

25 Days of CHRISTmas - December 1, 2008

OK, so I'd like to commit to doing this every day for the next 25 days, but in all likelihood, it won't work out, as demonstrated by the historic 30 Days of Praise, which to this day remain 3 days shy of completion. (I still stand on the implication that I never really said they would be 30 consecutive days... Yeah, that's the slippery slope I'm standing on.) Anyway, once again I digress.

So I have already confessed I've caught a bit of the bah-humbugs, and am struggling to find the Christmas spirit; so I am, for the sake of my family and self, trying to truly seek it. I'm looking for the Christ in CHRISTmas, the "reason for the season," the whole truth behind the hoopla.

Truly Christmas is not about the gifts we give or get, but rather about the Gift already given some 2000 years ago in a manger in a far off land. (Sounds almost magical, but is actually absolute unadulterated fact.) And this Gift given continually gives, He is in the heart of all that is good and all that truly matters, Author and Finisher of my faith. (I speak these things in faith through struggles of feelings amidst challenging times.) So I have decided one way to find my Christ in CHRISTmas is to look for Him each day in my daily life. Every day, EVERY day, He is working in my life, the Bible tells me so, and I need to be watchful. So for the 25 days of Christmas it is my goal to share (each day?) the gift "My true Love gave to me..." And I am going to share with you here the gift I have unwrapped each of the days that I continue this post series. (And I figure since I have also used a bit of the 12 Days of Christmas in my plan, I have a little grace on how many days I manage to stick with the task at hand betweennow and December 25th.)

So, here we go...

"On the first day of CHRISTmas my true love gave to me... a burden to pray."

This is truly a gift for me. People all the time tell me, "you're such a prayer warrior." Oh how I desperately wish that were true. I will pray, in the moment as I'm asked, I've even thrown people off because I'll just grab them and do it right then in the middle of wherever. And yes, when I pray, I often pray scripture, even authoritatively, but it's not because I am a prayer warrior. It's because if I don't do it then, I might not do it at all. And as for the praying of scripture, well, it's the only way I can be somewhat certain I'm praying correctly.

I do think about prayer a lot, and I'm hoping God gives partial credit on intending to pray, that thinking I should pray for the person maybe, sort of, kind of counts as an actual prayer. Maybe? But as I myself would define a prayer warrior, I do not qualify. I know those precious people, given to intercession, I have many of them on my speed dial for when crises arise. But me, I fall far from the calloused knees of the warriors of prayer.

Right now there are many for whom I think to pray, and I'm trying hard, dare I say asking God's help to actually remember to pray; a friend's ailing mother, a couple of coaches I don't think know the Lord, a friend facing relational challenges, there is an entire list. Today I even stuck a sticky note of names on my computer monitor at work to help me remember. I'm trying to use certain regular indicators in my day as reminders, for example a friend who dreads going to her job, I'm trying to use my own dread of dropping Ethan at school as a catalyst to pray for her.

So tonight as I sat watching Victoria in her gymnastics class, when the overwhelming burden to pray for each of these precious people came upon me, I knew it was not of self, it was a gift, from the Gift who is ever and faithfully working in my life and on my behalf to grow me into a woman of God... maybe even someday a warrior in prayer.

Thank you my true Love, for this gift You have given me today. Merry CHRISTmas.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In Search Of

If you're old enough, you might remember the the TV series back from the late 70s/ early 80's. If I try really hard I can close my eyes and hear the voice of Mr. Spock, aka Leonard Nimoy giving the description of that week's episode, they would search for a variety of different things. The intro went through the list, "extraterrestrials, magic & witchcraft, missing persons, myths & monster, lost civilizations, strange phenomena." Then the voice claim over explaining how they were just exploring a possible explanation based on "theory and conjecture," that it was by no means "the only one." They definitely hedged their bets. Ah, but I once again digress.

My whole rabbit trail of thought began with the sense that I find myself "in search of" the Christmas spirit. November has been a long month, working toward the end of what has been a long year. I am finding myself somewhat disheartened by the pressures of Christmas that lie ahead. Yesterday morning I started my Christmas shopping. I found myself suddenly longing for the days of old when I used to be so organized and prepared, having every gift bought and wrapped by Halloween. It may have actually only been one Christmas that I managed that, but I did so enjoy it, and do remember it fondly. Every year I swear I will achieve it again, and every year the Christmas season sneaks up on me. This year though it seems like it snuck up so much more swiftly and so much father into it, a disadvantage of the late Thanksgiving holiday, I suppose.

So anyway, yesterday I did do most of the big item shopping for my children online. I got pretty purposeful in the whole thing, and Neal mistook my determination to get it done, and done properly for a touch of the Christmas spirit. It wasn't. I spent all of today addressing Christmas cards. After several years of failing to send them I was determined we would manage to get them out on time this year. I spent a lot of the day barking at my children as they kept interrupting me as I addressed some 93 cards at last count. Still no bite of the Christmas bug.

I look to the event of the coming days not at all excited, but rather burdened by three performances of the children's program, a 4 night commitment to our women's event. I even forgot to invite people as I got lost in death, funerals, fires and medical issues over the last few weeks. I'm exhausted.

Today Neal got to decorating the outside of our house for the holiday. It's a big thing for him and the kids, he really tries to be the brightest home on the block, and we have actually had neighbors complain if we didn't come home and turn on our lights at night. As he was working outside Victoria wandered in a couple times with a few indoor decorations she found. I let her put them up, but I wasn't in to it at all. The thought of getting and decorating a Christmas tree? Fuggetaboutit. Not looking forward to it, at all.

So I find myself In Search Of the elusive and mysterious Christmas spirit. I need to find the "magical" feelings of childhood and joy. I want to be excited about the celebrating of the birth of my Savior. I want to truly share in the joy of my children and husband instead of just worrying about whether or not I can fake it well enough not to rip them off of it instead. I wish Christmas spirit could be found in a pretty package, and not one that says "Do Not Open til December 25th."

I'm sorry if this post is depressing, it's not my intention, but this blog is my place of transparency. I envy all the poeple I have heard say, or read their words stating that they "love this time of year." This year, I just don't find myself there... yet, I pray in Jesus' name.

Lord, let me find You in the holiday season. Help me not to focus on the lists or events, help me not to be overwhelmed by the tasks. I pray You would help me to remember the true meaning of CHRISTmas. I don't want to celebrate a holiday, I want to celebrate YOU.

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

Hmmm... what was that? I think I just felt a little Christmas Spirit....

Monday, November 24, 2008


This is my friend Jason. He is a soldier, currently serving our great country in Iraq; he's a specialist, fighting on the front lines.

Do you like my big gun? Petting my first Iraq dog and probibly last. I dont think any of the rest of them are this tame, or clean. Yes I still washed my hands after

To my knowledge, Jason isn't a believer in Jesus Christ. But he's there fighting in this war because of the things he does believe in, he reinlisted for the sole purpose of going to help in this war. He has given me permission to pray for him, and to ask you to pray for him too, and his buddies. I've known Jason since I was just 14 years old, even dated him for a very short time way back in the 80's. He's been my and Neal's friend for a long time.

Please pray for him, and his fellow soldiers in the 185th. Pray for his protection, pray for his safety and his salvation. When I asked him if I could pray, and ask you all to pray too, here is a little of what he had to say...

"YESSSS! that would be great and thank you for the prayer. Not to sound greedy and I'm sure the guys would agree. We would take all the Prayers we can get. Invincible, NO WAY! But we do try to stay focused and alert and have confidence in each others abilities. reality is a big punch in the face here. Its not training any more. This is the real deal.... It's nice to know that when I climb into the turret and load my weapons. That I have Angels looking over me. This is a crazy job but somebody has to do it."

If you want to commit to keeping Jason in prayer, leave me a comment to do so, if you can't make the commitment then just stop right now as you read this and pray for him and his fellow soldiers. You can also send notes or letters to me at GodKptHisPromise@aol.com, and I will gladly forward them on.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It Grieves Me

It won't make me popular, but it really weighs so heavy on my heart. Neal and I used to be youth leaders, and I see so many of those now young adults in the church today and they are living with one foot in the world and another in the church, they're there every Sunday morning, maybe even serving in ministry, but they're fighting headaches from hangovers from the night before. They're instructing the kids, telling them to make good choices, keep themselves undefiled, and then they go home and watch programming or listen to music that promotes, even exalts a lifestyle totally contradictory to biblical truth.

I cruise the MySpace Pages and Facebooks and I see all these comments and interests that really need to be taken stock of. They choose political correctness because righteousness isn't "cool." I wonder if it's become so acceptable that the conviction of the Holy Spirit has become completely squashed or do they live with some certain level of discomfort and lack of peace in their lives all the time? If they do, do they even recognize where it comes from?

As Christians we are to be IN the world, but not OF the world. But when living LIKE the world is there any effectiveness anywhere? Surely it soils the testimony to the unbelieving when your friends who don't know the Lord don't see any difference in you. And I worry about what influence you're having on those who come behind, those who see you walking a crooked path. It makes me really sad when I see it among people who I knew to once love and serve the Lord with commitment in their youth but have allowed themselves to be led astray without counting the cost, not only to themselves but to the peril of others.

I remember one time when Neal and I were young Christians and we went to Magic Mountain with a "believing" friend and Neal's unsaved brother (at least, I think at the time) and my "Christian" friend wore this Christian t-shirt and then spent the whole day gawking at and hitting on women, speaking disrespectfully to them, being lewd even, all the while having the name of Christ emblazoned across his chest. I just wanted to beg him to take off the shirt. He was a bad influence and a bad witness. I want to cry out to so many people I see living such worldly lives and I want to cry out "Don't tell them you're a Christian!"

I'm not saying I'm perfect, Lord knows I fail every day, but I try to respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit when it comes, I try to live honestly before my friends and family and admit my failures and turn back to God and ask Him yet again to change me. But I see so many young people at a crossroads, people I love and care about, they don't realize that the decisions they make in their late teens and early 20's can stay with them for the rest of their lives. God is a redeeming God, but you can and often will bear the scars of your choices now for a lifetime to come. Don't play games or serve the Lord halfheartedly, it is the lukewarm that He spits out of His mouth.

Don’t misunderstand me, there are also those I see that make me so proud, they have lived the life rightly before God, not perfect, but real, and true to what they believe. There are even those who have gone astray but have turned back to the Lord and are living testimonies of His redemptive work. But my heart weighs heavy with fear and concern for those who think they can live a double life, and I wonder why they would even want to?

You have to know who you are and what you believe, and then live like it. There is no room for compromise.

"I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn't make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn't mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue- or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn't act as if everything is just fine when one of your Christian companions is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house." 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 The Message

Friday, November 21, 2008

Rejected - Addendum

I was just reading back over my post "Rejected" from a couple of days ago, and I want to clarify, it is not my intention to paint his teacher as a villain in the situation we are dealing with. I don't think she is the source of the problem. I think the source is the change and transition he's going through. I think perhaps she's not able to help him as much as I'd like, and I think she's a young teacher and can obviously learn more about how to deal with different kinds of kids and their personalities, but I also believe that her heart is good.

I think she wants to help Ethan, maybe she doesn't know how to any better than I do. I think she is a straight shooter, and sometimes when people are talking about your kids, you need a little more of a buffer than a straight shot. I'm very pragmatic myself, so I know I have stepped on my fair share of toes unintentionally. I have a critical eye, I see the faults and shortcomings in things more easily than the positives, but I have learned to look for the good, maybe she needs to do that? I don't know. Maybe it's something as simple as working on her delivery?

I do know Ethan's teacher is a lovely young woman who loves Jesus and is in teaching because she wants to help and minister to kids, I do believe that. She's no villain in this struggle, I just wanted to clarify that. Hopefully God will use this situation to grow all of us up in Him, and I'll come out a better parent, Ethan a better student and her a better teacher, and all of us just a little closer to Jesus.

If You Are A Mom

Then you have to check out this post on another blog I recently discovered. And I encourage you wholeheartedly, GO FOR IT! GET INVOLVED! GIVE IT A SHOT! This blogger reviewed the concept so beautifully, I want you to tour through her neighborhood on your way to the big event!


Or go directly to the source. The Mother Letter Project

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


My mother's heart is hurting tonight. My sweet Ethan is still really having a hard time adjusting to his new school. Yesterday he was on a continuous downward spiral at school. On his behavior chart he moved from green, to "bad green" to first yellow and eventually held his own on "bad yellow" before sliding into red, which I believe actually leads to administrative involvement. As it was, he lost like 10 minutes of a recess which is high cost to him. Honestly I can't even recall what the offenses were, I know a lot of busyness and not staying in his seat, he does this new nervous smirky thing that was offending his teacher too. Needless to say it was a really bad day.

What broke my heart though was the conversation we had at home afterwards. He's been getting in more trouble lately, a lot at school, some at church, even at home. I don't know what to make of his acting up. Yesterday we sat and talked about the importance of making good choices, he kept asking me, "am I on thin ice?" I asked him what he meant and he wanted to know was he close to being in a lot of trouble. Truthfully, I felt like since he had paid a price at school for not sitting in his seat and such that I didn't need to re-punish him at home. I tried to explain to him that his bad choices were giving people a bad impression of who he is. I tried to explain that at this school he's new, so all they see is what he shows them, they don't have a history to know that maybe he's just going through a bad time.

He just looked so dejected. Last year he was doing great in his academics, this year he is struggling a lot. Math, which he was an ace at in 1st grade, is really hard. And I am saying I think it's really hard. Something is awry if a 38 year old woman cannot figure out 2nd grade math. But that aside, I look at my son and I know he's hurting, so I asked him if there was more going on.

He absolutely erupted into tears. He was so hysterical I couldn't understand him for several minutes. My heart just broke for him. I held him, hugged him, and waited for him to calm. I asked him finally to try to explain to me what it was. He told me there is something that "spooks" him at his new school that wasn't there at the old one. I think what he's trying to express is the sense of intimidation. I just think those were the best words a 7-year-old could come up with to express that sentiment, because I don't think he could be referring to anything actually spooky. Spiritually, I believe his new school is a good place, a godly place, maybe even more so than the old school, at least at the highest levels (his teachers were pretty special.) He feels so disheartened. He told me he only has one friend and that no one else likes him. I think the "friend" he's talking about is another little girl in his class who is struggling, and that he reached out to her because he sees it.

It's hard, he is the new kid, and all the other kids have been together since kindergarten. The cliques are set, and no one is looking for new members. I sense the same thing even among the parents. There have been a couple moms who I would call welcoming, but literally, I can think of maybe three, and the rest are not welcoming. Even his teacher, there is this sense of rejection there.

Today it was my turn to cry. This morning we talked all the way to school about choices and attitudes and how to be a good friend. I told him, "you are not a rude boy, so don't act rudely; you are not mean, don't act meanly." We talked about sitting still and not making those smirky smiles if he did get into trouble. We laid out a plan, prayed over it, hoped for a good day.

Pick up time has become a time of absolute dread for me. I hate it. I worry about what I will hear when I pick him up. I was so relieved when I asked him how the day was and where he ended up on the behavior chart when he told me "happy blue." (It's the only step "up" you can make in the day. I was so happy. It was ice cream day so I gave the kids each their dollar and waited chatting with one of the few friendly moms, when his teacher came over. "Happy Blue!" I said, "I'm so excited." To which she replied, "Yeah, he started out that way, but I forgot to move him."

Apparently he tormented a little girl to tears (daughter of the woman I was talking with, and teacher shared the story with us both) because he was pointing out the problems she got wrong in math. The mom was very gracious and kind of stepped away as Ethan's teacher and I continued to talk, and she shared more about the day. She told me how he apologized and seemed sincere, but also how they had this talk about Ethan thinking he wasn't a nice person. She actually used the word "jerk." I can't even remember all the details of the conversation because I was dumbstruck that it didn't seem like she had really tried to counter that point. I don't know, I've shared before that I think she actually has issues with Ethan. And I wonder if I see it, does he? It's not like I can ask him if he thinks his teacher likes him, because then I just plant the bad seed in his mind if he isn't thinking it already.

There is a sense of rejection in my son's heart. Where he went to school there was a sense of family and belonging, of acceptance, and Ethan has not found that here. I look at him and wonder where it comes from. I know I hold rejection in my heart. Even in my own church where I have "belonged" for nearly 20 years, I have people I feel rejected by. You know, you share yet another prayer request, and in a curt response you feel like they think you have no faith, or your spiritually immature. (And maybe I am, I wonder.) But there are histories there, roots of rejection. I do not believe Ethan feels rejected in our family. If anything, we have made it clear that his "adopted" status makes his security stronger, not weaker. With adoption certain guarantees are made. The other day the kids were driving me nuts and I was yelling (as I do) and my girlfriend was visiting her mom across the street and she was harassing me a little about it (as she has done before.) I asked her if she "wanted one," as in one of my kids. She wasn't interested, and when we got in the car Victoria pointed out that I could not give Ethan away. Little do they know, that he is also the only one I must guarantee an inheritance to. Those are cool parallels to being adopted into the "family of God."

I don't know if the same "security" he has in his adopted status with his dad and I has a dark side of question or doubt about the mother who gave him up. She came up recently. We were at the grocery store and Ethan told me, "You're the best mom in the world." To which Victoria replied that I was his "only mom." And he said that no, he had TWO moms. I told him that wasn't true, that he had two mothers, but only one mom. And then I told him I wanted him, and that his birth mother wanted him to have things she couldn't give him, because I did not want to imply that she didn't want him. I believe giving a child up for adoption is the most loving thing any woman can do, but I do not know if it somehow creates a hole in his soul. I know other adopted kids, both maladjusted and well adjusted, I do not know why some carry it more heavily than others. I do not know yet, which way it will be for Ethan, and have no clue if any of this is at all related to what we are facing now. All I do know is my little boy is hurting, and I cannot fix it for him. (In case you are wondering how the conversation ended, I asked Ethan if he had any questions or anything about his adoption or his birth mother, to which he replied that he did not, and then I reminded him, yet again, that if he ever does, he can ask me anytime.)

Honestly of all my three children, Ethan is the one I feel like I can best relate to. He is the most like me. He is not touchy feely, he's very black and white, has a strong desire to see justice, and to see it swiftly and clearly. He can be legalistic, he can be forceful, he can be a lot like me. And I know I have a bit of melancholy that I carry with me and deep inside always some sense or fear of rejection. I do not know if I carried it when I was seven. I know how to deal with those feelings as an adult, well, I suppose I do and I don't, because I do still struggle, but I also press through (or emotionally eat through when that doesn't work.)

Perhaps it comes from the deepest knowledge that we aren't home, we don't really belong here at all. Maybe both Ethan and I need to find the way to crawl up into the lap of the father and find our belonging there, me first, and then perhaps I can lift my son there beside me.

Please read my addendum to this post.

15 Random Things About Me

Random or embarrassing? You be the judge.

1. I had my first kiss at 15 years old in the middle of my high school campus, his name was Andrew Ruiz.
2. I'm a pretty good cook, especially (Americanized) Italian and Mexican cooking - though I have neither nationality in my background (that I know of.)
3. I have a nervous habit of pulling locks of my hair and covering my mouth with it and my hand.
4. When I was in high school, my 2 best subjects were math and chemistry.
5. Before I was a Christian, I used to be an avid Stephen King reader.
6. If I am concentrating really hard, I will chew on my hair absentmindedly. (Gross, I know, at least I don't bite my nails.)
7. When I am in a crowded restaurant, it makes me uncomfortable to be seated where there are more people behind me than in front of me.
8. I used to want to be either an interpreter or a Spanish teacher.
9. I have a goal (sort of, since I'm not actively pursuing it) to memorize the entire Book of James in the Bible.
10. I have 4 chapters of a novel written that's been stuck up on shelf somewhere for more than a decade.
11. I have a callous on the middle part of my middle finger on my left hand from chewing on it when I'm really anxious of extremely focused.
12. When I was in 5th grade the principal wanted me to skip ahead a year in school, but I begged my mom not to make me and spent the year in an advanced program that I hated.
13. I have mental rules about the proper distribution of condiments on the sandwiches I make.
14. I like to sing in the shower.
15. Writing poetry comes really easy to me. (So I know it's a gift and not a talent.)

OK, now I'm wondering how many people who read this are just going to think I'm a little nuts. And I am, but it has nothing to do with these 15 things! Ha!

How about you, fellow bloggers, tell me 15 things about you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The Lord is constantly having to adjust mine. I'm not sure why He puts up with me most days.

This morning I had a perspective shift, yet again. One of Victoria's classmates lost their home in the fire this past weekend. I know, my parents were spared, friends were spared. I saw the apartment where my husband helped my friend move from just a couple months ago go up in flames on live TV, yet still my perspective, as evidenced by my previous post was still pretty self-focused.

Something about this little 6-year-old, who I actually know (albeit not well) having lost her home really drives in the perspective. Not even the six houses on my mother's street were as much of a jolt. How do you explain to a six year old that everything is gone? Her toys, her room, her pictures, all gone, what kind of questions does that create in a little mind?

I'm sort of shaken to my core a little. My heart grieves for this little girl. Yesterday before I knew about what had happened to her family I came across a picture she had drawn and given to Victoria. In 6 year old scribble it said "To Victoria Love Madelyn" and it was a drawing of the three crosses on top of Calvary. I can only hope that her family is anchored there, because how else do you survive something like this? How else do you hope that somehow, "but God..."

I gave the picture to Victoria yesterday and told her to put it away. When I get home this afternoon I am hoping I can find it. I thought about framing it and giving it back to her family, with a commitment to pray for them through this season. I know my prayer life has really been lacking lately, but now is the time, to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. The little kids' vice principal did morning ceremonies this morning, which is unusual, but he shared the importance of just loving and reaching out to the people hurting around us. I realize now, in every home are people like little Madelyn, and we need to share Jesus with them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Free To Be Me

Can I just say it? So far at least (and it is more than half over) November 2008 has sucked. My grandfather passed away, we had a bad leak into our bedroom, then we found out Neal may have to have knee surgery, then all of Southern California caught fire, my parents home in peril for a time, and tonight someone ran into Neal's truck and just drove away. He discovered the damage after his softball game, having no clue who could have hit him. Obviously some of the events of the month are on a whole other plane than others, but the little seem somehow compounded by the big.

Before the fires and the car damages I sent out a prayer request to friends, and I stated quite plainly at the beginning that there was "whining ahead." It just feels like we have been on a short end of an unfriendly stick for a while now, particularly when it comes to medical issues and bills, like Neal's "simple outpatient procedure" turning into a $17,000 4 day stay in the hospital. You sort of feel like you can't catch a break some days... weeks... years.

Anyway, someone who had my whiny prayer request forwarded to them sent me the nicest note in response. It really made my day and touched my heart. He complimented me for being "real." He encouraged me to be transparent. I'm not looking for more, but it was just so refreshing. I am transparent, to a fault sometimes. (A lot of times.) I have had people treat me like I lacked faith, or I was setting a bad example, but I can't bring myself to play the game. Sometimes this Walk of Faith is just hard.

I was thinking about that tonight and I remembered an old movie they used to shown in school back in the 70's called "Free to Be You and Me." It predates some of the diversity that is trying to be enforced now, it was an innocent time, talking about people being OK to feel their feelings and such. Anyway, I went looking for it on You Tube today and found a post that well expressed how I'm feeling these days. I'm not really a cryer, but maybe it's alright to whine... a little... too.

By the way, just for those who maybe want to reprimand me a little for the whining... Neal and I took a trip alone to the grocery store tonight talking about the "stuff" we've been dealing with and we know, this isn't our home, it's not supposed to be a peaceful place.

Friday, November 14, 2008


"Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good. Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, and His love endures forever. Call upon His holy name."

It's an old worship song that I haven't heard in years, but it's been resonating in my head today. The chorus goes on to say, "Rejoice in the Lord, rejoice in the Lord, let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice."

This is a tough time to feel thankful for many. The economy is a mess, people are losing their jobs. Prices are rising, as the value of our dollars are falling. Our home values are decreasing - things are tough all over.

But go back to the words of the song, it says to give thanks to the Lord because He is good. It doesn't say because things are good, but rather because God Himself is good.

Lord, the bills are high, the debt is deep. There isn't much good in the world to be very excited about, life is hard. But You, Lord, are good.

"Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." James 1:16-17

There is a great commentary on Biblegateway.com about this passage of scripture. It says in part, "It is not every man who suffers, that is blessed; but he who with patience and constancy goes through all difficulties in the way of duty. Afflictions cannot make us miserable, if it be not our own fault. The tried Christian shall be a crowned one."

As believers, even in our suffering, we have something to be thankful for. Our suffering and struggling is not in vain. God has purpose in it. Sometimes the suffering could even be seen as the gift.

I think back in a time in our lives when that was true. Ethan's adoption was a 3 year battle. It was hard fought, and there were times when it even seemed hopeless. I remember the day in the fall of 2003 when we got the call that Ethan's birth father intended to fight us for custody. Here we had been loving and raising this precious little boy, our son, for almost 3 years and someone wanted to take him from our home, from us. And at the time there was a very real possibility he could have accomplished it. (But God.) It was such a dark hour. (If only it had been that short.) But I look back now at that whole time period in our lives, and even the story of that exact day, and I know there was purpose in the suffering. God took us to a deeper place in Him, not just Neal and I, but Jacob too. And someday when Ethan and Victoria are old enough to hear and understand all the details, it will strengthen their faith too.

You know, this nation may choose to forget it, but the purpose of the inception of Thanksgiving Day was very specific. It was initially implemented as a day of prayer and fasting to thank God for His blessing on our nation but even more to pray for unity to come as the nation was divided. I don't know all the specific details, but I do know that it was around the time of the civil war. Interesting how separation of church and states wasn't an issue as Lincoln called the nation to prayer.

I'm not going to go off on a long tangent about forefathers, God in our nation and politics. But I do think that it should be given consideration that to express gratitude and thanks, we have to be expressing it to someone, Some One.

I want to reflect on the fact that no matter what I face, or what may rise up or come against me, my circumstances in this life are not my reality. What is my reality is that I have a God who is for me, and that nothing can separate me from His love. My reality is that He will order my steps, He will make provision, even in places where there seems no way. I am thankful for that, and I hope to find the way to express it not only with my words, but with my life.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

"Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing." Psalm 107: 21-22