Revelation Study

We started a study on Revelation and last week we discussed the "overview" and last night we had discussed Chapter 1. I think it's going to be an amazingly interesting study and I can't wait for Thursday night!

I may blog a bit about some of our deeper discussions but that remains to be seen. The rule for Lifegroups is what is said in the group stays in the group and while that pertains to the personal things people share, this study is going to become intensely personal very fast so I'm not sure how much I will be able to share here.

The conversation last night flowed a bit around angels, satan, hell and the decision to choose or reject God. We often talk about our place in history, how long people have populated the earth, how long before Christ returns. The things that happen, those choices made that lead people to eternal life - or eternal damnation - and all of the days in between. Thousands upon thousands of days. Each day we wake up and we get to choose God - or reject God - all over again. We live our lives, doing the routine stuff we do, go to bed every night and start it all over again the next day. Someday, though, we are told, the choice will be final. We will choose or reject God for the last time.

What is the angels' story? How long were they created before there was the battle and satan chose - his final choice - to reject God? How many angels chose to follow him? How many angels stayed? We know the earth has a population roughly around 6 billion people. Are there that many angels? Are there more?

What was their history? What is their story? What did they do for God in that time? We know they were created to serve God but what did that service look like before earth was formed? What, besides His will here on earth, do angels do now? What does their daily life look like? Do they sleep? Do they eat the same things we eat (probably not - I doubt heaven processes food...)? Do they have to shower/bathe? Comb their hair? Did they go to school? Do they ever get tired of their job? Do they have pay raises and job evaluations?

When did human beings decide angels look like cute little girls or beautiful women? I collect them - beautiful figurines, wall hangings. I have a cute little angel picture with a wonderful saying on my refrigerator about angels in the house... Where in the Bible is a female name given to an angel? Where in the Bible is anything feminine attributed to an angel? They're all fearsome creatures to behold - people fall down as though dead whenever one appears. People are told to not be afraid and even that just makes them capable of standing before an angel - I don't recall a story including a lot of confrontation or boldness. Just questions and agreement with what the angel says.

How glorious must Jesus have looked to John that he would fall down dead when Christ appears to him in the opening of the Revelation? I mean - John spent 3 years with Christ on this earth. Walked with Him, learned from Him, reclined with Him while they ate. They weren't casual friends, they were close friends, dear friends and still... John falls down as though dead.

Think about that - you are finally back in the presence of a dear friend, someone you haven't seen for a long time, someone you loved more than life itself. What do you do? You run up to them, you hug them, you cry, you hug tighter... You don't prostrate yourself in front of them out of fear and worship.
John did.

How magnificient is Jesus in heaven? I don't think we have words and I think our brain runs into an invisible ceiling - or wall - when we try to imagine it.

What about satan. Cartoons depict him in hell - gleefully poking people with his pitchfork, reveling in whatever torture he can come up with.

But... satan fell to earth. He didn't fall to hell. He is allowed to do whatever damage God grants him permission to do. However...Jesus holds the key to death & Hades (Revelation 1:18) NOT satan. Satan will be tossed into the lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20:10) along with those whose name is not found in the book of Life (Revelation 20:15). Same fate. Satan isn't put in charge of the burning lake - he's in it, too.

Where is his power? The deception, the lies... After last night's conversation, my heart ached even more for those who don't see the truth of Jesus Christ, who can't see the beauty, the amazing perfection, in the plan of God. For those who twist it to suit themselves while all the time missing out on all that God offers through His brilliance. My heart just breaks and I cry out to God for wisdom on how to share Him with those who don't believe. There is an urgency in the air, I think. It's as if we can start to see the end shimmering in the not-so-distant distance, like heat waves off the asphalt in summer.

We think we are so smart... We think we can do better on our own... We think we have it all figured out.

After last night, to me, satan holds even less power than the little I thought he had.

I also think I have to stop collecting angels.*

*That's a personal conviction - I'm not going to judge people as 'bad' for liking and/or collecting angels!


Laughter Lives Tuesday

Laughter LivesThis post is part of "Laughter Lives! Tuesday" on the Riggs Family Blog. Check our their blog to read everyone else's "Laughter Lives!" posts.

When we say "I love you" at our house, it has taken on a picture similar to the Riggs' except we don't use sign language. The "I love you more" we do instead sounds like "I love you more + 10" and then the other person says "Yeah well... I love you more + 100" and so on.

In case you are wondering? You CAN love someone + infinity to the power of infinity + 1.

And... at night, before he goes to bed, we do "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite" with a hug with our younger son. The thing is - the adult hugging him has to talk SUPER fast and he is trying to finish saying it all before you do. He hasn't beat me yet in the almost 3 years we've been doing it... He's getting close, though. :)

There is a lot of love at our house (and we're only slightly competitive...) and we spend a bit of time every day trying to figure out how to bring in more.



Bella Casa Etsy Party

You know how much fun I have with giveaways. I keep saying I'm going to have one someday... if I ever drum up the readership to make it fun to do. In the meantime, I will continue to tell you about the giveaways I stumble across.

Bella is hosting an Etsy party and she has 18 wonderful participants offering some wonderful stuff you can win.

I learned about it from Kari & Kijsa's blog (button on my sidebar). They're giving away one of their adorable bunny prints titled "Spring" and I'm off to enter for that as soon as I finish this post!

Kimba from A Soft Place to Land (another one of my favorite reads) is also participating in the giveaway. You really have to check these women out. So much talent!!!

Come on... click the links and join the fun. As always, please let me know if you win - I'd love the chance to be happy with you!

*UPDATE*...If it weren't Monday and if I wasn't supposed to be working, I'd add each participant and a link to their Etsy site or blog in this post. I just fell head over heels for Rita and her art and there are just SO many wonderfully creative people participating in this giveaway! I really hope you check it out!!!


The 25th of January

Today is the 25th of January. Twenty-three years ago tonight (8:43 PM, actually), I gave birth to the most incredibly beautiful baby that had ever been born (what - do I sound biased? :)). He weighed 8 lbs. 11 oz. and was 21 1/2 inches long (and didn't stop growing until he was 6'3" tall). Long and skinny he was born, long and skinny he has stayed.

We have definitely had our rough spots along the way and I pray every day that God penetrates his heart and that my son sees God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit for who they are. However - my son is one of the best people I know.

He is incredibly funny. A lot of people in my family are great with the one liners and comebacks but Chris, well, he takes 'em to a whole new level of funny. I always felt if he wasn't going to go to work as an exterminator (that idea came from when he was two and all he wanted to do was kill bugs...), he would be a stand-up comedian, funnier than Bob Hope (which would be a VERY tough thing to do but he would have pulled it off). Instead, my son builds things. He's strong, smart, hard working and good at what he does. His boss has promoted him, even while he's still in his apprenticeship stage. I like hearing him tell me his work stories - that he is happy is evident in his tone, his laugh and that he gets up every day at 4:30 to get ready for work. (yup and all I can say to THAT is YUCK!!!!)

He is surrounded by friends he's had since he was about 7 (when we moved into the town where he ended up going to high school) and is loyal to them to a fault. It is so nice, though, to see these "boys" I have known for so long stick together, know one another so well. They support each other, know each other's faults and secrets and love one another as guys do.

My son is an amazing big brother. He has bonded with my stepson and if it weren't for the fact they share the same first name (this seems like a familiar sentence to me :)), you'd never know they weren't blood brothers. My oldest has incredible patience with my younger. He will spend hours with his little brother, takes him places, "hangs" with him - sometimes for an entire Saturday.

He is my pride and joy. One of the biggest loves of my life. Happy Birthday, Chris. I look forward to what the next year brings to you!


History Continued...

Yesterday I wrote a bit about where I was in my life right before I met my husband. Fortunately, God didn't leave me there. For just over a year, my life was a whirlwind. I have no other way to describe it, really. From studying His Word, praying, serving...I grew and grew. Like I said, God lit me up. He set me on fire and I soaked up everything He gave me. It was the most joyful time I had ever had in my life to that point. What I could not imagine was how He could make it any better. Yet - He continues to amaze and surprise me.

In October, 2003, our church started a singles' ministry. I was one of the original members, I started its second week (week one I missed because I was in a class preparing for my baptism) and was a leader within a few weeks of that. That group opened doors for me, too. I met so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who sat in boats similar to mine. We grew, we bonded and then we ran into trouble. After all - when God is doing something, when doesn't the enemy worm his way in and try to wreak havoc on God's work?

Fortunately, despite personality differences and opinions on how to handle the issues before us, our group continued and it thrives today. Of course, those who were in the group originally are no longer a part of it - it has new members which is the way it should be.

There were so many joys from that group, too. Between June and August, 2005, four couples were married and those four couples met one another in that group. My husband and I are one of those couples.

In early June, 2004, I headed out to Westport. It is one of my most favorite places in Washington State. I love the beaches and I love heading to the ocean by myself. Nothing - absolutely nothing - speaks to me of God's power like the ocean. The roar, the waves, the sheer volume of it - and the fact that it stops at the shore - God contains all of that water. He tells it where it can and cannot go. I am always in awe of Him while I am there.

Well... for whatever reason, this particular trip, God had me thinking about my opinion of men, how I talked about them and how I treated them. He had been convicting me quite a bit because, to be honest, after that last break up I was SO anti-men even I didn't realize how much I didn't want them to be a part of my life, how much anger had crept into my heart. As I walked the beach, I chatted with God and finally gave it up - my anger at men, my low opinion of them. I handed back to Him every bad thing that a man had ever done to me (of course, it's been a learning experience - I still have to hand stuff off to Him in regard to men on occasion...). I also told Him that I was ok if He intended to keep me single for the rest of my life but I was also ok if He intended to bring someone into my life. Then I jokingly said "...and Lord? If you're going to give me a guy... could ya' make him about 6'3" tall, brown hair, blue eyes and if he owns a beach house... bonus!"

That was Saturday. Just shy of one week later - the following Friday - my husband comes, with his best friend, to my front door. One week. To my door. His best friend was part of our singles' group. He was borrowing a cooler from me for a guys' bbq and Aaron was with him because they were hanging out for the night.

My husband will tell you I was rude to him when we met. That I turned my back on him three times. My side of the story? The entryway into my apartment was not very big and I couldn't figure out where to go. Truth? As soon as I saw Aaron, I knew who he was - I knew who he was going to be - and I became SO flustered, SO shy I didn't KNOW what to do. We laugh about it. I deny being rude every time he tells the story but oh... that night. He might not have had any idea about me but I KNEW he was the man God intended for me.

By the way? Aaron isn't 6'3" tall (which was actually for giggles) but he does have brown hair and blue eyes (my most favorite combination since I was about 5, I think). No beach house yet but we intend to retire to one someday, God willing...

That was June 18, 2004. We were married June 18, 2005. Our first anniversary gift to one another? Our home. We were handed the keys June 17, 2006. While it hasn't been totally and utterly "magical" every moment of every day, it has been wonderful. God hasn't kept us from struggle (our septic system failed about 6 months after we moved into our house - we've had our share of stress) but He has walked with us every step through it. My husband loves God, me and our sons. Our sons have bonded like true brothers - you'd never know (except that they share the same first name) they aren't biologically related. God has blessed us and continues to do so.

This house, when we bought it, we gave back to Him and He has used it. He has used it to entertain missionaries, to offer them a time of rest as they come off the mission field for brief periods of time. He has used it to show His provision (the septic repairs weren't anywhere near the expense we were told they'd be!) and He has used it to show His love.

I wake up every morning more certain than the day before that God chose my husband for me, He chose my children for me. My choice every day is whether or not to obey and trust Him with my life. Don't get me wrong - I still run headlong into decisions without even checking in with Him. On a daily basis. They all, however, come back to honor Him - at some point, in some way, in His time. I don't surprise Him with anything I do, say or think.

There isn't any way I am His puppet. I am His willing subject. He is Sovereign in my life. I am His daughter through Christ, Christ's sister through His sacrifice, an heir in His kingdom. What I know is He has a will, a plan, a purpose for my life and it is what is best for me. He chose it before I was born and my name is written on the palm of His hand (Psalm 139:12-14; Isaiah 49:15-16). I wake up every day and choose Him again.

And thank Him for chosing my husband for me.


A Thought Is Born

Yesterday, in my Thankful Thursday post, I gave thanks to God for my husband and wrote "I am still amazed God chose him for me." That line gave food for thought to one of the ladies commenting on my post and well, after she mentioned it, spurred me down memory lane.
Why do I know God chose my husband for me? I had been a single mom for almost 18 years. Yes, I'd dated. A few long-term relationships and even a couple of proposals but nothing that was ever going to "go the distance." After a particularly difficult break-up, I found myself 35 years old, alone and wondering just what was I going to do. I was miserable. A certain Friday night in July, I sat on my couch in tears - crying so hard I couldn't breathe. I had no plans for the entire weekend, it stretched out in front of me looking as long as a month. I was alone - my own son didn't want to live under the same roof with me. As I cried and cried (feeling sorry for myself, you know), I started asking myself (so I thought) - out loud - "What am I going to do? What am I going to do?" In that watery, snotty, self-pitying mess I heard a soft but firm and kind voice "Come back to me."

Now...I don't want you to get the idea that I hear voices or that God speaks to me audibly on a regular basis (although - if He did - How cool would THAT be????) but that one time in my life... I call that period my "two inches from crazy" time. That break-up was a lot harder than almost anyone who knew me realized, I think. It was, truly, the only time in my life that the only thing that kept me going was knowing that if I took my own life, my son would hurt more than I could bear to consider. That was all I felt I had left but Thank God He didn't leave me thinking that.

At first I didn't really believe I'd heard what I thought I'd heard but He whispered it again. "Come back to me." So - I called a friend of mine, a dear, wonderful been-friends-for-almost-forever friend and asked her if I could go to church with her that Sunday.

As a sidenote? I learned the other day that I am on one of the first few
pages of her prayer journal (one she's had almost 10 years now). I have a
smiley face next to her prayer for me now... I have accepted Christ as my
Lord and Saviour. It was her prayer for me. God and His timing...

That first Sunday was a new beginning for me. God lit me up and I can't explain it any other way. He filled me with His love, showing me over and over again that I had SO much more to live for, so much He wanted for - and from - me. No - I didn't go to perfect light right away and I still struggle with some of that dark time. Although... now? That struggle is not self-pity but more just regret - that it took me so long to see God for who He is. I do know it had to happen that way, God wants me to use all of what I've gone through. I see that opening before me almost on a daily basis. That twinge of regret, though, still surfaces on occasion. It's also not the only "dark" in my life. I still let things get to me and fall away from His Word, forget my prayer... You know - typical human stuff. However, He always, always, ALWAYS reminds me of that Friday on my couch, His whisper to me and I come running back to His arms.

However... this is becoming a novella and I am straying SO far from what I had originally intended to write. So... I think I'll end this here. Make it a two-part post and I'll write the rest of my story for another day. Why I still can't believe God chose my husband for me...


Thankful Thursday - prayer

Lori at Lori's Relfections is hosting Thankful Thursday this week for Iris as Iris takes a couple of weeks to pursue some possibilities God has put before her.

For her topic this week, Lori has chosen prayer. Prayer is, to me, just about the most important privilege I am given as a child of God. I don't "have" to talk to God - I "get" to talk to God. He wants to hear from me. He may not always say "yes" to my requests, but He wants to hear what is on my heart. He wants to tell me what is on His. My prayer time is not just about rattling off a list of requests for Him to fulfill, it's about listening to His gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) revelations to my heart. There is so much in me that needs to grow and change as I, hopefully, become more Christ-like. It is only if I take the time to spend time at the foot of the throne of God do I become aware of those habits, prideful thoughts, etc. that keep me from being the person God intends me to be.

I am thankful that God loves me.

I am thankful, too, that in that love, He wants to spend time with me, talking with me.

I am so incredibly grateful that no decision is too small for me to bring to Him. He wants to be a part of every aspect of my life.

Ultimately, I am in awe of the grace He extends to me when I step out ahead of Him and don't ask His opinion on a decision. There are times when I forget to take something to Him in prayer and then there are times when I take it to Him and want an answer in my timeframe. I don't wait on Him. I am thankful that He forgives me those mis-steps and that I am still able to come before Him with my prayers.

I am thankful for those wise people He has placed in my life, giving me counsel and offering advice - even when I'm being too stubborn to listen. I am especially grateful to Him for my husband. A man of almost infinite patience (and he needs it, living with me!) and wisdom beyond my understanding. I am still amazed God chose him for me.

What love is open to me if I am willing to accept it! That He is always there, always faithful, never wavering in who He is, amazes me and awes me. Sometimes it leaves me plain speechless. For that I am thankful.

For what are you thankful this week? Make sure you head over to Lori's! Share your thankful list and read others.



Exclamation Point

I'm sitting here at the computer, tired of sitting around. I've been fighting another cold - on that has taken me down for two days. I'm hopeful, with the way I'm feeling right now, that it's on its way out because it's January and I've already covered what January means to me. I can't afford to be down for anymore time this month!!!!! Too much to do and already almost out of time. So...I'm flitting around, reading different blog posts and stumble across one that includes a link to discover what punctuation mark best describes me. Here's a shocker...I'm an exclamation point. Read on:

You Are An Exclamation Point
You are a bundle of... well, something.
You're often a bundle of joy, passion, or drama.

You're loud, brash, and outgoing. If you think it, you say it.
Definitely not the quiet type, you really don't keep a lot to yourself.

You're lively and inspiring. People love to be around your energy.
(But they do secretly worry that you'll spill their secrets without even realizing it.)

You excel in: Public speaking

You get along best with: the Dash


A Giveaway!

A great giveaway! Sandy at 4 Reluctant Entertainers is hosting a giveaway this week. Hurry over and check it out (click on the blog name or there is a button on my sidebar)! The winner is going to be announced on Wednesday!

Have fun and as always, let me know if you win. :)


Focus on the Family Interview with Linda Smith

I have posted some information on my human trafficking blog today about an interview on Focus on the Family with Linda Smith, former Congresswoman from Washington State who started Shared Hope International, an organization that fights human trafficking.

Please, head over there to Fight4Freedom and click on the link to the interview. It is about a half hour long and is well worth the time.

Please - do not listen with small children within hearing distance.


Thankful Thursday - Possibilities

Iris at Grace Alone... is hosting Thankful Thursday again this week. I missed last week - it was so busy, I completely forgot it was Thursday. I almost did it again this week. In my post this morning, I wrote how busy January is for me and how little I'll probably post. Thing is, I miss Thankful Thursdays when I don't participate. I'm praying I get around to reading a few, too because it always lifts my heart to read the blessings God gives to so many and so many of these women are awesome writers.

This week's topic is "possibilities." I love it when God opens doors and it's especially fun when you didn't even realize they were there. Iris shared some exciting news for herself and I will be praying for discernment and joy and plain fun with all He's opening to her now. For me, I'm thankful this week for the possibility...

...of my first speaking engagement on human trafficking. It's scheduled for May but I am just so grateful to God for the opportunity. I will spend the next couple of months taking everything I know, everything I have learned and put it together in what I pray will be a glorifying to God presentation. I also pray that it will motivate more people to get involved, see that nothing is minor in the battle against evil. I expect the attacks to start soon and I'm praying God grants me discernment to see them for what they are and the wisdom to get through them by keeping my eyes on Him.

...of traveling to another country in the fall. A country where trafficking occurs practically on every street corner. An opportunity to see the work God is doing there and to learn through my own personal experiences how other cultures deal with this issue and all that that means.

...of starting a new study in Revelation. I can't tell you how excited I am to dig into God's Word with my Lifegroup again. We are starting with Revelation - after just finishing Ezekiel - and we are all excited to get going.

...of developing new devotions for the women at the shelter. To dig in real deep and look at how God really wants us to encourage and support one another. How He takes our lives and uses them to help and strengthen one another in our experiences.

...of upcoming training with a ministry in downtown Seattle. The 24th and 31st of this month will be spent in 8 hours each day of intensive training, preparing me for street ministry, serving those women who work the night.

My list this week has me thinking of how many obstacles will arise, how many walls will I run into. The list of why NOT to do what God is putting before me could probably be written so long I think the paper would stretch a mile or more. However - it all comes back to one thing. God asks and in obedience to Him, I say yes. He will take care of the rest. That's why Iris' verse this week is the concrete foundation on which I step out in faith in 2009. The verse appears in each Gospel so to me, it is a Word of wisdom from The Word and goes beyond heeding.:

Jesus looked at them and said "With man this is impossible but not with God; all things are possible with God." ~Mark 10:27

May you be blessed with boundless possibilities!!!

Out There Somewhere

I feel like I have been on another planet for the last week or so. I sit down and start to type something out to post and get pulled away to yet another thing I need to get done.

My busiest time of the year isn't usually in December. I try to keep that relatively quiet and enjoyable. January hits, though and I have to go full-tilt to get everything done. It is a "fun" month for bookkeepers and accountants everywhere. The time between January 1 and January 31 may be a normal month but it feels about 1/4 of that time and there is so much that has to be done and is due by the 31st that you can sometimes feel like you're holding your breath for 31 days straight and just praying that absolutely nothing comes up that you "have" to do because there is already too much of that.

It will probably be the very occasional and short posts this month. Hopefully I can get back here again on a more regular basis in February. One thing I do hope to do is start sharing a "Quote of the Day" or something along those lines. Probably not daily but as I find something, I'll post it.

Today, I'm going to leave you with this:

"Everyone is trying to accomplish something big, not realizing that
life is made up of little things." ~ Frank A. Clark


Law & Order Comments

I typed up some thoughts on last night's episode of Law & Order.
Head to Fight4Freedom if you're interested in what I have to say.


Human Trafficking on Law & Order Tonight

The issue of human trafficking is imperative to me. No other word comes to mind. Yesterday I received an email from Free the Slaves regarding an episode of Law & Order that is airing tonight.

If you are home and able, I urge you to watch Law & Order this evening. Check out my post on my human trafficking blog,
Fight4Freedom, for details.

I can't stress enough how much I hope you are able and do watch tonight.


LPM Scripture Memorization

I've committed to heading over to Beth Moore's The LPM Blog on the 1st and the 15th of each month, writing out the Scripture I intend to memorize over the next two weeks and then do just that - memorize my Scripture. There is the option, too, of sharing a Scripture that one of the other Siestas puts out there and memorizing that instead of picking my own.

I'm pretty excited at this and am praying that God holds me accountable and keeps me heading back. Scripture memorization isn't my strong suit anymore. I used to have this amazing, almost photographic memory. It went away, though, when I started on some meds years ago for an arrythmia I have. People joke but truly - of all the things I've lost, my memory is the biggest one I miss.

So...I'm jumping into this knowing that God is mightier than any meds and my brain combined and praying that He writes the words on my brain and my heart.

My first Scripture for 2009 is:

If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor,
he too will cry out and not be answered.
~Proverbs 21:13
It's not news - the Bible often talks about helping the poor and by ignoring the poor you invite the wrath of God. You also invite the blessings of God when you help the poor, giving with a cheerful heart.

This year I hope to spend time focusing less on me and more on those around me who are in desperate need. As our economy struggles, that number grows larger every day. While we are not rich, we have enough. I am praying God shows me where we can cut back and have more to give away. I look forward to what He shows me - no matter how difficult - in the year ahead.


A Soldier's Mother

I was checking out some of the blogs I have in my favorites. I haven't been reading them for a few days so I decided to do some catching up. My younger one is in the other room practicing his piano and the older one is watching TV. I've packed up two boxes of Christmas decorations (plan on doing one or two more), vacuumed and watched Chronicles of Narnia so far today.

While I was doing that, there is a woman in Israel who is trying to remember to take her next breath. When I clicked on the link to take me to her blog (recommended by one of my "favorites"), I had no idea what I would read, what it would do to me both physically and mentally. Her son, if I did the math right, is very close in age to my oldest. The difference, though, in life experience is so vast I can't begin to fathom it.

We see the news reports, we hear of these places - so far away, so alien to us - and we know there are real people living through these nightmares but we don't know what they are like. Except for 9/11, what have we experienced in this country? I know I have never worried about rockets hitting my home. I have wondered where my next meal would come from but it did come. I have wondered where my son and I would lay our heads at night but we found a place. Never, though, have I wondered if it would be blown up. I never worried about exploding bombs as I crossed a street, rode on a bus, shopped in a mall, took my sons to school...

Here is a woman to read, a life to share even if it is no way other than via "blog world." She is a voice to us for Israel, an "ordinary woman" sharing her life with us using words. Vivid words. Striking pictures.

I lift her up to you, Oh Lord. Her, her children, her son in the Israeli army. I lift up all of those families - mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters...all of them living with war day in and day out. Hear them, please, oh Lord. End this war quickly, give them peace and comfort and I ask, Oh Father - please keep them safe.

Read A Soldier's Mother. She is worth your time.


New Year's Meditations...


Lori at Laurel Wreath's Reflections is hosting a New Year's Meditation meme this week. Hop on over, read it through and if you choose to participate, let me know. I'd love to read what you write for 2009.

As this year winds down to a close, the messages start coming fast and furious about "fresh starts" and "goals" and "resolutions." They always do. I get introspective at this time of year and wonder just what God has in store for me in the coming year. What will He ask of me? What will He want me to do? Will I hear Him? Will I respond "yes?" What goals will I set for myself? What changes do I hope to make?

I'm also thinking about 2008. It was the year when God really pushed me to "go to work" in the fight against human trafficking. It will always remain important to me because of that. I know that it was a "foundation" year and I so look forward to whatever God will be building on it. I get back to that same question in paragraph one - Will I respond 'yes?' and you have no idea how much I am praying I do!!

A couple of things I hope to do this year - read the Bible in chronological order (I had this typed before reading Lori's post. Funny how things like that happen, isn't it?). I'm looking forward to it - it just strikes me that so many things may "fall into place" and since I am such a history nut, I hope it makes a lot of what was happening when and how it ties together more clear to me.

One of my biggest dreams is to learn the original languages of the Bible (some day!) and read it in its original format. That comes from doing a precepts study on 2 Peter a few years back. What an eye opening experience that was. Eye opening in the sense that as beautiful as Scripture is, as much as we can (and hopefully do!) learn from it, there is so much we miss simply because our language does not convey the same feelings and meanings the original writer intended. (Did you know there are 6 different words in the Greek to convey different types of "knowledge/to know?" Neither did I until I did that study.) I don't expect 2009 to be the year I learn Hebrew or the year I learn Greek (or both) but perhaps this can be the year I figure out how to start.

I also dream and hope to open a shelter for women and children rescued from human trafficking. My heart aches day in and day out for those people who are caught in the vile web of slavery. How I pray for God to show me the way. How He wants the work done. A few years ago I asked Him to break my heart with the things that break His heart and while the work has started, my heart still cries out to do more. I can't help but be sick at the thought of those men, women and children who are, as I sit here warm and healthy, being starved, raped, brutalized and literally worked to death. Everything in me screams to jump off my chair, run to where they are and "save" them from the life they're living. Not practical. I'd probably be shot dead inside of 30 seconds of breaking down my first door but it is what I want to do.

I dream of wisdom and discernment as I live day in and day out with my husband and sons. I know I could be a much better wife and mother than I am. More patient, more creative, more interested in the lives of those I live with than I am. I pray that God reveals to me those ways I can honor my husband and my children by being a better Proverbs 31 woman.

This begins my 16th year of employment with the same company and heading into my 3rd year with job #2. I hope this year to take a good, long, hard look at the work I do and see if there is any way I can improve my job performance at both places. After being at job #1 so long, everything feels pretty routine and I hope to shake it up, make it better somehow. Whatever that looks like, I want to do that this year. I hope to remain an employee my employers are proud to have working with them and improve myself in ways I haven't even begun to imagine. Take classes at a local college? Perhaps. Just one of a few thoughts swirling around in my head.

Ultimately, my goal in 2009 is to live my life in a way that honors God. To listen to Him more, follow Him more closely and love Him more. Just more. More of the Father. More of Jesus. More of the Holy Spirit. I pray to immerse myself in them and cut more of "the world" out of my life. Turn off the TV. Tune out the enemy.

What are your dreams and goals for 2009?


Thankful Thursday ~ Looking Back

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
~Proverbs 31:8-9

That verse has been my beacon for 2008. What else will I take from 2008? To me, it was a year of branching out in service. The Western Washington Coalition to Combat Human Trafficking has been formed and we are eagerly starting the work God has called us to do. In addition to that, I started doing devotions at our area women's homeless shelter in June and that has been such an amazing blessing to me.

I am so incredibly thankful to God that He has offered me these and other opportunities to serve Him and to serve those I walk with through this wonderful thing we call life.

I am thankful that God is faithful in that He never asks you to do something alone. He has been with me every single step He has asked me to take and has directed my path - helping me to avoid those things He does not want me to do and putting me back in front of those things He did
want me to do.

I am just so thankful to God that He reminds us over and over and over again that He may have created us to look different but inside? He created us to worship and glorify Him so in that regard we are all the same. We all struggle with the basics - loneliness, worth, the path we are to take - and He remains faithful to remind us to keep our eyes on Him and the rest falls into place.

I am grateful that God gives us each new day. In that day, we can share His love with others and maybe - just maybe - be blessed to witness the day a heart actually changes with His love. What a joy it is to welcome a new brother and sister into the family of God!

It has been a privilege serving those who, according to our society's standards, have so little to nothing. I have been reminded over and over and over again, though, of the resilience of the human spirit when it looks to God for its strength and hope. What joy there is in that place!

For 2009, I pray God continues to stretch me and grow me. I have no idea what He has in store for me but how I pray my answer is "Yes." Yes, yes and YES!!

Read other Thankful Thursday posts with Iris at Grace Alone... Have a blessed 2009!