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As High As The Heavens...

>> 7.30.2011

There's been LOTS around me that is new, these days, and I've wanted to share a few things with you for a few weeks now but just haven't gotten to it!  When we start school in two more days, we're going to start with a scavenger hunt (dad included!) around the rural towns in which we now live.  We hope to give the kids -- well, just the olders -- a sense of where they live in relation to their new surroundings.  I'll be sure to take some pics of that, but I thought I'd share a few today from around our home.  (My photog disclaimer: These are completely uneditted, some should have been for viewing effect-- but I'm giving it to ya live -- well, as "live" as blogging gets!)

The sun setting above the corn just in front and to the west of our house.

Our lovely fence line, complete with a spectacular view of God's heavens.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits,
who forgives all your iniguity, who heals all your disease,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. 
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust…
The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments…
Bless the Lord, all his host, His ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all His works, in places of His dominion. 
Bless the Lord, O my soul! 
(various verses from Psalm 103)

A final pic, for those family following, this ONE of our beloved "climbing trees".  These kids are "in heaven" climbing, and I'm "in heaven" just admiring GOD'S HEAVENS every evening of our new rural life.

May you be able to take time today to praise our Lord and Savior for the beauty He's putting in your life -- even if it's coming in the form of "ashes".


Psalm 73: 16-28 -- A RIGHT Perspective for Self

>> 7.28.2011

When we last studied this passage a couple days ago, we left Asaph (and myself) in a quandry over why it seems like the “evil ones” are the ones who always prosper and why it seems like those of us who are living trying to please God are always getting…shafted – or so we think.  Let’s pick it up in very 16: (using the NIV today—I’m not picky, it’s what’s in front of me. And, as always, italics are added by me!=)

16) When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me until I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.

How do we get perspective?  WE GET IN THE WORD!  We enter into God’s sanctuary and commune with Him.  Only in the presence of God’s RIGHT, TRUE, FAITHFUL Words can we see reality!  Here’s what Asaph found was reality: (v.18-22)

“Surely you place [the evil ones] on slippery ground; you case them down to ruin.  How suddenly are they destroyed, completely swept away by terrors.  As a dream when one awakes, so when you arise, O Lord, you will despise them as fantasies.  When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.”

I was studying in James earlier this week  and found something I’d never seen before (gotta LOVE the LIVING and ACTIVE Word!).  Verses 14-16 (Proceed with Caution, these are strong words.)

“But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.  Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.  For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

WHEW!  This is NOT how I want to be characterized or found before the Lord.  So I confess this sin of envy and ask the Lord to make my heart new again (which He gladly does) and thank Him for his gift of the sacrificially death His Son gave for ME!  For YOU!  And then I am free to do what Asaph did next:  he WORSHIPPED God.  It’s the only right response we can have when brought to the Light of His Word.  Let’s finish out today reading the last of Psalm 73, starting in verse 23.  Here are the truths we can rest in:

“Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.  You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heave but you?  And earth has NOTHING I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to You.  But as for me, it is good to be near God.  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

 When we take up our right place in the refuge of the Lord, no matter what is happening around us, we will be able to have peace and rest in Him and that will lead us to TELL OTHERS ABOUT CHRIST.  Where are you today?  Outside of His Word and lacking perspective or are you IN HIS WORD gaining perspective, worshipping Him, and telling others about what He’s teaching you?

Just something to “consider”…


Mama's Mission of the Month

Well, here's my update on Mama's Misson of the Month.

The pics aren't the best, but as you can see, just two weeks after move date, we're not looking TOO shabby!  (Yeah, yeah, I know!  Stop looking at the mess on the table!)  One more for your viewing pleasure.

Happy school organizing to all you fellow homeschooling moms!  I've got quite the bit of work to do in the next 4 days before school starts for us!  (Oh, and anyone else going to join me this next month on having a "mission for the month"?  let me know!  I'd love to keep up with you!-- after I fix my comment bar, I guess!=)


Psalm 73 ~ A Revelation Of Self

>> 7.25.2011

I have spent the majority of this year and last resting in the Psalms.  Not only have I felt like I’ve been all over the place with various emotions, I’ve felt a little dry and Psalms has provided the soothing salve needed “in this dry and weary land” in which I’ve been wandering.  So, after starting this blog based out of “Divine Inspiration” given through Psalm 62, I’d been reading and re-reading many of the Psalms, one of which was Psalm 73.  It had been striking me as a little odd…I thought I could MAYBE relate, but then I’d read it again and I thought maybe my personal interpretation wasn’t exactly the RIGHT interpretation so…I kept finishing it really quickly and then I’d move on.  (Of course, YOU’VE never read parts of Scripture like that, have you?! Uhem…) Well, God apparently really wanted to open my eyes to myself through this passage, so he sent a recent quest missionary speaker to our church to preach on THIS VERY PASSAGE!  It was one of those “God’s very hands are reaching down to me and reading this to me Himself” moments.  (Refreshing and convicting at the same time!)

 Before I go any further, let me quote the passage for you.  (And yes, this will be another “2 –Parter” just to hold your attention span – no offense to be taken, please=)

73:1 A psalm by Asaph.
Certainly God is good to Israel, 2  and to those whose motives are pure! 3 (2) But as for me, my feet almost slipped; my feet almost slid out from under me. 4  (3) For I envied those who are proud,as I observed 5 the prosperity 6 of the wicked. (4) For they suffer no pain; 7 their bodies 8 are strong and well-fed. 9  (5) They are immune to the trouble common to men; they do not suffer as other men do. 10  (6)Arrogance is their necklace, 11 and violence their clothing. 12  (7) Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; 13 their thoughts are sinful. 14 8 They mock 15 and say evil things; 16 they proudly threaten violence. 17 9 They speak as if they rule in heaven,and lay claim to the earth. 18 10 Therefore they have more than enough food to eat, and even suck up the water of the sea. 19 11 They say, “How does God know what we do? Is the sovereign one aware of what goes on?” 20 12 Take a good look! This is what the wicked are like, 21 those who always have it so easy and get richer and richer. 22 13 I concluded, 23 Surely in vain I have kept my motives 24 pure and maintained a pure lifestyle. 25 14 I suffer all day long,and am punished every morning.”15 If I had publicized these thoughts, 26 I would have betrayed your loyal followers. 27 16 When I tried to make sense of this,it was troubling to me. 28  (Italics all added, Scripture from NetBible.)

Read it again now (because we all need several looks at passages we’re really going to “consider”)

Okay, now that you’ve done that: What do you think? 

I have to first say, I LOVE Asaph!  I mean, talk about honesty!  Here it is; Scripture is FULL of honesty!  So, one thing I learn right away in this passage is that IT IS MORE THAN OKAY TO BE HONEST WITH GOD!!!!  { This was NOT one of the preacher's points, but I learned it anyway=) He’s big enough, and He modeled that type of relationship with Him all over in Scriptures.  (But let’s face it, we so easily forget this; one of Satan’s great lies to us, of that I’m sure.)

Second, after reading it again and again, I realized I AM ASAPH!  I do this every day!  Somewhere between rising from bed and falling into it again, I end up thinking thoughts that are so similar to this.   I hear about some successful person who has grown that success through, well, down right evil ways (entertainment industry?—and not ALL entertainment is “evil”, but so much of it is) and I’m truly jealous and envious (v.3) of that success and all that it brings. 

Third, when I dwell on that, I too begin to think that these earthly successful people have it so much better than I.  I, too, begin to list all the good things I do for God and then I begin to think that God really ought to treat me a little better in the wealth and health department than He is.  Like God owes me something.  I think things just like Asaph such as: they “ALWAYS have it so easy” (v12) and that “they are immune to trouble”(v.5).  These type of dwelling thoughts end up messing with reality and I end up just like Asaph, trying to make sense of it all.   

Are you with me, ladies?  Have you ever been there before or are you there now?  Trying to figure out why God has you in this particular “waiting” period or why He doesn’t just give you a few more dollars so you can do “good” things with it (like buy new shoes for this kids?!  I mean, we don’t even necessarily want more to spend on us, right?!) 

No?  Well, I guess it’s just me then… I need perspective. 

And we’ll get it when we tune in next time=)  Until then, enjoy this wonderful clip from Francis Chan that talks about this very problem.  (Thanks, Homeschoolingmomtographer for bringing this one to my attention.)


Givin' Up -n- Movin' Back! (Part II)

>> 7.20.2011

I began praying the minute I had finally settled all children in their appropriate locations before the message began.  I was too emotional to think straight and then the message hit me like a ton of bricks, on more levels than I ever thought possible (more on that too, later – I think.)  Before I could even think to utter a prayer about the whole situation the service was done and I was walking out to gather my children from all their respective locations.  My prayer was completely simple: Lord help me.  I’ve realized a few things upon reflecting over all of this as the week has progressed.  Some of these reflections give me grace and some still leave me stumped.  There’s still a lot of praying/thinking to be done before this coming Sunday (when I hope to NOT repeat the last two Sunday’s events!). I’ve asked God to give me some Divine Inspiration as to what to do in order to have the kids enjoy church and not be forced into some sort of unreasonable expectation.  Here are some of my thoughts:

 1)      God loves my children & God desires my children love Him – and I mustn’t make church look/seem/feel like a horrible place to be.  This is vitally important as no child, and especially a “pastor’s kid,” should grow up resenting the church.

2)       I was completely unprepared to deal with my children at their ages going back into a church setting.  (or to deal with it in a patient manner, anyway=) Oh, we’d been in the church these past four years of seminary, but at various different levels of involvement and in situations that allowed me to “do whatever necessary” to appease my younger children.  The end result: well, let’s just say children who have become accustomed to not having to sit still for even A FEW minutes.   This is my missed opportunity of the past to teach correctly that I cannot change—must move forward from here instead of wallowing in regret. 

3)      Remember that saying that everyone TELLS you when you have kids: “They aren’t as distracting to us as they are to you” – well, I just plain don’t believe it applies to me and MY kids.  (and, really, it does.)

4)      Grace, grace, God’s Grace – can you hear the song?  I must extend grace to myself and my children in order for patience to come from anywhere in my being.  (Patience, I’ve really learned this week, is NOT one of my virtues!  Adding that to prayer time!)  It will take us all time to adjust to our new surroundings and I can miss a little of service to help my children adjust to their new surroundings.  No one else expects me to do anything different.

5)      The new pastor’s wife CAN (and will) sit in the back!  This was a very freeing thought – now if I can just convince my boys of this before Sunday!

Again, all our frustrations come down to expectations.  And at this church there are no outside expectations that have come up yet.  All these expectations of how “my children should behave” and of how I think the “pastor’s family ought to behave” – they are all self-induced.  I have begun asking God for a spirit of patience and of grace—and I’m counting on HIM to get me through this next Sunday morning service better than our last two.  (After that it’s a meal at the home of an elderly couple—oh, no!  A whole set of new prayers…=)


GIVIN' UP -n - MOVIN' BACK!! Reflections of my first few Sundays, Part I

>> 7.19.2011

Well, I’ve been here before – a “pastor’s wife” – but  just as the seasons of our lives change, so too do the expectations we (and others) have as we move through those seasons.  For me, entering back into ministry, has been a welcome change in some ways (and in others, not so much – more on that later=).  I thought I was pretty prepared.  I mean, after all,  I’ve done this before,  I grew up around the whole “thing” all my life, and I’ve even had children and been in the situation before--  but this time I’ve found one big surprise along the way (well, maybe two).

This ONE BIG SURPRISE has been: ME! (And MY expectations)  We usually don’t know what our expectations are until we feel the crunch of distress in one way or another.  I felt it last week and I felt it this week again.  It went like this:

Sunday morning get up to the sound of birds – wonderful!  I praise the Lord.  Get out of bed to my youngest saying “hungy, hungy” right beneath my feet: no problem, I had cinnamon rolls ready to throw into the oven (pat on my back—and still feeling good.)  Today was going to be a GOOD Sunday; the older boys had gone to children’s church without much complaint last week and this week they were sure to go alone- bonus!  Take shower, make little smokies with daughter (bonus #2—working together in the kitchen), serve cinnamon rolls (done to perfection) and little smokies (okay, maybe those were a little more than “done to perfection”), happy family banter and discussion, get self ready while daddy dressed kids (bonus number #3!)…the day was shaping up wonderfully!  Couldn’t find a top that didn’t need ironing, but that too was okay because we STILL had enough time, thanks to dad, for me to iron it and get out the door with a couple minutes to spare.  (Minor distressful thought:  had to take kids early so dad could meet with some men to pray before service—surely they could play in the nursery until service and NOT tear up all the toys?  Hmm…) Get all six of us family members into the car and on our way.  This is going to be a good Sunday.

At the church, kids told to stay with mom while dad went to meet with the men—and daughter throws first minor temper tantrum—a little squeal with an irritated foot tap and a slight whiney “daaadddddy” out of her tight lips that threatens to become loud.(Second minor feeling of distress)  Stop it, let’s go, and head in without getting hit by a car.  Inside, kids go to the nursery as directed (doing okay so far), but now I smell the aroma of fresh dirty diaper.  (Can I call that an “aroma”?)  “Bubbi” needs changed.  Terrible diaper rash causes a panicked, terrified, scream that last as long as the diaper change, no mind, daughter shut the nursery door.  Surely those cute lil’ ol’ ladies greeting at the door would just smile even if they did hear him scream, right?  Older boys break out the baby cars and drive each other crazily between the two connected nursery rooms and almost into me.  (Minor distress rising) Enter another boy adding more crazy driving and diaper change is almost over.  Finish changing diaper, wash hands, all children have disappeared and nursery is quiet.  I almost just sink down into a rocking chair and enjoy it—but then I think of the “crazies” out running around the older people.  Visions of terrible collisions race through my head.  Much work is done to corral the young “ponies” and just in time for dad to meet with the men to pray.  Whew.  But corral them to where? (Distress definitely at a high level, still smiling though!) Pews.  At least I can sit at the end of one pew.  Oldest chose center row number 5—after I insist on not sitting in row #3—and we sit, with most of the 175 other congregation members behind us.  Sigh. But then, “I’m thirsty,”  “I have to go to the bathroom,” “daaaadddyyy” (more tantrum)…it’s only been 5 minutes since we entered the door!  (I can smile no longer.)

I could relate the next 30 minutes to you, but it’d be just as painful for you to read as it was for me to experience as it all just continued and went more downhill.  You moms know exactly what I’m talking about!  Dad made announcements on this Sunday and Bubbi wouldn’t go into the nursery without another 5-minute leech-loving cling time all the while screaming like he was in some sort of excruciating pain.  (Will it ever get better?)  Church starts at 9:25 with service first and by 9:30 I’m thinking, “I GIVE UP!  I’M MOVIN’ BACK!” (to the back of the sanctuary, that is=)


The Next Step

>> 7.05.2011

Within the very first hours of becoming a parent -- in which I mean seeing the two pink lines on the lovely white stick -- the words "transition," "next steps," "journey" all take on a completely new meaning.  Life is just never the same as a whole new world opens up to us and we learn about the changes in our bodies (and in our babies' bodies), the changes in our schedules (particularily the change in our sleeping habits), and the changes in our responsibilities -- children require a lot of priority!  As a good friend of ours once said, "I never knew how selfish I was until I got married.  And then I never knew how selfish I still was until I had kids."  We learn quickly that life is now, at least for a short 18 years, a lot about our children and teaching them to transition in their lives well -- which requires a very healthy marriage! 

This week is all about transition for our family; in some ways, taking our final steps to complete these last four years of transition.  So I thought I'd take a few minutes to talk "ministry" here, for those following who are headed that way, and for the benefit of really anyone with a family-- which can mean simply a spouse with whom they share life.  As I've been processing what it will mean to enter back into the world of full-time vocational ministry, I've realized our family is in a different stage than we were when we left a few years ago.  New priorities need to be realized and new boundaries need to be put in place BEFORE we start this new phase.  Not doing so could have devestating results for our marriage, our family, and in the end, our new ministry.  So my husband and I took advantage of a 3 hour trip both ways for picking up a new bed (to be shared in the room where we'll put all four children for awhile=), and talked "priorities" and "boundaries".  We each shared with the other our thoughts on what was "most important" at the stage of each of our children and what they needed-- and of course, what we needed as a couple to maintain a healthy, growing, FUN relationship.  We settled on a few specific things (which I wrote down to keep us more accountable) and I had peace in just communicating with my husband the various needs I was sensing and in hearing his.  In each of our major life transitions, we've taken time to do this activity (and I admit, I think it could have been done a lot more often).  When we entered seminary, and usually to some degree each semester, we took time to look specifically at each family members' needs and consider what might be done to make sure important needs were met.  We trust and pray that God has filled in the gaps where we have fallen short.  I encourage each of you to do this same activity as you find yourself in times of transition to help alleviate the stress on everyone in the family and to PROACTIVELY invest in the most important foundation to society: the family.

I could go into all sorts of specific priorities and tips on how they could play out, but each family has different needs as we are all in unique situations and have unique needs for those times.  Here is the KEY PRINCIPLE to follow: 

 ALL priorities should come in light of our FIRST priority: God! 

     Deuteronomy 10:12-13, "And now...what does the Lord your God ask of you but to serve the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good."

Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek FIRST [God's] Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things {earthly provisions found at the heart of our need for working}will be given to you..." (NIV, italics added=)

For tips in helping to make your marriage a better priority see Jill Savage's Blog (founder of Hearts At Home, an organization that encourages, educates and equips moms of all ages and stages of motherhood)

For tips in helping to "balance" family and ministry life make sure to check out former pastor and ministers to missionaries all around the world, Stuart and  Jill Briscoe's online magazine Just Between Us and Stuart's quick take on the issue.

And then leave me a message and let me know some specific ways you and your family have been able to better prioritize the important "things" of life!


Mama's Mission

>> 7.03.2011


Only recently have I really discovered this crazy world of blogging.  I still waver in my belief of if what I do on here really matters, but as in one such blog ( Mama Jenn's ), I was reminded of one benefit of blogging- whether or not it makes a difference to the world.  I thought I'd take my stab at it.  And here it is: accountability.  Every month, (or so shall we see), I'll post my mission for the month and then at the end of the month come back and check in to see how I have done.  Others are welcome to join in (I think they refer to that as "linking in" or something like that! =) and I'd love to hear how you are all doing so as to encourage one another. 

But this is my month's goal: to move and set up house/school with all the prep. for beginning montessori-type activities with my littlest, all the while beginning school (August 1st! BTGOG-- by the grace of God) with my older four.  Setting up house seems kinda small...but it's the getting ready for the montessori activities that is the bigger, more lofty goal.  We'll see how we do!

(Now to learn how to "grab a button," as "they" say...)

Mission of the Month

Well...I left that part on there just to prove I DIDN'T learn how to grab a button yet...but time has run out, I'll have to try again tomorrow!

UPDATE: IT DID WORK!!!!! What new tricks...

Enjoy the night!


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