In the last year since I've started blogging, I've developed quite a list of blogs that I try to check every few days or so. It takes up quite a bit of time to check them all. Fortunately or unfortunately, I don't have the time and I don't make a point of making the time to read through them. See - years ago, I was an AOL-chataholic. It was a serious addiction that took a lot of help from God to kick because my "self" didn't want to let it go. While I made a lot of wonderful friends in that time (a few I still have today), it was also a time when I did some out-there things; some I'm ok with, some not so thrilled to have done. So when it comes to my blog and to other computer-addictive things like Facebook (I refuse to even set up a MySpace page), I try to spend very little time with them. Even my blogs have received less attention than they should at times, especially my human trafficking blog (that's one thing I really hope to focus more attention on - balancing it with my desire to spend less time computer-networking, though, is the challenge).

So - I found it a bit ironic when during lunch last Friday, I hopped onto Kimba's blog, A Soft Place To Land and discovered how many bloggers were taking Friday off. Yup - there I was with time to catch up and no one was writing... how's that for irony? I also took it as a message and avoided the blogs and my normal "play" on the computer for the day. Except for email...I did have to deal with a bit there but I do the Monday through Friday work thing so I'm not given too much choice in that regard.

It got me to thinking, though and what popped into my head was my decision about two years ago to start keeping Sundays as "empty" as possible. With a husband who has off one weekday and Sundays, we had gotten to the point where we were cramming as much as possible into Sundays because it was the only day of the week we were together as a family. All errands, chores, fix-its, visiting friends and family were scheduled for Sundays and that was in addition to church. Well - there was only so much of that our bodies could handle so guess what started to fall by the wayside... Yup. Church. When the lightbulb clicked one Sunday that by not going again we had skipped a whole month of church well... that did it. Sundays suddenly got a LOT quieter.

For a while.

I've noticed, lately, that busyness is creeping in again. Neither my husband nor I are willing to sacrifice our time at church for anything so we really have to watch what we're doing. One thing I have been known to do is sit down in front of the computer while I'm waiting for him to get ready to head out the door for church. Just a minute or so... while he changes his shirt, combs his hair... (Yes - this sounds backwards, doesn't it?) and then all of a sudden we're running out the door and we're late why? Because I sat down at the computer "just for a minute"...

So I'm going to unplug on Sunday. No email, no blogging, no "researching." Sunday will be computer-off-limits day. I'll see how that goes for a while and then... who knows... maybe I'll add a weeknight or two. Be a rebel. Tell technology it really doesn't have much place in my life. That's going to be extra-entertaining now that we finally purchased a laptop for me and my computer habit has gone portable.

Hopefully the withdrawal symptoms are easier to deal with than with caffeine...


It's Tough When You Put Your Heart On Legs

I've always loved that description of a mother's love for her children. It's like you've given your heart legs and sent it out into the world.... It is oh so true. It's also true when it's a child you haven't given birth to but you consider your own. Yesterday and today seem to be "heart pain" days when it comes to my children and I am hoping the world goes right again today.

My oldest...nothing disastrous befell him yesterday, I just didn't see him. I'm going to have to adjust to that again soon as he's planning on moving out on his own. While he's living with us, though, unless he tells me otherwise, I expect to see him at least a few minutes each day and I'm a bit off when I don't. My day just isn't quite right.

My youngest... well... he managed to get himself into a bit of trouble yesterday. Lying is such a tricky problem with him. We went through a period of time a few years back when it seemed he couldn't stop lying. The punishments had to get harder and harder until we figured out one that seemed to register with him. Trust me - we hated every minute of it. We don't ever want to go back so when he lies, we both cringe inside and are just so sad. Last night was Lifegroup so with so many people showing up at our house before we get to talk to him, he knows any time he gets into trouble he has to wait until Friday night. That does have some benefit - it's on his mind the entire time...

Finally, a dam broke in Indonesia this morning. I sponsor a little girl, Gabrialle and anytime there is a disaster in Indonesia, I sit on pins and needles, waiting until I hear something that confirms she is ok. It gets a little tricky for me because I'm not 100% sure where different things are there. I should become a lot more familiar with the country, I've only been sponsoring her for 7 years, I just haven't yet. It would be so amazing to be able to meet her but for now we just write letters and I learn little by little about her. She is such a beautiful young lady and I hope to meet her. I also hope she is safe.

Not that it's so unusual for me but today will be a day of prayer for my children...


Thankful Thursday - Random

Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage has chosen this week's theme to be "random." Random is actually my favorite theme because there is just so much to be thankful for that I allow the thoughts to just pop into my head and then I write them down as they come to me.

So... this week I am thankful for...

1. A busy, family and friend filled schedule. This last week has seen me so occupied I haven't posted a thing to my blog since the last Thankful Thursday post.

2. A woman on the east coast who I would never have met if it hadn't been for the "blog world."

3. A God who is Sovereign and is not surprised by anything that befalls our lives - medical emergencies, housing disasters, heartbreak... He carries it all in His hands.

4. A lovely young woman and her husband and their brand new baby boy. He is such a lovely baby and they are such a sweet, gentle couple. I am thankful for the joy they have with him today and pray it continues for many, many, many years!

5. A God-fearing, loving, wonderful husband. He has today off and doesn't get even the slightest bit ruffled when I add something to his already pretty decent sized to-do list.

6. A couple of wonderful, funny, hard-working and loving sons.

7. A GREAT dog! :)

8. A couple of days off next week, hopefully heading to the beach to enjoy the ocean. Oh how I love the ocean and it has been way too long since I've been there. We can gather sand dollars and white stones, walk the beach for miles and just enjoy time together as a family.

9. A good job. Both of our jobs. I can't tell you how thankful I am for them right now. Especially my husband's, his is in a more precarious position than mine. Working in any type of retail is iffy right now, his store included. Thankful knowing we'll probably be ok for at least one more month and if it's one month at a time right now, it's one month at a time.

10. An amazing Lifegroup. Revelation has proven to be one incredible study! I can't wait for tonight.

11. A cute little house full of comfy furniture and food on the table. I am so grateful for the provision of safe shelter. When so many, not just in our society but around the world, don't have a roof over their head or have any idea where their next meal will come from or when it will come.

12. An amazing group of women at the local shelter. I know I've written about them before but they truly are incredible to me. In the midst of all they are dealing with and trying to get straight, they love, laugh and find happiness in the smallest of things. They offer me a new perspective every time I see them and I live each day in eager anticipation of getting to the next day I get to see them.

I went for a full dozen today. Wasn't hard to do... Head over to Lynn's place for more Thankful Thursday sharing and add your own. We'd love to read you!


Thankful Thursday

Tuesday brought the news that Natasha Richardson was in critical condition after hitting her head during a ski lesson - on a bunny slope. Wednesday brought the tragic news of her death. At 45.

I don't know Natasha Richardson personally but I've always respected her as an actress. She was very good at what she did and always exuded class and grace. She reminds me of Grace Kelley or Audrey Hepburn that way. Add to that my immense respect for the fact that she and Liam Neeson stayed married for 15 years, raising their sons and loving each other.

What has me thinking and has me grateful this week is just how quickly life can go from great happiness and fun to unthinkable pain and fear. A blink of an eye, a heartbeat and everything has changed. She fell, hit her head and seemed fine for a few hours and then... she's flown from Montreal to New York and gone the next day.

How many people are suffering today - just not publicly? How many are going through their own terrors, their own "hell on earth" without cameras trying to catch a glimpse of their pain to publish for the whole world to see...

Today I am grateful there is a God in heaven who sees ALL of our pain, who aches for all of our pain and does not leave us alone with it.

Today I am grateful He provided us with one another, with community - to enjoy one another during the good times and to pull together, to support one another - during the bad times.

Today I am grateful for prayer. When "all" I can do is pray, I know it's not only all but also the best thing I can do.

Today I am grateful for my family. Each and every individual, all they bring to my life - including the heartaches.

There is just so much to be grateful for in the world around us. Take a minute, check out other Thankful Thursday posts with Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. Be blessed.

Wedding Video

Have to share this video. What a great, fun couple...a great way to start a marriage (having fun and being in sync....)


Why "Why?" Really Doesn't Matter

Last night was our weekly Lifegroup meeting. As we were sitting around catching up with one another's week, one of the guys in our group shared an experience he'd had earlier this week. It is one of those stories of a situation that happens far too often yet never stops overwhelming you as you hear it. This is the point where I tell you that what follows could be very difficult to read. If you are a niece or nephew - stop now. I have to apologize, too - I wrote a few posts earlier where I forgot to put that in there. I really can't stand how "out of it" I seem to be now-a-days...

He was on his way to work, driving on the freeway when he sees a woman walking on the shoulder. There was no car "flashing distress" before he saw her so he thought that was odd. Add to that the fact that she was walking on an extremely hazardous area of the highway (she was where two freeways meet - it's a busy, dark, hectic area of the road) and it was about 4:15 AM when he saw her really had him wondering what was going on. As he drove past, he could see her hands were full. It turned out the bundle she was carrying was a few changes of clothes for herself and her 1 1/2 year old daughter, who was sleeping as her mother walked up the freeway.

Have you ever been in a situation where God asks you "Will you" and all you can respond is "Yes."? That's where my friend found himself. He didn't want to, mind you. He was opening himself up to only God knew what, literally. To stop where she was walking was life-threatening, to say the least. However - he saw no other answer. He couldn't leave her walking, carrying that little girl, up the freeway.

When he pulled over and started talking to her, he found out she was going to her cousin's house in a town about 15 miles away. She was going to walk there. Carrying her daughter and their clothes. He didn't know why she was going that at the time but he couldn't let her walk that far so he offered her a ride. It meant he was going to be late for work. ::shrug:: He was late for work.

She climbed into his car, got settled and they were on their way. He offered to turn down the radio - she told him to leave it up. Not five minutes into the drive and she broke down in tears. She started talking - you know the talk "I don't know what I'm going to do..." and then she started to tell him why she was on the freeway that morning, carrying her little one.

She wasn't "going" to her cousin's house, she was escaping to her cousin's house. Her husband had some friends over that previous night. They had a party. Cocaine and meth were involved. Once they had a sufficient high going, her husband and her friends "took turns" with her while her daughter slept near-by.

Cocaine and meth. Her husband allowed his friends to take turns with his wife while his daughter slept near-by... Can you hear the "Why?"

As they rode, she was, of course, broken by what had just happened to her. And confused. Her husband, after all, is a good man...

This is the part of the story for which I am so thankful to God that He chose my friend to meet her. He stopped her at the "good man" part with an "Excuse me? No. No... At one time - maybe. But to let his friends...? No. He's not a good man right now."

If it wouldn't have been really weird, I probably would have kissed him for that...

The next line of conversation was when one of the other folks in my group said "Why do women stay with men like that? Why don't they just leave?" There's that pesky "why" again. There are so many answers to that question but I just said it's not really about why she stayed with a man like that, is it? It's really about why is he a man like that? Why doesn't he get the help he needs? This is, after all, his wife and daughter - their lives, his life...

She needs the obvious - a place to live, supportive family and friends, services, counseling, a job..." And the not so obvious - patience (years worth), a bottomless well of compassion (because someone somewhere will figure she should "move on" when the pain hasn't yet stopped). What does he need... Time in jail? Counseling? A good beating by her family? The death penalty? For so long, I think, we've reacted with "Who cares what he needs" because he's not the one being hurt. Truthfully? I've been one of them. For the longest time I thought - castrate the SOB's (pardon the allusion to crass language). They don't deserve a life. At all. I wished all of them dead, actually.

However...as I've grown and learned more about these issues (and I have only just scratched the surface - I am not speaking as any kind of expert here), I've realized that it's not just about reacting after things have happened. I have no idea what the answer is and I know this kind of thing will never stop. Until Christ returns, we are stuck with evil in all of its many forms -especially those we consider markedly vile.

So - does the "Why" really matter? We live in a world marked by anger, pain, sin, death... Evil. It's not going away until Christ returns so why do we struggle with why? Why is it next to impossible to lay it at the foot of the cross and know He has it handled?

I know we have to keep helping. We have to keep fighting the evil in our midst. We have to continue loving people, reaching our hands out to those who are hurting and when God says "Will you" we have to say "yes" - no matter how scary that looks to us. We need to continue teaching our children right from wrong and we need to stop allowing so much "gray" in their lives. There is right and there is wrong and people know it in their core but if it's ignored long enough, the lines become blurred and what is wrong becomes tolerable. What is tolerable becomes enjoyable. What is enjoyable becomes indispensable...

Jesus said "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

Why does "Why" matter?


Thankful Thursday - Epic Story

It's another Thursday, another day to sit back and really think through all of those things for which we are so thankful to God. A few thoughts have been swirling through my head since a conversation I had with my husband last night. It's hard to write exactly what happened without revealing enough for people who know this person to figure out who I'm referring to so all I'm going to say is that my husband told me this person knows the person they were talking about is a good, quality person who has it together and is stable while the person speaking to my husband does not. What I heard inferred was this person does not feel they are a "quality person."

That thought wormed its way into my brain and festered for hours. I'm not sure when it came to me but it struck me that thinking that way not only does harm to oneself but it also insults God. When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we stop being "creatures" and become children of God, heirs and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-18). We are adopted into the most perfect, most amazing family to ever be created. While that family is made up of forgiven sinners and human beings with work to do, God doesn't create junk. (No - this is NOT going to be a "name it and claim it" advocacy post!!) Creation, from its inception, was intended to be perfect. So were people. We deviated it away from that but God is bringing it back. To me, that not only says "quality" but "utmost quality." Our quality may be hidden under a shell of sin but it is there and God is working it out in us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" A new creation...perfect in its final form.

All of this comes to me during the night - not only are we "quality people" but we are "of excellent quality" because we are children of the Most High God. Of course, I had misheard my husband... the person was actually saying he knows he does not "have it together" and is not stable - but is working toward that. He doesn't question his quality, though...

Ultimately, it made me thankful for few things today I hadn't thought about in a while.

1. I am thankful that I am a daughter of God. I am so thankful that He has welcomed me into His family and doesn't kick me out when I mess up really bad.

2. I am thankful for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ. For those He has put into my life to "do life together" and those I won't know until we meet in Heaven.

3. I am thankful that we serve a God who does not want to see one of us left behind.

4. I am thankful that God sees me as teachable and doesn't give up on me. Ever.

5. I am thankful for the Bible, the Word of God, which teaches me and encourages me every day.

6. I am thankful for the personality He has given me; the talents and passions and all that He wanted me to have (not material 'stuff') to make me who I am.

7. I am thankful for Thankful Thursdays. It is one of the few reminders I have in my week to slow down and reflect on all who God is. Visit Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage for other Thankful Thursday posts.

Thank you for reading. Be blessed!


Another Monday

Another weekend behind us. I wish it were ahead of us and we could do it again. Ok - maybe not repeat it but just tack on another 48 hours before I have to come back to work. The time change is always such fun for me. Toss in the fact that I had plans on Saturday and I'm apparently still a little sick, it made yesterday a day where I simply couldn't move. I wanted to - I had plans yesterday, too but... to make a long story short, I didn't make it out the door. There is snow again today, too. So many of us are simply "done" with snow for the year. We've had more snow this year than we normally do in about 5 winters combined. It's made for a year folks probably won't forget but it's also made for a lot of "I am SO done with the snow" comments.

I'm done with the snow even before it starts so...I feel their pain. I look outside and I keep praying it stops in time for me to be able to get up to the Mission tonight. I'm only up there twice a month for devotions as it is. I really pray I don't have to cancel on the ladies. I know they'd rather I was safe but I really ache at the idea of letting them down. We'll see how it goes...

It's Monday so I suppose I should get back to work. I may have to "update" this post later with more random thoughts. I don't really have a topic today, I'm just in the mood to "chat" it seems and with Mom at home because of snow (they, apparently, got a LOT more up north than we did down here), I have no one to chat with so...lucky you! :)


Thankful Thursday - Wisdom

Iris at Grace Alone... is stepping away from her blog for a while. Lynn at Spiritually Unequal Marriage and Laurie at Women Taking A Stand will take over hosting Thankful Thursdays. Iris isn't sure what will be happening with her but she is trusting God to lead. God always seems to bless obedience to Him and I pray that Iris is incredibly blessed in this phase of her life. Thank you, Iris, for hosting Thankful Thursdays for so long. Your insight and gifts to us each week will be missed. I hope you contribute every now and again - it'd be great to keep up with you that way.

Lynn chose "wisdom" as her topic this week and it's one that has been on my mind for a while. I've been praying for wisdom in many areas and it never ceases to amaze me how God always grants wisdom when it's asked for. I can tell, too, when I've stopped asking for wisdom - I usually recognize it by the funny taste of leather in my mouth as I chew on my foot...

James 1:5-6 reads: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."

God generously grants wisdom - to those who ask and believe. I am so incredibly thankful for that.

Thank You for granting wisdom when we ask and believe. Lord, help my unbelief.
Thank You for forgiving me when I stray, wanting to manage my life under my control, forgetting to lay it at Your feet and asking You what You want me to do.

Thank You for providing wisdom - even when the realization hurts, for when it reveals the sin in my life it shows me what I need to repent and what needs work.

Above all, Thank You, Lord, for all you give us - for all we know and all we don't know. The blessings you pour down on us are immeasureable and I am so humbled and grateful to you for all of them.
I hope you head over to see Lynn and join in this week's Thankful Thursday.


Another Tough Subject

During my quiet time I've been reading through the chronological Bible. I've fallen a bit behind in reading and I'm trying to catch up but not TOO quickly - I don't want to miss something.

This time through Exodus and Leviticus, I'm reading some things I don't recall ever having read before. In addition to that, some stuff I have read before is coming back up from a place I put it because I didn't want to think too deeply about it the last time I read it... Funny how that works, isn't it?

I'm up to Leviticus in the reading and what's on my mind comes from Leviticus 18. That chapter is a list of who the Israelites are not to sleep with - under any circumstances. Sex has, for thousands of years, been devalued by the human race. An amazing gift from God if it takes place in the setting that God intended - between a husband and a wife (a husband who loves his wife and a wife who respects her husband, see Ephesians 5. The reason for that distinction is a post unto itself), it is also a source of great guilt and heartache if it takes place in absolutely any situation that steps outside of what God intended.

What caught my eye today was not so much the list of "don'ts" but what would happen if His laws were broken. Verse 24 to 30 reads: "Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the aliens living among you must not do any of these detestable things, for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. Everyone who does any of these detestable things - such persons must be cut off from their people. Keep my requirements and do not follow any of the detestable customs that were practiced before you came and do not defile yourselves with them. I am the Lord your God."

The part where breaking these rules causes the very land in which these people were living to "vomit them out" has me thinking. God's lists of "don'ts" are quite extensive and I've often wondered why God made such lists. Perhaps it was because people are always looking for the loophole and He was covering all of them. Why does God give us these great big lists of don't do's instead of just simple, straightforward instruction? My honest answer - I have no idea. For years I've struggled wondering why God seems to have allowed Moses the leeway with divorce. In Matthew 19, Jesus tells the religious leaders asking him questions that "Moses gave them divorce because their hearts were hardened - but it was not that way from the beginning." Why didn't God just tell Moses - 'Don't tell them they can divorce. They can't divorce. Married is married. You are married until one of you dies.'
I wish I knew. Why some things in the Bible are written the way they are may remain a mystery until we stand before God and can ask - if we want to ask at that point. We may no longer care. If anyone has a theory or other insight, I'd love to read it.

The important point to me right now, though, is the land vomiting up people not obeying God's law. If you read through that list of who shouldn't have sex with whom, you might notice that in this country, that list is pretty well out the window. Tossed. Ignored. In this country, people are encouraged to sleep with whomever they want. TV shows have characters whose entire reason for being seems to be based on the premise of having one sexual partner after another (Charlie from Two And A Half Men comes to mind...). It's all the way through our culture, too - from the lowest to the highest. On the White House website, President Obama has, under the Civil Rights heading of "the Agenda," stated he will work "to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression." He has also promised to expand hate crime statutes and his "support for the LGBT Community" is too vast to type here. If you want to read it all, click here. Part of that support, though, includes full civil unions and federal rights for LGBT couples. He also voted against the Federal Marriage amendment of 2006.

Leviticus 18:22 - Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

Now...here's where my thinking is taking me. Most people will argue that it is Old Testament law and since Christ died for our sins, it's gone - we're not under that law. I disagree. Strongly. I don't believe we have to sacrifice bulls, goats, rams, doves and pigeons or offer grain or incense offerings because Christ died "once for all" (see Hebrews 10) but I don't believe a single letter of God's law was changed with Christ hanging on the cross. Christ came to fulfill the law, not do away with it (Matthew 5:17).

God's character, everything about who He is and what He stands for, what He will stand and what He won't has never changed. His rules have not changed. We are still expected to obey Him. What is and is not acceptable behavior has never changed. We ignore it because it's convenient to ignore and because satan has definitely tricked us into believing God doesn't "really" mean what He has said (satan has been doing that since the garden of Eden) but not one letter of God's law has changed.

I see Scripture coming to pass and I know - it's not the first time and there are cycles and people will say there have been cultures a lot worse than we are but my question to that would be where are they now? The Romans are gone, the Greeks aren't all that great a power in the world... Which of these cultures that became worse than ours have survived? Do we really want to see how far we can go before we are brought down completely?

This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. Most of those principles we no longer follow. I pray our President finds he has started down a path that is morally corrupted and I pray he gains the courage to step away from that path. I do not believe that will be possible on his own, though. I'm not to judge hearts and I don't know who he is turning to for guidance. I know that God is in charge of who is in power (Daniel 2) and it is His will that President Obama is in office. I pray He has not "given us over to our desires" and instead will use this time to show us how far our desires have strayed from Him and we will heed Him. I wonder...do we follow the pattern of the Israelites throughout their history? They followed God for a while then strayed from Him so He brought them under some great disaster (oppression, famine, plague...you name it, they suffered it) and then they would cry out to Him and He would rescue them. They are His chosen people, though. He may not rescue America if we cry out. We may have already gone too far as a country.

With that a real possibility, I pray for courage as an heir with Christ, a follower of Jesus because it's possibly going to start getting really ugly for us really fast. Sorry - I know I'm writing this on a bit of a "doomsday" tone. Perhaps that comes from my reading Revelation these days. Perhaps it comes from all I see happening in the economy. Perhaps it comes from... oh... who knows where it comes from. The fact is, I believe things as we know them are changing quickly and radically and where are we putting our faith? I choose to put mine in the living God, the creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ, His only Son. I choose to ask the Holy Spirit to make Himself known to me in ways that I've never known Him before and for Him to open my heart and mind to God's truth. I pray to live God's truth as much as I can and when I stray from it, I pray the Holy Spirit guides me back to it.
I also pray for this country and for what we are willing to sacrifice in the name of "tolerance." In the name of "rights" and civil liberties. Before we go upending everything and insulting God, let's sit down and truly talk out the cost of what we're doing.
May Americans turn back to, learn about and learn of the God they shun now and follow Him. May God bless America because at this rate, I believe she's going to vomit us out soon.


The Crafty Crow

I love this site. If you have little ones, you need to check it out. The Crafty Crow has some of the best, most fun crafts for kids. I've done several of them with Shortstuff and he loves them. The best part of them is once I've shown him how to do the craft, he's off doing it himself. He loves doing it so much I can't quite say it's too much of a good thing... yet.
The Crafty Crow is hosting a giveaway, too. Head on over and join in the fun. If you win, let me know!